May 12, 2022 •
The 73rd Colorado General Assembly adjourned sine die May 11. During the session, legislation related to campaign finance was introduced. House Bill 1060 was passed, creating aggregate limits on candidates for school district director from persons other than small donor […]
The 73rd Colorado General Assembly adjourned sine die May 11.
During the session, legislation related to campaign finance was introduced. House Bill 1060 was passed, creating aggregate limits on candidates for school district director from persons other than small donor committees for any regular biennial or special school election of $2,500. Further, a $25,000 limit was established for contributions to candidates for school district director from small donor committees for any regular biennial or special school election. The bill takes effect July 1.
Additionally, Senate Bill 237 relating to ballot measure expenditures was introduced and passed through both chambers as of May 10. The bill would expand the definition of earmark for purposes of the Fair Campaign Practices Act to include contributions or expenditures greater than $1,000 to support or oppose a specified ballot issue or ballot question. Further, the bill would modify the process to determine whether an organization is an issue committee to include an examination of the organization’s pattern of conduct. Additionally, any person who makes a expends $5,000 in aggregate in a calendar year on direct ballot issue or ballot question expenditure expenditures must report to the secretary of state, and any person who makes a direct ballot issue or ballot question expenditure must disclose their name in certain communications about a ballot issue or ballot question. If passed, portions of the bill would become effective immediately and the section providing for disclosure to the secretary of state of $5,000 spent by an individual in a calendar year would become effective September 1.
This does not affect lobbyist reporting.
May 11, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “Congressman Probing Commanders Cancels Fundraiser Over Ethics Question” by Daniel Lippman (Politico) for MSN Elections National: “Dem AGs Pledge to Hold the Line If Roe Falls” by Alice Miranda Ollstein for Politico Michigan: “Michigan Legislature Puts Term […]
National: “Congressman Probing Commanders Cancels Fundraiser Over Ethics Question” by Daniel Lippman (Politico) for MSN
National: “Dem AGs Pledge to Hold the Line If Roe Falls” by Alice Miranda Ollstein for Politico
Michigan: “Michigan Legislature Puts Term Limits Proposal on Ballot” by David Eggert (Associated Press) for MSN
National: “Elon Musk Says He Would Reverse Twitter Ban on Donald Trump” by Faiz Siddiqui, Drew Harwell, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) for MSN
New Jersey: “Murphy Vetoes Bill Closing Bribery ‘Loopholes,’ Wants to Make the Law Tougher” by Ted Sherman (NJ Advance Media) for MSN
New York: “Ethics Commission Hits Back at Cuomo, Seeking $5M Book Repayment” by Chris Bragg for Albany Times Union
Virginia: “State Supreme Court Vacancies Remain Unfilled During Political Standoff” by Allison Winter for Virginia Mercury
Tennessee: “Titans Stadium Push Shows Family Connections on Tennessee’s Capitol Hill” by Phil Williams for WTVF
May 10, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Maryland: “Exclusive: U.S. congressman’s campaign may violate state election law” by Eric Cortellessa (Time) for Yahoo News Elections National: “Inside Mark Meadows’s Final Push to Keep Trump in Power” by Michael Kranish (Washington Post) for MSN Ethics Hawaii: […]
Maryland: “Exclusive: U.S. congressman’s campaign may violate state election law” by Eric Cortellessa (Time) for Yahoo News
National: “Inside Mark Meadows’s Final Push to Keep Trump in Power” by Michael Kranish (Washington Post) for MSN
Hawaii: “Will Former Lawmakers’ Bribery Charges Lead to Broader Government Reform?” by Blaze Lovell for Honolulu Civil Beat
Mississippi: “No More Anonymity, No Complaints During Election Season: Changes to city ethics complaints process coming” by Angele Latham (Jackson Sun) for Yahoo News
Oregon: “Prison Club for Oregon’s Convicted Killers Investigated for Financial ‘Discrepancies’” by Noelle Crombie (Portland Oregonian) for MSN
Virginia: “Battling Yard Signs on a Quiet Corner in Alexandria” by Emily Davies (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Pelosi Sets $45,000 Minimum Yearly Salary for House Staff” by Associated Press for MSN
New York: “For Nonprofits, a Voice in Lobbying Is Often Out of Reach Due to Rules” by Brendan Lyons for Albany Times Union
May 6, 2022 •
National/Federal A Decision to Overturn Roe v. Wade Might Upend the Midterms MSN – Dan Balz, Colby Itkowitz, and Caroline Kitchener (Washington Post) | Published: 5/3/2022 Supporters of abortion rights and their Democratic allies predicted that Politico’s publication of a leaked […]
A Decision to Overturn Roe v. Wade Might Upend the Midterms
MSN – Dan Balz, Colby Itkowitz, and Caroline Kitchener (Washington Post) | Published: 5/3/2022
Supporters of abortion rights and their Democratic allies predicted that Politico’s publication of a leaked draft opinion by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito Jr. would reverberate through to the fall campaign. They said it could make the election a choice between Democratic and Republican governance that could ultimately hold down expected GOP gains. Countering that view were assertions by Republicans and opponents of abortion who said their supporters would be energized by a decision and issues such as inflation and crime will continue to influence voters’ decisions as much or more than abortion rights.
Draft Abortion Opinion Puts New Spotlight on Confirmation Hearings
MSN – Seung Min Kim (Washington Post) | Published: 5/4/2022
In the wake of a leaked draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, there is fresh scrutiny of the U.S. Supreme Court confirmation process, in which nominees say as little as possible and senators are left to parse their language on how they would rule. It is not just the increasingly predictable and evasive answers of nominees that are prodding some senators to conclude the hearings have become empty theater. More and more, the confirmation votes themselves seem a foregone conclusion, with senators hewing to the party line and many using their allotted time to launch political broadsides rather than seek information.
Former Top State Official to Plead Guilty for Helping Qatar
Yahoo News – Alan Sunderman and Jim Mustian (Associated Press) | Published: 4/27/2022
A former top-ranking State Department official will plead guilty for improperly helping Qatar influence U.S. policy and not disclosing on an ethics form gifts he received from a disgraced political fundraiser. Richard Olson, who was the State Department’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the end of the Obama administration, provided “aid and advice” to Qatar on lobbying activities in violation of a “revolving door” prohibition against such behavior for one year after leaving public service.
Gas Giants Have Been Ghostwriting Letters of Support from Elected Officials
Yahoo Finance – Chris D’Angelo (HuffPost) | Published: 5/2/2022
For the past several months, local officials in Virginia and North Carolina, primarily elected Republicans, have been peppering federal regulators with glowing letters in support of gas projects in their states. Internal emails show these letters all had something in common – they were ghostwritten by lobbyists and consultants of the two major pipeline firms behind those projects. The communications show how Williams Companies and TC Energy Corporation worked to boost political support for a number of natural gas infrastructure projects currently under federal review.
How a Billionaires Boys’ Club Came to Dominate the Public Square
MSN – Michael Scherer and Sarah Ellison (Washington Post) | Published: 5/1/2022
Technological change and the fortunes it created have given a small club of wealthy individuals the ability to play arbiter, moderator, and bankroller of not only the information that feeds the nation’s discourse but also the architecture that undergirds it. The information that courses over these networks is increasingly produced by publications controlled by fellow billionaires and other wealthy dynasties, who have filled the void of the collapsing profit-making journalism market with varying combinations of self-interest and altruism. It is a situation that has alarmed policy experts at both ends of the increasingly vicious ideological and partisan divides.
Jan. 6 Panel Wants Testimony from GOP Lawmakers Brooks, Biggs, Jackson
Yahoo News – Rebecca Beitsch (The Hill) | Published: 5/2/2022
The House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol is seeking voluntary testimony from three additional members of Congress who appeared to have some coordination with rioters and efforts to block President Biden’s electoral victory both before and after the attack. The letter to Rep. Mo Brooks notes former President Trump asked him to help keep him in office even after January 6. A letter to Rep. Andy Biggs references his involvement in discussions to secure presidential pardons in connection with efforts to unwind the 2020 election. A letter to Rep. Ronny Jackson points to exchanges between members of the Oath Keepers militia group citing the need to protect the lawmaker.
Judge Upholds Jan. 6 Committee Subpoena for RNC Records
Yahoo News – Kyle Cheney (Politico) | Published: 5/2/2022
A judge supported a House select committee’s effort to obtain internal Republican National Committee (RNC) data. In rejecting the RNC lawsuit, U.S. District Court Judge Tim Kelly said the committee had demonstrated its need for the party’s data on its fundraising emails between November 3, 2020, and January 6, 2021, when the RNC and Trump campaign sent supporters messages falsely suggesting the election was stolen. The committee contends those emails helped sow the seeds of the violence that erupted on January 6. The decision is a major victory for the panel and could open the doors to reams of internal RNC data held by Salesforce, a vendor the RNC used to run email fundraising campaigns.
Panel Sends FEC Nominee Dara Lindenbaum to Senate Floor
MSN – Kate Ackley (Roll Call) | Published: 5/3/2022
The Senate Rules and Administration Committee approved the nomination of Dara Lindenbaum to the FEC. Lindenbaum, an election lawyer, would fill the seat of Steven Walther, an independent who was picked by Democrats. Lindenbaum said she would recuse herself for two years from cases involving her own clients or those of her firm. Her client roster includes Stacey Abrams, who is running for governor this year and ran in 2018, as well as other federal, state, and local candidates and political committees.
Trump Officials Muzzled CDC on Church Covid Guidance, Emails Confirm
MSN – Dan Diamond (Washington Post) | Published: 4/28/2022
Trump White House officials in May 2020 removed public health advice urging churches to consider virtual religious services as the coronavirus spread, delivering a messaging change sought by the president’s supporters, according to emails from former top officials. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released reports saying the virus had killed three and infected dozens at church events in Arkansas and health experts had warned houses of worship had become hot spots for virus transmission. But Trump officials wrote they were frustrated by “problematic” advice the CDC had already posted. The guidance published by CDC did not include recommendations about offering virtual or drive-in options for religious services.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – A Top Ducey Aide Raised Nearly $13k from Lobbyists Whose Cash He Promised to Shun
Arizona Mirror – Dillon Rosenblatt | Published: 5/3/2022
When Matt Gress, the budget director for Gov. Doug Ducey, launched his campaign for the Arizona House in December, he promised not to accept any contributions from lobbyists during the legislative session to avoid the appearance his campaign might influence his work for the state. His first campaign finance report in 2022 shows he did not follow through on that promise.
