May 3, 2018 •
Campaign Finance Ohio: “Mary Taylor’s $3 Million Campaign Loan Subject of State Legislator’s Elections Complaint” by Andrew Tobias for Cleveland Plain Dealer Elections California: “Crimes Are No Longer a Disqualification for Republican Candidates” by Michael Scherer (Washington Post) for San […]
Ohio: “Mary Taylor’s $3 Million Campaign Loan Subject of State Legislator’s Elections Complaint” by Andrew Tobias for Cleveland Plain Dealer
California: “Crimes Are No Longer a Disqualification for Republican Candidates” by Michael Scherer (Washington Post) for San Francisco Chronicle
Georgia: “Georgia Governor Candidate Aims Gun at Teen in Campaign Ad. ‘Get Over It,’ He Tells Critics.” by Samantha Scxhmidt (Washington Post) for Chicago Tribune
National: “Mueller Raised Possibility of Presidential Subpoena in Meeting with Trump’s Legal Team” by Carol Leonnig and Robert Costa (Washington Post) for Chicago Tribune
Maryland: “Maryland Schools Superintendent Rejects Verletta White as Baltimore County Schools Chief, Citing Ethics Lapse” by Liz Bowie and Doug Donovan for Baltimore Sun
Massachusetts: “Rosenberg Cited for ‘Failure of Judgment and Leadership’ in Blistering Ethics Report” by Matt Stout, Joshua Miller, and Yvonne Abraham for Boston Globe
New York: “NY Appeals Court Rejects de Blasio’s Bid to Shield Emails from Disclosure” by Andrew Denney for New York Law Journal
Oklahoma: “Chairman of Oklahoma Ethics Commission Accuses Legislators of Retaliation” by Nolan Clay for The Oklahoman
Washington D.C.: “Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theories Roil DC City Government” by Ashraf Khalili for Associated Press
National: “Lobbyist Helped Broker Scott Pruitt’s $100,000 Trip to Morocco” by Kevin Sullivan, Juliet Eilperin, and Brady Dennis (Washington Post) for Chicago Tribune
England: “Cabinet Office Searches for Lobbying Tsar Who Can ‘Command Respect’” by David Singleton for Public Affairs Now
Missouri: “Lobbyist Gift Ban Legislation Proceeds – with a Twist” by Katie Parkins and Sarah Kellog for Columbian Missourian
May 2, 2018 •
Campaign Finance Canada: “Trudeau Government Proposes Major Changes to Elections Law” by Aaron Wherry for CBC Florida: “FEC Plans Crackdown on Zombie Campaigns” by Christopher O’Connell for Tampa Bay Times California: “Former Lobbyist Gets 4 Months in Prison for Role […]
Canada: “Trudeau Government Proposes Major Changes to Elections Law” by Aaron Wherry for CBC
Florida: “FEC Plans Crackdown on Zombie Campaigns” by Christopher O’Connell for Tampa Bay Times
California: “Former Lobbyist Gets 4 Months in Prison for Role in Azano Campaign Finance Scandal” by Greg Moran for San Diego Union-Tribune
National: “Senate Democrats Question the Role of a Former For-Profit College Lobbyist at the Education Department” by Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (Washington Post) for Seattle Times
National: “Trump-Allied House Conservatives Draft Articles of Impeachment Against Rosenstein as ‘Last Resort’” by Robert Costa, Sari Horwitz, and Matt Zapotosky (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Mueller Has Dozens of Inquiries for Trump in Broad Quest on Russia Ties and Obstruction” by Michael Schmidt (New York Times) for MSN
Arkansas: “Wilkins, Former Arkansas Legislator, Pleads Guilty to Bribery” by Jan Cottingham for Arkansas Business
Kentucky: “She Advised KY House GOP During Hoover Scandal. Now She’ll Advise the Investigators.” by Daniel Desrochers for Lexington Herald-Leader
Missouri: “Auditor: Missouri highway patrol officials with ties to transportation firm steered it business” by Sky Chadde for St. Louis Post-Dispatch
May 1, 2018 •
Campaign Finance Canada: “B.C. Closes ‘Loophole’ in Municipal Campaign Finance Laws” by Frances Bula for Globe and Mail National: “Meet the Little-Known ‘Big Fish’ Megadonor Setting the Tone for GOP Primary Races” by Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Michael Scherer […]
Canada: “B.C. Closes ‘Loophole’ in Municipal Campaign Finance Laws” by Frances Bula for Globe and Mail
National: “Meet the Little-Known ‘Big Fish’ Megadonor Setting the Tone for GOP Primary Races” by Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Michael Scherer for Northwest Herald
Pennsylvania: “Contractor’s Political Contribution Returned Due to Lehigh County Pay-to-Play Law” by Tom Shortell for Allentown Morning Call
National: “With Congress Stalled on Sexual Harassment Legislation, Lawmakers Can Escape Sanctions by Quitting” by Deidre Shesgreen for USA Today
Ohio: “Former Councilman Joe Cimperman Agrees to Plead Guilty to Ethics Charges, Pay Fine” by Corey Shaffer for Cleveland Plain Dealer
South Carolina: “South Carolina Lawmakers Getting Help on Following State Ethics Laws” by Seanna Adcox (Associated Press) for Charleston Post and Courier
Minnesota: “Allegations Against Minnesota Rep. Rod Hamilton Pose Big Test for New House Sexual Harassment Policy” by Brianna Bierschbach for Minnesota Post
National: “EPA Watchdog Opens Probe of Scott Pruitt’s $50 Condo Rental” by Jennifer Dhouly for Bloomberg.com
Texas: “Committee Fails to Endorse Lobbying Rules Changes” by Jo Clifton for Austin Monitor
September 29, 2017 •
National: GOP Governors Launch a ‘News’ Website with a Mission to Get Themselves Elected Business Insider – Bill Barrow (Associated Press) | Published: 9/19/2017 The Republican Governors Association (RGA) launched an online publication that looks like a media outlet and […]
GOP Governors Launch a ‘News’ Website with a Mission to Get Themselves Elected
Business Insider – Bill Barrow (Associated Press) | Published: 9/19/2017
The Republican Governors Association (RGA) launched an online publication that looks like a media outlet and is branded as such on social media. The Free Telegraph blares headlines about the virtues of GOP governors, while framing Democrats negatively. It asks readers to sign up for breaking news alerts. It launched in the summer bearing no acknowledgement that it was a product of an official party committee whose sole purpose is to get more Republicans elected. The RGA describes the website as routine political communication. Critics say it pushes the limits of honest campaign tactics in an era of increasingly partisan media and a proliferation of “fake news” sites.
