June 28, 2021 •
Campaign Finance Illinois: “Politics Isn’t Child’s Play, but New Campaign Finance Rule Hopes to Make It More Family Friendly” by Rachel Hinton for Chicago Sun-Times Maine: “Governor Mills Signs a Full Slate of Election, Campaign Finance Reforms into Law” by […]
Illinois: “Politics Isn’t Child’s Play, but New Campaign Finance Rule Hopes to Make It More Family Friendly” by Rachel Hinton for Chicago Sun-Times
Maine: “Governor Mills Signs a Full Slate of Election, Campaign Finance Reforms into Law” by Katherine Revelo for Maine Wire
National: “Inside the ‘Shadow Reality World’ Promoting the Lie That the Presidential Election Was Stolen” by Rosalind Helderman, Emma Brown, Tom Hamburger, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) for MSN
Georgia: “Biden Administration Sues Georgia Over Its GOP-Enacted Voter Restrictions” by Betsy Woodruff Swan, Zach Montellaro, and Josh Gerstein (Politico) for MSN
National: “They Seemed Like Democratic Activists. They Were Secretly Conservative Spies.” by Mark Mazzetti and Adam Goldman (New York Times) for Yahoo News
New Jersey: “Murphy Intends to Again Veto Mandatory Minimums Bill Over Weaker Penalties for Public Corruption, Officials Say” by Ted Sherman and Amanda Hoover (NJ Advance Media) for MSN
New York: “Giuliani’s N.Y. Law License Suspended in Connection with Efforts to Overturn 2020 Election” by Shayna Jacobs, Rosalind Helderman, and Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “DOJ-Ordered Foreign Agent Registrations Boost China and Russia’s 2020 FARA Spending” by Anna Massoglia and Maggie Hicks for Center for Responsive Politics
June 25, 2021 •
National/Federal A Family Affair: Children and other relatives of Biden aides get administration jobs MSN – Sean Sullivan and Michael Scherer (Washington Post) | Published: 6/17/2021 President Biden promised that no member of his family would be a part of his […]
A Family Affair: Children and other relatives of Biden aides get administration jobs
MSN – Sean Sullivan and Michael Scherer (Washington Post) | Published: 6/17/2021
President Biden promised that no member of his family would be a part of his administration. But that vow did not extend to his senior staff and their relatives. In the first few months of Biden’s presidency, at least five children of his top aides have secured jobs in the administration. The pattern has drawn concerns from ethics experts, diversity advocates, and others. They say it is disappointing that Biden did not shift even further from the practices of Donald Trump’s presidency, which they felt reeked of nepotism and cronyism.
Capitol Rioter Used Charity to Promote Violence, Feds Say
MSN – Michael Kunzelman (Associated Press) | Published: 6/17/2021
Alan Hostetter used his tax-exempt nonprofit as a platform to oppose COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, protest that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Trump, and advocate for violence against political opponents, according to a federal indictment. He is charged with conspiracy in the January 6 insurrection, and could be in violation of IRS rules governing nonprofits. The IRS prohibits charities like Hostetter’s from participating in any campaign activity for or against candidates. In his application for tax-exempt status, Hostetter said American Phoenix Project would not directly or indirectly engage in political campaigns.
Federal Judge Tosses Most Claims Against Trump, Barr and U.S. Officials in Clearing of Lafayette Square
MSN – Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 6/21/2021
U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich dismissed most claims filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of D.C. and others in lawsuits that accused the Trump administration of authorizing an unprovoked attack on demonstrators in Lafayette Square last year. The plaintiffs asserted the government used unnecessary force to enable a photo op of then-President Trump outside St John’s Church. But Friedrich called allegations that federal officials conspired to make way for the photo too speculative. The judge allowed litigation to go forward challenging restrictions on protests and other First Amendment activity at Lafayette Square.
Garland Tries to Untangle the Trump Legacy at the Justice Department
MSN – Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 6/21/2021
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland is facing criticism from some Democrats that he is not doing enough to quickly expunge Trump-era policies and practices. On issues ranging from leak investigations to civil and criminal cases involving former President Trump, Garland has been beset by a chorus of congressional second-guessers, even as he insists that he is adhering to the principles of equal justice under the law. How he charts his way through the politically sensitive cases is likely to determine how much of a long-term impact the Trump presidency has on the Justice Department.
How Democrats Are ‘Unilaterally Disarming’ in the Redistricting Wars
Politico – Ally Mutnick | Published: 6/21/2021
In key states over the past decade, Democrats have gained control of Legislatures and governorships that have long been in charge of drawing new election maps, only to cede that authority, often to independent commissions tasked with drawing political boundaries free of partisan interference. Supporters of these initiatives say it is good governance to bar politicians from drawing districts for themselves and their party. But exasperated Democrats counter that it left them hamstrung in the battle to hold the U.S. House by diluting or negating their ability to gerrymander in the way Republicans plan to do in many red states. With the House so closely divided, Democrats will need every advantage to cling to their majority in 2022.
In Sentencing Regretful Capitol Protester, Federal Judge Rebukes Republicans
MSN – Spencer Hsu and Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) | Published: 6/23/2021
U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth castigated Republican lawmakers for downplaying the violence of the mob that stormed the Capitol on January 6, saying in handing down the first sentence to a charged defendant that those who break the law must pay a penalty. Lamberth credited Anna Morgan-Lloyd for her early cooperation and admission of guilt, expressing frustration with both defendants and observers who argue the riot was merely a political protest. He sentenced her to three years of probation.
Investors Press Firms on Donations as Political Spending Jumps
MSN – Laura Weiss (Roll Call) | Published: 6/24/2021
Democratic state treasurers and social issue-focused investment funds are pressing 82 corporations to be transparent about donations to candidates and causes as contributions resume after a pause in the wake of the January 6 attack on the Capitol. More than 125 groups managing over $1.5 trillion in invested assets recently wrote to board members who oversee political spending at some of the largest public corporations. The letter asks companies to provide public disclosure of the amount and recipient of every election-related expenditure, including those made through PACs and third-party groups such as trade associations.
PAC Sues FEC for Dismissing Complaint Against Trump Campaign
Courthouse News Service – Samantha Hawkins | Published: 6/21/2021
A PAC filed a lawsuit against the FEC for dismissing its complaint alleging Donald Trump campaign coordinated with a super PAC that ended up raising $150 million during the 2020 election. End Citizens United says the Trump campaign solicited and directed donations to America First Action and allege the super PAC was the only outside, non-campaign group “approved” by Trump or the Republican National Committee to donate to. FEC regulations prohibit campaigns from soliciting contributions to super PACs without taking measures to ensure the donations comply with federal contribution limits.
Republican House Campaign Arm Says It Will Begin Soliciting Cryptocurrency Donations
MSN – Max Greenwood (The Hill) | Published: 6/17/2021
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) will begin soliciting cryptocurrency donations, making it the first national party committee to do so. It will process cryptocurrency contributions using the payment service BitPay. The procedure will allow the NRCC to effectively bypass the FEC’s $100 cap on transfers of cryptocurrency and accept donations of up to $10,000 per year from an individual.
Senate Republicans Block Debate on Elections Bill, Dealing Blow to Democrats’ Voting Rights Push
MSN – Mike DeBonis (Washington Post) | Published: 6/22/2021
Senate Republicans banded together to block a sweeping Democratic bill that would revamp the architecture of American democracy, dealing a grave blow to efforts to federally override dozens of GOP-passed state voting laws. Republicans have also taken aim at numerous other provisions in the Democratic legislation, including a proposal to publicly finance congressional campaigns, potential new disclosure requirements for political donors, and a realignment of the FEC meant to break partisan gridlock in enforcing election laws.
States Across the Country Are Dropping Barriers to Voting, Widening a Stark Geographic Divide in Ballot Access
MSN – Elise Viebeck (Washington Post) | Published: 6/23/2021
Newly enacted laws in more than half of the states expand access to the voting process on a number of fronts, such as offering additional early and mail voting options, protecting mail ballots from being improperly rejected, and making it easier to register to vote. The push to make voting easier comes as Republicans have embraced voting restrictions in GOP-controlled states. The overall result is a deepening divide in ballot access depending on where voters live, one shaped by how lawmakers have reacted to both the pandemic and former President Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was tainted by massive fraud.
Unmasking the Far Right: An extremist paid a price when his identity was exposed online after a violent clash in Washington
MSN – Robert Klemko (Washington Post) | Published: 6/20/2021
Journalist Laura Jedeed was filming a group of Trump supporters in the District of Columbia after the “Million MAGA March” last November when a man wearing an American flag mask approached her, stepped on her toes, and began yelling. “What’s up, you stupid b—-?” the man shouted as the mask slipped down. Jedeed uploaded video of the incident. The man in the mask was identified through social media and he lost his job. The disclosure online of Dawson’s personal information is part of an effort by left-wing activists to punish members of far-right groups accused of violent behavior by exposing them to their employers, family, and friends.
Whitehouse Bolsters Push to Shine Light on ‘Dark Money’ at Supreme Court
MSN – Todd Ruger (Roll Call) | Published: 6/23/2021
U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse has written reports and essays, introduced bills, filed briefs, gone on cable television, and made presentations at Supreme Court confirmation hearings. But he has not been as convincing as he hoped in his campaign to curb conservative anonymous donors and their influence on the high court, even as that “dark money” now floods in to support the judicial nomination process his party controls.
Canada – Jan Harder Resigns from Committee as Gloves Come Off at City Council
CBC – Joanne Chianello and Kate Porter | Published: 6/23/2021
Ottawa Councilor Jan Harder stepped down from her role as chair of the committee responsible for urban planning and development in the city, but that did not quell the acrimony surrounding the integrity commissioner’s report on her. The council was set to vote on sanctions recommended in a report by Integrity Commissioner Robert Marleau, which found Harder created a perceived conflict-of-interest by hiring registered lobbyist Jack Stirling and his daughter to work for her office, while Stirling represented private planning clients at City Hall and even personally represented them at the committee Harder chaired.
From the States and Municipalities
Alaska – APOC Fines Former GOP Alaska Rep. Pruitt for ‘Widespread, Serious’ Campaign Finance Violations
Alaska Public Media – Nathaniel Herz | Published: 6/23/2021
The Alaska Public Offices Commission imposed a $20,000 fine on former state Rep. Lance Pruitt, saying he broke multiple laws with vague and sloppy reporting, banned contributions, and late reimbursements to himself. Pruitt said his errors were unintentional. “In hindsight, I wish I would’ve hired someone to do my reports instead of trying to balance that and a campaign by myself,” Pruitt said.
Arizona – State Senate Wants to Investigate If Social Media Platforms Are Violating Campaign Finance Laws
Pinal Central – Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services) | Published: 6/23/2021
The Arizona Senate voted to spend $500,000 to investigate the practices of social media platforms and search engines to see if they are violating campaign finance laws. The Unreported In-Kind Political Contributions Task Force Fund is charged with investigating whether and to what extent the practices of social media platforms and internet search engines effectively become in-kind political contributions to a candidate, meaning the donation of some service with financial value,
California – Curb Nonprofit Donations? Republicans Running in Newsom Recall Say It Would Reduce Conflicts
MSN – Sophia Bollag (Sacramento Bee) | Published: 6/17/2021
About a dozen companies lobbying to influence state policy have given more than $800,000 to a nonprofit founded by First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsome. She has been paid more than $2.3 million by the nonprofit for her work leading the organization and creating documentary films. Now, two Republicans running to replace California Gov. Gavin Newsom are calling for new laws curbing such donations, arguing companies trying to influence state policy should not contribute to nonprofits that employ elected officials’ family members.
