News You Can Use Digest - May 21, 2021 - State and Federal Communications

May 21, 2021  •  

News You Can Use Digest – May 21, 2021


Biden Administration’s Deep Ties to Uber, Lyft in Spotlight After Vaccine-Assistance Partnership Announced
ABC News – Soo Rin Kim and Lucien Bruggeman | Published: 5/17/2021

When the White House announced an agreement with Uber and Lyft to offer free rides to vaccine sites as part of President Biden’s aim to inoculate 70 percent of Americans against the coronavirus by the Fourth of July, the partnership drew praise but also questions. The administration touted the arrangement as an answer to one of the vaccine effort’s toughest challenges: how to help people with limited transportation options get their shots. But it is also drawn attention to the role several senior administration officials once played in working and advocating for the rideshare companies, relationships already under scrutiny as the companies wade through government regulations and manage labor disputes.

Democrats Confront Reality on Voting Rights: Congress probably isn’t coming to the rescue
MSN – Mike DeBonis (Washington Post) | Published: 5/17/2021

Asked about the path to enact new voting-rights laws, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer has offered a pat reply: “Failure is not an option.” Faced with a barrage of new state laws aiming to restrict voting outside Election Day, most Democrats agree with Schumer that the need for a federal backstop is essential. But failure is very much an option – it is, in fact, the most likely one. A Senate committee reached a partisan deadlock over Democrats’ overhaul of federal election, ethics, and campaign finance ethics, and campaign finance law, and there is no clear path to breaking it.

Dems Reach New Fundraising Deal, with Boost for GOP States
Associated Press News – Bill Barrow | Published: 5/14/2021

National and state Democratic officials have reached a joint fundraising deal to increase aid to state parties, with an extra boost for those in Republican-dominated states. The agreement is intended to allow the party’s wealthiest backers to contribute up to $875,000 annually to a combined fund that, under federal campaign finance rules, can be distributed to party accounts around the country. The deal is intended to run through 2024.

FBI Probing Possible Illegal Donations to Susan Collins PAC and Congressional Campaign, Search Warrant Indicates
MSN – Emily Davies (Washington Post) | Published: 5/18/2021

The FBI has launched a probe into possible illegal campaign contributions funded by a defense company that supported U.S. Sen. Susan Collins’s 2020 re-election campaign, according to a search warrant application. Nothing in the warrant indicates Collins or her staff were aware of the allegedly illegal donations. The application outlined reasons investigators believe the former chief executive of Navatek, now known as Martin Defense Group, funneled donations funded by the company to a PAC supporting Collins through a shell company and donations to the Collins for Senator campaign through his family members.

Gaetz Associate Admits to Sex Trafficking of a Minor, Agrees in Writing to Cooperate Fully with Prosecutors
MSN – Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 5/14/2021

A Florida politician considered key to the investigation of U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz agreed to cooperate fully with federal prosecutors as he admitted in a plea agreement that he paid a minor to engage in sex acts with him and others. The agreement Joel Greenberg, a former tax collector for Seminole County, is an ominous sign for Gaetz. Even before he had accepted a plea deal, Greenberg had been outlining to prosecutors how he and Gaetz would pay women for sex, in hopes of convincing them he could be a witness against Gaetz and earn a break for himself.

Government Watchdog Says Fudge Violated Hatch Act
Politico – Daniel Lippman | Published: 5/13/2021

The Office of Special Counsel concluded Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits executive branch employees from engaging in political activities while on the job, earlier this year when she opined on the 2022 U.S. Senate election in Ohio. When a reporter asked her about the Senate race in her home state, she responded that she had two friends, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, who were thinking of running. Both have since launched statewide campaigns, although Whaley is running for governor instead.

Greene Searched Capitol Office Building for Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, 2019 Video Shows
MSN – Colby Itkowitz (Washington Post) | Published: 5/14/2021

Less than two years before Marjorie Taylor Greene became a member of Congress, she walked the halls of a congressional office building with a few men searching for a new Democratic congresswoman from New York named Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. A deleted video from February 2019 shows Greene arriving at Ocasio-Cortez’s office door to find it locked. She, and the men with her, then taunt her staff through a mail slot and defile her guest book, all while mocking Ocasio-Cortez.

