October 30, 2020 •
National/Federal Administration Plans to Nominate Bipartisan Pair to Hobbled FEC Roll Call – Kate Ackley | Published: 10/28/2020 After leaving so many vacancies at the FEC that it could not hold meetings for most of the 2020 campaign cycle, the Trump […]
Administration Plans to Nominate Bipartisan Pair to Hobbled FEC
Roll Call – Kate Ackley | Published: 10/28/2020
After leaving so many vacancies at the FEC that it could not hold meetings for most of the 2020 campaign cycle, the Trump administration said it planned to nominate a bipartisan pair to the hobbled agency. President Donald Trump’s picks are Republican Sean Cooksey, who serves as general counsel to Sen. Josh Hawley, and Shana Broussard, who currently serves as counsel to FEC member Steven Walther. Broussard, if confirmed, would be the first Black commissioner in the agency’s 45-year history.
Ballrooms, Candles and Luxury Cottages: During Trump’s term, millions of government and GOP dollars have flowed to his properties
MSN – David Fahrenthold, Josh Dawsey, Jonathan O’Connell, and Anu Narayanswamy (Washington Post) | Published: 10/27/2020
Since his first month in office, President Trump has used his power to direct millions of dollars from U.S. taxpayers, and from his political supporters, into his own businesses. The president brought taxpayer money to his businesses simply by bringing himself. He has visited his hotels and clubs more than 280 times, making them a familiar backdrop for his presidency. Documents show visits by Trump, his family, and his supporters have turned the government and the Republican Party into regular customers for the family business. In the case of the government, Trump’s visits turned it into a captive customer. What the government needed from Trump’s properties, it had to buy from Trump’s company.
Coronavirus Cases Are Surging Again. These States Have Refused to Loosen Rules on Who Can Vote by Mail.
MSN – Elise Viebeck and Arelis Hernandez (Washington Post) | Published: 10/26/2020
Texas is one of five red states that emerged as conspicuous holdouts this year as the rest of the country rushed to loosen voting rules because of the coronavirus pandemic. Most of the roughly 30 million registered voters who live there, and in Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee have no choice but to cast ballots in person this fall, even as the rate of coronavirus in the U.S. approaches its third peak. The situation underscores how the nation’s decentralized election systems and Republican opposition to mail voting this year are translating into vastly different voting experiences for Americans, depending on where they live. Legal challenges to the voting limits have foundered in some courts, rejected by a federal judiciary that has shifted rightward under President Trump.
COVID-19 Legislation, Postelection Prep Keep K Street Busy
Roll Call – Kate Ackley | Published: 10/21/2020
Negotiations over the federal response to the COVID-19 crisis have fueled the lobbying sector this year, as K Street firms and corporate representatives now turn their attention to the coming tumult after the November elections. Some of the nation’s biggest spenders on federal lobbying, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Realtors, Facebook, and Amazon, reported shelling out more money on influence campaigns so far this year than they did during the first three quarters of 2019. The biggest lobbying firms, such as Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, also reported increasing revenue this year.
Democrats in Pennsylvania, North Carolina Claim Key Wins at Supreme Court Ahead of Election
MSN – Robert Barnes (Washington Post) | Published: 10/28/2020
Democrats won two significant U.S. Supreme Court victories involving voting deadlines in key battleground states, as the justices allowed extended periods for receiving mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. They declined to disturb decisions that allow Pennsylvania officials to receive ballots cast by Election Day and received within three days, and a ruling by North Carolina’s elections board that set a grace period of nine days. In both cases, the Republican Party and GOP legislators had opposed the extensions, and President Trump has railed on the campaign trail about the mail-in vote.
Facebook Tries to Block Tool Aimed at Promoting Transparency Around Political Ads
Politico – Mark Scott | Published: 10/23/2020
Facebook told researchers at New York University (NYU) to stop using a digital tool that tracks how people are targeted with political ads ahead of the November 3 election. The demand centers on the academics’ use of a web browser plug-in that gives Facebook users a way to share specific political ads they are seeing on the site. Political advertisers primarily target their ads to specific demographic groups, so the NYU tool, which collects roughly 16,000 ads each week, allows researchers to see how campaigns and other groups are crafting messages to voters based on race, age, location, or other criteria.
Guns at Voting Sites Emerge as Flash Point in Michigan Amid Nationwide Election Tension
MSN – Mark Berman (Washington Post) | Published: 10/26/2020
As tensions mount ahead of Election Day, a legal battle in Michigan is highlighting fears some officials and civil rights groups have about what will happen when people show up at polling sites with guns – which is legal in numerous jurisdictions across the U.S. Many Americans will be able to show up at their polling locations with guns, something that has unnerved law enforcement officials and experts nationwide at time of anxiety over whether clashes or violence could break out before, on, or after Election Day. Gun rights supporters argue law-abiding gun owners should be able to continue carrying their weapons where doing so is allowed. Exactly where that is allowed varies widely, echoing the way the country’s election processes vary from state to state.
How Trump Abandoned His Pledge to ‘Drain the Swamp’
Anchorage Daily News – Josh Dawsey, Rosalind Helderman, and David Fahrenthold (Washington Post) | Published: 10/25/2020
In the closing weeks of the 2016 election, Donald Trump led cheering supporters in chants of “drain the swamp,” promising he would completely disrupt the culture of Washington, D.C. He warned of the power of lobbyists and political donors who he said effectively bought off elected officials. He told voters he was uniquely prepared to take on the issue, because he knew personally as a donor how the system worked. But during his four years in office, Trump has taken few steps to clean up Washington. He has instead presided over a norm-shattering expansion of private interests in government.
In Campaign’s Closing Days, Disinformation Arrives Via Text Message and Email
MSN – Isaac Stanley-Becker and Tony Romm (Washington Post) | Published: 10/28/2020
A video sent to voters falsely claimed Joe Biden wants to give “sex changes to second-graders.” A menacing directive advised Democrats to vote for Trump “or else.” And a years-old photograph newly circulated with erroneous instructions for how to blow past a purported poll watcher on Election Day. These deceptive, 11th-hour messages are not finding their way to Americans via the now well-trodden paths of Facebook and Twitter. Instead, they are arriving in waves of text messages and emails, making use of a more intimate and less heavily scrutinized vector of disinformation than the social networking services manipulated four years ago as part of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
International Election Observers in the U.S. Consider This Year the Most Challenging Ever
Washington Post – Carol Morello | Published: 10/22/2020
If legal controversy engulfs the 2020 elections, state Supreme Courts may be thrust into the prominent role of referee for the presidential race for the first time in two decades, placing new focus on judicial appointees that have increasingly shown partisan leanings. The Brennan Center found more than $500 million has been poured into state Supreme Court elections since 2000, reinventing the one-time “sleepy low-dollar contests,” as Douglas Keith of the Brennan Center put it, into an arena for dark money and political dogfights. And while both sides of the partisan divide have sought to gain an edge in the judicial arms race, conservative groups have prioritized efforts to tip the balance of these crucial courts.
Judge Orders Justice Department to Verify Its Filings in Flynn Case
Politico – Kyle Cheney | Published: 10/23/2020
The federal judge presiding over the criminal case against former national security adviser Michael Flynn ordered the Department of Justice (DOJ) to conduct an unusual review of its filings in the case and certify whether any have been manipulated. The order is a signal of intense distrust between the judge, Emmet Sullivan, and the DOJ, whose filings are typically accepted at face value. In this case, the DOJ has acknowledged two documents it previously filed – handwritten notes taken by former FBI Agent Peter Strzok and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe – were altered “inadvertently” to include inaccurate dates. Sullivan’s demand will force the DOJ to confront tricky interpretations of handwritten notes that the department and Flynn’s legal team have relied on to seek the dismissal of the prosecution.
Judge Rejects Justice Dept. Bid to Short Circuit Defamation Case Brought by Woman Who Accused Trump of Rape
Washington Post – Matt Zapotosky, Devlin Barrett, and Shayna Jacobs | Published: 10/27/2020
A federal judge rejected the Justice Department’s bid to make the U.S. government the defendant in a defamation lawsuit brought by a woman who says President Trump raped her several years ago, paving the way for the case to again proceed. U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan wrote Trump did not qualify as an “employee” under federal law, nor was he acting “within the scope of his employment” when he denied during interviews that he had raped journalist E. Jean Carroll more than two decades ago in a New York City department store. Carroll sued Trump over that denial. The Justice Department argued Trump was “acting within the scope of his office as President of the United States” when he disputed Carroll’s allegations.
Lobbying Firm Cuts Ties with Turkey Under Pressure
Politico – Theodoric Meyer | Published: 10/23/2020
The lobbying firm Mercury Public Affairs scrapped its $1 million contract Turkish government following a pressure campaign by Armenian-American activists incensed by Turkey’s support for Azerbaijan in ongoing hostilities with Armenia. The effort recalls the push to convince K Street firms representing Saudi Arabia’s government to cut ties with the kingdom in 2018 after Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The Washington Post, where Khashoggi had been a contributing opinion writer, threatened to bar two lobbyists from writing columns for the paper unless their firms stopped working for Saudi Arabia. The pressure ultimately led five lobbying firms to sever ties with the kingdom.
