Good morning, here are today’s political law links (1/2/13)

GOOD MORNING AND HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope you had a great holiday season and got to enjoy a little break from the daily routine. Today’s set of links includes a number of developments from mid-December.

POLITICALACTIVITYLAW.COM AND 2013. This month marks the five year anniversary of the site. That’s 5,652 posts in 79 categories with who knows how may links. I switched to a weekday digest format last year, so the number of items I’ve linked to over the years would be tough to calculate. I’ve made a few tweaks over the years and some features didn’t pan out, but my main goal has always been to provide value for the political law pracittioner. No reminder is needed, but by linking to an item I’m not endorsing the views expressed. My main interest is sharing items relevant to the practice of political law. At times it may seem that the site is akin to a police blotter for alleged campaign finance and lobbying law issues. I’m most interested, however, in the linked items’ relevance to providing guidance to individuals and organizations engaged in political activity.

TRANSITION FOIA. Thanks to Time we got an interesting look at some of the details behind a presidential transition effort. “One of the less scintillating milestones of the 2012 election was marked by the General Services Administration, when Mitt Romney became the first candidate to take advantage of the Presidential Transition Act of 2010.”

TOP DOJ ITEMS FROM 12. MainJustice. Of note to me are items related to FCPA prosecutions and the Stevens case.

OCE UPDATE. CNN. “The ethics office — which gets its mandate and funding from Congress — must be reauthorized by this Congress, which soon adjourns, or early on by the new Congress.”

NEW HOUSE TRAVEL RULES PINK SHEET. Here. For travel on or after April 13, 2013, the House Ethics Committee approved new guidance. Roll Call’s coverage is here: “The deadline for submitting pre-travel authorization forms to the committee will now be 30 days prior to departure instead of two weeks. New certification forms will require additional information about trip sponsors for increased transparency. Sponsors will be responsible for filling out the post-travel disclosure forms that will be filed by traveling members and staffers. There are also more explicit definitions of travel-related terms in the new guidance issued by the committee.”

COUNTRYWIDE PROBE ENDED. Story here. “A House panel has ended a probe of alleged preferential lending by Countrywide Financial Corp. to lawmakers and aides without taking action, saying the ‘serious matters’ submitted for review fall outside its jurisdiction.” A statement and new pink sheet on the ban on using one’s position for personal gain is online here.

INAUGURAL ADVISORY. The House Ethics Committee summarized rules on inaugural and swearing-in activities in an updated pink sheet. House Ethics.

HLOGA LOBBYING RULES IN THE NEWS. The Post. Restrictions on lobbying by family members of officeholders is the topic of a Post report. “In 2007, in the wake of the biggest lobbying scandal in decades, Congress limited the ability of family members to lobby their relatives in the House or Senate. But it declined to ban the practice entirely.”

PAC REQUEST FOR U.S. SUB NOT APPROVED. Employees of a U.S. subsidiary seeking to register and report as a political committee got a lump of coal just before Christmas. The FEC considered and failed to provide an affirmative response to a U.S. subsidiary’s request to establish a separate segregated fund. AOR 2012-37 (Yamaha Marine). The request also asked a second question related to who would be eligible to be solicited for the committee. If dealer and service center personnel couldn’t be solicited, the political committee’s sources of support would be constrained. The answer to that question distinguished the two drafts put out for comment. The Commission, without providing the requestor with a draft indicating that their request to form a PAC might be declined, couldn’t approve a response, notwithstanding well-settled FEC precedent on the first question.

MT MONEY IMPACT. MJ. “In the waning days of Montana’s hotly contested Senate race, a small outfit called Montana Hunters and Anglers, launched by liberal activists, tried something drastic.”

WYDEN-MURKOWSKI CFR APPROACH. The Post. “We propose combining the best elements of the Alaska and Oregon laws to create a federal campaign-finance structure that is transparent and holds everyone immediately accountable.”

CAMPAIGN MANAGER ALLEGATIONS. Story here. “Prosecutors confirmed an investigation Friday into allegations of massive fraud and theft by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s campaign manager as associates of Kenneth ‘Buddy’ Barfield pointed to his penchant for big property deals and moneymaking ventures as possible causes for his downfall.”

CONVICTION AND PLEA IN CASE. DOJ Release. “A defendant who tried to escape fraud charges against him by exerting pressure on a U.S. Attorney’s spouse and candidate for office pleaded guilty today to obstruction of justice for perpetrating the scheme, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division announced today.”

CA: DISCLOSURE PROPOSALS. LAT. “State lawmakers are moving to curb anonymous political donations in California after a national election in which nonprofit groups secretly poured hundreds of millions of dollars into campaigns.”

DC: NEW GENERAL COUNSEL. The Post. “The D.C. Board of Ethics and Government Accountability, the body created earlier this year as part of new ethics laws adopted in the wake of investigations of misconduct by city officials, has named Stacie Pittell to be its lead attorney.”


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