Compliance Notes – Vol. 1, Issue 15
RECENT LOBBYING, ETHICS & CAMPAIGN FINANCE UPDATES
We read the news, cut through the noise and provide you the notes.
Welcome to Compliance Notes from Nossaman’s Government Relations & Regulation Group – a periodic digest of the headlines, statutory and regulatory changes, and court cases involving campaign finance, lobbying compliance, election law, and government ethics issues at the federal, state, and local level.
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Florida: Secretary of State Laurel Lee and Florida Council of the Blind finalized a deal allowing blind voters to fill out ballots secretly at home in Miami-Dade, Nassau, Orange, Pinellas and Volusia counties. The agreement requires statewide implementation of the process by March 2022. (News 4 Jax)
Massachusetts: Citing the constitutional right to run for office and vote for a candidate who has satisfied the requirements to stand for office, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the electronic signatures to place Helen Brady as a candidate on the Republican primary ballot were sufficient despite the fact that they were not in “native” format, as previously required by the Court’s Goldstein decision. (Slip Opinion)
Pennsylvania: Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar announced that the Pennsylvania Department of State will provide funding for postage, allowing all eligible voters to return their mail-in and absentee ballots at no cost for the 2020 general election. (Press Release)
Rhode Island: U.S. District Judge Mary S. McElroy plans to issue an order that will suspend witness and notary rules for Rhode Island mail ballots for this fall’s election cycle. The order settles a suit between the plaintiffs — who sued over the signature requirements — and the defendants, R.I. Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea and the R.I. Board of Elections. (Steph Machado, WPRI)
Texas: Gov. Greg Abbott extended the early voting period for the November election by six days. Early voting will now begin October 13 instead of October 19. The end date remains October 30. (Patrick Svitek, Texas Tribune)
The House Ethics Committee fined Arizona Rep. David Schweikert $50,000 and reprimanded him on the House floor for violating federal law and House rules. Schweikert allowed his office to misuse taxpayer money, skirted Federal Election Commission reporting requirements, used campaign money for personal use and pressured his staff to engage in campaign work. (Chris Marquette, Rollcall)
Maryland: Former Baltimore Del. Cheryl Glenn was sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to pay $18,750 in restitution. She acknowledged in a January plea agreement that she asked for and received bribes to carry out political favors related to the medical marijuana industry she helped build. (Jessica Anderson, Baltimore Sun)
North Dakota: North Dakota's Ethics Commission is asking for an attorney general opinion to clarify its "authority to expand on the definition of 'lobbyist' as it relates to gifts." (Jack Dura, Bismarck Tribune)
Nevada: The effort to amend the state constitution to turn once-a-decade redistricting over to an independent commission appears dead after political action committee Fair Maps Nevada was able to collect only 12,000 of the nearly 100,000 signatures that would have been necessary to place the amendment on the November ballot. The group sued in May for an extension of its signature gathering deadline and the ability to collect signatures online after it became clear that the pandemic would hamper any in-person signature gathering methods the committee planned. A judge granted the extra time, but not a platform for e-signatures. (Amanda Bradford, Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Jersey: A constitutional amendment that would allow New Jersey to delay legislative redistricting if it does not receive census data by February 15 of next year will be on the ballot in November. Should it pass, a new map would not have to be adopted until March 1, 2022 and legislative candidates would run for election in existing districts in 2021. (Nikita Biryukov, New Jersey Globe)
Oregon: Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum intensified her legal battle against a ballot measure that would put the redrawing of political district lines into the hands of a nonpartisan commission. Rosenblum asked U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan to issue an emergency stay blocking attempts to put the measure on the November ballot in Oregon. (Jeff Mapes, OPB)
California: Four men have been sentenced for their roles in a scheme to bribe homeless people on Skid Row with $1 and/or cigarettes in exchange for forged signatures on ballot petitions and voter registration forms. The four pleaded no-contest to charges they subscribed a false name to a petition, registered a fictitious person and circulated an initiative containing false or forged names. Prosecutors say the fraud took place during the 2016 and 2018 elections. (ABC7)
Idaho: The U.S Supreme Court ruled that Reclaim Idaho must stop collecting online signatures for an education funding initiative for the November ballot. Gov. Brad Little requested that the district court’s order allowing online signatures be stayed until the 9th Circuit hears the case and makes a ruling. Arguments before that court are scheduled for the middle of August. (Keith Ridler, Associated Press)