December 23, 2020 •
The second special session of the General Assembly adjourned sine die on December 16. The special session called by Gov. Mike Parson to focus on getting federal CARES Act funding distributed to the state began on November 5 and included […]
The second special session of the General Assembly adjourned sine die on December 16.
The special session called by Gov. Mike Parson to focus on getting federal CARES Act funding distributed to the state began on November 5 and included 10 legislative days interrupted by COVID-19.
Before adjourning lawmakers passed a bill to distribute the federal CARES Act funds.
December 23, 2020 •
Campaign Finance Arizona: “AG Says Pima County Ban on Political Contributions Unconstitutional” by Jeremy Duda for Arizona Mirror Colorado: “Denver Clerk Lopez Contracts with Outside Group to Run City’s Campaign Finance System” by Staff for North Denver Tribune Maine: “Maine […]
Arizona: “AG Says Pima County Ban on Political Contributions Unconstitutional” by Jeremy Duda for Arizona Mirror
Colorado: “Denver Clerk Lopez Contracts with Outside Group to Run City’s Campaign Finance System” by Staff for North Denver Tribune
Maine: “Maine Regulator Can Get Financial Records from Anti-CMP Corridor Group, Judge Rules” by Caitlin Andrews for Bangor Daily News
National: “Undercutting Trump, Barr Says There’s No Basis for Seizing Voting Machines, Using Special Counsels for Election Fraud, Hunter Biden” by Matt Zapotosky (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Trump Will Face Different Twitter Rules When He Leaves Office” by Emily Glazer (Wall Street Journal) for MSN
National: “House Intends to Reissue Subpoena for Trump’s Financial Records Next Year” by Kyle Cheney for Politico
Kansas: “Wichita City Council Member James Clendenin to Resign Amid Investigation, Controversy” by Chance Swaim for Wichita Eagle
Virginia: “In Richmond, the Case of the State Senator and the Judge Draws Attention to Lax Ethics Rules” by Gregory Schneider (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “Newsom Appoints Alex Padilla to Fill Harris’ Senate Seat” by Jeremy White for Politico
Massachusetts: “House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo Discloses He’s in Talks for Job at Northeastern, Setting Off Succession Campaign” by Matt Stout and Andrea Estes (Boston Globe) for MSN
Illinois: “Rules Requiring Nonprofits to Register as Lobbyists Delayed Again” by Heather Cherone for WTTW
December 22, 2020 •
The Oregon Legislature gathered in person for a one day special session on Monday. During the session, lawmakers passed four bills including $800 million in relief for those struggling due to the pandemic and the aftermath of the historic summer […]
The Oregon Legislature gathered in person for a one day special session on Monday.
During the session, lawmakers passed four bills including $800 million in relief for those struggling due to the pandemic and the aftermath of the historic summer wildfires.
Gov. Kate Brown called for the special session last week.
Lawmakers also passed:
- An eviction moratorium including $200 million in relief for landlords and tenants
- A restaurant relief package with a provision legalizing cocktails to-go
- A bill protecting schools from some coronavirus related lawsuits
- A measure transferring $600 million into the state’s emergency fund for COVID-19 and wildfire response and recovery.
The special session got off to a chaotic start with far-right protesters storming the statehouse calling on lawmakers and the governor to reopen the state economy and end the restrictions aimed at curbing the coronavirus.
The Oregon State Police declared an unlawful assembly as a growing number of protesters pushed their way through the Capitol doors.
Police officers donned gas masks as they squared off with protesters, some of whom carried firearms and bear spray, and many of whom were not wearing masks.
Despite the hectic backdrop, lawmakers were able to finish the special session.
December 21, 2020 •
Campaign Finance National: “Watchdog: Amy McGrath Campaign Illegally Coordinated with Democratic Party Super PACs in Bid to Unseat Mitch McConnell” by Colin Kalmbacher (Law & Crime) for MSN National: “Bennet Introduces Bill to Eliminate ‘Zombie’ Campaign Accounts” by Michael Karlick […]
National: “Watchdog: Amy McGrath Campaign Illegally Coordinated with Democratic Party Super PACs in Bid to Unseat Mitch McConnell” by Colin Kalmbacher (Law & Crime) for MSN
National: “Bennet Introduces Bill to Eliminate ‘Zombie’ Campaign Accounts” by Michael Karlick for Colorado Politics
Florida: “‘Could Really Use the Support’: Witness says Beach politician drove donors to mystery PAC” by Christina Saint Louis for Miami Herald
New Mexico: “Nonprofit Groups Test New Independent Expenditure Law to the Test” by Brian Metzger for New Mexico In Depth
Ohio: “Elections Commission Dings Rep. Nino Vitale Over Late Report, Delays More Serious Charges” by Rick Rouan (Columbus Dispatch) for MSN
National: “High Court Rules Challenge to Trump Census Plan Is Premature” by Mark Sherman for Associated Press News
Georgia: “GOP Launches Legal War on Absentee Voting Ahead of Georgia Runoffs” by Zach Montellaro and James Arkin for Politico
Tennessee: “In Earlier Meetings, Ford, Jr. Cast Votes in Favor of $450K Award Entangled in His Business” by Sarah Macaraeg for Memphis Commercial Appeal
Oregon: “Staffers for Oregon Lawmakers Have Filed to Form a Union” by Dirk VanderHart for OPB
December 18, 2020 •
National/Federal Attorney General William Barr to Step Down Politico – Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney | Published: 12/14/2020 Attorney General William Barr is leaving his position, a decision that follows months of complaints from President Trump about the administration’s top lawyer. […]
Attorney General William Barr to Step Down
Politico – Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney | Published: 12/14/2020
Attorney General William Barr is leaving his position, a decision that follows months of complaints from President Trump about the administration’s top lawyer. The cordial tone of Trump’s tweet announcing Barr’s exit was in marked contrast to the president’s public scolding of the attorney general in recent weeks. In Trump’s telling, Barr had failed to make public a financial crimes investigation into Joe Biden’s son that was ongoing before the election and failed to muster the Justice Department in support of Trump’s legal campaign to upend the election results. Barr’s letter confirming his departure opened with an allusion to Trump’s insistent but baseless claims the election was stolen. The letter did not repeat or disavow Barr’s statement that he had seen no indication of “widespread” fraud.
Biden’s Inaugural Will Be Mostly Virtual, but Money from Donors Will Be Real
New York Times – Kenneth Vogel and Eric Lipton | Published: 12/16/2020
President-elect Joe Biden’s allies have begun an ambitious campaign to raise millions of dollars from corporations and individuals by offering special “V.I.P. participation” in reimagined inaugural festivities that will be largely virtual because of the coronavirus pandemic. The contrast between the constraints of putting on inaugural festivities during a public health crisis and fundraising as usual underscores how donations to an inaugural are not just about getting good seats for the swearing-in or tickets to black-tie balls. They are also a way for corporations and well-heeled individuals to curry favor with a new administration, a reality that prompted liberal groups to ask Biden’s inaugural committee to forgo corporate donations.
Electoral College Affirms Biden’s Victory on a Relatively Calm Day of a Chaotic Election
MSN – Elise Viebeck, Dan Simmons, Amy Worden, and Omar Sofradzija (Washington Post) | Published: 12/14/2020
President-elect Joe Biden achieved formal victory over President Trump, winning his 306 votes in the electoral college and advancing one more step toward inauguration even as die-hard Trump supporters redoubled their efforts to stop the normal transfer of power. Electors gathered in every state and the District of Columbia for a day-long series of votes that delivered no surprises for either Trump or Biden. The proceedings harked back to more typical presidential elections and stood in contrast with the unprecedented, though fruitless, six weeks of legal and procedural chaos triggered by Trump’s refusal to accept his loss.
EPA Can’t Claw Back Names of ‘Happy Hour’ Oil Lobbyists
Courthouse News Service – Nicholas Iovino | Published: 12/9/2020
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cannot claw back documents it disclosed by mistake revealing the names of oil lobbyists who planned a “happy hour” outing with EPA officials, a federal judge ruled. U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero found the EPA failed to show unveiling names and email addresses of lobbyists posed the kind of privacy or safety risk that would justify ordering the documents be returned. The EPA argued that disclosing those details could make the lobbyists targets of harassment by the media or “individual actors.” Spero found no evidence that unmasking other lobbyists’ names in Freedom of Information Act-requested documents led to the kind of harassment the EPA feared.
Forced to Take Networking Virtual by Pandemic, K Street May Never Go Back
MSN – Kate Ackley (Roll Call) | Published: 12/10/2020
K Street lobbyists have embraced the virtual world for networking events, policy panels, and client conferences, in many cases nabbing big-name speakers, including members of Congress, government officials, and business executives. Though Zoom interactions may never fully replace in-person hobnobbing, most lobbyists expect virtual sessions to endure long after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. Such events are free but ingratiate lobbyists with clients, potential clients, and Washington’s policymakers on whom they may rely for future decisions amid the political tumult of a new Congress and a new administration.
Judges May Reinstate Foreign Agent Case Against Flynn Partner
Politico – Josh Gerstein | Published: 12/12/2020
A federal appeals court panel is signaling it may reinstate criminal charges against a business partner of Michael Flynn over a consulting project Flynn’s firm did for Turkish interests, despite Flynn’s receipt of a pardon from President Trump that absolves the former national security adviser of criminal liability in the matter. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments on the government’s bid to revive a pair of guilty verdicts a federal court jury returned last year against Bijan Rafiekian, co-founder of Flynn’s short-lived firm, Flynn Intel Group.
Legislatures Across Country Plan Sweeping Election Reform Push
The Hill – Reid Wilson | Published: 12/10/2020
State Legislatures across the country are contemplating sweeping changes to the way elections are administered after a tumultuous presidential contest, one that ended with both the highest voter turnout in American history and the outgoing president baselessly calling its integrity into question. In its wake, election rules have become the hottest topic for Legislatures, especially in presidential battleground states. In some states, lawmakers plan to make permanent access to absentee and mail-in voting that were temporarily expanded by the coronavirus pandemic, while others are looking to enact new restrictions on how people can vote.
Potential Family Conflicts Arise for Joe Biden and Aides as His Administration Drafts New Ethics Rules
MSN – Michael Scherer (Washington Post) | Published: 12/14/2020
Joe Biden is preparing to step back into the Oval Office with different expectations from his time as vice present about how to handle the relationship between his official power and his family’s private interests. After President Trump”s years of mixing family with governing and an election that highlighted the business dealings of Biden’s son Hunter, the president-elect has promised to keep his family from being hired into his administration, and to prohibit family entanglements with “any foreign operation.” Lawyers for the presidential transition are drafting new rules for the Biden White House that are likely to be more restrictive than the rules that governed the Obama administration. Biden has made clear he wants a clean break from Trump, who employed his family and spent public funds at family businesses.
Sen. David Perdue Sold His Home to a Finance Industry Official Whose Organization Was Lobbying the Senate
ProPublica – Robert Faterechi | Published: 12/10/2020
U.S. Sen. Dave Perdue sold his Washington, D.C., home last year to a brokerage industry official whose organization is under the purview of a committee Perdue sits on. The deal was made off market, without the home being listed for sale publicly. Though an appraisal by the buyer found Perdue sold for slightly under market value, four local real estate experts disagreed, saying the almost $1.8 million sale price Perdue garnered seemed high. A fifth expert said the price was squarely fair market value. Ultimately, congressional ethics experts said, their concern was Perdue sold privately and to someone whose organization that he oversaw as a senator.
Trump and His GOP Allies Vow to ‘Fight On’ after Supreme Court Rejects Legal Challenge to Overturn Election Results
MSN – Colby Itkowitz (Washington Post) | Published: 12/12/2020
President Trump amplified his unfounded claims and falsehoods about President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, lashed out at his attorney general and Republican governors he deemed unfaithful to him, and vowed to continue challenging the election results, despite the U.S. Supreme Court dealing a final blow to his brazen legal efforts to overturn the vote. Many of Trump’s GOP allies in Congress were not swayed by the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the challenge brought by the Texas attorney general that asked the justices to invalidate millions of ballots cast in four battleground states – Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Georgia – and toss out Biden’s win.
