September 7, 2010 •
The Georgia State Ethics Commission ruled that campaign candidate to candidate contributions must adhere to the limitations expressed under O.C.G.A. section 21-5-41.
The Commission determined the language in section 21-5-33(b)(1)(B) of the Georgia Ethics in Government Act which states a candidate is free to transfer excess contributions “without limitation to any national, state, or local committee of any political party or to any candidate” is not referencing an absence of limitation on such contributions, but is instead referencing the types of organizations to which such excess contributions may be contributed.
For further reading:
“Advisory Opinion – S.E.C. 2010-06,” by the Georgia State Ethics Commission.
This post is a follow-up to my previous article on Georgia campaign finance from August 30, 2010 – “Georgia Ethics Commission Advisory Opinion Coming,” by Joe May.
September 1, 2010 •
The state’s current campaign contribution limits will remain intact at least until after this year’s general elections.
A federal judge rejected Republican strategist Greg McNeilly’s request for an injunction on the limits, which have remained unchanged since 1976.
McNeilly argued the limits have not kept pace with inflation and constitute an infringement on his First Amendment rights. In Michigan, individuals can donate $500 to a candidate for state House, and $1,000 to a Senate candidate.
The lawsuit seeking to strike down these campaign contribution limits will be heard, but not before the November 2 election.
This post is a follow-up to a previous article on Michigan campaign finance from July 7 – “Michigan Campaign Contribution Limits Challenged,” by Steve Quinn.
August 30, 2010 •
The State Ethics Commission of Georgia is expected to issue an advisory opinion in the coming weeks concerning limits on campaign candidate to candidate contributions in the state.
Jim Walls, who runs the watchdog Web site AtlantaUnfiltered.com, has requested the opinion after language concerning such contributions and any limitations imposed was recently questioned before the State Ethics Commission. A vote by the Commission could remove caps on such contributions in the near future; however, if the vote were to remove the caps, it is expected to result in a bill being introduced before the state legislature to impose clear limits on these contributions.
For further reading:
“Ethics Commission to issue advisory opinion on campaign transfers,” by Walter Jones in the Rome News-Tribune.
“Law setting funding limits in elections could be gutted,” by Jim Walls in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Here is letter of request by Jim Walls to the State Ethics Commission of Georgia.
August 27, 2010 •
The Maine Ethics Commission adopted emergency rules to address regulations deemed “unconstitutionally burdensome” by a federal court last week. The new rules apply to political action committees, party committees, and other outside groups making independent expenditures.
Beginning September 7th, independent expenditures exceeding $250 must be reported within 48 hours of the expenditure. Starting on October 20th, independent expenditures exceeding $100 must be reported within 24 hours. Other reports of independent expenditures will be required on September 7th, October 12th, and October 19th.
Here is the Notice on Reporting Independent Expenditures on the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices Web site.
Photo by AlbanyNY on Wikipedia.
August 26, 2010 •
A ballot initiative in Alaska to put limits on lobbying and campaign donations was overwhelmingly defeated during the state’s Tuesday primary.
Ballot Measure 1 was touted as a way to increase transparency in lobbying and end “pay to play” politics. The measure was strongly and publicly opposed by unions, local governments, and business groups who were concerned the measure would have quieted the voice of many Alaskans in the political arena.
For further reading:
“Ballot Measure 1 soundly rejected,” by Lisa Demer in the Anchorage Daily News.
“Ballot Measure 1 rejected by wide margin,” by Ted Land on KTUU.com.
August 25, 2010 •
The DISCLOSE Act, or the Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act, has been the source of controversy and argument this past summer.
The Act was introduced as a response to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. It passed the House, but failed in the Senate before the August recess. It is headed back to the floor for a vote next month when the Senate returns.
The Act would amend the Federal Election Campaign Act as follows:
- Prohibit foreign-controlled domestic corporations from making contributions and expenditures;
- Require that prior to making any contribution or expenditure, the highest ranking official of a corporation must file a certification with the FEC that they are not prohibited from making the contribution or expenditure;
- Declare that a domestic corporation is permitted to create and solicit contributions for a separate segregated fund, as long as a foreign national does not contribute to or have any power or control over the fund;
- Require that any person or corporation that makes an independent expenditures of more than $10,000:
- File a disclosure report within 24 hours of the expenditure; and
- File a new report each time they make or contract to make another expenditures of $10,000 or more;
- Require that certain radio or television ads include a statement identifying the name of the committee responsible for it; and
- Require corporations, labor organization, non-profits, and political organizations to report additional information on their independent expenditure reports, including certain transfers of money.
Photo by Diliff on Wikipedia.
August 24, 2010 •
California campaign finance bill passes the Assembly and now goes to the Senate.
Anyone running for election to the boards of California’s two pension funds will have to disclose their campaign contributions, according to a bill that just passed the California Assembly.
The bill now heads to the senate.
According to the Associated Press:
“Under the bill, candidates would have to disclose any contribution of $5,000 or more within 10 days of receiving it and any contribution of $1,000 or more within 24 hours during the period immediately before an election.”
Here is the Associated Press source article by Cathy Bussewitz: “Disclosure considered for California pension boards”
Photo of the CalPERS headquarters by Coolcaesar on Wikipedia.
August 20, 2010 •
Federal District Judge D. Brock Hornby issued his ruling Thursday in a lawsuit challenging Maine’s campaign finance laws.
The suit filed by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) alleged Maine’s laws governing political action committee definitions, independent campaign expenditures, and attribution and disclaimer requirements were unconstitutionally vague and overbroad. The plaintiffs also raised a First Amendment challenge alleging Maine’s regulations imposed excessive burdens which would only serve to chill its political speech.
