January 19, 2021 •
In one of its first decisions of 2021, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) released an Advisory Opinion agreed upon unanimously. Advisory Opinion 2020-02 does not break new ground, but affirms that citizens of the United States living abroad may purchase […]
In one of its first decisions of 2021, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) released an Advisory Opinion agreed upon unanimously. Advisory Opinion 2020-02 does not break new ground, but affirms that citizens of the United States living abroad may purchase online political advertisements in the U.S.
The FEC stated campaign finance regulations do not distinguish between citizens living in the U.S. and those residing abroad. They affirmed U.S. citizens living abroad may make expenditures, independent expenditures, and disbursements in connection with elections in the United States.
The opinion arises from a query of a U.S. citizen living in Canada wanting to purchase a political advertisement on Facebook. According to the Advisory Opinion, Facebook requires those purchasing political advertisements provide a U.S. address and to make payments from a U.S. bank account in U.S. dollars, which would preclude the requestor from purchasing the advertising.
While not ruling on Facebook’s preconditions for the purchase of an advertisement, the FEC stated the federal campaign finance law does not require a purchaser to provide Facebook or any other media platform proof of a U.S. bank account or a U.S. residential address. The federal regulations also do not require payment be made from financial instruments drawn on a U.S. bank.
The full six seats of the FEC have only been occupied since December 9, when the U.S. Senate confirmed three new commissioners. This allowed the FEC, where only three of the agency’s six seats were filled since July 4, to be able to conduct official business. The FEC requires at least four commissioners to agree on any official action.
June 6, 2018 •
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed lawsuits against Facebook and Google for failing to comply with political advertising laws. Under Washington law, commercial advertisers who provide political advertising during an election campaign must maintain documents and books of account that […]
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed lawsuits against Facebook and Google for failing to comply with political advertising laws.
Under Washington law, commercial advertisers who provide political advertising during an election campaign must maintain documents and books of account that is open for public inspection.
The attorney general contends Facebook and Google have not released political advertising information sponsored through their online platforms when requested by members of the public.
If found guilty, the companies could face a penalty of $10,000 per violation for failing to maintain required information on political advertising sponsored in Washington state elections from 2013 through 2018.
February 9, 2018 •
The Seattle Ethics and Election Commission accused Facebook of not complying with a city political advertisement disclosure law. The law requires companies selling political ads to disclose information about advertisement buys, including information on the exact nature and extent of […]
The Seattle Ethics and Election Commission accused Facebook of not complying with a city political advertisement disclosure law.
The law requires companies selling political ads to disclose information about advertisement buys, including information on the exact nature and extent of such advertisements and names and addresses of purchasers.
Facebook provided records at the request of the Ethics and Election Commission, but those records were inadequate, according to the Ethics and Election Commission.
Facebook could be liable for up to $5,000 per violation.
July 31, 2015 •
Today is the last day Team Intern will be Team Intern. We say goodbye to Elizabeth Scozzaro and Costa Janos as they venture on to continue their college studies. Over the last two months, we have all grown incredibly close. […]
Today is the last day Team Intern will be Team Intern. We say goodbye to Elizabeth Scozzaro and Costa Janos as they venture on to continue their college studies. Over the last two months, we have all grown incredibly close. Every day we met in the first floor kitchen and ate lunch together. We have attended and graduated from Intern Edge, a weekly meeting of Akron area interns to connect us with local leaders and help us to develop as leaders.
We were also able to volunteer at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church’s Good Samaritans, a monthly distribution of food to those in need in the local community. Sans Costa Janos, Team Intern also shoveled mulch at the United Way Day of Action at the Lake Anna YMCA.
Helping Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church prepare for their Grecian food festival in September, we prepared filling for numerous items, most of which involved rolling. We were also blessed with enjoying countless doughnuts and treats from Damascus Road, a local coffee shop throughout the summer provided by Joe May and Michael Beckett.
We bonded outside of work as well, meeting up at Akron RubberDucks games, the local double “A” affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, and enjoy a relaxing evening on Elizabeth Scozzaro’s aunt’s pontoon boat.
Some of Team Intern will be sticking around for a few more weeks. I finish up on the 19th, David Trujillo on the 20th, Sophia Avouris on the 21st, and David Jones back to his normal, year round internship here at State and Federal Communications.
Here is a little bit about each of us.
Elizabeth Scozzaro, a senior marketing and business administration major at Baldwin Wallace University. Also a member of the sorority, Alpha Phi, is best known for making us create a pyramid. Elizabeth Scozzaro spent the summer assisting on projects with Elizabeth Bartz.
