News You Can Use Digest - March 8, 2024 - State and Federal Communications

March 8, 2024  •  

News You Can Use Digest – March 8, 2024


Nikki Haley Suspends Her Campaign and Leaves Donald Trump as the Last Major Republican Candidate

Associated Press News – Steve Peoples and Meg Kinnard | Published: 3/6/2024

Nikki Haley suspended her presidential campaign after being soundly defeated across the country on Super Tuesday, leaving Donald Trump as the last remaining major candidate for the 2024 Republican nomination. Haley challenged Trump to win the support of the moderate Republicans and independent voters who supported her. Haley has made clear she does not want to serve as Trump’s vice president or run on a third-party ticket arranged by the group No Labels.

New Jersey Businessman Pleads Guilty and Agrees to Cooperate in Sen. Bob Menendez’s Corruption Case

MSN – Larry Neumeister (Associated Press) | Published: 3/1/2024

A New Jersey businessperson pleaded guilty to trying to bribe U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, agreeing to a deal with prosecutors that calls for him to testify in the corruption case against the senator and his wife. Jose Uribe was among three businesspeople charged in the corruption case against Menendez and his wife, Nadine Menendez. Authorities say the couple accepted bribes of cash, gold bars, and a luxury car in exchange for the senator’s influence over foreign affairs.

Appeals Court Ruling Means Over 100 Jan. 6 Rioters May Be Resentenced

MSN – Rachel Weiner and Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 3/1/2024

A federal appeals court overturned a sentencing enhancement used against January 6 defendants charged with felony obstruction, a decision that means that over 100 convicted rioters may have to be resentenced. The ruling could have an impact in plea negotiations, eliminating one bargaining chip used by prosecutors when encouraging defendants to plead guilty without a trial.

FEC Allows Candidates to More Easily Pay Themselves from Campaign Funds

MSN – Taylor Giorno (The Hill) | Published: 3/1/2024

A new rule allowing federal candidates to more easily draw salaries from their campaign funds went into effect on March 1. The new rule aims to remedy a commonly cited barrier to working Americans considering running for office, which is often an all-consuming and expensive endeavor. Incumbent federal officeholders cannot receive compensation from campaign funds under the updated rule.

Supreme Court Keeps Trump on Ballot, Rejects Colorado Voter Challenge

MSN – Ann Marimow (Washington Post) | Published: 3/4/2024

The Supreme Court restored Donald Trump to the Colorado primary ballot, ruling the state lacked authority to disqualify him after his actions during the attack on the U.S. Capitol. The justices warned of chaos if a candidate for nationwide office could be declared ineligible in some states, but not others, based on the same conduct. While the decision was unanimous, the court’s three liberal justices also wrote separately, saying the conservative majority went too far and decided an issue that was not before the court to “insulate all alleged insurrectionists from future challenges to their holding office.”

Trump Pulls Closer to GOP Nomination with Super Tuesday Wins

MSN – Hannah Knowles (Washington Post) | Published: 3/5/2024

Donald Trump won resounding primary victories in more than a dozen states, pulling closer to securing the Republican presidential nomination and catapulting more fully into a rematch with President Biden. More than a third of the delegates who eventually will vote on the GOP’s candidate were up for grabs on Super Tuesday, putting Trump on track to win a majority of delegates by March 19 at the latest, according to his team’s projections. Biden was quickly projected to notch decisive victories in almost every contest.

Sen. Menendez Faces New Charges in Bribery Case

MSN – Praveena Somasundaram and Anumita Kaur (Washington Post) | Published: 3/5/2024

Federal prosecutors charged U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez and his wife with extortion and obstruction of justice. Menendez; his wife, Nadine Menendez; and two associates, Wael Hana and Fred Daibes, were charged in an 18-count indictment that built upon the bribery charges they face in a case accusing them of conspiring to have the senator act as an illegal foreign agent on behalf of the Egyptian government.

The Fed Hates Politics. Now It’s Trying to Cut Rates in an Election Year.

MSN – Rachel Siegel (Washington Post) | Published: 3/6/2024

The Federal Reserve is eyeing multiple interest rate hikes  starting sometime this year. As the months pass, the chances grow that those cuts end up juicing the economy in the run-up to Election Day, just as Republicans and Democrats fight to leverage the economy in their appeals to voters. Decisions about interest rates, Fed officials say, are based solely on how the economy evolves, and whether inflation keeps trending down.

