News You Can Use Digest - February 5, 2021 - State and Federal Communications

February 5, 2021  •  

News You Can Use Digest – February 5, 2021

National/Federal

An Emboldened Extremist Wing Flexes Its Power in a Leaderless G.O.P.
New York Times – Annie Karni and Sam Baker | Published: 2/1/2021

With no dominant leader other than a one-term president, a radical right movement that became emboldened under President Trump has been maneuvering for more power in the Republican Party and ascending in different states and congressional districts. More moderate Republicans feel increasingly under attack, but so far have made little progress in galvanizing voters, donors, or new recruits for office to push back against extremism. Nothing is defining and dividing the GOP more than loyalty to Trump and his false claims about the election.

Biden Brother’s Role in Florida Law Firm Complicates White House Ethics Message
MSN – Annie Linskey (Washington Post) | Published: 2/3/2021

President Biden’s younger brother promoted his relationship with the president in an advertisement for a law firm published on Inauguration Day. Frank Biden, listed as a senior advisor for Berman Law Group, was featured in the firm’s ad in the Daily Business Review along with quotes describing his relationship with the new president and their family name. President Biden has promised to lead a highly ethical administration, which he has pitched as a contrast to his predecessor, and adopted strict rules form those serving in his administration, although they do not necessarily apply to family members. A White House official said a process is in place, involving the counsel’s office and representatives of the family, to address potential conflicts-of-interest as they arise.

House Adopts Fines for Lawmakers Who Don’t Comply with Metal Detectors
The Hill – Cristina Marcos | Published: 2/3/2021

The U.S. House adopted new rules that will enact fines against lawmakers who refuse to comply with the security screenings now required for entry into the chamber in the wake of the January 6 insurrection. Fines of $5,000 for the first offense and $10,000 for the second are now in effect. The metal detectors outside the House chamber were installed days after the attack on the Capitol, but several House Republicans defiantly pushed past Capitol Police officers and sergeant-at-arms staff into the chamber without going through the metal detectors. Lawmakers will not be able to use campaign money or congressional office budget funds to pay the fines.

House Democrats Revive Bill to Ban Colleagues from Carrying Guns on Capitol Grounds
MSN – Meagan Flynn (Washington Post) | Published: 1/28/2021

U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman filed the No Congressional Gun Loophole Act, seeking to nullify regulations that exempt members of Congress from a federal law banning guns on Capitol grounds. The move is likely to rankle Republicans who, in some cases, have refused to cooperate with security screenings put in place in the wake of the siege of January 6. Huffman has pushed to prohibit his colleagues from toting guns since 2018 but he says the overheated political environment and the behavior by some House Republicans in recent weeks “have really helped underscore” the need to refile the bill at this moment.

House Opens Investigation of Pandemic Ventilator Purchases Overseen by White House
MSN – Reed Albergotti and Aaron Gregg (Washington Post) | Published: 1/27/2021

A House subcommittee is investigating a government deal to buy $70 million worth of ventilators for the coronavirus pandemic response that a Washington Post investigation found were inadequate for treating most covid-19 patients. The Department of Health and Human Services and the Defense Logistics Agency purchased 11,200 AutoMedx SAVe II+ ventilators from Combat Medical Systems, which distributes the devices. Adrian Urias, AutoMedx’s co-founder and current shareholder, advised the Trump administration’s covid-19 task force on ventilator purchases. When the government posted the minimum specifications that ventilator manufacturers had to meet to sell devices for the pandemic response, those specifications were nearly identical to a spec sheet listed on AutoMedx’s website at the time.

Nonprofit Tied to Amalgamated Bank Looks to Capture Corporate Donors Through New Fund Following Capitol Hill Riot
CNBC – Brian Schwartz | Published: 2/2/2021

A nonprofit tied to Amalgamated Bank is launching a fund with the intent of capturing political donations from corporations that have stopped giving after the riot on Capitol Hill. The Amalgamated Charitable Foundation, a 501(c)(3) that calls itself nonpartisan, is moving ahead with the Democracy Reinvestment Fund. It will take in corporate donations and use that money to help finance other nonprofit organizations. Though officials did not say which corporations the fund is going to target, a group of companies decided to halt contributions to House and Senate lawmakers who, even after the deadly riot, challenged the electoral results confirming Joe Bide as president.

