September 12, 2022 •
The Tallahassee City Commission adopted Ordinance No. 22-O-20 and Resolution 22-R-22, amending certain lobbying provisions. Ordinance No. 22-O-20 repeals the requirement of quarterly compensation reports and requires lobbyists to register individually rather than by firm. Resolution 22-R-22 raises the registration […]
The Tallahassee City Commission adopted Ordinance No. 22-O-20 and Resolution 22-R-22, amending certain lobbying provisions.
Ordinance No. 22-O-20 repeals the requirement of quarterly compensation reports and requires lobbyists to register individually rather than by firm.
Resolution 22-R-22 raises the registration fee from $25 to $500. The changes are effective December 31.
September 2, 2022 •
National/Federal Document Reveals Identity of Donors Who Secretly Funded Nikki Haley’s Political Nonprofit Yahoo News – Alex Isenstadt (Politico) | Published: 8/26/2022 Many of the Republican Party’s biggest donors are among those who funneled anonymous contributions to former United Nations Ambassador […]
Document Reveals Identity of Donors Who Secretly Funded Nikki Haley’s Political Nonprofit
Yahoo News – Alex Isenstadt (Politico) | Published: 8/26/2022
Many of the Republican Party’s biggest donors are among those who funneled anonymous contributions to former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley’s nonprofit as she lays the groundwork for a prospective 2024 presidential bid, according to previously unreported tax documents. Like other nonprofits, Stand For America files an annual tax return with the IRS. While the agency and the group must make those filings available to the public, including the amounts of contributions, such nonprofits do not have to disclose the identities of their donors. The group Documented obtained an unredacted copy of Stand For America’s 2019 filings.
Experts Say a Trump-Backed Charity Is Pushing the Boundaries of Tax Law
National Public Radio – Tom Dreisbach | Published: 8/31/2022
Many figures connected to the failed plot to overturn the 2020 election have coalesced around an increasingly influential nonprofit – the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI). A review of records and leaked audio suggests CPI may be risking legal trouble over its tax-exempt status. Experts said the group appears to be pushing the boundaries of the law by entwining itself with explicitly Republican and pro-Donald Trump political organizations. As an IRS-recognized charity, CPI is exempt from certain taxes. That also gives donors the benefit of deducting their contributions at tax time. But those benefits come with some strings attached.
Fox News Stars Questioned by Election Tech Company in Defamation Case
MSN – Rachel Weiner and Jeremy Barr (Washington Post) | Published: 8/30/2022
Some Fox News hosts are being compelled to answer questions about their coverage of the 2020 presidential election as a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems claims its reputation was ruined by the network’s airing of baseless allegations picks up steam. Lawyers for Dominion questioned Jeanine Pirro and Tucker Carlson, while Sean Hannity and former host Lou Dobbs are scheduled for depositions. They are among the on-air personalities that Dominion says defamed it either by falsely claiming the company conspired to rig the election against Donald Trump or by repeatedly hosting guests who made such claims.
Garland Bans Campaign Activity by Justice Dept. Political Appointees
MSN – Perry Stein (Washington Post) | Published: 8/30/2022
Justice Department political appointees cannot participate in campaign-related activities in any capacity, Attorney General Merrick Garland said, describing the change as necessary “to maintain public trust and ensure that politics … does not compromise or affect the integrity of our work.” The new policy underscores the political scrutiny Garland is facing before the midterm elections, as his agency investigates former president Trump’s handling of classified documents after leaving office and the potential involvement of Trump and other GOP politicians in efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Justice Dept. Says Trump Team May Have Hidden, Moved Classified Papers
MSN – Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 8/31/2022
Former President Trump and his advisers repeatedly failed to turn over highly classified government documents even after receiving a subpoena and pledging a “diligent search” had been conducted, leading to an FBI raid on his Florida home that found more than 100 additional classified items, according to a court filing. The filing traces government officials’ repeated efforts to recover national security papers from Trump’s residence, centered on a storage room where prosecutors came to suspect that “government records were likely concealed and removed … and that efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government’s investigation.”
They Were Some of the Last Journalists at Their Papers. Then Came the Layoffs.
MSN – Elahe Izadi (Washington Post) | Published: 8/28/2022
Newspaper companies have been struggling to find their financial footing with the decline of print advertising. A recent study predicted one-third of American newspapers that existed roughly two decades ago will go extinct by 2025. Another study found some 40,000 newspaper newsroom jobs vanished between 2008 and 2020. Gannett, the largest newspaper chain in the country with more than 200 daily newspapers and its flagship publication USA Today, has already been shedding jobs.
Trump’s Lawyers May Become Witnesses or Targets in Documents Investigation
Yahoo News – Charlie Savage (New York Times) | Published: 8/31/2022
Two lawyers for former President Trump are likely to become witnesses or targets in the investigation into how he hoarded documents marked as classified at his Florida estate and secretly held onto some even after the lawyers claimed all sensitive materials had been returned, legal specialists said. Christina Bobb and M. Evan Corcoran handled Trump’s interactions with the government over a subpoena seeking additional material marked as classified. In a court filing, the Justice Department suggested people in Trump’s circle concealed documents in defiance of that subpoena, putting a spotlight on the lawyers’ actions.
Watchdog Probing Massachusetts US Attorney’s Fundraiser Trip
Yahoo News – Alanna Durkin Richer and Farnoush Amiri (Associated Press) | Published: 8/31/2022
A watchdog agency is investigating whether Massachusetts’ top federal prosecutor violated a law that limits political activity by government workers for attending a political fundraiser that featured First Lady Jill Biden. The U.S. Office of Special Counsel said it has opened an investigation into a potential violation Hatch Act after U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton raised concerns over U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins’ attendance at a July Democratic National Committee fundraiser in Andover, Massachusetts.
When an Election Denier Becomes a Chief Election Official
Yahoo News – Zach Montellaro (Politico) | Published: 8/29/2022
Many of the election deniers running for secretary of state this year have spent their time talking about something they cannot do: “decertifying” the 2020 results. The bigger question, amid concerns about whether they would fairly administer the 2024 presidential election, is exactly what powers they would have if they win this year. They could refuse to certify accurate election results, a nearly unprecedented step that would set off litigation in state and federal court. But secretaries of states’ roles in elections stretch far beyond approving vote tallies and certifying results. Many of the candidates want to dramatically change the rules for future elections, too.
From the States and Municipalities
Alabama – Alabama Ethics Commission Won’t Reconsider Decision on Exculpatory Information
MSN – Brian Lyman (Montgomery Advertiser) | Published: 8/25/2022
The Alabama Ethics Commission will not reconsider a decision that it does not have to disclose potentially exculpatory information to targets of investigations. The state attorney general’s office asked the commission to reconsider the decision in July. Under state law, the ethics panel investigates complaints against public officials. It functions as a kind of grand jury. It does not prosecute individuals for ethics violations. If the commission finds probable cause that ethics violations took place, it refers the case to the attorney general’s office or a district attorney for possible prosecution.
Alaska – Democrat Mary Peltola Wins Special Election in Alaska, Defeating Palin
MSN – Nathaniel Herz | Published: 8/31/2022
Democrat Mary Peltola has won a special election for the U.S. House in Alaska, defeating Sarah Palin and becoming the first Alaska Native to win a seat in Congress as well as the first woman to clinch the state’s at-large district. Peltola’s win flips a seat that had long been in Republican hands. She will serve the remainder of a term left open by the sudden death of U.S. Rep. Don Young. For the moment, it helps Democrats expand their current narrow House majority and gives the party a better chance of winning the seat in the fall, according to at least one nonpartisan elections analyst.
Arizona – Arizona Supreme Court Says Voters Can Decide Ballot Measures in November
KAWC – Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services) | Published: 8/24/2022
Arizonans will be able to vote in November on two controversial ballot measures even though petition circulators did not comply with the law. In separate orders, the state Supreme Court said those who gather signatures for money are required to register for each petition campaign for which they work. Chief Justice Robert Brutinel said that did not happen in either the initiative to require disclosure of “dark money” in politics or another to cap medical debt payments. But Brutinel noted the office provided no procedure for those already registered to circulate other petitions to submit new registrations. The court agreed the signatures gathered by those who did not register anew should count.
California – A Sacramento School Trustee Walked Out of a Hotel with a Vase. Now She’s Reprimanded by Board
MSN – Jason Pohl and Sawsan Morrar (Sacramento Bee) | Published: 8/30/2022
A Sacramento school board member was reprimanded by her colleagues and ordered to undergo ethics training after a hotel employee accused her of trying to steal a red vase from the hotel lobby. Trustee Ericka Harden was filmed on security cameras at Embassy Suites, where she was attending a district-funded education leadership conference. On the video that hotel management sent the school district, Harden is seen walking out of the hotel with the vase. “This is to inform you of the altercation that has been encountered with your employee,” a hotel worker emailed the district. “The vase was returned as I did have to pull it out of her hands.”
California – California Lawmakers Reject Bill to Allow Their Staff to Unionize at the State Capitol
Yahoo News – Taryn Luna (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 8/31/2022
For the fourth time in five years, the California Legislature rejected a bill to allow its staff to unionize, parting with other West Coast states that have approved similar legislation to try to improve workplace conditions and offset power imbalances between politicians and their legislative staff. For decades, legislative employees have not received the same right to unionize as other private and public sector workers despite the Democratic Legislature’s close ties with unions at the Capitol.
California – ‘Close to the Line:’ California’s top campaign finance watchdog wants a deeper look at donor network
CalMatters – Alexei Koseff and Ben Christopher | Published: 8/26/2022
The Fair Political Practices Commission will consider new regulations more clearly defining coordination among affiliated campaign committees after the agency rejected a complaint against Govern For California. The complaint characterized the group’s network of independent committees as a “corporate structure that facilitates money laundering and vastly exceeds the contribution limits to candidates.” An investigation showed committees affiliated with Govern For California have come to play a prominent role in campaigns by making direct donations. Most of the funding to the chapters comes from the same group of 20 donors.
California – Inside a ‘Tale of Greed’ in San Francisco: Bribery scandal leads to 7-year prison sentence
Yahoo News – Gregory Yee (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 8/26/2022
Federal prosecutors called it “a tale of greed as old as time” – a powerful San Francisco official at the heart of a web of kickbacks, bribery, and fraud that stretched across more than a decade. Mohammed Nuru, a former public works director, was sentenced to seven years in federal prison for his role in a public corruption scheme that has ensnared at least a dozen San Francisco officials and business figures, eroded trust in City Hall, and led to an ongoing FBI investigation.
California – L.A. Council Fails to Pick a Replacement for Ridley-Thomas, Exposing a Divide at City Hall
Yahoo News – David Zahniser (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 8/30/2022
Ten months after Los Angeles City Councilperson Mark Ridley-Thomas was indicted on federal corruption charges, the council remains at odds over what should happen to his district – who should represent it and how that person should be selected. Heather Hutt has been the district’s caretaker since July, when a judge sidelined the council’s previous interim pick, former Councilperson Herb Wesson. Councilperson Monica Rodriguez, who opposed a vote on Hutt, said the council moved too swiftly last time it tried to fill the seat, selecting Wesson only to have two judges conclude he is ineligible because of term limits.
Delaware – Judge Upholds Two of Delaware Auditor’s Three Convictions
MSN – Randall Chase (Associated Press) | Published: 8/30/2022
A judge upheld two convictions against Delaware’s auditor for official misconduct and conflict-of-interest but tossed a jury’s third misdemeanor conviction for improperly structuring contract payments to a consulting firm. In issuing his decision, Superior Court Judge William Carpenter Jr. rejected Kathy McGuiness’ request for a new trial. McGuiness, who as auditor is responsible for rooting out government fraud, waste, and abuse, is the first statewide elected official in Delaware to be convicted on criminal charges while in office. She has maintained her innocence and is seeking re-election.
Florida – DeSantis Election Investigation Chief Told Local Officials They Face ‘No Fault’ for Felons Voting
MSN – Matt Dixon (Politico) | Published: 8/29/2022
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office tried to blame local election supervisors for mistakes that could have allowed 20 people convicted of felonies to illegally vote. But the state’s election investigations chief previously absolved those local officials of any wrongdoing, according to documents. Pete Antonacci, who runs DeSantis’ elections investigation office, sent a letter on August 18 to the state’s elections supervisors saying they did nothing wrong when individuals convicted of murder and sex offenses voted in the 2020 election cycle.
Florida – Miami-Dade Commissioner Martinez Surrenders at Jail as Warrant Details Corruption Probe
MSN – David Ovalle and Douglas Hanks (Miami Herald) | Published: 8/30/2022
Miami-Dade Commissioner Joe Martinez surrendered to face criminal charges, as an arrest warrant reveals he is being accused of accepting $15,000 in exchange for sponsoring a bill five years ago to help a shopping plaza that had been repeatedly hit with fines for code violations. The legislation ultimately never passed and did not wind up being considered by the county commission. But under Florida’s unlawful compensation law, prosecutors do not need to show the public official’s “exercise of influence” for illegal pay was actually “accomplished,” only that it was attempted.
Florida – ‘Our Plan Might Have Paid Off’: How FPL dollars secretly funded a spoiler vs. Levine Cava
MSN – Nicholas Nehamas, Douglas Hanks, Sarah Blaskey, and Mary Ellen Klas (Miami Herald) | Published: 8/25/2022
Jeff Pitts’ political consulting firm was a conduit for millions of dollars secretly spent by Florida Power & Light (FPL) on political races since 2018, records show. In one case, the plan was to use Jonathan Burke as a spoiler candidate to drain votes from Miami-Dade County Commissioner Levine Cava, who had clashed with FPL over a nuclear power plant and force her into a runoff against her main opponent, Republican Gus Barreiro, a leaked text message suggests. Money from FPL covered Burke’s $60,000 salary and paid the rent on a $2,300-per-month home in Miami-Dade’s District 8, according to records.
Florida – Seminole GOP Chair’s Trial in ‘Ghost’ Candidate Case Starts Today
MSN – Annie Martin (Orlando Sentinel) | Published: 8/29/2022
Seminole County Republican Party Chairperson Ben Paris is on trial, accused of contributing in his cousin’s name to independent “ghost” candidate Jestine Iannotti’s campaign in 2020. Paris is facing a misdemeanor charge in the scheme, which apparently was an attempt to aid Republican Sen. Jason Brodeur, who was Paris’s boss at the Seminole County Chamber of Commerce at the time of the race. Brodeur has denied any knowledge of his former employee’s actions.
Georgia – Judge Delays Gov. Kemp’s Testimony in Ga. Probe Until After November Election
MSN – Amy Wang and Ann Marimow (Washington Post) | Published: 8/29/2022
The judge presiding over the Georgia grand jury investigation into possible election interference by Donald Trump and his allies denied a motion from Gov. Brian Kemp to quash a subpoena requiring him to testify. But Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney delayed Kemp’s appearance before the grand jury until “some date soon after” Election Day in November. Kemp, who is running for reelection against Stacey Abrams, has alleged the investigation is politically motivated.
Hawaii – Damning Report Unlikely to Affect Honolulu Ethics Director’s Job
Honolulu Civil Beat – Christina Jedra | Published: 8/26/2022
When Jan Yamane was hired by the Honolulu Ethics Commission in 2016, she was leaving the state auditor’s office where employees accused her of operating a hostile work environment that was plagued by favoritism, low morale, and harassment. The state attorney general’s office fought for years to keep the details secret. It only became public recently after a years-long legal fight. Yamane has now spent six years heading the city’s watchdog agency which, among other things, handles complaints about misconduct that may be similar in nature to what Yamane was accused of doing.
Idaho – Former Idaho Lawmaker Sentenced to 20 Years’ Prison for Rape
Yahoo News – Rebecca Boone (Associated Press) | Published: 8/31/2022
A former Idaho lawmaker convicted of raping a 19-year-old legislative intern was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the crime. Aaron von Ehlinger must serve at least eight years before he will be eligible for parole. Von Ehlinger was convicted of felony rape in April, roughly a year after he resigned from his House seat after an ethics committee recommended that he be banned from the statehouse. Von Ehlinger’s supporters publicized the intern’s name, photo, and personal details about her life after she reported the rape, and repeatedly harassed her.
