March 15, 2016 •

Campaign Suspended for Proposed California ‘Dark Money’ Ballot Measure

Proponents of the Voters Right to Know Act suspended their campaign for a California ballot measure to trace dark money and tighten lobbying and campaign finance regulations. Jim Heerwagen, who led the campaign, said he is ending the work on […]

CaliforniaProponents of the Voters Right to Know Act suspended their campaign for a California ballot measure to trace dark money and tighten lobbying and campaign finance regulations. Jim Heerwagen, who led the campaign, said he is ending the work on the initiative because there are now several bills in the Legislature that cover the same issues.

Heerwagen cited Senate Bill 1349, introduced to create a new campaign finance database, as one of the pending bills that would carry out the goal of his campaign.

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March 15, 2016 •

Tuesday Lobbying and Campaign Finance News Update

Lobbying California: “California Watchdog Considers Rule Narrowing Secret Lobbying” by Alison Noon (Associated Press) for Los Angeles Daily News Florida: “Broward Commissioners Reject ‘Gift’ from Boys & Girls Club” by Brittany Wallman for South Florida Sun Sentinel New Jersey: “Sweeney’s […]

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California: “California Watchdog Considers Rule Narrowing Secret Lobbying” by Alison Noon (Associated Press) for Los Angeles Daily News

Florida: “Broward Commissioners Reject ‘Gift’ from Boys & Girls Club” by Brittany Wallman for South Florida Sun Sentinel

New Jersey: “Sweeney’s Office and Horizon Swapped Notes before Key Speech” by Susan Livio (NJ Advance media) for Newark Star-Ledger

North Carolina: “Group Attacks NC House Member Justin Burr for Dating a Lobbyist” by Colin Campbell for Raleigh News & Observer

Vermont: “Lawmakers Switch Tack on Lobbyist Donations” by Jasper Craven and Anne Galloway for VTDigger.org

Virgina: “Virginia Legislative Session Ends with Agreements and Bickering” by Travis Fain for The Daily Press

Campaign Finance

New Mexico: “Questions Raised about Martinez’s Inaugural Spending” by Justin Horwath for Las Cruces Sun-News

Virgina: “Lawmakers Switch Tack on Lobbyist Donations” by Jasper Craven and Anne Galloway for VTDigger.org

Washington: “Judge Finds Grocery Group Violated Campaign Laws in 2013” by Donna Gordon Blankenship (Associated Press) for Tacoma News-Tribune

Ethics

New York: “Heastie Outlines Assembly Ethics Plan” by David Howard King for Gotham Gazette

South Carolina: “Group Sends SC House Members $2 Each, Asking for their Vote” by Jamie Self for The State

Elections

Donald Trump’s Presidential Run Began in an Effort to Gain Stature” by Maggie Haberman and Alexander Burns for New York Times

Legislative Issues

Alabama: “Momentum to Remove Confederate Symbols Slows or Stops” by Alan Blinder for New York Times

 

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March 11, 2016 •

News You Can Use Digest – March 11, 2016

Federal: Ben Carson’s Small-Dollar Donors Could Keep Yielding Big Money Center for Public Integrity – Carrie Levine | Published: 3/3/2016 Ben Carson’s database containing personal information on more than 700,000 donors to his presidential campaign could be a big money-maker if […]

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Federal:

Ben Carson’s Small-Dollar Donors Could Keep Yielding Big Money
Center for Public Integrity – Carrie Levine | Published: 3/3/2016

Ben Carson’s database containing personal information on more than 700,000 donors to his presidential campaign could be a big money-maker if supporters’ information is rented to other candidates, political committees, and even for-profit data brokers, that may, in turn, use it to raise money. Some of the primary beneficiaries of renting Carson’s list would likely be his own campaign consultants and political operatives, who typically oversee marketing such lists and administering what remains of the campaign apparatus. A high percentage of Carson’s contributors has not previously given to candidates, which means those donors are less likely to be on other political lists already in circulation. This makes Carson’s supporter database an even more valuable commodity, to the party and to others who want to raise money.

Lobbyists Plan for Battle over Contractor Fair Pay Rule
Bloomberg BNA – Ben Penn | Published: 3/3/2016

A controversial executive order requiring federal contractors to disclose past employment law violations has trade association lobbyists, worker advocates, and attorneys gearing up for a fierce debate on Capitol Hill and in the courts. The Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council and the Labor Department are busy finalizing a regulation and guidance to implement the President Obama’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order. It requires businesses to disclose any violations of 14 federal labor and employment laws, as well as comparable state laws, for the previous three years to be eligible for contracts worth more than $500,000. It allows agencies to deny contracts based on the information.

