September 12, 2017 •
Lobbying Pennsylvania: “Elect Them, Then Lobby Them: Two firms blur the worlds of policy and politics in Harrisburg” by Angela Couloumbis and Liz Navratil for Philadelphia Inquirer Campaign Finance “Will Donald Trump Let the Federal Election Commission Rot?” by Dave […]
Pennsylvania: “Elect Them, Then Lobby Them: Two firms blur the worlds of policy and politics in Harrisburg” by Angela Couloumbis and Liz Navratil for Philadelphia Inquirer
“Will Donald Trump Let the Federal Election Commission Rot?” by Dave Levinthal for Center for Public Integrity
Arizona: “Commissioner Bob Burns Can’t Force Political Funding Disclosure, Utility Argues” by Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services) for Arizona Daily Star
Illinois: “Weighing Third Term, Emanuel Relies on Campaign Donors Who Get City Hall Benefits” by Jeff Coen and Bill Ruthhart for Chicago Tribune
Maine: “Network of Companies with Ties to York County Casino Bid Stretches Far and Wide” by Scott Thistle for Portland Press Herald
New Jersey: “Court Revives Campaign Complaint Against Essex County Executive” by Nicholas Pugliese for Bergen Record
Oregon: “Legislators Consolidate Power, Cash, in Partially Invisible Cycle of Giving to Each Other” by Cooper Green for Salem Statesman-Journal
New York: “Monserrate, Ex-Senator and Ex-Convict, Seeks Votes Amid Disdain” by J. David Goodman for New York Times
September 11, 2017 •
Campaign Finance New Mexico: New Campaign Spending Rules to Take Effect by Dan Boyd for Albuquerque Journal New York: Firm Uses Loophole to Secretly Donate $60G to de Blasio Campaign, Lobbying Records Show by James Fanelli for New York Daily […]
New Mexico: New Campaign Spending Rules to Take Effect by Dan Boyd for Albuquerque Journal
New York: Firm Uses Loophole to Secretly Donate $60G to de Blasio Campaign, Lobbying Records Show by James Fanelli for New York Daily News
Mueller Gives White House Names of 6 Aides He Expects to Question in Russia Probe by Carol Leonnig, Rosalind Helderman, and Ashley Parker for Washington Post
Kentucky: Legislative Sex Harassment Case Spurs Call for Change in Kentucky’s Ethics Law by Jack Brammer for Lexington Herald-Leader
On Facebook and Twitter, a Hunt for Russia’s Meddling Hand by Scott Shane for New York Times
In Free-Range Trump, Many See Potential for a Third Party by Jeremy Peters for New York Times
Canada: Quebec’s Lobbyist Registry Best in Canada, Though All Struggle in Key Transparency Metrics: Study by Marco Vigliotti for The Hill Times
Virginia: Virginia Lawmakers Attend Fewest Lobbyist-Paid Entertainment Events Since McDonnell Case by Will Houp for Virginian-Pilot
Illinois: Aldermen Take Another Stab at Relaxing Ethics Rules for Contractors by Fran Spielman for Chicago Sun-Times
September 8, 2017 •
National: Software Glitch or Russian Hackers? Election Problems Draw Little Scrutiny New York Times – Nicole Pearlroth, Michael Wines, and Matthew Rosenberg | Published: 9/1/2017 After a presidential campaign scarred by Russian meddling, local, state, and federal agencies have conducted […]
Software Glitch or Russian Hackers? Election Problems Draw Little Scrutiny
New York Times – Nicole Pearlroth, Michael Wines, and Matthew Rosenberg | Published: 9/1/2017
After a presidential campaign scarred by Russian meddling, local, state, and federal agencies have conducted little of the type of digital forensic investigation required to assess the impact, if any, on voting in at least 21 states whose election systems were targeted by Russian hackers. The assaults on the vast back-end election apparatus – voter-registration operations, state and local election databases, e-poll books, and other equipment – have received far less attention than other aspects of the Russian interference, such as the hacking of Democratic emails and spreading of false or damaging information about Hillary Clinton. Yet the hacking of electoral systems was more extensive than previously disclosed.
Statehouses, Not Congress, Hosting Biggest Political Money Fights
Center for Public Integrity – Ashley Balcerzak | Published: 8/31/2017
Lawmakers in at least 18 states have introduced legislation this year to change the amount of money people can give to politicians. Half of the bills aim to increase contribution limits in attempts to keep pace with the rising number of outside forces that can spend unlimited amounts of cash. The other half try to decrease the limits to blunt the amount of money in politics. Meanwhile, national coalitions have swarmed statehouses and city halls. They are targeting disclosure laws, pay-to-play and lobbying rules, and the role corporations, unions, and nonprofits may play in elections, in addition to fundraising limits.
A Two-Decade Crusade by Conservative Charities Fueled Trump’s Exit from Paris Climate Accord
Washington Post – Robert O’Harrow Jr. | Published: 9/5/2017
The story behind the Cooler Heads Coalition – an umbrella group in the vanguard of efforts to cast doubt on the gravity of climate change and thwart government efforts to address it – illuminates the influential, little-known role that tax-exempt public charities play in modern campaigns to sway lawmakers and shape policy while claiming to be nonpartisan educational organizations. It also offers insight into the forces behind a decision by President Trump that infuriated scientists and environmentalists, mystified U.S. allies, and went against the advice of some major corporations.
Democrats Say ‘Citizens United’ Should Die. Here’s Why That Won’t Happen.
Center for Public Integrity – Sarah Kleiner | Published: 8/31/2017
Seizing on the specter of Russian election influence, Democrats have ramped up their quixotic effort to blunt Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which unleashed a torrent of special interest spending on U.S. elections. They have introduced two dozen bills related to money in politics. Some are aimed at increasing donor transparency, others are targeting massive contributions from special interests. A couple are intent on reforming the FEC. None have had a single formal hearing, much less an up-or-down vote in either the House or Senate.
Trump Gets Millions from Golf Members. CEOs and Lobbyists Get Access to President
USA Today – Brad Heath, Fredreka Schouten, Steve Reilly, Nick Pezenstadler, and Aamer Madhani | Published: 9/6/2017
Members of clubs that Donald Trump owns and has visited most often as president include at least 50 executives whose companies hold federal contracts and 21 lobbyists and trade group officials. Two-thirds played on one of the 58 days Trump was there. A USA Today shows that for the first time in U.S. history, wealthy people with interests before the government have a chance for close and confidential access to the president as a result of payments that enrich him personally. The arrangement is legal, and members said they did not use the clubs to discuss government business. Nonetheless, ethics experts questioned whether it is appropriate for a sitting president to collect money from lobbyists and others who spend their days trying to shape federal policy or win government business.
