Tag Archives: Campaign finance

“Hochul vetoes controversial campaign finance changes”

Times Union:

Gov. Kathy Hochul vetoed legislation that would have widened the net of eligible campaign contributions for matching public funds under a new system that is being rolled out in the 2024 elections…. 

“Signing this bill would effectively reduce the impact of small donors on elections,” Hochul wrote in a veto memo on Wednesday. The legislation is in “direct contravention of the purpose” of the public campaign finance program, she added.  

The bill would have allowed for the first $250 of any contribution to a campaign in an election cycle to be matched by state funding. Currently, the program only allows matching donations for contributors who gave no more than $250 in a cycle. The amended version would have allowed larger contributions from deep-pocketed donors to receive a taxpayer-funded boost. 

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“Appeals court wipes conviction for ex-congressman”

The 9th Circuit’s opinion.

The Hill

A federal appeals court panel wiped ex-Rep. Jeff Fortenberry’s (R-Neb.) conviction of lying to the FBI about an illegal campaign contribution, ruling Tuesday that he was not tried in the proper venue.

Last year, a jury sitting in Los Angeles convicted Fortenberry for false statements he made during interviews in Nebraska and the nation’s capital.

He resigned from his seat in Congress and was sentenced to two years of probation, a $25,000 fine and 320 hours of community service. Tuesday’s decision reverses that sentence, although Fortenberry could still be retried.

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“Federal judge suspends new Minnesota campaign finance law set to take effect Jan. 1”

From the Minnesota Reformer:

A federal judge halted a campaign finance law that aimed to curtail political contributions from corporations with at least some degree of foreign ownership. 

U.S. District Court Judge Eric Tostrud issued a preliminary injunction Wednesday, days before the law was to go into effect on Jan. 1. The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce sued Ramsey County Attorney John Choi and the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board, arguing that the new law violates the free speech rights of corporations. 

The law passed by the Minnesota Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Tim Walz says companies with a single foreign investor who holds 1% or more of shares — or companies that have multiple foreign investors who own 5% or more of shares — may not make donations to be used in Minnesota elections. Companies that violate the law could be criminally or civilly penalized. 

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“NYCCFB Appoints Paul S. Ryan as Agency’s New Executive Director”

Congrats to Paul Seamus Ryan!

From the NYC Campaign Finance Board:

December 20, 2023 – The New York City Campaign Finance Board is pleased to announce the appointment of Paul Seamus Ryan as the next Executive Director of the agency. 

Mr. Ryan is currently the Deputy Executive Director of the Funders’ Committee for Civic Participation, and is nationally recognized as a leading voice in the areas of campaign finance and democratic participation. He previously served as the Vice President for Policy and Litigation for Common Cause and as the Deputy Executive Director of the Campaign Legal Center. 

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“Portland’s campaign finance program scales back ahead of 2024 election”

Oregon Public Broadcasting:

Portland’s campaign financing program doesn’t have enough money to operate at full capacity ahead of a historic election year. For some candidates, this means losing hundreds of thousands of anticipated dollars to run their 2024 campaigns.

The city’s Small Donor Election program works to help candidates who lack wealthy donors by rewarding those who pledge to only accept individual campaign donations under $350. The city matches the first $20 of all individual donations made to participating candidates 9-to-1, effectively turning a $20 donation into $180. . . . 

Under the program, candidates who received donations from at least 250 Portlanders could receive up to $100,000 in matching funds, those who collect 750 donations could collect up to $200,000, and those with more than 1,250 donations would be limited to $300,000 in matching city dollars. A mayoral candidate can rake in up to $750,000 in matched contributions.

But, due to a lack of money in the city’s general fund, those caps will shrink. According to an analysis by the Portland Elections Commission, those funds could drop by 60% at the start of 2024. That means candidates who counted on bolstering their budgets with $300,000 of city dollars will only be about to count on $120,000.