Inspired by Arizona Recount, Trump Loyalists Push to Revisit Election Results in Communities Around the Country
MSN – Amy Gardner and Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) | Published: 5/19/2021

The ramifications of former President Trump’s ceaseless attacks on the 2020 election are increasingly visible throughout the country. In emails, phone calls, and public meetings, his supporters are questioning how their elections are administered and pressing public officials to revisit the vote count, wrongly insisting Trump won the presidential race. Behind the scenes, a loose network of lawyers, self-styled election experts, and political groups is bolstering community efforts by demanding audits, filing lawsuits, and pushing unsubstantiated claims that residents are echoing in public meetings.

Manchester’s Political Contributions, Ambassador Nod Are Subject of Criminal Probe
San Diego Union Tribune – Jeff McDonald | Published: 5/14/2021

A federal grand jury issued subpoenas in a criminal investigation into the nomination of developer Douglas Manchester as ambassador to the Bahamas by former President Trump. The case appears to focus on the Republican National Committee (RNC) and its two senior leaders, and possibly members of Congress. Weeks after Manchester withdrew his nomination, emails surfaced indicating he was at the center of a possible “pay-to-play” arrangement with the RNC. CBS News disclosed exchanges between RNC Chairperson Ronna McDaniel and Manchester that implied he would make additional donations to the GOP after winning confirmation.

This Biden Pick Has Worked for Top Offshore Wind Firms. Now He’s Poised to Help Oversee the Industry.
Anchorage Daily News – Joshua Partlow and Juliet Eilperin (Washington Post) | Published: 5/18/2021

Tommy Beaudreau spent the Trump years as a corporate lawyer working for energy companies of all stripes, including many of the developers that are key to the Biden administration’s goal of building thousands of offshore wind turbines in the Atlantic Ocean. Beaudreau is now poised to be confirmed as the number-two official at the Interior Department, which will decide whether these projects should receive federal permits to start construction after evaluating their environmental impact. Although some environmental groups have criticized him for his corporate work for fossil fuel companies, it is his private practice work for a wide swath of the offshore wind industry that may force him to sit out key decisions.

Three GOP Lawmakers Fined $500 for Defying House Mask Rules Amid Republican Backlash: ‘Worth it.’
MSN – Andrea Salcedco (Washington Post) | Published: 5/19/2021

As the U.S. House finished voting recently, a group of Republicans gathered on the floor, smiled, and huddled for a selfie. None wore masks. They were among about a dozen Republican lawmakers who openly defied the decision by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to keep a mask mandate on the floor until all lawmakers and staff are vaccinated. Now three of those GOP lawmakers – Brian Mast, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, a physician, and Beth Van Duyne – face $500 fines for breaking the rules. All three were fined because this was the second time that they defied the mask mandate.

White House Releases Biden’s Tax Returns in Restoration of Presidential Tradition
CNN – Jason Hoffman, Maegan Vazquez, and Allie Malloy | Published: 5/17/2021

The White House released the 2020 tax returns for both President Biden and Vice President Harris, restoring a presidential tradition that had been ignored under former President Trump. The White House also released the first and second families’ financial public financial disclosure reports. Press Secretary Jen Psaki appeared to give a veiled criticism of Biden’s predecessor, telling reporters that the White House expects to “continue to release the president’s tax returns as should be expected of all presidents.”


Canada Trudeau Cleared in WE Charity Controversy, but Ethics Commissioner Finds Morneau Broke the Rules
Globe and Mail – Bill Curry and Marieke Walsh | Published: 5/13/2021

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was cleared in the ethics commissioner’s investigation into the WE Charity controversy, but former Finance Minister Bill Morneau was found in breach of the Conflict of Interest Act. Commissioner Mario Dion released the two reports almost a year after the scandal erupted, leading to multiple probes by House of Commons committees and officers of Parliament, the resignation of a finance minister and the downfall of one of Canada’s most prominent charities.

From the States and Municipalities

Arizona ‘Our Democracy Is Imperiled’: Maricopa County officials decry 2020 recount as a sham and call on Arizona Republicans to end the process
MSN – Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) | Published: 3/17/2021

The Republican-dominated Maricopa County Board of Supervisors denounced an ongoing audit of the 2020 election vote as a “sham” and a “con,” calling on the GOP-led state Senate to end the controversial recount that has been championed by former President Trump. Board members said the audit has been inept, promoted falsehoods, and defamed the public servants who ran the fall election. In a calculated show of unity, they were joined by Maricopa’s other elected officials: the sheriff, a Democrat; and the Republican county recorder, who leads the elections office.

