News You Can Use Digest - August 6, 2021 - State and Federal Communications

August 6, 2021  •  

News You Can Use Digest – August 6, 2021


$5,800 Bottle of Whiskey, a Gift from Japan to Pompeo, Is Missing, U.S. Says
Seattle Times – Michael Schmidt (New York Times) | Published: 8/4/2021

The State Department is investigating the whereabouts of a $5,800 bottle of whiskey the Japanese government gave to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in 2019. It was unclear whether Pompeo ever received the gift, as he was traveling in Saudi Arabia on the day Japanese officials gave it to the State Department. American officials can keep gifts that are less than $390. But if the officials want to keep gifts that are over that price, they must purchase them.

CNN’s Cuomo Conundrum: A star anchor with a brother in trouble
Yahoo News – Michael Grynbaum (New York Times) | Published: 8/4/2021

Earlier this year, CNN executives told Chris Cuomo that if he wanted to formally advise his brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, on responding to the sexual harassment accusations, he could take a temporary leave from CNN and return to later. The idea was optional and intended as an acknowledgment of Chris Cuomo’s unique position as both a prime-time network anchor and the brother of a prominent politician facing a scandal. It underlines the conundrum for a network whose top-rated anchor belongs to one of the country’s most powerful families, and the lengths that CNN has gone to accommodate Chris Cuomo, even as he had to apologize for participating in strategy sessions with Gov. Cuomo’s aides.

Facebook Boots NYU Disinformation Researchers Off Its Platform and Critics Cry Foul
NPR – Shannon Bond | Published: 8/4/2021

Facebook blocked a team of New York University researchers studying political ads and COVID misinformation from accessing its site, a move critics say is meant to silence research that makes the company look bad. The researchers at the NYU Ad Observatory launched a tool last year to collect data about the political ads people see on Facebook. Around 16,000 people have installed the browser extension. It enables them to share data on which ads they are shown and why those ads were targeted at them with the researchers. Facebook says the browser extension violates its privacy rules because it collects information about advertisers.

Federal Election Commission Fines Sen. Rand Paul’s Presidential PAC Over Contributions
USA Today – Morgan Watkins (Louisville Courier-Journal) | Published: 7/29/2021

The FEC fined U.S. Sen. Rand Paul’s 2016 presidential campaign committee $21,000 for how it handled certain financial contributions. The investigation concerned a PAC called the Freedom for All Americans, which used to be known as Rand Paul for President Inc. and was his principal campaign committee during his presidential run in 2015 and 2016. The FEC said the committee failed to either refund $165,749 in contributions for the 2016 presidential election or redesignate them for use in a different election within 60 days after Donald Trump won the Republican nomination.

His Campaign Is Over. But Trump’s Political Groups Are Still Spending Donor Money at His Properties.
MSN – Isaac Stanley-Becker and David Fahrenthold (Washington Post) | Published: 8/1/2021

Save America, the leadership PAC where former President Trump is asking loyalists to direct their political contributions, paid for lodging about two dozen times in the first six months of 2021. Nine of those times, the payments went to properties owned by the former president. All told, the PAC sent at least $68,000 to the Trump Hotel Collection, showing how the real estate mogul, long after ending his presidential campaign and leaving office, continues to use donor money at his own properties.

Judge Sanctions Lawyers for Bringing 2020 Election Conspiracy Lawsuit
Yahoo News – Maeve Sheehey (Politico) | Published: 8/4/2021

A federal judge sanctioned lawyers who filed suit against Dominion Voting Systems, Facebook, and others, claiming conspiracy in the 2020 presidential election. Originally, plaintiffs sued on behalf of all registered American voters and said the 2020 election involved a conspiracy between governors, secretaries of state, election officials, Dominion, Facebook, and more. U.S. Magistrate Judge for the District of Colorado N. Reid Neureiter wrote, “The Complaint is one enormous conspiracy theory.”

Prospect of Massive Economic Packages Unleashes Lobbying Bonanza in Washington
MSN – Tony Romm and Yeganeh Torbati (Washington Post) | Published: 8/4/2021

Nearly 2,000 companies and organizations have lobbied Congress and the Biden administration this year to influence major new infrastructure spending, an effort that is sure to intensify now that the Senate is hoping to vote within days on their version of the $1 trillion public-works package. The proposal, along with a still-forming second economic package valued at $3.5 trillion, carries high stakes for corporations that have long pined for infrastructure improvements and other federal spending that would be beneficial to their bottom lines.