The FEC Just Made It Easier for Super PAC Donors to Hide Their Identities
Washington Post – Matea Gold | Published: 3/7/2016

Political donors hiding their super PAC contributions behind shell companies have effectively been given the green light to continue the practice after the FEC could not agree whether to open an investigation into so-called straw donations. Campaign finance law stipulates that donors cannot make political contributions in another person’s name. This law has tended to be breached by employers who privately instruct their employees to donate to political campaigns, with the assurance that they will later be reimbursed. But in the era following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, the practices of disclosure have become even cloudier, and mysterious LLC groups have proliferated.

Trump Cracks Down on Protesters
Politico – Ben Schreckinger | Published: 3/8/2016

Donald Trump’s campaign appears to be ramping up efforts to prevent displays of dissent at his often unruly rallies. New tactics include extended barriers cordoning off the press and plainclothes private intelligence officers monitoring the crowd for protestors. Trump has escalated confrontations with protesters, leaving his podium to stare them down and repeatedly lamenting that his supporters cannot retaliate against them. At a rally in Nevada, he said of a dissenter, “I’d like to punch him in the face.” One member of Trump’s private security team, Eddie Deck, said his duties were now weighted towards intelligence work researching potential protesters and assisting uniformed security personnel under the direction of the candidate’s head of security.

From the States and Municipalities:

Alaska – Legislature Pursues More Big Cuts to Campaign Finance Regulators
Alaska Dispatch News – Alex DeMarban | Published: 3/9/2016

The Legislature last year cut funding to the Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) by 43 percent. Now, lawmakers are moving ahead with plans to strike another $200,000, reducing the agency’s budget to $591,000, a 57 percent drop from two years earlier. Heather Hebdon, APOC’s campaign disclosure coordinator, said if the latest round of cuts is accepted by lawmakers, it will be harder for her agency to regulate fundraising and spending during busy state elections this summer and fall. APOC also enforces disclosure requirements for lobbyists, a job handled by one employee in Juneau, as well as disclosure requirements for public officials.

California – California GOP Leader Wants to Reinvent Party
The Desert Sun – Laurel Rosenhall (CALmatters) | Published: 3/9/2016

Chad Mayes, the California Assembly’s Republican leader, takes over as the GOP is fracturing at the national level over the presidential nomination, and dwindling in California, where less than 28 percent of voters are now registered Republican. Mayes believes he can make his party relevant in this blue state by moving away from social issues like gay marriage and abortion, and focusing instead on quality of life issues like housing affordability and the need for middle-class jobs. Fueled by his Christian faith and a pragmatic style, Mayes is trying to make poverty alleviation a key focus for Republicans.

Colorado – Audit: Colorado’s ethics commission rarely helps those filing complaints
Denver Post – Joey Bunch | Published: 3/8/2016

A state audit revealed that the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission does a poor job telling people how to file a complaint, what complaints the commission can review, and what the public can reasonably expect to happen to those who commit a violation. Those failings are among the reasons that 50 of the 57 complaints the commission reviewed from 2012 through 2015 were dismissed because the commission did not have authority or jurisdiction over the case, auditors suggested. The commission, which has a one-person staff and no investigators, found just four violations in four years. The agency’s few powers include oversight of gifts to state and some local officials exceeding $59 a year.

Connecticut – Connecticut Election, Information and Ethics Watchdog Agencies Fear Results of Deep Cuts
New Haven Register – Mary O’Leary | Published: 3/3/2016

Connecticut’s watchdog agencies say any additional budget cuts will leave them unable to function. The state is trying to close a $900 million deficit. The executive directors of the Freedom of Information Commission, the State Election Enforcement Commission, and the Office of State Ethics said their collective mission to keep government honest is being threatened. The directors said a big part of each of their jobs is training people to keep them out of trouble. Carol Carson, executive director of the Office of State Ethics, said if they hold fewer training sessions, they will have fewer people seeking advice and there will be more expensive enforcement action against state employees, public officials, and lobbyists. “I’d rather give advice to 1,000 people than enforce against 100,” Carson said.

Indiana – State to Locals: You can’t do that. Or that.
Indianapolis Star – Brian Eason | Published: 3/6/2016

Lately, it seems, whenever an Indiana city even thinks about passing an ordinance the General Assembly disagrees with, state lawmakers strip local officials of the authority to do so. To some, the erosion of local authority is nothing short of an attack on local democracy. To others, the practice known as pre-emption is a necessary protection. The recent proliferation of pre-emption bills can be explained in part by Indiana’s political culture and in part by a national conservative movement.

Massachusetts – Mass. Campaign Finance Regulators’ Office Gets Hip to Memes
Boston Globe – Steve Annear | Published: 3/3/2016

Regulators in Massachusetts are using a social media campaign to educate the public about the state’s campaign finance law. An image posted on the Office of Campaign and Political Finance’s Twitter account explained how much money candidates running for office are allowed to collect from donors. “An individual can contribute up to $50 a year in cash to a candidate,” read the message, which used a picture of an enthusiastic man in a business suit being showered with money to accentuate the point. The goal is to make the complex rules and regulations of running for political office more engaging. It is a dramatic change of tactics from the usually staid office.

