News You Can Use Digest - December 6, 2013 - State and Federal Communications

December 6, 2013  •  

News You Can Use Digest – December 6, 2013






ALEC Facing Funding Crisis from Donor Exodus in Wake of Trayvon Martin Row

The Guardian – Ed Pilkington and Suzanne Goldenberg | Published: 12/3/2013

A conservative group that critics say has undue influence on public policy faces a funding crisis and possible legal trouble, show internal documents. The documents indicate the American Legislative Exchange Council is appealing to major donors for help in averting a financial crisis, and is establishing a new project with a different name to help remove “questions of ethical violations made by our critics and state ethics boards,” reported The Guardian.

State Supreme Court Judges Reveal Scant Financial Information

The Center for Public Integrity – Reity O’Brien, Kytja Weir, and Chris Young | Published: 12/4/2013

All 50 states and the District of Columbia have more lax financial disclosure rules for their high court justices than the disclosure requirements for federal judges, according to an analysis by the Center for Public Integrity. Some states do not require any disclosure of gifts to judges; others have limits but with loopholes. The center cited Iowa, which allows these judges to receive gifts worth any amount for their wedding or for their 25th and 50th wedding anniversaries.


Capitol Metrics Bridges Lobbying and Data

Washington Post – Catherine Ho | Published: 12/1/2013

There were not many data-driven resources for lobbyists to research their competitors or potential merger partners. Then John Brain got the idea to create Capitol Metrics. It compiles lists of the top lobby firms by revenue, as well as the companies and associations that are spending the most on lobbying. Capitol Metrics also breaks down some of the data and packages it in a way that a lobbyist can better spot opportunities to pick up new business.

SEC Backs Off Corporate Giving Regs

The Hill – Ben Goad | Published: 12/2/2013

The Securities and Exchange Commission dropped a proposal to require publicly traded firms to disclose campaign spending to their shareholders from its list of regulatory priorities, a potential setback for watchdogs looking for ways to force some of the anonymous money in elections into public view. The issue drew more than 650,000 written comments, along with rebukes from trade groups, which argued the push was intended to silence of voice of business in politics.

From the States and Municipalities:

Arizona – Donation Cap for Political Campaigns Still in Place, for Now

East Valley Tribune – Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services) | Published: 11/26/2013

The Arizona Supreme Court rejected a bid by top Republican lawmakers to allow campaign donors to give more while the justices review the legality of the increase. The justices agreed to give the GOP interests a chance to convince them the Court of Appeals erred in ruling the Legislature acted unconstitutionally earlier this year in approving the sharp increase. A hearing is set for December 17.

District of Columbia – Council Unanimously Approves Campaign Finance Reform Legislation – Matt Cohen and Sarah Anne Hughes | Published: 12/4/2013

The District of Columbia Council unanimously passed a campaign finance reform bill recently. The legislation will restrict contributions from related businesses and require campaigns to report all fundraising data online. The bill also limits money order donations to $100. Lobbyists will have to disclose any contributions bundled and forwarded to a campaign.

Louisiana – Super PAC Backing Sen. David Vitter Says State Has No Choice, Must Lift $100,000 Contribution Limit

New Orleans Times Picayune – Bruce Alpert | Published: 12/4/2013

The Fund for Louisiana’s Future, the super PAC created to support U.S. Sen. David Vitter, wants to end enforcement of the state’s $100,000 limit on independent committee donations. The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling that equated spending on independent political expenditures with free speech, and a follow-up decision by a federal appeals court, makes it clear that such limits are unconstitutional, say lawyers for the PAC. Groups favoring limits on campaign spending do not necessarily disagree.

Minnesota – ‘Free Lunches’ Back on Menu for Minnesota Legislators

Minneapolis Star Tribune – Abby Simons | Published: 12/3/2013

For the first time in 19 years, Minnesota lawmakers and their staff will be allowed to eat and drink for free at receptions hosted by special interest groups, as long as all 201 legislators are invited at least five days in advance. Backers of the new law say the easing of what once was one of the strictest gift bans in the nation was needed as a way to restore camaraderie in an increasingly polarized Legislature. The law still prohibits lawmakers from accepting gifts in more exclusive gatherings.

Missouri – Prefiled Bills Suggest Ethics Reform on Agenda

Springfield News-Leader – Jonathan Shorman | Published: 12/4/2013

Eight ethics reform bills have been filed in the Missouri Senate by members of both parties. Senate Bill 486 would cap the amounts any one donor may give to a candidate: $25,000 for gubernatorial and statewide candidates, $10,000 for senators, and $2,500 for representatives and other public offices. Senate Bill 512 requires lawmakers to reimburse lobbyists for expenses within 30 days.

Nevada – Nevada Supreme Court Upholds Ethics Laws

San Francisco Chronicle – Sandra Chereb (Associated Press) | Published: 11/27/2013

The Nevada Supreme Court upheld the state Ethics Commission’s censure of a former Sparks City Council member who voted for a casino project even though his campaign manager was a consultant on the project. The decision reversed an earlier high court opinion that found the ethics law prohibited Councilperson Michael Carrigan from exercising his First Amendment rights to free speech.

New Mexico – New Mexico’s ‘Revolving Door’

Albuquerque Journal – Dan Boyd | Published: 11/29/2013

New Mexico lawmakers are free to resign one day and start lobbying the next. A recent report by a watchdog group identified 26 former legislators who work as lobbyists. Critics say the “revolving-door” practice erodes public trust in government by allowing former lawmakers to cash in on their expertise and connections with former colleagues.

New York – Report: Reform can’t wait

Albany Times Union – Casey Seiler | Published: 12/2/2013

A state commission investigating public corruption in New York recommended a system of public financing for state elections, an independent election-law enforcement agency, and stricter disclosure policies for legislators, saying a “permissive culture of both illegal and legal corruption” must change. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to use the panel’s suggestions as the basis for a series of ethics law changes in 2014.

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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