HomeEssential Ethics / January 4, 2024

Essential Ethics

January 4, 2024

Latest Developments: 

  • A U.S. District Court issued a preliminary injunction in Minnesota Chamber of Commerce v. Choi. The Minnesota Reformer reports that the court granted the order to block Minnesota’s recently enacted law that would have restricted political activities by foreign-influenced corporations in state elections. The law was set to take effect January 1, 2024.
  • The City of San Jose, California voted to ban contributions by foreign-influenced corporations in city elections. Free Speech for People reports that “following Minnesota and Seattle,” the city council passed the ordinance, which is based on model legislation developed by Free Speech for People.
  • The City of Orange, California adopted a lobbyist ordinance. The measure, which requires registration and annual activity reports, takes effect 30 days after its adoption on December 12, 2023. 
  • The City of Irvine, California, according to the Orange County Register, is considering changes to its lobbyist ordinance. The council has tasked the City Attorney with drafting amendments, to be presented to the city council at a future date. 
  • The Washington State Public Disclosure Commission updated its lobbyist reporting thresholds, which take effect January 8, 2024. The new thresholds account for inflation and include updated thresholds for grassroots reporting and special reports by nonindividuals. 
  • The Federal Election Commission adopted legislative recommendations for the coming year. Among the requests to congress is a proposal to increase various limits on contributions that have not changed in decades and index those limits for inflation. (See pages 21-24.) The Commission also approved regulations permitting candidates to receive a salary from campaign funds. The final regulations will be published in a future federal register.


In Case You Missed It: 

  • FARA Prosecutions: The United States Department of Justice entered into deferred prosecution agreements with a lobbyist and a political consultant who are accused of lobbying for a foreign government without registering under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). Though not named in the documents, the AP speculates that the country described is Qatar, which paid over $2 million for the lobbying work.
  • New Mexico Treasurer in TroubleKOAT7 reports that the New Mexico Ethics Commission found that the State’s Treasurer, Laura Montoy, violated campaign finance rules by knowingly receiving straw donor donations from a property developer.
  • Did Governor Violate Own Gift Ban?Spotlight PA speculates that Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro violated his own gift policy by accepting tickets, including a trip to the Super Bowl, from a nonprofit that receives state funds.
  • Oregon Junkets: The Oregon Capital Chronicle outlines recent domestic and overseas legislative junkets, but notes that overseas travel provided by lobby groups has become rarer for various reasons including the pandemic and associated travel restrictions, regional conflicts, and the need for prior approval from the House Clerk or Senate Secretary before travel expenses are accepted.