Mississippi – No State Officials Enforce Campaign Finance Laws
Jackson Clarion-Ledger – Mollie Bryant, Geoff Pender, and Katie Royals | Published: 3/5/2016

No government agency claims responsibility for ensuring candidates and officials in Mississippi follow the state’s campaign finance laws. Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said no one reviews campaign finance reports filed with his office, and his office does not have the authority or resources to do so. The only campaign finance enforcement under Mississippi law involves disclosure. State law requires the secretary of state to report the names of candidates and elected officials who have not filed campaign finance reports and to fine them. If candidates and elected officials do not pay what they owe within 120 days, the secretary of state is required to notify the attorney general, who can file a suit.

New Mexico – Transparency Legislation Isn’t Quite as Transparent as Billed
New Mexico In Depth – Sandra Fish | Published: 3/4/2016

House Bill 105, which was signed into law by Gov. Susana Martinez, aims to make it easier for the public to access information about campaign contributions and lobbyists’ reporting. But the bill also ends a requirement that lobbyists report cumulative spending on lawmakers, and increases the limit for reporting from $75 to $100 per event. If the law had been in effect during 2015, nearly one-fourth of the 4818,000 spent by lobbyists would have gone unreported. The section on lobbyist reporting takes effect July 1, and would apply to lobbyists reports filed in October and January 2017.

New York – Assembly Democrats Introduce Bill to Increase Public Disclosure Requirements for Groups Who Lobby in New York
New York Daily News – Kenneth Lovett | Published: 3/10/2016

A bill introduced in the New York Assembly would amend lobbying disclosure rules. It would also specifically exempt from the definition of lobbying any communications with news outlets, including editorial boards. The legislation would require organizations registered to lobby in New York and that spend more than $5,000 to disclose the names of all donors who gave them more than $1,000. They would also have to disclose the exact amount donated and how the funding was used.

New York – PR Firms File Suit over ‘Hopelessly Vague’ JCOPE Lobbying Definition
Capital New York – Bill Mahoney | Published: 3/8/2016

A group of public relations firms filed suit in federal court against the New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) to stop it from putting into effect a rule requiring disclosure of efforts to get editorial columns written for causes. The suit claims JCOPE overstepped its mandate when it adopted an advisory opinion that reinterpreted the definition of the lobbying. The new standard caused an uproar among many public relations professionals, who argued such disclosure would limit their right to free speech as well as the ability of editorial board members and other journalists to talk with such sources about issues and possible articles.

Pennsylvania – Former LCB Chairman Who Took Gifts Drops Out of Ethics Panel
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review – Kari Andren | Published: 3/8/2016

Patrick Stapleton, a former chairperson of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, backed out of a National Alcohol Beverage Control Association meeting on the same day a reporter inquired about his appearance. Stapleton was implicated in a 2014 investigation for accepting gifts from vendors. He and was on the agenda of the meeting as a panelist instructing alcohol regulators about ethical behavior. Stapleton was fined more than $7,250 for accepting gifts ranging from golf outings and meals to Philadelphia Phillies tickets and wine and spirits donations for an annual event he and his then-wife operated. A report painted a picture of officials regularly taking advantage of liquor vendors looking for their piece of the Pennsylvania agency’s $2.1 billion in annual sales.

Jim SedorState and Federal Communications produces a weekly summary of national news, offering more than 60 articles per week focused on ethics, lobbying, and campaign finance.

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March 10, 2016 •

Thursday News Roundup

Lobbying New York: “As Lobbying Money Rises, deBlasio’s Agency Disclosure Pledge Goes Unfufilled” by Laura Nahmias for Capital New York Campaign Finance Arizona: “‘Dark Money’ Rules Eased in AZ Senate Campaign Finance Bill” by Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services) for […]

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New York: “As Lobbying Money Rises, deBlasio’s Agency Disclosure Pledge Goes Unfufilled” by Laura Nahmias for Capital New York

Campaign Finance

Arizona: “‘Dark Money’ Rules Eased in AZ Senate Campaign Finance Bill” by Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services) for Arizona Daily Star

Montana: “Montana Campaign Contribution Limit Challenge Coming to a Head” by Matt Volz (Associated Press for The Missoulian

Oregon: “Lawmakers Leave Salem without Taking up Campaign Finance Reform” by Taylor Anderson for Bend Bulletin

Ethics

Colorado: “Audit: Colorado’s ethics commission rarely helps those filing complaints” by Joey Bunch for Denver Post

Florida: “Facing Ethics Probe, Judge Lakin Decides to Retire” by Dale White for Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Minnesota: “House Speaker Daudt Sued by Debt Collectors, Was Tardy on Taxes” by Brian Bakst for MPR News

Pennsylvania: “Former LCB Chairman Who Took Gifts Drops Out of Ethics Panel” by Kari Andren for Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Elections

