LATEST UPDATES ON LOBBYING, ETHICS AND CAMPAIGN FUNDING
We read the news, cut out the noise and provide you with the notes.
Welcome to Compliance Notices by Nossamans Government Relations and Regulation Group – A regular summary of federal, state and local headlines, legislative and regulatory changes and court cases relating to campaign finance, lobbying compliance, voting rights and government ethics.
Our attorneys, policy advisors and compliance advisors are available to address any questions or discuss how specific issues may impact your business.
If you would like to see a specific topic or jurisdiction covered please let us know.
Until then, please enjoy this edition of Compliance Notices. If you would like these updates delivered straight to your inbox, please click below to subscribe to our Government Relations and Regulation mailing list.
Campaign Funding and Lobbying Compliance
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has concluded that federal officials can use a portion of their campaign funds to pay for appropriate cybersecurity measures to protect their home networks from cyberattacks without the payments constituting an improper conversion of campaign funds for personal use. The FEC has determined that such expenses are permissible as ordinary and necessary expenses in connection with the duties of a federal official. (Mary Ellen McIntire, Stephanie Akin, and Kate Ackley, appeal) (Draft FEC Advisory Opinion)
California: Following an FBI investigation into corruption at Anaheim City Hall, council members unanimously passed an ordinance that tightens regulations on lobbyists by making certain violations a misdemeanor and increasing the length of time emails from city officials are retained on city servers. The ordinance provided that filing false or inaccurate lobbying reports, concealing payments for lobbying activities, and working as an unregistered lobbyist were punishable by a $1,000 fine or six months in prison. If a person is convicted, they can be banned from lobbying in the city for up to a year, and repeat offenders can be banned for three years. The new ordinance also requires the city to retain e-mails from council members, council staff and city leaders that are in the public domain for two years instead of 90 days. (Hosam Elattar, voice of OC)
Government Ethics and Transparency
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) fined four investment advisory firms for violating the SEC’s pay-to-play rule by accepting investment advisory fees from government agencies after making campaign contributions to candidates or elected officials. The SEC’s pay-to-play rule prohibits investment advisers from providing services to governments or public entities for two years after making a campaign contribution for a candidate or elected official that could influence the selection of investment advisers. According to the SEC, each participating firm provided advice and received fees from government agencies after employees of each firm made campaign contributions to candidates or elected officials. Each company agreed to an injunction, censure and civil fine without admitting or denying the allegations. (Tracey Longo, financial advisor)
new York: The FBI arrested Rensselaer County Electoral Commissioner Jason Schofield and charged him with fraudulently using voter information to request absentee ballots in the 2021 county primary and general election. The indictment alleges that Schofield requested the ballots using the names and birthdays of individuals who were not interested in voting, did not request absentee ballots, or requested his assistance in voting or receiving the ballots and did not know that he used your personal data. This allegedly allowed Schofield to cast votes on behalf of others during the election. Schofield faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted. (Danielle Wallace, Fox News)
Legislation & Elections
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.) plans to hold a vote this week on a campaign finance transparency bill that would require super PACs and 501(c)(4) nonprofit groups to disclose all donors who have donated $10,000 more in an election cycle. The DISCLOSE Act also requires groups that spend money on ads linked to court candidates to report their donors. The bill was originally drafted in response to the Supreme Court citizens united and has been introduced repeatedly over the past decade. The measure has no Republican co-sponsors or support and is expected to fail. (Summer Conception, NBC News)
Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) have introduced a bipartisan bill to revise the Electoral Count Act to protect the rule of law and ensure the integrity of future presidential elections. The legislation is based on four principles, the first of which affirms that the Vice President has no authority to refuse or delay the counting of electoral votes. The second principle raises the threshold for objecting to a state’s electorate from one member of the House of Representatives and one senator to one-third of both houses. Third, the bill will require governors to report legitimate election results to Congress and allow presidential candidates to sue in federal court if a governor fails to do so. Finally, the fourth principle makes it clear that election rules cannot change after the election has taken place. (Michael Schnell, The hill)
District of Columbia: The DC Council will consider a bill that would streamline voter registration by allowing the city to mail ballots to residents who it has confirmed are eligible to vote, even if the resident is not registered to vote. This database of pre-approved ballots, populated with information the city collects as residents interact with the Department of Motor Vehicles and other agencies, would augment the city’s existing automatic voter registration system. (Chelsea Cirruzzo, axios and Alex Burness, screws)