January 29, 2021 •
News You Can Use Digest – January 29, 2021
Beau Biden Foundation to Deny Lobbyist Donations, Make Major Donors Public
The Hill – Alex Gangitano | Published: 1/21/2021
The Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children, which works to combat child abuse and was named after President Biden’s late son, told donors it will make changes to increase transparency. The foundation said it will expand its ethical guidelines following Biden’s inauguration by not accepting donations from lobbyists and foreign agents and by making major donors public. It also said it will only accept gifts from U.S. citizens, lawfully admitted permanent residents, and American corporate entities and associations.
Biden Is Firing Some Top Trump Holdovers, but in Some Cases, His Hands May Be Tied
MSN – Lisa Rein and Ann Gearan (Washington Post) | Published: 1/24/2021
President Biden’s team moved quickly to dump several high-profile, Senate-confirmed Trump appointees whose terms extended beyond Inauguration Day, in some cases by several years. They include the surgeon general, the National Labor Relations Board’s powerful general counsel, and the heads of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the U.S. Agency for Global Media. But other, lower-profile Trump loyalists, some of whom helped carry out his administration’s most controversial policies, are scattered throughout Biden’s government in permanent, senior positions. Identifying them, let alone dislodging them, could be difficult for the new leadership.
‘Dark Money’ Helped Pave Joe Biden’s Path to the White House
MSN – Bill Allison (Bloomberg) | Published: 1/23/2021
President Joe Biden benefited from a record-breaking amount of donations from anonymous donors to outside groups backing him, meaning the public will never have a full accounting of who helped him win the White House. Democrats have said they want to ban “dark money” as uniquely corrupting, since it allows supporters to quietly back a candidate without scrutiny. Yet in their effort to defeat Donald Trump in 2020, they embraced it. Campaign finance laws, in theory, are supposed to limit the influence big money has over politicians. But the system has loopholes, which groups backing Biden and other candidates, have exploited.
House Democrats Plan to Focus Impeachment Trial on How Rioters Reacted to Trump’s Remarks
MSN – Seung Min Kim, Tom Hamburger, Josh Dawsey, and Karoun Demirjian (Washington Post) | Published: 1/25/2021
The House formally delivered an article of impeachment charging former President Donald Trump with inciting the deadly insurrection at the Capitol, as Democrats prepared to use his own words as evidence against him in his Senate trial. While no final decisions on trial strategy have been made, House managers are concentrating on building their case around Trump personally, both what he said in the run-up to the January 6 attack and at a rally that day, and how his words were interpreted within the White House and outside of it, according to people familiar with the deliberations.
Inspector General Will Investigate Whether Any Justice Dept. Officials Improperly Sought to Help Trump Overturn the Election
MSN – Matt Zapotosky (Washington Post) | Published: 1/25/2021
The Justice Department’s inspector general announced its office is opening an investigation into whether any current or former department official tried to improperly “alter the outcome of the 2020 Presidential Election” – a broad review that comes on the heels of a revelation that then-President Trump considered replacing his acting attorney general with an official more amenable to his unfounded claims of voter fraud. Inspector General Michael Horowitz noted his jurisdiction would be limited to “allegations concerning the conduct of former and current DOJ employees,” and he could not examine other government officials.
Kroger Unknowingly Funneled Donations to a Militant Group. After the Capitol Riots, It’s Cutting It Off.
MSN – Teo Armus (Washington Post) | Published: 1/21/2021
When Kroger launched its community rewards program more than seven years ago, the supermarket chain pitched the initiative as a way that shoppers could support charities of their choosing. But one of the nonprofit groups being funded through the program was the Indiana Oath Keepers, the local branch of a self-styled militia group whose members now are accused of planning to storm the U.S. Capitol days in advance. After court documents disclosed disturbing new allegations about the extremist group, including plans to make “citizens’ arrests” of elected officials, Kroger pulled the Indiana Oath Keepers from its rewards initiative.
