HomeEssential Ethics / July 18, 2023

Essential Ethics

July 18, 2023

Latest Developments:

  • Hawaii Prohibits Lobbyist Campaign Contributions and Expenditures: Hawaii SB 1493 was signed into law and effective immediately, it prohibits, during any legislative session and the five days before and after each session, lobbyist contributions and expenditures, and promises of contributions or expenditures, to an elected official, candidate, or candidate committee.
  • Oakland Delays Roll-Out of Democracy Dollars Program: The City of Oakland Public Ethics Commission (PEC) issued a press release, indicating that the Democracy Dollars program, a campaign financing program that allows city residents to assign vouchers or campaign money to candidates of their choice, is postponed for a roll-out in 2026 because the city budget did not include funding for the program for the 2024 election cycle. It remains to be seen how this delay might impact whether companies, and those in the private sector, decide to make contributions to candidates in Oakland. Oakland’s general campaign contribution limits still apply.

In Case You Missed It:

  • California Legislature Shelves Election-Related Bills: CalMatters reports that the “most sweeping bills to change California elections got shelved in the Legislature.” With respect to campaign finance reform, AB 83, which would have prohibited foreign-influenced businesses from contributing to California campaigns, was shelved by its author. According to the article, lawmakers are now focused on lifting the ban on public financing of campaigns, ballot measure language, the redistricting process, and the security of voting systems.
  • Indictment Filed Against People Who Allegedly Orchestrated Straw Donations to New York City’s MayorAP News reports that six people, including individuals representing companies with business before New York City, were charged in an alleged scheme to orchestrate straw donations to Mayor Eric Brown’s campaign during the months leading to his election. According to the article, since those with business before the city are barred from donating more than $400, “the defendants devised a scheme to donate to the campaign under the names of…employees, without their knowledge.” The executive director of a watchdog group warned against attempts to “game the system because you will be caught.”
  • Presidential Candidate Raises Legal Questions by Offering Gift Cards to Donors: The Daily Beast reports that presidential candidate, Doug Burgum, is offering a $20 gift card to individuals who donate $1 to his campaign in an effort to draw enough donors to qualify for the Republican National Committee debate stage. Campaign finance experts are divided on legality. Some don’t see a violation of the law while others raise legal questions, such as whether the ploy “appears to be a reimbursement scheme, which would violate the “straw donor” ban – contributions in the name of another person,” and whether “it could add up to… an en masse conversion of…campaign funds to personal use.” Burgum’s spokesperson insists that the giveaway is an outright gift to people who are hurting due to inflation.