March 6, 2020 •

Nomination for Fourth FEC Commissioner to be Considered

On March 10, the U.S. Senate Rules and Administration Committee will hold a nomination hearing. This will comprise of the full committee to consider James “Trey” Trainor as a commissioner on the Federal Election Commission (FEC).   Trainor is a […]

On March 10, the U.S. Senate Rules and Administration Committee will hold a nomination hearing.

This will comprise of the full committee to consider James “Trey” Trainor as a commissioner on the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

 

Trainor is a lawyer licensed in Texas who specializes in election law, campaign finance, and ethics.

Trainor previously served in the president’s administration as a Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, in the Department of Defense, Office of General Counsel.

President Donald J. Trump had originally nominated Trainor to serve as a commissioner in 2017, but a hearing was never held.

 

Currently the FEC, which has three of its six commissioner positions vacant, does not have a quorum to take most formal measures.

The FEC requires at least four commissioners to agree on any official action.

 

To become a commissioner, Trainor must be confirmed by the full U.S. Senate.

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March 4, 2020 •

British Columbia In-House Lobbyist Guidance Issued For Upcoming Changes

British Columbia Legislature

British Columbia’s Office of the Registrar issued a guidance document for organizations last month. This in anticipation of the changes to the province’s lobbying laws taking effect on May 4. The guidance document provides an overview for organizations with in-house […]

British Columbia’s Office of the Registrar issued a guidance document for organizations last month.

This in anticipation of the changes to the province’s lobbying laws taking effect on May 4.

The guidance document provides an overview for organizations with in-house lobbyists under the Lobbyists Transparency Act.

Beginning on May 4, the time threshold for requiring in-house lobbyists to register is reduced from 100 hours to 50 hours in the preceding 12-month period.

Time spent preparing to lobby, researching and writing reports, and strategizing would be included in calculating the time threshold required for registration.

However, activities predating a decision to lobbying would “likely not be included in the calculation,” according to the published guidance.

Organizations that are not member-based or that do not have a primary purpose to promote or oppose issues may qualify for the exception.

This is only if the organizations have fewer than six employees and the lobbying activities add up to fewer than 50 hours in the preceding 12-month period.

Examples of organizations unlikely to qualify for the exemption are unions and chambers of commerce.

Presently, a new online Lobbyists Registry is in development to replace the current Lobbyists Registry.

This registry is scheduled to launch on May 4, 2020.

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March 2, 2020 •

Nova Scotia Bill Would Give Chief Electoral Officer Power to Impose Penalties on Third Parties

Province House, Nova Scotia - Louperivois

On February 27, a bill containing over 40 amendments and changes to Nova Scotia’s Election Act, passed its Second Reading. The bill was only introduced into the Nova Scotia House of Assembly last week. Government Bill No. 225, Elections Act […]

On February 27, a bill containing over 40 amendments and changes to Nova Scotia’s Election Act, passed its Second Reading.

The bill was only introduced into the Nova Scotia House of Assembly last week.

Government Bill No. 225, Elections Act (amended), was introduced by Mark Furey, the Minister responsible for the Elections Act.

 

The bill imposes penalties on third parties failing to file their election advertising report within four months after election day.

The penalty is up to $50 for each day the third party fails to file the report, up to a maximum of $1,500.

The Chief Electoral Officer has the sole discretion of imposing the penalty.

The Chief Electoral Officer could also deduct the amount of any outstanding penalties from reimbursement to be paid to those third parties.

 

The legislation would allow for internet voting for members of the Canadian Armed Forces stationed outside the province or to be so stationed during an election.

As introduced, the bill would amend the definition of election expenses.

It would clarify the timing of when expenses are considered election expenses.

This will be done by including expenses related to an official addition or a judicial recount, and by adding family and accessibility expenses.

 

By enacting a definition of family and accessibility expenses, reimbursements would be allowed to candidates for childcare, spousal care, elder care, or the care of a person with a disability.

Additionally, candidates with disabilities could seek reimbursement for expenses incurred during an election in relation to their disabilities.

 

The bill includes various other amendments related to voting and polling procedures for the province.

If passed, the legislation would come into force upon proclamation.

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February 24, 2020 •

Ontario Canada electoral districts Byelection for Orleans and Ottawa-Vanier: Political Blackout

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

From February 26 at 12:01 a.m. until 11:59 p.m. on February 27, there will be the statutory blackout on political advertising. The blackout will be for the February 27 by-election being held for the Ontario Canada electoral districts of Orleans […]

From February 26 at 12:01 a.m. until 11:59 p.m. on February 27, there will be the statutory blackout on political advertising.

The blackout will be for the February 27 by-election being held for the Ontario Canada electoral districts of Orleans and Ottawa-Vanier.

On August 2, 2019, the Chief Electoral of Ontario received a notice of vacancy in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario for the electoral district of Ottawa-Vanier.

MPP Mona Fortier left her seat to become the Minister of Middle Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance.

