August 11, 2010 •
After a long wait, Broward County, Florida has a new ethics law.
A contentious meeting of the Broward County Commission has resulted in a new code of ethics law for the county. The new law bars county commissioners and family members from accepting lobbyist gifts. It also establishes a new Office of Inspector General.
For more coverage of this breaking news:
“Gnashing of teeth, tongue-lashing, and ethics reform,” by Brittany Wallman in the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
August 5, 2010 •
The Madeleine Albright Collection is on exhibit until October 17.
The Smithsonian Institution Web site has a captivating page called “Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection.” On exhibit at the Smithsonian is the splendid pin collection of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Apparently, Albright chose the pins she would wear for official events according to the message she wished to convey!
According to the Web site:
“During her service as ambassador to the United Nations, and then as U.S. Secretary of State, Albright came to understand how powerful a symbol an item of jewelry could be, and chose pins to reflect her diplomatic mission, reinforce her negotiating position or express her pride of country and office.”
On the site you can see over one hundred years of art in a beautiful slide show of Albright’s pins. Some of the pins were of humble beginnings, some very expensive, but all of them are beautiful.
You will find many more temporary and permanent exhibitions at the Smithsonian as well.
Enjoy a video of the former secretary of state:
Better yet, you may wish to go and visit the Smithsonian and see the collections for yourself! But you better hurry, the Albright exhibit closes on October 17.
Many thanks to Nancy Messmore for pointing me in the direction of this exhibit!
Video from Smithsonian Videos on Youtube.
August 4, 2010 •
The use of political ads on Web sites and in social media continues to test the practice of political campaigning.
California’s Fair Political Practices Commission just released a report by the Subcommittee on Internet Political Activity saying political ads used on Web sites and social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter should be regulated the same way ads are on any other medium.
Here are two articles for further reading :
“Social media wrap: California watchdog recommends Internet political campaign regulations,” by Craig Howie in the Los Angeles Times on August 2, 2010.
“State panel calls for online political ad rules,” by Marisa Lagos in the San Francisco Chronicle on August 3, 2010.
August 4, 2010 •
A liberal and a conservative group join forces to fight a new Wisconsin law regulating political issue ads.
Wisconsin Club for Growth and One Wisconsin Now filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board. The groups say the new law infringes upon their right to free speech. The rule they oppose requires any group putting out a political issue ad to disclose the source of their money and how they spent it – whether or not the words in the ad direct a person to vote for or against a candidate.
The groups also raise the concern that the new law would bring greater internet regulation.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel offers this article on the challenge:
“Political opposites protest ad rules,” by Jason Stein, August 1, 2010.
Photograph taken by Dori
August 3, 2010 •
Connecticut governor vetoed campaign finance bill.
Governor M. Jodi Rell vetoed Senate Bill 551, a bill passed in response to the recent U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Green Party of Connecticut v. Garfield regarding the state’s Citizens’ Election Program, due to concerns over the state budget. Governor Rell had previously indicated to legislators her intent to veto any bill which increased grants to candidates participating in the program, but legislators chose to increase from $3,000,000 to $6,000,000 the grant to candidates participating in the general election for governor.
Rell criticized the decision, stating legislators “have taken a program that was intended to remove the taint of special interests and corruption from political campaigns and turned it into a welfare program for politicians.” Legislators are now considering a veto override to save the bill.
For more of the story, here is an article in the Boston Globe:
“Conn. governor vetoes bill to fix campaign law,” by Susan Haigh.
August 2, 2010 •
Three articles from the upcoming issue of News You Can Use.
“ME: Maine watching Arizona elections case,” by Kevin Miller from the Bangor Daily News.
Former Florida House Speaker Ray Sansom gets no plea deal because he refuses to participate in a sheriff’s work program:
“Ray Sansom Plea Deal Scrapped When Defendants Balk at Jail Gang Duty,” by Lee Logan and Steve Bousquet from the St. Petersburg Times
From Pennsylvania, Bonusgate staffer Stephen Keefer files a lawsuit in federal court:
“Acquitted Bonusgate Staffer Files Lawsuit,” by Brad Bumsted and Brian Bowling from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
August 2, 2010 •
On July 30, 2010, during a special session, the Connecticut General Assembly passed Senate Bill 551.
SB 551 is a response to the recent U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Green Party of Connecticut v. Garfield regarding the state’s Citizens’ Election Program. If signed by Governor M. Jodi Rell, the bill would limit contributions from communicator lobbyists, members of the lobbyist’s immediate family, and political committees established or controlled by the lobbyist or lobbyist’s immediate family to $100, while also banning the bundling of contributions by the same individuals.
Further, the bill expands the list of items not considered to be a contribution, while also prohibiting the knowing solicitation of contributions by state contractors, prospective state contractors, principals of state contractors, and principals of prospective state contractors from the contractor’s employees or a subcontractor or principals of a subcontractor on behalf of exploratory or candidate committees, political committees authorized to make contributions or expenditures to or for the benefit of specified candidates, or a party committee.