California After French Laundry Dinner, a Lobbying Boom for Newsom Adviser’s Firm
MSN – Alexei Koseff (San Francisco Chronicle) | Published: 5/19/2021

An uncomfortable spotlight shone on lobbyist Jason Kinney last year after he hosted an infamous birthday dinner attended by Gov. Gavin Newsom. The event violated California’s social distancing rules at the time and unleashed a political storm for Newsom. But the notoriety may have boosted Kinney’s fortunes in an industry where personal connections are the primary currency. Billings by lobbying firm Axiom Advisors, where Kinney is a partner, rose by more than 25 percent last quarter. Among more than 60 clients on the company’s roster during those three months, nine had newly hired Axiom Advisors to lobby on their behalf.

California California Recall Candidates Use Auto-Donation Tactic Trump Made Famous
Politico – Jeremy White | Published: 5/17/2021

California recall candidates are charging donors recurring campaign contributions through a tactic made famous by former President Trump and condemned by the FEC. Republican contenders Caitlyn Jenner and Doug Ose have preset their donation pages to charge repeat contributions every month as well as a “May Money Pledge” bonus contribution. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s re-election page at one point defaulted to a recurring donation as well, though it no longer does. Consumer advocates and campaign finance officials say the tactic misleads donors into giving more money than they intend because they must uncheck boxes to ensure they are not regularly charged. Automatic deductions can be difficult to stop once they begin.

California How Donors Give Millions to Garcetti-Backed Nonprofit and Keep Their Identities Secret
Yahoo News – Dakota Smith and Melody Gutierrez (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 5/13/2021

An analysis of more than $60 million given to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s charity fund found at least $3.8 million came from those who donated through accounts that mask their identity. Open-government groups say charitable gifts made on behalf of elected officials may go to worthy causes, but it remains critical to identify where the gifts come from to ensure the public knows the donor’s background. In some cases, companies that donate at the request of elected officials have business before the state or local governments, such as contracts or regulatory decisions.

California Nuru Scandal: Permit expediter Walter Wong to repay SF $1.7M
San Francisco Examiner – Joshua Sabatini | Published: 5/13/2021

Longtime permit expediter and city contractor Walter Wong agreed to repay San Francisco more than $1.7 million in money earned through public contracts plus penalties after he pleaded guilty to federal charges tied to the FBI City Hall corruption probe. Wong will repay The City $1.45 million for contracts and grants he and his companies were awarded without a competitive process through his relationships with former Public Works head Mohammed Nuru and former general manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, Harlan Kelly. Wong also agreed to pay $317,650 in penalties and late fees for ethics violations.

Florida New Florida Law Strikes Down Tallahassee Contribution Limits in Local Races
Tallahassee Democrat – Karl Etters | Published: 5/14/2021

Leon County and Tallahassee’s $250 campaign contribution limit is no more after the Florida Legislature preempted local governments’ ability to put a cap on how much an individual can give to candidates. Senate Bill 1890 was signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis but will not go into effect until July 1. It raises the campaign contribution for city and countywide offices, as well as local judicial seats to $1,000 per donor. It also increases statewide contribution limits to $3,000.

Idaho Advocates: Giddings should be held accountable for doxxing Jane Doe
Idaho Press – Eric Sheridan | Published: 5/18/2021

A crowd gathered on the steps of the statehouse to call for Idaho Rep. Priscilla Giddings to be held accountable for sharing the personal details of the 19-year-old who accused former state Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger of raping her. Von Ehlinger resigned following a committee hearing, where he was found to have engaged in behavior “unbecoming” of a representative. Prior to the hearing, Giddings twice published a link to a blog that named the 19-year-old. Jane Doe’s photograph and other personal information have since circulated, causing local advocacy groups to call for the Legislature, U.S. Air Force, and Idaho Air National Guard to hold Giddings accountable and remove her from leadership roles.

Illinois With Weeks of Session Left, Dueling Ethics Bills Stalling Despite Multiple Corruption Scandals
Bloomington Pantagraph – Ben Szalinski (State Journal Register) | Published: 5/17/2021

Since Illinois lawmakers last had a full spring session in 2019, four one-time state lawmakers have been arrested on corruption charges. Three resigned after being charged, and federal investigators pursued charges on other individuals with close connections to the statehouse and the former House speaker. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle stressed the need for ethics reform following the scandals, yet no legislation that directly addresses the actions of their former colleagues has reached floor debate.