California – Elections Officials Alarmed by Democrats’Plans to Change Newsom Recall Rules
MSN – John Myers (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 6/17/2021
Elections officials across California said the proposed rules written by Democratic state lawmakers for the recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom could push the event’s cost far beyond the current estimate of $215 million, creating voter confusion and delaying the counting of ballots. Local officials began sounding the alarm soon after Democrats unveiled new legislation allowing the recall to be held as early as August 24. The proposal would shorten the timeline by up to two months by eliminating the existing requirement of a lengthy analysis of the election’s costs.
Florida – In Push Against ‘Indoctrination,’ DeSantis Mandates Surveys of Florida Students’ Beliefs
MSN – Caroline Anders (Washington Post) | Published: 6/24/2021
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says he is concerned about the free flow of ideas on campus and whether higher education stifles free speech from conservatives. Under a law that will take effect July 1, public universities must assess “viewpoint diversity” on campus each year through a survey from the State Board of Education. The law does not address penalties for schools where the survey finds low levels of “intellectual freedom” and “viewpoint diversity,” but DeSantis hinted at the potential for budget cuts at universities that do not pass muster. Public universities in the U.S. are already bound by the First Amendment and cannot discriminate against viewpoints.
Florida – In Secret Recording, Florida Republican Threatens to Send Russian-Ukrainian ‘Hit Squad’ After Rival
MSN – Marc Caputo (Politico) | Published: 6/17/2021
A little-known Republican candidate in one of Florida’s most competitive congressional seats was secretly recorded threatening to send “a Russian and Ukrainian hit squad” to a fellow GOP opponent to make her “disappear.” During a call with a conservative activist that was recorded before he became a candidate, William Braddock repeatedly warned the activist to not support Anna Paulina Luna in the Republican primary for a Tampa Bay-area congressional seat because he had access to assassins.
Florida – Top Florida Political Players Scrutinized in Artiles Case Ahead of August Trial
Miami Herald – Samantha Gross and Ana Ceballos | Published: 6/23/2021
A public corruption investigation that took root in a single Miami-Dade legislative race has roped in prominent players across Florida over the last several months, including a GOP-linked research firm, a top not-for-profit hospital network, and a veteran Republican operative who leads a Tallahassee-based political organization. A judge announced the trial would begin August 30. Records obtained by the Miami Herald show that since at least April, investigators have been issuing subpoenas to gather information from an array of people and organizations and financial records that go back several years.
Indiana – 2 More Plea Deals Reached in Muncie Corruption Case; Nichols Is Final Defendant
MSN – Douglas Walker (Muncie Star Press) | Published: 6/22/2021
Two more defendants facing criminal charges stemming from the federal investigation of corruption in former Muncie Mayor Dennis Tyler’s administration signed plea agreements. Only one of the nine defendants charged in the years-long corruption probe remains scheduled to stand trial on related charges. Plea agreements were entered in the cases of contractor Tony Franklin and businessperson Jeffrey Burke. Franklin is accused of conspiring to steer Muncie Sanitary District contracts to his business in exchange for “cash bribes and kickbacks.”
Louisiana – Louisiana Governor Agrees to Remove PAC Limits for Campaigns
MSN – Associated Press | Published: 6/22/2021
Candidates for office in Louisiana will soon be able to take unlimited sums directly from PACs under a bill signed into law by Gov. John Bel Edwards. The removal of limits on donations that come largely from special interest groups will take effect August 1. Edwards signed the legislation despite opposition from the state Board of Ethics.
Maine – Maine Campaign Finance Regulator Hides Public Meeting during Investigation of Anti-Corridor Group
Maine Public – Steve Mistler | Published: 6/18/2021
Maine’s ethics commission removed the video and livestream of a public proceeding after a commissioner mentioned the name of a person or business entity the campaign finance regulator is investigating. The unusual move came at the request of Stop the Corridor, a political group that opposes Central Maine Power’s controversial transmission project. The meeting was called because Stop the Corridor is protesting the commission’s subpoena for records. The majority of both meetings have been held in executive session, a closed-door proceeding the commission uses to discuss information that it has agreed to keep confidential in investigations.
Missouri – St. Louis Gun-Waving Couple Pleads Guilty to Misdemeanors
Politico – Associated Press | Published: 6/17/2021
A St. Louis couple who gained notoriety for pointing guns at social justice demonstrators last year pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges and agreed to give up the weapons they used during the confrontation. Patricia McCloskey pleaded guilty to misdemeanor harassment and was fined $2,000. Her husband, Mark McCloskey, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault and was fined $750. They claimed the protesters were trespassing and they feared for their safety. Mark McCloskey has announced he was running for a U.S. Senate seat in Missouri.
Montana – Lawmakers Abandon Investigative Subpoenas for Judges’ Records
Ravalli Republic – Seaborn Larson (Helena Independent Record) | Published: 6/22/2021
A legislative committee investigating the judicial branch withdrew its subpoenas for Montana Supreme Court records. There had been an escalating confrontation between Republican lawmakers and the judiciary over claims of improper use of state resources, lobbying efforts by judges, and failure to retain public records. The subpoenas were challenged in court as an overreach of the Legislature’s constitutional authority by Supreme Court Administrator Beth McLaughlin, whose own emails had been subpoenaed by the committee.
New Jersey – N.J. Wants to Protect Women on the Campaign Trail, but Sexual Harassment Bill Is Mired in Politics, Critics Say
MSN – Susan Livio and Kelly Heyboer (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 6/17/2021
A bill that would make New Jersey one of the first states in the nation to outlaw sexual harassment in political campaigns is back under consideration in Trenton three months after sponsors pulled it amid disagreements over what it should say. Advocates say the legislation is needed in state and local campaigns where sexual misconduct often goes unreported and there are no human resources departments for campaign workers and candidates to turn to if they are sexually harassed. The heart of the bill calls for spending $2 million to create the Office on Discrimination and Harassment Prevention inside the Election Law Enforcement Commission.
New York – Adams Leads in N.Y.C. Mayoral Primary, but Ranked-Choice Awaits
MSN – Katie Glueck (New York Times) | Published: 6/23/2021
Eric Adams, who ran for mayor of New York City on a message focused on issues of public safety, emerged with a substantial lead in the Democratic primary, but fell short of outright victory in a race that will now usher in a new period of uncertainty. Because Adams seemed unlikely to earn more than 50 percent of the vote, the contest will be decided under New York’s new ranked-choice voting system. It may take until mid-July before a Democratic primary victor, who would become an overwhelming favorite to win the general election, is officially declared.
New York – Councilman Defeats Indicted Rochester Mayor in Dem. Primary
Star Herald – Carolyn Thompson and Deepti Hajela (Associated Press) | Published: 6/22/2021
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, who ran for a third term while under indictment in a campaign finance case, was defeated in the Democratic primary by city Councilperson Malik Evans. There is no Republican challenger on the November ballot. Warren started to face calls for her resignation last summer amid protests over the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man who was pressed to the pavement by a group of police officers until he stopped breathing. In October, she was indicted on charges she schemed to evade campaign contribution limits. In May, Warren’s husband was charged with being part of a drug trafficking ring.
New York – India Walton, Self-Identified Socialist, Scores Upset Victory in Buffalo Mayoral Primary
MSN – David Weigel (Washington Post) | Published: 6/23/2021
Buffalo Democrats nominated a self-identified socialist as their candidate for mayor, as nurse and activist India Walton scored an upset victory over four-term incumbent Byron Brown in the June 22 primary. Republicans have not fielded a candidate for mayor and have not won City Hall in Buffalo since the 1960s, making the Democratic primary winner all but certain to take office in January. Walton identified as a socialist inside the Democratic Party, and she saw her campaign as a way to dispel worries about the label and its ideological goals.
New York – Trump and His CFO Allen Weisselberg Stay Close as Prosecutors Advance Their Case
MSN – Jonathan O’Connell, Shayna Jacobs, David Fahrenthold, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 6/21/2021
As chief financial officer at Donald Trump’s private company, Allen Weisselberg is a key figure in prosecutors’ efforts to indict the former president, legal experts say. His central role in nearly every aspect of Trump’s business afforded him a singular view of the Trump Organization’s tax liabilities and finances. Although that role allowed him to stay behind the scenes, it may place him front and center in what would be an unprecedented prosecution of a former president. Officials involved in the Weisselberg investigation have grown frustrated about what they view as a lack of cooperation from him and believe he continues to regularly speak with Trump.
North Carolina – McCrae Dowless Pleads Guilty to Financial Crimes Related to 2018 Election Fraud Scandal
MSN – Will Doran (Raleigh News and Observer) | Published: 6/21/2021
McCrae Dowless pleaded guilty in federal court to two crimes stemming from the investigation into the absentee ballot fraud scheme he is accused of running in North Carolina. He pleaded guilty to two of the four charges he faced related to Social Security disability fraud. There is a separate state-level court case dealing with the election fraud accusations. The disability fraud charges came as part of an investigation into Dowless for allegedly running an absentee ballot scheme in which he and some assistants would collect people’s ballots and, in some cases, fraudulently sign them or even fill in votes for races that the voters had left blank, officials say.
Ohio – Ohio House Panel Advances Bill Allowing Officials Accused of Corruption to Choose Where Their Trial Is Held
MSN – Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 6/22/2021
Republican-backed legislation to allow Ohio politicians accused of corruption to be tried in their home counties rather than Columbus cleared the House Civil Justice Committee. House Bill 286 would remove the Franklin County prosecutor’s exclusive authority to try state public corruption cases. The measure comes just months after a Democrat was elected to the position for the first time in nearly 60 years. The vote was held days after the House expelled former Speaker Larry Householder, who is facing a federal charge of overseeing a $60 million bribery scheme to pass legislation.
Ohio – Ohio Lobbyists Get Keycard Access to Capitol, State Buildings
Ohio Capital Journal – Jake Zuckerman | Published: 6/24/2021
The Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board allows access cards to be issued to registered lobbyists, elected officials, legislative staff, and certain journalists, among others in Ohio. The cards enable someone to skip security lines at government buildings, access elevator bays, and enter the statehouse after hours. For lobbyists, facetime with policymakers is easier to come by in the public spaces than calling and setting a meeting. Other states have different approaches in giving lobbyists access.
Oregon – Lobbying Group Mike Nearman Invited into Oregon Capitol Eluded Disclosing Funding Sources for Years
MSN – Hillary Borrud (Portland Oregonian) | Published: 6/21/2021
Members of the Oregon Citizens Lobby were instructed on how enter the closed Capitol by state Rep. Mike Nearman, who was expelled from office for his actions that day. The group has generated a steady stream of lobbying-related training events and alerts over the last 10 years. It rallies its volunteers to press legislators to support or oppose bills. But Oregon Citizens Lobby has never registered to lobby, despite a state requirement for any entity that spends more than $100 on lobbying in any three-month period to disclose its total spending.