U.S. SEC Relaxes Rules on Company ‘Resource Extraction’ Disclosures
Reuters – Katanga Johnson | Published: 12/16/2020
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) relaxed requirements on oil, gas, and mining companies to disclose payments made to foreign governments, completing a rule created by Congress. The agency voting to adopt industry-friendly changes to its “resources extraction” disclosure rule follows a 10-year industry fight to water down the measure, mandated by the 2010 Dodd Frank law passed to battle corporate corruption. It was the third version of the rule. SEC member Allison Lee said the rule does not demand the “detail” that would enable regulators to spot potential corruption. It also applies to fewer companies and raises the value threshold for disclosure, among other weaknesses, Lee said.
VA Watchdog Told Prosecutors His Probe of Secretary Wilkie’s Effort to Discredit House Staffer Turned Up Possible Criminal Conduct
MSN – Lisa Rein ansd Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 12/9/2020
Confronted with a sexual assault allegation at a veterans hospital, Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert Wilkie repeatedly sought to discredit the congressional aide who made the complaint and his staff worked to spread negative information about her while ignoring known problems of harassment at the facility, according to a report. The VA’s internal watchdog paints a portrait of a department led by senior officials who were indifferent, if not hostile, to the issues at the department’s flagship medical center in the nation’s capital. It found Wilkie acted unprofessionally if not unethically, in the case of the Navy veteran who is a policy adviser to U.S. Rep. Mark Takano, chairperson of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
From the States and Municipalities
California – Gavin Newsom Bans His Paid Consultants from Lobbying in New ‘Ethics Memo’
MSN – Linda Korte (Sacramento Bee) | Published: 12/11/2020
California Gov. Gavin Newsom is barring any paid campaign or political consultant from directly communicating on behalf of a client with the governor, members of his staff, or the agencies under his control for the purpose of influencing legislative or administrative action. He is barring any registered lobbyists from serving as paid campaign or political consultants. Newsom also directed his legal affairs secretary to appoint a chief ethics advisor to advise him and his team on all ethics matters. It is unclear whether the new ban applies to lobbyists who advise the governor but are not currently on his payroll.
California – With ‘a Lot to Lose,’ Dialysis Firms Spend Big, Become California Power Players
Yahoo News – Samantha Young (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 12/9/2020
The nation’s dialysis industry has poured $233 million into California campaigns over the past four years, establishing its leading companies as a formidable political force eager to protect their bottom line and influence state policy. Most of the money the industry spent funded the defeat of two union-backed ballot measures that would have regulated dialysis clinics and cut into their profits. But the companies and their trade association also stepped up their offense, dedicating about $16.4 million to lobbying and political contributions during the same period, an analysis shows.
Florida – DeSantis Wants ‘Normal’ Government Meetings. This Village Is Meeting at a Dog Park
Yahoo News – Aaron Leibowitz (Miami Herald) | Published: 12/9/2020
As temperatures dipped into the low 50s, a frigid night by Florida standards, officials in North Bay Village gathered under a small open tent on a waterfront grassy knoll behind a local dog park for a meeting. A handful of residents stood or sat on lawn chairs outside the tent, gravitating toward heat lamps for warmth. The strange scene reflected one local effort to protect against the spread of COVID-19, at a time when the tools to do so in Florida are limited. North Bay Village has now held two meetings next to the dog park to comply with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ demand that local governments return to in-person meetings.
Florida – Ethics Board Lobbying Ordinances Taking Shape Aim to Close Loopholes at Tallahassee City Hall
Tallahassee Democrat – Karl Etters | Published: 12/16/2020
Tallahassee’s Independent Ethics Board is continuing its work to develop additions to the city’s lobbying ordinances, floating three proposals that would strengthen its oversight over those trying to influence government. For the new measures, the board is looking to expand its purview to include oversight over lobbying, clearly defining who is a lobbyist and who would be subject to registering with the city, and requiring detailed logs of all lobbyist contacts with government officials. The proposed definition would include all who seek to influence any decision or recommendation “that foreseeably will be heard or reviewed by the City Commission or decision-making body.”
Florida – GOP Lawyer Appointed by Florida Governor Resigns State Panel in Protest Over Raid on Ousted Data Scientist’s Home
MSN – Teo Armus and Marisa Iati (Washington Post) | Published: 12/9/2020
A Republican lawyer resigned from a Florida judicial panel to object to police raiding the home of a data scientist who has alleged the state health department ousted her for resisting unethical pandemic-related requests. Ron Filipkowski, who served on a nominating commission for the state’s 12th Circuit, wrote in a resignation letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis’s general counsel that he considered the search warrant executed on Rebekah Jones’s home “unconscionable.” He also said it was indicative of the state’s “reckless and irresponsible” handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Florida – Mar-a-Lago Neighbors to Trump: Spend your post-presidency elsewhere
MSN – Manuel Roig-Franzia and Carol Leonnig (Washington Post) | Published: 12/16/2020
Next-door neighbors of Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump’s private club in Palm Beach he has called his Winter White House, do not want Trump as a resident when he leaves the presidency. They assert Trump lost his legal right to live at Mar-a-Lago because of an agreement he signed in the early 1990s when he converted the estate from his private residence to a private club. The legal maneuver could force Palm Beach to publicly address whether Trump can make Mar-a-Lago his legal residence and home, as he has been expected to do, when he becomes an ex-president. For years, various neighbors have raised concerns about disruptions, such as clogged traffic and blocked streets, caused by the president’s frequent trips to the club. Even before he was president, Trump created ill will in the town.
Florida – Secret Donor Name in Florida Senate Races Wiped from Records, Replaced
Tampa Bay Times – Samantha Gross and Ana Ceballos | Published: 12/14/2020
The name of the mystery donor behind a $550,000 effort that helped promote no-party candidates in three key Florida Senate races, including one that is under investigation, was changed in campaign finance reports. While making changes to fix errors in campaign finance reports is common, election attorneys say it is unusual to see political committees change the name of their sole donor two months after the fact. If it is determined the committees intentionally changed the name to conceal the donor, or to make the contribution in the name of another, fines or criminal penalties could be involved, said Natalie Kato, an elections and campaign finance attorney.
Georgia – Georgia Runoffs Become High-Stakes GOP Fundraising Experiment
Politico – Elena Schneider | Published: 12/14/2020
Top Republicans are using the expensive U.S. Senate runoffs in Georgia to sell their party on a deeper investment in digital fundraising, pointing to the surge in donations for the contests as an example of what GOP candidates could reap in 2022 and beyond, if they put the right infrastructure in place early. The effort is introducing some senators to online fundraising tactics that have been popular among Democrats for years but are not nearly as prevalent among Republicans. Thirty-one Republicans, including 17 who are up for reelection in 2022, are tapping into their donor lists in “tandem” email efforts benefiting themselves and the Georgia candidates, raising nearly $10 million online.
Illinois – Ethics Board Fines Ald. Brookins $5,000 For Violating Ethics Ordinance
WTTW – Heather Cherone | Published: 12/14/2020
The Chicago Board of Ethics voted to fine Ald. Howard Brookins $5,000 for violating a city ordinance by defending clients, including former Ald. Proco Joe Moreno, in criminal cases involving the Chicago Police Department. The fine levied by the board is the maximum allowed. The Ethics Board ruled in September 2019 that aldermen face “diverging interests” when they represent a client charged with a crime based on evidence developed by Chicago police officers.
Illinois – Illinois House Panel Ends Probe of Powerful Speaker Madigan
Associated Press News – John O’Connor | Published: 12/15/2020
An Illinois House committee ended its consideration of a breach of trust claim against Speaker Michael Madigan, voting down further proceedings that could have led to discipline against the powerful Democrat. House Republican Leader Jim Durkin last summer filed documents seeking a charge of conduct unbecoming a legislator against Madigan after federal prosecutors implicated the longtime leader in a bribery scheme involving Commonwealth Edison. Madigan has been speaker for all but two of the past 37 years and is the longest-serving leader of any legislative body in American history.
Kansas – Supreme Court Won’t Revive Kansas Voter Registration ID Law
Associated Press News – Staff | Published: 12/14/2020
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal from Kansas that sought to revive a law requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote. A federal appeals court had declared the law unconstitutional. Kansas had been the only state to require people to show a physical document such as a birth certificate or passport when applying to register to vote. The issue is distinct from state laws that call for people to produce driver licenses or other photo IDs to cast a vote in person. The law was championed by former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who was a leading source for Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that millions of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally may have voted in the 2016 election.
Kentucky – Executive Gets One Year in State Prison for Campaign Case Linked to Lexington Council
Lexington Herald-Leader – Beth Musgrave | Published: 12/14/2020
A former real estate executive was sentenced to a year in state prison after pleading guilty to 16 counts of campaign finance violations related to the May 2018 Lexington council primary. Timothy Wellman, a former CRM Companies executive, pleaded guilty in October. Federal prosecutors say Wellman circumvented Kentucky campaign finance limits prohibiting individuals from donating more than $2,000 to a candidate by using more than a dozen straw contributors and then reimbursing them. During the federal trial, Wellman was accused of asking those straw contributors to lie to the FBI or a federal grand jury about those campaign donations.
Maine – A Maine Legislature Changed by the Pandemic Could Challenge Lobbyists in 2021
Bangor Daily News – Caitlin Andrews | Published: 12/10/2020
Lobbyists in Maine always try to get to know lawmakers when a new legislative session starts, but the coronavirus pandemic may alter how relationships are built and negotiations handled as the 2021 session set to begin in earnest this January looks like it will take place more on Zoom and less in the statehouse. Details are still being worked out, but the Augusta Civic Center is likely to serve as the main site of business. The statehouse has been closed to anyone who is not a lawmaker, staffer, delivery or contract worker, or reporter since the pandemic hit. Lawmakers approved an order allowing committees to cast votes and the public to participate in meetings electronically, giving them more flexibility.
Michigan – Michigan AG Reviewing Whether Lawmakers Can Lobby Out of State
Detroit News – Craig Mauger | Published: 12/9/2020
The Michigan attorney general’s office is reviewing whether legislators serving in the state can legally be registered lobbyists outside its borders. It was reported in November that Rep. Rebekah Warren had been hired by the interest group National Popular Vote and filed a lobbying disclosure on behalf of the organization in Pennsylvania. She is also registered to lobby in North Carolina. State law bans lawmakers and other state officials from accepting pay for “personally engaging in lobbying.” But it is unclear whether that prohibition refers specifically to only lobbying in Michigan, which is what the rest of the law is focused on.
New Mexico – Ethics Panel Files Lawsuit Seeking Disclosure of Group’s Donors
Albuquerque Journal – Dan Boyd | Published: 12/11/2020
The New Mexico Ethics Commission filed a lawsuit aimed at forcing a group that spent more than $130,000 on political advertisements in Democratic legislative primary election races to disclose its donors. The lawsuit, the first of its kind filed by the commission since its creation this year, could be a test case for a law amended in 2019 that requires more “dark money” disclosure for election-related expenditures. The Council for a Competitive New Mexico has argued its donors do not have to be disclosed since their donations do not meet the state’s definition of a contribution.
New York – First Ruling Goes Against Ranked-Choice Voting Opponents
City and State – Rebecca Lewis | Published: 12/16/2020
A lawsuit to delay ranked-choice voting in New York City hit its first roadblock: the state judge in the case has denied a request for a temporary restraining order. The ruling could be a death knell for the lawsuit, which would result in ranked-choice voting proceeding unimpeded next year, even as the plaintiffs continue to fight. Judge Carol Edmead denied a request from a half-dozen city council members and several community groups seeking a temporary restraining order to stop ranked-choice voting from being used in the upcoming special election to replace former council Member Rory Lancman. Scheduled for February 2, it would be the first election in the city to use the new system approved by voters in 2019.
New York – Judge Orders Trump Organization to Give More Records to N.Y. Attorney General
MSN – Shayna Jacobs (Washington Post) | Published: 12/15/2020
A state judge dealt a loss to the Trump Organization, ordering the president’s company to turn over records related to a controversial property that is the subject of a civil investigation by the New York attorney general’s office. The documents and communications at issue could help investigators answer questions about a conservation easement that was granted several years ago at the Seven Springs estate in New York’s Westchester Country, a move that netted President Trump’s company a $21 million tax deduction. The materials, which Trump’s lawyers had sought to shield, include messages exchanged between an engineer and a land-use lawyer who worked on Trump’s behalf.
