November 30, 2020 •
The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) adopted cost of living adjustment regulations amending contribution limits and gift limit amounts. The newly adjusted contribution limit in effect for candidates for the Senate or Assembly and candidates for elected seats to the […]
The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) adopted cost of living adjustment regulations amending contribution limits and gift limit amounts.
The newly adjusted contribution limit in effect for candidates for the Senate or Assembly and candidates for elected seats to the Board of Administration of the Public Employees Retirement System for an election occurring during the period January 1, 2021 through December 31, 2022 is now $4,900 per person.
The newly adjusted annual gift limit amount in effect for the period January 1, 2021, to December 31, 2022, is $520.
August 24, 2020 •
Campaign Finance National: “Democrats Push to Revamp Political Money System That’s Boosting Their Campaigns” by Kate Ackley for Roll Call California: “Elections Watchdog OK’s Settlement Over LA County’s Measure H Advocacy” by Chris Haire for Los Angeles Daily News Pennsylvania: […]
National: “Democrats Push to Revamp Political Money System That’s Boosting Their Campaigns” by Kate Ackley for Roll Call
California: “Elections Watchdog OK’s Settlement Over LA County’s Measure H Advocacy” by Chris Haire for Los Angeles Daily News
Pennsylvania: “A Dark Money Mystery” by Angela Couloumbis, Brad Bumsted, and Sam Janesch for Spotlight PA
Missouri: “GOP Lawmakers Appeal Rebuke of ‘Unfair’ Cleaner Missouri Ballot Language They Wrote” by Austin Huguelet for Springfield News-Leader
National: “Trump Praises Baseless QAnon Conspiracy Theory, Says He Appreciates Support of Its Followers” by Colby Itkowitz, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Lori Rozsa, and Rachael Bade for Washington Post
National: “Kellyanne Conway to Leave the White House at the End of the Month, Citing the Need to Focus on Her Family” by Ashley Parker for Washington Post
New Jersey: “N.J. Man Indicted on Corruption Charges for Paying City Employee to Help Secure $350K Contract” by Joe Atmonavage (NJ Advance Media) for Newark Star Ledger
North Carolina: “N.C. Political Donor Gets 7 Years in Prison, Hayes Probation” by Staff for Associated Press News
Canada: “Conservatives Claim ‘Coverup’ After Trudeau Shuts Down Parliament” by Kathleen Harris for CBC
August 21, 2020 •
National/Federal Biden Aides Headline DNC Fundraisers with Lobbyists Politico – Theodoric Meyer | Published: 8/13/2020 When Barack Obama won the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, he barred the Democratic National Committee (DNC) from accepting contributions from lobbyists in an attempt to […]
Biden Aides Headline DNC Fundraisers with Lobbyists
Politico – Theodoric Meyer | Published: 8/13/2020
When Barack Obama won the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, he barred the Democratic National Committee (DNC) from accepting contributions from lobbyists in an attempt to purge their influence from his future administration. Joe Biden does not appear to have the same concerns. The DNC started accepting checks from lobbyists again in 2016 and has continued to do so as Biden accepted the Democratic nomination. While the Biden campaign has sworn off contributions from lobbyists, it has dispatched top staffers to headline at least four Zoom fundraisers benefiting the DNC and hosted by prominent Democratic lobbyists.
‘Climate Donors’ Flock to Biden to Counter Trump’s Fossil Fuel Money
New York Times – Lisa Friedman | Published: 8/18/2020
The changing climate is now a core campaign issue and a focus for fundraising. Joe Biden has raised more than $15 million in contributions from hundreds of new donors who specifically identify with climate change as a cause. That climate-specific fundraising may make up about five percent of the total he has raised so far. It is dwarfed by fossil fuel donations to President Trump, who took in $10 million from a single fundraiser held by oil billionaire Kelcy Warren. It is not known how much unregulated money is going to super PACs aligned with Democrats from other self-identified climate donors. But the hard money climate donations represent a growing counterweight to oil, gas, and coal money that has long warped the energy conversation in Washington. D.C.
Coronavirus Sidelines Lobbyists at the Influence Industry’s Super Bowl
NBC News – Ginger Gibson | Published: 8/17/2020
The absence of in-person nominating conventions this year means lobbyists have been effectively sidelined. Washington, D.C. lobbying has been turned upside because of the coronavirus pandemic. The conventions are no exception, leaving the influence industry to assess how it will operate when life returns to normal. Much of the work of lobbying generally involves making the trek up Capitol Hill to meet with lawmakers and their staffs to explain a client’s point of view. But with the halls of Congress closed, meetings have shifted to Zoom calls. So, with this year’s conventions, lobbyists will be grappling not only with the inability to secure face time with decision makers but also with corporate clients trying to survive the pandemic-induced recession.
Democrats, Election Watchdogs See ‘Glaring Hole’ in Postal Service Pledge to Roll Back Recent Changes
Washington Post – Tony Romm, Lisa Rein, and Jacob Bogage | Published: 8/19/2020
The U.S. Postal Service will pause its controversial cost-cutting initiatives until after the election. The about-face announced by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy halted a series of cost-cutting measures, including the removal of machines that sort mail and the public boxes that collect it. But confusion persisted after the move. It is unclear whether Americans would receive their ballots on time, or if they would be able to return them easily. Nor was it clear whether DeJoy would promptly restore the sorting machines he had ordered removed from some postal facilities, or if the changes he has made across the agency under the watch of President Trump would introduce delays into one of the most consequential elections in U.S. history.
Ex-Trump Adviser Steve Bannon Charged in Border Wall Scheme
Associated Press News – Larry Neumeister, Colleen Long, and Jill Colvin | Published: 8/20/2020
Federal prosecutors arrested Stephen Bannon, President Trump’s former chief strategist, and three other men they alleged defrauded hundreds of thousands of donors using a crowdfunding campaign that was advertised as raising money to build a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico. The fundraiser was headed by men who pushed their close ties to Trump, giving their effort a legitimacy that helped them raise more than $25 million. But according to the criminal charges, very little of the wall was constructed. Instead, the money lined the pockets of some of those involved. Bannon received over $1 million himself, using some to secretly pay co-defendant, Brian Kolfage, the founder of the project, and to cover hundreds of thousands of dollars of Bannon’s personal expenses.
FBI Arrests Puerto Rico Lawmaker, Family in Corruption Probe
Associated Press News – Danica Coto | Published: 8/17/2020
FBI agents arrested Puerto Rico Rep. María Milagros Charbonier after the legislator who once presided over the island’s House Ethics Committee was charged in a public corruption case that officials say also involved her son, husband, and an assistant. U.S. Attorney Stephen Muldrow said it was a simple scheme in which Charbonier allegedly received some $100,000 in bribes and kickbacks after increasing the pay of her assistant, Frances Acevedo, from $800 every two weeks to nearly $3,000, and then received between $1,000 to $1,500 in return for every paycheck.
