News You Can Use Digest - March 19, 2021 - State and Federal Communications

March 19, 2021  •  

News You Can Use Digest – March 19, 2021


Army Initially Pushed to Deny District’s Request for National Guard Before Jan. 6
MSN – Paul Sonne, Peter Hermann, Ellen Nakashima, and Matt Zapotosky (Washington Post) | Published: 3/16/2021

The Army pushed to reject the District of Columbia’s request for a modest National Guard presence ahead of the January 6 rally that led to the Capitol riot, underscoring the reluctance of some at the Pentagon to involve the military in security arrangements that day. In an internal draft memo, the Army said the U.S. military should not be needed to help police with traffic and crowd management, as city officials had requested, unless more than 100,000 demonstrators were expected. The memo said the request should be denied because a federal agency had not been identified to run the preparations and on-the-day operations; the resources of other federal agencies had not been exhausted; and law enforcement was “far better suited” for the task.

Brussels Lobbying Business Picks Up Despite Pandemic
Politico – Lily Bayer | Published: 3/10/2021

Not even a pandemic can keep European Union (EU) lobbyists down for long. While some endured revenue falls and staff cuts after the coronavirus crisis first hit, consultancies and other lobbying outfits have become increasingly active since then. Some of the uptick is due to the crisis itself. Private sector clients and others are eager to influence the EU’s post-coronavirus recovery plans. Some of it is due to Brussels entering what are traditionally the busiest years of a legislative cycle, with the European Commission in its second year in office.

Corporate PAC Donations to Parties and Candidates Plummet after Capitol Riot
MSN – Kate Ackley and Herb Jackson (Roll Call) | Published: 3/16/2021

Campaign finance data show companies and organizations largely stuck to their public pledges to pause at least some of their political donations after a pro-Trump mob attacked the Capitol and 147 Republicans in the House and Senate voted to reject electoral votes from certain states that President Biden won. The coronavirus pandemic also put a dent in giving during the earliest weeks of this year. But PACs would normally use checks in January after an election year to introduce themselves to new office holders, help candidates build up funds to scare away potential challengers or to retire old campaign debt, and assist party committees gearing up for another campaign cycle. Disclosures from 2021 show this did not happen.

House Committee Seeks Financial Records for Trump’s Washington Hotel
MSN – Jonathan O’Connell and David Fahrenthold (Washington Post) | Published: 3/16/2021

A House committee asked the Biden administration to provide detailed financial records on former President Trump’s Washington, D.C. hotel, which is in a federally owned building and must give the government financial data as part of its lease. The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee first asked for records on the hotel in 2019. But for two years, while Trump’s administration was the Trump International Hotel’s landlord, the government refused to hand them over. Those records, if made public, would reveal the inner workings of a hotel that became a place where the sitting president’s company could be paid by foreign governments, Republican allies, and companies with business before the Trump administration.

House GOP Super PAC Launches Hard-Money Arm
Politico – Zach Montellaro | Published: 3/17/2021

The Congressional Leadership Fund, the super PAC with close ties to House Republican leadership, is launching a hard-money arm that will allow it to endorse and contribute directly to candidates and members of Congress. The effort, dubbed the CLF Trailblazers Fund, marks a new step for the high-spending super PAC that will allow it to have a more direct role in congressional races, potentially including GOP primaries.

How 535,000 Covid Deaths Spurred Political Awakenings Across America
New York Times – Maggie Astor | Published: 3/17/2021

Many people who have lost loved ones, or whose lives have been upended by long-haul symptoms of COVID-19, have turned to political action, seeking answers and new policies from a government whose failures under the Trump administration allowed the U.S. to become one of the hardest hit countries by the pandemic. Dozens recently participated in an advocacy training session over Zoom, run by a group called Covid Survivors for Change. The group organized virtual meetings with the offices of 16 U.S. senators and more than 50 group members lobbied for the coronavirus relief package.

‘I Still Don’t Feel Safe’: House lawmakers adjust to metal detectors, new normal
MSN – Chris Cioffi (Roll Call) | Published: 3/12/2021

Since January, lawmakers have been queuing up at the chamber doors, rummaging through their pockets, and sliding bags and other belongings across a table before they walk through the metal detectors. It is a common sight at sports stadiums or concert venues, less so in the U.S. House. Two months later, the outrage has cooled somewhat, but a question remains: Is this the new normal? Republicans who once made a scene, shouting at Capitol Police or dodging the screenings, are now complying as quietly as they would at the airport. They may not be happy about it, but it is starting to feel routine.

