HomeEssential Ethics / May 13, 2024

Essential Ethics

May 13, 2024

Latest Developments:

  • Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves approved HB 1664, which expands gift and campaign contribution restrictions for public utilities officials and employees from interested persons to “covered persons.” Covered persons now include persons acting at the request of an owner, agent, or representative, as well as any person, or their agent, who submits a filing with the Public Service Commission in the previous 48 months.
  • Georgia Governor Brian Kemp vetoed SB 368, which would have banned contributions from foreign nationals and required agents of foreign principals to register and file disclosure reports. The measure would have applied to persons who engage in political activities, make contributions, or engage in public relations for or representation of a foreign principal in the state. The Governor’s veto message indicates that he vetoed the measure at the request of the sponsor, noting that those political contributions are prohibited by federal law and some of the state-level registration requirements were unintended by the sponsor.
  • The Federal Election Commission issued Opinion AO 2024-25, concluding that federal candidates and officeholders are not limited by federal contribution limits when raising funds for an organization that supports or opposes a state ballot measure.
  • The New York State Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government published draft amendments to its lobby regulations. Among other things, the regulations offer clarification in the identification of the responsible party regarding filing of lobbyist or lobbyist employer reports.
  • Lobbyist Audits: Politico (near the lower half of the California Playbook) reviewed the California Fair Political Practices Commission recent report by its Audit Division (page 7) which found that four out of five entities investigated failed in some manner to properly register or report. SB 1404, pending in the legislature, would transfer authority to conduct the audits from the Franchise Tax Board – which has struggled to complete required audits – to the Commission itself.
  • A Federal Grand Jury in Houston, Texas, issued an indictment charging Congressman Henry Cuellar with accepting bribes that were structured as sham consulting contracts with foreign-owned oil companies.
  • The City of Chesapeake, Virginia, will require lobbyist disclosure in connection with planning applications beginning this month. The Virginia-Pilot explains that rather than adopt an ordinance, the city council directed city staff to make the change administratively.
  • The Pennsylvania Department of State, Bureau of Campaign Finance & Lobbying Disclosure announced that lobbyist equity reports can now be filed online through the Pennsylvania Lobbying Disclosure website.


  • The Practising Law Institute presents Advanced Topics in Ethics and Compliance 2024: State and Local Government Contracts on May 14, 2024, at 1:30 PM Eastern Time in New York City. An online option is also available. Moderated by Elli Abdoli of Nielsen Merksamer, the panel features NM’s Jason Kaune, as well as David Bainbridge, General Counsel for the California Fair Political Practices Commission. More information and registration available here.

In Case You Missed It:

  • Updated California Pay-to-Play Too Restrictive: Cal Matters describes efforts in the legislature to pull back from a broad expansion of pay-to-play laws. A recent change extended the restrictions to most local officials. Now a legislator is proposing SB 1243 to raise the permissible contribution limit from $250 to $1,000 and exempt some groups like unions and housing developers.
  • Corporate Contributions Threatened: Bloomberg reports on a strategy pushed by progressives to limit corporate influence in elections by bringing shareholder lawsuits.
  • Corporate Support for Political Conventions Waivers: NBC News reports that major corporations are reluctant to get too involved in political conventions this year, seeing little financial return and the potential for violent protests. Moreover, a progressive civil rights group is threatening to launch a campaign against any company that sponsors the Republican National Convention. Democrats remain concerned and expect to lose support as well due to the long-standing history of corporations supporting both major party conventions.
  • Online Fundraising: Politico details the rise of online fundraising from small donors who are giving to more candidates and more frequently. The analysis discusses who is benefiting, who is being targeted, and where the money comes from.
  • Legislator Convicted on Conflict Charges:  According to the North Dakota Monitor, a legislator with a financial interest in a building and its renovation contractor was convicted by a jury of misdemeanor conflict-of-interest charges for voting on budgets for the Attorney General and the Department of Health, both of which leased space in the building.