June 11, 2021 •
News You Can Use Digest – June 11, 2021
Abbe Lowell Is the Go-To Lawyer for Embattled Politicians. Now He Faces a Controversy of His Own.
Mother Jones – Dan Friedman | Published: 6/8/2021
Abbe Lowell, one of Washington’s top attorneys, has spent decades helping high-profile clients engulfed in political scandals. But now Lowell – known for representing Jared Kushner, Jack Abramoff, and others – is himself the subject of a controversy. Lowell negotiated a plea bargain for Nickie Lum Davis, a Republican fundraiser who had engaged in illegal lobbying. Davis later fired Lowell. A new lawyer representing her said Lowell failed to disclose a conflict-of-interest to Davis prior to her guilty plea. At the heart of this dispute is the allegation that an influential attorney with a slew of prominent political clients failed to tell one of those clients about what could be perceived as a personal interest in her case.
After Hitting Pause, PACs Begin to Press Play Again
MSN – Kate Ackley (Roll Call) | Published: 6/7/2021
Business PACs, many of which paused donations earlier this year amid fallout from the violent Capitol attack, have begun to send more money to lawmakers, including to the 147 Republicans who voted against certifying the presidential election results of some states. PACs from defense, agriculture, and other sectors have led in donations to such lawmakers. Still, PAC money is down. Contributions to both parties’ House and Senate campaign arms dropped significantly in the first four months of this year when compared with the same period in the previous two election cycles.
Democrats Grapple with Way Forward on Biden Agenda After Manchin Throws Up Roadblocks
MSN – Mike DeBonis and Sean Sullivan (Washington Post) | Published: 6/7/2021
Democrats grappled with the seeming decimation of their sweeping legislative ambitions at the hands of one of their own lawmakers, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, who quashed prospects for the party’s marquee voting rights bill and cast a pall over other planks of President Biden’s agenda. Manchin declared his opposition to the For the People Act, a sweeping measure meant in part to override new voting restrictions passed by Republican Legislatures and reiterated his vow never to repeal or modify the Senate’s 60-vote supermajority rule known as the filibuster.
Democrats’ Improbable New F.E.C. Strategy: More deadlock than ever
Yahoo News – Shane Goldmacher (New York Times) | Published: 6/8/2021
Democrats seeking more robust enforcement of election laws and transparency measures have been routinely routed at the FEC. They have complained Republicans have weaponized the commission’s bipartisan structure to turn it into a toothless agency. Now, the Democratic commissioners have begun to strike back by leveraging some of the same arcane rules that have stymied enforcement efforts for years to make the agency do even less. The goal appears to be to take a panel seen as dysfunctional and create further deadlock, compelling federal courts to fill the breach when it comes to policing federal election law.
Facebook Gives Trump Path to Return – but Not Until at Least 2023
Politico – Cristiano Lima | Published: 6/4/2021
Facebook announced that former President Trump’s accounts will be suspended for two years, extending the suspension that began in January following a finding Trump stoked violence ahead of the insurrection at the Capitol. The company said after that period it would evaluate whether “the risk to public safety has receded,” and then make a call on his possible reinstatement. Facebook also said it will stiffen penalties for public figures during times of civil unrest and violence. Politicians’ posts will no longer be automatically treated as newsworthy, and thus protected from the platform’s rules against harassment, hate speech, and more. But their rule-breaking remarks may still be exempt under Facebook’s newsworthiness exemption.
FBI Investigating Postmaster General Louis DeJoy in Connection with His Political Fundraising
MSN – Matt Zapotosky and Jacob Bogage (Washington Post) | Published: 6/3/2021
The FBI is investigating Postmaster General Louis DeJoy in connection with campaign fundraising activity involving his former business. The Washington Post published an examination of how employees at DeJoy’s former company, New Breed Logistics, alleged they were pressured by DeJoy or his aides to attend political fundraisers or donate to Republican candidates, and then were paid back through bonuses. Such reimbursements could run afoul of state or federal laws, which prohibit “straw-donor” schemes meant to allow wealthy donors to evade individual contribution limits and obscure the source of a candidate’s money.
GOP Governors Are Cutting Unemployment Aid. Some Have Ties to Businesses That May Benefit.
MSN – Yeganeh Torbati (Washington Post) | Published: 6/7/2021
Republican governors in 25 states are conducting a giant economic experiment, ceasing enhanced jobless aid for an estimated 4 million people, arguing the generous benefits are dissuading people from going back to work. But a number of these governors have personal connections to businesses that are trying to find workers and could benefit from the policy change. The Biden administration and its allies in Congress argue any reluctance by Americans to return to work is due more to a lack of childcare, lingering concerns over safety during the pandemic, and low wages.
