Last week, New York’s City Council passed an ordinance amending its lobbying laws. While these reforms largely have gone unnoticed, a close look at the changes, some of which go into effect on January 1, reveals some potentially far-reaching implications.

First, the definition of “lobbying” has been expanded to include attempts to influence “any determination

On November 26, the Department of Treasury released proposed regulations billed as “more definitive rules” for when the IRS will treat certain activities by section 501(c)(4) organization as political activity. It is hard to argue that the proposal provides some clarity, but only by classifying a wide variety of activities as candidate-related and therefore not

The maximum contribution to Florida candidates has jumped from $500 to $3000 per election for candidates in statewide elections and from $500 to $1000 per election for state legislative candidates. The new limits took effect on November 1, part of a sweeping overhaul of the state’s campaign finance and ethics laws signed into law in

The California Fair Political Practices Commission (“FPPC”) issued its largest fines ever on October 24, 2013, against two groups that allegedly served as conduits for millions of dollars spent on California ballot measures in 2012. Together, the groups have been tagged with a combined $1 million fine, and the PACs that received some of the

Nonprofit groups raising money in New York are required by new rules to report nationwide spending on communications that support or oppose candidates and ballot initiatives, or that simply refer to candidates within certain periods before an election. When a group spends more than $10,000 on such communications in regard to New York state or

Obviously the IRS has spent a great deal of time trying to determine whether certain groups qualify for exemption under Section 501(c)(4) of the tax code. Why 501(c)(4) status matters so much is really about disclosure and not about tax revenue at all.

Unlike contributions to Section 501(c)(3) organizations, contributions to 501(c)(4)s are not deductible



It seems the IRS controversy has spilled into the states. Late last week Governor Rick Perry vetoed legislation
 that would have required the disclosure of high-level donors by many politically active organizations, including those exempt under Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal
TexasRevenue Code. After a Republican legislature passed the bill, there was a fevered
internet

New York State’s ethics and lobbying watchdog, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (“JCOPE”), released revised draft amendments to its gift and honoraria rules and source of funding (“SOF”) regulations. JCOPE will seek formal public comment on all of these proposed rules. Copies of the new draft rules can be found here.

In January,

Florida Governor Rick Scott signed two bills yesterday that make sweeping changes in the state’s campaign finance and ethics laws. The campaign finance bill eliminates controversial accounts that some alleged were used by candidates as political slush funds, expands gift restrictions on state vendors, and gives expanded investigative powers to the state ethics commission. The

In the closing hours of its session last week, the Maryland General Assembly passed the Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2013 and Governor O’Malley is expected to sign it soon. Even so, the changes do not take effect until after the 2014 state elections.

The final version of the bill is largely unchanged from the