HomeEssential Ethics / AUGUST 3, 2018

Essential Ethics

AUGUST 3, 2018

Latest Developments:

The New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) met on July 31.  The Commission highlighted its efforts to educate the public on the new lobby regulations that take effect on January 1.  The Commission will hold an educational program in Albany on September 20 for lobbyists and others to learn about the new regulations.  That program will be posted later on the Commission’s website.  The Commission has also issued a “Key Features” document that is an effort to put highlights of the new regulations in plain English.  In addition, the Commission will host an educational seminar on the First Amendment and lobbying in October.

A North Dakota Ethics constitutional amendment is the first measure to qualify for the November Ballot.  The West Fargo Pioneer reports that the initiative measure would “prevent lobbyists from giving gifts to public officials and would establish an ethics commission that could investigate public officials, candidates, and lobbyists.”

In case you missed it:

  • In Oklahoma, it’s the Legislature vs. the Ethics CommissionNewsOK reports on the continuing battle between the state’s legislature and the Oklahoma Ethics Commission over budget appropriations for the new fiscal year.  The Commission requested $4.5 million but received only $710,000 from the legislature.  The matter is before the State Supreme Court.  The Commission’s counsel suggested the agency was underfunded because it has imposed new restrictions on legislators, including limiting gifts from lobbyists.
  • Dems and GOP agree on something: How to use PACs to fund luxury lifestyles. NBC News takes a look at a new report by the Campaign Legal Center, which documents incredible amounts of leadership PAC money spent to support federal officeholders’ over-the-top lifestyles.
  • Soda Tax Proponents Failed to Report Lobby Activity: Philadelphians for Fair Future, which raised over $2 million to promote a tax on soda, was fined more than $8,000 for multiple ethics violations, including failure to register and report its lobby activities.  The Philadelphia Business Journal reports the group hired five different firms and individuals who lobbied on its behalf, but all failed to register as lobbyists and neither the lobbyists nor PFF reported any of the activity.  PFF characterized the matter as “simple filing errors” that were inadvertent.
  • Liberals have Dark Money too: The Sixteen Thirty Fund has been identified as the source of funding for a myriad of liberal causes.  Politico characterizes the group as a secret organization using the type of structure developed by the Koch brothers.  The group has engaged in advocacy in about a dozen congressional races in 2018.
  • Pay-to-Play in New York StateChief Investment Officer reports that a New York State Common Retirement Fund portfolio manager was sentenced to 21 months in prison for taking bribes in the form of “prostitutes, narcotics, travel, lavish meals, tickets to sporting events, luxury gifts, and cash payments.”  A managing director for Sterne Agee and a Vice President of FTN Financial also pled guilty to providing the bribes.
  • Reform of the Foreign Agents Registration Act appears to be supported by both sides of the aisle. But Rollcall reports that congressional efforts to update FARA have stalled just as Paul Manafort goes to trial on a wide variety of charges, including the allegation that he failed to register as required under FARA.  Although a dozen or more bills have been introduced, no single bill has emerged with any momentum.