Compliance Notes - Vol. 3, Issue 12
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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The super PAC American Bridge filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) accusing former President Trump of violating federal campaign finance laws by using his multi-candidate leadership PAC to raise money in excess of federal limits for a 2024 presidential run without officially filing his candidacy. The complaint also asserts that the PAC violated federal campaign finance law by making payments for Trump’s rallies, events at Trump properties, consulting fees to Trump’s former campaign staff and digital advertising about Trump, including his presumptive 2024 opponent. The complaint seeks compelled disclosure of Trump’s expenditures and maximum fines. (Meg Kinnard, Associated Press)
An examination of political giving to federal candidates and PACs during the 2022 election cycle shows that donors from the cryptocurrency industry still primarily make political contributions in U.S. dollars rather than in cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin. (Bill Allison, Bloomberg)
The FEC entered into a settlement agreement with Marathon Petroleum Company, which resulted in Marathon paying a $85,000 civil penalty for making two $500,000 contributions to federal Super PACs in violation of the rule prohibiting federal contractors from making federal political contributions. (Bryan Metzger, Business Insider)
Russian oligarch Andrey Muraviev was indicted by a New York federal grand jury for using Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman to funnel contributions to other politicians. Parnas and Fruman were previously convicted of conspiring to violate the bans against straw donors and contributions from foreign nationals. Muraviev is accused of wiring $1 million to Parnas and Fruman to finance their political contributions in November 2018. Prosecutors allege the money was intended to improve the odds that Muraviev and his coconspirators would get licenses for retail cannabis and marijuana businesses. According to prosecutors, Muraviev’s money was used to finance federal and state political donations in Florida, Nevada and Texas and to pay for donations to New York and New Jersey politicians. Consequently, Muraviev faces two criminal charges: (1) conspiring to make contributions and donations by a foreign national and in the name of another person and (2) making contributions by a foreign national. (Dan Mangan, CNBC) (DOJ Press Release)
Oregon: The Oregon Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge that could have paved the way for a ballot measure limiting political spending to appear on the November ballot. In February, Secretary of State Shemia Fagan rejected three proposed ballot measures to limit campaign contributions for failing to meet technical requirements. Three proponents of the measures challenged Secretary Fagan’s judgment and requested that the court reverse the determination, arguing Secretary Fagan’s interpretation of the Constitution was incorrect. The court, however, ruled that intervening would be inappropriate because the matter should follow the normal process, with the circuit court hearing the case first. The court’s decision likely forecloses the effort to institute campaign finance limits in 2022 because it’s unlikely the matter will be resolved in the circuit and appeals courts with enough time to gather the necessary signatures by the July deadline. (Dirk VanderHart, OPB)
Government Ethics & Transparency
North Carolina: The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations (SBI) confirmed that Mark Meadows (R-NC), a former congressman and President Trump’s chief of staff, is under investigation for alleged voter fraud. The investigation arises from reports that in September 2020 Meadows registered to vote using an address which he allegedly never lived at or even visited. Notably, North Carolina’s voter registration form asks people to list “where you physically live” as their residential address. The North Carolina Attorney General’s Office will review the SBI’s findings once the investigation concludes. (Shawna Chen, Axios)
New Jersey: After remaining in legislative limbo for over a decade, a bill that would expand New Jersey’s bribery law to include candidates for office has begun to move through the legislature. Over the past decade, several politicians have had charges dismissed or convictions overturned despite evidence they accepted bribes intending to grant official favors if elected. Courts have dismissed charges and overturned convictions based on a loophole in the bribery statute, which does not proscribe such conduct by a candidate for public office who does not get elected. The bill, NJ A2472 (22R), works to close the loophole by expanding the bribery statute’s definition of “public servant” to include “any person who is a candidate for public office” and “any person elected but who has not yet assumed office.” The bill advanced out of the Assembly State and Local Government Committee by a 4-0 vote. (Matt Friedman, Politico)