September 17, 2021 •
National/Federal Delta Variant Postpones K Street’s Full Return MSN – Kate Ackley (Roll Call) | Published: 9/14/2021 On the cusp of Memorial Day back in May, most lobbyists were gearing up for a more normal return to their in-person work life, […]
Delta Variant Postpones K Street’s Full Return
MSN – Kate Ackley (Roll Call) | Published: 9/14/2021
On the cusp of Memorial Day back in May, most lobbyists were gearing up for a more normal return to their in-person work life, as they began to reemerge for meetings on Capitol Hill and sessions with clients and colleagues. The rise of the delta variant, however, has prompted most firms to postpone requirements for employees to return to the office, and many K Street denizens said most of their advocacy activities and team meetings remain virtual.
Election Fraud Cases Sow Doubts About Legal Profession’s Future
Bloomberg Law – Melissa Heelan | Published: 9/14/2021
Attorneys behind dismissed cases over alleged fraud in the 2020 presidential election have been cited for violating professional standards requiring candor in the courtroom and barring the filing of lawsuits not backed up by fact or law. Charles Geyh, a legal ethics professor at Indiana University, said courts rose to the occasion, but the discipline might not be enough to stop lawyers from being involved in similar challenges in the future. No one’s been disbarred yet despite calls from some for severe discipline. Sanctions range from a temporary license suspension for Rudy Giuliani to judicial dressing downs and orders to pay court costs.
FEC Finds Twitter Didn’t Break Law by Blocking Spread of Hunter Biden Story
New York Times – Shane Goldmacher and Kate Conger | Published: 9/13/2021
The FEC ruled Twitter did not break election laws when it blocked users from sharing links to a New York Post story about Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden. The FEC said Twitter’s actions in blocking the spread of the article were made with valid commercial reason, not a political purpose, making them legal, a decision that is likely to set a precedent for future cases involving social media sites and federal campaigns. The FEC used the same reasoning to side with Snapchat and reject a complaint from the Trump campaign. The campaign argued the company provided an improper gift to Biden by rejecting Trump from its Discover platform.
Fed’s Kaplan, Rosengren to Sell All Stocks Amid Ethics Concerns
MSN – Catarina Saraiva and Craig Torres (Bloomberg) | Published: 9/10/2021
The presidents of the Federal Reserve banks of Boston and Dallas said they are selling their individual stock holdings by September 30, in moves aimed at appeasing ethical concerns over their trading activity last year. Boston Fed chief Eric Rosengren and the Dallas Fed’s Robert Kaplan released near-identical statements after their most recent financial disclosure documents showed active trading in a range of investments during a year in which the central bank took sweeping policy actions to protect the U.S. economy from Covid-19. They both said they would invest the proceeds of their sales in diversified index funds or hold them in cash.
Former Chancellor Philip Hammond Cleared of Breaking Rules After His Lobbying of Treasury Was Ruled Only ‘Incidental’
Yahoo News – Henry Dyer (Business Insider) | Published: 9/10/2021
Lord Philip Hammond, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, was cleared of breaking lobbying rules when he contacted a senior Treasury official on behalf of a bank he was working for. Former ministers are generally barred from trying to influence the government on behalf of clients. But Hammond’s activity was deemed acceptable by an independent regulator on the grounds it was “incidental.” Critics said the ruling highlights flaws in the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act, passed in 2014.
Giuliani Associate Igor Fruman Pleads Guilty in Campaign-Finance Case
MSN – Shayna Jacobs (Washington Post) | Published: 9/11/2021
A Soviet-born businessperson who assisted Rudolph Giuliani in his Ukrainian political efforts on behalf of former President Trump pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance laws, as others charged in the case prepare to stand trial. Igor Fruman, who was arrested with co-defendant Lev Parnas at Dulles International Airport in 2019, entered a guilty plea to one count of soliciting foreign campaign contributions.
GOP Online Donation Platform Tweaks Fees, Sending Millions More to Midterm Campaigns
Yahoo News – Isaac Isenstadt (Politico) | Published: 9/16/2021
Republicans are making a small change to their online fundraising program that could have a big impact on the party’s finances heading into the 2022 midterm election. WinRed, the GOP’s principal small-dollar donation processor, is lowering the fees it charges candidates and committees for each contribution they receive through the platform. The shift, which follows months of behind-the-scenes deliberations involving the party’s senior officials, could result in millions of dollars more being funneled into campaign coffers next year.
GOP Senate Candidates Backed Legal Challenges to the 2020 Election
MSN – Bridget Bowman (Roll Call) | Published: 9/15/2021
At least nine Republican U.S. Senate candidates have a political résumé with a contentious item: filing or actively supporting one of the failed lawsuits that furthered former President Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was rife with fraud. Since many GOP candidates support Trump’s claims, participating in lawsuits could help some stand out in crowded Republican primaries, where they need to win over Trump supporters who say voter fraud played a role in President Biden’s win. Some Democrats think focusing on the 2020 election could be a liability for Republicans in the midterms with voters who rejected Trump’s divisive rhetoric or his unfounded concerns about the validity of the last election.
McCarthy Asks Supreme Court to Overturn House Proxy Voting Rules Adopted as Pandemic Precaution and Used by Nearly 100 Republicans
MSN – Amy Wang (Washington Post) | Published: 9/10/2021
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review and overturn the House’s proxy voting rules, which were adopted last year to allow lawmakers to cast votes remotely as a pandemic precaution. McCarthy criticized proxy voting as a “power grab” and “a raw abuse of power” by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who along with many Democrats pushed for the historic rule change at the beginning of the pandemic.
Revised Democratic Voting Bill Drops Controversial Provisions, Tweaks Others as Pressure for Action Mounts
MSN – Mike DeBonis (Washington Post) | Published: 9/14/2021
A group of Democratic senators, including key centrist Joe Manchin III, introduced a pared-down voting rights, campaign finance, and government ethics bill in hopes of building momentum for its passage through a closely divided Senate. The new Freedom to Vote Act retains significant portions of the For the People Act, Democrats’ marquee voting legislation that passed the House this year but was blocked by a Senate filibuster. Tt also discards significant pieces and tweaks others, largely to placate Manchin and indulge his hopes of building enough Republican support to pass the bill.
Struggle for Control of Afghanistan Comes to K Street
New York Times – Kenneth Vogel | Published: 9/15/2021
A leading figure in the Afghan resistance has retained a lobbyist to seek military and financial support in the U.S. for a fight against the Taliban. Ahmad Massoud, the leader of one of the most prominent groups of fighters seeking to oust the Taliban from power, signed the contract with Robert Stryk, who built a lobbying practice during the Trump administration working with clients that others on K Street were wary of representing. The contract, which indicates the work will be pro bono, comes as an array of Afghan constituencies are seeking lobbying help as they jockey for recognition in Washington and the international community.
From the States and Municipalities
Alaska – GOP Lawmaker Who Refused to Follow Mask Mandate While Flying Says She Can’t Get to the Alaskan Capital
MSN – Derek Hawkins (Washington Post) | Published: 9/11/2021
An Alaska lawmaker requested an excusal from the state Senate until mid-January, citing the challenges of traveling to Juneau from Anchorage after she was suspended from flying on Alaska Airlines earlier this year. Sen. Lora Reinbold requested the excusal through January 15. She said she was unaware of any other airline flying to the state capital during that period. The airline banned her indefinitely in the spring after she clashed with staffers over the airline mask mandate issued by federal transportation officials.
