September 17, 2021 •
National/Federal Delta Variant Postpones K Street’s Full Return MSN – Kate Ackley (Roll Call) | Published: 9/14/2021 On the cusp of Memorial Day back in May, most lobbyists were gearing up for a more normal return to their in-person work life, […]
Delta Variant Postpones K Street’s Full Return
MSN – Kate Ackley (Roll Call) | Published: 9/14/2021
On the cusp of Memorial Day back in May, most lobbyists were gearing up for a more normal return to their in-person work life, as they began to reemerge for meetings on Capitol Hill and sessions with clients and colleagues. The rise of the delta variant, however, has prompted most firms to postpone requirements for employees to return to the office, and many K Street denizens said most of their advocacy activities and team meetings remain virtual.
Election Fraud Cases Sow Doubts About Legal Profession’s Future
Bloomberg Law – Melissa Heelan | Published: 9/14/2021
Attorneys behind dismissed cases over alleged fraud in the 2020 presidential election have been cited for violating professional standards requiring candor in the courtroom and barring the filing of lawsuits not backed up by fact or law. Charles Geyh, a legal ethics professor at Indiana University, said courts rose to the occasion, but the discipline might not be enough to stop lawyers from being involved in similar challenges in the future. No one’s been disbarred yet despite calls from some for severe discipline. Sanctions range from a temporary license suspension for Rudy Giuliani to judicial dressing downs and orders to pay court costs.
FEC Finds Twitter Didn’t Break Law by Blocking Spread of Hunter Biden Story
New York Times – Shane Goldmacher and Kate Conger | Published: 9/13/2021
The FEC ruled Twitter did not break election laws when it blocked users from sharing links to a New York Post story about Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden. The FEC said Twitter’s actions in blocking the spread of the article were made with valid commercial reason, not a political purpose, making them legal, a decision that is likely to set a precedent for future cases involving social media sites and federal campaigns. The FEC used the same reasoning to side with Snapchat and reject a complaint from the Trump campaign. The campaign argued the company provided an improper gift to Biden by rejecting Trump from its Discover platform.
Fed’s Kaplan, Rosengren to Sell All Stocks Amid Ethics Concerns
MSN – Catarina Saraiva and Craig Torres (Bloomberg) | Published: 9/10/2021
The presidents of the Federal Reserve banks of Boston and Dallas said they are selling their individual stock holdings by September 30, in moves aimed at appeasing ethical concerns over their trading activity last year. Boston Fed chief Eric Rosengren and the Dallas Fed’s Robert Kaplan released near-identical statements after their most recent financial disclosure documents showed active trading in a range of investments during a year in which the central bank took sweeping policy actions to protect the U.S. economy from Covid-19. They both said they would invest the proceeds of their sales in diversified index funds or hold them in cash.
Former Chancellor Philip Hammond Cleared of Breaking Rules After His Lobbying of Treasury Was Ruled Only ‘Incidental’
Yahoo News – Henry Dyer (Business Insider) | Published: 9/10/2021
Lord Philip Hammond, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, was cleared of breaking lobbying rules when he contacted a senior Treasury official on behalf of a bank he was working for. Former ministers are generally barred from trying to influence the government on behalf of clients. But Hammond’s activity was deemed acceptable by an independent regulator on the grounds it was “incidental.” Critics said the ruling highlights flaws in the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act, passed in 2014.
Giuliani Associate Igor Fruman Pleads Guilty in Campaign-Finance Case
MSN – Shayna Jacobs (Washington Post) | Published: 9/11/2021
A Soviet-born businessperson who assisted Rudolph Giuliani in his Ukrainian political efforts on behalf of former President Trump pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance laws, as others charged in the case prepare to stand trial. Igor Fruman, who was arrested with co-defendant Lev Parnas at Dulles International Airport in 2019, entered a guilty plea to one count of soliciting foreign campaign contributions.
GOP Online Donation Platform Tweaks Fees, Sending Millions More to Midterm Campaigns
Yahoo News – Isaac Isenstadt (Politico) | Published: 9/16/2021
Republicans are making a small change to their online fundraising program that could have a big impact on the party’s finances heading into the 2022 midterm election. WinRed, the GOP’s principal small-dollar donation processor, is lowering the fees it charges candidates and committees for each contribution they receive through the platform. The shift, which follows months of behind-the-scenes deliberations involving the party’s senior officials, could result in millions of dollars more being funneled into campaign coffers next year.
GOP Senate Candidates Backed Legal Challenges to the 2020 Election
MSN – Bridget Bowman (Roll Call) | Published: 9/15/2021
At least nine Republican U.S. Senate candidates have a political résumé with a contentious item: filing or actively supporting one of the failed lawsuits that furthered former President Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was rife with fraud. Since many GOP candidates support Trump’s claims, participating in lawsuits could help some stand out in crowded Republican primaries, where they need to win over Trump supporters who say voter fraud played a role in President Biden’s win. Some Democrats think focusing on the 2020 election could be a liability for Republicans in the midterms with voters who rejected Trump’s divisive rhetoric or his unfounded concerns about the validity of the last election.
McCarthy Asks Supreme Court to Overturn House Proxy Voting Rules Adopted as Pandemic Precaution and Used by Nearly 100 Republicans
MSN – Amy Wang (Washington Post) | Published: 9/10/2021
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review and overturn the House’s proxy voting rules, which were adopted last year to allow lawmakers to cast votes remotely as a pandemic precaution. McCarthy criticized proxy voting as a “power grab” and “a raw abuse of power” by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who along with many Democrats pushed for the historic rule change at the beginning of the pandemic.
Revised Democratic Voting Bill Drops Controversial Provisions, Tweaks Others as Pressure for Action Mounts
MSN – Mike DeBonis (Washington Post) | Published: 9/14/2021
A group of Democratic senators, including key centrist Joe Manchin III, introduced a pared-down voting rights, campaign finance, and government ethics bill in hopes of building momentum for its passage through a closely divided Senate. The new Freedom to Vote Act retains significant portions of the For the People Act, Democrats’ marquee voting legislation that passed the House this year but was blocked by a Senate filibuster. Tt also discards significant pieces and tweaks others, largely to placate Manchin and indulge his hopes of building enough Republican support to pass the bill.
Struggle for Control of Afghanistan Comes to K Street
New York Times – Kenneth Vogel | Published: 9/15/2021
A leading figure in the Afghan resistance has retained a lobbyist to seek military and financial support in the U.S. for a fight against the Taliban. Ahmad Massoud, the leader of one of the most prominent groups of fighters seeking to oust the Taliban from power, signed the contract with Robert Stryk, who built a lobbying practice during the Trump administration working with clients that others on K Street were wary of representing. The contract, which indicates the work will be pro bono, comes as an array of Afghan constituencies are seeking lobbying help as they jockey for recognition in Washington and the international community.
From the States and Municipalities
Alaska – GOP Lawmaker Who Refused to Follow Mask Mandate While Flying Says She Can’t Get to the Alaskan Capital
MSN – Derek Hawkins (Washington Post) | Published: 9/11/2021
An Alaska lawmaker requested an excusal from the state Senate until mid-January, citing the challenges of traveling to Juneau from Anchorage after she was suspended from flying on Alaska Airlines earlier this year. Sen. Lora Reinbold requested the excusal through January 15. She said she was unaware of any other airline flying to the state capital during that period. The airline banned her indefinitely in the spring after she clashed with staffers over the airline mask mandate issued by federal transportation officials.
Arkansas – Dentist Guilty of Conspiring to Bribe Former Arkansas Lawmaker Hutchinson
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette – Ron Wood | Published: 9/14/2021
Benjamin Burris, an orthodontist who operated clinics across Arkansas, pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of bribing former state Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson to pass laws to benefit Burris’s businesses. Burris paid Hutchinson $157,500 between February 2014 and November 2016. Hutchinson, then a practicing lawyer, was paid monthly retainers that nominally were for legal services. But he was also expected to introduce and lobby for laws or regulatory changes Burris wanted, the indictment said.
California – Newsom Soundly Defeats California Recall Attempt
MSN – Phil Willon, Taryn Luna, and Julia Wick (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 9/14/2021
California Gov. Gavin Newsom survived a historic recall election, winning a major vote of confidence during a COVID-19 pandemic that has tested his ability to lead the state through the largest worldwide health crisis in modern times. The recall offered Republicans their best chance in more than a decade to take the helm of the largest state. But the effort was undercut when Newsom and the nation’s leading Democrats, aided by visits to California by President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, portrayed the campaign to oust the governor as a “life and death” battle against “Trumpism” and far-right anti-vaccine activists.
California – Recology Agrees to Pay $36 Million for Role in Bribes to City Official
MSN – Megan Cassidy (San Francisco Chronicle) | Published: 9/10/2021
Three waste management companies that are part of Recology Inc. agreed to pay $36 million for their role in a corruption scheme that included kickbacks to former San Francisco Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru. The resolution comes as federal prosecutors announced a charge of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud against the three subsidiaries, which officials said conspired to bribe Nuru for favorable treatment with the trash company’s city contracts. In his former role, Nuru had considerable sway in the rate-setting process with Recology.
Colorado – Unregistered Redistricting Lobbying Complaint to Receive Full Investigation After Colorado Secretary of State Approves Probe
Colorado Springs Gazette – Evan Wyloge | Published: 9/15/2021
An investigation into whether a secretly funded nonprofit organization has been illegally lobbying Colorado’s redistricting commissioners will move forward after the secretary of state found enough evidence to warrant a full probe. The decision to further investigate Colorado Neighborhood Coalition, the 501c4 nonprofit organization run by longtime Republican operatives at the center of the complaint, could have broad implications for the transparency now required around the redistricting process, and comes after several efforts to influence the redistricting commissions without full transparency have emerged.
Florida – Florida Official Sentence to 5 Years in Corruption Case
MSN – Brendan Farrington (Associated Press) | Published: 9/9/2021
A federal judge sentenced former Tallahassee City Commissioner Scott Maddox to five years in prison after he pleaded guilty to charges related to public corruption. Maddox’s business associate, Paige Carte-Smith, was sentenced to two years for her role. Prosecutors said Maddox would send clients to Carter-Smith’s lobbying firm after he returned to the city commission in 2012, and she would then pay Maddox for his influence. Maddox was first elected to the commission in 1990 and later served as the Tallahassee mayor until 2003.
Florida – Tallahassee City Commissioner Calls for Ethics Reforms Following Maddox Trial
WFSU – Valerie Crowder | Published: 9/10/2021
A former Tallahassee commissioner’s public corruption trial has sparked calls for ethics reform. Former Commissioner Scott Maddox was sentenced to five years in federal prison for orchestrating a bribery scheme through his lobbying firm. City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow is proposing six policy recommendations aimed at making it harder for public officials to abuse their power. They include requiring all city officials to detail any meetings related to city business they have with paid lobbyists and report contact logs with anyone paid to influence policy.
Hawaii – What Civil Beat’s Salary Database Tells Us About the Embattled Auditor’s Office
Honolulu Civil Beat – Richard Wiens | Published: 9/12/2021
When the Honolulu Civil Beat published the salaries and job titles of more than 48,000 state workers, they included the payrolls of two agencies whose directors have made a lot of headlines lately: the state auditor’s office and the Hawaii Ethics Commission. Auditor Les Kondo has been under fire from a working group that found his office was producing inadequate performance audits. Ethics Commission Director Dan Gluck generated controversy after he was nominated to become a judge on the Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals. The salary database shows how the offices led by Kondo and Gluck have evolved over the last decade.
Idaho – Former Idaho Legislator Faces Arrest Warrant on Two Felony Charges – Including Rape
Idaho Statesman – Hayat Norimine | Published: 9/10/2021
The former Idaho legislator who resigned earlier this year after a House ethics committee hearing now faces two felony charges, including one for rape. An arrest warrant has been issued for former state Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger, who stepped down after a 19-year-old legislative intern’s accusation of sexual assault. Von Ehlinger has denied any wrongdoing, saying his actions with the intern were consensual. He resigned just hours after the ethics panel recommended expelling him from his seat, following a finding he engaged in “conduct unbecoming.”
Illinois – Chicago Sky Owner Michael Alter Fined by City Ethics Board for Seeking Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Help on Gambling License Without Registering as a Lobbyist
MSN – Gregory Pratt (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 9/15/2021
Michael Alter, owner of the Chicago Sky basketball team in the WNBA, was fined $5,000 for lobbying Mayor Lori Lightfoot without registering. Alter emailed first lady Amy Eshleman in December to ask for the mayor’s help obtaining a gambling license for his team. In the email, Alter noted he previously discussed the issue with Lightfoot. Lobbyists are required to register with the city and report contact with city departments. Alter has not registered as a lobbyist in Chicago dating back to 2013.
Illinois – Ethics Bill Clears Illinois House on Second Try, Will Head Back to Governor
Journal Gazette and Times-Courier – Peter Hancock (Capitol News Illinois) | Published: 9/9/2021
The Illinois House voted to accept changes to an ethics bill that Gov. J.B. Pritzker requested, paving the way for it to become law once the governor signs it. Senate Bill 539 cleared both chambers during the spring session. It contained enough reforms, such as increased financial disclosure requirements and limits on the ability of elected officials to lobby other units of government, so many lawmakers believed it was the best they could get at the time. But a few weeks after it passed, Legislative Inspector General Carol Pope submitted her intent to resign, saying the bill would weaken her office by limiting the types of investigations she could conduct.
