In a post I wrote for the Politics, Law and Policy Blog, I noted that change is coming to Washington in the form of an anticipated overhaul of federal election and tax laws. You can read the whole post here but federal lobbyists – and those who employ them – should take particular note of an initiative launched this week by an organization known as “United Republic”.
Last night, the New Jersey City Council agreed unanimously to pass a revised pay-to-play ordinance restricting vendor contributions to Board of Education candidates. No real news there. The story, as they say, is in the story that got them there.
The phenomena of outside groups attacking a political opponent with thinly-veiled allegations that he is corrupt is certainly nothing new. Sliming one’s opponent over the airways with allegations that she awarded government contracts to unworthy major donors draws a collective yawn from our now-jaded electorate.
For more than two years, this blog has been covering the Securities and Exchange Commission’s foray into the world of pay-to-play regulation and the Commission’s attempt to implement federal pay-to-play restrictions for registered investment advisers. The latest chapter in this long and winding saga occurred earlier this month, when the SEC formally extended the compliance date for the third-party solicitation ban imposed by the recently-crafted amendments to Rule 206(4)-5 under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940.
Through its recent decision in Ognibene v. Parkes, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected a constitutional challenge of New York City’s political contribution limits on “lobbyists” and others having business dealings with the City (a/k/a the “pay-to-play” rules), finding that such limits do not violate First Amendment free speech rights.
We’ve noted before that New Jersey remains the hands-down leader in pay-to-play ordinance proliferation.
Last February, we posted an entry flagging potential concerns arising from the SEC’s new pay-to-play rules for investment advisors as applied to presidential candidates. Admittedly, at the time we were talking about Governors Haley Barbour and Mitch Daniels, but the same holds true now for Texas Governor Rick Perry.
By Stefan Passantino & Ben Keane It has been almost exactly 19 months since the Supreme Court handed down its controversial decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, but the plot continues to thicken as those favoring mandatory corporate disclosure of political activities look for a non-judicial fix to the ruling. To date,… Continue Reading
Having apparently abandoned all hope of reforming New York’s Congressional delegation, Governor Cuomo has concluded that it’s time to focus on New York State ethics and disclosure. This week, Governor Cuomo announced that he, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver had reached a three-way agreement on a substantial ethics reform package. The “Public Integrity Reform Act of 2011″ proposes sweeping changes across a number of ethical disciplines.
Nothing gets a legislator in the mood for regulatory action like press accounts of one of their own getting busted for pocketing a few dollars in exchange for government largess. Legislation is moving through the Maryland General Assembly at precisely the same pace as Prince George’s County Council member Leslie Johnson moves through the Maryland criminal justice system.
As we anticipated for you last November, Los Angeles has passed into law an ordinance establishing pay-to-play restrictions. The measure passed by a 75% -25% margin and targeted city contractors who are perceived to make their living procuring contracts greased by campaign contributions.
Recent commentary on the SEC’s new pay-to-play rules has generally focused on the lack of certainty to the business community on how these rules will be applied, as well as the administrative difficulties that will likely arise as the rule first goes into effect. RealClearPolitics has an interesting new take on the regulations, which focuses on how this could impact the 2012 Republican Presidential Primary.
The only consistent element one can discern from state and local pay-to-play enforcement is that municipal approaches to enforcement vary widely. Local legislation and enforcement is driven far more by politics and past scandal than a desire to afford the regulated community with consistent national application. Recently, this blog engaged in something of a back and forth with the public interest group CityEthics.org over realistic approaches to pay-to-play enforcement. Trenton, New Jersey’s City Hall and Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives now offer the most recent embodiment of these tensions.
Pay-to-play laws at the state and municipal levels are in a constant state of transition – a tendency which does not look to abate in 2011. We thought it might be helpful to categorize a few representative jurisdictions to highlight some recent trends.
Alabama Governor Bob Riley is leading the transition of Alabama from having “some of the weakest ethics and public corruption laws in the country to some of the strongest.”
The recent “pay-to-play” proposals in Newark, NJ have been criticized by some public officials for a rather novel reason: they can’t pick up the phone and call Oprah for a contribution like their popular Mayor, Corey Booker, can. While the proposed legislation in Newark is in its infancy and is likely to change, it appears to be aimed at limiting contributions from local redevelopment companies.
Pay-to-play law blog author Stefan Passantino, has recently co-authored the “Handbook on Corporate Political Activity: Emerging Corporate Governance Issues,” published by The Conference Board.
The Los Angeles City Council is expected to approve a recommendation to place a measure on the March 2011, Los Angeles municipal ballot banning bidders on LA contracts from making contributions or fundraising for City officials or candidates. The recommendation was made by a unanimous vote of the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission earlier this month. The Commission chose to enhance the bite of the proposed ban on bidder contributions by adding further recommended restrictions.
The House recently passed the “State Ethics Protection Act of 2010″ to avoid a growing concern that Federal Highway Administration procurement rules were in direct conflict with state-mandated pay-to-play laws. This can be viewed as a potential signal that Congress is getting closer to expanded pay-to-play regulation of its own.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie recently announced an ambitious proposal to overhaul New Jersey’s ethics regulations The proposals by Christie, who campaigned vigorously on ethics reform, also contain several new “pay-to-play” regulations. An announcement from the Governor’s office announced three proposals which would directly address New Jersey’s current “pay-to-play” regime.
On Tuesday, Alaska voters will weigh in on a ballot initiative designed to deter the appearance of corruption by prohibiting the holders of public works construction projects from making contributions to state candidates. The initiative has already been identified by the Alaska Attorney General as being of dubious constitutionality.
As if keeping up with Federal and State rules and regulations wasn’t challenging enough for corporations and others seeking to do business on a national platform, there has recently been an uptick in the implementation and enforcement of ethics and “pay-to-play” regulations at the municipal and county level.
In a much anticipated opinion, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has upheld significant portions of Connecticut’s pay-to-play law. Interestingly, while the Court upheld the state’s very strict prohibition against contractors from contributing to the campaigns of state candidates, it invalidated a similar provision as applied to state lobbyists.
Reacting to investigations that have followed the administration of former Governor Mike Easley, the North Carolina legislature recently passed a sweeping package of ethics reform.