August 29, 2013 •

DuPage County Eliminates Pay-to-Play Restrictions

Laws were found to be unenforceable

DuPage CountyThe DuPage County Board repealed its pay-to-play provisions after learning from the state’s attorney’s office the provisions were unenforceable. As a non-home rule county, the county did not have the power to act on limiting campaign contributions because it was not specifically granted that power by the state legislature.

The changes were enacted as part of an otherwise minor update to the county’s ethics code. Provisions requiring disclosure of campaign contributions by contractors remain in place.

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July 25, 2013 •

New Municipalities Update- July 25, 2013

In a continuing effort to better serve the needs of its clients, State and Federal Communications, Inc. is expanding coverage of laws and regulations in more municipalities.

I-ComplyWe now provide information on lobbying, political contributions, and procurement lobbying for:

Aurora, Illinois

More municipalities will follow soon!

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June 20, 2013 •

New Municipalities Update- June 20, 2013

In a continuing effort to better serve the needs of its clients, State and Federal Communications, Inc. is expanding coverage of laws and regulations in more municipalities.

I-ComplyWe now provide information on lobbying, political contributions, and procurement lobbying for:

Hilliard, Ohio

York County, Pennsylvania

DuPage County, Illinois

Miami-Dade County Public Schools

Surrey, British Columbia

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April 9, 2013 •

Chicago Voters to Choose Jesse Jackson Jr.’s Replacement

Former Chicago Bear also running for Romeoville mayor

Chicago, IllinoisVoters in the Chicago area are heading to the polls this morning to choose a new representative to the United States Congress, as well as other local offices. Voters on the south side of the city must pick a successor to former Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. Jackson resigned from Congress earlier this year for personal reasons and has since pleaded guilty to illegally using campaign funds for personal expenses.

The Democratic nominee, Robin Kelly, is the favorite in the heavily Democratic district. Kelly is a former state lawmaker who hails from Matteson, a village in the south suburbs.

Her opponent is the Republican nominee, Paul McKinley. McKinley, who served almost 20 years in prison for armed robbery, burglary, and aggravated battery, is running on a promise to stop the Chicago political machine and put ex-offenders back to work to help turn their lives around.

In another high profile race, former Chicago Bears defensive lineman Steve McMichael will take on incumbent John Noak for Romeoville mayor. Romeoville is about 30 miles southwest of Chicago and has a population of almost 40,000.

Towns throughout the area will also be deciding whether to allow video poker machines and whether to approve multiple bond requests. Polls close at 7 p.m. local time and the weather looks promising for a good turnout.

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March 7, 2013 •

Two Bills Could Change Illinois Lobbying Laws

Representative Drury proposes changes to registration and gift laws

Illinois State CapitolState Representative Scott Drury has recently introduced two bills that would change the way lobbyists operate within the state. House Bill 2957 would change the definition of lobbying, thus causing more people to register as a lobbyist.

The bill would add communicating with a local government to influence action to the definition of lobbying. Therefore, all people who lobby a local government without a lobbying ordinance, the cities of Rockford and Springfield for example, would have to register as a lobbyist with the state. Also, those who lobby in a city with a lobbying ordinance, such as Chicago, would have to register with the state, in addition to their current city registration.

House Bill 2964 is a bill aimed at the state’s current prohibition on gifts. It would prohibit the relatives of a state officer, legislator, or employee from receiving prohibited gifts from a prohibited source (under state law, a lobbyist is considered a prohibited source). The bill also adds a new exception to the ban, adjusts one of the current exceptions, and abolishes another of the exceptions.

If the bill passes, a state officer, legislator, or employee would be allowed to accept admission to and the cost of food and beverages consumed at a reception, meal, or meeting by an organization before whom the recipient appears to speak or answer questions as part of a scheduled program where all members of the General Assembly were invited. This would replace the current exception for food and beverage, which allows for those to be provided if catered or consumed on the premises.

The bill would also limit the amount of travel expenses provided to $111 per day and the travel must be on a carrier available to the general public.

