Federal and state regulators continue to modify their lobbying and campaign finance reporting and enforcement practices and requirements in response to the ongoing upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As states postpone primaries to prevent the spread of coronavirus, agencies have revised reporting deadlines for election-sensitive campaign finance reports. The Federal Election Commission (FEC) announced revised reporting deadlines for reports relating to certain federal primary elections, and states like Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland have done the same for state elections.
The pandemic may also impact enforcement actions. New York announced the suspension of its lobbying audit program, indicating that no new audits will be initiated and complying with ongoing audits is voluntary until the audit program resumes.
Finally, as more states implement stay-at-home orders, regulatory agencies have begun to relax notarization and paper submission requirements. New Jersey has established a special temporary system for uploading or faxing paper campaign finance reports, and the FEC is now accepting electronically filed complaints for the first time. North Carolina has not eliminated its notarization requirement for lobbying filings, but the state has indicated that late penalties will not be levied if the filer certifies that their late submission was due to being unable to obtain a notary because of the coronavirus.
We continue to monitor these fast-moving changes. If you need assistance in determining your reporting obligations as regulators continue to adjust their reporting requirements, please reach out to Venable’s Political Law Practice.