Financial Disclosures Reveal Postmaster General’s Business Entanglements and Likely Conflicts of Interest, Experts Say
CNN – Marshall Cohen | Published: 8/12/2020
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy continues to hold a multimillion-dollar stake in his former company XPO Logistics, a U.S. Postal Service contractor, likely creating a major conflict-of-interest. Outside experts were shocked that ethics officials at the postal service approved this arrangement, which allows DeJoy to keep at least $30 million in XPO holdings. DeJoy and USPS have said he fully complied with the regulations. Raising further alarms, on the same day in June that DeJoy divested large amounts of Amazon shares, he purchased stock options giving him the right to buy new shares of Amazon at a price much lower than their current market price. This could lead to a separate conflict, given President Donald Trump’s disdain for Amazon.
GAO Finds Chad Wolf, Ken Cuccinelli Are Ineligible to Serve in Their Top DHS Roles
Politico – Kyle Cheney | Published: 8/14/2020
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli were invalidly appointed to their positions and are ineligible to serve, a congressional watchdog determined. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) concluded that after the resignation of Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in April 2019, an improper succession occurred, with Kevin McAleenan taking on the position. McAleenan then altered the order of succession for other officials to succeed him after his departure. The GAO referred the matter to the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security for further review and potential action. The office also urged the inspector general to consider the consequences of actions taken by invalidly appointed officials.
‘Gosh, I Basically Cover the Campaign from My Couch’
Politico – Eli Okun and John Harris | Published: 8/13/2020
Four years ago, after most journalists were caught surprised by Donald Trump’s victory, there was an almost universal critique about how the profession needed to do better next time. Reporters needed to get off Twitter and cable and get into the field. Journalists needed to liberate themselves from conventional wisdom and the distorting effects of their cultural bubbles and learn what is really happening in the country. Instead, due to the coronavirus pandemic, journalists are spending more time in their own homes than ever, a phone in one hand and television remote in the other. The presidential campaign has gone remote in multiple senses of the word, the most dramatic shift in the rhythms and day-to-day logistics of newsgathering that political journalism has seen in decades.
Judge Balks at White House’s Executive Privilege Claim over Ukraine Emails
Politico – Josh Gerstein | Published: 8/10/2020
U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson rebuffed the Trump administration’s attempt to invoke executive privilege to withhold a batch of emails about a hold President Trump put on U.S. aid to Ukraine in 2019. Jackson said the government had failed to make a convincing case showing the messages between White House aide Robert Blair and Office of Management and Budget official Michael Duffey were eligible for protection under legal privileges protecting the development of presidential advice or decisions made by other government officials. The messages are considered key evidence about the event that triggered Trump’s impeachment last year: his decision to halt aid to Ukraine in what critics and even some administration officials said was an attempt to pressure that country to launch an investigation into Joe Biden.
Nursing Homes with Safety Problems Deploy Trump-Connected Lobbyists
New York Times – Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Jesse Drucker | Published: 8/16/2020
Nursing homes have been the center of America’s coronavirus pandemic, with more than 62,000 residents and staff dying from Covid-19 at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, about 40 percent of the country’s virus fatalities. Now the lightly regulated industry is campaigning in Washington, D.C. for federal help that could increase its profits. Some of the country’s largest nursing-home companies, including those with long histories of safety violations and misusing public funds, have assembled a fleet of lobbyists, many with close ties to the Trump administration. It is hardly unusual for embattled industries to seek help from Washington. But the fact that individual nursing-home companies are hiring lobbyists, not just relying on trade associations, reflects the ambitious nature of the industry’s mobilization.
Senate Report Details Security Risk Posed by 2016 Trump Campaign’s Russia Contacts
Washington Post – Greg Miller, Karoun Demirjian, and Ellen Nakashima | Published: 8/18/2020
An investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee portrays Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign as posing counterintelligence risks through its contacts with Russia, eager to exploit assistance from the Kremlin and seemingly determined to conceal the extent of its conduct. The report contains new findings that appear to show more direct links between Trump associates and Russian intelligence, and it pierces the president’s attempts to dismiss the Kremlin’s intervention on his behalf as a hoax. Like the Mueller report, the Senate document does not explicitly accuse the Trump campaign of direct collusion with Russian intelligence. But it carries weight because it is the first major investigation of Russian interference in 2016 to be conducted by a Republican-controlled committee and endorsed by both Republicans and Democrats.
Staff Wants More People of Color Named to the FEC
The Fulcrom – Sarah Swann | Published: 8/18/2020
Sixty-six staff members, about one-fifth of the FEC workforce, sent a letter asking President Trump to nominate and the Senate to confirm at least one person of color for the three vacancies on the commission, which has been shut down for the past eight weeks for lack of a quorum. In its 45-year history, the FEC has had 31 commissioners – all but one of them white. The complaint from the nonpartisan civil servants suggests how beleaguered the agency is these days, and how the nation’s reckoning with systemic racism this year has taken root in most every corner of society. The letter was an outgrowth of a workshop on diversity, equity, and inclusion the agency staff held this summer.
Swag, but No Luxury Suites: Big donors endure a party-less party convention
New York Times – Shane Goldmacher | Published: 8/18/2020
Democrats’ biggest donors are used to being feted at the party’s national convention, breezing through a maze of tiered luxury suites and V.I.P. rooms with free-flowing appetizers, access, and alcohol. This year, though, even those who have given $500,000 and up were stuck watching the virtual event from home. Ahead of the virtual gathering, the party and the Biden campaign mailed along a care package to tide over any forlorn financiers: notebooks embossed with the number 46 (as in the potential for Biden to be the 46th president), hats, buttons, posters, and a bag of “Cup of Joe” coffee. Like nearly everything else in American life, the coronavirus pandemic has upended the already cloistered world of political fundraising, as campaigns and contributors alike figure out how to raise tens of millions of dollars.
They Started in a D.C. Living Room. Now Money from This Grass-Roots Group Is Ending Up in Alaskan Villages.
Washington Post – Amy Gardner | Published: 8/14/2020
A grassroots fundraising group known as 31st Street Swing Left, a chapter of the national organization Swing Left, is focused on flipping red seats blue. It is one of countless such fundraising groups pouring cash and energy into potential swing races across the country this election cycle. But the group also stands out for its evolution, growing from a Washington, D.C.-area assemblage of 30 political novices knocking on doors to support Democratic candidates in Virginia into a fundraising army of nearly 1,200 members in three years.
