January 4, 2012 •

2012 Guidebooks Are Here!

The State and Federal Communications, Inc. research staff has updated this Executive Source Guidebook and we are pleased to provide it to our valued clients.

Executive Source GuidebookThis quick desk reference combines information from our online resources and lists the information by state:

– The Executive Source Guide on Lobbying Laws™;
– The Executive Source Guide on Political Contributions™; and
– The Executive Source Guide on Procurement Lobbying™.

This guidebook is filled with valuable information. However, we also caution it has two limitations:

The online resources, which you receive either through your subscription or as part of your lobbying compliance service, are comprehensive. This guidebook summarizes information in the online resources, and is meant only as a quick-reference guide.

While this guidebook is accurate and timely when we print it, please understand our online resources are updated continually. We provide this guidebook to you as a convenience, but your ultimate source of information should always be the online resource(s) to which you subscribe.

We consider this guidebook another value-added benefit of your partnership with State and Federal Communications. You also receive, via e-mail, monthly updates of important compliance legislation on the federal and state levels; News You Can Use™, our weekly summary of current news and events regarding compliance; and the Compliance Now newsletter with even more information.

Please call us at (330)761-9960 or email marketing@stateandfed.com if you would like to learn more about State and Federal Communications’ compliance services. Be sure to contact us if you are already a client and need to have your subscription username or password forwarded.

We are privileged to have you as clients, and are pleased to be your trusted adviser for government affairs compliance.

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January 3, 2012 •

Montana Court Blocks Corporate Expenditures

Citizens United

MontanaThe Montana Supreme Court has held the state law prohibiting independent political expenditures by a corporation related to a candidate is constitutional.

Finding Citizens United v. FEC did not compel invalidating the state’s 1912 Corrupt Practices Act, the majority opinion of the Montana Supreme Court in Western Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Attorney General of the State of Montana states, “The corporate power that can be exerted with unlimited political spending is still a vital interest to the people of Montana.”

The Court concludes the state, because of its history and the history of the Act, has a compelling interest to impose statutory restrictions, emphasizing the Citizens United decision allows restrictions to be upheld if the government demonstrates a sufficiently strong interest.

In making its argument, the decision asserts that a “material factual distinction between the present case and Citizens United is the extent of the regulatory burden imposed by the challenged law.” The Court found in contrast to the “complexity and ambiguity” of restrictions for federal PACs, PACs formed and maintained in the state are “easily implemented” by the filing of “simple and straight-forward forms or reports.”

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December 12, 2011 •

Amendment Excludes Corporations from Rights of Natural Persons

Campaign Finance

Joint ResolutionFederal House and Senate resolutions meant to blunt the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. FEC decision have recently been submitted to Congress.

Senate Joint Resolution 33, introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders, and House Joint Resolution 90, introduced by Representative Theodore E. Deutch, both expressly exclude for-profit corporations from “the rights given to natural persons” and prohibit corporation spending in all elections, including ballot issues.

Additionally, the resolutions allow the government “to regulate and set limits on all election contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own spending, and to authorize the establishment of political committees to receive, spend, and publicly disclose the sources of those contributions and expenditures.’’

The amendment proposed reads as follows:

Section 1. The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons and do not extend to for-profit corporations, limited liability companies, or other private entities established for business purposes or to promote business interests under the laws of any state, the United States, or any foreign state.

Section 2. Such corporate and other private entities established under law are subject to regulation by the people through the legislative process so long as such regulations are consistent with the powers of Congress and the States and do not limit the freedom of the press.

Section 3. Such corporate and other private entities shall be prohibited from making contributions or expenditures in any election of any candidate for public office or the vote upon any ballot measure submitted to the people.

Section 4. Congress and the States shall have the power to regulate and set limits on all election contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own spending, and to authorize the establishment of political committees to receive, spend, and publicly disclose the sources of those contributions and expenditures.

Other constitutional amendments introduced related to campaign finance can be found in our prior blog posts, including Constitutional Amendment to Control Campaign Financing and Constitutional Amendment to Reverse Citizens United.

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November 30, 2011 •

Ask the Experts – Allocating Contributions Per Election

Here is your chance to “Ask the Experts” at State and Federal Communications, Inc.

Nola Werren
Nola Werren, Esq.

Q:  I want to make political contributions to a candidate for state assembly.  The limits are per election.  How do I make certain the contribution is attributed to the correct election [primary or general]?  Does it matter when I give the contribution in relation to the election?