Millions Earmarked for Public Health Emergencies Were Used to Pay for Unrelated Projects, Says Inspector General
MSN – Dan Diamond and Lisa Rein (Washington Post) | Published: 1/27/2021
Federal officials repeatedly raided a fund earmarked for biomedical research in the years leading up to the covid-19 pandemic, spending millions of dollars to pay for unrelated salaries, administrative expenses, and even the cost of removing office furniture, according to an investigation conducted by the Health and Human Services Department’s inspector general. It centered on hundreds of millions of dollars intended for the development of vaccines, drugs, and therapies by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), an arm of the federal health department. The inspector general substantiated some of the whistleblower’s claims, finding staff referred to the agency as the “bank of BARDA.”
One of Trump’s Final Acts Will Allow Former Aides to Profit from Foreign Ties
Politico – Theodoric Meyer | Published: 1/24/2021
In the final hours of his presidency, Donald Trump revoked the ethics pledge he signed four years earlier, which barred those who had served in his administration from lobbying for foreign governments and political parties for the rest of their lives. With those restrictions gone, former Trump administration officials will be free to represent foreign powers, exactly the kind of behavior Trump had promised to eradicate. The Foreign Agents Registration Act requires those who lobby for foreign governments and political parties, along with some other foreign interests, to disclose their work. Several prominent Trump allies failed to do so, ensnaring them in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and other probes.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Endorsement of Conspiracy Theories, Violence Sparks Calls for Her Resignation – Again
MSN – Reis Thebault (Washington Post) | Published: 1/27/2021
Marjorie Taylor Greene openly supported and spread conspiracy theories for years, yet her northwest Georgia district elected her to Congress by a wide margin. Now, in office for a little a few weeks, she is facing a second round of calls for her resignation after a string of reports revealed her repeated endorsements of political violence and extremism. The latest revelations include videos in which Greene repeats bogus claims by suggesting the mass shootings in Las Vegas and Parkland, Florida, were staged; a Facebook post that expresses support for a dangerous conspiracy theory about child abuse; and a pattern of online activity approving of the execution of Democratic leaders and federal agents.
Shell Companies and ‘Dark Money’ May Hide Details of Trump Ties to DC Protests
Center for Resposive Politics – Anna Massoglia | Published: 1/22/2021
Former President Trump’s presidential campaign aides played key roles orchestrating a rally protesting certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election before hundreds of rioters breached the U.S. Capitol on January 6. But the full extent of the Trump campaign’s ties to the protests may not be fully known due to its use of shell companies that hide details of its financial dealings and the central role “dark money” played in the protests. Multiple individuals listed on the permit granted by the National Park Service worked for Trump’s presidential campaign. That raises new questions about the Trump campaign’s lack of spending transparency and the unknown extent of the event’s ties to Trump aides.
State Republicans Push New Voting Restrictions after Trump’s Loss
Politico – Zach Montellaro | Published: 1/25/2021
Republican legislators across the country are preparing a slew of new voting restrictions in the wake of former President Trump’s defeat. Republicans in deep-red states and battlegrounds alike are citing Trump’s meritless claims of voter fraud in 2020, and the declining trust in election integrity Trump helped drive, as an excuse to tighten access to the polls. Some GOP officials have been blunt about their motivations: they do not believe they can win unless the rules change.
Supreme Court Ends Lawsuits Alleging That Trump Illegally Profited from Business Interests
MSN – Robert Barnes and Ann Marimow (Washington Post) | Published: 1/25/2021
The U.S. Supreme Court put an end to lawsuits alleging former President Trump violated a constitutional anti-corruption prohibition by profiting from his business empire while president. The justices declined to hear Trump’s request to consider lower court orders that said lawsuits could go forward, agreeing with those on both sides of the issue that the cases became moot with Trump no longer in office. The justices also vacated the lower court judgments in the cases/ It means there is no definitive answer after years of legal wrangling over the Constitution’s emoluments clauses, which prohibit presidents and others from accepting gifts or payments from foreign governments without congressional approval.
