August 24, 2020 •

Federal Appellate Court Upholds District Court’s Invalidation of FEC Disclosure Regulation

DC Court of Appeals

DC Court of Appeals - photo by AgnosticPreachersKid

On August 21, the federal D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a 2018 federal District Court ruling invalidating a federal campaign finance regulation limiting the disclosure requirements of organizations making independent expenditures. On August 3, 2018, a federal district court […]

On August 21, the federal D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a 2018 federal District Court ruling invalidating a federal campaign finance regulation limiting the disclosure requirements of organizations making independent expenditures.

On August 3, 2018, a federal district court had ruled a campaign finance disclosure regulation followed for decades by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) failed to uphold disclosure requirements required by a federal statute.

Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell of the United States District Court for The District of Columbia issued an order, in CREW v. FEC, vacating 11 C.F.R. §109.10(e)(1)(vi), but stayed the vacatur to give time for the FEC to issue interim regulations comporting with the statutory disclosure requirements of 52 U.S.C. §30104(c). The court also has allowed the FEC 30 days to change an earlier FEC dismissal to conform with the court’s ruling. The FEC has not yet replaced the rule.

The case originated because of independent expenditures made in a 2012 Ohio senate race by the non-political social-welfare nonprofit Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies (Crossroads GPS), an affiliate of the American Crossroads Super PAC. Crossroads GPS did not report donors when reporting its independent expenditures, while it acknowledged receiving contributions over $200, arguing the donors did not donate funds directly tied to any specific reported expenditure, as the FEC interpreted 11 C.F.R. §109.10(e)(1)(vi) to require.

Non-political committees making independent expenditures over $250 in a calendar year must comply with disclosure obligations closely analogous to those imposed on political committees.

The vacated regulation required the identification of each person who made a contribution in excess of $200 to the person filing a disclosure report, including for non-political 501(c)(4) non-profit entities making independent expenditures, if the contribution was made for the purpose of furthering the reported independent expenditure. The district court found the regulation, as construed and applied by the FEC, did not require the disclosure of donors, absent the donor’s express agreement that the funds be used for the specific expenditures reported to the FEC, even though the donor may otherwise support and in fact contribute for the purpose of funding those expenditures.

The district court had found the regulation impermissibly narrows the mandated disclosure in 52 U.S.C. §30104(c)(2)(C), which requires the identification of such donors contributing for the purpose of furthering the non-political committee’s own express advocacy for or against the election of a federal candidate, even when the donor has not expressly directed that the funds be used in the precise manner reported.

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March 24, 2020 •

No Late Fees for DC Lobbyist Reports due April 15

Washington D.C. City Hall

On March 23, the District of Columbia Board of Ethics and Government Accountability issued a notice to lobbyists informing them penalties will not be issued for late filings due in April because of the coronavirus pandemic. On April 15, lobbyists […]

On March 23, the District of Columbia Board of Ethics and Government Accountability issued a notice to lobbyists informing them penalties will not be issued for late filings due in April because of the coronavirus pandemic.

On April 15, lobbyists are required to file activity reports for the first three months of calendar year 2020.

That deadline has not been changed.

The Office of Government Ethics (OGE) is open and operating on full telework status through April 27.

Filing electronically online is working normally and payments can still be accepted by mail.

However, the OGE will be unable to provide walk-in assistance or to accept deliveries.

In addition to the OGE not assessing late fees on filings that are delayed due to the public health crisis, the agency will also consider other measures to assist registrants during this time, according to the notice.

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January 9, 2020 •

Special Election on June 16 for Ward 2 D.C. Council Seat

Former Councilman Jack Evans

On June 16, a special election will be held to fill the seat vacated by Ward 2 D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans. Evans resigned on January 7 to avoid a council vote on his removal based on alleged conflicts of interests. […]

On June 16, a special election will be held to fill the seat vacated by Ward 2 D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans.

Evans resigned on January 7 to avoid a council vote on his removal based on alleged conflicts of interests.

The winner of the special election will serve the remainder of Evan’s term, which ends in January 2021, according to WAMU. 

