February 23, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Michigan: “Millions Poured into Michigan Petition Drives. Their Funding Is a Mystery.” by Yue Stella Yu for Bridge Michigan Pennsylvania: “Doug Mastriano Said He’s Barely Spent Any Money Running for Governor. How Can That Be?” by Andrew Seidman […]
Michigan: “Millions Poured into Michigan Petition Drives. Their Funding Is a Mystery.” by Yue Stella Yu for Bridge Michigan
Pennsylvania: “Doug Mastriano Said He’s Barely Spent Any Money Running for Governor. How Can That Be?” by Andrew Seidman (Philadelphia Inquirer) for MSN
Rhode Island: “In Failed Bid to Unseat Cicilline, Republican Candidate Sought Help from Russian Intelligence” by Alex Kuffner (Providence Journal) for Yahoo News
National: “The Long Crusade of Clarence and Ginni Thomas” by Danny Hakim and Jo Becker for New York Times
National: “Supreme Court Formally Denies Trump’s Request to Review the January 6 Committee’s Bid for White House Records” by Sonam Sheth, Brent Griffiths, and Oma Seddiq (Business Insider) for Yahoo News
Hawaii: “How Honolulu’s Ex-City Attorney Went from Obscurity to a Federal Indictment” by Christina Jedra for Honolulu Civil Beat
Nebraska: “Female Nebraska Lawmakers Call for Change Amid Photo Probe” by Grant Schulte (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
Massachusetts: “The Massachusetts State House Is Now Open to the Public, Nearly Two Years into the COVID Pandemic” by Alison Kuznitz for MassLive.com
February 11, 2022 •
National/Federal ‘Blue’ Suburban Moms Are Mobilizing to Counter Conservatives in Fights Over Masks, Book Bans and Diversity Education Washington Post – Annie Gowan | Published: 2/9/2022 Dozens of suburban moms from around the country dialed into an Ohio-based Zoom training session […]
‘Blue’ Suburban Moms Are Mobilizing to Counter Conservatives in Fights Over Masks, Book Bans and Diversity Education
Washington Post – Annie Gowan | Published: 2/9/2022
Dozens of suburban moms from around the country dialed into an Ohio-based Zoom training session with the same goal – to learn how to combat the increasingly vitriolic rhetoric from parents whose protests over mask mandates and diversity education have turned school board meeting rooms into battlegrounds. Moms for Liberty, a controversial Florida-based political action group started by two former school board members and a Republican activist, has made parental rights its rallying cry and is hoping to harness anger over mask mandates and diversity education in schools into power at the polls.
‘Dear White Staffers’: Anonymous testimonials about workplace culture grip Capitol Hill
MSN – Mariana Sotomayor (Washington Post) | Published: 2/4/2022
Concerns about low pay, hostile work environments, and racial and gender discrimination have gripped Capitol Hill as an Instagram account called “Dear White Students” has posted hundreds of testimonials from current and former aides that tell a dispiriting story about what it is like to work in the halls of Congress. The account was created in January 2020, and its first post was a meme during the Trump administration mocking how minorities are paid less than White staffers, but its profile on Capitol Hill has risen steadily since the new year.
How Manchin Used Politics to Protect His Family Coal Company
Yahoo News – Scott Waldman (Politico) | Published: 2/8/2022
As West Virginia’s governor, Joe Manchin supported a provision in a clean energy bill that was moving through the state Legislature in 2009. It classified waste coal as an alternative energy. But the mix of discarded coal and rocks is a carbon-intensive fuel. Manchin’s family business stood to benefit financially when it was reclassified as something akin to solar, wind, and hydropower. He has used his political positions to protect the fuel, and a single power plant in West Virginia that burns it, from regulations that also threatened his family business. It continues today. Only now Manchin has enormous influence over federal climate policy.
Judges Take Over Drawing Dozens of House Districts – and Throw Dems a Bone
Yahoo News – Ally Mutnick (Politico) | Published: 2/4/2022
Most states have finished their maps, but state and federal courts will direct the drawing of some 75 congressional districts in at least seven states in the coming months, marking a new phase in the process before the first 2022 primaries begin. Taken together, the court interventions have eased Democratic fears about redistricting. So far, the decisions have validated the party’s state-by-state legal strategy and offered a reprieve from several Republican gerrymandering attempts before a single election could be held under the new lines.
Manafort Lender Gets One Year in Prison for Bid to Get Trump Job
Yahoo Finance – Bob Van Voris (Bloomberg) | Published: 2/7/2022
A Chicago banker convicted of trying to trade $16 million in bank loans to former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort for the chance at a top administration post was sentenced to a year in prison. Stephen Calk was found guilty of financial institution bribery and conspiracy over the loans. Calk had hoped then-President Trump would name him to a powerful government post, including treasury secretary, defense secretary, or ambassador to France or the United Kingdom.
National Archives Asks Justice Dept. to Investigate Trump’s Handling of White House Records
MSN – Matt Zapotosky, Jacqueline Alemany, Ashley Parker, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 2/9/2022
The National Archives and Records Administration asked the Justice Department to examine Donald Trump’s handling of White House records. Officials recovered 15 boxes of materials from the former president’s Mar-a-Lago residence that were not handed back to the government as they should have been, and Trump had turned over other White House records that had been torn up. Archives officials suspected Trump possibly violated laws concerning the handling of government documents, including those that might be considered classified.
One Menacing Call After Another: Threats against lawmakers surge
Yahoo News – Catie Edmondson and Mark Walker (New York Times) | Published: 2/9/2022
The New York Times reviewed more than 75 indictments of people charged with threatening lawmakers since 2016. The flurry of cases shed light on a chilling trend: in recent years, and particularly since the beginning of Donald Trump’s presidency, a growing number of Americans have taken ideological grievance and political outrage to a new level, lodging concrete threats of violence against members of Congress. Many of threats were fueled by forces that have long dominated politics, including partisan divisions and a media landscape that stokes resentment. But they surged during Trump’s time in office and in its aftermath.
Republicans Censure Cheney, Kinzinger, Call Jan. 6 Probe Attack on ‘Legitimate Political Discourse’
Reuters – Doins Chiach | Published: 2/4/2022
The Republican Party censured U.S. Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for joining Congress’ investigation of the attack on the Capitol and Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election defeat, calling the probe an attack on “legitimate political discourse.” Cheney and Kinzinger are the only Republicans on the House select committee. The panel is investigating who, including people in Trump’s inner circle, had any role in planning or enabling the worst assault on the Capitol since the War of 1812.
Stock Trading Ban for Lawmakers Gains Momentum on Capitol Hill
New York Times – Jonathan Weisman | Published: 2/9/2022
An effort to strictly control stock ownership by members of Congress is gathering momentum on Capitol Hill for the first time in a decade, fueled by politically vulnerable lawmakers who recognize the potency of signaling to voters that they will act on the perceived corruption in Washington. The issue of banning the ownership and trading of individual stocks by lawmakers is complex. It raises questions of just what other kinds of personal investments or economic liabilities could be perceived as conflicts of interest, and how far the prohibitions should extend.
Two House Democrats Question PR Firms on Work with Fossil Fuel Companies
Yahoo News – Zack Budrick (The Hill) | Published: 2/9/2022
U.S. Reps. Katie Porter and Raúl Grijalva sent a letter to six public relations firms, asking for details on their work with energy companies and whether they had aided them in campaigns to obscure the link between fossil fuels and climate change. The letter specifically cited a video recorded last summer by an undercover Greenpeace activist, in which Exxon lobbyist Keith McCoy tells the videographer the company “[fought] against some of the science” and used “shadow groups” to obfuscate the link.
Canada – Faith Goldy, Far-Right 2018 Toronto Mayoral Candidate, Faces Possible Prosecution Over Election Finances
Toronto Star – David Ryder | Published: 2/9/2022
Faith Goldy, a far-right pundit who has promoted white supremacy, faces possible prosecution over her 2018 Toronto mayoral campaign fundraising. The cit’’s compliance committee voted to refer findings from an audit to a provincial prosecutor. The committee was told Goldy failed to disclose more than $150,000 in campaign donations, illegally accepted contributions from non-Ontarians, mixed her personal and campaign funds, and did not co-operate with the audit.
From the States and Municipalities
Alabama – Supreme Court Stops Lower Court Order Requiring Alabama to Draw a New District Voting Map Favorable to Black Residents
MSN – Robert Barnes (Washington Post) | Published: 2/7/2022
The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for Alabama to use its new Republican-drawn congressional map in the 2022 elections even though a lower court said it violated the Voting Rights Act by denying a new district favorable to a Black candidate. The majority did not provide a reason for stopping the lower court’s decision. But Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Samuel Alito wrote separately to say the changes ordered by the lower court came too close to qualifying and primaries for the fall election and could create “chaos.” The case is the first for current Supreme Court justices to consider how to apply the Voting Rights Act to racial gerrymandering.
California – On Heels of Ridley-Thomas Indictment, LA County Hires Firm to Launch Sweeping Audit
Los Angeles Daily News – Ryan Carter and City News Service | Published: 2/4/2022
Los Angeles County hired the law firm Covington & Burling to conduct the audit of its contracting policies and processes and review all its major service contracts. On the heels of former Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas’s indictment and suspension from the city council, the Board of Supervisors voted to conduct the audit to ensure transparency in the county’s contracting procedures, which came into question following Ridley-Thomas’s indictment on federal bribery and conspiracy charges.
California – Why San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo Is Being Sued Over Private Emails
San Jose Mercury News – Maggie Angst | Published: 2/8/2022
Five years after California Supreme Court’s ruling that texts and emails sent by public officials on their personal devices or accounts containing public business should be considered public records, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and the city are being sued for violating the landmark ruling they sparked. The state Supreme Court unanimously ruled in the case City of San Jose v. Superior Court (Ted Smith) that when a public employee uses a personal account to communicate about public business, the content may be subject to disclosure.
Florida – Lawmakers Target Protests Outside Homes
WTVX – Dara Kam (News Service of Florida) | Published: 2/8/2022
A year after passing a sweeping law aimed at protests, Florida legislators are moving forward with a proposal that could criminalize demonstrations in front of or around people’s homes, including the governor’s mansion. The prohibition would apply not only to private property but extend to public parks, sidewalks. and rights-of-way. Critics say the legislation could allow law enforcement officials to arrest peaceful protesters and lead to Black and Hispanic demonstrators being targeted by police.
Georgia – Judge: Kemp can’t use leadership committee funds for primary
Yahoo News – Kate Brumback (Associated Press) | Published: 2/7/2022
A “leadership committee” created by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp under a new state law must stop spending money to get the governor reelected during the Republican primary, a federal judge ruled. Former U.S. Sen. David Perdue, who is challenging Kemp in the primary, filed a lawsuit challenging the new law. Perdue and his campaign allege the law gives Kemp a significant and unfair fundraising and spending advantage in the primary and asked the judge to declare it unconstitutional.
Hawaii – Indictment Puts Spotlight on One of the Most Connected Men in Honolulu
Honolulu Civil Beat – Christina Jedra | Published: 2/8/2022
At various times, Max Sword had a hand in vetting the job applications of state judges, deciding how much money Hawaii legislators should make, and drawing the maps of Honolulu’s voting districts. Currently, he is on the board of the Honolulu Board of Water Supply. It was Sword’s role as chair of the Honolulu Police Commission that led to his recent indictment. He is accused of conspiring with former city Attorney Donna Leong and former Managing Director Roy Amemiya to misuse city funds to give former police chief Louis Kealoha a $250,000 retirement package.
Hawaii – Two Hawaii Lawmakers Charged in Bribery Scheme Over Cesspool Legislation
Honolulu Civil Beat – Blaze Lovell | Published: 2/8/2022
Former Hawaii Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English and state Rep. Ty Cullen were charged by federal prosecutors with accepting bribes to support and defeat legislation on behalf of an industrial services company hoping to benefit from state cesspool regulations. Prosecutors allege English illegally accepted more than $15,000 and Cullen collected more than $23,000 in bribes. English retired at the end of the 2021 legislative session in May. Cullen was vice chairperson of the House Finance Committee, where he played a part in directing government spending on construction projects.
Iowa – Bill Would Remove ‘Swarm’ of Lobbyists from Iowa Capitol Rotunda
Globe Gazette – James Lynch | Published: 2/7/2022
A proposal to make room for “regular people” at the Iowa Capitol is getting a cool response from some of the lobbyists who would be displaced. House File 2276 would restrict lobbyists from engaging in lobbying activity in the second-floor rotunda between the House and Senate chambers. They would be permitted to be in the lobbyists’ lounges adjacent to each chamber as well as the House and Senate lounge when meeting with legislators.
Louisiana – Jeff Landry Didn’t Report $4,000+ in Travel Receipts from National Group, Despite Ethics Rules
The Advocate – Andrea Gallo | Published: 2/4/2022
Attorney General Jeff Landry failed to report he received more than $4,000 in travel reimbursements last year within the period that state public servants are required to submit such expenses to the Louisiana Board of Ethics. Tax forms show the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) reimbursed Landry for three trips in 2021. RAGA’s past tax forms show they have reimbursed Landry at least $8,000 in travel expenses since 2018. Landry has never reported the reimbursements. State law requires public officials to disclose when they receive reimbursements or comped travel; they must do so within 60 days of receipt.
Michigan – Giuliani Asked Michigan Prosecutor to Give Voting Machines to Trump Team
Anchorage Daily News – Jon Swaine, Emma Brown, and Jaqueline Alemany (Washington Post) | Published: 2/9/2022
In the weeks after the 2020 election, Rudolph Giuliani and other legal advisers to then-President Trump asked a Republican prosecutor in northern Michigan to get his county’s voting machines and pass them to Trump’s team. Antrim County prosecutor James Rossiter said Giuliani and several colleagues made the request during a telephone call after the county initially misreported its election results. Legal scholars said it was unusual and inappropriate for a president’s representatives to make such a request of a local prosecutor.
