Corporations and non-candidate committees will now file the January supplemental report annually
On Friday night, Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie changed the way non-candidate committees, corporations, and all other associations active in elections report their political spending by signing Senate Bill 31 into law. The bill, which will go into effect immediately, requires the aforementioned groups to file a supplemental report on January 31 of every year. Currently, those groups are only required to file a January 31 supplemental report in years following an election.
The bill also requires the reports to make a distinction between the aggregate amount of contributions received and contributions made. Currently, the law just requires the groups to include the amount of contributions, with no distinction made between those received and made.
Abercrombie has been busy signing and vetoing bills since the Legislature adjourned on May 2 and he has until July 8 to act on the remaining ones.
Photo of Gov. Neil Abercrombie courtesy of the governor on Wikipedia.
State and Federal Communications’ Client Specialist Nola Werren discusses the recent trend in lobbyist contributions to charities at the behest of lawmakers
In a recent article published by the Center for Public Integrity, State and Federal Communications’ own Nola Werren is quoted on her research regarding the recent trend in lobbyist contributions to non-profit organizations made at the behest of lawmakers. According to Werren, charitable giving by corporate donors and lobbyists at the urging of lawmakers has become increasingly common in the past several years.
State and Federal Communications provides corporate clients with information about state lobbying, campaign finance, and procurement laws. Werren, a client specialist for the company, observes that behested contributions serve as a deviation from the traditional means by which lobbyists ingratiate themselves with lawmakers via gifts and political contributions.
However, she addresses that the behested contributions also provide a ”win-win situation” for all parties involved: the non-profit organization receives the much needed charitable donation; the lawmaker is praised for his or her philanthropic efforts; and the corporate donors and lobbyists foster goodwill with the lawmaker.
As might be expected, the law regarding behested payments varies from state to state. Currently, only New York and Maryland prohibit such practice. California is the only known state to require disclosure by lawmakers, and only 14 states require lobbyists to disclose the behested donations. State and Federal Communications, Werren says, has received such a significant number of inquiries from clients about rules governing such payments that it decided to research the various state laws and will continue to update its findings as changes occur.
Prohibition on corporate contributions remains intact
A federal appellate court ruled both in favor and against Iowa’s campaign finance law in regard to independent expenditures and corporate spending on Thursday. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the state’s law requiring groups making independent expenditures to disclose information about their spending but struck down the part of the law requiring those same groups to also file supplemental disclosures.
Under the current law, if a group spends more than $750 in the aggregate on independent expenditures, it must file a report within 48 hours. It also requires those same groups to file a supplemental report, due on the 19th of January, May, July, and October, if the group has made more than $1,000 in expenditures. These supplemental reports were held to be “additional, redundant and more burdensome” and were struck down.
Another aspect of the law challenged was the state’s ban on corporations giving money directly from their general treasuries. The court upheld this ban on corporate contributions, saying it “serves the purpose of preventing quid pro quo corruption or the appearance of such corruption.” Further, the court held corporations may still spend money on elections by forming political action committees.
The court also ruled the wording of two provisions requiring groups to certify that their board of directors approved their election spending before they can make the expenditures is unconstitutional as written. However, the court sent that issue back to the trial court to determine if the state can remove a few words to make the provisions constitutional.
It is not clear at this point how the state plans to proceed. It can accept the appellate court’s ruling or it could appeal the decision. Regardless of their decision, at this point in time, the requirement to file the supplemental reports for independent expenditure committees does not exist.
City Commission will take up proposals July 10
Tallahassee’s Ethics Advisory Panel, a citizen group created last November to review the city’s ethics policies, is recommending creating a position of ethics officer.
Whether to make the position an appointed one was the only issue the panel could not agree on unanimously, with two of the panel’s seven members voting against appointment. The panel is debating where in the city government to place the position, while the city attorney’s office is looking into whether a charter amendment is necessary to create another appointed position.
The panel will hold a final review of its recommendations, including creating an ethics hotline and ethics training for employees, on June 26. The City Commission plans to discuss the recommendations July 10.
July 11, 2013
ElectionsBC announced a by-election will be held on Wednesday, July 10, 2013, to elect a Member of the Legislative Assembly (M.L.A.) for the Westside-Kelowna electoral district.
A by-election is called when a seat becomes vacant in the Legislative Assembly. The legislative position became available when Westside-Kelowna M.L.A. Ben Stewart resigned on June 11, 2013.
June 11, 2013
Brewer called the session for the legislators to consider the 2013-2014 state budget and other appropriations and budget matters related to the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System.
The House, still in regular session, had adjourned until June 12, 2014. According to UPI.com, the House adjournment “was the final straw” that led to the governor, who feels she has been “extraordinarily patient” with the House and Senate leadership, to call the special session.
Government shutdown looming with no budget deal
Washington lawmakers apparently love Olympia in early summer. The Washington legislature ended its first special session late Tuesday night, and Governor Jay Inslee wasted no time in calling a second special session to begin on Wednesday.
The original special session was called because the state legislature had not passed a state budget. 30 days later and there is still no budget. On the bright side, there has been a little progress. Both the House and Senate passed proposals this week, but they have been unable to agree on a final deal.
With a worst case scenario looming, Inslee set a meeting with his Cabinet and financial office to start making plans for a potential government shutdown. If the Legislature does not have a budget passed by midnight on June 30, the government may be shutdown. “If there is not a budget by July 1, the law doesn’t allow us to keep government operating fully,” Inslee said. “This would have significant ramifications for the millions of citizens who depend on state services.”
The second special session is scheduled for a maximum of 30 days.
Picture of Governor Jay Inslee by Thomas Sørenes on Wikipedia
October 16 and November 5
A bill has been introduced by New Jersey Sen. Shirley K. Turner changing this year’s November 5 general election to coincide with the special election scheduled for October 16.
Last week, Gov. Chris Christie had announced the special election for the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg.
Because New Jersey’s statewide elections in November are scheduled only 20 days after the October special election, critics have argued the expense of the two elections is too costly for the state. Turner asserts her bill will save the state millions of dollars. The legislation calls for general elections to revert back to November starting in 2014.
Meanwhile, a lawsuit, Christodoulou v. Christie, has been filed seeking an injunction setting aside the governor’s selection of October 16 for the special election and a declaration that the special election be held on November 5 simultaneously with the general election. The application to file a motion for emergent relief from the state appellate division is available via Election Law Blog at http://electionlawblog.org/wp-content/uploads/Appellate-Div-Application.pdf.
Picture of Gov. Christie by David Shankbone on Wikipedia