July 12, 2021 •
Campaign Finance National: “Toyota Stops Donations to Election Objectors After PAC Takes Ads Out Against Company” by Riley Beggin for Detroit News National: “Attorneys General in 4 States Looking into Online Fundraising Practices of Both Major Parties” by Steve Thompson […]
National: “Toyota Stops Donations to Election Objectors After PAC Takes Ads Out Against Company” by Riley Beggin for Detroit News
National: “Attorneys General in 4 States Looking into Online Fundraising Practices of Both Major Parties” by Steve Thompson and Amy Wang (Washington Post) for MSN
Michigan: “Michigan Attorney General Nessel’s Office ‘Reviewing’ 2018 Weiser Deal” by Craig Mauger for Detroit News
Mississippi: “They Wrote Campaign Checks to Tate Reeves. Then He Appointed Them to Powerful Ed Boards.” by Molly Minta for Mississippi Today
National: “Why There’s Even More Pressure Now on Congress to Pass a Voting Rights Bill” by Carrie Levine for Center for Public Integrity
California: “Former SF Public Works Manager Faces Perjury Counts in Corruption Scandal” by Jaxon Van Derbeken, Michael Batt, and Joe Rojas for KNTV
Hawaii: “Ethics Commission Quietly Drops Kealoha Investigation as Questions Swirl” by Nick Grube for Honolulu Civil Beat
Maryland: “Baltimore County Wants to Reform Its Inspector General Office. Here’s How Other State and Local Watchdogs Stack Up.” by Taylor DeVille (Baltimore Sun) for MSN
July 9, 2021 •
National/Federal 6 Months After Capitol Assault, Corporate Pledges Fall Flat ABC News – David Klepper (Associated Press) | Published: 7/4/2021 After the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, corporate America took a stand against the lies that powered the mob. Dozens of […]
6 Months After Capitol Assault, Corporate Pledges Fall Flat
ABC News – David Klepper (Associated Press) | Published: 7/4/2021
After the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, corporate America took a stand against the lies that powered the mob. Dozens of big companies, citing their commitment to democracy, pledged to avoid donating money to the 147 lawmakers who objected to the certification of Joe Biden’s victory on the false grounds that voting fraud stole the election from Donald Trump. Six months later, many of those companies have resumed funneling cash to PACs that benefit the election efforts of lawmakers whether they objected to the election certification or not. When it comes to seeking political influence through corporate giving, business as usual is back, if it ever left.
Deal of the Art: White House grapples with ethics of Hunter Biden’s pricey paintings
MSN – Matt Viser (Washington Post) | Published: 7/7/2021
Under an agreement with the White House, a gallery owner is planning to set prices for Hunter Biden’s artwork and will withhold all records, including potential bidders and final buyers. The owner also agreed to reject any offer he deems suspicious or that comes in over the asking price. It is an attempt to avoid ethical issues that could arise as President Biden’s son tries to sell a product with a highly subjective value. Not only has Hunter Biden previously been accused of trading in on his name, but his latest vocation is in a field where works do not have a fixed value and where concerns have arisen about secretive buyers and undisclosed sums.
Hunt for Capitol Attackers Still on 6 Months After Jan. 6
MSN – Alanna Durkin Richer and Michael Kunzleman (Associated Press) | Published: 7/6/2021
The first waves of arrests in the deadly siege at the U.S. Capitol focused on the easy targets. Dozens in the pro-Trump mob openly bragged about their actions on January 6 on social media and were captured in shocking footage broadcast live by national news outlets. But six months after the insurrection, the Justice Department is still hunting for scores of rioters, even as the first of more than 500 people already arrested have pleaded guilty. The struggle reflects the massive scale of the investigation and the grueling work still ahead for authorities in the face of an increasing effort by some Republican lawmakers to rewrite what happened that day.
Interns ‘Literally Couch Surf’ in DC. But More Pay Could Be on the Way
MSN – Jim Saska (Roll Call) | Published: 6/30/2021
A Washington, D.C. internship can open doors for career paths in Congress, the federal government, and the government-industrial complex of think tanks, law firms, and lobbying shops, if you can afford it. That “if” – a massive one for kids whose parents cannot cover the cost of a few months of the city’s sky-high rents and overpriced eateries – may get a bit smaller next year, as the House Appropriations Committee advanced a pair of spending bills bumping allocations for paying interns. The reception he gets could help answer some questions about life in Washington after Trump.
Political Spending Proposals Gain Traction in Proxy Season
MSN – Keith Lewis (Roll Call) | Published: 7/1/2021
Shareholder proposals seeking to increase transparency on publicly traded companies’ political activities won in record numbers this proxy season. Investors gave strong support to measures asking corporate boards to disclose more about company campaign contributions and lobbying. Consistent upward trends in the number and success of political activity disclosure efforts over the past few proxy seasons demonstrate the Securities and Exchange Commission needs to establish a framework for environment, social, and governance disclosure, according to Bruce Freed, president of the Center for Political Accountability.
Rudy Giuliani Is Being Scrutinized for Foreign Lobbying. He May Have Been One of Many in the Trump White House.
Center for Responsive Politics – Maggie Hicks | Published: 7/7/2021
Foreign agents reported being paid more than $30.5 million to influence U.S. policy or public opinion on behalf of Turkish interests during the Trump administration. The Justice Department has reportedly launched an inquiry into Rudolph Giuliana that may reveal even more undisclosed lobbying. In 2017, the Turkish government signed a contract with Greenberg Traurig, where Giuliani was a partner from 2016 to 2018. Turkey also hired Ballard Partners. The firm’s president, Brian Ballard, was vice chair of Trump’s inaugural committee and was a member of his transition team.
Sober Inquiry or Slash-and-Burn? McCarthy at a Jan. 6 Crossroads
Yahoo News – Olivia Beavers (Politico) | Published: 7/7/2021
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has a choice when it comes to the investigation of the Capitol riot: get serious or sabotage the process. His options are not necessarily binary, but the path he takes could shape his political future as he eyes the speaker’s gavel. Among Republican members who have lived through two impeachments, some want McCarthy to pick fighters skilled enough to withstand a months-long bombardment from Democrats. But the Republicans most eager to serve on the panel are the party’s firebrands, more practiced at crafting viral clips than they are at making a sustained, credible case against top Democratic oversight practitioners.
Supreme Court Ruling Opens Door to More Campaign Finance Challenges
MSN – Karl Evers-Hillstrom (The Hill) | Published: 7/5/2021
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a California law requiring charities to reveal their donors to state officials. The ruling does not apply to publicly disclosed donors or political groups. But in the majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that disclosure laws must be “narrowly tailored” to important government interests. Experts say the opinion effectively toughens the standard of review for all laws that compel disclosure, including election rules. Rick Hasen, an expert in campaign finance law, said the ruling “calls into question a number of campaign finance disclosure laws” and limits on the amount of money donors can give to candidates.
The Russia Inquiry Ended a Democratic Lobbyist’s Career. He Wants It Back.
New York Times – Kenneth Vogel | Published: 7/8/2021
The collapse of Tony Podesta’s $42-million-a-year lobbying and public relations firm in 2017 amid a federal investigation shook K Street and rendered him toxic, a rare Democratic victim of the Trump-era scandals. But an indictment never came. The Justice Department dropped its investigation, Donald Trump was defeated, and Podesta’s longtime allies took control in Washington. Now Podesta is exploring a return to a landscape he once dominated.
Trump Files Class Action Lawsuits Targeting Facebook, Twitter and Google’s YouTube Over ‘Censorship’ of Conservatives
MSN – Cat Zakrzewski and Rachel Lerman (Washington Post) | Published: 7/7/2021
Former President Trump filed class-action lawsuits targeting Facebook, Google, and Twitter, escalating his long-running battle with the companies following their suspensions of his accounts. Legal experts and business associations immediately criticized the claims, predicting they had little chance of succeeding in court. But the lawsuits raised a series of legal claims that will find favor among Trump’s most fervent supporters who have long argued the social media companies treat conservative voices unfairly.
Trump, Fighting to Toss Out Subpoena, Offered to Give House Democrats Peek at Financial Statements
MSN – Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 7/1/2021
Former President Trump has offered to give U.S. House Democrats a peek at financial statements related to his complex business empire from before his 2016 presidential bid and eight years of contracts with his accounting firm but refused to divulge more sensitive source data or internal communications, his lawyers told a federal judge. The disclosure of the offer, made in June in unsuccessful court-ordered mediation, came as Trump urged a federal judge to end a stalemate and toss out a House subpoena for eight years of his financial records, calling the congressional demand unconstitutional and unenforceable.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – Court: Mesnard lost immunity with press release
Arizona Capitol Times – Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services) | Published: 6/30/2021
State lawmakers have absolute immunity from being sued by those who are the targets of legislative investigative reports, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled. In a unanimous decision, the justices said ousted Rep. Don Shooter has no legal right to pursue a defamation lawsuit against then-House Speaker J.D. Mesnard for publishing a report by an outside legal team that concluded Shooter was guilty of violating a “zero tolerance” policy against sexual harassment. But the court said lawmakers lose that immunity when they start publishing press releases about what they do. that includes writing about and explaining the official report.
Arizona – Judge Questions Claim the Public Has No Right to Know Who’s Paying for Ariz. Election Audit
Arizona Daily Star – Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Servies) | Published: 7/7/2021
A judge questioned a state Senate attorney’s claim that the public has no right to know who is paying for the 2020 election audit in Arizona, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Michael Kemp pointed out that Senate President Karen Fann has said the Senate, in hiring an outside firm to conduct the audit, was performing “this important constitutional duty.” Fann’s attorney, Kory Langhofer, claims the Arizona Constitution pretty much forbids judicial second-guessing of how the Senate conducts its business, and whether it is complying with the law.
California – Former S.F. Leaders Tied to Corruption Scandal Are Collecting Pensions
MSN – Megan Cassidy (San Francisco Chronicle) | Published: 7/3/2021
Three former San Francisco officials who resigned in the wake of corruption allegations still receive city pensions. With few exceptions, city workers cannot lose their pensions unless they are convicted of and sentenced for a crime of “moral turpitude,” according to city law. In recent decades, such instances have been extremely rare in San Francisco, and it could be years before the three respective cases are adjudicated.
California – Gavin Newsom Recall Election Date Officially Set: California voters to cast ballots in September
MSN – Lara Kote (Sacramento Bee) | Published: 7/2/2021
California Gov. Gavin Newsom will face a recall election on September 14, Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis announced. Her declaration follows more than a year of petition-gathering and campaigning fueled, in part, by outrage over the governor’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. But Newsom is enjoying the fruits of an overflowing state bank account and the reopening of California after the pandemic.
California – Lobbyist Seeks $2M Fee for Work on Behalf of Insurer That Donated to State’s Insurance Regulator
San Diego Union Tribune – Jeff McDonald | Published: 7/4/2021
A contract dispute being waged in a courtroom is complicating the re-election plans for California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, who two years ago suspended all fundraising amid a campaign finance scandal. The lawsuit involves Lara’s one-time boss and political mentor, former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez. It also includes Rusty Areias, another former state lawmaker who now works as a Sacramento lobbyist. Mercury Public Affairs, where Nunez is a partner, and Areias are plaintiffs in a case demanding $2 million in lobbying and consulting fees from Applied Underwriters.
