News You Can Use Digest - January 28, 2022 - State and Federal Communications

January 28, 2022  •  

News You Can Use Digest – January 28, 2022


As Giuliani Coordinated Plan for Trump Electoral Votes in States Biden Won, Some Electors Balked
MSN – Beth Reinhard, Amy Gardner, Josh Dawsey, Emma Brown, and Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) | Published: 1/20/2022

On December 14, 2020, the day of the electoral college vote, Republican electors convened in the capitals of five states that Joe Biden had won. They declared themselves “duly elected and qualified” and sent signed certificates to Washington, D.C. purporting to affirm Donald Trump as the victor. Understanding the origins of the rival slates has now become a focus of the House committee investigating the insurrection. Two Democratic attorneys general have asked federal prosecutors investigate whether crimes were committed in assembling or submitting the slates.

Biden Nominates Former Stacey Abrams Lawyer for Campaign Finance Watchdog
MSN – Zach Montellaro (Politico) | Published: 1/21/2022

President Joe Biden is nominating a new commissioner to the FEC. The White House announced Biden was putting forward Dara Lindenbaum, a campaign finance attorney, to join the six-member board governing the agency. Lindenbaum was general counsel to Stacey Abrams’ 2018 Georgia gubernatorial run and deputy general counsel for former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s 2016 presidential bid.

Black and Latino Voters Have Been Shortchanged in Redistricting, Advocates and Some Judges Say
MSN – Colby Itkowitz and Harry Stevens (Washington Post) | Published: 1/25/2022

Advocates for voting rights say redistricting map drawers have manipulated the process mostly at the expense of minorities. Across the country, the White population has shrunk over the past decade as minority communities have swelled, according to the 2020 Census. Yet, the rapid growth of Latinos and Blacks is not reflected in any of the new maps passed so far, except California’s, which added five seats where Latinos make up the majority of adults. Judges have intervened in two states where Republican state legislators were accused by voting rights advocates of disenfranchising Black voters.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm Violated a Stock Disclosure Law Nine Times Last Year
CNBC – Christina Wilke | Published: 1/20/2022

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm violated the STOCK Act at least nine times last year by selling shares of stock worth up to $240,000 and failing to disclose those sales within the 45-day window the law requires. The dates of Granholm’s stock sales ranged from April to late October. But Granholm did not disclose any of them until mid-December, which was in some cases a full six months after the deadline to report the sale had passed.

Ex-Giuliani Associate Fruman Sentenced to One Year in Prison in Campaign Finance Case
Reuters – Luc Cohen | Published: 1/21/2022

Igor Fruman, who helped Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani collect damaging information about Joe Biden before he was elected president, was sentenced to one year in prison for violating campaign finance law. U.S. District Court Judge Paul Oetken said Fruman’s solicitation of money from a Russian businessperson to donate to U.S. political campaigns was serious because it “undermines democracy,” but Fruman was unlikely to commit a similar offense again.

Federal Prosecutors Examine Slates That Offered Trump Electoral Votes in States Biden Won in 2020
MSN – Matt Zapotosky (Washington Post) | Published: 1/25/2022

Federal prosecutors are examining the decision by Republican electors in some states won by President Biden in 2020 to send in signed statements purporting to affirm Donald Trump as the victor of the election. Their actions were criticized at the time as a political stunt meant to bolster Trump’s unfounded claims of election fraud. But they have drawn additional scrutiny in recent weeks, as the House committee investigating the attack on the Capitol seeks to understand the origin of the Trump elector slates.

Feds Issue Subpoenas Seeking Records Related to Rep. Cuellar and His Wife, Associates
ABC News – Mike Levine | Published: 1/21/2022

A grand jury probe that led to the raid of U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar’s home and office in Texas has begun issuing subpoenas, seeking records about a wide array of American companies and advocacy organizations, many of them with ties to the former Soviet nation of Azerbaijan. Among the information being sought are records related to Cuellar, his wife Imelda, and at least one of his campaign staffers. A subpoena seeks records “relating to anything of value” that Cuellar, his wife, and others close to them may have been offered by certain business leaders or foreign officials.

