July 16, 2021 •
News You Can Use Digest – July 16, 2021
An American Kingdom
MSN – Stephanie McCrummen (Washington Post) | Published: 7/11/2021
There is growing Christian movement that is nondenominational, openly political, and has become an engine of former President Trump’s Republican Party. The ultimate mission is not just transforming individual lives but also reforming civilization itself, with a free-market economy, Bible-based education, church-based social programs, and laws curtailing LGBTQ rights. Strains of this thinking formed the basis of the Christian right and fueled the GOP for decades. What is new is the degree to which Trump elevated a network of leaders who in turn elevated him as God’s chosen president, a fusion that has secured the movement as a grassroots force within the GOP just as the old Christian right is waning.
As a High-Ranking Biden Aide Pushes Congress to Raise Inheritance Taxes, His Brother Lobbies Against It
MSN – Michael Scherer, Jeff Stein, and Sean Sullivan (Washington Post) | Published: 7/9/2021
The brother and former business partner of a top White House adviser has been hired to lobby Democratic senators to oppose a central plank of President Biden’s legislative agenda that would raise taxes on the inheritors of large estates. Lobbyist Jeff Ricchetti is helping to lead an effort by a life insurance trade group to preserve current system. White House senior counselor Steve Ricchetti has at the same time been working against his brother’s efforts by championing Biden’s proposal on Capitol Hill.
Attorneys General in 4 States Looking into Online Fundraising Practices of Both Major Parties
MSN – Steve Thompson and Amy Wang (Washington Post) | Published: 7/8/2021
Attorneys general in four states are looking into the online fundraising practices of both major political parties. The practices being examined include the use of pre-checked boxes that lock in recurring donations from donors who may not intend to sign up for more than one contribution. WinRed, a fundraising platform for GOP committees and campaigns, asked a federal court to stop the investigations by the attorneys general of Minnesota, Connecticut, Maryland, and New York, arguing consumer protection statutes the attorneys general may try to enforce are preempted by federal law.
Exxon Lobbyists Paid the 6 Democrats Named in Sting Video Nearly $333,000
HuffPost – Alexander Kaufman | Published: 7/13/2021
Exxon Mobil lobbyist Keith McCoy listed six Democrats the company saw as key allies to push its legislative agenda in the U.S. Senate in a secretly recorded sting video from Greenpeace UK. New analysis of campaign disclosures found U.S. Sens. Mark Kelly, Maggie Hassan, Joe Manchin, Chris Coons, Kyrsten Sinema, and Jon Tester received a combined total of nearly $333,000 from lobbyists, PACs, and lobbying firms affiliated with Exxon over the past decade. A 2017 Ohio State University study indicates such donations have a measurable effect on lawmakers, particularly as they enter the five-figure range.
‘Get on the Team or Shut Up’: How Trump created an army of GOP enforcers
Politico – David Siders and Stephanie Murray | Published: 7/13/2021
From the earliest days of his presidency, Donald Trump and his political team worked to re-engineer the infrastructure of the Republican Party, installing allies in top leadership posts in key states. The effect has been dramatic and continues to reverberate after he left office. In red states, blue states, and swing states, these leaders – nearly all of whom were elected during Trump’s presidency or right after – are redefining the traditional role of the state party chair. They are emerging not just as guardians of the former president’s political legacy, but as chief enforcers of Trumpism within the GOP.
‘No Training’ Is a Common Staff Complaint. Meet the Congress Coaches
MSN – Chris Cioffi (Roll Call) | Published: 7/12/2021
When he first took the job as chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon in 2018, Roddy Flynn looked around for places to get training and advice. He did not find many, and he remembers joining a text chain instead, crowdsourcing answers with his fellow freshman chiefs of staff. “To have people you can call, in a more formal way, would have been wonderful,” Flynn said. This time, he found a more official place to go, a new coaching program run by the House chief administrative officer, part of an effort to beef up support resources in the sprawling workplace that is Congress.
Toyota Stops Donations to Election Objectors After PAC Takes Ads Out Against Company
Detroit News – Riley Beggin | Published: 7/8/2021
Toyota will no longer donate to members of Congress who voted against certifying the 2020 election in January, the company said after facing blowback over resuming those corporate contributions. The move follows an announcement that the Lincoln Project, a PAC founded by Republicans to help defeat former President Trump, would be releasing a series of advertisements directed at companies that donated to policymakers who opposed certifying the election, beginning with Toyota.
