August 10, 2010 •
Members of the public may now visit the Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) Web site and read the actual scanned copies of financial activity reports filed by lobbyists in 2010.
The reports can be found at: www.elec.state.nj.us. They include detailed information reported to ELEC by lobbyists and the represented entities employing them. Among the details to be found in the reports are the names, contact information, salaries, and expenses for all lobbyists registered with ELEC.
In previous years, ELEC has provided summarized information contained in the annual lobbying reports. They were not available online until now.
In addition to the reports filed by represented entities such as corporations, unions, and trade associations, the annual reports filed by grassroots lobbying groups are also available. The reports detail the funds raised by grassroots groups through contributions, membership dues, and expenses associated with the group’s communication efforts.
ELEC’s reports show total lobbyist spending reached $57.6 million in 2009 with 1,001 lobbyists registered with the commission.
Map from the National Atlas of the United States.
August 9, 2010 •
Illinois Secretary of State’s office announces due date for the first lobbyist expenditure report of 2010.
The Illinois Secretary of State Index Department has announced expenditure reporting requirements for the first half of 2010. Reporting for expenditures made on behalf of officials for the period of January 1 through June 30, 2010 opens on September 1, 2010.
Expenditures must be filed within 30 calendar days, or by September 30, 2010. The Index Department has announced they will publish an updated Expenditure Report Filing Guide available online on August 16, 2010. This guide is designed to assist filers with changes to the lobbyist laws.
Photo of Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White.
August 5, 2010 •
The House Financial Services Committee has approved the Shareholder Protection Act of 2010 by a vote of 35-28.
H.R. 4790 requires any corporation making political expenditures must first amend its bylaws to require majority shareholder approval of any political expenditure in excess of $50,000. Corporations would also have to annually report all political spending over $10,000 to their shareholders.
The legislation authorizes the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to require disclosure of all political expenditures made by a corporation as well as the individual votes of company board members who authorized the expenditures. Further, the measure requires the SEC to publish the disclosures on its public website. The measure now moves to the full House for consideration though the vote may not occur until after Congress returns from its August recess.
August 5, 2010 •
The Madeleine Albright Collection is on exhibit until October 17.
The Smithsonian Institution Web site has a captivating page called “Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection.” On exhibit at the Smithsonian is the splendid pin collection of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Apparently, Albright chose the pins she would wear for official events according to the message she wished to convey!
According to the Web site:
“During her service as ambassador to the United Nations, and then as U.S. Secretary of State, Albright came to understand how powerful a symbol an item of jewelry could be, and chose pins to reflect her diplomatic mission, reinforce her negotiating position or express her pride of country and office.”
On the site you can see over one hundred years of art in a beautiful slide show of Albright’s pins. Some of the pins were of humble beginnings, some very expensive, but all of them are beautiful.
You will find many more temporary and permanent exhibitions at the Smithsonian as well.
Enjoy a video of the former secretary of state:
Better yet, you may wish to go and visit the Smithsonian and see the collections for yourself! But you better hurry, the Albright exhibit closes on October 17.
Many thanks to Nancy Messmore for pointing me in the direction of this exhibit!
Video from Smithsonian Videos on Youtube.
August 4, 2010 •
The use of political ads on Web sites and in social media continues to test the practice of political campaigning.
California’s Fair Political Practices Commission just released a report by the Subcommittee on Internet Political Activity saying political ads used on Web sites and social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter should be regulated the same way ads are on any other medium.
Here are two articles for further reading :
“Social media wrap: California watchdog recommends Internet political campaign regulations,” by Craig Howie in the Los Angeles Times on August 2, 2010.
“State panel calls for online political ad rules,” by Marisa Lagos in the San Francisco Chronicle on August 3, 2010.
August 4, 2010 •
A liberal and a conservative group join forces to fight a new Wisconsin law regulating political issue ads.
Wisconsin Club for Growth and One Wisconsin Now filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board. The groups say the new law infringes upon their right to free speech. The rule they oppose requires any group putting out a political issue ad to disclose the source of their money and how they spent it – whether or not the words in the ad direct a person to vote for or against a candidate.
The groups also raise the concern that the new law would bring greater internet regulation.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel offers this article on the challenge:
“Political opposites protest ad rules,” by Jason Stein, August 1, 2010.
Photograph taken by Dori
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.
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.