SWAMP: Obama’s Top Strategist Fined $90,000 For Lobbying Violation

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David Plouffe, who steered former President Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign, has been fined $90,000 by the Chicago Board of Ethics for illegally lobbying Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The Chicago Tribune reports the city’s ethics board voted unanimously to sanction Plouffe for failing to register as a lobbyist despite soliciting Emanuel’s help in shaping regulations governing his ride-sharing company. Plouffe was a senior corporate officer at Uber from 2014 until his recent departure to lead Mark Zuckerberg’s philanthropy initiative.

The violation was discovered in connection with hundreds of emails Emanuel released pursuant to multiple public records lawsuits. The emails show Plouffe and Emanuel discussed city rules regulating ride-sharing operations at Chicago’s two airports.

The mayor’s brother, Ari Emanuel of Hollywood fame, is an investor in Plouffe’s company.

Chicago, like other major cities around the country, considered passing stringent regulations on ride-sharing companies like Uber. The proposed rules included fingerprinting drivers and banning commercial advertising in sharing-economy vehicles. Emanuel successfully stymied the rules package in the city council, which eventually adopted a less-cumbersome regulatory regime.

The $90,000 penalty was assessed because 90 days elapsed between the emails Emanuel and Plouffe traded and the day Plouffe registered as a lobbyist. City rules provide that $1,000 fine should be assessed each day that the lobbying violation persists.

“There would be no deterrent effect as to unregistered lobbying at all,” wrote William F. Conlon, the board’s chairman. “At the core of Chicago’s lobbying law is the prompt and public disclosure of lobbying activity.”

“We work hard to ensure our registrations are accurate and up to date,” an Uber spokesperson told Business Insider. “We regret that in this instance we made a mistake and we will comply with the board’s assessment.”


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