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 E-News from State and Federal Communications, Inc.

August 2015  

Jim Sedor/John Oliver – Separated at Birth

If Jim Sedor had a brother, it would be John Oliver, host of HBO’s "Last Week Tonight." The latter joined "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart in July 2006 and is considered an authority on contemporary issues…but that is not what this article is about.

Jim Sedor is celebrating 15 years at State and Federal Communications as our Editor of News You Can Use, the weekly source about lobbying, political contributions, procurement lobbying, and ethics from all over the country. From Jim’s first week, we knew his work was going to help us stay on top of issues in the states.

The other thing is Jim Sedor is something of a rock star in the compliance community. Many people will tell me reading News You Can Use is “scary,” others take it apart and share the articles with staff for weekend reading, and there are some who use it as a basis for staff meetings. There have been times when a small article turned into a huge scandal. One that comes to mind is Coingate, for the Tom Noe investment scandal, which first appeared in Toledo, Ohio’s The Blade newspaper and resulted in a prison sentence, fines, and restitution.

It isn’t meant to scare our readers, but it is meant to inform you and hopefully help with important government relations work.

Jim is our GO TO guy when we need to remember an (in)famous legislator or the specifics about a bill introduced in a state and the grassroots efforts surrounding it. He is our resident walking encyclopedia of information—and not just about government. I have heard him talk about sports figures and musicals, too.

In 15 years the subjects affecting our clients have grown…this is not an area receiving less attention. This is great job security for Jim Sedor and more important confidence to you, our clients and friends that we will continue to give you News You Can Use.

We look forward to Fall 2015 and the intensity of campaigns popping up all over the country.

Jim Sedor
 
John Oliver

 

Thank you.

Elizabeth Z. Bartz

President and CEO
@elizabethbartz

Arizona New Contribution Limits Now Effective

by George Ticoras, Esq., Research Associate

On April 11, 2015, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed legislation increasing the state’s campaign contribution limits and refining the acceptable timelines for making contributions. Although effective July 1, House Bill 2415 is retroactively effective for applicable contributions made on or after November 4, 2014.

The New Limits

For the election cycle of a statewide executive or legislative office, a contributor may donate to an exploratory committee, a candidate, or a candidate's committee a maximum amount of:

  • $5,000 from an individual, a single partnership, or a single noncertified political committee, excluding a political party; and

  • $10,000 from a single certified political committee, excluding a political party.

The limits above are adjusted to reflect contributions to nonparticipating clean elections candidates and must not exceed 80 percent of the current contribution limits.

For the election cycle of a local candidate, a contributor may donate to an exploratory committee, a candidate, or a candidate's committee a maximum amount of:

  • $6,250 from an individual, a single partnership, or a single noncertified political committee, excluding a political party; and

  • $12,500 from a single certified political committee, excluding a political party.

Contributions from a partnership must be allocated to the individual partners who are contributing, as designated by the partnership. Partnership contributions from designated partners must be combined with other contributions by that individual partner to the same recipient and are subject to the limits on an individual.

The New Timelines

For purposes of making and aggregating contributions, House Bill 2415 defines an election cycle as the period beginning 21 days after a general election and ending 21 days after the next successive general election for a particular elected office.

Additionally, the bill allows a member of the Legislature and the governor to accept a campaign contribution from a principal or lobbyist if the contribution is received within three calendar days after the first day of the regular session of the Legislature, provided the campaign contribution was mailed and postmarked before the first day of the session.

Summary of Changes UPDATE
Note Recent Changes to Compliance Regulations 

Michael Beckett, Esq., Research Manager

ALBERTA, CANADA: Corporations and labor unions are no longer permitted to contribute to political parties, registered constituency associations, or registered candidates. An Act to Renew Democracy in Alberta (Bill 1) received Royal Assent on June 29, 2015, and is retroactively effective to June 15, the day the bill was introduced in the Legislative Assembly. Now, only a person ordinarily resident in Alberta may make political contributions to political parties, registered constituency associations, and registered candidates.

FEDERAL: The U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia unanimously upheld the constitutionality of a law barring federal contractors from contributing to candidates, parties, and candidates' and parties’ committees. Plaintiffs had challenged the constitutionality of 52 U.S.C. § 30119(a)(1), which prohibits any vendors with contracts with the federal government from making political contributions to federal candidates or political parties. In Wagner v. Federal Election Commission, the court rejected the argument that the law violates both the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution and the First Amendment because federal workers who are not contractors may make federal political contributions while contractors performing the same work may not contribute.

HAWAII: Gov. David Ige signed Senate Bill 996 into law, thereby appropriating $130,000 to design an electronic filing system for those required to file statements and reports with the state Ethics Commission. This includes lobbyists and organizations involved with lobbying activities filing expenditure and other lobbying-related reports. The money has been appropriated out of the general revenue fund for fiscal year 2015-2016 and is to be expended by the state Ethics Commission.

LOUISIANA: The Board of Ethics has raised the maximum value of food, drink, or refreshment an individual may provide to an elected official or public employee for a single event from $58 to $60. This threshold value is adjusted each year by the board to reflect changes in the consumer price index.

