HomeEssential Ethics / April 2, 2024

Essential Ethics

April 2, 2024

Latest Developments:

  • The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in Smith v. Helzer, affirmed a lower court’s denial of an injunction to stop the implementation of parts of Alaska’s Measure 2, which required 24-hour disclosure of aggregate contributions over $2,000 and certain disclosures on political advertising. The court indicated that the disclosure requirements were subject to exacting scrutiny but found that they were substantially related and narrowly tailored to the government’s interest and not overly burdensome.
  • Oregon Governor Tina Kotek signed HB 4024, which imposes campaign contribution limits. The measure takes effect June 6, although the limits are operative beginning January 1, 2027, with related reporting beginning in 2028.
  • The Florida Legislature approved SJR 1114, a proposal to amend the state’s constitution by repealing public campaign financing provisions that are currently in the state’s constitution. The measure will permit voters at the next general or special election to choose whether to repeal those provisions.
  • Utah Governor Spencer Cox signed HB 138, which prohibits communication with a public official’s employer with intent to influence, coerce, or intimidate that public officialThe Governor also approved HB 80, which requires local officials to provide the Lieutenant Governor with an electronic link to local campaign finance statements, with the link to be posted on a state website. HB 80 also expands public officials’ conflict of interest disclosure. Both measures take effect May 1, 2024.
  • Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers approved SB 822, which requires committees that support or oppose candidates for local offices to file electronic disclosure reports with the Wisconsin Ethics Commission, rather than with local clerks. The measure takes effect July 1, 2024.

In Case You Missed It:

  • New Mexico AI Enforcement: Source New Mexico explains how the state’s Ethics Commission and the Secretary of State will enforce a new law, which requires that ads include a disclosure if they have been manipulated or generated by artificial intelligence. The law takes effect in May as voting begins in the state’s primary election.
  • Failure to Register to Lobby: City officials in Portland, Oregon, sent a warning letter to Zenith Energy advising the company that it exceeded the city’s 8-hour lobbying threshold, which requires registration and reporting of lobby activity. The city declined to issue a fine but recommended that Zenith staff and lobbyists review regulation requirements and participate in lobbyist training offered by the city.
  • $5,000 Fine for Gift: The Providence Journal reports that the Rhode Island Ethics Commission fined a public official for accepting gifts that exceeded the state’s limit, including a pricey lunch received while vetting a company in line for a $56 million state contract.
  • Straw Donor Deported: A billionaire from China who pleaded guilty to reimbursing others for contributions to a New York City official and New York congressional candidates will be deported, according to a report by the Associated Press.
  • Campaign Funds Contributed to High School Student Draw Suit: AOL.com News reports that a New Mexico State Senator who used $200 in campaign funds to enable an Albuquerque high school student to attend a week-long out-of-state pre-law workshop has sued the Secretary of State, who contends that the contribution to the student violated state campaign finance law.
  • County on the Hook over Contribution Litigation: The San Joaquin Valley Sun reveals that two Fresno officials who transferred campaign funds from their city council campaign accounts to their county board of supervisors campaign accounts were awarded their attorney’s fees, which will be paid by the county. The county had sued both for alleged campaign finance violations, but the county lost when the court ruled that transfers among candidate accounts are not contributions.