Cal., Miss., Mont., Penn., and more news in today’s political law links

RESOLVING ETHICS ISSUES.  NPR.  “President-elect Donald Trump and his lawyer at a Wednesday press conference described the steps the real estate mogul would take separate from his business empire while in office.”

TILLERSON AND LOBBYING REPORTS.  DC.  “But Tillerson didn’t say Exxon never lobbied on sanctions, and those lobbying disclosure forms don’t say what position the company took on specific issues.”

RUDE AWAKENING FOR AREA RESIDENT.  EBT.  “‘“This is the first time in my life I’ve ever mailed out fliers to anybody asking people to take a position on a ballot measure,’ Colman said. ‘My thought was, “This is a free country. If I want to do that, I’m a free citizen. I can do that.”‘

CA:  REGULATORS READ THE PAPER.  LAT.  “A state agency that enforces campaign finance laws has launched an investigation in response to a Times report on political donations connected to the developer of a Harbor Gateway apartment project.”

IL:  NEWEST LOBBYIST.   CST.  “Former state Rep. Ron Sandack — who abruptly resigned last year amid an extortion scam involving “inappropriate online conversations” — is Springfield’s newest lobbyist.”

MS:  NEW RULES.  WT.  “The Mississippi House voted 102-13 Wednesday to pass a bill that would set rules about how candidates statewide can spend campaign contributions. The measure seeks to ban spending on personal use and prohibit candidates from taking large sums of money when they close campaign committees.”

MO:  NO GIFTS PLEASE.  WT.  “Missouri’s new Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley says he won’t accept gifts from lobbyists.”

MO:  BILL TO FLOOR.  STL.  “Despite some criticism and proposed changes, a bill aimed at stopping lobbyists from handing out free meals, baseball tickets and other gifts to legislators that is a priority of Gov. Eric Greitens and House Speaker Todd Richardson continued its push toward passage Tuesday, clearing a House committee with just three dissenting votes.”

MT:  REFORM ROLL BACK.  Missoulian.  “A Kalispell legislator proposed Wednesday that the state should roll back some campaign finance reporting requirements, two years after the Montana Legislature narrowly passed a disclosure law hailed by open government advocates as one of the nation’s strongest.”

MT:  TRAILER ISSUE.  MN.  “While on loan to the association that summer, FWP’s trailer and the furbearer displays inside appeared at three separate events alongside material opposing a trapping ban ballot initiative carried by York’s organization. York argued that the trailer’s presence gave the impression FWP stood against the initiative, which ultimately failed to gain enough signatures to make the ballot.”

PA:  LEHIGH COUNTY REFORM.  MC.  “By a 9-0 vote, commissioners made a series of amendments to the 2015 law. It already barred vendors on most no-bid contracts from donating more than $250 to elected county officials or political hopefuls. Donors who violated the law could see their contracts revoked and be charged a fine.”


Political law links for Wed., 1-11-17

NEW GIFT GUIDANCE.  Venable.  “With a new administration coming into office, there will be many changes in Washington. One less noticed change comes from the U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE) and will affect how you interact with new executive branch appointees and those career employees who stay on from the prior administration.”

SUPER PAC LAUNCH.  Hill.  “American Bridge, the super-PAC founded by Democratic operative David Brock, is launching a multi-pronged effort Wednesday that criticizes President-elect Donald Trump for his potential business conflicts of interest.”

SUPER PAC LINK.  EEN.  “Pruitt would be among the first Cabinet-level appointees to enter office with such a super PAC. The political action committees, which can accept unlimited donations from corporations, unions and individuals, are a relatively new phenomenon. They’ve been evolving since the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling paved the way for their creation.”

L.L. BEAN IN THE NEWS.  PH.  “The group on Friday responded by taking steps recommended by the FEC to change its registration to a super PAC that can raise unlimited funds.”

WHAT’S GOING ON AT THE FEC?  The agenda for tomorrow’s meeting is here.

SWAMP DIAGNOSIS.  NYP.  “For Trump voters, extensive regulation, massive bureaucracy and ‘the swamp’ go hand in hand. Trump’s election was not a call to try what we’ve been trying, only harder. It was a call to try something new. Democrats may not like Trump’s way of shaking up DC, but hey — elections have consequences.”

POTRAIT BILLS.  WFB.  “Former Senate minority leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) used campaign funds to pay a former staffer $7,000 to paint a portrait that is displayed in the U.S. Capitol.”

