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Recent Developments in Campaign Finance: Tennessee, New York, and Wisconsin

May 2014

Tennessee Ends Ban on Insurance Company Contributions.  On April 14, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed H.B. 1714, which ends the state's ban on corporate political contributions from insurance companies doing business in the state.  Tennessee's law previously included harsh penalties for violations of the contribution ban, including possible revocation of an insurance company's license to do business in the state.  Officers, directors, or others that facilitated a contribution in violation of the ban could also be subject to misdemeanor charges.

Wisconsin Eases Time Restrictions on Lobbyist Political Contributions.  On March 27, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed a bill that increased the window of time in which a lobbyist may contribute to a candidate.  Previously, lobbyists were permitted to make contributions to candidates only between June 1 and election day in the year of the candidate's election.  As a result of the bill, lobbyists will be permitted to make contributions beginning on the first day on which candidates may circulate nomination petitions for the general election, which is April 15.

Court Decision Strikes Down Limits on Contributions to NY Super PACs.  On April 24, a U.S. district court judge struck down New York's limits on contributions to Super PACs.  In his decision, Judge Paul Crotty noted that the court was bound to follow the Supreme Court's decisions in Citizens United and McCutcheon, but he was highly critical of those decisions.