News You Can Use Digest - February 12, 2021 - State and Federal Communications

February 12, 2021  •  

News You Can Use Digest – February 12, 2021

National/Federal

After Capitol Riot, Desperate Families Turn to Groups That ‘Deprogram’ Extremists
MSN – Paulina Villegas and Hannah Knowles (Washington Post) | Published: 2/5/2021

There is a surge of desperate families and friends calling organizations that aim to deradicalize and “deprogram” extremists across the ideological spectrum. Such groups say demand for their free services has never been higher. Parents for Peace says calls to its national helpline have tripled since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, with a growing number of younger people being groomed in white supremacist ideology. After supporters of then-President Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6, the intervention groups have experienced a deluge of calls related to the attack as well as to conspiracy theories and QAnon. The range of extremist ideas they encounter also has widened in the past year, driven by the 2020 election and the pandemic.

After Losing Committees, Marjorie Taylor Greene Says She Has Been ‘Freed’ to Push the GOP Further Right
Seattle Times – Mike DeBonis and Paul Kane (Washington Post) | Published: 2/5/2021

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene declared the House’s decision to remove her from her committee assignments has liberated her to build a political network aimed at supporting former President Trump and pushing the GOP further to the right. Greene’s comments demonstrated that far from being cowed by the uproar over the various extremist remarks she made in the years leading up to her election in November, she has only been emboldened in her social-media-fueled campaign against Democrats, cultural elites, and the media.

As Biden’s Son-in-Law Invests in COVID-19 Response, Questions of Family and Ethics Could Resurface
ABC News – Lucien Bruggeman | Published: 2/9/2021

During the 2020 presidential campaign, attention on Joe Biden’s family focused largely on his son, Hunter Biden. But experts say it is the president’s son-in-law, Howard Krein, who could present fresh ethical challenges for the new administration. Krein helps oversee StartUp Health investments in hundreds of companies, including some hoping to break through with the federal agencies battling the global coronavirus pandemic. Since 2011, when Krein co-founded the firm, Joe Biden has been an active supporter of the venture – headlining corporate conferences and inviting the company’s executives to the Oval Office to meet then-President Barack Obama.

First Circuit Rules Nonmember Workers Can’t Be Forced to Fund Union Lobbying
Center Square – Bethany Blankley | Published: 2/4/2021

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit rejected a request by a union in a case that has been ongoing on since 2009, handing a victory to a longtime non-union nurse who objected to being forced to pay for union lobbying expenses. For 11 years, United Nurses and Allied Professionals officials and lawyers have argued non-union nurses like the plaintiff, Jeanette Geary, and her fellow nurses who are not members of their workplace’s union, be required to pay union lobbying expenses. With free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Geary filed a federal complaint arguing the union infringed on her constitutionally protected rights under the foundation-won CWA v. Beck Supreme Court decision.

Former Mueller Prosecutor Predicts Increased Pursuit of Unregistered Foreign Agents
Politico – Caitlin Oprysko and Josh Gerstein | Published: 2/4/2021

Brandon Van Grack, the Justice Department official who spearheaded the department’s crackdown on unregistered foreign agents praised the department’s tougher approach to enforcing the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) and predicted the department will continue the crackdown under the Biden administration. Van Grack was a lead prosecutor on Robert Mueller’s team investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election. Mueller’s work spurred prosecutions that ensnared some of former President Trump’s top allies. The probe also revitalized FARA, the law requiring entities who represent a foreign government or political party to file disclosures detailing their work and sent chills down K Street.

How the Jan. 6 Riot Could Make It Tougher to Lobby
MSN – Kate Ackley (Roll Call) | Published: 2/8/2021

The coronavirus pandemic has shifted the lobbying industry online. The deadly assault on the Capitol ignited a fresh fear among lobbyists and activists. What if, they worry, new security measures keep them at a distance from the lawmakers and staff they aim to influence, long after the pandemic ends? Access is currency on K Street, and the subtleties of in-person relationship-building can be at least as important as crafting a policy message. Big-money lobbyists are likely to regain such interactions through fundraising events when they return post-pandemic, but rank-and-file lobbyists and advocates for lower-dollar influence campaigns say they are troubled at the prospect of no longer having access to the Capitol complex.

