April 19, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “Campaign Finance Watchdog Cracks Down on Untraceable Super PAC Donations” by Zach Montellaro (Politico) for MSN Indiana: “Casino Executive Admits Funneling Cash to Indy GOP, Pleads Guilty to Tax Fraud” by Tony Cook (Indianapolis Star) for MSN […]
National: “Campaign Finance Watchdog Cracks Down on Untraceable Super PAC Donations” by Zach Montellaro (Politico) for MSN
Indiana: “Casino Executive Admits Funneling Cash to Indy GOP, Pleads Guilty to Tax Fraud” by Tony Cook (Indianapolis Star) for MSN
Ohio: “Dark Money Helped Ohio Utilities Subsidize Coal Plants, Delaying Action on Climate Change at Ratepayers’ Expense” by Kathiann Kowalski for Energy News Network
Tennessee: “Ethics Reform Bill Passes Senate Despite Barrage of Complaints from Dark-Money Groups” by Adam Friedman (Tennessean) for MSN
Iowa: “Iowa Supreme Court Rules Democrat Abby Finkenauer Can Be on Senate Primary Ballot” by Felicia Sonmez and David Weigel (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Censorship Battles’ New Frontier: Your public library” by Annie Gowan (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “These Lawyers and Firms Are Still Working with Russian Banks, Even Amid the War” by Hailey Fuchs (Politico) for MSN
Arizona: “Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey Signs Bill Prohibiting Public Spending on Union Activities” by Janie Valentine for Ballotpedia News
April 18, 2022 •
Maine Gov. Mills signed Legislative Document 1782 amending the state’s campaign finance law. Beginning December 1, 2023, the amount individuals can contribute to separate segregated fund committees will be adjusted every two years based on the Consumer Price Index. The […]
Maine Gov. Mills signed Legislative Document 1782 amending the state’s campaign finance law.
Beginning December 1, 2023, the amount individuals can contribute to separate segregated fund committees will be adjusted every two years based on the Consumer Price Index.
The new law also permits corporations, membership organizations, cooperative or labor organizations to contribute the paid staff time of its employees and independent contractors to establish the entity’s separate segregated fund committee and to provide fundraising and administrative services to the committee.
A business entity will also be permitted to provide its separate segregated fund committee with the use of offices, telephones, computers, and other equipment, even if doing so results in an additional cost to the business entity.
Legislative Document 1782 will take effect on January 1, 2023.
April 18, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Colorado: “Colorado Legislature Passes Bill Limiting Campaign Contributions to School Board Candidates” by Carina Julig for Aurora Sentinel Georgia: “Judge Denies Abrams Bid to Seek Unlimited Contributions” by Kate Brumback (Associated Press) for Yahoo News Elections National: “RNC […]
Colorado: “Colorado Legislature Passes Bill Limiting Campaign Contributions to School Board Candidates” by Carina Julig for Aurora Sentinel
Georgia: “Judge Denies Abrams Bid to Seek Unlimited Contributions” by Kate Brumback (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
National: “RNC Votes to Withdraw from Presidential Debates Commission” by Amy Wang (Washington Post) for MSN
Maryland: “Baltimore Prosecutor Marilyn Mosby’s Annual Ethics Disclosure Lists No Donations to Her Legal Defense Fund” by Alex Mann (Baltimore Sun) for MSN
Nebraska: “GOP State Senator, Seven Other Women Say Charles Herbster Groped Them; He Denies Allegations” by Aaron Sandeford for Nebraska Examiner
New York: “Ex-Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison” by Priscilla DeGregory for New York Post
Maryland: “A Growing Trend: More Black women among Annapolis lobbying corps” by Elizabeth Shwe for Maryland Matters
New Jersey: “One of N.J.’s Oldest Political Traditions Was Canceled Again This Year. Will the ‘Chamber Train’ Come Back?” by Susan Livio and Kelly Heyboer (NJ Advance Media) for MSN
April 15, 2022 •
National/Federal Before Giving Billions to Jared Kushner, Saudi Investment Fund Had Big Doubts Yahoo News – David Kirkpatrick and Kate Kelly (New York Times) | Published: 4/10/2022 Six months after leaving the White House, Jared Kushner secured a $2 billion investment […]
Before Giving Billions to Jared Kushner, Saudi Investment Fund Had Big Doubts
Yahoo News – David Kirkpatrick and Kate Kelly (New York Times) | Published: 4/10/2022
Six months after leaving the White House, Jared Kushner secured a $2 billion investment from a fund led by the Saudi crown prince, a close ally during the Trump administration, despite objections from the fund’s advisers about the merits of the deal. But the full board of the Public Investment Fund overruled the panel. Ethics experts say such a deal creates the appearance of potential payback for Kushner’s actions in the White House, or of a bid for future favor if Trump seeks and wins another presidential term in 2024.
Campaign Finance Watchdog Issues Massive Fine for Foreign National’s Trump Super PAC Donation
MSN – Zach Montellaro and Myah Ward (Politico) | Published: 4/8/2022
The FEC issued the third-largest fine in its history for companies of a Canadian billionaire for contributions to a super PAC supporting then-President Trump after the agency found “reason to believe” the donations violated a federal law on foreign nationals contributing to American political committees or campaigns. Companies controlled by Barry Zekelman agreed to pay $975,000 to close an investigation by the FEC into $1.75 million worth of donations made to America First Action, the pro-Trump super PAC, throughout 2018.
Crypto Industry Helps Write, and Pass, Its Own Agenda in State Capitols
Seattle Times – Eric Lipton and David Yaffee-Bellany (New York Times) | Published: 4/10/2022
Across the nation, cryptocurrency executives and lobbyists are helping to draft bills to benefit the fast-growing industry, then pushing lawmakers to adopt these made-to-order laws before moving rapidly to profit from the legislative victories. The effort is part of an emerging national strategy by the industry, in the absence of comprehensive federal regulatory demands, to work state by state to engineer a more friendly legal system. Lobbyists are aiming to clear the way for the continued explosive growth of cryptocurrency companies, which are trying to revolutionize banking, e-commerce, and even art and music.
DNC Sets Off Free-for-All to Remake Presidential Calendar
Yahoo News – Elena Schneider (Politico) | Published: 4/13/2022
The Democratic National Committee is officially reopening its presidential nominating process, upending the current calendar led by Iowa and New Hampshire and requiring them and any other interested states to apply for early-state status in 2024. The influential perch guarantees candidates, attention, and money flow into those states during national campaigns, and gives voters there an outsize say in picking presidents.
DOJ Plans to Investigate Boxes of Records Taken to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago
MSN – Matt Zapotosky and Jacqueline Alemany (Washington Post) | Published: 4/7/2022
The Justice Department has begun taking steps to investigate former President Trump’s removal of presidential records to Mar-a-Lago, some of which were labeled “top secret.” Sources said the probe remained in the very early stages. The department is facing increasing political pressure to disclose its plans in the case. House Oversight Committee Chairperson Carolyn Maloney has accused the Justice Department of obstructing her committee’s investigation into the 15 boxes of records Trump took to his estate in Palm Beach.
In Conference Call Before Riot, a Plea to ‘Descend on the Capitol’
Yahoo News – Alan Feuer (New York Times) | Published: 4/12/2022
One week before an angry mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, a communications expert named Jason Sullivan, a onetime aide to Roger Stone, joined a conference call with a group of then-President Trump’s supporters and made an urgent plea. After assuring his listeners the 2020 election had been stolen, Sullivan told them they had to go to Washington on January 6, 2021, the day that Congress was to meet to finalize the electoral count, and “descend on the Capitol.” The recording of the call emerged as the Justice Department has expanded its criminal probe of the attack.
Inside ‘the Next Big Political Frontier’ of State Supreme Court Races
Yahoo News – Grace Panetta (Business Insider) | Published: 4/9/2022
The 2022 midterm elections have the fewest competitive congressional races in recent memory, thanks in part to both parties drawing themselves safer districts to lock in their majorities in the redistricting cycle. But races to elect state Supreme Court judges, which will play a critical role in drawing political maps and shaping the balance of power, are political battlefields. The conservative supermajority on the U.S. Supreme Court has prompted progressive litigators to bring more consequential and politically contentious cases to state courts.
