Tag Archives: independent expenditures

St. Petersburg Passes Anti-Super PAC Ordinance, Hoping to Set Up Constitutional Showdown

The City of St. Petersburg, Florida yesterday passed an ordinance designed to take the question of “Super PACs” to the Supreme Court for the first time.  The ordinance, which we discussed in detail earlier this year, imposes a $5,000 limit on contributions to groups that raise money for or make independent expenditures or electioneering communications … 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

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 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

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

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

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

Super PACs Using Candidates’ B-roll Footage and the FEC’s “Own Message” Cases

The press and comedians have recently focused on campaigns loading “B-roll” footage onto Internet sites where Super PACs and other outside spending groups can download the footage to use in political ads.  Senator McConnell’s campaign’s use of this tactic has drawn the most attention, but it is far from the first or only campaign to … Continue Reading

Federal Court Enjoins Enforcement of Pennsylvania Ban on Corporate Contributions to Super PACs

On Monday, a federal court granted a preliminary injunction preventing Pennsylvania from enforcing its ban on corporate contributions and expenditures insofar as the challenged statute forbids corporations from contributing to political committees that exclusively make independent expenditures. In General Majority PAC v. Aichele, No. 1:14-cv-00332 (M.D. Pa. 2014), a DC-based Super PAC brought a First … Continue Reading

The More Things Change: The FEC and Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A.

On Thursday, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) was unable to agree on whether Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A. could sponsor a Separate Segregated Fund (a corporate “SSF” or “PAC” in common parlance) that solicited contributions from the employees of its dealers and service centers.  The request resulted in an unsurprising deadlock and a surprising discussion about … Continue Reading

Agreed-Upon Permanent Injunction Releases N.J. Super PACs from Limits

As forecasted, a federal court has entered a permanent injunction that permits Super PACs in New Jersey to raise unlimited funds, pursuant to the parties’ agreement.  This resolves the suit brought by the Fund for Jobs, Growth & Security after the state’s Election Law Enforcement Commission advised the Fund in March that it was powerless … Continue Reading

OPEN Sesame or a Potemkin Village?

Twenty House Democrats yesterday introduced proposed legislation that, if enacted in its current form, would amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to: Require corporations and labor unions which “submit[] regular, periodic reports” to their shareholders and members to include certain detailed information concerning their political spending.  That information must also be reported to the … 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

Connecticut Governor Signs Campaign Finance Bill

As expected, earlier this week Governor Malloy signed a bill that changes key provisions of Connecticut’s campaign finance law.  Here are a few highlights of the legislation, which takes effect immediately. Increase in Contribution Limits:  Many contribution limits applicable to individuals are doubled.  For example, the maximum aggregate limit applicable to individuals contributing to various … Continue Reading

Wisconsin Assembly Votes to Permit Corporate Independent Expenditures, Double Contribution Limits

Yesterday, the Wisconsin Assembly passed a bill that would modify Wisconsin’s ban on corporate expenditures  and double the state’s political contribution limits.  In response to Citizens United, the bill lifts Wisconsin’s blanket prohibition on corporate expenditures.  If passed by the Senate and signed into law, the bill would permit corporate independent expenditures and corporate contributions … Continue Reading

New Jersey to Allow Unrestricted Super PAC Contributions

With the New Jersey gubernatorial primary election fast approaching, we have been tracking a legal challenge to the State’s treatment of contributions to Super PACs.  Back in March, the Election Law Enforcement Commission issued an advisory opinion to the Fund for Jobs and Growth, explaining that the group would need to adhere to contribution limits … 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

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
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