Pennsylvania – The Philly Ethics Board Fines PAC Formed by Retired Cops That Spent Big Against Krasner
WHYY – Ryan Briggs | Published: 6/17/2021
A PAC founded by former law enforcement officers, which backed Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner’s opponent in the May Primary, was fined for violating the city’s campaign finance law. Protect Our Police PAC, which poured money into Krasner challenger Carlos Vega’s campaign, missed filing deadlines on seven campaign finance reports and will pay a $12,000 fine. The city’s law requires PACs to disclose revenues, debts, and expenditures that influence the outcome of an election.
Rhode Island – Sen. Whitehouse, Under Scrutiny for Family Ties to Exclusive Beach Club, Says It Has Non-White Members
MSN – Colby Itkowitz (Washington Post) | Published: 6/23/2021
U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, who has come under scrutiny over his family’s ties to an exclusive beach club, said he checked and there is a “diversity in membership” with non-White members. Still, Whitehouse said, the attention to the issue made him reevaluate his other affiliations, and he found that a sailing club in Newport, Rhode Island, that he belongs to, which he did not name, is not diverse.
South Carolina – Uncovered: Some S.C. public officials got caught doing the wrong thing – with little or no consequences
Times and Democrat – Tony Bartelme (Charleston Post and Courier) | Published: 6/23/2021
An investigation by The Charleston Post and Courier found more than 1,100 educators, law enforcement officers, judges, and state employees in South Carolina violated ethics rules since 2018. These cases represent a gray zone of ethical breaches, cases that often do not make headlines. They can be found in the files of South Carolina’s many self-policing boards and panels, agencies such as the state Criminal Justice Academy, Department of Education, and Ethics Commission.
Washington DC – At Senate Committee, D.C. Statehood Is Debated Anew
MSN – Meagan Flynn (Washington Post) | Published: 6/22/2021
Proponents of statehood for the District of Columbia sought to counter arguments the idea is unconstitutional, urging a U.S. Senate committee to fulfill America’s founding principle of no taxation without representation in the nation’s capital. It was the first Senate committee hearing on statehood since 2014. The committee did not bring up the bill for a vote that year, but advocates are optimistic it may get one this year, even as the bill’s prospects are low in the full Senate.
Wisconsin – GOP Redistricting Put Fitzgerald Brothers – Who Live 13 Miles Apart – in Different Congressional Districts
La Crosse Tribune – Peter Cameron (The Badger Project) | Published: 6/20/2021
When Republican map-drawing in 2011 cemented the party’s dominance in the Wisconsin Legislature for the following decade, it also did something a bit more personal. Despite living very close to one another, the homes of Scott Fitzgerald, then the state Senate majority leader, and his younger brother Jeff Fitzgerald, then the Assembly speaker, were split from the same congressional district into separate ones. This allowed both to potentially serve in Congress without having to run against each other.
June 24, 2021 •
Campaign Finance National: “PAC Sues FEC for Dismissing Complaint Against Trump Campaign” by Samantha Hawkins for Courthouse News Service National: “Whitehouse Bolsters Push to Shine Light on ‘Dark Money’ at Supreme Court” by Todd Ruger (Roll Call) for MSN Alaska: […]
National: “PAC Sues FEC for Dismissing Complaint Against Trump Campaign” by Samantha Hawkins for Courthouse News Service
National: “Whitehouse Bolsters Push to Shine Light on ‘Dark Money’ at Supreme Court” by Todd Ruger (Roll Call) for MSN
Alaska: “APOC Fines Former GOP Alaska Rep. Pruitt for ‘Widespread, Serious’ Campaign Finance Violations” by Nathaniel Herz for Alaska Public Media
Arizona: “State Senate Wants to Investigate If Social Media Platforms Are Violating Campaign Finance Laws” by Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services) for Pinal Central
National: “States Across the Country Are Dropping Barriers to Voting, Widening a Stark Geographic Divide in Ballot Access” by Elise Viebeck (Washington Post) for MSN
Florida: “Top Florida Political Players Scrutinized in Artiles Case Ahead of August Trial” by Samantha Gross and Ana Ceballos for Miami Herald
New York: “Councilman Defeats Indicted Rochester Mayor in Dem. Primary” by Carolyn Thompson and Deepti Hajela (Associated Press) for Star Herald
Indiana: “2 More Plea Deals Reached in Muncie Corruption Case; Nichols Is Final Defendant” by Douglas Walker (Muncie Star Press) for MSN
Ohio: “Ohio Lobbyists Get Keycard Access to Capitol, State Buildings” by Jake Zuckerman for Ohio Capital Journal
June 23, 2021 •
Campaign Finance Louisiana: “Louisiana Governor Agrees to Remove PAC Limits for Campaigns” by Associated Press for MSN Elections National: “Senate Republicans Block Debate on Elections Bill, Dealing Blow to Democrats’ Voting Rights Push” by Mike DeBonis (Washington Post) for MSN […]
Louisiana: “Louisiana Governor Agrees to Remove PAC Limits for Campaigns” by Associated Press for MSN
National: “Senate Republicans Block Debate on Elections Bill, Dealing Blow to Democrats’ Voting Rights Push” by Mike DeBonis (Washington Post) for MSN
New York: “Adams Leads in N.Y.C. Mayoral Primary, but Ranked-Choice Awaits” by Katie Glueck (New York Times) for MSN
National: “Federal Judge Tosses Most Claims Against Trump, Barr and U.S. Officials in Clearing of Lafayette Square” by Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) for MSN
North Carolina: “McCrae Dowless Pleads Guilty to Financial Crimes Related to 2018 Election Fraud Scandal” by Will Doran (Raleigh News and Observer) for MSN
Rhode Island: “Sen. Whitehouse Defends Family’s Membership in Private Beach Club Amid Questions About Whether It Is All-White” by Felicia Sonmez (Washington Post) for MSN
Washington DC: “At Senate Committee, D.C. Statehood Is Debated Anew” by Meagan Flynn (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “How Democrats Are ‘Unilaterally Disarming’ in the Redistricting Wars” by Ally Mutnick for Politico
June 22, 2021 •
Campaign Finance Maine: “Maine Campaign Finance Regulator Hides Public Meeting during Investigation of Anti-Corridor Group” by Steve Mistler for Maine Public Elections National: “How Republican States Are Expanding Their Power Over Elections” by Nick Corasaniti and Reid Epstein (New York […]
Maine: “Maine Campaign Finance Regulator Hides Public Meeting during Investigation of Anti-Corridor Group” by Steve Mistler for Maine Public
National: “How Republican States Are Expanding Their Power Over Elections” by Nick Corasaniti and Reid Epstein (New York Times) for MSN
National: “Unmasking the Far Right: An extremist paid a price when his identity was exposed online after a violent clash in Washington” by Robert Klemko (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Garland Tries to Untangle the Trump Legacy at the Justice Department” by Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “Curb Nonprofit Donations? Republicans Running in Newsom Recall Say It Would Reduce Conflicts” by Sophia Bollag (Sacramento Bee) for MSN
New York: “Trump and His CFO Allen Weisselberg Stay Close as Prosecutors Advance Their Case” by Jonathan O’Connell, Shayna Jacobs, David Fahrenthold, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) for MSN
Oregon: “Lobbying Group Mike Nearman Invited into Oregon Capitol Eluded Disclosing Funding Sources for Years” by Hillary Borrud (Portland Oregonian) for MSN
Wisconsin: “GOP Redistricting Put Fitzgerald Brothers – Who Live 13 Miles Apart – in Different Congressional Districts” by Peter Cameron (The Badger Project) for La Crosse Tribune
June 21, 2021 •
Campaign Finance National: “Capitol Rioter Used Charity to Promote Violence, Feds Say” by Michael Kunzelman (Associated Press) for MSN National: “Republican House Campaign Arm Says It Will Begin Soliciting Cryptocurrency Donations” by Max Greenwood (The Hill) for MSN Pennsylvania: “The […]
National: “Capitol Rioter Used Charity to Promote Violence, Feds Say” by Michael Kunzelman (Associated Press) for MSN
National: “Republican House Campaign Arm Says It Will Begin Soliciting Cryptocurrency Donations” by Max Greenwood (The Hill) for MSN
Pennsylvania: “The Philly Ethics Board Fines PAC Formed by Retired Cops That Spent Big Against Krasner” by Ryan Briggs for WHYY
California: “Elections Officials Alarmed by Democrats’ Plans to Change Newsom Recall Rules” by John Myers (Los Angeles Times) for MSN
Florida: “In Secret Recording, Florida Republican Threatens to Send Russian-Ukrainian ‘Hit Squad’ After Rival” by Marc Caputo (Politico) for MSN
National: “A Family Affair: Children and other relatives of Biden aides get administration jobs” by Sean Sullivan and Michael Scherer (Washington Post) for MSN
Missouri: “St. Louis Gun-Waving Couple Pleads Guilty to Misdemeanors” by Associated Press for Politico
New Jersey: “N.J. Wants to Protect Women on the Campaign Trail, but Sexual Harassment Bill Is Mired in Politics, Critics Say” by Susan Livio and Kelly Heyboer (NJ Advance Media) for MSN
June 18, 2021 •
National/Federal Biden’s Vow to Limit Ethics Conflicts Finds a Test Case: The Ricchetti brothers MSN – Michael Scherer and Sean Sullivan (Washington Post) | Published: 6/14/2021 President Biden vowed to ban his own family from involvement in government, disclose records of […]
Biden’s Vow to Limit Ethics Conflicts Finds a Test Case: The Ricchetti brothers
MSN – Michael Scherer and Sean Sullivan (Washington Post) | Published: 6/14/2021
President Biden vowed to ban his own family from involvement in government, disclose records of White House visitors, and support new legislation that would expand the definition of lobbying and mandate more detailed disclosure of contacts with White House officials. The White House has chastised Biden’s brother for evoking his relationship to the president in an ad for his law firm. But when it comes to dealing with the family and former employer relationships of senior staff, some of whom have close relatives or former bosses who work in the private sector on public policy issues, the White House has largely reverted to existing precedent.
Earmark Return Boosts Lobbyists Hired to Give Localities an Edge
Bloomberg Government – Megan Wilson and Jack Fitzpatrick | Published: 6/17/2021
Van Scoyoc Associates, the lobbying firm that once reigned as a leader in nabbing local earmarks, was eager to get back into the game this year when Congress revived the practice of designating funding for lawmaker projects. When the House released its latest round of spending requests, the firm was among the leaders on K Street in clinching projects. Lobbying firms such as Van Scoyoc are pitching their expertise in securing money for municipalities and nonprofit groups around the country that seek help navigating the time-consuming appropriations process on Capitol Hill.
Emails Show Trump Pressured Justice Dept. Over 2020 Election
MSN – Michael Balsamo and Colleen Long (Associated Press) | Published: 6/15/2021
During the last weeks of his presidency, Donald Trump and his allies pressured the Justice Department to investigate unsubstantiated claims of widespread 2020 election fraud that even his former attorney general declared without evidence, emails show. The emails reveal in new detail how Trump, his White House chief of staff, and other allies pressured members of the U.S. government to challenge the 2020 election over false claims. They also show the extent to which Trump worked to enlist then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen in his campaign’s failing legal efforts to challenge the election result.
Exodus of Election Officials Raises Concerns of Partisanship
MSN – Anthony Izaguirre (Associated Press) | Published: 6/13/2021
After facing threats and intimidation during the 2020 presidential election and its aftermath, and now the potential of new punishments in certain states, county officials who run elections are quitting or retiring early. The once quiet job of election administration has become a political minefield thanks to the baseless claims of widespread fraud that continue to be pushed by many in the Republican Party. The exits raise the question of who will take these jobs.
