March 24, 2021 •
Campaign Finance National: “Congressional Fundraisers Lobby Corporations That Suspended Political Donations Following Capitol Riot” by Brian Schwartz (CNBC) for MSN Nevada: “Ex-Lawmaker Charged with Misusing Funds, False Records” by Michelle Price for Associated Press News Ethics National: “Trump Officials Hindered […]
National: “Congressional Fundraisers Lobby Corporations That Suspended Political Donations Following Capitol Riot” by Brian Schwartz (CNBC) for MSN
Nevada: “Ex-Lawmaker Charged with Misusing Funds, False Records” by Michelle Price for Associated Press News
National: “Trump Officials Hindered at Least Nine Key Oversight Probes, Watchdogs Said. Some May Finally Be Released in Coming Months.” by Lisa Rein, Tom Hamburger, Michael Laris, and John Hudson (Washington Post) for MSN
Georgia: “Female Lawmakers in Georgia File Sexual Harassment Complaint After Lewd Comments” by Aimee Sachs for Courthouse News Service
National: “Intern Pay Was Supposed to Boost Diversity in Congress. Most of the Money Went to White Students” by Jim Saska (Roll Call) for MSN
Vermont: “Zoom Boom: Will Statehouse livestreaming continue when lawmakers return?” by Kit Norton for VTDigger.org
Colorado: “Aurora Lawmakers Sold on Lobbyist Reform, Delivery Fee Caps and Tax-Free Menstrual Products” by Grant Stringer for Sentinel Colorado
Missouri: “St. Charles County Lawmaker Wants to Impose Tough Ethics Rules – on St. Louis City Elected Officials” by Kurt Erickson for St. Louis Post-Dispatch
New Mexico: “Lobbyist Caught Swearing During Virtual Senate Finance Committee Meeting” by Brady Wakayama for KRQE
March 23, 2021 •
Campaign Finance Kentucky: “Second Person Charged with Lying to Jury, FBI in Case Connected to Lexington Council” by Beth Musgrave for Lexington Herald-Leader Elections National: “Widows Describe What It’s Like Running for Congress” by Paul Fontello (Roll Call) for MSN […]
Kentucky: “Second Person Charged with Lying to Jury, FBI in Case Connected to Lexington Council” by Beth Musgrave for Lexington Herald-Leader
National: “Widows Describe What It’s Like Running for Congress” by Paul Fontello (Roll Call) for MSN
National: “Rep. Tom Reed Apologizes for Sexual Misconduct Detailed in Post Report, Won’t Challenge Cuomo in 2022” by Beth Reinhard (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Access, Influence and Pardons: How a Set of Allies Shaped Trump’s Choices” by Kenenth Vogel and Nicholas Confessore for New York Times
Maryland: “Following Monthly Exposé, Maryland House Passes Bill Targeting Hogan’s Business Dealings” by Eric Cortellessa for Washington Monthly
South Carolina: “An SC Councilman’s Company Did Work for His City for Years. No One Asked Questions.” by Stephen Hobbs and Thad Moore for Charleston Post and Courier
Wisconsin: “Bill Would Require Legislators and Their Staff to Stop Deleting Public Records” by Melanie Conklin for Wisconsin Examiner
Washington DC: “‘It’s Not a Local Issue Anymore’: D.C. statehood moves from political fringe to the center of the national Democratic agenda” by Mike DeBonis and Meagan Flynn (Washington Post) for MSN
Nevada: “Lobbyists Must Register, Report; Still Can’t Enter Legislature” by Jerri Davis for This Is Reno
March 22, 2021 •
Campaign Finance Connecticut: “Ex-GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Steve Obsitnik Fined $90,000 by Election Enforcement Agency for 2018 Campaign Financing Irregularities” by Jon Lender (Hartford Courant) for MSN Georgia: “Georgia Bill for New Leadership Money Heads to Governor” by Staff for Associated […]
Connecticut: “Ex-GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Steve Obsitnik Fined $90,000 by Election Enforcement Agency for 2018 Campaign Financing Irregularities” by Jon Lender (Hartford Courant) for MSN
Georgia: “Georgia Bill for New Leadership Money Heads to Governor” by Staff for Associated Press News
New Jersey: “Former Candidate Tied to N.J. Corruption Case Gets Probation Over $10K Campaign Contribution” by Ted Sherman (NJ Advance Media) for Newark Star Ledger
National: “For Political Cartoonists, the Irony Was That Facebook Didn’t Recognize Irony” by Mike Isaac for New York Times
National: “Many House Members Averse to Cooperating with OCE, Study Shows” by Chris Marquette (Roll Call) for MSN
Ohio: “Florida Authorities Say Columbus Lobbyist’s Death an Apparent Suicide” by Andrew Tobias for Cleveland Plain Dealer
South Carolina: “SC AG Alan Wilson’s Office Gives Public Corruption Cases to Upstate Prosecutor” by John Monk (The State) for MSN
Texas: “Texas’s Chief Energy Regulator Fiercely Defended Fossil Fuels After Historic Blackouts. She Also Profits from Oil and Gas.” by Neena Santija and Aaron Gregg (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Court Reinstates Guilty Verdicts Against Flynn Partner Over Turkey Lobbying” by Josh Gerstein for Politico
March 19, 2021 •
National/Federal Army Initially Pushed to Deny District’s Request for National Guard Before Jan. 6 MSN – Paul Sonne, Peter Hermann, Ellen Nakashima, and Matt Zapotosky (Washington Post) | Published: 3/16/2021 The Army pushed to reject the District of Columbia’s request for […]
Army Initially Pushed to Deny District’s Request for National Guard Before Jan. 6
MSN – Paul Sonne, Peter Hermann, Ellen Nakashima, and Matt Zapotosky (Washington Post) | Published: 3/16/2021
The Army pushed to reject the District of Columbia’s request for a modest National Guard presence ahead of the January 6 rally that led to the Capitol riot, underscoring the reluctance of some at the Pentagon to involve the military in security arrangements that day. In an internal draft memo, the Army said the U.S. military should not be needed to help police with traffic and crowd management, as city officials had requested, unless more than 100,000 demonstrators were expected. The memo said the request should be denied because a federal agency had not been identified to run the preparations and on-the-day operations; the resources of other federal agencies had not been exhausted; and law enforcement was “far better suited” for the task.
Brussels Lobbying Business Picks Up Despite Pandemic
Politico – Lily Bayer | Published: 3/10/2021
Not even a pandemic can keep European Union (EU) lobbyists down for long. While some endured revenue falls and staff cuts after the coronavirus crisis first hit, consultancies and other lobbying outfits have become increasingly active since then. Some of the uptick is due to the crisis itself. Private sector clients and others are eager to influence the EU’s post-coronavirus recovery plans. Some of it is due to Brussels entering what are traditionally the busiest years of a legislative cycle, with the European Commission in its second year in office.
Corporate PAC Donations to Parties and Candidates Plummet after Capitol Riot
MSN – Kate Ackley and Herb Jackson (Roll Call) | Published: 3/16/2021
Campaign finance data show companies and organizations largely stuck to their public pledges to pause at least some of their political donations after a pro-Trump mob attacked the Capitol and 147 Republicans in the House and Senate voted to reject electoral votes from certain states that President Biden won. The coronavirus pandemic also put a dent in giving during the earliest weeks of this year. But PACs would normally use checks in January after an election year to introduce themselves to new office holders, help candidates build up funds to scare away potential challengers or to retire old campaign debt, and assist party committees gearing up for another campaign cycle. Disclosures from 2021 show this did not happen.
House Committee Seeks Financial Records for Trump’s Washington Hotel
MSN – Jonathan O’Connell and David Fahrenthold (Washington Post) | Published: 3/16/2021
A House committee asked the Biden administration to provide detailed financial records on former President Trump’s Washington, D.C. hotel, which is in a federally owned building and must give the government financial data as part of its lease. The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee first asked for records on the hotel in 2019. But for two years, while Trump’s administration was the Trump International Hotel’s landlord, the government refused to hand them over. Those records, if made public, would reveal the inner workings of a hotel that became a place where the sitting president’s company could be paid by foreign governments, Republican allies, and companies with business before the Trump administration.
House GOP Super PAC Launches Hard-Money Arm
Politico – Zach Montellaro | Published: 3/17/2021
The Congressional Leadership Fund, the super PAC with close ties to House Republican leadership, is launching a hard-money arm that will allow it to endorse and contribute directly to candidates and members of Congress. The effort, dubbed the CLF Trailblazers Fund, marks a new step for the high-spending super PAC that will allow it to have a more direct role in congressional races, potentially including GOP primaries.
How 535,000 Covid Deaths Spurred Political Awakenings Across America
New York Times – Maggie Astor | Published: 3/17/2021
Many people who have lost loved ones, or whose lives have been upended by long-haul symptoms of COVID-19, have turned to political action, seeking answers and new policies from a government whose failures under the Trump administration allowed the U.S. to become one of the hardest hit countries by the pandemic. Dozens recently participated in an advocacy training session over Zoom, run by a group called Covid Survivors for Change. The group organized virtual meetings with the offices of 16 U.S. senators and more than 50 group members lobbied for the coronavirus relief package.
‘I Still Don’t Feel Safe’: House lawmakers adjust to metal detectors, new normal
MSN – Chris Cioffi (Roll Call) | Published: 3/12/2021
Since January, lawmakers have been queuing up at the chamber doors, rummaging through their pockets, and sliding bags and other belongings across a table before they walk through the metal detectors. It is a common sight at sports stadiums or concert venues, less so in the U.S. House. Two months later, the outrage has cooled somewhat, but a question remains: Is this the new normal? Republicans who once made a scene, shouting at Capitol Police or dodging the screenings, are now complying as quietly as they would at the airport. They may not be happy about it, but it is starting to feel routine.
‘Manels’ Flourished During Key Period in Congress, Research Finds
MSN – Jim Saska (Roll Call) | Published: 3/16/2021
When U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa convened a hearing on birth control with mostly male witnesses in 2012, some Democratic women staged a walkout. Less noticed is the lack of women in more mundane settings, where the effects of gender are not as obvious. Caroline Bruckner of American University wanted to see who got a voice at the witness table as Republicans pushed through an overhaul of the tax code. There were 12 hearings and just 19 percent of the witnesses were women. Five of the hearings featured only men. Bruckner is looking at past panels, working with a team of other researchers at American University to track gender representation at legislative hearings for 15 committees going back 10 years.
Putin Targeted People Close to Trump in Bid to Influence 2020 Election, U.S. Intelligence Says
Seattle Times – Ellen Nakashima (Washington Post) | Published: 3/16/2021
Russian President Vladimir Putin and other senior officials in Moscow sought to influence the 2020 election by spreading misleading information about Joe Biden through prominent individuals, some of whom were close to former President Trump, the U.S. intelligence community said in a report. It does not identify those individuals by name, but it appears to reference Trump’s onetime personal lawyer Rudolph Giuliani, whose repeated meetings with a suspected Russian agent came under scrutiny by U.S. officials. While foreign disinformation and interference was a major concern heading into the 2020 campaign, domestic efforts to disrupt the race, including by Trump and his allies, turned out to be of greater significance.
Two Arrested in Assault on Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick, Who Died After Jan. 6 Capitol Riot
MSN – Spencer Hsu and Peter Hermann (Washington Post) | Published: 3/15/2021
Federal authorities arrested and charged two men with assaulting U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick with bear spray during the January 6 Capitol riot but have not determined whether the exposure caused his death. Julian Khater and George Tanios are charged with nine counts including assaulting three officers with a deadly weapon. They are also charged with civil disorder and obstruction of a congressional proceeding. The charges are punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – Arizona Lawmakers Move to Block Private Funds for Elections
Arizona Daily Star – Howard Fischer (Capitol News Services) | Published: 3/15/2021
Raising the specter of Mark Zuckerberg influencing who holds office in Arizona, Republican lawmakers moved to block counties from taking money from any private source to help run future elections. The party-line vote by the Senate Government Committee follows the disclosure that nine Arizona counties got more than $6 million last year from the Center for Tech and Civic Life. The grants were to help defray some of the costs of running an election during the COVID-19 pandemic, said Jennifer Marson, executive director for the Arizona Association of Counties.
