News You Can Use Digest - May 28, 2021 - State and Federal Communications

May 28, 2021  •  

News You Can Use Digest – May 28, 2021


Biden Justice Department Fights Release of Legal Memo on Prosecuting Trump
Politico – Josh Gerstein | Published: 5/24/2021

The Department of Justice released more of a key memorandum concluding former President Trump did not commit obstruction of justice through his alleged attempts to thwart federal investigations, including special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into ties between his 2016 campaign and Russia. But top department officials filed an appeal to try to keep the majority of that legal opinion under wraps, despite a judge’s order requiring that the legal memo be released in its entirety. The Biden administration is in the curious position of seeking to maintain secrecy surrounding some of the most pivotal legal decisions of the Trump era.

Commerce Department Security Unit Evolved into Counterintelligence-Like Operation, Washington Post Examination Found
MSN – Shawn Boburg (Washington Post) | Published: 5/24/2021

An obscure security unit tasked with protecting the Commerce Department’s officials and facilities has evolved into something more akin to a counterintelligence operation that collected information on hundreds of people inside and outside the department. The Investigations and Threat Management Service covertly searched employees’ offices at night, ran broad keyword searches of their emails trying to surface signs of foreign influence, and scoured Americans’ social media for critical comments about the census. The unit’s tactics appear as if “someone watched too many ‘Mission Impossible’ movies,” said Bruce Ridlen, a former supervisor.

House Ethics Panel to Drop $5K Metal Detector Fines Against Clyburn, Rogers
MSN – Cristina Marcos (The Hill) | Published: 5/20/2021

The House Committee on Ethics agreed to drop $5,000 fines issued to both Majority Whip James Clyburn and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers for allegedly failing to complete security screenings before entering the House chamber. The move to drop the fines indicates the decisions regarding Clyburn and Rogers were bipartisan. It marks the first time that fines issued to House members for evading security screenings have been successfully appealed.

Jennifer Granholm Sells Holdings in Electric Bus Maker AfteRepublican Criticisms
Politico – Eric Wolff | Published: 5/26/2021

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm sold her holdings in electric bus maker Proterra following criticism from Republicans that she might be profiting from the administration’s push for electric vehicles. The move fulfills the last of her obligations under her ethics agreement three months before an August deadline. She had been a board member for the company but resigned before becoming secretary.

Marjorie Taylor Greene Appeared in a Super PAC Ad Asking for Money. That Might Break the Rules.
ProPublica – Isaac Arnsdorf | Published: 5/21/2021

Not long after her election to Congress, U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene helped raise money for a super PAC by appearing in a video ad that tests the boundaries of rules limiting fundraising by elected officials. The ad explicitly asks for money for the Stop Socialism Now PAC, an entity that can accept unlimited donations. But candidates and elected officials are not allowed to solicit contributions greater than $5,000. Legal experts differed in their assessments of whether Greene’s appearance follows the law, depending on their views of how strictly campaign finance rules should be interpreted.

Michigans Top Election Official and Dominion Warn Counties About the Risks of Vote Audits by Outside Groups
MSN – Amy Gardner (Washington Post) | Published: 5/25/2021

Michigan’s top election official and the company whose voting equipment has been the subject of baseless claims of fraud are cautioning local governments in the state that outside audits of the 2020 election results like the one underway in Maricopa County, Arizona, would be illegal and would void the machines’ security warranties. The warnings come amid a growing campaign by former President Trump and his supporters to pressure county governments to launch audits reviewing ballots cast in the last presidential election, which they claim without evidence was tainted by large-scale fraud and votes manipulated on equipment purchased from Dominion Voting Systems.

Pardon-Probe Ruling Roils Legal Teams for Trump Ally Broidy, Associate
Politico – Josh Gerstein | Published: 5/20/2021

Two targets of a Justice Department investigation into efforts to influence the U.S. government’s probe regarding the looting of Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund recently shook up their legal teams. The moves by Elliott Broidy and Nickie Lum Davis were prompted, at least in part, by a mysterious court ruling and by news reports that identified some of the key players. Broidy and Davis both pleaded guilty to charges they worked together to violate the Foreign Agents Registration Act by failing to report they were taking millions of dollars from Jho Low for their efforts to get the Justice Department to drop an investigation. The probe took on a high profile due to Broidy’s close ties to former President Trump.