Iowa Iowa Democrats File Ethics Complaints Accusing Heritage Action of Illegal Lobbying
MSN – Stephanie Gruber-Miler (Des Moines Register) | Published: 5/18/2021

Iowa House Democrats filed ethics complaints accusing two Heritage Action representatives of violating state lobbying law. In a leaked video, the national conservative group claimed credit for writing parts of a recently approved election law in Iowa. The complaints accuse the Heritage Action staffers of violated the law by failing to register as lobbyists and failing to declare on a bill prior to advocating for its passage. The Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board also sent a letter to the group asking for information on its lobbying efforts.

Louisiana Louisiana May Soon Lift Campaign Finance Limits on PACs
Associated Press News – Melinda Deslatte | Published: 5/19/2021

Candidates in Louisiana would be able to take unlimited sums directly from PACs under a bill that moved nearer to final passage. Sen. Ed Price said he sponsored the legislation to do away with restrictions on contributions that largely come from special interest groups as “more of a transparency bill than anything.” He said candidates trying to get around the limits have created multiple PACs of their own to accept the cash to help them with races. He said that makes it harder for the public to track the donations and see who is contributing to a candidate’s election effort.

Maryland Legislation Will Extend State Rules on Gift-Giving to MACo and MML
Maryland Matters – Bennett Leckrone | Published: 5/17/2021

Gov. Larry Hogan signed a bill that will ban state officials and employees from retaliating against someone who reports a violation of Maryland’s ethics law or participates in an ethics investigation. Senate Bill 4 will also close a loophole in the state’s rules on gifts to lawmakers by extending those rules to the Maryland Municipal League and the Maryland Association of Counties. Senate President Bill Ferguson’s chief of staff, Yaakov Weissmann, said the amendment was introduced to ensure the state’s ethics law applies evenly to all organizations. He said the issue was first brought to Ferguson’s attention when lobbying firms raised questions about how to conduct virtual events due to the pandemic.

Massachusetts An ‘Army of 16-Year-Olds’ Takes on the Democrats
New York Times – Ellen Barry | Published: 5/19/2021

Calla Walsh is a leader in the group of activists known in Boston as the Markeyverse. Walsh, a 16-year-old high school junior, is also representative of an influential new force in Democratic politics, activists who cut their teeth on the presidential campaigns of U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. The full strength of these activists, many of whom are not old enough to vote, did not become clear until last fall, when they were key to one of the year’s most surprising upsets, helping U.S. Sen. Edward Markey defeat a primary challenge from Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, who had been heavily favored to win.

Massachusetts Jury Convicts Ex-Fall River Mayor Jasiel F. Correia II of Extortion, Wire Fraud, Filing False Tax Returns
MSN – Shelley Murphy (Boston Globe) | Published: 5/14/2021

Former Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia was convicted of stealing money from investors in his start-up to bankroll his lavish lifestyle and soliciting bribes from marijuana vendors who wanted to operate in the city. Before Correia became mayor, prosecutors say he lured investors to support his app called “SnoOwl” by falsely claiming he previously sold another business for a big profit. Prosecutors say he used nearly two-thirds of the almost $400,000 he took from investors on himself and spent it on things like fancy hotels, casinos, high-end restaurants, and expensive gifts for his girlfriend.

Michigan Gov. Whitmer Discloses Cost of Trip to Visit Her Father and How It Was Paid For
MSN – Paul Egan (Detroit Free Press) | Published: 5/14/2021

A nonprofit corporation paid most of the $27,521 cost of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s contentious private plane trip to visit her father. Whitmer used her personal funds to pay the $855 cost of her seat. That was calculated as the comparable cost of a first-class ticket, said gubernatorial spokesperson Tiffany Brown. The disclosures followed weeks of criticism of Whitmer for refusing to say when she left the state to visit her father during the coronavirus pandemic, at a time that Michigan residents were being cautioned about travel.

