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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The Federal Election Commission (FEC) explored ways that they could tackle “scam PACs” during an open meeting. Scam PACs are political action committees formed with the supposed purpose of supporting a candidate; but they usually pay most of the money to the PAC’s founders as consulting fees. One proposal from FEC staff to combat this practice is to post the percentage of funds paid by a PAC to directly support candidates so that donors can judge for themselves where their money goes. A move to ban these PACs would require congressional action. (Karl Evers-Hillstrom, Open Secrets)
U.S. Representative Jim Clyburn was fined $5,000 by the House Sergeant at Arms for violating new Capitol security protocols by avoiding a metal detector. Rep. Clyburn may appeal the decision to the House Ethics Committee. (Celine Castronuovo, The Hill)
California: The California Fair Political Practices Commission issued an opinion (O-21-001) that the state’s new limits on contributions to local candidates whose jurisdictions do not have contribution limits independent of the state will not be aggregated with contributions before January 1, 2021. Essentially, all such candidate limits reset as of that date.
The Office of Government Ethics refused to sign off on the financial disclosure forms filed by Kanye West in connection with his short-lived presidential candidacy, apparently for failure to include specific information about assets of his spouse, Kim Kardashian West. (Grace Panetta, Insider)
Massachusetts: The former mayor of Fall River is heading to trial this month on fraud and extortion charges, including allegations that he extorted hundreds of thousands of dollars from marijuana businesses seeking to operate there. (Alanna Durkin Richer, AP)
Missouri: After issuing its first-ever official rebuke to Representative Wiley Price from St. Louis, the Missouri House has also begun withholding the lawmaker’s pay until a fine of nearly $23,000 is paid. That amount represents the cost associated with a yearlong ethics investigation related to allegations that the lawmaker had a sexual encounter with an intern and then tried to cover it up. (Jack Suntrup, St. Louis Today)
The Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments in a case centered on whether nonprofits must disclose their top contributors to state regulators. (John Fritze, USA Today)