PROPOSED RULES

At its October 5, 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 emailed to public_comment@ethics.state.tx.us, or 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 https://www.ethics.state.tx.us/tec/meetings.htm or by telephoning (512) 463-5800.

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

§ 20.409. Name of General-Purpose Committee
Text of Proposed Rule

§ 34.91. Exemptions from Electronic Filing
Text of Proposed Rule

§§ 46.1, 46.3, and 46.5. Disclosure of Interested Parties
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.  A [Whether the] contributor intends to make a political contribution if the solicitations that prompted the contribution or the statements made by the contributor about the contribution would lead to no other reasonable conclusion than that the contribution was intended to be 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)  The group may maintain specific evidence of contributions related only to political contributions or only to nonpolitical contributions.  For example, the group may ask the contributor to make an indication when the contribution is made that the contribution is only a nonpolitical contribution.

(D) [(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 (2),] 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; [computer equipment and services.]

(VI) travel expenses;

(VII) interest; and

(VIII) insurance.

(E) 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 (D)(iii) but allocated by the actual amount of the expense. 

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


§ 20.409.  Name of General-Purpose Committee
Text of Proposed Rule

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

§ 20.409. Name of General-Purpose Committee

(a) The name of a general-purpose committee must include the full name of each corporation, labor organization, or other association or legal entity other than an individual that directly establishes, administers, or controls the general-purpose committee.

(b) A corporation, labor organization, or other association or legal entity that "directly establishes, administers, or controls" a general-purpose committee is one that has: 

(1) the authority to actively participate in determining to whom the general-purpose committee makes political contributions or for what purposes the general-purpose committee makes political expenditures; or

(2) the authority to designate a person to a position of authority with the general-purpose committee, including that of an officer or director of the general-purpose committee. 

(c) The name of an entity used in the name of a general-purpose committee may be a commonly recognized acronym by which the entity is known. 

(d) The name of a general-purpose committee may not be the same as or deceptively similar to the name of any other general-purpose committee that has an active [whose] campaign treasurer appointment on file [is filed] with the commission. The commission shall determine whether the name of a general-purpose political committee is in violation of this prohibition and shall immediately notify the campaign treasurer of the offending political committee of that determination. In determining whether the name of a general-purpose committee is the same as or deceptively similar to the name of any other general-purpose committee, the commission may be guided by Texas Administrative Code, Title 1, Part 4, Chapter 79. The campaign treasurer of the political committee must file a name change with the commission not later than the 14th day after the date of notification.

(e) For purposes of subsection (d) of this section, a general-purpose committee does not have an active campaign treasurer appointment on file with the commission if the committee files a dissolution report under §254.159, Election Code, or the campaign treasurer appointment for the committee is terminated and more than one year has lapsed since the committee has filed another campaign treasurer appointment with the commission. 


§ 34.91. Exemptions from Electronic Filing
Text of Proposed Rule

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

§ 34.91. Exemptions from Electronic Filing

(a) A registrant is required to file each report electronically by using the Internet to transmit the report, by using the web-based filing application [a modem without an Internet connection to transmit the report, by delivering a diskette to the commission, or by using computer software] provided by the commission, unless the registrant files with the commission an affidavit stating that:

(1) the registrant does not use a computer or mobile device, including a tablet or smartphone with access to the Internet [equipment to keep current records of lobby clients/employers];

(2) no person acting as an agent or consultant of the registrant and no person with whom the registrant contracts uses a computer or mobile device, including a tablet or smartphone with access to the Internet [equipment to keep current records of the registrant's lobby clients/employers];

(3) the registrant does not intend to be compensated or reimbursed [more than $10,000] for lobby activity in the calendar year covered by the registration;

(4) the registrant was not compensated [more than $10,000] for lobby activity in either of the previous two calendar years;

(5) the registrant does not intend to make [exceed $1,000 on] lobby expenditures during the calendar year covered by the registration; and

(6) the registrant did not make [exceed $1,000 on] lobby expenditures in either of the previous two calendar years.

(b) The commission has the discretion to exempt from the electronic filing requirement a registrant who is not eligible to file under subsection (a) of this section if a registrant submits an affidavit to the commission stating the basis for the inability to filing electronically.

(c) A registrant who is eligible to file under subsection (a) of this section must file an affidavit under subsection (a) of this section with each report [a registration] filed under Chapter 305 of the Government Code and this chapter.

