November 9, 2022 •
Alabama voters passed all 10 ballot measures, including ballot measure four. Ballot measure four requires any bill passed by the state legislature during an election year, which affects how a general election is held, to take effect at least six […]
Alabama voters passed all 10 ballot measures, including ballot measure four.
Ballot measure four requires any bill passed by the state legislature during an election year, which affects how a general election is held, to take effect at least six months before the general election.
November 9, 2022 •
Arizona voters approved a campaign finance ballot measure requiring disclosure of original campaign donors. Proposition 211 requires that anyone making independent expenditures of more than $50,000 on a statewide campaign or $25,000 on a local campaign to disclose the names […]
Arizona voters approved a campaign finance ballot measure requiring disclosure of original campaign donors.
Proposition 211 requires that anyone making independent expenditures of more than $50,000 on a statewide campaign or $25,000 on a local campaign to disclose the names of the money’s original sources, defined as the persons or businesses that earned the money being spent.
Organizations that fail to disclose would face a fine equal to the amount contributed, or up to three times that amount.
Proposition 211 applies to corporations, nonprofit groups and charities that currently are not required to disclose the names of the people who give money to political campaigns that the organization backs.
As of 8:15 a.m. November 9, with 59% of the precincts reporting, the amendment passed 72.7% to 27.3%.
November 9, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “The FEC Isn’t Enforcing the Law. Does It Even Matter?” by Russ Choma for Mother Jones Oregon: “NRA Committee to Be Fined for Delay in Reporting Donation to Campaign against Oregon Measure 114 Gun Control Initiative” by […]
National: “The FEC Isn’t Enforcing the Law. Does It Even Matter?” by Russ Choma for Mother Jones
Oregon: “NRA Committee to Be Fined for Delay in Reporting Donation to Campaign against Oregon Measure 114 Gun Control Initiative” by Maxine Bernstein for Portland Oregonian
National: “Democrats Show Strength, Leaving Fight for Control of Congress Unresolved” by Hannah Knowles and Michael Scherer (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Biggest Surge of Misinformation May Arrive After Election Day, Researchers Say” by Stuart Thompson (New York Times) for Seattle Times
National: “U.S. Judiciary Launches Online Database of Judges’ Financial Disclosures” by Nate Raymond for Reuters
Massachusetts: “AP Sources: Justice Dept. watchdog probing Mass. US attorney” by Alanna Durkin Richer and Michael Balsamo (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
Wisconsin: “Military Ballots in Wisconsin Will Be Counted Under Judge’s Ruling” by Patrick Marley (Washington Post) for MSN
Europe: “Spanish Govt Proposes Rules for Lobbyists, Public Officials” by Associated Press for Yahoo News
Texas: “Fifth Circuit Parses Texas Ban on Boycotting Israel” by Cameron Langford for Courthouse News Service
November 8, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Texas: “Ads Against Abbott, Other Texas Republicans by Coulda Been Worse Test Campaign Ethics Law” by Allie Morris and Robert Garrett (Dallas Morning News) for MSN Washington DC: “D.C. Elections Board Denies Silverman’s Request to Vacate Ruling on […]
Texas: “Ads Against Abbott, Other Texas Republicans by Coulda Been Worse Test Campaign Ethics Law” by Allie Morris and Robert Garrett (Dallas Morning News) for MSN
Washington DC: “D.C. Elections Board Denies Silverman’s Request to Vacate Ruling on Ward 3 Poll” by Michael Brice-Saddler (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Fed Up with Political Text Messages? Read On.” by Natasha Singer (New York Times) for Yahoo News
National: “Investigators Search for Pricey Gifts to Trump from Foreign Leaders” by Jacqueline Alemany and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “Jury Returns Guilty Verdicts on All Counts in Santa Clara County Sheriff Corruption Trial” by Robert Salonga (Bay Area News Group) for MSN
Kentucky: “‘Shocks the Conscience.’ Panel Orders Kentucky Judge Removed Over Ethics Violations” by Bill Estep (Lexington Herald Leader) for MSN
Florida: “Conflicts of Interest, Cronyism at SFRTA, Tri-Rail’s Operator, Amid Furtive Renewal of Costly Lobbying Contract” by Dan Christensen for Florida Bulldog
Maine: “Maine Gives Companies More Time to Disclose PFAS Use After Requests from Lobbying Groups” by Mehr Sher for Bangor Daily News
November 7, 2022 •
On December 12, a federal by-election will be held for the electoral district of Mississauga–Lakeshore (Ontario) to fill a vacancy in the House of Commons. On May 30, the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, Stéphane Perrault, received official notice from […]
On December 12, a federal by-election will be held for the electoral district of Mississauga–Lakeshore (Ontario) to fill a vacancy in the House of Commons.
On May 30, the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, Stéphane Perrault, received official notice from the Speaker of the House of Commons that the seat for Mississauga–Lakeshore (Ontario) became vacant following the resignation of Sven Spengemann. Spengemann officially resigned from his seat in the House of Commons on May 28 in order to work for the United Nations.
The by-election date was announced on November 6. The Elections Canada office in Mississauga–Lakeshore will open soon, according to an Elections Canada press release.
November 7, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “Federal PAC Supporting Ron DeSantis’ Presidential Bid Sues FEC Over List-Sharing Ruling” by Taylor Giorno for Open Secrets Elections Wisconsin: “Milwaukee Mayor Fires Official Who Sent Ballots Under Fake Names to Lawmaker” by Patrick Marley (Washington Post) […]
National: “Federal PAC Supporting Ron DeSantis’ Presidential Bid Sues FEC Over List-Sharing Ruling” by Taylor Giorno for Open Secrets
Wisconsin: “Milwaukee Mayor Fires Official Who Sent Ballots Under Fake Names to Lawmaker” by Patrick Marley (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “Inside the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department Corruption Investigation of Its Own Watchdogs” by Michael Finnegan and Laura Nelson (Los Angeles Times) for MSN
Massachusetts: “Former State Police Union Head Dana Pullman, Lobbyist Anne Lynch Convicted of Racketeering, Fraud” by Tom Matthews (MassLive) for MSN
New Jersey: “Lawmaker Calls for Review of State Office That Prosecutes Public Corruption Cases” by Dana DiFilippo for New Jersey Monitor
New York: “Trump’s Company to Get a Court Monitor, Judge Rules” by Josh Gerstein (Politico) for MSN
Pennsylvania: “Kenyatta Johnson and His Wife, Dawn Chavous, Acquitted at Federal Bribery Trial” by Jeremy Roebuck and Oona Goodin-Smith (Philadelphia Inquirer) for MSN
National: “Former Trump Adviser Acquitted on Charges of Acting as Emirati Agent” by Rebecca Davis O’Brien (New York Times) for DNyuz
November 4, 2022 •
National/Federal Architect of Capitol Abused Government Car Privileges, IG Report Finds MSN – Jim Saska (Roll Call) | Published: 11/1/2022 A report from the Architect of the Capitol inspector general suggests Architect Brett Blanton drove to Florida at the government’s expense, […]
Architect of Capitol Abused Government Car Privileges, IG Report Finds
MSN – Jim Saska (Roll Call) | Published: 11/1/2022
A report from the Architect of the Capitol inspector general suggests Architect Brett Blanton drove to Florida at the government’s expense, let his daughter use the office’s “free gas” for Walmart runs, allowed his wife to give prohibited private Capitol tours, and may have misled others into thinking he was an off-duty cop. During the investigation, the inspector general’s office discovered social media posts on September 30, 2020, from Blanton’s wife, one of which asked “ALL PATRIOTS” to contact her for private tours of the Capitol at a time when the building was closed to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Capitol Police Cameras Caught Break-In at Pelosi Home, But No One Was Watching
MSN – Aaron Davis, Carol Leonnig, Mariana Sotomayor, and Paul Kane (Washington Post) | Published: 11/1/2022
If the Capitol Police were going to stop an attack at the home of any member of Congress, they had perhaps the best chance to do so at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s, according to law enforcement officials. But hours after Pelosi left San Francisco recently and returned to Capitol Hill, much of the security left with her, and officers in Washington, D.C. stopped continuously monitoring video feeds outside her house. The subsequent attack on Pelosi’s husband, Paul, demonstrated the immensity, and perhaps the impossibility, of law enforcement’s task to protect the 535 members of Congress at a time of unprecedented numbers of threats against them.
