January 30, 2013 •
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has published the 2013-2014 election cycle contribution limits indexed for inflation. As required by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, the FEC must adjust certain contribution limits every two years.
The individual and non-multicandidate PAC contribution limit to federal candidates has increased from $2,500 to $2,600 for both primary and general elections, allowing for a total of $5,200 for a federal candidate. The overall biennial limit for individuals has increased to $123,200, with a maximum of $48,600 for all candidates and $74,600 for all PACs and parties. Among the other adjustments is the increased contribution limit of $32,400 per year to national parties from individuals and non-multicandidate PACs.
December 11, 2012 •
New limits effective for 2013 elections
Akron City Council has increased the city’s campaign contribution limits, to take effect for the council elections in 2013.
The limit for mayoral and at-large candidates will increase to $650 from $450, and the limits for ward council candidates will increase to $400 from the current $200 limit.
The limits were previously raised in February 2011.
October 17, 2012 •
Stay of Lower Court Decision Remains Pending Resolution of Appeal
Yesterday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a 41 page opinion explaining its continuing stay of a lower court’s decision ruling certain statutory contribution limits in Montana were unconstitutional and unenforceable.
On October 3, the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana, issuing a decision in Lair v. Murry, found the contribution limits in Montana Code Annotated §13-37-216 “prevent candidates from ‘amassing the resources necessary for effective campaign advocacy.’”
On October 9, after the District Court had denied a request to stay its Order, the Court of Appeals reinstated Montana’s campaign contribution limits, overruling the District Court. The District Court was ordered to outline the reasoning for its decision.
The next day, on October 10, the District Court issued a 38 page Opinion and Order detailing its reasoning. The Court of Appeals has rejected the District Court’s arguments, concluding “the state is likely to succeed on appeal.”
James. W. Murry, the Commissioner of Political Practices, has stated “that contribution limits are in effect and will be enforced.”
July 26, 2012 •
PACs that demonstrate making only independent expenditures not subject to limits
Attorney General William Sorrell has issued a statement that his office will not enforce the $2,000 contribution limit on PACs that only make independent expenditures. The statement comes after a request for clarification from Secretary of State Jim Condos regarding the federal court decision in Vermont Right to Life Committee (VRLC) v. Sorrell.
While the opinion in VRLC v. Sorrell upheld the contribution limit as applied to VRLC’s independent expenditure committee, the ruling was based on the lack of safeguards to ensure that unlimited contributions to VRLC’s independent expenditure committee did not flow into VRLC’s candidate contribution funds.
Attorney General Sorrell stressed that if investigation reveals a PAC’s activities are not conducted entirely independently of candidates, as in VRLC v. Sorrell, it will continue to be subject to the contribution limits.
Photo of Attorney General William Sorrell by Overton2002 on Wikipedia.
February 27, 2012 •
Here are highlights from the latest edition of News You Can Use:
From the States and Municipalities:
State and Federal Communications produces a weekly summary of national news, offering more than 80 articles per week focused on ethics, lobbying, and campaign finance.
News You Can Use is a news service provided at no charge only to clients of our online Executive Source Guides, or ALERTS™ consulting clients.
December 13, 2010 •
Georgia State Ethics Commission Increases Contribution Limits
The State Ethics Commission has approved an increase in contribution limits for both statewide and other offices. The contribution limit for a statewide office during each primary and general election has been increased from $6,100 to $6,300, while the limit for a runoff election for the primary or general election has increased from $3,600 to $3,700.
Additionally, contribution limits for all other offices during each primary and general election have increased from $2,400 to $2,500, and from $1,200 to $1,300 for a runoff election resulting from the primary or general election.
December 2, 2010 •
In the wake of seemingly constant political scandal, particularly involving the Governor’s office, the state of Illinois passed significant changes to its Lobbyist Registration Act.
The enhancements to the system are aimed toward improving transparency and easing the public’s fear of “back room” politics. It is no coincidence that the lobbying law changes come at the same time the state is strengthening ethics rules in other arenas. The state recently passed new disclosure requirements for contacts with procurement officials. Additionally, Illinois’ campaign finance laws will feature contribution limits in 2011 and quarterly PAC reporting. The improvements to the state’s lobbying regulations are part of an overall climate of increasing disclosure around the United States. Several other states, including Utah and Georgia, have made similar changes in state lobbying law this year.
