September 15, 2022 •
Elections National: “In Final Primaries, Heated GOP Fights in N.H. Include a Blow to McCarthy” by Colby Itkowitz and David Weigel (Washington Post) for MSN Colorado: “FBI Seizes Mike Lindell’s Phone in Probe of Colo. Voting Machine Breach” by Jon […]
National: “In Final Primaries, Heated GOP Fights in N.H. Include a Blow to McCarthy” by Colby Itkowitz and David Weigel (Washington Post) for MSN
Colorado: “FBI Seizes Mike Lindell’s Phone in Probe of Colo. Voting Machine Breach” by Jon Swaine and Emma Brown (Washington Post) for MSN
New York: “Rensselaer County’s Republican Elections Commissioner Arrested by FBI” by Brendan Lyons for Albany Times Union
National: “Stock Trades Reported by Nearly a Fifth of Congress Show Possible Conflicts” by Kate Kelley, Adam Playford, and Alicia Parlapiano (New York Times) for News Inside Era
National: “Durham Inquiry Appears to Wind Down as Grand Jury Expires” by Katie Benner (New York Times) for Yahoo News
California: “L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl’s Home Searched by Sheriff’s Investigators” by Alene Tchekmedyian (Los Angeles Times) for Yahoo News
Maryland: “Montgomery School Leaders Defend Contract Given to Board Member’s Spouse” by Nicole Asbury (Washington Post) for MSN
Ohio: “Ohio Supreme Court: ‘Targeted picketing’ ban unconstitutional” by Susan Tebben for Ohio Capital Journal
California: “FBI Corruption Probe Pushes Anaheim to Keep Emails Longer, Tighten Lobbyist Rules” by Hosam Elattar for Voice of OC
September 14, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Massachusetts: “State’s Public Campaign Financing Program Means Candidates Can Spend Big in November Election” by Chris Lisinski (State House News Service) for MassLive Wyoming: “Elections Official Files Complaint Against Conservative PAC” by Maggie Mullen for WyoFile Elections National: […]
Massachusetts: “State’s Public Campaign Financing Program Means Candidates Can Spend Big in November Election” by Chris Lisinski (State House News Service) for MassLive
Wyoming: “Elections Official Files Complaint Against Conservative PAC” by Maggie Mullen for WyoFile
National: “A Record Number of Black Candidates for Higher Offices Aim to Reshape U.S. Politics” by Tim Craig (Washington Post) for MSN
Georgia: “Georgia’s Biggest County Can’t Find a Top Elections Official” by Matthew Brown (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Justice Dept. Says It Would Accept Trump’s Candidate for Special Master” by Devlin Barrett and Perry Stein (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Justice Dept. Issues 40 Subpoenas in a Week, Expanding Jan. 6 Inquiry” by Adam Goldman, Glenn Thrush, Alan Feuer, and Maggie Haberman (New York Times) for Seattle Times
Arkansas: “Ethics Filing Against Flowers Frivolous, Senate Panel Says; Suspension Recommended for Clark” by Michael Wickline for Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Mississippi: “Former Gov. Phil Bryant Helped Brett Favre Secure Welfare Funding for USM Volleyball Stadium, Texts Reveal” by Anna Wolfe for Mississippi Today
Pennsylvania: “Gift Ban Does Not See House Vote, but Advocates Say ‘There’s Still Time’” by Marley Parish for Pennsylvania Capital-Star
September 13, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “FEC Unanimously Rejects Complaints About Zuckerberg’s 2020 Election Grants” by Isaac Stanley-Becker (Washington Post) for MSN Montana: “Super PAC Faces New Allegations in Montana” by Alex Sakariassen for Montana Free Press Ohio: “Ex-Ohio Governor Candidate Joe Blystone […]
National: “FEC Unanimously Rejects Complaints About Zuckerberg’s 2020 Election Grants” by Isaac Stanley-Becker (Washington Post) for MSN
Montana: “Super PAC Faces New Allegations in Montana” by Alex Sakariassen for Montana Free Press
Ohio: “Ex-Ohio Governor Candidate Joe Blystone Threatened with Prosecution Over Alleged Campaign-Finance Violations” by Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) for MSN
National: “Trump Backers Flood Election Offices with Requests as 2022 Vote Nears” by Amy Gardner and Patrick Marley (Washington Post) for MSN
Wyoming: “Some Wyoming Republicans Want to Limit the Secretary of State after Trump’s Pick Wins” by Bob Beck for Wyoming Public Radio
National: “Trump’s Lawyers Suggest Seized Documents May Not Be Classified” by Devlin Barrett and Perry Stein (Washington Post) for MSN
Illinois: “Board of Review’s Probe into Bribes for Tax Breaks Is Stymied by Employee’s ‘Inability to Recall Passcode’ to County-Issued Cellphone” by Mitch Dudek for Chicago Sun-Times
South Dakota: “Documents Show Gov. Kristi Noem Tried to Avoid Ethics Hearing, Seal Records” by Stephen Groves (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
Massachusetts: “SJC Considers Lobbying by Federal Felons, Like Former House Speaker Sal DiMasi” by Shelley Murphy (Boston Globe) for MSN
September 12, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “Prosecutors Seek Details from Trump’s PAC in Expanding Jan. 6 Probe” by Josh Dawsey and Isaac Arnsdorf (Washington Post) for MSN Massachusetts: “AG Maura Healey Ruling Derails Bid to Limit Super PAC Contributions in Massachusetts” by Matt […]
National: “Prosecutors Seek Details from Trump’s PAC in Expanding Jan. 6 Probe” by Josh Dawsey and Isaac Arnsdorf (Washington Post) for MSN
Massachusetts: “AG Maura Healey Ruling Derails Bid to Limit Super PAC Contributions in Massachusetts” by Matt Murphy (State House News Service) for MassLive
Michigan: “Michigan Supreme Court Puts Abortion on the November Ballot” by Alice Miranda Ollstein (Politico) for Yahoo News
National: “What Makes State Legislatures Uniquely Prone to Alleged Harassment” by Jennifer Gerson (The 19th) for MinnPost
National: “Justice Dept. Seeks to Regain Access to Classified Mar-a-Lago Documents” by Perry Stein and Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “Karen Bass Got a USC Degree for Free. It’s Now Pulling Her into a Federal Corruption Case” by Matthew Brown (Los Angeles Times) for MSN
Florida: “‘Make His Life a Living Hell.’ The FPL-financed plot to torpedo a Miami lawmaker” by Mary Ellen Klas and Nicholas Nehamas (Miami Herald) for MSN
Georgia: “Former Atlanta Official Gets 14 Years in Corruption Case” by Kate Brumback (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
September 9, 2022 •
National/Federal ‘Fat Leonard’ Goes on the Lam Weeks Before Sentencing in Navy Bribery Scandal Portland Press Herald – María Luisa Paúl (Washington Post) | Published: 9/6/2022 The Malaysian defense contractor who pleaded guilty to bribing Navy officials with sex parties, fancy […]
‘Fat Leonard’ Goes on the Lam Weeks Before Sentencing in Navy Bribery Scandal
Portland Press Herald – María Luisa Paúl (Washington Post) | Published: 9/6/2022
The Malaysian defense contractor who pleaded guilty to bribing Navy officials with sex parties, fancy dinners, and alcohol in a corruption scandal has escaped just weeks before his sentencing date. Leonard Francis, also known as “Fat Leonard,” fled while under house arrest in San Diego. A search by the San Diego Regional Fugitive Task Force and Naval Criminal Investigative Service is underway, officials said. “He cut off his GPS monitoring bracelet on Sunday morning,” the U.S. Marshals Service announced. “Task Force Officers went to his residence and upon arrival noticed the house was now vacant.”
FEC Approves Rule to Remove Candidate Loan Repayment Restrictions
OpenSecrets – Taylor Giorno | Published: 9/1/2022
The FEC approved an interim final rule that removes regulations that previously restricted the repayment of personal loans candidates made to their campaigns. In May, the Supreme Court ruled that existing candidate loan repayment restrictions were unconstitutional. Under the old rules, campaigns could raise money after election day to repay candidate loans up to $250,000 up to 20 days after the election.
From Border Town to ‘Border Town,’ Bused Migrants Seek New Lives in D.C. Area
MSN – Antonio Olivo (Washington Post) | Published: 9/7/2022
More than 230 buses carrying nearly 9,400 migrants, including young children, have arrived in the District of Columbia since Texas Gov. Greg Abbott began offering free passage to the city with Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey following suit. Buses from Texas have also started heading to New York and Chicago. The governors are using the busloads of migrants as a political statement about what they have called lax border policies. But for many of those who have accepted the rides, any political gamesmanship has been irrelevant. The buses have turned into a welcomed opportunity for migrants to get to their preferred destinations.
House Committee Reaches Deal to get Trump Financial Records
Yahoo News – Kevin Freking (Associated Press) | Published: 9/1/2022
A U.S. House committee seeking financial records from former President Trump reached an agreement that ends litigation on the matter and requires an accounting firm to turn over some of the material. The case began in April 2019, when the House Committee on Oversight and Reform first subpoenaed records from Trump’s then-accounting firm, Mazars USA. The committee cited testimony from Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, that it said raised questions about the president’s representation of his financial affairs when it came to seeking loans and paying taxes.
In Voter Fraud, Penalties Often Depend on Who’s Voting
Yahoo News – Michael Wines (New York Times) | Published: 9/6/2022
A review by The New York Times of some 400 voting fraud charges filed nationwide since 2017 underscores what critics of fraud crackdowns have long said: actual prosecutions are rare events and often netted people who did not realize they were breaking the law. Punishment can be wildly inconsistent. Most violations draw wrist slaps, while a few high-profile prosecutions produce draconian sentences. Penalties often fall heaviest on those least able to mount a defense. Those who are poor and Black are more likely to be sent to jail.
In Washington, Agricultural Policymakers Circulate Among Farm Bureau, USDA and Industry
Investigate Midwest – Madison McVan | Published: 8/24/2022
Reporting and more than 100 pages of emails obtained by Investigate Midwest shed light on the movement of agriculture policy leaders between government, industry, and the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF). Terri Moore, vice president of communications for AFBF, said Dale Moore, executive vice president of the group, and Sam Kieffer, the organization’s top lobbyist, likely had communication with Joby Young during his time at as chief of staff for the secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Young took over as AFBF executive vice president following a stint at a consulting firm.
Jan. 6 Committee Asks Former Speaker Newt Gingrich to Sit for Interview
MSN – Jacqueline Alemany and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 9/1/2022
The House select committee investigating the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol issued a request to interview former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. The request cited evidence showing Gingrich was in communication with senior advisers to ex-President Trump, including Jared Kushner and Jason Miller, regarding television advertisements that amplified false claims about fraud in the 2020 election. The panel also said it obtained evidence suggesting Gingrich was involved in the fake elector plot designed to encourage Vice President Mike Pence and members of Congress to affect the outcome of the joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021.
