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Advisory Opinion 2014-2

FACTS
A not-for-profit organization retains a firm to campaign for its favored Council member to be elected Speaker of the City Council.  In doing so, the firm meets with Council members in an attempt to persuade such members to vote for a specific candidate for the position. 

ISSUE
Whether a firm that meets with Council members in an attempt to persuade such members to vote for a specific candidate for the position of Speaker is engaged in “lobbying” or “lobbying activities” pursuant to New York City Administrative Code (“Administrative Code”) §3-211(c) et seq.?

OPINION
Pursuant to Section 44 of the New York City Charter, “The Council shall elect from among its members a speaker and such other officers as it deems appropriate.”  See also Rules of the Council §2.00.  Members of the City Council elect the Speaker by motion at the first stated meeting of the calendar year after the expiration of the prior Speaker’s term. 

Pursuant to Section 3-211(c) of the Administrative Code, “lobbying” or “lobbying activities” is defined as an attempt to influence determinations by certain City officials, officers, employees or entities with regard to eleven delineated activities. The delineated activities include:

(1) any determination made by the city council with respect to the introduction, passage, defeat, or substance of any local legislation or resolution;
(2) any determination made by the mayor to support, oppose, approve, or disapprove any local legislation or resolution, whether or not such legislation or resolution has been introduced in the city council;
(3) any determination made by an elected city official or an officer or employee of the city with respect to the procurement of goods, services or construction or the solicitation, award or administration of a grant, loan, or agreement involving the disbursement of public monies;
(4) any determination made by the mayor, city council, city planning commission, a borough president, or a community board with respect to zoning or the use, development or improvement of real property subject to city regulation;
(5) any determination made by an elected city official or an officer or employee of the city with respect to the terms of the acquisition or disposition by the city of any interest in real property, with respect to a license or permit for the use of real property of or by the city, or with respect to a franchise, concession or revocable consent;
(6) the proposal, adoption, amendment or rejection by an agency of any rule having the force and effect of law;
(7) the decision to hold, timing or outcome of any rate making proceeding before an agency;
(8) the agenda or any determination of a board or commission;
(9) any determination regarding the calendaring or scope of any city council oversight hearing;
(10) the issuance, repeal, modification or substance of a mayoral executive order; or
(11) any determination to support or oppose any state or federal legislation, rule or regulation.

See Ad. Code §3-211(c).

Persuading a Council member to vote for a specific candidate to be elected Speaker is not one of the activities delineated in Administrative Code §3-211(c).  As a result, an organization that seeks to persuade a Council member to vote for a specific candidate to be elected Speaker is not engaged in “lobbying” or “lobbying activities” pursuant to the Administrative Code.  See id.
 
CONCLUSION
It is the determination of the City Clerk that an organization that attempts to persuade a member or members of the Council to vote for a specific candidate for Speaker is not engaged in “lobbying” or “lobbying activities” because such conduct is not a defined lobbying activity  pursuant to Administrative Code §3-211(c).   


MICHAEL MCSWEENEY, City Clerk of the City of New York
DAMARIS ACOSTA, Deputy City Clerk
PATRICK SYNMOIE, Counsel to the City Clerk
JAIME LYNN CHIRICHELLA, Deputy Counsel to the City Clerk

 

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