 

Donald Trump, the Winning Wild Card” by Thomas Edsall for New York Times

Democrats Increase Their State House Majority in Special Elections” by Jack Brammerf and John Cheves for Lexington Herald-Leader

 

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March 9, 2016 •

Wednesday Government Relations News

Lobbying New Mexico: “Transparency Legislation Isn’t Quite as Transparent as Billed” by Sandra Fish for New Mexico In Depth New York: “PR Firms File Suit over ‘Hopelessly Vague’ JCOPE Lobbying Definition” by Bill Mahoney for Capital New York Campaign Finance […]

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New Mexico: “Transparency Legislation Isn’t Quite as Transparent as Billed” by Sandra Fish for New Mexico In Depth

New York: “PR Firms File Suit over ‘Hopelessly Vague’ JCOPE Lobbying Definition” by Bill Mahoney for Capital New York

Campaign Finance

The FEC Just Made It Easier for Super PAC Donors to Hide Their Identities” by Matea Gold for Washington Post

Ben Carson’s Small-Dollar Donors Could Keep Yielding Big Money” by Carrie Levine for Center for Public Integrity

Connecticut: “A Legislative Mystery: Who changed a watchdog’s bill?” by Mark Pazniokas for CT Mirror

Mississippi: “No State Officials Enforce Campaign Finance Laws” by Mollie Bryant, Geoff Pender, and Katie Royals for Jackson Clarion-Ledger

Ethics

California: “Golfing, Tequila and Spa Treatments: These are the gifts given to California lawmakers in 2015” by Patrick McGreevy and Liam Dillon for Los Angeles Times

Wisconsin: “Politics Apparent in Appointments to New Ethics, Elections Panels” by Patrick Marley for Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Elections

Michael Bloomberg Says He Won’t Run for President” by Maggie Haberman and Alexander Burns for New York Times

Ted Cruz Keeps Up Pressure on Donald Trump; Bernie Sanders Takes 2 on ‘Super Saturday’” by Jonathan Martin for New York Times

North Carolina: “Trump Cracks Down on Protesters” by Ben Schreckinger for Politico

Legislative Issues

Indianapolis: “State to Locals: You can’t do that. Or that.” by Brian Eason for Indianapolis Star

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March 9, 2016 •

Advisory Opinion Challenged in New York

An advisory opinion by the Joint Commission on Public Ethics has been challenged in federal court. Five public relations firms have brought a suit seeking to block the enforcement of Advisory Opinion 16-01, as they argue the legality of the […]

JCOPEAn advisory opinion by the Joint Commission on Public Ethics has been challenged in federal court. Five public relations firms have brought a suit seeking to block the enforcement of Advisory Opinion 16-01, as they argue the legality of the opinion’s definition of what constitutes lobbying.

Under the opinion, the firms claim private conversations with editors and reporters would be required to be disclosed, an act they say would have a chilling effect on the way they do business. Additionally, the firms argue the opinion’s definition of lobbying to be unconstitutionally vague, claiming it fails to give citizens reasonable notice of what is and is not considered lobbying activity.

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March 8, 2016 •

Missouri Bill to Require Elected Officials to Dissolve Campaign Committees Upon Lobbyist Registration

The Missouri Senate recently passed a bill to restrict certain political contributions from registered lobbyists. The bill limits the ways campaign committee funds can be invested and prohibits elected officials from keeping their campaign money if they become lobbyists. If […]

Missouri CapitolThe Missouri Senate recently passed a bill to restrict certain political contributions from registered lobbyists. The bill limits the ways campaign committee funds can be invested and prohibits elected officials from keeping their campaign money if they become lobbyists.

If the bill becomes law, elected officials would need to dissolve their respective campaign committees upon registering as lobbyists.

The Senate amended the version previously passed by the House, so the bill must head back to the House for final approval.

Photo of the Missouri Capitol courtesy of RebelAt on Wikimedia Commons.

 

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March 7, 2016 •

Monday News Roundup

Lobbying California: “Santa Monica Rewrites Lobbying Rules” by Gary Walker for Argonaut Online New Jersey: “Pensions, Other Big Issues Spurred $70M in Spending to Sway N.J. Leaders” by Samantha Marcus and Susan Livio (NJ Advance Media) for Newark Star-Ledger Campaign Finance Arkansas “Former […]

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California: “Santa Monica Rewrites Lobbying Rules” by Gary Walker for Argonaut Online

New Jersey: “Pensions, Other Big Issues Spurred $70M in Spending to Sway N.J. Leaders” by Samantha Marcus and Susan Livio (NJ Advance Media) for Newark Star-Ledger

Campaign Finance

Arkansas “Former State Legislator Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison for Fraud” by John Lyon for Arkansas News

Massachusetts: “Mass. Campaign Finance Regulators’ Office Gets Hip to Memes” by Steve Annear for Boston Globe