Justice Dept. Continues Appeal on Behalf of Trump in Defamation Case Brought by Sexual Assault Accuser
MSN – Shayna Jacobs (Washington Post) | Published: 6/7/2021
The Justice Department’s Civil Division under President Biden is continuing the Trump-era push to represent the former president in a defamation lawsuit brought by author E. Jean Carroll. The lawsuit brought by Carroll, who accused Donald Trump two years ago of sexually assaulting her in the 1990s, has been stalled in litigation over whether the Justice Department had standing to represent him on the grounds that his denials in response to her claim were made while performing his presidential duties. The legal maneuver would have required a judge to find a tort law that protects government employees from civil liability applies to a sitting president.
Justice Dept. Vows to End Court Orders Seeking Journalists’ Data in Leak Probes
Politico – Josh Gerstein | Published: 6/5/2021
The U.S. Justice Department pledged to stop using court orders to get journalists’ information in leak investigations following disclosures about a flurry of such efforts at the end of the Trump administration. The marked shift in approaches between the Trump and Biden administrations comes after it was revealed the department fought a legal battle to obtain information about the email activities of four New York Times reporters as part of a leak investigation. As The Times made the showdown public, it complained the aggressive investigative effort represented a significant intrusion on First Amendment rights and journalists’ ability to gather the news.
Lack of Data on Diverse Electorate Tests Pollsters, Politicians
MSN – Michael Macagnone (Roll Call) | Published: 6/4/2021
The most diverse electorate in the country’s history headed to the polls in 2020, but pollsters and party officials are not sure how to tap that potential source of political support. They lack good data about these increasingly diverse communities, and cultural understanding to go with them, leading politicians to make naive mistakes. An industry of firms that provide voter data to pollsters, campaigns, and others has been trying to find the best way to parse specific parts of voters’ identities like religion, race, and ethnicity.
New Bill Aims to Shut the FARA Revolving Door
Center for Responsive Politics – Alyce McFadden | Published: 6/3/2021
Former federal government officials would be prohibited from representing foreign corporations and governments as lobbyists under new bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Reps. Mike Gallagher and Jared Golden. The Congressional and Executive Foreign Lobbying Ban Act seeks to prohibit federally elected lawmakers, senior-level government appointees, and high-ranking military officers from registering as lobbyists for foreign agents after they leave the government.
Sen. Ted Cruz Prevails in Campaign Finance Lawsuit
Roll Call – Todd Ruger and Kate Ackley | Published: 6/3/2021
A federal court sided with U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz to strike down a “somewhat obscure” section of a 2002 campaign finance law, which is expected to give a boost to wealthier candidates who self-fund their campaigns. A three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia found Section 304 of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act unconstitutionally infringes on candidates’ free speech rights. That section prohibits federal candidates who made personal campaign loans before the election from using more than $250,000 in post-election contributions to repay them.
Trump’s Election Fraud Claims Propelled Them to the Capitol on Jan. 6. His Ongoing Comments Are Keeping Them in Jail.
MSN – Rachel Weiner and Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 6/9/2021
Although former President Trump has been blocked from major social media platforms and recently shut down his own blog, he is still monitoring and promoting false claims of election fraud. Citing Trump’s ongoing comments, federal judges have shared fears that the defendants accused of the worst violence or threats of violence at the January 6 Capitol insurrection remain a danger to public safety and should remain in custody while they await trial. “Unfortunately, the political dynamics that gave way to January 6th have not faded,” U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta said in detaining a man accused of throwing a hatchet and a desk during the riot.
Canada – Judge Rules Against Ontario Third Party Campaign Finance Rules Declaring It Unconstitutional
Global News – Holly McKenzie-Sutter (Canadian Press) | Published: 6/9/2021
A judge struck down a limit on third-party ad spending introduced by Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s government, declaring recent changes to the law unconstitutional. A group of education unions argued the changes to the Election Finances Act would have a chilling effect on their rights to free expression in the year leading up to a provincial election. The government recently doubled the restricted pre-election spending period to 12 months but kept the $600,000 limit on third-party political advertisement spending. The attorney general argued the changes were necessary to protect democratic elections from outside influence.