Arkansas – Dentist Guilty of Conspiring to Bribe Former Arkansas Lawmaker Hutchinson
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette – Ron Wood | Published: 9/14/2021
Benjamin Burris, an orthodontist who operated clinics across Arkansas, pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of bribing former state Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson to pass laws to benefit Burris’s businesses. Burris paid Hutchinson $157,500 between February 2014 and November 2016. Hutchinson, then a practicing lawyer, was paid monthly retainers that nominally were for legal services. But he was also expected to introduce and lobby for laws or regulatory changes Burris wanted, the indictment said.
California – Newsom Soundly Defeats California Recall Attempt
MSN – Phil Willon, Taryn Luna, and Julia Wick (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 9/14/2021
California Gov. Gavin Newsom survived a historic recall election, winning a major vote of confidence during a COVID-19 pandemic that has tested his ability to lead the state through the largest worldwide health crisis in modern times. The recall offered Republicans their best chance in more than a decade to take the helm of the largest state. But the effort was undercut when Newsom and the nation’s leading Democrats, aided by visits to California by President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, portrayed the campaign to oust the governor as a “life and death” battle against “Trumpism” and far-right anti-vaccine activists.
California – Recology Agrees to Pay $36 Million for Role in Bribes to City Official
MSN – Megan Cassidy (San Francisco Chronicle) | Published: 9/10/2021
Three waste management companies that are part of Recology Inc. agreed to pay $36 million for their role in a corruption scheme that included kickbacks to former San Francisco Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru. The resolution comes as federal prosecutors announced a charge of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud against the three subsidiaries, which officials said conspired to bribe Nuru for favorable treatment with the trash company’s city contracts. In his former role, Nuru had considerable sway in the rate-setting process with Recology.
Colorado – Unregistered Redistricting Lobbying Complaint to Receive Full Investigation After Colorado Secretary of State Approves Probe
Colorado Springs Gazette – Evan Wyloge | Published: 9/15/2021
An investigation into whether a secretly funded nonprofit organization has been illegally lobbying Colorado’s redistricting commissioners will move forward after the secretary of state found enough evidence to warrant a full probe. The decision to further investigate Colorado Neighborhood Coalition, the 501c4 nonprofit organization run by longtime Republican operatives at the center of the complaint, could have broad implications for the transparency now required around the redistricting process, and comes after several efforts to influence the redistricting commissions without full transparency have emerged.
Florida – Florida Official Sentence to 5 Years in Corruption Case
MSN – Brendan Farrington (Associated Press) | Published: 9/9/2021
A federal judge sentenced former Tallahassee City Commissioner Scott Maddox to five years in prison after he pleaded guilty to charges related to public corruption. Maddox’s business associate, Paige Carte-Smith, was sentenced to two years for her role. Prosecutors said Maddox would send clients to Carter-Smith’s lobbying firm after he returned to the city commission in 2012, and she would then pay Maddox for his influence. Maddox was first elected to the commission in 1990 and later served as the Tallahassee mayor until 2003.
Florida – Tallahassee City Commissioner Calls for Ethics Reforms Following Maddox Trial
WFSU – Valerie Crowder | Published: 9/10/2021
A former Tallahassee commissioner’s public corruption trial has sparked calls for ethics reform. Former Commissioner Scott Maddox was sentenced to five years in federal prison for orchestrating a bribery scheme through his lobbying firm. City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow is proposing six policy recommendations aimed at making it harder for public officials to abuse their power. They include requiring all city officials to detail any meetings related to city business they have with paid lobbyists and report contact logs with anyone paid to influence policy.
Hawaii – What Civil Beat’s Salary Database Tells Us About the Embattled Auditor’s Office
Honolulu Civil Beat – Richard Wiens | Published: 9/12/2021
When the Honolulu Civil Beat published the salaries and job titles of more than 48,000 state workers, they included the payrolls of two agencies whose directors have made a lot of headlines lately: the state auditor’s office and the Hawaii Ethics Commission. Auditor Les Kondo has been under fire from a working group that found his office was producing inadequate performance audits. Ethics Commission Director Dan Gluck generated controversy after he was nominated to become a judge on the Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals. The salary database shows how the offices led by Kondo and Gluck have evolved over the last decade.
Idaho – Former Idaho Legislator Faces Arrest Warrant on Two Felony Charges – Including Rape
Idaho Statesman – Hayat Norimine | Published: 9/10/2021
The former Idaho legislator who resigned earlier this year after a House ethics committee hearing now faces two felony charges, including one for rape. An arrest warrant has been issued for former state Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger, who stepped down after a 19-year-old legislative intern’s accusation of sexual assault. Von Ehlinger has denied any wrongdoing, saying his actions with the intern were consensual. He resigned just hours after the ethics panel recommended expelling him from his seat, following a finding he engaged in “conduct unbecoming.”
Illinois – Chicago Sky Owner Michael Alter Fined by City Ethics Board for Seeking Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Help on Gambling License Without Registering as a Lobbyist
MSN – Gregory Pratt (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 9/15/2021
Michael Alter, owner of the Chicago Sky basketball team in the WNBA, was fined $5,000 for lobbying Mayor Lori Lightfoot without registering. Alter emailed first lady Amy Eshleman in December to ask for the mayor’s help obtaining a gambling license for his team. In the email, Alter noted he previously discussed the issue with Lightfoot. Lobbyists are required to register with the city and report contact with city departments. Alter has not registered as a lobbyist in Chicago dating back to 2013.
Illinois – Ethics Bill Clears Illinois House on Second Try, Will Head Back to Governor
Journal Gazette and Times-Courier – Peter Hancock (Capitol News Illinois) | Published: 9/9/2021
The Illinois House voted to accept changes to an ethics bill that Gov. J.B. Pritzker requested, paving the way for it to become law once the governor signs it. Senate Bill 539 cleared both chambers during the spring session. It contained enough reforms, such as increased financial disclosure requirements and limits on the ability of elected officials to lobby other units of government, so many lawmakers believed it was the best they could get at the time. But a few weeks after it passed, Legislative Inspector General Carol Pope submitted her intent to resign, saying the bill would weaken her office by limiting the types of investigations she could conduct.
Illinois – Ethics Board Finds Probable Cause Ald. Gardiner Violated Ethics Ordinance Twice
WTTW – Heather Cherone | Published: 9/15/2021
The Chicago Board of Ethics found there is probable cause to believe Ald. Jim Gardiner violated the city’s ethics ordinance by using his office to retaliate against his political foes. Gardiner will have a chance to challenge the board’s determination, which could result in fines ranging between $200 to $5,000 per violation. The finding adds to the beleaguered alderman’s woes. It was reported that Gardiner is under federal investigation for allegedly accepting bribes and demanding payments before taking official actions.
Kentucky – Woman Pleads Guilty to Lying About Boss’s Lexington Council Campaign Donation Scheme
MSN – Jeremy Chisenhall (Lexington Herald-Leader) | Published: 9/15/2021
Elizabeth Stormbringer pleaded guilty to perjury and lying to the FBI in a scheme to circumvent campaign finance laws in a Lexington City Council race. Officials at the time were investigating potential campaign finance crimes committed by her boss at a real estate development company. She also admitted to lying under oath while she testified before the grand jury. Investigators discovered she made a $1,000 donation to a council candidate in 2018 and then received a $1,000 check from her boss, Timothy Wellman. He was an executive at CRM Companies who had a development project the council considered.
