NewsChannel 5 Investigates: Capitol Hill Corruption
Summary of Ethics Reform Law
(Story created: 2/15/06)
Tennessee lawmakers passed sweeping ethics reform during their special session. Here's a summary of the law's key provisions, as prepared by the House Republican Caucus:
Lobbyists will have to disclose if they have an immediate family member serving in the Tennessee General Assembly and their personal interests.
Lobbyists will be prohibited from being appointed to state boards and commissions.
Contingency fees will not be permitted in lobbyist contracts.
Legislators will not be allowed to serve as lobbyists for one year after departing service in the General Assembly.
Lobbyist full disclosure / must report aggregate money spent to influence legislation and compensation ranges and must register subject matters lobbied for employers.
Ethics training expanded to lobbyists.
No lobbyist can contribute personally, including in kind contributions, to campaigns for legislators or governor.
Lobbyist definition changed to reflect someone who is at the Capitol 10 days annually.
Audits: 2% of registration statements, amendments and reports subject to random audits and lobbyist's employers if probable cause as determined by the registry.
Registration statement of employers of lobbyists required to indicate they have received ethics manuals as required by bill.
Lobbyist photos on on-line.
Add school boards, utility districts, counts and cities as government employers that are not construed to be "employers of lobbyists."
Lobbyists must disclose credit card expenditures.
Open meetings - will use the senate version of committee meetings to determine.
Caucuses will be required to provide disclosures of contributions and expenditures, $1,000 floor.
Post legislative votes and committee and subcommittee votes in a timely manner.
Take audio recordings of subcommittee meetings.
(Rinks amendment) Employers of lobbyist may pay up to $50 per event per day with $100 annual limit only to members who do not receive per diem allowance.
If per diem is received, a member may not receive any food, refreshments, meals or beverages that are provided in connection with the in-state event that are not offered to other
The limitation will be increased to the nearest $1 amount to reflect the CPI index, every odd year beginning January 1 2007.
No prohibition on lobbyists hosting events.
Lobbyists may dine with legislators paid for by nonregulated parties only if the lobbyist did not arrange the dinner.
Audits: 2% of candidates and candidate's committees will by subject to random audits.
Require all candidates that receive $1,000 or more to file online.
Adds governor to fundraising ban during session and special.
Ban on special session contributions.
One-year revolving door for legislators, governor, cabinet, cabinet level staff executive branch officials.
An official of the legislative branch should not place a relative in a position where he or she is the direct supervisor.
Clarifies that a candidate must pay all outstanding fines by qualifying deadline to run for office.
Campaign money could be used for scholarship fund if it is an existing fund or trust.
Limit cash contributions to $50.
Allow admission tickets to be purchased from campaign funds if considered a legitimate campaign expenditure.
Six campaign finance disclosures in an election year and two in a nonelection year for both candidates and PACs.
Adds provision that imposes federal aggregate campaign contribution limits on individuals to $101,400 per election cycle, with no more than $40,000 toward candidates and $61,400 toward political campaign committees or multicandidate political action committees. The aggregate limit increases with CPI.
As amended by Chairman Sargent, there will be a Registry of Election Finance and a separate Ethics Commission with equal representation as follows: One D and one R picked by Governor; one each from the House and Senate caucuses.
Local governments allowed to formulate own ethics rules.
Penalty structure for ethics violations will be similar to registry.
Confidentiality of ethics commission proceedings will be preserved.
Will use the Sen. Harper amendment regarding the structure of ethics complaints.
Ethics training for members of the Tennessee General Assembly, Ethics Commission and Registry.
Require Ethics Commission to publish manuals and post them online.
Legislators, Constitutional officers and Executive Office officials' statements of interest and expense reports available online.
Candidates should with best efforts disclose employer and occupation of itemized contributors.
Adds constitutional officers to those who must file statement of interest disclosures and out of state consulting contracts, $200 floor.
Member reimbursements by the state for travel and per diem will be posted online.