Trump Justice Dept. Effort to Learn Source of Leaks for Post Stories Came in Barr’s Final Days as AG, Court Documents Show
MSN – Devlin Barrett and Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 7/13/2021
Newly unsealed court documents show the Justice Department under Donald Trump sought a court order for the communications records of three Washington Post reporters in the final days of William Barr’s tenure as attorney general in 2020, as prosecutors sought to identify sources for three articles written in 2017. The documents indicate the extent to which federal investigators suspected the disclosures of classified information were coming from Congress. The new details about the investigation come as Justice Department officials are working on regulations to limit the ways in which they can pursue reporters’ data when hunting for the sources of classified information.
Why There’s Even More Pressure Now on Congress to Pass a Voting Rights Bill
Center for Public Integrity – Carrie Levine | Published: 7/9/2021
Congress faces growing pressure to pass new federal voting legislation in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that will make it more difficult to challenge a spate of new state-level voting restrictions. A package that would have set a new national baseline for election laws while overhauling campaign finance and government ethics provisions ran into a solid wall of Republican opposition in the Senate. Democrats are also working on a separate bill that would respond to a Supreme Court decision invalidating a key part of the Voting Rights Act.
Canada – Ethics Commissioner Reviewing Request to Investigate Trudeau Over Payments to Friend’s Firm
National Post – Stephanie Taylor (Canadian Press) | Published: 7/14/2021
The federal ethics watchdog is reviewing a request to investigate Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over payments made to a company owned by his friend. Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) Michael Barrett wrote to ethics commissioner Mario Dion asking he launch an inquiry into the prime minister’s possible involvement in awarding contracts to Data Sciences. The company was founded by Tom Pitfield, who served as the Liberal Party’s chief digital strategist during the 2015 and 2019 election campaigns. The Globe and Mail reported that MPs’ expenditure reports showed most of the Liberal caucus had paid money through their office budgets to the company, which has also been hired to provide digital services to the Liberal Party of Canada.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – Fann Says Audit Team, Maricopa County Have Different Ballot Totals
Arizona Mirror – Jeremy Duda | Published: 7/13/2021
The number of ballots counted by the Arizona Senate’s self-styled audit did not match Maricopa County’s official total from the 2020 general election, which prompted the election review team to acquire machines for a new tally, Senate President Karen Fann said. Election administration experts have been harshly critical of the procedures used by Cyber Ninjas, the company Fann hired to lead the audit team, and its subcontractors used to count ballots, and have expressed concerns the contractors leading the review have exhibited a lack of basic knowledge about election procedures.
Arizona – Redistricting Will Always Be Contentious. Ask Arizona.
Center for Public Integrity – Carrie Levine | Published: 7/15/2021
Redistricting maps help determine which party will hold political power. That means intense battles even in states, such as Arizona, that have taken steps to reduce politicians’ control over the results. Arizona’s independent redistricting commission received an avalanche of comments during its recent meeting. A review found hundreds of them echoed calls to action boosted online by Republican political figures and conservative social media pages that also have promoted the state Senate’s controversial review of the 2020 election in Maricopa County. The nexus suggests that nationally, the forces sowing doubts about the 2020 vote could focus their attention on redistricting to sway future elections.
California – California Supreme Court Will Be Asked to Grant Extra Time for State’s Redistricting Panel
Yahoo News – John Myers (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 7/14/2021
California’s redistricting commission will ask the state Supreme Court to give the panel two extra weeks to draw political maps this fall and winter, saying a delay from the federal government in providing new census data will otherwise limit public participation in the once-a-decade process. The move sets the stage for the court to intervene for the second time in the past year to adjust the process of drawing new legislative, congressional and Board of Equalization districts. Last summer, the justices agreed to add four months to what would otherwise have been an August 15 deadline to finalize the state’s maps.
California – Charity and Politics: California elected officials would have to disclose their connections under proposed rule
CalMatters.org – Laurel Rosenhall | Published: 7/13/2021
In the months before California lawmakers in June granted prison guards a $5,000 bonus and raises, the guards’ union made a few charitable donations, including to nonprofits run by the legislators who were preparing to vote on the pay hikes. Donations like this from groups that lobby the Legislature to nonprofits controlled by legislators, their staff, and family members have been under scrutiny by the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) since it was reported they have become a common way for politicians to raise and spend money outside the limits of the state’s campaign finance laws. The FPPC is scheduled to discuss new regulations to require elected officials to provide more information on special interest donations to their nonprofits.