‘Manels’ Flourished During Key Period in Congress, Research Finds
MSN – Jim Saska (Roll Call) | Published: 3/16/2021

When U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa convened a hearing on birth control with mostly male witnesses in 2012, some Democratic women staged a walkout. Less noticed is the lack of women in more mundane settings, where the effects of gender are not as obvious. Caroline Bruckner of American University wanted to see who got a voice at the witness table as Republicans pushed through an overhaul of the tax code. There were 12 hearings and just 19 percent of the witnesses were women. Five of the hearings featured only men. Bruckner is looking at past panels, working with a team of other researchers at American University to track gender representation at legislative hearings for 15 committees going back 10 years.

Putin Targeted People Close to Trump in Bid to Influence 2020 Election, U.S. Intelligence Says
Seattle Times – Ellen Nakashima (Washington Post) | Published: 3/16/2021

Russian President Vladimir Putin and other senior officials in Moscow sought to influence the 2020 election by spreading misleading information about Joe Biden through prominent individuals, some of whom were close to former President Trump, the U.S. intelligence community said in a report. It does not identify those individuals by name, but it appears to reference Trump’s onetime personal lawyer Rudolph Giuliani, whose repeated meetings with a suspected Russian agent came under scrutiny by U.S. officials. While foreign disinformation and interference was a major concern heading into the 2020 campaign, domestic efforts to disrupt the race, including by Trump and his allies, turned out to be of greater significance.

Two Arrested in Assault on Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick, Who Died After Jan. 6 Capitol Riot
MSN – Spencer Hsu and Peter Hermann (Washington Post) | Published: 3/15/2021

Federal authorities arrested and charged two men with assaulting U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick with bear spray during the January 6 Capitol riot but have not determined whether the exposure caused his death. Julian Khater and George Tanios are charged with nine counts including assaulting three officers with a deadly weapon. They are also charged with civil disorder and obstruction of a congressional proceeding. The charges are punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

From the States and Municipalities

Arizona Arizona Lawmakers Move to Block Private Funds for Elections
Arizona Daily Star – Howard Fischer (Capitol News Services) | Published: 3/15/2021

Raising the specter of Mark Zuckerberg influencing who holds office in Arizona, Republican lawmakers moved to block counties from taking money from any private source to help run future elections. The party-line vote by the Senate Government Committee follows the disclosure that nine Arizona counties got more than $6 million last year from the Center for Tech and Civic Life. The grants were to help defray some of the costs of running an election during the COVID-19 pandemic, said Jennifer Marson, executive director for the Arizona Association of Counties.

California Bill to Increase Transparency of Lobbying Activities Passed in Senate Committee
California Globe – Evan Symon | Published: 3/16/2021

Legislation that would increase the transparency of lobbying activities in Sacramento was approved by the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee. Senate Bill 305 would allow electronic signatures on lobbyist registration forms and documents. Presently, a handwritten signature is required. The forms are also currently restricted to be handed in-person at the secretary of state’s office or sent through the mail. Sen. Brian Jones introduced the bill because of the delay current procedures have on keeping the public informed.

California French Laundry Friend Now Banned from Lobbying California Gov. Gavin Newsom
MSN – Sophia Bollag (Sacramento Bee) | Published: 3/16/2021

California Gov. Gavin Newsom adopted an expanded lobbying ban for his political consultants, months after he drew criticism for dining with lobbyist Jason Kinney at an expensive restaurant in violation of his own pandemic restrictions. Under the new rules, appointees “with a high level of influence over the Administration’s policy decisions” are prohibited from accepting gifts from lobbyists. The rule applies to Newsom, First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, senior officials at agencies and departments, policy advisers, and “any equivalent position.” The administration also asked the Fair Political Practices Commission to maintain a list on its website of everyone registered to lobby Newsom and executive branch agencies.

California Get Ready for California Recall to Break the Bank in 2021
Politico – Jeremy White | Published: 3/16/2021

Limitless money, a slew of candidates, and undivided national attention are about to converge in a battle for California’s future. An effort to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom is highly likely to qualify after supporters submit their last signatures. The ensuing campaign will be a melee free from the constraints that inhibit other statewide contests in California. Donation caps do not apply. Hundreds of millions of dollars are likely to inundate the state as the full might of California’s Democratic establishment vies with a concerted Republican effort to oust a humbled blue state leader.

