October 11, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Montana: “GOP House Candidate Paid Vendors with Bad Checks and Misreported Debts” by Arren Kimbel-Sannit for Montana Free Press Elections National: “Why Little-Noticed State Legislative Races Could Be Hugely Consequential” by Nick Corasaniti (New York Times) for Yahoo […]
Montana: “GOP House Candidate Paid Vendors with Bad Checks and Misreported Debts” by Arren Kimbel-Sannit for Montana Free Press
National: “Why Little-Noticed State Legislative Races Could Be Hugely Consequential” by Nick Corasaniti (New York Times) for Yahoo News
Georgia: “GOP Crisis in Herschel Walker Race Was Nearly Two Years in the Making” by Isaac Arnsdorf, Ashley Parker, Michael Scherer, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Steele Dossier Source Heads to Trial, in Possible Last Stand for Durham” by Salvadore Rizzo and Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “Nury Martinez Steps Down as L.A. City Council President” by Julia Wick, Dakota Smith, David Zahniser, and Benjamin Oreskes (Los Angeles Times) for Yahoo News
Ohio: “Steve Dackin, One-Time Ohio Schools Superintendent, Signs Settlement Agreement for Ethics Violations, Avoids Criminal Prosecution” by Laura Hancock (Cleveland Plain Dealer) for MSN
New York: “New York Lobbyists Hold Sway in Spite of Shake-Ups, Scandals” by Rebekah Ward (Albany Times Union) for Poli-Ticks
Ohio: “Ohio Is About to Hold Elections for Unconstitutional Congressional and Legislative Districts. Here’s How It Happened” by Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) for MSN
October 10, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Iowa: “Iowa Board Requires ‘Paid for By’ Statements on Some Political Texts” by Laura Bellin for Bleeding Heartland Washington: “Judge: Facebook intentionally violated WA campaign finance law 822 times” by David Gutman for Seattle Times Elections National: “A […]
Iowa: “Iowa Board Requires ‘Paid for By’ Statements on Some Political Texts” by Laura Bellin for Bleeding Heartland
Washington: “Judge: Facebook intentionally violated WA campaign finance law 822 times” by David Gutman for Seattle Times
National: “A Majority of GOP Nominees – 299 in All – Deny the 2020 Election Results” by Amy Gardner (Washington Post) for MSN
Montana: “How Montana’s New Election Laws Failed Legal Muster” by Alex Sakariassen for Montana Free Press
National: “First Proud Boys Leader Pleads Guilty to Jan. 6 Seditious Conspiracy” by Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) for MSN
Nevada: “How a Las Vegas Newsroom Set Out to Solve a Colleague’s Killing” by Sarah Ellison (Washington Post) for MSN
New York: “New State Ethics Watchdog Agrees to Chew on Old Cases” by Chris Bragg for Albany Times Union
National: “Top House Staffers Are Still Overwhelmingly White, Study Finds” by Jim Saska for Roll Call
October 7, 2022 •
National/Federal DataVault Requests US Election Agency’s Advice to Send NFTs as a Campaign Fundraising Incentive Cointelegraph – Turner Wright | Published: 10/4/2022 The legal team behind nonfungible token (NFT) firm DataVault Holdings requested an advisory opinion from the FEC on using […]
DataVault Requests US Election Agency’s Advice to Send NFTs as a Campaign Fundraising Incentive
Cointelegraph – Turner Wright | Published: 10/4/2022
The legal team behind nonfungible token (NFT) firm DataVault Holdings requested an advisory opinion from the FEC on using NFTs for campaign fundraising efforts. DataVault’s lawyers proposed sending NFTs as “souvenirs” to individuals who donated to political committees, as well as giving the token holder the option to use it for promoting a campaign “strictly on a volunteer basis and without any compensation.” The firm requested the FEC provide guidance on how it may operate as a commercial vendor, issuing the tokens to political committee members seemingly without violating federal campaign finance laws.
Election Officials Confront a New Problem: Whether they can trust their own poll workers
Yahoo News – Zach Montellaro (Politico) | Published: 10/4/2022
Election officials are growing concerned about a new danger in November: that groups looking to undermine election results will try to install their supporters as poll workers. The frontline election workers do everything from checking people in at voting locations to helping process mail ballots. Now, some prominent incidents involving poll workers have worried election officials that a bigger wave of trouble could be on the horizon.
In Trump White House, Classified Records Routinely Mishandled, Aides Say
MSN – Shane Harris, Josh Dawsey, Ellen Nakashima, and Jacqueline Alemany (Washington Post) | Published: 10/4/2022
Aides who worked in Donald Trump’s White House were not surprised when the FBI found highly classified material in boxes at Mar-a-Lago mixed with news clippings and other items. During his four years in office, Trump never strictly followed the rules and customs for handling sensitive government documents, according to 14 officials from his administration. What those ex-Trump aides and advisers saw in an inventory of items recovered by the FBI in August – classified documents in boxes, stored alongside newspaper and magazine articles, books, and gifts – looked to them like the idiosyncratic filing system Trump used in the White House.
Justices Shield Spouses’ Work from Potential Conflict of Interest Disclosures
Yahoo News – Hailey Fuchs, Josh Gerstein, and Peter Canellos (Politico) | Published: 9/29/2022
Over the past year, Virginia Thomas has gotten attention for operating a consulting business that reportedly includes conservative activist groups with interest in U.S. Supreme Court decisions as clients. Her husband, Justice Clarence Thomas, has chosen not to reveal any of his wife’s clients, let alone how much they contributed to the Thomas family coffers, dating back to when her consulting business was founded. A Politico investigation shows potential conflicts involving justices’ spouses extend beyond the Thomas family.
Lawmakers Confront a Rise in Threats and Intimidation, and Fear Worse
MSN – Stephanie Lai, Luke Broadwater, and Carl Hulse (New York Times) | Published: 10/1/2022
Members of Congress in both parties are experiencing a surge in threats and confrontations as a rise in violent political speech has increasingly crossed over into the realm of in-person intimidation and physical altercation. In the months since the attack on the U.S. Capitol, which brought lawmakers and the vice president within feet of rioters threatening their lives, Republicans and Democrats have faced stalking, armed visits to their homes, vandalism, and assaults. It is part of a trend that many fear is only intensifying as lawmakers scatter to campaign and meet with voters around the country ahead of midterm congressional elections.
Politics Are Becoming Tougher to Avoid at Work, Survey Finds
MSN – Taylor Telford (Washington Post) | Published: 10/5/2022
Escalating political tensions in the workplace are creating problems for organizations as midterm elections draw nearer, a new survey found. About 26 percent said they have personally experienced differential treatment (positive and negative) because of their political views or affiliation, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Corporations are under pressure from employees and consumers to weigh in on political issues. But the rise of politics in the workplace has consequences for polarization across the country, said Johnny C. Taylor Jr., SHRM’s chief executive.
Pro-DeSantis Hybrid PAC to File Lawsuit Challenging Unfavorable FEC Ruling
OpenSecrets – Taylor Giorno | Published: 10/3/2022
The political committee Ready for Ron asked the FEC for permission to share a list of supporters and their contact information with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to encourage him to run for president in 2024. The FEC ruled that Ready for Ron cannot share the list if DeSantis becomes a federal candidate or begins “testing the waters” for federal office, as the value would exceed the federal campaign contribution limit. The commission deadlocked on whether Ready for Ron could share the list if DeSantis is not testing the waters or running for federal office. The PAC plans to fille a lawsuit challenging the FEC’s decision.
Supreme Court to Scrutinize U.S. Protections for Social Media
MSN – Andrew Chung (Reuters) | Published: 10/3/2022
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a challenge to federal protections for internet and social media companies freeing them of responsibility for content posted by users. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the lawsuit, relying on as Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. It protects “interactive computer services” by ensuring they cannot be treated as the “publisher or speaker” of any information provided by other users. Democrats have faulted it for giving social media companies a pass for spreading hate speech and misinformation. Republicans painted it as a tool for censorship of voices on the right.
The Onion Files Supreme Court Amicus Brief Defending the Right to Parody
MSN – Rachel Pannett (Washington Post) | Published: 10/4/2022
A man who was arrested over a Facebook parody aimed at his local police department is trying to take his case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The satirical website The Onion filed an amicus brief in support of Anthony Novak. A jury found him not guilty, and he is trying to sue the city for damages. A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit, saying the police had qualified immunity, and an appeals court upheld that decision. “Americans can be put in jail for poking fun at the government?” the brief asked. “This was a surprise to America’s Finest News Source and an uncomfortable learning experience for its editorial team.”
Trump Asks Supreme Court to Intervene in Mar-a-Lago Search Case
MSN – Devlin Barrett and Robert Barnes (Washington Post) | Published: 10/4/2022
Former President Trump’s lawyers asked the Supreme Court to intervene in the Mar-a-Lago documents-seizure case, saying the special master appointed in the matter should be allowed to review the classified papers. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit granted the Justice Department’s request to keep about 100 classified documents separate from a review of documents being conducted by a court-appointed legal expert, called a special master. The department has launched a probe to determine if Trump or his advisers mishandled national security secrets or hid or destroyed government records.
U.S.: Oath Keepers, Rhodes attacked ‘bedrock of democracy’ on Jan. 6
MSN – Spencer Hsu, Rachel Weiner, and Tom Jackman (Washington Post) | Published: 10/3/2022
Members of the extremist group Oath Keepers led by Stewart Rhodes planned for an armed rebellion “to shatter a bedrock of American democracy” – the peaceful transfer of presidential power – culminating in their role in the attack on the U.S. Capitol, a prosecutor said in the first seditious conspiracy trial of the January 6 investigation. Rhodes’ defense attorney Philip Linder said Oath Keepers came to Washington as “peacekeeping” security guards, believing then-President Trump could invoke the Insurrection Act to mobilize private militias, put down riots, and remain in power.
From the States and Municipalities
Alabama – Supreme Court Debates Alabama’s Refusal of Second Black Voting District
MSN – Robert Barnes (Washington Post) | Published: 10/4/2022
The U.S. Supreme Court’s liberal justices combined for an aggressive and unified defense against Alabama’s efforts to limit creation of voting districts in which minorities have the ability to elect candidates of their choice. The case is another major test of the Voting Rights Act, which the court’s conservative majority has diluted in recent years. At the end of oral arguments, it appeared a majority of the court might not embrace Alabama’s request for a broad reinterpretation of how the law is enforced, and that a narrower compromise was a possibility.
Arkansas – Missouri Health Executives Plead Guilty in Widespread Fraud
Stamford Advocate – Associated Press | Published: 9/29/2022
Two former executives of a Missouri health nonprofit pleaded guilty to their roles in a corruption scheme that ensnared several Arkansas elected officials and lobbyists, federal prosecutors said. Bontiea Goss and her husband, Tommy Goss, were executives at Preferred Family Healthcare, which provided services such as substance abuse treatments and counseling to people in Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Illinois. Federal prosecutors said the Gosses and other co-conspirators paid bribes and kickbacks to Arkansas lawmakers to obtain favorable legislation and other official actions that helped the nonprofit.
