May 2, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Tennessee: “Campaign Finance Reform Bill Passes After McNally Issues Rebuke of Dark-Money Groups” by Adam Friedman (Tennessean) for Yahoo News Ethics National: “Trump Officials Muzzled CDC on Church Covid Guidance, Emails Confirm” by Dan Diamond (Washington Post) for […]
Tennessee: “Campaign Finance Reform Bill Passes After McNally Issues Rebuke of Dark-Money Groups” by Adam Friedman (Tennessean) for Yahoo News
National: “Trump Officials Muzzled CDC on Church Covid Guidance, Emails Confirm” by Dan Diamond (Washington Post) for MSN
Louisiana: “‘I See How This Looks’: Council grills top Cantrell official over ‘smart cities’ deal” by Michael Isaac Stein for The Lens
Minnesota: “Minneapolis City Council Blocks Chamber Consulting Gift to Improve Mayor Frey’s Office Efficiency” by Liz Navratil for Minneapolis Star Tribune
New Jersey: “A Toxic Culture Exists in N.J. Politics, Campaigns, Experts Say. This Lesson Aims to Prevent Harassment.” by Susan Livio (NJ Advance Media) for MSN
National: “Former Top State Official to Plead Guilty for Helping Qatar” by Alan Sunderman and Jim Mustian (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
Florida: “Disney’s Special Tax District Pushes Back Against Law That Would Dissolve It” by Lori Rozsa and Beth Reinhard (Washington Post) for MSN
Illinois: “New Chicago IG Asked to Investigate City Clerk Anna Valencia’s Lobbying Connections” by Mary Ann Ahern (WMAQ) for MSN
April 29, 2022 •
National/Federal Amid the War in Ukraine, PR Firms Defend Russian-Tied Clients MSN – Hailey Fuchs (Politico) | Published: 4/26/2022 Several wealthy businesspeople from Eastern Europe have turned to public relations professionals to help navigate press coverage emanating from Russia’s assault on […]
Amid the War in Ukraine, PR Firms Defend Russian-Tied Clients
MSN – Hailey Fuchs (Politico) | Published: 4/26/2022
Several wealthy businesspeople from Eastern Europe have turned to public relations professionals to help navigate press coverage emanating from Russia’s assault on Ukraine. It has created a unique business opportunity for Madison Avenue and beyond. They want to make sure the press does not tie them to the Kremlin or describe them as oligarchs. Whereas K Street and some law firms have worked to distance themselves from Russian interests, public relations professionals have stepped in to help illuminate the distinctions between those businesspeople tied to Putin and those who want nothing to do with him.
Bill Subjecting U.S. Judges to More Financial Disclosure Passes Congress
Yahoo News – Nate Raymond (Reuters) | Published: 4/27/2022
Legislation that would subject U.S. Supreme Court justices and federal judges to tougher disclosure requirements for their financial holdings and stock trades passed the House in a rare show of bipartisanship. The bill, approved on a voice vote after winning Senate passage in February, would make it easier for the public to see if a member of the federal judiciary has a financial conflict-of-interest warranting recusal from hearing a case. Lawmakers introduced the bill after The Wall Street Journal reported more than 130 federal judges had failed to recuse themselves from cases involving companies in which they or their family members owned stock.
Democrats Ramp Up Investigation into Impact of Disinformation on Elections
MSN – Jacqueline Alemany (Washington Post) | Published: 4/21/2022
House Democrats are seeking information from officials in key battleground states about their efforts to combat “lies and conspiracy theories” that could damage the integrity of federal elections as part of a broader investigation into the “weaponization of misinformation and disinformation” in the electoral process. The leaders of the House Oversight and Reform and House Administration committees sent letters to election officials in Florida, Arizona, Texas, and Ohio – all Republican-led states – requesting the information while noting their concern about new laws affecting election administration.
Ethics of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Other Justices Questioned at Hearing
MSN – Ella Lee (USA Today) | Published: 4/28/2022
Experts and lawmakers questioned how strict ethics rules should be for U.S. Supreme Court justices, a topic that has gained importance recently with revelations that Ginni Thomas, the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, supported efforts to challenge the 2020 presidential election results. But the discussion at a House subcommittee hearing largely split along party lines. Republicans accused reform proponents of partisan and racial attacks against Justice Thomas. Democrats pointed to ethical lapses of justices appointed by both parties and the importance of the appearance of impartiality, in addition to impartiality as defined by law.
Feds Could Accept Donations of Up to $10K for Legal Funds Under First-Ever Ethics Rule
Government Executive – Eric Katz | Published: 4/22/2022
The Office of Government Ethics (OGE) issued first-of-its-kind guidelines for federal employees who accept donations to pay for job-related legal fees, easing the restrictions on receiving gifts that the workers typically face. The proposed rule followed high-profile Trump administration officials drawing scrutiny for their use of such funds. The OGE said the rule, while expanding the universe of individuals from whom federal employees can accept gifts, would help avoid perceptions of civil servants using their public office for private gain.
GOP Texts Cast Renewed Spotlight on Post-2020 Election Efforts
MSN – Jacqueline Alemany and Felicia Sonmez (Washington Post) | Published: 4/25/2022
Newly revealed text messages between then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and congressional Republicans including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene cast a renewed spotlight on communication between the Trump White House and allies determined to overturn the results of the 2020 election or stoke chaos in its aftermath. The texts involving dozens of GOP members of Congress prompted calls for a panel investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol to reconsider issuing subpoenas or other punitive measures against lawmakers who were involved with peddling dubious legal theories that might have contributed to the deadly assault.
McCarthy Said Trump Acknowledged ‘Some Responsibility’ for Attack on Jan. 6
Seattle Times – Alexander Burns and Neil Vigdor (New York Times) | Published: 4/22/2022
Then-House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy told Republican lawmakers in the days after the attack on the U.S. Capitol that former President Trump acknowledged he bore “some responsibility” for what happened that day. The audio, obtained by The New York Times, is part of a series of revelations about GOP leaders’ private condemnations of Trump in the days after his supporters stormed the Capitol. The revelation comes as congressional investigators scour for evidence of Trump’s involvement in his supporters’ failed attempt to block the official certification of his loss in the 2020 election.
Paid Protesters, Free Lunches and Backroom Chats: Inside the menthol lobbying machine
Bureau of Investigative Journalism – Emily Baumgaertner (Los Angeles Times), Ben Stockton, and Ryan Lindsay | Published: 4/25/2022
Menthol cigarettes are the choice of 85% of Black smokers, the result of decades of targeted marketing in Black communities. Cities have banned the sale of menthol-flavored cigarettes. As the Food and Drug Administration considers a nationwide ban, the owner of the country’s most popular menthol brand has waged a huge lobbying and public relations campaign to keep them in the hands of smokers. An investigation reveals how consultants working for Reynolds American have exploited concerns about police brutality against Black citizens and at times failed to declare their links to the industry.
Rep. Ronny Jackson’s Campaign Paid for Dues at Private Social Club
MSN – Chris Marquette (Roll Call) | Published: 4/25/2022
U.S. Rep. Ronny Jackson tapped his campaign account for more than $2,300 in costs associated with membership at a private social club in Texas, campaign finance records show. Jackson spent campaign donor money at the posh Amarillo Club on what were described in some disclosures to the FEC as membership fees or dues. It is illegal to spend campaign funds for personal purposes. “These costs are strictly associated with campaign and fundraising events,” Casey Nelson, a spokesperson for Jackson, said in a statement.
Trump Officials Overruled Pentagon to Approve Pandemic Loan, Emails Show
MSN – Yeganeh Torbati and Jeff Stein (Washington Post) | Published: 4/27/2022
Senior Trump administration officials overruled Pentagon staffers to provide a politically connected trucking firm with hundreds of millions of dollars in pandemic aid after a concerted lobbying effort, according to documents released by House Democrats. Career employees at the Defense Department decided they should not certify Yellow Corp. was critical to maintaining national security, which would mean the company could not qualify for a loan program created by Congress, the investigation found. But the Trump appointees ignored that determination after a phone call between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
Twitter Has Been Focused on ‘Healthy Conversations.’ Elon Musk Could Change That
MSN – Sarah Ashley O’Brien and Clare Duffy (CNN) | Published: 4/26/2022
Twitter has banned many accounts promoting abuse and spam, added labels for false or misleading information, and launched a team dedicated to studying and increasing transparency around the technology that determines what content is promoted on the site. But some critics say the work Twitter has done in recent years could be unraveled now that Elon Musk acquired Twitter in a deal worth about $44 billion. Twitter has an outsized influence in the online (and offline) world because it is popular among influential figures, and because it has often acted as a model for other platforms on how to address thorny harmful content issues.
Canada – Conservatives Ask If Trudeau Used ‘Get Out of Jail Free Card’ Before 2016 Aga Khan Vacation
CBC – Staff | Published: 4/25/2022
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) examined the possibility of charging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with fraud after investigating his 2016 family vacation on the Aga Khan’s private island in the Bahamas. The police force ultimately decided not to pursue a criminal investigation of the trip, which was separately examined by former ethics commissioner Mary Dawson. The RCMP’s decision responded, in part, to a nuance in the law that makes it possible for sitting prime ministers to grant themselves consent to receive gifts that otherwise would constitute fraud against the government.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – A Top GOP Prosecutor Said Trump Lost. Running for Senate, He Has a New Message.
MSN – Hannah Knowles (Washington Post) | Published: 4/23/2022
As false claims of a stolen election took root in 2020, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican, spoke out on national television. Donald Trump was projected to lose the swing state, he said, and “no facts” suggested that would change. But Brnovich recently called into a far-right podcast with a different message: his investigation into the vote was turning up “serious concerns.” Many GOP candidates have embraced the former president’s false election claims while seeking an endorsement in their 2022 primary races. But Brnovich, now running for U.S. Senate, stands out for his shift over the past year and a half.
California – Beverly Hills Developer Agrees to Plead Guilty in Bribery Scheme
MSN – Christopher Goffard (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 4/27/2022
Developer Arman Gabaee agreed to plead guilty to bribing a former Los Angeles County real estate official in connection with a lucrative lease scheme, a charge that could bring a 10-year federal prison term. Gabaee paid the county employee, Thomas Shepos, about $1,000 a month from around 2011 to 2017, according to the plea agreement. In exchange, Shepos gave non-public information to Gabaee and got him favorable terms on county deals. Shepos cooperated with the FBI and secretly recorded meetings at which Gabaee paid $6,000 in cash bribes.
California – ‘People’s Convoy’ Truckers Driven Out After Youths, Residents Egged Them
MSN – Timothy Bella (Washington Post) | Published: 4/26/2022
A trucker convoy were blasting their horns and crowding the roadway outside the East Bay home of California Assembly member Buffy Wicks. The truckers said on a live stream they were targeting the Democrat because she had proposed a bill preventing coroners from investigating stillbirths and other lost pregnancies. Another bill she proposed calls for employers to mandate that workers be vaccinated against the coronavirus. It turns out that residents of the neighborhood, including the younger ones, were not happy with the hulking rigs disrupting their lives. Video shows people pelting the trucks with eggs and shouting, “Get out of our town!”