With Democrats at Home, a Conservative Super PAC Comes Knocking
Washington Post – David Weigel | Published: 8/16/2020
With Democrats wary of traditional door-to-door canvassing in the pandemic, and with the Biden-Harris campaign discouraging it, conservatives have less competition. The Americans for Prosperity’s operation started weeks ago, at an initial cost of nearly $900,000 across the country. Their targets included U.S. Senate races in Colorado, Georgia, Montana, North Carolina. and Texas, as well as a few congressional races. Since kicking off, they had contacted 6 million voters, but unlike the GOP, they were not mentioning the president in their messaging or surveys.
Canada – Canadian Finance Minister Resigns Amid Contracting Scandal
Politico – Lauren Gardner | Published: 8/17/2020
Finance Minister Bill Morneau will resign his Cabinet post and his seat in the House of Commons amid an ethics controversy surrounding a charity with ties to his family and that of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Morneau’s recent high-profile troubles are centered on his failure to recuse himself from a Cabinet decision awarding a no-bid contract to WE Charity to administer a student grant program as part of the Trudeau government’s Covid-19 response. He admitted to repaying the charity for costs incurred during a 2017 trip to Ecuador with his family just before testifying in front of a parliamentary committee.
Canada – WE Charity Registers as Lobbyist, Lays Off Dozens of Employees
HuffPost Canada – Joan Bryden and Teresa Wright (Canadian Press) | Published: 8/13/2020
WE Charity registered as a lobbyist of the federal government months after it began talks with federal officials about potential programs to help Canadian youths during the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization’s executive director, Dalal Al-Waheidi, disclosed the registration during testimony before the House of Commons finance committee, which is probing the controversy surrounding the government’s decision to pay WE Charity up to $43.5 million to administer a now-abandoned student grant program. The controversy has triggered investigations into potential breaches of conflict-of-interest rules by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau, both of whom have close family ties to WE Charity.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – Farmers Pay Arizona City Official with Goat for Outside Job
Associated Press News – Staff | Published: 8/16/2020
An Arizona city official making $107,000 a year resigned after an investigation found he used city workers for an outside job involving an attempt to secure irrigation water for farmers who paid him with a goat. The inquiry found the possibility of cash down the road also was discussed by Frank Stevens, the now-former former water resource portfolio manager for the city of Surprise. One of the farmers told an investigator they gave Stevens the goat because “he liked the animal and [Stevens said] it would keep his kids happy when they came home from school.”
California – California Ethics Agency Opens Investigation into Former CalPERS Investment Chief
Sacramento Bee – Andrew Sheeler | Published: 8/17/2020
The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) confirmed it is opening an investigation into two complaints regarding former California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) Chief Investment Officer Yu Ben Meng. He resigned abruptly on August 5 after being on the job overseeing the pension fund’s $412 billion investment portfolio for less than two years. Meng’s departure followed an anonymous complaint to the FPPC that Meng had approved a $1 billion deal with Blackstone Group, a financial firm in which Meng was a shareholder.
California – Did L.A. County Wrongly Promote a Tax Hike? It’ll Pay Hefty $1.35 Million to Settle Claims
Sacramento Bee – Kim Bojorquez | Published: 8/19/2020
Los Angeles County agreed to pay a $1.35 million settlement to resolve a complaint charging it misused government funds to promote a 2017 sales tax increase, marking one of the largest-ever financial penalties considered by the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). The county’s potential penalties are even greater if the FPPC rejects the settlement. It faces up to $2.4 million in penalties stemming from money the county spent promoting Measure H without reporting it as a political contribution.
Colorado – Marlboro’s Owners Negotiated Colorado’s Proposed Tobacco Tax Hike – and It Could Help Them Dominate the Cigarette Market
Colorado Sun – Jesse Paul | Published: 8/12/2020
The maker of Marlboro cigarettes spent more than $16 million to block a tobacco tax increase in Colorado four years ago. Now it could benefit from the passage of a question on the November ballot that would dramatically increase the price of cigarettes, a question the company helped write. Altria was part of the negotiations that led to House Bill 1427, which placed the question on the 2020 ballot. If passed, it will raise taxes on nicotine products across the board over the next several years. The question also would require retailers to sell cigarettes for a minimum of $7 a pack, or $70 a carton, starting in January. The discount tobacco company Liggett Group is slated to contend the change will give Altria a major sales advantage and wipe away its market share.
Florida – A Florida GOP Sheriff Allegedly Ordered the Arrest of His Mistress. Now He’s the One Facing Charges.
Washington Post – Teo Armus | Published: 8/14/2020
Darryl Daniels, the sheriff of Clay County, Florida, dialed his deputy while driving with an urgent plea for backup: He was being followed by a stalker in a Jeep and appeared to be in “imminent danger.” But Daniels knew exactly who was behind him on that day in May 2019, prosecutors say: it was Cierra Smith, his former employee and mistress of six years, on her way to meet him at their regular spot. Filming the whole thing was his wife, to whom he had recently confessed the affair. Now, Smith has resigned from her job, Daniels’s wife has filed for divorce, and the sheriff is the one who ended up behind bars. Following a year-long investigation, Florida authorities filed four charges against him and booked him into jail.
Florida – Federal Appeals Court Considers Whether to Uphold Florida Felon Voting Law
Politico – Gary Fineout | Published: 8/18/2020
A federal appeals court spent more than two hours weighing whether to overturn a contentious Florida law restricting felon voting rights, with one judge suggesting doing so would paradoxically require the court to strike down a public referendum that eliminated the state’s ban on felon voting. The judges, sitting the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, peppered lawyers with questions about whether the state law constitutes an illegal poll tax because it requires people who have served time for a felony to pay off any court debts before they can register to vote. It remains unclear if the court will make a decision before the November election.
Illinois – Cook County Board of Ethics Members Ousted by Toni Preckwinkle Are Frustrated with Shakeups, Pace of Proposed Reforms
Chicago Tribune – Alice Yin | Published: 8/14/2020
Proposed revisions to Cook County’s ethics ordinance, which the ethics board voted to recommend in January, include forbidding both nepotism in county hiring and county commissioners from taking certain outside jobs. They also would mandate lobbyists disclose if they have relatives who work for the county, introduce new rules to clamp down on sexual harassment, prohibit the state’s attorney from settling ethics lawsuits without the ethics board’s approval, and increase fines for certain violations. Now, three of the board members who crafted the reforms are gone, and their recommendations have not moved forward.
Illinois – Democratic State Lawmakers Propose Series of Ethics Changes
Chicago Tribune – Jamie Munks | Published: 8/13/2020
A group of Democratic state lawmakers in Illinois issued a series of ethics proposals ahead of the fall veto session, including term limits for legislative leaders and a process for temporarily removing members from leadership posts if they are caught up in a criminal investigation. The Democrats also want to prohibit lawmakers from lobbying at other levels of government and an end to the legislator-to-lobbyist :revolving door”; a requirement for more comprehensive disclosure of lawmakers’ outside income; and a more robust Legislative Inspector General’s office. They also noted the ongoing federal corruption investigation that has ensnared several legislators makes this an opportune time to pass a large-scale ethics package.
