News You Can Use Digest - September 19, 2014 - State and Federal Communications

September 19, 2014  •  

News You Can Use Digest – September 19, 2014



Wealthy Citizens Have More Clout in State Government, but Stricter Lobbying Rules Can Help Close the Gap, Baylor Study Finds

Baylor University – Terry Goodrich | Published: 9/16/2014

Baylor University political science professor Patrick Flavin found state lawmakers are more attentive to the political opinions of the wealthy than those of poor people when making policy decisions, but stricter regulations on professional lobbyists can help curb this trend and promote more equal representation. “… Disadvantaged citizens do not enjoy the same level of representation among professional lobbyists [as the wealthy], and correspondingly exert less influence over the policy decisions made by elected officials,” said Flavin.


Judge Mulls SEC Limits on Political Donations

Politico – Josh Gerstein | Published: 9/12/2014

A federal judge questioned whether two state Republican parties have legal standing to challenge a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rule that puts some restrictions on asset managers when they make campaign contributions. The New York and Tennessee Republican parties filed a lawsuit against the SEC in August over the 2010 rule, arguing it impedes free speech. They are seeking a preliminary injunction against the rule. Howell also said the SEC’s rule, aimed at reining in donations intended to help investment advisers win business from state-controlled endowments or pension funds, was vague, especially when it comes to preventing indirect contributions.

Tommy Boggs Helped Create Modern World of D.C. Lobbying

Politico – Byron Tau and Anna Palmer | Published: 9/15/2014

Thomas H. Boggs, Jr., who was a pioneer in melding the practice of law and lobbying and led the prominent lobbying shop Patton Boggs for many years, has died at age 73. Few people were as acquainted with power and influence as Boggs, whose father was Democratic majority leader in the U.S. House and whose mother served nine terms in Congress. Starting in the 1960s, when lobbying was often a one-man operation or done by a trade association, Boggs helped transform the profession into a multibillion-dollar enterprise that seeks a vast array of public policy goals.

From the States and Municipalities:

Arizona – State Supreme Court to Rule on Campaign Finance Disclosure Requirements

East Valley Tribune – Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services) | Published: 9/15/2014

The Committee for Justice and Fairness is asking the Arizona Supreme Court to decide when groups running attack ads against candidates have to disclose who is financing the effort. The committee wants the justices to rule that only groups which run commercials specifically asking viewers to vote for or against someone must spell out the source of the money. What the court ultimately decides will govern what voters know about who is behind the attack ads they will see for years to come.

Arkansas – Why Some Say Arkansas’ Ethics Reform Is a Trojan Horse

Governing Magazine – J.B. Wogan | Published: 9/11/2014

Issue 3 on the November ballot in Arkansas would ban lobbyist gifts to state officials, prohibit direct corporate contributions to candidates, and lengthen the time period before former lawmakers can become lobbyists. But those lobbying and campaign finance reforms have received little attention in the campaign, mostly because another provision would extend term limits for state lawmakers. Because the measure would make several changes at once, it has a long, complicated ballot title and the bill itself is 22 pages, with the term-limits portion tucked away on the 16th page. The length and complexity of the measure has invited speculation that its authors intended to obfuscate its impact on term limits.

Colorado – Ted Olson Argues Citizens United Case in Denver Court

Denver Post – John Frank | Published: 9/16/2014

The conservative organization credited – or blamed – with bringing a flood of money into politics argued in federal court it should be allowed to produce and advertise a film that criticizes Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper without disclosing who paid for it. Attorneys for Citizens United argued “Rocky Mountain Heist” is a news product and the organization itself should be considered a media outlet with the same protections as members of the press. The urgency of the ruling is heightened with the election seven weeks away.

Connecticut – Panel Condemns NU Exec’s Pro-Malloy Solicitation as ‘Offensive’ – But Finds No Violation

Hartford Courant – Jon Lender | Published: 9/16/2014

The State Elections Enforcement Commission dismissed a complaint against Northeast Utilities Chief Executive Officer Thomas May, but not before offering some harsh criticism of the solicitation the state contractor sent to his employees. Connecticut law prohibits state contractors from contributing to state party accounts or the campaigns of statewide candidates. Even though the email solicitation mentioned Malloy’s accomplishments at length, the commission was unable to find May violated the law because the money went to the party’s federal account.

New York – Former Assemblyman Turned Informer Avoids Prison

New York Times – Benjamin Weiser | Published: 9/11/2014

Former New York Assemblyperson Nelson Castro will not serve any time in prison for making false statements because he “helped clean house” in state politics by cooperating in a lengthy corruption probe that resulted in the conviction of another state Assembly member and five others, said a federal judge. Castro began cooperating in 2009 while still a candidate almost immediately after he was told he was facing a perjury charge in a corruption investigation. For two terms in the Assembly, he wore a wire at times as part of his undercover work. He resigned office after his cooperation was revealed last year.

North Carolina – NC’s Political Watchdogs: The State Ethics Commission’s strengths and weaknesses

Carolina Public Press – John Ellston | Published: 9/17/2014

The Carolina Public Press said its review of the North Carolina Ethics Commission’s first seven years of operation found a bipartisan and vigorous effort to enforce ethics laws that is constrained by a lack of resources, strict confidentiality rules, and limited enforcement powers, and burdened by an ever-expanding mandate. The Public Press profiled the commission’s members, detailed the agency’s duties, and assessed what outside observers say are its strengths and weaknesses.

Ohio – Judge: Ohio politicians allowed to lie

USA Today – Chrissie Thompson (Cincinnati Enquirer) | Published: 9/11/2014

A federal judge struck down as unconstitutional an Ohio election law that banned candidates or independent organizations from lying in campaigns. U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black ruled the law and its enforcement by the state Elections Commission are “inherently flawed” because the statute requires a government agency to decide whether a candidate or organization had lied in a commercial or billboard. “The answer to false statements in politics is not to force silence, but to encourage truthful speech in response, and to let the voters, not the government, decide what the political truth is,” wrote Black.

Texas – Campaigns, Consultants Disregard Ethics Commission Resolution

Houston Chronicle – David Saleh Rauf | Published: 9/11/2014

The Texas Ethics Commission adopted a resolution last year saying that campaigns should not use the agency’s sworn complaint process as a tool to smear an opposing candidate. But the resolution is a nonbinding decree that carries no enforcement muscle. So it appears that strategists from both parties have decided to disregard the sentiment of the commission in favor of trying to drum up headlines against their political rivals.

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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