Your Favorite Companies May Be Political Black Boxes
Center for Public Integrity – Lateshia Beachum | Published: 9/26/2017
A new study on corporate disclosure and accountability showed a slight dip in the number of companies that disclosed some or all their election-related spending, or banned such spending altogether. The study also revealed a trend toward more managerial and board oversight of political spending and more disclosure or prohibition of campaign donations. Scores were calculated based on 24 indicators that range from whether a company publicly discloses corporate contributions to political committees and organizations, including politically active nonprofit organizations that do not themselves disclose their donors, to whether it posts a detailed report of its corporate political spending on its website.
At Least 6 White House Advisers Used Private Email Accounts
New York Times – Matt Apuzzo and Maggie Haberman | Published: 9/25/2017
At least six members of President Trump’s White House have used private email addresses while conducting government business. Current and former officials say former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, former chief strategist Stephen Bannon, and current advisers Gary Cohn and Stephen Miller sent or received government-related emails on personal email accounts, in addition to two staffers who were previously reported. The news follows reports that senior adviser and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has used a private email for White House business, and that Ivanka Trump used a personal email account to communicate with a member of the administration.
Ethics Office: Anonymous gifts to legal defense funds are not allowed
The Hill – Megan Wilson | Published: 9/28/2017
The Office of Government Ethics (OGE) clarified its policy on legal defense funds, stating that anonymous contributions should not be accepted. The announcement comes after a report that suggested the OGE was departing from internal policy regarding the donations, paving the way for federal officials to accept anonymous donations from otherwise prohibited groups, such as lobbyists, to offset their legal bills. The White House has said it would not allow an employee to receive anonymous donations should someone set up a legal defense funds.
Russian Operatives Used Facebook Ads to Exploit Divisions Over Black Political Activism and Muslims
Washington Post – Adam Entous, Craig Timberg, and Elizabeth Dwoskin | Published: 9/25/2017
The batch of more than 3,000 Russian-bought ads that Facebook is preparing to turn over to Congress shows a deep understanding of social divides in American society, with some ads promoting African-American rights groups including Black Lives Matter and others suggesting these same groups pose a rising political threat. The Russian campaign, taking advantage of Facebook’s ability to simultaneously send contrary messages to different groups of users based on their political and demographic characteristics. These targeted messages highlight the sophistication of an influence campaign slickly crafted to mimic and infiltrate U.S. political discourse while also seeking to heighten tensions between groups already wary of one another.
Skadden, Big New York Law Firm, Faces Questions on Work with Manafort
New York Times – Kenneth Vogel and Andrew Kramer | Published: 9/21/2017
The U.S. Justice Department asked a prestigious law firm for documents and information related to its work for deposed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, on whose behalf Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairperson, also worked. The New York Times reported that the Justice Department asked Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom for information and documents relevant to its work on Yanukovych’s behalf. Tt was not clear whether the request was related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, which has focused in recent months on Manafort.
From the States and Municipalities:
Arizona: 116 Arizona Lobbyists Could Face Attorney General Investigation
Arizona Republic – Alia Beard Rau | Published: 9/22/2017
The Arizona secretary of state’s office referred 116 lobbyists to the state attorney general after they did not file the 2017 second-quarter expenditure reports required under state law. The reports provide details about which public official the lobbyist spent money on, what was paid for, and which company benefited. The reports were due by July 31. If they do not comply, the lobbyists can face fines up to $1,000 each. Records indicate many of the lobbyists on the list are not active. Matt Roberts, a spokesperson for the secretary of state, said inactive lobbyists still must file reports if they were active during that reporting period.
California: Anaheim’s Lobbyist Sunshine Ordinance Will Be Largely Self-Enforced
Voice of OC – Thy Vo | Published: 9/20/2017
New restrictions on lobbyists now are in effect in Anaheim, although enforcement of the law will be largely self-reported. The city attorney will not be proactively questioning whether certain employees and contractors are in compliance with the law, said city spokesperson Mike Lyster. Instead, council members or city commissioners can request the city clerk to determine whether someone is a lobbyist and needs to register. Lobbyists are required to register within 15 days after any lobbying activity. The first quarterly report is not due until January 2018.
Illinois: Lobbying Is All in the Zalewski Family
Chicago City Wire – W.J. Kennedy | Published: 9/26/2017
In an era in which states are barring politicians from lobbying their former colleagues until after a waiting period, an investigation found three current elected officials in Illinois working as lobbyists. And it is legal. Chicago Alderman Michael Zalewski lobbies the Legislature with the Z Consulting Group. Zalewski’s son is a representative who by all appearances lobbies the city of Chicago through the law firm of Taft Stettinius & Hollister. State Sen. Toi Hutchinson is registered in Cook County in her role as director of community relations and social responsibility for the law firm of Chapman and Cutler.
Maine: Lawmakers Make Case That Maine’s Initiative Process Is Being Gamed
Portland Press Herald – Scott Thistle | Published: 9/25/2017
Lawmakers on the Government Oversight Committee made the case that Maine’s initiative process is being gamed, and pointed to a flow chart showing a dizzying array of out-of-state and overseas entities with ties to the casino referendum on the November ballot. The committee said it is still gathering facts and has not launched a formal investigation into the ballot question campaign, but lawmakers on the panel said they were concerned the casino ballot question and several others in recent years were not the work of Maine citizens, but stemmed from out-of-state interests looking to cash in on the state’s citizen initiative process.