It remains to be seen whether either one of the bills will pass, but should they pass in their current form, it will change how lobbyists do business in the state.

Photo of the Illinois State Capitol by Daniel Schwen on Wikipedia.

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February 14, 2013 •

Chicago City Council Passes Watered-Down Ethics Ordinance

Mayor Emanuel Vows to Continue Fight

Daley PlazaThe Chicago City Council approved phase two of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s ethics reform. This time, however, it didn’t come easy and the mayor is not completely satisfied with its outcome. The set of reforms focused mainly on public officials.

Mayor Emanuel’s proposal included a two year ban on lobbying after leaving city council office and allowing citizens to make anonymous complaints against aldermen. The city council was against both of these provisions and eventually passed a watered-down version of the proposal.

The ban on lobbying will only last for one year and does not take effect until January 1, 2014. The idea of anonymous complaints was completely tossed out; as the aldermen were afraid the tactic would be used by political enemies to gain an advantage. Emanuel was not pleased with the changes. He vowed to continue to fight for the anonymous complaints and mentioned the aldermen are just playing into the hands of the cynics.

Following the council’s vote Emanuel said, “I believe all of you work really hard. You don’t get credit for how hard you work. You get an unfair rap. But when you take an action like you just took, it reinforces a cynicism about you.” He added, “I want you all to know that is not the end of the process. I’m going to continue to do it.”

Photo of the Daley Plaza and Chicago City Hall by JeremyA on Wikipedia.

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January 4, 2013 •

Illinois Increases Contribution Limits

Increase occurs every two years

IllinoisThe Illinois State Board of Elections has announced that campaign contributions limits have been increased with the start of the new year. According to statute, on January 1 of every odd-numbered year, the board of elections must adjust the contribution limits due to inflation.

Under the updated limits, a candidate political committee may accept, over the course of an election cycle, no more than $5,300 from an individual, $10,500 form a corporation, labor organization, or association, and $52,600 from a political action committee. A political party committee and a political action committee may accept no more than $10,500 from an individual, $21,100 from a corporation, labor organization, or association, and $52,600 from a political action committee.

Absent any legislation, these contribution limits will remain in place until January 1, 2015 and will be in effect for the next gubernatorial election.

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November 26, 2012 •

Mayor Emanuel Proposes Changes to Chicago’s Lobbyist Laws

Registration and reporting requirements will be affected

Daley PlazaMayor Rahm Emanuel is continuing to overhaul the city’s ethics code by introducing another ordinance based on his ethics task force’s recommendations. While this proposed ordinance deals mostly with governmental employees and elected officials, it would also bring some changes to lobbyist registration and reporting.

The ordinance, if approved, will change the definition of a lobbyist. Currently, volunteers, employees, officers, and directors of a not-for-profit entity are exempted from registering as a lobbyist. However, the proposed ordinance will eliminate that exemption and require those members of a not-for-profit entity who seek to influence legislative or administrative action to register as a lobbyist. The proposal does allow the ethics board to create objective criteria allowing for a reduction or a waiver of the registration fees for not-for-profits lobbyists.

Finally, under the proposal, lobbyists would be required to disclose the actual amount of compensation received from employers. Currently, the compensation needs only to be rounded to the nearest $1,000.

Photo of the Daley Plaza and Chicago City Hall by JeremyA on Wikipedia.

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October 25, 2012 •

Appellate Court Rejects Injunction Request, Upholds Illinois Contribution Limits

Case goes back to trial court to determine constitutionality of state’s contribution limits

IllinoisThe Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Illinois’ limits on campaign financing will remain in force at least through the upcoming general election. Illinois Liberty PAC initially sought an injunction to suspend the limits, but its effort was refused by the district court. They appealed and the appellate court ruled that the PAC’s attorneys “have not shown that they are likely to succeed on the merits of their challenge to contribution limits.”

The case will now go back to the district court, where the actual merits of the case can be decided. The PAC claims that the limits violate their First Amendment right to free speech and their equal protection rights because it allows political parties to spend unlimited amounts of money, while limiting contributions from other sources.

