October 5, 2021 •
Campaign Finance National: “Once a Hero, Oregon Congressional Candidate Funds Questioned” by Brian Slodysko (Associated Press) for ABC News Missouri: “Missouri Ethics Commission: Columbia Mayor Must Terminate Campaign Committee” by Stephanie Southey for Columbia Missourian Elections Michigan: “Gov. Whitmer Vetoes […]
National: “Once a Hero, Oregon Congressional Candidate Funds Questioned” by Brian Slodysko (Associated Press) for ABC News
Missouri: “Missouri Ethics Commission: Columbia Mayor Must Terminate Campaign Committee” by Stephanie Southey for Columbia Missourian
Michigan: “Gov. Whitmer Vetoes 4 Election Bills at NAACP Dinner, Says They Perpetuated ‘Big Lie’” by Clara Hendrickson (Detroit Free Press) for MSN
National: “U.S. Navy Hit by Another International Bribery Scandal” by Craig Whitlock (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “S.F. Ethics Commission Finds ‘Problematic’ Gifting at City Departments” by Lauren Hernández for MSN
Mississippi: “Mississippi Aid Program Gave Little Help to Renters, but Millions to a Top Law Firm” by Jonathan O’Connell and Yeganeh Torbati (Washington Post) for MSN
New Mexico: “NM Ethics Agency Seeks Expanded Staff, Jurisdiction” by Dan McKay for Albuquerque Journal
National: “Koch-Backed Group Fuels Opposition to School Mask Mandates, Leaked Letter Shows” by Isaac Stanley-Becker (Washington Post) for Seattle Times
October 4, 2021 •
Campaign Finance National: “Court Orders FEC to Rule on Complaints Against NRA’s Alleged Campaign Coordination Scheme” by Soo Rin Kim (ABC News) for MSN Florida: “DeSantis Says He’s Running. Where Are the Documents?” by Mary Ellen Klas (Miami Herald) for […]
National: “Court Orders FEC to Rule on Complaints Against NRA’s Alleged Campaign Coordination Scheme” by Soo Rin Kim (ABC News) for MSN
Florida: “DeSantis Says He’s Running. Where Are the Documents?” by Mary Ellen Klas (Miami Herald) for MSN
Georgia: “Giving Limit Rises to $7,600 for Georgia Political Donors” by Associated Press for MSN
Indiana: “Indiana Casino Exec and Former Republican Lawmaker Faces New Tax Fraud Charges” by Johnny Magdaleno (Indianapolis Star) for MSN
Maine: “Maine Ethics Commission Orders Investigation into Conservative Group’s Software System” by Scott Thistle (Portland Press Herald) for Government Technology
South Dakota: “Lawmakers, AG to Investigate Kristi Noem’s Meeting with State Employees, Daughter” by Zoe Strozewski (Newsweek) for MSN
Illinois: “Former City Club President in Texts to Mayor Lori Lightfoot: ‘ComEd duped me’ in bribery probe tied to Madigan” by Gregory Pratt, Jason Meisner, and Ray Long (Chicago Tribune) for MSN
Oregon: “People for Portland Co-Founder Accused of Two-Timing Powerful Business Group” by Shane Dixon Kavanaugh (Portland Oregonian) for MSN
October 1, 2021 •
The Georgia Campaign Finance Commission has voted to approve the biennial increase to contribution limits. The limit for statewide offices increased $600 up to $7,600 for each primary and general election and $400 up to $4,500 for each runoff. The […]
The Georgia Campaign Finance Commission has voted to approve the biennial increase to contribution limits.
The limit for statewide offices increased $600 up to $7,600 for each primary and general election and $400 up to $4,500 for each runoff.
The limit for other offices increased $200 up to $3,000 for each general and primary election and $100 up to $1,600 for each runoff.
These changes are effective immediately.
October 1, 2021 •
National/Federal As Districts Grow More Diverse, Congressional Outreach Does Too MSN – Michael Macagnone (Roll Call) | Published: 9/30/2021 Over the past decade, U.S. Rep. Katie Porter’s 45th District in Southern California grew to the largest by population in the state […]
As Districts Grow More Diverse, Congressional Outreach Does Too
MSN – Michael Macagnone (Roll Call) | Published: 9/30/2021
Over the past decade, U.S. Rep. Katie Porter’s 45th District in Southern California grew to the largest by population in the state and was 45 percent non-Hispanic white in 2020, down from 55 percent in 2010. The district is more than one quarter Asian, which has shaped how Porter reaches out to her constituents. For example, she often contacts local community groups and ethnic churches in efforts to share more information about federal programs.
As Redistricting Begins, States Tackle the Issue of ‘Prison Gerrymandering’
MSN – Emmanuel Felton (Washington Post) | Published: 9/28/2021
As lawmakers begin drawing lines for congressional and state legislative districts based on the 2020 Census, there is a key question facing these drafters: how to count the 2.3 million people housed in the nation’s jails and prisons. While inmates are not allowed to vote in 48 states, they count for the purposes of representation. For most of American history, counting inmates where they were imprisoned did not have a huge impact on political power and representation. But that changed when states began adopting tough-on-crime laws in the 1980s, leading to an era of mass incarcerations.
Biden White House Leans Toward Releasing Information About Trump and Jan. 6 Attack, Setting Off Legal and Political Showdown
MSN – Tom Hamburger and Jacqueline Alemany (Washington Post) | Published: 9/23/2021
The White House is leaning toward releasing information to Congress about what Donald Trump and his aides were doing during the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol despite the former president’s objections, a decision that could have significant ramifications. Trump has said he will cite “executive privilege” to block information requests from the House select committee investigating the events of that day, banking on a legal theory that has successfully allowed presidents and their aides to avoid or delay congressional scrutiny for decades. But the Biden White House plans to err on the side of disclosure given the gravity of the events.
Covert Postal Service Unit Probed Jan. 6 Social Media
Yahoo News – Betsy Woodruff Swann (Politico) | Published: 9/27/2021
In the days after the January 6 attack on the Capitol, an obscure arm of the U.S. Postal Service, the United States Postal Inspection Service’s Internet Covert Operations Program (iCOP) sent bulletins to law enforcement agencies around the country on how to view social media posts that had been deleted. Few Americans are aware the same organization that delivers their mail also runs a surveillance operation rooted in an agency that dates back to the 18th century. And iCOP’s involvement raises questions about how broad the mandate of the Postal Service’s policing arm has grown from its stated mission of keeping mail deliverers safe.
DNC to Host First In-Person Fundraiser of the Covid Era
Yahoo News – Caitlin Oprysko (Politico) | Published: 9/25/2021
Eighteen months into the pandemic, the Democratic National Committee held its first in-person, indoor fundraising events, turning to K Street to haul in cash ahead of the midterm cycle. For lobbyists who have been starved of facetime with party leaders, they can give $36,500, the maximum amount an individual or non-multi-candidate PAC can contribute to a national party committee. That donation brings with it a more intimate “private clutch,” according to the invitation. The hosting of an in-person event marks a return for Democrats to the usual method of raising cash after meeting with donors became confined to Zoom calls.
Fallout Begins for Far-Right Trolls Who Trusted Epik to Keep Their Identities Secret
Seattle Times – Drew Harwell, Hannah Allam, Jeremy Merrill, and Craig Timberg (Washington Post) | Published: 9/28/2021
In the real world, Joshua Alayon worked as a real estate agent in Pompano Beach, Florida. But online, data revealed by the massive hack of Epik, an Internet-services company popular with the far right, signaled a darker side. Alayon’s name and personal details were found on invoices suggesting he had once paid for websites with names such as racisminc.com and theholocaustisfake.com. The hacking group Anonymous exposed previously obscure details of far-right sites and launched a race among extremism researchers to identify the hidden promoters of online hate. After Alayon’s name appeared in the breached data, his brokerage firm dropped him as an agent.