It’s Not a Typical Trial. Lawyers in the Trump Impeachment Case Will Argue Big Constitutional Questions.
MSN – Ann Marimow and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) | Published: 2/8/2021

The arguments by opposing lawyers in the Senate impeachment trial of former President Trump are expected to revolve largely around a pair of constitutional questions: a First Amendment defense of his fiery speech ahead of the violent January 6 attack on the Capitol and a challenge to the legality of putting a former president on trial. Trump is the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice, and the only one to be tried in the Senate after leaving office. While an impeachment proceeding is distinct from a typical criminal trial, with a different set of rules, Trump’s case will feature broad legal questions about whether his actions violate the Constitution.

Tester Revives ‘Spotlight Act’ on Dark Money
Billings Gazette – Tom Lutey | Published: 2/4/2021

U.S. Sen Jon Tester reintroduced the Spotlight Act, which would require nonprofits to reveal their major donors to the IRS. At issue are nonprofit “social welfare” groups registered under the 501(c)(4) section of the tax code. Another group, trade associations, fall under section 501(c)(6). These groups avoid disclosing donors by not attacking candidates outright, but instead focusing on a particular issue and what side of the issue a candidate chooses. The ads often end by encouraging people to call a candidate to express disapproval about a specific issue.

The Big Business of Online Politics: Buying your email address
Politico – Elena Schneider | Published: 2/10/2021

Avalanche, an email acquisition service, will charge Democratic campaigns and progressive groups to send emails to its list of prized online donors, allowing those groups to solicit contributions and expand their own email programs. Companies and groups like Avalanche are popping up to fill the hole left by Facebook and Google’s prolonged political ad bans, which bar campaigns and political groups from running ads on their platforms to draw in small-dollar donors. By cutting off that pipeline to voters and potential supporters, the tech giants have set off a race to find new ways to reach those contributors. One old-school fundraising tactic is regaining fresh traction: buying, renting, and swapping email lists.

Trump Broke Them. Now the Pandemic Is Bringing Them Together.
Politico – Stephanie Murray | Published: 2/10/2021

When the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) came to Boston for its annual summit in 2007, its members did not have to work hard to find common ground. By the time the conference returned to Boston in 2017, just as Donald Trump was taking office, partisanship had taken hold of a bipartisan group. Now, groups like the NCSL, the National Governors Association, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors are moving back to bipartisanship just as state and city leaders have been entrusted with more power than they have had in the nation’s history. If they continue to move toward unity, state and city leaders could once again turn the professional organizations into formidable lobbying groups capable of pressuring Congress, the president, and shaping the way American moves on from the pandemic.

Trump’s Political Operation Paid More Than $3.5 Million to Jan. 6 Organizers
Center for Responsive Politics – Anna Massoglia | Published: 2/10/2021

As former President Trump faces an impeachment trial on charges of inciting attacks on the U.S. Capitol, unanswered questions about the full extent of his ties to a nearby rally the same day highlight the need for more campaign finance transparency. Newly identified payments in recent FEC filings show people involved in organizing the protests on January 6 received even larger sums from Trump’s 2020 campaign than previously known. The Center for Responsive Politics unearthed more than $3.5 million in direct payments from Trump’s 2020 campaign, along with its joint fundraising committees, to people and firms involved in the Washington, D.C. demonstration before a violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol.