Rep. Lauren Boebert’s Mileage Reimbursement ‘Raises Red Flags,’ Ethics Experts Say
MSN – Jason Wingerter (Denver Post) | Published: 2/2/2021

U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert paid herself more than $22,000 in mileage reimbursements from her campaign account last year. Her campaign defends the reimbursements but three ethics experts who reviewed the money transfers say they raise questions. To justify those reimbursements, Boebert would have had to drive 38,712 miles while campaigning, despite having no publicly advertised campaign events in March, April, or July, and only one in May. Because the reimbursements came in two payments – a modest $1,060 at the end of March and $21,200 on November 11 – Boebert would have had to drive 36,870 miles in just over seven months between April 1 and Nov. 11 to justify the second payment.

Secretive Ethics Panel Will Judge Hawley and Cruz
Politico – Burgess Everett | Published: 1/31/2021

Former President Trump’s impeachment trial will be conducted on the Senate floor, live on television. The investigation into Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley will take place behind closed doors by one of the most secretive committees in Congress. After multiple leading Democrats called for the two Republicans to resign, Cruz and Hawley’s challenge to President Biden’s Electoral College win is now tied up in the opaque Senate Ethics Committee. While Trump’s impeachment trial will conclude quickly, the probe into whether the two senators played a role in inciting the violent Capitol attack will unwind over an interminable timetable with little hint of where it is going.

Small Donors Ruled 2020; Will That Change Post-Trump?
Center for Responsive Politics – Krystal Hur | Published: 2/2/2021

Small donors played a pivotal role in financing both Democratic and Republican campaigns in the 2020 election. With Donald Trump in Florida and President Biden taking his place in the White House, it remains unclear whether small donations will continue to pour in for either party. As the GOP’s reign in Washington, D.C. comes to an end, so have its relationships with some corporate power players who have historically been influential supporters of the party. The role of “dark money” in future elections could be complicated if the For the People Act; a campaign finance reform bill, is passed.

Trump Supporter Charged in 2016 Twitter Scheme to Undermine Hillary Clinton
MSN – Shayna Jacobs (Washington Post) | Published: 1/27/2021

A far-right social media influencer was arrested and accused of interfering in the 2016 election through an organized campaign to boost Donald Trump’s candidacy by conning supporters of Hillary Clinton into voting through illegitimate means such as text message or online. Prosecutors allege Douglass Mackey used an alias, reportedly derived from actor Charlie Sheen’s character Ricky Vaughn in the 1989 film “Major League,” to circulate messages on Twitter that encouraged Clinton’s supporters to “Avoid the line. Vote from home,” according to charging documents. Nearly 5,000 people fell for the ploy, according to the Brooklyn U.S. attorney’s office, which announced the arrest.

Trump’s Actions Described as ‘a Betrayal of Historic Proportions’ in Trial Brief Filed by House Impeachment Managers
MSN – Amy Gardner, Karoun Demirjian, and Colby Itkowitz (Washington Post) | Published: 2/2/2021

House Democrats made their case to convict former President Trump of inciting the riot at the U.S. Capitol in an impeachment brief, accusing Trump of jeopardizing the foundations of American democracy by whipping his supporters into a “frenzy” for the sole purpose of retaining his hold on the presidency. Impeachment managers made an impassioned case that Trump was “singularly responsible” for the mayhem. They argued he is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors because he used the powers of his office to advance his personal political interests at the expense of the nation. Trump’s defense attorneys filed a response to the article of impeachment, denying Trump incited the crowd at his rally to storm the Capitol and “engage in destructive behavior.” The brief also disputed that Trump’s claims of voter fraud were false.

