Chicago’s Governmental Ethics and Campaign Financing Ordinances (Chapters 2-156 and 2-164 of Chicago’s Municipal Code, respectively) impose restrictions on the interactions of persons and business entities who are City contractors or vendors (or who seek City contracts) with City employees or officials. This brochure summarizes these restrictions.
Note: This publication contains only an overview intended to help persons or businesses that have or seek City contracts to develop a basic understanding of their responsibilities under these Ordinances. To the extent this summary differs from the language of the Ordinances, the language of the Ordinances controls. For authoritative guidance about specific situations, please consult with the Board of Ethics. The Board maintains the confidentiality requirements of the Ordinances.
Other City and state laws and policies apply to persons or business entities that have or seek contracts with the City of Chicago, including but not limited to the requirement to file Economic Disclosure Statements, the City’s False Claims and Statements Ordinance (Chapter 1-21-010 et seq. of Chicago’s Municipal Code), and Illinois Procurement Code. For more information, please contact the City’s Departments of Law or Procurement Services. The provisions of the Governmental Ethics Ordinance do not limit the power of any other City agency to adopt more restrictive rules.
Note: any City department or agency may adopt rules that are stricter than these, such as a gift ban for its personnel. And,
No City elected official or employee (or their spouse or domestic partner), or any entity in which the official or employee (or spouse or domestic partner) has a financial interest**, shall apply for, solicit, accept or receive a loan in any amount from any person doing business** or seeking to do business** with the City; this does not prohibit application or solicitation for, or acceptance or receipt of, market rate loans from a financial lending institution, if negotiated at arm’s length and made in the ordinary course of the lender’s business.
No elected official or head of any City department or agency shall retain or hire as a City contractor any person with whom any elected official has a business relationship**.
A lobbyist is any individual who, on behalf of any person other than her- or himself, or as any part of her or his duties as an another’s employee, undertakes to influence any legislative** or administrative action**, such as, for example: i) the preparation of contract specifications; ii) the solicitation, award or administration of a contract; iii) the award or administration of a grant, loan, or other agreement involving the disbursement of public monies; or iv) any other determination made by an elected or appointed City official or employee of the City with respect to the procurement of goods, services or construction.
Each lobbyist must register with the Board of Ethics by filing a sworn lobbyist registration statement no later than January 20th of each year, or within five business days of engaging in lobbying activities. The annual fees are $350 per individual lobbying and $75 for each client after the first. Each lobbyist must also complete an annual ethics training program designed and administered by the Board.
Individuals who fail to register as lobbyists as required are subject to fines of $1,000 per day. Persons who retain or employ lobbyists who have failed to register as required are subject to fines of $2,000 per day for each day the non-registered lobbyist undertakes to influence legislative** or administrative** action. Any contract entered into, negotiated or performed with any person who has retained or employed a lobbyist who has failed to register as required is voidable as to the City
No person shall give or offer to give an anonymous contribution to :
No person shall make or offer to make any contribution other than in the name of the true donor to:
Contributions to a candidate’s authorized political committees are considered contributions to the candidate.
An entity and its subsidiaries, parent company or otherwise affiliated companies, and any of their employees, officers, directors and partners who make a political contribution for which they are reimbursed by the entity or its affiliates are considered a single person for purposes of these contribution limitations.
Note: by Mayoral Executive Order, City contractors and subcontractors and their owners and registered lobbyists are prohibited from making political contributions to the Mayor or his political fundraising committee. Executive Orders 2011-2; -4.
Additional restrictions on contributions are imposed by state law, namely the Illinois Election Code, as amended. Consultation with qualified counsel is recommended.
All City contracts shall include a provision requiring compliance with the Governmental Ethics Ordinance. Any contract negotiated, entered into, or performed in violation of any of the provisions of that Ordinance shall be voidable as to the City, including any contract entered into with any person who has retained or employed a non-registered lobbyist for the purpose of negotiating, soliciting or otherwise seeking the contract. Any permit, license, ruling, determination or official action of a City agency applied for or in any other manner sought, obtained or undertaken in violation of that Ordinance shall be invalid and without any force or effect whatsoever. Violators may also be subject to judicial penalties or recommendations for corrective action.
** Definitions of terms in this brochure marked with an asterisk can be found in the Governmental Ethics Ordinance (Chapter 2-156 of the Municipal Code of Chicago)..
^ For purposes of these limitations, “seeking to do business” means: 1) taking any action within the past six months to obtain a contract or business from the City when, if the action were successful, it would result in the person doing business with the City, and the contract or business sought has not been awarded to any person; or 2) any matter that was pending before the City Council or any Council committee in the 6 months prior to the date of contribution if the matter involved the award of loan funds, grant funds or bond proceeds, bond inducement ordinances, leases, land sales, zoning matters, the creation of a tax increment financing district, concession agreements, or the establishment of a Class 6(b) Cook County property tax classification