Judge’s Special-Master Order a Test of Trump’s Post-White House Powers
MSN – Ann Marimow and Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 9/6/2022
Justice Department lawyers are weighing whether to challenge a federal judge’s uncommon order to appoint an independent reviewer, called a special master, to assess more than 11,000 documents seized by the FBI from Donald Trump’s Florida residence. At issue are untested legal questions about the extent to which assertions of executive privilege can be applied to a former president. Legal experts called U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon’s decision problematic because it upends the usual course of a criminal investigation and suggests there are different rules for a former president.
Material on Foreign Nation’s Nuclear Capabilities Seized at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago
MSN – Devlin Barrett and Carol Leonnig (Washington Post) | Published: 9/6/2022
A document describing a foreign government’s military defenses, including its nuclear capabilities, was found by FBI agents who searched former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and private club, according to people familiar with the matter, underscoring concerns among U.S. intelligence officials about classified material stashed at the Florida property. Some of the seized documents detail top-secret U.S. operations so closely guarded that many senior national security officials are kept in the dark about them.
Tory Peer Broke Lobbying Rules, Whitehall Watchdog Finds
The Guardian – Henry Dyer | Published: 9/6/2022
A Conservative hereditary peer breached lobbying rules in the United Kingdom by failing to register as a consultant lobbyist before contacting ministers on behalf of his client. The Office of the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists announced the outcome of its investigation into the Earl of Shrewsbury, whose full name is Charles Henry John Benedict Crofton Chetwynd Chetwind-Talbot, and his company Talbot Consulting. The earl remains under investigation by the House of Lords for allegedly misusing his parliamentary position to lobby for SpectrumX.
From the States and Municipalities
Arkansas – Ex-Deputy Chief of Staff for Hutchinson Asks to Rescind Registration as a Lobbyist
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette – Michael Wickline | Published: 9/7/2022
Bill Gossage, the former deputy chief of staff for external operations for Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, said he asked the secretary of state’s office to rescind his August registration as a registered lobbyist. Gossage is vice president of governmental affairs for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas. State law bars an individual employed in the office of the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer, auditor, or commissioner of state lands from being eligible to be registered as a lobbyist until one year after the expiration of the individual’s employment in that office.
Florida – Jury Finds Seminole GOP Chair Guilty in ‘Ghost’ Candidate Case
Yahoo News – Annie Martin (Orlando Sentinel) | Published: 9/1/2022
Seminole County Republican Party Chairperson Ben Paris was found guilty of a scheme to siphon votes from a Democrat in a Florida Senate race. Prosecutors say Jestine Iannotti ran as an independent candidate but did not campaign and had no previous political experience. Iannotti illegally accepted a $1,200 cash donation from political consultant James Foglesong. Iannoitti and Foglesong falsely used the names of others as contributors in campaign finance reports to skirt Florida laws on donations.
Georgia – Election Deniers Repeatedly Visited Ga. County Office at Center of Criminal Probe, Video Shows
Portland Press Herald – Emma Brown and Jon Swaine (Washington Post) | Published: 9/6/2022
Technology consultants who sought evidence that Donald Trump’s 2020 defeat was fraudulent made multiple visits to a county elections office in rural Georgia in the weeks after an alleged post-election breach of voting equipment that is the subject of a criminal investigation. Surveillance video shows the consultants, Doug Logan and Jeffrey Lenberg, made two visits in January 2021 to the elections office in Coffee County. Lenberg made an additional five visits on his own. The two men are under investigation for separate alleged breaches of voting machines in Michigan.
Georgia – Judge Again Rejects Graham Bid to Throw Out Subpoena in Atlanta-Area Trump Probe
MSN – Kyle Cheney (Politico) | Published: 9/1/2022
A federal judge for the second time rejected U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s effort to block a grand jury subpoena issued by the Atlanta-area district attorney investigating former President Trump and his allies’ effort to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia. District Court Judge Leigh Martin May ruled Graham’s claim to be immune from such questioning, thanks to the protections of the so-called speech or debate clause of the Constitution is not as sweeping as he claimed it to be. The ruling sends the matter back to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Illinois – Political Operative Tied to Ald. Daniel Solis Probe Pleads Guilty to Fraud
MSN – Jason Meisner (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 9/2/2022
Roberto Caldero, a political operative at the center of the investigation into former Ald. Daniel Solis, pleaded guilty to variety of fraud schemes, including an attempt to influence a massive Chicago Public Schools janitorial contact, and using the alderman’s clout to solicit campaign cash and get a park and street renamed for a donor’s relatives. There was new mention in the plea agreement of an elected official, identified only as Public Official A, whom Caldero enlisted to pressure then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel to support the awarding of the janitorial contract to a company Caldero represented.
Indiana – Contractor Avoids Prison, Ordered to Pay Sanitary District $104K
Yahoo News – Douglas Walker (Muncie Star Press) | Published: 9/6/2022
A contractor avoided a prison sentence after pleading guilty to a fraud-related count stemming from a federal investigation of corruption in Muncie city government. But Rodney Barber was ordered to pay $104,750 in restitution to the Muncie Sanitary District (MSD). He admitted paying Phil Nichols, a former Democratic Party chairperson, $5,500 in cash in exchange for winning a contract to do work for the district. Barber also acknowledged giving MSD official Tracy Barton $5,000 in cash to “illegally contribute” to then-Mayor Dennis Tyler’s re-election campaign.
Louisiana – New Orleans’ ‘Night Mayor’ Fails to Respond to State Ethics [Board] After Trying to Rule on Conflict
LocalToday – Ben Myers (New Orleans Times-Picayune) | Published: 9/6/2022
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell named Howlin’ Wolf nightclub owner Howard Kaplan as the first director of the city’s new Office of Nighttime Economy. When Cantrell was asked about potential ethical issues in hiring a nightclub owner to manage the city’s nighttime economy, she cited a pending opinion from the Louisiana Board of Ethics to argue “there is no conflict-of-interest here.” But an ethics board attorney, Mallory Guillot, now says Kaplan has not responded to “numerous” attempts to contact him with additional questions about his dual role as city official and business owner.
Massachusetts – Maura Healey to Face Trump-Backed Republican in Deep-Blue Massachusetts
MSN – Annie Linskey and David Weigel (Washington Post) | Published: 9/6/2022
Maura Healey, who made history as the country’s first openly gay state attorney general, will face former state legislator Geoff Diehl, who was endorsed by Donald Trump, in the Massachusetts governor’s race this November, a contest seen by analysts as one of the best chances for Democrats to flip control of a Republican-held seat. If she prevails in the fall, Healey would be the first woman elected governor of Massachusetts. Democratic primary voters in also picked a nominee for attorney general in a race that divided the two U.S. senators and other party leaders in the state.
Michigan – Michigan Sheriff Sought to Seize Multiple Voting Machines, Records Show
Reuters – Peter Eisler and Nathan Layne | Published: 8/30/2022
A sheriff in Barry County, Michigan, already under state investigation for alleged involvement in an illegal breach of a vote-counting machine, sought warrants in July to seize other machines to prove former President Trump’s claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election, documents showed. A member of the so-called constitutional sheriffs movement, which holds sheriffs have supreme law enforcement authority within their counties, exceeding that of state and federal agencies, Leaf has appeared at events around the country organized by proponents of Trump’s rigged election claims.
Nevada – Police Arrest County Official in Reporter’s Stabbing Death
Las Vegas Review-Journal – David Ferrara, Briana Erickson, and Glenn Puit | Published: 9/7/2022
A Las Vegas-area elected official was arrested as the suspect in the fatal stabbing of a veteran newspaper reporter who had written articles exposing complaints of wrongdoing at his office. Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles was taken into custody hours after investigators served a search warrant in the criminal probe of the killing of Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Jeff German. Soon after German’s investigation was published, Telles failed in his re-election bid, losing the Democratic primary in June.
New Mexico – New Mexico Bars Commissioner from Office for Insurrection
MSN – Morgan Lee (Associated Press) | Published: 9/6/2022
A New Mexico judge ordered convicted Capitol rioter Couy Griffin to be removed from his county commissioner seat, ruling the Cowboys for Trump founder’s involvement in the January 6, 2021, insurrection disqualified him from holding public office. Judge Francis Matthew formally labeled the Capitol attack as an insurrection and found Griffin’s involvement fell under the so-called Disqualification Clause of the 14th Amendment, which bars anyone from holding office if they took an oath to uphold the Constitution and then “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” or gave “aid or comfort” to insurrectionists.
New York – Former Trump Adviser Steve Bannon Charged with Defrauding Border Wall Donors
Yahoo News – Aaron Katersky (ABC News) | Published: 9/8/2022
Steve Bannon, a onetime political adviser to former President Trump, was charged by authorities in New York with defrauding donors to the We Build the Wall fundraising campaign for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The indictment charges Bannon and We Build the Wall itself with two counts of money laundering. There are additional felony counts of conspiracy and scheme to defraud. The state charges resemble federal charges for which Bannon received a pardon from Trump and allege Bannon and We Build the Wall defrauded 430 Manhattan-based donors out of $33,600.
New York – How a Hochul Donor Received $637M in State Payments
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 9/8/2022
Last December, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s administration received an offer to buy 26 million at-home coronavirus tests from a distributor that happened to be a major campaign donor to the governor. The price offered by Digital Gadgets founder Charlie Tebele was $13 per test, far steeper than what other companies were proposing for similar rapid antigen tests. Hochul’s administration had just approved a deal with another firm to buy 5 million tests for just five dollars each. Still, the Hochul administration quickly agreed to pay $338 million to Digital Gadgets at the higher per-test price.
New York – Panel Rejects 3 of the 10 Nominees to New York’s New Ethics Body
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 9/2/2022
A panel tasked with reviewing nominations to New York’s new ethics and lobbying oversight panel rejected three out of ten nominations, while confirming seven others. One of those rejected was Gary Lavine, an outspoken former commissioner on the state’s prior ethics body. the Joint Commission on Public Ethics. Lavine’s rejection appears the most likely to set up a legal battle over a key aspect of the new law that established the Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government.
Ohio – Akron Organizers Turn to the Ballot Box for Civilian Oversight of Police
Ohio Capital Journal – Nick Evans | Published: 9/7/2022
A proposed ballot measure in Akron establishing civilian oversight for the police department comes on the heels of the police killing of Jayland Walker, a Black man shot nearly 50 times by Akron officers after fleeing a traffic stop. The amendment to the city charter would establish a new citizen review board with oversight of the city’s existing police auditor. The proposal also expands the auditor’s office and directs city council to spell out in statute what information the auditor can demand from the department. Organizers have turned in 7,000 petition signatures. That is more than two and a half times what they need.to get it on the November ballot.
