News You Can Use Digest - November 12, 2021 - State and Federal Communications

November 12, 2021  •  

News You Can Use Digest – November 12, 2021


Big Bird Got ‘Vaccinated’ Against COVID-19, Drawing Outrage from Republicans
National Public Radio – Rachel Treisman | Published: 11/8/2021

Big Bird ruffled some feathers when he tweeted that he was vaccinated against COVID-19, which is now available for children between the ages of five and 11. The Muppet has been a fixture of children’s television since 1969 but is officially six years old. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz decried the character’s tweet as “government propaganda.” Others denounced Big Bird as a puppet (literally) and communist. Many noted the irony of the criticism, given Big Bird is both a fictional character and one known for spreading messages of kindness and curiosity.

Clash With Corruption Watchdog Has Boris Johnson Retreating, Again
New York Times – Stephen Castle | Published: 11/4/2021

United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson intervened to stop the suspension from Parliament of Owen Paterson, a fellow Conservative Party lawmaker found to have broken rules on lobbying. The government also pushed through contentious plans to change the system that investigated Paterson, who resigned following a backlash from politicians, news organizations, and others. Some neutral observers think that Mr. Johnson walked into a minefield of his own making.

Donors Threatened to Shun the GOP After Jan. 6. Now, Republicans Are Outraising Democrats.
MSN – Josh Dawsey, Isaac Stanley-Becker, and Michael Scherer (Washington Post) | Published: 11/9/2021

One day after rioters ransacked the Capitol in a bid to overturn the 2020 election, Republican lobbyist Geoff Verhoff sent an email to top GOP officials. Verhoff, a bundler who works at the lobbying firm Akin Gump, wrote he was resigning as co-chair of the Republican National Committee’s finance committee because he could no longer associate himself with Donald Trump and his movement. But when Trump spoke to some of the party’s top donors recently, Verhoff was one of the attendees. He has also recently given sizable sums to Republican candidates, including members who voted to overturn the results of the election.

FEC Eases Federal Contractors-Turned-Political Donors’ Path
Bloomberg Government – Kenneth Doyle | Published: 11/5/2021

The first $100,000 contribution to a pro-Donald Trump super PAC by an affiliate of the corrections company GEO Group came in 2016, a day after the Obama administration announced it would end federal use of private prisons. GEO’s stock price dropped but shot back up when Trump reversed the policy. Since then, affiliates of GEO have contributed over $2 million to Republican super PASCs. GEO’s contributions violated a decades-old ban on campaign money from government contractors, the Campaign Legal Center complained. But in a move that could have a wide impact on other contractors, the FEC dismissed the complaint.

GOP Lobbyists Say Corporate America Is Coming Back into the Tent
Yahoo News – Hailey Fuchs (Politico) | Published: 11/8/2021

Republican lawmakers appear more likely to take back Congress in 2022 and corporate America is taking notice. A host of Republican lobbyists say the elections in Virginia and New Jersey have ignited interest from their corporate clients on making inroads with GOP officials on Capitol Hill. They also suspect cash will soon start flowing from corporate PACs to their party’s lawmakers. Corporate America’s potential embrace of the congressional GOP is notable for what preceded it.

GOP-Appointed Judges Freeze Biden Vaccine Requirement After Federal Lawsuit
MSN – Eli Rosenberg (Washington Post) | Published: 11/6/2021

A federal appeals court suspended the Biden administration’s new vaccine requirement for private companies, delivering a major blow for one of the White House’s key attempts to increase the number of vaccinations to corral the pandemic. The decision was issued by a panel of three judges appointed by Republican presidents in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The judges wrote there was “cause to believe there are grave statutory and constitutional issues with the mandate,” staying the order while the court assesses it.

House Jan. 6 Committee Issues Subpoenas to 6 Top Trump Advisers, Including Pair Involved in Willard Hotel ‘Command Center’
MSN – Jacqueline Alemany, Tom Hamburger, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 11/8/2021

The U.S. House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection issued subpoenas to six top advisers to former President Trump, including two who were active in the Willard Hotel “command center” where Trump’s loyal backers oversaw efforts in January to overturn the 2020 election. Those actions included blocking or delaying the counting of electoral votes from battleground states where results were in dispute. Those states became the focus of the effort inside the hotel command center to find evidence of fraud that might compel state legislators to challenge Biden’s victory.