California – Former County Clerk-Recorder, State Assemblyman Canciamilla Pleads Guilty to Campaign Finance Theft, Perjury Charges
DanvilleSanRamon.com – Bay City News Service | Published: 7/13/2021
Former Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder Joe Canciamilla pleaded guilty to nine counts of grand theft and perjury for using campaign accounts for personal reasons. He will serve one year in county jail as well as two years’ probation. After he resigned as clerk-recorder, Canciamilla agreed to pay $150,000 to the California Fair Political Practices Commission, admitting to spending campaign funds on travel to Asia, restaurant meals, airfare, repayment of a personal loan, and transfers to his personal bank accounts.
California – Former SF Public Works Manager Faces Perjury Counts in Corruption Scandal
KNTV – Jaxon Van Derbeken, Michael Batt, and Joe Rojas | Published: 7/8/2021
A former San Francisco Public Works manager is facing charges for allegedly hiding his role in a company that reaped more than $250,000 in no-bid contracts to provide T-shirts and other swag to the department’s employees. Gerald Sanguinetti faces perjury charges for concealing his ties to SDL Merchandising, a company he allegedly owned and was run by his wife, and charges of failing to disclose those ties to the city. SDL was paid through an off-the-books account managed by the non-profit San Francisco Parks Alliance on behalf of top public works officials. According to federal prosecutors, former Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru used the Parks Alliance account to collect bribes.
California – How Sacramento Sheriff Used Inmate Welfare Fund for Cameras, Fencing – and a Tahoe Resort
MSN – Jason Pohl and Michael Fitch (Sacramento Bee) | Published: 7/14/2021
Since 2014, Sacramento County has collected roughly $5 million each year from the phone call and commissary fees at the county’s two jails. That money has been deposited into an inmate welfare fund, originally designed to pay for programs and services that benefit people locked inside such as education or job training. But records detail how the sheriff’s office has increasingly leaned on the inmate fund to backfill its budgets and buy expensive new equipment. Millions of dollars have been spent on employee salaries. In the past two years, the staff spent at least $12,000 for flights and lodging, apparently for conferences.
California – Newsom Can’t Label Himself a Democrat on Recall Ballot
Politico – Jeremy White | Published: 7/12/2021
California Gov. Gavin Newsom will appear on recall ballots without his Democratic Party label after losing a last-minute legal fight. Newsom’s team had scrambled to correct an error that will now deprive him of his party preference on ballots for the September 14 recall. Newsom sued Secretary of State Shirley Weber, arguing the law imposes a needlessly early deadline for recall targets to request their party designation and that voters deserve to see that information. Judge James Arguelles disagreed with an argument from Newsom’s attorney that party status was a vital piece of information for voters.
Florida – Naples Ethics Commission to Self-Start Investigations Based on Informal Complaints
MSN – Omar Rodriguez Ortiz (Naples Daily News) | Published: 7/12/2021
The Naples Commission on Ethics and Government Integrity voted to self-start investigations based on information it receives through informal complaints. The new rules allow the commission to begin investigations if it obtains ethical misconduct allegations about city employees, officers, board members, and contractors via unsworn statements such as anonymous sources, e-mails, and calls. To begin a preliminary inquiry, the commission’s executive director must first consider whether the source of the allegations can be vetted, whether the allegations can be independently corroborated with evidence, and whether similar allegations have been received from other sources, according to the rules.
Florida – None of the Cuba Protesters Who Closed Miami Highway Cited Under GOP-Backed Anti-Rioting Law
MSN – Brittany Shammas, Timothy Bella, Meryl Kornfield (Washington Post) | Published: 7/14/2021
Scores of people crowded a major Miami-area highway recently, chanting in support of protests that erupted in Cuba against the country’s government. The rally caused an hours-long closure on part of the Palmetto Expressway. It was the sort of scene envisioned by a Florida law that Gov. Ron DeSantis pushed amid last year’s wave of racial justice demonstrations. The legislation calls for protesters to be cited if they block traffic. But no citations were given. Critics took issue with the lack of citations, saying the law is unclear or unevenly applied. DeSantis, who invoked the possibility of protesters shutting down a highway as he signed the bill into law, has been vocal in his support of rallies against the Cuban government.
