Inside Political Law Staff

Inside Political Law Staff

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Agreed-Upon Permanent Injunction Releases N.J. Super PACs from Limits

As forecasted, a federal court has entered a permanent injunction that permits Super PACs in New Jersey to raise unlimited funds, pursuant to the parties’ agreement.  This resolves the suit brought by the Fund for Jobs, Growth & Security after the state’s Election Law Enforcement Commission advised the Fund in March that it was powerless … Continue Reading

DOMA Invalidation Will Likely Impact Federal Contribution Limits

The Supreme Court’s decision today invalidating the Defense of Marriage Act will impact campaign finance laws as well, probably nowhere more clearly than in casting doubt on the FEC’s February decision advising a candidate for the special U.S. Senate Primary Election in Massachusetts that he could not treat contributions from a same-sex couple married under … Continue Reading

Tenth Circuit Upholds FEC’s Broader Definition of “Express Advocacy”

In a rare move for a federal appellate court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit yesterday released a two-paragraph precedential opinion upholding various federal campaign finance laws and policies by simply adopting the district court’s decision.  The case is captioned Free Speech v. FEC. The most notable part of the district court … Continue Reading

Connecticut Governor Signs Campaign Finance Bill

As expected, earlier this week Governor Malloy signed a bill that changes key provisions of Connecticut’s campaign finance law.  Here are a few highlights of the legislation, which takes effect immediately. Increase in Contribution Limits:  Many contribution limits applicable to individuals are doubled.  For example, the maximum aggregate limit applicable to individuals contributing to various … Continue Reading

Courts Struggle to Draw Constitutional Lines for Disclosure

When the Supreme Court issued Citizens United v. FEC, there was little question that the landscape of campaign finance law shifted.  Much of the aftermath continues to focus on independent spending, contribution limits, and outright contribution bans on corporations and government contractors—restrictions that may have been upended by the notion that Citizens United narrowed the … Continue Reading

Wisconsin Aggregate Contribution Limit Challenged

A Wisconsin resident has brought a federal lawsuit challenging the state law that restricts individual political contributions to candidates and committees to $10,000 in a calendar year.  As alleged in the complaint in the case, captioned Young v. Vocke, the aggregate limit is so low that if an individual were to make a maximum contribution … Continue Reading

D.C. Circuit Vacates Federal Contractor Ban Decision on Way to En Banc Review

Earlier today a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued its opinion in Wagner v. FEC, sending the legal challenge brought by three federal contractors back to the start. The contractors had sued the Federal Election Commission back in October 2011, arguing that federal law unconstitutionally prohibits federal contractors … Continue Reading

New Jersey to Allow Unrestricted Super PAC Contributions

With the New Jersey gubernatorial primary election fast approaching, we have been tracking a legal challenge to the State’s treatment of contributions to Super PACs.  Back in March, the Election Law Enforcement Commission issued an advisory opinion to the Fund for Jobs and Growth, explaining that the group would need to adhere to contribution limits … Continue Reading

Group Sues Treasury and IRS to Amend 501(c)(4) Regulations

All eyes are on the IRS and its regulation of 501(c)(4) organizations these days, with the agency’s mishandling of exemption applications, the release of the Treasury Inspector General’s report, and the lengthy hearings held by the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee examining the … Continue Reading

Challenge to Federal Contractor Contribution Ban Awaits D.C. Circuit Decision

On Thursday,  the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit wrapped up its 2012–2013 Term by hearing argument in Wagner v. FEC, a case that challenges the Federal Election Campaign Act provision prohibiting federal contractors from making political contributions in connection with federal elections.  The court typically issues opinions argued during a term by … Continue Reading

Vermont Super PAC Contribution Limit Bill Stalls

Despite seemingly widespread agreement between and among Vermont state legislators and Governor Shumlin that contributions to Vermont Super PACs should be capped in principle, it now appears unlikely that Senate Bill 82 will make it to the Governor’s desk in 2013.  The two chambers of the state legislature were unable to agree on the specifics … Continue Reading