California – She Was a Watchdog over L.A. Politicians. But They Had Power Over Her Raise
MSN – Emily Alpert Reyes and David Zahniser (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 7/6/2021
The duties of the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission kept growing during Heather Holt’s tenure as executive director, and she believed the salary for her position should go up as well. But to get that increase, she needed approval from the city’s elected officials. Holt never received that raise, which became a casualty of the economic crisis that followed the outbreak of COVID-19. But her behind-the-scenes campaign highlights an uncomfortable fact about the city’s ethics agency – it operates at the mercy of officials it is charged with policing.
Georgia – Atlanta City Clerk to Halt Removal of Candidates’ Info from Documents After Legal Questions
SaportaReport.com – John Ruch | Published: 6/30/2021
The Atlanta municipal clerk’s office for years has redacted the contact information of candidates from campaign finance documents in an online database, a practice one open-records expert called unlawful and defeating the purpose of transparency. In response to questions about the practice, Municipal Clerk Foris Webb III said the redactions will be halted and existing ones undone. Some municipal candidates also file reports in a state system that does not redact information, and there may be other ways to locate candidates online.
Georgia – Federal Judge Declines to Block Portions of Georgia Election Law
MSN – Rebecca Beitsch (The Hill) | Published: 7/7/2021
A federal judge in Georgia declined to strike down portions of the state’s controversial voter law ahead of run-off elections. The decision from U.S. District Court Judge Jean-Paul Boulee did not weigh in on some of the most controversial aspects of the law, nor did it strike down a portion of the statute that changes the deadline for requesting absentee ballots. It also did not a provision on election observation. Boulee said because the plaintiffs are seeking to challenge the voting law ahead of a run-off election, doing so would “change the election administration rules for elections that are already underway.”
Idaho – Idaho Freedom Foundation Official Fined for Breaking Lobbyist Registration Law
Idaho Education News – Audrey Dutton (Idaho Capital Sun) | Published: 7/2/2021
Dustin Hurst, vice president of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, was fined $250 for lobbying on the state’s higher education budget without first registering. The foundation is a nonprofit organization that advocates for limited government. It created an organization in recent years called Idaho Freedom Action, with the same staff and offices. Hurst is the registered agent for both organizations, according to Secretary of State records.
Illinois – Ald. Carrie Austin and Chief of Staff Indicted on Bribery Charges for Allegedly Accepting Home Improvements from Developer
Yahoo News – Gregory Pratt and Megan Crepeau (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 7/1/2021
Under a cloud for two years since her ward office was raided by federal agents, Chicago Ald. Carrie Austin was indicted on federal bribery charges along with her chief of staff. Austin and her top aide, Chester Wilson, shepherded a new real-estate development through City Hall bureaucracy and were given home-improvement perks from a developer seeking to influence them, the indictment alleges. Between them, they allegedly got new kitchen cabinets, granite countertops, bathroom tiling, sump pumps, and an HVAC system for free or at a discount.
Indiana – Judge Letting Indiana’s Governor Sue to Block Emergency Law
MSN – Tom Davies (Associated Press) | Published: 7/6/2021
A judge sided with Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb in a dispute between top state Republicans over whether he can proceed with a lawsuit challenging the increased power state legislators gave themselves to intervene during public health emergencies. Holcomb argues the law passed by is unconstitutional because it gives lawmakers a new power to call themselves into a special legislative “emergency session” during statewide emergencies declared by the governor. Holcomb and some legal experts maintain the state constitution only allows the governor to call the Legislature into special session after its annual session ends.
Louisiana – Ex-Charter School Board Member Faces $16K Ethics Fine Over Loan; He Says He Was Just Trying to Help
New Orleans Advocate – Charles Lussier | Published: 7/7/2021
A former board member of the defunct Laurel Oaks Charter School in Baton Rouge has been ordered to pay a total of $16,000 for making a $15,000 loan to the school in fall 2018 and then pocketing $4,000 in interest. Joseph Wicker said he was just trying to help the struggling school make payroll and retain staff. The Louisiana Board of Ethics in June resolved a separate case from the same school, which state officials closed in 2019 after just three years in operation over concerns about the safety of students and questionable financial practices.
Michigan – Michigan GOP, Weiser Agree to Pay $200,000 to Resolve Campaign Finance Probe
Detroit News – Craig Mauger | Published: 7/2/2021
The Michigan Republican Party agreed to pay $200,000 to resolve a campaign finance complaint that claimed Chairperson Ron Weiser used party funds to lure a secretary of state candidate out of a race in 2018. The allegations surfaced in February when-then Chairperson Laura Cox accused Weiser of orchestrating a “secret deal” with Stan Grot to get Grot to drop out of the GOP’ race for secretary of state. The deal involved $200,000 in payments from the party’s undisclosed administrative account to Grot, said Cox, who lost to Weiser in her reelection bid days after she made the claims against him.
Minnesota – Sitting Lawmakers Will No Longer Be Able to Work as Lobbyists as New Law Takes Aim at GOP Leader
Minnesota Reformer – Ricardo Lopez | Published: 7/1/2021
Sitting state lawmakers will no longer be able to work as lobbyists, after a Republican amendment taking aim at Minnesota House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt was adopted as part of a broader tax bill. The measure will outlaw such work arrangements and comes more than a year after Daudt raised eyebrows by announcing his job with Stateside Associates, a Virginia-based lobbying firm. Daudt has defended his job, saying he would not lobby the Minnesota Legislature. The job announcement as director of public affairs said he would not be involved in lobbying at all.
Mississippi – Mississippi Elected Officials, Candidates Owe Thousands in Unpaid Campaign Finance Fines
Mississippi Daily Journal – Luke Ramseth and Taylor Vance | Published: 7/1/2021
Mississippi politicians and candidates are required by law to file campaign finance reports, which reveal who is giving them money and how they are spending it, but many are not doing so. In hundreds of cases since 2018, state-level candidates and elected officials ignored or overlooked this basic transparency requirement. The vast majority of the time, they did not pay their fines, which ranged from $50 to $500. Since 2018, unpaid campaign finance fines outnumber paid ones nearly three-to-one. Officeholders and candidates have stiffed the state out of nearly $150,000 by either refusing to pay their fine or not realizing one had been levied.
Montana – How G.O.P. Laws in Montana Could Complicate Voting for Native Americans
New York Times – Maggie Astor | Published: 7/6/2021
It has been less than a century since Native Americans in the U.S. gained the right to vote by law, and they never attained the ability to do so easily in practice. New restrictions – ballot collection bans, earlier registration deadlines, stricter voter ID laws, and more – are likely to make it harder, and the starkest consequences may be seen in places like Montana: sprawling, sparsely populated Western and Great Plains states where Native Americans have a history of playing decisive roles in close elections.
New York – Eric Adams Wins Democratic Primary in NYC’s Mayoral Race
MSN – Karen Matthews (Associated Press) | Published: 7/6/2021
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams won the Democratic primary for mayor of New York City after appealing to the political center and promising to strike the right balance between fighting crime and ending racial injustice in policing. A former police captain, Adams would be the city’s second Black mayor if elected. He triumphed over a large field in New York’s first major race to use ranked choice voting. Adams will be the prohibitive favorite in the general election against Curtis Sliwa, the Republican founder of the Guardian Angels. Democrats outnumber Republicans seven-to-one in New York City.
New York – Ethics Commissioners Seek Reopening of Cuomo Leak Probe
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 7/7/2021
Three members of the New York Joint Commission on Ethics (JCOPE) want an investigation reopened into who illegally leaked confidential information to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie acknowledged receiving a berating from Cuomo shortly after a JCOPE meeting in January 2019. The governor was apparently irate about how Heastie’s appointees voted in a confidential proceeding that day on whether to investigate the possible misuse of government resources of a former top Cuomo aide, Joseph Percoco. It is a misdemeanor to leak information about JCOPE’s confidential deliberations.
New York – Prosecutors Say Spreadsheets from Trump Organization Offer a Road Map for Its Indictment. Where the Investigation Goes Now Is the Question.
MSN – David Fahrenthold, Jonathan O’Connell, Shayna Jacobs, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 7/4/2021
Prosecutors said the Trump Organization provided a road map for its own indictment. They claimed the company spent 15 years paying its chief financial officer “off the books,” giving him cars, an apartment, tuition payments, and cash that were hidden from income tax authorities. But at the same time, according to an indictment, the company was keeping spreadsheets that tallied the payments being hidden. Prosecutors treated the spreadsheets as the accounting equivalent of a confession. Yet the indictment left many questions unanswered. Still, legal experts say, the spreadsheets could cast a shadow over the former president and his company.
New York – Trump Organization Prosecutors Confront Accusations of Political Bias
MSN – Ann Marimow (Washington Post) | Published: 7/2/2021
The Trump Organization wasted little time before denouncing the indictment of its longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, and condemning state authorities in New York for their “scorched earth attempt to harm” the corporation’s figurehead, former President Trump. Former prosecutors and legal experts who have watched the investigation, a joint pursuit by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and New York Attorney General Letitia James, rejected Trump’s assertion his company and close adviser are being pursued as part of a political vendetta. Still, the investigation’s political overtones are inescapable.
Ohio – Cincinnati’s Anti-Corruption Task Force Reveals Recommendations. Now It Wants to Hear from You.
MSN – Sharon Coolidge (Cincinnati Enquirer) | Published: 7/7/2021
Cincinnati’s anti-corruption task force unveiled its initial recommendations. Among them: forbidding campaign contributions from developers while their proposals are before city council and disclosing any PAC accounts under a candidates’ control. Those recommendations are at the heart of the corruption cases brought against three council members in 2020.
Oregon – Nearman Loses Bid for Oregon House Seat to Former Aide Ahead of Court Date
The Center Square – Tim Gruver | Published: 7/7/2021
Former Rep. Mike Nearman will see his Oregon House seat go to his onetime aide, Anna Scharf, after being handily refused reappointment. Nearman had campaigned to reclaim the seat he was expelled from in June for helping a violent right-wing mob into the Oregon Capitol in December. But Nearman found himself on the outs with the county commissioners who chose Scharf to represent House District 23. Answering questions from commissioners, Scharf cited homelessness and government overreach as chief concerns for the district.
Pennsylvania – Ethics Panel Closes Investigation into Former Pa. Victim Advocate Jennifer Storm
Spotlight PA – Angela Couloumbis | Published: 7/6/2021
After a year-long investigation, the state Ethics Commission found Jennifer Storm, Pennsylvania’s former chief advocate for crime victims, did not trade on her high-profile public position to benefit her personal business ventures. Storm agreed to technical violations of the ethics law, closing out an inquiry she believes was instigated by political enemies as payback for her outspoken advocacy in prominent cases. Storm must amend her annual statements of financial interest and pay a $3,000 fine for failing to disclose airfare, lodging, or income associated with two conferences she attended, as well as rental income.
