March 5, 2020 •

Arkansas Contribution Blackout Unenforceable

Arkansas State Capitol

An order barring the state from enforcing a campaign contribution blackout period of more than two years was reinstated on March 3. Arkansas Code Annotated 7-6-203(e) prohibits candidates for state offices from accepting campaign contributions more than two years before […]

An order barring the state from enforcing a campaign contribution blackout period of more than two years was reinstated on March 3.

Arkansas Code Annotated 7-6-203(e) prohibits candidates for state offices from accepting campaign contributions more than two years before an election.

In place since 1996, the constitutionality of the law was challenged in June 2019.

The court agreed to stay the injunction, keeping the law in effect while the proceedings continued.

The injunction was affirmed on January 27.

This prompts the plaintiff’s attorney to push for the stay to be lifted, and the law to become unenforceable.

The stay was lifted on March 3, enjoining the state from enforcing the law while the lawsuit is pending.

A date has yet to be determined for a final hearing on the matter.

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November 15, 2019 •

Illinois Former Gaming Board Chairman Sues Ethics Commission

The former chairman of the Illinois Gaming Board filed suit against the state Executive Ethics Commission. The commission found that he engaged in unlawful political activity while a board member. The former chairman argued that state law does not bar […]

The former chairman of the Illinois Gaming Board filed suit against the state Executive Ethics Commission.

The commission found that he engaged in unlawful political activity while a board member.

The former chairman argued that state law does not bar contributions by members of state boards and that any such ban on contributions is a violation of the First Amendment.

The investigation began when the chairman contributed to a candidate for state senate and his spouse signed the check.

The Inspector General deemed suspicious 30 other instances of political donations and campaign contributions made while the chairman was on the gaming board.

While acknowledging that spouses of gaming board members are permitted to make contributions, the inspector general looked to the spouse’s history of contributing and to the number of contributions that were to the same committees her husband previously supported.

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October 9, 2019 •

California Governor Signs Campaign Finance Bill

California Gov. Gavin Newsom

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a campaign finance bill imposing limits on contributions to candidates for elective county and city offices in jurisdictions that have not independently imposed contribution limits. Currently, a county or a city may, by ordinance or resolution, […]

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a campaign finance bill imposing limits on contributions to candidates for elective county and city offices in jurisdictions that have not independently imposed contribution limits.

Currently, a county or a city may, by ordinance or resolution, limit campaign contributions in local elections. However, many counties and cities have not imposed such limits.

Assembly Bill 571 establishes contribution limits of $4,700 per election to a candidate for elective office in a city or county in which the local government has not established a limit.

The bill also allows a local government to establish different limits that are more precisely tailored to the needs of the community.

Assembly Bill 571 becomes effective January 1, 2021.

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October 9, 2019 •

Judge Blocks New Jersey Political Disclosure Bill from Taking Effect

New Jersey Capitol Building

On October 2, 2019, a U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey issued an opinion and order issuing a preliminary injunction. The Injunction prohibits the state of New Jersey from enforcing the changes in the law from a […]

On October 2, 2019, a U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey issued an opinion and order issuing a preliminary injunction.

The Injunction prohibits the state of New Jersey from enforcing the changes in the law from a bill passed earlier this year concerning disclosure requirements by independent expenditure committees.

Senate Bill 150, which was to take effect on October 15, requires the committees to disclose donors giving more than $10,000 and expenditures over $3,000.

The parties filing the lawsuit, Americans for Prosperity v. Grewal, argue the disclosure requirements are unconstitutional and violate the First Amendment.

The preliminary injunction will continue while the lawsuit proceeds.

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September 27, 2018 •

US Senate Joint Resolution Seeks to Reverse IRS Disclosure Exemption for Certain Tax-Exempt Organizations

On September 24, U.S. Senators Jon Tester and Ron Wyden introduced a resolution to reverse a U.S. Treasury Department’s decision limiting IRS disclosure requirements of certain tax-exempt organizations engaging in political activities. On July 16, the U.S. Treasury Department and […]

On September 24, U.S. Senators Jon Tester and Ron Wyden introduced a resolution to reverse a U.S. Treasury Department’s decision limiting IRS disclosure requirements of certain tax-exempt organizations engaging in political activities.

