Compliance Notes - Vol. 4, Issue 35
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 Jim Risch for U.S. Senate Committee agreed to pay a civil penalty of $4,325 for failing to return or redesignate excessive contributions on time during his 2020 campaign, according to a negotiated settlement between the campaign and the Federal Election Commission (FEC). According to the settlement agreement, Risch’s campaign committee received $58,000 in excessive contributions from individuals during the 2020 election, that were not resolved until after they were identified by an FEC audit. (Mia Maldonado, Idaho Capital Sun)
Oregon: Political nonprofit “Our Oregon” filed two ballot measure proposals that would end-run another proposal for stricter contribution limits, and at the same time propose less strict contribution limits. Our Oregon’s measures would cap the size of political donations, and would allow unions, business associations and other membership organizations to continue sending large dollars amounts to candidates. Campaign finance reform advocates have been trying for years to set statewide limits, and they're currently on track to qualify an initiative for the ballot in 2024. However, Our Oregon is seeking to undermine that effort with a provision that would nullify all proposals for lower contribution limits and dark money transparency requirements. Our Oregon would succeed if voters approve Our Oregon’s plan by as little as one vote. (Hillary Borrud, The Oregonian)
Government Ethics & Transparency
Florida: The Florida Commission on Ethics is reviewing a complaint regarding Miami Mayor Francis Suarez’s attendance at exclusive, high-priced sporting events since the start of 2022. The complaint asks ethics officials to investigate whether somebody else paid for Suarez’s VIP access to the Formula One race in 2022 and 2023 and his trip to Qatar during the 2022 FIFA World Cup. If the commission’s executive director orders an investigation, the process could take time to gather documents and interview witnesses before the commission could determine whether there is probable cause for a violation. A complaint also was filed with the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust, the county-level ethics oversight board. (Sarah Blaskey & Joey Flechas, Miami Herald)
Illinois: Tim Mapes, the longtime chief of staff to former Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, was convicted on charges he lied under oath to a grand jury to protect his old boss. Federal prosecutors had accused Mapes of lying to a grand jury about his knowledge of Madigan’s relationship with longtime confidante Michael McClain from 2017 to 2019, despite being granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for truthful testimony. Jurors deliberated for about five hours before announcing they found Mapes guilty of one count of perjury and one count of attempted obstruction of justice. The perjury charge carries a sentence of up to 5 years, and the obstruction charge carries a sentence of up to 20 years. (Todd Feurer & Suzanne Le Mignot, CBS Chicago)
Kentucky: The ethics trial for Louisville Metro Council Republican Anthony Piagentini ended the week of August 20, 2023, after the ethics commissioners heard three days of witness testimony. Piagentini is accused of advocating for a $40 million grant in exchange for a job with the Louisville Healthcare CEO Council, the local nonprofit that received the grant. The ethics complaint was filed by the head of the Louisville Central Community Centers, that also competed for the grant. The ethics commission has 60 days to issue an opinion and recommendations. (Mark Vanderhoff, WLKY)
Ballot Measures & Elections
Ohio: Attorney General Dave Yost rejected as “confusing and vague” a proposed constitutional amendment to prevent gerrymandering. Coalition Citizens Not Politicians put forward the proposal for the November 2024 ballot that would create a 15-member Ohio Citizens Redistricting Commission comprised of Republican, Democrat and independent citizens who broadly represent the different geographic areas and demographics of the state. The Attorney General must determine whether a submitted summary is a “fair and truthful” representation of the amendment. Yost “identified omissions and misstatements that, as a whole, would mislead a potential signer as to the actual scope and effect of the proposed amendment.” Proponents can resubmit the proposal at any time. (Morgan Trau, WEWS)