October 27, 2020 •

The Chinese Communist Party Influence Transparency Act Introduced to Amend FARA

U.S. Capitol Building

U.S. Capitol - by Martin Falbisoner

On October 23, legislation was introduced in the U.S. Congress to amend and expand the Foreign Agents Registration Act to compel lobbyists for Chinese companies to register as foreign agents. The Chinese Communist Party Influence Transparency Act, introduced as identical […]

On October 23, legislation was introduced in the U.S. Congress to amend and expand the Foreign Agents Registration Act to compel lobbyists for Chinese companies to register as foreign agents.

The Chinese Communist Party Influence Transparency Act, introduced as identical bills in both houses of Congress by Rep. Mike Gallagher and Sen. Tom Cotton, would repeal the exemption from registration for persons, acting as agents of a covered Chinese business organization, providing private and nonpolitical representation of trade and commercial interests.

House Bill 8663 and Senate Bill 4843 would also remove the exemption for persons filing disclosure reports under the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 in connection with the representation of business organizations organized under the laws of, or having their principal place of business in, the People’s Republic of China. The bill defines a covered Chinese business organization as an entity designated by the Attorney General as subject to the extrajudicial direction of the Chinese Communist Party or an entity organized under the laws of, or having its principal place of business in, the People’s Republic of China (including any subsidiary or affiliate of such an entity).

The legislation would become effective 180 days after enactment.

Continue Reading - 2 min read Close

October 16, 2020 •

Yukon Lobbyist Registry Accepting Registrations

Yukon Legislature

Yukon Legislature

On October 15, the Canadian territory of Yukon’s new and first lobbying law came into force with the online Yukon Lobbyist Registry becoming live. Bill No. 23, the Lobbyists Registration Act, received Royal Assent on November 22, 2018, but only […]

On October 15, the Canadian territory of Yukon’s new and first lobbying law came into force with the online Yukon Lobbyist Registry becoming live. Bill No. 23, the Lobbyists Registration Act, received Royal Assent on November 22, 2018, but only came into effect this year.

Consultant lobbyists and in-house lobbyists are required to register. Registration is required for individuals communicating with a public office holder, directly or through grassroots communications, in attempts to lobby. Additionally, a consultant lobbyist is required to register when arranging a meeting between a public office holder and any other person for the purposes covered by the Act.

There are two revolving door provisions in the Act. For the six-month period after ceasing to be in office, a former public office-holder is prohibited from lobbying as a consultant lobbyist, but he or she is not prohibited from immediately lobbying as an in-house lobbyist. Additionally, a consultant lobbyist is prohibited from becoming an employee of Yukon’s public service for six months after terminating her or her lobbyist registration. Penalties for violations of the Lobbyists Registration Act include fines up to $25,000 for the first violation and up to $100,000 for each subsequent violation.

As of October 16, the lobbyist registry does not have any registered lobbyists.

Continue Reading - 2 min read Close

September 18, 2020 •

Federal By-Elections in Canada Scheduled for October 26

Temporary Canadian House of Commons in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

On October 26, federal by-elections in Canada will be held for the electoral district of York Centre (Ontario) and Toronto Centre (Ontario) to fill two vacancies in the House of Commons.

On October 26, federal by-elections in Canada will be held for the electoral district of York Centre (Ontario) and Toronto Centre (Ontario) to fill two vacancies in the House of Commons.

On August 24, Perrault had received official notice from the Speaker of the House of Commons that the seat for Toronto Centre (Ontario) became vacant following the resignation of Bill Morneau. Morneau resigned amid controversies dealing with his involvement with the WE Charity scandal.

On September 1, the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, Stéphane Perrault, had received official notice from the Speaker of the House of Commons that the seat for York Centre (Ontario) became vacant following the resignation of Michael Levitt, who left his seat to become the CEO of the Canadian Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre for Holocaust Studies.

The Elections Canada offices in York Centre and Toronto Centre are expected to open soon, according to its press release. As a safety measure because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Elections Canada plans to implement physical distancing at polling places and Elections Canada offices.

Continue Reading - 2 min read Close

September 15, 2020 •

Saskatchewan Lobbying Law Amendments Awaiting Order of the Lieutenant Governor in Council

The threshold for being required to register as an in-house lobbyist will soon be lower. Bill 195, The Lobbyists Amendment Act, 2019, which received Royal Assent this summer, will come into force once the order of the Lieutenant Governor in […]

The threshold for being required to register as an in-house lobbyist will soon be lower. Bill 195, The Lobbyists Amendment Act, 2019, which received Royal Assent this summer, will come into force once the order of the Lieutenant Governor in Council is given.