F.E.C. Dismisses Case Against Democrats Over Outreach to Ukraine
New York Times – Kenneth Vogel | Published: 6/16/2021
The FEC dismissed a complaint by an ally of former President Trump accusing the Democratic Party and one of its former consultants of violating campaign finance laws by working with Ukraine to help Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign by damaging Trump’s. An unusual bipartisan combination of members of the commission voted against pursuing the complaint. It claimed the Democratic National Committee and a consultant who had worked for it violated a prohibition on foreign donations by soliciting damaging information and statements from Ukrainian government officials about Paul Manafort, who was Trump’s campaign chairperson at the time.
G.O.P. Bills Rattle Disabled Voters: ‘We don’t have a voice anymore’
New York Times – Maggie Astor | Published: 6/14/2021
A series of Republican bills to restrict voting access across the country would disproportionately affect people with disabilities. For years, advocates have worked to mobilize Americans with disabilities, more than 38 million of whom are eligible to vote, into a voting bloc powerful enough to demand politicians address their needs. Now, after an election in which mail-in voting helped them turn out in large numbers, the restrictive proposals are simultaneously threatening their rights and testing their nascent political influence.
Garland Announces Expansion of Justice Department’s Voting Rights Unit, Vowing to Scrutinize GOP-Backed Voting Restrictions and Ballot Reviews
MSN – Amy Gardner and Sean Sullivan (Washington Post) | Published: 6/11/2021
Attorney General Merrick Garland pledged to double the size of the Justice Department’s voting rights enforcement staff to combat efforts to restrict ballot access and prosecute those who threaten or harm election workers. Garland said the additional trial attorneys will scrutinize new laws and existing practices across the nation for potential discrimination against Americans of color, including in new measures Republican state lawmakers are pushing. The expanded unit will also monitor the growing number of post-election ballot reviews being called for by supporters of former President Trump.
‘It Was Exhaustion, It Was Sadness, It Was Fatigue’: America’s mayors call it quits
Politico – Lisa Kashinsky | Published: 6/16/2021
Mayors across the country are calling it quits after an exhausting year navigating the front lines of an unprecedented confluence of crises that touched nearly every aspect of human life. Mayors in cities big and small, urban and rural, are giving up for now on their political careers. In the process, they’ are shaking up the municipal landscape, creating a brain drain in City Halls and upsetting the political pipeline all over America. Covid-19 changed the calculus for mayors mulling reelection, but the public health crisis was only a fraction of a larger equation.
Justice Dept. Drops John Bolton Book Lawsuit, Won’t Charge the Ex-Security Aide Who Became Trump’s Scathing Critic
MSN – Spencer Hsu and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 6/16/2021
The Justice Department abandoned its effort to claw back profits of a book by former Trump national security adviser John Bolton and closed a grand jury investigation into whether he criminally mishandled classified information without charging him. Bolton’s attorney called the dismissal a complete vindication for the diplomat, repudiating what Bolton said was the Trump White House’s politically motivated attempt to stifle the pre-election publication of his critical memoir before the 2020 presidential election, using security as a pretext.
Manchin Outlines Demands on Voting Legislation, Creating an Opening for Potential Democratic Compromise
MSN – Matt Zapotosky and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) | Published: 6/16/2021
Joe Manchin, the lone Senate Democrat who is not sponsoring a sweeping voting rights and campaign finance bill, outlined for the first time a list of policy demands on election legislation – opening the door to a possible compromise that could counter a bevy of Republican-passed laws that have rolled back ballot access in numerous states. Manchin is willing to support key provisions of the For the People Act, including mandating at least two weeks of early voting and measures meant to eliminate partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts. But he also supported several provisions that have historically been opposed by most Democrats.
McGahn Elaborates on Mueller Testimony, but Stops Short of Condemning Trump in Interview with Congress
MSN – Karoun Demirjian, Rosalind Helderman, Tom Hamburger, and Felicia Sonmez (Washington Post) | Published: 6/9/2021
Former White House counsel Donald McGahn told lawmakers he was seeking to avoid “a chain reaction that would be not in anyone’s interest” when he ignored then-President Trump’s direction to fire the special counsel investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, according to a transcript of his closed-door testimony. The exchange came after a two-year court battle for McGahn’s testimony. His appearance on Capitol Hill was the product of a deal between lawmakers and the Biden administration that ended any further appeals.
Trump’s FDA Commissioner Takes Job at Moderna Backer
MSN – Dan Diamond (Washington Post) | Published: 6/14/2021
Former FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn is joining the venture capital firm that launched Moderna and remains closely tied to the coronavirus vaccine maker. Hahn headed the FDA when it authorized Moderna’s vaccine last year before stepping down at the end of the Trump administration. The move is the latest by a federal official to a company that is regulated by the government or that might profit from firms regulated by the government, what critics call a “revolving door” they say undermines trust in federal decisions.
Trump’s Justice Department Secretly Sought Data from Apple on Former White House Counsel McGahn
MSN – Matt Zapotosky and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) | Published: 6/13/2021
The tech company Apple recently notified former White House counsel Donald McGahn and his wife that the Justice Department had secretly requested their information in 2018. Seizing a White House counsel’s data is striking. The latest development comes amid criticism of the Trump-era leak investigations involving members of Congress and journalists at several news organizations. Meanwhile, Republicans have questioned the seizure of records of Rudolph Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, and another lawyer, Victoria Toensing.
Canada – Ethics Committee Calls for Sweeping Reforms in Wake of WE Charity Scandal
CBC – Elizabeth Thompson | Published: 6/10/2021
A House of Commons committee is proposing a sweeping series of reforms to the way the federal government in Canada makes decisions on contracts after releasing a report on the WE Charity scandal. Among the nearly two dozen recommendations, the committee recommends the government no longer award contracts to shell companies that lack assets to avoid liability. The committee said it also wants to see changes in rules put in place to prevent conflicts-of-interest on the part of cabinet ministers. It also says that public office holders should be accompanied by staff to take notes when they meet lobbyists.
Canada – Lobbyists Slipping Through Cracks of Lobbying Act: Commissioner
iPolitics – Aiden Chamandy | Published: 6/15/2021
The latest high-profile investigation to reveal shortcomings in Canada’s lobbying demonstrates the legislation still needs a parliamentary review, Lobbying Commissioner Nancy Bélanger said. Rob Silver, husband of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s chief of staff, Katie Telford, has had contact with officials handling the federal wage subsidy and rent-relief programs. Bélanger said she suspects lobbying occurred that does not meet the threshold to register in Silver’s case, but she has no data to support the claim, because it is not collected in the federal lobbying registry.
From the States and Municipalities
Alaska – Records Show Little Email Contact Between Gov. Dunleavy’s Former Aide and Oil Company That Hired Him
KTOO – Nathaniel Herz (Alaska Public Media) | Published: 6/14/2021
Ben Stevens, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s former chief of staff, had minimal email contact with officials from ConocoPhillips before he left his state post to take an executive job at the and gas company, according to his correspondence. Interest groups and some lawmakers have been scrutinizing Stevens’ move from state service to the private sector, saying the quick transition raises questions about whether Stevens is complying with state ethics laws.
California – San Diego Website Meltdown Preceded by Vendor Spat, Email Shows
San Diego Reader – Matt Potter | Published: 6/14/2021
The intrigue surrounding the city of San Diego’s abrupt switch to a new campaign finance disclosure website has deepened with the partial rejection by city officials of a request for public records that might shed further light on the controversial matter. The bumpy changeover of the site’s operator, from the veteran contractor Netfile to a new vendor calling itself Pasadena Consulting, was undertaken two months ago by the city clerk’s office without public announcement or official word to the site’s operator or official word to the media.
Colorado – Colorado Supreme Court Beats Back State Politicians’ Redistricting Efforts
Denver Gazette – Evan Wyloge | Published: 6/1/2021
Colorado’s independent redistricting commissions are independent from the state’s political class and their desires, the state Supreme Court ruled in rebuffing lawmakers, the governor, secretary of state, and attorney general. The Colorado Supreme Court said legislation that would change this year’s redistricting process amounts to an unconstitutional infringement on the redistricting commissions’ authority to determine how to go about their once-in-a-decade work of redrawing the state’s political maps.
Connecticut – Lawyer Says ‘No Quid Pro Quo’ in Provision Struck from Connecticut Marijuana Bill That Favored One Producer
Hartford Courant – Mark Pazniokas (Connecticut Mirror) | Published: 6/14/2021
Investor J.D. DeMatteo’s interest in getting one of the first licenses to produce marijuana for Connecticut’s recreational market coincided with state Sen. Doug McCrory’s desire to open the industry to “social equity” applicants from poor and urban neighborhoods. McCrory insisted on a provision in the cannabis legalization bill that was intended to allow DeMatteo to jump to the head of the line for a cultivation license if he took on a social equity partner. Whether the provision was the result of altruism, opportunism, or a bit of both, it became an example of the ad hoc nature of legislative negotiations over how to dole out access to a lucrative new market.
Florida – Miami Beach Rep. Michael Grieco Ordered to Pay $1,000 After Probe of Ethics Lapses
MSN – Christina Sant Louis (Miami Herald) | Published: 6/12/2021
The Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics & Public Trust issued a “letter of instruction” rebuking state Rep. Michael Grieco for twice violating the Citizens’ Bill of Rights during his term as a Miami Beach commissioner. The commission found Grieco falsely portrayed his involvement with the People for Better Leaders PAC. It ordered him to pay $1,000 to cover costs. A third allegation that Grieco indirectly solicited a contribution from a city vendor was dismissed.
Hawaii – Emails Show HART Leaders Always Wanted to Hire Hanabusa as Consultant
Honolulu Civil Beat – Marcel Honore and Nick Grube | Published: 6/15/2021
Before a lucrative rail consulting gig went out for public bid, top officials at the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) were determined to award that contract to the board’s former chairperson, Colleen Hanabusa, internal records show. HART Board Chairman Toby Martyn declared in December he wanted to hire Hanabusa as a lobbyist who could help with its budget problems and would report directly to the board she used to lead. Martyn also discussed the contract with Hanabusa 10 days before the solicitation was released publicly. HART leaders say there were no procurement violations, but they are still checking whether the process violated city ethics policies.
Maine – Maine Ethics Panel Votes to Pursue Records from Power Line Opponents
Portland Press Herald – Scott Thistle | Published: 6/11/2021
Maine’s campaign finance watchdog agency voted to continue efforts to determine whether a limited liability corporation working to block a controversial transmission line project should have registered as a PAC or a ballot question committee. The Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices also agreed to pursue a subpoena for financial information from an unidentified political consultant who has worked with Stop the Corridor to stop the New England Clean Energy Connect project. The project will be the subject of a statewide ballot question in November.
Massachusetts – Judge Rejects Plea Deal in Corruption Case of Former Correia Chief of Staff
WPRI – Shaun Towne and Steph Machado | Published: 6/10/2021
A federal judge rejected a plea deal Genoveva Andrade made with prosecutors in a public corruption case that would have spared her jail time. The unusual decision means Andrade, who was chief of staff to former Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia, remains charged with six crimes. She could potentially go to trial or plead guilty again under a new agreement with the prosecution. Andrade pleaded guilty to helping Correia in his scheme to shake down marijuana vendors for bribes in exchange for his approval of their proposed cannabis shops.