Miles Taylor Revealed as ‘Anonymous’ Writer of Insider Warnings About Trump
MSN – Colby Itkowitz and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 10/28/2020
Miles Taylor, the ex-chief of staff in the Department of Homeland Security who has spent the past two months building a case against reelecting President Trump, revealed himself to be the presidential critic from inside the administration known only as “Anonymous.” Taylor, who served in the administration for two years, wrote in a post revealing his identity that his criticisms of Trump were “widely held among officials at the highest levels of the federal government. In other words, Trump’s own lieutenants were alarmed by his instability.” Using the nom de plume, Taylor first wrote a New York Times op-ed in 2018 purporting to be among a group of people inside the administration working to protect the country from the president’s worst instincts.
Politicization of State Supreme Courts Looms Over Possibility of Contested Vote
ABC News – Olivia Rubin and Lucian Bruggeman | Published: 10/22/2020
As the eyes of the world focus on the U.S. election, teams of international observers are heading out across the United States amid concerns about the vote’s integrity. For the ninth time, observers affiliated with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) have come to the United States to watch over an election and recommend improvements, a mission little-noticed by most Americans. But the 2020 campaign is different. As fears rise about voter suppression, violence, and a potentially contested outcome, the Europeans say they hope their efforts will help assure Americans the vote is legitimate.
Trump’s Attacks on Political Adversaries Are Often Followed by Threats to Their Safety
MSN – Greg Miller and Isaac Stanley-Becker (Washington Post) | Published: 10/28/2020
The CIA’s Security Protective Service monitors thousands of threats to public officials across social media and Internet chat rooms. Over time, a pattern has emerged: violent messages surged each time the analyst was targeted in tweets or public remarks by President Trump. Targets encompass nearly every category of government service: mayors, governors, and members of Congress, as well as officials Trump has turned against within his own administration. The dynamic appears to be without precedent – government agencies taking extraordinary measures to protect their people from strains of hostility stoked by a sitting president.
Twitter Launches ‘Pre-Bunks’ to Get Ahead of Voting Misinformation
NBC News – David Ingram | Published: 10/28/2020
Twitter said it would begin placing messages at the top of users’ feeds to pre-emptively debunk false information about voting by mail and election results, an escalation of the company’s battle against misinformation. Twitter is calling the messages a “pre-bunk,” something it says it has never done, because the debunking is not a reaction to an existing tweet with misinformation. Twitter, Facebook, Google, and other tech companies are racing to make last-minute changes to prepare their services for an expected rise in misinformation, election interference or even civil unrest as officials prepare to begin counting votes November 3.
From the States and Municipalities
Alabama – Supreme Court Restores Ban on Curbside Voting in Alabama
Politico – Josh Gerstein | Published: 10/21/2020
A divided U.S. Supreme Court reinstated a state-ordered ban on curbside voting in Alabama, despite claims from disabled and at-risk voters that making them vote inside polling places puts them in danger of contracting the coronavirus. The justices stayed a lower-court injunction that lifted the prohibition on drive-through voting that was issued by Alabama’s secretary of state. Justice Sonia Sotomayor argued that allowing curbside voting was a “modest” accommodation to those at greatest risk of severe illness or death from Covid-19.
Arizona – Dead Contributor Among Questions Raised Over Phoenix Mayor Candidate’s Campaign Filings
Arizona Republic – Jen Fifield, Farah Eltohamy, and Jose-Ignacio Castaneda Perez | Published: 10/24/2020
Among the dozens of donors listed as contributing to Tim Seay’s campaign for Phoenix mayor is Marvin Cox, a former fire chief in Maywood, Illinois. Cox is listed as contributing $5,000 on July 3. But he died more than a year earlier, in May 2019. His is one of several contributions on Seay’s campaign finance reports that raise questions, including others that came from people who said had not donated to his campaign. In an email, Seay said generally he knows he has “made some mistakes” on his campaign finance reports. He said that was due to his lack of experience as a candidate and inability to find an experienced campaign manager.
Arizona – Top Democrats Sue Over Arizona Redistricting Panel List
Associated Press News – Bob Christie | Published: 10/23/2020
Democratic leaders of the Arizona Legislature say two of five independents chosen by a judicial panel as potential chairpersons of a commission that will redraw political district boundaries next year are not legally eligible for the post. They want the nominees replaced with qualified people. The lawsuit alleges utility company executive and attorney Thomas Loquvam is not qualified because he is registered as a lobbyist. They also are challenging Robert Wilson, a gun store owner who is registered as an independent but has held rallies for President Trump and other Republicans. They say that shows he is not truly an independent as the constitution requires.
California – Gig Companies Open the Door to Campaigning by App
Politico – Katy Murphy | Published: 10/26/2020
Rideshare and delivery companies are not only spending record sums, they are wielding their own platforms and using customer data to win on Proposition 22, a November ballot measure that would exempt some gig companies from a California law that classifies many freelance workers as full-time employees. The moves by Uber, Lyft, and others show what is possible, technologists and legal experts say, when tech companies brush past norms and consumer expectations, leveraging their influence and everything they know about the public for their political advantage. Given how much data is stored on their servers, data privacy experts fear the companies themselves could influence the electorate when they face an existential threat like the gig companies do in California.
California – SLO County Board Wants to Cap Campaign Conations at $25,000 – More Than 5 Times State Limit
San Luis Obispo Tribune – Lindsay Holden | Published: 10/21/2020
The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors directed staff members to prepare an ordinance to cap political donations at $25,000 per person, an amount that is five times the statewide limit that will go into effect next year. Assembly Bill 571 will limit campaign contributions at $4,700 starting in January 2021 in all cities and counties that do not already have their own election finance laws.
Colorado – Court of Appeals: Colorado ethics commission not subject to CORA or state open meetings law
Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition – Jeffrey Roberts | Published: 10/27/2020
Neither the Colorado Open Records Act nor the Open Meetings Law applies to the constitutionally created state commission that investigates allegations of ethical misconduct involving public officials, the state Court of Appeals ruled. Rejecting the Glendale mayor’s argument that a District Court has jurisdiction to review the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission’s denial of his records requests, a three-judge appellate panel determined the commission is not a state agency or public body subject to the open-government laws.
Colorado – Denver City Council Votes Down Money Transfer from Fair Elections Fund
Westworld – Connor McCormick-Cavanagh | Published: 10/26/2020
The Denver City Council voted against pulling money from a municipal campaign finance fund and putting it toward other priorities in the 2021 budget. Denver voters passed a measure creating the Fair Elections Fund, which began collecting an annual allocation of approximately $2 million from the city budget starting in 2020. The fund can hold no more than $8 million per election cycle; candidates will have access to it for the first time during the 2023 Denver municipal elections. During the comment period, many speakers talked about the importance of the fund to encourage grassroots candidacies.
Connecticut – FBI Probes New Haven City Contract; Harp Wiretapped, Says Fraudster Tried to Set Her Up
Connecticut Mirror – Paul Bass (News Haven Independent) | Published: 10/21/2020
Then-New Haven Mayor Toni Harp walked out of Jack’s Steakhouse in 20109 with an envelope filled with thousands of dollars of cash handed to her by an accused money launderer. A city contract followed and a federal grand jury investigation. But it is unclear who was up to what. Harp had dinner that night with her top aide, Andrea Scott; city Controller Daryl Jones; and entrepreneur Derek Bluford, who is under federal indictment for financial fraud and was looking for a way to lessen his prison sentence. The group had been discussing a contract Bluford wanted the city to give a company with which he was involved. And they discussed his help in raising money for Harp’s reelection campaign. Bluford handed Harp an envelope as they left. Harp and Scott said they did not open the envelope until later, when they were shocked to find $7,000 in cash rather than legitimate individual campaign contribution checks.
Florida – A ‘Dark Money’-Funded Ballot Measure in Florida Could Make It Harder to Pass Future Amendments
MSN – Jonah Goldman Kay (Business Insider) | Published: 10/29/2020
In the next election cycle after 2020, Florida voters might not pass any constitutional amendments. If passed, an initiative on the ballot this year, Amendment 4, would require any future amendments to be passed in two consecutive elections. Only one other state, Nevada, has a similar requirement in its constitution. The “Are You Sure” measure was sponsored by Keep Our Constitution Clean, a secretive nonprofit with ties to a major business advocacy organization in Florida. Opponents of the amendment say it is another attempt from the Republican-led Legislature to suppress the vote by making it more difficult to get amendments on the ballot.