Virginia: “State Lawmakers Can’t Raise Campaign Money While in Session, but There’s a Loophole” by Patrick Wilson for The Virginian-Pilot

Ethics

California: “L.A. County D.A.’s Corruption Case against Three Irwindale Officials Is Dismissed” by Marisa Gerber for Los Angeles Times

Connecticut: “Connecticut Election, Information and Ethics Watchdog Agencies Fear Results of Deep Cuts” by Mary O’Leary for New Haven Register

Kentucky: “Legislation Allowing the Executive Branch Ethics Commission to Set Lobbying Registration Fees by Regulation Heads to House Floor” by Kevin Wheatley for cn/2

Procurement

Lobbyists Plan for Battle over Contractor Fair Pay Rule” by Ben Penn for Bloomberg BNA

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March 4, 2016 •

News You Can Use Digest – March 4, 2016

National: Meet the ‘Nones,’ the Democratic Party’s Biggest Faith Constituency Washington Post – Michelle Boorstein | Published: 2/29/2016 A large group of Americans reject any label or affiliation to describe their faith. At 23 percent of the population, this left-leaning group […]

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National:

Meet the ‘Nones,’ the Democratic Party’s Biggest Faith Constituency
Washington Post – Michelle Boorstein | Published: 2/29/2016

A large group of Americans reject any label or affiliation to describe their faith. At 23 percent of the population, this left-leaning group called “Nones” are the Democratic parallel to the Republican Party’s white evangelicals – except without organization, PACs, and a clear agenda. They do, however, have one big expectation of political candidates: be ethical, and go light on the God talk. A group that skews under 40, is white, and non-immigrant, the Nones want politicians to tone it down because they are fed up with religious institutions they see as corrupt and discriminatory. In the process, they are rewriting the country’s political discourse on morality.

Federal:

As Presidential Campaign Unfolds, So Do Inquiries into Clinton’s Emails
New York Times – Steven Lee Myers and Matt Apuzzo | Published: 3/2/2016

Hillary Clinton faces legal hurdles from her use of a private computer server as secretary of state. Foremost among a half-dozen inquiries and legal proceedings into whether classified information was sent through Clinton’s server is an investigation by the FBI, whose agents could seek to question Clinton’s closest aides and possibly the candidate herself within weeks. A federal law enforcement official said barring any unforeseen changes, the investigation could conclude by early May. Then the Justice Department will decide whether to file criminal charges and, if so, against whom. Federal law makes it a crime to mishandle classified information outside secure government channels when someone does so “knowingly” or, more seriously, permits it through “gross negligence.” Clinton has correctly pointed out that none of the emails on her server were marked as classified at the time.

Inside the Clinton Team’s Plan to Defeat Donald Trump
New York Times – Amy Chozick and Patrick Healy | Published: 2/29/2016

Hillary Clinton and her allies are shifting their attention to a likely general-election contest against Donald Trump that they expect to be strongly negative. Clinton is still waging a nomination battle against Bernie Sanders, but increasingly sure that Trump will win the Republican nomination, she appears to be running a two-pronged campaign. Several Democrats argued Clinton would easily beat Trump. They were confident his incendiary remarks would make him unacceptable to many Americans. But others, including former President Bill Clinton, dismissed those conclusions as denial. They said Trump clearly had a keen sense of the electorate’s mood and only a concerted campaign portraying him as dangerous and bigoted would win what both Clintons believe will be a close November election.

Jeb Bush’s Ambitions Paid Dividends for GOP Admaker Over the Years
Washington Post – Matea Gold | Published: 2/28/2016

Since 1998, when Mike Murphy helped Jeb Bush remake his image and win the Florida governor’s office, the strategist’s firms have received nearly $36 million from Bush’s campaigns, allied political committees, and educational foundation. While the vast majority of the money went to purchase advertising, Murphy got a significant cut as the media consultant. In this year’s presidential contest, Murphy helmed the big-money super PAC that Bush and his allies believed would give him a key edge in the race. By the time Bush dropped out, Right to Rise USA had raced through more than $101 million, to little effect. Murphy’s work for Bush over the years underscores how a long-term relationship with a politician can pay dividends for a political consultant, even in defeat. Right to Rise’s approach will be studied as a test of the kind of fiscal accountability that donors demanded after the 2012 election.

Lobbyists Could Make a Comeback after Obama
The Hill – Megan Wilson | Published: 3/2/2016

None of the candidates running for the White House has vowed to keep President Obama’s restrictions on lobbyists in place, and Democrats have already abandoned his ban on lobbyist contributions to the party committee and nominating convention. Obama came into office vowing to “change how Washington works” by curbing the influence of lobbyists and special interest groups. The measures have been widely panned by K Street over the past seven years. Lobbyists say the attempt to curb Washington’s “revolving door” has succeeded only in keeping qualified people out of important jobs and impeding the flow of information to the administration. Critics say Obama’s policies drove more of the influence industry underground.

