Last year saw Executive Orders and court rulings and legislative movements and the passing of some of the profession’s most dearly-loved members. Here is a look back at the top headlines of 2010:
- Trials, convictions and releases – Kevin Ring was convicted on five counts of corruption November 15 and awaits sentencing, after a 2009 trial resulted in a hung jury. Paul Magliocchetti pleaded guilty in September to making illegal campaign contributions. The justice department is seeking a 57 month imprisonment for what prosecutors are calling “one of the largest criminal schemes in U.S. history to violate federal campaign finance laws.” Jack Abramoff, initially sentenced to six years for fraud, tax evasion, and conspiracy to bribe public officials, was released from federal prison in June, and his term at a work-release-like program at a Baltimore pizzeria ended in early December.
- Court rulings – In January, the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission corporate funding of independent campaign ads could not be limited under the First Amendment. Many consider the March Speechnow ruling to be a follow-up to Citizens United; the spring case allowed for unlimited giving to “independent expenditures committees.” Both cases, however, upheld disclosure requirements while lifting spending restrictions.
- Legislative Bullying – Congress sought to “fix” the Citizens United ruling with the DISCLOSE Act, which would require organizations that back federal election campaigns to disclose the names of large donors, as well as list said donors in any campaign ads the organizations run, and ban foreign governments, government contractors, and TARP recipients from donating to campaigns. The act passed in the House in June, but failed in the lame duck session in the Senate. In addition, a proposed ban on earmarks failed in the Senate November 30.
- Executive Orders – In June, President Obama issued an order banning lobbyists from advisory boards of federal departments and agencies. It also banned all gifts from lobbyists to executive branch appointees, appointees-turned-lobbyists from lobbying the branch for the duration of his administration, and tightened revolving door policies.
- Deaths – Patti Jo Baber, executive director of the American League of Lobbyists, passed in December. She was described as the “backbone” of the organization and a prominent member of the lobbying community.