Tag Archives: campaign finance

New Alabama Law Allows Unlimited Corporate Campaign Contributions

New changes to Alabama law will allow corporations, like individuals, to make unlimited campaign contributions in Alabama state and local elections.  Last Friday, Governor Robert Bentley signed the law which removes the $500 per election cap on corporate contributions.  (The Alabama Attorney General’s Office interpreted the $500 per election cap to mean corporate contributions to … 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

New Maryland Campaign Finance Law

Last Thursday, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed a new campaign finance law.  Among other provisions, the law requires disclosure of contributors to independent expenditure and electioneering groups.  The new law, which generally goes into effect in 2015, will require disclosure of the identity of any person contributing $6,000 or more to independent expenditures or independent … 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

Florida Amends Campaign Finance Law, Increasing Contribution Limits

Yesterday, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a campaign finance bill into law just hours before a midnight deadline.  The new measure makes a number of changes to Florida’s campaign finance laws, including the following: Contribution limits increased from a uniform $500 limit to $1,000 for legislative and local offices and $3,000 for statewide offices.  New … Continue Reading

Fine Levied Against California Super PAC a Possible Signal of Things to Come

Earlier this year we predicted that battles over the definition of “coordination” and Super PAC “independence” would play a significant role in the development of campaign finance law in the coming years.   In keeping with that forecast, last week, the California Fair Political Practices Commission for the first time fined a Super PAC for allegedly … 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

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

Covington Issues Client Advisory Concerning Senate PSI Campaign Finance Investigation

Today we issued a detailed advisory to clients about the anticipated campaign finance investigation by the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.  Senator Levin, who chairs the Subcommittee, recently announced his intention to lead an investigation of “secret money” in US elections.  We are following this very closely for clients, including corporations, trade associations, advocacy groups, … 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

Vermont Working On Major Changes To Campaign Finance Law

The Vermont Senate might soon scrap the Green Mountain State’s campaign finance law in its entirety in favor of new legislation.  The pending bill would change contribution limits, increase reporting frequency, and require groups paying for electioneering communications to disclose their major donors.  The ambitious bill, which is making its way through the state senate, … 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

Levin Warns of Congressional Investigation Concerning Undisclosed Money in Elections

In a press statement yesterday announcing that he would not run for re-election to the Senate in 2014, Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) foreshadowed a new investigation by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (“PSI”) concerning what he described as the IRS’s “failure” to police the use of undisclosed political money by tax-exempt organizations.  As the … 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

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

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 Rules for LLPs?

At a public hearing tomorrow, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) will discuss a proposed rulemaking that would allow certain Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs) to establish separate segregated funds (SSFs), commonly known as PACs.  If the proposed rule were ultimately to be adopted, it would create rules for LLPs that are similar to the existing rules … Continue Reading

Federal Court Upholds Ban On Federal Political Contributions By Government Contractors

Last Friday, a district court upheld a long-standing ban on federal political contributions made by federal contractors.  In practice, the universe of those directly affected by this ban, and the opinion upholding it, is relatively small.  Corporations are already prohibited from contributing to candidates and parties.  The prohibition therefore generally applies only when the federal … Continue Reading
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