Weather not Frightful
Compliance…That is Another Issue
Well the weather
outside is frightful…
That is how this
column started but the weather has
been unusually fabulous. So I
re-wrote my column and am not going
to discuss the weather…but something
we all know more about.
reports you have due in January
could be frightening so we encourage
you to find a delightful fire this
month along with some corn for
popping. Turn the lights way down
low…And, let State and Federal
Communications take care of your
The State and Federal
complete with the important 2016
dates you need to know. Our offices
are open and staffed in December,
with the exception of being closed
on December 24th, December 25th,
December 31st, and January 1st.
You just cannot miss
when State and Federal
Communications is on your side.
On behalf of this
great team, we wish you and yours a
very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah,
and a Happy New Year.
Elizabeth Z. Bartz
President and CEO
Seattle, Washington Passes Democracy
November 3, 2015, voters in the city of Seattle approved Initiative
122, the “Honest Elections Seattle” ballot measure. The measure
raises property taxes to create a publicly financed elections
program, granting citizens "democracy vouchers" to support campaigns
of city candidates. On the first business day in every municipal
election year, the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission (SEEC)
will mail four $25 vouchers to each registered voter. Voters can
assign the voucher to any city candidate participating in the public
financing program. Only candidates opting to accept public funds may
receive the vouchers.
Initiative 122 also bans contributions from corporations with city
contracts and from corporations that lobby city officials. No mayor,
City Council member, city attorney, or any candidate for such office
may accept any contribution directly or indirectly from any entity
or person who in the prior two years has earned or received more
than $250,000 under a contractual relationship with the city.
Additionally, no candidate may accept any contribution directly or
indirectly from any entity or person who during the past 12 months
has paid $5,000 or more to a lobbyist or lobbying entity for
lobbying the city of Seattle.
Contribution limits are lowered from $700 per election cycle to
$500. Beginning with the 2019 election cycle, the limits will be
adjusted for inflation every election cycle. A revolving door
provision prohibits a former mayor, City Council member, city
attorney, city department head, or the highest paid employee
directly reporting to any such office from participating in paid
lobbying for a period of three years after leaving office. Penalties
for late campaign filings are increased from $10 per day to $75 per
day. During the last 30 days before any election, fines can range
from $250 to $1,000 per day, at the discretion of the SEEC.
Initiative 122 becomes effective after proclamation by the mayor,
which is expected no later than December 4, 2015.
Summary of Changes UPDATE
Note Recent Changes to
Michael Beckett, Esq., Research
CANADA: The Liberal Party, led
by Justin Trudeau, won the October 19 general election by a
landslide, taking 184 seats. Only 170 seats are needed to form a
majority government. Stephen Harper, the Conservative prime
minister, was unseated after three terms and almost 10 years in
office. Trudeau has stated plans to reduce greenhouse emissions,
legalize marijuana, and improve infrastructure.
On November 3, 2015, voters approved an initiative expanding the
state’s public campaign financing system. The Clean Elections
initiative increases both election transparency and the total pool
of money available to qualifying candidates. Organizations behind
political advertisements must now disclose their top three donors
and will face increased penalties for campaign finance law
violations. The new requirements will be effective 30 days after the
governor proclaims the official results of the election.
PENNSYLVANIA: City Council passed an ordinance to
overhaul city campaign finance rules. Introduced by Councilman Dan
Gilman in September, the bill raises contribution limits to mirror
those imposed by the Federal Election Commission for federal
elections, eliminates an exemption voiding limits if a candidate
gives more than $50,000 to his or her own campaign, and removes a
loophole allowing candidates to accept donations for the primary and
general elections at the same time. The ordinance took effect on
November 4, 2015.
FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA: Proposition C, a measure requiring
registration fees and monthly reports from expenditure lobbyists,
was approved by voters on November 3. The measure creates a new
category of lobbyists to cover grassroots lobbying by organizations
that employ lobbyists to influence city officials. The measure
imposes a registration expenditure threshold of $2,500 or more in a
calendar month for soliciting, requesting, or urging other persons
to communicate directly with a city official. Expenditure lobbyists
must pay a $500 fee to register with the city. The measure is
effective February 1, 2016.
VIRGINIA: On November 1, 2015,
the Virginia Conflict of Interest and Ethics Advisory Council
assumed responsibility for all lobbyist registrations and
disclosures. Pursuant to the passage of House Bill 2070, the council
is required to review all disclosure forms filed by lobbyists, state
officers, employees, and legislators. Paper and electronic versions
of lobbyist registrations and reports are available through the
council's website; however, electronic reporting will become
mandatory beginning with the December 15, 2016, report. House Bill
2070 followed an unsuccessful attempt to create the council in 2014.
In the previous instance, a battle over the state budget between the
General Assembly and the governor resulted in the council not
Legislation We Are
At any given time, more than 1,000
legislative bills, which can affect how you do business as a government
affairs professional, are being discussed in federal, state, and local
jurisdictions. These bills are summarized in State and Federal
Communications' digital encyclopedias for lobbying laws, political
contributions, and procurement lobbying and can be found in the client
portion of our website.
Summaries of major bills are also included
in monthly email updates sent to all clients. The chart below shows the
number of bills we are tracking in regard to lobbying laws, political
contributions, and procurement lobbying.