Illinois – Ethics Board Finds Probable Cause Ald. Gardiner Violated Ethics Ordinance Twice
WTTW – Heather Cherone | Published: 9/15/2021
The Chicago Board of Ethics found there is probable cause to believe Ald. Jim Gardiner violated the city’s ethics ordinance by using his office to retaliate against his political foes. Gardiner will have a chance to challenge the board’s determination, which could result in fines ranging between $200 to $5,000 per violation. The finding adds to the beleaguered alderman’s woes. It was reported that Gardiner is under federal investigation for allegedly accepting bribes and demanding payments before taking official actions.
Kentucky – Woman Pleads Guilty to Lying About Boss’s Lexington Council Campaign Donation Scheme
MSN – Jeremy Chisenhall (Lexington Herald-Leader) | Published: 9/15/2021
Elizabeth Stormbringer pleaded guilty to perjury and lying to the FBI in a scheme to circumvent campaign finance laws in a Lexington City Council race. Officials at the time were investigating potential campaign finance crimes committed by her boss at a real estate development company. She also admitted to lying under oath while she testified before the grand jury. Investigators discovered she made a $1,000 donation to a council candidate in 2018 and then received a $1,000 check from her boss, Timothy Wellman. He was an executive at CRM Companies who had a development project the council considered.
Louisiana – Former State Parks Employee Fined for Violating Ethics Laws
KATC – Staff | Published: 9/13/2021
The Louisiana Board of Ethics fined a former parks employee $26,000 after finding he accepted payments from production companies filming in his park in violation of state law. Arthur Schick worked for an agency within the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism. The board found he received a total of $13,000 in compensation from various film production companies between 2015 and 2017. When a production company signs an agreement to use a park, they pay a damage fee to cover any costs incurred by their work. The board said Schick was adding on a “site rep” fee, and he was depositing that in his own bank account.
Maryland – Maryland Elections Officials Ask Michael Steele to Prove He’s Following Campaign Law
MSN – Pamela Wood (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 9/14/2021
Michael Steele, the former Maryland lieutenant governor who is contemplating a run for governor, must disclose information about his exploratory campaign to show he is not violating campaign finance laws. The Maryland State Board of Elections sent a letter to Steele requesting the details by October 11. It came in response to a complaint that Steele was improperly using a federal account to raise and spend money for a future state campaign in Maryland.
Massachusetts – Campaign Finance Reform Pitched as Way to Diversify Candidate Pool
WWLP – Chris Lisinski (State House News Service) | Published: 9/15/2021
Lawmakers are again pushing to add childcare to the list of allowable campaign finance expenses in Massachusetts, buoyed by a legislative commission’s endorsement of the change last year, a growing list of more than a dozen states that have already deployed similar reforms, and the possibility that a new top campaign finance regulator will embrace the proposal. A bill before the Election Laws Committee would explicitly allow candidates to use their campaign accounts to cover childcare costs while the parent is occupied with running for office.
Massachusetts – Former Top House Democrat Sentenced to 15 Months in Prison for Fraud
WWLP – Matt Murphy (State House News Service) | Published: 9/15/2021
A federal judge sentenced former Massachusetts Rep. David Nangle to 15 months after Nangle pleaded guilty earlier this year to illegally using campaign funds to fund a lifestyle that included golf club memberships and casino trips to Connecticut and lying to banks about his debt to obtain mortgages and other loans. Prosecutors said during the period covered by their investigation, Nangle was heavily in debt and gambling at various casinos, using campaign funds to rent cars to travel to casinos and even paying someone at Mohegan Sun to collect his winnings so he did not have to pay income taxes.
Massachusetts – Wu and Essaibi George Will Advance as Top Candidates in Historic Race for Boston Mayor
MSN – Emma Platoff (Boston Globe) | Published: 9/15/2021
Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi George, two daughters of immigrants and longtime Boston City Council members who have struck dramatically different tones on the campaign trail to become the city’s next mayor, are advancing to November’s general election. Either would be the first woman of color Boston has ever elected mayor, a historic shift. But the contest between them will nonetheless test the city’s appetite for change.
Michigan – FBI Seized Towing Docs, Electronics and Records for Benson Aide During Detroit City Hall Raid
Detroit News – Robert Snell and Sarah Rahal | Published: 9/14/2021
FBI agents investigating Detroit City Hall corruption seized electronics, towing paperwork, shredded documents, and payroll records for Emberly Vick, an aide of Detroit City Councilperson Scott Benson, during a recent raid. The document confirms media reports that said the corruption investigation was focused on Detroit towing operations in what amounts to the broadest public corruption probe in the eight years since former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was convicted of racketeering conspiracy. Vick has not been charged with any wrongdoing.
New Jersey – Activist Assails ELEC for Deleting Dismissed Campaign Finance Complaints from Its Website
Politico – Matt Friedman | Published: 9/14/2021
The New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) has for years quietly been disposing complaints against politicians it dismissed by deleting them from its website. Now, after an activist whose tips to the commission led to multicount complaints against two Democrats noticed those complaints were dismissed with no public justification and little public disclosure, ELEC said it is taking that policy “under advisement.”
New Mexico – Gonzales Shifts Course, Turns to Private Donors
Albuquerque Journal – Jessica Dyer | Published: 9/14/2021
Hours after losing another round in his prolonged legal fight for public campaign financing, Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales said he will try a new tack in the 2021 mayor’s race in Albuquerque. Gonzales said he would turn to private donors for support, forgoing his quest to get taxpayer money for his campaign. The decision concludes his monthslong battle over $600,000 in public campaign cash. Gonzales’ battle sustained a blow when a state judge ruled City Clerk Ethan Watson had taken the appropriate actions necessary to deny Gonzales the taxpayer money and rejected Gonzales’ claims that Watson was biased.
New York – Hochul Leaves Door Open to Probe of Cuomo Campaign Spending
Albany Times Union – Joshua Solomon | Published: 9/9/2021
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is leaving the door open for a potential investigation into how former Gov. Andrew Cuomo is spending roughly $18 million of campaign cash after he resigned from office in the wake of an investigation that found he sexually harassed multiple women. The response comes as watchdogs are calling for the state Board of Election chief enforcement officer Michael Johnson to investigate Cuomo’s spending from his campaign account. Common Cause filed a formal complaint with the Board of Elections.
New York – James Says JCOPE Leak Referral Was Improper
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg and Joshua Solomon | Published: 9/14/2021
New York Attorney General Letitia James informed the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) that her office will not presently be able to investigate the leak of confidential information to then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2019. JCOPE had passed a motion seeking to make a criminal referral to James’ office, which asked for an investigation into the apparent leak. In her letter, James cited the state law creating JCOPE, which created much-criticized special voting rules that can serve to protect politicians from scrutiny.
North Carolina – NC Lawmakers Turn to Funding Once Ruled Unethical. Are Their $14,000 Salaries the Cause?
MSN – Lucille Sherman (Raleigh News and Observer) | Published: 9/13/2021
Last fall, North Carolina lawmakers repealed a rule that barred lawmakers from collecting state money to cover food, lodging, and travel while working at the General Assembly and simultaneously using campaign accounts to pay for the same housing, meals, and travel in Raleigh, a practice that a campaign watchdog has described as “double dipping.” The move protected at least two lawmakers who had continued to use campaign funds for housing while collecting the state per diem stipends for food and lodging, between May and October last year. This year, about a dozen lawmakers have used both sources of funding.
Pennsylvania – Pennsylvania GOP Lawmakers Approve Wide-Ranging Subpoenas for Personal Information of 2020 Voters
MSN – Elise Viebeck and Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) | Published: 9/15/2021
Republican lawmakers in Pennsylvania authorized a series of broad subpoenas for personal information on voters as part of an expanding effort to review the results of the 2020 election. The move drew a sharp rebuke from Democrats, who described the effort as insecure and unwarranted, said they would consider mounting a court fight. Among other requests, Republicans are seeking the names, dates of birth, driver’s license numbers, last four digits of Social Security numbers, addresses, and methods of voting for millions of people who cast ballots in the May primary and the November general election.
Tennessee – Tennessee Valley Authority Accused of Funding ‘Dirty Energy Lobbyists’
Courthouse News Service – Rosana Hughes | Published: 9/9/2021
In a federal lawsuit, a coalition of environmental conservation groups are seeking to force the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to address a petition to regulate the agency’s spending, alleging the public utility funds “dirty energy lobbyists” with customer money. The coalition sifted through the TVA’s financial and other public records and counted hundreds of third-party organizations, such as the Edison Electric Institute, that receive TVA dollars. Those organizations, the conservationists say, “routinely make political donations, engage in legislative lobbying, … and pursue other forms of political advocacy that promote fossil fuel interests ….”
Texas – Austin ISD Stands by Hire of Ex-State Official Who Resigned Amid Ethics Allegations
MSN – Nicole Foy (Austin American-Statesman) | Published: 9/10/2021
Austin Independent School District leaders say they are standing behind the decision to hire as general counsel a former state government official who resigned in 2017 amid allegations of ethics violations. The district hired Stuart Bowen, a lawyer and former Texas Health and Human Services inspector general, as its general counsel in August. Bowen in 2017 was forced to resign his position as the state’s top insurance fraud investigator after allegations arose that he was also working for a lobbying firm that represents the Iraqi government.
Texas – Texas Governor Signs Bill Prohibiting Social Media Giants from Blocking Users Based on Viewpoint
MSN – Cat Zakrzewski (Washington Post) | Published: 9/9/2021
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill that would prohibit large technology companies from blocking or restricting people or their posts based on their viewpoint, setting the stage for a legal battle with the tech industry. The law applies to social media companies with more than 50 million monthly active users in the U.S., including Facebook, Twitter, and Google’s YouTube, and requires them to create reports on any illegal or potentially policy-violating content, as well as build a complaint system, where people could challenge companies’ decisions to remove content or flag illegal activity.
Virginia – Campaign Funds Can Be Used for Child Care, Virginia AG Says
Virginia Mercury – Graham Moomaw | Published: 9/10/2021
Attorney General Mark Herring said candidates in Virginia can use campaign funds to pay campaign-related child-care expenses, an opinion that puts the state in alignment with federal election rules but has little immediate impact due to Virginia’s anything-goes campaign finance system. Proponents of the child-care exemption say it gives parents of young children, particularly women, more freedom to run for office without worrying about a hit to their family budget.
Wisconsin – How Wisconsin Is Ruled by a Shadow Governor
Yahoo News – Daniel Vock (Politico) | Published: 9/15/2021
For nearly three years, Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has used his GOP majority, and the support of the Republicans who control the state Senate, to block, thwart, or resist almost every significant move made by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. Governors asserted unprecedented powers in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, and lawmakers in many states chafed at the broad executive reach. But few have done more to constrain gubernatorial power than Vos, the president of the National Conference of State Legislatures.
September 16, 2021 •
Campaign Finance New Jersey: “Activist Assails ELEC for Deleting Dismissed Campaign Finance Complaints from Its Website” by Matt Friedman for Politico New Mexico: “Gonzales Shifts Course, Turns to Private Donors” by Jessica Dyer for Albuquerque Journal Elections Massachusetts: “Wu and […]
New Jersey: “Activist Assails ELEC for Deleting Dismissed Campaign Finance Complaints from Its Website” by Matt Friedman for Politico
New Mexico: “Gonzales Shifts Course, Turns to Private Donors” by Jessica Dyer for Albuquerque Journal
Massachusetts: “Wu and Essaibi George Will Advance as Top Candidates in Historic Race for Boston Mayor” by Emma Platoff (Boston Globe) for MSN
Pennsylvania: “Pennsylvania GOP Lawmakers Approve Wide-Ranging Subpoenas for Personal Information of 2020 Voters” by Elise Viebeck and Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Fed’s Kaplan, Rosengren to Sell All Stocks Amid Ethics Concerns” by Catarina Saraiva and Craig Torres (Bloomberg) for MSN
Illinois: “Ethics Board Finds Probable Cause Ald. Gardiner Violated Ethics Ordinance Twice” by Heather Cherone for WTTW
Louisiana: “Former State Parks Employee Fined for Violating Ethics Laws” by Staff for KATC
Wisconsin: “How Wisconsin Is Ruled by a Shadow Governor” by Daniel Vock (Politico) for Yahoo News
Colorado: “Unregistered Redistricting Lobbying Complaint to Receive Full Investigation After Colorado Secretary of State Approves Probe” by Evan Wyloge for Colorado Springs Gazette
Illinois: “Chicago Sky Owner Michael Alter Fined by City Ethics Board for Seeking Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Help on Gambling License Without Registering as a Lobbyist” by Gregory Pratt (Chicago Tribune) for MSN
September 13, 2021 •
Campaign Finance National: “Giuliani Associate Igor Fruman Pleads Guilty in Campaign-Finance Case” by Shayna Jacobs (Washington Post) for MSN Florida: “Dems Gave $700K to Dark-Money Group That Helped Republicans Win Races in ‘Ghost’ Candidate Scandal” by Jason Garcia and Annie […]
National: “Giuliani Associate Igor Fruman Pleads Guilty in Campaign-Finance Case” by Shayna Jacobs (Washington Post) for MSN
Florida: “Dems Gave $700K to Dark-Money Group That Helped Republicans Win Races in ‘Ghost’ Candidate Scandal” by Jason Garcia and Annie Martin for Orlando Sentinel
Florida: “Florida Official Sentence to 5 Years in Corruption Case” by Brendan Farrington (Associated Press) for MSN
Hawaii: “What Civil Beat’s Salary Database Tells Us About the Embattled Auditor’s Office” by Richard Wiens for Honolulu Civil Beat
Idaho: “Former Idaho Legislator Faces Arrest Warrant on Two Felony Charges – Including Rape” by Hayat Norimine for Idaho Statesman
Illinois: “Ethics Bill Clears Illinois House on Second Try, Will Head Back to Governor” by Peter Hancock (Capitol News Illinois) for Journal Gazette and Times-Courier
Alaska: “GOP Lawmaker Who Refused to Follow Mask Mandate While Flying Says She Can’t Get to the Alaskan Capital” by Derek Hawkins (Washington Post) for MSN
Tennessee: “Tennessee Valley Authority Accused of Funding ‘Dirty Energy Lobbyists’” by Rosana Hughes for Courthouse News Service
September 10, 2021 •
The Illinois House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 539 with the amendatory veto issued by Gov. JB Pritzker. The bill passed along party lines in a vote taken September 9, after it was rejected in an earlier vote last week. […]
The Illinois House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 539 with the amendatory veto issued by Gov. JB Pritzker.