The Justice Department Puts States on Notice About Election Audits and Voting Changes
National Public Radio – Carrie Johnson | Published: 7/28/2021

The U.S. Justice Department is putting states on notice about their obligations under federal law as Republican-led efforts to conduct reviews of the 2020 election intensify. Federal authorities issued a pair of new guidance documents to states and voters to remind them of their responsibilities and their rights. The moves are part of the Biden administration’s push to demonstrate it is on guard amid new voting restrictions proposed and enacted by GOP-led states across the nation, and as Democratic-led federal voting legislation has stalled.

Trump to Acting AG, According to Aide’s Notes: ‘Just say the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me’
MSN – Devlin Barrett and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 7/30/2021

Then-President Trump pressed top Justice Department officials last year to declare the election was corrupt even though they had found no instances of widespread fraud so he and his allies in Congress could use the assertion to overturn the results. Former Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue’s notes show the degree to which the president was personally involved in such efforts and the ways in which Justice Department officials walked a tightrope of listening to him while not taking any concrete actions they considered unethical or partisan. The notes also say Trump suggested to then-Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen that he might be replaced.

Trump’s Tax Returns Can Be Released to Congress, DOJ Tells IRS
MSN – David Yaffe-Bellamy and Laura Davison (Bloomberg) | Published: 7/30/2021

The Department of Justice directed the Treasury Department to hand over former President Trump’s tax returns to Congress, a move that means six years of Trump’s personal and business financial information could become public. The move marks the latest and perhaps one of the final salvos in the years-long political standoff between Trump and Democratic leaders in Washington and New York over access to the returns. The Ways and Means Committee, which is controlled by Democrats, can choose to publish a report about Trump’s income and tax information based on the IRS returns, effectively making his tax returns public.

What the Latest Numbers Show on Hill Staff Diversity
MSN – Jim Saska (Roll Call) | Published: 7/28/2021

A few recent reports on staff diversity highlight the enduring challenge of making the top tier of federal government employees look like the nation they serve. While some progress has been made, staffers on Capitol Hill continue to be whiter than the rest of America, despite ongoing pledges and programs from Democrats to diversify. Republicans have not made similar commitments. “The essence of democracy is representation, and race is connected to representation,” said Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies President Spencer Overton.

From the States and Municipalities

Alaska Court Nixes Some Caps for Alaska Campaign Contributions
MSN – Becky Bohrer (Associated Press) | Published: 7/31/2021

A three-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned three of Alaska’s main limits on campaign contributions. The ruling overturned a $500 per-year cap on the amount of money an Alaskan can contribute to a particular candidate; a $500 per-year limit on contributions to a particular political group; and a $3,000 cap on the amount a candidate can accept from all out-of-state donors combined in a year. The panel upheld a $5,000 limit on the amount a political party can give to a candidate.

Arizona Arizona Lawmakers Invest More in Private Prisons After Record-High Campaign Contributions
MSN – Jimmy Jenkins (WJZZ), Joseph Darius Jaafari and Justin Price (Arizona Republic) | Published: 7/29/2021

Lobbyists often spend money to entertain lawmakers to get them to vote in their clients’ interests and politicians welcome the meetings. But the closure of Arizona’s states prison in Florence represented a unique opportunity for private prison groups, whose spending on campaign contributions and lobbying in the state reached record levels over the past two years. The direct access to legislators has some lawmakers and prison reformers arguing the state is getting a bad deal on private prison contracts, as a direct result of money flowing from private prison groups into lawmakers’ coffers.

Arizona Republican-Led Arizona Ballot Review Grinds to Rocky Conclusion, with Results Expected Next Month
MSN – Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) | Published: 7/29/2021

The Arizona Senate returned nearly 2.1 million ballots to the control of the state’s largest county as the GOP-led recount of votes cast in the 2020 presidential election drew to a rocky close, marked by upheaval that is likely to further undermine public confidence in its conclusions, set to be announced in August. The tumult provided a capstone to a widely criticized review of the 2020 election that has been decried by election experts and Maricopa County officials and has deeply divided Arizona Republicans.

