June 15, 2011 •
Manual Addresses Changes to Campaign Finance Laws
The manual addresses the recent changes to San Diego’s campaign finance laws and how they will impact each type of committee required to make a report in the 2012 election year.
June 14, 2011 •
Issue Committee Threshold Central to New Colorado Complaint
Colorado Common Cause and Colorado Ethics Watch have filed a complaint against Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler alleging Gessler illegally “exceeded his authority to administer and enforce campaign finance laws by dramatically increasing the constitutional threshold for regulation of issue committees.”
At issue is Gessler’s recent adoption of Campaign and Political Finance Rule 4.27, which increased from $200 to $5,000 the threshold at which an issue committee must register and report. The $200 threshold, set by the Colorado Constitution, was found to be too burdensome in the recent Colorado case of Sampson v. Buescher. However, the issue of whether the court determined the $200 threshold to be unconstitutional, as Gessler contended to be the case in a statement released concerning the increased threshold, is central to this action.
“The Secretary is under the mistaken impression that he has authority to rewrite campaign finance laws, not merely make rules to enforce those laws,” said Luis Toro, Executive Director of Colorado Ethics Watch. “Disclosure thresholds are clearly not within the authority of the Secretary of State to change.”
June 13, 2011 •
Campaign finance news from San Diego
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has issued an opinion in Thalheimer v. City of San Diego. The Court upheld San Diego’s prohibition on political contributions to candidates, political parties, and political action committees by non-individual entities such as corporations and labor unions.
The district court’s injunction of the prohibition on non-individual entity contributions as it applies to political party contributions to candidates was affirmed.
The Ninth Circuit further upheld San Diego’s law prohibiting contributions to candidates outside of a 12 month pre-election window.
The district court’s decision to preliminarily enjoin a $500 limit on contributions to political committees that make only independent expenditures, which includes contributions by individual and non-individual entities was affirmed.
June 13, 2011 •
Puerto Rico has enacted the Election Code of Puerto Rico for the 21st Century.
The law repeals Puerto Rico’s previous election code and is effective immediately. The new election code creates a State Commission of Elections which will oversee all election and campaign finance rules and regulations.
The legislature has indicated that they are currently working on updating the campaign finance provisions which will create the Law for the Financing of Political Campaigns in Puerto Rico.
Photo of the Capitol of Puerto Rico by Mtmelendez on Wikipedia.
June 8, 2011 •
Limits To Case Before Him
Yesterday, the judge who ruled corporations may contribute directly to federal candidates reaffirmed his decision, but held it only applies in the criminal case before him. Federal District Judge James C. Cacheris continues to find the “logic remains inescapable” that the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United dictates corporations have the same contribution rights as human beings.
The judge writes: “Again, for better or worse, Citizens United held that the First Amendment treats corporations and individuals equally for the purposes of political speech. This leaves no logical room for an individual to be able to donate $2,500 to a campaign while a corporation … cannot donate a cent.” However, his decision states the “flat ban on direct corporate contributions to political campaigns is unconstitutional as applied to this case, as opposed to being unconstitutional as applied to all corporate donations.”
After reviewing the possible impact of his decision in US v Danielczyk, and the unaddressed political contribution issues since the Citizens United decision, the judge characterizes his ruling by concluding it “adds a small drop to what is already a very large bucket.”
This blog post updates a previous article, “Corporate Contribution Ban Found Unconstitutional” by George Ticoras on May 27.
June 2, 2011 •
Contribution Limits Increased
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has signed Senate Bill 1915 (companion to House Bill 1003) into law.
The bill allows corporations to contribute to candidates by removing the previous statutory prohibition. The bill also adjusts contribution limits to reflect change in the Consumer Price Index.
The new law is effective immediately.
June 1, 2011 •
In a continuing effort to better serve the needs of its clients, State and Federal Communications, Inc. is expanding coverage of laws and regulations for political contributions, lobbying, and procurement lobbying to more municipalities, regional governments, and governmental organizations.
We have added three new jurisdictions for which our online clients will find comprehensive, timely, and accurate information that includes: complete calendar of reporting deadlines; critical statutory citations; extensive directories of contact information; summaries of each state law; detailed reference charts on goods and services contributions; highlights of every statute; copies of all required forms; and much more.
The new jurisdictions are:
- Doral, FL
- Henderson, NV
- Spokane, WA
The image of North America by Bosonic dressing on Wikipedia.
May 27, 2011 •
Tips for Treasurers provides tools “to help you meet your obligations under the federal campaign finance law.”
