March 21, 2016 •
The Colorado Independent Ethics Commission is coming under harsh criticism in the wake of records released by the state auditor, with some claiming it is unethical. Often, the burden of investigating and presenting a case for an ethics violation falls […]
The Colorado Independent Ethics Commission is coming under harsh criticism in the wake of records released by the state auditor, with some claiming it is unethical. Often, the burden of investigating and presenting a case for an ethics violation falls upon the person filing the complaint. As an alternative, state Rep. Beth McCann is sponsoring House Bill 1216 to enhance the ability of the commission to investigate public officials who skirt the ethics rules.
One of the more specific issues addressed in HB 1216 is the role of the attorney general. Currently, the commission relies on the legal assistance of the attorney general; if the person accused of an ethics violation is an elected official, the attorney general must also provide legal assistance to the official. HB 1216 would require the panel to retain or employ independent counsel rather than rely on the attorney general.
October 29, 2013 •
Grassroots Activities May be Reportable as Lobbying Expenses
The Hawaii State Ethics Commission issued an ethics advisory in response to inquiries received regarding grassroots lobbying activity during the Legislature’s second special session. The Legislature convened on October 28 to discuss same-sex marriage, and many organizations involved in supporting or opposing the bill may be required to report activities to the commission under Hawaii lobbying law.
Grassroots lobbying activities such as preparing or distributing flyers and other mailers encouraging members of the public to contact their legislators in support of or in opposition to the bill; producing or paying for broadcast, print, or internet media announcements advocating for or against the issue; and organizing sign-waving or rallies to demonstrate support for or against same-sex marriage may all constitute reportable lobbying expenses under Hawaii law.
October 21, 2013 •
New Gift Law Provisions Created
Honolulu Mayor Caldwell and his transitional team came under the review of the city Ethics Commission recently for potential violations of gift law. The Commission found no violations due to a lack of established ethical guidelines but placed restrictions on future donations for inaugural or transitional purposes.
Safeguards put in place to avoid pay-to-play concerns include mandatory public disclosure of all donations, including the amount of and use for each, prohibition against asking current or prospective city officers or employees to solicit or make contributions, and requiring each donor/contributor to confirm he or she is not a registered lobbyist and has no future business with the city in which the administration is likely to be involved.
The Commission further held donations used to support legitimate government purposes, such as the transition between administrations and the official inaugural ceremony, are gifts to the city.
October 17, 2013 •
for April 2014
The Lakewood, Colorado City Council voted to approve new campaign finance rules October 14. The new ordinance caps campaign donations at $2,500 per person for council candidates and $5,000 for mayoral candidates. Additionally, cash and in-kind donations will be treated the same; together they cannot exceed the limits.
Other amendments to the ordinance require LLCs making political donations of more than $100 to disclose their members.
The ordinance also addresses complaints against candidates. The deadline to file a complaint has been changed from 180 days after the alleged violation to 120 days after the violation.
Finally, the ordinance outlines the threshold or point at which a person interested in running for an elected position becomes a candidate. Declaring candidacy, receiving a donation, or making a campaign-related expenditure all trigger the change in status.
City Attorney Tim Cox confirmed the changes will have no effect on the current election and will not be implemented until April 2014.
Photo of the Lakewood Civic Center by Jeffrey Beall on Wikimedia Commons.
October 14, 2013 •
Affecting Legislative Agent Reporting Requirements
A bill introduced October 10 by Rep. Robert Hagan proposes to amend sections 101.72, 101.73, and 101.75 of the Revised Code. H.B. 295 would require a legislative agent to report to the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee compensation paid to the agent by the agent’s employer. This would be an additional requirement, as the current sections of code require the reporting of expenditures only.
The bill was co-sponsored by Reps. Pillich and Foley.
Photo of the Ohio Statehouse by Wikimedia Creative Commons.
October 14, 2013 •
No Rulings Confirmed
On Wednesday, October 9, a three-judge federal appeals panel heard a challenge to Hawaii’s campaign finance law, paying specific attention to the ban on political contributions by state and county contractors and the spending threshold for triggering disclosure requirements.
Although no rulings have been made, the judges did appear skeptical regarding the constitutionality of the contribution ban on contractors passed by the Legislature in 2005.
October 14, 2013 •
Notice to Disregard Erroneous Email
Steve Friday of the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board announced Lobbyist IDs are not yet ready for pickup. Those who received an erroneous email indicating anything to the contrary should disregard it.
The board is waiting on supplies before the remainder of the ID cards can be processed. An email notification will be sent out when the IDs are ready.
June 30, 2010 •
State and Federal Communications, Inc. packs the macaroni at the 2010 United Way Day of Action.
When you think of macaroni, what comes to mind? Macaroni and cheese, comfort food, good times in the kitchen, childhood memories …
After serving at the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank, a team of State and Federal Communications employees will never look at macaroni – or hunger – in quite the same way.
Our team was privileged to serve at the Foodbank as a part of the United Way Day of Action on June 18, 2010. Day of Action serves as a catalyst to advance the common good by joining thousands of corporate volunteers with area non-profit organizations to improve opportunities for education, income, and health in their communities.
Our assignment was to assist the Foodbank by repacking bulk food items into smaller quantities for distribution to clients. We understood the concept, but after a quick tour of the Foodbank’s amazing facility, we were surprised to see 3 huge tubs (imagine the size of a small above ground pool) each filled with 800 pounds of macaroni. Forget the club store’s definition of bulk – when the Foodbank says bulk – they mean BULK.
Throughout the day, fourteen of us worked to repack almost 6,000 pounds of macaroni into smaller containers for distribution to non-profit organizations, and from them, to the people in our community needing food. By the end of the day, we worked through over 7 tubs, packed over 2,400 individual containers of pasta, and had a blast working with each other to serve our community.
All around it was a win-win situation. The Foodbank benefited from our service to move the macaroni along, and with the help of many other volunteers, set a new record for the amount of food repacked in a week – 76,825 pounds! Our company benefited from the team building fostered by volunteering together and the understanding gained about what can be – and what is being – done to feed people and fight hunger in our community.
As we finished our work, I thought of all those little pieces of macaroni, each one individually so small, and almost, insignificant. However, there is nothing insignificant or small about thousands of pounds of macaroni able to nourish individuals and families in need. And how do you get thousands of pieces of pasta – one by one. When you think your contribution is too small to make a difference, think again. If you contribute, and I contribute, and we all contribute, our impact grows exponentially and our communities, our nation, and our world are nourished.
Now, where’s that blue box? I think I need some mac and cheese, please.
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.