Ballard rolls out tougher requirements for lobbyists

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Lobbyists who earn more than $1,000 annually to sway Indianapolis or Marion County public officials will be required to register and report all of their activities under a new lobbyist-registration process to be announced by Mayor Greg Ballard on Wednesday.

Amy Waggoner, Ballard’s assistant chief of staff, said, beginning Jan. 1, lobbyists must register at no cost at within 15 days of their initial contact with any city or county agency.

Then, in 2011, any compensated lobbyist paid at least $1,000 for his or her attempts to influence local officials or agency heads must detail those activities in a report. Salespeople are excluded from the disclosure requirement.

In 2011, Ballard’s administration expects to launch an online database allowing the public to scrutinize lobbying activity.

Ballard modeled his process on the one Gov. Mitch Daniels requires. At the state level, lobbyists must register with the Indiana Department of Administration.

“This is just part of Mayor Ballard’s goal to make city and county government more open and transparent,” Waggoner said. “People lobbying with the state will be very familiar with our rules.”

The new lobbyist registration requirement is the next phase of an ethics reform effort Ballard introduced last year, when he put a $25 limit on the individual gifts or meals that city and county employees and appointees can accept. Vendors and lobbyists have a $100 annual cap, which effectively means they can take local government employees out to eat about four times a year.

The $25 limit does not apply to local elected officials. Instead, local elected officials must disclose any gifts they receive valued over $100 on their annual economic statement of interest.

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