Massachusetts – Mass. Republican Party Explored Whether It Can Use Its Own Money to Pay for a Candidate’s Legal Fees
MSN – Matt Stout (Boston Globe) | Published: 6/13/2021
The Massachusetts Republican Party, which has struggled to raise money in recent years, asked state campaign finance regulators if it could tap its own legal defense fund to pay costs for a candidate who is facing “legal actions initiated by a state administrative or law enforcement agency.” GOP Chairperson Jim Lyons, state Sen. Ryan Fattman, and Stephanie Fattman, the Worcester County Register of Probate and Ryan Fattman’s wife, were each referred to Attorney General Maura Healey’s office in April by the state campaign finance office, which said it had evidence they and others may have violated various campaign finance laws last year.
Mississippi – Lt. Gov. Hosemann’s Inaugural Nonprofit Got $368k in Secret Donations, Filings Show
Mississippi Daily Journal – Luke Ramseth | Published: 6/10/2021
A nonprofit created to fund Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann’s inauguration raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in secret donations, with some gifts as large as $20,000, recent tax filings show. The organization, Advance Mississippi 2020, raised the money to pay for inauguration events early last year including a gala and prayer breakfast. The group was dissolved later in 2020 with the leftover money given to several charities. The documents are the latest example of how Mississippi politicians can use nonprofits to sidestep the usual restrictions and transparency required by campaign finance laws.
Nebraska – Donor to Nebraska Anti-Gambling Campaign Will Pay Record-Breaking Late Filing Fee
Omaha World-Herald – Martha Stoddard | Published: 6/11/2021
An Ohio-based group that spent more than $2.3 million to fight Nebraska’s casino gambling measures last fall will pay a record-breaking fine for missing a campaign finance report deadline. The Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission voted to grant a request for relief from Collective Prosperity. They reduced the fee to $23,130, down from the original $231,300 that was determined by a formula in state law. The law requires corporations, unions, trade groups, or professional associations based outside of Nebraska to file contribution reports if they give more than $10,000 a year to a Nebraska campaign.
New York – Cuomo’s Inner Circle Raised Money for Aide Who Was Convicted of Bribery
New York Times – Brian Rosenthal and J. David Goodman | Published: 6/15/2021
After one of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s most trusted aides and closest friends, Joseph Percoco, was convicted of accepting more than $300,000 in bribes from executives with business before the state, the governor quickly distanced himself. Privately, however, members of Cuomo’s inner circle, including one of his sisters, have for years been raising money for Percoco. As recently as last year, the group was helping to fund Percoco’s appeal of his conviction, after some of its members also helped finance a trust fund for his children.
New York – Longtime Assembly Aide Approved as New York’s Election Watchdog
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 6/14/2021
Michael Johnson a former New York Assembly aide, was chosen as the state Board of Elections chief enforcement counsel, replacing Risa Sugarman. When the enforcement counsel position was created in March 2014, it was touted as a major reform. During her six-year tenure, Sugarman angered a wide swath of the Legislature with investigations and lawsuits. She fined major labor unions that were allies of Assembly Democrats. In the Senate, the list of targets included all three factions of the chamber: Democrats, Republicans, and the now-defunct Independent Democratic Conference.
North Dakota – North Dakota Paid Its Top Investment Management Firm Millions Without Competitive Bidding Process
The Forum – Patrick Springer | Published: 6/15/2021
The state of North Dakota has paid its top investment consultant $12.9 million over the past 20 years without subjecting the firm to a competitive bidding process, an arrangement allowed by state law. The North Dakota State Investment Board has relied on investment consultant Callan for more than three decades to help select investment managers to steer the state’s $19.4 billion investment portfolio. Callan has a unique role in recommending other investment firms and working with the state on its overall investment strategies.
Ohio – Ally of Suspended Cleveland City Councilman Kenneth Johnson Pleads Guilty to Corruption Charges
MSN – John Caniglia (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 6/10/2021
A second ally of suspended Cleveland City Councilperson Kenneth Johnson admitted to charges involving the federal corruption investigation of Johnson. John Hopkins, the former executive director of the Buckeye-Shaker Square Development Corp., pleaded guilty to conspiracy and theft from a federal program. Johnson’s friend, Robert Fitzpatrick, pleaded to conspiracy involving fraudulent expense reports the council member filed with the city. A federal grand jury indicted Johnson, Hopkins, and Johnson’s longtime aide, Garnell Jamison. Prosecutors said Johnson stole more than $127,000 from city coffers by submitting false monthly expense reports.
Ohio – Larry Householder Out: Ohio House votes to remove former speaker
MSN – Jessie Balmert, Laura Bischoff, and Anna Staver (Cincinnati Enquirer) | Published: 6/16/2021
State Rep. Larry Householder, a former two-time House speaker, was expelled from the Ohio Legislature nearly 11 months after his arrest on a federal corruption charge. House members utilized a little-used provision in the Ohio Constitution that allows lawmakers to police their own for “disorderly conduct.” Householder was arrested last year in connection with the state’s largest bribery scheme. He is accused of orchestrating a nearly $61 million operation to win control of the Ohio House, pass a $1 billion bailout for two nuclear plants, and defend that law against a ballot initiative to block it.
Oregon – ‘Only Reasonable Course of Action’: Oregon GOP legislator ousted over state Capitol breach
USA Today – Connor Radnovich (Salem Statesman Journal) | Published: 6/11/2021
The Oregon House expelled Rep. Mike Nearman, who let violent, far-right protesters into the state Capitol on December 21. The vote marked the first time a member has been expelled by the House in its 160-year history. The only vote against the resolution was Nearman’s own. He said he let the protesters in because he believes the Capitol, which has been closed to the public to protect against spread of the coronavirus, should have been open. Nearman also faces two misdemeanor charges stemming from the incident.
Pennsylvania – Pittsburgh Poised for History-Making Election of Its First Black Mayor This Fall
MSN – Nick Keppler (Washington Post) | Published: 6/16/2021
More than five decades after Cleveland became the first, followed by virtually every other major city in the Midwest and Northeast, Pittsburgh is finally poised to join their ranks and make history this fall by electing a Black mayor. The all-but-certain victory of state Rep. Ed Gainey comes as the former steel town, these days dubbed one of America’s most livable cities, looks hard at the racial inequities that have meant different experiences and opportunities for African American residents. Gainey is the first candidate to defeat a sitting mayor in nearly 90 years.
Rhode Island – Former RI State Rep-Elect Pleads Guilty to Embezzling from Nonprofit
MSN – Providence Journal Staff | Published: 6/16/2021
A man who won a seat in the Rhode Island House but resigned before being sworn pleaded guilty to felony embezzlement and campaign finance charges. The court gave Laufton Ascencao a five-year suspended sentence with probation, imposed a $1,000 fine, and ordered restitution of $13,387.70 to the Rhode Island Chapter of the Sierra Club. Allegations of financial impropriety surfaced shortly after his election, including the charge that he used money from the Rhode Island Sierra Club to help finance his campaign.
South Carolina – SC House Reveals New List of $90M in Taxpayer Funds for Lawmakers’ Pet Projects
MSN – Andrew Caplan (The State) | Published: 6/13/2021
The South Carolina House released its list of nearly $90 million in earmarks members want in the upcoming budget that takes effect July 1. But the list falls short of the level of transparency and accountability that most lawmakers said they favored when polled by reporters. The new list also reveals some lawmakers are sponsoring earmarks that, in previous years, other legislators took heat for sponsoring because of potential conflicts-of-interest. Some watchdogs wonder if these lawmakers are trying to head off additional criticism by convincing their colleagues to sponsor the questionable earmarks on their behalf.
Tennessee – Closed Cold Case Murder Tied to Ousted Tennessee Governor
ABC News – Kimberly Kruesi (Associated Press) | Published: 6/9/2021
Investigators have been chipping away at the 42-year-old cold case of Samuel Pettyjohn’s murder since they renewed their investigation in 2015. At the time of his death, prosecutors said he was an informant in a federal probe of then-Tennessee Gov. Ray Blanton, who was accused of taking bribes in exchange for state prisoners receiving early parole. Investigators have now linked Pettyjohn’s killing to the Blanton inquiry. Hamilton County District Attorney Neal Pinkston said Pettyjohn was killed in a murder-for-hire plot paid for in-part by a third party on behalf of Blanton’s administration.
Texas – Dallas City Corruption Trial Begins for a Local Developer Accused of Bribing Former Councilors
MSN – Kevin Krause (Dallas Morning News) | Published: 6/14/2021
It is a transaction that happens routinely in politics: the payment of money by a business owner to a public official with the expectation of some future favorable action. But when is that payment an illegal bribe and when does it fall into the category of a routine campaign contribution? A federal jury will soon decide the matter, at least in the trial of developer Ruel Hamilton, who is accused of bribing two former Dallas City Council members. Prosecutors say Hamilton made payments to Carolyn Davis and Dwaine Caraway in exchange for their help on the council with his real estate properties.
Texas – State Bar Investigating Texas Attorney General
MSN – Jake Bleiberg (Associated Press) | Published: 6/10/2021
The State Bar of Texas is investigating whether state Attorney General Ken Paxton’s failed efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election based on bogus claims of fraud amounted to professional misconduct. The bar association initially declined to take up a complaint that Paxton’s petitioning of the U.S. Supreme Court to block Joe Biden’s victory was frivolous and unethical. But a tribunal that oversees grievances against lawyers overturned that decision and ordered the bar to look into the accusations against the Republican official.
Virginia – Black Virginians Took Ralph Northam Back. Neither Has Forgotten.
New York Times – Astead Herndon | Published: 6/14/2021
On a national level, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam may forever be enshrined as the Democrat who defied calls to resign in the face of unquestionable racism – a photograph on his yearbook page that showed one man in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan costume. But among Black political leaders and elected officials in Virginia, he is set to leave office with another legacy: becoming the most racially progressive governor in the state’s history, whose focus on uplifting Black communities since the 2019 scandal will have a tangible and lasting effect.
Washington – Google to Pay Washington State $400,000 to Settle Campaign Finance Lawsuit
Seattle Times – David Gutman | Published: 6/17/2021
Google agreed to pay $400,000 to settle charges it has not complied with Washington’s campaign finance laws, which require businesses to retain records of political ads they sell in the state. It is the second time in three years that the company has settled a campaign finance lawsuit in Washington. Google paid $200,000, plus attorneys’ fees, to settle a similar lawsuit, but admitted no wrongdoing. This time, Google agreed it did not comply with state law, but still disputes whether the law applies the company.