California – Riverside Man Who Was LADWP General Manager Sentenced to 6 Years in Prison in Bribery Scheme
Riverside Press-Enterprise – City News Service | Published: 4/25/2022
A former top executive of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) was sentenced to six years in federal prison for his role in a bribery scheme stemming from a probe of the city’s handling of the botched launch of a DWP billing system. David Wright will also pay a fine of $75,000. Prosecutors said Wright accepted bribes from a lawyer in exchange for supporting a $30 million, no-bid DWP contract. The lawyer named in the case, Paul Paradis, pleaded guilty to a federal bribery count and is awaiting sentencing.
California – Villanueva Backs Off Investigation of Times Reporter Who Revealed Cover-Up
MSN – Harriet Ryan and Brittny Mejia (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 4/26/2022
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva criticized Los Angeles Times reporter Alene Tchekmedyian during a news conference in which he suggested two longtime foes leaked to the journalist a surveillance video showing a deputy kneeling on the head of a handcuffed inmate. Villanueva noted a list of possible felonies under investigation in the case, including conspiracy and burglary. The sheriff termed the video stolen property. The U.S. Supreme Court has held journalists generally cannot be held liable for publishing leaked materials that are about matters of public concern, even if the reporter knew or should have known they were obtained illegally.
Connecticut – A CT Group Home Director Wants to Cash in on Her State-Funded Properties
CT Mirror – Andrew Brown | Published: 4/24/2022
For nearly four decades, Malcolm and Margaret Winkley have run a pair of nonprofits in Connecticut that serve individuals with developmental disabilities. Over the course of those 40 years, the husband and wife used their authority over the two organizations, and the taxpayer money they received, to amass millions of dollars’ worth of real estate. Records show the couple held the titles for group homes while the nonprofits used state and federal funding to pay the taxes, insurance, and mortgages on those properties. That arrangement was specifically called out in an ethics opinion in 1999.
Florida – Voting Rights Groups Sue Florida Over New Congressional Map
Yahoo News – Gary Fineout (Politico) | Published: 4/22/2022
Several voting rights and civil rights organizations as well as a Democratic-aligned redistricting group sued over Florida’s new congressional map on the same day Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the map into law. The map hands significant gains to Republicans and dismantles the North Florida seat now held by a Black Democrat. In their filings, the groups challenging the map contend the proposal violates Florida’s voter-approved anti-gerrymandering standards that were first approved by voters back in 2010.
Georgia – Greene Says She Can’t Remember If She Urged Trump to Impose Martial Law
MSN – Matthew Brown and Felicia Sonmez (Washington Post) | Published: 4/21/2022
U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, testifying about her alleged role in the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol as part of a case seeking to disqualify her from seeking reelection, said she could not remember whether she urged then-President Trump to impose martial law to remain in power. The exchange marked one of dozens of times during the hearing that Greene said she could not recall her tweets or statements related to the attack. Greene’s appearance in an Atlanta courtroom represented one of the first times a member of Congress has been questioned under oath about the insurrection.
Illinois – Ethics Chair Proposes Sweeping Package of Ethics Reforms
Chicago Sun-Times – Fran Spielman | Published: 4/22/2022
Chicago Ald. Michele Smith unveiled a sweeping package of ethics reforms. Provisions include empowering the city Board of Ethics to levy fines as high as $20,000 for violations, quadruple the current maximum, plus the “entire amount of the ill-gotten gains.” It would extend the $1,500 limit on campaign contributions within an election cycle to sub-contractors and applying that limit to other agencies of local government. “The whole idea of ‘I got a guy at City Hall’ – we’re trying to end that,” said Smith, who chairs the council’s Committee on Ethics and Government Oversight.
Illinois – Former Crestwood Mayor Louis Presta Sentenced to 1 Year in Prison in Red Light Camera Bribery Case
WBBM – Todd Feurer | Published: 4/25/2022
Former Crestwood Mayor Louis Presta was sentenced to one year and one day in prison after pleading guilty to taking a $5,000 bribe from a red-light camera company executive in 2018. Presta, who resigned from office a day before pleading guilty to federal bribery and tax charges in November, was caught on camera accepting an envelope containing $5,000 in cash from former SafeSpeed executive Omar Maani, and then lied about it when questioned by the FBI and IRS, falsely claiming the envelope was empty.
Indiana – Candidate with Ties to Troubled Casino Wants Indiana Statehouse Seat – Again
Yahoo News – Tony Cook (Indianapolis Star) | Published: 4/26/2022
Former Indiana Rep. Matthew Whetstone resigned his seat in 2007 to become a lobbyist, then returned to the statehouse as parliamentarian for the House speaker in 2013, only to leave in 2015 to create his own lobbying firm. Now, Whetstone wants to return to the General Assembly. Critics say Whetstone’s case is a particularly egregious example of the “revolving door” culture at the Capitol, where government officials often seek private sector jobs to cash in on their public service. The state has a one-year waiting period for those who leave government service to become lobbyists, but there is no restriction for lobbyists who want to become lawmakers.
Iowa – Watchdogs Troubled by Ties to Iowa Government by Those Behind Carbon Dioxide Pipeline
Minneapolis Star Tribune – Leah Douglas (Reuters) | Published: 4/25/2022
Summit Carbon Solutions, the company behind a carbon pipeline proposal in the Midwest, has close ties to Iowa officials and regulators charged with approving a large part of its route. The proposed Midwest Carbon Express pipeline would connect customers such as ethanol plants in Iowa and Minnesota to a carbon storage facility in North Dakota. Iowa would host the longest portion of the pipeline. At least four members of Summit’s leadership have direct links to the Iowa governor’s office or the Iowa Utility Board, both of which could influence the future of the roughly 2,000-mile pipeline.
Kansas – Judge Strikes Down Kansas Map, Finding Lawmakers Intended to Dilute Minority Voter Power
MSN – Jonathan Shorman and Katie Bernard (Kansas City Star) | Published: 4/25/2022
A Kansas judge tossed the state’s Republican-drawn congressional map, finding the Legislature intentionally diluted minority votes in a partisan and political gerrymander that violated the state constitution. The decision by Wyandotte County District Court Judge Bill Klapper is a victory for a group of voters who challenged the map, arguing it violated guarantees of voting rights, equal rights, and free speech in the Kansas Constitution. It is the first time in Kansas history a state court has ruled against a congressional map.
Maryland – Ohio Bribery Scandal Hits Home in Md. – and Utility Customers May Be Footing the Bill
Maryland Matters – Josh Kurtz | Published: 4/21/2022
In 2020, then-Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and four of his associates were arrested in a bribery scandal. The aftershocks are still being felt in Maryland. Householder and the four operatives were charged in a federal criminal complaint of accepting $61 million in bribes from FirstEnergy to pass legislation that provided a $1.5 billion taxpayer-funded bailout for the utility’s nuclear power plants. FirstEnergy is the parent company of Potomac Edison, the electric utility that serves customers in Western Maryland. A consumer watchdog in the state is trying to figure out how much the Ohio scandal is costing ratepayers in Maryland.
Michigan – Monica Conyers a ‘Candidate’ for Wayne County Executive, but Banned from Serving
Detroit News – James David Jackson | Published: 4/27/2022
Former Detroit City Council President Monica Conyers set herself up for a comeback on April 19, when she filed to run as a Democrat in the Wayne County executive race. But she is banned from being elected to office under Michigan law since she pleaded guilty in 2009 to one federal count of conspiracy to commit bribery. Conyers was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison for accepting money in exchange for her vote on a $1 billion sludge-hauling deal.
Minnesota – A Candidate Gave a Speech While in Labor – Then Had to Withdraw from the Race to Give Birth
MSN – Amy Wang (Washington Post) | Published: 4/25/2022
For months, a running joke inside Erin Maye Quade’s campaign for the Minnesota Senate was that the candidate, pregnant with her first child, might give birth April 23, the day Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party delegates would gather to vote on who would be the party’s nominee for the race. It would be a grueling convention, packed with speeches, in-person campaigning for delegates’ support, and potentially multiple rounds of balloting. As fate would have it, on the day of the convention, Maye Quade texted her campaign manager to let him know she had gone into labor four hours earlier.
Missouri – Dueker Deregisters as Lobbyist to Fundraise for St. Louis County Executive Race
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Nasim Benchaabane | Published: 4/26/2022
Local police union attorney Jane Dueker deregistered as a lobbyist to open her own campaign account for the Democratic primary for St. Louis County executive. Dueker, who had previously argued it was not necessary to fundraise for her campaign, said her decision was based on “the overwhelming support I’m getting from voters in St. Louis County.” Missouri law forbids registered lobbyists from operating campaign accounts. JanePAC, a third-party PAC newly formed to support Dueker, recently accepted $10,000 from the St. Louis County Police Association, one of the unions Dueker had represented as a lobbyist.
New York – Judge Holds Trump in Contempt Over Documents in New York A.G.’s Inquiry
MSN – Jonah Bromwich, Ben Protess, and William Rashbaum (New York Times) | Published: 4/25/2022
A New York judge held Donald Trump in contempt of court for failing to turn over documents to the state’s attorney general, an extraordinary rebuke of the former president. The judge ordered Trump to comply with a subpoena seeking records and assessed a fine of $10,000 per day until he satisfied the court’s requirements. Alina Habba, a lawyer for Trump, said she intended to appeal the ruling. Still, the ruling represents a significant victory for New York Attorney General Letitia James, whose office is conducting a civil investigation into whether Trump falsely inflated the value of his assets in annual financial statements.
New York – Lt. Governor Indictment Puts Spotlight on State Campaign Finance Reform
Albany Times Union – Rebekah Ward | Published: 4/22/2022
When then-Lt. Governor Brian Benjamin was accused of taking fraudulent contributions for his 2021 failed bid for New York City comptroller, attention turned to a city agency soon to be mirrored at the state level: the Campaign Finance Board. Some proponents of statewide reform are lauding the role the city’s board appears to have had in spurring the indictment against Benjamin, which describes his attempt to defraud the city’s matching funds program. Detractors of the impending changes in the state’s campaign system say the alleged fraud does not bode well for a program that will soon see more taxpayer money spent on elections in New York.
New York – N.Y. Congressional Map Is Illegal and Must Be Redrawn, Court Says
MSN – Colby Itkowitz (Washington Post) | Published: 4/27/2022
New York’s highest court struck down the state’s new congressional map as unconstitutional, dealing a setback to Democrats ahead of this year’s midterm elections. The state’s Court of Appeals sided with Republicans, who sued over complaints that the new lines were drawn to help Democrats win more seats. The court called the map “substantively unconstitutional as drawn with impermissible partisan purpose.”
North Carolina – Former Representative Ends Campaign for NC House After Health Issues, Missing Finance Documents
Charlotte Observer – Will Wright | Published: 4/25/2022
Former state Rep. Rodney Moore’s return to politics started with a state-mandated prohibition on accepting campaign contributions. Moore was making his first bid for General Assembly since he was convicted of a felony charge in a campaign finance case in 2019. Moore announced on Twitter he was going to “withdraw my candidacy” for House District 112. He will still appear on ballots. Until earlier in April, he was barred from accepting campaign contributions in the new race. Records show Moore did not file a quarterly finance report from 2018 until April 7. He still owes the state several other required campaign disclosures.
North Dakota – State Senator to Resign After Report He Texted with Child Porn Suspect
MSN – Julian Mark (Washington Post) | Published: 4/25/2022
As Nicholas James Morgan-Derosier, accused of possessing child pornography, sat in a North Dakota jail in August 2021, he texted with people on the outside. Among them was one of the most powerful senators in the North Dakota Legislature. All told, state Sen. Ray Holmberg and Morgan-Derosier exchanged 72 text messages as Morgan-Derosier was being held on the child pornography charges, although it remains unclear exactly what they communicated about. Now Holmberg, the state’s longest-serving senator, announced his resignation.