Republicans Move to Limit a Grass-Roots Tradition of Direct Democracy
New York Times – Reid Epstein and Nick Corasaniti | Published: 5/22/2021

Ballot initiatives, a century-old fixture of American democracy that allows voters to bypass their Legislatures to enact new laws, often with results that defy the desires of the state’s elected representatives. While they have been a tool of both parties in the past, Democrats have been particularly successful in recent years at using ballot initiatives to advance their agenda in conservative states where they have few other avenues. But this year, some Republican-led Legislatures have passed laws limiting the use of the practice, one piece of a broader GOP attempt to lock in political control for years to come.

Senate Democrats Introduce Legislation to Ban Political Committees from Using Prechecked Donation Boxes
MSN – Colby Itkowitz and Paul Farhi (Washington Post) | Published: 5/24/2021

A group of U.S. Senate Democrats introduced legislation that would ban political committees from automatically renewing campaign contributions without a donor’s explicit consent. The online fundraising tactic, which was embraced by former President Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign, has allowed federal candidates and political parties to shore up their coffers by prechecking a box online that sets up recurring donations – putting the onus on the donor to opt out. The practice has been criticized as deceptive and predatory.

Steve Bannon’s Fraud Case Dismissed After Months of Haggling over Trump
MSN – Shayna Jacobs (Washington Post) | Published: 5/25/2021

A federal judge formally dismissed the fraud case against Stephen Bannon, the conservative provocateur and ex-adviser to former President Trump, ending months of litigation over how the court system should handle his pardon while related criminal cases remain unresolved. U.S. District Court Judge Analisa Torres, citing examples of other cases being dismissed following a presidential reprieve, granted Bannon s application, ruling Trump’s pardon was valid and “dismissal of the Indictment is the proper course.”

Suited Up, K Street Returns
MSN – Kate Ackley (Roll Call) | Published: 5/20/2021

After more than a year of virtual-only advocacy because of the pandemic, newly vaccinated K Street lobbyists are reemerging for meetings on Capitol Hill and in-person fundraisers, as well as meals and sit-downs to reconnect with clients and coworkers. Still, many say they expect the Zoom life to carry on as the industry wrestles with the future. Many lobbyists said Republicans were returning to in-real-life meetings more quickly. But new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the subsequent lifting of capacity limitations on restaurants and other gathering spots in the District of Columbia means lobbyists of both parties are filling up their calendars faster than they anticipated.

They Tried to Overturn the 2020 Election. Now They Want to Run the Next One.
Politico – Zach Montellaro | Published: 5/24/2021

Some Republicans who challenged the legitimacy of President Biden’s victory are running for secretary of state in key battlegrounds that could decide control of Congress in 2022 and who wins the White House in 2024. Their candidacies come with former President Trump still fixated on spreading falsehoods about the 2020 election, insisting he won and lying about widespread and systemic fraud. Each of their states has swung between the two parties over the last decade. “Someone who is running for an election administration position whose focus is not the rule of law but instead ‘the end justifies the means,’ that’s very dangerous in a democracy,” said Bill Gates, the Republican vice chair of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.

Trump Justice Dept. Secretly Obtained CNN Correspondent’s Phone, Email Records
MSN – Matt Zapotosky (Washington Post) | Published: 5/20/2021

The Justice Department under then-President Trump secretly obtained the phone and email records of CNN’s Pentagon correspondent, again illustrating how the previous administration was willing to seek journalists’ data to investigate disclosures of information it preferred to remain secret. The Justice Department had revealed that under Trump it had secretly obtained Washington Post journalists’ phone records and tried to obtain their email records. The seizure appears related to reporting during the early months of Trump’s presidency and focused on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

Trump Tried to End Spygate Probe of New England Patriots by Offering Bribe, Late Senator’s Son Says
MSN – Timothy Bella (Washington Post) | Published: 5/25/2021

Donald Trump allegedly attempted to stop a congressional probe of the “Spygate” case involving the New England Patriots by offering a bribe to then-U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, the late senator’s son claimed. An ESPN report detailed how Trump, nearly a decade before he became president, allegedly acted on behalf of Patriots owner Robert Kraft when he met with Specter in 2008 to offer him “a lot of money in Palm Beach” if Spector dropped his investigation into the team. The Patriots were found to have violated league rules when they videotaped the defensive coaches for the New York Jets from an unauthorized location in 2007.

