News You Can Use Digest - November 18, 2022 - State and Federal Communications

November 18, 2022  •  

News You Can Use Digest – November 18, 2022


Conservative Group Pressing States to Adopt Laws Protecting Companies from ‘Political Boycotts’: Report
Yahoo News – Jared Gans (The Hill) | Published: 11/11/2022

A conservative group is planning to push state lawmakers across the country to adopt legislation to shield American companies from “political boycotts.” It was reported that the American Legislative Exchange Council will lobby legislators to back its proposal at its States and Nation Policy Summit. The plan would require all government entities to include a clause in their contracts with businesses that they will promise to not “engage in economic boycotts.” The move comes amid strong Republican pushback to financial institutions seeking to distance themselves from industries such as fossil fuels.

Departing Lawmakers Are Lining Up Cushy Lobbying Gigs
MSN – Hailey Fuchs (Politico) | Published: 11/17/2022

Departing lawmakers are cashing in on their public service in Washington, D.C. by securing high-paying jobs on K Street. Former lawmakers are prohibited from directly lobbying their onetime colleagues during a waiting period that lasts one year for House members and two years for senators. But they may begin advising clients – except for foreign entities intending to influence the government – immediately. In that capacity, they can offer guidance on the inner workings of their congressional conference and access to their list of contacts.

DHS Blocked Vital Research on Domestic Threats, Say Terrorism Experts
MSN – Hannah Allam (Washington Post) | Published: 11/15/2022

As attacks rose in 2019, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials pledged to step up their response to domestic terrorism, funding in-depth research that would help them understand the scale of the problem. But that data collection has not begun, and $10 million languishes unused. About 20 research projects faced delays because of rulings by the department’s Privacy Office that deemed them high-risk even after researchers explained the information they intended to use was available to the public. A DHS official said federal agencies are facing criticism by both major parties for their response to political violence.

Documents Show Big Foreign Government Spending at Trump Hotel
MSN – Bernard Condon (Associated Press) | Published: 11/15/2022

The Trump hotel in Washington, D.C. took in more than $750,000 from six foreign governments at sensitive moments in their U.S. relations, with guests spending as much as $10,000 per room a night, according to documents released by a congressional committee. The Trump hotel near the White House, now a Waldorf Astoria, drew criticism from the start of Trump’s presidency for taking money from Republican politicians, companies, and foreign governments eager to curry favor with him.

FEC Targets Digital Ad Disclosure
Axios – Lachlan Markey | Published: 11/10/2022

The FEC is taking a significant step towards regulating digital political ads, taking up a measure to force disclosure of paid advertising on leading social and streaming platforms. The proposed regulation would require digital ads to disclose the entity paying for them. It would also expand the types of digital ads subject to the regulations, not just traditional banner ads or videos, but also paid social media endorsements and “influencer marketing” efforts.

Feds End Ukraine-Related Foreign Lobbying Investigation into Rudy Giuliani Without Filing Charges
MSN – Kara Scannell (CNN) | Published: 11/14/2022

Federal prosecutors investigating Rudy Giuliani’s activities in Ukraine closed their probe and said no criminal charges will be brought. Prosecutors have been investigating Giuliani, the onetime personal attorney to former President Trump, for possible violations of foreign lobbying laws since early 2019. Prosecutors had examined whether Giuliani operated on behalf of Ukrainian officials when he sought the ouster of the then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, while urging Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

Judge Fines Trump Lawyers in Clinton Case Thrown Out in September
MSN – Azi Paybarah (Washington Post) | Published: 11/11/2022

A federal judge fined lawyers for former President Trump more than $66,000 and admonished them for filing frivolous and baseless claims in Trump’s defamation case against Hillary Clinton and her allies stemming from the 2016 presidential election. The fines include a $50,000 sanction to the court and an additional $16,274.23 payment to one of the 29 defendants in the case for expenses incurred as a result of the suit, which the judge dismissed in September.

