San Juan – Governor Ricardo Rosselló signed Executive Order 2019-031 to create a Lobbyist Registry in which lobbyists must register and disclose any lobbying activity before a Puerto Rico government agency.
Likewise, the decree orders the creation of a Transparency Code for all Executive Branch cabinet members.
“In the past, the practice of some people engaged in lobbying has opened the door for illegal acts. That is why it is necessary to establish additional and novel measures that regulate lobbying before government agencies and to establish a framework that promotes transparency in this professional practice”, reads the Executive Order.
The executive order also expresses the need to use current technological tools to increase transparency in public service, so that citizens have access to information that allows them to monitor government actions.
The Lobbyist Registry platform will be under the custody of the Department of Justice and all its information will be public.
Any person who is a lobbyist and carries out any lobbying activity before a government agency must register with the Lobbyists Registry and provide a sworn statement with the clients they represents before the Government of Puerto Rico; the lobbyist must also disclose the businesses in which they have roles either through shares or professional service contracts.
Also, the sworn statement must include a certification that the individual, shareholders, partners or members of an entity that provides lobbying services, has not advised, intervened or worked with the subject matter they are lobbying for or against as a government employee or contractor within the past 2 years.
This compliance requirement will apply to all shareholders, partners or members of a firm or professional entity – including but not limited to law firms, authorized public accounting firms, advertising agencies, as well as communications and permitting agencies – interested in lobbying or providing lobbying services, as defined in the executive order, before government agencies.
Moreover, the Transparency Code will prohibit all Executive Branch cabinet members from participating in any type of meeting – be it in person, by telephone or by videoconference – with any person who practices lobbying according to this executive order and that is not duly registered in the Lobbyist Registry.
Regardless of the above, the measure also specifies the prohibition to Executive Branch cabinet members to participate in any meeting – be it in person, by telephone or by videoconference – with any person who practices lobbying and who is related by blood or affinity – up to the fourth degree of consanguinity and second degree of affinity – to the cabinet member.
For purposes of this order, a lobbyist is defined as any individual who acts as an agent of another person and who receives any type of compensation for carrying out lobbying activities.
Lobbying activities shall be understood as verbal or written communications, by any means, directed to an officer of the Executive Branch and carried out on behalf of another person in relation to the preparation, adoption, amendment or repeal of any regulation, administrative order, executive order, public policy, as well as any position assumed by the Government of Puerto Rico.
The administration or execution of any state program or public policy shall also be understood as lobbying activities.
This may include negotiating, granting or administering any contract to offer or receive goods or services, loans, obtaining permits or licenses, as well as intervening in bidding processes and awarding formal or informal auctions.
Finally, lobbying activities will include the preparation and formulation of legislation; as well as any other governmental matter that influences or impacts the formulation, implementation and execution of public policy.