California – A Cannabis Bribe and Arson: Former Adelanto councilman sentenced to federal prison
MSN – Gregory Yee (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 10/3/2022
Former Adelanto City Councilperson Jermaine Wright was convicted of taking a $10,000 bribe to help open a cannabis business and hiring someone to burn down his restaurant for an insurance payout. He was sentenced to five years in federal prison. Wright told an informant the money had to go to a nonprofit set up to conceal their scheme and he would put the informant on the nonprofit’s board so they could receive the money as well, a pre-sentencing report said.
California – New State Law Could Curb Pay to Play Politics in Orange County & California
Voice of OC – Spencer Custodio | Published: 10/3/2022
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation that bars local elected officials voting on items benefitting contributors who donated more than $250 within the past 12 months. Elected officials could return the campaign donations within 14 days of finding out about the contribution, which would allow them to vote on the item. In Orange County, an FBI corruption investigation into Anaheim City Hall that touches on Disneyland resort area interests has put a renewed focus on campaign finance, spurring calls of campaign finance reform.
Florida – The Story Behind DeSanti’s Migrant Flights to Martha’s Vineyard
Yahoo News – Edgar Sandoval, Miriam Jordan, Patricia Mazzei, and J. David Goodman (New York Times) | Published: 10/2/2022
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a budget that set aside $12 million to create a program for transporting unauthorized migrants out of Florida. He touted it as the highlight of the state’s new spending when it came to immigration. But just three months later, the money was being used to round up Venezuelan asylum seekers on the streets of San Antonio and shipping them on private planes to Massachusetts. Details have begun to emerge of the clandestine mission. In the middle of it all was a woman with a background in military counterintelligence who investigators believe was sent to Texas from Tampa to fill the planes.
Georgia – Federal Judge Upholds Georgia Election Law in Challenge Brought by Abrams
MSN – Matthew Brown (Washington Post) | Published: 10/1/2022
A federal judge upheld Georgia’s election laws in a blow to Fair Fight Action, the voting rights group founded by Stacey Abrams, who also is the state’s Democratic gubernatorial nominee. Abrams’ group filed a lawsuit against the Georgia’s secretary of state soon after her 2018 election defeat, arguing the state’s absentee ballot policies, which require an “exact match” for names and addresses between voters’ IDs and voter registration records, represented “gross mismanagement” of the state’s election systems that violated Georgia voters’ constitutional rights.
Georgia – Georgia DA: GOP bankrolling lawyers for ‘fake’ Trump electors ‘rife with serious ethical problems’
Yahoo News – Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman | Published: 10/4/2022
The Georgia Republican Party is bankrolling the legal defense of most of the so-called fake electors in the state as part of a controversial arrangement that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis charges in a new court filing is “rife with serious ethical problems” and “actual conflicts-of-interest.” Wills has launched a sprawling probe into Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. Willis escalated the legal battle over the issue when she moved to disqualify the two lawyers being paid by the state GOP.
Georgia – Herschel Walker Paid for Girlfriend’s Abortion, Report Says
MSN – Bill Barrow (Associated Press) | Published: 10/3/2022
Herschel Walker, who has vehemently opposed abortion rights as the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Georgia, paid for an abortion for his girlfriend in 2009, according to a report. Walker called the accusation a “flat-out lie” and said he would sue. The Daily Beast reviewed a receipt showing her $575 payment for the procedure, along with a get-well card from Walker and her bank deposit records showing the image of a personal check from Walker dated five days after the abortion receipt. The woman said Walker encouraged her to end the pregnancy, saying the time was not right for a baby.
Louisiana – Louisiana Officials Use Campaign Cash to Buy LSU, Saints Tickets
Louisiana Illuminator – Julie O’Donoghue | Published: 10/4/2022
Forty-nine Louisiana politicians spent $181,600 from their campaign accounts and PACs on tickets to collegiate and professional sporting events in 2020 and 2021. Over half of those purchasing the tickets were state lawmakers, but the group also includes the governor, sheriffs, district attorneys, and a state Supreme Court justice. State law prohibits elected officials from using campaign money for “personal use,” but sports tickets have long been considered a legitimate expense. The practice is legal so long as officials can explain why the spending is related to their campaign or job, said Kathleen Allen, the state’s ethics administrator.
Maryland – Nash Seeking Clarity on Lobbying Rules After Ethics Decision
Yahoo News – Ryan Marshall (Frederick News-Post) | Published: 10/5/2022
Frederick Alderwoman Katie Nash will not challenge a decision by the city’s Ethics Commission that some of her professional lobbying activities violated city rules in court and is seeking guidance for future work. The commission found Nash, a lobbyist registered with the state, improperly emailed coordinators for various city Neighborhood Advisory Councils and others, encouraging them to raise concerns with the county about plans to shift coverage of paramedic services in parts of the city. Nash also asked that information about avoiding conflicts be made available to candidates when they file.
Massachusetts – Former State Police Union Boss Dana Pullman and Former Lobbyist Anne Lynch Face Trial for Alleged Kickback Schemes
MSN – Shelly Murphy (Boston Globe) | Published: 10/3/2022
Dana Pullman, the former leader of the Massachusetts State Police union, is on trial on charges he took kickbacks totaling $41,250 from a union lobbyist, Anne Lynch, and diverted thousands of dollars from the union for personal expenses, including flowers, gifts, a Florida vacation, and meals at upscale restaurants with a girlfriend. When announcing the charges in August 2019, federal authorities accused Pullman of running the union “like an old-school mob boss” and tapping the union’s account as if it was “his own personal piggy bank.”
Michigan – Michigan’s Proposal 1 Would Change Term Limits, Require Financial Disclosure for Lawmakers
Yahoo News – Clara Hendrickson (Detroit Free Press) | Published: 10/6/2022
Michigan voters will have a chance to decide this November whether they want to end the current term limits for state lawmakers in favor of reducing the total number of years lawmakers can serve in Lansing while increasing the number of times they can seek reelection in either chamber. The proposal would also establish new financial disclosure requirements for some elected officeholders. It would require annual reports describing their assets and sources of income, positions held outside of state government, agreements or arrangements regarding future employment, gifts and travel payments received, among other requirements.
Missouri – Missouri Ethics Commission Hobbled Again After Parson Pulls Appointees
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Jack Suntrup | Published: 9/29/2022
The Missouri Ethics Commission again is unable to function, at least temporarily, because it does not have enough members. Gov. Mike Parson removed three members of the panel on recently, said Liz Ziegler, executive director of the commission. Ziegler said Parson took the three members off the ethics commission “due to the special legislative session” the governor had called on tax relief.
Montana – Commissioner of Political Practices to Step Down Before Term Ends
Helena Independent Record – Sam Wilson | Published: 10/3/2022
Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Jeff Mangan announced on social media he will be retiring before his term ends, stepping down just before Election Day. Not since Dennis Unsworth’s departure at the end of 2010 has anyone served out a full term as commissioner. Past commissioners have at times come under fire for bringing a perceived partisan bias to their work investigating political complaints. Republican lawmakers have for years brought legislation seeking to disband the office or reduce the power commissioners wield.
New Mexico – NM Sen. Ivey-Soto Resigns from the Chairman Position of an Influential Committee
Source New Mexico – Shaun Griswold | Published: 9/29/2022
Fallout from a harassment complaint filed against New Mexico Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto has now affected his position of power as a lawmaker in Santa Fe. Ivey-Soto submitted a letter resigning as chairperson of the Senate Rules Committee. His resignation as chair shields lawmakers from having to take a public position on Ivey-Soto’s behavior at the Capitol. A meeting to discuss Senate committee assignments would have been the first public discussion and vote by lawmakers about Ivey-Soto after an investigation about sexual harassment allegations against Ivey-Soto.
New York – City Council Redistricting Drama Underscores Dropped Commission Ethics Policy
Gotham Gazette – Ethan Geringer-Sameth | Published: 10/3/2022
New York City’s redistricting process was thrown into disarray in September after the commission responsible for drawing new city council district lines voted down its own draft map. An aide to Mayor Eric Adams individually lobbied his appointees on the commission to vote no, activity the mayor has denied knowing about. There are few formal barriers in place to prevent conflicts-of-interest between the 15 redistricting commissioners and the elected officials who appointed them.
New York – Contender for Top NYC City Hall Post Left Trail of Penalties and Debt as a Lobbyist
MSN – Michael Gartland (New York Daily News) | Published: 10/3/2022
Tiffany Raspberry, who currently serves as a senior advisor for external affairs in New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ administration, is being considered as the mayor’s next chief of staff. Before her stint at City Hall, Raspberry worked as a lobbyist through her firm York Group Associates. The firm failed to follow city and state disclosure requirements dozens of times between 2011 and 2020, leading to nearly $38,000 in fines for late and incorrect filings. Records reveal Raspberry’s former clients are still registered to lobby on both the city and state levels.
New York – Hochul Says She Had No Role in New York’s $637M Deal with Campaign Donor
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 10/6/2022
Gov. Kathy Hochul said that before her staff authorized $637 million in payments to a major campaign donor, she was never asked to give final approval to the taxpayer-funded deal for COVID-19 tests from Digital Gadgets. The governor also said she was not briefed about the cost of the purchase orders, which were significantly higher than what other companies had charged for providing rapid tests to New York. Before finalizing the deals, Digital Gadgets had little history as a distributor of COVID-19 tests. The company’s chief executive officer, Charlie Tebele, held campaign fundraisers for Hochul around the time the contract was awarded.
Ohio – Cleveland Police Commander Faces Discipline for Hiding His Work with Private Security Companies, Failing to Pay Taxes
MSN – Adam Ferrise (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 9/28/2022
Cleveland police Commander Michael Butler faces accusations involving his work for private security companies, including that he hid from city officials his work for the businesses during a time he led the city’s efforts at staffing both officers and security firms for major events, according to an internal disciplinary letter. The city’s letter also said Butler broke state law by failing to pay taxes on income he had earned.
Ohio – FirstEnergy Fights to Keep Records Tied to Bribery Scheme from the Public
Ohio Capital Journal – Jake Zuckerman | Published: 10/5/2022
FirstEnergy, which has admitted to spending tens of millions of dollars bribing top government officials in Ohio, asked state regulators to shield documents about its bribes from release to the public. The company’s request will soon be decided by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, whose former chairperson, Sam Randazzo, allegedly accepted a $4.3 million bribe from the utility for favorable regulatory treatment. The records could unmask the identities of several government officials and energy executives that FirstEnergy anonymously identified in its deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department.
Ohio – Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose Creating Public Integrity Unit in Office Reorganization
MSN – Andrew Tobias (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 10/5/2022
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose is reorganizing his office to form a “public integrity” unit, a shuffling he said will include hiring of investigators with the authority to issue subpoenas to look into potential elections-related crimes. The secretary of state would make the decision on what cases to pursue. Any cases would be turned over to the attorney general’s office or local county prosecutors, which play a role in enforcing state criminal laws, or the Ohio Elections Commission, which is a clearinghouse for violations of state elections law. The move comes as increasing numbers of Republican voters view the accuracy of elections with suspicion.