California – ‘Pay to Play’ Governor Behest Payment Contracting Bill Killed by Senate Democrats
California Globe – Evan Symon | Published: 4/29/2022
A bill that would have prohibited state agencies in California from awarding contracts to companies that made behest payments on the governor’s behalf failed to pass the Senate Governmental Organization Committee. Senate Bill 1367 would have specifically prohibited state agencies from awarding a contract for which the agency had not secured at least three competitive bids or proposals to a company that made a payment at the behest of the governor in the preceding 12 months.
Colorado – Colorado Lawmakers Define ‘Major Purpose’ in Campaign Finance Laws, Clarify Who Must File Reports
Colorado Politics – Marianne Goodland | Published: 5/4/2022
A bill in the Colorado Senate would change campaign finance laws pertaining to issue committees, which deal with ballot measures. The bill’s main purpose is to define “major purpose” in campaign finance statutes and the parameters under which it would apply, particularly when it comes to issue committees. Senate Bill 237 would establish clear thresholds on spending, above which an organization would qualify as having a “major purpose” of supporting a ballot measure and which would trigger registration as an issue committee, as well as a requirement to file campaign finance reports.
Florida – Disney’s Special Tax District Pushes Back Against Law That Would Dissolve It
MSN – Lori Rozsa and Beth Reinhard (Washington Post) | Published: 4/28/2022
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis assailed Disney for siding with the LGBTQ community over a controversial law. But if DeSantis is looking to reshape Disney’s operations and its uniquely powerful control in the state, he may come up short. The details of the state’s dissolution of Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District are still being hashed out behind closed doors. But Reedy Creek is not waiting. The special taxing district, which encompasses most of Disney’s Central Florida properties and allows Disney to effectively self-govern, is already pushing back, indicating it plans to fight the dissolution of a 1967 compact with the state.
Georgia – City Fires Longtime Officials Who Were Mentioned During Bicker’s Corruption Trial
WSB – Richard Belcher | Published: 5/4/2022
The city of Atlanta fired two longtime city officials whose names came up in testimony during the Mitzi Bickers’ bribery trial. The star prosecution witness testified that Bickers, a former campaign aide to then-Mayor Kasim Reed, who later worked for his administration, told the witness that Cotena Alexander and Rita Braswell were “our people” at City Hall. Bickers was convicted of eight counts of bribery, money laundering.
Georgia – Stacey Abrams Switches Gears from Campaign Fundraising to Aiding Abortion Rights
MSN – Eugene Scott (Washington Post) | Published: 5/4/2022
Stacey Abrams, one of the Democratic Party’s most notable fundraisers, paused fundraising for her Georgia gubernatorial race to redirect funds to abortion rights groups after a draft Supreme Court opinion signaling the end to a constitutional right to abortion was made public. Abrams’ ability to temporarily redirect funds to groups working to expand abortion access is thought to be possible in part because she regularly beats her main GOP competitors, Gov. Brian Kemp and former U.S. Sen. David Perdue, in fundraising.
Georgia – Trump Election Probe Special Grand Jury Selected in Atlanta
MSN – Kate Brumback (Associated Press) | Published: 5/2/2022
A special grand jury was selected for the investigation into whether former President Trump and others illegally tried to influence the 2020 election in Georgia. The investigation has been underway since early last year, and Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis took this unusual step to help it along. She noted in a letter to the chief judge that the special grand jury would be able to issue subpoenas to people who have refused to cooperate otherwise.
Idaho – Experts: Lawmaker rape case a ‘rare victory’ for sexual assault survivors
Idaho Press – Rebecca Boone (Associated Press) | Published: 4/30/2022
When a legislative intern came forward with rape allegations against an Idaho lawmaker last year, she was subjected to months of online harassment and abuse. She later testified about the attack at an ethics hearing, and some of the lawmaker’s supporters filmed her and chased her through the statehouse. The young woman took the stand to testify in his criminal trial and became so distraught she fled the courtroom. Aaron von Ehlinger’s rape conviction was a rare victory for prosecutors in a criminal justice system that can be fraught with trauma for sexual assault survivors, experts say.
Illinois – New Chicago IG Asked to Investigate City Clerk Anna Valencia’s Lobbying Connections
MSN – Mary Ann Ahern (WMAQ) | Published: 4/27/2022
For the first time in months, the city of Chicago has a new inspector general as Deborah Witzburg was unanimously approved for the position. Witzburg now officially replaces Joe Ferguson, who resigned after publicly criticizing Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration. One of her first acts in office will be to potentially look into City Clerk Anna Valencia’s office, with Ald. Silvana Tabares asking the new inspector general to investigate allegations the secretary of state candidate and her husband Reyahd Kazmi violated state lobbying rules.
Kansas – Kansas Ethics Panel to Redo Hearing After Questions Over Director’s Law License, Statehouse Probe
Yahoo News – Andrew Bahl (Topeka Capital-Journal) | Published: 4/27/2022
The Kansas Government Ethics Commission moved to grant a new hearing in a case involving an Overland Park civic group, after questions were raised about the law license of the agency’s director, Mark Skoglund. The move comes weeks after Skoglund’s law license was used as pretense by legislators to make a policy change that would have effectively removed him from office. While lawmakers eventually backed off on the plan, it was later revealed the proposal was offered as the ethics panel was investigating one of the state’s most high-profile groups and, potentially, Republican legislators.
Kentucky – Supreme Court Denies Former Top KY Dem’s Request to Overturn Campaign Finance Conviction
MSN – Austin Horn (Lexington Herald Leader) | Published: 5/4/2022
The U.S. Supreme Court denied Jerry Lundergan’s request to overturn his conviction for illegally funneling $200,000 to his daughter’s 2014 political campaign. The former Kentucky Democratic Party chairperson was convicted in 2018 for the contributions made through a corporation to daughter Alison Lundergan Grimes in her 2014 challenge against U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell. Lundergan’s petition argued the federal ban on corporate contributions is unconstitutional when applied to donations from a close family member.
Louisiana – ‘I See How This Looks’: Council grills top Cantrell official over ‘smart cities’ deal
The Lens – Michael Isaac Stein | Published: 4/27/2022
New Orleans City Council members grilled a top city official, Jonathan Rhodes, over a now-abandoned “smart cities” project he played a central role in developing, and which has become the subject of a formal council investigation over potential contract-rigging and conflicts-of-interest. The council formally requested the city’s inspector general to open an investigation into New Orleans’ bidding process. Questions have mounted about the process that led the city to award the project to a consortium of companies called Smart+Connected NOLA. Rhodes had been in contact with the consortium for months before the request for proposals was released and worked with a consultant that is partnered with those same companies.
Maryland – Treasurer Charged with Embezzlement from Annapolis Campaign Committee
Baltimore Sun – Dan Belson (Capital Gazette) | Published: 5/4/2022
The Office of the State Prosecutor in Maryland announced it filed embezzlement charges against the treasurer of a Democratic political committee for Annapolis-area candidates, alleging she deposited more than $4,000 in campaign funds into a personal bank account. Prosecutors allege Alexandra Gilbreath, treasurer of Team 30 Slate, deposited funds from the committee into her personal Venmo account for an almost three-month span in 2018. She then used the funds for personal expenses, charging papers say. Prosecutors also accuse Gilbreath of failing to file or amend four campaign finance reports for the committee.
Massachusetts – Former State Police Head and Three Others Violated Ethics Law by Altering Arrest Report for Judge’s Daughter, Ethics Commission Alleges
MSN – Andrea Estes (Boston Globe) | Published: 4/29/2022
Richard McKeon, the former head of the Massachusetts State Police, violated the state’s conflict-of-interest law when he ordered a trooper to remove embarrassing remarks from the arrest report of a judge’s daughter, lawyers for the state Ethics Commission charged. Commission lawyers also allege Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early Jr., as well as his First Assistant Jeffrey Travers, and State Police Major Susan Anderson abused their positions to help the judge after his daughter was arrested and charged with operating under the influence of alcohol and drugs. They asked the Ethics Commission’s hearing officer to find the four violated the law and impose fines up to $20,000 apiece.
Michigan – FBI Raids Home in New Public Corruption Probe in Metro Detroit
Detroit News – Robert Snell and Mike Martindale | Published: 5/3/2022
Federal agents arrested two Wayne County employees accused of using taxpayer money to buy power equipment worth more than $1.7 million they later sold for personal profit. The allegations against Wayne County Roads Division manager Kevin Gunn and foreman John Gibson involved 596 generators and other power equipment that was never supplied or used by the county. The alleged scheme involved Gunn soliciting county vendors to buy generators, lawnmowers, chainsaws, and backpack blowers from area retailers. The case marks the latest federal investigation of corruption within the ranks of government in Metro Detroit.
Minnesota – Minneapolis City Council Blocks Chamber Consulting Gift to Improve Mayor Frey’s Office Efficiency
Minneapolis Star Tribune – Liz Navratil | Published: 4/28/2022
Mayor Jacob Frey cannot receive consulting services from the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce after a city council vote fell one short of the number that he needed to accept the gift. The chamber intended to loan a staffer to the mayor’s office for several weeks in hopes she could advise the office on how to improve their efficiency. Some council members raised concerns about the arrangement, noting the chamber supported a ballot initiative last fall that granted the mayor more power over the city’s daily operations.
Mississippi – Governor Vetoes Bill Tweaking Campaign Finance Law
Daily Journal – Taylor Vance | Published: 5/4/2022
The way Mississippi holds its politicians accountable for skirting state campaign finance law is convoluted with large gaps in the enforcement process. It appears that will not change anytime soon. Gov. Tate Reeves vetoed legislation that would have transferred the power to levy fines against candidates who fail to file campaign finance reports on time from the state Ethics Commission to the Mississippi secretary of state’s office. The snag in the current process is that it forces three different state organizations to share responsibilities for issuing fines, leading to a confusing process.
New Jersey – A Toxic Culture Exists in N.J. Politics, Campaigns, Experts Say. This Lesson Aims to Prevent Harassment.
MSN – Susan Livio (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 4/29/2022
Three out of four people who are targeted with unwelcome sexual remarks or physical contact at work never file a sexual harassment complaint, according to experts who have studied the issue. For people who work on a political campaign or have a job in New Jersey politics, the YWCA of Northern New Jersey and New Jersey State Bar Association Foundation created a video tutorial to let everyone to know that “toxic culture” is not acceptable. The video, made with the help of some of the state’s most prominent women in politics, will be sent to every campaign and political body that can be located, beginning in June.
