HomeEssential Ethics / January 27, 2023

Essential Ethics

January 27, 2023

Latest Developments: 

  • The New York City Council approved  0855-2022-A, which requires disclosure of independent expenditures exceeding $5,000 that are “in support of or in opposition to any municipal ballot proposal or referendum.” If approved by the Mayor, the measure will take effect January 1, 2024.
  • Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro signed Executive Order 2023-04, which updates the section of The Governor’s Code of Conduct that restricts gifts to executive employees, appointees, and officials. The new order replaces “the total gift ban that had been in place for officials” in the prior administration. The Pittsburg Gazette points out that the new order “is intended to provide a degree of reasonableness that will ensure that lobbyists can’t use gifts to gain undue influence while at the same time ensuring that state officials can accept modest gifts from members of the community.” The exceptions generally do not apply to gifts from “a lobbyist, lobbying firm or principal…”
  • The Federal Communications Commission published proposed rules to implement portions of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) governing exempted phone calls (noncommercial calls to a residence, including political calls). Under the proposal, the previously published substantive rules would take effect July 20, 2023.


  • California Pay-to-Play Briefing, February 9th: Please join Nielsen Merksamer attorneys for a webinar on Thursday, February 9 at 11:00 am (Pacific) to discuss the implementation of SB 1439 and its impact on contributions to local elected officials. Contributors and recipients now face an even more complicated landscape when determining whether a contribution to a local official is permissible and whether an official may be disqualified from participating in a proceeding involving a donor, a participant or their agents. Please RSVP to Donna Flanagan at dflanagan@nmgovlaw.com to attend.
  • The American Bar Association’s Midyear Meeting in New Orleans, February 1 to 6, 2023, includes a track of programs on the rule of law in governance and civic society #ForAll, including a panel on elections chaired by Nielsen Merksamer’s Jason Kaune.

In Case You Missed It:

  • No Disclosure of PA Inaugural: The Associated Press reports that the Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro has not disclosed the donors to his inaugural celebration. The article discusses practices in other states, but notes that Gov. Shapiro’s aides “organized it as a nonprofit 501c(4) organization under federal tax laws that do not require the disclosure of donors or limit who can give or donation amounts.”
  • Two Years in Prison for Violating FARAPolitico reports that “An American consultant was sentenced Wednesday to two years in prison for an illicit lobbying effort to get the former Trump administration to drop an investigation into the multibillion-dollar looting of a Malaysian state investment fund…” According to the article, she “failed to disclose to the federal government that the lobbying effort was done on behalf of a fugitive Malaysian financier who has been charged in the U.S. with conspiring to launder billions of dollars…” 
  • Kansas Senate Campaign Funds Scammed: According to the Associated Press, “Someone scammed U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran’s reelection campaign out of $690,000 by getting the Kansas Republican’s accounting firm to wire the money to fraudulent bank accounts…” According to the report, the “campaign received two fraudulent invoices that appeared to be from SRCP Media Inc., a Washington area company…” 
  • Does “Lobbying for Jesus” Require Registration?: The Nebraska Examiner explores that question with regard to a former pastor who leads a bible study group for state senators. The article states that Common Cause Nebraska asserts that the pastor’s “teachings have led to the introduction of bills.” According to the article, a board member of Common Cause “filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service this fall about the group’s 501(C)(3) status, arguing that Capitol Studies [the bible study group] violates the prohibition of excessive lobbying.