HomeEssential Ethics / MAY 18, 2018

Essential Ethics

MAY 18, 2018

Latest Developments:

The New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics meets next Tuesday, May 22, 2018.  Among the agenda items:

  • A staff report about three legislative proposals, including one to require lobbyist disclosure of campaign contributions and another that would permit debarment of lobbyists for failure to file required reports.
  • Amendments to four regulations pertaining to Financial Disclosure Statements.

Colorado’s Secretary of State adopted new Lobby Regulations.  The regulations, among other things, require that, beginning January 1, 2019, a lobbyist report all position changes (monitor, oppose, or support) with the monthly disclosure statement.  A controversial provision that would have required disclosure of the terms of new lobbyist engagements was dropped.  The regulations take effect May 30, 2018, which is 20 days after publication in the Colorado Register.

The California Fair Political Practices Commission met Thursday, May 17, 2018.  Among the more interesting actions:

  • At the urging of Commissioner Audero, the Commission voted to establish a large task force regarding enforcement review. The task force will be composed of a wide variety of stakeholders.
  • The Commission voted to circumscribe language that can be put in closure letters in enforcement and voted to amend a closure letter sent to a Novato City Council Member.
  • Commissioner Audero remains fixated on being paid at least minimum wage for her service; however, the Commission failed to take further action on the matter.

The Governor of Georgia signed H.B. 973 on May 10, 2018.  That bill requires all lobbyists to agree to abide by the General Assembly’s sexual harassment policy.

The San Diego City Council passed an amendment to the City’s Election Campaign Control Ordinance.  According to the San Diego Union Tribune, the amended ordinance requires disclosure on the City’s website of donors of $10,000 or more, and adopts provisions similar to the State of California’s recently enacted Disclose Act specifying the size and placement of disclosures in advertising.

In case you missed it:

  • The New York Times reports that on May 11, 2018, a federal appeals court upheld the convictions of three former staffers of Ron Paul’s presidential campaign. The staffers were convicted of causing false records and expenditure reports and making false statements by arranging for money to be funneled to a state senator who endorsed Paul.
  • Mike Columbo of Nielsen Merksamer is the author of an article for the Institute for Free Speech about Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington v. Fed. Election Comm’n. The article analyzes a recent controversial decision by a federal District Court in Washington, D.C.  The court ordered the FEC to presumptively treat all so called “electioneering communications,” which include issue ads run in the months before an election, as evidence a group may be required to register as a political committee and disclose its donors.  The court’s new rule would be retroactively applied to a nonprofit organization’s ads broadcast shortly before the 2010 general election.  The article notes that the decision has been appealed and concludes that it should be reversed.
  • Sheldon Silver, the former Speaker of the New York State Assembly was found guilty in a retrial which took place less than a year after his original conviction was thrown out, according to the New York Times. He was convicted in 2015, but that conviction was overturned following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2016 decision regarding former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (McDonnell v. United States, 579 U.S. ___ (2016).)
  • An Arkansas Supreme Court Justice, who is running for reelection, filed suit for defamation seeking to end advertisements funded by “dark money.” The Arkansas Times reports that Associate Justice Courtney Goodson is the target of ads by the Judicial Crisis Network, a 501(c)(4) organization that supports one of her opponents.
  • Politico reports that AT&T and Novartis issued mea culpas following the revelation that they engaged Michael Cohen as a consultant. The CEO of AT&T stated that his General Counsel “David (McAtee)’s number one priority is to ensure every one of the individuals and firms we use in the political arena are people who share our high standards and who we would be proud to have associated with AT&T.” That observation stands as an important reminder that it is a good idea to review all contracts with all political consultants, not just those of registered lobbyists.
  • Following the death of former California Governor George Deukmejian last week, the Sacramento Bee dredged up a parody song from 1987, “Walk like a Deukmejian,” that takes us back to when Jerry Brown was an unabashed liberal whose controversial appointee to the state’s Supreme Court, Rose Bird, was recalled in 1986 following a campaign led by Governor Deukmejian.  If you remember Dr. Demento (who created Weird Al), Walk like an Egyptian, or Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc. 510 U.S. 569 (1994), you will enjoy the song.