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FEC Increases Contribution Limits to Party Committees, Leaves Candidate Limits the Same

The Federal Election Commission has announced contribution limits for the 2017-2018 election cycle.  The new limits are effective January 1, 2017. The FEC did not change the limit on the amount an individual can contribution to a candidate, leaving the limit at $2700 per election.  Because the primary and general count as separate elections, individuals may … Continue Reading

New Executive Branch Ethics Rules on Gifts and Procedures for New Hires, Appointees, and the Presidential Transition

The start of 2017 brings two changes to the federal Office of Government Ethics (“OGE”) rules for executive branch officers and employees. First, important changes to the executive branch gift rules went into effect this week.  We detailed those changes in this alert. Second, OGE’s overhaul of the Executive Branch Ethics Program regulations (5 C.F.R. … Continue Reading

Presidential Appointees Can Take Advantage of 2014 OGE Guidance on Hedge Funds

 As the President-elect begins to nominate individuals for Senate-confirmed positions in his administration, one of the major hurdles these individuals face is the statutory requirement that the Director of the Office of Government Ethics (“OGE”) review and certify a public disclosure of each source of income exceeding $200 and each property interest exceeding $1,000 in … Continue Reading

Guidelines for Interacting with President-Elect Trump’s Transition Team

Over the next nine weeks, the Trump Presidential Transition team will formulate policy and staffing recommendations for the new administration. This alert gives a broad overview of the Transition and the laws that regulate interactions with Transition team members on issues related to appointments and policy recommendations. Persons interested in this topic may also wish … Continue Reading

Federal Court in D.C. Rules Against FEC in Important Disclosure Case

In an important decision, U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper today ordered the Federal Election Commission to reconsider its dismissal of a complaint filed by CREW against two tax-exempt advocacy organizations that have never registered with the FEC. CREW alleged that the two groups, American Action Network and Americans for Job Security, had as their “major … Continue Reading

Have We Reached A FARA “Tipping Point”?

The New York Times, earlier this month, reported that “secret ledgers” in Ukraine show $12.7 million in cash payments designated for former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort from Ukraine’s pro-Russian political party. Days later, the Associated Press reported that Manafort helped the pro-Russian party “secretly route at least $2.2 million in payments to two prominent Washington lobbying … Continue Reading

China Releases Draft Implementing Regulations for Consumer Rights Protection Law

Against the backdrop of a long string of product safety scandals that have eroded public trust, and a desire to transition China’s economy from an export-driven model to a consumption-driven model, the Chinese government continues to enhance its legal framework for the protection of consumer rights. On August 5, China’s State Administration of Industry and … Continue Reading

House Clerk’s Office Apparently Sends Out Late Lobbyist Report Notices In Error

Yesterday afternoon, the House Clerk’s Office sent out emails to a number of registered federal lobbyists and lobbyist organizations alerting them to a missing 2016 Mid-Year LD-203 contribution report (due on August 1, 2016).  It appears that this email was sent in error to a batch of registrants who properly filed their reports on time.  … Continue Reading

IRS Steps into Fray on Political Activities

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently issued two private letter rulings (PLRs) that may be interesting for tax-exempt organizations that engage in political activity. In the first ruling, the IRS held that a company could not deduct payments made to charity under a PAC matching contribution program as an “ordinary and necessary business expense.”  While … Continue Reading

501(c)(4) Social Welfare Organizations Must Provide Notice to the IRS

In December 2015, we informed readers of the new requirement for 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations to notify the IRS upon formation. Enforcement of the requirement was delayed until the IRS was able to issue an appropriate form. The IRS recently announced that 501(c)(4) organizations may now register on the IRS website.  We respond to common … Continue Reading

The Supreme Court Redraws the Lines for Corruption Prosecutions

The Ferrari carrying former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell appears to have made a U-turn this week on its way to the federal penitentiary.  Covington released today a Client Alert on the Supreme Court’s decision in McDonnell v. United States, a decision which vacated Governor McDonnell’s conviction and redraws the lines for corruption prosecutions.   The Court held a public … Continue Reading

Federal Aviation Administration Finalizes Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule

On Tuesday, June 21, 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) finalized its long-awaited rule on the commercial use of small unmanned aircraft systems (“UAS” or “drones”).  The rule is significant because it provides a comprehensive and generally applicable set of rules for anyone wishing to operate a small drone for commercial purposes. Before the adoption … Continue Reading

Forming and Operating Super PACs: A Practical Guide for Political Consultants in 2016

Covington recently released a high-level primer that provides political consultants with a practical resource for creating and running a federal Super PAC in a legally compliant manner.  The primer, which is available here, explains the history and basic rules that apply to federal Super PACs.  The primer then discusses the following key topics: checklist of … Continue Reading

New Overtime Rules May Spell Trouble For Some Corporate PACs

The Obama Administration’s publication yesterday of a regulation increasing the universe of employees entitled to overtime pay might reduce the number of employees from whom corporate PACs can seek contributions. The new regulations, which take effect on December 1, 2016, increase the salary level below which certain employees are entitled to overtime pay. Currently, salaried … Continue Reading

Annual GAO Report on Federal Lobbying Compliance Shows Mixed Enforcement Bag: Fewer Audits, More and Larger Enforcement Penalties

On Friday, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued its ninth annual report on compliance with the federal Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA), covering from mid-2014 through mid-2015.  As in the past, the report is based on random audits of lobbyists’ filings and analysis of enforcement by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.  We … Continue Reading

Pay To Play With New Jersey

New Jersey is well-known for having strict, comprehensive, and complex pay-to-play laws.  Two new changes to an annual pay-to-play filing required of some government contractors will only enhance that reputation.State law requires a company that receives $50,000 annually through government contracts in New Jersey to file a report by March 30 of the following year … Continue Reading

MSRB Pay-to-Play Rule Expanded, Opening Door to Enforcement

On Wednesday, the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) announced that its expanded pay-to-play rules will cover municipal advisors, including third-party solicitors, as of August 17, 2016. As we noted previously and discussed during Covington’s Corporate Political Activity & Government Affairs Compliance Conference earlier this month, the MSRB has been drafting an expansion to its pay-to-play … Continue Reading

California Regulation, Proposed Statute Add to State’s Reputation for Complex, Detailed Disclosure

California is already home to some of the most complicated and searching political regulations in the country, especially in its efforts to expose “dark money” and other undisclosed political spending.  A newly-amended lobbying regulation and proposed campaign finance law will enhance that reputation.  The practical effect of each is to invite deeper scrutiny of not … Continue Reading

Looking Forward After the FAA’s Drone Registration Regulation

On December 14, 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration issued a significant regulation that requires all owners of small unmanned aircraft systems – between 0.55 and 55 pounds – to register with the agency. News outlets have good summaries of the rules, so we only recap them here. An individual who owns a drone before December … Continue Reading

Will President Obama’s New Overtime Regulations Shrink Corporate Restricted Classes?

Corporate PAC managers may soon find that the universe of employees who receive corporate PAC solicitations has unexpectedly shrunk.  In July 2015, the Department of Labor proposed new regulations that would dramatically increase the number of workers entitled to overtime wages.  The Department of Labor estimates that, under the new regulations, approximately 5 million new … Continue Reading

California Penalizes Campaign, Committee for Coordination Violation

As Super PACs and campaigns continue to edge closer to the legal line between “independence” and “coordination,” it has become common to hear calls for the FEC to take a stricter role in enforcing the law. Yet as recently reported by BNA, the FEC has not found a single violation of its coordination rules in … Continue Reading

Lock Down of Nuclear Site: False Alarm, with a Lesson Learned

Last week the Savannah River Site (“SRS”) in South Carolina, a large nuclear facility owned by the U.S. Department of Energy (“DOE”), went into a lock down after electronic and canine scans of a commercial delivery truck attempting to enter the facility indicated possible explosive residue on the vehicle.  Fortunately, the lock down was lifted … Continue Reading

Lobbyists Can Now Sit on Some Federal Advisory Committees: Here’s How to Find Out Where

In a significant reversal by the Obama administration, lobbyists will now be permitted to serve on federal advisory committees, boards, and commissions after more than four years of sitting on the advisory committee sidelines. In guidance published in the Federal Register today, the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) quietly revised, in large part, the … Continue Reading
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