A:  In this situation it is important to have a “meeting of the minds” between the contributor and the candidate.  The contributor’s intent should be made clear by either indicating the name of the election on the memo line of the check [e.g., 2012 Primary Election], or including a cover letter with the check, or both.  The cover letter can contain language specifically earmarking the contribution for the intended election.  Using these precautions should prevent the candidate from allocating the contribution to an election different from the one intended by the contributor, thereby resulting in a violation of the per election contribution limits.   It is not unusual for a candidate to file his pre- or post- election reports disclosing aggregate contributions from a donor in violation of the per election limit.  The candidate allocated two or more checks to one election, but the contributor intended one check for the primary and one for the general.

Furthermore, a contributor must be aware of the timing of the contribution.  For instance, in New Jersey, you only have 17 days after an election to make a contribution for that particular election; otherwise the contribution is automatically applied toward the next election, regardless of the contributor’s intent.

You can directly submit questions for this feature, and we will select those most appropriate and answer them here. Send your questions to: marketing@stateandfed.com.

(We are always available to answer questions from clients that are specific to your needs, and we encourage you to continue to call or e-mail us with questions about your particular company or organization. As always, we will confidentially and directly provide answers or information you need.) Our replies to your questions are not legal advice. Instead, these replies represent our analysis of laws, rules, and regulations.

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September 21, 2011 •

Constitutional Amendment to Reverse Citizens United

Congress and the States

H.J. Res. 78An amendment to the U.S. Constitution seeking to reverse the ruling of the Citizens United decision has been reintroduced in Congress.

Congressman John Conyers and Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards, co-sponsors of House Joint Resolution 78, want to give Congress and the states specific authority to regulate corporate expenditures on political activity. The amendment reads “nothing in this Constitution shall prohibit Congress and the States from imposing content-neutral regulations and restrictions on the expenditure of funds for political activity by any corporation, limited liability company, or other corporate entity, including but not limited to contributions in support of, or in opposition to, a candidate for public office.”

In Congresswoman Donna F. Edward’s press release she states, “Justice John Paul Stevens warned that the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United threatened ‘to undermine the integrity of elected institutions around the nation’ and how right he was. Since that flawed ruling was issued, campaign spending by outside groups including corporations surged more than four-fold to reach nearly $300 million in the 2010 election cycle.”

The amendment also reads “nothing contained in this Article shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press.”

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August 25, 2011 •

Starbucks CEO Halts Campaign Contributions

100 other CEOs follow suit

coffeeThe Wall Street Journal reported last night that Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz will not give a penny in campaign contributions to incumbents until Congress comes up with a long-term solution to the debt problem. According to the article, 100 other heads of corporations have joined him in that pledge.

Schultz also made a plea to business leaders to start hiring again.

In “Starbucks CEO: Pledge to Halt Campaign Donations Gains Steam,” Julie Jargon names a few of the other CEOs following Schultz in the promise.

Could a movement be brewing?

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August 24, 2011 •

Our Online Executive Source Guides

Our Online Executive Source Guides give you everything you need for your compliance work in one place!

State and Federal Communications  is the most trusted source in the nation for comprehensive, accurate, and timely compliance information lobbying laws, political contributions, procurement lobbying, and Canadian Compliance for U.S. Companies.

Our Executive Source Guides cover every important jurisdiction – federal, all 50 states, and more than 200 municipalities. We cover Canada too!

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August 23, 2011 •

Ask the Experts – Disclosing Contributions on the LD-203

Here is your chance to “Ask the Experts” at State and Federal Communications, Inc.

Rebecca South
Federal Compliance Associate Rebecca South

Q: What contributions am I required to disclose on the Semi-annual LD-203 contribution report?

A: Though much focus is placed on the PAC and political contributions that must be disclosed on the LD-203, there are four (4) additional categories of reportable expenditures.  Below is an overview of all the expenditures required to be tracked and reported by employer registrants and individual lobbyists:

FECA (Federal Election Campaign Act)

  • Contributions (including in-kind) of $200 or more (in the aggregate) to any Federal candidate or officeholder, leadership PAC, or political party committee (such as the RNC or DNC).   For an employer report, this involves listing contributions from the company’s associated PAC.  FECA contributions tend to be the most common type reported but do not represent full disclosure when other reportable expenditures exist.

HONORARY

  • An expenditure of any amount made to an entity established, financed, maintained, or controlled by a covered legislative branch official or covered executive branch official, or an entity designated by such official.  Of note, this can include donations made to charitable organizations and other non-profit entities.
  • An expenditure of any amount made to pay the cost of an event to honor or recognize a covered legislative branch official or covered executive branch official.  The purchase of a table or ticket to another entity’s event, in and of itself, is not sufficient to be considered “paying the cost” of the event.
  • An expenditure of any amount made to an entity named for a covered legislative branch official or to a person or entity in recognition of such official.