FEC Debates Deadlocks and Dismissals
Investigative Reporting Workshop – Keith Newell | Published: 9/29/2021
Since its founding in 1974, the FEC has long been regarded as an ineffective agency, garnering criticism as a “toothless tiger” or a “tightly leashed watchdog.” The panel has a maximum of six members, with no more than three from one party. Since 2006, an increasingly high number of deadlocked votes result in dismissals of allegations of misconduct; deadlocks are effectively victories for the Republican commissioners. Party loyalty appears to be less important to commissioners than ideology.
House Jan. 6 Committee Issues Subpoenas for Pro-Trump Rally Organizers
MSN – Jacqueline Alemany, Tom Hamburger, and Carol Leonnig (Washington Post) | Published: 9/29/2021
The U.S. House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol issued subpoenas to 11 people associated with or involved in the planning of pro-Trump rallies that preceded the violent insurrection. The subpoenas come a week after it issued subpoenas targeting two top Trump White House officials, the chief of staff to the acting defense secretary, and longtime Trump adviser Stephen Bannon. The subpoenas may be able to shed light on the degree to which Donald Trump and his senior White House aides knew about their fears of chaos on January 6.
Ohio Men Sentenced to 45 Days Become First Jan. 6 Misdemeanor Defendants to Receive Jail Time
MSN – Spencer Hsu and Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) | Published: 9/29/2021
A court sentenced two Ohio men to serve 45 days in jail after federal prosecutors for the first-time requested incarceration at sentencing hearings for nonviolent misdemeanor offenders in the storming of the U.S. Capitol. The punishment comes after judges for months have questioned whether no-prison plea deals offered by the government to low-level January 6 defendants are too lenient to deter future attackers from terrorizing members of Congress.
Supreme Court Observers See Trouble Ahead as Public Approval of Justices Erodes
MSN – Robert Barnes and Seung Min Kim (Washington Post) | Published: 9/26/2021
On October 4, the U.S. Supreme Court will begin one of the most potentially divisive terms in years. Docketed cases concern gun control, separation of church and state, and the biggest showdown in decades on the constitutional right to an abortion. Meanwhile, a presidential commission studying the court is being bombarded with criticism from the left, and occasionally the right, that the justices are too political, too powerful, and serve for too long. “Not since Bush v. Gore has the public perception of the court’s legitimacy seemed so seriously threatened,” Georgetown Supreme Court Institute Executive Director Irv Gornstein said.
The FEC Unanimously Rejected a Trump Campaign Complaint Against Snapchat After the Social Media Site Removed the Former President’s Content from Its ‘Discover’ Feed
Yahoo News – Brian Metzger (Business Insider) | Published: 9/23/2021
The FEC dismissed a complaint made by former President Trump’s campaign against Snapchat, which it said had violated election laws by removing the campaign’s content from its curated “Discover” page. Snapchat announced in June 2020 it would no longer promote Trump’s content on the page, though it did not remove Trump’s account from the platform. The Trump campaign alleged Snapchat made an illegal contribution to Joe Biden by doing so.
There Are Just 9 Women Governors. Both Parties Want Change.
Yahoo News – Liz Crampton (Politico) | Published: 9/28/2021
Women now account for a third of state lawmakers, more than a quarter of the U.S. House and nearly as much of the U.S. Senate, but in many states have yet to shatter the highest glass ceiling: governorships. Today, just nine women hold the title, with power split among six Democrats and three Republicans. Four of those women took over the role by succession. There is growing urgency among leaders in both major parties around bolstering the chances of women running in the 2022 gubernatorial elections, when voters in 36 states will pick their next chief executive.
Trump Loses Case to Enforce Omarosa Manigault Newman’s N.D.A.
MSN – Maggie Haberman (New York Times) | Published: 9/28/2021
Former President Trump lost an effort to enforce a nondisclosure agreement against Omarosa Manigault Newman, a former White House aide and a star on “The Apprentice” who wrote a tell-all book about serving in his administration. The decision from an arbiter calls for her to collect legal fees from the Trump campaign. The campaign filed the case shortly after Manigault Newman published her book. It claimed she violated a nondisclosure agreement she had signed during the 2016 campaign stipulating she would not reveal private or confidential information about Trump’s family, business, or personal life.
Two Fed Officials Announce Retirements Amid Controversy Over Ethics and Stocktrading
MSN – Rachel Siegel (Washington Post) | Published: 9/27/2021
Two top Federal Reserve officials are leaving their posts amid scrutiny over their stock-trading activities during the coronavirus crisis, behavior which spurred an unusual review by the Fed of trading rules for its officials. Boston Federal Reserve Bank President Eric Rosengren and Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan both announced their retirements. Earlier, media outlets reported on the financial disclosures of the regional bank presidents, showing both actively traded in stocks and other investments while in their roles setting monetary policy and assisting the central bank through the covid crisis.
U.S. Supreme Court to Consider Senator Cruz’s Campaign Finance Challenge
Yahoo Finance – Andrew Chung (Reuters) | Published: 9/30/2021
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the FEC’s bid to restore a campaign finance law that limits the amount of money candidates can accept from donors after an election as they try to recoup the money they personally lent to their formal campaign organizations. A lower court ruling found the cap violates the Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of speech by unjustifiably burdening political expression. The law imposes a ceiling of $250,000 on payments from donations made after an election even if candidates made loans exceeding that sum.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – Arizona Recount Results Raise Stakes for GOP-Backed Ballot Reviews in Other States
MSN – Amy Gardner (Washington Post) | Published: 9/23/2021
A GOP-commissioned report that did not find evidence fraud tainted Arizona’s 2020 election has intensified the fight over similar partisan ballot reviews in Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin, with former President Trump pressing for such examinations and Democrats stepping up their efforts to block them. The outcome of the recount in Maricopa County, which concluded President Biden won the state’s largest county by even more votes than the certified results, raises the stakes for the Republican leaders who have gone along with Trump’s demands for “forensic audits” in other states.
California – Between the Lines: Hidden partisans try to influence California’s independent redistricting
MSN – Ben Christopher and Sameea Kamal (CalMatters) | Published: 9/28/2021
California congressional districts are drawn by an independent citizens commission, but it is hearing from candidates and party officials who do not disclose their partisan affiliations. Though the commission is prohibited from considering the electoral interests of elected officials, candidates, or political parties, there is nothing that bars any of those players from trying to influence the decisions, nor any laws or rules requiring public commenters to list potential conflicts-of-interest. But not disclosing a personal stake may cross an ethical line, said Jessica Levinson, a former member of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission.
California – California Is Now Permanently a Vote-by-Mail State as Gavin Newsom Signs Bill
MSN – Lara Korte (Sacramento Bee) | Published: 9/27/2021
California will now mail ballots to voters in all elections, extending a practice temporarily adopted during the pandemic to prevent the spread of the coronavirus at polling locations. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 37, which requires county elections officials to mail a ballot to every active registered voter for all elections, whether they request it or not. Voters can still choose to vote at physical polling locations, if they prefer.
California – California Treasurer Sued for Harassment Often Shared Overnight Lodging with Staffers
MSN – Sophia Bollag (Sacramento Bee) | Published: 9/28/2021
Treasurer Fiona Ma has frequently shared hotel rooms with her chief of staff during her tenure as California’s top banking official, a practice she said she engaged in “to save money,” according to expense reports. A review of travel documents found that sharing lodging with staff was a common practice for Ma, who is facing a lawsuit filed by a different employee, who no longer works in the office. The worker accused her of sexual harassment when the two women shared hotel rooms.
California – L.A. County Sheriff’s Unit Accused of Targeting Political Enemies
MSN – Alene Tchekmedyian (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 9/23/2021
A group of deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department make up a little-known team of investigators formed by Sheriff Alex Villanueva and other top sheriff’s officials. Much of what they do, by design, is a mystery to the public and even to most within the department. But as some of the investigations handled by the team have come to light, a common thread has emerged: their targets are outspoken critics of Villanueva or the department. Concern over the Civil Rights and Public Integrity Deta has caused consternation both inside and outside the department.