From the States and Municipalities
California – Companies Lobbying Gavin Newsom Helped Pay His Wife’s Salary, Report Finds
MSN – Evie Fordham (Fox News) | Published: 6/3/2021
Companies with a history of lobbying the state California, including PG&E, Kaiser Permanente. and Comcast, donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the nonprofit of Gov. Gavin Newsome’s wife. Jennifer Siebel Newsom received $2.3 million in total salary from her nonprofit, The Representation Project, between 2011 and 2018, according to tax returns. Siebel Newsom’s foundation billed itself as a gender watchdog organization releasing films to “challenge limiting gender stereotypes and shift norms.” Newsom has appeared in two of The Representation Project’s films.
California – Judge and Attorney in Pivotal Newsom Recall Lawsuit Were Former Law Partners
MSN – Phil Willon (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 6/7/2021
The judge whose ruling was pivotal to the recall campaign against California Gov. Gavin Newsom, providing supporters extra time to gather the necessary petition signatures to trigger a special election, was once a law partner with the attorney hired by the effort’s proponents to plead their case. Sacramento County Superior Court Judge James Arguelles and Bradley Benbrook were attorneys at Stevens, O’Connell & Jacobs before 2010 and the two served as co-counsel on at least two cases. Howard Herships, who opposes the campaign to recall Newsom, said he raised the issue in a complaint against the judge filed with the Commission on Judicial Performance.
Connecticut – Jon Lender: The wife of the lone GOP senator who voted for Connecticut’s recreational marijuana has a job at medical cannabis grower Curaleaf
MSN – Jon Lender (Hartford Courant) | Published: 6/8/2021
Esther Witkos, the wife of state Sen. Kevin Witkos – who was the lone Republican to vote yes when the Senate voted to approve a controversial bill to legalize recreational use of marijuana in Connecticut – has a job with Curaleaf, a medical marijuana grower/producer. Sen. Witkos said his wife has been an hourly worker at a Curaleaf production facility for more than a year. He said he had nothing to do with her getting a job there, and her employment there had no bearing on his vote.
Connecticut – ‘There Are Certain People That Drink Heavily.’ CT Lawmakers Talk About Alcohol Use in Session
MSN – Ken Dixon (Connecticut Post) | Published: 6/4/2021
Connecticut House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora, fearing extracurricular partying could distract lawmakers from the public’s business, ordered his caucus to move their offices back to the Capitol to avoid distractions. Speaker Matt Ritter chastised his caucus after lawmakers began tailgating on the roof of the Legislative Office Building garage. One House member admitted wine at dinner and the stress of the session contributed to her failure to speak complete sentences during a floor debate. While the drinking might not be good public relations for the Legislature, people with institutional memories say it is no worse than it ever has been.
Florida – As Artiles Criminal Case Unfolds, Sham NPA Candidate Agrees to Ethics Violations, Fine
MSN – Samantha Gross (Miami Herald) | Published: 6/7/2021
As a corruption case involving former Florida Sen. Frank Artiles continues to play out in court, the no-party candidate accused of being paid and recruited to run in the Senate District 37 election was fined for his involvement. Artiles’ defense team continues to debate with the state attorney’s office over how much potential evidence should be made public related to an alleged scheme to recruit and pay Alexis Pedro Rodriguez to run as a no-party candidate in the race. Rodriguez will pay a $6,500 fine for accepting money with the understanding he would change his party affiliation, qualify to run, and file a false disclosure form.
Florida – Ethics Commission: No evidence of improper lobbying on Coral Gables Wawa project
MSN – Samantha Gross (Miami Herald) | Published: 6/9/2021
Miami-Dade County’s ethics commission determined there was no probable cause to pursue a complaint filed on behalf of the Gables Accountability Project, a group of Coral Gables residents who sued the city in opposition to a planned Wawa gas station and convenience store. The complaint alleged lobbyist and former state Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla and lobbyist Laura Russo failed to properly register to lobby on the project before they sent letters to the city attorney and other officials regarding the removal of trees at the site of the future gas station.
Florida – Judge Asked to Block New Law That Limits Contributions to Florida Amendment Initiatives
South Florida Sun-Sentinel – Jim Saunders (News Service of Florida) | Published: 6/8/2021
The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and other supporters of three proposed constitutional amendments designed to expand voting want a federal judge to block a new state law that places a $3,000 limit on contributions to ballot-initiative drives. They filed a motion for a preliminary injunction, arguing the limit is unconstitutional and would prevent them from collecting enough petition signatures to put the proposed amendments on the November 2022 ballot.
