HomeEssential Ethics / April 26, 2019

Essential Ethics

April 26, 2019

Latest Developments:

  • The Governor of Maryland approved B. 79, which requires that lobbyist registrations and reports be filed electronically.
  • The Governor of Alabama signed B. 289, which creates an exception from the requirement that a person register as a lobbyist if the person is an “economic development professional.”  The exception applies to an “individual seeking to advance specific, good faith economic development or trade promotion projects or related objectives for a business, chamber of commerce or similar nonprofit economic development organization (or specified governmental entities).”
  • The Governor of Washington approved B. 1375, which extends the contribution limits imposed on candidates for Commissioner of the Seattle and Tacoma Ports to commissioner candidates in all 75 port commissions in the state.
  • The Governor of Tennessee approved B. 170, which eliminates term limits for members of the Tennessee Ethics Commission and extends the time period for the General Assembly to confirm appointees to that commission.
  • The Governor of Maine signed P. 599, which adds racial harassment to the list of subjects included in required lobbyist education and training.

In Case You Missed It:

  • IRS Ducks Dark Money Issues – For NowProPublica reports that the IRS has all but stopped enforcing provisions relating to political spending by 501(c)(4) organizations.  Following the Lois Lerner scandal and budget cuts, the exempt organization division shrank; however, the article points out that the unit is rebuilding and adding staff, although the number of staff is still below its peak earlier in the decade.  According to the new division chief who replaced Lerner, the “division’s priority is to ‘stay on top of our application inventory, and probably the exam side of the house is going to suffer for that.’”
  • South Dakota Ballot Measure Money Ban Challenged:  Initiated Measure 24, which was approved by 55% of the voters last November, banned contributions by out-of-state entities to ballot measure committees.  The Attorney General’s analysis indicated that “the measure is likely to be challenged on constitutional grounds.”  The Daily Republic reports that 6 plaintiffs, including a group backed by the Koch brothers, filed suit last week to challenge the ban.
  • Pay-to-Play by the Book, Part II: We previously reported on the Mayor of Baltimore’s troubles when it was disclosed that she was selling self-published children’s books to local entities. Now, CNN reports that federal agents executed search warrants this week at her home, her offices, and the office of her attorney.  Meanwhile, the Baltimore Sun reports that as a result of the Mayor’s actions, the City Council is considering new ethics rules, the city ethics board has opened an investigation, and the State Prosecutor is also investigating the matter.
  • Lobbyist Behavior in the Rockies:  While some states have taken steps through training and threats to pull credentials, Colorado has “no mechanism to hold lobbyists and other third parties who work (in the capitol) accountable if they harass someone,” according to Colorado Public Radio.  The article notes that, “the legislature has spent nearly $400,000 dealing with workplace harassment so far.”  However, as the session draws to a close, the legislature has yet to agree on a plan, although both houses appear to be ready to set up bipartisan committees to deal with harassment.