Georgia – In Georgia, Democrats Target the True Silent Majority: People who don’t vote
New York Times – Astead Herndon | Published: 10/28/2020
Over 100 million eligible, voting-age Americans did not vote in 2016, more than the number who voted for either presidential candidate. In traditional swing states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, most observers believe turnout is largely fixed and campaigns succeed based on their ability to persuade a set of voters. But in the new set of battleground states in the South, as well as Arizona, the priority is converting nonvoters into voters. The thinking is that If the Democratic Party can reshape the electorate with new arrivals to the state, well as greater participation from Black residents and immigrants, a red state becomes a blue one. But experts who study nonvoting populations warn the work of changing electorates is hard and complicated. There is no such thing, they say, as an inevitable demographic destiny.
Illinois – Flossmoor Trustee Resigns So He Can Keep Lobbying Chicago City Hall
WTTW – Heather Cherone | Published: 10/22/2020
Chicago lobbyist Gyata Kimmons resigned his elected position as a Flossmoor village trustee, citing rules that took effect months ago prohibiting elected officials from lobbying Mayor Lori Lightfoot and other city departments. The village announced Kimmons’ resignation the same day The Chicago Tribune published a report detailing how after aldermen banned elected officials from lobbying city government, he on two occasions exchanged emails directly with Lightfoot on behalf of Unibail–Rodamco–Westfield, a real estate company he lobbies City Hall on behalf of tenants at O’Hare International Airport. Kimmons was notified by Chicago that he had to immediately decide between lobbying the city professionally or holding public office.
Illinois – Inspector General Should Probe Cook County Commissioner, Chief of Staff Amid Pot Firm Revelations, Ethics Experts Say
Chicago Sun-Times – Tom Schuba | Published: 10/21/2020
A Cook County commissioner and her chief of staff should be investigated for joining a fledgling marijuana company after serving as state cannabis regulators, government ethics experts said. Cook County Commissioner Bridget Degnen acknowledged she is working with Americanna Dream, a startup seeking licenses to operate recreational marijuana dispensaries. The Sun-Times has since learned her chief of staff and general counsel, Tara Meyer, is also partnered with the company, which is among 21 finalists. Susan Garrett, chairperson of the Center for Illinois Politics, said there are simply “too many missing pieces to this puzzle” and recommended the Illinois Office of the Executive Inspector General probe the matter.
New Hampshire – Pappas Confirms Relationship with Ex-Lobbyist, Says Mowers Crossed a Line
Manchester Union-Leader – Josie Albertson-Grove | Published: 10/22/2020
U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas’ campaign confirmed he is dating a former lobbyist after his opponent brought up the relationship in a debate but said it has had no bearing on his votes. The campaign said Pappas and Vann Bentley are in a relationship. Bentley left a job as a lobbyist for Amazon in August 2019. Members of Congress are not barred from having and are not required to disclose romantic relationships with lobbyists.
New Jersey – State Education Department Orders Suspension of Paterson BOE Member
Bergen Record – Joe Malinconio (Paterson Times) | Published: 10/26/2020
The New Jersey Department of Education ordered that Paterson school board member Emanuel Capers be suspended for six months for taking a free trip to an Arizona resort from a company looking for a contract from the district. The company, Woz U, eventually got a contract from Paterson Public Schools for online courses, but never received any payment from the district for its services. Interim Education Commissioner Kevin Dehmer’s decision largely agrees with a state ethics commission ruling but softened the panel’s suggested penalty. The commission had called for Capers’ removal from office. Prior to the ethics panel decision, an administrative law judge had ruled in Capers’ favor.
Ohio – Attorney General Challenges Legality of Householder Using $1M Campaign Cash for Legal Fees
MSN – Marc Kovac (Columbus Dsipatch) | Published: 10/22/2020
State Attorney General Dave Yost said he would file a complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission after it was disclosed that former House Speaker Larry Householder used campaign cash to cover legal fees since his July arrest on federal corruption charges. Yost said the spending was illegal and he directed staff in his office to pursue a formal complaint. Householder’s pre-general election campaign finance filing included seven expenditures since July totaling more than $1 million to three law firms. Federal prosecutors allege Householder used “dark money” from FirstEnergy and related entities to support the campaigns of his supporters and block referendum efforts to overturn 2019 nuclear bailout legislation.
Ohio – Ohio’s Drop-Box Dispute Shows How Voting Rights Groups and Democrats Fear Trump’s Influence
MSN – Michael Kranish (Washington Post) | Published: 10/27/2020
An alliance of voting and civil rights groups – noting federal recommendations call for one ballot drop box for every 15,000 to 20,000 voters – sued Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, declaring his decision to limit the boxes to one per county was the definition of voter suppression. At a time when many people do not want to go to the polls due to the pandemic, or do not trust the U.S. Postal Service to deliver ballots on time, the groups said drop boxes are vital. The battle in Ohio underscores the fears of Democrats and voting rights advocates about the influence President Trump’s false claims about fraud via mail-in ballots and drop boxes could have over voters’ ability to cast a ballot and the counting of ballots.
Ohio – What Actually Happened with FirstEnergy’s $158K Checks to Ohio Politicians
MSN – Jessie Balmert (Cincinnati Enquirer) | Published: 10/23/2020
Newly released records show what actually happened with mysterious checks that FirstEnergy cut to Ohio politicians shortly before a massive bribery investigation came to light. Between July 6 and July 16, FirstEnergy’s PAC issued checks worth $158,000 to Ohio Senate, House, and state Supreme Court candidates. But many candidates said they never received that money. FEC reports from the committee now show FirstEnergy canceled $103,000 in checks to 43 Ohio House candidates and state Supreme Court candidates Judi French and Sharon Kennedy on September 17. What happened to the remaining $55,000? FirstEnergy PAC sent that money to 20 Ohio Senate candidates. The checks, issued July 6, were not voided. But only one was cashed for certain.
Oregon – Judge Rules City Must Open Investigation into Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s $150,000 Loan to His Campaign
OPB – Rebecca Ellis | Published: 10/23/2020
A judge ruled the city auditor must examine a complaint into Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s $150,000 loan to his own re-election campaign. Voters approved strict campaign finance limits in 2018 including a $5,000 cap on how much candidates can loan themselves. But City Auditor Mary Hull Caballero decided not to enforce the self-funding portion of the charter, saying it conflicts with the U.S. Supreme Court precedent and would inevitably be struck down by the court. Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Ryan ruled the auditor had to follow the rules in the charter and city code and look into the complaint that alleged Wheeler violated campaign finance rules with his loan.
Oregon – Kate Brown Struck Secret Deal with Oregon Homebuilders Over Wildfire Codes, Lobbyists Say on Tape
Street Roots – Chris May | Published: 10/21/2020
After Oregon’s homebuilders lobby tried, but failed, to block regulations allowing local governments to implement their own wildfire safety standards in new construction, it is now relying on a secret agreement with Gov. Kate Brown to ensure those standards are not mandated statewide in fire-prone regions. Street Roots obtained secretly made recordings of this agreement being discussed at high-level meetings between Portland and Oregon Home Builders Association board members and top lobbyists. The audio provides a rare window into how one of the state’s most influential industries holds sway over critical public policy issues through lobbying, “revolving-doors,” and access to influential lawmakers.
Pennsylvania – Ballots Can’t Be Tossed Out Over Voter Signature, Court Says
Associated Press News – Marc Levy | Published: 10/23/2020
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled unanimously on a key concern surrounding an avalanche of mailed ballots, prohibiting counties from rejecting them if the voter’s signature on it does not resemble the signature on the voter’s registration form. Republican lawmakers and President Trump’s campaign had argued the law is clear election officials must compare the information on the mail-in ballot envelope, including a voter’s signature, to a voter’s information on file to determine a person’s qualifications to vote. But the justices disagreed, as did a federal judge in a separate case brought earlier the Trump campaign.
Tennessee – Tennessee Sen. Joey Hensley Defends Prescribing Opioids to Relatives, Lover
The Tennessean – Brett Kelman | Published: 10/26/2020
A lawyer for state Sen. Joey Hensley conceded the politician, a small-town doctor, prescribed opioids to family members and an employee with whom he was in a romantic relationship, in what the state contends is a violation of medical ethics. Attorney David Steed said it was well-intentioned, harmless, and all but unavoidable for Hensley to prescribe to relatives in a small Tennessee town where he is the only available physician. Francine Baca-Chavez, a state attorney prosecuting the case, asked the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners to put Hensley on professional probation for three years and require him to attend classes on safe prescribing and medical ethics.
Utah – Republican Burgess Owens May Have to Refund Thousands of Dollars in Campaign Donations
Salt Lake Tribune – Bryan Schott | Published: 10/27/2020
Burgess Owens, the Republican nominee in Utah’s Fourth Congressional District, appears to be at the center of a campaign finance controversy with a week to go until Election Day. Owens’ campaign accepted more than $135,000 in illegal campaign contributions, which is approximately 40 percent of the money he has available for the stretch run to the election. All the donations in question have a notation on the report that the amounts are not permitted, and the campaign is waiting for written directions from the donors about what to do with the cash. FEC rules allow donors to reallocate excessive amounts to another member of the household, or to another election, so long as that person is not also over the limit. The other option is a refund. It is not clear whether the campaign has indeed remedied the disputed donations.