New York – Gov. Hochul Taps Rep. Antonio Delgado as New Lieutenant Governor
Gotham Gazette – Brigid Bergin | Published: 5/3/2022
U.S. Gov. Kathy Hochul moved to fill the vacant lieutenant governor position, tapping U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado to take the role. Hochul is the first woman to serve as governor of New York. Delgado is the first person of color to represent the 19th Congressional District. He is the first person of African American and Hispanic descent to be the state’s lieutenant governor. A representative of a predominantly white and rural congressional district, Delgado has emphasized his ability to work across the aisle. His campaign website touts the two awards he won for his bipartisanship from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
New York – Hochul Pens Legal Path for Former Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin to Drop Off Primary Ballot
Yahoo News – Rob Hackford (WGRZ) | Published: 5/2/2022
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed legislation that gives disgraced former Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin a legal path to get off the state’s primary ballot. Hochul’s signature came almost immediately after the Legislature got it passed despite a limited timeline and political criticism. The law allows any candidate for local, state, or federal office to remove themselves from a ballot if they have had an accusatory instrument filed against them in state court; had a criminal complaint or indictment filed against them in federal court; been convicted at any time after they are designated or nominated.
New York – Judge Won’t Revive NY Political Maps That Favored Democrats
Yahoo News – Marina Villeneuve (Associated Press) | Published: 5/4/2022
A federal judge refused to order New York to hold its congressional and state Senate primaries this spring using district maps declared unconstitutional by state judges, saying a legal effort by Democrats to revive the maps looked unlikely to succeed. Replacement maps are now being drawn by an independent scholar at Carnegie Mellon University under the supervision of a state judge. The judge ordered the state’s primaries for Congress and state Senate moved from June to August so the redistricting process would have enough time to play out.
New York – Trump Grand Jury Ending in N.Y. with No Charges Against Ex-President
MSN – Shayna Jacobs, Josh Dawsey, and Jonathan O’Connell (Washington Post) | Published: 4/29/2022
A New Yor City grand jury that was convened late last year to hear evidence against Donald Trump was set to expire, closing a chapter in a lengthy criminal investigation that appears to be fizzling out without charges against the former president, people familiar with matter said. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who took office in January, inherited a probe launched by his predecessor, Cyrus Vance Jr., who was convinced there was a case against Trump for crimes related to manipulating the value of property assets to secure tax advantages or better loan rates.
North Carolina – Federal Court Considers Ruling That Blocked Madison Cawthorn Eligibility Challenge
Yahoo News – Gary Robertson (Associated Press) | Published: 5/4/2022
A federal appeals court questioned whether a lower court got it right when it blocked a challenge of U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn’s candidacy by voters who cited a section of the Constitution addressing insurrection as disqualifying him. Three judges on the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in a lawsuit that Cawthorn filed to derail the formal challenge sent to the State Board of Elections in North Carolina from going forward. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Myers ruled for Cawthorn in March and prevented the board from formally examining whether he should remain on ballots, and the voters appealed.
Ohio – A Limited Ban on Developer Campaign Donations Goes into Effect This Month
WVXU – Becca Costello | Published: 5/4/2022
A ban on some campaign donations to Cincinnati City Council members and the mayor takes effect on May 26. Interim City Manager John Curp recently approved regulations for the “solicitation ban” the council passed last year. The rules prohibit sitting council members and the mayor from soliciting or accepting campaign donations from someone with active business at the council, starting from the day the ordinance is filed with the council clerk. A new Office of Ethics and Good Government has been working on the regulations since last fall.
Ohio – Election 2022: JD Vance wins Ohio’s GOP Senate primary
MSN – Jill Colvin and Julie Carr Smyth (Associated Press) | Published: 5/4/2022
“Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance won Ohio’s contentious Republican U.S. Senate primary on, buoyed by Donald Trump’s endorsement in a race that was an early test of the former president’s hold on his party as the midterm season kicks into high gear. A onetime critic of Trump, Vance spent much of the campaign behind in the polls. But an endorsement from Trump pushed him to frontrunner status and the two men downplayed Vance’s past scathing criticism of the former president, with Vance saying he was wrong. He now faces Democrat Tim Ryan in the general election race to fill the seat being vacated by retiring U.S. Sen. Rob Portman.
Tennessee – Campaign Finance Reform Bill Passes After McNally Issues Rebuke of Dark-Money Groups
Yahoo News – Adam Friedman (Tennessean) | Published: 4/28/2022
Tennessee lawmakers passed House Bill 1201, which requires 501(c)4s, often considered “dark money” organizations, to disclose any expenses over $5,000 in the 60 days leading up to an election when using candidate names and images. The bill’s final version would enhance several disclosure laws around campaign service companies and make various changes to increase transparency with the Registry of Election Finance. Some of the provisions directly respond to actions by former speaker and current Rep. Glen Casada and former Rep. Robin Smith. In March, Smith pleaded guilty to a federal wire fraud charge.
Texas – Lobby Ordinance Needs Revision to Cover Virtual Meetings
Austin Monitor – Jo Clifton | Published: 5/4/2022
Auditors have found that while Austin’s registered lobbyists are largely complying with city regulations, there is one significant gap in the reporting requirements. Although lobbyists are required to report their in-person meetings, no such requirement exists for virtual meetings, according to a report discussed at a city council committee. Some offices use an electronic form while others use the electronic calendars to keep up with virtual lobbyist meetings, but nothing in city code requires either the lobbyist or the person being lobbied to keep a record.
Vermont – After Years in Committee Limbo, a Statewide Ethics Code Is Finally Adopted in Vermont
VTDigger.org – Sarah Mearhoff | Published: 5/4/2022
Gov. Phil Scott signed a bill that establishes a code of ethics in Vermont. Senate Bill 171 establishes baseline ethics rules for public officials in state government. It sets boundaries around conflicts-of-interest, preferential treatment, gifts, outside employment, the use of state employment for personal gain, among other provisions. It also protects whistleblowers from retaliation. Before the bill passed, Vermont was one of only five states without statewide codes of ethics for officials.
Virginia – Youngkin’s Move to Force Loudoun School Board Elections Called ‘Troubling’
MSN – Gregory Schneider and Laura Vozzella (Washington Post) | Published: 4/30/2022
Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s attempt to force the entire Loudon County School Board to face new elections this fall, shortening the terms of most of its members, stunned many political observers as an intrusion into local election integrity without modern precedent in Virginia. The plan, aimed at a school board that Youngkin has made a constant political target, initially won approval from the Republican-controlled House. But the Democratic-controlled Senate killed it, with one Republican senator joining the vote against a measure he called “troubling.”
Washington – Republican Spokane County Commissioner Candidate Gets Partial Exemption from Campaign Finance Requirements
Yahoo News – Colin Tiernan (Spokane Spokesman-Review) | Published: 4/29/2022
The Public Disclosure Commission voted to allow Kim Plese, a Republican candidate for Spokane County commissioner, to withhold the names of clients who spent more than $12,000 at her printing business for a one-year time-period, so long as those clients are not governmental entities or candidates for elected office. Washington law requires candidates for elected office to disclose a wide range of financial information. In Plese’s case, that means sharing recent transaction records for the business she owned for more than 30 years, Plese Printing and Marketing. Plese did not want to share records of sales greater than $12,000.
Washington DC – Trump Organizations Agree to Pay $750,000 to Settle Lawsuit with District
MSN – Keith Alexander (Washington Post) | Published: 5/3/2022
The Trump Organization and Trump’s Presidential Inaugural Committee agreed to pay the District of Columbia $750,000 to settle a lawsuit the city filed alleging the organizations misused nonprofit funds to benefit the former president and his family. The city filed a lawsuit in 2020 alleging the Inaugural Committee, a nonprofit corporation, coordinated with Trump’s family to overpay for event space in the Trump International Hotel and even paid for space on days when it did not hold events, among other malfeasance.
May 4, 2022 •
Vermont Gov. Phil Scott signed Senate Bill 171 establishing a statewide ethics code. The bill prohibits public officials and employees from accepting or soliciting gifts not expressly permitted by the code. Permitted gifts include food and beverage where the cost […]
Vermont Gov. Phil Scott signed Senate Bill 171 establishing a statewide ethics code.
The bill prohibits public officials and employees from accepting or soliciting gifts not expressly permitted by the code.
Permitted gifts include food and beverage where the cost does not exceed $100 and unsolicited de minimis gifts with a value of $50 or less.
The bill also prohibits former legislative employees from being paid to appear before the General Assembly or its committees for one year following the termination of their service.
The bill will take effect on July 1.
April 27, 2022 •
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed into law legislation creating campaign finance limits for school board races for the first time. House Bill 1060 will cap individual donations at $2,500 and small donor committees at $25,000 per school board candidate. The […]
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed into law legislation creating campaign finance limits for school board races for the first time.
House Bill 1060 will cap individual donations at $2,500 and small donor committees at $25,000 per school board candidate.
The legislation, however, won’t affect spending by independent committees.
The new contribution limits would be subject to existing laws governing the disclosure of campaign contribution and would require filings with the secretary of state.
The bill goes into effect July 1, 2022.
April 27, 2022 •
The Vermont Legislature passed Senate Bill 171 and delivered it to Gov. Phil Scott today. The bill establishes a statewide ethics code covering all individuals elected or appointed to serve as public officers as well as all state employees. The […]
The Vermont Legislature passed Senate Bill 171 and delivered it to Gov. Phil Scott today.
The bill establishes a statewide ethics code covering all individuals elected or appointed to serve as public officers as well as all state employees.
The ethics code includes conflict of interest, gift, and revolving door provisions.
If signed by Scott, the ethics code will go into effect on July 1.
April 22, 2022 •
National/Federal Agencies Announce Plans for More Equity in Federal Programs MSN – Michael Macagnone (Roll Call) | Published: 4/14/2022 Dozens of federal agencies launched plans that focus on minority groups and other underserved communities, meant to open federal programs to more […]
Agencies Announce Plans for More Equity in Federal Programs
MSN – Michael Macagnone (Roll Call) | Published: 4/14/2022
Dozens of federal agencies launched plans that focus on minority groups and other underserved communities, meant to open federal programs to more people and reduce racial disparities caused by government decisions. The plans come in response to an executive order President Joe Biden issued on his first day in office to get federal agencies to reassess how their programs may contribute to inequities. Across agencies, the plans included steps like increased coordination with tribal governments, broadening procurement for minority-owned small businesses, and increasing civil rights enforcement.