Illinois – State Sen. Terry Link Charged with Federal Income Tax Evasion
Chicago Tribune – Jason Meisner | Published: 8/13/2020
Illinois Sen. Terry Link was charged with a federal count of income tax evasion, the third Democratic state senator to face felony charges in a little more than a year. The criminal information accused Link of failing to report income on his 2016 tax return to the IRS. Defendants are typically charged via an information if they intend to eventually plead guilty. The Chicago Tribune reported last year that Link wore a wire for the FBI in a bribery investigation of then-state Rep. Luis Arroyo. Federal prosecutors alleged Arroyo had sought an unnamed state senator’s support on legislation involving video gambling sweepstakes games that would benefit one of Arroyo’s lobbying clients.
Missouri – Missouri Judge Finds GOP Redistricting Measure Misleading
Associated Press News – David Lieb | Published: 8/17/2020
A judge rewrote the summary for a legislative redistricting measure that will appear on the November ballot, ruling Missouri’s Republican-led Legislature tried to misleadingly entice voters into repealing an anti-gerrymandering reform that voters approved two years ago. The decision by Cole County Circuit Court Judge Pat Joyce struck down the Legislature’s ballot summary for Amendment 3 as insufficient, unfair, and partly false. She replaced it with a ballot summary suggested by a group that sponsored the successful 2018 measure and is opposed to this year’s revision. Like the 2018 measure, the Legislature’s revision combines the redistricting changes with popular measures to lower campaign contribution limits and restrict lobbyist gifts to lawmakers.
Nevada – Ex-LVCVA Boss to Pay Thousands in Ethics Fines Over Gift Card Scandal
Las Vegas Review-Journal – Jeff German | Published: 8/18/2020
Former Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) Chief Executive Officer Rossi Ralenkotter agreed to pay $24,406 in ethics fines for violating state laws prohibiting him from using his longtime public position to enrich himself. The fines stem from Ralenkotter’s use of LVCVA-bought airline gift cards on personal travel and his negotiation of a consulting contract with the tax-funded agency before he retired, according to a proposed agreement with the Nevada Commission on Ethics.
New Jersey – Five North Jersey Residents Charged in Alleged Scheme to Hide $239,000 in Campaign Cash
Bergen Record – Steve Janoski | Published: 8/14/2020
Five more people have been charged in a years-long corruption investigation that already ensnared a former state Assembly member and a Jersey City school board president. The new defendants allegedly gave a total of $239,000 to political parties and candidates before being secretly reimbursed by a law firm, the attorney general’s office said. The firm then claimed it had made no reportable contributions in towns where it sought lucrative contracts. New Jersey law prohibits political donations on behalf of others.
New Jersey – Trump Campaign Sues New Jersey Over Mail-In Voting
The Hill – Morgan Gstalter | Published: 8/19/2020
President Trump’s campaign filed a lawsuit against New Jersey after Gov. Phil Murphy (D) issued an executive order requiring every voter in the state receive a mail-in ballot, in addition to being allowed to vote in-person if desired, as a safety precaution during the coronavirus pandemic. The campaign claims Murphy appropriated power that belongs to the New Jersey Legislature when he overhauled the state’s election law, alleging he violated both the Elections Clause and the Electors Clause of the U.S. Constitution. It also accuses Murphy of violating the 14th Amendment.
New York – Trump Must Turn Over Tax Returns to D.A., Judge Rules
New York Times – Benjamin Weiser and William Rashbaum | Published: 8/20/2020
A federal judge rejected President Trump’s latest effort to block the Manhattan district attorney from obtaining his tax returns, dismissing Trump’s arguments that the prosecutor’s grand jury subpoena was “wildly overbroad” and issued in bad faith. The ruling marked another setback for the president in his yearlong legal fight to block the subpoena. The conflict has already reached the U.S. Supreme Court once and could end up there again as Trump’s lawyers quickly filed papers saying he would appeal. The district attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr., has been seeking eight years of Trump’s personal and business returns and other financial records as part of an investigation into the president’s business practices.
North Dakota – North Dakota to Vote in November on Top-Four Open Primaries, Ranked-Choice Voting, State Legislative Redistricting, and Other Election Changes
Ballotpedia – Jackie Mitchell | Published: 8/14/2020
North Dakota voters will decide on three constitutional amendments in November. One would amend the state constitution to make multiple changes to election and redistricting procedures. The measure would establish top-four open primaries for all statewide, legislative, and congressional races. The measure would also make the state’s ethics commission, which was created by voters through a 2018 citizen initiative, responsible for state legislative redistricting. Another provision would require a paper record for all ballots and audits of each election within 120 days by the secretary of state.
Ohio – Indicted Former Ohio House Speaker Will Remain on Ethics Panel
Dayton Daily News – Laura Bischoff | Published: 8/13/2020
Although indicted in a criminal case and removed as House speaker, state Rep. Larry Householder is still a member of the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee (JLEC), the body that investigates and rules on ethics and lobbying matters for the Ohio General Assembly. Speaker Bob Cupp removed Householder as vice chairperson of JLEC, but state law prohibits removal of a member from the ethics panel. Householder was arrested in July by FBI agents and charged with racketeering.
Ohio – Ohio House Won’t Cough Up Some HB 6 Documents Under Federal Subpoena
MSN – Randy Ludlow (Columbus Dispatch) | Published: 8/14/2020
The Ohio House turned over thousands of pages of records concerning House Bill 6 under a federal subpoena but withheld 30 documents, claiming they are exempt due to attorney-client and legislative privilege. The House released some of the records in response to the subpoena and public-records requests from news organizations, but still is compiling more records for release to the U.S. Department of Justice. Many involve routine constituent correspondence, various versions of the nuclear power-plant bailout bill, and proposed amendments to the measure at the heart of a $60 million public corruption scandal. Federal authorities have charged former Speaker Larry Householder and four others with racketeering in a scheme to pass and protect House Bill 6 from repeal and advance his political power.
Rhode Island – Supreme Court Allows Rhode Island to Make Voting by Mail Easier Amid Pandemic
National Public Radio – Laura Wamsley | Published: 8/13/2020
An agreement that makes it easier for Rhode Island residents to vote by mail during the pandemic will remain in place after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an effort by Republicans to block it. The agreement allows Rhode Islanders to vote in two upcoming elections without requiring voters to fill out mail-in ballots before two witnesses or a notary. That requirement was already suspended for the presidential primary that took place June 2. The court said in this case, state officials were defending what is already the status quo from the last election, “and many Rhode Island voters may well hold that belief.”