Ohio – FirstEnergy Agrees to $37.5 Million Settlement to Resolve Ratepayer Lawsuits over HB6 Scandal
MSN – Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 4/22/2022
FirstEnergy reached a $37.5 million settlement to resolve four lawsuits filed by ratepayers who sued the utility over the House Bill 6 scandal. FirstEnergy had set aside the money to settle the suits that alleged the company committed civil federal and state anti-racketeering violations. FirstEnergy is still involved other lawsuits related to the legislation, which federal authorities say was passed thanks to $60 million in FirstEnergy bribe money distributed via a network overseen by then-Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder.
Ohio – Ohio State Superintendent of Public Instruction Finalist Led Job Search for the Position for Months Before Applying, Emails Show
Cleveland Plain Dealer – Laura Hancock | Published: 4/27/2022
A candidate on the short list for the open state superintendent of public instruction position led the superintendent search for several months, which provided him access to his competitors’ applications and other information. Steve Dackin was vice president of the Ohio State Board of Education before resigning. Former board members can apply for positions in the agency they have overseen, as long as the job search process is open and fair and “it is clear that they did not use the position, while on the board, to secure the job, and that the best and most qualified candidate is selected for the job,” according to an Ohio Ethics Commission summary of the law.
Oklahoma – Stitt Vetoes Bill Requiring Gubernatorial Appointees to File Financial Disclosure Forms
Yahoo News – Carmen Forman (Oklahoman) | Published: 4/27/2022
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt vetoed legislation that would require his appointed Cabinet secretaries and state agency directors to file financial disclosure forms. In his veto message, Stitt asked the Legislature to take a more holistic approach to requiring financial disclosures by also requesting the same information from legislative appointees to boards, commissions, and agency leadership positions.
Rhode Island – US Supreme Court Lets R.I. Election Finance Disclosure Law Stand
MSN – Edward Fitzpatrick (Boston Globe) | Published: 4/25/2022
The U.S. Supreme Court will not take up a challenge to Rhode Island’s campaign finance law. The state enacted the disclosure law in response to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which allowed corporations and other outside groups to spend unlimited amounts on elections. Two conservative groups claimed the law, which requires disclosures and disclaimers for independent expenditures or electioneering communications, violates the First Amendment and infringes on rights of privacy and association.
Tennessee – Tennessee Attorney General Takes Cade Cothren to Court Over Subpoena Issue
Yahoo News – Melissa Brown (Tennessean) | Published: 4/26/2022
The Tennessee attorney general asked a local court to compel former political aide Cade Cothren to explain why he refused to obey subpoenas issued in a campaign finance probe earlier this year. The court filing follows a Tennessee Registry of Election Finance investigation into Rep. Glen Casada and related PACs, which the registry referred to Williamson County prosecutors. Cothren’s attorney called the subpoenas an “abuse of process” and stated her client would invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Virginia – Lawsuit Targets Skill-Game Company Over Lobbying Effort Invoking Deceased Senator
Virginia Mercury – Graham Moomaw | Published: 4/26/2022
A lawsuit seeks $1.35 million in damages against business entities affiliated with Queen of Virginia, one of the state’s leading suppliers of the electronic gaming machines that have spread to many sports bars, convenience stores, and truck stops. The estate of the late Virginia Sen. Yvonne Miller is suing the company over a photograph of Miller used as part of a lobbying campaign near the end of the 2021 General Assembly session, when lawmakers were considering outlawing skill games.
Washington DC – D.C. Councilmember Brooke Pinto Broke Campaign Finance Law Last Year
DCist – Martin Austermuhle | Published: 4/26/2022
The fundraiser held on December 6, 2021, was seemingly routine: a small group of wealthy supporters gathered at the home of real estate developer Marc Duber to contribute up to $500 a person to District of Columbia Councilperson Brooke Pinto. “Help Brooke retire her 2020 campaign loans,” read an invitation for the event, which ultimately netted the first-term lawmaker just over $21,000. But the fundraiser was lot legal. Pinto ran afoul of a new law that prohibits candidates who win office from fundraising to pay off campaign debts more than six months after they are elected to office.
April 28, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Missouri: “Dueker Deregisters as Lobbyist to Fundraise for St. Louis County Executive Race” by Nasim Benchaabane for St. Louis Post-Dispatch Tennessee: “Tennessee Attorney General Takes Cade Cothren to Court Over Subpoena Issue” by Melissa Brown (Tennessean) for Yahoo […]
Missouri: “Dueker Deregisters as Lobbyist to Fundraise for St. Louis County Executive Race” by Nasim Benchaabane for St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Tennessee: “Tennessee Attorney General Takes Cade Cothren to Court Over Subpoena Issue” by Melissa Brown (Tennessean) for Yahoo News
Minnesota: “A Candidate Gave a Speech While in Labor – Then Had to Withdraw from the Race to Give Birth” by Amy Wang (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Trump Officials Overruled Pentagon to Approve Pandemic Loan, Emails Show” by Yeganeh Torbati and Jeff Stein (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Bill Subjecting U.S. Judges to More Financial Disclosure Passes Congress” by Nate Raymond (Reuters) for Yahoo News
California: “‘People’s Convoy’ Truckers Driven Out After Youths, Residents Egged Them” by Timothy Bella (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “Villanueva Backs Off Investigation of Times Reporter Who Revealed Cover-Up” by Harriet Ryan and Brittny Mejia (Los Angeles Times) for MSN
Ohio: “Ohio State Superintendent of Public Instruction Finalist Led Job Search for the Position for Months Before Applying, Emails Show” by Laura Hancock for Cleveland Plain Dealer
National: “Amid the War in Ukraine, PR Firms Defend Russian-Tied Clients” by Hailey Fuchs (Politico) for MSN
Virginia: “Lawsuit Targets Skill-Game Company Over Lobbying Effort Invoking Deceased Senator” by Graham Moomaw for Virginia Mercury
April 27, 2022 •
Campaign Finance New York: “Lt. Governor Indictment Puts Spotlight on State Campaign Finance Reform” by Rebekah Ward for Albany Times Union Washington DC: “D.C. Councilmember Brooke Pinto Broke Campaign Finance Law Last Year” by Martin Austermuhle for DCist Elections National: […]
New York: “Lt. Governor Indictment Puts Spotlight on State Campaign Finance Reform” by Rebekah Ward for Albany Times Union
Washington DC: “D.C. Councilmember Brooke Pinto Broke Campaign Finance Law Last Year” by Martin Austermuhle for DCist
National: “GOP Texts Cast Renewed Spotlight on Post-2020 Election Efforts” by Jacqueline Alemany and Felicia Sonmez (Washington Post) for MSN
Canada: “Conservatives Ask If Trudeau Used ‘Get Out of Jail Free Card’ Before 2016 Aga Khan Vacation” by Staff for CBC
Illinois: “Former Crestwood Mayor Louis Presta Sentenced to 1 Year in Prison in Red Light Camera Bribery Case” by Todd Feurer for WBBM
Indiana: “Candidate with Ties to Troubled Casino Wants Indiana Statehouse Seat – Again” by Tony Cook (Indianapolis Star) for Yahoo News
North Dakota: “State Senator to Resign After Report He Texted with Child Porn Suspect” by Julian Mark (Washington Post) for MSN
New York: “New York’s Congressional Maps Were Improperly Gerrymandered, Mid-Level Court Concludes” by Bill Mahoney (Politico) for MSN
April 26, 2022 •
Campaign Finance North Carolina: “Missing Finance Documents Cause Problems for Former Representative’s Return to NC Politics” by Will Wright (Charlotte Observer) for MSN Rhode Island: “US Supreme Court Lets R.I. Election Finance Disclosure Law Stand” by Edward Fitzpatrick (Boston Globe) […]
North Carolina: “Missing Finance Documents Cause Problems for Former Representative’s Return to NC Politics” by Will Wright (Charlotte Observer) for MSN
Rhode Island: “US Supreme Court Lets R.I. Election Finance Disclosure Law Stand” by Edward Fitzpatrick (Boston Globe) for MSN
National: “Elon Musk Buys Twitter for $44B and Will Privatize Company” by Tom Krisher and Matt O’Brien (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
National: “Rep. Ronny Jackson’s Campaign Paid for Dues at Private Social Club” by Chris Marquette (Roll Call) for MSN
New York: “Judge Holds Trump in Contempt Over Documents in New York A.G.’s Inquiry” by Jonah Bromwich, Ben Protess, and William Rashbaum (New York Times) for MSN
Ohio: “FirstEnergy Agrees to $37.5 Million Settlement to Resolve Ratepayer Lawsuits over HB6 Scandal” by Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) for MSN
National: “Paid Protesters, Free Lunches and Backroom Chats: Inside the menthol lobbying machine” by Ben Stockton, Emily Baumgaertner, and Ryan Lindsay for Bureau of Investigative Journalism
Kansas: “Judge Strikes Down Kansas Map, Finding Lawmakers Intended to Dilute Minority Voter Power” by Jonathan Shorman and Katie Bernard (Kansas City Star) for MSN
April 25, 2022 •
Elections Arizona: “A Top GOP Prosecutor Said Trump Lost. Running for Senate, He Has a New Message.” by Hannah Knowles (Washington Post) for MSN Georgia: “Greene Says She Can’t Remember If She Urged Trump to Impose Martial Law” by Matthew […]
Arizona: “A Top GOP Prosecutor Said Trump Lost. Running for Senate, He Has a New Message.” by Hannah Knowles (Washington Post) for MSN
Georgia: “Greene Says She Can’t Remember If She Urged Trump to Impose Martial Law” by Matthew Brown and Felicia Sonmez (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “McCarthy Said Trump Acknowledged ‘Some Responsibility’ for Attack on Jan. 6” by Alexander Burns and Neil Vigdor (New York Times) for Seattle Times
National: “Feds Could Accept Donations of Up to $10K for Legal Funds Under First-Ever Ethics Rule” by Eric Katz for Government Executive
Connecticut: “A CT Group Home Director Wants to Cash in on Her State-Funded Properties” by Andrew Brown for CT Mirror
Illinois: “Mayor Lori Lightfoot Ally Says She Will Tackle Ethics Reform in New City Council Package” by Alice Yin (Chicago Tribune) for Yahoo News
Maryland: “Ohio Bribery Scandal Hits Home in Md. – and Utility Customers May Be Footing the Bill” by Josh Kurtz for Maryland Matters
Florida: “Voting Rights Groups Sue Florida Over New Congressional Map” by Gary Fineout (Politico) for Yahoo News
April 22, 2022 •
National/Federal Agencies Announce Plans for More Equity in Federal Programs MSN – Michael Macagnone (Roll Call) | Published: 4/14/2022 Dozens of federal agencies launched plans that focus on minority groups and other underserved communities, meant to open federal programs to more […]
Agencies Announce Plans for More Equity in Federal Programs
MSN – Michael Macagnone (Roll Call) | Published: 4/14/2022
Dozens of federal agencies launched plans that focus on minority groups and other underserved communities, meant to open federal programs to more people and reduce racial disparities caused by government decisions. The plans come in response to an executive order President Joe Biden issued on his first day in office to get federal agencies to reassess how their programs may contribute to inequities. Across agencies, the plans included steps like increased coordination with tribal governments, broadening procurement for minority-owned small businesses, and increasing civil rights enforcement.