Judge Hornby did agree with some of the plaintiff’s allegations and proceeded to strike down Maine’s rules requiring 24-hour disclosure of independent expenditures over $250 as “impermissibly burdensome”. As well, state law’s use of the words “influence” and “influence in any way” were struck down as being unconstitutionally vague.
Judge Hornby went on to uphold the bulk of Maine’s campaign finance laws concluding:
“Otherwise, Maine’s laws governing PACs, independent campaign expenditures, and attribution and disclaimer requirements are constitutional, and survive NOM’s challenges they are unconstitutionally vague and overbroad and they impose excessive burdens that chill NOM’s speech preceding this fall’s elections and thereafter.”
The plaintiffs are expected to pursue an expedited appeal to the U.S. First Circuit located in Boston.
August 18, 2010 •
Registered lobbyists in Oklahoma have given more than $360,000 to campaigns for the fall elections, with statewide candidates picking up the biggest share of the contributions.
According to public filings, more than 130 registered lobbyists gave contributions toward 2010 campaigns. Republicans, who control the House and Senate, received about $190,000, while Democrats got almost $155,000. Another $13,000 went to nonpartisan judicial candidates.
Five statewide candidates each have received more than $20,000 in contributions from registered lobbyists, with Lt. Gov. Jari Askins leading the way at more than $36,000. Askins won a narrow victory over Attorney General Drew Edmonds in the Democratic primary for governor. Edmondson received more than $28,000 from registered lobbyists. The contributions from lobbyists, however, are a small share of overall fundraising for those candidates; the Askins and Edmondson campaigns have each raised more than $2 million.
August 17, 2010 •
Akron City Council voted Monday to place a campaign finance charter amendment before the voters this fall.
The amendment would increase the amounts an individual may contribute to a ward council candidate from $100 to $200 and at-large council and mayoral candidates from $300 to $450. The proposed amendment would also remove campaign finance language currently in the city charter.
If approved, council would have to replace the campaign finance charter provisions with an ordinance within three months time. Finally, council would be required to review campaign finance issues on a biennial basis with provisions made for public hearings as part of the review process.
Akron voters will vote on the proposed campaign finance charter amendment November 2nd.
August 13, 2010 •
The latest news on the bill to fix the Citizens’ Election Program in Connecticut.
The Connecticut House of Representatives voted to override Governor M. Jodi Rell’s veto of the bill designed to reinstate the public election financing program, which had been previously limited by a federal court decision. The state senate had already voted to override the veto.
The immediate effect of the vote is to provide gubernatorial candidate Dan Malloy with six million dollars from the Citizens’ Election Program, twice as much as he was originally scheduled to receive.
August 13, 2010 •
The San Diego County Registrar of Voters plans to launch an online database of campaign contributions in time for the November election.
Until now, those interested in finding out how much candidates for regional office had raised and where the money came from had to take a trip to the registrar’s office, pour through paper records, and pay photocopying fees.
Assistant Registrar Michael Vu says the county has earmarked $100,000 for a contract to put the information online. The Registrar plans to have the first batch of disclosures on the site in October.
You can read more about the San Diego County Registrar of Voters at their Web site.
August 13, 2010 •
The Supreme Court of Ohio has amended the Ohio Code of Judicial Conduct regarding rules governing the solicitation of campaign contributions by judicial candidates.
Rule 4.4 continues to bar judicial candidates from personally receiving or soliciting campaign contributions, but, under the revisions announced Wednesday, two new exceptions are available to judicial candidates. First, a judicial candidate may make a general request for campaign contributions when speaking to an audience of twenty or more persons. Second, a judicial candidate may sign letters soliciting campaign contributions if the letters are for distribution by the judicial candidate’s campaign committee and the letters direct contributions are to be sent to the campaign committee and not the judicial candidate.
The Justices voted 4-1 to amend Rule 4.4 with Justice Paul Pfeifer voting no and Chief Justice Eric Brown and Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger not participating as both are on the ballot this November. The Supreme Court’s move took place in response to a U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling which struck down similar rules for judicial candidates in Kentucky.
Here is the text from the announcement on the Ohio Supreme Court Web site:
The amended solicitation rule continues to bar judicial candidates from personally soliciting or receiving campaign contributions, but establishes two new exceptions to the personal solicitation ban. … Those exceptions are:
- “A judicial candidate may make a general request for campaign contributions when speaking to an audience of twenty or more individuals;”
- “A judicial candidate may sign letters soliciting campaign contributions if the letters are for distribution by the judicial candidate’s campaign committee and the letters direct contributions to be sent to the campaign committee and not to the judicial candidate.”
The amendments to Rule 4.4 became effective on August 12, 2010.
Photo of the Ohio Judicial Center.
August 11, 2010 •
The Government Accountability Board (G.A.B.) has settled the lawsuit brought by One Wisconsin Now and Wisconsin Club for Growth over the board’s issue advocacy regulations.
Per the terms of a settlement reached Tuesday, the G.A.B. will not enforce regulations requiring groups who run issue ads to disclose their financing if the ads they paid for aired 30 days before a primary or 60 days before a general election. Now, only advertisements advocating the defeat or election of identified candidates will be regulated in Wisconsin.
U.S. District Judge William M. Conley is expected to approve the settlement ending the litigation on August 11, 2010.
Here is the statement from the G.A.B. Web site.
For more news: “State agrees to drop new campaign ad rules,” by Patrick Marley in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Photograph taken by Dori
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