News You Can Use Digest - April 16, 2021 - State and Federal Communications

April 16, 2021  •  

News You Can Use Digest – April 16, 2021


Asian American Super PAC Launches Operation to Improve Understanding of Fastest-Growing Electorate
MSN – Colby Itkowitz and Amy Wang (Washington Post) | Published: 4/11/2021

The AAPI Victory Fund super PAC, the top political organization representing Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, announced the creation of a new nonprofit group aimed at developing a greater understanding of the nuanced population that has long been excluded from conversations about issues such as racial justice, economic disparity, and politics generally. But the coronavirus pandemic brought those issues to the forefront for Asian Americans, who have been subjected to racist slurs, perpetrated by former President Trump and other Republicans using derogatory and stigmatizing terms to describe the virus, such as the “Wuhan flu.”

Dem Pollsters Acknowledge ‘Major Errors’ in 2020 Polling
Politico – Steven Shepard | Published: 4/13/2021

A group of top Democratic Party pollsters acknowledged “major errors” in their 2020 polling –errors that left party officials stunned by election results that failed to come close to expectations in November. Five of the party’s biggest polling firms have spent the past few months working together to explore what went wrong last year and how it can be fixed. It is part of an effort to understand why, despite data showing Joe Biden well ahead of then-President Trump, and Democrats poised to increase their House majority, the party won the presidency, the Senate, and House by narrow margins.

Democrats Look to Boost Campaign Staff Diversity Ahead of Midterms
MSN – Bridget Bowman (Roll Call) | Published: 4/8/2021

Ensuring campaign staff and consultants are from a mix of races, ethnicities, genders, and sexualities has been a persistent problem for a Democratic Party that relies on a diverse coalition of voters to win elections, campaign operatives said in interviews. The dearth of diverse campaign staffers also affects Capitol Hill since operatives often transition to a lawmaker’s office after a successful campaign. Democrats are particularly concerned about a lack of staff diversity ahead of the midterms next year, when they will be defending razor-thin majorities in the House and Senate.

Ethics Panel Upholds Metal Detector Fines Totaling $15K Against Rep. Clyde
The Hill – Chriatina Marcos | Published: 4/12/2021

The House Committee on Ethics upheld two fines worth a total of $15,000 against U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde for failing to comply with security screenings to enter the House chamber. In his appeal, Clyde did not deny he evaded the metal detectors stationed outside the chamber as a security measure established in the aftermath of the January 6 insurrection. Instead, he maintained the fines are unconstitutional, arguing in part it violates the 27th Amendment that prohibits any law that changes lawmakers’ salaries before their next terms in office and have been selectively enforced. Clyde said he plans to challenge the fines in federal court.

Gaetz Faces House Ethics Probe; Federal Investigation Widens
Associated Press News – Eric Tucker, Michael Balsamo, and Lisa Mascaro | Published: 4/10/2021

The House Committee on Ethics announced an investigation into U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz as federal prosecutors probing sex trafficking allegations against him are also scrutinizing the actions of some of his political allies and fellow Florida Republicans as part of a broader public corruption inquiry. The FBI’s examination of a wide range of topics involving Gaetz and his associates exemplifies the breadth of the investigation. Gaetz, who has vehemently denied any wrongdoing, has retained two prominent attorneys while facing a Justice Department investigation into sex trafficking allegations involving underage girls.

How the Corporate Backlash to Georgia’s New Voting Law is Shaping Other Fights Around the Country Over Access to the Polls
MSN – Amy Gardner and Mike DeBonis (Washington Post) | Published: 4/11/2021

The conflagration in Georgia has spread into other states such as Texas, Florida, Michigan, and Arizona, where both business interests and voting rights activists buoyed by newfound momentum are rethinking how to challenge Republican-backed voting measures. More than 100 chief executives and corporate leaders took part in a recent online meeting to discuss ways to oppose state voting bills being considered across the country. Advocates hope to capitalize on the moment by not only blocking voting restrictions being considered in the states, but also building support for federal legislation that would enshrine new voting rights nationally.

NRCC Warns Donors Trump Will Find Out If They Opt Out of Monthly Donations
MSN – Colby Itkowitz (Washington Post) | Published: 4/8/2021

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) threatened donors it will tell former President Trump they are defectors if they opt out of giving recurring monthly funds to the campaign arm for the House GOP. After donating to the NRCC, donors are shown a yellow box with a small pre-checked box that warns: “If you UNCHECK this box, we will have to tell Trump you’re a DEFECTOR.” Left checked and the supporter will be agreeing to contribute every month. The tactic, criticized by campaign finance experts as deceptive, was also employed by the Trump campaign from September until the 2020 election to shore up its dwindling coffers.

