A proposed ordinance in the Chicago City Council would prohibit spouses or partners of elected officials from lobbying their fellow aldermen, with the measure following reports by NBC 5 that City Clerk and Illinois Secretary of State candidate Anna Valencia failed to disclose her husband’s lobbying contracts.
Valencia did not disclose her husband Reyahd Kazmi’s lobbying contracts, which is required under state law.
The report is especially noteworthy since the Illinois Secretary of State’s office is responsible for the registration of lobbyists.
Now, 15 City Council members are proposing the ban, which would prohibit spouses and partners of elected officials to lobby aldermen.
“Our spouses, our significant others have access to us and our colleagues that no other person has,” Ald. Howard Brookins said. “So the undo influence – with respect to that – can be magnified tenfold.”
After the report’s publication, Valencia told NBC 5 “everything that I needed to amend, I have amended.”
“As soon as I found out that we made a mistake, a human error, I amended that day,” she said.
In the following days however, NBC 5 has revealed new questions about Kazmi’s lobbying. In 2019, he received $9,000 in compensation from Monterrey Security, the same year that the clout-heavy company was awarded a contract from Acero Charter Network school in Chicago.
Valenica did not file this payment on her ethics statements, according to NBC 5.
“My husband and I have very different careers,” she said. “He has his own thing, I have my own. We support each other in different ways, so we are already following the Board of Ethics rules.”
Valencia has dismissed the new ordinance as a political stunt, and says it is being directed by her opponent in the Secretary of State’s race, Alexi Giannoulias.
Ald. Silvanna Tabares, the lead sponsor of the proposal, fired back.
“I’m working with aldermen. That’s who I’m coordinating with,” Tabares said.
Giannoulias also accused Valencia of trying to deflect the criticisms she has faced over the disclosure controversy.
“Why, instead of taking responsibility for her actions and ethical lapses, does Clerk Valencia immediately resort to finger pointing and false claims? This really doesn’t seem like something she wants the public to know about,” he said. “That’s why it is so important to find out why she’s opposed to ethics reforms.”