McConnell Reelected Senate GOP Leader: ‘Not going anywhere’
Yahoo News – Lisa Mascaro, Brian Slodysko, and Mary Clare Jalonick (Associated Press) | Published: 11/16/2022

Sen. Mitch McConnell was reelected as Republican leader, quashing a challenge from Sen. Rick Scott after a disappointing performance in the midterm elections that kept Democrats in control. The unrest in the Senate GOP is similar to the uproar among House Republicans in the aftermath of the midterm elections that left the party split over Donald Trump’s hold on the party. The challenge by Scott, who was urged by Trump to confront McConnell, escalated a feud between Scott, who led the Senate Republican’s campaign arm this year, and McConnell over the party’s approach to try to reclaim the majority.

Questions About Donald Trump’s Campaign Money, Answered
MSN – Fredreka Schouten (CNN) | Published: 11/15/2022

With his formal announcement of a third presidential bid, Donald Trump now will face new limits on raising and spending money ahead of the 2024 election. But election lawyers and campaign finance experts said loopholes in federal election rules, and lax enforcement by federal regulators of existing laws, still offer Trump several potential routes to capitalize on the massive fundraising operation he and his aides have built since his 2020 loss.

Republicans Narrowly Win House, Ending Full Democratic Control of Congress
MSN – Hannah Knowles, Marianna Sotomayor, and Colby Itkowitz (Washington Post) | Published: 11/16/2022

Republicans were projected to win back control of the U.S. House with a narrow majority, dealing a blow to President Biden and his agenda even as Democrats defied predictions of a rout to limit the GOP’s power. Republicans sought to harness dismay at inflation, crime, and the direction of the country. Their gains fell far short of the red wave they once envisioned, as Democrats countered with campaigns centered on abortion rights and fighting Republican extremism. The GOP gains the ability to launch investigations and block legislation.

They Rallied in D.C. on Jan. 6. Now They’ll Join Congress.
MSN – Michael Kranish (Washington Post) | Published: 11/14/2022

While the Republican Party suffered surprising losses in the midterms, including defeats of many who bought into Donald Trump’s false election claims, the arrival of freshman lawmakers in Congress who had come to Washington as pro-Trump activists on January 6, 2021, underscores the extent to which the House Republican caucus remains a haven for election deniers. At least 150 election deniers were projected to win House races, compared with the 139 who voted against certifying President Biden’s election.

Trump Wanted IRS Investigations of Foes, Top Aide Says
Yahoo News – Michael Schmidt (New York Times) | Published: 11/14/2022

While in office, former President Trump repeatedly told John Kelly, his White House chief of staff, that he wanted a number of his perceived political enemies to be investigated by the IRS, Kelly said. Kelly said Trump’s demands were part of a broader pattern of him trying to use the Justice Department and his authority as president against people who had been critical of him. Kelly said he made clear to Trump there were serious legal and ethical issues with what he wanted.

Trump, Who as President Fomented an Insurrection, Says He Is Running Again
MSN – Isaac Arnsdorf (Washington Post) | Published: 11/15/2022

Donald Trump, who refused to concede defeat and inspired a failed attempt to overturn the 2020 election culminating in a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol, officially declared he is running to retake the White House in 2024. The announcement came in a moment of political vulnerability for Trump as voters rejected his endorsed candidates in the midterm elections. Since then, elected Republicans have blamed Trump for the party’s performance and potential rivals are already plotting to challenge him for the nomination.

Two Anonymous $425 Million Donations Give Dark Money Conservative Group a Massive Haul
MSN – Hailey Fuchs (Politico) | Published: 11/16/2022

One of the biggest conservative “dark money” organizations in the nation was boosted last year by two separate anonymous gifts, each totaling more than $425 million dollars. The money was sent to DonorsTrust, a 501(c)(3) charity that has become one of the most influential conduit of funds in Republican-leaning circles. They are among the largest ever donations to a politically connected group. Under law, the individual or individuals behind those $425 million donations were not required to be disclosed to the public. DonorsTrust did not reveal them.