Florida – Mystery Donor Gives $100K-Plus to DeSantis
Politico – Matt Dixon | Published: 6/3/2021
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has received more than $100,000 from a mystery donor, Tread Standard, that federal regulators previously said was possibly set up illegally to mask the likely source of the money. But it remains unclear who is behind the Delaware-based entity or its political largesse. Tread Standard was the subject of an FEC complaint during the 2016 election cycle that it gave $150,000 to a super PAC supporting former Gov. Jeb Bush’s failed presidential bid. Red flags were raised because the six-figure contribution to the super PAC supporting Bush was given less than two months after Tread Standard was incorporated, and there was no sign the entity did anything that generated its own revenue.
Idaho – Idaho State Legislator Doxxed a Sexual Assault Survivor, Drawing Ethics Complaints
The Intercept – Sara Sirota | Published: 6/3/2021
Idaho Rep. Priscilla Giddings is facing several ethics complaints after circulating articles revealing the identity of a 19-year-old woman who reported to authorities that another lawmaker, former Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger, had sexually assaulted her. Giddings is a reservist in the U.S. military, an institution confronting issues of abuse and underreporting, and is seeking greater power in Idaho politics as a candidate for lieutenant governor. Sexual assault survivors often fear others will not believe them or will retaliate against them, inducing further trauma and convincing them more often than not against informing authorities.
Illinois – Chicago’s Ethics Ordinance Infinitely Stronger Than State Version, Top Ethics Officials Say
Chicago Sun-Times – Fran Spielman | Published: 6/4/2021
The city’s ethics ordinance is infinitely stronger than the Illinois General Assembly’s version, the Chicago Board of Ethics said, and it is “gratified” that home-rule will prevail. It is another slap at the widely ridiculed six-month lobbying ban for lawmakers approved by the Legislature in response to the Commonwealth Edison bribery scandal. “We are gratified that the General Assembly heeded our urging that Chicago’s lobbying laws not be superseded by the ethics and lobbying reform bill recently passed by the General Assembly,” Ethics Board Chairperson William Conlon and Executive Director Steve Berlin wrote in a statement.
Illinois – Exelon Lobbyist Leads an Effort to Win a Big Payday for Illinois Lawmakers
WBEZ – Dave McKinney | Published: 6/7/2021
Eric Madiar, a contract lobbyist for Exelon, is representing former Illinois Rep. Michael Fortner in a class-action lawsuit to win back cost-of-living pay raises legislators, including Fortner, previously voted to block. The cost of the forgone raises for lawmakers was estimated at $14.4 million. The suit was filed as Exelon seeks legislative approval to hike rates to prop up its struggling nuclear plants.
Illinois – Former Chicago Alderman Aiding Corruption Probe Made Audio and Video Recordings of Then-Speaker Michael Madigan on Multiple Topics, Sources Say
MSN – Jason Meisner and Ray Long (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 6/9/2021
Former Chicago Ald. Daniel Solis recorded Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan on numerous occasions as the speaker allegedly sought business for his private law firm, sources said. He also recorded colleagues at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, where Madigan led the Illinois delegation. Solis wearing a wire on Madigan, a famously cautious and shrewd political boss, could help explain why federal prosecutors apparently have cut Solis an unprecedented deal in a federal corruption probe. The potential conflict between Madigan’s dual careers a public official and private lawyer has come under scrutiny numerous times over the years.
Louisiana – Advocates Decry ‘Double Standard’ in Louisiana’s Legislature, Citing Groundwater Ethics Bill
New Orleans Advocate – Blake Paterson | Published: 6/8/2021
Black lawmakers joined social justice advocates to decry what they say is a “double standard” at the Louisiana Capitol where wealthy corporate interests win big while everyday citizens get left behind. They highlighted a bill that would exonerate several members of the Baton Rouge-area groundwater commission from ethics charges they face for working for the companies they are tasked with regulating. Gray Sexton, an attorney representing three members employed by ExxonMobil, Georgia-Pacific, and Entergy who were charged by the ethics board, said the bill simply acknowledges the fact that industry for decades has had a seat at the table.
Maine – Maine House Backs Limiting Foreign Election Spending in Challenge to CMP Corridor
Bangor Daily News – Jessica Piper and Caitlin Andrews | Published: 6/9/2021
The Maine House passed a bill to bar foreign government-owned companies from spending on state ballot questions after a Canadian energy company dumped millions of dollars into the Central Maine Power corridor referendum fight last year. The proposed ban gained momentum following the spending by Hydro Quebec, a Canadian energy company, to influence potential ballot questions about the corridor. After a first referendum on the corridor was declared unconstitutional last year, corridor opponents mounted a second petition this year aiming to halt the transmission line’s construction.
