HomeEssential Ethics / June 12, 2024

Essential Ethics

June 12, 2024

Latest Developments:

  • Massachusetts Public Employee Pays $17,000 Fine for Accepting Gifts: The Boston Herald reports that a department of public works deputy director has paid a $17,000 civil penalty for violating the state’s conflict of interest law after admitting to accepting free ski trips, a golf outing, and a steakhouse dinner from a water meter manufacturer and its distributor. This fine comes after other public employees paid penalties to resolve similar conflict of interest law violations relating to ski trips.
  • Iowa Ethics Board Not Collecting Fines: The Iowa Capital Dispatch reports that a recent audit of the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board found that notices of violations for failure to comply with campaign finance laws would be sent to candidates’ campaigns, but “…no attempts were made to follow-up or enforce payment of the penalty.”
  • Contributor Acquitted For Bribery Could Still Face State Campaign Violations: A senior employee of an engineering firm was acquitted of all charges for allegedly participating in a bribery scheme, according to the Honolulu Civil Beat, by making multiple contributions to political candidates in her relative’s names. The Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission is now investigating the matter, which could result in further prosecution.
  • S. House Issues Advice on Events: Under new joint guidance issued by the U.S. Committee on Ethics, Committee on House Administration, and Communications Standards Commission, Members of the U.S. House of Representatives may officially co-sponsor “constituent service events” with § 501(c)(3) charitable organizations. “Constituent service events” are events held in the Member’s district that directly provide information or other tangible assistance to constituents.
  • Requests to Withhold, Redact, or Modify Contributors’ Identifying Information: The Federal Election Commission (FEC) issued a Proposed Directive that would adopt a process for the Commission to consider requests to withhold, redact, or modify contributors’ identifying information required to be obtained and reported on federal campaign filings. The Directive would permit the Commission to grant exemptions where organizations or individual contributors demonstrate “a reasonable probability” that such disclosure “will subject [contributors] to threats, harassment, or reprisals from either Government officials or private parties.” Because it was unable to approve the proposed Directive by the required four affirmative votes, the Commission directed the Office of General Counsel to draft a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.
  • Wisconsin Allows Campaign Contributions from Lobbyists: Wisconsin, like many states, prohibits lobbyists from making campaign contributions during the legislative session. With the legislative session now concluded, the state’s Ethics Commission has advised that the window to make contributions is now open until November 5, 2024. The Commission will send updated notifications as it is aware that a special or extraordinary legislative session has been called, because the contribution window would close again during those sessions.


  • The Council on Government Ethics Laws (COGEL) presents a discussion of Legislative Ethics on Thursday, June 27th at 3:00 pm Eastern, 12:00 pm Pacific. Unbecoming: The breakdown of civility & ethical conduct in American & Canadian bodies, moderated by Kedric Payne of the Campaign Legal Center, features U.S. Congressman Dan Goldman (D-NY) and Canadian Senator Brent Cotter (ISG-SK). The program is free to all staff of member organizations. Registration is open on COGEL’s website.

In Case You Missed It:

  • Supreme Court Gives the NRA a First Amendment Win in Suit against New York Officials: The Supreme Court in a unanimous opinion by Justice Sotomayor, held that the National Rifle Association (NRA) had stated a viable claim that the Superintendent of New York’s Department of Financial Services had violated the NRA’s First Amendment rights when she allegedly pressured companies and bank to cut ties with the NRA. Justices Gorsuch and Jackson wrote separate concurring opinions emphasizing that the government may not punish citizens for the views they express.
  • Committee on House Administration Advances Legislation to Prohibit Foreign Funding of U.S. Elections: NACO.org reports that H.R. 8399, the Preventing Foreign Interference in American Elections Act, would prohibit foreign nationals from funding U.S. election administration and get-out-the-vote activities and make clarifications to the existing ban on foreign nationals providing indirect contributions. The legislation would also restrict federal agencies from disclosing the identity of donors to tax-exempt organizations.
  • NYC Mayor Adams’ Involvement in Brother’s Charity Group Event Sparks Concerns Over Backdoor Donors: New York City Mayor Eric Adams’s brother started a charity that aims to fund cultural programs for disadvantaged city kids, according to msn.com.  Although there is no indication the mayor is actively soliciting donations for the charity, concerns have been expressed that donors will see giving to the charity as a legal backdoor for currying favor with the mayor.
  • Iowa Ethics Board Fines Candidate and Her Former Campaign Manager for Illegal Contributions: Iowa Capital Dispatch reports that a congressional candidate and her former campaign manager were each fined $500 by the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board after the board’s investigation found the two made contributions to a state political action committee in other people’s names.