Josh Rosenstein discusses the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) in an article recently published by The Hill on Paul Manafort’s role in helping a Ukrainian political party secretly pay U.S. lobbyists.
“The U.S. entity may still be liable for some violation of FARA if the principal lied to it, but it’s unlikely there would be a criminal prosecution or jail time as long as the U.S. entity did its due diligence,” Josh Rosenstein stated.
Rachel Provencher and Jack Young recently co-authored a chapter in the newest edition of “America Votes! Challenges to Modern Election Law and Voting Rights.” The book provides a snapshot of key election and voting rights issues that the United States faces moving into the 2016 election. In their chapter, entitled “The Administrative Challenges for Recounts, Contests, and Post-Election Audits”, Rachel Provencher and Jack Young explore several factors that account for the inability to create bright-line rules regarding recounts and contests.
Neil Reiff and David Mitrani were quoted in an article this week in The Guardian regarding campaign finance and the role of money in American elections:
“A lot of these organizations have overspun. Mayber Super Pac money can buy you name recognition but it can’t buy you legitimacy with name recognition. Look at Jeb Bush,” said Neil Reiff.
David Mitrani agreed that Super Pacs led to “a decentralization of our political system. The power passed to Super Pacs from the political parties. Now fringe groups on both sides of the aisle that can raise money from larger or grassroots donors have the same or a bigger voice than the parties. That really hurt the state parties which find themselves in dire financial straits.”
On behalf of the Chair of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party, Neil Reiff and his colleagues wrote a petition intended to strengthen political parties. The petition seeks amendments to sections under Title 11 of the Code of Federal Regulations and proposes to loosen rules governing state and local party fundraising.
Recently, Josh Rosenstein and Joe Birkenstock co-authored a short article on lobbyists.info about the delayed OGE Rulemaking. In the article, Rosenstein and Birkenstock discuss the broad set of ethics standards for employees of the executive branch of the federal government, the issuance of Executive Order 13490 by President Obama, and the most recent proposed rule in November 2015. Rosenstein and Birkenstock go on to analyze the future of the yet to be issued final rule.
Joe Birkenstock was quoted in an LA Times article that examined whether state Sen. Isadore Hall (D-Compton) and his campaign for the 44th Congressional District of California violated Federal Election Law.
Joseph Birkenstock said it appears Hall’s campaign did violate the law. But if it can amend and correct the expenditure reports, Hall could be in the clear.
“It is not a meaningful violation as long as they correct it and as long as those disbursements really were general election disbursements,” Birkenstock said.
Joe Birkenstock was quoted in a Time article that examined how data and personal information is collected from presidential campaign supporters:
Typically, political campaigns gather donor information like names, mailing addresses, employers, and occupations, and sooner or later sell this information to other political groups. Less specific “metadata” can also be sold or “rented” to for-profit data brokers. Joe Birkenstock, former Chief Counsel of the Democratic National Committee and partner at D.C. law firm Sandler Reiff, says that such metadata can be extremely valuable, giving candidates indications about the state of mind of certain donors and the effectiveness of different speeches on contributions.
Joshua Rosenstein was quoted in an article on The Hill this week regarding the policies placed upon lobbying under the Obama Administration:
“I think that the spirit of the executive order is good, and the idea behind it was certainly sound. The problems are unintended consequences that the executive order had and a reality of the way Washington works,” said Joshua Ian Rosenstein, a partner at Sandler Reiff Lamb Rosenstein & Birkenstock who handles lobbying compliance issues.
“An administration can try as hard as it wants, but as long as a statute itself is flawed,” Rosenstein said, “everything the administration does to fix it is just patchwork.”
USA Today quoted Joe Birkenstock in an article concerning potentially improper campaign contributions to several congressional and presidential candidates:
While campaigns cannot investigate every donation they receive, “getting multiple maxed-out contributions on the same day from an identifiable group of first-time political donors that the campaign doesn’t already know well is definitely a yellow light,” said election lawyer Joe Birkenstock. “It doesn’t necessarily mean there’s anything wrong, but that’s generally the kind of fact pattern a compliance team should follow up on.”
Joshua Rosenstein was quoted in a Mother Jones article regarding Jeb Bush’s lobbying reform plan that would impose a six-year ban on lawmakers becoming lobbyists:
“You have countless cases of very high-profile former members who may well be in contact with their former colleagues, but don’t meet the threshold and therefore aren’t subject to the restrictions,” says Joshua Rosenstein, an attorney with Sandler Reiff who advises clients on compliance with lobbying regulations. “You can already sit on the sidelines and advise clients on congressional policy or the reality of moving a bill through either chamber without ever running afoul of anything.”
Rosenstein said that without tightening up the definition of “lobbying,” prohibiting members from doing it doesn’t mean a whole lot.
“The law defines lobbying and if the definition is too permissive having restrictions on lobbyists doesn’t really matter because there are so many holes you can drive a truck through,” he says.