Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the New County Lobbying Ordinance


Q. Who needs to register as a lobbyist?
A. “Lobbyist” means any person who is employed and receives payment, or who contracts for economic consideration, for the purpose of Lobbying on behalf of a Principal. “Lobbying” means seeking to influence a decision through oral or written communication or an attempt to obtain the good will of any County Commissioner, member of a local municipal governing body, mayor or chief executive officer that is not a member of a local municipal governing body, advisory board member, or county or municipal employee with respect to the passage, defeat or modification of any item which may foreseeably be presented for consideration to the Advisory Board, Board of County Commissioners or the local municipal governing body lobbied.

Q. Who is not required to register as a lobbyist?
A. “Lobbyist” shall not include any government employee, contract employee or independent contractor of a governmental agency or entity lobbying on behalf of that agency or entity, any elected local official when the official is lobbying on behalf of the governmental agency which the official serves, or any member of the official's staff when such staff member is lobbying on an occasional basis on behalf of the governmental agency by which the staff member is employed. Any person who lobbies only in his or her individual capacity for the purpose of self-representation or any person who appears only before the board or advisory board in a quasi-judicial proceeding is not required to register.

Q. If I am an employee of a company, and am not employed primarily for the purpose of lobbying, but as part of my job I occasionally lobby a County Commissioner, member of a local municipal governing body, mayor or chief executive officer that is not a member of a local municipal governing body, advisory board member, or county or municipal employee, do I need to register as a lobbyist?
A. Typically, employees whose primary responsibilities to their employer do not include lobbying are not required to register when they occasionally lobby for their employer and not on behalf of a principal.  However, if you are in doubt or have a particular situation that needs clarification, please contact the Commission on Ethics office for an advisory opinion.

Q. How long is my registration valid?
A.  It does not expire until you submit a withdrawal form, however, you must file a new registration form each time you are retained by a new principal.

Q. Is there a fee for registering?
A. Yes, there is a $25.00 fee for each principal registered.

Q. Are original signatures required for registration?
A. An original signature is required by both the principal and the lobbyist when using paper lobbyist registration forms. If you register on-line, affirmative confirmation is required by both the lobbyist and principal via the email authorization system set up by the County.

Q. Am I required to register as a lobbyist before the County and all Municipalities?
A. Lobbyists are only required to register in the government entities they plan to lobby. Most municipalities participate in this registration system. If you do not find the name of a government entity in the on-line registration system, you should contact that government entity to determine if they have a separate lobbyist registration system.

Q. Where do I go to register as a lobbyist?
A. On-line lobbyist registration is available at discover.pbcgov.org by clicking on lobbyist information in the “Government” web site section.
Paper lobbyist registration forms should be turned in to County Administration on the 11th floor of the Governmental Center. Lobbyist registration forms are available in County Administration or at County departments. You may also contact Tammy Gray, (561) 355-1850, and a form can be e-mailed or faxed to you. Paper registration forms are available on the County’s website: http://discover.pbcgov.org/legislativeaffairs/Pages/Lobbying_Forms.aspx

Q. What additional information is required of the lobbyist?
A.  Commencing November 1, 2011 and on November 1 of each year thereafter, the lobbyist is required to submit an expenditure report listing all expenses made by the lobbyist per principal in lobbying county and municipal officials and employees in excess of twenty-five dollars ($25.00) for the preceding year. A report shall be filed even if there have been no expenditures during the reporting period. The expenditure form is available on the County’s website: http://discover.pbcgov.org/legislativeaffairs/Misc_Documents/Lobbyist_Registration_Ordinance.pdf

Q. What happens if I fail to register before engaging in lobbying activities?
A. Failure to properly register as required by Section 3 of this Ordinance shall be deemed a single violation, punishable by a fine of two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00) per day for each day an unregistered Lobbyist engages in Lobbying activity, in an amount not to exceed a total of two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500.00).  Willful violations of this ordinance may be prosecuted by the State Attorney as a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1000 fine.

Q. Who needs to sign the contact log?
A. Except when appearing at a public meeting before an elected county or municipal body or any Advisory Board, all Persons shall sign, for each instance of Lobbying, contact logs maintained and available in the office of reception of each department of county or municipal government.

Q. What do I need to do if I engage in lobbying activity outside of governmental offices?
A. In the event that a Lobbyist engages in Lobbying which is outside of governmental offices, and which is a scheduled appointment initiated by any person for the purpose of Lobbying, the Lobbyist shall advise in writing the commissioner, municipal official, or employee’s department office of the calendar scheduling of the appointment and the subject matter of the Lobbying contact.

Q. What is a “Cone of Silence?”
A. “Cone of Silence” means a prohibition on any communication, except for written correspondence, regarding a particular Request for Proposal, Request for Qualification, bid, or any other competitive solicitation between any person or person’s representative seeking an award from such competitive solicitation, and any County Commissioner or Commissioner’s staff, any member of a local governing body or a mayor or chief executive officer that is not a member of the local governing body, or the Mayor’s or Chief executive officer’s staff or any government employee authorized to act on behalf of the commission or local governing body to award a particular contract.

Q. When does the “Cone of Silence” begin?
A. The Cone of Silence shall be in effect as of the deadline to submit the proposal, bid, or other response to a competitive solicitation.

Q. How may I communicate to a commissioner, municipal official or public employee authorized to act on behalf of the governing body during the imposed “Cone of Silence?”
A. By written correspondence only.

Q. Are there any other circumstances when I may communicate during the “Cone of Silence?”
A. In addition to written communication, the following is permissible unless specifically prohibited by the applicable competitive solicitation process: Oral communications at pre-bid conferences, oral presentations before selection committees, contract negotiations during any public meeting, presentations made to the board or local municipal governing body, contract negotiations between any employee and the intended awardee, or any dispute resolution process following the filing of a protest between the person filing the protest and any employee.

Q. When does the Cone of Silence End?
A. The Cone of Silence shall terminate at the time the commission, local municipal governing body or county or municipal Department authorized to act on behalf of the commission or local municipal governing body, awards or approves a contract, rejects all bids or responses, or otherwise takes action which ends the solicitation process.

Q. What are the penalties for a violation of the “Cone of Silence?”
A. Violations of the Cone of Silence set forth in Section 5 of this ordinance shall be punishable by a fine of two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00) for each violation.  Willful violations of this ordinance may be prosecuted by the State Attorney as a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1000 fine.

Q. What are the penalties if I violate the provisions of this ordinance more than one time?
A. Any Person who violates the provisions of this ordinance more than once during a twelve-month period shall be prohibited from Lobbying as follows: A second violation shall result in a prohibition of one year; a third violation shall result in a prohibition of two years.

If you have any additional questions, please contact
Tammy Gray, Public Affairs 
via E-m​ail or at 561-355-1850.
or
Mark E. Bannon, Esq., Executive Director Commission on Ethics
via E-mail or at 561-233-0725.​