Jan. 6 Panel Has Evidence for Criminal Referral of Trump, but Splits on Sending
Yahoo News – Michael Schmidt and Luke Broadwater (New York Times) | Published: 4/10/2022
The leaders of the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack have grown divided over whether to make a criminal referral to the Justice Department of former President Trump, even though they have concluded they have enough evidence to do so, people involved in the discussions said. The debate centers on whether making a referral – a largely symbolic act – would backfire by politically tainting the department’s expanding investigation into the January 6 assault and what led up to it.
Nonprofit Pledges $80 Million for Local Election Administration
MSN – Amy Gardner (Washington Post) | Published: 4/12/2022
The founder of a nonprofit that has become a target of Republican ire for funneling hundreds of millions of dollars to election administrators in 2020 announced her organization will spearhead a similar new effort starting this year. Tiana Epps-Johnson, who leads the Center for Tech and Civic Life, said the new U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence would send $80 million in the next five years to election departments across the country in need of basic funding for equipment replacement and other resources.
Partisan ‘Doom Loop’? The Answer Is More Parties, This Group Says
MSN – Jim Saska (Roll Call) | Published: 4/8/2022
A new advocacy group, Fix Our House, argues the only way to break America out of its political “doom loop where voters in each party see each other as enemies” is to change the way elections work – specifically, elections to the U.S. House. It believes proportional representation is the key to ending gerrymandering, breaking up congressional deadlock, and reducing partisan divisions. The group argues the nation is being driven to political extremes by an electoral system that might have worked before cable news, social media, super PACs, and modern campaigning but now rewards those who promise to burn it all down.
Records of Foreign Gifts Given to Trump and Pence in 2020 Are Missing, State Department Says
MSN – Alia Shoaib (Business Insider) | Published: 4/9/2022
The Trump administration did not provide information about gifts from foreign governments in 2020 received by former President Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence, and other White House officials, the State Department said. As a result, the department said it could not compile a complete and accurate accounting of gifts received by Trump, his family, and other officials during his final year in office.
From the States and Municipalities
Alabama – Selma Is Tired of Being Just a Symbol – They Want Change
MSN – Emmanuel Fenton (Washington Post) | Published: 4/11/2022
On March 7, 1965, more than 500 demonstrators marched in Selma, Alabama, to protest policies designed to keep Black people from voting. When they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge, they were met by state troopers who attacked them with bully clubs. Selma has become an annual stopover for politicians looking to bolster their civil rights bona fides. To mark the anniversary of what became known as Bloody Sunday, the city hosts the Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee. But aside from the infusion of tourist dollars and fleeting national media attention, Selma feels like a city left behind, with little to show for its vaulted place in America’s civil rights history.
Alaska – Lawsuit Challenges Alaska Campaign Disclosure Rules
Alaska Public Media – Becky Bohrer (Associated Press) | Published: 4/7/2022
Political donors sued over campaign finance rules enacted under a 2020 voter initiative in Alaska, arguing the disclosure rules are burdensome and could lead to reprisals against them and their business interests in a climate of “cancel culture.” Provisions of the measure calling for open primaries and ranked choice voting in general elections were challenged previously in state courts and upheld.
California – BART May Need to Void $40-Million Contract After Potential Conflict of Interest Found, Inspector General Says
Yahoo News – Alex Wigglesworth (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 4/9/2022
The Bay Area Rapid Transit agency may be required to void a $40-million construction management contract after an investigation revealed a potential conflict-of-interest between a manager who played a role in making and administering the contract and the firm to which it was awarded. Inspector General Harriet Richardson said she began the investigation after receiving evidence the manager used to work for the construction management firm, and the manager’s spouse and sibling still worked for the firm.
California – Corruption Probe Ends in Ex-San Mateo County Community College District Chancellor’s Arrest
MSN – Jason Green (Bay Area News Group) | Published: 4/12/2022
An investigation into allegations of corruption against leaders of the San Mateo County Community College District came to a head with the arrest of a former chancellor on 21 felony counts including tax fraud and theft of public funds. Prosecutors allege Ronald Galatolo, with the help of former Vice Chancellor of Facilities Jose Nunez, directed construction projects to be awarded to companies from whom he had received and continued to receive gifts, including concert tickets and international travel, and with whom he shared financial interests.
California – S.F.’s Environmental Official Resigns Over Alleged $25,000 Donation
San Francisco Examiner – Adam Shanks and Jessica Wolfrom | Published: 4/7/2022
San Francisco’s top environmental official abruptly resigned amid scrutiny about her alleged solicitation of a donation from Recology for her department. Department of the Environment Director Debbie Raphael’s resignation came two days after a news story revealed the gift. It was reported Raphael solicited a $25,000 donation from Recology at the same time the waste management company was inking a city contract to haul trash to its Solano County landfill in 2015.
Florida – Florida Legislators Give DeSantis Their Power to Draw House Map
MSN – Colby Itkowitz and Lori Rozsa (Washington Post) | Published: 4/11/2022
The Republican-held Florida Legislature will not redraw its congressional map, yielding its redistricting role to Gov. Ron DeSantis to draft a version he will sign. The decision is the latest turn in an unprecedented fissure between the governor and the Legislature. The move followed DeSantis’s call for a special session to draw the House map.
Georgia – Judge Questions Abrams Suit Seeking Unlimited Contributions
Yahoo News – Jeff Amy (Associated Press) | Published: 4/11/2022
A federal judge expressed skepticism that he can give Stacey Abrams the immediate right to begin raising and spending unlimited campaign contributions under Georgia law. U.S. District Court Judge Mark Cohen told a lawyer for Abrams’ gubernatorial campaign she was asking him to rewrite state law to allow Abrams’ One Georgia committee to start taking money before the May 24 primary.
Georgia – With Biden’s Voting Rights Push Stalled, Georgia Activists Regroup
MSN – Matthew Brown (Washington Post) | Published: 4/11/2022
For months, Georgia voting rights advocates and faith leaders warned a new state law would drastically suppress minority turnout and pleaded with Congress to enshrine protections. But with no signs of progress in President Biden’s push for voting rights bills, those groups are now confronting a new challenge: how to turn out voters despite the restrictions passed by state Republicans in the wake of Biden’s upset win there.
Illinois – Emails Show Valencia Promoted Smart City Development While Her Lobbyist Husband Profited from It
WCIA – Mark Maxwell | Published: 4/7/2022
Over the course of several years, official and personal correspondence shows Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia spent a significant portion of her time in office paving the way for projects that directly benefited her husband, Reyahd Kazmi, who is a registered lobbyist. Kazmi omitted key information from ethics forms and funneled payments between various entities in a manner that hid much of that information from public scrutiny. In one case, Valencia at times used text messages and personal and government email accounts to discuss investment strategies for a development project that involved Kazmi’s clients.
Illinois – Session Recap: Lawmakers pass limits on campaign contributions in judicial races
Capitol News Illinois – Peter Hancock | Published: 4/12/2022
This year’s races for seats on the Illinois Supreme Court, as well as other judicial contests, could come under a new set of campaign finance rules aimed at limiting how much money candidates could raise from so-called dark money sources and from individual donors. The bill still needs approval from Gov. JB Pritzker. It would take effect immediately, meaning it would be in effect for the 2022 election cycle, upon his signature. The bill also makes a change to self-funded campaigns, limiting how much any individual, other than candidates and their immediate family members, may give to a judicial campaign.
Indiana – ‘I Plead Guilty’: Former Indiana GOP Sen. Brent Waltz admits role in straw donor scheme
Yahoo News – Tony Cook (Indianapolis Star) | Published: 4/11/2022
Former Indiana Sen. Brent Waltz admitted in federal court he participated in a scheme to funnel $40,500 in illegal donations to his failed campaign for Congress in 2015. Under an agreement with prosecutors, Waltz pleaded guilty to making and receiving conduit contributions and making false statements to the FBI. The plea agreement comes just one week before Waltz and John Keeler, another former lawmaker turned casino executive, were scheduled to go to trial. Prosecutors say the illegal campaign contributions were fueled with cash from one of Indiana’s largest casino operators, Centaur Gaming.