California – Oakland Issues Its Largest Ethics Fine Ever, Against a Corrupt Former Building Inspector
Oaklandside – David DeBolt | Published: 9/28/2021
The Oakland Public Ethics Commission issued a fine of $309,600 against a former city building inspector accused of accepting bribes from property owners in exchange for greenlighting inspections or issuing permits. It is by far the largest fine ever issued by the commission. Thomas Espinosa, the former specialty combination inspector in the city’s Planning and Building Department’s Code Enforcement Division, also convinced some property owners whose buildings he inspected to hire him as a contractor, the investigation found.
Colorado – An Elections Supervisor Embraced Conspiracy Theories. Officials Say She Has Become an Insider Threat.
MSN – Emma Brown (Washington Post) | Published: 9/26/2021
In a lawsuit filed by the Colorado secretary of state, Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters and her deputy have been accused of sneaking someone into the county elections offices to copy the hard drives of Dominion Voting Systems machines. Those copies later surfaced online and in the hands of election deniers. Local and state state prosecutors, and the FBI, are investigating whether criminal charges are warranted. The events represent an escalation in the attacks on the nation’s voting system, one in which officials who were responsible for election security allegedly took actions that undermined that security.
Colorado – Aurora City Council OKs Changes to Campaign Finance Law After Lawsuit from Mayor
Denver Gazette – Hannah Metzger | Published: 9/29/2021
The Aurora City Council approved changes to its campaign finance law after a court ruled in favor of Mayor Mike Coffman, who sued the city over provisions he claimed violated his freedom of speech. The lawsuit argued the measure, passed by the council in 2020, prohibited former and future candidates from pushing for ballot issues or helping other candidates with their campaigns, which Coffman said was intended to prevent his supporters from mobilizing in support of other candidates.
Colorado – Ex-Colorado GOP Chair Disbarred in Pro-Trump PAC Funds Case
MSN – Associated Press | Published: 9/23/2021
Former Colorado Republican Party Chairperson Ryan Call will be disbarred after acknowledging he took nearly $280,000 from a super PAC supporting former President Trump while Call served as the PAC’s treasurer. Call admitted to entering the Rebuilding America Now PAC into a secret contract to pay himself $5,000 a month for “political strategy and fundraising support” and he misled members of his former law firm about his activities with the committee.
Colorado – Newly Revealed Interactions Added to Redistricting Lobbying Complaint
Colorado Politics – Evan Wyloge | Published: 9/27/2021
A complaint filed against a group of Republican political consultants and lobbyists, accusing them of failing to file proper redistricting lobbying disclosure, grew larger when the complainant added new interactions between the complaint targets and Colorado’s redistricting commissioners. The complaint accused consultant Alan Philp of failing to file lobbying disclosure reports and accused former House speaker and now-lobbyist Frank McNulty and lobbyist Greg Brophy of failing to register and report their interactions with commissioners. All three work for Colorado Neighborhood Coalition, a nonprofit that does not disclose its donors.
Hawaii – Years Before Indictments, Honolulu Permitting Department Was Warned About Corrupt Culture
Honolulu Civil Beat – Christina Jedra | Published: 9/29/2021
The Honolulu Ethics Commission investigated the Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP) several times after it received numerous complaints about a “pay-to-play” culture at the department, records show. Taken as a whole, the records foreshadow the scandal that erupted earlier this year. In March, five current and former DPP employees, along with a local architect, were indicted for bribery schemes going back as far as 2012. The commission told DPP leadership about its concerns several times.
Illinois – Former Ald. Ricardo Muñoz Pleads Guilty to Spending Campaign Funds on Sports, Travel and Other Personal Items
MSN – Madeline Buckley (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 9/27/2021
Former Chicago Ald. Ricardo Muñoz pleaded guilty to spending cash from a political fund on personal items such as sports tickets, meals, and travel. Muñoz pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering. Federal prosecutors alleged Muñoz stole from a PAC formed by the Chicago Progressive Reform Caucus (CPRC), where he served as chairperson and performed the duties of its treasurer. Prosecutors accused him of moving funds from the CPRC into another fund he controlled, Citizens for Muñoz, and then into his personal checking account.
Illinois – Obscenity Ruling? State’s Top Court to Hear Case Seeking to End Pols Using ‘Obscene Amounts’ of Campaign Cash to Pay Lawyers
Chicago Sun-Times – Rachel Hinton | Published: 9/29/2021
The state’s top court plans to rule on the question of whether politicians can dip into their campaign funds to pay for their criminal defense or other legal troubles, a decision that could directly affect the embattled husband of Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Anne Burke. She recused herself from the decision to take the case and from hearing it once it comes before the justices. Her husband, Ald. Edward Burke (14th), has already spent nearly $2 million in campaign contributions on legal fees since federal agents raided his ward headquarters.
Maryland – Baltimore’s Revamped Ethics Board Says It’s Ready to Provide Guidance to City Employees
Baltimore Sun – Emily Opilo | Published: 9/28/2021
Baltimore’s long underutilized Board of Ethics began issuing advisory opinions for the first time in three years in 2021 and has seen its web traffic triple, according to the panel’s annual report. The report, which is itself the first annual recap from the board since 2014, details a restructuring of the Board of Ethics since it was moved under the supervision of the Office of the Inspector General, a move that became effective last October. Since then, the board has been staffed by a full-time director and administrative assistant who established an ethics hotline and revamped the city’s ethics training process for city employees and elected officials.
Michigan – Detroit Councilman Andre Spivey Admits He Took Bribes for Help with Towing
MSN – Joe Guillen (Detroit Free Press) | Published: 9/28/2021
Andre Spivey became the second Detroit City Council member this year to plead guilty to a public corruption charge, admitting he took $35,900 in bribes from an undercover law enforcement agent and a confidential FBI source in exchange for wielding his political influence. Spivey accepted the bribes in exchange for his assistance with a pending vehicle towing ordinance before the council, he said in court. The bribes were paid over the course of eight separate meetings with the confidential FBI source, most of which were recorded.
New Hampshire – NH Supreme Court Asked to Define Governor’s Executive Privilege
MSN – Kevin Landrigan (Manchester Union Leader) | Published: 9/28/2021
Both sides in a legal dispute over open records asked the state’s highest court, for the first time, to spell out when New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu can claim executive privilege to keep documents secret. Activist Louise Spencer sued Sununu’s office over email contacts his staffers had with a national Republican PAC before and after Sununu vetoed a 2019 bill to create an independent redistricting commission. The suit maintained that the governor’s office should not be exempt from the state’s Right-to-Know Law.
New Mexico – Ethics Board Hands Gonzales a Reprimand and $2,000 Fine
Albuquerque Journal – Oliver Uyttebrouck | Published: 9/24/2021
The Albuquerque Board of Ethics and Campaign Practices imposed a $2,000 fine and a public reprimand on Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales, finding his mayoral campaign submitted 16 forged documents in his bid for public financing. The finding punctuates an unsuccessful monthslong quest by Gonzales to obtain more than $600,000 in public campaign financing. That effort foundered on a pair of complaints centered on the five-dollar qualifying contributions that candidates must collect from city voters to qualify for public money.
New York – MTA Bus Boss Covered License Plate to Avoid Tolls, Had $100k in Outstanding Fines: Watchdog
Yahoo News – Clayton Guse (New York Daily News) | Published: 9/27/2021
A New York City Transit superintendent used a plastic license plate cover to dodge tolls for years across New York, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) inspector general said. The superintendent, identified as Aditya Samaroo, bragged to his colleagues he avoided paying tolls on bridges and tunnels by obscuring his license plate. Samaroo also dodged more than $100,000 in outstanding tolls and late fees by regularly swapping out his car’s license plates.
Ohio – Ohio Governor Lobbyist Resigns; Was Linked to Bribery Probe
MSN – Julie Carr Smyth (Associated Press) | Published: 9/24/2021
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s top lobbyist, a man linked to an ongoing federal bribery probe but never charged, resigned after three years on the job. Legislative Director Dan McCarthy cited “the pace and grind” of the job. Federal prosecutors charged five individuals with orchestrating a $60 million bribery scheme to assure the 2019 passage of a bill bailing out two nuclear power plants. The power plants were operated at the time by a wholly owned subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp. McCarthy is a former FirstEnergy lobbyist who was president of one of the “dark money” groups that has been implicated in the alleged bribery scheme.