Oklahoma – Okla. GOP Ties Hospital’s Covid Funds to End of Gender-Affirming Care
MSN – Kimberly Kindy (Washington Post) | Published: 10/4/2022
Oklahoma lawmakers added a controversial provision before awarding the state’s largest hospital system $108 million in pandemic relief funds. OU Health would only get the money if its Oklahoma Children’s Hospital stopped providing gender-affirming care. The move, which the governor signed into law, marks the first time that conservative state lawmakers have tied gender-affirming care to the receipt of funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. Some advocates worry it might embolden other Legislatures with GOP majorities to add similar restrictions before allocating money to publicly funded hospitals.
Oregon – City Elections Office Upholds Campaign Penalty Against Council Candidate Rene Gonzalez
Portland Mercury – Alex Zielinski | Published: 9/29/2022
Portland City Council candidate Rene Gonzalez’s appeal of a $77,000 campaign finance violation was rejected by the Small Donor Elections program. Gonzalez had argued that accepting a $250 monthly rate for an office rental in downtown Portland that normally goes for a monthly rate of $6,900 was not an in-kind contribution from property owner Jordan Schnitzer. According to Gonzalez, that is because vacancy rates are so high in downtown Portland the office would have gone unrented if his campaign had not occupied the space.
Pennsylvania – As TV Doctor, Mehmet Oz Provided Platform for Questionable Products and Views
MSN – Colby Itkowitz and Lenny Bernstein (Washington Post) | Published: 10/3/2022
As a Republican candidate for a U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania, a key battleground in the fight for control of the chamber, Mehmet Oz, a cardiothoracic surgeon, is putting his medical background and his popular television show at the center of his campaign pitch. But during the show’s run from 2009 to 2021, Oz provided a platform for potentially dangerous products and fringe viewpoints, aimed at millions of viewers, according to medical experts, public health organizations, and federal health guidance.
Pennsylvania – Unresolved Gray Areas in Pa. Mail Voting Law Likely to Spur Fresh Confusion, Legal Challenges
Spotlight PA – Stephen Caruso and Katie Meyer | Published: 10/5/2022
Some key questions on mail ballots remain unsettled in Pennsylvania, opening the door for more legal action and confusion after the upcoming gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races. State lawmakers in 2019 passed a bipartisan overhaul of the state’s election law and allowed no-excuse mail voting for the first time. That law does not say, for instance, whether counties should be able to contact voters who have submitted mail ballots with errors and allow them to fix them, a process known as ballot curing. The law also does not mention ballot drop boxes or how they should be regulated.
Texas – Ethics Commission Shelves Lobbying Complaint Against Austin Pets Alive! Employee
Austin Monitor – Chad Swiatecki | Published: 10/3/2022
The Ethics Review Commission opted not to move forward with a lobbying complaint against Katie Jarl, a member of the city’s Animal Advisory Commission who also works in a governmental affairs job for Austin Pets Alive (APA). The complaint was based on the likelihood that Jarl was involved in lobbying activity for APA in 2021 when it was negotiating with the city for a long-term lease for a shelter property. City laws bar a registered lobbyist from serving on boards and commissions.
Texas – Fort Worth City Manager Apologizes After Reprimanded for Trip with Sundance Square Owners
MSN – Lana Ferguson (Dallas Morning News) | Published: 10/5/2022
Fort Worth City Manager David Cooke was publicly reprimanded for taking a trip to Colorado on a private plane with Ed and Sasha Bass. Some argue the trip was, in part, to promote the city, but Cooke said it was a “personal trip with friends.” Cooke will remain in his role but must recuse himself from all city business tied to Sundance Square, which the Basses own, and the Downtown Public Improvement District. Mayor Mattie Parker and the city council said Cooke’s decision to take the Labor Day weekend trip to Aspen showed “questionable judgement” and that, when asked about it, he “exercised poor communication to the public.”
Virginia – IT Issues Stall Voter-Records Processing for 107,000 in Virginia
MSN – Laura Vozzella (Washington Post) | Published: 10/5/2022
Local registrars across Virginia began scrambling to process about 107,000 voter records dumped on them overnight by the state Department of Elections, where computer network failures had left applications in limbo for months. Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s office blamed unspecified technical problems for the backlog, which affected new voter registration applications, address updates, and other changes submitted through the Department of Motor Vehicles. Registrars do not face a hard deadline for processing registrations, but state law requires they notify voters of their polling place 15 days before an election.
Virginia – Virginia Paid Governor Youngkin’s Political Ad Agency $268K to Make a Tourism Ad – Featuring Youngkin.
Richmond Times-Dispatch – Patrick Wilson | Published: 10/5/2022
The political advertising agency behind Glenn Youngkin’s successful bid for Virginia governor, which created his branding, received a $268,600 contract from a state agency to produce a tourism video that heavily features Youngkin himself. The ad will appear in Virginia’s airports and welcome centers at a time when the governor is considering a run for president and is seeking to boost his national image. Poolhouse specializes in digital advertising for GOP candidates. It was formed in 2013 and has never performed marketing work for the state before the Youngkin tourism advertisement.
October 6, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “DataVault Requests US Election Agency’s Advice to Send NFTs as a Campaign Fundraising Incentive” by Turner Wright for Cointelegraph Virginia: “Virginia Paid Governor Youngkin’s Political Ad Agency $268k to Make a Tourism Ad – Featuring Youngkin.” by […]
National: “DataVault Requests US Election Agency’s Advice to Send NFTs as a Campaign Fundraising Incentive” by Turner Wright for Cointelegraph
Virginia: “Virginia Paid Governor Youngkin’s Political Ad Agency $268k to Make a Tourism Ad – Featuring Youngkin.” by Patrick Wilson for Richmond Times-Dispatch
Georgia: “Georgia DA: GOP bankrolling lawyers for ‘fake’ Trump electors ‘rife with serious ethical problems’” by Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman for Yahoo News
Pennsylvania: “Unresolved Gray Areas in Pa. Mail Voting Law Likely to Spur Fresh Confusion, Legal Challenges” by Stephen Caruso and Katie Meyer for Spotlight PA
National: “Politics Are Becoming Tougher to Avoid at Work, Survey Finds” by Taylor Telford (Washington Post) for MSN
Ohio: “FirstEnergy Fights to Keep Records Tied to Bribery Scheme from the Public” by Jake Zuckerman for Ohio Capital Journal
Oklahoma: “Okla. GOP Ties Hospital’s Covid Funds to End of Gender-Affirming Care” by Kimberly Kindy (Washington Post) for MSN
Maryland: “Nash Seeking Clarity on Lobbying Rules After Ethics Decision” by Ryan Marshall (Frederick News-Post) for Yahoo News
Alabama: “Supreme Court Debates Alabama’s Refusal of Second Black Voting District” by Robert Barnes (Washington Post) for MSN
October 5, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “Pro-DeSantis Hybrid PAC to File Lawsuit Challenging Unfavorable FEC Ruling” by Taylor Giorno for OpenSecrets Louisiana: “Louisiana Officials Use Campaign Cash to Buy LSU, Saints Tickets” by Julie O’Donoghue for Louisiana Illuminator Montana: “Commissioner of Political Practices […]
National: “Pro-DeSantis Hybrid PAC to File Lawsuit Challenging Unfavorable FEC Ruling” by Taylor Giorno for OpenSecrets
Louisiana: “Louisiana Officials Use Campaign Cash to Buy LSU, Saints Tickets” by Julie O’Donoghue for Louisiana Illuminator
Montana: “Commissioner of Political Practices to Step Down Before Term Ends” by Sam Wilson for Helena Independent Record
Georgia: “Herschel Walker Paid for Girlfriend’s Abortion, Report Says” by Bill Barrow (Associated Press) for MSN
National: “U.S.: Oath Keepers, Rhodes attacked ‘bedrock of democracy’ on Jan. 6” by Spencer Hsu, Rachel Weiner, and Tom Jackman (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Trump Asks Supreme Court to Intervene in Mar-a-Lago Search Case” by Devlin Barrett and Robert Barnes (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “The Onion Files Amicus Brief in Support of Ohio Man’s Facebook Page” by Jared Gans (The Hill) for Yahoo News
California: “A Cannabis Bribe and Arson: Former Adelanto councilman sentenced to federal prison” by Gregory Yee (Los Angeles Times) for MSN
New York: “Contender for Top NYC City Hall Post Left Trail of Penalties and Debt as a Lobbyist” by Michael Gartland (New York Daily News) for MSN
October 3, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Oregon: “Rene Gonzalez Campaign’s $77K Fine Over Rented Office Space Upheld” by Michaela Bourgeois (KOIN) for MSN Elections Georgia: “Federal Judge Upholds Georgia Election Law in Challenge Brought by Abrams” by Matthew Brown (Washington Post) for MSN Ethics […]
Oregon: “Rene Gonzalez Campaign’s $77K Fine Over Rented Office Space Upheld” by Michaela Bourgeois (KOIN) for MSN
Georgia: “Federal Judge Upholds Georgia Election Law in Challenge Brought by Abrams” by Matthew Brown (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Lawmakers Confront a Rise in Threats and Intimidation, and Fear Worse” by Stephanie Lai, Luke Broadwater, and Carl Hulse (New York Times) for MSN
National: “Justices Shield Spouses’ Work from Potential Conflict of Interest Disclosures” by Hailey Fuchs, Josh Gerstein, and Peter Canellos (Politico) for MSN
National: “Judge Rules Trump Lawyers Don’t Have to Clarify Mar-a-Lago Document Claims” by Perry Stein (Washington Post) for MSN
Arkansas: “Missouri Health Executives Plead Guilty in Widespread Fraud” by Associated Press for Stamford Advocate
Missouri: “Missouri Ethics Commission Hobbled Again After Parson Pulls Appointees” by Jack Suntrup for St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Ohio: “Cleveland Police Commander Faces Discipline for Hiding His Work with Private Security Companies, Failing to Pay Taxes” by Adam Ferrise (Cleveland Plain Dealer) for MSN
September 30, 2022 •
National/Federal Brooklyn’s Library Moves to Slip Books Through Red State Bans MSN – Madina Touré (Politico) | Published: 9/24/2022 The front line of America’s culture war now runs straight through the nation’s school libraries, with conservatives in dozens of states outlawing […]
Brooklyn’s Library Moves to Slip Books Through Red State Bans
MSN – Madina Touré (Politico) | Published: 9/24/2022
The front line of America’s culture war now runs straight through the nation’s school libraries, with conservatives in dozens of states outlawing books and instruction and the left working to shield targeted authors. Organizations in deep-blue New York are stepping into the fray by directly lending 25,000 books to non-residents since spring, including thousands of students living under the bans. Hundreds of titles have been shelved in nearly 3,000 schools across 26 states, according to the nonprofit free speech group PEN America.
D.C. Court Asked to Decide If Trump Denied Rape Claim as Part of Job
MSN – Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) | Published: 9/27/2022
A federal appeals court panel asked the District of Columbia’s highest court to decide whether Donald Trump was acting within the scope of his job as president when he denied a rape allegation dating back to the 1990s, a pivotal question that will determine whether the woman can keep pursuing a defamation lawsuit against him. A three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit overturned portions of a federal judge’s previous ruling allowing columnist E. Jean Carroll to pursue a defamation case against Trump over his denials of her rape allegation.
