Inside Political Law Staff

Inside Political Law Staff

Subscribe to all posts by Inside Political Law Staff

Gift Tax Certainty at Last?

The U.S. House of Representatives this week passed a bill to provide gift tax certainty to individuals who make gifts to 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations, 501(c)(5) labor unions, and 501(c)(6) trade associations.  The bill, H.R. 1104 (the “Fair Treatment for All Gifts Act”), was approved with bipartisan support on a voice vote.  It now goes … Continue Reading

FCC Issues “Enforcement Advisory” Warning Political Campaigns and Promoters Against Robocall Abuse

Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission’s Enforcement Bureau issued an advisory reminding political campaigns about the restrictions placed on the use of autodialed calls, prerecorded calls, and text messages by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) and the FCC’s corresponding rules.  The Enforcement Bureau warns that it is “closely monitoring this space” and will “rigorously enforce … Continue Reading

FCC Fines Company $2.9 Million for Political Robocalls to Cell Phones

Last week, the Federal Communications Commission announced plans to fine Dialing Services, LLC, nearly $3 million for making illegal “robocalls” to cell phones.  The FCC has specific rules for automatic telephone dialing systems, also known as “autodialers,” that have the capacity to produce, store, and dial telephone numbers using a random or sequential number generator.  … Continue Reading

FEC has said little about earmarking rule discussed in McCutcheon

While McCutcheon concluded the government’s anti-circumvention rationale was too speculative and attenuated to justify the biennial aggregate limits, the Court did discuss “multiple alternatives available” to the government that would serve this interest while still satisfying the First Amendment.  One such suggestion involved “earmarking” rules—which bar donors from trying to circumvent the base limits by … Continue Reading

Federal Court Enjoins Enforcement of Pennsylvania Ban on Corporate Contributions to Super PACs

On Monday, a federal court granted a preliminary injunction preventing Pennsylvania from enforcing its ban on corporate contributions and expenditures insofar as the challenged statute forbids corporations from contributing to political committees that exclusively make independent expenditures. In General Majority PAC v. Aichele, No. 1:14-cv-00332 (M.D. Pa. 2014), a DC-based Super PAC brought a First … Continue Reading

Conflicting Signals on Finalizing the Proposed Treasury Regulations for 501(c)(4)s

Earlier today, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, in his first appearance before the House Appropriations subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government Oversight, stated that final regulations governing political activity by 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations are unlikely to be completed before the November elections. His statement seems to differ from the White House Statement of Administration … Continue Reading

DuPage County (Illinois) Board Repeals Self-Imposed Pay-to-Play Restrictions

The Daily Herald reported that last Tuesday suburban Chicago DuPage County repealed previously adopted county-specific pay-to-play rules.  In 2010, DuPage County enacted a county ordinance prohibiting any “officer,” including county board members, from soliciting or accepting campaign contributions in excess of $1,000 from any person or entity seeking an official action or doing business with … Continue Reading

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

OPEN Sesame or a Potemkin Village?

Twenty House Democrats yesterday introduced proposed legislation that, if enacted in its current form, would amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to: Require corporations and labor unions which “submit[] regular, periodic reports” to their shareholders and members to include certain detailed information concerning their political spending.  That information must also be reported to the … 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

Charting a Path Forward for Certain 501(c)(4) Organizations, and Perhaps Others

The IRS on Tuesday issued its eagerly anticipated 30-day report summarizing its initial review and assessment of “what went wrong” in connection with the IRS’s use of inappropriate criteria to screen exemption applications from Tea Party groups seeking recognition that they are 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations.  We had previously blogged on this here and here. … 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

Treasury Inspector General to IRS: Yes, That Was Wrong

Late yesterday afternoon, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration released its eagerly awaited report on its investigation into the IRS’s use of inappropriate criteria for screening tax-exempt applications (“IG Report”). The Inspector General initiated its investigation after members of Congress raised concerns during the 2012 election cycle that the IRS was selectively enforcing the … 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

IRS Says: “That was wrong.”

“That was wrong. That was absolutely incorrect, it was insensitive and it was inappropriate. That’s not how we go about selecting cases for further review.” In an unexpected move that surprised some and angered others, Lois Lerner, Director of Exempt Organizations of the Internal Revenue Service, publicly apologized for the IRS’s mishandling of exemption applications … Continue Reading
LexBlog