News & Publications

Recent Publications on Donor Disclosure Litigation and Sexual Abuse Legislation Involving Lobbyists

A Nielsen Merksamer attorney and senior researcher recently published articles addressing the possibility of retroactive disclosure of contributors to political nonprofits and additional disclosure, training and certification by lobbyists to address recent sexual abuse scandals.

Mike Columbo recently published an insightful analysis of a federal court decision that “poses significant risks for advocacy groups and supporters” who assume they made contributions to organization who need not disclose their identity.  Could donors face retroactive disclosure going back to past election cycles?  The article analyzes a recent controversial decision by a federal District Court in Washington, D.C. in Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington v. Federal Election Commission.  The court ordered the FEC to presumptively treat all “electioneering communications,” which include issue ads run in the months before an election, as evidence a group may be required to register as a political committee and disclose donors.  The court’s new rule would be retroactively applied to a nonprofit organization’s ads broadcast shortly before the 2010 general election.  The article notes that the decision has been appealed and concludes that it should be reversed.  Mike brings his perspective as a former counsel to an FEC commissioner and enforcement attorney to his analysis and the Political Law Section.  Read the article here.  Learn more about the firm’s practice area in Ethics Agencies – Representation & Enforcement here.

Mike Kelly recently published an article reviewing state level legislation concerning sexual abuse among elected officials, lobbyists and others in state Capitols across the county.  The article expands on the bills tracked in-house pertaining to lobbyists and sexual harassment and covers legislation around the country and Canada regarding sexual harassment by elected officials, lobbyists, or other non-employees in a government setting.  Mike conducted the study as part of his ongoing work in the Research Division to keep Nielsen Merksamer lobby disclosure clients up-to-date on changes in the law that impact their day-to-day interaction with government at Essential Ethics.  His article has been published by the Council of Government Ethics laws and can also be found here.