South Carolina – Richard Quinn, Once a Powerful SC GOP Consultant, Faces New Charges in Corruption Probe
Charleston Post and Courier – Avery Wilks | Published: 7/2/2021
A state grand jury hit longtime political consultant Richard Quinn Sr. with a new round of criminal charges, signaling South Carolina’s years-long investigation into statehouse corruption is ongoing. The new indictment charges Quinn with 12 counts of perjury and two counts of obstruction of justice. Most of the charges accuse the longtime power broker of lying to the state grand jury in order to cover up potential wrongdoing by his political operation.
South Carolina – SC Judges Remain on the Bench for Years Despite Alleged Crimes, Ethical Lapses
Charleston Post and Courier – Joseph Cranney and Avery Wilks | Published: 7/1/2021
South Carolina’s secretive, slow-moving system for policing its judges allows the accused to remain on the bench for years despite serious questions about their character and impartiality, a media investigation found. The Disciplinary Counsel’s office, an investigative arm of the state Supreme Court, receives more than 200 complaints against the state’s judges each year. But those investigations almost never lead to a judge being removed or publicly reprimanded. It is one of myriad ways that South Carolina allows government officials to police themselves and escape public scrutiny.
Texas – Texas Special Session Brings Election Law Back into Spotlight
CBS News – Adam Brewster and Ed O’Keefe | Published: 7/7/2021
Texas lawmakers returned to Austin for a special session that is expected to put the state’s battle over voting rights back in the national spotlight. The special session comes several weeks after House Democrats staged a walkout to defeat a bill that would have overhauled election laws. The final version of Senate Bill 7 provides an indication of what lawmakers are going to focus on. That bill would have set limits on the hours that early voting can be conducted, banned drive-through voting, added new requirements for mail voting, and made it a felony for public officials to send unsolicited absentee ballot applications.
Utah – 11 Anti-Mask Protesters Charged with Disrupting Granite School Board Meeting
MSN – Courtney Taylor (Salt Lake Tribune) | Published: 7/6/2021
Anti-mask protesters who forced an early end to a school board meeting in May after they stormed the room and shouted obscenities at board members are now facing criminal charges. Granite School District confirmed that 11 people have been charged with disrupting a public meeting, a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Police are still searching for a 12th person who was allegedly involved in the confrontation with individuals aggressively pushing for the district to not require face masks in schools.
Washington DC – Jack Evans Agrees to Payment Plan for Ethics Fines
Washington City Paper – Mitch Ryals | Published: 7/1/2021
Former District of Columbia Councilperson Jack Evans will pay the city $2,000 per month for the next 26 months, according to a settlement with the city attorney general. The settlement comes after Evans failed to pay the $55,000 that he owes for violating ethics rules while in office. The agreement is the third such document Evans has signed promising to pay up.
Washington DC – Rudy Giuliani Suspended from Practicing Law in Washington, DC
CNN – Katelyn Polantz | Published: 7/7/2021
Rudolph Giuliani’s law license has been suspended in Washington, D.C., after he temporarily lost his license in New York for pushing election lies and that state court system looks further into his case. The appeals court in the District of Columbia said Giuliani would be suspended from working as an attorney in the city “pending outcome” of his situation in New York. Giuliani does not regularly practice law in Washington, but the suspension is still a major blow to the former U.S. attorney and New York City mayor, once considered an accomplished and formidable force in legal circles.
July 7, 2021 •
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed House File 1952 amending campaign finance disclosure laws by requiring reporting of contributions, campaign expenditures and independent expenditures made to certain local candidates or ballot issues. The bill defines local candidate as an individual who […]
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed House File 1952 amending campaign finance disclosure laws by requiring reporting of contributions, campaign expenditures and independent expenditures made to certain local candidates or ballot issues.
The bill defines local candidate as an individual who seeks any county office in Hennepin County; any city office in any home rule charter city or statutory city located wholly within Hennepin County and having a population of 75,000 or more; or the school board in Special School District No. 1.
Cities included within the definition of local candidate include Minneapolis, Bloomington, and Brooklyn Park.
The bill also amends the definition of public official to include a chancellor or member of the Board of Trustees of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities.
The bill also amends the requirements for filing and contents of statements of economic interest.
These amendments will be effective January 1, 2022 and apply to reports and disclosures required to be filed with the state Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board on or after that date.
July 7, 2021 •
Campaign Finance National: “Supreme Court Ruling Opens Door to More Campaign Finance Challenges” by Karl Evers-Hillstrom (The Hill) for MSN Elections Montana: “How G.O.P. Laws in Montana Could Complicate Voting for Native Americans” by Maggie Astor for New York Times […]
National: “Supreme Court Ruling Opens Door to More Campaign Finance Challenges” by Karl Evers-Hillstrom (The Hill) for MSN
Montana: “How G.O.P. Laws in Montana Could Complicate Voting for Native Americans” by Maggie Astor for New York Times
National: “Political Spending Proposals Gain Traction in Proxy Season” by Keith Lewis (Roll Call) for MSN
National: “Hunt for Capitol Attackers Still on 6 Months After Jan. 6” by Alanna Durkin Richer and Michael Kunzleman (Associated Press) for MSN
California: “She Was a Watchdog over L.A. Politicians. But They Had Power Over Her Raise” by Emily Alpert Reyes and David Zahniser (Los Angeles Times) for MSN
Illinois: “Ald. Carrie Austin and Chief of Staff Indicted on Bribery Charges for Allegedly Accepting Home Improvements from Developer” by Gregory Pratt and Megan Crepeau (Chicago Tribune) for Yahoo News
New York: “Trump Organization Prosecutors Confront Accusations of Political Bias” by Ann Marimow (Washington Post) for MSN
South Carolina: “Richard Quinn, Once a Powerful SC GOP Consultant, Faces New Charges in Corruption Probe” by Avery Wilks for Charleston Post and Courier
Idaho: “Idaho Freedom Foundation Official Fined for Breaking Lobbyist Registration Law” by Audrey Dutton (Idaho Capital Sun) for Idaho Education News
July 6, 2021 •
Campaign Finance National: “6 Months After Capitol Assault, Corporate Pledges Fall Flat” by David Klepper (Associated Press) for ABC News Michigan: “Michigan GOP, Weiser Agree to Pay $200,000 to Resolve Campaign Finance Probe” by Craig Mauger for Detroit News Mississippi: […]
National: “6 Months After Capitol Assault, Corporate Pledges Fall Flat” by David Klepper (Associated Press) for ABC News
Michigan: “Michigan GOP, Weiser Agree to Pay $200,000 to Resolve Campaign Finance Probe” by Craig Mauger for Detroit News
Mississippi: “Mississippi Elected Officials, Candidates Owe Thousands in Unpaid Campaign Finance Fines” by Luke Ramseth and Taylor Vance for Mississippi Daily Journal
New York: “Prosecutors Say Spreadsheets from Trump Organization Offer a Road Map for Its Indictment. Where the Investigation Goes Now Is the Question.” by David Fahrenthold, Jonathan O’Connell, Shayna Jacobs, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) for MSN
South Carolina: “SC Judges Remain on the Bench for Years Despite Alleged Crimes, Ethical Lapses” by Joseph Cranney and Avery Wilks for Charleston Post and Courier
Arizona: “Court: Mesnard lost immunity with press release” by Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services) for Arizona Capitol Times
California: “Lobbyist Seeks $2M Fee for Work on Behalf of Insurer That Donated to State’s Insurance Regulator” by Jeff McDonald for San Diego Union Tribune
Minnesota: “Sitting Lawmakers Will No Longer Be Able to Work as Lobbyists as New Law Takes Aim at GOP Leader” by Ricardo Lopez for Minnesota Reformer
July 2, 2021 •
National/Federal DOJ-Ordered Foreign Agent Registrations Boost China and Russia’s 2020 FARA Spending Center for Responsive Politics – Anna Massoglia and Maggie Hicks | Published: 6/24/2021 China, Qatar, and Russia dominated the top 10 ranking of countries spending the most on foreign […]
DOJ-Ordered Foreign Agent Registrations Boost China and Russia’s 2020 FARA Spending
Center for Responsive Politics – Anna Massoglia and Maggie Hicks | Published: 6/24/2021
China, Qatar, and Russia dominated the top 10 ranking of countries spending the most on foreign influence, lobbying and propaganda operations targeting the U.S. in 2020, according to Foreign Agents Registration Act records. Much of the spike in reported spending can be attributed to new registrations ordered by the Justice Department. Covington & Burling and Akin Gump were the top grossing U.S. firms paid for foreign lobbying and influence operations last year.
Exxon Lobbyist Concedes Company Fought ‘Against Some of the Science’ in Activist Recording
MSN – Zack Budryk and Rachel Frazen (The Hill) | Published: 6/30/2021
A lobbyist for ExxonMobil conceded the energy giant “aggressively [fought] against some of the science” behind climate change and describes their work against climate efforts with “shadow groups” in undercover footage filmed by an activist group called Unearthed. The footage shows lobbyist Keith McCoy describing the company’s carbon tax stance as simply a “talking point,” adding that he speaks with U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin’s office weekly.
FEC Reviewing Rules on Salaries, Benefits for Candidates
MSN – Kate Ackley (Roll Call) | Published: 6/29/2021
Nabilah Islam, who lost her bid for Congress in 2020, is calling on the FEC to change the rules to allow candidates to secure a minimum salary and health benefits through their campaigns. She also wants the FEC to set a uniform time frame for when candidates may begin drawing compensation. Candidates now cannot pay themselves more than they were making in the year previous to their run for office, which means unemployed people or stay-at-home caregivers are not entitled to a salary. Reform groups support the effort, saying it would make it easier for a more diverse collection of people to seek public office.
House Votes to Create Select Committee for Investigating Jan. 6 Attack on the Capitol
MSN – Karoun Demirjian (Washington Post) | Published: 6/30/2021
The House voted to form a select committee tasked with investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol with nearly all Republicans opposing the legislation, a sign of the political challenges that face Democrats as they attempt to probe why thousands of former President Trump’s supporters laid siege to the Capitol complex. Speaker Nancy Pelosi will be able to select eight of the 13 panel members herself, including its chairperson, and maintain the power to overrule Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy for picking anyone Democrats consider objectionable.
Inside the ‘Shadow Reality World’ Promoting the Lie That the Presidential Election Was Stolen
MSN – Rosalind Helderman, Emma Brown, Tom Hamburger, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 6/24/2021
A loosely affiliated network of figures has harnessed right-wing media outlets, podcasts, and the social media platform Telegram to promote the falsehood that the 2020 election was rigged, a belief that is an animating force inside the Republican Party. These falsehoods are now seeping into civic life, spurring citizens in multiple states to demand local officials review the vote. The echo chamber is being sustained by figures such as Mike Lindell, chief executive of MyPillow, who says he has spent $16 million in the effort. Other untold sums have been donated by ordinary Americans to nonprofit groups that say they are focused on “election integrity.”
