Compliance Notes - Vol. 4, Issue 45
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
Arizona: An Arizona GOP legislator who was among the rioting crowds at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, is facing a campaign finance complaint alleging that he illegally used cash from a failed re-election bid to attend the events. The complaint filed with the Secretary of State’s Office against Sen. Anthony Kern (R-Glendale) claims that Kern improperly used campaign funds from his failed 2020 re-election – funds including airfare and a hotel stay – to travel to Washington, DC to attend the events of Jan. 6, 2021. Arizona campaign finance law says candidates cannot use campaign cash for activities unrelated to winning their elections. The complaint argues that Kern’s attendance at the rally two months after losing his election constitutes personal use. If the secretary of state believes Kern likely violated campaign finance law, the complaint will be sent to the Attorney General’s Office to determine if the law was broken. If the AG decides that Kern violated the law, he must “take corrective action within twenty days” or face a penalty that can be appealed to the superior court. (Jerod Macdonald-Evoy, Arizona Mirror)
New York: Last week the FBI searched the home of New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ chief election campaign fundraiser, Brianna Suggs, and city officials and local media reported she was questioned by public corruption investigators. Citing a search warrant, The New York Times reported the early morning raid was part of a federal investigation into whether Adam’s 2021 mayoral campaign conspired with a Brooklyn construction company and the Turkish government to funnel foreign money into the campaign through a straw donor scheme. Adams, who was not accused of any wrongdoing in the indictments, has said he and his campaign team had no knowledge of or involvement in the alleged scheme. Public records show Adams’ 2025 election campaign has paid Suggs’s consulting firm, Suggs Solutions, about $98,000 so far. (Jonathan Allen, Reuters)
Government Ethics & Transparency
Alabama: Ahead of planned revision to Alabama’s ethics law, members of the House Ethics and Finance Committee discussed efforts since 2010 to amend the state’s ethics code. The gathering was the third in a series of “work meetings” providing context to legislators planning to amend the state’s ethics code, after an August 2019 report recommended changes including tightening language and offering graduated penalties for specific violations. There will be one more meeting in November, that will conclude the informational portion of the committee before members begin working to craft legislation to update the state’s ethics code just before the 2024 legislative session, that begins in February 2024. (Ralph Chapoco, Alabama Reflector)
Wyoming: Members of the Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee advanced bill drafts that would change the state’s election laws. The proposed legislation would expand the definition of “organization” to include “any group of two (2) or more persons that ... pools or otherwise jointly expends funds totaling in aggregate more than $1,000.” This would make reporting less burdensome by allowing groups to report campaign expenditures or electioneering communications without registering as a PAC. The legislature will consider the bill in the 2024 budget session. (Hannah Shields, Wyoming Tribune Eagle)
Ballot Measures & Elections
Florida: Attorney General Ashley Moody urged the Florida Supreme Court to reject a proposed constitutional amendment that seeks to ensure abortion rights, describing the measure as an effort to “hoodwink” voters. In a 39-page brief, Moody argued that the proposal should be kept off the 2024 ballot because the wording of the ballot summary would be misleading to voters. Moody raised a series of objections to the wording, including contending the word “viability” can have multiple meanings. Among other issues raised in the brief, Moody said the wording about protecting the “patient’s health” does not explain whether it refers to physical health or also mental health. The Supreme Court plays a critical role as it reviews proposed ballot measures to determine if the wording is clear and is limited to single subjects. It can reject initiatives that don’t meet legal standards. (NBC 6)