The bill reduces the threshold for registration as an in-house lobbyist from 100 to 30 hours; prohibits gifts to public office holders from lobbyists, except for gifts valued at less than $200 and that are given as an incident of the protocol or social obligations normally accompanying the duties or responsibilities of office of the public office holder; and grants power to the Lieutenant Governor in Council to make regulations concerning gifts and personal benefits.

The bill outlines a gift or personal benefit to include: an amount of money, if there is no obligation to repay it; a service, hospitality or property, including the use of property, that is provided without charge or for a charge that is less than its commercial value; and any other prescribed gift or personal benefit.

Additionally, Bill 195 directs the Lobbying Act not apply when persons are acting in their official capacity as officers, directors or employees of a non-profit organization, association, society, coalition or interest group, any of which has both a charitable purpose and fewer than five employees, if the lobbying activity performed by the officers, directors and employees combined is less than 30 hours annually.

Continue Reading - 2 min read Close

September 3, 2020 •

By-Election – York Centre (Ontario) Seat in House of Commons To Be Announced on Future Date

Temporary Canadian House of Commons in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Sometime before February 28, 2021, a by-election will be announced for the seat in the House of Commons representing York Centre in the province of Ontario. On September 1, the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, Stéphane Perrault, received official notice […]

Sometime before February 28, 2021, a by-election will be announced for the seat in the House of Commons representing York Centre in the province of Ontario.

On September 1, the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, Stéphane Perrault, received official notice from the Speaker of the House of Commons that the seat for York Centre (Ontario) became vacant following the resignation of Michael Levitt, who left his seat to become the CEO of the Canadian Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre for Holocaust Studies.

Under the law, the by-election date must be announced between September 12, 2020, and February 28, 2021, and will signal the start of the by-election period. According to Elections Canada, the earliest date the by-election can be held is October 19, 2020.

Continue Reading - 1 min read Close

August 27, 2020 •

By-Election – Toronto Centre (Ontario) Seat in House of Commons To Be Announced on Future Date

Temporary Canadian House of Commons in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Sometime before February 20, 2021, a federal by-election will be announced for the seat in the House of Commons representing Toronto Centre in the province of Ontario. On August 24, the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, Stéphane Perrault, received official […]

Sometime before February 20, 2021, a federal by-election will be announced for the seat in the House of Commons representing Toronto Centre in the province of Ontario.

On August 24, the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, Stéphane Perrault, received official notice from the Speaker of the House of Commons that the seat for Toronto Centre (Ontario) became vacant following the resignation of Bill Morneau.

On August 17, amid controversies dealing with his involvement with the WE Charity scandal, Morneau resigned from his seat in the House of Commons and as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s finance minister. Morneau intends to seek the position of secretary general of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, according to CBC.ca.

Under the law, the by-election date must be announced between September 4, 2020, and February 20, 2021, and will signal the start of the by-election period. According to Elections Canada, the earliest date the by-election can be held is October 12, 2020.

Continue Reading - 1 min read Close

August 24, 2020 •

Federal Appellate Court Upholds District Court’s Invalidation of FEC Disclosure Regulation

DC Court of Appeals

DC Court of Appeals - photo by AgnosticPreachersKid

On August 21, the federal D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a 2018 federal District Court ruling invalidating a federal campaign finance regulation limiting the disclosure requirements of organizations making independent expenditures. On August 3, 2018, a federal district court […]

On August 21, the federal D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a 2018 federal District Court ruling invalidating a federal campaign finance regulation limiting the disclosure requirements of organizations making independent expenditures.

On August 3, 2018, a federal district court had ruled a campaign finance disclosure regulation followed for decades by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) failed to uphold disclosure requirements required by a federal statute.

Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell of the United States District Court for The District of Columbia issued an order, in CREW v. FEC, vacating 11 C.F.R. §109.10(e)(1)(vi), but stayed the vacatur to give time for the FEC to issue interim regulations comporting with the statutory disclosure requirements of 52 U.S.C. §30104(c). The court also has allowed the FEC 30 days to change an earlier FEC dismissal to conform with the court’s ruling. The FEC has not yet replaced the rule.