Maryland: Maryland Lobbyist Pleads Guilty to Bribing Lawmaker to Help with Prince George’s Liquor Licenses
Washington Post – Drew Gerber | Published: 9/22/2017
A Maryland lobbyist has pleaded guilty to a federal bribery charge. Matthew Gorman pleaded guilty to paying then-Prince George’s County Councilperson William Campos $2,000 in 2013 for writing a letter to the county’s liquor board recommending a business receive a license. Gorman faces up to 10 years in prison. Campos, a former state delegate, pleaded guilty to accepting $40,000 to $50,000 from people for official actions while he was on the council. Eight people have been charged in the probe, including former Del. Michael Vaughn.
Missouri: Ethics Panel Fines Adviser to Missouri Mega Donor at Center of Pay-to-Play Allegations
Kansas City Star – Jason Hancock | Published: 9/27/2017
The Missouri Ethics Commission and a political consultant agreed to a consent order that involved the man’s failure to register as a legislative lobbyist over the last two years. The consultant, Paul Mouton, agreed to pay a fee of $2,000, with all but $200 stayed if he follows other provisions of the order. The order instructs Mouton to register as a lobbyist and file necessary disclosure reports.
New Mexico: Did Gov. Susana Martinez Break SEC Rules in New Mexico Pension Deals?
International Business Times – David Sirota, Josh Keefe, and Andrew Perez | Published: 9/20/2017
With New Mexico reeling from an influence-peddling scandal involving state investments in 2010, voters elected a new governor promising a swift crackdown. But as Gov. Susana Martinez’s second term draws to a close, an investigation shows that when it comes to campaign cash from managers of state investments, Martinez turned a blind eye to the ethical standards she championed. During her tenure, New Mexico has been giving lucrative investment deals to financial firms whose executives have delivered big campaign donations to Martinez and to groups that have supported her election campaigns, a situation that may have violated the very “pay-to-play” rules that were passed in the wake of the previous scandals.
New York: Dean Skelos Has Conviction Overturned; Prosecutors Will Pursue Retrial
Albany Times Union – Staff | Published: 9/26/2017
A federal appeals court overturned the bribery and other convictions of former New York Sen. Dean Skelos, asserting jurors were wrongly instructed in the case based on a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that narrowed what constitutes public corruption. The appeals court also vacated the convictions of Skelos’s son, Adam. Dean Skelos, prosecutors said, targeted businesses that depended on state help either through legislation or contracts and forced them to pay his son hundreds of thousands of dollars for jobs where he did not actually have to work. Federal prosecutors have vowed to promptly pursue retrials.
Ohio: BlackRock Executive’s Kasich Donation May Cost $37 Million
Bloomberg.com – Miles Weiss | Published: 9/25/2017
A senior BlackRock executive donated to an unsuccessful U.S. presidential candidate last year, an action that may prohibit the world’s largest asset manager from collecting some fees from the state of Ohio. Mark Wiedman, a BlackRock senior managing director, gave $2,700 to the presidential campaign of Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who was seeking the Republican Party nomination. Federal securities rules prohibit companies or their executive officers from contributing to government officials who could influence the hiring of a fund manager or have authority to appoint a person who could do so and then providing asset management services to their governments for a fee. The ban is in effect for two years after the contribution is made. The state of Ohio uses BlackRock-managed funds.
State and Federal Communications produces a weekly summary of national news, offering more than 60 articles per week focused on ethics, lobbying, and campaign finance.
September 28, 2017 •
Lobbying Illinois: “Lobbying Is All in the Zalewski Family” by W.J. Kennedy for Chicago City Wire Missouri: “Ethics Panel Fines Adviser to Missouri Mega Donor at Center of Pay-to-Play Allegations” by Jason Hancock for Kansas City Star Campaign Finance “Your […]
Illinois: “Lobbying Is All in the Zalewski Family” by W.J. Kennedy for Chicago City Wire
Missouri: “Ethics Panel Fines Adviser to Missouri Mega Donor at Center of Pay-to-Play Allegations” by Jason Hancock for Kansas City Star
“Your Favorite Companies May Be Political Black Boxes” by Lateshia Beachum for Center for Public Integrity
Alabama: “Former House Majority Leader Micky Hammon Pleads Guilty to Mail Fraud” by Brian Lyman for Montgomery Advertiser
Maryland: “Rawlings-Blake to Repay More Than $5K in Expenses to Campaign” by Luke Broadwater for Baltimore Sun
New York: “NY Senator Wants to Make It Illegal for Powerful Interests to Hide Behind LLCs” by Emma Whitford for Gothamist
“Trump’s Health Secretary May Not Be Leaving Just Yet” by Jennifer Epstein, Justin Sink and Anna Edney for Bloomberg.com
“Bills to Protect Mueller Are Bipartisan, but the Path Forward Is Uncertain” by Nicholas Fandos for New York Times
California: “What a Difference Three Days Makes: How voters shook up California’s Legislature” by Laurel Rosenhall for CALmatters
September 27, 2017 •
Lobbying California: “Anaheim’s Lobbyist Sunshine Ordinance Will Be Largely Self-Enforced” by Thy Vo for Voice of OC Campaign Finance Connecticut: “UConn Researchers Find Business, Labor Unions Aren’t Driving Super PACs” by Jack Kramer for CTNewsJunkie.com Maine: “Lawmakers Make Case That […]
California: “Anaheim’s Lobbyist Sunshine Ordinance Will Be Largely Self-Enforced” by Thy Vo for Voice of OC
Connecticut: “UConn Researchers Find Business, Labor Unions Aren’t Driving Super PACs” by Jack Kramer for CTNewsJunkie.com
Maine: “Lawmakers Make Case That Maine’s Initiative Process Is Being Gamed” by Scott Thistle for Portland Press Herald
