You may recall that shady downtown municipal lobbying firm Liner LLP was hired by the even shadier anonymous Delaware incorporated United Downtown LA to lobby against the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation effort and that I turned them in to the City Ethics Commission for failing to amend their disclosure forms to disclose United Downtown as a client as required by LAMC §48.07.
Well, yesterday was the filing deadline for Second Quarter disclosures, and Liner filed theirs on time. It’s required by law for lobbying firms like Liner to disclose their clients and also how much money they got paid by each client. This time they actually did list United DTLA1 and it turns out that they were paid a stunning total of $45,010.40 to lobby against the SRNC. And this is just for Q2.2 It’s likely, or at least possible, that when the Ethics Commission gets around to investigating my complaint they’ll find that Liner was paid even more in Q1.
If you read my earlier article most of this material will be familiar to you, but there’s at least one major new thing, which only occurred to me yesterday. Recall that according to Delgadillo and Nichols, the client who was paying them to oppose the Skid Row Neighborhood Council was a shady anonymous Delaware-incorporated LLC known as United DTLA. According to Delaware state records, United DTLA was incorporated on March 3, 2017.
This means that if and when Liner, Matthew Nichols, and Rockard Delgadillo file their required client disclosures for lobbying that they carried out after March 3, they’re going to disclose nothing more than United DTLA, that shady anonymous Delaware corporation. However, that shady anonymous Delaware corporation did not exist on February 15, 2017, on which day Matthew T. Nichols attended a Town Hall meeting about the Skid Row Neighborhood Council sponsored by the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment. And according to the definition of “lobbying activity” found in the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance at LAMC §48.02, the following is included:
… attending or monitoring City meetings, hearings or other events.
So if Matthew Nichols was carrying out compensated lobbying activities on February 15 but his putative client wasn’t even conjured into existence until March 3, he’s going to have to disclose someone other than United DTLA. And what’s the chance that this other client will be anonymous? Very low, I’m guessing, since if the zillionaires already had an anonymous entity through which to hire lobbyists, why would they go and invent a new one a few weeks later? I suppose we’ll find out, although don’t hold breath, friends. The Ethics Commission moves slowly, but it certainly does move.
The Los Angeles Municipal Lobbying Ordinance, known to the cognoscenti as the MLO and found at Article 8 of the LAMC,3 regulates professional paid lobbyists in the City of Los Angeles.4 It also regulates so-called lobbying firms, which are companies that employ lobbyists to lobby on behalf of paying clients.5
One requirement that the MLO puts on lobbying firms and lobbyists is registration with the City.6 In particular, it is required7 that:
A lobbyist or lobbying firm shall register each client on whose behalf or from which the lobbyist or lobbying firm receives or becomes entitled to receive $250 or more in a calendar quarter for engaging in lobbying activities related to attempting to influence municipal legislation.
Note also that you might rightly wonder if the Skid Row Neighborhood Council Formation process counts as “municipal legislation.” It does, but the reason’s a little technical.8 Also, note that Liner LLP is a lobbying firm and they filed the required registration form for 2017, listing all their clients. And, although Rocky Delgadillo is employed by Liner, he’s not registered as a lobbyist himself. However, when he wrote his famous letter to DONE advocating against the SRNC he wrote as a Liner employee.
It’s almost certain that Liner received the negligible sum of $250 from their client, United DTLA, for their services. According to the MLO,9 then, Liner is required to disclose “The client’s name, business or residence address, and business or residence telephone number” as well as “The item or items of municipal legislation for which the firm was retained to represent the client.” But look again at Liner’s registration form. There is nothing there about their client, United DTLA.
Naturally, though, it’s possible that lobbying firms might add clients after they file their annual registrations. In this case they registered on January 1, 2017, but certainly didn’t start representing United DTLA until around February and quite possibly not until March. The law has a procedure for this kind of thing:10
Lobbyists and lobbying firms shall file amendments to their registration statements within 10 days of any change in information required to be set forth on the registration statement.