Stinging Report Raises New Questions About Capitol Security
ABC News – Mary Clare Jalonick (Associated Press) | Published: 4/14/2021

As Congress pushes for a return to normalcy months after the riot at the Capitol, a damning internal report about the deadly siege is painting a dire picture of the Capitol Police’s ability to respond to threats against lawmakers. The full report casts serious doubt on whether the police would be able to respond to another large-scale attack. The Capitol Police said in a statement the siege was “a pivotal moment” in history that showed the need for “major changes” in how the department operates, but it was “important to note that nearly all of the recommendations require significant resources the department does not have.”

Top Bidder for Tribune Newspapers Is an Influential Liberal Donor
New York Times – Kenneth Vogel and Katie Benner | Published: 4/13/2021

Before he emerged as a potential champion of journalism with his bid for Tribune Publishing, the Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss created a political operation to advance progressive policy initiatives and the Democrats who support them. The Hub Project was started by one of Wyss’s charitable organizations partly to shape media coverage to help Democratic causes. Wyss and his charitable foundation are not mentioned on The Hub Project’s website, and his role in its creation has not been previously reported. As a newspaper publisher, Wyss would be in a role very different from that of a behind-the-scenes backer of progressive causes.

UK Lobbying Scandal Snares Ex-PM Cameron; Govt Starts Probe
Associated Press News – Danica Kirka | Published: 4/12/2021

The controversy over former British Prime Minister David Cameron’s lobbying on behalf of a now-bankrupt financial services firm deepened as the government launched an investigation that opponents immediately labeled a “cover-up.” The Conservative government announced plans for an independent inquiry into Greensill Capital after Cameron made his first comments on the scandal and two senior politicians called for new rules on contacts between business representatives and government officials. News reports revealed Cameron lobbied government officials on behalf of Greensill, which collapsed recently.


Canada Complaint Filed Against Lobbyist for Ontario Developers
Canada’s National Observer – Steve Buist and Emma McIntosh | Published: 4/13/2021

A former Member of Parliament (MP) working for developers who could benefit if Highway 413 is built violated Ontario’s lobbying law, alleges a complaint by a watchdog group. Democracy Watch alleges former MP Peter Van Loan’s lobbying of Premier Doug Ford and Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney created a conflict-of-interest. Van Loan was chair of Mulroney’s unsuccessful campaign for the leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservative (PC) Party. He is also a former president of the Ontario PC Party. Van Loan said he violated no rules and represents his clients as a lawyer.

From the States and Municipalities

Arizona GOP Secretary of State Candidate Finchem Accused of Breaking Campaign Finance Law
Arizona Miror – Jerod MacDonald-Evoy | Published: 4/14/2021

A watchdog group accused state Rep. Mark Finchem of violating Arizona campaign finance law by asking supporters to donate to his personal PayPal and Venmo accounts to pay the expenses for an election event. Finchem asked his followers on the social media platform Gab and encrypted messaging platform Telegram to donate to a PayPal account, which Finchem said was for the Make Arizona Safe Again PAC. Finchem is running for secretary of state in 2022, which would make him the top elections official in Arizona.

California California Politicians Owe $2 Million in Campaign Fines, Don’t Get Punished
CalMatters – Laurel Rosenhall | Published: 4/14/2021

California has failed to collect $2 million in fines on a range of political players who filed late disclosure reports. The fines are owed by 26 state lawmakers and 21 Superior Court judges, as well as lobbyists, former legislators, losing candidates, ballot measure campaigns, Democratic and Republican clubs, and corporate and labor-backed PACs. About 300 of the penalties are less than $100, reflecting paperwork filed a few days late. But 45 of the fines are more than $10,000, and some are for violations more than a decade ago, raising questions about whether California is effectively enforcing its campaign finance law that is meant to promote transparency and prevent corruption.

Florida Naples Ethics Commission Selects Miami-Dade Advocate as First Executive Director
MSN – Brittany Carloni (Naples Daily News) | Published: 4/14/2021

The Naples Ethics Commission selected the person it hopes to serve as the board’s first executive director. Commissioners chose to begin contract negotiations with Michael Murawski, the advocate in the enforcement unit for the Miami-Dade County Commission on Ethics and Public Trust. Murawski said he hopes to start in the new role by June 1. Sixty-two percent of voters in Naples approved a referendum last August that amended the city’s charter to establish an independent Ethics Commission and an Ethics Office and to set minimum requirements for the city’s ethics code.

