Compliance Notes - Vol. 4, Issue 32
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
U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) introduced the Close the Revolving Door Act of 2023, legislation that would shut the revolving door in Washington by banning Members of Congress from lobbying Congress after leaving office. Under the current ethics rules of each chamber, after leaving office Senators are prohibited from lobbying Congress for two years, and House Members are prohibited from lobbying Congress for one year. However, the Center for Responsive Politics has found that more than 460 former members of Congress are currently lobbyists employed by lobbying firms. The legislation also would create a website to easily search disclosures on lobbying activities, increase disclosure requirements for lobbying firms that employ former Members of Congress or senior congressional staff and increase penalties for violating the Lobbying Disclosure Act from $200,000 to $500,000, among others. (Press Release: Sen. Jon Tester and Close the Revolving Door Act)
Louisiana: The Louisiana Board of Ethics promulgated a final rule increasing the limit for food, drink or refreshments at a single event from $70 to $77. The new limit applies retroactively from July 1, 2023. (Louisiana Board of Ethics, Final Rule)
Mississippi: The Mississippi Attorney General’s Office stated it had alerted Invest in Mississippi PAC and Thomas Datwyler it had opened an investigation into potential criminal violations under the Mississippi Election Code and other statutes. Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann’s campaign filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office, claiming the PAC, which is run by lieutenant governor candidate Chris McDaniel’s campaign treasurer, has violated state campaign finance and reporting laws. The PAC has been running ads across Mississippi attacking Hosemann ahead of the August 8th Primary; in a statement to Magnolia Tribune, Hosemann said the PAC and his main opponent are synonymous. The McDaniel campaign did not respond to comment. (Frank Corder, Magnolia Tribune and Geoff Pender, Mississippi Today)
North Carolina: North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein’s gubernatorial campaign lost more than $50,000 from a “sophisticated scam” that targeted a campaign vendor. Campaign finance reports covering the year’s first six months cited a “fraudulent wire transfer payment.” Campaign spokesperson wrote that a “campaign vendor fell victim to a sophisticated scam,” filed a report with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and has taken precautionary measures. (AP News)
Government Ethics & Transparency
California: A ballot initiative likely to come before California voters in the fall of 2024 would overhaul the state’s open records law, forcing unprecedented scrutiny into lobbying activities at the Capitol and ensuring sexual harassment allegations against lawmakers are public. Under the new proposal, called the Government Transparency Act, legislators would have to disclose lobbying meetings, fundraising events and public events on their websites, and the Legislature would be required to release records relating to misconduct probes. Their records would need to be retained for at least five years and then subject to state archiving laws. The initiative also addresses disclosure of sexual harassment and workplace misconduct; it would require all investigations, not just those determined to be well-founded, to be accessible to the public, so long as they are not deemed frivolous. (Christopher Cadelago and Melanie Mason, POLITICO)
Ballot Measures & Elections
Ohio: Ohio voters rejected a measure known as Issue 1 that would have made it more difficult to amend the state constitution. Issue 1 would have raised the threshold for approving future changes to the state constitution through the ballot box from a simple majority — 50%, plus one vote — to 60%. Issue 1 also would have elevated the standard to place a citizen-initiated amendment on the ballot. The measure would have required that any petition filed after January 1 be signed by at least 5% of the electors of each of Ohio’s 88 counties, based on the total number of votes cast in the last governor’s race. The outcome of the special election maintains the lower bar that has been in place since 1912 and could pave the way for approval of the proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot in November that seeks to protect abortion rights. (Melissa Quinn, CBS News)