June 17, 2021 •
Campaign Finance Nebraska: “Donor to Nebraska Anti-Gambling Campaign Will Pay Record-Breaking Late Filing Fee” by Martha Stoddard for Omaha World-Herald Washington: “Google to Pay Washington State $400,000 to Settle Campaign Finance Lawsuit” by David Gutman for Seattle Times Elections National: […]
Nebraska: “Donor to Nebraska Anti-Gambling Campaign Will Pay Record-Breaking Late Filing Fee” by Martha Stoddard for Omaha World-Herald
Washington: “Google to Pay Washington State $400,000 to Settle Campaign Finance Lawsuit” by David Gutman for Seattle Times
National: “‘It Was Exhaustion, It Was Sadness, It Was Fatigue’: America’s mayors call it quits” by Lisa Kashinsky for Politico
National: “Manchin Outlines Demands on Voting Legislation, Creating an Opening for Potential Democratic Compromise” by Matt Zapotosky and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) for MSN
Pennsylvania: “Pittsburgh Poised for History-Making Election of Its First Black Mayor This Fall” by Nick Keppler (Washington Post) for MSN
New York: “Cuomo’s Inner Circle Raised Money for Aide Who Was Convicted of Bribery” by Brian Rosenthal and J. David Goodman for New York Times
Ohio: “Larry Householder Out: Ohio House votes to remove former speaker” by Jessie Balmert, Laura Bischoff, and Anna Staver (Cincinnati Enquirer) for MSN
Canada: “Lobbyists Slipping Through Cracks of Lobbying Act: Commissioner” by Aiden Chamandy for iPolitics
North Dakota: “North Dakota Paid Its Top Investment Management Firm Millions Without Competitive Bidding Process” by Patrick Springer for The Forum
Colorado: “Colorado Supreme Court Beats Back State Politicians’ Redistricting Efforts” by Evan Wyloge for Denver Gazette
June 16, 2021 •
Campaign Finance California: “San Diego Website Meltdown Preceded by Vendor Spat, Email Shows” by Matt Potter for San Diego Reader Elections National: “G.O.P. Bills Rattle Disabled Voters: ‘We don’t have a voice anymore’” by Maggie Astor for New York Times […]
California: “San Diego Website Meltdown Preceded by Vendor Spat, Email Shows” by Matt Potter for San Diego Reader
National: “G.O.P. Bills Rattle Disabled Voters: ‘We don’t have a voice anymore’” by Maggie Astor for New York Times
National: “Emails Show Trump Pressured Justice Dept. Over 2020 Election” by Michael Balsamo and Colleen Long for Associated Press News
National: “Trump’s FDA Commissioner Takes Job at Moderna Backer” by Dan Diamond (Washington Post) for MSN
Alaska: “Records Show Little Email Contact Between Gov. Dunleavy’s Former Aide and Oil Company That Hired Him” by Nathaniel Herz (Alaska Public Media) for KTOO
Connecticut: “Lawyer Says ‘No Quid Pro Quo’ in Provision Struck from Connecticut Marijuana Bill That Favored One Producer” by Mark Pazniokas (Connecticut Mirror) for Hartford Courant
Texas: “Dallas City Corruption Trial Begins for a Local Developer Accused of Bribing Former Councilors” by Kevin Krause (Dallas Morning News) for MSN
Hawaii: “Emails Show HART Leaders Always Wanted to Hire Hanabusa as Consultant” by Marcel Honore and Nick Grube for Honolulu Civil Bea
June 15, 2021 •
Campaign Finance Florida: “Miami Beach Rep. Michael Grieco Ordered to Pay $1,000 After Probe of Ethics Lapses” by Christina Sant Louis (Miami Herald) for MSN Massachusetts: “Mass. Republican Party Explored Whether It Can Use Its Own Money to Pay for […]
Florida: “Miami Beach Rep. Michael Grieco Ordered to Pay $1,000 After Probe of Ethics Lapses” by Christina Sant Louis (Miami Herald) for MSN
Massachusetts: “Mass. Republican Party Explored Whether It Can Use Its Own Money to Pay for a Candidate’s Legal Fees” by Matt Stout (Boston Globe) for MSN
New York: “Longtime Assembly Aide Approved as New York’s Election Watchdog” by Chris Bragg for Albany Times Union
National: “Exodus of Election Officials Raises Concerns of Partisanship” by Anthony Izaguirre for Associated Press News
Massachusetts: “Judge Rejects Plea Deal in Corruption Case of Former Correia Chief of Staff” by Shaun Towne and Steph Machado for WPRI
Ohio: “Ally of Suspended Cleveland City Councilman Kenneth Johnson Pleads Guilty to Corruption Charges” by John Caniglia (Cleveland Plain Dealer) for MSN
South Carolina: “SC House Reveals New List of $90M in Taxpayer Funds for Lawmakers’ Pet Projects” by Andrew Caplan (The State) for MSN
Virginia: “Black Virginians Took Ralph Northam Back. Neither Has Forgotten.” by Astead Herndon for New York Times
National: “Biden’s Vow to Limit Ethics Conflicts Finds a Test Case: The Ricchetti brothers” by Michael Scherer and Sean Sullivan (Washington Post) for MSN
June 14, 2021 •
Nevada Gov. Sisolak signed Assembly Bill 126, which changed Nevada’s presidential caucus system to a government-run primary election. The bill requires to the presidential primary to be held on the first Tuesday in February in a presidential election year.
Nevada Gov. Sisolak signed Assembly Bill 126, which changed Nevada’s presidential caucus system to a government-run primary election.
The bill requires to the presidential primary to be held on the first Tuesday in February in a presidential election year.
June 14, 2021 •
Members of the Joint Committee on Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions voted to draft bills to create either an open primary or a ranked-choice voting system. Currently, Wyoming operates under a dual partisan primary system. Under this system, each party […]
Members of the Joint Committee on Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions voted to draft bills to create either an open primary or a ranked-choice voting system.
Currently, Wyoming operates under a dual partisan primary system.
Under this system, each party holds an independent primary to select its candidate for the general election.
An open primary system allows for all parties to compete in a single primary election, with the top two votes advancing to the general election.
Rank-choice allows for voters to rank candidates in order of preference on their ballots, with the candidate securing the majority winning the election.
If no candidate wins the majority, the lowest candidate gets eliminated, the votes for that person go to the voters’ second choice, and the votes are retabulated until a majority is reached.
June 14, 2021 •
Campaign Finance Maine: “Maine Ethics Panel Votes to Pursue Records from Power Line Opponents” by Scott Thistle for Portland Press Herald Mississippi: “Lt. Gov. Hosemann’s Inaugural Nonprofit Got $368k in Secret Donations, Filings Show” by Luke Ramseth for Mississippi Daily […]
Maine: “Maine Ethics Panel Votes to Pursue Records from Power Line Opponents” by Scott Thistle for Portland Press Herald
Mississippi: “Lt. Gov. Hosemann’s Inaugural Nonprofit Got $368k in Secret Donations, Filings Show” by Luke Ramseth for Mississippi Daily Journal
National: “Garland Announces Expansion of Justice Department’s Voting Rights Unit, Vowing to Scrutinize GOP-Backed Voting Restrictions and Ballot Reviews” by Amy Gardner and Sean Sullivan (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “McGahn Elaborates on Mueller Testimony, but Stops Short of Condemning Trump in Interview with Congress” by Karoun Demirjian, Rosalind Helderman, Tom Hamburger, and Felicia Sonmez (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Hunting Leaks, Trump Officials Focused on Democrats in Congress” by Katie Benner, Nicholas Fandos, Michael Schmidt, and Adam Goldman (New York Times) for MSN
Canada: “Ethics Committee Calls for Sweeping Reforms in Wake of WE Charity Scandal” by Elizabeth Thompson for CBC
Tennessee: “Closed Cold Case Murder Tied to Ousted Tennessee Governor” by Kimberly Kruesi for Associated Press News
Texas: “State Bar Investigating Texas Attorney General” by Jake Bleiberg for Associated Press News
Oregon: “Oregon Legislator Is 1st-Ever Ousted After Statehouse Breach” by Andrew Selsky for Associated Press News
June 11, 2021 •
National/Federal Abbe Lowell Is the Go-To Lawyer for Embattled Politicians. Now He Faces a Controversy of His Own. Mother Jones – Dan Friedman | Published: 6/8/2021 Abbe Lowell, one of Washington’s top attorneys, has spent decades helping high-profile clients engulfed in […]
Abbe Lowell Is the Go-To Lawyer for Embattled Politicians. Now He Faces a Controversy of His Own.
Mother Jones – Dan Friedman | Published: 6/8/2021
Abbe Lowell, one of Washington’s top attorneys, has spent decades helping high-profile clients engulfed in political scandals. But now Lowell – known for representing Jared Kushner, Jack Abramoff, and others – is himself the subject of a controversy. Lowell negotiated a plea bargain for Nickie Lum Davis, a Republican fundraiser who had engaged in illegal lobbying. Davis later fired Lowell. A new lawyer representing her said Lowell failed to disclose a conflict-of-interest to Davis prior to her guilty plea. At the heart of this dispute is the allegation that an influential attorney with a slew of prominent political clients failed to tell one of those clients about what could be perceived as a personal interest in her case.
After Hitting Pause, PACs Begin to Press Play Again
MSN – Kate Ackley (Roll Call) | Published: 6/7/2021
Business PACs, many of which paused donations earlier this year amid fallout from the violent Capitol attack, have begun to send more money to lawmakers, including to the 147 Republicans who voted against certifying the presidential election results of some states. PACs from defense, agriculture, and other sectors have led in donations to such lawmakers. Still, PAC money is down. Contributions to both parties’ House and Senate campaign arms dropped significantly in the first four months of this year when compared with the same period in the previous two election cycles.
Democrats Grapple with Way Forward on Biden Agenda After Manchin Throws Up Roadblocks
MSN – Mike DeBonis and Sean Sullivan (Washington Post) | Published: 6/7/2021
Democrats grappled with the seeming decimation of their sweeping legislative ambitions at the hands of one of their own lawmakers, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, who quashed prospects for the party’s marquee voting rights bill and cast a pall over other planks of President Biden’s agenda. Manchin declared his opposition to the For the People Act, a sweeping measure meant in part to override new voting restrictions passed by Republican Legislatures and reiterated his vow never to repeal or modify the Senate’s 60-vote supermajority rule known as the filibuster.
Democrats’ Improbable New F.E.C. Strategy: More deadlock than ever
Yahoo News – Shane Goldmacher (New York Times) | Published: 6/8/2021
Democrats seeking more robust enforcement of election laws and transparency measures have been routinely routed at the FEC. They have complained Republicans have weaponized the commission’s bipartisan structure to turn it into a toothless agency. Now, the Democratic commissioners have begun to strike back by leveraging some of the same arcane rules that have stymied enforcement efforts for years to make the agency do even less. The goal appears to be to take a panel seen as dysfunctional and create further deadlock, compelling federal courts to fill the breach when it comes to policing federal election law.
Facebook Gives Trump Path to Return – but Not Until at Least 2023
Politico – Cristiano Lima | Published: 6/4/2021
Facebook announced that former President Trump’s accounts will be suspended for two years, extending the suspension that began in January following a finding Trump stoked violence ahead of the insurrection at the Capitol. The company said after that period it would evaluate whether “the risk to public safety has receded,” and then make a call on his possible reinstatement. Facebook also said it will stiffen penalties for public figures during times of civil unrest and violence. Politicians’ posts will no longer be automatically treated as newsworthy, and thus protected from the platform’s rules against harassment, hate speech, and more. But their rule-breaking remarks may still be exempt under Facebook’s newsworthiness exemption.