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January 7, 2020 •

New Acting Director of DC’s Board of Ethics and Government Accountability

On January 2, Rochelle Ford became the acting director of the District of Columbia’s Board of Ethics and Government Accountability. Ford was the Board’s Senior Attorney Advisor and had served as Interim General Counsel. Ford replaces Brent Wolfingbarger, who resigned […]

On January 2, Rochelle Ford became the acting director of the District of Columbia’s Board of Ethics and Government Accountability.

Ford was the Board’s Senior Attorney Advisor and had served as Interim General Counsel.

Ford replaces Brent Wolfingbarger, who resigned following a council oversight hearing where Wolfingbarger’s office’s performance came under criticism, according to the Washington City Paper.

His resignation was effective on December 31, 2019.

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November 21, 2019 •

D.C. Council Aims to Tighten Loopholes in Subcontracting Law

Washington D.C. City Hall

The D.C. Council introduced a procurement bill designed to improve compliance with a district law that requires companies with large public contracts to subcontract some work to small local businesses. B23-0545 is aimed at closing loopholes to prevent program abuse […]

The D.C. Council introduced a procurement bill designed to improve compliance with a district law that requires companies with large public contracts to subcontract some work to small local businesses.

B23-0545 is aimed at closing loopholes to prevent program abuse and manipulation.

The bill would prohibit contractors from subcontracting work to companies in which they have an ownership stake to fulfill the law’s requirements.

Businesses applying to be considered local would be required to certify under penalty of perjury that the information they provide is correct.

The bill would also require more evidence from businesses that they are local, create a tip line for reporting violations, and increase the frequency of site inspections.

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September 5, 2019 •

Washington D.C. Fair Elections Temporary Amendment Act of 2019 Becomes Law

Washington D.C. City Hall

Following a 30 day congressional review period, the Washington D.C. Fair Elections Temporary Amendment Act of 2019 is now official law number L23-0013. The law amends the definition of a qualified small-dollar contribution to set a minimum value of cash […]

Following a 30 day congressional review period, the Washington D.C. Fair Elections Temporary Amendment Act of 2019 is now official law number L23-0013.

The law amends the definition of a qualified small-dollar contribution to set a minimum value of cash or in-kind contributions at a value of $5.

L23-0013 became effective August 24 and expires on April 5, 2020.

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July 3, 2019 •

D.C. Mayor Signs Fair Elections Temporary Amendment Act of 2019

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Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser - by AFGE

Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the Fair Elections Temporary Amendment Act of 2019 on July 1. The act amends the definition of a qualified small-dollar contribution to set a minimum value of cash or in-kind contributions at a value of $5. […]

Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the Fair Elections Temporary Amendment Act of 2019 on July 1.

The act amends the definition of a qualified small-dollar contribution to set a minimum value of cash or in-kind contributions at a value of $5.

Following a 30 day period of congressional review, the act will become effective .

The act will expire 225 days after becoming effective.

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May 23, 2019 •

D.C. Mayor Signs Fair Elections Emergency Amendment Act of 2019

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Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser - by AFGE

Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the Fair Elections Emergency Amendment Act of 2019 on May 22. The act amends the definition of a qualified small-dollar contribution to set a minimum value of cash or in-kind contributions at $5. The act became […]

Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the Fair Elections Emergency Amendment Act of 2019 on May 22.

The act amends the definition of a qualified small-dollar contribution to set a minimum value of cash or in-kind contributions at $5.

The act became effective following the approval by Mayor Bowser and will remain in effect until August 20.

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March 12, 2019 •

Major Campaign Finance Reform Becomes Effective

District of Columbia Act 22-578 passed Congressional review and is now effective. The Campaign Finance Reform Amendment Act of 2018 removes the Office of Campaign Finance from the Board of Elections and establishes an independent five-member Campaign Finance Board (CFB). […]

District of Columbia Act 22-578 passed Congressional review and is now effective.

The Campaign Finance Reform Amendment Act of 2018 removes the Office of Campaign Finance from the Board of Elections and establishes an independent five-member Campaign Finance Board (CFB).