From the States and Municipalities:
SF’s Political Watchdog Agency Proposes Sweeping Reforms, Nonprofits Cry Foul
San Francisco Examiner – Joshua Sabitini | Published: 9/4/2017
The San Francisco Ethics Commission is taking on the notorious “pay-to-play” culture at City Hall with proposed sweeping reforms. But some of the provisions have drawn the ire of nonprofits that warn it will deal a significant blow to their fundraising. One provision being discussed in the reform package would prohibit city commissioners from helping to raise money for candidates. Many nonprofit leaders blasted a portion of the sweeping reforms that would restrict so-called behested payments, which are contributions made to groups or causes at the request of elected officials.
Denver Proposal Aims to Force Disclosure of Independent Spending in Elections as ‘Dark Money’ Trickles Down
Denver Post – Jon Murray | Published: 9/4/2017
A Denver City Council proposal seeks to close transparency gaps that allow “dark money” to go unreported as long as the people behind it do not coordinate directly with a candidate’s campaign. The proposal would adopt the state definitions of “independent expenditure” and “electioneering communication.” The individual, company, or other group behind the independent spending would have to file public reports within two days after more than $1,000 is spent, including disclosing anyone who gives more than $25 to the effort. They also would have to make clear on any mailers, broadcast ads, or other advertising who paid for them and the independence from the candidate’s or issue’s official campaign. The proposal also would modify the city’s campaign finance ordinance in other ways.
Facing Minor Fine, Hogan Campaign Lawyer Threatens Attorney General Frosh
Washington Post – Fenit Nirappil | Published: 8/31/2017
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s re-election campaign could be hit with a $250 fine for a minor violation of state election law, an inconvenience that has erupted into a partisan brawl. Hogan’s campaign attorney, Dirk Haire, who also chairs the Maryland Republican Party, will ask the state prosecutor’s office to launch an official misconduct investigation if state Attorney General Brian Frosh does not act to block the fine, which was proposed by staffers at the Board of Elections in response to a complaint from Maryland Democratic Party Chairperson Kathleen Matthews. Haire is also threatening to file a complaint alleging Frosh’s campaign illegally charged children for ice cream at a fundraiser.
Councilwoman Repays Lobbyist, Concerned over Gifting
St. Joseph News-Press – Brendan Welch | Published: 9/6/2017
St. Joseph City Council Member Joyce Starr presented a check to a local lobbyist during a council meeting to avoid taking what she considered to be an unethical gift. Starr said council members often go out in a group after meetings to HiHo Bar and Grill, and Kenneth Reeder, a local political activist and lobbyist, is usually in attendance. She said after the August 11 council meeting, she discovered Reeder was being repaid for purchasing them dinner and drinks, and was not comfortable with it. Starr said the check was only for four dollars, “but it’s just the principle of the thing.”
Rep. Jim Merrill Pleads Guilty to Misconduct, Agrees to Assist Investigators in Statehouse Corruption Probe
Charleston Post and Courier – Glenn Smith and Andrew Brown | Published: 9/1/2017
South Carolina Rep. Jim Merrill pleaded guilty to using his office for personal profit, resigned his seat in the Legislature, and was sentenced to one year of probation. The plea agreement requires him to cooperate with state investigators and the FBI as they continue to probe corruption at the statehouse. Merrill was accused of using his office and his consulting firm to garner more than $1 million from trade groups and companies at a time when he was both a lawmaker and a consultant. He failed to report money he received from companies and groups that lobby legislators, did not file reports of campaign-related spending from the House Republican Caucus, and overcharged for his work.
Court: Texas Can Enforce New Voter ID Law in November
Governing – Allie Morris | Published: 9/6/2017
A federal appeals court panel ruled Texas can use its revised voter ID measure for the upcoming November elections, the latest in a series of winding legal battles on whether the state has intentionally discriminated against black and Latino voters through its original law passed in 2011 In August, U.S. District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos threw out Senate Bill 5, which the state Legislature passed earlier this year and in some ways softened the previous requirements that Texans present one of seven forms of photo ID at the polls in order to cast a ballot. Ramos said the state’s new voter ID law failed to fix the intentional discrimination against minority voters found in a 2011 law. The stay suspends that order until the appeals court can hear the merits for and against the state’s appeal.
Fred Lewis Appointment Stirs Controversy
Austin Monitor – Jo Clifton | Published: 9/1/2017
Fred Lewis, an attorney who served as the main architect of Austin’s new lobbying ordinance, surprisingly became the center of a controversy when the city council appointed him to serve on the Charter Review Commission. Lewis worked for many months on an ordinance specifically aimed at preventing lobbyists from serving on city commissions.
Charge Dropped Against Reporter Who Questioned Tom Price
New York Times – Matt Stevens | Published: 9/6/2017
West Virginia prosecutors dropped charges against a reporter who was arrested after peppering U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price with healthcare policy questions while following him down a hallway at the Capitol. Prosecutors said the reporter, Dan Heyman, broke no laws. Heyman was arrested and jailed for willful disruption of state government processes. The arrest drew condemnation from civil rights and journalists’ rights groups, who said Heyman was merely performing his constitutionally protected duties.
Report: New Ethics Commission has conducted just 1 investigation, says compliance is up
Wisconsin State Journal – Mark Sommerhauser | Published: 9/3/2017
A new report shows Wisconsin’s Ethics Commission investigated just one alleged violation in its first year of operation. That is a far less active pace than its predecessor, the Government Accountability Board (GAB). Republican lawmakers and Gov. Scott Walker created the Ethics Commission, saying the GAB was too partisan. Much of the new commission’s workings are shrouded by law. Hidden from public view are complaints alleging violations of ethics, campaign finance, or lobbying laws, as well as deliberations by the commission on whether to investigate complaints.