From the States and Municipalities

California San Diego Crashes Its Own Campaign Disclosure Website
San Diego Reader – Matt Potter | Published: 5/21/2021

The city of San Diego’s online campaign disclosure system, at one time a stellar model of electronic reporting, now appears to have lost a key vendor and been down for weeks without any public announcement, except for a note on the site that filings would return soon. An early effort to use electronic filing via Netfile stalled out in 2005 after the city manager questioned its estimated annual cost but San Diego became one of the vendor’s first clients. What led city officials to dispense with Netfile in favor of what appears to be a home-grown filing and disclosure system remains a tightly held secret.

Connecticut State Senator Dennis Bradley and Former Bridgeport School Board Chair Jessica Martinez Are Accused in a Federal Fraud Indictment of Stealing Public Campaign Funds
Hartford Courant – Edmund Mahoney and Christopher Keating | Published: 5/25/2021

State Sen. Dennis Bradley Jr. and his campaign treasurer, Jessica Martinez, were charged with a conspiracy to cheat Connecticut’s public campaign financing system out of about $180,000. The indictment says Bradley secretly paid about $5,600 to cover drinks for 150 guests at a campaign event in violation of public campaign financing rules that limit candidates to spending $2,000 in personal funds on such events. He also is accused of using his or his law firm’s money to pay for invitations, a band, and other expenses.

Connecticut The Supreme Court Orders a Constitutional Test of the State’s Campaign Finance Reforms After Two GOP Senators Are Punished for Criticizing a Democratic Governor
Hartford Courant – Edmund Mahoney | Published: 5/20/2021

The Connecticut Supreme Court reversed decisions by the State Elections Enforcement Commission and a Superior Court, which fined former Republican state Senate candidates Joe Markley and Rob Sampson for breaking election law in 2014 by spending public campaign grants on literature criticizing then-Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy. the decision sends the case back to Superior Court with instructions to rule on a first amendment question: what candidates running for office with taxpayer campaign grants can say on the stump, or more specifically, who they can and cannot criticize.

Florida Ethics Board Makes Recommendations to Bolster Tallahassee Lobbying Ordinance
Tallahassee Democrat – Karl Etters | Published: 5/20/2021

Tallahassee’s Independent Ethics Board approved a series of recommendations to strengthen the city’s lobbying ordinance, chiefly defining who is a lobbyist. Specifically citing reporting last year by the Tallahassee Democrat that detailed the intersection of lobbying, private business, political campaigns, and public policy, the board has worked to expand who would be considered a lobbyist and enact meaningful enforcement.

Florida Florida Governor Signs Bill Barring Social Media Companies from Blocking Political Candidates
MSN – Kat Zakrzewski (Washington Post) | Published: 5/24/2021

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill that aims to punish social media companies for their moderation decisions, a move Silicon Valley immediately criticized and likely sets the stage for potential legal challenges. The legislation would bar Internet companies from suspending political candidates in the run-up to elections. It also would also make it easier for the state attorney general and individuals to bring lawsuits when they think tech companies have acted unfairly. Legal experts and trade groups raised concerns about the constitutionality of the law and warned it gives the government too much power over online speech.

Florida ‘Ghost’ Candidate in Key Florida State Senate Race Had Help from Controversial Political Consultant
MSN – Annie Martin and Jason Garcia (Orlando Sentinel) | Published: 5/21/2021

About four months after political strategist Eric Foglesong pleaded guilty to stealing money from a campaign and was ordered to pay $20,000 in restitution, he waded back into Orlando’s local elections, contributing nearly $900 to a pair of little-known independent candidates who filed to run in two legislative races. Foglesong also likely wrote the $1,187 check that paid the qualifying fee for one of those candidates. The candidacies of the two independents, Jestine Iannotti and Juan Rodriguez, were later promoted by Republican-linked groups with ads apparently meant to siphon support away from Democratic candidates.

