Tallahassee City Commission takes next step toward lobbying, ethics changes

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The potential ordinance changes redefine what a lobbyist is, ban lobbyist contingency fees and require lobbyists to submit contact logs.

The Tallahassee City Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to take up potential changes to the city’s lobbyist and ethics ordinances during their March Commission meeting.

The vote took place during an ethics workshop, where the commissioners considered and discussed recommended ordinance changes from the city’s Independent Ethics Board. The changes include sweeping changes to the city’s lobbying process.

The recommended ordinance changes more specifically define what a lobbyist is, ban lobbyist contingency fees and require lobbyists to submit contact logs to the city after lobbying a city employee or official. The logs would include what issue was discussed.

The recommendations also amends the city’s misuse of position ordinance to include actions “inconsistent with the proper performance of his or her office.” The change is meant to more specifically define what is considered a violation.

Ben Wilcox, a research director for Integrity Florida, signaled his support for the lobbyist reform during public comment. He specifically referenced a 2020 Tallahassee Democrat story in which he was quoted. The story raised concerns that firms edge the line between communications and lobbying.

“It’s been more than two years since the Tallahassee Democrat exposed these ghost lobbyists. My question is: Do you just not care?” Wilcox said.

Wednesday’s vote does not set the changes in stone. The City Commission will further discuss them and decide whether to adopt them during their March 9 Commission meeting.

Tristan Wood

Tristan Wood graduated from the University of Florida in 2021 with a degree in Journalism. A South Florida native, he has a passion for political and accountability reporting. He previously reported for Fresh Take Florida, a news service that covers the Florida Legislature and state political stories operating out of UF’s College of Journalism and Communications. You can reach Tristan at [email protected], or on Twitter @TristanDWood



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