HomeEssential Ethics / October 7, 2022

Essential Ethics

October 7, 2022

Latest Developments:

  • The Governor of California signed a suite of bills related to the state Political Reform Act.One of those bills, AB 1798, requiring certain disclosures on electronic advertisements, is inoperative. That bill defers to SB 1360, which “[r]evises requirements for certain political advertisements to identify the top contributors to the campaign committee paying for the advertisement.” Another bill SB 459will require disclaimers on issue advertisements. Most significant for any campaign contributor to local candidates is SB 1439, which expands the state’s limited “pay to play” restrictions from appointed board members to all local officials making decisions involving a “license, permit or other entitlement for use,” extends the prohibited period for contributions from 3 months to 12 months and expands donor disclosure requirements for contributions made 12 months before a covered proceeding. Please contact your Nielsen Merksamer attorney for more updates on how these new laws affect your organization.
  • A Washington State Superior Court Judge ruled this week that a major social media company “intentionally violated Washington’s longstanding campaign finance law 822 times”. That law “requires ad sellers…to disclose the names and addresses of political ad buyers, the targets of such ads and the total number of views of each ad.” The state Attorney General had previously sued for violations in 2018, for which the company was fined and then agreed not to advertise political ads in the state. According to the ruling, the company “continued to knowingly display Washington Political Advertising on its platform…continued to solicit [these ads]…[and]was aware that its ‘ban’ would not, and did not, stop all such advertising from continuing to be displayed on its platform”. The social media company in question initially filed a challenge to the law, which the same judge dismissed last week. The Seattle Times has more coverage.


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In Case You Missed It:

  • The Effects of Digital Fundraising’s Ubiquity: In an analysis piece, The New York Times reflects on what it calls “a race to the bottom to inflame a party’s own voters with the most intensity and frequency”, driven in large part by the tone of ubiquitous text and email political fundraising solicitations. The solicitations’ tone notwithstanding, they have had the effect of raising tens of millions of dollars for candidates with little chance of winning. As the Times notes, “candidates with no hope of winning are raising ungodly sums from online [individuals]…drawn to their flashy videos and clever slams. Such is particularly the case when said candidates are running against notably loathed” or controversial candidates. Yet, this phenomenon deprives that money to traditional political party apparatuses who can, arguably, use the money in a more centralized and “efficient” manner.
  • K-Street Anticipates Change in DC Power: In advance of this year’s forthcoming Congressional midterm elections, The Washington Post reports that Capitol hill lobbyist interests are anticipating a change in House control by hiring former staff to high-ranking Republicans. These new hires have “held briefings [for their new employers] and drafted memos for clients on what a Republican House would mean for them. And they’ve been shepherding clients to meet with Republican lawmakers and staffers who are likely to be in positions of power.” Additionally, “the likelihood that the House will flip has led companies to reach out to lobbying firms with [existing] strong House Republican ties”.