Louisiana – Former State Parks Employee Fined for Violating Ethics Laws
KATC – Staff | Published: 9/13/2021
The Louisiana Board of Ethics fined a former parks employee $26,000 after finding he accepted payments from production companies filming in his park in violation of state law. Arthur Schick worked for an agency within the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism. The board found he received a total of $13,000 in compensation from various film production companies between 2015 and 2017. When a production company signs an agreement to use a park, they pay a damage fee to cover any costs incurred by their work. The board said Schick was adding on a “site rep” fee, and he was depositing that in his own bank account.
Maryland – Maryland Elections Officials Ask Michael Steele to Prove He’s Following Campaign Law
MSN – Pamela Wood (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 9/14/2021
Michael Steele, the former Maryland lieutenant governor who is contemplating a run for governor, must disclose information about his exploratory campaign to show he is not violating campaign finance laws. The Maryland State Board of Elections sent a letter to Steele requesting the details by October 11. It came in response to a complaint that Steele was improperly using a federal account to raise and spend money for a future state campaign in Maryland.
Massachusetts – Campaign Finance Reform Pitched as Way to Diversify Candidate Pool
WWLP – Chris Lisinski (State House News Service) | Published: 9/15/2021
Lawmakers are again pushing to add childcare to the list of allowable campaign finance expenses in Massachusetts, buoyed by a legislative commission’s endorsement of the change last year, a growing list of more than a dozen states that have already deployed similar reforms, and the possibility that a new top campaign finance regulator will embrace the proposal. A bill before the Election Laws Committee would explicitly allow candidates to use their campaign accounts to cover childcare costs while the parent is occupied with running for office.
Massachusetts – Former Top House Democrat Sentenced to 15 Months in Prison for Fraud
WWLP – Matt Murphy (State House News Service) | Published: 9/15/2021
A federal judge sentenced former Massachusetts Rep. David Nangle to 15 months after Nangle pleaded guilty earlier this year to illegally using campaign funds to fund a lifestyle that included golf club memberships and casino trips to Connecticut and lying to banks about his debt to obtain mortgages and other loans. Prosecutors said during the period covered by their investigation, Nangle was heavily in debt and gambling at various casinos, using campaign funds to rent cars to travel to casinos and even paying someone at Mohegan Sun to collect his winnings so he did not have to pay income taxes.
Massachusetts – Wu and Essaibi George Will Advance as Top Candidates in Historic Race for Boston Mayor
MSN – Emma Platoff (Boston Globe) | Published: 9/15/2021
Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi George, two daughters of immigrants and longtime Boston City Council members who have struck dramatically different tones on the campaign trail to become the city’s next mayor, are advancing to November’s general election. Either would be the first woman of color Boston has ever elected mayor, a historic shift. But the contest between them will nonetheless test the city’s appetite for change.
Michigan – FBI Seized Towing Docs, Electronics and Records for Benson Aide During Detroit City Hall Raid
Detroit News – Robert Snell and Sarah Rahal | Published: 9/14/2021
FBI agents investigating Detroit City Hall corruption seized electronics, towing paperwork, shredded documents, and payroll records for Emberly Vick, an aide of Detroit City Councilperson Scott Benson, during a recent raid. The document confirms media reports that said the corruption investigation was focused on Detroit towing operations in what amounts to the broadest public corruption probe in the eight years since former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was convicted of racketeering conspiracy. Vick has not been charged with any wrongdoing.
New Jersey – Activist Assails ELEC for Deleting Dismissed Campaign Finance Complaints from Its Website
Politico – Matt Friedman | Published: 9/14/2021
The New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) has for years quietly been disposing complaints against politicians it dismissed by deleting them from its website. Now, after an activist whose tips to the commission led to multicount complaints against two Democrats noticed those complaints were dismissed with no public justification and little public disclosure, ELEC said it is taking that policy “under advisement.”
New Mexico – Gonzales Shifts Course, Turns to Private Donors
Albuquerque Journal – Jessica Dyer | Published: 9/14/2021
Hours after losing another round in his prolonged legal fight for public campaign financing, Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales said he will try a new tack in the 2021 mayor’s race in Albuquerque. Gonzales said he would turn to private donors for support, forgoing his quest to get taxpayer money for his campaign. The decision concludes his monthslong battle over $600,000 in public campaign cash. Gonzales’ battle sustained a blow when a state judge ruled City Clerk Ethan Watson had taken the appropriate actions necessary to deny Gonzales the taxpayer money and rejected Gonzales’ claims that Watson was biased.
New York – Hochul Leaves Door Open to Probe of Cuomo Campaign Spending
Albany Times Union – Joshua Solomon | Published: 9/9/2021
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is leaving the door open for a potential investigation into how former Gov. Andrew Cuomo is spending roughly $18 million of campaign cash after he resigned from office in the wake of an investigation that found he sexually harassed multiple women. The response comes as watchdogs are calling for the state Board of Election chief enforcement officer Michael Johnson to investigate Cuomo’s spending from his campaign account. Common Cause filed a formal complaint with the Board of Elections.
New York – James Says JCOPE Leak Referral Was Improper
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg and Joshua Solomon | Published: 9/14/2021
New York Attorney General Letitia James informed the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) that her office will not presently be able to investigate the leak of confidential information to then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2019. JCOPE had passed a motion seeking to make a criminal referral to James’ office, which asked for an investigation into the apparent leak. In her letter, James cited the state law creating JCOPE, which created much-criticized special voting rules that can serve to protect politicians from scrutiny.
North Carolina – NC Lawmakers Turn to Funding Once Ruled Unethical. Are Their $14,000 Salaries the Cause?
MSN – Lucille Sherman (Raleigh News and Observer) | Published: 9/13/2021
Last fall, North Carolina lawmakers repealed a rule that barred lawmakers from collecting state money to cover food, lodging, and travel while working at the General Assembly and simultaneously using campaign accounts to pay for the same housing, meals, and travel in Raleigh, a practice that a campaign watchdog has described as “double dipping.” The move protected at least two lawmakers who had continued to use campaign funds for housing while collecting the state per diem stipends for food and lodging, between May and October last year. This year, about a dozen lawmakers have used both sources of funding.
Pennsylvania – Pennsylvania GOP Lawmakers Approve Wide-Ranging Subpoenas for Personal Information of 2020 Voters
MSN – Elise Viebeck and Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) | Published: 9/15/2021
Republican lawmakers in Pennsylvania authorized a series of broad subpoenas for personal information on voters as part of an expanding effort to review the results of the 2020 election. The move drew a sharp rebuke from Democrats, who described the effort as insecure and unwarranted, said they would consider mounting a court fight. Among other requests, Republicans are seeking the names, dates of birth, driver’s license numbers, last four digits of Social Security numbers, addresses, and methods of voting for millions of people who cast ballots in the May primary and the November general election.
Tennessee – Tennessee Valley Authority Accused of Funding ‘Dirty Energy Lobbyists’
Courthouse News Service – Rosana Hughes | Published: 9/9/2021
In a federal lawsuit, a coalition of environmental conservation groups are seeking to force the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to address a petition to regulate the agency’s spending, alleging the public utility funds “dirty energy lobbyists” with customer money. The coalition sifted through the TVA’s financial and other public records and counted hundreds of third-party organizations, such as the Edison Electric Institute, that receive TVA dollars. Those organizations, the conservationists say, “routinely make political donations, engage in legislative lobbying, … and pursue other forms of political advocacy that promote fossil fuel interests ….”
