September 1, 2015 •
Q. I would like to contribute to political candidates in my state, but my company is a state vendor. Are there laws prohibiting me from making personal contributions? A. Whether an employee of a state vendor may contribute to political […]
Q. I would like to contribute to political candidates in my state, but my company is a state vendor. Are there laws prohibiting me from making personal contributions?
A. Whether an employee of a state vendor may contribute to political candidates varies widely based on jurisdiction. The answer may depend on the employee’s role in his or her company, as well as the position held by the candidate receiving the contribution.
Ohio, for example, prohibits a partner, shareholder, administrator, executor, or trustee of a state vendor from making personal contributions exceeding $1,000 to the public official with ultimate responsibility for awarding a contract during the contribution blackout period if the contract is not competitively bid. In this instance, the prohibition depends both on the title of the employee, as well as the position of the public officer receiving the contribution.
Other states prohibit contributions for contracts in certain industries. Florida prohibits individuals or firms providing legal or financial advisory assistance to the Division of Bond Finance of the State Board of Administration from making contributions to any candidate for governor or for a Cabinet position in Florida, during the contribution blackout period.
Connecticut goes so far as to prohibit certain state vendor employees from contributing to candidates, even if the employees are located out of state. For example, employees of a state vendor with the title of treasurer or executive vice president may not contribute to restricted Connecticut candidates, even if they work in another state for their company. Spouses and dependent children over age 18 of restricted employees are also prohibited from contributing.
Each jurisdiction structures its pay-to-play restrictions differently. Be sure to review the campaign finance law for the state in which you plan to contribute to determine if there are restrictions on state vendor employees or their family members.
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