New York – Many New York Judges Spend Their Way Toward Seats on the Bench. And It’s Perfectly Legal
The City – Sam Mellins (New York Focus) | Published: 12/10/2020
Of the 24 judges elected to the New York Supreme Court this year, 20 have donated to the county party organizations that nominated them or to the politicians who lead those organizations. The contributions reflect a political climate in which party leaders, far more than voters, determine who obtains Supreme Court seats, a nominally elected position. By the time voters select Supreme Court judges in November, the real decisions have usually already been made the previous summer, when county Democratic Party organizations select the nominees.
New York – ‘Simply No Truth to These Claims’: Gov. Cuomo’s office denies former aide’s sexual harassment allegation
USA Today – Matthew Brown | Published: 12/13/2020
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been accused of sexual harassment by a former development aide who is now running for office in New York City. Lindsey Boylan wrote on Twitter that Cuomo “sexually harassed me for years. Many saw it, and watched.” Boylan is currently running to be Manhattan borough president. Personnel memos written in 2018 indicate Boylan resigned from Cuomo’s administration after she was confronted about complaints about her own office behavior.
Ohio – Councilwoman Sundermann Proposes Charter Amendment, Says ‘We Must Rebuild Trust in Our City Government.’
MSN – Sharon Coolidge (Cincinnati Enquirer) | Published: 12/15/2020
Cincinnati City Councilperson Betsy Sundermann put forward a charter amendment that would allow the city to suspend a council member if that person is indicted and to remove them if convicted. The current charter does not address what should happen in the event a council member gets in trouble, as happened this year with the arrest of three members on federal bribery charges. It was Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost who sought and won temporary suspensions of Jeff Pastor and P.G. Sittenfeld. Both accepted suspensions and are fighting charges brought against them.
Ohio – Governor Was Warned of Would-Be Regulator’s Ties to Utility
Associated Press News – Mark Gillespie and Julie Carr Smyth | Published: 12/9/2020
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine disregarded cries of alarm in 2019 from consumer and environmental advocates, concerns echoed in a previously undisclosed last-minute plea from GOP insiders, when he was selecting the state’s top utility regulator, a man now under scrutiny as a wide-ranging bribery and corruption investigation roils the state. Nearly two years later, the Republican governor continues to defend his choice of Samuel Randazzo as the powerful chairperson of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, and many of those early critics insist it was a mistake to dismiss their concerns.
Rhode Island – R.I. Political Operative Jeff Britt Cleared of Charges in Money Laundering Trial
MSN – Edward Fitzpatrick and Dan McGowan (Boston Globe) | Published: 12/16/2020
Superior Court Judge Daniel Procaccini found Jeffrey Britt not guilty of money laundering or violating campaign finance laws. The decision capped off the high-profile trial tied to outgoing Rhode Island House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello’s 2016 re-election campaign, which he won by 85 votes over Steve Frias. Britt worked for Mattiello as a political adviser. Britt was accused of illegally paying for a pro-Mattiello campaign mailer from Frias’s one-time Republican opponent Shawna Lawton by funneling money through two other people. Procaccini called Rhode Island’s money laundering law “constitutionally deficient,” and questioned the credibility of the witnesses who testified against Britt.
Tennessee – Knox County Won’t Kill Ethics Committee, But Could Change Its Rules to Prevent Smears
Knoxville News Sentinel – Tyler Whetstone | Published: 12/14/2020
The Knox County Ethics Committee will not be eliminated, though some of its bylaws could be changed. A group of commissioners had discussed the possibility of doing away with the ethics committee. Any chance of that happening, however, was dismissed during a meeting of the newly formed committee on committees, which was created to determine whether the county commission needs each of its committees. Instead, the committee asked the ethics panel, which is made up of appointed volunteers and a single commissioner, to discuss whether to require statute of limitations of 90 to 180 days on infractions, and whether to shield people running for office from complaints during the election.
Texas – Limited Capacity at Texas Capitol During 2021 Session Raises Transparency Concerns
KTAB – Maggie Glynn | Published: 12/15/2020
Texas still does not have an official plan for how the upcoming legislative session will operate during the pandemic. But the House of Representatives has outlined a framework for the opening ceremony, offering the first glimpse of how lawmakers will balance transparency with COVID-19 precautions. The House Administrative Committee’s plan will limit media and some guests to the galley, which sparked some concern about transparency if that process should continue through the session.
Washington – On the Legal Hot Seat, Tim Eyman Admits He Fibbed to Donors
Everett Herald – Jerry Cornfield | Published: 12/17/2020
Washington’s ubiquitous initiative promoter Tim Eyman got his chance to tell his version of events that are threatening his political career. Then, the state’s attorney set about taking apart his story and elicited a confession from Eyman that he does not always tell the truth when asking supporters for money. Eyman stands accused of using his initiative campaigns to enrich himself and violating state campaign finance laws. The civil trial stems from a 2017 lawsuit filed by Attorney General Bob Ferguson alleging Eyman failed to report shifting money donated for Initiative 1185, a tax-limiting measure, into the campaign for Initiative 517, which sought to modify the initiative and referendum process. Eyman served as an officer of committees for both initiatives.
Washington – Seattle City Council Votes to Require Registration, Disclosure by Public Lobbying Groups
Seattle Times – Daniel Beekman | Published: 12/14/2020
The Seattle City Council voted to require certain groups that spend money to build public pressure on politicians to register and disclose their finances. Recommended by the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission, the new rules approved would apply to groups that spend at least $750 in a month (or $1,500 in three months) on “presenting a program to the public” to affect legislation. The individuals behind a group would need to identify themselves and their contractors, and the group would be required to identify its donors (for contributions of $25 or more). The organization also would be required to describe its purpose and would need to record its spending in monthly reports.
Washington DC – In First D.C. Election with Public Financing, Candidates and Donors Bumped Up Against Rules
Washington Post – Julie Zauzmer and Michael Brice-Saddler | Published: 12/15/2020
In the first year of public campaign financing in the District of Columbia, Washingtonians made enough small-dollar donations to generate $3.4?million in taxpayer funding, fueling campaigns for several well-known politicians and many newcomers. The candidates, in turn, spent that money on everything from takeout food to branded masks and more. To participate in the Fair Elections Program, candidates had to follow more-stringent rules on donations and expenditures than their competitors who opted out of public financing. One requirement is candidates not pay themselves or any family members, except for reimbursing themselves for out-of-pocket campaign expenditures.
Wisconsin – Path from Legislature to Lobbyist Well Traveled
Beloit Daily News – Steven Walters (WisconsinEye) | Published: 12/15/2020
Of the 708 registered lobbyists in Wisconsin, about 100 are former state legislators or Capitol aides. Why does the Legislature-to-lobbying door swing so often? Lawmakers, especially those who had leadership positions, sell the personal relationships they built up in the Capitol to prospective clients or statewide trade and industry organizations. Legislators, now paid $52,000 a year, can make many times that as lobbyists or corporate executives.
Wisconsin – Wisconsin Supreme Court Tosses Trump Election Lawsuit
Associated Press News – Scott Bauer | Published: 12/14/2020
A narrowly divided Wisconsin Supreme Court rejected President Trump’s lawsuit attempting to overturn his election loss in the battleground state about an hour before the Electoral College cast Wisconsin’s 10 votes for Joe Biden. In the ruling, the court’s three liberal justices were joined by conservative Justice Brian Hagedorn who said three of Trump’s four claims were filed too late and the other was without merit. The ruling ends Trump’s legal challenges in state court. The president sought to have more than 221,000 ballots disqualified in Dane and Milwaukee counties, the state’s two most heavily Democratic counties. Those were the only counties where Trump sought a recount, even though he lost statewide by about 21,000 votes.
December 17, 2020 •
Cincinnati City Councilwoman Betsy Sundermann proposed a charter amendment to the city charter. The amendment would allow the city to suspend a council member upon the filing of an indictment or certain criminal charges, and to remove them if convicted. […]
Cincinnati City Councilwoman Betsy Sundermann proposed a charter amendment to the city charter.
The amendment would allow the city to suspend a council member upon the filing of an indictment or certain criminal charges, and to remove them if convicted.
There is currently no provision in the Cincinnati Charter addressing what happens in the event of public corruption allegations.
The proposed charter amendment also requires ethics training for new council members within 60 days of oath of office.
The amendment also prohibits council members from amending their successor designation certificate after being indicted.
If approved by council, the charter amendment would be submitted to the voters for approval in 2021.
December 17, 2020 •
Campaign Finance Rhode Island: “R.I. Political Operative Jeff Britt Cleared of Charges in Money Laundering Trial” by Edward Fitzpatrick and Dan McGowan (Boston Globe) for MSN Washington DC: “In First D.C. Election with Public Financing, Candidates and Donors Bumped Up […]
Rhode Island: “R.I. Political Operative Jeff Britt Cleared of Charges in Money Laundering Trial” by Edward Fitzpatrick and Dan McGowan (Boston Globe) for MSN
Washington DC: “In First D.C. Election with Public Financing, Candidates and Donors Bumped Up Against Rules” by Julie Zauzmer and Michael Brice-Saddler for Washington Post
Florida: “Mar-a-Lago Neighbors to Trump: Spend your post-presidency elsewhere” by Manuel Roig-Franzia and Carol Leonnig (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “U.S. SEC Relaxes Rules on Company ‘Resource Extraction’ Disclosures” by Katanga Johnson for Reuters
Illinois: “Ethics Board Fines Ald. Brookins $5,000 For Violating Ethics Ordinance” by Heather Cherone for WTTW
New York: “Judge Orders Trump Organization to Give More Records to N.Y. Attorney General” by Shayna Jacobs (Washington Post) for MSN
Ohio: “Councilwoman Sundermann Proposes Charter Amendment, Says ‘We Must Rebuild Trust in Our City Government.’” by Sharon Coolidge (Cincinnati Enquirer) for MSN
Texas: “Limited Capacity at Texas Capitol During 2021 Session Raises Transparency Concerns” by Maggie Glynn for KTAB
National: “Judges May Reinstate Foreign Agent Case Against Flynn Partner” by Josh Gerstein for Politico
Florida: “Ethics Board Lobbying Ordinances Taking Shape Aim to Close Loopholes at Tallahassee City Hall” by Karl Etters for Tallahassee Democrat
Wisconsin: “Path from Legislature to Lobbyist Well Traveled” by Steven Walters (WisconsinEye) for Beloit Daily News
December 14, 2020 •
The Seattle City Council is scheduled to vote Monday afternoon on a new ordinance. The ordinance’s rules are meant to shine a light on groups spending money to build public pressure on Seattle politicians. Recommended in January by the Seattle […]
The Seattle City Council is scheduled to vote Monday afternoon on a new ordinance.
The ordinance’s rules are meant to shine a light on groups spending money to build public pressure on Seattle politicians.
Recommended in January by the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission, the rules would apply to groups spending at least $750 in a month or $1,500 in three months on presenting a program to the public to affect legislation.
The individuals behind a group would need to identify themselves, their contractors, and donors for contributions of $25 or more.
The group also would be required to describe its purpose and record spending on monthly reports.
December 11, 2020 •
Just one week after accepting the nomination as speaker of the New Hampshire House, Rep. Dick Hinch has died of COVID-19. Hinch’s deputy Sherman Packard will serve as acting speaker until at least January 6, 2021, when the full House […]
Just one week after accepting the nomination as speaker of the New Hampshire House, Rep. Dick Hinch has died of COVID-19.
Hinch’s deputy Sherman Packard will serve as acting speaker until at least January 6, 2021, when the full House is scheduled to meet again and name a successor.
December 11, 2020 •
National/Federal Barr Taps Durham as Special Counsel, Pushing Probe into Biden Era Politico – Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein | Published: 12/1/2020 Attorney General William Barr appointed U.S. attorney John Durham as a special counsel to investigate the origins of the […]
Barr Taps Durham as Special Counsel, Pushing Probe into Biden Era
Politico – Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein | Published: 12/1/2020
Attorney General William Barr appointed U.S. attorney John Durham as a special counsel to investigate the origins of the FBI’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election. The appointment formalizes Durham’s ongoing probe but more significantly, would give Durham latitude to continue the politically explosive investigation after President-elect Joe Biden takes office in January. Democrats have long viewed Durham’s efforts as political payback by President Trump and his allies, seeking to deflect from evidence the Trump campaign capitalized on the Kremlin’s efforts.