Overseeing Federal Housing Agency Resigns, Months After Watchdog Report Finds Abuse of Authority
MSN – Rachel Siegel (Washington Post) | Published: 6/30/2021
The inspector general overseeing the Federal Housing Finance Agency resigned, two months after a watchdog report alleged that she abused her authority, retaliated against employees, and blocked an investigation into her conduct. The report noted years of complaints against Laura Wertheimer and other staff members, and it ultimately concluded “misconduct of this nature warrants consideration of substantial disciplinary action, up to and including removal.”
Rep. Gosar Denies Knowledge of Fundraiser with Group That Promotes White-Nationalist Ideas Despite Invitation for the Event
MSN – Marrianna Sotomayor (Washington Post) | Published: 6/29/2021
U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar denied he plans to attend a fundraiser with a group that promotes white nationalist ideas, despite an invitation for the event circulating online that features the Gosar and Nick Fuentes, a far-right operative who leads America First. The invitation includes contact information for Gosar’s campaign and says it was “paid for by Nicholas Fuentes and authorized by Gosar for Congress Committee.” This would be the second event that Gosar has attended this year with Fuentes, who has previously defended segregation as being “better” for both White and Black Americans and has downplayed the horrors of the Holocaust.
Rudy Giuliani Facing Inquiry into Whether He Lobbied Trump for Turkey
MSN – Christian Berthelsen, Greg Farrell, and Chris Strom (Bloomberg) | Published: 6/29/2021
Rudolph Giuliani is the subject of a Justice Department inquiry into possible foreign lobbying for Turkish interests separate from a criminal probe of his activities in Ukraine, according to people familiar with the matter. For almost a year, Giuliani has been fielding questions about whether he was acting for Turkey when he pushed the Trump administration in 2017 to drop money-laundering charges against gold trader Reza Zarrab and deport exiled Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen. The Turkey inquiry is not criminal, in contrast to the Ukraine investigation.
The Land Was Worth Millions. A Big Ag Corporation Sold It to Sonny Perdue’s Company for $250,000.
Seattle Times – Desmond Butler (Washington Post) | Published: 6/29/2021
In February 2017, weeks after then-President Trump selected him to be agriculture secretary, Sonny Perdue’s company bought a small grain plant in South Carolina from one of the biggest agricultural corporations in America. The former Georgia governor did not disclose the deal as there was no legal requirement to do so. The Washington Post found Archer-Daniels-Midland sold the land at a small fraction of its estimated value just as it stood to benefit from a friendly secretary of agriculture.
Trump Appointees Allowed Terminated EPA Staffers to Keep Receiving Salaries, Watchdog Report Says
MSN – Amy Wang and Juliet Eilperin (Washington Post) | Published: 6/26/2021
Two former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials intentionally kept two staffers on the payroll and allowed them to continue receiving their salaries even after they were terminated, according to a report from the agency’s watchdog. The report also found the former officials, both appointed by former President Trump, committed other fraudulent payroll-related activities – including one giving the other an improper pay increase – that cost the EPA more than $130,000.
Trump’s Endorsements: Revenge against enemies, rewards for friends and purveyors of election falsehoods
MSN – Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 6/26/2021
How aggressively former President Trump should involve himself in the 2022 midterm elections is a question gripping his orbit as he positions himself for a potential run in 2024. His endorsement is the hottest ticket in Republican primary politics in many states, strategists say. But some around him and in senior positions in the GOP want Trump to give them sparingly, fearful losses and a diminished brand could backfire by allowing Democrats to maintain control of the House and Senate and weaken his standing before the next presidential contest.
Undercover GOP Operatives Trained by Former Spies Infiltrated Liberal Groups to Try and Compromise Them from the Inside, Report Says
Yahoo News – Sonam Sheth and Grace Panetta (Business Insider) | Published: 6/25/2021
A wealthy Republican donor and a former British spy spearheaded an effort to train Republican operatives to go undercover and infiltrate liberal organizations, The New York Times reported. The donor, Erik Prince, is a hardline Trump supporter who founded the private military contractor Blackwater, now known as Academi. Prince worked with a former British spy, Richard Seddon, on a conservative operation to “infiltrate progressive groups, political campaigns and the offices of Democratic as well as moderate Republican elected officials during the 2020 election cycle,” The Times reported, citing interviews and documents.
Unkept Promise on Elections Overhaul Leaves Democrats Scrambling
MSN – Shawn Zeller (Roll Call) | Published: 6/26/2021
Democrats intended the bill to overhaul elections, campaign finance, and ethics law that stalled in the U.S. Senate as a statement of principle to draw a contrast with Republicans. But the measure’s demise is, thus far, demonstrating more fissures in their own party. It has divided progressives who believe democracy cannot survive without its enactment, a president in Joe Biden who has not used his bully pulpit to promote it as much as they would like, and moderate Democrats who do not think it is worth upending the filibuster to overcome GOP opposition.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – Arizona’s Maricopa County Will Replace Voting Equipment, Fearful That GOP-Backed Election Review Has Compromised Security
MSN – Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) | Published: 6/28/2021
Arizona’s Maricopa County announced it will replace voting equipment that was turned over to a private contractor for a Republican-commissioned review of the 2020 presidential election, concerned the process compromised the security of the machines. Officials from Maricopa, the state’s largest county and home to Phoenix, provided no estimates of the costs involved but have previously said the machines cost millions of dollars to acquire. The process being used to recount ballots and examine voting machines has been criticized by election experts as sloppy, insecure, and opaque.
Arizona – Legislature Sends Voter Protection Act Change to Ballot
MSN – Bob Christie (Associated Press) | Published: 6/26/2021
Arizona voters will be asked next year to amend the state constitution to give the Legislature more power to change citizen’s initiatives they have approved. The referral approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature would amend the Voter Protection Act. That constitutional provision was approved by the state’s voters in 1998 after lawmakers overturned a 1996 initiative legalizing medical marijuana. The act prevents lawmakers from changing a law passed by initiative unless the change both “furthers the purpose” and obtains a 3/4th vote of the Legislature.
Arizona – Supreme Court Says Arizona Limits Don’t Violate Voting Rights Act
MSN – Ariane de Vogue, Fredreka Schouten, and Chandelis Duster (CNN) | Published: 7/1/2021
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled a pair of Arizona voting restrictions do not run afoul of federal law, dealing a blow to voting rights advocates. The decision comes as a raft of Republican-crafted voting limits are introduced and passed across the country, with Democrats and civil rights groups turning to courts to argue the new measures threaten to suppress the vote of racial minorities. One Arizona policy at issue in the case requires provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct to be discarded. The second measure makes it illegal for most third parties to deliver ballots for others, a practice critics refer to as “ballot harvesting.”
California – Newsom Sues Elections Chief to Call Himself a Democrat on Recall Ballot
Politico – Kevin Yamamura | Published: 6/29/2021
California Gov. Gavin Newsom is suing his own appointed elections chief to get two words next to his name on the recall ballot: Democratic Party. The governor and his staff overlooked paperwork last year that would have allowed him to state his party preference on a recall ballot, according to a legal filing. Secretary of State Shirley Weber has confirmed that proponents had more than enough signatures to qualify the contest, and several ministerial steps remain before the date is confirmed.
California – Online Activism Is Spilling into the Streets of Southern California, Sparking a Post-Trump Movement
MSN – Elizabeth Dwoskin (Washington Post) | Published: 6/29/2021
For years, social media companies have sought and failed to limit the reach of misinformation and other harmful material spread on their sites. That failure culminated in January when – after months of allowing falsehoods about a stolen election to proliferate – the companies kicked former President Trump, along with tens of thousands of followers, off their platforms for inciting violence during the Capitol insurrection. But six months later, a right-wing movement is reconstituting itself, and once again, it is fueled by social media.
California – Supreme Court Nixes California Disclosure Law in Blow to Dark-Money Opponents
MSN – Josh Gerstein and Zach Montellaro (Roll Call) | Published: 7/1/2021
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of two conservative groups that challenged a California requirement for tax-exempt charities to provide the state the identities of their top financial donors. The ruling could have a political impact, complicating donor-disclosure requirements for groups that often spend large sums in elections but stop short of the “express advocacy” for or against candidates that triggers stricter rules on revealing the sources of donations. Most charities are still required to file lists of donors giving over $5,000 in a year, but the IRS in 2018 dropped the requirement for some politically oriented groups.
Florida – Federal Judge Blocks Florida Law That Would Penalize Social Media Companies
MSN – Cat Zakrzewski (Washington Post) | Published: 6/30/2021
A federal judge blocked a Florida law that would penalize social media companies for blocking a politician]s posts, a blow to conservatives’ efforts to respond to Facebook and other websites’ suspension of former President Trump. The law was due to go into effect July 1, but in issuing a preliminary injunction, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle suggested the law would be found unconstitutional. The law laid out fines for tech companies that suspended candidates in the run-up to an election.
Florida – No Criminal Charges for Baugh’s Vaccine VIP List. State Judgment on Ethics Comes Next
MSN – Ryan Callahan (Bradenton Herald) | Published: 6/30/2021
A criminal investigation into Manatee County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh’s priority list for COVID-19 vaccinations did not yield any charges, but an ethics board will make a separate ruling on the case. The sheriff’s office said it did not believe Baugh’s order to have herself and four friends vaccinated broke state law, but an investigator said that action “may present certain ethical issues.” Baugh faces at least 18 complaints about the directive. Baugh “knowingly and intentionally attempted to obtain a benefit for herself and others,” but the county’s law enforcement agency does not enforce potential ethics violations.
Georgia – Biden Administration Sues Georgia Over Its GOP-Enacted Voter Restrictions
MSN – Betsy Woodruff Swan, Zach Montellaro, and Josh Gerstein (Politico) | Published: 6/24/2021
The Justice Department is suing Georgia over its bill altering election practices in the state. Republican state legislators around the country have pushed a host of provisions that would make it more challenging for people to vote, moves that have targeted Democratic-leaning voters and disproportionately impact people of color. While suits under the Voting Rights Act can be brought over election practices simply because they disproportionately impact minorities, federal officials alleged the new provisions in Georgia are intentionally discriminatory – meaning the Justice Department believes it can prove the state Legislature purposefully sought to diminish the voting power of black voters.
Illinois – Politics Isn’t Child’s Play, but New Campaign Finance Rule Hopes to Make It More Family Friendly
Chicago Sun-Times – Rachel Hinton | Published: 6/24/2021
What passes for political expenses in Illinois often run the gamut. Politicians have spent campaign cash over the years on legal fees season tickets for the Chicago Bulls, White Sox, and Cubs. Campaign funds even once covered the funeral expenses of a former state legislator. So, why not childcare? That was one question state Sen. Melinda Bush said drove her push to clarify state law pertaining to the use of campaign money. She argues that clarification, which is part of an election bill recently signed into law, could remove a barrier to running for office.
Kentucky – Federal Officials Investigate Link Between Former Gov. Matt Bevin Pardon and Fundraiser
MSN – Andrew Wolfson (Louisville Courier-Journal) | Published: 6/29/2021
Two years after then-Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin pardoned Patrick Baker, a convicted killer whose family hosted a political fundraiser for Bevin, the FBI and federal prosecutors are investigating the executive action. It was reported that Baker’s ex-girlfriend, Dawn Turner, told investigators she believed the purpose of the fundraiser was to influence Bevin to give Patrick Baker a pardon and the donor event was “crucial” in getting it. Bevin has denied he pardoned Baker because of the fundraiser, but the revelations show the former governor still faces possible criminal liability.
