PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The city of Portland’s auditor’s office has fined one of the Portland area’s most influential business organizations for repeatedly violating city lobbying rules last year.
An investigation by the auditor’s office found the Portland Business Alliance failed to disclose at least 25 times it had contacted city officials to request access, funding or action, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.
Those unreported emails, text messages and other interactions with officials did not appear in quarterly statements the alliance is required to file with the city as an organization that often lobbies City Hall.
The alliance serves as the region’s chamber of commerce and lobbies for local business interests. The violations racked up by the group comes with a maximum penalty of $75,000.
But the auditor’s office fined the alliance $450 and recommended alliance staff get training on how to comply with lobbying rules.
Louise Hansen, the city’s elections officer, said the small amount, is partly because it had been seven years since the alliance had been dinged for lobbying violations and this notice was “a new warning.”
She also said the office also rarely issues fines for these violations, but, in this case, “it wasn’t a quantity of violations where we could overlook the matter and simply issue another warning.”
In an emailed statement to the media outlet, the alliance said close communication between a chamber of commerce and city staff was to be expected, especially during a pandemic year.
““We take our role in this public-private partnership very seriously," the statement said. “We will be carefully reviewing this letter and transparently working with the auditor’s office to clarify each and every exchange.”