HomeEssential Ethics / May 8, 2023

Essential Ethics

May 8, 2023

Latest Developments:

  • The State of California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) Reminds All City and County Attorneys That SB 1439 Is In Effect: On May 3, 2023, the FPPC issued a press release, notifying the public that it had sent an advisory letter to all city and county attorneys for the purpose of reminding them that a new pay-to-play law (SB 1439), which applies to local elected officials, is in effect “unless a court signifies otherwise.” The FPPC is also holding a public hearing on proposed regulations interpreting the new law. For further details, see the Reminders section below.


  • The Practising Law Institute presents Advanced Topics in Ethics and Compliance 2023: State and Local Government Contracts on May 16, 2023, from 1:30-5:15 p.m. ET in New York. The half-day program, which is also available via live broadcast, will explore a vast array of procurement, ethics and compliance laws governing the government contracting process, and features Nielsen Merksamer’s Elli Abdoli as Chair and Jason Kaune, as well as Robert Carlin, Senior Attorney at CalPERS, Jared DeMarinis, Director at Maryland State Board of Elections, and Amina A. Mack, Senior Corporate Counsel at Microsoft. Register here to attend in-person or online.
  • The State of California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) is holding a public hearing at 10:00 a.m. on May 18, 2023 to consider regulatory proposals related to the implementation of SB 1439 and its expansion of California’s pay-to-play laws. The FPPC invites written comments by no later than 5 p.m. on May 16.Please contact your Nielsen Merksamer attorney if you have any questions about the potential impact of these proposed regulations.
  • The Washington Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) is holding a special meeting at 9:30 a.m. on May 11, 2023 to discuss the use of campaign money received for a different office than the office currently sought. In particular, the PDC will consider whether the transferred contributions will count toward the original contributor’s limit for the new campaign. The PDC invites the submission of written comments via email to pdc@pdc.wa.gov by noon on May 9, 2023.

In Case You Missed It:

  • Former ComEd Lobbyists and Executives Convicted of Bribing Ex-Illinois House Speaker: The Chicago Tribune reports that a federal jury convicted former ComEd lobbyists and executives of conspiracy, bribery and falsification of business records, and the defendants now face prison time. The case involved ComEd’s bribery of ex-Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan to help the utility “score a series of huge legislative victories that not only rescued the company from financial instability but led to record-breaking, billion-dollar profits.” It also involved a conspiracy to funnel $1.3 million to “subcontractors” who were, in fact, Madigan’s “cronies.” One juror shared that the jury believed the defendants were “good people that made bad decisions” and acting U.S. Attorney Morris Pasqual warned that “those involved in business and politics should seek advice on where the legal lines are, because anyone who crosses into bribery “will be on our radar.’”
  • The City of El Monte’s New Lobbying Ordinance Will Go Into EffectPasadena Star News reports that beginning on May 18, 2023, lobbyists in El Monte, California will be required “to register with the city, publicly disclose their clients and adhere to a $50 monthly gift limit.” A councilmember noted that with the new ordinance mandating these requirements, he will know whether a person was paid to give him “their two cents” and be able to make his decisions based on that knowledge.
  • Mistrial Declared on Conspiracy and Fraud Charges Against Ex-Florida Gubernatorial Candidate Andrew Gillum: Tampa Bay Times reports that a judge declared a mistrial on federal conspiracy and fraud charges against Andrew Gillum, who lost Florida’s 2018 governor race to Ron DeSantis. Federal prosecutors attempted to prove that Gillum and a close associate “illegally steered political contributions to their personal accounts” while Gillum was running for governor. However, they presented “no direct evidence of…scheming,” and Gillum’s attorneys argued that investigators ignored evidence that explained the transfer of funds. Gillum was also acquitted of a separate charge of lying to the FBI. Both parties agreed that Gillum never took a bribe from undercover agents, but prosecutors failed to convince the jury that Gillum lied to the FBI about whether undercover agents gave him anything, such as a ticket to a Broadway show.