Posts Authored by Maria J. Armstrong

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 Actions 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

Sandusky, Ohio, deems Election Day a paid holiday for city employees

In an effort to show its dedication to diversity, the city of Sandusky, Ohio, will no longer recognize Columbus Day as a paid holiday. Instead, the city will give Election Day off to its over 200 government employees, according to The Washington Post. Eric Wobser, Sandusky’s city manager, hopes this decision will set an example for local private companies. The announcement occurs in the midst of a partisan debate over a bill that would make the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November a national holiday, an attempt to increase voter accessibility.

Campaign Finance, Election Law

FEC announces contribution limits for 2019–2020 elections

Announced February, 8, 2019, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) increased the individual contribution limit for the 2019–2020 election cycle to $2,800 per candidate. The Federal Election Campaign Act requires the FEC to adjust these limits every two years, based on inflation rates. The coordinated party expenditure limits and the lobbyist bundling threshold for 2019 have also been adjusted. All updated contribution limits are outlined in a chart prepared by the FEC.

Campaign Finance

Campaign funds can be used for cybersecurity-related expenses

Recently, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) issued advisory opinion 2018-15, allowing “members of Congress [to] use campaign funds for cybersecurity-related expenses for their personal electronic devices.” This newly-approved opinion permits members, and provides a funding source, to protect personal and private accounts and devices against potential hackers and cyberattacks.  

Campaign Finance

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

Fair season reminder: Reporting the value of passes

As fair season approaches, public officials must remember that accepting fair passes (for themselves or their immediate family) totaling in excess of $25 must be reported. Likewise, lobbyists must “track the value of any gifted tickets/passes” and be aware of the different levels of the passes or packages they give. While fair admissions are easy to overlook, this type of gift does count toward the $75 in gifts that a legislator or staff member may receive in a calendar year. Read more >>

Ethics

New FEC advisory opinion impacts state officeholders’ Super PACs

The Federal Elections Commission (FEC) recently issued a ruling that limits expenditures by certain Super PACs established, maintained and controlled by a state representative. South Carolina State Representative Nancy Mace asked the FEC if she could establish a Super PAC which, among other things, would pay for communications that promote or support clearly identified federal candidates. Rep. Mace proposed setting up the Super PAC by transferring the remaining funds from her federal campaign committee from a previous federal race. The Super PAC also intended to raise funds from individuals and corporations, without limitations. It was anticipated that the Super PAC would remain under Rep. Mace’s direct control. Read more >>

Campaign Finance

Facebook institutes new requirements for political ads

Last week, in the face of growing public scrutiny, Facebook adopted a series of new rules aimed at preventing abuses in political advertising. The new rules contain a requirement for disclosure of who paid for political ads found on both Facebook and Instagram.

As of May 24, 2018, Facebook and Instagram ads must display a “paid for” label at the top of each ad. The label must be linked to a page with information about the cost of the ad, as well as demographics about the individuals who viewed the ad. Advertisers wanting to run political content in the United States are now required to verify their identity and location.

A few days after the FaceBook announcement, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed lawsuits against Facebook and Google after receiving complaints that the companies have not maintained information about political advertisements placed on their web platforms as required by that state’s laws. In the state of Washington, campaign finance laws require all advertisers to collect, store and make publically available the information of those who purchase political advertising related to state and local campaigns. Required data includes the name of candidate or measure, advertising dates, name and address of the purchaser, total cost and who paid the bill.

While Ohio law does not contain a similar requirement to what is found in the state of Washington, Ohio does prohibit TV and print media outlets from running any political communication that does not contain the required disclaimer. Given increased usage of social media ad space for political purposes, an increase in state and national requirements for digital advertising is likely.

Campaign Finance
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