Maryland – Maryland Appeals Court Upholds State’s Legislative Redistricting Map
MSN – Ovetta Wiggins (Washington Post) | Published: 4/13/2022
Maryland’s highest court upheld the legislative redistricting map approved by the General Assembly in March, rejecting arguments made by Republicans that the map was unfair and gerrymandered. The decision from the Court of Appeals ends a legal challenge that upended the state election calendar and settles uncertainty over when voters will make selections for local, state, and congressional races.
Maryland – Prince George’s School Board Ethics Panel to Resign En Masse
MSN – Nicole Asbury (Washington Post) | Published: 4/13/2022
All members of the Prince George’s County Board of Education’s ethics panel resigned, almost a year after producing reports critical of some board members and causing mass dissension in the county. The panel’s chairperson, Gregory Morton Sr., wrote the en masse resignation was because members faced an “unanticipated, disruptive impact” to their personal and professional lives through the course of their term. The ethics panel authored error-riddled reports that targeted a more liberal majority of the board’s elected members, including accusations of steering contracts, doing political favors, and engaging in a quid pro quo with a labor union.
Michigan – Jury Acquits Two in Michigan Governor Kidnap Plot; Deadlocks on Two Others
MSN – Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 4/8/2022
A jury acquitted two men of conspiring to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and deadlocked on the counts against two others, apparently agreeing to some degree with defense claims that FBI agents entrapped the men in a violent plot shortly before the 2020 election. The trial was closely watched as a test of the federal government’s ramped-up efforts to combat domestic terrorism, and the verdict is a partial defeat for the Justice Department. The men’s arrest raised alarms about the possibility of politically motivated violence as the nation was increasingly divided over the presidential race.
Michigan – Legislation Aims to Prohibit Fundraising Loophole Used by Gov. Whitmer
MLive.com – Samuel Robinson | Published: 4/13/2022
A bill that would set legal definitions for what is considered an active recall effort in Michigan was debated before the House Ethics and Elections Committee. House Bill 5910 would require a recall candidate to form a committee within 10 days after becoming a candidate. The account would not need to be established until the recall committee receives a contribution or makes an expenditure. The legislation, which has bipartisan support, comes in response to a fundraising loophole used last year by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Minnesota – Elephants in the Room? Bill Language Would Ban Private Clubs for Lawmakers, Lobbyists Proposed by GOP Campaign Committee
MinnPost – Peter Callaghan | Published: 4/7/2022
A Minnesota bill would close the door to an exclusive political club that never actually opened. One sentence in the omnibus bill, Senate File 975, would ban contributions to any club set up by a political committee of a candidate or a political caucus of the Legislature that provides access to lawmakers. State law prohibits contributions to lawmakers during legislative sessions. But a mysterious request made to the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board suggested a loophole around that ban: charging membership dues to a club that provides access to Capitol decision-makers.
Mississippi – Ethics Complaint Filed After Reporter Barred from House GOP Caucus Meeting
Mississippi Today – Adam Ganucheau | Published: 4/13/2022
The Mississippi Center for Justice filed a formal ethics complaint on behalf of reporter Nick Judin, who was barred entry from a House Republican Caucus meeting in March. Major pieces of legislation authored or supported by Republican leaders, including House Speaker Philip Gunn, are often discussed and debated inside the backroom meetings. Many observers question whether the caucus meetings violate the state’s Open Meetings Act because the caucus consists of well more than half of the entire House body. The caucus meetings had never been challenged before the Ethics Commission or state courts.
New Jersey – With Revelation of Racist Recordings, Prosecutors Face Scrutiny Over Their Handling of Investigation
MSN – Riley Yates and S.P. Sullivan (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 4/7/2022
At the height of racial justice protests over the murder of George Floyd, Union County prosecutors seized control of Clark Township’s police department, citing “credible allegations of misconduct” by its leadership, and vowing to restore public trust. But in announcing the takeover in July 2020, neither county prosecutors nor the New Jersey attorney general’s office said what they were investigating. Now, criminal justice experts and community advocates are asking why. The question follows revelations that Clark’s mayor, police chief, and an internal affairs sergeant were secretly recorded using racial slurs. The township paid a whistleblower and his attorney $400,000 in a settlement to conceal the allegations.
New York – Buffalo Officers Can Return to Duty After Pushing 75-Year-Old Protester
MSN – Julian Mark (Washington Post) | Published: 4/11/2022
In June 2020, two Buffalo police officers pushed a 75-year-old human rights demonstrator, causing him to fall backward, hit his head on the sidewalk, and lie motionless while bleeding from his head. Graphic video of the incident circulated widely, and the two officers were suspended from the department. Now, Robert McCabe and Aaron Torgalski will be allowed to start working again, after an arbitrator concluded the two used “absolutely legitimate” force and did not violate department policies.
New York – Emails Reveal How Major Hochul Campaign Donors Seek Sway
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 4/10/2022
In response to a Freedom of Information Law request, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office provided the Albany Times Union with 161 pages of emails that offer a glimpse of how affluent campaign donors try to leverage that status to land high-level government access. A significant portion of Hochul’s campaign fundraising was facilitated through top lobbying firms, which held fundraisers that were exclusive to their clients. According to the donors’ accounts in the emails, Hochul did not discourage discussion of state business at these events and directed donors to connect with her campaign staff, which subsequently connected them to top state officials.
New York – New State Budget Includes New Ethics Commission
WBFO – Karen DeWitt | Published: 4/11/2022
The new state budget replaces New York’s troubled ethics commission with a new entity aimed at lowering the number of scandals in state government. But critics say the measure does not go far enough and could replicate some of the same problems the current commission created. The Joint Commission on Public Ethics JCOPE) will end in the new budget and be replaced with a new commission on ethics and lobbying in government. JCOPE was dominated by appointees from the governor’s office and had complicated voting rules.
New York – New York Lt. Gov. Benjamin Resigns After Indictment in Campaign Finance Scheme
Albany Times Union – Joshua Solomon and Chris Bragg | Published: 4/12/2022
New York Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin resigned after being charged with corruption offenses in an alleged scheme to trade state grants for campaign contributions. The charges stem from Benjamin’s time as a state senator and his unsuccessful run for New York City comptroller. He was seeking donations and public matching funds and enlisted the help of a developer to raise money and disguise its source. In exchange, prosecutors say Benjamin used his authority to try to steer $50,000 to a charitable group the developer controlled. Prosecutors allege Benjamin took steps to cover up his scheme when he was under consideration for lieutenant governor.
North Carolina – Mark Meadows Removed from N.C. Voter Rolls Amid Fraud Investigation
MSN – Amy Wang (Washington Post) | Published: 4/12/2022
Mark Meadows, President Trump’s White House chief of staff, has been removed from the voter rolls in North Carolina as the state investigates allegations that he committed voter fraud in the 2020 election. Meadows helped promote Trump’s baseless claims that widespread voter fraud delivered the presidency to Joe Biden. But the rhetoric about potential voter fraud have clashed with reports in recent weeks that Meadows registered to vote in 2020 using the address of a North Carolina mobile home he never stayed in.
Pennsylvania – Draft Bills and Late-Night Emails Reveal Cozy Ties Between Pa. State Lawmaker, Casino Lobbyists
PennLive.com – Angela Couloumbis (Spotlight PA) | Published: 4/11/2202
A bill introduced by state Sen. Tommy Tomlinson would ban thousands of unregulated gaming machines that have popped up in gas stations, convenience stores, bars, social clubs, and other establishments across Pennsylvania. The legislation was ghostwritten by the gaming industry. At the senator’s request, lobbyists and lawyers for Pennsylvania’s top-earning casino had drafted the bill, and the final text matched that version almost word-for-word. Emails between Tomlinson’s office and Parx Casino’s lobbyists offer a glimpse of the reach that lobbyists enjoy in the Legislature.