Biden’s Choice for Pentagon Faces Questions on Ties to Contractors
New York Times – Eric Lipton, Kenneth Vogel, and Michael LaForgia | Published: 12/8/2020
Raytheon Technologies makes fighter jet engines, weapons, high-tech sensors, and dozens of other military products. Retired Gen. Lloyd Austin III of the Army, a member of Raytheon’s board, has been named by President-elect Joe Biden to be the next secretary of defense. Raytheon is not Austin’s only link to military contractors. He has also been a partner in an investment firm that has been buying small defense firms. The decision to nominate Austin has drawn a new wave of questions about the corporate ties of people Biden is choosing for his administration. Those ties are especially relevant when it comes to the Pentagon, which spends hundreds of billions of dollars every year on weapons and other supplies.
Conservative Nonprofit Group Challenging Election Results Around the Country Has Tie to Trump Legal Adviser Jenna Ellis
MSN – John Swain, Rosalind Helderman, Josh Dawsey, and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) | Published: 12/7/2020
A conservative legal organization that has filed lawsuits challenging the election results in five states has a tie to President Trump’s legal team, raising questions about the independence of what has appeared to be an endeavor separate from the president’s last-gasp legal maneuvering. Senior Trump campaign legal adviser Jenna Ellis serves as special counsel to the Thomas More Society, which has filed lawsuits through the newly formed Amistad Project alleging problems with the vote in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Her affiliation with the organization, as well as other links between Trump’s team and the conservative group, suggest a coordinated effort to flood the nation’s courts with repetitive litigation that allows the president to claim the election results remain contested.
Could Trump Pardon Family Members and Other Close Associates? His Prior Pardons May Set the Stage for More
USA Today – David Jackson, John Fritze, and Kevin Johnson | Published: 12/4/2020
As President Trump weighs granting pardons to close associates – and perhaps family members and even himself – experts said he may not pay much of a political price, no matter whom the recipients are. The number of pardons with a political sheen that Trump has signed, along with the unorthodox way he has wielded the power, may have desensitized the public to the issue. The reaction to former national security advisor Michael Flynn’s pardon, though muted, underscored the president’s broad clemency powers are increasingly viewed, like much else, along partisan lines: Democrats express outrage, and supporters of Trump cheer. That division, several experts said, may partly explain why some Americans shrug their shoulders.
EU Lobby Register Falls Short of Transparency Demands
Politico – Cristina Gonzalez | Published: 12/8/2020
It was hailed as a victory when negotiators from the European Parliament, Commission, and the Council found compromise on establishing a joint mandatory lobby register, but the definition of “mandatory” remains to be seen. The provisional agreement, which must still be approved by the respective institutions, sets out to make it compulsory for lobbyists to be registered in the European Union’s Transparency Register to carry out certain activities like meeting with top officials. But there is nothing explicitly mandatory in the compromise text. Instead, it gives each institution the license to individually interpret what it means, “and to define the activities that they decide to make conditional upon registration in the register,” the compromise reads. Now, each institution must outline its view in a forthcoming joint political statement.
GOP Women’s Record-Breaking Success Reflects Party’s Major Shift on Recruiting and Supporting Female Candidates
Washington Post – Rachael Bade | Published: 12/7/2020
There are 17 newly elected Republican women who will give the party a record number of female lawmakers in Congress, the results of a successful strategy of recruiting and supporting women running for office. Of the 13 Democratic incumbents who lost their seats on election night, Republican women were responsible for defeating 10. In January, Republicans will welcome their most ethnically diverse and gender-diverse freshman class in history as women and lawmakers of color join their predominantly White and male ranks. The recruitment effort behind their success reflects a major shift.
Justice Department’s Interest in Hunter Biden Covered More than Taxes
Politico – Ben Schreckinger | Published: 12/9/2020
The federal investigation into President-elect Joe Biden’s son has been more extensive than a statement from Hunter Biden indicates, according to a person with firsthand knowledge of the probe. Hunter Biden said he had been contacted about a tax investigation out of the U.S. attorney’s office in Delaware. The securities fraud unit in the Southern District of New York also scrutinized Hunter Biden’s finances, according to the source. The person said as of early last year, investigators in Delaware and Washington, D.C. were probing potential money laundering and Hunter Biden’s foreign ties. In addition to the probe into Hunter Biden, federal authorities in Pennsylvania are conducting a criminal investigation of a hospital business in which Joe Biden’s brother James was involved.
Murdoch’s Son and Daughter-in-Law Spent Millions on Progressive Causes in 2020 Cycle
Center for Responsive Politics – Ollie Gratzinger | Published: 12/4/2020
The Murdoch name has come to be associated largely with right-leaning politics, as Rupert Murdoch, the media mogul who owns Fox News and other outlets spanning three continents, has built a family dynasty based largely on conservatism. But Kathryn and James Murdoch, daughter-in-law and youngest son of the news tycoon, are forging a new reputation for the Murdoch name, contributing heavily this cycle to progressive political groups, including super PACs supporting President-elect Joe Biden. James Murdoch resigned from his position at Fox last July over “disagreements over certain editorial content.”
Neera Tanden, Biden’s Pick for Budget Chief, Runs a Think Tank Backed by Corporate and Foreign Interests
MSN – Yeganeh Torbati and Beth Reinhard (Washington Post) | Published: 12/5/2020
Now that President-elect Joe Biden picked Neera Tanden to run the Office of Management and Budget, her ties to some of the most powerful players in the U.S. economy are drawing scrutiny from advocates for accountability in government. Tanden would have a hand in policies that touch every part of the economy after years spent courting corporate and foreign donors at the think tank Center for American Progress. Between 2014 and 2019, the center received at least $33 million in donations from firms in the financial sector, private foundations primarily funded by wealth earned on Wall Street. Critics also argued the hundreds of hours of relationship-building that goes into securing large donations from corporations and wealthy people give private interests the opportunity to influence the views of Tanden and others in her position.
Senate Restores FEC as Agency Confronts Massive Backlog of Cases
Center for Responsive Politics – Karl Evers-Hillstrom | Published: 12/9/2020
The U.S. Senate confirmed three new members of the FEC, giving the campaign finance regulator a full slate of six commissioners for the first time since February 2017. Senators confirmed Sean Cooksey, Allen Dickerson, and Shana Broussard, who will be the agency’s first Black commissioner in its 45-year history. The FEC faces a backlog of 388 enforcement cases. Broussard said during a Senate Rules Committee meeting that she would prioritize addressing important cases set to expire due to the agency’s statute of limitations. Commissioners are also tasked with changing outdated rules.
Steakhouses, Hill Bars and Ski Trips: GOP carries on amid the pandemic
Politico – Sarah Ferris, Melanie Zanona, and Daniel Lippman | Published: 12/7/2020
It is not just the White House flouting pandemic rules to mark Washington, D.C.’s schmooziest season. Some corners of the GOP, including members of Congress, are refusing to let the coronavirus intrude on their holiday gatherings and in-person fundraisers, whether it is on the slopes of Utah or in the steakhouses of Washington. Meanwhile, discussions are underway about holding the Conservative Political Action Conference in person early next year. The event planning comes as the nation is battered by another surge in coronavirus cases, prompting a fresh round of warnings from public health experts to avoid group settings, particularly indoors. And it underscores the resistance by many in the GOP, led by President Trump, to adjust to the new normal of the pandemic.
Supreme Court Denies Trump Allies’ Bid to Overturn Pennsylvania Election Results
MSN – Robert Barnes and Elise Viebeck (Washington Post) | Published: 12/8/2020
The U.S. Supreme Court denied a last-minute attempt by President Trump’s allies to overturn the election results in Pennsylvania, a blow to the president’s continuing efforts to reverse his loss to Joe Biden. The court’s brief order denying a requested injunction provided no reasoning, nor did it note any dissenting votes. It was the first request to delay or overturn the results of the presidential election to reach the court. The lawsuit was part of a blizzard of litigation and personal interventions Trump and his lawyers have waged to overturn victories by Biden in a handful of key states. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a sweeping complaint that asked the court to overturn Biden’s wins in the swing states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Georgia.
Women Make Record-Breaking Gains Across State Legislatures
The Hill – Julia Manchester | Published: 12/8/2020
Women broke barriers in state Legislature races across the country in November, with a record number of women from both parties winning their races at the state level. According to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, women will hold more than 30 percent of seats in state Legislatures for the first time in American history. The gains women made at the state level this cycle appeared to have reflected the record gains women made at the federal level as well. For Republicans, this marks an improvement for a party that has struggled to recruit women to its ranks.
Canada – ‘Loophole’ in Civic Election Act Breeds Unfairness and Financial Secrecy, Experts Say
CBC – Angela King | Published: 12/5/2020
A section of Ontario’s Municipal Elections Act creates an unequal playing field, undermines transparency, and should be changed, election experts say. Concerns have been raised about a part of the legislation that allows a corporation to pay an employee while volunteering for a political campaign after a Toronto man revealed he was paid by a lobbying firm to help campaign for candidates in the 2018 civic election. Kevin Haynes said he felt like an “election hitman” when he was paid $20 per hour in cash by a major lobbying group to knock on doors for nine candidates, seven of whom won.
From the States and Municipalities
Alaska – FBI Questions Alaska Lawmakers on Topics Including Permanent Fund Dividend Votes
Anchorage Daily News – James Brooks | Published: 12/8/2020
The FBI has interviewed or sought to question at least 11 Alaska legislators this year, asking in at least some of the interviews whether any lawmakers received a financial benefit in exchange for their vote on the Permanent Fund dividend. Not all interviewed lawmakers would say what they were asked about, and it is not clear what the FBI is searching for. An interview may not mean a legislator is under investigation – several lawmakers said the FBI told them during the interviews that they were not personally under investigation. Uncertainty over the motive for the interviews is roiling lawmakers, particularly in the Senate, where Republicans are attempting to form a majority government.
Arizona – Arizona Legislature Shuts Down after Rudy Giuliani Possibly Exposed Lawmakers to COVID-19
MSN – Maria Polletta (Arizona Republic) | Published: 12/6/2020
The Arizona Legislature closed for a week “out of an abundance of caution” after Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal attorney, possibly exposed several Republican lawmakers to COVID-19. Giuliani tested positive for the virus on December 6, less than a week after he visited Arizona as part of a multistate tour aimed at contesting 2020 election results. Giuliani had spent more than 10 hours discussing election concerns with Arizona Republicans, including two members of Congress and at least 13 current and future state lawmakers. He led the meeting maskless, flouting social distancing guidelines, and posing for photos.
Arizona – Judge Dismisses Dem Lawsuit Challenging Independent Redistricting Candidates
Arizona Mirror – Jeremy Duda | Published: 12/7/2020
Democratic legislative leaders’ lawsuit to disqualify two of the five finalists for independent chair of the state’s next redistricting commission fell flat after Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Janice Crawford ruled the disputed applicants did not violate the criteria set out in the Arizona Constitution. Crawford ruled Thomas Loquvam, an attorney for the utility company EPCOR, does not violate the constitution’s prohibition on lobbyists serving on the Independent Redistricting Commission, and gun store owner Robert Wilson meets the qualifications to serve as an independent.
California – L.A. Fines Former City Official, Company $45,000 for Lobbying Violations
MyNewsLA.com – Staff | Published: 12/8/2020
The Los Angeles Ethics Commission imposed a fine of $45,000 on Daniel Ahadian and nur Corporation for violating city lobbying laws. Ahadian is a former city official who worked with the Planning Department, and the sole owner of nur, a planning and land use consulting firm. Ahadian and nur admitted failing to register as lobbying entities and file quarterly disclosure reports from the first quarter of 2018 through the fourth quarter of 2019. Lobbying entities are required to register with the Ethics Commission and report their activities on a quarterly basis to help the public identify who is attempting to influence city action.
California – L.A.’s Ethics Commission Gets a New Boss: A 29-year employee of the watchdog agency
Yahoo News – Dakota Smith (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 12/8/2020
David Tristan, deputy executive director of the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission, was named as the new executive director of the commission, replacing Heather Holt, who faces term limits. Commissioner Jeff Daar cited Tristan’s decades of experience at the agency. “Obviously, he has a passion for the mission of the Ethics Commission,” Daar said. Rob Quan, an organizer with Unrig LA, a good-government advocacy group, described Tristan as extremely responsive. He described how advocates have called Tristan over the years to discuss a variety of topics, including campaign filings and broken links on the commission website.
