Ethics Rules for California Lobbyists

Today’s podcast is on lobbying ethics rules. There are only a few specific laws that address ethical rules for lobbyists.

Beyond those, lobbyists are encouraged to abide by a code of ethics in conducting their professional activities. These include the code of ethics adopted and maintained by the Institute of Governmental Advocates, IGA, an organization to which many Sacramento lobbyists belong, and a code of ethics adopted by the California Legislature.

So what are some of the state’s lobbying laws? For starters, there is the Political Reform Act, the PRA, which was adopted by the voters in a statewide election as Proposition 9 in 1974. The PRA contains the main statutes concerning the ethical rules for the lobbying profession in the state of California. The details of the statute concerning ethical rules are covered in the podcast.

In addition to what is covered in the PRA and Government Code, there are other state laws that impose certain ex parte communication restrictions on the participants in administrative adjudicatory proceedings and before certain state agencies, such as the Public Utilities Commission. There are also revolving door prohibitions that affect public officials who go into the lobbying profession that essentially preclude them from communicating with or appearing before any state agency for which they worked during the 12 months before leaving state employment.

Lobbyists are also subject to criminal laws, including bribery and extortion laws as well as mail fraud, wire fraud, and the infamous RICO statute.

As I said before, in addition to the laws by which lobbyists must abide, there is also a legislative code of ethics that the Legislature adopted for lobbyists. In addition to the legislative code of ethics, the IGA has a code of ethics that lobbyists must abide by.

The details of those codes of ethics can be found in the podcast. Thanks for listening.