Anaheim’s New “Sunshine” Ordinance Has Lots of Cloudiness

Last week, the City of Anaheim passed a new “sunshine” ordinance designed to restrict government lobbying by former employees but also prohibits the city from hiring people employed at Lobbying firms while requiring anyone who lobbies the city or government agencies that Anaheim has a board seat for two years.

The Voice of OC does a nice job of reviewing the vote and the debate surrounding it.  The measure, drafted by the council’s lone Democrat — Dr. Jose Moreno — has some holes.  And they are big ones.  The holes underscore a lack of understanding of what a lobbyist is compared with a public affairs person does while protecting staffers in the Tait majority who are registered lobbyists.

Moreno’s ordinance focuses on the word “lobbying” where a number of professionals who do work for various members of the city council focus on “public affairs.”  Public Affairs professionals and Lobbyists share many traits but there are stark differences — lobbyists work inside the government chambers (where the term “lobbying” was born – by people who waited in lobbies to chat with and influence legislators).  Typically, a lobbyist is paid a baseline retainer with a bonus tied to a specific outcome — getting a bill passed that favors a client.

Public affairs professionals typically work outside government chambers, seeking to influence public opinion and garner public support for legislation via public relations and social media efforts, but they are not lobbyists per se.

If the measure was drafted by Moreno to eliminate lobbyists from city council member staffs, Council member Denise Barnes’ policy aide Matt Holder — a hardcore conservative Republican — is the only registered lobbyist on staff.  Then he needs to go, but likely won’t because he’s protected by Barnes and Tait’s team.  Council member Steve Faessel uses FSB Core Strategies for council policy aide work, but Jeff Flint, who runs and company and is a registered lobbyist with the county, doesn’t work on Faessel’s “account” — staffers do and they aren’t lobbyists.  Holder says the county’s lobbyists database is “out of date” and has hasn’t been a lobbyist for years, but he still is listed with the county.  Holder’s form 700 lists him as a public affairs professional, so if protecting Barnes’s staffer from his own ordinance then it will also protect Faessel’s aides as well as those of Kris Murray and Lucille Kring.

This post isn’t a defense so much of the council minority’s staff but a defense of public affairs professionals versus lobbyists.  Lobbyists are typically paid on securing a particular outcome; public affairs professionals are not.  The Anaheim council’s Tait majority doesn’t get that.

Council member James Vanderbilt expressed concern about the ordinance being a hatchet versus a scapel; from the VOC:

Vanderbilt raised concerns about a provision of the ordinance that bars employees from accepting employment or receiving compensation from a person or organization that has entered into a contract with the city, within one year of leaving their job at the city.

In order for that provision to apply, the employee must have a substantive role in the awarding of the contract, and subsequently perform work related to that contract after leaving the city.

Vanderbilt raised concerns that the ordinance was too broad, given the number of public agencies, nonprofits and private entities the city contracts with.

“I’m concerned that we’re taking a hatchet as opposed to a scalpel to this approach,” Vanderbilt said.

It’s also unclear how the city can enforce rules on where a former city employee can work after they leave.

“There’s not an enforcement mechanism for this revolving door section,” said Acting City Attorney Kristen Pelletier. “We would put together administrative regulations that would apply to our employees.”

While the city can’t stop someone from going to work for a lobbyist after they leave the city, they can keep them from “being the person to come back and lobby the city,” said Moreno.

The ordinance has the unintended consequence of hurting small businesses in Anaheim who do work with the city.  For example, many small businesses would have to choose between bidding on city businesses and work with lobbying firms.  The Tait majority has no plan for creating jobs and in many cases hurts the very businesses they should want to succeed.

If Moreno really wants to add teeth to this, he’d expand his ordinance to elected officials and the businesses they run.  Mayor Tom Tait runs Tait & Associates — a developer for a number of real estate projects around Orange County.  While Tait himself might be prohibited from lobbying OCTA and the City of Anaheim, there’s no restriction on someone from Tait’s company from doing so using insider information on projects and budgets gleaned from Tait’s work with the city or the OCTA.

Tait already has a history of transferring a business interest to his kids to allow him to vote on a matter regarding Angels Stadium, just like President Trump transferred operations of his businesses to his sons; there’s no transparency to show who’s paying the property taxes on that property and I’ll take bets on how fast that property’s ownership is transferred back (December 2018?).

Will Tait and Associates bid on new OCTA contracts that Tait was aware of while serving on the OCTA board?  Tait might not lobby personally for it, but $10 says a member of his team does — loaded with insider information to give the company an edge.  Restrict *that* behavior.  But its hard to go against a political mentor even when they belong to the other party.