Number of Jurisdictions
W E B S I T E
T I P
Our website now has 2016 legislative session and key
dates information for all 50 states, the District of
Columbia, five U.S. territories, the federal government,
and Canada. In the Lobbying Laws publication, the key
dates information provides a schedule of all reports and
registrations due. In the Political Contributions
publication, the key dates information includes reports
due and scheduled elections. Continue to watch the
website for updates to the 2015 and 2016 key dates and
for the addition of key dates information for city and
Federal Communications’ Experts Answer Your Questions
Political Contributions Before an Election
is your chance to “Ask the Experts” at State and Federal
Communications, Inc. Send your questions to
(Of course, we have always been available to answer
questions from clients that are specific to your needs, and
we encourage you to continue to call or email us with
questions about your particular company or organization. As
always, we will confidentially and directly provide answers
or information you need.) Our replies are not legal advice,
just our analysis of laws, rules, and regulations.
What are the key components
for a successful government affairs compliance program?
We collaborate closely with our clients to create
comprehensive and effective compliance programs. During
this process, our clients often request guidance on best
internal practices and procedures. Certainly, there is
no one-size-fits-all approach—a successful compliance
program will adapt seamlessly into the fabric of the
corporate structure, making every program unique.
Notwithstanding, here are five common components for
successful government affairs compliance programs:
1. Centralized Oversight:
Great compliance programs have a strong
organizational structure with oversight and review
vested in one dedicated team of government affairs
professionals. All requests for corporate contributions,
gifts, and events should be approved by the central
team. There should be one employer signatory for all
state and local filings—one person who is responsible
for oversight and who can attest to the accuracy of
registrations and reports. This person typically has
oversight of internal team activity, which affords an
opportunity for a big picture overview of state and
The responsibility for all company reports should stay
within the company—contract lobbyists typically should
not be responsible for filing a company’s employer
reports. Often, non-lobbyist employee activity,
corporate contributions, and/or in-house corporate
expenses need to be disclosed on employer reports.
Contract lobbyists are not always privy to the necessary
reporting information. We recommend working closely with
your contract lobbyists to identify necessary reporting
information (percentage of retainer dedicated to
lobbying efforts, subject matter, etc.) and reviewing
draft disclosure reports against company invoices to
ensure accuracy in reporting.
2. Recurring Training
Opportunities & Assessments: Providing
adequate training opportunities for your team is
necessary to ensure compliance. Ideally, this should be
done on an annual basis, and completion should be
required and documented. State and local requirements
change quickly, as do team members. This is especially
true for sales and procurement executives. We recommend
a general training session or refresher course and
individual follow-up to assess registration and/or
3. Broad Outreach Across Lines
of Business and Departments: Contact with
state and local government officials is usually not
isolated to only the government affairs team—it can
happen anywhere in your corporation, from the executive
level to sales. A strong compliance program allows you
to reach across lines of business and departments to
ensure anyone engaging officials on behalf of your
company is staying compliant with relevant rules and
4. Clear Policies for Employee
Engagement: Can you identify clear internal
gift and contribution policies? Your compliance program
should utilize and strengthen your existing gift,
ethics, and corporate contribution policies. Ensure
these policies are specific. For example, what employee
activity triggers the policy? What activities are
prohibited? What activities require pre-approval by your
team? A well-structured compliance program will
disseminate these policies companywide, and include a
clear roadmap for employee compliance.
5. Open Door Policies and
Procedures: In sum, you must make it easy to
comply. If it’s too difficult to access information or
request approval, your employees simply won’t do it. Is
there an intranet, form, or a ticket system you can
utilize to ensure your employees can easily access
guidance? What resources do you provide to your
employees? Is there a company contact employees can
reach to discuss questions or concerns? Further, there
must be a fast turn-around time for questions and
guidance. The longer something sits in a queue, the
higher the risk for noncompliance.
In 2016, it will be more important than ever to keep a
close watch on your compliance program. Having a solid
program in place will help when questions arise from the
media, stockholders, and activists.
Expert - Myra Cottrill Esq., Client Specialist
Al Franken with Elizabeth Bartz in Akron
Ted Strickland on his campaign.
Former member of the Ohio Representatives
Ted Celeste, met with fellow Ohioan, Elizabeth Bartz and
colleague, Christopher Badgely at the SGAC Leaders
Wishing Katie Rennard, VP of the United
Way of Summit County, a great time as she retires to
Arkansas. She taught our staff the importance of
giving back to the community.
While in Miami at the SGAC Leaders Policy
Elizabeth Bartz met the United States women's national
soccer team (USWNT) champ, Carli Lloyd.
State and Federal
Celebrates Staff Anniversaries
Recently we celebrated the company
anniversaries of Emone Smith, Administrative Assistant;
Michael Beckett, Esq., Research Manager; Beth Commings,
Esq., Research Associate; and Joe May, Manager - Client
They are all assets to the State and Federal
Plan to say hello at future
events where State and Federal
will be attending and/or
speaking regarding compliance issues.
COGEL, Boston, Massachusetts
NCSL Fall Forum, Washington, DC
Advocacy Leaders Network - Creating a
Mobile Advocacy Toolkit,
CSG National Conference,
WGRToastmasters, Washington, DC
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The Mission of State
and Federal Communications is
to make sure that your
organization can say, "I Comply."
We are the leading
authority and exclusive information source
legislation and regulations surrounding campaign finance
and political contributions; state, federal, and
municipal lobbying; and procurement lobbying.
Contact us to learn how
conveniently our services will allow you to say "I
Comply" for your compliance activities.