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 E-News from State and Federal Communications, Inc.

May 2014  


We Still Go Red for Women

For the third year, State and Federal Communications has joined the American Heart Association in its Go Red for Women program. This year I am a member of the Circle of Red Society, and John Chames is a member of the Red Tie Society.

This is still an important message.

TODAY, heart disease is still the No. 1 killer of women, causing one in three deaths each year. But it can be prevented. TODAY, Make It Your Mission to learn how to stop this killer, and then tell five women you love you want them to live. TODAY, you can help us stop heart disease in our lifetime. You have an opportunity to support this mission. Call your local American Heart Association and make a contribution. Here is how your donation can make a difference:

  • $1,000 provides the newest CPR guidelines to more than 60 emergency care providers, teaching them the most effective skills for treating cardiac arrest.

  • $500 allows us to distribute the innovative CPR Anytime to 10 women who can then train 2 to 3 friends or loved ones.

  • $250 will teach 50 women in your community the connection between good food and good health by showing them heart-healthy ways to prepare food using the Recipes for the Heart cookbook.

  • $100 can equip one hospital or health department with American Stroke Association resources to educate female patients, the public, and health professionals on stroke prevention and life after stroke.

TODAY, check out www.heart.org and learn more about heart health. TODAY is the day to make a difference.

Thank you,

Elizabeth Z. Bartz
President and CEO
@elizabethbartz

 

McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission
by George Ticoras

On April 2, 2014, in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, the United States Supreme Court ruled aggregate limits on federal campaign contributions are an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment’s guarantee of political expression and association.

Currently, federal law imposes two types of limits on individual political contributions. Base limits restrict the amount an individual may contribute to a candidate committee; a national party committee; a state, local, and district party committee; and a political action committee. Biennial limits restrict the aggregate amount an individual may contribute biennially to candidate committees and all other committees. 

Shaun McCutcheon, the lead plaintiff in the case, is an Alabama businessman who regularly makes political contributions to Republican candidates and the Republican National Committee. McCutcheon wanted to contribute $26,200 more to candidates and committees than the aggregate ceiling would allow. Joined in the suit by the RNC, McCutcheon challenged the aggregate limits on contributions so he would be able to contribute more than the current limits allowed.

In a 5-4 decision, with the majority joined by Justice Thomas in a separate concurring opinion, the Court found aggregate limits do not further the permissible government interest in preventing quid pro quo corruption or the appearance of such corruption.

The majority opinion, written by Chief Justice Roberts and joined by Justices Scalia, Kennedy, and Alito, found the aggregate contribution limits do not further the only governmental interest accepted as legitimate in Buckley v Valeo. The 1976 decision by the Supreme Court found aggregate limits to be a permissible government regulation to curtail corruption or the appearance of corruption.

In McCutcheon, the Court stated, “Congress may not regulate contributions simply to reduce the amount of money in politics.”

The Court equated political contributions with “political campaign speech,” writing, “Money in politics may at times seem repugnant to some, but so too does much of what the First Amendment vigorously protects. If the First Amendment protects flag burning, funeral protests, and Nazi parades—despite the profound offense such spectacles cause—it surely protects political campaign speech despite popular opposition.”

The McCutcheon decision’s effects extend beyond the federal campaign finance laws.

In Maryland, the State Board of Elections issued a guidance memo stating the board will no longer enforce the $10,000 aggregate limit on donors’ contributions to state candidates during the four-year election cycle. The caps on contributions to individual candidates remain in effect.

The Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) announced it will no longer enforce the state’s $12,500 aggregate limit on the amount an individual may contribute to all candidates. However, the OCPF is going to review the decision more closely before deciding whether the $5,000 aggregate limit on contributions by individuals to party committees can remain standing.

The Puerto Rico Office of the Electoral Comptroller issued an information newsletter stating that because the Court merely referenced the aggregate contribution limits in other jurisdictions, but did not declare them unconstitutional, it was not taking any immediate action with regard to its own aggregate limits. The office will instead request an opinion from the Puerto Rico Secretary of Justice to determine how the Court’s decision relates to Puerto Rico’s limits.

The Rhode Island Board of Elections voted to support the creation of legislation eliminating aggregate political contribution limits. The board took action under the assumption the aggregate limits would soon be subject to a constitutional challenge.

Vermont’s Senate Bill 82 added an aggregate contribution limit of $40,000 per election cycle, which was to take effect January 1, 2015. However, the implementation of the aggregate contribution limit was contingent on the Supreme Court ruling in favor of aggregate limits in McCutcheon. Because the Supreme Court in fact ruled against aggregate limits, Vermont’s aggregate limit will not go into effect.

Wisconsin’s aggregate limits have already been challenged in Young v. Government Accountability Board. The parties in that case agreed to put the case on hold until the McCutcheon decision was issued. Now that the Supreme Court has issued its ruling, the court in Young is sure to follow suit.