Wisconsin – Supreme Court Won’t Extend Wisconsin Ballot Deadline
Politico – Josh Gerstein and Zach Montellaro | Published: 10/26/2020
The U.S. Supreme Court declined to reinstate a court-ordered extension of the deadline for the receipt of absentee ballots in Wisconsin, siding with Republicans in a battle over election procedures amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The high court brushed aside complaints from Democrats and civil rights groups that enforcing the usual deadline of Election Day could leave thousands of ballots uncounted due to postal service changes and the massive number of voters seeking to vote by mail instead of in person. A District Court judge in Wisconsin issued an order pushing back the state’s due date for mail ballots from the close of polls on Election Day to November 9, as long as they were postmarked by November 3. A three-judge panel of the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals suspended the lower court’s ruling.
Wyoming – Wyoming Gun Rights Group Fights Ruling to Disclose Donors
Associated Press News – Staff | Published: 10/22/2020
An attorney for a gun rights advocacy group in Wyoming challenged a ruling by the secretary of state to disclose the group’s donors, arguing the ruling is an attempt to stifle political speech after the group was accused of running attack ads against Republican candidates. The Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce filed the complaint against Wyoming Gun Owners over ads the group ran in the past year despite not being registered with the secretary of state’s office as required by law. The group must now register with the state and disclose its donors or face a $500 fine. Stephen Klein asked the state elections division to dismiss the complaint, saying there was a lack of documentation that showed the ads were against the law.
Wyoming – Wyoming Is Using Dark Money to Help Keep Coal Plants in Other States Open
National Public Radio – Cooper McKim and Andrew Graham | Published: 10/28/2020
After years of lawsuits, the utility Entergy Arkansas agreed to shut down two coal plants. Weeks later, the Arkansas Attorney General and a local coalition called the Arkansas Affordable Energy Coalition intervened, asking a judge to stop the settlement. They argued other fuel sources would be more expensive and less reliable. Emails show the coalition represents more than just coal, gas, and steel businesses in Arkansas. It was created by the nonprofit Energy Policy Network, whose largest donor most years is the state of Wyoming, home to the coal mines that feed the two Arkansas plants slated for shut down. Several ethics experts say this is the first time they have heard of a state using “dark money” in this way. They said it raises questions about state officials backing a group that surreptitiously seeks to impact policy elsewhere.
October 29, 2020 •
The Senate and House gave final approval to the House version of a bill enacting a temporary funding gap appropriation for the government before ending the special session. The House version of the bill has been enrolled and transmitted to […]
The Senate and House gave final approval to the House version of a bill enacting a temporary funding gap appropriation for the government before ending the special session.
The House version of the bill has been enrolled and transmitted to Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga for his review and consideration.
The bill also provides consolidated appropriations and temporary funding to continue government operations until action on regular appropriations are completed.
October 29, 2020 •
Campaign Finance Colorado: “Denver City Council Votes Down Money Transfer from Fair Elections Fund” by Connor McCormick-Cavanagh for Westworld Utah: “Republican Burgess Owens May Have to Refund Thousands of Dollars in Campaign Donations” by Bryan Schott for Salt Lake Tribune […]
Colorado: “Denver City Council Votes Down Money Transfer from Fair Elections Fund” by Connor McCormick-Cavanagh for Westworld
Utah: “Republican Burgess Owens May Have to Refund Thousands of Dollars in Campaign Donations” by Bryan Schott for Salt Lake Tribune
Wyoming: “Wyoming Is Using Dark Money to Help Keep Coal Plants in Other States Open” by Cooper McKim and Andrew Graham for National Public Radio
National: “In Campaign’s Closing Days, Disinformation Arrives Via Text Message and Email” by Isaac Stanley-Becker and Tony Romm (Washington Post) for MSN
Georgia: “In Georgia, Democrats Target the True Silent Majority: People who don’t vote” by Astead Herndon for New York Times
Ohio: “Ohio’s Drop-Box Dispute Shows How Voting Rights Groups and Democrats Fear Trump’s Influence” by Michael Kranish (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Trump’s Attacks on Political Adversaries Are Often Followed by Threats to Their Safety” by Greg Miller and Isaac Stanley-Becker (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Judge Rejects Justice Dept. Bid to Short Circuit Defamation Case Brought by Woman Who Accused Trump of Rape” by Matt Zapotosky, Devlin Barrett, and Shayna Jacobs for Washington Post
National: “Ballrooms, Candles and Luxury Cottages: During Trump’s term, millions of government and GOP dollars have flowed to his properties” by David Fahrenthold, Josh Dawsey, Jonathan O’Connell, and Anu Narayanswamy (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “L.A. Council Members Backtrack, Turning Against Request to Help a Hotel Developer” by David Zahniser for Los Angeles Times
New Jersey: “State Education Department Orders Suspension of Paterson BOE Member” by Joe Malinconio (Paterson Times) for Bergen Record
October 28, 2020 •
Campaign Finance Ohio: “What Actually Happened with FirstEnergy’s $158K Checks to Ohio Politicians” by Jessie Balmert (Cincinnati Enquirer) for MSN Elections National: “Coronavirus Cases Are Surging Again. These States Have Refused to Loosen Rules on Who Can Vote by Mail.” […]
Ohio: “What Actually Happened with FirstEnergy’s $158K Checks to Ohio Politicians” by Jessie Balmert (Cincinnati Enquirer) for MSN
National: “Coronavirus Cases Are Surging Again. These States Have Refused to Loosen Rules on Who Can Vote by Mail.” by Elise Viebeck and Arelis Hernandez (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Guns at Voting Sites Emerge as Flash Point in Michigan Amid Nationwide Election Tension” by Mark Berman (Washington Post) for MSN
Wisconsin: “Supreme Court Won’t Extend Wisconsin Ballot Deadline” by Josh Gerstein and Zach Montellaro for Politico
National: “Judge Orders Justice Department to Verify Its Filings in Flynn Case” by Kyle Cheney for Politico
Colorado: “Court of Appeals: Colorado ethics commission not subject to CORA or state open meetings law” by Jeffrey Roberts for Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition
Tennessee: “Tennessee Sen. Joey Hensley Defends Prescribing Opioids to Relatives, Lover” by Brett Kelman for The Tennessean
New Hampshire: “Pappas Confirms Relationship with Ex-Lobbyist, Says Mowers Crossed a Line” by Josie Albertson-Grove for Manchester Union-Leader
Arizona: “Top Democrats Sue Over Arizona Redistricting Panel List” by Bob Christie for Associated Press News
October 27, 2020 •
On October 23, legislation was introduced in the U.S. Congress to amend and expand the Foreign Agents Registration Act to compel lobbyists for Chinese companies to register as foreign agents. The Chinese Communist Party Influence Transparency Act, introduced as identical […]
On October 23, legislation was introduced in the U.S. Congress to amend and expand the Foreign Agents Registration Act to compel lobbyists for Chinese companies to register as foreign agents.
The Chinese Communist Party Influence Transparency Act, introduced as identical bills in both houses of Congress by Rep. Mike Gallagher and Sen. Tom Cotton, would repeal the exemption from registration for persons, acting as agents of a covered Chinese business organization, providing private and nonpolitical representation of trade and commercial interests.
House Bill 8663 and Senate Bill 4843 would also remove the exemption for persons filing disclosure reports under the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 in connection with the representation of business organizations organized under the laws of, or having their principal place of business in, the People’s Republic of China. The bill defines a covered Chinese business organization as an entity designated by the Attorney General as subject to the extrajudicial direction of the Chinese Communist Party or an entity organized under the laws of, or having its principal place of business in, the People’s Republic of China (including any subsidiary or affiliate of such an entity).
The legislation would become effective 180 days after enactment.
