HomeEssential Ethics / NOVEMBER 2, 2018

Essential Ethics

NOVEMBER 2, 2018

Latest Developments:

  • A United States District Court in Illinois issued an opinion in Proft and Liberty Principles PAC v. Madigan. Under Illinois law certain events result in the lifting of limits on contributions to candidates.  However, the court ruled that lifting the limits does not permit independent expenditure committees to contribute directly to candidate committees or to coordinate with them.  Courthouse News Service summarized the court analysis, noting “the state has a valid anti-corruption interest in ensuring that money raised for independent expenditures be used only for that purpose and not as campaign contributions.”
  • The New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics met Tuesday, October 30. Among other things, the Commission discussed their new electronic system for lobbyist registration and reporting, in conjunction with the new lobby regulations.  Additional resources, including an updated lobby guide should be available in mid-November; a new registration portal should be open by December 3.

In case you missed it:

  • Election Transparency Buried in Paper: The Kentucky Registry of Election Finance cannot process paper election reports fast enough.  The Associated Press reports that the Registry of Election Finance has 12 staffers who cannot enter the data fast enough to make it available to the public.  Virtually all candidates have filed on paper this year.  According to the article, “Registry of Election Finance chairman Craig Dilger pleaded with lawmakers Wednesday to pass a law next year requiring all candidates to file their campaign-finance reports electronically, something most states already do.”  Lawmakers have approved funds for a new computer system, but have not yet required electronic reporting.
  • Less than a Week to Go, and Still in the Dark: The New York Times discusses something called the “Hub Project,” a Democratic organization with “(a) structure unknown even to some of those involved.” Fourteen groups around the country are “funded and coordinated out of a single office in Washington, with the goal of battering Republicans… during the midterm elections.”  The group’s executive director, according to the Times, “displayed no ambivalence about using undisclosed contributions — traditionally a source of dismay for Democrats — to punish Republicans for last year’s $1.5 trillion tax law and their attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  ‘We don’t believe in unilateral disarmament,’” he said.
  • Encouraging Pay to Play: The Voice of San Diego reports that 80% of construction companies that gave $5,000 or more to a pro-school bond campaign in the last seven years received contracts with the San Diego Unified School District.  According to the article, most of these were “service provider contracts,” not competitively bid contracts awarded to the lowest bidder.  In fact, none of the donors sought those type of competitively bid contracts.
  • Ethics Bumps in the Road: The Washington Post reports that the Florida Commission on Ethics charged the Mayor of Lantana, Florida with asking for sex in exchange for approving speed bumps on a constituent’s street.  After witnessing several accidents involving animals and children, a resident asked the city to install speed bumps on her street.  The Mayor allegedly said, “have sex with me and I will guarantee that you get your speed humps that you want.”   The Commission “found probable cause that [the Mayor] ‘misused his position to attempt to obtain a sexual benefit for himself,’ and ‘solicited sex from a constituent based on an understanding his vote, official action, or judgment would be influenced.’”