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 7, 2017 •
Lobbying “A Two-Decade Crusade by Conservative Charities Fueled Trump’s Exit from Paris Climate Accord” by Robert O’Harrow Jr. for Washington Post Florida: “Hernando Commission to Debate Ordinance Requiring Lobbyists to Register” by Barbara Behrendt for Tampa Bay Times Campaign Finance […]
“A Two-Decade Crusade by Conservative Charities Fueled Trump’s Exit from Paris Climate Accord” by Robert O’Harrow Jr. for Washington Post
Florida: “Hernando Commission to Debate Ordinance Requiring Lobbyists to Register” by Barbara Behrendt for Tampa Bay Times
“Facebook Says It Sold Political Ads to Russian Company During 2016 Election” by Carol Leonnig, Tom Hamburger, and Rosalind Helderman for Washington Post
Montana: “Gov. Bullock Settles Campaign Violation Over State Airplane for $3,000” by Tom Lutey for Billings Gazette
New Mexico: “New Mexico Candidate Seeks Court Injunction to Access Cash” by Morgan Lee (Associated Press) for U.S. News & World Report
“Trump Gets Millions from Golf Members. CEOs and Lobbyists Get Access to President” by Brad Heath, Fredreka Schouten, Steve Reilly, Nick Pezenstadler, and Aamer Madhani for USA Today
California: “Prosecution Freezes Assets of Fired Centinela Superintendent Facing Embezzlement Charges” by Larry Altman for Los Angeles Daily Breeze
Connecticut: “Ex-Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez Pleads Guilty to Bribe Receiving, Attempted Larceny; Spared Prison” by David Owens and Jenna Carlesso for Hartford Courant
Florida: “Prosecutors Had 5 Years to Charge ex-U.S. Rep. David Rivera. Now Time Has Run Out.” by Patricia Mazzei for Miami Herald
Georgia: “Reed to Ethics Board: ‘I don’t have an ax to grind’” by Nicole Carr for WSB
“Software Glitch or Russian Hackers? Election Problems Draw Little Scrutiny” by Nicole Pearlroth, Michael Wines, and Matthew Rosenberg for New York Times
Texas: “Court: Texas Can Enforce New Voter ID Law in November” by Allie Morris for Governing
September 6, 2017 •
Lobbying Delaware: “Politics of Persuasion: Dozens of lobbyists now work the legislature for more than 200 groups” by Matt Bittle for Delaware State News Texas: “Fred Lewis Appointment Stirs Controversy” by Jo Clifton for Austin Monitor Campaign Finance “Democrats Say […]
Delaware: “Politics of Persuasion: Dozens of lobbyists now work the legislature for more than 200 groups” by Matt Bittle for Delaware State News
Texas: “Fred Lewis Appointment Stirs Controversy” by Jo Clifton for Austin Monitor
“Democrats Say ‘Citizens United’ Should Die. Here’s Why That Won’t Happen.” by Sarah Kleiner for Center for Public Integrity
California: “SF’s Political Watchdog Agency Proposes Sweeping Reforms, Nonprofits Cry Foul” by Joshua Sabitini for San Francisco Examiner
Colorado: “Denver Proposal Aims to Force Disclosure of Independent Spending in Elections as ‘Dark Money’ Trickles Down” by Jon Murray for Denver Post
Maine: “Pressed to Reveal Funding Sources, Miami Real Estate Developer Withdraws from York County Casino Campaign” by Scott Thistle for Portland Press Herald
“Mueller Examining Trump’s Draft Letter Firing FBI Director Comey” by Rosalind Helderman, Carol Leonnig, and Ashley Parker for Washington Post
“Menendez Trial Set to Begin with Tensions High and Washington Watching” by Nick Corasaniti for New York Times
Hawaii: “OHA’s Peter Apo To Pay $25,000 For Ethics Violations” by Nick Grube for Honolulu Civil Beat
Wisconsin: “Report: New Ethics Commission has conducted just 1 investigation, says compliance is up” by Mark Sommerhauser for Wisconsin State Journal
New Mexico: “New Mexico Sues Chiefs Owner Clark Hunt, Alleging Kickbacks in $300 Million Investment” by Robert Cronkelton and Ian Cummings for Kansas City Star
September 5, 2017 •
Lobbying Maine: “State Workers Drop Mandatory Union Fees in Favor of More Pay” by Scott Thistle for Portland Press Herald Campaign Finance “Statehouses, Not Congress, Hosting Biggest Political Money Fights” by Ashley Balcerzak for Center for Public Integrity California: “‘Campaign […]
Maine: “State Workers Drop Mandatory Union Fees in Favor of More Pay” by Scott Thistle for Portland Press Herald
“Statehouses, Not Congress, Hosting Biggest Political Money Fights” by Ashley Balcerzak for Center for Public Integrity
California: “‘Campaign Guru’ Gets Prison in Azano San Diego Mayoral Election-Funding Scheme” by Kristina Davis for San Diego Union-Tribune
Maryland: “Facing Minor Fine, Hogan Campaign Lawyer Threatens Attorney General Frosh” by Fenit Nirappil for Washington Post
“Manafort Notes from Russian Meet Refer to Political Contributions” by Ken Dilanian and Carol Lee for NBC News
“Treasury Inspector General to Review Mnuchin’s Flight to Fort Knox” by Drew Harwell for Washington Post
Arizona: “Arizona Utility Regulators Consider Adopting Ethics Policy in Wake of Controversies” by Ryan Randazzo for Arizona Republic
Pennsylvania: “Ex-Township Supervisor Agrees to Pay $327 Monthly on $105,000 Ethics Commission’s Sanction” by John Beauge for PennLive.com
South Carolia: “Rep. Jim Merrill Pleads Guilty to Misconduct, Agrees to Assist Investigators in Statehouse Corruption Probe” by Glenn Smith and Andrew Brown for Charleston Post and Courier
September 1, 2017 •
National: Campaign Regulation Foes Targeting State-Level Restrictions Center for Public Integrity – Ashley Balcerzak | Published: 8/31/2017 Having won significant battles at the federal level over campaign finance laws, political groups and libertarian nonprofits are now targeting state-level rules in […]
Campaign Regulation Foes Targeting State-Level Restrictions
Center for Public Integrity – Ashley Balcerzak | Published: 8/31/2017
Having won significant battles at the federal level over campaign finance laws, political groups and libertarian nonprofits are now targeting state-level rules in district and appellate courts across the country. The effects could be wide-ranging. The most notable battles deal with when groups need to disclose their donors, and whether contribution limits trample on donors’ freedoms of speech and expression.
The New Front in the Gerrymandering Wars: Democracy vs. math
New York Times – Emily Bazelon | Published: 8/29/2017
Wisconsin Republicans tried hard to keep their legislative mapmaking process a secret, but they were not successful. In the first of two lawsuits brought by Democratic voters, three federal judges berated GOP leaders in 2012 for ‘‘flailing wildly in a desperate attempt to hide’’ their methods to assure Republican control of the state Legislature. A court ordered Republicans to turn over three computers. In 2016, a computer expert hired by the plaintiffs found spreadsheets that used a powerful new gerrymandering tool, based on sophisticated computer modeling.
How to Get Rich in Trump’s Washington
New York Times – Nicholas Confessore | Published: 8/30/2017
Interests that have spent millions of dollars lobbying in Washington, D.C. were surprised by Donald Trump’s victory last November. By the end of his first 100 days in office, it seemed, Trump had not so much “drained the swamp” as enshrouded it in a fog of uncertainty. No previous president had changed his mind more often, or contradicted his cabinet so frequently, or permitted such ideological combat in the White House. Big corporations and trade associations did not quite know what to expect. But mostly, they did not know whom to contact. All of this inadvertently created an entirely new business model for Trump’s friends and former employees.
Members of Congress Scoring Personal Loans from Political Supporters
Center for Public Integrity – Nicholas Jahr and Ellen McCreary Ionas | Published: 8/29/2017
A review of financial disclosure forms filed by current members of the U.S. House and Senate reveals at least 19 have accepted loans from organizations or wealthy individuals instead of a bank or traditional financial institution. Often, these organizations and individuals rank among the lawmakers’ key political supporters. In two of these cases, the loans were made to members’ spouses. The loans range in value from $15,000 to $5 million. There is nothing illegal about such loans, even when the lender is also a campaign donor. But watchdog groups say such arrangements raise concerns about possible conflicts-of-interest.
