HomeEssential Ethics / OCTOBER 26, 2018

Essential Ethics

OCTOBER 26, 2018

Latest Developments:

  • The Federal Election Commission met Thursday, October 25. The only substantive matter on the agenda was a proposed opinion regarding whether: (1) to permit the provision of cybersecurity services to federal candidates and national parties for free because it is not for the purpose of influencing an election; or, (2) to prohibit it as an impermissible in-kind contribution.  The matter was put over to a future meeting.
  • The United States Department of Justice announced an indictment of a former lobbyist on obstruction of justice charges. The department alleges that Christopher Petrella was lobbying in support of a fraudulent scheme and, among other things, provided a false quarterly lobbyist report to federal law enforcement officials.
  • The California Fair Political Commission has issued a notice that it will hold a hearing on proposed amendments to gift limit and campaign contribution limit regulations at its meeting on November 15, 2018. The Commission proposes to increase the annual gift limit to $500 beginning January 1, 2019.  Campaign contribution limits are proposed to increase, among others, to $4,700 per election for legislative candidates and to $31,000 per election for candidates for Governor.
  • The New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics meets next Tuesday, October 30. The agenda includes a discussion of proposed legislation to allow public disclosure of some matters under investigation and a pending opinion regarding post-employment restrictions.

In case you missed it:

  • Bad TimingThe North Carolina State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement fined a federal PAC over $40,000 for a series of contributions made during the state legislature’s blackout period.  According to NC Policy Watch, 48 contributions were dated on days that the General Assembly was in session, although the checks were not sent out until a later date.
  • Do you Live in a Swamp?: The Coalition for Integrity has published its States With Anti-corruption Measures for Public Officials [S.W.A.M.P.] Index Report 2018.  The group’s interactive map shows, at a glance, which states have the toughest and the weakest laws on ethics and transparency.  Scores range from 0% in North Dakota to 78% in Washington State.
  • Billionaires with Carpetbags Full of Cash: The Center for Public Integrity has compiled a list of billionaires who have contributed to state ballot measures, including in many states far from their own homes.  The article describes “how billionaires from other states are shaping this year’s ballot measures.”
  • Federal Clean-Up Crew Still in NY: The New York Times reports that Dean Skelos, former Senate Majority Leader was sentenced in federal court to four years and three months for corruption, which included businessmen paying his son $300 for “no show” jobs.  Also, according to the Times, his son was sentenced to four years in federal prison.  Meanwhile, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reports that New York Assemblyman Joe Errigo was charged this month in federal District Court in Rochester with taking bribes in connection with the introduction of legislation to influence a local development.
  • South Carolina Corruption Trial: The former Chair of the State House of Representatives Judiciary Committee is on trial for corruption.  The State newspaper, in Columbia, South Carolina, reports that the trial of Jim Harrison will determine whether “untraceable, undisclosed payments made to lawmakers or on their behalf — is legal in South Carolina.  Lawmakers are supposed to report money that their employers get from companies that lobby the Legislature, and Harrison (allegedly) didn’t do that.”
  • False Reporting in North Carolina: The Charlotte News and Observer reports that the North Carolina State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement found that a state representative failed to report $141,000 in campaign contributions, including $25,000 in ATM withdrawals.  The board found that bank records had been altered, and it unanimously referred the matter for prosecution.