December 3, 2021 •
News You Can Use Digest – December 3, 2021
Appeals Court Scrutinizes Trump Bid to Keep Jan. 6 White House Records Secret from Congress
MSN – Spencer Hsu and Ann Marimow (Washington Post) | Published: 11/30/2021
An appeals court scrutinized former President Trump’s effort to keep White House documents secret from a congressional committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit expressed skepticism about the role of the courts in settling a dispute in which a former president and the sitting president are at loggerheads over the release of records. The hearing probed the limits of the separation of powers, U.S. Supreme Court precedent over the ownership of presidential records, and a statute governing their release.
CNN Suspends Chris Cuomo ‘Indefinitely’ After Documents Detail Help He Gave His Brother
MSN – Sarah Ellison and Jeremy Barr (Washington Post) | Published: 11/30/2021
CNN suspended Chris Cuomo a day after the release of documents that detailed his efforts to help his brother, then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, fend off allegations of sexual misconduct. Transcripts from the New York attorney general’s office showed the cable television host was far more involved in the ex-governor’s crisis-management efforts than the younger Cuomo had previously acknowledged. The network and its president, Jeff Zucker, had backed Chris Cuomo for months, even as details accumulated about his role advising his brother, who eventually resigned in the wake of the sexual harassment allegations.
Congress Closes in on Sexual Misconduct Reform, 4 Years After Its #MeToo Moment
MSN – Marianne Levine (Politico) | Published: 12/1/2021
The Senate and House Judiciary Committees recently approved bipartisan legislation that would put an end to private employers’ use of forced arbitration – mediation between alleged victims and perpetrators that operates outside the traditional legal system – by allowing victims to decide whether they want to take their sexual harassment or assault claims to court instead. Proponents of the sexual misconduct reform bill are planning to see whether it can pass unanimously in the coming weeks without a time-consuming roll-call vote, or alternately whether it can hitch a ride on another legislative vehicle.
Dark-Money Group Paid Former Trump AG to Ask for Pardons – and He Never Registered as a Lobbyist
Yahoo News – Roger Sollenberger (Daily Beast) | Published: 12/1/2021
Matthew Whittaker held various posts at the Justice Department during the Trump administration. When he left the government, the nonprofit FreedomWorks brought him on to head an initiative that “aims to recommend deserving individuals to the Trump administration for pardons and commutations.” A federal filing shows Freedom Works paid Whitaker $400,000 last year in unspecified “consulting” fees. He was directly involved in White House clemency negotiations, but never registered as a lobbyist while advocating for pardons and FreedomWorks never named clemency issues in any of its 2020 lobbying reports.
Facebook’s Race-Blind Practices Around Hate Speech Came at the Expense of Black Users, New Documents Show
MSN – Elizabeth Dwoskin, Nitasha Niku, and Crag Timberg (Washington Post) | Published: 11/21/2021
A two-year effort by a large team of researchers at Facebook urged executives to adopt an aggressive overhaul of its software system to remove hateful posts before any users could see them. But Facebook’s leaders balked at the plan. According to two people familiar with the internal debate, top executives including Vice President for Global Public Policy Joel Kaplan feared the new system would tilt the scales by protecting some vulnerable groups over others. A policy executive prepared a document for Kaplan that raised the potential for backlash from “conservative partners,” according to the document.
Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows Cooperating with Jan. 6 Committee
MSN – Mariana Alfaro (Washington Post) | Published: 11/30/2021
Mark Meadows, former President Trump’s chief of staff at the time of the January 6 attack on the Capitol, is cooperating with the House committee investigating the insurrection. Meadows is the highest-profile member of Trump’s inner circle who is known to be cooperating or who the committee has publicly acknowledged is cooperating. Committee members have previously said many people with connections to the events of that day have voluntarily engaged with investigators, but they have not specified who those individuals are or how high up they were in the Trump administration.
House Jan. 6 Committee Votes to Hold Former Trump DOJ Official in Criminal Contempt
MSN – Jacqueline Alemany (Washington Post) | Published: 12/1/2021
The House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol voted unanimously to hold former Trump Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark in criminal contempt for failing to cooperate with its inquiry. If it is adopted by the House, it would be up to the Justice Department to determine whether to indict Clark for not complying with a congressional subpoena. Clark’s lawyer presented the committee with a letter that objected to answering any questions or providing any records, arguing Clark did not have to because Trump has asserted they are protected by executive privilege.