U.S. Intelligence Report Says Key Gulf Ally Meddled in American Politics
MSN – John Howard (Washington Post) | Published: 11/12/2022

A classified report outlines legal and illegal efforts by United Arab Emirates (UAE) to steer U.S. foreign policy in ways favorable to the country. It reveals the UAE’s bid, spanning multiple administrations, to exploit the vulnerabilities in American governance, including its reliance on campaign contributions, susceptibility to powerful lobbying firms, and lax enforcement of disclosure laws intended to guard against interference by foreign governments. The intelligence community’s scrutiny of the UAE indicates a heightened level of concern and a departure from the laudatory way the country is discussed in public by U.S. officials.

From the States and Municipalities

Arizona Katie Hobbs Elected Arizona Governor, Defeating Trump-Backed Election Denier Kari Lake
MSN – Stacey Barchenger (Arizona Republic) | Published: 11/14/2022

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, built a national profile by standing up to false claims about the 2020 presidential election, won the state’s gubernatorial election. With her win, Arizonans followed voters in other battleground states who rejected gubernatorial candidates who pushed false claims about election results. Hobbs will be the fifth female to hold the top elected office in Arizona, more than in any other state.

Arizona Supreme Court Turns Down Arizona GOP Head’s Request to Shield Records
MSN – Robert Barnes (Washington Post) | Published: 11/14/2022

The U.S. Supreme Court turned down a request from Arizona Republican Party Chairperson Keli Ward to shield her phone records from the congressional committee investigating the assault on the Capitol. A divided three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit had said it was proper for the committee to issue a subpoena seeking information about calls placed from Ward’s cellphone between November 2020 and January 202. Ward argued that would violate her First Amendment right to freedom of association.

California Anaheim and Its Ex-Mayor Won’t Disclose His Emails and Texts, So We Took Them to Court
MSN – Gabriel San Román (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 11/16/2022

The Los Angeles Times asked a judge to compel the city of Anaheim and former Mayor Harry Sidhu to disclose records related to an FBI corruption investigation into a self-described “cabal” that allegedly ran the city. The Times is also seeking records of other city business, including any messages related to negotiations surrounding the aborted Angel Stadium sale, which collapsed after the probe became public. Sidhu, who resigned while under criminal investigation, has refused to turn over emails and text messages from personal accounts he used to conduct city business.

California Capt. Hollywood: Who is the ex-LAPD commander who tipped off CBS to assault claim?
MSN – Richard Winton and Meg James (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 11/13/2022

Known around the Los Angeles Police Department as “Capt. Hollywood,” Cory Palka played the part. He was a regular at Hollywood Boulevard star dedication ceremonies and picked up a lucrative off-duty assignment as a bodyguard for CBS’ former chief, Leslie Moonves. His actions now are under scrutiny after it was revealed that five years ago, Palka tipped off CBS executives to the existence of a confidential complaint alleging Moonves sexually assaulted a co-worker. Palka, then captain of the Hollywood station, worked closely with CBS to contain the allegations.

California Jury Finds L.A. Skyscraper Developer Paid Jose Huizar More Than $1 Million in Bribes
MSN – Michael Finnegan (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 11/10/2022

The development company Shen Zhen New World I was convicted of paying former Los Angeles City Council member Jose Huizar more than $1 million in bribes to win his support for a proposed skyscraper in the city. It was the second conviction of a developer accused of paying off Huizar, who left office in 2020. A federal jury found developer Dae Yong Lee guilty of paying Huizar $500,000 in cash. Huizar is scheduled to go on trial in February. From 2013 to 2018, prosecutors say, he used his city office as an extortion racket to secure more than $1.5 million in illicit payments from developers seeking city approval of projects.

California Karen Bass Elected Mayor, Becoming First Woman to Lead L.A.
MSN – Julia Wick (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 11/16/2022

U.S. Rep. Karen Bass defeated Rick Caruso in the Los Angeles mayor’s race, making her the first woman and second Black Angeleno elected to lead the city. Confidence in local government is seemingly at a nadir after a series of City Hall indictments in recent years, and the release of a leaked audio recording less than a month before the election that revealed top officials making racist comments and scheming to maintain political power. The city’s first competitive mayoral race in nearly a decade was a story of contrasts, with two candidates who symbolized divergent visions of the city.