Sophia Avouris, the youngest member of Team Intern. Just graduating from high school, Sophia is an incoming freshman to Kent State University and plans to study political science. Sophia worked under Joe May in the Social Media department conducting SEO (Search Engine Optimization) research and Lobby Comply blog posts.
Costa Janos, transferring this year from the University of Kentucky, he is now attending THE Ohio State University as a sophomore studying Finance with a minor in communications. Team Intern never was able to bond with Costa outside of work because of his intensive golf outings. Costa worked with the research department checking primary election dates and tracking legislation.
David Jones, the veteran of the group, studies network administration with Cisco at Stark State College. Has graduated twice from Intern Edge and has at some point helped each intern with an electronic device. David Jones works under Ken Kelewae in the IT department.
David Trujillo, who for a time left us to fulfill his commitment to the Ohio National Guard just rejoined us this past Monday. Trujillo is majoring in public relations and organizational communications with minors in Arabic and creative writing. Oh, and he is studying for the LSATs in September. *exhale* David Trujillo also worked with the research department throughout the summer.
I, Nikos Frazier, am a junior photojournalism major at Kent State University. Team Intern will never forgive me if I don’t add that I drink tea by the gallon and if I am not drinking tea, I am drinking coffee. I have worked under Joe May in the Social Media department researching SEO research, photographing and blogging events attended by State and Federal Communications and lately researching the 2016 presidential Candidates’ social media accounts and usage.
As we all part ways, we will always remember this summer. For most of us this is our first internship. State and Federal Communications has given us incredible opportunities. We have been able to perform numerous community outreach to help give back to Akron. Intern Edge stressed how great Akron is and how we, Millennials, need to comeback and create an even greater Akron. But even if we do not return to Akron, we know now the importance to give back to the community, create a network and help create something great.
So as I try to finish this post in a great way, I am at a loss of words. So I leave everyone with Korean Proverb I learned while visiting Seoul, South Korea this last March, “Aim high in your career, but stay humble in your heart.”
Goodbye Team Intern, and for once more, “Team Intern Unite!”
July 31, 2015 •
National: A Dream Undone New York Times – Jim Rutenberg | Published: 7/29/2015 August 6 is the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act. It eliminated literacy tests and other Jim Crow tactics, and in a key provision […]
A Dream Undone
New York Times – Jim Rutenberg | Published: 7/29/2015
August 6 is the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act. It eliminated literacy tests and other Jim Crow tactics, and in a key provision called Section 5 required seven states with histories of black disenfranchisement to submit any future change in statewide voting law for approval by federal authorities. In 2008, for the first time, black turnout was nearly equal to white turnout, and Barack Obama was elected the nation’s first black president. Since then, however, the legal trend has abruptly reversed. The rollback of the law was the result of a little-known part of the civil rights story. It involves a largely Republican countermovement of ideologues and partisan operatives who methodically set out to undercut or dismantle its most important requirements.
Facebook Expands in Politics, and Campaigns Find Much to Like
New York Times – Ashley Parker | Published: 7/29/2015
While it is no surprise that campaigns are devoting a greater share of their budget and energy on digital initiatives, Facebook, already a major player in past cycles, has been working to expand its digital dominance in the political realm. Facebook, which has 189 million monthly users in the U.S., has pitched its tools and services to every presidential campaign in the 2016 race, not to mention down-ballot races, to showcase new features as candidates seek to reach and recruit new supporters and potential donors. Some estimate that 2016 will usher in roughly $1 billion in online political advertising, and Facebook says it is on track to increase its revenue from previous cycles.
Billionaire Donors Bypass K Street
Roll Call – Kate Ackley | Published: 7/29/2015
The most politically generous billionaires invest almost unlimited personal resources in supporting federal candidates and super PACs. But the hedge funds and other companies that fuel their bank accounts put up a relatively small amount of cash toward disclosed federal lobbying, according to a Roll Call survey of the top 25 donors. Some of the firms founded or owned by the biggest donors leave no paper trail revealing any history of lobbying work. But even when they do not list a roster of pricey hired help from K Street, these top donors and their companies still exert influence.
D.N.C. Lifts Ban on Convention Fundraising
New York Times – Maggie Haberman | Published: 7/23/2015
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) lifted its ban on contributions from PACs and lobbyists for its convention fundraising and for the accounts it shares with presidential campaigns. Both limitations were put in place by Barack Obama, who was seeking to change the influence of money in Washington. The DNC will continue its policy of not accepting donations from PACs and lobbyists for its general fundraising operations. Allowing such contributions to the joint fundraising committee was something that Hillary Clinton’s campaign encouraged, and Congress last year eliminated public funding for the national conventions.
