HomeEssential Ethics / August 12, 2022

Essential Ethics

August 12, 2022

Latest Developments:

  • The US DOJ Office of Government Ethics released a report detailing the finding of “its annual survey of prosecutions involving the conflict of interest criminal statutes…and other related statutes for calendar year 2021.” According to FedWeek[t]he cited cases primarily involved charges of conflict of interests arising from bribery but also involved issues of improper supplementation of salary, false statements, unauthorized representation of claims against the government…among others.” The OGE hopes that the survey will serve as “a useful resource ethics officials can use to educate employees about how these laws apply in real-world situations.”
  • The Missouri Ethics Commission published guidance on the particulars of the regulations allowing certain corporations to directly make campaign contributions in anticipation of changes in statute which will become effective August 28thThe changes allow LLCs in operation for more than a year to directly make contributions if they “indicate that…[they are] a legitimate business with a legitimate business interest and…not created for the sole purpose of making campaign contributions.” As the Louis Post-Dispatch reports, the changes come some four years “after former Gov. Eric Greitens was investigated for using ‘shell companies’ to bankroll his 2016 campaign for governor… [with investigations] suggesting that the…governor’s campaign worked to conceal the identity of donors.” The statutory change was approved by the current governor as HB 2400.

In Case You Missed It:

  • Lawmakers Want More Federal Contractor Disclosure: Some 65 members of Congress singed a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to tighten reporting and other regulatory burdens for federal contractors. According to FCWthe signatories are “calling for an executive order that would mandate political spending disclosures for large federal contractors, many of which spend millions on political action committees during election cycles to get around federal laws barring contractors from making political expenditures.” In response, the organization which represents many federal contractors retorted that, “[i]n addition to providing no new information, the proposed reporting would slow down a contracting process that is already too slow in meeting government needs today and might actually undermine trust rather than increase it.”
  • “Gold Clubs” aren’t Just for Flying: Politico reports on the emerging trend of so-called “gold clubs”: elite and expensive places where lobbyists are promised intimate and fancy settings with lawmakers and which carry a corresponding price tag. The so-called clubs are, in fact, access to a “bundle” of campaign events, where attendance is capped in the dozens and facetime with top officials is almost a given, allowing lobbyists “the opportunity to develop almost a familial relationship with him or her over a series of them.” The phenomenon is meant to preference individual donors over PAC donations and lawmakers term their donors with such euphemisms as “kitchen cabinet” or “season pass” holders. Critics contend that, while similar concepts have existed for some time, their current popularity “offer[s] a way for campaigns to lock in significant donations from individuals amid an insatiable need to raise money.”
  • Who’s Picking up the Tab?: A discreet and undisclosed extravagant soiree between Pennsylvania legislators and lobbyists has garnered attention from local media and is leaving watchdog groups wondering who might be covering the bill. The Pittsburg Post-Gazette provides details on the invitation-only gathering of a group of Keystone state lawmakers to which lobbyists were invited to provide various levels of sponsorship, which, under state law, went unreported. Watchdog groups lament that the event underscores that “Pennsylvania is among a minority of states that places no limits on the value of gifts special interests can give legislators…[and that] the Legislature has blocked nearly every effort to limit the ability of special interests to shower lawmakers with dinners, drinks and travel” or otherwise enhance reporting requirements.