Assemblymember Kevin Cahill: Reform Bill Will Close Lobbying Loophole

March 22, 2005

Assemblymember Kevin Cahill (D-Ulster, Dutchess) announced the Assembly passed a bill he sponsored to limit the influence of lobbying on the awarding of state and local government contracts (A.9-c).

Under the current law, lobbyists are not required to disclose procurement lobbying activities. "Each year, the state and local governments spend billions on contracts for goods and services," Assemblymember Cahill said. "Yet, without proper oversight, taxpayer dollars are going to waste by granting preferential contracts to companies who may not necessarily be the most cost-effective bidder."

The Assembly’s bill expands the definition of lobbying to include any effort to influence the action of any public official – state or municipal – regarding procurement of commodities or services, construction and the sale or purchase of land. "By forcing companies to come forward with their contract-lobbying finances, greater transparency and accountability will ensure contracts are granted with the interests of the public in mind, instead of the implicit quid pro quo agreements we have seen in the past," Mr. Cahill noted.

The bill also would require disclosure of lobbying efforts to influence the implementation of rules and regulations, tribal state compacts and executive orders, as well as municipal resolutions. In addition to requiring lobbyists to register and disclose procurement contracts, the legislation will limit contacts during a restricted period to a designated contact officer – a move designed to reduce any outside influence on the established bidding process. "Designating this individual will bring accountability and establish responsibility during the procurement process and discourage any unauthorized lobbying activities," Mr. Cahill concluded.

Assemblymember Cahill said the Assembly’s bill is part of a broad package of reform measures aimed at improving the overall operation of New York government.