California A Lobbyist’s Secret Gift to a Councilwoman Prompts El Monte to Consider New Ethics Rules
MSN – Adam Elmahrek (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 8/2/2021

Calling for reforms in government accountability, the El Monte City Council launched an effort to create an ethics commission that would sanction city officials who violate rules on accepting expensive gifts and other conflicts-of-interest. The action followed a Los Angeles Times article that detailed how Councilperson Victoria Martinez Muela accepted financial assistance from a lobbyist to help pay for her breast augmentation surgery. The lobbyist, Sigrid Lopez, said in a sworn declaration that she paid $1,100 to a cosmetic surgeon in 2016 to help cover the cost of the procedure.

California Recall Money Wars: What do Newsom’s million-dollar donors want?
CalMatters – Ben Christopher | Published: 7/28/2021

The main committee tasked with defending California Gov. Gavin Newsom against the September 14 recall has raised some $39 million. Another allied committee and Newsom’s own 2022 campaign account, which state law allows him to draw upon this year, add another $4 million. That is more than double all the cash raised by the committees campaigning for his ouster and the 46 candidates vying to replace him, combined. It also represents the generosity, or perhaps the strategic expenditure, of a broad coalition of some unlikely allies.

California San Francisco’s Mayor Agrees to $23K Fine for Ethics Breach
Yahoo News – Associated Press | Published: 8/3/2021

San Francisco Mayor London Breed agreed to pay nearly $23,000 in a fine to the city for a series of ethics violations while in office, including asking a former governor to release her brother from prison and allowing a former head of public works embroiled in a corruption scandal to pay her car repair bill. The proposed agreement from the city’s Ethics Commission also fines Breed for failing to properly report a 2015 campaign contribution while running for reelection to the Board of Supervisors.

Colorado Aurora Lobbyist Registration Law Takes Effect; No Penalties Until 2022
Sentinel Colorado – Kara Mason | Published: 8/2/2021

As of August 1, people or organizations that are lobbying in the city of Aurora must register with the clerk’s office. Lobbyists will have to disclose their activities in public reports and submit a quarterly financial report with the city clerk. The first reports are due October 15.

Connecticut Connecticut Drawn into Fight Over Conservative ALEC’s Tax-Exempt Status
Connecticut Mirror – Mark Pazniokas | Published: 7/29/2021

Connecticut is one of 15 states where campaign finance complaints were filed against the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), alleging the conservative nonprofit was illegally distributing software to Republican lawmakers. Common Cause and the Center for Media and Democracy allege ALEC made unreported in-kind contributions to its members in 2020 by giving away campaign software worth $3,000 a copy, violating state and federal campaign laws. The voter-management software compiles and collates voter history and information and helps the coordination of campaign efforts. Many campaigns use such software.

Florida Key Figures in ‘Ghost’ Candidate Scandal Had Business Relationship, Records Show
MSN – Jason Garcia and Annie Martin (Orlando Sentinel) | Published: 7/30/2021

Frank Artiles, the former Republican lawmaker accused of bribing a spoiler candidate to run in an important state Senate election, had a business relationship with the political consultant behind an advertising campaign that boosted that candidate and similar ones in two other races. Records show Artiles was working as a $5,000-a-month contractor for Let’s Preserve the American Dream, a nonprofit with ties to the business-lobbying group Associated Industries of Florida. The records also show the person Artiles reported to at the nonprofit was Alex Alvarado, the strategist who ran two political committees that spent $550,000 last year promoting mysterious independent candidates who appeared on the ballot in three key races.

Florida Miami Beach Candidate Asks Voters to Donate to Her Campaign. And Eat at Her Restaurant
MSN – Martin Vassolo (Miami Herald) | Published: 7/30/2021

It is standard practice for candidates to ask for votes or money in campaign emails. But Miami Beach Commission candidate Kristen Rosen Gonzalez raised a few eyebrows when she asked voters to donate to her campaign – and visit her new restaurant, too. It is the latest instance of Rosen Gonzalez skirting conventions in what has at times been a controversial political career.

