July 29, 2010 •
Four Wyoming lawmakers are challenging the provisions of the state election code prohibiting political contributions by corporations.
The legal petition filed by the lawmakers asks a state district court to review Wyoming’s election law in light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. At present, Wyoming law prohibits corporations from making campaign contributions, a position which puts it at odds with the Supreme Court’s ruling.
While Wyoming’s election law hasn’t yet been challenged on grounds raised by Citizens United, it is seen by some lawmakers in Cheyenne as only a matter of time before a lawsuit emerges. The lawmakers hope their petition will preempt any such litigation against the state.
Here are some useful Wyoming links:
Wyoming State Legislature Web site
July 29, 2010 •
Akron City Council has approved legislation amending the city’s campaign finance law.
Under the new legislation, the city’s contribution limits of $300 for mayoral and at-large council candidates and $100 for ward council candidates do not apply when candidates are raising money outside of their own elections or reelections and other expenses such as “the duties of public office and seeking nomination or election to another office”.
The new legislation also lifts contribution limits for fundraising efforts by candidates for other candidates or for a political party.
July 28, 2010 •
On a vote of 57-41, the Senate Democrats failed to gather the 60 votes needed to overcome an expected filibuster of S. 3628, Congress’ legislative response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.
For the time being, the Supreme Court’s ruling stands. Another vote is thought possible in September after Congress returns from the August recess.
Here are three articles for further reading:
“Senate Dems lack votes to overcome Republican filibuster of Disclose Act,” by Alexander Bolton in The Hill.
“Dems table campaign finance reform,” by Meredith Shiner in Politico.
“Bill on political ad disclosures falls a little short in Senate,” by Dan Eggen in the Washington Post.
July 27, 2010 •
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has issued two advisory opinions approving the creation of two independent campaign committees which plan to solicit and accept unlimited contributions from individuals, political committees, corporations, labor organizations, and the general public.
The committees plan to use funds to make independent expenditures. Citing the recent Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission as well as a less-well known decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued this year called SpeechNow.org v. FEC, the FEC concluded corporations, labor organizations, and political committees may make unlimited independent expenditures from their own funds, and individuals may pool unlimited funds in an independent expenditure-only political committee.
In the case of the independent committee Commonsense Ten, a registered, non-connected political committee (Advisory Opinion 2010-11), the FEC concluded it could solicit and accept unlimited contributions from individuals, corporations, labor organizations, and political committees for the purpose of making independent expenditures.
In the case of Club for Growth, Inc., a 501(c)(4) corporation, (Advisory Opinion 2010-09),the FEC concluded on the same basis provided by Citizens United and SpeechNow.org it could establish and administer a committee to solicit and accept unlimited contributions from individuals in the general public, including contributions given for specific independent expenditures.
The FEC issued both advisory opinions on a vote of 5 to 1. Commissioner Steven T. Walther dissented in both opinions.
July 23, 2010 •
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has filed cloture on the DISCLOSE Act, Congress’ response to the recent Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.
The measure will come to a vote on the floor of the Senate early next week. Reid’s move begins the endgame for the legislation even though he does not yet have the votes to overcome the anticipated filibuster from the bill’s opponents.
New York Senator Charles Schumer, who authored S. 3295, the Senate’s version of the DISCLOSE Act, has modified the bill to address concerns raised when H.R. 5175 was passed by the House earlier this summer. Democrats hope the changes will be enough to win the support of Maine GOP Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, both of whom expressed reservations regarding the House bill. For example, Senator Collins believes H.R. 5175 provides unions with special exemptions and a corresponding unfair political advantage over corporations.
It is unclear at this time whether or not changes to the Senate bill offered by Schumer will be enough to overcome Collins’ and Snowe’s objections. The Senate vote could come as early as Tuesday.
If you are looking for more coverage, the Hill has two articles by Susan Crabtree:
“Sen. Reid sets up showdown next week on campaign finance,” July23, 2010
July 23, 2010 •
New Hampshire Governor John Lynch has vetoed legislation that would have permitted members of the Executive Branch Ethics Committee to participate in partisan political activities.
Senate Bill 440 would have permitted members of the committee, during their term of service, to participate in elections for federal offices, including allowing their names to be in used in endorsements of candidates. Members would have also been permitted to campaign for candidates seeking federal offices and make contributions to their campaigns.
Citing the potential conflict-of-interest that could arise from members of the ethics committee engaging in political activity, Governor Lynch vetoed the measure on July 20, 2010. “I believe that SB 440 would weaken the Executive Branch Ethics Committee and would compromise the ability of its members to discharge their obligations impartially in the eyes of the public. It could create the perception that partisan politics plays a role in the decisions of the committee,” Lynch said.
For further reading here is the governor’s press release.
Photo by Marc Nozell used under a Creative Commons license.
July 22, 2010 •
Maryland Lawmakers Regulate Social Media Activity
Lawmakers adopted rules for candidates using social networking Web sites, making Maryland one of the first states to regulate such activity.
Here are two articles for further reading:
“Candidates Must Adhere to New Social Media Rules,” by Julie Bykowicz in the Baltimore Sun
“Maryland Lawmakers Pass New Election Law Restricting Facebook Today,” by Chet Dembeck in the Baltimore Examiner
July 21, 2010 •
A new Massachusetts rule regarding independent expenditure PACs takes effect July 16.
The Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) has issued an emergency rule regarding independent expenditures by political action committees.
Emergency Rule 970 C.M.R. 2.17, which states a political action committee only raising funds to make independent expenditures, and then only making independent expenditures, will be regarded as an independent expenditure PAC. Unlike other PACs, independent expenditure PACs may raise funds from individuals without limit, and from corporations and other entities otherwise prohibited from contributing to PACs pursuant to Massachusetts law. Independent expenditure PACs are subject to all other requirements applying to other PACs, including disclosure requirements.
An independent expenditure PAC may not directly or indirectly coordinate its campaign activity with any Massachusetts candidate or political committee. If the independent expenditure PAC makes a coordinated expenditure it becomes a PAC subject to all requirements, including limits on contributions applying to other PACs.
Finally, the term “election” includes any preliminary, primary, or special general election. All preliminary reports of independent expenditures must be filed electronically. The emergency rule was effective upon filing on Friday, July 16, 2010.
Photo from the National Atlas of the United States.
July 21, 2010 •
State and Federal Communications, Inc. is sharing a report on how states are responding to the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.
To view the report, go to www.stateandfed.com and click on the “Citizens United Update” in the lower left of the home page. The report is free and available to the public.
The report tracks new and updated laws, and pending legislation, in every state responding to the January 21, 2010, Supreme Court decision. The court’s ruling had the practical effect of removing restrictions from corporations, labor unions, and others in making independent expenditures and electioneering communications regarding candidates.
“Back in January, we said the most important developments would come when the various states began reacting to the court’s decision. Our research team has found many states are responding with new legislation, while others are loosening rules and regulations in place for years,” said Elizabeth Z. Bartz, president and CEO of State and Federal Communications.
“Rules are changing all the time. Corporations, trade and professional organizations, labor unions, and government affairs professionals need to stay current on these changes to ensure they do not inadvertently violate recently passed legislation,” Bartz said.
“Updated and accurate information is of vital importance. That is why we are sharing this report with the public,” Bartz added.
The State and Federal Communications document – researched and developed by the firm’s in-house staff of government affairs compliance experts – is broken down by state and includes:
- Court decisions affecting particular laws in the states.
- Rules state commissions and ethics administrators have put into place.
- Opinions issued by state authorities in charge of campaign finance rules.
“We provide this information to our clients, along with comprehensive resources on the rules and regulations in the areas of lobbying, procurement lobbying, and political activities,” Bartz said.
“We help our clients stay compliant. That’s our mission.”
July 19, 2010 •
The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (G.A.B.) will convene a two-day meeting beginning July 21, 2010 at 9:30 A.M.
The two-day session will continue on July 22, 2010 beginning at 8:30 A.M. There will be open and closed door sessions on both days. The G.A.B. is expected to discuss a request to extend G.A.B. Emergency Rule 1.91 relating to organizations making independent disbursements.
Among the other proposed campaign finance issues on the agenda are guidelines concerning charitable contributions, campaign fundraising, campaign contributions by lobbyists and principals, candidates and the lobby law, and campaign finance registration and reporting. Day One of the two-day meeting will be held in the Joint Committee on Finance Hearing Room located at 412 East in the State Capitol. Day Two will convene in the G.A.B. board room located at 212 East Washington Avenue, third floor in Madison.
Here are some great resources from the GAB Web site!
Photograph taken by Dori
July 16, 2010 •
Mason submits campaign finance and lobbying recommendations for new Cuyahoga County Government.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason and the Campaign Finance Reform Committee, which convened in March 2010 to study campaign finance reform issues in Cuyahoga County, have announced four recommendations that will be forwarded to the new Cuyahoga County government due to take office on January 1, 2011. The recommendations include the establishment of an electronic filing system for campaign finance reports, the establishment of a lobbyist registry for Cuyahoga County, and the establishment of campaign contribution limits for county-wide offices. Finally, the committee recommends the new county government adopt a Clean Elections Act which would implement a voluntary, publicly funded campaign financing option for candidates for Cuyahoga County offices. Mason hopes the new county government will take up the recommendations quickly once it takes office next year.
Here are some resources for further reading:
New campaign finance rules proposed for Cuyahoga County, by Kevin Niedermier at WKSU
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason announces campaign finance reforms, by Laura Johnston at the Cleveland Plain Dealer
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 •
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon signed ethics legislation designed to help clean up Missouri’s political culture.
This ethics overhaul was a top priority for Nixon and legislative leaders this year. Among the major changes, the new law requires elected officials and candidates to report larger campaign donations within 48 hours. It also gives the bipartisan Missouri Ethics Commission the power to begin investigations on its own, without waiting for a complaint. The law also expands reporting requirements for lobbyists who invite groups of state officials to events. Under this new law, campaign disclosure reports must be filed electronically beginning in January, 2011 and the fines for late reports are increased significantly.
July 15, 2010 •
New Jersey elections agency will be holding a meeting.
The Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) will have a meeting at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, July 20, 2010 at the Commission’s office located at 28 West State Street, 12th floor, in Trenton. Executive Director Jeff Brindle will be on hand to chair the meeting. The agenda is expected to include recent staff activities, campaign financing, and other matters of concern and interest to the Commission. There will be an opportunity for public comment.
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.