ADOPTED RULES

At its October 5, 2015, meeting, the Texas Ethics Commission voted to adopt the following rules:

§ 20.1 Definitions – In Connection with a Campaign (for Campaign Expenditure)
(effective October 26, 2015)

Text of Adopted Rule

§ 20.1 Definitions – Discount
(effective October 27, 2015)

Text of Adopted Rule

§ 20.66 Discounts
(effective October 27, 2015)

Text of Adopted Rule

§ 34.5 Certain Compensation Excluded
(effective October 29, 2015)
Text of Adopted Rule


20.1 Definitions – In Connection with a Campaign (for Campaign Expenditure)
(effective October 26, 2015)
Text of Adopted Rule

The adopted new language is indicated by underlined text.

Chapter 20. REPORTING POLITICAL CONTRIBUTIONS AND EXPENDITURES

Subchapter A. GENERAL RULES

20.1. Definitions

The following words and terms, when used in Title 15 of the Election Code, in this chapter, Chapter 22 of this title (relating to Restrictions on Contributions and Expenditures), and Chapter 24 of this title (relating to Restrictions on Contributions and Expenditures Applicable to Corporations and Labor Organizations), shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

(1) Campaign communication--The term does not include a communication made by e-mail.

(2) Campaign treasurer--Either the individual appointed by a candidate to be the campaign treasurer, or the individual responsible for filing campaign finance reports of a political committee under Texas law or the law of any other state.

(3) Contribution--The term does not include a transfer for consideration of any thing of value pursuant to a contract that reflects the usual and normal business practice of the vendor.

(4) Corporation--The term does not include professional corporations or professional associations.

(5) Direct campaign expenditure--A campaign expenditure that does not constitute a contribution by the person making the expenditure. A campaign expenditure is not a contribution from the person making the expenditure if:

(A) it is made without the prior consent or approval of the candidate or officeholder on whose behalf the expenditure was made; or

(B) it is made in connection with a measure, but is not a political contribution to a political committee supporting or opposing the measure.

(6) Election cycle--A single election and any related primary or runoff election.

(7) Identified measure--A question or proposal submitted in an election for an expression of the voters’ will and includes the circulation and submission of a petition to determine whether a question or proposal is required to be submitted in an election for an expression of the voters’ will.

(8) In-kind contribution--A contribution of goods, services, or any other thing of value, except money, and includes an agreement made or other obligation incurred, whether legally enforceable or not, to make such a contribution. The term does not include a direct campaign expenditure.

(9) Non-political expenditure--An expenditure from political contributions that is not an officeholder expenditure or a campaign expenditure.

(10) Opposed candidate--A candidate who has an opponent whose name is to appear on the ballot. The name of a write-in candidate does not appear on the ballot.

(11) Out-of-state political committee--A political committee that makes political expenditures outside Texas and in the 12 months immediately preceding the making of a political expenditure by the committee inside Texas (other than an expenditure made in connection with a campaign for a federal office or made for a federal officeholder), makes 80% or more of the committee’s total political expenditures in any combination of elections outside this state and federal offices not voted on in this state. Section 20.13 of this title (relating to Out-of-State Committees) explains the practical application of this definition.

(12) Pledge--A contribution in the form of an unfulfilled promise or unfulfilled agreement, whether enforceable or not, to provide a specified amount of money or specific goods or services. The term does not include a contribution actually made in the form of a check.

(13) Political advertising:

(A) A communication that supports or opposes a political party, a public officer, a measure, or a candidate for nomination or election to a public office or office of a political party, and:

(i) is published in a newspaper, magazine, or other periodical in return for consideration;

(ii) is broadcast by radio or television in return for consideration;

(iii) appears in a pamphlet, circular, flier, billboard, or other sign, bumper sticker, or similar form of written communication; or

(iv) appears on an Internet website.

(B) The term does not include an individual communication made by e-mail but does include mass e-mails involving an expenditure of funds beyond the basic cost of hardware messaging software and bandwidth.

