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 E-News from State and Federal Communications, Inc.

May 2013

 

Go Red for Women
 

I am updating my article from a year ago when I first joined the Go Red For Women campaign in Akron. This year I was able to have my husband, JohnChames join me. (Yes, I put his first and last name together because there are a lot of Johns in my family. The only way to keep them separate is to use the last name.) If you recall last year’s photo you will notice this year a number of additional men joined the Red Tie Society.  If you haven’t found us in the picture, the hint is we are holding hands across the middle of the escalator at Macy’s.  And, yes, that is Jim Tressel near him.

Did you know American Heart Association recommends adults get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity physical activity?  [That is about 22 minutes per day.] Here are some easy ways you can add physical activity into your daily life:

  • Use  coffee breaks to take 5- or 10-minute walks. The weather is nice (except for Denver and Minneapolis) so time to pull out the sneakers and walk around the block.

  • In parking lots, park your car as far away as you can. At State and Federal Communications, I have parking space #1 so I need to make sure I am walking up the stairs during the day to see the folks on the second floor—instead of taking the elevator.

  • Get your personal heart-health status and learn how regular physical activity can help improve your health. Take the American Heart Association's My Life Check assessment at mylifecheck.heart.org.

  • Walk a flight of stairs 10 times a day.
    I am on my third Fitbit since last year and it helps track the steps and flights of stairs I take every day. And, as it relates to steps, try to reach 10,000
    a day.

  • Visit www.startwalkingnow.org to download the new Walking Path mobile phone application and find nearby walking paths, track your steps, and motivate your walking friends.

The American Heart Association’s mission is to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.  Until next month, join the fight against women's #1 killer—Heart Disease by donating to your local Heart Association.

Thanks,

Elizabeth Z. Bartz
President and CEO


New York City Passes Campaign Finance Bill
Over Objections

by Shamus Williams, Esq.
Research
Associate
 

After a long and hard fought battle, Introduction No. 978 finally became law in New York City on March 13, 2013. In December, the City Council introduced the bill, which reduced the disclosure requirements for certain groups and their independent expenditures in the city. In late January, the Council passed the bill with overwhelming support, 47-1.

The critics, however, were legion, including director of the Campaign Finance Board Amy Loprest and Mayor Michael Bloomberg. They claimed this new bill would set the city back and start to undermine what has largely been hailed as one of the strictest and most comprehensive campaign disclosure laws in the country. Bloomberg decided to veto the bill in late February, in hopes of having the council change its mind about the initial passage.

The Council did not change its mind, though. The Council voted 47-0, with four members excused, to override Bloomberg’s veto. Upon passage, the bill became law immediately. With the city’s elections due to take place in November, the city will soon learn how drastically the bill affects the election.

Under the new law, labor and other membership organizations, as well as corporations, may send political communications to members, executive and administrative personnel, and stockholders without having to disclose the money spent. Under the old laws, all money spent for independent expenditures, once a certain threshold was reached, had to be disclosed to the Campaign Finance Board. According to a statement released by the board, in the two elections with the strict disclosure rules, $35,000 was spent on this type of mass mailing. Those two elections were only special elections for council seats, so it stands to reason far more will be spent this November with the city’s voters electing a new mayor, comptroller, and all city council members.


Summary of Changes UPDATE
Note Recent Changes to Compliance Regulations

by John Cozine, Esq.
Research Manager
 

PITTSBURGH: The contribution limits in the upcoming Pittsburgh mayoral election have been removed by the courts. Judge Joseph James voided the city’s contribution limits because of one candidate’s decision to contribute his own money to his campaign. Under city law, candidates may only accept $2,000 from individuals and $4,000 from PACs per covered election. However, if a candidate decides to use personal resources in excess of $50,000 for his or her campaign, the contribution limitations are thrown out for all candidates in that specific race. In this situation, Councilman Bill Peduto requested an injunction barring former state Auditor General Jack Wagner from using nearly $300,000 in contributions collected during previous campaigns. The judge ruled the use of the previous campaign funds to be a contribution, which would have exceeded the city’s contribution limits. Wagner’s lawyers then turned their attention to Michael Lamb, the city controller who withdrew from the race earlier in the week. Lamb had given his campaign $53,000 of his own money, which voided the contribution limits and allowed Wagner to use the $300,000 in question. Lamb attempted to give $3,000 from the campaign back to himself in order to undo the contribution, but the judge ruled the refund did not repair the breach. The primary election for the mayoral office takes place on May 21, 2013, and the general election on November 5, 2013.