Pennsylvania – A Leading Addiction Recovery Reformer in Philly Was on the Payroll of a Rehab Center Now Charged with Crimes
MSN – Jeremy Roebuck and Aubrey Wilson (Philadelphia Inquirer) | Published: 9/27/2021
Fred Way has spent the last decade working to improve addiction recovery houses in Philadelphia. But for much of that time, he was on the payroll of a rehabilitation facility now accused of encouraging their worst abuses. He has advised lawmakers on state policy, and the recovery-house certification program created by his nonprofit, the Pennsylvania Alliance of Recovery Residences, serves as the only benchmark for judging the quality of housing in Philadelphia for people in early recovery, and for determining which of those homes will receive coveted city funds. In a state grand jury report this summer, Wray acknowledged taking money from a drug rehab facility under criminal investigation.
South Dakota – As Daughter Sought State License, Noem Summoned Agency Head
Yahoo News – Stephen Groves (Associated Press) | Published: 9/27/2021
Days after a South Dakota agency moved to deny her daughter’s application to become a certified real estate appraiser, Gov. Kristi Noem summoned to her office the state employee who ran the agency, the woman’s direct supervisor, and the state labor secretary. Noem’s daughter also attended. Kassidy Peters ultimately obtained the certification in November 2020, four months after the meeting at her mother’s office. A week after that, the labor secretary called the agency head, Sherry Bren, to demand her retirement, according to an age discrimination complaint. Bren left her job after the state paid her $200,000 to withdraw the complaint.
Texas – Dallas Needs More Oversight and Stronger Ethics Rules, Review Finds
Dallas Morning News – Everton Bailey Jr. | Published: 9/27/2021
Dallas needs a department solely dedicated to investigating misconduct complaints to ensure they are properly handled, according to a report calling for ethics reforms. The city should create an Office of Inspector General and appoint a licensed attorney role who would find, investigate. and issue rulings on cases of alleged fraud, waste, abuse, campaign finance violations and other ethics misconduct, the report said. The move would replace the current process, where complaints are funneled through different channels and not independently investigated.
Texas – ”Home Cooking’ Concerns Revealed in Corruption Prosecutions Outside Texas Capital
KXAN – David Barer and Josh Hinkle | Published: 9/20/2021
The Public Integrity Unit housed in the Travis County District Attorney’s Office was dismantled in 2015, following allegations it was politicizing prosecutions. Texas lawmakers aimed to reform the system by moving state public corruption investigations to the Department of Public Safety’s Texas Rangers and prosecuting accused officials in their home counties rather than Travis County. Six years later, a media investigation found prosecutions of statewide public officials for corruption are nearly non-existent. Since 2015, the Rangers investigated a handful of state-level elected leaders, but few faced charges.
Texas – Texas Appears to Be Paying a Secretive Republican Political Operative $120,000 Annually to Work Behind the Scenes on Redistricting
MSN – Alexa Ura (Texas Tribune) | Published: 9/29/2021
A Republican redistricting operative whose clandestine work helped drag Wisconsin into a legal morass last decade appears to now be on the payroll of the Texas Legislature as lawmakers work to redraw maps that will determine the distribution of political power for years to come. The operative, Adam Foltz, was part of the team that helped craft Wisconsin’s legislative maps after Republicans took control of that state Legislature in 2010. Foltz played a key role in a tight-lipped and questionable redrawing process that shut out Democrats and drew the condemnation of federal judges who described it as “needlessly secret,” according to court records.
Washington – Weekly WA Newspaper Fined $15,000 for Selling Election Coverage
Crosscut – Melissa Santos | Published: 9/28/2021
The Tacoma Weekly agreed to pay a $15,000 fine for telling candidates last year they could buy a news story, and even the newspaper’s editorial endorsement, as part of a $2,500 advertising package. Accepting money in exchange for story placement or positive coverage goes against journalistic standards of ethics. But beyond that, it also violates Washington state law, which forbids news outlets from soliciting money in exchange for “an endorsement, article, or other communication in the news media promoting or opposing a candidate.”
September 30, 2021 •
Campaign Finance National: “FEC Debates Deadlocks and Dismissals” by Keith Newell for Investigative Reporting Workshop Elections National: “There Are Just 9 Women Governors. Both Parties Want Change.” by Liz Crampton (Politico) for Yahoo News Ethics National: “Fallout Begins for Far-Right […]
National: “FEC Debates Deadlocks and Dismissals” by Keith Newell for Investigative Reporting Workshop
National: “There Are Just 9 Women Governors. Both Parties Want Change.” by Liz Crampton (Politico) for Yahoo News
National: “Fallout Begins for Far-Right Trolls Who Trusted Epik to Keep Their Identities Secret” by Drew Harwell, Hannah Allam, Jeremy Merrill, and Craig Timberg (Washington Post) for Seattle Times
California: “California Treasurer Sued for Harassment Often Shared Overnight Lodging with Staffers” by Sophia Bollag (Sacramento Bee) for MSN
Hawaii: “Years Before Indictments, Honolulu Permitting Department Was Warned About Corrupt Culture” by Christina Jedra for Honolulu Civil Beat
Maryland: “Baltimore’s Revamped Ethics Board Says It’s Ready to Provide Guidance to City Employees” by Emily Opilo for Baltimore Sun
Michigan: “Detroit Councilman Andre Spivey Admits He Took Bribes for Help with Towing” by Joe Guillen (Detroit Free Press) for MSN
New Hampshire: “NH Supreme Court Asked to Define Governor’s Executive Privilege” by Kevin Landrigan (Manchester Union Leader) for MSN
California: “Between the Lines: Hidden partisans try to influence California’s independent redistricting” by Ben Christopher and Sameea Kamal (CalMatters) for MSN
September 29, 2021 •
Campaign Finance Illinois: “Former Ald. Ricardo Muñoz Pleads Guilty to Spending Campaign Funds on Sports, Travel and Other Personal Items” by Madeline Buckley (Chicago Tribune) for MSN Elections California: “California Is Now Permanently a Vote-by-Mail State as Gavin Newsom Signs […]
Illinois: “Former Ald. Ricardo Muñoz Pleads Guilty to Spending Campaign Funds on Sports, Travel and Other Personal Items” by Madeline Buckley (Chicago Tribune) for MSN
California: “California Is Now Permanently a Vote-by-Mail State as Gavin Newsom Signs Bill” by Lara Korte (Sacramento Bee) for MSN
National: “Two Fed Officials Announce Retirements Amid Controversy Over Ethics and Stocktrading” by Rachel Siegel (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Trump Loses Case to Enforce Omarosa Manigault Newman’s N.D.A.” by Maggie Haberman (New York Times) for MSN
California: “Oakland Issues Its Largest Ethics Fine Ever, Against a Corrupt Former Building Inspector” by David DeBolt for Oaklandside
Texas: “Dallas Needs More Oversight and Stronger Ethics Rules, Review Finds” by Everton Bailey Jr. for Dallas Morning News
Colorado: “Newly Revealed Interactions Added to Redistricting Lobbying Complaint” by Evan Wyloge for Colorado Politics
National: “As Redistricting Begins, States Tackle the Issue of ‘Prison Gerrymandering’” by Emmanuel Felton (Washington Post) for MSN
September 28, 2021 •
Campaign Finance National: “The FEC Unanimously Rejected a Trump Campaign Complaint Against Snapchat After the Social Media Site Removed the Former President’s Content from Its ‘Discover’ Feed” by Brian Metzger (Business Insider) for Yahoo News Colorado: “Ex-Colorado GOP Chair Disbarred […]
National: “The FEC Unanimously Rejected a Trump Campaign Complaint Against Snapchat After the Social Media Site Removed the Former President’s Content from Its ‘Discover’ Feed” by Brian Metzger (Business Insider) for Yahoo News
Colorado: “Ex-Colorado GOP Chair Disbarred in Pro-Trump PAC Funds Case” by Associated Press for MSN
Colorado: “An Elections Supervisor Embraced Conspiracy Theories. Officials Say She Has Become an Insider Threat.” by Emma Brown (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Covert Postal Service Unit Probed Jan. 6 Social Media” by Betsy Woodruff Swann (Politico) for Yahoo News