Ohio – Redistricting: One year later, Ohio a unique, flawed case
Ohio Capital Journal – Susan Tebben | Published: 9/2/2022
One year after the saga of redistricting began, Ohio is seen as a unique case study in the legal strategies and flaws that can emerge in the process. A series of meetings of the Ohio Redistricting Commission were held, where the elected officials who constituted the commission interpreted and re-interpreted a constitutional amendment more than 70 percent of voters had approved to reform the redistricting. One year, five legislative map proposals and two congressional redraws later, the state will hold a general election in November with maps that have been ruled unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court.
Oklahoma – Why Most Oklahoma State Legislative Races Are Uncontested
Oklahoma Watch – Keaton Ross | Published: 9/6/2022
Nearly 70 person of Oklahoma’s state legislative elections will be decided without a single vote cast in November. In 2018, nearly 75 percent of House and Senate races included candidates from at least two parties. Oklahoma now ranks among the nation’s least competitive states for legislative races. Without competitive local races, voters are more likely to become disengaged or feel alienated, studies have found. The same can happen to lawmakers who are not making their case to voters. A Georgetown University study found state legislators who run unopposed are less effective and engaged with constituents.
Oregon – Tina Kotek Wins Over Potential Rival with Embrace of Campaign Finance Changes
OPB – Dirk VanderHart | Published: 9/7/2022
Oregon gubernatorial candidate Tina Kotek removed one potential obstacle in the race. In private discussions, Kotek committed to using her position to advocate for some specific campaign finance regulations if elected governor. With that commitment, and a newly added policy platform on her website, a notable competitor for left-leaning votes has now stepped down. Nathalie Paravicini, running for governor under the banners of the Oregon Progressive Party and Pacific Green Party, filed a form withdrawing her candidacy. Oregon is one of a handful of states that place no limit on how much campaigns can raise and spend.
Tennessee – Registry of Election Finance to Audit Humble for Potential Illegal Coordination with PAC-Like Group
Tennessee Lookout – Sam Stockard | Published: 9/7/2022
The Tennessee Registry of Election Finance is set to audit former state Senate candidate Gary Humble to determine whether his campaign illegally coordinated with his nonprofit organization Tennessee Stands. Registry board member Tom Lawless raised questions about Tennessee Stands, which has a 501(c)(4) federal tax status, and whether it is operating as a PAC without registering with the state. Humble is executive director of the organization, which is intertwined with his political activity.
Texas – Appeals Court Sides with Texas Ethics Commission Over Lobbying Fine Against GOP Activist Michael Quinn Sullivan
MSN – Taylor Goldenstein (Houston Chronicle) | Published: 9/1/2022
An appeals court upheld a Texas Ethics Commission fine levied against conservative activist Michael Quinn Sullivan. He registered as a lobbyist from 2001 to 2009 but did not in 2010 and 2011. The court found Sullivan, acting on behalf of Empower Texans in 2010 and 2011, had lobbied state lawmakers. The judges dismissed Sullivan’s arguments that the commission was unconstitutionally exercising both legislative and executive branch powers. They reversed the trial court’s judgment on the amount of the fine – $10,000 – saying Sullivan is owed a jury trial on that question.
Washington – Data Shows How Well Seattle’s Democracy Voucher Program Is Working
Seattle Times – Gene Balk | Published: 9/2/2022
Seattle’s novel “democracy voucher” program for funding local elections is attracting attention. “… It could revolutionize local elections,” said Brian McCabe of Georgetown University, the co-author of a new study on the program. The study found the democracy voucher program does appear to be living up to its name by helping to democratize political giving in Seattle by diversifying the donor pool to better reflect the city’s population. It also found the rate of participation in the program rose most significantly among Black, Hispanic, and young voters, groups that have historically been underrepresented in the campaign finance system.
Washington – Washington State Judge Rules Facebook Violated Campaign Finance Rules
MSN – Naomi Nix (Washington Post) | Published: 9/2/2022
A judge ruled Facebook owner Meta repeatedly and intentionally violated Washington’s campaign finance law and must pay penalties. King County Superior Court Judge Douglass North said Facebook, which last year renamed itself Meta, repeatedly broke the state’s law requiring technology platforms make information about political ads available for public inspection in a “timely manner.” North also denied Meta’s attempt to invalidate the state’s decades-old law. The ruling arrives as Meta faces scrutiny over how much information it discloses about the way candidates use marketing campaigns on its networks.
Wisconsin – Ginni Thomas Pressed Wisconsin Lawmakers to Overturn Biden’s 2020 Victory
MSN – Emma Brown (Washington Post) | Published: 9/1/2022
Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the conservative activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, pressed lawmakers to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 victory not only in Arizona, as previously reported, but also in a second battleground state, Wisconsin, according to emails. Ginni Thomas emailed 29 Arizona lawmakers in in November and December 2020. She urged them to set aside Biden’s popular-vote victory and “choose” their own presidential electors. The new emails show she also messaged two Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin: state Sen. Kathy Bernier, then chair of the Senate elections committee, and state Rep. Gary Tauchen.
September 8, 2022 •
Elections National: “In Voter Fraud, Penalties Often Depend on Who’s Voting” by Michael Wines (New York Times) for Yahoo News Massachusetts: “Maura Healey to Face Trump-Backed Republican in Deep-Blue Massachusetts” by Annie Linskey and David Weigel (Washington Post) for MSN […]
National: “In Voter Fraud, Penalties Often Depend on Who’s Voting” by Michael Wines (New York Times) for Yahoo News
Massachusetts: “Maura Healey to Face Trump-Backed Republican in Deep-Blue Massachusetts” by Annie Linskey and David Weigel (Washington Post) for MSN
Ohio: “Akron Organizers Turn to the Ballot Box for Civilian Oversight of Police” by Nick Evans for Ohio Capital Journal
National: “From Border Town to ‘Border Town,’ Bused Migrants Seek New Lives in D.C. Area” by Antonio Olivo (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Material on Foreign Nation’s Nuclear Capabilities Seized at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago” by Devlin Barrett and Carol Leonnig (Washington Post) for MSN
Indiana: “Contractor Avoids Prison, Ordered to Pay Sanitary District $104K” by Douglas Walker (Muncie Star Press) for Yahoo News
Louisiana: “New Orleans’ ‘Night Mayor’ Fails to Respond to State Ethics [Board] After Trying to Rule on Conflict” by Ben Myers (New Orleans Times-Picayune) for LocalToday
Arkansas: “Ex-Deputy Chief of Staff for Hutchinson Asks to Rescind Registration as a Lobbyist” by Michael Wickline for Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
September 7, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Washington: “Washington State Judge Rules Facebook Violated Campaign Finance Rules” by Naomi Nix (Washington Post) for MSN Elections Georgia: “Election Deniers Repeatedly Visited Ga. County Office at Center of Criminal Probe, Video Shows” by Emma Brown and Jon […]
Washington: “Washington State Judge Rules Facebook Violated Campaign Finance Rules” by Naomi Nix (Washington Post) for MSN
Georgia: “Election Deniers Repeatedly Visited Ga. County Office at Center of Criminal Probe, Video Shows” by Emma Brown and Jon Swaine (Washington Post) for Portland Press Herald
Oklahoma: “Why Most Oklahoma State Legislative Races Are Uncontested” by Keaton Ross for Oklahoma Watch
National: “‘Deeply Problematic’: Experts question judge’s intervention in Trump inquiry” by Charlie Savage (New York Times) for Yahoo News
National: “House Committee Reaches Deal to get Trump Financial Records” by Kevin Freking (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
New Mexico: “New Mexico Bars Commissioner from Office for Insurrection” by Morgan Lee (Associated Press) for MSN
Europe: “Tory Peer Broke Lobbying Rules, Whitehall Watchdog Finds” by Henry Dyer for The Guardian
Ohio: “Redistricting: One year later, Ohio a unique, flawed case” by Susan Tebben for Ohio Capital Journal
September 6, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “FEC Approves Rule to Remove Candidate Loan Repayment Restrictions” by Taylor Giorno for OpenSecrets Florida: “Jury Finds Seminole GOP Chair Guilty in ‘Ghost’ Candidate Case” by Annie Martin (Orlando Sentinel) for Yahoo News Elections Georgia: “Judge Again […]
National: “FEC Approves Rule to Remove Candidate Loan Repayment Restrictions” by Taylor Giorno for OpenSecrets
Florida: “Jury Finds Seminole GOP Chair Guilty in ‘Ghost’ Candidate Case” by Annie Martin (Orlando Sentinel) for Yahoo News
Georgia: “Judge Again Rejects Graham Bid to Throw Out Subpoena in Atlanta-Area Trump Probe” by Kyle Cheney (Politico) for MSN
Wisconsin: “Ginni Thomas Pressed Wisconsin Lawmakers to Overturn Biden’s 2020 Victory” by Emma Brown (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “FBI List Shows Empty Classified Folders, Secret Items Mixed with Mundane” by Perry Stein and Jacqueline Alemany (Washington Post) for MSN
Illinois: “Political Operative Tied to Ald. Daniel Solis Probe Pleads Guilty to Fraud” by Jason Meisner (Chicago Tribune) for MSN
New York: “Panel Rejects 3 of the 10 Nominees to New York’s New Ethics Body” by Chris Bragg for Albany Times Union
Texas: “Appeals Court Sides with Texas Ethics Commission Over Lobbying Fine Against GOP Activist Michael Quinn Sullivan” by Taylor Goldenstein (Houston Chronicle) for MSN
September 2, 2022 •
National/Federal Document Reveals Identity of Donors Who Secretly Funded Nikki Haley’s Political Nonprofit Yahoo News – Alex Isenstadt (Politico) | Published: 8/26/2022 Many of the Republican Party’s biggest donors are among those who funneled anonymous contributions to former United Nations Ambassador […]
Document Reveals Identity of Donors Who Secretly Funded Nikki Haley’s Political Nonprofit
Yahoo News – Alex Isenstadt (Politico) | Published: 8/26/2022
Many of the Republican Party’s biggest donors are among those who funneled anonymous contributions to former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley’s nonprofit as she lays the groundwork for a prospective 2024 presidential bid, according to previously unreported tax documents. Like other nonprofits, Stand For America files an annual tax return with the IRS. While the agency and the group must make those filings available to the public, including the amounts of contributions, such nonprofits do not have to disclose the identities of their donors. The group Documented obtained an unredacted copy of Stand For America’s 2019 filings.