The Road to Clemency from Trump Was Closed to Most Who Sought It
New York Times – Kenneth Vogel | Published: 1/26/2021
Of the nearly 240 pardons and commutations issued by former President Trump, only 25 came through the rigorous process for identifying and vetting worthy clemency petitions overseen by the Justice Department. The others came through an ad hoc White House process that favored applications benefiting or pushed by Trump’s allies, friends, and family. In addition to rewarding people whose allies could afford to buy access to the highest levels of the administration, the results included pardons for people with direct personal relationships with the former president. The Justice Department recommended against clemency for some of the people on Trump’s list.
The ‘Rug Has Been Pulled Out’: Campaigns flop amid Facebook, Google ad bans
Politico – Elena Schneider | Published: 1/27/2021
Facebook and Google’s on-again, off-again bans on political ads are hitting campaigns during a crucial fundraising window, cutting off a key pipeline to potential supporters and disrupting early planning for the next round of elections, from state and local races this year to looming midterm elections in 2022. The self-imposed bans have essentially pressed pause on a political industry that spent $3.2 billion advertising on Google and Facebook in the last two-and-a-half years. Some digital political firms are freezing hiring due to the uncertainty surrounding their biggest ad platforms. The bans have also interfered with organizing and early fundraising efforts piggybacking off a new administration and the start of a new election cycle.
From the States and Municipalities
Alaska – Alaska Official Who Defended Nazi License Plates Is Removed from State Discrimination Board
MSN – Teo Armus (Washington Post) | Published: 1/27/2021
After photos emerged on social media of a truck in Alaska bearing the vanity license plate “3REICH,” many lawmakers were quick to condemn the phrase, a reference to Nazi Germany. But not Jamie Allard. The Anchorage Assembly member, who also sits on a state commission that investigates discrimination complaints insisted the personalized message on the plate was a benign translation from German of the word “realm.” Gov. Mike Dunleavy removed her from the state’s human rights commission.
Arizona – Ethics Complaint Filed Against Arizona Lawmaker Over Treatment of Staffer Highlights Lack of Code of Conduct
MSN – Andrew Oxord (Arizona Republic) | Published: 1/25/2021
An ethics complaint made against a newly-elected state senator less than three weeks into Arizona’s legislative session has renewed scrutiny of the Capitol’s code of conduct – or, rather, its lack of one. A former assistant to Sen. Wendy Rogers claimed he was forced to resign under duress the day he returned from quarantining due to a positive COVID-19 test. The assistant said Rogers asked him to work every day he was on paid leave and when he returned, a conversation with his boss lead to her cursing at him and yelling in his face. The complaint depicts Rogers as a nightmare of a boss and as potentially violating various laws.
Arkansas – Sarah Sanders Announces Run for Arkansas Governor
MSN – Andrea Salcedo (Washington Post) | Published: 1/25/2021
When then-President Trump announced Sarah Sanders would be departing her job as White House press secretary in June 2019, he urged her to run for governor of Arkansas. “She would be fantastic,” Trump tweeted at the time. Now, less than a week after Trump himself left the White House under the cloud of a second impeachment, Sanders said she is following his suggestion. Sanders, who endeared herself to Trump’s base while combatively, and sometimes misleadingly, sparring with the press, is seen by many as an early favorite in the race to lead a heavily GOP state where Trump’s role in the U.S. Capitol riot may not hurt her appeal.
California – As L.A. City Hall Corruption Probe Endures, Ethics-Reform Bids Launched – but Will Any Take Hold?
Los Angeles Daily News – Elizabeth Chou | Published: 1/22/2021
The FBI probe into “pay-to-play” corruption at Los Angeles City Hall that has spilled into the open over the past two years has sparked some changes to ethics rules, especially around political contributions by developers. It forced the removal of former Councilperson Jose Huizar. who pleaded not guilty to charges of racketeering and bribery in a scheme often involving developers. The probe has also led to cases against high-ranking staffers, lobbyists, and others. In recent years, a handful of moves were made to rebuild trust in city officials, but the path has been rocky and long.
