Pennsylvania Supreme Court Upholds Campaign Finance Law

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently issued a decision which upholds the constitutionality of Philadelphia’s Campaign Finance Law. The law had been challenged by local officials who alleged that the Philadelphia campaign finance law was preempted by the State’s election law. In a 5-2 decision written by Justice Baer, the Court held that the mere enactment of legislation in the field was insufficient to find preemptive intent on the part of the State Legislature. Accordingly, Philadelphia was free to enact its own limits.

Philadelphia’s campaign finance law limits contributions to $2,500 per year from individuals. Additionally, the City’s pay-to-play laws prohibit the awarding of non-competitively bid contracts to those individuals who contribute more than $2,500 per year.

NYC Campaign Finance Board Certifies First Phase of “Doing Business” Database

At a meeting held yesterday, the Campaign Finance Board announced its certification of the first phase of the “doing business” database.

Pursuant to Local Law 34 passed in July 2007, city candidates are restricted from accepting contributions from persons deemed to be “doing business” with the city. The restricted contribution limits take effect 30 days after each phase of certification; thus restricted limits apply to those included in this phase of the database on February 2, 2008. The certified component of the database contains information about entities and individuals holding City contracts, franchises, and concessions, as well as registered City lobbyists.

The CFB’s full report can be found here.

COIB Advisory Opinion: Invitations to Events Sponsored by Not-for-Profit Organizations that are NYC Lobbyists

When a not-for-profit organization sponsors an event, may it invite New York City officials and employees? In a recent advisory opinion, the NYC Conflicts of Interest Board (COIB) addressed how the local law prohibiting gifts by City lobbyists affects these invitations. Continue reading

GBV Submits Testimony to City Council Committee

The New York City Council Committee on Governmental Operations is considering legislation to make technical amendments to the campaign finance legislation adopted this past summer. Among other changes, Intro. No. 651 would:

  • Ensure that the contribution limits that apply to persons doing business with the city encompass both the primary and general elections.
  • Clarify an exemption from the doing business restrictions for affordable housing developers.
  • Delay the application of the doing business contribution limits on those who act in a “senior managerial capacity” until July 2008.
  • Create an emergency exception for the doing business restrictions.
  • Confirm that the new 6:1 matching rate applies to all contributions raised for future elections.

The Committee held a hearing on December 6, 2007 at which the Executive Director of the Campaign Finance Board and the City’s Chief Procurement Officer testified.

Genova, Burns & Vernoia submitted testimony today, addressing several issues, including the fundraising threshold for public funds qualification and the spending limit exemption for expenses related to Campaign Finance Board audits.

PAC Compliance: Internal Controls

It is essential that political committees take steps to protect their assets from misappropriation and errors that lead to misreporting. Earlier this year the Federal Election Commission issued a policy statement creating a Safe Harbor for Misreporting Due to Embezzlement and also more general guidance on internal controls. Continue reading

Breaking News: ELEC Extends Non-Profit Disclosure Deadline

At a special meeting held today, ELEC voted to extend the reporting deadline for non-profit entities to January 15, 2008.

ELEC had received a letter from an attorney representing the NJ Senate, asking that the November 30, 2007 deadline be extended while the Legislature reviewed legislation to exempt non-profits from disclosure.  At the special meeting today, ELEC granted the request.

ELEC also announced that non-profit organizations that have already submitted their Chapter 271 disclosure forms may withdraw them by submitting a written request to ELEC.

FEC Approves Rulemaking

The FEC has approved a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking implementing section 204 of the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007.

The proposed rules would require candidate committees, leadership PACs, and political parties to report two or more contributions totaling $15,000 or more in a covered period which were “bundled” by lobbyists, lobbyist entities or political committees established or controlled by same.

Comments are due by November 30, 2007.

Breaking News: ELEC Maintains Chapter 271’s Applicability to Non-Profits

At a meeting today, the NJ Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) voted to require non-profit entities to make the annual disclosure pursuant to Chapter 271. As previously discussed on this blog, here and here, the State Treasurer and Department of Community Affairs had requested an opinion from the Attorney General as to the applicability of the law to non-profits. According to those at the meeting, ELEC characterized the Attorney General’s opinion as “not definitive.”

ELEC extended the filing deadline for nonprofit entities to November 30, 2007. The vote was 2-1 in favor of keeping nonprofits in the disclosure law and for extending the deadline.

UPDATE: Here is the Attorney General’s opinion.

Perception Trumps Reality: 2006 Business Entity Annual Disclosure Statements To Become Public on October 10

In little less than a week, the 2006 Business Entity Annual Disclosure Statements filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) for calendar year 2006 will become public. The disclosures are expected to be available for public inspection on ELEC’s website (www.elec.state.nj.us) on Wednesday, October 10, 2007 at 10:00 am. Continue reading

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