The Los Angeles Ethics Commission announced it would no longer enforce aggregate contribution limits to city and school board candidates. However, limits on contributions to individual candidates remain in place.

Several other jurisdictions have aggregate limits. The aggregate limits in Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Maine, New York, and Wyoming are now all in doubt. Other jurisdictions have aggregate limits operating somewhat differently from those challenged in McCutcheon, but those may still be subject to a constitutional challenge. State and Federal Communications will continue to monitor developments in these jurisdictions.

Santa Clara County Implements Lobbying Ordinance

by Michael Beckett, Esq. Research Associate 

Santa Clara’s Board of Supervisors adopted a lobbying ordinance to regulate any person who contacts county officials with the purpose of promoting, supporting, modifying, opposing, or causing delay or abandonment of conduct. Late in 2013 the board requested a draft lobbying ordinance to improve transparency and accountability in county procurements. County counsel, Orry Korb, was tasked with reviewing existing lobbying regulations in other localities for drafting purposes. The referral specifically mentioned San Jose’s lobbying ordinance as one with a proven track record and ability to provide much of the necessary framework and language.

Ordinance NS-19.42 regulates contract lobbyists, in-house lobbyists, and expenditure lobbyists meeting the applicable compensation, time, or spending threshold. Legislative, procurement, and grassroots activities are covered by the ordinance, which took effect on March 27, 2014.

The ordinance has several exempt categories including any person whose sole activity is submitting a bid on a competitively bid contract, providing a response to a request for proposals, or negotiating the terms of an agreement with the county official authorized to negotiate. However, registration is required when engaging in lobbying activity, which includes the proposal, drafting, development, consideration, advocacy, recommendation, adoption, amendment, termination, extension, or approval of any rule, regulation, agreement, contract, permit, license, policy, or hiring action.

Registration is required only once per calendar year, even if a registered lobbyist subsequently meets an additional threshold. The initial registration fee is set at $180, with a reduced rate of $90 for those registering on or after June 30. Renewal registrations are due by January 15 and carry a $60 per day late penalty.  

Lobbyists will register and report using the same paper form. Electronic filing is not currently available. Reports are due quarterly April 15, July 15, October 15, and January 15. Generally, lobbyists must report the name of each county official contacted, the action the individual was attempting to influence, the dates of the contacts, and the client on whose behalf the contact was made. Contract lobbyists are also required to disclose the total amount of compensation received from each client.

Summary of Changes UPDATE
Note Recent Changes to Compliance Regulations
 

by John Cozine, Esq., Research Manager 

LAKEWOOD, COLORADO: The city revised its campaign finance ordinance. The new provisions went into effect on April 1, 2014. The most notable change is a shift away from state law. Colorado allows any municipality with an adopted ordinance covering any issue addressed in the Fair Campaign Practices Act to assume jurisdiction over all campaign finance matters occurring within the municipality. Lakewood will no longer fall within the jurisdiction of the Office of the Secretary of State, as the ordinance adds provisions concerning contribution limits, registration and reporting requirements, and civil penalties for violations of municipal campaign finance law.

MASSACHUSETTS: The Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) announced it will no longer enforce the commonwealth’s aggregate political contribution limit for the amount an individual may contribute to candidates. The law, G.L. §55-7A(a)(5), limits the aggregate amount an individual can contribute to all candidates to $12,500. The OCPF made its decision based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s McCutcheon vs. Federal Election Commission decision, which found aggregate limits on federal campaign contributions a violation of the First Amendment’s guarantee of political expression and association. However, the OCPF is going to review the decision more closely before deciding whether the $5,000 aggregate limit on contributions by individuals to party committees can remain standing. On its website, the OCPF stated, “The statutory provisions at the federal level that were analyzed by the Court in McCutcheon differ substantially from the law in Massachusetts, and a determination on the applicability of the ruling in this area will be made after careful review.

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA: The City Council passed ethics legislation providing a dollar limit on gifts during its March 20, 2014, meeting. The bill was signed by the mayor on March 31. The legislation prohibits all city officers and employees from receiving gifts worth more than $99 in a calendar year from any donor and bans all cash gifts. A number of exceptions are provided, including food and beverage at meetings and nonticketed receptions.

SASKATCHEWAN: After more than two years of debate, the Legislative Assembly passed a bill containing a lobbyist registration scheme. Under the new law, lobbyists, as defined therein, must register and file activity reports online. There are several notable provisions excepting some individuals from the registration requirement, including officers, directors, or employees when acting in their official capacity of the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association, the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities, and the Saskatchewan School Boards Association. The bill also contains revolving door restrictions prohibiting former public officials from lobbying within one year of leaving office. The act becomes effective upon proclamation by the lieutenant governor. Justice Minister Gordon Wyant estimates no such proclamation will be issued for at least nine months, as the province must still develop protocols to administer and enforce the new law.