South Carolina – SC Developers Give Over the Legal Limit to Horry Candidates Through LLCs. Here’s How
The State – J. Dale Shumaker | Published: 4/13/2022
Developers have made contributions to Horry County Council candidates well over Soth Carolina’s $1,000-per-candidate-per-election-cycle limit. Some of those developers have given to the same candidates multiple times through limited liability companies, using a part of the state ethics law that allows businesses to donate to campaigns as individuals. Ethics experts said that while the practice of donating the maximum-allowed amount multiple times using separate companies is legal and common, it is an “unfortunate” pattern in South Carolina.
South Dakota – South Dakota House Votes to Impeach Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, 36-31
Yahoo News – Joe Sneve (Sioux Falls Argus Leader) | Published: 4/12/2022
The South Dakota House impeached state Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg over his conduct related to a 2020 automobile crash that killed a pedestrian. The vote defies a recommendation by a special investigative committee of lawmakers, who deemed Ravnsborg’s actions did not amount to impeachable offenses and triggers a trial in the Senate that will decide whether he will be forced out of office.
Tennessee – House Speaker Backs Ethics Bill to Bring Expenses ‘From the Dark into the Light’
Tennessee Lookout – Sam Stockard | Published: 4/13/2022
Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton extolled disclosure requirements in an ethics reform bill and questioned the motives of groups opposed to the legislation, mainly 501(c)4 organizations that can shower “dark money” on campaigns in the final two months of an election. Sexton made a rare appearance in the Local Government Committee where he defended a bill that would require tax-exempt groups that spend money to influence elections to report aggregate expenditures of $5,000 within 60 days of a campaign, among other provisions.
Virginia – Youngkin Vetoes Bipartisan Bills While Stoking Political Rancor
MSN – Laura Vozzella and Gregory Schneider (Washington Post) | Published: 4/12/2022
Virginia Gov. Genn Youngkin vetoed 25 bills that had bipartisan support in the General Assembly, throwing sharp elbows particularly at lawmakers who represent blue areas of Northern Virginia. He vetoed nine of the 10 bills sponsored by Sen. Adam Ebbin while signing identical House bills in six of those cases. Typically, a governor signs both versions, allowing both sponsors bragging rights for getting a bill passed into law. The vetoes were widely seen as payback for Senate Democrats’ refusal to confirm a handful of Youngkin appointments.
Wisconsin – Elections Commission Fines Election Denier $2,400 for Frivolous Voter Fraud Allegations
Madison.com – Mitchell Schmidt (Wisconsin State Journal) | Published: 4/7/2022
The Wisconsin Elections Commission fined an election denier who was previously convicted of making fraudulent claims to investors more than $2,400 for filing frivolous complaints of alleged voter fraud. Peter Bernegger, who was convicted in federal court in 2009 for making fraudulent claims to investors in his business, filed multiple claims of voter fraud with the commission earlier this year. He also presented his claims before the Assembly elections committee in February. State election officials later debunked many of what they described as “unverified, fantastical claims” of widespread election fraud, including several made by Bernegger.
Wyoming – Targeted: Lawmakers in the political crosshairs of Wyo Gun Owners
WyoFile – Mike Koshmrl | Published: 4/12/2022
Hundreds of text and phone messages, some threatening violence, were sent to state Sen. Larry Hicks over his bill on gun rights. The deluge was orchestrated by a group that has pushed controversial gun bills at the Legislature. The group, Wyoming Gun Owners, drew outrage from top lawmakers for its campaign tactics and were investigated by the state attorney general for failing to disclose its donors. A federal judge ruled the election law Wyoming Gun Owners was accused of breaking was itself unconstitutional.
April 14, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Georgia: “Judge Questions Abrams Suit Seeking Unlimited Contributions” by Jeff Amy (Associated Press) for Yahoo News Illinois: “Session Recap: Lawmakers pass limits on campaign contributions in judicial races” by Peter Hancock for Capitol News Illinois South Carolina: “SC […]
Georgia: “Judge Questions Abrams Suit Seeking Unlimited Contributions” by Jeff Amy (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
Illinois: “Session Recap: Lawmakers pass limits on campaign contributions in judicial races” by Peter Hancock for Capitol News Illinois
South Carolina: “SC Developers Give Over the Legal Limit to Horry Candidates Through LLCs. Here’s How” by J. Dale Shumaker for The State
Tennessee: “House Speaker Backs Ethics Bill to Bring Expenses ‘From the Dark into the Light’” by Sam Stockard for Tennessee Lookout
North Carolina: “Mark Meadows Removed from N.C. Voter Rolls Amid Fraud Investigation” by Amy Wang (Washington Post) for MSN
Alabama: “Selma Is Tired of Being Just a Symbol – They Want Change” by Emmanuel Fenton (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “Corruption Probe Ends in Ex-San Mateo County Community College District Chancellor’s Arrest” by Jason Green (Bay Area News Group) for MSN
New York: “Buffalo Officers Can Return to Duty After Pushing 75-Year-Old Protester” by Julian Mark (Washington Post) for MSN
Virginia: “Youngkin Vetoes Bipartisan Bills While Stoking Political Rancor” by Laura Vozzella and Gregory Schneider (Washington Post) for MSN
April 13, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Indiana: “‘I Plead Guilty’: Former Indiana GOP Sen. Brent Waltz admits role in straw donor scheme” by Tony Cook (Indianapolis Star) for Yahoo News New York: “New York Lt. Gov. Benjamin Arrested in Campaign Finance Scheme” by Joshua […]
Indiana: “‘I Plead Guilty’: Former Indiana GOP Sen. Brent Waltz admits role in straw donor scheme” by Tony Cook (Indianapolis Star) for Yahoo News
New York: “New York Lt. Gov. Benjamin Arrested in Campaign Finance Scheme” by Joshua Solomon and Chris Bragg for Albany Times Union
National: “Inside ‘the Next Big Political Frontier’ of State Supreme Court Races” by Grace Panetta (Business Insider) for Yahoo News
National: “Before Giving Billions to Jared Kushner, Saudi Investment Fund Had Big Doubts” by David Kirkpatrick and Kate Kelly (New York Times) for Yahoo News
National: “Records of Foreign Gifts Given to Trump and Pence in 2020 Are Missing, State Department Says” by Alia Shoaib (Business Insider) for MSN
South Dakota: “South Dakota House Votes to Impeach Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, 36-31” by Joe Sneve (Sioux Falls Argus Leader) for Yahoo News
Wyoming: “Targeted: Lawmakers in the political crosshairs of Wyo Gun Owners” by Mike Koshmrl for WyoFile
Florida: “Florida Legislators Give DeSantis Their Power to Draw House Map” by Colby Itkowitz and Lori Rozsa (Washington Post) for MSN
April 12, 2022 •
Campaign Finance New York: “Emails Reveal How Major Hochul Campaign Donors Seek Sway” by Chris Bragg for Albany Times Union Elections Georgia: “With Biden’s Voting Rights Push Stalled, Georgia Activists Regroup” by Matthew Brown (Washington Post) for MSN Ethics National: […]
New York: “Emails Reveal How Major Hochul Campaign Donors Seek Sway” by Chris Bragg for Albany Times Union
Georgia: “With Biden’s Voting Rights Push Stalled, Georgia Activists Regroup” by Matthew Brown (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Jan. 6 Panel Has Evidence for Criminal Referral of Trump, but Splits on Sending” by Michael Schmidt and Luke Broadwater (New York Times) for Yahoo News
California: “S.F.’s Environmental Official Resigns Over Alleged $25,000 Donation” by Adam Shanks and Jessica Wolfrom for San Francisco Examiner
National: “Partisan ‘Doom Loop’? The Answer Is More Parties, This Group Says” by Jim Saska (Roll Call) for MSN
National: “Crypto Industry Helps Write, and Pass, Its Own Agenda in State Capitols” by Eric Lipton and David Yaffee-Bellany (New York Times) for Seattle Times
Illinois: “Emails Show Valencia Promoted Smart City Development While Her Lobbyist Husband Profited from It” by Mark Maxwell for WCIA
Pennsylvania: “Draft Bills and Late-Night Emails Reveal Cozy Ties Between Pa. State Lawmaker, Casino Lobbyists” by Angela Couloumbis (Spotlight PA) for PennLive.com
April 11, 2022 •
A lawsuit has been filed in federal court challenging the constitutionality of campaign finance rules passed in a 2020 voter initiative in Alaska. The newly filed suit focuses on the disclosure requirements of the initiative, stating the requirements hinder free […]
A lawsuit has been filed in federal court challenging the constitutionality of campaign finance rules passed in a 2020 voter initiative in Alaska.
