September 17, 2018 •

California Legislature Sends “Social Media DISCLOSE Act” to Governor

On September 12, California Gov. Jerry Brown was presented with a bill concerning political advertising in social media. Assembly Bill 2188, the “Social Media DISCLOSE Act”, requires disclosure for advertisements made “via a form of electronic media that allows users […]

On September 12, California Gov. Jerry Brown was presented with a bill concerning political advertising in social media.

Assembly Bill 2188, the “Social Media DISCLOSE Act”, requires disclosure for advertisements made “via a form of electronic media that allows users to engage in discourse and post content, or any other type of social media”, and is paid for by a political party or a candidate-controlled committee. The disclosure obligations fall on both the registered political parties and committees and on the “online platforms.”

The online platform must maintain and make available for online public inspection a digital copy of a political advertisement, the number of impressions generated from the ad, information regarding the total amount spent on the advertisements, and other relevant information.

The bill defines an online platform as a “public-facing Internet Web site, web application, or digital application, including a social network, ad network, or search engine, that sells advertisements directly to advertisers. A public-facing Internet Web site, web application, or digital application is not an online platform for purposes of this [Act] to the extent that it displays advertisements that are sold directly to advertisers through another online platform.” The online platforms will be required to include with each political advertisement a disclosure of who funded the ad or a hyperlink to a website containing the required disclosures.

If signed by the governor, the bill takes effect on January 1, 2020.

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June 6, 2018 •

Washington Files Lawsuits Against Facebook and Google over Political Ads

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed lawsuits against Facebook and Google for failing to comply with political advertising laws. Under Washington law, commercial advertisers who provide political advertising during an election campaign must maintain documents and books of account that […]

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed lawsuits against Facebook and Google for failing to comply with political advertising laws.

Under Washington law, commercial advertisers who provide political advertising during an election campaign must maintain documents and books of account that is open for public inspection.

The attorney general contends Facebook and Google have not released political advertising information sponsored through their online platforms when requested by members of the public.

If found guilty, the companies could face a penalty of $10,000 per violation for failing to maintain required information on political advertising sponsored in Washington state elections from 2013 through 2018.

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October 20, 2017 •

Bills introduced in U.S. Congress to Increase Transparency for Online Political Advertising

On October 19, two bipartisan bills allowing increased monitoring of online political advertising were introduced in the U.S. Congress. Companion bills House Resolution 4077, The Honest Ads Act, and Senate Bill 1989 direct the Federal Election Commission to enact rules […]

On October 19, two bipartisan bills allowing increased monitoring of online political advertising were introduced in the U.S. Congress. Companion bills House Resolution 4077, The Honest Ads Act, and Senate Bill 1989 direct the Federal Election Commission to enact rules for online advertisements similar to currents rules for television and radio. Larger digital platforms would be required to make available to the public requests to run political advertisements costing more than $500.

The bills were introduced by U.S. Representatives Derek Kilmer and Mike Coffman and Senators Amy Klobuchar, Mark Warner, and John McCain in response to “revelations that a Russian company purchased upwards of 3,000 political advertisements on Facebook in an effort to influence the 2016 Presidential election,” according to a press release by Kilmer.

“Our bipartisan bill makes sure our laws are as up to date as the latest technology, and makes it harder for foreign actors to use the internet to attack our democracy,” Kilmer said in his press release.

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September 28, 2016 •

Court Decision Concerning FEC Rule Limiting Disclosure for Certain Ads Stands

On September 26, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit let stand a previous decision upholding a Federal Election Commission (FEC) rule concerning contributor disclosure for certain political advertisements. Specifically, the court denied a petition for […]

district_of_columbia_court_of_appeals_seal-svgOn September 26, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit let stand a previous decision upholding a Federal Election Commission (FEC) rule concerning contributor disclosure for certain political advertisements. Specifically, the court denied a petition for a rehearing en banc of a previous ruling.