Florida Records Show Former Florida Tax Collector Joel Greenberg Doled Out Contracts to Politicians, Strategists Tied to Figures in State’s Political Scandals
MSN – Jason Garcia and Annie Martin (Orlando Sentinel) | Published: 4/13/2021

Records depict a Seminole County Tax Collector’s Office that, under Joel Greenberg, turned into a source of money for people either personally close to Greenberg or plugged into Republican politics. Auditors hired to probe Greenberg’s spending after he resigned last year found ample evidence of potential “misuse of taxpayer dollars” and a series of vague consulting contracts for which they found no evidence of work. The records also provide further details of Greenberg’s friendships with two figures buffeted by the controversies: U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz and lobbyist Chris Dorworth. Greenberg told authorities he and Gaetz “had encounters with women who were given cash or gifts in exchange for sex,” according to media reports.

Florida Search Warrant: Former Florida state senator had paperwork for no-party candidate in second Miami state Senate race
MSN – Samantha Gross and Ana Ceballos (Miami Herald) | Published: 4/8/2021

Former Florida Sen. Frank Artiles was in possession of campaign documents of two spoiler no-party candidates who ran in separate, competitive Miami-Dade County Senate races in 2020, according to a search warrant. Artiles is facing felony campaign finance related charges in connection with recruiting and paying an alleged spoiler candidate with the goal of swaying the Senate District 37 race. The 2020 election cycle drew three mysterious no-party candidates in contentious Senate races all won by Republicans. The candidates did no independent campaigning, had little to no public profiles, and their candidacies were all bolstered by similarly designed political mail advertisements that were paid for by $550,000 in untraceable funds.

Florida Tampa Mayor Jane Castor Says Related Deal Doesn’t Contain Personal Conflicts.
MSN – Charlie Fargo (Tampa Bay Times) | Published: 4/14/2021

A lucrative preliminary selection for the development of a prime parcel in Tampa had family ties to Mayor Jane Castor. Her nephew, Alex Castor, works for Related, the firm that won the initial nod to develop the 18-acres. And her partner, Ana Cruz, works as a lobbyist for Ballard Partners, a powerful national firm with offices in Tampa. Ballard was working for Related during the request-for-proposal process that ended in March. Jane Castor said Ballard’s participation in the process was above board and she said it did not have any impact on Related’s preliminary selection out of six finalists.

Hawaii City Permits Employee Pleads Guilty to Accepting Bribe to Expedite Project
Honolulu Civil Beat – Christina Jedra | Published: 4/7/2021

A Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP) employee pleaded guilty to taking a bribe to expedite a local architect’s projects. Kanani Padeken, a building plans examiner, was one of five current and former DPP employees charged in a federal corruption probe. She pleaded guilty to honest services wire fraud in connection with her acceptance of at least $28,000 from architect William Wong between 2017 and 2020.

Hawaii Ethics Board OKs Richards’ Vote: Councilman allowed to vote on Rodenhurst confirmation despite serving as a reference
West Hawaii Today – Nancy Cook Lauer | Published: 4/12/2021

It is not a violation of the ethics code for a Hawaii County Council member to serve as a reference for someone seeking a county job and then voting on that person’s confirmation, the Board of Ethics ruled. At issue was Councilperson Tim Richards’ endorsement of Public Works Director Ikaika Rodenhurst after being named in his official capacity as a reference for the position on Rodenhurst’s resume. A complaint asked the board to invalidate the vote that confirmed Rodenhurst because Richards did not recuse himself. Had Richards done so, Rodenhurst’s confirmation to the $132,577 position would have failed.

Illinois Ethics Board Reduces Campaign Finance Fine Levied Against Ald. Austin From $145K to $5K
WTTW – Heather Cerone | Published: 4/12/2021

In January, the Chicago Board of Ethics voted to fine Ald. Carrie Austin $145,000 for accepting excessive campaign contributions. It was the first time the board levied the maximum fine allowed for violations of the city’s campaign finance law – three times the amount of the improper donations. The improper contribution was made by Benchmark Construction. The board fined the firm $5,000. The ethics board recently agreed to reduce Austin’s penalty to $5,000. Steve Berlin, executive director of the Board of Ethics, said the agency decided to reduce the fine by more than 96 percent “after considering the equities of the situation.”