Hawaii – Ethics Commission Quietly Drops Kealoha Investigation as Questions Swirl
Honolulu Civil Beat – Nick Grube | Published: 7/9/2021
In February, the Honolulu Ethics Commission voted to drop its ongoing investigation into retired police chief Louis Kealoha and his wife Katherine, who is a former city prosecutor. It cited their federal convictions for conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and other crimes. Commission Chairperson David Monk said any punishment the panel could have imposed would have paled in comparison to the years-long prison sentences the Kealohas are now serving. Despite the commission’s decision, there are still plenty of questions remaining about the agency’s role in one of the largest public corruption scandals in state history.
Idaho – Multiple Complaints Accuse Idaho Freedom Foundation of Breaking Nonprofit Rules
KPVI – Clark Corbin and Audrey Dutton (Idaho Capital Sun) | Published: 7/7/2021
Travis Oler, a Democratic legislative candidate, created the Hold Idaho Accountable nonprofit this year. One of his first actions was to file a complaint with the IRS alleging the Idaho Freedom Foundation violated its nonprofit status by engaging in excessive lobbying, becoming at least the third person to file a complaint against the foundation. But a former IRS regulator said the agency may not be equipped right now to devote investigative resources to complaints against tax-exempt organizations, and the question of whether a group like Idaho Freedom Foundation is engaged in “excessive lobbying” is a complicated one.
Illinois – ‘Paper Tiger’: Illinois’ legislative watchdog resigns citing lack of ethics reform
NPR Illinois – Hannah Meisel | Published: 7/14/2021
Illinois Legislative Inspector General Carol Pope resigned from her job after more than two years in the role she called a “paper tiger” for what she said was its relative powerlessness. Pope said her repeated suggestions for how to improve the office have been ignored by the Democratic-controlled General Assembly, and by her own assessment, legislation passed by lawmakers this spring aimed at ethics reform have actually weakened her office. The measure was sent to Gov. JB Pritzker but he has not signed it yet.
Maryland – Baltimore County Wants to Reform Its Inspector General Office. Here’s How Other State and Local Watchdogs Stack Up.
MSN – Taylor DeVille (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 7/9/2021
Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. and some county council members want to create an oversight panel to monitor the county’s corruption watchdog and set limits on the way the office may conduct investigations. But facing resounding criticism, Olszewski decided to hold off on filing a bill to rein in the inspector general. The Association of Inspectors General, a national consortium that sets the standards for how those offices should function, said the changes would mute the county’s current (and first) inspector general, Kelly Madigan.
Massachusetts – Forget Lawn Signs. Kim Janey Jumps into the Campaign Swag Game
MSN – Meghan Irons (Boston Globe) | Published: 7/14/2021
Forget the lawn signs and window placards. Acting Mayor Kim Janey is adding new swag to this year’s race for mayor, as part of a messaging and fundraising effort making its debut in Boston. Her campaign webstore is selling “Mayor Janey Our Mayor” T-Shirts, “Madam Mayor Kim Janey” totes, and “Mayor Janey” hats – for $30 to $34. Stickers and buttons are five dollars. Campaign merchandise is standard fare in national elections, but it is a relatively new phenomenon in this old-time city, where candidates are used to giving away stickers, pins, and window placards.
Michigan – Mayor Defends Using Campaign Funds on Daughter’s Wedding, Argues It Doubled as Campaign Event
MSN – Natalie Colarossi (Newsweek) | Published: 7/10/2021
The mayor of Romulus, Michigan, defended using thousands of dollars in campaign funds to help pay for his daughter’s wedding by stating it doubled as a campaign event. Mayor LeRoy Burcroff acknowledged using $4,500 from the funds to cover the open bar at the wedding at a yacht club. Burcroff’s attorney, Daniel Wholihan, said the wedding was related to the campaign because many of those attending the wedding had also worked for Burcroff.
Michigan – Michigan Attorney General Nessel’s Office ‘Reviewing’ 2018 Weiser Deal
Detroit News – Craig Mauger | Published: 7/8/2021
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office is reviewing state GOP Chairperson Ron Weiser’s use of party funds in a 2018 deal that required a secretary of state candidate to abruptly end his campaign. The Michigan Republican Party revealed it agreed to pay a $200,000 penalty to resolve a campaign finance complaint focused on the situation. The question now turns to whether Nessel’s office would attempt to pursue its own investigation into elements of the incident that fall outside of campaign finance policy.