Two Republicans Fined for Bypassing Security Just Days After House Approved New Penalties
MSN – Felicia Sonmez and Derek Hawkins (Washington Post) | Published: 2/6/2021

Two Republican House members were fined $5,000 for bypassing the security screening that was set up outside the House chamber in the wake of the January 6 attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. Reps. Louie Gohmert and Andrew Clyde appear to be the first members punished under the rule, which says lawmakers who bypass the metal detectors that have been installed outside some doors to the chamber will be fined $5,000 for the first offense and $10,000 for each subsequent offense.

What of ‘Individual-1′? Feds’ Trump Campaign Case Is ‘Dead’
Associated Press News – Jim Mustian and Larry Neumeister | Published: 2/5/2021

The federal probe of hush money paid to cover up former President Trump’s alleged extramarital affairs has not been restarted, even though he no longer has the legal shield of the presidency. Trump’s exit from the White House prompted speculation that prosecutors might revive the investigation that sent his former attorney, Michael Cohen, to prison. An attorney for one key witness described the investigation as “dead,” adding prosecutors have even returned certain evidence they collected, a likely indication no one else will be charged.

From the States and Municipalities

Arizona Trump Campaign Paid Arizona State Rep. Mark Finchem $6,000 During Effort to Overturn Election Results
MSN – Andrew Oxford (Arizona Republic) | Published: 2/6/2021

Former President Trump’s reelection campaign reported paying $6,037 to a business owned by state Rep. Mark Finchem while the lawmaker pushed for the Legislature to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in Arizona. The campaign reported in its latest financial disclosure it made a payment on December 18 to “Mrk Finchem PLLC” and the address provided for the company is the lawmaker’s home. The campaign labeled the expense as “recount: legal consulting.” Lawmakers are required to disclose each business in which they have a position or a fiduciary relationship. Finchem did not address why the company is not listed on his most recent financial disclosure, which covered all of 2020.

California Ex-SoCal Mayor, 10 Others Charged in Corruption Probe
Courthouse News Service – Nathan Solis | Published: 2/4/2021

The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office charged former Maywood Mayor Ramon Medina and 10 others for “widespread corruption” that involved bribes for city contracts, embezzlement, and an attempt to heavily discount city property to secure a bingo hall. Investigators raided Maywood City Hall, the homes and businesses of Medina, and other locations. The searches came after an audit called out the city’s poor practices and more than $15 million in debt. Medina is alleged to have sought and received bribes from individuals and companies seeking to do business in Maywood, one of the county’s smallest and most densely populated cities.

California Lyft Could Pay About $3,000 for Failing to Disclose That It Paid for Some Ads in Its $48 Million Prop 22 Campaign
MSN – Katie Canales (Business Insider) | Published: 2/10/2021

Lyft faces a $3,371 fine for not disclosing it paid for some ads as part of its Proposition 22 campaign in California. The Fair Political Practices Commission is proposing the company be fined $1,499 for email ads that did not include a note indicating they were paid for by Lyft, $936 for robocalls and text ads that were also missing such a message, and $936 for robocalls and text ads that bore the wrong name. Instead of all workers having full-time employee status, Proposition 22 requires gig companies to provide an alternative set of benefits to cover expenses, including healthcare subsidies.

Georgia Georgia Prosecutors Open Criminal Investigation into Trump’s Efforts to Subvert Election Results
MSN – Amy Gardner (Washington Post) | Published: 2/10/2021

An Atlanta-area prosecutor has opened a criminal investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election result in Georgia in the wake of calls former President Trump placed to state officials, urging them to invalidate Joe Biden’s victory in the state. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis did not mention Trump by name but stated her office is examining a raft of potential criminal charges related to “attempts to influence” the administration of the 2020 election in the state. Prosecutors are scrutinizing all three of those calls, as well as the circumstances around the sudden resignation of the U.S. attorney in Atlanta.