House Committee on Ethics Opening Reviews of Two Lawmakers
MSN – Morgan Rimmer and Annie Grayer (CNN) | Published: 1/24/2022

The House Committee on Ethics announced it is continuing two investigations based on reports from the Office of Congressional Ethics (OGE). The OGE claims it has “substantial reason to believe” U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn misused official resources and U.S. Rep. Marie Newman promised federal employment to a primary opponent to get political support. Current and former Lamborn staffers testified they were instructed to perform a host of activities including running personal errands, performing campaign work, moving furniture, and helping Lamborn’s son with a federal job application process.

Judge Says States Can Investigate WinRed’s Fund-Raising Tactics
New York Times – Shane Goldmacher | Published: 1/26/2022

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by WinRed, a company that processes online donations for Republicans, that sought to block state attorneys general from investigating fundraising tactics that have triggered complaints of fraud. The attorneys general from four states first sent letters to WinRed, asking for documents after a New York Times investigation revealed the company’s use of prechecked boxes to automatically enroll donors in recurring contribution programs. WinRed declined to provide the documents and instead went to court to argue federal law should pre-empt any state-level consumer probes.

Justice Breyer to Retire, Giving Biden First Court Pick
Yahoo News – Mark Sherman and Michael Balsamo (Associated Press) | Published: 1/26/2022

Longtime liberal Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer is retiring, giving President Biden  his first high court opening, which he has pledged to fill with the historic naming of the court’s first Black woman. Breyer has been a pragmatic force on a court that has grown increasingly conservative, trying to forge majorities with more moderate justices. His retirement will give Biden the chance to name and win confirmation of a replacement before next fall’s election when Republicans could retake the Senate and block future nominees.

Palin v. New York Times Pushes New Boundaries on Libel Suits
Yahoo News – Josh Gerstein (Politico) | Published: 1/23/2022

Sarah Palin is set to take on The New York Times in a libel suit she filed over a 2017 editorial  that erroneously linked her political activities to the 2011 shooting attack that left six people dead and U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords badly wounded. Within a day, the Times corrected the editorial and noted no connection was ever established between the rampage and a map that Palin’s PAC circulated with crosshairs superimposed on the districts of 20 Democrats, including Giffords. But Palin filed suit, accusing the newspaper of defaming her. Some media advocates say the fact that the case is going to trial is a sign that deference to the press in the courts is giving way to more challenging legal landscape.

Plea Deal for Man Involved in Gaetz Investigation, Whose Attorney Says He Witnessed ‘Sex, Drugs – a Whole Lot of It’
MSN – Matt Zapotosky (Washington Post) | Published: 1/26/2022

Justice Department investigators have reached a cooperation agreement with a man whose attorney says he witnessed U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz attend parties involving “a whole lot” of sex and drug use, another potential boon to the sprawling and slow-moving sex trafficking investigation into Gaetz. Ellicott has been talking with investigators examining whether Gaetz committed sex trafficking of a minor. Ellicott’s plea agreement requires him to cooperate fully with the government as they explore other potential crimes.

Retired Lawyer Wrote the Book, Literally, on Corporations Entertaining Politicians
MSN – Kate Ackley (Roll Call) | Published: 1/24/2022

When Ken Gross joined Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom’s Washington office, he envisioned a nonpartisan political law practice, catering mostly to corporate clients. He carried out his plans over the next 35 years, representing mostly companies and trade associations as they navigated the changing legal landscape for PACs, lobbying, ethics, and gift rules. “Ken is responsible for developing that practice group, leading it, growing it to the point where Skadden is the go-to firm for … corporate clients who want to engage in … political activity, and want to ensure their compliance,” said Jan Baran, a campaign finance lawyer.

The Jan. 6 Panel Wants to Talk to Ivanka Trump
National Public Radio – Caitlyn Kim | Published: 1/20/2022

The House select committee looking into the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol is seeking Ivanka Trump’s voluntary cooperation with its investigation. The letter also detailed new evidence the panel has uncovered about her role the day of the siege, including multiple attempts to get her father to intervene in the attack and his efforts to undo President Biden’s election. The request comes a day after the committee requested phone from Eric Trump and Kimberly Guilfoyle, who is engaged to Donald Trump Jr.