The newly filed suit focuses on the disclosure requirements of the initiative, stating the requirements hinder free speech and could lead to reprisals against donors.
The disclosure requirements include a disclaimer and reporting for ads concerning contributions greater than $2,000 given to or received by independent expenditure groups.
The embattled voter initiative already faced challenges in court over the open primary system and ranked-choice voting provisions of the law.
April 11, 2022 •
The Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission has raised the limit for contributions given to a candidate for mayor, City Council, or city attorney to $600 per election cycle. This limit only applies to candidates who are not participating in the […]
The Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission has raised the limit for contributions given to a candidate for mayor, City Council, or city attorney to $600 per election cycle.
This limit only applies to candidates who are not participating in the Democracy Voucher Program.
Contribution limits are adjusted before each election cycle to account for inflation or deflation using the consumer price index.
April 11, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “Campaign Finance Watchdog Issues Massive Fine for Foreign National’s Trump Super PAC Donation” by Zach Montellaro and Myah Ward (Politico) for MSN Alaska: “Lawsuit Challenges Alaska Campaign Disclosure Rules” by Becky Bohrer (Associated Press) for Alaska Public […]
National: “Campaign Finance Watchdog Issues Massive Fine for Foreign National’s Trump Super PAC Donation” by Zach Montellaro and Myah Ward (Politico) for MSN
Alaska: “Lawsuit Challenges Alaska Campaign Disclosure Rules” by Becky Bohrer (Associated Press) for Alaska Public Media
Wisconsin: “Elections Commission Fines Election Denier $2,400 for Frivolous Voter Fraud Allegations” by Mitchell Schmidt (Wisconsin State Journal) for Madison.com
National: “DOJ Plans to Investigate Boxes of Records Taken to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago” by Matt Zapotosky and Jacqueline Alemany (Washington Post) for MSN
Michigan: “Jury Acquits Two in Michigan Governor Kidnap Plot; Deadlocks on Two Others” by Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) for MSN
New Jersey: “With Revelation of Racist Recordings, Prosecutors Face Scrutiny Over Their Handling of Investigation” by Riley Yates and S.P. Sullivan (NJ Advance Media) for MSN
New York: “Read: The plan to replace JCOPE” by Chris Bragg for Albany Times Union
Minnesota: “Elephants in the Room? Bill Language Would Ban Private Clubs for Lawmakers, Lobbyists Proposed by GOP Campaign Committee” by Peter Callaghan for MinnPost
April 8, 2022 •
National/Federal Democrats Unveil Bill to Impose Ethics, Recusal Standards on Supreme Court Yahoo News – Harper Neidig (The Hill) | Published: 4/6/2022 A group of Democratic lawmakers introduced legislation that would force the U.S. Supreme Court to adopt various ethics standards. […]
Democrats Unveil Bill to Impose Ethics, Recusal Standards on Supreme Court
Yahoo News – Harper Neidig (The Hill) | Published: 4/6/2022
A group of Democratic lawmakers introduced legislation that would force the U.S. Supreme Court to adopt various ethics standards. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said the bill is aimed at addressing a lack of clear, enforceable standards for when justices should recuse themselves. The legislation largely mirrors previous bills aimed at reforming judicial ethics at the Supreme Court, but Democrats said there is a new urgency behind the effort amid outcry over revelations involving Ginni Thomas, a Republican activist and the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas.
Dissatisfied with Their Party, Wealthy Republican Donors Form Secret Coalitions
Yahoo News – Kenneth Vogel, Shane Goldmacher, and Ryan Mac (New York Times) | Published: 4/7/2022
A new coalition of wealthy conservative benefactors that says it aims to “disrupt but advance the Republican agenda” gathered for a private summit recently at former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. The coalition, called the Rockbridge Network, includes some of Trump’s biggest donors, such as Peter Thiel and Rebekah Mercer, and has laid out an ambitious goal – to reshape the American right by spending more than $30 million on conservative media, legal, policy, and voter registration projects, among other initiatives.
Flurry of New Laws Move Blue and Red States Further Apart
Yahoo News – Shawn Hubler and Jill Cowan (New York Times) | Published: 4/3/2022
Spurred by a U.S. Supreme Court that is expected to soon upend an array of longstanding rights, including the constitutional right to abortion, left-leaning lawmakers from Washington to Vermont have begun to expand access to abortion, bolster voting rights and denounce laws in conservative states targeting LGBTQ. minors. The flurry of action, particularly in the West, is intensifying already marked differences between life in liberal- and conservative-led parts of the country. It is a sign of the consequences when state governments are controlled increasingly by single parties. Control of legislative chambers is split between parties now in two states – Minnesota and Virginia – compared with 15 states 30 years ago.
Former GOP Lawmaker Pardoned by Trump Hit with Campaign Finance Fines
NBC News – Zoë Richards | Published: 4/1/2022
Former U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, who was pardoned by former President Trump in 2020, agreed to pay an FEC fine over misuse of campaign funds. Hunter and his wife Margaret Hunter, his former campaign manager, said they would pay $12,000 “solely for the purpose of settling this matter only and without admitting liability.” Hunter’s campaign committee agreed to pay a separate $4,000 fine. The FEC said due to his campaign’s “lack of financial resources,” the agency sought a smaller than usual fine, noting it would typically seek a “substantially higher civil penalty” of $133,000 based on the violations.
GAO: Most lobbyists follow disclosure rules, but some leave out details
Roll Call – Kate Ackley | Published: 4/5/2022
More than 90 percent of lobbyists provided documentation to back up their publicly reported income and expenses, the Government Accountability Office concluded after conducting routine audits of registered lobbyists to assess compliance with the Lobbying Disclosure Act. Still, the audit found some 35 percent of reports may have omitted previous government employment, which lobbyists are required to list. About seven percent missed some campaign contributions that lobbyists are required to report.
Garland Faces Growing Pressure as Jan. 6 Investigation Widens
Seattle Times – Michael Schmidt, Katie Rogers, and Katie Benner (New York Times) | Published: 4/2/2022
Attorney General Merrick Garland’s deliberative approach to investigating the riot at the Capitol has come to frustrate Democratic allies of the White House and, at times, President Biden himself. As recently as late last year, Biden confided to his inner circle that he believed former President Trump was a threat to democracy and should be prosecuted. While Biden has never communicated his frustrations directly to Garland, he has said privately he wanted Garland to act less like a ponderous judge and more like a prosecutor who is willing to take decisive action over the events of January 6, 2021.
House Judiciary Delves into FARA in First Dedicated Hearing in 30 Years
Politico – Caitlin Oprysko | Published: 4/5/2022
Lawmakers, a legal scholar, government watchdogs, and a nonprofit advocate debated whether the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) should be expanded or reined in during a recent hearing, the first such session dedicated to FARA held by the House Judiciary Committee since 1991. The hearing held by the panel’s subcommittee on the Constitution, civil rights, and civil liberties, largely revolved around how to balance the transparency objectives of FARA and target the law without infringing upon or having a chilling effect on the constitutionally protected activities that the statute regulates.
House Votes to Hold Ex-Trump Aides Navarro, Scavino in Contempt of Congress
MSN – Jacqueline Alemany, Matt Zapotosky, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 4/6/2022
The House voted to hold two former aides to ex-President Trump in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with subpoenas related to the investigation into the attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. The vote results in criminal referrals to the Justice Department, which will decide whether to charge former trade and manufacturing director Peter Navarro and former White House communications chief Daniel Scavino Jr. with misdemeanors that can result in up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
How Trump Allies Are Pushing to Hand-Count Ballots Around the U.S.