FBI Investigating Postmaster General Louis DeJoy in Connection with His Political Fundraising
MSN – Matt Zapotosky and Jacob Bogage (Washington Post) | Published: 6/3/2021
The FBI is investigating Postmaster General Louis DeJoy in connection with campaign fundraising activity involving his former business. The Washington Post published an examination of how employees at DeJoy’s former company, New Breed Logistics, alleged they were pressured by DeJoy or his aides to attend political fundraisers or donate to Republican candidates, and then were paid back through bonuses. Such reimbursements could run afoul of state or federal laws, which prohibit “straw-donor” schemes meant to allow wealthy donors to evade individual contribution limits and obscure the source of a candidate’s money.
GOP Governors Are Cutting Unemployment Aid. Some Have Ties to Businesses That May Benefit.
MSN – Yeganeh Torbati (Washington Post) | Published: 6/7/2021
Republican governors in 25 states are conducting a giant economic experiment, ceasing enhanced jobless aid for an estimated 4 million people, arguing the generous benefits are dissuading people from going back to work. But a number of these governors have personal connections to businesses that are trying to find workers and could benefit from the policy change. The Biden administration and its allies in Congress argue any reluctance by Americans to return to work is due more to a lack of childcare, lingering concerns over safety during the pandemic, and low wages.
Justice Dept. Continues Appeal on Behalf of Trump in Defamation Case Brought by Sexual Assault Accuser
MSN – Shayna Jacobs (Washington Post) | Published: 6/7/2021
The Justice Department’s Civil Division under President Biden is continuing the Trump-era push to represent the former president in a defamation lawsuit brought by author E. Jean Carroll. The lawsuit brought by Carroll, who accused Donald Trump two years ago of sexually assaulting her in the 1990s, has been stalled in litigation over whether the Justice Department had standing to represent him on the grounds that his denials in response to her claim were made while performing his presidential duties. The legal maneuver would have required a judge to find a tort law that protects government employees from civil liability applies to a sitting president.
Justice Dept. Vows to End Court Orders Seeking Journalists’ Data in Leak Probes
Politico – Josh Gerstein | Published: 6/5/2021
The U.S. Justice Department pledged to stop using court orders to get journalists’ information in leak investigations following disclosures about a flurry of such efforts at the end of the Trump administration. The marked shift in approaches between the Trump and Biden administrations comes after it was revealed the department fought a legal battle to obtain information about the email activities of four New York Times reporters as part of a leak investigation. As The Times made the showdown public, it complained the aggressive investigative effort represented a significant intrusion on First Amendment rights and journalists’ ability to gather the news.
Lack of Data on Diverse Electorate Tests Pollsters, Politicians
MSN – Michael Macagnone (Roll Call) | Published: 6/4/2021
The most diverse electorate in the country’s history headed to the polls in 2020, but pollsters and party officials are not sure how to tap that potential source of political support. They lack good data about these increasingly diverse communities, and cultural understanding to go with them, leading politicians to make naive mistakes. An industry of firms that provide voter data to pollsters, campaigns, and others has been trying to find the best way to parse specific parts of voters’ identities like religion, race, and ethnicity.
New Bill Aims to Shut the FARA Revolving Door
Center for Responsive Politics – Alyce McFadden | Published: 6/3/2021
Former federal government officials would be prohibited from representing foreign corporations and governments as lobbyists under new bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Reps. Mike Gallagher and Jared Golden. The Congressional and Executive Foreign Lobbying Ban Act seeks to prohibit federally elected lawmakers, senior-level government appointees, and high-ranking military officers from registering as lobbyists for foreign agents after they leave the government.
Sen. Ted Cruz Prevails in Campaign Finance Lawsuit
Roll Call – Todd Ruger and Kate Ackley | Published: 6/3/2021
A federal court sided with U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz to strike down a “somewhat obscure” section of a 2002 campaign finance law, which is expected to give a boost to wealthier candidates who self-fund their campaigns. A three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia found Section 304 of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act unconstitutionally infringes on candidates’ free speech rights. That section prohibits federal candidates who made personal campaign loans before the election from using more than $250,000 in post-election contributions to repay them.
Trump’s Election Fraud Claims Propelled Them to the Capitol on Jan. 6. His Ongoing Comments Are Keeping Them in Jail.
MSN – Rachel Weiner and Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 6/9/2021
Although former President Trump has been blocked from major social media platforms and recently shut down his own blog, he is still monitoring and promoting false claims of election fraud. Citing Trump’s ongoing comments, federal judges have shared fears that the defendants accused of the worst violence or threats of violence at the January 6 Capitol insurrection remain a danger to public safety and should remain in custody while they await trial. “Unfortunately, the political dynamics that gave way to January 6th have not faded,” U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta said in detaining a man accused of throwing a hatchet and a desk during the riot.
Canada – Judge Rules Against Ontario Third Party Campaign Finance Rules Declaring It Unconstitutional
Global News – Holly McKenzie-Sutter (Canadian Press) | Published: 6/9/2021
A judge struck down a limit on third-party ad spending introduced by Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s government, declaring recent changes to the law unconstitutional. A group of education unions argued the changes to the Election Finances Act would have a chilling effect on their rights to free expression in the year leading up to a provincial election. The government recently doubled the restricted pre-election spending period to 12 months but kept the $600,000 limit on third-party political advertisement spending. The attorney general argued the changes were necessary to protect democratic elections from outside influence.
From the States and Municipalities
California – Companies Lobbying Gavin Newsom Helped Pay His Wife’s Salary, Report Finds
MSN – Evie Fordham (Fox News) | Published: 6/3/2021
Companies with a history of lobbying the state California, including PG&E, Kaiser Permanente. and Comcast, donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the nonprofit of Gov. Gavin Newsome’s wife. Jennifer Siebel Newsom received $2.3 million in total salary from her nonprofit, The Representation Project, between 2011 and 2018, according to tax returns. Siebel Newsom’s foundation billed itself as a gender watchdog organization releasing films to “challenge limiting gender stereotypes and shift norms.” Newsom has appeared in two of The Representation Project’s films.
California – Judge and Attorney in Pivotal Newsom Recall Lawsuit Were Former Law Partners
MSN – Phil Willon (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 6/7/2021
The judge whose ruling was pivotal to the recall campaign against California Gov. Gavin Newsom, providing supporters extra time to gather the necessary petition signatures to trigger a special election, was once a law partner with the attorney hired by the effort’s proponents to plead their case. Sacramento County Superior Court Judge James Arguelles and Bradley Benbrook were attorneys at Stevens, O’Connell & Jacobs before 2010 and the two served as co-counsel on at least two cases. Howard Herships, who opposes the campaign to recall Newsom, said he raised the issue in a complaint against the judge filed with the Commission on Judicial Performance.
Connecticut – Jon Lender: The wife of the lone GOP senator who voted for Connecticut’s recreational marijuana has a job at medical cannabis grower Curaleaf
MSN – Jon Lender (Hartford Courant) | Published: 6/8/2021
Esther Witkos, the wife of state Sen. Kevin Witkos – who was the lone Republican to vote yes when the Senate voted to approve a controversial bill to legalize recreational use of marijuana in Connecticut – has a job with Curaleaf, a medical marijuana grower/producer. Sen. Witkos said his wife has been an hourly worker at a Curaleaf production facility for more than a year. He said he had nothing to do with her getting a job there, and her employment there had no bearing on his vote.
Connecticut – ‘There Are Certain People That Drink Heavily.’ CT Lawmakers Talk About Alcohol Use in Session
MSN – Ken Dixon (Connecticut Post) | Published: 6/4/2021
Connecticut House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora, fearing extracurricular partying could distract lawmakers from the public’s business, ordered his caucus to move their offices back to the Capitol to avoid distractions. Speaker Matt Ritter chastised his caucus after lawmakers began tailgating on the roof of the Legislative Office Building garage. One House member admitted wine at dinner and the stress of the session contributed to her failure to speak complete sentences during a floor debate. While the drinking might not be good public relations for the Legislature, people with institutional memories say it is no worse than it ever has been.
Florida – As Artiles Criminal Case Unfolds, Sham NPA Candidate Agrees to Ethics Violations, Fine
MSN – Samantha Gross (Miami Herald) | Published: 6/7/2021
As a corruption case involving former Florida Sen. Frank Artiles continues to play out in court, the no-party candidate accused of being paid and recruited to run in the Senate District 37 election was fined for his involvement. Artiles’ defense team continues to debate with the state attorney’s office over how much potential evidence should be made public related to an alleged scheme to recruit and pay Alexis Pedro Rodriguez to run as a no-party candidate in the race. Rodriguez will pay a $6,500 fine for accepting money with the understanding he would change his party affiliation, qualify to run, and file a false disclosure form.
Florida – Ethics Commission: No evidence of improper lobbying on Coral Gables Wawa project
MSN – Samantha Gross (Miami Herald) | Published: 6/9/2021
Miami-Dade County’s ethics commission determined there was no probable cause to pursue a complaint filed on behalf of the Gables Accountability Project, a group of Coral Gables residents who sued the city in opposition to a planned Wawa gas station and convenience store. The complaint alleged lobbyist and former state Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla and lobbyist Laura Russo failed to properly register to lobby on the project before they sent letters to the city attorney and other officials regarding the removal of trees at the site of the future gas station.
Florida – Judge Asked to Block New Law That Limits Contributions to Florida Amendment Initiatives
South Florida Sun-Sentinel – Jim Saunders (News Service of Florida) | Published: 6/8/2021
The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and other supporters of three proposed constitutional amendments designed to expand voting want a federal judge to block a new state law that places a $3,000 limit on contributions to ballot-initiative drives. They filed a motion for a preliminary injunction, arguing the limit is unconstitutional and would prevent them from collecting enough petition signatures to put the proposed amendments on the November 2022 ballot.
Florida – Mystery Donor Gives $100K-Plus to DeSantis
Politico – Matt Dixon | Published: 6/3/2021
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has received more than $100,000 from a mystery donor, Tread Standard, that federal regulators previously said was possibly set up illegally to mask the likely source of the money. But it remains unclear who is behind the Delaware-based entity or its political largesse. Tread Standard was the subject of an FEC complaint during the 2016 election cycle that it gave $150,000 to a super PAC supporting former Gov. Jeb Bush’s failed presidential bid. Red flags were raised because the six-figure contribution to the super PAC supporting Bush was given less than two months after Tread Standard was incorporated, and there was no sign the entity did anything that generated its own revenue.
Idaho – Idaho State Legislator Doxxed a Sexual Assault Survivor, Drawing Ethics Complaints
The Intercept – Sara Sirota | Published: 6/3/2021
Idaho Rep. Priscilla Giddings is facing several ethics complaints after circulating articles revealing the identity of a 19-year-old woman who reported to authorities that another lawmaker, former Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger, had sexually assaulted her. Giddings is a reservist in the U.S. military, an institution confronting issues of abuse and underreporting, and is seeking greater power in Idaho politics as a candidate for lieutenant governor. Sexual assault survivors often fear others will not believe them or will retaliate against them, inducing further trauma and convincing them more often than not against informing authorities.
Illinois – Chicago’s Ethics Ordinance Infinitely Stronger Than State Version, Top Ethics Officials Say
Chicago Sun-Times – Fran Spielman | Published: 6/4/2021
The city’s ethics ordinance is infinitely stronger than the Illinois General Assembly’s version, the Chicago Board of Ethics said, and it is “gratified” that home-rule will prevail. It is another slap at the widely ridiculed six-month lobbying ban for lawmakers approved by the Legislature in response to the Commonwealth Edison bribery scandal. “We are gratified that the General Assembly heeded our urging that Chicago’s lobbying laws not be superseded by the ethics and lobbying reform bill recently passed by the General Assembly,” Ethics Board Chairperson William Conlon and Executive Director Steve Berlin wrote in a statement.