(14) Political committee--Two or more persons that have as a principal purpose accepting political contributions or making political expenditures to support or oppose candidates, officeholders, or measures. The term does not include a group composed exclusively of two or more individual filers or political committees required to file reports under Election Code, Title 15 (concerning Regulating Political Funds and Campaigns), who make reportable expenditures for a joint activity such as a fundraiser or an advertisement.

(15) Political subdivision--A county, city, or school district or any other governmental entity that:

(A) embraces a geographic area with a defined boundary;

(B) exists for the purpose of discharging functions of government; and

(C) possesses authority for subordinate self-government through officers selected by it.

(16) Report--Any document required to be filed by this title, including an appointment of campaign treasurer, any type of report of contributions and expenditures, and any notice.

(17) Special pre-election report--A shorthand term for a report filed in accordance with the requirements of §§ 20.221, 20.333, or 20.435 of this title (relating to Special Pre-Election Report by Certain Candidates; Special Pre-Election Report by Certain Specific-Purpose Committees; Special Pre-Election Reports by Certain General-Purpose Committees) and §§ 254.038 and 254.039 of the Election Code (relating to Special Report Near Election by Certain Candidates and Political Committees and Special Report Near Election By Certain General-Purpose Committees).

(18) Specific-purpose committee--A political committee that does not meet the definition of general-purpose committee and that has among its principal purposes:

(A) supporting or opposing one or more:

(i) candidates, all of whom are identified and are seeking offices that are known; or

(ii) measures, all of which are identified;

(B) assisting one or more officeholders, all of whom are identified; or

(C) supporting or opposing only one candidate who is unidentified or who is seeking an office that is unknown.

(19) Unidentified measure--A question or proposal that is intended to be submitted in an election for an expression of the voters' will and that is not yet legally required to be submitted in an election, except that the term does not include the circulation or submission of a petition to determine whether a question or proposal is required to be submitted in an election for an expression of the voters' will. The circulation or submission of a petition to determine whether a question or proposal is required to be submitted in an election for an expression of the voters' will is considered to be an identified measure.

(20) Principal purpose--A group has as a principal purpose of accepting political contributions or making political expenditures, including direct campaign expenditures, when that activity is an important or a main function of the group.

(A) A group may have more than one principal purpose.

(B) A group has as a principal purpose accepting political contributions if the proportion of the political contributions to the total contributions to the group is more than 25 percent within a calendar year. Whether the contributor intends to make a political contribution is determined by the reasonable expectation of the contributor as to how the contribution will be used and includes an analysis of:

(i) the content of the group’s public statements regarding its fundraising efforts, goals, or support of or opposition to candidates, officeholders, or measures;

(ii) the group’s government filings and organizational documents, including mission statements; and

(iii) the group’s other activities that are unrelated to accepting political contributions or making political expenditures.

(C) A group has as a principal purpose making political expenditures, including direct expenditures, if the group expends more than 25 percent of its annual expenses and other resources to make political expenditures within a calendar year. The following shall be included for purposes of calculating the threshold:

(i) the value of the time spent by the group’s employees or volunteers on activities related to making political expenditures compared to other activities; and

(ii) the amount of money and in-kind donations spent on political expenditures compared to other expenditures.

(iii) For the proportion in paragraph (ii), the proportional share of administrative expenses attributable to political expenditures should be included. (For example, if the group sends three mailings a year and each costs $10,000, if the first two are issue based newsletters and the third is a direct advocacy sample ballot, and there were no other outside expenditures, then the proportion of the administrative expenses attributable to political expenditures would be 33%.) Administrative expenses include but are not limited to:

(I) employee compensation and benefits;

(II) contractor payments;

(III) rent;

(IV) office expenses; and

(V) computer equipment and services.

(D) In this section, the term “political expenditures” includes direct campaign expenditures.

