Challenges to gerrymandering outside the reach of the Supreme Court

In issuing its 5-4 opinion in Rucho et al. v. Common Cause et al., the Supreme Court has effectively withdrawn from partisan conflicts on gerrymandering playing out across the U.S. Justice Roberts in the majority opinion stated that the challengers “asked for an unprecedented expansion of judicial power” while Justice Kagan’s dissent stated that “the practices challenged in these cases imperil our system of government.” Read the decision here.

Election Law

Political contributions from prohibited sources

Under Federal Law, political contributions from prohibited sources must be disgorged by either refunding the contribution to the contributor or sending it to the U.S. Treasury within 30 days of the date the contribution is discovered. The Federal Elections Commission has released a new address for disgorged contributions:

Department of the Treasury

Bureau of the Fiscal Service

P.O. Box 1328

Parkersburg, WV 26106-1328

ATTN: Agency Cash Branch, Avery 3G

According to FEC guidance, a letter should accompany the disgorged contribution stating that “the funds represent potential violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act” and “request that the funds be placed in the Treasury’s ‘general fund account.’”

Campaign Finance

One vote claims victory for Athens County school district

The state-mandated recount of the Alexander Local School District's May levy vote confirms that the issue has passed by one vote, with 1,184 votes for and 1,183 votes against, reports the Athens News. This is the district's sixth vote on the 1% earned income tax levy. Administrators say that the new levy will keep the district from a $1.5 million budget deficit and fund operating expenses. Read the full story.

General News

Now available: 2019 contribution limits, campaign finance reporting and lobbyist reporting resource

With 2019 legislative sessions underway in both Columbus and Washington, D.C., state and federal lobbying and campaign finance regulators have issued new reporting calendars and contribution limits for the current biennium. Staying up to date on these limits and deadlines is important for anyone participating in the political process.

For our clients and friends, Bricker's Government Relations team has summarized the revised state and federal campaign contribution limits and campaign finance and lobbyist reporting calendars into a single reference guide. Download now >>

Campaign Finance, Ethics

Campaign contribution fraud ends with county executive’s indictment

A yearlong investigation involving the FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the IRS resulted in the indictment of Steve Stenger, St. Louis County Executive. According to prosecutors, Stenger and others defrauded citizens “through bribery and concealment of material information.” The investigation, which has been ongoing since 2014, revealed that Stenger solicited and accepted campaign contributions in return for “favorable official action.” These favors included awards to donors of county contracts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Stenger then lied in public statements in an attempt to cover up his crimes. He has forfeited his law license and could spend several years in prison. For more, read the full story.

Campaign Finance, Ethics, General News

Ohio Ethics Commission's education and training opportunities

The Ohio Ethics Commission’s educational outreach initiatives, including live seminars, webinars and online courses, are designed to help public officials and employees comply with the law. The offerings are popular and well-received. In 2018 nearly 55,000 people took advantage of training across all three platforms, and participants praised the clear instruction and engaging presenters.

The Ohio Ethics Commission is offering several options for ethics law training throughout 2019, including available onsite training, an e-course entitled “The Ohio Ethics Law: Good Government in Action,” a webinar offered monthly entitled “Overview of Ohio Ethics Law,” and six at-large regional live training sessions. The e-course is approved for 1.0 general CLE hour and the regional sessions are approved for 1.5 general CLE hours.

In addition, the Ohio Ethics Commission joins with the Ohio Board of Professional Conduct each year to offer a 2.5-hour professional conduct CLE course. Three sessions are available, two in Columbus and one in Richfield, Ohio. As of this post, seats are still available for the June 5 and October 10 sessions.

All courses and training sessions are free. Onsite trainings may have a minimum attendee requirement. Please contact Susan Willeke at susan.willeke@ethics.ohio.gov with any questions or to schedule a training.

 

Ethics, General News

Top five Ohio lobbying activities for 2018

In its 2018 Lobbying Statistics Report, the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee (JLEC) and the Office of the Legislative Inspector General uncover trends in how Ohio lobbyists spent their time throughout the year. Specifically, these five topics garnished the most attention from lobbyists, according to the report:

5. H.B. 114 – Overhaul of Ohio’s energy standards (116 instances)

4. S.B. 266 – Capital budget (141 instances)

3. H.B. 49 – Biennial budget (151 instances)

2. S.B. 293 – 30% rate cut proposal across state agencies (152 instances)

1. H.B. 529 – Capital budget (256 instances)  

The report also provides additional details regarding the more than 3,300 lobbyists and employers registered in Ohio, as well as data regarding specific expenditures. 

Campaign Finance

FEC details over $10 billion in political spending in the 2017-18 federal election cycle

The Federal Elections Commission (FEC) recently issued a summary of contributions and expenditures reported between January 1, 2017, and December 31, 2018. The FEC summarized reported money to and from political action committees (PACs), party committees, 2018 congressional candidates and 2020 presidential candidates, as well as independent expenditures and other reportable communications. The FEC statistics reveal that congressional candidates raised $2.8 billion and spent $2.7 billion during the two-year reporting period. Political parties raised $1.6 billion and spent $1.5 billion, and PACs outpaced all categories, raising $4.7 billion and spending $4.6 billion. Although it is still early, the 51 individuals who have already declared themselves as 2020 presidential candidates reported a total of $75.3 million in contributions and $63.1 million in expenditures as of December 31, 2018.  Reported independent expenditures totaled another $1.3 billion. 

Additional details within the summary include a comparison of congressional candidates’ financial activity from 2008-2018, the receipts for individual political parties, as well as a breakdown of political action committee figures by type.

Campaign Finance

Tidying up: Spring cleaning for your PAC

With a busy state election cycle behind us and a federal election cycle on the horizon, spring is an ideal time to give your Political Action Committee (PAC) a thorough cleaning. These checklist items should be part of your regular PAC maintenance. But if you haven’t asked yourself these questions in a while, now is an ideal time. Read more >>

Campaign Finance

Ohio Secretary of State pens letter calling for campaign finance transparency

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose recently drafted a Cleveland.com letter to the editor, outlining the secretary’s philosophy on the need for greater transparency in Ohio’s campaign finance system. Read more about his statements and his call for legislative change here.  

Campaign Finance
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