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Litigation We’re Watching

Travis v. Brand – (CA Supreme Court, No. S268480). On January 30, 2022, the California Supreme Court held that defendants prevailing in lawsuits against them under the Political Reform Act may only recover attorney’s fees if the court finds that the “action was objectively without foundation when brought, or the plaintiff continued to litigate after it clearly became so.” The Court reasoned that while defending against meritorious actions is a normal cost to political participation, imposing the asymmetrical standard favoring prevailing plaintiffs when awarding attorney’s fees will maximize “the number of meritorious suits through the Political Reform Act’s private enforcement mechanism.” The Court’s holding is inline with earlier interpretations of similar attorney’s fees statutes in fair housing and employment laws.

News from Election and Ethics Agencies

Federal Election Commission News – Beginning March 1, 2023, new Federal Election Commission internet disclaimer rules become effective. The regulations clarify how the disclaimer requirements apply to various types of internet public communications and allow certain internet communications to display disclaimers through alternative technological means. On March 22, 2023, the Federal Election Commission will hold a hearing on proposed changes to regulations regarding the use of campaign funds by a candidate’s principal campaign committee to pay compensation to the candidate. The Commission will be considering amending its regulations regarding the use of campaign funds to pay candidates’ compensation, including salaries, health insurance premiums, and dependent care costs.

New Legislation

New State Legislation – The following legislation was introduced ahead of last month’s bill introduction deadline. AB 63: requires an elections official, beginning no later than the Thursday following the election until submission of a certified statement of the results, to post updated information regarding the election on their website at least 3 times per week, which must include specified information.