Ohio: “BlackRock Executive’s Kasich Donation May Cost $37 Million” by Miles Weiss for Bloomberg.com
“Congressional Aides Risk Conflicts with Stock Trades” by Maggie Severns for Politico
“Exclusive: OGE crafting a new advisory on legal defense funds” by Cristina Alesci for CNN
Maryland: “State Prosecutor Investigating Former Baltimore County School Supt. Dallas Dance” by Liz Bowie, Doug Donovan and Alison Knezevich for Baltimore Sun
New Jersey: “Paterson Mayor Joey Torres Pleads Guilty to Corruption Charges” by Joe Malinconico (Paterson Times) for Bergen Record
New York: “Dean Skelos Has Conviction Overturned; Prosecutors Will Pursue Retrial” Staff Report for Albany Times Union
“GOP Governors Launch a ‘News’ Website with a Mission to Get Themselves Elected” by Bill Barrow (Associated Press) for Business Insider
Alabama: “Moore Wins Republican Senate Primary, Dealing Blow to GOP Establishment” by Michael Scherer for Washington Post
Wisconsin: “Wisconsin Strict ID Law Discouraged Voters, Study Finds” by Michael Wines for New York Times
September 26, 2017 •
Lobbying “Skadden, Big New York Law Firm, Faces Questions on Work with Manafort” by Kenneth Vogel and Andrew Kramer for New York Times Arizona: “116 Arizona Lobbyists Could Face Attorney General Investigation” by Alia Beard Rau for Arizona Republic Maryland: […]
“Skadden, Big New York Law Firm, Faces Questions on Work with Manafort” by Kenneth Vogel and Andrew Kramer for New York Times
Arizona: “116 Arizona Lobbyists Could Face Attorney General Investigation” by Alia Beard Rau for Arizona Republic
Maryland: “Maryland Lobbyist Pleads Guilty to Bribing Lawmaker to Help with Prince George’s Liquor Licenses” by Drew Gerber for Washington Post
“Fate Is Uncertain for House GOP’s Campaign Finance Riders” by Kenneth Doyle for Bloomberg BNA
New Mexico: “Did Gov. Susana Martinez Break SEC Rules in New Mexico Pension Deals?” by David Sirota, Josh Keefe, and Andrew Perez for International Business Times
“Kushner Used Private Email to Conduct White House Business” by Josh Dawsey for Politico
“Anthony Weiner Gets 21 Months in Prison for Sexting with Teenager” by Benjamin Weiser for New York Times
Georgia: “Atlanta Ethics Board: No free Falcons tickets, suites for city workers” by Jaclyn Schultz for WAGA
New York: “Ethics Watchdog Gives Thumbs-Up to Cuomo Plane Trip, Scrutinizes Others” by Chris Bragg for Albany Times Union
Oklahoma: “Oklahoma Senator Defends Drug Companies Against Lawsuit Filed by State” by Randy Ellis for The Oklahoman
Pennsylvania: “Corruption Case Against Pa. Lawmaker Delayed for Years” by Angela Couloumbis and Craig McCoy for Philadelphia Inquirer
“Facebook to Turn Over Thousands of Russian Ads to Congress, Reversing Decision” by Craig Timberg, Carol Leonnig, and Elizabeth Dwoskin for Washington Post
September 25, 2017 •
Campaign Finance Connecticut: SEEC asks Malloy to keep campaign finance law out of future budget negotiations by Mike Savino for Record-Journal Pennsylvania: Former candidate hopefuls face action from revamped Pittsburgh ethics board by Chris Potter for Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Elections Trump […]
Connecticut: SEEC asks Malloy to keep campaign finance law out of future budget negotiations by Mike Savino for Record-Journal
Pennsylvania: Former candidate hopefuls face action from revamped Pittsburgh ethics board by Chris Potter for Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Trump Pledges to Campaign for Moore if Strange Loses by Bridget Bowman for Roll Call
Ethics experts say Trump administration far from normal by Rachael Seeley Flores for The Center for Public Integrity
Georgia: Georgia ethics panel will audit candidates in governor’s, mayor’s races by James Salzer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Corey Lewandowski appears to be working with another lobbying firm by Theodoric Meyer and Daniel Lippman for Politico
Sprint hired Trump-connected lobbyist amid deal talks by Ginger Gibson and Diane Bartz for Reuters
New York: Keith Wright might have to give up job at lobbying firm by Carl Campanile for New York Post
Utah: Former Utah House speaker named chief lobbyist for Mormon church by Lee Davidson for The Salt Lake Tribune
September 22, 2017 •
National: Request Denied: States try to block access to public records San Jose Mercury News – Andrew DeMillo and Ryan Foley (Associated Press) | Published: 9/17/2017 State lawmakers across the country introduced and debated dozens of bills during this year’s […]
Request Denied: States try to block access to public records
San Jose Mercury News – Andrew DeMillo and Ryan Foley (Associated Press) | Published: 9/17/2017
State lawmakers across the country introduced and debated dozens of bills during this year’s legislative sessions that would close or limit public access to a wide range of government records and meetings. Most of those proposals did not become law, but freedom-of-information advocates in some states said they were struck by the number of bills they believed would harm the public interest, and they are bracing for more fights next year.
Government Ethics Office Says It Will Stick with Ban on Anonymous Gifts
Politico – Darren Samuelsohn | Published: 9/15/2017
David Apol, the acting director of the Office of Government Ethics, said the agency is sticking with its long-standing stance prohibiting anonymous donations to White House legal defense funds, despite recently putting forward language that appeared to undercut that position. The OGE has been under fire in the wake of a report detailing a potentially critical change to the agency’s official guidance document that the OGE’s recently departed director said could give a green light to President Trump’s aides to accept anonymous donations to pay their attorney bills. But Apol said there has been no change, and he has been giving advice to outside groups that are coming forward to set up legal defense funds for Trump aides as the Russia probe intensifies that they should have their donors disclose their identities.