Hawaii Hawaii Lawmakers Want Their ‘Gifts of Aloha’ Back
Honolulu Civil Beat – Blaze Lovell | Published: 2/4/2021

The Hawaii Ethics Commission recently approved rules that prevent lawmakers from accepting so-called gifts of aloha, generally small food items, especially from lobbyists, who along with their clients have often gifted such items to lawmakers and their staffs. The new rules were meant to clarify several laws dealing with ethics in state government and to prevent officials in positions of authority from accepting gifts that might appear improper. But the ban has given rise to questions concerning the circumstances in which a legislator may or may not accept food items given to them out of courtesy. For example, what happens if a constituent who is not a lobbyist offers a bottle of water?

Iowa Iowa Governor Auctioned off Access for Pork Barons’ Charity
Associated Press News – Ryan Foley | Published: 2/8/2021

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds auctioned off an afternoon of her time to raise money for the namesake charity of a couple who own one of the nation’s largest pork producers and have contributed nearly $300,000 to her campaign. The 2019 auction to benefit the Deb and Jeff Hansen Foundation provides a striking example of the governor’s close relationship with the state’s pork industry and particularly Iowa Select Farms, owned by the couple. Company staff members run the Hansens’ foundation, which sponsors charitable programs including giveaways of pork products to needy families. The time with Reynolds was advertised as an “afternoon with Iowa’s leading lady.”

Louisiana Former Top Gambling Regulator in Louisiana Taking Job as Advisor to British Gaming Company
The Advocate – Sam Karlin | Published: 2/8/2021

Ronnie Jones, the former top gambling regulator in Louisiana who was ousted from his post last year, is taking a new job as an advisor to the British gaming firm Entain, helping the company navigate the U.S. regulatory process as it expands a sports betting venture. The Louisiana Board of Ethics gave Jones the green light to do the work, after Jones asked for an advisory opinion about whether accepting the job would violate state ethics laws. Those laws bar former agency heads and board members from working for companies with business before their former agencies.

Maryland Advance Registration Required for Testifying at Legislature
Associated Press News – Audrey Decker (Capital News Service) | Published: 2/9/2021

Signing up to speak at a bill hearing or file written testimony got harder and for some, maybe impossible, after the coronavirus pandemic shifted how the Maryland General Assembly accepts witness testimonies. In previous years, interested parties would trek to Annapolis the morning of a bill hearing and sign up to testify. If they needed assistance in the process, lobbyists could do it for them. While the online system makes it accessible for people who couldn’t previously go to Annapolis in person, it has its own set of challenges.

Maryland Baltimore Officials Release Report on Prosecutor’s Travel
Associated Press News – Staff | Published: 2/9/2021

The top state prosecutor in Baltimore, a prominent figure in the racial justice movement, attended two dozen events outside Maryland in 2018 and 2019 without getting approval for more than half of the trips, according to an inspector general’s report. It also found Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby was physically absent from her job for 85 days during that time. While noting that almost $23,700 of the $27,015 total cost of the trips was paid by sponsoring organizations, the report found six of the 24 trips were paid for in full or in part by Mosby’s office or the city.

Mississippi Mississippi Politicians Continue to Enrich Themselves with Campaign Funds, Documents Show
Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal – Luke Ramseth | Published: 2/4/2021

Mississippi politicians continue to personally profit from their campaign funds, new state filings show, a practice that is illegal in many other states and at the federal level. Lawmakers passed campaign finance reforms in 2017 following embarrassing reports that showed how officials had spent donations on everything from children’s parties, to cars, to an $800 pair of cowboy boots. Yet a grandfather clause inserted into the legislation essentially let the unregulated spending continue as long as politicians used money raised before 2018.

Missouri Missouri Republicans Want Veto Power on Citizen Petitions That Change the Constitution
MSN – Austin Huguelet (Springfield News-Leader) | Published: 2/10/2021

Missouri Republicans are taking another run at making it harder for citizen petitions to change the state constitution. Now, once proposed constitutional amendments are approved by voters, the state Legislature cannot change them without asking voters first. Progressive groups have taken advantage of that in recent years to go straight to voters on ethics reform and Medicaid expansion that could not pass in the GOP-dominated Legislature. But in a committee hearing, Republicans said it is time to push back.