Chief Justice Roberts Temporarily Delays Release of Trump Tax Records
MSN – Robert Barnes (Washington Post) | Published: 11/1/2022
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts temporarily halted the release of former President Trump’s tax records to a congressional committee and called for more briefings in the case. Without the Supreme Court’s intervention, the records could have been handed over to the House Ways and Means Committee as early as November 3. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit declined to review earlier rulings that found lawmakers are entitled to the documents in the legal battle.
Churches Are Breaking the Law by Endorsing in Elections, Experts Say. The IRS Looks the Other Way.
MSN – Jeremy Schwartz and Jessica Priest (ProPublica/Texas Tribune Investigative Unit) | Published: 10/30/2022
Eighteen churches over the past two years appeared to violate the Johnson Amendment, a federal law barring churches and nonprofits from directly or indirectly participating in political campaigns. Some pastors have gone so far as to paint candidates they oppose as demonic. At one point, churches fretted over losing their tax-exempt status for even unintentional missteps. Although the provision was mostly uncontroversial for decades after it passed in 1954, it has become a target for both evangelical churches and former President Trump. But the IRS has largely abdicated its enforcement responsibilities as churches have become more brazen.
Companies Often Don’t Match Climate Talk and Lobbying, Study Says
MSN – Ellen Meyers (Roll Call) | Published: 11/3/2022
Major corporations’ advocacy for clean energy and climate policies falls well short of the nearly unanimous support for cutting emissions and boosting renewable energy in the U.S, according to a report from sustainability nonprofit Ceres. Of listed companies in the S&P 100 index, nine out of every 10 acknowledge climate change is a material risk to their industry. Yet only half of the 100 companies disclosed they lobbied for climate policies aligning with the objectives of the Paris Agreement in the past three years.
Former Trump Aide Kash Patel Set to Testify in Mar-a-Lago Docs Probe: Report
MSN – Julie Shapero (The Hill) | Published: 11/2/2022
Former Trump aide Kash Patel is set to testify before a federal grand jury about the classified documents recovered from former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home after being granted immunity for any information. Patel, who has claimed Trump had declassified the documents found at Mar-a-Lago, previously refused to provide information to the grand jury, instead invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Patel told The Wall Street Journal in August he witnessed Trump issue verbal declassification orders.
He’s an Outspoken Defender of Meat. Industry Funds His Research, Files Show.
DNyuz – Hiroko Tabuchi (New York Times) | Published: 10/31/2022
After three dozen leading researchers sounded a warning in a scientific journal that to fight climate change and improve human health, the world needed to dramatically cut back on eating red meat. The findings were quickly attacked by Frank Mitloehner, the head of an agricultural research center at the University of California, Davis. Mitloehner’s academic group, the Clear Center, receives almost all its funding from meat industry donations and coordinates with a major livestock lobby group on messaging, Critics say that close financial ties between a research center and the industry it studies create the potential for conflict-of-interest.
‘I Think It’s an Earthquake’: The political world reckons with a Musk-owned Twitter
MSN – Rebecca Kern, David Siders, and Meridith McGraw (Politico) | Published: 10/28/2022
Elon Musk formally took control of Twitter and after firing four key executives, tweeted “the bird is freed” – touching off a wave of both anxiety and relief in different corners of the political world. Conservatives, especially on the far right, view Musk as something of a savior, liberating Twitter from what they see as a progressive approach to what content is allowed. Liberals worry about what happens to a key information platform without a gatekeeper, especially if Musk allows Donald Trump back onto the platform.
Lawyers Who Advanced Trump’s Election Challenges Return for Midterms
DNyuz – Nick Corasaniti and Alexandra Berzon (New York Times) | Published: 11/2/2022
At least three dozen lawyers and law firms that advanced Donald Trump’s failed attempt to overturn the 2020 election are now working for Republican candidates, parties, and other groups, filing lawsuits and other complaints that could lay the groundwork for challenging the results of midterm elections. Though the 2020 legal push failed, with just one victory out of more than 60 lawsuits, scores of lawyers behind it have continued to work on election litigation.
Perkins Coie Dials Back Politics, Doubles Down on Corporate Work
Bloomberg Government – Justin Wise | Published: 11/2/2022
Perkins Coie, the law firm that has long been a top adviser to Democrats, is looking to expand its work for tech and emerging companies while pulling back from politics. The firm’s work in the political sphere has plummeted in the current election cycle, after the departure of prominent elections lawyer Marc Elias and a group of attorneys. It has been best known recently for fighting off Republican lawsuits challenging President Joe Biden’s 2020 election win and advising the Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton campaigns.
Political Advertisers Shift Spending from Facebook to Streaming Platforms Ahead of Midterms
CNBC – Lauren Feiner and Jonathan Vanian | Published: 11/2/2022
Political advertisers are spending less on Facebook for the 2022 midterms after flocking to the social network in previous cycles. Apple’s iOS privacy update in 2021 has made it more difficult for campaigns to reach potential voters with targeted ads. Laura Carlson, digital director of the Democratic Governors Association, said her organization is pushing the other half of its $10 million budget to areas like traditional email and text campaigns as well as newer platforms like streaming services.
Their Messages, Skirting Political Ad Rules
DNyuz – Stephanie Lai (New York Times) | Published: 11/3/2022
Social media influencers are paid hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars per post to circulate political messages, and they are part of a growing group of people who are being paid by campaign operatives to create content aimed at influencing elections. No federal guidance has been published on the specifics of influencer political advertisements. That means users and marketing campaigns are effectively bound by no more than an honor system for disclosures. Some worry it could exacerbate the spread of misinformation and allow shadowy political messaging to flourish.
Trump Lawyers Saw Justice Thomas as ‘Only Chance’ to Stop 2020 Election Certification
MSN – Kyle Cheney, Josh Gerstein, and Nicholas Wu (Politico) | Published: 11/2/2022
Donald Trump’s attorneys saw a direct appeal to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as their best hope of derailing Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential election, according to emails disclosed to congressional investigators. Trump attorney Kenneth Chesebro contended Thomas would be “our only chance to get a favorable judicial opinion by Jan. 6, which might hold up the Georgia count in Congress.” Thomas is the justice assigned to handle emergency matters arising out of Georgia and would have been the one to receive any urgent appeal of Trump’s lawsuit to the Supreme Court.
U.S. Capitol Police Officer Convicted of Obstructing Jan. 6 Probe
MSN – Tom Jackman (Washington Post) | Published: 10/28/2022
After he went into the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, and then posted about it on Facebook, Jacob Hiles was arrested. In speaking with the FBI, Hiles mentioned something that caught the attention of investigators: “following the riot he had become friends with a Capitol police officer.” The FBI found a screenshot on his phone of a Facebook message sent to him by U.S. Capitol Police Officer Michael Riley on January 7. Riley deleted all his messages with Hiles. A jury recently convicted Riley on one obstruction count, for deleting his Facebook messages with Hiles, and failed to reach a verdict on the issue of his initial message to Hiles.
From the States and Municipalities
Alaska – Alaska Campaign Finance Regulators Issue Warning to the Republican Governors Association
Yahoo News – Iris Samuels (Anchorage Daily News) | Published: 10/26/2022
The Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) deferred a decision on a complaint alleging the Republican Governors Association (RGA) was illegally spending money to support Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s reelection bid. The decision allows A Stronger Alaska, the independent expenditure group funded by the RGA, to continue spending money before the November election. But in their ruling, commissioners issued a warning to the RGA and A Stronger Alaska, saying they “continue to make expenditures at their own peril.”
