RECENT LOBBYING, ETHICS & CAMPAIGN FINANCE UPDATES
We read the news, cut through the noise and provide you the notes.
Welcome to Compliance Notes from Nossaman’s Government Relations & Regulation Group – a periodic digest of the headlines, statutory and regulatory changes and court cases involving campaign finance, lobbying compliance, election law and government ethics issues at the federal, state and local level.
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Campaign Finance & Lobbying Compliance
Campaign Legal Center filed a complaint against former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC), alleging campaign finance violations during his candidacy for U.S. Senate. Greitens had more than $1 million in his state campaign committee when he resigned in 2018. The complaint alleges Greitens unlawfully used more than $100,000 from his state campaign committee to launch his federal candidacy for Senate. (Summer Ballentine, AP News)
Rep. Adriano Espaillat's (D-NY) campaign committee paid social media influencers almost $15,000 to post numerous favorable posts. However, the bloggers’ videos and articles do not disclose their financial ties to the congressman, thereby exploiting a legal grey area in disclosure requirements. (Claudia Irizarry Aponte,The City)
Alaska: The Ninth Circuit issued an order declining to reexamine its July decision overturning many limitations on campaign contributions, clearing the way for the state to remove contribution restrictions ahead of next year's municipal and state elections. Once the court delivers the final mandate, the Alaska Public Offices Commission will release new rules. (James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News)
Texas: An ethics complaint was filed against San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg's campaign for campaign finance violations, alleging illegal or improperly reported contributions amounting to $162,625. The mayor, who says the complaint boils down to bookkeeping errors, will be refunding some of the campaign donations. (Jackie Wang, San Antonio Report)
Government Ethics & Transparency
Florida: The Florida Commission on Ethics recommends a $20,000 fine and formal reprimand for Alex Rodriguez, who was convicted of participating in a vote siphoning scheme during the 2020 Florida Legislature election. (AP News)
Ohio: Following the indictment of three council members last year and the need to address a "culture of corruption" in City Hall, the Cincinnati City Council unanimously voted to approve new anti-corruption measures that include a contribution ban and the establishment of an Ethics Czar position. The contribution ban prohibits council members from soliciting and accepting campaign contributions from developers who have business pending before the council. The Ethics Czar will support reform efforts by investigating complaints and overseeing a confidential whistleblower hotline. (Jennifer Edwards Baker, Fox19)
Ballot Measures & Elections
The FEC has ruled that foreign nationals can donate to U.S. ballot committees, opening the door to direct foreign influence on U.S. voters and domestic policy. With 61 referenda already on state ballots in 2022, the FEC's decision puts wealthy foreigners in a position to influence various U.S. policy initiatives. (Lachlan Markay, Axios)
Alaska:The Alaska Supreme Court will decide the legality of the new ranked-choice election system on an accelerated timeline, determining how Alaska will conduct 2022 statewide elections. Under the previous election system, only one candidate from each party could advance to the general election. Under the new ranked-choice system, multiple Democrats or Republicans could advance. (James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News)
Virginia: In this year's gubernatorial race, the push for "election integrity" has driven an influx of election observers to the polls throughout Virginia's election cycle. Usually, poll watchers appear primarily on Election Day during presidential elections. Now, following the combined efforts from the Republican National Committee and local level committees to provide avenues for thousands of volunteers to get involved as election observers, Virginia has seen an increase in poll watchers. (Meagan Flynn and Shawn Boburg, The Washington Post)
Wisconsin: The Racine County sheriff has requested that the attorney general launch a statewide investigation into the Wisconsin Elections Commission to review allegations that the commission broke state law by preventing poll workers from helping nursing home residents vote in order to curb the spread of COVID-19. (Molly Beck, Patrick Marley and Ricardo Torres, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)