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 28, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “Republicans Block Probe of Contributions by Chinese Elites to Trump PAC Through Spa Operator” by Sheridan Wall (McClatchy) for MSN National: “Rep. Lauren Boebert’s Campaign May Be Violating Election Law in Trying to Sell Her Book” by […]
National: “Republicans Block Probe of Contributions by Chinese Elites to Trump PAC Through Spa Operator” by Sheridan Wall (McClatchy) for MSN
National: “Rep. Lauren Boebert’s Campaign May Be Violating Election Law in Trying to Sell Her Book” by Zach Everson (Forbes) for MSN
Washington: “Spokane City Council Raises Campaign Contribution Cap to $1,000” by Colin Tiernan (Spokane Spokesman-Review) for Yahoo News
National: “In a Big Jan. 6 Case, Oath Keepers Go on Trial for Seditious Conspiracy” by Ryan Lucas for NPR
Arkansas: “Arkansas Senate Suspends Clark, Strips Him of Seniority for Filing Frivolous Ethics Complaint” by Michael Wickline for Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Connecticut: “Some Bridgeport Politicians Scored Free Tickets to Sound on Sound” by Brian Lockhart (Connecticut Post) for MSN
Massachusetts: “In Apparent Violation of State Nepotism Law, Boston Councilor Hired Sister, Son to Staff” by Danny McDonald (Boston Globe) for MSN
New Mexico: “New Mexico Supreme Court Rules Ethics Violation Isn’t Necessarily a Crime” by Anna Padilla for KRQE
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 •
Campaign Finance National: “DeSantis Draft Effort Pushes Ahead After Campaign Finance Watchdog Deadlocks” by Zach Montellaro (Politico) for MSN Ethics National: “Martha’s Vineyard Flights Leave Migrant Advocates Scrambling” by Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Maria Sacchetti (Washington Post) for MSN California: “Former […]
National: “DeSantis Draft Effort Pushes Ahead After Campaign Finance Watchdog Deadlocks” by Zach Montellaro (Politico) for MSN
National: “Martha’s Vineyard Flights Leave Migrant Advocates Scrambling” by Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Maria Sacchetti (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “Former USC Dean Admits to Arranging Bribery Payment for Mark Ridley-Thomas” by Michael Finnegan and Matt Hamilton (Los Angeles Times) for Yahoo News
New Mexico: “NM Senator Defends His Reputation While Policy Silences the People Accusing Him of Misconduct” by Shaun Griswold for Source NM
Texas: “Texas Social Media ‘Censorship’ Law Goes into Effect After Federal Court Lifts Block” by Jesus Vidales for Texas Tribune
National: “Trump Adviser’s Trial May Shed Light on Foreign Influence Campaigns” by Rebecca Davis O’Brien (New York Times) for MSN
Pennsylvania: “Skill Games Company Woos Pa. Lawmakers with Trips to Wild Wyoming Rodeo” by Angela Couloumbis for Spotlight PA
California: “Gov. Gavin Newsom Strips Fresno County Supervisors’ Power to Draw Election Lines” by Juan Esparza Loera for Sacramento Bee
September 19, 2022 •
Elections Georgia: “Georgia 2020 Election Inquiry May Lead to Prison Sentences, Prosecutor Says” by Matthew Brown and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) for MSN New Hampshire: “New Hampshire GOP Senate Nominee Abruptly Backs Off False 2020 Election Claims” by Gregory Krieg […]
Georgia: “Georgia 2020 Election Inquiry May Lead to Prison Sentences, Prosecutor Says” by Matthew Brown and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) for MSN
New Hampshire: “New Hampshire GOP Senate Nominee Abruptly Backs Off False 2020 Election Claims” by Gregory Krieg and Dan Merica (CNN) for MSN
National: “Justice Dept. Asks Appeals Court to Restore Access to Trump Raid Documents” by Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney (Politico) for MSN
National: “Gaetz Sought Pardon Related to Justice Department Sex Trafficking Probe” by Jacqueline Alemany and Amy Gardner (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “Legal Pot Spawned a Wave of Corruption, Threats and Secret Financial Deals for Politicians” by Adam Elmahrek, Robert Lopez, and Ruben Vives (Los Angeles Times) for MSN
New York: “Zeldin Calls for Probe into $637M Deal with Hochul Donor” by Chris Bragg for Albany Times Union
Arizona: “14 AZ Lawmakers Took 9-Day Europe Trip Sponsored in Part by Lobbyists and More Are Coming” by Ray Stern (Arizona Republic) for MSN
Maryland: “Opinion Says Nash’s Lobbying Violated City Ethics Ordinance” by Ryan Marshall (Frederick News-Post) for Yahoo News
September 16, 2022 •
National/Federal A Record Number of Black Candidates for Higher Offices Aim to Reshape U.S. Politics MSN – Tim Craig (Washington Post) | Published: 9/13/2022 A record number of Black men and women are running for U.S. Senate and governor this fall, […]
A Record Number of Black Candidates for Higher Offices Aim to Reshape U.S. Politics
MSN – Tim Craig (Washington Post) | Published: 9/13/2022
A record number of Black men and women are running for U.S. Senate and governor this fall, with the potential to increase diversity in the nation’s top elected offices, which are still overwhelmingly held by White men. Since Reconstruction, voters have elected just seven Black senators and two Black governors. While many of them face tough odds, some have posted strong poll numbers and fundraising totals, waging credible campaigns that challenge long-held attitudes about whether Black candidates can be competitive in statewide races.