Campaign Finance Watchdog Cracks Down on Untraceable Super PAC Donations
MSN – Zach Montellaro (Politico) | Published: 4/15/2022
A statement from four of the six members of the FEC indicated the agency would now start cracking down on straw donations to super PACs that are funneled through limited liability companies (LLCs) by requiring disclose of who is behind the LLCs. These types of contributions through anonymous LLCs have become increasingly common in recent years, as some wealthy political donors look to shield their contributions from the public by routing them through other entities first. The FEC has been frozen for years on what to do about these contributions, effectively blessing them by not policing requirements that would have forced further disclosure.
Capitol Police’s New Vetting Practices Raise ‘First Amendment Concerns,’ Whistleblowers’ Lawyer Says
Yahoo News – Betsy Woodruff Swan and Daniel Lippman (Politico) | Published: 4/19/2022
After a year of scrutiny following the January 6, 2021, insurrection, the Capitol Police is facing fresh criticism of its intelligence-gathering tactics from some of its own former analysts. An employment lawyer, who represents five people who worked in the department’s intelligence division in January of 2021, says his clients believe Capitol Police conduct veered beyond protecting members to raising First Amendment concerns. Among the allegations from Dan Gebhardt’s clients include that Capitol Police intelligence analysts were directed to “conduct research” on the relatives of members of Congress as part of their security work.
Censorship Battles’ New Frontier: Your public library
MSN – Annie Gowan (Washington Post) | Published: 4/17/2022
In a growing number of communities across America, conservatives have mounted challenges to books and other content related to race, sex, gender, and other subjects they deem inappropriate. A movement that started in schools has rapidly expanded to public libraries, accounting for 37 percent of book challenges last year. Conservative activists in several states, including Texas, Montana, and Louisiana have joined forces with like-minded officials to dissolve libraries’ governing bodies, rewrite or delete censorship protections, and remove books outside of official challenge procedures.
Fearing a Trump Repeat, Jan. 6 Panel Considers Changes to Insurrection Act
Yahoo News – Luke Broadwater (New York Times) | Published: 4/20/2022
In the days before the attack on the Capitol, some of then-President Trump’s most extreme allies and members of right-wing militia groups urged him to use his power as commander in chief to unleash the military to help keep him in office. Now, as the House committee investigating last year’s riot uncovers new evidence about the lengths to which Trump was willing to go to cling to power, some lawmakers on the panel have begun discussions about rewriting the Insurrection Act, the 1807 law that gives presidents wide authority to deploy the military within the U.S. to respond to a rebellion.
GOP Lawmakers Vote Remotely More Often After Initial Scorn
Yahoo News – Alan Fram (Associated Press) | Published: 4/20/2022
More than 50 Republicans who once joined a lawsuit claiming the House’s pandemic-era proxy voting was unconstitutional have themselves voted by proxy this year, remotely without showing up. Across the aisle, U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele, a Hawaiian Airlines pilot, has used proxy votes on all but five of this year’s 125 roll calls. Three of his Democratic colleagues have used the proxy procedure for every vote. They are among 303 lawmakers of both parties who have cast votes by proxy at least once this year.
Lee Worked Hard to Overturn Election, Keep Trump in Power, Texts Show
MSN – Mariana Alfaro (Washington Post) | Published: 4/15/2022
U.S. Sen. Mike Lee worked furiously to overturn the 2020 election and keep then-President Trump in power before ultimately abandoning the effort when no evidence of widespread fraud surfaced and his outreach to states for alternate electors proved futile. Lee sent texts to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Lee makes clear he was working hard to assist Trump, saying in one text that he was spending “14 hours a day” on the effort and contacting state lawmakers seeking anything to give Congress a reason not to count the electoral votes for Biden and affirm his win.
Lobbying Heavy Hitters See Earnings Boom in First Quarter
MSN – Karl Evers-Hillstrom (The Hill) | Published: 4/20/2022
K Street’s largest lobbying firms reported big earnings in the first three months of 2022 as the industry set its sights on a packed legislative calendar leading up to November’s midterms. Most of Washington’s top lobbying firms had their best first quarter on record and fell just short of last year’s extraordinary fourth-quarter revenues that capped off a record-breaking year for K Street.
RNC Votes to Withdraw from Presidential Debates Commission
MSN – Amy Wang (Washington Post) | Published: 4/14/2022
The Republican National Committee (RNC) voted unanimously to withdraw from the Commission on Presidential Debates, following through on threats to bar GOP presidential nominees from participating in debates sponsored by the nonprofit organization. The RNC has accused the commission, which was repeatedly attacked by Donald Trump, of being biased in favor of Democrats. The bipartisan commission, which was established in 1987 and has hosted the debates since 1988, has rejected the charge.
These Lawyers and Firms Are Still Working with Russian Banks, Even Amid the War
MSN – Hailey Fuchs (Politico) | Published: 4/15/2022
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a host of lobbyists and law firms cut their ties with business entities tied to the Kremlin. But some lawyers are still on the Russian payroll, helping entities navigate the sanctions put in place because of the conflict. Erich Ferrari, a sanctions lawyer based in Washington, said he has taken new work for Russian individuals and corporations recently sanctioned by the Biden administration. His work, he maintains, is entirely legal and not subject to public disclosure under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
Canada – Lobbying Loophole Leaves B.C. Government Wide Open to Ethical Problems: Expert
North Shore News – Bob Mackin | Published: 4/18/2022
British Columbia’s New Democratic Party government ended the “wild west” of political campaign financing after it came to power in 2017 but left the door wide open to lobbying by party friends and insiders. Premier John Horgan’s party fulfilled a campaign promise to ban corporate and union donations and set an annual cap for individuals. They also strengthened lobbying regulations but did not go far enough to close the “revolving door,” said Daniel Gold, who studied the history and regulation of lobbying for a doctorate at the University of Ottawa.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey Signs Bill Prohibiting Public Spending on Union Activities
Ballotpedia News – Janie Valentine | Published: 4/15/2022
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed Senate Bill 1166 into law, prohibiting public-sector employers from spending public funds on a union’s political or lobbying activities. The bill defines union activities as “political activities performed by a union that involve advocating for the election or defeat of any political candidate” and “lobbying activities performed by a union that involve attempting to influence the passage or defeat of federal or state legislation, local ordinances, or any ballot measure.” It prohibits public employers from providing paid leave or other compensation while an employee performs such activities.
California – California Fire Victims Lobbyist Is Out Amid Sex Scandal
MSN – Associated Press | Published: 4/20/2022
Patrick McCallum, a lobbyist hired to secure a state loan to help tens of thousands of victims of devastating California wildfires, is leaving his job with the PG&E Fire Victim Trust amid a sexual harassment scandal. It was reported that McCallum’s wife, Sonoma State University President Judy Sakaki, retaliated against a former school provost for reporting complaints by female university employees that McCallum had sexually harassed them during a party at his house.
California – City of Industry’s Confidentiality Could Sink Criminal Case Against Its Former City Manager, Experts Say
San Gabriel Valley News – Jason Henry (Pasadena Star News) | Published: 4/19/2022
The City of Industry has repeatedly prevented the testimony of witnesses in the criminal hearing of former City Manager Paul Philips and may end up creating an opening for Philips’ defense team to argue their client cannot receive a fair trial on corruption charges. Experts say the judge in Philips’ case could dismiss the misappropriation of public funds charge against the former administrator as a last resort if the court is unable to find a balance between Philips’ constitutional right to a fair trial and Industry’s statutory right to prevent the public disclosure of confidential discussions protected by attorney-client and closed session privileges.
Colorado – Colorado Legislature Passes Bill Limiting Campaign Contributions to School Board Candidates
Aurora Sentinel – Carina Julig | Published: 4/13/2022
Following a cycle of school board elections with record-breaking campaign contributions, Colorado law now dictates the amount of money that individual donors and groups can give to school board candidates. The new law caps individual contributions to $2,500 and small donor committee contributions to $25,000 per candidate. It will not limit spending by independent expenditure committees.
Georgia – Judge Denies Abrams Bid to Seek Unlimited Contributions
Yahoo News – Kate Brumback (Associated Press) | Published: 4/14/2022
A federal judge ruled Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams cannot immediately begin raising and spending unlimited campaign contributions under a state law passed last year because she is not yet her party’s nominee. Abrams and her campaign challenged the constitutionality of the new law, which allows certain top elected officials and party nominees to create leadership committees that can raise campaign funds without limits. But they also asked the judge to order the state ethics commission not to take any action against them if they continue to raise money before the May primary.
Georgia – Legal Effort to Remove Greene from Ga. Ballot Can Proceed, Judge Rules
MSN – Eugene Scott (Washington Post) | Published: 4/19/2022
A federal judge ruled a group of Georgia voters can proceed with their legal effort to disqualify U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene from running for reelection because of her role in the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. Free Speech for People, a national election and campaign finance reform group, filed the challenge with the Georgia secretary of state’s office, alleging Greene helped facilitate the violent insurrection aimed at preventing Congress from confirming Joe Biden’s win. The challenge claims Greene’s actions violate a provision of the 14th Amendment and thus makes her ineligible to run for reelection.
Georgia – Perdue’s Senate Campaign Disclosures Under Scrutiny
Axios Atlanta – Emma Hurt | Published: 4/21/2022
The Georgia ethics commission is evaluating whether former U.S. Sen. David Perdue violated state law by spending some of his leftover Senate campaign funds on his governor’s race. Georgia law allows federal campaign money to be spent on state campaigns only up to the $7,600 limit. Federal disclosure reports show Perdue paid nearly $24,000 for “management consulting” to AJ Strategies. The latest gubernatorial disclosures do not show payments to AJ Strategies. It is a longtime vendor of Perdue’s, but this year the description of its services changed from “fundraising consulting” to “management consulting.”
Hawaii – Commission Recommends Prosecution in Falsified Campaign Donations Case
Honolulu Civil Beat – Blaze Lovell | Published: 4/20/2022
A development company executive could be facing criminal penalties over allegations he made illegal donations to Honolulu mayoral candidates in 2020. The Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission voted to forward an investigation into the contributions from JL Capital Chief Executive Officer Timothy Lee to the state attorney general’s office for further investigation. Commission staff allege Lee illegally used employees to funnel money to the mayoral campaigns of Keith Amemiya and Kymberly Pine in 2020. Lee is accused of eight counts of false name contributions, punishable by up to five years in prison.
Hawaii – Documents Show US Rep. Kai Kahele Has a Special Deal with Hawaiian Airlines
Honolulu Civil Beat – Nick Grube | Published: 4/15/2022
U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele is benefiting from a unique arrangement with Hawaiian Airlines that has allowed him to work and earn income as a part-time pilot while also serving in Congress. After Kahele was elected in November 2020, Hawaiian Airlines and the Air Line Pilots Association crafted a new leave policy that would allow him to maintain his flight status, seniority, and longevity with the company while he represented Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District. Kahele seems to be the only person within the company who qualifies for the benefit.