Idaho Idaho House Ethics Committee Denounces an Absent Rep. Giddings, Recommends Punishment
Yahoo News – Hayat Norimine (Idaho Statesman) | Published: 8/3/2021

An Idaho House ethics committee unanimously voted to censure state Rep. Priscilla Giddings and remove her from a committee that oversees state employees. A complaint alleged Giddings defamed a 19-year-old who accused a former House Republican of sexual assault by sharing an article from a far-right website that identified her. The complaint also said she misrepresented her actions to the ethics committee while under oath. Committee members said Giddings exhibited a pattern of dishonesty and disrespect to her colleagues in her testimony. But her actions didn’t rise to the level of expulsion, Republican committee members said.

Illinois Ex-Illinois Governor Blagojevich, Granted Clemency by Trump, Sues for Right to Seek Elected Office Again
MSN – Andrew Jeong (Washington Post) | Published: 8/3/2021

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich sued the state, demanding that his right to run for state and local elected office, which was yanked by the Illinois Legislature in 2009, be restored. Blagojevich was convicted of 18 felony counts of corruption in 2011, although several were later dismissed by an appeals court. Federal prosecutors had accused Blagojevich of corruption and campaign finance violations, including seeking contributions in return for the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by Barack Obama after his election to the White House in 2008.

Maine State Ethics Panel Launches Probe into Company That Donated to Democrats
Portland Press Herald – Scott Thistle | Published: 7/30/2021

The Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices voted to launch an investigation into a now-defunct Portland company that donated $150,000 to the Maine Democratic Party in 2018. Commission Executive Director Jonathan Wayne said the creation of Alpine Initiatives LLC four days before it made the large donation was suspicious given there is no public evidence the company conducted any other business before it was dissolved just 14 months later in 2019.

Michigan Donor Bernstein Funds Whitmer’s Recall Fight That Brother Could Rule On
Yahoo News – Craig Mauger (Detroit News) | Published: 7/30/2021

The family connection between Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s top donor, lawyer Mark Bernstein, and his brother, Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein, is drawing new scrutiny amid a legal fight over recall efforts. Attorneys for the governor asked the state Supreme Court to consider their case against a series of recall petitions that have been approved by the Board of State Canvassers. Twelve days later, Mark Bernstein gave Whitmer’s campaign $250,000. Under the Whitmer campaign’s interpretation, because Mark Bernstein had already given her a maximum contribution of $7,150 for the 2022 election, all $250,000 would have to go toward fighting the recalls.

Missouri Anti-Mask Protesters Swarmed a St. Louis County Council Meeting. Then, an Attendee Tested Positive for Covid.
MSN – Katie Shepherd (Washington Post) | Published: 8/2/2021

Because of the increasing number of hospitalizations and the spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus, officials in St. Louis instituted a policy requiring masks be worn inside public places and on public transit. But the return to mask-wearing stoked the ire of many people who opposed the restrictions, including at a raucous county council meeting. Now, public health officials announced at least one person has tested positive for the coronavirus and may have exposed others who attended the meeting.

Missouri Just Before Parson Vetoed Missouri Emissions Bill, Staffer’s Spouse Hired by Testing Company
Yahoo News – Allison Kite (Missouri Independent) | Published: 8/3/2021

Three weeks before Missouri Gov. Mike Parson vetoed legislation that would have undermined a federally mandated vehicle emissions testing program, the spouse of his policy director registered as a lobbyist for the lone state contractor providing those tests. Parson cited as justification a threat from the Environmental Protection Agency to impose sanctions if Missouri removed three counties from the program. But the registration of Jay Hahn, a lobbyist married to Parson’s policy director, Kayla Hahn, has raised questions about the process and whether the arrangement ran afoul of conflict-of-interest laws.

Missouri Missouri Governor Pardons Gun-Waving St. Louis Lawyer Couple
Yahoo News – Jim Salter (Associated Press) | Published: 8/3/2021

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced he made good on his promise to pardon a couple who gained notoriety for pointing guns at social justice demonstrators as they marched past the couple’s home in a luxury St. Louis enclave last year. Parson pardoned Mark McCloskey, who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor fourth-degree assault and was fined $750, and Patricia McCloskey, who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor harassment and was fined $2,000. Photos and cellphone video captured the confrontation, which drew widespread attention and made the couple heroes to some and villains to others.

