HomeEssential Ethics / September 18, 2023

Essential Ethics

September 18, 2023

Latest Developments:

  • The Governor of California signed AB 421, which revises referendum procedures, including changes to the way a measure is described on the ballot, permitting withdrawal of a measure similar to the process for withdrawing initiatives, and requiring disclosure of top donors in the Voter Information Guide.
  • A Group of Academic Scholars Responded to a Request for Information from the House Ways and Means Committee with an open letter that examines issues related to permissible political activities by 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) organizations. In the letter, the five law school professors, who specialize in the study of tax-exempt organizations, discuss nonpartisan activities, IRS guidance, foreign donors, campaign activities by charities, and relationships between different types of nonprofit organizations.


  • Retired Supreme Court Justices to Discuss Judicial Ethics: The Council on Governmental Ethics Laws (COGEL) announced that retired Canadian Supreme Court Justice Ian Binney and retired California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye will discuss current issues in judicial ethics. The one-hour Zoom seminar will be on Thursday, October 5, 2023, at 3 PM Eastern/12 Noon Pacific. The seminar is free to all staff of member agencies and organizations. Members’ staff may sign up for the event  Conversation about Judicial Ethics; organizations interested in COGEL’s mission and activities may join COGEL here.
  • COGEL on Campaign Finance: Join Jason Kaune, partner and head of the Political Law Section at Nielsen Merksamer, and Tyler Kleinman, Assistant Director of Compliance and Technology at Nielsen Merksamer as they discuss recent developments in campaign finance law at the upcoming COGEL Connect Campaign Finance Roundtable on Thursday, September 21, at 3 PM Eastern/12 Noon Pacific.

In Case You Missed It:

  • Oklahoma Ethics Commission ImperiledTulsa World describes the concern being expressed about the bleak future for the state’s Ethics Commission.
  • State Supreme Courts Hear Campaign Finance CasesCT News Junkie reports that the Connecticut’s high court heard “the case of a pair of state legislators who contend that election regulators used their participation in a public campaign financing system to curtail their free speech rights.” Meanwhile, the Indiana Capital Chronicle reports that the Indiana Supreme Court heard arguments about “whether Indiana’s election code prohibits or limits corporate contributions to PACs… that engage in independent campaign-related expenditures.”
  • Anaheim Considers Making In-House Lobbyists Register: The Voice of OC describes a discussion at a recent city council meeting “aimed at increasing transparency at city hall and curbing outsized influence…” Currently, only contract lobbyists are required to register.
  • Guilty Plea for Illegal Campaign Contributions: The Associated Press details the outcome of a former FTX executive who made “tens of millions of dollars in illegal campaign contributions to U.S. politicians.”