Trump’s Legal Team Exited After He Insisted Impeachment Defense Focus on False Claims of Election Fraud
MSN – Josh Dawsey, Tom Hamburger, and Amy Gardner (Washington Post) | Published: 1/31/2021

The implosion of former President Trump’s legal team comes as Trump remains fixated on arguing at his second impeachment trial that the 2020 election was stolen from him, a defense that advisers warn is ill-conceived and Republican strategists fear will fuel the growing divide in the GOP. Karl Bowers Jr. and four other attorneys who recently signed on to represent the former president abruptly parted ways with him days before his Senate trial for his role in inciting the attack on the U.S. Capitol. Trump’s office announced two new lawyers were taking over his defense.

Trump-Tied Lobbyists’ Revenues Peaked in President’s Final Year
Center for Responsive Politics – Karl Evers-Hillstrom | Published: 1/28/2021

Lobbyists selling their connections to former President Trump capped off a lucrative four-year run with their best year in 2020. After raking in millions of dollars from high-profile clients, these Washington influencers are already losing clients under President Biden but could still benefit from Trump’s continued influence over the GOP. Wealthy interests attempted to get their message across to Trump through groups that supported his run for president. Consultants asked Trump’s popular Twitter allies to push their clients’ message to the president on his favorite app. Lobbyists pushed to plant stories in conservative outlets that would make it into Trump’s daily news packet or air ads on his favorite TV shows.

US Score Falls in Economist’s Annual Democracy Index
The Hill – Celine Castronuevo | Published: 2/3/2021

The overall state of democracy in the U.S. declined last year, according to an annual ranking by The Economist’s Intelligence Unit, which cited the continued erosion of trust in the country’s institutions. The U.S. retained its rank as the 25th most democratic nation, out of 167 countries analyzed, but remains in the “flawed democracy” category after being demoted from the “full democracy” group in 2016, the report said. The report measures five main categories –electoral process and pluralism; civil liberties; the functioning of government; political participation; and political culture –and assigns scores to each one.

From the States and Municipalities

Arizona Voter Protection Act Blocking Bipartisan Bill
Arizona Capitol Times – Greta Forslund | Published: 1/29/2021

A bill introduced by Arizona Rep. Leo Biasiucci’s proposes that judges could order people to do community service, valued at $12 an hour, as payment for their tickets rather than money. Lawmakers like the idea because it is criminal justice reform that both helps those in need and serves the community. Opponents said the Voter Protection Act applies to the bill because it could cut funding to the voter-approved Clean Elections Commission. Biasiucci said while he recognizes the Clean Elections Commission is funded by traffic tickets, there are 17 or 18 other agencies also funded by those tickets, and he did not want to pick just one agency to be exempt from the bill.

California San Diego Unified School District’s Federal Lobbying Efforts Come Under Scrutiny by Parent Group
La Jolla Light – Kristen Taketa (San Diego Union Tribune) | Published: 1/30/2021

A watchdog group criticized the San Diego Unified School District for spending tens of thousands of dollars, including some coronavirus relief money, on a federal lobbying firm. The school board hired The Raben Group with a contract worth up to $150,000 to advocate for more school stimulus funding, advance the district’s interests among federal lawmakers, and raise the district’s “profile as a leader,” according to the contract. It is not uncommon for school districts to lobby, said Dan Auble, researcher for the Center for Responsible Politics.  He said he does not know if lobbying is an allowable use of CARES Act funding; generally, federal contractors are prohibited from spending their contract money on lobbying.

Florida Proud Boys and Black Lives Matter Activists Clashed in a Florida Suburb. Only One Side Was Charged.
MSN – Tim Craig (Washington Post) | Published: 2/2/2021

When local Black Lives Matter activists started marching through the small town of New Port Richey, Florida, last summer – shouting slogans through bullhorns demanding racial justice – it took only a few days for the Proud Boys and other counter-protesters to show up and confront them. Groups of mostly White men encircled the demonstrators. They revved motorcycles while yelling threats, obscenities, and support for the police and President Trump, at times using their own bullhorns. Amid fears that the confrontations could lead to violence, police started enforcing the town’s rarely used noise ordinance, which essentially forbids disturbances louder than a close conversation between two people. But only the Black Lives Matter protesters were cited.