Illinois – Exelon Lobbyist Leads an Effort to Win a Big Payday for Illinois Lawmakers
WBEZ – Dave McKinney | Published: 6/7/2021
Eric Madiar, a contract lobbyist for Exelon, is representing former Illinois Rep. Michael Fortner in a class-action lawsuit to win back cost-of-living pay raises legislators, including Fortner, previously voted to block. The cost of the forgone raises for lawmakers was estimated at $14.4 million. The suit was filed as Exelon seeks legislative approval to hike rates to prop up its struggling nuclear plants.
Illinois – Former Chicago Alderman Aiding Corruption Probe Made Audio and Video Recordings of Then-Speaker Michael Madigan on Multiple Topics, Sources Say
MSN – Jason Meisner and Ray Long (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 6/9/2021
Former Chicago Ald. Daniel Solis recorded Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan on numerous occasions as the speaker allegedly sought business for his private law firm, sources said. He also recorded colleagues at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, where Madigan led the Illinois delegation. Solis wearing a wire on Madigan, a famously cautious and shrewd political boss, could help explain why federal prosecutors apparently have cut Solis an unprecedented deal in a federal corruption probe. The potential conflict between Madigan’s dual careers a public official and private lawyer has come under scrutiny numerous times over the years.
Louisiana – Advocates Decry ‘Double Standard’ in Louisiana’s Legislature, Citing Groundwater Ethics Bill
New Orleans Advocate – Blake Paterson | Published: 6/8/2021
Black lawmakers joined social justice advocates to decry what they say is a “double standard” at the Louisiana Capitol where wealthy corporate interests win big while everyday citizens get left behind. They highlighted a bill that would exonerate several members of the Baton Rouge-area groundwater commission from ethics charges they face for working for the companies they are tasked with regulating. Gray Sexton, an attorney representing three members employed by ExxonMobil, Georgia-Pacific, and Entergy who were charged by the ethics board, said the bill simply acknowledges the fact that industry for decades has had a seat at the table.
Maine – Maine House Backs Limiting Foreign Election Spending in Challenge to CMP Corridor
Bangor Daily News – Jessica Piper and Caitlin Andrews | Published: 6/9/2021
The Maine House passed a bill to bar foreign government-owned companies from spending on state ballot questions after a Canadian energy company dumped millions of dollars into the Central Maine Power corridor referendum fight last year. The proposed ban gained momentum following the spending by Hydro Quebec, a Canadian energy company, to influence potential ballot questions about the corridor. After a first referendum on the corridor was declared unconstitutional last year, corridor opponents mounted a second petition this year aiming to halt the transmission line’s construction.
Maryland – Baltimore Spending Board Approves New Travel Expense Rules for Elected Officials
Baltimore Sun – Phil Davis | Published: 6/9/2021
Baltimore’s spending board approved a new expense policy for elected officials, adopting rules recommended by a city work group after an investigation into State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s travel costs. Elected officials must now seek the Board of Estimates’ approval for travel expenses of $100 or more if a third party is paying the costs. Officials also have to disclose details, including the purpose of a trip and who is paying.
Michigan – Gabe Leland Gets 2.5 Years of Probation on Misconduct in Office Charge
Detroit News – Sarah Rahal | Published: 6/7/2021
Former Detroit City Councilperson Gabe Leland was sentenced to two-and-a-half years of probation after pleading guilty to a state misconduct in office charge. He was accused of agreeing to accept $15,000 in cash and free car repairs from a businessperson in exchange for his vote on a land deal. The allegations resulted in an indictment on federal bribery charges in addition to the felony misconduct in office charge, but the federal charge was dismissed as part of the plea agreement.
Michigan – House OKs Ethics Reform with Financial Disclosure, Lobby Limits
Detroit News – Beth LeBlanc | Published: 6/9/2021
Amid debate over whether the legislation went far enough, the Michigan House passed 13 bills and one joint resolution that proponents hope will boost transparency and ethics among lawmakers. The bills seek to create an ethics committee in each chamber, require confidential financial disclosures from members, and prevent legislators and senior administration officials from lobbying for two years after leaving office. The package moves to the Senate, where Majority Leader Mike Shirkey has expressed concerns that financial disclosure requirements could discourage people from running for office.
New Jersey – Stunning Development in Big N.J. Corruption Case as Judge Tosses Charges Against Former Candidate
MSN – Ted Sherman (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 6/3/2021
In a major setback for prosecutors, the bribery and corruption case against Jason O’Donnell, a former New Jersey Assembly member who was running for Bayonne mayor, was thrown out of court as a judge found O’Donnell committed no crime. The judge said O’Donnell had no power to make any promises in return for a $10,000 cash payment he allegedly accepted from an informant during an undercover sting operation. O’Donnell and four other candidates and officials were accused of taking tens of thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions and cash payoffs from an attorney seeking promises of lucrative tax and real estate work.
New Mexico – Citizen Lawmakers Find Work in New Cannabis Industry
New Mexico Political Report – Andy Lyman | Published: 6/6/2021
Even prior to the passage of the Cannabis Regulation Act in New Mexico, a handful of consulting and legal firms specializing in cannabis regulations and law existed. But since the law was approved, there are at least three elected officials who are currently, or plan to, sell their knowledge to those interested in getting in at the ground floor of what is expected to become a booming new industry. That raises questions about the ethics of state and local lawmakers selling their services in an industry they sometimes have a hand at creating.
New York – She’s Running for New York City Council. But Newspapers Won’t Publish Her Photo.
Politico – Hannah Dreyfus | Published: 6/9/2021
Amber Adler is the first Orthodox Jewish woman to run for city council in her Brooklyn district, which includes ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods. As she heads toward the June 22 primary, Adler is a victim of a recent trend among Jewish media outlets in Orthodox neighborhoods in the U.S. – a refusal to publish photographs of women and girls for religious reasons. Which means if Adler wants campaign ads printed in the Jewish news, she cannot be in most of them. Adler is butting up against expectations that Orthodox women do not assume positions of communal authority.
North Carolina – Raleigh Mayor Sits Out Development Hearings to Avoid Conflict of Interest
Yahoo News – Anna Johnson (Raleigh News and Observer) | Published: 6/4/2021
Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin recused herself twice from a recent city council meeting due to potential conflicts-of-interest involving her employer. The mayor did not participate in a public hearing on a proposed development because her employer, Barnhill Contracting, began working on the project in 2019. Baldwin was hired as the director of business development for Barnhill’s Triangle and Streamline Divisions in May 2020. She faced criticism for accepting the job soon after the construction company received a $6.3 million city contract.
North Dakota – Above Board or ‘Pay to Play’? Firm That Guides North Dakota’s $19.4B Portfolio Comes Under Fire
Grand Forks Herald – Patrick Springer | Published: 5/31/2021
Questions have been raised about potential conflicts-of-interest involving a financial adviser that recommends fund managers for North Dakota’s $19.4 billion investment portfolio. A firm called Callan, whose advisory role has been described as a “manager of managers,” received payments from 12 of the 14 companies that manage the investments for the Legacy Fund, the state’s oil tax savings account. As the North Dakota State Investment Board’s leading financial adviser, Callan plays an influential role in advising the board on selecting fund management firms for the Legacy Fund, public employee pension funds, and state insurance funds.
Ohio – Ohio Public Corruption Cases Could Be Tried in Defendants’ Home Counties, Under GOP Proposal
MSN – Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 6/9/2021
A state lawmaker is seeking to remove the Franklin County prosecutor’s exclusive authority to try Ohio public corruption cases, just months after a Democrat was elected to the position for the first time in nearly 60 years. An amendment to a bill would allow lawmakers, candidates, and political groups accused of violating state law to choose to be tried in their home counties, rather than in Franklin County as current law requires. The proposal comes amid the House Bill 6 scandal, in which ex-Speaker Larry Householder and allies are facing federal charges they received $60 million in bribe money to pass a bailout of two nuclear power plants.
Oregon – Oregon Lawmaker Faces Expulsion in Assault on State Capitol
Associated Press News – Andrew Selsky | Published: 6/8/2021
A state lawmaker faces being expelled from office after a video emerged apparently showing him choreographing how he would let far-right protesters into the closed Oregon Capitol days before he did so in December. The crowd entered the building during an emergency legislative session, and some sprayed chemical irritants at police. Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek recently introduced a resolution that would have the House expel Rep. Mike Nearman if two-thirds of its members vote in favor. She appointed a committee to consider the matter.
Oregon – Oregon Lawmakers Vote to Defund Forest Research Institute over Lobbying Scandal
Yahoo News – Tim Gruver (The Center Square) | Published: 6/9/2021
Oregon House members voted to pull the plug on a public agency accused of playing fast and loose with its ethical standards in its business with the timber industry. The bill redirects millions of dollars from the Oregon Forest Resources Institute (OFRI) to the Oregon Department of Forestry. A recent media investigation found the taxpayer-funded OFRI attempted to discredit state-sponsored climate research without merit. In 2018, investigators found the OFRI organized a campaign to tarnish an Oregon State University study that concluded the state could cut its carbon footprint if it felled trees on private land less often.
Pennsylvania – How the National Push by Trump Allies to Audit 2020 Ballots Started Quietly in Pennsylvania
MSN – Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) | Published: 6/6/2021
A push to conduct unofficial election audits in Pennsylvania served as a last-ditch effort by allies of former President Trump to undercut Joe Biden’s win after failing in the courts and Legislature. The lobbying foreshadowed a playbook now in use in Arizona and increasingly being sought in other communities as Trump supporters clamor for reviews of the ballots cast last fall, citing false claims the vote was corrupted by fraud. Trump’s backers argue any evidence of problems they uncover will prove the election system is vulnerable and could have been manipulated to help Biden. The audits are being pushed by an affiliation of GOP lawmakers, lawyers, and self-described election experts, backed by private fundraising campaigns whose donors are unknown.
Washington – Seattle Times Sues City of Seattle over Durkan’s Missing Text Messages During Protests
Seattle Times – Asia Fields | Published: 6/4/2021
The Seattle Times filed a lawsuit alleging the city of Seattle mishandled requests from reporters for officials’ text messages during a tumultuous period last summer when police abandoned the a precinct and used tear gas on protesters. The complaint follows a whistleblower investigation that found Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office violated state public records laws in its handling of requests after discovering the mayor’s texts were missing for a 10-month period. The newspaper claims the city violated the Public Records Act by withholding or destroying the mayor’s records after they were requested.
Wyoming – Inside the Campaign-Finance ‘End Run’ That Earned GOP an FEC Fine
WyoFile.com – Nick Reynolds | Published: 6/4/2021
The Wyoming Republican Party secretly supported a 2016 Trump campaign “end run” around donation limitations without securing requisite authorization, according to a former official. The violation, which resulted in a $52,000 fine, cited the party’s failure to meet reporting deadlines for a series of unusual transfers between the Republican National Committee, the state GOP, and the Trump Victory Fund PAC, according to the party’s then-treasure, Doug Chamberlain. But Chamberlain, who was responsible for signing off on all the state GOP’s financial activities and FEC compliance, said he was unaware of the arrangement.
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