Seeing Chris Christie with Donald Trump, New Jersey and Internet Cringe
New York Times – Michael Barbaro | Published: 3/2/2016

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s seemingly shell-shocked gaze as he stood behind Donald Trump on Super Tuesday is generating befuddlement and mockery in his home state and beyond. Conservatives and liberals alike have piled on. His introductory remarks were so subdued and his appearance was so grave that the joke making the rounds on the Internet was that he was a hostage reading a coerced statement. “Gov. Christie, blink twice if you’re in trouble!” one person tweeted. Some newspaper editorials in New Jersey said he is not even fit to be governor any more. They called him a political opportunist who has neglected his duties in the Garden State, and urged him to resign.

From the States and Municipalities:

California – Budding Marijuana Lobby Gains Influence at California Capitol
Sacramento Bee – Taryn Luna | Published: 2/25/2016

When Amy Jenkins signed on to represent the California Cannabis Industry Association, veteran lobbyists told her the move could ruin her career. Bit in Sacramento, cannabis now is a welcome topic in many legislative offices and given rise to a budding micro-economy: marijuana lobbying. More than two dozen groups from the Recreational Boaters of California to the Wine Institute in San Francisco employed lobbyists to influence marijuana issues in the state last year. As the public becomes more accepting of pot, the industry is drawing well-funded business interests that want a piece of California’s billion-dollar market.

California – Female Lobbying Firm Thrives in Male-Dominated Capitol
Bakersfield Californian – Laurel Rosenhall (CALmatters.org) | Published: 2/27/2016

Women have become more prominent in Sacramento’s political scene than they were a generation ago, but they remain in the minority. Just 26 percent of California’s 120 legislators are female, two of the eight state officers elected statewide are women, and women are more likely to be employees than partners at Sacramento’s biggest lobbying firms. Roughly 300 firms are registered to lobby in California. Among the top 20 that brought in the most money last year, Political Solutions is the only one owned entirely by women. Its rare position shows both how far women have come in being able to succeed in the business of politics, and how much they remain outsiders in an old-school industry.

Colorado – Colorado Lobbying Law Offers Murky Picture of Influence on Politics
Denver Post – Joey Bunch | Published: 2/28/2016

The Center for Public Integrity last year deemed Colorado “largely sleaze-free” but criticized the state for its lack of transparency on lobbyists. Attempts to strengthen disclosure at the Legislature have not been effective, and state officials say there is not enough money to make improvements. Meanwhile, the lobbying firms that rank at the top of the income scale are viewed by insiders as those most diligent in reporting because loopholes and a lack of oversight allow for many firms to allow untold amounts of income paid to them to go unreported to the public.

Louisiana – What Budget Crisis? Louisiana Lawmakers Raising Campaign Cash
New Orleans Times-Picayune – Julia O’Donoghue | Published: 3/2/2016

Unlike regular legislative sessions when political fundraisers are forbidden, legislators in Louisiana are free during special sessions to pull in campaign money from fundraising events on the same days they vote on tax increases, budget cuts, and other bills. And 42 of the 144 members of the Legislature have taken advantage of the exception to hold or schedule political fundraisers in Baton Rouge during the 25-day special session that must end March 9. Two more lawmakers are having political fundraisers in Baton Rouge the day after the special session ends. Legislators do not have to report their political contributions from this period until the beginning of 2017, when their 2016 campaign finance reports are due.

Massachusetts – Bill Would Have Lobbyists Disclose Clients
The Sentinel & Enterprise – Michael Norton (State House News Service) | Published: 3/1/2016

State Sen. Sen. Michael Brady introduced a bill calling for municipal lobbyists to begin disclosing their clients and compensation with clerks at city and town halls throughout Massachusetts. Brady said his legislation, which was referred to the State Administration Committee, is modeled after the state lobbying law and establishes new categories governing municipal agents and municipal lobbying. It would require agents receiving more than $2,500 per year to disclose the nature of matters they are lobbying on, officials they have lobbied, the interests paying the agent, and campaign contributions made to local officials. Municipal lobbyists would be required to register annually and pay a fee of $100 under the bill.

Massachusetts – Marty Walsh’s Friends with Benefits
Boston Globe – Mark Arsenault and Andrew Ryan | Published: 2/28/2016

Michael Goldman has set up media interviews for Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, consulted with city officials about the release of public records, orchestrated the rollout of a major municipal labor contract, and written speeches for the mayor – all for free. O’Neil, a political strategist with so much affection for Walsh he said he would “die for the guy,” said he offers his skills and experience to the mayor as a “friend.” At the same time, Goldman’s consulting firm, the O’Neil/Goldman Group, firm lobbies City Hall on behalf of corporate clients who need things from the administration like permits and administration support on development projects worth millions of dollars.