Georgia Democrats Sue to Allow Saturday Voting in Georgia Runoff Amid Holiday Dispute
MSN – Mattherw Brown (Washington Post) | Published: 11/16/2022

Democrats are suing to force Georgia election officials to allow early voting on a Saturday ahead of the U.S. Senate runoff election on December 6. The suit comes in response to a determination by state officials that the law forbids voting right after Thanksgiving and a state holiday that once honored Robert E. Lee. The lawsuit argues that current guidance “applies only to primary and general elections, not runoffs.” The early voting period is set for November 28 through December 2, a stretch that does not include a weekend day, which voting rights advocates say makes it more difficult for some people to cast ballots.

Hawaii County Ethics Watchdogs Need More Money to Do the Job Right, State Panel Says
Honolulu Civil Beat – Blaze Lovell | Published: 11/11/2022

A commission wants Hawaii’s county ethics watchdogs to have more funding to monitor, and if need be, investigate public officials after a string of public corruption cases put a spotlight on government ethics and transparency. Unlike the Honolulu Ethics Commission, with 11 full-time staff and a total budget over $650,000, the ethics boards for Kauai, Maui, and Hawaii island operate with either no funds or very little to cover travel or food expenses. Staff members are usually limited to a secretary and attorney in the county’s corporation counsel office, both of whom may have other responsibilities outside of helping the all-volunteer ethics board.

Hawaii Hawaii Lawmakers Honored Federal Lobbyist Despite Her Conviction in a Foreign Lobbying Scandal
Honolulu Civil Beat – Nick Grube | Published: 11/14/2022

The Hawaii Senate approved an honorary certificate for businessperson Nickie Lum Davis, lauding her for her “public service and outstanding contributions to her community.” What the certificate did not mention was that Davis pleaded guilty in 2020 to federal charges and was awaiting sentencing in a criminal case. The U.S. Justice Department accused her and others of secretly lobbying the Trump administration on behalf of Chinese and Malaysian interests. Davis has submitted the certificate to a judge to bolster her character and avoid prison.

Illinois Indicted Ald. Carrie Austin ‘Not Medically Fit’ for Trial, Her Lawyers Say Days After She Voted on City Budget
Chicago Sun-Times – Jon Seidel | Published: 11/11/2022

Lawyers for indicted Chicago Ald. Carrie Austin told a judge she is “not medically fit to stand trial” and they will seek to have her prosecution put on hold. Austin is accused of taking home improvement materials as kickbacks from a developer overseeing a $50 million development in her ward. The lawyers said Austin “cannot cooperate fully with counsel or withstand the stress of a trial.” Austin has been attending city council meetings and voting on legislation. Austin was receiving supplemental oxygen while in the council chambers recently.

Illinois Where is Ald. Walter Burnett Jr.’s Missing $300,000 in Campaign Money?
Chicago Sun-Times – Tim Novak and Lauren FitzPatrick | Published: 11/11/2022

Since 1999, Chicago Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. reported investing $375,000 of the $4.2 million in campaign contributions he received from political supporters, but $300,000 of the invested money has disappeared from his campaign finance reports. Burnett has declined to answer reporters’ questions about his campaign reports, which he has frequently amended, some of them as many as five times. the State Board of Elections says it has known for several months that Burnett’s campaign fund stopped reporting what it has done with the invested contributions, which it is required to do under state law.

Kansas Ex-Kansas Democratic Party Officers Disciplined for ‘Unprecedented’ Campaign Finance Errors
MSN – Andrew Bahl (Topeka Capital Journal) | Published: 11/16/2022

The Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission disciplined two former state Democratic Party officers over errors in the group’s campaign finance reports that occurred over a seven-year period. Ethics officials termed the scope of the mistakes, which total over $1.5 million in expenditures and contributions that were misreported, to be “unprecedented.” Between 2009 and 2016, the party had underreported over $500,000 in contributions, as well as $507,000 in unreported expenditures, plus additional assets that were overreported.

