Capitol Alert

Lyft agrees to $6,000 FPPC fine for not reporting lobbying costs

A Lyft driver waits in her car after dropping off a passenger as a taxi cab passes her in San Francisco.
A Lyft driver waits in her car after dropping off a passenger as a taxi cab passes her in San Francisco. AP

Ride-sharing companies are known to oppose more regulations. But there’s apparently one set of rules Lyft will have to deal with: state-mandated quarterly lobbying reports.

The San Francisco company has agreed to pay a $6,000 fine from the California Fair Political Practices Commission for filing late lobbying reports. The company submitted its first lobbying report nearly a year and a half after the deadline.

Similar to Uber, Lyft is an on-demand transportation service. Drivers operate their own cars and pick up fares through a mobile application.

The San Francisco company and others like it have become the target of legislation to regulate the growing industry in California and other states. In most places, ride-sharing services adhere to fewer license and insurance requirements than traditional cab drivers.

“Lyft takes its reporting obligations seriously and has fully cooperated with the FPPC,” the company said in a statement. “We look forward to resolving this matter.”

According to the FPPC, Lyft’s disclosure problems began in 2013, the year it registered as a lobbyist employer in California.

During the 2013-14 legislative session, Lyft spent more than $271,000 on lobbying activity related to four bills. The company filed its first report, covering the third quarter of 2013, in April of 2015. Lyft, which didn’t lobby during the quarter, blamed the oversight on “its lack of experience” working with the Legislature, according to an FPPC complaint.

But then Lyft flubbed again and filed three quarterly reports late in 2014. In August, the company disclosed $67,000 in activity 11 days late. Lyft later amended the report to disclose just $6,700 in contributions.

The company’s next report, detailing $126,029, was reported 165 days late, according to the FPPC. The final quarterly filing of the 2013-2014 session came in 71 days late and disclosed $56,097 worth of lobbying activity, the agency said.

Lyft’s serial late reporting continued into the current legislative session. It’s first report of 2015, accounting for $36,789, came in 93 days late. The next three reports were filed on time, but missed $43,000 in other payments to influence; charges stemming from outreach to encourage Lyft drivers and customers to contact state legislators, according to the FPPC.

The FPPC is proposing a $6,000 fine based on three counts of violating the Political Reform Act. Lyft officials have agreed to pay the fine if it is approved by the commission at its July 21 meeting. In case documents, the FPPC said Lyft filed its missing reports after it was notified by the Secretary of State’s Office and before the watchdog’s enforcement team contacted the company.

“Lyft asserts that the failure to file on a timely basis was inadvertent and that it relied on the lobbying firms it employed to file its reports,” the FPPC said in a stipulation order.

The FPPC does not comment on pending cases.

Taryn Luna: 916-326-5545, @TarynLuna