An American voting-machine salesman has been barred from contacting anyone at Ottawa City Hall for a month, the city’s integrity commissioner announced Tuesday, imposing his first discipline ever under Ottawa’s lobbying rules. Bill Murphy is the director of sales for Boston-based Clear Ballot, which sells equipment for running elections. Integrity commissioner Robert Marleau has forbidden Ottawa’s city government from having anything to do with him until mid-March, on the grounds that Murphy lobbied the city to buy Clear Ballot’s machines and software without registering as a lobbyist as the city’s bylaws require. The city’s lobbying registry has been in effect since September 2012. If you’re trying to get the city to make a decision that’s to your financial benefit, generally speaking, you need to record any contacts with city officials using a website Marleau oversees.
“He made a lobbying communication and didn’t register. And, of course, we did communicate with him several times to encourage him to do so,” Marleau said. “I wouldn’t necessarily resort to sanctions unless there’s considerable resistance to doing what is required by the bylaw.”
Murphy said he didn’t so much “resist” obeying the bylaw as ignore the whole thing. He said he just sent Ottawa’s elections office an email in the fall, inviting anyone who was interested to see Clear Ballot’s equipment being used in a pilot project in Colorado, which was trying out several sets of voting gear in different counties in local elections.