Trump Lawyers Clash Over How Much to Cooperate with Russia Inquiry
New York Times – Peter Baker and Kenneth Vogel | Published: 9/17/2017
President Trump’s lawyers are clashing over how much to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller. At the heart of the conflict is an issue that has challenged multiple presidents during inquiries: how to handle the demands of investigators without surrendering the institutional prerogatives of the office of the presidency. The debate in the West Wing has pitted Donald McGahn, the White House counsel, against Ty Cobb, a lawyer brought in to manage the response to the investigation. The friction escalated in recent days after Cobb was overheard by a reporter for The New York Times discussing the dispute during a lunchtime conversation at a popular Washington restaurant.
With a Picked Lock and a Threatened Indictment, Mueller’s Inquiry Sets a Tone
New York Times – Sharon LaFraniere, Matt Apuzzo, and Adam Goldman | Published: 9/18/2017
The raid on the home of Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairperson, is an example of the aggressive tactics used by special counsel Robert Mueller and his team of prosecutors in the four months since taking over the Justice Department’s investigation into Russia’s attempts to disrupt last year’s election. Dispensing with the plodding pace typical of many white-collar investigations, Mueller’s team has used what some describe as shock-and-awe tactics to intimidate witnesses and potential targets of the inquiry.
From the States and Municipalities:
California Passes Bill to Track ‘Dark Money’ in Political Ads and Campaigns
StateScoop – Jason Shueh | Published: 9/18/2017
California lawmakers passed Assembly Bill 249, which its advocates say will spotlight “dark money” fueling political advertising. If signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, the state’s swarms of online ads, mass emails, and other media will be required to reveal the names of previously hidden donors within advertisements. The bill is designed to further state transparency efforts by eliminating common campaign funding tactics that use the names of political committees and groups to camouflage corporations, wealthy individuals, and political organizations.
Why Didn’t School Board President Ref Rodriguez Just Write Himself a Big Check?
Los Angeles Times – David Zahniser, Anna Phillips, and Howard Blume | Published: 9/17/2017
Los Angeles school board president Refugio Rodriguez, who won his school board seat in 2015, legally could have poured as much of his own money as he liked into his campaign. So why would he, as prosecutors claim, have arranged for others to donate and then use his funds to illegally pay them back? That question looms large as Rodriguez faces three felony charges in what investigators call a campaign money laundering scheme. Bob Stern, co-author of the California Political Reform Act, said he could not recall another case over the past 40 years of a sitting politician being accused of illegally paying back his own contributors. In campaigns, such violations are typically committed by donors or fundraisers, he said, not the politicians themselves.
Big Bucks Flow to Colorado Lobbyist Offices Steps from The Capitol
KUNC – Sandra Fish | Published: 9/13/2017
The nearly 600 lobbyists and lobbying firms in Colorado reported earning a total of $30 million in fiscal year 2017. Nearly half of the total is concentrated among the top 20 firms and individuals. Lobbyists’ busiest time of the year are the four months of the legislative session. Income reported to the secretary of state’s office bears that out. Lobbyist Julie McKenna said the hours are long during the legislative session. The four lobbyists in her firm reported tracking more than 300 bills earlier this year.
Millions Go to Board Members of Lexington’s Farmland Conservation Program
Lexington Herald-Leader – Beth Musgrave | Published: 9/18/2017
Six current or former members of a board that oversees a Fayette County farmland preservation program have received millions of dollars from the program. In total, past and current members of the Rural Land Management Board have received $6.2 million in payments for conservation easements on their farms as part of the Fayette County Purchase of Development Rights program. Farms that are owned or partially owned by three of those former or current board members received more than $1 million each from the program. None of the members were on the board at the time the program purchased conservation easements for their respective farms. But several have rotated on and off the board for years. They received payment for their conservation easements in between stints on the board.
Council Candidate Wants to Tie Disaster Relief to Campaign Contributions
Bethesda Magazine – Andrew Metcalf | Published: 9/19/2017
A plan to direct campaign donations to charities could test Montgomery County’s new public financing law. At-large county council candidate Brandy Brooks will hold a fundraiser in which she has promising to donate half of the campaign contributions to help victims of natural disasters. The state election board’s guide for candidates notes they may use campaign funds to attend a charitable event to raise their profile and network with potential voters and donors. The guide, however, says giving campaign funds as charitable donations is not permitted primarily because donors give to a candidate to support their platform and “when campaigns are spent for a non-campaign related purpose, it frustrates the intent of the contributor.”
Snyder Approves Unlimited Super PAC Cash
Detroit News – Michael Gerstein | Published: 9/20/2017
Less than 24 hours after the state Senate moved to send two campaign finance bills that expand on the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed the legislation into law. Senate Bill 335 and Senate Bill 336 define and allow for independent expenditure committees like super PACs. Under the new law, candidates could solicit unlimited contributions to super PACs, which could then use the money to support the aspirations of the candidate. The super PACs could not coordinate directly with campaigns but they could share attorneys, consultants, and vendors with candidates they support.
Reform Laws Spurred by Treasurer Scandals Full of Loopholes
Santa Fe New Mexican – Andrew Oxford | Published: 9/16/2017
Federal investigators in 2005 accused then-state Treasurer Robert Vigil of demanding kickbacks from private financial advisers hired by the government to manage New Mexico’s investments. His predecessor, Michael Montoya, pleaded guilty to a similar extortion scheme, saying campaign debt drove him to solicit kickbacks from contractors. FBI agents quoted Montoya as saying kickbacks were merely “the way we do business in New Mexico.” Lawmakers approved reform measures that bar contractors from plying politicians with campaign donations or other gifts while vying for government business. And the changes required contractors to report donations they have made to public officials. But a decade later, those laws are full of loopholes.
How Party Bosses, Not Voters, Pick Politicians in New York
New York Times – Shane Goldmacher | Published: 9/18/2017
For decades, legislative seats in New York have traded hands in what amounts to one of the last, most powerful vestiges of Tammany Hall-style politics in the state. Election laws grant politicians and local political power brokers vast sway in picking candidates when legislators leave office in the middle of their term – whether they retire early, pass away, depart for another job, or are arrested. The rules are a crucial part of what empowers party bosses in a state that regularly outpaces the nation in corruption.