Supreme Court Sets Trump Immunity Claim in D.C. Trial for April 25

MSN – Ann Marimow (Washington Post) | Published: 3/6/2024

The U.S. Supreme Court scheduled argument for April 25 to review Donald Trump’s claim that he is immune from criminal prosecution on charges of trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election. The case will determine whether and how quickly Trump faces trial in the District of Columbia for allegedly trying to block Joe Biden’s election victory. The court’s decision to consider Trump’s claims, rather than letting stand a lower court decision that he can be prosecuted, drew criticism for further delaying the election obstruction trial.

Foreign Agent Law Faces Sweeping Changes

Yahoo News – Taylor Giorno (The Hill) | Published: 3/5/2024

The Department of Justice is expected to propose sweeping updates to the Foreign Agents Registration Act. It has been decades since there have been major legislative or regulatory updates to the law, which imposed registration and reporting requirements for individuals and entities seeking to sway U.S. policy or the public on matters of foreign interests. The law has not kept up with societal changes in recent years, including the rise of social media, even as the Justice Department has been more aggressive in its enforcement, practitioners say.

From the States and Municipalities

Arizona – Judge Dismisses Challenge to New Arizona Campaign Finance Law Exposing Dark Money Donors

MSN – Sasha Hupka (Arizona Republic) | Published: 3/1/2024

A Maricopa County judge rejected a lawsuit challenging a new law requiring so-called dark money groups to expose their political donors. Judge Scott McCoy ruled the Center for Arizona Policy and the Arizona Free Enterprise Club are not immune from Proposition 211, which was passed in 2022. The measure garnered wide support with its argument that the public has a right to know who is funding anonymous political messages from vaguely named committees.

Arizona – Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona Says She Won’t Seek Reelection, Avoiding 3-Way Race

MSN – Jonathan Cooper (Associated Press) | Published: 3/5/2024

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona announced she will not run for a second term after her estrangement from the Democratic Party left her politically homeless and without a clear path to reelection. Sinema’s decision avoids a three-way contest in one of the most closely watched 2024 Senate races, a hard-to-forecast scenario that spawned debate among political operatives about whether one major party would benefit in the quest for the Senate majority. Most analysts agreed Sinema had faced significant, likely insurmountable hurdles if she had decided to run.

Arizona – Arizona’s Trump Electors Subpoenaed in Grand Jury Investigation

MSN – Yvonne Wingett Sanchez and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 3/6/2024

A grand jury issued subpoenas to Republicans who took part in the attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election by signing and transmitting paperwork that falsely purported to show Donald Trump had won Arizona’s 11 electoral votes. The subpoenas request each of the Republicans testify before the grand jury about their involvement in the elector plan. They are part of an investigation by Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes, who has indicated her office would soon conclude the criminal probe.

California – Billionaire Flynn Says He Met Newsom Staff in Lobbying Effort Against Wage Bill

MSN – Eliyahu Kamisher, Daniela Sirtori-Cortina, and Josh Eidelson (Bloomberg) | Published: 3/1/2024

Billionaire Greg Flynn, who owns two dozen Panera Bread franchises in California, said he suggested excluding fast-casual restaurants from a bill raising minimum wages for fast-food workers in the state, but was surprised when chains that make and sell bread were specifically exempted from the final legislation. Flynn, a long-time Newsom campaign donor and one of the world’s largest restaurant-franchise operators, said he never met with the governor over the bill, though he “did meet with his staff in a group meeting with other restaurant owners.”

California – Ethics Overhaul Looks to Be Heading to Easy Victory

San Francisco Examiner – Troy Wolverton | Published: 3/5/2024

Voters approved Proposition D, a measure to overhaul San Francisco’s ethics laws, which was prompted by the corruption scandal involving former Department of Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru. It broadens the definition of people who are prohibited from giving gifts to city officials. The measure also greatly increases the number of city officials who would be required to undergo annual ethics training, among other provisions.

California – San Francisco Commissioner Resigns After City Says She OK’d Nonprofit’s Fake Invoices

San Francisco Standard – Jonah Owen Lamb | Published: 2/29/2024

The chairperson of the commission that oversaw a new community center in San Francisco resigned after facing allegations she approved false invoices for a nonprofit that bilked the city for at least $100,000. Susan Murphy resigned after the city attorney’s office announced the findings of an investigation that alleged Murphy approved the invoices for a nonprofit called J&J Community Resource Center, which provides services for low-income families and youth. Murphy used to be the nonprofit’s secretary, according to tax filings.

