December 2, 2021 •
Elections National: “Prosecutors Demanded Records of Sidney Powell’s Fundraising Groups as Part of Criminal Probe” by Isaac Stanley-Becker, Emma Brown, and Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) for MSN Ethics National: “CNN Suspends Chris Cuomo ‘Indefinitely’ After Documents Detail Help He Gave […]
National: “Prosecutors Demanded Records of Sidney Powell’s Fundraising Groups as Part of Criminal Probe” by Isaac Stanley-Becker, Emma Brown, and Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “CNN Suspends Chris Cuomo ‘Indefinitely’ After Documents Detail Help He Gave His Brother” by Sarah Ellison and Jeremy Barr (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows Cooperating with Jan. 6 Committee” by Mariana Alfaro (Washington Post) for MSN
Connecticut: “Gov. Lamont Says His Wife Will Pull Back on Investments in Connecticut and Blames Politics for Ethical Questions” by Christopher Keating and Stephen Singer (Hartford Courant) for Yahoo News
New York: “In the ‘New Albany,’ State Senate Regularly Outpaces Assembly on Reform” by Ethan Geringer-Sameth for Gotham Gazette
Virginia: “Roanoke Councilman’s Magazine Refunds Money to City After Questions” by Jeff Sturgeon for Roanoke Times
Wisconsin: “Panel Rules No Ethics Violation for Madison Assessor Who Gave Candy Bars to Review Body” by Logan Wroge for Wisconsin State Journal
Maine: “Maine Lawmaker Who Flouted Pandemic Rules Resigns After Wife’s COVID-19 Death” by Edward Murphy (Portland Press Herald) for Yahoo News
National: “Dark-Money Group Paid Former Trump AG to Ask for Pardons – and He Never Registered as a Lobbyist” by Roger Sollenberger (Daily Beast) for Yahoo News
November 30, 2021 •
Campaign Finance Massachusetts: “Organizers Seek Up to $25,000 from Donors to Fund Mayor Wu’s Inauguration” by Meghan Irons (Boston Globe) for MSN Elections National: “Trump Allies Work to Place Supporters in Key Election Posts Across the Country, Spurring Fears About […]
Massachusetts: “Organizers Seek Up to $25,000 from Donors to Fund Mayor Wu’s Inauguration” by Meghan Irons (Boston Globe) for MSN
National: “Trump Allies Work to Place Supporters in Key Election Posts Across the Country, Spurring Fears About Future Vote Challenges” by Amy Gardner, Tom Hamburger, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) for MSN
Michigan: “Benson’s Bid to Make Permanent Absentee Voter Rules Draws Opposition” by Beth LeBlanc for Detroit News
New York: “Senate and Assembly Sexual Harassment Policies Are Not Strong Enough, Some Say” by Michelle Del Rey for Albany Times Union
Ohio: “Big Questions Remain in Huge Medicaid Procurement” by Marty Schladen for Ohio Capital Journal
Pennsylvania: “Pa. Commissioners Called LGBTQ Gathering a ‘Hate Group’ and Denied Funds to Library Where It Was to Meet. So Citizens Stepped In.” by Sydney Page (Washington Post) for MSN
Europe: “New Rules for MPs Proposed in Wake of Lobbying Scandal” by Alan McGuiness for Sky News
Oregon: “Redistricting Reduces Indigenous Voting Power in NW Legislative Races, Advocates Say” by Chris Aadland (Indian Country Today) for Portland Oregonian
November 24, 2021 •
Campaign Finance National: “Joe Kennedy III’s 2020 Senate Campaign Was Fined $35,000 for Spending $1.5 Million in Donations Intended for the General Election That He Never Made It To” by Bryan Metzger (Business Insider) for MSN Arizona: “Corp Comm Defends […]
National: “Joe Kennedy III’s 2020 Senate Campaign Was Fined $35,000 for Spending $1.5 Million in Donations Intended for the General Election That He Never Made It To” by Bryan Metzger (Business Insider) for MSN
Arizona: “Corp Comm Defends Ethics Policy on Campaign Cash, Recusal to Legislature” by Jeremy Duda for Arizona Mirror
Missouri: “‘Exploiting a Loophole’: PACs tied to Missouri lobbyist draw new criticism” by Jason Hancock for Missouri Independent
Colorado: “Judge Orders Two Lawyers Who Filed Suit Challenging 2020 Election to Pay Hefty Fees: ‘They need to take responsibility’” by Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Red Brands and Blue Brands: Is hyper-partisanship coming for corporate America?” by David Gelles for New York Times
Michigan: “Rizzo Lawyer Convicted of Bribery in Macomb County Corruption Crackdown” by Robert Snell for Detroit News
New York: “Cuomo Impeachment Probe Bolsters Claims on Book Deal, Sexual Harassment and Nursing Homes” by Bill Mahoney, Anna Gronewold, and Shannon Young for Politico
South Carolina: “Uncovered: S.C. public officials skate by ethics investigations with little accountability” by Avery Wilks, Stephen Hobbs, and Thad Moore (Charleston Post and Courier) for Sumter Item
Washington: “King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg’s Office Cut Deal to Head Off Ethics Probe into Nepotism Claims” by Lewis Kamb for Seattle Times
North Dakota: “Fargo School Board Member Could Face Censure After Lobbying Lawmakers on COVID-19 Issues” by C.S. Hagen for Fargo Forum
Oregon: “Accusations Against a California Campaign Finance Watchdog Went Undisclosed for Months” by Alex Baumhardt (Oregon Capital Chronicle) for Bend Bulletin
November 22, 2021 •
Campaign Finance National: “Texts Show Kimberly Guilfoyle Bragged About Raising Millions for Rally That Fueled Capitol Riot” by Joaquin Sapien and Joshua Kaplan for ProPublica Michigan: “Michigan GOP Asks Court to ‘Freeze’ Gov. Whitmer’s Recall Funds” by Craig Mauger for […]
National: “Texts Show Kimberly Guilfoyle Bragged About Raising Millions for Rally That Fueled Capitol Riot” by Joaquin Sapien and Joshua Kaplan for ProPublica
Michigan: “Michigan GOP Asks Court to ‘Freeze’ Gov. Whitmer’s Recall Funds” by Craig Mauger for Detroit News
New York: “Exec with Ties to NY Lieutenant Governor Indicted for Campaign Fraud” by Joshua Solomon for Albany Times Union
National: “U.S. Indicts Two Iranian Hackers Over 2020 Election Disinformation Campaign” by Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) for MSN
Kentucky: “Commission Alleges Grimes Violated Ethics Code, Improperly Assisted Democratic Candidates” by Austin Horn (Lexington Herald-Leader) for MSN
Maryland: “Maryland Lawmaker-Doctor Won’t Face Ethics Violation for Tuning into Legislative Meetings from the Operating Room” by Pamela Wood (Baltimore Sun) for MSN
Washington DC: “Bowser’s New Chair of D.C. Public Housing Board Did Not Pay $15,000 in Taxes, Records Show” by Paul Schwartzman (Washington Post) for MSN
Ohio: “Ohio Republicans’ Redistricting Map Dilutes Black Voters’ Power in Congress, Critics Say” by Colby Itkowitz (Washington Post) for MSN
November 19, 2021 •
National/Federal Appeals Court Temporarily Bars Release of Trump White House Records to House Jan. 6 Committee MSN – Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 11/11/2021 A federal appeals court blocked the imminent release of records of former President Trump’s White House […]
Appeals Court Temporarily Bars Release of Trump White House Records to House Jan. 6 Committee
MSN – Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 11/11/2021
A federal appeals court blocked the imminent release of records of former President Trump’s White House calls and activities related to the January 6 Capitol attack after a lower court found President Biden can waive his predecessor’s claim to executive privilege. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit granted a temporary injunction while it considers Trump’s request to hold off any release pending appeal, and fast-tracked oral arguments for a hearing November 30.