Experts Say a Trump-Backed Charity Is Pushing the Boundaries of Tax Law
National Public Radio – Tom Dreisbach | Published: 8/31/2022
Many figures connected to the failed plot to overturn the 2020 election have coalesced around an increasingly influential nonprofit – the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI). A review of records and leaked audio suggests CPI may be risking legal trouble over its tax-exempt status. Experts said the group appears to be pushing the boundaries of the law by entwining itself with explicitly Republican and pro-Donald Trump political organizations. As an IRS-recognized charity, CPI is exempt from certain taxes. That also gives donors the benefit of deducting their contributions at tax time. But those benefits come with some strings attached.
Fox News Stars Questioned by Election Tech Company in Defamation Case
MSN – Rachel Weiner and Jeremy Barr (Washington Post) | Published: 8/30/2022
Some Fox News hosts are being compelled to answer questions about their coverage of the 2020 presidential election as a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems claims its reputation was ruined by the network’s airing of baseless allegations picks up steam. Lawyers for Dominion questioned Jeanine Pirro and Tucker Carlson, while Sean Hannity and former host Lou Dobbs are scheduled for depositions. They are among the on-air personalities that Dominion says defamed it either by falsely claiming the company conspired to rig the election against Donald Trump or by repeatedly hosting guests who made such claims.
Garland Bans Campaign Activity by Justice Dept. Political Appointees
MSN – Perry Stein (Washington Post) | Published: 8/30/2022
Justice Department political appointees cannot participate in campaign-related activities in any capacity, Attorney General Merrick Garland said, describing the change as necessary “to maintain public trust and ensure that politics … does not compromise or affect the integrity of our work.” The new policy underscores the political scrutiny Garland is facing before the midterm elections, as his agency investigates former president Trump’s handling of classified documents after leaving office and the potential involvement of Trump and other GOP politicians in efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Justice Dept. Says Trump Team May Have Hidden, Moved Classified Papers
MSN – Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 8/31/2022
Former President Trump and his advisers repeatedly failed to turn over highly classified government documents even after receiving a subpoena and pledging a “diligent search” had been conducted, leading to an FBI raid on his Florida home that found more than 100 additional classified items, according to a court filing. The filing traces government officials’ repeated efforts to recover national security papers from Trump’s residence, centered on a storage room where prosecutors came to suspect that “government records were likely concealed and removed … and that efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government’s investigation.”
They Were Some of the Last Journalists at Their Papers. Then Came the Layoffs.
MSN – Elahe Izadi (Washington Post) | Published: 8/28/2022
Newspaper companies have been struggling to find their financial footing with the decline of print advertising. A recent study predicted one-third of American newspapers that existed roughly two decades ago will go extinct by 2025. Another study found some 40,000 newspaper newsroom jobs vanished between 2008 and 2020. Gannett, the largest newspaper chain in the country with more than 200 daily newspapers and its flagship publication USA Today, has already been shedding jobs.
Trump’s Lawyers May Become Witnesses or Targets in Documents Investigation
Yahoo News – Charlie Savage (New York Times) | Published: 8/31/2022
Two lawyers for former President Trump are likely to become witnesses or targets in the investigation into how he hoarded documents marked as classified at his Florida estate and secretly held onto some even after the lawyers claimed all sensitive materials had been returned, legal specialists said. Christina Bobb and M. Evan Corcoran handled Trump’s interactions with the government over a subpoena seeking additional material marked as classified. In a court filing, the Justice Department suggested people in Trump’s circle concealed documents in defiance of that subpoena, putting a spotlight on the lawyers’ actions.
Watchdog Probing Massachusetts US Attorney’s Fundraiser Trip
Yahoo News – Alanna Durkin Richer and Farnoush Amiri (Associated Press) | Published: 8/31/2022
A watchdog agency is investigating whether Massachusetts’ top federal prosecutor violated a law that limits political activity by government workers for attending a political fundraiser that featured First Lady Jill Biden. The U.S. Office of Special Counsel said it has opened an investigation into a potential violation Hatch Act after U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton raised concerns over U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins’ attendance at a July Democratic National Committee fundraiser in Andover, Massachusetts.
When an Election Denier Becomes a Chief Election Official
Yahoo News – Zach Montellaro (Politico) | Published: 8/29/2022
Many of the election deniers running for secretary of state this year have spent their time talking about something they cannot do: “decertifying” the 2020 results. The bigger question, amid concerns about whether they would fairly administer the 2024 presidential election, is exactly what powers they would have if they win this year. They could refuse to certify accurate election results, a nearly unprecedented step that would set off litigation in state and federal court. But secretaries of states’ roles in elections stretch far beyond approving vote tallies and certifying results. Many of the candidates want to dramatically change the rules for future elections, too.
From the States and Municipalities
Alabama – Alabama Ethics Commission Won’t Reconsider Decision on Exculpatory Information
MSN – Brian Lyman (Montgomery Advertiser) | Published: 8/25/2022
The Alabama Ethics Commission will not reconsider a decision that it does not have to disclose potentially exculpatory information to targets of investigations. The state attorney general’s office asked the commission to reconsider the decision in July. Under state law, the ethics panel investigates complaints against public officials. It functions as a kind of grand jury. It does not prosecute individuals for ethics violations. If the commission finds probable cause that ethics violations took place, it refers the case to the attorney general’s office or a district attorney for possible prosecution.
Alaska – Democrat Mary Peltola Wins Special Election in Alaska, Defeating Palin
MSN – Nathaniel Herz | Published: 8/31/2022
Democrat Mary Peltola has won a special election for the U.S. House in Alaska, defeating Sarah Palin and becoming the first Alaska Native to win a seat in Congress as well as the first woman to clinch the state’s at-large district. Peltola’s win flips a seat that had long been in Republican hands. She will serve the remainder of a term left open by the sudden death of U.S. Rep. Don Young. For the moment, it helps Democrats expand their current narrow House majority and gives the party a better chance of winning the seat in the fall, according to at least one nonpartisan elections analyst.
Arizona – Arizona Supreme Court Says Voters Can Decide Ballot Measures in November
KAWC – Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services) | Published: 8/24/2022
Arizonans will be able to vote in November on two controversial ballot measures even though petition circulators did not comply with the law. In separate orders, the state Supreme Court said those who gather signatures for money are required to register for each petition campaign for which they work. Chief Justice Robert Brutinel said that did not happen in either the initiative to require disclosure of “dark money” in politics or another to cap medical debt payments. But Brutinel noted the office provided no procedure for those already registered to circulate other petitions to submit new registrations. The court agreed the signatures gathered by those who did not register anew should count.
California – A Sacramento School Trustee Walked Out of a Hotel with a Vase. Now She’s Reprimanded by Board
MSN – Jason Pohl and Sawsan Morrar (Sacramento Bee) | Published: 8/30/2022
A Sacramento school board member was reprimanded by her colleagues and ordered to undergo ethics training after a hotel employee accused her of trying to steal a red vase from the hotel lobby. Trustee Ericka Harden was filmed on security cameras at Embassy Suites, where she was attending a district-funded education leadership conference. On the video that hotel management sent the school district, Harden is seen walking out of the hotel with the vase. “This is to inform you of the altercation that has been encountered with your employee,” a hotel worker emailed the district. “The vase was returned as I did have to pull it out of her hands.”
California – California Lawmakers Reject Bill to Allow Their Staff to Unionize at the State Capitol
Yahoo News – Taryn Luna (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 8/31/2022
For the fourth time in five years, the California Legislature rejected a bill to allow its staff to unionize, parting with other West Coast states that have approved similar legislation to try to improve workplace conditions and offset power imbalances between politicians and their legislative staff. For decades, legislative employees have not received the same right to unionize as other private and public sector workers despite the Democratic Legislature’s close ties with unions at the Capitol.
California – ‘Close to the Line:’ California’s top campaign finance watchdog wants a deeper look at donor network
CalMatters – Alexei Koseff and Ben Christopher | Published: 8/26/2022
The Fair Political Practices Commission will consider new regulations more clearly defining coordination among affiliated campaign committees after the agency rejected a complaint against Govern For California. The complaint characterized the group’s network of independent committees as a “corporate structure that facilitates money laundering and vastly exceeds the contribution limits to candidates.” An investigation showed committees affiliated with Govern For California have come to play a prominent role in campaigns by making direct donations. Most of the funding to the chapters comes from the same group of 20 donors.
California – Inside a ‘Tale of Greed’ in San Francisco: Bribery scandal leads to 7-year prison sentence
Yahoo News – Gregory Yee (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 8/26/2022
Federal prosecutors called it “a tale of greed as old as time” – a powerful San Francisco official at the heart of a web of kickbacks, bribery, and fraud that stretched across more than a decade. Mohammed Nuru, a former public works director, was sentenced to seven years in federal prison for his role in a public corruption scheme that has ensnared at least a dozen San Francisco officials and business figures, eroded trust in City Hall, and led to an ongoing FBI investigation.
California – L.A. Council Fails to Pick a Replacement for Ridley-Thomas, Exposing a Divide at City Hall
Yahoo News – David Zahniser (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 8/30/2022
Ten months after Los Angeles City Councilperson Mark Ridley-Thomas was indicted on federal corruption charges, the council remains at odds over what should happen to his district – who should represent it and how that person should be selected. Heather Hutt has been the district’s caretaker since July, when a judge sidelined the council’s previous interim pick, former Councilperson Herb Wesson. Councilperson Monica Rodriguez, who opposed a vote on Hutt, said the council moved too swiftly last time it tried to fill the seat, selecting Wesson only to have two judges conclude he is ineligible because of term limits.
Delaware – Judge Upholds Two of Delaware Auditor’s Three Convictions
MSN – Randall Chase (Associated Press) | Published: 8/30/2022
A judge upheld two convictions against Delaware’s auditor for official misconduct and conflict-of-interest but tossed a jury’s third misdemeanor conviction for improperly structuring contract payments to a consulting firm. In issuing his decision, Superior Court Judge William Carpenter Jr. rejected Kathy McGuiness’ request for a new trial. McGuiness, who as auditor is responsible for rooting out government fraud, waste, and abuse, is the first statewide elected official in Delaware to be convicted on criminal charges while in office. She has maintained her innocence and is seeking re-election.
Florida – DeSantis Election Investigation Chief Told Local Officials They Face ‘No Fault’ for Felons Voting
MSN – Matt Dixon (Politico) | Published: 8/29/2022
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office tried to blame local election supervisors for mistakes that could have allowed 20 people convicted of felonies to illegally vote. But the state’s election investigations chief previously absolved those local officials of any wrongdoing, according to documents. Pete Antonacci, who runs DeSantis’ elections investigation office, sent a letter on August 18 to the state’s elections supervisors saying they did nothing wrong when individuals convicted of murder and sex offenses voted in the 2020 election cycle.