VERMONT: Gov. Peter Shumlin signed Senate Bill 93 to change lobbyist reporting requirements. Effective July 1, 2015, lobbyist reports are required to be filed for each month the Legislature is in session, with an additional report due in September. The new law also requires identification of lobbyists contributing to advertisements meant to influence legislation, and a report must be filed within 48 hours if such advertisement cost $1,000 or more. Furthermore, a legislator's candidate committee and a legislative leadership committee may no longer solicit or accept a contribution while the Legislature is in session.

Jurisdiction Added to our Website

The number of municipalities and regional governments our research associates track continues to grow. We now cover almost 300 municipalities and local governments. This is part of a continuous effort to better serve the needs of our clients.

In that effort, we have recently added abridged jurisdictions to our website. These entries, condensed due to the limited number of relevant local laws, provide the core information our clients need for their government relations work.

The new jurisdiction is:

Peoria, Illinois

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 2016
Lobbying Laws 220 47 27 70 66
Political Contributions 449 50 59 135 137
Procurement Lobbying 216 36 41 54 35



W  E  B  S  I  T  E      T  I  P

Subscribers to our Executive Source Guide on Political Contributions may have noticed a new addition to the publication beginning to populate throughout the guide. We are in the process of adding information for corporations interested in establishing a corporate political action committee (PAC) at the state and local level. Corporations active on the national political stage know the importance of understanding the unique vocabularies and requirements in a given jurisdiction when forming a state PAC. For instance, a corporation wanting to form a PAC in California may be able to do so without registering if only corporate funds are used. However, if the PAC receives contributions from employees, the PAC will likely be classified as a sponsored committee and must file a Statement of Organization (Form 410). Information specific to corporate PACs is located under the question “What is the procedure for establishing a corporate PAC” and is accessed by selecting the Registration and Reports Required tab in each selected jurisdiction.

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.

I will be attending several upcoming conferences where legislators and other public officials will be present.   I’m not a registered lobbyist at the state level—do I still need to worry about gift limits?

Even if you are not a registered lobbyist, you will still need to be mindful of the various gift limits applicable to legislators and public officials you engage at these conferences.  Depending on your company’s status as a lobbyist employer, you may be subject to more stringent limits in certain jurisdictions.  It’s important to remember there is no one-size-fits-all approach to determining permissibility.  Each state addresses gift limits differently, and what will be permissible in one jurisdiction will not be permissible in another.   Further, you should not depend on the legislator or public official to know applicable gift limits.  Because gift limits may vary depending on your company’s status as a lobbyist employer, officials may not be aware of which limit to apply when accepting gifts and benefits.

Numerous states have gift exceptions specifically applicable to expenditures at national conferences to which all members of the legislature are invited (such as NCSL) as long as the expenditures are part of the conference agenda.  Examples of this include lunch/dinner events, or a sponsored state night.  However, for private dinners and events and other expenditures not included on the official agenda, you will still be subject to a state’s regular gift limits and restrictions.

In some cases, your expenditures on behalf of these individuals will need to be disclosed on a lobbyist employer report.  You will need to coordinate closely with your company’s government affairs or legal department to not only determine permissibility, but to determine whether the expense is reportable. For jurisdictions requiring disclosure, you may need to report the date of the expense, the name of the individual(s) receiving the benefit, a brief description, and the value of the expense.   Make sure to save itemized receipts.  Some jurisdictions require you to report the name and address of the vendor (such as a restaurant or catering company) and may additionally require you to determine the reportable amount by specific benefit received.  Some states do not permit meal expenditures to be calculated on a prorated basis (i.e., a dinner valued at $375, divided by the number of attendees) but instead require disclosure of a specific amount attributed to a particular legislative official or employee (i.e., $15.75 for the salmon entrée).

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

For the second year, our summer interns have taken advantage of the Akron  Intern Edge program.  Intern Edge, a program offered by Torchbearers and Leadership Akron, serves as a conduit between interns and established community leaders, as well as organizations and groups making a positive difference in our community, to show Akron’s advantages. Each Intern Edge session offered interns access to community decision-makers and lessons for personal and professional success.
Pictured her at the Intern Edge Graduation are (l to r) Elizabeth Scozzaro, David Jones, Sophia Avouris, Costa Janos, Nikos Frazier, and our Human Resources Director, Sharri Roper.


 

Sr. Compliance Associate, James Warner, Esq. met with Janelle Snoderly during the Walmart Manufacturing Summit in Bentonville, Arkansas.

As Elizabeth Z. Bartz, State and Federal Communications, Inc., president and CEO, introduced Dr. Beverly Warren, President of Kent State University, she slipped in a selfie with Dr. Warren.

Dr. Beverly Warren enjoyed a photo opportunity with the 2015 State and Federal Communications, Inc. interns,
after presenting the keynote speech at the United Way of Summit County's 13th Annual
Power of the Purse luncheon. 

Akron staff participating in the WASRG Luncheon in Washington, DC, where
Federal Compliance Associate, Rebecca South, was elected 2015
President of WASRG.  Congratulations, Rebecca.

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

 

Events

August 3-7 NCSL Legislative Summit, Seattle, Washington
August 3 SGAC Appreciation Dinner, Seattle, Washington
August 4 SGAC Late Night, Seattle, Washington
August 4 Astellas National Women's Executive Day, Akron, Ohio
August 5 WASRG Reception
September 9 Washington Nationals Baseball Game, Washington, DC
September 10-11 PLI Seminar
September 14 WGR Toastmasters, Washington, DC
 

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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.

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