Michigan – Reforms Sought on Recall Fundraising After Whitmer Raises Millions Extra
Detroit News – Beth LeBlanc | Published: 2/8/2022
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s ability to accept excess campaign contributions because of a recall is generating legislation in the Michigan House to reform a practice that critics have called a loophole. Under the proposal, candidates would be required to create a separate fund to hold contributions related to the recall instead of mixing the extra cash with normal political donations, among other provisions. The bill stems from Whitmer’s use last year of a recall policy to collect about $4 million in contributions above the state’s normal giving limits, which are capped for individual donors at $7,150 for a statewide candidate committee.
Montana – Judge Strikes Parts of Heavily Amended Campaign Finance Bill
MSN – Amy Beth Hanson (Associated Press) | Published: 2/4/2022
A judge ruled the Montana Legislature violated the state constitution when it changed a campaign finance bill late in the 2021 session to make it harder to register and to encourage college students to vote and to, in effect, limit donations to judicial campaigns. The judge granted a permanent injunction preventing the state from enforcing the two provisions that were added to Senate Bill 319 during a conference committee, with no public input, a day before the Legislature adjourned. Montana’s Constitution requires that bills contain a single subject. It also prevents legislators from amending laws so much that their original purpose is changed.
New York – Cannabis Company Granted Subpoenas of Hochul, Regulators
Albany Times Union – Rebekah Ward | Published: 2/10/2022
A state Supreme Court justice approved four subpoenas that MedMen, a multi-state marijuana operator, will serve on New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s administration as it seeks documents showing any communications between the governor’s office and a rival company. The subpoenas also seek records of communications between the rival, Ascend Wellness Holdings, and state cannabis regulators, as well as additional documents pertaining to a soured deal between MedMen and Ascend. The subpoenas filed by MedMen referenced an article published in December regarding Hochul’s campaign fundraising.
New York – Ethics Groups Want Investigation of Free Help Cuomo Received
MSN – Marina Villeneuve (Associated Press) | Published: 2/7/2022
Watchdog groups say New York’s ethics commission should investigate whether former Gov. Andrew Cuomo broke the law by accepting free help from a group of former aides who worked to defend him against sexual harassment allegations. State ethics law bans public officials from accepting gifts or services worth more than $15 from lobbyists and companies that do business with the state. When Cuomo’s first accusers came forward, he turned to a team of outside advisers who provided him with strategic advice and public relations help. Several of those ex-aides worked for companies that lobby the state or have had state contracts.
New York – Ex-N.Y.C. Shelter Boss to Pay $1.2 Million After Bribery Plea
New York Times – Amy Julia Harris | Published: 2/7/2022
The former head of one of the largest operators of homeless shelters in New York City pleaded guilty to pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from contractors in a scheme that went on for years, as homelessness in the city grew to record numbers. Victor Rivera, founder of the Bronx Parent Housing Network, admitted to accepting kickbacks from contractors working with the organization and laundering the money through entities he controlled. As part of the plea agreement, Rivera is expected to face a prison sentence and agreed to forfeit $1.2 million.
New York – Hochul Leads Pack of Candidates Who Fail to Disclose Sources of Corporate Cash
The City – Sam Mellins (New York Focus) | Published: 2/9/2022
A media investigation revealed elected officials in New York continued to collect money from anonymous donors in violation of a 2019 law that required the disclosure of limited liability company (LLC) owners who made campaign contributions. The law is meant to prevent individuals from using LLCs as an end run around per person donation limits. Gov. Kathy Hochul was among the biggest benefactors of such money in 2021 and did not meet the disclosure requirements for a majority of the donations.
New York – ‘Space’: The bureaucratic frontier threatening the state’s new Public Campaign Finance Board
Gothamist – Brigid Bergin | Published: 2/7/2022
Kristen Zebrowski Stavisky, co-executive director of the New York State Board of Elections, testified recently about what was impeding the progress of the state’s new Public Campaign Finance Board. A top concern, according to Zebrowski Stavisky is the lack of office space. This was making it harder to bring in the personnel needed to launch the program since there is nowhere to put them. She also said their plans to acquire new offices were snared in months of bureaucratic, inter-agency delays. Despite the problems, officials insist the program will be up and running later this year.
North Carolina – North Carolina Supreme Court Rejects Redistricting Map as Unconstitutional
MSN – Meryl Kornfield, Colby Itkowitz, and Maria Luisa Paúl (Washington Post) | Published: 2/4/2022
The North Carolina Supreme Court ruled political district maps drawn by Republican lawmakers are unconstitutional and must be redrawn, a significant victory for Democrats in a state almost evenly divided politically. In a decision divided by party lines, the court found Republican lawmakers drew maps that deprived voters of their “substantially equal voting power on the basis of partisan affiliation.” The ruling is the latest in consequential redistricting wins for Democrats that could determine whether they hold on to their majority in the U.S. House amid all-out war in courtrooms over partisan gerrymandering and voting rights.
North Carolina – Voters, NC Elections Board: Madison Cawthorn candidate challenge should remain
MSN – Gary Robertson (Associated Press) | Published: 2/8/2022
A formal effort to evaluate whether U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn should be disqualified as a candidate because of his involvement in the rally that preceded the U.S. Capitol riot should be allowed to continue, voters and election officials in North Carolina told a federal judge. The candidate challenge says Cawthorn fails to comply with the portion of a post-Civil War amendment to the Constitution pertaining to insurrections. Cawthorn’s speech at the rally supporting then-President Trump, his other comments and information in published reports provide a “reasonable suspicion or belief” that he helped facilitate the insurrection.
Ohio – Audit: FirstEnergy improperly used ratepayer money to fund HB6 dark money efforts
MSN – Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 2/4/2022
Federal regulators told FirstEnergy to refund customers after an audit found the utility did not properly track some of the $71 million it spent on lobbying for a nuclear plant bailout at the center of a corruption scheme. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission found the lobbying expenses led FirstEnergy to improperly raise prices on customers and attempt to “conceal the nature and purpose” of the payments from the public. Like other public utilities, FirstEnergy cannot use money collected from ratepayers to fund lobbying.
Ohio – Ohio Mayor Lambasted for Saying Ice Fishing Would Lead to Prostitution: He ’embarrasses our town with wild claims’
Washington Post – Andrea Salcedo | Published: 2/10/2022
The city council in Hudson, Ohio, planned to cover several items during its recent meeting. But before it moved through their agenda, Council President Chris Foster wanted to gauge whether the council should consider a change to the rules on ice fishing on Hudson Springs Lake. He asked for members’ opinions, and most of what followed centered around safety concerns. Then, Mayor Craig Shubert stepped in, and the conversation took an unexpected turn. His issue with allowing people to ice fish on the lake was that it could lead to prostitution.
Ohio – Ohio Republicans Regroup, Postpone Congressional Map Plan After Latest Ohio Supreme Court Redistricting Rebuke
Cleveland Plain Dealer – Andrew Tobias | Published: 2/8/2022
Following their latest redistricting setback, Republican state lawmakers in Ohio are scrapping plans to introduce a new congressional map plan, deciding they are unable to get the minimal Democratic support it would require become effective in time for the May election. That means responsibility for coming up with a new plan now will go back to the Ohio Redistricting Commission. The state Supreme Court recently rejected GOP-drawn maps for Ohio’s state House and Senate districts. The court also rejected Republicans’ congressional map in January.
Oklahoma – Former Senate Leader Mike Morgan Gets Law License Back 10 Years After Bribery Conviction
Yahoo News – Nolan Clay (Oklahoman) | Published: 2/5/2022
Former Oklahoma Sen. Mike Morgan is being reinstated as a lawyer 10 years after he was convicted of accepting bribes disguised as legal fees. Morgan was convicted of accepting $12,000 to influence legislation. The state Supreme Court found Morgan had established he possesses the good moral character and fitness necessary for reinstatement. Justice Yvonne Kauger wrote the conviction “was based on some very suspect evidence.” Morgan still maintains his innocence.
Oregon – Proposed Oregon Campaign Finance Limits Could Be Upended by a Drafting Technicality
OPB – Dirk VanderHart | Published: 2/9/2022
Last year, it looked like Oregonians might have options for how to limit campaign contributions. Reformers filed six proposals to curb political giving, raising the possibility that dueling measures could compete for voter approval in the 2022 election. Now all but one of those proposals might be dead, at least in their current forms. Secretary of State Shemia Fagan said three measures do not meet a technical requirement of the state constitution. Two alternative campaign finance proposals contain the same problem, supporters concede, meaning they would likely be rejected if they choose to move forward.
Rhode Island – Mattiello Is Latest Former R.I. Lawmaker to Line Up Lucrative Lobbying Clients
MSN – Edward Fitzpatrick (Boston Globe) | Published: 2/7/2022
Former Rhode Island House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello is the latest former state lawmaker to line up a lucrative statehouse lobbying gig, trying to exert influence over his former colleagues. It is clear why big companies and major organizations would want to hire former legislators to lobby on their behalf, said John Marion, executive director of Common Cause Rhode Island. But there is a downside for others who lack that access, he said: “Moneyed interests get the upper hand over the public interest because they can afford to pay former legislators.”
South Carolina – Jury Awards $50M to Bluffton Mayor in Defamation Suit Against Longtime Local Critic
MSN – Sam Ogozalek (The Island Packet) | Published: 2/3/2022
A awarded a total of $50 million in damages to the mayor of Bluffton, South Carolina, in a defamation case against a longtime government critic. Skip Hoagland must pay $40 million in actual damages to Bluffton Mayor Lisa Sulka, who had filed a libel lawsuit against him in 2017, along with $10 million in punitive damages. Sulka filed the lawsuit against Hoagland over emails he sent to several people including the state attorney general. The mayor claimed there were defamatory statements in the messages, such as accusations she committed a crime and was unfit for office.
South Dakota – South Dakota Ethics Board Wants Response from Noem by April
MSN – Stephen Groves (Associated Press) | Published: 2/3/2022
The Government Accountability Board set an April deadline for South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem to respond to a pair of ethics complaints from the state’s attorney general, signaling it believes the complaints might have merit. Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg asked the board to consider two issues. One is whether Noem’s use of state airplanes broke the law, and the other is whether she improperly interfered with a state agency that was evaluating her daughter’s application for a real estate appraiser license. Noem has insisted she has done nothing wrong.
Virginia – Youngkin Campaign Attacks High School Student on Twitter
MSN – Laura Vozzella (Washington Post) | Published: 2/6/2022
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin distanced himself from a tweet mocking a teenager that went out on his campaign account, calling it “unauthorized.” It lashed out at a high school student as well as former Gov. Ralph Northam, tweeting out the teen’s name and photograph after the boy shared a news story about part of the Executive Mansion. Ethan Lynne retweeted a report from public radio station VPM suggesting Youngkin might be scrapping efforts to highlight the history of enslaved people at the mansion. The report contained an error, which Lynne noted on Twitter hours later, when VPM issued a correction.
Wisconsin – Ex-Justice’s Wisconsin Election Probe Drags as Critics Scoff
ABC News – Scott Bauer (Associated Press) | Published: 2/7/2022
Joe Biden’s narrow 2020 victory in Wisconsin has withstood recounts, lawsuits, and multiple reviews. There is no evidence of widespread fraud. But former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman is continuing his probe of the election. In his seven-month inquiry, Gableman has been sued over his response to open records requests and subpoenas and countersued. He has been criticized for scant expense records, ridiculed for sending confusing emails, making rudimentary errors in his filings, and called out for meeting with conspiracy theorists.
February 7, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Montana: “Judge Strikes Part of Law, Saying Last-Minute Changes Violated Constitution” by Seaborn Lawson for Billings Gazette Ethics National: “G.O.P. Declares Jan. 6 Attack ‘Legitimate Political Discourse’” by Jonathan Weisman and Reid Epstein for New York Times New […]
Montana: “Judge Strikes Part of Law, Saying Last-Minute Changes Violated Constitution” by Seaborn Lawson for Billings Gazette
National: “G.O.P. Declares Jan. 6 Attack ‘Legitimate Political Discourse’” by Jonathan Weisman and Reid Epstein for New York Times
New York: “Hochul Opposes Subpoena Seeking Records of Cannabis Deal” by Chris Bragg for Albany Times Union
South Carolina: “Jury Awards $50M to Bluffton Mayor in Defamation Suit Against Longtime Local Critic” by Sam Ogozalek (The Island Packet) for MSN
South Dakota: “South Dakota Ethics Board Wants Response from Noem by April” by Stephen Groves (Associated Press) for MSN
National: “‘Ground Up and Spit Out’: Inside the Hill staffer Instagram rebellion” by Katherine Tully-McManus, Nancy Vu, Eleanor Mueller, and Ximena Bustillo (Politico) for MSN
California: “On Heels of Ridley-Thomas Indictment, LA County Hires Firm to Launch Sweeping Audit” by Ryan Carter and City News Service for Los Angeles Daily News
National: “Judges Take Over Drawing Dozens of House Districts – and Throw Dems a Bone” by Ally Mutnick (Politico) for Yahoo News
February 4, 2022 •
National/Federal Campaigning to Oversee Elections, While Denying the Last One Yahoo News – Jennifer Medina, Nick Corasaniti, and Reid Epstein (New York Times) | Published: 1/30/2022 Nearly two dozen Republicans who have publicly questioned or disputed the results of the 2020 […]
Campaigning to Oversee Elections, While Denying the Last One
Yahoo News – Jennifer Medina, Nick Corasaniti, and Reid Epstein (New York Times) | Published: 1/30/2022
Nearly two dozen Republicans who have publicly questioned or disputed the results of the 2020 election are running for secretary of state across the country, in some cases after being directly encouraged by allies of former President Trump. Their candidacies are alarming watchdog groups, Democrats, and some fellow Republicans, who worry these Trump supporters, if elected to posts that exist largely to safeguard and administer the democratic process, would weaponize those offices to undermine it – whether by subverting an election outright or by sowing doubts about any local, state. or federal elections their party loses.