The first change to the rules, which is already known by most people impacted by it, relates to the registration fee. Illinois initially sought to increase this fee to $1,000 per lobbyist and per organization employing a lobbyist. Thus, a company with two state-level lobbyists would have been charged $3,000 per year. The ACLU sued for and was granted an injunction on this fee. Essentially, the state agreed Illinois could not demonstrate the increase in cost was necessary to administer the Lobbyist Act. Additionally, the ACLU had raised a First Amendment establishment clause argument because the bill granted exemptions to certain religious lobbying and thus “demonstrated a preference for religious speech over non-religious speech.” Eventually, the state and the ACLU agreed to a fee of $300 and the suit was dropped. Additionally, lobbyists are required to complete an online ethics training course within 30 days of registration.
Lobbyists will have to report more frequently in 2011 and beyond. The lobbying dates used to be tied to whether the legislature was in session but are now semi-monthly, regardless. In 2010, while the litigation on the Act was pending, reporting was done essentially as soon as the Secretary of State’s Index Department was able to receive them in the midst of the judicial and legislative melee. Lobbyists filed a report on September 30 for the first half of 2010, and now must report second-half expenditures on January 15, 2011. Starting in 2011, reports are due twice per month. A report for the first 15 days is due on each 20th, and a report covering the 16th through the end of each month is due on the following 5th. While this is very cumbersome, it is at least consistent. The smaller reporting periods should make the information to be reported very manageable.
One feature of Illinois’ lobbying seen in a few other states is the provision relating to notification of officials. Previously, if an official were set to appear on a lobbyist’s report because that lobbyist made an expenditure on the official, the lobbyist was required to give the official notice of this fact 25 days before the report was due and again 30 days after the report was filed. Under the new changes, the 30-day post-notification remains but the pre-notification is changed. Now, lobbyists must give the official “contemporaneous written notification” of a reportable expenditure made on the official’s behalf.
Photo of Gov. Pat Quinn by Chris Eaves on Wikipedia.
November 22, 2010 •
District Court Finds Law Constitutional
A District Court has issued a judgment upholding $5,000 limits on party contributions to candidates.
In Cao v. FEC, the District Court Eastern District of Louisiana, following a prior judgment from the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on other grounds, found 2 U.S.C. §441a(a)(2)(A) constitutional even though it imposes the same contribution limits on parties as on PACs and the limits are not adjusted for inflation.
The suit had been brought by Louisiana Congressman Anh “Joseph” Cao, the Republican National Committee and the Republican Party of Louisiana.
October 12, 2010 •
Order Issued Enjoining Enforcement of Hawaii Campaign Finance Law Specific to Plaintiffs
A federal judge has granted the request of two men seeking to be able to contribute in excess of the state’s limit of $1,000 to a noncandidate political action committee. U.S. District Judge Michael Seabright issued an order permitting the plaintiffs in the action to contribute $2,500 to the Aloha Family Alliance, a noncandidate political action committee which supports traditional marriage and opposes abortion and physician-assisted suicide, for the general election.
Hawaii law limits contributions to a noncandidate committee to $1,000 per election, with the primary and general election counting as two separate elections. Neither plaintiff in this action had made a contribution during the primary election. Further, the written order does not allow others exceed the $1,000 limit for the general election.
State Attorney General Mark Bennett has requested a stay of the order while the case is appealed to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. This order only speaks to this particular facet of the lawsuit, not to the additional plaintiff complaints regarding disclaimers and attribution related to advertisements, political reporting requirements, and pay-to-play restrictions, which Judge Seabright will rule on at a later date.
September 22, 2010 •
Lacks Power to Declare Statute Unconstitutional
The State Ethics Commission will not enforce contribution limits for committees making expenditures independent of a candidate’s control or consultation. An earlier requested Attorney General’s opinion found a committee engaging exclusively in independent expenditures is not subject to annual contribution limits.
The Attorney General also confirmed the Ethics Commission did not have the power to declare S.C.C. §8-13-1322(A) unconstitutional. The Ethics Commission then issued an Advisory Opinion declaring the Commission would not enforce any contributions limits under S.C.C. §8-13-1322(A) for committees making independent expenditures.
September 13, 2010 •
A federal court judge has suspended enforcement of Kentucky’s $100 contribution limit to candidates for school boards.
In its opinion, the court decided the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance’s interest in keeping politics out of school elections is not sufficient grounds for limiting contributions in that manner.
Because of this ruling, individuals may contribute up to $1,000 for a candidate for school board, the same limit imposed on other candidates for office in Kentucky.
July 29, 2010 •
Akron City Council has approved legislation amending the city’s campaign finance law.
Under the new legislation, the city’s contribution limits of $300 for mayoral and at-large council candidates and $100 for ward council candidates do not apply when candidates are raising money outside of their own elections or reelections and other expenses such as “the duties of public office and seeking nomination or election to another office”.
The new legislation also lifts contribution limits for fundraising efforts by candidates for other candidates or for a political party.
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.