Arizona – Judge Limits Ballot Drop Box Monitoring in Arizona After Intimidation Claims
MSN – Annabelle Timsit (Washington Post) | Published: 11/2/2022
A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order against a far-right group accused of intimidating voters in Arizona. The ruling dramatically restricts what Clean Elections USA or its allies can do or say near ballot boxes. Donald Trump and his supporters have made the drop boxes the focal point of baseless claims they were used in a large-scale scheme to submit false ballots during the 2020 presidential election. The order extends to voters who use ballot drop boxes some of the same protections that are typically afforded at polling places.
California – Bribery Trial Opens for Hotel Company Linked to José Huizar Case
Spectrum News – City News Service | Published: 10/27/2022
A federal prosecutor told a jury that a China-based hotel company owned by a fugitive real estate developer bribed former Los Angeles City Councilperson José Huizar with over $1.5 million in cash, trips on private jets, and “casino chips and prostitutes” in exchange for his official support of a redevelopment project. The defense countered that city officials “universally loved” the project, so “there was no reason to bribe anyone.” Shen Zhen New World I, owned by developer Wei Huang, is charged with bribing Huizar to make sure city officials approved the proposed 77-story mixed-use skyscraper in downtown Los Angeles.
California – Judge Denies Motion to End Corruption Trial after Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Resignation
East Bay Times – Robert Salonga (Bay Area News Group) | Published: 11/2/2022
A judge ruled the civil corruption trial for Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith will continue after Smith suddenly resigned and asked the court to dismiss the case now that she cannot be removed from office. The arguments highlighted the lack of precedent for removal-from-office trials spurred by a civil grand jury; the only other one in known memory was in 2002 involving the ouster of a Mountain View city council member.
California – Years Later, City Leaders Still Often Don’t Comply with Disclosure Laws
San Francisco Examiner – Adam Shanks | Published: 11/2/2022
Many top city officials in San Francisco still do not comply with a 1999 law that requires them to maintain a daily public calendar that documents who they meet with and what they talk about. There remains a lack of uniformity in how those officials interpret the law, which may be as relevant today as ever thanks to the widespread distrust San Franciscans have of city government due to recent incidents of corruption.
Colorado – Judge Rebuffs GOP Candidate’s Request to Be Exempt from Spending Limits
Colorado Springs Gazette – Michael Karlik (Colorado Politics) | Published: 11/2/2022
A federal judge rejected a Colorado House candidate’s request to spend freely in the final days of the election, after he had inadvertently signed up for voluntary spending limits when he registered his candidacy. Although Paul Archer registered to run in February and realized in June that he had opted into a campaign financing mechanism that requires him to limit his overall spending, Archer only sought a judge’s order to block the spending limits two days after county clerks began mailing ballots. The judge faulted Archer and his campaign committee for the unreasonable delay.
Connecticut – Former CT State Rep. Michael DiMassa Pleads Guilty to Stealing About $1.2 Million in Pandemic Relief Money
MSN – Edmund Mahoney (Hartford Courant) | Published: 11/1/2022
Former Connecticut Rep. Michael DiMassa pleaded guilty to charges that he stole about $1.2 million that West Haven was awarded to cover expenses arising from the coronavirus pandemic. DiMassa was empowered by West Haven’s mayor to approve spending for prevention measures and other unexpected costs. He admitted he conspired with his wife and two others to embezzle the federal grant money by creating dummy invoices and directing payments to sham companies.
Florida – Watchdog Files FEC Complaint Against Nonprofits Tied to ‘Ghost’ Candidate Scandal
MSN – Jeff Weiner (Orlando Sentinel) | Published: 10/28/2022
The “dark-money” nonprofit central to Florida’s so-called ghost candidate scandal, as well as several related organizations, may have violated federal campaign finance laws to conceal political spending, according to a complaint by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. The complaint alleges violations under the Federal Election Campaign Act, which prohibits contributions made “in the name of another,” typically by funneling money intended to support a cause or candidate through a network of entities to conceal its true origins.
Georgia – An Ethics Watchdog Criticized Stacey Abrams. His Boss Retracted It.
DNyuz – Michael Powell (New York Times) | Published: 11/3/2022
When Craig Holman, a campaign finance and ethics expert, criticized Fair Fight Action, a politically powerful voting rights group, and its founder, Stacey Abrams, who happens to be running for governor of Georgia, his boss took notice. The day the article appeared, an official with Fair Fight Action complained to Public Citizen. The next day, Public Citizen retracted Holman’s criticism. It then congratulated Fair Fight Action for “heroic work” in protecting the vote and stated it was “proud to partner with them.” This partnership, Public Citizen officials said, was unofficial and not financial.
Georgia – Supreme Court Denies Lindsey Graham Appeal to Block Subpoena in Election Subversion Case
Yahoo News – Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein (Politico) | Published: 11/1/2022
The Supreme Court denied U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s bid to block a subpoena from prosecutors investigating Donald Trump’s effort to subvert the 2020 election in Georgia. The court agreed that Graham can be required to provide testimony to a grand jury about matters that are not related to his official congressional work. Prosecutors in Fulton County have emphasized they do not plan to question Graham about his legislative work but are probing his December 2020 phone calls to state officials amid a recount and legal challenges by Trump.
Hawaii – Hawaii Standards Commission Moves to Tighten Ethics Rules for Lawmakers and Lobbyists
Honolulu Civil Beat – Blaze Lovell | Published: 10/26/2022
A commission wants the Hawaii Legislature to post records of legislative allowances online, require lawmakers to disclose any business relationship with lobbyists and other organizations trying to influence government, and make it harder for legislators to vote on bills when they may pose a conflict-of-interest. The Commission to Improve Standards of Conduct advanced several proposals aimed at lobbyists. The bills would mandate annual ethics training for lobbyists, require them to disclose a list of bill numbers they are trying to influence, and prohibit them from giving gifts to legislators and government employees.
Illinois – Pritzker Gives Shoe Leather and Big Bucks to Democrats Running for State’s Top Court – But GOP Says He’s Skirting the Law
Chicago Sun-Times – Tina Sfondeles | Published: 11/1/2022
Gov. J.B. Pritzker dipped into a trust fund to donate to two Democratic candidates for the Illinois Supreme Court, a decision Republicans say is skirting contribution limits the governor set himself. At issue is a bill the governor signed into law earlier this year that caps contributions to judicial candidates to $500,000 from “any single person.” But the Illinois State Board of Elections says Pritzker’s multiple donations are allowed.
Illinois – Tom Cullen, Longtime Brain in Madigan Political Operation, Provided Testimony for Feds
MSN – Jason Meisner and Ray Long (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 10/30/2022
Tom Cullen, a lobbyist who was an inside operator for years on former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s government staff, testified before a federal grand jury looking into broad aspects of Madigan’s political world, which prosecutors allege included a criminal enterprise aimed at providing personal financial rewards for Madigan and his associates. It has been reported that Cullen and his lobbying firm were at the center of an alleged scheme by AT&T Illinois to pay thousands of dollars to a former member of Madigan’s leadership team in exchange for the speaker’s help on legislation the company wanted.
Kentucky – Are Kentucky Judges Disclosing Everything They Should?
Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting – Lily Burris and Michael Collins | Published: 11/3/2022
The Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting obtained financial disclosure forms from 93 sitting judges and challengers running for the bench in Jefferson County, nearby counties in north central Kentucky, and the state Supreme Court. The disclosures do not reveal much about the candidates’ financial holdings, while gaps in oversight and lax enforcement make it difficult to hold judges accountable for potential conflicts-of-interest that might come up in court.