K St. on Capitol Hill: Lobbyists look to leverage prime real estate near Congress as in-person events return
Yahoo News – Hailey Fuchs and Emily Birnbaum (Politico) | Published: 11/23/2021
The popular conception of a lobbying shop usually involves an office on K Street, an expense account at a popular restaurant, and a small army of operatives that regularly hit the fundraising circuit. But lobbyists have long explored other venues to twist the arms of members of Congress and the Capitol Hill townhouse is chief among them. Groups use these homes, often registered with the city as residential property, most notably as a fundraising venue for members of Congress. These townhouses provide companies, trade associations, and lobbying shops with a chance to rub shoulders with lawmakers outside of government property.
More Companies Disclose Political Spending After Jan. 6 Attack
MSN – Ellen Meyers (Roll Call) | Published: 12/2/2021
New research shows companies are increasing their disclosure of political spending. Corporations are under pressure from shareholders, customers, employees, and regulators to align their political influence with their stated values. Direct corporate donations to candidates are illegal, but employees and executives can pool their contributions through PACs, which must disclose donors and expenditures and are subject to limits. Companies can also give unlimited amounts to groups that spend money to influence politics, some of which disclose their donors and some which do not.
New Rules for MPs Proposed in Wake of Lobbying Scandal
Sky News – Alan McGuiness | Published: 11/29/2021
The Standards Committee has unveiled its interim report into reform of the standards system in the wake of the furor generated by the Owen Paterson scandal, as well as an updated code of conduct for members of Parliament (MP). The former Conservative member was found to have broken the United Kingdom’s lobbying rules with his private sector work. Labour MP Chris Bryant, chairperson of the committee, said it had laid out a “package of reforms to bolster the rules around lobbying and conflicts-of-interest.”
Prosecutors Demanded Records of Sidney Powell’s Fundraising Groups as Part of Criminal Probe
MSN – Isaac Stanley-Becker, Emma Brown, and Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) | Published: 11/30/2021
Federal prosecutors demanded the financial records of multiple fundraising organizations launched by attorney Sidney Powell after the 2020 election as part of a criminal investigation. The grand jury subpoena sought communications and other records related to fundraising and accounting by groups including Defending the Republic, a group claiming 501(c) 4 nonprofit status and a PAC by the same name. The federal investigation highlights the intensifying legal quandaries facing Donald Trump-allied attorneys and other figures who promoted false claims that the election was rigged.
State Redistricting Commissions Get Mixed Reviews
MSN – Michael Macagnone (Roll Call) | Published: 12/2/2021
Most state Legislatures control the map-drawing process, but a handful now have redistricting commissions of varying construction and independence with a say in line drawing. Advocates expected redistricting commissions to take partisan favoritism out of the process, but some maps have favored one party over the other while others have shortchanged growing minority communities. Experts have argued some bias is unavoidable in a political environment in which most Democratic voters are packed in urban areas and most Republicans live in more rural ones.
Trump Allies Work to Place Supporters in Key Election Posts Across the Country, Spurring Fears About Future Vote Challenges
MSN – Amy Gardner, Tom Hamburger, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 11/29/2021
A year after local and state election officials came under pressure from Donald Trump to subvert the results of the 2020 White House race, he and his supporters are pushing an ambitious plan to place Trump loyalists in key positions across the administration of U.S. elections. The effort goes beyond the former president’s public broadsides against well-known Republican state officials who certified President Biden’s victory. Citing the need to make elections more secure, Trump allies are also seeking to replace officials across the nation, including volunteer poll watchers, paid precinct judges, elected county clerks, and state attorneys general.
U.S. House Approves Bipartisan Judicial Financial Disclosure Bill
Reuters – Mike Scarcella | Published: 12/1/2021
The U.S. House voted overwhelmingly in favor of a bipartisan bill imposing more stringent public financial reporting requirements on federal district and appellate court judges. The Courthouse Ethics and Transparency Act would set a 45-day window for judges to report stock trades of more than $1,000 and require the judiciary to post disclosure forms online. A Wall Street Journal report in September revealed 131 judges had failed to recuse themselves in hundreds of cases since 2010 involving companies in which they or a family member had a financial interest.
