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.
May 18, 2011 •
Candidates for the runoff election for mayor of Colorado Springs are seeking clarification from City Clerk Kathryn Young following her statements to a local newspaper concerning campaign finance disclosure.
Following a report by the Colorado Springs Gazette noting mayoral runoff candidate Steve Bach had failed to include the occupation and employer of his contributors, which is required by state law, Young informed the newspaper Bach would have to file the missing information.
Young reversed her decision the next day, however, by calling the disclosure of the information “optional” due to the fact Colorado Springs election law trumps state election law and there is no specific requirement for reporting the information on the reporting forms.
This is not the first time confusion has entered into the campaign finance requirements concerning the mayoral election. In February, candidates received conflicting information about the legality of direct corporate contributions. The Colorado Springs City Council eventually adopted a resolution permitting the contributions in order to clarify the issue.
Photo of the Colorado Springs City Hall by David Shankbone on Wikipedia.
May 17, 2011 •
Court of Appeals Affirms Lower Court Decision
The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a decision of the District Court which upheld a new Minnesota law that revealed political donations from several corporations. The law was enacted in May of 2010 after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United freed businesses to spend corporate money on elections, overturning restrictions on corporate political spending in about half the states, including Minnesota. Minnesota lawmakers responded by enacting disclosure requirements to publicize corporate campaign spending.
In affirming the decision, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed with claims that Minnesota’s disclosure requirements effectively prohibit corporate independent expenditures and impose burdensome regulations that inhibit free speech. The Court continued that Minnesota’s regulations are similar to laws upheld by the Supreme Court and the regulations on corporate independent expenditures are less burdensome than federal regulations on PACs.
May 12, 2011 •
Today at 1:30pm EDT, the hearing examining the proposed pay-to-play presidential executive order will be held by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the House Small Business Committee.
Here is a link to the live coverage on the Committee on Oversight & Government Reform website.
The SunFoundation will be liveblogging the hearing at: http://bit.ly/mxIbFe
You can also follow the conversations on Twitter with the hashtag #opengov.
This post is a follow-up to Tuesday’s post “Hearings Set for Anticipated Executive Order on Pay-to-Play” by George Ticoras.
May 10, 2011 •
Federal Vendors May Have to Report Two Years of Contributions
On Thursday, May 12, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the House Small Business Committee will hold a joint hearing to examine a proposed presidential executive order requiring disclosure of political contributions by governmental contractors.
The draft proposed executive order, which was leaked to the press, would require 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. The disclosure requirement includes contributions made to federal candidates, parties, and committees, by the bidding entity, its officers, and any affiliates or subsidiaries within its control. Contributions made to parties for independent expenditures and electioneering communications would also have to be reported. These disclosures would be required whenever the aggregate amount of the contributions and expenditures by the bidding entity exceeds $5,000.
The hearing is scheduled to examine the proposed executive order, evaluate its impact and consequences on the federal acquisition system, and determine whether it introduces politics into the procurement process.
May 4, 2011 •
The new law takes effect August 1.
Governor Jack Dalrymple has signed Senate Bill 2073 into law.
The legislation, effective August 1, 2011, requires corporations making independent expenditures relating to ballot measures to file a report including the company’s name, the measure supported or opposed, and the monetary amount of the expenditure made.
This report, known as a “direct expenditure statement,” is due within 48 hours of making such an expenditure.
Photo of Governor Dalrymple courtesy of the North Dakota Office of the Governor website.
May 4, 2011 •
New Rules Clarify Requests for Waiver or Reduction of Campaign Finance Penalties
The office of the Secretary of State has released an amended version of the Rules Concerning Campaign and Political Finance, 8 CCR 1505-6.
The amended version has added guidelines concerning requests for a waiver or reduction of campaign finance penalties.
Requests must state the reason for the delinquency, as well as provide an explanation including all relevant factors relating to the delinquency and any mitigating circumstances.
