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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.

May 31, 2023

Latest Developments: California SB 1439 Withstands Initial Legal Challenge: In the lawsuit filed by a coalition seeking to invalidate SB 1439 on the grounds that expanding California pay-to-play rules violates both the California Constitution and the…

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May 22, 2023

Latest Developments: The State of Washington Will Require More Disclosures From Grassroots Campaigns: Washington enacted HB 1317, and effective July 23, 2023, the new law expands the definition of a “sponsor” of a grassroots lobbying campaign, adjusts…

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May 17, 2023

Latest Developments: Minnesota Enacts Voter Registration, Election and Campaign Finance Reform: On May 5, 2023, the Governor of Minnesota signed HF 3 into law, which includes provisions for automatic voter registration and the criminalization of knowingly spreading certain…

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May 8, 2023

Latest Developments: The State of California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) Reminds All City and County Attorneys That SB 1439 Is In Effect: On May 3, 2023, the FPPC issued a press release, notifying the public that…

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May 1, 2023

Latest Developments:  Maryland SB 269 and HB 192 Prohibit The Use of Cryptocurrency (or Any Non-US Currency) in Campaign Finance: Effective July 1, 2023, contributions to a campaign finance entity and donations to entities registered with the State Board…

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February 17, 2023

Latest Developments: The Arizona Secretary of State’s Office updated contribution limits for the period from January 1, 2023 through December 31, 2024. Among other changes, the maximum that an individual or partnership may contribute to a statewide or legislative candidate…

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February 10, 2023

Latest Developments: The U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, in WinRed, Inc. v. Ellison, determined that federal campaign finance law does not preempt a state from enforcing a state’s consumer protection law that prohibits deceptive practices. According…

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February 3, 2023

Latest Developments: The Federal Election Commission posted new contribution limits for 2023-2024 federal elections. Among the changes, individuals may now contribute $3,300 per election to a federal candidate (up from $2,900 for 2021-2022). The California Supreme Court, in Travis v….

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January 27, 2023

Latest Developments:  The New York City Council approved  0855-2022-A, which requires disclosure of independent expenditures exceeding $5,000 that are “in support of or in opposition to any municipal ballot proposal or referendum.” If approved by the Mayor, the measure…

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January 20, 2023

Latest Developments: The Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance issued “Updated Campaign Contribution Limits for 2023-2024, Effective Immediately.” Persons may now give up to $4,900 per election to candidates for statewide office and $1,800 per election…

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