2016 Changes

Below are summaries of the significant legislative and regulatory changes made to the Political Reform Act (Act) in 2016. The legislative provisions of AB 2318, AB 2558, SB 1107, and SB 1349 take effect January 1, 2017. To view the full text of the bills, visit: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/. To view the full text of FPPC regulations, visit here

Campaign Changes

Use of Campaign Funds

This bill permits a public officer or candidate to spend or accept public moneys for the purpose of seeking elective office if the state or local government entity has a dedicated fund for this purpose. Existing law prohibits an individual who has been convicted of certain felonies (e.g., bribery) from being considered a candidate for, or elected to, a state or local elective office. (Elections Code Section 20.) This bill prohibits an officeholder who is convicted of one of these felonies from using his or her remaining campaign funds for purposes other than the payment of outstanding debts or elected officer's expenses, or the repayment of contributions. Six months after a conviction becomes final, any remaining funds must be deposited in the General Fund. (SB 1107 (Allen) - Chapter 837, Statutes of 2016)

Publicly Funded Nonprofit Organizations

Existing law requires certain publicly funded nonprofit organizations to deposit into a separate bank account funds that will be used for campaign activity. In addition, these publicly funded nonprofit organizations must disclose information related to campaign activity to the Franchise Tax Board and post it on the organization's website.  This bill moves the administration and enforcement of these provisions from the Franchise Tax Board to the Fair Political Practices Commission. (AB 2318 (Low) - Chapter 825, Statutes of 2016)

San Bernardino County Campaign Finance Ordinance

Existing law, through January 1, 2018, authorizes the Fair Political Practices Commission to have primary responsibility for the impartial, effective administration, implementation, and enforcement of the local campaign ordinance of the County of San Bernardino.  This bill repeals the January 1, 2018, sunset date, thereby extending the operation of these provisions indefinitely. (AB 2558 (Steinorth) - Chapter 202, Statutes of 2016)

 

Lobbying Changes

Other Payments to Influence Legislative or Administrative Action

Regulation 18616 was amended to require more detailed disclosure for “other payments to influence.” Employers were already required to track and maintain “detailed records” of this information, but it was not disclosed to the public. Effective July 1, 2016, employers are required to itemize these expenses of $2,500 or more, including the payee, the amount and the primary purpose of the payment. (Amendments effective March 5, 2016)

Lobbying Definition: Ride-Along Exception

Regulation 18239 was amended to clarify the ride-along exception, which allows a knowledgeable person to attend meetings with qualifying officials along with his or her employer's lobbyist and not become a lobbyist him or herself. The changes clarify that the accompanying person must be an employee of the lobbyist employer and require that the accompanying person participates only as a subject matter expert regarding a legislative or administrative active at issue.  (Amendments effective May 12, 2016)

Rebuttable Presumption Applicable to Contract Lobbyists

Regulation 18239 was amended to create a rebuttable presumption that arises when determining whether an individual meets the statutory threshold of a contract lobbyist - i.e., receives $2,000 or more in a calendar month to communicate directly with a qualifying public official for the purpose of influencing legislative or administrative action. If certain basic facts are proven, it will be presumed that any payment an individual receives in a calendar month is for direct communication with officials unless and until the individual offers evidence to the contrary. The individual can rebut the presumption by testimony, records, bills, and receipts that establish the allocation of the individual’s compensation for all other goods and services provided. (Amendments effective September 16, 2016)

Other Changes

Online Filing and Disclosure System 

Existing law requires elected officials, candidates for elective office, and specified committees to file periodic campaign statements. Certain lobbying entities are also required to file periodic reports. The Online Disclosure Act requires the Secretary of State (SOS), in consultation with the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), to develop online and electronic filing processes for use by these persons and entities. This bill would require the SOS, in consultation with the FPPC, to develop and certify for public use a new online filing and disclosure system for campaign and lobbying information in a user-friendly format. The online filing and disclosure system must be available for use no later than February 1, 2019. The SOS may extend this date to no later than December 31, 2019, if specified requirements are met. (SB 1349 (Hertzberg) - Chapter 845, Statutes of 2016)