California – Bill to Increase Transparency of Lobbying Activities Passed in Senate Committee
California Globe – Evan Symon | Published: 3/16/2021
Legislation that would increase the transparency of lobbying activities in Sacramento was approved by the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee. Senate Bill 305 would allow electronic signatures on lobbyist registration forms and documents. Presently, a handwritten signature is required. The forms are also currently restricted to be handed in-person at the secretary of state’s office or sent through the mail. Sen. Brian Jones introduced the bill because of the delay current procedures have on keeping the public informed.
California – French Laundry Friend Now Banned from Lobbying California Gov. Gavin Newsom
MSN – Sophia Bollag (Sacramento Bee) | Published: 3/16/2021
California Gov. Gavin Newsom adopted an expanded lobbying ban for his political consultants, months after he drew criticism for dining with lobbyist Jason Kinney at an expensive restaurant in violation of his own pandemic restrictions. Under the new rules, appointees “with a high level of influence over the Administration’s policy decisions” are prohibited from accepting gifts from lobbyists. The rule applies to Newsom, First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, senior officials at agencies and departments, policy advisers, and “any equivalent position.” The administration also asked the Fair Political Practices Commission to maintain a list on its website of everyone registered to lobby Newsom and executive branch agencies.
California – Get Ready for California Recall to Break the Bank in 2021
Politico – Jeremy White | Published: 3/16/2021
Limitless money, a slew of candidates, and undivided national attention are about to converge in a battle for California’s future. An effort to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom is highly likely to qualify after supporters submit their last signatures. The ensuing campaign will be a melee free from the constraints that inhibit other statewide contests in California. Donation caps do not apply. Hundreds of millions of dollars are likely to inundate the state as the full might of California’s Democratic establishment vies with a concerted Republican effort to oust a humbled blue state leader.
California – Oakland’s Transparency Problem: Thousands of public records requests are backlogged
Vallejo Times Herald – Annie Sciacca | Published: 3/15/2021
When people try to obtain public records from the city of Oakland, especially police reports, many probably feel their requests have been tossed into the abyss. In more than 6,300 cases, the police department and other city offices either have not responded to record requests or have not supplied all the sought-after documents, according to a review of Oakland’s NextRequest portal, which pulls all the requests into one place. Under the California Public Records Act, government agencies must let people who request documents know within 10 days whether they possess them, intend to withhold them and, if so, on what legal basis. Agencies can extend the 10-day period another 14 days.
Colorado – Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman Sues City Over Recent Campaign Finance Changes
Canon City Daily Recortd – John Aguilar (Denver Post) | Published: 3/17/2021
Aurora Mayor Michael Coffman sued his own city, claiming a campaign finance reform measure passed by the city council last year is “designed to silence” him by barring officeholders in Aurora from organizing campaigns on behalf of candidates or ballot issues. The mayor said he supports the bulk of the ordinance, which limits individual donations to a candidate or his or her political committee to $400 per election cycle in a ward race and $1,000 in an at-large or mayoral race.
Florida – Florida Property Rights Bill Was Written by a Development Company
Tampa Bay Times – Zachary Sampson | Published: 3/16/2021
A bill in the Florida Legislature that would bolster a state property rights law that critics say already scares local governments away from protecting the environment was written by representatives of a major development business that has donated to its state Senate sponsor. Sen. Ray Rodrigues said he worked with a lobbyist for the Barron Collier Companies and Collier Enterprises Management to draft the proposal. An email shows the lobbyist passed along draft language from an executive at Barron Collier Companies, one branch of a real estate and investment empire left by Collier County’s namesake.
Florida – Police Raid Home of Former GOP Lawmaker Who Bragged About Planting No-Party Candidate
Miami Herald – Ana Ceballos, Samantha Gross, and David Ovalle | Published: 3/17/2021
Authorities raided the house of former Florida Sen. Frank Artiles. He is believed to be tied to a state investigation involving a sham no-party candidate who likely swayed the outcome of a key 2020 Miami-Dade state Senate race. While details remain sealed, it was reported that Artiles got involved in the Senate District 37 race when he recruited and boasted about planting Alex Rodriguez, an auto-parts dealer, to run in the race. Rodriguez was on the ballot as a no-party candidate, shared the same surname as the incumbent Democrat, and his mysterious candidacy has been under investigation since November.
Hawaii – Hawaii Lawmakers Seek Exemption from Political Ad Disclosures
Honolulu Civil Beat – Blaze Lovell | Published: 3/18/2021
The public could have less transparency in elections and less insight into what political advertisements candidates are paying for under a pair of measures moving through the Hawaii Legislature. House Bill 144 and House Bill 674 would exempt candidates from filing reports on ads with the state. That law was intended to shine a light on how much money candidates and political committees are spending on ads during election season to sway voters. Wording in the ad reporting law has confounded some campaigns and led to significant fines in recent years.
Illinois – At Trump’s Chicago Tower, Employees Got Vaccinated Early – Thanks to a Hospital Whose COO Lives in the Building
MSN – David Fahrenthold (Washington Post) | Published: 3/17/2021
Employees at former President Trump’s Chicago tower got early access to coronavirus vaccines, arranged by a hospital whose chief operating officer owns a $2.7 million condo in the building. Seventy-two employees of Trump’s hotel and condo tower were vaccinated on March 10 and 11, despite city guidelines saying hotel employees would not be eligible until March 29. The city asked for more details about the vaccination event from its organizer, Loretto Hospital. The small hospital is in a majority-Black neighborhood nine miles from Trump’s downtown tower and says its mission is to provide vaccines to the “minority communities hardest hit” by the pandemic.
Iowa – Iowa Extended Contact Tracing Contract with Company Owned by Republican Party Donor as Cases Plummeted
Associated Press News – Ryan Foley | Published: 3/12/2021
As coronavirus virus cases plummeted, Iowa quietly extended a $3.9 million contact tracing contract with a company owned by a major Republican Party donor and supporter of Gov. Kim Reynolds. After a one-day emergency bidding process in November, the state Department of Public Health hired MCI, a telemarketing firm, to trace the contacts of residents infected with COVID-19. The award of the two-month, $2.3 million contract came during a surge in cases that filled up hospitals with patients and after months of complaints from counties about a shortage of contact tracing workers. MCI performed telemarketing and data work for Donald Trump’s two presidential campaigns and also provided services for Reynolds’ political campaign.
Kentucky – ‘Not a Knee-Jerk Reaction.’ Legislators Say Ethics Bills Not Just Aimed at Beshear.
Lexington Herald-Leader – John Cheves | Published: 3/12/2021
The Kentucky Legislature is moving two government ethics bills aimed at Gov. Andy Beshear – but also, lawmakers, say, at future governors from both parties who will follow him. The House appeared poised to give final passage to Senate Bill 6, which would create ethics rules for the people who work on transition teams for newly elected governors and other state constitutional officers, such as attorneys general and state auditors. The other measure is House Bill 454, which would reorganize the Executive Branch Ethics Commission, the panel that enforces a code of ethics on most of state government.
Maine – Legislation That Would Silence Foreign Companies During Maine Ballot Campaigns Gets First Look
Portland Press Herald – Scott Thistle | Published: 3/15/2021
A trio of bills seeking to silence the influence of foreign companies on statewide ballot questions in Maine drew support and opposition during a public hearing before the Legislature. At stake is an ongoing, $1 billion powerline-expansion project spearheaded by Central Maine Power Co. and Hydro-Quebec, an energy company owned and operated by the Canadian province of Quebec. The legislation, offered by both Republican and Democratic lawmakers, would prohibit Hydro-Quebec from spending in an attempt to influence the outcome of a ballot question in November that would require the Legislature approve the project. It has been approved by state and federal regulators.
Maryland – Baltimore Clarifies Rules to Govern Board of Estimates Votes, Abstentions
Yahoo News – Tim Prudente (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 3/13/2021
Baltimore’s Board of Ethics clarified the voting rules for the city spending panel, finding a member may in fact vote on matters pertaining to units of city government under his or her control. In a written opinion, the ethics panel concluded a 2013 change to city law limits instances in which members of the Board of Estimates must abstain from voting because of a conflict-of-interest. “… However, the BOE is free to adopt additional voting abstention policies to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest,” the opinion states.
Maryland – Ex-Baltimore Mayor’s Associate, the Final Defendant in ‘Healthy Holly’ Case, Sentenced to 2 Years in Prison
Yahoo News – Justin Fenton (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 3/4/2021
The final defendant in the case against former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh ended when the former director of a nonprofit job training center was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison on tax fraud charges. Roslyn Wedington was director of the Maryland Center for Adult Training, where Pugh served on the board of directors. Pugh aide Gary Brown helped Wedington earn an off-the-books salary so she could for years avoid paying taxes and wage garnishment. Brown was sentenced to 27 months in prison for his role, as well as a fraud scheme related to Pugh’s “Healthy Holly” children’s books. Pugh is serving a three-year sentence in federal prison.
Maryland – Unlike Many Other States, Maryland’s Legislature Is Moving to Make It Easier to Vote Early or by Mail
Yahoo News – Pamela Wood (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 3/12/2021
Inspired by – or perhaps infuriated by – the contentious 2020 presidential election, Maryland lawmakers are pushing dozens of bills to change the way the state’s voters cast their ballots. Maryland’s Democrat-led General Assembly is moving to make it easier to vote by mail and to vote early, partially driven by the pandemic election that saw record turnout in the state by those means. Republican lawmakers, who are significantly outnumbered in Annapolis, are pushing bills they say would cut down on voter fraud, such as requiring identification at the polls and checking signatures on mailed ballots.
Michigan – Michigan Officials Dodge Transparency Reforms Enacted Elsewhere, Reject Dozens of Bills
Yahoo – Craig Mauger (Detroit News) | Published: 3/16/2021
The Michigan Legislature has rejected more than 130 bills aimed at boosting transparency and ethics in government since a national nonprofit organization rated the state last in the subjects six years ago. The statistic shows Michigan officeholders’ ongoing resistance to laws that would provide the public more information about their decisions, including disclosing their communications and revealing potential conflicts-of-interest. Similar measures have already been enacted in most other states. But proponents of the reforms hope the tides are changing in Michigan.
New Jersey – N.J. Mayor Weighs November Re-Election Bid – When He’ll Be 97
Newark Star Ledger – Steve Strunsky (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 3/15/2021
In the summer of 2017, when Vito Perillo was 92, he resolved to do something about Tinton Falls’ steadily increasing property taxes, a rise documented by saving every one of his tax bills since 1980, the year he retired as a civilian defense employee. He ran and won the mayor race in the Monmouth County borough. Four years later, with Perillo’s first term expiring at the end of the year, he must decide whether to seek a second term in November. Perillo, one of the oldest mayors in the state and the nation, if not the oldest, will be 97 years old at that point.
New York – A Father’s Gift to a Mayoral Candidate: A $1 Million Super PAC
New York Times – Dana Rubinstein | Published: 3/17/2021
With New York City’s mayoral primary a little more than three months away and a deadline to qualify for the city’s matching-funds program having just passed, pleas for donations have been in overdrive in recent days. But in the background, another spigot of money has opened for two Democratic candidates who are trailing in early polls. An independent expenditure committee for Raymond McGuire, a former Wall Street executive, has garnered more than $3 million, with more than 70 donations from business magnates. A new super PAC for Donovan, a former cabinet member in the Obama administration, has drawn $1.02 million from just two donors – the primary benefactor being his father, Michael Donovan, who donated $1 million.
New York – Cuomo Impeachment Probe Authorized by New York Assembly Speaker as Sexual Harassment Claims Grow
MSN – Dan Mangan (CNBC) | Published: 3/11/2021
The speaker of the New York Assembly authorized an impeachment investigation into allegations of misconduct by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has been the subject of multiple sexual harassment claims in recent weeks. The probe was set in motion hours after more than 50 Democratic state lawmakers, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, and the National Organization for Women demanded Cuomo resign. The developments came a day after a newspaper reported a member of Cuomo’s staff had accused him of aggressively groping her in the governor’s mansion last year.