(21) In connection with a campaign:

(A) An expenditure is made in connection with a campaign for an elective office if it is:

(i) made for a communication that expressly advocates the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate by:

(I) using such words as “vote for,” “elect,” “support,” “vote against,” “defeat,” “reject,” “cast your ballot for,” or “Smith for city council;” or

(II) using such phrases as “elect the incumbent” or “reject the challenger,” or such phrases as “vote pro-life” or “vote pro-choice” accompanied by a listing of candidates described as “pro-life” or “pro-choice;”

(ii) made for a communication broadcast by radio, television, cable, or satellite or distributed by print or electronic media, including any print publication, mailing, Internet website, electronic mail, or automated phone bank, that:

(I) refers to a clearly identified candidate;

(II) is distributed within 30 days before a contested election for the office sought by the candidate;

(III) targets a mass audience or group in the geographical area the candidate seeks to represent; and

(IV) includes words, whether displayed, written, or spoken; images of the candidate or candidate’s opponent; or sounds of the voice of the candidate or candidate’s opponent that, without consideration of the intent of the person making the communication, are susceptible of no other reasonable interpretation than to urge the election or defeat of the candidate;

(iii) made by a candidate or political committee to support or oppose a candidate; or

(iv) a campaign contribution to:

(I) a candidate; or

(II) a group that, at the time of the contribution, already qualifies as a political committee.

(B) An expenditure is made in connection with a campaign on a measure if it is:

(i) made for a communication that expressly advocates the passage or defeat of a clearly identified measure by using such words as “vote for,” “support,” “vote against,” “defeat,” “reject,” or “cast your ballot for;”

(ii) made for a communication broadcast by radio, television, cable, or satellite  or distributed by print or electronic media, including any print publication, mailing, Internet website, electronic mail, or automated phone bank, that:

(I) refers to a clearly identified measure;

(II) is distributed within 30 days before the election in which the measure is to appear on the ballot;

(III) targets a mass audience or group in the geographical area in which the measure is to appear on the ballot; and

(IV) includes words, whether displayed, written, or spoken, that, without consideration of the intent of the person making the communication, are susceptible of no other reasonable interpretation than to urge the passage or defeat of the measure;

(iii) made by a political committee to support or oppose a measure; or

(iv) a campaign contribution to a group that, at the time of the contribution, already qualifies as a political committee.

(C) Any cost incurred for covering or carrying a news story, commentary, or editorial by a broadcasting station or cable television operator, Internet website, or newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication, including an Internet or other electronic publication, is not a campaign expenditure if the cost for the news story, commentary, or editorial is not paid for by, and the medium is not owned or controlled by, a candidate or political committee.

(D) For purposes of this section:

(i) a candidate is clearly identified by a communication that includes the candidate’s name, office sought, office held, likeness, photograph, or other apparent and unambiguous reference; and

(ii) a measure is clearly identified by a communication that includes the measure’s name or ballot designation (such as “Proposition 1”), purposes, election date, or other apparent and unambiguous reference.


20.1 Definitions – Discount
(effective October 27, 2015)
Text of Adopted Rule

The Adopted new language is indicated by underlined text.

Chapter 20. REPORTING POLITICAL CONTRIBUTIONS AND EXPENDITURES

Subchapter A. GENERAL RULES

20.1. Definitions

The following words and terms, when used in Title 15 of the Election Code, in this chapter, Chapter 22 of this title (relating to Restrictions on Contributions and Expenditures), and Chapter 24 of this title (relating to Restrictions on Contributions and Expenditures Applicable to Corporations and Labor Organizations), shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

(1) Campaign communication--The term does not include a communication made by e-mail.

(2) Campaign treasurer--Either the individual appointed by a candidate to be the campaign treasurer, or the individual responsible for filing campaign finance reports of a political committee under Texas law or the law of any other state.

(3) Contribution--The term does not include a transfer for consideration of any thing of value pursuant to a contract that reflects the usual and normal business practice of the vendor.

(4) Corporation--The term does not include professional corporations or professional associations.

(5) Direct campaign expenditure--A campaign expenditure that does not constitute a contribution by the person making the expenditure. A campaign expenditure is not a contribution from the person making the expenditure if:

(A) it is made without the prior consent or approval of the candidate or officeholder on whose behalf the expenditure was made; or

(B) it is made in connection with a measure, but is not a political contribution to a political committee supporting or opposing the measure.

