At their June 7 meeting, the Milpitas City Council voted to adopt an ordinance that would set new requirements and prohibitions for lobbyists.
The current Milpitas Open Government Ordinance requires lobbyists to disclose key details, such as the issues that they aim to influence, campaign contributions given to elected officials, and any fundraising done for elected officials.
But, as mentioned in a City report, the code falls short and fails to include “specific requirements for lobbyists to identify themselves when addressing city officials, regular reporting requirements, and prohibitions on lobbyists making gifts to City officials.”
The ordinance passed by Council last night seeks to remedy the above.
The new ordinance would require all lobbyists to register with the City Clerk and provide a substantial amount of information on their plans and activities. Quarterly reports that delve into their specific lobbying activity will be due, and fuller transparency will be necessitated. A lobbyist must also identify who they are, who their client is, and what organization they represent.
Lobbyists will also not be allowed to give any kind of gifts whatsoever to any public officials in the City of Milpitas.
Councilmember Evelyn Chua initially proposed the idea for the new ordinance after reading an article in the San Jose Mercury News. It was about how 49ers CEO Jed York spent money on Facebook ads to urge residents to ask the Santa Clara City Council to approve a resolution to support bringing the World Cup to Levi’s Stadium in 2026.
Since York had neglected to register with the City of Santa Clara as a lobbyist, he was accused of violating Santa Clara’s lobbyist ordinance. This got Councilmember Chua curious about what Milpitas’ ordinance in regards to lobbyists looked like. When she looked into it, she found that it hadn’t been updated since 2008. To her, the original Milpitas ordinance seemed so generic that she felt compelled to propose a new one.
“This ordinance is really about openness and transparency, so that people know who is working for whom,” Chua told The Beat.
The vote was passed unanimously.