Washington Lobbying Firms Receive Subpoenas as Part of Russia Probe
Washington Post – Carol Leonnig and Tom Hamburger | Published: 8/25/2017
Special counsel Robert Mueller issued grand jury subpoenas asking public relations and lobbying firms to provide records regarding their interactions with the consulting firms led by Michael Flynn, a former national security adviser to President Trump, and Paul Manafort, former chairperson of the Trump presidential campaign. The requests suggest Mueller’s investigators are looking closely at Manafort and Flynn, both of whom face possible legal jeopardy for allegedly failing to disclose foreign governments or parties may have been the beneficiaries of their consulting and lobbying work, as they seek potential links between Trump’s campaign and Russia.
From the States and Municipalities:
3 of 4 Colonies Corruption Defendants Found Not Guilty on All Charges
San Bernardino Sun – Joe Nelson and Richard Deatley | Published: 8/28/2017
Developer Jeff Burum and two former San Bernardino County officials – former Supervisor Paul Biane, and Mark Kirk, former chief of staff for then-county Supervisor Gary Ovit – were found not guilty of bribery, conflict-of-interest, and improper influence in an alleged scheme to get county approval of a $102 million court settlement in favor of a developer. Prosecutors alleged Burum paid $400,000 in political contributions to the defendants and former Board of Supervisors Chairperson Bill Postmus, who later entered a plea bargain with prosecutors and testified at the trial. The money, investigators alleged, were actually bribes or payments for delivering the settlement.
FBI Arranged Outings for Gillum, Others During NYC Trip
Tallahassee Democrat – Jeff Burlew | Published: 8/25/2017
The FBI may have tried to entice Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum through one of his close friends to see a Broadway show, catch a Major League Baseball game, and stay at a New York City hotel as part of its investigation into alleged public corruption in Tallahassee. Gillum, who had room reservations elsewhere, will not say if he stayed at or visited the Millennium Hotel in Manhattan, where an FBI agent posing as a developer had arranged rooms for him and others. He also will not say if he attended “Hamilton” or went to the New York Mets game. Public officials such as Gillum are required to report gifts valued over $100, though there are exceptions.
White Lawmaker Warns Black Attorney She May ‘Go Missing’ If Confederate Statues Are Threatened
Washington Post – Cleve Wootson Jr. | Published: 8/30/2017
Georgia Rep. Jason Spencer said a former Democratic lawmaker might “go missing” if she continues to criticize Confederate statues. Spencer originally posted a photo with a memorial for Confederate President Jefferson Davis, saying the statue was Georgia’s history and used the hashtag #DealWithIt in a Facebook post. That prompted a response from former state Rep. LaDawn Jones, who told Spencer to “put your hoods and your tiki torches away. We are no longer afraid.” Spencer then said those who criticize the state’s Confederate history “will go missing in the Okefenokee” because people in South Georgia “will not put up with it like they do in Atlanta.”
Lawmakers: Idaho ‘uniquely poised’ to stiffen campaign, lobbying disclosure requirements
Spokane Spoesman-Review – Betsy Russell | Published: 8/28/2017
Idaho lawmakers are mulling several key changes to the state’s campaign finance and lobbying laws. A bipartisan working group met for a second time to hear possible recommendations from the state’s top lobbyists and Secretary of State Lawerence Denney. The goal is to have the panel submit suggestions to before the 2018 legislative session begins in January. Some of the proposals would place new reporting requirements on PACs, and require lobbyists to report their expenditures year-round, rather than just during the legislative session.
Special Interest Groups Spend Big at Iowa Capitol
Des Moines Register – Brianne Pfannenstiel | Published: 8/24/2017
A Des Moines Register analysis showed special interest groups in Iowa paid lobbyists about $20.4 million last year in an effort to sway policy on issues ranging from Medicaid to workers’ compensation to legalized fireworks. The data provide a broad look at who is vying for influence at the Capitol during a year in which Republicans took control of the House, Senate, and governor’s office for the first time in nearly 20 years. With the new power dynamic, many groups may choose to “lobby up,” either to capitalize on their new opportunity or to fight perceived threats, said lobbyist Jim Carney.
Ethics Group Wants to Know What Led Mnuchin to View Eclipse in Kentucky
Washington Post – Drew Harwell and Beth Reinhard | Published: 8/24/2017
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington is seeking records detailing the cost of Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s recent trip to Kentucky in a government plane, saying it “seems to have been planned around the solar eclipse.” Mnuchin and his wife, Louise Linton, watched the eclipse from the lawn of Fort Knox in Kentucky, which was just outside the path of totality. It was Linton’s sharing of the expensive designer labels of her outfit as she stepped off the plane in Kentucky in an Instagram post and her subsequent rant against a commenter who criticized it that first raised eyebrows.
In Massachusetts, Lobbyists Outnumber Lawmakers Seven-to-One
WWLP – Steve LeBlanc (Associated Press) | Published: 8/27/2017
There are now more than seven lobbyists for each of the 200 state lawmakers in Massachusetts. From 2006 to 2016, the number of active lobbyists jumped by about 1,000. A big part of the increase is due to a law that took effect in 2009 aimed at sharpening the definition of a lobbyist. Before the new law, an individual was not considered to be a lobbyist if he or she spent less than 50 hours lobbying, or received less than $5,000 in lobbying fees, during each six-month reporting period. The new law tightened that to 25 hours, or $2,500.
Attorney: Michigan super PACs face ‘firestorm’ of fines
Detroit News – Jonathan Oosting | Published: 8/28/2017
Attorney Bob LaBrant asked Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s office to clarify state rules governing super PAC contributions in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2012 that opened the doors for unlimited but independent political spending as a form of free speech. Michigan has not updated its campaign finance laws to reflect the decision, and LaBrant argues a little-known state Bureau of Elections action in 2014 could lay the groundwork for a “firestorm” of complaints and fines that would cut across business, labor, conservative, and liberal donors.
Discounted Sale of US Interior Secretary’s Motor Home Raises Questions
ABC News – Bobcaina Calvin (Associated Press) | Published: 8/28/2017
U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s dormant congressional campaign committee recently sold a 2004 motor home at a steep discount to Montana Sen. Ed Buttrey. But a seemingly ordinary transaction between friends, when seen through the optics of stringent campaign finance laws, can raise a bevy of questions. After learning about the transaction, watchdogs are raising a $25,000 question: Why would Zinke’s campaign committee sell the Kountry Star Freightliner for half the price of its apparent $50,000 market value? The FEC prohibits political committees to sell assets, including campaign vehicles, below fair market value.
Is Olympia Lawyer the Democrats’ Champion in Complaint-Filing War?
