Category Archives: State

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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

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

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 … Continue Reading

Super PAC or Super Fraud: What to do when a super PAC raises money off a candidate’s name but doesn’t actually do anything to support the candidate

Some candidates have a cozy relationship with super PACs that support them (as close as they can, given rules about coordination). Others are surprised and excited when a super PAC shows up to help out. But sometimes a super PAC raises money using a candidate’s name or picture, but doesn’t do much to help the … Continue Reading

Virginia Tightens the Reins: Major Lobbying and Gift Law Changes to Take Effect in 2016

Earlier this month, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe signed into law a new bill making significant changes to Virginia’s lobbying and gift laws. The critical changes made by this bill, Senate Bill No. 1424, will become effective on January 1, 2016. Many of the revisions focus on gift reform, but the bill also contains important changes … 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

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

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

Virginia Enacts Statutory Gift Restrictions

As we described in a January 16 post, moments after being sworn in as Virginia’s 72nd governor on January 11, Governor McAuliffe signed an executive order imposing new gift restrictions on Executive Branch employees and officers and their immediate family members. The Executive Order applies only to individuals that work in Virginia’s Executive Branch. As expected, Virginia’s … Continue Reading

The “Ministry of Truth” Goes to Court

Like 15 other states, Ohio has a law that prohibits false statements made during a campaign. The law allows virtually anyone to file a complaint alleging that an ad is false and allows the Ohio Elections Commission to make the initial determination as to whether it is truthful or not. The problem is that once … 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 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

FPPC goes after more committees in its “dark money” case

As we reported in November, the California Fair Political Practices Commission reached a settlement agreement with two entities (Center to Protect Patient Rights and Americans for Responsible Leadership) involved in a 2012 ballot measure. Those entities agreed to pay a $1 million fine. The FPPC said that it would require the entities that received the contributions, … Continue Reading

First Order of Business for Governor McAuliffe: Limits on Gifts to Public Officials

Virginia was one of the few states with no limits on gifts to public officials. However, in the wake of well-publicized gift scandals from the prior administration, just moments after being sworn in as Virginia’s 72nd governor on January 11, Governor McAuliffe signed an executive order imposing new gift restrictions on Executive Branch employees and … Continue Reading

Upping the Contribution Limit on the Upper Peninsula (and elsewhere): Michigan Enacts Changes to its Campaign Finance Laws

Last week Michigan followed several states by increasing both contribution limits and frequency of disclosure from candidates. The bill, which took effect immediately, also includes new identification requirements for persons or groups paying for robocalls while exempting so-called “issue-ads” and their donors from being disclosed in campaign finance reports.   Contribution Limits and Disclosure The … Continue Reading

Venable Hosts Webinar on Government Affairs Compliance – January 16

Please join us for a webinar on January 16, 2014, at 1:00pm EST, which will provide a tune-up on government affairs compliance and examine recent trends. We will cover all the major topics you need to be thinking about as you ramp up for lobbying the new Congress and state legislatures and prepare for the mid-term elections: Forming and operating … Continue Reading

To Catch a Lobbyist: NYC Ordinance Aims to Catch Those Flouting Registration and Vastly Expands Covered Activities

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 made … Continue Reading

Big Jump in Florida Contribution Limits, But With More Disclosure

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 … Continue Reading

California Settles Case Involving Contributions to a Ballot Committee

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 … Continue Reading
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