HomeEssential Ethics / FEBRUARY 15, 2019

Essential Ethics

FEBRUARY 15, 2019

Latest Developments:

  • The New Mexico Legislature finally introduced a bill to implement a state ethics commission.  Following adoption at the November election of a state constitutional amendment that required creation of an independent ethics commission, a 49-page bill was introduced this week to set up the commission.  According to the Albuquerque Journal4 is the only bill on the subject to be introduced since the legislative session began on January 15.
  • The Georgia State Ethics Commission is moving quickly to fill the position of Executive Director, following the incumbent’s resignation at the end of last week, according to com.  Stefan Ritter left amid an investigation/scandal; the Commission is seeking a replacement who is a member of the Georgia bar, preferably with 10 years of professional experience.

In Case You Missed It:

  • Problems with Revolving Doors: The latest group of ex-lawmakers who are seeking government relations work without registering as lobbyists are facing growing criticism, according to The Hill.  The article notes that “(c)ritics say former lawmakers have been the biggest offenders when it comes to working in the influence world without formally registering.”  However, a source told The Hill that, “(t)here’s a difference between being paid to provide clients with insights and advice based on your experience and being paid to pick up the phone and make direct contacts with federal officials and advocate on behalf of clients.”
  • A Former Regulator seeks to be among the Regulated: Ann Ravel, former Chair of the Federal Election Commission and former Chair of the California Fair Political Practices Commission has filed papers to run for a California State Senate seat, according to the San Jose Mercury News.  She joins a crowded field of candidates who are seeking to succeed a termed-out state senator.
  • Pay-to-Play Laws Generate Lawsuit:  Courthouse News reports that an Illinois property management firm has challenged the Illinois pay-to-play laws in federal court.  The Habitat Company lost a state management contract when its majority owner and his wife made contributions to gubernatorial candidates.  In The Habitat Co. et al v. Illinois Housing Development Authority et al, the plaintiffs challenge the Illinois Procurement Act as violating the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
  • Disclosure of Independent Expenditures Lags:  The Associated Press reports that following the decision last August in Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington v. the Federal Election Commission, observers expected more disclosure of independent expenditures.  But the Federal Election Commission’s guidance following the decision failed to generate more transparency.   Only 8% of groups making independent expenditures revealed their donors, according to the article.
  • Should the National Inquirer Register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act?:  The United States Department of Justice responded to a request for an advisory opinion about whether a media company should register as a foreign agent after publishing a “fawning” report about a foreign leader that coincided with the leader’s visit.  NBC News reports that the media company in question is AMI, the parent of the National Enquirer, and the leader was the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.
  • Lobbyists Don’t Wait in the Lobby Anymore:  They pay someone to do it for them.  According to MSN News, neophyte Rep. Ocasio-Cortez was shocked to learn that there’s a thriving business of people who stand in line for congressional hearings and hold a place for lobbyists.  The article quotes Linestanding.com (“a leader in the Congressional line standing business since 1985”) as indicating that the current rate is $48 per hour, with a recommended 24 hours for high profile hearings.  Supreme Court line standing has gone for as much as $6,000 for a single oral argument.