Montana MT Supreme Court Rejects AG Request to Disqualify Itself in Email Case
KTVH – Mike Dennison | Published: 5/12/2021

A unanimous Montana Supreme Court rejected a request by state Attorney General Austin Knudsen to disqualify all seven of its justices from the case involving its internal documents and alleged bias. Justice Laurie McKinnon, writing for the court, said the Republican-led Legislature “manufactured a conflict” by issuing subpoenas to the justices, seeking the documents, and attacking a court or judge is not sufficient grounds to force them to step down from the case. She said it is the court’s job to decide the legality of the legislative subpoenas and stepping aside would be shirking its constitutional duty.

New York Investigation of Trump Organization Now Exploring Possible Criminal Conduct, N.Y. Attorney General’s Office Says
MSN – Shayna Jacobs and David Fahrenthold (Washington Post) | Published: 5/18/2021

New York Attorney General Letitia James’s investigation into the Trump Organization is now considered a criminal matter, her office said, noting officials with the former president’s company were recently apprised of the development. The attorney general’s notification to the Trump Organization suggested a cooperative relationship has developed between investigators working for James and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., whose office has been heading a criminal probe into the company and its officers since 2018.

New York NYC Comptroller Candidate Dave Weprin’s Use of Campaign Cash to Pay Fine Is ‘Not Permissible’: Election lawyer
MSN – Michael Gartland (New York Daily News) | Published: 5/18/2021

New York City comptroller candidate and state Assemblyperson David Weprin took seven years to fully pay off a six-figure debt to the city’s Campaign Finance Board (CFB) and when he finally did, he used money raised through his state political fund. CFB documents Weprin signed to qualify for matching funds require he and others affiliated with his city campaign acknowledge personal responsibility for any fines incurred. That, said election lawyer John Ciampoli, could pose a legal problem for Weprin because while state election law allows candidates to use state campaign finance cash to pay off fines in connection to an election, it does not permit them to do so to pay down personal liabilities.

New York What’s a ‘Bundler,’ And How Are They Bringing Money to the Mayoral Race?
Gothamist – David Cruz | Published: 5/18/2021

Two dozen people who are limited from contributing to New York City mayoral candidates because of their business ties with the city are legally circumventing those restrictions by serving as so-called bundlers. So far, campaign records show the campaigns of Eric Adams, Kathryn Garcia, and Scott Stringer are among the candidates in this election cycle who have received thousands of dollars in donations on behalf of bundlers. Experts say that while permissible, such an arrangement, which has been criticized by the city Campaign Finance Board, allows bundlers to boost their chances of getting facetime with those primed to acquire power.

North Carolina Powerful NC Politician Who Stole from GOP Donors Shouldn’t Go to Prison, Feds Say
MSN – Will Doran (Charlotte Observer) | Published: 5/19/2021

One of the most powerful lawmakers in North Carolina likely will not be spending any time behind bars for a campaign finance scheme that prosecutors say he ran to defraud conservative donors. Federal prosecutors recommended only probation for former state Rep. David Lewis, who could have faced up to 30 years in prison. Lewis pleaded guilty to multiple federal crimes last year and gave back the money he took, rather than trying to fight the case at trial, which prosecutors said contributed to their decision to go easy on him.

Ohio FirstEnergy Attorneys: Political donations in federal bribery probe are protected by the First Amendment
MSN – Jessie Balmert (Cincinnati Enquirer) | Published: 5/19/2021

FirstEnergy wants to dismiss a lawsuit brought by shareholders alleging securities fraud, saying the company’s political donations were protected by the First Amendment. FirstEnergy has been under scrutiny since it was alleged former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and others engaged in a $61 million bribery scheme to pass a bailout for two nuclear plants, then owned by FirstEnergy Solutions, and defend that law against a ballot initiative. A FirstEnergy subsidiary donated most of that money. “At most, the complaint alleges that Householder received contributions, but it is not bribery to support politicians who favor policies that align with one’s interests,” FirstEnergy attorneys wrote in a court motion.

Ohio Ohio Democrats and Republicans Seek More Transparency for Dark Money Politics
MSN – Laura Bischoff (Columbus Dispatch) | Published: 5/14/2021

In the wake of the largest public corruption case in Ohio history, lawmakers are pushing bills that call for more transparency for “dark money” in politics. State Reps. Diane Grendell and Mark Fraizer introduced House Bill 13, which they call the Light of Day Bill. The bill would require 501(c)4 nonprofit organizations to disclose political spending and donors.

