Compliance Notes - Vol. 3, Issue 49
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
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) passed a new digital advertisement disclosure rule requiring anyone who places political advertising on the internet to disclose within the ad who paid for it. The new rule expands the definition of "public communication" to encompass paid digital ads on another person's website, digital device, application or advertising platform. For more insight about the new rule and how it could impact internet advocacy communications in the 2024 election cycle, see our recent eAlert, "New Internet Communications Rules Issued in Time for 2024 Election." (Nossaman eAlert)
Representative Diana Harshbarger (R-TN) is among a growing group of politicians and political actors to experience theft from their federal campaign accounts, as records show cyber thieves stole more than $186,000 from her campaign committee. While Harshbarger's campaign recouped the lost funds, other prominent political committees have lost millions in recent years, including President Joe Biden's 2020 presidential campaign and the Republican National Committee. Harshbarger is open to supporting legislation in the next Congress to improve cybersecurity for people affected by financial crimes. (Dave Levinthal, Business Insider)
Former Congressman David Rivera (R-FL) was arrested in connection with an ongoing probe into his work with Venezuela's government. He is facing charges of conspiring against the U.S., failing to register as a foreign agent and engaging in illegal financial transactions, including money laundering. (Gary Fineout, Politico)
Government Ethics & Transparency
According to a complaint filed by a government watchdog organization with the Senate Select Committee on Ethics, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) may have violated federal ethics laws by accepting podcast production services from iHeartMedia. Federal law prohibits senators from accepting gifts from a registered lobbyist, and Senate rules provide that services can qualify as gifts. Since 2003 iHeartMedia has spent $48 million lobbying members of Congress. Last quarter, iHeartMedia also lobbied on two bills appearing before a committee on which Senator Cruz is a member. The Senate Committee will evaluate whether the services provided by iHeartMedia qualify as gifts, and if it finds that the deal does qualify, the committee will need to assess whether the deal fits within any of the many exceptions to the gift rule. (Zach Everson, Forbes)
Alabama: The Alabama attorney general filed a lawsuit against the Alabama Ethics Commission seeking to invalidate a recent advisory opinion stating that when exculpatory evidence is uncovered during an investigation, the commission has no responsibility to disclose such information to individuals under investigation. The attorney general argues that failing to disclose the information violates the Brady rule and undermines the "entire purpose" of the Ethics Commission. The commission maintains that the advisory opinion accurately reflects existing case law, and such precedent binds the commission. (Josh Moon, Alabama Political Reporter)
Elections & Voting
The Democratic National Committee's (DNC) Rules and Bylaws Committee formally approved a proposal to change the Democratic party's presidential primary calendar, making South Carolina the first state. Iowa and New Hampshire have held the top two spots on the presidential nominating calendar for decades. Under the proposal, New Hampshire and Nevada would be next in the early window, followed by Georgia and Michigan, two states that would move up to the early slate if the new plan is approved. The proposal now goes to the full DNC, which will vote on ratification early next year. (Barbara Sprunt, NPR)
Missouri: Missouri state representative Melanie Stinnett (R) pre-filed a bill for the 2023 Regular Session that would restore voting eligibility for people with past felony convictions once released from incarceration. Under current law, people with past felony convictions have voting eligibility restored once they complete all parole and probation terms. The bill would not change the permanent disenfranchisement of individuals convicted of election-related offenses. If the bill passes, Missouri will join 23 other states that allow people to vote following release from incarceration. (Liz Avore, Voting Rights Lab) (H.B. 248)