Florida – Miami-Dade Commissioner Martinez Surrenders at Jail as Warrant Details Corruption Probe
MSN – David Ovalle and Douglas Hanks (Miami Herald) | Published: 8/30/2022
Miami-Dade Commissioner Joe Martinez surrendered to face criminal charges, as an arrest warrant reveals he is being accused of accepting $15,000 in exchange for sponsoring a bill five years ago to help a shopping plaza that had been repeatedly hit with fines for code violations. The legislation ultimately never passed and did not wind up being considered by the county commission. But under Florida’s unlawful compensation law, prosecutors do not need to show the public official’s “exercise of influence” for illegal pay was actually “accomplished,” only that it was attempted.
Florida – ‘Our Plan Might Have Paid Off’: How FPL dollars secretly funded a spoiler vs. Levine Cava
MSN – Nicholas Nehamas, Douglas Hanks, Sarah Blaskey, and Mary Ellen Klas (Miami Herald) | Published: 8/25/2022
Jeff Pitts’ political consulting firm was a conduit for millions of dollars secretly spent by Florida Power & Light (FPL) on political races since 2018, records show. In one case, the plan was to use Jonathan Burke as a spoiler candidate to drain votes from Miami-Dade County Commissioner Levine Cava, who had clashed with FPL over a nuclear power plant and force her into a runoff against her main opponent, Republican Gus Barreiro, a leaked text message suggests. Money from FPL covered Burke’s $60,000 salary and paid the rent on a $2,300-per-month home in Miami-Dade’s District 8, according to records.
Florida – Seminole GOP Chair’s Trial in ‘Ghost’ Candidate Case Starts Today
MSN – Annie Martin (Orlando Sentinel) | Published: 8/29/2022
Seminole County Republican Party Chairperson Ben Paris is on trial, accused of contributing in his cousin’s name to independent “ghost” candidate Jestine Iannotti’s campaign in 2020. Paris is facing a misdemeanor charge in the scheme, which apparently was an attempt to aid Republican Sen. Jason Brodeur, who was Paris’s boss at the Seminole County Chamber of Commerce at the time of the race. Brodeur has denied any knowledge of his former employee’s actions.
Georgia – Judge Delays Gov. Kemp’s Testimony in Ga. Probe Until After November Election
MSN – Amy Wang and Ann Marimow (Washington Post) | Published: 8/29/2022
The judge presiding over the Georgia grand jury investigation into possible election interference by Donald Trump and his allies denied a motion from Gov. Brian Kemp to quash a subpoena requiring him to testify. But Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney delayed Kemp’s appearance before the grand jury until “some date soon after” Election Day in November. Kemp, who is running for reelection against Stacey Abrams, has alleged the investigation is politically motivated.
Hawaii – Damning Report Unlikely to Affect Honolulu Ethics Director’s Job
Honolulu Civil Beat – Christina Jedra | Published: 8/26/2022
When Jan Yamane was hired by the Honolulu Ethics Commission in 2016, she was leaving the state auditor’s office where employees accused her of operating a hostile work environment that was plagued by favoritism, low morale, and harassment. The state attorney general’s office fought for years to keep the details secret. It only became public recently after a years-long legal fight. Yamane has now spent six years heading the city’s watchdog agency which, among other things, handles complaints about misconduct that may be similar in nature to what Yamane was accused of doing.
Idaho – Former Idaho Lawmaker Sentenced to 20 Years’ Prison for Rape
Yahoo News – Rebecca Boone (Associated Press) | Published: 8/31/2022
A former Idaho lawmaker convicted of raping a 19-year-old legislative intern was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the crime. Aaron von Ehlinger must serve at least eight years before he will be eligible for parole. Von Ehlinger was convicted of felony rape in April, roughly a year after he resigned from his House seat after an ethics committee recommended that he be banned from the statehouse. Von Ehlinger’s supporters publicized the intern’s name, photo, and personal details about her life after she reported the rape, and repeatedly harassed her.
Illinois – DeVore Loan Ends Contribution Caps in Illinois AG Race
Patabook.com – Dan Petrella (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 9/1/2022
Illinois attorney general nominee Thomas DeVore loaned his campaign $250,001, a move that opens the door to unlimited contributions in the race with incumbent Kwame Raoul. Under state law, contribution limits are lifted when a candidate for statewide office donates more than $250,000 to his campaign. Until then, the limits range from $6,000 for individuals to $239,900 for political party contributions to candidates statewide.
Illinois – Pritzker’s Personal Fortune Intersects with State Contracts
Better Government Association – David Jackson, Grace Golembiewski, and Chuck Neubauer | Published: 8/30/2022
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s vast investment portfolio includes interests in a dozen for-profit companies that earned more than $20 billion in state business since he took office in 2019, a Better Government Association investigation found. In some cases, state dollars flowed to companies registered to lobby Pritzker, who as the state’s chief executive held enormous sway over their contracts. The intersection between Pritzker’s personal bottom line and his role as governor comes despite his promise to divest his personal fortune of investments in state contractors and to transfer his multibillion-dollar portfolio into what he called a “blind trust.”
Indiana – Study: Indiana ranks last in campaign finance laws
Journal Gazette – Brett Stover | Published: 8/28/2022
Indiana has the least restrictive campaign finance laws in the country, a new study shows. The Coalition for Integrity, which that focuses on corruption and transparency, released its first-ever State Campaign Finance Index this summer. The index examines laws from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, including regulations on campaign coordination and limits on expenditures. The report highlighted the state’s lack of a cap on individual contributions. Conservative lawyer Jim Bopp Jr. sees that lack of individual contribution regulation as one of the best parts of Indiana’s campaign finance laws.
Kentucky – Citing Conflict, Scott County Residents Sue to Remove Judge Candidate from Ballot
MSN – Taylor Six (Lexington Herald-Leader) | Published: 8/29/2022
Two Scott County residents filed a civil lawsuit to remove Rob Johnson from the ballot as 14th Circuit judicial candidate. Johnson is married to 14th Judicial Circuit Commonwealth Attorney Sharon Mus. Plaintiffs say this creates a situation where Johnson could not perform the majority of the constitutional duties of the position for which he seeks election unless he violates the Judicial Canons of Ethics.
Maryland – Md. Watchdog: Reports from Pr. George’s school board ethics panel are unreliable
MSN – Nicole Asbury (Washington Post) | Published: 8/27/2022
An ethics report that targeted Prince George’s County school board members was unreliable, included “factually inaccurate” information, and omitted key exonerating statements from witnesses, Maryland’s education watchdog said. The error-riddled reports completed last year by a county school board ethics advisory panel and leaked to some community members, accused seven school board members of a variety of offenses, including steering contracts, doing political favors, and engaging in a quid pro quo with a labor union.
Michigan – Michigan Elections Panel Deadlocks, Leaving Abortion Rights Proposal Off Ballot
Yahoo News – Clara Hendrickson (Detroit Free Press) | Published: 9/1/2022
Michigan’s elections panel deadlocked along partisan lines on certifying an abortion rights measure for this fall’s ballot that proposed adding an explicit right to seek the procedure in the state. The impasse leaves the measure off the ballot. But the Reproductive Freedom for All plans to file an appeal asking the Michigan Supreme Court to put the proposed constitutional amendment before voters as election officials prepare to send out ballots next month. The Board of Canvassers’ two Republican members said organizers circulated a petition to collect voter signatures that was riddled with errors the board could not approve.
Michigan – Romulus Ex-Mayor Burcroff Pleads Guilty in Federal Corruption Case
Detroit News – Robert Snell | Published: 8/25/2022
Former Romulus Mayor LeRoy Burcroff pleaded guilty to wire fraud after being accused of spending more than $15,000 in campaign funds on personal expenses. Federal prosecutors alleged he defrauded campaign donors who thought the money would be spent on re-election expenses. Instead, prosecutors say he spent the money on his daughter’s wedding, a Florida vacation, flowers, a $4,500 alcohol bill, and dues and expenses at the Belleville Yacht Club.
Michigan – Who Controls Where and When You See Political Ads? It’s Complicated.
MLive.com – Jordyn Hermani | Published: 9/1/2022
Online outrage was sparked after a journalist noticed a 30-second advertisement, which alleges Michigan gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon believes there should be a total ban on abortion even in the instances of rape or incest, interrupted a children’s cartoon being streamed on Hulu. The streaming service only began running political ads this year after backlash when it initially refused to run ads from Democratic groups. Political scientist Ken Miller said the ad may not have been intended to land in a children’s show but could have a similar effect as if it had been placed during the evening news.
New Jersey – Legislative Resolutions Raise the Question: What’s the point?
New Jersey Monitor – Dana DiFilippo | Published: 8/30/2022
Resolutions are a popular way for state lawmakers to butter up constituents, grab headlines, or publicize their positions on federal issues or other matters over which they wield little control. So far this legislative session, resolutions represent about 10 person of all legislation in the New Jersey General Assembly. But only 22 resolutions, less than three percent of those introduced, have passed this year. John Froonjian of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University, said some resolutions pushed by lawmakers “are not exactly heavyweight public policy,” and he thinks the public can rightly question, “What’s the point?”
New York – Skirting Ethics Order, Hochul Seeks Donations from Cuomo Appointees
archive.today – Jay Root (New York Times) | Published: 8/30/2022
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has been taking money from appointees of the governor, despite an executive order designed to prevent it. In her first year in office, Hochul has accepted more than $400,000 from appointees on boards across the state as well as the appointees’ spouses, a New York Times analysis found. Hochul’s campaign said it was appropriate to accept the contributions because they came from people appointed by her predecessor, Andrew Cuomo. The argument underscored a loophole in the ethics order that would seem to allow one governor to accept money from another governor’s board and commission appointees.
Pennsylvania – Pa.’s Unreliable Lobbyist Disclosure Website Is Getting a User-Friendly Upgrade
Spotlight PA – Kate Huangpu | Published: 8/29/2022
An initiative to improve the online system in Pennsylvania that lobbyists use to disclose which organizations have hired them and how they spend money got a boost in this year’s state budget. A line item listed only as “Lobbying Disclosure” under the Department of State’s general appropriations is funded at $714,000 for the fiscal year that started in July, a 150 percent increase over the previous year. A Department of State spokesperson said the money will fund an IT upgrade to a system that has been criticized as lagging, unintuitive, and often down.
South Dakota – ‘Nobody Thought This Would Be a Governor’: Noem complaint leads to key chapter in short life of ethics board
Fargo Forum – Jason Hayward | Published: 8/30/2022
A recent meeting of the Government Accountability Board, where it moved on two complaints against South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, was the latest in a series of unprecedented events for the board, which was created in response to a series of scandals and an initiated measure. This is the first set of complaints the board has not simply dismissed, meaning the details of the process for a possible contested case must be figured out on the fly. The confidentiality inherent to the board’s process was undermined by Jason Ravnsborg, the former attorney general who brought the complaints public during a feud with Noem over her calling for his impeachment.