Illinois – DeVore Loan Ends Contribution Caps in Illinois AG Race
Patabook.com – Dan Petrella (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 9/1/2022
Illinois attorney general nominee Thomas DeVore loaned his campaign $250,001, a move that opens the door to unlimited contributions in the race with incumbent Kwame Raoul. Under state law, contribution limits are lifted when a candidate for statewide office donates more than $250,000 to his campaign. Until then, the limits range from $6,000 for individuals to $239,900 for political party contributions to candidates statewide.
Illinois – Pritzker’s Personal Fortune Intersects with State Contracts
Better Government Association – David Jackson, Grace Golembiewski, and Chuck Neubauer | Published: 8/30/2022
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s vast investment portfolio includes interests in a dozen for-profit companies that earned more than $20 billion in state business since he took office in 2019, a Better Government Association investigation found. In some cases, state dollars flowed to companies registered to lobby Pritzker, who as the state’s chief executive held enormous sway over their contracts. The intersection between Pritzker’s personal bottom line and his role as governor comes despite his promise to divest his personal fortune of investments in state contractors and to transfer his multibillion-dollar portfolio into what he called a “blind trust.”
Indiana – Study: Indiana ranks last in campaign finance laws
Journal Gazette – Brett Stover | Published: 8/28/2022
Indiana has the least restrictive campaign finance laws in the country, a new study shows. The Coalition for Integrity, which that focuses on corruption and transparency, released its first-ever State Campaign Finance Index this summer. The index examines laws from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, including regulations on campaign coordination and limits on expenditures. The report highlighted the state’s lack of a cap on individual contributions. Conservative lawyer Jim Bopp Jr. sees that lack of individual contribution regulation as one of the best parts of Indiana’s campaign finance laws.
Kentucky – Citing Conflict, Scott County Residents Sue to Remove Judge Candidate from Ballot
MSN – Taylor Six (Lexington Herald-Leader) | Published: 8/29/2022
Two Scott County residents filed a civil lawsuit to remove Rob Johnson from the ballot as 14th Circuit judicial candidate. Johnson is married to 14th Judicial Circuit Commonwealth Attorney Sharon Mus. Plaintiffs say this creates a situation where Johnson could not perform the majority of the constitutional duties of the position for which he seeks election unless he violates the Judicial Canons of Ethics.
Maryland – Md. Watchdog: Reports from Pr. George’s school board ethics panel are unreliable
MSN – Nicole Asbury (Washington Post) | Published: 8/27/2022
An ethics report that targeted Prince George’s County school board members was unreliable, included “factually inaccurate” information, and omitted key exonerating statements from witnesses, Maryland’s education watchdog said. The error-riddled reports completed last year by a county school board ethics advisory panel and leaked to some community members, accused seven school board members of a variety of offenses, including steering contracts, doing political favors, and engaging in a quid pro quo with a labor union.
Michigan – Michigan Elections Panel Deadlocks, Leaving Abortion Rights Proposal Off Ballot
Yahoo News – Clara Hendrickson (Detroit Free Press) | Published: 9/1/2022
Michigan’s elections panel deadlocked along partisan lines on certifying an abortion rights measure for this fall’s ballot that proposed adding an explicit right to seek the procedure in the state. The impasse leaves the measure off the ballot. But the Reproductive Freedom for All plans to file an appeal asking the Michigan Supreme Court to put the proposed constitutional amendment before voters as election officials prepare to send out ballots next month. The Board of Canvassers’ two Republican members said organizers circulated a petition to collect voter signatures that was riddled with errors the board could not approve.
Michigan – Romulus Ex-Mayor Burcroff Pleads Guilty in Federal Corruption Case
Detroit News – Robert Snell | Published: 8/25/2022
Former Romulus Mayor LeRoy Burcroff pleaded guilty to wire fraud after being accused of spending more than $15,000 in campaign funds on personal expenses. Federal prosecutors alleged he defrauded campaign donors who thought the money would be spent on re-election expenses. Instead, prosecutors say he spent the money on his daughter’s wedding, a Florida vacation, flowers, a $4,500 alcohol bill, and dues and expenses at the Belleville Yacht Club.
Michigan – Who Controls Where and When You See Political Ads? It’s Complicated.
MLive.com – Jordyn Hermani | Published: 9/1/2022
Online outrage was sparked after a journalist noticed a 30-second advertisement, which alleges Michigan gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon believes there should be a total ban on abortion even in the instances of rape or incest, interrupted a children’s cartoon being streamed on Hulu. The streaming service only began running political ads this year after backlash when it initially refused to run ads from Democratic groups. Political scientist Ken Miller said the ad may not have been intended to land in a children’s show but could have a similar effect as if it had been placed during the evening news.
New Jersey – Legislative Resolutions Raise the Question: What’s the point?
New Jersey Monitor – Dana DiFilippo | Published: 8/30/2022
Resolutions are a popular way for state lawmakers to butter up constituents, grab headlines, or publicize their positions on federal issues or other matters over which they wield little control. So far this legislative session, resolutions represent about 10 person of all legislation in the New Jersey General Assembly. But only 22 resolutions, less than three percent of those introduced, have passed this year. John Froonjian of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University, said some resolutions pushed by lawmakers “are not exactly heavyweight public policy,” and he thinks the public can rightly question, “What’s the point?”
New York – Skirting Ethics Order, Hochul Seeks Donations from Cuomo Appointees
archive.today – Jay Root (New York Times) | Published: 8/30/2022
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has been taking money from appointees of the governor, despite an executive order designed to prevent it. In her first year in office, Hochul has accepted more than $400,000 from appointees on boards across the state as well as the appointees’ spouses, a New York Times analysis found. Hochul’s campaign said it was appropriate to accept the contributions because they came from people appointed by her predecessor, Andrew Cuomo. The argument underscored a loophole in the ethics order that would seem to allow one governor to accept money from another governor’s board and commission appointees.
Pennsylvania – Pa.’s Unreliable Lobbyist Disclosure Website Is Getting a User-Friendly Upgrade
Spotlight PA – Kate Huangpu | Published: 8/29/2022
An initiative to improve the online system in Pennsylvania that lobbyists use to disclose which organizations have hired them and how they spend money got a boost in this year’s state budget. A line item listed only as “Lobbying Disclosure” under the Department of State’s general appropriations is funded at $714,000 for the fiscal year that started in July, a 150 percent increase over the previous year. A Department of State spokesperson said the money will fund an IT upgrade to a system that has been criticized as lagging, unintuitive, and often down.
South Dakota – ‘Nobody Thought This Would Be a Governor’: Noem complaint leads to key chapter in short life of ethics board
Fargo Forum – Jason Hayward | Published: 8/30/2022
A recent meeting of the Government Accountability Board, where it moved on two complaints against South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, was the latest in a series of unprecedented events for the board, which was created in response to a series of scandals and an initiated measure. This is the first set of complaints the board has not simply dismissed, meaning the details of the process for a possible contested case must be figured out on the fly. The confidentiality inherent to the board’s process was undermined by Jason Ravnsborg, the former attorney general who brought the complaints public during a feud with Noem over her calling for his impeachment.
Virginia – Judge Throws Out Obscenity Case Attempting to Restrict Sales of Books in Virginia Beach
Virginia Mercury – Graham Moomaw | Published: 8/30/2022
A judge in Virginia dismissed a lawsuit that sought to declare two books as obscene for children and to restrict their distribution to minors, including by booksellers and libraries. The books in question were “Gender Queer: A Memoir” and “A Court of Mist and Fury.” State Del. Tim Anderson filed the suit on behalf of former GOP congressional candidate Tommy Altman. They characterized it as part of a broader effort to strengthen parental control over what children read, while critics denounced it as old-fashioned censorship. The hearing focused less on the merits of the books or First Amendment issues and more on flaws with Virginia’s obscenity law.
Washington DC – D.C. Office Of Campaign Finance Will Investigate Ward 3 Poll Conducted by Councilmember Elissa Silverman
DCist – Callan Tansill-Suddath | Published: 8/26/2022
The Office of Campaign Finance confirmed it will investigate a complaint against District of Columbia Councilperson Elissa Silverman. The complaint says Silverman conducted a telephone poll of residents in Ward 3 ahead of the June 21 primary election and discussed the results with her preferred candidate in the race. That amounted to improper coordination between campaigns and an in-kind campaign contribution that should have been reported, according to the complaint.
Wisconsin – Former Milwaukee Ald. Chantia Lewis Has Seen Sentenced to 30 Days in Custody, 3 Years’ Probation
Yahoo News – Alison Dirr (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) | Published: 8/25/2022
Former Milwaukee Ald. Chantia Lewis was sentenced to 30 days in custody as a condition of three years’ probation following her conviction on two felonies related to her conduct in office. Lewis was removed from office after pleading guilty to a count of misconduct in public office and no contest to a count of intentionally accepting an illegal campaign finance disbursement. Prosecutors said she took at least $21,666 in campaign funds and false travel reimbursements from the city between 2016 and 2020.
September 1, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “Experts Say a Trump-Backed Charity Is Pushing the Boundaries of Tax Law” by Tom Dreisbach for National Public Radio New York: “Skirting Ethics Order, Hochul Seeks Donations from Cuomo Appointees” by Jay Root (New York Times) for […]
National: “Experts Say a Trump-Backed Charity Is Pushing the Boundaries of Tax Law” by Tom Dreisbach for National Public Radio
New York: “Skirting Ethics Order, Hochul Seeks Donations from Cuomo Appointees” by Jay Root (New York Times) for archive.today
Florida: “DeSantis Election Investigation Chief Told Local Officials They Face ‘No Fault’ for Felons Voting” by Matt Dixon (Politico) for MSN
Kentucky: “Citing Conflict, Scott County Residents Sue to Remove Judge Candidate from Ballot” by Taylor Six (Lexington Herald-Leader) for MSN
National: “Justice Dept. Says Trump Team May Have Hidden, Moved Classified Papers” by Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Garland Bans Campaign Activity by Justice Dept. Political Appointees” by Perry Stein (Washington Post) for MSN
Delaware: “Judge Upholds Two of Delaware Auditor’s Three Convictions” by Randall Chase (Associated Press) for MSN
South Dakota: “‘Nobody Thought This Would Be a Governor’: Noem complaint leads to key chapter in short life of ethics board” by Jason Hayward for Fargo Forum
Virginia: “Judge Throws Out Obscenity Case Attempting to Restrict Sales of Books in Virginia Beach” by Graham Moomaw for Virginia Mercury
California: “L.A. Council Fails to Pick a Replacement for Ridley-Thomas, Exposing a Divide at City Hall” by David Zahniser (Los Angeles Times) for Yahoo News
August 31, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “Document Reveals Identity of Donors Who Secretly Funded Nikki Haley’s Political Nonprofit” by Alex Isenstadt (Politico) for Yahoo News Michigan: “Romulus Ex-Mayor Burcroff Pleads Guilty in Federal Corruption Case” by Robert Snell for Detroit News Elections National: […]
National: “Document Reveals Identity of Donors Who Secretly Funded Nikki Haley’s Political Nonprofit” by Alex Isenstadt (Politico) for Yahoo News
Michigan: “Romulus Ex-Mayor Burcroff Pleads Guilty in Federal Corruption Case” by Robert Snell for Detroit News
National: “Fox News Stars Questioned by Election Tech Company in Defamation Case” by Rachel Weiner and Jeremy Barr (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “They Were Some of the Last Journalists at Their Papers. Then Came the Layoffs.” by Elahe Izadi (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “A Sacramento School Trustee Walked Out of a Hotel with a Vase. Now She’s Reprimanded by Board” by Jason Pohl and Sawsan Morrar (Sacramento Bee) for MSN
Florida: “Miami-Dade Commissioner Martinez Surrenders at Jail as Warrant Details Corruption Probe” by David Ovalle and Douglas Hanks (Miami Herald) for MSN
Illinois: “Pritzker’s Personal Fortune Intersects with State Contracts” by David Jackson, Grace Golembiewski, and Chuck Neubauer for Better Government Association
New Jersey: “Legislative Resolutions Raise the Question: What’s the point?” by Dana DiFilippo for New Jersey Monitor
August 26, 2022 •
National/Federal An Unusual $1.6 Billion Donation Bolsters Conservatives Seattle Times – Kenneth Vogel and Shane Goldmacher (New York Times) | Published: 8/22/2022 A new conservative group received $1.6 billion from one donor, which among the largest – if not the largest […]
An Unusual $1.6 Billion Donation Bolsters Conservatives
Seattle Times – Kenneth Vogel and Shane Goldmacher (New York Times) | Published: 8/22/2022
A new conservative group received $1.6 billion from one donor, which among the largest – if not the largest – single contributions ever made to a politically focused nonprofit. The source of the money was Barre Seid, an electronics manufacturing mogul. The beneficiary is a nonprofit controlled by Leonard Leo, an activist who has used his connections to Republican donors and politicians to help engineer the conservative dominance of the Supreme Court and to finance battles over abortion rights, voting rules, and climate change policy.
Ex-Interior Secretary Zinke Lied to Investigators in Casino Case, Watchdog Finds
MSN – Lisa Rein and Anna Phillips (Washington Post) | Published: 8/24/2022
Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, the leading contender to win a new U.S. House seat representing Montana this fall, lied to investigators several times about conversations he had with federal officials, lawmakers, and lobbyists about a petition by two Indian tribes to operate a casino in New England, the department’s watchdog said. Investigators concluded that when questioned about his talks with Interior attorneys and others outside the department, Zinke and his then-chief of staff failed to comply with their “duty of candor” as public officials to tell the truth, the report said.
Federal Campaign Spending on Childcare Expenses Grows in 2022 Midterms
OpenSecrets – Taylor Giorno | Published: 8/17/2022
Federal candidates are on track to spend more money on childcare ahead of 2022 midterms than in either of the previous two election cycles. For the first time since the FEC approved the expense in 2018, men are driving the increase in childcare expenditures. U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell’s campaign spent more money on childcare than any other male federal candidate this election cycle as of June 30. A record number of mothers were sworn into Congress in 2019. But an analysis shows fewer women are using federal funds to cover childcare expenses this election cycle.
Files Copied from Voting Systems Were Shared with Trump Supporters, Election Deniers
MSN – Jon Swaine, Aaron Davis, Amy Gardner, and Emma Brown (Washington Post) | Published: 8/22/2022
Sensitive election system files obtained by attorneys working to overturn former President Trump’s 2020 defeat were shared with election deniers, conspiracy theorists, and right-wing commentators. A computer forensics firm hired by the attorneys placed the files on a server, where company records show they were downloaded dozens of times. The records include contracts between the firm and the Trump-allied attorneys, notably Sidney Powell. The data files are described as copies of components from election systems in Coffee County, Georgia, and Antrim County, Michigan.
‘It’s a Rip-Off’: GOP spending under fire as Senate hopefuls seek rescue
MSN – Isaac Arnsdorf (Washington Post) | Published: 8/19/2022
Republican U.S. Senate hopefuls are getting crushed on airwaves across the country while their national campaign fund is pulling ads and running low on cash, leading some campaign advisers to demand an audit of the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s (NRSC) finances. The NRSC canceled bookings worth about $10 million. A spokesperson said the NRSC is not abandoning those races but prioritizing ad spots that are shared with campaigns and benefit from discounted rates. Still, the cancellations forfeit cheaper prices that came from booking early, and better budgeting could have covered both.
Justice Dept. Memo to Not Charge Trump in Russia Probe Released
MSN – Devlin Barrett and Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) | Published: 8/24/2022
The Justice Department released the entire text of a secret 2019 memo that laid out the legal rationale for not charging then-President Trump with committing obstruction of justice in the investigation into whether Russia interfered in the 2016 election. The memo says no potential instances of obstruction of justice by Trump that were cited by special counsel Robert Mueller III’s “would warrant a prosecution for obstruction of justice,” regardless of whether the person being investigated was a sitting president.