Mississippi – Lobbyists: Campaign finance system ‘disgusting’
Jackson Clarion-Ledger – Geoff Pender, Kate Royals, and Mollie Bryant | Published: 2/28/2016

For roughly the last decade, outside interests such as political parties, lobbyists, corporations, and policy advocates have pumped money into Mississippi legislative races. Typically, lawmakers go to lobbyists, who line up corporate donors for their campaigns, or corporate donors go to lobbyists who direct them to the candidates they should donate to based on their issues or desired legislation. Eight top state lobbyists did give varying opinions on legislators and campaign money. Some said they and their clients are being pressured to cough up more money for more legislative races and find politicians’ personal spending of the money distasteful. Others said they see no problems. All said they do not believe there is any direct “pay-to-play” setup between making donations and getting legislation passed.

New Mexico – Governor OKs Upgrades to State’s Campaign Finance Reporting System
New MexicoPolitics.net – Heath Haussamen | Published: 2/29/2016

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez signed legislation designed to standardize electronic reporting so that filings by candidates, lobbyists, and political committees can be searched, cross-referenced, or downloaded for analysis. The law also will require lobbyists to file regular reports, as candidates already do. Registration fees from lobbyists would be reinvested in maintaining the database.

Wisconsin – With Fewer Members, a Diminished Political Role for Wisconsin Unions
New York Times – Monica Davey | Published: 2/27/2016

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker led a push five years ago to cut collective bargaining rights for most public sector workers, saying he needed to solve a state budget gap. Since then, union membership has dropped precipitously. Long a labor stronghold, the state has lost tens of thousands of union members, leaving Wisconsin with a smaller percentage of union members than the national average. The shift has shaken the order of election-year politics. Democrats, who most often have been the beneficiaries of money and ground-level help from the unions, said they were uncertain about what the coming elections would look like, and what forces could take the place of depleted labor groups.

Jim SedorState and Federal Communications produces a weekly summary of national news, offering more than 60 articles per week focused on ethics, lobbying, and campaign finance.

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March 3, 2016 •

Transparency Bill Passes Oregon Legislature

House Bill 4134, a bill tightening timelines for reporting for lobbyist’s clients and lobbyist registration, has passed both the Oregon House and Senate, and will head to Gov. Brown’s desk for approval. The bill requires lobbyists to register within three […]

Seal of OregonHouse Bill 4134, a bill tightening timelines for reporting for lobbyist’s clients and lobbyist registration, has passed both the Oregon House and Senate, and will head to Gov. Brown’s desk for approval. The bill requires lobbyists to register within three business days after meeting the threshold instead of the current 10 day time period.

The bill also requires a client or employer of a lobbyist to sign an authorization for the lobbyist within 10 calendar days after the lobbyist files a registration statement.

The bill will become immediately effective if approved by Gov. Brown.

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March 3, 2016 •

Thursday News Roundup

Lobbying “Lobbyists Could Make a Comeback after Obama” by Megan Wilson for The Hill Michigan: “Michigan Lobbyist Spending Hits Record High in 2015 with Loopholes Galore” by Josh Hakala for Michigan Public Radio Campaign Finance Colorado: “Court: Colorado GOP’s creation […]

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Lobbyists Could Make a Comeback after Obama” by Megan Wilson for The Hill

Michigan: “Michigan Lobbyist Spending Hits Record High in 2015 with Loopholes Galore” by Josh Hakala for Michigan Public Radio

Campaign Finance

Colorado: “Court: Colorado GOP’s creation of super PAC was legal” by James Anderson (Associated Press) for The Coloradoan

Pennsylvania: “Pennsylvania Lawmaker Charged in Illegal Gambling Probe” by Marc Levy (Associated Press) for Minneapolis Star Tribune

Ethics

Meet the ‘Nones,’ the Democratic Party’s Biggest Faith Constituency” by Michelle Boorstein for Washington Post

Arizona: “Ex-Phoenix VA Hospital Exec Failed to Disclose Yearly Gifts” by   for Arizona Daily Star; Associated Press

California: “Ethics Reforms Proposed for San Diego Council” by David Garrick for San Diego Union-Tribune

New Mexico: “Former Sen. Phil Griego Charged with Nine Crimes” by Deborah Baker for Albuquerque Journal

Elections

Chris Christie Goes Viral” by Michael Catalini (Associated Press) for U.S. News & World Report

Ben Carson Tells Supporters He Sees No ‘Path Forward’ for Presidential Campaign” by Robert Costa and Ben Terris for Washington Post

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March 2, 2016 •

Wednesday Government Relations News

Lobbying Massachusetts: “Bill Would Have Lobbyists Disclose Clients” by Michael Norton (State House News Service) for The Sentinel & Enterprise Campaign Finance “Jeb Bush’s Ambitions Paid Dividends for GOP Admaker Over the Years” by Matea Gold for Washington Post California: “California’s […]

