As the election season progresses, the opportunities for companies to get in trouble increase. Candidates ask for help raising funds, employees have more questions about becoming involved in campaigns, use of the corporate jet for political purposes gets tricky and so-called issue ads start receiving more scrutiny. Not only that, but several critical regulations have recently been revised. In the issue ad area, for example, the definitions of “electioneering communications” and “coordinated communications” were changed within the last year.
The need to stay within the rules is more important than ever. The U.S. Department of Justice Web site is chock-full of press releases touting public corruption prosecutions completed or under way. In some instances, the goodie given to the public official was in the form of campaign support (whether for a re-election committee, leadership political action committee or party committee). In April the Justice Department announced a new initiative to target campaign finance violations. This followed a January announcement that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had dedicated 200 more agents to public corruption work.
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