New York – New York’s Vaccine Czar Called County Officials to Gauge Their Loyalty to Cuomo Amid Sexual Harassment Investigation
MSN – Amy Brittain and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 3/14/2021
New York’s “vaccine czar,” an adviser to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, phoned county officials recently in attempts to gauge their loyalty to the embattled governor amid an ongoing sexual harassment investigation, according to officials. One Democratic county executive was so unsettled by the outreach from Larry Schwartz, head of the state’s vaccine rollout, that the executive filed notice of an impending ethics complaint with the public integrity unit of the state attorney general’s office. The executive feared the county’s vaccine supply could suffer if Schwartz was not pleased with the executive’s response to his questions about support of the governor.
New York – Report: Rochester police, mayor ‘knowingly suppressed’ information in Prude case
National Public Radio – Vanessa Romo | Published: 3/12/2021
Rochester city officials, including the former police chief and the mayor, “knowingly suppressed” information from getting to the public, and some officials made “untrue statements” about the events leading to the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man experiencing a mental health episode who was asphyxiated by police while restrained and handcuffed. An independent report chronicles how ex-Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary and Mayor Lovely Warren, over the course of more than five months, took deliberate steps to avoid disclosing the disturbing nature of the encounter between Prude and the officers.
Ohio – Advocates Call for Greater Transparency in Ohio Campaign Contributions Raised by Lobbyists
Cleveland Plain Dealer – Andrew Tobias | Published: 3/16/2021
Common Cause Ohio wants the state to require lobbyists to disclose fundraising they coordinate on behalf of politicians, saying the change would give voters a better idea which groups are trying to influence state policy through their campaign money. Ohio currently requires lobbyists to disclose the money they spend entertaining elected officials. State campaign finance laws require political donors to disclose their name, address, and employer. But those requirements do not reflect the lobbyists who may coordinate the donations.
Ohio – Cincinnati Elections Commission Reverses Decision, Tightens Contribution Rules. It Could Cost Aftab Pureval
MSN – Scott Wartman (Cincinnati Enquirer) | Published: 3/11/2021
The Cincinnati Elections Commission reversed its January decision on the rules for use of previous campaign contributions for mayoral candidates. The board decided individual donors to mayoral and council candidates cannot exceed the $1,100 campaign contribution limits for any race going back four years to the previous mayoral race. The vote reverses a decision from that said candidates could use funds raised in non-city races before the previous general election.
Ohio – Federal Utility Regulator Investigates FirstEnergy’s Lobbying on House Bill 6
MSN – Jesse Balmart (Cincinnati Enquirer) | Published: 3/17/2021
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is looking into how FirstEnergy lobbied for a $1 billion nuclear bailout in 2019. The FERC, which is tasked with regulating utilities like FirstEnergy, is investigating the company’s lobbying on House Bill 6, a bill that overhauled Ohio’s energy policies and included $1 billion in subsidies for two nuclear plants in the state, then-owned by FirstEnergy Solutions. FirstEnergy was directed to preserve documents and information related to lobbying. This investigation is in addition to an ongoing FERC audit of FirstEnergy.
Ohio – Ohio Supreme Court Will Hear Argument of ‘Political Retribution’ by LaRose Against Summit County GOP Chair
MSN – Doug Livingtston (Akron Beacon Journal) | Published: 3/15/2021
The Summit County Republican Party is accusing Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose of spinning “inaccurate and incomplete” facts to “exact political retribution” against its local leader. LaRose rejected the reappointment of Bryan Williams, who is vice president of the state central committee and chairperson of the Summit County GOP, to another four years on the Summit County Board of Elections. LaRose gave the party’s county executive committee a deadline to give him another name for the open seat. Local party leaders met and voted to sue LaRose instead.
South Dakota – South Dakota Legislature Adopts Bill Barring Public Agencies from Collecting, Releasing Information About Nonprofit Donors
Ballotpedia – Staff | Published: 3/16/2021
The South Dakota Legislature approved a bill that would bar public agencies from requiring individuals or groups to disclose identifying information about a nonprofit’s donors, clearing the way for Gov. Kristi Noem’s signature. Senate Bill 103 would bar any public agency, including state and municipal government units and courts, from requiring a current or prospective contractor to provide a public agency with a list of the nonprofits “to which it has provided financial or nonfinancial support,” among other provisions. The legislation does not bar public agencies from furnishing personal information about a nonprofit’s donors or supporters for campaign finance reporting requirements.
Utah – Secretive Out-of-State Group Pushes Bill That Makes It Harder to Get a Voter Initiative on the Ballot
MSN – Bethany Rodgers (Salt Lake Tribune) | Published: 3/11/2021
This legislative session, supporters of a bill tightening the rules for ballot initiatives stressed that the measure would protect Utah from the influence of outside interests, which have previously dumped money into signature-gathering campaigns on medical cannabis and Medicaid expansion. What some state lawmakers might not have realized was this legislation was promoted by a shadowy, out-of-state group called the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA). While ballot initiative campaigns must disclose their donors, the public has no idea which wealthy benefactors might have helped the FGA advance its political agenda in Utah, said Spencer Stokes, a state lobbyist and the co-owner of a signature-gathering firm.
Virginia – Northam Restores Voting Rights for 69,000 with Felony Convictions
MSN – Gregory Schneider (Washington Post) | Published: 3/16/2021
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam restored the voting rights of 69,000 people convicted of felonies under a policy change that speeds up the process, no longer requiring former prisoners to go through lengthy probations before qualifying to seek restoration. Virginia is one of a handful of states that permanently disenfranchise all those convicted of felonies unless they have their rights restored by the governor. This year, Virginia’s General Assembly gave preliminary approval to a constitutional amendment that would automatically restore voting rights for felons as soon as they complete their incarceration. In the meantime, Northam said he was taking a cue from that proposal and changing the timing of his process, reviewing rights as soon as someone is freed.
Washington – Washington AG Bob Ferguson Wants an Additional $2.8 Million in Legal Fees from Tim Eyman
Spokane Spokesman-Review – David Gutman (Seattle Times) | Published: 3/12/2021
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson wants an additional $2.8 million in legal fees and costs related to his lawsuit against anti-tax initiative promoter Tim Eyman. The lawsuit dragged on because of what Ferguson called Eyman’s “cost-inflating, frivolous, obstructive and defiant litigation tactics.” Eyman was found liable recently of “numerous and particularly egregious” violations of campaign finance law for laundering political donations to enrich himself, accepting kickbacks from a signature-gathering firm, secretly shuttling money between initiative campaigns, and concealing the source of other political contributions.
March 18, 2021 •
Campaign Finance Colorado: “Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman Sues City Over Recent Campaign Finance Changes” by John Aguilar (Denver Post) for Canon City Daily Record Hawaii: “Hawaii Lawmakers Seek Exemption from Political Ad Disclosures” by Blaze Lovell for Honolulu Civil Beat […]
Colorado: “Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman Sues City Over Recent Campaign Finance Changes” by John Aguilar (Denver Post) for Canon City Daily Record
Hawaii: “Hawaii Lawmakers Seek Exemption from Political Ad Disclosures” by Blaze Lovell for Honolulu Civil Beat
South Dakota: “South Dakota Legislature Adopts Bill Barring Public Agencies from Collecting, Releasing Information About Nonprofit Donors” by Staff for Ballotpedia
National: “Putin Targeted People Close to Trump in Bid to Influence 2020 Election, U.S. Intelligence Says” by Ellen Nakashima (Washington Post) for Seattle Times
Florida: “Police Raid Home of Former GOP Lawmaker Who Bragged About Planting No-Party Candidate” by Ana Ceballos, Samantha Gross, and David Ovalle for Miami Herald
Virginia: “Northam Restores Voting Rights for 69,000 with Felony Convictions” by Gregory Schneider (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “House Committee Seeks Financial Records for Trump’s Washington Hotel” by Jonathan O’Connell and David Fahrenthold (Washington Post) for MSN
Illinois: “At Trump’s Chicago Tower, Employees Got Vaccinated Early – Thanks to a Hospital Whose COO Lives in the Building” by David Fahrenthold (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “French Laundry Friend Now Banned from Lobbying California Gov. Gavin Newsom” by Sophia Bollag (Sacramento Bee) for MSN
California: “Bill to Increase Transparency of Lobbying Activities Passed in Senate Committee” by Evan Symon for California Globe
Ohio: “Federal Utility Regulator Investigates FirstEnergy’s Lobbying on House Bill 6” by Jesse Balmart (Cincinnati Enquirer) for MSN
March 17, 2021 •
Campaign Finance National: “Corporate PAC Donations to Parties and Candidates Plummet after Capitol Riot” by Kate Ackley and Herb Jackson (Roll Call) for MSN Elections Arizona: “Arizona Lawmakers Move to Block Private Funds for Elections” by Howard Fischer (Capitol News […]
National: “Corporate PAC Donations to Parties and Candidates Plummet after Capitol Riot” by Kate Ackley and Herb Jackson (Roll Call) for MSN
Arizona: “Arizona Lawmakers Move to Block Private Funds for Elections” by Howard Fischer (Capitol News Servies) for Arizona Daily Star
New Jersey: “N.J. Mayor Weighs November Re-Election Bid – When He’ll Be 97” by Steve Strunsky (NJ Advance Media) for Newark Star Ledger
National: “Army Initially Pushed to Deny District’s Request for National Guard Before Jan. 6” by Paul Sonne, Peter Hermann, Ellen Nakashima, and Matt Zapotosky (Washington Post) for MSN
Michigan: “Michigan Officials Dodge Transparency Reforms Enacted Elsewhere, Reject Dozens of Bills” by Craig Mauger (Detroit News) for Yahoo
Ohio: “Ohio Supreme Court Will Hear Argument of ‘Political Retribution’ by LaRose Against Summit County GOP Chair” by Doug Livingtston (Akron Beacon Journal) for MSN
National: “‘Manels’ Flourished During Key Period in Congress, Research Finds” by Jim Saska (Roll Call) for MSN
Florida: “Florida Property Rights Bill Was Written by a Development Company” by Zachary Sampson for Tampa Bay Times
Ohio: “Advocates Call for Greater Transparency in Ohio Campaign Contributions Raised by Lobbyists” by Andrew Tobias for Cleveland Plain Dealer
March 16, 2021 •
Campaign Finance Maine: “Legislation That Would Silence Foreign Companies During Maine Ballot Campaigns Gets First Look” by Scott Thistle for Portland Press Herald Elections National: “For Voting Rights Advocates, a ‘Once in a Generation Moment’ Looms” by Nicholas Fandos and […]
Maine: “Legislation That Would Silence Foreign Companies During Maine Ballot Campaigns Gets First Look” by Scott Thistle for Portland Press Herald
National: “For Voting Rights Advocates, a ‘Once in a Generation Moment’ Looms” by Nicholas Fandos and Michael Wines for New York Times
Missouri: “‘Clear and Present Danger’: Republicans fret about Greitens’ comeback” by Alex Isenstadt for Politico
National: “Two Arrested in Assault on Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick, Who Died After Jan. 6 Capitol Riot” by Spencer Hsu and Peter Hermann (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “Oakland’s Transparency Problem: Thousands of public records requests are backlogged” by Annie Sciacca for Vallejo Times Herald
Iowa: “Iowa Extended Contact Tracing Contract with Company Owned by Republican Party Donor as Cases Plummeted” by Ryan Foley for Associated Press News
Maryland: “Baltimore Clarifies Rules to Govern Board of Estimates Votes, Abstentions” by Tim Prudente (Baltimore Sun) for Yahoo News
New York: “New York’s Vaccine Czar Called County Officials to Gauge Their Loyalty to Cuomo Amid Sexual Harassment Investigation” by Amy Brittain and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) for MSN
New York: “Report: Rochester police, mayor ‘knowingly suppressed’ information in Prude case” by Vanessa Romo for National Public Radio
March 15, 2021 •
Campaign Finance Ohio: “Cincinnati Elections Commission Reverses Decision, Tightens Contribution Rules. It Could Cost Aftab Pureval” by Scott Wartman (Cincinnati Enquirer) for MSN Utah: “Secretive Out-of-State Group Pushes Bill That Makes It Harder to Get a Voter Initiative on the […]
Ohio: “Cincinnati Elections Commission Reverses Decision, Tightens Contribution Rules. It Could Cost Aftab Pureval” by Scott Wartman (Cincinnati Enquirer) for MSN
Utah: “Secretive Out-of-State Group Pushes Bill That Makes It Harder to Get a Voter Initiative on the Ballot” by Bethany Rodgers (Salt Lake Tribune) for MSN
Washington: “Washington AG Bob Ferguson Wants an Additional $2.8 Million in Legal Fees from Tim Eyman” by David Gutman (Seattle Times) for Spokane Spokesman-Review
Maryland: “Unlike Many Other States, Maryland’s Legislature Is Moving to Make It Easier to Vote Early or by Mail” by Pamela Wood (Baltimore Sun) for Yahoo News
Kentucky: “‘Not a Knee-Jerk Reaction.’ Legislators Say Ethics Bills Not Just Aimed at Beshear.” by John Cheves for Lexington Herald-Leader
New York: “Cuomo Impeachment Probe Authorized by New York Assembly Speaker as Sexual Harassment Claims Grow” by Dan Mangan (CNBC) for MSN
National: “‘I Still Don’t Feel Safe’: House lawmakers adjust to metal detectors, new normal” by Chris Cioffi (Roll Call) for MSN
Europe: “Brussels Lobbying Business Picks Up Despite Pandemic” by Lily Bayer for Politico
March 12, 2021 •
National/Federal Another Oath Keeper with Links to Roger Stone Charged in Capitol Riot Politico – Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein | Published: 3/9/2021 A second member of the Oath Keepers militia who provided security to longtime Donald Trump adviser Roger Stone […]
Another Oath Keeper with Links to Roger Stone Charged in Capitol Riot
Politico – Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein | Published: 3/9/2021
A second member of the Oath Keepers militia who provided security to longtime Donald Trump adviser Roger Stone has been charged with storming and breaching the Capitol. Joshua James, who has been seen in photos flanking Stone ahead of the riot, was later seen on camera inside the building amid a crush of rioters who overran police. The arrest, made public a day after prosecutors revealed they charged fellow Oath Keeper and Stone security guard Roberto Minuta for entering the Capitol, is the latest evidence that prosecutors are homing in on the extremist group with key ties to organizers of pro-Trump “Stop the Steal” events.
