News You Can Use Digest – October 25, 2013 - State and Federal Communications

October 25, 2013  •  

News You Can Use Digest – October 25, 2013

News You Can Use

Lobbying Bonanza as Firms Try to Influence European Union

New York Times – Eric Lipton Danny Hakim | Published: 10/18/2013

As the European Union has emerged as a regulatory superpower, its policies have become ever more important to corporations operating across borders. In turn, the lobbying business in Brussels has become larger and more competitive, rivaled only by Washington, D.C. Some say American law firms are undercutting efforts to bring more transparency to lobbying in the Belgian capital, citing lawyer-client confidentiality to evade a government-backed but voluntary disclosure effort.

State Pro-Business Organizations Are Publicly Funded, but Privately Controlled

The Center for Public Integrity – Nicholas Kusnetz | Published: 10/23/2013

Some states have given control over corporate tax incentives to public-private partnerships that are often run by the states’ most influential businesspeople. Supporters say these partnerships are more nimble than government bureaucracies and are insulated from electoral politics. But much of the spending remains secret. Even most public agencies do not disclose the recipients of all the incentives because of tax privacy laws.


Cassidy Lobby Shop Goes Social

Washington Post – Catherine Ho | Published: 10/18/2013

With the lobbying business at a standstill on K Street, even big firms such as Cassidy & Associates have to embrace new ways of reaching policymakers and clients to protect their bottom lines. Cassidy has been trying to attract visitors to its Web site, which the firm has spent the last year overhauling to attract more potential clients through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

From the States and Municipalities:

Alabama – Alabama Considers Creating Election Commission

San Francisco Chronicle – Philip Rawls (Associated Press) | Published: 10/19/2013

Candidates have to report their contributions and expenditures to the Alabama secretary of state, but little is being done to make sure the reports are filed accurately. Some lawmakers said the solution could be to create a small state agency similar to the Federal Elections Commission.

California – FPPC Fines Arizona Group $1 Million for Campaign Finance Violations

Sacramento Bee – Laurel Rosenhall | Published: 10/24/2013

The California Fair Political Practices Commission levied a combined $1 million fine against Americans for Responsible Leadership and the Center to Protect Patient Rights for illegally funneling millions of dollars into a pair of ballot measure campaigns in 2012.

California – Riverside County Supervisors to Amend Campaign Finance Rules

Desert Sun; City News Service –   | Published: 10/22/2013

The Riverside County Board of Supervisors amended campaign finance regulations so candidates or PACs will, beginning January 1, 2014, have to electronically post details of a contribution within 10 days if the amount meets or exceeds $1,000. The revision affects candidates for assessor-clerk-recorder, auditor-controller, district attorney, judge, sheriff, supervisor, superintendent of schools, and treasurer-tax collector, as well as sponsors of ballot measures that are countywide in scope.

District of Columbia – Campaign Finance Reform Will Get D.C. Council Vote Next Month

Washington Post – Mike DeBonis | Published: 10/22/2013

The District of Columbia Council will vote on a package of campaign finance reforms as soon as November 5. The changes would restrict the ability of different companies owned by the same people to donate to the same candidate, require lobbyists to disclose their bundling of campaign contributions, and require political committees to report donations of $10,000 or more they believe to have been bundled, among other provisions.

Georgia – Commissioner: State auditor to handle ethics probe

Columbus Republic – Christina Cassidy (Associated Press) | Published: 10/22/2013

The Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts will investigate concerns surrounding the state ethics commission and its handling of complaints involving Gov. Nathan Deal. State Auditor Greg Griffin was initially appointed by the governor since the job became open outside of a legislative session. That connection to Deal drew criticism from Senate Minority Leader Steve Henson, who called the decision a “travesty of justice,” and said a special prosecutor would have been a better option.

Hawaii – Ethics Probe into Honolulu Mayor Sparks Talk of Reform

Honolulu Civil Beat – Nick Grube | Published: 10/18/2013

Ethical questions have been raised about a luau to celebrate the inauguration of Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, including whether it was a vehicle used by city contractors and lobbyists to curry favor with the new mayor. It has also opened up the debate over whether Honolulu’s ethics laws need to be strengthened to close any loopholes regarding gift-giving.

Michigan – Activists ‘Make it Rain’ in Michigan House, Drop Fake Million Dollar Bills on Lawmakers – Jonathan Oosting | Published: 10/23/2013

Anti-corruption protesters shouted from the Michigan House gallery as they showered state lawmakers with fake million dollar bills. The national group Represent Us says Michigan has one of the worst records of government corruption in the nation. It pulled a similar stunt in the New York Senate this June.

Montana – Montana Legislature Committee Hears Divide over Political Practices Job

The Missoulian – Charles Johnson | Published: 10/22/2013

The Legislature’s State Administration and Veterans’ Affairs Committee is studying Montana’s political practices office and looking at how other states regulate of campaign finances, ethics, and lobbyist and disclosure. Any recommendations will go to the 2015 Legislature for consideration. Those testifying before the committee offered divergent opinions about the role of the office and how it should be structured.

New York – Group Supporting Lhota Can Accept Unlimited Donations, Court Says

New York Times – Thomas Kaplan | Published: 10/24/2013

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled a political committee created to support New York City mayoral candidate Joseph Lhota can accept contributions above the $150,000 annual limit for individuals set by state law. The judges said the state’s cap on donations to independent political groups was probably unconstitutional.

New York – New Bill Would Require Businesses Seeking State Contracts to Detail Donations to Governor

New York Daily News – Ken Lovett | Published: 10/22/2013

A bill introduced recently in the New York Legislature would require businesses seeking state agency contracts to make public a list of all campaign contributions made to the governor and others in the executive branch. Before any contract could be awarded, the companies would have to detail all donations from the business, its subsidiaries, key employees, and their spouses over the preceding 18 month period.

Texas – 5th Circ. Axes Texas Ban on Corporate PAC Donations – Jeremy Heallen | Published: 10/16/2013

The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Texas cannot bar PACs from soliciting corporate donations, making it the fourth Circuit Court to uphold indirect corporate political contributions since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling. Texans for Free Enterprise, a PAC that does not contribute directly to campaigns but solicits donations to run ads supporting or opposing candidates, had challenged the law.

Washington – Wash. AG Still Seeking Penalty against Food Industry Group That Didn’t Disclose Donors

Columbus Republic – Mike Baker (Associated Press) | Published: 10/22/2013

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson will move ahead with a lawsuit filed against the Grocery Manufacturers Association. Ferguson said he will still seek penalties from the group, which recently identified donors who contributed money to oppose a food labeling initiative. The attorney general said the case involved concealing a record-setting amount of donations and there must be sanctions for violating the law.

Jim SedorState and Federal Communications produces a weekly summary of national news, offering more than 80 articles per week focused on ethics, lobbying, and campaign finance.

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