In testimony presented this afternoon before the New York City Council, the New York Civil Liberties Union condemned proposed amendments to the city's lobbying law that would require disclosure of personal information about lobbyists and their families.
Legislative proposal Int. 502-B would add to the city's Administrative Code a requirement that organizations disclose annually to the City Clerk the home addresses of every employee who engages in lobbying or who is employed in a "division" of the organization that engages in lobbying, as well as the names and home and business addresses of those individuals' spouses or domestic partners. This requirement, the NYCLU argues, intrudes on the privacy of lobbyists and their family members and could expose people who work for controversial organizations – such as the NYCLU and Planned Parenthood – to harassment, threats, and possible physical violence.
"The right to petition the government for a redress of grievances should not come at the price of endangering oneself and one's family," said Donna Lieberman, NYCLU Executive Director. "Publishing personal information about lobbyists and their partners would endanger the First Amendment and chill free speech."
The NYCLU has proposed additions to the bill that would protect the rights of lobbyists and their families.
"We urge the Council to adopt our proposed addition to the legislation, which would exempt lobbyists associated with controversial organizations from disclosing their home addresses and the identities and home addresses of their spouses or domestic partners, if there is a reasonable probability that the public disclosure of that information could subject them to threats or harm," said NYCLU Legislative Counsel Irum Taqi, who will co-present the testimony with Lieberman.