FEDERAL: The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its audit of federal lobbying compliance for 2012. For the audit, the GAO reviewed a random sample of 100 quarterly disclosure reports filed for the third and fourth quarters of calendar year 2011 and the first and second quarters of calendar year 2012. Among its findings, the GAO concluded 97 percent of filers of lobbying disclosure reports were able to provide documentation to support reported income and expenses, 85 percent filed the required federal political campaign reports, and 74 percent of the reported income and expenses were properly rounded to the nearest $10,000. The audit also found at least 15 percent of all lobbying disclosure reports did not properly disclose formerly held covered positions.

GEORGIA: Legislators passed an ethics overhaul capping lobbyist gifts at $75 and eliminating a prior proposal to require lobbyist registration for volunteer advocates. The House and Senate voted unanimously for House Bill 142 shortly before adjournment on March 28, 2013. This is the state’s first limitation on gifts to public officials. Exceptions to the $75 limit include committee dinners, dinners for caucuses, and certain lobbyist-funded travel. The $75 cap is per occurrence and per lobbyist. There is no explicit limit on the number of gifts permitted. As part of the deal, volunteers will not have to register as lobbyists unless they are reimbursed $250 or more in expenses from an organization. The bill will also remove the $300 lobbyist registration and renewal fee when it becomes effective on January 1, 2014.

NEW JERSEY: On March 21, 2013, the Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) issued an advisory opinion deciding it does not have jurisdiction to declare contribution limits unenforceable or unconstitutional for political committees making only independent expenditures. Advisory Opinion 01-2013 holds current state registration and reporting requirements and contribution limits apply to political committees making independent expenditures. The Fund for Jobs and Growth, a political organization not registered in the state and intending to make independent expenditures in the state’s 2013 elections, requested the opinion in order to determine whether it needed to register and report with the state and whether the state contribution limits for political committees applied to its fundraising activity. The organization was held to be a political committee, requiring registration and reporting. While holding state contribution limits apply, the opinion notes several other jurisdictions have held contribution limits applied to political committees making independent expenditures unconstitutional.

PALM BEACH COUNTY: The Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics selected attorney Steven Cullen to be its new executive director. Mr. Cullen was previously a judge and mediator. He replaces former Executive Director Alan Johnson, who left the Commission on Ethics to join the state attorney's office. Mr. Cullen plans to boost the commission's public outreach and ethics education efforts.


Legislation We Are Tracking

At any given time, more than 1,000 legislative bills, which can affect how you do business as a government affairs professional, are being discussed in federal, state, and local jurisdictions. These bills are summarized in the State and Federal Communications digital encyclopedias for lobbying laws, political contributions, and procurement lobbying, and can be found in the client portion of the State and Federal Communications' website.

Summaries of major bills are also included in monthly e-mail updates sent to all clients. The chart below shows the number of bills we are tracking in regards to lobbying laws, political contributions, and procurement lobbying.
 

  Total bills Number of Jurisdictions Passed Died Carried over
to 2014
Lobbying Laws 207 47 3 12 0
Political Contributions 448 48 6 20 0
Procurement Lobbying 281 44 10 15 0

 


W  E  B  S  I  T  E     T  I  P

Quick Reference Information

Although the information on our website is comprehensive, you may find yourself with a unique situation requiring the expert judgment of the people regulating your government affairs activities. That’s why we include contact information in all of our entries. Clicking on the "Contact Information" link on the left-hand side of your screen will bring you to the right place. We endeavor to include information for not only the head of the agency or department in question, but also information for staffers known to be especially helpful and knowledgeable about the statutes and regulations they enforce.  This information is constantly updated so you always have the most up-to-date contact information available.


