Archives: State Law

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The Top Three Political Law Risks for Hedge Funds, Private Equity Funds, and Investment Firms

Perhaps no industry faces more scrutiny and regulation of its political activities than the financial services industry.   Even though these rules are often not intuitive, failure to comply with them can result in big penalties, loss of business, and debilitating reputational consequences.  In this advisory, we describe three sometimes overlooked political law related risks for hedge funds, … Continue Reading

California Legislature Passes “California DISCLOSE Act,” a Complex but Clarifying Update to the State’s Political Advertising Disclosure Rules

Over the weekend, the California legislature passed AB249, the California DISCLOSE Act, a controversial set of campaign finance disclosure rules that have been years in the making.  The law now awaits Gov. Jerry Brown’s approval.  The law’s proponents have argued that it is necessary in order to provide voters with complete information about the sponsors … Continue Reading

Avoiding State and Local Lobbying Compliance Violations

Corporate legal and compliance departments are usually well aware of the laws regulating lobbying the federal government. Recent news reports, however, indicate that companies have more trouble with state and local lobbying laws. A few features of state and local lobbying make it a tricky blind spot. This increases the risk of failing to properly … Continue Reading

Kentucky Raises Contribution Limits in July, Adjusts Reporting

Starting this month, nearly all of Kentucky’s campaign contribution limits increase, excepting contributions that remain either unlimited in amount or prohibited. Perhaps the most substantial change is the establishment of building fund accounts for political party executive committees, which may now accept unlimited funds from corporations. Also of note is the elimination of an aggregate $10,000 … Continue Reading

California AG Becerra Hints at Crackdown on Nonprofit Political Activity

Nonprofits that are active in California politics, already facing one of the most complex regulatory environments in the country, now have another thing to worry about: the state’s Attorney General.  In remarks Wednesday, Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced his intent to pursue nonprofit organizations that he believes “abuse” their nonprofit status for political purposes.  With the … Continue Reading

Virginia Makes Key Adjustments to Law Governing Gifts to Officials, Adds New Lobbyist Gift Notification

Organizations represented by lobbyists in Virginia should be aware of a new law enacted today.  The law eliminates a controversial exception to the state’s $100 limit on lobbyist gifts to legislators and officials, adds a key new exception to that law, and also includes an additional gift notification requirement for lobbyists.  The changes represent Virginia’s … Continue Reading

New Executive Order on Ethics in Missouri Includes Lobbyist Gift Ban, Revolving-Door Provision; Legislature Considering Additional Restrictions

Earlier this month, newly-installed Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens issued Executive Order 2, applying strict ethics rules to executive branch employees in that state.  The order includes a ban on gifts from lobbyists, conflicts of interest rules, and a “revolving door” provision that prohibits employees who leave Greitens’ office from later lobbying his administration.  The state … Continue Reading

“When One Door Closes . . .”: McCain-Feingold Opens “Soft Money” Loophole In the States

A recent settlement between the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) and Massachusetts Republican Party may highlight an emerging trend: state parties using federal preemption to avoid strict state campaign finance laws.  At issue was whether the Massachusetts Republican Party could use funds from its federal campaign account to pay for staff and … Continue Reading

California Regulation, Proposed Statute Add to State’s Reputation for Complex, Detailed Disclosure

California is already home to some of the most complicated and searching political regulations in the country, especially in its efforts to expose “dark money” and other undisclosed political spending.  A newly-amended lobbying regulation and proposed campaign finance law will enhance that reputation.  The practical effect of each is to invite deeper scrutiny of not … Continue Reading

California Approves Strict Rules on Super PAC Coordination

California has existing regulations that define when expenditures by outside groups, including super PACs, are coordinated with candidates and become illegal contributions to those campaigns.  These rules create a presumption of coordination under certain circumstances.  Yesterday, the Fair Political Practices Commission (“FPPC”) approved revisions to its rules on independent expenditures and coordination that expand the … Continue Reading

California Penalizes Campaign, Committee for Coordination Violation

As Super PACs and campaigns continue to edge closer to the legal line between “independence” and “coordination,” it has become common to hear calls for the FEC to take a stricter role in enforcing the law. Yet as recently reported by BNA, the FEC has not found a single violation of its coordination rules in … Continue Reading