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Massachusetts: “Bill Would Have Lobbyists Disclose Clients” by Michael Norton (State House News Service) for The Sentinel & Enterprise

Campaign Finance

Jeb Bush’s Ambitions Paid Dividends for GOP Admaker Over the Years” by Matea Gold for Washington Post

California: “California’s Ethics Watchdog Opposes Donor Stickers for Politicians” by Alexei Koseff for Sacramento Bee

New Jersey: “Another Birdsall Exec Pleads Guilty, Faces Jail” by Kathleen Hopkins for Asbury Park Press

Ethics

Pennsylvania: “Menendez’s Lawyers Argue That Public Corruption Case against Senator Should Be Thrown Out” by Matt Zapotosky for Washington Post

District of Columbia: “Ethics Group Urges Inquiry of Mortgage Banking Lobbyist Who Led F.H.A.” by Gretchen Morgenson for New York Times

New Mexico: “Governor OKs Upgrades to State’s Campaign Finance Reporting System” by Heath Haussamen for New MexicoPolitics.net

Oklahoma: “Credit Card Purchases, Gifts Questioned by Oklahoma’s State Audit” by Randy Ellis for The Oklahoman

Elections

How America’s Dying White Supremacist Movement Is Seizing on Donald Trump’s Appeal” by Jonathan Mahler for Washington Post

Inside the Clinton Team’s Plan to Defeat Donald Trump” by Amy Chozick and Patrick Healy for New York Times

“Donald Trump Overwhelms G.O.P. Rivals from Alabama to Massachusetts” by Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin for New York Times

“Minority Voters Push Hillary Clinton to Victories” by Patrick Healy and Amy Chozick for New York Times

Legislative Issues

Wyoming: “‘Leg’-Mart’ Growing on Wyoming Lawmakers, Public” by Laura Hancock for Casper Star-Tribune

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March 1, 2016 •

Ask the Experts – Should we register if we have a federal lobbyist?

Q. For a number of years, our association has hired outside lobbying firms to lobby on our behalf. I was under the impression that because they registered and reported their lobbying activities for us, we didn’t need to register. Based […]

Rebecca South profileQ. For a number of years, our association has hired outside lobbying firms to lobby on our behalf. I was under the impression that because they registered and reported their lobbying activities for us, we didn’t need to register. Based on a recent conversation, I understand this may not be the case and we may need to register the association itself as a federal registrant. Can you tell me the guidelines in this regard?

A. Thanks for your question. This is a consideration that can often be overlooked when determining the need to register at the federal level. There is no specific exception outlined in the registration requirements that would negate an organization from having to register if it hires outside consultants that registers and reports their activity on behalf of their client. Essentially, if your organization meets the three registration thresholds, you need to register without regard for whether your outside consultants are also registered. The three criteria are:

  1. An organization must have at least one employee who spends 20 percent or more of his or her time engaged in lobbying activities. This includes time working and coordinating with your consultant about your lobbying initiatives and also includes background work done in association with a lobbying effort;
  2. That same employee must have two or more lobbying contacts. There is no time frame in which the two contacts have to occur. The two contacts could be a year apart from each other but once the second contact has been made, this threshold has been satisfied; and
  3. An organization must spend $12,500 or more on lobbying activity during a three month period. Expenditures include payments made to outside consultants and membership organizations that are allocated toward lobbying efforts. In addition, compensation, expenses, and overhead associated with any and all lobbying activity that is occurring within the organization must be calculated for purposes of determining if this threshold has been met.

If your association meets these three requirements, you need to register and begin reporting your internal activities on a quarterly basis. Your outside consultants will also continue to report the activity in which they engage on your behalf.

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You can directly submit questions for this feature, and we will select those most appropriate and answer them here. Send your questions to: experts@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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March 1, 2016 •

MA Bill to Create Lobbying Laws for Municipalities

Massachusetts state Sen. Michael Brady has introduced legislation proposing state municipalities require lobbyist registration and reporting. If passed, municipalities would be allowed to opt into the law’s requirements after approval by vote of the local governing body. According to Brady, […]

MassachusettsMassachusetts state Sen. Michael Brady has introduced legislation proposing state municipalities require lobbyist registration and reporting. If passed, municipalities would be allowed to opt into the law’s requirements after approval by vote of the local governing body. According to Brady, as reported in the Patriot Ledger, the legislation is modeled after the state lobbying law and creates new categories for governing municipal agents and municipal lobbying. Registration, costing $100 a year, would be required for compensation for lobbying of over $2,500 per year. Municipal clerks would administer registration and reporting requirements, with enforcement handled by the Office of the Secretary of State.

Meanwhile, on February 29, House Speaker Robert DeLeo announced a plan to create a task force to review the state’s ethics laws, according the Sentinel & Enterprise. DeLeo would like any task force recommendations to be considered during this year’s legislative session.

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