Virginia – Judge Throws Out Obscenity Case Attempting to Restrict Sales of Books in Virginia Beach
Virginia Mercury – Graham Moomaw | Published: 8/30/2022
A judge in Virginia dismissed a lawsuit that sought to declare two books as obscene for children and to restrict their distribution to minors, including by booksellers and libraries. The books in question were “Gender Queer: A Memoir” and “A Court of Mist and Fury.” State Del. Tim Anderson filed the suit on behalf of former GOP congressional candidate Tommy Altman. They characterized it as part of a broader effort to strengthen parental control over what children read, while critics denounced it as old-fashioned censorship. The hearing focused less on the merits of the books or First Amendment issues and more on flaws with Virginia’s obscenity law.
Washington DC – D.C. Office Of Campaign Finance Will Investigate Ward 3 Poll Conducted by Councilmember Elissa Silverman
DCist – Callan Tansill-Suddath | Published: 8/26/2022
The Office of Campaign Finance confirmed it will investigate a complaint against District of Columbia Councilperson Elissa Silverman. The complaint says Silverman conducted a telephone poll of residents in Ward 3 ahead of the June 21 primary election and discussed the results with her preferred candidate in the race. That amounted to improper coordination between campaigns and an in-kind campaign contribution that should have been reported, according to the complaint.
Wisconsin – Former Milwaukee Ald. Chantia Lewis Has Seen Sentenced to 30 Days in Custody, 3 Years’ Probation
Yahoo News – Alison Dirr (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) | Published: 8/25/2022
Former Milwaukee Ald. Chantia Lewis was sentenced to 30 days in custody as a condition of three years’ probation following her conviction on two felonies related to her conduct in office. Lewis was removed from office after pleading guilty to a count of misconduct in public office and no contest to a count of intentionally accepting an illegal campaign finance disbursement. Prosecutors said she took at least $21,666 in campaign funds and false travel reimbursements from the city between 2016 and 2020.
September 1, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “Experts Say a Trump-Backed Charity Is Pushing the Boundaries of Tax Law” by Tom Dreisbach for National Public Radio New York: “Skirting Ethics Order, Hochul Seeks Donations from Cuomo Appointees” by Jay Root (New York Times) for […]
National: “Experts Say a Trump-Backed Charity Is Pushing the Boundaries of Tax Law” by Tom Dreisbach for National Public Radio
New York: “Skirting Ethics Order, Hochul Seeks Donations from Cuomo Appointees” by Jay Root (New York Times) for archive.today
Florida: “DeSantis Election Investigation Chief Told Local Officials They Face ‘No Fault’ for Felons Voting” by Matt Dixon (Politico) for MSN
Kentucky: “Citing Conflict, Scott County Residents Sue to Remove Judge Candidate from Ballot” by Taylor Six (Lexington Herald-Leader) for MSN
National: “Justice Dept. Says Trump Team May Have Hidden, Moved Classified Papers” by Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Garland Bans Campaign Activity by Justice Dept. Political Appointees” by Perry Stein (Washington Post) for MSN
Delaware: “Judge Upholds Two of Delaware Auditor’s Three Convictions” by Randall Chase (Associated Press) for MSN
South Dakota: “‘Nobody Thought This Would Be a Governor’: Noem complaint leads to key chapter in short life of ethics board” by Jason Hayward for Fargo Forum
Virginia: “Judge Throws Out Obscenity Case Attempting to Restrict Sales of Books in Virginia Beach” by Graham Moomaw for Virginia Mercury
California: “L.A. Council Fails to Pick a Replacement for Ridley-Thomas, Exposing a Divide at City Hall” by David Zahniser (Los Angeles Times) for Yahoo News
August 31, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “Document Reveals Identity of Donors Who Secretly Funded Nikki Haley’s Political Nonprofit” by Alex Isenstadt (Politico) for Yahoo News Michigan: “Romulus Ex-Mayor Burcroff Pleads Guilty in Federal Corruption Case” by Robert Snell for Detroit News Elections National: […]
National: “Document Reveals Identity of Donors Who Secretly Funded Nikki Haley’s Political Nonprofit” by Alex Isenstadt (Politico) for Yahoo News
Michigan: “Romulus Ex-Mayor Burcroff Pleads Guilty in Federal Corruption Case” by Robert Snell for Detroit News
National: “Fox News Stars Questioned by Election Tech Company in Defamation Case” by Rachel Weiner and Jeremy Barr (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “They Were Some of the Last Journalists at Their Papers. Then Came the Layoffs.” by Elahe Izadi (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “A Sacramento School Trustee Walked Out of a Hotel with a Vase. Now She’s Reprimanded by Board” by Jason Pohl and Sawsan Morrar (Sacramento Bee) for MSN
Florida: “Miami-Dade Commissioner Martinez Surrenders at Jail as Warrant Details Corruption Probe” by David Ovalle and Douglas Hanks (Miami Herald) for MSN
Illinois: “Pritzker’s Personal Fortune Intersects with State Contracts” by David Jackson, Grace Golembiewski, and Chuck Neubauer for Better Government Association
New Jersey: “Legislative Resolutions Raise the Question: What’s the point?” by Dana DiFilippo for New Jersey Monitor
August 30, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Florida: “Seminole GOP Chair’s Trial in ‘Ghost’ Candidate Case Starts Today” by Annie Martin (Orlando Sentinel) for MSN Indiana: “Study: Indiana ranks last in campaign finance laws” by Brett Stover for Journal Gazette Washington DC: “D.C. Office Of […]
Florida: “Seminole GOP Chair’s Trial in ‘Ghost’ Candidate Case Starts Today” by Annie Martin (Orlando Sentinel) for MSN
Indiana: “Study: Indiana ranks last in campaign finance laws” by Brett Stover for Journal Gazette
Washington DC: “D.C. Office Of Campaign Finance Will Investigate Ward 3 Poll Conducted by Councilmember Elissa Silverman” by Callan Tansill-Suddath for DCist
National: “When an Election Denier Becomes a Chief Election Official” by Zach Montellaro (Politico) for Yahoo News
Georgia: “Judge Delays Gov. Kemp’s Testimony in Ga. Probe Until After November Election” by Amy Wang and Ann Marimow (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Documents Already Examined by FBI, Justice Dept. Tells Judge” by Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “Inside a ‘Tale of Greed’ in San Francisco: Bribery scandal leads to 7-year prison sentence” by Gregory Yee (Los Angeles Times) for Yahoo News
Pennsylvania: “Pa.’s Unreliable Lobbyist Disclosure Website Is Getting a User-Friendly Upgrade” by Kate Huangpu for Spotlight PA
August 29, 2022 •
Campaign Finance California: “‘Close to the Line:’ California’s top campaign finance watchdog wants a deeper look at donor network” by Alexei Koseff and Ben Christopher for CalMatters Florida: “‘Our Plan Might Have Paid Off’: How FPL dollars secretly funded a […]
California: “‘Close to the Line:’ California’s top campaign finance watchdog wants a deeper look at donor network” by Alexei Koseff and Ben Christopher for CalMatters
Florida: “‘Our Plan Might Have Paid Off’: How FPL dollars secretly funded a spoiler vs. Levine Cava” by Nicholas Nehamas, Douglas Hanks, Sarah Blaskey, and Mary Ellen Klas (Miami Herald) for MSN
Arizona: “Arizona Supreme Court Says Voters Can Decide Ballot Measures in November” by Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services) for KAWC
National: “Mar-a-Lago Affidavit Says Many Witnesses Interviewed, 184 Classified Files Returned in January” by Devlin Barrett and Perry Stein (Washington Post) for MSN
Alabama: “Alabama Ethics Commission Won’t Reconsider Decision on Exculpatory Information” by Brian Lyman (Montgomery Advertiser) for MSN
Hawaii: “Damning Report Unlikely to Affect Honolulu Ethics Director’s Job” by Christina Jedra for Honolulu Civil Beat
Maryland: “Md. Watchdog: Reports from Pr. George’s school board ethics panel are unreliable” by Nicole Asbury (Washington Post) for MSN
Wisconsin: “Former Milwaukee Ald. Chantia Lewis Has Seen Sentenced to 30 Days in Custody, 3 Years’ Probation” by Alison Dirr (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) for MSN
August 26, 2022 •
National/Federal An Unusual $1.6 Billion Donation Bolsters Conservatives Seattle Times – Kenneth Vogel and Shane Goldmacher (New York Times) | Published: 8/22/2022 A new conservative group received $1.6 billion from one donor, which among the largest – if not the largest […]
An Unusual $1.6 Billion Donation Bolsters Conservatives
Seattle Times – Kenneth Vogel and Shane Goldmacher (New York Times) | Published: 8/22/2022
A new conservative group received $1.6 billion from one donor, which among the largest – if not the largest – single contributions ever made to a politically focused nonprofit. The source of the money was Barre Seid, an electronics manufacturing mogul. The beneficiary is a nonprofit controlled by Leonard Leo, an activist who has used his connections to Republican donors and politicians to help engineer the conservative dominance of the Supreme Court and to finance battles over abortion rights, voting rules, and climate change policy.
Ex-Interior Secretary Zinke Lied to Investigators in Casino Case, Watchdog Finds
MSN – Lisa Rein and Anna Phillips (Washington Post) | Published: 8/24/2022
Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, the leading contender to win a new U.S. House seat representing Montana this fall, lied to investigators several times about conversations he had with federal officials, lawmakers, and lobbyists about a petition by two Indian tribes to operate a casino in New England, the department’s watchdog said. Investigators concluded that when questioned about his talks with Interior attorneys and others outside the department, Zinke and his then-chief of staff failed to comply with their “duty of candor” as public officials to tell the truth, the report said.
Federal Campaign Spending on Childcare Expenses Grows in 2022 Midterms
OpenSecrets – Taylor Giorno | Published: 8/17/2022
Federal candidates are on track to spend more money on childcare ahead of 2022 midterms than in either of the previous two election cycles. For the first time since the FEC approved the expense in 2018, men are driving the increase in childcare expenditures. U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell’s campaign spent more money on childcare than any other male federal candidate this election cycle as of June 30. A record number of mothers were sworn into Congress in 2019. But an analysis shows fewer women are using federal funds to cover childcare expenses this election cycle.
Files Copied from Voting Systems Were Shared with Trump Supporters, Election Deniers
MSN – Jon Swaine, Aaron Davis, Amy Gardner, and Emma Brown (Washington Post) | Published: 8/22/2022
Sensitive election system files obtained by attorneys working to overturn former President Trump’s 2020 defeat were shared with election deniers, conspiracy theorists, and right-wing commentators. A computer forensics firm hired by the attorneys placed the files on a server, where company records show they were downloaded dozens of times. The records include contracts between the firm and the Trump-allied attorneys, notably Sidney Powell. The data files are described as copies of components from election systems in Coffee County, Georgia, and Antrim County, Michigan.