Biden Signs Executive Order Promoting Voting Rights on 56th Anniversary of ‘Bloody Sunday’
Seattle Times – Felicia Sonmez and Amy Gardner (Washington Post) | Published: 3/7/2021
President Biden signed an executive order aimed at promoting voting rights amid a push by Republican-led state Legislatures to roll back voting access in the wake of former President Trump’s 2020 loss and his baseless effort to cast doubt on the integrity of U.S. elections. The order comes on the 56th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” the day that state troopers violently beat hundreds of marchers, including John Lewis, the late civil rights icon who served as a Democratic member of Congress from Georgia, on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama.
Digging in as an All-GOP Firm in a Democratic Town
MSN – Kate Ackley (Roll Call) | Published: 3/4/2021
Many of K Street’s power players have gone in search of Democratic talent now that the party controls official Washington, D.C., but one shop went in a totally different direction, recruiting its newest partner from the Trump administration. The CGCN Group, an all-Republican lobbying and communications outfit, plans to remain a single-party firm, and unapologetically so, even though Democrats hold the Senate, House, and White House. The firm’s lobbyists and employees previously worked with lawmakers and officials who span the GOP’s ideological spectrum.
Feds Investigating Hagedorn Appearances on Minnesota Talk Radio Station
SouthernMinn.com – Daniel Newhauser (Minnesota Reformer) | Published: 3/5/2021
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is probing a news radio station’s financial relationship with U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn, questioning whether the station broke the law by allowing a man paid by Hagedorn’s campaign to interview the congressman on air. The investigation began after media reports on business dealings between Hagedorn and Al Travis Thielfoldt. Neither revealed during interviews on Thiefoldt’s show that Hagedorn had entrusted Thielfoldt with more than $1.4 million to place ads on local stations. The FCC is investigating whether Hagedorn’s campaign paid Thielfoldt or KTOE for the interviews, and whether the station violated the law by failing to publicly disclose the financial relationship between the men.
House Democrats End Controversial Consultant Ban
Politico – Ally Mutnick | Published: 3/9/2021
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is officially ending its controversial ban on political consultants who work with candidates challenging sitting Democratic incumbents, clinching a victory for progressives. Though it was in place for fewer than two years, it still stymied some liberal primary challengers. The policy forbade the committee from contracting with or recommending to any House campaign a consultant or firm who worked to primary a sitting Democratic incumbent. It spurred a strong backlash but was popular with members who are more prone to primary challenges and do not want their party apparatus, to which they pay dues, to enable their opponents.
House Restarts Push to Enforce Subpoena for Trump Financial Records
MSN – Todd Ruger (Roll Call) | Published: 3/4/2021
The federal courts have spent so long deciding whether House Democrats could subpoena Donald Trump’s personal financial records from his accounting firm that the ongoing legal saga has a new wrinkle: what changes now that he is a former president? The House Oversight and Reform Committee reissued the subpoena to Mazars USA in February, and it is identical to the one from 2019 that ultimately led the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a new test for when Congress could obtain those records.
Inside the Lincoln Project’s Secrets, Side Deals and Scandals
New York Times – Danny Hakim, Maggie Astor, and Jo Becker | Published: 3/8/2021
The Lincoln Project collected more than $87 million in donations and produced scores of viral videos that were intended to drive then-President Trump to distraction. The men who founded the Lincoln Project – Steve Schmidt, John Weaver, Reed Galen, and Rick Wilson – moved to set themselves up in the new enterprise, creating TLP Media last fall. Its aim was to transform the original project, a super PAC, into a far more lucrative venture. The behind-the-scenes moves by the founders showed that whatever their political goals, they were also privately taking steps to make money from the earliest stages and wanted to limit the number of people who would share in the spoils.
Oil Refiner Valero to Disclose Climate Lobbying After Criticism
MSN – Gerson Freitas Jr. and Saijel Kishan (Bloomberg) | Published: 3/3/2021
Valero Energy, one of the largest U.S. oil refiners, is planning to publish details of its climate lobbying activities after an investor pressed for more disclosure. Valero will release a report later this year. The decision follows discussions with Mercy Investment Services, which had filed a proposed shareholder resolution demanding to know how Valero’s lobbying aligns with global efforts to fight climate change. That resolution has now been withdrawn, Valero said.
Rep. Eric Swalwell Sues Trump Over Jan. 6 Riot, Alleging He Poses Risk of ‘Inciting Future Political Violence’
MSN – Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 3/4/2021
A House impeachment manager and intelligence subcommittee chairperson filed a federal lawsuit against former President Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Rudolph Giuliani, and U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, claiming they should be held liable for injuries and destruction caused by their incitement of the January 6 mob assault on the Capitol. U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell alleged Trump and his fellow speakers at a rally near the White House that day were directly responsible for mobilizing a crowd of tens of thousands of pro-Trump supporters to march on the Capitol and priming them for violence.
State Department Aide Appointed by Trump Stormed the Capitol, Beat Police with a Riot Shield, FBI Says
San Diego Union Tribune – Katie Shepherd (Washington Post) | Published: 3/5/2021
The FBI arrested Federico Klein, a political appointee of former President Trump, on charges he stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6, marking the first member of the administration arrested in connection with the insurrection. Klein was still employed at the State Department as a staff assistant when he joined a mob in a tunnel leading into the Capitol, the FBI said. Then he allegedly “physically and verbally engaged with the officers holding the line” at the building’s entrance, according to the complaint. After ignoring officers’ orders to move back, he assaulted officers with a riot shield that had been stolen from police, the complaint said, and then used the shield to wedge open a door into the Capitol.
Trump’s Fundraising Whiplash Highlights GOP’s Small-Donor Issue
MSN – Bridget Bowman (Roll Call) | Published: 3/10/2021
Donald Trump’s conflicting statements about whether Republican campaign committees can use his likeness to fundraise has underscored a broader problem facing the GOP: tapping into the grassroots donors who fueled the former president’s record-breaking campaign hauls. While GOP candidates have tried to tap into grassroots fundraising, Trump has energized small-dollar donors for his own campaign. In recent days, he has threatened to cut Republican campaign committees off from using his name to fundraise.
U.S. House Republicans May Follow Democrats in Rebooting Shamed ‘Earmarks’
Reuters – Jarret Renshaw | Published: 3/9/2021
U.S. House Republicans are weighing whether to join Democrats in getting back into earmarks, the practice of loading spending bills with legislators’ pet projects. Sources said sentiment is growing in the GOP toward embracing earmarks roughly a decade after the party decided to scrap the long-standing practice amid a raft of high-profile controversies. Democrats who control the House agreed to bring back earmarks this year.
From the States and Municipalities
California – As Newsom Pushes to Extend Emergency Spending Authority During Pandemic, Lobbyist Influence Remains Opaque
Capital Public Radio – Scott Rodd | Published: 3/4/2021
While lobbyists in California must disclose efforts to influence policy and legislation, they are not required to disclose lobbying activities when vying for lucrative contracts. Government ethics experts say that is an area that demands greater transparency for Californians to understand how their government awards contracts and opportunities, especially as Gov. Gavin Newsom pushes to extend his emergency spending authority for another year. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office warns that under the extension, “there would be no reasonable checks and balances on the Governor’s COVID-19 spending authority.”
California – City Hall Corruption Probe: Former S.F. official and girlfriend to Mohammed Nuru agrees to plead guilty, cooperate with feds
MSN – Michael Williams (San Francisco Chronicle) | Published: 3/9/2021
Sandra Zuniga, the former director of San Francisco’s Office of Neighborhood Services, agreed to plead guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering and will cooperate with the federal investigation into City Hall corruption. Prosecutors alleged she conspired for years with former city Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru to launder the proceeds of his alleged fraud. Prosecutors said Zuniga, at one point a romantic partner to Nuru, deposited the proceeds from alleged bribes into her own bank account. Those funds, federal officials said, were later used to make mortgage payments on a vacation home Nuru owned.
California – New Escondido Council Erases Campaign Finance Reforms Enacted by Predecessors
San Diego Union Tribune – Joe Tash | Published: 3/4/2021
Five months after adopting new campaign finance rules for city elections, the Escondido City Council reversed course and voted to strip away two of the changes enacted by the previous council. In October, the council reduced the contribution limits for city offices such as mayor, city council, and city treasurer, and established a prohibition on candidates carrying over surplus campaign funds from one election to the next. The council also voted to impose its new contribution limits on all persons and organizations, including political parties, businesses, and labor unions. The council voted to do away with the prohibition on rolling over campaign funds and exempted political parties from the contribution limits.
California – S.F. City Hall Corruption: Recology to repay customers $94.5 million for rates Mohammed Nuru helped set
MSN – Megan Cassidy (San Francisco Chronicle) | Published: 3/4/2021
San Franciscans will recoup nearly $100 million in overpaid trash-collection fees after a probe by the city attorney’s office detailed how the waste management company Recology improperly hiked its prices over the last four years. The settlement with Recology represents the latest twist in the sprawling City Hall corruption saga centered around former Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru, other city officials, contractors, and nonprofit groups. Nuru played a key role in the rate-setting process for Recology. Multiple investigations alleged Nuru accepted bribes from Recology in exchange for allowing the company to inflate its rates. A former Recology executive was fired and arrested in November in light of those allegations.
California – San Jose School District Denies Improper Lobbying Charges
San Jose Spotlight – Lloyd Alaban | Published: 3/10/2021
Officials with San Jose’s biggest school district denied charges they improperly hired lobbying firms to push a teacher housing proposal, saying at least one of the firms never lobbied for them at all, despite meeting with officials who would approve the plans. The allegations stem from a grand jury report. It found that San Jose Unified School District failed to disclose conflicts-of-interest and lobbying contracts related to a proposal to build affordable housing for teachers and staff. The school district’s board rejected concerns that the contracts with two different firms working on the housing project had been inappropriate. But it agreed to provide more transparency around such agreements in the future.
Georgia – Georgia Republicans Want to Reshape Voting Laws, Burdening Voters of Color
Georgia Public Broadcasting – Carrie Levine, Kimberly Cataudella, and Stephen Fowler | Published: 3/5/2021
Election experts say the 2020 election was fair, and courts have tossed out dozens of lawsuits filed by former President Trump’s campaign and allied groups after finding no evidence of fraud. Nonetheless, Republicans around the country are sponsoring measures to constrain voter access, arguing they are responding to the perception that elections need to be more secure. Georgia, with a Republican-controlled Legislature, is at the epicenter of that fight. Record participation from voters of color in the 2020 election and subsequent runoff helped Democrats flip the state’s electoral votes and both U.S. Senate seats.