(6) Election cycle--A single election and any related primary or runoff election.

(7) Identified measure--A question or proposal submitted in an election for an expression of the voters’ will and includes the circulation and submission of a petition to determine whether a question or proposal is required to be submitted in an election for an expression of the voters’ will.

(8) In-kind contribution--A contribution of goods, services, or any other thing of value, except money, and includes an agreement made or other obligation incurred, whether legally enforceable or not, to make such a contribution. The term does not include a direct campaign expenditure.

(9) Non-political expenditure--An expenditure from political contributions that is not an officeholder expenditure or a campaign expenditure.

(10) Opposed candidate--A candidate who has an opponent whose name is to appear on the ballot. The name of a write-in candidate does not appear on the ballot.

(11) Out-of-state political committee--A political committee that makes political expenditures outside Texas and in the 12 months immediately preceding the making of a political expenditure by the committee inside Texas (other than an expenditure made in connection with a campaign for a federal office or made for a federal officeholder), makes 80% or more of the committee’s total political expenditures in any combination of elections outside this state and federal offices not voted on in this state. Section 20.13 of this title (relating to Out-of-State Committees) explains the practical application of this definition.

(12) Pledge--A contribution in the form of an unfulfilled promise or unfulfilled agreement, whether enforceable or not, to provide a specified amount of money or specific goods or services. The term does not include a contribution actually made in the form of a check.

(13) Political advertising:

(A) A communication that supports or opposes a political party, a public officer, a measure, or a candidate for nomination or election to a public office or office of a political party, and:

(i) is published in a newspaper, magazine, or other periodical in return for consideration;

(ii) is broadcast by radio or television in return for consideration;

(iii) appears in a pamphlet, circular, flier, billboard, or other sign, bumper sticker, or similar form of written communication; or

(iv) appears on an Internet website.

(B) The term does not include an individual communication made by e-mail but does include mass e-mails involving an expenditure of funds beyond the basic cost of hardware messaging software and bandwidth.

(14) Political committee--Two or more persons that have as a principal purpose accepting political contributions or making political expenditures to support or oppose candidates, officeholders, or measures. The term does not include a group composed exclusively of two or more individual filers or political committees required to file reports under Election Code, Title 15 (concerning Regulating Political Funds and Campaigns), who make reportable expenditures for a joint activity such as a fundraiser or an advertisement.

(15) Political subdivision--A county, city, or school district or any other governmental entity that:

(A) embraces a geographic area with a defined boundary;

(B) exists for the purpose of discharging functions of government; and

(C) possesses authority for subordinate self-government through officers selected by it.

(16) Report--Any document required to be filed by this title, including an appointment of campaign treasurer, any type of report of contributions and expenditures, and any notice.

(17) Special pre-election report--A shorthand term for a report filed in accordance with the requirements of §§ 20.221, 20.333, or 20.435 of this title (relating to Special Pre-Election Report by Certain Candidates; Special Pre-Election Report by Certain Specific-Purpose Committees; Special Pre-Election Reports by Certain General-Purpose Committees) and §§ 254.038 and 254.039 of the Election Code (relating to Special Report Near Election by Certain Candidates and Political Committees and Special Report Near Election By Certain General-Purpose Committees).

(18) Specific-purpose committee--A political committee that does not meet the definition of general-purpose committee and that has among its principal purposes:

(A) supporting or opposing one or more:

(i) candidates, all of whom are identified and are seeking offices that are known; or

(ii) measures, all of which are identified;

(B) assisting one or more officeholders, all of whom are identified; or

(C) supporting or opposing only one candidate who is unidentified or who is seeking an office that is unknown

(19) Unidentified measure--A question or proposal that is intended to be submitted in an election for an expression of the voters' will and that is not yet legally required to be submitted in an election, except that the term does not include the circulation or submission of a petition to determine whether a question or proposal is required to be submitted in an election for an expression of the voters' will. The circulation or submission of a petition to determine whether a question or proposal is required to be submitted in an election for an expression of the voters' will is considered to be an identified measure.

