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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May 2, 2017 •

Montana Legislature Adjourns

The Montana Legislature adjourned the 2017 regular session April 28, 2017.  House Bill 340, eliminating the Office of the Commissioner of Political Practices, made it through the House but was tabled in the Senate and did not pass. Senate Bill […]

Flag of MontanaThe Montana Legislature adjourned the 2017 regular session April 28, 2017.  House Bill 340, eliminating the Office of the Commissioner of Political Practices, made it through the House but was tabled in the Senate and did not pass.

Senate Bill 368, increasing contribution limits for both individuals and political action committees and placing the Office of the Commissioner of Political Practices under the jurisdiction of the state Attorney General, passed at the last minute and will be sent to the Governor.

The Montana Legislature will pick up again in January 2019.

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April 19, 2017 •

Long Beach, California Repeals Ban on Contributions from Officeholder Funds

On April 18, Long Beach City Council approved a measure to repeal a local campaign finance law which barred elected officials from contributing officeholder funds to other candidates running for elective office. The restriction risked being challenged as unconstitutional and […]

long beachOn April 18, Long Beach City Council approved a measure to repeal a local campaign finance law which barred elected officials from contributing officeholder funds to other candidates running for elective office.

The restriction risked being challenged as unconstitutional and the repeal brings city law more in line with current state rules.

The City Council voted 5-3 in favor of the repeal.

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April 10, 2017 •

Massachusetts Ban on Contributions Upheld

A state ban on political contributions to candidates by businesses was upheld by a Suffolk Superior Court judge last week. Massachusetts campaign finance law prohibits contributions from businesses but allows contributions from labor unions. Two businesses active in a fiscally […]

MassachusettsA state ban on political contributions to candidates by businesses was upheld by a Suffolk Superior Court judge last week. Massachusetts campaign finance law prohibits contributions from businesses but allows contributions from labor unions.

Two businesses active in a fiscally conservative advocacy group challenged the law hoping for a change in favor of businesses wishing to contribute, asserting the same political contribution rules should apply to businesses and unions.

The Office of Campaign and Political Finance argued businesses are different from unions and the state is within its rights to regulate each entity differently, maintaining the state’s interest in preventing corruption or the appearance of corruption.

Under the upheld law, individuals can contribute $1,000 per year to candidates and labor unions can contribute up to $15,000.

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March 28, 2017 •

Kentucky’s Governor Signs Campaign Finance Bill

Gov. Matt Bevin approved changes to a campaign finance law yesterday, March 27, 2017. Senate Bill 75 doubles current contribution limits for individuals giving to candidates, state executive committees, and caucus campaign committees. The limit for individuals giving to PACs […]

Gov. Matt BevinGov. Matt Bevin approved changes to a campaign finance law yesterday, March 27, 2017.

Senate Bill 75 doubles current contribution limits for individuals giving to candidates, state executive committees, and caucus campaign committees. The limit for individuals giving to PACs also increases from $1,500 to $2,000.

Contributions to candidates and PACs will be indexed for inflation every odd-numbered year based on the Consumer Price Index. The bill also creates a single reporting threshold of $3,000 for campaign finance reports.

The bill is effective June 28, 2017, or 90 days from adjournment sine die of the regular session of the Legislature.

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