Kansas Legislative Veto of Regulations Amendment Fails in Closest Vote of Kansas 2022 Election
MSN – Jason Tidd (Topeka Capital-Journal) | Published: 11/16/2022

Kansas voters appear to have narrowly rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would have created a so-called legislative veto over administrative rules and regulations. Supporters of the amendment viewed it as a way to ensure the legislative branch, which generally delegates regulatory authority, had sufficient checks and balances over the executive branch, which typically promulgates and enforces regulations. Opponents feared the extent to which legislators, who are not typically experts on regulations, could be influenced by lobbyists or political motivations.

Kentucky Lobbyists Who Engage Louisville Officials Must Register with City Under New Ordinance
Yahoo – Billy Kobin (Louisville Courier-Journal) | Published: 11/11/2022

A new ordinance in Louisville requires lobbyists and principles to register if they engage with public officials and file expenditure reports. It sets a $500 limit on gifts from lobbyists to candidates and officials and their families. Lobbyists may pay the cost for an official to attend certain events as long as it does not exceed $300. When he introduced the proposal, Metro Councilperson Bill Hollander said it would fix “a gaping shortfall of our ethics ordinance.”

Louisiana NOPD Investigating Officer Frequently Inside Cantrell’s City-Owned Apartment
MSN – Lee Zurik and Dannah Kirby (WVUE) | Published: 11/9/2022

Surveillance video has led to more questions about how New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell is spending her time and taxpayer dollars. While investigating whether Cantrell was living at a city-owned apartment complex, the video showed she spent many hours inside the apartment, often during the workday, and sometimes stayed overnight. The head of the Metropolitan Crime Commission, Rafael Goyeneche, said that could be a violation of a policy that states city property is for work-related purposes and not personal benefit. The videos also show Cantrell is also spending hours there with one member of her security team.

Maryland Carroll County Commissioners Approve Updated Ethics Rules on Financial Disclosures and Gifts
MSN – Sherry Greenfield (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 11/11/2022

The Board of Carroll County Commissioners approved new provisions in the county’s ethics ordinance to reflect changes in state law regarding gifts and financial disclosures. Commissioners have been discussing since September state law measures enacted by the General Assembly in 2021 that changed ethics law requirements for local governments.

Nevada Democrats Keep Control of the Senate with Win in Nevada
MSN – Hannah Knowles and Liz Goodwin (Washington Post) | Published: 11/13/2022

Democrats retained control of the U.S. Senate, clinching a narrow majority as they showed strength in battleground races in a daunting midterm year that handed President Biden a major victory as he looks to his next two years in office. The final blow to Republican hopes of retaking the chamber came in Nevada, where Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto won reelection, ensuring Democrats a 50th seat, with a runoff election still to come in Georgia that could pad their slim majority.

New Mexico NM Supreme Court Throws Out Couy Griffin’s Appeal
Source New Mexixo – Austin Fisher | Published: 11/15/2022

Former Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin failed to explain to the New Mexico Supreme Court how he would challenge his removal from elected office, so the justices threw out his appeal. A lower court ruling also barred him for life from serving in elected federal and state positions. It was the first time an elected official was unseated by court order as a result of participating in or supporting the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

New York Free Speech of Ex-State Workers Under Scrutiny in APA Case
Albany Times Union – Gwendolyn Craig (Adirondack Explorer) | Published: 11/11/2022

A retired Adirondack Park Agency staff member’s stymied attempt at submitting input this summer during the agency’s open public comment period could lead New York’s Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government to consider the matter and what it could mean for past and present state employees’ participation in solicited feedback.  APA Associate Counsel Sarah Reynolds wrote Linck that his written comments “appear to contain confidential information” and may violate post-employment restrictions. Reynolds said the agency would not consider them and referred Linck to the state ethics commission.