New Claims Against Ex-Miami Congressman Hired by Venezuela
Yahoo News – Joshua Goodman (Associated Press) | Published: 8/20/2022
Former U.S. Rep. David Rivera, who signed a $50 million consulting contract with Venezuela’s socialist government, not only did no apparent work, but also channeled a large chunk of the money to a yacht company on behalf of a fugitive billionaire, according to new allegations in a civil suit. Rivera’s Interamerican Consulting was sued by PDV USA, a Delaware-based affiliate of Venezuelan-owned Citgo. It alleges Rivera performed no work for the $50 million contract he signed in 2017 for three months of “strategic consulting” meant to build bridges with key U.S. stakeholders.
Rep. Cawthorn Tells Feds He Forgot About $236K; Sends Amended Campaign Finance Report
Yahoo News – Joe Burgess (Asheville Citizen-Times) | Published: 8/22/2022
Days after filing a mandatory federal campaign finance document whose month-late arrival could garner him more than $17,000 in fines, U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn has filed another document saying he got the first report wrong. That is because he forgot about the $235,566 that he personally gave the campaign, the latest report says. While amendments such as the one Cawthorn filed are not uncommon, ones that show large changes can trigger FEC action, said FEC spokesperson Mills Martin. “What is part of the amendment that might be looked at by the FEC are what the changes are and what the additional amounts are,” Martin said.
Republicans Turn Against League of Women Voters
ProPublica – Megan O’Matz | Published: 8/18/2022
The League of Women Voters, known for focusing on voter registration, hosting debates, and conducting candidate surveys, has been more visible recently in advocating for issues like racial equity and abortion rights. As a result, the league is drawing criticism in ways that are extraordinary for the once-staid group. Republicans are pushing back, casting it as a collection of angry leftists. With more right-leaning candidates snubbing the league, voters are less likely to hear directly from those candidates in unscripted forums. That pushback sidelines the league at a time when misinformation has become a significant force in elections at every level.
Some Companies’ Political Spending Fuel Voter Suppression. Shareholders are Pushing Back
Fast Company – Kathryn Kranhold (Capital & Main) | Published: 8/25/2022
Shareholders are pressuring some of the largest American corporations to account for political spending that may be aiding voter suppression or election interference. In the past, shareholder activism has focused mostly on corporate-responsibility causes, such as environmental issues and pay equity between men and women as well as governance like executive pay. The newest movement, addressing threats to democracy, is gaining traction.
Trump Had More Than 300 Classified Documents at Mar-a-Lago
Yahoo News – Maggie Haberman, Jodi Kantor, Adam Goldman, and Ben Protess (New York Times) | Published: 8/22/2022
The initial batch of documents retrieved by the National Archives from former President Trump in January included more than 150 marked as classified, a number that ignited concern at the Justice Department and helped trigger the investigation that led FBI agents to search Mar-a-Lago seeking to recover more, people briefed on the matter said. In total, the government has recovered more than 300 documents with classified markings from Trump since he left office. The volume of the sensitive material found in Trump’s possession helps explain why the Justice Department moved so urgently to hunt down any further classified materials he might have.
Trump Kept More Than 700 Pages of Classified Documents, Letter from National Archives Says
Minneapolis Star Tribune – Alan Feuer (New York Times) | Published: 8/23/2022
Donald Trump took more than 700 pages of classified documents, including some related to the nation’s most covert intelligence operations, to his private club and residence in Florida when he left the White House, according to a letter the National Archives sent to his lawyers. The letter described the alarm in the Justice Department as officials realized how serious the documents were. It also suggested top prosecutors and members of the intelligence community were delayed in conducting a damage assessment about the documents’ removal as Trump’s lawyers tried to argue some of them might have been protected by executive privilege.
White Coats in the State Capital: OB-GYNs become political force in abortion wars
Yahoo News – Alice Miranda Ollstein and Megan Messerly (Politico) | Published: 8/22/2022
Physicians, many of whom have never mobilized politically, are banding together in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, lobbying state lawmakers, testifying before committees, forming PACs, and launching online campaigns against proposed abortion restrictions. Lawmakers who are physicians are using their medical backgrounds to persuade colleagues to scale back some of the more restrictive and punitive portions of anti-abortion laws being considered. The new groups’ early successes in some of the nation’s most conservative states signal the power they hope to wield in the coming months as well as in years to come.
Canada – Ethics Investigation Flags Problem with Transparency in Alberta’s Lobbyist Act
MSN – Hamdi Issawi (Edmonton Journal) | Published: 8/22/2022
One of Alberta’s rules for registering lobbyists needs to change “to promote public transparency” according to a recent investigation by the province’s office of the ethics commissioner. The office began an investigation in May to determine whether Mark Kuspira, the owner of a business known as Crush Imports, had breached the Lobbyists Act – specifically whether he failed to appropriately file a return with the lobbyist registry, and whether he had been lobbying without a filed return.
From the States and Municipalities
Alaska – Ranked Choice Voting, in First Test in Alaska, Is Already Under Attack
Yahoo News – Nathaniel Herz (Anchorage Daily News) | Published: 8/17/2022
Alaskans went to the polls on August 16 for the first time using a new ranked choice system that is already under attack by a number of the politicians competing within it, and voters, in interviews, offered wide-ranging reviews. Many said they like the new system and called it intuitive. But there was also anger from voters across the political spectrum, even though much of the criticism of ranked choice has so far come from conservatives who assert it was set up to protect incumbent U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski from right-wing challengers.
Arizona – Court Battles Rage Over 3 Arizona Voter Initiatives
MSN – Bob Christie (Associated Press) | Published: 8/15/2022
Proponents of three voter initiatives who each turned in hundreds of thousands of signatures to qualify them for the November ballot are trying to beat back legal challenges that could prevent them from going before voters. Two of the measures – one requiring disclosure of who is funding political campaigns and another rolling back or blocking efforts by Republicans to tighten voting rules – are being challenged by pro-business groups. They alleged paid petition circulators made errors or omitted required information on their registrations with the secretary of state or petitions.
Arkansas – Court Tosses Arkansas Law Limiting Election Helpers
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette – Doug Thompson | Published: 8/23/2022
A 2009 Arkansas law forbidding one person from acting as translator for more than six voters in casting their ballots violates the federal Voting Rights Act, U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Brooks ruled. A provision of the 1965 law allows voters who require assistance because of an inability to read or write to get assistance from a person of the voter’s choice, Brooks said. His order told state and county election officials to cease trying to enforce the six-person limit and strike all mention of it from election materials.
Arkansas – Settlement Requires Arkansas Senator to Unblock Critics
MSN – Andrew DeMillo (Associated Press) | Published: 8/17/2022
Arkansas Sen. Jason Rapert will be required to unblock critics from his social media accounts under a settlement a national atheists’ group. Rapert is required to remove any restrictions on his social media accounts and will have to pay more than $16,000 to American Atheists for costs related to a lawsuit. Rapert said he is the founder and president of the National Association of Christian Lawmakers, which works to “restore the Judeo-Christian foundations of our government.”
California – California Targets Local Recall Election ‘Hyperpartisanship’
MSN – Don Thompson (Associated Press) | Published: 8/23/2022
Democratic lawmakers moved to limit the “hyperpartisanship” they said has increasingly corrupted California’s local recall elections, over the objection of Republicans who said it could boost costs and thwart voters’ will. Currently, voters generally decide whether to recall a sitting official and choose that official’s replacement at the same time and on the same ballot. But that could result in a replacement taking office with a minority of votes in a multi-candidate field, and with potentially fewer votes than the official who is ousted.
California – Judge Issues Order That Keeps Herb Wesson Off the L.A. City Council
MSN – David Zahniser (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 8/23/2022
A judge barred former Los Angeles City Councilperson Herb Wesson from returning to City Hall as a temporary fill-in for council member Mark Ridley-Thomas for at least two months, leaving his district without a voting representative. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California has argued Wesson is barred under the city’s term limit law from returning to the council while Ridley-Thomas fights corruption charges. Wesson served more than three terms, the maximum allowed, before being appointed to the temporary post earlier this year.
California – This Former L.A. Politician Took Cash in Envelopes. Now He’s Been Fined $79,830
MSN – David Zahniser (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 8/17/2022
Five years ago, Los Angeles City Councilperson Mitchell Englander took a fateful trip to Las Vegas with a clutch of businesspeople and city staffers, accepting a free hotel room, expensive liquor, and an envelope containing $10,000, among other things. That trip eventually led to a 14-month prison sentence for Englander. The city Ethics Commission voted recently to levy a $79,830 penalty against him for violating gift laws. Commission investigators concluded Englander far exceeded the city’s limits on gifts to public officials, failed to fully report those gifts, and misused his position as a council member.
Florida – DeSantis’s New Election Crimes Unit Makes Its First Arrests
MSN – Lori Rozsa and Tim Craig (Washington Post) | Published: 8/18/2022
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the first arrests made by the state’s new elections police force – twenty people previously incarcerated for murder or sexual assault who he said had illegally voted in the 2020 election. The Florida Legislature passed a bill creating the Office of Election Crimes and Security earlier this year at DeSantis’s behest. While the 2020 election went smoothly in Florida – DeSantis called it the “gold standard” for elections – the governor has said there are still issues and conservative lawmakers have sought to further tighten voting regulations.
Florida – Judge Blocks Florida’s ‘Stop Woke Act’ Restrictions for Private Companies
MSN – Tim Craig (Washington Post) | Published: 8/18/2022
A federal judge ruled that a Florida law restricting workplace bias or diversity training violates the First Amendment and cannot be enforced. U.S. District Court Judge Mark Walker said Florida has turned “the First Amendment upside down” by trying to regulate how employers train employees on topics such as racial inclusion and gender equity. The “Stop Woke Act” prohibits trainings in public schools, colleges and universities, and workplaces that may cause someone to feel guilty or ashamed about the past collective actions of their race or sex. A violation of the act is an offense under state anti-discrimination laws.
Georgia – Georgia PSC Elections Again Delayed After High Court Ruling
MSN – Jeff Amy (Associated Press) | Published: 8/19/2022
Two Georgia Public Service Commission elections will not occur this November, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, reversing an earlier appeals court ruling that allowed them to proceed. Instead, the justices reverted to the original decision by a federal judge in Atlanta that postponed the vote after finding that electing the five commissioners statewide illegally diluted Black votes. The Supreme Court ruled U.S. District Court Judge Steven Grimberg’s decision did not come too close to the election.
Georgia – Sen. Graham Gets Temporary Reprieve in Testifying Before Ga. Grand Jury
MSN – Amy Wang and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) | Published: 8/21/2022
A federal appeals court has temporarily paused an order that would have required U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham to testify before a Georgia grand jury investigating Republican efforts to reverse the 2020 presidential election results in the state. The legal maneuvering is the latest sign of tension between prosecutors and high-profile witnesses in the Fulton County district attorney’s expansive criminal probe of alleged election interference by former President Trump and his allies. After seeking repeated delays, Rudy Giuliani testified for six hours recently.
Michigan – Jury Convicts Adam Fox, Barry Croft Jr. in Whitmer Kidnapping Plot
MSN – Tresa Baldas (Detroit Free Press) | Published: 8/23/2022
In a do-over for the government, a federal jury convicted two men charged with plotting to kidnap and kill Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer out of anger over her handling of the pandemic, ending a trial that highlighted the growth of violent extremism in America. Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr. were convicted on all counts and face up to life in prison. The men were judged by a second, more diverse jury than in the first trial, which ended with no convictions for the government. Two men were acquitted in that trial and the jury deadlocked on charges against Fox and Croft Jr., triggering a mistrial that prompted the government to try again.
Missouri – Ex-St. Louis Alderman John Collins-Muhammad Admits Federal Corruption Charges
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Joel Currier | Published: 8/23/2022
Former St. Louis Alderman John Collins-Muhammad pleaded guilty in a federal bribery case against him and two other ex-city officials. He admitted to theft or bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds, racketeering, and wire fraud. Collins-Muhammad is the first of three ex-council members to plead guilty after being indicted on charges of accepting cash bribes from a local businessperson in exchange for tax breaks. He admitted accepting $7,000 in cash, $3,000 in campaign donations, a new iPhone 11, and a 2016 Volkswagen CC sedan in exchange for his help.
New Jersey – Car Insurance Bills Shine Spotlight on Lawmaker Ethics
New Jersey Monitor – Sophie Nieto-Munoz | Published: 8/23/2022
In New Jersey’s part-time Legislature, lawmakers are often involved in legislation related directly to their full-time careers. Often these votes generate little controversy, especially if the bills pass with wide support. While watchdogs might voice concerns about conflicts-of-interest, lawmakers say their day jobs offer an insider’s knowledge that helps them better shape potential policy. But sometimes public policy can lead to financial windfalls. That is why questions are swirling about whether two top lawmakers will financially benefit from a package of bills Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law recently.
New York – Lobbyists Navigate a More Civil Yet Nuanced Landscape in Albany
City & State – Tim Murphy | Published: 8/22/2022
For a decade, and until only about a year ago, lobbyists, advocates, consultants, and others seeking to influence Albany all feared one thing: the wrath of then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his close advisors. Dealing with Cuomo’s inner circle was never pleasant, according to lobbyists, but cross them and they would lash out. In the past year with Gov. Kathy Hochul, they said that has changed.
North Carolina – N.C. Attorney General Can’t Be Charged with Crime Over Campaign Ad – Yet
MSN – Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) | Published: 8/24/2022
An appeals court temporarily blocked an investigation into North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein over a negative campaign ad, saying the state law he is accused of violating is probably unconstitutional. The debate turns on a 1931 law that criminalized the publication of a “derogatory” campaign ad, “knowing such report to be false or in reckless disregard of its truth or falsity.” A grand jury is investigating whether Stein lied during his successful 2020 reelection campaign in an ad blaming his Republican rival for a backlog of untested rape kits. Even if the ad was false, Stein argued, it would be protected under current First Amendment doctrine.
Ohio – Cleveland Businessman Tony George Was Go-Between for FirstEnergy, Ex-House Speaker Larry Householder Over Nuclear Bailout
MSN – Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 8/22/2022
New documents reveal a close relationship between Cleveland restaurateur Tony George and FirstEnergy in the House Bill 6 bribery scheme, with George acting as an intermediary between top company officials and now-indicted former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder. Tracy Aston, FirstEnergy’s assistant controller, identified George as “Individual B” in the utility’s deferred prosecution agreement with federal authorities. The agreement says “Individual B” was in communication with now-fired FirstEnergy Chief Executive Officer Chuck Jones about an early effort to bail out two nuclear power plants, as well as an aborted effort by Householder to skirt state term limits.
Ohio – The Hidden Role of a Religious Lobbying Group in Ohio’s Education ‘Backpack Bill’
Ohio Capital Journal – Zurie Pope | Published: 8/24/2022
An Ohio bill that would send public education money to private schools if a student chooses to attend one was written with help from religious lobbying group the Center for Christian Virtue (CCV) and a think tank that promotes charter schools. Documents reveal CCV’s involvement in House Bill has been more extensive than previously known and included the advice and promotion of outside groups like Heritage Action and the American Legislative Exchange Council.
Pennsylvania – Philly’s Board of Ethics Will Consider Banning Super PAC ‘Redboxing’ Ahead of the 2023 Mayoral Race
Philadelphia Inquirer – Sean Collins Walsh | Published: 8/17/2022
The Philadelphia Board of Ethics heard testimony on whether it should tighten rules aimed at preventing campaigns from indirectly communicating with political groups that can raise and spend money in unlimited amounts but are prohibited from coordinating with candidates. A proposed amendment that aims to crack down on a new strategy known as “redboxing” that some candidates for federal office have used to give instructions to supportive outside spending groups without communicating with them directly. But election lawyers say the wording of the amendment is too broad and could unintentionally capture normal campaign messaging.
South Dakota – SD Gov. Kristi Noem May Have ‘Engaged in Misconduct,’ Ethics Board Says
NBC News – Associated Press | Published: 8/23/2022
The South Dakota Government Accountability Board said it found sufficient information that Gov. Kristi Noem may have “engaged in misconduct” when she intervened in her daughter’s application for a real estate appraiser’s license, and it referred a separate complaint over her airplane use to the state attorney general for investigation. She is under scrutiny from the board after Jason Ravnsborg, the former attorney general, filed complaints that stemmed from media reports on Noem’s actions in office. The governor has denied any wrongdoing.