South Dakota – Ethics Board: Third party-paid travel a ‘common practice’ by Sioux Falls city officials, despite rules
Sioux Faslls Argus Leader – Trevor Mitchell | Published: 8/14/2020
The Sioux Falls Board of Ethics recommended the city council review and update their policies after an investigation found third parties are paying for councilors’ travel expenses and it was an “apparent common practice.” In their investigation of a councilperson, the board said the accused council member “acknowledges attendance at a seminar for which travel and other expenses were paid by third parties,” noting it was hosted by “a group with an acknowledged political agenda” and there were “multiple settings for attendees to be potentially influenced by commercial or political interests.”
Tennessee – Tennessee Governor to Sign Tougher Penalties for Some Protests
Memphis Commercial Appeal – Jonathan Mattise (Associated Press) | Published: 8/14/2020
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said he will sign a bill that toughens penalties on some protests in response to continued demonstrations in the state and nationwide over racial injustice. Lee also said he would have crafted some components differently than the Legislature, including the increased penalty on those who illegally camp on state property to a felony, punishable by up to six years in prison. Felony convictions in Tennessee additionally result in the revocation of an individual’s right to vote. The governor said the requirement that law enforcement offer an initial warning on camping violations strengthened the bill. He also cited the discretion of district attorneys and judges.
Virginia – Virginia Sen. L. Louise Lucas Served with Arrest Warrant over Confederate Statue Protest as Some Decry Charges
Washington Post – Emily Davies, Laura Vozzella, and Gregory Schneider | Published: 8/18/2020
Virginia Sen. L. Louise Lucas was charged with damaging a Confederate monument during protests in Portsmouth. She faces two felonies: conspiracy to commit a felony and injury to a monument causing more than $1,000 in damage. Lucas, who is the first African American president pro tempore in the Virginia Senate, is being charged at a time when many memorials to the Confederacy are being taken down, whether by demonstrators opposed to racial injustice or by authorities seeking to dismantle them through official channels. Legal experts say the way the Portsmouth police went about pursuing felony charges against Lucas and others is highly unusual given the political nature of the incident.
Washington DC – Bowser Seeks Ethics Review of Aide Who Discussed Job at Howard After Negotiating Tax Break for University
Washington Post – Fenit Nirappil and Michael Brice-Saddler | Published: 8/15/2020
District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser requested an ethics review of a freshly departed top aide who discussed taking a job with Howard University months after negotiating a deal for nearly $300 million in tax breaks and public funding for a new hospital for the university. Rashad Young abruptly left his position as city administrator after running day-to-day government operations since the mayor took office in 2015. He told on July 31 that he was in talks for a job at Howard University and sought ethics guidance. The mayor wrote that she directed her general counsel to review the circumstances of the job offer and the city ethics board’s opinion on the matter.
Washington DC – Jack Evans Is a Week Late and $20,000 Short
Patch – Mitch Ryals (Washington City Paper) | Published: 8/17/2020
Former District of Columbia Councilperson Jack Evans is now delinquent on the $20,000 fine he agreed to pay in exchange for avoiding a public hearing on ethics violations stemming from business pitches he and a member of his staff sent from his council email address. In the emails, sent to legal and lobbying firms in 2015 and 2018, Evans tried to leverage his connections and relationships made during his tenure as an elected official into a side job. The settlement allowed Evans to say publicly that he was not admitting to any wrongdoing and avoided what could have been a long hearing process. The agreement also states if Evans fails to hold up his end of the bargain, the city ethics board could seek maximum amount of the fine allowed under the law, $30,000.
November 13, 2015 •
National: Only Three States Score Higher Than D+ in State Integrity Investigation; 11 Flunk Center for Public Integrity – Nicholas Kusnetz | Published: 11/9/2015 A new report found that in state after state, open records statutes are filled with exemptions, and part-time legislators […]
Only Three States Score Higher Than D+ in State Integrity Investigation; 11 Flunk
Center for Public Integrity – Nicholas Kusnetz | Published: 11/9/2015
A new report found that in state after state, open records statutes are filled with exemptions, and part-time legislators and agency officials engage in conflicts-of-interest and close relationships with lobbyists while regulators struggle to enforce laws. The State Integrity Investigation measured hundreds of variables to compile transparency and accountability grades for all 50 states. The best grade in the nation, which went to Alaska, is just a “C.” Only two others earned better than a “D+”; 11 states received failing grades. Aside from a few exceptions, there has been little progress on these issues since the research was first carried out in 2012.
Donald Trump Advertises Rising Value of Free Political Publicity
New York Times – Ashley Parker | Published: 11/9/2015
Thirty-second television commercials were once signs of a confident, well-financed candidacy for the White House. Now they are seen as a last resort of struggling campaigns that have not mastered the art of attracting the free media coverage that has lifted the political fortunes of insurgent campaigns. Donald Trump’s ability to command media attention and reach voters without depleting his campaign funds is just the latest example of the way his campaign has upended the conventional approach candidates have used to communicate with voters. In addition to having done countless interviews, Trump, who recently hosted “Saturday Night Live,” has been effective in using social media to attack his rivals, and many of his controversial quips on Twitter are rebroadcast by traditional news media outlets.
Even as House Speaker, Paul Ryan Sleeps in His Office
New York Times – Jennifer Steinhauer | Published: 11/10/2015
Like scores of other members of Congress, most of them Republican, Speaker Paul Ryan chooses to bed down in a cot in his office every night the House is in session. He chooses this over the speaker’s official palatial suite in the Capitol, which Ryan has pointed out stinks thanks to smoke from its prior inhabitant, John Boehner. For the lawmakers, the choice is fiscal, practical, and political. Many say they find Washington rental prices too high. Others say it allows them to work longer hours. Still others, like Ryan, say Washington is simply not their home. Some groups and other members have criticized the arrangement as essentially taxpayer-subsidized housing.
G.O.P. Fight Now a Battle over What Defines a Conservative
New York Times – Jonathan Martin | Published: 11/11/2015
For months, the Republican presidential race has been animated by the party’s anger about the state of the country and an equally undefined hope that a candidate would emerge who could usher in an era of renewal. But the most recent debate and its aftermath marked an abrupt transition from vague promises about making America “great again,” in Donald Trump’s phrase, to a new season of the campaign shaped more by the policy fissures that are dividing Republicans over what exactly to do about the nation’s problems. It exposed a contentious dispute over what it means to be a conservative and offered a preview of the contours of the battle for the Republican nomination.
From the States and Municipalities:
California – Conflict Concerns Won’t Keep Ethics Panel Out of Race
San Diego Union-Tribune – David Garrick | Published: 11/10/2015
The San Diego Ethics Commission will continue enforcing local campaign laws in the race to succeed City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, denying a candidate request that the commission recuse itself based on a potential conflict-of-interest. Rafael Castellanos asked for the recusal because one of his opponents in the race, Gil Cabrera, was a commission member from 2005 to 2010 and worked as special counsel for the commission in 2012 and 2013. The agency’s general counsel downplayed the potential conflict, noting only one of the commission’s seven members remains from when Cabrera served and only two members were there when he worked as a special counsel.