House Censures Rep. Gosar for Violent Video in Rare Rebuke
Kansas City Star – Kevin Freking and Brian Slodysko (Associated Press) | Published: 11/17/2021
The U.S. House voted to censure Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona for posting of an animated video that depicted him killing Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with a sword, an extraordinary rebuke that highlighted the political strains testing Washington and the country. Calling the video a clear threat to a lawmaker’s life, Democrats argued Gosar’s conduct would not be tolerated in any other workplace and should not be in Congress. The vote to censure Gosar and strip him of his committee assignments was approved almost entirely along party lines.
How a Cure for Gerrymandering Left U.S. Politics Ailing in New Ways
New York Times – Nick Corasaniti and Reid Epstein | Published: 11/17/2021
Partisan gerrymandering is as old as the republic, but good-government experts thought they had hit on a solution with independent commissions, advisory groups, and outside panels. Taking the map-drawing process out of the hands of lawmakers under pressure to win elections, the thinking went, would make American democracy more fair. But in some states, commissions with poorly designed structures have fallen victim to political divisions, leading the process to be handed to courts. In others, the panels’ authority has been subverted by state lawmakers, who have either forced the commissioners to draft new maps or chosen to make their own.
Left-Wing Midwest Media Outlet Launching with Backing from Dem Donor
MSN – Elena Schneider (Politico) | Published: 11/17/2021
A major Democratic donor is funding a new media outlet aimed at covering state and local races in the Midwest as the latest entrant into the growing partisan-media landscape. It is part of a recent trend of explicitly Democratic-backed digital news projects that have popped up in the last several years, as candidates and movements across the political spectrum try to speak directly to supporters, drive viral attention, and shape the media ecosystem by creating their own content instead of working through legacy outlets.
Liberal ‘Dark-Money’ Behemoth Funneled More than $400M in 2020
MSN – Scott Bland (Politico) | Published: 11/17/2021
A liberal group spent $410 million in 2020, aiding Democratic efforts to unseat then-President Trump and win back control of the U.S. Senate. The Sixteen Thirty Fund financed attack ads and funded massive get-out-the-vote and issue advocacy campaigns amid the coronavirus pandemic. It exploded in size during the Trump administration, going from tens of millions of dollars per year to raising and spending hundreds of millions. Its 2020 fundraising and spending illustrates the extent to which the left embraced the use of “dark money” to fight for its causes in recent years.
‘QAnon Shaman’ Jacob Chansley Is Sentenced to 41 Months in Prison
Politico – Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney | Published: 11/17/2021
Jacob Chansley, whose shirtless image on the U.S. Senate rostrum and menacing note to Vice President Mike Pence came to symbolize the January 6 assault on the Capitol, was sentenced to 41 months in prison, matching the harshest sentence handed down yet in the prosecution effort. U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth acknowledged Chansley had not engaged in physical violence but said his role as a leader among those who went into the Senate chamber and disrupted the electoral vote tally compelled a serious prison sentence.
Sen. Braun’s Campaign Accused by FEC of Breaking Campaign Finance Laws
MSN – Kaitlin Lange (Indianapolis Star) | Published: 11/11/2021
U.S. Sen. Mike Braun’s 2018 campaign has been accused of accepting millions of dollars of potentially improper loans in an FEC memorandum and draft audit. Braun’s campaign argues in all the loans and contributions were legal. The FEC auditors were concerned because it appeared Braun accepted bank loans that did not require collateral. The auditors also found two checks worth $1.5 million from Meyer Distributing, a corporation Braun founded, that they say were incorrectly reported as a loan, according to the report.
Steve Bannon Indicted After Refusal to Comply with Jan. 6 Committee Subpoena
MSN – Devlin Barrett, Jacqueline Alemany, and Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 11/12/2021
Former White House adviser Stephen Bannon was charged with two counts of contempt of Congress after refusing to comply with a subpoena from the House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. He was indicted by a grand jury in Washington, D.C., a rare move by the Justice Department to escalate the consequences of a dispute involving Congress. Court records indicate only three such cases have been filed since 1990. The charges against Bannon each carry a maximum sentence of one year in jail and may serve as a warning to others seeking to avoid or defy the select committee.
The FEC Relies on Candidates’ ‘Good Faith’ When It Comes to Foreign Donations. But the Agency’s Inspector General Says That’s ‘Insufficient Oversight’ and Poses a ‘National Security Risk.’
Yahoo News – Bryan Metzger (Business Insider) | Published: 11/10/2021
A report by the FEC’s internal watchdog found the agency’s current system of handling potential foreign contributions by largely relying on candidates and political action committees to certify that they haven’t received foreign money “poses a national security risk and provides insufficient oversight of possible illegal foreign donations.” The report also lists the ongoing growth in campaign spending, remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic, issues with senior leadership staffing, and cybersecurity to be among the biggest challenges the FEC faces.
This Was Supposed to Be a Big Year for Hill Pay. Staffers Aren’t Holding Their Breath
MSN – Chris Ciofi (Roll Call) | Published: 11/18/2021
For a while it seemed as if this would be the year that Congress tackled its long-standing staff retention issues, but aides say that hope is waning. The prospect of higher pay soared this summer after House leadership decoupled member and staffer salary caps, and as appropriators proposed a 20 percent increase in the money members can spend on their offices and payroll. But as fall turns to winter, the two parties remain far apart on how to fund the government for fiscal 2022 beyond a series of stopgaps.
UK Govt Vows to Toughen Rules for Lawmakers After Ethics Row
Yahoo News – Jill Lawless (Associated Press) | Published: 11/16/2021
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson proposed a ban on lawmakers acting as “paid consultants” and promised to tighten ethics rules in response to scandals over lobbying and outside jobs that have tarnished politics in the United Kingdom. Johnson said lawmakers should be investigated if they were “neglecting their duties to their constituents and prioritizing outside interests,” and should be banned from acting as “paid political consultants or lobbyists.” He promised to seek cross-party support for changes to the House of Commons’ code of conduct.
Why Facebook Won’t Let You Control Your Own News Feed
Yahoo News – Will Oremus (Washington Post) | Published: 11/13/2021
In at least two experiments, Facebook explored what happens when it turns off its news feed ranking system, the software that decides for each user which posts they see and in what order. Both tests appear to have taught the researchers that users are better off with Facebook’s software calling the shots. In testimony to Congress, whistleblower Frances Haugen pointed to the algorithm as central to the social network’s problems, arguing it amplifies and rewards hateful, divisive, misleading, and sometimes false content by putting it at the top of users’ feeds.
Why GOP Leaders Can’t Keep Paul Gosar in Line
Mother Jones – Russ Choma | Published: 11/17/2021
While there were always party factions or caucuses pursuing their own interests, party leadership in Congress expected members to cooperate. Unnecessary controversy and self-serving provocations were not in the playbook. A key motivator was campaign finance. To secure reelection, members almost always needed help from party leaders who hold the purse strings in the House, those at the helm of the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The present scandal featuring Rep. Paul Gosar shows how the old methods of financial control no longer work.
Why Governors Keep Snubbing the Senate
Yahoo News – Marianne Levine and Burgess Everett (Politico) | Published: 11/15/2021
Republicans could not convince high-profile GOP governors Chris Sununu of New Hampshire and Phil Scott of Vermont to run for the U.S. Senate and help them win back the majority in 2022. Two more GOP governors, Doug Ducey of Arizona and Larry Hogan of Maryland, have also resisted running in those states’ Senate races next year. It is the latest chapter in congressional leaders’ bipartisan struggle to lobby popular candidates to come to Washington. That is no shock to those who have made the leap from executive to legislator. Coming to Washington these days just does not hold much appeal.
From the States and Municipalities
Alabama – State: Former House speaker tried to influence prison legislation from prison
Alabama Political Reporter – Josh Moon | Published: 11/15/2021
Even from prison, former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard, who is serving time after being convicted of several felonies related to ethical violations, was attempting to use his remaining political power to coerce lawmakers to insert language into a recently passed prison bill that would have allowed him to go free. The filing from the state attorney general’s office, which is an objection to Hubbard’s request for an early release, cites more than 600 personal phone calls the state monitored between Hubbard and various associates, and dozens of emails.