Illinois Longtime Precinct Captain for Indicted Ald. Edward Burke Pleads Guilty to Deceiving FBI in Corruption Probe
MSN – Jason Meisner (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 4/13/2021

A longtime Chicago fire inspector and 14th Ward precinct captain, Rudy Acosta watched as a succession of his political mentors were hit with federal charges, including Ald. Fred Roti, the mob-connected leader of the old 1st Ward who went to prison for bribery and current Ald. Edward Burke, who is awaiting trial on racketeering charges. But it was Acosta’s work as a liaison for corrupt former Illinois Sen. Martin Sandoval that finally landed him in trouble. Acosta pleaded guilty to misleading the FBI in a series of interviews about its investigation into Sandoval and other elected officials.

Kansas Kansas Fight Shows How Election ‘Reforms’ May Favor One Side
Associated Press News – John Hanna and Andy Tsubasa Field | Published: 4/14/2021

Charley Crabtree was looking to help voters in nursing homes get absentee ballots delivered on time last year, so he picked up about 75 from at least 10 locations in his hometown of Lawrence. Republicans who control the Kansas Legislature want to make what he did a crime punishable by up to six months in jail. Republican lawmakers said they are protecting the integrity of the state’s elections by making it less likely that ballots will go missing or get altered. Democrats describe the measure that cleared the Legislature as an attack on get-out-the-vote efforts helping elderly, disabled, and poor voters.

Kansas Records: Kansas lawmaker’s blood alcohol twice legal limit
Associated Press News – Margaret Stafford | Published: 4/8/2021

A powerful Kansas lawmaker accused of drunken driving had a blood alcohol level that was twice the legal limit and taunted the Highway Patrol officer who arrested him for allegedly speeding the wrong way on an interstate. Senate Majority Leader Gene Suellentrop faces five counts, including a felony fleeing to avoid arrest and a misdemeanor driving under the influence charge. Suellentrop refused to take a breathalyzer test and was taken to a Topeka hospital. At one point, he called the arresting officer “donut boy,” according to the affidavit, and said the events were “all for going the wrong way.”

Massachusetts A Senator Donated $137,000 to the State GOP. The Party Then Spent That Same Amount Aiding His Wife’s Campaign
MSN – Matt Stout (Boston Globe) | Published: 4/9/2021

State Sen. Ryan Fattman last year donated $137,000 to the Massachusetts Republican Party. The party then spent similar amounts helping another candidate: the senator’s wife. There are no limits on what the senator can donate to the party, or what the party can spend in helping another candidate. But the donations fall within the time frame in which state regulators say the Fattmans and others may have violated campaign finance laws, including those barring people from disguising the true source of money. Ryan Fattman also may have broken a rule that says candidates cannot make contributions to a political committee “on the condition or with the agreement or understanding” that the funds must then be sent to someone else.

Missouri Missouri GOP State Lawmaker Rick Roeber Resigns Amid Allegations He Abused His Children
Yahoo News – Austin Huguelet (Springfield News-Leader) | Published: 4/13/2021

A Missouri lawmaker accused of sexually and physically abusing his children they were younger submitted his resignation. State Rep. Rick Roeber said he is leaving because he and his fiancée are preparing to move out of state to be closer to their extended families, including his ailing mother. Roeber’s announcement came as fellow lawmakers investigating the allegations against him appeared close to publishing damaging conclusions. Republican leaders, including the ethics panel chair, told the Jackson County prosecutor they had “information that needs to be forwarded to the proper authorities in your jurisdiction.” They also expressed concerns about the safety of a minor who regularly interacts with Roeber.

Montana House Endorses Repeal of PAC Money Limits for Legislative Candidates
Helena Independent Record – Sam Wilson | Published: 4/14/2021

Montana would lose its status as arguably the nation’s most restrictive when it comes to campaign finance limits under a bill that passed a preliminary vote in the House. Senate Bill 224 would substantially hike maximum contributions from individuals and political committees to candidates for legislative and statewide offices, while eliminating limits on some campaign contributions and raising the threshold for which a contribution must be reported to the Commissioner of Political Practices.