Kentucky – Federal Appeals Court Blocks Effort to Investigate Joe Fischer’s Supreme Court Bid
MSN – Deborah Yetter and Joe Sonka (Louisville Courier Journal) | Published: 10/31/2022
A federal appeals court granted an injunction to temporarily block the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission from investigating complaints about the campaign of Joe Fischer, a candidate for the state Supreme Court. Fischer filed a lawsuit saying he believed the commission was considering possible sanctions against him for alleged campaign violations, largely that he has identified himself as “the conservative Republican” in a nonpartisan judicial race. The appeals court said a letter from the commission seeking information and a meeting with the campaign was a threat to Fischer’s First Amendment rights.
Montana – Commissioner of Political Practices Extends Departure Date
Helena Independent Record – Montana State News Bureau | Published: 10/26/2022
After previously announcing he would step down just before Election Day, Commissioner of Political Practices Jeff Mangan said he still plans to leave the position but will remain in place until December 30. Republican lawmakers have for years brought legislation seeking to disband the office or reduce the power commissioners wield. Not since Dennis Unsworth’s departure at the end of 2010 has anyone served out a full term as commissioner.
Nevada – How One Small-Town Lawyer Faced Down the Plans of Election Skeptics
MSN – Stephanie McCrummen (Washington Post) | Published: 10/30/2022
Among the many anonymous jobs at the grassroots of American democracy, the county attorney is one of the most anonymous of all. Pickens County Attorney Phil Landrum’s days are usually spent advising county boards on the minutiae of state law, a job that has lately included defending his corner of the nation’s voting system against a barrage of attempts to upend it. Thousands of local officials across the country find themselves in a similar position as former President Trump and his allies continue to spread false claims about the security of America’s elections and urge their followers to act.
New York – Trump Organization on Trial for Criminal Tax Fraud
MSN – Michael Sisak (Associated Press) | Published: 10/31/2022
The Trump Organization is on trial for criminal tax fraud for what prosecutors say was a 15-year scheme by the company’s former chief financial officer to avoid paying taxes on fringe benefits, including apartments and luxury cars. In opening statements, prosecutors and defense lawyers sparred over the company’s culpability for the actions of Allen Weisselberg, who has pleaded guilty and agreed to testify as a prosecution witness. The tax fraud case is the only criminal trial to arise from the Manhattan district attorney’s three-year investigation of Donald Trump and is one of three active cases involving Trump or the company in New York courts.
Pennsylvania – Pennsylvania Court: Ballots in undated envelopes won’t count
Yahoo News – Mark Scolforo (Associated Press) | Published: 11/1/2022
Pennsylvania officials cannot count votes from mail-in or absentee ballots that lack accurate, handwritten dates on their return envelopes, the state Supreme Court ruled a week before tabulation will begin in races for governor, U.S. Senate, and state Legislature. The court directed county boards of elections to “segregate and preserve” those ballots. The justices split on whether making the envelope dates mandatory under state law would violate provisions of the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964, which states that immaterial errors or omissions should not be used to prevent voting.
Pennsylvania – The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Paid $15K to Take 2 Pa. Lawmakers to Europe
Spotlight PA – Angela Couloumbis | Published: 11/2/2022
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra paid for Pennsylvania Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman and state Rep. Rob Mercuri, along with their spouses, to travel to Europe to see the orchestra play in nine cities. The symphony, which has received nearly $10 million in state funding over the past five years, picked up the costs for their concert tickets, airfare, hotel, meals, and other incidentals. The orchestra estimated the cost at $15,000. Lawmakers are permitted to accept gifts of any value as long as they are not in exchange for official action and are reported. The Legislature recently without passing a gift ban bill.
South Carolina – SC School Board Member Wanted Taxpayers to Fund Hotel Upgrade Until Ethics Threat, Email Says
MSN – Bristow Marchant (The State) | Published: 11/2/2022
For more than a month, Lashonda McFadden, a member of the board of trustees for the Richland School District, resisted reimbursing the district $425 for upgrading a hotel room at a conference in Atlanta and a pet fee, according to an email sent by the James Manning, the board’s chairperson. Manning said McFadden asked for the money to be taken out of a taxpayer-funded travel account. The money was finally paid back after Manning told McFadden he would refer the matter to the state Ethics Commission.
South Dakota – Federal Court Rules SD Ballot Measure Law Curbs Free Speech
MSN – Stephen Groves (Associated Press) | Published: 11/1/2022
A federal appeals court upheld a lower court’s decision to block parts of a South Dakota law that would have required ballot petition workers to publicly disclose their personal identification information. The law passed in 2020 was just one attempt by lawmakers in recent years to add barriers to ballot measures, which have given progressive causes a chance at enactment in the politically red state. Steven Grasz wrote in an opinion for a three-judge panel of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals that being forced to disclose the information would be “chilling in today’s world” and the law would violate the First Amendment.
Tennessee – Shelby County Alters How It Selects an Ethics Officer, and What Complaints They Can Act On
Yahoo News – Katherine Burgess (Memphis Commercial Appeal) | Published: 10/31/2022
How the ethics officer of Shelby County is selected will change after a vote by commissioners. Now, the officer will be nominated by the county mayor with a concurrent resolution by the county commission. That ethics officer will no longer be able to act on anonymous complaints. Instead, they will be able to act only those that are “in writing and signed under oath by the person making the complaint.”
Tennessee – State Sen. Brian Kelsey Files Motion to Change Not Guilty Plea in Federal Campaign Finance Investigation
MSN – Adam Friedman (Tennessean) | Published: 10/28/2022
Lawyers for Tennessee Sen. Brian Kelsey filed a motion to change his plea of not guilty, indicating he may have reached an agreement with federal prosecutors in the campaign finance investigation into his failed 2016 campaign for the U.S. House. The motion comes nearly two weeks after Nashville club owner Joshua Smith pleaded guilty a spart of the probe. Smith’s guilty plea suggests he was cooperating with prosecutors ahead of a trial that is scheduled for January.
Texas – For Third Time This Year, AG Ken Paxton Fails to Disclose Campaign Donors as Required by Law
MSN – Taylor Goldenstein (Houston Chronicle) | Published: 11/1/2022
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has failed to file fundraising disclosure forms with complete lists of donors three times in the past year. Paxton has long had an antagonistic relationship with the Texas Ethics Commission, the agency that levies fines for violations such as late or incomplete reports. As of July, it had been almost three years since his office had sued candidates who have not paid their fines, though it is part of his job. He has also declined to represent the commission in court as his political allies seek to dismantle it with a lawsuit.
Vermont – ‘So Blatantly Illegal’: Liam Madden admits to funneling money through family to inflate campaign finance numbers
VTDigger.org – Sarah Mearhoff | Published: 10/28/2022
During a radio interview, Liam Madden, the Republican nominee in the open race for Vermont’s seat in the U.S. House, described in detail a self-funded scheme to inflate his campaign donations during the primary cycle to qualify for candidate debates. Madden claimed to have “drained” his wife’s business’s bank account and distributed roughly $25,000 amongst family members – including his toddler son – who then donated the money to his campaign. Madden said he is now recouping the money by collecting a salary from his campaign.
Washington DC – At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman Misspent Public Campaign Funds on Poll, Says Regulator
DCist – Martin Austermuhle | Published: 10/28/2022
The Office of Campaign Finance said District of Columbia Councilperson Elissa Silverman improperly used public campaign funds to pay for two targeted polls ahead of the June Democratic primary for a race in which she was not a candidate. In its ruling, which Silverman says she will appeal, the office ordered her to refund the city more than $6,000 for the cost of the polls. Silverman participates in the Fair Elections program, which matches small-dollar contributions with public funds.