Nevada Lobbyists Alter Methods of Approach at Hushed Nevada Session
Las Vegas Sun – John Sadler | Published: 2/10/2021

The Nevada Legislature is closed to in-person lobbying because of COVID-19 protocols during the recently started legislative session, leaving lobbyists searching for new ways to connect with lawmakers. The halls of the statehouse are generally teeming with lobbyists hustling to make crucial connections, but that is far from the case in 2021. The hope among lobbyists is that restrictions could be eventually lifted to allow people into the statehouse before the end of the 120-day session in late May. In the interim they are connecting by telephone and videoconferencing apps like Zoom.

New Jersey How a National Insurance Agency and Political Insiders Work New Jersey’s Money Game
Gothamist – Nancy Solomon (WNYC) | Published: 2/9/2021

Acrisure, a national insurance company, may have secured government contracts worth millions of dollars by exploiting a loophole in New Jersey’s “pay-to-play” rules through the acquisition of branch offices once owned by well-connected political insiders that remain on the payroll. Those insiders, and its company employees, subsequently contributed more than $100,000 to lawmakers dating back to 2015 and sometimes days before those lawmakers voted on awarding lucrative contracts to Acrisure. New Jersey has one of the strongest “pay-to-play” laws in the country aimed at limiting campaign contributions by people who profit from government contracts. But the regulations vary from one municipal government to another in the state.

New Mexico New Mexico Legislature Advancing Bipartisan Redistricting Reform
The Hill – Reid Wilson | Published: 2/11/2021

A bipartisan plan to reform the way New Mexico draws its political boundaries is advancing through the state Legislature.  The measure would create an independent commission to draw district lines. Four members of the commission would be appointed by the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate, and another three – two independents or representatives of minor parties and one retired Court of Appeals judge – would be chosen by the state Ethics Commission. The commissioners cannot be public officials, candidates for office, or a registered lobbyist, and they cannot hold leadership positions in a political party at either the state or federal level.

New York Cor Development Fights State Ethics Panel Over Lobbying Allegations from 2016
MSN – Tim Knauss (Syracuse Post-Standard) | Published: 2/8/2021

It has been two-and-a-half years since two Cor Development executives were convicted on federal corruption charges related to their state business dealings. Now the company is fighting the New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics’ (JCOPE) slow-moving investigation into four-year-old allegations that grew out of the federal probe: that Cor failed to submit required lobbying disclosures. Cor seeks a court order barring JCOPE from investigating, arguing the agency waited too long to notify Cor of the probe and did not give the company a chance to promptly answer the allegations.

New York New York’s High Court Ends State Case Against Paul Manafort
Yahoo News – Jennifer Peltz and Michael Sisak (Associated Press) | Published: 2/8/2021

Paul Manafort will not face mortgage fraud charges in New York after the state’s highest court declined to revisit lower court decisions that barred prosecuting former President Trump’s onetime campaign chairperson on double jeopardy grounds. The New York Court of Appeals decision closed the door on charges against Manafort in the matter and came less than two months after Trump pardoned him in a similar federal case that had put him behind bars.

Ohio ‘Dark Money’ Group Admits Involvement in Householder Bribery Scandal
Columbus Dispatch – Sharon Coolidge and Dan Horn (Cincinnati Enquirer) | Published: 2/5/2021

A nonprofit entered a guilty plea in a $60 million bribery and racketeering scheme involving Ohio’s taxpayer-funded energy company bailout and former House Speaker Larry Householder, Generation Now admitted it was used to funnel millions of dollars in bribes from a utility company to Householder in relation to the passage of House Bill 6. Generation Now allowed the government to take nearly $1.5 million from two bank accounts and received five years of probation. Householder and four co-conspirators were charged in what federal prosecutors called the largest political corruption case in state history. Householder has pleaded not guilty. He was removed as speaker but won reelection to the Ohio House in November.