Illinois Former Gubernatorial Candidate McCann Indicted on Campaign Finance Charges
State Journal-Register – Ben Szalinski | Published: 2/3/2021

Former Illinois Sen. Sam McCann was indicted on multiple charges alleging he misused campaign funds for personal expenses. The indictment alleges McCann used campaign money for things like vehicles, personal debts, mortgages, and pay for himself. After losing the November 2018 governor’s race, the charges state McCann continued to pay himself with funds from the Conservative Party for a total of about $187,000.

Illinois Worth Township Trustee Pleads Guilty to Tax Charge Stemming from Ongoing Political Corruption Probe
Yahoo News – Jason Meisner (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 2/1/2021

A Worth Township trustee pleaded guilty to a federal tax charge and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in their ongoing political corruption investigation in Illinois. Richard Lewandowski pleaded guilty to a criminal information charging him with one misdemeanor count of failing to file an income tax return in 2018. Lewandowski’s plea makes him the latest Democratic player to cooperate in a corruption investigation that has stretched from Chicago to Springfield. Lewandowski is a former state representative and ally of ex-House Speaker Michael Madigan who resigned as a supervisor last year amid the investigation involving red-light camera company SafeSpeed.

Indiana As Indiana’s Legislature Considers Redistricting This Year, Experts Look Back on the Impact of Gerrymandering
Chicago Tribune – Alexandra Kukulka (Post Tribune) | Published: 1/28/2021

When states are given the opportunity to redraw district lines every 10 years following the census, it is common for the political party with the majority within the state to redraw districts in their favor, known as gerrymandering. Officials announced the Indiana Legislature will likely have to hold a special session over the summer because of a delay in the completion of data from the 2020 census. Julia Vaughn, policy director for Common Cause Indiana, said the organization was excited to hear that Indiana will review redistricting in a special session.

Iowa Iowa Republicans Considering Giving Political Ideology the Same Protections as Race, Religion, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation
MSN – Stephen Gruber-Miller (Des Moines Register) | Published: 1/27/2021

Political ideology would join race, religion, gender identity, and sexual orientation as a protected class in the Iowa Civil Rights Act if a Republican proposal in the state Legislature were to become law. The bill’s supporters claim protecting political ideology is necessary to push back against “cancel culture,” which they said has resulted in supporters of former President Trump and others being targeted.

Iowa Iowa’s House Speaker Said He Can’t Make Lawmakers Wear Masks – But He Did Enforce a Ban on Jeans
MSN – Teo Armus (Washington Post) | Published: 2/4/2021

State Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell protested the lack of a mask mandate by violating the dress code of the Iowa House floor, where face coverings are not required during the legislative session. She wore jeans to the floor, which goes against the new rules for this year. When Wessel-Kroeschell tried to speak during a floor debate, Speaker Pat Grassley said he would not recognize her. Grassley has previously said he cannot mandate lawmakers to wear face coverings on the House floor. “Not wearing a mask can kill people. … They’re putting all of us in danger. So, if they can enforce a denim dress code, they can also enforce a mask mandate,” Wessel-Kroeschell said.

Kansas Michael O’Donnell Hit with $25,000 Fine After Admitting to Campaign Law Violations
MSN – Chance Swaim (Wichita Eagle) | Published: 1/27/2021

Former Sedgwick County Commissioner Michael ‘’Donnell was fined $25,000 after admitting to nine campaign finance violations. The Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission fined O’Donnell for violations that included using campaign money for personal use and fraudulent reporting. He was accused of funneling money to four friends, who he falsely claimed were campaign workers. O’Donnell’s fine is the second highest in the history of Kansas campaign finance laws. The violations are the latest round of legal proceedings tied to O’Donnell’s controversial political career.