October 27, 2020 •
Campaign Finance Arizona: “Dead Contributor Among Questions Raised Over Phoenix Mayor Candidate’s Campaign Filings” by Jen Fifield, Farah Eltohamy, and Jose-Ignacio Castaneda Perez for Arizona Republic Ohio: “Attorney General Challenges Legality of Householder Using $1M Campaign Cash for Legal Fees” […]
Arizona: “Dead Contributor Among Questions Raised Over Phoenix Mayor Candidate’s Campaign Filings” by Jen Fifield, Farah Eltohamy, and Jose-Ignacio Castaneda Perez for Arizona Republic
Ohio: “Attorney General Challenges Legality of Householder Using $1M Campaign Cash for Legal Fees” by Marc Kovac (Columbus Dispatch) for MSN
Oregon: “Judge Rules City Must Open Investigation into Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s $150,000 Loan to His Campaign” by Rebecca Ellis for OPB
National: “Facebook Tries to Block Tool Aimed at Promoting Transparency Around Political Ads” by Mark Scott for Politico
California: “Gig Companies Open the Door to Campaigning by App” by Katy Murphy for Politico
Illinois: “Inspector General Should Probe Cook County Commissioner, Chief of Staff Amid Pot Firm Revelations, Ethics Experts Say” by Tom Schuba for Chicago Sun-Times
National: “How Trump Abandoned His Pledge to ‘Drain the Swamp’” by Josh Dawsey, Rosalind Helderman, and David Fahrenthold (Washington Post) for Anchorage Daily News
National: “Lobbying Firm Cuts Ties with Turkey Under Pressure” by Theodoric Meyer for Politico
Wyoming: “Wyoming Gun Rights Group Fights Ruling to Disclose Donors” by Staff for Associated Press News
October 26, 2020 •
American Samoa lawmakers returned Monday for an additional 15-day special session. Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga extended the session with the only issue on the agenda to revisit the final fiscal year 2021 budget. The governor remains opposed to the $6.5 […]
American Samoa lawmakers returned Monday for an additional 15-day special session.
Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga extended the session with the only issue on the agenda to revisit the final fiscal year 2021 budget.
The governor remains opposed to the $6.5 million in drastic cuts made by the Fono to the budgets for executive branch departments.
The Fono leaders had told the governor in an October 13th letter they are not confident with governor’s revenue projections.
They further urged the governor to act on the final fiscal year 2021 budget bill now in his control.
October 26, 2020 •
Gov. Mike Parson announced a special session of the General Assembly. The session begins November 5 to focus on getting federal CARES Act funding distributed to the state. This session is the second special session Parson has called this year. […]
Gov. Mike Parson announced a special session of the General Assembly.
The session begins November 5 to focus on getting federal CARES Act funding distributed to the state.
This session is the second special session Parson has called this year.
The session does not affect lobbyist reporting.
October 26, 2020 •
The Ohio Joint Legislative Ethics Committee published a reminder they will not accept cash, money orders, or physical checks for payment of 2021 lobbying registration fees. The online payment portal, accessible via the lobbyist’s OLAC account was established in 2019. […]
The Ohio Joint Legislative Ethics Committee published a reminder they will not accept cash, money orders, or physical checks for payment of 2021 lobbying registration fees.
The online payment portal, accessible via the lobbyist’s OLAC account was established in 2019.
Registrations fees for 2021 must be paid electronically by VISA, MasterCard, or ACH.
Lobbyists may begin renewing registrations for legislative, executive, and retirement system engagements in OLAC on December 1.
The renewal option closes January 15, 2021.
Any lobbyist who does not complete the renewal process by January 15 must file a new initial registration statement.
The registration statement requires a signature page.
October 26, 2020 •
Campaign Finance California: “SLO County Board Wants to Cap Campaign Conations at $25,000 – More Than 5 Times State Limit” by Lindsay Holden for San Luis Obispo Tribune Elections National: “Politicization of State Supreme Courts Looms Over Possibility of Contested […]
California: “SLO County Board Wants to Cap Campaign Conations at $25,000 – More Than 5 Times State Limit” by Lindsay Holden for San Luis Obispo Tribune
National: “Politicization of State Supreme Courts Looms Over Possibility of Contested Vote” by Olivia Rubin and Lucian Bruggeman for ABC News
National: “International Election Observers in the U.S. Consider This Year the Most Challenging Ever” by Carol Morello for Washington Post
Alabama: “Supreme Court Restores Ban on Curbside Voting in Alabama” by Josh Gerstein for Politico
Pennsylvania: “Ballots Can’t Be Tossed Out Over Voter Signature, Court Says” by Marc Levy for Associated Press News
Connecticut: “FBI Probes New Haven City Contract; Harp Wiretapped, Says Fraudster Tried to Set Her Up” by Paul Bass (News Haven Independent) for Connecticut Mirror
National: “COVID-19 Legislation, Postelection Prep Keep K Street Busy” by Kate Ackley for Roll Call
Illinois: “Flossmoor Trustee Resigns So He Can Keep Lobbying Chicago City Hall” by Heather Cherone for WTTW
Oregon: “Kate Brown Struck Secret Deal with Oregon Homebuilders Over Wildfire Codes, Lobbyists Say on Tape” by Chris May for Street Roots
October 23, 2020 •
National/Federal Back from the Supreme Court, House Pushes DC Circuit for Trump Financials Courthouse News Service – Megan Mineiro | Published: 10/20/2020 A three-judge panel on the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals indicated there is little need for a […]
Back from the Supreme Court, House Pushes DC Circuit for Trump Financials
Courthouse News Service – Megan Mineiro | Published: 10/20/2020
A three-judge panel on the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals indicated there is little need for a swift ruling in the legal battle over access to President Trump’s financial records The panel previously upheld the subpoena brought by the House but considered the case for the second time after the U.S. Supreme Court instructed it to reevaluate the House’s subpoena power. Democrats had hoped to have Trump’s past financial statements for campaign leverage. For Judge David Tatel, however, the more prudent move would be to wait until after the next Congress convenes on January 3. The case is one of several ongoing legal battles over the president’s refusal to comply with congressional oversight.
Ex-Interior Official Violated Trump Ethics Pledge by Meeting with Former Associates: Watchdog
The Hill – Rebecca Bietsch | Published: 10/21/2020
A former top Interior Department political appointee violated his ethics pledge by taking a meeting with an organization he previously volunteered for, according to a report from the department’s watchdog. Sources said the employee in question is Todd Wynn, the former head of the department’s Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs. Wynn, now a lobbyist for a major Arizona utility, took a meeting with Rich Lindsey, an energy committee policy consultant from the Council of State Governments. Wynn previously was on the board of trustees for the Council of State Governments 21st Century Foundation.
Former Top Trump Fundraiser Elliott Broidy Pleads Guilty to Foreign Lobbying Charge
Miami Herald – Ben Wieder | Published: 10/20/2020
Elliott Broidy, a top fundraiser for Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and, at the time, the Republican National Committee, pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiring to serve as an unregistered foreign agent. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine and has agreed to forfeit $6.6 million he was paid for his work. The charge is related to his efforts to arrange meetings with top American officials to help quash a U.S. investigation into the 1MDB Malaysian embezzlement scheme and to push for the deportation of Chinese dissident Guo Wengui. Broidy agreed he acted as a foreign agent in his efforts.
Full Federal Appeals Court in D.C. to Weigh House Subpoena to Ex-White House Counsel Donald McGahn
Washington Post – Spencer Hsu | Published: 10/15/2020
The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit revived the House of Representatives’ attempt to enforce a subpoena to former White House counsel Don McGahn but cautioned the case could go unresolved once this Congress’s term ends in January. The appeals court said it will revisit a three-judge panel decision to dismiss the House lawsuit, which came after the White House claimed key presidential aides are “absolutely immune” from compelled testimony to Congress. The panel found Congress has not passed a law expressly authorizing it to sue to enforce its subpoenas.
How Trump Plowed Through $1 Billion, Losing Cash Advantage
Associated Press News – Brian Slodysko and Zeke Miller | Published: 10/20/2020
Some campaign aides for President Trump privately acknowledge they are facing difficult spending decisions at a time when Joe Biden has flooded the airwaves with advertising, even though Trump’s political operation has raised well over $1 billion since he took the White House in 2017. That has put Trump in the position of needing to do more of his signature rallies as a substitute during the coronavirus pandemic while relying on an unproven theory that he can turn out supporters who are infrequent voters at historic levels. “You could literally have 10 monkeys with flamethrowers go after the money, and they wouldn’t have burned through it as stupidly,” said Republican consultant Mike Murphy.
Lobbyists Face Challenges Meeting Newly Elected Lawmakers in November
The Hill – Alex Gangitano | Published: 10/15/2020
Lobbyists are preparing for the difficulty of virtually getting to know newly elected members of Congress when they come to Washington, D.C. for orientation in November. A victory by Joe Biden would make that task even harder given the influx of new aides and administration officials. In all, lobbyists could find themselves navigating the challenges of trying to meet new leadership, committee, agency, and administration staffers in a pandemic without in-person meetings or the fundraisers that typically populate K Street’s calendar shortly after a general election.
On the Job and On the Stump, Cabinet Officials Flout Hatch Act
Bloomberg Law – Stephen Lee, Megan Boyanton, Andrew Kreigbaum, Shaun Courtney, and Alex Ruoff | Published: 10/14/2020
Under President Trump, allegations of violations of the Hatch Act, which clamps down on political activities of government employees while they are on the job, have come at a rate not seen in previous administrations, but there have been few consequences. Two agencies have a role in enforcing Hatch Act violations: the Justice Department, which handles criminal cases, and the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), which takes on civil violations. But while the OSC sometimes makes Hatch Act findings, the Justice Department rarely does, said David Gergen, a professor of public service at the Harvard Kennedy School.
