HomeEssential Ethics / November 4, 2022

Essential Ethics

November 4, 2022

Latest Developments:

  • The District of Columbia’s Pay-to-Play Law Takes Effect November 9, 2022. The law was supposed to take effect November 2020, but it was paused for lack of funding.  The District’s Fiscal Year 2022 Budget (at page 207) provides that the law “…shall not apply to … “contract extensions or modifications, sought, entered into, or executed before November 9, 2022,” thus making it applicable to new or extended contracts on and after that date. 
  • The Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) issued an order to the Republican Governors Association (RGA) and A Stronger Alaska questioning whether “sufficient separation between the two entities” exists and warning that penalties lie ahead if “the two entities are one in the same.” Alaska Public Media explains a complaint filed with APOC accused RGA of creating “a shell organization called A Stronger Alaska in order to evade state campaign disclosure laws.”


  • Hearing on the Timing of California’s Expanded Local Pay to Play Law: The California Fair Political Practices Commission will consider a staff memorandum at a hearing on November 18 that will ask for direction in applying the state’s expansion of a law that triggers disqualification for contributions over $250 and extends a ban of making contributions under SB 1439Staff takes the position that the law should reach back to contributions made in 2022. According to the Los Angeles Daily News, Steve Glazer, the author of the bill, said SB 1439 “‘may be one of the most significant reforms of the last 50 years.’”

In Case You Missed It: 

  • Congressional Candidate Describes the Laundry Process: According to the Vermont Digger, a candidate for Vermont’s lone house seat, in a radio interview, described how he “‘drained’ his wife’s business’s bank account and distributed roughly $25,000 among family members — including his toddler son, June — who then donated the money to his campaign. [The candidate] said he is now recouping the money by collecting a salary from his campaign.” Campaign finance experts agreed that the action “appears to have violated the [Federal Election Commission’s] ban on contributions ‘in the name of another,’ colloquially known as the straw donor ban.” 
  • A Jury in a Federal District Court in Brooklyn acquitted Tom Barrak of charges that he was an unregistered foreign agent lobbying for the United Arab Emirates. CNN explains that “In the last five years the Justice Department revived a criminal statute that laid dormant for decades and brought numerous criminal cases under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, known as FARA, against individuals who were lobbying for foreign governments or companies without disclosing it, as required by law, to the attorney general. … Barrack, who wasn’t charged under the FARA statute, was indicted on charges he acted as an unregistered agent of a foreign government. The statute, known as “espionage lite” by the national security community, is often reserved for cases involving spies. 
  • L.A. City Council Bribery Trial Begins: A foreign-owned hotel company is on trial in Los Angeles for allegedly bribing a city council member for support of a development projectSpectrum News 1 reports that the trial is part of a “July 2020 racketeering indictment against [the council member] and various associates. The 34-count indictment, alleging wide-ranging political corruption, was broken up into three trials in LA federal court.” 
  • Can’t Change Your Mind: A Federal Judge in Colorado, in Archer et al. v. Griswoldrejected a candidate’s efforts to get out of voluntary spending limits in his race for the Colorado House. The Colorado Springs Gazette reports that the candidate “had inadvertently signed up for voluntary spending limits when he registered his candidacy.” The voluntary spending limits permit an opt out; the candidate argued that he did not opt into the limit regime.
  • Montana Ethics Leadership Change Pending: The Commissioner of Political Practices, Jeff Mangan has announced his impending departure. The Helena Independent Record points out that few of the state’s Commissioners of Political Practice have served out their entire single five-year term, and many have “come under fire for bringing a perceived partisan bias to their work investigating political complaints.”