September 11, 2019 •

IRS Moves Again to Exempt Certain Tax-Exempt Organizations From Reporting Contributor Info

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On September 6, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a notice of a proposed rulemaking for allowing certain tax-exempt organizations to no longer be required to report the names and addresses of contributors on their annual reports. Previously, the IRS […]

On September 6, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a notice of a proposed rulemaking for allowing certain tax-exempt organizations to no longer be required to report the names and addresses of contributors on their annual reports.

Previously, the IRS had issued a guidance to this effect, but on July 30, 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.

On July 16, 2018, the U.S. Treasury Department and the IRS had announced certain tax-exempt organizations would no longer be required to report the names and addresses of contributors on their annual reports. 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, according to the department’s press release.

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 did 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:

    1. The IRS makes no systematic use of this information collected by these organizations
    2. The policy reduces the risk of inadvertent disclosure or misuse of confidential information
    3. The policy saves both private and government resources

Comments on the proposed rule will be accepted for 90 days after the notice’s publication in the Federal Register.

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September 10, 2019 •

FEC Seeks Comments on National Party Committee Segregated Accounts

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is seeking public comments on proposals for rules requiring national party committees to report receipts and disbursements for their segregated accounts. These comments must be submitted on or before October 28, 2019. A petition filed […]

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is seeking public comments on proposals for rules requiring national party committees to report receipts and disbursements for their segregated accounts.

These comments must be submitted on or before October 28, 2019.

A petition filed by the Campaign Legal Center and the Center for Responsive Politics made a request to the FEC.

The request stated the national party committees report their receipts to and disbursements from the accounts in “inconsistent and insufficient ways,” making the public unable to clearly determine the amounts of money received and disbursed from the segregated accounts.

The notice of availability for the submission of public comments was issued in the August 28 Federal Register.

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August 26, 2019 •

FEC to Lose Quorum on August 31

On August 31, Federal Election Commission (FEC) Vice Chairman Matthew Petersen will leave the agency, resulting in an FEC without the minimum quorum of four commissioners to make decisions on regulations or enforcements. The FEC requires at least four commissioners […]

On August 31, Federal Election Commission (FEC) Vice Chairman Matthew Petersen will leave the agency, resulting in an FEC without the minimum quorum of four commissioners to make decisions on regulations or enforcements.

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

Peterson, who has served on the FEC for 11 years, announced his resignation on August 26 with a letter to the President Trump without stating a reason for his leaving.

A replacement for Petersen, a Republican, must be selected by the president and then confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

No more than three members of the FEC may be registered with the same political party.

The remaining FEC commissioners will be Chair Ellen L. Weintraub, a Democrat, Caroline C. Hunter, a Republican, and Steven T. Walther, an Independent.

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August 20, 2019 •

Election for Calgary Forest Lawn (Alberta) Vacant Seat to Be Held on Fixed October Election

Temporary Canadian House of Commons in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

On October 21, 2019, the fixed date for Canadian federal elections, the election for the now-vacant seat in the House of Commons representing Calgary Forest Lawn (Alberta) will be held. Because this vacancy occurred less than nine months before October’s […]

On October 21, 2019, the fixed date for Canadian federal elections, the election for the now-vacant seat in the House of Commons representing Calgary Forest Lawn (Alberta) will be held.

Because this vacancy occurred less than nine months before October’s fixed-date general election, no by-election will be held.

On August 15, the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, Stéphane Perrault, received official notice from the Speaker of the House of Commons that the seat for Calgary Forest Lawn (Alberta) became vacant.

The vacancy came following the death of MP Deepak Obhrai on August 2.

Obhrai had been the longest-serving Conservative member of Parliament.

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August 15, 2019 •

Ethics Office Finds Trudeau Violated Conflict of Interest Act

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

On August 14, Canada’s federal ethics office issued a report finding Prime Minister Justin Trudeau used his position to seek to influence a decision of the Attorney General of Canada relating to a criminal prosecution involving a Canadian corporation based […]

On August 14, Canada’s federal ethics office issued a report finding Prime Minister Justin Trudeau used his position to seek to influence a decision of the Attorney General of Canada relating to a criminal prosecution involving a Canadian corporation based in Montreal.

The 63-page report, released by the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, was prepared by Commissioner Mario Dion.

Dion concludes in the report that Trudeau violated section 9 of the Conflict of Interest Act.

