Compliance Notes - Vol. 3, Issue 5
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 cryptocurrency industry is preparing for big investments in the upcoming November midterm elections. A group of crypto financiers announced the launch of a super PAC aimed at spending more than $20 million to support congressional candidates ahead of November. The group, GMI PAC, has already received $5.3 million in contributions. GMI PAC says it will support candidates and members of Congress working to provide "consumers and innovators the opportunity to build and use next-generation technologies and services here in America." Sam Sutton, Politico)
Florida: The Collier County manager fired Deputy Manager Sean Callahan from the Collier County Board of County Commissioners. Callahan failed to notify the Board that he worked as a senior policy advisor for a lobbying firm, as required by the County Manager Agency Administrative Practices and Procedures Code of Ethics and Anti-Fraud. (Lydia Nusbaum, NBC-2)
Ohio: The Ohio Ethics Commission submitted a recommendation to state lawmakers to enhance penalties for people or entities convicted of giving unlawful gifts or money to legislators or public agency leaders. A party can give a public official a gift between $75 to $500 annually, depending on who the recipient is and how the gift is given. It is a misdemeanor to give gifts exceeding that amount, punishable by up to $1,000. The Ohio Ethics Commission wants to increase criminal penalties for providing unlawful payments to public officials, including prohibiting participation in future public contracts for five years and authorizing courts to issue fines equal to the value of the unlawful payments. (Jo Ingles, The Statehouse News Bureau) (Ohio Ethics Commission Press Release)
Ballot Measures & Elections
Michigan: A voting rights group in Michigan announced its plans to gather signatures for the Promote the Vote 2022 ballot initiative, with the stated purpose of protecting voter access. The proposal would use public funding to pay for secure ballot drop boxes, postage for absentee ballots and ballot tracking. The initiative would also preserve local governments' authority to accept funding from publicly disclosed sources. This petition comes on the heels of Secure MI Vote, the Republican-backed petition currently in circulation, which aims to make Michigan's election rules stricter. (Samuel J. Robinson, MLive.com)
Pennsylvania: A Pennsylvania trial court ruled that Act 77's no-excuse mail-in voting provision violates the Pennsylvania Constitution because it requires voters to appear in person. In 2019, the Pennsylvania State Legislature passed Act 77, with bi-partisan support, to increase ballot access by expanding mail-in voting, extending voter registration deadlines and removing the straight-ticket option. In striking down the law, the court reasoned that expanded mail-in voting requires specific authorization by constitutional amendment; and until that law is in place, no-excuse mail-in voting cannot take effect. However, Act 77 will remain in place while the Pennsylvania Supreme Court considers the case. (Jonathan Lai and Andrew Seidman, The Philadelphia Inquirer)