Critics Say Ginni Thomas’s Activism Is a Supreme Court Conflict. Under Court Rules, Only Her Husband Can Decide If That’s True.
MSN – Michael Kranish (Washington Post) | Published: 1/31/2022
Ginni Thomas has long been one of the nation’s most outspoken conservatives. During her husband’s time on the U.S. Supreme Court, she has run organizations designed to activate right-wing networks and worked for Republicans in Congress. She also worked closely with the Trump administration and has come under fire over messages praising January 6 crowds before the attack on the Capitol. In a number of instances, her activism has overlapped with cases that have been decided by Justice Clarence Thomas. Each justice can decide whether to recuse, and there is no way to appeal a Supreme Court member’s failure to do so.
Democrats Decried Dark Money. Then They Won with It in 2020.
New York Times – Kenneth Vogel and Shane Goldmacher | Published: 1/29/2022
Democrats have complained – with indignation, frustration, and envy – that Republicans and their allies were spending hundreds of millions of difficult-to-trace dollars to influence politics. “Dark money” became a dirty word, as the left warned of the threat of corruption posed by corporations and billionaires that were spending unlimited sums through loosely regulated nonprofits, which did not disclose their donors’ identities. Then came the 2020 election. Spurred by opposition to then-President Trump, donors and operatives allied with the Democratic Party embraced “dark money,” by some measures surpassing Republicans in 2020 spending.
Democrats’ Election Reform Bill Failed in the Senate. What’s Next for Campaign Finance Reform?
OpenSecrets.org – Jimmy Cloutier | Published: 1/27/2022
The fate of campaign finance reform is once again in limbo after Senate Republicans quashed Democrats’ most recent election legislation. The GOP filibustered the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act. A measure to then pass the bill with a simple majority was blocked by U.S. Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin. Democrats are shifting to other legislative priorities, like finding a replacement for retiring U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. What this means for campaign finance reform, and the role of money-in-politics more broadly, is largely unclear.
Dems Avert Total Redistricting Doomsday – but They’re Not Out of the Woods
Yahoo News – Sarah Ferris and Ally Mutnick (Politico) | Published: 2/2/2022
The House Democrats’ campaign chief believes his party has at least avoided a redistricting doomsday that would have automatically handed the GOP control of the chamber in January. Republicans still hold an indisputable advantage going into the midterms. But Democrats have seized this year’s redistricting battle with an unexpected ruthlessness, carving out more blue territory than most had expected even just a few months ago, and netting key wins in the courts.
GOP Sen. Ben Sasse Re-Introduces Bill to Ban Lawmakers from Trading Stocks and Becoming Paid Lobbyists After Retiring
MSN – Bryan Metzger (Business Insider) | Published: 2/2/2022
U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse is re-introducing a sweeping ethics reform package that includes banning members of Congress from trading individual stocks and ban lawmakers from acting as paid lobbyists after leaving Congress. It would also require the president and vice president to publicly disclose their tax returns. In contrast to Sasse’s previous set of proposals, the bill would also prohibit foreign nationals from contributing to ballot measure campaigns.
Jan. 6 Investigators Subpoena 14 in Probe of False Pro-Trump Electors
MSN – Nicholas Wu, Betsy Woodruff Swan, and Kyle Cheney (Politico) | Published: 1/28/2022
The January 6 select committee subpoenaed central players in the Republican effort to submit illegitimate presidential electors in 2020, a push that became a key component of Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn his defeat. The panel investigating the Capitol riot is seeking documents and testimony from two pro-Trump electors each from seven battleground states, all won by Joe Biden, in which Republicans sought to deliver their own slate of electors to Congress.
Memo Circulated Among Trump Allies Advocated Using NSA Data in Attempt to Prove Stolen Election
MSN – Josh Dawsey, Rosalind Helderman, Emma Brown, and Jacqueline Alemany (Washington Post) | Published: 2/3/2022
A memorandum proposed that President Trump should invoke the powers of the National Security Agency and Defense Department to sift through raw electronic communications in an attempt to show foreign powers intervened in the 2020 election to help Joe Biden win. The proposal in some ways mirrors other radical ideas that extremists who denied Biden’s victory were working to sell to Trump between the election and the siege of the U.S. Capitol. But the proposal to seize and analyze “NSA unprocessed raw signals data” raises legal and ethical concerns and distinguishes the memo from other attempts.
Sen. Ben Ray Luján’s Stroke Shows the Fragility of Democrats’ Senate Majority
MSN – Mike DeBonis (Washington Post) | Published: 2/2/2022
For months, Senate Democrats have quietly pondered an improbable but not unthinkable scenario, that their razor-thin majority, secured only by the tiebreaking vote of Vice President Harris, could be suddenly upended by the absence, incapacitation, or death of a single senator. That scenario became reality, with an unexpected twist. In a caucus with 16 senators over 70, including several with documented health issues, it was one of the youngest Democrats, Sen. Ben Ray Luján, who suffered a stroke, leaving the Senate agenda in flux and Democrats pondering the fragility of their governing majority.
Some Records Sent to Jan. 6 Committee Were Torn Up, Taped Back Together – Mirroring a Trump Habit
MSN – Jacqueline Alemany, Josh Dawsey, Amy Gardner, and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) | Published: 1/31/2022
When the National Archives and Records Administration handed over a trove of documents to the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection, some of the Trump White House records had been ripped up and then taped back together. Former President Trump was known for his potentially unlawful habit of tearing presidential records into shreds and tossing them on the floor. The Presidential Records Act requires the preservation of memos, letters, notes, and other written communications related to a president’s official duties, but Trump’s shredding practices apparently continued well into the latter stages of his presidency.
States Moving Fast After Congress Failed to Expand Felon Voting Rights
Yahoo News – Zach Montellaro (Politico) | Published: 2/2/2022
Activists are pushing for new state laws that would more quickly and uniformly restore the voting rights of those convicted of felonies, a movement that has found significant success in recent years. Despite state victories, federal action has been elusive. After a January stumble in Washington, 2022 will determine whether the movement still has momentum as it faces key tests in New Mexico, Virginia, and elsewhere. How successful the re-enfranchisement movement is could affect the makeup of the electorate in the midterms and beyond.
Trump Had Role in Weighing Proposals to Seize Voting Machines
Yahoo News – Alan Feuer, Maggie Haberman, Michael Schmidt, and Luke Broadwater (New York Times) | Published: 1/31/2022
Former President Trump was more directly involved than previously known in exploring proposals to use his national security agencies to seize voting machines as he grasped unsuccessfully for evidence of fraud that would help him reverse the 2020 election. The new accounts provide insight into how the former president considered and to some degree pushed the plans, which would have taken the country into uncharted territory by using federal authority to seize control of the voting systems run by states on baseless grounds of widespread voting fraud.
Trump’s Latest Claim That Election Could Have Been ‘Overturned’ Looms Over Electoral Count Debate in Congress
MSN – Mike DeBonis (Washington Post) | Published: 2/1/2022
New statements from former President Trump insisting his vice president, Mike Pence, could have “overturned” the 2020 presidential election have jolted a congressional debate over changing the federal law under which Trump and his allies sought to reverse Joe Biden’s victory. A bipartisan group of senators has met to discuss revisions to the 1887 Electoral Count Act, which governs the congressional certification for the election of the president and vice president. Lawmakers of both parties sought to keep the discussions on track even as questions arose about whether Republicans would agree to buck the former president and revise the law.
Canada – Critics Call for New Rules for Online Fundraisers After Protest Convoy Takes Anonymous Donations
CBC – Elizabeth Thompson | Published: 1/28/2022
Critics are calling on the federal government in Canada to introduce new rules for online fundraising campaigns after a fundraiser for a protest in Ottawa against vaccine mandates raised millions of dollars, in part from anonymous donors and people using fictitious names. Green Party parliamentary leader Elizabeth May said the GoFundMe fundraiser for the protest convoy raises concerns about whether such campaigns could be used by big businesses or foreign actors to circumvent Canada’s political financing rules.
From the States and Municipalities
Alaska – Alaska House Coalition Will Seek to Remove Rep. David Eastman from Legislative Committees Over His Oath Keepers Membership
Yahoo News – James Brooks (Anchorage Daily News) | Published: 2/1/2022
The Alaska House took a first step toward removing Rep. David Eastman from legislative committees. The move came in response to Eastman’s membership in the Oath Keepers, a far-right paramilitary organization whose leaders have been charged with seditious conspiracy during the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Trump. Eastman has not been accused of a crime and has denounced the charges as politically motivated. He said he will continue to associate with the group as long as it will have him.
Alaska – Without Action from Lawmakers, Triple the Cash Can Flow into Alaska Campaigns This Year
Yahoo News – Nathaniel Herz and Iris Samuels (Anchorage Daily News) | Published: 1/30/2022
Candidates in Alaska’s local and state-level elections this year will be able to collect campaign contributions triple the amount allowed in past races, but uncertainty about the rules means those limits could be raised, lowered, or even eliminated before Election Day. State lawmakers and campaign finance regulators are still processing a court ruling that threw out Alaska’s $500-per-person, per-year limit on donations to candidates. For now, the Alaska Public Offices Commission has raised those limits to $1,500 and to $3,000 for political groups, up from $1,000.
Arizona – Election Workers Could Be Charged with Crimes for Making Mistakes Under GOP Bills
Arizona Mirror – Jeremy Duda | Published: 1/31/2022
An Arizona Senate committee approved bills that would punish election workers who misplace ballots and penalize contractors who do not meet the terms of their contracts. Senate Bill 1055 states that a contractor who provides election-related services to the state or a county “and that fails to perform its obligations under the terms of the contract” is liable for damages equal to the value of the contract and could face criminal charges. The committee also approved a bill that says any ballots that are not included in election officials’ tallies because they were misplaced cannot be counted, and anyone who misplaces a ballot is guilty of a misdemeanor.
Colorado – Colorado School Board Races Are Big-Money Affairs. A New Bill Wants to Reign in Donors with Campaign Finance Limits.
Chalkbeat Colorado – Sandra Fish (Colorado Sun) and Erica Meltzer | Published: 2/1/2022
In the aftermath of big money school board elections around the state, Colorado lawmakers are seeking to cap for the first time how much donors can give to candidates in those races. But a bill that passed a House panel will not affect spending by independent committees that play a significant role in some contests. The bill would limit individual donations in school board races to $2,500 and contributions by small donor committees to $25,000 per candidate. School board candidates are among the few elected offices in Colorado without limits on campaign contributions, and the caps proposed in the bill are higher than those for many other offices.
Connecticut – Investigation: Murky ethics issues surround state official firing
CTNewsJunkie.com – Lisa Backus | Published: 2/2/2022
Several officials at the Connecticut Division of Criminal Justice told Chief State’s Attorney Richard Colangelo Jr. not to hire the daughter of Kostas Diamantis, the deputy secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, to avoid any appearance of a conflict-of-interest, according to an investigation by former U.S. Attorney Stanley Twardy. But Colangelo moved forward with hiring Anastasia Diamantis even as he continued to press her father for raises for himself and his employees. Gov. Ned Lamont turned over the findings to the Office of State Ethics and Justice Andrew McDonald, chair of the Connecticut Criminal Justice Commission.
Florida – Collier County Deputy Manager Fired for Not Disclosing Work for Lobbying Firm
WBBH – Lydia Nusbaum | Published: 1/27/2022
The Collier County manager fired former Deputy Manager Sean Callahan after learning Callahan did not disclose that he worked a second job, as he was required to do by law. Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck announced on March 3, 2021, that Callahan had become a senior policy advisor for the firm. Records show Callahan as a lobbyist with a list of clients within the past several months.
Florida – Florida Education Employee’s Spending Spree Wasn’t Authorized
Miami Herald – Ana Ceballos | Published: 1/28/2022
A Broward County Public Schools employee inappropriately used more than $90,000 in taxpayer money to buy computer equipment and gift cards for himself and colleagues while helping to manage a computer science training project for the Florida Department of Education. Justin Feller resigned his state government job last August while the department’s investigation was ongoing. The Department of Education referred the matter to the Florida Commission on Ethics for possible sanctions.
Florida – Florida’s Absentee Ballot Restrictions Under Court Review
Bloomberg Government – Jennifer Kay | Published: 1/31/2022
A federal court is examining whether elderly, disabled, and other voters are improperly burdened by a new voting law in Florida, where casting ballots by mail has broad support. The law limiting access to absentee ballot drop boxes, as well as restrictions on approaching voters lined up to cast their ballots in person, was enacted in response to unsubstantiated claims about widespread fraud in the 2020 general election. Restricting the hours that ballot drop boxes are available and requiring them to be monitored in person creates a “gatekeeper” that will deter voters, said Cecile Scoon, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida.
Florida – Responding to Dark Money Controversy, NextEra Did Internal Investigation into FPL
MSN – Mary Ellen Klas (Miami Herald) | Published: 1/27/2022
Recent revelations about Florida Power & Light’s (FPL) involvement in a “dark money” scheme to siphon votes away from state Senate Democratic candidates prompted its parent company, NextEra Energy, to conduct an internal investigation. FPL’s relationship with two nonprofit political committees has come under recent scrutiny as part of a criminal investigation by the Miami-Dade County state attorney into a ghost candidate scandal. The committees were set up by political consultants working for FPL, and with the consultation of FPL Chief Executive Officer Eric Silagy, according to media reporting.
Florida – Tallahassee Commissioners Side with City Attorney, Deny Ethics Board Expansion
Florida Politics – Tristian Wood | Published: 1/27/2022
The Tallahassee City Commission voted to side with the city attorney against a legal interpretation that would have expanded the reach of the city’s independent ethics board. A member of the ethics board requested a legal opinion on whether the panel’s jurisdiction expands to board members and employees of the City of Tallahassee Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) and the Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency. Commissioners agreed with City Attorney Cassandra Jackson, who argued the CRA and Blueprint fall under the jurisdiction of the state ethics commission.