ASK THE EXPERTS

State and Federal Communications’ Experts Answer Your Questions

Here is your chance to “Ask the Experts” at State and Federal Communications, Inc. You can directly submit questions for this feature, and we will select those most appropriate and answer them here. Send your questions to: marketing@stateandfed.com. (Of course, we have always been available to answer questions from clients that are specific to your needs, and we encourage you to continue to call or e-mail us with questions about your particular company or organization. As always, we will confidentially and directly provide answers or information you need.) Our replies to your questions are not legal advice. Instead, these replies represent our analysis of laws, rules, and regulations.

Q.

My company is involved in an event where a meal and other gifts may be provided to public officials.  How do I know if this is permissible?

A.

You must consider a number of issues any time you want to provide a gift to a public official.  In addition to consulting your company’s policies, you should answer the following questions:

  • Is it a gift?  States often have exceptions to the definition of gift.  Arizona does not consider an expenditure for food, beverage, travel, or lodging to be a gift under state law.  A number of states do not consider things of value provided on the basis of a personal relationship or items of de minimis value to be gifts

  • Who is the giver?  Lobbyists are often subject to more stringent gift restrictions than non-lobbyists.  Florida prohibits any gifts from lobbyists to state officials and employees with very few exceptions.  However, if you are not registered as a lobbyist, you are permitted to give any gift if it is not given to influence any official action.  California imposes different gift limits; the limit is $10 or less per month for lobbyists and $440 or less per year for non-lobbyists. 
    Additional restrictions could apply if your company is a state contractor.  Connecticut does allow limited gifts from lobbyists and non-lobbyists.  However, state contractors must certify no gifts were made under certain circumstances.

  • Who is the recipient?  The permissibility of a gift can depend on the branch of government or the seniority of the official or employee.  Maryland legislators may only accept food and beverage from lobbyists in very limited circumstances.  Executive branch officials may accept food and beverage if they are in the presence of the lobbyist.  Delaware only restricts cabinet secretaries, division directors, and the governor's professional staff from accepting gifts from lobbyists.

If you are anything less than 100% sure a gift is permissible, consult the state’s ethics agency.  Do not ask the official or employee involved!  He or she may not be familiar with the nuances of the state’s gift law.

May's Expert - James Warner Esq., Compliance Associate



Wealth of Information at www.lobbycomply.com

Want to interact with your fellow government affairs and procurement colleagues? Then jump into the State and Federal Communications, Inc. blog at www.lobbycomply.com.

Once there, you can join the exchange of ideas and view solutions to common challenges and problems. Also, State and Federal Communications continually adds content to the blog, including ‘hot topics,’ which are summaries of important news items you need to know.

Join the conversation, and make use of this valuable information resource.

 


 

 


State and Federal Scrapbook - 2013
 

James Warner, Esq. and Steve Quinn, Esq. at SGAC Annual Meeting in Savannah.

Colleagues and friends: Jean Cantrell - Philips Electronics North America, Elizabeth Z. Bartz - State and Federal Communications, Inc., and Chris Badgley - Daiichi Sankyo, Inc. at SGAC Annual Meeting in Savannah.

Elizabeth Bartz meets with John Berendt, author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.


See Us in Person

Plan to say hello at future events where State and Federal Communications will be attending and/or speaking regarding compliance issues.

 

Events

May 8-10, 2013

OSBA - Ohio State Bar Association Booth 24
Cleveland, Ohio

May 16, 2013

WGR Spring Reception  
Washington, D.C.

May 30-Jun 2, 2013

NCSL Executive Committee  
Boston, Massachusetts

June 2-5, 2013

Heartland Conference  
Louisville, Kentucky

June 21-24, 2013

CSG Leadership Meeting  
Washington, D.C.

 


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The Mission of State and Federal Communications is
to make sure that your organization can say, "I Comply."

We are the leading authority and exclusive information source
on legislation and regulations surrounding campaign finance
and political contributions; state, federal, and municipal lobbying; and procurement lobbying.

Contact us to learn how conveniently our services will allow you to say "I Comply" for your compliance activities.

http://www.stateandfed.com/

 

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