California – Emails Show LA Commissioner Used Influence to Help Win $3 Million COVID-19 Contract, Union Alleges
Los Angeles Daily News – Scott Schwebke (Orange County Register) | Published: 11/14/2021
An embattled Los Angeles fire and police pensions commissioner accused of ethics violations by a law enforcement union over a $3 million contract to test unvaccinated city employees for COVID-19 began lobbying Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office nearly a year ago on behalf of his company, raising questions from critics about potential influence peddling, emails show. The Los Angeles Police Protective League is suing the city and demanding an investigation, alleging it failed to disclose that testing contractor PPS Health is partly owned by Dr. Pedram Salimpour, who was reappointed by Garcetti to the pension commission in 2017.
California – Lobbyists Weren’t Eligible for PPP Money, but California Firms Got Millions
San Diego Daily Tribune – Alexei Koseff (San Francisco Chronicle) | Published: 11/12/2021
Dozens of California lobbying firms received millions of dollars in emergency federal assistance meant for small businesses to ride out the coronavirus pandemic, though some were ineligible for the program. The low-interest Paycheck Protection Program loans were subject to long-standing eligibility requirements that included a prohibition on lending to firms “primarily engaged in political or lobbying activities,” meaning they derived more than half of their revenue from that business.
Colorado – FBI Raids Home of Lauren Boebert’s Ex-Campaign Manager in Colorado Election Tampering Probe
Salon – Igor Derysh | Published: 11/16/2021
The FBI raided the home of Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters and three others in an investigation into a voting system security breach. Peters was accused by state officials in August of helping to leak voting system passwords to a right-wing blog. The FBI also searched the home of Sherronna Bishop, who served as U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert’s campaign manager. Bishop has been one of Peters’ most prominent allies in stoking unfounded allegations of voting machine problems in the election and hinted at a rally she was privy to unreleased data from Mesa County.
Idaho – Rep. Priscilla Giddings Censured, Removed from Legislative Committee by Idaho House
Idaho Statesman – Hayat Norimine | Published: 11/15/2021
Idaho Rep. Priscilla Giddings will be removed from a legislative committee over her actions when a sexual assault allegation came forward against a former lawmaker. House members vote to censure Giddings after she shared a far-right outlet’s article that identified a 19-year-old legislative intern who accused former Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger of rape. Giddings will be removed from the House Commerce and Human Resources Committee, which oversees laws around state employees.
Illinois – Businessman Pleads Guilty to Bribing Ex-State Sen. Martin Sandoval for Help with IDOT Land Sale
Yahoo News – Jason Meisner (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 11/17/2021
Businessperson Vahooman Mirkhaef pleaded guilty to federal charges alleging he paid at least $15,000 in bribes to then-Illinois Sen. Martin Sandoval to secure the purchase of state-owned property near his company. Mirkhaef admitted he also provided cash and other benefits over a three-year period to another elected official, identified only as “Public Official A,” in return for the official “using his position to attempt to benefit and not interfere with the operation” of Mirkhaef’s business.
Illinois – Director Fired After Improper Law Certificate Given to Donor
Yahoo News – John O’Connor (Associated Press) | Published: 11/17/2021
The director of the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board was fired this fall after an investigation found he improperly issued a law enforcement certificate to an unqualified local philanthropist who is also the son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett. The Office of Executive Inspector General for the Agencies of the Governor determined Brent Fischer, executive director of the standards board since 2015, issued the certificate to Howard Buffett, who had served a 14-month appointment as Macon County sheriff and in 2016 donated land and $15 million for a law enforcement training academy.
Illinois – Ethics Board Says Aldermen Who Violate Code of Conduct Should Face Harsher Punishments as Gardiner Retaliation Claims Investigated
Book Club Chicago – Ariel Parrella-Aureli and Alex Nitkin (The Daily Line) | Published: 11/16/2021
The Chicago Board of Ethics is calling for harsher punishments for city council members who violate the council’s code of conduct after Ald. Jim Gardiner allegedly retaliated against constituents who criticized him. The board said it wants the city council to create an ordinance that would make the body’s code of conduct enforceable by law, not just “aspirational” as it is currently. This means officials caught flouting campaign finance rules or abusing their power in another way would be subject to sanctions such as fines, suspension, and termination.
Illinois – Pritzker Signs Law Banning Dark Money, Out-of-State Contributions in Judicial Campaigns
NPR Illinois – Hannah Meisel | Published: 11/15/2021
A new law in Illinois aims to ban out-of-state contributions and “dark money” in judicial campaigns by requiring all candidates to disclose the sources of their contributions. Gov. JB Pritzker signed Senate Bill 536, which makes other changes to the way elections are conducted. Under the bill, no judicial campaign committee is allowed to accept contributions from any out-of-state source or any person or entity that does not disclose the identity of those making the donation, except for contributions that are below the threshold for itemizing. It also raises the threshold for itemizing contributions to $1,000.
Illinois – State’s Top Fiscal Watchdog Cleared After Six-Year Battle Over Campaign Finance Violations Finally Resolved – for Now
NPR Illinois – Hannah Meisel | Published: 11/16/2021
The State Board of Elections voted unanimously to end years-long dispute over campaign finance violations committed by Illinois Auditor General Frank Mautino’s campaign committee before he became the state’s top fiscal watchdog. The board ruled Mautino and his now-defunct campaign committee did not knowingly violate campaign finance law during his two-decade tenure in the Illinois House. “Knowingly” was the key word the Illinois Supreme Court asked the board to concentrate on as it once again considered the what is left in a complaint first filed with the board nearly six years ago.
Iowa – Audit: Governor improperly used COVID funds for salaries
Yahoo News – David Pitt (Washington Post) | Published: 11/15/2021
A state audit on government spending accused Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds of using nearly $450,000 in federal coronavirus relief funds to pay salaries for 21 staff members for three months last year and concealing the spending by passing it through the state Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Reynolds has said the federal coronavirus relief law allowed salaries to be paid for workers whose job requirements were significantly changed due to the pandemic.
Maryland – Baltimore County Executive Proposes Public Campaign Finance Legislation
MSN – Taylor DeVille (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 11/15/2021
Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. announced a bill creating public financing that candidates for the county council and county executive could start using in 2026. The legislation would require candidates for council and county executive to meet different qualifying thresholds for eligibility. For qualifying candidates, the county would match every dollar on a sliding scale. The legislation would also establish a Fair Election Fund Commission.
Massachusetts – After 600 Days, the Massachusetts State House Remains Closed to the Public. It Appears to Be the Only State Capitol Still Shut on This Continent
Boston Globe – Matt Stoudt | Published: 11/14/2021
Steeped in history, the Massachusetts statehouse stands alone for many reasons among the country’s state Capitols: Its iconic dome was constructed with copper from Paul Revere’s foundry and Samuel Adams laid its cornerstone. The seat of the state’s executive and legislative branches now has another: The statehouse appears to be the only state Capitol on the continent where the public remains barred from entering. The pandemic-induced closure has now stretched past 600 days, and legislative leaders in charge of the building say they are juggling how to safely reopen a building that typically receives some 100,000 visitors each year.
Michigan – Retired Detroit Police Officer Involved in Vehicle Auctions Pleads Guilty to Taking Bribes
Yahoo News – Joe Guillen (Detroit Free Press) | Published: 11/17/2021
Alonzo Jones, a retired Detroit police officer who ran the department’s vehicle auctions for more than 10 years, pleaded guilty in federal court to accepting $3,200 in bribes. The bribe payments came from a confidential FBI source involving in the towing industry and an undercover agent. In exchange for the money, Jones falsified paperwork that transferred ownership of abandoned vehicles without a public auction as required by law to the confidential source and the undercover agent.