  13 comments for “Anaheim’s New “Sunshine” Ordinance Has Lots of Cloudiness

  1. tustin proud
    August 4, 2017 at 7:57 am

    Wow what a one sided hit job

    • Bill
      August 4, 2017 at 11:28 am


  2. Conrad
    August 4, 2017 at 9:22 am

    This article is poorly written, and leaves the reader very confused on the specific issue. The author strays away from the purpose of the article in so many ways that is incomprehensible. Clearly, this is opinion based.. there are several blanket statements with zero context to back them up. Check your facts, and calm down before you start writing.. Nobody who publishes on this site should come off this uneducated on the specific topic they are addressing. To all residents of Anaheim- I suggest you go elsewhere to gain knowledge on the sunshine ordinance.

    • Cpt Dan
      August 4, 2017 at 9:49 am

      He just hates Tait and Moreno. Never has and never will publish anything not critical about them.

      Hate Diamond, hate Tait, hate Moreno and repeat. Waste of a life.

      Dems about to lose their Supermajority, Dan. Why don’t you do your job and publish some fluff on Newman instead of this crap.

      • SandSnake
        August 4, 2017 at 5:08 pm

        Let me know when Moreno passes anything without his nose buried in Tait’s ass

    • August 4, 2017 at 9:50 am

      Sorry you feel its poorly written. The policy itself is poorly thought out and fails to distinguish between a lobbyist and public affairs professional. I actually wrote this Monday and had a number of details I had to confirm, so I did not rush this to publication. I also chatted with colleagues who work as lobbyist and others who work in public affairs — no one in Anaheim — and reviewed the story with them and they were fine with it. I’ll note the Kimberly Ellis people keep referencing a political consulting firm run by Eric Bauman as a lobbying firm when said firm does no lobbying. Instead, they run programs for or against ballot measures reaching out to voters, not legislators.

      • Conrad
        August 5, 2017 at 10:47 am

        I’m glad you got the approval of people entirely removed from the Anaheim political arena to drag Mayor Tait’s name through the ringer.. Is that supposed to give you credibility?

        Can you clarify where you get your facts from? It appears that you are making a lot of assumptions here.

        As I mentioned earlier- calm down before writing… it is evident this piece was influenced by emotion. And you again supported that by replying with such a defensive comment.

        I’m afraid you’re not very good at this. Consider taking up another hobby?

        • Dan Chmielewski
          August 5, 2017 at 11:27 am

          That’s a document on Tait seeking to transfer property rights to his kids so he could vote on the Angels lease.

          You will still find Matt Holder listed as a lobbyist with the County of Orange.

          There’s plenty of definitions of lobbyists and public affairs people on Google; and I consulted several professionals in OC on the difference (and see no reason to identify them).

          The Voice of OC is sourced here. The ordinance itself does not prohibit tait & Associates from pursuing city or OCTA contracts after the mayor leaves office; only that he cannot personally lobby for it.

          The facts are the facts. I’m afraid your reading comprehension isn’t that great. Try a simpler blog perhaps?

          • Doug
            August 5, 2017 at 5:18 pm

            Lol triggered.

            Someone seems a little sensitive about their writing. Conrad is right.. maybe you should consider something else. So quick on the defense for someone who appears to be so certain they know what they are talking about..

            • August 5, 2017 at 5:44 pm

              Really don’t care. Conrad asked for a fact check. I offered it. And on the difference between lobbyists and public affairs professionals, I think I know more than the author of the ordinance does.

  3. tustinproud
    August 5, 2017 at 4:17 am

    Your actions in the past continue to haunt you.

    • Dan Chmielewski
      August 5, 2017 at 11:28 am

      Define past? 30 years ago? Last week?

  4. OCDEM
    August 5, 2017 at 8:15 pm

    I am thinking someone : TOM TAIT ought to put jis money where is mouth is. Why doesn’t the Mayor of the “city of kindness” offer up his properties to the homeless?

    Two hundred yardz from his properties (oop’s his kids properties) sit 850 downtrodden homeless souls. Would not the Dali Lama (who rode from his borrowed Gulfstream 550 to the Honda center in a Tesla) say Tom should do MORE?

    TOM. CYNTHIA you ARE THE FACE of the city of kindness. You are not like that dasterdly corporation. You don’t spend your time in a mansion in Anaheim Hills. You are not a RICH KID who inhereted DADDIES BUSINESS……Right. You did this on your own. Right.

    Give up the land Tom. Be a leader.

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