The bill passed along party lines in a vote taken September 9, after it was rejected in an earlier vote last week.
The bill, which now goes back to Pritzker for his signature, expands state lobbyist registration requirements to the local level; prohibits all fundraising statewide during legislative sessions; expands revolving door restrictions; and requires certain consultants hired by a lobbyist or lobbying entity to register and report.
If signed, the bill will be effective January 1, 2022.
September 3, 2021 •
National/Federal Are Censures of Politicians a Form of Free Speech or a Threat to It? New York Times – Adam Liptak | Published: 8/30/2021 Censures, which are formal reprimands and a kind of punishment, seem to be on the rise in […]
Are Censures of Politicians a Form of Free Speech or a Threat to It?
New York Times – Adam Liptak | Published: 8/30/2021
Censures, which are formal reprimands and a kind of punishment, seem to be on the rise in these divisive times. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments this fall on whether the First Amendment has anything to say about when elected bodies can impose them on their members. The justices will have to decide whether censures condemning politicians’ statements are a threat to free speech that chills expression or a form of free speech responding to one set of views with another.
As Washington Stews, State Legislatures Increasingly Shape American Politics
New York Times – Michael Wines | Published: 8/29/2021
With the release of the 2020 census, the drawing of legislative districts that could in large part determine control of Congress for the next decade heads to the nation’s state Legislatures, the heart of Republican political power. Increasingly, state Legislatures, especially in 30 GOP-controlled states, have seized an outsize role for themselves, pressing conservative agendas on voting, Covid-19, and the culture wars that are amplifying partisan splits and shaping policy well beyond their own borders.
Capitol Riot Defendants’ Lawyer Apparently Hospitalized with Covid Leaves Clients Without Counsel, Prosecutors Say
MSN – Spencer Hsu and Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) | Published: 8/30/2021
An attorney who represents the largest number of defendants charged in the January 6 Capitol riots has dropped out of sight amid conflicting statements by associates over whether he has been hospitalized with covid-19, U.S. prosecutors told judges. Prosecutors said John Pierce has been incommunicado for the past seven days, leaving 17 clients effectively without defense counsel. The filings put a spotlight on Pierce, whose rhetoric has attracted Trump supporters facing criminal charges and whose business and legal tactics have drawn questions over whether his political or financial interests are affecting his representation of clients.
Corporate America Launches Massive Lobbying Blitz to Kill Key Parts of Democrats’ $3.5 Trillion Economic Plan
MSN – Tony Romm (Washington Post) | Published: 8/31/2021
A torrent of political groups representing some of the country’s most influential corporations is laying the groundwork for a massive lobbying campaign to stop Congress from enacting significant swaths of President Biden’s $3.5 trillion economic agenda. The emerging opposition appears to be vast, spanning drug manufacturers, big banks, tech titans, major retailers, and oil-and-gas giants. In recent weeks, top Washington organizations representing these and other industries have started strategizing behind the scenes, seeking to battle back key elements in Democrats proposed overhaul to federal health care, education, and safety net programs.
DOJ Issues Warning to States Ahead of Redistricting
MSN – Rebecca Beitsch (Roll Call) | Published: 9/1/2021
The Department of Justice issued a warning to states ahead of a year of congressional mapmaking that it will pursue cases against jurisdictions seeking to dilute the voting power of various minorities. The latest guidance signals an administration prepared to take a more aggressive approach in battling gerrymandering. The department said it would be ready to go after any jurisdiction that does not meet the “one person, one vote” principle.
Ex-UK Chancellor Philip Hammond Rapped by Lobbying Watchdog
Politico.eu – Matei Rosca and Matt Honeycombe-Foster | Published: 9/1/2021
Former British Chancellor Philip Hammond was scolded by Westminster’s lobbying watchdog for contacting high-ranking Treasury civil servants on behalf of his new employer, OakNorth, a London-based lender. The Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA) said Hammond’s attempt to pitch OakNorth services to officials, even on a non-profit basis as far as the bank was concerned, was inappropriate. Hammond accused ACOBA of trying to prove its own relevance and challenged it to point to a specific breach of the rules governing jobs for ex-ministers.
G.O.P. Election Reviews Create a New Kind of Security Threat
New York Times – Nick Corasaniti | Published: 9/1/2021
As Republican state and county officials and their allies mount efforts to discredit the result of the 2020 contest, there has been a wave of GOP-driven reviews of the vote count conducted by uncredentialed and partisan companies or people. These reviews have given rise to their own new set of threats to the integrity of the voting machines, software, and other equipment that make up the nation’s election infrastructure. Election officials and security experts say previously unknown technical vulnerabilities could be discovered by partisan malefactors and exploited in future elections.
Jan. 6 Investigators Demand Records from Social Media Companies
Yahoo News – Nicholas Wu (Politico) | Published: 8/27/2021
The select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection is seeking records from social media companies, on whose platforms many defendants charged in the Capitol attack planned and coordinated their actions. The panel is asking all the companies to explain whether their algorithms helped spread misinformation and account for what they did to address or remove content or posts that might have spread falsehoods about the riot. It also requests information on the companies’ communications with law enforcement regarding January 6 and the election, as well as on their reporting practices.
January 6 Committee to Ask Telecommunications Companies to Preserve Phone Records of Members of Congress Who Participated in ‘Stop the Steal’ Rally
CNN – Ryan Nobles, Zachary Cohen, Annie Grayer, and Whitney Wild | Published: 8/30/2021
The House select committee investigating the January 6 riot is set to request that a group of telecommunications companies preserve the phone records of a group of Republican members of Congress and former President Trump, as well as members of the Trump family, who played some role in the “Stop the Steal” rally that served as the prelude to the insurrection at the Capitol. According to the sources, this group was targeted because the committee concluded each of these lawmakers played some role in the rally. They either attended, spoke, actively planned, or encouraged people to attend.
Lauren Boebert Removes Name from Business Filings Tied to Oil and Gas Consulting Firm Run by Her Husband
Colorado Sun – Thy Vo | Published: 9/1/2021
U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert removed her name from business paperwork linked to the oil and gas consulting firm run by her husband after drawing scrutiny for nearly $1 million in payments it received from Terra Energy, a drilling company operating in her district. The changes, made after media reports of her ties to Boebert Consulting, distance Rep. Boebert from the two companies, which are registered to the couple’s home. But it is not clear what ownership or stake, if any, Lauren Boebert has in either company.
Seven Capitol Police Officers Sue Trump, Right-Wing Groups Over Injuries from Jan. 6 Riot
MSN – Paul Duggan and Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 8/26/2021
Seven U.S. Capitol Police officers sued former President Trump and more than a dozen alleged participants in the January 6 riot at the Capitol, saying the defendants are responsible for the officers being “violently assaulted, spat on, tear-gassed, bear-sprayed, subjected to racial slurs and epithets, and put in fear for their lives.” The lawsuit alleges Trump, by falsely claiming the presidential election was rigged, incited a mob of his supporters to storm the Capitol to stop Congress from confirming President Biden’s victory.
Tommy Tuberville’s Stock Trades During Infrastructure Talks Raise Questions About Conflicts of Interest
Center for Responsive Politics – Isaiah Poritz | Published: 9/1/2021
In July, while the Senate was in the final weeks of negotiating the bipartisan infrastructure bill, U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville bought and sold between $170,000 and $475,000 in stock and options of a mining and steel manufacturing company that said it could benefit greatly from the infrastructure plan. While Tuberville ultimately voted against the bill and his spokesperson said he was not involved in negotiations, the optics of trading stock in a company that could benefit from pending legislation can be harmful, ethics experts say.
Canada – How Interested Outsiders Use ‘Third Party’ Status to Promote Causes, Influence Election
CBC – Christian Pass-Lang | Published: 8/30/2021
With an election underway, parties are officially on the hunt for the votes of Canadians, crisscrossing the country and campaigning right up to the September 20 election. To fund all that travel, advertising, and election gear, parties will be spending a lot of money. But political parties and candidates will not be the only groups spending big in the election campaign. “Third parties: are also in the mix and will be hoping to shape the political conversation and get their issue prioritized.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – ASU and UA Offer Lawmakers Free Tickets to Football Games; the Public Can’t Know Who Accepts Them
Infoshri.com – Alison Steinbach (Arizona Republic) | Published: 8/27/2021
The return of college football carries a perk for all members of the Legislature: free admission to every game at Arizona State University and the University of Arizona. It is part of the universities’ efforts to engage with lawmakers, build relationships, and set issues for the upcoming legislative session, university officials say. But those who monitor money and politics say the public deserves more information about the practice. Under state lobbying laws, the free tickets qualify as “special events,” not gifts. That means as long as all 90 members of the Legislature are invited, the schools do not have to report who accepted their offer.
Arizona – FBI Examining $100M Tax Refund Push by Gov. Ducey Staffers after Arizona Republic Investigation
MSN – Craig Harris (Arizona Republic) | Published: 9/1/2021
An investigation by the Arizona Republic uncovered how Gov. Doug Ducey’s administration pushed the Department of Revenue to agree to refund sales taxes on fuel for mining companies, even though that tax had been in place for decades. The companies that stood to benefit were represented by the tax firm Ryan LLC, founded by Ducey supporter G. Brint Ryan. The top three deputies in Ducey’s administration left their government jobs to work for Ryan to push for the tax refund. The FBI’s Public Corruption unit is now investigating the matter.
Colorado – Conservative Dark-Money Group Battles to Keep Its Donors Secret
Durango Herald – Sandra Fish (Colorado Sun) | Published: 8/25/2021
An administrative law judge recommended a $40,000 fine for Unite for Colorado after it spent $4 million to support or oppose three 2020 ballot initiatives, finding the group should have revealed its donors. The ruling also requires the nonprofit to file as an issue committee and reveal its donors from August 2020 through January. Unite for Colorado plans to appeal the decision. Meanwhile, progressive activists filed a new complaint against Unite for Colorado centered on the $3.7 million it has donated to two ballot initiatives likely to be considered by voters in November.
Colorado – Redistricting Lobbying Laws Violated, New Complaint Alleges
Colorado Springs Gazette – Evan Wyloge | Published: 8/24/2021
A complaint filed with the Colorado secretary of state accuses a group of secretly funded political operatives of illegally lobbying the state’s redistricting commissioners. The complaint accuses former House Speaker Frank McNulty and former lawmaker Greg Brophy of lobbying the state’s independent redistricting commissioners without formally registering as lobbyists. It also accuses political consultant Alan Philp, along with McNulty and Brophy, of failing to report payments for lobbying activity.
Florida – FEC Slaps U.S. Rep. Salazar’s Campaign for Accepting Tens of Thousands of Dollars in Illegal Contributions
Florida Bulldog – Francisco Alvarado | Published: 9/2/2021
U.S. Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar’s re-election committee has amassed $147,400 in excessive campaign contributions for her primary, according to warning letters from the FEC. The over-the-legal-limit donations include $5,700 from Abelardo de la Espriella, a Colombian lawyer and U.S. permanent resident who up until two years ago was the criminal defense attorney for a fellow countryman targeted in a Colombian money-laundering probe involving ill-gotten government contracts in Venezuela.
Florida – VancoreJones, Paid to ‘Influence Local Government,’ Failed to Register as Lobbyists
Tallahassee Reports – Steve Stewart | Published: 8/30/2021
An exhibit in the recently concluded public corruption trial in Tallahassee indicates J.T. Burnette executed a contract on November 12, 2013, with VancoreJones Communications to “influence local government agencies” related to real estate projects on behalf of TM Street, LLC. But records show no one from VancoreJones has ever registered to lobby for TM Street with the Leon County Commission, or the city of Tallahassee.
Georgia – New Georgia Campaign Finance Law Is ‘Carving a Loophole’ for Unlimited Fundraising
MSN – Elliot Davis (U.S. News and World Report) | Published: 9/1/2021
Eleven states allow candidates to raise unlimited contributions. States with unlimited financing often cite strict laws mandating disclosure and transparency to defend the embrace of money in politics. They also note their systems ensure a level playing field. But that is not the case in Georgia, critics note. Not only could the new law, described by analysts as an “incumbent protection scheme,” offer the current governor a massive advantage in a crucial race next year, but it has the possibility of being exported to other states where it could reshape the way elections are run.