Texas – Austin ISD Stands by Hire of Ex-State Official Who Resigned Amid Ethics Allegations
MSN – Nicole Foy (Austin American-Statesman) | Published: 9/10/2021
Austin Independent School District leaders say they are standing behind the decision to hire as general counsel a former state government official who resigned in 2017 amid allegations of ethics violations. The district hired Stuart Bowen, a lawyer and former Texas Health and Human Services inspector general, as its general counsel in August. Bowen in 2017 was forced to resign his position as the state’s top insurance fraud investigator after allegations arose that he was also working for a lobbying firm that represents the Iraqi government.
Texas – Texas Governor Signs Bill Prohibiting Social Media Giants from Blocking Users Based on Viewpoint
MSN – Cat Zakrzewski (Washington Post) | Published: 9/9/2021
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill that would prohibit large technology companies from blocking or restricting people or their posts based on their viewpoint, setting the stage for a legal battle with the tech industry. The law applies to social media companies with more than 50 million monthly active users in the U.S., including Facebook, Twitter, and Google’s YouTube, and requires them to create reports on any illegal or potentially policy-violating content, as well as build a complaint system, where people could challenge companies’ decisions to remove content or flag illegal activity.
Virginia – Campaign Funds Can Be Used for Child Care, Virginia AG Says
Virginia Mercury – Graham Moomaw | Published: 9/10/2021
Attorney General Mark Herring said candidates in Virginia can use campaign funds to pay campaign-related child-care expenses, an opinion that puts the state in alignment with federal election rules but has little immediate impact due to Virginia’s anything-goes campaign finance system. Proponents of the child-care exemption say it gives parents of young children, particularly women, more freedom to run for office without worrying about a hit to their family budget.
Wisconsin – How Wisconsin Is Ruled by a Shadow Governor
Yahoo News – Daniel Vock (Politico) | Published: 9/15/2021
For nearly three years, Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has used his GOP majority, and the support of the Republicans who control the state Senate, to block, thwart, or resist almost every significant move made by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. Governors asserted unprecedented powers in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, and lawmakers in many states chafed at the broad executive reach. But few have done more to constrain gubernatorial power than Vos, the president of the National Conference of State Legislatures.
September 16, 2021 •
Hawaii’s Kauai County Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar will step down this month from the job he’s held for nearly a decade, clearing the way for a special election to determine who will next lead the office. A special primary election […]
Hawaii’s Kauai County Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar will step down this month from the job he’s held for nearly a decade, clearing the way for a special election to determine who will next lead the office.
A special primary election is scheduled for December 18 followed by a special general election on February 26, 2022.
Kollar, who will leave the county on September 30, has accepted a job as chief of staff for the nonprofit Fair and Just Prosecution and plans to relocate to California.
The acting prosecutor for Kauai will be Rebecca Like, who has worked in the county prosecutor’s office since 2010.
September 16, 2021 •
New York Rep. Victor Pichardo’s resignation was effective this week, leaving the 86th Assembly District seat vacant. Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin’s former Senate District 30 seat is also vacant following his elevation to the lieutenant governor position. Special elections will […]
New York Rep. Victor Pichardo’s resignation was effective this week, leaving the 86th Assembly District seat vacant.
Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin’s former Senate District 30 seat is also vacant following his elevation to the lieutenant governor position.
Special elections will be held on November 2 to fill both seats. Winners of the special elections will serve until December 31, 2022.
September 16, 2021 •
Campaign Finance New Jersey: “Activist Assails ELEC for Deleting Dismissed Campaign Finance Complaints from Its Website” by Matt Friedman for Politico New Mexico: “Gonzales Shifts Course, Turns to Private Donors” by Jessica Dyer for Albuquerque Journal Elections Massachusetts: “Wu and […]
New Jersey: “Activist Assails ELEC for Deleting Dismissed Campaign Finance Complaints from Its Website” by Matt Friedman for Politico
New Mexico: “Gonzales Shifts Course, Turns to Private Donors” by Jessica Dyer for Albuquerque Journal
Massachusetts: “Wu and Essaibi George Will Advance as Top Candidates in Historic Race for Boston Mayor” by Emma Platoff (Boston Globe) for MSN
Pennsylvania: “Pennsylvania GOP Lawmakers Approve Wide-Ranging Subpoenas for Personal Information of 2020 Voters” by Elise Viebeck and Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Fed’s Kaplan, Rosengren to Sell All Stocks Amid Ethics Concerns” by Catarina Saraiva and Craig Torres (Bloomberg) for MSN
Illinois: “Ethics Board Finds Probable Cause Ald. Gardiner Violated Ethics Ordinance Twice” by Heather Cherone for WTTW
Louisiana: “Former State Parks Employee Fined for Violating Ethics Laws” by Staff for KATC
Wisconsin: “How Wisconsin Is Ruled by a Shadow Governor” by Daniel Vock (Politico) for Yahoo News
Colorado: “Unregistered Redistricting Lobbying Complaint to Receive Full Investigation After Colorado Secretary of State Approves Probe” by Evan Wyloge for Colorado Springs Gazette
Illinois: “Chicago Sky Owner Michael Alter Fined by City Ethics Board for Seeking Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Help on Gambling License Without Registering as a Lobbyist” by Gregory Pratt (Chicago Tribune) for MSN
September 15, 2021 •
Iowa Republican Mike Bousselot beat Democrat Andrea Phillips by 377 votes to win the special election for House District 37. The seat became vacant in July following the death of Rep. John Landon. Republicans now hold a 59-40 lead in […]
Iowa Republican Mike Bousselot beat Democrat Andrea Phillips by 377 votes to win the special election for House District 37.
The seat became vacant in July following the death of Rep. John Landon.
Republicans now hold a 59-40 lead in the House.
There will be one more special election on October 12 to replace Rep. Wes Breckenridge, a Democrat who resigned.
September 15, 2021 •
Justin Bibb, a nonprofit executive, and City Council President Kevin Kelley will square off in Cleveland, Ohio’s mayoral general election this November after receiving the most primary votes out of a field of seven candidates. The winner will replace Frank […]
Justin Bibb, a nonprofit executive, and City Council President Kevin Kelley will square off in Cleveland, Ohio’s mayoral general election this November after receiving the most primary votes out of a field of seven candidates.
The winner will replace Frank Jackson, first elected in 2005 and now the longest-serving mayor in Cleveland history.
September 15, 2021 •
Campaign Finance Maryland: “Maryland Elections Officials Ask Michael Steele to Prove He’s Following Campaign Law” by Pamela Wood (Baltimore Sun) for MSN Elections National: “Election Fraud Cases Sow Doubts About Legal Profession’s Future” by Melissa Heelan for Bloomberg Law National: […]
Maryland: “Maryland Elections Officials Ask Michael Steele to Prove He’s Following Campaign Law” by Pamela Wood (Baltimore Sun) for MSN
National: “Election Fraud Cases Sow Doubts About Legal Profession’s Future” by Melissa Heelan for Bloomberg Law
National: “Revised Democratic Voting Bill Drops Controversial Provisions, Tweaks Others as Pressure for Action Mounts” by Mike DeBonis (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “Newsom Soundly Defeats California Recall Attempt” by Phil Willon, Taryn Luna, and Julia Wick (Los Angeles Times) for MSN
Arkansas: “Dentist Guilty of Conspiring to Bribe Former Arkansas Lawmaker Hutchinson” by Ron Wood for Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
New York: “James Says JCOPE Leak Referral Was Improper” by Chris Bragg and Joshua Solomon for Albany Times Union
Texas: “Texas Governor Signs Bill Prohibiting Social Media Giants from Blocking Users Based on Viewpoint” by Cat Zakrzewski (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Delta Variant Postpones K Street’s Full Return” by Kate Ackley (Roll Call) for MSN
September 14, 2021 •
Massachusetts State officials scheduled a special election for January 11, 2022 to fill the state Senate seat in the 1st Suffolk and Middlesex District. The seat became vacant when Sen. Joe Boncore resigned to accept the CEO position with the […]
Massachusetts State officials scheduled a special election for January 11, 2022 to fill the state Senate seat in the 1st Suffolk and Middlesex District.
