Netscape founder Andreessen fined in Emanuel email lobbying probe
Netscape founder and Facebook board member Marc Andreessen has been fined $2,500 for violating Chicago's ethics laws by acting as a lobbyist on behalf of companies like Airbnb in communications with Chicago Mayor Emanuel without having properly registered to do so.
In a 4-0 vote, the Chicago Board of Ethics ruled that Andreessen improperly solicited Emanuel in emails that date to 2013, when the Chicago Tribune reports he first introduced Emanuel to Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky.
Ethics rules stipulate that anyone engaging in lobbying activity must register as a lobbyist within five days of acting in that capacity.
“My colleagues [at the company] are hoping to get a few minutes of your time to discuss the shifting home regulatory landscape,” Andreessen emailed Emanuel in November 2015. "Detail below. I figured I would just forward you this directly so you can see the straight stuff if you’re interested. The ask is a meeting with [redacted; employee name] who is head of global policy at [redacted; company name]. And I’m sure [redacted; CEO of company] can join if you like. You may have seen the anti-home sharing Proposition F got shellacked in SF last week--- but we want to keep putting our best foot forward as each city figures out the right path for itself.”
Emanuel responded later that day.
“I will have my staff arrange,” Emanuel emailed.
The board concluded that the exchanges between Andreessen and Emanuel constituted lobbying as they “urged the Mayor to use his Mayoral influence to attempt to drive legislation then pending before the City Council in a particular direction.”
According to the Chicago Tribune, Andreessen was one of six individuals fined by the board for illegally lobbying the mayor, with former 43rd Ward Ald. William Singer drawing the largest fine ($25,000) for making contact with Emanuel in the summer of 2016 on behalf of United Airlines regarding gate expansions at O’Hare International Airport.