From the States and Municipalities
California – Accusations Against a California Campaign Finance Watchdog Went Undisclosed for Months
Yahoo News – John Meyers (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 11/22/2021
A campaign finance investigation against a top official at the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) sat in limbo and hidden from public view for months, raising questions about whether the government organization holds its own members to the same standard as candidates and campaigns across the state. A complaint against Catharine Baker, a former state legislator, was filed in April with the agency’s enforcement division. On November 12, the same day The Los Angeles Times requested information regarding the case, the FPPC enforcement division recused itself from the investigation and asked state Attorney Gen. Rob Bonta to assume control.
California – Former California Union Official Filed $44,000 Worth of Fraudulent Time Sheets, CalPERS Says
MSN – Wes Venteicher (Sacramento Bee) | Published: 11/29/2021
A former SEIU Local 1000 official was suspended from his California Public Employees’ Retirement System IT job without pay for six months after the pension system determined he did not do any work while claiming he was on a coronavirus contact tracing assignment. Tony Owens, who was elected vice president of bargaining in 2018, submitted about $44,000 worth of fraudulent time sheets in the second half of 2020. Owens is contesting the discipline, saying he was supporting state workers during the time in question even though the Department of Public Health did not formally issue him a pandemic contact tracing assignment.
California – Lobbyist in Ash Street Settlement Doesn’t Appear for Deposition but Reports More Meetings with City Officials
San Diego Union Tribune – Jeff McDonald | Published: 11/24/2021
A lobbyist involved in settlement talks between the city of San Diego and the owners and lenders of the vacant high rise did not appear for a deposition that was scheduled by lawyers suing the city. Christopher Wahl delayed answering questions even as he filed a new lobbying disclosure showing he continued to meet with City Attorney Mara Elliott and Mayor Todd Gloria’s chief operating officer to try and resolve lawsuits over the lease. Wahl is a partner at Southwest Strategies, which has reported raising tens of thousands of dollars in support of Elliott, Gloria, some city council members and the Democratic Party.
Connecticut – Gov. Lamont Says His Wife Will Pull Back on Investments in Connecticut and Blames Politics for Ethical Questions
Yahoo News – Christopher Keating and Stephen Singer (Hartford Courant) | Published: 11/30/2021
Gov. Ned Lamont said his wife’s investment firm is pulling back in Connecticut after critics questioned the move to Stamford of a New York financial technology company, Digital Currency Group (DCG), that negotiated $5 million in state aid. The governor said Annie Lamont is finding it difficult to invest in Connecticut because the combination of her work as an investor and his role as governor are dogged by ethical questions. Gov. Lamont has said little publicly until recently about his wife’s investments through Oak HC/FT, a venture capital firm she founded.
Florida – Legislative Ball Starts Rolling on Additional Lobbying Restrictions for Former Officials
Florida Politics – Renzo Downey | Published: 11/30/2021
Florida lawmakers moved legislation to further restrict public officials from lobbying in the years after leaving office. The House Public Integrity and Ethics Committee approved two proposed bills to implement Amendment 12, which places business and lobbying restrictions on former lawmakers. Penalties under the measures include fines up to $10,000 and forfeiting money earned from illegally lobbying. People could also receive public censure or reprimand for violating the law.
Maine – Maine Lawmaker Who Flouted Pandemic Rules Resigns After Wife’s COVID-19 Death
Yahoo News – Edward Murphy (Portland Press Herald) | Published: 11/30/2021
State Rep. Chris Johansen, a staunch opponent of pandemic-related restrictions who was stricken with COVID-19 this summer and whose wife died after contracting the virus, resigned from the Maine Legislature. He said his wife, who had asthma, had taken care of the farm, allowing him to serve in the state House. A few weeks after Cindy Johansen died, Chris Johansen attended a rally against the state’s vaccination mandate for health care workers.