California Oakland’s Transparency Problem: Thousands of public records requests are backlogged
Vallejo Times Herald – Annie Sciacca | Published: 3/15/2021

When people try to obtain public records from the city of Oakland, especially police reports, many probably feel their requests have been tossed into the abyss. In more than 6,300 cases, the police department and other city offices either have not responded to record requests or have not supplied all the sought-after documents, according to a review of Oakland’s NextRequest portal, which pulls all the requests into one place. Under the California Public Records Act, government agencies must let people who request documents know within 10 days whether they possess them, intend to withhold them and, if so, on what legal basis. Agencies can extend the 10-day period another 14 days.

Colorado Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman Sues City Over Recent Campaign Finance Changes
Canon City Daily Recortd – John Aguilar (Denver Post) | Published: 3/17/2021

Aurora Mayor Michael Coffman sued his own city, claiming a campaign finance reform measure passed by the city council last year is “designed to silence” him by barring officeholders in Aurora from organizing campaigns on behalf of candidates or ballot issues. The mayor said he supports the bulk of the ordinance, which limits individual donations to a candidate or his or her political committee to $400 per election cycle in a ward race and $1,000 in an at-large or mayoral race.

Florida Florida Property Rights Bill Was Written by a Development Company
Tampa Bay Times – Zachary Sampson | Published: 3/16/2021

A bill in the Florida Legislature that would bolster a state property rights law that critics say already scares local governments away from protecting the environment was written by representatives of a major development business that has donated to its state Senate sponsor. Sen. Ray Rodrigues said he worked with a lobbyist for the Barron Collier Companies and Collier Enterprises Management to draft the proposal. An email shows the lobbyist passed along draft language from an executive at Barron Collier Companies, one branch of a real estate and investment empire left by Collier County’s namesake.

Florida Police Raid Home of Former GOP Lawmaker Who Bragged About Planting No-Party Candidate
Miami Herald – Ana Ceballos, Samantha Gross, and David Ovalle | Published: 3/17/2021

Authorities raided the house of former Florida Sen. Frank Artiles. He is believed to be tied to a state investigation involving a sham no-party candidate who likely swayed the outcome of a key 2020 Miami-Dade state Senate race. While details remain sealed, it was reported that Artiles got involved in the Senate District 37 race when he recruited and boasted about planting Alex Rodriguez, an auto-parts dealer, to run in the race. Rodriguez was on the ballot as a no-party candidate, shared the same surname as the incumbent Democrat, and his mysterious candidacy has been under investigation since November.

Hawaii Hawaii Lawmakers Seek Exemption from Political Ad Disclosures
Honolulu Civil Beat – Blaze Lovell | Published: 3/18/2021

The public could have less transparency in elections and less insight into what political advertisements candidates are paying for under a pair of measures moving through the Hawaii Legislature.  House Bill 144 and House Bill 674 would exempt candidates from filing reports on ads with the state. That law was intended to shine a light on how much money candidates and political committees are spending on ads during election season to sway voters. Wording in the ad reporting law has confounded some campaigns and led to significant fines in recent years.

Illinois At Trump’s Chicago Tower, Employees Got Vaccinated Early – Thanks to a Hospital Whose COO Lives in the Building
MSN – David Fahrenthold (Washington Post) | Published: 3/17/2021

Employees at former President Trump’s Chicago tower got early access to coronavirus vaccines, arranged by a hospital whose chief operating officer owns a $2.7 million condo in the building. Seventy-two employees of Trump’s hotel and condo tower were vaccinated on March 10 and 11, despite city guidelines saying hotel employees would not be eligible until March 29. The city asked for more details about the vaccination event from its organizer, Loretto Hospital. The small hospital is in a majority-Black neighborhood nine miles from Trump’s downtown tower and says its mission is to provide vaccines to the “minority communities hardest hit” by the pandemic.