In January, the appellate court had reversed a lower court ruling and rejected the challenge from Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) concerning the FEC rule about reporting of electioneering communications or advertisements picturing or naming candidates within 60 days of an election. In doing so, the federal appeals court upheld the FEC rule requiring public reporting only of donors who earmark contributions for the ads. Van Hollen and other campaign finance disclosure advocates argued the rule was too narrow and did not conform to a 2002 law prohibiting “soft money” in federal elections.

Fred Wertheimer, who backed Van Hollen’s lawsuit, said the ruling would not be appealed, according to Bloomberg BNA.

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August 31, 2016 •

Deadline Looms for Final Votes in the California Legislature

The California Legislature has been very active in the days leading up to the August 31 deadline for each house to pass bills. On August 30, Assembly Bill 700, a measure that would impose new disclosure requirements for political advertisements, […]

California_State_CapitolThe California Legislature has been very active in the days leading up to the August 31 deadline for each house to pass bills. On August 30, Assembly Bill 700, a measure that would impose new disclosure requirements for political advertisements, failed by a single vote in the Senate.

Senate Bill 1349 had better luck gaining passage yesterday and is headed for Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk. SB 1349 will require changes to Cal-Access, California’s outdated online campaign contribution and lobbying database.

Photo of the California State Capitol by Griffin5 on Wikimedia Commons.

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June 29, 2016 •

SCOTUS Declines to Hear Challenge to Delaware Elections Law

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to the Elections Disclosure Act. The lower court ruled requiring third-party groups and individuals to disclose their donors if they publish advertisements or other communications referring to a candidate in an […]

US Supreme CourtThe U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to the Elections Disclosure Act. The lower court ruled requiring third-party groups and individuals to disclose their donors if they publish advertisements or other communications referring to a candidate in an upcoming election is constitutional. The law furthers the purpose of the 2012 ethics overhaul by closing loopholes allowing anonymous campaign-related advertising.

Photo of the U.S. Supreme Court building by UpstateNYer on Wikimedia Commons.

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February 8, 2016 •

California Campaign Finance Bill Passes Assembly

The State Assembly has passed a campaign finance bill requiring many political advertisements to prominently display or announce the names of the ad sponsor’s top donors of $50,000 or more. Assembly Bill 700 requires the true source of funds to […]

California State Assembly chamberThe State Assembly has passed a campaign finance bill requiring many political advertisements to prominently display or announce the names of the ad sponsor’s top donors of $50,000 or more. Assembly Bill 700 requires the true source of funds to be disclosed, making efforts to hide contributions using middleman organizations or earmarked funds impermissible.

The bill is currently under consideration in the Senate.

Photo of the California State Assembly chamber by David Monniaux on Wikimedia Commons.

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January 21, 2016 •

D.C. Circuit Appeals Court Rules Against Van Hollen

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has reversed a lower court ruling and rejected the challenge from Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) concerning a Federal Election Commission (FEC) rule about reporting of electioneering communications or advertisements […]

District_of_Columbia_Court_of_Appeals_Seal.svgThe U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has reversed a lower court ruling and rejected the challenge from Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) concerning a Federal Election Commission (FEC) rule about reporting of electioneering communications or advertisements picturing or naming candidates within 60 days of an election. In doing so, the federal appeals court upheld the FEC rule requiring public reporting only of donors who earmark contributions for the ads.

Van Hollen and other campaign finance disclosure advocates argued the rule was too narrow and did not conform to a 2002 law prohibiting “soft money” in federal elections.

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September 11, 2015 •

California Bill Requires New Disclaimer Rules for Political Ads

The Legislature has passed a bill requiring new political advertising standards. Sponsored by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, Assembly Bill 990 will require political advertisements to carry larger statements clearly stating information about who is paying for the advertisement. Bonilla introduced the […]

CaliforniaThe Legislature has passed a bill requiring new political advertising standards.