MEETING

  • An expenditure of any amount made for a meeting, retreat, conference, or other similar event held by, or in the name of, one or more covered legislative branch officials or covered executive branch officials.

PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY and/or INAUGURAL COMMITTEE

  • Contributions of $200 or more to any presidential library foundation and/or presidential inaugural committee made by an individual or employer (including from employer’s PAC) during the reporting period.

You can directly submit questions for this feature, and we will select those most appropriate and answer them here. Send your questions to: marketing@stateandfed.com.

(We are always available to answer questions from clients that are specific to your needs, and we encourage you to continue to call or e-mail us with questions about your particular company or organization. As always, we will confidentially and directly provide answers or information you need.) Our replies to your questions are not legal advice. Instead, these replies represent our analysis of laws, rules, and regulations.

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July 7, 2011 •

State and Federal Communications Expands Coverage

In a continuing effort to better serve the needs of its clients, State and Federal Communications, Inc. is expanding coverage of laws and regulations in more municipalities.

North AmericaBy Labor Day, our clients will find 36 additional municipalities included on our website. As they are completed, we will update our postings so you can check out the additional resources.

Right now, we have provided information on lobbying, political contributions, and procurement lobbying for Alexandria, Virginia (my former home) and Tacoma, Washington.

In the future look for additional cities in New York, Arizona, and Michigan.

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June 8, 2011 •

Judge Reaffirms Corporation Political Contributions

Limits To Case Before Him

United States District Court Eastern District of VirginiaYesterday, the judge who ruled corporations may contribute directly to federal candidates reaffirmed his decision, but held it only applies in the criminal case before him. Federal District Judge James C. Cacheris continues to find the “logic remains inescapable” that the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United dictates corporations have the same contribution rights as human beings.

The judge writes: “Again, for better or worse, Citizens United held that the First Amendment treats corporations and individuals equally for the purposes of political speech. This leaves no logical room for an individual to be able to donate $2,500 to a campaign while a corporation … cannot donate a cent.” However, his decision states the “flat ban on direct corporate contributions to political campaigns is unconstitutional as applied to this case, as opposed to being unconstitutional as applied to all corporate donations.”

After reviewing the possible impact of his decision in US v Danielczyk, and the unaddressed political contribution issues since the Citizens United decision, the judge characterizes his ruling by concluding it “adds a small drop to what is already a very large bucket.”

This blog post updates a previous article, “Corporate Contribution Ban Found Unconstitutional” by George Ticoras on May 27.

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June 2, 2011 •

Tennessee Bill Allowing Corporate Contributions Becomes Law

Contribution Limits Increased

Tennessee flagTennessee Governor Bill Haslam has signed Senate Bill 1915 (companion to House Bill 1003) into law.

The bill allows corporations to contribute to candidates by removing the previous statutory prohibition. The bill also adjusts contribution limits to reflect change in the Consumer Price Index.

The new law is effective immediately.

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May 3, 2011 •

Corporate Contributions Bills in Tennessee Approved by Committees

Increased Contribution Limits Also Included

Bills legalizing direct corporate contributions and increasing contribution limits have moved one step closer to becoming law.

House Bill 1003 and concurrent Senate Bill 1915 have been approved by state and local government committees in both chambers of the Tennessee General Assembly.

The bills would allow direct corporate contributions to candidates and would increase contribution limits by nearly 40 percent.

Photo of the Tennessee State Capitol by Ichabod on Wikipedia.

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April 20, 2011 •

California Legislature Proposes Stronger Campaign Finance Laws

A bill to tighten restrictions on political contributions has been introduced in the California legislature.

California State CapitolAssembly Bill 860 would prohibit corporations or labor unions from making contributions to a candidate for elected office. Additionally, this legislation would strengthen the state pay-to-play laws.

The bill would prohibit government contractors from making contributions to an official or candidate who is or would be elected to a position responsible for awarding a government contract to the contributor.

Finally, this bill would also prohibit any employer from using payroll deduction to fund any political activity.

Photo of the California State Capitol by Nikopoley on Wikipedia.

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February 18, 2011 •

South Dakota Bill Would Ease Ban on Corporate Contributions

A campaign finance bill has been introduced in the state senate to allow corporate contributions to PACs.

Currently, corporations are prohibited from any campaign activity other than those contributions allowed by the U.S. Supreme Court in its “Citizens United” decision.

Corporations would still be forbidden from contributing to a candidate committee or political party committee.

South Dakota seal from an image of the state flag by Denelson83 on Wikipedia.

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