NY Gov Pushing Legislative Ethics Reforms in Return for Raise

New York Times (12/8): “Among other things, the governor has told leaders of the State Senate and Assembly that he would like new restrictions on legislators’ personal use of their campaign funds and on the $172-per-day stipends they receive when they are in Albany. Mr. Cuomo is proposing that lawmakers be required to submit supporting documents for many expenses, particularly on days when the Legislature is not in session.

“The governor’s office has also proposed increasing the number of legislators who can be stripped of their pensions. An ethics bill passed in 2011 made the pensions of officials convicted of public corruption subject to forfeiture, but excluded lawmakers already in office. Mr. Cuomo would like to include them. This change would require a constitutional amendment, which must be approved by two successive Legislatures and then by referendum.

“Mr. Cuomo has even floated a proposal that would require the Legislature to subject itself to broader disclosure under the state’s Freedom of Information Law, much like what the law now requires of the executive branch.”


MA Legislative Taskforce Considers Requiring Disclosure from Nonprofits

Gloucester Times: “Government watchdogs want the state to force nonprofits that raise and spend money in political campaigns to disclose the sources of their cash..

“The proposal is one of several being considered by a task force that is reviewing campaign finance laws amid concerns about so-called ‘dark money’ hidden from public view.

“’It’s a significant problem, both at the federal and state level, that organizations whose real purpose is to make electioneering communications do not have to disclose their donors,’ said Pam Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause of Massachusetts and member of the task force created by the Legislature. ‘These expenditures should be disclosed to the public.’

“The nonprofit organizations — many of which are designated as 501 (c)(4) groups — don’t pay state or federal taxes. They collectively have spent more than $8 million in Massachusetts since the 2010 elections on ‘voter education,’ according to the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance.”

UT Committee Declines to Endorse Bill to Impose First Campaign Finance Limits

Utah Political Capitol: “In September, lawmakers on the Government Operations Interim Committee effectively punted on taking action on the issue of campaign contribution limits. On Wednesday, the chickens came home to roost during the final meeting of the committee prior to the start of the 2015 legislative session.”

“Representative Brian “King’s proposed legislation was refined from September’s meeting to reduce fears and clarify that campaign finance limits would be adjusted for inflation, prevent aggregate limits (as allowed after the recent FEC v. McCutcheon case), and self-funded campaigns would still be allowed under the proposed legislation.”

“Senator Scott Jenkins (Republican – Plain City) has consistently fought King on such legislation, and Wednesday was no different.

“During a close roll call vote, King’s bill would ultimately fail to get the blessing of the committee. Due to committee rules, the recommendation has to have the support of a majority of the House member and a majority of Senate members. King’s bill received the approval of House members, however a majority was not had from the senators sitting on the committee.”

“King can still run the proposed legislation during the 2015 session, however it will not have the stamp of approval from the committee, making its passage more difficult.”