I know it is March and the first quarter of 2020 is almost over…but here is what the State and Federal Communications team heard at our February staff meeting. Every year, Director Amber Fish Linke provides statistics, or analytics, of the work we did the previous year.

  1. More than 1,250 lobbying, political contributions, and procurement bills were tracked. Of those, 113 passed and 83 had substantive changes on our website.

  2. We filed more than 13,000 lobbying and direct corporate contributions reports for our consulting clients.

  3. If you consider pay-to-play reports, we filed 47 in Maryland, 20 in New Jersey, and 10 in Pennsylvania.

  4. We filed 283 LD-2 and LD-203 reports along with a number of LD-1 registration forms and additional reports providing directions, guidance, tracking, and review of reports.

  5. We vetted contributions of near $1,000,000 from more than 600 requests.

  6. Our European Guide includes the European Union, 27 EU members, the United Kingdom, and Scotland.

  7. For 2020, we filed 1,500 registrations for our consulting clients—1,377 in January alone.

  8. The staff in our Research and Compliance departments wrote 466 blog posts about relevant topics—An average of 39 per month and an average of 58 per staff member.

  9. We helped our clients with 11 audits of filings in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Tennessee.

  10. We added two additional questions onto our website. “How are lobbying fees paid?” and “Are contribution limits per election, year, cycle, or other?”

  11. We prepared hundreds of client projects addressing revolving door, gifts/events, preparing information for shareholder reports, and updating reports for clients to keep them current.

Yes, 2019 was a busy year and we are already starting 2020 in fourth gear. We are here to help you—our valuable clients—have the information you need at your fingertips.

If any of this triggers something you need done, give me a call. We are happy to make your life easier.

We are in Miami this week for the Public Affairs Council PAC Conference, learning what else we can add to our volumes of pages on our website.

Thank you.

Elizabeth Z. Bartz

President and CEO
@elizabethbartz


Maine Legislature Expands Restrictions on
Contributions from Lobbyists

Carlo Aguja, Esq. 
Manager, Research Services

Legislative Document 54, an Act to Limit the Influence of Lobbyists by Expanding the Prohibition on Accepting Political Contributions, has become law. The bill was passed last summer by the Legislature and became law without Gov. Janet Mill’s signature on January 12.

Legislative Document 54 extends the session ban restricting the governor, members of the Legislature, constitutional officers, and staff from soliciting and accepting contributions from a lobbyist or lobbyist associate to a year-round ban. Additionally, a lobbyist or lobbyist associate may not intentionally give, offer or promise a contribution to a gubernatorial or legislative candidate who is not the governor or a member of the Legislature, or the staff or agent of a gubernatorial or legislative candidate, at any time during the year. Previously, lobbyists were only restricted from contributing to officials during the legislative session.

The new prohibition does not restrict lobbyists and lobbyist associates from making contributions if they are eligible to vote or will be eligible to vote on the day of the election in a district where the governor, member of the Legislature, gubernatorial or legislative candidate will appear on the ballot. Legislative Document 54 also does not apply to the solicitation or acceptance of a contribution from or the offer or promise of a contribution by a lobbyist or lobbyist associate that is not the property of that lobbyist or lobbyist associate. An employer of a lobbyist or a lobbying firm are not subject to the year-round ban, but remain restricted during the session ban on contributions.

Legislative Document 54 allows for the gift of money or anything of value for bona fide social events hosted for nonpartisan charitable purposes; contributions supporting campaigns for federal office; and attendance at fundraising events held by a municipal, county, state or national political party. For fundraising events to qualify, the official may not be involved in soliciting attendance at the event and all proceeds are paid directly to the political party organization hosting the event or a nonprofit charitable organization.

An intentional violation of the prohibition against contributions from a lobbyist or lobbyist associate will result in a civil penalty not to exceed $1,000 for each violation. A contribution accepted in violation must also be returned to the contributor.


Michael Beckett, Esq.,
Associate Director, Research Services

FEDERAL: The Federal Election Commission (FEC) published its price index adjustments for expenditure limitations and the federal lobbyist bundling disclosure threshold. The lobbyist bundling disclosure threshold has increased for 2020 from $18,700 to $19,000. This threshold amount is adjusted annually. Federal law requires authorized committees of federal candidates, leadership political action committees (PACs), and political party committees to disclose contributions bundled by lobbyists and lobbyists’ PACs. Additionally, the FEC published its adjusted Coordinated Party Expenditure Limits for political parties for 2020.

MISSOURI: The Missouri Ethics Commission increased contribution limits for state House and Senate candidates. The per election limits have increased from $2,000 to $2,046 for House candidates and from $2,500 to $2,559 for Senate candidates. The inflationary adjustments are the first under a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2018. The $5 lobbyist gift limit for members of the General Assembly remains unchanged. There are several Bills pending in the House and Senate that would lower contribution limits. 

NORTH DAKOTA: David Thiele became the Executive Director of the newly formed Ethics Commission at the beginning of the year and chaired the first meeting of the commission on January 22. Thiele, a Bismarck resident and former judge advocate for the U.S. Army, said his background as an attorney and ethics counselor for the National Guard will help him establish ethics rules. State law gives the commission nine months from its creation (April 2020) to take preliminary steps to create the new rules. Thiele believes he can meet this goal, but noted the commission will give members of the public a chance to comment and could ask for an extension, if necessary. 