Illinois – How Michael Madigan’s Departure Accelerates a Shift in Chicago Politics from Old-School Machine to New-Era Progressives
Yahoo News – Bill Ruthhart and John Byrne (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 3/4/2021
The last two Cook County Democratic Party bosses suffered embarrassing losses to political newcomers for county assessor and mayor. A congressional seat held for decades by a powerful establishment family now belongs to a progressive outsider. Several longtime white machine politicians in Chicago have been defeated by first-time candidates of color. The change is being driven by generational, ideological, and demographic shifts, with federal law enforcement and organized labor providing major assists. The result is a move away from old-style bosses toward a more diffuse leadership structure that is more diverse and practices an increasingly progressive style of politics centered on economic and racial equity.
Illinois – State’s Ex-Pot Regulators, Pols Are Cashing In On the Exploding Industry. A Proposed Crackdown Won’t Stop All of Them.
Chicago Sun-Times – Tom Schuba | Published: 3/10/2021
A year after recreational cannabis sales kicked off in Illinois, legalization has been a boon for the few multimillion-dollar companies granted permission to grow and sell marijuana and a windfall for local and state governments strapped for cash. It has also been a jackpot for a host of former cannabis regulators. On top of that, two sponsors of the law that legalized recreational cannabis are also benefiting from the pot industry, albeit through connections to firms operating in other states. State Rep. Marty Moylan introduced legislation that would strengthen conflict-of-interest provisions in the law that aim to prevent lawmakers, regulators, and their families from profiting off the industry.
Iowa – Journalist Acquitted in Iowa Case Seen as Attack on Press
MSN – Ryan Foley (Associated Press) | Published: 3/10/2021
An Iowa jury acquitted a journalist who was pepper-sprayed and arrested by police while covering a protest, in a case that critics have derided as an attack on press freedoms and an abuse of prosecutorial discretion. The jury found Des Moines Register reporter Andrea Sahouri and her ex-boyfriend Spenser Robnett not guilty on misdemeanor charges of failure to disperse and interference with official acts. More than 100 groups called for the dismissal of charges last summer, but prosecutors aggressively pursued them, arguing tSahouri and Robnett did not comply with police orders to leave the chaotic scene and interfered with the officer who arrested Sahouri.
Maine – Maine Ethics Commission Says Senate District 14 Candidate Violated Election Law, but Assesses No Penalty
Portland Press Herald – Jessica Lowell (Kennebec Jouirnal) | Published: 3/8/2021
A state Senate candidate violated Maine’s election sign law but will not be assessed a penalty, the Commission on Governmental and Ethics Practices ruled. The commission said in failing to initially add a disclosure statement to those signs, William Guerrette violated state campaign laws. In a separate action, it voted to assess no penalty against Guerrette. The complaint said the four electronic signs urging people to vote for Guerrette failed to include a disclaimer explaining who paid for the signs and who authorized them. Initially, Guerrette was told the signs were fine, but when his campaign was directed to add disclosure statements, the statements were added.
Massachusetts – Body Armor and Pepper Spray: Politicians can buy safety gear with campaign funds after Capitol attack
MSN – Matt Stout (Boston Globe) | Published: 3/7/2021
An advisory opinion from the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance allows the state’s elected officials to use campaign funds to buy bulletproof vests, gas masks, and other gear to protect themselves and their staffs following the attack on the U.S. Capitol. Michael Sullivan, the campaign office’s director, noted the agency previously allowed candidates to use campaign money to pay for a security detail or a home security system. Sullivan citied the “recent events in our nation’s capital” and that officials or their staffs could reasonably be concerned about their safety at the statehouse or elsewhere.
Michigan – Auditor-Recommended Election Reforms Approved in Michigan House
MLive.com – Samuel Dodge | Published: 3/9/2021
The Michigan House approved a series of election reform bills, including a package addressing recommended changes by the state auditor general. A report from the auditor general recommended ways to improve the process, including cleaning up the qualified voter file’s list of names, ensuring better training of local clerks, and improving campaign finance reporting. In addition, House Bill 4130 moves back the date for lobbyists to submit their reports by one month. House Bill 4131 extends the deadline to correct errors and omissions in campaign finance statements.
Michigan – Feds Probe MDOT Corruption Case with Alleged Ghost Contractors, Bonuses for Wives
Yahoo News – Robert Snell (Detroit News) | Published: 3/6/2021
Five Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) contractors are targets of an FBI investigation over whether they defrauded taxpayers out of more than $7.3 million by overbilling, submitting phony expenses, and giving no-show, six-figure jobs to their wives. Search warrant filings reveal a years-long, ongoing wire fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering investigation targeting at least five executives at Surveying Solutions. The company is one of the state’s preeminent surveying firms and has worked on more than 150 MDOT projects in recent years’ worth $29.3 million.
Michigan – Lobbyist Advanced Client’s Plan as Appointee on Michigan Pot Panel
Yahoo News – Craig Mauger (Detroit News) | Published: 3/5/2021
The Marijuana Regulatory Agency created the Racial Equity Advisory Work Group to develop policy recommendations and make Michigan a “leader on diversity, equity, and inclusion” in the marijuana industry. When the workgroup’s ideas were unveiled, the top recommendation was to create a new license type, allowing for “marijuana microbusinesses.” An Ann Arbor-based business, Tranquility Fields, wants to franchise small marijuana operations across the state. Among the group’s lobbyists is Berton Brown, one of the 21 workgroup members. Critics argue having a lobbyist on an official state workgroup advancing recommendations that could boost his employer is a conflict-of-interest.
Missouri – After Judges Rewrite GOP Lawmakers’ Ballot Language, Missouri House Votes to Strip Their Power
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Jack Suntrup and Maria Benevento | Published: 3/10/2021
After Missouri courts last year threw out and rewrote the Legislature’s ballot language for a proposed change to the state constitution, Republican lawmakers moved to strip judges’ power to rewrite ballot language. The effort follows rulings from two courts in the run-up to the November election that tossed the Legislature’s wording for a question that changed the way Missouri was to draw state legislative districts after the 2020 Census. In addition to the redistricting changes, the measure banned lobbyist gifts. But Cole Circuit County Judge Patricia Joyce rewrote the summary.
New Mexico – Political Spending Transparency Bill Clears Senate
New Mexico In Depth – Bryan Metzger | Published: 3/10/2021
The New Mexico Senate approved a bill that would close a loophole in the state’s transparency laws and require lawmakers running for federal office to disclose their contributions every 10 days during the legislative session. The loophole allows nonprofit organizations to avoid disclosing donors behind political spending if those giving the money requested in writing that their donations not be spent for political purposes, even if the group decides to use the money for politics anyway.
New York – Cuomo’s Behavior Created ‘Hostile, Toxic’ Workplace Culture for Decades, Former Aides Say
MSN – Amy Brittain, Josh Dawsey, Hannah Knowles, and Tracy Jan (Washington Post) | Published: 3/6/2021
Fresh accounts of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s workplace behavior by former aides come after several women have publicly accused him of inappropriate personal comments or unwelcome physical contact. The allegations have engulfed one of the country’s top Democratic officials in crisis and put a focus on the workplace culture he has fostered during his three decades in public office. Many former aides and advisers described a toxic environment in which the governor unleashes verbal attacks on subordinates. Some said he seemed to delight in humiliating his employees, particularly in group meetings.
New York – Is NYC’s Expensive Campaign Finance Program Worth the Cost?
Gothamist – Cindy Rodriguez | Published: 3/3/2021
New York City’s Campaign Finance Board recently doled out $37 million in matching funds to candidates running for public office, the highest in its history. Their eight-to-one matching program is supposed to level the playing field and encourage campaigns to rely on small donors instead of big money and special interests. But in two different special elections in Queens, several candidates received tens of thousands of dollars in public financing and only a few hundred votes, leaving some to question whether, during a financial crisis, city taxpayer money should be spent differently. “‘’m concerned that we are wasting a tremendous amount of public funds for people to have vanity projects,” said Patrick Jenkins, a district leader in Queens.
New York – NY Officials Removed Fuller Tally of Nursing Home Deaths
Associated Press News – Staff | Published: 3/5/2021
The state Health Department confirmed that members of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s COVID-19 task force altered a report to omit the full number of nursing home patients killed by the coronavirus, but insisted the changes were made because of concerns about the data’s accuracy. It has been reported that gubernatorial aides pushed state health officials to edit the July report so it counted only residents who died inside long-term care facilities, and not those who became ill there and later died at a hospital. It is the latest blow for Cuomo, who has been besieged by scandals involving his handling of nursing home deaths and accusations he sexually harassed two former aides and a woman he met at a wedding he officiated.
New York – Top NYC Lobbyist Settles Ethics Case in de Blasio Fundraising Probe
New York Post – Carl Campanile | Published: 3/9/2021
Suri Kasirer, New York City’s top lobbyist, agreed to a $5,000 settlement with the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) over her firm’s dealings with the non-profit group created to promote Mayor Bill de Blasio’s agenda. The settlement noted Kasirer assisted in raising money for the since defunct Campaign for One New York after the mayor personally asked her for assistance in raising funds for the group. The Lobbying Act prohibits lobbyists and their clients from giving gifts to a public official, which includes gifts to third parties on behalf of or at the behest of a public official. JCOPE investigated whether donations by individuals with business before the city were a gift to the mayor.
North Dakota – North Dakota House Expels Lawmaker Accused of Misconduct
Associated Press News – James MacPherson | Published: 3/5/2021
The North Dakota House voted to expel Rep. Luke Simons, who was accused of threatening and sexually harassing women at the Capitol, the first time in state history a lawmaker has been expelled. Simons is accused of a pattern of sexually aggressive, lewd, and threatening behavior. Rep. Emily O’Brien said his harassment was so pervasive that she switched desks to get away from him.
Ohio – 5 More Householder Campaign Finance Claims Referred in Ohio
Associated Press News – Julie Carr Smyth | Published: 3/5/2021
Ohio’s elections chief said he has amended his massive list of campaign finance violations against suspects in an alleged $60 million bribery scheme to include five additional allegations against former House Speaker Larry Householder. Secretary of State Frank LaRose said a routine examination of state filings by Householder showed five individuals exceeded legal giving limits between March 11, 2019, and January 15, 2020. Householder, who has been ousted as speaker but remains a state representative, and four others were arrested and indicted on federal racketeering charges for what has been called the biggest corruption scandal in state history.
Ohio – Bankruptcy Judge Questioned FirstEnergy Solutions’ Law Firm on a Draft Political Contributions Motion That Was Never Filed
Energy and Policy Institute – Dave Anderson | Published: 3/10/2021
Bankruptcy court records show lawyers for FirstEnergy Solutions (FES) drafted, but never filed, a motion seeking a judge’s approval to make political contributions shortly before the company gave $500,000 to the Republican Governors Association during the closing weeks of the 2018 elections. The $500,000 contribution represents nearly half of the over $1 million FirstEnergy has spent in support of Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine since 2017. FirstEnergy’s financial support is one of several factors that has drawn DeWine into the scandal surrounding House Bill 6, which was set to deliver a $1 billion ratepayer bailout to two nuclear power plants then owned by FES before courts halted the payments.
Ohio – In Filing, FirstEnergy Said State Regulator Acted for the Company’s Benefit as a Result of $4.3 Million Payment
MSN – Andrew Tobias (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 3/4/2021
A previously unnoticed disclosure by FirstEnergy Corp. sheds additional light on company’s view of the $4.3 million it paid to an unnamed state official shortly before that person took a job as a top utility regulator in Ohio. In legal disclosures, the utility said the payment to a consulting firm tied to that person led to “conduct corresponding to such payment,” and to that person “acting at the request or for the benefit of FirstEnergy as a consequence of receiving such payment.” The company said the payment led it to update its terms with its lenders on November 17. The day before, the FBI raided then-Public Utilities Commission Chairperson Sam Randazzo’s home. Randazzo quit on the day after FirstEnergy disclosed the payment.
