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
On June 23, 2022, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) unanimously approved Advisory Opinion 2022-08, concluding that congressional candidates seeking nomination to the House of Representatives from New York state are entitled to separate contributions limits for the August 23, 2022 primary. The limit applies to contributions made after the May 20, 2022 court order, which established the new election date. (FEC Record: Advisory Opinions)
California: The Santa Ana City Council gave unanimous initial approval to advance a lobbyist registration law, that would encourage greater transparency by tracking paid lobbyists in the community. The ordinance defines a lobbyist as a person, business or organization, including nonprofits, that receives at least $500 a month to communicate with city officials to influence legislation. The disclosure plan requires lobbyists to register with the city clerk within 15 business days after becoming a lobbyist or face penalties. (Ben Brazil, Los Angeles Times)
Government Ethics & Transparency
According to the latest FEC filings, after the 2020 election, former President Trump reportedly spent $1.3 million of donors’ political contributions at private businesses bearing the Trump name. Between the November election and the end of 2020, Trump’s official campaign committee paid more than $113,000 to Trump’s various businesses, including Trump Tower Commercial LLC and Trump Restaurants LLC. At the beginning of 2021, Trump renamed his official campaign committee, turning it into the “Make America Great Again PAC”. By the end of February 2022, that PAC had paid $526,000 to Trump’s companies. In addition to the spending by Trump’s official campaign committee and the rebranded PAC, other Trump political groups, including his leadership PAC, “Save America”, paid large sums to Trump properties, like the Trump Hotel Collection. (Dan Alexander, Forbes)
Florida: Former Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum was indicted on federal charges relating to his failed 2018 bid against Governor Ron DeSantis. The 21-count indictment alleges Gillum illegally solicited campaign contributions between 2016 and 2019 and promised political favors, among other things in return for the financial support. Sharon Lettman-Hicks, Gillum’s adviser, also faces federal charges, including allegations that some political contributions were funneled to P&P Communications, a separate company she operates, instead of going to Gillum’s campaign. Both Gillum and Lettman-Hicks pleaded not guilty to all charges. (Matt Dixon and Arek Sarkissian, POLITICO)
Elections & Voting
New York: A New York judge struck down a New York City law allowing noncitizens to vote in municipal elections starting in 2023, ruling the law violates the state’s constitution. The judge said the New York City Council exceeded the authority granted to it by the state’s constitution, noting New York’s constitution and election law explicitly mention “citizens” that meet the age and residency requirements are entitled to register and vote. Now, the more than 800,000 permanent legal residents and green card holders who became eligible to vote in local elections back when the law went into effect are no longer eligible. (Julia Shapero, Axios)