On September 24, 2019, a second notice of vacancy in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario was received for the electoral district of Orleans.

MPP Marie-France Lalonde resigned from her seat to run for a seat in Canadian Parliament, which she won on October 21.

On January 29, 2020, the Office of Premier Doug Ford issued writs for the byelections to be held on February 17.

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February 13, 2020 •

Federal Lobbyist Bundling Disclosure Threshold Increased to $19,000

Today, 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. […]

Today, 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.

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February 7, 2020 •

GAO Issues Campaign Finance Report

United State's Government Accountability Office

On February 3, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a 74-page report discussing current federal campaign finance issues. The report, Campaign Finance: Federal Framework, Agency Roles and Responsibilities, and Perspectives, offers observations from specialists on the issues. Specifically, the […]

On February 3, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a 74-page report discussing current federal campaign finance issues.

The report, Campaign Finance: Federal Framework, Agency Roles and Responsibilities, and Perspectives, offers observations from specialists on the issues.

Specifically, the report covers the legal framework of the federal campaign finance law, various federal agencies’ roles, responsibilities, and enforcement challenges, and several perspectives on certain segments of the legal framework.

One conclusion reached is “campaign finance statutes and regulations have not kept up with the rapid expansion of campaign spending on the internet and do not regulate online political ads to the same extent as television, radio, and print ads.”

Another conclusion is that campaign finance laws related to prohibited activities for foreign nationals may be inadequate to prevent all types of foreign involvement, such as funds raised by and through 501(c) organizations or limited liability companies, which historically have not been required to publicly report their funding sources.

The report also raises the issue of differing and opposing views regarding whether the public disclosure of campaign contributions helps inform the electorate or stigmatizes those supporting unpopular candidates or organizations.

The GAO report recommends the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and the Department of Justice coordinate together to review policies and campaign finance guidance, while acknowledging the FEC currently doesn’t have a quorum to make changes to guidance.

The GAO was asked to review issues related to the enforcement of federal campaign finance laws by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Ranking Member on the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration.

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February 3, 2020 •

Bill to Amend FARA Introduced to help Enforcement

On January 30, a bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to amend the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) to help its enforcement. House Bill 5733, introduced by Rep. Seth Moulton, would waive the application of the FARA […]

On January 30, a bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to amend the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) to help its enforcement.

House Bill 5733, introduced by Rep. Seth Moulton, would waive the application of the FARA law to agents representing foreign enterprises not under the control or direction of foreign governments or foreign political parties.

In his press release, Moulton argues the legislation would make it easier to enforce FARA by narrowing those who must register as foreign agents to include only those people working on behalf of foreign governments or foreign political parties.

The legislation would also exclude agents who represent foreign governments engaging in a pattern of gross violations of human rights from an exemption currently provided under the Act for agents engaged in scholastic and certain other pursuits and would add civil penalties for violations.

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January 23, 2020 •

Lobbyist Registry Begins in Collingwood, Ontario, Canada

On January 20, a new Lobbyist Registry program and associated By-law and Code of Conduct were approved for Collingwood, Ontario, Canada. The new lobbying law defines lobbying as any communication with a public office holder by an individual representing a […]

On January 20, a new Lobbyist Registry program and associated By-law and Code of Conduct were approved for Collingwood, Ontario, Canada.

The new lobbying law defines lobbying as any communication with a public office holder by an individual representing a business or financial interest with the goal of trying to influence any legislative action, including any development, introduction, passage, defeat, amendment or repeal of a bylaw, motion, resolution or the outcome of a decision on any matter before the Town Council, a committee of the Council, or staff member acting under delegated authority.

The registry, maintained by the Collingwood’s Accountability Officer acting as the Lobbyist Registrar, will identify three types of lobbyists:

    • Consultant lobbyists
    • In-house lobbyists
    • Voluntary unpaid lobbyists acting on behalf of certain entities

While registration is mandatory, not-for-profit groups are not required to register for lobbying activities, unless the group has paid staff and the communication in question falls under the definition of lobbying.

Additionally, community groups and associations whose communications state a position for a general community benefit, either town-wide or local, do not have to register.

As of January 20, 2020, lobbyists are expected to register their name and the reasons for their contact with a public office holder. However, penalties will not begin to be enforced until June 1, 2020, in order to allow the first five months of the registry to operate as an educational period dedicated to learning how and when to use the tool.

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January 13, 2020 •

US Supreme Court Denies Appeal: SEC Pay-to-Play Rule Remains

United States Supreme Court Building

On January 13, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an order denying review of an appeal concerning the legality of a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) pay-to-play rule, allowing that rule to stand. Previously, on June 18, 2020, a federal appellate […]

On January 13, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an order denying review of an appeal concerning the legality of a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) pay-to-play rule, allowing that rule to stand.

Previously, on June 18, 2020, a federal appellate court had affirmed a lower court’s finding that the pay-to-play rule was legal.

In New York Republican State Committee v. SEC, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found the SEC’s Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Rule 2030 constitutional.