Michigan – ‘This Is Really Fantastical’: Federal judge in Michigan presses Trump-allied lawyers on 2020 election fraud claims in sanctions hearing
MSN – Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) | Published: 7/12/2021
The latest effort to hold former President Trump and his allies accountable for months of baseless claims about the 2020 election played out in a Michigan courtroom, where U.S. District Court Judge Linda Parker asked skeptical questions of several lawyers she is considering imposing sanctions against for filing a suit seeking to overturn the results. During the hearing, Parker pressed the lawyers involved – including Trump allies Sidney Powell and L. Lin Wood – to explain what steps they had taken to ensure their court filings in the case had been accurate. She appeared astonished by many of their answers.
Mississippi – They Wrote Campaign Checks to Tate Reeves. Then He Appointed Them to Powerful Ed Boards.
Mississippi Today – Molly Minta | Published: 7/7/2021
All but one of Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves’ four appointees to the Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) board are campaign donors. Similarly, all three of Reeves’ recent selections for the Mississippi Community College Board, announced the same day as the IHL picks, are contributors. Reeves is far from the first governor to award appointments to friends, campaign donors, and supporters. The practice is common and legal in Mississippi, though not free from criticism. The insider appointments not only raise ethical questions but are indicative of a system of favoritism that excludes the historically Black colleges and universities.
Montana – Montana Justices Say Lawmakers Overstepped in Seeking Emails
MSN – Mary Beth Hanson (Associated Press) | Published: 7/14/2021
The Montana Supreme Court ruled legislative leaders overstepped their authority in issuing a subpoena for months of emails belonging to the court’s administrator, saying the request was not related to a valid legislative interest. The email issue was raised while the court was considering a legal challenge to a new law that eliminated the Judicial Nomination Commission and allowed the governor to fill judicial vacancies between elections. The law is an element of a longer-term effort by Republican lawmakers to remake what they consider an activist judiciary and to appoint or elect more conservative judges.
Nevada – FBI Investigating Vegas Councilwoman for Trump-Related Campaign Fraud
Hill Reporter – Tara Dublin | Published: 7/14/2021
Federal authorities are investigating the campaign finances of a Las Vegas City Council member with ties to a local militia. FBI agents showed up at City Hall, where they openly questioned council members and others as part of an investigation into Michele Fiore, who was accused last year of using city resources to campaign for Donald Trump’s re-election. Agents also executed a search warrant at Fiore’s home. A complaint was filed in July 2020 about Fiore’s campaign activity for Trump, and she survived a recall effort but resigned as mayor pro tem over racist remarks she made at a Clark County Republican Party event.
New Mexico – How Big Oil Keeps a Grip on New Mexico – with the Help of a Major Lobbyist
MSN – Cody Nelson (Floodlight) and Adrian Hedden (Carlsbad Current-Argus) | Published: 7/11/2021
When President Biden paused oil and gas drilling leases on federal lands, the alarm bells rang in southeastern New Mexico. Officials in Eddy County, where the top employers are in the mining and oil and gas industries, appeared to be depending on their influential allies, including the lobbying firm FTI Consulting, to keep it that way. Emails, contracts, and other records show how FTI has used its footholds in the area for years to help push pro fossil-fuel messaging and policy. At the same time, FTI has been able to give its energy company clients easy access to local officials. But the firm and one of its spinoffs are not registered as lobbyists with the state.
New York – How Will Government Meetings Adjust to a Post-Zoom World?
Politico – Bill Mahoney | Published: 7/11/2021
A recent meeting of the New York Senate’s Ethics Committee was scheduled with participants attending both in-person and via videoconferencing. It is a new experiment that foreshadows a looming debate over how the “new normal” will look for public bodies. Traditional meetings became virtual last year, adding physical distance between people and their government and making it easier for elected officials to dodge interactions with protesters, the press, and the public. But that shift also made government more accessible for members the public who might not be able to participate in traditional meetings because of factors like physical disabilities.
New York – ‘We All Wait with Bated Breath’: Secretive Cuomo inquiry leaves New York politics in limbo
MSN – Anna Gronewold (Politico) | Published: 7/11/2021
Few New York governors in recent history have dominated the news cycle, and the levers of government, like Andrew Cuomo. But with an embattled Cuomo eyeing reelection next year, the future of state politics rests with another statewide official: Attorney General Tish James. The attorney general, who has been investigating allegations against the governor, has retained private attorneys who have interviewed several women who accused Cuomo of harassment, as well as top staff said to be aware of his alleged misconduct. But little more is known about the probe and the uncertainty has paralyzed much of New York’s political apparatus.
