News You Can Use Digest – September 27, 2013 - State and Federal Communications

September 27, 2013  •  

News You Can Use Digest – September 27, 2013

News You Can Use

National:

Manufacturing Arm to Advise on Lobbying Agencies, States

Politico – Byron Tau and Andrea Drusch | Published: 9/26/2013

The National Association of Manufacturers has established the Center for Legal Action to give its members a voice in legal debates at the federal, state, and local levels. The center is a response to gridlock in Washington, D.C. and reflects the fact that legal fights elsewhere play a major role in the development of rules and regulations.

Some Public Companies Are Divulging More Details about Their Political Contributions

Washington Post – Dina ElBoghdady | Published: 9/25/2013

Even as some groups fight efforts to make their donors public, a growing number of companies are coming forward on their own to disclose their contributions to trade associations and other nonprofit organizations that legally can keep their hidden, according to a study.

Federal:

Federal Election Commission Gets New Blood

The Center for Public Integrity – Dave Levinthal | Published: 9/23/2013

The U.S. Senate confirmed President Barack Obama’s two nominees to the FEC, giving the panel its first new members since the George W. Bush administration. Democrat Ann Ravel and Republican Lee Goodman were approved by unanimous consent in a brief voice vote. The appointments will restore the six-member commission to full strength.

From the States and Municipalities:

Arizona – Campaign Finance Law Throws Twist at Candidates

San Francisco Chronicle; Associated Press –   | Published: 9/23/2013

The Arizona secretary of state’s office said under a new law, candidates need to have separate campaign finance committees for the primary and general elections. Combined with a $2,000 limit on transfers between committees, the requirement means candidates may have to commit their funds to one election or the other without yet knowing what the political landscape will look like.

California – California Political Watchdog Sets Sights on Major Cases

Sacramento Bee – Christopher Cadelago | Published: 9/22/2013

The California Fair Political Practices Commission historically has pursued investigations based on formal complaints. But under the leadership of Chairperson Ann Ravel and her chief enforcer, Gary Winuk, the agency has become more proactive, significantly increasing the number of inquiries it initiates.

California – State’s New Rule: Campaigns must say when they pay for Web posts

Los Angeles Times – Patrick McGreevy | Published: 9/19/2013

Bloggers and others who are paid to post political messages online are subject to new disclosure rules under regulations approved by the California Fair Political Practices Commission. The agency acted out of concern the public might be deceived into thinking paid content on blogs that praises or criticizes a candidate is objective political commentary.

Florida – Lobbying Association Weighs into Gaetz Push to Start Auditing Their Pay

Orlando Sentinel – Aaron Deslatte | Published: 9/19/2013

As a legislative panel prepares to discuss auditing lobbyists’ compensation, the association that represents Florida’s lobbyists wants to make sure they have a say in the process. A letter signed by the Florida Professional Lobbyist Association’s board of directors asks to make recommendations to lawmakers on how to conduct the audits.

Georgia – Ethics Commission Head Received Pay Increases

Macon Telegraph; Associated Press –   | Published: 9/20/2013

The annual salary of the Georgia ethics commission’s executive secretary, Holly LaBerge, increased from $85,000 when she was hired in September 2011 to $100,000 by June 2013, despite the agency saying it had to cut costs. By comparison, LaBerge’s predecessor, Stacey Kalberman, quit after absorbing a 30 percent pay cut and later filed a lawsuit alleging she was punished for aggressively pursuing an investigation involving Gov. Nathan Deal.

New York – N.Y. Ethics Panel Toughens Rules to Shield Political Donors

The Journal News – Joseph Spector | Published: 9/24/2013

The New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics fine-tuned its process for granting exemptions from disclosing financing sources for nonprofit organizations and agreed to place exemption applications online for public view. The changes come as the commission says it is trying to balance public disclosure of groups’ major contributors with the need to protect donors’ privacy to keep them from harm.

Ohio – Federal Grand Jury Indictment Charges North Canton Businessman with Funneling Illegal Campaign Cash to Candidates

Cleveland Plain Dealer – James McCarty | Published: 9/25/2013

A federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Benjamin Suarez, the owner of a North Canton direct-marketing firm, and company Chief Financial Officer Michael Giorgio with conspiring to funnel illegal campaign contributions to U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci and Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel. According to the FBI, Suarez and Giorgio recruited company employees and spouses to contribute to the campaigns, and then reimbursed them through payments disguised first as salary and later as profit sharing.

Ohio – Group Calls for Tougher Lobbyist Disclosures

Columbus Dispatch – Jim Siegel and Robert Higgs (Northeast Ohio Media Group) | Published: 9/19/2013

As Ohio’s natural gas industry has boomed, so have campaign contributions from the industry. That spending, coupled with a lack of reporting requirements for compensation paid to lobbyists should raise questions with voters about transparency and just who has access to government, said Ohio Common Cause.

Virginia – Ethics Issue Rises to Prominence in Va. Legislative Races

Washington Post – Antonio Olivo | Published: 9/21/2013

In a state that has long considered itself a place of clean government, the shadow of a federal probe into gifts received by Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell and his family is hanging over dozens of state House of Delegate races. As the campaigns for the general elections ramp up, both major parties are seeking to leverage the ethics issue for political gain, or at least keep it from hampering their chances for victory.

Washington – New Lobbyist Meal Form to Distinguish Chowder from Steak

KUOW – Austin Jenkins | Published: 9/23/2013

The Washington Public Disclosure Commission will decide at its September 26 meeting whether to update the form lobbyists use to report spending on entertainment. Media reports have noted many lobbyists do not include a per-person amount for dinners with lawmakers.

Wisconsin – Madison Passes Ordinance Forcing Stricter Campaign Spending Disclosure

Capital Times – Jack Craver | Published: 9/23/2013

The Madison Common Council approved an ordinance that will require groups making independent campaign expenditures in city elections to disclose the spending and their donors. Although the Government Accountability Board put in place a rule in 2010 that addresses such ads, the agency has not enforced the rule since it was challenged.

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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