California – Real Estate Developer Pleads Guilty in Sprawling L.A. Campaign Money Laundering Case
Los Angeles Times – David Zahniser and Emily Alpert Reyes | Published: 12/3/2020
Businessperson Samuel Leung pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit campaign money laundering, admitting he took part in a scheme to reimburse campaign donors between January 2009 and February 2015 – just as his apartment project was being reviewed and approved at Los Angeles City Hall. State law prohibits donors from making political contributions in the name of another person. The guilty plea came more than four years after a Los Angeles Times investigation revealed a sprawling network of more than 100 people and companies with direct or indirect ties to Leung made political donations totaling more than $600,000 while Leung’s project was under review. The project was approved in 2015.
Connecticut – Audit Finds Lax Oversight of Public Campaign Financing
CT Examiner – Emilia Otte | Published: 12/3/2020
For the last nine years, the State Election Enforcement Commission (SEEC) has failed to report the use of grant money financing candidates running for the Connecticut General Assembly, according to a recent audit. The SEEC is responsible for the Citizen’s Election Program, which gives grant money to campaigns for state Senate or House through the Citizen’s Election Fund, a pool of money that comes from the sale of abandoned property. By law, the SEEC must report annually on the amount of money in the fund and the number of people who have contributed to it. The commission is also required to present an analysis each cycle to the General Assembly of the amount of grant money issued, how campaigns have spent the money, and how much leftover money was returned to the fund.
Florida – Disgraced Republican Lawmaker Planted No-Party Candidate in Key Senate Race, Sources Say
Miami Herald – Ana Ceballos and Samantha Gross | Published: 12/3/2020
As the results for a key Florida Senate race appeared on television screens in an Irish pub, former Sen. Frank Artiles boasted he planted a no-party candidate in the race, which Republican Ileana Garcia won by 32 votes over incumbent Jose Javier Rodriguez. “That is me, that was all me,” Artiles boasted to a crowd at Liam Fitzpatrick’s restaurant, according to a person who was there. Artiles recruited Alexis (Alex) Rodriguez, a longtime acquaintance. The no-party candidate with the same surname as the incumbent Democrat had been a registered Republican until just before his qualifying papers were filed to make him a Senate candidate. Sources have indicated Artiles’ involvement in launching Rodriguez’s bid was extensive.
Florida – Florida Police Raid House of Fired Data Scientist Who Alleged State Manipulated Covid-19 Stats
MSN – Reis Thebault (Washington Post) | Published: 12/7/2020
Florida police with guns drawn raided the home of an ousted health department data scientist, searching Rebekah Jones’ computer, phone, and other hardware that supports the coronavirus website she set up after accusing the state of manipulating its official numbers. Law enforcement officials allege Jones may have also used the devices to hack into a health department website to send an unauthorized message to Florida emergency personnel, urging them to speak out against the state’s pandemic response. After her dismissal, Jones launched her own data portal, advertising it as independent alternative to the state dashboard. Now, Jones says, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s raid is an attempt to silence her work.
Florida – Florida Voters Barred Ex-Lawmakers from Lobbying for 6 Years, but Revolving Door Still Swings
MSN – Gary Roher (Orlando Sentinel) | Published: 12/7/2020
The “revolving door” between government and lobbying firms in Florida was supposed to end after voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2018 banning elected officials and agency heads from lobbying for six years after leaving their posts. But that amendment does not take effect until the end of 2022, meaning the movement will continue for another two years. Since the November election, three Florida lawmakers have taken jobs as lobbyists, and one state agency director left her position in October to lead a trade group for an industry she used to regulate.
Georgia – Savannah Council Accepts Apology Kesha Gibson-Carter Says She Didn’t Make
Savannah Morning News – DeAnn Komanecky | Published: 12/9/2020
Savannah City Council members who filed ethics complaints against fellow Alderperson Kesha Gibson-Carter said they were ready to forgive the alderwoman. An ethics board found Gibson-Carter had violated the city’s ethics code. The three said they were ready to move forward instead of pushing for the only remedy available, a reprimand or censure, since Gibson-Carter had apologized privately to City Manager Michael Brown. Gibson-Carter is adamant she had not apologized to anyone, including the city manager, and had no intentions to do so.
Illinois – Ex-State Sen. Martin Sandoval, Snared in Political Corruption Investigation, Dies of Coronavirus: Attorney
Chicago Sun-Times – Jon Seidel, Mark Brown, and Mitchell Armentrout | Published: 12/5/2020
Former Illinois Sen. Martin Sandoval, who became a crucial figure in a series of ongoing public corruption investigations early this year when he admitted taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes, has died from COVID-19. The Senate’s former Transportation Committee chair also agreed to “cooperate in any matter in which he is called upon” by federal prosecutors. In November, prosecutors told a judge that Sandoval had “provided valuable cooperation that is expected to last at least several more months.” Now, legal experts say Sandoval’s death has the potential to complicate the aggressive probe of Illinois politics.
Iowa – Iowa’s Contact-Tracing Firm Helped Trump, Reynolds Campaigns
Associated Press News – Ryan Foley | Published: 12/4/2020
After facing a workforce shortage for months, Iowa awarded an emergency $2.3 million contact-tracing contract to a company that has worked for the campaigns of President Trump and Gov. Kim Reynolds and is owned by a Republican insider. The Iowa Department of Public Health selected MCI for the two-month contract out of 14 applicants, saying it submitted the best proposal and its political connections were not considered. MCI is owned by GOP donor Anthony Marlowe, who has boasted it played a key role in Trump’s 2016 victory and was among the state’s top backers of Trump’s reelection bid.
Kentucky – Woman Faces 3 Counts of Lying to FBI, Jury in Bribery Case Tied to Lexington Council
Lexington Herald-Leader – Beth Musgrave | Published: 12/4/2020
A Kentucky woman was indicted by a federal grand jury for lying to the FBI and making false statements about campaign contributions to Lexington council members during the investigation trial of a former real estate executive. Elizabeth Stormbringer was charged with three counts related to lying about whether she was reimbursed by former CRM Executive Timothy Wellman for campaign contributions she made to Lexington council members in 2018. Wellman had a project the council would consider. He was found guilty on 11 charges relating to obstructing a federal investigation into illegal contributions.
Michigan – ‘Unambiguous, Loud and Threatening’: Trump supporters protest at home of Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson
USA Today – Miriam Marini (Detroit Free Press) | Published: 12/6/2020
Dozens of protesters gathered in front of Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s home recently, shouting through megaphones against the certification of the election and demanding a forensic audit. A portion of the demonstration was broadcast live on Facebook. The protesters are seen walking up to Benson’s home, some wearing President Donald Trump paraphernalia and carrying American flags. Throughout the election, Trump circulated false conspiracies about election fraud in Michigan. Benson said the protesters gathered in front of her home as she and her four-year-old son were finishing putting up Christmas decorations, just when the two were preparing to watch “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”
Missouri – Medical Marijuana Subpoena May Have Been Connected to Independence FBI Probe
Columbia News Tribune – Jason Hancock (Missouri Independence) | Published: 12/7/2020
Lyndall Fraker, director of medical marijuana regulation at the Missouri Department of Health and Seniors Services, testified a grand jury subpoena his agency received was likely connected to an FBI investigation in Independence. The revelation is the first indication of the target of the federal subpoena. The FBI questioned officials in Independence about a pair of contracts issued by the city council. One called for the city to pay a company $9.75 million to tear down a power plant. The bid was more than twice that of the other bidder. The other contract called for the city to pay nearly $1 million to purchase a golf club to build a solar farm with Gardner Capital. Days before the vote, PACs funded by Gardner made four $2,500 donations to Independence Mayor Eileen Weir, who has denied the donations were connected to her vote to endorse the project.
Nevada – Nevada Supreme Court Rejects Trump Campaign’s Appeal to Overturn Biden’s Win
MSN – Timothy Bella (Washington Post) | Published: 12/9/2020
The Nevada Supreme Court unanimously rejected an appeal from President Trump’s campaign to overturn the state’s election results, the latest loss in the president’s ongoing legal efforts to have states he did not win declare him victorious. The decision from the court came after a lower court gave a full-scale ruling against the Trump campaign’s efforts in the state. Nevada District Court Judge James Russell ruled there was no evidence supporting the claims of fraud and wrongdoing made by the campaign in a state that President-elect Joe Biden won by more than 33,000 votes.
New York – Election Reformers Love Ranked-Choice Voting, but NYC Immigrants See Doom
Courthouse News Service – Nina Pullano | Published: 12/9/2020
Some of New York City’s multinational communities say they are being left behind in the Board of Elections’ plans to implement ranked-choice voting, a system that lets voters choose multiple candidates in order of preference. These groups teamed up with local politicians in a complaint that asks a court to block the change. The complaint accuses the elections board of violating city charter requirements to implement ranked-choice voting in a timely manner, while also contending that the city’s software is not up to snuff and changes of this nature should not be contemplated during the Covid-19 pandemic. Paired with a failure to educate people on ranked-choice voting, the BLA Caucus says New Yorkers of color, seniors, and those who speak limited English are among 5 million voters in danger of disenfranchisement.
Ohio – Householder Dark Money Group Reputedly Broke Deal with AEP-Backed Nonprofit to Fund
MSN – Randy Ludlow and Marc Kovac (Columbus Dispatch) | Published: 12/5/2020
A board member of an American Electric Power-funded nonprofit said a separate group central in the nuclear plant bailout scandal appears to have used grants, including $550,000 newly disclosed in tax filings, for political purposes in violation of its agreement. J.B. Hadden, an attorney who serves on the board of Empowering Ohio’s Economy Inc., said the nonprofit’s grant agreement with Generation Now required the funding be used in compliance with IRS laws and for social welfare purposes only. Part of the agreement with Generation Now stated the money was not to be used “in furtherance of any political or campaign intervention activities.
Ohio – P.G. Sittenfeld Accepts Suspension from Cincinnati City Council After Arrest on Bribery Charges
MSN – Sharon Coolidge (Cincinnati Enquirer) | Published: 12/7/2020
Cincinnati City Councilperson P.G. Sittenfeld accepted a suspension from his seat, a process initiated by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost after Sittenfeld was arrested on federal bribery charges. Sittenfeld is one of three council members arrested and accused of “pay-to-play” schemes this year and the second member of council to accept a state suspension, which bars them from working, but allows them to collect their salary. The city charter does not address what happens in the event an elected official is arrested or convicted on charges of corruption, something that would directly affect their ability to do their job. But state law allows for the suspension of an elected official in the event of an arrest.
Ohio – Should an Ex-FirstEnergy Lobbyist Lead the Hunt for Ohio’s Next Utility Regulator? Consumer Advocate Asks
MSN – Jessie Balmert (Cincinnati Enquirer) | Published: 12/3/2020
Consumer advocates question whether a former FirstEnergy lobbyist should lead the effort to replace ex-Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Chairperson Sam Randazzo, who resigned after the FBI searched his property and a filing implied he received $4 million to terminate “a purported consulting agreement” with FirstEnergy. A nominating council is led by Michael Koren, a former FirstEnergy lobbyist. Koren lobbied for the company when House Bill 6 to subsidize FirstEnergy’s nuclear plants in Ohio was introduced. The bill is at the heart of a corruption scandal allegedly involving FirstEnergy.
Pennsylvania – Firm Ran Pa. Senator’s Campaign and Worked with Super PAC to Attack Opponent, but Denies Coordination
Spotlight PA – Sam Janesch (The Caucus) and Angela Couloumbis | Published: 12/8/2020
In the closing days of this year’s election, an ad attacking Democrat George Scott appeared in his race for the Pennsylvania Senate against incumbent John DiSanto, which was paid for by the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC). Direct coordination between groups like the RSLC, which run super PACs, and campaigns is forbidden. To create the ad, the group turned to a middleman, the same firm running DiSanto’s campaign: Red Maverick Media, headed by strategist Ray Zaborney. No one has accused Zaborney’s firm or RSLC of wrongdoing. But watchdogs and campaign finance experts said the arrangement is another example of how weak state and federal campaign finance rules, combined with meager oversight, create gray areas and loopholes.
Pennsylvania – Trump Asks Pennsylvania House Speaker for Help Overturning Election Results, Personally Intervening in a Third State
MSN – Amy Gardner, Josh Dawsey, and Rachael Bade (Washington Post) | Published: 12/7/2020
President Trump called the speaker of the Pennsylvania House twice to make an extraordinary request for help reversing his loss in the state, reflecting a broadening pressure campaign by the president and his allies to try to subvert the 2020 election result. The president’s outreach to Pennsylvania’s Republican House leader came after his campaign and its allies decisively lost numerous legal challenges in the state in both state and federal court. Trump has continued to press his baseless claims of widespread voting irregularities both publicly and privately.
