May 10, 2019 •

Federal Judge Rules South Dakota Initiated Measure 24 Unconstitutional

U.S. District Judge Charles Kornmann struck down a ban on out-of-state contributions to ballot question committees recently passed by voters. Kornmann found Initiated Measure 24 unconstitutional because it violates First Amendment rights to engage in political speech. Additionally, Kornmann said […]

U.S. District Judge Charles Kornmann struck down a ban on out-of-state contributions to ballot question committees recently passed by voters.

Kornmann found Initiated Measure 24 unconstitutional because it violates First Amendment rights to engage in political speech.

Additionally, Kornmann said the measure violates the Commerce Clause by interfering with the free flow of money between persons from another state and South Dakota committees.

The ruling is a permanent injunction that stops the planned implementation on July 1.

The state must now determine if it will appeal the decision to the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

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April 17, 2019 •

Los Angeles City Council Working Towards Banning Developer Donations

The Los Angeles City Council rules committee voted to have the city attorney draft two versions of a proposed ban on donations to city officials from developers seeking approval for their building projects.

Version one would directly follow the Ethics Commission’s recommendation to restrict non-individuals and developers from making political contributions. The restriction would apply from the date the project application is filed until 12 months after the final resolution of the application.

Version two would ban donations from any person or entity pursuing or currently working on large development projects with the city.

Both proposals would ban elected officials from soliciting behested payments from restricted sources, and lower the disclosure threshold for behested payments to $1,000 per payor per year.

Additionally, the proposals would require the disclosure of behested payments to identify whether the payor is a lobbyist, lobbyist firm, bidder, contractor, or developer.

These drafts are expected to be presented to the full City Council within the next few weeks.

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September 28, 2017 •

Today, the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) issued a Legal Advisory memo explicitly stating the OGE’s view anonymous contributions to legal defense funds of federal employees are prohibited. Legal Advisory LA-17-10 specifically refers to OGE Informal Advisory Opinion 93×21 (1993), […]

Today, the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) issued a Legal Advisory memo explicitly stating the OGE’s view anonymous contributions to legal defense funds of federal employees are prohibited.

Legal Advisory LA-17-10 specifically refers to OGE Informal Advisory Opinion 93×21 (1993), which found employees who received anonymous donations would “be unable to favor the anonymous donors.” The new Legal Advisory memo acknowledges that shortly after the Informal Advisory Opinion was issued, the agency began “advising, and is continuing to advise, that the instruments establishing legal defense funds include a clause stating that ‘contributions shall not be accepted from anonymous sources.’”

The new memo reiterates the OGE’s position given in an interview by the head of the OGE with Politico earlier this month. The interview was made in reaction to an OGE note on the 1993 opinion that had been changed earlier this year to say the opinion’s original applicability had not changed.

Critics of the note change had said it opened the door up to lobbyists and other prohibited sources funding legal defenses for employees currently working in the White House.

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September 11, 2017 •

Campaign Finance Riders in House Financial Services Appropriations Bill

Several provisions added last week to the House Financial Services appropriations bill would alter some federal campaign laws. The legislation would prevent some charitable 501(c)(3) organizations such as churches from losing their tax-exempt status for making contributions to candidates. The […]

Several provisions added last week to the House Financial Services appropriations bill would alter some federal campaign laws.

The legislation would prevent some charitable 501(c)(3) organizations such as churches from losing their tax-exempt status for making contributions to candidates. The bill would also allow corporations greater latitude in soliciting employees to contribute to political action committees.

The riders to the bill also include provisions prohibiting the IRS from enacting rules governing political activity and prohibiting the SEC from implementing rules requiring corporations to report to its shareholders a corporation’s political campaign activities.

A further change to campaign finance law in the appropriation bill would bar the use of funds to recommend or require any entity submitting an offer for a federal contract to disclose specified political contributions as a condition of submitting the offer.

The appropriations and other finance bills are expected to be debated this and next week in the House.

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February 20, 2017 •

Missouri Lawmakers Want Future Governors to Disclose Details of Inaugural Contributions

Missouri House Democrats have introduced a bill to require future governors to publicly disclose donations for gubernatorial inauguration activities. Lawmakers hope to eliminate the appearance of corruption by allowing Missourians to see how much money corporations and lobbyists donate to […]

Missouri CapitolMissouri House Democrats have introduced a bill to require future governors to publicly disclose donations for gubernatorial inauguration activities.

