Category Archives: Campaign Finance

Subscribe to Campaign Finance RSS Feed

California Cracking Down on Lobbyist Registrations

The Fair Political Practices Commission – the agency responsible for administering and enforcing California’s campaign finance and lobbying laws – has unanimously approved a rule change intended to force more consultants to register as lobbyists and strengthen the agency’s hand in enforcing state lobbying laws. The rule will take effect September 16, 2016. FPPC chair … Continue Reading

When the Convention Parties Are Over: How Public Charities Can Be Involved in the 2016 Elections and Talk about the Issues

Many issues important to public charities are addressed in the platforms adopted by the political parties. As Republican, Democratic, and Libertarian parties wrap up their conventions and the Green Party meets this week, charities are asking how they can talk about the issues raised in the platforms. Charities can advance their position on the issues … Continue Reading

New York Imposes New Rules on Super PACs, Advocacy Groups, and Political Consultants

Last month, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that he and legislators in the New York State Assembly had agreed on a “5 Point Ethics Reform Plan,” a sweeping proposal to create substantial changes in New York campaign finance law. The reform bill passed out of the legislature in mid-June and is expected to be signed … Continue Reading

2016 Election: New Rules for Nonprofits in Arizona

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 … Continue Reading

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 … Continue Reading

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 … Continue Reading

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

The 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 … 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, … Continue Reading

PAC and Lobbying Deadlines Loom Large in January—and a Chance to Get Organized

January is always a busy month for filing lobbying and campaign finance reports. It is also a good time to think about changes for the upcoming year that might simplify filing obligations. •  State Lobbying Reports. Most states require year-end reports to be filed at some point in January. Many also require re-registration or renewal … Continue Reading

Federal Appeals Court Upholds Contribution Ban on Government Contractors

This week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld the Federal Election Campaign Act’s long-standing ban on contributions from federal government contractors to federal candidates and parties. We have followed the case since the District Court’s decision in 2012. The ban has been in a place since 1940. Pointing to a history … Continue Reading

Appeals Court Upholds Hawaii Corporate Disclosure Rules and Pay-to-Play Law

Last week the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld key provisions of Hawaii’s campaign finance laws requiring a for-profit company making campaign contributions and expenditures to register as a political committee, and prohibiting government contractors from contributing to state legislators and candidates. Broad Implications for Companies and Nonprofits Participating in Hawaii Elections Hawaii requires … Continue Reading

Back to the Future: FEC issues regulations for Citizens United

In January 2010 –  as almost everyone already knows by now – the Supreme Court struck down major portions of campaign finance laws, allowing corporations to make independent expenditures in support of, or opposition to, candidates for federal office. Super PACs that could accept unlimited individual and corporate contributions soon followed based on lower court … Continue Reading

Justice Department Brings First Criminal Case for Campaign, Super PAC Coordination

The U.S. Department of Justice has announced the first criminal prosecution for a violation of federal laws prohibiting outside groups from coordinating their activities with the candidates and campaigns they support. The six-member Federal Election Commission, which is primarily responsible for interpreting and enforcing federal campaign finance laws, has deadlocked repeatedly over whether to investigate … Continue Reading

Naming Your PAC

The Washington Examiner recently wrote about the art of naming a PAC, pointing out that the name must “balance patriotic with practical considerations.” The Examiner talked about making sure the name is not too long if the PAC will have to include “paid for by” statements on its ads. But there are some other legal … Continue Reading

More to Give: FEC Raises Contribution Limits

As it has done every two years since the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act indexed contribution limits for inflation, the FEC has announced revised contribution limits for the 2016 election cycle. In addition to the traditional limits for candidates, PACs, and parties, the FEC also set the indexed limit for the new special accounts created at … Continue Reading

New Maryland Law Shines Light on Political Contributions by Government Contractors and their Principals, Also Hikes Contribution Limits and Regulates Nonprofits

The Maryland legislature overhauled the state’s campaign finance law almost two years ago, but many of the key provisions did not take effect until January 1, 2015. These changes significantly affect state government contractors by introducing a new electronic registration system overseen by the State Board of Elections, and requiring electronic reporting of contributions made … Continue Reading

Come and Get Us: Some States in No Hurry to Respond to Supreme Court Ruling on Aggregate Limits

In every election, campaigns and their political fundraisers must navigate a complex and ever-changing array of laws, which increasingly are being rewritten by the courts. The rules changed again last month, when the Supreme Court in McCutcheon v. FEC struck down the limit on the amount an individual may give during an election cycle to … Continue Reading

Another One Bites the Dust

Louisiana imposes an aggregate limit of $100,000 on a person’s contributions to a political committee in Louisiana during a four-year election cycle. An independent expenditure-only committee (i.e., a Super PAC) supporting gubernatorial candidate David Vitter sued, arguing that the cap is unconstitutional as applied to super PACs. A federal judge has now agreed. “[I]ndependent expenditure … Continue Reading

In Case You Missed It: Venable’s Presentation on Election-Year Advocacy and Nonprofit Organizations

Ron Jacobs and Larry Norton presented “Election-Year Advocacy: Maintaining Your Nonprofit’s Clear Message in Cloudy Legal Seas,” a webinar covering topics for nonprofits engaged in political activity. It included topics such as: The rules that apply to 501(c)(4) and 501(c)(6) organizations and how those rules are changing; How to operate a political action committee (PAC), … Continue Reading

Are Super PACs Finally Allowed in New York?

As discussed last fall, against the fairly settled case law around the country, New York continued to fight against Super PACs. A Super PAC is a political committee that typically funds ads advocating for or against candidates, but that may not coordinate its spending with candidates and their campaigns. New York argued that its annual … Continue Reading

After McCutcheon, the Supreme Court Declines to Hear Case Involving Ban on Direct Corporate Contributions

Much of the post-McCutcheon discussion has focused on what might follow from the decision: are there other dominos to fall? Some predicted the ban on direct corporate contributions might be in play and noted that there was a case pending for the Supreme Court to consider. But Monday, the Court declined to hear that case. … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Strikes Down Cap on Total Individual Contributions, Aftershocks Likely to Have Bigger Impact than Ruling Itself

The Supreme Court yesterday struck down the limit on the total amount an individual may contribute to federal candidates, PACs and political parties in a two-year election cycle. The 5-4 ruling is unlikely to have a major impact on political giving this year, but casts serious doubt on the constitutionality of similar state contribution schemes … Continue Reading

The FEC Increases the Lobbyist Bundling Threshold and Coordinated Party Expenditure Limits

Last week the Federal Election Commission increased the reporting threshold for contributions bundled by lobbyists to $17,300 (up from $17,100). Candidates, leadership PACs, and federal party committee must file lobbyist bundling reports if during a six-month reporting period they receive two or more bundled contributions exceeding the $17,300 threshold. We have written here about the reporting … Continue Reading

The Return of Party Soft Money?

One of the key aspects of the McCain-Feingold law was the elimination of soft money to the national party committees (that is, the DNC, RNC, and each party’s congressional and senatorial committees). Reformers (and some corporations that resented being hit up by the parties for donations) praised this aspect of the law and others bemoaned … Continue Reading
LexBlog