(20) Principal purpose--A group has as a principal purpose of accepting political contributions or making political expenditures, including direct campaign expenditures, when that activity is an important or a main function of the group.

(A) A group may have more than one principal purpose.

(B) A group has as a principal purpose accepting political contributions if the proportion of the political contributions to the total contributions to the group is more than 25 percent within a calendar year. Whether the contributor intends to make a political contribution is determined by the reasonable expectation of the contributor as to how the contribution will be used and includes an analysis of:

(i) the content of the group’s public statements regarding its fundraising efforts, goals, or support of or opposition to candidates, officeholders, or measures;

(ii) the group’s government filings and organizational documents, including mission statements; and

(iii) the group’s other activities that are unrelated to accepting political contributions or making political expenditures.

(C) A group has as a principal purpose making political expenditures, including direct expenditures, if the group expends more than 25 percent of its annual expenses and other resources to make political expenditures within a calendar year.  The following shall be included for purposes of calculating the threshold:

(i)  the value of the time spent by the group’s employees or volunteers on activities related to making political expenditures compared to other activities; and

(ii)  the amount of money and in-kind donations spent on political expenditures compared to other expenditures.

(iii)  For the proportion in paragraph (ii), the proportional share of administrative expenses attributable to political expenditures should be included.  (For example, if the group sends three mailings a year and each costs $10,000, if the first two are issue based newsletters and the third is a direct advocacy sample ballot, and there were no other outside expenditures, then the proportion of the administrative expenses attributable to political expenditures would be 33%.)  Administrative expenses include but are not limited to:

(I) employee compensation and benefits;

(II) contractor payments;

(III) rent;

(IV) office expenses; and

(V) computer equipment and services.

(D)  In this section, the term “political expenditures” includes direct campaign expenditures.

(21) In connection with a campaign:

(A) An expenditure is made in connection with a campaign for an elective office if it is:

(i) made for a communication that expressly advocates the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate by:

(I) using such words as “vote for,” “elect,” “support,” “vote against,” “defeat,” “reject,” “cast your ballot for,” or “Smith for city council;” or

(II) using such phrases as “elect the incumbent” or “reject the challenger,” or such phrases as “vote pro-life” or “vote pro-choice” accompanied by a listing of candidates described as “pro-life” or “pro-choice;”

(ii) made for a communication broadcast by radio, television, cable, or satellite or distributed by print or electronic media, including any print publication, mailing, Internet website, electronic mail, or automated phone bank, that:

(I) refers to a clearly identified candidate;

(II) is distributed within 30 days before a contested election for the office sought by the candidate;

(III) targets a mass audience or group in the geographical area the candidate seeks to represent; and

(IV) includes words, whether displayed, written, or spoken; images of the candidate or candidate’s opponent; or sounds of the voice of the candidate or candidate’s opponent that, without consideration of the intent of the person making the communication, are susceptible of no other reasonable interpretation than to urge the election or defeat of the candidate;

(iii) made by a candidate or political committee to support or oppose a candidate; or

(iv) a campaign contribution to:

(I) a candidate; or

(II) a group that, at the time of the contribution, already qualifies as a political committee.

(B) An expenditure is made in connection with a campaign on a measure if it is:

(i) made for a communication that expressly advocates the passage or defeat of a clearly identified measure by using such words as “vote for,” “support,” “vote against,” “defeat,” “reject,” or “cast your ballot for;”

(ii) made for a communication broadcast by radio, television, cable, or satellite or distributed by print or electronic media, including any print publication, mailing, Internet website, electronic mail, or automated phone bank, that:

(I) refers to a clearly identified measure;

(II) is distributed within 30 days before the election in which the measure is to appear on the ballot;

(III) targets a mass audience or group in the geographical area in which the measure is to appear on the ballot; and

(IV) includes words, whether displayed, written, or spoken, that, without consideration of the intent of the person making the communication, are susceptible of no other reasonable interpretation than to urge the passage or defeat of the measure;

(iii) made by a political committee to support or oppose a measure; or

(iv) a campaign contribution to a group that, at the time of the contribution, already qualifies as a political committee.