Lawmakers hope to eliminate the appearance of corruption by allowing Missourians to see how much money corporations and lobbyists donate to fund inaugural events.

Recently, Gov. Eric Greitens issued a list of benefactors who contributed to his inaugural celebration but refused to confirm how much was contributed by each donor and how much money was actually spent.

He formed a nonprofit to raise money for the inauguration and the contributions, therefore, were not subject to state campaign finance laws.

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February 8, 2017 •

Tennessee Adjusts Contribution Limits for 2017-2018 Elections

The Tennessee Registry of Election Finance recently published updated contribution limits for 2017 and 2018 elections. The limits are adjusted in every odd-numbered year based on changes in the Consumer Price Index. Individuals may now contribute $4,000 per election to […]

tn-sealThe Tennessee Registry of Election Finance recently published updated contribution limits for 2017 and 2018 elections. The limits are adjusted in every odd-numbered year based on changes in the Consumer Price Index.

Individuals may now contribute $4,000 per election to statewide candidates. The limit for individuals contributing to local, state legislative, or other state candidates remains unchanged.

PACs may contribute $7,800 per election to local candidates and to candidates for state House, criminal court judge, circuit court judge, chancellor, probate court judge, district attorney general, or public defender. They may contribute $11,800 per election to statewide candidates and to candidates for state Senate. The aggregate PAC limit for all non-statewide elections was increased to $118,100.

Primary and general elections are considered separate elections for the purpose of campaign contribution limits.

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January 17, 2017 •

Corpus Christi Considering New Ethics Code Recommendations

Corpus Christi, Texas City Council will meet Tuesday to discuss new recommendations to the ethics code to further tighten rules for City Council members. The Council unanimously approved the new code during a first vote last week. If approved on […]

Flag_of_Corpus_Christi,_Texas.svgCorpus Christi, Texas City Council will meet Tuesday to discuss new recommendations to the ethics code to further tighten rules for City Council members. The Council unanimously approved the new code during a first vote last week.

If approved on the second vote, it will be formally adopted by City Council. If adopted, the modified code would ban council members from appointing people to city committees and boards if the appointee contributed more than $2,700 to the council member’s campaign in the previous election. This would not ban the contributor from appointment, but would require a council member who did not receive contributions meeting the threshold to appoint the person.

Additionally, the prospective code broadens who falls within what is called the circle of influence and indicates a conflict of interest if a person with a specific relationship to a council member would profit from a council member’s vote. The current circle of influence includes direct family members but could be expanded to cover employers of family members and household members if the new code is adopted.

 

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December 5, 2016 •

Washington’s Session Freeze on Contributions Begins December 10

The regular legislative session is fast approaching and is set to convene January 9, 2017. With 30 days before the official start date, December 10, 2016, will mark the date legislators and state executive officeholders may not solicit or accept […]

Washington State CapitolThe regular legislative session is fast approaching and is set to convene January 9, 2017. With 30 days before the official start date, December 10, 2016, will mark the date legislators and state executive officeholders may not solicit or accept campaign contributions until the session adjourns.

Candidates may accept contributions that were made on December 9 or earlier, including contributions that were mailed and bear a December 9 postmark.

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November 17, 2016 •

Utah Special Session Adjourned

The Utah Legislature adjourned a one day special session sine die on November 16, 2017. Lawmakers unanimously passed a bill to fix a complicated gas tax distribution formula in order to evenly distribute revenue and reflect the legislative intent of […]

Seal of UtahThe Utah Legislature adjourned a one day special session sine die on November 16, 2017. Lawmakers unanimously passed a bill to fix a complicated gas tax distribution formula in order to evenly distribute revenue and reflect the legislative intent of the original bill passed last year.

Lawmakers also passed a bill clarifying the definitions of solid waste and solid waste management facility, seeking approval from Gov. Gary Herbert who vetoed similar legislation earlier this year and requested changes.

Per Utah law, the ban on contributions during a special legislative session concludes at the time of adjournment.

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