By Taryn Luna
The Fair Political Practices Commission voted Thursday to change a ride-along rule to curb abuse of state lobbying regulations.
The ride-along exception was created decades ago to allow subject-matter experts to attend meetings alongside registered lobbyists. But California’s political watchdog grew concerned that other political operatives were using the rule to avoid having to register as a lobbyist with the Secretary of State and file quarterly filings to explain who they attempt to influence and how much money they spend.
The FPPC said the vague language in the regulation allowed lobbyist employers to hire well-connected consultants to influence legislation. The consultant would act as a ride-along participant in meetings and hire a lobbyist to attend.
The changes approved at the meeting state that the ride-along participant must work for the lobbyist employer and can only act as an expert on subject matter related to the legislation under discussion. Commissioner Gavin Wasserman was the only member to oppose the new language.