VERMONT: Of the many changes to Vermont's campaign finance law passed earlier this year, Senate Bill 82 included an aggregate limit on contributions from a single source set to take effect January 1, 2015. However, the effective date provision of the bill included a caveat that if the Supreme Court held aggregate campaign finance limits unconstitutional, the aggregate limit would not become effective. With the decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission issued, the provision in Vermont's new campaign finance law regarding aggregate contribution limits will not become effective in January 2015.

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 State and Federal Communications' digital encyclopedias for lobbying laws, political contributions, and procurement lobbying and can be found in the client portion of our website.

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

  Total bills Number of Jurisdictions Passed Died Carried over
to 2015
Lobbying Laws 270 43 3 27 0
Political Contributions 537 43 15 30 0
Procurement Lobbying 373 47 5 19 0
 


 

W  E  B  S  I  T  E     T  I  P

Once you log in to stateandfed.com you have access to updates offering up-to-the-minute news that affects you as well as some of the latest changes we have made to our website. On the right-hand side of the screen there is a list titled “Updates.” These updates are news items of interest to government affairs professionals occurring in the more than 300 jurisdictions we cover. Click on any of the headlines to view the complete update. New updates are added every day, so check back often to see the latest news.

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. Send your questions to experts@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 email us with questions about your particular company or organization. As always, we will confidentially and directly provide answers or information you need.) Our replies are not legal advice, just our analysis of laws, rules, and regulations.

My company is a registered lobbyist employer in California.   I do not currently meet the threshold for lobbyist registration, however, I do engage in some lobbying activity.  Am I required to disclose this activity on the company’s report?

In California, lobbyist employers are required to track and disclose compensation and expenditures for non-lobbyist employees (NLEs) on quarterly disclosure reports. If you meet the NLE threshold for reporting, you are required to disclose your pro-rata share of compensation and related expenditures, even if you do not meet the registration threshold.  Specifically, you qualify as an NLE if you spend more than 10 percent of your compensated time in any calendar month in connection with lobbying activities.  However, this does not include compensation paid to an employee whose duties are solely clerical, manual, or are limited to the compilation of data or statistics.

If you qualify as an NLE, you must track your compensation and reimbursed expenditures dedicated to state lobbying activities.  This combined figure is included on the employer report (Form 635) in Part D, Other Payments to Influence Legislative or Administrative Action.  When estimating your time, you will need to include all time spent in connection with lobbying activities, including direct communications with public officials in the presence of your company's or trade association’s contract lobbyist.  Although there is an exception in the Fair Political Practices Commission regulations allowing employees to not count this type of direct communication towards the registration threshold, you must nevertheless track and disclose this time on your company’s employer report if you exceed the NLE reporting threshold.   You will also need to include grassroots activity, research, and preparation time.   

Be mindful of the gap between the NLE reporting threshold and the lobbyist registration threshold. If your level of activity exceeds the lobbyist registration threshold, you are required to register within 10 days.  The registration threshold for in-house employees is defined as spending one-third or more of your compensated time in any calendar month engaging in direct communications with a qualifying official for the purpose of influencing legislative or administrative action.   

May's Expert - Myra Cottrill, Esq., Client Specialist

 


 
The Ohio Chamber Annual Meeting was held in Columbus, Ohio  on Tuesday, April 8, 2014.  Attending from State and Federal Communications, Inc. were [left to right] John Cozine, Esq., Research Manager; Amber Fish Linke, Esq., Director, Client and Product Operations; Sarah Gray, Compliance Assistant Coordinator; and Melissa Coultas, Manager, Sales and Marketing.

Guest speaker, Diane Laney Fitzpatrick, writer of Home Sweet
Homes:  How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent
Helped Me Survive Nine Moves
at the
SGAC Annual Meeting
in San Francisco.

[left to right: Elizabeth Z. Bartz; Fitzpatrick; and James Warner, Esq.]

Kent State University President Lester A. Lefton celebrating with proud KSU graduate, Elizabeth Z. Bartz.
Go Kent Golden Flashes!
While in San Diego, California for the NASPO meeting, Elizabeth met with 10 year veteran and former State and Federal Communications, Inc. Comptroller, Jeff Roberts [left] and his twin brother Ted Roberts [right.]

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

Events

April 30-May 2

OSBA Convention, Columbus, Ohio

May 8

WGR Spring Reception, Washington, D.C.

May 16

University of Akron Law Alumni Reunion, Akron, Ohio

May 20

WGR PACS, Politics, and Grassroots Conference, TBD

May 27

National Press Club, Washington, D.C.

May 29-31

NCSL Executive Committee Meeting, Anchorage, Alaska

June 22-26

BIO Convention, San Diego, California

 


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The Mission of State and Federal Communications is
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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.

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