Philadelphia City Council considers ethics overhaul

    Philadelphia may at last have a law requiring lobbyists to report who’s hired them and what they’re spending to influence city government.

    Philadelphia may at last have a law requiring lobbyists to report who’s hired them and what they’re spending to influence city government. The bill was one of several ethics measures that got preliminary approval from Philadelphia City Council on Wednesday.

    Common Cause of Pennsylvania called the lobbyist registration measure a model law, noting it not only requires lobbyists to report clients and spending, but prohibits them from spreading false information.

    Councilman Bill Green is a sponsor of the measure.

    “We don’t have any requirement that lobbyists register, and we don’t know what they’re lobbying on,” says Green. “This will require an annual registration fee for lobbyists which will help pay for compliance. And it will allow citizens to know who is paying for what particular measure to get passed or defeated in City Council.”

    But good government groups don’t like one bill headed for Council passage. It would for the first time allow thousands of city workers to become party ward leaders or committee-people.

    Committee of Seventy President Zack Stalberg said there are reasons to restrict political activity, even for clerk typists.

    “Every clerk typist in this government has a great deal of confidential information at their fingertips,” says Stalberg. “Once you start using that for political reasons, all kinds of trouble can happen.”

    Mayor Nutter also opposes that measure. He could veto it if Council enacts it next week.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.