Section 9 prohibits public office holders from using their position to seek to influence a decision of another person to further their own private interests or those of their relatives or friends, or to improperly further another person’s private interests.

Included in the report is a summary of the official response from Trudeau’s legal counsel denying culpability.

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August 9, 2019 •

By-Election to be Called for Ontario Legislative Assembly Seat for Electoral District of Ottawa-Vanier

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

Sometime on or before February 2, 2020, a by-election must be held for the seat in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario for the electoral district of Ottawa-Vanier. On August 2, the Chief Electoral Officer of Ontario received a notice of […]

Sometime on or before February 2, 2020, a by-election must be held for the seat in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario for the electoral district of Ottawa-Vanier.

On August 2, the Chief Electoral Officer of Ontario received a notice of vacancy for the position from the Assembly.

MPP Nathalie Des Rosiers, who had announced her intention to leave office on May 16, resigned on July 31 to begin working August 1 as the Principal of Massey College at the University of Toronto.

Any by-election in the province must be called within six months of the Chief Electoral Officer receiving notice of the vacancy.

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July 25, 2019 •

Two Proposed Iowa Constitutional Amendments Delayed

Because of a clerical error by the Iowa Secretary of State’s office, voters in the state will not have a chance to vote on two recently passed constitutional amendments until 2022 at the earliest. In 2018, the Iowa legislature passed […]

Because of a clerical error by the Iowa Secretary of State’s office, voters in the state will not have a chance to vote on two recently passed constitutional amendments until 2022 at the earliest.

In 2018, the Iowa legislature passed two constitutional amendments. One proposed amendment requires any review of state legislation affecting the right to own firearms be subject to a judicial review standard of strict scrutiny.

The other proposed amendment deals with the line of gubernatorial succession for any vacancies of that office.

For the amendments to be added the state’s constitution, they must be passed a second time by the next sitting legislature and then be voted on by the citizens of the state.

However, after an amendment’s first passage, notice must be given to voters three months prior to the election of the next legislature.

According to Governing.com, the secretary of state’s office missed the deadline to file the notice for the public, requiring the process to restart and resulting in the earliest opportunity for the amendments to appear for voters’ approval to be 2022.

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July 19, 2019 •

July 31: Three MLAs to Resign Nova Scotia House of Assembly

Province House, Nova Scotia - Louperivois

On July 31, three members of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly will resign their positions to seek federal positions. The members, Chris D’Entremont, Alfie MacLeod, and Eddie Orrell, have been nominated as candidates for the Conservative Party of Canada. […]

On July 31, three members of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly will resign their positions to seek federal positions.

The members, Chris D’Entremont, Alfie MacLeod, and Eddie Orrell, have been nominated as candidates for the Conservative Party of Canada.

The three are required to step down before the writ period begins for the fall elections.

By-elections for the soon-to-be-vacant provincial seats have not been yet been called.

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July 12, 2019 •

FEC Advisory Opinions: Blockchain Tokens, T-Shirts, & Cybersecurity

On July 11, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) issued three Advisory Opinions addressing diverse campaign finance issues. In Advisory Opinion 2019-08, the FEC found a campaign committee was free to distribute digital blockchain tokens, having no monetary values, to volunteers […]

On July 11, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) issued three Advisory Opinions addressing diverse campaign finance issues.

In Advisory Opinion 2019-08, the FEC found a campaign committee was free to distribute digital blockchain tokens, having no monetary values, to volunteers and supporters as incentives for those individual to participate in campaign activities. The Commission concluded the tokens do not constitute compensation, but rather are “materially indistinguishable” from traditional forms of campaign souvenirs.

In Advisory Opinion 2019-09, the FEC determined a nonconnected political committee may sell t-shirts bearing the facial likenesses and names of certain candidates because the committee intends on treating the entire purchase price of the t-shirts as contributions falling under regular campaign finance reporting requirements and contribution limits.

In the third decision issued, Advisory Opinion 2019-12, the FEC said it is permissible for a corporation to offer cybersecurity services to federal candidates and political committees under a “low to no cost” pricing tier that the corporation offers to all qualified non-political customers in the ordinary course of business. The FEC concluded the proposal would not be considered an in-kind contribution.

