Connecticut Campaign Funding System in Peril

A very complicated case from Connecticut may have implications for federal campaign finance law. An appeals court upheld restrictions on campaign contributions from government contractors, threw out part of the state's public campaign financing law, and struck down a ban on lobbyist contributions. According to BNA Money and Politics ($$), "the decision by a three-judge panel of the U.S.

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State Can't Force Nonprofits to Register as Political Committees

The New Mexico Independent reports that a federal appeals court upheld a lower-court decision which ruled that forcing two nonprofits to register as political committees was a violation of the groups' free-speech rights.

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New Report Finds that Lobbyists' Deregistration Peaked in 2008

The Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) released a new report addressing the question of whether federal lobbyists are "deregistering." CRP found that the increase in deregistrations increased before President Barack Obama took office. As it turns out, policies meant to limit lobbyists' influence may not have played as great of a role in deregistrations as originally thought. CRP points out that "the process of deregistering is not straightforward."

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Call for Investigation into White House

An article from the New York Times last week detailed the widespread use of the Caribou Coffee on Pennsylvania Avenue as a meeting place between White House officials and lobbyists. Now, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) asked the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform for an investigation.

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Supreme Court Rules Against Charities' Challenge to the Patriot Act

In a 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that the government can ban all forms of aid to designated terrorist organization, even if that aid includes advice about nonviolent and legal activities. In Humanitarian Law Project v. Holder, the Humanitarian Law Project (HLP) and other charities allege that sections of the USA PATRIOT Act violate the First Amendment. The plaintiffs said they only wanted to help the groups' nonviolent activities.

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DISCLOSE Act Delayed Again

Facing trouble from all sides, House Democrats again decided to delay consideration of the DISCLOSE act. As the Washington Post describes, "One of President Obama's top legislative priorities is in serious doubt after top House Democrats' attempt to satisfy the National Rifle Association backfired badly.

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Changes to DISCLOSE Act Spark Debate

Some controversy has developed after news that the DISCLOSE Act has been modified to exempt certain large 501(c)(4) organizations. Reportedly, organizations that have more than 1 million members, have been in existence for more than 10 years, have members in all 50 states, and raise 15 percent or less of their funds from corporations would be exempt from the disclosure requirements.

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With Changes to DISCLOSE Act, it May Be Considered This Week

POLITICOreports that House Democrats have reached an agreement with the National Rifle Association (NRA) on the DISCLOSE Act. "The NRA had objected to some of the disclosure requirements for the new campaign finance proposals, and that had kept moderate, pro-gun Democrats from backing the legislation. The NRA said it would not comment until specific legislative language is revealed."

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SpeechNow.org Can Collect Unlimited Contributions, Other Groups Likely Follow

On May 27, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia entered a judgment declaring that SpeechNow.org may accept unlimited donations. The judgment also prevents the Federal Election Commission (FEC) from enforcing contribution limits against the group and its prospective donors.

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GAO Finds Grants to Nonprofits Insufficiently Cover Costs

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released a report on federal grants and nonprofits. Federal policy permits nonprofits to keep a share of contract funds for indirect costs, costs not exclusively associated with particular programs or projects, such as overhead. Unfortunately, state and local governments often keep the money for themselves. "GAO found differences in the rate in which state and local governments reimburse nonprofits for indirect costs."

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