‘It’s a Rip-Off’: GOP spending under fire as Senate hopefuls seek rescue
MSN – Isaac Arnsdorf (Washington Post) | Published: 8/19/2022
Republican U.S. Senate hopefuls are getting crushed on airwaves across the country while their national campaign fund is pulling ads and running low on cash, leading some campaign advisers to demand an audit of the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s (NRSC) finances. The NRSC canceled bookings worth about $10 million. A spokesperson said the NRSC is not abandoning those races but prioritizing ad spots that are shared with campaigns and benefit from discounted rates. Still, the cancellations forfeit cheaper prices that came from booking early, and better budgeting could have covered both.
Justice Dept. Memo to Not Charge Trump in Russia Probe Released
MSN – Devlin Barrett and Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) | Published: 8/24/2022
The Justice Department released the entire text of a secret 2019 memo that laid out the legal rationale for not charging then-President Trump with committing obstruction of justice in the investigation into whether Russia interfered in the 2016 election. The memo says no potential instances of obstruction of justice by Trump that were cited by special counsel Robert Mueller III’s “would warrant a prosecution for obstruction of justice,” regardless of whether the person being investigated was a sitting president.
New Claims Against Ex-Miami Congressman Hired by Venezuela
Yahoo News – Joshua Goodman (Associated Press) | Published: 8/20/2022
Former U.S. Rep. David Rivera, who signed a $50 million consulting contract with Venezuela’s socialist government, not only did no apparent work, but also channeled a large chunk of the money to a yacht company on behalf of a fugitive billionaire, according to new allegations in a civil suit. Rivera’s Interamerican Consulting was sued by PDV USA, a Delaware-based affiliate of Venezuelan-owned Citgo. It alleges Rivera performed no work for the $50 million contract he signed in 2017 for three months of “strategic consulting” meant to build bridges with key U.S. stakeholders.
Rep. Cawthorn Tells Feds He Forgot About $236K; Sends Amended Campaign Finance Report
Yahoo News – Joe Burgess (Asheville Citizen-Times) | Published: 8/22/2022
Days after filing a mandatory federal campaign finance document whose month-late arrival could garner him more than $17,000 in fines, U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn has filed another document saying he got the first report wrong. That is because he forgot about the $235,566 that he personally gave the campaign, the latest report says. While amendments such as the one Cawthorn filed are not uncommon, ones that show large changes can trigger FEC action, said FEC spokesperson Mills Martin. “What is part of the amendment that might be looked at by the FEC are what the changes are and what the additional amounts are,” Martin said.
Republicans Turn Against League of Women Voters
ProPublica – Megan O’Matz | Published: 8/18/2022
The League of Women Voters, known for focusing on voter registration, hosting debates, and conducting candidate surveys, has been more visible recently in advocating for issues like racial equity and abortion rights. As a result, the league is drawing criticism in ways that are extraordinary for the once-staid group. Republicans are pushing back, casting it as a collection of angry leftists. With more right-leaning candidates snubbing the league, voters are less likely to hear directly from those candidates in unscripted forums. That pushback sidelines the league at a time when misinformation has become a significant force in elections at every level.
Some Companies’ Political Spending Fuel Voter Suppression. Shareholders are Pushing Back
Fast Company – Kathryn Kranhold (Capital & Main) | Published: 8/25/2022
Shareholders are pressuring some of the largest American corporations to account for political spending that may be aiding voter suppression or election interference. In the past, shareholder activism has focused mostly on corporate-responsibility causes, such as environmental issues and pay equity between men and women as well as governance like executive pay. The newest movement, addressing threats to democracy, is gaining traction.
Trump Had More Than 300 Classified Documents at Mar-a-Lago
Yahoo News – Maggie Haberman, Jodi Kantor, Adam Goldman, and Ben Protess (New York Times) | Published: 8/22/2022
The initial batch of documents retrieved by the National Archives from former President Trump in January included more than 150 marked as classified, a number that ignited concern at the Justice Department and helped trigger the investigation that led FBI agents to search Mar-a-Lago seeking to recover more, people briefed on the matter said. In total, the government has recovered more than 300 documents with classified markings from Trump since he left office. The volume of the sensitive material found in Trump’s possession helps explain why the Justice Department moved so urgently to hunt down any further classified materials he might have.
Trump Kept More Than 700 Pages of Classified Documents, Letter from National Archives Says
Minneapolis Star Tribune – Alan Feuer (New York Times) | Published: 8/23/2022
Donald Trump took more than 700 pages of classified documents, including some related to the nation’s most covert intelligence operations, to his private club and residence in Florida when he left the White House, according to a letter the National Archives sent to his lawyers. The letter described the alarm in the Justice Department as officials realized how serious the documents were. It also suggested top prosecutors and members of the intelligence community were delayed in conducting a damage assessment about the documents’ removal as Trump’s lawyers tried to argue some of them might have been protected by executive privilege.
White Coats in the State Capital: OB-GYNs become political force in abortion wars
Yahoo News – Alice Miranda Ollstein and Megan Messerly (Politico) | Published: 8/22/2022
Physicians, many of whom have never mobilized politically, are banding together in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, lobbying state lawmakers, testifying before committees, forming PACs, and launching online campaigns against proposed abortion restrictions. Lawmakers who are physicians are using their medical backgrounds to persuade colleagues to scale back some of the more restrictive and punitive portions of anti-abortion laws being considered. The new groups’ early successes in some of the nation’s most conservative states signal the power they hope to wield in the coming months as well as in years to come.
Canada – Ethics Investigation Flags Problem with Transparency in Alberta’s Lobbyist Act
MSN – Hamdi Issawi (Edmonton Journal) | Published: 8/22/2022
One of Alberta’s rules for registering lobbyists needs to change “to promote public transparency” according to a recent investigation by the province’s office of the ethics commissioner. The office began an investigation in May to determine whether Mark Kuspira, the owner of a business known as Crush Imports, had breached the Lobbyists Act – specifically whether he failed to appropriately file a return with the lobbyist registry, and whether he had been lobbying without a filed return.
From the States and Municipalities
Alaska – Ranked Choice Voting, in First Test in Alaska, Is Already Under Attack
Yahoo News – Nathaniel Herz (Anchorage Daily News) | Published: 8/17/2022
Alaskans went to the polls on August 16 for the first time using a new ranked choice system that is already under attack by a number of the politicians competing within it, and voters, in interviews, offered wide-ranging reviews. Many said they like the new system and called it intuitive. But there was also anger from voters across the political spectrum, even though much of the criticism of ranked choice has so far come from conservatives who assert it was set up to protect incumbent U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski from right-wing challengers.
Arizona – Court Battles Rage Over 3 Arizona Voter Initiatives
MSN – Bob Christie (Associated Press) | Published: 8/15/2022
Proponents of three voter initiatives who each turned in hundreds of thousands of signatures to qualify them for the November ballot are trying to beat back legal challenges that could prevent them from going before voters. Two of the measures – one requiring disclosure of who is funding political campaigns and another rolling back or blocking efforts by Republicans to tighten voting rules – are being challenged by pro-business groups. They alleged paid petition circulators made errors or omitted required information on their registrations with the secretary of state or petitions.
Arkansas – Court Tosses Arkansas Law Limiting Election Helpers
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette – Doug Thompson | Published: 8/23/2022
A 2009 Arkansas law forbidding one person from acting as translator for more than six voters in casting their ballots violates the federal Voting Rights Act, U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Brooks ruled. A provision of the 1965 law allows voters who require assistance because of an inability to read or write to get assistance from a person of the voter’s choice, Brooks said. His order told state and county election officials to cease trying to enforce the six-person limit and strike all mention of it from election materials.
Arkansas – Settlement Requires Arkansas Senator to Unblock Critics
MSN – Andrew DeMillo (Associated Press) | Published: 8/17/2022
Arkansas Sen. Jason Rapert will be required to unblock critics from his social media accounts under a settlement a national atheists’ group. Rapert is required to remove any restrictions on his social media accounts and will have to pay more than $16,000 to American Atheists for costs related to a lawsuit. Rapert said he is the founder and president of the National Association of Christian Lawmakers, which works to “restore the Judeo-Christian foundations of our government.”
California – California Targets Local Recall Election ‘Hyperpartisanship’
MSN – Don Thompson (Associated Press) | Published: 8/23/2022
Democratic lawmakers moved to limit the “hyperpartisanship” they said has increasingly corrupted California’s local recall elections, over the objection of Republicans who said it could boost costs and thwart voters’ will. Currently, voters generally decide whether to recall a sitting official and choose that official’s replacement at the same time and on the same ballot. But that could result in a replacement taking office with a minority of votes in a multi-candidate field, and with potentially fewer votes than the official who is ousted.
California – Judge Issues Order That Keeps Herb Wesson Off the L.A. City Council
MSN – David Zahniser (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 8/23/2022
A judge barred former Los Angeles City Councilperson Herb Wesson from returning to City Hall as a temporary fill-in for council member Mark Ridley-Thomas for at least two months, leaving his district without a voting representative. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California has argued Wesson is barred under the city’s term limit law from returning to the council while Ridley-Thomas fights corruption charges. Wesson served more than three terms, the maximum allowed, before being appointed to the temporary post earlier this year.
California – This Former L.A. Politician Took Cash in Envelopes. Now He’s Been Fined $79,830
MSN – David Zahniser (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 8/17/2022
Five years ago, Los Angeles City Councilperson Mitchell Englander took a fateful trip to Las Vegas with a clutch of businesspeople and city staffers, accepting a free hotel room, expensive liquor, and an envelope containing $10,000, among other things. That trip eventually led to a 14-month prison sentence for Englander. The city Ethics Commission voted recently to levy a $79,830 penalty against him for violating gift laws. Commission investigators concluded Englander far exceeded the city’s limits on gifts to public officials, failed to fully report those gifts, and misused his position as a council member.
Florida – DeSantis’s New Election Crimes Unit Makes Its First Arrests
MSN – Lori Rozsa and Tim Craig (Washington Post) | Published: 8/18/2022
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the first arrests made by the state’s new elections police force – twenty people previously incarcerated for murder or sexual assault who he said had illegally voted in the 2020 election. The Florida Legislature passed a bill creating the Office of Election Crimes and Security earlier this year at DeSantis’s behest. While the 2020 election went smoothly in Florida – DeSantis called it the “gold standard” for elections – the governor has said there are still issues and conservative lawmakers have sought to further tighten voting regulations.
