February 28, 2011 •
Governor Brown has appointed Ann Ravel to the Chair of the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC).
Ms. Ravel is the commission’s first chairwoman and has an established career in public service. She has served as counsel for Santa Clara County and most recently with the U.S. Justice Department.
Ravel has indicated she may reverse the recently enacted policy of publishing allegations on the FPPC’s website before investigations are concluded out of consideration for politicians and others who may be wrongfully accused of an infraction and later cleared.
Ms. Ravel replaces Dan Schnur, a Schwarzenegger appointee, atop the commission.
Photo of Ann Ravel courtesy of the Santa Clara County website.
February 28, 2011 •
New rules would regulate fee payments to placement agents, other proposals have been postponed.
Directors of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) adopted several new ethics proposals. Among the proposals are rules to regulate fee payments to placement agents, who help funds gain access to CalPERS decision makers, and rules to ensure the same staff members who negotiate investment deals do not monitor their success.
Additionally, the directors approved a requirement for investment partners to hold meetings in modest office settings instead of vacation resorts. The directors postponed decisions on proposals to reduce or eliminate travel, gifts, and other accommodations outside investment firms provide board members, and to impose a two-year “revolving door” ban on certain CalPERS employees.
These regulations being put in place are in line with legislation taking effect earlier this year requiring placement agents to register as lobbyists and regulating how the agents are paid.
Photo of CalPERS headquarters by Coolcaesar on Wikipedia.
February 22, 2011 •
County Lobbyists Must Register
Starting July 1, those in Orange County, California who are seeking to influence county government will be required to register with the Board of Supervisors. Under the new law, county lobbyists must register within 10 days of commencing lobbying activity and renew these registrations annually.
The registration fee will be $75 for an initial registration and $50 for each annual renewal thereafter. Orange County is the largest municipality in the state without a system for monitoring and disclosing lobbying activity. The regulation does not apply to those lobbying on behalf of nonprofit organizations.
February 3, 2011 •
Lobbyist receives fine
Jim Sedor, editor of News You Can Use, pointed out this article – “Lobbyist for San Manuel Tribe Fined $30,000 by State” from Tuesday’s Riverside Press-Enterprise.
According to the article, lobbyist Frank Molina of Strategic Solutions Advisors was fined $30,000 by the California Fair Political Practices Commission for failing to file lobbying reports. The article states Molina has lobbied for the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians, both operating casinos.
News You Can Use is State and Federal Communications’ weekly summary of national news focused on ethics, lobbying, and campaign finance.
January 5, 2011 •
Ballot measure will be decided on March 8
If passed on March 8, the Charter amendment will prohibit companies bidding on city contracts from giving campaign donations to city candidates.
Companies found in violation of the ban would be barred from doing business with the city for one to four years.
Photo of the Los Angeles financial district by Bobak on Wikipedia.
December 14, 2010 •
Lou Correa’s Bill Would Create Local Lobbying Regulation
State senator Lou Correa has introduced a Senate Bill 31, a law laying groundwork to eventually require local government lobbying registration. The law would apply to any municipality applying for a discretionary grant from any state agency or department.
The bill is, at this point, nothing more than an introductory statement but could force the hands of municipalities such as Orange County, who have thus far balked at attempts to regulate lobbying activities.
November 30, 2010 •
Two Orange County, California supervisors have introduced a new version a law requiring lobbyists to register with the county so the public can know who is influencing votes on contracts and other public matters.
Similar legislation was voted down last month. If the ordinance passes, anyone who lobbies the county board on behalf of someone else will be required to register annually and report on whose behalf he or she is lobbying. The call for lobbyist disclosure in Orange County comes after a county grand jury issued a report critical of the county supervisors for not having any lobbyist disclosure requirements. Several local political figures have implicitly threatened to have a lobbyist registration law placed on an upcoming ballot if the supervisors do not create it themselves.
Photo of Newport Center skyline and Santa Ana mountains by Brian 1078 on Wikipedia.
November 16, 2010 •
FPPC sorting out disclosure issues for political campaigns using social media.