How Kevin McCarthy’s Political Machine Worked to Sway the GOP Field
Raleigh News and Observer – Michael Scherer, Josh Dawsey, Isaac Arnsdorf, and Marianna Sotomayor (Washington Post) | Published: 9/27/2022
The political machine around U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has spent millions of dollars this year in a sometimes secretive effort to systematically weed out Republican candidates who could either cause McCarthy trouble if he becomes speaker or jeopardize GOP victories in districts where a more moderate candidate might have a better chance at winning. The allies close to McCarthy have sometimes taken steps to conceal their efforts with money passing from top GOP donors through organizations that do not disclose their donors or have limited public records, federal disclosures show.
In a Big Jan. 6 Case, Oath Keepers Go on Trial for Seditious Conspiracy
NPR – Ryan Lucas | Published: 9/27/2022
In the highest-profile prosecution so far stemming from the attack on the U.S. Capitol, the founder of the Oath Keepers and four other individuals linked to the far-right, anti-government group are on trial, facing seditious conspiracy and other charges stemming from the deadly assault. Stewart Rhodes, who established the Oath Keepers in 2009, and his co-defendants are accused of spending months recruiting, training, and conspiring to use force to prevent the transfer of presidential power to Joe Biden. Prosecutors allege the plot included stashing guns just outside Washington, D.C for a quick reaction force to rush into the city if necessary.
Inside the Civil Rights Campaign to Get Big Tech to Fight the ‘Big Lie’
MSN – Naomi Nix (Washington Post) | Published: 9/22/2022
A coalition of five dozen civil rights organizations is criticizing Silicon Valley’s biggest social media companies for not taking more aggressive measures to counter election misinformation on their platforms in the months leading up to November’s midterm elections. Comments by civil rights activists shed light on the political pressures tech companies face behind the scenes as they make high-stakes decisions about which potentially rule-breaking posts to leave up or take down in a campaign season in which hundreds of congressional seats are up for grabs.
Lawmakers, Challengers Plan Fundraising Blitz Ahead of Friday Deadline
MSN – Kate Ackley (Roll Call) | Published: 9/28/2022
Lawmakers and challengers are planning a fundraising blitz ahead of the quarterly deadline, the last big one before the November midterms, which are on track to be the priciest nonpresidential cycle yet. The onslaught of appeals includes desperate-sounding emails, as well as more than 100 in-person events for members of both parties to raise campaign money from K Street lobbyists and PAC donors while Congress is in session. The uncertainty of which parties will control the Senate and House next year has helped to motivate donors.
Nancy Pelosi’s Congressional Stock Trading Ban Has a Massive Blind Trust Loophole and Is Too Broad, Ethics Experts Warn
MSN – Bryan Metzger (Business Insider) | Published: 9/28/2022
House Democratic leaders have released the text of a bill that would ban members of Congress, senior congressional staff, Supreme Court justices, and members of the executive branch from owning or trading individual stocks. Ethics experts are already warning that the bill, called the Combatting Financial Conflicts of Interest in Government Act, has a major flaw when it comes to blind trusts. The Project on Government Oversight noted a provision that allows for the creation of blind trusts that do not comply with existing regulations currently outlined in the Ethics in Government Act, which the bill would amend.
Project Veritas Loses Jury Verdict to Democratic Consulting Firm
MSN – Jonathan Stempel (Reuters) | Published: 9/23/2022
A federal jury found Project Veritas, a conservative group often accused of using deceptive tactics, liable for violating wiretapping laws and misrepresenting itself in an undercover effort to target Democratic political consultants. Democracy Partners claimed it had been infiltrated by a Project Veritas operative who lied about her name and background to obtain an internship during the 2016 presidential campaign, and secretly recorded conversations while working there.
Rep. Lauren Boebert’s Campaign May Be Violating Election Law in Trying to Sell Her
MSN – Zach Everson (Forbes) | Published: 9/27/2022
U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert’s campaign has placed advertisements directing supporters to buy her new memoir from retailers, an arrangement that may violate campaign finance laws. Boebert’s ad on WinRed directs supporters to buy her books from retailers like Amazon, which could theoretically lead to royalties. A spokesperson for Boebert’s campaign said the ad follows previous guidance from the FEC but a campaign finance law expert, Brett Kappel, disagrees.
Republicans Block Probe of Contributions by Chinese Elites to Trump PAC Through Spa Operator
MSN – Sheridan Wall (McClatchy) | Published: 9/27/2022
Campaign finance complaints against an Asian day-spa operator from South Florida who allegedly funneled contributions from Chinese elites, likely including foreign nationals, to a campaign committee backing then-President Trump have been dismissed. The action by the FEC came despite a staff finding that laws likely were broken. A Miami Herald investigation found that over an 18-month period, Yang published online ads targeting overseas clients – mostly from China – promoting Trump fundraisers as opportunities to mingle with the then-president, his family, and other top Republicans.
Supreme Court to Hear 2 Cases with Major Implications for 2024
MSN – Zach Montellaro (Politico) | Published: 9/29/2022
The U.S. Supreme Court will consider a case out of North Carolina that asks the justices to revoke the ability of state courts to review election laws under their states’ constitutions. A validation of the so-called Independent State Legislature theory underpinning the case could reshape American elections. Another case from Alabama involves a challenge to the state’s congressional map and whether Black voters’ power was illegally diluted. The result could kick back open congressional redistricting in several states two years after the entire nation went through a redraw.
Top State Judges Make a Rare Plea in a Momentous Supreme Court Election Case
DNyuz – Adam Liptak (New York Times) | Published: 9/26/2022
The Conference of Chief Justices, a group representing the top state judicial officers in the nation, filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in a politically charged election-law case. The brief urged the court to reject a legal theory pressed by Republicans that would give state Legislatures extraordinary power. If the Supreme Court adopts the theory, it will radically reshape how federal elections are conducted by giving state lawmakers independent authority, not subject to review by state courts, to set election rules in conflict with state constitution.
Trump Lawyers Argue to Limit White House Aides’ Testimony to Jan. 6 Grand Jury
MSN – Jacqueline Alemany, Spencer Hsu, Devlin Barrett, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 9/23/2022
Lawyers for former President Trump have entered a high-stakes legal battle seeking to limit the scope of former top White House aides’ testimony to a federal grand jury that is investigating efforts to overturn the 2020 elections. The action sets up a potentially precedent-setting struggle that could affect the Justice Department’s investigation of the Capitol attack and address the scope of a former president’s assertion of executive or attorney-client privilege to preserve the confidentiality of advisers’ communications.
Trump Objects to Verifying List of Property Seized from Florida Estate – Court Filing
Reuters – Jacqueline Thomsen and Sarah Lynch | Published: 9/29/2022
Lawyers for former President Trump are resisting a federal judge’s instruction to submit a sworn declaration on whether they believe the government’s list of property taken from Trump’s Florida estate is accurate. The former president’s legal team told Judge Raymond Dearie, who is reviewing the materials taken in the federal raid of the Florida property, that they do not believe Dearie has the authority to require them to make such a filing. Trump has repeatedly claimed without evidence that the FBI planted evidence.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – Arizona Supreme Court Says Lone Arizona Regulator Bob Burns Can Seek Utility Docs
MSN – Bob Christie (Associated Press) | Published: 9/28/2022
The Arizona commission that regulates utilities cannot prevent a single member from issuing subpoenas to investigate companies the panel oversees, the state Supreme Court ruled. The former commissioner who filed the case, Bob Burns, said the ruling will prevent others on the commission from uniting to shield utilities from scrutiny. Burns has fought for years to get the state’s largest electric utility to acknowledge it spent millions to elect two Arizona Corporation Commission members in the 2014 election.
Arizona – As More States Create Election Integrity Units, Arizona Is a Cautionary Tale
MSN – Beth Reinhard and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez (Washington Post) | Published: 9/26/2022
A Washington Post examination of an endeavor in Arizona to systematically ferret out voter fraud found it has turned up few cases and rather than bolster confidence in elections, the absence of massive fraud has fueled more bogus theories and distrust. Arizona’s experience shows the damaging consequences that can result when public officials use their power to reinforce false claims that voter fraud is a significant issue in American elections.
Arkansas – Arkansas Senate Suspends Clark, Strips Him of Seniority for Filing Frivolous Ethics Complaint
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette – Michael Wickline | Published: 9/27/2022
The Arkansas Senate voted to suspend Sen. Alan Clark and strip him of seniority until the regular session begins on January 9. Clark filed an ethics complaint against Sen. Stephanie Flowers alleging she violated the chamber’s code of ethics by accepting legislative per diem payments for participating by Zoom in the Senate’s regular session meetings in 2021. The Senate found that complaint was frivolous.
California – Despite Scandals, Key California Politicians Glide Toward Reelection. Here’s Why
MSN – Mackenzie Mays and Hannah Wiley (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 9/28/2022
Three of California’s eight statewide constitutional officers up for reelection in November, all Democrats, have had missteps or faced allegations of misconduct during their first four years in office, but voters do not seem to mind. June’s primary election results show all three are likely to cruise to reelection, a phenomenon that political analysts chalk up to the power of incumbency, California’s polarized politics, and voter apathy toward lesser-known offices.
California – Gov. Gavin Newsom Signs Law Inspired by $2 Million Bounty to Influence Insurance Commissioner
MSN – Sophia Bollag (San Francisco Chronicle) | Published: 9/22/2022
Lobbyists in California are prohibited from charging “success fees” for achieving a desired outcome for their clients. But an investigation by The Sacramento Bee earlier this year revealed that loopholes allowed some companies to pay those fees to influence some decisions by state officials without having to report them. Under a new law, paid efforts to influence decisions or approvals by the insurance commissioner and the director of the Department of Managed Health Care are considered lobbying and lobbyists would have to disclose such activity.
Colorado – Colorado Adopts New Contribution Limits for School Board Campaigns
Colorado Politics – Hannah Metzger | Published: 9/23/2022
The Colorado secretary of state’s office adopted new campaign finance regulations to implement contribution limits passed earlier this year. The changes stem from two bills approved during this year’s legislative session and signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis: House Bill 1060, which caps donation amounts made to school board candidates, and House Bill 156, which updates reporting requirements for public officials.
Connecticut – Some Bridgeport Politicians Scored Free Tickets to Sound on Sound
MSN – Brian Lockhart (Connecticut Post) | Published: 9/27/2022
When tens-of-thousands of music lovers convened at Bridgeport’s Seaside Park for the first Sound on Sound music festival, some of the city’s elected leaders and department heads were among them. But unlike those other ticket holders, these officials received free admission. Howard Saffan, the developer of the concert amphitheater and one of the partners behind Sound on Sound, said no official was given free tickets. He said certain individuals, such as the mayor police chief, were all granted “credentials” for access.