JCOPE Commissioners Again Rule Civil Liberties Group Must Disclose Donors
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 9/19/2017
The Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) decided the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) must disclose donors to its state lobbying efforts. JCOPE has ruled in the past that the NYCLU must reveal its donors, despite arguments from the group that such disclosure could potentially lead to reprisals against people who fund the organization. The NYCLU has received a number of threatening letters, but JCOPE has found there has not been a “substantial likelihood” of harm to donors whose names are listed on the agency’s website in lobbying disclosures.
Nepotism Runs Rampant in Oregon Legislature. Here’s How
Portland Oregonian – Gordon Friedman | Published: 9/16/2017
Oregon is one of the few states that allows lawmakers to hire family members; one in four legislators currently pays a family member to be on their staff. Legislators defend the practice, noting it has been something of a time-honored tradition to hire family members. Yet the practice of lawmakers hiring their family members as staff can be problematic. Lawmakers have a fiduciary duty to be good stewards of taxpayer funds, and spending state money on family members can hurt public trust in government, said Hana Callaghan, who runs the government ethics program at Santa Clara University.
State and Federal Communications produces a weekly summary of national news, offering more than 60 articles per week focused on ethics, lobbying, and campaign finance.
September 21, 2017 •
Campaign Finance “Trump Using Campaign, RNC Funds to Pay Legal Bills from Russia Probe: Sources” by Karen Freifeld and Ginger Gibson for Reuters Connecticut: “Counterattack at GOP Effort to Repeal Public Financing” by Mark Pazniokas for Connecticut Mirror Maryland: “Council […]
“Trump Using Campaign, RNC Funds to Pay Legal Bills from Russia Probe: Sources” by Karen Freifeld and Ginger Gibson for Reuters
Connecticut: “Counterattack at GOP Effort to Repeal Public Financing” by Mark Pazniokas for Connecticut Mirror
Maryland: “Council Candidate Wants to Tie Disaster Relief to Campaign Contributions” by Andrew Metcalf for Bethesda Magazine
Michigan: “Snyder Approves Unlimited Super PAC Cash” by Michael Gerstein for Detroit News
Florida: “Lacking Support, Lobbying Ordinance Gets No Hearing in Hernando” by Barbara Behrendt for Tampa Bay Times
New York: “JCOPE Commissioners Again Rule Civil Liberties Group Must Disclose Donors” by Chris Bragg for Albany Times Union
Oregon: “Portland Lawmaker Cleared of Allegation He Ranked Female Lobbyists on Looks” by Gordon Friedman for Portland Oregonian
“Mueller Seeks White House Documents Related to Trump’s Actions as President” by Michael Schmidt for New York Times
“Price’s Private-Jet Travel Breaks Precedent” by Dan Diamond and Rachana Pradhan for Politico
“For Trump Aides Caught in Russia Probe, Legal Bills and Paranoia” by Shannon Pettypiece for Bloomberg.com
Washington: “Seattle City Council Picks Tim Burgess to Replace Bruce Harrell as Temporary Mayor” by Daniel Beekman for Seattle Times
September 20, 2017 •
Lobbying Maryland: “Maryland Lobbyist Charged in Bribery Scandal Linked to Prince George’s County Liquor Board” by Scott MacFarlane for WRC Campaign Finance Canada: “Taxpayers Would Give Millions to Political Parties in NDP Plan” by Lindsay Kines and Amy Smart for […]
Maryland: “Maryland Lobbyist Charged in Bribery Scandal Linked to Prince George’s County Liquor Board” by Scott MacFarlane for WRC
Canada: “Taxpayers Would Give Millions to Political Parties in NDP Plan” by Lindsay Kines and Amy Smart for Times Colonist
California: “California Passes Bill to Track ‘Dark Money’ in Political Ads and Campaigns” by Jason Shueh for StateScoop
Kentucky: “Former Beshear Official Admits He Solicited Contributions from Fellow State Workers” by Sheldon Shafer for Louisville Courier-Journal
“With a Picked Lock and a Threatened Indictment, Mueller’s Inquiry Sets a Tone” by Sharon LaFraniere, Matt Apuzzo, and Adam Goldman for New York Times
“Exclusive: US government wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman” by Evan Perez, Shimon Prokupecz, and Pamela Brown for CNN
Florida: “FPL Says Claim That Senator Used Lobbyist to Get Power Restored Is ‘Absurd’” by Mary Ellen Klas for Miami Herald
Indiana: “Ethics Panel Forever Bans State Government Employee Who Hired Aunt, Sister, Stepdaughter” by Brian Slodysko (Associated Press) for Indianapolis Star
Kentucky: “Millions Go to Board Members of Lexington’s Farmland Conservation Program” by Beth Musgrave for Lexington Herald-Leader
Pennsylvania: “Pennsylvania Senator’s Medical Marijuana Moonlighting Role” by Steve Esack for Allentown Morning Call
“Democrats Mount Effort to Recruit Women as State Attorneys General” by Jonathan Martin for New York Times
“Facebook’s Openness on Russia Questioned by Congressional Investigators” by Carol Leonnig, Elizabeth Dwoskin, and Craig Timberg for Washington Post
September 15, 2017 •
National: How Anna Nicole Smith’s Billionaire In Laws Secretly Lobbied the Courts Bloomberg.com – Zachary Mider | Published: 9/13/2017 When the heirs of billionaire J. Howard Marshall II, famous for his May-December romance with Playboy centerfold Anna Nicole Smith, went […]
How Anna Nicole Smith’s Billionaire In Laws Secretly Lobbied the Courts
Bloomberg.com – Zachary Mider | Published: 9/13/2017
When the heirs of billionaire J. Howard Marshall II, famous for his May-December romance with Playboy centerfold Anna Nicole Smith, went to court in a $75 million tax dispute, they got help from an unlikely ally: Barber-Scotia College, the nation’s first institution of higher learning for black women. Barber-Scotia’s name, along with those of four other historically black colleges and universities, was on a friend-of-the-court brief submitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The brief was part of a campaign by the Marshall family, orchestrated by a Washington, D.C. consulting firm, to influence two of the nation’s highest courts. The campaign shows how it is possible for well-funded litigants to stack the deck by generating phony friends of the court, or by paying advocates who present themselves as independent but are really lobbyists in disguise.
