Gov. Ricardo Rosselló has signed Executive Order 2019-031 to create a Lobbyist Registry in which participants must register and disclose any lobbying efforts at a Puerto Rico government agency.
Likewise, the executive order also establishes the creation of a so-called Transparency Code for all executive branch cabinet members.
“In the past, the practice by some people engaged in lobbying has opened the door for illegal acts. That’s why it is necessary to establish additional measures that regulate lobbying before government agencies and to establish a framework that promotes transparency in this professional practice,” according to the executive order.
The executive order also expresses the need to use current technological tools to increase transparency in public service, so that citizens have access to information that allows them to monitor government actions.
The Lobbyist Registry platform will be under the custody of the Justice Department and all its information will be public.
Anybody who conducts any lobbying activity before a government agency must register with the Lobbyists Registry and provide a sworn statement with the clients they represent. The lobbyist must also disclose the businesses in which they have roles either through shares or professional service contracts.
The sworn statement must also include a certification that the individual, shareholders, partners or members of an entity that provides lobbying services, has not advised, intervened or worked with the subject matter they are lobbying for or against as a government employee or contractor within the past two years.
The compliance requirement will apply to all shareholders, partners or members of a firm or professional entity — including but not limited to law firms, authorized public accounting firms, advertising agencies, as well as communications and permitting agencies — interested in lobbying or providing lobbying services, as defined in the executive order, before government agencies.
Moreover, the Transparency Code will prohibit all executive branch cabinet members from participating in any type of meeting — be it in person, by telephone or by videoconference — with anybody who’s lobbying according to this executive order and that is not in the Lobbyist Registry.
Cabinet members are not allowed to participate in any meeting with anyone who practices lobbying and who is related by blood or affinity to them.
A lobbyist is defined as any individual who acts as an agent of another person and who receives any type of compensation for carrying out lobbying activities, according to the order.