Celebrities often use their star power to shine a light on otherwise overlooked issues. Soccer star David Beckham has inadvertently used his celebrity status to highlight a trap for the famous and non-famous alike — local lobbying regulations. Last Wednesday, The Miami-Dade County Commission on Ethics and Public Trust cleared “Becks” of violating the county’s lobbying law when he toured potential sites for a new soccer stadium with county officials and had a private dinner with the Mayor. According to the Miami Herald, the Commission found that Beckham’s tour of potential stadium sites with county officials was a “meet and greet,” exempt from the lobbyist registration rules. The Commission’s Executive Director, Joseph Centorino, told the Herald that Commission staff found no lobbying occurred at the dinner. The Commission’s report determined, however, that Beckham would have to register if he continued meeting with officials about a stadium deal.
Beckham’s plight illustrates how easy it is to run afoul of city and county lobbying laws. “Lobbying” brings to mind activity in state capitals and Washington, D.C., but many local jurisdictions have their own laws about lobbying local officials — besides Miami-Dade, New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Dallas all regulate local lobbying, to name just a few. The District of Columbia has its own lobbying laws regulating contact with District officials. Anyone involved in contacting local government officials in jurisdictions big or small should be aware that they may face local regulation, in addition to any state oversight.