HomeEssential Ethics / July 22, 2022

Essential Ethics

July 22, 2022

Latest Developments:

  • The California Fair Political Practices Commission met on July 21st and decided several pending matters. Notably, the Commission adopted a regulation to “repeal the existing prohibition on cryptocurrency campaign contributions…and [which] permit[s] the making of contributions with cryptocurrency though a payment processor.” The Associated Press notes that “California had been one of nine states that prohibited cryptocurrency contributions. Twelve states, plus Washington D.C., allow cryptocurrency contributions in some form.”
  • The City of Brentwood, California will enact municipal campaign finance limitsThe Press reports that the City Council voted unanimously on two ordinances which would limit contributions to “$500 per contributor per candidate…[and] also use $25,000 of the general fund in order to enforce the proposed limits.” The limits take effect at once under an emergency ordinance. As detailed in previous blogs, a change in California law requires localities to adopt their own limits or default to state limits.

In Case You Missed It:

  • Build Back K-Street: Politico details the “boom” in federal lobbying activity and spending as negotiations continue on ambitious legislation packages. Recently filed second quarter disclosures released just this week reveal that “[b]usiness on K Street remained white hot…with many firms only building on the record-breaking lobbying revenues they saw over the same period a year ago” when a multi-trillion legislation package was under consideration. Of note, only two of the top twenty firms disclosed a dip in fees from the previous quarter and eight firms experienced revenue growth of at least ten percent.
  • Sunshine on Using PACs for Legal Bills: The Tallahassee Democrat reports on the curious, though not unprecedented, phenomenon of Political Action Committees using funds ostensibly raised for campaign contribution bundling to cover ex-candidates’ criminal defense expenses. In the case of the unsuccessful 2018 Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, the PAC that spent lavishly on his campaign and is at the center of his alleged ethics violations is now spending hundreds of thousands on his legal defense. Gillum and an advisor “were indicted in June…[for] wire fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud for allegedly funneling campaign donations into their own bank accounts.” By 2020, the PAC in question “spent more than $700,000 on legal expenses related to the FBI probe” and recently paid Gillum’s lawyers another $440,181.
  • Campaign Finance Overhaul Stalled in Anaheim:  The ethically beleaguered City of Anaheim failed to pass campaign finance reform measures at its City Council meeting last week. Voice of OC reports that multiple proposals surfaced for addressing the multi-layered Orange County scandals that have emerged this year. The Council reached consensus in June for a proposal that would “require donor-related vote recusals if the money came from a PAC…[and place] restrictions on campaign debt, an issue…tied to some of the bribery and quid-pro-quo schemes alleged by the FBI.” The council still deadlocked on the “tamer version” proposed this month which did not contain these provisions.