HomeEssential Ethics / April 30, 2024

Essential Ethics

April 30, 2024

Latest Developments:

  • Recently argued before the Supreme Court, Snyder v. United States has the potential to make it harder to prosecute public officials on charges of corruption, according to an MSNBC opinion piece by a law professor and former Chair of the L.A. City Ethics Commission. The Wall Street Journal has a detailed analysis of the case.
  • Federal Elections Commission Complaint: A Santa Clara Deputy District Attorney filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging that congressional candidate Sam Liccardo illegally coordinated with a “dark money” PAC to request a recount, as reported by the San Jose Mercury News. The candidate came in first in California’s primary in which the top-two candidates proceed to the general election regardless of party affiliation. In an extraordinary turn of events, two candidates tied for second place setting up a three-way race in November. To date, about 20 ballots have been contested in the recount.
  • The Philadelphia Board of Ethics adopted amendments to its Campaign Finance Regulations, which bolster restrictions on coordination with fundraisers and super PACs and revise provisions related to litigation committees, inaugural committees, and transition committees. The Philadelphia Inquirer explains how some of the changes arose as a result of coordination in the last Mayor’s race. The amendments take effect after review by the law department.
  • The Chicago Board of Ethics determined that it has no power to enforce a Mayoral Executive Order that prohibits registered lobbyists from contributing to a mayoral campaign committee. The board’s opinion, which dropped charges against four registered lobbyists, recommended that the provisions be codified so the board could enforce the rule in the future.
  • The Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission issued a notice that it lost all data from lobbyist and lobbyist employer filings after March 18, 2024, including all forms for the March 1 to 31 period, which were due April 15. Filers must resubmit those filings by April 30 and may ignore the automatic warning that filings after April 15 are late.


  • The Practising Law Institute presents Advanced Topics in Ethics and Compliance 2024: State and Local Government Contracts on May 14, 2024, at 1:30 PM Eastern Time in New York City. An online option is also available. Moderated by Elli Abdoli of Nielsen Merksamer, the panel features NM’s Jason Kaune as well as David Bainbridge, General Counsel for the California Fair Political Practices Commission. More information and registration available here.

In Case You Missed It:

  • Hawaii Pay-to-Play Epic Failure: The New York Times reports that Hawaii’s pay-to-play ban on corporate contractor contributions to officials resulted in late night fundraisers raking in cash from owners, employees, and businesses related to the banned corporate contractors.
  • Los Angeles Inches Toward Reform: The Los Angeles Daily News reports that LA City Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on City Governance Reform unanimously approved a proposal to increase fines for ethics violations, tighten conflict of interest rules, and increase the independence of the city’s Ethics Commission.
  • Official Transparency Lacking: San Jose Spotlight reports that city officials are failing to report their meetings with lobbyists. Council members blame the sunshine law violations on oversights, limited time, and lack of staff.
  • Vacancies in Paradise: The Maui County Board of Ethics, which has no staff and no separate budget, has four vacancies on its nine-member board, creating a problem with establishing a quorum, according to the Honolulu Civil Beat.
  • Prisoners as Lobbyists: The Oregon Capital Chronicle reports on the increase in the number of incarcerated people testifying before the Washington State legislature regarding bills since virtual testimony became common during the pandemic.