The case originated because of independent expenditures made in a 2012 Ohio senate race by the non-political social-welfare nonprofit Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies (Crossroads GPS), an affiliate of the American Crossroads Super PAC. Crossroads GPS did not report donors when reporting its independent expenditures, while it acknowledged receiving contributions over $200, arguing the donors did not donate funds directly tied to any specific reported expenditure, as the FEC interpreted 11 C.F.R. §109.10(e)(1)(vi) to require.

Non-political committees making independent expenditures over $250 in a calendar year must comply with disclosure obligations closely analogous to those imposed on political committees.

The vacated regulation required the identification of each person who made a contribution in excess of $200 to the person filing a disclosure report, including for non-political 501(c)(4) non-profit entities making independent expenditures, if the contribution was made for the purpose of furthering the reported independent expenditure. The district court found the regulation, as construed and applied by the FEC, did not require the disclosure of donors, absent the donor’s express agreement that the funds be used for the specific expenditures reported to the FEC, even though the donor may otherwise support and in fact contribute for the purpose of funding those expenditures.

The district court had found the regulation impermissibly narrows the mandated disclosure in 52 U.S.C. §30104(c)(2)(C), which requires the identification of such donors contributing for the purpose of furthering the non-political committee’s own express advocacy for or against the election of a federal candidate, even when the donor has not expressly directed that the funds be used in the precise manner reported.

Continue Reading - 3 min read Close

August 17, 2020 •

Federal Lobbying Law Reform Bill Entered in US House

U.S. Capitol Building

U.S. Capitol - by Martin Falbisoner

On August 11, a bipartisan bill to amend the federal lobbying law was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. Submitted by Republican Rep. Ben Cline and Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips, the Lobbying Disclosure Reform Act would require registration with […]

On August 11, a bipartisan bill to amend the federal lobbying law was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Submitted by Republican Rep. Ben Cline and Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips, the Lobbying Disclosure Reform Act would require registration with both the Clerk of the House of Representatives and the Secretary of the Senate, move enforcement of the lobbying laws to the U.S. Office of the Attorney General, amend registration and reporting thresholds, and assign a unique identification number to each individual registering as a federal lobbyist and to each client of that lobbyist.

H.R. 8022 would also require the disclosure of any persons providing strategic lobbying services in support of a registered lobbyist, who would then also be assigned unique identification numbers.

The Clerk of the House of Representatives and the Secretary of the Senate would have the responsibility of assigning the unique identification numbers.

Continue Reading - 1 min read Close

August 11, 2020 •

FEC Adjusts Penalty Amounts for Inflation

On August 7, the Federal Election Commission’s published its civil monetary penalty amounts adjusted for inflation in the Federal Register. The potential fine for civil violations of federal campaign finance laws now ranges from $6,069 to $70,973. The amounts are […]

On August 7, the Federal Election Commission’s published its civil monetary penalty amounts adjusted for inflation in the Federal Register.

The potential fine for civil violations of federal campaign finance laws now ranges from $6,069 to $70,973.

The amounts are calculated through a statutory formula applying the most recent “cost-of-living adjustment multiplier,” issued by the Office of Management and Budget, to the current amounts.

The amended civil monetary penalties took effect as of August 7, the publication date.

Continue Reading - 1 min read Close

August 10, 2020 •

October 5 Byelection for Seat on Ottawa Ontario Municipal Council

Ottawa City Hall

Ottawa City Hall - by Taxiarchos228

On October 5, the city of Ottawa will hold a byelection to fill the municipal council seat left vacant by Stephen Blais. The vacant Cumberland ward seat held by Blais, who left to serve as the Member of the Provincial […]

On October 5, the city of Ottawa will hold a byelection to fill the municipal council seat left vacant by Stephen Blais.

The vacant Cumberland ward seat held by Blais, who left to serve as the Member of the Provincial Parliament (MPP) for Orléans, could have been filled by an appointment made by the council itself.

While Blais was elected as MPP in February, the council held off deciding about whether to have an election or make an appointment because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In July, the Ottawa Council agreed to allow voters the choice to fill the seat.

For the first time, electors will be allowed to apply to vote by special mail-in ballot should they feel uncomfortable about voting in person or be unable to make it to a voting location.

Continue Reading - 1 min read Close

July 24, 2020 •

Ontario Lawmakers Adjourn Until September

Legislative Assembly of Ontario building - Saforrest (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)

On July 21, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario adjourned until September. During the previous five months lawmakers authorized limited sittings and focused predominantly on passing legislation to deal with the public health and economic effects caused by the novel coronavirus […]

On July 21, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario adjourned until September.

