HomeEssential Ethics / DECEMBER 7, 2018

Essential Ethics

DECEMBER 7, 2018

Latest Developments:

  • The Mayor of Baltimore, Maryland signed Ordinance 18-0230 on December 3, 2018.  That measure will require semi-annual lobbyist activity reporting on July 31 and January 31, in place of the annual reports previously required.  The ordinance takes effect 90 days after enactment or 30 days after development of an online tool to permit lobbyists to file reports electronically, whichever is later.
  • The Federal Election Commission met on December 6.  The agenda included a discussion of an opinion on whether a member of Congress may use campaign money to pay for cyber security for his personal devices; however, once again, the commission deferred action until its next meeting – next week. Also next week, several Commission members and staff members will be attending and presenting in programs at the Council on Governmental Ethics Laws (COGEL).

COGEL Bluebook:

  • The Council on Governmental Ethics Laws (COGEL) meets December 9 to 12.  The conference is designed for government ethics administrators from around North America.  Jason Kaune of Nielsen Merksamer will moderate a panel discussion entitled, “Campaign Finance Update: The ‘Must Know’ Litigation Developments,” with FEC Assistant General Counsel Charles Kitcher and Megan McAllen from the Campaign Legal Center.  Nielsen Merksamer edits an annual bluebook, compiled from government ethics administrators’ contributions and distributed at the conference.  The bluebook includes a synopsis of all major campaign finance litigation in the United States and Canada in the past year.  Nielsen Merksamer clients may obtain a free PDF of that publication by requesting a copy through their political attorney.

In case you missed it:

  • Pay-to-Play on the Ropes in D.C.:  The Washington D.C. City Council unanimously approved a pay to play ordinance, according to the Washington Post.  The legislation, which would ban campaign contributions from city contractors with more than $250,000 in contracts, still requires the approval of the Mayor and is subject to review by the U.S. Congress.
  • Gifts of Travel Results in Trip out the Door:  Saskatchewan employees who accepted a gift of a trip to the PGA Championship in Charlotte, North Carolina were fired for accepting a gift from a vendor that had not been pre-approved, according to CBC News.  Their employer, Saskatchewan eHealth, has a policy expressly forbidding that type of travel.  Nevertheless employees took other vendor-paid travel that was pre-approved by their agency; however, sometimes that “pre-approval” was signed after the trip was taken.  According to one expert who was interviewed, “Companies offer these things for a reason – because it’s part of their own cost of doing business. They’re trying to curry favour, build relationships and that’s really part of their marketing.”
  • Don’t Run for Office without Consulting a Good Political Law Attorney:  An incoming freshman Florida congressman is facing FEC fines and possible jail time for large loans to his campaign that went unreported for months, according to Roll Call.  The Member-elect loaned his campaign $167,000 and borrowed another $190,000 from friends, far in excess of campaign limits, and failed to file disclosure reports until just before the election.  The loans initially were reported by the Tampa Bay Times on the eve of the election.

Meeting Notices:

  • The Federal Election Commission meets again on December 13.  The agenda includes a discussion of an opinion on whether a member of Congress may use campaign money to pay for cyber security for his personal devices.