Maryland – Baltimore Spending Board Approves New Travel Expense Rules for Elected Officials
Baltimore Sun – Phil Davis | Published: 6/9/2021
Baltimore’s spending board approved a new expense policy for elected officials, adopting rules recommended by a city work group after an investigation into State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s travel costs. Elected officials must now seek the Board of Estimates’ approval for travel expenses of $100 or more if a third party is paying the costs. Officials also have to disclose details, including the purpose of a trip and who is paying.
Michigan – Gabe Leland Gets 2.5 Years of Probation on Misconduct in Office Charge
Detroit News – Sarah Rahal | Published: 6/7/2021
Former Detroit City Councilperson Gabe Leland was sentenced to two-and-a-half years of probation after pleading guilty to a state misconduct in office charge. He was accused of agreeing to accept $15,000 in cash and free car repairs from a businessperson in exchange for his vote on a land deal. The allegations resulted in an indictment on federal bribery charges in addition to the felony misconduct in office charge, but the federal charge was dismissed as part of the plea agreement.
Michigan – House OKs Ethics Reform with Financial Disclosure, Lobby Limits
Detroit News – Beth LeBlanc | Published: 6/9/2021
Amid debate over whether the legislation went far enough, the Michigan House passed 13 bills and one joint resolution that proponents hope will boost transparency and ethics among lawmakers. The bills seek to create an ethics committee in each chamber, require confidential financial disclosures from members, and prevent legislators and senior administration officials from lobbying for two years after leaving office. The package moves to the Senate, where Majority Leader Mike Shirkey has expressed concerns that financial disclosure requirements could discourage people from running for office.
New Jersey – Stunning Development in Big N.J. Corruption Case as Judge Tosses Charges Against Former Candidate
MSN – Ted Sherman (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 6/3/2021
In a major setback for prosecutors, the bribery and corruption case against Jason O’Donnell, a former New Jersey Assembly member who was running for Bayonne mayor, was thrown out of court as a judge found O’Donnell committed no crime. The judge said O’Donnell had no power to make any promises in return for a $10,000 cash payment he allegedly accepted from an informant during an undercover sting operation. O’Donnell and four other candidates and officials were accused of taking tens of thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions and cash payoffs from an attorney seeking promises of lucrative tax and real estate work.
New Mexico – Citizen Lawmakers Find Work in New Cannabis Industry
New Mexico Political Report – Andy Lyman | Published: 6/6/2021
Even prior to the passage of the Cannabis Regulation Act in New Mexico, a handful of consulting and legal firms specializing in cannabis regulations and law existed. But since the law was approved, there are at least three elected officials who are currently, or plan to, sell their knowledge to those interested in getting in at the ground floor of what is expected to become a booming new industry. That raises questions about the ethics of state and local lawmakers selling their services in an industry they sometimes have a hand at creating.
New York – She’s Running for New York City Council. But Newspapers Won’t Publish Her Photo.
Politico – Hannah Dreyfus | Published: 6/9/2021
Amber Adler is the first Orthodox Jewish woman to run for city council in her Brooklyn district, which includes ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods. As she heads toward the June 22 primary, Adler is a victim of a recent trend among Jewish media outlets in Orthodox neighborhoods in the U.S. – a refusal to publish photographs of women and girls for religious reasons. Which means if Adler wants campaign ads printed in the Jewish news, she cannot be in most of them. Adler is butting up against expectations that Orthodox women do not assume positions of communal authority.
North Carolina – Raleigh Mayor Sits Out Development Hearings to Avoid Conflict of Interest
Yahoo News – Anna Johnson (Raleigh News and Observer) | Published: 6/4/2021
Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin recused herself twice from a recent city council meeting due to potential conflicts-of-interest involving her employer. The mayor did not participate in a public hearing on a proposed development because her employer, Barnhill Contracting, began working on the project in 2019. Baldwin was hired as the director of business development for Barnhill’s Triangle and Streamline Divisions in May 2020. She faced criticism for accepting the job soon after the construction company received a $6.3 million city contract.
