Passes major campaign finance changes on final day
The Alabama Legislature adjourned just before midnight on Monday, May 20, 2013, but not before passing major changes to the state’s Fair Campaign Practices Act.
The most significant change is the elimination of limits on corporate contributions to candidates and political action committees. Under the new law, corporations will be permitted to contribute in the same manner as individuals, who are not subject to any contribution limits, with the exception of retaining the state’s pay-to-play prohibition on contributions to the Public Service Commission by utilities the commission regulates. The bill also makes 527 organizations subject to the ban on PAC-to-PAC transfers, and adds enforcement and penalty provisions.
The Secretary of State’s office will release information regarding the effective date of these provisions since the law must first receive Department of Justice preclearance before it becomes enforceable.
State and Federal Communications Comptroller Jeff Roberts talks about meeting Danny Werfel, the interim director of the Internal Revenue Service.
They say it is good to know people in high places.
In 2009 my twin brother Ted and I decided to make a trip to Washington, DC and to take our dad, who had never visited the city before. Ted and I have visited numerous times and so we got busy making up a list of our favorite places to visit and things that Dad really should see. Dad mentioned to some church friends all of us have known for many years that he was taking this trip with us. They offered to connect us with their son-in-law, an employee of the Office of Management and Budget, who might be able to take us on a tour of the White House.
It turns out that particular day the White House had already arranged for public tours of the grounds, so we could not tour the mansion itself. Our friends’ son-in-law graciously agreed to escort us around the grounds. At the appointed time the three of us, along with former State and Federal Communications, Inc. temporary employee Andrew Houk, who was completing a Master’s Degree at George Washington University at the time, met at the corner of 15th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue and began our tour. Our guide’s credentials enabled us to not wait in the extremely long line of people.
Our guide proved to be not only knowledgeable, but friendly, down-to-earth, and an all around great guy. In our conversation I found him very bright, engaging, articulate, ambitious, and hard working. He was awaiting Senate confirmation to the position of Comptroller of the Office of Management and Budget. In short, I was very impressed.
Earlier this year he was named the point person at OMB to coordinate the agency spending cuts that are part of the federal sequestration. Not an enviable position. Today I read that he was appointed by President Obama to be the interim director of the Internal Revenue Service. Perhaps a less enviable position.
I have every confidence that Danny Werfel will do an outstanding job in his new role, and I plan to do some more name dropping as I engage in the many lively political debates that seem to go hand-in-hand with our business. And… I will triple check next year’s federal income tax return!
Ethics reforms fail to pass
Lawmakers have ended the 2013 legislative session. Although both chambers are scheduled to convene on May 22, 2013, for a technical session, the House marked the conclusion with the traditional and celebratory paper toss on Friday, May 17, 2013.
Several bills aimed at reinstating or expanding the ethics reforms of Senate Bill 844 failed to pass. The major 2010 ethics reforms in Senate Bill 844 were found to be unconstitutional by the Missouri Supreme Court because they were joined to a procurement bill.
Photo of the Missouri State Capitol by RebelAt on Wikipedia.
PACs and Candidates
Executive Director Lee Slater will be focusing efforts this summer on clearing up the backlog of PACs and candidates not keeping up with reporting requirements. More than two dozen PACs have not filed their latest quarterly reports due April 30.
The commission can charge each committee or candidate $100 per day for each day it is late filing, with a total maximum penalty of $1,000. NewsOK.com reports the commission will be hiring a hearing officer before it starts to mail out its penalty assessments, anticipating candidates’ guaranteed right to protest.
Lopez will not be able to influence the selection of his successor
Governor Andrew Cuomo has another opening in the State Assembly, but he is in no rush to call an election to fill it. Assemblyman Vito Lopez announced he will resign his seat in the State Assembly Monday afternoon, and Cuomo has decided not to call a special election to replace the disgraced politician.
Lopez is resigning amidst allegations of sexual harassing his former staffers during his tenure. He had already lost all committee assignments and legislative perks due to the scandal.
Cuomo is refusing to call a special election because, in a special election, the political parties get to choose their respective candidates.
With Lopez’s district being heavily Democratic, the Democratic Party would be able to choose the replacement. And with Lopez being the former head of the Democrats in Brooklyn and with his pals still in charge, Lopez would be able to handpick his successor. Cuomo would prefer to avoid that situation, so he’ll hold the election with the regular primary in September and general election in November. This will allow any Democrat to have the opportunity to get on the primary ballot.
As far as Lopez is concerned, he does not plan on riding into the political night. Even with the recent scandal, Lopez is still heavily considering running for a seat on the New York City Council this November.
Photo of the New York State House by Matt H. Wade on Wikipedia.
No challenge to veto of election bills
The Legislature adjourned sine die on May 17, 2013, without an attempt to override Governor Mike Beebe’s vetoes on three election bills.
Senate Bill 719 would have transferred power of election oversight to the Secretary of State from the Board of Election Commissioners. Senate Bill 720 would have created mandatory referrals of ethics complaints from the board to the Ethics Commission when the compliant was without basis in law or fact. Senate Bill 721 would have removed all of the board’s current commissioners and established a new appointment process.