August 3, 2010 •
Illinois residents can now find out who is trying to influence county government with the click of a mouse.
County Clerk David Orr and Commissioner Bridget Gainer announced “Lobbyist Online,” a searchable database of lobbyists and lobbying activity in Cook County. This Web site allows users to find out who is lobbying county government, what they are promoting, who they are trying to influence, and how much money they make. This site comes on the heels of a newly implemented electronic lobbyist registration and reporting system.
Orr’s office reported lobbyists made 576 contacts seeking to influence nearly 60 county officials during the first half of 2010.
Here is the Cook County Clerk Web site with a link to the Lobbyist Online database.
August 3, 2010 •
Connecticut governor vetoed campaign finance bill.
Governor M. Jodi Rell vetoed Senate Bill 551, a bill passed in response to the recent U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Green Party of Connecticut v. Garfield regarding the state’s Citizens’ Election Program, due to concerns over the state budget. Governor Rell had previously indicated to legislators her intent to veto any bill which increased grants to candidates participating in the program, but legislators chose to increase from $3,000,000 to $6,000,000 the grant to candidates participating in the general election for governor.
Rell criticized the decision, stating legislators “have taken a program that was intended to remove the taint of special interests and corruption from political campaigns and turned it into a welfare program for politicians.” Legislators are now considering a veto override to save the bill.
For more of the story, here is an article in the Boston Globe:
“Conn. governor vetoes bill to fix campaign law,” by Susan Haigh.
August 3, 2010 •
The Moderate Party, which only gained official party status in Rhode Island a year ago, has sued the state in federal court claiming the current public campaign financing system is unfair to third parties.
Rhode Island General Treasurer Frank Caprio, who is running as a candidate for governor this fall, plans to argue the current system is equitable and has not placed the Moderate Party in a weaker financial position than the Republicans or Democrats.
U.S. District Judge William Smith will hear arguments in the suit this coming Thursday.
For further reading, here is an article by the Associated Press in the Boston Globe: “Caprio: RI campaign finance system is fair”
You will find many resources at the State of Rhode Island Board of Elections Campaign Finance Web site.
August 2, 2010 •
Three articles from the upcoming issue of News You Can Use.
“ME: Maine watching Arizona elections case,” by Kevin Miller from the Bangor Daily News.
Former Florida House Speaker Ray Sansom gets no plea deal because he refuses to participate in a sheriff’s work program:
“Ray Sansom Plea Deal Scrapped When Defendants Balk at Jail Gang Duty,” by Lee Logan and Steve Bousquet from the St. Petersburg Times
From Pennsylvania, Bonusgate staffer Stephen Keefer files a lawsuit in federal court:
“Acquitted Bonusgate Staffer Files Lawsuit,” by Brad Bumsted and Brian Bowling from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
August 2, 2010 •
On July 30, 2010, during a special session, the Connecticut General Assembly passed Senate Bill 551.
SB 551 is a response to the recent U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Green Party of Connecticut v. Garfield regarding the state’s Citizens’ Election Program. If signed by Governor M. Jodi Rell, the bill would limit contributions from communicator lobbyists, members of the lobbyist’s immediate family, and political committees established or controlled by the lobbyist or lobbyist’s immediate family to $100, while also banning the bundling of contributions by the same individuals.
Further, the bill expands the list of items not considered to be a contribution, while also prohibiting the knowing solicitation of contributions by state contractors, prospective state contractors, principals of state contractors, and principals of prospective state contractors from the contractor’s employees or a subcontractor or principals of a subcontractor on behalf of exploratory or candidate committees, political committees authorized to make contributions or expenditures to or for the benefit of specified candidates, or a party committee.
Additionally, grants to participating candidates would increase to $6,000,000 for the general election campaign. However, Governor Rell has previously indicated her intent to veto any bill increasing grants to participating candidates, citing state budget concerns.
Photo by jimbowen0306 in Wikipedia.
July 30, 2010 •
The Architect of the Capitol – Serve. Preserve. Sustain.
Have you ever wondered how the U.S. Capitol building always looks so good? The Architect of the Capitol is the agency that serves as the steward for the U.S. Capitol, the Capitol Visitor Center, Senate Office Buildings, House Office Buildings, Supreme Court, Library of Congress, U.S. Botanic Garden, and Capitol Campus grounds. Stephen T. Ayers is the current Architect of the Capitol, and there are 2,600 employees serving the agency. There have been only eleven Architects of the Capitol since 1793!
The Architect of the Capitol Web site has a treasure of information about many architectural features of the Capitol and the works of art in the Capitol Complex. The site says: “Since the laying of the Capitol cornerstone by George Washington in 1793, the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) has served the United States as builder and steward of many of the nation’s most iconic and indelible landmark buildings.”
Whether you are a visitor, someone who has lived in Washington D.C. for years, or just an interested reader, there are great videos, photo galleries, and rich histories about the buildings of our nation’s capital for your enjoyment.
The AOC says its job is to: “…Support the needs of nearly 30,000 occupants and millions of tourists who visit the campus annually; ensure the buildings and grounds meet modern standards for sustainability and accessibility; and preserve the historical legacy of the landmarks entrusted to the AOC’s care.”
Enjoy wandering through this great site, but be careful – you may find that when it is over, hours have just disappeared!
July 29, 2010 •
H.R. 5751, the Lobbying Disclosure Enhancement Act, passed the U.S. House of Representatives on July 28, 2010 by a voice vote.
The measure creates the Lobbying Disclosure Act Enforcement Task Force inside the Department of Justice. The new task force will be charged with enforcing the disclosure provisions of the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995.
Further, the bill amends existing federal lobbying law by making public the names of registered lobbyists and firms who violate disclosure regulations. The bill now heads to the Senate.
