Compliance Notes – Vol. 3, number 27 | Nossaman LLP
RECENT UPDATES ON LOBBYING, ETHICS AND CAMPAIGN FINANCING
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welcome to Compliance Ratings from Nossaman Government Relations and Regulatory Group – a periodic summary of headlines, legislative and regulatory changes, and court cases regarding campaign finance, lobbying compliance, election law, and government ethics issues at the federal, state, and local levels.
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Campaign Finance and Lobbying Compliance
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) issued Advisory Opinion 2022-03, in response to a request from an LLC proposing to sell a new service to businesses and corporate segregated funds (SSF). The new service would allow the SSF to solicit the general public for contributions to political candidates and committees, and the LLC would provide the SSF with real-time data on the resulting contributions. The FEC concluded that the new service is authorized because the activity is not prohibited business facilitation and is not covered by the Federal Election Campaign Act’s “sale or use” prohibition. Further, while the LLC will host the custom website on its platform, the site would be a political committee website accessible to the general public; therefore, it must include the required policy disclaimers. (FEC file: advisory opinions)
California: The Long Beach Ethics Commission discussed tightening the city’s lobbying ordinance by requiring elected officials to report their contact with lobbyists, changing who must register as a lobbyist and how often they have to file disclosures. The existing Lobbyists Registration Ordinance requires people to register as lobbyists if they exceed certain thresholds for the amount clients pay for their representation or if they lobby for more than 50 hours per quarter. The commission could make formal recommendations to city council later this year, which would decide whether or not to pass changes to the city’s lobbying ordinance. (Jason Ruiz, Long Beach Post News)
Ethics and Transparency in Government
Former Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) was sentenced to two years probation and fined $25,000 for lying to the FBI and withholding information during an investigation into his campaign’s receipt of dozens thousands of dollars in illegal contributions. The sentencing decision, which ran counter to the six-month prison sentence sought by the prosecution, allows Fortenberry to avoid serving time in prison. (Chris Marquette, Call)
Georgia: A special grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, has issued subpoenas for Sen. Lindsey Graham (RS.C.) and other key allies of former President Trump in connection with the investigation into President Trump’s alleged attempt to interfere with Georgia’s 2020 election results. The judge overseeing the grand jury, Fulton Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, signed a “material witness certificate” for Senator Graham and others, saying they are necessary for the ongoing investigation. The grand jury will make recommendations on criminal prosecution to the district attorney. (Herb Scribner, Axios)
Elections and legislation
The United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case in the next term that examines whether state courts, when finding violations of their state’s constitution, can order changes to federal elections and redraw the congressional district maps. The case, an appeal by North Carolina Republicans, concerns a district map thrown out by the state Supreme Court for partisan gerrymandering and violation of the state constitution. The case has implications beyond redistricting, as the court could give state legislatures more power over federal elections and prevent state courts from reviewing challenges to election procedures and results. (Nicholas Riccardi, AP NEWS)
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) introduced the Election Mail Act, legislation to improve election mail delivery and ballot return. The bill would codify first-class service standards for all election mail, require the U.S. Postal Service to mark all ballots, and ensure voters and election officials don’t have to pay postage for send the ballots. Additionally, the bill would require states to count absentee ballots that are postmarked on Election Day and arrive within seven days of the election, while also allowing states to have time limits. more than seven days. Because Congress was unable to enact sweeping election reform this year, this targeted bill aims to reform election administration on a smaller scale. (Sophia Cai, Axios)