Portland Auditor's Decision: A Chilling Effect on Collaboration

Portland Auditor's Decision: A Chilling Effect on Collaboration

Portland Business Alliance is Greater Portland’s Chamber of Commerce and represents the largest, most diverse network of businesses in the region.  

Today the City of Portland Auditor’s office issued a statement and response, declining our request of reconsideration of unreported city lobbying violations. 
We are not surprised. The decision today by this elected official’s office is from the same who made the initial determination. 

The Portland Business Alliance discloses more lobbying activity than any other registered entity in the City of Portland. In the first quarter of 2021, the Alliance reported more lobbying interactions than nearly all other reporting entities combined, evidence of our commitment to transparent collaboration on behalf of our city’s economy. 

Today’s decision clearly establishes new definitions and purpose of lobbying that is not consistent with a plain reading of City Code and is being applied to the Portland Business Alliance alone.  

We expect that the Auditor will take steps to transparently, and equally, apply these expanded interpretations to all reporting entities, including inquiries with organizations who have failed to file quarterly reports entirely.  

We are encouraged that the Auditor will be making training widely available because every advocacy organization will need to rapidly adjust the way their teams disclose communications, respond to requests from city officials, and consider whether having city officials serving on their boards or having staff participate in taskforces, when invited and requested by city officials to do so, exposes them to penalties.  

The Alliance has been committed to a collaborative approach to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to work in that spirit with all public, private, and nonprofit partners. This is, and will continue to be, the Portland way.  

This targeted expansion of reporting standards and lobbying investigations will have a chilling effect on this critical work, especially as our city endeavors to collaborate and recover from an historic year of challenges. 

The Portland Business Alliance (the Alliance) is greater Portland’s Chamber of Commerce and represents the largest, most diverse network of businesses in the region. The Alliance advocates for business at all levels of government to support commerce, community health, and the region’s overall prosperity. We represent over 2,000 members, from 27 counties, 13 states, and virtually every industry sector. More than 80% of our members are small businesses. 

Our mission is to create opportunity and advance well-being for all who live and work in the greater Portland and SW Washington region. Our vision is a healthy and resilient business ecosystem. Visit PortlandAlliance.com for more information.