Oregon – A Timber Lobbyist Called Our Investigation ‘Completely Bogus.’ We Have the Receipts to Show It’s Not
ProPublica – Rob Davis (Portland Oregonian) and Tony Schick (Oregon Public Broadcasting) | Published: 3/8/2021
With the Oregon Legislature taking up bills to overhaul or eliminate the Oregon Forest Resources Institute after a media investigation, lobbyists have repeatedly attacked the reporting as incorrect. The institute is a quasi-governmental agency meant to promote forestry education. The investigation found the institute had acted as a de facto lobbying arm of the timber industry, in some cases skirting legal constraints that forbid it from doing so.
Oregon – Lobbyists Try for Influence, Without as Much Access to Oregon Lawmakers
Portland Oregonian – Jake Thomas (Salem Reporter) | Published: 3/3/2021
An impromptu five-minute conversation can be politically effective in the halls of the Oregon Capitol. Such encounters have long been crucial for the army of lobbyists hoping to get a moment with a state legislator. But that personal style of lobbying has been checked by the coronavirus pandemic. The Capitol has been closed since last March to the public and to lobbyists. Now, those representing everyone from acupuncturists to veterinarians must make do with text messages, emails, and video conferences. Now, lobbyists must book virtual meetings weeks in advance for conversations that would normally take five to 10 minutes.
South Carolina – SC Government Waste and Corruption Revelations Confront Culture Resistant to Change
Charleston Post and Courier – Tony Bartelme and Glenn Smith | Published: 3/7/2021
Media reports on gas authorities, fire districts, and other special-purpose districts in South Carolina that operate with little outside scrutiny led one agency to reconsider its spending practices. Gov. Henry McMaster and some lawmakers called for more scrutiny of special-purpose districts and a bill was filed to ratchet up ethics reporting requirements for these entities. Other agencies remain unmoved. Their leaders defend traveling with spouses to five-star resorts for “work retreats” – trips that involved just a handful of meetings but plenty of time for golf, and, in one case, glass-blowing lessons. Truly changing a public service culture that has operated for decades with loose restrictions will take time and effort, watchdogs caution.
Texas – Twitter Sues Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, Asks Court to Halt His Investigation of the Social Media Company
Texas Tribune – Marissa Martinez | Published: 3/8/2021
Twitter filed a lawsuit against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in federal court and asked a judge to halt the state’s top lawyer from investigating the company. Twitter’s court filings include a request for a temporary restraining order that would keep Paxton and his office from enforcing a demand that seeks documents revealing the company’s internal decision-making processes for banning users, among other things. Paxton, a fervent supporter of former President Trump, sent the company a civil investigative demand after it banned Trump from its platform following January’s siege at the U.S. Capitol.
West Virginia – Ethics Commission Breaks Up County Prosecutor’s Hiring of Her Boyfriend
Charleston Gazette and Mail – Phil Kabler | Published: 3/4/2021
A county prosecutor violated the law by hiring her boyfriend as an assistant prosecutor, and must terminate his employment within 30 days, the West Virginia Ethics commission ruled. A key point in the decision was the prosecutor had failed to advertise the job opening but had reached out to local lawyers about the vacancy. The commission also concluded that an organization that lobbies the Legislature may recognize a lawmaker by making a charitable contribution in the legislator’s name to a local homeless shelter in excess of the $25 limit on gifts in the Ethics Act.
March 11, 2021 •
Campaign Finance National: “Trump’s Fundraising Whiplash Highlights GOP’s Small-Donor Issue” by Bridget Bowman (Roll Call) for MSN New Mexico: “Political Spending Transparency Bill Clears Senate” by Bryan Metzger for New Mexico In Depth Ohio: “Bankruptcy Judge Questioned FirstEnergy Solutions’ Law […]
National: “Trump’s Fundraising Whiplash Highlights GOP’s Small-Donor Issue” by Bridget Bowman (Roll Call) for MSN
New Mexico: “Political Spending Transparency Bill Clears Senate” by Bryan Metzger for New Mexico In Depth
Ohio: “Bankruptcy Judge Questioned FirstEnergy Solutions’ Law Firm on a Draft Political Contributions Motion That Was Never Filed” by Dave Anderson for Energy and Policy Institute
Missouri: “After Judges Rewrite GOP Lawmakers’ Ballot Language, Missouri House Votes to Strip Their Power” by Jack Suntrup and Maria Benevento for St. Louis Post-Dispatch
California: “City Hall Corruption Probe: Former S.F. official and girlfriend to Mohammed Nuru agrees to plead guilty, cooperate with feds” by Michael Williams (San Francisco Chronicle) for MSN
Illinois: “State’s Ex-Pot Regulators, Pols Are Cashing In On the Exploding Industry. A Proposed Crackdown Won’t Stop All of Them.” by Tom Schuba for Chicago Sun-Times
Iowa: “Journalist Acquitted in Iowa Case Seen as Attack on Press” by Ryan Foley (Associated Press) for MSN
Texas: “Twitter Sues Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, Asks Court to Halt His Investigation of the Social Media Company” by Marissa Martinez for Texas Tribune
National: “U.S. House Republicans May Follow Democrats in Rebooting Shamed ‘Earmarks’” by Jarret Renshaw for Reuters
New York: “Top NYC Lobbyist Settles Ethics Case in de Blasio Fundraising Probe” by Carl Campanile for New York Post
March 10, 2021 •
Campaign Finance California: “New Escondido Council Erases Campaign Finance Reforms Enacted by Predecessors” by Joe Tash for San Diego Union Tribune Maine: “Maine Ethics Commission Says Senate District 14 Candidate Violated Election Law, but Assesses No Penalty” by Jessica Lowell […]
California: “New Escondido Council Erases Campaign Finance Reforms Enacted by Predecessors” by Joe Tash for San Diego Union Tribune
Maine: “Maine Ethics Commission Says Senate District 14 Candidate Violated Election Law, but Assesses No Penalty” by Jessica Lowell (Kennebec Journal) for Portland Press Herald
National: “House Democrats End Controversial Consultant Ban” by Ally Mutnick for Politico
National: “Inside the Lincoln Project’s Secrets, Side Deals and Scandals” by Danny Hakim, Maggie Astor, and Jo Becker for New York Times
Michigan: “Feds Probe MDOT Corruption Case with Alleged Ghost Contractors, Bonuses for Wives” by Robert Snell (Detroit News) for Yahoo News
New York: “Cuomo’s Behavior Created ‘Hostile, Toxic’ Workplace Culture for Decades, Former Aides Say” by Amy Brittain, Josh Dawsey, Hannah Knowles, and Tracy Jan (Washington Post) for MSN
South Carolina: “SC Government Waste and Corruption Revelations Confront Culture Resistant to Change” by Tony Bartelme and Glenn Smith for Charleston Post and Courier
National: “Oil Refiner Valero to Disclose Climate Lobbying After Criticism” by Gerson Freitas Jr. and Saijel Kishan (Bloomberg) for MSN
Oregon: “A Timber Lobbyist Called Our Investigation ‘Completely Bogus.’ We Have the Receipts to Show It’s Not” by Rob Davis (Portland Oregonian) and Tony Schick (Oregon Public Broadcasting) for ProPublica
March 9, 2021 •
Campaign Finance Massachusetts: “Body Armor and Pepper Spray: Politicians can buy safety gear with campaign funds after Capitol attack” by Matt Stout (Boston Globe) for MSN Elections National: “Biden Signs Executive Order Promoting Voting Rights on 56th Anniversary of ‘Bloody […]
Massachusetts: “Body Armor and Pepper Spray: Politicians can buy safety gear with campaign funds after Capitol attack” by Matt Stout (Boston Globe) for MSN
National: “Biden Signs Executive Order Promoting Voting Rights on 56th Anniversary of ‘Bloody Sunday’” by Felicia Sonmez and Amy Gardner (Washington Post) for Seattle Times
Illinois: “How Michael Madigan’s Departure Accelerates a Shift in Chicago Politics from Old-School Machine to New-Era Progressives” by Bill Ruthhart and John Byrne (Chicago Tribune) for Yahoo News
National: “Rep. Eric Swalwell Sues Trump Over Jan. 6 Riot, Alleging He Poses Risk of ‘Inciting Future Political Violence’” by Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “S.F. City Hall Corruption: Recology to repay customers $94.5 million for rates Mohammed Nuru helped set” by Megan Cassidy (San Francisco Chronicle) for MSN
New York: “NY Officials Removed Fuller Tally of Nursing Home Deaths” by Staff for Associated Press News
North Dakota: “North Dakota House Expels Lawmaker Accused of Misconduct” by James MacPherson for Associated Press News
National: “Digging in as an All-GOP Firm in a Democratic Town” by Kate Ackley (Roll Call) for MSN
West Virginia: “Ethics Commission Breaks Up County Prosecutor’s Hiring of Her Boyfriend” by Phil Kabler for Charleston Gazette and Mail
March 8, 2021 •
Campaign Finance New York: “Is NYC’s Expensive Campaign Finance Program Worth the Cost?” by Cindy Rodriguez for Gothamist Elections Georgia: “Georgia Republicans Want to Reshape Voting Laws, Burdening Voters of Color” by Carrie Levine, Kimberly Cataudella, and Stephen Fowler for […]
New York: “Is NYC’s Expensive Campaign Finance Program Worth the Cost?” by Cindy Rodriguez for Gothamist
Georgia: “Georgia Republicans Want to Reshape Voting Laws, Burdening Voters of Color” by Carrie Levine, Kimberly Cataudella, and Stephen Fowler for Georgia Public Broadcasting
National: “State Department Aide Appointed by Trump Stormed the Capitol, Beat Police with a Riot Shield, FBI Says” by Katie Shepherd (Washington Post) for San Diego Union Tribune
National: “House Restarts Push to Enforce Subpoena for Trump Financial Records” by Todd Ruger (Roll Call) for MSN
National: “Feds Investigating Hagedorn Appearances on Minnesota Talk Radio Station” by Daniel Newhauser (Minnesota Reformer) for SouthernMinn.com
Ohio: “In Filing, FirstEnergy Said State Regulator Acted for the Company’s Benefit as a Result of $4.3 Million Payment” by Andrew Tobias (Cleveland Plain Dealer) for MSN
California: “As Newsom Pushes to Extend Emergency Spending Authority During Pandemic, Lobbyist Influence Remains Opaque” by Scott Rodd for Capital Public Radio
Michigan: “Lobbyist Advanced Client’s Plan as Appointee on Michigan Pot Panel” by Craig Mauger (Detroit News) for Yahoo News
Oregon: “Lobbyists Try for Influence, Without as Much Access to Oregon Lawmakers” by Jake Thomas (Salem Reporter) for Portland Oregonian
March 5, 2021 •
National/Federal Biden Won’t Release White House Virtual Visitor Logs Politico – Anita Kumar | Published: 3/1/2021 President Biden and is under pressure to do more to restore confidence in the federal government following Donald Trump’s term in the White House. But […]
Biden Won’t Release White House Virtual Visitor Logs
Politico – Anita Kumar | Published: 3/1/2021
President Biden and is under pressure to do more to restore confidence in the federal government following Donald Trump’s term in the White House. But the schedules for the president and vice president are not posted online, the White House comment line is shut down, and there are no citizen petitions on the White House’s website. The administration has committed to releasing visitor logs. But it does not plan to divulge the names of attendees of virtual meetings, which are the primary mode of interaction until the pandemic eases. While Biden has received praise for keeping the American public informed, primarily by resuming the daily White House press briefings, he has yet to hold a news conference of his own.
Budget Nominee Tanden Withdraws Nomination Amid Opposition
Associated Press News – Alexandra Jaffe | Published: 3/2/2021
President Biden’s pick to head the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, has withdrawn her nomination after she faced opposition from key Democratic and Republican senators for her controversial tweets. Her withdrawal marks the first high-profile defeat of one of Biden’s nominees. The White House stuck with Tanden even after some centrist Republicans made their opposition known. Tanden faced pointed questions over her past comments about members from both parties during her confirmation hearing. Sen. Bernie Sanders accused her of issuing “vicious attacks” against progressives and had not said whether he’d support her nomination.
Capitol Riot Defendants Facing Jail Have Regrets. Judges Aren’t Buying It.