Tennessee – Former Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada, Cade Cothren Plead Not Guilty to Federal Corruption Charges
MSN – Melissa Brown and Adam Friedman (Tennessean) | Published: 8/23/2022
Former Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada and his onetime chief of staff, Cade Cothren, were arrested on federal corruption charges including bribery, kickbacks, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Prosecutors allege the pair ran a shadowy political consulting firm fronted by Cothren to solicit General Assembly business and siphon off kickbacks. Casada is the first current or former House speaker to be indicted in state history. He resigned as speaker amid a texting scandal over sexually explicit and racist conversations with Cothren.
Texas – Election Staff Abruptly Quits, Upending Rural Texas County
MSN – Paul Weber (Associated Press) | Published: 8/22/2022
Part of why Terry Hamilton says he abruptly left his job running elections in Gillespie County, Texas, is by now a familiar story in America – he became fed up with the harassment that followed the 2020 election. But this was no ordinary exit. On the brink of November’s midterm elections, it was not just Hamilton who quit but also the only other full-time election worker. The sudden emptying of an entire local elections department came less than 70 days before voters start casting ballots.
Texas – One Former and One Current State Rep Are Set to Get Part of Lucrative Houston Airport Contracts
AviationPros – Dylan McGuinness (Houston Chronicle) | Published: 8/18/2022
The Houston City Council passed a lucrative contract granting food and beverage shops inside Bush Intercontinental Airport to a partnership that includes a former legislative colleague and longtime friend of Mayor Sylvester Turner. The city said it will publicly announce the vendors after the second contract passes City Council. An affiliate of SSP Group is leading the food and beverage contract. Multiplex Inc., the concessions company founded by former state Rep. Helen Giddings of Dallas, is a junior partner in that deal. The SSP deal also involves Karen Garcia, the wife of Roland Garcia, who chaired the city’s Hispanic Advisory Council for Turner.
Texas – Texas Bans Local, State Government Entities from Doing Business with Firms That ‘Boycott’ Fossil Fuels
Texas Tribune – Mitchell Ferman | Published: 8/24/2022
Texas banned 10 financial firms from doing business with the state after Comptroller Glenn Hegar said they did not support the oil and gas industry. Hegar sent inquiries to hundreds of financial companies earlier this year requesting information about whether they were avoiding investments in the oil and gas industry in favor of renewable energy companies. The survey was a result of a new law that went into effect in September and prohibits most state agencies, as well as local governments, from contracting with firms that have cut ties with carbon-emitting energy companies.
Washington – ‘Gold Standard’ or Unconstitutional? Facebook and Wash. State AG Spar Over Political Ad Disclosure Law
MSN – Todd Bishop (GeekWire) | Published: 8/16/2022
Facebook parent company Meta and Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson agree on this: the state’s campaign advertising disclosure law is exceptional. But is that good or bad – and more importantly, is the law constitutional? That is a matter of significant disagreement as both sides prepare for a key hearing in King County Superior Court in Seattle. It promises to be a pivotal moment in a long-running dispute over the state’s public disclosure requirements for tech platforms that run campaign ads.
Wyoming – Secretary of State Halts Unusual Effort to Put Candidate on Ballot Against Gray
Casper Star-Tribune – Victoria Eavis | Published: 8/23/2022
The Wyoming secretary of state’s office quashed an effort to put an independent challenger on the ballot to run against state Rep. Chuck Gray, the Republican secretary of state nominee. After Sen. Cale Case challenged the secretary of state’s interpretation of a statute that requires all independent candidates to sign off on their own candidacy, the chief elections office ruled against him. Case was attempting to get former legislator Nathan Winters on the ballot as an independent, despite the fact that Winters does not want to run.
August 24, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “‘It’s a Rip-Off’: GOP spending under fire as Senate hopefuls seek rescue” by Isaac Arnsdorf (Washington Post) for MSN Elections National: “Files Copied from Voting Systems Were Shared with Trump Supporters, Election Deniers” by Jon Swaine, Aaron […]
National: “‘It’s a Rip-Off’: GOP spending under fire as Senate hopefuls seek rescue” by Isaac Arnsdorf (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Files Copied from Voting Systems Were Shared with Trump Supporters, Election Deniers” by Jon Swaine, Aaron Davis, Amy Gardner, and Emma Brown (Washington Post) for MSN
Texas: “Election Staff Abruptly Quits, Upending Rural Texas County” by Paul Weber (Associated Press) for MSN
National: “Trump Had More Than 300 Classified Documents at Mar-a-Lago” by Maggie Haberman, Jodi Kantor, Adam Goldman, and Ben Protess (New York Times) for Yahoo News
Michigan: “Jury Convicts Adam Fox, Barry Croft Jr. in Whitmer Kidnapping Plot” by Tresa Baldas (Detroit Free Press) for MSN
Ohio: “Cleveland Businessman Tony George Was Go-Between for FirstEnergy, Ex-House Speaker Larry Householder Over Nuclear Bailout” by Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) for MSN
South Dakota: “SD Gov. Kristi Noem May Have ‘Engaged in Misconduct,’ Ethics Board Says” by Associated Press for NBC News
Tennessee: “Former Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada, Cade Cothren Plead Not Guilty to Federal Corruption Charges” by Melissa Brown and Adam Friedman (Tennessean) for MSN
California: “Judge Issues Order That Keeps Herb Wesson Off the L.A. City Council” by David Zahniser (Los Angeles Times) for MSN
Canada: “Ethics Investigation Flags Problem with Transparency in Alberta’s Lobbyist Act” by Hamdi Issawi (Edmonton Journal) for MSN
August 19, 2022 •
National/Federal FBI Arrests Ex-Congressman on Charges of Fraud and Money Laundering MSN – Praveena Somasundaram (Washington Post) | Published: 8/16/2022 Former U.S. Rep. TJ Cox was indicted on 28 charges, including 15 counts of wire fraud and one count of campaign […]
FBI Arrests Ex-Congressman on Charges of Fraud and Money Laundering
MSN – Praveena Somasundaram (Washington Post) | Published: 8/16/2022
Former U.S. Rep. TJ Cox was indicted on 28 charges, including 15 counts of wire fraud and one count of campaign contribution fraud. The indictment says Cox schemed to fund and reimburse people close to him for donations to his campaign. Federal laws do not allow “conduit” or “straw” donations, in which someone makes a political contribution through someone else to their own campaign.
Federal Judiciary Can’t Stop Support Staff from Political Activity
MSN – Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) | Published: 8/18/2022
In March 2018, while weighing candidates for governor in Maryland, Lisa Guffey wanted to attend an event featuring Democrat Ben Jealous. She was told she could not. Her employer, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, had two days earlier imposed new rules barring all employees from expressing political views, attending political events, or engaging in political activity. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has now deemed those restrictions unconstitutional.
Homeland Security Watchdog Cuffari Faces Rebukes from Lawmakers in Missing Texts Case
MSN – Maria Sacchetti (Washington Post) | Published: 8/16/2022
The Department of Homeland Security’s chief watchdog rejected calls from leading Democratic legislators to recuse himself from the investigation into the erasure of text messages that Secret Service agents exchanged during the attack on the Capitol, drawing fresh rebukes from lawmakers. Inspector General Joseph Cuffari said in a letter that he would not share investigative documents or allow his top lieutenants to sit for transcribed interviews before House committees investigating the attack, nor would he provide documents that lawmakers requested.
Jan. 6 Grand Jury Has Subpoenaed White House Documents
Seattle Times – Alan Feuer, Luke Broadwater, and Maggie Haberman (New York Times) | Published: 8/17/2022
Federal prosecutors investigating the role that former President Trump and his allies played in the events leading up to the attack on the U.S. Capitol issued a grand jury subpoena to the National Archives for all the documents the agency provided to a parallel House select committee inquiry. The subpoena, issued to the National Archives in May, made a sweeping demand for “all materials, in whatever form” the archives had given to the January 6 House committee. Those materials included records from the files of Trump’s top aides, his daily schedule, and phone logs and a draft text of the president’s speech that preceded the riot.
Justice Department Opposes Release of Mar-a-Lago Affidavit
MSN – Perry Stein (Washington Post) | Published: 8/15/2022
The Justice Department asked a judge to keep sealed the affidavit underpinning the FBI’s search of former President Trump’s Florida residence, a document thought to hold key details about the government’s investigation into the potential mishandling of classified materials. The court filing was made in response to requests from multiple media outlets seeking the affidavit’s public release. Affidavits typically contain information addressing why authorities think there is evidence at a certain property and other details about a probe. The Justice Department argued that releasing the affidavit could hamper its investigation and potentially harm those involved.
Justice Department Subpoenas Trump White House Lawyer Eric Herschmann
MSN – Betsy Woodruff Swan (Politico) | Published: 8/15/2022
A federal grand jury investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol subpoenaed Trump White House lawyer Eric Herschmann for documents and testimony. Herschmann represented Donald Trump in the former president’s first impeachment trial and later joined the White House as a senior adviser. He did not work in the White House counsel’s office but did provide Trump with legal advice. Because of that responsibility, there will likely be litigation over the scope of the subpoena and over how executive and attorney-client privileges may limit Herschmann’s ability to comply.
Liz Cheney Loses Primary While Vowing Effort to Keep Trump from White House
MSN – Paul Kane and Hannah Knowles (Washington Post) | Published: 8/16/2022
Rep. Liz Cheney, the once-high-ranking Republican who defied her party to wage a lonely crusade against former President Trump, lost her primary by a wide margin while vowing she would do everything in her power to keep Trump from returning to the White House. Harriet Hageman, a lawyer with Trump’s endorsement, ousted Cheney, clinching the GOP nomination for Wyoming’s only U.S. House seat.
On TikTok, Election Misinformation Thrives Ahead of Midterms
Seattle Times – Tiffany Hsu (New York Times) | Published: 8/14/2022
Ahead of the midterm elections this fall, TikTok is shaping up to be a primary incubator of baseless and misleading information, in many ways as problematic as Facebook and Twitter, say researchers who track online falsehoods. The same qualities that allow TikTok to fuel viral dance fads – the platform’s enormous reach, the short length of its videos, its powerful but poorly understood recommendation algorithm – can also make inaccurate claims difficult to contain. Baseless conspiracy theories about certain voter fraud in November are widely viewed on TikTok, which globally has more than a billion active users each month.
Sinema Took Wall Street Money While Killing Tax on Investors
MSN – Brian Slodysko (Associated Press) | Published: 8/14/2022
U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who single-handedly thwarted her party’s longtime goal of raising taxes on wealthy investors, received nearly $1 million over the last year from private equity professionals, hedge fund managers, and venture capitalists whose taxes would have increased under the plan. For years, Democrats have promised to raise taxes on such investors, who pay a significantly lower rate on their earnings than ordinary workers. But Sinema forced a series of changes to the $740-billion election-year spending package.
Trump-Allied Lawyers Pursued Voting Machine Data in Multiple States, Records Reveal
Anchorage Daily News – Emma Brown, Jon Swaine, Aaron Davis, and Amy Gardner (Washington Post) | Published: 8/15/2022
A team of computer experts directed by lawyers allied with former President Trump copied sensitive data from election systems in Georgia as part of a secretive, multistate effort to access voting equipment that was broader, more organized, and more successful than previously reported. As they worked to overturn Trump’s 2020 election defeat, the lawyers asked a forensic data firm to access county election systems in at least three battleground states. There is growing concern among experts that officials sympathetic to Trump’s claims of vote-rigging could undermine election security in the name of protecting it.
Trump’s Angry Words Spur Warnings of Real Violence
MSN – David Klepper (Associated Press) | Published: 8/16/2022
A growing number of ardent Donald Trump supporters seem ready to strike back against the FBI or others who they believe go too far in investigating the former president. Law enforcement officials across the country are warning and being warned about an increase in threats and the potential for violent attacks on federal agents or buildings in the wake of the FBI’s search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence. Experts who study radicalization and online disinformation note the recent increase was sparked by a legal search of Trump’s home. What might happen in the event of arrests or indictments?
Trump’s Secrets: How a records dispute led the FBI to search Mar-a-Lago
MSN – Josh Dawsey, Rosalind Helderman, Jacqueline Alemany, and Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 8/13/2022
The court-authorized search of Mar-a-Lago was a remarkable moment even for Donald Trump, who has been under investigation by state and federal prosecutors nearly continuously since he swore the oath of office in 2017. What began as a low-level dispute over the Trump White House’s chaotic and haphazard record-keeping had morphed into a deeply serious probe of whether the ex-president had endangered national security by hoarding highly classified documents, some potentially related to nuclear weapons. The events marked a turning point in the Justice Department’s posture toward Trump.
Vance, DeSantis Rally Puts ‘Highly Unusual’ Restrictions on Press
MSN – Jeremy Barr (Washington Post) | Published: 8/16/2022
Journalists hoping to cover a Republican rally featuring Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Senate candidate J.D. Vance in Ohio will have to agree to give organizers access to any footage they take and could face questions about what it will be used for. That is among the controversial restrictions placed on journalists as a condition of receiving a press pass to cover the event, which is being organized by Turning Point Action, a conservative nonprofit led by activist Charlie Kirk.
From the States and Municipalities
California – A Bay Area Councilman Had a 14-Year-Old as His Campaign Treasurer. Regulators Want to Put a Kibosh on That.
MSN – Gabriel Greschler (Bay Area News Group) | Published: 8/11/2022
In a ruling released in May that included $15,000 in fines for multiple campaign-related violations, the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) noted Milpitas City Councilperson Anthony Phan hired his 14-year-old cousin as his campaign treasurer. Phan told authorities he gave the teenager $43,000 in cash in a shoebox, and the money was later misreported on campaign disclosures. Now, a newly proposed rule from FPPC staff would prohibit minors from serving in key positions like treasurer or campaign strategist.
California – California Lawmaker Faces Scandal After Lobbyist Tweets About Alleged Affair
MSN – Ken Carlson (Sacramento Bee) | Published: 8/12/2022
State Assemblyperson Heath Flora is dealing with revelations of alleged extramarital affairs as he completes a third term and considers other ambitions. Emily Hughes, a lobbyist for the California Medical Association before she left the job in May, wrote about their relationship on Twitter. The purported involvement with a medical industry lobbyist can create an ethics problem for Flora, who is a member of the Assembly Health Committee. A romantic relationship with a medical industry lobbyist triggers conflict-of-interest rules that might require Flora to abstain from matters before the committee. It also triggers limits on the value of gifts.
California – California Lawmakers Use Secretive Process to Kill Would-Be Laws: ‘Where good bills go to die’
MSN – Andrew Sheeler, Lindsey Holden, and Stephen Hobbs (Sacramento Bee) | Published: 8/16/2022
Twice a year, a legislative instrument called the suspense file leaves many California lawmakers, lobbyists, and members of the public seething. Appropriations committees in the state Senate and Assembly use it to kill or quietly amend bills before they can reach the floor. Proponents say the suspense file is a tool of efficiency, essential for screening the hundreds of bills that come through the Legislature each year for their potential fiscal impact. Detractors call it a burial ground, used by lawmakers for decades to bury politically hazardous measures before they are forced to vote on them.
California – In Wake of ‘Pay to Play’ Fine at OC’s Health Plan for the Poor, Legislators Consider Action
Voice of OC – Nick Gerda | Published: 8/17/2022
In the wake of a “pay-to-play” state fine raising questions about Orange County’s health care plan for the poor, state legislators are now considering banning county supervisors like Andrew Do from working for the agency in the year after they leave office. State regulators fined Do $12,000 for using his CalOptima board position to try to push through lobbying contracts for two of his campaign donors. A media report revealed Do has been growing his influence at the health plan, triggering concerns from local health care leaders and state legislators about the politicization of CalOptima.
Colorado – Colorado Secretary of State Considers New Rules to Implement Campaign Contribution Limits
Colorado Politics – Hannah Metzger | Published: 8/15/2022
The Colorado secretary of state’s office is considering new campaign finance regulations, issuing a notice of proposed rulemaking and scheduling a public hearing. The potential changes stem from two bills passed 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 1156, which updates reporting requirements for public officials.