Florida – Florida Migrant-Moving Company Gave GOP Cash, Has Ties to DeSantis’ Immigration ‘Czar’ and Rep. Matt Gaetz
MSN – Marc Caputo (NBC News) | Published: 9/22/2022
The air charter company Gov. Ron DeSantis’s administration hired for his controversial migrant-moving program has contributed money to some top allies of the governor and was once legally represented by Rep. Matt Gaetz and his former partner, who is now Florida’s “public safety czar” in charge of immigration policy. The administration has refused to release a copy of the $12 million contract with Vertol Systems Company for its role in administering the “unauthorized alien” program nor will the governor’s office comment on the $1.6 million the firm has received to send migrants to so-called “sanctuary” cities.
Georgia – Georgia to Replace Voting Machines in Coffee County After Alleged Security Breach
MSN – Amy Garder, Emma Brown, and Jon Swaine (Washington Post) | Published: 9/23/2022
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced he intends to replace some election equipment in a county where forensics experts working last year for pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell copied virtually every component of the voting system. Some election-security experts have voiced concerns the copying of the Coffee County software, used statewide in Georgia, risks exposing the entire state to hackers, who could use the copied software as a road map to find and exploit vulnerabilities. Raffensperger’s office has said security protocols would make it virtually impossible for votes to be manipulated without detection.
Hawaii – Hawaii Commission Fines Kai Kahele’s Campaign for Illegal Solicitations
Honolulu Civil Beat – Blaze Lovell | Published: 9/22/2022
The Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission fined U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele’s gubernatorial campaign $1,000 for improperly soliciting donations from lists of donors who had contributed to David Ige’s 2014 run for governor. Ige’s office got a complaint from a constituent about a letter from Kahele’s campaign asking for a donation. “I found this [letter] very annoying … how did Kahele get this info?” the message read. The governor’s office forwarded the complaint to campaign spending commission staff, which also obtained the letter from Kahele’s campaign asking for a small-dollar contribution.
Idaho – They’re Women. They’re LDS. And They’re Speaking Their Minds on Politics.
Idaho Capital Sun – Audrey Dutton | Published: 9/28/2022
Many members of the Idaho chapter of Mormon Women for Ethical Government (MWEG) are women who, faithful to a religion that tends to be culturally conservative and Republican-aligned, describe being alarmed by the increasing vitriol and manufactured outrage in the state’s politics. Nationally, MWEG is focused on protecting democracy, bipartisan immigration reform, environmental issues, and anti-racism efforts. Chapters have leeway in what they choose to work on. One rule is some topics are off-limits – same-sex marriage and abortion, for example – because they have proven to be incendiary even in a group that strives for rational debate.
Illinois – ‘Deceptive’ Chicago City Wire Hitting Mailboxes Looks Like a Newspaper. But It’s Really a Conservative Campaign Mailer
Book Club Chicago – Noah Asimow | Published: 9/23/2022
The Chicago City Wire has appeared in thousands of mailboxes in the city and suburbs recently. It looks like any local newspaper, but its content and funders tell a different story. The publication and others like it are a product of Local Government Information Services, which is responsible for dozens of conservative news sites in Illinois. Residents said they did not subscribe to the newspapers but assumed the publications were legitimate. While media law experts said the publications were protected by the First Amendment, they said they were essentially political mailers, intentionally disguised as newspapers.
Kentucky – Officials Testify About Kentucky’s Troubled Campaign Finance Reporting System
Spectrum News – Joe Ragusa | Published: 9/28/2022
State lawmakers said they may cut ties with a company tasked with overhauling Kentucky’s campaign finance reporting system. Sen. Damon Thayer, who sponsored the 2019 legislation requiring online reporting, said he is considering a bill to switch back to paper filing for 2023 so they can bring on a new company to rework the filing system. “This has been a complete and utter failure,” Thayer said. Several lawmakers detailed their individual issues with the system during a legislative committee meeting.
Maine – Defense Contractor Pleads Guilty to Making Illegal Contributions to Sen. Collins 2020 Campaign
Lewiston Sun Journal – Colin Woodard (Portland Press Herald) | Published: 9/28/2022
The former chief executive of a defense firm pleaded guilty to illegally funneling more than $200,000 to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins’ campaign and a PAC that supported her 2020 reelection campaign. Martin Kao, head of the engineering firm Navatek, was charged with violating federal laws prohibiting defense contractors from making such contributions. Prosecutors alleged he and two other company executives had engaged in a conspiracy to funnel the money through family members and a shell company. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy, funneling contributions, and two counts of making false statements to authorities.
Michigan – Slotkin Renting Lansing Condo from Campaign Donor, Business Executive
MLive – Jordyn Hermani | Published: 9/23/2022
U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin is reportedly leasing a residency in Lansing from a medical manufacturing firm executive and donor to her congressional campaign. The firm, Niowave, is a business which manufactures medical radioisotopes. Jerry Hollister, a member of Niowave’s board and director of government relations for the firm, is the official owner of the condo which Slotkin is renting according to a copy of the lease. News of this has led for some conservative groups to question the nature of the relationship between Hollister and Slotkin, saying his company has benefitted from her time in office.
Missouri – Former Page Appointee to Plead Guilty to Corruption Charges
MSN – Christine Byers (KSDK) | Published: 9/28/2022
A former high-level political appointee of St. Louis County Executive Sam Page is expected to plead guilty to federal corruption charges involving a COVID-19 relief funds fraud scheme. Tony Weaver, who Page appointed as the change management coordinator at the county Justice Services Center, was indicted along with three St. Louis alderman after an FBI informant wore a wire capturing them involved in a series of alleged schemes. Weaver is accused of participating in a plan to get COVID-19 relief funds for local businesspeople in exchange for a share of the money.
New Mexico – New Mexico Supreme Court Rules Ethics Violation Isn’t Necessarily a Crime
KRQE – Anna Padilla | Published: 9/26/2022
The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that an ethical violation by a public official is not a crime. Their ruling focused on four high-profile cases that were all charged under a new statute passed by the Legislature. The ruling reverses the appeals court, which stated the ethics legislation created a criminal charge. The Supreme Court were ruling on whether the law was written so loosely that it should not be used as a criminal statute.
New York – Hochul Campaign Hired Son of Donor Tied to $637M ‘Pay-to-Play’ COVID Deal
New Yorl Post – Zach Williams, Bernadette Hogan, and Bruce Golding | Published: 9/28/2022
The son of a major donor to New York Gov. Kathy Hochul was hired by her campaign right around the time his father hosted a fundraiser for the governor and just weeks before the family’s company obtained a deal to sell the state $637 million in overpriced COVID-19 tests. James Tebele began working for Hochul’s campaign as a finance intern in November and appears to have risen in the ranks, or at least pay scale, of her campaign as his father’s fundraising for the governor increased.
New York – Lawsuit Seeks to Strike Key Plank of NY Ethics Law
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 9/26/2022
A lawsuit is seeking to strike down a key provision of New York’s revamped ethics law that Gov. Kathy Hochul has touted as creating greater independence for the state’s new watchdog panel. The lawsuit challenging the new commission’s confirmation process was filed by Gary Lavine, who was nominated to serve by Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt. Lavine’s nomination was rejected by a panel established to scrutinize candidates. Lavine is seeking a judgment that giving a “committee of private citizens” power to confirm or veto nominees violates three articles of New York’s constitution, including one reserving that confirmation power for the state Senate.
Ohio – Ex-PUCO Chair Sam Randazzo Scores Legal Win as Appeals Court Overturns Order to Seize $8 Million in Assets
MSN – Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 9/28/2022
A state appeals court panel overturned a lower court order allowing the state attorney general’s office to seize up to $8 million in assets from Sam Randazzo, handing a legal win to the former chairperson of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. Randazzo, whom FirstEnergy admitted to paying $4.3 million in bribes, was accused by Attorney General Dave Yost of selling four properties worth a total of $4.8 million and transferring another $500,000 house to his son in order to prevent them from being potentially seized. Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge Chris Brown agreed to allow Yost’s office to freeze up to $8 million.
Oregon – Portland City Council Hopeful Rene Gonzalez Fires Back at Elections Officials, Demands They Waive $77,000 Fine
Portland Oregonian – Shane Dixon Kavanaugh | Published: 9/27/2022
Portland City Council candidate Rene Gonzalez formally asked elections officials to waive a $77,000 fine, arguing a deeply discounted downtown office space he received from a wealthy supporter does not run afoul of the city’s campaign finance rules. Since May, Gonzalez’s campaign has paid a $250 a month to rent the space Susan Mottet, director of Portland’s Small Donor Elections Program, said that is just a fraction of the $6,900 a month “fair market value” for the office. The unreported, 96 percent discount was also an illegal in-kind contribution under the city’s public matching funds program, alleged Mottet.
Pennsylvania – Final Lobby Order Issued
Pennsylvania Newsroom – Staff | Published: 9/19/2022
The State Ethics Commission fined Cigna $42,700 for violations of Pennsylvania’s lobbying law. The commission found Cigna failed to file on time with the Department of State either a quarterly expense report or statement of failure to meet the reporting threshold for the fourth quarter of 2021.
Pennsylvania – Mayoral Candidate Cherelle Parker Became a Harrisburg Lobbyist Days After Resigning from City Council
MSN – Sean Collins Walsh (Philadelphia Inquirer) | Published: 9/28/2022
Philadelphia’s Home Rule Charter requires city officials to resign from their positions to run for an office other than the one they currently hold. The uncommon “resign to run” rule often puts city council members eyeing the mayor’s office in a difficult position because it means giving up their more than $130,000 salary. Mayoral candidate Cherelle Parker registered as a lobbyist in Harrisburg 12 days after she resigned her council seat. Ethics experts have long criticized the “revolving door” of former elected officials lobbying their former colleagues on behalf of corporate clients shortly after leaving government.
Pennsylvania – Retrial for Philadelphia Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson Set to Begin This Week
WHYY – Aaron Moselle | Published: 9/27/2022
Philadelphia City Councilperson Kenyatta Johnson is on trial again on bribery charges. During the lawmaker’s first trial earlier this year, a judge declared a mistrial, setting up a second proceeding that again threatens to end Johnson’s political career and send him to prison. The case centers on an alleged quid-pro-quo scheme involving Johnson, his wife Dawn Chavous, and two former nonprofit executives. Prosecutors say Johnson accepted nearly $67,000 in bribes from Universal Companies in exchange for political favors that benefited the organization, a developer, and charter school operator.
South Dakota – Noem’s State Plane Use Scrutinized
MSN – Stephen Groves (Associated Press) | Published: 9/24/2022
Several trips in 2019 where South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem blurred the lines between official travel and attending either family or political events sparked a complaint to the state ethics board, which has referred the matter to the Division of Criminal Investigation. A county prosecutor overseeing the investigation will decide whether the governor broke an untested law enacted by voters in 2006 to rein in questionable use of the state airplane.
Texas – Court Denies Paxton’s Request to Reverse Ruling Preventing AG Voter Fraud Investigations
MSN – Philip Jankowski and Allie Morris (Dallas Morning News) | Published: 9/28/2022
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rejected a request from state Attorney General Ken Paxton to reconsider a ruling that has hamstrung his office’s ability to investigate and prosecute election fraud. Judge Scott Walker said granting the attorney general the power to unilaterally prosecute voter fraud violates the separation of powers outlined in the Texas Constitution and “usurps” the power of district and county attorneys.