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA: U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer upheld the bulk of an ordinance requiring political ads to disclose top donors and secondary funding sources. Proposition F requires print, audio, and video political ads disclose the top three donors who contributed at least $5,000. If one of those donors is a PAC, the committee’s top two donors must also be disclosed. The judge rejected claims the ad disclosure law hinders political speech. While refusing to block most of the law, Judge Breyer agreed requiring lengthy disclaimers for small print and short length political ads is likely unconstitutional and indicated he will issue a partial injunction blocking those types of restrictions.

SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO: A federal judge in New Mexico ruled on January 30 that a Santa Fe ordinance requiring disclosure of campaign spending of more than $250 on a ballot proposition is constitutional. Santa Fe Campaign Code 9-2.6, passed in 2015, states that a person or entity spending $250 or more in support of or opposition to a ballot proposition must disclose all expenditures made and contributions received with the city clerk. Senior U.S. District Court judge Judith C. Herrera’s ruling stems from a 2017 lawsuit brought by nonprofit Rio Grande Foundation, which claimed that disallowing anonymous donations to the foundation was an infringement on free speech. While the foundation argued that anonymity protects donors from potential harassment from those who disagree with the issues being advocated, the judge found that the disclosure requirements of the ordinance serve substantial governmental interests


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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 regarding lobbying laws, political contributions, and procurement lobbying.
 

  Total bills Number of Jurisdictions Passed Died Carried over
from 2019
Lobbying Laws 269 40 11 0 167
Political Contributions 428 49 18 1 316
Procurement Lobbying 258 40 8 0 167

 


A valuable feature of our website is the ability to view an entire entry at once. By using the View All menu item you will be able to see all of the information in a chosen jurisdiction without needing to click on each of the topics found in the left side menu. The obvious benefit and the reason for the feature’s name is the ability to view and print out all of the information at once. One less obvious benefit is the ability to use CTRL-F within the View All feature to find information when you are not sure under which topic heading it appears. You can also use CTRL-F to find all known instances of a particular word, phrase, or citation throughout the entry. View All is available for all entries, including Canada and Europe, and is yet another way State and Federal Communications helps you work more efficiently.


   

State and Federal Communications’ Experts
Answer Your Questions

Here is your chance to “Ask the Experts” at State and Federal Communications, Inc. Send your questions to experts@stateandfed.com. (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.

As a federal lobbying registrant, we have some employees that engage in a minimal amount of lobbying activity during the course of the quarter.  What is our obligation to identify these employees and report expenditures associated with their activities?

Under federal lobbying disclosure requirements, registrants are required to include expenditures (i.e. compensation, reimbursed expenses, etc…) associated with any employee’s lobbying activity during the quarter.  However, registrants are not required to identify specific employees (by listing them on the LD-2 report) or the issues on which they lobbied unless they meet the statutory definition of a “lobbyist”—which includes...

Read the full article here

 

 

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Rebecca Pixton South
Associate Director, Federal Compliance

 


REPORT:  PAC ADVOCACY Conference

2020 marked the Public Affairs Council’s biggest Advocacy Conference yet, as hundreds gathered in Nevada for engaging seminars on the political contribution laws and procedures that shape our electoral process.  I was excited to be on the team of State and Federal employees representing our amazing company at the event, and was delighted to meet representatives from various firms we have the pleasure of working with. 

The conference delved right into the details of what types of advocacy is and is not allowed and how disclosure requirements do and do not work. Between 501(c)4s, joint expenditure committees, PACs, super PACs, grassroots advocacy, and traditional media, political advocacy rules can be confusing to keep track of, but the Council’s incredible slate of speakers made sure to keep things engaging, informative, and easy to understand. It also helped that our team got to relax in the evenings and enjoy Las Vegas. Be it visiting the fountains, watching Blue Man Group, or just walking the Strip, it is easy to see why this is such an iconic American city.

State and Federal attends conferences throughout the year to stay informed on all lobbying and contribution issues and in touch with our clients throughout the industry. Even if you don’t see us, though, know that everyone here is dedicated to continuing our quality work through the 2020 election and beyond!

Timothy Kilcullen
Research Assistant
 





State and Federal Communications hosted author, Eric Nuzum, as he
shared his newly published book, "A Creator's Guide to Podcasting".




Harvest for Hunger
Rep. Anthony Gonzalez with Elizabeth Bartz

after she made a presentation to choose to #BeTheChange and donate to make a difference.  Nobody should go hungry.




As a Co-Chair of the 2020 Harvest for Hunger event, Elizabeth distributed change boxes to 500+ guests asking them to collect their coins for this effort.
Huntington Bank has offered to talley up all the donations which come.

 


 



Attending the Akron Foodbank Harvest for Hunger Kick-off breakfast event was several staff
members of State and Federal Communications.
It was an impressive and touching program featuring many ideas to help support the foodbank.

 



Plan to say hello at future events where State and Federal Communications, Inc.
will be attending and/or speaking regarding compliance issues.

March 1-4

National PAC Conference, South Beach, FL

March 4

Ohio Birthday Party, Washington, DC

March 6

Akron Roundtable, Akron, OH

March 9-22

SXSW, Austin, TX

March 11

Women's Endowment Fund--
For Women, Forever Annual Dinner, Akron, OH

March 13

YouToo Social Media Conference, Kent, OH

March 18

Greater Akron Chamber Annual Meeting, Akron, OH

March 25

Greater Akron Chamber YPN Leadership Luncheon, Akron, OH

April 22

United Way Summit County Annual Meeting, Akron, OH

April 27

Akron Speaks Out for Values Breakfast, Akron, OH

April 30-May 2

ACES Conference, Salt Lake City, UT


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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 on 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.

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