From the States and Municipalities:
Arkansas – Ethics Panel Reaffirms Past Ruling on Ticket Sales to Legislators
Arkansas News – John Lyon (Arkansas News Bureau) | Published: 7/24/2015
Regardless of whether the preferential treatment comes from the University of Arkansas itself or from the Razorback Foundation, lawmakers cannot get access to Razorback tickets unless they pay the same fees as everyone else, the state Ethics Commission ruled. University officials had argued the school and its athletic booster club are separate entities and restrictions on gifts from lobbyists do not apply to the foundation. The commission disagreed.
Missouri – McCaskill Calls for Advocacy Group to Give Missouri Capital Interns ‘Someone to Talk to’
KCUR – Jo Mannies | Published: 7/29/2015
State Sen. Paul LeVota resigned recently after being accused of sexually harassing an intern, but U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill contends the real issue is that little has changed. She was an intern at the Missouri Capitol 41 years ago. “I am bitterly disappointed that the climate has not changed significantly since 1974,” McCaskill said, recalling her own experiences with off-color jokes and unsolicited sexual comments. And she remembers the self-doubt of what she should do. That is why McCaskill is suggesting that a special advocacy organization be set up to simply give interns a non-threatening source to talk to, where they could get constructive information about how to file a formal complaint and even hire a lawyer.
Missouri – Missouri’s ‘Wild West’ Campaign-Finance Rules Are Making Candidates Look Terrible
National Journal – Karyn Bruggeman | Published: 7/23/2015
A handful of states have no limits on who can donate to candidates or how much, but Missouri is the only one with the combination of no limits on campaign donations or lobbyist gifts, and no laws on the books to prevent elected officials from immediately becoming lobbyists after leaving office. For candidates looking to raise money, the laissez-faire approach is a boon. But when it comes time to explain to voters where that cash came from and what it was for, candidates are often left without good answers. That has been particularly true of the start of the state’s 2016 governor’s race.
Nebraska – Number of Groups Hiring Nebraska Lobbyists Reaches New High
Seattle Post-Intelligencer – Grant Schulte (Associated Press) | Published: 7/28/2015
Common Cause Nebraska said the number of groups hiring lobbyists rose to a record 527 this year, from 506 in 2014. The groups spent nearly $14.1 million last year to influence lawmakers, most of which went to lobbyists. The report calls for more specific disclosure requirements, including a breakdown of lobbyist expenses per elected official and creating a separate reporting category for food and beverages. Nebraska should prohibit lobbyists from bundling campaign contributions and ban all in-session fundraisers.
Nevada – Nevada Lobbyists Spend Record Amount on Legislators
Las Vegas Review-Journal – Sandra Chereb | Published: 7/24/2015
Lobbyists in Nevada spent $153,079 to entertain and influence state lawmakers during this year’s legislative session. The record amount is up nearly 26 percent over the $121,594 reported by lobbyists two years ago. Lobbyists are required to report how much they spend on gifts, group events, and entertainment provided to lawmakers for each month of the session. The entertainment category includes cost of meals and beverages when a lobbyist picks up the tab. The cost of group events – receptions, luncheons, dinners, or other events where every legislator is invited – totaled $149,777. Individual entertainment expenses were $2,176.
Ohio – City Council Officials Got Box Seats at Ohio State Game
Columbus Dispatch – Lucas Sullivan | Published: 7/26/2015
Days after John Raphael abstained from voting on a food-and-beverage contract for the Greater Columbus Convention Center because of a conflict-of-interest, he escorted four Columbus City Council members to the Big Ten Conference Championship football game. Raphael said he removed himself from the convention authority’s food-vendor selection process because he represented Centerplate, the company that was then bidding for and now holds the contract, as a statewide lobbyist. Raphael and his relationships with elected officials have come under scrutiny after he was implicated in the bribery scheme involving Redflex, the company that had the contract for red-light cameras in Columbus.
Oregon – Ethics Reforms after Kitzhaber: Going slow means getting it right, Oregon lawmakers argue
Portland Oregonian – Denis Theriault | Published: 7/29/2015
The day before Gov. John Kitzhaber quit amid influence-peddling allegations, Republicans in the Oregon Legislature seized on the scandal to introduce sweeping ethics reforms. They wanted to set strict rules for the governor’s partner, allow lawmakers to impeach statewide officials, and increase access to public records, among other changes. But when lawmakers adjourned in July, none of those ideas had advanced. Only three milder bills drafted by Gov. Kate Brown became law. Some Republicans say Democratic leaders played politics to keep the state’s minority party from scoring points. But other officials, including Brown, say they are intentionally taking it slow, especially in the absence of criminal charges spelling out whether Kitzhaber and former first lady Cylvia Hayes broke any laws.