Washington – Spokane City Council Raises Campaign Contribution Cap to $1,000
Yahoo News – Colin Tiernan (Spokane Spokesman-Review) | Published: 9/27/2022
The Spokane City Council voted to change city law and raise the individual donor limit from $500 to $1,000. The law had allowed $1,000 donations for races in which a politician spent more than $11,500 of their own money, or a third party spent more than that amount supporting or opposing a candidate. Politicians have had to seek out more donors to fund their campaigns with the $500 cap, city councilperson Zack Zappone said. But he said that increase in donors has been overshadowed by an increase in independent expenditures.
September 29, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “How Kevin McCarthy’s Political Machine Worked to Sway the GOP Field” by Michael Scherer, Josh Dawsey, Isaac Arnsdorf, and Marianna Sotomayor (Washington Post) for Raleigh News and Observer National: “Lawmakers, Challengers Plan Fundraising Blitz Ahead of Friday […]
National: “How Kevin McCarthy’s Political Machine Worked to Sway the GOP Field” by Michael Scherer, Josh Dawsey, Isaac Arnsdorf, and Marianna Sotomayor (Washington Post) for Raleigh News and Observer
National: “Lawmakers, Challengers Plan Fundraising Blitz Ahead of Friday Deadline” by Kate Ackley (Roll Call) for MSN
Kentucky: “Officials Testify About Kentucky’s Troubled Campaign Finance Reporting System” by Joe Ragusa for Spectrum News
Maine: “Defense Contractor Pleads Guilty to Making Illegal Contributions to Sen. Collins 2020 Campaign” by Colin Woodard (Portland Press Herald) for Lewiston Sun Journal
California: “Despite Scandals, Key California Politicians Glide Toward Reelection. Here’s Why” by Mackenzie Mays and Hannah Wiley (Los Angeles Times) for MSN
National: “D.C. Court Asked to Decide If Trump Denied Rape Claim as Part of Job” by Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) for MSN
Arizona: “Arizona Supreme Court Says Lone Arizona Regulator Bob Burns Can Seek Utility Docs” by Bob Christie (Associated Press) for MSN
Idaho: “They’re Women. They’re LDS. And They’re Speaking Their Minds on Politics.” by Audrey Dutton for Idaho Capital Sun
Pennsylvania: “Mayoral Candidate Cherelle Parker Became a Harrisburg Lobbyist Days After Resigning from City Council” by Sean Collins Walsh (Philadelphia Inquirer) for MSN
September 27, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Colorado: “Colorado Adopts New Contribution Limits for School Board Campaigns” by Hannah Metzger for Colorado Politics Elections National: “Top State Judges Make a Rare Plea in a Momentous Supreme Court Election Case” by Adam Liptak (New York Times) […]
Colorado: “Colorado Adopts New Contribution Limits for School Board Campaigns” by Hannah Metzger for Colorado Politics
National: “Top State Judges Make a Rare Plea in a Momentous Supreme Court Election Case” by Adam Liptak (New York Times) for DNyuz
Arizona: “As More States Create Election Integrity Units, Arizona Is a Cautionary Tale” by Beth Reinhard and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez (Washington Post) for MSN
Illinois: “‘Deceptive’ Chicago City Wire Hitting Mailboxes Looks Like a Newspaper. But It’s Really a Conservative Campaign Mailer” by Noah Asimow for Book Club Chicago
National: “Brooklyn’s Library Moves to Slip Books Through Red State Bans” by Madina Touré (Politico) for MSN
National: “Trump Lawyers Argue to Limit White House Aides’ Testimony to Jan. 6 Grand Jury” by Jacqueline Alemany, Spencer Hsu, Devlin Barrett, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) for MSN
New York: “Lawsuit Seeks to Strike Key Plank of NY Ethics Law” by Chris Bragg for Albany Times Union
South Dakota: “Noem’s State Plane Use Scrutinized” by Stephen Groves (Associated Press) for MSN
September 26, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Hawaii: “Hawaii Commission Fines Kai Kahele’s Campaign for Illegal Solicitations” by Blaze Lovell for Honolulu Civil Beat Elections National: “Inside the Civil Rights Campaign to Get Big Tech to Fight the ‘Big Lie’” by Naomi Nix (Washington Post) […]
Hawaii: “Hawaii Commission Fines Kai Kahele’s Campaign for Illegal Solicitations” by Blaze Lovell for Honolulu Civil Beat
National: “Inside the Civil Rights Campaign to Get Big Tech to Fight the ‘Big Lie’” by Naomi Nix (Washington Post) for MSN
Georgia: “Georgia to Replace Voting Machines in Coffee County After Alleged Security Breach” by Amy Garder, Emma Brown, and Jon Swaine (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Project Veritas Loses Jury Verdict to Democratic Consulting Firm” by Jonathan Stempel (Reuters) for MSN
National: “Dearie Asks Trump Lawyers Whether They Believe FBI Lied About Seized Documents” by Perry Stein (Washington Post) for MSN
Florida: “Florida Migrant-Moving Company Gave GOP Cash, Has Ties to DeSantis’ Immigration ‘Czar’ and Rep. Matt Gaetz” by Marc Caputo (NBC News) for MSN
Michigan: “Slotkin Renting Lansing Condo from Campaign Donor, Business Executive” by Jordyn Hermani for MLive
California: “Gov. Gavin Newsom Signs Law Inspired by $2 Million Bounty to Influence Insurance Commissioner” by Sophia Bollag (San Francisco Chronicle) for MSN
September 23, 2022 •
National/Federal A Landmark Supreme Court Fight Over Social Media Now Looks Likely MSN – Robert Barnes and Ann Marimow (Washington Post) | Published: 9/19/2022 Conflicting lower court rulings about removing controversial material from social media platforms point toward a landmark U.S. […]
A Landmark Supreme Court Fight Over Social Media Now Looks Likely
MSN – Robert Barnes and Ann Marimow (Washington Post) | Published: 9/19/2022
Conflicting lower court rulings about removing controversial material from social media platforms point toward a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision on whether the First Amendment protects tech companies’ editorial discretion or forbids its censorship of unpopular views. The stakes are high not just for government and the companies, but because of the increasingly dominant role platforms such as Twitter and Facebook play in American democracy and elections. Social media posts have the potential to amplify disinformation or hateful speech, but removal of controversial viewpoints can stifle public discourse about important political issues.
Appeals Court: Justice Dept. can use Mar-a-Lago documents in criminal probe
MSN – Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 9/21/2022
An appeals court sided with the Justice Department in a legal fight over classified documents seized in a court-authorized search of former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, ruling the FBI may use the documents in its ongoing criminal investigation. The decision by a three-judge panel of the appeals court marks a victory for the Justice Department in its legal battle with Trump over access to the evidence to determine if the former president or his advisers mishandled national security secrets or hid or destroyed government records.
Apple Flexes Muscle as Quiet Power Behind App Group
Yahoo News – Emily Birnbaum (Bloomberg) | Published: 9/19/2022
The APP Association brands itself as the leading voice for thousands of app developers around the world. The majority of its funding comes from Apple, however. The tech giant is not a member of the association, but it plays a dominant behind-the-scenes role shaping the group’s policy positions, according to four former App Association employees. In fact, critics note, the association’s lobbying agenda tracks closely with Apple’s even when it is at odds with app developers, the companies that make the individual games and programs that run on Apple’s iPhone and other devices.
DeSantis Draft Effort Pushes Ahead After Campaign Finance Watchdog Deadlocks
MSN – Zach Montellaro (Politico) | Published: 9/15/2022
An effort to draft Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis into the 2024 presidential race promised to proceed with an unusual attempt to boost his would-be campaign, after the FEC deadlocked on a request for guidance about whether the strategy was legal. Ready for Ron is a federal PAC that wants to build a list of up to 1 million people urging DeSantis to run. But with those names, the group wants to deliver would-be supporters’ email addresses and phone numbers to DeSantis. The FEC has said candidates can rent or buy supporter lists compiled by other groups, but they cannot accept something of such value as a gift without breaking contribution limits.
Fugitive in Massive Navy Bribery Case Caught in Venezuela
Yahoo News – Associated Press | Published: 9/22/2022
Leonard Francis, a Malaysian defense contractor nicknamed “Fat Leonard” who orchestrated one of the largest bribery scandals in U.S. military history, was arrested in Venezuela after fleeing before his sentencing. The arrest came on the eve of his scheduled sentencing in a federal court for a bribery scheme that lasted more than a decade and involved dozens of U.S. Navy officers. The U.S. government faces an uphill challenge returning the fugitive back to American soil.
Gaetz Sought Pardon Related to Justice Department Sex Trafficking Probe
MSN – Jacqueline Alemany and Amy Gardner (Washington Post) | Published: 9/17/2022
U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz told a former White House aide that he was seeking a preemptive pardon from then-President Trump regarding an investigation in which he is a target, according to testimony given to the House select committee investigating the attack on the Capitol. Asked by investigators if Gaetz’s request for a pardon was in the context of the Justice Department investigation into whether he violated federal sex trafficking laws, Johnny McEntee replied, “I think that was the context, yes,” according to people familiar with the testimony.
Greg Norman Finds Friendly Faces, Harsh Criticism on Capitol Hill Trip
MSN – Rick Maese (Washington Post) | Published: 9/21/2022
As a federal antitrust case winds its way through the court system, LIV Golf chief executive Greg Norman visited Capitol Hill, receiving mixed reviews from lawmakers as he tried to sell them on his breakaway tour that has upended the golf word. While some lawmakers seemed receptive to Norman, others questioned LIV Golf’s Saudi financing and said Congress should not spend time intervening in a business dispute between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour. LIV Golf and seven of its golfers have sued the PGA Tour, saying it violated antitrust laws, allegations the Justice Department is also reportedly probing.
House Passes Bill to Prevent Efforts to Subvert Presidential Election Results
MSN – Amy Wang (Washington Post) | Published: 9/21/2022
The House passed an electoral reform bill that seeks to prevent presidents from trying to overturn election results through Congress, the first vote on such an effort since the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob seeking to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral win. The Presidential Election Reform Act would clearly reaffirm the vice president has no role in validating a presidential election beyond acting as a figurehead who oversees the counting process, barring that person from changing the results.
Jan. 6 Committee Reaches Deal with Ginni Thomas for an Interview
MSN – Jacqueline Alemany and Azi Paybarah (Washington Post) | Published: 9/21/2022
The House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection reached an agreement with Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, to be interviewed by the panel in coming weeks. Virginia Thomas, a longtime conservative activist, pushed lawmakers and top Republican officials to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election, citing baseless claims of widespread voter fraud.
Old Money: How retirees are funding and fueling political candidates unlike ever before
Yahoo News – Madison Hall (Business Insider) | Published: 9/20/2022
Retirees are becoming one of the most powerful financial forces in politics as they spend their savings to fuel federal-level campaigns. By the 2020 election cycle, retirees accounted for more than 20 percent of contributions, amounting to more than $378 million. Retirees’ expanded influence coincides with the rapid increase in politicians fundraising by email and text message – and targeting older Americans with never-ending solicitations. Older Americans, many of whom are retired, tend to be more engaged politically and represent a larger share of each party’s base, said Sheila Krumholz, executive director at OpenSecrets.
