Cybersecurity: Key Steps for Campaigns, Consultants and Fundraisers For Protecting Campaign Data

CyberWith political campaigns increasingly subject to cybersecurity breaches this year, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI are racing to educate campaign staffers against potential threats. According to reports, foreign governments and others have stepped up efforts to hack into Democratic and Republican campaigns to access sensitive information, including address and credit card information of campaign supporters. Ari Schwartz, the former Senior Director for Cybersecurity at the White House and current Managing Director  for Cybersecurity Services at Venable, talked with The Campaign Workshop to discuss these threats and the measures campaigns can take to prevent them in an interview that can be found here.  In the interview article, Ari shares some helpful tips that all campaigns, consultants, and fundraisers should consider.

About Venable’s Cybersecurity Risk Management Practice:

Venable’s Cybersecurity Risk Management Practice assists businesses and organizations with the cybersecurity risk management practices that are essential in today’s world. Our cybersecurity team leverages legal services, proven organization governance models, technological tools and expertise, insurance, and public relations to aid organizations with their risk management. Using the voluntary federal Cybersecurity Framework as a guide, we help entities set baselines and reduce risk without the fear of increasing their liability from regulatory enforcement, private litigation, or class action litigation that can lead to significant financial and reputational harm.

2016 Election: New Rules for Nonprofits in Arizona

By U.S. Government [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

For the rest of the 2016 election season, nonprofits in Arizona can be politically active without registering as a political committee. As long as they meet basic qualifications, nonprofits can run candidate ads, support ballot measures, and even make contributions, all without the burdens of registration, ongoing reports, and disclosure of donors.

Arizona concluded its 2016 legislative session in May with the passage of an important campaign finance law, House Bill 2296. This bill mirrors one passed earlier in the session, Senate Bill 1516. Both bills exempt certain nonprofit organizations from Arizona’s definition of a political committee, but SB 1516 would have only taken effect starting in 2017. HB 2296, on the other hand, makes these rules effective in time for the 2016 election. As of June 1, 2016, nonprofits active in Arizona elections will not have to register as a political committee and will be free from the regulatory obligations that come with being a political committee.

Continue Reading

A Guide to Supporting the 2016 Presidential Nominating Conventions: From Hosting Events to Writing a Check

By White House/Chuck Kennedy (White House (P090612CK-0875)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Thinking about sponsoring or hosting an event at the presidential nominating conventions in Cleveland and Philadelphia?  Or considering giving free items to attendees?

Venable’s client alert summarizes recent guidance on convention events from the House and Senate ethics committees, and discusses both new and old ways that the national parties and the host cities are raising money to pay for the conventions.

Our Political Law Group has extensive experience advising companies, trade associations, and nonprofits in navigating the gift rules that apply to convention events, and making political contributions.

 

Setting Up and Operating a Super PAC

Interested in what it takes to set up a federal Super PAC? Take a look at Venable’s recently released white paper summarizing the key rules of the road, including:

  • Steps for creating a federal Super PAC
  • Avoiding illegal coordination with candidates
  • FEC and IRS reporting obligations
  • Advertising disclaimers

For those interested in Maryland elections, please also see our white paper summarizing the rules of the road for setting up and operating Maryland Super PACs.

With extensive experience advising federal, state, and local Super PACs and their donors, Venable’s Political Law Practice Group is ready to assist with all of your Super PAC legal needs in the 2016 election cycle and beyond.

Election-Year Political Activity: A Primer for Financial Services Providers

Please Join Venable LLP for a Complimentary Webinar (CLE Available*)

Wednesday, June 8, 2016
12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. ET – Webinar

The 2016 election cycle is in full swing, and major changes to the financial services regulatory landscape, including the Dodd-Frank Act and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), could turn on the outcome of the election. Whether your company wants to play a role in the election or your executives are personally supporting candidates, it’s important to understand the rules.