Tacoma News Tribune – Melissa Santos | Published: 8/27/2017
A conservative activist has been taking aim at Democrats and liberal groups for the past year, filing at least 120 complaints saying they have broken Washington state’s campaign finance laws. Now, someone is turning the tables, saying conservative Glen Morgan and a group he leads have committed some of the same financial reporting violations. Walter Smith, an Olympia attorney, said he is concerned that the state’s campaign finance laws are being enforced unevenly due to the volume of complaints Morgan has filed against Democratic candidates in recent months.
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.
June 30, 2017 •
Federal: Former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort Files as Foreign Agent for Ukraine Work Washington Post – Tom Hamburger and Rosalind Helderman | Published: 6/27/2017 Paul Manafort, who was forced out as President Trump’s campaign chairperson last summer after infighting […]
Former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort Files as Foreign Agent for Ukraine Work
Washington Post – Tom Hamburger and Rosalind Helderman | Published: 6/27/2017
Paul Manafort, who was forced out as President Trump’s campaign chairperson last summer after infighting and criticism about his business dealings with pro-Russian interests, disclosed his consulting firm had received more than $17 million over two years from a Ukrainian political party with links to the Kremlin. The filing serves as a retroactive admission that Manafort performed work in the U.S. on behalf of a foreign power, Ukraine’s Party of Regions, without disclosing it at the time, as required by law. The disclosure hints at the vast fortunes available to top American political consultants plying their trade in other countries.
Jack Abramoff Registers as a Foreign Agent
The Hill – Megan Wilson | Published: 6/23/2017
Jack Abramoff is a registered lobbyist again. Abramoff retroactively registered after he attempted to set up a meeting between then-President-elect Donald Trump and the president of the Republic of Congo. The Foreign Agents Registration Act requires people to register with the Justice Department if they do any consulting, lobbying, or public relations work for a foreign government. They must register within 10 days of agreeing to act as a foreign agent and provide updates every six months. The scandal surrounding Abramoff led to the overhaul of federal lobbying laws in 2007 and 20 convictions or guilty pleas, including from former U.S. Rep. Bob Ney.
Lawmakers Want Trump’s Tax Returns, but Won’t Release Their Own
Roll Call – Stephanie Akin | Published: 6/26/2017
Roll Call sent a request to all U.S. senators and representatives to release their tax returns. Only 37 responded, and of those, six provided the documents. Roll Call also reviewed public documents and media reports to determine lawmakers’ positions on the release of President Trump’s tax returns. At least 237 lawmakers have called on the president to produce his returns. The reluctance among members of Congress to release their own returns prevents voters from learning more about members’ personal financial decisions that could affect how they vote.
President Trump Angrily Lashes Out at ‘Morning Joe’ Hosts on Twitter
Washington Post – Jenna Johnson | Published: 6/29/2017
President Trump faced a swift and bipartisan backlash after he assailed the television host Mika Brzezinski in unusually personal and vulgar terms, the latest of a string of escalating attacks by the president on the national news media. Trump has fumed for weeks about his coverage on “Morning Joe,” where Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough have been increasingly blistering in their commentary about the Trump administration. They have openly questioned Trump’s mental state, comments that particularly upset the president, according to a senior administration official.
From the States and Municipalities:
Arkansas – Arkansas Panel Advises Limit to Pot Lobbyists’ Pay
Arkansas Online – Brian Fanney | Published: 6/24/2017
An applicant for a license to operate a medical-marijuana facility cannot hire a lobbyist on a contingency basis, the Arkansas Ethics Commission said in an advisory opinion. Attorney Brandon Lacy represents a business that wants licenses from the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission to grow or sell medical marijuana. He asked two questions: Can a lobbyist agree to be compensated with a percentage of a medical marijuana business’s revenue if it successfully gains a license? Can a lobbyist be compensated with ownership in the business regardless of whether it is licensed?
Connecticut – Ethics Commissioner Charged in Prostitute Mixup
Connecticut Post – Daniel Tepfer | Published: 6/27/2017
An ethics commissioner in Connecticut has been charged with patronizing a prostitute after he was pepper-sprayed during what police say was a mix-up with the wrong woman. Police said Noel Kayo, an ethics commissioner in Bridgeport, had arranged to meet a woman at a hotel in Stratford. Police say another woman was waiting at the hotel at the same time for payment for photographs for which she previously posed. Police say the woman got into Kayo’s car, demanding her money while he argued for his services. The woman and her boyfriend both used pepper spray on Kayo, who denies the prostitution charge, saying he was a victim of attempted robbery. He said he will not resign.
District of Columbia – ‘It’s the End of Small Talk in Washington’
Politico Magazine – Daniel Lippman and John Harris | Published: 6/30/2017
If Donald Trump’s arrival in the White House has torn at the social fabric across the country, it has interrupted the rhythms and culture of daily life nowhere as much as the city where he now lives. Like many politicians, he ran against Washington, but far more than any president in memory, that outsider rhetoric has translated into outsider governance, a disdain for the capital that seems to translate into genuine disconnection from its existing networks. For Trump’s supporters, this amounts to a promise kept, a disruption of America’s permanent governing class. But it also risks impeding his agenda by cutting him off from some of the levers that can help a new president govern, or at least navigate the unwritten rules and networks of the capital to get things done.
Florida – Using Ethics Loophole, Sen. Lauren Book Votes to Give Her Nonprofit $1.5 Million
FloridaBulldog.org – Francisco Alvarado | Published: 6/22/2017
Florida Sen. Lauren Book voted to approve a state appropriations bill that included $1.5 million for Lauren’s Kids, the nonprofit she founded and leads as its $135,000-a-year chief executive officer. A loophole in the Florida Senate’s ethics rules allowed Book to cast her vote despite her apparent conflict-of-interest. The same loophole also meant she did not have to disclose her conflict publicly. Lauren’s Kids, whose chairperson is prominent lobbyist Ron Book, the senator’s father, has in a just few years become one of the Legislature’s most favored private charities. Since 2012, Lauren’s Kids has bagged more than $10 million in taxpayer-funded grants.
Georgia – Judge Tosses Commissioner Tommy Hunter’s Legal Challenge to Ethics Punishment
Gwinnett Daily Post – Curt Yeomans | Published: 6/28/2017
The ongoing saga involving Gwinnett County Commissioner Tommy Hunter and his comments on Facebook took a new turn when a judge threw out his legal challenge to the ethics board that recommended his reprimand. Superior Court Judge Melodie Snell Conner’s ruling was a blow to the Hunter camp’s assertion that the ethics complaint filed against him by Atlanta resident Nancie Turner and, indeed, the county’s entire ethics process was unconstitutional. Hunter’s social media comments included calling U.S. Rep. John Lewis a “racist pig” and referring to Democrats as “Demonrats” and “Libtards,” and quickly led to protests at commission meetings.