Durham Inquiry Appears to Wind Down as Grand Jury Expires
Yahoo News – Katie Benner (New York Times) | Published: 9/14/2022
When John Durham was assigned by the Justice Department to examine the origins of the investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, then-President Trump and his supporters expressed a belief the inquiry would prove a “deep state” conspiracy including top Obama-era officials had worked to sabotage him. Now Durham appears to be winding down his three-year inquiry without anything close to the results Trump was seeking. The grand jury that Durham has recently used to hear evidence has expired, and while he could convene another, there are currently no plans to do so.
FEC Unanimously Rejects Complaints About Zuckerberg’s 2020 Election Grants
MSN – Isaac Stanley-Becker (Washington Post) | Published: 9/8/2022
A unanimous bipartisan vote by the FEC undercut claims about Mark Zuckerberg’s role in the 2020 election that have taken hold among GOP leaders, candidates, and activists. The claims originate in the more than $400 million donated by Zuckerberg, the chief executive and founder of Meta, and his wife to a pair of nonprofits that provided grants aiding state and local governments with election administration in light of the challenges posed by the coronavirus. The funding from Zuckerberg soon became kindling for the firestorm unleashed by former President Trump and his allies as they questioned the legitimacy of the 2020 election.
In Final Primaries, Heated GOP Fights in N.H. Include a Blow to McCarthy
MSN – Colby Itkowitz and David Weigel (Washington Post) | Published: 9/13/2022
The 2022 primaries concluded on a familiar note – with voters in Republican races choosing between far-right, election-denying candidates and more moderate rivals, and party leaders divided in contests factoring into the battle for control of Congress. New Hampshire was one of three states where voters went to the polls, marking the end of this year’s nominating process, along with Rhode Island and Delaware. The primaries allowed voters a final chance to choose party standard-bearers after months of fierce intraparty battles that highlighted divisions on both sides over policy, personality, and ideology, among other things.
Judge Dismisses Trump Lawsuit Against Hillary Clinton Over 2016 Election
MSN – Azi Paybarah (Washington Post) | Published: 9/9/2022
A federal judge dismissed Donald Trump’s lawsuit against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, saying there was no basis for the former president to claim Clinton and her allies harmed him with an orchestrated plan to spread false information that his campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential race. U.S. District Court Judge Donald Middlebrooks noted “glaring structural deficiencies in the plaintiff’s argument” and said, “such pleadings waste judicial resources and are an unacceptable form of establishing a claim for relief.”
Justice Dept. Issues 40 Subpoenas in a Week, Expanding Jan. 6 Inquiry
Seattle Times – Adam Goldman, Glenn Thrush, Alan Feuer, and Maggie Haberman (New York Times) | Published: 9/13/2022
Justice Department officials seized the phones of two top advisers to former President Trump and blanketed his aides with about 40 subpoenas in a substantial escalation of the investigation into his efforts to subvert the 2020 election. The seizure of the phones, coupled with a widening effort to obtain information from those around Trump after the 2020 election, represent some of the most aggressive steps the department has taken thus far in its criminal investigation into the actions that led to the assault on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.
Justice Dept. Says It Would Accept Trump’s Candidate for Special Master
MSN – Devlin Barrett and Perry Stein (Washington Post) | Published: 9/12/2022
The Justice Department filed court papers signaling it would accept a former federal judge as a special master charged with reviewing papers seized by the FBI from former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and club. U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon must approve Raymond Dearie’s appointment. Dearie was proposed by Trump’s lawyers amid a legal battle over whether a special master should review the documents to determine whether any should be kept from federal prosecutors investigating the potential mishandling of classified material and the possible hiding, tampering, or destruction of government records.