California – Follow the Money: Shining a light on political nonprofits
Capitol Weekly – John Howard | Published: 11/11/2015
California’s Political Reform Act has been largely untouchable for more than 40 years, but now it may get a rewrite. The catalyst for change comes from a tangled trail of some $15 million in so-called dark money that flowed via nonprofits into the state’s 2012 elections final stages. Ultimately, the spending resulted in a $1 million fine. The proposed changes would create, for the first time, a constitutional right to regulate political money and force disclosure. It would require the disclosure of the source of donations of $10,000 or more to nonprofits, when the money is used for political purposes, make explicit who is paying for political ads, and it double the “revolving door” waiting period to two years. The proposal outlaws lobbyists’ gifts to elected officials, and cuts the maximum value of a gift from a member of the public, now $460 annually, to $200 a year.
California – Lobbyist Meetings Missing from San Jose Council Calendars
San Jose Mercury News – Ramona Giwargis | Published: 11/8/2015
Elected officials in San Jose are falling short when it comes to disclosing meetings with lobbyists. A review found the mayor and every city council member had contacts with lobbyists this year that were not disclosed on the officials’ public calendar. Local law requires lobbyists to file quarterly reports on their contacts with elected officials. The San Jose Mercury News said lobbyists reported 105 more such contacts this year than city officials did. Council members defended themselves by saying the undisclosed contacts were human error, they did not realize they were chatting with a lobbyist, or the contacts were unexpected run-ins or email communications the policy does not require them to report. Watchdogs say the discrepancy undermines the goals of transparency and deceives the public.
Florida – Hialeah Mayor Tries to Pay County’s $4K Ethics Fine in Pennies
Miami Herald – Brenda Medina | Published: 11/6/2015
Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez finally decided pay the $4,000 fine the Miami-Dade County ethics commission imposed earlier this year on his business dealings. Hernandez sent the commission a truck stacked with 28 buckets filled with pennies to cover the fine. But his payment was not accepted. Apparently, the commission accepts only checks. “I paid it with American money, of the United States, and I have the right to do that,” said Hernandez.
New Hampshire – G.O.P. Candidates, Lagging, Rely on New Hampshire to Get Close
New York Times – Jonathan Martin | Published: 11/8/2015
Some Republican candidates are staking their presidential bids on an idea that seems increasingly quaint: that campaigning one on one in this small state can set you on the path to becoming president. It is a notion that is facing a rigorous test this election cycle, as the large Republican field, social media, and televised debates that attract massive audiences have reshaped the race like never before. The outcome in New Hampshire will echo beyond this election and reveal much about how the country chooses presidents, and whether the tradition of direct voting in the first-in-the-nation primary matters anymore. Its possible diminishment is already unsettling residents, who view their role of scrutinizing and winnowing the field of candidates as a solemn duty.
New York – Legislation Introduced to Tighten New York City Campaign Finance Rules
New York Daily News – Erin Durkin | Published: 11/9/2015
A package of bills to tighten New York City’s campaign finance rules was introduced in the city council. One bill would ban candidates from getting matching funds for donations raised by fundraisers who do business with the city. The legislation would also ban all candidates, including those who are not taking matching funds, from accepting contribution from political committees that are not registered with the city. Another bill would restrict contributions from businesses with numerous limited liability companies.
Pennsylvania – Pennsylvania Ethics Officials Crack Down on Lobbyists
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review – Kari Andren | Published: 11/11/2015
The Pennsylvania Ethics Commission is ramping up enforcement against groups that fail to file mandated quarterly expense reports, and the state House has approved a bill to up the ante for non-compliance by lobbyists and the groups they represent by dramatically increasing penalties for not abiding by disclosure rules. Thirty-one groups were cited for failing to file expense reports this year; fines and penalties total about $90,300. In 2014, the commission issued just 15 citations. The House bill would hike the maximum penalty imposed from $50 per day to a tiered system of $50 for the first 10 days, $100 for each of the next 10 days, and $200 for each late day after 20 days.
Texas – Ethics Commission Recommends Controversial Lobbying Ordinance
Austin Monitor – Jack Craver | Published: 11/12/2015
The Ethics Review Commission recommend to the Austin City Council a resolution aimed at overhauling city lobbying rules. A revised draft crafted by a commission working group incorporated some of the concerns expressed by developers. Stuart Sampley, president of the Austin chapter of the American Institute of Architects, said the ordinance unfairly targeted development, design, and architectural professionals and misrepresented their day-to-day interactions with city officials as lobbying. The recommendations from the working group urged city staff to explore a number of potential negative effects of stricter lobbying requirements. Backers of the reform hope the measure will be on the agenda for council at its last meeting of the year on December 17.
Washington – Seattle’s Experiment with Campaign Funding
The Atlantic – Russell Berman | Published: 11/9/2015
Starting in 2017, Seattle residents will be able to contribute to local candidates without spending a dime of their own money. Instead, the government will send each registered voter four $25 vouchers that they can give to candidates of their choice. Candidates can opt out, but those who participate will have to abide by strict limits on spending and on receiving private donations. “The promise of vouchers is turning every single voter in the city into a donor,” said Alan Durning, the executive director of the Sightline Institute, a think tank and advocacy group that pushed for the new program. Critics have said the measure’s design will benefit incumbents and entrenched political organizations who do not need any extra boost.
Wisconsin – Senate GOP Votes to Overhaul Campaign Finance, Revamp Board
Albany Times Union – Todd Richmond (Associated Press) | Published: 11/7/2015
The Wisconsin Senate approved, with changes, a pair of bills altering the state’s campaign finance and election oversight rules. They will now return to the Assembly, which must approve the changes before sending the bills to Gov. Scott Walker. Republicans backing the proposals say they are necessary to bring the state’s statutes in line with court rulings and to protect First Amendment rights to free speech. Democrats argue the bills, along with one limiting the scope of crimes that can be investigated in so-called John Doe probes, would open the door for corruption and expand the influence of money in politics.
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.
November 11, 2015 •
Eleventh hour, of the Eleventh day, of the Eleventh month State and Federal Communications, Inc. wants to take the time out to celebrate the service of U.S. military veterans. On Nov. 11, 1918, the Allied nations and Germany came together to […]
Eleventh hour, of the Eleventh day, of the Eleventh month
State and Federal Communications, Inc. wants to take the time out to celebrate the service of U.S. military veterans.
On Nov. 11, 1918, the Allied nations and Germany came together to sign an armistice to end World War I. President Wilson was the first to declare November 11th as “Armistice Day” to honor those who died in the WWI.