Additionally, grants to participating candidates would increase to $6,000,000 for the general election campaign. However, Governor Rell has previously indicated her intent to veto any bill increasing grants to participating candidates, citing state budget concerns.
Photo by jimbowen0306 in Wikipedia.
July 30, 2010 •
The Architect of the Capitol – Serve. Preserve. Sustain.
Have you ever wondered how the U.S. Capitol building always looks so good? The Architect of the Capitol is the agency that serves as the steward for the U.S. Capitol, the Capitol Visitor Center, Senate Office Buildings, House Office Buildings, Supreme Court, Library of Congress, U.S. Botanic Garden, and Capitol Campus grounds. Stephen T. Ayers is the current Architect of the Capitol, and there are 2,600 employees serving the agency. There have been only eleven Architects of the Capitol since 1793!
The Architect of the Capitol Web site has a treasure of information about many architectural features of the Capitol and the works of art in the Capitol Complex. The site says: “Since the laying of the Capitol cornerstone by George Washington in 1793, the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) has served the United States as builder and steward of many of the nation’s most iconic and indelible landmark buildings.”
Whether you are a visitor, someone who has lived in Washington D.C. for years, or just an interested reader, there are great videos, photo galleries, and rich histories about the buildings of our nation’s capital for your enjoyment.
The AOC says its job is to: “…Support the needs of nearly 30,000 occupants and millions of tourists who visit the campus annually; ensure the buildings and grounds meet modern standards for sustainability and accessibility; and preserve the historical legacy of the landmarks entrusted to the AOC’s care.”
Enjoy wandering through this great site, but be careful – you may find that when it is over, hours have just disappeared!
July 26, 2010 •
The National Conference of State Legislatures Summit 2010 is under way and we are there.
Elizabeth Bartz, Nola Werren, Tony Pasquale, and Ren Koozer from State and Federal Communications, Inc. are attending the National Conference of State Legislatures 2010 Legislative Summit in Louisville, Ky.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell opened the event at Monday morning’s general session.
Our own Client Specialist Nola Werren, Esq. will be moderating for the forum “Citizens United v. FEC: Political Blockbuster or Not?” on Tuesday, July 27, from 1 to 2 p.m. in Room CC108 – Level 1.
If you happen to be at the NCSL Summit, be sure to drop by and visit with us at booth #310! For those of you who would like to follow us on Twitter, use #SFC_NCSL as your hashtag!
July 16, 2010 •
The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued two separate decisions in regards to the case of Green Party of Connecticut v. Garfield on July 13, 2010, one decision affecting the Connecticut Campaign Finance Reform Act (CFRA) and another affecting the state’s Citizens Election Program (CEP).
In the first decision, the court affirmed the U.S. District Court’s decision upholding the CFRA’s ban on contributions by state contractors, prospective state contractors, and the principals of contractors and prospective state contractors, as well as the spouse and dependent children of these individuals. However, in a reversal of the lower court’s decision, the Second Circuit struck down the ban on contributions from lobbyists and their families.
In the second decision, the court overturned a prior U.S. District Court decision which had declared the Citizens Election Program’s public financing for qualifying candidates as unconstitutional on the basis it discriminated against minor parties and their candidates. The court, however, agreed with the earlier decision in finding the CEP to unconstitutionally infringe upon the First Amendment rights to free speech of privately funded wealthy candidates when the state’s program required extra public funds be distributed to publicly funded candidates when certain financing “triggers” had been achieved. The Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission is expected to meet with the attorney general to determine the next course of action.
(Image from the National Atlas of the United States)
July 15, 2010 •
News concerning the campaign finance overhall.
U.S. Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) announced he would oppose the DISCLOSE Act, depriving Democrats of an important swing vote on the legislation. For more insight on the future of the campaign finance bill, here are three articles:
Brown’s opposition dims chances for campaign finance overhaul, by Matt Viser in the Boston Globe.
July 6, 2010 •
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed House Bill 292.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed House Bill 292, a measure which will switch the state’s congressional elections to an open primary system, effective for the 2012 congressional elections.
Instead of the currently utilized three-tiered election cycle, wherein there is a party primary, followed by a party runoff, and culminating with the general election, HB 292 now advances the candidates with the top two vote totals from the primary to the November general election, regardless of party affiliation.
Jindal was under pressure from both political parties to not sign the bill into law, but he noted that the measure will potentially save the state more than $13 million during each congressional election cycle.
July 1, 2010 •
The Georgia SEC will be hosting a training July 7.
The Georgia State Ethics Commission will be offering training for committees other than candidate committees on Wednesday, July 7, 2010. The training session is scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. and be completed by 11:00 a.m. Training will take place in Suite 1514C-West Tower of the Commission’s offices located at 200 Piedmont Avenue in Atlanta. Those wishing to attend the training may RSVP online or contact Maria Cartwright for further details.
June 30, 2010 •
News from the Supreme Court ruling.
The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed without comment a lower court ruling upholding a ban on soft-money contributions to political parties.
From The Hill – “Supreme Court affirms ban on soft money,” by Russell Berman 6-29-2010
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