Minnesota – Senate GOP Gets OK to Create Private Club for Legislators, Lobbyists During Session
Minnesota Reformer – Ricardo Lopez | Published: 11/12/2021
State Senate Republicans received approval from the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board to create a private meeting space for legislators and lobbyists and other dues-paying members, raising concerns about transparency and undue influence and access. The Senate Victory Fund, the Senate GOP’s campaign committee, sought the opinion on its proposal to lease meeting space accessible to lawmakers and members who pay a fee.
Missouri – Parson PAC Hit with Second Fine from Missouri Ethics Regulators
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Kurt Erickson | Published: 11/17/2021
The campaign fund that raises money to push Missouri Gov. Mike Parson’s agenda illegally accepted a significant contribution from an out-of-state group last year. The Missouri Ethics Commission (MEC) said the Uniting Missouri PAC received a $150,000 contribution in October 2020 from a PAC associated with the Republican Attorney Generals Association. The contribution was deemed illegal because the attorney general association’s PAC was not registered with the MEC.
New York – AG Releases Interview Transcripts in Cuomo Harassment Probe
ABC News – Michael Hill, Jennifer Peltz, and Michael Sisak (Associated Press) | Published: 11/11/2021
Over an 11-hour interview with investigators last July, then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo defiantly denied allegations he sexually harassed women and sparred with the lawyers questioning him, accusing one of being out to get him, according to a transcript. State Attorney General Letitia James made public hundreds of pages of transcripts of interviews conducted by two independent lawyers, hired by her office, during their monthslong probe of sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo.
New York – Cuomo’s Book Approval Rescinded by Ethics Panel, Jeopardizing Millions
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 11/16/2021
The New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) voted to rescind approval of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s book deal, paving the way for commissioners to potentially claw back millions of dollars in proceeds paid to the ex-governor. In July 2020, JCOPE Deputy Counsel Martin Levine approved Cuomo’s request to write the book about his early handling of the pandemic. But it has since emerged that Cuomo used government staff to help edit and produce the book, something his government attorney at the time, Judith Mogul, had explicitly stated would not occur as she sought the staff’s approval that summer.
New York – How Small-Dollar Public Financing Helped NYC Elect Its Most Diverse City Council Ever
The City – Ese Olumhense | Published: 11/16/2021
Ninety-seven percent of the record-breaking 39 women and Black, Latino, and Asian New Yorkers elected to the city council in November raised money through the public financing program, which enables participating candidates to have their small-dollar donations matched eight-to-one with public money, according to a new analysis by the Brennan Center. The “robust” public matching funds program is partially responsible for the dramatic shift in representation in the incoming council, the report’s authors said. The new council will be the most racially diverse it has ever been, and women are expected to increase their representation to at least 59 percent.
New York – State Ethics Panel Issues Fines to Lobbyists in Secret
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 11/15/2021
The secrecy surrounding the New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) issuing fines to lobbyists for late reports makes it difficult to know whether the agency is enforcing the rules evenhandedly, a relevant question for an entity often accused of favoring the administration of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo. JCOPE has assessed $250,000 in fees this year from lobbyists who have missed deadlines to disclose activities before state government. But officials will say little else about the program, including which lobbyists have faced penalties, why they have been fined, or why their staff chooses to forgive certain fines.
Ohio – Who Knew About Bribes Paid During FirstEnergy Solutions’ Bankruptcy and House Bill 6 Bailout Campaign?
Energy and Policy Institute – Dave Anderson | Published: 11/16/2021
FirstEnergy Solutions’ (FES) management, board, and some top consultants for the utility and its creditors knew about plans to spend over $40 million on political contributions during the company’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Federal prosecutors said the money was part of a nearly $60 million bribery scheme at the Ohio Capitol. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Alan Koschik recently granted final approval for the $68 million in fees and expenses that FES accumulated with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. Akin Gump served as co-counsel to FES during the company’s restructuring and lobbied for bailout proposals on behalf of the utility.
Pennsylvania – John Dougherty and Bobby Henon Convicted of Conspiracy in Federal Corruption Trial
WHYY – Meir Rinde | Published: 11/15/2021
A powerful Philadelphia labor leader and a city council member were found guilty of conspiracy charges in a corruption trial. Prosecutors said John Dougherty kept Bobby Henon, a union electrician-turned-Philadelphia City Council member, on the payroll to help his union keep a tight grip on construction jobs. Dougherty still faces at least one more federal trial based on charges in the sweeping 2019 indictment. U.S. Attorney Jennifer Williams called the verdict “a strong message to the political power players of this city … that the citizens of Philadelphia will not tolerate public corruption as business as usual.”
Pennsylvania – New Limits Would Curtail Lobbyist Perks for Pa. Lawmakers, but One Leader Could Stand in the Way
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Angela Couloumbis (Spotlight PA) | Published: 11/11/2021
Pennsylvania lawmakers and other elected officials have been able to pocket almost anything sent their way by lobbyists, special interests, and others with a stake in government. Yet bills to end a system criticized as the “Wild West” for influence peddling have died with little or no debate. A coalition of Republican leaders has publicly backed placing limits on gifts to elected officials and public employees, though one key leader has so far refused to endorse the change, a potentially fatal roadblock.
South Dakota – South Dakota Legislature Moves for Subpoenas on Noem Meeting
MSN – Stephen Groves (Associated Press) | Published: 11/15/2021
South Dakota lawmakers moved to subpoena a document and a former state employee at the center of questions about whether Gov. Kristi Noem used her influence to aid her daughter’s application for a real estate appraiser license. The Legislature’s Government Operations and Audit Committee is pressing for details about a meeting the governor called last year that included her daughter, Kassidy Peters, and key decision-makers in a government agency that had moved days earlier to deny Peters’ application for an upgrade to her appraiser certification.
Tennessee – Tennessee GOP Primary Fee Creates Ethical Dilemma for Judge Candidates
Yahoo News – Andy Sher (Chattanooga Times Free Press) | Published: 11/18/2021
The Tennessee Republican Party’s approval of a plan to require that candidates for federal, state, and county elected offices pay a fee to run in a GOP primary is generating a case of ethical, as well as political, heartburn for state judges and judicial candidates. The legal angst stems from a recent opinion from the state’s judicial ethics committee about the issue. The panel stated in an advisory opinion that Tennessee’s Rules of the Code of Judicial Conduct bar the practice of paying the fee.
Washington DC – Trayon White Files Paperwork for D.C. Mayoral Bid Amid Campaign Finance Inquiry
MSN – Micahel Brice-Saddler (Washington Post) | Published: 11/12/2021
District of Columbia Council member Trayon White Sr. officially filed paperwork for his 2022 mayoral campaign about one month after he first announced via Instagram he was running. The delay is now the subject of an “internal inquiry” by the Office of Campaign Finance to determine whether White may have improperly engaged in campaign activities without having filed paperwork. City law states individuals must register as a candidate within five days of accepting a contribution or making any campaign-related expenditures.
November 18, 2021 •
Campaign Finance National: “Liberal ‘Dark-Money’ Behemoth Funneled More than $400M in 2020” by Scott Bland (Politico) for MSN Illinois: “State’s Top Fiscal Watchdog Cleared After Six-Year Battle Over Campaign Finance Violations Finally Resolved – for Now” by Hannah Meisel for […]
National: “Liberal ‘Dark-Money’ Behemoth Funneled More than $400M in 2020” by Scott Bland (Politico) for MSN
Illinois: “State’s Top Fiscal Watchdog Cleared After Six-Year Battle Over Campaign Finance Violations Finally Resolved – for Now” by Hannah Meisel for NPR Illinois
New York: “How Small-Dollar Public Financing Helped NYC Elect Its Most Diverse City Council Ever” by Ese Olumhense for The City
Colorado: “FBI Raids Home of Lauren Boebert’s Ex-Campaign Manager in Colorado Election Tampering Probe” by Igor Derysh for Salon
California: “Former S.F. Building Inspector, Building Commissioner Indicted” by Lauren Hernández (San Francisco Chronicle) for MSN
Illinois: “Ethics Board Says Aldermen Who Violate Code of Conduct Should Face Harsher Punishments as Gardiner Retaliation Claims Investigated” by Ariel Parrella-Aureli and Alex Nitkin (The Daily Line) for Book Club Chicago
National: “House Censures Rep. Gosar for Violent Video in Rare Rebuke” by Kevin Freking and Brian Slodysko (Associated Press) for Kansas City Star
National: “How a Cure for Gerrymandering Left U.S. Politics Ailing in New Ways” by Nick Corasaniti and Reid Epstein for New York Times
November 17, 2021 •
California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a proclamation declaring a special election for the 17th Assembly District on April 19, 2022, with a special primary on February 15, 2022. The former Assemblymember David Chiu vacated his seat after accepting a position […]
California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a proclamation declaring a special election for the 17th Assembly District on April 19, 2022, with a special primary on February 15, 2022.