Louisiana – Louisiana Cap on Lobbying Spending Edges Up Again, to $65
MSN – Associated Press | Published: 6/30/2021
The cap for how much Louisiana’s lobbyists can spend to entertain public edged higher as of July 1. With the start of the new state budget year, the limit lobbyists can spend on food and drink for state lawmakers, other elected officials, and public employees is growing from $63 to $65 per person, per occasion.
Maine – Governor Mills Signs a Full Slate of Election, Campaign Finance Reforms into Law
Maine Wire – Katherine Revelo | Published: 6/24/2021
Maine Gov. Janet Mills signed into law several bills that affect campaigns and elections in the state. Legislative Document 916 makes changes to the laws that govern how voter information can be accessed from the state’s central voter registration system while Legislative Document 1363 makes several changes to the use of ranked choice voting and absentee ballots in Maine elections. Legislative Document 1417 bans “segregated fund committees” from accepting individual donations that exceed $5,000 in a calendar year. Legislative Document 1377 makes changes to the laws governing the disclosure of personal sources of income, reporting campaign finance information, and participation in the Maine Clean Election Act.
Massachusetts – Here’s How Feds Say Former House Candidate Abhijit Das Paid Off Debts on Yacht, Massachusetts Hotel Business with Illegal Political Donations
MSN – Jackson Cote (MassLive.com) | Published: 6/29/2021
Federal prosecutors arrested former congressional candidate Abhijit Das, alleging he tailored a scheme to illegally obtain political donations, tried to conceal those illicit contributions, and then used hundreds of thousands of dollars of that money on personal expenses, like his struggling hotel business and yacht. Prosecutors said Das devised a scheme to ask friends and associates for contributions were over the then-$2,700 limit on individual donations. Three individuals gave about $125,000 to the campaign and Das structured the donations as personal loans to circumvent FEC reporting requirements and contribution limits.
Missouri – Missouri Officials Can’t Charge Fees for Attorney Review of Public Records, Court Says
MSN – Katie Moore (Kansas City Star) | Published: 6/30/2021
Government officials in Missouri cannot charge fees for the time attorneys spend reviewing public records prior to their release, the state Supreme Court ruled. Gov. Mike Parson’s office in 2018 charged Elad Gross, a Democrat who ran for attorney general last year, $3,618 for a cache of records on former Gov. Eric Greitens. Parson argued the Sunshine Law allows research or staff time to be charged. But the high court said attorney review time does not fall under either of those categories and public records may be fulfilled without any attorney review time.
Montana – Montana Judge Blocks Portions of Campaign Finance Bill
MSN – Amy Beth Hanson (Associated Press) | Published: 6/29/2021
Lewis and Clark County District Court Judge Michael Menahan said he will temporarily block the implementation of two sections of a Montana campaign finance law that was set to take effect July 1. One provision would ban politicking in certain areas of college campuses. The other requires a judge to recuse themselves from a case if their campaigns for office received at least of half of the maximum individual contribution from a lawyer working on the case or involved party during the previous six years.
New Jersey – Murphy Intends to Again Veto Mandatory Minimums Bill Over Weaker Penalties for Public Corruption, Officials Say
MSN – Ted Sherman and Amanda Hoover (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 6/24/2021
A bill that was intended as a landmark criminal justice measure ending minimum mandatory sentences for many nonviolent crimes in New Jersey was amended to include those charged with official misconduct and public corruption/ Gov. Phil Murphy vetoed it in April. A new version of the bill with the same controversial changes left intact passed the Legislature a second time. And the governor plans to kill it once again because it would eliminate mandatory prison time for elected officials who abuse their office for their own benefit, such as those who take bribes.
New York – Giuliani’s N.Y. Law License Suspended in Connection with Efforts to Overturn 2020 Election
MSN – Shayna Jacobs, Rosalind Helderman, and Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 6/24/2021
New York state suspended Rudolph Giuliani from practicing law after finding he sought to mislead judges, lawmakers, and the public as he helped shepherd former President Trump’s legal challenges to the election results. An appeals court said Giuliani’s actions represented an “immediate threat” to the public and he “directly inflamed” the tensions that led to the Capitol riot. The suspension represents one of the first serious attempts to impose consequences on Trump or his top allies for spreading falsehoods about the election results.
New York – New York City Primary Meltdown Deals New Setback to Nation’s Strained Electoral System
MSN – Amy Gardner and David Weigel (Washington Post) | Published: 6/30/2021
New York City election officials announced they mistakenly included 135,000 test ballots in early tallies of the Democratic primary for mayor, skewing the count. The Board of Elections issued an apology that pinned the blame on “human error that could have been avoided.” The episode called attention to the city’s history of shoddy election administration. It also represents an awkward turn for national Democrats as they try to defend the soundness of the country’s elections while accusing former President Trump and his GOP allies of undermining democracy through their baseless claims that last year’s election was tainted by widespread fraud.
New York – State Ethics Panel Votes Down Criminal Probe into Cuomo Leak
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 6/30/2021
The New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics voted against seeking a criminal investigation into whether someone from within its own ranks leaked confidential information to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, even as new details emerged about the 2019 incident. Six members of the body voted in favor of seeking an investigation, two votes short of the number necessary to formally pursue such an inquiry. Four commissioners, all appointed by Cuomo, voted against making the criminal referral, which the state attorney general would need to pursue the matter. None of the Cuomo-appointed commissioners explained their votes opposing the probe, which would have directly touched a governor already facing multiple, unrelated investigations.
New York – Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg Surrenders in Criminal Case Over Company’s Business Dealings
MSN – Shayna Jacobs, David Fahrenthold, Josh Dawsey, and Jonathan O’Connell (Washington Post) | Published: 7/1/2021
Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg surrendered to authorities after prosecutors secured grand jury indictments against him and the former president’s family company. People familiar with the case said the charges were related to allegations of unpaid taxes on benefits for Trump Organization executives. Weisselberg is the first individual to be charged in connection with a criminal investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., who is now collaborating with New York Attorney General Letitia James to investigate Trump’s business practices.
Ohio – Feds Asked Frank LaRose for 20 Years of ECOT Campaign Donation Records
Akron Beacon Journal – Laura Bischoff (Columbus Dispatch) | Published: 6/26/2021
The FBI and U.S. Department of Justice subpoenaed nearly 20 years of campaign contribution records from the Ohio secretary of state’s office for the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), an indication the now-closed online charter school and its key players have come under federal criminal investigation. In August 2017, the Ohio Republican Party returned $76,000 in campaign donations to William Lager, ECOT’s founder, and Melissa Vasil. That refund came after former House Speaker Larry Householder returned $70,000 to the Summit County Republican Party.
South Carolina – Judge Orders Powerful Ex-SC Lawmaker to Prison in State House Corruption Investigation
MSN – John Monk and Maayan Schecter (The State) | Published: 6/29/2021
Former South Carolina Rep. Jim Harrison pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 18 months in prison for misconduct in office and perjury for lying to a grand jury. Harrison the first former state lawmaker to be sentenced to prison out of five others convicted so far in an investigation of corruption at the General Assembly. The misconduct charge was centered around his illegal acceptance of some $900,000 over 13 years from the now-defunct Richard Quinn & Associates consulting firm. That money, prosecutors said, was then used to illegally influence legislation. Harrison was the former chairperson of the House Judiciary Committee.
South Carolina – With Party Facing Ethics Fines, Current and Former Horry County GOP Officials Questioning Why
MyHorryNews.com – Jonathan Haynes and Charles Perry | Published: 6/26/2021
The Horry County Republican Party potentially faces thousands of dollars in fines for not filing financial disclosure forms with the South Carolina Ethics Commission over the last four years. But current and former party officials question whether they even needed to submit those records. Local leaders said the commission levied a $1,700 penalty against the group. They also said the ethics panel warned that failing to file the mandatory forms could result in up to $85,000 in penalties. That revelation has led to finger-pointing among the current leaders, who were selected in April and are accusing their predecessors of leaving them in this predicament.
South Dakota – South Dakota Governor Sending National Guard to Mexico Border on Mission Funded by GOP Megadonor
MSN – Alex Horton (Washington Post) | Published: 6/29/2021
Gov. Kristi Noem will use a contribution from a Republican donor to fund a deployment of up to 50 South Dakota National Guard troops to the U.S. border with Mexico. The Guard members will deploy in response to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s plea to augment border security with law enforcement resources from other states. Privately funding a military mission is an affront to civilian oversight of the armed forces, said military and oversight experts, describing the move – a Republican governor sending troops to a GOP-led state, paid for by a Republican donor – as likely unprecedented and unethical.
Texas – Developer Found Guilty of Bribing Two Former Dallas City Council Members to Help Housing Projects
MSN – Kevin Krause (Dallas Morning News) | Published: 6/30/2021
Developer Ruel Hamilton was found guilty of three bribery counts for making payments to two former Dallas City Council members in exchange for their help with his low-income apartment projects in the city. Hamilton was accused of bribing Dwaine Caraway and Carolyn Davis for their support and while they served on the council. The trial was the latest Dallas City Hall corruption case to land in federal court. The case was notable because it also targeted a white businessperson who paid bribes. Previous corruption trials in Dallas have mainly involved local Black politicians, leading to accusations of racial bias in prosecutorial decision-making.
Virginia – Fourth Person Linked to Former Congressman Scott Taylor’s Campaign Is Charged with Election Fraud
MSN – Meagan Flynn (Washington Post) | Published: 6/28/2021
A fourth person who worked on former U.S. Rep. Scott Taylor’s failed 2018 reelection bid has been charged with election fraud. Rob Catron, who worked as a campaign consultant for Taylor, was indicted on 10 counts of making a false statement and election fraud, a felony. The allegations appear tied to a 2018 petition fraud scandal in which Taylor’s campaign sought to get a third-party spoiler candidate on the ballot, purportedly to siphon votes away from Taylor’s Democratic challenger, now-U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria.
Wisconsin – GOP Candidate Bankrolled Jan. 6 Riot Trip with Campaign Cash
Yahoo News – Roger Sollenberger (Daily Beast) | Published: 6/25/2021
Two months after congressional candidate Derrick Van Orden lost his race in Wisconsin, he joined the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6 and he paid for the trip with money left over from his campaign. Van Orden, who is running again, acknowledged attending the protest but claimed he never entered the Capitol grounds. Social media posts from the riot suggest that is not true. FEC regulations state that travel expenses must be “directly related to the campaign.” Van Orden, who wrote off roughly $4,000 in transportation and hotel costs around January 6 for him, his wife, and a campaign staffer, did not declare his 2022 candidacy until April.