(d) A registrant who during a calendar year becomes ineligible to file on paper based on the criteria listed in subsection (a) of this section must file electronically beginning on the date on which the next report is due under §305.007 of the Government Code.

(e) For purposes of this section, "lobby expenditure" means expenditures required to be reported under Chapter 305 of the Government Code and this chapter.

(f) For purposes of this section, a "report" includes any document required to be filed by a registrant under Chapter 305 of the Government Code and this chapter except that it does not include notices and statements required to be filed under §305.028 of the Government Code.

(g) For purposes of this section, a "report" includes the confidential social security information required to be filed by a lobbyist in compliance with §231.302(c)(1) of the Family Code.


§§ 46.1, 46.3, and 46.5. Disclosure of Interested Parties
Text of Proposed Rule

The proposed new language is indicated by underlined text.

Chapter 46. DISCLOSURE OF INTERESTED PARTIES

§46.1. Application

(a) This chapter applies to section 2252.908 of the Government Code.

(b) Section 2252.908 of the Government Code applies only to a contract of a governmental entity or state agency entered into after December 31, 2015, that meets either of the following conditions:

(1) The contract requires an action or vote by the governing body of the entity or agency; or

(2) The value of the contract is at least $1 million.

(c) A contract does not require an action or vote by the governing body of a governmental entity or state agency if:

(1) The governing body has legal authority to delegate to its staff the authority to execute the contract;

(2) The governing body has delegated to its staff the authority to execute the contract; and

(3) The governing body does not participate in the selection of the business entity with which the contract is entered into.

§46.3. Definitions

(a) “Contract” includes an amended, extended, or renewed contract.

(b) “Business entity” includes an entity through which business is conducted with a governmental entity or state agency, regardless of whether the entity is a for-profit or nonprofit entity. The term does not include a governmental entity or state agency.

(c) “Controlling interest” means:  (1) an ownership interest or participating interest in a business entity by virtue of units, percentage, shares, stock, or otherwise that exceeds 10 percent; (2) membership on the board of directors or other governing body of a business entity of which the board or other governing body is composed of not more than 10 members; or (3) service as an officer of a business entity that has four or fewer officers, or service as one of the four officers most highly compensated by a business entity that has more than four officers.

(d) “Interested party” means:  (1) a person who has a controlling interest in a business entity with whom a governmental entity or state agency contracts; or (2) a person who actively participates in facilitating a contract or negotiating the terms of a contract with a governmental entity or state agency, including a broker, intermediary, adviser, or attorney for the business entity.

(e) “Intermediary,” for purposes of this rule, means, a person who actively participates in the facilitation of the contract or negotiating the contract, including a broker, adviser, attorney, or representative of or agent for the business entity who:

(1) receives compensation from the business entity for the person’s participation;

(2) communicates directly with the governmental entity or state agency on behalf of the business entity regarding the contract; and

(3) is not an employee of the business entity.

§ 46.5. Disclosure of Interested Parties Form

(a) A disclosure of interested parties form required by section 2252.908 of the Government Code must be filed on an electronic form prescribed by the commission that contains the following:

(1) The name of the business entity filing the form and the city, state, and country of the business entity’s place of business;

(2) The name of the governmental entity or state agency that is a party to the contract for which the form is being filed;

(3) The name of each interested party and the city, state, and country of the place of business of each interested party;

(4) The identification number used by the governmental entity or state agency to track or identify the contract for which the form is being filed and a short description of the goods or services used by the governmental entity or state agency provided under the contract; and

(5) An indication of whether each interested party has a controlling interest in the business entity, is an intermediary in the contract for which the disclosure is being filed, or both.

(b) The certification of filing and the completed disclosure of interested parties form generated by the commission’s electronic filing application must be printed, signed by an authorized agent of the contracting business entity, and submitted to the governmental entity or state agency that is the party to the contract for which the form is being filed.

(c) A governmental entity or state agency that receives a completed disclosure of interested parties form and certification of filing shall notify the commission, in an electronic format prescribed by the commission, of the receipt of those documents not later than the 30th day after the date the contract for which the form was filed binds all parties to the contract.

(d) The commission shall make each disclosure of interested parties form filed with the commission under section 2252.908(f) of the Government Code available to the public on the commission’s Internet website not later than the seventh business day after the date the commission receives the notice required under subsection (c) of this section.


 
Texas.gov | Texas Homeland Security | Statewide Search | Site Policies