Igor Danchenko Arrested, Charged with Lying to FBI About Information in Steele Dossier
MSN – Devlin Barrett and Tom Jackman (Washington Post) | Published: 11/4/2021

An analyst who was a primary source for a 2016 dossier of allegations against Donald Trump has been arrested on charges he repeatedly lied to the FBI about where and how he got his information. Igor Danchenko’s role in providing information to British ex-spy Christopher Steele, who compiled the accusations about Trump in a series of reports, has been a subject of scrutiny from internal Department of Justice investigators and special counsel John Durham. A 2019 report by the Justice Department inspector general found major problems with the accuracy of Danchenko’s information.

Pelosi Calls for Investigations of Gosar’s Video That Depicts Him Killing Ocasio-Cortez
MSN – Felicia Sonmez and John Wagner (Washington Post) | Published: 11/9/2021

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for multiple investigations into the posting of an animated video by U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar that depicts him killing U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and swinging two swords at President Biden. Gosar has long drawn criticism for his extremist views, including his spreading of conspiracy theories about the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob and the deadly white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville in 2017. In February, he appeared at an event whose organizer called for white supremacy.

Pharmaceutical Industry Likely to Shatter Its Lobbying Record as It Works to Shape Democrats’ Spending Bill
MSN – Yeganeh Torbati and Jonathan O’Connell (Washington Post) | Published: 11/5/2021

Ads targeting lawmakers who supported allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices were one strand of a massive, months-long advertising, lobbying and political donation campaign undertaken by the pharmaceutical industry and its allies, perhaps the strongest of all corporate voices on Capitol Hill, to defeat a Democratic proposal to lower the cost of prescription drugs. The measure was in, then out, then watered down, going through a fierce ping-pong of backroom negotiations that is likely to continue once the Senate considers the bill in coming weeks.

Probe Finds Trump Officials Repeatedly Violated Hatch Act
MSN – Jill Colvin (Associated Press) | Published: 11/10/2021

At least 13 former Trump administration officials, including Jared Kushner and Mike Pompeo, violated the law by intermingling campaigning with their official government duties, according to a federal investigation. The report from the Office of Special Counsel says the officials broke the law without consequence and with the administration’s approval as part of a “willful disregard for the Hatch Act,” which prohibits government officials from using their official roles to influence elections, including supporting candidates while acting in their official capacities.

They Raised Millions for Trump. Spent Barely Any of It on Him. Now They’re Indicted.
Yahoo News – Caitlin Oprisko (Politico) | Published: 11/10/2021

Federal prosecutors charged Matt Tunstall and Robert Reyes with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and to lie to the FEC. Prosecutors allege that of the roughly $3.5 million raised by the PACs they ran during the 2016 election, “only approximately $19 were distributed to any candidate’s authorized campaign committee or to any political cause, while a total of more than $1.5 million was used to benefit” the PAC operators. “Scam PACs” have proliferated over the last decade. The FBI has urged would-be donors to be on the lookout for such schemes.

Trump Loses Bid to Keep Jan. 6 Records from House Committee Investigating Riot
NBC News – Pete Williams | Published: 11/9/2021

A federal judge sided with the congressional committee investigating the January 6 insurrection by refusing to block the release of scores of White House documents from the Trump administration. The ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan means the first batch of disputed documents is set to be turned over to the House select committee. Lawyers for Donald Trump filed an appeal. President Biden has said executive privilege should not be invoked to block the select committee’s document requests.

USC Gave Rep. Karen Bass a Full Scholarship Worth $95,000 While She Served in Congress
MSN – Dakota Smith and Matt Hamilton (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 11/10/2021

U.S. Rep. Karen Bass received approval from the House ethics committee to accept a scholarship worth $95,000 from the University of Southern California (USC) School of Social Work. Bass said the program increased her understanding of child welfare policy. Now, USC’s efforts to connect with local politicians have become the subject of scrutiny. Bass was offered the scholarship by Marilyn Flynn, then the dean of USC’s social work school. Flynn was indicted for allegedly giving the son of then-Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas a scholarship and job in return for USC being awarded government contracts.