The seat became vacant when Sen. Joe Boncore resigned to accept the CEO position with the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council.
A primary will be held on December 14.
September 13, 2021 •
Wyoming lawmakers have advanced a proposal to switch the state’s elections to a runoff system, after rejecting a similar proposal three months ago. Runoff election systems are favored in states in which a political party holds a strong majority. Wyoming, […]
Wyoming lawmakers have advanced a proposal to switch the state’s elections to a runoff system, after rejecting a similar proposal three months ago.
Runoff election systems are favored in states in which a political party holds a strong majority.
Wyoming, a republican stronghold, has seen a divide grow between main party republicans and more conservative candidates.
As the more conservative side of the party grows, the fear of vote splitting during primaries increases.
September 10, 2021 •
In light of the devastation brought on by Hurricane Ida, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards ordered the delay of upcoming fall elections that featured important Constitutional questions statewide and municipal elections in New Orleans. The October 9 primary election will be […]
In light of the devastation brought on by Hurricane Ida, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards ordered the delay of upcoming fall elections that featured important Constitutional questions statewide and municipal elections in New Orleans.
The October 9 primary election will be held instead on November 13 and the November 13 general election will be held on December 11.
The October 9 ballot was full of primaries for three legislative seats, along with the mayor, sheriff, assessor, and the seven city council members in New Orleans.
It also has four Constitutional amendments and a number of questions for locals around the state, such as a renewal of a property tax that funds the bus system in Baton Rouge.
The November 13 general election had been scheduled as runoffs for those contests not decided in the primaries.
Many parts of the state are still without power, some voting locations are damaged and a number of people are still displaced from their homes after Hurricane Ida.
September 10, 2021 •
National/Federal A Pro-Trump Group Organizing a DC Rally for Jan. 6 Defendants Lost Its Tax-Exempt Status – but Is Still Claiming Donations Are Tax-Deductible Yahoo News – Charles Davis (Business Insider) | Published: 9/8/2021 A group founded by a former Trump […]
A Pro-Trump Group Organizing a DC Rally for Jan. 6 Defendants Lost Its Tax-Exempt Status – but Is Still Claiming Donations Are Tax-Deductible
Yahoo News – Charles Davis (Business Insider) | Published: 9/8/2021
A group founded by a former Trump campaign staffer that is organizing a rally on behalf of January 6 defendants is soliciting “tax-deductible” contributions despite losing its tax-exempt status last year. According to its website, Look Ahead America is a “non-profit organization” founded by Matt Braynard, a former data analyst on the 2016 Trump campaign. Although ostensibly non-partisan, it has clear and avowed sympathies, On September 18, it is organizing what it calls a “#JusticeForJ6” rally at the U.S. Capitol, conflating those arrested for taking part in the pro-Trump January 6 riot with “political prisoners.”
Corporate Boards, Consulting, Speaking Fees: How U.S. generals thrived after Afghanistan
MSN – Isaac Stanley-Becker (Washington Post) | Published: 9/4/2021
The failure of the American mission in Afghanistan became deadly apparent when the Afghan army collapsed as the Taliban took control. But the generals who led the mission – including McChrystal, who sought and supervised the 2009 American troop surge – have thrived in the private sector since leaving the war. They have amassed influence within businesses, at universities, and in think tanks, in some cases selling their experience in a conflict that killed an estimated 176,000 people, cost the U.S. more than $2 trillion, and concluded with the restoration of Taliban rule.
Encryption Poised to Hamper Jan. 6 Investigators’ Phone Records Push
Yahoo News – Nicholas Wu (Politico) | Published: 9/8/2021
The congressional panel investigating the January 6 insurrection escalated its inquiry, sending dozens of requests to social media and telecommunications companies asking them to hold onto individuals’ communications data related to attempts to overturn the 2020 election and the Capitol siege. Several of the companies that received preservation requests said they would comply to the best of their ability. But the encryption used on many of those services will limit the amount of data the select committee is able to gather if it does make a formal request or issue a subpoena for the actual messages, experts say.
Ethics Panel Announces Four Investigations
MSN – Chris Marquette (Roll Call) | Published: 9/7/2021
The U.S. House ethics committee announced it is investigating four members: Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.), Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), Jim Hagedorn (R-Minn.), and Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.). The cases were investigated by the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), which concluded that in each case there was a substantial reason to believe a violation occurred. The OCE is a fact-finding office and, unlike the ethics committee, cannot discipline members or issue subpoenas.
Fears of Critical Race Theory Unleash Army of School Board Candidates
Yahoo News – Daniel Payne (Politico) | Published: 9/8/2021
Tapping into the trickle-up anger over teaching about systemic racism is now a unifying force in campaigns for Congress, governor, and among Republicans with presidential ambitions. But it is the local school board races – outside the spotlight, in elections that attract just a few hundred voters – that may define what students learn for years to come. The movement has the potential to build a stronger GOP as once-uninvolved conservative candidates flood local government and party races, seeking a platform to fight critical race theory and other culture war issues. While such elections are often nonpartisan, the Republican Party sees an opportunity to build a pipeline of new candidates.
Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene Fined $2,500 for Failing to Wear Mask on House Floor
MSN – Chelsey Cox (USA Today) | Published: 9/9/2021
U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene was fined for flouting a mask mandate on the floor of the House. The fine is part of an ongoing battle over COVID-19 restrictions as the delta variant surges, with many conservatives, including members of Congress, stridently resisting masks and other measures. Notice of the fine was posted by the House ethics committee when Greene did not submit an appeal within an approved time frame. Greene was fined for the same offense on May 20 and her initial appeal was not approved by the committee.
Human Rights Campaign President Fired After Helping to Advise Cuomo
MSN – Brian Pietsch and Michael Scherer (Washington Post) | Published: 9/7/2021
The president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBTQ rights group, was fired over his involvement advising former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s response to sexual assault allegations. State Attorney General Letitia James found David, a onetime lawyer in the governor’s office, had been consulted by Cuomo’s staff on a letter the governor helped draft to undermine the harassment allegations of Lindsey Boylan, Cuomo’s first accuser. While leading the HRC, David suggested changes to the never-released Boylan letter, which was later leaked to reporters.
New Texas Voting Bill Deepens Growing Disparities in How Americans Can Cast Their Ballots
MSN – Elise Viebeck (Washington Post) | Published: 9/6/2021
Red and blue states are increasingly moving in opposite directions on how millions of Americans can cast their ballots, exacerbating a growing divide as Republicans in states across the country, most recently Texas, impose new voting restrictions, while Democrats in others expand access. The conflicting trends are widening the disparities in election policy in the wake of the 2020 election, with Republicans heeding former President Trump’s calls to tighten rules and Democrats moving to make permanent many voting policies that helped turnout soar during the pandemic.