New York Groups Urge State Ethics Watchdog to Probe $5M Cuomo Book Approval, Failed Policies
Spectrum News – Kate Lisa | Published: 11/14/2022

Good-government groups want New York’s new ethics commission to learn from the mistakes of its predecessor, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE), which was disbanded this year. The coalition sent a letter to the Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government, pushing it to revisit the decisions that led to the approval of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $5 million book deal and JCOPE’s policies. In September, the new commission voted to follow precedent from JCOPE when making decisions, pushing watchdogs to file a complaint. In October, the commission voted to continue any pending cases JCOPE did not finish.

New York New York City Football Club Stadium Deal Provides Affordable Housing – and a Win for Lobbyist with Ties to Adams
MSN – Chris Sommerfeldt and Michael Gartland (New York Daily News) | Published: 11/16/2022

A $780 million soccer stadium deal in Queens approved by New York City Mayor Eric Adams was a win for one of his top political advisers, who lobbied City Hall for months on behalf of the project’s developer. Nathan Smith, a political strategist who served as a top aide in Adams’ 2021 mayoral campaign, signed a lobbying contract with City Football Group to lobby the mayor’s team to develop a facility for the New York City Football Club. So far, Smith’s firm, Red Horse Strategies, has been paid $20,000 by the club’s owner.

Ohio Jury Convicts Dover Mayor Richard Homrighausen of Six Theft-Related Charges
Yahoo News – Nancy Molnar (The Times-Reporter) | Published: 11/16/2022

Dover Mayor Richard Homrighausen was convicted on theft in office and five other criminal charges. The jury found him guilty of four counts of soliciting improper compensation for taking fees for performing wedding ceremonies. He was also convicted of dereliction of duty for failing to deposit the payments in the city treasury. The theft in office conviction bars Homrighausen from holding public office for life. Authorities said Homrighausen did not claim the fees on his federal, state, or local taxes or declare the payments on financial disclosure forms.

South Dakota Ethics Board Subpoenas DCI for Investigation Report into If Gov. Kristi Noem Misused the State Airplane
Yahoo News – Annie Todd (Sioux Falls Argus Leader) | Published: 11/14/2022

The Government Accountability Board issued a subpoena for the Division of Criminal Investigation relating to its investigation into South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem’s alleged personal use of the state airplane. The move comes after the Hughes County state’s attorney found there were “no facts to support a criminal prosecution under current law” and returned the complaint to the board.

Tennessee Campaign Finance Watchdog Files Complaint Against Harwell
Tennessee Lookout – Sam Stockard | Published: 11/15/2022

The Campaign Legal Center filed a complaint against former Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell claiming she violated the law by moving $47,000 in “soft money” into her failed congressional campaign this year. The complaint say Harwell appears to have broken federal rules by directing $35,000 from the Beth Harwell Committee and $12,000 from the Harwell PAC, both state accounts, into a super PAC that purchased advertising supporting her Fifth Congressional District campaign in advance of the August primary.

Texas Texas Investigating Voting Difficulties in Houston’s Harris County
MSN – Molly Hennessey-Fiske (Washington Post) | Published: 11/16/2022

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called for a criminal investigation into “widespread problems” and “allegations of improprieties” in Harris County’s election. He noted voting in the nation’s third-largest county was plagued by understaffing, broken voting machines, and paper ballot shortages, even though turnout was lower than county officials expected. Abbott and other Republicans have claimed the problem was especially acute in conservative areas, although complaints came from Democratic areas as well.

Washington DC D.C. Housing Authority Internal Auditor Alleges Illegal Contracting
MSN – Steve Thompson (Washington Post) | Published: 11/13/2022

The District of Columbia Housing Authority (DCHA) illegally contracted with a software company, spending about $1 million without competitive bidding and splitting the amount into smaller purchases to escape scrutiny from the agency’s board, according to a report by the authority’s internal auditor. The review alleges that DCHA under its previous director, Tyrone Garrett, entered the first of the “illegal contracts” in 2019. But in a more immediate concern for the agency’s board, the review also accuses DCHA’s current executive staff of improperly trying “to use emergency contracts to cover up the error of obtaining an illegal contract.”

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