HomeEssential Ethics / JULY 27, 2018

Essential Ethics

JULY 27, 2018

Latest Developments:

The Governor of Montana has filed suit against the U.S. Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service seeking to block the revenue procedure that eliminates the reporting of the identity of contributors to politically active nonprofits that make political expenditures.  Reuters reports that Governor Steve Bullock believes the loss of reporting will lead to foreign money in U.S. elections. The changes were made by the U.S. Treasury Department in Revenue Procedure 2018-38, as we reported last week.

The New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) meets next Tuesday, July 31, but does not list anything particularly remarkable on its agenda.


August 1 is the PLI One-Hour Briefing on the “Basics of the Federal Election Campaign Act 2018.”  You can sign up at the Practising Law Institute.

In case you missed it:

  • A jury in Alabama convicted an attorney and a coal executive of bribing a state legislator. The Lexington Ledger reports that an attorney from Balch and Bingham along with a Vice President of Drummond Co. were found guilty of conspiracy, bribery, three counts of honest services wire fraud and money laundering.  The defendants asked the legislator to oppose expansion of an EPA Superfund site and prioritization of the cleanup.
  • The Los Angeles Times reports that the California Secretary of State’s efforts to update the state’s website for disclosure of campaign contributions and lobby activity is nearly a year behind schedule and its budget has doubled.
  • The Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission has posted the General Assembly’s sexual harassment policy. As we told you in our May 18, 2018 edition, the Governor of Georgia signed B. 973 on May 10, 2018.  That bill requires all lobbyists to agree to abide by the sexual harassment policy.  The policy applies to lobbyists, “during the period in which they either have legislative business at the state capitol or are doing legislative business with the Senate, the House of Representatives, or a joint office (‘third parties’).”  Lobbyists are required to acknowledge that they have read the policy each time they register.
  • Sunshine in the Orange County, CA Ethics Commission is hard to findThe Voice of OC tells us that Orange County Campaign Finance and Ethics Commission officials have declined to identify persons who were caught violating county campaign finance laws.  Notwithstanding the California Public Records Act, The Voice reports that the “enforcement process was set up to be handled mostly in secret so violations wouldn’t be used in political campaigns.”
  • Congressional Leadership PACs under ScrutinyRoll Call reports that a bipartisan group of retired congressmen have sent a letter to the FEC asking it to re-examine the use of contributions to congressional leadership PACs for expenses such as “country club fees, clothing purchases, and trips to Disneyworld.”  A report indicated that only 45% of the money contributed actually went to candidates or political committees.
  • Calmatters describes some of the recent turmoil at the California Fair Political Practices Commission. Through it all, the commission has settled a record number of cases and imposed more than a million dollars in fines in the last year.  However, it also has an enormous backlog of cases.