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

November 27, 2013  •  

News You Can Use Digest – November 27, 2013





In honor of Thanksgiving and the short work week, we are publishing our weekly News You Can Use Digest today, instead of Friday.


How Much Lobbying Is There in Washington? It’s DOUBLE What You Think

Sunlight Foundation – Tim LaPira | Published: 11/25/2013

The Sunlight Foundation attempted to find out the amount of lobbying that goes on in Washington D.C., but found that quantifying the number is needlessly difficult. It did say about half of those involved in policy advocacy – the term used in the analysis for people in the private sector getting paid to influence public policy, regardless if they meet the strict federal definition of “lobbyist” – did not report lobbying activities in 2012.

Obama Administration Proposes New Curbs on Campaigning by Tax-Exempt Groups

Wall Street Journal – John McKinnon and Brody Mullins | Published: 11/26/2013

Rules proposed by the Obama administration would curtail a broad array of tax-exempt entities’ political activities, including advertising and voter registration. The involvement in politics of groups organized under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code has been viewed by many as the biggest abuse of modern campaign finance rules. The process of completing the new regulations could take months, and officials said they expected a lot of feedback.

Stockman’s Filings Don’t Explain His Income

Houston Chronicle – Lise Olsen and Will Tucker | Published: 11/25/2013

U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) has failed to properly disclose his financial dealings as candidate and member of Congress. A Houston Chronicle investigation shows Stockman has failed to file federally required expense documents since his 2012 campaign; those he did file were months late and only prompted more questions.

From the States and Municipalities:

California – Political Watchdog Seeks More Bite with New Law

San Francisco Chronicle – Melody Gutierrez | Published: 11/22/2013

The California Fair Political Practices Commission is trying to collect almost $3 million in past fines, and a new law that takes effect on January 1 will aide those efforts. The law allows tax and property liens, along with wage garnishments, for those who have outstanding fines. Commission officials said it can take more than a year to navigate civil courts to obtain those judgments, but under the new law, that time will be reduced to a few months.

Connecticut – After School Shooting, Newtown-Based Gun Industry Group Considered Leaving Town

Columbus Republic – Susan Haigh (Associated Press) | Published: 11/22/2013

The National Shooting Sports Foundation considered moving its offices from Newtown, Connecticut after last year’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. With employees confronted by angry neighbors and protesters appearing outside its headquarters, foundation officials said they had to determine whether having the name of Newtown associated with the organization would affect its mission to promote hunting and shooting sports.

Iowa – Iowa Ethics Board to Consider New Standards for Reviewing Donations from Trusts

Des Moines Register – Jason Noble | Published: 11/22/2013

Staff members for the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board will develop new standards for auditing PACS that receive contributions from entities other than individuals. The move could lead to new procedures for reviewing donations from trade associations, LLCs, partnerships, and trusts. The board will hear proposals for the new guidelines at its next meeting and could act to implement them at that time.

Louisiana – State Plans to Go After Bank Accounts, Licenses of Officials with Pending Ethics Fines, Treasurer Says

New Orleans Times Picayune – Lee Zurik (WVUE) and Manuel Torres | Published: 11/22/2013

Louisiana’s Debt Recovery Office will be used to crackdown on officials, political groups, and lobbyists that owe more than $1.2 million in ethics fines. The new office will have the power to collect money directly from the personal bank accounts of those with outstanding state debts. It also will be able to suspend debtors’ state licenses, including licenses for professional accreditations, and even for hunting and fishing.

Maryland – Brown Hosts Influential Guests in Redskins Stadium Skybox

Baltimore Sun – Luke Broadwater and Michael Dresser | Published: 11/22/2013

Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who is running for governor, has hosted lobbyists, campaign donors, and union leaders in the state’s skybox at FedEx Field for Washington Redskins’ games. Ethics rules prohibit politicians from accepting sporting tickets as gifts from those who do business with the state, but they say nothing about politicians distributing such tickets.

New Jersey – NJ Businesses Paying Top Dollar for Access to Republican Governors Association

Bergen Record – Melissa Hayes | Published: 11/24/2013

Of the $24 million the Republican Governors Association (RGA) raised in the first six months of the year, New Jersey benefactors gave $1.6 million. Montclair State University professor Brigid Harrison said corporations who see Gov. Chris Christie as a potential presidential candidate could increase their donations to the RGA while he is chairperson next year to get his attention and “curry favor” with someone who could go on to the White House.

New York – Legislators Seek to Kill Subpoenas

Albany Times Union – Rick Karlin and Jordan Carleo-Evangelist | Published: 11/22/2013

State lawmakers filed court papers to block subpoenas from the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption that seek information about elected officials’ sources of outside income. The central question is whether the century-old Moreland Act gives gubernatorial appointees the power to subpoena lawmakers, or whether the constitutional separation of powers provides protection from probes.

Oklahoma – Late Campaign Reports Rack Up $723,000 in Fees

Tulsa World – Barbara Hoberock and Curtis Killman | Published: 11/26/2013

A Tulsa World analysis indicates at least 2,700 campaign finance reports, amounting to about 10 percent of the total number filed in Oklahoma, were sent in late. The amount in late fees came to at least $723,300. The Oklahoma Ethics Commission will send notices to 250 PACs believed to owe penalties for not meeting the deadlines. The agency is looking at reports filed since August 2011, but has not ruled out going further back.

Virginia – Virginia Campaign Mailings Attract Scrutiny

Roanoke Times – Mike Gangloff | Published: 11/20/2013

An arrangement for low rates on campaign mailers that some Virginia General Assembly members and candidates describe as standard seems to violate U.S. Postal Service requirements, said Katina Fields, a spokesperson in the postal service’s Washington, D.C. headquarters. At issue is how closely state Democratic and Republican parties coordinate their activities with the individual campaigns of their candidates.

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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