July 1, 2021 •
Campaign Finance National: “Rep. Gosar Denies Knowledge of Fundraiser with Group That Promotes White-Nationalist Ideas Despite Invitation for the Event” by Marrianna Sotomayor (Washington Post) for MSN Elections California: “Newsom Sues Elections Chief to Call Himself a Democrat on Recall […]
National: “Rep. Gosar Denies Knowledge of Fundraiser with Group That Promotes White-Nationalist Ideas Despite Invitation for the Event” by Marrianna Sotomayor (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “Newsom Sues Elections Chief to Call Himself a Democrat on Recall Ballot” by Kevin Yamamura for Politico
National: “The Land Was Worth Millions. A Big Ag Corporation Sold It to Sonny Perdue’s Company for $250,000.” by Desmond Butler (Washington Post) for Seattle Times
Kentucky: “Federal Officials Investigate Link Between Former Gov. Matt Bevin Pardon and Fundraiser” by Andrew Wolfson (Louisville Courier-Journal) for MSN
Missouri: “Missouri Officials Can’t Charge Fees for Attorney Review of Public Records, Court Says” by Katie Moore (Kansas City Star) for MSN
New York: “Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg Surrenders in Criminal Case Over Company’s Business Dealings” by Shayna Jacobs, David Fahrenthold, Josh Dawsey, and Jonathan O’Connell (Washington Post) for MSN
South Carolina: “Judge Orders Powerful Ex-SC Lawmaker to Prison in State House Corruption Investigation” by John Monk and Maayan Schecter (The State) for MSN
South Dakota: “South Dakota Governor Sending National Guard to Mexico Border on Mission Funded by GOP Megadonor” by Alex Horton (Washington Post) for MSN
Texas: “Developer Found Guilty of Bribing Two Former Dallas City Council Members to Help Housing Projects” by Kevin Krause (Dallas Morning News) for MSN
National: “House Votes to Create Select Committee for Investigating Jan. 6 Attack on the Capitol” by Karoun Demirjian (Washington Post) for MSN
June 30, 2021 •
Campaign Finance National: “How Deceptive Campaign Fund-Raising Ensnares Older People” by Shane Goldmacher for New York Times National: “FEC Reviewing Rules on Salaries, Benefits for Candidates” by Kate Ackley (Roll Call) for MSN Massachusetts: “Abhijit Das, Former Congressional Candidate Against […]
National: “How Deceptive Campaign Fund-Raising Ensnares Older People” by Shane Goldmacher for New York Times
National: “FEC Reviewing Rules on Salaries, Benefits for Candidates” by Kate Ackley (Roll Call) for MSN
Massachusetts: “Abhijit Das, Former Congressional Candidate Against U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan, Accused of Using Illegal Campaign Donations to Pay Off Debts for Hotel Business and Yacht” by Jackson Cote (MassLive) for MSN
Montana: “Helena District Court Judge Will Block 11th-Hour Additions to Campaign Finance Law” by Mara Silvers for Montana Free Press
Arizona: “Arizona’s Maricopa County Will Replace Voting Equipment, Fearful That GOP-Backed Election Review Has Compromised Security” by Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) for MSN
New York: “NYC Mayoral Race: Board of Elections throws mayoral primary into chaos by counting test ballots” by Gregory Krieg, Ethan Cohen, and Adam Levy (CNN) for MSN
California: “Online Activism Is Spilling into the Streets of Southern California, Sparking a Post-Trump Movement” by Elizabeth Dwoskin (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Rudy Giuliani Facing Inquiry into Whether He Lobbied Trump for Turkey” by Christian Berthelsen, Greg Farrell, and Chris Strom (Bloomberg) for MSN
June 29, 2021 •
Montana District Court Judge Michael Menahan said he will temporarily block the implementation of two sections of Senate Bill 319. The bill was amended late, with the amendment adding the two sections in question. One amendment revised how political committees […]
Montana District Court Judge Michael Menahan said he will temporarily block the implementation of two sections of Senate Bill 319.
The bill was amended late, with the amendment adding the two sections in question.
One amendment revised how political committees could operate on college campuses.
The other amendment prohibited judges from presiding over a case if they had received campaign contributions of $91 or more from a party within a six-year timespan.
Judge Menahan intends to issue the order sometime before July 1.
June 29, 2021 •
On June 28, the Annapolis City Council voted unanimously to adopt campaign finance reforms. Ordinance 15-21 requires any person making independent expenditures of $5,000 or more to register with the Board of Supervisors of Elections. Once registered, such persons are […]
On June 28, the Annapolis City Council voted unanimously to adopt campaign finance reforms.
Ordinance 15-21 requires any person making independent expenditures of $5,000 or more to register with the Board of Supervisors of Elections.
Once registered, such persons are required to file reports upon making independent expenditures of $10,000 or more.
Further, the reports must identify the person making the expenditure and any donors who have contributed $6,000 or more. Ordinance 15-21 is effective immediately.
June 29, 2021 •
Campaign Finance New York: “Megadonors Flooded the New York Mayor’s Race. Most of Them Wasted Their Money” by Joe Anuta for Politico Ohio: “Feds Asked Frank LaRose for 20 Years of ECOT Campaign Donation Records” by Laura Bischoff (Columbus Dispatch) […]
New York: “Megadonors Flooded the New York Mayor’s Race. Most of Them Wasted Their Money” by Joe Anuta for Politico
Ohio: “Feds Asked Frank LaRose for 20 Years of ECOT Campaign Donation Records” by Laura Bischoff (Columbus Dispatch) for Akron Beacon Journal
South Carolina: “With Party Facing Ethics Fines, Current and Former Horry County GOP Officials Questioning Why” by Jonathan Haynes and Charles Perry for MyHorryNews.com
Wisconsin: “GOP Candidate Bankrolled Jan. 6 Riot Trip with Campaign Cash” by Roger Sollenberger (Daily Beast) for Yahoo News
National: “Trump’s Endorsements: Revenge against enemies, rewards for friends and purveyors of election falsehoods” by Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Unkept Promise on Elections Overhaul Leaves Democrats Scrambling” by Shawn Zeller (Roll Call) for MSN
Arizona: “Legislature Sends Voter Protection Act Change to Ballot” by Bob Christie (Associated Press) for MSN
National: “Trump Appointees Allowed Terminated EPA Staffers to Keep Receiving Salaries, Watchdog Report Says” by Amy Wang and Juliet Eilperin (Washington Post) for MSN
June 28, 2021 •
Campaign Finance Illinois: “Politics Isn’t Child’s Play, but New Campaign Finance Rule Hopes to Make It More Family Friendly” by Rachel Hinton for Chicago Sun-Times Maine: “Governor Mills Signs a Full Slate of Election, Campaign Finance Reforms into Law” by […]
Illinois: “Politics Isn’t Child’s Play, but New Campaign Finance Rule Hopes to Make It More Family Friendly” by Rachel Hinton for Chicago Sun-Times
Maine: “Governor Mills Signs a Full Slate of Election, Campaign Finance Reforms into Law” by Katherine Revelo for Maine Wire
National: “Inside the ‘Shadow Reality World’ Promoting the Lie That the Presidential Election Was Stolen” by Rosalind Helderman, Emma Brown, Tom Hamburger, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) for MSN
Georgia: “Biden Administration Sues Georgia Over Its GOP-Enacted Voter Restrictions” by Betsy Woodruff Swan, Zach Montellaro, and Josh Gerstein (Politico) for MSN
National: “They Seemed Like Democratic Activists. They Were Secretly Conservative Spies.” by Mark Mazzetti and Adam Goldman (New York Times) for Yahoo News
New Jersey: “Murphy Intends to Again Veto Mandatory Minimums Bill Over Weaker Penalties for Public Corruption, Officials Say” by Ted Sherman and Amanda Hoover (NJ Advance Media) for MSN
New York: “Giuliani’s N.Y. Law License Suspended in Connection with Efforts to Overturn 2020 Election” by Shayna Jacobs, Rosalind Helderman, and Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “DOJ-Ordered Foreign Agent Registrations Boost China and Russia’s 2020 FARA Spending” by Anna Massoglia and Maggie Hicks for Center for Responsive Politics
June 25, 2021 •
National/Federal A Family Affair: Children and other relatives of Biden aides get administration jobs MSN – Sean Sullivan and Michael Scherer (Washington Post) | Published: 6/17/2021 President Biden promised that no member of his family would be a part of his […]
A Family Affair: Children and other relatives of Biden aides get administration jobs
MSN – Sean Sullivan and Michael Scherer (Washington Post) | Published: 6/17/2021
President Biden promised that no member of his family would be a part of his administration. But that vow did not extend to his senior staff and their relatives. In the first few months of Biden’s presidency, at least five children of his top aides have secured jobs in the administration. The pattern has drawn concerns from ethics experts, diversity advocates, and others. They say it is disappointing that Biden did not shift even further from the practices of Donald Trump’s presidency, which they felt reeked of nepotism and cronyism.
Capitol Rioter Used Charity to Promote Violence, Feds Say
MSN – Michael Kunzelman (Associated Press) | Published: 6/17/2021
Alan Hostetter used his tax-exempt nonprofit as a platform to oppose COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, protest that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Trump, and advocate for violence against political opponents, according to a federal indictment. He is charged with conspiracy in the January 6 insurrection, and could be in violation of IRS rules governing nonprofits. The IRS prohibits charities like Hostetter’s from participating in any campaign activity for or against candidates. In his application for tax-exempt status, Hostetter said American Phoenix Project would not directly or indirectly engage in political campaigns.
Federal Judge Tosses Most Claims Against Trump, Barr and U.S. Officials in Clearing of Lafayette Square
MSN – Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 6/21/2021
U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich dismissed most claims filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of D.C. and others in lawsuits that accused the Trump administration of authorizing an unprovoked attack on demonstrators in Lafayette Square last year. The plaintiffs asserted the government used unnecessary force to enable a photo op of then-President Trump outside St John’s Church. But Friedrich called allegations that federal officials conspired to make way for the photo too speculative. The judge allowed litigation to go forward challenging restrictions on protests and other First Amendment activity at Lafayette Square.
Garland Tries to Untangle the Trump Legacy at the Justice Department
MSN – Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 6/21/2021
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland is facing criticism from some Democrats that he is not doing enough to quickly expunge Trump-era policies and practices. On issues ranging from leak investigations to civil and criminal cases involving former President Trump, Garland has been beset by a chorus of congressional second-guessers, even as he insists that he is adhering to the principles of equal justice under the law. How he charts his way through the politically sensitive cases is likely to determine how much of a long-term impact the Trump presidency has on the Justice Department.
How Democrats Are ‘Unilaterally Disarming’ in the Redistricting Wars
Politico – Ally Mutnick | Published: 6/21/2021
In key states over the past decade, Democrats have gained control of Legislatures and governorships that have long been in charge of drawing new election maps, only to cede that authority, often to independent commissions tasked with drawing political boundaries free of partisan interference. Supporters of these initiatives say it is good governance to bar politicians from drawing districts for themselves and their party. But exasperated Democrats counter that it left them hamstrung in the battle to hold the U.S. House by diluting or negating their ability to gerrymander in the way Republicans plan to do in many red states. With the House so closely divided, Democrats will need every advantage to cling to their majority in 2022.