Tennessee – Rutherford Mayor Bill Ketron Faces Audit Hearings on Campaign Finance Violation Accusations
MSN – Scott Broden (Murfreesboro Daily News Journal) | Published: 12/7/2020
Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron will face audit hearings in 2021 on campaign finance accusations. The Tennessee Registry of Election Finance approved staff audits of Ketron’s state senate and Quest PAC accounts between January 2018 and July 2019. Another pending audit of Ketron’s mayoral campaign finance account is expected to be done by February. The registry issued subpoenas in 2019 while the mayor’s daughter, Kelsey Ketron, faced insurance fraud charges as part of an indictment pertaining to her job with the family-owned insurance company. Kelly Ketron served as treasurer during his campaigns, and indictments accused her of pocketing over $65,000 from her father’s political funds.
Texas – California-Based Independent Voter Project Hosts Trip to Hawaii for State Legislators, Raising Ethics Filing Probe
The Center Square – Bethany Blankley | Published: 12/9/2020
A California-based organization paid for roughly 100 legislators from four states, including Texas, to attend a four-day fundraising event in Hawaii. The Independent Voter Project (IVP) is a 501(c)3 organization created to “re-engage nonpartisan voters and promote nonpartisan election reforms through initiatives, litigation, and voter education.” Despite Hawaii’s stringent lockdown, IVP received special permission to hold a conference with more than the 12-person limit. The Dallas Morning News found that over the last three years of IVP hosting this trip, potential financial disclosure violations exist for Texas lawmakers who attended.
Texas – Texas Senate Affairs Committee Holds Hearing on Taxpayer-Funded Lobbying
The Center Square – Bethany Blankley | Published: 12/9/2020
Each year, local governments in Texas spend tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on lobbyists whose job it is to persuade state lawmakers to allow for bigger government. It is a practice some legislators say must end. The Senate Affairs Committee held a hearing on the issue of taxpayer-funded lobbying at the Capitol. State Sen. Bob Hall filed legislation to end the practice after a companion bill was filed in the House. Hall said at the meeting that taxpayer-funded lobbying has been used to work against taxpayers. Tom Forbes, president of the Professional Advocacy Association of Texas, said if the Legislature were to ban the practice next year, taxpayer-funded lobbying would continue, it just would not be as visible and would operate in the shadows.
Washington DC – Ivanka Trump Confirms She Was Questioned by the D.C. Attorney General’s Office Over Inaugural Committee Spending
MSN – Jacqueline Alemany and David Fahrenthold (Washington Post) | Published: 12/2/2020
Ivanka Trump said she was questioned for more than five hours by investigators from the District of Columbia attorney general’s office, which has accused President Trump’s Inaugural Committee of wasting donating money on an overpriced ballroom at the president’s hotel in the city. In early 2017, when the Inaugural Committee booked ballrooms at the hotel, that meant the president was effectively on both sides of the transaction: his committee paid his hotel, using donors’ money. Attorney General Karl Racine said the committee and the hotel took advantage of that arrangement.
December 9, 2020 •
Campaign Finance National: “Murdoch’s Son and Daughter-in-Law Spent Millions on Progressive Causes in 2020 Cycle” by Ollie Gratzinger for Center for Responsive Politics Elections National: “Women Make Record-Breaking Gains Across State Legislatures” by Julia Manchester for The Hill Pennsylvania: “Trump […]
National: “Murdoch’s Son and Daughter-in-Law Spent Millions on Progressive Causes in 2020 Cycle” by Ollie Gratzinger for Center for Responsive Politics
National: “Women Make Record-Breaking Gains Across State Legislatures” by Julia Manchester for The Hill
Pennsylvania: “Trump Asks Pennsylvania House Speaker for Help Overturning Election Results, Personally Intervening in a Third State” by Amy Gardner, Josh Dawsey, and Rachael Bade (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Steakhouses, Hill Bars and Ski Trips: GOP carries on amid the pandemic” by Sarah Ferris, Melanie Zanona, and Daniel Lippman for Politico
Florida: “Florida Police Raid House of Fired Data Scientist Who Alleged State Manipulated Covid-19 Stats” by Reis Thebault (Washington Post) for MSN
Missouri: “Medical Marijuana Subpoena May Have Been Connected to Independence FBI Probe” by Jason Hancock (Missouri Independence) for Columbia News Tribune
Ohio: “P.G. Sittenfeld Accepts Suspension from Cincinnati City Council After Arrest on Bribery Charges” by Sharon Coolidge (Cincinnati Enquirer) for MSN
Iowa: “Iowa’s Contact-Tracing Firm Helped Trump, Reynolds Campaigns” by Ryan Foley for Associated Press News
Arizona: “Judge Dismisses Dem Lawsuit Challenging Independent Redistricting Candidates” by Jeremy Duda for Arizona Mirror
December 8, 2020 •
Campaign Finance Canada: “‘Loophole’ in Civic Election Act Breeds Unfairness and Financial Secrecy, Experts Say” by Angela King for CBC Ohio: “Householder Dark Money Group Reputedly Broke Deal with AEP-Backed Nonprofit to Fund” by Randy Ludlow and Marc Kovac (Columbus […]
Canada: “‘Loophole’ in Civic Election Act Breeds Unfairness and Financial Secrecy, Experts Say” by Angela King for CBC
Ohio: “Householder Dark Money Group Reputedly Broke Deal with AEP-Backed Nonprofit to Fund” by Randy Ludlow and Marc Kovac (Columbus Dispatch) for MSN
National: “GOP Women’s Record-Breaking Success Reflects Party’s Major Shift on Recruiting and Supporting Female Candidates” by Rachael Bade for Washington Post
National: “Conservative Nonprofit Group Challenging Election Results Around the Country Has Tie to Trump Legal Adviser Jenna Ellis” by John Swain, Rosalind Helderman, Josh Dawsey, and Tom Hamburger for Washington Post
National: “Neera Tanden, Biden’s Pick for Budget Chief, Runs a Think Tank Backed by Corporate and Foreign Interests” by Yeganeh Torbati and Beth Reinhard (Washington Post) for MSN
Illinois: “Ex-State Sen. Martin Sandoval, Snared in Political Corruption Investigation, Dies of Coronavirus: Attorney” by Jon Seidel, Mark Brown, and Mitchell Armentrout for Chicago Sun-Times
Michigan: “‘Unambiguous, Loud and Threatening’: Trump supporters protest at home of Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson” by Miriam Marini (Detroit Free Press) for USA Today
Arizona: “Arizona Legislature Shuts Down after Rudy Giuliani Possibly Exposed Lawmakers to COVID-19” by Maria Polletta (Arizona Republic) for MSN
Florida: “Florida Voters Barred Ex-Lawmakers from Lobbying for 6 Years, but Revolving Door Still Swings” by Gary Roher (Orlando Sentinel) for MSN
December 4, 2020 •
National/Federal 12 Votes Separated These House Candidates. Then 55 Ballots Were Found. New York Times – Luis Ferré-Sadurní and Jessie McKinley | Published: 12/2/2020 After all the votes had been counted in a heated U.S. House rematch in Central New York, […]
12 Votes Separated These House Candidates. Then 55 Ballots Were Found.
New York Times – Luis Ferré-Sadurní and Jessie McKinley | Published: 12/2/2020
After all the votes had been counted in a heated U.S. House rematch in Central New York, only 12 votes separated Republican Claudia Tenney from U.S. Rep. Anthony Brindisi, a Democrat. But the razor-thin margin is far from the only reason the race is engulfed in chaos. There was the case of the missing Post-it notes, which had mysteriously fallen off a stack of disputed ballots, making it unclear whether they had been counted and why they had been challenged. The scandal has been christened “StickyGate” by local media. The other unresolved House race is an open seat in Iowa’s Second District, where Mariannette Miller-Meeks, a Republican, was recently certified the winner following a recount in which she led the Democrat, Rita Hart, by just six votes. Hart has indicated she intends to challenge the result.
2,596 Trades in One Term: Inside Senator Perdue’s stock portfolio
New York Times – Stephanie Saul, Kate Kelly, and Michael LaForgia | Published: 12/2/2020
Along with U.S. Kelly Loeffler, a fellow Georgia Republican, David Perdue faces an unusual runoff election in January. With control of the Senate at stake, and amid renewed concern about the potential for conflicts-of-interest in stock trading by members of Congress, Perdue’s investment activity, and especially his numerous well-timed trades, has increasingly come into the public glare. Data from Senate Stock Watcher, a website that aggregates publicly available information on lawmakers’ trading, shows the breadth of trades Perdue made in companies that stood to benefit from policy and spending matters that came not just before the Senate as a whole, but before the committees and subcommittees on which he served.
20 Days of Fantasy and Failure: Inside Trump’s quest to overturn the election
MSN – Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey, and Amy Gardner (Washington Post) | Published: 11/28/2020
However clear-eyed President Trump’s aides may have been about his loss to Joe Biden, many of them nonetheless indulged their boss and encouraged him to keep fighting with legal appeals. The result was an election aftermath without precedent in U.S. history. With his denial of the outcome, despite a string of courtroom defeats, Trump endangered America’s democracy, threatened to undermine national security and public health, and duped millions of his supporters into believing, perhaps permanently, that Biden was elected illegitimately.
Criticized by Moderates and Pressured by Their Base, Liberals Fight for a Voice in the Democratic Party
MSN – Sean Sullivan and Rachael Bade (Washington Post) | Published: 11/29/2020
The left is toiling to exert their influence on a Democratic Party led by President-elect Joe Biden, an avowed centrist, and his moderate allies on Capitol Hill. After an election in which the country opted for a reset, not a revolution, moderate Democrats hold the power in the party. Many blame the polarizing themes championed by the left for the party’s shrunken House majority and Senate losses. This recrimination from party leaders, along with skepticism from some Biden allies, could limit liberals’ influence. But liberals offer a different take, arguing their base won Biden the White House. The shifting dynamics in the party have thrust the movement to a crossroad on the eve of the Biden presidency.
Disputing Trump, Barr Says No Widespread Election Fraud
Associated Press News – Michael Balsamo | Published: 12/1/2020
Attorney General William Barr said the Justice Department has not uncovered evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. His comments come despite President Trump’s repeated baseless claims that the election was stolen, Trump’s effort to subvert the results of the 2020 presidential election, and his refusal to concede his loss to Joe Biden. Barr said U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they have received, but they have uncovered no evidence that would change the outcome of the election.
‘Mercenary’ Donor Sold Access for Millions in Foreign Money
Associated Press News – Alan Suderman and Jim Mustain | Published: 11/30/2020
Federal prosecutors say Imaad Zuberi’s life was built on a series of lies and the lucrative enterprise of funding American political campaigns and profiting from the resulting influence. They describe Zuberi as a “mercenary” campaign donor who gave to anyone, often using illegal straw donors, he thought could help him. “Pay-to-play,” he explained to clients, was just “how America work(s).” Zuberi’s story underscores how loosely regulated campaign finance and foreign lobbying laws are and raises an embarrassing question: how does such a cynical fraudster find favor with so many officials at the highest levels of the U.S. government? There are unanswered questions about Zuberi’s foreign entanglements and who benefited from his actions.
New Administration, House Turnover Raise Prospects for More Diversity on K Street
The Hill – Alex Gangitano | Published: 11/19/2020
Business groups in Washington, D.C. are hopeful the incoming Biden administration will prompt a round of hiring that will lead to more diversity on K Street. Diversity among lobbyists has been little changed over the past two years, but the arrival of a new administration and the departure of several House lawmakers increases the odds of more employment opportunities at trade associations, lobbying shops, and law firms. Congressional Democrats led the way on diversity in 2018, when a record number of women and minority lawmakers were elected to Congress. That was followed two years later by Republicans, with 17 GOP women elected to the House earlier this month. But those trends have not extended to K Street.
‘No Corporate PAC’ Pledges Hit Record in 2020, But May Face Uncertainty in 2022
Roll Call – Kate Ackley | Published: 12/2/2020
A record 155 incumbents and challengers vowed to reject corporate PAC money during the 2020 campaign for Congress. That stance helped attract small-dollar donations and generated enthusiasm among voters who favor a broad campaign finance overhaul. But many candidates lost anyway. Now, as Democrats face a 2022 midterm cycle in which, traditionally, the president’s party loses seats in the House, incumbents and future challengers are assessing whether the pledges pay off. On the other side, the PACs of companies continue to grapple with diminished clout partly due to contribution limits set long ago that do not budge for inflation. So, the future of such pledges, along with the influence of corporate PACs, remains uncertain.