Georgia – Federal Judge to Rule on Governor’s Uncapped Fundraising War Chest
Albany Times Herald – Ross Wiliams (Georgia Recorder) | Published: 2/1/2022
Lawyers for Georgia gubernatorial candidate David Perdue and Gov. Brian Kemp sparred in court over a new state law that allows certain top elected officials to create leadership committees that can raise campaign funds without limits, even when the Legislature is in session. Legislators banned fundraising during the annual session more than 30 years ago, citing a need to root out corruption or the appearance of corruption. Democrats argued the law is an attempt to circumvent that long-standing rule to benefit incumbents. Supporters say the law promotes transparency because it requires disclosure for large donations.
Louisiana – For Louisiana Lawmakers, Political Redistricting Comes with Campaign Fundraising
Yahoo News – Julie O’Donoghue (Louisiana Illuminator) | Published: 2/2/2022
As Louisiana lawmakers gather in Baton Rouge for a special legislative session to draw new voting district maps, several will also be raising money for their campaigns. Legislators are generally prohibited from holding fundraisers or accepting campaign donations during regular sessions, but that ban does not apply during special sessions. How much money is raised at these fundraisers and what individuals and businesses donate will not be made public until next year.
Michigan – Lee Chatfield Raised Millions, Traveled Often. Michigan Law Kept Much Secret
Bridge Michigan – Simon Schuster (Michigan Campaign Finance Network) and Sergio Martínez-Beltrán | Published: 1/25/2022
In the last few weeks, following allegations from former Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield’s sister-in-law of sexual abuse, new revelations have emerged from former colleagues that he had extravagant taste and traveled so frequently he sometimes canceled House votes to catch planes. Records show one nonprofit tied to Chatfield, the Peninsula Fund, spent nearly $500,000 dollars on travel and food in 2020 alone, but IRS rules do not require it to disclose donors or explain how the money was spent. Michigan’s disclosure requirements for elected officials make it impossible to know many details about Chatfield’s travels, expenses, or donors.
Michigan – Trump Donations to Michigan Candidates Exceeded Legal Limits
MLive.com – Malachi Barrett | Published: 2/2/2022
Three-quarters of the money former President Trump funneled from his political committee to Michigan candidates exceeded legal limits for donations in the state. Save America PAC donated $45,000 to nine Republican candidates running for state offices. Candidates will likely have to refund excess contributions to the PAC to comply with Michigan law. One check was sent to the wrong account. A $5,000 donation went to an inactive committee Mike Detmer created to run for state House in 2020 instead of his current committee for Michigan’s 31st Senate District.
Missouri – Former Lake Ozark Lawmaker’s Attempt to Overturn Missouri’s Revolving Door Ban Rejected by Judge
Yahoo News – Galen Bacharier (Springfield News-Leader) | Published: 1/31/2022
A federal judge ruled Missouri’s two-year ban on lawmakers becoming lobbyists after leaving office would not be overturned, rejecting an argument by former state Rep. Rocky Miller that the law violated his freedom of speech. U.S. District Court Judge Douglas Harpool said Miller “conflates his right to speak and petition with his desire to receive compensation for doing so” and Miller’s “speech is not directly burdened” by the law.
New Jersey – Hoboken Councilwoman Sues City Over New Campaign Finance Law
Newark Star-Ledger – Ron Zeitlinger (Jersey Journal) | Published: 2/2/2022
Hoboken City Councilperson Tiffanie Fisher filed a lawsuit against the city to strike down the campaign finance law she says was illegally approved in December. The ordinance removes the $500 limit on campaign contributions from unions to candidates for elected office in the city and follow the state guideline of $7,200 per candidate. Fisher argued the ordinance was amended so significantly prior to the second reading and final vote that the amended version should have gone back for a new first reading.
New Jersey – New Jersey Grand Jury Investigated PACs, Nonprofits Caddle Operated
MSN – Matt Friedman (Politico) | Published: 1/31/2022
New Jersey prosecutors investigated several super PACs and nonprofits run by Sean Caddle, the political consultant who has admitted hiring two men to kill an associate and empaneled a state grand jury that issued related subpoenas to government entities. Some of those groups appeared designed to hide the source of money they channeled into local races around the state. The investigation focused in part on the Elizabeth Board of Education, a major source of political patronage, sources said.
New York – As Hochul Smashed Fundraising Record, Donors Enjoyed Access
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg and Rebekah Ward | Published: 1/28/2022
As New York Gov. Kathy Hochul raised nearly $22 million since her inauguration in August, donors have not always gotten the results they sought. But with enough cash to hire a lobbyist and attend a high-dollar fundraiser, many interest groups enjoyed the opportunity to directly speak to state government’s most powerful person. Hochul’s unprecedented numbers relied partly on aggressive tactics employed by her team, such as setting a $250,000 fundraising minimum to secure her attendance at major lobbying firm events. She is also said to navigate follow up personally with some donors and attendees, a longstanding practice in New York.
New York – Cannabis Company Seeks to Subpoena Hochul’s Office
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 2/1/2022
The cannabis company MedMen Enterprises filed a notice in state Supreme Court that it intends to subpoena records from New York Gov. Kathy Hochul concerning any communications she or officials with her office and campaign had with another firm, Ascend Wellness Holdings, that donated at least $15,000 to the governor. The Albany Times Union published a story concerning Hochul’s record-breaking $22 million in campaign fundraising, including details about the conflict between Ascend and MedMen.
New York – Mayor Adams Granted Waiver to Hire His Brother At $1 Yearly Salary
Gothamist – Brigid Bergin | Published: 1/27/2022
Bernard Adams, the brother of New York City Mayor Eric Adams, was granted a waiver by the Conflicts of Interest Board to serve as senior advisor for mayoral security for the nominal salary of one dollar a year, allowing him to become an official city employee. City Hall walked back its initial plan to pay Adams’ brother a $210,000 salary but instead sought a waiver for him to play an uncompensated role in the administration, in keeping with the precedents set by previous administrations.
Ohio – Ohio Ethics Commission Seeks Harsher Penalties for Giving Unlawful Gifts to Lawmakers
WOUB – Jo Ingles (Statehouse News Bureau) | Published: 1/27/2022
The Ohio Ethics Commission is asking state lawmakers to beef up penalties for people convicted of illegally giving money or gifts to legislators or public agency leaders. The allowable amount a donor can give a lawmaker or other leader is between $75 to $500 per year depending on who is getting the gift and how it is given. Exceeding that amount is a misdemeanor.
Oklahoma – Oklahoma Budget Process Can Be Mysterious, Even for Many Lawmakers
Yahoo News – Ben Felder (The Oklahoman) | Published: 2/3/2022
Oklahoma’s multi-billion-dollar budget is the pinnacle legislative action each spring that sets the course for how much money state agencies have to spend, impacting everything from the resources available in classrooms to the number of state troopers patrolling the highway. But the process it takes to complete is largely conducted in secret, negotiated among a few lawmakers and high-ranking government officials before the rest of the Legislature has a few days to approve.
Pennsylvania – A Pennsylvania Court Overturned the State’s Mail Voting Law, but an Appeal Means It’s Still in Place
MSN – Jonathan Lai and Andrew Seidman (Philadelphia Inquirer) | Published: 1/28/2022
A Pennsylvania court struck down the state’s mail voting law, saying the state constitution requires voters to cast ballots in person unless they meet specific requirements. That almost certainly will not be the final word on the matter, as the state quickly appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, triggering an automatic stay of the decision, and leaving the law in place while the high court considers the case. Democrats believe the Supreme Court, which has a Democratic majority, will uphold the law.
Pennsylvania – Councilman Derek Green Is Proposing Philly’s Biggest Ethics and Elections Reforms in Years. Here’s What’s in It.
MSN – Sean Collins Walsh (Philadelphia Inquirer) | Published: 1/28/2022
City Councilmember Derek Green introduced Philadelphia’s most ambitious ethics and election reform package in years. Green’s plan comes in the wake of the conviction of former council member Bobby Henon, who resigned after a jury found him guilty on federal corruption charges. Only one of the planks, a proposal to clarify conflict-of-interest rules and increase disclosures by council members who make money from side jobs, directly relates to the scandal. Other components include making the Office of the Inspector General a permanent and independent agency and establishing a system for public financing of city elections.
Pennsylvania – Former Pa. Treasurer Barbara Hafer’s PAC Collected $2.3 Million from Investments, Paid Daughter $500K Since She Left Office
Lancaster Online – Sam Janesch (The Caucus) | Published: 1/27/2022
Barbara Hafer, who was elected four times to statewide office in Pennsylvania, was never again on a ballot after leaving the state treasurer’s office in 2005. Her 2017 guilty plea on charges she lied during a corruption case has barred her from holding public office in the state again. But for nearly two decades, Hafer’s PAC has remained open and thrived. Since she left office, Hafer’s committee has collected $2.3 million – not from donors, but from investments she made with her donors’ money. What it is being used for is a troubling practice benefitting Hafer’s daughter, according to a review of the committee’s reports and interviews with campaign finance experts.
Tennessee – Tennessee Senate Expels Sen. Katrina Robinson from Legislature, a First for the Chamber Since at Least the Civil War
MSN – Melissa Brown (Memphis Commercial Appeal) | Published: 2/2/2022
For the first time since at least the Civil War, the Tennessee Senate voted to expel a senator, stripping Sen. Katrina Robinson of her elected position following her federal conviction on federal wire fraud charges. Robinson previously said prosecutors unfairly targeted and pursued her on trumped up charges, which are unrelated to her role in the General Assembly. Sen. Ferrell Haile defended the Senate’s process, noting Robinson served through multiple regular and special sessions while her case moved through the courts.
Virginia – Tim Anderson Is Writing Bills That Might Profit His Business. In Virginia, That’s Allowed.
Virginian-Pilot – Ryan McKinnon | Published: 2/1/2022
Virginia Del. Tim Anderson, who owns a gun shop, filed four bills that could ease regulations on gun shops or make it easier for people to buy guns throughout the state. That may seem to be a conflict-of-interest, but Virginia’s ethics rules allow lawmakers to write bills that affect their industry. As long as Anderson’s proposals impact all gun shops in the commonwealth and not just his own, he is in line with the spirit of a citizen Legislature, ethics experts said. He is also not alone; politicians on both sides of the aisle in Virginia write bills that affect their professions.
Virginia – Va. Senators Reject Proposals to Cut Off Campaign Cash from Dominion Energy
Daily Progress – Patrick Wilson (Richmond Times Dispatch) | Published: 2/2/2022
Virginia lawmakers voted down proposals that would have ended Dominion Energy’s ability to give massive sums of campaign money to the lawmakers who regulate it. Bills to scale back the utility’s political influence in Richmond are not new, but they took on new life this year after Dominion upset conservatives during last year’s race for governor by pumping more than $250,000 into a PAC that attacked Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin, now governor. But Dominion’s allies in the Capitol remain numerous, and lawmakers have opposed any attempts to limit their campaign donations.
February 3, 2022 •
Campaign Finance New Jersey: “New Jersey Grand Jury Investigated PACs, Nonprofits Caddle Operated” by Matt Friedman (Politico) for MSN Virginia: “Va. Senators Reject Proposals to Cut Off Campaign Cash from Dominion Energy” by Patrick Wilson (Richmond Times Dispatch) for Daily […]
New Jersey: “New Jersey Grand Jury Investigated PACs, Nonprofits Caddle Operated” by Matt Friedman (Politico) for MSN
Virginia: “Va. Senators Reject Proposals to Cut Off Campaign Cash from Dominion Energy” by Patrick Wilson (Richmond Times Dispatch) for Daily Progress
National: “Trump’s Latest Claim That Election Could Have Been ‘Overturned’ Looms Over Electoral Count Debate in Congress” by Mike DeBonis (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “GOP Sen. Ben Sasse Re-Introduces Bill to Ban Lawmakers from Trading Stocks and Becoming Paid Lobbyists After Retiring” by Bryan Metzger (Business Insider) for MSN
Michigan: “Lee Chatfield Raised Millions, Traveled Often. Michigan Law Kept Much Secret” by Simon Schuster and Sergio Martínez-Beltrán for Bridge Michigan
New York: “Cannabis Company Seeks to Subpoena Hochul’s Office” by Chris Bragg for Albany Times Union
Tennessee: “Tennessee Senate Expels Sen. Katrina Robinson from Legislature, a First for the Chamber Since at Least the Civil War” by Melissa Brown (Memphis Commercial Appeal) for MSN
National: “Luján Stroke Sends Senate Democrats Reeling” by Marianne LeVine and Burgess Everett (Politico) for Yahoo News
Alaska: “Alaska House Coalition Will Seek to Remove Rep. David Eastman from Legislative Committees Over His Oath Keepers Membership” by James Brooks (Anchorage Daily News) for Yahoo News
National: “Dems Avert Total Redistricting Doomsday – but They’re Not Out of the Woods” by Sarah Ferris and Ally Mutnick (Politico) for Yahoo News
January 26, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “Ex-Giuliani Associate Fruman Sentenced to One Year in Prison in Campaign Finance Case” by Luc Cohen for Reuters Arizona: “Arizona Appeals Court Rebuffs Group’s Bid to Skip Campaign Law Fine” by Howard Fischer (Capitol News Services) for […]
National: “Ex-Giuliani Associate Fruman Sentenced to One Year in Prison in Campaign Finance Case” by Luc Cohen for Reuters
Arizona: “Arizona Appeals Court Rebuffs Group’s Bid to Skip Campaign Law Fine” by Howard Fischer (Capitol News Services) for Arizona Daily Star
Georgia: “Ethics Panel Says It Will Pursue Ex-Insurance Commissioner” by Associated Press for MSN
Georgia: “Georgia Prosecutor Granted Special Grand Jury in Probe of Trump’s Efforts to Overturn State’s Election Results” by Amy Wang and John Wagner (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Retired Lawyer Wrote the Book, Literally, on Corporations Entertaining Politicians” by Kate Ackley (Roll Call) for MSN
National: “House Committee on Ethics Opening Reviews of Two Lawmakers” by Morgan Rimmer and Annie Grayer (CNN) for MSN
Hawaii: “How a Honolulu Police Chief Facing a Corruption Probe Got a $250,000 Payout” by Christina Jedra for Honolulu Civil Beat
New Mexico: “Proposal Calls for Ethics Agency to Set NM Elected Officials’ Pay” by Dan McKay (Albuquerque Journal) for Yahoo News
Alabama: “Federal Court Blocks Alabama’s New Congressional District Map, Saying It’s Not Fair to Blacks” by Brian Lyman (Montgomery Advertiser) for Yahoo News
January 21, 2022 •
On January 20, U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly introduced the Ban Corporate PACs Act. The legislation, Senate Bill 3528, amends the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to eliminate the ability of for-profit corporations to establish and manage separate segregated funds […]
On January 20, U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly introduced the Ban Corporate PACs Act.
