HomeEssential Ethics / December 30, 2022

Essential Ethics

December 30, 2022

Latest Developments:

  • The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued a denied a rehearing in CREW v. FEC, and the court decreed that “The Federal Election Commission’s decision to dismiss a complaint on the grounds of prosecutorial discretion is not judicially reviewable…” The opinion acknowledges that the “dissent expresses consternation about the inability of this court to oversee the Commission’s non-enforcement decisions. But nowhere does it contest that the Commission retains prosecutorial discretion…”
  •  President Biden approved 3905, which requires the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council to update regulations to require executive agencies to establish or update conflict of interest provisions that pertain to federal contractors. The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs issued a press release explaining the measure.

In Case You Missed It:

  • Charitable Access to the Supremes: An article in the New York Times has raised eyebrows: The Supreme Court Historical Society “has raised more than $23 million over the last two decades. Because of its nonprofit status, it does not have to publicly disclose its donors — and declined when asked to do so.” However, the Times dug further and asserts that “at least $4.7 million came from individuals or entities in years when they had a pending interest in a federal court case on appeal or at the high court…”
  • Florida Revolving-Door Troubles: The Miami Herald describes the efforts to stop a new 6-year revolving-door prohibition for all Florida public officials. Five local officials have filed a federal lawsuit to block the law from taking effect. They argue that “Lobbying has ‘unfairly become encrusted with insidious connotations’…” and that the law is “too broad and that it violates their constitutional rights to freedom of speech.” The district court judge denied a temporary order to block the measure but set a hearing for later in January.
  • Zombies in CaliforniaCal Matters describes the state of leftover campaign funds (“zombie accounts”) of former California officeholders who have opened accounts, but not actually run for any office in the recent election cycle. “CalMatters counted campaign funds for the Legislature and state constitutional offices that politicians are sitting on years after leaving their positions, that are in committees for past races or for which the candidate did not end up running.” Former four-term Governor Jerry Brown has over $13,000,000 in leftover campaign funds.
  • Miami Beach Contribution Prohibition Work-Around: The Miami Herald (posted on MSN) notes that “Developers and lobbyists seeking certain city approvals, as well as active city vendors, are barred from donating to campaigns under rules that have expanded over the past two decades.” Nevertheless, the article presents a laundry list of ways to circumvent city limits, including contributions from spouses and family members and contributions to PACs.
  • No Limits on But Reporting of Connecticut Inaugural Contributions: States have taken different approaches to inaugural committees. The Connecticut Mirror reports that “Since at least 1998, the Office of State Ethics and its predecessor, the State Ethics Commission, has given the same advice: Connecticut law places no limits on contributions from lobbyists, their clients or contractors for inaugurals.” However, the 1998 informal opinion “advised that contributions from lobbyists would ‘foster goodwill and are, therefore, an expense in furtherance of lobbying. The lobbyist will need to include the total amount contributed on its financial disclosure form.’”