Lobbyists and companies or people who employ lobbyists in connection with federal, state or local legislation often must register with a government agency and file annual or quarterly reports on their activities.
The reports include information such as the clients for which a lobbyist works and the specific legislation on which the lobbyist worked on behalf of each client.
The reports usually are indexed by both the names of lobbyists and by the names of the companies or people that employ the lobbyists.
Some of the databases of lobbyist information are posted on the websites of government agencies.
The U.S. Senate requires the filing of lobbyist registration reports.
These are available in an online database that can be searched by either the name of a lobbyist or the name of a client. There’s also a database of contributions to members of Congress by companies doing lobbying. The databases are at:
U.S. House of Representatives
The House of Representatives has a similar requirement for lobbyist registration reports.
The reports are available in an online database that can be searched by either the name of a lobbyist or the name of a client. The database is at:
Click on the links in the Public Disclosure Search section of the page.
Lobbyists working on state legislation in California must file detailed quarterly reports with the California Secretary of State’s Office.
Summary information from the reports and the reports themselves are available online at the Secretary’s of State’s Cal-Access site at:
There you can search by the name of an individual lobbyist or a lobbying firm to determine what companies or people the lobbying firm represents.
Or you can search by the name of a company or person to see what lobbyists they employ.
In both cases, you can access the detailed quarterly reports filed by the lobbyists that disclose the amount of money each company/person paid a lobbyist and the list of the legislative bills that were lobbied.
To access the reports, once you’ve done a search and retrieved a page with summary information on a particular lobbying firm or a lobbyist employer, click on the link toward the top for:
Financial Activity/Filing History
Scroll down and you’ll find information on what the lobbyists were paid or what legislation was lobbied.
For more detailed information, click on a link to one of the quarterly reports to call up the document in pdf format.
San Francisco Bay Area Local Government Lobbyists
Some cities or other local government agencies have adopted good government or “sunshine” ordinances that include registration by lobbyists working on local legislation.
Some cities have put the lobbyist information on their websites. You need to check the sites of the local agencies to see what’s available.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, the cities of Oakland, Richmond and San Francisco have made some of the lobbyist information available online.
Oakland adopted a sunshine ordinance and puts quarterly reports by lobbyists online. Those are at the Oakland Public Ethics Commission website at:
Scroll down the page to see the list of registered lobbyists.
The links to the quarterly reports provide more detailed information, including which government officials the lobbyists contacted and what government action was being lobbied.
Richmond puts on its website a list of registered lobbyists:
San Francisco has a sunshine law and has put online its listings for lobbyists. That’s at:
At that page you’ll see links for getting alphabetical lists and information on:
- Registered lobbyists in San Francisco
- Business or individual “clients” that employ lobbyists in San Francisco
- Public officials who were contacted by lobbyists
About this Tutorial
This tutorial was originally written by Paul Grabowicz for students in his Computer Assisted Reporting class, and later modified for public use.
Copyright UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism . Any code samples in these tutorials are provided under the MIT License
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