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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.

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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June 24th, 2022

Latest Developments: The United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida, in ACLU of Florida v. Byrd, permanently enjoined provisions of Florida’s SB 1890. That bill, passed last year, purported to limit contributions to ballot measures…

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June 17th, 2022

Latest Developments: The Governor of New Hampshire signed SB 348, which categorically permits contributions during a pre-declaration exploratory period, thus permitting contributions in 3 phases of an election cycle, which also includes the primary and general phases. The law takes…

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June 10th, 2022

The Federal Bureau of Investigation confiscated the digital records of retired Marine General John R. Allen, “who authorities say made false statements and withheld ‘incriminating’ documents about his role in an illegal foreign lobbying campaign on behalf…

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June 3rd, 2022

The Governor of Tennessee signed a pair of bills affecting lobbyists and campaign finance enforcement. SB 884 eliminates the privilege tax that the state imposes on lobbyists, effective May 31, 2022. This annual occupation tax previously applied only to…

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May 27th, 2022

Latest Developments: The United States Senate confirmed elections lawyer Dara Lindenbaum to the Federal Elections Commission with a bipartisan vote. As Roll Call reports, the Commission “in recent years had too few commissioners to conduct official business or even hold…

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May 20th, 2022

Latest Developments: The Supreme Court of the United States, in FEC vs Cruz, ruled in favor of Sen. Ted Cruz in a case involving post-election contributions for repayment of a loan he made to his 2018 campaign which…

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May 13th, 2022

Latest Developments: The Governor of New Jersey conditionally vetoed an anti-corruption bill earlier this week, contending that it might “allow those who offer, solicit or accept bribes for corrupt acts to find loopholes to evade criminal liability, which…

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May 6th, 2022

Latest Developments: The United States House of Representatives passed S 3059, which would “require federal judicial officers, bankruptcy judges, and magistrate judges to file periodic transaction reports disclosing certain securities transactions….Specifically, the bill requires federal judicial officers,…

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