City law defines lobbyists as those who influence city or elected officials to perform one of eight types of action, including the procurement of goods, contracts, and construction, or legislative bodies that set zoning, development, and use of property.
The city is offering a one-time amnesty opportunity for architects and engineers who have engaged in “reportable lobbying activities” but haven’t filed with the Lobbying Bureau at the Office of the City Clerk previously. Filing for amnesty offers the opportunity to avoid fines and penalties. Eligible practitioners must not have filed statement of registration since December 2006, while eligible clients must not filed a client amnesty report since December 2006.
The video above, produced by the City Clerk’s office, explains lobbying in detail while the video below goes into the process and requirements for an amnesty application.
Critics of the lobbying rules contend that the regulations are written too broadly and that architects and engineers could be unfairly penalized for lobbying while performing normal duties.
Michael De Chiara, founding partner at Zetlin & De Chiara LLC, a firm that represents architects, engineers, and construction services, called the program “imperfect” noting that, for example, a routine activity like seeking a variance from the DOB could be considered lobbying.
Benjamin Prosky, executive director of AIANY and the Center for Architecture, outlined AIANY’s stance in an email to AN: “The lobby law is an important issue facing architects practicing in NYC. While we cannot advise architects generally on whether or not to file for amnesty, we do think each firm must take this very seriously and get informed. AIANY has met with the NYC Clerks’ Office and urged them to provide more specific criteria for architects to assess whether or not they qualify as lobbyists. We have also urged them to extend the amnesty date. We are very concerned that if architects must file as lobbyists, the reporting obligations will be costly and cumbersome, especially to small firms.”
De Chiara recommended that anyone who is eligible should apply for amnesty by the June 30 deadline. A spokesperson for the Office of the City Clerk confirmed that weekly training sessions are held at the office every Wednesday from 3–4 p.m.