Pennsylvania At the Pa. Turnpike Commission, Layoffs and Other Big Business Largely Decided Behind Closed Doors
MSN – Jonathan Silver (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) | Published: 5/17/2021

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission meets mostly behind closed doors and fails to deliberate in public while making critical decisions that impact the lives of millions of people. Though some meetings are exempt from the public, the termination of a quarter of the agency’s workforce last year amounted to the type of decision that should have been carried out in the open, say legal experts. The five commissioners for years have approved major expenditures, from billion-dollar bond issues to large contracts, while following a similar pattern: closed-door meetings followed by brief public voting sessions with no debate and few dissenting opinions.

Pennsylvania FBI Probe of Massive Pa. Pension Fund Seeks Evidence of Kickbacks or Bribery
Spotlight PA – Angela Couloumbis (Spotlight PA) and Joseph DiStefano and Craig McCoy (Philadelphia Inquirer) | Published: 5/14/2021

Federal prosecutors investigating Pennsylvania’s $64 billion public school pension fund are looking for evidence of kickbacks or bribery as they explore why the plan exaggerated investment returns and spent heavily to amass real estate in Harrisburg. Subpoenas demand information from the fund itself, its executive director, and at least three other senior officials. The documents lay bare the scope of the probe and reveal prosecutors and the FBI are investigating possible “honest services” fraud and wire fraud.

Pennsylvania Pa.’s Top Two Republicans Announce Plans for Lobbying Reform, But Is It Enough?
Pennsylvania Capital-Star – Marley Parish | Published: 5/17/2021

A new package of bills could tighten the guidelines for Pennsylvania lobbyists. Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman and House Speaker Bryan Cutler unveiled plans to draft legislation and build on the state’s existing law by regulating lobbyists’ influence and establishing a code of conduct. Under the proposal, lobbyists would be required to disclose and register any client conflicts and potential assets and complete annual ethics training. Campaign consultants, who also would be required to register, would be prevented from registering as lobbyists and lobbying elected officials for two years.

Pennsylvania The Hidden Tab
Spotlight PA – Angela Couloumbis, Mike Wereschagin, Brad Bumsted, and Sam Janesch | Published: 5/12/2021

The Pennsylvania Legislature spent $203 million from 2017 through 2020 to feed, house, transport, and provide rental offices and other perks for lawmakers and their staffs. About $20 million in all over the four years went directly into lawmakers’ pockets in the form of reimbursements for meals, mileage subsidies, per diems, and other expenses. It is a difficult, time-consuming, and potentially costly process to figure out what lawmakers are buying with taxpayer money. Though spending records are public upon request, legislative officials do not provide the information in an easy-to-use format. Often, key details are redacted.

Tennessee Registry Director Now Questions Whether State Law Allowed Ketron Payment Plan
Tennessee Lookout – Sam Stockard | Published: 5/20/2021

A month after the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance authorized its executive director to negotiate a payment plan with Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron on a $135,000 civil penalty, Bill Young, executive director of the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance, is raising doubts about whether such a move would have been legal. The question could be moot, at least for now, after Ketron’s attorney told Young the mayor is withdrawing his request to set up a payment plan and will pay the entire $135,000 in a lump sum.

Tennessee Tennessee to Rebid $123M Contract Amid Rigging Accusations
Associated Press News – Travis Loller | Published: 5/10/2021

The Tennessee Department of Correction said it will rebid a $123 million contract for behavioral health services after a lawsuit accused a state official of rigging the bidding process. Tennessee-based prison contractor Corizon claims the Correction Department’s former chief financial officer, Wesley Landers sent internal emails related to the contract to a vice president at Centurion of Tennessee. In return, Landers got a “cushy” job with a Centurion affiliate in Georgia, the lawsuit claims.

Wisconsin A ‘Community for All’? Not So Fast, This Wisconsin County Says
New York Times – Reid Epstein | Published: 5/18/2021

There was a yearlong debate over whether Marathon County, Wisconsin, should declare itself “a community for all.” When George Floyd was killed, communities and businesses engaged in a reckoning over social justice, diversity, and inclusion. But while scores of other communities adopted new policies and issued proclamations vowing to make progress, the residents of Marathon County, which is 91 percent white, could not agree on what to say. About the only consensus that has emerged is the prolonged fight over the phrase has only made things worse, ripping at the communal fabric in this central Wisconsin county and amplifying the tensions that had been simmering before Floyd’s death.

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