November 3, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “Political Advertisers Shift Spending from Facebook to Streaming Platforms Ahead of Midterms” by Lauren Feiner and Jonathan Vanian for CNBC Illinois: “Billionaire Gov. Pritzker Uses Trust to Skirt Contribution Limits in Illinois Supreme Court Races” by Dan […]
National: “Political Advertisers Shift Spending from Facebook to Streaming Platforms Ahead of Midterms” by Lauren Feiner and Jonathan Vanian for CNBC
Illinois: “Billionaire Gov. Pritzker Uses Trust to Skirt Contribution Limits in Illinois Supreme Court Races” by Dan Petrella (Chicago Tribune) for MSN
Texas: “For Third Time This Year, AG Ken Paxton Fails to Disclose Campaign Donors as Required by Law” by Taylor Goldenstein (Houston Chronicle) for MSN
National: “Trump Lawyers Saw Justice Thomas as ‘Only Chance’ to Stop 2020 Election Certification” by Kyle Cheney, Josh Gerstein, and Nicholas Wu (Politico) for MSN
Arizona: “Judge Limits Ballot Drop Box Monitoring in Arizona After Intimidation Claims” by Annabelle Timsit (Washington Post) for MSN
Pennsylvania: “Pennsylvania Court: Ballots in undated envelopes won’t count” by Mark Scolforo (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
South Dakota: “Federal Court Rules SD Ballot Measure Law Curbs Free Speech” by Stephen Groves (Associated Press) for MSN
National: “Architect of Capitol Abused Government Car Privileges, IG Report Finds” by Jim Saska (Roll Call) for MSN
California: “Judge Denies Motion to End Corruption Trial after Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Resignation” by Robert Salonga (Bay Area News Group) for East Bay Times
National: “Perkins Coie Dials Back Politics, Doubles Down on Corporate Work” by Justin Wise for Bloomberg Government
November 2, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Colorado: “A Software Glitch? A Fake Candidate? Judge Weighs Unusual Facts of Campaign Finance Lawsuit” by Michael Karlik (Colorado Politics) for Colorado Springs Gazette Elections Georgia: “Supreme Court Denies Lindsey Graham Appeal to Block Subpoena in Election Subversion […]
Colorado: “A Software Glitch? A Fake Candidate? Judge Weighs Unusual Facts of Campaign Finance Lawsuit” by Michael Karlik (Colorado Politics) for Colorado Springs Gazette
Georgia: “Supreme Court Denies Lindsey Graham Appeal to Block Subpoena in Election Subversion Case” by Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein (Politico) for Yahoo News
Kentucky: “Federal Appeals Court Blocks Effort to Investigate Joe Fischer’s Supreme Court Bid” by Deborah Yetter and Joe Sonka (Louisville Courier Journal) for MSN
National: “Chief Justice Roberts Temporarily Delays Release of Trump Tax Records” by Robert Barnes (Washington Post) for MSN
Connecticut: “Former CT State Rep. Michael DiMassa Pleads Guilty to Stealing About $1.2 Million in Pandemic Relief Money” by Edmund Mahoney (Hartford Courant) for MSN
New York: “Trump Organization on Trial for Criminal Tax Fraud” by Michael Sisak (Associated Press) for MSN
Tennessee: “Shelby County Alters How It Selects an Ethics Officer, and What Complaints They Can Act On” by Katherine Burgess (Memphis Commercial Appeal) for Yahoo News
Pennsylvania: “The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Paid $30K to Take 2 Pa. Lawmakers to Europe” by Angela Couloumbis (Spotlight PA) for nextpittsburgh.com
November 1, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Vermont: “‘So Blatantly Illegal’: Liam Madden admits to funneling money through family to inflate campaign finance numbers” by Sarah Mearhoff for VTDigger.org Washington DC: “At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman Misspent Public Campaign Funds on Poll, Says Regulator” by Martin […]
Vermont: “‘So Blatantly Illegal’: Liam Madden admits to funneling money through family to inflate campaign finance numbers” by Sarah Mearhoff for VTDigger.org
Washington DC: “At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman Misspent Public Campaign Funds on Poll, Says Regulator” by Martin Austermuhle for DCist
National: “Churches Are Breaking the Law by Endorsing in Elections, Experts Say. The IRS Looks the Other Way.” by Jeremy Schwartz and Jessica Priest (ProPublica/Texas Tribune Investigative Unit) for MSN
Arizona: “Federal Judge in Arizona Rejects Restraining Order Request, Lets Group Monitor Ballot Drop Boxes” by Associated Press for NBC News
Nevada: “How One Small-Town Lawyer Faced Down the Plans of Election Skeptics” by Stephanie McCrummen (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “U.S. Capitol Police Officer Convicted of Obstructing Jan. 6 Probe” by Tom Jackman (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “Bribery Trial Opens for Hotel Company Linked to José Huizar Case” by City News Service for Spectrum News
National: “He’s an Outspoken Defender of Meat. Industry Funds His Research, Files Show.” by Hiroko Tabuchi (New York Times) for DNyuz
October 31, 2022 •
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves called a special election to be held to replace House District 23 Rep. Jim Beckett. House District 23 covers portions of Grenada, Calhoun, Lafayette, and Webster counties. The seat became vacant when Beckett resigned to become […]
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves called a special election to be held to replace House District 23 Rep. Jim Beckett.
House District 23 covers portions of Grenada, Calhoun, Lafayette, and Webster counties.
The seat became vacant when Beckett resigned to become the director of the Mississippi Public Utilities Staff.
The special election will be held on January 10, 2023.
October 28, 2022 •
National/Federal Bannon Gets 4 Months Jail Term for Defying Jan. 6 Committee Subpoena Yahoo News – Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein (Politico) | Published: 10/21/2022 A judge sentenced longtime Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon to four months in jail for defying […]
Bannon Gets 4 Months Jail Term for Defying Jan. 6 Committee Subpoena
Yahoo News – Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein (Politico) | Published: 10/21/2022
A judge sentenced longtime Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon to four months in jail for defying a subpoena from lawmakers investigating the attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. He will also pay a $6,500 fine. U.S. District Court Judge Carl Nichols said Bannon inappropriately defied the select committee on a matter of significant national interest, and even after roadblocks to his testimony had been removed. A jury convicted Bannon on two charges of contempt of Congress – one for refusing to testify to the January 6 select committee, another for refusing to provide relevant documents to the panel.
Big K Street Players Spend More as Election Uncertainty Brews
MSN – Kate Ackley (Roll Call) | Published: 10/21/2022
K Street’s 10 biggest spenders have shelled out a combined $238.3 million on federal lobbying so far this year, as the industry now gears up for brewing uncertainty when lawmakers return after the midterm elections. Business groups, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as well as health care, pharmaceutical, and technology interests, topped spending in the first three quarters of this year, as Congress moved climate, health, and tax legislation and a new law to boost domestic semiconductor manufacturing.
Head of UK Lobbying Watchdog Calls for Tougher Disclosure Rules
Guardian – Rowena Mason | Published: 10/26/2022
The head of the United Kingdom’s lobbying watchdog called for tougher disclosure rules to show which ministers have been solicited, as well as a review of exemptions to the rules. Harry Rich, who is in charge of the register of consultant lobbyists and their clients, is making suggestions for more transparent lobbying declarations in a submission to parliament’s public administration and constitutional affairs committee in his first public intervention on the subject since taking the job in 2018.
How Votes Are Cast and Counted Is Increasingly Decided in Courtrooms
MSN – Patrick Marley (Washington Post) | Published: 10/26/2022
Disputes over redistricting, voter IDs, voting hours, recounts, and other election-related policies have long run parallel to political campaigns, but the numbers are rising. The increase began after the U.S. Supreme Court decided the 2000 presidential election and the trend reached a high in 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic prompted a host of new voting rules. Election experts say courts have the power to clarify vague laws or policies and resolve key questions before ballots are cast, but many also contend the barrage of lawsuits increases the chances of last-minute rulings that can spur voter confusion.
Jan. 6 Panel Issues Subpoena to Trump, Demanding He Testify
MSN – Farnoush Amiri and Mary Clare Jalonick (Associated Press) | Published: 10/21/2022
The House committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol issued its subpoena of Donald Trump, demanding testimony from the former president who lawmakers say “personally orchestrated” a multi-part effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election. The panel issued a letter to Trump’s lawyers saying he must testify, either at the Capitol or by videoconference, “beginning on or about” November 14 and continuing for multiple days if necessary. The letter also outlined a request for a series of corresponding documents, including personal communications between Trump and members of Congress as well as extremist groups.
