Transparency of government seems more opaque after one reads today’s Examiner report that lobbyists paid with San Francisco taxpayer money have openly violated local-government laws for the past four years.

Any lobbyist paid by the city for work on its behalf must file quarterly reports with the Ethics Commission. Following an inquiry from the Examiner, the Ethics Commission found no reports for 2008, 2007, 2006 and only one for 2005. The absence is not for a lack of activity–Newsom’s office reports $472,728 paid to lobbyists in 2007-2008 alone.

The discovery comes on the tail of a March Ethics Committee meeting, where lobbying officials convened to discuss a proposed overhaul of San Francisco’s lobbying laws. One of the changes proposed: requiring lobbyists to disclose activities, dates, and client names on a monthly basis. Given the engagement local lobbyists displayed in overhauling San Francisco’s laws, one might assume a certain degree of awareness of pre-existing requirements. (But one, apparently, would be wrong?)

Another point to ponder: how does the Ethics Commission plans to impose any new legislation, when they can’t seem to keep track of who is obeying the current rules?

As the Director of the Ethics Commiseration John St. Croix put it, “We all dropped the ball on this.”

Please make sure your comment adheres to our comment policy. If it doesn't, it may be deleted. Repeat violations may cause us to revoke your commenting privileges. No one wants that!