California – Englander Sentenced to 14 Months in Prison in L.A. City Hall Corruption Case
MSN – Michael Finnegan and David Zahniser (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 1/25/2021
Former Los Angeles City Councilperson Mitchell Englander was sentenced to 14 months in federal prison and a $15,000 fine following a years-long FBI investigation focused on suspected “pay-to-play” schemes in City Hall. He lied to federal authorities about secret cash payments and a debauched night in Las Vegas provided by a businessperson seeking introductions to developers. Englander is the first person to be sentenced in the probe. He pleaded guilty to falsifying material facts, a felony. The sentencing concluded a precipitous fall for a politician who, less than three years ago, held the council’s second-ranking leadership post and served on its most powerful committees.
Connecticut – Barred from Capitol Due to Pandemic, CT Lobbyists Face Hurdles During Critical Legislative Session
KCTV – Matt Pilon (Hartford Business Journal) | Published: 1/25/2021
Lobbyists are known for their ability to work a room, but those recently interviewed by Hartford Business Journal said the pandemic has thrown that element out the window. With the public barred from entering the Capitol for at least the next few months, if not the entire 2021 regular legislative session that runs until early June, lobbyists in the state’s $90 million industry will be forced to rely on phone calls, emails, texts, and videoconferences to connect with lawmakers and staff.
Connecticut – Joe Aresimowicz Is Latest House Speaker to Go Through ‘Revolving Door’ Into Lobbying – As 6 of 7 Speakers Since 1989 Have Done
Hartford Courant – Jon Lender | Published: 1/23/2021
A “revolving-door” statute bars former Connecticut House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz for one year from lobbying his longtime legislative colleagues at the state government level, so he has not registered with the Office of State Ethics as a lobbyist for 2021. But Aresimowicz will spend that year “focus[ed] on business development and municipal and federal issues on behalf of the firm’s clients and will supplement the services we provide to them,” according to an announcement by the government-relations firm that hired him, Gaffney Bennett and Associates. Five of the six people who preceded Aresimowicz as speaker, dating to 1989, later became Connecticut lobbyists for at least some period.
Florida – State Auditors Flag Land Purchase Between City and Former Mayor Kathy Meehan’s Relatives
MSN – Rick Neale | Published: 1/21/2021
State auditors flagged a land deal in which the city of Melbourne paid $27,000 above appraised value to buy a parcel owned by then-Mayor Kathy Meehan’s relatives and the land turned out to be contaminated with arsenic. The city bought the land for $315,000 from MEE3 LLC, a corporation managed by Meehan’s husband, Dennis, and his brothers, Ronald and Kenneth Meehan. The city obtained an appraisal valuing the land at $288,000. But City Hall staff determined the property was worth the additional $27,000. The state Joint Legislative Auditing Committee challenged that assertion.
Georgia – A Georgia GOP Lawmaker Refused Coronavirus Tests. He Was Kicked Off the Floor for ‘Jeopardizing the Health’ of Colleagues.
MSN – Jaclyn Peiser (Washington Post) | Published: 1/27/2021
As the Georgia House convened recently, Speaker David Ralston called for an unnamed lawmaker who had repeatedly refused to be tested for the coronavirus to discreetly remove himself from the room. But no one left the chamber. Ralston then called on a state trooper to escort out Rep. David Clark for violating the twice-a-week testing policy and for “jeopardizing the health of our members in this chamber.” It was reported that during the first week of the Legislature’s session, nine senators, staff, aides, and interns tested positive for the virus.
Illinois – Madigan No Longer ‘Mr. Speaker,’ but He’s Still ‘ublic Official A’
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Jason Meisner and Ray Long (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 1/22/2021
After four decades at the helm of Illinois politics, Rep. Michael Madigan may no longer be “Mr. Speaker,” but he still retains a decidedly more ignominious title – “Public Official A.” Madigan, whose record run as House speaker ended recently, remains the unnamed politician at the center of an ongoing federal corruption probe that so far has led to bribery charges against one of his closest confidants and several others tied to Commonwealth Edison. Madigan has not been charged and denied any wrongdoing. But now that he has lost the speaker’s gavel, there has been talk of what it might mean for the U.S. attorney’s office and its still-active investigation.