Sponsored by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, Assembly Bill 990 will require political advertisements to carry larger statements clearly stating information about who is paying for the advertisement.

Bonilla introduced the legislation to ensure voters will be able to easily identify the sponsors behind any political advertising.

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July 20, 2015 •

US Court of Appeals Reverses Delaware Campaign Finance Decision

The United States Third Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a district court ruling granting a preliminary injunction against a Delaware campaign finance law requiring sponsors of third-party advertisements to disclose the identities of their donors. Specifically, Section 8031 of the […]

3rd Circuit Court of Appeals SealThe United States Third Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a district court ruling granting a preliminary injunction against a Delaware campaign finance law requiring sponsors of third-party advertisements to disclose the identities of their donors.

Specifically, Section 8031 of the Delaware Election Disclosures Act, which became effective January 1, 2012, requires any person who makes an expenditure for a third-party advertisement exceeding $500 during an election period to file a report with the Elections Commission, including the names and addresses of each person who has made contributions to the sponsor of the third-party advertisements exceeding $100.

The Third Circuit ruled the lower court abused its discretion in granting the injunction. The Delaware Department of Elections may now enforce section 8031.

Seal of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit by Djwalsh3 on Wikimedia Commons.

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June 18, 2015 •

Vermont Governor Approves Changes to Lobbyist Disclosure Requirements

Gov. Peter Shumlin has signed Senate Bill 93, changing lobbyist reporting requirements. Reports must now be filed for each month the legislature is in session with an additional report in September. The new law also requires identification of lobbyists contributing […]

Flag of VermontGov. Peter Shumlin has signed Senate Bill 93, changing lobbyist reporting requirements. Reports must now be filed for each month the legislature is in session with an additional report in September.

The new law also requires identification of lobbyists contributing to advertisements meant to influence legislation and a report must be filed within 48 hours if such advertisement cost $1,000 or more. Furthermore, a legislator’s candidate committee and a legislative leadership committee may no longer solicit or accept a contribution while the legislature is in session.

These provision are effective July 1, 2015.

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February 10, 2015 •

Tuesday Lobbying and Campaign Finance News Update

Lobbying Hawaii: “Hawaii Lobbyists Fined for Failing to Register with State Ethics Commission” by The Associated Press for Greenfield Daily Reporter Minnesota: “Tomassoni Quits Range Job, Citing ‘Distractions’” by Don Davis for Duluth News Tribune Texas: “State Law Allows for […]

K StreetLobbying

Hawaii: “Hawaii Lobbyists Fined for Failing to Register with State Ethics Commission” by The Associated Press for Greenfield Daily Reporter

Minnesota: “Tomassoni Quits Range Job, Citing ‘Distractions’” by Don Davis for Duluth News Tribune

Texas: “State Law Allows for Lobbying Deep in the Shadows of Texas” by James Drew for Dallas Morning News

Campaign Finance

California: “A Legal Use of Power: Parties funnel millions to California candidates” by Jim Miller for Sacramento Bee

Pennsylvania: “After Pennsylvania Treasurer Scandal, Pay-to-Play Law Still a Longshot” by The Associated Press for Lehighvalleylive.com

Ethics

New York: “Harassment Suit against Former Assemblyman Vito Lopez and Sheldon Silver Is Settled” by Jesse McKinley for New York Times

North Carolina: “City Panel Proposes Stronger Ethics Policy” by Steve Harrison for Charlotte Observer

Oregon: “Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber Faces Call to Resign amid Scandal over Fiancée” by Maria La Ganga for Los Angeles Times

Washington: “Free U.S. Open Tickets for Lawmakers? Ethics Board to Discuss” by Melissa Santos for Tacoma News Tribune

Legislative Issues

Idaho: “Recodification Bill Would Create New Title of State Law for Ethics, Public Records, Open Meetings” by Betsy Russell for Spokane Spokesman-Review