Top Lobbying Firms Report Record-Breaking 2021 Earnings
MSN – Karl Evers-Hillstrom (The Hill) | Published: 1/20/2022

Most of the top lobbying firms in Washington, D.C. raked in record revenue last year as K Street worked overtime to influence President Biden’s ambitious agenda. Lobbying spending had already reached record highs in 2020 after Congress authorized trillions of dollars in new spending to fight the pandemic. But Democrats’ takeover of Congress and the White House helped further propel the influence industry to new heights.

From the States and Municipalities

Alabama Alabama Supreme Court Reverses Dismissal of Lawsuit Filed by Convicted Drummond Coal Lobbyist – Mike Cason | Published: 1/22/2022

The Alabama Supreme Court reversed the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by former Drummond Company vice president and lobbyist David Roberson, who was convicted in 2018 of bribing a state lawmaker. Roberson sued Drummond Company, his former employer, and the Balch & Bingham law firm in 2019, alleging they concealed and misrepresented information that contributed to his conviction. A federal jury convicted Roberson and former Balch & Bingham lawyer Joel Gilbert on corruption charges, involving bribes paid to former state Rep. Oliver Robinson through a foundation Robinson operated.

Alabama Federal Court Blocks Alabama’s New Congressional District Map, Saying It’s Not Fair to Blacks
Yahoo News – Brian Lyman (Montgomery Advertiser) | Published: 1/25/2022

A three-judge federal panel blocked Alabama’s new congressional district map from going into effect, ruling challengers were “substantially likely” to prevail in their arguments the plan violated the Voting Rights Act. the judges found Black Alabamians had “less opportunity than other Alabamians to elect the candidates of their choice to Congress.” The congressional map as approved preserves a nearly 30-year plan of having a single majority-minority congressional district in west Alabama.

Arizona Arizona Appeals Court Rebuffs Group’s Bid to Skip Campaign Law Fine
Arizona Daily Star – Howard Fischer (Capitol News Services) | Published: 1/23/2022

The state Court of Appeals rebuffed a bid by a group that spent $260,000 attacking a 2014 foe of Doug Ducey’s in his first gubernatorial campaign to escape a fine for violating Arizona campaign finance laws. The judges said the Legacy Foundation Action Fund waited too long before appealing a more than $95,000 fine imposed by the Citizens Clean Elections Commission over its commercials targeting former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith. Attorneys for the conservative group then opened a new legal front with this lawsuit, arguing the commission did not have any legal authority to impose the fine in the first place.

Arizona U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Shooter’s Claim
Arizona Capital Times – Howard Fischer (Capitol News Services) | Published: 1/27/2022

The U.S. Supreme Court ended the hope of former Rep. Don Shooter to claim his rights were violated when he was expelled from the Arizona House. The justices refused to set aside a ruling by a lower court throwing out the lawsuit Shooter filed against former House Speaker J.D. Mesnard and Kirk Adams, a former top adviser for Gov. Doug Ducey. The court did not address the claims by Shooter that having him ousted for violating a policy against sexual harassment, one that did not exist at the time of the alleged incidents, was illegal. The action upholds the conclusion by the appellate court that Mesnard and Adams have qualified immunity for their actions.

California After Guilty Plea in Federal Case, Englander Now Faces L.A. City Ethics Charges
MSN – Julia Wick (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 1/20/2022

The Los Angeles City Ethics Commission accused former Councilperson Mitchell Englander of violating city ethics laws by accepting thousands of dollars in gifts from a businessperson and a developer during trips to Las Vegas and Palm Springs and not adequately reporting them. The charges come more than a year after Englander pleaded guilty to lying to federal authorities investigating the corruption case and was sentenced to prison. The commission could levy a fine of up to $136,071.

California Ex-DWP Executive Pleads Guilty in Corruption Case
Los Angeles Daily News – Staff | Published: 1/25/2022

A former top executive of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) pleaded guilty to a federal bribery charge stemming from a probe of the city’s handling of the botched launch of a DWP billing system. David Wright accepted bribes from a lawyer in exchange for supporting a $30 million, no-bid DWP contract. The lawyer named in the case, Paul Paradis, has also agreed to plead guilty to a federal bribery count. Riverside officials asked t local law enforcement to probe whether contracts may have been illegally steered toward certain companies when Wright was general manager of Riverside Public Utilities.