Senate Republicans Block Bill to Require Disclosure of ‘Dark Money’ Donors
MSN – Amy Wang (Washington Post) | Published: 9/22/2022
Senate Republicans blocked legislation that would have required super PACs and other groups to disclose donors who give $10,000 or more during an election cycle, a blow to Democrats’ efforts to reform campaign finance laws. Spending in election cycles by corporations and the ultrawealthy through so-called dark money groups has skyrocketed since the 2010 Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. FEC, which allowed incorporated entities and labor unions to spend unlimited amounts of money to promote or attack candidates.
The ‘Cost’ of Voting in America: A look at where it’s easiest and hardest
Seattle Times – Nick Corasaniti and Allison McCann (New York Times) | Published: 9/21/2022
A new study ranks all 50 states based on the overall investment a resident must make, in time and resources, to vote. The 2022 edition of the Cost of Voting Index, a nonpartisan academic study that seeks to cut through the politics of voting access, focused on 10 categories related to voting, including registration, inconvenience, early voting, polling hours, and absentee voting. The study’s emphasis on early-voting options meant states like Washington and Oregon, where voting is conducted entirely by mail, ended up at the top of the rankings.
TikTok to Ban Campaign Fundraising, Require Verification for Political Accounts
MSN – Gina Martinez (CBS News) | Published: 9/21/2022
TikTok announced it is banning campaign fundraising on its platform. It also announced new policies for political accounts, including “mandatory verification.” The ban will include videos asking for donations, and videos from political parties directing people to a contribution page on their website. Verification will ensure that anyone watching content belonging to a government, politician, or political party account will know that the account is “genuine” and the source is “authentic.”
Trump Adviser’s Trial May Shed Light on Foreign Influence Campaigns
MSN – Rebecca Davis O’Brien (New York Times) | Published: 9/19/2022
The trial of Thomas Barrack, an informal adviser to former President Trump accused of acting as an unregistered agent of the United Arab Emirates, could shed light on how foreign governments jockeyed for access to the Trump administration, efforts that may have created lucrative opportunities for businesspeople close to the White House. Prosecutors have accused Barrack of using his sway with Trump to advance the interests of the Emiratis and of serving as a secret back channel for communications without disclosing his efforts to the attorney general, as the government contends that he should have.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – 14 AZ Lawmakers Took 9-Day Europe Trip Sponsored in Part by Lobbyists and More Are Coming
MSN – Ray Stern (Arizona Republic) | Published: 9/18/2022
Fourteen Arizona lawmakers took a free trip to Germany recently, where they met government and business officials. Lobbyist firms and taxpayers funded the lawmakers’ expenses as part of a state House international relations program. The trip may have had trade benefits, but lawmakers should still take care to avoid the perception they are receiving gifts that could influence their policy making, said John Pelissero of the Markula Center for Applied Ethics. The number of lawmakers and that they could take their spouses seemed excessive to Pelissero, who called the trip a “junket.”
California – Former USC Dean Admits to Arranging Bribery Payment for Mark Ridley-Thomas
Yahoo News – Michael Finnegan and Matt Hamilton (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 9/15/2022
A former University of Southern California dean agreed to plead guilty to bribery, admitting she arranged an illicit $100,000 payment for Mark Ridley-Thomas when he was on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in return for a university contract with the county. Marilyn Flynn’s admission of guilt strikes a major blow to Ridley-Thomas, now a Los Angeles city council member who has been suspended while he defends against federal charges of bribery, fraud, and conspiracy. Flynn’s plea also reduces the likelihood that evidence related to U.S. Rep. Karen Bass, the front-runner in the race for Los Angeles mayor, would get a public airing at trial.
California – Gov. Gavin Newsom Strips Fresno County Supervisors’ Power to Draw Election Lines
Sacramento Bee – Juan Esparza Loera | Published: 9/19/2022
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation to give redistricting duties in Fresno County to a 14-member commission. Assemblyperson Joaquín Arámbula said it was the only way to ensure the Latino community gets a fair chance at political representation after the next census. Arámbula and community organizations said county supervisors cannot be trusted to draw fair and equitable districts because supervisorial districts have changed little despite a spike in Latino population.
California – Legal Pot Spawned a Wave of Corruption, Threats and Secret Financial Deals for Politicians
MSN – Adam Elmahrek, Robert Lopez, and Ruben Vives (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 9/15/2022
California’s decision to legalize recreational cannabis ushered in a multibillion-dollar commercial market that officials in many small, struggling communities hoped would bring new jobs and an infusion of tax revenue. But the advent of commercial marijuana unleashed a wave of corruption that has rocked local governments across the state and left them with few effective tools to combat the problem. The industry has donated campaign money to local government officials as cannabis became a powerful special interest. Lobbyists and others say bribery and shakedowns have become so commonplace in licensing that it feels like a normal part of doing business.
California – Santa Clara Mayor Asks Newsom to Give Campaign Donor a Break
San Jose Spotlight – Joseph Geha | Published: 9/21/2022
Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor lobbied California Gov. Gavin Newsom to help a major real estate firm save money on the largest mixed-use development planned in the state, months before the developer made a six-figure donation to her campaign. Gillmor advocated that Related Companies should not be required to pay prevailing wages to workers. Related formed a local PAC to support Gillmor as she runs for reelection and funded it with $100,000. Executives from the company also donated to Gillmor’s mayoral election campaign in 2018, two years after the project was approved by the city council.
California – Trial of Corruption Case Against California Sheriff to Begin
Yahoo News – Associated Press | Published: 9/21/2022
A longtime San Francisco Bay Area sheriff is on trial on public corruption allegations involving her office’s granting of concealed-carry weapons permits and costly jail mismanagement. The unusual case against Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith is a civil process to seek removal of an elected official but is similar to a criminal case. The trial follows an investigation into allegations that Smith’s office traded concealed weapons permits for donations to her reelection campaign and mismanaged the jails, where mentally ill inmates died or were injured.
Florida – Jury Awards $3 Million to Garbage Contractor in Opa-locka Corruption Lawsuit
MSN – Tess Riski (Miami Herald) | Published: 9/20/2022
A jury awarded a $3 million judgment to a garbage contractor that sued Opa-locka in 2017 alleging corruption and extortion in a city that has for years been plagued with financial and political turmoil. Jurors found the city failed to act in good faith with Universal Waste Services of Florida (UWS). Representatives of UWS made accusations of extortion against former city Commissioner Terence Pinder, who died in an apparent suicide in 2016, two days before he was scheduled to turn himself in on state bribery charges.
Florida – Migrants Flown to Martha’s Vineyard File Class-Action Lawsuit Against DeSantis
MSN – Amy Wang (Washington Post) | Published: 9/20/2022
A group of Venezuelan migrants who were flown from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard – allegedly after being falsely promised work and other services – filed a class-action lawsuit against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and other officials who arranged the flights, saying the officials used fraud and misrepresentation to persuade them to travel across state lines. The migrants are seeking unspecified damages, as well as the cost of their legal fees, for emotional and economic harm.
Georgia – Georgia 2020 Election Inquiry May Lead to Prison Sentences, Prosecutor Says
MSN – Matthew Brown and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) | Published: 9/15/2022
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, the prosecutor investigating efforts by Donald Trump and his allies to challenge the 2020 election results in Georgia, said her team has heard credible allegations that serious crimes have been committed and she believes some individuals may see jail time. At least 17 people have been notified they are targets of the criminal investigation, meaning they could eventually face charges. More targets will be added to the list soon, Willis said.
Georgia – Video Shows Trump Allies Handling Georgia Voting Equipment
Yahoo News – Danny Hakim, Richard Fausset, and Nick Corasaniti (New York Times) | Published: 9/20/2022
Newly released videos show allies of former President Trump and contractors who were working on his behalf handling sensitive voting equipment in a rural Georgia county weeks after the 2020 election. The footage, which was made public as part of litigation over Georgia’s voting system, raises new questions about efforts by Trump affiliates in a number of swing states to gain access to and copy sensitive election software, with the help of friendly local election administrators.
Illinois – State Sen. Emil Jones III Took Bribes from Red-Light Camera Company, Lied to Feds: Charges
WTTW – Heather Cherone | Published: 9/20/2022
Federal prosecutors charged Illinois Sen. Emil Jones III with three felonies, alleging he took a bribe from a firm that installed red-light cameras throughout the state and lied to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents. After being approached by a former executive for Safe Speed, the red-light company, who was cooperating with law enforcement, Jones agreed to limit the scope of his bill to study red-light cameras only in Chicago, where the firm did not operate, prosecutors say. In return, the executive agreed to pay Jones $5,000 and to provide a job to an unidentified associate of Jones.
Maryland – Opinion Says Nash’s Lobbying Violated City Ethics Ordinance
Yahoo News – Ryan Marshall (Frederick News-Post) | Published: 9/16/2022
Frederick Alderwoman Katie Nash violated the city’s ethics rules by lobbying on behalf of a firefighter union’s concerns about county emergency services coverage in the city, an Ethics Commission ruled. Nash, a lobbyist registered with the state, improperly emailed people, including coordinators for various Neighborhood Advisory Councils, encouraging them to raise concerns with the county about plans to shift coverage of paramedic services in parts of the city, according to the opinion. Nash was a paid lobbyist for the International Association of Firefighters Local 3666 when she sent out emails and press releases.
Michigan – Former Macomb Public Works Boss Marrocco Pleads Guilty in Corruption Probe
Yahoo News – Christina Hall (Detroit Free Press) | Published: 9/20/2022
Former Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Anthony Marrocco pleaded guilty to attempted extortion in federal court in a yearslong corruption probe that netted more than 20 other people. Prosecutors alleged he used an aide and others to shake down builders and contractors for donations to his fundraisers. If they did not contribute, the indictment said, Marrocco retaliated by holding up building permits, denying payment to vendors, and refusing to award contracts to firms. The charge to which he pleaded guilty carries up to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000.
Michigan – Here’s the Punishment for Warren Councilman Who Handcuffed Woman over BLM Stickers
Yahoo News – Christina Hall (Detroit Free Press) | Published: 9/19/2022
Warren City Councilperson Edward Kabacinski pleaded no contest to disturbing the peace and was sentenced to one-year probation for his actions toward a woman at a rally for then-President Trump. Kabacinski was charged in October 2020 with assault and battery and impersonating a police officer when he chased a woman and handcuffed her after she put a Black Lives Matter sticker on a Trump sign during a protest. Kabacinski claimed he is a former military police officer and federal law allows him to detain those who breach the peace or break the law. The woman was not facing criminal charges.
New Hampshire – New Hampshire GOP Senate Nominee Abruptly Backs Off False 2020 Election Claims
MSN – Gregory Krieg and Dan Merica (CNN) | Published: 9/15/2022
U.S. Senate candidate Don Bolduc won the Republican nomination in New Hampshire after months campaigning on false claims the 2020 election was stolen from former President Trump. A little more than a day after the primary, he attempted an about-face. “I’ve come to the conclusion, and I want to be definitive on this: the election was not stolen,” Bolduc said. He is not the only GOP candidate who has tried to temper, or erase, hardline positions as the general-election environment starts to look less favorable for the party.