The former Assemblymember David Chiu vacated his seat after accepting a position as San Francisco’s city attorney in early November.
November 17, 2021 •
Maine Gov. Mills announced a special election to be held on January 11, 2022, for House District 27. The seat became vacant when Rep. Kyle Bailey resigned in October to pursue other career opportunities. The winner of the special election […]
Maine Gov. Mills announced a special election to be held on January 11, 2022, for House District 27.
The seat became vacant when Rep. Kyle Bailey resigned in October to pursue other career opportunities.
The winner of the special election will serve the remainder of the two-year term set to expire in December 2022.
November 17, 2021 •
Campaign Finance Illinois: “Pritzker Signs Law Banning Dark Money, Out-of-State Contributions in Judicial Campaigns” by Hannah Meisel for NPR Illinois Elections National: “Why Governors Keep Snubbing the Senate” by Marianne Levine and Burgess Everett (Politico) for Yahoo News Ethics Alabama: […]
Illinois: “Pritzker Signs Law Banning Dark Money, Out-of-State Contributions in Judicial Campaigns” by Hannah Meisel for NPR Illinois
National: “Why Governors Keep Snubbing the Senate” by Marianne Levine and Burgess Everett (Politico) for Yahoo News
Alabama: “State: Former House speaker tried to influence prison legislation from prison” by Josh Moon for Alabama Political Reporter
Iowa: “Audit: Governor improperly used COVID funds for salaries” by David Pitt (Washington Post) for Yahoo News
New York: “Cuomo’s Book Approval Rescinded by Ethics Panel, Jeopardizing Millions” by Chris Bragg for Albany Times Union
Pennsylvania: “John Dougherty and Bobby Henon Convicted of Conspiracy in Federal Corruption Trial” by Meir Rinde for WHYY
Europe: “UK Govt Vows to Toughen Rules for Lawmakers After Ethics Row” by Jill Lawless (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
Ohio: “Who Knew About Bribes Paid During FirstEnergy Solutions’ Bankruptcy and House Bill 6 Bailout Campaign?” by Dave Anderson for Energy and Policy Institute
November 16, 2021 •
The president of the South Carolina Senate announced a special election to replace the late Sen. Hugh Leatherman. The primary election will occur on January 25, 2022, with runoffs, if necessary, on February 8, 2022, and the special general election […]
The president of the South Carolina Senate announced a special election to replace the late Sen. Hugh Leatherman.
The primary election will occur on January 25, 2022, with runoffs, if necessary, on February 8, 2022, and the special general election on March 29, 2022.
November 15, 2021 •
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds called a special election on December 14 to fill the Senate District 1 vacancy caused by the resignation of Sen. Zach Whiting. Whiting resigned effective October 30 to take a job with the conservative think tank, […]
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds called a special election on December 14 to fill the Senate District 1 vacancy caused by the resignation of Sen. Zach Whiting.
Whiting resigned effective October 30 to take a job with the conservative think tank, Texas Public Policy Foundation.
There is no primary, and the filing deadline is November 19.
The winning candidate will serve the remainder of Whiting’s term, which runs through 2022.
November 15, 2021 •
Campaign Finance National: “The FEC Relies on Candidates’ ‘Good Faith’ When It Comes to Foreign Donations. But the Agency’s Inspector General Says That’s ‘Insufficient Oversight’ and Poses a ‘National Security Risk.’” by Bryan Metzger (Business Insider) for Yahoo News Elections […]
National: “The FEC Relies on Candidates’ ‘Good Faith’ When It Comes to Foreign Donations. But the Agency’s Inspector General Says That’s ‘Insufficient Oversight’ and Poses a ‘National Security Risk.’” by Bryan Metzger (Business Insider) for Yahoo News
Colorado: “Legal Battle, Ethics Complaint Against Embattled Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters Persist” by Saja Hindi for Denver Gazette
National: “Appeals Court Temporarily Bars Release of Trump White House Records to House Jan. 6 Committee” by Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Steve Bannon Indicted After Refusal to Comply with Jan. 6 Committee Subpoena” by Devlin Barrett, Jacqueline Alemany, and Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) for MSN
New York: “AG Releases Interview Transcripts in Cuomo Harassment Probe” by Michael Hill, Jennifer Peltz, and Michael Sisak (Associated Press) for ABC News
California: “Lobbyists Weren’t Eligible for PPP Money, but California Firms Got Millions” by Alexei Koseff (San Francisco Chronicle) for San Diego Daily Tribune
Minnesota: “Senate GOP Gets OK to Create Private Club for Legislators, Lobbyists During Session” by Ricardo Lopez for Minnesota Reformer
Pennsylvania: “New Limits Would Curtail Lobbyist Perks for Pa. Lawmakers, but One Leader Could Stand in the Way” by Angela Couloumbis (Spotlight PA) for Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
November 12, 2021 •
National/Federal Big Bird Got ‘Vaccinated’ Against COVID-19, Drawing Outrage from Republicans National Public Radio – Rachel Treisman | Published: 11/8/2021 Big Bird ruffled some feathers when he tweeted that he was vaccinated against COVID-19, which is now available for children between […]
Big Bird Got ‘Vaccinated’ Against COVID-19, Drawing Outrage from Republicans
National Public Radio – Rachel Treisman | Published: 11/8/2021
Big Bird ruffled some feathers when he tweeted that he was vaccinated against COVID-19, which is now available for children between the ages of five and 11. The Muppet has been a fixture of children’s television since 1969 but is officially six years old. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz decried the character’s tweet as “government propaganda.” Others denounced Big Bird as a puppet (literally) and communist. Many noted the irony of the criticism, given Big Bird is both a fictional character and one known for spreading messages of kindness and curiosity.
Clash With Corruption Watchdog Has Boris Johnson Retreating, Again
New York Times – Stephen Castle | Published: 11/4/2021
United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson intervened to stop the suspension from Parliament of Owen Paterson, a fellow Conservative Party lawmaker found to have broken rules on lobbying. The government also pushed through contentious plans to change the system that investigated Paterson, who resigned following a backlash from politicians, news organizations, and others. Some neutral observers think that Mr. Johnson walked into a minefield of his own making.
Donors Threatened to Shun the GOP After Jan. 6. Now, Republicans Are Outraising Democrats.
MSN – Josh Dawsey, Isaac Stanley-Becker, and Michael Scherer (Washington Post) | Published: 11/9/2021
One day after rioters ransacked the Capitol in a bid to overturn the 2020 election, Republican lobbyist Geoff Verhoff sent an email to top GOP officials. Verhoff, a bundler who works at the lobbying firm Akin Gump, wrote he was resigning as co-chair of the Republican National Committee’s finance committee because he could no longer associate himself with Donald Trump and his movement. But when Trump spoke to some of the party’s top donors recently, Verhoff was one of the attendees. He has also recently given sizable sums to Republican candidates, including members who voted to overturn the results of the election.
FEC Eases Federal Contractors-Turned-Political Donors’ Path
Bloomberg Government – Kenneth Doyle | Published: 11/5/2021
The first $100,000 contribution to a pro-Donald Trump super PAC by an affiliate of the corrections company GEO Group came in 2016, a day after the Obama administration announced it would end federal use of private prisons. GEO’s stock price dropped but shot back up when Trump reversed the policy. Since then, affiliates of GEO have contributed over $2 million to Republican super PASCs. GEO’s contributions violated a decades-old ban on campaign money from government contractors, the Campaign Legal Center complained. But in a move that could have a wide impact on other contractors, the FEC dismissed the complaint.
