Lobbyists may have to wear badges

August 6, 2008 8:25:28 PM PDT
Lobbyists are a part of the government scene whether in the halls of Congress, the State Legislature or City Hall helping advocate for a cause, business interest or political position.

Now one San Francisco supervisor wants everyone to know who they are.

Alex Clemens is a lobbyist. He gets paid by clients to try to influence elected officials in San Francisco. Under a new proposal Clemens may be required to wear a 'scarlet letter' of sorts, a badge with the word lobbyist and his name.

He's okay with that.

"It might wreck my fashion choice when I wake up in the morning. Is this badge going to go with this suit? But beyond that, no, we've got nothing to hide in San Francisco," said Clemens.

Supervisor Chris Daly is sponsoring the legislation which would require lobbyists to wear ID's in any city building whenever they're chatting up officials. He says it would signal the public what's going on.

"They may not know who the lobbyists are or the amount of access that lobbyists have so for me it's just a little piece of good government," said Daly.

Lobbyists already have to register with the city's Ethics Commission and file quarterly reports on their clients and compensation.

There are currently 43 registered lobbyists registered with the city that would be required to wear a special badge.

According to supervisor Bevan Dufty, the days of wheeling and dealing in smoky backrooms are over. Lobbying is out in the open and badges are dehumanizing.

"Putting this badge on somebody is offensive on a lot of different levels. I'm not comfortable with it, I'm not voting for it. Got better things to spend my time on," said Dufty.

Lobbyist Sam Singer says he'll comply if the law passes, but thinks it's silly and unnecessary.

"Everybody knows who the players are at City Hall and if you're a member of the public it's not too hard to figure out who is an elected leader and who's an advocate there," said Singer.

There's a hearing on Daly's proposal on Thursday morning. It's unclear if any lobbyists will come to lobby.


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