Migrants Flown to Martha’s Vineyard as GOP Escalates Immigration Protest
MSN – Ellen Francis (Washington Post) | Published: 9/15/2022
Dozens of migrants arrived by plane in Martha’s Vineyard, as some Republican governors escalate a campaign against President Biden’s border policies by shuttling refugees out of their states and to Democratic-led states or liberal enclaves. Their arrival in the affluent summer resort island in Massachusetts appeared to prompt confusion about where they had come from and how. The communications director for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said two flights were part of a state program to relocate undocumented immigrants.
Prosecutors Seek Details from Trump’s PAC in Expanding Jan. 6 Probe
MSN – Josh Dawsey and Isaac Arnsdorf (Washington Post) | Published: 9/8/2022
The Justice Department is seeking details about the formation and operation of Donald Trump’s post-presidential political operation in a significant expansion of the criminal investigation of the attack on the Capitol and efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. A federal grand jury sent subpoenas to a wide range of former campaign and White House staffers asking for information about the Save America PAC. Sources described the subpoenas as broad, seeking all documents and communications about opening the PAC and every dollar raised and spent.
Stock Trades Reported by Nearly a Fifth of Congress Show Possible Conflicts
News Inside Era – Kate Kelley, Adam Playford, and Alicia Parlapiano (New York Times) | Published: 9/13/2022
Ninety-seven U.S. senators or representatives who reported trades by themselves or immediate family members in stocks or other financial assets that intersected with the work of committees on which they serve, according to an analysis of trades from 2019 to 2021. The potential for conflicts in stock trading by members of Congress, and their choice so far not to impose stricter limits on themselves, has long drawn criticism, especially when particularly blatant cases emerge. Over the three-year period, more than 3,700 trades reported by lawmakers from both parties posed potential conflicts between their public responsibilities and private finances.
Trump Backers Flood Election Offices with Requests as 2022 Vote Nears
MSN – Amy Gardner and Patrick Marley (Washington Post) | Published: 9/11/2022
Supporters of former President Trump have swamped local election offices across the nation in recent weeks with a coordinated campaign of requests for 2020 voting records, in some cases paralyzing preparations for the fall election season. In nearly two dozen states and scores of counties, election officials are fielding what many describe as an unprecedented wave of public records requests in the final weeks of summer, one they say may be intended to hinder their work and weaken an already strained system.
What Makes State Legislatures Uniquely Prone to Alleged Harassment
MinnPost – Jennifer Gerson (The 19th) | Published: 9/7/2022
Statehouses, a place where the powerful and the less empowered rub shoulders as part of the policy-making process, are a place where abuse and harassment can flourish in the shadows, and consequences are slow to come if they come at all. Dealing with alleged harassment in remains a maze of bureaucratic red tape that, despite efforts to improve processes, has left people in uncomfortable power dynamics or complete inaction after alleged sexual harassment or bullying.
When a Man with a Pistol Shows Up Outside a Congresswoman’s House
MSN – Ruby Kramer (Washington Post) | Published: 9/8/2022
Threats against members of Congress have risen year after year, according to data from the Capitol Police: 9,625 in 2021, up from 3,939 in 2017. Officers logged nearly 2,000 cases in the first three months of this year alone. Among the statistics, there are thousands of stories like that of U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal. An armed man who reportedly threatened to kill Jayapal was arrested outside her Seattle home recently. The incident demonstrated to Jayapal how many gaps exist in congressional security.
From the States and Municipalities
Arkansas – Ethics Filing Against Flowers Frivolous, Senate Panel Says; Suspension Recommended for Clark
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette – Michael Wickline | Published: 9/10/2022
The Arkansas Senate Ethics Committee recommended the chamber suspend state Sen. Alan Clark for the rest of this year and strip him of seniority for the rest of this year and the next two years. The committee concluded that Clark’s charges of ethics violations against Sen. Stephanie Flowers were spurious, frivolous, and retaliatory. Clark filed a complaint against Flowers alleging she violated the Senate’s code of ethics by accepting legislative per diem payments for participating by Zoom in the Senate’s regular session meetings in 2021.
