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Some readers have written in with concerns about the Ethics Commission proposal to prohibit lobbyists from lobbying the people for whom they’ve raised campaign funds.

Does this mean they can’t talk to their City Council representative if they raise money for them?

No. Under this proposal, unless you’re a lobbyist, you can raise thousands for a candidate and still talk to them in once they’re in office. Those who fall under the strict definition of “lobbyists,” however, will find themselves obligated to choose to either fundraise for a candidate or lobby that candidate when they get elected.

Key passage in the staff report:

The definitions included within “fundraising activities” were narrowly tailored to ensure that the prohibition is not applied so broadly that it encompasses minor fundraising activities, such as a constituent who holds a small neighborhood fundraiser in his or her home. For example, “hosting a campaign event” does not include a fundraiser held in a home or office if the total cost of the fundraiser is $500 or less (this is an exemption already recognized in local and state campaign laws).

And what’s the definition of a “lobbyist?”

“Lobbyist” means an individual who receives or becomes entitled to receive the threshold Compensation amount during any calendar quarter for Lobbying, and who has had at least one Direct Communication with a City Official in that calendar quarter.

And finally, you ask, what’s “direct communication?”

(a) talking to (either by telephone or in person); or

(b) corresponding with (either in writing or by electronic transmission or

facsimile machine).

This might pose a problem at one of the many – what do they call them? – “mixers.” If a lobbyist/fundraiser is sipping on his martini and he sees one of his fundraising beneficiaries – Councilman Joe Schmoe – he may have to avert his eyes and run away.

I’d love to see that.

SCOTT LEWIS

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