Maryland Lawmakers, Governor Push Reforms at Maryland Environmental Service After Director’s Payout
Baltimore Sun – Pamela Wood | Published: 1/27/2021

State lawmakers are considering a long list of changes to the Maryland Environmental Service (MES), a low-profile independent agency thrust into the spotlight after its director received a six-figure payout when he left to work for Gov. Larry Hogan. The bill would restrict future payouts, restructure the board, and add new requirements, such as ethics training. The MES came under scrutiny after it was reported the ex-director, Roy McGrath, had been paid more than $238,000 when he departed to become Hogan’s chief of staff. McGrath called it “severance” pay, though he voluntarily left the agency to join the governor’s team at the same salary.

Massachusetts Boston City Council Votes to Bypass Special Election for Mayor
WBTS – Staff | Published: 2/3/2021

The Boston City Council approved a petition that would bypass the otherwise required special election if Mayor Marty Walsh resigns before March 5. Councilor Ricardo Arroyo filed the petition after President Joe Biden nominated Walsh as labor secretary. Arroyo said that given the COVID-19 crisis, it would be irresponsible for the city to potentially hold four elections – a special, the regularly scheduled November contest, and preliminary elections preceding each – in a five-month span. The change needs approval from the state Legislature, Walsh, and Gov. Charlie Baker to take effect.

Massachusetts Mariano Plans Look at Unregistered Advocacy Coalitions, House Rules Changes
Springfield Patriot-Ledger – Katie Lannan (State House News Service) | Published: 1/28/2021

Promising meaningful short-term reforms paired with an exploration of unregistered advocacy coalitions, Massachusetts House Speaker Ronald Mariano plans to seek a review of rules that govern House operations during a six-month extension of pandemic-era emergency rules. The move, which comes as activists are lobbying for changes that they say would make it easier to track the progress of legislation and force recorded votes on priority bills, would put off what is usually one of the first matters of legislative business at the outset of a new session.

Missouri State Rep. Tricia Derges Indicted by Grand Jury, Accused of Faking Stem Cell Treatments
MSN – Austin Huguelet (Springfield News-Leader) | Published: 2/2/2021

A federal grand jury indicted Missouri Rep. Patricia Derges on fraud charges after she falsely promoted a treatment she was selling at medical clinics as containing stem cells that could treat various diseases, including COVID-19. The indictment also accuses Derges of illegally providing prescription drugs to clients and making false statements to federal agents investigating the case. Derges is not a physician but is licensed as an assistant physician, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. She operates three Ozark Valley Medical Clinic sites.

New York Manhattan District Attorney Considering Prosecuting Stephen Bannon Following His Pardon by Trump in Federal Fraud Case
MSN – Shayna Jacobs (Washington Post) | Published: 2/2/2021

The Manhattan district attorney’s office is weighing whether to bring a state court case against Stephen Bannon, who was indicted on federal fraud charges for his role in a fundraising scheme to build a border wall but received a last-minute pardon from then-President Trump. Bannon, one of the architects of Trump’s 2016 election victory and briefly a White House adviser, was among 143 people who received pardons from Trump in his last 24 hours in office. Bannon left the White House early in Trump’s term after he fell out with the president, who wavered until the last minute on issuing his former strategist a pardon.

North Dakota Bill Seeks More Transparency in Political Advertisements
Dickinson Press – Dylan Sherman (North Dakota Newspaper Association) | Published: 2/1/2021

While candidate campaigns, PACs, and ballot measure sponsors disclose their donors over $200 in North Dakota, independent expenditures do not have as much transparency. House Bill 1451 would impost the same disclosure requirements for independent expenditures. Rep. Jason Dockter chairs the Political Subdivisions Committee, which will consider the bill. He said more transparency in political spending would be beneficial to all in North Dakota.