The Fair Political Practices Commission passed rules late last week to regulate electronic communications and internet advertisements in the same manner as traditional media. Campaigns and those making independent expenditures will be required to place disclaimers and disclosures in text messages, e-mail, and other electronic advertisements to the extent it is practical.
If size or character-limit constraints make the full disclosure unrealistic, the ad must at least include the candidate or committee’s FPPC number and, if possible, a link containing the full campaign finance information. These new rules include exceptions for uncompensated and other grassroots internet activity in the interest of keeping the internet a prime forum for political activity and discussion among citizens.
Image of the Seal of the State of California by Zscout370 on Wikipedia.
November 1, 2010 •
Secretary of State’s office sends reminder
Secretary Bowen reminds employees they must provide two days’ notice to their employers in order to exercise this privilege.“California’s time-off-to-vote law ensures all voters, regardless of their work schedules, will be able to vote on November 2″, said Bowen.
Photo of the California Secretary of State Building by Mav on Wikipedia.
October 27, 2010 •
Most of the spending is on the governor’s race.
The Fair Political Practices Commission, California’s ethics and elections watchdog organization has released information on independent expenditures made in advance of the November general election.
More than 150 individuals have contributed approximately $28.8 million to independent expenditure committees in contributions of at least $10,000. The overwhelming majority of these expenditures are being made in the governor’s race.
As of June 9, 2010, committees had spent more than $23 million on communications designed to impact the election for the state’s highest executive office. The contest for state Superintendent registered a distant second with slightly less than $3 million in related independent expenditures.
Photo of the California State Capitol building by Sascha Brück on Wikipedia.
October 20, 2010 •
City Council to Consider Pay to Play Restrictions
The Los Angeles City Ethics Commission voted in favor of a planned ballot measure to bar city contractors from making campaign contributions to candidates running for mayor and city council. Los Angeles City Council will decide by the end of November whether to place this law on the ballot for the March 8 municipal election.
Under the proposal, those who do not abide by the new restrictions risk being barred from winning a city contract for four years. This type of ban has been under consideration several times since 2005 but has stalled at various stages of the legislative process each time.
Photo of Los Angeles City Hall by Brion VIBBER on Wikipedia.
October 18, 2010 •
New requirements for groups funding ads in California
The California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) has promulgated a rule requiring groups paying for political advertisements expressly advocating for the election or defeat of a candidate or ballot measure to disclose who paid for the message, even in when the messages do not contain so-called magic words such as “vote for,” or “elect”. Those words have previously been the legal threshold for disclosure.
This rule will apply to messages appearing in the final 60 days before an election. The regulations will not take effect until after the November general election.
“The commission has adopted what is likely the first statewide rule of its type in the nation,” said FPPC Chair Dan Schnur. “By forcing the disclosure of those who truly attempt to influence the outcome of an election, we have put an end to the most egregious of campaign tactics.”
Here is the original press release: “FPPC Shines Light on “Thinly Veiled” Campaign Speech”
Photo by Zscout370 on Wikipedia.
October 13, 2010 •
PACs will continue to be allowed to receive unlimited contributions for independent expenditures.
The U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear the city’s appeal of a lawsuit brought by the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce over the city’s campaign finance rules involving independent expenditures.
Long Beach appealed to the high court after the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court ruling stating the Chamber’s PAC may receive unlimited contributions to fund their independent campaign expenditures in city elections.
Photo of Long Beach by WPPilot on Wikipedia.
August 30, 2010 •
Newspaper quotes our president and CEO about campaign finance.
The Lodi News-Sentinel recently ran a story about campaign contributions in Lodi, California. The article discusses contributions that fall below the state’s $100 disclosure threshold. Elizabeth Bartz, the president and CEO of State and Federal Communications, Inc., offers her insights about California campaign finance laws and places it within the context of laws in other states.
You can find her insights here:
“Campaign: Donations of $99 or less never see light of day,” by Maggie Creamer in the Lodi News-Sentinel.
State and Federal Communications, Inc. provides research and consulting services for government relations professionals on lobbying laws, procurement lobbying laws, political contribution laws in the United States and Canada. Learn more by visiting stateandfed.com.