During the previous five months lawmakers authorized limited sittings and focused predominantly on passing legislation to deal with the public health and economic effects caused by the novel coronavirus outbreak. 18 pieces of legislation in total were passed, with six receiving unanimous consent of all parties.

The Assembly is scheduled to reconvene on Monday, September 14, at 10:15 a.m.

Continue Reading - 1 min read Close

June 9, 2020 •

Canada House of Commons Recalled June 10 to Consider COVID-19 Bill

Temporary Canadian House of Commons in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

On June 10, the House of Commons will sit by order of a recall by the Speaker Anthony Rota, who issued the proclamation on June 8. Lawmakers are being recalled to consider a bill to enact certain measures in response […]

On June 10, the House of Commons will sit by order of a recall by the Speaker Anthony Rota, who issued the proclamation on June 8. Lawmakers are being recalled to consider a bill to enact certain measures in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

 

The House had agreed to meet following the conclusion of the proceedings of the Special Committee on the COVID-19 pandemic. The Senate, currently on an extended adjournment, is scheduled to next meet on June 16.

 

Since the start of safety measures to deal with the pandemic, the House and the Senate have been recalled under special standing orders for short one-day sessions.

Continue Reading - 1 min read Close

June 5, 2020 •

DOJ FARA Unit Publishes Letters of Determination

The Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building

On June 4, the Foreign Agents Registration Acts (FARA) Unit of the Department of Justice (DOJ) updated its public list “Letters of Determination” it has issued since 2017. The list was initially published on the DOJ’s website on June 1. […]

On June 4, the Foreign Agents Registration Acts (FARA) Unit of the Department of Justice (DOJ) updated its public list “Letters of Determination” it has issued since 2017. The list was initially published on the DOJ’s website on June 1.

The 15 letters made public were sent by the FARA Unit to potential registrants after evaluations were completed by the unit to determine whether registration was required. The letters, issued between 2017 and 2019, set forth relevant facts, applicable statutory and regulatory provisions, and the unit’s analysis.

While the names of the individuals and foreign principals who are the subject of the letters, and their respective activities being considered by the FARA Unit, are not redacted, the letters do contain some redactions.

According to the FARA Unit, “[The FARA Unit of the DOJ] regularly reviews information to determine whether an entity or individual has an obligation to register under FARA. Where such information suggests that a registration obligation may exist, the FARA Unit sends a letter advising the entity or individual of its potential obligations under FARA, and seeking additional information.”

FARA is a disclosure statute requiring persons acting as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity to make public disclosure of their relationship with and activities for the foreign principal.

Continue Reading - 2 min read Close

May 27, 2020 •

New IRS Rules: Some Tax-Exempt Groups Don’t Have to Report Contributors

IRS Building, Washington DC

Home of the Internal Revenue Service - by Joshua Doubek

On May 28, new Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations allowing certain tax-exempt organizations to refrain from reporting the names and addresses of contributors on their annual reports to the IRS will take effect and be published in the U.S. Federal […]

On May 28, new Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations allowing certain tax-exempt organizations to refrain from reporting the names and addresses of contributors on their annual reports to the IRS will take effect and be published in the U.S. Federal Register.

 

This exemption from reporting applies to tax-exempt organizations generally not receiving tax-deductible contributions, such as labor unions, volunteer fire departments, issue-advocacy groups, local chambers of commerce, veterans’ groups, and community service clubs. These organizations are still required to continue to collect and keep the donor information and to make it available to the IRS upon its request. This change does not affect the information required to be reported by charities primarily receiving tax-deductible contributions, such as 501(c)(3) organizations, certain nonexempt private foundations, or 527 political organizations.

 

The Treasury Department and IRS had given three primary reasons for the change: the IRS makes no systematic use of this information collected by these organizations; the policy reduces the risk of inadvertent disclosure or misuse of confidential information; and the policy saves both private and government resources.

 

Previously, the IRS had issued a guidance to this effect, but on July 30, 2019, the IRS guidance limiting these disclosure requirements was set aside by a federal judge. In Bullock v. IRS, the U.S. District Court District of Montana (Great Falls) found the IRS violated the Administrative Procedure Act by not providing notice and allowing a public comment period before the guidance was issued. It predicated this decision by finding the guidance was a legislative rule. Subsequently, on September 6, the IRS issued a notice of a proposed rulemaking and accepted public comment.

Continue Reading - 2 min read Close