CHICAGO — Chicago's lobbyists — including public finance bankers, financial advisers, and lawyers who seek work on city bond sales — would face greater reporting requirements under a package of ethics reforms Mayor Rahm Emanuel will introduce to the City Council Wednesday.
Emanuel, who was elected earlier this year, said the proposals are designed to fulfill his campaign pledge to improve the transparency of city government.
"I promised during the campaign to reform city government and change the way we do business at City Hall," Emanuel said in unveiling the ordinance Tuesday, adding that it would help "rein in the influence of lobbyists and ensure everyone in city government is working for Chicago's taxpayers."
The ordinance calls for an expanded lobbyist disclosure database that would make it the "most comprehensive" in the nation, according to Emanuel.
The public could search the website after registering and have access to real-time reporting by lobbyists about who they are lobbying and the subjects of their lobbying efforts.
Lobbyists would also be barred from spending more than $50 in a single, non-cash gift to employees, and $100 annually. Lobbyists would be barred, as contractors are now, from providing loans to employees. They also would be required to disclose all campaign contributions to the city's elected officials and city employees running for office.
City officials said the reforms would apply to all lobbyists. Public finance officials who seek work on Chicago's bond deals must register as lobbyists.
Shortly after his swearing-in earlier this year, Emanuel signed a series of executive orders aimed at strengthening the city's ethics rules.
One order bars new appointees from lobbying the city for two years after their departure. Appointees of former Mayor Richard Daley are exempt if they leave by Nov. 16.
Lower-level employees are banned from lobbying the agencies or departments where they worked. Appointees to boards and commissions are banned from lobbying the board or commission on which they sat.
Another order prohibits city lobbyists from making political contributions to the mayor. One also strictly limits gifts or political contributions from city employees to their superiors, including the mayor.
Emanuel also signed three ethics orders that continue rules originally imposed by Daley.
One is a ban on political contributions to the mayor from the owners of companies that do business with Chicago. Another requires that city employees comply with hiring rules that ban political hiring and promotions. The third reaffirmed that it is the duty of city employees to report wrongdoing to the city's inspector general.
Under Daley, Chicago faced allegations that politics played a role in hiring and promotional policies in violation of court orders and that big political donors benefited from city work.
Questions were also raised over the propriety of former mayoral aides and department heads leaving for high-paying private sector jobs that sought to tap their influence.