Illinois – Illinois Legislators Pass Redrawn Legislative Map, Kill Ethics Bill; Energy Policy Overhaul Clears Senate
MSN – Rick Pearson and Dan Petrella (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 8/31/2021
Democrats in the Illinois General Assembly used their supermajority to push through revised boundaries for the state’s legislative districts aimed at ensuring their control in Springfield through the end of the decade. The House voted down proposed change made by Gov. JB Pritzker to an ethics package, killing the legislation. Pritzker and sponsoring lawmakers have hailed the package as an important step toward addressing pervasive public corruption in Illinois, but good-government groups and even some supporters have argued that does not go far enough.
Indiana – Lawsuit Claims Indiana Treasurer Granted Illegal Contracts
MSN – Tom Davies (Associated Press) | Published: 8/31/2021
A whistleblower is suing Indiana Treasurer Kelly Mitchell, alleging her office failed to get required approvals on contracts and made improper payments totaling more than $6.5 million, often to top contributors to her campaigns. The lawsuit filed by a former top Treasury Department staffer claims Mitchell bypassed required approvals from other state agencies in giving the contracts for lobbying and financial services without seeking competitive bids.
Michigan – Michigan GOP Cannot Use Party Fund to Back Petition Drive to Overhaul Voting
MSN – Clara Hendrickson (Detroit Free Press) | Published: 8/31/2021
The Michigan Republican Party cannot use its administrative fund to back a petition proposing major changes to voting in the state, according to a preliminary review by the Bureau of Elections. Former general counsel for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Bob LaBrant, raised concerns about the possibility the GOP might use its administrative fund to funnel undisclosed contributions to a petition drive that would circumvent Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s expected veto of election bills.
Michigan – Michigan Utilities Spent Millions Electing Lawmakers Who Could Probe Outages
Energy Central – Craig Mauer (Detroit News) | Published: 8/30/2021
Michigan officeholders who are poised to investigate a wave of recent outages that spurred 1 million customers to lose power have benefited from $55 million in “political” and “civic” spending over the last five years by the state’s top utilities. Critics said the close financial connections between CMS Energy and DTE Energy and lawmakers raise doubts about state government’s ability to prevent future outages, prepare the electric system for weather that is becoming increasingly severe, and advocate on behalf of residents.
Minnesota – MN Lawmaker Cuts Off 3 Fingers in Saw Mishap; Lobbyists’ Donations Create Awkwardness
Yahoo News – Dave Orrick (St. Paul Pioneer Press) | Published: 8/31/2021
In August, Minnesota Rep. Erin Koegel lost control of a power saw and cut off three fingers on her left hand. A GoFundMe page was established to help her with child-care and other expenses while she recovers. A number of lobbyists’ names were on the donor list. That would appear to violate a state law that prohibits lawmakers from accepting most gifts worth more than five dollars from lobbyists. There are exceptions, but none appear to apply for Koegel’s situation. Speaker Melissa Hortman asked a House staffer to seek a formal opinion from the Campaign Finance and Disclosure Board.
New Mexico – Judge Reverses Decision to Deny Gonzales Funds
Albuquerque Journal – Jessica Dyer | Published: 8/27/2021
A state District Court judge reversed the Albuquerque city clerk’s decision to deny Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales over $600,000 in public financing for his mayoral campaign, citing a lack of due process. Judge Bryan Biedscheid said Watson could still ultimately deny Gonzales the money. To do so, however, he would need to either determine that Gonzales has been found to have violated regulations or make the finding himself after a new process he must establish that grants Gonzales due process.
New York – At JCOPE, Two More Cuomo Appointees Resign
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 9/1/2021
The number of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s appointees on the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) are dwindling. In the short term, that could render JCOPE unable to take action against Cuomo; in the longer term, the departures could provide the ex-governor far less protection from possible sanction. Since Cuomo announced his own resignation on August 10, three of his six appointees to the panel have resigned or stated the intention to exit the commission.
New York – Cuomo’s Legal Woes Continue, Could Cost Public at Least $9.5M
NBC News – Associated Press | Published: 8/31/2021
Resigning from office probably did not end former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s legal problems, and no matter what happens next, taxpayers are likely to wind up with a hefty bill. The state has agreed to pay up to $9.5 million to lawyers representing and investigating Cuomo and his administration over sexual harassment allegations and other matters. That figure does not include the legal fees of Cuomo’s private attorney, whose bills are being paid by his campaign committee. Gov. Kathy Hochul can decide whether the state will continue to pay lawyers to defend the former governor and his administration going forward.
New York – Hochul’s First Bill Suspends State’s Open Meetings Law
Politico – Bill Mahoney | Published: 9/1/2021
Gov. Kathy Hochul’s bill extending New York’s eviction moratorium includes language that suspends the state’s Open Meetings Law. The legislation, the first of Hochul’s tenure, was due to pass a week after the governor pledged that “transparency will be the hallmark of [her] administration.” But the measure, and the rushed way in which it was logrolled through the Legislature, did not win over many transparency advocates.
New York – JCOPE Votes to Ask AG to Conduct Criminal Probe of Alleged Leak to Cuomo
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 8/26/2021
In a startling reversal, the New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) passed a motion asking state Attorney General Letitia James to investigate whether confidential information was illegally leaked to former Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2019. JCOPE also authorized James to conduct a criminal probe into whether the state inspector general’s office, which investigated the alleged leak to Cuomo, intentionally failed to find out the identity of the leaker and instead “covered up” the matter.
New York – NY Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Top Aide Is Married to a Lobbyist for Verizon, Google and Airbnb
CNBC – Brian Schwartz | Published: 8/26/2021
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s top aide is married to a lobbyist who represent clients such as Verizon, Google, and Airbnb. Hochul named Karen Persichilli Keogh, a veteran of Hillary Clinton’s U.S. Senate office and the wife of longtime lobbyist Mike Keogh, as secretary to the governor. Prior to taking her new job with Hochul, Karen Keogh was an executive at J.P. Morgan Chase, where she once held a state lobbying position. Mike Keogh has several marquee clients that have recently been trying to influence New York lawmakers and officials.
North Carolina – North Carolina General Assembly Passes Bill Limiting Nonprofit Donor Disclosure
Ballotpedia – Jerrick Adams | Published: 9/1/2021
The North Carolina Senate gave final approval to a bill that would make donations to nonprofit corporations confidential. The bill now heads to Gov. Roy Cooper. The bill’s supporters say it will protect donors from harassment or discrimination based on the organizations they choose to support. Opponents say it would decrease transparency around campaign contributions and allow politically active nonprofits to hide their donors.
North Carolina – Trump’s Pick in a Key Senate Race Touts His Agriculture Ties. He Doesn’t Mention His Role in a Bankruptcy That Cost Farmers Millions.
MSN – Michael Kranish (Washington Post) | Published: 8/31/2021
As U.S. Rep. Ted Budd launched his campaign for a pivotal U.S. Senate seat earlier this year, the North Carolina Republican pitched himself as a staunch ally of farmers. Budd’s story helped him win the support of former President Trump and the Club for Growth, a conservative political committee, has vowed to spend a record $10 million on his campaign. But as Budd has told his narrative in a state where agriculture is the largest business, he made no mention of his role in his family’s calamitous involvement in a company called AgriBioTech, which ended in a bankruptcy case that cost farmers millions of dollars in losses.
Ohio – John Raphael Avoids Prison in Greater Columbus Convention Center Bribery Scheme Sentence
MSN – Bill Bush (Columbus Dispatch) | Published: 8/26/2021
Deviating from federal sentencing guidelines, a judge gave two-time convicted public corruption figure John Raphael, once an influential Columbus City Hall lobbyist, no prison time in a bribery case. Raphael could have faced up to 20 years in prison for taking bribes to help a national food services company win a public food-service contract from the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority, on whose board he served at the time. But U.S. District Court Judge Michael Watson, who acknowledged he grew up in the same neighborhood as the defendant and knew members of his family, sentenced Raphael to one day of prison, waived in advance, and placed him on three years of probation.
Oregon – Multnomah County Judge Rules Campaign Contribution Limits Constitutional
Oregon Public Broadcasting – Sam Stites | Published: 8/26/2021
Campaign contribution limits passed by Multnomah County voters are now able to be enforced in local elections. Circuit Court Judge Eric Bloch County ruled political donations caps do not violate free speech protected by the First Amendment. The ruling is sure to put Multnomah County back in the spotlight in terms of discussions around statewide limits on campaign donations. Oregon is one of only five states with no limits at all on contributions, despite decades of effort by campaign finance activists.
Pennsylvania – Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Ordered to Pay More Than $7,000, Forfeit Vacation Days for Ethics Violations
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Andrew Goldstein | Published: 8/26/2021
The Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission found Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Anthony Hamlet violated the law by improperly receiving travel reimbursements, getting payments for appearances related to his job, and incorrectly filing financial documents. The commission ordered Hamlet to pay close to $8,000 and forfeit 14 vacation days, valued at more than $12,000. At least some of the violations occurred during a trip Hamlet and several other district administrators took to Cuba in April 2019.
Rhode Island – Anthony Silva, McKee’s Chief of Staff, Resigns Amid Wetlands Controversy
MSN – Antonia Noori Farzan (Providence Journal) | Published: 8/30/2021
Anthony Silva, the embattled chief of staff to Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee, resigned from his position amid an investigation into whether he used his political influence to get permission to develop a controversial wetlands property. Silva had been facing both a state Ethics Commission complaint brought forward by Republicans and an independent investigation by the attorney general’s office that was initiated at McKee’s request, amid mounting political pressure.
Rhode Island – Former RI Lottery Director Changes Mind After Registering as IGT Lobbyist
WPRI – Eli Sherman | Published: 9/1/2021
Days after former Rhode Island Lottery Director Gerald Aubin registered as a lobbyist for IGT, the state’s longtime gambling said he will not be working for the company after all. Aubin, who served as director of the state Lottery beginning in 1996, retired in 2020. He formed a new company called GSA and was listed on the secretary of state’s website as a lobbyist for IGT, a company he regulated for two decades. “… As a former gaming regulator and law enforcement official, I couldn’t get comfortable with it,” Aubin said.
Texas – GOP Legislators in Texas Give Final Approval to New Voting Restrictions, Overcoming Democratic Opposition
MSN – Eva Ruth Moravec and Elise Viebeck (Washington Post) | Published: 8/31/2021
The Texas Legislature passed the final version of a Republican bill that will implement strict new voting rules, sending it to the governor’s desk after months of intense partisan battling over how elections should be conducted in the state. The votes were a win for Gov. Greg Abbott. He had called two special legislative sessions as part of a long-running effort to pass the elections measure, which will take effect in three months. After the Senate voted, Abbott said he looks forward to signing the bill into law.
Wisconsin – Emails Show Prehn Coordinated with Republican Officials, Lobbyists as He Clings to Expired Seat
Wisconsin Examiner – Henry Redmon | Published: 8/26/2021
Fred Prehn, the chairperson of the Natural Resources Board who has generated controversy and complaints for refusing to vacate his seat after his term expired in May, coordinated and communicated with high-profile Republican officials and lobbyists as he planned to maintain the GOP’s grip on Wisconsin’s conservation policy, emails show. State Attorney General Josh Kaul filed a lawsuit against Prehn seeking to boot him from the post. Legislative leaders hired taxpayer-funded attorneys to defend Prehn.
September 1, 2021 •
Illinois State House lawmakers killed an ethics omnibus bill by rejecting the Amendatory Veto of Senate Bill 539 issued by Gov. JB Pritzker last week. The requested amendment was a minor change to the bill to keep the current process […]
Illinois State House lawmakers killed an ethics omnibus bill by rejecting the Amendatory Veto of Senate Bill 539 issued by Gov. JB Pritzker last week.
The requested amendment was a minor change to the bill to keep the current process regarding ethics investigations.
The Senate adopted the change, but the House, which had passed the bill by a vote of 113 to 5, rejected the change by a vote of 59 to 35.
August 30, 2021 •
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker issued an amendatory veto of Senate Bill 539 lawmakers requested to maintain the current process regarding ethics investigations. Pritzker pledged to certify the bill once the amendatory veto passes the Legislature. The bill expands state lobbyist […]
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker issued an amendatory veto of Senate Bill 539 lawmakers requested to maintain the current process regarding ethics investigations.
Pritzker pledged to certify the bill once the amendatory veto passes the Legislature.
The bill expands state lobbyist registration requirements to the local level; prohibits all fundraising statewide during legislative sessions; expands revolving door restrictions; and requires certain consultants hired by a lobbyist or lobbying entity to register and report.
If signed, the bill will be effective January 1, 2022.
August 24, 2021 •
On August 19, the Texas House of Representatives once again held quorum for the first time in over a month. With the House in quorum, lawmakers can take up several bills including House Bill 77 and 87. House Bill 77 […]
On August 19, the Texas House of Representatives once again held quorum for the first time in over a month.
With the House in quorum, lawmakers can take up several bills including House Bill 77 and 87.
House Bill 77 prohibits the use of public funds by political subdivisions for the purposes of lobbying activities.
House Bill 87 places limitations on campaign contributions to state candidates from persons and committees.
August 20, 2021 •
National/Federal As Population Grows, So Does Debate on How to Reach Latino Voters in ’22 Midterms MSN – Stephanie Akin and Suzanne Monyak (Roll Call) | Published: 8/18/2021 Democrats know that, overall, the party does better with Latino voters than Republicans, […]
As Population Grows, So Does Debate on How to Reach Latino Voters in ’22 Midterms
MSN – Stephanie Akin and Suzanne Monyak (Roll Call) | Published: 8/18/2021
Democrats know that, overall, the party does better with Latino voters than Republicans, but there is more recognition that the Hispanic electorate is far from monolithic, and outreach needs to start much earlier. Republicans, meanwhile, saw candidates do better with Latinos – even flipping two South Florida congressional seats – and want to build on that success. While a majority of Americans eligible to vote said they were contacted by a campaign or a group supporting a campaign in the month before the November election, fewer Latino and Asian American citizens reported such contacts.