Pennsylvania – Pa. Congressman Fattah Indicted on Corruption Charges from 2007 Mayor’s Race
Washington Post – Paul Kane and Mike DeBonis | Published: 7/29/2015
U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah and four associates were indicted on racketeering conspiracy charges, accused of misusing hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer, charity, and campaign funds. Fattah is accused of misusing money from his unsuccessful 2007 bid for mayor of Philadelphia. Prosecutors allege Fattah used federal grants and donations to his educational foundation to pay back part of a campaign supporter’s $1 million loan and helped arrange a $15 million federal grant for a nonexistent nonprofit in lieu of a $130,000 payment to a political consultant after his failed mayoral run.
Texas – Appeals Court Rejects One Count in Perry Indictment
Texas Tribune – Patrick Svitek | Published: 7/24/2015
A state appeals court dropped one of the two felony charges that former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is facing. He was indicted last summer on criminal charges of abuse of power and coercion of a public servant. The case surrounds an episode during which Perry was accused of trying to use his powers as governor to make an elected official step down after being charged with drunken driving. The court dismissed the coercion of a public servant charge against Perry on the grounds that it violates his right to free speech under the First Amendment. He still faces the abuse of official capacity charge, which carries a prison sentence of five to 99 years.
Virginia – Clinton Donors Also Pumped Millions into McAuliffe’s Coffers
Washington Post – Laura Vozzella | Published: 7/29/2015
More than 175 contributors to the Clinton Foundation and to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign have dug deep into their wallets for Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, often giving prolifically despite little or no connection to the state. Of the $60 million that McAuliffe has raised for his two gubernatorial bids, inauguration, PAC, and the Virginia Democratic Party, nearly $18 million has come from contributors to the Clinton Foundation or to Hillary Clinton’s current campaign. The substantial overlap highlights how intimately McAuliffe’s political universe is intertwined with that of Bill and Hillary Clinton, for whom McAuliffe has been a fundraiser and close friend.
Wisconsin – Emails Show Contact between GAB Head and IRS Mostly Personal in Nature
Wisconsin Radio Network – Andrew Beckett | Published: 7/27/2015
An opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal raised the possibility of a coordinated effort by Wisconsin Government Accountability Board Director Kevin Kennedy and former IRS Director of Exempt Organizations Lois Lerner to target conservative political groups for investigation. Wisconsin officials have now released 138 pages of emails between Kennedy and Lerner. Most of the messages discuss dinner and travel plans, or updates about family. A handful of include IRS policy updates or repost articles about campaign finance debates. Lerner also included Kennedy on several lengthy email forwards featuring humorous photo collections about friendship and other jokes.
State and Federal Communications produces a weekly summary of national news, offering more than 60 articles per week focused on ethics, lobbying, and campaign finance.
June 20, 2014 •
On June 18, the Kansas Ethics Commission dismissed a complaint accusing a candidate of soliciting contributions from lobbyists through social media, according to the Kansas City Star. On May 1, while the Legislature was still in session, a Facebook page […]
On June 18, the Kansas Ethics Commission dismissed a complaint accusing a candidate of soliciting contributions from lobbyists through social media, according to the Kansas City Star.
On May 1, while the Legislature was still in session, a Facebook page for former state Sen. Jean Schodorf’s campaign was posted seeking help to raise money for her political campaign for secretary of state. Clay Barker, the state GOP executive director, made a complaint after a lobbyist “liked” the page. State law prohibits candidates from seeking contributions from lobbyists while the Legislature is in session.
Schodorf told the Star the commission informed her they found no probable cause to believe she violated the law and dismissed the complaint.
July 18, 2012 •
Here is the latest news about government technology and social media:
“Wash. to unveil voter registration on Facebook” by Rachel La Corte (Associated Press) in the Seattle Times.
“How the New iPhone Will Expose Cities Lagging on Open Data” by Emily Badger in The Atlantic Cities.
“Political Ad Database Debuted by FCC” by Brian Heaton in Government Technology.
“Legislating Social Media in the States” by Dylan Scott in Governing.
July 11, 2012 •
Social media is playing a high profile role in the 2012 political campaigns and these articles seek to make sense of the latest trends:
“Facebook Wants to Be the ‘Second Screen’ of Election 2012 Coverage” by Zoe Fox in Mashable.
“Facebook will be a key part of the 2012 election” in the Capitol Column.