Iowa Iowa Extended Contact Tracing Contract with Company Owned by Republican Party Donor as Cases Plummeted
Associated Press News – Ryan Foley | Published: 3/12/2021

As coronavirus virus cases plummeted, Iowa quietly extended a $3.9 million contact tracing contract with a company owned by a major Republican Party donor and supporter of Gov. Kim Reynolds. After a one-day emergency bidding process in November, the state Department of Public Health hired MCI, a telemarketing firm, to trace the contacts of residents infected with COVID-19. The award of the two-month, $2.3 million contract came during a surge in cases that filled up hospitals with patients and after months of complaints from counties about a shortage of contact tracing workers. MCI performed telemarketing and data work for Donald Trump’s two presidential campaigns and also provided services for Reynolds’ political campaign.

Kentucky ‘Not a Knee-Jerk Reaction.’ Legislators Say Ethics Bills Not Just Aimed at Beshear.
Lexington Herald-Leader – John Cheves | Published: 3/12/2021

The Kentucky Legislature is moving two government ethics bills aimed at Gov. Andy Beshear – but also, lawmakers, say, at future governors from both parties who will follow him. The House appeared poised to give final passage to Senate Bill 6, which would create ethics rules for the people who work on transition teams for newly elected governors and other state constitutional officers, such as attorneys general and state auditors. The other measure is House Bill 454, which would reorganize the Executive Branch Ethics Commission, the panel that enforces a code of ethics on most of state government.

Maine Legislation That Would Silence Foreign Companies During Maine Ballot Campaigns Gets First Look
Portland Press Herald – Scott Thistle | Published: 3/15/2021

A trio of bills seeking to silence the influence of foreign companies on statewide ballot questions in Maine drew support and opposition during a public hearing before the Legislature. At stake is an ongoing, $1 billion powerline-expansion project spearheaded by Central Maine Power Co. and Hydro-Quebec, an energy company owned and operated by the Canadian province of Quebec. The legislation, offered by both Republican and Democratic lawmakers, would prohibit Hydro-Quebec from spending in an attempt to influence the outcome of a ballot question in November that would require the Legislature approve the project. It has been approved by state and federal regulators.

Maryland Baltimore Clarifies Rules to Govern Board of Estimates Votes, Abstentions
Yahoo News – Tim Prudente (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 3/13/2021

Baltimore’s Board of Ethics clarified the voting rules for the city spending panel, finding a member may in fact vote on matters pertaining to units of city government under his or her control. In a written opinion, the ethics panel concluded a 2013 change to city law limits instances in which members of the Board of Estimates must abstain from voting because of a conflict-of-interest. “… However, the BOE is free to adopt additional voting abstention policies to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest,” the opinion states.

Maryland Ex-Baltimore Mayor’s Associate, the Final Defendant in ‘Healthy Holly’ Case, Sentenced to 2 Years in Prison
Yahoo News – Justin Fenton (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 3/4/2021

The final defendant in the case against former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh ended when the former director of a nonprofit job training center was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison on tax fraud charges. Roslyn Wedington was director of the Maryland Center for Adult Training, where Pugh served on the board of directors. Pugh aide Gary Brown helped Wedington earn an off-the-books salary so she could for years avoid paying taxes and wage garnishment.  Brown was sentenced to 27 months in prison for his role, as well as a fraud scheme related to Pugh’s “Healthy Holly” children’s books. Pugh is serving a three-year sentence in federal prison.

Maryland Unlike Many Other States, Maryland’s Legislature Is Moving to Make It Easier to Vote Early or by Mail
Yahoo News – Pamela Wood (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 3/12/2021

Inspired by – or perhaps infuriated by – the contentious 2020 presidential election, Maryland lawmakers are pushing dozens of bills to change the way the state’s voters cast their ballots. Maryland’s Democrat-led General Assembly is moving to make it easier to vote by mail and to vote early, partially driven by the pandemic election that saw record turnout in the state by those means. Republican lawmakers, who are significantly outnumbered in Annapolis, are pushing bills they say would cut down on voter fraud, such as requiring identification at the polls and checking signatures on mailed ballots.

Michigan Michigan Officials Dodge Transparency Reforms Enacted Elsewhere, Reject Dozens of Bills
Yahoo – Craig Mauger (Detroit News) | Published: 3/16/2021

The Michigan Legislature has rejected more than 130 bills aimed at boosting transparency and ethics in government since a national nonprofit organization rated the state last in the subjects six years ago. The statistic shows Michigan officeholders’ ongoing resistance to laws that would provide the public more information about their decisions, including disclosing their communications and revealing potential conflicts-of-interest. Similar measures have already been enacted in most other states. But proponents of the reforms hope the tides are changing in Michigan.