MSN – Rachel Weiner and Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 2/26/2021
As defendants charged in the Capitol siege have been coming through court, some have been shifting blame onto former President Trump, downplaying their actions, or expressing remorse. But federal judges, particularly those who work a few blocks from the Capitol, are not buying it. One judge called a defendant’s claim of civil disobedience “detached from reality.” Another verbally smacked down an attorney who tried to use the QAnon conspiracy theory to explain his client shouting “kill them all.” Other judges have been giving defendants civics lessons on how democracy works.
Elaine Chao Used DOT Staff to Aid Personal Errands, Father’s Business, Inspector Finds
Politico – Sam Mintz and Tanya Snyder | Published: 3/3/2021
Former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao repeatedly used her staff and her position of power to boost the reputation of her shipping magnate father and otherwise aid her family, the Department of Transportation’s inspector concluded. The internal watchdog faulted Chao for four kinds of ethics violations, including planning to bring relatives on an official trip to China and requiring the department’s public affairs staff to help market a book written by her father. It found she also had employees handle personal errands such as shipping Christmas ornaments. Investigators referred their findings to the Justice Department for prosecution in December but it declined.
Ethics Watchdog: ‘Substantial’ evidence GOP lawmaker improperly spent funds, misused position to help brother
The Hill – Cristina Marcos | Published: 3/1/2021
The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) concluded there is “substantial” evidence that U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo misused campaign as well as official funds and used his office to help his brother in violation of House rules. The OCE said it found evidence indicating Palazzo asked his House office staffers to perform campaign work and personal errands; and used his position as a member of Congress to contact the assistant secretary of the Navy to help his brother reenlist. The report said Palazzo charged his campaign committee rent for ostensibly using a riverfront home he owned as a headquarters, equal to the amount of his monthly mortgage, insurance, and tax payments “during a time of personal financial stress.”
Facebook Lifts Political Ad Ban
Politico – Elena Schneider | Published: 3/3/2021
Facebook lifted its ban on political ads, ending a self-imposed prohibition that began immediately after the 2020 general election and remained active for months. Facebook’s platform is one of the largest and most cost-effective ways for campaigns to reach voters and potential supporters. Digital strategists in both parties were critical of Facebook’s decision to cut off access to voters for the last several months, upending off-year campaign strategies.
HR 1 Overhaul Would Set New Holiday and New Rules for Lobbyists, Elections and Justices
MSN – Kate Ackley (Roll Call) | Published: 3/3/2021
The U.S. House approved a sweeping political money, elections, influence, and ethics measure, but the bill faces an uncertain fate in the Senate. A hallmark of the package would set out an optional system to finance congressional campaigns with public money. It would provide a six-to-one match of small-dollar campaign donations. Under the legislation, all states would be required to send voters an application to cast their ballots by mail. Now, anyone who keeps their lobbying activities under 20 percent of their time for a client can remain under the public radar. HR 1 would take that threshold down to 10 percent.
‘It’s Donald Trump’s Party’: How the former president is building a political operation to cement his hold on the GOP
MSN – Josh Dawsey and Michael Scherer (Washington Post) | Published: 2/27/2021
Any doubts about Donald Trump’s primacy in the Republican Party have been settled in recent weeks by the parade of petitioners he has welcomed to his Florida club. The party chairperson, the top two House Republicans, U.S. Sen. Lindsay Graham, and a coterie of other former aides and advisers have all made appearances at Mar-a-Lago, offering their counsel and seeking the favor of a former president who many believe controls the short-term fortunes of GOP candidates up and down the ballot and has made it clear he plans to use that power. Trump has started building his post-White House political operation and cementing his role as the party’s de facto leader.
Jim Jordan Under Scrutiny for Nearly $3 Million in Unreported Campaign Funds
Yahoo News – Roger Sollenberger (Daily Beast) | Published: 3/3/2021
The campaign committee for U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan received ten notices from the FEC flagging discrepancies on its books totaling nearly $3 million dollars and dating back over two years. The campaign claims the errors slipped through the cracks amid a record fundraising surge, and it has more money on the books now, but experts say the dollar amount – errors totaling some $2.87 million – may trigger an FEC investigation. The errors also appear connected to newly developed, largely hidden payment systems in the murky world of Republican digital advertising, where vendors not only receive direct spending, but take cuts from fundraising as well.
Rep. Ronny Jackson Made Sexual Comments, Drank Alcohol and Took Ambien While Working as White House Physician, Pentagon Watchdog Finds
CNN – Manu Raju, Barbara Starr, Zachary Cohen, and Oren Lieberman | Published: 3/3/2021
The Department of Defense inspector general’s office found U.S. Rep. Ronny Jackson made “sexual and denigrating” comments about a female subordinate, violated the policy for drinking alcohol while on a presidential trip, and took prescription-strength sleeping medication that prompted concerns from his colleagues about his ability to provide proper care during his time serving as the top White House physician. The report notes the investigation into Jackson “was limited in scope and unproductive” as White House counsel under Donald Trump insisted on being present at all interviews of current White House Medical Unit employees, which had a “potential chilling effect” on the probe.
Supreme Court Appears to Favor Upholding Voting Laws Lower Court Found Unfair to Minorities
Anchorage Daily News – Robert Barnes (Washington Post) | Published: 3/2/2021
The U.S. Supreme Court seemed inclined to make it more difficult to challenge widely used voting laws that in practice might be more of a burden to minority voters. The justices reviewed the protections provided by the Voting Rights Act (VRA) to forbid laws that result in discrimination based on race. The cases involve two voting regulations that are in common use across the country. One throws out the ballots of those who vote in the wrong precinct. The other restricts who may collect ballots cast early for delivery to polling places, a practice then-President Trump denounced as “ballot harvesting.” The greater impact will be the test the court develops for proving violations of the VRA, as new laws are proposed and state Legislatures begin redrawing congressional and legislative districts.
Canada – Ontario Law Would Restrict Election Spending by Third-Party Groups, Double Donation Limits for Individuals
Toronto Star – Robert Benzie | Published: 2/25/2021
Ontario Premier Doug Ford’ Progressive Conservatives have unveiled proposed campaign finance changes, doubling annual donation caps to $3,300, extending per-vote subsidies for political parties, and limiting PAC spending. Under legislation, advance polling days would also be increased from five to 10 to allow for safer voting in the COVID-19 era. Conservatives want to clamp down on PACs, such as the pro-Tory Ontario Proud and Working Families, which boosted the Liberals in past election campaigns. Such third-party advertising groups spent more than $5 million in the six months leading up to the June 2018 election.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – ‘Dark Money’ Is Still Trying to Influence Phoenix Elections Despite New Law. Here’s How.
MSN – Jen Fifield (Arizona Republic) | Published: 2/24/2021
Some Phoenix voters got the first deceitful political mailer from Americans for Progress nearly two weeks ago, and they just keep coming. The ads are seemingly attempting to trick voters in the progressive district into thinking Yassamin Ansari, a Democratic candidate for Phoenix City Council, is a Republican. But voters do not have a way of knowing who is sending them. Americans for Progress has yet to file a disclosure with the city. A new law was intended to stop these “dark money” ads from influencing city elections, but the group sending the ads remains shrouded in secrecy, even as voting for city council races is underway.
California – 5 Charged in SF Corruption Probe, Temporarily Barred from Receiving City Contracts
KPIX – Staff | Published: 3/2/2021
Five business executives linked to widespread corruption in San Francisco have been temporarily barred from doing business with the city. All five have been implicated in a federal investigation that began more than a year ago and centers around high-ranking city officials like former Department of Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru and former Public Utilities Commission General Manger Harlan Kelly accepting gifts in exchange for help obtaining city contracts. The suspension orders are the first of their kind. A 2020 city law allows for city contractors who have been charged criminally, civilly, or administratively to be suspended from receiving public funds while the case against them is ongoing.
California – Ethics Commission Staff Were Told to Soften Their Advice on Gifts, Whistleblower Says
MSN – David Zahniser (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 2/25/2021
Heather Holt, who was executive director of the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission, told staffers at a 2018 meeting that a member of the city council had “threatened to cut the Ethics Commission’s budget if they did not give more permissive advice” on certain gift rules, according to an email written by Alexandria Latragna, the agency’s ethics program manager at the time. Latragna wrote Holt told commission staff that to maintain a good relationship with the council, they would need to be more “middle of the road” with the advice they gave on rules involving private events sponsored by lobbyists. David Tristan, who replaced Holt as executive director, issued a denial of the incident on her behalf.
California – Prosecutors Extract Pleas, $215 Million in Charter School Fraud Case
Voice of San Diego – Will Huntsberry | Published: 2/26/2021
The two ringleaders of an online charter school scam that raked in hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges. Sean McManus and Jason Schrock, as well as nine other defendants, were charged in 2019 as part of a complicated scheme that involved enrolling fake students into their online charter schools and collecting public money for each student. As part of McManus and Schrock’s plea deal, they agreed to turn over all remaining cash and assets owned by A3 and its subsidiary companies. So far, that includes at least $215 million that will eventually make its way back into state coffers.
Colorado – Aurora Moves Forward Bills on Lobbying Disclosures, Sales Tax Exemptions on Menstrual Products
Aurora Sentinel – Grant Stringer | Published: 3/1/2021
The Aurora City Council gave first approval to a bill implementing strict lobbying disclosure requirements. The rules would require lobbyists to register their clients and income with the city, which would be made public to boost public trust in government, Councilperson Angela Lawson said. They would have to submit quarterly, detailed reports on their activities and financial motivations or face up to $2,500 fines per each charge.
Connecticut – Ex-State Employee Faces $5K Penalty for Using Work Computer, Email for Private Businesses
MSN – Russell Blair (Hartford Courant) | Published: 3/2/2021
A former employee of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection agreed to pay a $5,000 penalty after an investigation determined he used his state-issued computer, phone, and email address to run private businesses unrelated to his state job. Sean Condon used the state equipment to operate a retail men’s hair and skin care product business and an internet marketing business while on state time, according to a consent order he signed with the Office of State Ethics.
Florida – Legislating in the Time of COVID-19 Means Putting Protections Over Public Access
Yahoo News – Mary Ellen Klas and Kirby Wilson (Miami Herald) | Published: 3/2/2021
Florida legislators opened their 60-day session this year trying to navigate a global pandemic and stay healthy enough to avoid disrupting their activities, access to elected government is limited. Gov. Ron DeSantis has not allowed the Capitol to be open to visitors and the public, even as he ordered all businesses to be open in Florida. Citizens are kept out of the buildings and at a distance, and the pandemic protocols set up by legislative leaders to allow the public to testify in person before committee hearings have proven cumbersome and technology challenged.
Florida – Wealthy Keys Enclave Received COVID Vaccines in January Before Much of the State
MSN – David Goodhue and Mary Ellen Klas (Miami Herald) | Published: 3/3/2021
As Florida’s eldest residents struggled to sign up to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, nearly all those aged 65 years and older in a wealthy gated enclave in the Florida Keys had been vaccinated by mid-January. The Ocean Reef Club is home to many wealthy donors to the Florida Republican Party and GOP candidates, including Gov. Ron DeSantis. In fact, the only people from Key Largo who gave to DeSantis’ political committee live in Ocean Reef. On February 25, one resident of Ocean Reef, Bruce Rauner, the former Republican governor of Illinois, donated $250,00 to DeSantis.
Illinois – Ex-Lawmaker’s Indictment Stems Partly from Secret ComEd Payments, Source Says
WBEZ – Dave McKinney, Tony Arnold, and Dan Mihalopoulos | Published: 2/25/2021
A newly filed federal tax-evasion indictment against a former member of ex-Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s leadership team stems at least in part from secret payments for “government relations” work from Commonwealth Edison (ComEd). A source familiar with the probe said a six-count indictment against former state Rep. Edward Acevedo is a byproduct from the ongoing bribery investigation into ComEd’s Springfield lobbying practices. Federal charging documents against Acevedo and separate tax-evasion charges against his two sons do not make that connection clear. But the source said the case relates, in part, to unreported income originating from ComEd that Acevedo received from a company called Apex Strategy.
Illinois – Illinois Democrats Tap U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly of Matteson to Succeed Michael Madigan as State Party Chair
MSN – Rick Pearson (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 3/3/2021
Illinois Democratic leaders selected U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly as their new state party chairperson and the successor to embattled former House Speaker Michael Madigan, who held the post for 23 years. The race was not without controversy. Outside attorneys for the state Democratic Party warned that Kelly, as a federal officeholder, would be prohibited from raising state money because Illinois fundraising rules are less strict than the federal rules that bind the member of Congress.