In Sentencing Regretful Capitol Protester, Federal Judge Rebukes Republicans
MSN – Spencer Hsu and Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) | Published: 6/23/2021
U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth castigated Republican lawmakers for downplaying the violence of the mob that stormed the Capitol on January 6, saying in handing down the first sentence to a charged defendant that those who break the law must pay a penalty. Lamberth credited Anna Morgan-Lloyd for her early cooperation and admission of guilt, expressing frustration with both defendants and observers who argue the riot was merely a political protest. He sentenced her to three years of probation.
Investors Press Firms on Donations as Political Spending Jumps
MSN – Laura Weiss (Roll Call) | Published: 6/24/2021
Democratic state treasurers and social issue-focused investment funds are pressing 82 corporations to be transparent about donations to candidates and causes as contributions resume after a pause in the wake of the January 6 attack on the Capitol. More than 125 groups managing over $1.5 trillion in invested assets recently wrote to board members who oversee political spending at some of the largest public corporations. The letter asks companies to provide public disclosure of the amount and recipient of every election-related expenditure, including those made through PACs and third-party groups such as trade associations.
PAC Sues FEC for Dismissing Complaint Against Trump Campaign
Courthouse News Service – Samantha Hawkins | Published: 6/21/2021
A PAC filed a lawsuit against the FEC for dismissing its complaint alleging Donald Trump campaign coordinated with a super PAC that ended up raising $150 million during the 2020 election. End Citizens United says the Trump campaign solicited and directed donations to America First Action and allege the super PAC was the only outside, non-campaign group “approved” by Trump or the Republican National Committee to donate to. FEC regulations prohibit campaigns from soliciting contributions to super PACs without taking measures to ensure the donations comply with federal contribution limits.
Republican House Campaign Arm Says It Will Begin Soliciting Cryptocurrency Donations
MSN – Max Greenwood (The Hill) | Published: 6/17/2021
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) will begin soliciting cryptocurrency donations, making it the first national party committee to do so. It will process cryptocurrency contributions using the payment service BitPay. The procedure will allow the NRCC to effectively bypass the FEC’s $100 cap on transfers of cryptocurrency and accept donations of up to $10,000 per year from an individual.
Senate Republicans Block Debate on Elections Bill, Dealing Blow to Democrats’ Voting Rights Push
MSN – Mike DeBonis (Washington Post) | Published: 6/22/2021
Senate Republicans banded together to block a sweeping Democratic bill that would revamp the architecture of American democracy, dealing a grave blow to efforts to federally override dozens of GOP-passed state voting laws. Republicans have also taken aim at numerous other provisions in the Democratic legislation, including a proposal to publicly finance congressional campaigns, potential new disclosure requirements for political donors, and a realignment of the FEC meant to break partisan gridlock in enforcing election laws.
States Across the Country Are Dropping Barriers to Voting, Widening a Stark Geographic Divide in Ballot Access
MSN – Elise Viebeck (Washington Post) | Published: 6/23/2021
Newly enacted laws in more than half of the states expand access to the voting process on a number of fronts, such as offering additional early and mail voting options, protecting mail ballots from being improperly rejected, and making it easier to register to vote. The push to make voting easier comes as Republicans have embraced voting restrictions in GOP-controlled states. The overall result is a deepening divide in ballot access depending on where voters live, one shaped by how lawmakers have reacted to both the pandemic and former President Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was tainted by massive fraud.
Unmasking the Far Right: An extremist paid a price when his identity was exposed online after a violent clash in Washington
MSN – Robert Klemko (Washington Post) | Published: 6/20/2021
Journalist Laura Jedeed was filming a group of Trump supporters in the District of Columbia after the “Million MAGA March” last November when a man wearing an American flag mask approached her, stepped on her toes, and began yelling. “What’s up, you stupid b—-?” the man shouted as the mask slipped down. Jedeed uploaded video of the incident. The man in the mask was identified through social media and he lost his job. The disclosure online of Dawson’s personal information is part of an effort by left-wing activists to punish members of far-right groups accused of violent behavior by exposing them to their employers, family, and friends.
Whitehouse Bolsters Push to Shine Light on ‘Dark Money’ at Supreme Court
MSN – Todd Ruger (Roll Call) | Published: 6/23/2021
U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse has written reports and essays, introduced bills, filed briefs, gone on cable television, and made presentations at Supreme Court confirmation hearings. But he has not been as convincing as he hoped in his campaign to curb conservative anonymous donors and their influence on the high court, even as that “dark money” now floods in to support the judicial nomination process his party controls.
Canada – Jan Harder Resigns from Committee as Gloves Come Off at City Council
CBC – Joanne Chianello and Kate Porter | Published: 6/23/2021
Ottawa Councilor Jan Harder stepped down from her role as chair of the committee responsible for urban planning and development in the city, but that did not quell the acrimony surrounding the integrity commissioner’s report on her. The council was set to vote on sanctions recommended in a report by Integrity Commissioner Robert Marleau, which found Harder created a perceived conflict-of-interest by hiring registered lobbyist Jack Stirling and his daughter to work for her office, while Stirling represented private planning clients at City Hall and even personally represented them at the committee Harder chaired.
From the States and Municipalities
Alaska – APOC Fines Former GOP Alaska Rep. Pruitt for ‘Widespread, Serious’ Campaign Finance Violations
Alaska Public Media – Nathaniel Herz | Published: 6/23/2021
The Alaska Public Offices Commission imposed a $20,000 fine on former state Rep. Lance Pruitt, saying he broke multiple laws with vague and sloppy reporting, banned contributions, and late reimbursements to himself. Pruitt said his errors were unintentional. “In hindsight, I wish I would’ve hired someone to do my reports instead of trying to balance that and a campaign by myself,” Pruitt said.
Arizona – State Senate Wants to Investigate If Social Media Platforms Are Violating Campaign Finance Laws
Pinal Central – Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services) | Published: 6/23/2021
The Arizona Senate voted to spend $500,000 to investigate the practices of social media platforms and search engines to see if they are violating campaign finance laws. The Unreported In-Kind Political Contributions Task Force Fund is charged with investigating whether and to what extent the practices of social media platforms and internet search engines effectively become in-kind political contributions to a candidate, meaning the donation of some service with financial value,
California – Curb Nonprofit Donations? Republicans Running in Newsom Recall Say It Would Reduce Conflicts
MSN – Sophia Bollag (Sacramento Bee) | Published: 6/17/2021
About a dozen companies lobbying to influence state policy have given more than $800,000 to a nonprofit founded by First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsome. She has been paid more than $2.3 million by the nonprofit for her work leading the organization and creating documentary films. Now, two Republicans running to replace California Gov. Gavin Newsom are calling for new laws curbing such donations, arguing companies trying to influence state policy should not contribute to nonprofits that employ elected officials’ family members.
California – Elections Officials Alarmed by Democrats’Plans to Change Newsom Recall Rules
MSN – John Myers (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 6/17/2021
Elections officials across California said the proposed rules written by Democratic state lawmakers for the recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom could push the event’s cost far beyond the current estimate of $215 million, creating voter confusion and delaying the counting of ballots. Local officials began sounding the alarm soon after Democrats unveiled new legislation allowing the recall to be held as early as August 24. The proposal would shorten the timeline by up to two months by eliminating the existing requirement of a lengthy analysis of the election’s costs.
Florida – In Push Against ‘Indoctrination,’ DeSantis Mandates Surveys of Florida Students’ Beliefs
MSN – Caroline Anders (Washington Post) | Published: 6/24/2021
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says he is concerned about the free flow of ideas on campus and whether higher education stifles free speech from conservatives. Under a law that will take effect July 1, public universities must assess “viewpoint diversity” on campus each year through a survey from the State Board of Education. The law does not address penalties for schools where the survey finds low levels of “intellectual freedom” and “viewpoint diversity,” but DeSantis hinted at the potential for budget cuts at universities that do not pass muster. Public universities in the U.S. are already bound by the First Amendment and cannot discriminate against viewpoints.
Florida – In Secret Recording, Florida Republican Threatens to Send Russian-Ukrainian ‘Hit Squad’ After Rival
MSN – Marc Caputo (Politico) | Published: 6/17/2021
A little-known Republican candidate in one of Florida’s most competitive congressional seats was secretly recorded threatening to send “a Russian and Ukrainian hit squad” to a fellow GOP opponent to make her “disappear.” During a call with a conservative activist that was recorded before he became a candidate, William Braddock repeatedly warned the activist to not support Anna Paulina Luna in the Republican primary for a Tampa Bay-area congressional seat because he had access to assassins.
Florida – Top Florida Political Players Scrutinized in Artiles Case Ahead of August Trial
Miami Herald – Samantha Gross and Ana Ceballos | Published: 6/23/2021
A public corruption investigation that took root in a single Miami-Dade legislative race has roped in prominent players across Florida over the last several months, including a GOP-linked research firm, a top not-for-profit hospital network, and a veteran Republican operative who leads a Tallahassee-based political organization. A judge announced the trial would begin August 30. Records obtained by the Miami Herald show that since at least April, investigators have been issuing subpoenas to gather information from an array of people and organizations and financial records that go back several years.
Indiana – 2 More Plea Deals Reached in Muncie Corruption Case; Nichols Is Final Defendant
MSN – Douglas Walker (Muncie Star Press) | Published: 6/22/2021
Two more defendants facing criminal charges stemming from the federal investigation of corruption in former Muncie Mayor Dennis Tyler’s administration signed plea agreements. Only one of the nine defendants charged in the years-long corruption probe remains scheduled to stand trial on related charges. Plea agreements were entered in the cases of contractor Tony Franklin and businessperson Jeffrey Burke. Franklin is accused of conspiring to steer Muncie Sanitary District contracts to his business in exchange for “cash bribes and kickbacks.”
Louisiana – Louisiana Governor Agrees to Remove PAC Limits for Campaigns
MSN – Associated Press | Published: 6/22/2021
Candidates for office in Louisiana will soon be able to take unlimited sums directly from PACs under a bill signed into law by Gov. John Bel Edwards. The removal of limits on donations that come largely from special interest groups will take effect August 1. Edwards signed the legislation despite opposition from the state Board of Ethics.
Maine – Maine Campaign Finance Regulator Hides Public Meeting during Investigation of Anti-Corridor Group
Maine Public – Steve Mistler | Published: 6/18/2021
Maine’s ethics commission removed the video and livestream of a public proceeding after a commissioner mentioned the name of a person or business entity the campaign finance regulator is investigating. The unusual move came at the request of Stop the Corridor, a political group that opposes Central Maine Power’s controversial transmission project. The meeting was called because Stop the Corridor is protesting the commission’s subpoena for records. The majority of both meetings have been held in executive session, a closed-door proceeding the commission uses to discuss information that it has agreed to keep confidential in investigations.
Missouri – St. Louis Gun-Waving Couple Pleads Guilty to Misdemeanors
Politico – Associated Press | Published: 6/17/2021
A St. Louis couple who gained notoriety for pointing guns at social justice demonstrators last year pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges and agreed to give up the weapons they used during the confrontation. Patricia McCloskey pleaded guilty to misdemeanor harassment and was fined $2,000. Her husband, Mark McCloskey, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault and was fined $750. They claimed the protesters were trespassing and they feared for their safety. Mark McCloskey has announced he was running for a U.S. Senate seat in Missouri.