Supreme Court Tees Up Census Case Over Whether Trump Can Exclude Undocumented Immigrants
Politico – Steven Shepard | Published: 10/16/2020
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments over whether President Trump can exclude undocumented immigrants from the census count used to apportion congressional districts to the 50 states. The court’s announcement teed up oral arguments in the case for November 30, an accelerated timeline that paves the way for a potential decision before the Census Bureau is set to deliver the population counts to Trump’s desk at the end of the year. In July, Trump issued a memorandum in July, asking the Census Bureau to subtract undocumented immigrants from the count for the purposes of congressional apportionment, the reallocation of the nation’s 435 House districts every 10 years.
The Big Role That Big Donors Still Play, Quietly, for Joe Biden
New York Times – Shane Goldmacher | Published: 10/20/2020
While Joe Biden’s campaign has trumpeted the small donations flooding in at record rates, the elite world of billionaires and multimillionaires has remained a critical cog in the Biden money machine. As the size of checks has grown, the campaign has become less transparent, declining so far to disclose the names of its most influential bundlers. From Hollywood to Silicon Valley to Wall Street, Biden’s campaign has aggressively courted the megadonor class. It has raised almost $200 million from donors who gave at least $100,000 to his joint operations with the Democratic Party in the last six months, about twice as much as President Trump raised from six-figure donors in that time.
Trump Records Shed New Light on Chinese Business Pursuits
New York Times – Mike McIntire, Russ Buettner, and Susanne Craig | Published: 10/20/2020
President Trump and his allies have tried to paint Joe Biden as soft on China, in part by pointing to his son’s business dealings there. But Trump’s own business history is filled with overseas financial deals, and some have involved the Chinese state. It turns out China is one of only three foreign nations where Trump maintains a bank account. The foreign accounts do not show up on Trump’s public financial disclosures, where he must list personal assets, because they are held under corporate names. The Chinese account is controlled by Trump International Hotels Management LLC, which records show paid $188,561 in taxes in China while pursuing licensing deals there from 2013 to 2015.
Twitter Changes Policy That Blocked a New York Post Story About Biden’s Son
Washington Post – Elizabeth Dwoskin | Published: 10/15/2020
Twitter changed a rule about hacked materials that resulted in blocking a controversial New York Post story about the alleged emails of Joe Biden’s son. The link to the New York Post story will still be blocked under a policy that prohibits sharing people’s personal information. Twitter executive Vijaya Gadde tweeted that the company made the decision after receiving “feedback” that the policy on hacked materials as written could result in undue censorship of journalists and whistleblowers. Going forward, Twitter will remove content only if it is directly posted by hackers or those acting in concert with them. It will label more questionable tweets.
U.S. Government Concludes Iran Was Behind Threatening Emails Sent to Democrats
MSN – Ellen Nakashima, Amy Gardner, Isaac Stanley-Becker, and Craig Timberg (Washington Post) | Published: 10/22/2020
U.S. officials accused Iran of targeting American voters with faked but menacing emails and warned both Iran and Russia had obtained voter data that could be used to endanger the upcoming election. The disclosure by Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe at a hastily called news conference marked the first time this election cycle that a foreign adversary has been accused of targeting specific voters in a bid to undermine democratic confidence. The claim that Iran was behind the email operation, which came into view as Democrats in several states reported receiving emails demanding they vote for President Trump, was leveled without specific evidence. Other U.S. officials, speaking privately, stressed that Russia still remained the major threat to the 2020 election.
White House Was Warned Giuliani Was Target of Russian Intelligence Operation to Feed Misinformation to Trump
MSN – Shane Harris, Ellen Nakashima, Greg Miller, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 10/15/2020
The intelligence agencies warned the White House last year that Russian intelligence officers were using President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph Giuliani as a conduit for disinformation aimed at undermining Joe Biden’s presidential run. Trump and Giuliani have promoted unsubstantiated claims about Biden that have aligned with Russian disinformation efforts, and Giuliani has met with a Ukrainian lawmaker whom American officials believe is a Russian agent. When national security adviser Robert O’Brien cautioned Trump in a private conversation, Trump dismissed concern about Giuliani’s activities by saying, “That’s Rudy.”
Canada – Campaign Donation Limits in B.C. Have Levelled Playing Field, CBC Analysis Finds
CBC – Tara Carman | Published: 10/21/2020
A ban on union and corporate donations to British Columbia political parties and a cap on the amount individuals can give has hurt the provincial Liberals the most, a CBC News analysis found. The ban was introduced by the New Democratic Party (NDP) government in November 2017. Even though British Columbia’s two largest parties both used to accept tens of thousands of dollars from deep-pocketed donors – unions in the case of the NDP and businesses in the case of the Liberals, for the most part – the Liberals were more dependent on those contributions. Donations of $250 or less collectively form the biggest piece of the donation pie for all three parties. This was also true before the rule change, but the limits have made those types of contributions more important.
Canada – Lobbyists Must Now Report Their Activities
Whitehorse Daily Star – Gabrielle Plonka | Published: 10/21/2020
Lobbyists are now required to report their activities in the Yukon Territory with the implementation of the Lobbyist Registration Act. Lobbyists are responsible for registering and entering their information online. A 90-day grace period from October 15 is in effect, to allow for lobbyists to learn and adhere to the new reporting requirements. All lobbyists must register by January 13, 2021. David Jones, the Yukon’s conflict of interest commissioner, is responsible for maintaining and overseeing the Lobbyist Registry.
Canada – Supreme Court Declines to Hear Appeal in Aga Khan Lobbying Case
CTV – Jim Bronskill (Canadian Press) | Published: 10/15/2020
A new court ruling means the federal lobbying commissioner will not be taking a fresh look at whether the Aga Khan broke rules by giving Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a vacation in the Bahamas. The Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear an appeal in the matter from Democracy Watch. In September 2017, then-Commissioner Karen Shepherd said there was no basis to a complaint that the Aga Khan, a billionaire philanthropist and religious leader, had violated the code for lobbyists by allowing Trudeau and his family to stay on his private island in the Caribbean the previous Christmas.
From the States and Municipalities
California – City Clerk Sent People’s Credit Card Numbers to Jailed Husband
Patch – City News Service | Published: 10/21/2020
The Los Angeles Ethics Commission imposed a fine of $7,500 against Lorena Saucillo, a former city clerk who sent people’s credit card information to her incarcerated husband. On two occasions, Saucillo recorded credit card information provided by landlords who were paying city fees. Using her city email address, Lorena sent the credit card information to a personal email account accessible to her husband, whom she knew was intending to use the information for fraudulent purposes, the commission said.
California – Community Newspaper Backed by Former Irvine Mayor and Current Council Candidate Draws Criticism
Los Angeles Times – Ben Brazil | Published: 10/20/2020
An Irvine community newspaper backed by a former mayor and City Council candidate is drawing criticism from academics and council members who consider it misleading to residents. Some have called Irvine Community News & Views biased in favor of Larry Agran, the longstanding local politician who helped get the newspaper started. Agran said in an interview that the newspaper, which claims a circulation of 66,500, is legitimate and just like any other. Agran credited publisher and friend Frank Lunding with starting and running the paper. “I have written for it. I am proud of it. I help Frank wherever I can. I help recruit writers for him,” Agran said.
California – Loops, Slants and Crossed ‘T’s’: How election workers verify voter signatures
San Diego Union Tribune – John Wilkens | Published: 10/18/2020
Election workers eyeballing the signatures of San Diego County voters are at the heart of a screening process that happens before mail ballots for the November 3 election are counted. Workers compare scanned images of voters’ return-envelope signatures with samples already on file at the county Registrar of Voters. It is how they verify the person returning a ballot is the person it was sent to, a safeguard against fraud. Exact matches are not required. Instead, the workers are checking similarities in characteristics such as the slant of the letters, the spacing between the first and last names, and how the “I’s” are dotted and the “t’s” crossed.
California – Main Witness in Santa Clara County Concealed-Gun Bribery Case Pleads Guilty
San Jose Mercury News – Robert Salonga | Published: 10/19/2020
Former AS Solution security manager Martin Nielsen, the primary witness who implicated a sheriff’s captain and three others in an alleged bribery scheme to trade political donations supporting Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith for concealed-carry weapons permits, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges for his role in the ploy. According to the indictment, Nielsen and two others conspired with the four main defendants to obtain up to a dozen concealed-carry weapons permits from the sheriff’s office in exchange for $90,000 in donations to groups that supported Smith.