California – Anaheim Council Tightens Lobbyist Rules
MSN – Alicia Robinson (Orange County Register) | Published: 9/14/2022
Anaheim City Council members voted unanimously to support an ordinance tightening lobbyist regulations. Acting as a lobbyist but failing to register with the city, not filing disclosure reports as required, or filing inaccurate reports could result in a misdemeanor charge under the proposed rules. A second vote is required for the new rules to become law. Registered lobbyists will also have to attest under penalty of perjury their reports are true and accurate; perjury is a felony charge under state law.
California – Karen Bass Got a USC Degree for Free. It’s Now Pulling Her into a Federal Corruption Case
MSN – Matthew Brown (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 9/7/2022
A full tuition scholarship to the University of Southern California (USC) led to the indictment of former Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and the former dean of USC’s social work program, Marilyn Flynn, on bribery and fraud charges. Another scholarship recipient, U.S. Rep. Karen Bass, is the leading contender to be the next mayor of Los Angeles. Federal prosecutors have not indicated Bass is under a criminal investigation. But prosecutors have now declared that Bass’ scholarship and her dealings with USC are “critical” to their bribery case and to their broader portrayal of corruption in the university’s social work program.
California – L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl’s Home Searched by Sheriff’s Investigators
Yahoo News – Alene Tchekmedyian (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 9/14/2022
Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators searched the house of county Supervisor Sheila Kuehl as part of a criminal investigation into a county contract awarded to a nonprofit organization. A copy of the warrant showed the search was tied to an ongoing probe into Peace Over Violence, a nonprofit run by Patti Giggans, a member of the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission and a close friend to Kuehl. Both Kuehl and Giggans have clashed with Sheriff Alex Villanueva and called for his resignation.
California – Voters Push to Take Local Redistricting from Politicians
CalMatters – Sameea Kamal | Published: 9/14/2022
California’s independent redistricting commission has received generally good reviews for its new maps that voters are using to elect legislators and members of Congress in November. But voters who say they are disenfranchised want similar panels to draw their local districts. Three bills on California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk would overrule local officials and require independent redistricting commissions in Fresno, Kern, and Riverside counties. If signed into law, those panels would work on districts for the boards of supervisors in those counties, starting after the next Census in 2030.
Colorado – FBI Seizes Mike Lindell’s Phone in Probe of Colo. Voting Machine Breach
MSN – Jon Swaine and Emma Brown (Washington Post) | Published: 9/14/2022
FBI agents seized a cellphone belonging to Mike Lindell, the MyPillow founder and prominent election denier, as part of a federal investigation into an alleged breach of voting machines in Colorado, according to Lindell. Lindell said the agents questioned him about Tina Peters, the Mesa County clerk who was indicted on charges she helped an outsider copy sensitive data from the county’s elections systems. The action against Lindell, who has financed films, conferences, and other media promoting disinformation about elections, points to a widening of the federal investigation into the alleged breach in Mesa County.
Florida – ‘Make His Life a Living Hell.’ The FPL-financed plot to torpedo a Miami lawmaker
MSN – Mary Ellen Klas and Nicholas Nehamas (Miami Herald) | Published: 9/9/2022
Florida Power & Light’s (FPL) chief political operative, Jeff Pitts, used a maze of nonprofits to secretly finance an operation aimed at defeating state Sen. José Javier Rodríguez and replace him with a Republican less hostile to FPL’s interests. Rodríguez lost his bid for reelection in 2020 by 34 votes. It was part of an alleged “ghost candidate” plot in which “spoiler” candidates ran in a total of three state Senate races to help defeat Democratic candidates, who indeed lost. Two people have been criminally charged in connection with the effort to defeat Rodríguez, including a former state senator considered a staunch ally of FPL during his years in office.
Georgia – Former Atlanta Official Gets 14 Years in Corruption Case
Yahoo News – Kate Brumback (Associated Press) | Published: 9/8/2022
A former high-ranking Atlanta official was sentenced to 14 years in prison after a jury found her guilty of charges stemming from a long-running federal investigation into corruption at City Hall. In addition to the prison time, the judge ordered Mitzi Vickers to pay nearly $3 million in restitution to the city. Bickers was the first person to go to trial in the investigation into corruption during the administration of former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. She helped Reed win election and then worked as his director of human services for several years.