Colorado A Second County Election Official in Colorado Is Suspected of Security Breach
Canon City Daily Record – Saja Hindi (Denver Post) | Published: 1/24/2022

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold is investigating a second county clerk over a possible elections security breach and has ordered Elbert County Clerk and Recorder Dallas Schroeder to turn over information related to allegations he copied a voting system hard drive. The secretary of state ordered the Republican county clerk to appear at a deposition to explain how the copy of the 2021 Dominion Voting Systems hard drive was made after Griswold’s office said Schroeder did not respond to an email request and an election order requiring the disclosure of information about the “potential security protocol breach.”

Florida Florida Opens Investigation into Dark-Money Group Key to ‘Ghost’ Candidate Scandal
MSN – Jason Garcia and Annie Martin (Orlando Sentinel) | Published: 1/20/2022

A state agency that regulates charities has opened an investigation into a “dark-money” nonprofit that played a key role in Florida’s “ghost” candidate scandal. Nikki Fried, commissioner of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs, said her department is probing whether the organization, known as Let’s Preserve the American Dream, has fully complied with state laws governing nonprofits that solicit funding in Florida. The development comes as the nonprofit, which is closely associated with one of Florida’s biggest business-lobbying groups, also faces criminal investigation by prosecutors in Miami.

Florida How Much Darker Can Political Money Get? New GOP Bill Tries to Further Shield Donors
MSN – Ana Ceballo and Samantha Gross (Miami Herald) | Published: 1/20/2022

Florida Republicans are pushing legislation that would enact broad new layers of secrecy around nonprofit organizations’ corporate and individual donors, a move that would allow some political groups to shield sources of funding from local and state government scrutiny. Groups whose tax-exempt status allows them to engage in a restricted level of political activity and does not require them to disclose their donors often serve as vehicles for dark money spending because their sources are hidden. They have come under scrutiny recently due to a Miami-Dade County “ghost” candidate investigation marked by “dark money” spending.

Georgia Ethics Panel Says It Will Pursue Ex-Insurance Commissioner
MSN – Associated Press | Published: 1/24/2022

Georgia ethics officials say they will pursue allegations of wrongdoing against former state Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, overriding an administrative law judge’s ruling that they waited too long. Oxendine is accused of illegally using campaign funds from his failed 2010 gubernatorial campaign to buy a house and lease cars. Commissioners accepted the judge’s decision that the agency cannot pursue Oxendine for accepting $120,000 in bundled contributions, 10 times what was then the legal limit, from two insurance companies in 2008 when he was running for governor.

Georgia Georgia Prosecutor Granted Special Grand Jury in Probe of Trump’s Efforts to Overturn State’s Election Results
MSN – Amy Wang and John Wagner (Washington Post) | Published: 1/24/2022

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who is weighing whether former President Trump and others committed crimes by trying to pressure Georgia election officials, was granted a special purpose grand jury to aid in her investigation. Willis confirmed part of her investigation centers on the January 2, 2021, phone call between Trump and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which Trump asked Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to overturn Joe Biden’s win in the state’s presidential election.

Hawaii How a Honolulu Police Chief Facing a Corruption Probe Got a $250,000 Payout
Honolulu Civil Beat – Christina Jedra | Published: 1/23/2022

In the city council committee room in 2017, Honolulu Police Commission Chairperson Max Sword was being asked about a retirement deal being brokered with then-Police Chief Louis Kealoha, who was under federal investigation for using his position to frame an innocent man. Sword refused to tell the council members anything about the deal. That meeting is now part of a federal indictment in which Sword and two of the city’s most senior officials, former Corporation Counsel Donna Leong and former Managing Director Roy Amemiya, are accused of conspiring to illegally bypass the city council to pay Kealoha a $250,000 severance.

Idaho Giddings Says She No Longer Has Documents Related to Public Records Lawsuit
Idaho Press – William Spence (Lewiston Tribune) | Published: 1/26/2022

Idaho Rep. Priscilla Giddings last year acknowledged having access to documents that are now at the center of a public records lawsuit. Giddings, who is running for lieutenant governor, now denies having the documents. The documents in question relate to rape allegations that were leveled against former Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger by a House intern, and to a subsequent tort claim alleging Giddings and von Ehlinger engaged in a “conspiracy” to defame the young woman.

