Category Archives: Contributions

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Pay-to-Play Law Update: Political Activity Can Put Government Contracts at Risk

Overview Pay-to-play laws restrict or prohibit businesses, as well as their owners, officers, and in some cases, their employees, from making political contributions (the “pay”) if they have been awarded or are trying to obtain government contracts (the “play”). These laws, which are found at the federal, state and local levels, are an outgrowth of … Continue Reading

The Federal Election Commission Announces New Contribution Limits for 2017-2018 Cycle

Since the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act was passed in 2002, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) indexes contribution limits based on inflation every two years. For the first time, the FEC did not increase the individual (and non-multicandidate PAC) limit to candidates because inflation was running so low. Individuals are still allowed to give $2,700 per … Continue Reading

Maryland Pay-to-Play Report Deadline Approaching as New Rules Take Effect

Maryland has had a pay-to-play law for many years, which requires government contractors to register and file reports concerning political contributions to state and local candidates. Since 2015, the law has been in a state of flux as legislators and regulators have written and re-written the requirements, creating a complex reporting system. The law is … Continue Reading

A Tale of Two Vice Presidents: Pay-to-Play and the Running Mates

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. For investment advisers and others subject to the pay-to-play rules, that is. Although both vice presidential picks have gubernatorial experience, because Mike Pence is a sitting governor and Tim Kaine is a former governor, there are certain pay-to-play rules that apply to contributions … Continue Reading

The FEC Levels Fines on Nonprofits over Donor Disclosure

The question of when a politically-active, nonprofit 501(c)(4) group must publicly disclose its donors has been on the front burner in various states—most, like New York and California, have called for greater regulation, while others like Arizona have loosened the reins. At the federal level, silence has been the norm because the statute is generally read … 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

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) … 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

The Office of Government Ethics Proposes Changes to the Gift Rules: How the Changes Could Limit Interaction With Government Officials

The Office of Government Ethics (OGE) has proposed revisions to the gift rules for executive branch employees. Although some of the proposed changes are meant to bring clarity without changing the rules’ substance, several changes will result in new restrictions on the “gifts” that flow from day-to-day interactions companies and associations have with officials. Overall, … 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

Maryland Changes Rules Again on Political Contribution Disclosure by Government Contractors; Lobbyist-Employers Also Affected

Following a major rewrite last year of its “pay-to-play” disclosure rules, Maryland has made further changes that expand the obligations of state and local government contractors to report their political contributions, and those of their subsidiaries, officers, directors, partners, and PACs. Now, in addition to reporting direct contributions to candidates, contractors will also have to disclose … Continue Reading

The Big No: Reimbursing Contributions

Over the last few years, the courts have loosened campaign finance laws and the agency charged with enforcing them is frequently gridlocked. However, one campaign finance violation that can still get you in big trouble is reimbursing contributions, particularly when the reimbursing is done by a corporation. In settling a recent enforcement matter involving the … Continue Reading

Please Join Us: WEBINAR – Ramping up for the 2016 Cycle: Make Compliance a Priority for Lobbying and Political Activity

Thursday, March 26, 2015 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. ET – Webinar The Justice Department recently announced its first criminal prosecution for coordination. States like Virginia are revamping their ethics laws and California recently imposed new restrictions on lobbyists. Although the IRS has yet to issue regulations for 501(c)(4)s, many states have created new disclosure … 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

Not Homeward Bound: California Lobbyists Barred from Hosting Fundraisers in their Homes

California’s ethics watchdog, the Fair Political Practices Commission, adopted a new rule that prohibits lobbyists from hosting fundraisers in their homes. This rule implements legislation passed after a lobbyist was fined for hosting what the LA Times called “lavish fundraisers” featuring “wine, liquor, and cigars,” in his home. Lobbyists in California are prohibited from making … Continue Reading

Oh What a Tangled Web Maryland Weaves: Updates on the Pay-to-Play Disclosure Process Before February 5 Report is Due

As we have discussed, Maryland amended its pay-to-play rules to impose new reporting requirements on entities that do business with state or local governments. The first report under the new system is due on February 5, and if the roundtable hosted yesterday by the State Board of Elections is any indication, confusion abounds regarding the law’s … 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

Welcoming the Trojan Horse: Arkansas Voters Approve Term Limits, While Banning Corporate Contributions and Lobbyist Gifts

When Arkansas legislators gave voters a chance to approve a constitutional amendment banning corporate contributions and gifts from lobbyists, even the referendum’s sponsor thought it was doomed.  Why?  Because coupled with these reforms was a provision extending legislators’ term limits, a measure so unpopular that voters had previously rejected it by a 40-point margin.  Indeed, … Continue Reading

LD-203 Compliance Tips

The LD-203 obviously includes a number of different disclosures. In practice, many reports show very little activity because the categories to be disclosed are fairly narrow. However, the report is filed under penalties of making false statements, so organizations have to know that they did not make any covered payments. The Whole Company As our … 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

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
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