Massachusetts – Organizers Seek Up to $25,000 from Donors to Fund Mayor Wu’s Inauguration
MSN – Meghan Irons (Boston Globe) | Published: 11/25/2021
Organizers for Michelle Wu’s inauguration are asking businesses and individuals for thousands of dollars to help bankroll her inauguration in January, putting her on track with previous Boston mayors who have marked their ascension to political power with a lavish affair. Boston Inaugural Fund 2021, responsible for raising cash for Wu’s inauguration, has been asking donors for $10,000 to $25,000, promising them different tiers for “sponsorship opportunities” for the inauguration.
Michigan – Benson’s Bid to Make Permanent Absentee Voter Rules Draws Opposition
Detroit News – Beth LeBlanc | Published: 11/28/2021
Rules that would change Michigan’s absentee ballot application and verification protocol are working their way through the state administrative process amid protests from legislative election leaders. The rules would require local clerks to start with a presumption of validity when examining signatures for absentee voter applications and ballots and allow for online absentee ballot applications. The rules, which went through a public comment process, implement to some extent practices Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson put in place during the pandemic ahead of the November 2020 presidential election.
Michigan – Federal Judge Slams Michigan GOP Suit Against Whitmer Fundraising
Detroit News – Craig Mauger | Published: 12/1/2021
U.S. District Court Judge Janet Neff repeatedly criticized the Michigan Republican Party’s effort to challenge Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s reelection fundraising. Neff rejected a motion for an emergency restraining order to prevent the governor’s campaign from distributing millions of dollars in excess contributions she raised through a so-called recall exception. The judge said she had “questions” about whether GOP Chairperson Ron Weiser had legal standing to bring the lawsuit. She also said the GOP might be feeling “remorse” the party did not think of the idea earlier when one of its members held the governor’s office.
Michigan – Taylor Mayor’s Aide Guilty, Leaving Sollars Solo for Bribery Trial
Detroit News – Robert Snell | Published: 12/1/2021
An aide and campaign treasurer for indicted Taylor Mayor Rick Sollars admitted to pocketing bribes with the politician and faces up to five years in federal prison. Taylor community development manager Jeffrey Baum is the third person to strike a plea deal with federal prosecutors, moves that leave Sollars scheduled to stand trial alone on corruption charges in January. The criminal case comes amid a broader federal focus on public corruption in Metro Detroit. In the last dozen years, more than 110 labor leaders, politicians, police officers, and bureaucrats have been charged with federal corruption-related crimes.
Minnesota – Jan Malcolm’s Horse, and Other Things We Learned About from Minnesota Financial Disclosures
MinnPost – Walker Orenstein and Greta Kaul | Published: 11/30/2021
Minnesota law requires a wide range of public officials to disclose some of their economic interests, including properties, investments, and speaking fees. The disclosures, available on the Campaign Finance Board’s website, can give insight into the financial holdings of public officials, while providing a safeguard against self-dealing in government, experts say. Officials even have to say whether they or a family member have a financial stake in horse racing, though only one top state official has reported such an investment: Jan Malcolm, commissioner of the Department of Health.
Missouri – Campaign Fund Linked to Stenger Fined by Missouri Ethics Regulators
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Kurt Erickson | Published: 11/26/2021
A once-obscure campaign committee that helped fund former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger’s 2018 reelection bid was fined more than $10,000 for violations of state ethics rules. The penalty was levied against the Missouri Association of Career Fire Protection District’s PAC after the Missouri Ethics Commission audited the account amid news reports about potential money laundering.
New Jersey – Is a Bribe a Bribe If You Can’t Deliver? Former Morris Freeholder Asks Judge to Toss Indictment
Morristown Green – Kevin Coughlin | Published: 12/1/2021
Is a bribe a bribe if there is no way you can deliver the goods? Former Morris County Freeholder John Cesar asked a judge to dismiss a six-count indictment against him. Cesaro was one of five public figures charged in a state bribery sting. At its center is attorney Matt O’Donnell, who secretly recorded audio and video of his conversations. Authorities say recordings captured Cesaro discussing and accepting illegal campaign donations in exchange for promises of tax appeals work for the county. But Cesaro had no authority to deliver, and O’Donnell knew it, contended Cesaro’s attorney.