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“DeSantis Faces F.E.C. Complaint Over His Campaign’s Ties With Super PAC”


A campaign watchdog group filed a complaint on Monday with the Federal Election Commission against the campaign of Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida and a super PAC backing his presidential bid, accusing them of a “textbook example” of illegal campaign coordination.

In its complaint, the Campaign Legal Center argued that the super PAC, Never Back Down, had effectively served as Mr. DeSantis’s campaign, detailing work it has done like providing private air travel, bankrolling a costly ground game in early nominating states, providing debate strategies and hosting events on the road. In turn, Mr. DeSantis and his wife, the group says, provided guidance about messaging to Never Back Down.

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Five law profs file amicus in bribery/Hobbs Act case

The full brief, which was filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, is on SSRN:

This brief—filed by five law professors as amici curiae in United States v. Sittenfeld, No. 23-3840 (6th Cir.)—argues that the “clear and unambiguous” test supplies the appropriate standard for determining whether an alleged quid pro quo involving an otherwise-legal campaign contribution satisfies the explicitness requirement under McCormick v. United States, 500 U.S. 257 (1991).

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“Crypto titans launch 2024 election play with $78M super PAC spend”


A trio of super PACs backed by cryptocurrency executives and investors said Monday that they’ve raised $78 million as part of a major new push to influence the 2024 elections.
The campaign, which has support from venture capital giant Andreessen Horowitz, U.S. crypto exchange Coinbase and Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, marks of a revival of the digital asset industry’s political operations, following the downfall of crypto megadonor Sam Bankman-Fried.

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The Buckley of Buckley v. Valeo Dies

Washington Post obituary.

“In political circles, Mr. Buckley was perhaps best remembered as the lead plaintiff in a landmark campaign finance lawsuit — Buckley v. Valeo — that in 1976 unraveled part of the post-Watergate regulation of political money. That ruling set the basis for a chain of court decisions, including Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission in 2010, that embraced the concept that money is equal to speech.

“Trevor Potter, a former FEC commissioner and campaign finance reform advocate, has called the Buckley decision ‘the key case in this area in our lifetimes’ because it permitted unlimited independent political spending.

Mr. Buckley’s role in the case stemmed from his successful third-party campaign for a Senate seat, and his belief that proposed spending and contribution limits would ‘squeeze out the ability of challengers to come in and confront the political establishment.’”

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“DeSantis Allies Reveal Debate Strategy”

N.Y. Times. Is there a campaign finance law angle here, given coordination rules? From the article:

“The New York Times was alerted to the existence of the documents by a person not connected to the DeSantis campaign or the super PAC. After The Times reached out to Never Back Down for comment on Thursday, the group removed from the website a key memo summarizing the suggested strategy for the debate.

“Super PACs are barred by law from strategizing in private with political campaigns. To avoid running afoul of those rules, it is not unusual for the outside groups to post polling documents in the open, albeit in an obscure corner of the internet where insiders know to look.

“Posting such documents online is risky — the news media or rivals can discover them, and the advice can prove embarrassing. But super PACs often decide the risk is justified to convey what they consider crucial nonpublic information to the candidate without violating the law.

“But it is unusual, as appears to be the case, for a super PAC, or a consulting firm working for it, to post documents on its own website — and in such expansive detail, down to the exact estimate of turnout in the Iowa caucuses (“now 216,561”), and including one New Hampshire poll with more than 400 pages of detailed findings.”

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“2021 CPA-Zicklin Index Finds Companies Tightening Oversight of Political Spending”

Center for Political Accountability and the Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research, The Wharton School.

The report finds that U.S. companies are adapting to hyper-polarization and the threats to democracy by expanding board oversight of potentially controversial political spending. The report champions voluntary disclosure practices, while acknowledging the prospect that Congress may soon eliminate the rider that has barred the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission from considering a rule mandating disclosure of political spending
by public companies.

“There is a documented history of significant progress toward disclosure and accountability that, over the course of a decade, could not be accomplished with the formalities of laws and regulation.”

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