Colorado’s Boebert Discloses Husband’s Work for Energy Firm
Federal News Network – Nicholas Riccardi (Associated Press) | Published: 8/18/2021
U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert’s husband made $478,000 last year working as a consultant for an energy firm, information that was not disclosed during Boebert’s congressional campaign and only reported in her financial disclosure forms filed recently. Rep. Boebert reported her husband, Jayson Boebert, received the money as a consultant to Terra Energy Productions in 2020, and earned $460,000 as a consultant for the firm in 2019. Ethics and campaign finance laws require candidates and members of Congress to disclose sources of their immediate family’s income, along with major investments and assets.
DeJoy Bought Up to $305,000 in Bonds from USPS Board Chair’s Investment Firm
MSN – Jacob Bogage and Douglas MacMillan (Washington Post) | Published: 8/14/2021
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy purchased up to $305,000 in bonds from an investment firm whose managing partner, Ron Bloom, also chairs the U.S. Postal Service’s governing board, the independent body responsible for evaluating DeJoy’s performance. DeJoy’s financial adviser purchased the bonds on the open market, Postal Service spokesperson Jeffrey Adams said, and Bloom manages a division separate from the one that sells public securities. Two ethics experts disagreed over whether the bond purchases could cause conflict-of-interest issues in the agency’s top ranks.
Election Officials Call for Audit Guidelines After Trump-Fueled Surge
Yahoo News – Zach Montellaro (Politico) | Published: 8/17/2021
The nation’s top election officials are calling for more stringent guidelines for post-election audits, as supporters of former President Trump continue to relitigate his defeat in 2020. At the summer meeting of the National Association of Secretaries of State, members approved a series of recommendations for post-election audits on everything from a timeline to chain of custody of election materials. Trump has pushed his supporters to export the audit in Maricopa County, Arizona, to other states. Republican lawmakers in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have tried to launch their own, but so far neither have made similar sort of progress as in Arizona.
House Revises Voting Rights Bill to Boost Justice Department Powers to Challenge States
MSN – Michael Macagnone (Roll Call) | Published: 8/17/2021
House Democrats introduced the latest version of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, intent on beefing up a civil rights-era law cut back by a series of U.S. Supreme Court decisions. The effort still faces significant Republican opposition and the prospects of a filibuster in the Senate. The bill comes after a series of House committee hearings over the past several months to establish a legislative record for modern efforts to suppress minority groups’ voting power.
Inspector General Urges Ethics Review at Federal Election Commission Following ProPublica Report
MSN – Jake Pearson (ProPublica) | Published: 8/12/2021
The FEC’s inspector general called on the agency to review its ethics policies and internal controls after a media investigation last year revealed a senior manager openly supported Donald Trump and maintained a close relationship with a Republican attorney who went on to serve as the 2016 Trump campaign’s top lawyer. It raised questions about the impartiality of the official, Debbie Chacona, who oversees the unit responsible for keeping unlawful contributions out of political campaigns. The division’s staffers are supposed to adhere to an ethics code and forgo any public partisan activities because such actions could imply preferential treatment for a candidate or party.
Pelosi Announces House Staffers Can Now Earn Higher Salaries Than Lawmakers
MSN – Cristina Marcos (The Hill) | Published: 8/13/2021
Some U.S. House staff will now be able to earn higher salaries than the members of Congress for whom they work under a new order announced by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to help retain top talent on Capitol Hill. Staff salaries have remained stagnant for more than a decade thanks to the lawmaker pay freeze that has been in place since 2009, leading many people to leave Capitol Hill for higher-paying jobs at lobbying groups or in the executive branch. But under the new policy unveiled by Pelosi, the salary cap for House staffers will be $199,300, up from the maximum salary of $173,900 in 2020 for both the House and Senate.
State Redistricting Can Start with New Census Data, but Litigation Looms
MSN – Michael Macagnone (Roll Call) | Published: 8/12/2021
The Census Bureau kicked off a shortened redistricting season with the release of detailed mapmaking data from last year’s count, as most states across the country scramble to finish their maps in time for next year’s midterm elections. A handful of states, including Ohio and Colorado, face redistricting deadlines before the end of September. Others, like Texas, will have to draw their maps in a special legislative session. Democratic-aligned groups in Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Louisiana have sued over the process. The parties have split control over state government in each of those states, making a deadlock over new maps likely.
Canada – Canada’s Trudeau Calls Snap Election in Bid to Regain Parliamentary Majority
MSN – Amanda Coletta (Washington Post) | Published: 8/15/2021
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, betting his standing has been improved by his government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic while his main opponent has failed to gain traction with voters, called a snap federal election for September 20 in a bid to regain a majority in the House of Commons. Opposition party leaders decried the decision to hold an election at a time when public health officials have said the country is in a delta variant-fueled fourth coronavirus wave. Most cases are among those who are unvaccinated.
From the States and Municipalities
Alaska – Alaska Lawmaker Critical of State Move in Campaign Caps Case
MSN – Becky Bohrer (Associated Press) | Published: 8/18/2021
The decision to not seek further legal review of a split court ruling that struck down several campaign contribution caps in Alaska was criticized by a state lawmaker who said the state should have pressed forward with a legal fight. The dissent in the case was strong, said Sen. Bill Wielechowski. He said Gov. Mike Dunleavy has an obligation to defend the laws of the state. A divided federal appeals court panel struck down a $500-a-year limit on what an individual can give a candidate, a $500-a-year cap on individual contributions to non-party groups and a $3,000-a-year limit on total nonresident donations a candidate for office like state House can raise.
Alaska – Mayor Bronson Replaces Head of Solid Waste Services with Father of Former Campaign Manager
Yahoo News – Emily GoodyKoontz (Anchorage Daily News) | Published: 8/18/2021
Dan Zipay, a longtime player in Anchorage’s trash-hauling industry and the father of Mayor Dave Bronson’s former campaign manager, will be the new head of the city’s garbage collection agency. Zipay is a part-owner of Denali Disposal, a private trash collection company, which is run by his daughter, Bernadette Wilson, who was also Bronson’s campaign chairperson. Anchorage Assemblyperson Chris Constant said he has a “a lot of questions” about Dan Zipay’s appointment and potential conflicts-of-interest, including if the city were to privatize Solid Waste Services.
Arkansas – Hung Jury on All but One Count in Gilbert Baker Corruption Trial
KUAR – Debra Hale-Shelton (Arkansas Nonprofit News Network) | Published: 8/12/2021
A federal jury acquitted former lobbyist and political fundraiser Gilbert Baker of conspiracy but failed to reach a verdict on eight other charges, including one count of bribery and seven of wire fraud. In the indictment and trial, prosecutors argued Baker was the middleman in an alleged plot in 2013 to bribe former Faulkner County Circuit Court Judge Mike Maggio on behalf of Michael Morton, a wealthy nursing home owner and campaign financier. Maggio, who testified for the prosecution, pleaded guilty to bribery in 2015 and is serving a 10-year prison sentence. Morton has not been charged and denies wrongdoing.
California – El Monte Council Removes Colleague’s Title, Extra Duties Following Lobbyist Gift Scandal
San Gabriel Valley Tribune – Jason Henry | Published: 8/13/2021
The El Monte City Council removed Vicky Martinez Muela from her position as mayor pro tem and revoked her membership in outside commissions in response to allegations she accepted thousands of dollars in gifts from a lobbyist, including a partial payment for a breast augmentation surgery. Under state law, local government officials are prohibited from receiving gifts over $520 as of January 2021. Martinez Muela did not report any of the gifts from Lopez on her annual economic disclosures, though she had previously reported meals as low as $15 in the past.
California – Federal Lawsuit Challenges California Recall as Unconstitutional
Politico – Jeremy White and Debra Kahn | Published: 8/12/2021
Two California voters are challenging the legality of the state’s recall system less than a month before Election Day, echoing concerns from constitutional scholars as Gov. Gavin Newsom fights for his political life. A complaint argues the state’s recall provision violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution by allowing sitting governors to be replaced by candidates who have received fewer votes. The plaintiffs want a court order either prohibiting the recall election or adding Newsom’s name to the replacement candidate list.
Colorado – Colorado Republican Official Accused After Voting System Passwords Are Leaked to Right-Wing Site
MSN – Kim Bellware (Washington Post) | Published: 8/13/2021
A bizarre security breach of a rural Colorado county’s voting system has escalated into a criminal probe of the clerk’s office, a ban on the county’s existing election equipment, and heightened partisan divides over election-fraud claims. Footage that showed passwords related to the county’s voting systems was surreptitiously recorded during a May security update and published recently on a far-right blog. Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold determined Mesa County cannot use its existing equipment for its November election.
Florida – Donations to Fried, Crist Campaigns Linked to Dark Money Group in Election Fraud Case
Florida Daily Tribune – Samantha Gross and Bianca Padró Ocasio (Miami Herald) | Published: 8/18/2021
A “dark-money” donor at the center of a public corruption investigation into the 2020 election cycle helped back three groups that recently contributed to 2022 Democratic candidates for governor, including Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist. Urban Action Fund and Democratic Action Network PC, and Democratic Services Network received a total of $85,500 from Grow United Inc. last October. Grow United, which does not disclose its money sources, paid for more than $500,000 in misleading mailers targeting Democrats in three key state Senate races in 2020.
Florida – Florida Gov. DeSantis Promotes Regeneron, a COVID-19 Treatment Connected to One of His Largest Donors
MSN – Zac Anderson, Michael Kennedy, and Jeffrey Schweers (Sarasota Herald Tribune) | Published: 8/18/2021
Gov. Ron DeSantis has zeroed in on monoclonal antibody therapy as a lifeline for COVID-19 patients, holding press conferences around the state where he name-checks a specific drugmaker, Regeneron, which is a major investment for one of his largest campaign contributors. As DeSantis ramps up his reelection bid, the largest donation to his political committee this cycle is a $5 million contribution from Kenneth Griffin, the chief executive of hedge fund Citadel, which owns $15.9 million shares in Regeneron. Griffin also gave DeSantis $5.75 million in 2018, during his run for governor.
Florida – How Florida Condo Associations Wielded Political Power Before the Surfside Collapse
MSN – Jon Schuppe (NBC News) | Published: 8/12/2021
Florida, where millions of homes are vulnerable to hurricanes, rising seas, and saltwater corrosion, has some of the country’s strictest regulations for high-rise condominiums. But the collapse of a 12-story condo tower in Surfside has drawn fresh attention to loopholes that allow condo associations to delay inspections, renovations, and compliance with directives they say are too expensive or burdensome. Veteran lobbyists hold outsize sway over part-time lawmakers constrained by term limits and a 60-day window each year to decide which among hundreds of bills should become law.
Florida – Jurors Convict Prominent Tallahassee Businessman J.T. Burnette on Public Corruption Charges
Tallahassee Democrat – Jeff Burlew | Published: 8/12/2021
J.T. Burnette, one of Tallahassee’s leading businesspeople whose formula for success included dangling money in front of local politicians and officials, was convicted on a host of public corruption charges. Burnette is the third major player to go down as part of the FBI’s “Operation Capital Currency,” a two-year undercover investigation into “pay-to-play” in Tallahassee. Former mayor and city commissioner Scott Maddox, along with his girlfriend and longtime business partner, Paige Carter-Smith, pleaded guilty in 2019.
Georgia – Potential G.O.P. Takeover of Atlanta-Area Election Board Inches Forward
New York Times – Nick Corasaniti | Published: 8/18/2021
The Georgia State Election Board appointed a majority-Republican panel to review the performance of the Fulton County board of elections, another step toward a potential Republican takeover of the election system in the biggest Democratic county in the state. The moves surrounding the Fulton County board have come as Republican-controlled Legislatures across the country angle for greater power over election administration, often seeking to strip it from election officials and give it to partisan lawmakers.
Illinois – Ontario PC Fundraising Letters Labelled ‘Invoice’ Blasted as a ‘Scam’ as Calls Mount for Investigation
CBC – John Rieti and Karina Zapata | Published: 8/18/2021
An Ontario woman says she was incensed after receiving a fundraising letter from the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario that looks like an invoice, something opposition parties are already criticizing as a “scam.” Part of the letter is labelled “invoice” and looks like a bill to be sent to the Ontario PCs in Toronto. The only line item says, “Election Readiness Fund” and lists a total of $300, then lower down the page states there is a “balance due.” The word donation does appear, but only at the bottom of the page. The Ontario Liberal party called for an investigation by Elections Ontario and the anti-fraud branch of the Ontario Provincial Police.
Iowa – Gov. Kim Reynolds Didn’t Violate Iowa’s Self-Promotion Law with COVID Mask Ads, Board Finds
MSN – Stephen Gruber-Miller (Des Moines Register) | Published: 8/13/2021
The Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board found Gov. Kim Reynolds did not violate the state’s ban on using taxpayer funds for self-promotion when she appeared in advertisements last year encouraging Iowans to wear masks during the COVID-19 pandemic. The “Step Up, Stop the Spread” advertisements, which featured Reynolds sitting in her formal office with her name and title onscreen, used about $150,000 of federal stimulus funds. State Auditor Rob Sand’s complaint said using those funds violate the law, which prohibits using taxpayer money for self-promotion.
