National Law Review: “The New Year brings with it new laws governing campaign finance, lobbying, and ethics. Below we highlight some of the major state and federal laws that took effect on or around January 1. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list, but highlights some of the most significant changes that are new for 2015. In addition to the new laws outlined below, many state legislative sessions are starting up. Some states prohibit campaign finance activity during the session, so proceed with caution.”
Sedalia News Journal (1/5): “Secretary of State Jason Kander today announced legislation to overhaul Missouri’s worst-in-the-nation ethics, lobbying and campaign finance laws. The comprehensive approach is contained in a series of bills filed on Kander’s behalf by Representatives Kevin McManus (D-Kansas City), Randy Dunn (D-Kansas City), Tracy McCreery (D-Olivette) and Jon Carpenter (D-Gladstone).
“Provisions in the bills include campaign contribution limits, a ban on lobbyist gifts to elected officials and their staff, improvements in transparency, mandatory ethics training for state officials, an end to the legislator-to-lobbyist revolving door, whistleblower protections for individuals reporting wrongdoing and stiffer criminal penalties for obstructing ethics investigations.”
“Current Missouri law allows politicians to accept both unlimited campaign contributions and unlimited lobbyist gifts. Kander’s plan would prohibit politicians from collecting six-figure donations and free sports tickets. It would also put an end to the political money laundering practice of a campaign receiving contributions from a political action committee that is funded primarily by one person who has already reached his or her contribution limit by creating the presumption that a law has been broken. It places the burden on the politician to prove otherwise.
Washington Post The Switch: Worth a full read
“My reaction the day after the election was similar to Larry Lessig’s, which was: “Okay, we see the election returns. Mayday didn’t defy all the laws of political physics and make a handful of races move in the opposite direction from the rest of the country.” But the real question is what happens when you dig into the numbers underneath that. And it seems like they did move a bunch of voters.
“Reading the data they’ve generated since the election, we know that in all the targeted races, there was a double-digit percentage of voters who said that money in politics was their top voting issue, and those people were significantly more likely to vote for Mayday’s endorsed candidate.
“The other thing is New Hampshire, where they poured several million dollars into the primary, Scott Brown, six weeks after the primary, was still viewed as a lobbyist and bad on money and politics by significant, a really big chunk of the electorate.
“I don’t think Mayday has claimed victory in the New Hampshire general election race — they didn’t do any expenditures in the general — but it seems like they played a role in Scott Brown being defeated in a state where it could have gone the other direction.”
Plans for the future:
“Mayday’s laying its plans right now, and there are a couple of avenues for that. There’s this army of people — almost 70,000 people now — who donated to Mayday in the last round. And they want to basically work with that group to turn them into citizen lobbyists and storm all these members of Congress and ask them to sign on.
“The second thing is, one of the big lessons Larry drew from this cycle is that partisanship trumps almost everything else. So if you’re a Republican, you’re not going to vote for a Democrat because of your concern about a particular issue, and vice versa. There are almost no Democrats who would vote for a Republican simply because the Democrat is bad on campaign finance. What does that tell you? That tells you you should work in primaries. There are lots of primaries where this is potentially a dividing line.”
BradBlog: A report [PDF] by researchers at Harvard and the University of Sydney finds the U.S. ranks just 26th on a global index of election integrity. That finding places the U.S. in the category of nations with “Moderate” election integrity, ranking the country one notch above Mexico and one notch below Micronesia, according to the findings tracking elections in 66 countries.
“Further analysis of the data showed that experts reduced the overall score for the United States due to concern about the quality of their electoral laws, voter registration, the process of drawing district boundaries, as well as regulation of campaign finance,’ the study notes.”
“The report concludes that ‘The regulation of money in politics deserves greater attention by domestic actors and the international community when seeking to reduce corruption, the abuse of state resources, and vote-buying, to strengthen public confidence in elections, and to ensure a level playing field for all parties and candidates.'”