Kansas – Wichita City Council Ethics Meeting Ends in Charges, Countercharges and Thrown Papers
MSN – Chance Swaim and Dion Lefler (Wichita Eagle) | Published: 1/26/2021
A Wichita City Council meeting to shape a new ethics policy ended poorly after members of the council left the bench and the mayor tossed a printout of social media screenshots at a council member over a plexiglass COVID barrier. After nearly four hours of heated debate about whether the policy should include provisions related to campaign finance, and whether unethical behavior is prevalent enough to warrant a new policy, the workshop ended without a formal vote to close the meeting.
Massachusetts – Boston City Council Considers Proposal to Suspend Special Election
WBUR – Anthony Brooks | Published: 1/26/2021
Boston City Council members heard a range of arguments, mostly in favor, of a home rule petition to suspend a special mayoral election this summer. The hearing was prompted by the pending resignation of Mayor Marty Walsh, who has been nominated by President Joe Biden to serve as Secretary of Labor. If confirmed, Walsh’s departure would shake up City Hall politics and prompt a compressed race to succeed him. If Walsh leaves his post before March 5, the city charter requires both a special election for mayor and a regularly scheduled November election. That could mean as many as four elections this year – a general and run-off election for both – and possibly four different mayors in a 12-month period.
Michigan – Corrupt UAW Boss Wore Wire While Playing Golf with Union Brothers
Detroit News – Robert Snell | Published: 1/20/2021
Prosecutors said a United Auto Workers (UAW) official caught in a years-long corruption scandal deserves probation because he helped prosecutors convict two former presidents and secure federal oversight of the belabored union. Edward “Nick” Robinson’s help in exposing corruption within the UAW’s top ranks included risking his safety by wearing secret recording devices during union junkets and while golfing with corrupt colleagues, according to a sentencing memo. Robinson is portrayed in court filings as a pivotal figure in an investigation that has led to the convictions of 15 people. The probe revealed labor leaders and auto executives broke federal labor laws, stole union funds, and received bribes and illegal benefits.
Minnesota – Donations from University Regents to Lobbying Group Under Increasing Scrutiny
KSTP – Joseph Augustine and Jay Kolis | Published: 1/26/2021
Several members of the University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents are facing growing criticism for donating to a PAC that is acting as an independent lobbyist for the university. Maroon and Gold Rising is an unaffiliated non-profit group created last year primarily by alumni and former regents who say its mission is to support the university’s requests for funding. But it also operates a PAC that shares the same name, website and some of the same members. Professor Richard Painter, a well-known expert in legal ethics at the university, says the regents have created potential conflicts-of-interest by donating to outside political groups.
Mississippi – Charter Schools Receive Taxpayer Dollars. Should Their Board Members Follow State Ethics Laws?
Mississippi Today – Kate Royals | Published: 1/20/2021
The Mississippi Ethics Commission says charter school board members are subject to state ethics laws, which prohibit conflicts-of-interest that could lead to the misspending of public dollars. But several operators and advocates of charter schools, which receive taxpayer funding, say they should be exempt from those laws. The conflict was brought to light by Ethics Commission opinions filed in 2020 after two charter schools were discovered to be spending their public funding with board members’ employers. The revelations highlight long-standing tension between charter school and traditional public-school advocates, who say charter schools need to be held to the same standards as other public governing bodies.
Mississippi – Gov. Reeves’ Inaugural Nonprofit Raised $1.6M from Unknown Donors, Paid Family Member’s Company
Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal – Luke Ramseth | Published: 1/21/2021
Unlike many other states and the federal government, Mississippi has no rules around how politicians raise, spend, and disclose inaugural money. That means elected officeholders in Mississippi can use these inaugural nonprofits to raise large amounts of money outside the boundaries of campaign finance laws that typically regulate other types of political fundraising. A nonprofit set up to fund Gov. Tate Reeves’ inauguration last year paid nearly $150,000 to a business owned by the governor’s brother and sister-in-law, documents show.
