Compliance Notes - Vol. 4, 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
Maine: Maine’s Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices unanimously voted to impose a $35,000 fine on a political action committee behind the ‘right to repair’ initiative voters approved in November 2023. After receiving large campaign donations, the Maine Automotive Right to Repair Committee missed notification and reporting deadlines. State law requires ballot question committees–such as the Right to Repair Committee–to send notices to donors who contribute more than $100,000. The committees also must send notices of the large donations to the commission. All five commission members voted in favor of the fine, which was reduced from the $55,000 recommended by commission staff. (Rachel Ohm, Portland Press Herald)(subscription required)
Michigan: Michigan’s Bureau of Elections published the 2024 reporting thresholds, fees and penalties provided under the Lobby Registration Act to reflect the percentage of change in the consumer price index for Detroit. The registration thresholds for individual lobbyist compensation and employer expenditures on a single official increased from $725 to $775. The monthly food and beverage limit increased from $72 to $76, and the annual reporting threshold increased from $450 to $475. The thresholds, fees and penalties are effective from January 1, 2024 through December 31, 2024. (Michigan Department of State, Bureau of Elections)
Government Ethics & Transparency
Rep. Zach Nunn (R-Iowa) introduced legislation that would prevent lawmakers who are expelled from Congress from receiving congressional pensions. The Congressional Pension Accountability bill would specify that members of Congress expelled by their colleagues cannot collect a pension. It would also revoke any government-funded match to the member’s Thrift Savings Plan. Members of Congress convicted of certain felonies relating to the public trust are already ineligible to receive a federal pension. Nunn said the bill closes a gap for members of Congress who have been expelled but not convicted. (Stephen Gruber-Miller, Des Moines Register)
California: Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass announced Thursday that staff working in the mayor’s office will be expected to abide by new, stricter ethics rules. In a memo, the mayor’s office outlined policies and processes to guide her staff and help identify and avoid conflicts of interest from engaging in pursuits outside of city duties, called “Outside Activities.” According to the mayor’s office, outside activities are any non-mayor’s office employment, outside income, honoraria and volunteer work. The mayor’s staff must obtain written approval using the proper form before participating in an outside activity. The policy will apply even if the staff member is not receiving monetary compensation. (City News Service, KNX News)
Ballot Measures & Elections
Wisconsin: A group of Republican lawmakers has proposed to dissolve the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission five months before the 2024 presidential election, handing the duties to the secretary of state’s office with oversight by the GOP-controlled state Legislature. The proposal would require Secretary of State Sarah Godlewski, a Democrat, to take over election administration duties from the commission by June 30 and would bar her from taking any action without the approval of the GOP-controlled legislative committees overseeing election issues. (Molly Beck, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)