Voting Technology Firm Smartmatic Sues Newsmax and One America News, Alleging Defamation
MSN – Annabelle Timsit (Washington Post) | Published: 11/4/2021

The voting technology firm Smartmatic filed lawsuits against Newsmax and the parent company of One America News, alleging the right-wing outlets knowingly spread disinformation during the 2020 U.S. presidential election and defamed the company by telling viewers, without evidence, that its technology was used to steal votes from then-President Trump. The lawsuits are the latest chapter in a legal battle that has pitted firms that sell electronic voting machines and software in the U.S. against Trump-friendly news outlets.

From the States and Municipalities

Arizona Arizona Board with Close Ties to Landlord Group Oversees Constables Who Serve Eviction Writs
Yahoo News – Jessica Boehm, Catherine Reagor, and Ralph Chapoco (Arizona Republic) | Published: 11/8/2021

When renters are evicted, constables deliver the court orders – sought by landlords – that demand the tenants move out. But the board that trains and disciplines Arizona’s elected constables has close ties to the most powerful landlord group in the state. The relationship drew new scrutiny during the COVID-19 pandemic, when constables played an even more important role in the eviction process, sometimes deciding whether tenants qualified for eviction moratoriums.

California SoCal Public Officials Targeted in Broadening Federal Investigation into Pot Licensing
MSN – Ruben Vives and Robert Lopez (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 11/7/2021

A federal grand jury issued subpoenas seeking information about cash and other payments to public officials and cannabis consultants as part of a criminal investigation into pot licensing in Baldwin Park and nearby cities in California. Federal authorities, including agents from the FBI and IRS, have been interviewing witnesses and are seeking a wide range of records regarding Baldwin Park city officials who approved cannabis licenses and consultants who helped businesses obtain the permits.

Colorado Denver’s Top Parking Enforcer ‘Fixed’ 21 of His Own Tickets
KESQ – Brian Maas | Published: 11/5/2021

Denver’s Director of Right of Way Enforcement, Jonathan Featherston, received 21 parking citations on his personal car in 2020 and 2021. He ordered every one of the citations canceled, with Featherston now explaining he received the tickets while he was engaging in a secret “mystery shop” campaign to test how well parking agents were doing in handing out parking tickets. The curious practice came to light when a whistleblower noticed what Featherston was doing and filed a complaint with the city Board of Ethics, suggesting Featherston was engaged in “questionable ethical conduct,” using his public position for private gain.

Colorado State Files Lawsuit Over Peters Campaign Fundraising
Grand Junction Daily Sentinel – Charles Ashby | Published: 11/8/2021

The Colorado attorney general’s office filed a lawsuit against Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters over her fundraising efforts and failure to report contributions and expenses for nearly three years. The lawsuit says Peters clearly is running for re-election next year, and is soliciting donations, but has not filed a campaign finance report since terminating her previous account in January 2019, a few months after she was first elected to office.

Florida J.T. Burnette Gets 3 Years in Federal Prison, $1.25M Fine in City Hall Public Corruption Case
Yahoo News – Jeff Burlew (Tallahassee Democrat) | Published: 11/9/2021

Businessperson J.T. Burnette was sentenced to three years in federal prison and a $1.25 million fine for his role in a corruption scheme. Burnette, a wealthy entrepreneur, was convicted for his role in a long-running City Hall bribery ring involving former city Commissioner Scott Maddox and his accomplice and girlfriend Paige Carter-Smith. Peter Nothstein, deputy director of the Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section, noted Burnette never admitted “what he did was wrong.” He said for Burnette, bribery was just the cost of doing business.

Florida Opa-locka Mayor Abruptly Resigns During Commission Meeting, Citing ‘Corruption’
MSN – Aaron Leibowitz (Miami Herald) | Published: 11/10/2021

Opa-locka Mayor Matthew Pigatt abruptly announced his resignation during a city commission meeting, marking the latest twist of fate for a city trying to overcome years of corruption and political chaos. Following a public comment period, he rose from his seat at the dais to deliver a prepared statement. Pigatt’s resignation was not on the agenda. Pigatt won a commission seat in 2016, pledging reform and transparency amid an FBI corruption probe at City Hall and state oversight of the city’s finances. He became mayor in 2018 on a similar platform.

