Compliance Notes - Vol. 3, Issue 29
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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Campaign Finance & Lobbying Compliance
Alaska: Advertising disclaimers and disclosure requirements for contributions greater than $2,000 given to or received by independent expenditure groups will remain in effect for Alaska’s August 16th primary and the special election for its lone U.S. House seat. A federal judge refused a request to block the new campaign finance requirements that Alaska voters approved in a 2020 ballot measure. The judge found the plaintiffs challenging the new disclosure requirements had not demonstrated a likelihood of success on their claims and emphasized the Supreme Court’s directive that “lower federal courts should ordinarily not alter ... election rules on the eve of an election.” (Becky Bohrer, AP News)
California: The Oakland City Council recently passed the “democracy dollars” program, so Oakland voters will be asked on the November 8th ballot if they want the city to give each voter $100 in campaign vouchers that they could donate to candidates of their choice. The public financing program is designed to level the playing field by putting campaign funds in voters’ hands. The “democracy dollars” are broken into four $25 vouchers that voters can assign to certified city and school board candidates, which expire 30 days after the election. If the legislation passes, it will go into effect for the 2024 election. (Callie Rhoades, Oakland North)
Florida: Tallahassee city commissioners unanimously approved a 10-year ban on lobbying for anyone convicted of fraud-related crimes, including bribery, theft and honest services fraud. The commissioners aim to prevent anyone convicted of such crimes from quickly returning to try to influence elected officials. Commissioners also approved an increase in lobbyist registration fees, so lobbyists will have to pay a $500 annual registration fee when they previously paid $25 per client. (Karl Etters, Tallahassee Democrat)
Georgia: In the latest development in the wide-spanning investigation into whether Georgia’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams’ 2018 campaign coordinated with groups to help get her elected, the State Ethics Commission dismissed two charges against her 2018 campaign. The commission relied on documentation and forms showing that Abrams’ campaign did not illegally receive donations from two supporting organizations and cleared up questions about an expense charged during the 2018 campaign. (Stanley Dunlop, Georgia Recorder)
Government Ethics & Transparency
Alabama: The Alabama Ethics Commission unanimously voted that it does not have to disclose exculpatory material to a person accused of violating state ethics laws during an investigation. The Alabama attorney general’s office argued the accused had the right to access such information, but the commission raised concerns about its investigatory nature, the ethics statute’s language and the potential for discouraging legitimate complaints. The proper authority to assess and disclose exculpatory information would be the district attorney or the attorney general rather than the commission. (Brian Lyman, Montgomery Advertiser)
Colorado: A Colorado judge issued an arrest warrant for indicted Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, who has been accused of tampering with voting equipment. Peters had her bond revoked for leaving the state without seeking court permission to travel, as records show she went to Las Vegas for a conference. Peters recently lost the Republican primary for Colorado’s secretary of state and is facing 10 criminal charges, including conspiracy, criminal impersonation, identity theft and official misconduct. (Rebecca Falconer, Axios)
New York: New York’s Board of Elections determined that U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin’s gubernatorial campaign submitted roughly 13,000 invalid signatures to appear on the ballot as a third-party candidate. Zeldin won New York’s Republican primary for governor last month and was seeking to have his name appear on an additional line of the ballot as an Independence Party candidate. To qualify to appear on one of the third-party lines, a candidate must submit 45,000 signatures of registered voters. Zeldin’s campaign fell short of the threshold since the board ruled that about 13,000 of the roughly 52,000 signatures submitted were invalid. (Axios)