New York – Former Buffalo Deputy Mayor’s Company Sentenced to Pay Restitution, Tiny Fine
Buffalo News – Matthew Spina | Published: 12/1/2021
Former Buffalo Deputy Mayor Steven Casey’s political consulting company is broke, so it will not have to pay a big fine, a federal judge ruled. LSA Strategies was sentenced to pay $8,283 restitution, a $400 court fee, and a fine of $69 to settle a single count of wire fraud. While moonlighting as a campaign strategist, Casey diverted the money to his company without the knowledge of a state Senate candidate he was serving in 2012. The restitution and court fee nearly depleted the company’s bank account.
New York – In the ‘New Albany,’ State Senate Regularly Outpaces Assembly on Reform
Gotham Gazette – Ethan Geringer-Sameth | Published: 12/1/2021
For years the Democratic majority in the New York State Assembly advanced bills its members knew the Republican-controlled Senate would not pass. Still other legislation, especially related to government ethics, transparency, and elections, stewed on the backburner with neither majority moving it forward. Those were the days of two-party rule in Albany, of a group of breakaway Democrats who buoyed Republicans, and a governor happy to straddle the middle. Since Democrats took over the Senate in 2019 those dynamics have shifted.
New York – NY Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin Submitted Incorrect Information on Background Check
Yahoo News – Michael Gartland (New York Daily News) | Published: 11/22/2021
New York Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin provided incorrect information on a background check he submitted to the governor’s office and state police as part of the vetting process he had to undergo to take on his current role. According to the background check form, which was signed by Benjamin, he answered “no” to an inquiry about whether he had ever been contacted by “a regulatory body concerning any possible legal, regulatory, ethical, or campaign finance, infraction or violation or investigation.” But Benjamin was contacted by at least two regulatory bodies over two campaign finance issues before the date he provided on the form.
New York – Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin Arraigned in State Probe
Albany Times Union – Kenneth Crowe and Brendan Lyons | Published: 12/1/2021
Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin stands accused of misusing campaign funds and falsifying campaign finance filings after a judge unsealed an indictment emerging from a long-running investigation by the state attorney general’s office and the FBI. The probe began as an investigation of his campaign for county executive and examined his financial dealings when he was a member of the New York Assembly. McLaughlin allegedly stole $5,000 from his campaign account in 2017 then falsely reported the expense in campaign documents filed with the state Board of Elections.
New York – Senate and Assembly Sexual Harassment Policies Are Not Strong Enough, Some Say
Albany Times Union – Michelle Del Rey | Published: 11/28/2021
Despite revisions to the New York Senate’s sexual harassment policy and state Assembly rules that lawmakers have touted as among the strongest in the nation, some say neither chamber’s policies go far enough to protect the employees that need it. The policies include provisions that some observers believe could discourage survivors from filing complaints, including a lack of transparency, and giving the Assembly speaker autonomy over final decisions once a complaint has been investigated and sustained.
North Dakota – North Dakota Ethics Measure Group Considers Complaint About Commission’s Transparency
Bismarck Tribune – Jack Dura | Published: 11/30/2021
Leaders of a 2018 ballot measure that created North Dakota’s Ethics Commission will consider filing a complaint about the board’s openness. The commission’s chairperson said he thinks the panel has been accessible to the public but acknowledged room for improvement. Members of North Dakotans for Public Integrity attended a public hearing intended to take public comment on proposed conflict-of-interest rules for state officials involved in “quasi-judicial” proceedings, such as members of the state Industrial Commission and the Public Service Commission.
Ohio – Big Questions Remain in Huge Medicaid Procurement
Ohio Capital Journal – Marty Schladen | Published: 11/29/2021
A Franklin County judge recently dismissed a lawsuit over the largest public procurement in Ohio history. But important questions remain about potential corruption and conflicts-of-interest among key players who had a say in how the contracts were awarded. The Ohio Department of Medicaid announced it was awarding a set of contracts worth $22 billion to six managed-care companies. A seventh got a $1 billion contract to set up and manage a program for children with complex behavioral needs. All the contracts but one went to huge, out-of-state companies, several of which have been accused by the state of fraud, price-gouging, or other issues.