The legislation, Senate Bill 3528, amends the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to eliminate the ability of for-profit corporations to establish and manage separate segregated funds (i.e., PACs) or solicit contributions from corporate stockholders. It also requires existing corporate PACs, of a type that would no longer be permitted under this Act, be terminated and their funds be fully disbursed within one year after enactment of the Act.
January 21, 2022 •
National/Federal DirecTV Says It Will Sever Ties with Far-Right Network One America News MSN – Timothy Bella (Washington Post) | Published: 1/15/2022 DirecTV announced it will sever ties with One America News (OAN) after this year, pulling the conservative news channel […]
DirecTV Says It Will Sever Ties with Far-Right Network One America News
MSN – Timothy Bella (Washington Post) | Published: 1/15/2022
DirecTV announced it will sever ties with One America News (OAN) after this year, pulling the conservative news channel from millions of homes. The channel, which has promoted conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election and coronavirus pandemic, will be dropped in April when its contract expires. OAN’s sister channel, A Wealth of Entertainment, will also be removed from the satellite provider. AT&T has been criticized for playing a foundational role in building up OAN into a Donald Trump-friendly alternative to Fox News. Though DirecTV is now its own company, AT&T owns 70 percent of the satellite provider.
ExxonMobil Aims to Use a Radical Texas Law to Silence Its Critics – in California
Mother Jones – Chris McGreal | Published: 1/18/2022
ExxonMobil is attempting to use an unusual Texas law to target and intimidate its critics, claiming lawsuits against the company over its long history of downplaying and denying the climate crisis violate the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of free speech. ExxonMobil is asking the Texas Supreme Court to allow it to use the law, known as rule 202, to pursue legal action against more than a dozen California municipal officials. Exxon claims that in filing lawsuits against the company over its role in the climate crisis, the officials are orchestrating a conspiracy against the firm’s first amendment rights.
FEC Report Shows How National Party Committees Allegedly Blow Past Contribution Limits
MSN – Isaac Stanley-Becker (Washington Post) | Published: 1/14/2022
A fundraising committee operated jointly by the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee in 2016 served as a vehicle for state parties to FEC’s general counsel found almost three years ago. The general counsel’s report, available since 2019, was newly released in an updated and unredacted form because of a development in an associated case. It mirrors findings from the general counsel’s office about similar activity by a joint fundraising committee benefiting Hillary Clinton in 2016. The alleged sum funneled through state party committees in that case was even larger: $112 million.
House Jan. 6 Committee Subpoenas Giuliani, Sidney Powell
MSN – Jacqueline Alemany and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) | Published: 1/18/2022
The House committee investigating the insurrection of January 6, 2021, issued subpoenas to members of former President Trump’s outside legal team who pursued and disseminated unfounded claims of mass election fraud, including Trump’s former personal attorney Rudolph Giuliani, former White House aide Boris Epshteyn, and lawyers Jenna Ellis and Sidney Powell. The committee has also subpoenaed and obtained records of phone numbers associated with Eric Trump and Kimberly Guilfoyle, the fiancé of Donald Trump Jr.
How More Than $404 Million in Taxpayer Money Got Locked Away in a Forgotten Government Fund – and Lawmakers Won’t Spend It or Return It
Yahoo News – Dave Levinthal (Business Insider) | Published: 1/18/2022
Holed away in a government account is a massive cash stash most anyone, from depleted federal programs to coronavirus-throttled charitable causes, would love to tap. But it sits idle and untouched. The intended beneficiaries of the taxpayer-fueled Presidential Election Campaign Fund – presidential candidates – do not want it, as they are soured by its restrictions on their fundraising and spending. Conservatives in Congress would prefer to disband the fund and repurpose its money. Many Democrats want the money to seed a reimagined public campaign finance program contained within a broader “democracy-reform” agenda.
Lawmakers Coming Under Increased Threats – Sometimes from One Another
Yahoo News – Rebecca Beitsch (The Hill) | Published: 1/17/2022
A little over a year after the violent attack on the Capitol, threats targeting lawmakers have only increased alongside a surge of violent speech shared online and even inside the building. Threats against lawmakers have reached an all-time high of 9,600, according to U.S. Capitol Police data. On the anniversary of that attack, the Department of Homeland Security warned that calls for violent action against lawmakers were picking up steam online. That includes a video calling for lawmakers to be hung in front of the White House that has now been viewed more than 60,000 times. Some of the violent rhetoric is coming from within Congress.
Legislatures Across Country Back Off Pandemic Protocols
Colorado Newsline – Sean Scully | Published: 1/19/2022
Across the nation, lawmakers are gathering for the annual ritual of legislative sessions, which in most states takes up the early months of the year. Unlike recent years, when masks and social distancing were common, if not the explicit rule, in many states hardly anyone would know the country was entering the third year of a pandemic. Even in states where COVID-19 protections do remain in place, the issue has exposed a sharp partisan divide and provoked unrest among lawmakers.
Manchin, Sinema Join with GOP in Rejecting Attempt to Change Filibuster Rules, Effectively Killing Democratic Voting Bill
MSN – Mike DeBonis (Washington Post) | Published: 1/19/2022
The year-long Democratic push for federal voting rights legislation died in the Senate after Republicans blocked an elections bill for the fifth time in six months and Democrats failed to unite their caucus behind a plan to rewrite the chamber’s rules and pass it anyway. The vote amounted to a bitter but unsurprising finale for the Democratic voting rights effort on Capitol Hill, a campaign backed by top party leaders and pushed by key elements of its coalition even as Sens. Joe Manchin and Kirsten Sinema made clear they would not weaken the 60-vote rule, defending it as a tool to protect minority-party rights and promote bipartisanship.
Now with Senate Allies, Spanberger’s Legislation to Ban Members of Congress from Trading Stock Gains Traction
MSN – Meagan Flynn (Washington Post) | Published: 1/17/2022
More than a year since U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger first put forth legislation that would ban members of Congress from trading stock, a flurry of action in the Senate has injected some momentum into the proposal. While it is traditionally tough to get Congress to police itself, Spanberger and her co-lead on the legislation, U.S. Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex.), have built a bipartisan coalition around the issue spanning the ideological spectrum after several stock-trading controversies during the pandemic raised eyebrows.
Supreme Court Rejects Trump’s Request to Withhold Jan. 6 Materials from House Committee Investigating Capitol Riot
MSN – Robert Barnes (Washington Post) | Published: 1/19/2022
The Supreme Court rejected former President Trump’s request to block the release of some of his White House records to a congressional committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. The order turned aside Trump’s request to block the records’ release while the case regarding his assertion of executive privilege continues through the courts. It means there is no legal obstacle to release of the materials from the National Archives and Trump’s lawyers have argued that would make the case moot.
Ted Cruz Finds Friendly High Court Audience in Campaign Finance Challenge
Courthouse News Service – Kelsey Reichman | Published: 1/19/2022
Members of the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority seemed sympathetic to Sen. Ted Cruz in a challenge he brought to a provision of campaign finance law limiting the repayment of federal candidates’ loans to their campaigns. The law places a $250,000 limit on the repayment of personal loans from candidates to campaigns using money from postelection donations. Seeking to test the constitutionality of the law, Cruz lent $260,000 to his 2018 re-election campaign. Cruz says the provision has the effect of deterring the loans. The Biden administration argues Congress intended the provision as an anti-corruption measure.
The Justice Dept. Alleged Jan. 6 Was a Seditious Conspiracy. Now Will It Investigate Trump?
MSN – Matt Zapotosky, Josh Dawsey, Tom Hamburger, and Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) | Published: 1/15/2022
The Justice Department’s decision to charge Oath Keepers with seditious conspiracy makes clear prosecutors consider the attack on the U.S. Capitol part of an organized assault to prevent the peaceful transfer of presidential power. But so far, the department does not appear to be directly investigating the person whose desperate bid to stay in office motivated the mayhem, former President Trump, either for potentially inciting a riot or for what some observers see as a related pressure campaign to overturn the results of the election.
From the States and Municipalities
California – Fired OC District Attorney’s Investigator Who Accused Todd Spitzer of Bribery Gets Job Back in Arbitration
Orange County Register – Tony Saavedra | Published: 1/17/2022
Michael Leb, a fired Orange County district attorney’s office investigator who accused District Attorney Todd Spitzer of “pay-to-play” schemes, won back his job in arbitration. Arbitrator Michael Leb, who concluded the firing process “was tainted. The charges were not proven, and the termination of Tucker was not for reasonable cause.” Tucker will be paid more than a year in back pay. Tucker was fired amid allegations he unilaterally began investigating his suspicions that Spitzer was giving preferential treatment to campaign donors. Tucker also accused Spitzer with colluding with investigation bureau chief Paul Walters to bury the findings.
California – Tech Companies Spend Millions on California Political Gifts
MSN – Don Thompson (Associated Press) | Published: 1/14/2022
Gov. Gavin Newsom solicited donations totaling nearly $227 million from Facebook, Google, and other private California companies and groups to combat the coronavirus pandemic and help run parts of his administration, according to the Fair Political Practices Commission. While California limits the amount of the gifts and campaign contributions to politicians, there are no limits on so-called behested payments. They are reportable only if they are made at the suggestion of a public official to someone else for a legislative, governmental, or charitable purpose, and only if payments from a single source reach $5,000 in a calendar year.
Colorado – Campaign Contributions Didn’t Require Commissioner’s Recusal, Court Rules
Legal Newsline – Daniel Fisher | Published: 1/19/2022
Citing a U.S. Supreme Court decision that established the constitutional boundaries for determining political conflicts-of-interest, a Colorado court rejected claims that Larimer County Commissioner Tom Donnelly should have recused himself from voting on a concrete plant permit because the company’s shareholders contributed several thousand dollars to his campaign. Central to the decision was the Supreme Court’s 2009 decision Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co., which said the due process rights of citizens can be violated in “rare,” “exceptional,” and “extreme” cases where a politician’s vote appears to reflect large campaign contributions.
Colorado – Grand Jury to Investigate Election Tampering Allegations in Mesa County
Canon City Daily Record – Saja Hindi (Denver Post) | Published: 1/13/2022
State and local officials are launching a grand jury investigation into allegations of election equipment tampering and official misconduct in Mesa County, Colorado. Authorities have been investigating a possible security breach in County Clerk Tina Peters’ office after Peters and others allegedly allowed an unauthorized person access to elections equipment. The secretary of state’s office asked Peters to sign a document that placed limits on what she can do for the 2022 elections if she wants to return as clerk, but Peters rejected the offer.
Florida – Florida Governor Proposes Special Police Agency to Monitor Elections
MSN – Lori Rozsa and Beth Reinhard (Washington Post) | Published: 1/18/2022
A plan by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis would establish a special police force to oversee state elections, the first of its kind in the nation, and while his fellow Republicans have reacted tepidly, voting rights advocates fear it will become law and be used to intimidate voters. The proposed Office of Election Crimes and Security would be part of the Department of State, which answers to the governor. DeSantis is asking the Legislature to allocate nearly $6 million to hire 52 people to “investigate, detect, apprehend, and arrest anyone for an alleged violation” of election laws. They would be stationed at unspecified “field offices throughout the state” and act on tips from “government officials or any other person.”
Florida – Records: Tallahassee strategist helped boost ghost candidates with dark money ad buy
MSN – Samantha Gross (Miami Herald) | Published: 1/18/2022
A longtime political strategist paid for more than $500,000 in misleading mailers promoting no-party candidates in three key Florida Senate races in 2020, according to court records released as part of a public corruption probe. Investigators say the ads were meant to confuse voters to benefit the Republican candidates in the races. The mailers featured messaging on issues that historically appeal to Democrats and promoted no-party candidates who had not actively campaigned. The ads urge voters to “cut the strings” from party-backed candidates.
Georgia – Atlanta Public Corruption Trials to Begin After Four Years, Trump-Related Turnover of Prosecutors
Saporta Report – David Penered | Published: 1/18/2022
The federal prosecution of alleged corruption at Atlanta City Hall appears to be advancing after a delay. There are four upcoming trials that could last through the year, and perhaps longer. Authorities filed indictments against public officials and vendors whose city contracts ranged in the millions of dollars. Former President Trump may have had a role in the prosecution’s delay. Three U.S. attorneys have served in Atlanta in the past year. The fourth prosecutor in line to lead the office is Ryan Buchanan, who was nominated by President Biden and is awaiting Senate confirmation.
Illinois – ‘They All Need Somebody That Does What I Do’; Unsealed affidavit reveals new details in Ald. Edward Burke corruption probe
Yahoo News – Jason Meisner (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 1/14/2022
An FBI search warrant affidavit that led to the 2018 raid on Ald. Edward Burke’s City Hall offices was made public, providing new detail on the hundreds of audio and video recordings made in the corruption case that rocked Chicago politics. The affidavit paints a picture of Burke at the height of his power as chair of the Finance Committee, accusing him of constantly prowling for new business for his private law firm and making repeated offers to grease the wheels at City Hall for those he favored.