Illinois – Former Oakbrook Terrace Mayor Anthony Ragucci Charged in Red Light Camera Bribery Scheme
WBBM – Todd Feurer | Published: 4/18/2022
Former Oakbrook Terrace Mayor Anthony Ragucci is facing federal corruption charges, accused of taking thousands of dollars in payoffs in exchange for allowing red light cameras in the Chicago suburb. Ragucci, who resigned in January 2020 amid published reports of a federal investigation of the city’s red light camera contract, has been charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of filing a false tax return.
Indiana – Casino Executive Admits Funneling Cash to Indy GOP, Pleads Guilty to Tax Fraud
MSN – Tony Cook (Indianapolis Star) | Published: 4/18/2022
Casino executive and former Indiana lawmaker John Keeler pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of filing a false tax return in connection with a scheme to secretly funnel casino money to a Marion County Republican Party PAC. The guilty plea came one hour before Keeler’s trial was scheduled to begin and a week after his co-defendant, former state Sen. Brent Waltz, pleaded guilty. Keeler’s guilty plea is the latest develop in multi-year federal public corruption investigation involving New Centaur LLC, which owned Indiana’s only horse track-casinos until 2018. Keeler was the company’s vice president and general counsel.
Iowa – Iowa Supreme Court Rules Democrat Abby Finkenauer Can Be on Senate Primary Ballot
MSN – Felicia Sonmez and David Weigel (Washington Post) | Published: 4/15/2022
The Iowa Supreme Court ruled former U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer can appear on the Democratic primary ballot in the state’s Senate race, overturning a judge’s decision that she had not qualified because of issues with her nomination petition. Finkenauer is a top Democratic recruit in the race against longtime U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley. Republicans sought to knock Finkenauer off the ballot by challenging three signatures – one without a date, one with an incorrect date, and one where the signer wrote a Zip code instead of a date.
Maryland – A Growing Trend: More Black women among Annapolis lobbying corps
Maryland Matters – Elizabeth Shwe | Published: 4/15/2022
As the first Black woman to own and manage a law practice focused on lobbying and government relations in Maryland, Lisa Harris Jones is known as a trailblazer in Annapolis, inspiring other Black women to enter the field and helping open doors. But it did not come without condescension from the “old boys club” at the time, Harris Jones said. When she was thinking of opening her own law practice, a white male lobbyist laughed at the idea, she said. “It actually put the fire in me to go out on my own and start my practice,” Harris Jones said.
Maryland – Baltimore County Council Chairman Violated Policy with Emails Linking to Campaign Contribution Page, Inspector General Says
Yahoo News – Alison Knezevich (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 4/20/2022
Baltimore County Council Chairperson Julian Jones violated county policy when some of his official emails to constituents included a “donate” button for his political campaign, an investigation by the county inspector general found. The emails were sent using a third-party email marketing service and transmitted through a private computer server. But they used one of Jones’ county email addresses in the “from” line, and replies to those emails went through a county computer server. The report cites policy prohibiting the use of county email for anything other than “county business.”
Maryland – Baltimore Prosecutor Marilyn Mosby’s Annual Ethics Disclosure Lists No Donations to Her Legal Defense Fund
MSN – Alex Mann (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 4/14/2022
Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby filed her latest state ethics disclosure, reporting no gifts to a legal defense fund established for her and her husband, Baltimore City Council President Nick Mosby. The fund was created so the couple could defend themselves against a federal criminal tax investigation. Prominent supporters and community leaders have encouraged contributions, posting on Facebook and appearing at news conferences but whether anyone has donated remains a mystery. The submitted form should denote any donations from several key types of people outlined by state regulations.
Michigan – Michigan State Senator Hits Back at GOP Colleague Accusing Her of ‘Grooming’ Kids
Yahoo News – Christopher Wilson | Published: 4/20/2022
In a recent speech, Michigan Sen. Mallory McMorrow condemned a political attack by Sen. Lana Theis. She responded to accusations made in a fundraising email by Theis that McMorrow wants to “groom and sexualize kindergartners.” Republicans have attempted to position themselves as the party of parental rights, with state Legislatures across the country introducing a series of bills targeting the LGBTQ community, with those opposing the legislation being labeled as “groomers.” McMorrow’s speech was viewed over 9 million times in less than 24 hours since she posted it on Twitter.
Nebraska – GOP State Senator, Seven Other Women Say Charles Herbster Groped Them; He Denies Allegations
Nebraska Examiner – Aaron Sandeford | Published: 4/14/2022
Eight women, including state Sen. Julie Slama, accused Nebraska gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster of sexual misconduct. Six women said Herbster touched them inappropriately. A seventh woman said he once cornered her privately and kissed her forcibly. Herbster has denied the allegations. All of Slama’s 12 female colleagues rallied behind the senator in a statement. They said the allegations render Herbster “unfit to serve.” Three of the women said they were concerned about their careers if they reported the behavior. Several said they feared Herbster’s wealth and power.
New Jersey – Many NJ Lawmakers Make Money from Local Government Contracts. Experts Say Disclosure Is Key
Bergen Record – Katie Sobko | Published: 4/18/2022
Municipal and county contracts for the law firm of Rainone Coughlin Minchello have grown from to more than $6.6 million in 2021. During that time, New Jersey Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, a founding member of the firm, has become one of the most powerful Democrats in the state. The firm’s political contributions have also grown. In 2021, they were among the top ten donors among contractors. Coughlin and his firm are continuing a tradition of close contact between Trenton and local government. The contracts and contributions are legal, as long as the firm follows the state’s “pay-to-play” laws and publicly discloses the amounts.
New Jersey – One of N.J.’s Oldest Political Traditions Was Canceled Again This Year. Will the ‘Chamber Train’ Come Back?
MSN – Susan Livio and Kelly Heyboer (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 4/15/2022
For more than 80 years, New Jersey lawmakers, business leaders, and lobbyists boarded a row of Amtrak train cars to drink, talk, and schmooze in one of the state’s quirkiest political traditions. The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce’s annual “Walk to Washington” – better known as the Chamber Train – attracted hundreds willing to pay for a chance to meet some of the state’s most powerful people. But that all ended when the pandemic hit. The group canceled its event in 2022, for the second year in a row. Some are asking if the Chamber Train will return.
New Mexico – Democratic Lawmaker’s Campaign Contributions to Colleagues’ Opponents Spark Friction
Santa Fe New Mexican – Daniel Chacón | Published: 4/20/2022
New Mexico Rep. Patty Lundstrom is facing a backlash over her campaign donations to challengers running against four Democratic incumbents in the House. Rep. Gail Chasey said it is atypical for sitting lawmakers to support their colleagues’ opponents. “I understand she’s drawing a distinction between the money we raise for the general election as a caucus and these contributions, but I haven’t experienced this before,” Chasey said.
New Mexico – Santa Fe’s Transparency Regulations Withstand Final Appeal as U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Case
Santa Fe New Mexican – Staff and Associated Press | Published: 4/18/2022
The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the Rio Grande Foundation’s challenge of Santa Fe’s campaign disclosure requirements in a case stemming from a failed city ballot initiative in 2017 that would have imposed a tax on sugar-laden beverages. The decision upholds a U.S. District Court ruling in favor of the city, which now prohibits organizations that spend more than $500 on political campaigning from shielding details about financial contributions.
New York – Ethics, Transparency, Campaign Finance, and Voting in the New State Budget
Gotham Gazette – Ethan Geringer-Sameth | Published: 4/19/2022
A new state ethics commission is one of several measures related to government ethics and accountability, voting, and campaign finance reform included in the $220 billion state budget that New York lawmakers adopted. They include funding to launch the statewide public-matching campaign finance system previously crafted by lawmakers, and steps to make voting more accessible. But other long-sought measures, like restoring some of the comptroller’s contracting oversight, were left out, while questions remain about some of the details of the policies that were included.
New York – Ex-Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison
New York Post – Priscilla DeGregory | Published: 4/14/2022
Former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano was sentenced to 12 years in prison for accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from a restaurateur. His wife Linda, who was convicted of helping to cover up the corrupt arrangement, was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment. Edward Mangano was convicted of accepting bribes and kickbacks from Harendra Singh, including five paid vacations, an expensive watch, hardwood flooring for his home, a $3,600 vibrating chair, and a $100,000 per year no-show job for Linda Mangano.
Ohio – Dark Money Helped Ohio Utilities Subsidize Coal Plants, Delaying Action on Climate Change at Ratepayers’ Expense
Energy News Network – Kathiann Kowalski | Published: 4/18/2022
It has been three years since Ohio lawmakers first introduced the power plant bailout legislation that is now at the heart of the largest corruption case in state history. Since House Bill 6 passed, an FBI investigation has revealed a $60 million bribery scheme, leading to admissions by FirstEnergy, a utility company central to the scandal, and guilty pleas from three defendants in a federal criminal case. Beyond that, accountability has been slow to come, and HB 6, which also eviscerated the state’s clean energy standards, remains on the books. The scandal shows how utility, fossil fuel, and nuclear interests have framed Ohio energy policy, even when that policy conflicts with voter preferences on renewable energy.
Ohio – Federal Judges Will Pick Rejected Maps If Redistricting Leaders Don’t Act by May 28
Yahoo News – Jessie Balmert (Cincinnati Enquirer) | Published: 4/20/2022
Federal judges will pick state House and Senate maps rejected by the Ohio Supreme Court if the state’s leaders do not draw constitutional alternatives by May 28. If they do not pick an acceptable map, the federal judges will order an August 2 primary using maps approved by Republicans on the Ohio Redistricting Commission in February and later rejected by the state Supreme Court. The Redistricting Commission has yet to approve a map the Ohio Supreme Court says meets anti-gerrymandering requirements in the state constitution.
Ohio – FirstEnergy Ordered to Turn Over HB6-Related Documents to Customer Watchdog in Coming Weeks
MSN – Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 4/20/2022
FirstEnergy must turn over thousands of documents regarding the House Bill 6 scandal it provided to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) by May 22, months earlier than the company wanted, Public Utilities Commission of Ohio judges ruled. The FERC audit found FirstEnergy improperly accounted for part of the approximately $71 million used to lobby for the scandal-ridden energy bill and ordered it to draw up plans to issue customer refunds. The judges said FirstEnergy must also give the office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel a subset of documents relating to lobbying expenses, donations, and costs “that lacked proper supporting documentation.”
Pennsylvania – Judge Declares a Mistrial in Philadelphia Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson Trial
WHYY – Aaron Moselle | Published: 4/19/2022
A judge declared a mistrial after the jury remained deadlocked in the federal bribery trial of Philadelphia City Councilperson Kenyatta Johnson. The decision comes a day after the panel indicated it was having trouble reaching a unanimous verdict. The outcome followed more than three weeks of testimony that threatened to end Johnson’s political career and send him and three co-defendants to prison. The trial was the second involving a sitting member of council within the past year. Councilperson Bobby Henon was convicted of bribery and conspiracy alongside powerful labor leader John Dougherty.
Tennessee – Court Finds Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance Guilty of Contempt
Tennesse Lookout – Jamie Satterfield | Published: 4/19/2022
A judge deemed the Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance guilty of “willfully” violating a court order barring the collection of registration fees from nonpartisan PACs. Senior Judge Thomas Wright ruled the state agency defied his injunction issued in 2018 and upheld by the Tennessee Court of Appeals a year late against collecting fees under a law the judge and the appellate court concluded was unconstitutional. Wright ordering the registry to refund $64,000 in registration fees.
