ADVISORY OPINION 1988-2
The Office of the City Clerk received a Client Annual Report form that had been prepared, signed, and filed by the client's lobbyist, a law firm, on behalf of the client. The client had relied on part six of the Report, entitled "Designation," when it designated the lobbyist to file the Client Annual Report and certify to its truthfulness. On part seven of the report, entitled "Certification," the lobbyist-designee signed the report, thereby certifying to the truth of its contents. Together with the Client Annual Report the Office of the City Clerk received a letter from the client stating that it absolved itself from the contents of that report.
In accordance with the Lobbying Law (Administrative Code section 3-211 et seq.), may a client designate his or her lobbyist to prepare, file, and/or certify to the truth of the contents of the Client Annual Report?
The requirement of a Client Annual Report is contained in section 3-217 of the Administrative Code. Section 3-217 (a) (2) states in relevant part:
"Annual reports shall be filed by:* * *
(2) Any client retaining, employing or designating a lobbyist or lobbyists, if during the year such client expended, received or incurred an amount in excess of two thousand dollars of combined reportable compensation and expenses… for the purposes of lobbying."
While nothing in the law mandates who shall prepare the Client Annual Report, this section specifically directs that it is the client itself who must file the Report. The requirement would be rendered meaningless if client were not also required to certify to the truth of the Report's contents.
The Client Annual Report provides a means by which the Office of the City Clerk can corroborate the accuracy of the periodic and annual reports submitted by the particular client's lobbyist pursuant to section 3-217 (a)(1) of the Administrative Code. By having an independently submitted and verified report from the client, the City Clerk can compare the reports of the lobbyist and the client for consistency. This purpose would be frustrated if the lobbyist were allowed to file the Client Annual Report or to certify to the accuracy of its contents.
The designation section on part six of the Client Annual Report form is merely a courtesy extended to the client's Chief Administrative Officer to engage him or her, if he or she is not available to sign and file the Client Report, to name a designee so that the Report may be filed by its due date. However, that designee must be a person in the client's organization who has sufficient knowledge and responsibility to certify to the truthful of the contents of the Report. The designation section was not intended to absolve the client of responsibility for filing a report and certifying to its truthfulness. Consequently, it is not acceptable for the designee on part six of Client Annual Report to be the client's lobbyist, nor is it acceptable for the client to attempt to avoid liability for the report by failing to certify to the truth of contents.
In sum, it is the client who must file and certify to the truth of the Client Annual Report. The client may not designate the lobbyist to file or certify to the truth of the contents of the Report.
CARLOS CUEVAS City Clerk and Clerk of the Council
KATHERINE E. TIMON Counsel
WILLIAM THYMIUS Deputy General Counsel