NRA Reports Alleged Misspending by Current and Former Executives to IRS
MSN – Beth Reinhard and Carol Leonning (Washington Post) | Published: 11/26/2020
After years of denying allegations of lax financial oversight, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has made a stunning declaration in a new tax filing: current and former executives used the nonprofit group’s money for personal benefit and enrichment. The NRA said it continues to review the alleged abuse of funds, as the tax-exempt organization curtails services and runs up multimillion-dollar legal bills. The assertion of impropriety comes after the attorney general of New York state filed a lawsuit accusing NRA Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre and other top executives of using NRA funds for decades to provide inflated salaries and expense accounts.
Supreme Court Wary of Quick Ruling on Trump Drive to Exclude Many Immigrants from Census
Politico – Josh Gerstein and Zach Montellaro | Published: 11/30/2020
The U.S. Supreme Court seemed reluctant to issue an immediate, sweeping ruling on President Trump’s plans to exclude undocumented immigrants from the decennial census used to allocate House seats. During an oral argument session, there appeared to be few, if any, takers on the high court for Trump’s effort to leave all unlawful immigrants out of the critical count. Several of the court’s most conservative justices seemed skeptical of the constitutionality of the president’s move, but they expressed misgivings about ruling on that issue now when thorny questions about smaller groups of unlawful migrants could be just weeks away.
Trump Era Court Battles Weaken Congressional Power
Roll Call – Todd Ruger | Published: 12/1/2020
Congress will emerge from the Trump administration with weakened power to check a president or oversee the operation of the federal government, the most consequential fallout experts see for lawmakers after four years of nearly constant high-profile courtroom showdowns with a defiant president. Democratic lawmakers often had no other recourse than to go to court because of President Trump’s approach. Once there, lawmakers fell short or did not get what they sought, and it does not bode well for similar oversight efforts in administrations to come.
Trump Has Discussed with Advisers Pardons for His 3 Eldest Children and Giuliani
New York Times – Maggie Haberman and Michael Schmidt | Published: 12/1/2020
President Trump has discussed with advisers whether to grant pre-emptive pardons to his children, to his son-in-law, and to his personal lawyer Rudolph Giuliani, and talked with Giuliani about pardoning him as recently as last week, according to two people briefed on the matter. Trump has told others he is concerned that a Justice Department under President-elect Joe Biden might seek retribution against the president by targeting the oldest three of his five children – Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, and Ivanka Trump – as well as Jared Kushner, a White House senior adviser. The speculation about pardon activity at the White House is churning furiously, underscoring how much the Trump administration has been dominated by investigations and criminal prosecutions of people in the president’s orbit.
Trump Pardons Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Who Pleaded Guilty to Lying to the FBI
Washington Post – Rosalind Helserman and Josh Dawsey | Published: 11/25/2020
President Trump pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, ending a three-year legal saga that included Flynn’s guilty plea for lying to the FBI, his later effort to withdraw that plea, and then a controversial decision by Attorney General William Barr to try to drop the case altogether. Trump’s move marks a full embrace of the retired general he had ousted from the White House after only 22 days on the job, and a final salvo against the Russia investigation that shadowed the first half of his term in office. The pardon for Flynn underlines how Trump has used his clemency power to benefit allies and well-connected offenders.
Trump Raises More Than $150 Million Appealing to False Election Claims
MSN – Josh Dawsey and Michelle Yee He Lee (Washington Post) | Published: 11/30/2020
President Trump’s political operation has raised more than $150 million since Election Day, using misleading appeals about the election to shatter fundraising records set during the campaign. The influx of political donations is one reason Trump and some allies are inclined to continue a legal onslaught and public affairs blitz focused on baseless claims of election fraud, even as their attempts have repeatedly failed in court and as key states continue to certify wins for President-elect Joe Biden. Much of the money raised since the election is likely to go into an account for the president to use on political activities after he leaves office.
Trump to Restart Foreign Deals, Breaking a Post-Presidency Norm
Politico – Anita Kumar | Published: 12/1/2020
President Trump’s namesake company plans to resume foreign real estate projects after he leaves office as it grapples with a tarnished brand in the United States and the need to pay off hundreds of millions of dollars of debt. The arrangement is already being criticized as one that could be used to pay back Trump for his policies as president or to influence U.S. policy through a former president – and possibly a future presidential candidate. Other former presidents have faced allegations they were monetizing the office with their post-presidency ventures, But Trump’s return to overseas deal-making as a private businessperson raises a new set of ethical issues no ex-president has ever confronted.
Canada – Lobbying Watchdog Says Three Cases Have Been Sent to RCMP for Criminal Investigation Since Start of Pandemic
National Post – Christopher Nardi | Published: 11/28/2020
The federal lobbying watchdog says she has referred three files to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for criminal investigation since the beginning of the pandemic in a year that has seen a significant uptick in lobbying. Commissioner of Lobbying Nancy Bélanger was called to detail her office’s work as questions have swirled throughout the summer about the lobbying activities by WE Charity and the husband of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s chief of staff. Both have denied any wrongdoing. During her testimony, Bélanger said 2020 has been a busy year for lobbyists, particularly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
From the States and Municipalities
Alabama – Mike Hubbard’s Prison Sentence Cut from 4 Years to 28 Months
AL.com – Associated Press | Published: 11/25/2020
Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob Walker slashed former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s prison sentence from four years to 28 months, significantly reducing the time the once-powerful Republican will spend behind bars for an ethics conviction. Walker reduced Hubbard’s sentence at the request of defense attorneys after part of his conviction was overturned earlier this year. In his order, Walker noted Hubbard was convicted of 12 felonies when he handed down the four-year sentence, but that six counts were reversed on appeal.
Alaska – Junior Staffer Says Top Alaska Official Told Her to Keep Allegations of Misconduct Secret
ProPublica – Kyle Hopkins (Anchorage Daily News) | Published: 11/18/2020
Officials in the office of Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy, including his chief of staff, knew for months his appointed attorney general had sent unwelcome personal text messages to a staff member but told the woman to keep it quiet, the staffer said. The woman said Tara Fradley, the manager in the governor’s Anchorage office, helped her compose a text to then-Attorney General Kevin Clarkson asking him to stop inviting her to his home at night, something he had done at least 18 times. The woman also said Dunleavy’s chief of staff, Ben Stevens, became aware of the texts by April but no human resources investigators contacted her until two months later, after a whistleblower wrote an anonymous letter that was obtained by news organizations and by an attorney working on an effort to recall Dunleavy from office.
Alaska – Lawsuit Challenges Alaska’s New Ranked-Choice Voting Ballot Measure
Anchorage Daily News – James Brooks | Published: 12/1/2020
The Alaskan Independence Party, its chairperson, and two Anchorage residents are suing to overturn Ballot Measure 2, a sweeping election reform initiative approved in November that would install ranked-choice voting in Alaska’s general elections. The plaintiffs claim the measure would violate their rights “to free political association, free speech, right to petition, right to due process” and other rights guaranteed by the Alaska and U.S. constitutions. In addition to making Alaska the only state other than Maine using ranked elections for almost all contests, the ballot measure imposes new campaign finance disclosure requirements for legislative and local races.
California – Inglewood Caps Campaign Contributions at $100,000 to Avoid New State Law
Los Angeles Daily Breeze – Jason Henry | Published: 11/24/2020
Inglewood will not follow a new state law limiting local campaign contributions to $4,700, instead opting for a cap 21 times higher than what a state senator can accept from a single source. The Inglewood City Council voted unanimously to set the city’s donation limit at $100,000, one of the highest caps in the state. The city of roughly 110,000 residents previously had no limit, but a new state law taking effect in January forces cities and counties to adhere to the limits set for state legislators unless they establish their own law first.
California – Raymond Chan, Former L.A. Deputy Mayor, Charged in Federal City Hall Corruption Case
Los Angeles Times – David Zahniser and Joel Rubin | Published: 11/30/2020
Raymond Chan, a former Los Angeles deputy mayor, is the latest figure to be accused of playing a part in a scheme allegedly run by ousted city Councilperson Jose Huizar. Prosecutors say both men were involved in shaking down developers who sought help pushing real estate projects through the city’s approval process. Prosecutors also announced corruption charges against Wei Huang, chairperson of a Chinese real estate company, and developer Dae Yong Lee. The superseding indictment added new allegations, signaling the government’s intention to prosecute Chan, Huizar, and the two developers as a group. Chan is accused of an array of illegal activities, including arranging “indirect bribe payments” to city officials by securing employment contracts for the officials’ relatives.
California – San Francisco Public Utilities Commission GM Harlan Kelly Charged with Fraud as Part of Corruption Scheme
KPIX – Staff | Published: 11/30/2020
The FBI reportedly raided the home of Harlan Kelly, Jr. on the same day authorities announced he had been charged with honest services wire fraud. Following the charges, Kelly resigned from his post as general manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. Prosecutors say Kelly engaged in a long-running bribery scheme and corrupt partnership with construction executive and permit expediting consultant Walter Wong. Nine people have been charged in a corruption scheme allegedly involving the former head of the city’s Department of Public Works, Mohammed Nuru. The complaint alleges Wong provided Kelly with bribes in exchange for official acts by Kelly that benefited or attempted to benefit Wong’s business ventures.
Colorado – Special Session Catches Secretary of State’s Office Off-Guard
Colorado Politics – Marianne Goodland | Published: 12/1/2020
Colorado’s special legislative session has apparently caught the secretary of state’s office off-guard when it comes to how lobbyists report which bills they are working on. A lobbyist said the special session was not listed on the secretary of state’s lobbyist page, a full day after the session started. If someone entered one of the bills from the special session, the website would default to a 2020 bill from the regular session and could not recognize the nomenclature of the special session bills. And for at least the first 24 hours of the special session, lobbyists had no idea what they were supposed to do.
Delaware – Wilmington Councilman Rebuked: ‘City employees must not be threatened for doing their jobs’
Wilmington News Journal – Jeanne Kuang | Published: 11/25/2020
Wilmington City Councilperson Vash Turner received a public reprimand from the city’s Ethics Commission, which found he violated city code when he threatened cutting an auditor’s salary during a public meeting. The Ethics Commission received a complaint from the auditor, Terence Williams, who refused to conduct a forensic audit of the insolvent nonprofit Wilmington Housing Partnership’s finances as requested by council members in a resolution, saying he believed it would be expensive and unnecessary in lieu of a traditional audit. Turner asked council staff in an email to “work on a resolution or ordinance to reduce the Auditor salary for insubordination of council legislation,” according to the commission.
Georgia – ‘Someone’s Going to Get Killed’: GOP election official in Georgia blames President Trump for fostering violent threats
Anchorage Daily News – Amy Gardner and Keith Newell (Washington Post) | Published: 12/1/2020
A top Republican election official in Georgia lashed out at President Trump during a news conference, blaming him for a flood of threats that have besieged his office and calling on the president and other Republicans to condemn the behavior. Gabriel Sterling, a voting systems manager for Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, was visibly angry and shaken as he approached a lectern in the Georgia Capitol. Sterling’s public chastisement represents one of the strongest rebukes yet of Trump’s baseless attacks on the election’s integrity by a member of his own party.
Hawaii – Ex-Hawaii Prosecutor, Police Chief Get Prison for Corruption
Yahoo News – Jennifer Sinco Kelleher (Associated Press) | Published: 11/30/2020
A judge sentenced a former high-ranking Honolulu prosecutor to 13 years in prison and her retired police chief husband to seven years, saying she stole money from her own grandmother and then used his law enforcement power to frame her uncle for a crime he did not commit – all to maintain the couple’s lavish lifestyle. Louis Kealoha agreed to retire amid a wide-ranging federal investigation. The judge described how Katherine Kealoha orchestrated a reverse mortgage scheme that forced her grandmother to sell her home, framed her uncle for stealing the Kealohas’ mailbox, stole money from children whose trusts she controlled as a lawyer, cheated her uncle out of his life savings, convinced her firefighter lover to lie about their affair, and used her position as a prosecutor to turn a drug investigation away from her brother.
