HomeEssential Ethics / JANUARY 25, 2019

Essential Ethics

JANUARY 25, 2019

Latest Developments:

  • The Mayor of Washington, D.C. signed a major campaign finance measure, Bill 22-107 (now C. Act 22-578).  Among other things, the measure enacts pay-to-play restrictions on contractors, prohibits lobbyists from bundling contributions, and moves the Office of Campaign Finance to a new independent Campaign Finance Board.  The bill also raises the threshold for reporting independent expenditures from $50 to $1,000 and requires PACs to create a segregated account in order to make independent expenditures.  The measure takes effect in February, following a 30-day Congressional review period.
  • The United States Senate issued a notice this week to registered lobbyists reminding them that lobbyists must disclose any convictions for certain financial and related crimes on all registrations and quarterly reports filed after January 3, 2019, following enactment of the JACK Act.
  • The Washington State Public Disclosure Commission met this week.  The Commission’s agenda included an attachment that indicates the Commission plans adopt permanent regulations for the Washington Disclose Act in the next six months.  Staff has also recommended that the Commission update interpretations regarding (1) the “primary purpose” test to determine if an organization is subject to regulation; and, (2) online campaign activities.  The Commission adopted revisions to its current interpretations for pre-election reports and for contributions made online and via text message.

In Case You Missed It:

  • More Authority Needed:  The Vermont Ethics Commission, which was created only a year ago, is seeking to expand its authority.  According to VTDigger, the Commission is seeking investigatory authority, along with additional staff to conduct examinations.
  • More Lobbyist Reporting:  The New Mexico Legislature is fast-tracking a bill to revise lobbyist reporting rules.  New Mexico in Depth reports that a bill two years ago “inadvertently” dropped the requirement that lobbyists report expenditures under $100.  The changes made by SB 191 would require that expenditures under $100 be reported, in the aggregate, on the lobbyist’s report.  The bill is part of the legislature’s “Rocket Docket,” and has passed the State Senate in the space of one week.
  • More Lobbyist Spending:  Lobbyist spending has significantly increased in Connecticut, according to the Hartford Courant.  A hospital group spent $9.7 in its lobby effort over 4 years; a casino group spent $7.2 million over 3 years.  Total spending on lobbying last year was $97 million, which is up from $75 million in 2011-2012.
  • More Complaints:  The Arkansas Ethics Commission is overwhelmed by the number of complaints it has received within the last year.  The Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette reports that the agency is “at the breaking point.”  Commission investigations have led to five state lawmakers’ convictions for federal crimes in the past 3 years, but the agency remains underfunded and needs more investigative staff.