GOP Lobbyists Say Corporate America Is Coming Back into the Tent
Yahoo News – Hailey Fuchs (Politico) | Published: 11/8/2021
Republican lawmakers appear more likely to take back Congress in 2022 and corporate America is taking notice. A host of Republican lobbyists say the elections in Virginia and New Jersey have ignited interest from their corporate clients on making inroads with GOP officials on Capitol Hill. They also suspect cash will soon start flowing from corporate PACs to their party’s lawmakers. Corporate America’s potential embrace of the congressional GOP is notable for what preceded it.
GOP-Appointed Judges Freeze Biden Vaccine Requirement After Federal Lawsuit
MSN – Eli Rosenberg (Washington Post) | Published: 11/6/2021
A federal appeals court suspended the Biden administration’s new vaccine requirement for private companies, delivering a major blow for one of the White House’s key attempts to increase the number of vaccinations to corral the pandemic. The decision was issued by a panel of three judges appointed by Republican presidents in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The judges wrote there was “cause to believe there are grave statutory and constitutional issues with the mandate,” staying the order while the court assesses it.
House Jan. 6 Committee Issues Subpoenas to 6 Top Trump Advisers, Including Pair Involved in Willard Hotel ‘Command Center’
MSN – Jacqueline Alemany, Tom Hamburger, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 11/8/2021
The U.S. House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection issued subpoenas to six top advisers to former President Trump, including two who were active in the Willard Hotel “command center” where Trump’s loyal backers oversaw efforts in January to overturn the 2020 election. Those actions included blocking or delaying the counting of electoral votes from battleground states where results were in dispute. Those states became the focus of the effort inside the hotel command center to find evidence of fraud that might compel state legislators to challenge Biden’s victory.
Igor Danchenko Arrested, Charged with Lying to FBI About Information in Steele Dossier
MSN – Devlin Barrett and Tom Jackman (Washington Post) | Published: 11/4/2021
An analyst who was a primary source for a 2016 dossier of allegations against Donald Trump has been arrested on charges he repeatedly lied to the FBI about where and how he got his information. Igor Danchenko’s role in providing information to British ex-spy Christopher Steele, who compiled the accusations about Trump in a series of reports, has been a subject of scrutiny from internal Department of Justice investigators and special counsel John Durham. A 2019 report by the Justice Department inspector general found major problems with the accuracy of Danchenko’s information.
Pelosi Calls for Investigations of Gosar’s Video That Depicts Him Killing Ocasio-Cortez
MSN – Felicia Sonmez and John Wagner (Washington Post) | Published: 11/9/2021
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for multiple investigations into the posting of an animated video by U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar that depicts him killing U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and swinging two swords at President Biden. Gosar has long drawn criticism for his extremist views, including his spreading of conspiracy theories about the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob and the deadly white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville in 2017. In February, he appeared at an event whose organizer called for white supremacy.
Pharmaceutical Industry Likely to Shatter Its Lobbying Record as It Works to Shape Democrats’ Spending Bill
MSN – Yeganeh Torbati and Jonathan O’Connell (Washington Post) | Published: 11/5/2021
Ads targeting lawmakers who supported allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices were one strand of a massive, months-long advertising, lobbying and political donation campaign undertaken by the pharmaceutical industry and its allies, perhaps the strongest of all corporate voices on Capitol Hill, to defeat a Democratic proposal to lower the cost of prescription drugs. The measure was in, then out, then watered down, going through a fierce ping-pong of backroom negotiations that is likely to continue once the Senate considers the bill in coming weeks.
Probe Finds Trump Officials Repeatedly Violated Hatch Act
MSN – Jill Colvin (Associated Press) | Published: 11/10/2021
At least 13 former Trump administration officials, including Jared Kushner and Mike Pompeo, violated the law by intermingling campaigning with their official government duties, according to a federal investigation. The report from the Office of Special Counsel says the officials broke the law without consequence and with the administration’s approval as part of a “willful disregard for the Hatch Act,” which prohibits government officials from using their official roles to influence elections, including supporting candidates while acting in their official capacities.
They Raised Millions for Trump. Spent Barely Any of It on Him. Now They’re Indicted.
Yahoo News – Caitlin Oprisko (Politico) | Published: 11/10/2021
Federal prosecutors charged Matt Tunstall and Robert Reyes with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and to lie to the FEC. Prosecutors allege that of the roughly $3.5 million raised by the PACs they ran during the 2016 election, “only approximately $19 were distributed to any candidate’s authorized campaign committee or to any political cause, while a total of more than $1.5 million was used to benefit” the PAC operators. “Scam PACs” have proliferated over the last decade. The FBI has urged would-be donors to be on the lookout for such schemes.
Trump Loses Bid to Keep Jan. 6 Records from House Committee Investigating Riot
NBC News – Pete Williams | Published: 11/9/2021
A federal judge sided with the congressional committee investigating the January 6 insurrection by refusing to block the release of scores of White House documents from the Trump administration. The ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan means the first batch of disputed documents is set to be turned over to the House select committee. Lawyers for Donald Trump filed an appeal. President Biden has said executive privilege should not be invoked to block the select committee’s document requests.
USC Gave Rep. Karen Bass a Full Scholarship Worth $95,000 While She Served in Congress
MSN – Dakota Smith and Matt Hamilton (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 11/10/2021
U.S. Rep. Karen Bass received approval from the House ethics committee to accept a scholarship worth $95,000 from the University of Southern California (USC) School of Social Work. Bass said the program increased her understanding of child welfare policy. Now, USC’s efforts to connect with local politicians have become the subject of scrutiny. Bass was offered the scholarship by Marilyn Flynn, then the dean of USC’s social work school. Flynn was indicted for allegedly giving the son of then-Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas a scholarship and job in return for USC being awarded government contracts.
Voting Technology Firm Smartmatic Sues Newsmax and One America News, Alleging Defamation
MSN – Annabelle Timsit (Washington Post) | Published: 11/4/2021
The voting technology firm Smartmatic filed lawsuits against Newsmax and the parent company of One America News, alleging the right-wing outlets knowingly spread disinformation during the 2020 U.S. presidential election and defamed the company by telling viewers, without evidence, that its technology was used to steal votes from then-President Trump. The lawsuits are the latest chapter in a legal battle that has pitted firms that sell electronic voting machines and software in the U.S. against Trump-friendly news outlets.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – Arizona Board with Close Ties to Landlord Group Oversees Constables Who Serve Eviction Writs
Yahoo News – Jessica Boehm, Catherine Reagor, and Ralph Chapoco (Arizona Republic) | Published: 11/8/2021
When renters are evicted, constables deliver the court orders – sought by landlords – that demand the tenants move out. But the board that trains and disciplines Arizona’s elected constables has close ties to the most powerful landlord group in the state. The relationship drew new scrutiny during the COVID-19 pandemic, when constables played an even more important role in the eviction process, sometimes deciding whether tenants qualified for eviction moratoriums.
California – SoCal Public Officials Targeted in Broadening Federal Investigation into Pot Licensing
MSN – Ruben Vives and Robert Lopez (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 11/7/2021
A federal grand jury issued subpoenas seeking information about cash and other payments to public officials and cannabis consultants as part of a criminal investigation into pot licensing in Baldwin Park and nearby cities in California. Federal authorities, including agents from the FBI and IRS, have been interviewing witnesses and are seeking a wide range of records regarding Baldwin Park city officials who approved cannabis licenses and consultants who helped businesses obtain the permits.
