Summary of New Campaign Finance, Ethics & Lobbying Laws Nationwide

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.”

Good Overview on Disclosure, Way Forward

Mint Press News: “But it’s not just disclosure exemptions and cleverly promoted television ads that have prompted public concern. Since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010, the unlimited contribution and outside spending amounts have prompted various advocacy groups and legislators to push for remodeling campaign finance and disclosure policies in their states.

“‘Most do not have great disclosure laws or conflict of interest laws,’ Mansur Gidfar, communications director for anti-corruption group Represent.Us, told MintPress. ‘In a lot of cases, every situation around the laws that govern how money interacts with the political process is actually a lot worse at the state level than it is at the federal level.'”

“‘Under current law, regardless of how biased the endless amounts of political ads are in support of or are against a specific candidate, the source of funding for an ad does not have to be disclosed if the ad does not explicitly use the phrases ‘vote for’ or ‘vote against.’

“‘You can spend an unlimited amount of money sending out mail in a legislator’s district saying that Legislator X … has done a terrible job for you,’ [Minnesota state Rep Ryan] Winkler told MintPress.

“But despite any insinuations, the nonprofit organizations can claim their ads are educating voters on an issue, not politicking, as long as they don’t employ those ‘magic’ words.”

Senators to Push for Requiring Electronic Disclosure

Politico: “”Unlike House candidates, presidential hopefuls and political action committees, Senate candidates are not required to electronically file their campaign finance reports. The result: Reporters, campaign finance experts and everyone else must manually scroll through Sen. Mary Landrieu’s latest pre-runoff fundraising report, which clocks in at nearly 1,300 pages and is not searchable.”

IL Becomes Third State to Call for Constitutional Convention on Money in Politics

Rockriver Times: “On Wednesday, Illinois became the third state in the U.S. to pass a bill calling for a constitutional convention to overhaul campaign finance laws, specifically, those established with the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision.

“The Illinois House of Representatives voted 74-40 (with six not reporting) in favor of Senate Joint Resolution 42 (SJR 42) Dec. 3.”

“With SJR 42’s passage, Illinois joins California and Vermont as states calling for a constitutional convention under Article V of the U.S. Constitution for the purpose of amending the Constitution. Similar measures are also pending in Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Texas.”

US Senator Propose Requiring Outside Groups to Respect Do Not Call Registry

The Hill: Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska)’s legislation, titled The Do Not Disturb Act, would also keep people on the list from receiving robocalls and “push polls,” which are surveys that attempt to get a desired result with leading questions.”

“I heard from Alaskans all across the state during the campaign, and enough is enough. My bill will allow individuals to opt out of receiving these sorts of pestering phone calls from super-PACs and similar groups,’ he added.'”