Illinois – Madigan Picks Another House Successor After Quickly Forcing Out His First Choice Over ‘Alleged Questionable Conduct’
MSN – Rick Pearson (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 2/25/2021
Angie Guerrero-Cuellar became the second replacement in four days for the Illinois House seat held by former Speaker Michael Madigan following a meeting of local ward and township committee members. Guerrero-Cuellar succeeds Madigan’s original hand-picked successor, Edward Guerra Kodatt, who resigned after the former speaker and Chicago Ald. Marty Quinn called on him to step down for unspecified “alleged questionable conduct.” The abrupt moves over the vacancy created by Madigan’s resignation were a sharp contrast to the hands-on, detail-oriented style the ex-speaker has displayed in running his ward and district office.
Massachusetts – Massachusetts Republican Nominated for Top Campaign Finance Job
Boston Herald – State House News Service | Published: 2/26/2021
The panel that has been searching for a new director for the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) was unanimous in its selection of Woburn City Clerk William Campbell to lead the agency. Secretary of State William Galvin mentioned talking with Campbell about the changing nature of campaigns and how the OCPF fits in. Campbell, if he accepts the job, would be the first new director since the retiring Michael Sullivan took charge of the agency about 27 years ago.
Michigan – Coronavirus Created ‘Perfect Storm’ That Rained Private Money on Michigan Election Administration
MSN – Gus Burns (MLive.com) | Published: 2/28/2021
The 474 local clerks’ offices in Michigan received millions of dollars from private nonprofits to administer the 2020 elections. Most spent grant funds on additional personnel needed to sort, verify, and count the influx of ballots that tripled for some offices due to relaxed absentee voting restrictions and a statewide push to promote remote voting. Some used their money for things like get-out-the-vote campaigns, ballot drop boxes, and in one case, a trailer that allowed city employees to travel to neighborhoods and deliver absentee ballots in person. Private money, usually reserved for politically motivated campaign efforts and ballot initiatives, has never entered Michigan elections this way, at the ground floor of democracy to pay for the mechanics.
Mississippi – Bill That Would Have Required Gov. Reeves to Reveal Inauguration Funding Dies in Senate
Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal – Luke Ramseth | Published: 3/3/2021
Lawmakers defeated legislation that would have provided transparency around how Gov. Tate Reeves and future Mississippi governors raise and spend money on inauguration festivities. House Bill 109 said Reeves and future governor-elects would be required to reveal their inauguration financial information to the secretary of state’s office, similar to how politicians must publicly disclose information about their campaign funds. Governors and other top Mississippi politicians have long used 501(c)4 nonprofits to fund their inauguration ceremonies, parties, and transition expenses. Donors to those nonprofits can be kept secret.
Montana – Lawmaker Revives Proposal to Eliminate State’s Top Political Cop
Helena Independent Record – Sam Wilson | Published: 2/25/2021
Rep. Derek Skees is reviving a proposal he brought four years earlier to eliminate Montana’s commissioner of political practices, the state’s enforcer of campaign finance and lobbying laws. Similar to legislation that passed the House in the 2017 session before stalling out in the Senate, House Bill 535 proposes shifting much of the office’s duties to the secretary of state, including receiving campaign statements and reports for candidates and political committees. Under the new bill, the secretary of state would also be responsible for receiving and investigating campaign finance and election complaints.
New Jersey – Firm Cited in Pay-to-Play Lawsuit Quits Job with N.J. Town
Newark Star Ledger – Bill Duhart (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 3/1/2021
A firm cited in a “pay-to-play” lawsuit resigned an appointment to a township government post days after it had been appointed for an additional year. Capehart Scatchard resigned its position as conflict counsel with Washington Township in Gloucester County after a pair of citizen watchdogs accused it of making campaign contributions to several elected township officials, including the mayor. The firms were then paid more than $17,500 for annual no-bid contracts, which is a violation of state “pay-to-play” laws, according to the suit.
New Mexico – Compromise Redistricting Bill Advances Unanimously from Senate Committee
New Mexico Political Report – Robert Nott (Santa Fe News Mexican) | Published: 3/2/2021
Lawmakers on the Senate Rules Committee came to a quick compromise on a measure they hope will set New Mexico’s sometimes controversial redistricting process on a smooth path via an independent, bipartisan panel to redraw voting district boundaries. The bill calls for a seven-member panel and prohibits a majority of Democrats or Republicans and only requires the commission to come up with three plans for the Legislature to consider. There is no language in that would force the Legislature to accept any of the submitted plans.
New Mexico – Lobbyists Still Picking Up the Tab
Yahoo News – Dan McKay (Albuquerque Journal) | Published: 2/28/2021
New Mexico lawmakers are conducting much of this year’s session online to limit the spread of COVID-19. Committee hearings have moved entirely to Zoom, and full meetings of the House and Senate are a mix of in-person and remote participation. The Capitol is closed, with only legislators, staff, and some media members allowed inside. But lobbyists are still finding ways to feed hungry lawmakers, sometimes in person.
New York – ‘Embarrassed’ Cuomo Apologizes but Won’t Resign Over Sexual Harassment Allegations
National Public Radio – Rachel Triesman | Published: 3/3/2021
In his first press briefing since three women came forward with claims of sexual harassment, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo apologized for acting “in a way that made people feel uncomfortable,” but denied touching anyone inappropriately and said he would not resign. New York’s attorney general is investigating the allegations, which were raised by two former aides and a woman who met Cuomo at a wedding. Cuomo, who is facing mounting calls to resign, reiterated he will cooperate with that investigation, and asked New Yorkers to wait for the full report before forming an opinion.
New York – Trump’s Tax Returns Have Been Turned Over to Manhattan District Attorney
Seattle Times – Shayna Jacobs, David Fahrenthold, Jonathan O’Connell, and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) | Published: 2/25/2021
The Manhattan district attorney’s office possesses former President Trump’s tax returns and a wealth of other financial data, records deemed central to prosecutors’ criminal investigation into Trump’s business activities. The transfer, involving millions of pages of documents spanning eight years, occurred within hours of the U.S. Supreme Court order rejecting Trump’s last-ditch bid to shield the information. Investigators are examining whether the values of certain properties in the Trump Organization’s portfolio were manipulated to gain tax advantages or favorable loans and insurance rates under false pretenses. They have asked specifically about the company’s methods of valuing its Manhattan assets for purposes of seeking loans.
North Carolina – Charlotte City Council Escapes Sanctions After Flurry of Ethics Complaints Ends Quietly
MSN – Alison Kuznitz (Charlotte Observer) | Published: 3/3/2021
Charlotte City Council members were cleared of any wrongdoing after a flurry of ethics complaints were filed against them in 2020. Although the findings clear any councilperson of direct violations of the city’s ethics guidelines, the review made several recommendations. In whole, the report appears to validate the council’s assertion that the frenzy of complaints –spurred on by an ethics policy that became “weaponized,” as council member Ed Driggs phrased it, by the public – were politically fueled and frivolous.
Oregon – A Decade After Oregon Cracked Down on Lobbyist Wining and Dining, Lawmakers Consider Loosening Limits
MSN – Hillary Borrud (Portland Oregonian) | Published: 3/2/2021
Oregon lawmakers are considering whether to allow lobbyists to “wine and dine” them without limits, more than a decade after they clamped down on the practice with a broad ethics law. The Legislature passed the bill after members were embarrassed by media reports on how beer and wine distributors paid for lawmakers to travel to Hawaii. Oregon law now bars legislators and other public officials from accepting more than $50 per year from any entity that wants to influence a government decision. Sen. Fred Girod, chief sponsor of Senate Bill 463, said scrapping the limit would help nurture the types of relationships lawmakers need in the Capitol because people are better able to connect when they are sharing a meal or drinks.
Oregon – Oregon Voters Want to Limit Money in Politics, but Lawmakers Might Not Get There This Session
MSN – Hillary Borrud (Portland Oregonian) | Published: 2/28/2021
Among the thousands of proposals Oregon lawmakers are considering this year, few have as clear-cut a mandate as capping campaign contributions. Voters overwhelmingly signaled their desire to clamp down on the state’s no-limits political money system in November, when they passed a constitutional amendment to allow donation limits. More than 1.7 million people voted for it, the most ever to support a ballot measure according to the secretary of state’s office. Yet it is far from clear that lawmakers will pass a law to cap donations during the five-month session that runs through June.
Pennsylvania – Good Government or ‘Gag’ Order? In Chesco, New Ethics Policy Muzzles County Workers
MSN – William Bender (Philadelphia Inquirer) | Published: 3/1/2021
Included in Chester County’s new ethics policy is a strict confidentiality clause for many county employees that would essentially turn almost everything learned on the job into the equivalent of classified information, a clampdown that labor-law experts say could infringe on First Amendment rights and whistleblower protections. Employees are required to sign the policy by March 6. Those who violate it can face disciplinary action, including termination. County commissioners passed the ethics policy unanimously two months after a media report, which relied partially on leaked information, revealed major problems with the county’s COVID-19 antibody testing program, contradicting county officials who had publicly insisted it ran smoothly.
South Carolina – Ex-Candidate for SC Legislature Sues Opponent, Pollster and Journalist for Defamation
The State – David Weisman (Myrtle Beach Sun News) | Published: 2/25/2021
South Carolina Sen. Luke Rankin won a contentious reelection campaign during last year’s Republican primary, but that clash has been renewed in the court system after his former opponent filed a defamation suit. John Gallman filed the complaint against Rankin and a host of other entities and people, including an Horry County Council member, local reporter, and national pollster, alleging a coordinated conspiracy to spread defamatory accusations and confidential health records, along with violating campaign finance laws.
South Carolina – Some SC Lawmakers Think It’s Time to Allow More Money in State Campaigns, Not Less
Charleston Post and Courier – Schuyler Knopf | Published: 2/27/2021
At a time when the public mood says there is too much money in politics, some South Carolina lawmakers think it is time to push the donation ceiling higher. Three House Republicans are behind an effort to double the contribution limit an individual can give to their favorite politician for any office. State Rep. B. Newton said the issue comes down to inflation and the fact that South Carolina’s legislative districts, particularly the suburbs, have seen a population explosion in recent years.
Tennessee – Tennessee Regulators Revisit Complaints About Shadowy Campaign Group
WTVF – Phil Williams | Published: 3/2/2021
Tennessee regulators decided to revisit complaints regarding shadowy campaign activities surrounding a legislative race. The Registry of Election Finance plans to reconsider its decision last year to take no action on complaints filed against state Rep. Todd Warner and a group that called itself the Faith Family Freedom Fund. That same day, the Faith Family Freedom Fund filed paperwork to close out its PAC, raising questions about whether it might be trying to sidestep further scrutiny. All of this comes as an FBI investigation focuses on a number of individuals connected with those campaigns.
Washington – Washington State Accuses Google of Campaign Finance Violations
Courthouse News Service – Karina Brown | Published: 2/24/2021
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson again sued Google, alleging it has continued to flout state campaign finance law. The law requires publishers to keep records of who bought the political ads they run, and to make that information available within 24 hours of publishing to anyone requesting it. Ferguson sued Google in 2018, claiming the company did not maintain or make available the data. Google agreed to pay $217,000 to settle those claims and announced it would no longer run ads for state or local elections in Washington. But since then, 57 candidates and political committees have filed reports detailing 188 payments totaling over $460,000 to Google’s advertising networks, according to the latest lawsuit.
Washington DC – In Faraway State Houses, a Battle Brews Over Making D.C. the 51st State
MSN – Meagan Flynn (Washington Post) | Published: 2/26/2021
Lawmakers in at least eight states have taken formal steps to support or oppose the District of Columbia becoming the 51st state, an unprecedented nationwide response to a once-fledgling movement now surging with momentum in Washington. The statehood bill sponsored by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton will be the subject of a House Oversight Committee on March 11. The bill has enough support to pass the House, but it is likely to face roadblocks in the narrowly divided Senate. In her three decades leading the cause, Norton said, she has never seen such a flurry of action from so many states at once. She was even pleased to see the anti-statehood resolutions.
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