HomeEssential Ethics / MARCH 22, 2019

Essential Ethics

MARCH 22, 2019

Latest Developments:

  • S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals – update:  We previously reported that the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals decided that Missouri’s requirement that all lobbyists register and report their activity even if not receiving compensation is constitutional, in Calzone v. Summers.  The court found that the state has an interest in transparency that transcends whether the person is paid or not.  However, State Policy Network reports that the Eight Circuit has vacated that decision and ordered an en banc hearing, which is scheduled for April.

In Case You Missed It:

  • That was then; this is now: The New York Times reports that while Democrats vowed reform in Albany, NY, the “money still flows.”  According to the article, “[s]tate officials, including Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and legislative leaders past and present, have long talked about the need to revamp campaign finance laws and to limit the influence of lobbyists, but little has changed.”  Democrats are firmly in charge for the first time in several years, but multiple fundraisers are held each night, and proposals to ban that fundraising practice during the legislative session have “gone nowhere.”
  • Rhode Island Racket:  Unsuccessful Rhode Island Congressional candidate Harold Russell Taub pled guilty to misuse of political contributions and wire fraud. As Politico reports, Taub “solicited more than $1.6 million to two organizations he falsely presented as political action committees… [and] used more than half of what he collected for ‘purely personal expenses.” The ruse began during Taub’s 2016 campaign and continued until 2018.
  • Cannabis Conundrum:  The Los Angeles Times details the challenges California’s nascent cannabis industry faces as it undertakes government relations. Under Proposition 64 (2016), which authorized the growing and sale of recreational marijuana, local municipalities have the authority to permit or prohibit the sale of the drug in their particular jurisdictions. Consequently, accusations of bribery and graft have plagued local California officials.  The Times reports that “[i]n the more than two years since California voters approved the licensed growing and sale of recreational marijuana, the state has had a half-dozen government corruption cases as black-market operators try to game the system, through bribery and other means.”


  • Panel on Foreign Political Activities:  What will be the regulatory aftershock of the Mueller Report?  American Bar Association (ABA) members attending the 2019 Annual Conference of the Section of International Law interested in the impact on lobby filings, the latest developments in enforcement of FARA and FCPA, H.R. 1 and state litigation over social media legislation, and the FEC’s pursuit of foreign money should attend a panel called “International Political Influence and Corruption: Will Recent Scandals Lead to Stricter U.S. Regulations” on April 10, 2019 featuring FEC Chair Ellen Weintraub, David Laufman, formerly Chief of the DOJ Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, Severin Wirz, Senior Director of Anti-Corruption at TIAA, and Mike Columbo and Jason Kaune (moderator) of Nielsen Merksamer.