Law Firms Eager for US Regulatory Clarity on Foreign Lobbying
Bloomberg Law – Ben Penn | Published: 10/26/2022
Carrying a maximum prison sentence of five years for willful offenders, the Foreign Agents Registration Act mandates public disclosures when individuals, companies, or nonprofits act on behalf of foreign interests. It contains exceptions that apply to attorneys, which have proven difficult to interpret for work at the border of legal representation and political advocacy. Those exemptions are now slated for a regulatory rewrite, with implications for lawyers, both those hoping to provide clarity to clients on whether they need to register and others concerned about their own need to file. The proposal is expected by the end of 2022.
Mar-a-Lago Classified Papers Held U.S. Secrets About Iran and China
MSN – Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 10/21/2022
Some of the classified documents recovered by the FBI from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate included highly sensitive intelligence regarding Iran and China, according to people familiar with the matter. If shared with others, the people said, such information could expose intelligence-gathering methods the U.S. wants to keep hidden from the world. The secret documents about Iran and China are considered among the most sensitive the FBI has recovered in its investigation of Trump and his aides for possible mishandling of classified information, obstruction, and destruction of government records, the people said.
Menendez Facing Another Federal Investigation
MSN – Matt Friedman (Politico) | Published: 10/26/2022
Sen. Bob Menendez is facing another federal ethics investigation. It was reported that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York is investigating Menendez five years after a jury deadlocked on corruption charges against him. Prosecutors at first announced plans to try Menendez again but backed off. The new investigation threatens to cloud Menendez’s expected reelection campaign in 2024.
Social Security Whistleblowers Say They Were Sidelined for Exposing Fines
Yahoo News – Lisa Rein (Washington Post) | Published: 10/25/2022
Joscelyn Funnié and Deborah Shaw, attorneys in the Social Security Administration’s inspector general’s office, were removed from their jobs and placed on paid leave after expressing concerns about large fines imposed on disabled and poor elderly people. They were eventually reinstated. But since returning to work under Inspector General Gail Ennis, they said they have been excluded from meaningful assignments, given tasks below their experience and abilities, and denied opportunities for advancement. Experts on whistleblowers describe the treatment as evidence of retaliation in a case that is the focus of three ongoing probes.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – A Retiree Served Food to the Homeless for Years. Then It Got Her Arrested.
MSN – Jonathan Edwards (Washington Post) | Published: 10/26/2022
Police often patrolled Community Park in Bullhead City, Arizona, so Norma Thornton ignored two officers when they pulled up in cruisers as she finished serving food to homeless people. When one of the officers said he was arresting her for violating the city’s new ordinance that outlawed people serving prepared food in public parks for “charitable purposes,” Thornton suspected a prank. Only when the officer put her in the back seat of his cruiser did reality set in. Thornton recently filed a lawsuit against Bullhead City, accusing the officers of violating her civil rights. She is asking a federal judge to declare the ordinance unconstitutional.
Arizona – Ariz. Democratic Governor Candidate Hobbs Reports Break-In at Campaign Office
MSN – Amy Wang (Washington Post) | Published: 10/27/2022
The campaign for Arizona Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs said its Phoenix office was broken into and police are investigating the incident. A spokesperson for Hobbs, Arizona’s secretary of state, implicitly blamed Hobbs’s Republican rival, Kari Lake, a charge Lake scoffed at as “absurd.” Phoenix police said unspecified items were taken, according to The Arizona Republic. In surveillance images obtained by the newspaper, a young man wearing shorts and a green T-shirt can be seen inside the building.
Arizona – Arizona Sheriff Steps Up Security Around Ballot Drop Boxes
MSN – Associated Press | Published: 10/25/2022
The sheriff in metropolitan Phoenix said he stepped up security around ballot drop boxes after a series of incidents involving people keeping watch on the boxes and taking video of voters after they were apparently inspired by lies about the 2020 election. Deputies responded recently when two masked people carrying guns and wearing bulletproof vests showed up at a drop box in Mesa, a Phoenix suburb. The secretary of state said her office has received six cases of potential voter intimidation to the state attorney general and the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as a threatening email sent to the state elections director.
Arkansas – Federal Judge Signs Off on Prosecution’s Motion to Dismiss Charges Against Gilbert Baker
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette – Dale Ellis | Published: 10/25/2022
A federal judge dismissed bribery and wire fraud charges against former Arkansas Sen. Gilbert Baker. Baker was indicted on one count each of conspiracy to commit bribery and bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds, and seven counts of honest services wire fraud. Prosecutors accused Baker of bribing former Faulkner County Circuit Court Judge Michael Maggio in 2013 as part of a scheme to get Maggio to lower a financial judgment against Greenbrier Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. A judge declared a mistrial when jurors acquitted Baker on the conspiracy count but could not reach a verdict on the remaining counts.
California – California Sets Up Age Requirement for Those Handling Political Campaign Bucks
Marin Independent Record – Gabriel Greschler (Bay Area News Group) | Published: 10/20/2022
The California Fair Political Practices Commission passed a rule prohibiting anyone under the age of 18 to be hired for a position that requires them to sign campaign finance documents under penalty of perjury. The change will mostly apply to a campaign’s treasurer but could affect other positions that involve financial decisions. Milpitas City Councilperson Anthony Phan was found to have hired his 14-year-old cousin as his treasurer during a bid for a council seat in 2016.
California – Ethics Reform Proposal Stalled Amid Endless Negotiations Between City, Union
San Francisco Examiner – Adam Shanks | Published: 10/19/2022
A proposal to reform San Francisco’s ethics laws has been stalled for months amid prolonged negotiations with the union that represents top city officials. The union says it needs time to study the proposal and its many ramifications, but the city’s Ethics Commission says it is simply dragging its feet on reform. The Municipal Executives Association has been exercising its right to weigh in on the proposal for nearly a year despite a push from the Ethics Commission, which authored the reforms, to put it before voters in the form of a ballot measure.
California – Ex-Anaheim Mayor Refuses to Publicly Disclose Emails Amid FBI Corruption Investigation
MSN – Nathan Fenno, Gabriel San Román, and Adam Elmahrek (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 10/25/2022
The criminal defense attorney for former Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu claimed Sidhu’s emails and text messages sent while in office about city business on private devices were no longer public because he has resigned and invoked his constitutional right against self-incrimination. Sidhu refusal to disclose the communications could obstruct a probe into a corruption scandal surrounding the sale of Angel Stadium. Public records experts say the refusal flouts California law and could encourage other government officials to use private accounts to conduct official business and avoid public scrutiny.
California – LA Councilwoman Raman Seeks Action on Lobbying Reforms
MSN – City News Service | Published: 10/25/2022
Los Angeles City Councilperson Nithya Raman filed a motion to have her colleagues adopt lobbying reforms presented by the city’s Ethics Commission but placed on the back burner by former council President Nury Martinez. The proposal seeks to make lobbying efforts more transparent and limit financial ties between lobbyists and city officials. The commission sent the council recommended updates to the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance in April, but Martinez never placed the report on the council’s agenda.
Colorado – Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser Attends Lavish Event in Hawaii Paid for by Corporations He’s Suing
CBS News – Shaun Boyd | Published: 10/19/2022
The Attorney General Alliance, a group made up of 48 state attorneys general, a private club that corporations and lobbyist organizations pay tens of thousands of dollars to belong to. Their membership buys them access to lavish events where they can schmooze the top legal officers for state government, individuals who have sole discretion over whether to sue, settle, or investigate them. The alliance’s 2021 annual conference in Maui was sponsored by companies like Google, Juul, and Pfizer, all of which were being sued by states at the time.
