Archives: Enforcement

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New York City Pay to Play and Other Campaign Finance Violations Haunt Candidate

During the 2012 election cycle, we cautioned that campaign finance problems can haunt candidates long after the election is over.  Case in point:  As the New York Daily News reports, the New York City Campaign Finance Board recently voted to impose $72,402 in penalties for violations of 15 different campaign finance restrictions, including accepting contributions … 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

A Vote on FEC Enforcement—Part II

Yesterday’s post noted several proposed changes to the Federal Election Commission’s Enforcement Manual that are likely to prove controversial.  Yet there are also proposals in that same document that merit serious consideration, if not outright support, from all on the Commission.  Here are just some suggestions of proposals that could win bi-partisan support. Applying the … Continue Reading

A Vote on FEC Enforcement

The Federal Election Commission made public two versions of its Enforcement Manual today, one based on current practices for handling the agency’s enforcement docket, and one proposing a dramatic shift in how cases could be handled in the future.  The choice between the two versions may be up for discussion at the agency’s next open … Continue Reading

Covington Issues Client Advisory Regarding STOCK Act and Political Intelligence Gathering

Covington’s cross-disciplinary team of political lawyers and securities lawyers that has been advising clients on STOCK Act compliance and enforcement issues for more than a year today issued a new client advisory, which is available here.  The advisory outlines examples of steps that companies can take to address STOCK Act risks, in an environment in … Continue Reading

Senate Judiciary Committee Holds Campaign Finance Enforcement Hearing

This morning the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism held a hearing on “Current Issues in Campaign Finance Law Enforcement.”  The focus of the hearing was what the Department of Justice and Internal Revenue Service are doing to enforce campaign finance law violations post-Citizens United with respect to contributions to Super PACs and … Continue Reading

GAO Report Signals Slow But Steady Increase In Lobbying Disclosure Act Enforcement

The Government Accountability Office this week issued its sixth annual report summarizing the results of its audit of approximately one hundred federal Lobbying Disclosure Act registrants.  As we previously explained when the audits began, federal law requires the GAO to select LDA registrants on a “random” basis for an audit to assess their compliance with … Continue Reading

Paying to Play in the Name of Another (Allegedly)

Recently, we noted a pay-to-play scandal in Pennsylvania that resulted in multiple arrests.  This week, New Jersey’s Attorney General charged seven executives or shareholders of Birdsall Services Group, an engineering firm.  The alleged Birdsall scheme illustrates the ease with which pay-to-play violations and campaign finance violations can mix. Pay-to-play laws typically restrict or prohibit public … Continue Reading

Lessons from the Pennsylvania Turnpike Pay to Play Scandal

We can learn two important lessons from the recent Pennsylvania Turnpike pay to play scandal.  The first of these lessons is straightforward, but important:  beware of providing benefits to public officials who can influence contracting or regulatory decisions impacting your company.  The second—and less intuitive—lesson, which has been lost amidst the furor over the scandal, … Continue Reading

SEC Staff Takes the Position that Political Spending Proposals Are Substantially Identical to Lobbying Proposals

One issue that confronted many public companies this year was how to respond when they received multiple shareholder proposals relating to political contributions and lobbying matters. One approach that some companies have turned to relies on Rule 14a-8(i)(11) under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, which allows a company to exclude from its proxy materials … Continue Reading

The Dangers of Sua Sponte

Yesterday’s guilty pleas in the Danielczyk criminal trial leaves open an important question that campaign finance practitioners must consider closely going forward: when does the government consider a sua sponte submission itself to constitute a criminal violation, and seek to compel counsel to become a witness against their client?  As BNA first reported, the Justice … Continue Reading

2012 FEC Year in Review

The FEC is often caricatured as either a “sleeping watch dog” or the “speech police.”  We decided to take a more balanced look at the agency’s work in 2012, to see if we could identify broader trends or decisions that were overlooked at the time, but which seem likely to have long-term significance.  The results … Continue Reading

Straw Contributors and Corporate Contributions

Corporations can engage in political activity.  But they must be careful how they do so; corporations still face restrictions, such as the prohibition on making contributions to federal candidates.  As we have seen, following a line of cases culminating in Citizens United, corporations may give unlimited sums to Super PACs.  They may also contribute to … Continue Reading

FEC Commissioner Bauerly To Step Down

Commissioner Cynthia Bauerly of the Federal Election Commission (“FEC”) announced to Commission staff today that she will be leaving the agency effective February 1. What does this mean for business before the FEC?  As a practical matter, it is unlikely to have a significant impact on the FEC’s day-to-day business.  It is not uncommon for … Continue Reading

Hatch Act Modernization Act Loosens Ethical Restrictions

Before grappling with the fiscal cliff, Congress passed a rare kind of law: one that, on balance, tends to loosen ethical restrictions.  The Hatch Act Modernization Act of 2012 amends a 1939 law – named after Carl, not Orrin – which prohibits federal employees from engaging in partisan political activities.  The Modernization Act does four … Continue Reading

Posting Videos of Candidates Speaking to Your Organization Could Violate Federal Law

Most businesses are careful not to post confidential proprietary information on the public face of their website.  But is there any reason to avoid posting video clips of speeches by public figures at an annual conference that contain no proprietary information?  It turns out there is, if the public figures are candidates for federal office. … Continue Reading

New Frontiers for Pay-to-Play Laws in the Next Election Cycle

Pay-to-play laws, which now exist at the federal, state, and local levels, generally restrict or require disclosure of political contributions by firms seeking to do business with the government.  Hedge funds, private equity funds, and asset management firms are particularly sensitive to such restrictions because of their reliance on investments from state and local government … Continue Reading

FEC Complaints Build as Elections Loom

On October 3, we examined recent allegations of campaign finance violations in Massachusetts and Arizona as illustrations of why campaigns and other organizations must be particularly careful during the final days of the election season.  Just over the past week, we have seen a flurry of additional FEC complaint filings reinforcing the need to take … Continue Reading

Allegations of Illegal Coordination: Not Only Do Elections Have Consequences, Tactics May Also

Several recent news reports are a reminder of the importance of the coordination rules.  The relaxed rules on raising and spending money on “independent expenditures,” either through a Super PAC or some other entity, are premised on that spending being “independent” of the candidate or political party the independent spender is supporting.  There is not … Continue Reading

DOJ Announces Two New Lobbying Disclosure Act Enforcement Actions

The United States Attorney for the District of Columbia today announced two new civil enforcement actions against lobbying firms for failure to file required federal Lobbying Disclosure Act (“LDA”) reports.  Two Virginia-based lobbying firms entered into civil settlement agreements with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.  One firm — Lussier, Gregor, Vienna & Associates — agreed to pay a … Continue Reading

U.S. DOJ’s Public Integrity Section Issues New Annual Report

The Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section (“PIN”) is out with its annual report to Congress for 2011.  PIN has oversight responsibility for the prosecution of criminal laws related to the abuse of public trust by government officials, including federal campaign finance laws.  It handles cases directly and also serves in an advisory capacity to … Continue Reading

FCC Issues “Enforcement Advisory” on Political Telephone Calls

Yesterday,  the Federal Communications Commission’s Enforcement Bureau issued a timely advisory on the statutes and rules restricting political telephone calls.  In the high season for election activity, the FCC hopes that the Advisory will lead to greater compliance with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) and Commission rules, warning that “the TCPA and … Continue Reading
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