Florida – Judge Blocks Florida’s ‘Stop Woke Act’ Restrictions for Private Companies
MSN – Tim Craig (Washington Post) | Published: 8/18/2022
A federal judge ruled that a Florida law restricting workplace bias or diversity training violates the First Amendment and cannot be enforced. U.S. District Court Judge Mark Walker said Florida has turned “the First Amendment upside down” by trying to regulate how employers train employees on topics such as racial inclusion and gender equity. The “Stop Woke Act” prohibits trainings in public schools, colleges and universities, and workplaces that may cause someone to feel guilty or ashamed about the past collective actions of their race or sex. A violation of the act is an offense under state anti-discrimination laws.
Georgia – Georgia PSC Elections Again Delayed After High Court Ruling
MSN – Jeff Amy (Associated Press) | Published: 8/19/2022
Two Georgia Public Service Commission elections will not occur this November, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, reversing an earlier appeals court ruling that allowed them to proceed. Instead, the justices reverted to the original decision by a federal judge in Atlanta that postponed the vote after finding that electing the five commissioners statewide illegally diluted Black votes. The Supreme Court ruled U.S. District Court Judge Steven Grimberg’s decision did not come too close to the election.
Georgia – Sen. Graham Gets Temporary Reprieve in Testifying Before Ga. Grand Jury
MSN – Amy Wang and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) | Published: 8/21/2022
A federal appeals court has temporarily paused an order that would have required U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham to testify before a Georgia grand jury investigating Republican efforts to reverse the 2020 presidential election results in the state. The legal maneuvering is the latest sign of tension between prosecutors and high-profile witnesses in the Fulton County district attorney’s expansive criminal probe of alleged election interference by former President Trump and his allies. After seeking repeated delays, Rudy Giuliani testified for six hours recently.
Michigan – Jury Convicts Adam Fox, Barry Croft Jr. in Whitmer Kidnapping Plot
MSN – Tresa Baldas (Detroit Free Press) | Published: 8/23/2022
In a do-over for the government, a federal jury convicted two men charged with plotting to kidnap and kill Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer out of anger over her handling of the pandemic, ending a trial that highlighted the growth of violent extremism in America. Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr. were convicted on all counts and face up to life in prison. The men were judged by a second, more diverse jury than in the first trial, which ended with no convictions for the government. Two men were acquitted in that trial and the jury deadlocked on charges against Fox and Croft Jr., triggering a mistrial that prompted the government to try again.
Missouri – Ex-St. Louis Alderman John Collins-Muhammad Admits Federal Corruption Charges
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Joel Currier | Published: 8/23/2022
Former St. Louis Alderman John Collins-Muhammad pleaded guilty in a federal bribery case against him and two other ex-city officials. He admitted to theft or bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds, racketeering, and wire fraud. Collins-Muhammad is the first of three ex-council members to plead guilty after being indicted on charges of accepting cash bribes from a local businessperson in exchange for tax breaks. He admitted accepting $7,000 in cash, $3,000 in campaign donations, a new iPhone 11, and a 2016 Volkswagen CC sedan in exchange for his help.
New Jersey – Car Insurance Bills Shine Spotlight on Lawmaker Ethics
New Jersey Monitor – Sophie Nieto-Munoz | Published: 8/23/2022
In New Jersey’s part-time Legislature, lawmakers are often involved in legislation related directly to their full-time careers. Often these votes generate little controversy, especially if the bills pass with wide support. While watchdogs might voice concerns about conflicts-of-interest, lawmakers say their day jobs offer an insider’s knowledge that helps them better shape potential policy. But sometimes public policy can lead to financial windfalls. That is why questions are swirling about whether two top lawmakers will financially benefit from a package of bills Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law recently.
New York – Lobbyists Navigate a More Civil Yet Nuanced Landscape in Albany
City & State – Tim Murphy | Published: 8/22/2022
For a decade, and until only about a year ago, lobbyists, advocates, consultants, and others seeking to influence Albany all feared one thing: the wrath of then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his close advisors. Dealing with Cuomo’s inner circle was never pleasant, according to lobbyists, but cross them and they would lash out. In the past year with Gov. Kathy Hochul, they said that has changed.
North Carolina – N.C. Attorney General Can’t Be Charged with Crime Over Campaign Ad – Yet
MSN – Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) | Published: 8/24/2022
An appeals court temporarily blocked an investigation into North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein over a negative campaign ad, saying the state law he is accused of violating is probably unconstitutional. The debate turns on a 1931 law that criminalized the publication of a “derogatory” campaign ad, “knowing such report to be false or in reckless disregard of its truth or falsity.” A grand jury is investigating whether Stein lied during his successful 2020 reelection campaign in an ad blaming his Republican rival for a backlog of untested rape kits. Even if the ad was false, Stein argued, it would be protected under current First Amendment doctrine.
Ohio – Cleveland Businessman Tony George Was Go-Between for FirstEnergy, Ex-House Speaker Larry Householder Over Nuclear Bailout
MSN – Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 8/22/2022
New documents reveal a close relationship between Cleveland restaurateur Tony George and FirstEnergy in the House Bill 6 bribery scheme, with George acting as an intermediary between top company officials and now-indicted former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder. Tracy Aston, FirstEnergy’s assistant controller, identified George as “Individual B” in the utility’s deferred prosecution agreement with federal authorities. The agreement says “Individual B” was in communication with now-fired FirstEnergy Chief Executive Officer Chuck Jones about an early effort to bail out two nuclear power plants, as well as an aborted effort by Householder to skirt state term limits.
Ohio – The Hidden Role of a Religious Lobbying Group in Ohio’s Education ‘Backpack Bill’
Ohio Capital Journal – Zurie Pope | Published: 8/24/2022
An Ohio bill that would send public education money to private schools if a student chooses to attend one was written with help from religious lobbying group the Center for Christian Virtue (CCV) and a think tank that promotes charter schools. Documents reveal CCV’s involvement in House Bill has been more extensive than previously known and included the advice and promotion of outside groups like Heritage Action and the American Legislative Exchange Council.
Pennsylvania – Philly’s Board of Ethics Will Consider Banning Super PAC ‘Redboxing’ Ahead of the 2023 Mayoral Race
Philadelphia Inquirer – Sean Collins Walsh | Published: 8/17/2022
The Philadelphia Board of Ethics heard testimony on whether it should tighten rules aimed at preventing campaigns from indirectly communicating with political groups that can raise and spend money in unlimited amounts but are prohibited from coordinating with candidates. A proposed amendment that aims to crack down on a new strategy known as “redboxing” that some candidates for federal office have used to give instructions to supportive outside spending groups without communicating with them directly. But election lawyers say the wording of the amendment is too broad and could unintentionally capture normal campaign messaging.
South Dakota – SD Gov. Kristi Noem May Have ‘Engaged in Misconduct,’ Ethics Board Says
NBC News – Associated Press | Published: 8/23/2022
The South Dakota Government Accountability Board said it found sufficient information that Gov. Kristi Noem may have “engaged in misconduct” when she intervened in her daughter’s application for a real estate appraiser’s license, and it referred a separate complaint over her airplane use to the state attorney general for investigation. She is under scrutiny from the board after Jason Ravnsborg, the former attorney general, filed complaints that stemmed from media reports on Noem’s actions in office. The governor has denied any wrongdoing.
Tennessee – Former Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada, Cade Cothren Plead Not Guilty to Federal Corruption Charges
MSN – Melissa Brown and Adam Friedman (Tennessean) | Published: 8/23/2022
Former Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada and his onetime chief of staff, Cade Cothren, were arrested on federal corruption charges including bribery, kickbacks, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Prosecutors allege the pair ran a shadowy political consulting firm fronted by Cothren to solicit General Assembly business and siphon off kickbacks. Casada is the first current or former House speaker to be indicted in state history. He resigned as speaker amid a texting scandal over sexually explicit and racist conversations with Cothren.
Texas – Election Staff Abruptly Quits, Upending Rural Texas County
MSN – Paul Weber (Associated Press) | Published: 8/22/2022
Part of why Terry Hamilton says he abruptly left his job running elections in Gillespie County, Texas, is by now a familiar story in America – he became fed up with the harassment that followed the 2020 election. But this was no ordinary exit. On the brink of November’s midterm elections, it was not just Hamilton who quit but also the only other full-time election worker. The sudden emptying of an entire local elections department came less than 70 days before voters start casting ballots.
Texas – One Former and One Current State Rep Are Set to Get Part of Lucrative Houston Airport Contracts
AviationPros – Dylan McGuinness (Houston Chronicle) | Published: 8/18/2022
The Houston City Council passed a lucrative contract granting food and beverage shops inside Bush Intercontinental Airport to a partnership that includes a former legislative colleague and longtime friend of Mayor Sylvester Turner. The city said it will publicly announce the vendors after the second contract passes City Council. An affiliate of SSP Group is leading the food and beverage contract. Multiplex Inc., the concessions company founded by former state Rep. Helen Giddings of Dallas, is a junior partner in that deal. The SSP deal also involves Karen Garcia, the wife of Roland Garcia, who chaired the city’s Hispanic Advisory Council for Turner.
Texas – Texas Bans Local, State Government Entities from Doing Business with Firms That ‘Boycott’ Fossil Fuels
Texas Tribune – Mitchell Ferman | Published: 8/24/2022
Texas banned 10 financial firms from doing business with the state after Comptroller Glenn Hegar said they did not support the oil and gas industry. Hegar sent inquiries to hundreds of financial companies earlier this year requesting information about whether they were avoiding investments in the oil and gas industry in favor of renewable energy companies. The survey was a result of a new law that went into effect in September and prohibits most state agencies, as well as local governments, from contracting with firms that have cut ties with carbon-emitting energy companies.
Washington – ‘Gold Standard’ or Unconstitutional? Facebook and Wash. State AG Spar Over Political Ad Disclosure Law
MSN – Todd Bishop (GeekWire) | Published: 8/16/2022
Facebook parent company Meta and Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson agree on this: the state’s campaign advertising disclosure law is exceptional. But is that good or bad – and more importantly, is the law constitutional? That is a matter of significant disagreement as both sides prepare for a key hearing in King County Superior Court in Seattle. It promises to be a pivotal moment in a long-running dispute over the state’s public disclosure requirements for tech platforms that run campaign ads.
Wyoming – Secretary of State Halts Unusual Effort to Put Candidate on Ballot Against Gray
Casper Star-Tribune – Victoria Eavis | Published: 8/23/2022
The Wyoming secretary of state’s office quashed an effort to put an independent challenger on the ballot to run against state Rep. Chuck Gray, the Republican secretary of state nominee. After Sen. Cale Case challenged the secretary of state’s interpretation of a statute that requires all independent candidates to sign off on their own candidacy, the chief elections office ruled against him. Case was attempting to get former legislator Nathan Winters on the ballot as an independent, despite the fact that Winters does not want to run.
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