Florida Professors Sue University of Florida, Claiming Free Speech Restraints
MSN – Lori Rozsa and Susan Svrluga (Washington Post) | Published: 11/6/2021

Three professors filed a lawsuit against the University of Florida, claiming school officials violated their right to free speech by trying to prevent them from offering testimony in a voting rights case. The case further inflames a heated debate over academic freedom, one that has brought national attention and criticism to the state’s flagship university. It was filed on the same day school officials reversed course and said the three political science professors should not be barred from testifying in a voting rights lawsuit against the administration of Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Indiana Ex-Indiana House Speaker Bosma Registers as Paid Lobbyist
Yahoo News – Associated Press | Published: 11/8/2021

Former Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma registered as a paid statehouse lobbyist a little more than a year after he left elected office. Bosma is working with 1816 Public Affairs Group, a lobbying firm headed by Michael O’Brien, who was Gov. Eric Holcomb’s 2016 campaign manager. Bosma said he joined the firm last year as a consultant and carefully followed the state’s one-year ban before a former lawmaker can legally deal directly with old colleagues on legislative business.

Maine Foreign Company’s Subsidiary Poured Millions into Influencing Maine Ballot Referendum
Center for Responsive Politics – Anna Massoglia | Published: 11/9/2021

A Maine ballot referendum to halt the construction of a $1 billion cross-border corridor of electric transmission lines from Canada attracted more than $89 million in funds through ballot campaigns. Top donors pouring $63 million into opposing the referendum included HQ Energy Services, the U.S. affiliate of Hydro Quebec. The Canadian company’s role sparked debate about whether companies with foreign government ownership should be allowed to spend on ballot referendums. The FEC ruled foreign donors can finance U.S. ballot measure committees under federal campaign finance law.

Michigan Detroit Police Chief Looks to Computer Software to Root Out Towing Corruption
Yahoo News – Christine MacDonald (Detroit Free Press) | Published: 11/10/2021

The Detroit Police Department announced new measures aimed at clamping down on corruption in vehicle towing, an area at the center of an ongoing federal public corruption investigation. Police Chief James White said the department wants to buy computer software that will divvy up jobs to tow companies, taking the “human element” out of the process and reducing the chances someone could steer work to a favored outlet. He said the department also will launch an investigative unit staffed by civilians to ensure towing rules are followed.

Missouri Firefighters Union Chief Collects City Salary While Working Other Full-Time Job in DC
MSN – Mike Hendricks (Kansas City Star) | Published: 11/10/2021

Kansas City Manager Brian Platt signed a previously undisclosed agreement last summer allowing the fire captain who then headed the local firefighters’ union to remain on the city payroll and collect his $86,000 a year salary while working full time in Washington, D.C. The unprecedented arrangement also exempts Tim Dupin from the city’s residency rules while earning more than $150,000 annually from his new job as the International Association of Fire Fighters’ director of political action at the union’s Washington headquarters.

Missouri PACs Tied to Missouri Lobbyist Scramble to Account for Funds
Yahoo News – Jason Hancock (Missouri Independent) | Published: 11/10/2021

A pair of PACs connected to a Missouri lobbyist under FBI scrutiny have begun taking steps to account for nearly $170,000 in cash that went unreported on disclosures to the state Ethics Commission. The discrepancies with PACs connected to Steve Tilley, a former state lawmaker and longtime adviser to Gov. Mike Parson, were first documented by The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. It found the PACs reported cash balances in early 2021 that were significantly lower than the total reported at the end of 2020 without any corresponding spending to explain the decrease.

New Jersey Surprise NJ Senate Winner Says Sorry Amid Scrutiny of Posts
Yahoo News – Associated Press | Published: 11/5/2021

A truck driver who ousted the powerful New Jersey Senate president in the election previously posted online calling Islam “a false religion,” comparing vaccine mandates to the Holocaust, and defending rioters at the U.S. Capitol. Republican Edward Durr apologized after media outlets highlighted the posts. His victory over Steve Sweeney, widely regarded as the second-most powerful Democrat in state government, in the November 2 shocked the state’s political establishment. Durr spent a paltry sum on his campaign.