Iowa – No Evidence That National Conservative Group Heritage Action Lobbied for Iowa Election Law, Ethics Board Says
MSN – Stephen Gruber-Miller (Des Moines Register) | Published: 8/13/2021
The Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board said it found no evidence a national conservative organization illegally lobbied the state Legislature for a law that cut the amount of time residents have to vote. The board opened an investigation into Heritage Action after video surfaced of the group’s executive director, Jessica Anderson, claiming credit for writing parts of the bill. Lobbyists in Iowa must register with the House and Senate and list specific bills they intend to influence.
Kansas – After Resignation, Michael O’Donnell Asked Sedgwick County for Money for New Employer
MSN – Chance Swaim (Wichita Eagle) | Published: 8/17/2021
The Sedgwick County Commission delayed a $36,000 payment to Mayflower Clinic after the nonprofit’s founder failed to disclose the involvement of former county Commissioner Michael O’Donnell, who resigned amid scandal and is now the clinic’s executive director. In 2018, O’Donnell was indicted and later acquitted on federal charges of money laundering for paying friends out of his campaign account. He admitted the payments violated state law and agreed to pay a $12,500 fine to the state ethics commission.
New Mexico – City Investigation Supports Allegations Against Gonzales’ Campaign
Albuquerque Journal – Olivier Uyttebrouck | Published: 8/16/2021
An investigation by Albuquerque’s inspector general has found Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales’ mayoral campaign cut corners in its quest for more than $600,000 in public financing. The report substantiated allegations made against Gonzales’ campaign, including that it submitted a substantial number of qualifying contributions for which voters neither signed the receipt nor paid the required five-dollar contribution. In so doing, the campaign violated city laws that spell out what candidates must do to tap into public financing.
New York – #MeToo Take 2? Movement’s Strength Hailed Amid Cuomo Fallout
MSN – Jocelyn Noveck (Associated Press) | Published: 8/12/2021
A number of leading figures connected with #MeToo say the movement, launched in 2017 with revelations about Harvey Weinstein, reached a significant milestone with the resignation of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, regardless of fits and starts along the way. To attorney Debra Katz, who has represented women accusing powerful men of sexual misconduct for four decades, said the Cuomo resignation would never have happened before #MeToo. She noted the domino effect of one accuser coming out and then others emerging, inspired by the courage of fellow accusers and enraged by attempts to discredit them.
New York – Cuomo Fallout? Two Ex-Governor’s Aides Leave Kivvit Consulting
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 8/16/2021
The apparent fallout is continuing for former aides to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo who became involved in the controversies that enveloped the governor. Former Cuomo chief of staff Joshua Vlasto and ex-communications director Richard Bamberger abruptly left the consulting firm Kivvit, whose managing partner is another high-ranking Cuomo aide, Maggie Moran. While Moran was not mentioned in a scathing report issued by the state attorney general’s office that detailed Cuomo’s alleged harassment of multiple women as well his office’s response to the allegations, Vlasto and Bamberger were both discussed.
New York – Cuomo-Appointed Ethics Chair Resigns
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 8/13/2021
The chairperson of the New York the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE), Camille Joseph Varlack, submitted her resignation. While the timing might suggest Varlack’s departure is tied to Gov. Andrew Cuomo stepping down – Varlack was appointed as chair by Cuomo in February – the resignation had apparently been in the works for some time. The resignation comes at a time of tumult for JCOPE and state government generally, and with one commissioner trying to void the prior approval of Cuomo’s $5.1 million book deal last year.
New York – Firm Denies Lobbying Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul for Husband’s Company
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 8/12/2021
Kathy Hochul, scheduled to become governor of New York on August 24, is already facing questions about whether her position running the state, and her husband’s job, present a conflict-of-interest. Disclosure filings from last year that say Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul was lobbied at least twice by a firm representing Delaware North Companies contained incorrect information, the firm maintained. Delaware North Companies is a major food, hospitality, and gaming company where Hochul’s husband, William Hochul, has been a high-ranking official since 2016.
New York – Kushner Friend Ken Kurson Charged in N.Y. Eavesdropping Case After Trump Pardon
MSN – Shayna Jacobs (Washington Post) | Published: 8/18/2021
Ken Kurson, a close friend of former President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, was charged in a state eavesdropping and computer-trespass case in New York months after receiving a federal pardon while facing similar harassment allegations. The former New York Observer editor’s arrest marks what is likely the first instance of a local prosecutor pursuing state-level charges against a person after that individual was given a pass by Trump for the same alleged conduct that federal authorities had pursued. A president’s clemency grants apply only in federal cases.
North Carolina – Got $10,000? You Can Watch a Football Game with NC Lawmakers.
WRAL – Travis Fain | Published: 8/16/2021
A group with ties to Republican lawmakers sent out fundraiser invitations, asking for donations up to $10,000 to mingle with half a dozen North Carolina. lawmakers at college football game. Greater Carolina is a 501(c)(4), one of several “dark money” groups that can raise unlimited cash without identifying donors. It sent invites to lobbyists and others in the General Assembly orbit, inviting them to the September 2 game between East Carolina University and Appalachian State, which will be played in Charlotte.
North Carolina – No Prison Time for NC Politician Who Took Almost $400,000 from Donors for Personal Use
MSN – Will Doran (Raleigh News and Observer) | Published: 8/17/2021
After admitting to financial crimes like not paying taxes, as part of a scheme to take hundreds of thousands of dollars from his political supporters for his own personal use, a powerful North Carolina politician will avoid prison. Prosecutors say former state Rep. David Lewis will have to pay a $1,000 fine and avoid getting in trouble again for the next two years. He could have faced up to 30 years in prison if he had gone to trial and lost. Federal prosecutors had agreed not to seek any prison time against Lewis in exchange for his guilty plea and repayment of the $365,000 he took.
North Carolina – Two Coronavirus Cases Known at NC Legislature as Rumors Stir Worry
WRAL – Travis Fain | Published: 8/16/2021
There were two confirmed cases of coronavirus at the North Carolina Legislature in the past week and an additional negative test. Some Democratic House members expressed concern, as did some lobbyists who heard about a Senate staff case through the grapevine. One House Democrat said they were worried about coming to the Legislative Building. Most state lawmakers, and particularly Republicans, did not when asked recently whether they were vaccinated. Some Republican members traveled to Utah for the annual American Legislative Exchange Council meeting, a gathering of conservative lawmakers from around the country.
North Carolina – Utilities Commission Makes It Tougher for Companies to Charge Political Expenditures to Ratepayers
NC Policy Watch – Lisa Sorg | Published: 8/16/2021
A ruling by the North Carolina Utilities Commission will hinder public utilities from passing along lobbying and advertising expenses to ratepayers. This “discretionary spending” includes advertising that appears on social media, as well as promotional materials that serve only to burnish a utility’s image, compete with other utilities for customers, and are unrelated to providing service to the public. Utilities must also keep detailed lobbying records involving conversations with the executive branch of state government. Other expenses, such as political advertising and lobbying, must be covered by company shareholders.
Ohio – County Coroners’ Multiple Side Jobs Raise Concerns
MSN – Josh Swigert (Dayton Daily News) | Published: 8/15/2021
The elected coroners of Montgomery, Warren, and Clark counties in Ohio all had side jobs last year for other counties their offices also do business with, raising concerns about potential conflicts-of-interest. Payroll data and financial disclosure forms coroners file with the Ohio Ethics Commission show some elected coroners also do private work in addition to their multiple government jobs. The coroners said these arrangements happen because of a lack of forensic pathologists and places that can do autopsies. Warren County Coroner Russell Uptegrove’s multiple publicly funded jobs paid him more than $600,000 last year.
Rhode Island – Ethics Commission Finds Probable Cause of Violation by Former Warwick Official
MSN – Edward Fitzpatrick (Boston Globe) | Published: 8/17/2021
The Rhode Island Ethics Commission found probable cause to believe former Warwick City Council President Steven Merolla violated the ethics code by approving $195,000 in payments to an accounting firm whose partners included his campaign treasurer and personal accountant. Merolla not only voted for the increases of $30,000 and $165,000 in a city contract with the accounting firm YKSM, he also signed five invoices for the firm and hounded administration officials when they balked at making the payments, according to a commission report.
South Carolina – South Carolina Politicians Blow Off Their Ethics Fines with Few Consequences
Charleston Post and Courier – Avery Wilks and Joseph Cranney | Published: 8/14/2021
Dozens of public officials across South Carolina disregard fines they owe to the state Ethics Commission, allowing their debts to accrue with little or no consequences. Nearly $2.9 million is owed by 370 politicians, local officials, and others. A media investigation identified at least 50 individuals with more than $250,000 in outstanding debts who currently hold office. Nothing in South Carolina law prevents these debtors from continuing to hold or seek office. Scores of them have won re-election while stiff-arming the state’s ethics watchdog, a strapped agency with little authority to collect on its fines.
Texas – ‘It’s the Height of Hypocrisy’: After Texas Gov. Greg Abbott contracts covid-19, Democrats ramp up calls for mask mandates
MSN – Shayna Jacobs and Eva Ruth Moravec (Washington Post) | Published: 8/18/2021
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who has been vaccinated, tested positive for the coronavirus recently. Abbott is among the Republican governors who have resisted public health mandates aimed at stemming the tide of the virus’s delta variant. Videos and photos posted by Abbott’s gubernatorial campaign show him delivering remarks and mingling with a mask-less crowd of more than 100 people indoors at an event when he may have been contagious. Abbott’s escalating efforts to stop mask mandates have ended up in the Texas courts.
Texas – Texas Supreme Court Says House Democrats Can Be Arrested and Brought to the Capitol, Siding with Republicans Trying to Secure a Quorum
Texas Tribune – Joshua Fechner | Published: 8/17/2021
Texas House Democrats who refuse to show up to the state Capitol in their bid to prevent Republican lawmakers from passing a voting restrictions bill can be arrested and brought to the lower chamber, the state Supreme Court ruled. The all-Republican court sided with Gov. Greg Abbott and ordered a Travis County District Court judge to revoke his temporary restraining order blocking the civil arrest of Democratic lawmakers whose absences have denied the chamber the number of present members needed to move any legislation.
Virginia – Citizens Who Want Money Out of Va. Politics Release New Report Urging Changes
The Daily Progress – Patrick Wilson (Richmond Times-Dispatch) | Published: 8/18/2021
After listening to lawmakers and studying other states, a citizen group that wants money out of Virginia politics issued a report it says can be a blueprint for the General Assembly to improve the state’s permissive campaign finance structure. Virginia is one of few states without a limit on campaign donations. Among the recommendations by MoneyOutVA are enhanced disclosures, regular auditing of campaign funding, and creating guidelines for complaints. The report endorses public financing of elections.