Florida New Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book Has Conflict of Interest as Republicans Quietly Shower Taxpayer Millions on Her Charity
Florida Bulldog – Dan Christensen | Published: 5/20/2021

Lauren Book, the newly anointed leader of Florida’s Senate Democrats, has a financial conflict-of-interest that is raising questions about her loyalties as her party prepares for the challenge of redistricting in January. For the past two years, House and Senate Republicans showered the Book’s charity, Lauren’s Kids, with $4 million in taxpayer dollars. The appropriations, including $2 million awarded in the regular session that ended April 30, were camouflaged to make it difficult for the public to spot them.

Georgia In Echo of Arizona, Georgia State judge Orders Fulton County to Allow Local Voters to Inspect Mailed Ballots Cast Last Fall
MSN – Amy Gardner (Washington Post) | Published: 5/21/2021

A state judge in Georgia ordered Fulton County to allow a group of local voters to inspect all 147,000 mail-in ballots cast in the 2020 election in response to a lawsuit alleging that officials accepted thousands of counterfeit ballots. The decision marks the latest instance of a local government being forced to undergo a third-party inspection of its election practices amid baseless accusations promoted by Donald Trump that fraud flipped the 2020 contest for President Biden.

Illinois Former Chief of Staff to House Speaker Michael Madigan Charged with Lying to Federal Grand Jury in ComEd Probe
Yahoo News – Jason Meisner (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 5/26/2021

Tim Mapes, who served for years under former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan as the clerk of the House and as his chief of staff, was indicted was charges of lying to a federal grand jury investigating allegations that Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) paid bribes in exchange for Madigan’s assistance pushing through legislation. The indictment alleged Mapes repeatedly lied during an appearance before the grand jury when asked about Madigan’s relationship with his confidant Michael McClain, who was charged with orchestrating the bribery scheme. ComEd agreed to pay a $200 million fine and cooperate in the investigation.

Illinois Multiple Charities Supported by ComEd Lobbied for Bills Favorable to the Utility Giant
WBEZ – Dave McKinney | Published: 5/26/2021

Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) gave nearly $9 million in the past year to nonprofit organizations. Critics say what some of those investments have yielded for ComEd is a de facto, ratepayer-underwritten lobbying force in Illinois that helped move some of the company’s legislative initiatives during the past decade. An analysis shows a pattern in which the same grant recipients that ratepayers subsidize are wearing dueling hats as utility company advocates before the General Assembly. The same is true for a long list of ComEd contractors who have advocated on behalf of the company. State law says utility companies like ComEd cannot make their customers pay for the cost of their lobbying expenses.

Illinois State’s Top Fiscal Watchdog Misspent Nearly $250K In Campaign Funds, High Court Finds
NPR Illinois – Hannah Meisel | Published: 5/20/2021

State Auditor General Frank Mautino should not have spent nearly $250,000 in campaign funds for fuel and repairs to personal vehicles when he was a lawmaker, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled. But Mautino did not violate campaign finance law by spending campaign funds in round, whole numbers – what the local government accountability nonprofit whose investigation sparked the suit against Mautino called a common red flag in conducting audits. The high court found there was no evidence Mautino’s campaign committee paid more than fair market value for goods and services bought with campaign dollars.

Indiana Watchdog Finds Ben Shoulders’ Campaign Money Moves ‘Odd,’ Lack of Answers ‘Troublesome’
MSN – Thomas Langhorne (Evansville Courier & Press) | Published: 5/24/2021

Vanderburgh County Commissioner Ben Shoulders reported two large transactions of campaign money in vague terms unchallenged by elections officials in his 2020 campaign finance report. Shoulders’ filing says the campaign paid him $10,592.72, calling it “personal expensea in error” (misspelling included). On another page it says Shoulders paid the campaign the same amount on the same date, calling that a “reimbursement for error.” There is no evidence Shoulders violated any laws. But there is also no explanation for how he could have mistakenly withdrawn such a sum from his campaign fund for personal use, how the money was spent, or even any documents supporting his contention both transactions happened on the same day.