New Jersey ‘This Sentence Will Go on Forever’: Morristown lawyer gets probation in corruption case
Morristown Green – Kevin Coughlin | Published: 11/6/2021

A lawyer who pled guilty to records tampering to secure municipal contracts avoided prison, receiving three years’ probation and community service. Elizabeth Valandingham was charged in connection with a state political corruption investigation that centered on her boss, attorney Matt O’Donnell. He pled guilty to corporate misconduct and conspiracy to tamper with records. Between 2013 and 2017, authorities charged, Valandingham helped secure at least $600,000 in legal work for O’Donnell’s now-shuttered firm by falsely representing to Mt. Arlington and Bloomfield officials, and to the state Election Law Enforcement Commission, that the firm had made no political contributions in those towns.

New York De Blasio Defends Leaving $300K Legal Bill Unpaid
Politico – Erin Durkin | Published: 11/10/2021

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio does not plan to dip into his own pocket to pay any of the $300,000 in outstanding legal bills he owes from a corruption investigation, saying he will rely on donors to pay the tab. De Blasio has owed the money to the law firm Kramer, Levin, Naftalis and Frankel since 2017, after lawyers there represented him in a probe into whether the mayor and his aides did special favors for campaign donors. The outstanding debt has raised conflict-of-interest concerns since the firm represents many clients with business before the city.

New York Millions in Secret Ballot Spending Raises Legal Question
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 11/4/2021

The public had no know way to immediately know who had funded the multi-million-dollar campaign by the state Conservative Party against three proposed constitutional amendments in New York, including attack ads. The origin of the funding may not be known until January because the ads were paid for by a political spending vehicle that critics have long derided as a major loophole in the law. Both the Conservative Party and Senate Democrats maintain the practice was legal, though the language of state law is not clear on the subject.

Ohio Ohio Medicaid: It’s not a conflict if you only own stock in the parent company
Ohio Capital Journal – Marty Schladen | Published: 11/9/2021

Ohio Medicaid Director Maureen Corcoran did not have a conflict-of-interest when she signed multi-billion-dollar contracts earlier this year, her department’s attorneys are arguing. That is because she only owns stock in parent corporations, not their Ohio subsidiaries to whom she awarded contracts. The department made the argument in a court case in which a disappointed bidder is trying to overturn a process that resulted in the award of $22 billion worth of managed-care business to six corporations.

Ohio Ohio Utility Regulator Lobbied for Legislation to Save FirstEnergy Millions, Texts Show
Ohio Capital Journal – Jake Zuckerman | Published: 11/9/2021

Ohio’s top utility regulator quietly lobbied lawmakers to include a provision in the state budget that saved tens of millions for FirstEnergy Corp., text messages from company executives show. FirstEnergy admitted in court it paid Sam Randazzo more than $4.3 million in the weeks before Gov. Mike DeWine appointed him in February 2019 as chairperson of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, which regulates power companies. The texts suggest Randazzo helped convince lawmakers to slip into the 2019 budget a few sentences worth millions of dollars to FirstEnergy.

Pennsylvania Pa. Lobbyists Disclose Some Financial Interests for First Time But Details Are ‘Very Nebulous’
Lancaster Online – Sam Janesch (The Caucus) | Published: 11/10/2021

Lobbyists and principals in Pennsylvania are now required to disclose their financial interests in companies for which they advocate. The disclosures are billed as a step toward transparency. But their format is haphazard and, arguably, useless, according to an analysis and interviews with advocates and others who have reviewed the filings. Amid a narrow reporting period and few guidelines, lobbyists interpreted the new requirement in a variety of ways. There are more than 1,230 registered lobbyists and firms in the state. More than 130 of them disclosed equity in their clients.