Montana – Lawmakers Abandon Investigative Subpoenas for Judges’ Records
Ravalli Republic – Seaborn Larson (Helena Independent Record) | Published: 6/22/2021
A legislative committee investigating the judicial branch withdrew its subpoenas for Montana Supreme Court records. There had been an escalating confrontation between Republican lawmakers and the judiciary over claims of improper use of state resources, lobbying efforts by judges, and failure to retain public records. The subpoenas were challenged in court as an overreach of the Legislature’s constitutional authority by Supreme Court Administrator Beth McLaughlin, whose own emails had been subpoenaed by the committee.
New Jersey – N.J. Wants to Protect Women on the Campaign Trail, but Sexual Harassment Bill Is Mired in Politics, Critics Say
MSN – Susan Livio and Kelly Heyboer (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 6/17/2021
A bill that would make New Jersey one of the first states in the nation to outlaw sexual harassment in political campaigns is back under consideration in Trenton three months after sponsors pulled it amid disagreements over what it should say. Advocates say the legislation is needed in state and local campaigns where sexual misconduct often goes unreported and there are no human resources departments for campaign workers and candidates to turn to if they are sexually harassed. The heart of the bill calls for spending $2 million to create the Office on Discrimination and Harassment Prevention inside the Election Law Enforcement Commission.
New York – Adams Leads in N.Y.C. Mayoral Primary, but Ranked-Choice Awaits
MSN – Katie Glueck (New York Times) | Published: 6/23/2021
Eric Adams, who ran for mayor of New York City on a message focused on issues of public safety, emerged with a substantial lead in the Democratic primary, but fell short of outright victory in a race that will now usher in a new period of uncertainty. Because Adams seemed unlikely to earn more than 50 percent of the vote, the contest will be decided under New York’s new ranked-choice voting system. It may take until mid-July before a Democratic primary victor, who would become an overwhelming favorite to win the general election, is officially declared.
New York – Councilman Defeats Indicted Rochester Mayor in Dem. Primary
Star Herald – Carolyn Thompson and Deepti Hajela (Associated Press) | Published: 6/22/2021
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, who ran for a third term while under indictment in a campaign finance case, was defeated in the Democratic primary by city Councilperson Malik Evans. There is no Republican challenger on the November ballot. Warren started to face calls for her resignation last summer amid protests over the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man who was pressed to the pavement by a group of police officers until he stopped breathing. In October, she was indicted on charges she schemed to evade campaign contribution limits. In May, Warren’s husband was charged with being part of a drug trafficking ring.
New York – India Walton, Self-Identified Socialist, Scores Upset Victory in Buffalo Mayoral Primary
MSN – David Weigel (Washington Post) | Published: 6/23/2021
Buffalo Democrats nominated a self-identified socialist as their candidate for mayor, as nurse and activist India Walton scored an upset victory over four-term incumbent Byron Brown in the June 22 primary. Republicans have not fielded a candidate for mayor and have not won City Hall in Buffalo since the 1960s, making the Democratic primary winner all but certain to take office in January. Walton identified as a socialist inside the Democratic Party, and she saw her campaign as a way to dispel worries about the label and its ideological goals.
New York – Trump and His CFO Allen Weisselberg Stay Close as Prosecutors Advance Their Case
MSN – Jonathan O’Connell, Shayna Jacobs, David Fahrenthold, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 6/21/2021
As chief financial officer at Donald Trump’s private company, Allen Weisselberg is a key figure in prosecutors’ efforts to indict the former president, legal experts say. His central role in nearly every aspect of Trump’s business afforded him a singular view of the Trump Organization’s tax liabilities and finances. Although that role allowed him to stay behind the scenes, it may place him front and center in what would be an unprecedented prosecution of a former president. Officials involved in the Weisselberg investigation have grown frustrated about what they view as a lack of cooperation from him and believe he continues to regularly speak with Trump.
North Carolina – McCrae Dowless Pleads Guilty to Financial Crimes Related to 2018 Election Fraud Scandal
MSN – Will Doran (Raleigh News and Observer) | Published: 6/21/2021
McCrae Dowless pleaded guilty in federal court to two crimes stemming from the investigation into the absentee ballot fraud scheme he is accused of running in North Carolina. He pleaded guilty to two of the four charges he faced related to Social Security disability fraud. There is a separate state-level court case dealing with the election fraud accusations. The disability fraud charges came as part of an investigation into Dowless for allegedly running an absentee ballot scheme in which he and some assistants would collect people’s ballots and, in some cases, fraudulently sign them or even fill in votes for races that the voters had left blank, officials say.
Ohio – Ohio House Panel Advances Bill Allowing Officials Accused of Corruption to Choose Where Their Trial Is Held
MSN – Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 6/22/2021
Republican-backed legislation to allow Ohio politicians accused of corruption to be tried in their home counties rather than Columbus cleared the House Civil Justice Committee. House Bill 286 would remove the Franklin County prosecutor’s exclusive authority to try state public corruption cases. The measure comes just months after a Democrat was elected to the position for the first time in nearly 60 years. The vote was held days after the House expelled former Speaker Larry Householder, who is facing a federal charge of overseeing a $60 million bribery scheme to pass legislation.
Ohio – Ohio Lobbyists Get Keycard Access to Capitol, State Buildings
Ohio Capital Journal – Jake Zuckerman | Published: 6/24/2021
The Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board allows access cards to be issued to registered lobbyists, elected officials, legislative staff, and certain journalists, among others in Ohio. The cards enable someone to skip security lines at government buildings, access elevator bays, and enter the statehouse after hours. For lobbyists, facetime with policymakers is easier to come by in the public spaces than calling and setting a meeting. Other states have different approaches in giving lobbyists access.
Oregon – Lobbying Group Mike Nearman Invited into Oregon Capitol Eluded Disclosing Funding Sources for Years
MSN – Hillary Borrud (Portland Oregonian) | Published: 6/21/2021
Members of the Oregon Citizens Lobby were instructed on how enter the closed Capitol by state Rep. Mike Nearman, who was expelled from office for his actions that day. The group has generated a steady stream of lobbying-related training events and alerts over the last 10 years. It rallies its volunteers to press legislators to support or oppose bills. But Oregon Citizens Lobby has never registered to lobby, despite a state requirement for any entity that spends more than $100 on lobbying in any three-month period to disclose its total spending.
Pennsylvania – The Philly Ethics Board Fines PAC Formed by Retired Cops That Spent Big Against Krasner
WHYY – Ryan Briggs | Published: 6/17/2021
A PAC founded by former law enforcement officers, which backed Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner’s opponent in the May Primary, was fined for violating the city’s campaign finance law. Protect Our Police PAC, which poured money into Krasner challenger Carlos Vega’s campaign, missed filing deadlines on seven campaign finance reports and will pay a $12,000 fine. The city’s law requires PACs to disclose revenues, debts, and expenditures that influence the outcome of an election.
Rhode Island – Sen. Whitehouse, Under Scrutiny for Family Ties to Exclusive Beach Club, Says It Has Non-White Members
MSN – Colby Itkowitz (Washington Post) | Published: 6/23/2021
U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, who has come under scrutiny over his family’s ties to an exclusive beach club, said he checked and there is a “diversity in membership” with non-White members. Still, Whitehouse said, the attention to the issue made him reevaluate his other affiliations, and he found that a sailing club in Newport, Rhode Island, that he belongs to, which he did not name, is not diverse.
South Carolina – Uncovered: Some S.C. public officials got caught doing the wrong thing – with little or no consequences
Times and Democrat – Tony Bartelme (Charleston Post and Courier) | Published: 6/23/2021
An investigation by The Charleston Post and Courier found more than 1,100 educators, law enforcement officers, judges, and state employees in South Carolina violated ethics rules since 2018. These cases represent a gray zone of ethical breaches, cases that often do not make headlines. They can be found in the files of South Carolina’s many self-policing boards and panels, agencies such as the state Criminal Justice Academy, Department of Education, and Ethics Commission.
Washington DC – At Senate Committee, D.C. Statehood Is Debated Anew
MSN – Meagan Flynn (Washington Post) | Published: 6/22/2021
Proponents of statehood for the District of Columbia sought to counter arguments the idea is unconstitutional, urging a U.S. Senate committee to fulfill America’s founding principle of no taxation without representation in the nation’s capital. It was the first Senate committee hearing on statehood since 2014. The committee did not bring up the bill for a vote that year, but advocates are optimistic it may get one this year, even as the bill’s prospects are low in the full Senate.
Wisconsin – GOP Redistricting Put Fitzgerald Brothers – Who Live 13 Miles Apart – in Different Congressional Districts
La Crosse Tribune – Peter Cameron (The Badger Project) | Published: 6/20/2021
When Republican map-drawing in 2011 cemented the party’s dominance in the Wisconsin Legislature for the following decade, it also did something a bit more personal. Despite living very close to one another, the homes of Scott Fitzgerald, then the state Senate majority leader, and his younger brother Jeff Fitzgerald, then the Assembly speaker, were split from the same congressional district into separate ones. This allowed both to potentially serve in Congress without having to run against each other.
June 24, 2021 •
Campaign Finance National: “PAC Sues FEC for Dismissing Complaint Against Trump Campaign” by Samantha Hawkins for Courthouse News Service National: “Whitehouse Bolsters Push to Shine Light on ‘Dark Money’ at Supreme Court” by Todd Ruger (Roll Call) for MSN Alaska: […]
National: “PAC Sues FEC for Dismissing Complaint Against Trump Campaign” by Samantha Hawkins for Courthouse News Service
National: “Whitehouse Bolsters Push to Shine Light on ‘Dark Money’ at Supreme Court” by Todd Ruger (Roll Call) for MSN
Alaska: “APOC Fines Former GOP Alaska Rep. Pruitt for ‘Widespread, Serious’ Campaign Finance Violations” by Nathaniel Herz for Alaska Public Media
Arizona: “State Senate Wants to Investigate If Social Media Platforms Are Violating Campaign Finance Laws” by Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services) for Pinal Central
National: “States Across the Country Are Dropping Barriers to Voting, Widening a Stark Geographic Divide in Ballot Access” by Elise Viebeck (Washington Post) for MSN
Florida: “Top Florida Political Players Scrutinized in Artiles Case Ahead of August Trial” by Samantha Gross and Ana Ceballos for Miami Herald
New York: “Councilman Defeats Indicted Rochester Mayor in Dem. Primary” by Carolyn Thompson and Deepti Hajela (Associated Press) for Star Herald
Indiana: “2 More Plea Deals Reached in Muncie Corruption Case; Nichols Is Final Defendant” by Douglas Walker (Muncie Star Press) for MSN
Ohio: “Ohio Lobbyists Get Keycard Access to Capitol, State Buildings” by Jake Zuckerman for Ohio Capital Journal
State and Federal Communications, Inc. provides research and consulting services for government relations professionals on lobbying laws, procurement lobbying laws, political contribution laws in the United States and Canada. Learn more by visiting stateandfed.com.