Proponents of Post-Trump Curbs on Executive Power Prepare New Push
Yahoo News – Charlie Savage (New York Times) | Published: 9/9/2021
As Donald Trump’s norm-busting presidency careened through two impeachments, his departure set the stage for lawmakers to impose new limits on executive power like the period after Watergate and the Vietnam War. But nearly nine months after Trump left the White House, the legal rules that govern the presidency have yet to be tightened. Would-be reformers, sensing the window for change might close soon, are preparing a major push, one the Biden White House is eyeing warily.
Trump-Appointed Ambassador Directed Government Business to His Hotel, Emails Show
MSN – Amy Wang and David Fahrenthold (Washington Post) | Published: 9/3/2021
Kelly Craft, who was appointed to two ambassadorships under former President Trump, directed government business to Trump’s hotel in Washington, D.C. while in office, emails show. It was not the first time Craft showed an affinity for the hotel owned by Trump’s company. According to the emails, Craft stayed at the Trump International Hotel multiple times while in Washington.
White House Asks Several Trump Appointees to Resign from Military Service Academy Boards
MSN – Felicia Sonmez (Washington Post) | Published: 9/8/2021
The White House said it asked a number of Trump administration appointees to resign their positions on the advisory boards at military service academies, arguing the move was about qualifications, not politics. Among the 11 officials are former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and former White House Press Secretary Sean Spice. Asked whether the White House was concerned the move might risk politicizing positions that have traditionally been nonpartisan roles spanning administrations, Press Secretary Jen Psaki reiterated that the president’s primary concern was an appointee’s qualifications and values.
From the States and Municipalities
Alaska – Alaska Supreme Court Confirms an End to 2 Limits on Cash in Political Campaigns
Yahoo News – James Brooks (Anchorage Daily News) | Published: 9/3/2021
In a pair of rulings, the Alaska Supreme Court confirmed that two state limits on spending during political campaigns are unconstitutional and cannot be enforced. The justices said the state cannot limit political contributions to third-party groups because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United. The other ruling confirms a summary order issued that overturned a one dollar-per-signature limit on payments to those who gather signatures for ballot measures.
Arizona – Trump Helped Bankroll Senate Audit, Texts Suggest
Arizona Capitol Times – Dillon Rosenblatt and Kyra Haas | Published: 8/31/2021
Former President Trump may have offered to help pay for Arizona election audit that supporters hope will reverse his election loss, according to records. In an April text exchange with audit spokesperson Randy Pullen, Trump campaign official and former Arizona Treasurer Jeff DeWit offered to send $175,000 to the Guardian Defense Fund, a “dark-money” group run by Rep. Mark Finchem, where Pullen serves as treasurer. It is unclear if Trump’s money eventually made it to the audit. The Senate’s contractor, Cyber Ninjas, announced it raised more than $5.6 million from five different nonprofit organizations, but did not share the original donors.
California – Bell City Manager, Ex-State Senator, Developer Charged in Corruption Case
Yahoo News – Richard Winston (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 9/3/2021
Prosecutors said four men have been charged in connection with the embezzlement and misappropriation of millions of dollars in public funds that were supposed to be used to study whether a solar farm was suitable on land to be purchased by the City of Industry. Paul Philips, the former manager of the City of Industry, former state Sen. Frank Hill, attorney Anthony Bouza, and William Barkett, the developer of the solar project, were charged. The City of Industry advanced $20 million to Barkett’s company to build a 450-megawatt solar project. But it never broke ground, and the money was never paid back. Though some of the allocated money was paid to other vendors, Barkett is accused of spending about $8.3 million on personal items.
California – Favors Aren’t Bribes, Say Ex-LA Councilman’s Attorneys
Los Angeles Daily Breeze – Fred Shuster (City News Service) | Published: 9/8/2021
Attorneys for Jose Huizar filed papers arguing the bribery case against the ex-Los Angeles City Councill member should be tossed because the alleged conduct does not violate laws cited in the 41-count federal racketeering indictment. Huizar, the central figure in a six-year probe of suspected corruption at City Hall, and his associates were allegedly involved in a $1.5 million “pay-to-play” scheme in which real estate developers were shaken down for cash and campaign donations in exchange for help getting building projects through the city’s approval process.
California – Fears Rise Over Disinformation in California’s Recall Election
MSN – Reid Wilson (The Hill) | Published: 9/8/2021
Conspiracy theorists who once spread baseless allegations and disinformation about the results of the 2020 elections have turned their attention to the recall election targeting California Gov. Gavin Newsome in an effort that watchdogs say is meant to further undermine faith in the nation’s electoral system. But less than a year after technology giants came under pressure to monitor and squelch disinformation related to last year’s elections, groups dedicated to fighting conspiracy theories say the companies are letting bad actors run free.
Illinois – Republicans Upend Democratic Efforts to Show They’re Serious About Ethics Reform in Springfield
MSN – Dan Petrella (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 9/3/2021
In a move that appeared to catch majority Democrats by surprise, Illinois House Republicans rejected an ethics proposal tweaked by Gov. J.B. Pritzker and are using the resignation of the General Assembly’s top watchdog to push for what they argue are more meaningful anti-corruption measures. The ethics package, crafted in response to an ongoing federal corruption probe that has swept from Chicago City Hall to Springfield, now faces long odds of becoming law and Democrats who control state government risk losing a chance to show they are taking steps to root out corruption.
Maine – Portland Councilor, a Plaintiff in Lawsuit Against the City, Won’t Recuse Herself from Dispute
Portland Press Herald – Randy Billings | Published: 9/3/2021
Portland City Councilor April Fournier said she will not recuse herself from discussions about a lawsuit that clean-elections advocates filed against the city, even though she is named as a plaintiff in the case. The issue emerged as the council considered how to respond to a court’s request for formal “findings of fact” to explain why it rejected a petition to place a public campaign financing proposal on the ballot in 2019. The council decided such a change to the city’s charter would require a lengthy review process before it could go to voters. Fournier, who was not a councilor at the time, was one of 13 residents to sign on with Fair Elections Portland as plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging that decision.
Massachusetts – Former Mayor Jasiel Correia Could Owe Over $566,000 in His Fraud and Extortion Case
Herald News – Dan Medeiros | Published: 9/8/2021
The federal government has finished totaling up his tab, and they want former Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia to repay $566,740 he illegally obtained from investors in his smartphone app and extorted from people looking to open marijuana businesses in Fall River. In May, Correia was found guilty of 21 counts of wire fraud, tax fraud, extortion, and conspiracy conducted both before and during his tenure as mayor.
Michigan – FBI Contacted Wayne County Campaign Finance Office Amid Raids on Detroit City Hall
MSN – Joe Guillen (Detroit Free Press) | Published: 9/8/2021
The FBI contacted the Wayne County clerk’s campaign finance office around the time federal agents searched Detroit City Hall in August as part of an ongoing public corruption investigation. While the exact timing and nature of the FBI’s contact is unclear, investigators’ interest in the county clerk’s office could be a new wrinkle in the corruption investigation of several sitting city council members.
