“Lobbyist Bill Draws Strong Support” or “Local Lobbyists Oppose Lobbying Regulation Bill” are sample headlines that could have been displayed in The Garden Island article of February 11.
Over 50 people submitted testimony in support of Bill #2614 and only two people (a lobbyist and a public relations consultant) opposed the measure, yet the headline screamed “Lobbyist Bill Draws Opposition”.
The State Constitution requires every County to provide for “lobbyist registration and restriction” and Kauai County is the only County in our State without such an ordinance.
By definition a lobbyist is someone “who for pay engages, or is engaged in lobbying…”. Lobbying is defined as communicating with a”County officer or employee for the purpose of attempting to influence any Legislative action or Administrative action.” These definitions are modeled after existing legislation in the State and in other Counties.
In short Bill #2614 says if you get paid to influence government, then you must register as a lobbyist and disclose how much money you spend on lobbying.
Bill #2614 also BANS ALL GIFTS from lobbyists to government officials and requires those paid to influence government actions to disclose this fact when they offer testimony to the Council or any government agency.
Bill #2614 also forbids lobbyists from serving on certain Boards and Commissions that deal with the subject matter upon which they lobby and specifically bans them from serving on the Charter Review Commission and the Ethics Commission. The Bill specifically allows so-called “subject matter experts” who may be lobbyists to present to the various Boards and Commissions, but does not allow them a full-time voting seat at the table.
Because he is chair of the Charter Review Commission (correction – Mr. TenBruggencate is a Member and Former Chair of the Charter Review Commission), it is perhaps this provision that caused Mr. Jan Tenbruggencate a high degree of angst, resulting in him significantly misrepresenting both the facts and the intent of Bill 2614 when he presented his testimony. I will not surmise that he knowingly misrepresented the facts surrounding this legislation and can only believe that he just does not understand both the existing proposed Bill 2614 and the historic legislation with which he repeatedly referred to as a good example of what Kauai County needs.
Mr. Tenbruggencate also seriously mischaracterized the issue of lobbyist registration as primarily dealing with individuals testifying before the council. This component is in fact a very small part of what is traditionally considered lobbying activity. It is the “after hours” lobbying, the lunches, the dinners, the trips, the first-class travel upgrades and the one-on-one meetings behind closed doors that are for the most part invisible to the public eye that deserve full transparency.
The bill is designed to be easy for those who might fall into the definition but may not be full-time lobbyists and do not spend significant funds or time lobbying. The proposed requirements include simply one form to initially register and one form to report the annual money spent on lobbying.
Please see for yourself and read Bill #2614 in its entirety here: http://kauai.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=&event_id=465&meta_id=98400
Please also email your testimony for or against, and include any suggested amendments to CouncilTestimony@kauai.gov prior to the upcoming Committee meeting on Wednesday morning February 17th. It is helpful if you indicate “Bill #2614 and your position (support or oppose)” in the subject line.
While I may propose some modest amendments intended to improve the measures clarity and implementation, I am hopeful that the Bill #2614 will remain strong in spite of the growing opposition from the pro-lobbyist big business voices.
Note: The above was published in The Garden Island newspaper today, Monday February 15, 2016. As the introducer of this measure and as someone committed to passing a strong lobbyist regulation Bill into law, I am obligated to clarify, to explain and to defend this legislation against misstatements of fact and intent. Please help by offering your testimony in support of Bill #2614 today and prior to Wednesdays hearing by emailing email@example.com