Continue Reading

Ballot Initiative Disclosure

Long before Citizens United allowed corporations to fund independent expenditures to support candidates, the Supreme Court allowed corporations to contribute to ballot measure committees. Until recently, disclosure was a fairly straightforward matter: give to the official committees supporting or opposing the measure and the contribution would be disclosed; give to other entities (like a nonprofit) that give to the official committees, and the corporation’s contribution would not be disclosed. After Citizens United, however, states’ fear of corporate involvement in candidate races led many states to require disclosure of “upstream” contributions. Those changes often applied not only to contributions for candidate independent expenditures, but also to contributions for ballot measures.

We have written about California before. Recently, Washington State has focused on the intermediary issue of when a nonprofit must disclose its donors. A trial court in Washington State ruled that a trade association should have registered itself as a ballot measure committee based on a special project it undertook to challenge state initiatives about food labeling. The result of this decision is that member companies had to disclose their contributions to the association for the special project. Continue Reading

Election Year Tips for Employers

From now until the polls close on Tuesday, November 8, 2016, politics will be inescapably in the air – and in the workplace. Employees will be talking, and sometimes arguing, and sometimes participating in one campaign or another. Prudent employers should take note of what they may be required to do or prohibited from doing about their employees’ desire to participate in the electoral process. Continue Reading

Don’t Forget: Recent FEC Case Is a Reminder That Federal Law Prohibits Contributions at the State and Local Levels Too

nomoneyThe Federal Election Commission recently concluded an investigation into contributions from a Canadian citizen to a candidate for governor. Why would the FEC investigate a state contribution? Because the ban on contributions from foreign nationals applies not just to federal candidates, but to state and local candidates as well.

The FEC dismissed the case because the state candidate did not know the contributions were illegal. In fact, he had checked with state election officials, who told him there was no issue under state law. There wasn’t, but there was an issue under federal law.

Foreign nationals are individuals who are not U.S. citizens or non-citizens who do not have permanent resident (i.e., green card) status, as well as any companies incorporated, organized, or located abroad. U.S. citizens living in other countries are permitted to contribute.

Continue Reading

Hosting Fundraisers: One Company’s Example of How Not to Do it

As we get closer and closer to the elections, candidates will be working harder and harder to raise money. One tried and true method is the fundraiser: an individual agrees to put together an event where his or her closest friends will make substantial contributions to the candidate, attend a breakfast, lunch, cocktails, or dinner, meet the candidate, and, if they contribute enough, get a picture with the candidate. While this may seem simple and straightforward, companies often get into trouble when they use their corporate resources to help put on fundraisers.

The largest fine in FEC history ($3.8 million) came as a result of corporate facilitation back in 2006. Others have followed. The FEC just unveiled an enforcement case involving a Nevada architectural firm that paid a substantial fine for using corporate resources to hold a fundraiser. The settlement provides a good example of how not to fundraise for federal candidates.  Continue Reading

Clean Slate in the New Year: New York Offering Amnesty Program for Lobbyists and Lobbying Clients

cleanslateFor those who have placed lobbying registration at the top of their New Year’s resolution list, New York State and New York City have made it easier to take the plunge. Starting on January 1, lobbyists and organizations that employ or retain lobbyists that have failed to register with either the state and/or city may register and file back reports without facing penalty.

New York State: This amnesty program, conducted by New York’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE), runs from January 1 to June 30, 2016. Entities or individuals that have previously been contacted by regulators for failure to comply with New York’s lobbying laws do not qualify. The amnesty program permits those who have never submitted required filings to apply. The amnesty covers any unregistered lobbying that has taken place since December 10, 2006.

To participate in the program, applicants must submit a form found on the JCOPE website. They must also submit (1) all registration statements and periodic reports for lobbying activity occurring between January 1, 2013 and the date of application for amnesty, and (2) applicable fees for those “old” filings. In addition, applicants must comply with a training component.

New York City: The New York City Clerk’s office has established a similar program for lobbyists and companies that should have filed a statement of registration or client annual report under NYC’s lobbying rules. NYC’s program also runs from January 1 to June 30, 2016 and covers unreported lobbying conducted from December 10, 2006 to the present.

LexBlog