Tennessee – Ethics Reform Bill Passes Senate Despite Barrage of Complaints from Dark-Money Groups
MSN – Adam Friedman (Tennessean) | Published: 4/14/2022
Tennessee lawmakers are poised to pass an ethics and campaign finance reform bill, despite strong opposition from “dark-money” organizations. Nonprofit political spending organizations have decried the bill as government overreach because it will require them to disclose spending around an election. The legislation that passed the state Senate would require these groups to disclose any expenses over $5,000 in the 60 days leading up to an election when using candidate names and images.
Wisconsin – Wisconsin Supreme Court Chooses Maps Drawn by Republicans in New Redistricting Decision
Wisconsin Public Radio – Shawn Johnson | Published: 4/15/2022
The Wisconsin Supreme Court chose a legislative redistricting plan drawn by Republican state lawmakers, handing the GOP a major victory and giving the party’s candidates for the Legislature an even bigger advantage over the next decade. Swing Justice Brian Hagedorn joined the court’s conservatives to cast the deciding vote. Hagedorn wrote that given the directive from the U.S. Supreme Court, the state justices’ options for choosing a new map were limited.
April 21, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Maryland: “Baltimore County Council Chairman Violated Policy with Emails Linking to Campaign Contribution Page, Inspector General Says” by Alison Knezevich (Baltimore Sun) for Yahoo News Elections National: “Fearing a Trump Repeat, Jan. 6 Panel Considers Changes to Insurrection […]
Maryland: “Baltimore County Council Chairman Violated Policy with Emails Linking to Campaign Contribution Page, Inspector General Says” by Alison Knezevich (Baltimore Sun) for Yahoo News
National: “Fearing a Trump Repeat, Jan. 6 Panel Considers Changes to Insurrection Act” by Luke Broadwater (New York Times) for Yahoo News
National: “Agencies Announce Plans for More Equity in Federal Programs” by Michael Macagnone (Roll Call) for MSN
National: “Capitol Police’s New Vetting Practices Raise ‘First Amendment Concerns,’ Whistleblowers’ Lawyer Says” by Betsy Woodruff Swan and Daniel Lippman (Politico) for Yahoo News
California: “City of Industry’s Confidentiality Could Sink Criminal Case Against Its Former City Manager, Experts Say” by Jason Henry (Pasadena Star News) for San Gabriel Valley News
Hawaii: “Documents Show US Rep. Kai Kahele Has a Special Deal with Hawaiian Airlines” by Nick Grube for Honolulu Civil Beat
Michigan: “Michigan State Senator Hits Back at GOP Colleague Accusing Her of ‘Grooming’ Kids” by Christopher Wilson for Yahoo News
Pennsylvania: “Judge Declares a Mistrial in Philadelphia Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson Trial” by Aaron Moselle for WHYY
Wisconsin: “Wisconsin Supreme Court Chooses Maps Drawn by Republicans in New Redistricting Decision” by Shawn Johnson for Wisconsin Public Radio
April 20, 2022 •
Campaign Finance New Mexico: “Santa Fe’s Transparency Regulations Withstand Final Appeal as U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Case” by Staff and Associated Press for Santa Fe New Mexican Tennessee: “Court Finds Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance Guilty of Contempt” […]
New Mexico: “Santa Fe’s Transparency Regulations Withstand Final Appeal as U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Case” by Staff and Associated Press for Santa Fe New Mexican
Tennessee: “Court Finds Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance Guilty of Contempt” by Jamie Satterfield for Tennessee Lookout
National: “Lee Worked Hard to Overturn Election, Keep Trump in Power, Texts Show” by Mariana Alfaro (Washington Post) for MSN
Georgia: “Legal Effort to Remove Greene from Ga. Ballot Can Proceed, Judge Rules” by Eugene Scott (Washington Post) for MSN
Illinois: “Former Oakbrook Terrace Mayor Anthony Ragucci Charged in Red Light Camera Bribery Scheme” by Todd Feurer for WBBM
New Jersey: “Many NJ Lawmakers Make Money from Local Government Contracts. Experts Say Disclosure Is Key” by Katie Sobko for Bergen Record
New York: “Ethics, Transparency, Campaign Finance, and Voting in the New State Budget” by Ethan Geringer-Sameth for Gotham Gazette
Canada: “Lobbying Loophole Leaves B.C. Government Wide Open to Ethical Problems: Expert” by Bob Mackin for North Shore News
April 19, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “Campaign Finance Watchdog Cracks Down on Untraceable Super PAC Donations” by Zach Montellaro (Politico) for MSN Indiana: “Casino Executive Admits Funneling Cash to Indy GOP, Pleads Guilty to Tax Fraud” by Tony Cook (Indianapolis Star) for MSN […]
National: “Campaign Finance Watchdog Cracks Down on Untraceable Super PAC Donations” by Zach Montellaro (Politico) for MSN
Indiana: “Casino Executive Admits Funneling Cash to Indy GOP, Pleads Guilty to Tax Fraud” by Tony Cook (Indianapolis Star) for MSN
Ohio: “Dark Money Helped Ohio Utilities Subsidize Coal Plants, Delaying Action on Climate Change at Ratepayers’ Expense” by Kathiann Kowalski for Energy News Network
Tennessee: “Ethics Reform Bill Passes Senate Despite Barrage of Complaints from Dark-Money Groups” by Adam Friedman (Tennessean) for MSN
Iowa: “Iowa Supreme Court Rules Democrat Abby Finkenauer Can Be on Senate Primary Ballot” by Felicia Sonmez and David Weigel (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Censorship Battles’ New Frontier: Your public library” by Annie Gowan (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “These Lawyers and Firms Are Still Working with Russian Banks, Even Amid the War” by Hailey Fuchs (Politico) for MSN
Arizona: “Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey Signs Bill Prohibiting Public Spending on Union Activities” by Janie Valentine for Ballotpedia News
April 18, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Colorado: “Colorado Legislature Passes Bill Limiting Campaign Contributions to School Board Candidates” by Carina Julig for Aurora Sentinel Georgia: “Judge Denies Abrams Bid to Seek Unlimited Contributions” by Kate Brumback (Associated Press) for Yahoo News Elections National: “RNC […]
Colorado: “Colorado Legislature Passes Bill Limiting Campaign Contributions to School Board Candidates” by Carina Julig for Aurora Sentinel
Georgia: “Judge Denies Abrams Bid to Seek Unlimited Contributions” by Kate Brumback (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
National: “RNC Votes to Withdraw from Presidential Debates Commission” by Amy Wang (Washington Post) for MSN
Maryland: “Baltimore Prosecutor Marilyn Mosby’s Annual Ethics Disclosure Lists No Donations to Her Legal Defense Fund” by Alex Mann (Baltimore Sun) for MSN
Nebraska: “GOP State Senator, Seven Other Women Say Charles Herbster Groped Them; He Denies Allegations” by Aaron Sandeford for Nebraska Examiner
New York: “Ex-Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison” by Priscilla DeGregory for New York Post
Maryland: “A Growing Trend: More Black women among Annapolis lobbying corps” by Elizabeth Shwe for Maryland Matters
New Jersey: “One of N.J.’s Oldest Political Traditions Was Canceled Again This Year. Will the ‘Chamber Train’ Come Back?” by Susan Livio and Kelly Heyboer (NJ Advance Media) for MSN
April 15, 2022 •
National/Federal Before Giving Billions to Jared Kushner, Saudi Investment Fund Had Big Doubts Yahoo News – David Kirkpatrick and Kate Kelly (New York Times) | Published: 4/10/2022 Six months after leaving the White House, Jared Kushner secured a $2 billion investment […]
Before Giving Billions to Jared Kushner, Saudi Investment Fund Had Big Doubts
Yahoo News – David Kirkpatrick and Kate Kelly (New York Times) | Published: 4/10/2022
Six months after leaving the White House, Jared Kushner secured a $2 billion investment from a fund led by the Saudi crown prince, a close ally during the Trump administration, despite objections from the fund’s advisers about the merits of the deal. But the full board of the Public Investment Fund overruled the panel. Ethics experts say such a deal creates the appearance of potential payback for Kushner’s actions in the White House, or of a bid for future favor if Trump seeks and wins another presidential term in 2024.
Campaign Finance Watchdog Issues Massive Fine for Foreign National’s Trump Super PAC Donation
MSN – Zach Montellaro and Myah Ward (Politico) | Published: 4/8/2022
The FEC issued the third-largest fine in its history for companies of a Canadian billionaire for contributions to a super PAC supporting then-President Trump after the agency found “reason to believe” the donations violated a federal law on foreign nationals contributing to American political committees or campaigns. Companies controlled by Barry Zekelman agreed to pay $975,000 to close an investigation by the FEC into $1.75 million worth of donations made to America First Action, the pro-Trump super PAC, throughout 2018.
Crypto Industry Helps Write, and Pass, Its Own Agenda in State Capitols
Seattle Times – Eric Lipton and David Yaffee-Bellany (New York Times) | Published: 4/10/2022
Across the nation, cryptocurrency executives and lobbyists are helping to draft bills to benefit the fast-growing industry, then pushing lawmakers to adopt these made-to-order laws before moving rapidly to profit from the legislative victories. The effort is part of an emerging national strategy by the industry, in the absence of comprehensive federal regulatory demands, to work state by state to engineer a more friendly legal system. Lobbyists are aiming to clear the way for the continued explosive growth of cryptocurrency companies, which are trying to revolutionize banking, e-commerce, and even art and music.
DNC Sets Off Free-for-All to Remake Presidential Calendar
Yahoo News – Elena Schneider (Politico) | Published: 4/13/2022
The Democratic National Committee is officially reopening its presidential nominating process, upending the current calendar led by Iowa and New Hampshire and requiring them and any other interested states to apply for early-state status in 2024. The influential perch guarantees candidates, attention, and money flow into those states during national campaigns, and gives voters there an outsize say in picking presidents.
DOJ Plans to Investigate Boxes of Records Taken to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago
MSN – Matt Zapotosky and Jacqueline Alemany (Washington Post) | Published: 4/7/2022
The Justice Department has begun taking steps to investigate former President Trump’s removal of presidential records to Mar-a-Lago, some of which were labeled “top secret.” Sources said the probe remained in the very early stages. The department is facing increasing political pressure to disclose its plans in the case. House Oversight Committee Chairperson Carolyn Maloney has accused the Justice Department of obstructing her committee’s investigation into the 15 boxes of records Trump took to his estate in Palm Beach.
In Conference Call Before Riot, a Plea to ‘Descend on the Capitol’
Yahoo News – Alan Feuer (New York Times) | Published: 4/12/2022
One week before an angry mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, a communications expert named Jason Sullivan, a onetime aide to Roger Stone, joined a conference call with a group of then-President Trump’s supporters and made an urgent plea. After assuring his listeners the 2020 election had been stolen, Sullivan told them they had to go to Washington on January 6, 2021, the day that Congress was to meet to finalize the electoral count, and “descend on the Capitol.” The recording of the call emerged as the Justice Department has expanded its criminal probe of the attack.
Inside ‘the Next Big Political Frontier’ of State Supreme Court Races
Yahoo News – Grace Panetta (Business Insider) | Published: 4/9/2022
The 2022 midterm elections have the fewest competitive congressional races in recent memory, thanks in part to both parties drawing themselves safer districts to lock in their majorities in the redistricting cycle. But races to elect state Supreme Court judges, which will play a critical role in drawing political maps and shaping the balance of power, are political battlefields. The conservative supermajority on the U.S. Supreme Court has prompted progressive litigators to bring more consequential and politically contentious cases to state courts.
