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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.

September 2, 2022

Latest Developments: The Attorney General of the United States released a memorandum concerning new restrictions on political activities of non-career department employees. The memo provides these employees with new admonishments, cautioning that they “may not participate in any partisan…

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August 26, 2022

Latest Developments: The US Department of Justice arrested the former speaker of the Tennessee state House of Representatives Glen Casada as part of a larger corruption probe involving other legislators. PBS reports that Casada and a top aid stand accused of…

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August 19, 2022

Latest Developments: The Federal Elections Commission advised a tech giant with a ubiquitous email platform “that a proposed pilot program allowing political campaigns to evade automated spam detection would not violate federal campaign finance law.” The Washington Post reports that the…

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August 12, 2022

Latest Developments: The US DOJ Office of Government Ethics released a report detailing the finding of “its annual survey of prosecutions involving the conflict of interest criminal statutes…and other related statutes for calendar year 2021.” According to FedWeek, [t]he cited…

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August 5, 2022

Latest Developments: A District Court Judge in Alaska dismissed a lawsuit “request[ing] to block campaign finance provisions of a ballot measure approved by Alaska voters in 2020, finding that the plaintiffs had not demonstrated a likelihood…

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July 29, 2022

Latest Developments: The Federal Elections Commission met on July 28th. Among its notable action items was an advice letter concerning the often-nebulous regulations governing so-called nonconnected committees. The question involved whether the inclusion of two Members of Congress…

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July 22, 2022

Latest Developments: The California Fair Political Practices Commission met on July 21st and decided several pending matters. Notably, the Commission adopted a regulation to “repeal the existing prohibition on cryptocurrency campaign contributions…and [which] permit[s] the making of contributions with cryptocurrency…

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July 15, 2022

Latest Developments: The Governor of Missouri signed HB 2400, which will take effect at the end of August. Notably, the bill “prohibit[s] public agencies from disclosing or requiring the disclosure of personal information” from individuals, non-profit organizations and…

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July 8, 2022

Latest Developments: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decided Butcher V Knudsen, ruling that Montana’s campaign finance restrictions are “unconstitutionally vague” as applied to the defendants. The case concerns two retired and politically involved men who ran a website…

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July 1, 2022

Latest Developments: The State of Tennessee will begin implementing Public Chapter 1087 which imposes, beginning July 1st, “changes…for existing and new political action committees (PACs), candidates, and organizations tax-exempt under the IRS as 501(c)(4),(5), and (6)” with multiple effective…

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