Illinois – Emanuel Hints at Ethics Law Rewrite After Lobbying Violations Found in His Emails
Chicago Tribune – Bill Ruthhart | Published: 6/28/2017
Mayor Rahm Emanuel accused the Chicago Board of Ethics of turning “average citizens” into lobbyists in its haste to bolster its image as a strong watchdog. Emanuel weighed in on the controversy after the board found that his close friend and campaign donor Jim Abrams, as well as the husband of Ald. Sophia King, were lobbying the mayor through his private emails but failed to register as lobbyists. “We cannot collapse a lobbyist and a citizen, and that’s what’s happened,” said Emanuel, who did not say whether he would seek to change the law himself. “What has happened here, in the interest of reform, we have lost our perspective.”
New Mexico – State Ethics Panel Is a Work in Progress
Albuquerque Journal – Dan Boyd | Published: 6/21/2017
New Mexico lawmakers approved the creation of an independent ethics commission during this year’s legislative session, but there is still much unsettled about how the body would function, even if it is approved by voters next year. That is because what lawmakers approved during the was essentially the framework for an ethics commission, with the assumption specific powers and procedures would be set at a later date. The approach has raised concern among some advocacy groups, who are pushing lawmakers to start talking details in interim legislative committee hearings this summer and fall.
Pennsylvania – Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams Pleads Guilty in His Federal Corruption Trial
Philadelphia Inquirer – Jeremy Roebuck | Published: 6/29/2017
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams pleaded guilty to a corruption charge, resigned from office, and was sent immediately to jail. Williams pleaded guilty to a single count of accepting a bribe from a businessperson in exchange for legal favors. The move came after weeks of damaging testimony against Williams at his federal trial. He was also charged with fraudulently using thousands of dollars from his campaign fund for personal expenses, misusing city vehicles, and misappropriating money intended to fund his mother’s nursing home care. Before he was indicted, Williams was fined $62,000 by the city ethics board, its largest fine ever, for accepting improper gifts.
Vermont – Feds Looking into Jane Sanders Over Real Estate Deal
Burlington Free Press – Wilson Ring (Associated Press) | Published: 6/26/2017
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and his wife, Jane Sanders, have hired prominent defense attorneys amid an FBI investigation into a loan she obtained to expand Burlington College while she was its president. A complaint accuses Jane Sanders of distorting donor levels in a 2010 loan application for $10 million to purchase 33 acres of land for the institution. Prosecutors might also be looking into allegations that Sen. Sanders’ office inappropriately urged the bank to approve the loan.
Washington – Lawsuit Challenges Seattle Campaign-Contribution Vouchers
Minneapolis Star Tribune – Gene Johnson (Associated Press) | Published: 6/28/2017
The Pacific Legal Foundation is suing Seattle over its new “democracy voucher” program for publicly funded political campaigns, which was passed by voters in 2015 and is being used for the first time in this year’s city council races. Under the program, Seattle’s voters decided to tax themselves $3 million a year in exchange for four $25 vouchers they can sign over to candidates. Supporters say it is a novel way to counter the effect of big money in politics and to help lesser-known candidates communicate their views. But the lawsuit says it forces people to pay taxes to support candidates they do not necessarily agree with in violation of their free-speech rights.
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.
June 29, 2017 •
Lobbying “Former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort Files as Foreign Agent for Ukraine Work” by Tom Hamburger and Rosalind Helderman for Washington Post “Jack Abramoff Registers as a Foreign Agent” by Megan Wilson for Roll Call District of Columbia: “Councilmember […]
“Former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort Files as Foreign Agent for Ukraine Work” by Tom Hamburger and Rosalind Helderman for Washington Post
“Jack Abramoff Registers as a Foreign Agent” by Megan Wilson for Roll Call
District of Columbia: “Councilmember Moves to Expand Definition of ‘Lobbying’” by Rachel Sadon for Dcist
Illinois: “IG: Ethics Board’s definition of lobbyist is ‘broadest’ in U.S.” by Fran Spielman for Chicago Sun-Times
Washington: “Seattle’s Democracy Voucher Program Target of Lawsuit” by Travis Pittman for KING
“Trump Attorney Jay Sekulow’s Family Has Been Paid Millions from Charities They Control” by Aaron Davis and Shawn Boburg for Washington Post
“A Time Magazine with Trump on the Cover Hangs in His Golf Clubs. It’s Fake” by David Fahrenthold for Washington Post
“How Donald Trump Misunderstood the F.B.I.” by Tim Weiner for New York Times
Connecticut: “Ethics Commissioner Charged in Prostitute Mixup” by Daniel Tepfer for Connecticut Post
June 28, 2017 •
Lobbying “Trump Appointee Is a Saudi Government Lobbyist” by Carrie Levine for Center for Public Integrity Ethics “‘Give Me a Chance,’ Trump Associate-Turned-Housing-Official Says” by Yamiche Alcindor for New York Times “E.P.A. Official Pressured Scientist on Congressional Testimony, Emails Show” […]
“Trump Appointee Is a Saudi Government Lobbyist” by Carrie Levine for Center for Public Integrity
“‘Give Me a Chance,’ Trump Associate-Turned-Housing-Official Says” by Yamiche Alcindor for New York Times
“E.P.A. Official Pressured Scientist on Congressional Testimony, Emails Show” by Coral Davenport for New York Times
“FBI Has Questioned Trump Campaign Adviser Carter Page at Length in Russia Probe” by Devlin Barrett for Washington Post
Florida: “For Those Suspected of Corruption Elsewhere, South Florida Still a Magnet” by Kyra Gurney for Miami Herald
Michigan: “Marijuana Licensing Board Members Must Disclose Their Finances – but What Will Be Public?” by Paul Egan for Detroit Free Press
New York: “Yankee Stadium Charity Is Called into Question” by Micah Hauser for New York Times
Vermont: “Feds Looking into Jane Sanders Over Real Estate Deal” by Wilson Ring (Associated Press) for Burlington Free Press
“‘It’s the End of Small Talk in Washington’” by Daniel Lippman and John Harris for Politico Magazine
June 27, 2017 •
Lobbying Arkansas: “Arkansas Panel Advises Limit to Pot Lobbyists’ Pay” by Brian Fanney for Arkansas Online Canada: “Commissioner’s Report Indicates Much More Lobbying Last Year” by Derek Abma for Hill Times Campaign Finance Arizona: “Corporation Commissioner Continues Bid for APS […]
Arkansas: “Arkansas Panel Advises Limit to Pot Lobbyists’ Pay” by Brian Fanney for Arkansas Online
Canada: “Commissioner’s Report Indicates Much More Lobbying Last Year” by Derek Abma for Hill Times
Arizona: “Corporation Commissioner Continues Bid for APS Financial Records” by Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services) for Arizona Daily Star
“Lawmakers Want Trump’s Tax Returns, but Won’t Release Their Own” by Stephanie Akin for Roll Call
“Kushner Firm’s $285 Million Deutsche Bank Loan Came Just Before Election Day” by Michael Kranish for Washington Post
Alabama: “Former Alabama Legislator Oliver Robinson Charged in Bribery Scheme; Enters Federal Plea Deal” by Kent Faulk for AL.com