Campaign Finance Watchdog Cracks Down on Untraceable Super PAC Donations
MSN – Zach Montellaro (Politico) | Published: 4/15/2022
A statement from four of the six members of the FEC indicated the agency would now start cracking down on straw donations to super PACs that are funneled through limited liability companies (LLCs) by requiring disclose of who is behind the LLCs. These types of contributions through anonymous LLCs have become increasingly common in recent years, as some wealthy political donors look to shield their contributions from the public by routing them through other entities first. The FEC has been frozen for years on what to do about these contributions, effectively blessing them by not policing requirements that would have forced further disclosure.
Capitol Police’s New Vetting Practices Raise ‘First Amendment Concerns,’ Whistleblowers’ Lawyer Says
Yahoo News – Betsy Woodruff Swan and Daniel Lippman (Politico) | Published: 4/19/2022
After a year of scrutiny following the January 6, 2021, insurrection, the Capitol Police is facing fresh criticism of its intelligence-gathering tactics from some of its own former analysts. An employment lawyer, who represents five people who worked in the department’s intelligence division in January of 2021, says his clients believe Capitol Police conduct veered beyond protecting members to raising First Amendment concerns. Among the allegations from Dan Gebhardt’s clients include that Capitol Police intelligence analysts were directed to “conduct research” on the relatives of members of Congress as part of their security work.
Censorship Battles’ New Frontier: Your public library
MSN – Annie Gowan (Washington Post) | Published: 4/17/2022
In a growing number of communities across America, conservatives have mounted challenges to books and other content related to race, sex, gender, and other subjects they deem inappropriate. A movement that started in schools has rapidly expanded to public libraries, accounting for 37 percent of book challenges last year. Conservative activists in several states, including Texas, Montana, and Louisiana have joined forces with like-minded officials to dissolve libraries’ governing bodies, rewrite or delete censorship protections, and remove books outside of official challenge procedures.
Fearing a Trump Repeat, Jan. 6 Panel Considers Changes to Insurrection Act
Yahoo News – Luke Broadwater (New York Times) | Published: 4/20/2022
In the days before the attack on the Capitol, some of then-President Trump’s most extreme allies and members of right-wing militia groups urged him to use his power as commander in chief to unleash the military to help keep him in office. Now, as the House committee investigating last year’s riot uncovers new evidence about the lengths to which Trump was willing to go to cling to power, some lawmakers on the panel have begun discussions about rewriting the Insurrection Act, the 1807 law that gives presidents wide authority to deploy the military within the U.S. to respond to a rebellion.
GOP Lawmakers Vote Remotely More Often After Initial Scorn
Yahoo News – Alan Fram (Associated Press) | Published: 4/20/2022
More than 50 Republicans who once joined a lawsuit claiming the House’s pandemic-era proxy voting was unconstitutional have themselves voted by proxy this year, remotely without showing up. Across the aisle, U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele, a Hawaiian Airlines pilot, has used proxy votes on all but five of this year’s 125 roll calls. Three of his Democratic colleagues have used the proxy procedure for every vote. They are among 303 lawmakers of both parties who have cast votes by proxy at least once this year.
Lee Worked Hard to Overturn Election, Keep Trump in Power, Texts Show
MSN – Mariana Alfaro (Washington Post) | Published: 4/15/2022
U.S. Sen. Mike Lee worked furiously to overturn the 2020 election and keep then-President Trump in power before ultimately abandoning the effort when no evidence of widespread fraud surfaced and his outreach to states for alternate electors proved futile. Lee sent texts to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Lee makes clear he was working hard to assist Trump, saying in one text that he was spending “14 hours a day” on the effort and contacting state lawmakers seeking anything to give Congress a reason not to count the electoral votes for Biden and affirm his win.
Lobbying Heavy Hitters See Earnings Boom in First Quarter
MSN – Karl Evers-Hillstrom (The Hill) | Published: 4/20/2022
K Street’s largest lobbying firms reported big earnings in the first three months of 2022 as the industry set its sights on a packed legislative calendar leading up to November’s midterms. Most of Washington’s top lobbying firms had their best first quarter on record and fell just short of last year’s extraordinary fourth-quarter revenues that capped off a record-breaking year for K Street.
RNC Votes to Withdraw from Presidential Debates Commission
MSN – Amy Wang (Washington Post) | Published: 4/14/2022
The Republican National Committee (RNC) voted unanimously to withdraw from the Commission on Presidential Debates, following through on threats to bar GOP presidential nominees from participating in debates sponsored by the nonprofit organization. The RNC has accused the commission, which was repeatedly attacked by Donald Trump, of being biased in favor of Democrats. The bipartisan commission, which was established in 1987 and has hosted the debates since 1988, has rejected the charge.
These Lawyers and Firms Are Still Working with Russian Banks, Even Amid the War
MSN – Hailey Fuchs (Politico) | Published: 4/15/2022
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a host of lobbyists and law firms cut their ties with business entities tied to the Kremlin. But some lawyers are still on the Russian payroll, helping entities navigate the sanctions put in place because of the conflict. Erich Ferrari, a sanctions lawyer based in Washington, said he has taken new work for Russian individuals and corporations recently sanctioned by the Biden administration. His work, he maintains, is entirely legal and not subject to public disclosure under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
Canada – Lobbying Loophole Leaves B.C. Government Wide Open to Ethical Problems: Expert
North Shore News – Bob Mackin | Published: 4/18/2022
British Columbia’s New Democratic Party government ended the “wild west” of political campaign financing after it came to power in 2017 but left the door wide open to lobbying by party friends and insiders. Premier John Horgan’s party fulfilled a campaign promise to ban corporate and union donations and set an annual cap for individuals. They also strengthened lobbying regulations but did not go far enough to close the “revolving door,” said Daniel Gold, who studied the history and regulation of lobbying for a doctorate at the University of Ottawa.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey Signs Bill Prohibiting Public Spending on Union Activities
Ballotpedia News – Janie Valentine | Published: 4/15/2022
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed Senate Bill 1166 into law, prohibiting public-sector employers from spending public funds on a union’s political or lobbying activities. The bill defines union activities as “political activities performed by a union that involve advocating for the election or defeat of any political candidate” and “lobbying activities performed by a union that involve attempting to influence the passage or defeat of federal or state legislation, local ordinances, or any ballot measure.” It prohibits public employers from providing paid leave or other compensation while an employee performs such activities.
California – California Fire Victims Lobbyist Is Out Amid Sex Scandal
MSN – Associated Press | Published: 4/20/2022
Patrick McCallum, a lobbyist hired to secure a state loan to help tens of thousands of victims of devastating California wildfires, is leaving his job with the PG&E Fire Victim Trust amid a sexual harassment scandal. It was reported that McCallum’s wife, Sonoma State University President Judy Sakaki, retaliated against a former school provost for reporting complaints by female university employees that McCallum had sexually harassed them during a party at his house.
California – City of Industry’s Confidentiality Could Sink Criminal Case Against Its Former City Manager, Experts Say
San Gabriel Valley News – Jason Henry (Pasadena Star News) | Published: 4/19/2022
The City of Industry has repeatedly prevented the testimony of witnesses in the criminal hearing of former City Manager Paul Philips and may end up creating an opening for Philips’ defense team to argue their client cannot receive a fair trial on corruption charges. Experts say the judge in Philips’ case could dismiss the misappropriation of public funds charge against the former administrator as a last resort if the court is unable to find a balance between Philips’ constitutional right to a fair trial and Industry’s statutory right to prevent the public disclosure of confidential discussions protected by attorney-client and closed session privileges.
Colorado – Colorado Legislature Passes Bill Limiting Campaign Contributions to School Board Candidates
Aurora Sentinel – Carina Julig | Published: 4/13/2022
Following a cycle of school board elections with record-breaking campaign contributions, Colorado law now dictates the amount of money that individual donors and groups can give to school board candidates. The new law caps individual contributions to $2,500 and small donor committee contributions to $25,000 per candidate. It will not limit spending by independent expenditure committees.
Georgia – Judge Denies Abrams Bid to Seek Unlimited Contributions
Yahoo News – Kate Brumback (Associated Press) | Published: 4/14/2022
A federal judge ruled Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams cannot immediately begin raising and spending unlimited campaign contributions under a state law passed last year because she is not yet her party’s nominee. Abrams and her campaign challenged the constitutionality of the new law, which allows certain top elected officials and party nominees to create leadership committees that can raise campaign funds without limits. But they also asked the judge to order the state ethics commission not to take any action against them if they continue to raise money before the May primary.
Georgia – Legal Effort to Remove Greene from Ga. Ballot Can Proceed, Judge Rules
MSN – Eugene Scott (Washington Post) | Published: 4/19/2022
A federal judge ruled a group of Georgia voters can proceed with their legal effort to disqualify U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene from running for reelection because of her role in the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. Free Speech for People, a national election and campaign finance reform group, filed the challenge with the Georgia secretary of state’s office, alleging Greene helped facilitate the violent insurrection aimed at preventing Congress from confirming Joe Biden’s win. The challenge claims Greene’s actions violate a provision of the 14th Amendment and thus makes her ineligible to run for reelection.
Georgia – Perdue’s Senate Campaign Disclosures Under Scrutiny
Axios Atlanta – Emma Hurt | Published: 4/21/2022
The Georgia ethics commission is evaluating whether former U.S. Sen. David Perdue violated state law by spending some of his leftover Senate campaign funds on his governor’s race. Georgia law allows federal campaign money to be spent on state campaigns only up to the $7,600 limit. Federal disclosure reports show Perdue paid nearly $24,000 for “management consulting” to AJ Strategies. The latest gubernatorial disclosures do not show payments to AJ Strategies. It is a longtime vendor of Perdue’s, but this year the description of its services changed from “fundraising consulting” to “management consulting.”
Hawaii – Commission Recommends Prosecution in Falsified Campaign Donations Case
Honolulu Civil Beat – Blaze Lovell | Published: 4/20/2022
A development company executive could be facing criminal penalties over allegations he made illegal donations to Honolulu mayoral candidates in 2020. The Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission voted to forward an investigation into the contributions from JL Capital Chief Executive Officer Timothy Lee to the state attorney general’s office for further investigation. Commission staff allege Lee illegally used employees to funnel money to the mayoral campaigns of Keith Amemiya and Kymberly Pine in 2020. Lee is accused of eight counts of false name contributions, punishable by up to five years in prison.
Hawaii – Documents Show US Rep. Kai Kahele Has a Special Deal with Hawaiian Airlines
Honolulu Civil Beat – Nick Grube | Published: 4/15/2022
U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele is benefiting from a unique arrangement with Hawaiian Airlines that has allowed him to work and earn income as a part-time pilot while also serving in Congress. After Kahele was elected in November 2020, Hawaiian Airlines and the Air Line Pilots Association crafted a new leave policy that would allow him to maintain his flight status, seniority, and longevity with the company while he represented Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District. Kahele seems to be the only person within the company who qualifies for the benefit.