Maryland – Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby Indicted on Federal Charges She Lied on Financial Transactions to Buy Homes in Florida
Yahoo News – Justin Fenton (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 1/13/2022
A federal grand indicted Baltimore’s top prosecutor, Marilyn Mosby, on charges of perjury and making false statements with a series of financial transactions that helped her buy a condominium on Florida’s Gulf Coast and another property near Orlando. Mosby is charged with falsely claiming to suffer financial hardship from the coronavirus to obtain an early withdrawal from her retirement savings to purchase the homes. Prosecutors also allege she lied on a mortgage loan application by hiding an outstanding federal tax debt.
Massachusetts – Lyft Makes Largest One-Time Political Donation in Massachusetts History, Fueling Gig Worker Ballot Fight
MSN – Matt Stout (Boston Globe) | Published: 1/18/2022
The coalition pushing petitions that could reshape how gig economy workers are classified in Massachusetts took in the single largest political donation in state history, helping fund a phalanx of consultants, pollsters, and signature gatherers driving the questions toward the ballot. The rideshare giant Lyft gave $14.4 million to a committee supporting the petitions, most of which came in a $13 million donation on December 30. The committee enlisted Conan Harris & Associates, a management consulting firm founded by the husband of U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley.
Michigan – Ex-Detroit Councilman André Spivey Gets 2-Year Sentence in Bribery Case
Detroit News – Robert Snell and James David Dickson | Published: 1/19/2022
A federal judge sentenced former Detroit City Councilperson André Spivey to two years in federal prison for receiving almost $36,000 in bribes, part of a sprawling corruption scandal engulfing City Hall and the police department. Spivey received about $36,000 in the scheme from a towing industry figure who was working undercover for the FBI, prosecutors said. Spivey received the money on eight separate occasions during a five-year period ending in 2020, including cash during a secret payoff at his 46th birthday party.
Michigan – Michigan Attorney General Refers Investigation into Fake Republican Electors to Federal Prosecutors
MLive.com – Malachi Barrett | Published: 1/14/2022
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said she gave federal prosecutors the details of a year-long investigation into Republicans who signed false documents asserting former President Trump won Michigan’s Electoral College votes. Sixteen Republicans falsely identified themselves as Michigan’s “duly elected and qualified electors” in unofficial certificates that were sent to federal officials who record the Electoral College vote following the 2020 election. Nessel said federal prosecutors could consider fraud and charges, and her office is still considering whether to bring state-level charges.
Missouri – The Kansas City Star Seeks to Intervene in Independence Suit, Unseal Mayor’s Deposition
Kansas City Star – Kevin Hardy | Published: 1/19/2022
The Kansas City Star asked to intervene in a civil lawsuit in Independence for the purpose of unsealing the sworn testimony of Mayor Eileen Weir. In its motion, The Star argues Weir failed to show any legal cause for sealing her deposition and says its closure is a violation of First Amendment protections. Rules say individuals may seek protective orders “for good cause shown.” The Star argues Weir included no justification, but only referenced the fact that she was the mayor and third parties were seeking copies of her deposition transcript.
Montana – Federal Judge Strikes Down Montana’s Clean Campaign Act
Helena Independent Record – Sam Wilson | Published: 1/18/2022
U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy ruled a Montana law that was meant to curb last-minute campaign attacks violates free speech rights. Molloy said the Clean Campaign Act “delays, and sometimes even prevents, political speech on the basis of content.” Montana Citizens for Right to Work sued after the state’s Commissioner of Political Practices found it failed to follow the law’s “Fair Notice” provision by giving candidates a heads-up on negative mailers sent out shortly before Election Day in 2020. It is unclear whether the state will appeal the ruling.
New York – N.Y. Attorney General Outlines Pattern of Possible Fraud at Trump Business
MSN – Jonah Bromwich, Ben Protess, and William Rashbaum (New York Times) | Published: 1/19/2022
New York Attorney General Letitia James accused Donald Trump’s family business of repeatedly misrepresenting the value of its assets to bolster its bottom line, saying in court papers the company had engaged in “fraudulent or misleading” practices. The filing marked the first time the attorney general’s office leveled such specific accusations against the former president’s company. Her broadside ratchets up the pressure on Trump as he seeks to shut down her investigation, which he has called a partisan witch hunt.
Ohio – FirstEnergy Collected $460 Million from Customers; Auditor Unsure If It Was Spent on Bribes
Ohio Capital Journal – Jake Zuckerman | Published: 1/18/2022
There is no clear evidence to show the $460 million that FirstEnergy charged its customers went to its stated purpose of modernizing the electric grid, an audit found. A 2019 Ohio Supreme Court ruling blocked the company from continuing to apply the charge to customer bills. Daymark Energy Advisors, in an audit for the Public Utility Commission sought to follow the money. The audit comes as consumer advocates have demanded answers as to whether FirstEnergy used the funds in its $60 million political bribery scheme it operated.
Ohio – Ohio Supreme Court Invalidates GOP-Approved Congressional Map ‘Infused with Undue Partisan Bias’
Yahoo News – Jessie Balmert and Laura Bischoff (Columbus Dispatch) | Published: 1/13/2022
The Ohio Supreme Court struck down the state’s congressional district map, saying Republicans violated the Ohio Constitution by drawing districts that favored GOP candidates. That violated language overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2018 to prevent a map that unduly favored one party or its incumbents. “When the dealer stacks the deck in advance, the house usually wins,” wrote Justice Michael Donnelly in the court’s opinion.
Pennsylvania – Pa. Legislature’s Redacted Legal Bills Flout Court Ruling, Leave Taxpayers Guessing
Spotlight PA – Angela Couloumbis (Spotlight PA) and Sam Janesch (The Caucus) | Published: 1/11/2022
In May, GOP lawmakers who control the state House and Senate hired the chair of the Republican Party of Pennsylvania to represent them in legal matters at $575 an hour. Within three weeks, Lawrence Tabas and his law firm had charged the chambers more than $36,000 for 78 hours of work, records show. What Tabas did for the Legislature, however, is a mystery. Republican leaders redacted all details about his work from his contract and other public records, continuing a pattern of secrecy surrounding the Legislature’s agreements with private lawyers.
South Carolina – Will 2022 Be the Year for Ethics Reform in South Carolina?
Charleston Post and Courier – Avery Wilks | Published: 1/17/2022
Months after a newspaper investigation exposed how dozens of political officials across South Carolina get away with refusing to pay their ethics fines, state lawmakers appear to be taking action. A Senate committee will soon debate a proposal to ban such officials from seeking reelection unless they pay their penalties, an effort to make politicians take the state’s ethics laws, and the watchdog that enforces them, more seriously. It is one of more than two dozen good government bills lawmakers could consider as they begin their 2022 session.
South Dakota – Investigators Say South Dakota AG Was Untruthful About Crash
Yahoo News – Stephen Groves (Associated Press) | Published: 1/19/2022
Criminal investigators told South Dakota lawmakers they did not believe the state’s attorney general when he told them he never saw the body of the man he fatally struck in a crash in 2020. Investigators said they doubted Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg’s insistence, both in public and in law enforcement interviews, that he initially thought he hit an animal. A House committee is weighing whether Ravnsborg should face impeachment charges for his conduct. He pleaded no contest to a pair of misdemeanors last year and has said he did not realize he struck Joseph Boever until returning to the scene the next day.
Tennessee – Former Tennessee House Speaker Casada and Ex-Aide Subpoenaed Over Faith PAC
Yahoo News – Andy Sher (Chattanooga Times Free Press) | Published: 1/15/2022
The Tennessee Registry of Election Finance moved to subpoena former House Speaker Glen Casada in an effort to audit the Faith Family Freedom Fund, a PAC that spent $7,000 attacking an incumbent lawmaker in 2020. The registry also targeted Casada’s former chief of staff, Cade Cothren, and state Rep. Todd Warner. The fund’s treasurer, Sydney Friedopfer testified she opened the PAC at the request of Cothren, her then-boyfriend. The PAC was used to attack then-Rep. Rick Tillis in the GOP primary race with Warner.
Tennessee – State Officials Fine Nashville Council Member $360K for 36 Campaign Finance Violations
Yahoo News – Cassandra Stephenson (The Tennessean) | Published: 1/13/2022
Nashville Council member Jonathan Hall failed to file multiple mandatory campaign finance reports on time, or at all, during election cycles in 2018 and 2019, according to a letter from the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance. The agency’s counsel, Lauren Topping, said the allegations span 36 individual violations. Of the reports that Hall’s campaign did file, some lack required donor and vendor information and itemized expenses. Some contain unexplained discrepancies deemed “troubling” by Assistant District Attorney General Brian Ewald. Hall is liable for $360,000 in civil penalties in the case.
Texas – Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller’s Political Consultant Indicted on Charges of Theft, Bribery in Hemp License Scheme
Texas Tribune – Sneh Dey | Published: 1/18/2022
Todd Smith, a top political consultant to Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, was indicted on felony charges of theft and commercial bribery related to taking money in exchange for state hemp licenses that are doled out through Miller’s office. Smith and others were accused of soliciting up to $150,000 to get an “exclusive” hemp license from the Department of Agriculture. Smith allegedly said $25,000 would be used for a public poll on hemp. A hemp license from the state costs $100, according to the arrest warrant.
Texas – Election Officials in Texas Reject Hundreds of Ballot Applications Under State;s New Voting Restrictions
MSN – Eugene Scott (Washington Post) | Published: 1/14/2022
Election officials in one of the most populous counties in Texas have rejected about half of the applications for ballots because of the state’s new voting restrictions enacted by Republicans last year. The clerk’s office in Travis County, the fifth-most-populous county and home to the capital of Austin, cited the law’s recent changes to identification requirements in rejecting about half of the 700 mail-in applications. Other county clerk’s offices in the state are also rejecting applications that fail to meet the new standard.
Virginia – Republican Anger, Progressive Concern Combine in Push to Ban Political Spending by Utilities
Virginia Mercury – Sarah Vogelsong and Graham Moomaw | Published: 1/18/2022
Legislative proposals to curb Virginia utilities’ political contributions may be gaining new traction in Richmond as old resentments over a 2015 utility rate freeze law combine with progressive Democrats’ skepticism of utility influence and Republican anger over Dominion Energy’s contributions to a shadowy PAC attacking Gov. Glenn Youngkin during the 2021 elections. Political contributions by utilities have been a hot-button issue in Virginia in recent years largely due to Dominion, the state’s largest electric utility and for many years the biggest corporate donor in state politics.
Virginia – Youngkin’s Cabinet Shares Ties to Fossil Fuels and Energy Companies
Center for Responsive Politics – Jimmy Cloutier | Published: 1/13/2022
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s nomination of Andrew Wheeler to be his secretary of natural resources drew backlash from Democratic lawmakers and climate activists, who expressed concern about the onetime lobbyist’s ties to the coal industry and his environmental record under former President Trump. As secretary of natural resources, Wheeler would occupy the state’s top environmental post. Wheeler is not the only nominee or staff member in Youngkin’s incoming administration to share ties to fossil fuel companies and energy providers.
Washington DC – DC Pay-to-Play Law to Take Effect November 2022
JD Supra – Staff | Published: 1/18/2022
The District of Columbia’s long-awaited “pay-to-play” law will take effect on November 9, 2022, after over two years of delay. Under the law, certain entities and individuals will be prohibited from making political contributions to certain government officials. In general, the ban will affect those having or seeking business of $250,000 or more with the city government. The individuals covered generally include senior officers at covered entities.
Wisconsin – Wisconsin Clerks Rush to Rewrite Voting Instructions After Judge Rules Absentee Ballot Drop Boxes Are Illegal
Yahoo News – Patrick Marley (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) | Published: 1/14/2022
Election clerks around Wisconsin scrambled to rewrite their instructions to voters after a judge ruled absentee ballot drop boxes are not allowed under state law. The ruling by Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Michael Bohren is likely to be appealed, but for now, clerks are assuming the decision will remain in place. Bohren’s ruling also barred people from returning any absentee ballots other than their own. That means political groups cannot pick up ballots for voters, but also that people cannot return the ballots of their spouses, parents, or neighbors.
January 20, 2022 •
The North Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill 605, delaying the 2022 primary elections to June 7. The primary elections were already delayed by the state Supreme Court due to ongoing litigation over redistricting from March 8 to May 17. […]
The North Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill 605, delaying the 2022 primary elections to June 7.
The primary elections were already delayed by the state Supreme Court due to ongoing litigation over redistricting from March 8 to May 17.
The Republican-supported bill now faces a potential veto by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.
Although Cooper has not said whether he would veto the bill, a spokesman for him has said the bill undermines the voting process.
January 20, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “Ted Cruz Finds Friendly High Court Audience in Campaign Finance Challenge” by Kelsey Reichman for Courthouse News Service Montana: “Federal Judge Strikes Down Montana’s Clean Campaign Act” by Sam Wilson for Helena Independent Record Virginia: “Republican Anger, […]
National: “Ted Cruz Finds Friendly High Court Audience in Campaign Finance Challenge” by Kelsey Reichman for Courthouse News Service
Montana: “Federal Judge Strikes Down Montana’s Clean Campaign Act” by Sam Wilson for Helena Independent Record
Virginia: “Republican Anger, Progressive Concern Combine in Push to Ban Political Spending by Utilities” by Sarah Vogelsong and Graham Moomaw for Virginia Mercury
Washington DC: “DC Pay-to-Play Law to Take Effect November 2022” by Staff for JD Supra
Florida: “Records: Tallahassee strategist helped boost ghost candidates with dark money ad buy” by Samantha Gross (Miami Herald) for MSN
National: “House Jan. 6 Committee Subpoenas Giuliani, Sidney Powell” by Jacqueline Alemany and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) for MSN
Michigan: “Ex-Detroit Councilman André Spivey Gets 2-Year Sentence in Bribery Case” by Robert Snell and James David Dickson for Detroit News
New York: “N.Y. Attorney General Outlines Pattern of Possible Fraud at Trump Business” by Jonah Bromwich, Ben Protess, and William Rashbaum (New York Times) for MSN
Texas: “Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller’s Political Consultant Indicted on Charges of Theft, Bribery in Hemp License Scheme” by Sneh Dey for Texas Tribune
National: “Legislatures Across Country Back Off Pandemic Protocols” by Sean Scully for Colorado Newsline
January 14, 2022 •
In a 4-3 decision issued on January 12, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled the state House and Senate district maps drawn by Ohio Redistricting Commission are unconstitutional gerrymandering, giving Republicans a 62-37 advantage in the House and 23-10 advantage in […]
In a 4-3 decision issued on January 12, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled the state House and Senate district maps drawn by Ohio Redistricting Commission are unconstitutional gerrymandering, giving Republicans a 62-37 advantage in the House and 23-10 advantage in the Senate.