New Jersey N.J. Mayor Weighs November Re-Election Bid – When He’ll Be 97
Newark Star Ledger – Steve Strunsky (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 3/15/2021

In the summer of 2017, when Vito Perillo was 92, he resolved to do something about Tinton Falls’ steadily increasing property taxes, a rise documented by saving every one of his tax bills since 1980, the year he retired as a civilian defense employee. He ran and won the mayor race in the Monmouth County borough. Four years later, with Perillo’s first term expiring at the end of the year, he must decide whether to seek a second term in November. Perillo, one of the oldest mayors in the state and the nation, if not the oldest, will be 97 years old at that point.

New York A Father’s Gift to a Mayoral Candidate: A $1 Million Super PAC
New York Times – Dana Rubinstein | Published: 3/17/2021

With New York City’s mayoral primary a little more than three months away and a deadline to qualify for the city’s matching-funds program having just passed, pleas for donations have been in overdrive in recent days. But in the background, another spigot of money has opened for two Democratic candidates who are trailing in early polls. An independent expenditure committee for Raymond McGuire, a former Wall Street executive, has garnered more than $3 million, with more than 70 donations from business magnates. A new super PAC for Donovan, a former cabinet member in the Obama administration, has drawn $1.02 million from just two donors – the primary benefactor being his father, Michael Donovan, who donated $1 million.

New York Cuomo Impeachment Probe Authorized by New York Assembly Speaker as Sexual Harassment Claims Grow
MSN – Dan Mangan (CNBC) | Published: 3/11/2021

The speaker of the New York Assembly authorized an impeachment investigation into allegations of misconduct by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has been the subject of multiple sexual harassment claims in recent weeks. The probe was set in motion hours after more than 50 Democratic state lawmakers, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, and the National Organization for Women demanded Cuomo resign. The developments came a day after a newspaper reported a member of Cuomo’s staff had accused him of aggressively groping her in the governor’s mansion last year.

New York New York’s Vaccine Czar Called County Officials to Gauge Their Loyalty to Cuomo Amid Sexual Harassment Investigation
MSN – Amy Brittain and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 3/14/2021

New York’s “vaccine czar,” an adviser to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, phoned county officials recently in attempts to gauge their loyalty to the embattled governor amid an ongoing sexual harassment investigation, according to officials. One Democratic county executive was so unsettled by the outreach from Larry Schwartz, head of the state’s vaccine rollout, that the executive filed notice of an impending ethics complaint with the public integrity unit of the state attorney general’s office. The executive feared the county’s vaccine supply could suffer if Schwartz was not pleased with the executive’s response to his questions about support of the governor.

New York Report: Rochester police, mayor ‘knowingly suppressed’ information in Prude case
National Public Radio – Vanessa Romo | Published: 3/12/2021

Rochester city officials, including the former police chief and the mayor, “knowingly suppressed” information from getting to the public, and some officials made “untrue statements” about the events leading to the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man experiencing a mental health episode who was asphyxiated by police while restrained and handcuffed. An independent report chronicles how ex-Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary and Mayor Lovely Warren, over the course of more than five months, took deliberate steps to avoid disclosing the disturbing nature of the encounter between Prude and the officers.

Ohio Advocates Call for Greater Transparency in Ohio Campaign Contributions Raised by Lobbyists
Cleveland Plain Dealer – Andrew Tobias | Published: 3/16/2021

Common Cause Ohio wants the state to require lobbyists to disclose fundraising they coordinate on behalf of politicians, saying the change would give voters a better idea which groups are trying to influence state policy through their campaign money. Ohio currently requires lobbyists to disclose the money they spend entertaining elected officials. State campaign finance laws require political donors to disclose their name, address, and employer. But those requirements do not reflect the lobbyists who may coordinate the donations.

Ohio Cincinnati Elections Commission Reverses Decision, Tightens Contribution Rules. It Could Cost Aftab Pureval
MSN – Scott Wartman (Cincinnati Enquirer) | Published: 3/11/2021

The Cincinnati Elections Commission reversed its January decision on the rules for use of previous campaign contributions for mayoral candidates. The board decided individual donors to mayoral and council candidates cannot exceed the $1,100 campaign contribution limits for any race going back four years to the previous mayoral race. The vote reverses a decision from that said candidates could use funds raised in non-city races before the previous general election.

