HomeEssential Ethics / November 25, 2022

Essential Ethics

November 25, 2022

Latest Developments:

  • The California Fair Political Practices Commission formally adopted revised contribution limits and increased gift limits. For 2023-2024, the gift limit increases from $520 to $590.  Contribution limits for gubernatorial elections increase to $36,400 per person per election and legislative and local candidates’ limits increase to $5,500. Other increases apply to other constitutional officers and special limits apply to contributions from small contributor committees.
  • Louisville, Kentucky approved a lobbyist ordinance, which requires that lobbyists and lobbyist employers register within 7 days of engagement. Lobbyists and employers will be required to file disclosure statements by July 1 and January 1, covering activity from December 16 to June 15 and June 16 to December 15, respectively.  The ordinance creates limits on gifts from lobbyists and lobbyist employers to public officials. The measure takes effect in 6 months and will require biennial renewals at the end of even-numbered years.
  • The Akron City Council approved Ordinance O-303-2022 to increase limits on contributions to candidates for mayor, city council, and city ward positions. Mayor and council member limits increase from $750 to $1,000 per election, and city ward candidate limits increase from $500 to $750 per election. New PAC limits allow PACs to contribute $2,000 to mayor and council candidates and $1,500 to ward candidates in lieu of the old limits.


The Council on Governmental Ethics Laws (COGEL) meets in Montreal, Canada December 4 to 7, 2022. The conference focuses on developments in five disciplines: campaign finance, lobbying, ethics, elections, and freedom of information. Interested persons can register here. Nielsen Merksamer’s Jason Kaune leads the session on developments in campaign finance litigation.

In Case You Missed It:

  • Passive Watchdog: The Los Angeles Times, in an editorial, asserts that “California’s political ethics watchdog needs to start baring some teeth.” The piece claims that the Fair Political Practices Commission is “overloaded with old, unresolved cases and is not properly prioritizing those that need urgent attention.” The article cites several specific officials whose cases are of concern.
  • Federal Conflicts: The Wall Street Journal reports the Campaign Legal Center has filed complaints with the federal government alleging that the government is failing to enforce conflict-of-interest laws. The Journal notes that “thousands of federal employees at 50 federal agencies held stock in companies that were regulated by the agencies where those employees worked.”
  • Met Gala Snub Generates Investigation: According to the New York Times, a Congresswoman from New York who was dropped from the annual Met Gala invitation list sought to be reinstated on the guest list. The Office of Congressional Ethics issued a report recommending that the matter be further investigated because she “may have solicited or accepted impermissible gifts associated with her attendance at the Met Gala.” After the Met removed her from the guest list, her “efforts to gain free attendance may implicate the prohibition on solicitation of gifts under federal law and House rules…” The report points out that “Members may only accept unsolicited offers of free attendance.”
  • Special Session Spawns Lobbyist Penalties: The Idaho Capital Sun reports that, after a one-day special session of the legislature, “most registered lobbyists were still required to submit a report about any related lobbying activities they might have participated in around the session, even if the report showed no activity.” The Secretary of State fined ninety-one lobbyists a total of $24,000.
  • Limiting Citizen Initiatives: The Ohio Capital Journal describes an effort by some legislators to require that “citizen-led constitutional amendments gain a 60% supermajority at the ballot for passage…” The proponents intend that measure to “‘safeguard Ohio’s constitution from special interests…’” Curiously, the article points out that “11 of 16 citizen-led amendments have failed since 2000, so it wasn’t clear exactly why they want to raise the bar higher as they also noted of the five measures that passed, three cleared 60% at the ballot box.”
  • Revolving Door Starts to SpinPolitico reports on the cyclical phenomenon of departing lawmakers “trying to land a comfy K Street gig.” The article notes that “Former lawmakers are prohibited from directly lobbying their former colleagues during a “cooling-off period” that lasts one year for House members and two years for senators.” However, former lawmakers commonly provide guidance, rather than direct lobbying – a “kind of advising… referred to as ‘shadow lobbying…’”