Colorado – Facing a Deluge of Misinformation, Colorado Takes the Offensive Against It
New York Times – Nick Corasaniti and Davey Alba | Published: 10/20/2020
In 2019, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold saw a tweet falsely claiming her state’s election system had been hacked. The flare-up was another reminder of how pervasive election misinformation had become since the 2016 presidential election. To prevent deceptive tweets, doctored videos, and other forms of misinformation from undermining Colorado’s elections, Griswold is starting a new initiative that will run ads on social media and expand digital outreach to help voters identify foreign misinformation. Griswold and other secretaries of state are bracing for a deluge of misinformation about voting as Election Day draws closer, forced to defend a decentralized election system that has shown a particular weakness to the impact of rumors and outright lies.
Florida – Appeals Court Rejects NRA Lobbyist’s Case Over Graphic Parkland Massacre Emails
South Florida Sun Sentinel – Jim Saunders (News Service of Florida) | Published: 10/21/2020
A full federal appeals court rejected a request by National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer to take up a case about graphic emails she received after the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Hammer asked for the full 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to hear her case against attorney Lawrence Sorensen, who emailed photos to Hammer that included photos of gunshot wounds. The request came after U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle and a three-judge panel of the appeals court ruled against Hammer, who alleged Sorensen violated state laws about issues such as cyberstalking, harassment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Florida – In Last-Minute Push, DeSantis Administration Urges Florida Election Officials to Remove Felons Who Owe Fines from Voting Rolls
Washington Post – Beth Reinhard and Lori Rozsa | Published: 10/20/2020
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s administration delivered last-minute guidance to local election officials recommending measures that voting-rights advocates say could intimidate or confuse voters, the latest salvo in a pitched battle over who is able to cast ballots in a state crucial to President Trump’s reelection. In a notice sent to local election officials, Division of Elections Director Maria Matthews urged them to remove from the voter rolls people with felony convictions who still owe court fines and fees, a move that local officials said is impossible to accomplish before Election Day. A second memo from Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee’s general counsel recommended that election staff or law enforcement guard all mail ballot drop boxes, a step that local election officials say is not required under the law.
Florida – Orlando Airport Leaders Will Review Their Lobbying Rules Following Sentinel Report
Orlando Sentinel – Jason Garcia | Published: 10/21/2020
The agency that runs Orlando International Airport will reexamine its lobbying rules after The Orlando Sentinel reported that a prominent lobbyist broke those rules over the summer but did not face any consequences. Christina Daly Brodeur, a lobbyist at Ballard Partners, called four board members in July on behalf of a client. The rules require lobbyists to report their contacts with board members within one week. Brodeur did not disclose her calls until nearly three months later.
Illinois – Chicago Mayor Exchanged Emails with Lobbyist as City Ethics Board Declined to Enforce Lobbying Ban
MSN – John Byrne and Gregory Pratt (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 10/20/2020
Mayor Lori Lightfoot exchanged emails with lobbyist and Flossmoor Trustee Gyata Kimmons months after a law took effect banning elected public officials from lobbying Chicago City Hall. Kimmons emailed Lightfoot on behalf of a real estate company with tenants at O’Hare International Airport. The back-and-forth occurred after Lightfoot introduced a proposal that would have rolled back part of the ordinance that prohibited elected officials such as Kimmons from lobbying city officials while keeping his elected post. Alderman rejected Lightfoot’s plan but while it was pending, Kimmons continued to lobby the city. During that time, the Chicago Board of Ethics declined to enforce the restrictions against lobbying by elected officials on the grounds that if Lightfoot’s proposal passed, it would nullify them.
Illinois – Cook County Commissioner Is Part Owner of and Worked for a Cannabis License Applicant, Which Critics Say She Should Have Disclosed Sooner
Chicago Tribune – Robert McCoppin | Published: 10/15/2020
Cook County Commissioner Bridget Degnen, who is a former Illinois cannabis regulator, said she is part owner of a company that is applying for cannabis licenses and she was paid to write the applications. The state’s “revolving door” law, meant to keep state workers from immediately switching from regulating an industry to participating in it, prohibits any regulatory worker from accepting compensation from any entity which that person “substantially” regulated, within one year of their state employment. Effective next year, the law will prohibit any state workers who participated substantially in awarding cannabis licenses from holding ownership in any cannabis license for two years after they leave their state jobs. Degnen said she was out of her state job for two years before she joined AmeriCanna Dream late last year.
Illinois – Illinois Dems Slam GOP Candidate for Taking Donations from Red-Light Camera Biz – but Madigan’s Ties to Industry Run Deep
Chicago Sun-Times – Robert Herguth | Published: 10/18/2020
The Illinois Democratic Party has been deluging potential voters in the general election with campaign mailers taking aim at Republican state Rep. Bradley Stephens for taking donations from one of the new bogeymen of Illinois politics: the red-light camera industry. But records also reveal House Speaker Michael Madigan, who runs the state Democratic Party and has been bankrolling the campaign of Stephens’ opponent, has accepted generous campaign checks from red-light camera companies and people affiliated with them for many years. Madigan’s campaign funds have also accepted donations from officials tied to SafeSpeed, which has been swept up in an ongoing federal corruption investigation.
Kansas – Wichita Man Arrested for Allegedly Threatening to Kidnap and Kill Mayor Over City’s Mask Mandate, Police Say
Washington Post – Timothy Bella | Published: 10/19/2020
When Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple was told about the series of text messages sent to another city official, the mayor said he noticed the man, frustrated by the city’s mask mandate to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, had spelled out a graphic, specific threat to kidnap and kill him. The Wichita Police Department confirmed that Meredith Dowty was arrested on a charge of criminal threat for allegedly sending the frightening texts directed at Whipple. The arrest in Kansas’s largest city follows a disturbing trend of alleged abduction plots involving elected officials nationwide.
Kentucky – Ethics Problems in Kentucky County Government? Many Have No Ethics Boards to Look.
MSN – Bill Estep (Lexington Herald-Leader) | Published: 10/14/2020
Dozens of Kentucky counties are failing to fully follow a law requiring financial disclosure by officials and having local boards to handle ethics issues, according to state Auditor Mike Harmon’s office. Harmon said his office surveyed counties on the issue because it has referred findings about potential problems to county ethics boards, only to find there was no active board. In addition to violating the law, the widespread county shortcomings could undermine confidence in government, Harmon said.
Maryland – Maryland Lawmakers Issue Subpoena to Hogan’s Former Chief of Staff Over Six-Figure Payout
Baltimore Sun – Pamela Wood | Published: 10/15/2020
State lawmakers issued subpoenas for Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s former chief of staff, Roy McGrath, and Matthew Sherring, who worked for McGrath at the Maryland Environmental Service (MES), to appear before a committee investigating McGrath’s six-figure payout from his prior job at a state agency. McGrath left his position as Hogan’s top aide four days after The Baltimore Sun reported he negotiated a payout worth more than $238,000 when he left the MES. It was also reported The Sun subsequently reported that McGrath and other executives earned tens of thousands of dollars in annual bonuses, and he was paid more than $55,000 in expense reimbursements for travel, meetings, and meals after he left the agency.
Michigan – Michigan Appeals Court Reinstates Election Day Mail-In Ballot Deadline as Early Voting Surge Continues
Washington Post – Elise Viebeck, John Glionna, and Douglas Moser | Published: 10/17/2020
A state appeals court in Michigan moved up the deadline for voters to return mail-in ballots, reimposing a cutoff favored by Republicans during a continuing surge in early and mail-in voting around the country. A panel from the Michigan Court of Appeals reversed a lower court’s ruling that said ballots could be counted if they were postmarked before Election Day and received within 14 days. The extension would have made Michigan’s deadline one of the most generous in the country. Voters in the state now must return their mail-in ballots by eight p.m. on November 3.
Montana – Montana’s Political Cop Finds Cooney Violated Campaign Finance Rules
Bozeman Daily Chronicle – Perrin Stein | Published: 10/19/2020
Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Jeff Mangan found Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney, who is running for governor against U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, failed to properly report in-kind contributions from the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) and also accepted donations beyond the state limit from the group. The Cooney campaign and the DGA worked on a statewide advertising campaign criticizing Gianforte for his alleged support of a sales tax. Mangan said the Cooney campaign failed to disclose the costs associated with a website that was a component of the advertising campaign as an in-kind contribution from the DGA.
New Mexico – NM Investment Scandal Winds Down
Albuquerque Journal – Mike Gallagher | Published: 10/17/2020
The New Mexico Supreme Court effectively closed the books on state investment scandals involving “pay-to-play” schemes beginning in 2004 that cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in investments that went south. The court upheld earlier rulings that rejected a challenge to a $24.5 million settlement reached between lawyers for the Educational Retirement Board (ERB) and State Investment Council with Vanderbilt Capital Advisors. The state lost more than $100 million on its Vanderbilt investments, and the settlement had been challenged as inadequate by Frank Foy, former chief investment officer at the ERB.
