Compliance Notes – Vol. 1, Issue 2
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.
Here, we are expanding upon our eAlerts (where we provide substantive analysis on key issues), to deliver 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. Our goal is to provide relevant, timely updates in an easily skimmable format so you can identify the content that is important to you, click through to the article, and reach out to your attorney, policy advisor, or compliance consultant with any questions or to discuss exactly how an issue may impact your business.
If there is a particular subject or jurisdiction you’d like to see covered, please let us know.
Until then, please enjoy this installment of Compliance Notes. If you would like to have these updates delivered directly to your in-box, please click below to subscribe to our Government Relations & Regulation mailing list.
Campaign Finance & Lobbying Compliance
For a complete list of COVID-related State and Federal regulatory agency updates, please click here.
California: The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to send vote-by-mail ballots to every voter registered for the November general election, citing concerns about COVID-19 related social distancing. (ABC 7 Los Angeles)
Florida: Florida Republicans may continue to benefit from the “primacy effect,” (i.e., an artificial boost in the vote for candidates listed first on the ballot) after a federal appeals court nullified a lower court decision that declared unconstitutional a Florida law awarding the most prominent place on every ballot to the governor's party. (David Hawkings, The Fulcrum)
Georgia: After a virtual hearing last week, a federal judge ruled that Georgia voters will not receive new prepaid, returnable absentee ballot envelopes with free postage for the June 9 primary election. Voters and fair election advocates argued that Georgia’s mail-in ballots impose an unconstitutional poll tax by requiring the increased number of absentee voters during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide their own postage stamps. The judge said in her ruling that the request is not realistic given the timeframe. (Erika Williams, Courthouse News Service)
Indiana: A dozen people, including two members of the nonprofit Indiana Vote by Mail, filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the Indiana Election Commission and Indiana Secretary of State to expand no-excuse absentee voting to the November general election. The lawsuit contends the state's election law allowing some -- but not all -- registered voters to vote by mail violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the Equal Privileges and Immunities Clause of the Indiana Constitution. (CNHI News Indiana)
Nevada: A federal judge rejected a request by True the Vote, a Texas-based voting monitoring group, to block the planned all-mail election over concerns of voter fraud. The judge said the motion lacked standing and that Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske’s office was well within its rights to move to an all-mail election in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Riley Snyder, The Nevada Independent)
New York: A federal judge ordered New York to reinstate its canceled June 23 Democratic presidential primary, with all qualifying candidates restored to the ballot. The decision, in response to a lawsuit by former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, was cheered by supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who has suspended his campaign for the Democratic nomination, but is hoping to continue to amass delegates to hold leverage over the party's platform. (Matt Stevens and Nick Corasaniti, New York Times)
Chiafalo v. Washington and Colorado Department of State v. Baca, two cases involving “faithless electors” (i.e., Electoral College delegates who fail to vote for the presidential candidate they were pledged to support), will be heard by the Supreme Court on Wednesday, May 13. At issue is whether states can punish or remove such electors in order to ensure that the state's electors accurately represent the state's vote. For the first time in history, the audio will be available, live, to the public beginning at 10 a.m. ET. (Nina Totenberg, NPR)
The Senate Rules Committee is scheduled to vote on the nomination of Trey Trainor to serve as a Commissioner on the Federal Election Commission on May 7, 2020.
North Dakota: North Dakota's five-member, voter-approved Ethics Commission rolled out its website where users can find complaint forms, meeting minutes and board information. So far, they’ve received three complaints and dismissed all of them on jurisdictional grounds. (Jack Dura, Bismarck Tribune)
Massachusetts: Massachusetts is now the first state to allow electronic signatures for 2020 ballot initiative petitions. Ballot initiative sponsors in Arkansas, Montana, Arizona, Colorado, Ohio and Oklahoma have also filed lawsuits seeking relief from signature deadlines and requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Victoria Antram, Ballotpedia News)
Delaware: Delaware will allow voters with disabilities to cast their ballots online during the upcoming primary election next month. (Maggie Miller, The Hill)
Pennsylvania: A federal judge in Philadelphia rejected a push from former Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein to decertify Philadelphia’s new voting machines in advance of the June 2 primary over concerns they could be vulnerable to hacking. (Jeremy Roebuck, The Philadelphia Inquirer)
Utah: The Utah Republican Party held its convention with 93% of delegates using blockchain technology to participate. (Robert Anzalone, Forbes)
North Dakota: A federal judge approved an agreement between North Dakota and American Indian tribes to settle a dispute over the state’s requirement that voters have identification with a provable street address. The tribes claimed such a requirement creates a voting barrier for Native Americans who live on reservations where street addresses are hard to come by. (Blake Nicholson, Bismarck Tribune)
Kansas: The US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled that Kansas’s voter registration rules, which required documentation of citizenship, were unconstitutional as a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause and violated the federal National Voter Registration Act. The Tenth Circuit ruled that the state’s arguments that it needed to tighten controls over voter rolls were insufficient to justify the burden the restrictions imposed on the constitutional right to vote. (Konstantin Toropin and Caroline Kelly, CNN)
Wisconsin: State Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly announced he would lift his recusal in a case that could purge up to 200,000 names from Wisconsin's voter list. Kelly initially recused in connection with his election campaign, which led to a 3-3 deadlock on whether to hear the case on an expedited appeal. (Shawn Johnson, Wisconsin Public Radio)