National: “Supreme Court Observers See Trouble Ahead as Public Approval of Justices Erodes” by Robert Barnes and Seung Min Kim (Washington Post) for MSN
Pennsylvania: “A Leading Addiction Recovery Reformer in Philly Was on the Payroll of a Rehab Center Now Charged with Crimes” by Jeremy Roebuck and Aubrey Wilson (Philadelphia Inquirer) for MSN
South Dakota: “As Daughter Sought State License, Noem Summoned Agency Head” by Stephen Groves (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
Texas: “”Home Cooking’ Concerns Revealed in Corruption Prosecutions Outside Texas Capital” by David Barer and Josh Hinkle for KXAN
September 27, 2021 •
Campaign Finance National: “DNC to Host First In-Person Fundraiser of the Covid Era” by Caitlin Oprysko (Politico) for Yahoo News New Mexico: “Ethics Board Hands Gonzales a Reprimand and $2,000 Fine” by Oliver Uyttebrouck for Albuquerque Journal Washington: “Tacoma News […]
National: “DNC to Host First In-Person Fundraiser of the Covid Era” by Caitlin Oprysko (Politico) for Yahoo News
New Mexico: “Ethics Board Hands Gonzales a Reprimand and $2,000 Fine” by Oliver Uyttebrouck for Albuquerque Journal
Washington: “Tacoma News Outlet Fined for Soliciting Cash in Exchange for News Coverage of Candidates” by Staff for Tacoma News Tribune
Arizona: “Arizona Recount Results Raise Stakes for GOP-Backed Ballot Reviews in Other States” by Amy Gardner (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Biden White House Leans Toward Releasing Information About Trump and Jan. 6 Attack, Setting Off Legal and Political Showdown” by Tom Hamburger and Jacqueline Alemany (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “L.A. County Sheriff’s Unit Accused of Targeting Political Enemies” by Alene Tchekmedyian (Los Angeles Times) for MSN
Ohio: “Ohio Governor Lobbyist Resigns; Was Linked to Bribery Probe” by Julie Carr Smyth (Associated Press) for MSN
National: “Without Congressional Action, States Start Drawing New Maps” by Michael Macagnone (Roll Call) for MSN
September 24, 2021 •
National/Federal A Republican Fundraising Vendor Wants More Small-Dollar Contributors to Replace Vanishing PAC Money Campaigns and Elections – Staff | Published: 9/22/2021 A large Republican fundraising vendor is pushing its clients to reorient their strategies around small-dollar contributors as PAC donations […]
A Republican Fundraising Vendor Wants More Small-Dollar Contributors to Replace Vanishing PAC Money
Campaigns and Elections – Staff | Published: 9/22/2021
A large Republican fundraising vendor is pushing its clients to reorient their strategies around small-dollar contributors as PAC donations have dried up in the wake of the January 6 insurrection and a move away from Washington, D.C. lobbying by corporations and trade associations. Fundraising Inc., a vendor that is under the Axiom Strategies corporate umbrella, announced it has “revamped the traditional PAC-focused GOP fundraising model” to an “updated approach … to better compete with Democrats for small-dollar donations.”
Dark News: The murky world of undercover EU lobbying
Politico – Mark Scott | Published: 9/16/2021
EU Reporter is not alone in offering companies and governments a paid-for platform to promote their views to European Union officials. Other Brussels-based outlets publish clearly labeled sponsored content from advertisers seeking to influence decision-makers. But EU Reporter presents its coverage as straight news, with rarely an indication that a company or government paid for the articles. In addition to undisclosed paid-for content, the site posts EU and corporate press releases, opinion articles from European lawmakers, and original material, making it impossible for readers to determine who is behind the coverage.
Democrats Begin Effort to Curb Post-Trump Presidential Powers
Yahoo Finance – Charlie Savage (New York Times) | Published: 9/21/2021
House Democrats introduced a package of proposed new limits on executive power on, beginning a post-Trump push to strengthen checks on the presidency that they hope will compare to the overhauls that followed the Watergate scandal and the Vietnam War. Democrats have spent months negotiating with the Biden White House to refine a broad set of proposals that amount to a point-by-point rebuke of the ways Donald Trump shattered norms over the course of his presidency. The Democrats have compiled numerous bills into a package they call the Protecting Our Democracy Act.
Durham Prosecution Faces Hurdles in D.C. Court
Yahoo News – Josh Gerstein (Politico) | Published: 9/17/2021
For Special Counsel John Durham, obtaining an indictment of lawyer Michael Sussmann for allegedly lying to the FBI during its investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia may turn out to be the easy part. Getting a Washington jury to convict Sussmann could be far harder, judging by a case with significant parallels: the 2019 prosecution of former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig.
Huge Hack Reveals Embarrassing Details of Who’s Behind Proud Boys and Other Far-Right Websites
MSN – Drew Harwell, Craig Timberg, and Hannah Allam (Washington Post) | Published: 9/21/2021
Epik has been the favorite Internet company of the far right, providing domain services to QAnon theorists, Proud Boys, and other instigators of the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, allowing them to broadcast hateful messages from behind a veil of anonymity. But that veil vanished when a breach by the hacker group Anonymous dumped more than 150 gigabytes of previously private data – including usernames, passwords, and other identifying information of Epik’s customers. Researchers have treated the leak as a Rosetta Stone to the far right, helping them to decode who has been doing what with whom over several years.
‘It’s Spreading’: Phony election fraud conspiracies infect midterms
MSN – David Siders and Zach Montellaro (Politico) | Published: 9/20/2021
Donald Trump may have started the “Big Lie” movement, but what was once the province of an aggrieved former president has spread far beyond him, infecting elections at every level with vague, unspecified claims that future races are already rigged. It is a fiction that is poised to factor heavily in the midterm elections and in 2024, providing Republican candidates with a rallying cry for the rank-and-file and priming the electorate for future challenges to races the GOP may lose.
Jan. 6 Investigation Accelerates as It Turns Toward Trump
Yahoo News – Kyle Cheney and Nicholas Wu (Politico) | Published: 9/22/2021
Six members of the U.S. House panel investigating the Capitol attack made clear they are prepared to fly past any obstacles they encounter, mindful of Trump’s past success at stymieing congressional investigators. The calendar makes their job tougher: panel members know they need to show results quickly as the midterms bear down, given Democrats’ thin majority. The potential hurdles are many, from high-powered lawyers representing the former president’s inner circle to the tech companies sitting on potential witnesses’ communications. But they are already getting results from some corners.
Lauren Boebert Paid Rent and Utilities with Campaign Funds, FEC Filings Show
Denver Post – Conrad Swanson | Published: 9/22/2021
U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert paid rent and utility bills with campaign funds in violation of federal campaign finance laws, new filings with the FEC show. The filings also indicate Boebert reimbursed her campaign for the $6,650 worth of payments. Each of the four payments in question (two for $2,000 each and another two for $1,325 each) were amended to show payments for the same amount, description, and on the same days to John Pacheco, whose address is the same as Shooters Grill in Rifle, which Boebert owns. Pacheco’s relationship to Boebert was not immediately clear.
Lawmakers Launch Investigation into Climate Crisis Disinformation by Fossil Fuel Industry
MSN – Ella Nilsen (CNN) | Published: 9/16/2021
The House Oversight and Reform Committee announced it is launching an investigation into fossil fuel industry disinformation on the climate crisis. The committee invited the heads of six oil companies and major lobbying groups to testify in October. The announcement comes after reports the industry participated in campaigns aimed at creating confusion about the cause of the climate crisis, or sowing skepticism in the science.