MSN – Rosalind Helderman, Amy Gardner, and Emma Brown (Washington Post) | Published: 4/4/2022
Allies of former President Trump are traveling the country to press for hand-counted paper ballots in elections. In recent weeks, officials have discussed the idea in public meetings in Colorado, Louisiana, Kansas, Nevada, and New Hampshire, and bills to require hand-counting have been proposed in at least six states. None of the statewide bills have passed, nor have the proposals gotten traction in large jurisdictions. But there has been increasing pressure placed on Republicans to endorse the idea, and some smaller towns and counties are now seriously considering it. Top backers of Trump’s election fraud claims are investing heavily in the effort to promote hand-counting and using the pitch to raise money from supporters.
Inside the Consulting Firm Run by Ginni Thomas, Wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas
MSN – Brian Schwartz (CNBC) | Published: 4/5/2022
Ginni Thomas runs a little-known consulting company that some campaign watchdog groups say could create yet another conflict-of-interest for her husband, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Text messages show Ginni Thomas prodded former President Trump’s then chief of staff, Mark Meadows, in late 2020 to try to overturn the presidential election results. It has led to calls by lawmakers to create a formal Supreme Court code of ethics. Very little is known about her company, Liberty Consulting, which is listed as an asset on her husband’s Supreme Court disclosures.
Nonprofits Help Fill the Gap in Statehouse News Coverage
Governing – Alan Greenblatt | Published: 4/6/2022
Nationwide, the number of statehouse reporters employed at nonprofit news outlets has grown from 92 in 2014 to 353 today. That means they represent 20 percent of the total statehouse press corps, up from just six percent in 2014, according to a new study. Journalism in general is in decline but it appears statehouse reporting will not vanish, thanks in large part to nonprofit newsrooms. But fewer than half of the state-level journalists are full-time reporters, according to the research. The rest are only covering Legislatures or other parts of state government part time, or they are interns or support staff.
U.S. Judge Acquits Jan. 6 Defendant Who Said He Was Waved in by Police
MSN – Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 4/6/2022
A federal judge found a former U.S. Energy Department contract engineer not guilty of trespassing and disorderly conduct in the attack on the Capitol, saying the defendant plausibly argued that police officers allowed him into the building. U.S. District Court Judge Trevor McFadden, a Donald Trump appointee, acquitted Matthew Martin of four misdemeanor counts of trespassing and disorderly conduct in a bench trial, handing the Justice Department its first defeat in a Capitol breach prosecution.
Canada – Foreign-Lobbyist Registry Finds Support Among Canadian Critics of Russia, Iran and China
The Globe and Mail – Steven Chase | Published: 4/7/2022
A bill that would set up a public registry to track those seeking to influence government on behalf of foreign countries is gaining support among Canadians concerned about the efforts by Russia, Iran, and China to lobby policymakers. The legislation would require those acting on behalf of a foreign government or entities related to that government to register. This obligation would be triggered if they seek to influence public policy, legislation, regulations, and government programs or if they want to set up meetings with public officeholders.
From the States and Municipalities
Arkansas – Firm Paying $8M to Arkansas, Feds Over Corruption Probe
MSN – Associated Press | Published: 3/31/2022
The nonprofit that was at the center of a corruption probe that involved several legislators is paying more than $6.9 million to the federal government and more than $1.1 million in restitution to Arkansas. Federal prosecutors announced the non-prosecution agreement with Preferred Family Healthcare. Several former executives from the charity, former Arkansas legislators, and others have pleaded guilty as part of the corruption probe.
Colorado – Former Colorado Elections Official Tina Peters May Have Breached a State Ethics Law by Accepting a Private Plane Ride from Mike Lindell
Yahoo News – Cheryl Teh (Business Insider) | Published: 4/5/2022
Former Colorado elections official Tina Peters may have flouted a state ethics law by accepting a private plane ride from MyPillow founder Mike Lindell. He said he gave Peters a lift on his private jet in August when he flew her to his cyber-symposium in South Dakota. Peters’ acceptance of the place ride may have violated Amendment 41, which prohibits public officials like Peters from receiving gifts, including travel, that cost more than $65.
Florida – Federal Judge Overturns Parts of Florida Election Law, Citing ‘Horrendous History’ of Racism
Yahoo News – Gary Fineout (Politico) | Published: 3/31/2022
A federal judge struck down key provisions of a 2021 Florida election law championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis and ruled the state must get court approval for the next 10 years before it enacts further changes in three areas. Chief U.S. District Court Judge Mark Walker said the law placed restrictions on voters that were unconstitutional and discriminated against minority citizens. Those included limits on drop boxes used for mail-in voting, on giving items to voters waiting in line, and new requirements placed on voter registration groups. Walker framed Florida’s law as another in a long line of changes that were aimed at Democrats but wound up placing an illegal burden on minorities.
Florida – Inside the Scott Maddox Messages: A Tallahassee Democrat investigation into back-door dealings
Yahoo News – Jeff Burlew, Jeffrey Schweers, and Karl Etters (Tallahassee Democrat) | Published: 4/5/2022
Before federal prosecutors unveiled their case in the public corruption trial of John Burnette, a treasure trove of sealed government evidence found its way online because of a mix-up by someone on the defense team. The evidence consisted of hundreds of text messages to and from former Tallahassee Mayor Scott Maddox, the central figure in the FBI’s “Operation Capital Currency” investigation and one of Burnette’s co-defendants. The messages between Maddox and numerous political movers and shakers laid bare the way he conducted business behind the scenes during his last years in office. Maddox is set to be sentenced in the case.
Florida – Legislature Delivers Gov. DeSantis Second Pass at Limiting Big Dollar Influence in Ballot Initiatives
Florida Politics – Renzo Downey | Published: 4/5/2022
Legislative leaders officially sent Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis their second attempt to limit spending in the ballot initiative process after last year’s proposal met legal hurdles. House Bill 921 would limit non-Floridians from donating more than $3,000, and out-of-state political committees from receiving donations worth more than $3,000, when it comes to ballot initiatives in the petition-gathering process. Critics say it still runs afoul of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision protecting political contributions as free speech.
Georgia – State Worker Accused of Using Fake Belly to Pretend She’s Pregnant Skirts Prison in GA
MSN – Hayley Fowler (Charlotte Observer) | Published: 4/4/2022
A former state employee in Georgia accused of concocting an elaborate sham pregnancy that included a made-up father and pretend baby bump will not go to prison after she pleaded guilty to criminal charges. Robin Folsom pleaded guilty to charges of identity theft and making false statements. A judge sentenced her to five years of probation and 40 hours of community service as a result. She was also ordered to pay $12,307 in restitution. Folsom is accused of lying about her pregnancies to receive 265 hours of paid leave under the Family Medical Leave Act.
Georgia – Would Longer Session Help Georgia Legislature?
Georgia Public Broadcasting – Craig Nelson | Published: 3/31/2022
Critics wonder if the traditional flurry of last-minute activity at the end of the 40-day legislative session is compatible with Georgia’s oft-stated ambition to be a major economic and political player in the nation and lawmakers’ duty to oversee a fiscal year budget now exceeding $30 billion. They say even more problematic is the lack of ethnic, gender, and economic diversity that the so-called citizen legislator model engenders.
Kansas – Kansas Statehouse Subpoenas, Pay-to-Play Allegations, Consultants’ Feud Disrupt End of Session
Kansas Reflector – Tim Carpenter | Published: 4/3/2022
Before adjourning the legislative session, Republican lawmakers attempted to write into law a requirement that the executive director of the Governmental Ethics Commission hold a Kansas license to practice law. The target of their ire was Executive Director Mark Skoglund, the top regulator of legislators’ campaign finance activities who fell out of favor among some Republicans. The final hours also featured the disclosure that the ethics commission issued subpoenas to GOP legislators and political operatives as part of an investigation into PACs tied to conservative causes and lawmakers.