Missouri – Missouri Employee Pension Says Firm Had Lobbyist, Lawmaker Apply Pressure on Lawsuit
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Steve Vockrodt (Kansas City Star) | Published: 1/27/2021
A Canadian private equity firm accused in a lawsuit of mishandling investments by Missouri’s largest public pension hired a lobbyist to influence key legislators and put pressure on the pension outside of court proceedings, a top pension official claimed. Catalyst Capital Group hired lobbyist Richard McIntosh after the Missouri State Employees’ Retirement System sued the firm. Ronda Stegmann, the system’s executive director, testified in a court hearing that McIntosh then tried to set up a meeting with Stegmann, two legislators, and Catalyst executives. Companies routinely hire lobbyists to influence legislation and policies. Less common is the involvement of a lobbyist around ongoing litigation.
Nebraska – Often Heated Redistricting Process Expected to Add State Senators in Nebraska’s Metro Areas
Omaha World-Herald – Paul Hammel | Published: 1/25/2021
Nebraska lawmakers are beginning the politically and sometimes emotionally charged job of redrawing congressional and legislative districts, as well as voting districts for other state offices. But one of the main questions facing those who will work on redistricting is whether it will happen at all during the Legislature’s regular 90-day session, which is scheduled to end in early June. Delays in the completion of the census have made it doubtful that final population figures needed for redistricting will arrive by the traditional time in early April.
Nevada – Legislative Building Will Be Closed to Public at Start of Session, Is Expected to Open More After Vaccinations
Nevada Independent – Michelle Rindell | Published: 1/21/2021
Nevada’s 2021 legislative session will start off closed to all but lawmakers, essential staff, and some members of the media, with all others participating virtually, according to a logistics plan issued by the Legislative Counsel Bureau. Legislators will meet with constituents and lobbyists through Microsoft Teams. To account for the fact that more lobbying will take place virtually, the plan also calls for updating state law that requires only lobbyists who appear in person in the building to register and be regulated.
New Jersey – Hoboken City Council Tightens Pay-to-Play Laws Before Mayoral Election
Hudson Reporter – Marilyn Bear | Published: 1/22/2021
The Hoboken City Council introduced an ordinance that aims to tighten the city’s “pay-to-play” laws. According to current law, PACs and unions are limited to $500 donations for individual candidates as opposed to the $2,600 allowable by state law. Hoboken restricts contributions from developers, vendors, and professionals seeking city contracts. If approved, the reform measure would not allow vendors who received emergency contracts to contribute to any PACs or independent expenditure groups for 12 months before entering into a contract with the city. It restricts any vendor from donating within 12 months beyond the termination of their contract.
New Mexico – Lobbyists Adjust to New Reality of Virtual Session
New Mexico Political Report – Daniel Chacón (Santa Fe New Mexican) | Published: 1/25/2021
Robert Duran is learning to adapt to a virtual environment amid a pandemic that prompted state officials to move most lawmaking over to the Internet and keep the building closed to the public and others, including lobbyists like Duran who are a mainstay when the Legislature meets in Santa Fe. Duran and other lobbyists said this year’s legislative session, which began with masked lawmakers separated by Plexiglas partitions between their desks, is a big adjustment for people in an industry whose bread and butter is face-to-face interaction.
New Mexico – Secretary of State to Pursue Fines, Enforcement in Cowboys for Trump Case
MSN – Nicole Maxwell (Alamogordo News) | Published: 1/21/2021
New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver announced she intends to pursue arbitration order enforcement against the Cowboys for Trump political advocacy organization. The move comes after a federal court dismissed a case filed by Cowboys for Trump and its founder, Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin, against Toulouse Oliver’s office. The case was about whether Cowboys for Trump should be classified as a PAC and if fines the group allegedly accrued were truly owed.