August 19, 2021 •
Campaign Finance Florida: “Donations to Fried, Crist Campaigns Linked to Dark Money Group in Election Fraud Case” by Samantha Gross and Bianca Padró Ocasio (Miami Herald) for Florida Daily Tribune North Carolina: “No Prison Time for NC Politician Who Took […]
Florida: “Donations to Fried, Crist Campaigns Linked to Dark Money Group in Election Fraud Case” by Samantha Gross and Bianca Padró Ocasio (Miami Herald) for Florida Daily Tribune
North Carolina: “No Prison Time for NC Politician Who Took Almost $400,000 from Donors for Personal Use” by Will Doran (Raleigh News and Observer) for MSN
North Carolina: “Got $10,000? You Can Watch a Football Game with NC Lawmakers.” by Travis Fain for WRAL
National: “Election Officials Call for Audit Guidelines After Trump-Fueled Surge” by Zach Montellaro (Politico) for Yahoo News
Alaska: “Mayor Bronson Replaces Head of Solid Waste Services with Father of Former Campaign Manager” by Emily GoodyKoontz for Anchorage Daily News
Kansas: “After Resignation, Michael O’Donnell Asked Sedgwick County for Money for New Employer” by Chance Swaim (Wichita Eagle) for MSN
Rhode Island: “Ethics Commission Finds Probable Cause of Violation by Former Warwick Official” by Edward Fitzpatrick (Boston Globe) for MSN
Texas: “Texas Supreme Court Says House Democrats Can Be Arrested and Brought to the Capitol, Siding with Republicans Trying to Secure a Quorum” by Joshua Fechner for Texas Tribune
August 18, 2021 •
Campaign Finance New Mexico: “City Investigation Supports Allegations Against Gonzales’ Campaign” by Olivier Uyttebrouck for Albuquerque Journal Elections National: “House Revises Voting Rights Bill to Boost Justice Department Powers to Challenge States” by Michael Macagnone for Roll Call California: “Federal […]
New Mexico: “City Investigation Supports Allegations Against Gonzales’ Campaign” by Olivier Uyttebrouck for Albuquerque Journal
National: “House Revises Voting Rights Bill to Boost Justice Department Powers to Challenge States” by Michael Macagnone for Roll Call
California: “Federal Lawsuit Challenges California Recall as Unconstitutional” by Jeremy White and Debra Kahn for Politico
New York: “Cuomo Fallout? Two Ex-Governor’s Aides Leave Kivvit Consulting” by Chris Bragg for Albany Times Union
North Carolina: “Utilities Commission Makes It Tougher for Companies to Charge Political Expenditures to Ratepayers” by Lisa Sorg for NC Policy Watch
Texas: “Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Who Has Sought to Ban Mask Mandates in Schools, Tests Positive for the Coronavirus” by Felicia Sonmez (Washington Post) for MSN
North Carolina: “Two Coronavirus Cases Known at NC Legislature as Rumors Stir Worry” by Travis Fain for WRAL
New York: “Firm Denies Lobbying Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul for Husband’s Company” by Chris Bragg for Albany Times Union
August 17, 2021 •
Elections Canada: “Canada’s Trudeau Calls Snap Election in Bid to Regain Parliamentary Majority” by Amanda Coletta (Washington Post) for MSN Ethics Arkansas: “Hung Jury on All but One Count in Gilbert Baker Corruption Trial” by Debra Hale-Shelton (Arkansas Nonprofit News […]
Canada: “Canada’s Trudeau Calls Snap Election in Bid to Regain Parliamentary Majority” by Amanda Coletta (Washington Post) for MSN
Arkansas: “Hung Jury on All but One Count in Gilbert Baker Corruption Trial” by Debra Hale-Shelton (Arkansas Nonprofit News Network) for KUAR
Florida: “Jurors Convict Prominent Tallahassee Businessman J.T. Burnette on Public Corruption Charges” by Jeff Burlew for Tallahassee Democrat
New York: “Cuomo-Appointed Ethics Chair Resigns” by Chris Bragg for Albany Times Union
Ohio: “County Coroners’ Multiple Side Jobs Raise Concerns” by Josh Swigert (Dayton Daily News) for MSN
National: “Pelosi Announces House Staffers Can Now Earn Higher Salaries Than Lawmakers” by Cristina Marcos (The Hill) for MSN
Florida: “How Florida Condo Associations Wielded Political Power Before the Surfside Collapse” by Jon Schuppe (NBC News) for MSN
Iowa: “No Evidence That National Conservative Group Heritage Action Lobbied for Iowa Election Law, Ethics Board Says” by Stephen Gruber-Miller (Des Moines Register) for MSN
August 13, 2021 •
National/Federal DeJoy Maintains Financial Ties to Former Company as USPS Awards It New $120 Million Contract MSN – Jacob Bogage (Washington Post) | Published: 8/6/2021 The U.S. Postal Service will pay $120 million over the next five years to a major […]
DeJoy Maintains Financial Ties to Former Company as USPS Awards It New $120 Million Contract
MSN – Jacob Bogage (Washington Post) | Published: 8/6/2021
The U.S. Postal Service will pay $120 million over the next five years to a major logistics contractor that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy previously helped lead and with which his family maintains financial ties. The new contract will deepen the Postal Service’s relationship with XPO Logistics, where DeJoy served as supply chain chief executive after the company purchased New Breed Logistics, the trucking firm he owned for more than 30 years. Since he became postmaster general, DeJoy has divested between $65.4 million and $155.3 million worth of XPO shares. But DeJoy’s family businesses continue to lease four North Carolina office buildings to XPO.
Dominion Lodges Suits Against OAN, Newsmax, Ex-Overstock CEO
MSN – Nick Niedzwiadek (Politico) | Published: 8/10/2021
Dominion Voting Systems opened another front in its battle against right-wing attacks on the integrity of its technology, filing lawsuits against two conservative media outlets and former Overstock.com Chief Executive Officer Patrick Byrne. Dominion accused Byrne, Newsmax, and One America News Network of making defamatory claims against the company and spreading baseless allegations that its machines were used to rig the election for Joe Biden. Dominion alleges the companies went outside of protected First Amendment activities by giving a platform to false claims about the company and showing little concern for the truth.
Dominion’s Lawsuits Against Trump Allies Can Move Forward After Judge Rejects Arguments
MSN – Lateshia Beachum and Maria Luisa Paul (Washington Post) | Published: 8/11/2021
A federal judge denied requests by former President Trump’s allies to throw out more than $3 billion in defamation lawsuits over false claims that a voting machine company’s technology was used to rig the 2020 election. The ruling allows lawsuits by Dominion Voting Systems against former Trump attorneys Sidney Powell and Rudolph Giuliani, as well as MyPillow chief executive Mike Lindell, to move forward. U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols said Powell and Lindell made their claims “knowing that they were false or with reckless disregard for the truth.”
Frustration and Persistence for Activists on the 56th Anniversary of the Voting Rights
MSN – Vanessa Williams (Washington Post) | Published: 8/6/2021
The 1965 Voting Rights Act is considered the most significant achievement of the civil rights movement because it removed Jim Crow-era laws that blocked the vast majority of Black people from voting, especially in the South. But a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2013, and another this year, weakened the landmark law, while Republican-controlled Legislatures passed new voting restrictions advocates say target people of color, as well as young and working-class people. Activists are exasperated that members of Congress and President Biden have not been able to push through federal legislation that would supersede the voting laws moving through state Legislatures across the country.
GOP Congressman Suing Pelosi Over Mask Mandate Contracts Coronavirus
MSN – Amy Wang (Washington Post) | Published: 8/5/2021
U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman, one of three Republican members of Congress who filed a lawsuit against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the chamber’s mask mandate, tested positive for the coronavirus. Pelosi kept in place the mask mandate after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its guidance to say fully vaccinated people most likely did not have to wear masks, sparking a backlash among House Republicans, who accused Pelosi of wanting simply to “control” the chamber.
House Democrats Granted Limited Access to Trump Financial Records
MSN – Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) | Published: 8/11/2021
House Democrats investigating former President Trump can have access to his personal financial records from 2017 and 2018, a federal judge ruled, as well as information related to his lease of a building near the White House. The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that courts must take separation of powers concerns into account when members of Congress want personal information from the president. Because of Congress’s role in overseeing the president’s foreign business interests, release of the records from 2017 and 2018 is justified, said U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta.
Judge Suggests Feds Are Too Lenient Toward Jan. 6 Defendants
Yahoo News – Josh Gerstein (Politico) | Published: 8/9/2021
Chief U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell suggested federal prosecutors were being too lenient in their handling of cases stemming from the storming of the Capitol as lawmakers were convening on January 6 to certify Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential race. Howell raised questions about why some defendants were being permitted to resolve their criminal cases by pleading guilty to a misdemeanor and why the amount of money prosecutors are seeking to recover through those plea deals was based on a relatively paltry estimate of about $1.5 million in damages caused by the rioters.
Rand Paul Discloses 16 Months Late That His Wife Bought Stock in Company Behind Covid Treatment
Seattle Times – Isaac Stanley-Becker (Washington Post) | Published: 8/11/2021
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul revealed his wife bought stock in Gilead Sciences, which makes an antiviral drug used to treat COVID-19, in February 2020, before it was classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organization. The disclosure came 16 months after the 45-day reporting deadline set forth in the Stock Act, which is designed to combat insider trading. The investment, especially the delayed reporting of it, alarmed experts in corporate and securities law, who said it raised questions about whether Paul’s family profited from nonpublic information about the looming health emergency and plans by the U.S. government to combat it.
Republicans Risk Becoming Face of Delta Surge as Key GOP Governors Oppose Anti-Covid Measures
MSN – Felicia Sonmez and Hannah Knowles (Washington Post) | Published: 8/11/2021
Three governors frequently mentioned as potential presidential candidates in 2024 – Greg Abbott in Texas, Florida’s Ron DeSantis, and South Dakota’s Kristi Noem – are at the vanguard of Republican resistance to public-health mandates aimed at stemming the tide of the delta variant, which has caused a new spike in coronavirus cases. They and other national and local GOP officials cast their opposition to such measures as an effort to protect personal choice. But some fear the party is on track to make itself the face of the delta variant, endangering fellow Americans while also risking political damage in the long term.
Secret IRS Files Reveal How Much the Ultrawealthy Gained by Shaping Trump’s ‘Big, Beautiful Tax Cut’
Talking Points Memo – Justin Elliot and Robert Faturechi (ProPublica) | Published: 8/11/2021
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was the biggest rewrite of the tax code in decades. Crafted largely in secret by a handful of Trump administration officials and members of Congress, the bill was rushed through the legislative process. As draft language of the bill made its way through Congress, lawmakers friendly to billionaires and their lobbyists were able to stretch the bill to accommodate a variety of special groups. In the first year after Trump signed the bill, just 82 ultrawealthy households collectively walked away with more than $1 billion in total tax savings.
Watchdog Sues FEC for Closing Investigation into Rick Scott, Allied Super PAC
MSN – Karl Evers-Hillstrom (The Hill) | Published: 8/9/2021
A watchdog group sued the FEC for dismissing a complaint alleging U.S. Sen. Rick Scott unlawfully used a super PAC to support his 2018 Senate run. The Campaign Legal Center challenged the decision by Republican commissioners to close an investigation into Scott against the recommendation of the agency’s nonpartisan lawyers. End Citizens United had alleged Scott and the New Republican PAC, a group he formerly chaired, violated election laws prohibiting coordination between candidates and outside groups.
‘We Are in Harm’s Way’: Election officials fear for their personal safety amid torrent of false claims about voting
MSN – Tom Hamburger, Rosalind Helderman, and Amy Gardner (Washington Post) | Published: 8/11/2021
Nine months after the 2020 election, local officials across the country are coping with an ongoing barrage of criticism and personal attacks that many fear could lead to an exodus of veteran election administrators before the next presidential race. As former President Trump continues to promote the false notion that the 2020 White House race was tainted by fraud, there is mounting evidence his attacks are curdling the faith many Americans once had in their elections and taking a deep toll on the public servants who work to protect the vote.
What Rosen Told U.S. Senators: Trump applied ‘persistent’ pressure to get Justice to discredit election
MSN – Ann Marimow and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 8/12/2021
Former President Trump’s last attorney general told U.S. senators his boss was “persistent” in trying to pressure the Justice Department to discredit the results of the 2020 election. In closed-door testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Jeffrey Rosen said he had to “persuade the president not to pursue a different path” at a high-stakes January meeting in which Trump considered ousting Rosen as the nation’s most powerful law enforcement officer. The testimony is part of a trough of information that congressional investigators are assembling about Trump’s efforts to reverse his defeat and use the Justice Department to stay in office.
Canada – Lobbyist Jack Stirling Sent to Penalty Box for a Month in the Wake of Jan Harder Integrity Case
Ottawa Citizen – Jon Willing | Published: 8/5/2021
Jack Stirling and his company, The Stirling Group, was banned from lobbying in Ottawa for 30 days. Stirling acknowledged he provided free services to a council member between November 2019 and February 2020, while he was registered as a lobbyist at City Hall. At the time, he had three active lobbying files with the city. Under the lobbyist code of conduct, a lobbyist with active files cannot offer gifts or benefits to council members or their staff.
From the States and Municipalities
Alaska – State Fines Anchorage Mayor Bronson $33,500 for Campaign Finance Violations
Yahoo News – Emily GoodyKoontz (Anchorage Daily News) | Published: 8/9/2021
The Alaska Public Offices Commission fined the campaign of Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson a total of $33,500 for failing to report financial contributions to the campaign on time. State rules dictate that during the nine days before an election, candidates must disclose contributions that are more than $250 in a 24-hour report. The fine is in addition to a $26,500 penalty recommended by APOC staff against Bronson in July for multiple violations.
Arizona – Arizona State Sen. Tony Navarrete Resigns Seat After Arrest in Child Sex Abuse Case
MSN – Mary Joe Pitzl (Arizona Republic) | Published: 8/10/2021
After days of pleas for him to step down in the wake of an arrest on allegations of child sexual abuse, Tony Navarrete resigned his Arizona Senate seat but issued a separate statement vowing to prove his innocence. His employer, the faith-based Neighborhood Ministries, put Navarrete on leave and said he will be terminated. The arrest came after a 16-year-old boy went to Phoenix police with allegations of abuse dating from 2019. The probable cause statement also alleged Navarrete attempted sexual conduct with a 13-year-old boy.
Arizona – Business Consultants Offer to Buy Ghostwritten Op-Eds Pressuring Arizona Senators
Radiofree.org – Lee Fang (The Intercept) | Published: 8/10/2021
Public relations experts working for a mysterious client have been preparing ghostwritten opinion columns set to run in Arizona newspapers. The columns warn U.S. Sens. Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema to oppose civil litigation reform legislation designed to prevent Americans from being forced into binding arbitration. If enacted, the legislation would ensure consumers’ and employees’ rights to pursue civil litigation against corporations. But the consultants could not find local residents to author the columns. Instead, they are offering as much as $2,000 to help identify “normal, everyday” people willing to sign their names to pre-written arguments.
California – Hockey Arena’s Developers Donated $60,000 to Perez After Project Won County Approval
MSN – Tom Coulter (Palm Springs Desert Sun) | Published: 8/9/2021
A month after Riverside County supervisors approved a $250 million project to build a hockey arena, the cohort spearheading the plans gave the maximum campaign contribution to Supervisor V. Manuel Perez, whose district encompasses the project. Perez was the only supervisor on the five-member board to receive donations from the developers in recent months. Other groups with ties to the arena project also have donated to Perez.
California – Water Authority’s Confidential Consultant Contracts Surprised Board
Voice of San Diego – MacKenzie Elmer | Published: 8/4/2021
The San Diego County Water Authority is building a team of consultants but will not explain the work they are doing. The authority spent $167,000 on two consultant contracts since July 2019 without disclosing them to the board, which is composed of representatives from the region’s 24 water agencies. It also will not say what a third contract that was approved by the board, worth more than $330,000, was for. A rule allows the general manager to execute contracts below $150,000 without board approval. One board member argued a consultant was lobbying against her water district’s interests.
