HomeEssential Ethics / APRIL 20, 2018

Essential Ethics

APRIL 20, 2018

Latest Developments:

In Kansas, the Governor signed S.B. 394, which adds additional lobbyist registration triggers and additional exceptions to lobbyist registration requirements.  The bill also includes new gift rules and disclosure requirements.

The California Fair Political Practices Commission met on Thursday, April 19, 2018.  Once again, the Commission had a contentious debate over the governance structure of the Commission.  The Chair has met with the Governor’s office and expressed concern that the regulation would fundamentally restructure the Commission in a manner not contemplated by the original initiative statute.  Other Commissioners expressed concern that their proposal was not being moved forward as fast as they expected.

The San Francisco Ethics Commission held a special meeting on Wednesday, April 18, 2018 at which they chose Commissioner Chiu as the Chair and Commissioner Kopp at the Vice Chair.  The Commission discussed the proposed changes to the Anti-Corruption and Accountability Ordinance, as amended in the recent joint meeting with the Board of Supervisors.  The Commission adopted the ordinance with a minor clarifying amendment by Commissioner Kopp.  The Commission voted down Commissioner Kopp’s effort to add back a ban on behested payments and an authorization to share recoveries under a right of private action.  Commissioner Kopp also gave an impassioned speech against pay-to-play contributions.

The Los Angeles City Ethics Commission will meet Tuesday, April 24, 2018.  The agenda includes a presentation in connection with the Commission’s review of campaign finance laws.

The Colorado Secretary of State held a hearing on proposed amended lobby regulations on Monday, April 16. Comments focused on the following points:

  • The increase in disclosure requirements, in general, is burdensome.
  • Requiring that, for each new client, a summary of the terms and conditions of the agreement must be disclosed will impinge on confidential, and proprietary information that generally includes a nondisclosure agreement.
  • Beginning January 1, 2019, the date of each change of position on each bill must be disclosed in the report due the following month, creating a terrible record-keeping burden.

In case you missed it:

  • Arizona Central (USA Today) tells us that a Phoenix legal assistant at a major law firm that lobbies the city pled guilty to one felony count of forgery in a lobby compliance scandal.  After failing to file lobby disclosure reports with the city for two years, the legal assistant forged an attorney’s signature and backdated documents asserting that the reports had been filed.  She was initially charged with 16 counts of perjury, fraud, and filing false documents.  Last year, Phoenix stiffened its penalties for noncompliance as the scandal unfolded given that the city’s lobby law enforcement was found to be “toothless.”  Lobby registrations increased by 23% in the past year.
  • The San Francisco Chronicle reports that City Attorney Dennis Herrera has appointed a former judge and federal prosecutor Kevin Ryan to the San Francisco Ethics Commission.  Ryan was presiding judge of the Criminal Court Division of the San Francisco Superior Court when appointed by President George W. Bush to replace Robert Muller as the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California in 2002.
  • In Everett, Washington, the Herald reports on a backlash against too many complaints filed against candidates for administrative mistakes that are unintentional.  HB 2938 was passed by the legislature and signed, but “partially” vetoed by the Governor.  The bill amends a 1972 voter initiative to take authority away from the state’s Attorney General and instead require that all complaints first be vetted by the Washington Public Disclosure Commission.  The Governor’s message indicates that two sections were vetoed due to drafting errors.  The requirement that complaints be vetted through the Commission remains intact.  However, in the Governor’s veto message, he urged the Commission and the Attorney General to work together to clarify roles, adopt rules, and draft legislation for introduction in the next session to make improvements in the statute.