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Citing First Amendment Concerns, NYCLU Sharply Criticizes Adoption Of Changes To City Lobbying Law

The New York Civil Liberties Union today sharply criticized the New York City Council and Mayor Michael Bloomberg for adopting amendments to the city’s lobbying law that endangers lobbyists and their families and stifle free speech.

“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 will infringe upon their personal privacy, subject them to potential bodily harm, endanger the First Amendment, and chill free speech.”

The mayor signed the bill after NYCLU and Planned Parenthood of New York City testified in opposition to it this afternoon. The organizations have also testified against the bill at previous hearings, and the NYCLU proposed additions to the bill that would have protected the rights of lobbyists and their families.

The NYCLU is now considering a legal challenge to the legislation.

The legislation adds 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.

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