North Carolina – Federal Appeals Court Won’t Lift North Carolina Ballot-Receipt Extension
Politico – Josh Gerstein | Published: 10/21/2020
A divided federal appeals court denied an attempt by Republicans to block an agreement by North Carolina officials allowing absentee ballots in the November election to be counted if they are postmarked by Election Day and received up to nine days later. North Caolina typically counts absentee ballots that arrive up to three days after the election, but the State Board of Elections agreed to extend that window to nine days due to the increased ballot requests related to the coronavirus pandemic, as well concerns about mail delays due to recent Postal Service changes.
Ohio – Ex-House Speaker Runs for Reelection Despite Federal Charges
Associated Press News – Farnoush Amiri | Published: 10/17/2020
Ohio Rep. Larry Householder is likely to win reelection this year despite being indicted on racketeering charges in the alleged bribery scheme to pass a bailout of two nuclear power plants. House members considered removing Householder from the chamber immediately but, if they did so before November 3, voters would be able to reelect him and a lawmaker cannot be expelled twice. The only option now for both parties is to wait until the legislative session begins in January to consider expelling or impeaching him. If reelected, Householder would be automatically removed from office if he is convicted as state law prohibits anyone convicted of a felony or bribery charges from holding public office.
Ohio – Indicted Lobbyist Caims Jay Edwards Is ‘Representative 8’ in HB6 Affidavit, Report Says
Athens News – Ben Peters | Published: 10/16/2020
Neil Clark, a longtime Columbus lobbyist who was indicted in a corruption probe, said Ohio Rep. Jay Edwards is “Representative 8” in the federal affidavit connected to the House Bill 6 scandal. Clark said he, Edwards, then-House Speaker Larry Householder, an aide, and two clients – who Clark reportedly believed to be working undercover with the FBI – met in September 2019 at the Aubergine Club, where they discussed the importance of defeating the ballot initiative campaign that aimed to repeal House Bill 6. Edwards, who served as majority whip, said he does not recall attending the meeting, but he never explicitly denied it occurred.
Oregon – Oregon Public Employee Unions, Interest Groups Launch Neutral-Looking Election Website to Sway Voters
Portland Oregonian – Hillary Borrud | Published: 10/15/2020
Oregon voters who go online to search for information about the election are likely to find a website called the “2020 Oregon voter guide” at the top of their search results. Thanks to paid search engine ads, that website shows up before the state’s official voters’ guide. It looks neutral and informational, but it endorses only Democrats and urges a “yes” vote on all four statewide ballot measures. Campaign finance data shows at least one candidate and some state and local ballot measures endorsed by the guide are paying the PAC that produced it. That information is not listed on the website, nor on political mailers.
Pennsylvania – Supreme Court Allows Pennsylvania to Count Ballots Received Up to 3 Days After Election Day
USA Today – Richard Wolf | Published: 10/19/2020
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled absentee ballots in Pennsylvania can be received up to three days beyond Election Day, setting a precedent that could apply to some other states as well. The justices’ order establishes the ground rules for mail-in voting in one of the nation’s key battleground states. The ruling could have an impact in other states where the deadline for mail-in ballots has been the subject of court battles. Those include Michigan, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Georgia, Indiana, and Montana.
Rhode Island – What’s in a Semicolon? Punctuation Is Key as Lawyers Offer Last Arguments in Political Operative Jeffrey Britt’s Case
MSN – Kate Mulvaney (Providence Journal) | Published: 10/19/2020
Final written arguments were submitted in the trial of Jeremy Britt, a campaign operative for Rhode Island House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello. The arguments did not focus solely on Britt’s guilt or innocence on the most serious charge he faces – allegedly funneling money through a once-rival Republican’s campaign to hide his own role in arranging and financing a mailer endorsing Mattiello. At the judge’s request, they also addressed the significance of the punctuation in the state’s money-laundering law. More specifically, whether placement of commas and semicolons should determine Britt’s fate.
Wyoming – Secretary of State Will Require Gun Rights Group to Disclose Donors
Casper Star Tribune – Nick Reynolds | Published: 10/20/2020
The Wyoming Secretary of State’s Office ordered a pro-gun lobbying organization to reveal its donors after a summer in which the group flooded Wyoming with dozens of ads disparaging a number of sitting lawmakers in competitive races. The office said Wyoming Gun Owners failed to comply with state campaign finance law by not reporting the electioneering communications. The gun owners group now has until November 4 to release the names of its donors or face a $500 fine. If the group refuses to comply, the case will then go to the state attorney general.
October 22, 2020 •
Campaign Finance Canada: “Campaign Donation Limits in B.C. Have Levelled Playing Field, CBC Analysis Finds” by Tara Carman for CBC Elections National: “Threatening Emails Reportedly Sent to Democratic Voters in Three Swing States, Sparking Investigations” by Craig Timberg and Isaac […]
Canada: “Campaign Donation Limits in B.C. Have Levelled Playing Field, CBC Analysis Finds” by Tara Carman for CBC
National: “Threatening Emails Reportedly Sent to Democratic Voters in Three Swing States, Sparking Investigations” by Craig Timberg and Isaac Stanley-Becker (Washington Post) for Seattle Times
North Carolina: “Federal Appeals Court Won’t Lift North Carolina Ballot-Receipt Extension” by Josh Gerstein for Politico
National: “Trump Records Shed New Light on Chinese Business Pursuits” by Mike McIntire, Russ Buettner, and Susanne Craig for New York Times
California: “Community Newspaper Backed by Former Irvine Mayor and Current Council Candidate Draws Criticism” by Ben Brazil for Los Angeles Times
California: “City Clerk Sent People’s Credit Card Numbers to Jailed Husband” by City News Service for Patch
National: “Former Top Trump Fundraiser Elliott Broidy Pleads Guilty to Foreign Lobbying Charge” by Ben Wieder for Miami Herald
Illinois: “Chicago Mayor Exchanged Emails with Lobbyist as City Ethics Board Declined to Enforce Lobbying Ban” by John Byrne and Gregory Pratt (Chicago Tribune) for MSN
Wyoming: “Secretary of State Will Require Gun Rights Group to Disclose Donors” by Nick Reynolds for Casper Star Tribune
October 21, 2020 •
The Bureau of Elections posted the Lobby Registration Act 2021 Reporting Thresholds. This changes every year in January to reflect the change in the consumer price index for Detroit. The threshold for a lobbyist compensating a lobbyist agent or other […]
The Bureau of Elections posted the Lobby Registration Act 2021 Reporting Thresholds.
This changes every year in January to reflect the change in the consumer price index for Detroit.
The threshold for a lobbyist compensating a lobbyist agent or other employee increased from $2,525 to $2,575 for any 12-month period.
The financial transaction threshold between a registered lobbyist or lobbyist agent and a public official increased from $1,275 to $1,300.
Travel and lodging reimbursements increased from $825 to $850.
Food and beverage expenditures for a public official increased from $63 to $64 in any month.
Meanwhile, the $400 threshold for food and beverages purchased between January 1 and the end of the reporting period remains the same as last year.
Employee reimbursements increased from $25 to $26, and the general gift threshold also increased from $63 to $64.
Late filing fees increased from $25 a day up to a maximum of $750, to $26 and a $780 maximum.
The registration threshold of $650 for a lobbyist agent or a lobbyist’s expenditure on one public official during a 12-month period and exempt expenditures at $13, remain the same as last year.
October 21, 2020 •
Campaign Finance National: “How Trump Plowed Through $1 Billion, Losing Cash Advantage” by Brian Slodysko and Zeke Miller for Associated Press News National: “The Big Role That Big Donors Still Play, Quietly, for Joe Biden” by Shane Goldmacher for New […]
National: “How Trump Plowed Through $1 Billion, Losing Cash Advantage” by Brian Slodysko and Zeke Miller for Associated Press News
National: “The Big Role That Big Donors Still Play, Quietly, for Joe Biden” by Shane Goldmacher for New York Times
Montana: “Montana’s Political Cop Finds Cooney Violated Campaign Finance Rules” by Perrin Stein for Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Rhode Island: “What’s in a Semicolon? Punctuation Is Key as Lawyers Offer Last Arguments in Political Operative Jeffrey Britt’s Case” by Kate Mulvaney for Providence Journal
Colorado: “Facing a Deluge of Misinformation, Colorado Takes the Offensive Against It” by Nick Corasaniti and Davey Alba for New York Times
Ohio: “Ex-House Speaker Runs for Reelection Despite Federal Charges” by Farnoush Amiri for Associated Press News
Pennsylvania: “Supreme Court Allows Pennsylvania to Count Ballots Received Up to 3 Days After Election Day” by Richard Wolf for USA Today
National: “Back from the Supreme Court, House Pushes DC Circuit for Trump Financials” by Megan Mineiro for Courthouse News Service
California: “Main Witness in Santa Clara County Concealed-Gun Bribery Case Pleads Guilty” by Robert Salonga for San Jose Mercury News
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