On July 16, the U.S. Treasury Department and the IRS announced certain tax-exempt organizations are no longer 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 the National Rifle Association, 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 exemption 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.

Senate Joint Resolution 64, The Spotlight Act, would overturn the exemption and require disclosure to the IRS of the names and information of donors who contribute more than $5,000.

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September 20, 2018 •

Federal Court Overturns PA Ban on Gambling Contributions

The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania overturned the Commonwealth’s prohibition on political contributions from gaming-license applicants, licensees, and principals of licensees. Judge Sylvia Rambo concluded Section 1513 of the Gaming Act is an unconstitutional limit on […]

The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania overturned the Commonwealth’s prohibition on political contributions from gaming-license applicants, licensees, and principals of licensees.

Judge Sylvia Rambo concluded Section 1513 of the Gaming Act is an unconstitutional limit on the First Amendment right of political association. Rambo stated the prohibition furthers a substantially important interest in preventing corruption, but is not closely drawn to achieve that interest.

The judgment opens the possibility for the Legislature to rewrite the statute to be narrowly tailored to achieve its purpose.

The Gaming Control Board is also reviewing the option to appeal the decision to the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

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September 19, 2018 •

U.S. Court of Appeals Upholds IL Contribution Limits

The U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Illinois Disclosure and Regulation of Campaign Contributions and Expenditures Act. In 2012, Liberty PAC filed a lawsuit claiming the Illinois campaign finance law violates the First Amendment by restricting contributions from […]

The U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Illinois Disclosure and Regulation of Campaign Contributions and Expenditures Act.

In 2012, Liberty PAC filed a lawsuit claiming the Illinois campaign finance law violates the First Amendment by restricting contributions from individual donors, allowing political parties to make unlimited donations during a general election, creating a waiver provision that lifts spending limits, and allowing unlimited contributions from legislative caucus committees.

The U.S. District Court dismissed the first three claims at the pleadings stage due to precedent and conducted a bench trial on the fourth issue and ruled for the state.

The U.S. Circuit Court panel affirmed the lower court’s decision in its entirety and the plaintiffs intend to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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October 24, 2017 •

Montana Contribution Limits Reinstated

This week the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated Montana’s voter-approved political contribution limits effective immediately. The limits were ruled unconstitutional in 2016 by a federal district judge in Helena and replaced with contributions limits in place in mid-1990’s. […]

This week the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated Montana’s voter-approved political contribution limits effective immediately. The limits were ruled unconstitutional in 2016 by a federal district judge in Helena and replaced with contributions limits in place in mid-1990’s.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court found the contribution limits in question to be “both justified and adequately tailored to the state’s interest in combating quid pro quo corruption or its appearance.”

The initial lawsuit brought in 2011 claimed the campaign finance laws burdened speech and association. The plaintiffs have already announced their plan to appeal this week’s 2-judge majority decision stating there is no evidence campaign contributions have influenced voting by state lawmakers.

Individual contributions to a gubernatorial candidate have been reduced by about $600 while the limit for what a political action committee can give will now be $660 per election, down from $10,610 per election cycle.

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September 21, 2017 •

San Antonio Ethics and Campaign Finance Revisions Move to Council for Approval

Recommendations by the city’s Ethics Review Board are on their way to be reviewed by the full City Council after the Council’s Governance Committee, chaired by Mayor Ron Nirenberg, reviewed the proposed changes Wednesday. Mayor Nirenberg stated the recommendations are […]

Recommendations by the city’s Ethics Review Board are on their way to be reviewed by the full City Council after the Council’s Governance Committee, chaired by Mayor Ron Nirenberg, reviewed the proposed changes Wednesday.

Mayor Nirenberg stated the recommendations are a good launching pad for more comprehensive ethics reforms in the future.

The campaign finance and ethics code recommendations include changes to the process of handling and identifying ethics violations, and tighter rules regarding campaign contributions from contractors and sub-contractors seeking city contracts as well as zoning applicants and their lobbyists.