Connecticut – CT Election Regulators Want More Oversight of Local Town and City Political Campaign Finances

CT Insider – Ken Dixon | Published: 3/5/2024

Local political candidates including mayors, selectmen, and school boards would be required to file their campaign finance statements electronically with the State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC) under legislation supported by Connecticut’s top election regulator. Michael Brandi, executive director and general counsel of the SEEC, said the current system, in which candidates for local office file their reports in local city and town halls, is hard to monitor by the SEEC, the public, and the news media.

Florida – Moms for Liberty’s Descovich Hit with Ethics Complaint as She Awaits Confirmation to Ethics Commission

Florida Bulldog – Dan Christensen | Published: 3/5/2024

Tina Descovich, co-founder of the controversial political group Moms for Liberty, awaits a confirmation vote before the state Senate for a seat on the Florida Commission on Ethics, even as a newly filed complaint could well lead to her ouster. Descovich is not registered to lobby in Tallahassee, or apparently anywhere else. But she has been an outspoken advocate pushing a variety of conservative public policy positions with Gov. Ron DeSantis and legislators. “Members [of the commission] are prohibited from lobbying state and local governments,” according to the commission’s rules.

Florida – Deegan’s Chief of Staff Says Questions About Consultant Are ‘Political Shenanigans’

MSN – David Bauerlein (Florida Times-Union) | Published: 3/7/2024

Jacksonville City Council members questioned how a consultant working on a city grant-writing contract got a badge for entry to City Hall and a cubicle in the mayor staff’s office without going through a background check since he had a misdemeanor conviction in 1989. At issue is how the city handles background checks for contract employees and what the policy is for providing entry badges to them so they are able to enter City Hall and designated offices within the building.

Florida – Appeals Court Blocks Fla. ‘Stop Woke Act,’ Says It’s a ‘First Amendment Sin’

MSN – Anumita Kaur (Washington Post) | Published: 3/4/2024

A federal appeals court upheld a ruling that blocked Florida from enforcing a law, backed by Gov. Ron DeSantis that restricts how private companies teach diversity and inclusion in the workplace. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled the Stop Woke Act “exceeds the bounds” of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment right to freedom of speech and expression in its attempts to regulate workplace trainings on race, color, sex, and national origin.

Illinois – Ex-Illinois State Sen. Terry Link Gets Probation for Campaign-Cash Tax Conviction

MSN – Jason Meisner and Ray Long (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 3/6/2024

Former Illinois Sen. Terry Link, who wore a secret FBI wire in a sting against a colleague in the Legislature, was sentenced to three years of probation on tax evasion charges stemming from the withdrawal of campaign funds for personal use. Link pleaded guilty to failing to report income on his tax returns to the IRS and spending more than $73,000 in campaign funds on personal expenses.

Kansas – Wichita City Council Lifts Ban on Corporate Political Donations, with One Requirement

MSN – Matthew Kelly (Wichita Eagle) | Published: 3/4/2024

The Wichita City Council voted to lift a short-lived ban on corporate campaign contributions to city candidates. The rollback of the campaign finance reform was approved as council members supported an amendment requiring candidates to report the name of the principal owner of the company that gave to their campaign. Another amendment that would have banned the practice of giving multiple donations through different companies failed.

Kentucky – Appeals Court Sides with GOP Constitutional Officers on Ethics Commission Power

Kentucky Lantern – McKenna Horsley | Published: 3/1/2024

A ruling from a three-judge panel of the Kentucky Court of Appeals upheld a law allowing the state’s constitutional officers to each appoint a member of the Executive Branch Ethics Commission. Gov. Andy Beshear, whose office has said it will ask the state Supreme Court to hear the case, filed a lawsuit block the law that reduced his authority over appointments to the commission. The governor had been responsible for appointing the five commission members.

Maine – Judge Suspends Enforcement of New Maine Law Barring Foreign Spending on Referendum Elections

Maine Public – Steve Mistler | Published: 3/1/2024

A federal judge delayed the implementation of a voter-approved law in Maine that aimed to close an election law loophole by stopping foreign government spending on state referendum races. U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Torresen issued a preliminary injunction on the day before the new law was to go into effect. Torresen suggested she viewed significant portions of the law could include domestically held corporations and, as a result, is unconstitutional.

Maine – Measure to Limit PAC Contributions in Maine Could Be Headed for November Ballot

Portland Press Herald – Eric Russell | Published: 2/22/2024

An effort to limit individual and business contributions to PACs in Maine is likely headed for the November ballot. Although the proposal only applies to Maine-based PACs, the measure is seen as a test case for national supporters of campaign finance reform whose broader goal is to regulate PACs that have operated unchecked, and often in secret, for years. The citizen initiative as written would limit annual contributions to PACs from individuals, business, and other PACs to $5,000 in a calendar year. Right now, there are no limits.

