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Nielsen Merksamer Publishes National Campaign Finance Compendium at Ethics Conference

Nielsen Merksamer participated in the 2016 Council on Governmental Ethics Laws (COGEL) conference, held this December in New Orleans, Louisiana. COGEL is the trade association of federal, state, local, and now international government ethics agencies.


For the fourteenth year, the firm edited and published a national compendium of campaign finance developments at the federal, state and local levels known as the COGEL “Blue Book.”  The book compiles surveys completed by COGEL members, with commentary by Nielsen Merksamer, the Campaign Legal Center and the Federal Election Commission.  It identifies national trends, litigation and specific legislation and administrative developments in the past year.

A copy of the Blue Book is available to Nielsen Merksamer clients.  For a complementary electronic copy, please contact Mike Kelly at the email address below.

Jason Kaune, who heads Nielsen Merksamer’s political law practice, moderated a panel discussion presenting findings of the Blue Book with Kevin Deeley, who heads litigation for the FEC, Megan McAllen of the Campaign Legal Center, and Nola Warren of BC Elections in Canada.  The panel identified nine themes underlying current litigation, and made predictions for 2017. The panel additionally heard about extensive litigation in Montana from that state’s Commissioner on Political Practices, and about the largest monetary enforcement of a campaign finance violation by Washington’s Public Disclosure Commission against a trade association.

Partner Elli Abdoli and Senior Researcher Mike Kelly also participated in the four-day conference and brought back important lessons for the firm’s national compliance clients.  “We value this annual opportunity for the regulated community and regulators to engage on the issues and discuss compliance and enforcement in a unique and collaborative setting,” observed Abdoli.

Other COGEL speakers included Kevin Kennedy, the former Executive Director of the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, which was disassembled following its probe into coordination in the Governor’s recall election. Nick Penniman and Wendell Potter spoke about corruption (and pitched their recent book, “Nation on the Take”).  A forum of current and former Members of Congress, including the Hon. Steve Israel from New York, Tim Roemer from Indiana, and David Skaggs from Colorado, spoke on “The Corrupting Influence of Dialing for Dollars.”