Update 8-2-2010: Here is an article from The Hill giving K Street’s reaction to the Lobbying Disclosure Enhancement Act: “K Street feels it’s being unfairly targeted by bill disclosing lobbying violators“
July 29, 2010 •
Governor Pat Quinn signed Senate Bill 1526 into law into law late Wednesday.
This bill changes several provisions of the lobbying laws. The registration fee is lowered to $300 in response to the previous fee of $1,000 having been enjoined. Under this new law, lobbyists must notify officials in writing of reportable expenditures at the time the expenditures are made.
Effective January 1, 2011, lobbyist reports are due on a semi-monthly basis. For 2010, a report covering the second half of the year is due January 15, 2011; the Secretary of State will issue instructions for reporting lobbyist expenditures incurred during the first half of the year.
July 29, 2010 •
Four Wyoming lawmakers are challenging the provisions of the state election code prohibiting political contributions by corporations.
The legal petition filed by the lawmakers asks a state district court to review Wyoming’s election law in light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. At present, Wyoming law prohibits corporations from making campaign contributions, a position which puts it at odds with the Supreme Court’s ruling.
While Wyoming’s election law hasn’t yet been challenged on grounds raised by Citizens United, it is seen by some lawmakers in Cheyenne as only a matter of time before a lawsuit emerges. The lawmakers hope their petition will preempt any such litigation against the state.
Here are some useful Wyoming links:
Wyoming State Legislature Web site
July 29, 2010 •
Akron City Council has approved legislation amending the city’s campaign finance law.
Under the new legislation, the city’s contribution limits of $300 for mayoral and at-large council candidates and $100 for ward council candidates do not apply when candidates are raising money outside of their own elections or reelections and other expenses such as “the duties of public office and seeking nomination or election to another office”.
The new legislation also lifts contribution limits for fundraising efforts by candidates for other candidates or for a political party.
July 28, 2010 •
On a vote of 57-41, the Senate Democrats failed to gather the 60 votes needed to overcome an expected filibuster of S. 3628, Congress’ legislative response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.
For the time being, the Supreme Court’s ruling stands. Another vote is thought possible in September after Congress returns from the August recess.
Here are three articles for further reading:
“Senate Dems lack votes to overcome Republican filibuster of Disclose Act,” by Alexander Bolton in The Hill.
“Dems table campaign finance reform,” by Meredith Shiner in Politico.
“Bill on political ad disclosures falls a little short in Senate,” by Dan Eggen in the Washington Post.
July 27, 2010 •
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has issued two advisory opinions approving the creation of two independent campaign committees which plan to solicit and accept unlimited contributions from individuals, political committees, corporations, labor organizations, and the general public.
The committees plan to use funds to make independent expenditures. Citing the recent Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission as well as a less-well known decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued this year called SpeechNow.org v. FEC, the FEC concluded corporations, labor organizations, and political committees may make unlimited independent expenditures from their own funds, and individuals may pool unlimited funds in an independent expenditure-only political committee.
In the case of the independent committee Commonsense Ten, a registered, non-connected political committee (Advisory Opinion 2010-11), the FEC concluded it could solicit and accept unlimited contributions from individuals, corporations, labor organizations, and political committees for the purpose of making independent expenditures.
In the case of Club for Growth, Inc., a 501(c)(4) corporation, (Advisory Opinion 2010-09),the FEC concluded on the same basis provided by Citizens United and SpeechNow.org it could establish and administer a committee to solicit and accept unlimited contributions from individuals in the general public, including contributions given for specific independent expenditures.
The FEC issued both advisory opinions on a vote of 5 to 1. Commissioner Steven T. Walther dissented in both opinions.
July 26, 2010 •
The National Conference of State Legislatures Summit 2010 is under way and we are there.
Elizabeth Bartz, Nola Werren, Tony Pasquale, and Ren Koozer from State and Federal Communications, Inc. are attending the National Conference of State Legislatures 2010 Legislative Summit in Louisville, Ky.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell opened the event at Monday morning’s general session.
Our own Client Specialist Nola Werren, Esq. will be moderating for the forum “Citizens United v. FEC: Political Blockbuster or Not?” on Tuesday, July 27, from 1 to 2 p.m. in Room CC108 – Level 1.
If you happen to be at the NCSL Summit, be sure to drop by and visit with us at booth #310! For those of you who would like to follow us on Twitter, use #SFC_NCSL as your hashtag!
July 23, 2010 •
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has filed cloture on the DISCLOSE Act, Congress’ response to the recent Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.
The measure will come to a vote on the floor of the Senate early next week. Reid’s move begins the endgame for the legislation even though he does not yet have the votes to overcome the anticipated filibuster from the bill’s opponents.
New York Senator Charles Schumer, who authored S. 3295, the Senate’s version of the DISCLOSE Act, has modified the bill to address concerns raised when H.R. 5175 was passed by the House earlier this summer. Democrats hope the changes will be enough to win the support of Maine GOP Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, both of whom expressed reservations regarding the House bill. For example, Senator Collins believes H.R. 5175 provides unions with special exemptions and a corresponding unfair political advantage over corporations.
It is unclear at this time whether or not changes to the Senate bill offered by Schumer will be enough to overcome Collins’ and Snowe’s objections. The Senate vote could come as early as Tuesday.
If you are looking for more coverage, the Hill has two articles by Susan Crabtree:
“Sen. Reid sets up showdown next week on campaign finance,” July23, 2010
State and Federal Communications, Inc. provides research and consulting services for government relations professionals on lobbying laws, procurement lobbying laws, political contribution laws in the United States and Canada. Learn more by visiting stateandfed.com.