Jan. 6 Panel Has Evidence for Criminal Referral of Trump, but Splits on Sending
Yahoo News – Michael Schmidt and Luke Broadwater (New York Times) | Published: 4/10/2022
The leaders of the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack have grown divided over whether to make a criminal referral to the Justice Department of former President Trump, even though they have concluded they have enough evidence to do so, people involved in the discussions said. The debate centers on whether making a referral – a largely symbolic act – would backfire by politically tainting the department’s expanding investigation into the January 6 assault and what led up to it.
Nonprofit Pledges $80 Million for Local Election Administration
MSN – Amy Gardner (Washington Post) | Published: 4/12/2022
The founder of a nonprofit that has become a target of Republican ire for funneling hundreds of millions of dollars to election administrators in 2020 announced her organization will spearhead a similar new effort starting this year. Tiana Epps-Johnson, who leads the Center for Tech and Civic Life, said the new U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence would send $80 million in the next five years to election departments across the country in need of basic funding for equipment replacement and other resources.
Partisan ‘Doom Loop’? The Answer Is More Parties, This Group Says
MSN – Jim Saska (Roll Call) | Published: 4/8/2022
A new advocacy group, Fix Our House, argues the only way to break America out of its political “doom loop where voters in each party see each other as enemies” is to change the way elections work – specifically, elections to the U.S. House. It believes proportional representation is the key to ending gerrymandering, breaking up congressional deadlock, and reducing partisan divisions. The group argues the nation is being driven to political extremes by an electoral system that might have worked before cable news, social media, super PACs, and modern campaigning but now rewards those who promise to burn it all down.
Records of Foreign Gifts Given to Trump and Pence in 2020 Are Missing, State Department Says
MSN – Alia Shoaib (Business Insider) | Published: 4/9/2022
The Trump administration did not provide information about gifts from foreign governments in 2020 received by former President Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence, and other White House officials, the State Department said. As a result, the department said it could not compile a complete and accurate accounting of gifts received by Trump, his family, and other officials during his final year in office.
From the States and Municipalities
Alabama – Selma Is Tired of Being Just a Symbol – They Want Change
MSN – Emmanuel Fenton (Washington Post) | Published: 4/11/2022
On March 7, 1965, more than 500 demonstrators marched in Selma, Alabama, to protest policies designed to keep Black people from voting. When they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge, they were met by state troopers who attacked them with bully clubs. Selma has become an annual stopover for politicians looking to bolster their civil rights bona fides. To mark the anniversary of what became known as Bloody Sunday, the city hosts the Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee. But aside from the infusion of tourist dollars and fleeting national media attention, Selma feels like a city left behind, with little to show for its vaulted place in America’s civil rights history.
Alaska – Lawsuit Challenges Alaska Campaign Disclosure Rules
Alaska Public Media – Becky Bohrer (Associated Press) | Published: 4/7/2022
Political donors sued over campaign finance rules enacted under a 2020 voter initiative in Alaska, arguing the disclosure rules are burdensome and could lead to reprisals against them and their business interests in a climate of “cancel culture.” Provisions of the measure calling for open primaries and ranked choice voting in general elections were challenged previously in state courts and upheld.
California – BART May Need to Void $40-Million Contract After Potential Conflict of Interest Found, Inspector General Says
Yahoo News – Alex Wigglesworth (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 4/9/2022
The Bay Area Rapid Transit agency may be required to void a $40-million construction management contract after an investigation revealed a potential conflict-of-interest between a manager who played a role in making and administering the contract and the firm to which it was awarded. Inspector General Harriet Richardson said she began the investigation after receiving evidence the manager used to work for the construction management firm, and the manager’s spouse and sibling still worked for the firm.
California – Corruption Probe Ends in Ex-San Mateo County Community College District Chancellor’s Arrest
MSN – Jason Green (Bay Area News Group) | Published: 4/12/2022
An investigation into allegations of corruption against leaders of the San Mateo County Community College District came to a head with the arrest of a former chancellor on 21 felony counts including tax fraud and theft of public funds. Prosecutors allege Ronald Galatolo, with the help of former Vice Chancellor of Facilities Jose Nunez, directed construction projects to be awarded to companies from whom he had received and continued to receive gifts, including concert tickets and international travel, and with whom he shared financial interests.
California – S.F.’s Environmental Official Resigns Over Alleged $25,000 Donation
San Francisco Examiner – Adam Shanks and Jessica Wolfrom | Published: 4/7/2022
San Francisco’s top environmental official abruptly resigned amid scrutiny about her alleged solicitation of a donation from Recology for her department. Department of the Environment Director Debbie Raphael’s resignation came two days after a news story revealed the gift. It was reported Raphael solicited a $25,000 donation from Recology at the same time the waste management company was inking a city contract to haul trash to its Solano County landfill in 2015.
Florida – Florida Legislators Give DeSantis Their Power to Draw House Map
MSN – Colby Itkowitz and Lori Rozsa (Washington Post) | Published: 4/11/2022
The Republican-held Florida Legislature will not redraw its congressional map, yielding its redistricting role to Gov. Ron DeSantis to draft a version he will sign. The decision is the latest turn in an unprecedented fissure between the governor and the Legislature. The move followed DeSantis’s call for a special session to draw the House map.
Georgia – Judge Questions Abrams Suit Seeking Unlimited Contributions
Yahoo News – Jeff Amy (Associated Press) | Published: 4/11/2022
A federal judge expressed skepticism that he can give Stacey Abrams the immediate right to begin raising and spending unlimited campaign contributions under Georgia law. U.S. District Court Judge Mark Cohen told a lawyer for Abrams’ gubernatorial campaign she was asking him to rewrite state law to allow Abrams’ One Georgia committee to start taking money before the May 24 primary.
Georgia – With Biden’s Voting Rights Push Stalled, Georgia Activists Regroup
MSN – Matthew Brown (Washington Post) | Published: 4/11/2022
For months, Georgia voting rights advocates and faith leaders warned a new state law would drastically suppress minority turnout and pleaded with Congress to enshrine protections. But with no signs of progress in President Biden’s push for voting rights bills, those groups are now confronting a new challenge: how to turn out voters despite the restrictions passed by state Republicans in the wake of Biden’s upset win there.
Illinois – Emails Show Valencia Promoted Smart City Development While Her Lobbyist Husband Profited from It
WCIA – Mark Maxwell | Published: 4/7/2022
Over the course of several years, official and personal correspondence shows Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia spent a significant portion of her time in office paving the way for projects that directly benefited her husband, Reyahd Kazmi, who is a registered lobbyist. Kazmi omitted key information from ethics forms and funneled payments between various entities in a manner that hid much of that information from public scrutiny. In one case, Valencia at times used text messages and personal and government email accounts to discuss investment strategies for a development project that involved Kazmi’s clients.
Illinois – Session Recap: Lawmakers pass limits on campaign contributions in judicial races
Capitol News Illinois – Peter Hancock | Published: 4/12/2022
This year’s races for seats on the Illinois Supreme Court, as well as other judicial contests, could come under a new set of campaign finance rules aimed at limiting how much money candidates could raise from so-called dark money sources and from individual donors. The bill still needs approval from Gov. JB Pritzker. It would take effect immediately, meaning it would be in effect for the 2022 election cycle, upon his signature. The bill also makes a change to self-funded campaigns, limiting how much any individual, other than candidates and their immediate family members, may give to a judicial campaign.
Indiana – ‘I Plead Guilty’: Former Indiana GOP Sen. Brent Waltz admits role in straw donor scheme
Yahoo News – Tony Cook (Indianapolis Star) | Published: 4/11/2022
Former Indiana Sen. Brent Waltz admitted in federal court he participated in a scheme to funnel $40,500 in illegal donations to his failed campaign for Congress in 2015. Under an agreement with prosecutors, Waltz pleaded guilty to making and receiving conduit contributions and making false statements to the FBI. The plea agreement comes just one week before Waltz and John Keeler, another former lawmaker turned casino executive, were scheduled to go to trial. Prosecutors say the illegal campaign contributions were fueled with cash from one of Indiana’s largest casino operators, Centaur Gaming.
Maryland – Maryland Appeals Court Upholds State’s Legislative Redistricting Map
MSN – Ovetta Wiggins (Washington Post) | Published: 4/13/2022
Maryland’s highest court upheld the legislative redistricting map approved by the General Assembly in March, rejecting arguments made by Republicans that the map was unfair and gerrymandered. The decision from the Court of Appeals ends a legal challenge that upended the state election calendar and settles uncertainty over when voters will make selections for local, state, and congressional races.
Maryland – Prince George’s School Board Ethics Panel to Resign En Masse
MSN – Nicole Asbury (Washington Post) | Published: 4/13/2022
All members of the Prince George’s County Board of Education’s ethics panel resigned, almost a year after producing reports critical of some board members and causing mass dissension in the county. The panel’s chairperson, Gregory Morton Sr., wrote the en masse resignation was because members faced an “unanticipated, disruptive impact” to their personal and professional lives through the course of their term. The ethics panel authored error-riddled reports that targeted a more liberal majority of the board’s elected members, including accusations of steering contracts, doing political favors, and engaging in a quid pro quo with a labor union.
Michigan – Jury Acquits Two in Michigan Governor Kidnap Plot; Deadlocks on Two Others
MSN – Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 4/8/2022
A jury acquitted two men of conspiring to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and deadlocked on the counts against two others, apparently agreeing to some degree with defense claims that FBI agents entrapped the men in a violent plot shortly before the 2020 election. The trial was closely watched as a test of the federal government’s ramped-up efforts to combat domestic terrorism, and the verdict is a partial defeat for the Justice Department. The men’s arrest raised alarms about the possibility of politically motivated violence as the nation was increasingly divided over the presidential race.
Michigan – Legislation Aims to Prohibit Fundraising Loophole Used by Gov. Whitmer
MLive.com – Samuel Robinson | Published: 4/13/2022
A bill that would set legal definitions for what is considered an active recall effort in Michigan was debated before the House Ethics and Elections Committee. House Bill 5910 would require a recall candidate to form a committee within 10 days after becoming a candidate. The account would not need to be established until the recall committee receives a contribution or makes an expenditure. The legislation, which has bipartisan support, comes in response to a fundraising loophole used last year by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Minnesota – Elephants in the Room? Bill Language Would Ban Private Clubs for Lawmakers, Lobbyists Proposed by GOP Campaign Committee
MinnPost – Peter Callaghan | Published: 4/7/2022
A Minnesota bill would close the door to an exclusive political club that never actually opened. One sentence in the omnibus bill, Senate File 975, would ban contributions to any club set up by a political committee of a candidate or a political caucus of the Legislature that provides access to lawmakers. State law prohibits contributions to lawmakers during legislative sessions. But a mysterious request made to the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board suggested a loophole around that ban: charging membership dues to a club that provides access to Capitol decision-makers.
Mississippi – Ethics Complaint Filed After Reporter Barred from House GOP Caucus Meeting
Mississippi Today – Adam Ganucheau | Published: 4/13/2022
The Mississippi Center for Justice filed a formal ethics complaint on behalf of reporter Nick Judin, who was barred entry from a House Republican Caucus meeting in March. Major pieces of legislation authored or supported by Republican leaders, including House Speaker Philip Gunn, are often discussed and debated inside the backroom meetings. Many observers question whether the caucus meetings violate the state’s Open Meetings Act because the caucus consists of well more than half of the entire House body. The caucus meetings had never been challenged before the Ethics Commission or state courts.