Mississippi – Campaign Finance Reform Bill Gets Cold Response; Lawmakers Axe Transparency Component

Mississippi Today – Geoff Pender | Published: 3/6/2024

Campaign finance reform legislation in Mississippi would add transparency, increase penalties and fines, and allow the secretary of state to sidestep the attorney general office’s office if it refuses to go after alleged violations of the law. But lawmakers on the Senate Elections Committee were skeptical of the bill. They removed its main transparency component, and added a “reverse repealer,” ensuring it cannot be passed into law as is. Only then did they send it along to the full Senate.

Nevada – New Ethics Standards Coming to Clark County Government

MSN – Taylor Avery (Las Vegas Review-Journal) | Published: 3/5/2024

Clark County commissioners and some county employees have some new ethics rules to follow. Commissioners unanimously approved a handful of changes to the ethics law, including revisions to how conflicts-of-interest are disclosed, clarifications to language about waiting periods, and changes to required training on ethics standards.

Nevada – As CSN Taps Ex-Rep. Ruben Kihuen for Lobbyist Job, Some Lawmakers Question the Move

Nevada Independent – Jacob Solis | Published: 3/1/2024

Soon after the College of Southern Nevada announced it would hire former U.S. Rep. Ruben Kihuen, who left Congress amid an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations, as its top lobbyist, some lawmakers signaled concerns about working with him. As the college’s new executive director of government affairs, Kihuen’s job would require frequent, sometime one-on-one meetings with lawmakers and lobbyists. “To put us in a position where we’re making women uncomfortable in the building, I think, is unacceptable,” said a female lawmaker.

New Jersey – N.J. Was Once Heralded for Its Tough Pay-to-Play Laws. Not Anymore.

MSN – Riley Yates and Brent Johnson (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 3/4/2024

The Elections Transparency Act reworked New Jersey’s campaign finance system. While the reforms injected more money into politics, raising overall contribution limits for the first time in two decades, it also required “dark money” groups to disclose their major donors. Supporters of the new law insist the old rules were confusing, difficult to enforce, and rife with workarounds that made them ineffective. But critics maintain the changes only made things worse, all but dismantling “pay-to-play” rules once heralded as the strongest in the nation.

New York – Former Trump CFO Allen Weisselberg Pleads Guilty to Perjury in Deal That Doesn’t Require Cooperation

MSN – Jake Offenhartz and Michael Sisak (Associated Press) | Published: 3/4/2024

Allen Weisselberg, the former chief financial officer of Donald Trump’s company, pleaded guilty to lying under oath during his testimony in the ex-president’s New York civil fraud case. His plea deal will send him back to jail but does not require that he testify at Trump’s hush-money criminal trial. In pleading guilty, Weisselberg found himself caught again between the law and his loyalty to Trump.

New York – Meet the New York City Hall Community Liaison Whose House Was Raided by the FBI

MSN – Joe Anuta and Jeff Coltin (Politico) | Published: 3/4/2024

The FBI searched the two homes of Winnie Greco, a longtime aide to Ner York City Mayor Eric Adams, making her the second community liaison in the administration caught up in a federal probe. Greco is the administration’s director of Asian Affairs. Neither she nor anyone in the Adams administration has been accused of a crime, though the New York Post reported federal officials suspect Greco of potentially orchestrating straw donors who gave to the mayor’s campaign.

Ohio – Ohio AG to PUCO: HB6 subpoenas could let Randazzo, FirstEnergy execs escape prosecution

MSN – Jake Zuckerman (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 3/1/2024

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) significantly narrowed its investigations into the alleged bribery schemes of FirstEnergy, blocking subpoenas of its former chairperson and the two corporate executives accused of bribing him. The order from Attorney Examiner Megan Addison, came within 24 hours of a request from a top lawyer with the attorney general’s office to stop the subpoenas. She warned failure to do so could imperil the state’s criminal bribery cases against former FirstEnergy Chief Executive Officer Chuck Jones, company lobbyist Mike Dowling, and PUCO Chairperson Sam Randazzo.

Ohio – Alicia Reece’s Convention Center Votes Raise Conflict of Interest Question

MSN – Sharon Coolidge and Scott Wartman (Cincinnati Enquirer) | Published: 3/6/2024

Hamilton County Commissioner Alicia Reece has twice cast the lone “no” vote in matters related to the Duke Energy Convention Center’s renovation. In February, she abstained on a vote to spend $10 million in county money on the expansion. Her father, Steve Reece Sr., has been paid nearly $200,000 by the firm that runs the center, Oak View Group, to book events there. Any decisions the commissioners make about the convention center, including votes related to renovation, could impact her father’s contract.

