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

December 28, 2013  •  

News You Can Use Digest – December 27, 2013






Political Advertisers and TV Stations Ignore Disclosure Rules

The Sunlight Foundation – Jacob Fenton | Published: 12/18/2013

The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 requires television stations to make available detailed information about political ad buys, including the names of any elected officials mentioned in the ads and any national issues discussed in them. But a review by the Sunlight Foundation reveals TV stations often fail to report even the most basic information about the political ads that outside groups buy on their airwaves.

Upstart Groups Challenge Rove for G.O.P. Cash

New York Times – Nicholas Confessore | Published: 12/23/2013

At least a dozen super PACs are setting up to back individual Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate, challenging the strategic and financial dominance that Karl Rove and the group he co-founded, American Crossroads, have enjoyed ever since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision cleared the way for unlimited independent spending. Some are suggesting Crossroads’ ties to the Republican establishment and recent clashes with conservative activists are a potential liability for GOP incumbents facing tea party challengers.

From the States and Municipalities:

California – Common Cause Seeks New Limits on Gifts to California Officials

Los Angeles Times – Patrick McGreevy | Published: 12/19/2013

California Common Cause proposed reforms to the state’s gift law to reduce the ability of special interests to seek favor by providing expensive meals, lodging, and travel. The group’s recommendations include applying the $10-per-month limit on gifts from lobbyists to also include gifts from the lobbyists’ clients, and reduce the limit on gifts that can be accepted by state elected officials from $440 per source annually to $250.

Georgia – State Ethics Commission Approves Hiring of ‘Internal Mediator’

WABE – Michelle Wirth | Published: 12/19/2013

The Georgia ethics commission hired former administrative law judge Robert Constantine to help with daily operations while federal authorities probe the agency’s investigation into Gov. Nathan Deal’s campaign. Several commission members received federal grand jury subpoenas over the matter. Chairperson Kevin Abernathy said Constantine will serve as an intermediary between the commission and staff members, and will have the ability to help resolve any disputes among agency employees.

Louisiana – Five Years Later, Does Gov. Bobby Jindal’s Ethics System Work?

Baton Rouge Advocate – Marsha Shuler and Mark Ballard | Published: 12/22/2013

At his January 2008 inauguration, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal announced a special legislative session to repair the state’s ethics system, saying he wanted to create a “gold standard.” Some observers say the decrease in violations shows the changes gummed up the works by making proceedings more like criminal prosecutions, with more lawyers, motions, and delays. Supporters of the changes argue the previous system was simply unfair.

Maryland – Half of Md. Lawmakers with Twitter Accounts Neglect to Comply with Disclosure Rule

Washington Post – John Wagner | Published: 12/20/2013

All candidates in Maryland are supposed to include an “authority line” when they promote themselves on social media. The Washington Post identified 92 Twitter accounts maintained by the state’s 188 senators and delegates. Of those, only 45 included authority lines that identify the name of the campaign entity and its treasurer.

Maryland – Md. Elections Board: Brown’s running mate can raise money during legislative session

Washington Post – John Wagner | Published: 12/19/2013

The State Board of Elections cleared the way for Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown’s gubernatorial campaign to raise money during the legislative session despite a law preventing state officials from seeking contributions during that period. The ruling addressed the issue of gubernatorial candidates and their political partners seeking to be lieutenant governor. While Brown, as a state official, cannot raise money during the session, his running mate, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, is a local official and thus free to do so.

New York – To Catch a Lobbyist: NYC ordinance aims to catch those flouting registration and vastly expands covered activities – Alexandra Megaris | Published: 12/17/2013

The New York City Council passed an ordinance revising the lobbying law. The definition of “lobbying” has been expanded, the schedule for filing reports was changed, and the dollar threshold for determining whether registration is required has been increased from $2,000 to $5,000 per calendar year, among other provisions. Most of the law takes effect on May 8, 2014; the registration threshold will become effective on January 1.

Oklahoma – Lawmakers’ Disclosures Reveal Little on Finances

Tulsa World – Curtis Killman | Published: 12/23/2013

Some are questioning what is required to be reported and the value of the information revealed to the public on Oklahoma lawmakers’ financial disclosure reports. In an age of growing transparency, the disclosure requirements provide little information when compared to congressional standards or those in other states.

Utah – More Swallow Revelations: Pay to play, hidden donations

Salt Lake Tribune – Robert Gehrke | Published: 12/20/2013

Investigators for the House Special Investigative Committee said former Utah Attorney General John Swallow and his predecessor, Mark Shurtleff, gave big donors extraordinary access in exchange for campaign contributions and special favors. The revelations upset committee members and several said they now want to continue the five-month probe that was shut down after Swallow announced his resignation.

Virginia – Chef Speaks Out about Va.’s McDonnells

Washington Post – Rosalind Helderman | Published: 12/21/2013

For months, Todd Schneider, the former chef at the governor’s mansion, has been the dramatic but silent figure who launched an investigation that has threatened to bring down Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell. But he said now that his case is resolved and the governor is ending his term, it is time to speak out. It was Schneider who first alerted authorities that businessperson Jonnie Williams had paid for catering at the wedding of one of McDonnell’s daughters, a tip that spiraled into a broad criminal probe that has brought the governor to the brink of federal charges.

Washington – Washington Ethics Panel Tosses Free Meal Complaint, Encourages Legislature to Clarify Statute

Columbus Republic – Rachel LaCorte (Associated Press) | Published: 12/20/2013

The Legislative Ethics Board dismissed a complaint about some Washington lawmakers accepting free meals from lobbyists. The board said if the state Legislature does not address the issue in the 60-day session beginning in January, the panel will work to establish rules on an enforceable standard.

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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