The rule prohibits a placement agent from accepting compensation for soliciting government business from certain candidates and elected officials within two years of having contributed to such an official’s electoral campaign or to the transition or inaugural expenses of a successful candidate.

The New York Republican State Committee and the Tennessee Republican Party had argued the SEC did not have authority to enact the rule, the order adopting the rule was arbitrary and capricious because there was insufficient evidence it was needed, and the rule violated the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

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January 10, 2020 •

Federal Contribution Limits Increased in Canada

Temporary Canadian House of Commons in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Elections Canada has published the federal contribution limits for the 2020 calendar year. In 2020, individuals may contribute up to $1,625 to independent candidates, leadership candidates, registered parties, and to, In total, all of the registered associations, nomination contestants and […]

Elections Canada has published the federal contribution limits for the 2020 calendar year.

In 2020, individuals may contribute up to $1,625 to independent candidates, leadership candidates, registered parties, and to, In total, all of the registered associations, nomination contestants and candidates of each registered party.

The limits also apply to any unpaid balance of loans made during a contribution period and the amount of any loan guarantees made during a contribution period.

The limits increase annually by $25 on January 1.

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January 10, 2020 •

Contribution Limits Increased in Ontario, Canada

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

In Ontario, individual contribution limits for the period from January 1, 2020, to December 31, 2020, have be increased by $25, to $1,625. This limit applies to contributions made as both money and goods or services given to a political […]

In Ontario, individual contribution limits for the period from January 1, 2020, to December 31, 2020, have be increased by $25, to $1,625.

This limit applies to contributions made as both money and goods or services given to a political party, candidate or constituency association to support the election of a candidate to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

The contribution limit is applicable to both party and non-party candidates in a campaign period and applies to a leadership contestant of a party in a year holding a leadership contest or a calendar year during which the contestant is required to be registered.

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January 10, 2020 •

Contribution Limits Increased in British Columbia

British Columbia Legislature

Campaign contribution limits increased in British Columbia for 2020 to $1,253.15 for contributions to registered political parties, including their candidates, nomination contestants and registered constituency associations. Additionally, individuals can contribute up to $1,253.15 to independent candidates and leadership contestants, if […]

Campaign contribution limits increased in British Columbia for 2020 to $1,253.15 for contributions to registered political parties, including their candidates, nomination contestants and registered constituency associations.

Additionally, individuals can contribute up to $1,253.15 to independent candidates and leadership contestants, if a leadership contest is called in 2020.

These limits are updated annually.

The previous limits were $1,225.17 in 2019, and $1,200 in 2018.

Also increased to $370 is the limit of a fee paid to attend a leadership convention or other convention of a political party without counting toward the $1,253.15 limit contribution limit.

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January 9, 2020 •

Special Election on June 16 for Ward 2 D.C. Council Seat

Former Councilman Jack Evans

On June 16, a special election will be held to fill the seat vacated by Ward 2 D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans. Evans resigned on January 7 to avoid a council vote on his removal based on alleged conflicts of interests. […]

On June 16, a special election will be held to fill the seat vacated by Ward 2 D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans.

Evans resigned on January 7 to avoid a council vote on his removal based on alleged conflicts of interests.

The winner of the special election will serve the remainder of Evan’s term, which ends in January 2021, according to WAMU. 

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December 24, 2019 •

May 4, 2020: British Columbia Lobbying Law Changes Coming

British Columbia Legislature

On May 4, 2020, several key changes of British Columbia’s lobbying law come into effect, including changing the name of the Lobbyist Registration Act to the Lobbyist Transparency Act. The legislation making the changes, Bill 54, Lobbyists Registration Amendment Act, […]

On May 4, 2020, several key changes of British Columbia’s lobbying law come into effect, including changing the name of the Lobbyist Registration Act to the Lobbyist Transparency Act. The legislation making the changes, Bill 54, Lobbyists Registration Amendment Act, 2018, received royal assent on November 27, 2019.

Other coming changes include:

  • Reducing the time threshold for requiring in-house lobbyists to register from 100 hours to 50 hours annually
  • Adding the requirement for lobbyists to complete a monthly return containing details of actual lobbying activities in the previous month by the 15th of each subsequent month
  • Declarations in those returns of what code of conduct the lobbyists has undertaken and where it is available for public viewing

Additionally, a newly enacted prohibition on gifts from lobbyists is included in the bill. However, the prohibition does not apply if the gift is given under the protocol or social obligations normally accompanying the duties of a public office holder and the total value of the gift given, directly or indirectly, is less $100 in a 12-month period.

Beginning in May, the registrar will also have the power to impose a prohibition on lobbying for up to 2 years.

Presently, a new online Lobbyists Registry is in development to replace the current Lobbyists Registry and is scheduled to launch on May 4, 2020.

Also effective on May 4, 2020, the Lobbyists Registration Regulation is repealed and the Lobbyist Transparency Regulation is enacted.

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