Outside Ethics Group Says 7 House Lawmakers Didn’t Disclose Stock Trades
National Public Radio – Deidre Walsh | Published: 9/22/2021
The Campaign Legal Center filed ethics complaints against seven U.S. House members for failing to report stock trades. It is the latest example of a bipartisan trend that has emerged almost 10 years after Congress overwhelmingly passed a law to provide transparency and show lawmakers are not profiting from their jobs: Members of Congress are ignoring the disclosure law. What makes the complaints filed Wednesday different is that it appears these members never filed reports at all.
Powell Orders Ethics Review After Fed Presidents Disclosed Multimillion-Dollar Investments
CNBC – Thomas Franck | Published: 9/16/2021
Federal Reserve Chairperson Jerome Powell directed staff to review the central bank’s ethics rules for appropriate financial activities after disclosures that several senior officials made multiple multimillion-dollar stock trades in 2020, while others held significant investments. News of Powell’s inquiry broke after U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren sent 12 letters to the Fed’s regional bank presidents demanding stricter ethics from the nation’s top central bank officials. She called on each Fed president to institute a ban on the ownership and trading of individual stocks by senior officials at each regional office.
Roger Stone Served ‘a Big, Big Stack of Papers’ from Capitol Riot Lawsuit During Radio Interview
Seattle Times – Timothy Bella (Washington Post) | Published: 9/16/2021
As he was asked in a phone interview whether former President Trump would run in 2024, Roger Stone paused to answer the front door. Stone, a longtime confidant to the former president, apologized to the St. Louis radio show, but he had a good reason: he was being served with papers related to the lawsuit filed by seven U.S. Capitol Police officers against him, Trump, far-right “violent extremist groups,” and others accused of being responsible for the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
The FEC Unanimously Rejected Matt Gaetz’s Complaint Against Twitter Over an Alleged 2018 ‘Shadow Ban’
Yahoo News – Brian Metzger (Business Insider) | Published: 9/17/2021
The FEC unanimously rejected a complaint by U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz against Twitter that alleged the company violated campaign finance regulations by “shadow-banning” Gaetz in 2018, limiting the visibility of his account on the website’s search results. Twitter said Gaetz was caught up in an automated process by the company to improve discourse on Twitter because his account was “associated with other accounts that already had high indicia of misuse or abuse.”
Threats Against Members of Congress Are Skyrocketing. It’s Changing the Job.
Yahoo News – Sarah Wire (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 9/20/2021
In a year that kicked off with the deadly January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, threats against lawmakers are soaring. In the first three months of 2021, the Capitol Police recorded 4,135 threats against members of Congress. If that pace continues, total threats this year will double those in 2020. It is changing the job for lawmakers, who must tread a fine line between being accessible to those they represent and keeping themselves, their families, and their staffs safe. After January 6, some members temporarily relocated their families over concerns their homes would be targeted. Some wore bulletproof vests to the presidential inauguration.
Trump Campaign Knew Lawyers’ Voting Machine Claims Were Baseless, Memo Shows
Yahoo News – Alan Feuer (New York Times) | Published: 9/21/2021
A team of lawyers allied with Donald Trump held a news conference after the 2020 election and laid out a conspiracy theory claiming a voting machine company had worked with an election software firm, the financier George Soros, and Venezuela to steal the presidential contest from Trump. But by the time the news conference occurred on November 19, Trump’s campaign had already prepared an internal memo on many of the outlandish claims about the company, Dominion Voting Systems, and the separate software company, Smartmatic, according to court documents The memo determined those allegations were untrue.
Trump Just Sued the New York Times and His Niece. If History Is a Guide, He Probably Won’t Win.
MSN – Paul Farhi and Sarah Ellison (Washington Post) | Published: 9/22/2021
Donald Trump has once again sued a news organization alleging its reporting was unfair to him. If history is any guide, this one is also likely to generate a flurry of attention before quietly stalling out. Trump’s latest lawsuit is aimed at the New York Times and his niece, Mary Trump. It centers on the newspaper’s publication in 2018 of a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation of Trump’s alleged tax-avoidance tactics and the history of his family inheritance.
Two GOP Operatives Indicted for Allegedly Routing Money from Russian National to Support Trump Campaign
MSN – Felicia Sonmez and Isaac Stanley-Becker (Washington Post) | Published: 9/20/2021
President Trump after being convicted in a 2012 campaign finance scheme is facing new charges related to an alleged 2016 plot to illegally funnel donations made by a Russian national to support then-candidate Trump’s White House bid. Jesse Benton, who was previously a top aide to U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and later ran a pro-Trump super PAC, and Roy Wead, a conservative author and former special assistant to President George H.W. Bush, were charged in the case.
Canada – Trudeau’s Party Wins Canada Vote but Fails to Get Majority
MSN – Rob Gilles (Associated Press) | Published: 9/21/2021
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party secured victory in parliamentary elections but failed to get the majority in a vote that focused on the coronavirus pandemic, but many Canadians saw as unnecessary. Trudeau entered the election leading a stable minority government that was not under threat of being toppled but was hoping Canadians would reward him with a majority for navigating the pandemic better than many other leaders. Still, Trudeau struggled to justify why he called the election early given the virus, and the opposition accused him of holding the vote two years before the deadline for his own ambition.
From the States and Municipalities
Alabama – Candidates Will Not Be Able to Fundraise During the Special Session
Alabama Reporter – Brandon Moseley | Published: 9/23/2021
Alabama legislators will convene for a special session on September 27. This means state lawmakers, candidates for the Legislature, and statewide officeholders and candidates for statewide office will not be able to accept campaign contributions. The secretary of state’s office said any contribution postmarked prior to the blackout and received after the blackout may be accepted.
Alaska – Protect Juneau’s Future Shared Who Paid for Its Campaign, but No Laws Require It
KTOO – Jeremy Hsieh | Published: 9/21/2021
A deadline passed for local candidates and issues groups all over the state to disclose their campaign finances ahead of local elections on October 5. But the public probably will never know exactly who paid how much for the campaign that helped quash a ballot initiative to limit cruise ships in Juneau. That is because campaign finance disclosure laws would not apply in this case until after it cleared the signature-gathering stage.
California – Kern County Under Investigation After Denying Group COVID Contract Over Support for Defunding Police
Yahoo News – Sam Morgen (Bakersfield Californian) | Published: 9/22/2021
Kern County may end up paying for a decision by the board of supervisors to withhold a $1.2 million coronavirus contract from a nonprofit group that had voiced support for defunding police. The nonprofits were selected because of their community ties. The Kern County Public Health Department said the groups would be a more trusted resource to communities at the greatest risk than county officials. Building Healthy Communities said in Facebook posts funding for the Bakersfield Police Department and the Kern High School District Police Department should be diverted to other causes. That was enough for supervisors to withhold approval of a contract to the organization even though preparation and hiring had already taken place.
Florida – A Local Government Candidate Claimed to Be the City’s ‘Most High-Profile Hispanic Democrat.’ She’s Not Hispanic.
MSN – Jaclyn Peiser (Washington Post) | Published: 9/22/2021
Speaking before a group of Democratic leaders in Florida’s Miami-Dade County on Zoom, Miami Beach City Commission candidate Kristen Rosen Gonzalez made her pitch as to why the party should endorse her. She called herself “the most high-profile Hispanic Democrat in the city of Miami Beach.” Not endorsing her, she continued, “would be upsetting and confusing” for constituents. But Rosen Gonzalez is not Hispanic.
Florida – Anti-Mask FL GOP Bookkeeper Dies of COVID – Leaving Party Without Access to Finance Software
MSN – Brett Bachnman (Salon) | Published: 9/19/2021
After spending months railing against COVID-19 precautions, a Republican Party official in Florida passed away recently, leaving his county-level GOP organization without access to critical financial accounts. Gregg Prentice served as accountant for the Hillsborough County GOP and chaired the organization’s committee for election integrity, and was responsible for filing its monthly reports to the FEC. A filing claims Prentice died without sharing login information for these accounts, or any sort of instructions for how to use them.