Ohio – Dem Star Nina Turner Blows Pledge Not to Take Lobbyist Money
MSN – Roger Sollenberger (Daily Beast) | Published: 7/12/2021
The Democratic frontrunner for an open congressional seat in Ohio, Nina Turner, pledged in January she would not accept campaign contributions from lobbyists or corporations. But weeks later, she appears to have done just that. FEC records show Turner campaign reported a donation of $1,000 from the director of Amare Public Affairs, a firm Turner founded last year as an offshoot of lobbying shop Mercury Public Affairs. Three days after her pledge, Turner accepted $250 from a partner at Mercury, which has gained public notoriety over the last few years, even drawing scrutiny during the investigation into Russian election interference.
Tennessee – Tennessee Abandons Vaccine Outreach to Minors – Not Just for COVID-19
MSN – Brett Kelman (The Tennessean) | Published: 7/13/2021
The Tennessee Department of Health is halting its outreach to minors to get vaccinated against all diseases, not just COVID-19. Normally, the health department regularly advocates for vaccinating kids against many diseases without controversy. Decisions to ratchet back outreach comes amid pressure from conservative lawmakers, who have embraced misinformation about the coronavirus vaccine, said Dr. Michelle Fiscus, Tennessee’s former top vaccine official. Fiscus was fired without explanation recently. She said she was scapegoated to appease lawmakers, who had described routine vaccine outreach as “reprehensible.”
Texas – A Texas Man Was Arrested on Charges That He Voted in the 2020 Democratic Primary While on Parole. He Could Face as Much as 20 Years in Prison.
MSN – Amy Gardner (Washington Post) | Published: 7/10/2021
Hervis Rogers was so intent on casting a ballot in last year’s presidential primary that he waited six hours to vote, catching the attention of a CNN news crew when he became the last person tom do so at his Houston polling place. More than a year later, Rogers was arrested on charges he voted in last year’s Democratic primary while on parole. Under Texas law, it is illegal for a felon to “knowingly” vote while still serving a sentence, including parole. Doing so is a second-degree felony, punishable with a minimum of two years and a maximum of 20 years in prison. In at least 20 states, Rogers’s alleged vote would not be a crime.
Texas – Inside the Secret Plan for the Texas Democratic Exodus: A phone tree, a scramble to pack and a politically perilous trip
MSN – Amy Gardner, Eva Ruth Moravec, Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff, and Nicole Asbury (Washington Post) | Published: 7/13/2021
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called a special session to complete the year’s unfinished business, including the passage of far-reaching legislation restricting voting access that had failed when House Democrats staged a walkout in May. They were ready to do the same this time around to block what they described as an assault on democracy meant to make it harder for people who tend to vote Democratic to cast their ballots. It was just a question of when. What followed over a matter of hours was an exodus from Texas as dozens of Democratic lawmakers made arrangements to leave their homes and their jobs, potentially for weeks, and drew sharp rebukes for walking away from their responsibilities in the Texas Legislature.
Washington – City Denies Wrongdoing Alleged in Public Records Lawsuit, Countersues The Seattle Times
Seattle Times – Lewis Kamb | Published: 7/13/2021
Lawyers for the city of Seattle deny it broke Washington’s public records law and countersued The Seattle Times in response to a lawsuit alleging the city mishandled reporters’ requests for top officials’ text messages during a tumultuous period last summer. The city denied most legal contentions, including claims based on an ethics investigation into a whistleblower’s complaint that found Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office violated the public disclosure law after discovering the mayor’s texts for a 10-month period were missing. Although it concedes the mayor’s texts are lost, the city’s response includes a counterclaim against the newspaper.
Wisconsin – Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers Vetoes Bill That Would’ve Kept Legislators’ Discipline Records for Sexual Harassment Confidential
MSN – Molly Beck (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) | Published: 7/9/2021
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers vetoed legislation that could have made it more difficult for the public to get records about lawmakers who are disciplined or accused of sexual harassment. The bill, which was passed unanimously, would have formally created a human resources office for the state Legislature and specified disciplinary records and complaints against lawmakers should be treated confidentially. The bill would have bolstered a standing legislative practice of withholding complaints against lawmakers. Evers said labeling such records as confidential in state law could prevent the public from knowing details about lawmakers’ misconduct.
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