Connecticut: “Newton Lands Job Helping Fellow Ex-Offenders” by Brian Lockhart for Connecticut Post
Florida: “Federal Authorities Launch Probe into City of Tallahassee” by Gary Fineout (Associated Press) for U.S. News & World Report
West Virginia: “WV Senate Leader Sent Invites to Coalition’s Event During Special Session” by Jake Zuckerman for Charleston Gazette
June 26, 2017 •
Lobbying “Ex-Lobbyists Swarm Trump Administration, despite ‘Drain the Swamp’ Pledge” by Fredreka Schouten for USA Today California: “San Jose Politicians Can Soon Accept Gifts Up to $470, a Major Change in City Rules” by Ramona Giwarges for San Jose Mercury […]
“Ex-Lobbyists Swarm Trump Administration, despite ‘Drain the Swamp’ Pledge” by Fredreka Schouten for USA Today
California: “San Jose Politicians Can Soon Accept Gifts Up to $470, a Major Change in City Rules” by Ramona Giwarges for San Jose Mercury News
Illinois: “Ald. King Defends Husband Who Faces Fine for Lobbying Violation” by Hal Dardick for Chicago Tribune
Missouri: “Ethics Complaint Accuses Missouri Senate Leader’s Ally of Unregistered Lobbying” by Jason Hancock for Kansas City Star
Connecticut: “State Elections Watchdogs: No campaign cash for Ganim” by Brian Lockhart and Bill Cummings for Connecticut Post
Pennsylvania: “Philadelphians Could Be on the Hook for Political Campaign Expenses” by Claudia Vargas for Philadelphia Inquirer
Florida: “Using Ethics Loophole, Sen. Lauren Book Votes to Give Her Nonprofit $1.5 Million” by Francisco Alvarado for FloridaBulldog.org
New Mexico: “State Ethics Panel Is a Work in Progress” by Dan Boyd for Albuquerque Journal
New York: “Lack of Reforms at NY Capitol Called ‘Pathetic’” by Joseph Spector for Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin
“Obama’s Secret Struggle to Punish Russia for Putin’s Election Assault” by Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima, and Adam Entous for Washington Post
June 23, 2017 •
National: As Pot Comes Out of the Black Market, Regulators Face Scrutiny Boston Herald; Associated Press – | Published: 6/21/2017 Recent cases in Colorado and Washington are the first known instances of current or former marijuana regulators being accused […]
As Pot Comes Out of the Black Market, Regulators Face Scrutiny
Boston Herald; Associated Press – | Published: 6/21/2017
Recent cases in Colorado and Washington are the first known instances of current or former marijuana regulators being accused of having improper dealings with the industry. The two recreational marijuana states are the nation’s oldest, approving legal weed in defiance of federal law in 2012. Watchdogs say the Colorado and Washington cases should spur states to beef up ethics commissions charged with monitoring conflicts-of-interest by government employees. Michigan, a medical-marijuana state, passed a 2016 law banning even relatives of its pot oversight board members from having any financial stake in the marijuana industry.
The Not-So-Bitter Rivalry of Dean Baquet and Marty Baron
Politico – Joe Pompeo | Published: 6/19/2017
The Washington Post’s Marty Baron and Dean Baquet of The New York Times are the two most important newspaper editors in America right now, at a time when the news media are tackling the most consequential story of the past 40 years. Donald Trump’s presidency has revved up the competition for news organizations far and wide; big and small; print, broadcast, and digital. In the process, he has sparked a resurgence of storied legacy outlets like The Times and The Post, each of which has struggled with changes in the news business while doomsayers augured its demise. As with the rest of the media, their “Trump bump” has been a boon in terms of scoops and subscribers.
Despite Concerns About Blackmail, Flynn Heard C.I.A. Secrets
New York Times – Matt Apuzzo, Matthew Rosenberg, and Adam Goldman | Published: 6/20/2017
Senior U.S. intelligence officials knew as early as January that former national security adviser Michael Flynn could have been vulnerable to Russian blackmail. Despite officials’ knowledge of the risks associated with Flynn, he continued to sit in on meetings during which President Trump was briefed on sensitive intelligence. It is unclear whether CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who briefed Trump on intelligence while Flynn sat nearby, was aware of officials’ concerns about Flynn. Many of Trump’s political problems, including the appointment of a special counsel and the controversy over the firing of the FBI director, James Comey, can ultimately be traced to Flynn’s stormy tenure.
Trump Says He Did Not Tape Comey Conversations
New York Times – Mark Lander | Published: 6/22/2017
President Trump said he did not record his conversations with James Comey. the FBI director he fired amid the Justice Department’s probe into the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia. The president’s Twitter messages left open the possibility the conversations may have been taped without his knowledge. But they largely confirmed the suspicions of outsiders that Trump had been leveling a baseless threat at Comey when he wrote, “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” Some legal experts have said Trump’s threat could be used in an obstruction of justice case against him, since it could be interpreted as putting pressure on Comey not to discuss their conversations about the FBI’s Russia investigation.
From the States and Municipalities:
Arizona: Axiom Partners Rename Lobbying Firm as Bribery Case Unfolds
Arizona Republic – Ronald Hansen | Published: 6/21/2017
A month after a federal bribery case shook Arizona’s lobbying community, the firm whose prominent exe features the same staff as Axiom Public Affairs, without lobbyist Jim Norton, said Kelsey Lundy, the firm’s managing partner. Once viewed as among the most politically connected lobbying firms in Arizona, Axiom’s run came crashing down after Norton’s may indictment in a case alleging he was a conduit for bribes paid by developer George Johnson to former Arizona Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce through his wife.
California: Lobbying Firm Fined $4,000 for Violating Gift Limit Buying Dinner for Former State Sen. Ronald Calderon
Los Angeles Times – Patrick McGreevy | Published: 6/19/2017
Mercury Public Affairs agreed to pay a $4,000 fine for violating the $10 gift limit on lobbying firms when it provided dinners worth $200 to former state Sen. Ronald Calderon and his wife. The violation was found by a random audit by the state Franchise Tax Board. In October, Calderon was sentenced to 42 months in federal prison after he pleaded guilty in a public corruption case unrelated to the Mercury dinner.
Connecticut: Lobbyists, Corporate PACs Help Legislator Pay for His Travels as RNC Member
Hartford Courant – Jon Lender | Published: 6/17/2017
State Rep. John Frey travels all over the country for meetings he attends as one of Connecticut’s two members of the Republican National Committee (RNC). But Frey does not pay for any it – flights, dining, hotel rooms, and sometimes car service to and from the airport – because his costs are reimbursed by a political action committee he set up six years ago called Leadership Connecticut PAC. Its stated purpose is to support federal candidates for the U.S. House and Senate, but its main activities, arguably, have been to stage the annual fundraisers to sustain itself and to pay for the travels of Frey and Patricia Longo, his fellow RNC member until she retired last year.
