August 26, 2010 •
Lobbyists are familiar with the gift restrictions, limits, and bans in those jurisdictions where they are registered. There are many states across the country, such as North Carolina and Tennessee, that completely prohibit lobbyists from providing any type of gift or meal to a legislator. However, many of these states have exceptions to their rules when legislators are attending national conferences, such as the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Annual Legislative Summit.
North Carolina, which has a notoriously strict gift ban, permits lobbyists to provide meals and beverages at events held in conjunction with legislative conferences, provided certain conditions are met. In order for the gift exception to apply, either all members of the senate, house, recognized legislative caucus, or the entire general assembly must be invited, and at least 10 individuals associated with the lobbyist or the lobbyist’s organization must attend.
Kentucky does not have a strict ban against lobbyists providing meals to legislators, but there is a $100 annual limit. However, if there is an event where all members of the house or senate, or approved caucus are invited, the amount spent on food and beverages is not counted against the $100 limit.
Not only do many states have exceptions to their gift laws in relative to national legislative conferences, but some also have different reporting requirements. States like Missouri and Georgia allow for group reporting, rather than naming each legislator that attended. In South Dakota, lobbyists are not required to report their expenditures at national conferences at all, provided that the legislature is not in session at the time.
August 25, 2010 •
The DISCLOSE Act, or the Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act, has been the source of controversy and argument this past summer.
The Act was introduced as a response to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. It passed the House, but failed in the Senate before the August recess. It is headed back to the floor for a vote next month when the Senate returns.
The Act would amend the Federal Election Campaign Act as follows:
- Prohibit foreign-controlled domestic corporations from making contributions and expenditures;
- Require that prior to making any contribution or expenditure, the highest ranking official of a corporation must file a certification with the FEC that they are not prohibited from making the contribution or expenditure;
- Declare that a domestic corporation is permitted to create and solicit contributions for a separate segregated fund, as long as a foreign national does not contribute to or have any power or control over the fund;
- Require that any person or corporation that makes an independent expenditures of more than $10,000:
- File a disclosure report within 24 hours of the expenditure; and
- File a new report each time they make or contract to make another expenditures of $10,000 or more;
- Require that certain radio or television ads include a statement identifying the name of the committee responsible for it; and
- Require corporations, labor organization, non-profits, and political organizations to report additional information on their independent expenditure reports, including certain transfers of money.
Photo by Diliff on Wikipedia.
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