RECENT LOBBYING, ETHICS & CAMPAIGN FINANCE UPDATES

We read the news, cut through the noise and provide you the notes.

Welcome to Compliance Notes from Nossaman’s Government Relations & Regulation Group – a periodic digest of the headlines, statutory and regulatory changes and court cases involving campaign finance, lobbying compliance, election law and government ethics issues at the federal, state and local level.

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Campaign Finance & Lobbying Compliance

Colorado: Denver’s new fair election fund faced its first test in local races as the first round of approved payments were disbursed on August 15. Voters authorized the fair election fund in 2018, which provides public financing for candidates who agree to abide by lower contribution limits and other rules. Despite the Denver Elections Division’s careful accounting, there are legitimate concerns that the $8 million that voters authorized in 2018 is insufficient to pay out all the candidates who qualify for the public matching program. If funding runs out, the participating campaigns would not be bound by the lower contribution limits, or the Elections Division could request more money from City Council to bridge the gap. (Joe Rubino, The Denver Post)

Pennsylvania: The City of Philadelphia Board of Ethics is seeking to expand the city’s definition of coordinated expenditures to include practices commonly known as “signaling” or “red-boxing,” where campaigns publish messaging and signal to supportive super PACS materials that they should use in their ads. The Board will discuss Proposed Regulation 1.33 during their August 17 Public Hearing. (Regulation No. 1 (Campaign Finance))

Government Ethics & Transparency

Colorado: Democratic State Senator Pete Lee was indicted for voting outside the district where he resides during the 2020 presidential primary. The indictment alleges that Sen. Lee, the chair of the senate’s judicial committee, voted by giving false information about his place of residence. The charge carries a possible penalty of one to three years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. (CBS News Colorado)

Elections & Voting

Alabama: Amidst growing concerns about possible crossover voting, the Alabama Republican Party approved a resolution supporting a party registration requirement for primaries, also known as a closed primary. Passing this resolution only signals support for closed primaries since the state legislature must enact legislation to change the registration requirement. Currently, Alabama is one of 15 states that does not ask voters to register with a political party before voting in the primary. (Kim Chandler, AP News and Alabama News Network)

Kansas: After the decisive statewide vote rejecting an amendment to eliminate the right to an abortion from the state’s constitution, Kansas’ elections director said the state would honor a request to recount all 922,000 ballots by hand so long as the woman requesting the recount covers the cost. The recount, which would be the first recount of the votes on a statewide ballot question in at least 30 years, likely won’t change the outcome as Kansas voters rejected the amendment by roughly 165,000 votes. (Herb Scribner, Axios and John Hanna, AP News)

Montana: In a trial challenging the constitutionality of Montana’s voting laws, lawyers argued that the 2021 legislation ending Election Day voter registration and banning the paid collection of voted ballots put unreasonable barriers on Native Americans who already face other economic and logistical obstacles. The trial also challenges the law requiring college students to show additional proof of residency besides student IDs when registering to vote. The state argued that the new laws place a minimal burden on voters and are necessary to prevent election fraud and uphold voter confidence in elections. (Amy Beth Hanson, AP News)