Georgia – Georgia’s Biggest County Can’t Find a Top Elections Official
MSN – Matthew Brown (Washington Post) | Published: 9/7/2022
For 10 months, local leaders have been unable to hire a permanent director to run the Department of Registration and Elections in Fulton County, home to Atlanta. The previous director resigned in November and left the position in April, after pressure from local lawmakers and the turmoil of the 2020 election, when county staff endured death threats, baseless conspiracy theories, high-stakes audits, and harassment from former Donald Trump and his allies. The staff has worked through the uncertainty under an interim director, but the county has been slow to implement changes mandated by a sweeping new election law.
Hawaii – Attorney For Mitsunaga’s Engineering Firm Has Been Arrested in Bribery Case
Honolulu Civil Beat – Christina Jedra | Published: 9/13/2022
Sheri Tanaka, an attorney for a prominent engineering firm whose chief executive officer is fighting federal charges, was arrested in California in connection with her client’s case and is currently in custody. Tanaka has been charged alongside Dennis Mitsunaga and associates of his firm who were accused of bribing former Honolulu prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro. Federal prosecutors say Mitsunaga and his accomplices directed over $45,000 to the prosecutor so he would pursue a bogus prosecution of a former employee of the firm, Laurel Mau.
Illinois – Board of Review’s Probe into Bribes for Tax Breaks Is Stymied by Employee’s ‘Inability to Recall Passcode’ to County-Issued Cellphone
Chicago Sun-Times – Mitch Dudek | Published: 9/9/2022
An employee of the Cook County Board of Review under investigation for accepting bribes to lower property taxes stymied a law firm hired to look into the matter by refusing to be interviewed and claiming he forgot the passcode to his county-issued cellphone. A cooperating witness in the case broached the idea of having property assessments lowered for an associate. A picture of the employee thumbing a stack of cash was included in an affidavit. The employee told a cooperating witness he was “just the middle guy” and the cash was intended to be split with others in his office, according to the affidavit.
Maryland – Montgomery School Leaders Defend Contract Given to Board Member’s Spouse
MSN – Nicole Asbury (Washington Post) | Published: 9/13/2022
Montgomery County’s schools superintendent defended the system’s decision to award a STEM learning contract to a company owned by a school board member’s spouse and blamed concerns over the award process on an inaccurate document on the board’s website. The Parents’ Coalition of Montgomery County raised concerns before a school board vote that the contract for MoCo KidsCo Inc. was being awarded as a no-bid contract, with no discussion by the school board, a lack of competition, and a conflict-of-interest.
Massachusetts – AG Maura Healey Ruling Derails Bid to Limit Super PAC Contributions in Massachusetts
MassLive – Matt Murphy (State House News Service) | Published: 9/9/2022
Super PACs are allowed to raise and spend unlimited sums of money to influence elections as long as they do not coordinate directly with any campaigns. The spending has come under fire from some candidates who oppose the influence money has on the process. But a bid to curtail the ability of super PACs to raise and spend huge sums in Massachusetts was nixed by state Attorney General Maura Healey’s office as “inconsistent” with constitutional rights to free speech.
Massachusetts – SJC Considers Lobbying by Federal Felons, Like Former House Speaker Sal DiMasi
MSN – Shelley Murphy (Boston Globe) | Published: 9/8/2022
Former Massachusetts House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi began working as a lobbyist on Beacon Hill nine years after a federal jury found him guilty of fraud and extortion for taking bribes while in office. The state’s highest court heard arguments over whether DiMasi should have been forced to wait a little longer to embark on his new career, based on a state law that bars people convicted of certain state crimes from registering as lobbyists until 10 years after their convictions.
Massachusetts – State’s Public Campaign Financing Program Means Candidates Can Spend Big in November Election
MassLive – Chris Lisinski (State House News Service) | Published: 9/12/2022
Maura Healey and Kim Driscoll can drain their entire accumulated campaign money in their bid for governor and lieutenant governor, Massachusetts campaign finance officials said. At least one candidate in each of the five statewide contests this fall sought to participate in the state’s public campaign financing program, which triggered a requirement for all other contestants in those races to declare self-imposed spending caps. The largest limit in each race becomes the cap for all candidates in that field. Healey and Driscoll told the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance their self-imposed spending would be limited to a maximum of $6.9 million.
Michigan – Michigan Supreme Court Puts Abortion on the November Ballot
Yahoo News – Alice Miranda Ollstein (Politico) | Published: 9/8/2022
The Michigan Supreme Court certified a sweeping abortion rights initiative for the November ballot, giving voters a chance to decide whether the procedure remains legal or whether a nearly 100-year-old ban goes back into effect. The emergency ruling overrides a party-line tie vote by the Board of State Canvassers, which blocked the certification of the proposed constitutional amendment. The two Republicans on that panel sided with conservative groups that argued spacing and formatting errors on the text canvassers presented to voters rendered the entire effort invalid.