Ohio Cincinnati City Hall Hopes New Ethics Panel Will Shore Up Public Trust After Council Arrests
WCPO – Mariel Carbone | Published: 1/27/2021

After three high-profile arrests involving city council members accused of cutting crooked deals with local property developers, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley has appointed an ethics panel to reevaluate the city’s official interactions with developers. The members of the nine-seat panel include former lawyers, judges, business leaders, political leaders, a pastor, and a real-estate developer. The three council members were accused of soliciting money in exchange for tipping City Hall’s scales in certain local developers’ favor.

Ohio Ex-Columbus City Hall Lobbyist, Franklin County Authority Member John Raphael Agrees to Bribery Plea
MSN – Bill Bush (Columbus Dispatch) | Published: 2/3/2021

John Raphael, a former Columbus City Hall lobbyist, again agreed to plead guilty to corruption charges for billing clients “success fees” that were really intended as bribes in return for securing public contracts. For the second time since 2016, Raphael is facing prison for his role in a bribery and kickback scheme he caried out as a member of the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority, the entity that owns the Greater Columbus Convention Center. Raphael acknowledged that at the same time he was a member of the facilities authority, he was a paid consultant to a food services company whom he supplied with confidential information that helped it win a business contract with the authority to supply the convention center.

Ohio P.G. Sittenfeld’s PAC at Center of Corruption Case: ‘Secret slush fund’ or legal account?
WCPO – Paula Christian | Published: 1/27/2021

The FBI arrested Cincinnati City Councilperson P.G. Sittenfeld in November and charged him with honest services wire fraud, bribery, and attempted extortion. Prosecutors call Sittenfeld’s PAC, where he deposited $40,000 from undercover FBI agents allegedly in exchange for his support on a development project, a slush fund. But experts say Sittenfeld’s case is different from two other council members charged in separate bribery cases, in part because he allegedly asked for contributions to his PAC, and not money for personal use. Experts also question whether prosecutors can prove he performed an official action to benefit the project that is tied to those donations.

Oregon Oregon Lawmakers: Rep. Diego Hernandez created a hostile workplace
OPB – Lauren Drake | Published: 2/2/2021

Oregon lawmakers found Rep. Diego Hernandez created a hostile workplace at the state Capitol for at least one woman who worked in the building. His conduct violated legislative conduct rules, a committee decided. Lawmakers are holding a series of hearings into Hernandez’s alleged behavior. The inquiry delves into the allegations of five women, identified only as “subject one” through “subject five.” The investigators could not substantiate claims made by two women.

Tennessee Tennessee Lawmaker in Email to State Officials: FBI took all campaign files in search
MSN – Jonathan Matisse (Associated Press) | Published: 1/27/2021

One of several Republican state lawmakers in Tennessee whose homes and legislative offices were searched by federal agents said the FBI confiscated all files and documents related to his campaign. Newly sworn-in Rep. Todd Warner provided the details to the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance to explain why he could not complete his most recent campaign finance report on time.

Texas Should Cities’ Funds Be Used to Pay Lobbyists? Texas Bill Bids to Put a Stop to It
Austin American-Statesman – Philip Jankowski | Published: 2/2/2021

Proposed legislation would make it illegal for cities, counties, and other local government entities in Texas to hire lobbyists. Efforts to ban taxpayer-funded lobbying emerged in part from the annoyance of lawmakers who saw cities and counties push back in 2019 against their work to pass a property tax cap law. State Rep. Mayes Middleton said his bill removes the middleman between local governments and legislators, and local lawmakers elected to represent their cities or counties should be speaking to state lawmakers directly, instead of spending taxpayer dollars on lobbyists.