New York – Supreme Court Won’t Hear Appeal from Sheldon Silver, Former N.Y. Lawmaker
New York Times – Adam Liptak | Published: 1/25/2021
The U.S. Supreme Court let stand the conviction of Sheldon Silver, the once-powerful state Assembly speaker in New York who went to prison last year on federal corruption charges. The court has in recent years been skeptical of broad interpretations of public corruption laws, saying they are not all-purpose devices to ensure good government. Silver’s lawyers told the justices that prosecutors had overreached in his case by securing his conviction of accepting bribes in a real estate scheme without proving those who made the payments had intended to influence particular official actions.
North Dakota – Legislative Lobbyists Navigate Through New Restrictions
Grand Forks Herald – Dylan Sherman (North Dakota Newspaper Association) | Published: 1/25/2021
Lobbyists, like lawmakers and everyone else in the North Dakota Capitol, have to follow coronavirus guidelines, such as wearing a mask and limiting personal contact, and abide by new ethics guidelines banning gifts. The political process is based on relationships and policy, lobbyist Levi Andrist said. Now, as most people cannot look each other in the eye or shake hands, it makes it more difficult to discuss public policy. Andrist said there have been some positives to the new layout, with online participation being one of them.
Ohio – Portman’s Exit Signals Uncertainty for Senate GOP
Politico – Burgess Everett and James Arkin | Published: 1/26/2021
Ohio Republican Rob Portman will not seek a third U.S. Senate term in 2022, a blow to both Republicans’ hopes of taking back the Senate and the chamber’s dwindling number of centrists/ Portman is one of the most effective legislators in the Senate, using his relationships gleaned from a long career in Washington to find compromise. But he cited legislative paralysis in the chamber as a major factor in his decision to retire at the end of next year. Portman joins GOP Sens. Pat Toomey and Richard Burr in retirement next year in key swing states. Democrats currently hold a narrow majority in an evenly split Senate.
Oregon – Investigation: Oregon state lawmaker likely created a hostile workplace at state Capitol
OPB – Lauren Drake | Published: 1/25/2021
An investigation into the behavior of Oregon Rep. Diego Hernandez found he likely created a hostile work environment at the Capitol for two women, according to an internal investigation into the representative’s behavior. Both women had brief, consensual romantic relationships with Hernandez. Both women, according to the investigation, tried to end those relationships. But they felt Hernandez’s behaviors forced them into making a difficult choice: they could either resume a relationship with him or risk jeopardizing their careers. The investigation delves into the allegations of five women. All the women included in the report either work in the Capitol or have conducted business with the Legislature in their professional capacity.
Pennsylvania – An Appeals Court Upheld a Campaign Finance Conviction for Bob Brady’s Onetime Political Guru
Philadelphia Inquirer – Jeremy Roebuck | Published: 1/26/2021
A federal appeals court upheld the conviction of former U.S. Rep. Bob Brady’s top political strategist, Ken Smukler, who was sentenced to 18 months in prison in 2019 for repeated violations of campaign finance law. A three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit found Smukler coordinated what amounted to illegal campaign contributions to give clients, including Brady, an edge in two congressional races in 2012 and 2014. But the judges vacated his conviction on two of the seven counts of which he was found guilty, ruling the trial judge had failed to properly instruct the jury on the level of proof required to show Smukler had known about the laws he was violating when he broke them.
Virginia – Virginia Senator Who Called U.S. Capitol Rioters ‘Patriots’ Is Censured
MSN – Gregory Schneider (Washington Post) | Published: 1/27/2021
The Virginia Senate voted to censure state Sen. Amanda Chase over a long pattern of behavior that includes referring to the insurrectionists who attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6 as “patriots” and making insulting comments toward the Virginia Capitol Police and the clerk of the Senate. Chase spoke to the crowd of Donald Trump supporters in Washington, D.C. on the day of the riot but left before they went to the Capitol and crashed through security lines.
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