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Essential Ethics

Essential Ethics is Nielsen Merksamer’s popular weekly newsletter focused on developments in campaign finance, lobby disclosure, and government ethics laws across the nation. View our latest and archived posts below.

January 22, 2024

Latest Developments:  The Texas Ethics Commission adjusted various thresholds, including those for lobby registration, effective January 1, 2024. The new thresholds require that a person must register if the lobbyist receives compensation of more than $1,870…

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January 4, 2024

Latest Developments:  A U.S. District Court issued a preliminary injunction in Minnesota Chamber of Commerce v. Choi. The Minnesota Reformer reports that the court granted the order to block Minnesota’s recently enacted law that would have…

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December 20, 2023

Latest Developments: Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a series of bills that require the Governor, other statewide officers, legislators, and candidates for those offices, to file annual financial disclosure reports. One of the four bills, SB…

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December 4, 2023

Latest Developments:  The Michigan Bureau of Elections issued its annual update of thresholds under the state’s Lobby Registration Act. Among other things, lobby registration in required when compensation exceeds $775 in any 12-month period (up from $725), lobbyist employers must…

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November 21, 2023

Latest Developments: The Center for Political Accountability released the 2023 CPA-Zicklin Index of Corporate Political Disclosure and Accountability, which analyzes disclosure and accountability of corporate political spending. The 59-page report includes lists of the top 100 trendsetters, the most improved,…

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November 6, 2023

Latest Developments: The United States Department of Justice posted several opinions relating to the Foreign Agents Registration Act, including an opinion regarding whether a foreign company that acts as a foreign trade association must register under FARA (FARA…

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November 2, 2023

Latest Developments: The California Fair Political Practices Commission adopted a regulation (Item 7, Regulation 18318) to permit its Executive Director to enter into settlement agreements in satisfaction of monetary penalties if certain conditions are met. Campaign Legal Center…

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October 23, 2023

Latest Developments: California Attorney General Rob Bonta’s office issued Opinion No. 23-101, declaring that “the disclosure, recusal, and cure provisions of Senate Bill No. 1439 (amending Government Code section 84308) do not apply retroactively to political contributions made before January…

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October 16, 2023

Latest Developments: California Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 29, which authorizes the Fair Political Practices Commission to establish and administer an education program as an alternative to an administrative proceeding for low-level violators, much like traffic school. The eligibility requirements…

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October 9, 2023

Latest Developments: North Carolina House Bill 259 became law without the Governor’s signature. The 635-page law is primarily an appropriations bill but contains two important changes for lobbyists. First, it doubles registration fees for lobbyists and lobbyist employers from $250…

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