On Facebook and Twitter, a Hunt for Russia’s Meddling Hand
New York Times – Scott Shane | Published: 9/7/2017
The Russian information attack on the election did not stop with the hacking and leaking of Democratic emails. Far less splashy, and far more difficult to trace, was Russia’s experimentation on Facebook and Twitter, the American companies that essentially invented the tools of social media and, in this case, did not stop them from being turned into engines of deception and propaganda. An investigation reveals some of the mechanisms by which suspected Russian operators used Twitter and Facebook to spread anti-Hillary Clinton messages and promote the hacked material they had leaked. Given the powerful role of social media in political contests, understanding the Russian efforts will be crucial in preventing or blunting similar, or more sophisticated, attacks in upcoming elections.
Russian Network RT Must Register as Foreign Agent in US
The Hill – Megan Wilson | Published: 9/12/2017
The company that runs the U.S. version of RT, the Russian state-owned outlet originally known as Russia Today, must register with the Justice Department as a foreign agent, signaling that all of their content would be labeled as propaganda from Moscow. Media organizations have been exempted from the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which is wide-ranging in its disclosure requirements and generally applies to political consultants and those working in lobbying or public relations. It would be a felony if RT is found to have willfully failed to register as a foreign agent, however.
From the States and Municipalities:
Denver City Council Approves New Rules Requiring Reports of Dark-Money Spending in Elections
Denver Post – Jon Murray | Published: 9/11/2017
The Denver City Council approved a bill that will require the reporting of at least $1,000 in independent spending by individuals, companies, or other organizations to support candidates or ballot issues. Those independent expenditures include any activity aiming to aid or hurt a candidate, including “electioneering communications” such as mailers, broadcast ads, or other advertising. The initial report to the Denver Elections Division, disclosing all expenses and donors above $25, will be required within two days after cumulative spending reaches $1,000.
Weighing Third Term, Emanuel Relies on Campaign Donors Who Get City Hall Benefits
Chicago Tribune – Jeff Coen and Bill Ruthhart | Published: 9/8/2017
As Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel ramps up his campaign fundraising toward a possible third term, he continues to rely on donors who have received City Hall benefits, ranging from contracts and zoning approvals to appointments and personal endorsements from the mayor. With the mayoral election still a year and a half away, Emanuel has collected $3.1 million in high-dollar contributions. And more than $2.1 million of it, nearly 70 percent, has come from 83 donors who have benefited from actions at City Hall.
Pro-Charter School Group Pays State’s Largest Campaign Finance Penalty
Boston Globe – Michael Levenson | Published: 9/11/2017
A group that backed last year’s charter school ballot question in Massachusetts paid $426,466 as part of a campaign finance settlement. The payment by Families for Excellent Schools-Advocacy is the largest civil forfeiture in the history of the Office of Campaign and Political Finance. Investigators say the organization violated the law by raising money from individuals and then contributing that money, more than $15 million, to the Great Schools Massachusetts Ballot Question Committee in a manner intended to disguise the source of the money. The group agreed with the IRS to dissolve itself, and Families for Excellent Schools, its umbrella group, agreed not to fundraise or engage in any election-related activity in Massachusetts for four years.
Scott County Attorney Declines Charges in Dai Thao Bribery-Solicitation Case
St. Paul Pioneer Press – Frederick Melo | Published: 9/12/2017
St. Paul City Councilperson Dai Thao will not face criminal charges over an allegation he attempted to solicit a bribe. The Scott County attorney’s office declined to prosecute the claims made against Thao and his former campaign manager, Angela Marlow. The allegations stemmed from a meeting between Thao, lobbyist Sarah Clarke, and some of Clarke’s clients. Clarke said that Thao told the group during the meeting that he needs “resources to spread his message.” She said it seemed clear he was asking for a bribe.
New Campaign Spending Rules to Take Effect
Albuquerque Journal – Dan Boyd | Published: 9/8/2017
Nonprofit advocacy organizations that spend unlimited amount of money to influence elections in New Mexico will have to disclose the names of contributors under rules adopted by state elections officials. The new requirements are set to go into effect on October 10, in time for 2018 primary and general elections, for so-called dark money groups that spend at least $2,500 on a statewide election or ballot measure. New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver said vague and confusing rules are being cleaned up and the changes will “help shine a light on the dark money that has been plaguing our state’s campaigns.”
Firm Uses Loophole to Secretly Donate $60G to de Blasio Campaign, Lobbying Records Show
New York Daily News – James Fanelli | Published: 9/9/2017
Constantinople & Vallone has a reputation as a powerful lobbying firm that gets its clients access to New York City Hall, but what is not so well known is it has helped steer $60,900 in campaign donations to Mayor Bill de Blasio. A loophole in the city’s campaign finance law has allowed the firm to stay under the radar as a fundraiser for the mayor. The only way to know Constantinople & Vallone has raised so much money for de Blasio is through obscure filings with the city clerk’s lobbying bureau.
Legislators Consolidate Power, Cash, in Partially Invisible Cycle of Giving to Each Other
Salem Statesman-Journal – Cooper Green | Published: 9/9/2017
If a candidate passes contributions to another candidate, or to a re-election fund for fellow party members, the public can no longer see the money’s original donor. These transactions are known as pass-throughs. Transactions between Oregon legislators, or between lawmakers and re-election funds, are commonplace and have been for decades. An analysis shows legislative officeholders and candidates have utilized this system of pass-throughs more than 2,800 times in the last three election cycles alone, transferring $18.7 million dollars between themselves. Based on the total amount contributed to legislators during that time, this means more than a quarter of all money involved in legislative campaigns has seen more than one lawmaker as it moves through the system.
