HomeEssential Ethics / MARCH 30, 2018

Essential Ethics

MARCH 30, 2018

Latest Developments:

New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics met on March 27, 2018.  Staff demonstrated a new website that will become available to the public next week.  The staff has also issued a new Procurement Lobbying Guide.  In addition, the commission discussed pending legislation that would require disclosure of lobbyists’ fundraising activity and also permit debarment of lobbyists who file false statements.  The Commission may bring these up at a future meeting and take a position.  Similar proposals have been in print in the form of Assembly Bills 71617162, and 7163.

Oakland Ethics Commission holds its regular monthly meeting on Monday, April 2, 2018.  As part of the agenda, the Commission lists as a key project for 2018-19 creating an e-filing system for lobbyist registration.  (Currently the Commission asks that registrations be emailed to the Commission, but also accepts registration by mail or facsimile.)

In case you missed it:

  • Politico reports that a federal judge has rejected a request to prohibit the disclosure of donors to a PAC.  In Doe v. FEC, The judged ruled that the FEC has discretion to release the names of donors to the Now or Never PAC in the course of an FEC investigation.
  • The Secretary of the Environmental Protection Agency, who paid $50 a night for a room in a condo on Capitol Hill owned by a health care lobbyist who is married to an energy lobbyist, did not receive a prohibited gift.  USA Today reports that the EPA’s senior ethics counsel found that it was a routine business transaction between friends.  The article says that the watchdog group Public Citizen has asked the EPA’s Inspector General to launch an investigation.
  • S. News and World Report indicates that a bipartisan group in North Dakota is circulating an initiative measure to amend the state’s constitution to create an independent ethics commission.
  • Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvaniahas proposed a wide variety of ethics reforms, including a gift ban for public officials, pay-to-play disclosure of contributions by state contractors, and campaign contribution limits.
  • The Albany Times Union has an article about a New York appellate court’s decision to uphold the state’s “LLC loophole.” Presiding Justice Elizabeth Garry wrote, in a 4-1 decision, that closing the loophole, which allows each limited liability company owned by a person to give up to $150,000 annually in New York elections, “was a matter for the Legislature, not the courts.”
  • Oregon Public Broadcasting reports that earlier this month (March 2018), a judge in Portland struck the $500 contribution limit for candidates in Multnomah County, which was passed by ballot initiative.  An effort is underway to fast track the appeal to the Oregon Supreme Court.
  • The Monterey Herald reports that two Monterey County, California, Supervisors have formed an ad hoc committee to bring campaign finance reform to county races.  The supervisors are holding invitation-only meetings at which they have aim to build support for contribution limits and spending caps for local races.