The following was announced on the Federal Election Commission’s “Tips for Treasurers” page on May 23:
“The FEC’s Public Records Office and Press Office have launched a web page to track new committee registrations. Updated daily at 7:00 a.m. Eastern, it is available at http://www.fec.gov/press/press2011/new_form1dt.shtml.
May 26, 2011 •
New Law Changes Political Committee Requirements
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has signed House Bill 2080 into law. This bill requires every treasurer for a political committee to report the name and address of each candidate for whom an in-kind expenditure in the aggregate of $300 or more has been made. The political committee treasurer must also report the services or products provided, as well as the amount, date, and purpose of each expenditure.
A second provision in the bill requires political committee treasurers to report the name and address of each candidate for state and local office who is the subject of an expenditure, made without the cooperation or consent of the candidate or the candidate’s committee, expressly advocating the nomination, election, or defeat of such candidate, in the aggregate amount or fair market value of $300 or more.
May 26, 2011 •
An exception is made for political committees.
Effective January 1, 2011, political committees were required to file a quarterly report for the first time.
Due to a large number of non-filings by committees required to file this report, the Illinois Board of Elections is granting a one-time amnesty from civil penalty to any political committee that files their quarterly report on or before June 11, 2011.
Failure to report by June 11, 2011 will result in a formal complaint filed against the committee and civil penalties of up to $5,000.
May 24, 2011 •
Campaign Communications Disclosure Bill Vetoed by Governor Nathan Deal in Georgia
A bill concerning campaign communication disclosures has been vetoed by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal. Citing to potential vagueness associated with the bill’s provisions and First Amendment concerns, Deal vetoed Senate Bill 163.
The General Assembly will now have to muster the support to override the veto if the measure is to become law.
Senate Bill 163 would require a clear statement on all campaign communications concerning the source of payment financing the item or items used in the communication, as well as requiring specific disclosures depending on the person or persons financing the communication.
May 24, 2011 •
FEC Advisory Opinion Requested
The House Majority PAC and the Majority PAC, two independent expenditure entities, formally requested an advisory opinion from the Federal Election Commission asking whether federal officeholders and candidates may solicit unlimited contributions on behalf of PACs. The request was sparked by the newly created Republican Super PAC, founded by James Bopp, and its plan to ask candidates to solicit and direct unlimited contributions on its behalf.
These solicited funds would be earmarked for independent expenditures supporting or opposing specifically designated candidates. Additionally the request asks if candidates may participate in fundraisers for PACs even if they cannot solicit contributions.
May 23, 2011 •
Directly to Shareholders or Link From Homepage
Governor Martin O’Malley signed into law a bill which requires corporations to disclose to shareholders the dates and amounts of political independent expenditures and the candidate or ballot issue to which the expenses related, or post a link to this information from its homepage.
All entities making an aggregate independent expenditure of $10,000 or more in an election cycle will be required to file reports detailing information such as the identities of those making, or those exercising direction or control over those making, the independent expenditures. Included in the report must be the identity of each person who made cumulative donations in excess of $51 to the entity making the independent expenditure. Entities include corporations, partnerships, committees, associations, and labor organizations.
The law redefines independent expenditure to mean expressly advocating the success or defeat of a clearly identified candidate or ballot issue. Separate and distinct from the definition of independent expenditure, the law also defines electioneering communications to cover expenditures for broadcasts made within 60 days of an election. Based on the amount of money spent and the size of the audience of the broadcast, separate and additional disclosure reports may be required for electioneering communications.
The new law takes effect December 1.
May 20, 2011 •
Not Yet Signed
Reaction to the leaked draft presidential executive order requiring vendor disclosure of political contributions has been increasing. A hearing was held in the House last week to examine the proposed executive order, with testimony being presented from various witnesses.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, writing on behalf of a coalition of more than 80 business groups and trade associations, has strongly protested the proposed executive order, stating, “American businesspeople should not be forced to limit the exercise of their constitutional rights under a new and oppressive regulatory scheme.”
More than 30 public-interest groups have signed a letter in support of the draft executive order, writing, “In order to keep in check actual or perceived corruption in government contracting, it is imperative that there be full disclosure of campaign contributions and expenditures by federal government contractors.”
If the draft presidential executive order were to be signed, it would be effective immediately, requiring every entity submitting offers for federal contracts to disclose certain political contributions and expenditures made within the two years prior to submission of their offer.
Photo of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce courtesy of APK on Wikipedia.
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.