New Jersey – With Revelation of Racist Recordings, Prosecutors Face Scrutiny Over Their Handling of Investigation
MSN – Riley Yates and S.P. Sullivan (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 4/7/2022
At the height of racial justice protests over the murder of George Floyd, Union County prosecutors seized control of Clark Township’s police department, citing “credible allegations of misconduct” by its leadership, and vowing to restore public trust. But in announcing the takeover in July 2020, neither county prosecutors nor the New Jersey attorney general’s office said what they were investigating. Now, criminal justice experts and community advocates are asking why. The question follows revelations that Clark’s mayor, police chief, and an internal affairs sergeant were secretly recorded using racial slurs. The township paid a whistleblower and his attorney $400,000 in a settlement to conceal the allegations.
New York – Buffalo Officers Can Return to Duty After Pushing 75-Year-Old Protester
MSN – Julian Mark (Washington Post) | Published: 4/11/2022
In June 2020, two Buffalo police officers pushed a 75-year-old human rights demonstrator, causing him to fall backward, hit his head on the sidewalk, and lie motionless while bleeding from his head. Graphic video of the incident circulated widely, and the two officers were suspended from the department. Now, Robert McCabe and Aaron Torgalski will be allowed to start working again, after an arbitrator concluded the two used “absolutely legitimate” force and did not violate department policies.
New York – Emails Reveal How Major Hochul Campaign Donors Seek Sway
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 4/10/2022
In response to a Freedom of Information Law request, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office provided the Albany Times Union with 161 pages of emails that offer a glimpse of how affluent campaign donors try to leverage that status to land high-level government access. A significant portion of Hochul’s campaign fundraising was facilitated through top lobbying firms, which held fundraisers that were exclusive to their clients. According to the donors’ accounts in the emails, Hochul did not discourage discussion of state business at these events and directed donors to connect with her campaign staff, which subsequently connected them to top state officials.
New York – New State Budget Includes New Ethics Commission
WBFO – Karen DeWitt | Published: 4/11/2022
The new state budget replaces New York’s troubled ethics commission with a new entity aimed at lowering the number of scandals in state government. But critics say the measure does not go far enough and could replicate some of the same problems the current commission created. The Joint Commission on Public Ethics JCOPE) will end in the new budget and be replaced with a new commission on ethics and lobbying in government. JCOPE was dominated by appointees from the governor’s office and had complicated voting rules.
New York – New York Lt. Gov. Benjamin Resigns After Indictment in Campaign Finance Scheme
Albany Times Union – Joshua Solomon and Chris Bragg | Published: 4/12/2022
New York Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin resigned after being charged with corruption offenses in an alleged scheme to trade state grants for campaign contributions. The charges stem from Benjamin’s time as a state senator and his unsuccessful run for New York City comptroller. He was seeking donations and public matching funds and enlisted the help of a developer to raise money and disguise its source. In exchange, prosecutors say Benjamin used his authority to try to steer $50,000 to a charitable group the developer controlled. Prosecutors allege Benjamin took steps to cover up his scheme when he was under consideration for lieutenant governor.
North Carolina – Mark Meadows Removed from N.C. Voter Rolls Amid Fraud Investigation
MSN – Amy Wang (Washington Post) | Published: 4/12/2022
Mark Meadows, President Trump’s White House chief of staff, has been removed from the voter rolls in North Carolina as the state investigates allegations that he committed voter fraud in the 2020 election. Meadows helped promote Trump’s baseless claims that widespread voter fraud delivered the presidency to Joe Biden. But the rhetoric about potential voter fraud have clashed with reports in recent weeks that Meadows registered to vote in 2020 using the address of a North Carolina mobile home he never stayed in.
Pennsylvania – Draft Bills and Late-Night Emails Reveal Cozy Ties Between Pa. State Lawmaker, Casino Lobbyists
PennLive.com – Angela Couloumbis (Spotlight PA) | Published: 4/11/2202
A bill introduced by state Sen. Tommy Tomlinson would ban thousands of unregulated gaming machines that have popped up in gas stations, convenience stores, bars, social clubs, and other establishments across Pennsylvania. The legislation was ghostwritten by the gaming industry. At the senator’s request, lobbyists and lawyers for Pennsylvania’s top-earning casino had drafted the bill, and the final text matched that version almost word-for-word. Emails between Tomlinson’s office and Parx Casino’s lobbyists offer a glimpse of the reach that lobbyists enjoy in the Legislature.
South Carolina – SC Developers Give Over the Legal Limit to Horry Candidates Through LLCs. Here’s How
The State – J. Dale Shumaker | Published: 4/13/2022
Developers have made contributions to Horry County Council candidates well over Soth Carolina’s $1,000-per-candidate-per-election-cycle limit. Some of those developers have given to the same candidates multiple times through limited liability companies, using a part of the state ethics law that allows businesses to donate to campaigns as individuals. Ethics experts said that while the practice of donating the maximum-allowed amount multiple times using separate companies is legal and common, it is an “unfortunate” pattern in South Carolina.
South Dakota – South Dakota House Votes to Impeach Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, 36-31
Yahoo News – Joe Sneve (Sioux Falls Argus Leader) | Published: 4/12/2022
The South Dakota House impeached state Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg over his conduct related to a 2020 automobile crash that killed a pedestrian. The vote defies a recommendation by a special investigative committee of lawmakers, who deemed Ravnsborg’s actions did not amount to impeachable offenses and triggers a trial in the Senate that will decide whether he will be forced out of office.
Tennessee – House Speaker Backs Ethics Bill to Bring Expenses ‘From the Dark into the Light’
Tennessee Lookout – Sam Stockard | Published: 4/13/2022
Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton extolled disclosure requirements in an ethics reform bill and questioned the motives of groups opposed to the legislation, mainly 501(c)4 organizations that can shower “dark money” on campaigns in the final two months of an election. Sexton made a rare appearance in the Local Government Committee where he defended a bill that would require tax-exempt groups that spend money to influence elections to report aggregate expenditures of $5,000 within 60 days of a campaign, among other provisions.
Virginia – Youngkin Vetoes Bipartisan Bills While Stoking Political Rancor
MSN – Laura Vozzella and Gregory Schneider (Washington Post) | Published: 4/12/2022
Virginia Gov. Genn Youngkin vetoed 25 bills that had bipartisan support in the General Assembly, throwing sharp elbows particularly at lawmakers who represent blue areas of Northern Virginia. He vetoed nine of the 10 bills sponsored by Sen. Adam Ebbin while signing identical House bills in six of those cases. Typically, a governor signs both versions, allowing both sponsors bragging rights for getting a bill passed into law. The vetoes were widely seen as payback for Senate Democrats’ refusal to confirm a handful of Youngkin appointments.
Wisconsin – Elections Commission Fines Election Denier $2,400 for Frivolous Voter Fraud Allegations
Madison.com – Mitchell Schmidt (Wisconsin State Journal) | Published: 4/7/2022
The Wisconsin Elections Commission fined an election denier who was previously convicted of making fraudulent claims to investors more than $2,400 for filing frivolous complaints of alleged voter fraud. Peter Bernegger, who was convicted in federal court in 2009 for making fraudulent claims to investors in his business, filed multiple claims of voter fraud with the commission earlier this year. He also presented his claims before the Assembly elections committee in February. State election officials later debunked many of what they described as “unverified, fantastical claims” of widespread election fraud, including several made by Bernegger.
Wyoming – Targeted: Lawmakers in the political crosshairs of Wyo Gun Owners
WyoFile – Mike Koshmrl | Published: 4/12/2022
Hundreds of text and phone messages, some threatening violence, were sent to state Sen. Larry Hicks over his bill on gun rights. The deluge was orchestrated by a group that has pushed controversial gun bills at the Legislature. The group, Wyoming Gun Owners, drew outrage from top lawmakers for its campaign tactics and were investigated by the state attorney general for failing to disclose its donors. A federal judge ruled the election law Wyoming Gun Owners was accused of breaking was itself unconstitutional.
April 14, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Georgia: “Judge Questions Abrams Suit Seeking Unlimited Contributions” by Jeff Amy (Associated Press) for Yahoo News Illinois: “Session Recap: Lawmakers pass limits on campaign contributions in judicial races” by Peter Hancock for Capitol News Illinois South Carolina: “SC […]
Georgia: “Judge Questions Abrams Suit Seeking Unlimited Contributions” by Jeff Amy (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
Illinois: “Session Recap: Lawmakers pass limits on campaign contributions in judicial races” by Peter Hancock for Capitol News Illinois
South Carolina: “SC Developers Give Over the Legal Limit to Horry Candidates Through LLCs. Here’s How” by J. Dale Shumaker for The State
Tennessee: “House Speaker Backs Ethics Bill to Bring Expenses ‘From the Dark into the Light’” by Sam Stockard for Tennessee Lookout
North Carolina: “Mark Meadows Removed from N.C. Voter Rolls Amid Fraud Investigation” by Amy Wang (Washington Post) for MSN
Alabama: “Selma Is Tired of Being Just a Symbol – They Want Change” by Emmanuel Fenton (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “Corruption Probe Ends in Ex-San Mateo County Community College District Chancellor’s Arrest” by Jason Green (Bay Area News Group) for MSN
New York: “Buffalo Officers Can Return to Duty After Pushing 75-Year-Old Protester” by Julian Mark (Washington Post) for MSN
Virginia: “Youngkin Vetoes Bipartisan Bills While Stoking Political Rancor” by Laura Vozzella and Gregory Schneider (Washington Post) for MSN
April 13, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Indiana: “‘I Plead Guilty’: Former Indiana GOP Sen. Brent Waltz admits role in straw donor scheme” by Tony Cook (Indianapolis Star) for Yahoo News New York: “New York Lt. Gov. Benjamin Arrested in Campaign Finance Scheme” by Joshua […]
Indiana: “‘I Plead Guilty’: Former Indiana GOP Sen. Brent Waltz admits role in straw donor scheme” by Tony Cook (Indianapolis Star) for Yahoo News
New York: “New York Lt. Gov. Benjamin Arrested in Campaign Finance Scheme” by Joshua Solomon and Chris Bragg for Albany Times Union
National: “Inside ‘the Next Big Political Frontier’ of State Supreme Court Races” by Grace Panetta (Business Insider) for Yahoo News
National: “Before Giving Billions to Jared Kushner, Saudi Investment Fund Had Big Doubts” by David Kirkpatrick and Kate Kelly (New York Times) for Yahoo News
National: “Records of Foreign Gifts Given to Trump and Pence in 2020 Are Missing, State Department Says” by Alia Shoaib (Business Insider) for MSN
South Dakota: “South Dakota House Votes to Impeach Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, 36-31” by Joe Sneve (Sioux Falls Argus Leader) for Yahoo News
Wyoming: “Targeted: Lawmakers in the political crosshairs of Wyo Gun Owners” by Mike Koshmrl for WyoFile
Florida: “Florida Legislators Give DeSantis Their Power to Draw House Map” by Colby Itkowitz and Lori Rozsa (Washington Post) for MSN
State and Federal Communications, Inc. provides research and consulting services for government relations professionals on lobbying laws, procurement lobbying laws, political contribution laws in the United States and Canada. Learn more by visiting stateandfed.com.