North Dakota – Above Board or ‘Pay to Play’? Firm That Guides North Dakota’s $19.4B Portfolio Comes Under Fire
Grand Forks Herald – Patrick Springer | Published: 5/31/2021
Questions have been raised about potential conflicts-of-interest involving a financial adviser that recommends fund managers for North Dakota’s $19.4 billion investment portfolio. A firm called Callan, whose advisory role has been described as a “manager of managers,” received payments from 12 of the 14 companies that manage the investments for the Legacy Fund, the state’s oil tax savings account. As the North Dakota State Investment Board’s leading financial adviser, Callan plays an influential role in advising the board on selecting fund management firms for the Legacy Fund, public employee pension funds, and state insurance funds.
Ohio – Ohio Public Corruption Cases Could Be Tried in Defendants’ Home Counties, Under GOP Proposal
MSN – Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 6/9/2021
A state lawmaker is seeking to remove the Franklin County prosecutor’s exclusive authority to try Ohio public corruption cases, just months after a Democrat was elected to the position for the first time in nearly 60 years. An amendment to a bill would allow lawmakers, candidates, and political groups accused of violating state law to choose to be tried in their home counties, rather than in Franklin County as current law requires. The proposal comes amid the House Bill 6 scandal, in which ex-Speaker Larry Householder and allies are facing federal charges they received $60 million in bribe money to pass a bailout of two nuclear power plants.
Oregon – Oregon Lawmaker Faces Expulsion in Assault on State Capitol
Associated Press News – Andrew Selsky | Published: 6/8/2021
A state lawmaker faces being expelled from office after a video emerged apparently showing him choreographing how he would let far-right protesters into the closed Oregon Capitol days before he did so in December. The crowd entered the building during an emergency legislative session, and some sprayed chemical irritants at police. Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek recently introduced a resolution that would have the House expel Rep. Mike Nearman if two-thirds of its members vote in favor. She appointed a committee to consider the matter.
Oregon – Oregon Lawmakers Vote to Defund Forest Research Institute over Lobbying Scandal
Yahoo News – Tim Gruver (The Center Square) | Published: 6/9/2021
Oregon House members voted to pull the plug on a public agency accused of playing fast and loose with its ethical standards in its business with the timber industry. The bill redirects millions of dollars from the Oregon Forest Resources Institute (OFRI) to the Oregon Department of Forestry. A recent media investigation found the taxpayer-funded OFRI attempted to discredit state-sponsored climate research without merit. In 2018, investigators found the OFRI organized a campaign to tarnish an Oregon State University study that concluded the state could cut its carbon footprint if it felled trees on private land less often.
Pennsylvania – How the National Push by Trump Allies to Audit 2020 Ballots Started Quietly in Pennsylvania
MSN – Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) | Published: 6/6/2021
A push to conduct unofficial election audits in Pennsylvania served as a last-ditch effort by allies of former President Trump to undercut Joe Biden’s win after failing in the courts and Legislature. The lobbying foreshadowed a playbook now in use in Arizona and increasingly being sought in other communities as Trump supporters clamor for reviews of the ballots cast last fall, citing false claims the vote was corrupted by fraud. Trump’s backers argue any evidence of problems they uncover will prove the election system is vulnerable and could have been manipulated to help Biden. The audits are being pushed by an affiliation of GOP lawmakers, lawyers, and self-described election experts, backed by private fundraising campaigns whose donors are unknown.
Washington – Seattle Times Sues City of Seattle over Durkan’s Missing Text Messages During Protests
Seattle Times – Asia Fields | Published: 6/4/2021
The Seattle Times filed a lawsuit alleging the city of Seattle mishandled requests from reporters for officials’ text messages during a tumultuous period last summer when police abandoned the a precinct and used tear gas on protesters. The complaint follows a whistleblower investigation that found Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office violated state public records laws in its handling of requests after discovering the mayor’s texts were missing for a 10-month period. The newspaper claims the city violated the Public Records Act by withholding or destroying the mayor’s records after they were requested.
Wyoming – Inside the Campaign-Finance ‘End Run’ That Earned GOP an FEC Fine
WyoFile.com – Nick Reynolds | Published: 6/4/2021
The Wyoming Republican Party secretly supported a 2016 Trump campaign “end run” around donation limitations without securing requisite authorization, according to a former official. The violation, which resulted in a $52,000 fine, cited the party’s failure to meet reporting deadlines for a series of unusual transfers between the Republican National Committee, the state GOP, and the Trump Victory Fund PAC, according to the party’s then-treasure, Doug Chamberlain. But Chamberlain, who was responsible for signing off on all the state GOP’s financial activities and FEC compliance, said he was unaware of the arrangement.
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