New rules mean Chick-fil-A is now a registered lobbyist at City Hall — along with many others
Under a first-of-its-kind lobbying ordinance that went into effect this year, more than 230 lobbyists, firms, and their clients have registered with the city — and the list reads like a who’s who of players in local politics.
New registrants include Thomas Finneran, the former House speaker, former Suffolk district attorney Daniel F. Conley, and Bill Linehan, the former South Boston city councilor. Established public relations and lobbying firms have registered, such as ML Strategies and Rasky Partners. The Boston Municipal Research Bureau, the city watchdog, registered. So did Chick-fil-A, the fast-food chicken restaurant that has wanted to open a Boston location.
The initial filing date was in April, though it included a 10-day grace period.
The ordinance had been years in the making and ultimately pushed through by the City Council last year, in a compromise with Mayor Martin J. Walsh. Under the ordinance, anyone doing business with the council or administration must register quarterly with the city clerk’s office, and must state the nature of their business and their client. Those who do not comply face a $300 fine.
The new regulations are intended to make public those who effort to influence city business, especially at a time when the city has been regulating burgeoning industries, such as cannabis and short-term rentals.
Prior to this, only a handful of lobbying and law firms complied with a little-known and unenforced city ordinance that required them to notify the clerk’s office that they’d be doing business with the City Council. Any lobbyists or advocates who dealt with the city otherwise went virtually undetected.
Walsh’s initially proposed his own version of the ordinance in 2016 following a Globe story that chronicled the close access that a Somerville lawyer, Sean T. O’Donovan – the former law partner of city corporation counsel Eugene L. O’Flaherty – had to administration members to pitch products sold by companies he represented. The mayor’s proposal, which would have handed out tougher fines of up to $10,000, languished before the council for two years and ultimately died at the State House, where it needed final approval.
Walsh dismissed the notion that O’Donovan had special access to City Hall, though he agreed that lobbying work should be made public.
In April, O’Donovan registered as a lobbyist with the city.