Mississippi – Former Gov. Phil Bryant Helped Brett Favre Secure Welfare Funding for USM Volleyball Stadium, Texts Reveal
Mississippi Today – Anna Wolfe | Published: 9/13/2022
Newly released text messages show Brett Favre, former Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, and others worked together to channel at least $5 million of the state’s welfare funds to build a new volleyball stadium at University of Southern Mississippi, where Favre’s daughter played the sport. The texts show the then-governor even guided Favre on how to write a funding proposal so it could be accepted by the state Department of Human Services. In total, nonprofit leaders misspent at least $77 million in funds that were supposed to help the needy, forensic auditors found.
Montana – Super PAC Faces New Allegations in Montana
Montana Free Press – Alex Sakariassen | Published: 9/9/2022
An out-of-state political organization found to have violated Montana campaign finance law continues to face questions about its activity in three legislative races during the 2022 primary election, even as it pursues legal action against the commissioner of political practices. The Center for Media and Democracy filed a complaint against the Convention of States Political Fund, a Michigan-based super PAC that spent more than $126,000 on political flyers and radio ads in Montana earlier this year.
New York – Rensselaer County’s Republican Elections Commissioner Arrested by FBI
Albany Times Union – Brendan Lyons | Published: 9/13/2022
Jason Schofield, the Rensselaer County Board of Elections commissioner, was arrested by the FBI and charged with fraudulently obtaining and filing absentee ballots last year using the personal information of at least eight voters without their permission. The ballots were filled out and submitted in last year’s primary election, the general election, and sometimes both. In some instances, documentation was completed falsely claiming the ballots were mailed to the voters at their residences.
Ohio – Ex-Ohio Governor Candidate Joe Blystone Threatened with Prosecution Over Alleged Campaign-Finance Violations
MSN – Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 9/8/2022
Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s office says it will seek to refer Joe Blystone, who ran for Ohio governor earlier this year, to prosecutors for campaign finance violations if he does not accept a deal that includes turning over all his remaining campaign money to state officials. Blystone has been under scrutiny for a number of issues, including not properly recording thousands of dollars in small donations. Last March, LaRose’s office flagged more than $100,000 in contributions to Blystone’s campaign that appear to violate the state’s limit on cash contributions or ban on corporate donations.
Ohio – Former Butler County Elected Official Indicted on Corruption Charges
Yahoo – Cincinnati Enquirer staff | Published: 9/14/2022
A grand jury indicted Madison Township Trustee Alan Daniel on seven public corruption-related charges. The case had been referred to the Ohio Ethics Commission, which made a referral to the Butler County prosecutor’s office for criminal charges. State Auditor Keith Faber noted several votes Daniel cast as a trustee that Faber said directly impacted a family member. Daniel voted on 20 road department ordinances in 2018 and 15 in 2019 “from which he should have abstained because he is the father of Road Supervisor Todd Daniel,” Faber recently wrote to Madison Township officials.
Ohio – Ohio Supreme Court: ‘Targeted picketing’ ban unconstitutional
Ohio Capital Journal – Susan Tebben | Published: 9/14/2022
The Ohio Supreme Court took issue with a ban on “targeted picketing” of public officials in a new ruling. The justices ruled an education board violated picketers’ rights by putting a stop to public protests, calling Ohio Revised Code language on organizing a protest at public officials’ homes or workplaces “a form of expressive-activity suppression that is irreconcilable with the protections guaranteed by the First Amendment.”
Pennsylvania – Clandestine Plan to Force a Vote on Pa. Legislative Gift Ban Fails, Lawmakers Shrug
Spotlight PA – Stephen Caruso | Published: 9/14/2022
Pennsylvania lawmakers can accept gifts from anyone if they disclose items more than $250 on annual interest forms. Proposals to tighten the law have died over the years with no debate until last fall, when lawmakers on both sides of the aisle expressed interest in a more comprehensive gift ban. Activists recently said one unidentified House member would force a vote on whether to consider the bill, defying Republican leadership. But as one of the last scheduled session days of the year ended, no one stood up, leaving advocates with nothing to do but concede.