Connecticut – Connecticut Port Authority Employee Fined for Ethics Violation
Yahoo News – Greg Smith (The Day) | Published: 10/24/2022
Connecticut Port Authority employee Andrew Lavigne was fined $750 and suspended for two days without pay for violating state ethics rules when he accepted hockey tickets from a company doing business with the quasi-public agency. The fine is the settlement reached with the Office of State Ethics, which determined Seabury Maritime had violated the state code of ethics for public officials in 2017 and 2019 when it provided gifts, meals, and overnight accommodations to port authority employees and two board members.
Delaware – State Auditor Kathy McGuiness Sentenced for Public Corruption Convictions
Yahoo News – Xerxes Wilson (News Journal) | Published: 10/19/2022
The only statewide-elected official in Delaware history to be accused and convicted of crimes while in office was spared prison time and resigned her office. Auditor Kathy McGuiness was sentenced to a year of probation, 500 hours of community service, and a $10,000 fine for her misdemeanor conflict-of-interest and official misconduct convictions, guilty verdicts that stemmed from hiring her daughter to work in the auditor’s office.
Florida – Florida Commission on Ethics Recommends Doug Underhill Be Removed from Office
Yahoo News – Jim Little (Pensacola News Journal) | Published: 10/21/2022
The Florida Commission on Ethics asked Gov. Ron DeSantis to remove Escambia County Commissioner Doug Underhill from office one month before the end of his term. The commission said Underhill be removed for disclosing a county “shade meeting” transcript before the litigation was officially concluded and be fined the maximum of $10,000. The commission also recommended Underhill be fined $6,250 for each of four additional ethics violations of gift disclosure laws and solicitation donations from a county vendor or lobbyist, bringing the total recommended fine to $35,000.
Florida – Tampa Lawmaker Files Lawsuit Against Campaign Manager, Alleging Sexual Harassment
Yahoo News – Kirby Wilson and Emily Mahoney (Tampa Bay Times) | Published: 10/24/2022
Florida Rep. Jackie Toledo is accusing her campaign manager, a well-known Republican communications strategist, of sexual harassment. Fred Piccolo sent “unwanted, unsolicited, inappropriate, and grossly offensive” text messages to her, according to a lawsuit. Toledo, who made an unsuccessful bid this year for a U.S. House seat, also accuses Piccolo of trying to get fired to earn a $100,000 termination payout. She is seeking at least $30,000 in damages.
Georgia – Abrams’ Campaign Chair Collected Millions in Legal Fees from Voting Rights Organization
Yahoo News – Brittany Gibson (Politico) | Published: 10/24/2022
The voting rights organization founded by Stacey Abrams spent more than $25 million over two years on legal fees, mostly on a single case, with the largest amount going to the self-described boutique law firm of the candidate’s campaign chairperson. Allegra Lawrence-Hardy, Abrams’ close friend who chaired her gubernatorial campaign both in 2018 and her current bid to unseat Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, is one of two named partners in Lawrence & Bundy. Some questioned both the level of expenditures devoted to a single, largely unsuccessful legal action and that such a large payout went to the firm of Abrams’ friend.
Georgia – Supreme Court Puts Temporary Hold on Graham Grand Jury Election Testimony
MSN – Robert Barnes and Ann Marimow (Washington Post) | Published: 10/24/2022
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas put a temporary hold on an order that U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham appear before a Georgia grand jury investigating possible attempts by former President Trump and his allies to disrupt the state’s 2020 presidential election. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit denied an attempt to block a subpoena from Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, in which Graham claimed a sitting senator is shielded from testifying in such investigations.
Georgia – Trump Chief of Staff Meadows Ordered to Testify Before Ga. Grand Jury
MSN – Amy Wang and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) | Published: 10/26/2022
A judge ruled former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows must testify before a Georgia grand jury investigating Republican efforts to reverse the 2020 presidential election results in the state. Meadows has helped promote Trump’s baseless claims that widespread voter fraud delivered the presidency to Joe Biden. In her petition seeking Meadows’s testimony, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis noted Meadows’s participation in a telephone call Trump made on January 2, 2021, to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger asking him to “find” 11,780 votes that would enable him to defeat Biden in the state.
Illinois – Federal Oversight of Cook County Assessor’s Hiring to End; Supervision Tied to Decades-Old Shakman Patronage Lawsuit
MSN – A.D. Quig (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 10/25/2022
For years, federal courts have kept watch over the Cook County assessor’s office, making sure workers were not hired for their political connections, and that job descriptions were clear. That oversight will end on November 1. The so-called Shaman oversight is named for Michael Shakman, the man who first sued to end the practice of Democratic patronage, under which city and county jobs were filled by faithful party members, and firings or promotions were based on election-time efforts.
Illinois – Inside AT&T’s Alleged ‘Conspiracy’ to Bribe Powerbrokers at the Illinois Capitol
WBEZ – Jon Seidel (Chicago Sun-Times) and Dan Mihalopoulos | Published: 10/21/2022
For more than a decade, Brian Gray was AT&T’s top executive in Illinois for a critical area – dealing with politicians in a state known for its corruption. As the director of legislative affairs, he oversaw a stable of lobbyists, and in recent years he also headed the company’s PAC in Illinois. AT&T is cooperating authorities and promised to pay a $23 million fine admitting it used illegal means in efforts to win support for favorable legislation. Sources close to the investigation say the three employees referenced in the indictment are Gray and former company lobbyists Robert Barry and Stephen Selcke.
Maine – Ethics Panel Says Candidate, Outside Group Violated Campaign Finance Laws
Yahoo News – Randy Billings (Portland Press Herald) | Published: 10/26/2022
Maine’s ethics commission ruled in separate cases that a state Senate candidate and an out-of-state political group did not properly disclose the funding sources for campaign communications, a violation of the state’s campaign finance law. October 26 marked the first day that independent expenditures from outside groups need to be reported within 24 hours. Previously, such spending needed to be reported within 48 hours.
Massachusetts – Groups Sue to Put Super PAC Question on 2024 State Ballot
MSN – Steve LeBlanc (Associated Press) | Published: 10/24/2022
Groups pushing for a 2024 ballot question aimed at reining in the spending power of super PACs filed two lawsuits in Massachusetts that target a decision by the state attorney general’s office to block the question on the grounds it would infringe on First Amendment rights. The lawsuits argue in favor of the proposed question, which would change state law to limit contributions by individuals to independent expenditure political action committees to $5,000. Currently, super PACs can raise and spend unlimited funds from individuals as long as they do not directly coordinate with a candidate’s campaign.
Michigan – Michigan Jury Finds Three Men Guilty of Aiding Plot to Kidnap Governor
MSN – Tyler Clifford and Brendan O’Brien (Reuters) | Published: 10/26/2022
A jury found three men guilty of aiding a conspiracy to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020, a plot that prosecutors said grew out of hostility over restrictions she imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Joseph Morrison, his father-in-law, Pete Musico, and Paul Bellar were convicted of gang membership, firearm violations, and providing material support for terrorism. They could face up to 20 years in prison. State prosecutors argued the men assisted two others who were found guilty in federal court of kidnapping conspiracy. It stands as the most prominent case involving domestic terrorism and militias in years.
Missouri – State Ethics Board Fines Former Candidate for St. Louis County Executive
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Kurt Erickson | Published: 10/25/2022
A one-time candidate for St. Louis County executive was fined more than $34,000 for campaign finance violations. According to the Missouri Ethics Commission, William Ray Jr. had multiple problems with two campaign accounts, one for him personally and another political committee called Fannie PAC. Among the violations were failures to report more than $11,450 in contributions and more than $9,400 in expenses.
New York – New Ethics Commissioner Attended Assemblyman’s Campaign Fundraiser
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 10/24/2022
Leonard Austin, who is serving as the vice chair of New York’s Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government, recently attended a campaign fundraiser for state Assemblyperson Charles Lavine. Austin’s wife donated to Lavine’s reelection bid. Under state law, ethics commission members are prohibited from contributing to any candidate for state-level office, including Assembly members. The law does not address this situation, where an ethics commissioner attends a fundraiser and their spouse makes a donation.