Ohio Democrats Seek a Reset Button in Ohio
Politico – James Arkin | Published: 2/8/2021

Democrats are searching for a winning strategy as they try to win an open U.S. Senate seat next year after Rob Portman’s retirement cracked open the door in a race that likely would have been an afterthought otherwise. But finding that formula has eluded the party. They are throwing out plenty of ideas, with varying degrees of difficulty: sever the local campaign from the “coastal” Democratic brand; focus on jobs and the economy to reclaim some lost ground with working-class whites; kindle greater excitement among Black voters to turn out in large numbers and grow the party base. But the trends are bleak: the GOP swept every statewide office except Sherrod Brown’s Senate seat over the last decade.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s Grandson Hired as Lobbyist for Electric Vehicle Manufacturer Lordstown Motors
MSN – Andrew Tobias (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 2/4/2021

A prominent Ohio electric vehicle startup has hired Gov. Mike DeWine’s grandson as a lobbyist as it seeks state incentives, law changes, and other state government help to get its business off the ground. Matt DeWine is a lobbyist for Lordstown Motors. He started as an intern with last June, a month after he graduated from Miami University and was hired full-time in July. The same month his grandson was hired as an intern, Gov. DeWine visited the Lordstown plant after receiving a private tour.

Ohio Uproar Over Dominion Voting Machines in One Ohio County Shows Trump’s Falsehoods Linger
MSN – Hannah Knowles (Washington Post) | Published: 2/8/2021

Late last year, officials in an Ohio county voted to buy Dominion voting machines. It was a good deal for the county, said Stark County Board of Elections Director Jeff Matthews. It was also a step into a firestorm as Donald Trump’s supporters were incorrectly accusing Dominion Voting Systems of helping to rig the 2020 results. Two months later, the county has yet to replace its aging voting equipment while May primaries loom. The all-Republican board of commissioners has fielded a deluge of upset callers and spent a recent meeting peppering election staff with doubts and questions. The situation is a testament to how viral accusations repeatedly debunked by courts and authorities have persisted, hanging over local decision-making and saddling officials with the task of somehow rebuilding public trust.

Oklahoma Bill Reauthorizing Virtual Meetings Zooms Through Oklahoma House
Tulsa World – Randy Krehbiel | Published: 2/8/2021

Oklahoma lawmakers sent to the governor a bill that allows public bodies such as school boards and city councils to convene virtually. In addition, state Ethics Commission Executive Director Ashley Kemp told a House subcommittee the agency may not be able to function much longer if it does not get a larger appropriation and relief from a statute that caps the fines and fees collected annually at $150,000. Kemp is asking for an additional $350,000 for two staff members and to begin full oversight of political subdivisions such as towns and counties.

Oregon Oregon Rep. Diego Hernandez Could Face Removal After Harassment Investigation
MSN – Claire Withycombe (Salem Statesman Journal) | Published: 2/5/2021

The House Committee on Conduct recommended the full chamber expel Rep. Diego Hernandez after finding he engaged in sexual and workplace harassment and created a hostile work environment. The committee found Hernandez violated standards of conduct for House members in his treatment of three women, all of whom had business at the Capitol. The panel concluded Hernandez pressured two women to restart romantic relationships and subjected a long-term partner to controlling and abusive treatment.

Pennsylvania Sons of Top Two Pa. Senate Leaders Are Registered Lobbyists for Same Firm
Lancaster Online – Gillian McGoldrick | Published: 2/4/2021

The sons of the Pennsylvania Senate’s two top leaders are both registered lobbyists for the same firm that lobbies on behalf of some of the state’s largest corporations. Mike Ward, the son of Majority Leader Kim Ward, and Anthony Costa, the son of Minority Leader Jay Costa, are both Pittsburgh-based lobbyists for Cameron Companies. Given Ward’s and Costa’s direct relationships to the top Republican and Democrat in the Senate, the sons’ clients could get special treatment across the Legislature and a leg-up in getting their legislative priorities across the finish line, said Khalif Ali, executive director of Common Cause Pennsylvania.