Illinois – Former Oakbrook Terrace Mayor Anthony Ragucci Charged in Red Light Camera Bribery Scheme
WBBM – Todd Feurer | Published: 4/18/2022
Former Oakbrook Terrace Mayor Anthony Ragucci is facing federal corruption charges, accused of taking thousands of dollars in payoffs in exchange for allowing red light cameras in the Chicago suburb. Ragucci, who resigned in January 2020 amid published reports of a federal investigation of the city’s red light camera contract, has been charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of filing a false tax return.
Indiana – Casino Executive Admits Funneling Cash to Indy GOP, Pleads Guilty to Tax Fraud
MSN – Tony Cook (Indianapolis Star) | Published: 4/18/2022
Casino executive and former Indiana lawmaker John Keeler pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of filing a false tax return in connection with a scheme to secretly funnel casino money to a Marion County Republican Party PAC. The guilty plea came one hour before Keeler’s trial was scheduled to begin and a week after his co-defendant, former state Sen. Brent Waltz, pleaded guilty. Keeler’s guilty plea is the latest develop in multi-year federal public corruption investigation involving New Centaur LLC, which owned Indiana’s only horse track-casinos until 2018. Keeler was the company’s vice president and general counsel.
Iowa – Iowa Supreme Court Rules Democrat Abby Finkenauer Can Be on Senate Primary Ballot
MSN – Felicia Sonmez and David Weigel (Washington Post) | Published: 4/15/2022
The Iowa Supreme Court ruled former U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer can appear on the Democratic primary ballot in the state’s Senate race, overturning a judge’s decision that she had not qualified because of issues with her nomination petition. Finkenauer is a top Democratic recruit in the race against longtime U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley. Republicans sought to knock Finkenauer off the ballot by challenging three signatures – one without a date, one with an incorrect date, and one where the signer wrote a Zip code instead of a date.
Maryland – A Growing Trend: More Black women among Annapolis lobbying corps
Maryland Matters – Elizabeth Shwe | Published: 4/15/2022
As the first Black woman to own and manage a law practice focused on lobbying and government relations in Maryland, Lisa Harris Jones is known as a trailblazer in Annapolis, inspiring other Black women to enter the field and helping open doors. But it did not come without condescension from the “old boys club” at the time, Harris Jones said. When she was thinking of opening her own law practice, a white male lobbyist laughed at the idea, she said. “It actually put the fire in me to go out on my own and start my practice,” Harris Jones said.
Maryland – Baltimore County Council Chairman Violated Policy with Emails Linking to Campaign Contribution Page, Inspector General Says
Yahoo News – Alison Knezevich (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 4/20/2022
Baltimore County Council Chairperson Julian Jones violated county policy when some of his official emails to constituents included a “donate” button for his political campaign, an investigation by the county inspector general found. The emails were sent using a third-party email marketing service and transmitted through a private computer server. But they used one of Jones’ county email addresses in the “from” line, and replies to those emails went through a county computer server. The report cites policy prohibiting the use of county email for anything other than “county business.”
Maryland – Baltimore Prosecutor Marilyn Mosby’s Annual Ethics Disclosure Lists No Donations to Her Legal Defense Fund
MSN – Alex Mann (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 4/14/2022
Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby filed her latest state ethics disclosure, reporting no gifts to a legal defense fund established for her and her husband, Baltimore City Council President Nick Mosby. The fund was created so the couple could defend themselves against a federal criminal tax investigation. Prominent supporters and community leaders have encouraged contributions, posting on Facebook and appearing at news conferences but whether anyone has donated remains a mystery. The submitted form should denote any donations from several key types of people outlined by state regulations.
Michigan – Michigan State Senator Hits Back at GOP Colleague Accusing Her of ‘Grooming’ Kids
Yahoo News – Christopher Wilson | Published: 4/20/2022
In a recent speech, Michigan Sen. Mallory McMorrow condemned a political attack by Sen. Lana Theis. She responded to accusations made in a fundraising email by Theis that McMorrow wants to “groom and sexualize kindergartners.” Republicans have attempted to position themselves as the party of parental rights, with state Legislatures across the country introducing a series of bills targeting the LGBTQ community, with those opposing the legislation being labeled as “groomers.” McMorrow’s speech was viewed over 9 million times in less than 24 hours since she posted it on Twitter.
Nebraska – GOP State Senator, Seven Other Women Say Charles Herbster Groped Them; He Denies Allegations
Nebraska Examiner – Aaron Sandeford | Published: 4/14/2022
Eight women, including state Sen. Julie Slama, accused Nebraska gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster of sexual misconduct. Six women said Herbster touched them inappropriately. A seventh woman said he once cornered her privately and kissed her forcibly. Herbster has denied the allegations. All of Slama’s 12 female colleagues rallied behind the senator in a statement. They said the allegations render Herbster “unfit to serve.” Three of the women said they were concerned about their careers if they reported the behavior. Several said they feared Herbster’s wealth and power.
New Jersey – Many NJ Lawmakers Make Money from Local Government Contracts. Experts Say Disclosure Is Key
Bergen Record – Katie Sobko | Published: 4/18/2022
Municipal and county contracts for the law firm of Rainone Coughlin Minchello have grown from to more than $6.6 million in 2021. During that time, New Jersey Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, a founding member of the firm, has become one of the most powerful Democrats in the state. The firm’s political contributions have also grown. In 2021, they were among the top ten donors among contractors. Coughlin and his firm are continuing a tradition of close contact between Trenton and local government. The contracts and contributions are legal, as long as the firm follows the state’s “pay-to-play” laws and publicly discloses the amounts.
New Jersey – One of N.J.’s Oldest Political Traditions Was Canceled Again This Year. Will the ‘Chamber Train’ Come Back?
MSN – Susan Livio and Kelly Heyboer (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 4/15/2022
For more than 80 years, New Jersey lawmakers, business leaders, and lobbyists boarded a row of Amtrak train cars to drink, talk, and schmooze in one of the state’s quirkiest political traditions. The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce’s annual “Walk to Washington” – better known as the Chamber Train – attracted hundreds willing to pay for a chance to meet some of the state’s most powerful people. But that all ended when the pandemic hit. The group canceled its event in 2022, for the second year in a row. Some are asking if the Chamber Train will return.
New Mexico – Democratic Lawmaker’s Campaign Contributions to Colleagues’ Opponents Spark Friction
Santa Fe New Mexican – Daniel Chacón | Published: 4/20/2022
New Mexico Rep. Patty Lundstrom is facing a backlash over her campaign donations to challengers running against four Democratic incumbents in the House. Rep. Gail Chasey said it is atypical for sitting lawmakers to support their colleagues’ opponents. “I understand she’s drawing a distinction between the money we raise for the general election as a caucus and these contributions, but I haven’t experienced this before,” Chasey said.
New Mexico – Santa Fe’s Transparency Regulations Withstand Final Appeal as U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Case
Santa Fe New Mexican – Staff and Associated Press | Published: 4/18/2022
The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the Rio Grande Foundation’s challenge of Santa Fe’s campaign disclosure requirements in a case stemming from a failed city ballot initiative in 2017 that would have imposed a tax on sugar-laden beverages. The decision upholds a U.S. District Court ruling in favor of the city, which now prohibits organizations that spend more than $500 on political campaigning from shielding details about financial contributions.
New York – Ethics, Transparency, Campaign Finance, and Voting in the New State Budget
Gotham Gazette – Ethan Geringer-Sameth | Published: 4/19/2022
A new state ethics commission is one of several measures related to government ethics and accountability, voting, and campaign finance reform included in the $220 billion state budget that New York lawmakers adopted. They include funding to launch the statewide public-matching campaign finance system previously crafted by lawmakers, and steps to make voting more accessible. But other long-sought measures, like restoring some of the comptroller’s contracting oversight, were left out, while questions remain about some of the details of the policies that were included.
New York – Ex-Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison
New York Post – Priscilla DeGregory | Published: 4/14/2022
Former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano was sentenced to 12 years in prison for accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from a restaurateur. His wife Linda, who was convicted of helping to cover up the corrupt arrangement, was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment. Edward Mangano was convicted of accepting bribes and kickbacks from Harendra Singh, including five paid vacations, an expensive watch, hardwood flooring for his home, a $3,600 vibrating chair, and a $100,000 per year no-show job for Linda Mangano.
Ohio – Dark Money Helped Ohio Utilities Subsidize Coal Plants, Delaying Action on Climate Change at Ratepayers’ Expense
Energy News Network – Kathiann Kowalski | Published: 4/18/2022
It has been three years since Ohio lawmakers first introduced the power plant bailout legislation that is now at the heart of the largest corruption case in state history. Since House Bill 6 passed, an FBI investigation has revealed a $60 million bribery scheme, leading to admissions by FirstEnergy, a utility company central to the scandal, and guilty pleas from three defendants in a federal criminal case. Beyond that, accountability has been slow to come, and HB 6, which also eviscerated the state’s clean energy standards, remains on the books. The scandal shows how utility, fossil fuel, and nuclear interests have framed Ohio energy policy, even when that policy conflicts with voter preferences on renewable energy.
Ohio – Federal Judges Will Pick Rejected Maps If Redistricting Leaders Don’t Act by May 28
Yahoo News – Jessie Balmert (Cincinnati Enquirer) | Published: 4/20/2022
Federal judges will pick state House and Senate maps rejected by the Ohio Supreme Court if the state’s leaders do not draw constitutional alternatives by May 28. If they do not pick an acceptable map, the federal judges will order an August 2 primary using maps approved by Republicans on the Ohio Redistricting Commission in February and later rejected by the state Supreme Court. The Redistricting Commission has yet to approve a map the Ohio Supreme Court says meets anti-gerrymandering requirements in the state constitution.
Ohio – FirstEnergy Ordered to Turn Over HB6-Related Documents to Customer Watchdog in Coming Weeks
MSN – Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 4/20/2022
FirstEnergy must turn over thousands of documents regarding the House Bill 6 scandal it provided to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) by May 22, months earlier than the company wanted, Public Utilities Commission of Ohio judges ruled. The FERC audit found FirstEnergy improperly accounted for part of the approximately $71 million used to lobby for the scandal-ridden energy bill and ordered it to draw up plans to issue customer refunds. The judges said FirstEnergy must also give the office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel a subset of documents relating to lobbying expenses, donations, and costs “that lacked proper supporting documentation.”
