HomeEssential Ethics / February 10, 2023

Essential Ethics

February 10, 2023

Latest Developments:

  • The U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, in WinRed, Inc. v. Ellison, determined that federal campaign finance law does not preempt a state from enforcing a state’s consumer protection law that prohibits deceptive practices. According to the decision, the case arose from the use of pre-checked boxes and began when several attorneys general “sent WinRed a letter expressing concern about consumers being ‘charged for regular contributions that they did not intend and could not afford.’” WinRed asserted that because it “is a PAC engaged only in federal elections, its fundraising practices are governed exclusively by FECA [Federal Election Campaign Act], not state law.”
  • The San Francisco Ethics Commission’s new regulations on behested payments took effect this past week. The commission explains that the new regulations, among other things, clearly define what it means to solicit a behested payment, further define “interested party,” and provide additional details regarding indirect solicitations and public appeals.


The Practising Law Institute presents “Corporate Social Responsibility: Evaluating Political Activity Compliance in the Current Crossfire on February 13, at 3 p.m. Eastern, Noon Pacific time. Register here for the one-hour program with Evann Whitelam and Jason Kaune of Nielsen Merksamer. The session will explore current topics, including social responsibility and “woke capitalism,” as they pertain to corporate political activity compliance and discuss ways to minimize reputational and legal risks while protecting shareholder value in the current crossfire.

In Case You Missed It:

  • A. Lobbyist Changes Advancing: The Los Angeles City Ethics Commission issued a press release describing a city council committee’s approval of changes to the city’s Municipal Lobbying Ordinance. The Commission initially sent the proposed changes to the Council last May. According to the release, the “committee voted to recommend approval of all recommendations, with a few amendments.” Spectrum News details the efforts and points out that “The city’s Municipal Lobbying Ordinance has not been comprehensively updated since its adoption in 1994.”
  • Ignorance of the (Lobby) Law is No Excuse: The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that “A prominent Minneapolis cycling and pedestrian advocacy group has been fined by state regulators for failing to register its employees as lobbyists.” The group “was ordered to pay a civil penalty of $4,000 and file lobbying spending reports for four previous years…” The cycling organization “acknowledged that many of its employees do perform lobbying activities, as defined in state law, but maintained that it hadn’t realized it had been doing so.”
  • Newest Zombie Campaign AccountsRoll Call discloses that members of the last Congress, who did not seek re-election, “still hold nearly $54 million in leftover political money… Those funds cannot be used for personal expenses, but ex-lawmakers may use that money to make political donations and charitable contributions. They are under no time pressure to purge the money, either, and can sit on old campaign cash to use later, including for future runs for office.”