Archives: Campaign Finance

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Guidelines for Interacting with the Biden-Harris Transition and the Biden Inaugural Committee

With the election over, attention now turns to the transition and the upcoming inauguration of the new Biden-Harris Administration. In this alert, which will be of interest to chief compliance officers and many others across the country, Covington’s Election and Political Law Practice Group provides insight into what promises to be a transition and inauguration … Continue Reading

Guidance Regarding Contributions to Recount and Election Dispute Funds

As both presidential and down-ticket candidates gear up for post-election recounts and related litigation in several states, they and their political parties will be raising new funds to finance these efforts. As with campaign contributions made before the election, there are a variety of rules that apply to contributions to support post-election disputes. The Federal … Continue Reading

How Can Corporations Support the Voting Process?

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, voting in the 2020 general election is likely to look different than we have seen in recent times. Election officials across the country are working through in-person voting and vote-by-mail procedures and individual voters are deciding how best to cast their ballots. At the same time, many corporations … Continue Reading

Avoiding Straw Donor Issues

While federal campaign finance enforcement priorities can and do shift, prosecutions of “conduit contributions” or “straw donors” have remained steady over the years.  Unlike most of federal campaign finance law, the law around straw donors is stable and well developed, and straw donor prosecutions tend to be straightforward.  The recent media coverage surrounding allegations that … Continue Reading

The FEC Appears to be Exercising its Powers Without a Quorum

Over the past 10 days, the FEC has been quietly exercising authority reserved for when at least four Commissioners vote in favor of an action.  Since July 3, however, the FEC has only had three Commissioners.  This activity raises consequential questions about the FEC’s ability to act without a quorum, and presents important concerns about … Continue Reading

Increased Enforcement Risk for Criminal Campaign Finance Violations

Every four years, prosecutors at the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) train their sights on money spent to influence the outcome of the presidential election—and those who spend it.  While the Federal Election Commission (FEC) has exclusive jurisdiction to penalize and enforce civil violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA), 52 U.S.C. § 30101 et … Continue Reading

Washington Becomes Latest State to Pass Law Prohibiting Foreign Involvement in Campaign Finance Activity

Effective tomorrow, June 11, 2020, a new law in Washington state prohibits involvement of “foreign nationals” in state campaign finance activity.  The law also requires corporations and other entities to certify their compliance with the new law whenever they make a contribution in the state.  This new law reinforces Washington’s reputation as one of the … Continue Reading

Reopening the FEC

In a 49-43 vote along party lines, the Senate confirmed Texas attorney James “Trey” Trainor to the Federal Election Commission today.  This gives the FEC a quorum for the first time since August 31, 2019, when former Commissioner Matt Petersen stepped down to enter private practice.  What effect will this have on the FEC and … Continue Reading

State Lobbyist and Campaign Finance Filing Changes Related to COVID-19

As states grapple with the effects of the COVID-19 crisis, many have opted to make changes to campaign finance and lobbying reporting due dates and filing procedures. Covington has published a client alert containing a chart of changes to state campaign finance and lobbying filing schedules that states have announced as of last week. State … Continue Reading

Campaign Finance Violation for Unregistered Political Committee Upheld in Washington State, but $18 Million Penalty Must Still Pass Excessive Fine Test

In one of the most watched campaign finance disclosure enforcement cases, last week, the Washington State Supreme Court upheld a trial court’s finding that a trade association intentionally failed to register and report contributions and expenditures in opposition to a ballot initiative that would have required labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food.  In … Continue Reading

Interacting with the Government During the Pandemic: Compliance Blind Spots for Corporations and Executives

The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic are reverberating in every sector of the global economy, from life sciences to transportation, retail to manufacturing, financial services to sports and entertainment. As federal, state, and local governments attempt to blunt the pandemic’s public health and economic effects, many companies are frantically working with government to seek the … Continue Reading

New Jersey “Dark Money” Disclosure Law Permanently Enjoined

Last year, we blogged about a new and highly restrictive disclosure law in New Jersey that took aim at so-called “dark money” spending by nonprofit and political organizations.  In response to a series of lawsuits, a federal court has issued an order permanently prohibiting the state from enforcing the law against “independent expenditure committees” as … Continue Reading

New Online Political Advertising Rules Coming to California January 1

Amid ongoing focus on how social media and other companies approach online advertising, California’s latest effort to require disclosure of online advertising will take effect January 1.  We blogged on these revisions to the California DISCLOSE Act, sometimes called the Social Media DISCLOSE Act, when they passed back in 2018.  Absent federal action, we expect … Continue Reading

So-Called “Dark Money” Group Reveals its Donors

In a rare case, a so-called “dark money” group has now publicly released the names of its donors.  Under federal law, if an organization has as its “major purpose” the nomination or election of federal candidates, the organization may be a “political committee” required to report its receipts and disbursements with the Federal Election Committee.  … Continue Reading

California Poised to Adopt Campaign Contribution Limits for City and County Elections

The California legislature passed a new law this week that, if signed by the Governor, would impose campaign contribution limits on city and county elections in the state.  Under current law, cities and counties may adopt their own contribution limits, but most have not.  According to the legislature, this has led to a situation where … Continue Reading

New Jersey, Colorado Join Growing List of States Regulating “Dark Money”

So-called “dark money” — political contributions and spending by groups that do not have to disclose their donors — continues to draw the attention of state legislators, with Colorado and New Jersey recently adopting laws that attempt to force some donor disclosure from the groups.  They join other states, including Washington and California, that have … Continue Reading

FEC Increases Contribution Limits for 2019-2020

The Federal Election Commission has announced contribution limits for 2019-2020.  The new “per election” limits are effective for the 2019-2020 election cycle (November 7, 2018 – November 3, 2020), and the calendar year limits are effective January 1, 2019. The FEC increased the amount an individual can contribute to a candidate to $2,800 per election, up from $2,700.  Because the … Continue Reading

Covington Issues Client Advisory Concerning “Earmarked” Contributions To Politically Active Organizations

A perennial compliance issue for corporations, family offices, and individual major donors who are considering contributions to politically active outside groups involves determining whether the contributions will be treated as “earmarked” for a specific candidate or political committee, which can result in legal compliance issues as well as disclosure of the donor’s identity.  The new … Continue Reading

FEC Issues New Guidance On Donor Disclosure for Entities Making Independent Expenditures

On September 18, the Supreme Court left in place the district court decision in CREW v. FEC, a case that dramatically increased the disclosure obligations for nonprofits and other entities that spend money on public communications that encourage people to vote for or against specific candidates. We previously described the anticipated effects of the CREW … Continue Reading

California Social Media DISCLOSE Act Becomes Law, Takes Effect 2020

Earlier this week, California Gov. Jerry Brown approved the Social Media Disclose Act, to take effect in 2020.  We previously blogged about the Social Media DISCLOSE Act, which will place new disclosure obligations on social networks like Facebook and Twitter; advertising platforms like Google; and anyone who engages in online political advertising.  Covered platforms in … Continue Reading

Donor Disclosure Requirements Expand After Supreme Court Order

In a startling turn of events that will alter election spending decisions in the run-up to the general election, and after, the Supreme Court reversed a temporary stay issued by Justice Roberts on Friday, and left in place a district court decision that dramatically increased the disclosure obligations for entities spending on public communications that … Continue Reading
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