New Jersey – When George Gilmore’s Public Work Dried Up, an Ally Gave His Wife a Job with Engineering Firm
Yahoo News – Matt Friedman (Politico) | Published: 9/19/2022
When Ocean County Republican Party Chairperson George Gilmore was convicted on three federal tax charges in 2019, it did not just cost him his political leadership post. His work with public entities also dried up. Gilmore’s now-defunct law firm, Gilmore & Monahan, had made between $2 million and $3 million in public contracts annually between 2012 and 2018. He resigned from another job at the lobbying firm 1868 Public Affairs. But after Gilmore’s conviction, a political ally founded Morgan Municipal Services, a new division to expand the firm’s work in the public sector. It counted Gilmore’s wife as one of its three founding partners.
New Mexico – NM Senator Defends His Reputation While Policy Silences the People Accusing Him of Misconduct
Source NM – Shaun Griswold | Published: 9/19/2022
New Mexico Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto said the sexual harassment complaint filed against him is closed. But outrage continues to grow, as everyone involved calls for reform of statehouse procedures shrouded in secrecy. The lobbyist who came forward with the initial complaint says her First Amendment rights have been violated because of the confidentiality rules about who is allowed to speak about the matter publicly. After the findings in the misconduct investigation were leaked, Ivey-Soto contacted the FBI about what he says is extortion.
New York – Donald Trump, 3 of His Children Accused of Business Fraud by New York AG
MSN – Shayna Jacobs and Jonathan O’Connell (Washington Post) | Published: 9/21/2022
New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit accusing Donald Trump, three of his grown children, and executives at his company of manipulating asset valuations to deceive lenders, insurance brokers, and tax authorities into giving them better loan and insurance policy rates and reduce their tax liability. The complaint asks the state Supreme Court to bar the former president, Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Eric Trump from serving as executives at any company in New York, and to bar the Trump Organization from acquiring commercial real estate or receiving loans from a New York-registered financial institution for five years.
New York – Executive Threw Hochul Fundraiser Weeks Before Landing $637M Deal
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 9/20/2022
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul maintains that when her administration paid a vendor $637 million last winter for COVID-19 tests, she was unaware the recipient was a campaign donor. Yet a month before the administration struck the deals, the company’s founder threw an in-person campaign fundraiser for Hochul. The deal was enabled by the governor’s revived suspension of competitive bidding rules for the administration’s purchase of COVID-19 supplies. Through an emergency executive order, Hochul suspended those rules four days after the fundraiser.
Oregon – Oregon’s Nonaffiliated Candidates Face Long Odds Making It onto the Ballot
Oregon Capital Chronicle – Julia Shumway | Published: 9/20/2022
Democratic and Republican candidates in Oregon pay a fee ranging from $25 to $150 and fill out a two-page form to compete in a primary. Minor party candidates are nominated separately by their parties, through conventions or party-run primaries. But non-affiliated candidates must collect petition signatures from hundreds or thousands of voters, depending on the office. Efforts to change Oregon’s election system are again afoot, with a coalition launching its petition drive for a constitutional amendment to open primaries. Nearly 41 percent of Oregon voters are ineligible to vote in primaries because they are nonaffiliated or registered with a minor party.
Oregon – Portland Elections Program Hits Council Candidate Rene Gonzalez with $77,000 Fine for Discounted Office Space
OPB – Rebecca Ellis | Published: 9/21/2022
Portland City Council hopeful Rene Gonzalez was fined for accepting and failing to report a steep discount on rent on his campaign office. The $77,000 fine, the biggest ever issued by the city’s Small Donor Elections program, stems from an unreported in-kind contribution Gonzalez is accused of accepting from the company, which is owned by Jordan Schnitzer, who personally gave $250 to Gonzalez in May. Program Director Susan Mottet said a normal tenant would have been asked to pay $6,900 per month for the over 3,000 square feet of space. Since May, Gonzalez’s campaign only had to pay $250 per month.
Pennsylvania – Philly’s Board of Ethics Voted to Close a Loophole that Super PACs Use to Get Instructions from Campaigns
MSN – Sean Collins Walsh (Philadelphia Inquirer) | Published: 9/21/2022
The Philadelphia Board of Ethics voted to ban the strategy known as “redboxing,” in which candidates send indirect signals to independent expenditure campaigns like super PACs that can raise unlimited amounts of money but are not allowed to coordinate with campaigns. Candidates do that by publicly stating the strategic needs of their campaigns, and some in recent federal elections have put those instructions in red boxes on their campaign websites to guide super PACs buying advertisements on their behalf. The statements use lightly coded language to inform the PACs on what the campaign wants.
Pennsylvania – Skill Games Company Woos Pa. Lawmakers with Trips to Wild Wyoming Rodeo
Spotlight PA – Angela Couloumbis | Published: 9/19/2022
This past summer, a select group of Pennsylvania legislators, including House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, got to experience the Cheyenne Frontier Days, the premier summer festival in Wyoming that bills itself as the world’s largest outdoor rodeo and Western celebration, courtesy of Pace-O-Matic. The company makes skill games that currently generate millions of dollars in revenue and, in Pennsylvania, operate in a legal and regulatory gray area, one the Legislature will play a key role in defining. For some of the lawmakers, it was an all-expenses-paid experience.
South Dakota – Ethics Board Keeps ‘Action’ Secret on Complaint Against Noem
MSN – Stephen Groves (Associated Press) | Published: 9/20/2022
The Government Accountability Board will not publicly disclose the “appropriate action” it took after finding evidence South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem intervened with a state agency to influence her daughter’s application for a real estate appraiser license. The board found there was evidence Noem engaged in a conflict-of-interest and malfeasance. A lawyer hired by the board, Mark Haigh, responded to an open records request by saying the board’s response would remain “confidential.” The board has never handled such a high-profile case since its inception in 2017.
Virginia – Virginia Rule on Legislators Leaving Districts Could Add More Intrigue to 2023 Elections
Virginia Mercury – Graham Moomaw | Published: 9/22/2022
After past redistricting cycles, the number of Virginia General Assembly members having to switch districts was kept to a minimum because legislators were allowed to draw careful lines around each other’s homes to avoid doing damage to incumbents. That was not the case last year, when experts appointed by the Virginia Supreme Court effectively reset the state’s legislative maps with little regard for keeping incumbents comfortably installed in conflict-free seats. That means an unusually high number of legislators are facing the prospect of moving to position themselves for the next election cycle.
Virginia – Youngkin’s Restriction on Trans Students’ Rights Is Probably Illegal, Experts Say
MSN – Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) | Published: 9/21/2022
A directive from Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin for public schools to restrict the rights of transgender students is either unenforceable or will be struck down in court because it appears to violate both state and federal law, experts and advocates said. The model policies require schools to categorize transgender children by their “biological sex” when it comes to using the bathroom, locker room, and other facilities and participating in activities. They also bar students from adopting a new name or pronouns without parental permission.
September 22, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “TikTok to Ban Campaign Fundraising, Require Verification for Political Accounts” by Gina Martinez (CBS News) for MSN Elections Oregon: “Oregon’s Nonaffiliated Candidates Face Long Odds Making It onto the Ballot” by Julia Shumway for Oregon Capital Chronicle […]
National: “TikTok to Ban Campaign Fundraising, Require Verification for Political Accounts” by Gina Martinez (CBS News) for MSN
Oregon: “Oregon’s Nonaffiliated Candidates Face Long Odds Making It onto the Ballot” by Julia Shumway for Oregon Capital Chronicle
National: “Appeals Court: Justice Dept. can use Mar-a-Lago documents in criminal probe” by Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “Trial of Corruption Case Against California Sheriff to Begin” by Associated Press for Yahoo News
Florida: “Migrants Flown to Martha’s Vineyard File Class-Action Lawsuit Against DeSantis” by Amy Wang (Washington Post) for MSN
Michigan: “Former Macomb Public Works Boss Marrocco Pleads Guilty in Corruption Probe” by Christina Hall (Detroit Free Press) for Yahoo News
New York: “Trump, Company and Family Members Sued by New York AG Over Alleged Fraud Scheme” by Josh Gerstein, Erin Durkin, and Kyle Cheney (Politico) for Yahoo News
Virginia: “Youngkin’s Restriction on Trans Students’ Rights Is Probably Illegal, Experts Say” by Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) for MSN
Florida: “Jury Awards $3 Million to Garbage Contractor in Opa-locka Corruption Lawsuit” by Tess Riski (Miami Herald) for MSN
September 21, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “Old Money: How retirees are funding and fueling political candidates unlike ever before” by Madison Hall (Business Insider) for Yahoo News Elections National: “The House’s Long-Awaited Electoral Reform Bill Is Ready. Can It Pass?” by Marianna Sotomayor […]
National: “Old Money: How retirees are funding and fueling political candidates unlike ever before” by Madison Hall (Business Insider) for Yahoo News
National: “The House’s Long-Awaited Electoral Reform Bill Is Ready. Can It Pass?” by Marianna Sotomayor and Leigh Ann Caldwell (Washington Post) for MSN
Georgia: “Video Shows Trump Allies Handling Georgia Voting Equipment” by Danny Hakim, Richard Fausset, and Nick Corasaniti (New York Times) for Yahoo News
National: “A Landmark Supreme Court Fight Over Social Media Now Looks Likely” by Robert Barnes and Ann Marimow (Washington Post) for MSN
Illinois: “State Sen. Emil Jones III Took Bribes from Red-Light Camera Company, Lied to Feds: Charges” by Heather Cherone for WTTW
Michigan: “Here’s the Punishment for Warren Councilman Who Handcuffed Woman over BLM Stickers” by Christina Hall (Detroit Free Press) for Yahoo News
New Jersey: “When George Gilmore’s Public Work Dried Up, an Ally Gave His Wife a Job with Engineering Firm” by Matt Friedman (Politico) for Yahoo News
South Dakota: “Ethics Board Keeps ‘Action’ Secret on Complaint Against Noem” by Stephen Groves (Associated Press) for MSN
National: “Apple Flexes Muscle as Quiet Power Behind App Group” by Emily Birnbaum (Bloomberg) for Yahoo News
September 20, 2022 •
Although the next provincial election in Nova Scotia isn’t scheduled until 2025, Elections Nova Scotia (ENS) has published its strategic blueprint in preparation for that election and beyond. ENS’s new four-year strategic plan, which will last until 2026, focuses on […]
Although the next provincial election in Nova Scotia isn’t scheduled until 2025, Elections Nova Scotia (ENS) has published its strategic blueprint in preparation for that election and beyond. ENS’s new four-year strategic plan, which will last until 2026, focuses on five areas for improving electoral services.
The plan concentrates on how ENS will enhance the electoral process for all Nova Scotians through inclusion, diversity, equity, and access; how ENS will build relationships and partnerships with stakeholders; and how ENS will lead in the modernization of electoral services.
Additionally, the plan focuses on fostering a team culture that sets staff up for success and supporting election workers to excel in service delivery.
The plan was created by ENS’s Senior Leadership team.
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.