South Carolina – SC Supreme Court Says Attorney General’s $75M Payment to Law Firms Can Be Questioned
MSN – John Monk (The State) | Published: 9/14/2022
The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that John Crangle, who writes extensively on governmental ethics issues, has the right to challenge state Attorney General Alan Wilson’s award of a $75 million legal fee to two law firms. Wilson had signed a contingency fee agreement with the firms that awarded them a percentage of a settlement concerning the disposal of dangerous plutonium in the state. Crangle and the South Carolina Public Interest Foundation contended the $75 million fee was unreasonable and unconstitutional.
South Dakota – Documents Show Gov. Kristi Noem Tried to Avoid Ethics Hearing, Seal Records
Yahoo News – Stephen Groves (Associated Press) | Published: 9/9/2022
Documents show South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem asked the state Government Accountability Board to dismiss a complaint against her without a public hearing and to seal off certain records. News reports said shortly after a state agency moved to deny her daughter, Kassidy Peters, a real estate appraiser license, Noem held a meeting with Peters and key decision-makers in her licensure. After the meeting, Peters signed an agreement that gave her another opportunity to meet the licensing requirements. The South Dakota Legislature’s audit committee approved a report that found Noem’s daughter got preferential treatment.
Wyoming – Elections Official Files Complaint Against Conservative PAC
WyoFile – Maggie Mullen | Published: 9/13/2022
Campbell County’s chief elections officer filed a complaint against Coal Country Conservatives Political Action Committee, calling on the FEC and the Wyoming secretary of state to undertake a “swift and robust investigation.” The complaint by Campbell County Clerk Susan Saunders, names both the federal PAC and a Wyoming entity of the same name. Chief among Saunders’ concerns is a potentially improper campaign finance relationship between the two organizations and a lack of disclosure on the part of both.
Wyoming – Some Wyoming Republicans Want to Limit the Secretary of State after Trump’s Pick Wins
Wyoming Public Radio – Bob Beck | Published: 9/8/2022
Wyoming’s likely next secretary of state, a Trump-endorsed Republican who has falsely called the 2020 election fraudulent, is drawing concerns from many of his fellow GOP lawmakers. Now those legislators are aiming to draft a bill to remove the secretary of state’s ability to oversee elections. State Rep. Chuck Gray is the Republican nominee. He does not have a general election opponent. Though state officials maintain Wyoming elections are secure, Gray campaigned on concerns he has about election integrity.
September 15, 2022 •
Elections National: “In Final Primaries, Heated GOP Fights in N.H. Include a Blow to McCarthy” by Colby Itkowitz and David Weigel (Washington Post) for MSN Colorado: “FBI Seizes Mike Lindell’s Phone in Probe of Colo. Voting Machine Breach” by Jon […]
National: “In Final Primaries, Heated GOP Fights in N.H. Include a Blow to McCarthy” by Colby Itkowitz and David Weigel (Washington Post) for MSN
Colorado: “FBI Seizes Mike Lindell’s Phone in Probe of Colo. Voting Machine Breach” by Jon Swaine and Emma Brown (Washington Post) for MSN
New York: “Rensselaer County’s Republican Elections Commissioner Arrested by FBI” by Brendan Lyons for Albany Times Union
National: “Stock Trades Reported by Nearly a Fifth of Congress Show Possible Conflicts” by Kate Kelley, Adam Playford, and Alicia Parlapiano (New York Times) for News Inside Era
National: “Durham Inquiry Appears to Wind Down as Grand Jury Expires” by Katie Benner (New York Times) for Yahoo News
California: “L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl’s Home Searched by Sheriff’s Investigators” by Alene Tchekmedyian (Los Angeles Times) for Yahoo News
Maryland: “Montgomery School Leaders Defend Contract Given to Board Member’s Spouse” by Nicole Asbury (Washington Post) for MSN
Ohio: “Ohio Supreme Court: ‘Targeted picketing’ ban unconstitutional” by Susan Tebben for Ohio Capital Journal
California: “FBI Corruption Probe Pushes Anaheim to Keep Emails Longer, Tighten Lobbyist Rules” by Hosam Elattar for Voice of OC
September 14, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Massachusetts: “State’s Public Campaign Financing Program Means Candidates Can Spend Big in November Election” by Chris Lisinski (State House News Service) for MassLive Wyoming: “Elections Official Files Complaint Against Conservative PAC” by Maggie Mullen for WyoFile Elections National: […]