Pennsylvania – Judge Declares a Mistrial in Philadelphia Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson Trial
WHYY – Aaron Moselle | Published: 4/19/2022
A judge declared a mistrial after the jury remained deadlocked in the federal bribery trial of Philadelphia City Councilperson Kenyatta Johnson. The decision comes a day after the panel indicated it was having trouble reaching a unanimous verdict. The outcome followed more than three weeks of testimony that threatened to end Johnson’s political career and send him and three co-defendants to prison. The trial was the second involving a sitting member of council within the past year. Councilperson Bobby Henon was convicted of bribery and conspiracy alongside powerful labor leader John Dougherty.
Tennessee – Court Finds Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance Guilty of Contempt
Tennesse Lookout – Jamie Satterfield | Published: 4/19/2022
A judge deemed the Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance guilty of “willfully” violating a court order barring the collection of registration fees from nonpartisan PACs. Senior Judge Thomas Wright ruled the state agency defied his injunction issued in 2018 and upheld by the Tennessee Court of Appeals a year late against collecting fees under a law the judge and the appellate court concluded was unconstitutional. Wright ordering the registry to refund $64,000 in registration fees.
Tennessee – Ethics Reform Bill Passes Senate Despite Barrage of Complaints from Dark-Money Groups
MSN – Adam Friedman (Tennessean) | Published: 4/14/2022
Tennessee lawmakers are poised to pass an ethics and campaign finance reform bill, despite strong opposition from “dark-money” organizations. Nonprofit political spending organizations have decried the bill as government overreach because it will require them to disclose spending around an election. The legislation that passed the state Senate would require these groups to disclose any expenses over $5,000 in the 60 days leading up to an election when using candidate names and images.
Wisconsin – Wisconsin Supreme Court Chooses Maps Drawn by Republicans in New Redistricting Decision
Wisconsin Public Radio – Shawn Johnson | Published: 4/15/2022
The Wisconsin Supreme Court chose a legislative redistricting plan drawn by Republican state lawmakers, handing the GOP a major victory and giving the party’s candidates for the Legislature an even bigger advantage over the next decade. Swing Justice Brian Hagedorn joined the court’s conservatives to cast the deciding vote. Hagedorn wrote that given the directive from the U.S. Supreme Court, the state justices’ options for choosing a new map were limited.
April 15, 2022 •
National/Federal Before Giving Billions to Jared Kushner, Saudi Investment Fund Had Big Doubts Yahoo News – David Kirkpatrick and Kate Kelly (New York Times) | Published: 4/10/2022 Six months after leaving the White House, Jared Kushner secured a $2 billion investment […]
Before Giving Billions to Jared Kushner, Saudi Investment Fund Had Big Doubts
Yahoo News – David Kirkpatrick and Kate Kelly (New York Times) | Published: 4/10/2022
Six months after leaving the White House, Jared Kushner secured a $2 billion investment from a fund led by the Saudi crown prince, a close ally during the Trump administration, despite objections from the fund’s advisers about the merits of the deal. But the full board of the Public Investment Fund overruled the panel. Ethics experts say such a deal creates the appearance of potential payback for Kushner’s actions in the White House, or of a bid for future favor if Trump seeks and wins another presidential term in 2024.
Campaign Finance Watchdog Issues Massive Fine for Foreign National’s Trump Super PAC Donation
MSN – Zach Montellaro and Myah Ward (Politico) | Published: 4/8/2022
The FEC issued the third-largest fine in its history for companies of a Canadian billionaire for contributions to a super PAC supporting then-President Trump after the agency found “reason to believe” the donations violated a federal law on foreign nationals contributing to American political committees or campaigns. Companies controlled by Barry Zekelman agreed to pay $975,000 to close an investigation by the FEC into $1.75 million worth of donations made to America First Action, the pro-Trump super PAC, throughout 2018.
Crypto Industry Helps Write, and Pass, Its Own Agenda in State Capitols
Seattle Times – Eric Lipton and David Yaffee-Bellany (New York Times) | Published: 4/10/2022
Across the nation, cryptocurrency executives and lobbyists are helping to draft bills to benefit the fast-growing industry, then pushing lawmakers to adopt these made-to-order laws before moving rapidly to profit from the legislative victories. The effort is part of an emerging national strategy by the industry, in the absence of comprehensive federal regulatory demands, to work state by state to engineer a more friendly legal system. Lobbyists are aiming to clear the way for the continued explosive growth of cryptocurrency companies, which are trying to revolutionize banking, e-commerce, and even art and music.
DNC Sets Off Free-for-All to Remake Presidential Calendar
Yahoo News – Elena Schneider (Politico) | Published: 4/13/2022
The Democratic National Committee is officially reopening its presidential nominating process, upending the current calendar led by Iowa and New Hampshire and requiring them and any other interested states to apply for early-state status in 2024. The influential perch guarantees candidates, attention, and money flow into those states during national campaigns, and gives voters there an outsize say in picking presidents.
DOJ Plans to Investigate Boxes of Records Taken to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago
MSN – Matt Zapotosky and Jacqueline Alemany (Washington Post) | Published: 4/7/2022
The Justice Department has begun taking steps to investigate former President Trump’s removal of presidential records to Mar-a-Lago, some of which were labeled “top secret.” Sources said the probe remained in the very early stages. The department is facing increasing political pressure to disclose its plans in the case. House Oversight Committee Chairperson Carolyn Maloney has accused the Justice Department of obstructing her committee’s investigation into the 15 boxes of records Trump took to his estate in Palm Beach.
In Conference Call Before Riot, a Plea to ‘Descend on the Capitol’
Yahoo News – Alan Feuer (New York Times) | Published: 4/12/2022
One week before an angry mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, a communications expert named Jason Sullivan, a onetime aide to Roger Stone, joined a conference call with a group of then-President Trump’s supporters and made an urgent plea. After assuring his listeners the 2020 election had been stolen, Sullivan told them they had to go to Washington on January 6, 2021, the day that Congress was to meet to finalize the electoral count, and “descend on the Capitol.” The recording of the call emerged as the Justice Department has expanded its criminal probe of the attack.
Inside ‘the Next Big Political Frontier’ of State Supreme Court Races
Yahoo News – Grace Panetta (Business Insider) | Published: 4/9/2022
The 2022 midterm elections have the fewest competitive congressional races in recent memory, thanks in part to both parties drawing themselves safer districts to lock in their majorities in the redistricting cycle. But races to elect state Supreme Court judges, which will play a critical role in drawing political maps and shaping the balance of power, are political battlefields. The conservative supermajority on the U.S. Supreme Court has prompted progressive litigators to bring more consequential and politically contentious cases to state courts.
Jan. 6 Panel Has Evidence for Criminal Referral of Trump, but Splits on Sending
Yahoo News – Michael Schmidt and Luke Broadwater (New York Times) | Published: 4/10/2022
The leaders of the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack have grown divided over whether to make a criminal referral to the Justice Department of former President Trump, even though they have concluded they have enough evidence to do so, people involved in the discussions said. The debate centers on whether making a referral – a largely symbolic act – would backfire by politically tainting the department’s expanding investigation into the January 6 assault and what led up to it.
Nonprofit Pledges $80 Million for Local Election Administration
MSN – Amy Gardner (Washington Post) | Published: 4/12/2022
The founder of a nonprofit that has become a target of Republican ire for funneling hundreds of millions of dollars to election administrators in 2020 announced her organization will spearhead a similar new effort starting this year. Tiana Epps-Johnson, who leads the Center for Tech and Civic Life, said the new U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence would send $80 million in the next five years to election departments across the country in need of basic funding for equipment replacement and other resources.
Partisan ‘Doom Loop’? The Answer Is More Parties, This Group Says
MSN – Jim Saska (Roll Call) | Published: 4/8/2022
A new advocacy group, Fix Our House, argues the only way to break America out of its political “doom loop where voters in each party see each other as enemies” is to change the way elections work – specifically, elections to the U.S. House. It believes proportional representation is the key to ending gerrymandering, breaking up congressional deadlock, and reducing partisan divisions. The group argues the nation is being driven to political extremes by an electoral system that might have worked before cable news, social media, super PACs, and modern campaigning but now rewards those who promise to burn it all down.
Records of Foreign Gifts Given to Trump and Pence in 2020 Are Missing, State Department Says
MSN – Alia Shoaib (Business Insider) | Published: 4/9/2022
The Trump administration did not provide information about gifts from foreign governments in 2020 received by former President Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence, and other White House officials, the State Department said. As a result, the department said it could not compile a complete and accurate accounting of gifts received by Trump, his family, and other officials during his final year in office.
From the States and Municipalities
Alabama – Selma Is Tired of Being Just a Symbol – They Want Change
MSN – Emmanuel Fenton (Washington Post) | Published: 4/11/2022
On March 7, 1965, more than 500 demonstrators marched in Selma, Alabama, to protest policies designed to keep Black people from voting. When they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge, they were met by state troopers who attacked them with bully clubs. Selma has become an annual stopover for politicians looking to bolster their civil rights bona fides. To mark the anniversary of what became known as Bloody Sunday, the city hosts the Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee. But aside from the infusion of tourist dollars and fleeting national media attention, Selma feels like a city left behind, with little to show for its vaulted place in America’s civil rights history.
Alaska – Lawsuit Challenges Alaska Campaign Disclosure Rules
Alaska Public Media – Becky Bohrer (Associated Press) | Published: 4/7/2022
Political donors sued over campaign finance rules enacted under a 2020 voter initiative in Alaska, arguing the disclosure rules are burdensome and could lead to reprisals against them and their business interests in a climate of “cancel culture.” Provisions of the measure calling for open primaries and ranked choice voting in general elections were challenged previously in state courts and upheld.
California – BART May Need to Void $40-Million Contract After Potential Conflict of Interest Found, Inspector General Says
Yahoo News – Alex Wigglesworth (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 4/9/2022
The Bay Area Rapid Transit agency may be required to void a $40-million construction management contract after an investigation revealed a potential conflict-of-interest between a manager who played a role in making and administering the contract and the firm to which it was awarded. Inspector General Harriet Richardson said she began the investigation after receiving evidence the manager used to work for the construction management firm, and the manager’s spouse and sibling still worked for the firm.