Oregon – Redistricting Reduces Indigenous Voting Power in NW Legislative Races, Advocates Say
Portland Oregonian – Chris Aadland (Indian Country Today) | Published: 11/26/2021
As voting-rights advocates in Indian Country look to boost Indigenous representation in politics, some say redrawn political maps in Oregon will dilute the power of many Native American voters to elect the candidates who best understand their communities. At issue is how the state legislative maps were drawn for some Oregon tribal communities. Tribal advocates say the new districts will make it nearly impossible to elect candidates that are representative of those communities at a time when voter-engagement efforts were beginning to make that a possibility.
Pennsylvania – Pa. Commissioners Called LGBTQ Gathering a ‘Hate Group’ and Denied Funds to Library Where It Was to Meet. So Citizens Stepped In.
MSN – Sydney Page (Washington Post) | Published: 11/29/2021
The Fulton County Commission decided not to approve an additional $3,000 in funding for the local library, which has received $12,000 annually since 2016.Two commissioners on the three-member board said they denied the money because the library agreed to host a biweekly LGBTQ support group. Both commissioners claimed the LGBTQ community is considered a “hate group,” according to the Fulton County News. “If we support them, we have to support Proud Boys and Black Lives Matter,” Commissioner Randy Bunch is quoted as saying at a meeting.
South Carolina – SC Democrat Repeatedly Broke Ethics Law, Used Campaign Money to Pay for Netflix, Hulu
MSN – Caitlin Byrd (The State) | Published: 11/30/2021
Businessperson Phil Noble violated South Carolina law in 2018 when he spent thousands of campaign dollars on personal expenses, including Netflix and Hulu subscriptions, gourmet popcorn, and clothes from a Calvin Klein outlet store, all while his campaign failed to report details about who was contributing to his gubernatorial bid. One of Noble’s own campaign aides filed a complaint in October 2018 about insufficient and delinquent fundraising reports.
Texas – Reports Detail Texas Railroad Commissioners’ Ties to Oil and Gas Industry
Dallas Morning News – Philip Jankowsky | Published: 11/27/2021
A series of reports from an advocacy group has made broad allegations that all three elected members of the Texas Railroad Commission are too closely tied to the oil and gas industry they regulate. The nonprofit group Commission Shift in a series of reports undertaken with Texans for Public Justice alleges the Railroad Commission is a “captured” agency, one that has become so entwined with the industry it regulates that it can no longer effectively oversee it.
Virginia – Roanoke Councilman’s Magazine Refunds Money to City After Questions
Roanoke Times – Jeff Sturgeon | Published: 12/1/2021
Roanoke City Councilperson Robert Jeffrey Jr. engaged in a prohibited business transaction for $850 with the city earlier this year, according to an opinion of the Virginia Conflict of Interest and Ethics Advisory Council. Jeffrey, who accepted payment from the city for an advertisement in his magazine, has refunded the city’s money. Virginia law prohibits elected officials from receiving a financial benefit from any contract between their own governmental entity and themselves or their business.
Washington DC – For a City Still Struggling to Revitalize Its Downtown, Protests Become an Economic Lifeline
MSN – Emily Davies and Ellie Silverman (Washington Post) | Published: 11/29/2021
A subset of the local economy has become increasingly vital to the nation’s capital. With offices downtown still largely vacant and business travel to reach pre-pandemic levels, protests have become one of the most consistent draws to the District of Columbia – when out-of-towners come to exercise their First Amendment rights and then, maybe, go out to dinner. The National Park Service issued more than 245 demonstration permits from January through July of this year. City officials have embraced protest tourism in their attempts to revitalize downtown Washington.
Wisconsin – Panel Rules No Ethics Violation for Madison Assessor Who Gave Candy Bars to Review Body
Wisconsin State Journal – Logan Wroge | Published: 12/1/2021
The Madison Ethics Board dismissed a complaint against Chief City Assessor Michelle Drea. Developer Terrence Wall accused Drea of attempting to sway the Board of Review by giving out candy to members before a hearing on his objections to the assessment of two properties. Wall argued state and city ethics law prohibit providing “anything of value” to members of a public body if it could reasonably be expected to influence a vote or decision. “The candy is provided to ensure folks are not hungry and able to focus,” Drea said. “I just find it implausible to believe our ordinances disallow simple acts of kindness.”
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