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Lobbyist Online Frequently Asked Questions

How long can I be idle before the Lobbyist Online site times out?

Lobbyist Online will time out after 30 minutes without activity. However, your work is saved through the last screen where you have clicked “Save & Continue.”

If I work as a lobbyist for a firm that has multiple lobbyists, how do I enter my information?

Firms should designate one user account through which all lobbyists and lobbying activity associated with that firm will be reported.

How do I enter a suffix for my name?

Type in suffixes such as Jr., Sr., or III after your last name, in the same field.

What if I don’t have a cell phone number?

Please enter another phone number where you can be reached into the cell phone field. Do not leave it blank.

Why do you need my photograph?

The Cook County Lobbyist Ordinance requires all lobbyists to submit photographs as part of their registration. Your photograph will also be included in your lobbist identification card.

How can I be sure to upload a jpeg photo?

Any photograph taken with a cell phone or digital camera is a jpeg file.

How do I resize a photo?

Open your photo in a photo editing program, such as Microsoft Office Picture Manager. From the program tools, select Resize or Edit. Resize the photo by selecting pixels as the measurement, entering “100” in the width field and “125” into the height field. If the photo is not that exact size, that’s OK; it will still upload. But getting it as close to 100 pixels wide will prevent the photo from being stretched or squeezed. 

If I register a new lobbyist after the annual payment deadline, do I have to pay a registration fee?

Yes. The registration fee is due upon registration for each new lobbyist and between Jan. 1-20 for returning lobbyists.

Why do I have to search for “lobbyist,” “client” and “person lobbied” rather than typing in their names first?

Your lobbyists, clients or the people you lobbied may already be in our database. Searching will prevent spelling or other errors that could create two entries for the same person or business. To search, you must type at least one letter into the “Last name” field.

How do I report a meeting where two lobbyists met with one commissioner at the same time?

Each of the two lobbyists should file their own separate report.

How do I report a meeting where I met with four commissioners at the same time?

You should report that activity as four items, one for each commissioner in the meeting.

Do I need to go through to the “Checkout” screen every time I file a report?

Yes, you do. Checking out insures that your report is submitted. You can submit a report many times throughout the year, but you must only pay your registration fee once.

Do I need to file a report for each reporting period if I didn’t do any lobbying?

Yes. Reports must be filed at the close of each six-month reporting period. Failure to file between Jan. 1-20 and July 1-20 triggers late fees.

What happens if I don’t file a report for a lobbying contact?

You can login and amend your reports. Please know all lobbyist information and activity is viewable online by the public, press and elected officials, per the Lobbyist Ordinance.

How do I know if I’ve successfully submitted my report?

You will see a printable confirmation screen with a confirmation number.

How do I make sure not to pay twice?

Be patient and do not click “Submit Payment” twice. If you do somehow pay twice, please contact our office.

Why do I owe so much money?

In 2008, the Cook County Board of Commissioners passed an ordinance to set an annual lobbyist registration fee at $350 per firm and an additional $350 for each lobbyist. Sole proprietors owe $350 each year. Non-profits owe $350 for the non-profit organization, but are not required to pay $350 for each lobbyist. The late fee schedule was amended in 2014 to $100 per day beginning Feb. 1 and Aug. 1. 

What payment methods are accepted?

Electronic checks, which have a $1.00 convenience fee, and credit cards (MasterCard, Visa, Discover, American Express), which charge a 2.35% convenience fee per transaction.

Why can’t I terminate my sole proprietor lobbyist registration or my firm’s lobbyist registration before filing a report?

By law, lobbyists and firms must file a final report before terminating their registration. After you submit a final report, a link on “Checkout” will take you to the termination step.

If a lobbyist no longer works for a firm, how can he or she be deactivated?

First, submit a final report for that lobbyist that details all activity between the last report and today. Then that lobbyist can be deactivated in the system and will no longer appear as an active lobbyist with your firm. 

Why is more information required than in the past?

The information fields reflect the new requirements of the Cook County Lobbyist Ordinance (Cook County Ordinances, sec.2-621, et seq.), amended by the Cook County Board of Commissioners Oct. 6, 2009. While there is more information required, it should be quick and easy to enter.

Will all of my information be online?

Yes, the Lobbyist Sunshine amendments were written to provide the public with more transparency about lobbyists’ interactions with public officials.

Can I prevent my information from being displayed?

The information you enter will be displayed in compliance with the Cook County Lobbyist Ordinance.

I’ve gotten married or otherwise changed my name. How can I change my name on Lobbyist Online?

To provide continuity from one reporting period to the next, individual names cannot be changed through this portal. However, because people do change their name when they marry or for other reasons, our administrator can make this change for you. Please contact our office about any needed name change at (312) 603-1121(312) 603-1121 or clerk.ethics@cookcountyil.gov.

If I was a sole proprietor, but then I incorporated as a firm and hired other lobbyists, what do I do?

Please contact us if you need to change your filing status from a sole proprietor to a firm. We can be reached at (312) 603-1121(312) 603-1121 or clerk.ethics@cookcountyil.gov.

If I discover an error, how do I make changes to a report that has been submitted?

Please log in to the site with your username and password – or your firm’s login information – and page through to the step you want to amend. Edit it and proceed through to Checkout in order to submit the amended report.

What if I want to change information for our account?

Please log in to the site with your firm’s user name and password. A “change password” option is in the upper right hand corner of the page once you have logged in. You can amend fields by paging through the site. You can deactivate lobbyists or clients by choosing the highlighted “Deactivate Lobbyist” or “Deactivate Client” features. In the future, you will be able to view inactive clients by clicking on the highlighted “View Inactive Clients” feature, and to then re-activate them.

How does a non-profit organization file?

A non-profit files through the same portal as other lobbying firms, but must click the box that says, “Check if this firm is a non-profit organization,” found on Step 1: User Account – Lobbying Firm. Non-profits must promptly follow the directions to mail copies of their 501(c)(3) status to the Cook County Clerk’s Office, Ethics Department, 69 W. Washington, Fifth Floor, Chicago, 60602.

Do I have to enter client information if I am a non-profit?

Yes, you do. Enter the organization’s information into the “Client” fields since you do not have paying clients outside your non-profit.

Can I file for the City of Chicago or the State of Illinois on this website?

No. You may only submit filings for Cook County through this portal. The City of Chicago and the State of Illinois have different websites and different filing requirements.

What is the penalty for violations of the ordinace?

$250 and a three-year suspension of lobbying activity for violations other than late filing, such as failure to wear an identification card.

Are lobbyists issued identification cards?

Beginning January 2015, lobbyists will be issued an identification card by the Clerk's Office. Per Sec. 2-642 of the Lobbyist Ordinance, lobbyists must display the ID card while engaging in all lobbying activity on County premises.