New York – Trump’s Business, Under Threat, Faces a Tough Test in Court
MSN – Ben Protess, William Rashbaum, and Jonah Bromwich (New York Times) | Published: 10/23/2022
The Trump Organization is on trial in Manhattan, where the district attorney’s office accused it of tax fraud and other crimes. Although Donald Trump himself was not indicted, he is synonymous with the company he ran for decades. This case centers on special perks doled out by the Trump Organization, which comprises more than 500 corporate entities. The company’s chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, pleaded guilty to conspiring to carry out the scheme and agreed to testify at the trial.
Ohio – 2 Conservatives Accused in Hoax Robocall Scheme Plead Guilty
MSN – Mark Gillispie (Associated Press) | Published: 10/25/2022
Two right-wing operatives pleaded guilty to single felony counts of telecommunications fraud for having placed thousands of false robocalls in Ohio that told people they could be arrested or be forced to receive vaccinations based on information they submitted in votes by mail. Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman could each receive a year in prison when they are sentenced. The have a history of staging hoaxes and spreading false smears against Democrats and public officials.
Ohio – FirstEnergy Cuts Off Its ‘Dark Money’ Spigot in Ohio, Disclosures Show
Yahoo News – Jake Zuckerman (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 10/24/2022
Besides some nominal payments, FirstEnergy has cut off its contributions to Ohio-based nonprofit entities that spend outside money to support politicians. But the disclosures show FirstEnergy made about $130,000 in similar “dark money” payments to political firms in 2021 in New Jersey and West Virginia, where it also operates utilities. Since the initial arrests in the House Bill 6 scandal, candidates and party committees in Ohio have returned a combined $390,000 in contributions from the company’s state and federal PACs. Meanwhile, FirstEnergy keeps just one lobbyist on hand in the state compared to the 15 it retained in 2019.
Oregon – Portland City Auditor’s Office Issues Penalty Against Gonzalez’s Campaign
MSN – Michaela Bourgeoise (KOIN) | Published: 10/20/2022
Rene Gonzalez’s campaign for Portland City Council is facing another fine after an investigation into the campaign’s rented office and parking spaces revealed it accepted an unlawful in-kind contribution. The city auditor’s office said it issued a $5,520 civil penalty against the campaign for allegedly accepting six months of parking at a Portland office rented from Schnitzer Property Management.
Tennessee – Election Watchdog Disputes Harwell Claim That Shifting State Funds to Federal Campaign Was Legit
Tennessee Lookout – Sam Stockard | Published: 10/26/2022
Former Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell contends the transfer of money from her state PAC to a super PAC that supported her failed congressional bid this summer was legal. But a watchdog group that monitors potential campaign finance violations says Harwell’s actions are “outside the law,” which prohibits state election funds from being used for federal campaigns. Saurav Ghosh, director of federal campaign finance reform for the Campaign Legal Center, said his organization will consider filing a complaint with the FEC against the Harwell campaign.
Texas – Greg Abbott Ran as a Small-Government Conservative. But the Governor’s Office Now Has More Power Than Ever.
Texas Tribune – Marilyn Thompson (ProPublica) and Perla Trevizo | Published: 10/25/2022
Greg Abbott has consolidated power like no Texas governor in recent history, at times circumventing the Republican-controlled state Legislature and overriding local officials. Abbott’s executive measures have solidified his conservative base and dramatically raised his national profile. Lower courts have occasionally ruled against Abbott, but Texas’ all-Republican highest court has sided with the governor, dismissing many of the cases on procedural grounds. Other challenges to Abbott’s use of executive power are still pending. In no case have the governor’s actions been permanently halted.
Texas – Texas Agencies’ Plan to Monitor Harris County Elections Raises Concerns Among Observers
Houston Public Media – Adam Zuvanich | Published: 10/19/2022
The Texas secretary of state’s office, in a letter submitted days before the start of early voting for the 2022 midterm election, informed Harris County it will send a team of inspectors and election security trainers to observe and help administer the November 8 election in the state’s largest metropolitan area. Representatives of state Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is on the ballot, also will be present to “immediately respond to any legal issues” raised by the inspectors, poll watchers, and others.
Washington – Facebook Parent Company Fined $25M for WA Campaign Finance Violations
Seattle Times – David Gutman | Published: 10/26/2022
A judge fined Facebook parent company Meta nearly $25 million for repeatedly and intentionally violating Washington’s campaign finance law. King County Superior Court Judge Douglass North issued the maximum possible fine after finding the company had, between 2019 and 2021, violated a longstanding disclosure law 822 separate times. Each fine carried a penalty of $30,000. It is the largest campaign finance penalty ever issued in the U.S., state Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office said.
Washington DC – Bowser Fires Official Who Took Job at insurer after Medicaid Procurement
MSN – Julie Zauzmer Weil and Michael Brice-Saddler (Washington Post) | Published: 10/26/2022
A week after the District of Columbia Council awarded multibillion-dollar contracts for insuring Medicaid patients to three companies seeming to end a years-long struggle to right the city’s Medicaid system after court and council fights, Mayor Muriel Bowser called for a new investigation related to the procurement process. Bowser fired the interim director of the Office of Policy and Legislative Affairs after he took a new job with the parent company of one of the insurers awarded the lucrative contract. Bowser referred him to the city’s ethics board and inspector general.
October 27, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Tennessee: “Election Watchdog Disputes Harwell Claim That Shifting State Funds to Federal Campaign Was Legit” by Sam Stockard for Tennessee Lookout Elections National: “How Votes Are Cast and Counted Is Increasingly Decided in Courtrooms” by Patrick Marley (Washington […]
Tennessee: “Election Watchdog Disputes Harwell Claim That Shifting State Funds to Federal Campaign Was Legit” by Sam Stockard for Tennessee Lookout
National: “How Votes Are Cast and Counted Is Increasingly Decided in Courtrooms” by Patrick Marley (Washington Post) for MSN
Ohio: “2 Conservatives Accused in Hoax Robocall Scheme Plead Guilty” by Mark Gillispie (Associated Press) for MSN
Arizona: “A Retiree Served Food to the Homeless for Years. Then It Got Her Arrested.” by Jonathan Edwards (Washington Post) for MSN
Georgia: “Trump Chief of Staff Meadows Ordered to Testify Before Ga. Grand Jury” by Amy Wang and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) for MSN
Illinois: “Federal Oversight of Cook County Assessor’s Hiring to End; Supervision Tied to Decades-Old Shakman Patronage Lawsuit” by A.D. Quig (Chicago Tribune) for MSN
Michigan: “Michigan Jury Finds Three Men Guilty of Aiding Plot to Kidnap Governor” by Tyler Clifford and Brendan O’Brien (Reuters) for MSN
National: “Law Firms Eager for US Regulatory Clarity on Foreign Lobbying” by Ben Penn for Bloomberg Law
California: “LA Councilwoman Raman Seeks Action on Lobbying Reforms” by City News Service for MSN
October 26, 2022 •
City Council approved a special election to fill the empty District 6 seat on April 4, 2023, with a runoff taking place June 27 if necessary. The election follows Nury Martinez’s resignation after a leaked conversation about redistricting was made […]
City Council approved a special election to fill the empty District 6 seat on April 4, 2023, with a runoff taking place June 27 if necessary.
The election follows Nury Martinez’s resignation after a leaked conversation about redistricting was made public.
In the recording, Martinez with fellow council members Gil Cedillo and Kevin De Leon were heard using racist and demeaning language when discussing how to manipulate the city’s redistricting process.
After pressure for all three to resign, only Martinez has stepped down.
State and Federal Communications, Inc. provides research and consulting services for government relations professionals on lobbying laws, procurement lobbying laws, political contribution laws in the United States and Canada. Learn more by visiting stateandfed.com.