Florida – Dark Money Behind Florida ‘Ghost’ Candidates Has Ties to Alabama Political Players, Records Suggest
MSN – Jason Garcia and Annie Martin (Orlando Sentinel) | Published: 8/5/2021
The source of more than $500,000 spent last year promoting “ghost] candidates in key state Senate races remained a mystery even as the scandal rocked Florida politics, but newly public records suggest the money is tied to political players in Alabama. The money paid for nearly identical mailers apparently tailored to persuade Democratic-leaning voters to support the independent candidates in each of the three races, all of which were ultimately won by Republicans. Authorities in Miami-Dade County have charged two people in connection with one of those races.
Florida – DeSantis Donor Got $50 Million in Emergency Pandemic Work
Politico – Matt Dixon | Published: 8/5/2021
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration awarded nearly $50 million in no-bid Covid-related work to a controversial company that lobbied his administration for the contracts, then gave the governor a $100,000 political contribution. Nomi Health, Inc. has received $46 million under two separate contracts it signed with the state for Covid-19 testing and vaccine work between February and June. The spending was approved under a DeSantis-signed pandemic executive order, which gave the administration broad legal authority to spend state funds without legislative approval or going through a normal procurement process.
Florida – Florida Won’t Defend Ballot Measure Contribution Cap
The Center Square – John Haughey | Published: 8/10/2021
Florida will not appeal a federal judge’s ruling striking down a law that caps early campaign donations to citizens’ initiatives committees sponsoring constitutional amendments at $3,000. The judge’s order prohibits the Florida Elections Commission from enforcing the contribution limit. U.S. District Court Judge Allen Winsor determined Florida has “no significant interest” in limiting political speech in the form of donations to political committees engaged in petition drives to get proposed constitutional amendments before voters.
Florida – Will Canady the Candidate Pose Ethical Dilemma for Canady the Florida Chief Justice?
Yahoo News – Dara Kam (News Service of Florida) | Published: 8/11/2021
Jennifer Canady’s election to the House could be a history making victory as she would be the first spouse of a sitting Florida Supreme Court justice to serve in the state Legislature in modern history. But the Canady union could also prove thorny for Chief Justice Charles Canady if his wife wins, according to legal experts. The family relationship between a sitting Florida judge or Supreme Court justice and a state legislator “may very well raise serious issues of judicial conduct and disqualification under the Florida code of judicial conduct,” University of Miami law professor Anthony Alfieri said.
Louisiana – New Orleans Ethics Review Board Recommends Barring City Council Campaign Donations from Entergy, Cox and Other Utilities
The Lens – Michael Isaac Stein | Published: 8/11/2021
The New Orleans Ethics Review Board voted to recommend a revision to the ethics code that would bar city council members and candidates from accepting political contributions from city-regulated utility firms like Entergy New Orleans or Cox Communications, along with any vendor working on a contract awarded by the council or the Sewerage and Water Board. The city council would need to approve the change. There are still some big legal questions about whether the council members have the authority to wade into campaign finance restrictions or apply government ethics rules to candidates who are not yet government officials.
Maine – Bangor Board of Ethics Alters Guidelines on Political Speech from Councilors
Bangor Daily News – David Marino Jr. | Published: 8/11/2021
The Bangor Board of Ethics approved a proposed law on political speech by city officials. The new code is less ambiguous than the last, with the framers aiming to balance the First Amendment rights of Bangor officials with language that will maintain the city’s neutrality and not align it with viewpoints or organizations it does not officially support. Bangor is one of the few population centers in Maine with an explicit ban on certain political speech from officials.
Maine – Ethics Panel Continues Pursuit of Financial Records from Unnamed Consultants
Portland Press Herald – Scott Thistle | Published: 8/8/2021
The Maine ethics commission is continuing its efforts to shield the identity of two political consulting firms involved in the $1 billion Central Maine Power transmission corridor project even as it prepares to take legal action against the firms. The commission’s lawyer, Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Bolton, is expected to file a lawsuit soon to enforce a subpoena for records from the firms, which appear to be based in California and Virginia. But the commission will give the firms advance notice so they can file simultaneous motions asking the court to seal the case from public view while a judge decides whether to enforce the subpoenas.
Mississippi – City Sanctioned for Slow Response to Public Records Request
MSN – Associated Press | Published: 8/9/2021
The Mississippi Ethics Commission ordered the city of Jackson to pay more than $170,000 in legal fees for violating state law by taking more than a year to provide public records a television station requested. It is the largest amount the commission has ever ordered a public entity to pay and one of a few times the agency has required payment of legal fees. The decision comes more than two years after WLBT made seven public-records requests to the Jackson Police Department for emails, memos, and crime statistics.
New Mexico – Complaint Against Keller Tossed
MSN – Olivier Uyttebrouck and Jessica Dyer (Albuquerque Journal) | Published: 8/9/2021
Albuquerque City Clerk Ethan Watson tossed an election ethics complaint against himself and Mayor Tim Keller, saying it fails to meet standards requiring a detailed description of the allegations and how they violated specific rules. The complaint alleges Keller violated rules when pursuing over $600,000 in public campaign financing. It also identifies the city clerk, saying he failed to follow his own published rules when he approved Keller’s qualifying contributions, among other charges.
New Mexico – Former County Official Convicted of Procurement Violation
MSN – Associated Press | Published: 8/5/2021
A former Rio Arriba County commissioner faces up to 18 months in prison when he is sentenced on a conviction for violating New Mexico’s procurement code. A judge ruled ex-Commissioner Barney Trujillo violated the law when he failed to disclose contributions that he made to an Española school board member’s campaign.
New York – Cuomo Has $18 Million in Campaign Cash. What Can He Do with It?
New York Times – J. David Goodman | Published: 8/12/2021
Even after his resignation takes effect in less than two weeks, Gov. Andrew Cuomo will still control $18 million campaign account amassed in apparent preparation for a run at a fourth term next year. But his huge stock of campaign money, the most money retained by a departing New York politician in recent memory, affords him a range of possibilities, including the chance to attempt an eventual comeback or to play a role in the state’s political life by donating to other candidates.
New York – New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo Announces Resignation in Effort to Head Off Likely Impeachment in Wake of Devastating Report on His Conduct
MSN – Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 8/10/2021
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation after state Attorney General Letitia James released the results of an investigation that found he sexually harassed at least 11 women. The governor still faces the possibility of criminal charges, with prosecutors around the state continuing to investigate him. Cuomo repeatedly denied improperly touching women, even as accusations mounted, and dismissed the harassment claims as a misinterpretation of his affectionate political style. Impeachment proceedings were ongoing and Cuomo advisers said privately they expected he would be removed from office.
New York – Other Politicians’ Scandals Propelled Career of NY’s Next Governor, Ex-Rep. Kathy Hochul
MSN – Jim Saska (Roll Call) | Published: 8/10/2021
New York’s next governor, Kathy Hochul, has had a political career defined by scandal by both her political adversaries and allies. She will be the state’s first female governor and the first from Buffalo since Grover Cleveland in 1882. Hochu will take office after Andrew Cuomo’s resignation. A state attorney general’s report fond allegations of sexual harassment made against Cuomo credible.
Ohio – FirstEnergy Bribery Scandal Raises Questions About Vetting at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio
MSN – Andrew Tobias (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 8/8/2021
FirstEnergy admitted money paid to Sam Randazzo before he became chairperson of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) was a bribe given in exchange for favorable treatment. In ethics forms Randazzo filed shortly after Gov. Mike DeWine hired him, he disclosed making money consulting through two companies he owned but did not list the amounts. State officials must disclose the amount only if it came from an entity looking to do business with the agency where they work. Randazzo did not mention FirstEnergy was a client. DeWine said he did not know FirstEnergy had paid Randazzo more than $20 million over the past decade.
Ohio – Ohio Elections Commission to Review Campaign Finance Complaint Against Rep. Wiggam, Others
MSN – Bryce Buyakie (Times Record) | Published: 8/6/2021
A complaint filed with the Ohio Elections Commission alleges three state lawmakers received free campaign management software linked to the Republican National Committee worth a total of $9,000. The compliant says the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative organization that writes legislation, gave Reps. Scott Wiggam and Bill Seitz, along with Sen. Robert McColley, free access to the software for 2020 election campaign. ALEC may have provided it to some of the group’s other 2,000 state legislative members across the country, totaling around $6 million in campaign contributions, the complaint alleges.
Oregon – Report Finds Small-Dollar Donors in Portland Achieved New Influence in Local Elections
Oregon Public Broadcasting – Rebecca Ellis | Published: 8/10/2021
Rules dictate that after every election, an oversight group for the Open and Accountable Elections program must produce a report evaluating how Portland’s system of public campaign financing panned out. Their report found that during its debut election cycle, the program fundamentally changed the dynamics of fundraising in Portland: small-dollar donors were now the main focus of most campaigns.
Pennsylvania – Pennsylvania’s Lawmaker Reimbursement Rules Are ‘Ripe for Abuse’
Spotlight PA – Angela Couloumbis (Spotlight PA), Sam Janesch, Mike Wereschagin, and Brad Bumsted (The Caucus) | Published: 8/6/2021
Despite warnings from good-government advocates and even some inside the Capitol that Pennsylvania’s two state-run systems for reimbursing lawmakers are ripe for abuse, Republican leadership has failed to move reforms. Unlike most private and public sector employers, state lawmakers often are not required to provide any proof when seeking reimbursements from taxpayer-funded accounts. On the campaign side, the public cannot see thousands of dollars of election expenses lumped together under vague categories and charged to credit cards.
Tennessee – Commission Overrides Harris Veto of County Ethics Advisory Panel
Daily Memphian – Bill Dries | Published: 8/9/2021
Shelby County commissioners overrode County Mayor Lee Harris’s veto of a new ethics advisory panel to be appointed by the commission. Commissioner Amber Mills proposed the advisory group, saying it would advise the commission on anyone the mayor appoints to the county’s ethics panel as well as any proposed amendments to the ethics ordinance.
Texas – Texas GOP Hits New Roadblocks in Push for Voting Restrictions
MSN – Eva Ruth Moravec and Elise Viebeck (Washington Post) | Published: 8/11/2021
Texas Republicans hit fresh roadblocks in their effort to enact new voting restrictions, facing a Democratic filibuster in the state Senate and signs that legal maneuvering could protect House quorum breakers from arrest. In the House, which remained without a quorum, deputies for the sergeant-at-arms apparently failed to find any absent Democrats as they delivered civil arrest warrants to their offices. The unexpected developments threw fresh uncertainty into a months-long standoff that has crystallized the national debate over voting rights.
Washington – Group That Wants to Provide Legal Help to Eyman Starts Fight with Disclosure Commission
Tacoma News Tribune – Alexis Krell | Published: 8/9/2021
A group that wants to represent anti-tax activist Tim Eyman has sued over how Washington’s campaign finance law might apply to its pro bono legal work. State Attorney General Bob Ferguson sued Eyman for violating campaign finance laws and a judge fined Eyman $2.6 million. The judge found him to be a “continuing political committee,” and he had not properly filed campaign finance reports and put donors’ contributions to personal use. The Institute for Free Speech wants to represent Eyman on appeal, but his designation as a “continuing political committee” raised questions about whether the institute would be subject to campaign finance laws if they represented him for free.
Wisconsin – Wisconsin GOP Lawmaker Takes First Step Toward Launching Arizona-Style Election Review
Yahoo News – Zach Montellaro (Politico) | Published: 8/6/2021
State Rep. Janel Brandtjen, chairperson of the Wisconsin Assembly’s elections committee, said she was subpoenaing 2020 election materials including physical ballots and voting machines from two large counties, in an attempt to bring an Arizona-style review of the 2020 election to another state. The subpoenas seek a wide scope of materials, stretching from the physical ballots themselves, to tabulation equipment and “forensic images” of election equipment. It is not yet clear if the subpoenas are valid, however.
August 11, 2021 •
Campaign Finance National: “Watchdog Sues FEC for Closing Investigation into Rick Scott, Allied Super PAC” by Karl Evers-Hillstrom (The Hill) for MSN New Mexico: “Complaint Against Keller Tossed” by Olivier Uyttebrouck and Jessica Dyer (Albuquerque Journal) for MSN Oregon: “Report […]
National: “Watchdog Sues FEC for Closing Investigation into Rick Scott, Allied Super PAC” by Karl Evers-Hillstrom (The Hill) for MSN
New Mexico: “Complaint Against Keller Tossed” by Olivier Uyttebrouck and Jessica Dyer (Albuquerque Journal) for MSN
Oregon: “Report Finds Small-Dollar Donors in Portland Achieved New Influence in Local Elections” by Rebecca Ellis for Oregon Public Broadcasting
Arizona: “Arizona State Sen. Tony Navarrete Accused of 7 Felony Charges Involving Sexual Conduct with 2 Teens” by Mary Jo Pitzl (Arizona Republic) for USA Today
Mississippi: “City Sanctioned for Slow Response to Public Records Request” by Associated Press for MSN
New York: “New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo Announces Resignation in Effort to Head Off Likely Impeachment in Wake of Devastating Report on His Conduct” by Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) and for MSN
Tennessee: “Commission Overrides Harris Veto of County Ethics Advisory Panel” by Bill Dries for Daily Memphian
Texas: “Texas Supreme Court Allows for Arrest of Democrats Who Don’t Show Up to Legislature” by James Barragán for Texas Tribune
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.