Nebraska Nebraska Legislative Races Keep Breaking Spending Records, and There’s No End in Sight
Lincoln Journal Star – Martha Stoddard (Omaha World-Herald) | Published: 7/30/2021

Running for state Legislature got a lot more expensive in Nebraska last year. Candidates in the 2020 general election shattered records set just two years earlier, with average spending 30 percent higher than in 2018 and the top-spending campaign nearing the $500,000 mark. Neither lawmakers nor campaign observers expect the trend to slow down anytime soon. Legislative campaign spending has been rising since 2012, when the Nebraska Supreme Court tossed out the state’s Campaign Finance Limitation Act, which had used incentives to encourage candidates to abide by voluntary spending limits.

New Mexico Court Upholds Santa Fe Regulations on Campaign Disclosure
MSN – Morgan Lee (Associated Press) | Published: 8/4/2021

A federal appeals court rejected efforts by a libertarian-leaning group in New Mexico to shield future financial contributions from public disclosure in defiance of requirement enacted by the city of Santa Fe. The 10th District Court of Appeals rejected a request by the Rio Grande Foundation to invalidate city campaign finance provisions as unconstitutional. The foundation complied with a city order and disclosed two relatively minor donations of $7,700. Later it sought to invalidate the regulations, citing a “chilling effect” on political contributions free speech.

New York AG: Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, broke state and federal law
MSN – Anna Gromwold and Shannon Young (Washington Post) | Published: 8/3/2021

Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed current and former state employees, creating a hostile work environment for women in violation of state and federal law, New York Attorney General Letitia James said. In a new report, investigators laid out a devastating portrait of behavior by the governor, substantiating an allegation that Cuomo embraced an executive assistant and reached under her blouse to grab her breast. Witnesses also described an environment in the governor’s office that was abusive and vindictive, with one of the women who came forward targeted for retaliation through the release of her personnel file, investigators said.

New York County Approves Bill to Let Police Sue Anyone Who Harasses Them. Activists Cry Foul.
MSN – Pauline Villegas (Washington Post) | Published: 8/2/2021

Nassau County lawmakers passed a bill that allows first responders to sue any person who harasses, attacks, or injures them while they are in uniform. Proponents argue the bill offers additional protections to officers in the face of “destructive riots and lawlessness” targeting law enforcement officials following George Floyd’s death in police custody. Its critics say the legislation comes as “retaliation” for Black Lives Matter protests against police abuses and warn it could suppress First Amendment rights.

Ohio How Did Cleveland Councilman Kenneth Johnson’s Corruption Schemes Go Unnoticed for So Long?
MSN – John Caniglia (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 8/4/2021

Cleveland City Councilperson Kenneth Johnson was convicted recently on 15 corruption-related charges. He faces up to 10 years in prison for stealing from council coffers, underpaying his taxes, and steering government money to keep three relatives on the payroll of a community development corporation he helped fund as a council member. For nearly nine years, Johnson filled out monthly expense reports that earned him $127,200 without hearing a single request to look at where that money was going. From City Hall to state officials who audited the city’s books, Johnson went overlooked. U.S District Court Judge John Adams admitted during the trial the investigation into Johnson stemmed from stories in The Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Ohio JobsOhio $21 Million PPE Contract Prompts Political Consultant’s Lawsuit Over Finder’s Fee
MSN – Andrew Tobias (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 7/29/2021

A company’s $21 million contract to provide JobsOhio with masks and other personal protective equipment is the subject of an ongoing Cuyahoga County lawsuit filed by a local political consultant who says he is owed a cut of the deal. Bobby Ina says RB Sigma has failed to pay him a 15 percent fee on the contract, which the consultant said he helped arrange during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. But the company says it does not owe anything since state law bars anyone from getting paid a percentage of a state contract they lobbied on, so the contract is illegal.

Ohio Mayoral Hopeful State Sen. Sandra Williams Identified by Pseudonym in FirstEnergy Deferred Prosecution Agreement
MSN – Seth Richardson (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 7/30/2021

The ongoing federal corruption investigation into House Bill 6 has found its way to the Cleveland mayoral race, with one hopeful, Ohio Sen. Sandra Williams, being referred to anonymously in the deferred prosecution agreement between FirstEnergy and the U.S. Justice Department. Williams, who was the lone Senate Democratic co-sponsor the bill when it passed in 2019, has not been accused of any wrongdoing. In an interview, Williams said all her actions on House Bill 6 were legal and within the scope of her job as a state legislator.

