VOTERS APPROVE CAMPAIGN FINANCE, LOBBYING AND ETHICS INITIATIVES THROUGHOUT U.S.
Voters across the nation were asked to weigh in at the ballot box on various measures concerning campaign finance, lobbying reform and governmental ethics issues. Initiatives at the state and local level appeared on ballots throughout the country with voters approving changes in at least eight jurisdictions.
On the campaign finance front, voters in Arizona approved Proposition 306, which updates the state’s public-financing program and bans the transfer of public funds from the Citizens Clean Elections Commission to other committees or parties and requires the Commission’s rules to now be approved by Governor’s Regulatory Review Council.
In the area of lobbying, voters also demanded stricter “revolving door” restrictions for public officials. Florida voters overwhelmingly approved Amendment 12, which enacts one of the toughest “cooling off” periods in the nation, barring former legislators and state-wide elected officials from lobbying for six years after leaving office. In San Diego, California, voters approved a measure that, in part, prohibits local elected officers from lobbying for two-years after leaving office.
A state that adopted extensive reforms covering campaign finance, lobbying and ethics is Missouri where voters approved Amendment 1. The measure includes significant changes to the state’s lobby and campaign finance law. Of note, legislators and legislative employees are now prohibited from accepting gifts from lobbyists in excess of $5 and are subject to a two-year cooling off period. Contribution limits were also impacted.
Finally, voters in a number of jurisdictions approved measures that will create independent bodies to monitor and enforce the political laws of their jurisdictions. Massachusetts approved the creation of a volunteer commission to research the impacts of political spending, the state’s ability to regulate corporations, and draft recommendations for constitutional amendments to be introduced to Congress. North Dakotans will have an independent ethics commission for the first time in the state’s history under Measure 1, which, in part, creates a five-member ethics commission. New Mexico also passed an initiative creating an independent seven-member commission tasked with investigating violations of ethical conduct by state officers and employees, candidates, lobbyists, government contractors, and others. At the local level, Long Beach, California voters approved the creation of a seven-member ethics commission that will enforce the laws concerning campaign finance, lobbying, conflicts of interest, and governmental ethics.
Interestingly, two states, Colorado and South Dakota, rejected campaign finance changes. The Colorado amendment would have quintupled individual campaign contribution limits in scenarios where a candidate contributes $1 million or more into his or her own campaign. The South Dakota measure would have instituted campaign contribution limitations.
In advance of the applicable effective dates of these changes, Politicom will be working with its clients to update their compliance programs to track with these changes throughout the country.
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