Colorado – Public Money Supports Conservative Colorado Lobbying Group Through Membership Dues
Colorado Newsline – Zoe Schacht | Published: 8/15/2022
Membership in a conservative group that lobbies for property tax cuts and maintaining the Denver’s camping ban is not exclusive to chief executives of private companies. Higher-ups in publicly funded institutions such as universities have a seat at the table, meaning public money is being used to support the group’s conservative agenda. The University of Colorado’s involvement helps it maintain relationships with potential donors and creates networking opportunities for alumni, said Ken McConnellogue, the interim vice president for communications.
Connecticut – Port Authority Replaces Ethics Liaison, Weighs in on Previous Missteps
Connecticut Examiner – Brendan Crowley | Published: 8/16/2022
In a move reportedly unrelated to his recently announced ethics violation, the Connecticut Port Authority has replaced Andrew Lavigne as its liaison to the Office of State Ethics. Veronica Calvert, who recently re-joined the authority as its finance director, replaced Lavigne in the role. Lavigne’s involvement in the ethics violation drew scrutiny from at least one board member. David Pohorylo said it was a “shame” the violation resulted in board member Don Frost being replaced, “yet others who did accept gifts have suffered no consequences.”
Florida – DeSantis Sued by Prosecutor Suspended Over Stance on Abortion-Related Crime
MSN – Kim Bellware and Lateshia Beachum (Washington Post) | Published: 8/17/2022
A Florida prosecutor sued Gov. Ron DeSantis in a bid to be reinstated after he was dismissed from his post for pledging he would not prosecute cases stemming from the state’s 15-week abortion ban and potential bans on gender-affirming care. Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren argued his suspension was unlawful on First Amendment grounds and characterized his removal as “retaliation” by DeSantis against a critic and political rival.
Florida – Elections Panel Issues $21K Fine to Committee Connected to Associated Industries of Florida
Florida Politics – Gary Rohrer | Published: 8/16/2022
The Florida Election Commission issued a $21,250 fine to a political committee that has received more than $1.7 million from entities connected to Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) in the last four years. The sanction stems from an $85,000 transfer from the Floridians for Economic Advancement committee to Citizens for a United Florida Inc. in January 2021. The transfer was not reported to the state until November 2021. For such a sophisticated operation to have such a large payment go missing for nine months is suspicious, Commission Chairperson Nicholas Primrose said.
Florida – Mullins, ‘Potentially Bankrupt,’ Lists Different Net Worth Values on Two Legal Forms, but Says Both Are Accurate
Palm Coast Observer – Jonathan Simmons | Published: 8/14/2022
Flagler County Commission Chairperson Joe Mullins filed an August 2 document with the Circuit Court stating his net worth was negative $675,192.16 and he was “potentially bankrupt.” About two months before, he submitted a form to the Supervisor of Elections Office stating his net worth was (positive) $515,602. Mullins in a statement said the elections form and the court filing are both accurate despite the difference in the numbers, because the forms account for different things and were filed about two months apart.
Florida – This Florida Utility’s Secret Cash Helped GOP Win Gainesville State Senate Seat
Miami Herald – Mary Ellen Klaus, Nicholas Nehama, and Ana Claudia Chacin | Published: 8/5/2022
Florida Power & Light (FPL) wanted a Republican incumbent to retain a state Senate seat against a strong Democratic challenger. The utility used a nonprofit group, Broken Promises, to secretly bankroll a spoiler candidate. Running as a no-party candidate in the general election, that spoiler split the liberal vote, swinging the race to the incumbent. Broken Promises did not have to disclose its donors, so no one knew FPL paid to secretly manipulate a state election. It raises questions about whether the utility “subverted” a fair election, said Saurav Ghosh of the Campaign Legal Center.
Georgia – Giuliani Appears Before Georgia Grand Jury in Election Probe
MSN – Matthew Brown and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) | Published: 8/17/2022
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis achieved a long-sought goal with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani appearing for six hours before a grand jury investigating efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Giuliani, who is now the highest-profile member of former President Trump’s inner circle to appear before grand jurors, was informed he is a target of the inquiry. It is not clear what Giuliani said in his closed-door appearance. It came as Willis also saw new challenges to her inquiry.
Georgia – Judge Orders Graham to Testify in Atlanta-Area Trump Probe
Yahoo News – Kyle Cheney, Nicholas Wu, and Josh Gerstein (Politico) | Published: 8/16/2022
A federal judge turned down U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s bid to throw out a subpoena compelling him to testify before the Atlanta-area grand jury investigating Donald Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election. The ruling is a victory for District Attorney Fani Willis, who is leading the grand jury probe that resulted in a subpoena for Graham to appear for an interview. Investigators intend to query Graham about two phone calls with Georgia election officials, at the same time Trump was attempting to subvert his defeat, that included a discussion of the process for counting absentee ballots.
Illinois – Ethics Board Clears Lightfoot’s Use of City Vehicles, Aides, Security Detail on Campaign Trail
WTTW – Heather Cherone | Published: 8/17/2022
Mayor Lori Lightfoot can travel to campaign events in her city vehicle accompanied by an aide and her security detail, all paid for by taxpayers, without violating the city’s ethics ordinance, the Chicago Board of Ethics determined. The advisory opinion represents the first time the board has addressed the issues that surround the decision by an incumbent mayor to run for re-election. The opinion comes as the Ethics Board has faced several cases involving elected officials accused of improperly using city resources for non-official purposes.
Indiana – Ex-GOP State Sen. Brent Waltz Gets 10 Months in Prison for Straw Donor Scheme
MSN – Johnny Magdaleno (Indianapolis Star) | Published: 8/17/2022
Former Indiana Sen. Brent Waltz was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment after he acknowledged his role in a scheme to route $40,500 in illegal contributions to his failed bid for Congress. Waltz pleaded guilty to making and receiving conduit contributions and making false statements to the FBI. He was charged after he worked with political consultant Kelley Rogers to funnel funds from Indiana casino company New Centaur to his 2015 House campaign through straw donors.
Indiana – Rokita Consultant Hired, But Facing $18,000 in Lobbyist Registration Fines
Indiana Capital Chronicle – Leslie Bonilla Muñiz | Published: 8/11/2022
A conservative policy activist and consultant working on contract for Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita’s office was hired as a lobby-exempt, full-time employee after she mistakenly registered as a lobbyist for the wrong entity but faces $18,000 in related fines. State law requires lobbyists to not only file registration statements (within 15 days of becoming a lobbyist, plus annually), but also file semi-annual activity reports. Lobbyists must also complete separate filings for gifts, purchases, amendments, and activity terminations. Miss a deadline, and a lobbyist is fined $100 a day, up to $4,500, until the filing is in.
New York – Casino Pushing for NYC License Forces Out Executive and Mayor Adams’ Pal Over City Job
New York Post – Carl Campanile and Bernadette Hogan | Published: 8/14/2022
Resorts World casino has “parted ways” with its security director, Timothy Pearson, after learning the longtime friend of New York City Mayor Eric Adams was serving as a public safety advisor to the mayor while getting paid by the New York City Economic Development Corporation. Pearson’s position with the city’s economic development arm raised ethics concerns as Resorts World is seeking to expand its gambling operations in Queens.
New York – Judge Rules Against State Ethics Panel in Cuomo’s Book Deal Case
Albany Times Union – Brendan Lyons | Published: 8/16/2022
A New York Supreme Court justice ruled against the former state ethics commission in its court battle seeking to force ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo to repay $5.1 million he received for writing a book about his administration’s early response to the coronavirus pandemic. Acting state Supreme Court Justice Denise Hartman’s ruling upholding Cuomo’s petition to scuttle the actions of the Joint Commission on Public Ethics also found the commission had violated due process when it sought to undo an earlier approval of the book deal by a staff attorney.
New York – New York’s New State Government Ethics and Lobbying Oversight Body Takes Shape
Gotham Gazette – Ethan Geringer-Sameth | Published: 8/15/2022
New York’s new state government ethics commission, set to replace the Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE), will soon take its first steps when its members are approved by a committee of law school deans. Nine out of 11 nominees to the new Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government have been formally named by New York’s statewide elected officials and legislative leaders. For now, 46 JCOPE employees, including its final executive director, have remained at work under the new name, administering financial disclosures laws and maintaining and auditing the state’s lobbying registry, potentially giving informal guidance in the process.
New York – Senate GOP to Pay $200K Settlement in Campaign Finance Probe
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 8/16/2022
State Board of Elections enforcement counsel Michael Johnson charged that New York Senate Republicans abused their housekeeping account in the lead-up to the 2016 election by issuing a series of campaign-style mailers that allegedly crossed a line into expressly seeking election of GOP candidates. While potential fines and penalties could have totaled more than $2 million, Johnson signed off on the $200,000 settlement agreement. Senate Republicans suggest the investigation had partisan undertones, arguing Johnson’s legal theory contradicted a formal opinion authored by the Board of Elections in 2013.
New York – Trump CFO’s Plea Deal Could Make Him a Prosecution Witness
Yahoo News – Michael Sisak (Associated Press) | Published: 8/18/2022
The chief financial officer of Donald Trump’s company, Allen Weisselberg, will plead guilty to tax violations in a deal that would require him to testify about illicit business practices at the Trump Organization. Weisselberg is charged with accepting more than $1.7 million in off-the-books compensation from the former president’s company over several years, including untaxed perks like rent, car payments, and school tuition. Attorney Nicholas Gravante Jr. said his client would plead guilty in exchange for a promised sentence of five months in jail.
North Carolina – North Carolina Elections Board Looking for Public Input Regarding Political Committee Regulations
Center Square – Victor Skinner | Published: 8/16/2022
The North Carolina State Board of Elections is soliciting public comment on proposed rule changes regarding political committees that do not file finance disclosure reports on time. The proposed changes would allow a political committee, referendum committee, or individual to request a waiver of a civil late penalty by using a form on the board’s website and returning it within 60 days of the notice of penalty assessment.
Ohio – Texts, Calendars, Emails Link DeWine to FirstEnergy’s Bribery Scandal
Ohio Capital Journal – Jake Zuckerman | Published: 8/15/2022
Records suggest Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and his administration were more active than previously known in pushing for passage of a nuclear power plant bailout now at the center of a corruption scandal. Records show DeWine met repeatedly to discuss energy policy with FirstEnergy officials and at least once with former House Speaker Larry Householder, who has been criminally accused of taking a bribe from the utility to pass House Bill 6. Despite warnings, DeWine appointed Sam Randazzo in 2019 to chair the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. FirstEnergy admitted it paid Randazzo a $4.3 million bribe to act in the company’s interests.
Rhode Island – Rep. Carlos Tobon Hit with $3,600 Fine for Over a Dozen Ethics Violations
WPRI – Steph Machado, Eli Sherman, Ted Nesi, and Tim White | Published: 8/16/2022
The Rhode Island Ethics Commission fined state Rep. Carlos Tobon $3,600 after an investigation revealed he repeatedly violated the state ethics code by failing to report a series of unpaid debts, business ownerships, and board memberships despite a legal requirement to do so annually. Tobon never showed up to the House again after a media report aired on May 5, missing the final seven weeks of the legislative session. He was also kicked off the Finance Committee by Speaker Joe Shekarchi just hours after the story came out. Yet Tobon never resigned his seat.
Tennessee – Cothren Challenges Subpoena Order by State Registry
Tennessee Lookout – Sam Stockard | Published: 8/16/2022
The former chief of staff for ex-House Speaker Glen Casada is continuing to fight a subpoena to testify before the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance about a PAC he ran secretly to attack political adversaries. Cynthia Sherwood, the attorney for Cade Cothren, claims the court should not hold him in contempt for invoking his right against self-incrimination in response to subpoenas. In advance of a hearing, Sherwood is arguing that overlapping cases against the former House speaker’s chief of staff should circumvent the state subpoena.
Wisconsin – Wisconsin Assembly Leader Axes 2020 Election Investigation After Beating Trump-Backed Primary Challenger
Yahoo News – Zach Montellaro (Politico) | Published: 8/12/2022
Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos ended a controversial partisan review of the 2020 election, which he and GOP legislators had funded for the past year, days after Vos defeated a primary challenger. Vos ended the review and removed the chief investigator, former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, after more than a year and over $1 million in spending. Vos narrowly won his primary over an opponent who had endorsements from both former President Trump and Gableman.
Wyoming – Confusion, Compliance Concerns Color Campaign Finance Filings
WyoFile – Maggie Mullen | Published: 8/15/2022
In the wake of Wyoming’s first campaign finance filings of 2022, some lawmakers, candidates, and elections watchers are raising concerns about accountability, lack of oversight, and confusion. In a year with “election integrity” on the ballot in numerous races, and what is shaping up to be record spending, some fear new rules and a lack of proactive compliance checks by the secretary of state could result in inadvertent violations, or worse.
August 17, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Colorado: “Colorado Secretary of State Considers New Rules to Implement Campaign Contribution Limits” by Hannah Metzger for Colorado Politics Tennessee: “Cothren Challenges Subpoena Order by State Registry” by Sam Stockard for Tennessee Lookout Wyoming: “Confusion, Compliance Concerns Color […]
Colorado: “Colorado Secretary of State Considers New Rules to Implement Campaign Contribution Limits” by Hannah Metzger for Colorado Politics
Tennessee: “Cothren Challenges Subpoena Order by State Registry” by Sam Stockard for Tennessee Lookout
Wyoming: “Confusion, Compliance Concerns Color Campaign Finance Filings” by Maggie Mullen for WyoFile
National: “On TikTok, Election Misinformation Thrives Ahead of Midterms” by Tiffany Hsu (New York Times) for Seattle Times
National: “Liz Cheney Loses Primary While Vowing Effort to Keep Trump from White House” by Paul Kane and Hannah Knowles (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Justice Department Opposes Release of Mar-a-Lago Affidavit” by Perry Stein (Washington Post) for MSN
New York: “Judge Rules Against State Ethics Panel in Cuomo’s Book Deal Case” by Brendan Lyons for Albany Times Union
Rhode Island: “Rep. Carlos Tobon Hit with $3,600 Fine for Over a Dozen Ethics Violations” by Steph Machado, Eli Sherman, Ted Nesi, and Tim White for WPRI
California: “California Lawmakers Use Secretive Process to Kill Would-Be Laws: ‘Where good bills go to die’” by Andrew Sheeler, Lindsey Holden, and Stephen Hobbs (Sacramento Bee) for MSN
July 22, 2022 •
National/Federal Bipartisan Group Seeks to Limit Who Federal Agencies Can Contract With Government Executive – Eric Katz | Published: 7/14/2022 A bipartisan group of senators is looking to set new limitations on the entities with which federal agencies can contract, introducing […]
Bipartisan Group Seeks to Limit Who Federal Agencies Can Contract With
Government Executive – Eric Katz | Published: 7/14/2022
A bipartisan group of senators is looking to set new limitations on the entities with which federal agencies can contract, introducing legislation to ban the government from doing business with companies that work with certain other nations. Senate Bill 4516 would require the Office of Federal Procurement Policy to create a governmentwide policy to eliminate newly defined “conflicts-of-interest” that relate to national security in federal contracting.
Little-Known Lawyer Pitched Trump on Extreme Plans to Subvert Election
Yahoo News – Maggie Haberman and Luke Broadwater (New York Times) | Published: 7/17/2022
On Christmas Day in 2020, then-President Trump was on the phone with a little-known conservative lawyer who was encouraging his attempts to overturn the election. William Olson later conceded that part of his plan could be regarded as tantamount to declaring “martial law.” The episode highlights the role of Olson in advising Trump as the president was turning to extreme figures outside the White House to pursue options that many of his official advisers had told him were impossible or unlawful. It underscores how the system that would normally insulate a president from rogue actors operating outside of official channels had broken down.
Lobbying Firms Report Massive Profits Amid Reconciliation, China Bill Fights
Yahoo News – Karl Evers-Hillstrom (The Hill) | Published: 7/20/2022
K Street’s top lobbying firms raked in enormous revenues in the second quarter, indicating the prolonged lobbying boom is not letting up just yet. Most of the top Washington lobbying firms continue to build on last year’s record-smashing revenues, and nearly all of them are earning more than they did in 2020, when COVID-19 introduced a flood of first-time lobbying clients seeking federal funds.