Texas Dallas Real Estate Developer Ruel Hamilton Sentenced To 8 Years in Prison For Bribing 2 Former City Council Members
MSN – Staff | Published: 11/9/2021

A real estate developer was sentenced to eight years in federal prison for bribing two former Dallas City Council members. Ruel Hamilton was also ordered to pay a $150,000 fine. From 2013 to 2015, Hamilton shelled out tens of thousands of dollars in bribes to Carolyn Davis, who was then serving as chairperson of the council’s Housing Committee. In return, Davis, who pleaded guilty to her role in the scheme prior to her death in 2019, supported Hamilton’s housing project. To disguise the bribe payments, Hamilton funneled payments to Davis through a not-for-profit intermediary.

Virginia Va. Senate Democrats Ask State Supreme Court to Disqualify Republicans’ Nominated Map Drawers
MSN – Meagan Flynn and Teo Armus (Washington Post) | Published: 11/8/2021

The Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus asked the state Supreme Court to disqualify all three nominees tapped by Republican leadership to help it draw the state’s new congressional and legislative maps, calling them “political operatives” with conflicts-of-interest. The state Supreme Court is redrawing the maps after the bipartisan Virginia Redistricting Commission, approved by voters in a constitutional amendment last year, did not reach agreement on new congressional and General Assembly districts.

Virginia White Supremacists Find a New Platform to Spread Hate: A federal courtroom in Charlottesville
MSN – Ellie Silverman (Washington Post) | Published: 11/10/2021

White supremacists are weaponizing the federal civil trial about the deadly 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville into a spiteful stage. Some of the defendants have been ousted from social media such as Facebook but in this courtroom, they have found a new platform to amplify their racist views, put on performances they boast about on podcasts, radio shows, and in live during-the-trial chats, and to attack their opponents. The defendants are some of the most notorious white supremacists and hate groups in the country, and the plaintiffs allege they engaged in a conspiracy to commit racially motivated violence.

Washington PDC: ‘Washougal Moms’ must register as political action committee
The Columbian – Doug Flanagan (Camas-Washougal Post-Record) | Published: 11/5/2021

The Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) has called out the Washougal Moms group for failing to register as a PAC. In a formal warning, the PDC said the organization had also failed to identify its financial sponsors and had not reported required financial contributions and expenditures. Formed in May to defend three mothers accused of disrupting a Washougal School Board meeting, the group has since hosted a “tribunal” to elect a shadow school board, posted opposition to at least one school board incumbent running for reelection, and called for current school board officials to be removed and arrested.

Washington DC A D.C. Elected Official, Who Holds Office While Incarcerated, Was Almost Moved to Pennsylvania Prison
MSN – Julie Zauzmer Weil (Washington Post) | Published: 11/9/2021

Political leaders in the District of Columbia successfully scrambled to prevent an elected official who holds his position while incarcerated in the city jail from being transferred to a federal prison more than 100 miles outside Washington. Joel Castón’s narrowly averted transfer to a federal prison in Pennsylvania underscores the situation of hundreds of city inmates who are being transferred far from their families and communities. By staying in the city, Castón says, he will be able to keep fulfilling the duties of his office: representing those inmates who will be transferred, his constituents.

Washington DC As Bowser Launches Reelection Bid, Her High-Profile Appointee Is Under Fire
MSN – Paul Schwartzman (Washington Post) | Published: 11/6/2021

Neil Albert abruptly resigned recently as chairperson of the District of Columbia Housing Authority Board of Commissioners. His exit followed a published report that he failed to reveal he was in a relationship with Paola Moya before approving her architectural firm for lucrative authority contracts. Federal prosecutors served the authority with a criminal subpoena, seeking documents related to Albert, Moya, and her firm. In addition, members of the city council asked the inspector general to conduct a broad investigation into what they called “a pattern of misconduct” at the agency.

Washington DC Judge Lets Claim Against Trump’s Inaugural Committee and Private Business Move Forward
Yahoo News – Myah Ward (Politico) | Published: 11/8/2021

The lawsuit against former President Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee and his private business could potentially go to trial after a judge allowed some of the local attorney general’s claims to move forward. The lawsuit filed by District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine alleges the Trump International Hotel in Washington illegally received more than $1 million by charging the Presidential Inaugural Committee inflated prices to use ballrooms and other event spaces, violating the city’s laws governing nonprofit organizations.

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