Florida: The Miami Beach Mystery PAC Is Under State Investigation
Miami Herald – Nicholas Nehamas, Joey Flechas, and David Ovalle | Published: 6/20/2017
A corruption probe is underway into a controversial political group linked to Miami Beach commissioner and mayoral candidate Michael Grieco. At least one donor to the PAC has been subpoenaed by the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office, according to a defense attorney representing the donor. The list of donors to People for Better Leaders is stocked with Miami Beach vendors, lobbyists, and developers with business before the city. Investigators with the state’s corruption task force may be seeking to learn if those donations were a quid pro quo for Grieco’s political favor. Grieco may also have broken a city law that bans candidates and elected officials from asking vendors and lobbyists for donations, either directly or through a third-party.
Hawaii: What Honolulu Lobbyists Don’t Tell You
Honolulu Civil Beat – Anita Hofschneider | Published: 6/19/2017
Honolulu does not require lobbyists to provide any details about how they spend money. About 85 percent of the lobbyists who filed reports said they did not spend anything last year. Nearly three dozen registered lobbyists did not submit any reports, even though mandatory forms were due six months ago. Jan Yamane, who took over the city Ethics Commission last fall, said the current lobbying disclosure process is not working. “We need to debrief this thing, hit the reset button and completely overhaul this process,” Yamane said.
Illinois: Emanuel Friend, Alderman’s Husband Both Illegally Lobbied Mayor Via His Personal Email: Ethics board
Chicago Tribune – Bill Ruthhart | Published: 6/16/2017
A close friend of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, as well as the husband of a city council member, face fines for lobbying the mayor through his private emails but failing to register as lobbyists. Alan King, husband of Ald. Sophia King, and James Abrams are the latest targets of the reinvigorated city Board of Ethics. Under the law, Abrams could face a potential fine of more than $520,000. King could face a fine of more than $500,000. Board of Ethics Chairperson William Conlon has signaled the board is unlikely to hand out exorbitant maximum penalties. But Conlon argued the fine needs to be “enough to send a message.”
Kentucky: Ethics Panel Appeals Ruling That Allows Lobbyists to Give Gifts, Money to Lawmakers
Lexington Herald-Leader – Jack Brammer | Published: 6/21/2017
The Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission will appeal a recent federal court ruling that allows lobbyists to give gifts and campaign donations to state lawmakers. “We thought it too important not to appeal,” said commission Chairperson George Troutman. A lawsuit filed by State Sen. John Schickel and two Libertarian political candidates argued the ethics laws violate their constitutional rights to free speech and equal protection by restricting their access to people who want to help them. State regulators countered that the laws were meant to prevent bribery at the Capitol. The Registry of Election Finance, the other defendant in the case, has yet to decide whether to appeal.
Kentucky: Fired Lawyer to Get Settlement from Kentucky Over Her ‘Whistleblower’ Case About Sex Toys
Louisville Courier-Journal – Deborah Yetter | Published: 6/15/2017
Jacqueline Heyman, a former lawyer with the Kentucky Public Protection Cabinet, reached a financial settlement with the state over her claim she was fired in 2015 after reporting two co-workers were running a “sex toy” business out of the office. Heyman began work as a supervising attorney with the department in April 2015. She was fired before she could successfully complete a six-month probation period and gain merit system job protection. Heyman said she discovered the extent of the online, adult product business when she found a box of such items under the desk of one of the employees. Heyman said she got little reaction after she reported it to her boss so she told the Executive Branch Ethics Commission. A week later, Heyman said she was fired with no explanation.
New York: New York Ethics Agency Hit with Harassment Lawsuit
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 6/20/2017
A former financial auditor at the New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics alleges she was fired after reporting sexual discrimination by one of her supervisors to the agency’s leadership. Catherine Webb outlined her accusation in a recent civil lawsuit she filed against the commission in federal court. Webb alleges she was repeatedly subjected to abusive verbal conduct that was “severe, pervasive and frequent.”
North Carolina: Is North Carolina the Future of American Politics?
New York Times – Jason Zengerle | Published: 6/20/2017
Ever since 2010, when Republicans seized control of the North Carolina General Assembly for the first time in a century, and especially since 2012, when they took the governor’s mansion, the state’s politics have been haywire. “It’s more polarized and more acrimonious than I’ve ever seen,” said Carter Wrenn, a veteran GOP political consultant. “And I’ve seen some pretty acrimonious politics – I worked for Jesse Helms.”
Wisconsin: Supreme Court to Hear Potentially Landmark Case on Partisan Gerrymandering
Washington Post – Robert Barnes | Published: 6/19/2017
The U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether judges can throw out legislative maps as being so partisan they violate the Constitution, taking up a case that could put a powerful new check on gerrymandering. The justices agreed to hear arguments on a Wisconsin map that a lower court said was designed to keep Republicans in control of the state Legislature even if they did not win a majority of the votes. The Supreme Court has never struck down a legislative map as being too partisan, or told challengers what standard they have to meet to win a lawsuit. The case, which the court will hear in the nine-month term that starts in October, could open the way for a new wave of election litigation.
June 22, 2017 •
Lobbying Kentucky: “Ethics Panel Appeals Ruling That Allows Lobbyists to Give Gifts, Money to Lawmakers” by Jack Brammer for Lexington Herald-Leader Campaign Finance Florida: “The Miami Beach Mystery PAC Is Under State Investigation” by Nicholas Nehamas, Joey Flechas, and David […]
Kentucky: “Ethics Panel Appeals Ruling That Allows Lobbyists to Give Gifts, Money to Lawmakers” by Jack Brammer for Lexington Herald-Leader
Florida: “The Miami Beach Mystery PAC Is Under State Investigation” by Nicholas Nehamas, Joey Flechas, and David Ovalle for Miami Herald
“Trump Seeks Sharp Cuts to Housing Aid, Except for Program That Brings Him Millions” by Shawn Boburg for Washington Post
“Despite Concerns About Blackmail, Flynn Heard C.I.A. Secrets” by Matt Apuzzo, Matthew Rosenberg, and Adam Goldman for New York Times
Kentucky: “Consultant Sentenced to Prison for Part in Kickback Scheme” by Adam Beam (Associated Press) for U.S. News & World Report
Colorado: “As Pot Comes Out of the Black Market, Regulators Face Scrutiny” by Associated Press for Boston Herald
New York: “New York Ethics Agency Hit with Harassment Lawsuit” by Chris Bragg for Albany Times Union
Oregon: “Oregon Ethics Commission Resumes Investigation of John Kitzhaber and Cylvia Hayes” by Hillary Borrud for Portland Oregonian
Pennsylvania: “Two Executives with Allentown Contracts Plead Guilty in FBI Corruption Investigation” by Emily Opilo and Peter Hall for Allentown Morning News
“Some States Beat Supreme Court to Punch on Eliminating Gerrymanders” by Thomas Fuller and Michael Wines for New York Times
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