New Evidence Disputes Trump Administration’s Citizenship Question Rationale
MSN – Tara Bahrampour (Washington Post) | Published: 7/20/2022
Previously unreleased internal communications indicate the Trump administration tried to add a citizenship question to the census with the goal of affecting congressional apportionment, according to a report by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. The documents appear to contradict statements made under oath by Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, who told the committee the push for a citizenship question was unrelated to apportionment and the reason for adding it was to help enforce the Voting Rights Act.
Pair Charged with Making Straw Donations to Trump Committees
MSN – Jennifer Pelz (Associated Press) | Published: 7/18/2022
Two Chinese American businesspeople were charged with funneling foreigners’ money into political donations that bought entry to an exclusive dinner with then-President Trump so the duo could impress and swindle Chinese investors. Prosecutors say Sherry Xue Li and Lianbo Wang raised $27 million for a grandiose development plan that never got close to approval, then siphoned off millions of dollars for personal expenses. To project the sway to keep their promises, which often included visas to live in the U.S., they used investor money and foreign nationals’ cash to make donations and be seen with Trump and other prominent politicians.
Prosecutors Won’t Pursue Case Against Colbert Team at Capitol Complex
Yahoo News – Michael Balsamo (Associated Press) | Published: 7/19/2022
Federal prosecutors said they are not pursuing charges against members of a television production crew for “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” who were arrested in a House office building closed to visitors. Capitol Police had charged the Colbert team members, who had entered the Longworth House Office Building on two separate occasions, with misdemeanor unlawful entry. Those arrested included the man who voices the Triumph the Insult Comic Dog puppet, who had come to interview members of Congress about the attack on the Capitol.
Secret Service Watchdog Knew in February That Texts Had Been Purged
MSN – Carol Leonnig and Maria Sacchetti (Washington Post) | Published: 7/20/2022
A watchdog agency learned in February that the Secret Service had purged nearly all cellphone texts from around the time of the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, but chose not to alert Congress, according to people briefed on the matter. The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General also prepared in October 2021 to issue a public alert that the Secret Service and other department divisions were stonewalling it on requests for records and texts surrounding the attack on the Capitol, but did not do so, the sources said.
Staff in Several House Offices Begin the Process of Unionizing
MSN – Chris Cioffi (Roll Call) | Published: 7/20/2022
Staffers who work for eight U.S. House Democrats are wasting no time in their plans to unionize, filing petitions recently to kick off the process. It was the first day they could do so, as new rules went into effect allowing many legislative branch staffers to bargain collectively. Now they must wait on the Office of Congressional Workplace Rights to vet the petitions before holding secret ballot elections to decide whether they want a union to represent them.
Trump Wanted Pence to Reject Electors. A New Bill Would Prevent That.
MSN – Leigh Ann Caldwell (Washington Post) | Published: 7/20/2022
A bipartisan group of 16 senators released legislation that would clarify an 1887 law that then-President Trump and his allies tried to use as part of their attempt to overturn the 2020 election results. The legislation would attempt to more clearly define the role of states, presidential electors, and the vice president in a presidential election in an effort to prevent the events of January 6, 2021, in the future.
Trump’s Political Operation Continued to Steer Donor Money to Firm Involved in the Jan. 6 Rally
OpenSecrets – Anna Massoglia | Published: 7/14/2022
Former President Trump’s political operation continued to pay individuals and firms involved in organizing the rally that preceded the deadly Capitol attack, steering them more than $15.4 million since the start of the 2016 election cycle. While the Trump political operations’ spending and fundraising practices have come under increased scrutiny by the House select committee, the hearings have given the former president fodder to fundraise. His political operation continued to route payments from donors to January 6 organizers through at least May as the committee’s investigation heated up.
From the States and Municipalities
Alabama – Secretary of State: Federal groups supporting Alabama candidates must register with state
Yahoo – Brian Lyman (Montgomery Advertiser) | Published: 7/19/2022
The Alabama secretary of state’s office said federal organizations contributing to state campaigns will have to file campaign finance reports with the state. The move, which Secretary of State John Merrill said would include “dark money” groups, comes after years of controversy over the scope and application of Alabama’s ban on transfers of money between PACs. Before the Legislature banned the practice in 2010, PAC-to-PAC transfers were used to move campaign donations to hide the source of contributions to candidates.
Alaska – Judge Refuses to Block Alaska Campaign Finance Disclosure Rules
MSN – Becky Bohrer (Associated Press) | Published: 7/14/2022
A federal judge denied a request to block campaign finance provisions of a ballot measure approved by Alaska voters in 2020, finding the plaintiffs had not demonstrated a likelihood of success on their outlined claims. The lawsuit was filed earlier this year on behalf of political donors and third-party organizations known as independent expenditure groups. They argued the disclosure rules are unconstitutional and burdensome. The plaintiffs had asked that the challenged portions of the initiative be blocked while the case was ongoing.
Arizona – AZ Secretary of State Candidate’s Nonprofit Spending Raises Questions
Arizona Daily News – Mary Jo Pitzl (Arizona Republic) | Published: 7/16/2022
Reginald Bolding, a candidate for Arizona secretary of state, is the founder and director of the nonprofit Our Voice Our Vote, a group that does not have to name its donors. Its PAC, of which he is the designated agent for federal purposes, has paid for ads promoting his candidacy. Our Voice Our Vote also is part of Activate 48, another “dark money” organization that has endorsed him and paid for mailers touting his campaign. State law bars such committees from coordinating with candidates, and violations are subject to civil penalties.
Arizona – Republican Files Complaint Against PAC Promoting Kari Lake Campaign, Says Finance Form Masks Its Donors
Yahoo News – Richard Ruelas (Arizona Republic) | Published: 7/20/2022
A Republican consultant filed a complaint against a PAC, Put Arizona First, that has spent $2.1 million to promote the gubernatorial campaign of Kari Lake, saying its financial reports served to mask the source of its donations, in violation of state law. Put Arizona First said it was funded entirely by an entity called SPH Medical LLC, whose address, according to the form, was a UPS store in Phoenix. It is the same UPS store address used by Put Arizona First itself. No such entity called SPH Medical exists in Arizona, according to corporate filings.
Arizona – The FEC Has Questions About How a PAC Backing Blake Masters Is Disclosing Its Spending
Arizona Mirror – Jerod MacDonald-Evoy | Published: 7/19/2022
A PAC funded almost entirely by billionaire Peter Thiel is facing questions from the FEC about whether it properly reported independent expenditures in support of U.S. Senate candidate Blake Masters in Arizona. The FEC is asking for a “full public disclosure” of the Saving Arizona PAC’s spending of more than $1 million against U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly, the Democratic incumbent that Masters hopes to defeat. Any independent expenditure over $10,000 requires a PAC to file what is called a 48-hour report disclosing the spending.
California – Disney Revs Up Campaign Spending in Anaheim Amid Calls to Curb Their Influence After FBI Allegations
Voice of OC – Nick Gerda | Published: 7/19/2022
Records show Disney has spent 1.3 million in the upcoming election for Anaheim mayor and city council, an amount far more than anyone else has spent on the city’s elections in recent years. That money has gone to Disney’s main political money vehicle in Anaheim, Support Our Anaheim Resort (SOAR). It comes amid an ongoing federal investigation into the city’s politics. In an affidavit, the FBI alleged a consultant close to SOAR engaged in a “fraud scheme,” but it did not allege criminal activity by Disney or SOAR.
California – Ex-Compton Councilman Isaac Galvan, Dogged by Election-Rigging Scandal, Faces $240,000 Fine
Yahoo News – Gregory Yee (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 7/14/2022
Dogged by an election-rigging scandal and an ongoing criminal case, former Compton City Councilperson Isaac Galvan could face a stiff fine from the state’s political watchdog agency for multiple campaign finance violations, including the personal use of campaign funds. The California Fair Political Practices Commission will meet to discuss a possible $240,000 fine against Galvan.
California – League of Women Voters Sues Cupertino Over Lobbyist Ordinance
MSN – Grace Hase (Bay Area News Group) | Published: 7/20/2022
Over concerns that nonprofit employees and everyday citizens may be subject to Cupertino’s lobbyist ordinance, the League of Women Voters filed a lawsuit against the city arguing the law is unconstitutional, “hopelessly overbroad,” and anti-nonprofit. The Cupertino City Council approved its lobbyist ordinance in February 2021. The ordinance has a number of exemptions to the definition of lobbyist, including for board members or employees of nonprofits. But nonprofits can still be subject to ordinance if they are lobbying for a “specific project, issue or person” and have received monetary compensation for it.
California – Oakland Wants to Give Voters Money to Make Campaign Contributions
Oakland North – Callie Rhoades | Published: 7/12/2022
Oakland voters will be asked on the November 8 ballot if they want the city to give each of them $100 in campaign vouchers that could be donated to the candidates of their choice. Broken into four $25 vouchers, the “democracy dollars” are designed to level the playing field by putting more campaign funds in the hands of Oakland voters. Historically, the city’s campaign funding has been disproportionately made up of large donors. In the last four elections, candidates who raised the most money won more than three-quarters of the contested races.
California – San Jose Mayor Travels to France on Environmental Group’s Dime
San Jose Spotlight – Jana Kadah | Published: 7/18/2022
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo took an all-expenses paid trip to France recently, and the timing is raising some eyebrows. Liccardo and state Assemblyperson Ash Kalra were among the officials and academics who traveled abroad to study and compare best policies for land preservation. Professional development trips are usually reserved for leaders with more than a couple months left in office. Liccardo is leaving City Hall in December. There is also the question of public perception when elected officials accept a paid trip from a group that has lobbied them for a vote or decision.
Florida – Tallahassee Officials Approve 10-Year Ban on Corruption-Related Felons Lobbying
MSN – Karl Etters (Tallahassee Democrat) | Published: 7/14/2022
The Tallahassee City Commissioners approved a 10-year ban on lobbying for anyone convicted of fraud-related crimes, the latest in measures intended to stamp out back-door dealings. Commissioners also approved an increase in lobbyist registration fees. Now, lobbyists will have to pay a $500 annual registration fee. Previously they paid $25 per client.
Florida – UCF Removes Departments’ Anti-Racism Statements
MSN – Annie Martin (Orlando Sentinel) | Published: 7/13/2022
The University of Central Florida removed anti-racism statements from several academic department websites, prompting renewed concern by some that a new law championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis is leading to censorship at the university. The decision to take down the statements came less than a week after the English department briefly “suspended” its version, claiming it now violated state law. The university later said department did so without “direction” from school leaders, who did not think the statements conflicted with any laws.
Florida – West Palm: Winning bidder for Sunset Lounge management contract violated anti-lobbying rules
Yahoo News – Wayne Washington (Palm Beach Post) | Published: 7/15/2022
West Palm Beach informed Vita Lounge, the local Black group that beat stiff competition to manage the city’s Sunset Lounge, it violated lobbying rules during the bidding process and has been disqualified. In notifying Vita of its disqualification, the city’s Procurement Division included instances of contact between Vita backers and city commissioners, who serve as board members of the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA). The CRA has used at least $16 million in city taxpayer money to purchase and refurbish the 1920s era supper club and lounge.
Georgia – Giuliani Ordered to Testify in Georgia 2020 Election Probe
ABC News – Kate Brumback (Associated Press) | Published: 7/20/2022
A judge in New York ordered Rudy Giuliani to appear before a special grand jury in Atlanta that is investigating whether former President Trump and others illegally tried to interfere in the 2020 general election in Georgia. Giuliani had been summoned to appear in court in New York on July 13 to present any reasons why a subpoena should not be issued for him to testify in Atlanta, but he failed to show up for the hearing, New York Supreme Court Justice Thomas Farber wrote in his order.
Georgia – GOP Fake Electors ‘Targets’ in Georgia Election Fraud Inquiry
MSN – Matthew Brown (Washington Post) | Published: 7/19/2022
Georgia prosecutors investigating potential criminal interference in the 2020 presidential election by Donald Trump and his allies have notified several Republicans who were part of a fake electors scheme they are “targets” of the probe and could face charges. Part of the probe led by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis now centers on the 16 Republicans who gathered at the Georgia Capitol on December 14, 2020, as part of an attempt to falsely certify the state’s electoral college votes for former President Trump even though Joe Biden won the state.
Hawaii – Hawaii Lawmakers Took $500k In Campaign Cash This Session Despite Pleas to Ban Campaign Cash During Session
Honolulu Civil Beat – Blaze Lovell | Published: 7/20/2022
Good-government groups and a commission convened to strengthen ethics laws have asked that the practice of lawmakers accepting campaign contributions during a legislative session come to an end. The goal is to limit even the appearance of a “pay-to-play” culture that favors those who have money. But legislators accepted $500,000 in campaign donations during the 2022 session. That is just a portion of the $7.8 million state politicians raked in during sessions in the last decade from lobbyists, developers, labor unions, and other special interest groups while making budget and policy decisions that could affect their interests.
Illinois – Chicago City Council Unanimously Passes Ethics Overhaul, Boosts Fines to $20K
WTTW – Heather Cherone | Published: 7/20/2022
The Chicago City Council approved a sweeping ethics reform measure aimed at stamping out corruption that has led to the conviction of 37 members of city council since 1969. It strengthens rules against nepotism, lobbying of city council members, and limits campaign contributions for certain contractors. The ordinance also increases fines for violating those rules from a maximum of $5,000 to $20,000. The measure was significantly revised to win the support of Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who blocked it from advancing for several months.
Indiana – Ind. Attorney General’s Comments Endangered Abortion Provider, Complaint Says
MSN – María Luisa Paúl and Kim Bellware (Washington Post) | Published: 7/19/2022
A complaint against Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita is expected to trigger a probe by the state Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Commission after he claimed on Fox News that physician Caitlin Bernard had a “history of failing to report” abortions in child-abuse cases and launched an investigation into her licensure. Records show Bernard, who administered an abortion medication to a 10-year-old girl from Ohio who was forced to travel for the service, reported the incident to relevant state agencies. The complaint alleges Rokita made “inflammatory statements on national television, without due diligence concerning their truthfulness.”
Kentucky – Proposed Ordinance Would Force People, Groups Who Lobby Louisville Metro to Register, Disclose Funding
WFPL – Roberto Roldan | Published: 7/19/2022
Louisville Metro Council is considering an ordinance that sponsors hope will generate more transparency from lobbyists and other businesses and interest groups that try to influence local legislation. The ordinance would also bar council members from profiting from lobbying their colleagues immediately after leaving office. Under the proposal, anyone who is paid to influence the decisions of the Metro Council would have to register as a lobbyist.
Missouri – FEC Member Pans Decision Not to Investigate Groups That Helped Elect Greitens in 2016
Missouri Independent – Jason Hancock | Published: 7/14/2022
A member of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) is criticizing her agency’s failure to fully investigate groups that funneled $6 million of anonymous money into Missouri to boost Eric Greitens’ 2016 campaign for governor. Commissioner Ellen Weintraub said the scheme “was clearly designed to avoid the transparency federal law requires.” But her colleagues declined to authorize a full investigation, she wrote, because they felt it would not be a wise use of the FEC’s resources.
New York – A Family Donated $300K to Hochul. New York Has Paid the Family Business $637M.
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 7/19/2022
One New York City family, led by entrepreneur Charlie Tebele, has donated nearly $300,000 to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s campaign. Records also show that since December, Tebele’s company, Digital Gadgets LLC, was paid $637 million in taxpayer funds to provide the state Department of Health, an agency controlled by Hochul, with at-home COVID-19 test kits. The huge expenditure was made without the agency conducting competitive bidding. Though Digital Gadgets has not always delivered as promised, it has continued to reap major government payments, while the family has kept donating heavily to select politicians.