Florida – Senate Redistricting Chair Vows to Redeem Process as He Plans to Limit Public’s Input
MSN – Mary Ellen Klas (Miami Herald) | Published: 9/20/2021
The Florida Senate announced new rules that put limits on the input the chamber gets from average citizens, political consultants, and lobbyists. The Senate will require more disclosure from anyone who attempts to address legislators in a public meeting by requiring them to submit a disclosure form that indicates if they are a lobbyist or getting their expenses paid. Legislators will be required to retain all records of communications they get about maps. The goal is to prevent lawmakers from using political consultants to illegally influence redistricting as they did 10 years ago, when the courts invalidated the legislatively drawn Senate maps.
Florida – Tallahassee Ethics Board Proposing Stronger Lobbying Ordinances, Expanded Role
MSN – Karl Etters (Tallahassee Democrat) | Published: 9/17/2021
The Tallahassee Independent Ethics Board wants to strengthen policies governing lobbyists as the glare of a federal corruption probe and investigative reporters have illuminated paid work and deal-making done behind the scenes on projects and policies. The board is recommending two ordinances and one change to the city charter that requires a ballot amendment in language sent to the city commission. The ethics panel has been working for months to add more teeth to its role in regulating lobbying in the city.
Georgia – Fulton Board Gets New Chair as Georgia Reviews Its Elections
Yahoo News – Kate Brumback (Associated Press) | Published: 9/16/2021
Commissioners in Fulton County picked former Atlanta City Council President to lead their election board as a state panel reviews how elections are conducted in Georgia’s most populous county. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican facing a primary challenge next year, objected to what he called a “blatantly political appointment” because Woolard had registered earlier this year as a lobbyist for Fair Fight Action, a group started by Stacey Abrams, a Democrat who narrowly lost the race for governor in 2018.
Illinois – Sources Say Chicago Ald. Jim Gardiner Allegedly Tried to Pay Campaign Worker with Tax Dollars
WBEZ – Mariah Woelfel | Published: 9/19/2021
Chicago Ald. Jim Gardiner allegedly tried to use taxpayer funds to pay an employee for work they did on his 2020 campaign for ward committeeman, sources said. It is the latest allegation to unfold as Gardiner is facing inquiries by multiple agencies, including the FBI, and possible censure by his city council colleagues for crude texts he wrote about constituents and colleagues, as well as allegedly withholding city services from critics.
Indiana – Longest Serving State Senator Forced Out of His Seat in Redistricting Process: ‘This is a classic example of gerrymandering.’
Chicago Daily Herald – Alexandra Kukulka (Post-Tribune) | Published: 9/22/2021
Frank Mrvan, the longest serving member of the Indiana Senate, has been effectively forced out of his seat after the redrawing of Senate maps would require him to move or run against a colleague. “This is a classic example of gerrymandering,” said Lake County Democratic Party Chairperson James Wieser. “It’s disrespectful to a public official that’s given his heart and soul, as has his whole family, to our party for 50 years plus.”
Massachusetts – Ex-Mayor, Elected at Age 23, Gets 6 Years in Corruption Case
Yahoo News – Alanna Durkin Richer (Associated Press) | Published: 9/21/2021
Former Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia was sentenced to six years in prison after being convicted of extorting hundreds of thousands of dollars from marijuana businesses that wanted to operate in his city. The judge handed down his punishment after tossing several convictions stemming from allegations that Correia swindled investors who backed a smartphone app he created. “If we can’t trust each other, if we can’t trust our government, where are we?” U.S. District Court Judge Douglas Woodlock asked.
Michigan – Facing Tight Timeline, Voter-Led Michigan Redistricting Commission on Steep Learning Curve
MSN – Clara Hendrickson (Detroit Free Press) | Published: 9/20/2021
Michigan’s first-ever citizen redistricting commission is finding itself on a steep learning curve as members race against the clock to draw new maps ahead of the 2022 election, crunching a monthslong process into a matter of weeks following an unprecedented delay in census data. The Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission blew past a deadline in the state constitution for proposing the new districts. But with four weeks of mapping under its belt, the commissioners, who have never drawn political districts before, have raised concerns the group might not get the job done in the time it has allotted for itself.
Missouri – Lawmakers Renting from Lobbyists Less Often in Jefferson City
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Jack Suntrup | Published: 9/16/2021
Lobbyists are no longer leasing housing to Missouri lawmakers in Jefferson City, with one exception. State Rep. Adam Schwadron is the only legislator renting from a registered lobbyist, according to disclosures filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission. Leases between lobbyists and state officials have drawn scrutiny in the past and have been less common in recent years: between 2016 and 2018, lobbyists reported renting to a dozen lawmakers and state officials.
Montana – Montana Doesn’t Always Draw a Straight Line from Groups to Their Lobbying
Helena Independent Record – Sam Wilson (Lee Newspapers State Bureau) | Published: 9/19/2021
Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Jeff Mangan acknowledged the state does not have a perfect system for connecting principals to the on-the-ground lobbying efforts they are paying for. Along with the inability to track reported lobbying expenses in a centralized database, there were a number of groups that paid lobbyists during the 2021 session without saying what legislation they were lobbying for or against, or that funneled lobbying expenses through other groups. In other instances, the flow of dollars from groups or corporations through multiple lobbying firms further obscured the money’s source.
New Mexico – Grand Jury Indicts Ex-Lawmaker in Alleged Kickback Scheme
MSN – Morgan Lee (Associated Press) | Published: 9/20/2021
Former New Mexico Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton was indicted by a grand jury on charges of racketeering, money laundering, fraud, and ethics violations in connection with an alleged kickback scheme. She was fired in August by the Albuquerque public school system from her position in vocational education amid administrative and criminal probes into her ties to a private contractor for the state’s largest school district.
New York – Aides of Former Gov. Cuomo on Hook for New Legal Bills
MSN – Marina Villeneuve (Associated Press) | Published: 9/23/2021
New York state has stopped paying legal bills for state employees who worked for former Gov. Andrew Cuomo as he faced ongoing investigations on the state and federal level. The state stopped paying for those aides’ legal bills after September 2. The Hochul administration is now deciding whether there is a legal basis for the state to pay bills for legal services on or before September 2. The administration did not specify how many staffers had legal bills paid for by the state.
New York – State Inspector General Resigns Amid Controversy
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 9/17/2021
New York Inspector General Letizia Tagliafierro, a longtime aide to former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, resigned from her post as the executive branch’s top internal-affairs watchdog. Tagliafierro’s departure comes less than a month after Cuomo’s resignation and two weeks after the Joint Commission on Public Ethics voted to ask state Attorney General Letitia James to investigate the conduct of the inspector general’s office in its probe of an illegal leak of confidential information from the ethics commission to Cuomo in January 2019.
North Carolina – North Carolina Judges Strike Down State’s Voter ID Law
MSN – Gary Robertson (Associated Press) | Published: 9/17/2021
North Carolina judges struck down the state’s latest photo voter identification law, agreeing with minority voters that Republicans approved rules tainted by racial bias to remain in power. Two of the three trial judges declared the December 2018 law is unconstitutional, even though it was designed to implement a photo voter ID mandate added to the North Carolina Constitution in a referendum just weeks earlier. They said the law intentionally discriminates against Black voters, violating their equal protections.
Pennsylvania – New Equity Report Required of Lobbyists & Lobbying Firms in Pennsylvania
JD Supra – Staff | Published: 9/22/2021
Starting this year, Pennsylvania is requiring all registered lobbyists and lobbying firms to file an Annual Equity Report. The report must disclose how much equity, as a percentage, the lobbyist or firm holds or has held in an affiliate principal, and for whom the lobbyist or firm lobbied during the reporting period. The report must be filed even if the lobbyist or firm has no equity to report.