The court ordered the Ohio Redistricting Commission, which is dominated by Republicans, to draw new maps in compliance with Article XI, Section 6 of the Ohio Constitution.
The new plan must be adopted within 10 days and the Ohio Supreme Court retains its authority to review any rewrites.
The decision was based in part on the fact that Ohio voters overwhelmingly approved changes to the state constitution to limit partisan line-drawing in 2015.
January 14, 2022 •
National/Federal Gaetz’s Ex-Girlfriend Appears Before Grand Jury in Sex Trafficking Probe Seattle Times – Matt Zapotosky (Washington Post) | Published: 1/12/2022 The ex-girlfriend of U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz appeared before a federal grand jury investigating him for possible sex trafficking of […]
Gaetz’s Ex-Girlfriend Appears Before Grand Jury in Sex Trafficking Probe
Seattle Times – Matt Zapotosky (Washington Post) | Published: 1/12/2022
The ex-girlfriend of U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz appeared before a federal grand jury investigating him for possible sex trafficking of a minor, a signal the probe remains active more than a year after it began. Investigators are exploring whether Gaetz paid for sex in violation of federal sex-trafficking laws and have been interested in his dealings with a 17-year-old girl, people familiar with the matter have said. The appearance of his ex-girlfriend before a federal grand jury is a potentially ominous sign for Gaetz.
Jerome Powell Says the Fed Will Tighten Trading Rules After an Ethics Scandal
New York Times – Jeanna Smialek | Published: 1/11/2022
Jerome Powell, chairperson of the Federal Reserve, told lawmakers at his nomination hearing that the central bank was making changes to rules surrounding financial trades to prevent the kind of eyebrow-raising transactions surrounding three top Fed officials. The Fed has come under fire for allowing officials to trade securities for their own portfolios in 2020, a year in which the Fed was actively saving many asset classes and markets. That included notable trades by two of the 12 regional reserve bank presidents and the Fed’s vice chair.
Judge Mulls Whether Trump’s Silence on Jan. 6 Could Amount to ‘Agreement’ with Rioters
MSN – Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney (Politico) | Published: 1/10/2022
Donald Trump’s hours of silence while a violent mob ransacked the Capitol – egged on by his own words and tweets – could be plausibly construed as agreement with rioters’ actions, a federal judge suggested. U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta made the analysis as he pressed Trump’s lawyers about their efforts to dismiss a series of lawsuits against the former president seeking to hold him financially liable for inciting the January 6 insurrection.
Justice Dept. Forms New Domestic Terrorism Unit to Address Growing Threat
MSN – Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 1/11/2022
The Justice Department is forming a new domestic terrorism unit. Matthew Olsen, head of the department’s National Security Division, announced the unit before the Senate Judiciary Committee, noting the number of FBI investigations of suspected domestic violent extremists – those accused of planning or committing crimes in the name of domestic political goals – had more than doubled since the spring of 2020. His testimony comes days after the anniversary of the riot at the Capitol, an event some lawmakers say showed the FBI underestimated the threat posed by domestic extremists and violence-prone members of far-right groups.
Kevin McCarthy Rejects Request by House Jan. 6 Committee for Information About Communications with Trump, Mark Meadows
MSN – Jacueline Alemany and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) | Published: 1/12/2022
The House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol requested that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy voluntarily provide information about his communications with former President Trump and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Details of those conversations could provide the committee with further insight into Trump’s state of mind at the time, wrote U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, the panel’s chairperson. McCarthy said he will not cooperate, arguing in a statement that its “only objective is to attempt to damage its political opponents.”
Pence and Jan. 6 Committee Engage in High-Stakes Dance Over Testimony
Yahoo News – Michael Schmidt and Alan Feuer (New York Times) | Published: 1/10/2022
Since the House select committee investigating the assault on the Capitol was formed last summer, former Vice President Mike Pence’s lawyer and the panel have been talking about whether he would be willing to speak to investigators. But as Pence began sorting through a complex calculation about his cooperation, he is said to have grown disillusioned with the idea of voluntary cooperation. For the committee, Pence’s testimony would be an opportunity to establish how Donald Trump’s pressuring him to block the certification of the 2020 election helped inspire the storming of the Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Rep. Jim Jordan Refuses to Cooperate with Jan. 6 Committee Investigating Capitol Attack
MSN – Annabelle Timsit (Washington Post) | Published: 1/10/2022
U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan is refusing a request to be interviewed by the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, calling it an “unprecedented and inappropriate demand.” Jordan declined to comply with the request to appear before the panel to discuss his communication with Trump on the day of the assault. Jordan previously said he could not recall how many times he spoke with Trump on January 6 but they spoke at least once.
Schumer Sets Up Final Senate Confrontation on Voting Rights and the Filibuster
MSN – Mike DeBonis (Washington Post) | Published: 1/12/2022
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer prepared Democrats for the final phase of a year-long push to pass voting rights legislation, sketching out legislative maneuvers that could launch debate on a pair of stalled bills and force a confrontation over the Senate’s rules in the coming days. The details of the next steps come as President Biden has launched his own aggressive push to convince his fellow Democrats to band together and overhaul the filibuster to overcome strict GOP opposition to voting rights bills.
The Battle to Prevent Another Jan. 6 Features a New Weapon: The algorithm
MSN – Steven Zeitchik (Washington Post) | Published: 1/6/2022
For many Americans who witnessed the attack on the U.S. Capitol last year, the idea of mobs of people storming a bedrock of democracy was unthinkable. For the data scientists who watched it unfold, the reaction was different: we have been thinking about this for a long time. The sentiment comes from a group working in a field known as unrest prediction. The group takes a promising if fraught approach that applies the complex methods of machine-learning to the mysterious roots of political violence. Centered on the developing world, its systems are slowly being retooled with a new goal: predicting the next January 6.
When Lobbyists and Legislators Socialize, Lobbyists Are More Likely to Get What They Want
MSN – Sara Sadhwani, Pamela Lopez, Christian Grose, and Antoine Yoshinaka | Published: 1/12/2022
Lobbying often takes place off Capitol Hill. Whether it is dinner at the Charlie Palmer steakhouse in Washington, or the hosting of public officials at receptions and bars, lobbying in social situations is a key tool of professional advocates. To explore the impact of social lobbying, researchers conducted an experiment in the California Legislature. They say they found interest groups are more likely to get what they ask for when they meet legislators or their staff socially. Much like everyone else, public officials are more easily persuaded in such settings.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – Cyber Ninjas, the Firm Behind the Audit in Arizona’s Maricopa County, Says It’s Closing and Letting All Its Employees Go
Business Insider – Cheryl Teh | Published: 1/7/2022
Cyber Ninjas, the company behind the 2020 election audit in Maricopa County, Arizona, said it was closing and letting all its staff go as it faces staggering daily fines for refusing to turn over public record related to the audit. A judge in Arizona said Cyber Ninjas would be fined $50,000 a day if it did not immediately turn over the records. It is unclear how many employees Cyber Ninjas has on its payroll, though LinkedIn lists its company size as two to 10 employees.
California – Former High-Level Lawyer with L.A. City Attorney Agrees to Plead Guilty in DWP Scandal
MSN – Dakota Smith and David Zahniser (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 1/10/2022
A former high-level lawyer in Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer’s office agreed to plead guilty in the federal corruption probe of the Department of Water and Power (DWP) billing debacle, becoming the first staffer under Feuer to do so. Thomas Pierce agreed to plead guilty to one count of aiding and abetting extortion. In his plea agreement, Pierce admitted he threatened to fire one of the city’s outside lawyers unless that lawyer paid off a person who was threatening to reveal damaging information about city lawyers’ handling of the DWP case.
California – What’s Behind the ‘Great Resignation’ of California Lawmakers?
MSN – Ben Christopher (CalMatters) | Published: 1/10/2022
Propelled by approaching term limits, new district lines, and a raft of political opportunities outside the state Capitol, 14 California lawmakers have sought employment elsewhere. That does not include the seven members, all senators, who are barred from seeking reelection in 2022 by term limits. Some incumbents and lobbyists say this year’s changing of the guard has the potential to shake up the Capitol’s policy-making dynamic.
Colorado – Mesa County Clerk Who Embraced Conspiracy Theories Given 3 Days to Accept Election Security Oversight
Denver Post – Saja Hindi | Published: 1/12/2022
Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold wants Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters to sign documents saying she will comply with election security protocols that place limits on what she can do before Peters can resume her duties as the county’s designated election official. In October, a judge barred Peters and Deputy Clerk Belinda Knisley from overseeing the 2021 election. Peters has been held up as a prominent figure among election conspiracy theorists who claim the 2020 election was stolen.
Connecticut – Top Prosecutor’s Fate Will Await Completion of Investigation, Judge Says
Connecticut Mirror – Mark Pazniokas | Published: 1/12/2022
The commission with the power to hire and fire top prosecutors in Connecticut is awaiting completion of an investigation of how Chief State’s Attorney Richard Colangelo Jr. came to hire the daughter of a top state budget official while he lobbied the budget office for raises. Colangelo hired Anastasia Diamantis while he was lobbying her father, Kostantinos Diamantis, who was deputy secretary of the Office of Policy and Management before his firing. The state contracted with an outside attorney “to conduct a factual investigation on behalf of the Office of the Governor regarding possible improprieties by state employees and possibly others.”
Delaware – Jury Finds State Sen. Darius Brown Not Guilty of Misdemeanor Charges
Yahoo News – Xerxes Wilson (Delaware News Journal) | Published: 1/6/2022
A jury found Delaware Sen. Darius Brown not guilty of misdemeanor offensive touching and disorderly conduct. The trial saw a woman accuse Brown of hitting her in the head and throwing a glass that shattered in her proximity while they were at a restaurant. Senate President Pro Tempore David Sokola said regardless of whether Brown’s conduct was not criminal, “it remains clear” Brown has been involved in “multiple confrontations in public spaces” over the past year. Sokola said the Senate’s Rules and Ethics Committee will review allegations against Brown in the coming weeks.
Florida – Florida Officials Tried to Steer Education Contract to Former Lawmaker’s Company
Yahoo News – Lawrence Mower and Ana Ceballos (Tampa Bay Times) | Published: 1/11/2022
The Florida Department of Education is under fire for trying to steer a multimillion-dollar contract to a company whose chief executive has ties to the state’s education commissioner. Records and interviews show that before the Education Department asked for bids, it was already in advanced talks with the company to do the work, subverting a process designed to eliminate favoritism. The company is MGT Consulting, led by former lawmaker Trey Traviesa, a longtime colleague of the state’s education commissioner, Richard Corcoran.
Florida – Florida Senate Accuses Lawyer Who Submitted Redistricting Map of Violating Rules
Miami Herald – Mary Ellen Klas | Published: 1/6/2022
The Florida Senate accused a staff attorney for the ACLU of Florida of misinformation after he appeared as a private citizen before a redistricting committee to present a map he had drawn but failed to identify his employer, which had no role in the submission. The Senate changed its rules this year regarding map submissions and now requires anyone who attempts to address legislators in a public meeting to submit a disclosure form that indicates if they are a lobbyist or getting expenses paid. The rules also prohibit lawmakers from considering maps submitted by the public unless a legislator explicitly requested the map in writing.
Florida – FPL Makes Unusual Public Attack on Miami Herald After Solar Power Coverage
MSN – David Ovalle (Miami Herald) | Published: 1/6/2022
Florida Power & Light (FPL) launched an unusual public attack on The Miami Herald and its senior Tallahassee reporter over coverage of the utility company’s lobbying on solar power policy, criticism the newspaper’s top editor called “unfair.” FPL published a piece on its own website criticizing the news organization for not publishing the entirety of an editorial written in response to a Miami Herald story co-authored by Mary Ellen Klas about the company’s role in preparing legislation affecting rooftop solar power generation in Florida. FPL’s post was titled: “Truth Matters: Why is the Miami Herald afraid to let its readers hear opposing voices?”
Georgia – Perdue Sues Over New Georgia Fundraising Law
Yahoo News – Joseph Coi (The Hill) | Published: 1/6/2022
David Perdue’s gubernatorial campaign filed a lawsuit challenging a state law that critics say gives Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp an advantage in the race. Last year, Kemp signed Senate Bill 221 into law, allowing those vying for governor, lieutenant governor, and party leadership roles to create “leadership committees” with no caps on individual campaign contributions. The law also does away with limits on when committees can raise money. Critics have argued it gives incumbent candidates an unfair advantage, as nonincumbent candidates must win a party primary before they can establish a leadership committee.
Idaho – Idaho Statehouse Security: Is the ‘people’s house’ a safe place for the people?
KPVI – Clark Corbin (Idaho Capital Sun) | Published: 1/9/2022
Political organizer Alicia Abbott worries that members of the public will not feel comfortable or safe at the Idaho Capitol, whether it is due to the anger or crowds or lack of COVID-19 protocols like masking and distancing. She is concerned that would rob people of their ability to participate in the legislative process and could limit the perspective of public testimony presented to lawmakers during bill hearings. Abbott is not the only one who is worried about the potential for violence and politics to clash.