New York – Bellone Vetoes Repeal of Suffolk County’s Public Campaign Finance Program
WSHU – J.D. Allen | Published: 7/19/2022
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone vetoed a bill that would repeal its public campaign finance program. Suffolk is the largest county in the state outside of New York City to have such a program. It would allow candidates for county executive, comptroller, and legislator to access public dollars to run for office. Bellone said it would be a step backwards for building diversity and equity in county government.
New York – N.Y. Assemblyman Charles Fall’s Girlfriend Lobbied Him on Various Issues, Prompting Ethics Concerns
MSN – Chris Sommerfeldt (New York Daily News) | Published: 7/18/2022
Bianca Rajpersaud, a registered lobbyist at Davidoff, Hutcher & Citron, is listed as having lobbied state Assemblyperson Charles Fall as part of 11 different contracts the firm inked in 2021 and 2022 with companies and nonprofits seeking to curry favor with lawmakers. The duo began dating in 2020. There is no requirement for lawmakers to consult the Legislative Ethics Commission about professional interactions with love interests who are not spouses. Watchdog Rachael Fauss said the lobbying raises concerns that could have been avoided if Fall was open about whether he cleared the matter with the commission.
Ohio – Experts Say P.G. Sittenfeld Could Use $975k in Campaign and PAC Funds for Appeal of Conviction
WCPO – Paula Christian | Published: 7/14/2022
Former Cincinnati City Councilperson P.G. Sittenfeld may not be running for mayor anymore, but he still has nearly $975,000 in leftover political donations that experts say he could use to pay legal fees for an appeal after a jury convicted him of bribery and attempted extortion. Sittenfeld was a rising political star who mounted an impressive campaign fund to run for mayor in 2021. But three of his donors turned out to be undercover FBI agents who were posing as out-of-town developers. They donated $40,000 to his PAC and asked for help on a project, which prosecutors described as quid pro quo.
Ohio – Ohio Supreme Court Again Rejects Republican Congressional Map, Ordering Redraw for 2024 Election
MSN – Andrew Tobias (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 7/19/2022
For the second time this year, the Ohio Supreme Court rejected state Republicans’ congressional map plan as illegally gerrymandered, citing the new language added by voters to the state constitution in 2018. But the ruling almost certainly will not affect this year’s elections since the primary election for Ohio’s ongoing congressional races was held in May, with the general election set for November. While the ruling is silent on the 2022 elections, it does not explicitly describe vacating the results of the May election and other interventions that would indicate the court is trying to block the map from being used in the current election cycle.
Rhode Island – McKee’s Former Chief of Staff Displayed ‘Very Poor Judgment’ but Committed No Crimes, Attorney General Says
MSN – Edward Fitzpatrick (Boston Globe) | Published: 7/18/2022
The Rhode Island attorney general’s office cleared Gov. Daniel McKee’s former chief of staff, Anthony Silva, of criminal activity but castigated him for exercising “very poor judgment in involving himself in a personal matter before a state regulatory agency.” Silva resigned amid scrutiny of whether he attempted to influence the state Department of Environmental Management (DEM) over a permit to develop a piece of land in Cumberland. The DEM at first rejected an application to develop the parcel, but reversed course. The investigation found Silva frequently contacted the DEM and Cumberland officials to try to advance the approval process.
Texas – AG Ken Paxton Declines to Sue Candidates, Officials Who Owe $700K in Unpaid Campaign Violation Fines
MSN – Taylor Goldsmith (Houston Chronicle) | Published: 7/14/2022
The Texas Ethics Commission, the regulatory agency in charge of enforcing campaign finance laws, does not have many tools at its disposal to go after scofflaws who have not paid fines aside from letter notifications. Its last line of defense against delinquent filers is to refer their cases to the state attorney general’s office. But Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has declined to sue hundreds of candidates and elected officials who altogether owe more than $700,000 unpaid fines for campaign reporting violations.
Washington – Armed Man Arrested Outside Home of Rep. Jayapal for Alleged Death Threat
MSN – Amy Wang (Washington Post) | Published: 7/14/2022
An armed man who reportedly threatened to kill U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal was arrested outside her Seattle home on suspicion of committing a hate crime, police said. The man, whose name was redacted from publicly available police reports, was released from jail because police could not confirm his threats or that he told Jayapal to “go back to India,” and an investigation is ongoing. Jayapal called 911 to report someone was outside her home using obscene language and may have fired a pellet gun.
Wisconsin – Milwaukee Ald. Chantia Lewis Convicted of Two Campaign Finance Felonies, Removed from Office
MSN – Allison Dir (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) | Published: 7/18/2022
Milwaukee Ald. Chantia Lewis was removed from office after her conviction on two felonies related to her conduct in office. The criminal complaint stated she used campaign funds for family trips and basic personal expenses such as car and credit card bills, engaged in “double-dipping” by filing for reimbursement for city-related travel expenses that she had actually paid out of her campaign account, and structured a campaign contribution to avoid the limits in the law.
Wisconsin – Trump Called ‘Within the Last Week’ to Overturn Wis. Election Results, Speaker Says
MSN – Timothy Bella and Patrick Marley (Washington Post) | Published: 7/20/2022
Wisconsin’s Republican house speaker said former President Trump called him “within the last week” seeking to overturn the 2020 presidential election that Joe Biden won. Speaker Robin Vos said he received a call from Trump after the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled on July 8 that most absentee drop boxes in the state are illegal. The ruling addresses future elections, not the one Trump lost in 2020 by more than 20,000 in Wisconsin.
July 20, 2022 •
King County, WA has approved an amendment to the King County Charter to be sent to the voters during the November 8 election. The amendment moves elections for county executive, county assessor, county director of elections, and county councilmembers from […]
King County, WA has approved an amendment to the King County Charter to be sent to the voters during the November 8 election.
The amendment moves elections for county executive, county assessor, county director of elections, and county councilmembers from odd-number years to even-numbered years starting in 2026.
There will be an election held in 2023 for the county assessor, county director, and even-numbered district councilmembers.
The county executive and odd-numbered district councilmembers will be elected in 2025 before moving to even-numbered year elections in 2026.
July 18, 2022 •
A bipartisan bill was introduced into the U.S. Senate aimed at increasing federal oversight to prevent national security consulting firms from contracting both with the United States and countries like Russia and China. Senate Bill 4516, Obstructive National Security Underreporting […]
A bipartisan bill was introduced into the U.S. Senate aimed at increasing federal oversight to prevent national security consulting firms from contracting both with the United States and countries like Russia and China.
Senate Bill 4516, Obstructive National Security Underreporting of Legitimate Threats (CONSULT), introduced by Republican U.S. Senator Joni Ernst and Democratic Senators Maggie Hassan and Gary Peters, would require consulting firms to disclose any potential organizational conflict of interest with certain entities, such as beneficial ownership, active contracts, contracts held within the last five years, and any other relevant information with foreign adversarial entities or governments. In turn, it would also allow for these conflicts of interest to be grounds for denial of a contract, or for the suspension and debarment of a contractor.
The bill, introduced on July 13, would also require the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council to update federal acquisition regulations for implementation and calls for a government-wide policy to mitigate and eliminate organizational conflict of interests relating to national security.
According to Senator Hassan’s press release, “The CONSULT Act comes after reports surfaced that the consulting firm McKinsey & Company was providing strategic advice for state-owned companies in China and Russia while also being awarded national security contracts by the United States. These Chinese and Russian entities include a handful that have been blacklisted by federal agencies.”
July 15, 2022 •
National/Federal Election Officials Fear Copycat Attacks as ‘Insider Threats’ Loom MSN – Zach Montellaro (Politico) | Published: 7/12/2022 Election officials are confronting a wave of threats and security challenges coming from a troubling source: inside the election system itself. In interviews […]
Election Officials Fear Copycat Attacks as ‘Insider Threats’ Loom
MSN – Zach Montellaro (Politico) | Published: 7/12/2022
Election officials are confronting a wave of threats and security challenges coming from a troubling source: inside the election system itself. In interviews at the National Association of Secretaries of State’s conference, a dozen chief election administrators detailed a growing number of “insider threats” leading to attempted or successful election security breaches aided by local officials. The most prominent was in Colorado, where a county clerk was indicted for her role in facilitating unauthorized access to voting machines. But there have been similar instances elsewhere.
Judge Rejects Bannon’s Bid to Delay Trial, Executive-Privilege Claim
MSN – Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 7/11/2022
U.S. District Court Judge Carl Nichols refused to delay Stephen Bannon’s trial after the Justice Department called an offer by the former Trump aide to testify before the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection a “last-ditch attempt to avoid accountability” on charges of criminal contempt of Congress. Bannon was indicted for contempt of Congress after refusing to comply with a subpoena for his testimony and records about his actions leading up to the Capitol riot.
Lindsey Graham Argues Constitution Grants Him ‘Absolute Immunity’ in Georgia Election Interference Probe, a Response One Former Prosecutor Calls ‘Disturbing’
Yahoo News – Charles Davis (Business Insider) | Published: 7/13/2022
Lawyers for U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham are arguing that he cannot be forced to testify before a Fulton County grand jury about alleged election interference, claiming he enjoys “absolute immunity” under the Constitution for phone calls he placed to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has been investigating efforts by former President Trump and his allies to pressure officials in Georgia to overturn President Biden’s victory.
Michael Flynn Cited for Unauthorized Foreign Payments
MSN – Dan Lamothe and Craig Whitlock (Washington Post) | Published: 7/8/2022
Michael Flynn, the retired Army general and onetime adviser to former President Trump, was cited by the Defense Department inspector general for failing to disclose lucrative speaking engagements and other business arrangements with foreign entities, prompting the U.S. government to pursue tens of thousands of dollars in penalties against him. The Army notified Flynn it would seek to recoup $38,557.06 from him.
Morton’s and Others Brace as Activists Offer Cash for SCOTUS Sightings
Yahoo News – Emily Heil and Tim Carman (Washington Post) | Published: 7/11/2022
The Washington, D.C. location of Morton’s the Steakhouse is the first known restaurant in the city to be dragged into the protests over the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade. Justice Brett Kavanaugh was dining there but left via a side door as a handful of protesters gathered outside. The activist group ShutDownDC tweeted it would pay restaurant workers to tip them off if they spot any of the six justices who voted to overturn Roe v. Wade.
‘Operation Higher Court’: Inside the religious right’s efforts to wine and dine Supreme Court justices
Yahoo News – Peter Canellos and Josh Gerstein (Politico) | Published: 7/8/2022
Rob Schenck, an evangelical minister who once headed the group Faith and Action, said he arranged for couples to fly to Washington to visit with and entertain Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and the late Antonin Scalia. Schenck said the couples were instructed to use certain phrases to influence the justices while steering clear of the specifics of cases before the court. The calculated nature of Faith and Action’s efforts shows how outside actors can use social activities and expensive dinners to penetrate the court’s highly sealed environment.
Ron Johnson’s $280k Cash Gifts to Chief of Staff and Wife Draw U.S. Senate Ethics Complaint
KPVI – Alexander Shur (Madison.com) | Published: 7/12/2022
U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and his wife paid his former chief of staff, Anthony Blando, and Blando’s wife $280,000 in cash gifts while they worked together, an arrangement Democrats say is a breach of Senate rules. The Senate’s ethics rules limit how much congressional aides can be compensated and how much and from whom they can receive gifts. The Johnsons’ cash gifts to Blando appear to follow one guideline allowing aides to receive gifts from senators but appear to clash with another guideline saying cash gifts are not acceptable. They also raise questions about whether they are an attempt to circumvent the compensation limits.
The Fight Over Truth Also Has a Red State, Blue State Divide
Yahoo News – Steven Lee Myers and Cecilia Kang (New York Times) | Published: 7/10/2022
In the absence of action at the federal level, officials in state after state are taking aim at the sources of disinformation and the platforms that propagate them – only they are doing so from starkly divergent ideological positions. In this polarized era, even the fight for truth breaks along partisan lines. The result has been a rush of state bills and legal maneuvers that could reinforce information bubbles in a nation divided over a variety of issues and along geographic lines. The biggest hurdle to new regulations, regardless of the party pushing them, is the First Amendment.
Trump Hid Plan for Capitol March on Day He Marked as ‘Wild’, Panel Says
MSN – Isaac Stanley-Becker and Jacqueline Alemany (Washington Post) | Published: 7/12/2022
Donald Trump scrawled the words on Twitter that motivated right-wing extremists to seek blood on January 6, 2021, and kept secret a plan to direct his supporters to the Capitol that day, according to evidence and testimony presented at the seventh hearing of the House select committee investigating the riot. The message marked a turning point in Trump’s efforts to stay in power and, in the telling of U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin, “would galvanize his followers, unleash a political firestorm and change the course of our history as a country.”
U.S. Appeals Court Upholds Release of Trump Financial Records to House
MSN – Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 7/8/2022
A federal appeals court panel ruled House lawmakers can see years of former President Trump’s financial accounting records but narrowed the range of documents Trump must turn over in a long-running legal battle over his compliance with presidential ethics and disclosure laws. Both sides can still appeal the three-judge panel’s ruling. But the decision marked a partial victory for each side over a subpoena issued in 2019 by the House Oversight Committee to Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA.
‘Unhinged’: The White House meeting that preceded Trump’s ‘will be wild’ tweet
MSN – Rosalind Helderman and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 7/12/2022
About six weeks after Donald Trump lost his reelection, a fistfight nearly broke out in the White House between the president’s fired national security adviser and a top White House aide. A motley crew of unofficial Trump advisers had talked their way into the Oval Office and an audience with the president to argue the election had been stolen by shadowy foreign powers, perhaps remotely via Nest thermostats. Even for a White House known for its chaos, the December 18, 2020, meeting demonstrated how Trump invited fringe players advocating radical action into his inner sanctum as he searched for a way to remain in office.
From the States and Municipalities
Alabama – Alabama Ethics Commission Says It Doesn’t Have to Share Exculpatory Information with Accused
Yahoo News – Brian Lyman (Montgomery Advertiser) | Published: 7/13/2022
The Alabama Ethics Commission said it did not have to disclose evidence that could potentially clear a person accused of violating state ethics laws during an investigation. The unanimous vote came after a discussion where the state attorney general’s office argued the accused had the right to access such material, and members of the commission raised concerns about its investigatory nature, the potential of discouraging legitimate complaints, and the current wording of the ethics statute.
Arizona – Arizona Activists Want a Vote on Expanding Access to Voting
MSN – Yvonne Wingett Sanchez (Washington Post) | Published: 7/7/2022
Citing efforts by Arizona’s Republican-controlled Legislature to restrict access to voting, a coalition of advocacy organizations, community groups and volunteers is attempting to expand voting rights in the state through a ballot initiative. The coalition gave state elections officials the signatures of more than 475,000 Arizonans who want to see the issue put to a vote in November. The initiative would also limit the amount of money that lobbyists could spend on special events and travel for lawmakers at $500.
Arkansas – Groups Use Arkansas PACs Loophole to Donate Above Campaign Contribution Limits
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette – Lisa Hammersly | Published: 7/10/2022
In Arkansas, each PAC can donate the state limit of $2,900, a loophole in state campaign finance laws when one organization fields many PACs, experts say. Disclosure data shows groups of business and political interests and lobbyists with multiple PACs give some favored candidates substantially more in contributions than Arkansas allows for one individual or a group with only one PAC. While Arkansas permits such donations from related PACs, federal election rules and some other states do not.
California – Campaign Finance Reform Efforts in Anaheim Deadlock Again – And Again
Los Angeles Times – Gabriel San Román | Published: 7/13/2022
When the Anaheim City Council debated campaign finance reform for a third meeting in a row, it proved to be anything but a charm. Election spending in Anaheim has come into sharper focus since an FBI probe into former Mayor Harry Sidhu. Councilperson Jose Moreno introduced a bill intended to curb what he called “pay-to-play” politics, but another tie vote by the council sunk the reform effort again.
California – Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do Faces $12,000 State Fine Over ‘Pay to Play’ Politics
Voice of OC – Spencer Custodio and Hosam Elattar | Published: 7/11/2022
Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do is facing a $12,000 fine for steering lobbyist contracts to his own campaign donors, something the California Fair Political Practices Commission says violates state “pay-to-play” restrictions. FPPC investigators said it happened while Do was serving on the CalOptima board, the agency that oversees the county’s medical insurance plan. The FPPC also found Do violated regulations on a series of behested payments.