Illinois In Chicago, a Public Radio Station Comes to the Rescue of the Sun-Times Newspaper
MSN – Elahe Izade and Jeremy Barr (Washington Post) | Published: 1/19/2022

In an unusual merger that some hope could serve as a national model to preserve local journalism, Chicago’s NPR station plans to acquire one of the city’s major daily newspapers. The board of directors for Chicago Public Media, the umbrella organization for WBEZ, approved moving forward with the acquisition of The Chicago Sun-Times. Public radio stations have acquired for-profit news competitors in the past but never at this scale. While the two organizations will come under the same ownership and share content, editorially they will operate independently.

Illinois Supreme Court Considers Use of Political Campaign Funds to Mount Legal Defense in Public Corruption Cases
WCIA – Mark Maxwell | Published: 1/19/2022

The Illinois Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case that could determine whether elected officials can use their campaign funds to hire lawyers to defend themselves in public corruption cases. Federal prosecutors accused former Chicago Ald. Danny Solis of receiving sex acts, Viagra, and campaign cash in a corruption scheme. Solis later used that same campaign account to pay lawyers $220,000 to defend himself. Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez filed a complaint with the State Board of Elections arguing Solis violated campaign finance laws.

Maryland Baltimore County Inspector General: Former top official waived fees for developer, received favors
Yahoo News – Taylor DeVille (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 1/20/2022

Baltimore County improperly waived what is estimated to total millions of dollars in fees and security deposits over roughly a decade for a developer to build a multimillion-dollar, mixed-use site at Owings Mills, according to a report from county Inspector General Kelly Madigan. The report details how Arnold Jablon, who was director of the Department of Permits, Approvals, and Inspections between 2011 and 2018, waived securities and fees for developer David Brown Enterprises – possibly in return for access to basketball tickets and free parking – despite having no legal authority to do so.

Maryland The Mosbys Claimed Legal Expenses on Their Campaign Filings. Here’s What We Know About What Maryland Law Requires.
Baltimore Sun – Emily Opilo and Alex Mann | Published: 1/21/2022

Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby and her husband, city council President Nick Mosby, reported spending campaign funds on legal expenses last year. Legal bills can be considered acceptable campaign expenses, but only in certain circumstances. Marilyn Mosby was indicted recently, accused of lying to avoid penalties for withdrawing money from her city retirement account and using the funds to purchase two vacation homes. A state attorney general opinion found an elected official is allowed to use campaign funds to pay debts stemming from “the defense of a criminal prosecution directly related to alleged campaign improprieties.”

New Mexico Ethics Watchdog Issues Report on Payday Loan Industry Lobbying
New Mexico Political Report – Robert Nott and Daniel Chacon (Santa Fe New Mexican) | Published: 1/20/2022

For years, state lawmakers have unsuccessfully tried to introduce legislation capping the interest rate for so-called payday loans at 36 percent. Their efforts have failed repeatedly. New Mexico Ethics Watch released a new report on a study exploring the possible effects of the industry’s lobbying efforts on ensuring the cap is not lowered. What the study found, said Kathleen Sabo, executive director of Ethics Watch, is that lobbyists’ arguments in opposition to a drop in the interest rate cap have been even “more effective” than campaign donations when it comes to influencing lawmakers.

New Mexico Proposal Calls for Ethics Agency to Set NM Elected Officials’ Pay
Yahoo News – Dan McKay (Albuquerque Journal) | Published: 1/24/2022

A proposed constitutional amendment that would task the State Ethics Commission with setting the salaries for all state elected officials from the governor to lawmakers, who are now unpaid, cleared its first committee hearing. Senate Joint Resolution 8 also would change how commission members are chosen, allowing the New Mexico Supreme Court to make two of the seven appointments. The push to set a salary for lawmakers comes as the Legislature considers a separate proposal to increase the pay of New Mexico’s statewide elected officials by five figures. Lawmakers are not included in that bill.