The Act restricts political contributions by contractors doing business with the district and addresses improper coordination between campaigns, political action committees, and independent expenditure committees.

The pay-to-play component of the bill bans campaign contributions by businesses seeking contracts of $250,000 or more.

The pay-to-play provisions take effect after the November 2020 general election.

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December 5, 2018 •

D.C. Campaign Finance Bill Passes Second Vote

The D.C. Council unanimously approved a bill in a second full council vote that aims to restrict political contributions by government contractors doing business with the district. The bill also addresses improper coordination between campaigns, political action committees and independent […]

The D.C. Council unanimously approved a bill in a second full council vote that aims to restrict political contributions by government contractors doing business with the district.

The bill also addresses improper coordination between campaigns, political action committees and independent expenditure committees.

The pay-to-play component of the bill would ban campaign contributions by businesses seeking contracts of $250,000 or more.

Provided the mayor approves the legislation, the act of the council travels to Congress for a 30-day review. If approved and funded, the bill would take effect on October 1, 2019.

Pay-to-play provisions would take effect after the November 2020 general election.

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November 26, 2018 •

D.C. Council Approves Pay-to-Play Reforms

The Washington D.C. Council approved a bill in a first full council vote that aims to restrict political contributions by government contractors doing business with the district. The bill also addresses improper coordination between campaigns, political action committees and independent […]

The Washington D.C. Council approved a bill in a first full council vote that aims to restrict political contributions by government contractors doing business with the district.

The bill also addresses improper coordination between campaigns, political action committees and independent expenditure committees.

The pay-to- play component of the bill would ban campaign contributions by businesses seeking contracts of $250,000 or more.

The council votes again on the bill in December. If approved and funded, the bill would take effect on October 1, 2019.

Pay-to-play provisions would take effect after the November 2020 general election.

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November 16, 2018 •

The District of Columbia Adjusts Procurement and Lobbying Requirements

Act A22-0442, which included the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability Amendment Act of 2018, passed congressional review. The Act expands the scope of procurement lobbying in the District of Columbia to include action by an executive agency or official […]

Act A22-0442, which included the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability Amendment Act of 2018, passed congressional review.

The Act expands the scope of procurement lobbying in the District of Columbia to include action by an executive agency or official in the executive branch to contract, grant or procure goods or services.

The lobbyist reporting periods change from semi-annual to quarterly reporting in January 2019.

Additional registration requirements were added including the precise description of the subject matter, including any bill, proposed resolution, contract, or other legislation of all writing or oral communications related to lobbying activities conducted with an executive or legislative member or official’s staff.

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October 30, 2018 •

Washington D.C. Campaign Finance Reform Addresses Pay-to-Play

The Washington D.C. Council Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety unanimously passed a bill that aims to restrict political contributions by government contractors doing business with the district. The bill also addresses improper coordination between campaigns, political action committees […]

The Washington D.C. Council Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety unanimously passed a bill that aims to restrict political contributions by government contractors doing business with the district.

The bill also addresses improper coordination between campaigns, political action committees and independent expenditure committees.

The pay-to-play component of the bill would ban campaign contributions by businesses seeking contracts of $250,000 or more.

If passed by the full council, the bill is subject to appropriation and, if funded, would take effect on October 1, 2019.

Pay-to-play provisions would take effect after the November 2020 general election.

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March 14, 2018 •

Washington D.C. Mayor Signs Bill Creating Publicly Financed Elections

Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser signed the Fair Elections Act creating publicly financed elections. In this voluntary program, qualified candidates for mayor, attorney general, Council, or the State Board of Education must raise a certain amount of money from small-dollar […]

Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser signed the Fair Elections Act creating publicly financed elections.

In this voluntary program, qualified candidates for mayor, attorney general, Council, or the State Board of Education must raise a certain amount of money from small-dollar donors.

The city would then provide start-up support and a 5:1 match on the small dollar-contributions.

Before receiving any public money, candidates would also have to accept lower contribution limits and reject all corporate and political action committee contributions.

The law is expected to take effect in 2020.

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