Louisiana – Jeff Landry Spent $420,000+ from Campaign Donors on His Own Staffing Company
Corporation Crime Commission – Andrea Gallo (The Advocate) | Published: 3/31/2022
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry has directed more than $420,000 in campaign money to a staffing company he owns. His practice of cutting campaign checks to companies he owns stretches back to at least 2007 but has accelerated in recent years. A spokesperson for Landry says the payments are perfectly legal, and the attorney general only runs his campaign staff payroll through UST Staffing because it is efficient. Landry is the only statewide official in using such a system, and the net effect is that his campaign reports do not show how many people work for his campaign, or who they are.
Maryland – Hogan Signs New Md. Congressional Map into Law, Ending Legal Battles
MSN – Meagan Flynn and Ovetta Wiggins (Washington Post) | Published: 4/4/2022
Gov. Larry Hogan signed a new Maryland congressional map into law, ending legal battles over the congressional maps that had left the state’s campaigns in limbo. Hogan agreed to enact the new map after the Maryland attorney general’s office said it would abandon its appeal of a judge’s ruling that found the previous map was an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. Republican also plaintiffs agreed to abandon challenges to the new map. The agreement means that, after months of legal wrangling, Maryland’s congressional map is set for the upcoming midterm elections and for the next decade.
Maryland – Latinos Find Little Room in Majority African American County
MSN – Rachel Chason (Washington Post) | Published: 4/4/2022
As they watched their communities devastated by hunger and sickness, a group of Latino leaders in Prince George’s County said their struggle for resources during the coronavirus pandemic was exacerbated by the near-total lack of Latino officials in the government. A cohort of Latino leaders who issued a statement six months ago highlighting the lack of representation say their requests for an audit have been dismissed and their calls for the administration to change its recruitment practices have gone unanswered. It’s an old friction in Prince George’s that was felt anew as the pandemic underscored inequities faced by Black and Latino communities nationwide, with both historically marginalized groups struggling for resources.
Michigan – Michigan AG Hopeful Tom Leonard’s Fundraising Draws Fairness Concerns
Bridge Michigan – Yue Stella Yu | Published: 4/1/2022
John Kennedy was sure who he wanted elected as Michigan’s next attorney general, and money was not a problem. But Kennedy did not know how much money his desired candidate, former House Speaker Tom Leonard, needed to win. “We asked him what the maximum we could give to the campaign was,” said Kennedy. The maximum an individual can give to someone running for statewide office in Michigan is $7,150. But Kennedy and his wife wrote multiple checks totaling $39,300 to support Leonard’s bid. The Kennedys each contributed their individual maximum to Leonard’s campaign. But John Kennedy then wrote a second check for $25,000 to one of Leonard’s leadership PACs, the Michigan Values Leadership Fund.
Mississippi – Phil Bryant Had His Sights on a Payout as Welfare Funds Flowed to Brett Favre
MSN – Anna Wolfe (Mississippi Today) | Published: 4/5/2022
Former Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant used the authority of his office, the weight of his political influence, and the power of his connections to help his friend and retired NFL quarterback Brett Favre boost a pharmaceutical venture. Then Bryant tried to cash in on the project when he left office, text messages show. Favre met with Bryant’s welfare officials to strike a deal for a $1.7 million investment in the biomedical startup Prevacus, which promised it had found a treatment for concussions. Prosecutors now say that money was stolen from a federal program intended to serve the state’s poorest residents, a pot of money that had virtually no oversight.
Nevada – Former Democratic Assemblyman Indicted for Campaign Fund Theft, Falsifying Documents
Nevada Independent – Sean Golonka | Published: 3/31/2022
A grand jury indicted former Nevada Assembly member Alexander Assefa on 14 charges, finding probable cause Assefa stole tens of thousands of dollars from his campaign account and lied about his residency on candidacy forms. During the 2019 legislative session, lawmakers updated the penalty thresholds for crimes of theft, but because Assefa committed the crimes before implementation of the change, he was charged under the previous law.
New Hampshire – Trump Aide Seeking NH House Seat Voted in 2 States in 2016
MSN – Brian Slodysko and Holly Ramer (Associated Press) | Published: 4/5/2022
A former Trump administration official now running for Congress in New Hampshire voted twice during the 2016 primary election season, potentially violating federal voting law. Matt Mowers, a leading GOP primary candidate looking to unseat U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas, cast an absentee ballot in New Hampshire’s 2016 presidential primary. At the time, Mowers served as the director of former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s presidential campaign. After Christie’s bid fizzled, Mowers cast another ballot in New Jersey’s Republican presidential primary, using his parents’ address to re-register in his home state.
New Jersey – A Bribe Is a Bribe, Court Says, Ruling That a Mayoral Candidate Is Subject to N.J. Corruption Laws
Newark Star Ledger – Ted Sherman (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 4/4/2022
An appeals court reinstated the bribery indictment against former Bayonne mayoral candidate Jason O’Donnell. The ruling reverses a controversial trial court’s decision to throw out the case last year because O’Donnell was not an elected public official when he reportedly took $10,000 in a paper bag in a corruption sting set up by the New Jersey attorney general’s office. In that earlier decision, a Superior Court judge concluded that as a candidate for public office, O’Donnell had no power to make any promises in return for the cash payment prosecutors say he accepted. He later lost the election.
New Jersey – Emails Reveal Prominent Law Firms Were Among Donors to Caddle’s Dark Money Groups
Yahoo News – Matt Friedman (Politico) | Published: 4/6/2022
An attorney for one of the biggest school districts in New Jersey raised money from law firms that funded a “dark money” group run by political operative Sean Caddle, who has admitted hiring two men to kill an associate. The group, in turn, indirectly paid for ads and canvassing to boost the political faction that had hired the lawyer, Jonathan Williams. Emails reveal some of the donors to a network of “dark money” organizations Caddle and Gianni Donates formed in what appeared to be an effort to hide the source of the money spent on municipal elections around the state, a network that has drawn interest from state and federal investigators.
New York – Cuomo Files Lawsuit and Complaint Targeting Ethics Commission
Albany Times Union – Brendan Lyons | Published: 4/2/2022
Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is waging a legal counter assault on the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE). His attorney, Rita Glavin, filed a complaint asking the state inspector general’s office to investigate their claim that members of the commission or its staff leaked confidential information about Cuomo’s dealings with the ethics panel. Glavin also filed a lawsuit in state Supreme Court challenging JCOPE’s efforts to make him return more than $5 million in proceeds from a book he wrote about his administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
New York – New York Judge Strikes Down Democratic-Drawn Maps
MSN – Colby Itkowitz (Washington Post) | Published: 3/31/2022
A New York judge struck down the state’s new congressional and legislative maps as defying a voter-backed constitutional amendment that aimed to end partisan gerrymandering. State Supreme Court Judge Patrick McAllister ordered state lawmakers to draw bipartisan maps by April 11 or the court will appoint an independent map drawer to do it. The state will appeal the decision, triggering an automatic stay until the state appeals court takes it up.
Ohio – Former DeWine Aide Warned Governor About Utility Regulator Before the FBI Raided His Home
Ohio Capital Journal – Jake Zuckerman | Published: 4/4/2022
More than two years before FirstEnergy admitted paying Ohio’s top utility regulator a $4.3 million bribe, Mike DeWine’s former campaign treasurer warned senior aides to the new governor about the eventual nominee’s “opaque and undisclosed” financial ties to the company. The warning came in a 198-page dossier alleging Sam Randazzo, a lawyer and lobbyist who represented gas companies and industrial scale electricity buyers, uses businesses registered in his name to “funnel” money from FirstEnergy to buy real estate.
Ohio – New Whistleblower Policy Would Require Cuyahoga County Employees to Report County Ethics – but Not State, Federal – Violations
MSN – Kaitlin Durbin (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 4/6/2022
In what is expected to be the final revision, the Cuyahoga County Council members compromised on a whistleblower policy that limits mandatory reporting only to elected officials, employees, and board members with “actual knowledge” of county ethics violations. It also takes them off the hook for having to speak up if they know the violation has already been reported by someone else.