Highlights from Wagner; D.C. Circuit Upholds Contributions Restrictions But Limits Ruling

The Wagner case, decided today by the D.C. Circuit, is important because of its analysis of the constitutionality of federal campaign contribution restrictions and, by extension, of pay-to-play laws generally. Covington has been monitoring this case since the district court decision in 2012, to the argument before the D.C. Circuit in 2013, and the decision … Continue Reading

Christie Vetoes Controversial New Jersey Pay-to-Play Provision

Earlier this week, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed key aspects of a bill that would have imposed new restrictions on the ability of national and federal political party committees to raise money from Wall Street and financial executives.  The bill, as we have previously discussed, sought to apply the state’s notoriously stringent pay-to-play rules … Continue Reading

New Campaign Finance, Lobbying, and Ethics Laws Take Effect

The New Year brings with it new laws governing campaign finance, lobbying, and ethics. Below we highlight some of the major state and federal laws that took effect on or around January 1. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list, but highlights some of the most significant changes that are new for 2015.  … Continue Reading

Illinois Governor Signs Executive Order on Ethics

Companies and individuals doing business in Illinois should be aware of an executive order – Executive Order 15-09 – signed this week by Governor Bruce Rauner that, among other things, imposes new limitations on the acceptance of gifts by state employees.  Illinois state employees are generally prohibited by statute from accepting any gift from a “prohibited … Continue Reading

Ethics Rules and Transition Teams: Maryland Weighs In

A recent advisory letter by the Maryland State Ethics Commission should remind those asked to serve on transition teams to be aware of the various state laws that might be triggered by their service.  In the advisory letter, written to a government contractor, the State Ethics Commission concluded that members of the Maryland Governor-Elect’s Transition … Continue Reading

New Arkansas Campaign Finance, Lobbying, and Ethics Laws Take Immediate Effect

Amid the thrill of victory and agony of defeat this Election Day, Arkansas voters approved a constitutional amendment that will have a major impact on those involved in the political and legislative process there.  While enacting legislation and regulations may bring some additional clarity to the issues, the amendment is effective immediately and brings the … Continue Reading

New, Strict “Reverse” Revolving Door Restrictions in Pennsylvania?

On October 15, Pennsylvania’s legislature sent House Bill 201 to Governor Tom Corbett for signature.  The legislation would prohibit a government employee from evaluating bids for state contracts submitted by his or her former employer for two years. This legislation is interesting for a few reasons.  First, it is a twist on what are commonly … Continue Reading

New Virginia Ethics Laws Take Effect Tomorrow; More Changes May Come in 2015

Those active in Virginia politics should note that portions of Virginia’s new ethics law take effect tomorrow, July 1, 2014, including the new $250 annual limit on “tangible” gifts from lobbyists and government contractors. Governor Terry McAuliffe has said that this is not the end of ethics reform in Virginia.  Earlier this month, he used … Continue Reading

Florida Clarifies Registration Requirements for Federal and Out-of-state PACs

New guidance from the Florida Bureau of Election Records will be useful to federal PACs and other non-Florida political entities that want to participate in Florida politics but were wary of the state’s registration and reporting requirements.  Under the new guidance, available on page 34 of the Florida Political Committee Handbook: Out-of-state and federal entities … Continue Reading

New York State Regulator Adopts New Ethics Rules

New York State’s lobbying and ethics regulator, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE), released a number of new rules, effective this week, including rules on the giving and receiving of gifts, honoraria, and payment for expenses. JCOPE, which was established by the state’s Public Integrity Reform Act of 2011, is the first state agency … Continue Reading

Virginia Enacts New Gifts and Ethics Legislation

The Virginia General Assembly passed new ethics legislation on Wednesday to little fanfare.  Legislators voted unanimously to adopt the new law with Governor Terry McAuliffe’s technical amendments.  We previously blogged about the law’s major provisions.  The law supplements the much stricter executive order limiting gifts to the executive branch, signed by Governor McAuliffe in January.  … Continue Reading

Federal Judge Finally Tosses Aside Limits on Contributions to New York Super PACs

Super PACs in the Empire State and in the Big Apple are about to become more “super.”  Today, a New York federal court finally (albeit begrudgingly) struck down a state law that effectively capped contributions to state Super PACs at no more than $150,000.  Prior to today’s ruling, New York had been one of a … Continue Reading
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