Colorado – 3rd Arrest Made in Alleged Colorado Election Security Breach
MSN – Colleen Slevin (Associated Press) | Published: 7/13/2022
The former elections manager for a Colorado clerk indicted on charges of tampering with voting equipment has been arrested on allegations she was part of the scheme. Sandra Brown, who worked for Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, surrendered in response to a warrant issued for her arrest on suspicion of conspiracy to commit criminal impersonation and attempting to influence a public servant. Peters and her chief deputy, Belinda Knisley, are being prosecuted for allegedly allowing a copy of a hard drive to be made during an update of election equipment in May 2021.
Connecticut – A West Haven Official Approved Contracts, Payments for His Family Business
MSN – Andrew Brown (Connecticut Mirror) | Published: 7/12/2022
Robert Bruneau, a city council member and fire commissioner in West Haven, used his elected position as a leader of the West Shore Fire District to authorize contracts and payments for a company owned by his wife and son. Documents show Bruneau, along with his two fellow fire commissioners, approved more than $81,000 in payments to Bruneau’s Garage, which he and his family have owned and operated for more than a decade. Bruneau was also recently singled out in a state audit that examined questionable spending by the West Haven city government.
Connecticut – Wife of Former CT Lawmaker Pleads Guilty in West Haven Theft Case
MSN – Andrew Brown (Connecticut Mirror) | Published: 7/12/2022
Lauren DiMassa, who is now married to former Connecticut Rep. Michael DiMassa, admitted her part in stealing more than $147,000 from the city of West Haven. Records show Michael DiMassa, who served as an assistant to the West Haven City Council, approved 16 payments that went to his future wife. The records show Lauren DiMassa sent invoices to the city and claimed to be performing services under a youth violence prevention grant. She billed for things like meals, equipment, supplies, transportation, personal protective equipment, “counseling,” and “support clinics.”
Florida – Election Issues: Two candidates say Sheriff Ivey tried to get them to drop out, offered jobs in exchange
Yahoo News – Eric Rogers and Bobby Block (Florida Today) | Published: 7/13/2022
For years, a political endorsement by Sheriff Wayne Ivey has been seen by would-be candidates for elected office and many voters in Brevard County as an anointment of approval by the area’s most prominent politician and law enforcement officer. But there is another side to Ivey’s endorsements, some candidates say. According to them, Ivey seeks to control who gets to compete in Brevard elections and who should not. Two candidates this year said Ivey pushed for them to leave the field and throw their support behind his favored candidates. In exchange, they say, Ivey has offered them political jobs worth up to $50,000 a year.
Florida – Lobbyists, Including Former Governor Staff, Push Client for Emergency Management Warehouse Contract
Orlando Sentinel – Jeffrey Schweers | Published: 7/14/2022
Two of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ former top staffers were among the lobbyists that sought to make sure their client was well positioned for a new Emergency Management warehouse and inventory control contract, emails show. The Division of Emergency Management originally planned to bid out the contract itself and asked the Legislature for $75 million to build and retrofit new warehouse space for supplies it was required to purchase for public health emergencies. But it agreed to side-step its normal bidding process after talking to legislative leaders.
Georgia – Limits Set for Lawmaker Testimony in Georgia Election Probe
Yahoo News – Kate Brumback (Associated Press) | Published: 7/7/2022
Georgia lawmakers appearing before a special grand jury in the investigation into whether former President Trump and others illegally meddled in the state’s 2020 election have broad immunity but can be asked about their conversations with people outside of the Legislature, a judge ruled. A former state lawmaker and Georgia’s lieutenant governor asked the judge to squash subpoenas seeking their testimony before the grand jury, citing legislative privilege and immunity.
Georgia – State Ethics Agency Drops Charges in Abrams Fundraising Probe as Campaign Steams Ahead
Georgia Recorder – Stanley Dunlop | Published: 7/12/2022
Georgia’s ethics commission dismissed two charges against Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams connected to her 2018 campaign. The commission’s action was based on documentation showing the Abrams campaign did not illegally receive donations from two supporting organizations, while other forms cleared up questions about an expense charged during her run against Gov. Brian Kemp. It marked the latest development in the wide-spanning investigation into whether the Abrams team coordinated with groups to help her election in 2018.
Hawaii – Prosecutors Want Enhanced Punishment for Public Corruption
Honolulu Civil Beat – Blaze Lovell | Published: 7/13/2022
County prosecutors in Hawaii want to see harsher sentences for public officials who try to defraud the government and are calling for better resources to investigate such crimes. The Commission to Improve Standards of Conduct, a group tasked with beefing up government standards and ethics, heard from FBI agents, former state attorneys general, and county prosecutors during a forum to generate more ideas to crack down on public corruption in Hawaii.
Illinois – Ex-Cook County Official Patrick Doherty Pleads Guilty to Several Corruption Schemes
Chicago Sun-Times – Jon Seidel | Published: 7/13/2022
Patrick Doherty, a former high-ranking Cook County official, admitted to a wide-ranging set of corruption schemes totaling $148,000 that involved the late Illinois Sen. Martin Sandoval and ex-Cook County Commissioner Jeff Tobolski. Doherty was originally hit with three bribery counts for his work as a sales agent for SafeSpeed. Prosecutors then expanded the indictment, he also schemed with Tobolski, who doubled as mayor of McCook, as well as Sandoval, who served as chair of the Illinois Senate Transportation Committee.
Kentucky – Gov. Beshear Scores Victory Against GOP Effort to Strip His Power Over Ethics Commission
MSN – Joe Sonka (Louisville Courier-Journal) | Published: 7/12/2022
A judge sided with Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear in his lawsuit to block a new law shifting the governor’s appointment power with the Executive Branch Ethics Commission to other Republican constitutional officers. Jefferson Circuit Court Judge McKay Chauvin granted Beshear’s motion for a summary judgment to permanently block House Bill 334 because it violates the state constitution. Under the new law, the commission’s members are increased to seven by reducing the governor’s appointees to just two, while also granting one appointment each to five other constitutional officers.
Louisiana – Ethics Board: Oliver Thomas can’t be paid by WBOK while station takes city money
New Orleans Advocate – Jeff Adelson and Mark Ballard | Published: 7/8/2022
The Louisiana Board of Ethics formally approved an opinion that would bar New Orleans City Councilperson Oliver Thomas from continuing to be paid for his talk show on WBOK as long as the radio station continues to receive city money for advertising. In reaching their decision, ethics board staff cited state laws prohibiting elected officials from working for companies that receive revenues from the government they work for.
Michigan – Ex-State Rep. Inman Can [Face] Bribery, Extortion Charges Again, Court Rules
Detroit News – Hayley Harding | Published: 7/10/2022
Former Michigan Rep. Larry Inman can face a new trial after a federal appeals court reversed a lower court’s decision to dismiss bribery and extortion charges. U.S. District Court Judge Robert Jonker ruled in 2021 that Inman’s constitutional rights to speech would be violated and to retry him could be barred by the double jeopardy clause of the Constitution if he faced another trial on charges of soliciting a bribe and attempted extortion. The ruling means Inman can face trial for allegedly trying to get union lobbyists to buy his 2018 vote on repealing the state’s prevailing wage law.
Michigan – Secretary of State Benson’s Husband Registered to Lobby for Billionaire’s Company
Detroit News – Craig Mauger | Published: 7/8/2022
The husband of Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, who ran for office vowing to reform Michigan’s lobbying laws, is now a registered lobbyist himself. Ryan Friedrichs registered to lobby on June 29, according to a database maintained by the secretary of state’s office, which oversees lobbyists’ fillings. Friedrichs is one of three lobbyists in the state working on behalf of Related Companies, a New York-based real estate firm.
Minnesota – Campaign Finance Board Finds Probable Cause in Action 4 Liberty Case
Minnesota Reformer – Baylor Spears | Published: 7/13/2022
The Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board found probable cause that the right-wing activist group Action 4 Liberty, which has been working to boost allies in upcoming Republican primaries, violated state campaign law. The board alleges the group made illegal corporate campaign donations to gubernatorial candidate Neil Shah and failed to report the contributions. The determination comes after a complaint to the board said certain Action 4 Liberty-connected emails mentioned Shah, which constituted an endorsement.
Montana – Ninth Circuit Decision Takes Issue with Montana Rule Defining ‘Political Committees’
Fairfield Sun Times – Sam Wilson (Helena Independent Record) | Published: 7/7/2022
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit found a portion of Montana’s law defining political committees is unconstitutionally vague in the case of Ed Butcher, a former Republican state lawmaker who maintains Legistats, a website that grades GOP legislators on party loyalty. The appeals court stopped short of striking down the administrative rule, which governs whether political spending in Montana needs to be reported and sent the case back to a lower court.
New York – Hochul’s Vow to Fix Albany’s Culture Finds an Unexpected Foe: Herself
News Networks – Jay Root (New York Times) | Published: 7/11/2022
In Albany, billions of taxpayer dollars can be directed, redirected, or shut off in negotiations far from public view. Gov. Kathy Hochul vowed to change that culture, promising “a new era of transparency,” including an ethics watchdog agency with “real teeth.” Yet as Hochul faces the November election, her promises of transparency and a changed culture appeared to have fallen short.
New York – NYC Comptroller Brad Lander Got OK from Conflicts Board on Contracts with Nonprofits Tied to Wife’s Group
MSN – Michael Gartland and Clayton Guse (New York Daily News) | Published: 7/6/2022
New York City Comptroller Brad Lander said he asked for guidance and got the go-ahead from the Conflicts of Interest Board for his office’s review of contracts with nonprofits tied to a group run by his wife. Lander sought the advice a day after The New York Daily News reported dozens of nonprofits that have contracts with the city are also members of Meg Barnette’s group, Nonprofit New York. Since January, when Lander took office, nonprofits tied to the group have gotten contracts totaling at least $544 million from the city.
New York – Report: Cuomo’s office ‘overpowered’ ethics watchdog in book approval
Spectrum News – Mick Reisman | Published: 7/7/2022
Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office “overpowered” staff at the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) to win approval of a multimillion-dollar book deal for the then-governor, according to a report from JCOPE. The vote to release the report is expected to be one of JCOPE’s final acts after lawmakers voted to create a new commission to oversee lobbying and ethics. The sole vote against releasing the report was by Commissioner William Fisher, the remaining Cuomo appointee on the panel.
North Dakota – North Dakota Ethics Panel Chooses Next Executive Director
Bismarck Tribune – Jack Dura | Published: 7/12/2022
The North Dakota Ethics Commission selected Rebecca Binstock as its next executive director, replacing Dave Thiele. Binstock is a law clerk for U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Hovland. She will begin her new job in September.
Ohio – ‘Green Energy’ Initiative Leader Gets 120 Days in Jail for False Campaign Finance Report
MSN – Jordan Laird (Columbus Dispatch) | Published: 7/12/2022
A Franklin County judge described the ongoing effort to put a “green energy” initiative on the Columbus ballot as an illegitimate attempt to steal taxpayer money when he sentenced its leader to 120 days in jail for filing a false campaign finance report in 2019. The judge also sentenced John Clark Jr. to pay a $2,500 fine. Clark has led multiple petition drives in recent years to get a “green energy” initiative put on the ballot that, if any had passed, would have diverted more than $40 million of taxpayer money toward ProEnergy Ohio, a limited partnership group led by Clark.
Ohio – PG Sittenfeld Found Guilty of Bribery and Extortion, Not Guilty on Other Four Charges
WCPO – Paula Christian, Felicia Jordan, and Taylor Weiter | Published: 7/8/2022
Former Cincinnati City Councilperson P.G. Sittenfeld was convicted on federal charges of bribery and attempted extortion but was acquitted on four other counts. He could face two to three years in prison. Sittenfeld faced allegations that he agreed to accept $40,000 in payments to his PAC to “deliver the votes” in the city council for a proposed real estate development. He had been considered a top contender to run for mayor before he was indicted in 2020.
Oklahoma – Oklahoma Ethics Commission Fines PAC [$62,750]
Center Square – Kim Jarrett | Published: 7/8/2022
A PAC that worked to get Republicans elected to the state Senate will pay a $62,750 penalty, according to a settlement agreement with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission. The Republican Senatorial Committee agreed to pay $37,750 for impermissible contributions it accepted, as well as a $25,000 civil penalty. The commission also ordered the PAC to dissolve within 60 days.
Rhode Island – AG Reviewing Prov. Council Candidate’s Campaign Finances
MSN – Steven Machado (WPRI) | Published: 7/7/2022
A candidate for Providence City Council was referred to the stet attorney general’s office for possible prosecution following a series of campaign finance violations. The Rhode Island Board of Elections voted to refer Gerard Catala to prosecutors after auditing his campaign account and finding more than $7,000 worth of spending that was not accounted for on his disclosure reports.
Washington – Seattle Foundation Cops to Eight Campaign Finance Violations, Pays a Fine
Big Country News – Brett Davis (Center Square) | Published: 7/8/2022
The Seattle Foundation acknowledged a total of eight violations of campaign disclosure and contribution laws and paid a fine of $1,000. A complaint alleged the foundation failed to register and report in timely fashion as an “incidental committee” in 2019 and 2020 regarding a $50,000 contribution by Yes for Transit, a $50,000 donation from the Washington Fairness Coalition, and a $50,000 contribution from Keep Washington Rolling. Under state law, a nonprofit entity may be required to register as an incidental committee and disclose the top 10 donors whose contributions aggregate to $10,000 or more in the calendar year.
Wisconsin – Wisconsin Supreme Court Disallows Absentee Ballot Drop Boxes
Yahoo News – Scott Bauer (Associated Press) | Published: 7/8/2022
The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that absentee ballot drop boxes may be placed only in election offices and no one other than the voter can return a ballot in person, dealing a defeat to Democrats who said the decision would make it harder to vote in the battleground state. The court did not address whether anyone other than the voter can return his or her own ballot by mail. That means that anyone could still collect multiple ballots for voters and, instead of using a drop box, put them in the mail.
July 11, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Montana: “Ninth Circuit Decision Takes Issue with Montana Rule Defining ‘Political Committees’” by Sam Wilson (Helena Independent Record) for Fairfield Sun Times Rhode Island: “AG Reviewing Prov. Council Candidate’s Campaign Finances” by Steven Machado (WPRI) for MSN Elections […]
Montana: “Ninth Circuit Decision Takes Issue with Montana Rule Defining ‘Political Committees’” by Sam Wilson (Helena Independent Record) for Fairfield Sun Times
Rhode Island: “AG Reviewing Prov. Council Candidate’s Campaign Finances” by Steven Machado (WPRI) for MSN
Arizona: “Arizona Activists Want a Vote on Expanding Access to Voting” by Yvonne Wingett Sanchez (Washington Post) for MSN
Wisconsin: “Wisconsin Supreme Court Disallows Absentee Ballot Drop Boxes” by Scott Bauer (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
National: “Michael Flynn Cited for Unauthorized Foreign Payments” by Dan Lamothe and Craig Whitlock (Washington Post) for MSN
New York: “Report: Cuomo’s office ‘overpowered’ ethics watchdog in book approval” by Mick Reisman for Spectrum News
Georgia: “Limits Set for Lawmaker Testimony in Georgia Election Probe” by Kate Brumback (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
Michigan: “Secretary of State Benson’s Husband Registered to Lobby for Billionaire’s Company” by Craig Mauger for Detroit News
July 8, 2022 •
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has ruled against Montana, holding the state’s laws regarding political committees are unconstitutionally vague. The court took umbrage with the state’s rule which governs whether political spending needs to be reported. […]
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has ruled against Montana, holding the state’s laws regarding political committees are unconstitutionally vague.
The court took umbrage with the state’s rule which governs whether political spending needs to be reported.
In Montana, any group of two or more people who spend $250 or more in an election cycle to support or oppose political candidates must register and report as a political committee.
Volunteer activities do not count towards the $250 threshold, but the court held Montana’s administrative scheme did not give plaintiffs fair notice that their activities fell outside the definition of volunteer services.
The decision opens the pathway to challenge the state’s definition of a political committee.
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.