“Social Fundraising Platform Rally To Launch One-Click Donations” by Sarah Lai Stirland in TechPresident.
Also, be sure to take a look at:
“A Politician’s Guide to Social Media (VIDEO)” in Government Technology.
Video courtesy of Govgirlblog on YouTube.
April 5, 2012 •
Stay on top of the latest news and discussions covering government technology and use of social media:
“Twitter, Facebook now tools for Big Brother” by David Saleh Rauf in Politico.
“Blending Governance and Twitter” by Chrystia Freeland in The New York Times.
“Social media as election predictor? Not so fast” by Puja Murgai on Politico.
“A Road Map Emerges for State Digital Preservation” by Noelle Knell in Government Technology.
“Louisville government rated among top 10 social media cities” by Thomas McAdam in the Louisville City Hall Examiner.
This articles talks about the trend toward tagging objects in the physical world in order to track it all with the internet and mobile devices: “Internet of Things Comes to Government” from Government Technology.
How does your state measure up in providing high speed internet access? “States Race to Improve Broadband Speeds” by Mike Maciag in Government Technology.
The State Department held a social media contest where the participants were given the task of finding fake jewel thieves. MIT’s Team Crowdscanner was the winner: “MIT team thinks outside the box to snag social media prize” by Andrew Lapin in Nextgov.
Here is a Govloop discussion “What Are Your Tech Needs for Teleworking?” posted by Pat Fiorenza.
March 21, 2012 •
A new Facebook app for tracking legislation, government social media skeptics, and California gets a new Director of the Office of Technology Services:
Federal: “New Facebook Open Graph App Makes Lawmaking Social, Brings House Bills To The Crowds” by Sarah Lai Stirland in TechPresident. Here is the link to the new Citizen Cosponsor app.
Federal: “Social media challenges federal oversight of agency communications” by Alice Lipowicz in Federal Computer Week.
State and Local: “Social Media Still Has Skeptics in Government” by Matt Williams in Government Technology.
California: “Y2K Expert to Lead California’s Technology Services” by Ashley Nelson in Government Technology.
New Jersey: “Morris County named a best case example of e-government” by The Independent Press on NJ.com.
March 6, 2012 •
Here is a look at Super Tuesday through the lens of Facebook and Twitter:
“Can social media predict election outcomes?” by Jon Swartz in USA Today.
“Twitter and The Countdown To Super Tuesday” by Shea Bennett on All Twitter.
“Romney to Win Republican Nomination, Facebook Says” by Kate Knibbs in Mobiledia.
“Facebook users not talking about Rick Santorum (infographic)” by Emil Protalinski on ZDNet.
“Will Romney’s Facebook fans help win Super Tuesday?” by Athima Chansanchai on MSNBC’s Digital Life.
“Santorum’s Facebook Fans Silent Before Super Tuesday” by Jennifer Moire on All Facebook.
October 11, 2011 •
TechPresident thinks about what Facebook’s role could be this time around
TechPresident’s article “How Campaigns’ Use of Facebook Data Might Change the 2012 Election” by Nick Judd explores the role Facebook may play in the 2012 presidential election.
The social media platform not only provides a good civic space for broadcasting political messages, but Judd discusses how services like NGP Van can use Facebook friend lists to find precisely targeted audiences for campaign messages.
June 16, 2011 •
Latest news from the FEC regarding political campaign ads on Facebook.
At a meeting yesterday, the Federal Election Commission discussed Facebook’s request for a waiver from being required to have disclaimer statements revealing who paid for political ads that appear on its social network.
According to the FEC site, “The Commission discussed and voted on two draft Advisory Opinions but did not reach consensus on either draft. In its request, Facebook asked whether its small, character-limited ads qualify for the ‘small items’ or ‘impracticable’ exceptions from the disclaimer requirements of the Act and Commission regulations.”
According to the FEC, an “impracticable exception does not apply to Facebook’s ads” because Facebook determines the size of the ads itself and is not limited in space by the medium. The commission says there are technological solutions for providing the necessary disclaimers. Citing the California Fair Political Practices Commission‘s regulations regarding ads, the FEC said the solution may be found by using “roll-over displays,” placing disclaimers on landing pages, or by “other technological means.”
The Hill reported today on the issue in: “Both parties back Facebook’s request for waiver on campaign ads” by Gautham Nagesh. As the article points out, “Facebook will continue to sell ads to candidates and campaigns and … [c]andidates such as President Obama have already begun running campaign ads on the ubiquitous social network.”
Here is the FEC page with links to the advisory opinion drafts.
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