Colorado – Denver’s Top Parking Enforcer ‘Fixed’ 21 of His Own Tickets
KESQ – Brian Maas | Published: 11/5/2021
Denver’s Director of Right of Way Enforcement, Jonathan Featherston, received 21 parking citations on his personal car in 2020 and 2021. He ordered every one of the citations canceled, with Featherston now explaining he received the tickets while he was engaging in a secret “mystery shop” campaign to test how well parking agents were doing in handing out parking tickets. The curious practice came to light when a whistleblower noticed what Featherston was doing and filed a complaint with the city Board of Ethics, suggesting Featherston was engaged in “questionable ethical conduct,” using his public position for private gain.
Colorado – State Files Lawsuit Over Peters Campaign Fundraising
Grand Junction Daily Sentinel – Charles Ashby | Published: 11/8/2021
The Colorado attorney general’s office filed a lawsuit against Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters over her fundraising efforts and failure to report contributions and expenses for nearly three years. The lawsuit says Peters clearly is running for re-election next year, and is soliciting donations, but has not filed a campaign finance report since terminating her previous account in January 2019, a few months after she was first elected to office.
Florida – J.T. Burnette Gets 3 Years in Federal Prison, $1.25M Fine in City Hall Public Corruption Case
Yahoo News – Jeff Burlew (Tallahassee Democrat) | Published: 11/9/2021
Businessperson J.T. Burnette was sentenced to three years in federal prison and a $1.25 million fine for his role in a corruption scheme. Burnette, a wealthy entrepreneur, was convicted for his role in a long-running City Hall bribery ring involving former city Commissioner Scott Maddox and his accomplice and girlfriend Paige Carter-Smith. Peter Nothstein, deputy director of the Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section, noted Burnette never admitted “what he did was wrong.” He said for Burnette, bribery was just the cost of doing business.
Florida – Opa-locka Mayor Abruptly Resigns During Commission Meeting, Citing ‘Corruption’
MSN – Aaron Leibowitz (Miami Herald) | Published: 11/10/2021
Opa-locka Mayor Matthew Pigatt abruptly announced his resignation during a city commission meeting, marking the latest twist of fate for a city trying to overcome years of corruption and political chaos. Following a public comment period, he rose from his seat at the dais to deliver a prepared statement. Pigatt’s resignation was not on the agenda. Pigatt won a commission seat in 2016, pledging reform and transparency amid an FBI corruption probe at City Hall and state oversight of the city’s finances. He became mayor in 2018 on a similar platform.
Florida – Professors Sue University of Florida, Claiming Free Speech Restraints
MSN – Lori Rozsa and Susan Svrluga (Washington Post) | Published: 11/6/2021
Three professors filed a lawsuit against the University of Florida, claiming school officials violated their right to free speech by trying to prevent them from offering testimony in a voting rights case. The case further inflames a heated debate over academic freedom, one that has brought national attention and criticism to the state’s flagship university. It was filed on the same day school officials reversed course and said the three political science professors should not be barred from testifying in a voting rights lawsuit against the administration of Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Indiana – Ex-Indiana House Speaker Bosma Registers as Paid Lobbyist
Yahoo News – Associated Press | Published: 11/8/2021
Former Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma registered as a paid statehouse lobbyist a little more than a year after he left elected office. Bosma is working with 1816 Public Affairs Group, a lobbying firm headed by Michael O’Brien, who was Gov. Eric Holcomb’s 2016 campaign manager. Bosma said he joined the firm last year as a consultant and carefully followed the state’s one-year ban before a former lawmaker can legally deal directly with old colleagues on legislative business.
Maine – Foreign Company’s Subsidiary Poured Millions into Influencing Maine Ballot Referendum
Center for Responsive Politics – Anna Massoglia | Published: 11/9/2021
A Maine ballot referendum to halt the construction of a $1 billion cross-border corridor of electric transmission lines from Canada attracted more than $89 million in funds through ballot campaigns. Top donors pouring $63 million into opposing the referendum included HQ Energy Services, the U.S. affiliate of Hydro Quebec. The Canadian company’s role sparked debate about whether companies with foreign government ownership should be allowed to spend on ballot referendums. The FEC ruled foreign donors can finance U.S. ballot measure committees under federal campaign finance law.
Michigan – Detroit Police Chief Looks to Computer Software to Root Out Towing Corruption
Yahoo News – Christine MacDonald (Detroit Free Press) | Published: 11/10/2021
The Detroit Police Department announced new measures aimed at clamping down on corruption in vehicle towing, an area at the center of an ongoing federal public corruption investigation. Police Chief James White said the department wants to buy computer software that will divvy up jobs to tow companies, taking the “human element” out of the process and reducing the chances someone could steer work to a favored outlet. He said the department also will launch an investigative unit staffed by civilians to ensure towing rules are followed.
Missouri – Firefighters Union Chief Collects City Salary While Working Other Full-Time Job in DC
MSN – Mike Hendricks (Kansas City Star) | Published: 11/10/2021
Kansas City Manager Brian Platt signed a previously undisclosed agreement last summer allowing the fire captain who then headed the local firefighters’ union to remain on the city payroll and collect his $86,000 a year salary while working full time in Washington, D.C. The unprecedented arrangement also exempts Tim Dupin from the city’s residency rules while earning more than $150,000 annually from his new job as the International Association of Fire Fighters’ director of political action at the union’s Washington headquarters.
Missouri – PACs Tied to Missouri Lobbyist Scramble to Account for Funds
Yahoo News – Jason Hancock (Missouri Independent) | Published: 11/10/2021
A pair of PACs connected to a Missouri lobbyist under FBI scrutiny have begun taking steps to account for nearly $170,000 in cash that went unreported on disclosures to the state Ethics Commission. The discrepancies with PACs connected to Steve Tilley, a former state lawmaker and longtime adviser to Gov. Mike Parson, were first documented by The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. It found the PACs reported cash balances in early 2021 that were significantly lower than the total reported at the end of 2020 without any corresponding spending to explain the decrease.
New Jersey – Surprise NJ Senate Winner Says Sorry Amid Scrutiny of Posts
Yahoo News – Associated Press | Published: 11/5/2021
A truck driver who ousted the powerful New Jersey Senate president in the election previously posted online calling Islam “a false religion,” comparing vaccine mandates to the Holocaust, and defending rioters at the U.S. Capitol. Republican Edward Durr apologized after media outlets highlighted the posts. His victory over Steve Sweeney, widely regarded as the second-most powerful Democrat in state government, in the November 2 shocked the state’s political establishment. Durr spent a paltry sum on his campaign.
New Jersey – ‘This Sentence Will Go on Forever’: Morristown lawyer gets probation in corruption case
Morristown Green – Kevin Coughlin | Published: 11/6/2021
A lawyer who pled guilty to records tampering to secure municipal contracts avoided prison, receiving three years’ probation and community service. Elizabeth Valandingham was charged in connection with a state political corruption investigation that centered on her boss, attorney Matt O’Donnell. He pled guilty to corporate misconduct and conspiracy to tamper with records. Between 2013 and 2017, authorities charged, Valandingham helped secure at least $600,000 in legal work for O’Donnell’s now-shuttered firm by falsely representing to Mt. Arlington and Bloomfield officials, and to the state Election Law Enforcement Commission, that the firm had made no political contributions in those towns.
New York – De Blasio Defends Leaving $300K Legal Bill Unpaid
Politico – Erin Durkin | Published: 11/10/2021
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio does not plan to dip into his own pocket to pay any of the $300,000 in outstanding legal bills he owes from a corruption investigation, saying he will rely on donors to pay the tab. De Blasio has owed the money to the law firm Kramer, Levin, Naftalis and Frankel since 2017, after lawyers there represented him in a probe into whether the mayor and his aides did special favors for campaign donors. The outstanding debt has raised conflict-of-interest concerns since the firm represents many clients with business before the city.
New York – Millions in Secret Ballot Spending Raises Legal Question
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 11/4/2021
The public had no know way to immediately know who had funded the multi-million-dollar campaign by the state Conservative Party against three proposed constitutional amendments in New York, including attack ads. The origin of the funding may not be known until January because the ads were paid for by a political spending vehicle that critics have long derided as a major loophole in the law. Both the Conservative Party and Senate Democrats maintain the practice was legal, though the language of state law is not clear on the subject.