After the casualties of World War II, the day was extended to celebrate all veterans. In 1954, Congress approved the bill to officially change it to “Veteran’s Day.”
In the words of President Wilson, “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”
To observe the holiday, State and Federal Communications will be closed Wednesday, Nov. 11th and will resume Thursday, Nov. 12.
November 4, 2015 •
State and Federal Communications, Inc. is the proud keynote speaker sponsor for the Washington Area State Relations Group (WASRG) Luncheon Symposium. WASRG is a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving government relations professionals. On Thursday, November 5, Nathan Gonzales, editor and […]
State and Federal Communications, Inc. is the proud keynote speaker sponsor for the Washington Area State Relations Group (WASRG) Luncheon Symposium. WASRG is a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving government relations professionals.
On Thursday, November 5, Nathan Gonzales, editor and publisher of The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report, will give his input about the political scene from a state and federal perspective. Gonzales has appeared on “NBC’s Meet the Press” and “NBC Nightly News.” The symposium will be held at Morton’s The Steakhouse from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
October 26, 2015 •
On Friday, October 30 State and Federal Communications is hosting its sixth annual Halloween Donut and Apple Cider sale. All proceeds will benefit the United Way of Summit County. Drop in and say hello from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and […]
On Friday, October 30 State and Federal Communications is hosting its sixth annual Halloween Donut and Apple Cider sale. All proceeds will benefit the United Way of Summit County.
Drop in and say hello from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and enjoy a delicious treat. We’ll be in the lobby of 80 South Summit St. in Downtown Akron, across from Quaker Square.
The Krispy Kreme donuts are $1.00 per donut or $7.00 per dozen. The apple cider will be $1.00 per cup or $8.00 per gallon.
To reserve your donuts, you can email Nicolette Koozer at email@example.com, or call us at 330-761-9960.
October 13, 2015 •
Elizabeth Bartz, president and CEO of State and Federal Communications, Inc., was invited to close out the last session for students in a five-week public affairs class at Kent State University. Bartz led a discussion of why it is so […]
Elizabeth Bartz, president and CEO of State and Federal Communications, Inc., was invited to close out the last session for students in a five-week public affairs class at Kent State University. Bartz led a discussion of why it is so important to understand state and federal laws when assisting clients and how it may affect decision-making. She encouraged the students to stay true to themselves and remember to remain ethical during those tough decisions.
The class is for students in The School of Journalism and Mass Communications (JMC) who have an interest in government relations. JMC Director Thor Wasbotten also had a chance to stop by.
September 25, 2015 •
Federal: ‘Lobbying’ Firm Raises More Questions than Answers The Hill – Megan Wilson | Published: 9/24/2015 The DG Group appears to have all the trappings of a Washington lobby firm. Featuring images of the Capitol dome and promises of inside access, its website […]
‘Lobbying’ Firm Raises More Questions than Answers The Hill – Megan Wilson | Published: 9/24/2015
The DG Group appears to have all the trappings of a Washington lobby firm. Featuring images of the Capitol dome and promises of inside access, its website advertises a “scalable lobbying and global advocacy consultancy firm” with a track record of success. But much of the site is phony. It uses text lifted from the BGR Group, the lobbying firm founded by former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. The DG Group origin statement includes a paragraph from the website of Mercury, a global public relations firm with a Washington office. Photographs of DG Group lobbyists appear to be taken from PR websites and stock-photo archives. One of the people pictured as part of the firm’s leadership is a professor at Duke University’s Divinity School. Another is a comedian based in San Diego.
Political Parties Go after Million-Dollar Donors in Wake of Looser Rules
Washington Post – Matea Gold and Tom Hamburger | Published: 9/19/2015
The Republican National Committee is asking donors for $1.34 million per couple this election cycle. Democratic contributors, meanwhile, are being hit up for even more, about $1.6 million per couple, to support the party’s convention and a separate joint fundraising effort between the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign. In return, elite donors are being promised perks such as exclusive retreats with top party leaders and VIP treatment at the nominating conventions. Just four years ago, the most a donor could give a national political party was $30,800. The dramatic rise has been driven by the U.S. Supreme Court’s McCutcheon decision that did away with a cap on how much a political donor could give in an election cycle, and an expansion of party fundraising tucked into a recent appropriations bill.
Scott Walker’s Demise Shows Limits of ‘Super PAC’ Money Model
New York Times – Nicholas Confessore | Published: 9/22/2015
The super PAC backing Scott Walker was on pace to raise as much as $40 million by the end of the year, but Walker abruptly ended his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination largely because he was out of cash. His withdrawal from the GOP primary, like that of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, highlights the limitations of the new fundraising model. Super PACs cannot pay rent, phone bills, salaries, or ballot access fees. They are not entitled to the preferential rates on advertising that federal law grants candidates, forcing them to pay far more money than candidates must for the same television and radio time. The fates of Walker and Perry hint at the systemic dangers of the super PAC-driven financial model on which virtually the entire Republican field has staked its chances.
From the States and Municipalities:
California – State Panel Outlaws ‘Dark Money’ in California Political Campaigns
Los Angeles Times – Patrick McGreevy | Published: 9/17/2015
The California Fair Political Practices Commission will now require out-of-state nonprofits to disclose their donors when they oppose or support a ballot measure or candidate through a federal PAC. The move came in the wake of fines levied against two Arizona nonprofits after they refused to reveal their donors behind two campaigns. The commission also voted to improve its program that identifies the top ten contributors to ballot measures on the its website. If one of the top ten donors is a group with a generic name that does not indicate who is behind it, the new rules would require it to disclose its top two contributors.
Colorado – Denver Gives Red light to Inspectors Consulting for Marijuana Industry
Denver Post – Jon Murray | Published: 9/23/2015
City inspectors for marijuana licensing in Denver asked the Board of Ethics for its blessing to work as paid consultants to the cannabis industry elsewhere. The board’s answer was a resounding no. Its advisory opinion cites concerns about potential conflicts-of-interest and bad appearances, saying such work would violate the city’s ethics code. Legislation passed this year soon will bar any work or consulting for the marijuana industry until six months after an employee has left his or her state job. The inspectors’ request reflects some remaining uncertainty as Denver and Colorado traverse the new landscape of legal recreational marijuana.
Florida – Corcoran Lobbies for Lobbyist Rules
Lakeland Ledger – Lloyd Dunkelberger | Published: 9/20/2015
Republicans elected Rep. Richard Corcoran as the next speaker of the Florida House, and he immediately laid out the most ambitious set of lobbying reforms that the state capital has seen in a decade. Corcoran, whose brother, Michael, is a prominent Capitol lobbyist, said the public is fed up with how money and political backscratching is controlling the agenda from Washington to Tallahassee. “The enemy is not the special interests; the enemy is not the press; the enemy is not any of that stuff. The enemy has always been and will always be us,” Corcoran told House members.
