DeWine announces several new cabinet picks

Sworn in on January 14, Ohio's new Governor Mike DeWine recently announced several new appointees to his cabinet agencies. Appointees, who are still pending approval from the Ohio Senate, include:

  • Dorothy Pelanda – Department of Agriculture
  • Randy Gardner – Department of Higher Education
  • Jillian Froment – Department of Insurance
  • Kimberly Hall – Job and Family Services
  • Maureen Corcoran - Medicaid
  • Lori Criss – Mental Health & Addiction Services
  • Jack Marchbanks – Transportation
  • Jeffrey Davis – Developmental Disabilities
  • Stephanie McCloud – Workers Compensation
  • Ryan Gies – Youth Services
  • Ursel McElroy – Aging
  • Deborah Ashenhurst – Veteran Services
  • Laurie Stevenson – Ohio EPA

DeWine also named Andy Wilson as his senior advisor for criminal justice policy.

These individuals join several cabinet directors and senior staff appointed by DeWine in December 2018. An ongoing list of Governor’s Office staff appointees and cabinet agency director appointees is available here

General News

Are government shutdown freebies considered gifts?

During the limited federal government shutdown, many businesses responded by offering discounts and freebies to federal employees to help them cope during the difficult time. Our team often urges caution when government employees are involved with items or services that can be construed as gifts. So, we looked into this to ensure our clients were not inadvertently violating federal ethics guidelines and potentially making a bad situation worse.

Federal employees are normally limited to accepting gifts valued at $20 or less (and the total value of gifts from the same entity cannot exceed $50 in a calendar year). Gifts are broadly defined as anything of value. Here’s the great news: the federal ethical guidelines contain an important exception that discounts offered to all federal employees or to the general public are not considered gifts.

Ethics policies are extremely helpful in both the private and public sectors to keep employees (and their employers) away from compromising ethical situations. We all recognize the importance of the guidelines that detail what not to do. It’s equally important that these policies contain common sense exemptions for real life scenarios. We’d be happy to help create, review or revise your company’s ethics policies, if you need assistance.

General News

2018 lame duck summary and 2019 budget and legislative preview

With a new year comes a new General Assembly. Bills that the 132nd General Assembly did not pass will have to be reintroduced if legislators want to pursue those issues in the 133rd General Assembly. The DeWine-Husted administration will have until as late as March 15 to present the administration’s first draft of the FY 2020-21 Operating Budget to the General Assembly. However, we anticipate learning more about the new administration’s priorities in the near future. Read More >>

General News

2018 post-general election update

On Tuesday, November 6, 2018, Ohioans cast ballots in the 2018 general election. For the first time since 2006, five statewide elected offices were up for election without an incumbent running in the 2018 general election. Federal offices, including all Ohio U.S. Representatives seats and one U.S. Senate seat, two Ohio Supreme Court seats, all seats in the Ohio House of Representatives and 17 Ohio Senate seats were on the ballot. For your convenience, we have compiled an overview of the 2018 general election results and details on races of particular interest.

General News

FBI initiative releases video series addressing online campaign security

Protected Voices, an FBI initiative established to prevent cyber influence targeting U.S. elections, recently released informational videos designed to educate and raise awareness among political campaigns. The videos discuss a variety of trending topics, including secure communication channels, incident response and social engineering. For more information and to watch the videos, visit the Protected Voices website.  

Campaign Finance, Election Law, General News

Special election reporting deadlines

PACs, candidates and political parties that plan to make contributions to candidates running for the 12th Congressional District should be reminded of additional reporting requirements associated with this special election. A special primary election is scheduled for May 8, 2018, and a special general election is scheduled for August 7, 2018. 

Campaign finance deadlines for these special elections do not coincide precisely with the deadlines that apply to all other federal activity this year. The first filing date related to the special election is April 26, 2018, and includes special election contributions made between April 1, 2018, and April 18, 2018.

If your political committee is planning to make contributions associated with the 12th Congressional District Special Election, please keep these deadlines in mind and work closely with your analyst or reporting service to make sure your reports are timely. More information can be found on the Federal Election Commission website

Election Law, General News

Source of Trump’s settlement money raises campaign finance speculation

A government watchdog group, Common Cause, recently filed two complaints related to President Trump’s alleged affair with “Stormy Daniels,” an adult film star – one with the Department of Justice and one with the Federal Elections Commission. The group claims that because an LLC set up by Trump’s lawyer paid $130,000 in settlement money to Daniels prior to the election, the money should be classified as a contribution “used for the purpose of influencing the election.” If the settlement is determined to be a contribution, it would vastly surpass existing campaign finance limits. However, wrongdoing may be difficult to prove. 

Campaign Finance, General News

U.S. Court of Appeals upholds per-election contribution limits

In Holmes v. FEC, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit unanimously rejected an argument that the Federal Election Campaign Act’s (FECA) base limits on individual contributions to candidates violated First Amendment rights. Plaintiffs Laura Holmes and Paul Jost argued that the federal law’s per-election contribution limits are unconstitutional, because the law allows individuals to contribute $2,600 to a candidate in both the primary and general elections but prohibits an individual to contribute $5,200 to a candidate in only the general election. The D.C. Circuit sitting en banc, per Judge Srinivasan, disagreed with the plaintiffs and cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976), which rejected a constitutional challenge to per-election contribution limits. Judge Srinivasan noted that the Court “explained that, as long as a contribution limit is not so low as to prevent candidates from mounting effective campaigns, the judiciary would generally defer to Congress’s determination of the limit’s precise amount.” The D.C. Circuit used this logic to uphold Congress’s choice of the timeframe in which particular amounts of money may be contributed.

Campaign Finance, General News

Columbus citizen group seeks overhaul of city election process

Local citizen group Everyday People for Positive Change has collected enough signatures to put a proposed charter amendment on the May 2018 ballot. The initiative seeks to create a ward-based city council election process and, additionally, limit campaign contributions to city candidates. A similar petition was brought by the group in 2016 and was handily defeated in the special election. Despite reorganizing and addressing some of the initial concerns of its petition, the group may face additional challenges related to the city’s “single subject requirement.” City attorney Zack Klein will deliberate the petition, and city council will ultimately decide if the proposal is allowed on the ballot. 

Campaign Finance, Election Law, General News

Citizen-initiated charter amendment results in costly penalty for city

Most public officials, especially those at the local level, hold private employment, own businesses and have family in the community. This can make avoiding conflicts of interest a challenge. Withdrawing from a vote can leave a public entity at a standstill if multiple officials have conflicts and must withdraw. But there is another possible solution that is recognized by the Ohio Elections Commission. Read more >>

General News
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