CAMPAIGN BILLS.  NBC.  “At least three-dozen municipal governments and law enforcement agencies say presidential campaigns have ignored hundreds of thousands of dollars in outstanding bills stemming from police security for campaign events — from Vallejo, California, to the University of Pittsburgh.”

NOMINEE PASSION.  ES.  “In addition to Betsy DeVos’ decades-long push for vouchers to underwrite tuition at private schools, another less publicized passion has been her opposition to restrictions on campaign contributions and her role in the 2010 Citizens United ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, which opened up a floodgate of contributions to campaigns at all levels of the electoral system.”

AK:  GROUP APPEALS.  ADN.  “A group of Republicans trying to loosen campaign contribution limits in Alaska — following key decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court in recent years — is appealing a ruling by a federal judge in November that upheld the state’s strict limits.”

CA:  PUBLIC FINANCING APPROVAL.  MSS.  “Like other supposed reforms, public campaign financing collides with an overriding reality that the decisions officeholders make have immense consequences and those affected by them naturally seek to influence those decisions. Campaign contributions are one way to affect policy decisions, and if they are shunted aside, affected interests will find other ways – some even less seemly.”

CA:  BAN SOUGHT.  LADN.  “In an election season in which city politicians have increasingly come under attack for a perceived closeness with deep-pocketed developers, five council members on Tuesday sought to dispel that image by proposing a ban on political contributions from donors seeking approval for their real estate projects.”

DC:  NEW YEAR, NEW REFORM.  WP.  “The D.C. Council returned to work Tuesday, setting out a good-government agenda that will force a quick decision on campaign finance reform in a city that has been plagued by pay-to-play politics.”

VA:  NEVER-ENDING REFORM.  NP.  “The campaign funds proposal would ban candidates and elected officials from using such monies for personal use.”


Happy holidays and today’s political law links

Happy Holidays!

WHAT A YEAR!  Thanks for making this another great year for the site and I hope your year was filled with personal and professional success!  As we look to 2017 and what’s next, I think it’s fair to say the year will be filled with a number of political law issues and new reforms and controversies.  I hope to continue to chronicle all of the breaking developments in political law right here.  All my best to you and yours for a safe and wonderful holiday season.

THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE AND CAMPAIGN FINANCE.  CCP. “Campaign finance laws have become so complex, it is almost impossible to explain even the basics in an hour-long lecture. And one threat of this complexity is that clever political types can almost always look at the law and discover new and unprecedented ways to harass their political opponents. This is bad in any case. But it also illustrates the importance of an approach that the Republican Commissioners on the FEC have long taken, of insisting upon reasonable notice before finding ‘reason to believe’ that an offense has been committed in cases of first impression.”

CRIMINAL INTENT AND CAMPAIGN FINANCE.  NRO.  “Bribery can be very difficult to prove or to police. Historically, we have finessed that in part by placing limits on how much money people can donate to political campaigns per se — which is to say, to political operations under the direct control of the candidates themselves — as well as by prohibiting campaign donations from corporations, whether for-profit or nonprofit.”

SUPER PAC CENSORSHIP.   IJ.  “While we appreciate that almost all stations that reviewed the ads validated their accuracy and kept them on the air, the actions of CBS in changing their process and censoring political advertising without giving the sponsor a chance to argue our case is totally unacceptable and bears scrutiny.”

LOBBYIST REFLECTS.  NYT.  “After more than 30 years in the Beaux-Arts-style chamber headquarters across Lafayette Square from the White House, Mr. Josten is now in his own transition, retiring after helping turn the chamber into a political powerhouse and watching his specialty — sophisticated legislative give-and-take — become less prized in a polarized capital.”

AK:  MEMBERS USE LAW.  ADN.  “The 1996 law clearly didn’t intend to allow lawmakers to raise money from lobbyists using political groups separate from their campaigns, said David Finkelstein, one of the original proponents of the reforms — which he said were designed to reduce the amount of influence lobbyists could exercise over the legislative process.”

MO:  GUNN TO PUSH REFORM.  CL.  “House Speaker Philip Gunn says a top priority for the legislative session starting in two weeks is passing campaign finance reform, a measure that late last session died an ignoble death in the House he leads.”

NY:  CARD QUESTIONS.  NYO.  “Tens of thousands of residents of Bay Ridge got a holiday message last week from a politician who has never represented them—but who is likely to seek their City Council seat next year, and may have already violated the city’s strict campaign finance rules.”

WA:  AG FILES COMPLAINT.  TDW.  “State Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a complaint Monday against 19th District House candidate Teresa Purcell after receiving a tip she and her committee failed to follow campaign finance laws during her campaign.”