Ohio Federal Utility Regulator Investigates FirstEnergy’s Lobbying on House Bill 6
MSN – Jesse Balmart (Cincinnati Enquirer) | Published: 3/17/2021

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is looking into how FirstEnergy lobbied for a $1 billion nuclear bailout in 2019. The FERC, which is tasked with regulating utilities like FirstEnergy, is investigating the company’s lobbying on House Bill 6, a bill that overhauled Ohio’s energy policies and included $1 billion in subsidies for two nuclear plants in the state, then-owned by FirstEnergy Solutions. FirstEnergy was directed to preserve documents and information related to lobbying. This investigation is in addition to an ongoing FERC audit of FirstEnergy.

Ohio Ohio Supreme Court Will Hear Argument of ‘Political Retribution’ by LaRose Against Summit County GOP Chair
MSN – Doug Livingtston (Akron Beacon Journal) | Published: 3/15/2021

The Summit County Republican Party is accusing Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose of spinning “inaccurate and incomplete” facts to “exact political retribution” against its local leader. LaRose rejected the reappointment of Bryan Williams, who is vice president of the state central committee and chairperson of the Summit County GOP, to another four years on the Summit County Board of Elections. LaRose gave the party’s county executive committee a deadline to give him another name for the open seat. Local party leaders met and voted to sue LaRose instead.

South Dakota South Dakota Legislature Adopts Bill Barring Public Agencies from Collecting, Releasing Information About Nonprofit Donors
Ballotpedia – Staff | Published: 3/16/2021

The South Dakota Legislature approved a bill that would bar public agencies from requiring individuals or groups to disclose identifying information about a nonprofit’s donors, clearing the way for Gov. Kristi Noem’s signature. Senate Bill 103 would bar any public agency, including state and municipal government units and courts, from requiring a current or prospective contractor to provide a public agency with a list of the nonprofits “to which it has provided financial or nonfinancial support,” among other provisions. The legislation does not bar public agencies from furnishing personal information about a nonprofit’s donors or supporters for campaign finance reporting requirements.

Utah Secretive Out-of-State Group Pushes Bill That Makes It Harder to Get a Voter Initiative on the Ballot
MSN – Bethany Rodgers (Salt Lake Tribune) | Published: 3/11/2021

This legislative session, supporters of a bill tightening the rules for ballot initiatives stressed that the measure would protect Utah from the influence of outside interests, which have previously dumped money into signature-gathering campaigns on medical cannabis and Medicaid expansion. What some state lawmakers might not have realized was this legislation was promoted by a shadowy, out-of-state group called the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA). While ballot initiative campaigns must disclose their donors, the public has no idea which wealthy benefactors might have helped the FGA advance its political agenda in Utah, said Spencer Stokes, a state lobbyist and the co-owner of a signature-gathering firm.

Virginia Northam Restores Voting Rights for 69,000 with Felony Convictions
MSN – Gregory Schneider (Washington Post) | Published: 3/16/2021

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam restored the voting rights of 69,000 people convicted of felonies under a policy change that speeds up the process, no longer requiring former prisoners to go through lengthy probations before qualifying to seek restoration. Virginia is one of a handful of states  that permanently disenfranchise all those convicted of felonies unless they have their rights restored by the governor. This year, Virginia’s General Assembly gave preliminary approval to a constitutional amendment that would automatically restore voting rights for felons as soon as they complete their incarceration. In the meantime, Northam said he was taking a cue from that proposal and changing the timing of his process, reviewing rights as soon as someone is freed.

Washington Washington AG Bob Ferguson Wants an Additional $2.8 Million in Legal Fees from Tim Eyman
Spokane Spokesman-Review – David Gutman (Seattle Times) | Published: 3/12/2021

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson wants an additional $2.8 million in legal fees and costs related to his lawsuit against anti-tax initiative promoter Tim Eyman. The lawsuit dragged on because of what Ferguson called Eyman’s “cost-inflating, frivolous, obstructive and defiant litigation tactics.” Eyman was found liable recently of “numerous and particularly egregious” violations of campaign finance law for laundering political donations to enrich himself, accepting kickbacks from a signature-gathering firm, secretly shuttling money between initiative campaigns, and concealing the source of other political contributions.

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