City Council is expected to review the reform package in the coming months.

Photo of San Antonio City Hall by RYAN LOYD / TPR NEWS

 

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September 6, 2017 •

LNC File Suit Against FEC: Contribution Limits on Bequests

On September 5, the Libertarian National Committee (LNC) filed a lawsuit arguing federal contribution limits of bequests are unconstitutional. In Libertarian National Committee v. Federal Election Commission, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the LNC […]

On September 5, the Libertarian National Committee (LNC) filed a lawsuit arguing federal contribution limits of bequests are unconstitutional.

In Libertarian National Committee v. Federal Election Commission, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the LNC argues federal political contribution limits applied to bequests, in the absence of any evidence of corruption, violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The LNC also claims Congress cannot regulate “the content of a political party’s expression under the guise of combating corruption.”

In 2014, the LNC was bequeathed $235,575 by a party contributor when he died. The Federal Election Commission’s position is the money must be dispersed in the amount of $33,900 a year. The LNC is asking its proposed facts and questions be certified to the en banc D.C. Circuit.

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August 28, 2017 •

California Disclose Act Gets Closer to Passage

Assembly Bill 249, also known as the “California Disclose Act,” will be heard in the Senate on August 29. The bill requires most campaign ads to display their top three funders, even if those contributions were funneled through other committees. […]

Assembly Bill 249, also known as the “California Disclose Act,” will be heard in the Senate on August 29. The bill requires most campaign ads to display their top three funders, even if those contributions were funneled through other committees.

Similar versions of AB 249 have been introduced without passage since 2012. A similar bill from 2016 failed by one vote in the Senate. Last year’s bill was opposed by the California Fair Political Practice Commission (FPPC) due to the bill’s language making enforcement difficult.

The current version of the bill underwent changes to make the proposed law more acceptable to opponents and the FPPC has remained neutral.

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August 7, 2017 •

US House Joint Resolution 113 Proposes Constitutional Amendment for Campaign Finance Regulation

On August 3, a federal campaign finance constitutional amendment with public financing authority was referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice. House Joint Resolution 113, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives […]

On August 3, a federal campaign finance constitutional amendment with public financing authority was referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice.

House Joint Resolution 113, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on July 20, 2017, proposes an amendment to the Constitution of the United States granting explicit authority to Congress and to the states to regulate contributions and expenditures in political campaigns and to enact public financing systems for such campaigns.

Rep. Adam Schiff introduced the legislation with the intent to increase regulation of campaign contributions and spending.

“The regulatory process is at a standstill as we watch billions of dark money pour into elections,” Schiff said in a press release.

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July 26, 2017 •

NM Sec. of State Releases Revised Campaign Finance Rule Draft

After the first comment period ended on July 19, Sec. of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver has released a revised campaign finance rule draft. One revision would require a person who makes independent expenditures of $3,000 or less in a non-statewide […]

After the first comment period ended on July 19, Sec. of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver has released a revised campaign finance rule draft.

One revision would require a person who makes independent expenditures of $3,000 or less in a non-statewide race to report identifying information on each person who contributes more than $200 in the previous 12 months, while statewide races would require spending of $7,500 or less for the same level of disclosure.

Interested individuals may submit official comments on the revised draft until 5:00 p.m. on August 29, 2017.

The final rule is expected to be completed this fall with an October 2017 effective date. The revised rule is available on the secretary of state website.

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May 9, 2017 •

West Virginia Disclosure Laws Effective in July

Lawmakers passed two measures dealing with ethics and transparency during the regular legislative session that wrapped up in April. House Bill 2319 will become effective July 5, requiring candidate committees for members of the Legislature to make additional disclosures of […]

Lawmakers passed two measures dealing with ethics and transparency during the regular legislative session that wrapped up in April.

House Bill 2319 will become effective July 5, requiring candidate committees for members of the Legislature to make additional disclosures of contributions and fundraising events while the Legislature is in session.

House Bill 2001 will become law July 7, requiring companies contracting with state agencies on contracts over $100,000 to make disclosures listing interested parties to the contract.

Bills that were not approved during the legislative session do not carry over.

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