May 21, 2013 •
Passes major campaign finance changes on final day
The Alabama Legislature adjourned just before midnight on Monday, May 20, 2013, but not before passing major changes to the state’s Fair Campaign Practices Act.
The most significant change is the elimination of limits on corporate contributions to candidates and political action committees. Under the new law, corporations will be permitted to contribute in the same manner as individuals, who are not subject to any contribution limits, with the exception of retaining the state’s pay-to-play prohibition on contributions to the Public Service Commission by utilities the commission regulates. The bill also makes 527 organizations subject to the ban on PAC-to-PAC transfers and adds enforcement and penalty provisions.
The Secretary of State’s Office will release information regarding the effective date of these provisions since the law must first receive Department of Justice preclearance before it becomes enforceable.
September 27, 2012 •
Campaign Finance, Lobbying, Pay-toPlay, Ethics and more
“Trade groups fear gift ban after the election” by Kevin Bogardus in The Hill.
Florida: “Senate president scolds lobbyists who opposed his candidates” by Mary Ellen Klas in the Tampa Bay Times.
Campaign Finance, Campaigns and Elections
“How the presidential campaigns are spending money, in one chart” by Sean Sullivan in the Washington Post.
“‘Super PACs’ Finally a Draw for Democrats” by Nicholas Confessore in the New York Times.
“Money trouble: Barack Obama faces a cash gap in the final weeks of the campaign” in The Economist.
“Attentive.ly, a Tool to Mine Your Supporters’ Minds, Just Launched” by Miranda Neubauer in TechPresident.
“Goldman Sachs Will Pay $14.4 Million to Settle Pay-to-Play Cases” by Joshua Gallu, Michael McDonald, and Christine Harper in Bloomberg’s Businessweek.
“Watchdog Groups Urge House Leaders to Fill Vacancies on Ethics Board” by Janie Lorber in Roll Call.
California: “After shoplifting plea, lawmaker seeks another office” by Michael J. Mishak in the Los Angeles Times.
Maryland: “Alston’s Maryland law license lifted for ethical violations” by David Hill in the Washington Times.
“New federal contracting jobs site launches” by Kedar Pavgi in Government Executive.
May 25, 2011 •
Mayor Corey A. Booker has signed a new pay-to-play ordinance into law, specifically aimed at city redevelopers. The new ordinance bars redevelopers from contracting with the city if a contribution, or pledge of a contribution, over $300 has been made one year prior to the contract.
Redeveloper is defined to mean any person or entity entering into a contract with the city, or with another redeveloper, for the rehabilitation of any area in the city. The definition includes those with a 10-percent or greater ownership in the entity, partners, officers, subsidiaries, and spouses and adult children living at home.
Any group of individuals from the contracting entity cannot contribute in the aggregate in excess of $3,000. Contribution and disclosure requirements will also be required from lobbyists, professionals, and consultants working for a redeveloper if his or her work relates to the subject contract. A redeveloper who violates the ordinance is barred from future redevelopment agreements for four calendar years.
The ordinance takes effect June 2nd.
Photo of Newark at night by Jamaalcobbs at en.wikipedia.
September 8, 2010 •
Governor Chris Christie announced a series of ethics reform measures, including those intent on closing pay-to-play loopholes and curtailing the unlimited transfer of campaign money between county and municipal committees.
The proposal would end the “fair and open contract” exception for businesses which make reportable campaign contributions at the legislative, county, and municipal levels, yet are able to receive contract awards valued greater than $17,500 with local governments – a practice not permitted at the state or gubernatorial level. The new legislation would also restrict the practice of “wheeling” by imposing contribution limitations on county and municipal committees which transfer money between committees and transfer committee contributions to out-of-county or out-of-municipality candidates.
August 26, 2010 •
A ballot initiative in Alaska to put limits on lobbying and campaign donations was overwhelmingly defeated during the state’s Tuesday primary.
Ballot Measure 1 was touted as a way to increase transparency in lobbying and end “pay to play” politics. The measure was strongly and publicly opposed by unions, local governments, and business groups who were concerned the measure would have quieted the voice of many Alaskans in the political arena.
For further reading:
“Ballot Measure 1 soundly rejected,” by Lisa Demer in the Anchorage Daily News.
“Ballot Measure 1 rejected by wide margin,” by Ted Land on KTUU.com.
July 14, 2010 •
The Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) discusses its Pay-to-Play priority recommendation to the state legislature in its July, 2010 newsletter which is now available on-line.
ELEC recommends four Pay-to-Play reform steps it would like to see passed into law. First, ELEC recommends any reform of Pay-to-Play regulations should address the patchwork quilt of local Pay-to-Play laws which have developed over time. Current state law allows municipalities and counties to adopt their own ordinances provided they are consistent with the theme of “Pay-to-Play”. The lack of a standardized Pay-to-Play theme across jurisdictions has led to a myriad collection of laws which vary from place to place throughout the state.
Second, ELEC would like to see the confusing “Fair and Open” loophole as it is known, closed at the local level. “Fair and Open” allows local governments to forego the Pay-to-Play rules where bids are publicly advertised. In such a case, the $300 campaign contribution limit imposed by state law does not apply if a local jurisdiction has its own procedures for bidding and awarding contracts.
Third, ELEC asks for every public contract over $17,500 to be subject to disclosure requirements which are now reserved for vendors whose contracts exceed $50,000 statewide. Finally, ELEC would like to see the campaign contribution limit raised above $300. Citing the high cost of media advertising in New Jersey, ELEC states that the present limits provided by law are comparatively low.
The commission explains it is mindful of public concerns regarding the presence of money in politics. That said, ELEC feels its recommendations regarding contribution limits would be offset by corresponding enhancements to disclosure requirements. The ELEC newsletter may be found at: www.elec.state.nj.us .
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