HomeEssential Ethics / May 29, 2024

Essential Ethics

May 29, 2024

Latest Developments: 

  • The Connecticut Supreme Court, in Markley v. State Elections Enforcement Commission, struck down statutes and regulations that banned candidates who accept public funding from naming politicians they are not running against in political ads. The ads, for state legislative candidates, named the governor in a negative manner. The Associated Press describes the circumstances that led to the unanimous decision.
  • Maryland Governor Wes Moore approved SB 291, which requires state contractors who are awarded contracts of at least $200,000 file a report within 15 business days, disclosing every person who has at least a 5% ownership interest in the contracting business. Existing law requires these contractors to disclose campaign contributions. The new law takes effect July 1, 2024.
  • Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont approved SB 253, which defines the terms “foreign national” and “foreign owner”, prohibits foreign contributions and political expenditures directly or indirectly, and requires that committees established by a person other than a human certify that the person making a contribution is not a foreign national. The measure took effect upon approval. 
  • Common Cause issued a report and an Excel index of local campaign finance laws in California. Among other things, the report discusses provisions relating to contribution limits, pay-to-play laws, and transparency issues.
  • The U.S. Office of Special Counsel announced updates to enforcement of the Hatch Act. Among the changes are prosecutions alleging “violations by individuals who engaged in misconduct while a federal employee but who subsequently left government service”, thus including private sector employees who are former federal employees or officials.


  • 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. The program, 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 al staff of member organizations. Registration will be open on COGEL’s website by May 31, 2024.

In Case You Missed It:

  • A. Ethics Measure Goes to Voters: The Los Angeles Times reports that the city council placed a measure (Item 12) on the November ballot that would, among other things, provide a mechanism for the city’s Ethics Commission to put measures before the voters, triple fines for violations of the city’s ethics code, exempt the commission from the civil service, and provide for inflation-adjusted funding for the city’s commission in the city charter.
  • Seattle App-Based Driver Legislation Raises Ethics Issue: KNKX-NPR reveals that the Seattle Ethics Commission is looking into whether city councilmembers have a conflict when voting on measures that mandates minimum wages for delivery drivers for app companies. 
  • More AI Regulation: Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers approved AB 664 which requires audio or video ads containing express advocacy or issue advocacy, or supporting or opposing a referendum, include a disclosure at the beginning and end of the ad if it was produced in any part with artificial intelligence. The measure took effect immediately.
  • Wolves’ Representative Charged with Illegal Lobbying: According to Colorado Politics, an individual working for the conservation of wolves lobbied several legislators without registering or disclosing the identity of his paying client. The individual says he’s not a professional lobbyist but admits to having lobbied in multiple jurisdictions.
  • Pandas Arrival Paused by Conflicts Law: The San Francisco Standard reports that an effort to create an exception to the city’s prohibition on contributions from interested persons in order to fund housing and care for recently secured giant pandas hit a roadblock. A committee of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors postponed consideration of the proposed exception to the ban on behested payments, which would permit the mayor a six-month period in which to raise $25 million for the zoo project.