Vermont Moves Closer to Imposing Contribution Limits on Super PACs

Yesterday the Vermont House of Representatives moved the State one step closer to imposing contribution limits on independent-expenditure only committees, more commonly known as Super PACs. As we reported here, the Senate has passed a bill (S. 82) that would limit contributions to Super PACs to $3,000, but only if the U.S. Court of Appeals … Continue Reading

Update on Corporate Political Activity Disclosure

A hot topic we’ve been tracking closely this year concerns the regulatory and legal battles over corporate political activity disclosure.  This past week has been notable in two respects. As we’ve previously reported here, in December 2012 the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) identified potential rulemakings that it might undertake in 2013.  Among the items … Continue Reading

Vermont Bill Proposes Cap on Contributions to State Super PACs

Although over the last year many states have exempted Super PACs—i.e., groups that only make independent expenditures—from the strictures of contributions limits, Vermont may be headed in another direction. This is not the first chapter in the Vermont Super PAC story.  As we noted last July, the Vermont Attorney General declared that the State would … Continue Reading

Super PAC Files Challenge to New Jersey Contribution Limits

A few weeks ago the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission issued an advisory opinion indicating that it would enforce the state’s contribution limits against groups that (i) have a major purpose of influencing New Jersey elections and (ii) do so exclusively by making independent expenditures.  Although the Commission recognized that its position might be … Continue Reading

Utah Corporate Disclosure Bill Signed Into Law

This year’s march of state government campaign finance reforms continues, with the Governor of Utah signing H.B. 43 into law earlier this week. Utah already requires corporations—including nonprofits—to report how much they spend on political expenditures once they reach a $750 threshold for a calendar year.  But the newly enacted law requires these corporations to … Continue Reading

Florida Legislators Take First Look at Proposed Lobbyist Gift Ban Exceptions

Since 2005, Florida has had one of the strictest restrictions on lobbyists and principals giving gifts to state legislators.  Except for “floral arrangements” or “other celebratory items” given on the opening day of regular session, the law flatly prohibits a lobbyist or principal from making “any expenditure” with respect to a member or employee of … Continue Reading

New Jersey Commission Intends to Enforce Contribution Limits Against State Super PACs

Groups that are planning to run independent expenditures in the New Jersey gubernatorial election this year should be aware of a new advisory opinion issued by the State’s Election Law Enforcement Commission late last week.  Under this latest guidance, groups that support or oppose New Jersey candidates may have to register as political committees and … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Declines Review in Corporate Contributions Case

This morning the Supreme Court denied review in Danielczyk v. United States, a criminal case in which the defendants challenged the century-old federal ban on direct corporate contributions to candidates.  The district court had granted a motion to dismiss Count Four of the indictment, alleging that the defendants had directed corporate money to a 2008 … Continue Reading

Supreme Court to Take Up Biennial Contribution Limits

The top story in today’s campaign finance press is the Supreme Court’s decision to hear McCutcheon v. FEC, a challenge to the Federal Election Campaign Act’s biennial limits on individual contributions to candidate and non-candidate committees.  Here are a few key take-aways. Timing.  The Court’s argument calendar is full for the remainder of the Term, … Continue Reading

SEC Rulemaking on Corporate Political Spending Disclosure

As has been widely reported, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) recently made some rumblings about undertaking a rulemaking requiring corporations to disclose their funding and participation in political activities to shareholders.  The move has been heralded by corporate governance reform groups and decried by some from the business sector.  But what exactly does this … Continue Reading

Nonprofit to Disclose Donors in California

According to press reports, the legal fight between the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) and Americans for Responsible Leadership (ARL), an Arizona-based 501(c)(4), appears to have drawn to a close.  ARL apparently has dropped its bid to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.  And instead of producing documents to the FPPC for an audit, … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Orders Arizona Nonprofit to Undergo Audit

At the close of last week, we were tracking the California Fair Political Practices Commission’s (FPPC) efforts to conduct an audit of Americans for Responsible Leadership (ARL) to determine whether the Arizona-based 501(c)(4) needed to disclose its donors under California law.  A state trial court had ordered ARL to submit documents and ARL had taken an … Continue Reading
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