Compliance Notes - Vol. 5, Issue 21

05.22.2024
Nossaman eAlert
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.

Our attorneys, policy advisors and compliance consultants are available to discuss any questions or how specific issues may impact your business.

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Campaign Finance & Lobbying Compliance

The House Committee on Ethics (Committee) announced it would further probe allegations that Rep. Troy Nehls (R-TX) may have misused campaign funds for personal purposes. Despite Nehls’ campaign committee listing its headquarters as “Freedom Hall” in Richmond, Texas, it made no rent payments to that location, which was formerly a bar and sometime in 2023 became an Islamic center, according to the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) report. Instead, the OCE found that Nehls’ campaign made more than $25,000 in rent payments to an entity known as Liberty 1776, which is owned and operated by Nehls and registered to his home address. The OCE also found that Nehls failed to disclose his stake and any money made from Liberty 1776 in mandatory financial disclosure reports filed since his candidacy through 2022. In its Friday, May 17, 2024 statement, the Committee included its usual reminder that, “the mere fact of conducting further review of a referral, and any mandatory disclosure of such further review, does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee.” (Justin Papp, Roll Call)

Louisiana: Political donors could donate even more under a bill sailing through the state legislature. House bill 906 by Rep. Mark Wright (R-Covington) would raise contribution limits from $5,000 to $12,000 per donor for candidates running for statewide office and in the four biggest parishes; from $2,500 to $6,000 for candidates running for the state legislature and in smaller parishes; and from $1,000 to $2,000 for many local elections. Wright said the increase reflects the cumulative rise in inflation since the current limits were established in 1988. HB 906 has generated little opposition not only because of inflation but because large contributors have many ways to now give, thanks to a loosening of campaign finance limits because of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. (Tyler Bridges, The Advocate & House Bill 906)


Government Ethics & Transparency

Michigan: Bob LaBrant, the former general counsel for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, has asked Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s (D) office to rule on the legality of the system lobbyists have used to secretly provide event tickets to lawmakers. LaBrant’s request came a day after The Detroit News released the findings of an investigation into personal financial disclosures filed by lawmakers and the flow of sports and concert tickets from lobbyists to state officeholders. Michigan law bars registered lobbyists from providing legislators with gifts valued at more than $76, but lobbyists have found ways around the prohibition. One of their main strategies has been securing tickets to marquee events for lawmakers and then asking the lawmakers, later through private letters, to reimburse the price of the tickets more than $76, according to more than 10 sources with direct knowledge of the arrangements. Despite the letters, how often reimbursements to lobbying firms and interest groups are made is unclear. In LaBrant’s request for a ruling, he argued that the reimbursement system did not comply with Michigan law. In response to LaBrant’s request, Benson’s office could issue a binding declaratory ruling or an informal interpretive statement. (Craig Mauger, The Detroit News)

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