Kentucky – GOP State Senator Suing to Overturn Kentucky Laws Limiting Campaign Donations
Lexington Herald-Leader – John Cheves | Published: 9/23/2015
Kentucky Sen. John Schickel and two Libertarian candidates are suing to overturn state laws limiting campaign donations to $1,000 and prohibiting gifts to legislators from lobbyists. They also want the court to strike down rules prohibiting lobbyists from donating money to legislators or legislative candidates and that bar the employers of lobbyists from contributing while the General Assembly is in session. They say the laws violate their constitutional rights to free speech and equal protection by restricting their access to people who want to help them. But state regulators say the laws are meant to prevent bribery at the Capitol. Most were enacted after Operation BOPTROT, an FBI investigation in 1992 that exposed 15 current or former legislators who sold their votes.
Michigan – Kilpatrick Pal Gets 11 Years in City Pension Scandal
Detroit News – Robert Snell | Published: 9/21/2015
Former Detroit Treasurer Jeffrey Beasley was sentenced to 11 years in prison for taking bribes and kickbacks in a scheme that cost the city’s pension funds $97 million in losses. Beasley, who was Kwame Kilpatrick’s fraternity brother and a pension trustee while his friend was mayor, received the third-longest sentence of anyone targeted in the FBI’s decade-long corruption probe that netted 38 convictions. Beasley and Kilpatrick were both trustees to the pension funds. The federal government says the pair accepted lavish gifts – including private jet travel, trips and golf outings – from an investment adviser to the city’s pension funds in exchange for favoritism before the pension board.
Missouri – Missouri Legislators Serve Hors d’Oeuvres, Lobbyists Pass the Envelopes
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Kevin McDermott | Published: 9/20/2015
On the eve of the one-day veto session of the Missouri Legislature, and for a few hours on the morning of the session, about 60 of lawmakers hosted or co-hosted 18 separate campaign fundraising events in Jefferson City. The attendees are not charged admission or a per-plate fee. Rather, they hand over checks at their own discretion as they enter. Most are lobbyists representing special interests whose fates the lawmakers can decide with their votes. “At the end of the day, checks are going to come in either way; this is a just a chance that they get to hand it to us instead of putting it in a P.O. Box. Everybody does it,” said Rep. Caleb Rowden.
New York – William Boyland Jr., Ex-New York Assemblyman, Gets 14-Year Sentence for Corruption
New York Times – Nicholas Casey | Published: 9/17/2015
Former New York Assemblyperson William Boyland, Jr. was sentenced to 14 years in prison and ordered to pay more than $325,000 for using his public post for personal gain. He was arrested in 2011, weeks after being acquitted in an unrelated bribery case, and charged with accepting bribes in exchange for political favors during a five-year period starting in 2007. In one instance, the authorities said at trial, Boyland funneled $200,000 of public money for the elderly to a nonprofit organization that he controlled and used the money to pay for events promoting his campaign, such as a boat cruise and “Team Boyland” T-shirts. He was also convicted of seeking reimbursement for more than $70,000 in false travel expenses.
Ohio – Disclosure Rules for Gifts Vague for Ohio’s Local Politicians
Columbus Dispatch – Lucas Sullivan | Published: 9/21/2015
Ethics has become a top issue in the races for Columbus City Council and mayor. The FBI is investigating the city’s red-light-camera contracts, and Councilperson Michelle Mills stepped down unexpectedly after questions were raised about the trip she and three other council members took with lobbyist John Raphael last year to the Big Ten championship football game. A Columbus Dispatch review found the disclosure rules for Ohio’s elected officials at the municipal level are vague and do not require complete disclosure. For example, unlike at the state level, lobbyists do not have to disclose their financial activity at the municipal level.
Ohio – Ohio Judge Loses Fundraising Challenge
Courthouse News Service – Lorraine Bailey | Published: 9/21/2015
An appeals court ruled the strict limitations that state judges in Ohio face on campaign fundraising do not violate the First Amendment. Colleen O’Toole is a candidate in the 2016 Ohio Supreme Court election. Her campaign claimed the state Code of Judicial Conduct was doing its best to keep her campaign grounded by prohibiting judicial candidates from personally soliciting campaign contributions unless they are speaking to a general audience of at least 20 people, and by making candidates legally responsible for the actions of their campaign committees, along with other restrictions. Sitting Ohio Supreme Court judges may have campaign funds left over from a prior judicial race that they can use to support their candidacy at any time, O’Toole said. But the appeals court affirmed the code of conduct, and held the rules are not the cause of the disparity that O’Toole’s campaign committee complains of.
Pennsylvania – Donations by Philly Sheriff’s Top OT Earners Raise Eyebrows
Philadelphia Inquirer – Claudia Vargas | Published: 9/20/2015
Nearly all the top recent earners of overtime in Philadelphia Sheriff Jewell Williams’ office had donated to his campaign fund. Williams said the contributions, typically $100 or $125 a year, reflected employees’ satisfaction with his work. In the fiscal year that ended June 30, records show 21 deputies with salaries anywhere from $58,000 to $76,000 earned enough overtime to boost their pay well into six figures. Most deputies who received little or no overtime in the most recent fiscal year did not donate to the campaign fund. Williams’ chief finance officer, Benjamin Hayllar, said: “There’s no quid pro quo here.”
Pennsylvania – Pa. Supreme Court Suspends Kane’s License
Philadelphia Inquirer – Angela Couloumbis and Craig McCoy | Published: 9/21/2015
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered the suspension of the law license of state Attorney General Kathleen Kane, a step that could set up a Senate vote to remove her as she faces criminal charges. The unanimous order by the court could also prompt a legal challenge from Kane. In the meantime, the order has created the complication of leaving the state’s top law enforcement official, who is in charge of a 750-employee office and a $93 million budget, without the ability to act as a lawyer, at least temporarily. The order came after Montgomery County authorities arrested Kane on accusations she had leaked secret investigative information to a newspaper reporter and then lied about it under oath. She was charged with perjury, obstruction, and other counts.
Washington – State’s Disclosure Commission Names Tacoma Lawyer as New Director
Everett Herald – Jerry Cornfield | Published: 9/23/2015
Evelyn Lopez was chosen as the new executive director of the Washington Public Disclosure Commission. Lopez, a former assistant state attorney general, will take the helm as the commission looks to upgrade its technology to make it easier for the public to track the flow of money in campaigns through the agency’s online database. Lopez did not reveal any initiatives she wants to launch immediately but said there are a lot of issues out there related to the financing of campaigns. “If you’re a politician and you’re asking people to give you their hard earned money, you’ve got to be honest about how it is used; I am absolutely committed to open government and an informed electorate,” Lopez said.
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.
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.