Montana State Supreme Court Quashes GOP Subpoena Seeking Internal Judiciary Emails
Missoula Current – Mike Dennison (MTN News) | Published: 4/12/2021

In an escalating political battle between Republican leadership at the Legislature and the state’s judiciary, the Montana Supreme Court quashed a subpoena that lawmakers used to obtain a cache of internal e-mails from the judiciary. The high court blocked any further release of the e-mails until it could rule on whether the legislative subpoena is proper. The subpoena is the latest twist in Republican efforts alleging some Montana judges are improperly taking sides on political issues, including a new law that gives Gov. Greg Gianforte more power to appoint judges.

New Jersey ‘It’s Probably the Worst Day of My Life.’ Law Partner of Informant in N.J. Corruption Sting Pleads Guilty.
MSN – Ted Sherman (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 4/13/2021

An attorney at the center of a straw donor scheme that helped steer taxpayer dollars toward a now-shuttered law firm pleaded guilty to tampering with public records. Elizabeth Valandingham admitted she submitted fake proposals for government contracts and falsified campaign finance reports to further the scheme. Valandingham must forfeit her law license, pay a $75,000 penalty, and will be disbarred from any public contracts for 10 years. Valandingham and an unnamed co-conspirator recruited family members and friends to act as straw donors, giving political donations in towns where the firm sought contracts. Valandingham and her co-conspirator then illegally refunded the donations.

New Jersey Plan to Improve Legislators Financial Disclosure Now Stalled for Nearly 15 Months
New Jersey Globe – Nikita Biryukov | Published: 4/10/2021

A plan to update financial disclosures filed by New Jersey lawmakers remains stalled nearly 15 months after Senate President Steve Sweeney announced plans to raise income reporting thresholds. Lawmakers are required to disclose their finances under the legislative code of ethics, not by statute. While state law requires the Legislature adopt a code of ethics, it does not specify that code include provisions on financial disclosure. It is not clear that legislators are willing approve new disclosure rules before filings for 2020 come due on May 15.

New Mexico Gov.’s Campaign Settles with Ex-Spokesman
Yahoo News – Dan McKay and Dan Boyd (Albuquerque Journal) | Published: 4/13/2021

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s gubernatorial campaign paid at least $62,500 as part of a settlement with a former staff member, James Halloran, who accused her of sexual mistreatment during a staff meeting. The five monthly payments of $12,500 are outlined in a campaign finance report filed by Lujan Grisham’s campaign. They are listed as legal expenses, with one payment a month from November through March.

New York Andrew Yang’s Mayoral Campaign Is Being Run by a Lobbying Firm
City & State New York – Jeff Colton | Published: 4/14/2021

Tusk Strategies, a lobbying firm that is regularly hired by clients to advocate on issues being considered by elected officials in New York, is providing staff members for Andrew Yang’s bid to become the city’s next mayor. Other leading mayoral clients also have registered lobbyists consulting on their campaigns. Up until now, Yang’s mayoral campaign has been fully funded by private donors. But he has opted into the city’s public matching funds program, and the Campaign Finance Board is expected to approve a payment of more than $4 million in public funds to Yang, money that would help pay for Tusk Strategies’ services.

New York ‘Bond Girl’ Talk and Groping: Albany’s toxic culture for women
New York Times – Sydney Ember, J. David Goodman, and Luis Ferré-Sadurni | Published: 4/12/2021

Sexual misconduct is a defining part of the culture of government in Albany, and so endemic it has continued even after scandals took down a governor, Eliot Spitzer, and several members of the state Assembly. It has been thrown into sharp relief by allegations against Gov. Andrew Cuomo from multiple current and former aides who have accused him of sexual harassment and, in one case, groping during an encounter in the Executive Mansion. Yet the allegations, which Cuomo has denied, also suggest a new generation of women in Albany will not remain silent or tolerate behaviors that many men there saw as normal.

New York Cuomo, Top Aides Worked on COVID Book Alongside Publisher’s Reps at Executive Mansion
MSN – Jon Campbell and Joseph Spector (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle) | Published: 4/14/2021

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo gathered his inner circle at the Executive Mansion on two occasions last summer to critique and fact-check the manuscript of what would become the governor’s best-selling book, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons Learned for the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Cuomo at one point had his top aides and advisers work alongside two representatives of The Crown Publishing Group, his publisher, according to sources. Cuomo received approval from ethics regulators to pursue the book but it was contingent on the governor not using state resources or personnel on the project, which would be a violation of state Public Officers Law.