Ohio Shontel Brown Tops Progressive Favorite Nina Turner in Ohio’s 11th District Primary
MSN – Stephanie Akin (Roll Call) | Published: 8/3/2021

Shontel Brown, chairperson of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party in Ohio, defeated progressive favorite Nina Turner for her party’s nomination in the special election for the state’s 11th Congressional District. The win makes Brown the favorite in November for the deep-blue seat that Marcia Fudge vacated to become Housing and Urban Development secretary. The primary split the party’s establishment and progressive wings. Along with attracting heavy spending by outside groups and significant grassroots funding, the race drew high-profile figures to the district in the days before the election.

Ohio Trump-Backed Lobbyist Mike Carey Wins Primary in Ohio’s 15th District
MSN – Stephanie Akin (Roll Call) | Published: 8/3/2021

Mike Carey, a relatively unknown coal lobbyist endorsed by former President Trump, won a crowded Republican primary in the special election for Ohio’s 15th Congressional District, making him the heavy favorite to succeed former U.S. Rep.  Steve Stivers in November. Carey’s win came as vindication for Trump after Republican Jake Ellzey defeated the candidate Trump backed in a Texas special election, raising questions about the former president’s ability to recognize winning candidates and the power of his endorsement in the 2022 midterms.

Texas Energy Industry Showers Gov. Greg Abbott, Other Texas Politicians with Campaign Cash after They Passed Power Grid Bills
Texas Tribune – Mitchell Furman and Carla Astudillo | Published: 8/4/2021

Fixing Texas’ power grid was about the only thing Republicans and Democrats seemed to agree on earlier this year. Millions of Texans endured a week of subfreezing temperatures with no power demanded improvements to prevent another disaster. But by the end of the legislative session, if top power companies were aggrieved by any of the new laws targeting their industry, they did not show it. From June 21 to June 30, five of the largest and most prominent companies in the power grid supply chain or their top executives collectively donated about $497,000 to state elected officials and political groups. That is more than twice the $207,000 they gave during the same period when the legislative session ended in in 2019.

Washington DC More People Ran for Office and Donated to Campaigns Because of D.C’s New Public Financing Program – Martin Austermuhle | Published: 8/2/2021

The number of people running for elected office and contributing to local District of Columbia campaigns increased in 2020, likely because of the city’s new program that offers public financing to candidates running for elected office. Those are among the conclusions of a new report from Auditor Kathy Patterson assessing the Fair Elections Program, which was passed into law in 2018 and first implemented during last year’s election cycle, when it distributed almost $4 million to dozens of candidates for seats on the city council and State Board of Education.

Wisconsin Democrats Introduce Bills That Would Overhaul Wisconsin Campaign Finance System
Wisconsin State Journal – Riley Vetterkind | Published: 8/3/2021

Democratic lawmakers in Wisconsin called for stricter campaign contribution limits and more mandatory transparency among donors, even as their party’s fundraising has been boosted by looser limits Republicans adopted in recent years. Several Democrats, as well as advocacy groups such as the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, introduced seven bills to address a system they say favors the wealthy and corporations and has relegated Wisconsinites to the role of spectators to the political process.

Wyoming PAC Backing Cheney Challenger Gray Funded Solely by His Father – Nick Reynolds | Published: 8/2/2021

Wyoming Rep. Chuck Gray’s father is the sole funder of a secretive PAC that is boosting Gray’s bid to oust U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney in next year’s Republican primary. Jan Charles Gray is the only contributor to Protect Wyoming Values PAC. The operation has orchestrated an extensive social media and phone text campaign promoting Gray as the best candidate to replace Cheney. Federal campaign finance laws that dictate how PACs can coordinate with candidates require groups affiliated with a candidate to register their contributions as in-kind donations to the candidate’s campaign. Coordinated expenditures are subject to different regulations, including contribution limits, than independent PAC activities without direct ties to a campaign.

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