Massachusetts: “State’s Public Campaign Financing Program Means Candidates Can Spend Big in November Election” by Chris Lisinski (State House News Service) for MassLive
Wyoming: “Elections Official Files Complaint Against Conservative PAC” by Maggie Mullen for WyoFile
National: “A Record Number of Black Candidates for Higher Offices Aim to Reshape U.S. Politics” by Tim Craig (Washington Post) for MSN
Georgia: “Georgia’s Biggest County Can’t Find a Top Elections Official” by Matthew Brown (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Justice Dept. Says It Would Accept Trump’s Candidate for Special Master” by Devlin Barrett and Perry Stein (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Justice Dept. Issues 40 Subpoenas in a Week, Expanding Jan. 6 Inquiry” by Adam Goldman, Glenn Thrush, Alan Feuer, and Maggie Haberman (New York Times) for Seattle Times
Arkansas: “Ethics Filing Against Flowers Frivolous, Senate Panel Says; Suspension Recommended for Clark” by Michael Wickline for Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Mississippi: “Former Gov. Phil Bryant Helped Brett Favre Secure Welfare Funding for USM Volleyball Stadium, Texts Reveal” by Anna Wolfe for Mississippi Today
Pennsylvania: “Gift Ban Does Not See House Vote, but Advocates Say ‘There’s Still Time’” by Marley Parish for Pennsylvania Capital-Star
September 13, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “FEC Unanimously Rejects Complaints About Zuckerberg’s 2020 Election Grants” by Isaac Stanley-Becker (Washington Post) for MSN Montana: “Super PAC Faces New Allegations in Montana” by Alex Sakariassen for Montana Free Press Ohio: “Ex-Ohio Governor Candidate Joe Blystone […]
National: “FEC Unanimously Rejects Complaints About Zuckerberg’s 2020 Election Grants” by Isaac Stanley-Becker (Washington Post) for MSN
Montana: “Super PAC Faces New Allegations in Montana” by Alex Sakariassen for Montana Free Press
Ohio: “Ex-Ohio Governor Candidate Joe Blystone Threatened with Prosecution Over Alleged Campaign-Finance Violations” by Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) for MSN
National: “Trump Backers Flood Election Offices with Requests as 2022 Vote Nears” by Amy Gardner and Patrick Marley (Washington Post) for MSN
Wyoming: “Some Wyoming Republicans Want to Limit the Secretary of State after Trump’s Pick Wins” by Bob Beck for Wyoming Public Radio
National: “Trump’s Lawyers Suggest Seized Documents May Not Be Classified” by Devlin Barrett and Perry Stein (Washington Post) for MSN
Illinois: “Board of Review’s Probe into Bribes for Tax Breaks Is Stymied by Employee’s ‘Inability to Recall Passcode’ to County-Issued Cellphone” by Mitch Dudek for Chicago Sun-Times
South Dakota: “Documents Show Gov. Kristi Noem Tried to Avoid Ethics Hearing, Seal Records” by Stephen Groves (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
Massachusetts: “SJC Considers Lobbying by Federal Felons, Like Former House Speaker Sal DiMasi” by Shelley Murphy (Boston Globe) for MSN
September 12, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “Prosecutors Seek Details from Trump’s PAC in Expanding Jan. 6 Probe” by Josh Dawsey and Isaac Arnsdorf (Washington Post) for MSN Massachusetts: “AG Maura Healey Ruling Derails Bid to Limit Super PAC Contributions in Massachusetts” by Matt […]
National: “Prosecutors Seek Details from Trump’s PAC in Expanding Jan. 6 Probe” by Josh Dawsey and Isaac Arnsdorf (Washington Post) for MSN
Massachusetts: “AG Maura Healey Ruling Derails Bid to Limit Super PAC Contributions in Massachusetts” by Matt Murphy (State House News Service) for MassLive
Michigan: “Michigan Supreme Court Puts Abortion on the November Ballot” by Alice Miranda Ollstein (Politico) for Yahoo News
National: “What Makes State Legislatures Uniquely Prone to Alleged Harassment” by Jennifer Gerson (The 19th) for MinnPost
National: “Justice Dept. Seeks to Regain Access to Classified Mar-a-Lago Documents” by Perry Stein and Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “Karen Bass Got a USC Degree for Free. It’s Now Pulling Her into a Federal Corruption Case” by Matthew Brown (Los Angeles Times) for MSN
Florida: “‘Make His Life a Living Hell.’ The FPL-financed plot to torpedo a Miami lawmaker” by Mary Ellen Klas and Nicholas Nehamas (Miami Herald) for MSN
Georgia: “Former Atlanta Official Gets 14 Years in Corruption Case” by Kate Brumback (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
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