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Government Staff Did Work on ‘Super PAC’s’ Poll
Finger Lakes Times – Chris Bragg (Albany Times Union) | Published: 4/12/2021

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s recent book deal is not the only instance where his office mixed private activities and government staff. Emails show in 2019, Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, did work related to campaign polling in the early morning and stretching into the afternoon of a Tuesday. She also instructed lower-level staff to perform a task related to the poll. A 1992 ethics opinion said campaigns must be run on an employee’s own time and no state resources of any kind can be used in the furtherance of the campaign. In this instance, Cuomo’s staff work was related to an outside campaign spending group, which was using the Cuomo campaign’s own pollster.

Ohio Anti-Riot or Anti-Protest? Four Ohio Bills Would Stiffen Penalties for Demonstrators
MSN – Anna Staver (Columbus Dispatch) | Published: 4/12/2021

The protests around Ohio last year were organized because people wanted change, especially in policing procedures, from their elected officials. But bills introduced by Republicans were not what they had in mind. These bills would increase the number of arrestable offenses at protests and enhance penalties for crimes committed during demonstrations that turn violent. Supporters of the four bills say the changes are necessary to protect first responders and peaceful protesters from “the lawlessness” of last summer’s demonstrations. Opponents describe them as photocopies of bills from other states and claim their true purpose is to intimidate people who protest controversial issues like police misconduct.

Ohio Ohio Elections Commission Votes to Prosecute Newburgh Heights Mayor Over Campaign-Finance Violations
MSN – Andrew Tobias (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 4/8/2021

The Ohio Elections Commission voted to refer Newburgh Heights Mayor Trevor Elkins for prosecution over his misuse of roughly $134,000 in campaign funds to cover his personal expenses. Commissioners said they needed to make a tough statement on what they viewed as a precedent-setting case. The commission also voted to fine Elkins’ campaign $5,000 and to impose a $500 fine on his campaign treasurer, Bernadette Weaver.

Ohio Shontel Brown Approved Major Contract, Then Contractor Backed Her Campaign
The Intercept – Matthew Cunningham-Cook and Sam Allard | Published: 4/14/2021

When Shontel Boyd was running for her seat on Cuyahoga County Council in 2014, she responded to questions about her links to the family of a major contractor by promising to “recuse herself from county contracts with ties to Mark Perkins as necessary.” Perkins, Brown’s partner, has longstanding ties to the general contractor Perk. But Brown in 2017 voted to give a $7 million contract to Perk. One of the firm’s owners then helped organize a fundraiser that bankrolled a significant portion of her reelection campaign. In total, she has approved more than $17 million to Perk and has received $13,000 in campaign donations from the Perkins family and Perk’s current owners, the Cifani family.

Texas As Legislator and Real Estate Mogul, Gates Seeks to Disband Management Districts
Houston Chronicle – Jasper Scherer | Published: 4/13/2021

Before state Rep. Gary Gates was elected to the Texas House, the real estate executive launched a petition drive to disband the Southwest Management District, one of 39 special districts across Houston that collect taxes from commercial property owners to fund extra police patrols, sidewalk improvements, and other local services. He filed a bill that would make it easier to dissolve most management districts, including two he has targeted. Legislators commonly have a hand in bills that affect their livelihoods, but they rarely are reprimanded for doing so, said Andrew Cates, an expert in Texas ethics laws.

Utah Utah Lawyer Calls State Bar Membership Unconstitutional
Courthouse News Service – Amanda Pampuro | Published: 4/13/2021

Utah lawyer Amy Pomeroy sued the state bar association, claiming it spent mandatory dues on political and ideological speech she disagrees with in violation of her First and 14th Amendment rights. The Utah State Bar mandates membership to practice law. Annual fees cost $425 plus a contribution to the “client security fund.” The bar currently allows members to apply for a rebate of their dues if they do not wish to fund lobbying efforts for public policy issues, but Pomeroy claimed the links she was provided with were dead ends. Pomeroy contends the state bar does readily provide information on what portion of the funds are spent on lobbying efforts and for what causes.

Washington DC How White Fears of ‘Negro Domination’ Kept D.C. Disenfranchised for Decades
Washington Post – Meagan Flynn | Published: 4/14/2021

Historians released a report describing how race played a role in decisions to continue disenfranchising District of Columbia residents for decades. The report, “Democracy Deferred: Race, Politics, and D.C.’s Two-Century Struggle for Full Voting Rights,” brings to the surface a trove of overtly racist ideas about the city’s incapability to govern itself dating from Reconstruction, when Black men gained the right to vote, through the civil rights movement, when it finally won limited home rule. At the heart of the resistance to granting suffrage was a fear of Black political power.

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