Kentucky Ex-State Employee Fined for Taking Bribes from Horse-Therapy Rehabilitation Center
MSN – Daniel Desrochers (Lexington Herald-Leader) | Published: 5/20/2021

The Executive Branch Ethics Commission fined a former state employee $46,000 for accepting bribes while working for the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice. The commission found Shannon Anson accepted 23 payments worth $50,500 between August 2013 and July 2015 to refer kids in their care to the now-defunct Bluegrass Training and Therapy Center in Louisville. Anson was a social service specialist, which meant she was in charge of finding programs to place kids who went through the state agency.

Massachusetts For Years, Investigators Have Sent Maura Healey Evidence of Illegal Campaign Finance Activity. She’s Never Prosecuted Any
MSN – Matt Stout (Boston Globe) | Published: 5/24/2021

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has not acted in any of the cases alleging campaign finance violations sent to her office by a watchdog agency, declining at least nine times to pursue a lawsuit or a prosecution, including against candidates with a history of campaign infractions or fines. Officials have disclosed little about the 13 cases referred by the Office of Campaign and Political Finance, four of which remain under review. That the state’s chief prosecutor decided none of the cases rose to the level of civil or criminal prosecution raises questions about how aggressively campaign finance laws are being enforced.

Nevada Nevada GOP Thrown into Turmoil After Avowed Proud Boys Member Said He Participated in Censure Vote of State Official
MSN – Michael Scherer (Washington Post) | Published: 5/25/2021

The leaders of the Nevada Republican Party are facing an internal revolt after an avowed Proud Boys member said he was invited with friends to attend a state party meeting and cast the deciding votes in the censure of a state official who concluded the 2020 election in the state was not tainted by fraud. Members of the all-male far-right group have a history of violence. More than two dozen alleged members or supporters of the Proud Boys have been charged with committing crimes connected to the attack on the Capitol, and the Canadian government recently labeled the chapter there a terrorist entity.

New Hampshire NH Senate Votes to End Voluntary Campaign Spending Limits, Increase Contribution, Reporting Thresholds
WMUR – John DiStaso | Published: 5/20/2021

Legislation to end the voluntary campaign spending limit program and change thresholds for contributions and reporting requirements was among several voting-related bill passed by the New Hampshire Senate. Donna Soucy, the Senate Democratic leader, opposed ending the voluntary spending limit program and increase in the reporting threshold. Soucy said she was concerned by ending the voluntary limit, “We are sending a message that we are not looking at campaign finance in a way where we would have the ability to limit ourselves in our activities.”

New Jersey Assembly Campaign Donations to Union County Official Expose Pay-to-Play Loophole
Politico – Matt Friedman | Published: 5/19/2021

Several months after the Union County Improvement Authority awarded a no-bid contract to design a new $100 million county government complex in Elizabeth, top members of the architecture firm that received it donated to the nascent New Jersey Assembly campaign of a high-ranking authority official. The contributions do not appear to violate the state’s “pay-to-play” law, which bars contractors who receive no-bid contracts from giving to officials and political parties that can influence them. But they do expose one of many loopholes in the law.

New York Chris Cuomo Took Part in Strategy Calls Advising His Brother, the New York Governor, on How to Respond to Sexual Harassment Allegations
MSN – Josh Dawsey and Sarah Ellison (Washington Post) | Published: 5/20/2021

CNN anchor Chris Cuomo advised his brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and senior members of the governor’s staff on how to respond to sexual harassment allegations made earlier this year by women who had worked with the governor. The calls occurred earlier this year, when a growing number of claims that Andrew Cuomo made inappropriate comments or touched women without their permission had escalated into a political crisis for the governor. The behind-the-scenes strategy offered by Chris Cuomo cuts against the widely accepted norm in journalism that those reporting the news should not be involved in politics.

New York Prosecutor in Trump Criminal Probe Convenes Grand Jury to Hear Evidence, Weigh Potential Charges
Seattle Times – Shayna Jacobs and David Fahrenthold (Washington Post) | Published: 5/25/2021

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. convened the grand jury that is expected to decide whether to indict former President Trump, other executives at his company, or the business itself, should prosecutors present the panel with criminal charges. The move indicates the investigation of the former president and his business has reached an advanced stage after more than two years. It also suggests Vance thinks he has found evidence of a crime — if not by Trump, by someone potentially close to him or by his company.  Separately, New York Attorney General Letitia James began a civil investigation of the Trump Organization in 2019.