California – Corruption Probe Ends in Ex-San Mateo County Community College District Chancellor’s Arrest
MSN – Jason Green (Bay Area News Group) | Published: 4/12/2022
An investigation into allegations of corruption against leaders of the San Mateo County Community College District came to a head with the arrest of a former chancellor on 21 felony counts including tax fraud and theft of public funds. Prosecutors allege Ronald Galatolo, with the help of former Vice Chancellor of Facilities Jose Nunez, directed construction projects to be awarded to companies from whom he had received and continued to receive gifts, including concert tickets and international travel, and with whom he shared financial interests.
California – S.F.’s Environmental Official Resigns Over Alleged $25,000 Donation
San Francisco Examiner – Adam Shanks and Jessica Wolfrom | Published: 4/7/2022
San Francisco’s top environmental official abruptly resigned amid scrutiny about her alleged solicitation of a donation from Recology for her department. Department of the Environment Director Debbie Raphael’s resignation came two days after a news story revealed the gift. It was reported Raphael solicited a $25,000 donation from Recology at the same time the waste management company was inking a city contract to haul trash to its Solano County landfill in 2015.
Florida – Florida Legislators Give DeSantis Their Power to Draw House Map
MSN – Colby Itkowitz and Lori Rozsa (Washington Post) | Published: 4/11/2022
The Republican-held Florida Legislature will not redraw its congressional map, yielding its redistricting role to Gov. Ron DeSantis to draft a version he will sign. The decision is the latest turn in an unprecedented fissure between the governor and the Legislature. The move followed DeSantis’s call for a special session to draw the House map.
Georgia – Judge Questions Abrams Suit Seeking Unlimited Contributions
Yahoo News – Jeff Amy (Associated Press) | Published: 4/11/2022
A federal judge expressed skepticism that he can give Stacey Abrams the immediate right to begin raising and spending unlimited campaign contributions under Georgia law. U.S. District Court Judge Mark Cohen told a lawyer for Abrams’ gubernatorial campaign she was asking him to rewrite state law to allow Abrams’ One Georgia committee to start taking money before the May 24 primary.
Georgia – With Biden’s Voting Rights Push Stalled, Georgia Activists Regroup
MSN – Matthew Brown (Washington Post) | Published: 4/11/2022
For months, Georgia voting rights advocates and faith leaders warned a new state law would drastically suppress minority turnout and pleaded with Congress to enshrine protections. But with no signs of progress in President Biden’s push for voting rights bills, those groups are now confronting a new challenge: how to turn out voters despite the restrictions passed by state Republicans in the wake of Biden’s upset win there.
Illinois – Emails Show Valencia Promoted Smart City Development While Her Lobbyist Husband Profited from It
WCIA – Mark Maxwell | Published: 4/7/2022
Over the course of several years, official and personal correspondence shows Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia spent a significant portion of her time in office paving the way for projects that directly benefited her husband, Reyahd Kazmi, who is a registered lobbyist. Kazmi omitted key information from ethics forms and funneled payments between various entities in a manner that hid much of that information from public scrutiny. In one case, Valencia at times used text messages and personal and government email accounts to discuss investment strategies for a development project that involved Kazmi’s clients.
Illinois – Session Recap: Lawmakers pass limits on campaign contributions in judicial races
Capitol News Illinois – Peter Hancock | Published: 4/12/2022
This year’s races for seats on the Illinois Supreme Court, as well as other judicial contests, could come under a new set of campaign finance rules aimed at limiting how much money candidates could raise from so-called dark money sources and from individual donors. The bill still needs approval from Gov. JB Pritzker. It would take effect immediately, meaning it would be in effect for the 2022 election cycle, upon his signature. The bill also makes a change to self-funded campaigns, limiting how much any individual, other than candidates and their immediate family members, may give to a judicial campaign.
Indiana – ‘I Plead Guilty’: Former Indiana GOP Sen. Brent Waltz admits role in straw donor scheme
Yahoo News – Tony Cook (Indianapolis Star) | Published: 4/11/2022
Former Indiana Sen. Brent Waltz admitted in federal court he participated in a scheme to funnel $40,500 in illegal donations to his failed campaign for Congress in 2015. Under an agreement with prosecutors, Waltz pleaded guilty to making and receiving conduit contributions and making false statements to the FBI. The plea agreement comes just one week before Waltz and John Keeler, another former lawmaker turned casino executive, were scheduled to go to trial. Prosecutors say the illegal campaign contributions were fueled with cash from one of Indiana’s largest casino operators, Centaur Gaming.
Maryland – Maryland Appeals Court Upholds State’s Legislative Redistricting Map
MSN – Ovetta Wiggins (Washington Post) | Published: 4/13/2022
Maryland’s highest court upheld the legislative redistricting map approved by the General Assembly in March, rejecting arguments made by Republicans that the map was unfair and gerrymandered. The decision from the Court of Appeals ends a legal challenge that upended the state election calendar and settles uncertainty over when voters will make selections for local, state, and congressional races.
Maryland – Prince George’s School Board Ethics Panel to Resign En Masse
MSN – Nicole Asbury (Washington Post) | Published: 4/13/2022
All members of the Prince George’s County Board of Education’s ethics panel resigned, almost a year after producing reports critical of some board members and causing mass dissension in the county. The panel’s chairperson, Gregory Morton Sr., wrote the en masse resignation was because members faced an “unanticipated, disruptive impact” to their personal and professional lives through the course of their term. The ethics panel authored error-riddled reports that targeted a more liberal majority of the board’s elected members, including accusations of steering contracts, doing political favors, and engaging in a quid pro quo with a labor union.
Michigan – Jury Acquits Two in Michigan Governor Kidnap Plot; Deadlocks on Two Others
MSN – Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 4/8/2022
A jury acquitted two men of conspiring to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and deadlocked on the counts against two others, apparently agreeing to some degree with defense claims that FBI agents entrapped the men in a violent plot shortly before the 2020 election. The trial was closely watched as a test of the federal government’s ramped-up efforts to combat domestic terrorism, and the verdict is a partial defeat for the Justice Department. The men’s arrest raised alarms about the possibility of politically motivated violence as the nation was increasingly divided over the presidential race.
Michigan – Legislation Aims to Prohibit Fundraising Loophole Used by Gov. Whitmer
MLive.com – Samuel Robinson | Published: 4/13/2022
A bill that would set legal definitions for what is considered an active recall effort in Michigan was debated before the House Ethics and Elections Committee. House Bill 5910 would require a recall candidate to form a committee within 10 days after becoming a candidate. The account would not need to be established until the recall committee receives a contribution or makes an expenditure. The legislation, which has bipartisan support, comes in response to a fundraising loophole used last year by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Minnesota – Elephants in the Room? Bill Language Would Ban Private Clubs for Lawmakers, Lobbyists Proposed by GOP Campaign Committee
MinnPost – Peter Callaghan | Published: 4/7/2022
A Minnesota bill would close the door to an exclusive political club that never actually opened. One sentence in the omnibus bill, Senate File 975, would ban contributions to any club set up by a political committee of a candidate or a political caucus of the Legislature that provides access to lawmakers. State law prohibits contributions to lawmakers during legislative sessions. But a mysterious request made to the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board suggested a loophole around that ban: charging membership dues to a club that provides access to Capitol decision-makers.
Mississippi – Ethics Complaint Filed After Reporter Barred from House GOP Caucus Meeting
Mississippi Today – Adam Ganucheau | Published: 4/13/2022
The Mississippi Center for Justice filed a formal ethics complaint on behalf of reporter Nick Judin, who was barred entry from a House Republican Caucus meeting in March. Major pieces of legislation authored or supported by Republican leaders, including House Speaker Philip Gunn, are often discussed and debated inside the backroom meetings. Many observers question whether the caucus meetings violate the state’s Open Meetings Act because the caucus consists of well more than half of the entire House body. The caucus meetings had never been challenged before the Ethics Commission or state courts.
New Jersey – With Revelation of Racist Recordings, Prosecutors Face Scrutiny Over Their Handling of Investigation
MSN – Riley Yates and S.P. Sullivan (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 4/7/2022
At the height of racial justice protests over the murder of George Floyd, Union County prosecutors seized control of Clark Township’s police department, citing “credible allegations of misconduct” by its leadership, and vowing to restore public trust. But in announcing the takeover in July 2020, neither county prosecutors nor the New Jersey attorney general’s office said what they were investigating. Now, criminal justice experts and community advocates are asking why. The question follows revelations that Clark’s mayor, police chief, and an internal affairs sergeant were secretly recorded using racial slurs. The township paid a whistleblower and his attorney $400,000 in a settlement to conceal the allegations.
New York – Buffalo Officers Can Return to Duty After Pushing 75-Year-Old Protester
MSN – Julian Mark (Washington Post) | Published: 4/11/2022
In June 2020, two Buffalo police officers pushed a 75-year-old human rights demonstrator, causing him to fall backward, hit his head on the sidewalk, and lie motionless while bleeding from his head. Graphic video of the incident circulated widely, and the two officers were suspended from the department. Now, Robert McCabe and Aaron Torgalski will be allowed to start working again, after an arbitrator concluded the two used “absolutely legitimate” force and did not violate department policies.
New York – Emails Reveal How Major Hochul Campaign Donors Seek Sway
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 4/10/2022
In response to a Freedom of Information Law request, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office provided the Albany Times Union with 161 pages of emails that offer a glimpse of how affluent campaign donors try to leverage that status to land high-level government access. A significant portion of Hochul’s campaign fundraising was facilitated through top lobbying firms, which held fundraisers that were exclusive to their clients. According to the donors’ accounts in the emails, Hochul did not discourage discussion of state business at these events and directed donors to connect with her campaign staff, which subsequently connected them to top state officials.
New York – New State Budget Includes New Ethics Commission
WBFO – Karen DeWitt | Published: 4/11/2022
The new state budget replaces New York’s troubled ethics commission with a new entity aimed at lowering the number of scandals in state government. But critics say the measure does not go far enough and could replicate some of the same problems the current commission created. The Joint Commission on Public Ethics JCOPE) will end in the new budget and be replaced with a new commission on ethics and lobbying in government. JCOPE was dominated by appointees from the governor’s office and had complicated voting rules.
New York – New York Lt. Gov. Benjamin Resigns After Indictment in Campaign Finance Scheme
Albany Times Union – Joshua Solomon and Chris Bragg | Published: 4/12/2022
New York Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin resigned after being charged with corruption offenses in an alleged scheme to trade state grants for campaign contributions. The charges stem from Benjamin’s time as a state senator and his unsuccessful run for New York City comptroller. He was seeking donations and public matching funds and enlisted the help of a developer to raise money and disguise its source. In exchange, prosecutors say Benjamin used his authority to try to steer $50,000 to a charitable group the developer controlled. Prosecutors allege Benjamin took steps to cover up his scheme when he was under consideration for lieutenant governor.