South Carolina – SC GOP Lawmaker Hit with 133 SC Ethics Charges Alleging Spending, Reporting Violations
MSN – Maayan Schechter (The State) | Published: 4/5/2022
South Carolina Rep. Jonathan Hill faces 133 ethics-related charges for allegedly violating the state’s campaign spending and disclosure laws that includes an allegation he spent campaign cash on a personal mortgage. Hill has long been at odds with his own party. He is the only Republican who is not a member of the House Republican Caucus after he was indefinitely suspended after publicly criticizing leadership, sharing private caucus conversations, and posting lawmakers’ cellphone numbers online.
South Dakota – South Dakota Lawmaker Gave Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg Legal Advice After Fatal Crash
Yahoo News – Associated Press | Published: 4/6/2022
A lawmaker who will cast a vote on whether to impeach South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg says he gave him legal advice following Ravnsborg’s involvement in a fatal car crash. Rep. Scott Odenbach, who at the time was running for the seat he eventually won, said Ravnsborg reached out to him for input on a public statement that was released two days after the attorney general struck and killed Joe Boever, a pedestrian who was walking along a rural highway.
Tennessee – Ethics Reform Bill to Tamp Down on Corruption Clears First Hurdle in Tennessee Senate
Tennessee Lookout – Sam Stockard | Published: 4/5/2022
Legislation designed to make ethics laws more transparent passed its first committee. Senate Bill 1005 now goes to the Senate floor. The bill would require increased reporting for lawmakers, PACs, some key staff members, and groups with 501c4 tax designations. Lawmakers, for instance, would be required to report all contributions and expenses. The Legislature has been embroiled in an FBI investigation for more than three years, part of which focuses on the formation of shady political committees and vendors that did business with the House Republican Caucus and GOP members.
Tennessee – Nashville Council Censures Member Jonathan Hall for Campaign Finance Violations
Yahoo News – Cassandra Stephenson (Tennessean) | Published: 4/6/2022
Nashville’s Metro Council voted to censure Jonathan Hall for campaign finance-related ethics violations, an uncommon move for the 40-member body. The Board of Ethical Conduct recommended censure after concluding Hall violated the ethics code by failing to file required financial disclosures in 2018, 2019, and 2020. The Tennessee Registry of Election Finance voted in January to impose a $360,000 penalty on Hall for 36 violations. Registry board members delayed their reconsideration of the penalty pending updates from local authorities.
Texas – Texas Is Quietly Using Redistricting Lawsuits to Launch a Broader War Against Federal Voting Rights Law
Texas Tribune – Alexa Ura | Published: 4/4/2022
Over the years, Texas lawmakers have repeatedly been ordered to correct gerrymandering that suppressed the political power of Black and Hispanic voters. The pathway to federal court has been through the Voting Rights Act. Key portions of the law have been weakened in the last decade, but Texans of color still find a way to file lawsuits under its Section 2, which prohibits discriminatory voting procedures and practices that deny voters of color an equal opportunity to participate in elections. Tucked into the legal briefs the state has filed this year with a three-judge panel considering redistricting lawsuits are two arguments that reach far beyond the validity of the specific maps being challenged.
Wisconsin – Robin Vos Found in Contempt of Court for Failing to Turn Over Records About the Republican Election Review
Yahoo News – Patrick Marley (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) | Published: 3/30/2022
A judge found Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos in contempt of court for failing to release documents related to a Republican-run review of the 2020 election. Dane County Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn ordered Vos and the Assembly to turn over records within 14 days and to each pay $1,000 per day if they fail to do that. Vos has approved spending up to $676,000 in taxpayer funds on the election review, but the review and its related legal expenses could exceed that amount.
April 7, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Florida: “Legislature Delivers Gov. DeSantis Second Pass at Limiting Big Dollar Influence in Ballot Initiatives” by Renzo Downey for Florida Politics New Jersey: “Emails Reveal Prominent Law Firms Were Among Donors to Caddle’s Dark Money Groups” by Matt […]
Florida: “Legislature Delivers Gov. DeSantis Second Pass at Limiting Big Dollar Influence in Ballot Initiatives” by Renzo Downey for Florida Politics
New Jersey: “Emails Reveal Prominent Law Firms Were Among Donors to Caddle’s Dark Money Groups” by Matt Friedman (Politico) for Yahoo News
South Carolina: “SC GOP Lawmaker Hit with 133 SC Ethics Charges Alleging Spending, Reporting Violations” by Maayan Schechter (The State) for MSN
Tennessee: “Nashville Council Censures Member Jonathan Hall for Campaign Finance Violations” by Cassandra Stephenson (Tennessean) for Yahoo News
National: “Nonprofits Help Fill the Gap in Statehouse News Coverage” by Alan Greenblatt for Governing
National: “Democrats Unveil Bill to Impose Ethics, Recusal Standards on Supreme Court” by Harper Neidig (The Hill) for Yahoo News
Colorado: “Former Colorado Elections Official Tina Peters May Have Breached a State Ethics Law by Accepting a Private Plane Ride from Mike Lindell” by Cheryl Teh (Business Insider) for Yahoo News
Tennessee: “Ethics Reform Bill to Tamp Down on Corruption Clears First Hurdle in Tennessee Senate” by Sam Stockard for Tennessee Lookout
National: “House Judiciary Delves into FARA in First Dedicated Hearing in 30 Years” by Caitlin Oprysko for Politico
Maryland: “Hogan Signs New Md. Congressional Map into Law, Ending Legal Battles” by Meagan Flynn and Ovetta Wiggins (Washington Post) for MSN
April 5, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “Former GOP Lawmaker Pardoned by Trump Hit with Campaign Finance Fines” by Zoë Richards for NBC News Michigan: “Michigan AG Hopeful Tom Leonard’s Fundraising Draws Fairness Concerns” by Yue Stella Yu for Bridge Michigan Elections Texas: “Texas […]
National: “Former GOP Lawmaker Pardoned by Trump Hit with Campaign Finance Fines” by Zoë Richards for NBC News
Michigan: “Michigan AG Hopeful Tom Leonard’s Fundraising Draws Fairness Concerns” by Yue Stella Yu for Bridge Michigan
Texas: “Texas Is Quietly Using Redistricting Lawsuits to Launch a Broader War Against Federal Voting Rights Law” by Alexa Ura for Texas Tribune
National: “Garland Faces Growing Pressure as Jan. 6 Investigation Widens” by Michael Schmidt, Katie Rogers, and Katie Benner (New York Times) for Seattle Times
Maryland: “Latinos Find Little Room in Majority African American County” by Rachel Chason (Washington Post) for MSN
New York: “Cuomo Files Lawsuit and Complaint Targeting Ethics Commission” by Brendan Lyons for Albany Times Union
Ohio: “Former DeWine Aide Warned Governor About Utility Regulator Before the FBI Raided His Home” by Jake Zuckerman for Ohio Capital Journal
National: “Flurry of New Laws Move Blue and Red States Further Apart” by Shawn Hubler and Jill Cowan (New York Times) for Yahoo News
April 4, 2022 •
On April 1, 2022, Elections Canada published the updated limits on expenses for regulated activities of third parties involved in federal elections in Canada. The Canada Elections Act imposes a limit on expenses a third party can incur for regulated […]
On April 1, 2022, Elections Canada published the updated limits on expenses for regulated activities of third parties involved in federal elections in Canada. The Canada Elections Act imposes a limit on expenses a third party can incur for regulated political activities.
For the period of April 1, 2022, to March 31, 2023, a third party is prohibited from incurring overall election advertising expenses of a total amount of more than $543,200 during a general election. The previous limit was $525,700.
For the same period of April 1, 2022, to March 31, 2023, a third party is prohibited from incurring election advertising expenses in a given electoral district of a total amount of more than $4,656 during a general election. The previous limit was $4,506.
Adjustments are made annually based on a formula of a base amount multiplied by the inflation adjustment factor in effect for the period.
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