New York Senate Democrats Shape Debate on Ethics Commission
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 5/25/2021

The state Senate passed legislation to reform the New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE). One bill removes partisan advantages built into the JCOPE appointment process, giving the legislative leaders of each conference two appointments. It would also remove the requirement that state officials can be investigated or found guilty of ethical violations only with the votes of at least two members of their own political party. They now would just need a vote of any eight members of JCOPE. Another bill would impose anti-sexual harassment training for lobbyists in Albany.

North Dakota North Dakota Ethics Commission Advances $10 Food/Drink Limit
Bismarck Tribune – Jack Dura | Published: 5/26/2021

The North Dakota Ethics Commission is eyeing a limited food and drink exception in its gift rules for state government. The panel advanced the proposal for public comment through July 9. The rule is for a $10 limit on food and beverages purchased for public officials, who include state elected officials and lawmakers. A lobbyist gift ban took effect this year, prohibiting trinkets as nominal as cups and stress balls.

Ohio Will the Ohio House Move on Resolutions to Expel Former Speaker Larry Householder?
MSN – Anna Staver and Jessie Balmert (Columbus Dispatch) | Published: 5/26/2021

The big question circling the Ohio Capitol was whether the House would act on two resolutions to expel their former speaker, Larry Householder. Democratic and Republican lawmakers each introduced resolutions to vote Householder out of office for his alleged involvement in a $61 million bribery scheme to bail out two nuclear power plants. The House too away his speaker’s gavel a few weeks after his arrest, but the chamber has not voted on whether to expel him from office. Householder won re-election in November with more than 70 percent of the vote.

Pennsylvania Lawmakers Report Receiving Fewer Gifts During Pandemic as Push for Ban Continues
Spotlight PA – Angela Couloumbis | Published: 5/21/2021

Every May, legislators and other public officials in Pennsylvania are required to file reports detailing, among other items, whether they received pricey gifts, transportation, or hospitality from lobbyists, businesses, or others with a stake in government. For many lawmakers, 2020 was a banner year for staying home and eschewing people bearing gifts, according to their disclosure forms. The few gifts of note came largely before the first cases of COVID-19 were reported in March. Still, the push to ban elected officials from accepting gifts and other perks continues in the Legislature, despite past efforts that have largely been met with indifference.

Tennessee Casada Linked to Phoenix Solutions Ownership
Tennessee Lookout – Sam Stockard | Published: 5/24/2021

The FBI is investigating whether former Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada was owner of a shadowy vendor that did work for several Republicans and netted $231,000 from the House Republican Caucus, according to statements to a lawmaker. FBI agents searched the home of Cade Cothren, the former chief of staff for Casada who was fired two years ago in a texting scandal. Lawmakers who used Phoenix Solutions reportedly said they were told by Cothren or Rep. Robin Smith to make payments for work to Phoenix Solutions, a New Mexico-based company organized by Matthew Phoenix, who has disappeared since the FBI investigation took place and media started asking questions.

Texas House Bill to Punish Lobbyists Accused of Harassment Gutted in Senate Committee
Dallas Morning News – Lauren McGaughy | Published: 5/20/2021

Texas senators amended a bill meant to punish lobbyists accused of sexual harassment, removing key enforcement and penalties the House wanted. But lawmakers hope to find a compromise in the waning days of the legislative session to ensure lobbyists will be included in anti-sexual harassment efforts going forward, after an alleged drugging incident roiled the Capitol earlier this session.

Washington How Auto Dealers Lobbyist Wrote an Exemption into Washington’s New Capital Gains Tax Law
Seattle Times – Jim Brunner | Published: 5/21/2021

Behind the scenes, the lobbyist for the Washington State Auto Dealers Association secured a special carve-out from the capital gains tax that many other Washington business owners may soon owe if they sell their companies. By the time the bill passed a key Senate committee, it included a provision exempting the “goodwill” portion of auto dealerships’ value, the amount attributed to brand and name recognition and community reputation. The exemption’s wording was virtually identical to language suggested by the auto dealers’ lobbyist, Scott Hazlegrove, in emails to the bill’s chief sponsor.

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