Further, for waiver requests applying to more than one penalty, the guidelines will be applied separately to each penalty in chronological order using the single request as the basis for each.
Photo of downtown Denver by David Shankbone on Wikipedia.
May 3, 2011 •
Increased Contribution Limits Also Included
Bills legalizing direct corporate contributions and increasing contribution limits have moved one step closer to becoming law.
The bills would allow direct corporate contributions to candidates and would increase contribution limits by nearly 40 percent.
Photo of the Tennessee State Capitol by Ichabod on Wikipedia.
April 21, 2011 •
Lawsuit and Petition Filed
U.S. Representative Chris Van Hollen has filed both a lawsuit against the FEC and a petition at the FEC seeking to challenge regulations of disclosure requirements of contributions for “electioneering communications” and “independent expenditures”. In Van Hollen v. FEC, he claims the FEC regulation 11 CFR §104.20(c)(9), which requires disclosure only of those making contributions over $1,000 to an entity for the purpose of furthering electioneering communications, contradicts the statute which requires disclosure of all donors making contributions over $1,000.
The separately filed petition with the FEC requests they revise and amend regulations currently allowing independent expenditure groups to not reveal donors giving over $200 except for those contributors who gave for the purpose of furthering the reported independent expenditure. Representative Van Hollen alleges this contradicts the statute, which requires disclosure of all donors who gave over $200 to the entity.
April 20, 2011 •
A bill to tighten restrictions on political contributions has been introduced in the California legislature.
Assembly Bill 860 would prohibit corporations or labor unions from making contributions to a candidate for elected office. Additionally, this legislation would strengthen the state pay-to-play laws.
The bill would prohibit government contractors from making contributions to an official or candidate who is or would be elected to a position responsible for awarding a government contract to the contributor.
Finally, this bill would also prohibit any employer from using payroll deduction to fund any political activity.
Photo of the California State Capitol by Nikopoley on Wikipedia.
April 18, 2011 •
Missouri Law to Remain in Effect Awaiting Resolution of Appeal
The Cole County Circuit Court has stayed the court’s previous judgment holding the portion of Senate Bill 844 relating to campaign finance unconstitutional.
The stay does not apply to Missouri Revised Statutes section 130.031(13), covering who may contribute to a political action committee.
The stay order allows all provisions of law, including those enacted into law by Senate Bill 844 (except for section 130.031(13)), to remain in effect until a final resolution of the case on appeal.
April 7, 2011 •
The first of two compliance dates for Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Rule 206(4)-5, which had an effective date of September 13, 2010, passed on March 14, 2011.
The rule prohibits investment advisers from providing investment advisory services for compensation to a government entity within two years after a contribution to an official of that government entity is made, either by the investment adviser or by any covered associate of the investment adviser. This prohibition does not apply to contributions made by a covered associate to officials for whom the covered associate was entitled to vote at the time of the contributions if the contributions did not exceed $350 in the aggregate to any one official, per election. The prohibitions also do not apply to contributions made by a covered associate to officials for whom the covered associate was not entitled to vote at the time of the contributions if the contributions did not exceed $150 in the aggregate to any one official, per election.
An additional prohibition prevents an investment adviser from providing or agreeing to provide, directly or indirectly, payment to any person to solicit a government entity for investment advisory services unless that person is a regulated person or is an executive officer, general partner, managing member, or employee of the investment adviser. Nor may such advisers coordinate or solicit any person or political action committee to make a contribution to an official of a government entity to which the adviser is providing or seeking to provide investment advisory services or payment to a political party of a state or locality where the investment adviser is providing or seeking to provide investment advisory services to a government entity.
The rule has two important compliance dates. The March 14, 2011 date applied to investment advisers subject to the rule. The other compliance date, September 13, 2011, is when investment advisers will no longer be able to use third parties to solicit government business except in compliance with this rule. Additionally, advisers to registered investment pools have until the September 13 date to comply with this rule.
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.