The PAC was not surprised by the ruling saying, “We knew it was going to be an uphill battle.”

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October 8, 2012 •

District Court Upholds Illinois Campaign Contribution Limits…For Now

Preliminary injunction denied, plaintiffs to appeal and continue fight

IllinoisA federal court rejected an injunction trying to overturn Illinois’ political contribution law. Illinois Liberty PAC filed for the injunction contending the state law violated its First Amendment right to free speech. Illinois law limits the amount individuals, PACs, unions, and corporations may give to candidates each election. However, the law does not limit what political parties may contribute to a campaign.

Illinois Liberty PAC contended that if it was limited in what it could contribute, everybody should be limited. United State District Judge Gary Feinerman disagreed, holding that the injunction “would create a manifest possibility of actual or apparent corruption” and cause harm to the state’s citizens.

This ruling will not be the end of the case. Illinois Liberty PAC plans on filing an emergency motion with the appellate court in hopes of suspending the limits for the upcoming November election. Also, the courts will eventually have to rule on the constitutionality of Illinois’ contribution limits.

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September 12, 2012 •

Appeals Court Upholds Illinois Campaign Finance Law

Disclosure cases likely to go Supreme Court

IllinoisA federal appeals court in Chicago upheld an Illinois state law regarding disclosure related to campaign advertisements. The Center for Individual Freedom, a Virginia based advocacy group, sued the state, claiming that its First Amendment rights were violated by a law that requires all entities, regardless of whether their main purpose is influencing elections, to register and report as a political committee once it spends $3,000 for independent expenditures in a 12-month period.

In dismissing the case, the court ruled this law did not violate the free speech rights of organizations. The case was originally dismissed in district court last year on the same grounds.

This continues an ongoing cycle where groups are suing states, and obtaining mixed results, for the state’s disclosure laws based on the Supreme Court’s landmark Citizens United decision in 2010. Most experts believe these cases will eventually end up in Supreme Court, where the nation’s highest court will determine whether states can force groups to disclose donors who wish to remain anonymous.

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July 20, 2012 •

Proposed Chicago Ethics Ordinance Passes Committee Vote

Proposal moves to full city council vote

Mayor Rahm EmanuelMayor Rahm Emanuel’s new proposed ethics ordinance has advanced out of committee and will now head to a full city council vote. The proposal, which stems from the first set of recommendations handed out by Emanuel’s appointed Ethics Board, will, among other things, lower the value of gifts that city’s employees and officials may receive. Currently, the limit is $100, but the proposed ordinance lowers that limit to $50.

The proposal is expected to pass the city council. The ethics board is expected to release its second set of ethics recommendations in late summer.

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July 9, 2012 •

Illinois Governor Approves New Campaign Finance Laws

Law to effect immediately

Pat Quinn signatureOn Friday, July 6, 2012, Governor Pat Quinn signed Senate Bill 3722 into law, rewriting the state campaign contribution limits. Under this new law, if a natural person or an independent expenditure committee makes independent expenditures in support of, or in opposition to, the campaign of a candidate or incumbent in an amount over $250,000 for statewide office, or $100,000 for all other elective offices, then the contribution limits are waived for all candidates for that specific office. For example, if an independent expenditure committee spends more than $250,000 for commercials against candidate A, who is running for governor, then the contribution limits do not apply for any of the gubernatorial candidates.

The new law also establishes registration and reporting requirements for independent expenditure committees. The law goes into effect immediately, which means these rules apply for the state house and senate seats which are up for election in November.

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July 6, 2012 •

Illinois Affirmation Report Due in August

Lobbyists to affirm employer’s reports

Seal of IllinoisThe Illinois Secretary of State announced that the lobbyist affirmation statement for the period of January 1 to June 30, 2012 is due on August 4, 2012.

For this report, the lobbyists will have to affirm its employers’ reports are accurate as they pertain to the itemized expenditures.

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