Michigan – Pro-Trump Lawyers Face $200,000 Legal Bill for ‘Frivolous’ Election Case
Yahoo News – Jan Wolfe (Reuters) | Published: 9/8/2021
Michigan officials demanded that lawyers who unsuccessfully sued to overturn former President Trump’s election defeat in the state pay about $200,000 to reimburse for legal fees and related costs. U.S. District Court Judge Linda Parker has ruled state and local election officials in Michigan were entitled to reimbursement of their legal fees but has not yet determined the exact amount. The judge will now review the request to determine if it is reasonable.
Michigan – Time’s Up in Ex-Romulus Mayor Probe Despite New Evidence
PressReader.com – George Hunter (Detroit News) | Published: 9/4/2021
Michigan State Police recently received new evidence in connection with an 11-year-old corruption investigation that, according to public records, focused on former Romulus Mayor Alan Lambert, but the probe was not reopened because the statute of limitations on possible criminal charges expired. Lambert, who served as mayor from 2001 to 2013 and is seeking to regain the position in November, has never been charged with a crime. The probe focused on allegations Lambert forced business owners to pay for political favors and purchase tickets to fundraisers, as well as questions about a money trail involving a Florida real estate transaction.
Montana – How a Small Town Silenced a Neo-Nazi Hate Campaign
Yahoo News – Elizabeth Williamson (New York Times) | Published: 9/5/2021
Richard Spencer once boasted he stood at the vanguard of a white nationalist movement emboldened by Donald Trump. But leaders in Whitefish, Montana, say Spencer, who once ran his National Policy Institute from his mother’s summer house in the town, is now an outcast. His organization has dissolved, and he is facing trial in over his role in the deadly 2017 neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville. Residents of Whitefish, who joined with state officials, human rights groups, and synagogues, say their bipartisan counteroffensive could hold lessons for others in an era of disinformation and intimidation, and in the wake of the January 6 Capitol riot.
Montana – Native Transgender Lobbyist Sues Conservative News Website for Libel
Missoula Current – Darrell Ehrlick (Montana Standard) | Published: 9/7/2021
Adrian Jawort, a transgender lobbyist for Montana Native Voice, is suing the Montana Daily Gazette for claiming she cornered a state senator and Montana Family Foundation President Jeff Laszloffy, who escorted the senator to the sergeant-at-arms for his protection. Jawort denied the allegations and asked the newspaper to remove the written account of the alleged incident and correct the reporting. The Daily Gazette refused to do so. Jawort filed a lawsuit, claiming the publication damaged her ability to do her job and asked for $250,000 in damages.
New Mexico – Gonzales Denied Public Campaign Funding for the Second Time
Albuquerque Journal – Jessica Dyer | Published: 9/2/2021
For the second time in about two months, the Albuquerque city clerk rejected Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales’ application for about $600,000 in public money to run his mayoral campaign. Ethan Watson – whose initial denial on July 9 sparked a series of appeals, hearings, and court filings, wrote he would not certify Gonzales for the money because Gonzales violated city code and related regulations while trying to qualify for the funds. The sheriff’s campaign manager said Watson is biased.
New York – A Deputy Mayor in New York Had a Stash of Weapons and Fake FBI Badges with His Name and Photo on Them, Feds Say
MSN – Andrea Salcedo (Washington Post) | Published: 9/8/2021
When authorities executing a search warrant descended into the basement of Brian Downey’s home, they discovered more than a dozen firearms displayed on a black wall, federal agents said. As officers continued searching the home of the deputy mayor of Airmont, New York, they found a sawed-off shotgun in a closet and an illegally modified short-barrel rifle. They also discovered fake badges that bore Downey’s name from various agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Prisons, and the FBI.
New York – After Cuomo Scandals, NY Lawmakers Tout Need for Recall Option
Press-Republican – Joe Mahoney (CNHI News Service) | Published: 9/8/2021
Up until a month ago, New York and California were both states with governors in deep political hot water. But with Andrew Cuomo having resigned on his own as New York’s chief executive, a major difference in how the two states can deal with issues relating to competency in public office is now in focus: Californians have the power to recall leaders at the ballot box, while New Yorkers do not. Some New York lawmakers are desirous of changing the status quo, proposing what could be a heavy lift at the statehouse.
New York – Ethics Agency Subpoenaed in Investigation of Cuomo’s Book
Alton Telegraph – Chris Bragg (Albany Times Union) | Published: 9/8/2021
New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office issued a subpoena to the Joint Commission on Public Ethics for its records on former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s book chronicling his administration’s early response to the coronavirus pandemic. The subpoena was issued in connection with a criminal investigation that the attorney general is conducting into whether Cuomo’s use of government workers to assist him in writing the book violated any laws. It signals the investigation into Cuomo’s and his staff’s potential misuse of government resources for private gain is entering a phase beyond interviews and gathering publicly available records.
New York – Ex-Cuomo Aide, Founding SUNY Poly President See Convictions Upheld in Appeals Court
Minneapolis Star Tribune – Larry Neumeister (Associated Press) | Published: 9/8/2021
The conviction of one of ex-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s top aides, Joseph Percoco, for fraud and accepting bribes was affirmed by a federal appeals court, as was the separate conviction of founding SUNY Polytechnic Institute President Alain Kaloyeros. The appeals court also upheld the conviction of Steven Aiello, a real estate executive who was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in funneling bribes to Percoco to gain his influence in an ambitious Buffalo Billion development project aimed at encouraging economic development upstate.
New York – Facebook Mum on Staffer Who May Have Broken Law Advising Cuomo on Sex Harass Claims
New York Post – Theo Wayt | Published: 9/8/2021
Facebook communications manager Dani Lever was part of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “inner circle” of confidantes who helped plan the then-governor’s response to allegations of sexual misconduct. She joined Facebook in August 2020 after having worked in the governor’s press office since 2014. Legal experts say Lever’s role advising Cuomo likely put Facebook in violation of New York state’s lobbying law. The law bans registered lobbyists from giving gifts worth more than $15 to public officials and Facebook has been a registered lobbyist in New York state since at least 2019.
New York – Trump Tower’s Key Tenants Have Fallen Behind on Rent and Moved out. But Trump Has One Reliable Customer: His own PAC.
MSN – Shayna Jacobs, David Fahrenthold, Jonathan O’Connell, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 9/3/2021
As Trump Tower dealt with imploding tenants, political backlash, and a broader, pandemic-related slump in Manhattan office leasing since last year, it has been able to count on one reliable, high-paying tenant: former President Trump’s own political operation. Starting in March, one of his committees, Make America Great Again PSC, paid $37,541.67 per month to rent office space on the 15th floor of Trump Tower, a space previously rented by his campaign. A person familiar with Trump’s PAC said its staffers do not regularly use the office space. Also, for several months, Trump’s PAC paid the Trump Organization $3,000 per month to rent a retail kiosk in the tower’s lobby, even though the lobby was closed.
North Carolina – Cooper Vetoes Restrictions on NC Nonprofit Donor Disclosure
MSN – Associated Press | Published: 9/4/2021
Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed legislation that would prohibit the public disclosure of donors to North Carolina-based nonprofits, calling the measure unneeded. Republicans who sent the bill to his desk said the restrictions would protect the free-speech and free-association rights of donors. Other bill supporters say the identifying information could be used by those who wish to harass donors for their viewpoints on social issues.
North Carolina – NC Elections Board Fines Political Campaigns Combined $330K for Late or Missing Finance Reports
WCNC – Nate Morabido | Published: 9/7/2021
Some of the most recognizable campaigns in North Carolina failed to meet deadlines to disclose who donated to their cause and how they spent that money. Hundreds of those campaigns now owe hefty fines as a result. Records show the State Board of Elections already assessed a combined $330,000 in penalties to campaigns this year alone for filing their 2020 routine campaign finance paperwork late or failing to file those reports altogether.