(C) Any cost incurred for covering or carrying a news story, commentary, or editorial by a broadcasting station or cable television operator, Internet website, or newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication, including an Internet or other electronic publication, is not a campaign expenditure if the cost for the news story, commentary, or editorial is not paid for by, and the medium is not owned or controlled by, a candidate or political committee.

(D) For purposes of this section:

(i) a candidate is clearly identified by a communication that includes the candidate’s name, office sought, office held, likeness, photograph, or other apparent and unambiguous reference; and

(ii) a measure is clearly identified by a communication that includes the measure’s name or ballot designation (such as “Proposition 1”), purposes, election date, or other apparent and unambiguous reference.

(22) Discount--The provision of any goods or services without charge or at a charge which is less than fair market value.  A discount is an in-kind political contribution unless the terms of the transaction reflect the usual and normal practice of the industry and are typical of the terms that are offered to political and non-political persons alike, or unless the discount is given solely in order to comply with section 253.041 of the Election Code.  The value of an in-kind contribution in the form of a discount is the difference between the fair market value of the goods or services at the time of the contribution and the amount charged. 


§ 20.66 Discounts
Text of Adopted Rule

The Adopted new language is indicated by underlined text.

Subchapter A. GENERAL RULES

§ 20.66. Discounts

(a) A discount to a candidate, officeholder, or political committee is an in-kind political contribution unless the terms of the transaction reflect the usual and normal practice of the industry and are typical of the terms that are offered to political and non-political persons alike, or unless the discount is given solely in order to comply with section 253.041 of the Election Code.

(b) The value of an in-kind contribution in the form of a discount is the difference between the fair market value of the goods or services at the time of the contribution and the amount charged.


§ 34.5 Certain Compensation Excluded
Text of Adopted Rule

The Adopted new language is indicated by underlined text.
The deleted language is indicated by [strikethrough] text

Chapter 34. REGULATION OF LOBBYISTS

Subchapter A. GENERAL PROVISIONS

§3 4.5. Certain Compensation Excluded

Compensation received for the following activities is not included for purposes of calculating the registration threshold under Government Code § 305.003(a)(2), and this chapter and is not required to be reported on a lobby activity report filed under Government Code, Chapter 305, and this chapter:

(1) requesting a written opinion that interprets a law, regulation, rule, policy, practice, or procedure administered by a state office or agency;

(2) preparation or submission of an application or other written document that merely provides information required by law, statute, rule, regulation, order, or subpoena, or that responds to a document prepared by a state agency;

(3) communicating merely for the purpose of demonstrating compliance with an audit, inspection, examination of a financial institution, or government investigation to interpret and determine compliance with existing laws, rules, policies, and procedures;

(4) communicating for the purpose of achieving compliance with existing laws, rules, policies, and procedures, including communications to show qualification for an exception of general applicability that is available under existing laws, rules, policies, and procedures;

(5) providing to [responding to a specific request for information from] a member of the legislative or executive branch information consisting of facts or data that the member requested in writing regarding legislation or administrative action, when the request was not solicited by or on behalf of the person providing the information;

(6) communicating to an agency's legal counsel, an administrative law judge, or a hearings examiner concerning litigation or adjudicative proceedings to which the agency is a party, or concerning adjudicative proceedings of that agency;

(7) providing testimony, making an appearance, or any other type of communication documented as part of a public record in a proceeding of an adjudicative nature of the type authorized by or subject to the Administrative Procedure Act, Government Code, Chapter 2001, whether or not that proceeding is subject to the Open Meetings Law;

(8) providing oral or written comments, making an appearance, or any other type of communication, if documented as part of a public record in an agency's rule-making proceeding under the Administrative Procedure Act, Government Code, Chapter 2001, or in public records kept in connection with a legislative hearing; or

(9) providing only clerical assistance to another in connection with the other person's lobbying (for example, a person who merely types or delivers another person's letter to a member).

 
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