Ohio – J.R. Majewski, Embattled Congressional Candidate, Exits Ohio House Race

Yahoo News – Ally Mutnick (Politico) | Published: 3/2/2024

J.R. Majewski announced he will bow out of the GOP primary for a key Ohio congressional seat after a week of waffling on his future in the race. His departure before the March 19 primary is welcome news for the House Republicans leaders who have maneuvered behind the scenes to nudge him out of the primary out of fear that he would lose the general election to U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, a Democrat.

Oregon – Ninth Circuit Rejects GOP Senators’ Appeal for Reelection After Walkouts

Courthouse News Service – Alanna Mayham | Published: 2/29/2024

Two Republican state senators who boycotted Oregon’s Legislature in 2023 lost an appeal after a three-judge panel ruled legislative walkouts are not a form of free speech. The lawsuit followed an order from Oregon Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade that upheld a voter-backed measure barring lawmakers from reelection if they accrued over 10 unapproved absences during a legislative session.

Oregon – Oregon House Passes Compromise Campaign Finance Reform Bill

Yahoo News – Dianne Lugo (Salem Statesman-Journal) | Published: 3/6/2034

The Oregon House passed a campaign finance bill that would establish new contributions limits. Oregon is one of five states without caps on campaign donations and one of 11 without limits on individual candidate contributions. Lawmakers adopted final amendments on House Bill 4024 after discussions during the session between labor unions, business groups and good-government advocates. If the bill is signed into law, backers of ballot initiative efforts said they would withdraw petitions that would bring reform to November’s ballot.

South Dakota – State House Bans Senator for Breach of Decorum

South Dakota Searchlight – Joshua Haiar and Makenzie Huber | Published: 3/4/2024

A state senator has been banned from the South Dakota House floor and lobby for the last week of the 2024 legislative session after placing a bottle of syrup on another lawmaker’s desk. Sen. Tom Pischke placed the bottle of syrup on Rep. Kristin Conzet’s desk days after Conzet motioned to defeat a commemoration celebrating the late Nancy Green, whose likeness was used to create the Aunt Jemima advertising character.

Tennessee – Another Tennessee Legal Battle Brews Over Bill Preventing Challenge of House Rules in State Court

Tennessee Lookout – Sam Stockard | Published: 2/29/2024

A Tennessee House committee passed legislation removing state courts from challenges of House rules despite the threat of another court battle. House Bill 1652 says circuit, chancery, and other lower state courts would no longer have jurisdiction over cases involving House and Senate rules. Rep. Gino Bulso contends the First Amendment does not apply to House rules and argues the Constitution allows the Legislature to hold floor sessions in secret without judicial review.

Virginia – Virginia Senator Who Does Legal Work for Skill Game Industry Will Help Write Skill Game Bill

Virginia Mercury – Graham Moomaw | Published: 2/29/2024

A state senator whose law firm has helped the skill game industry fight Virginia’s ban on the slots-like gambling machines is among the handful of senators picked to write legislation behind closed doors that could determine whether the industry remains profitable or ceases to exist in the state. Many members of the Virginia General Assembly are lawyers, and it is not uncommon for them to vote on legislation that could conceivably impact a client. Tangential associations are not usually enough to trigger the conflict-of-interest law.

Wisconsin – Pro-Trump Lawyers Central to Alternate-Elector Plot Settle Wisconsin Lawsuit

MSN – Yvonne Wingett Sanchez (Washington Post) | Published: 3/4/2024

Two attorneys who advanced a strategy to try to overturn the 2020 presidential election by organizing rosters of Republicans to falsely portray Donald Trump as the winner of several states, have reached a legal settlement in Wisconsin with the state’s two rightful electors and a Democratic voter, ending a lawsuit.  As part of the settlement, James Troupis, a former Dane County judge who oversaw Trump’s legal efforts in Wisconsin, and Kenneth Chesbro, an architect of the plan to try to invalidate Joe Biden’s win by convening Republican electors in seven states, released a trove of their communications about their work after the 2020 election.

Continue Reading

State and Federal Communications, Inc. provides research and consulting services for government relations professionals on lobbying laws, procurement lobbying laws, political contribution laws in the United States and Canada. Learn more by visiting

Sort by Month