Tag Archives: enforcement

In Chevron Case, FEC Brings Clarity to the Federal Contractor Ban and Super PACs

The rules on corporate contributions to Super PACs were made clearer today when the Federal Election Commission (FEC) released its finding that Chevron Corporation’s $2.5 million contribution in 2012 to the Congressional Leadership Fund (a Super PAC) had not violated the bar on government contractors making contributions in federal elections. Public Citizen and several environmental … Continue Reading

Attend It Like Beckham: Celebrity Cleared of Lobbying Violations from Miami “Meet-and-Greets”

Celebrities often use their star power to shine a light on otherwise overlooked issues.  Soccer star David Beckham has inadvertently used his celebrity status to highlight a trap for the famous and non-famous alike — local lobbying regulations.  Last Wednesday, The Miami-Dade County Commission on Ethics and Public Trust cleared “Becks” of violating the county’s lobbying … Continue Reading

Contractors Handed 4-Year Ban Under New Jersey Township’s Pay-to-Play Law

Medford, New Jersey recently disqualified five would-be city contractors from receiving municipal contracts until 2017 for allegedly making political contributions in violation of the Township’s pay-to-play ordinance. The ordinance, adopted in 2012, imposes an automatic four-year bar on contracting with a company that contributes to candidates or committees in excess of the law’s per-recipient or … Continue Reading

Connecticut Pay-to-Play Law Does Not Bar Giving to a State Party’s Federal Account

Connecticut’s campaign finance regulator, the State Elections Enforcement Commission (“SEEC”) recently released an important advisory opinion that made clear that a state contractor that is otherwise barred from giving to a state political party under Connecticut’s pay-to-play law can give to the party’s federal account, a point SEEC staff had previously addressed.  However, the state … Continue Reading

Record-Setting Enforcement by California’s Campaign Finance Regulator

California’s Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) is more aggressive than ever and is employing new tactics.  The FPPC’s recently-released end-of-year report detailing enforcement activities in 2013 highlights some interesting statistics that should be on the radar of every company doing business in California. Prosecutions of both “serious campaign cases” and lobbying violations were both “at … Continue Reading

Lessons From the Reversal of Tom DeLay’s Conviction

For Tom DeLay, yesterday’s Texas Court of Appeals ruling reversing his conviction on money laundering charges (with its accompanying three year prison sentence) probably makes up for the former House Majority Leader’s Dancing with the Stars loss.  The acquittal marks another high-profile defeat for government prosecutors bringing criminal charges predicated on alleged election law violations. … Continue Reading

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

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

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

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

Connecticut Governor’s Gift Rule Issue Highlights the Legal Minefield for Corporate Events

A brewing controversy over Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy’s trip to attend the White House Correspondents’ Dinner highlights how media corporations and other firms that invite public officials to events can become embroiled in government ethics matters (h/t Eric Brown’s Political Activity Law Blog).  The Governor reportedly accepted an invitation to attend the WHCA at the … 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

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 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
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