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July 3, 2019 •

HUMBLE (Halt Unchecked Member Benefits with Lobbying Elimination) Act Introduced in U.S. Congress

A bill meant to permanently ban former members of Congress from lobbying the U.S. Legislature was introduced in the House on June 21 by U.S. Representative Angie Craig. House Bill 3419, the HUMBLE (Halt Unchecked Member Benefits with Lobbying Elimination) […]

A bill meant to permanently ban former members of Congress from lobbying the U.S. Legislature was introduced in the House on June 21 by U.S. Representative Angie Craig.

House Bill 3419, the HUMBLE (Halt Unchecked Member Benefits with Lobbying Elimination) Act, would prohibit former Members and elected officers of Congress from lobbying Congress at any time after leaving office.

The legislation also prohibits Members of the House of Representatives from owning individual stocks while in office.

Additionally, the bill prohibits use of government funds for first-class airline accommodations.

The bill also eliminates certain benefits currently available to former members of the House, such as access to parking, athletic facilities, and the House members’ dining room.

“A lifetime ban on lobbying will ensure that Congress is no longer a revolving door of influence, and banning individual stock ownership will cut down on conflicts of interest and show that Congress has its priorities straight so that we can advocate for policies that will improve lives and expand economic opportunity for every Minnesotan,” said Craig in her press release.

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June 24, 2019 •

Iowa House District 46 Special Election set for August 6

On June 21, Gov. Kim Reynolds called a special election for House District 46. The special election will fill the vacancy left by the resignation of State Representative Lisa Heddens. Heddens resigned on June 17 to serve on the Story […]

On June 21, Gov. Kim Reynolds called a special election for House District 46.

The special election will fill the vacancy left by the resignation of State Representative Lisa Heddens.

Heddens resigned on June 17 to serve on the Story County Board of Supervisors.

Reynolds has set the special election for August 6.

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June 20, 2019 •

SEC FINRA Pay-to-Play Rule Upheld by Federal Court

On June 18, a federal appellate court affirmed the legality of a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) pay-to-play rule. In New York Republican State Committee v. SEC, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found the […]

On June 18, a federal appellate court affirmed the legality of a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) pay-to-play rule.

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.

While the court found the plaintiffs had standing, it ruled against all their arguments and upheld the rule.

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June 11, 2019 •

Bi-Partisan Bill to Amend FARA Introduced in U.S. Senate

On June 10, a bi-partisan bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate to amend the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 (FARA). The bill would provide the U.S. Attorney General greater authority to promote enforcement of the law and increase […]

On June 10, a bi-partisan bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate to amend the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 (FARA).

The bill would provide the U.S. Attorney General greater authority to promote enforcement of the law and increase disclosure requirements of agents of foreign principals.

Senate Bill 1762 requires foreign agents to disclose their clients immediately so policy makers can evaluate their positions in light of those associations.

Additionally, the bill requires the Justice Department to craft a comprehensive FARA enforcement strategy, and creates oversight mechanisms to prevent abuse of the new authorities according to the press release of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, the Republican sponsor of the bill.

The legislation would also establish a review of the Lobbying Disclosure Act exemption to determine whether and to what extent it has been abused for purposes of concealing foreign influence.

Only 15 violations of FARA have been criminally prosecuted since 1966 and “about half of those stemmed from Mr. Mueller’s investigation,” according to Grassley’s statement in his press release.

Co-sponsors of the bill include Democratic Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Dianne Feinstein.

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June 4, 2019 •

Manitoba Assembly Adjourns: Municipal Amendment Act Receives Royal Assent

By Kooma (original)Echando una mano (current) - Sodipodi's Clipart Gallery (through Wayback Machine), Public Domain, Link

On June 3, the 4th Session of the 41st Legislative Assembly of Manitoba, which began on November 20, 2018, adjourned until October 2, 2019. Bill 2, The Municipal Amendment Act (Strengthening Codes of Conduct for Council Members), received Royal Assent […]

On June 3, the 4th Session of the 41st Legislative Assembly of Manitoba, which began on November 20, 2018, adjourned until October 2, 2019.

Bill 2, The Municipal Amendment Act (Strengthening Codes of Conduct for Council Members), received Royal Assent on June 3.

The new law amends The Municipal Act to require a code of conduct for members of municipal councils be adopted through by-laws.

The code must include procedures for receiving and dealing with reports of contraventions, relevant sanctions, and training on the municipality’s code of conduct.

The new legislation requires each member of a council to undergo training.

Lawmakers plan to adjourn the Assembly again on November 7.

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