Pass the canapés: Now, lobbyists can serve appetizers, not report it
Lobbyists and their clients will no longer have to report when they provide public officials with appetizers and drinks at invitation-only events they sponsor, the state ethics agency decided Thursday.
The exemption approved by the state Fair Political Practices Commission to simplify the rules applies when a public official drops by an event, does not stay for dinner and entertainment, but consumes "minimal appetizers and drinks."
The change was opposed by California Common Cause, which argued the public has good cause to know when lobbyists treat public officials to wine and canapés.
"Lobbying entities should have a higher disclosure standard than non-lobbying entities because the nature of lobbying is to influence public decisions," said Phillip Ung, a policy advocate for Common Cause, in a letter to the commission.
The change approved Thursday, Ung complained, "would result in less disclosure for lobbying entities at a time when we are in need of more of it."
Commissioner Ronald Rotunda cast the only vote against the rule change, saying he wanted to delay action for a month to review Common Cause’s concern.
-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento