December 30, 2010 •
News Rules Respond to Citizens United
Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has announced permanent rules affecting the disclosure of corporate independent expenditures in Ohio.
The rules address the impact of the recent Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The new rules address campaign expenditures by corporations, nonprofit corporations and labor organizations by requiring disclosure of the amounts the groups spend for independent campaign advertisements for or against a candidate or committee.
Affected groups who make independent expenditures will now have to include their Internet web address in their ads and must also disclose their ads have not been authorized by a candidate or committee. Independent expenditures by corporations or businesses with 20 percent or more foreign ownership are prohibited by the new rules. Finally, corporations or businesses which have been awarded state or federal money will not be allowed to influence Ohio elections with independent expenditures within a year of the award.
“The Citizens United case now allows corporations to make independent expenditures for and against candidates in state and federal campaigns, “ said Secretary Brunner. “I am pleased Ohio has in place new rules so Ohioans will know who is trying to influence their votes in Ohio elections.”
The new rules take effect January 7, 2011. You may view the rules at the Register of Ohio Web site.
Photo of Ohio Statehouse by Alexander Smith on Wikipedia.
December 28, 2010 •
Bringing you some timely schedule information to keep in mind.
IDAHO: The Idaho Secretary of State’s office will be closed December 31, 2010 in observance of the New Year’s holiday. Normal business hours will resume Monday, January 3, 2011.
OHIO: The Ohio Secretary of State’s office will be closed Friday, December 31, 2010 in observance of the New Year’s holiday. Normal business hours will resume Monday, January 3, 2011.
WYOMING: The Wyoming Secretary of State’s office will be closed December 31, 2010 in observance of the New Year’s holiday. Normal business hours will resume Monday, January 3, 2011.
December 22, 2010 •
Bringing you some timely schedule information to keep in mind.
MAINE: The Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices will be closed December 23rd for a state government closure day. The Commission will also be closed the following day, December 24th, in observance of the Christmas holiday and on December 31st in observance of the New Year’s holiday.
WISCONSIN: The Government Accountability Board will be closed on December 24th, 2010 in observance of the Christmas holiday and on December 31st in observance of the New Year’s holiday.
December 21, 2010 •
He starts January 1, 2011.
Paul M. Nick has been designated Interim Director of the Ohio Ethics Commission beginning January 1, 2011.
The Commission will meet on January 6, 2011 to formalize the appointment. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the Ohio Ethics Commission was unable to convene with a required quorum on December 20, 2011 to select an Interim Director. After consulting with the Commission Chair, Ben Rose, Executive Director David Freel designated Mr. Nick to succeed him in the interim. The Ohio Ethics Commission has begun a search for a permanent replacement for Director Freel who retires at the end of this year.
Paul Nick currently serves as the Ohio Ethics Commission’s Chief Investigative Attorney and has held the position since 2000. Mr. Nick joined the Commission in 1995 as Investigative Counsel. Prior to his experience with the Commission, Mr. Nick was an Assistant City Prosecutor with the City of Columbus.
You may read the Ohio Ethics Commission press release announcing Mr. Nick’s appointment here.
December 16, 2010 •
The attendees enjoyed a variety of informative break-out sessions which covered a number of topics including recent developments in lobbying and campaign finance regulation.
The President and CEO of State and Federal Communication, Inc., Elizabeth Bartz, together with research manager John Cozine and staff members: Jim Sedor, Joe May, Megan Huber, Sarah Gray, and David Dobo recently attended the 2010 Council on Government Ethics Laws (COGEL) conference in Washington, D.C. from December 5 to 8, 2010.
The attendees enjoyed a variety of informative break-out sessions which covered a number of topics including recent developments in lobbying and campaign finance regulation. The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission loomed large at this year’s conference. Many of the panels covered the implications of the decision as it relates to federal and state campaign finance laws. Since the decision was announced in January of this year, many states have had to amend statutes which were partially or completely overturned by the ruling. It was interesting to see how representatives of the different jurisdictions explained their state’s or city’s legislative response to Citizens United. It was also interesting to see which of the dire predictions made by the media in the wake of the decision have come true and which have failed to manifest since the ruling was announced. Experts from the legal profession as well as the Federal Election Commission were on-hand to shed light on the fall-out from what may be the most important campaign finance legal decision of the decade.
On Tuesday, the attendees from State and Federal Communications met the other Ohio-based COGEL participants for lunch at the Westin Hotel on M Street. Tony Bledsoe, Legislative Inspector General for the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee and his assistant joined the table. Also, David Freel, Executive Director of the Ohio Ethics Commission and his senior deputies took the opportunity to break bread with their fellow Buckeyes. It’s something of a State and Federal Communications tradition to bring all the folks from back home together for a good meal and good fellowship. The next All-Ohio COGEL lunch will be held in December 2011 in an As-Yet-To-Be-Determined location somewhere in downtown Nashville, Tennessee.
December 14, 2010 •
The Government Accountability Board December 2010 meeting will convene Tuesday, December 14 and Wednesday, December 15, 2010.
The meeting was postponed one day due to inclement weather. The open session will convene Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. The closed session will convene Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. The Government Accountability Board has scheduled its next meeting for Thursday, January 13, 2011. The meeting will be conducted by teleconference.
The public can observe the meeting at the Government Accountability Board offices, 212 East Washington Avenue, Third Floor in Madison, Wisconsin, beginning at 10:00 am.
The Government Accountability Board meeting notice and supplementary materials may be accessed here.
December 13, 2010 •
Secretary of State Rolls Out New Electronic Filing System for Lobbyists
On December 15, 2010, the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office will roll-out a new electronic filing system for lobbyists and clients. The new electronic filing system is for 2011 new registrations and lobbying reports.
All 2010 cycle reports will be still be filed on paper.
The new electronic filing system may be accessed at: http://www.sos.ms.gov/elec/portal/msel/portal.aspx
December 10, 2010 •
Elizabeth Z. Bartz, President and CEO of State and Federal Communications, Inc. today introduced The Honorable Don Plusquellic, Mayor of Akron and The Honorable Russ Pry, Summit County Executive, at the Greater Akron Chamber’s 7th Annual Local Elected Officials Recognition Luncheon.
Elizabeth Bartz nominated Mayor Don Plusquellic for recognition as one of this year’s honorees. “Mayor Plusquellic has been an outstanding leader of our city, in our region, and as past President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, in our nation. As a member of the business community, it was an honor to nominate Mayor Plusquellic for this richly deserved recognition. Together with Summit County Executive Russ Pry, we have an outstanding leadership team in our city and county,” said Elizabeth Bartz.
Mayor Plusquellic, Executive Russ Pry, Medina County Commissioner Stephen Hambley, and Portage County Engineer Michael Marozzi today joined the ranks of other local elected officials honored by the Greater Akron Chamber. The annual luncheon recognizes exemplary contributions to the advancement of the greater Akron area by removing the barriers to economic growth, streamlining government requirements for economic development, and pursuing creative and alternative funding for infrastructure development and enhancement. Each year the Greater Akron Chamber recognizes local elected officials in Summit, Medina, and Portage Counties for their commitment to economic growth and development as well as community improvement.
December 2, 2010 •
The Wisconsin Supreme Court will hear a case regarding a campaign finance rule amendment requiring groups to disclose the source of funding for political advertisements made prior to elections.
At the heart of the controversy is the Government Accountability Board’s (G.A.B.) rule which took effect August 1, 2010. The rule says advertisements broadcast in the weeks before an election must disclose their funding sources even if they do not expressly advocate a vote for or against a party or candidate.
Prior to the amendment, groups could evade disclosure requirements by running advertisements disguised as issue advocacy, so-called “phony issue ads”. Such ads were not considered political in nature as they did not contain what G.A.B. spokesperson Reid Magney calls the “magic words”: specific calls for viewers to vote for, elect, or approve a given candidate. The G.A.B.’s rule was meant close the “phony issue ad” loophole.
The Wisconsin legislature, for its part, permitted the G.A.B. rule to come into force on August 1, 2010. Since the rule’s effective date, however, groups across the state have claimed the rule infringes on their First Amendment rights to free speech. Several lawsuits, including two in federal court, have been filed challenging the rule’s constitutionality.
The judges in both federal cases have stayed the suits filed in their courts pending a resolution in the state case. Oral arguments begin in the Wisconsin Supreme Court on March 9, 2011.
November 30, 2010 •
Download is available in December.
The Texas Ethics Commission has issued a public notice to all lobbyists registered with the commission. The commission advises all filers to install the newest lobby electronic filing software, version 2.5.3, prior to filing a lobby activities report. In Texas, lobbyists required to register with the commission may include corporations, partnerships, association or other types of business entities as well as individuals.
The new software will be available for download on the Ethics Commission website beginning December 1, 2010 at: www.ethics.state.tx.us/whatsnew/elf_info_lobby.htm
Image of the Seal of the State of Texas by Juan Vega on Wikipedia.
November 24, 2010 •
Office Open For Business On November 26th
The Government Accountability Board (G.A.B.) will be open on Friday, November 26, 2010. Most other state offices will be closed for a mandatory furlough day. The G.A.B.’s next mandatory furlough day is scheduled for April 22, 2011.
November 23, 2010 •
The Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) has released its Fall 2010 newsletter.
Included in the newsletter is guidance detailing the new requirement for mayoral candidates in cities with population sizes between 40,000 and 100,000 persons to file electronically with OCPF rather than with local elections officers. Starting this coming January with the year-end report due on January 20, 2011, mayoral candidates are required to file with OCPF if they anticipate raising or spending $5,000 or more during an election cycle. During election years, mayoral candidates will file three reports with OCPFL: the pre-primary, pre-election and year end reports. In non-election years, candidates will only file a year-end report.
According to recent census figures, candidates in 23 Massachusetts cities are affected by the new requirement. The largest of these cities are Quincy, New Bedford, Fall River and Brockton. Mayoral candidates in Boston, Lowell, Worcester, Springfield, and Cambridge already file their reports with OCPF.
Other changes to state law will require Internet disclosure for all municipal candidates who raise or spend $1,000 or more during a reporting period. The paper reports for candidates for city council, selectmen, school committee candidates, and local ballot question committees will now be posted to municipal websites by local election officials. The OCPF newsletter may be found here.
Photo of Boston by Riptor3000 on Wikipedia.
November 19, 2010 •
The Government Accountability Board (G.A.B.) has released figures detailing the $9.96 million spent in 2010 as independent expenditures by groups including labor union and corporation political action committees.
Ninety-nine percent of expenditures went to the Fall general election. Corporations and other organizations registered with the G.A.B., so-called 1.91 organizations, spent $2,499,494. Labor union PACs spent $1,688,880 with corporation PACs spending $1,950,524. Other committee types spent $3,791,573 for a grand total of independent expenditures for the Fall 2010 Elections of: $9,930,472.
“This is the first time corporations and organizations other than PACs have been required to report spending on political campaigns, “ said Kevin Kennedy, director and general counsel of the G.A.B. “This shows the importance of disclosure of political activity. And yet, so much more campaign spending was not required to be disclosed”.
Photo of the Wisconsin State Capitol at night by Darin ten Bruggencate on Wikipedia.
November 16, 2010 •
The King Street Patriots, a non-profit, non-partisan group, have counter-sued the Texas Democratic Party while simultaneously asking a state judge to strike down significant portions of the Texas Election Code.
Citing extensively to the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC, King Street Patriots, with the aid of Indiana attorney James Bopp, allege Texas law governing campaign finance contributions is unconstitutional. King Street Patriots claim Texas’s general ban on corporate political contributions violate the principles established in Citizens United because it permits non-corporate groups and individuals to make political contributions, but bans corporations from making the same speech.
The claim is also advanced Texas’s ban violates the First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendments because it creates an unconstitutional content and speaker-based restriction on speech.King Street Patriots have also targeted Texas law’s reporting requirements associated with direct campaign expenditures by individuals as well as the 30 and 60-day blackout provisions banning contributions by political committees which form close to election dates.
Finally, The King Street Patriots allege Texas law unconstitutionally burdens the free speech of individuals by imposing the same reporting burdens on individuals who wish to make direct campaign contributions over $100 as are associated with political committees conducting a similar activity. The case is currently pending in Travis County District Court.
State and Federal Communications, Inc. provides research and consulting services for government relations professionals on lobbying laws, procurement lobbying laws, political contribution laws in the United States and Canada. Learn more by visiting stateandfed.com