Ohio – Ohio Medicaid: It’s not a conflict if you only own stock in the parent company
Ohio Capital Journal – Marty Schladen | Published: 11/9/2021
Ohio Medicaid Director Maureen Corcoran did not have a conflict-of-interest when she signed multi-billion-dollar contracts earlier this year, her department’s attorneys are arguing. That is because she only owns stock in parent corporations, not their Ohio subsidiaries to whom she awarded contracts. The department made the argument in a court case in which a disappointed bidder is trying to overturn a process that resulted in the award of $22 billion worth of managed-care business to six corporations.
Ohio – Ohio Utility Regulator Lobbied for Legislation to Save FirstEnergy Millions, Texts Show
Ohio Capital Journal – Jake Zuckerman | Published: 11/9/2021
Ohio’s top utility regulator quietly lobbied lawmakers to include a provision in the state budget that saved tens of millions for FirstEnergy Corp., text messages from company executives show. FirstEnergy admitted in court it paid Sam Randazzo more than $4.3 million in the weeks before Gov. Mike DeWine appointed him in February 2019 as chairperson of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, which regulates power companies. The texts suggest Randazzo helped convince lawmakers to slip into the 2019 budget a few sentences worth millions of dollars to FirstEnergy.
Pennsylvania – Pa. Lobbyists Disclose Some Financial Interests for First Time But Details Are ‘Very Nebulous’
Lancaster Online – Sam Janesch (The Caucus) | Published: 11/10/2021
Lobbyists and principals in Pennsylvania are now required to disclose their financial interests in companies for which they advocate. The disclosures are billed as a step toward transparency. But their format is haphazard and, arguably, useless, according to an analysis and interviews with advocates and others who have reviewed the filings. Amid a narrow reporting period and few guidelines, lobbyists interpreted the new requirement in a variety of ways. There are more than 1,230 registered lobbyists and firms in the state. More than 130 of them disclosed equity in their clients.
Texas – Dallas Real Estate Developer Ruel Hamilton Sentenced To 8 Years in Prison For Bribing 2 Former City Council Members
MSN – Staff | Published: 11/9/2021
A real estate developer was sentenced to eight years in federal prison for bribing two former Dallas City Council members. Ruel Hamilton was also ordered to pay a $150,000 fine. From 2013 to 2015, Hamilton shelled out tens of thousands of dollars in bribes to Carolyn Davis, who was then serving as chairperson of the council’s Housing Committee. In return, Davis, who pleaded guilty to her role in the scheme prior to her death in 2019, supported Hamilton’s housing project. To disguise the bribe payments, Hamilton funneled payments to Davis through a not-for-profit intermediary.
Virginia – Va. Senate Democrats Ask State Supreme Court to Disqualify Republicans’ Nominated Map Drawers
MSN – Meagan Flynn and Teo Armus (Washington Post) | Published: 11/8/2021
The Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus asked the state Supreme Court to disqualify all three nominees tapped by Republican leadership to help it draw the state’s new congressional and legislative maps, calling them “political operatives” with conflicts-of-interest. The state Supreme Court is redrawing the maps after the bipartisan Virginia Redistricting Commission, approved by voters in a constitutional amendment last year, did not reach agreement on new congressional and General Assembly districts.
Virginia – White Supremacists Find a New Platform to Spread Hate: A federal courtroom in Charlottesville
MSN – Ellie Silverman (Washington Post) | Published: 11/10/2021
White supremacists are weaponizing the federal civil trial about the deadly 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville into a spiteful stage. Some of the defendants have been ousted from social media such as Facebook but in this courtroom, they have found a new platform to amplify their racist views, put on performances they boast about on podcasts, radio shows, and in live during-the-trial chats, and to attack their opponents. The defendants are some of the most notorious white supremacists and hate groups in the country, and the plaintiffs allege they engaged in a conspiracy to commit racially motivated violence.
Washington – PDC: ‘Washougal Moms’ must register as political action committee
The Columbian – Doug Flanagan (Camas-Washougal Post-Record) | Published: 11/5/2021
The Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) has called out the Washougal Moms group for failing to register as a PAC. In a formal warning, the PDC said the organization had also failed to identify its financial sponsors and had not reported required financial contributions and expenditures. Formed in May to defend three mothers accused of disrupting a Washougal School Board meeting, the group has since hosted a “tribunal” to elect a shadow school board, posted opposition to at least one school board incumbent running for reelection, and called for current school board officials to be removed and arrested.
Washington DC – A D.C. Elected Official, Who Holds Office While Incarcerated, Was Almost Moved to Pennsylvania Prison
MSN – Julie Zauzmer Weil (Washington Post) | Published: 11/9/2021
Political leaders in the District of Columbia successfully scrambled to prevent an elected official who holds his position while incarcerated in the city jail from being transferred to a federal prison more than 100 miles outside Washington. Joel Castón’s narrowly averted transfer to a federal prison in Pennsylvania underscores the situation of hundreds of city inmates who are being transferred far from their families and communities. By staying in the city, Castón says, he will be able to keep fulfilling the duties of his office: representing those inmates who will be transferred, his constituents.
Washington DC – As Bowser Launches Reelection Bid, Her High-Profile Appointee Is Under Fire
MSN – Paul Schwartzman (Washington Post) | Published: 11/6/2021
Neil Albert abruptly resigned recently as chairperson of the District of Columbia Housing Authority Board of Commissioners. His exit followed a published report that he failed to reveal he was in a relationship with Paola Moya before approving her architectural firm for lucrative authority contracts. Federal prosecutors served the authority with a criminal subpoena, seeking documents related to Albert, Moya, and her firm. In addition, members of the city council asked the inspector general to conduct a broad investigation into what they called “a pattern of misconduct” at the agency.
Washington DC – Judge Lets Claim Against Trump’s Inaugural Committee and Private Business Move Forward
Yahoo News – Myah Ward (Politico) | Published: 11/8/2021
The lawsuit against former President Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee and his private business could potentially go to trial after a judge allowed some of the local attorney general’s claims to move forward. The lawsuit filed by District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine alleges the Trump International Hotel in Washington illegally received more than $1 million by charging the Presidential Inaugural Committee inflated prices to use ballrooms and other event spaces, violating the city’s laws governing nonprofit organizations.
November 10, 2021 •
Campaign Finance Maine: “Foreign Company’s Subsidiary Poured Millions into Influencing Maine Ballot Referendum” by Anna Massoglia for Center for Responsive Politics Elections National: “House Jan. 6 Committee Issues Subpoenas to 6 Top Trump Advisers, Including Pair Involved in Willard Hotel […]
Maine: “Foreign Company’s Subsidiary Poured Millions into Influencing Maine Ballot Referendum” by Anna Massoglia for Center for Responsive Politics
National: “House Jan. 6 Committee Issues Subpoenas to 6 Top Trump Advisers, Including Pair Involved in Willard Hotel ‘Command Center’” by Jacqueline Alemany, Tom Hamburger, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Big Bird Got ‘Vaccinated’ Against COVID-19, Drawing Outrage from Republicans” by Rachel Treisman for National Public Radio
National: “Pelosi Calls for Investigations of Gosar’s Video That Depicts Him Killing Ocasio-Cortez” by Felicia Sonmez and John Wagner (Washington Post) for MSN
Arizona: “Arizona Board with Close Ties to Landlord Group Oversees Constables Who Serve Eviction Writs” by Jessica Boehm, Catherine Reagor, and Ralph Chapoco (Arizona Republic) for Yahoo News
Colorado: “Denver’s Top Parking Enforcer ‘Fixed’ 21 of His Own Tickets” by Brian Maas for KESQ
Ohio: “Ohio Medicaid: It’s not a conflict if you only own stock in the parent company” by Marty Schladen for Ohio Capital Journal
Virginia: “Va. Senate Democrats Ask State Supreme Court to Disqualify Republicans’ Nominated Map Drawers” by Meagan Flynn and Teo Armus (Washington Post) for MSN
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