Ohio – FBI Suspected Dayton Mayor Whaley of Bribery in 2014, Court Documents Show
MSN – Jake Zuckerman (Ohio Capital Journal) | Published: 9/8/2021
The FBI suspected Dayton Mayor and gubernatorial candidate Nan Whaley in 2014 of accepting cash bribes from a city contractor, according to search warrant applications. Whaley was not charged with any crime. The warrants detail sworn statements from FBI agents to a federal judge outlining their suspicion of impropriety. In both instances, federal magistrates found probable cause to grant the warrants. In the documents, agents told the judge a controller for demolition company Steve Rauch Inc., which pleaded guilty last year to a charge of conspiracy to engage in mail fraud regarding subcontracting work, said in recorded phone calls with another company official that Whaley accepted cash bribes from Rauch on multiple occasions.
Ohio – Most Cleveland Mayoral Candidates Won’t Disavow ‘Dark Money’ Spending
MSN – Seth Richardson (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 9/8/2021
Outside money has taken hold in the Cleveland mayoral race. Its prevalence has intensified as early voting continues for the September 14 primary with what appears to be a competitive race between seven candidates to succeed retiring Mayor Frank Jackson. Many of the groups are independent expenditure committees, meaning they can raise and spend an unlimited amount of money. The committees will eventually have to disclose their donors, though there are ways of complicating those disclosures to shield donors’ identities. Only two candidate said they outright disavowed any outside spending.
Pennsylvania – ‘Unfortunate but Necessary’: Anthony Hamlet to resign as Pittsburgh Public Schools superintendent
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Andrew Goldstein | Published: 9/8/2021
Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Anthony Hamlet, who has faced increasing criticism in recent weeks, said he will resign effective in October. Hamlet has come under fire after the state Ethics Commission found he improperly received travel reimbursements, accepted payments for appearances related to his job, and incorrectly filed financial documents. He has defended his actions, arguing the report showed he was negligent but had no willful intent of wrongdoing. Robert Caruso, executive director of the Ethics Commission, noted Hamlet’s conduct over several years was “an egregious violation of the public trust.”
Rhode Island – Governor’s Former Chief of Staff Faces Fine Over Unregistered Construction Company
MSN – Edward Fitzpatrick (Boston Globe) | Published: 9/3/2021
Days after resigning as chief of staff to Gov. Dan McKee, Anthony Silva has been slapped with a $1,000 fine by the state’s Department of Business Regulation (DBR) for building a home on land in Cumberland without the required contractor registration. The DBR’s investigation was one of three into Silva’s activities during the time he was chief of staff, first in the lieutenant governor’s office ant then in the governor’s office.
South Carolina – SC Ethics Whistleblowers Are Bound by Gag Orders. A Lawsuit Will Challenge That.
Charleston Post and Courier – Avery Wilks | Published: 8/31/2021
In South Carolina, whistleblowers who want to file an ethics complaint against a public official are first sworn to secrecy. They cannot talk about their allegations until the State Ethics Commission has investigated the complaint and decided what to do. Breaking the seal of secrecy is a misdemeanor that carries a fine of $1,000 and up to a year in prison. Observers have long suspected the rules violate free-speech protections guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution. But now, a Columbia attorney is mounting a legal challenge to strike down the. gag orders for good.
Washington – Employees Who Blew Whistle on Seattle Mayor’s Missing Texts File Lawsuit Against the City
Seattle Times – Lewis Kamb and Daniel Beekman | Published: 9/3/2021
The city employees who blew the whistle about Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s missing text messages sued the city, alleging they were “constructively discharged” from their jobs in retaliation for their refusal to break the public records law. In May, a Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission investigation report revealed Durkan’s texts from late August 2019 to late June 2020 had not been retained. Several high-profile lawsuits that have been filed against the city focus on decisions the mayor and other officials made in June 2020, during racial-justice protests and unrest on Capitol Hill.
Wisconsin – US Senate Candidate from Wisconsin Charged with Campaign Finance Violations
Courthouse News Service – Joe Kelly | Published: 9/7/2021
Milwaukee Ald. Chantia Lewis, who is running for a U.S. Senate seat, was charged with felony campaign finance violations and other financial misconduct. A criminal complaint alleges Lewis filed false campaign finance reports with inaccurate information on her campaign account balances, contributions. and disbursements, deposited campaign donations to her personal bank accounts, structured a campaign contribution as to avoid limit requirements, and used campaign funds for personal expenses. An embezzlement charge carries the highest penalty, which includes up to a $25,000 fine and a maximum of 10 years in prison, or both.
September 9, 2021 •
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has announced a special election for House District 165 to coincide with the November 2 municipal elections. If needed, a runoff will be held on November 30. The House District 165 seat became vacant upon the […]
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has announced a special election for House District 165 to coincide with the November 2 municipal elections.
If needed, a runoff will be held on November 30.
The House District 165 seat became vacant upon the passing of Rep. Mickey Stephens in August, who had held the seat continuously since 2009.
September 9, 2021 •
Campaign Finance North Carolina: “NC Elections Board Fines Political Campaigns Combined $330K for Late or Missing Finance Reports” by Nate Morabido for WCNC Wisconsin: “US Senate Candidate from Wisconsin Charged with Campaign Finance Violations” by Joe Kelly for Courthouse News […]
North Carolina: “NC Elections Board Fines Political Campaigns Combined $330K for Late or Missing Finance Reports” by Nate Morabido for WCNC
Wisconsin: “US Senate Candidate from Wisconsin Charged with Campaign Finance Violations” by Joe Kelly for Courthouse News Service
National: “Fears of Critical Race Theory Unleash Army of School Board Candidates” by Daniel Payne (Politico) for Yahoo News
California: “Fears Rise Over Disinformation in California’s Recall Election” by Reid Wilson (The Hill) for MSN
National: “Encryption Poised to Hamper Jan. 6 Investigators’ Phone Records Push” by Nicholas Wu (Politico) for Yahoo News
National: “Ethics Panel Announces Four Investigations” by Chris Marquette (Roll Call) for MSN
New York: “Ethics Agency Subpoenaed in Investigation of Cuomo’s Book” by Chris Bragg (Albany Times Union) for Alton Telegraph
Ohio: “FBI Suspected Dayton Mayor Whaley of Bribery in 2014, Court Documents Show” by Jake Zuckerman (Ohio Capital Journal) for MSN
Montana: “Native Transgender Lobbyist Sues Conservative News Website for Libel” by Darrell Ehrlick (Montana Standard) for Missoula Current
New York: “Facebook Mum on Staffer Who May Have Broken Law Advising Cuomo on Sex Harass Claims” by Theo Wayt for New York Post
September 8, 2021 •
Maine Gov. Mills and Secretary of State Shenna Bellows announced a special election to be held on November 2 for House District 86. The seat became vacant when Rep. Justin Fecteau resigned in July to pursue an out-of-state career opportunity. […]
Maine Gov. Mills and Secretary of State Shenna Bellows announced a special election to be held on November 2 for House District 86.
The seat became vacant when Rep. Justin Fecteau resigned in July to pursue an out-of-state career opportunity.
The winner of the special election will serve the remainder of the two-year term that is set to expire December 6, 2022.
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