North Carolina – Mark Meadows Removed from N.C. Voter Rolls Amid Fraud Investigation
MSN – Amy Wang (Washington Post) | Published: 4/12/2022
Mark Meadows, President Trump’s White House chief of staff, has been removed from the voter rolls in North Carolina as the state investigates allegations that he committed voter fraud in the 2020 election. Meadows helped promote Trump’s baseless claims that widespread voter fraud delivered the presidency to Joe Biden. But the rhetoric about potential voter fraud have clashed with reports in recent weeks that Meadows registered to vote in 2020 using the address of a North Carolina mobile home he never stayed in.
Pennsylvania – Draft Bills and Late-Night Emails Reveal Cozy Ties Between Pa. State Lawmaker, Casino Lobbyists
PennLive.com – Angela Couloumbis (Spotlight PA) | Published: 4/11/2202
A bill introduced by state Sen. Tommy Tomlinson would ban thousands of unregulated gaming machines that have popped up in gas stations, convenience stores, bars, social clubs, and other establishments across Pennsylvania. The legislation was ghostwritten by the gaming industry. At the senator’s request, lobbyists and lawyers for Pennsylvania’s top-earning casino had drafted the bill, and the final text matched that version almost word-for-word. Emails between Tomlinson’s office and Parx Casino’s lobbyists offer a glimpse of the reach that lobbyists enjoy in the Legislature.
South Carolina – SC Developers Give Over the Legal Limit to Horry Candidates Through LLCs. Here’s How
The State – J. Dale Shumaker | Published: 4/13/2022
Developers have made contributions to Horry County Council candidates well over Soth Carolina’s $1,000-per-candidate-per-election-cycle limit. Some of those developers have given to the same candidates multiple times through limited liability companies, using a part of the state ethics law that allows businesses to donate to campaigns as individuals. Ethics experts said that while the practice of donating the maximum-allowed amount multiple times using separate companies is legal and common, it is an “unfortunate” pattern in South Carolina.
South Dakota – South Dakota House Votes to Impeach Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, 36-31
Yahoo News – Joe Sneve (Sioux Falls Argus Leader) | Published: 4/12/2022
The South Dakota House impeached state Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg over his conduct related to a 2020 automobile crash that killed a pedestrian. The vote defies a recommendation by a special investigative committee of lawmakers, who deemed Ravnsborg’s actions did not amount to impeachable offenses and triggers a trial in the Senate that will decide whether he will be forced out of office.
Tennessee – House Speaker Backs Ethics Bill to Bring Expenses ‘From the Dark into the Light’
Tennessee Lookout – Sam Stockard | Published: 4/13/2022
Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton extolled disclosure requirements in an ethics reform bill and questioned the motives of groups opposed to the legislation, mainly 501(c)4 organizations that can shower “dark money” on campaigns in the final two months of an election. Sexton made a rare appearance in the Local Government Committee where he defended a bill that would require tax-exempt groups that spend money to influence elections to report aggregate expenditures of $5,000 within 60 days of a campaign, among other provisions.
Virginia – Youngkin Vetoes Bipartisan Bills While Stoking Political Rancor
MSN – Laura Vozzella and Gregory Schneider (Washington Post) | Published: 4/12/2022
Virginia Gov. Genn Youngkin vetoed 25 bills that had bipartisan support in the General Assembly, throwing sharp elbows particularly at lawmakers who represent blue areas of Northern Virginia. He vetoed nine of the 10 bills sponsored by Sen. Adam Ebbin while signing identical House bills in six of those cases. Typically, a governor signs both versions, allowing both sponsors bragging rights for getting a bill passed into law. The vetoes were widely seen as payback for Senate Democrats’ refusal to confirm a handful of Youngkin appointments.
Wisconsin – Elections Commission Fines Election Denier $2,400 for Frivolous Voter Fraud Allegations
Madison.com – Mitchell Schmidt (Wisconsin State Journal) | Published: 4/7/2022
The Wisconsin Elections Commission fined an election denier who was previously convicted of making fraudulent claims to investors more than $2,400 for filing frivolous complaints of alleged voter fraud. Peter Bernegger, who was convicted in federal court in 2009 for making fraudulent claims to investors in his business, filed multiple claims of voter fraud with the commission earlier this year. He also presented his claims before the Assembly elections committee in February. State election officials later debunked many of what they described as “unverified, fantastical claims” of widespread election fraud, including several made by Bernegger.
Wyoming – Targeted: Lawmakers in the political crosshairs of Wyo Gun Owners
WyoFile – Mike Koshmrl | Published: 4/12/2022
Hundreds of text and phone messages, some threatening violence, were sent to state Sen. Larry Hicks over his bill on gun rights. The deluge was orchestrated by a group that has pushed controversial gun bills at the Legislature. The group, Wyoming Gun Owners, drew outrage from top lawmakers for its campaign tactics and were investigated by the state attorney general for failing to disclose its donors. A federal judge ruled the election law Wyoming Gun Owners was accused of breaking was itself unconstitutional.
April 14, 2022 •
Maine Gov. Mills signed Legislative Document 1754 amending the state’s major contributor disclosure law. The amendments exclude committees from the definition of major contributor and exclude certain funds from disclosure requirements. Major contributors will no longer need to disclose funds […]
Maine Gov. Mills signed Legislative Document 1754 amending the state’s major contributor disclosure law.
The amendments exclude committees from the definition of major contributor and exclude certain funds from disclosure requirements.
Major contributors will no longer need to disclose funds restricted to non-campaign uses; derived from the major contributor’s regular trade, business, or investment income; and provided by a source that contributed no more than $5,000 to the major contributor during the relevant reporting period.
The law also clarifies the penalties associated with noncompliance and provides a mechanism to request a waiver of the penalties.
Legislative Document 1754 will take effect 90 days after the adjournment of the current legislative session.
April 14, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Georgia: “Judge Questions Abrams Suit Seeking Unlimited Contributions” by Jeff Amy (Associated Press) for Yahoo News Illinois: “Session Recap: Lawmakers pass limits on campaign contributions in judicial races” by Peter Hancock for Capitol News Illinois South Carolina: “SC […]
Georgia: “Judge Questions Abrams Suit Seeking Unlimited Contributions” by Jeff Amy (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
Illinois: “Session Recap: Lawmakers pass limits on campaign contributions in judicial races” by Peter Hancock for Capitol News Illinois
South Carolina: “SC Developers Give Over the Legal Limit to Horry Candidates Through LLCs. Here’s How” by J. Dale Shumaker for The State
Tennessee: “House Speaker Backs Ethics Bill to Bring Expenses ‘From the Dark into the Light’” by Sam Stockard for Tennessee Lookout
North Carolina: “Mark Meadows Removed from N.C. Voter Rolls Amid Fraud Investigation” by Amy Wang (Washington Post) for MSN
Alabama: “Selma Is Tired of Being Just a Symbol – They Want Change” by Emmanuel Fenton (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “Corruption Probe Ends in Ex-San Mateo County Community College District Chancellor’s Arrest” by Jason Green (Bay Area News Group) for MSN
New York: “Buffalo Officers Can Return to Duty After Pushing 75-Year-Old Protester” by Julian Mark (Washington Post) for MSN
Virginia: “Youngkin Vetoes Bipartisan Bills While Stoking Political Rancor” by Laura Vozzella and Gregory Schneider (Washington Post) for MSN
April 12, 2022 •
Assembly Bill 09006C was signed by New York Gov. Hochul and replaces the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) with a new Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government effective July 8. The substantive law enforced by the ethics body […]
Assembly Bill 09006C was signed by New York Gov. Hochul and replaces the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) with a new Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government effective July 8.
The substantive law enforced by the ethics body was not altered, and all lobbyist reporting and disclosure requirements will remain the same.
The agency’s overhaul is designed to increase greater transparency.
While members of the ethics agency will still be appointed by the governor and legislative leaders, deans at the state’s law schools will comprise an independent review committee charged with approving appointees to the new commission.
Individuals who were registered as lobbyists in the previous two years are prohibited from serving on the commission.
April 12, 2022 •
Campaign Finance New York: “Emails Reveal How Major Hochul Campaign Donors Seek Sway” by Chris Bragg for Albany Times Union Elections Georgia: “With Biden’s Voting Rights Push Stalled, Georgia Activists Regroup” by Matthew Brown (Washington Post) for MSN Ethics National: […]
New York: “Emails Reveal How Major Hochul Campaign Donors Seek Sway” by Chris Bragg for Albany Times Union
Georgia: “With Biden’s Voting Rights Push Stalled, Georgia Activists Regroup” by Matthew Brown (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Jan. 6 Panel Has Evidence for Criminal Referral of Trump, but Splits on Sending” by Michael Schmidt and Luke Broadwater (New York Times) for Yahoo News
California: “S.F.’s Environmental Official Resigns Over Alleged $25,000 Donation” by Adam Shanks and Jessica Wolfrom for San Francisco Examiner
National: “Partisan ‘Doom Loop’? The Answer Is More Parties, This Group Says” by Jim Saska (Roll Call) for MSN
National: “Crypto Industry Helps Write, and Pass, Its Own Agenda in State Capitols” by Eric Lipton and David Yaffee-Bellany (New York Times) for Seattle Times
Illinois: “Emails Show Valencia Promoted Smart City Development While Her Lobbyist Husband Profited from It” by Mark Maxwell for WCIA
Pennsylvania: “Draft Bills and Late-Night Emails Reveal Cozy Ties Between Pa. State Lawmaker, Casino Lobbyists” by Angela Couloumbis (Spotlight PA) for PennLive.com
April 11, 2022 •
Illinois lawmakers adjourned sine die early Saturday morning after passing a bill limiting contributions to judicial self-funding political committees and independent expenditure committees. Amendment to House Bill 716 prohibits self-funding political committees and independent expenditure committees established to support or […]
Illinois lawmakers adjourned sine die early Saturday morning after passing a bill limiting contributions to judicial self-funding political committees and independent expenditure committees.
Amendment to House Bill 716 prohibits self-funding political committees and independent expenditure committees established to support or oppose a state judicial candidate from accepting contributions from any single person, other than the candidate or the candidate’s immediate family, in a cumulative amount exceeding $500,000 in any election cycle.
Supporters of the bill argue this does not conflict with federal law established in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission because the state’s interest in preserving public confidence in the integrity of its judiciary extends beyond its interest in preventing the appearance of corruption in non-judicial elections.
If Governor Pritzker signs the bill, it will become effective immediately and would apply to judicial elections this year.
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.