Rhode Island RI Ethics Commissioner Resigns Amid Controversy Over Role in Smiley Campaign
MSN – Katherine Gregg (Providence Journal) | Published: 2/5/2021

Rhode Island Ethics Commission member Emili Vaziri resigned from the panel following two campaign meetings that took place at her law office. State law bars commission members from participating in political campaigns. The meetings involved Department of Administration Director Brett Smiley, who is running for Providence mayor, and political operative Ed Cotugno. Vaziri was among the commissioners who voted in favor of an advisory opinion clearing the way for Smiley to start raising money for his campaign. The resignation comes in the wake of a series of controversies around Smiley’s fundraising and political activities while leading the agency that distributes and oversees hundreds of millions of dollars in state contracts.

South Carolina SC Gov. McMaster Fires Agency Chief for Contract to Her Husband’s Employer
MSN – Maayan Schechter (The State) | Published: 2/8/2021

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster removed the director he appointed to the State Accident Fund over a recent contract worth upwards of $600,000 the governor said was awarded to a company that hired her husband to do the work. McMaster called for an investigation into whether ousted Director Amy Cofield played a role in guiding the state agency’s funding to her husband’s employer, and in effect to him, through the contract.

Tennessee Tennessee: FBI raid no excuse for not filing campaign report
Associated Press News – Kimberlee Kruesi | Published: 2/10/2021

Campaign finance officials offered little sympathy to a lawmaker who said he was unable to complete a recent campaign finance report due the FBI confiscating all his campaign files. Rep. Todd Warner was one of several Tennessee lawmakers whose homes and offices were searched by federal agents earlier this year. Warner told the Registry of Election Finance he could not complete his most recent report because he did not have access to key documents. “‘The FBI took my paperwork’ is not excuse for not filing your report,” said Registry member Henry Fincher.

Utah Utah Ethics Commission Received ‘Multiple’ Concerns in 2020, Didn’t Investigate Any Cases
KUTV – Jim Spiewak | Published: 2/4/2021

Investigating those in the highest levels of government has become tougher through the years in Utah. There are some lawmakers who want more options for legitimate complaints to be further reviewed. Anyone can file a complaint with Utah Executive Branch Ethics Commission, a group made up of five volunteers tasked with investigating claims of unethical or illegal behavior, and several were filed in 2020.None were investigated.

Washington DC K Street, Political Parents Channel Advocacy into Reopening Schools
MSN – Kate Ackley (Roll Call) | Published: 2/9/2021

The debate over pandemic schooling has ignited passion and protest across the nation. But in the District of Columbia area where some parents hail from K Street, Capitol Hill, and candidate campaigns, the volunteer advocates bring a level of polish to rival politically connected teachers’ unions as they seek to sway local and state officials. The parent advocacy campaigns across the region, which skews Democratic and racially diverse, span the political spectrum.  Many parents lobbying for a return to schools say they are frustrated by the politics of the debate, especially last year when then-President Trump said he wanted buildings to welcome students back, ginning up opposition from liberals.

Wisconsin Wisconsin Health Official Won’t Handle Matters Affecting Former Clients
MSN – Patrick Marley and Mary Spicuzza (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) | Published: 2/8/2021

Wisconsin’s new health secretary, Karen Timberlake, said she would recuse herself from matters affecting her former lobbying clients. That goes beyond what state law requires. As a lobbyist with Michael Best Strategies, Timberlake represented DentaQuest, an oral health company; MyPath, a company that serves people with disabilities; Rogers Behavioral Health, which lobbies to raise Medicaid payments for behavioral health providers; and the Network for Innovation in Senior Care, a consortium of long-term and rehabilitative care providers. When Timberlake leaves her government post, she will not be able to immediately return to lobbying on the same issues.

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