Good morn., here are today’s political law links

PAY TO PLAY SNARE.  LEX.  “The pay-to-play rule is designed to address pay-to-play abuses involving campaign contributions made by certain investment advisers or their covered associates to government officials who are in a position to influence the selection of investment advisers to manage government client assets, including public pension fund assets.”

EYEING FEC CHANGES.  CPI.  “Federal Election Commission leaders — dogged by abysmal staff morale and a top manager improperly obtaining employees’ confidential critiques — are considering changes to how the agency operates in a bid to restore staff trust.”

CA:  PROPOSAL EXPLAINED.  NC.  “One week after a group of Los Angeles pols swore off donations from real estate developers, one council member wants to take campaign finance reform a step further and make all donations taxpayer-funded.”

MD:  LOBBYIST REFORM PROPOSALS.  BS.  “Gov. Larry Hogan announced an ‘integrity in government initiative’ Thursday that he says would reform ethics rules on conflicts of interest and corruption.”

VT:  EXPLORING SOLUTIONS.  VB.  “Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan and Secretary of State Jim Condos today announced the launch of a cooperative effort to create a joint Committee on Campaign Finance Education, Compliance and Reform.”

WA:  SOS FINE.  FOX.  “The state Attorney General’s Office says a Thurston County Superior Court judge on Friday approved a $3,950 penalty against Wyman and her campaign, with half suspended as long as no further violations occur for the next four years. Wyman will also pay $8,140 in investigation costs and legal fees.”


SEC pay to play settlements and more political law links

SEC SETTLEMENTS.  WSJ  (h/t S. Sholk).  “Ten investment firms agreed to pay fines totaling more than $660,000 to settle charges by the Securities and Exchange Commission alleging they managed public pension money illegally after their employees made contributions to state political races.”

10 FIRMS VIOLATED PAY TO PLAY RULES.  SEC.  “The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that 10 investment advisory firms have agreed to pay penalties ranging from $35,000 to $100,000 to settle charges that they violated the SEC’s investment adviser pay-to-play rule by receiving compensation from public pension funds within two years after campaign contributions made by the firms’ associates.”

WHO GOT FINED?  BI.  “Here’s what happened, according to the SEC: In 2013, an employee at Pershing Square made a $500 campaign contribution to a candidate for governor of Massachusetts. Such a donation was not allowed because that candidate, if elected, had the ability to influence the selection of investment funds for the state’s pension plan, PRIM.”

SENTENCING IN IOWA CASE.  WHO. “Former State Senator Kent Sorenson will spend 15 months in prison for breaking campaign finance laws during the 2012 presidential campaign.”

NO LIMIT FOR STEYER.  Bloomberg.  “Tom Steyer, the billionaire environmental activist who spent at least $87 million on the 2016 election, said he can’t begin to estimate how much of his fortune he’ll put toward fighting Donald Trump’s presidency.”

CO:  ETHICS STALL.  DP.  “A Denver City Council committee on Tuesday delayed a vote on an ethics bill until Feb. 21 after members voiced confusion over new limits on meals and tickets they can accept from donors with a city interest.”

CT:  CU CHALLENGE.  Courant.  “Aresimowicz wants to hear ideas at a hearing that’s likely to happen in February. One idea he’s floating is to require out-of-state ‘independent expenditure’ groups to disclose all contributors, as in-state groups must do – not just the largest five.”

MT:  BILL OPPOSED.  BG.  “A bill to allow statewide and legislative candidates to use surplus funds from a past election in their next campaign for office drew opposition from the commissioner of political practices, who said incumbents would have an unfair advantage.”

PA:  LARGEST ETHICS FINE.  PM.  “The fine is the largest in the 10-year history of Philadelphia’s Ethics Board. Per the settlement agreement, Williams admitted his failure to disclose five sources of income and 89 gifts on the City Statements of Financial Interests he filed between 2010 and 2015. An amended statement Williams filed last August did not disclose 10 additional gifts.”

SC:  LEATHERMAN SEEKS DISCLOSURE.  PC.  “Senate President Pro Tempore Hugh Leatherman is aiming to start the ethics reform battle again this year with a renewed attempt to rid South Carolina of anonymous campaign donors and their so-dark money.'”


Friday is I-Day and other political law links

NO REASON TO FEAR.  WE.  “Today, the United States has more campaign finance disclosure laws on the books than at any time in our history. So many, it seems, that even the most ‘shadowy’ groups are often disclosing their donors. When the best examples of ‘shadowy’ groups we can come up with are Planned Parenthood and the Republican Governors Association, perhaps it’s time to put the ‘dark money’ narrative to bed.”

WHAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DID.  WT.  “Elections officials were overwhelmingly opposed to the change. But that didn’t matter, according to Christy McCormick, a commissioner on the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), the agency charged with being the national clearinghouse and resource for states and local election officials on the best practices and standards in administering elections.”

SPOTLIGHT ON ETHICS.  Hill.  “The top government ethics watchdog was just another obscure Washington bureaucrat until six weeks ago, when he entered into an explosive public fight over President-elect Donald Trump‘s business conflicts.”

LOBBYING MISUNDERSTOOD.  LAT.  “We’re not super-villains. If we have any effect on government policy, it’s only because public officials are swayed by our arguments. The consequence of blaming lobbyists for Washington’s shortfalls is that it limits people with expertise from helping solve government problems — and it lets elected leaders off the hook when they don’t.”

DEBT RETIRED.  WP.  “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign announced Friday that he has fully paid off the debt he accrued during his short-lived presidential run, thanks largely to revenue generated by renting out his donor list in the closing weeks of the year.”

DC:  LOOKING TO STRENGTHEN.  WT. “Several bills, including one introduced at the behest of D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine, target campaign contributions from businesses that contract with the District.”

NH:  DOUGHNUTS AND LAW.  UL. “This loophole allows candidates to circumvent the state’s contribution limits by accepting donations from multiple limited liability companies owned by the same individuals.”

NM:  REFORM SOUP.  NMID.  “Because New Mexico’s current campaign finance law doesn’t require disclosure of spending on specific races, it’s hard to know how much Advance New Mexico Now spent to defeat Sanchez or Democratic super PACs spent to take out GOP incumbent House members.”

SD:  ETHICS AIM.  TE.  “South Dakota Democrats lost big in November, but Roxanne Weber celebrated a surprise victory when her favorite ballot measure narrowly passed. Now, she’s questioning her vote’s value as Republican lawmakers discuss dismantling the government ethics initiative just months later.

CAN:  VACATION ETHICS.  NYT.  “Canada’s federal conflict-of-interest and ethics office confirmed on Monday that it is investigating the propriety of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family’s spending part of the Christmas holidays as guests of the Aga Khan, the billionaire philanthropist and spiritual leader of Ismaili Muslims, on a private island in the Bahamas.”

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