Iowa – Republican Leadership Bars Journalists from Iowa Senate Floor, Worrying Press Advocates
MSN – Kim Bellware (Washington Post) | Published: 1/8/2022
Republican leaders in the state Senate told journalists they will no longer be allowed to work on the chamber floor, a change that breaks with a more than 140-year tradition in the Iowa Capitol. The move raised concerns among free press and freedom of information advocates who said it is a blow to transparency and open government that makes it harder for the public to understand, let alone scrutinize, elected officials. The new rule denies reporters access to the press benches near senators’ desks, a proximity that statehouse reporters said is crucial for the most accurate coverage.
Kentucky – Senate Bill Would Block State Contracts If Bidders’ Lobbyists Are Convicted of Crimes
Yahoo News – John Cheves (Lexington Herald-Leader) | Published: 1/10/2022
A Kentucky Senate bill would block state contracts from going to companies for five years after their lobbyists are convicted of crimes related to helping those companies win those contracts. If the language in Senate Bill 46 sounds specific, that is because the sponsor has in mind a particular contract and a particular lobbyist and particular crimes. Sen. Stephen Meredith said he objects to a $51.7 million contract renewal awarded by the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet in 2020 to Cannon Cochran Management Services.
Maryland – Howard County Council Member Outraged by Denial of Matching Campaign Funds, Calling It Political Manipulation
MSN – Katie Long (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 1/12/2022
A technicality in the law resulted in Howard County candidates being denied matching campaign funds this election season. To be eligible for up to $85,000 in matching funds, county council candidates must collect at least $10,000 from at least 125 donations. These funds are only available for candidates in contested races, meaning at least two candidates’ names must appear on the ballot. The rules also state the determination date for when a race is “contested” is six months prior to the state filing deadline. This language is what resulted in the withholding of funds from council member Deb Jung.
Michigan – Judge Tosses GOP Challenge to Exception for Recall Donations
MSN – David Eggers (Associated Press) | Published: 1/6/2022
A federal judge dismissed Republicans’ lawsuit challenging the ability of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s reelection campaign to collect excess donations under an exception for recall attempts, saying they lack the standing to sue. U.S. District Court Judge Janet Neff ruled state GOP Chairperson Ron Weiser and the party failed to show they had suffered a “concrete and particularized injury.” She also said they could have given unlimited amounts to recall committees opposing the Democratic governor but did not. Republicans said they would appeal.
Montana – Montana Conservation Voters Action Fund Facing Fine for Campaign Finance Violations
Helena Independent Record – Nolan Lister | Published: 1/12/2022
Montana Conservation Voters Action Fund is facing a fine for failing to file reports on its spending in municipal elections in Helena, Missoula, and Billings last year. As a registered political committee, the group is permitted to engage in these actions. But it failed to report its expenses as required. “Unfortunately, our vendor failed to submit the required reports related to our work …,” said Jake Brown, the organization’s political director.
New Mexico – New Mexico Ethics Commission to Consider Charges Against Dow
Yahoo News – Robert Nott (Santa Fe New Mexican) | Published: 1/10/2022
The general counsel for the State Ethics Commission recommended a public hearing to determine whether New Mexico Rep. Rebecca Dow, a GOP candidate for governor in the June primary, violated government conduct and financial disclosure rules in connection with her work for a nonprofit she founded, AppleTree Educational Center, a faith-based early childhood education provider. A complaint raised questions about whether Dow accurately disclosed details about her position and salary with AppleTree. It also said there is evidence she may have used her legislative position to advocate for the nonprofit.
New Mexico – Public Financing the Common Factor for Winners of ABQ Campaigns in 2021
Albuquerque Journal – Jessica Dyer | Published: 1/9/2022
Whether Republican or Democrat, incumbent or political newcomer, every candidate who won a position in Albuquerque’s municipal government during the 2021 election cycle had at least one thing in common: all ran for office on the city’s public financing system. But the program that has fueled so many recent election wins also continues to fuel controversy and doubt.
New York – Cuomo Lawyer Fires Warning at Ethics Agency
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 1/12/2022
An attorney representing former Gov. Andrew Cuomo notified New York’s ethics oversight panel that it is to preserve “all evidence and documentation” concerning its efforts to force Cuomo to repay $5.1 million in proceeds from a 2020 book deal. The letter appears to be a warning shot to the Joint Commission on Public Ethics that if the panel continues attempts to force Cuomo to repay the funds that he earned from writing the book, Cuomo will sue. Cuomo will also seek to dig into the panel’s own machinations.
New York – Eric Adams Cuts His Brother’s Duties After Giving Him Top Police Job
New York Times – Dana Rubenstein and William Rashbaum | Published: 1/12/2022
When Mayor Eric Adams named a Virginia parking administrator and retired police sergeant to a top position in the New York Police Department, he said the man had one qualification that no one else there possessed: he was the mayor’s brother. Bernard Adams, 56, a former police sergeant who retired from the force in 2006 after 20 years, has been given one of the most elite jobs in city government: overseeing the unit that will protect the mayor’s physical safety. The mayor’s fundraising tactics have, tested the boundaries of campaign finance and law, and the hiring has amplified concerns that Mayor Adams pays too little heed to ethics.
New York – GOP Sues Over Law Letting Noncitizens Vote in NYC Elections
MSN – Marina Vileneuve (Associated Press) | Published: 1/10/2022
Republicans sued to prevent noncitizens from voting in New York City elections under a new local law that allows more than 800,000 noncitizens and “Dreamers” in New York City to vote in municipal elections as early as next year. They still cannot vote for president or members of Congress or in statewide elections. Republicans said the law violates the state constitution, which says, “every citizen shall be entitled to vote at every election” provided a citizen is at least 18 years old and a “resident of this state” and the locality for 30 days before an election.
New York – Hochul Moves to Scrap Much-Criticized Ethics Agency
Buffalo News – Tom Precious | Published: 1/7/2022
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul proposed reforms for the Joint Commission on Public Integrity (JCOPE). She would get rid of the system by which JCOPE board members are selected. Board members are now chosen by the governor and legislative leaders. Hochul wants a rotating five-member panel of law school deans – or, more likely, their designees – from the 15 state-accredited law schools in New York. Hochul also would scrap the special voting system JCOPE can now employ in which a minority of members can end an investigation. The reconstituted agency would still be the reporting and enforcement entity of the lobbying industry in Albany.
New York – Hochul’s Taxpayer-Funded Air Travel May Violate Ethics Rules
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 1/6/2022
On October 4, Gov. Kathy Hochul flew from Albany to New York City on a state-owned airplane. She went to Brooklyn to sign a bill, then held three campaign-related events before flying back to Albany in the evening. Although a major part of the day was dedicated to Hochul winning a full term in November’s election, her campaign did not reimburse taxpayers for any portion of the day’s travel. During Hochul’s first 45 days in office, on at least three separate days, the governor’s use of state aircraft has raised questions about whether there has been any misuse of taxpayer resources, according to a review of public records.
North Carolina – North Carolina Court Declines to Toss Out GOP-Drawn House Map
Yahoo News – Ally Mutnick (Politico) | Published: 1/11/2022
A North Carolina trial court dealt a setback to Democrats when it declined to strike down Republican-drawn congressional and legislative maps that had been challenged as illegal partisan gerrymanders. The ruling is the latest in a flurry of litigation and court orders muddying North Carolina’s 2022 elections and leaving its political future for the next decade in limbo. The Democratic-aligned plaintiffs who brought the suit immediately said they will appeal to the state Supreme Court, where their party has a narrow majority.
Ohio – Campaign Finance Watchdog Sues FEC Over Ohio Dark Money Group
Ohio Capital Journal – Nick Evans | Published: 1/11/2022
Two years ago, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed an FEC complaint against an Ohio-based “dark money” group called Freedom Vote. Attorneys with the FEC investigated and demonstrated violations occurred but the commission deadlocked. CREW has filed a new complaint, this time against the FEC itself. That is because despite an overwhelming set of evidence, commissioners failed to act against Freedom Vote. The commission deadlocked last November on whether to move forward with any kind of punishment.
Ohio – Ohio’s House Bill 6 Scandal Widened in 2021, but More Is Yet to Come in 2022
MSN – Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 12/30/2021
Ohio’s House Bill 6 scandal took on a new dimension in 2021, with FirstEnergy Corp. paying a $230 million fine for bribing top state officials, lawmakers passing a partial repeal of the infamous energy law, and ex- House Speaker Larry Householder being kicked out of the Legislature. There is more to come in 2022, as Householder’s upcoming trial on a federal corruption charge, as well as multiple civil lawsuits, are likely to reveal even more scandalous details about the passage of the legislation.
Oregon – Secretary of State Rules Kristof Ineligible to Run for Oregon Governor
Yahoo News – Connor Radnovich (Salem Statesman-Journal) | Published: 1/6/2022
Former New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof cannot run for Oregon governor because he does not meet the residency requirements to hold office, the secretary of state’s office announced. The state constitution requires a candidate for governor to have been a “resident within this state” for three years prior to the general election. Evidence reviewed by elections officials showed Kristof was instead a resident of New York until late 2020 or early 2021.
Tennessee – Nashville Council Member Jonathan Hall Faces 14 Potential Campaign Finance Violations
MSN – Cassandra Stephenson (The Tennessean) | Published: 1/7/2022
Metropolitan Councilperson Jonathan Hall faces more than a dozen potential campaign finance violations that could lead to an audit or civil penalties. Hall failed to file multiple mandatory financial reports on time, or at all, during election cycles in 2018 and 2019, according to a letter sent from Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance Executive Director Bill Young. Of the financial reports that Hall’s campaign did file, some lack required donor and vendor information and itemization of expenses. Some contain unexplained discrepancies deemed “troubling” by Assistant District Attorney General Brian Ewald.
Washington – A Rural Washington School Board Race Shows How Far-Right Extremists Are Shifting to Local Power
Seattle Times – Hannah Allam (Washington Post) | Published: 1/8/2022
In recent years, far-right groups have been moving away from national organizing to focus on building grassroots support, harnessing conservative outrage to influence school boards and other local offices. That effort was stepped up after the attack on the U.S. Capitol left much of the militant right under federal scrutiny and in operational disarray. Eatonville, Washington, is among several rural, conservative parts of the West where members of self-styled militias are making inroads through what researchers call a mix of opportunism and intimidation.
Wisconsin – Supreme Court Clears Way for Liberal Group to Depose Assembly Speaker Robin Vos
Yahoo News – Patrick Marley (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) | Published: 1/11/2022
The Wisconsin Supreme Court ended Assembly Speaker Robin Vos’ attempt to avoid a deposition, setting the stage for him to take questions under oath over whether he has followed the state’s open records law. He sought to avoid answering questions from the liberal group American Oversight, which has been seeking records of a partisan review of the 2020 election ordered by Vos.
January 13, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Maryland: “Howard County Council Member Outraged by Denial of Matching Campaign Funds, Calling It Political Manipulation” by Katie Long (Baltimore Sun) for MSN Ohio: “Campaign Finance Watchdog Sues FEC Over Ohio Dark Money Group” by Nick Evans for […]
Maryland: “Howard County Council Member Outraged by Denial of Matching Campaign Funds, Calling It Political Manipulation” by Katie Long (Baltimore Sun) for MSN
Ohio: “Campaign Finance Watchdog Sues FEC Over Ohio Dark Money Group” by Nick Evans for Ohio Capital Journal
Tennessee: “Nashville Council Member Jonathan Hall Faces 14 Potential Campaign Finance Violations” by Cassandra Stephenson (The Tennessean) for MSN
Arizona: “Cyber Ninjas, the Firm Behind the Audit in Arizona’s Maricopa County, Says It’s Closing and Letting All Its Employees Go” by Cheryl Teh for Business Insider
Colorado: “Mesa County Clerk Who Embraced Conspiracy Theories Given 3 Days to Accept Election Security Oversight” by Saja Hindi for Denver Post
Wisconsin: “Supreme Court Clears Way for Liberal Group to Depose Assembly Speaker Robin Vos” by Patrick Marley (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) for Yahoo News
National: “When Lobbyists and Legislators Socialize, Lobbyists Are More Likely to Get What They Want” by Sara Sadhwani, Pamela Lopez, Christian Grose, and Antoine Yoshinaka for MSN
North Carolina: “North Carolina Court Declines to Toss Out GOP-Drawn House Map” by Ally Mutnick (Politico) for Yahoo News
January 11, 2022 •
Campaign Finance New Mexico: “Public Financing the Common Factor for Winners of ABQ Campaigns in 2021” by Jessica Dyer for Albuquerque Journal Ethics National: “Rep. Jim Jordan Refuses to Cooperate with Jan. 6 Committee Investigating Capitol Attack” by Annabelle Timsit […]
New Mexico: “Public Financing the Common Factor for Winners of ABQ Campaigns in 2021” by Jessica Dyer for Albuquerque Journal
National: “Rep. Jim Jordan Refuses to Cooperate with Jan. 6 Committee Investigating Capitol Attack” by Annabelle Timsit (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Fed Ethics Scandal Reignited Over New Disclosures by Top Official” by Victoria Guida (Politico) for Yahoo News
Florida: “FPL Makes Unusual Public Attack on Miami Herald After Solar Power Coverage” by David Ovalle (Miami Herald) for MSN
Iowa: “Republican Leadership Bars Journalists from Iowa Senate Floor, Worrying Press Advocates” by Kim Bellware (Washington Post) for MSN
New York: “NYC Mayor Adams Appoints Younger Brother as Deputy NYPD Commissioner in Move That Raises Conflict-of-Interest Questions” by Rocco Parascandola, Tim Balk, Chris Sommerfeldt, and Shant Shahrigian (New York Daily News) for MSN
California: “What’s Behind the ‘Great Resignation’ of California Lawmakers?” by Ben Christopher (CalMatters) for MSN
Idaho: “Idaho Statehouse Security: Is the ‘people’s house’ a safe place for the people?” by Clark Corbin (Idaho Capital Sun) for KPVI
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