Utah What Do Special Interests Get for Providing $9 of Every $10 in Utah Legislators’ Campaigns?
MSN – Lee Davidson (Salt Lake Tribune) | Published: 1/28/2021

Utah is one of only 10 states with no campaign contribution limits. Utah also allows direct donations from corporations, which is banned in 22 states. With laws so friendly to interest groups, nearly a third of Utah legislators who raised money last year received nothing from voters in their districts, largely because they did not need their money. The situation perpetually raises questions about how much access and influence special interests may be buying on Utah’s Capitol Hill, and whether legislators are beholden to them. Lawmakers and political scientists generally say it does not buy votes, but likely does improve access for donors to make their case to policymakers.

Vermont Peddle Power: In a remote democracy, lobbyists adapt to remain relevant
Seven Days – Kevin McCallum | Published: 2/2/2021

Unable to buttonhole senators in the halls or grab lunch with committee chairpersons in the cafeteria, lobbyists in Vermont found their working lives disrupted. Yet even as their stock-in-trade – access to lawmakers – has been curtailed, demand for their influence has remained as strong as ever. Decisions made in Montpelier, from executive lockdown orders to legislative spats over who should receive relief funds, have taken on existential import, raising the stakes for lobbyists and their clients.

Virginia Legislator Censured After Praising Capitol Rioters Files Suit against Virginia Senate
MSN – Laura Vozzella (Washington Post) | Published: 2/1/2021

Virginia Sen. Amanda Chase, who was censured after she praised those who stormed the U.S. Capitol as “patriots,” filed a federal lawsuit contending the rebuke from her Senate colleagues violated her constitutional rights. The Senate censured Chase, a Trump-style populist seeking the GOP nomination for governor, for what it described as a pattern of “unacceptable conduct.” The censure resolution criticized Chase for praising the insurrectionists, but also detailed incidents stretching back several years, including a 2019 episode in which she cursed at a state Capitol police officer over a parking spot.

Washington With 1 in 5 Lobbyists Coming from State Service, Washington State Lawmakers Hear Bill to Restrict Revolving Door
The Columbian – Joseph O’Sullivan (Seattle Times) | Published: 1/28/2021

As a handful of state lawmakers filed a bill to create a one-year waiting period for public officials to become lobbyists, a “revolving-door” example emerged from Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s office. Charles Knutson, a senior policy adviser for the governor on economic development, innovation, and global affairs, left that position on December 22. By January 6, Knutson had registered as a lobbyist with Amazon. In Olympia, Knutson’s two-week journey from government staffer to private policy work is far from unusual. Officials often move from state positions to lobbying in weeks or months, sometimes within days. Nearly one in five of the state’s approximately 800 registered lobbyists worked previously in elected office or state government.

Washington DC The Capitol Fence Meant D.C. Couldn’t Enact Laws. Vice President Harris’s Office Stepped In.
Washington Post – Julie Zauzmer | Published: 2/1/2021

The new security fencing around the U.S. Capitol led to an unusual scene – a District of Columbia employee and a staffer for Vice President Harris, meeting up in a hotel lobby to hand off boxes stuffed with legislative texts. It was the city government’s solution to an unusual problem: federal law requires the council to deliver, by hand, copies of each bill it passes to Congress. But after the breach of the Capitol by a mob trying to overturn former President Trump’s electoral defeat, strict new security measures were put in place. Staffers from the city government were not allowed through the seven-foot-tall fence to deliver bills.

West Virginia Federal Judge Rules in Lobbyist Lawsuit Against State Education Officials
Weirton Daily Times – Steven Allen Adams | Published: 1/28/2021

A federal judge ruled, in part, that a former state superintendent of schools and Department of Education officials retaliated against a lobbyist for his critical social media posts. The judge granted a motion by lobbyist Jason Webb for two elements of one count he faces that accused former state superintendent of schools Steve Paine and Jan Barth, an assistant superintendent of schools at the Department of Education, of retaliation against Webb. The lobbyist accused Paine and Barth of using government power to intimidate him from exercising his free speech rights. Formerly under contract with college test-prep company ACT, Webb accused Paine and Barth of threatening ACT over Webb’s public comments, resulting in ACT dropping Webb as a lobbyist one month after Webb filed the lawsuit.

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