HomeEssential Ethics / AUGUST 24, 2018

Essential Ethics

AUGUST 24, 2018

Latest Developments:

The Governor of New York signed SB 4761, which bans the use of placement agents, including registered lobbyists, who seek to obtain investments by the New York State Common Retirement Fund.  The bill takes effect immediately.

The Los Angeles City Ethics Commission met Tuesday, August 21.  The Commission’s agenda included possible action on various proposed campaign finance changes.  The result, according to the Los Angeles Times, is that the Commission tabled a proposal to ban contributions from real estate developers.  However, the Commission approved increased public financing provisions (matching funds) and sent that proposal to the City Council for consideration.

The Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission voted this week to permit the use of campaign funds to pay for child care, according to KCUR.  The intent is to make it easier for parents to run for office.  The move follows a similar decision by the Federal Election Commission earlier this year, as reported by NPR.

The Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission asked the Legislature to amend the state’s ethics provisions.  According to WPFLthe Commission is seeking authority to dismiss politically motivated charges when the complainant makes public statements about the case.  The commission also proposed provisions requiring additional gift disclosure and clarifying that the Commission has jurisdiction over those who have left office.

The Baltimore City Council gave initial approval to an ordinance that would require quarterly lobbyist disclosure reports instead of annual reports.  A final vote on the Transparency in Lobbying Act is scheduled for September 17, 2018.


Our annual Essential Ethics Workshop will be held on Wednesday, September 5 at the University Club in Washington, D.C. from 12:30 – 2 p.m.  We’ll be discussing new developments in political law, sharing experiences and best practices for responding to lobby audits, and discussing the potential changes to the Supreme Court’s campaign finance precedent in light of the upcoming appointment of a new Justice.   This event is free and open to all clients.  Contact Donna Flanagan for more information.

In case you missed it:

  • First Amendment Lawsuit FiledCourthouse News Services reports that a coalition of press entities, including the Washington Post, has filed suit to block Maryland’s new online political ad disclosure law.  The plaintiffs contend that the law is unconstitutional for its regulation of newspapers, including the threat of criminal prosecution for non-compliance, and that its provisions are unconstitutionally vague and overbroad.  They also assert that the law is impossible to follow and conflicts with the Communications Decency Act of 1996.  As we reported earlier, Google announced that it could not comply with the law and therefore would no longer accept political ads in Maryland, but Facebook is on board with the law.
  • More Money, eh? The Richland Standard reports that Canada’s Lobby Czar is seeking a budget increase to modernize the office and respond to growing demands.  Her budget has not been increased in 10 years, despite an increase in the number of lobbyists.  The office is seeking money to fund a new website and updates to the lobby registry.
  • Looking for a Drain in the Swamp: Elizabeth Warren has proposed “sweeping anti-corruption legislation according to Politico.  The Anti-Corruption and Integrity Act proposes a lifetime ban on lobbying by the President, members of Congress, and cabinet officials.  It would also impose a six-year revolving-door restriction on other federal officials and ban lobbying by foreign governments and companies.  The measure would ban lobbyist campaign contributions, contingency fees, and gifts to members of Congress.
  • Please, No Green from Grass: According to the New York Times, Wells Fargo noticed a candidate for Florida Agriculture Commissioner was “advocating for expanded patient access to medical marijuana.”  The bank asked the campaign if it would accept contributions from lobbyists and others in the medical marijuana industry.  After the campaign replied affirmatively, the bank closed the campaign’s account.  Bank of America, Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase said their banks did not have policies that would prevent them from offering services to a candidate who accepts money from that industry.