South Carolina: “Lawmakers Hear Calls to Change the Way SC Elects Judges” by Jamie Self for The State

Political Advertising

Drones Fly into the Political Ad Wars” by Daniel Lippman for Politico

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November 4, 2014 •

Digital Government & Politics – Election Day Edition

A news summary where government and politics meet tech and social media: 2014 Midterm Elections “Google, Facebook aim to get out the vote” by Julian Hattem in The Hill. “Cell Phones, Social Media and Campaign 2014” by Aaron Smith in […]

government techA news summary where government and politics meet tech and social media:

2014 Midterm Elections

Google, Facebook aim to get out the vote” by Julian Hattem in The Hill.

Cell Phones, Social Media and Campaign 2014” by Aaron Smith in Pew Internet Research Project.

Help Us #FactcheckFacebook’s Election Efforts Today” by Micah L. Sifry in TechPresident.

10 Races Federal Employees Should Watch on Election Day” by Eric Katz on Government Executive.

YouTube Elections

Bing Elections and Voter Guide – U.S. Senate Predictions

Google Politics and Elections | United States Midterm Elections

E-Government

Is E-Gov Really Delivering?” by Tod Newcombe in Government Technology.

Recreation.gov a Test Case for Government Tech” by Miranda Neubauer in TechPresident.

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November 3, 2014 •

Monday News Roundup

Lobbying “Advice on How to Stay Out of Jail – From a Lobbyist Who Didn’t” by Kevin Ring for Washington Post Missouri: “Missouri Attorney General May Face Inquiry over Money from Lobbyists” by Eric Lipton for New York Times Campaign […]

Government Relations NewsLobbying

Advice on How to Stay Out of Jail – From a Lobbyist Who Didn’t” by Kevin Ring for Washington Post

Missouri: “Missouri Attorney General May Face Inquiry over Money from Lobbyists” by Eric Lipton for New York Times

Campaign Finance

Donors Get Special Access to GOP Governors as Potential 2016 Contenders” by Matea Gold for Washington Post

California: “Once a Crusader against Big Money, Gov. Brown is Collecting Millions” by Michael Finnegan and Ben Welsh for Los Angeles Times

New Mexico: “PRC Member Told He Can’t Pay Himself to Campaign” by Thomas Cole for Albuquerque Journal

Texas: “Ethics Commission Approves Dark Money Regulation” by David Saleh Rauf (San Antonio Express-News) for Austin American-Statesman

Ethics

Alabama: “Jury Finds Alabama Lawmaker Not Guilty of Perjury” by Kim Chandler (Associated Press) for Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Ohio: “State Rep. Sandra Williams Found Guilty of Profiting from Ohio State Football Tickets” by Jim Siegel for Columbus Dispatch

South Carolina: “Bobby Harrell: A quick rise to power, and a quicker fall” by Jeremy Borden and Schuyler Knopf for Charleston Post & Courier

Texas: “Houston Drops Subpoenas to Get Speeches from Pastors Opposed to Anti-Discrimination Ordinance” by The Associated Press for Fox News

Elections

Election Could Tip Historic Number of Legislatures into Republican Hands” by Reid Wilson for Washington Post

California: “L.A. Officials to Consider Ballot Measures to Change Election Years” by David Zahniser for Los Angeles Times

Louisiana: “Louisiana’s Rogues Yield to National Issues” by Campbell Robertson and Jonathan Martin for New York Times

Minnesota: “Campaigning to Extend, or End, One-Party Rule” by Monica Davey for New York Times

Montana: “Stanford Research Gaffe: School apologizes to Montana voters for ‘election guide’” by Katy Murphy for San Jose Mercury News

South Carolina: “State Election Officials Opt to Delay Election in Bobby Harrell’s Old House Seat” by Jeremy Borden for Charleston Post & Courier

Political Advertising

In Democratic Election Ads in South, a Focus on Racial Scars” by Jeremy Peters for New York Times

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