New York Former IG Letizia Tagliafierro Pushed Transfer of Trooper Cuomo Allegedly Harassed
Albany Times Union – Brendan Lyons | Published: 1/20/2022

Letizia Tagliafierro, a former top aide to then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo who later became his state inspector general, was the unnamed “high-level staff member” in the executive branch who four years ago directed the State Police to bend the rules so a young female trooper whom the governor met at an event could be appointed to his protective detail. Tagliafierro’s role was revealed when state Attorney General Letitia James’ office released transcripts from a probe into allegations Cuomo sexually harassed or acted inappropriately with multiple women, including the trooper who went on to become one of his drivers.

New York Subpoena Probes Cuomo’s Pandemic ‘Volunteers’
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 1/26/2022

The Joint Commission on Public Ethics will investigate the activities of volunteers in assisting New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s COVID-19 pandemic response. While unpaid by New York’s government, some of the volunteers, such as one-time top Cuomo aide Larry Schwartz, held crucial roles in Cuomo’s response to the crisis. Schwartz served as the state’s “vaccine czar,” leading efforts to distribute vaccines to the state’s population, while continuing in his day job as chief strategy officer at an airport concessions company that has extensive interests before state government.

Ohio Former House Bill 6 Lobbyist Who Chaired PUCO Nominating Council Resigns
MSN – Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 1/25/2022

Former FirstEnergy lobbyist Michael Koren resigned from leading the state’s efforts to pick utility regulators. Koren had served as chairperson of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Nominating Council despite his former ties to FirstEnergy. Koren lobbied for the company when House Bill 6 to subsidize nuclear plants was introduced in 2019. The commission has come under increasing scrutiny after FirstEnergy admitted bribing PUCO’s former chair, Sam Randazzo, who Gov. Mike DeWine appointed after his name was put forth by the nominating council.

Ohio Ohio’s Pandemic Politics Cast Long Shadow Over Omicron Surge
Ohio Capital Journal – Jake Zuckerman | Published: 1/21/2022

Republicans in the Ohio House and Senate overruled Gov. Mike DeWine’s gubernatorial veto to pass Senate Bill 22. The legislation gave lawmakers the ability to nix statewide health orders with a simple majority vote – previous law required a supermajority. It also blocked DeWine, his appointed director of the Ohio Department of Health, or local health departments from issuing blanket lockdown or masking orders. A May 2021 report from the Network for Public Health Law found Ohio was one of 15 states to pass or consider legislation to limit the authority of public health departments during the pandemic.

Tennessee Ogles Wants Checks on Registry of Election Finance Subpoena Power
Tennessee Lookout – Sam Stockard | Published: 1/26/2022

State Rep. Brandon Ogles, after threatening a “deep dive” into the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance, said he is drafting legislation that could change the agency’s subpoena power. Ogles said he would like to see requirements for a judge’s signature on subpoenas issued by the registry board in addition to invitations before subpoenas are issued. The registry voted recently to subpoena former House Speaker Glen Casada, his ex-chief of staff Cade Cothren, and several other people to gather information about the Faith Family Freedom Forum, a shadowy PAC that ran attack ads on Casada’s political enemy, former Rep. Rick Tillis.

Tennessee Senate Ethics Committee Recommends Sen. Katrina Robinson’s Expulsion, Will Go Before Senate Vote
Yahoo News – Melissa Brown (Memphis Commercial Appeal) | Published: 1/20/2022

The Senate Ethics Committee determined Tennessee Sen. Katrina Robinson violated the chamber’s code of ethics and recommended her expulsion due to her conviction on federal fraud charges. Robinson will now face a full Senate vote based on the committee’s recommendation. She is awaiting a March sentencing date for charges related to the mismanagement of federal funds in connection to her leadership of a nursing school. Robinson’s criminal trial focused on events that occurred prior to her election to the state Senate.

Washington WA Supreme Court Upholds $18M Campaign-Finance Fine Against Grocery Industry Group
Seattle Times – Jim Brunner | Published: 1/20/2022

The Washington Supreme Court narrowly upheld an $18 million fine levied against an association of large food brands that funneled “dark money” into a state campaign. The ruling found the penalty against the Grocery Manufacturers Association, now known as the Consumer Brands Association, did not violate the U.S. Constitution’s ban on excessive fines. The group spent more than $11 million to defeat Initiative 522, which would have required labeling of genetically modified food products. But it did not initially identify the corporations that wrote big checks to fund the campaign, including Coca-Cola, General Mills, and Nestle.

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