Pennsylvania – Pa. Legislators Promised #MeToo Reforms Inside Capitol. So Far, Few Changes Have Become Law
LancasterOnline.com – Lindsay Weber (Allentown Morning Call) | Published: 9/22/2021
Three years after a handful of sexual harassment and assault cases plagued the state Capitol and prompted calls for reform, little has changed in how Pennsylvania’s political leaders handle new accusations. Legislation inspired by the #MeToo movement designed to hold accountable those involved in sexual misconduct and those who cover it up would have created independent, streamlined ways for staffers and others to report complaints. But those proposals have gone nowhere. Bills that would have banned nondisclosure agreements and prevented the use of taxpayer money for settlements have met the same fate.
Rhode Island – Former State Official to Pay Fine to Settle Ethics Complaint
Bowling Green Daily News – Associated Press | Published: 9/21/2021
A former state official in Rhode Island will pay a $4,500 fine to settle an ethics complaint over his solicitation of campaign donations from state vendors for a mayoral run. Brett Smiley, who is running for Providence mayor, resigned as director of the Rhode Island Department of Administration early this year. The agency oversees hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of state contracting and spending. Smiley admitted that six separate solicitations from an owner or officer of a company that does business with the state violated the code of ethics.
Rhode Island – RI Donor-Disclosure Laws Upheld Again; Conservative Group Says It Will Appeal to High Court
MSN – Patrick Anderson (Providence Journal) | Published: 9/16/2021
A federal appeals court upheld Rhode Island’s campaign-spending disclosure laws against a constitutional challenge by a coalition of conservative groups. Those groups say they intend to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. A three-judge panel of the First Circuit Court of Appeals on said the law that makes top donors identify themselves in certain election advertising does not infringe on those donors’ free-speech rights.
September 23, 2021 •
Campaign Finance Alaska: “Protect Juneau’s Future Shared Who Paid for Its Campaign, but No Laws Require It” by Jeremy Hsieh for KTOO Elections National: “Trump Campaign Knew Lawyers’ Voting Machine Claims Were Baseless, Memo Shows” by Alan Feuer (New York […]
Alaska: “Protect Juneau’s Future Shared Who Paid for Its Campaign, but No Laws Require It” by Jeremy Hsieh for KTOO
National: “Trump Campaign Knew Lawyers’ Voting Machine Claims Were Baseless, Memo Shows” by Alan Feuer (New York Times) for Yahoo News
National: “Huge Hack Reveals Embarrassing Details of Who’s Behind Proud Boys and Other Far-Right Websites” by Drew Harwell, Craig Timberg, and Hannah Allam (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Durham Prosecution Faces Hurdles in D.C. Court” by Josh Gerstein (Politico) for Yahoo News
New York: “State Inspector General Resigns Amid Controversy” by Chris Bragg for Albany Times Union
Pennsylvania: “Pa. Legislators Promised #MeToo Reforms Inside Capitol. So Far, Few Changes Have Become Law” by Lindsay Weber (Allentown Morning Call) for LancasterOnline.com
California: “Kern County Under Investigation After Denying Group COVID Contract Over Support for Defunding Police” by Sam Morgen (Bakersfield Californian) for Yahoo News
September 22, 2021 •
Campaign Finance National: “Two GOP Operatives Indicted for Allegedly Routing Money from Russian National to Support Trump Campaign” by Felicia Sonmez and Isaac Stanley-Becker (Washington Post) for MSN Rhode Island: “Former State Official to Pay Fine to Settle Ethics Complaint” […]
National: “Two GOP Operatives Indicted for Allegedly Routing Money from Russian National to Support Trump Campaign” by Felicia Sonmez and Isaac Stanley-Becker (Washington Post) for MSN
Rhode Island: “Former State Official to Pay Fine to Settle Ethics Complaint” by Associated Press for Bowling Green Daily News
Canada: “Trudeau’s Party Wins Canada Vote but Fails to Get Majority” by Rob Gilles (Associated Press) for MSN
National: “Threats Against Members of Congress Are Skyrocketing. It’s Changing the Job.” by Sarah Wire (Los Angeles Times) for Yahoo News
National: “Democrats Begin Effort to Curb Post-Trump Presidential Powers” by Charlie Savage (New York Times) for Yahoo Finance
Massachusetts: “Ex-Mayor, Elected at Age 23, Gets 6 Years in Corruption Case” by Alanna Durkin Richer (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
Florida: “Senate Redistricting Chair Vows to Redeem Process as He Plans to Limit Public’s Input” by Mary Ellen Klas (Miami Herald) for MSN
Michigan: “Facing Tight Timeline, Voter-Led Michigan Redistricting Commission on Steep Learning Curve” by Clara Hendrickson (Detroit Free Press) for MSN
September 21, 2021 •
Campaign Finance National: “The FEC Unanimously Rejected Matt Gaetz’s Complaint Against Twitter Over an Alleged 2018 ‘Shadow Ban’” by Brian Metzger (Business Insider) for Yahoo News Florida: “Anti-Mask FL GOP Bookkeeper Dies of COVID – Leaving Party Without Access to […]
National: “The FEC Unanimously Rejected Matt Gaetz’s Complaint Against Twitter Over an Alleged 2018 ‘Shadow Ban’” by Brian Metzger (Business Insider) for Yahoo News
Florida: “Anti-Mask FL GOP Bookkeeper Dies of COVID – Leaving Party Without Access to Finance Software” by Brett Bachman (Salon) for MSN
National: “‘It’s Spreading’: Phony election fraud conspiracies infect midterms” by David Siders and Zach Montellaro (Politico) for MSN
Illinois: “Sources Say Chicago Ald. Jim Gardiner Allegedly Tried to Pay Campaign Worker with Tax Dollars” by Mariah Woelfel for WBEZ
New Mexico: “Grand Jury Indicts Ex-Lawmaker in Alleged Kickback Scheme” by Morgan Lee (Associated Press) for MSN
New York: “Ethics Panel Apparently Ignored Complaint About Inspector General” by Chris Bragg for Albany Times Union
Europe: “Dark News: The murky world of undercover EU lobbying” by Mark Scott for Politico
Montana: “Montana Doesn’t Always Draw a Straight Line from Groups to Their Lobbying” by Sam Wilson for Helena Independent Record
September 20, 2021 •
Campaign Finance Rhode Island: “RI Donor-Disclosure Laws Upheld Again; Conservative Group Says It Will Appeal to High Court” by Patrick Anderson (Providence Journal) for MSN Elections Georgia: “Fulton Board Gets New Chair as Georgia Reviews Its Elections” by Kate Brumback […]
Rhode Island: “RI Donor-Disclosure Laws Upheld Again; Conservative Group Says It Will Appeal to High Court” by Patrick Anderson (Providence Journal) for MSN
Georgia: “Fulton Board Gets New Chair as Georgia Reviews Its Elections” by Kate Brumback (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
North Carolina: “North Carolina Judges Strike Down State’s Voter ID Law” by Gary Robertson (Associated Press) for MSN
National: “Roger Stone Served ‘a Big, Big Stack of Papers’ from Capitol Riot Lawsuit During Radio Interview” by Timothy Bella (Washington Post) for Seattle Times
National: “Powell Orders Ethics Review After Fed Presidents Disclosed Multimillion-Dollar Investments” by Thomas Franck for CNBC
National: “Lawmakers Launch Investigation into Climate Crisis Disinformation by Fossil Fuel Industry” by Ella Nilsen (CNN) for MSN
Florida: “Tallahassee Ethics Board Proposing Stronger Lobbying Ordinances, Expanded Role” by Karl Etters (Tallahassee Democrat) for MSN
Missouri: “Lawmakers Renting from Lobbyists Less Often in Jefferson City” by Jack Suntrup for St. Louis Post-Dispatch
September 17, 2021 •
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit upheld Rhode Island’s campaign finance law requiring the identification of donors in political advertisements. The state law requires disclosure of independent expenditures totaling more than $1,000 to the Board of Elections […]
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit upheld Rhode Island’s campaign finance law requiring the identification of donors in political advertisements.
The state law requires disclosure of independent expenditures totaling more than $1,000 to the Board of Elections with a listing of the candidate or referendum involved and all individual donors who gave more than $1,000.
The top five donors must also be listed in the ad itself.
The groups challenging the constitutionality of the law said they would appeal the issue to the Supreme Court
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