Illinois – City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin Denies Wrongly Firing Chief of Staff, Other Employees
Chicago Tribune – Gregory Pratt | Published: 11/23/2020
A former top aide to Chicago City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin alleged in an email to a city ethics official that she was fired after refusing to participate in unspecified “illegal and unethical conduct.” Conyears-Ervin said that is false. Conyears-Ervin’s former chief of staff, Tiffany Harper, was fired along with three colleagues. Conyears-Ervin said she pushed the workers out as part of an office shake-up designed to move her office in a different direction. But in an email to Steve Berlin, executive director of the city’s ethics board, Harper said she believes she and two other officials were let go “without cause or reason.”
Illinois – New Cache of ComEd Documents Shows Indicted Madigan Confidant Pressing Utility for Jobs and Contracts
Yahoo News – Dan Petrella, Jamie Munks, and Ray Long (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 11/26/2020
Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) released a trove of documents in an Illinois House committee probe into Speaker Michael Madigan’s actions. ComEd has admitted to operating a scheme to influence Madigan. Federal prosecutors say the company hired Madigan’s political allies to win favorable legislation, including electricity rate hikes. They allege those payments were arranged by ComEd executives and lobbyists and funneled to subcontractors who often performed little or no actual work. The developments broaden what is known about the indirect but ethically questionable interactions between Madigan and ComEd at a time when the utility had major legislative business pending at the statehouse that depended on the speaker’s blessing.
New Jersey – Christie’s 2013 Campaign Hasn’t Paid Off $1M in Debt to 2 Firms
Politico – Matt Friedman | Published: 12/1/2020
Seven years after his 2013 reelection, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s gubernatorial campaign still owes $1 million in debt stemming from the Bridgegate scandal. But the moribund campaign may be allowed to stop filing campaign finance reports this year. And there’s no sign that the campaign has sought to pay back its debts, or that either of the companies that are owed the money – a prominent law firm and a cybersecurity firm that billed large monthly amounts to taxpayers during the Christie administration – have made an effort to collect.
New Jersey – NJ Attorney General’s Probe Seeks Records Connected to Democratic Power Broker
Bergen Record – Terrence McDonald | Published: 11/23/2020
An investigation by New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal into public health brokerage contracts and potential “pay-to-play” violations appears to go beyond Bergen County, with investigators now probing Plainfield’s work with a firm run by a Democratic power broker out of Middlesex County. Plainfield received a subpoena seeking contracts and related documents to be reviewed by a state grand jury, five days after the office subpoenaed Bergen County for similar records. The subpoena demands the city hand over a host of documents going back to 2015 related to its employee health insurance broker. The subpoena does not name the firm, but Plainfield’s broker is Acrisure.
North Carolina – Court Upholds North Carolina’s Voter Identification Law
Washington Post – Ann Marimow | Published: 12/1/2020
A federal appeals court upheld North Carolina’s law requiring voters to present photo identification before casting ballots, even as it acknowledged the state’s “long and shameful history of race-based voter suppression.” A unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit said North Carolina’s past practice does not indefinitely prevent the state from enacting new voting restrictions. The panel said a lower-court judge had improperly considered the state’s “past conduct to bear so heavily on its later acts that it was virtually impossible for it to pass a voter-ID law that meets constitutional muster,” according to the opinion from Judge Julius Richardson.
Ohio – Bankruptcy Judge Orders Lobbyists to Testify About Any Ties to Householder Bribery Case
Akron Beacon Journal – Jim Mackinnon | Published: 11/25/2020
A bankruptcy judge is ordering four Ohio lobbyists who work for the top law firm in the FirstEnergy Solutions bankruptcy to answer questions under oath about any possible ties to a bribery case. Bankruptcy Court Judge Alan Koshchik told the four lobbyists, known as the “Ohio statehouse team” with law firm Akin Gump, to answer his questions in writing by January 8. The four lobbyists “were the timekeepers involved who interacted with currently-indicted individuals or entities …,” according to the court filing. The judge said about $2.8 million is being sought by Akin Gump related to state government lobbying, including work tied to the passage of House Bill 6. The bill, now law, is at the center of the $61 million federal bribery investigation.
Ohio – Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld Arrested on Federal Charges
Cleveland Plain Dealer – Andrew Tobias | Published: 11/19/2020
Cincinnati City Councilperson P.G. Sittenfeld was arrested and charged with bribery and attempted extortion. The complaint says Sittenfeld solicited and accepted $40,000 donations, made to a PAC supporting his bid for mayor, from a city developer and two undercover FBI agents posing as the developer’s business partners. In exchange, Sittenfeld in December 2018 promised to “deliver the votes” on city council for a development project, according to the complaint. The arrest is the latest in a string of high-profile corruption cases federal officials have undertaken in Ohio this year.
Ohio – Councilman Mann Seeks Independent Commission to Audit City Council Development Deals Saying the City Is in a ‘Crisis Unlike I Have Seen’
Cincinnati Enquirer – Sharon Coolidge | Published: 11/30/2020
Cincinnati City Councilperson David Mann is putting forward a plan to create a commission that will do an independent assessment of past city development deals. He is calling it the Commission to Clean Up City Council. It comes in the wake of three sitting Cincinnati City Council members being arrested this year on charges that allege they participated in “pay-to-play” schemes. None of the three arrests are related to each other. The commission would review links between campaign contributions and development contracts with the city. In addition to the review, Mann said it would also be tasked with making recommendations to keep corruption out of city deals and recommend any needed changes to the charter.
Ohio – Former Ohio Senate President Admits Ethics Violation for Not Disclosing Lobbying Clients
MSN – Randy Ludlow (Columbus Dispatch) | Published: 11/30/2020
Former Ohio Sen. Tom Niehaus admitted an ethics violation after turning himself in for failing to disclose lobbying clients while serving on the board of the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority. Niehaus, who served as Senate president from 2011 through 2013, reached a settlement approved by the Ohio Ethics Commission in which he received a reprimand for violating ethics laws. The investigation uncovered no evidence that Niehaus’ actions benefited any of his lobbying clients while he served on the authority’s board.
Ohio – Watchdog Group Aims to Turn Lights Back on with Open Records
The Record-Herald – Farnoush Amiri (Associated Press) | Published: 11/30/2020
A watchdog group is hoping to turn the lights back on at the Ohio Statehouse by opening long-closed records to see who is influencing the legislative process after a $1.3 billion nuclear plant bailout that is now under federal investigation. A proposal from Common Cause Ohio hopes to persuade lawmakers to once again bring transparency and accountability to the process behind a bill becoming a law. The records surround discussions and decisions at the Legislative Service Commission, a nonpartisan agency that assists lawmakers with drafting and researching legislation. The records, also called bill files, include memos from a bill’s sponsor and material provided by lobbyists who asked the House or Senate sponsor to propose it.
Pennsylvania – Ex-State Lawmaker Found Guilty in Bribery Case Loses Appeal of Her Convictions, Probation Sentence
PennLive.com – Matt Miller | Published: 11/30/2020
A Pennsylvania appeals court panel refused to overturn the convictions of former state Rep. Vanessa Brown on conflict-of-interest and bribery charges stemming from an undercover sting operation. The Superior Court judges reached that decision despite Vanessa Brown’s claims of racial bias and prosecutorial impropriety. Brown in 20108 was sentenced to 23 months of probation and ordered to pay $4,000 in restitution. Investigators said Brown took that amount of money in payoffs from an undercover agent with the state attorney general’s office who was posing as a lobbyist during an investigation into corruption in state government.
Pennsylvania – Pittsburgh Looks to Tighten Campaign Finance Reports for PACs, Independent Expenditures
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Ashley Murray | Published: 11/24/2020
Pittsburgh’s Ethics Hearing Board wants to track so-called dark money in local political campaigns. A bill before the city council would allow the board to do that by requiring tighter reporting rules for PACs and allowing further tracking of funds that back direct political mailers and ads. As the city law stands now, residents seeking local elected office must file a financial disclosure report for their respective candidate committees on the first business day of each month for three months leading up to the election. The proposed legislation would require the same reporting rigor for independent groups of individuals funding a campaign for or against a candidate or a ballot question.
Tennessee – Memphis City Council Votes Against Reforms to Bring Lobbying into the Light
MSN – Samuel Hardiman (Memphis Commercial Appeal) | Published: 12/1/2020
The Memphis City Council voted against adopting an ordinance that would require those lobbying the council to register and name their clients. The proposal would have required those paid to lobby council members to register with the city permits’ office, pay a $50 annual fee, and have their name on a list available to the public that includes who has hired them. Councilperson Martavius Jones called the ordinance “unnecessary.” Jones said the measure would not make council more transparent and there is nothing stopping council members from saying “no” to meetings with lobbyists.
Texas – Lawyers for Nate Paul Gave AG Ken Paxton $25k After He Waded into Civil Suit
Houston Chronicle – Taylor Goldentein and Jay Root | Published: 12/1/2020
Several weeks after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton made the unusual move of intervening in a civil lawsuit involving his friend and campaign donor Nate Paul, Paxton received a $25,000 donation from the law firm hired by Paul in the case, records show. Involving his office in the civil case was just one of a handful of apparent interventions by Paxton on behalf of Paul that troubled the attorney general’s top aides, leading seven of them to report Paxton to law enforcement for potential corruption charges in October, including bribery and abuse of office. Those accusations are now being investigated by the FBI.
Virginia – As Virginia Democrats Rein Themselves In with Bill Limits, Some Legislators See Lost Opportunities
Washington Post – Laura Vozzella | Published: 11/29/2020
Because the coronavirus has made the logistics of legislating more difficult, Virginia’s House and Senate will strictly limit the number of bills that can be introduced for the General Assembly session that begins January 13. Delegates will be allowed to propose seven bills apiece, down from the usual 15. Senators – who have not had a hard limit in years, if ever – will be capped at 12 each. That is forcing Virginia’s 140 legislators to be especially selective about what bills they submit. The first casualty of that policy could be the handful of lighter and quirky bills that usually leaven each session. The second could be the Democrats’ agenda.
Washington DC – Outgoing D.C. Council Member David Grosso Will Work as a Lobbyist for Arent Fox
Washington Post – Julie Zauzmer | Published: 12/1/2020
Outgoing District of Columbia Councilperson David Grosso will take a job as a lobbyist for a firm representing clients with business before the council. Grosso (I-At Large), who decided not to seek reelection this year, said he will lobby his former colleagues on behalf of clients including hospitals and cannabis businesses, in addition to working on national issues, in his new role as a partner at Arent Fox. A critic during his time in office of too-cozy relationships between business interests and public officials, Grosso said he views his decision to go from lawmaker to lobbyist as different from the conduct of predecessors he has criticized.
December 1, 2020 •
Campaign Finance Pennsylvania: “Pittsburgh Looks to Tighten Campaign Finance Reports for PACs, Independent Expenditures” by Ashley Murray for Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Elections National: “Wisconsin Recount Confirms Biden’s Win Over Trump, Cementing the President’s Failure to Change the Election Results” by Rosalind […]
Pennsylvania: “Pittsburgh Looks to Tighten Campaign Finance Reports for PACs, Independent Expenditures” by Ashley Murray for Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
National: “Wisconsin Recount Confirms Biden’s Win Over Trump, Cementing the President’s Failure to Change the Election Results” by Rosalind Helderman and Amy Gardner (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “NRA Reports Alleged Misspending by Current and Former Executives to IRS” by Beth Reinhard and Carol Leonning (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Trump Pardons Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Who Pleaded Guilty to Lying to the FBI” by Rosalind Helserman and Josh Dawsey for Washington Post
Delaware: “Wilmington Councilman Rebuked: ‘City employees must not be threatened for doing their jobs’” by Jeanne Kuang for Wilmington News Journal
Illinois: “City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin Denies Wrongly Firing Chief of Staff, Other Employees” by Gregory Pratt for Chicago Tribune
Illinois: “New Cache of ComEd Documents Shows Indicted Madigan Confidant Pressing Utility for Jobs and Contracts” by Dan Petrella, Jamie Munks, and Ray Long (Chicago Tribune) for Yahoo News
Virginia: “As Virginia Democrats Rein Themselves In with Bill Limits, Some Legislators See Lost Opportunities” by Laura Vozzella for Washington Post
Ohio: “Bankruptcy Judge Orders Lobbyists to Testify About Any Ties to Householder Bribery Case” by Jim Mackinnon for Akron Beacon Journal
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