PROPOSED RULES

At its August 7, 2015, meeting, the Texas Ethics Commission voted to propose amendments to Texas Ethics Commission Rules §§ 20.1 and 34.5, and a new rule, Texas Ethics Commission Rules § 20.66. The Ethics Commission invites public comment on the proposals. A written statement should be mailed or delivered to Natalia Luna Ashley, Texas Ethics Commission, P.O. Box 12070, Austin, Texas 78711-2070, or by facsimile (FAX) to (512) 463-5777. A person who wants to offer spoken comments to the commission concerning the proposed rule may do so during the public comment period at any commission meeting when the commission considers the proposed rule. Information concerning the time and location of commission meetings is available at http://www.ethics.state.tx.us/tec/meetings.htm or by telephoning (512) 463-5800.

§ 20.1. Meaning of “Principal Purpose”
Text of Proposed Rule

§ 20.1. Meaning of “In Connection with a Campaign”
Text of Proposed Rule

§ 20.1. Meaning of “Discount”
Text of Proposed Rule

§ 20.66. Discounts
Text of Proposed Rule

§ 34.5. Certain Compensation Excluded
Text of Proposed Rule


§ 20.1. Meaning of “Principal Purpose”
Text of Proposed Rule

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

Chapter 20. REPORTING POLITICAL CONTRIBUTIONS AND EXPENDITURES

Subchapter A. GENERAL RULES

20.1. Definitions

(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 amount of money paid in compensation and benefits to [value of the time spent by] the group’s employees for work [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; and [compared to other expenditures.]

(iii) the amount of money attributable to [For the proportion in paragraph (ii),] the proportional share of administrative expenses related [attributable] to political expenditures [should be included]. The proportional share of administrative expenses is calculated by comparing the political expenditures in clause (ii) with nonpolitical expenditures. (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. fees for services to non-employees [employee compensation and benefits];

II. advertising and promotion [contractor payments];

III.office expenses; [rent;]

IV. information technology [office expenses]; and

V. occupancy, travel expenses, interest, and insurance [computer equipment and services].

(D) The group may maintain specific evidence of administrative expenses related only to political expenditures or only to nonpolitical expenditures. Specifically identified administrative expenses shall not be included in the proportion established by clause (C)(iii) but allocated by the actual amount of the expense.

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


§ 20.1. Meaning of “In Connection with a Campaign”
Text of Proposed Rule

The proposed new language is indicated by underlined text.

Chapter 20. REPORTING POLITICAL CONTRIBUTIONS AND EXPENDITURES

Subchapter A. GENERAL RULES

20.1. Definitions

(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. Meaning of “Discount”
Text of Proposed Rule

The proposed new language is indicated by underlined text.

Chapter 20. REPORTING POLITICAL CONTRIBUTIONS AND EXPENDITURES

Subchapter A. GENERAL RULES

20.1. Definitions

(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 Proposed Rule

The proposed new language is indicated by underlined text.

Chapter 20. REPORTING POLITICAL CONTRIBUTIONS AND EXPENDITURES

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 Proposed Rule

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

Chapter 34: REGULATION OF LOBBYISTS

Subchapter A. GENERAL PROVISIONS

§ 34.5. 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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