Elect Them, Then Lobby Them: Two firms blur the worlds of policy and politics in Harrisburg
Philadelphia Inquirer – Angela Couloumbis and Liz Navratil | Published: 9/11/2017
For years, lobbying in Pennsylvania was a secretive business, and more recently attracted scrutiny from federal investigators. A decade-old law strengthened registration and reporting requirements for lobbyists and their clients, but the state still lags behind others in transparency and accountability, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Among Harrisburg’s high-powered partnerships, only two have well-established campaign arms that, for the last decade, have dominated the market on both electing and lobbying Republicans who drive public policy.
Lobbyists Courted Lawmakers with Free Food, Baseball Tickets at Conferences
The Tennessean – Joel Ebert | Published: 9/11/2017
Under state law, Tennessee lawmakers can accept gifts like dinner and sports tickets at out-of-state conferences, provided they are related to the conference itself. Lobbyists can even pay for events labeled “state night” for lawmakers. And little disclosure is required, unlike the rules in place for how lobbyists interact with lawmakers at the Capitol. The practice at out-of-state conferences is increasingly widespread, including at conferences this year in Boston and Denver, according to interviews with lobbyists, lawmakers, and legislative staff.
Virginia Lawmakers Attend Fewest Lobbyist-Paid Entertainment Events Since McDonnell Case
The Virginian-Pilot – Will Houp | Published: 9/7/2017
Virginia lawmakers continue to shrink away from meals, galas, and other entertainment occasions paid for by lobbyists as they attended less than half such events in 2016 and 2017 as they did three years ago. Data from the Virginia Conflict of Interest and Ethics Advisory Council shows a stark difference in what delegates and senators felt comfortable accepting before and after the corruption charges against former Gov. Bob McDonnell. At the same time, several law changes related to lobbyist entertainment have muddied the water in terms of comparing year to year.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray Resigns After Fifth Child Sex-Abuse Allegation
Seattle Times – Jim Brunner, Daniel Beekman, and Lewis Kamb | Published: 9/12/2017
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, beset over the past five months by sex abuse allegations, resigned his office. His announcement came after The Seattle Times reported that a fifth man, one of his cousins, had accused Murray of molesting him decades ago. Though he has denied all the accusations against him, Murray had already decided not to seek re-election. City Council President Bruce Harrell will temporarily serve as mayor and will decide within five days whether to take on the role of acting mayor past the November 7 election. If he demurs, the council will pick another of its members to serve until the election results are certified.
State and Federal Communications produces a weekly summary of national news, offering more than 60 articles per week focused on ethics, lobbying, and campaign finance.
September 14, 2017 •
Lobbying “How Anna Nicole Smith’s Billionaire In Laws Secretly Lobbied the Courts” by Zachary Mider for Bloomberg.com “Russian Network RT Must Register as Foreign Agent in US” by Megan Wilson for The Hill Campaign Finance “Trump FEC Pick’s Twitter Goes […]
“How Anna Nicole Smith’s Billionaire In Laws Secretly Lobbied the Courts” by Zachary Mider for Bloomberg.com
“Russian Network RT Must Register as Foreign Agent in US” by Megan Wilson for The Hill
“Trump FEC Pick’s Twitter Goes Dark After Users Spot Anti-Protestant Links” by Tierny Sneed for TPM
New York: “Loophole Allows Public Officials to Shield Legal Expenses” by Chris Bragg for Albany Times Union
Michigan: “Engineer Pleads Guilty to Bribery in Macomb County Public Corruption Probe” by Tresa Baldas for Detroit Free Press
Minnesota: “Scott County Attorney Declines Charges in Dai Thao Bribery-Solicitation Case” by Frederick Melo for St. Paul Pioneer Press
Mississippi: “Court: Governments can’t evade open meetings in small groups” by Jeff Amy (Associated Press) for Biloxi Sun Herald
Washington: “Seattle Mayor Ed Murray Resigns After Fifth Child Sex-Abuse Allegation” by Jim Brunner, Daniel Beekman, and Lewis Kamb for Seattle Times
Texas: “Supreme Court Puts Redrawing of Texas Political Maps on Hold” by Alexa Ura and Jim Malewitz for Texas Tribune
September 13, 2017 •
Lobbying California: “California May Slow Revolving Door of Legislators Becoming Lobbyists” by Patrick McGreevy for Los Angeles Times Tennessee: “Lobbyists Courted Lawmakers with Free Food, Baseball Tickets at Conferences” by Joel Ebert for The Tennessean Campaign Finance Colorado: “Denver City […]
California: “California May Slow Revolving Door of Legislators Becoming Lobbyists” by Patrick McGreevy for Los Angeles Times
Tennessee: “Lobbyists Courted Lawmakers with Free Food, Baseball Tickets at Conferences” by Joel Ebert for The Tennessean
Colorado: “Denver City Council Approves New Rules Requiring Reports of Dark-Money Spending in Elections” by Jon Murray for Denver Post
Massachusetts: “Pro-Charter School Group Pays State’s Largest Campaign Finance Penalty” by Michael Levenson for Boston Globe
“Trump Promised Not to Work with Foreign Entities. His Company Just Did” by Anita Kumar for McClatchy DC
“Interior Faulted for Subsidy to Firm Once Tied to David Bernhardt, Now the Deputy Secretary” by Juliet Eilperin and Jack Gillum for Washington Post
“Guam Delegate May Have Violated Emoluments Clause with Lease, Ethics Office Says” by Elise Viebeck for Washington Post
“Trump’s Legal Team Debated Whether Kushner Should Leave White House” by Carol Leonnig for Washington Post
State and Federal Communications, Inc. provides research and consulting services for government relations professionals on lobbying laws, procurement lobbying laws, political contribution laws in the United States and Canada. Learn more by visiting stateandfed.com.