April 13, 2021 •
Campaign Finance National: “Asian American Super PAC Launches Operation to Improve Understanding of Fastest-Growing Electorate” by Colby Itkowitz and Amy Wang (Washington Post) for MSN Illinois: “Ethics Board Reduces Campaign Finance Fine Levied Against Ald. Austin From $145K to $5K” […]
National: “Asian American Super PAC Launches Operation to Improve Understanding of Fastest-Growing Electorate” by Colby Itkowitz and Amy Wang (Washington Post) for MSN
Illinois: “Ethics Board Reduces Campaign Finance Fine Levied Against Ald. Austin From $145K to $5K” by Heather Cerone for WTTW
Massachusetts: “A Senator Donated $137,000 to the State GOP. The Party Then Spent That Same Amount Aiding His Wife’s Campaign” by Matt Stout (Boston Globe) for MSN
National: “How the Corporate Backlash to Georgia’s New Voting Law is Shaping Other Fights Around the Country Over Access to the Polls” by Amy Gardner and Mike DeBonis (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Gaetz Faces House Ethics Probe; Federal Investigation Widens” by Eric Tucker, Michael Balsamo, and Lisa Mascaro for Associated Press News
New Jersey: “Plan to Improve Legislators Financial Disclosure Now Stalled for Nearly 15 Months” by Nikita Biryukov for New Jersey Globe
New York: “Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Government Staff Did Work on ‘Super PAC’s’ Poll” by Chris Bragg (Albany Times Union) for Finger Lakes Times
Europe: “UK Lobbying Scandal Snares Ex-PM Cameron; Govt Starts Probe” by Danica Kirka for Associated Press News
April 12, 2021 •
On April 9, the Philadelphia Board of Ethics announced the 2021 lobbying training schedule. The virtual lobbyist training covers the basic requirements of the city’s lobbying law for lobbyists, lobbying firms, and principals. The training will also cover the process […]
On April 9, the Philadelphia Board of Ethics announced the 2021 lobbying training schedule.
The virtual lobbyist training covers the basic requirements of the city’s lobbying law for lobbyists, lobbying firms, and principals.
The training will also cover the process of registering and filing expense reports with the Board of Ethics through the Philadelphia Lobbying Information System (PLIS).
Currently, it is not mandatory to attend one of the 2021 lobbying trainings.
Registration for the lobbying training may be accomplished at http://bit.ly/BOELobbyTraining.
All trainings will be held from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. via Zoom on April 20, July 9, and October 14.
More dates may be added at a later time and dates are subject to change.
April 9, 2021 •
National/Federal ‘A Complete Ripoff’: Campaign finance experts puzzled and stunned by Trump camp’s reported ‘money bomb’ ploy MSN – Grace Panetta (Business Insider) | Published: 4/6/2021 Some donors who gave a few hundred dollars to former President Trump’s reelection campaign were […]
‘A Complete Ripoff’: Campaign finance experts puzzled and stunned by Trump camp’s reported ‘money bomb’ ploy
MSN – Grace Panetta (Business Insider) | Published: 4/6/2021
Some donors who gave a few hundred dollars to former President Trump’s reelection campaign were shocked to see thousands drained from their accounts. Refund requests spiked in the final months of the campaign. A New York Times investigation detailed a recurring donation scheme reportedly referred to as “the money bomb” the Trump campaign used to pad its coffers in the final months of the campaign through the Republican fundraising platform WinRed. The payments, according to the Times, essentially functioned as an “interest-free loan” from Trump’s donors to his campaign, which faced financial turmoil in the months leading up to the November 3 election.
Corporate America Isn’t Welcoming Former Trump Cabinet Officials with Open Arms, Headhunters Say
MSN – Tory Newmyer (Washington Post) | Published: 4/7/2021
Before she joined the Trump administration as transportation secretary, Elaine Chao earned millions of dollars over the past decade by serving on the boards of big public companies such as Dole Foods and Wells Fargo. She offered sterling credentials to businesses eager to keep current with the Republican leadership, but Chao is encountering a fraught reentry into the private sector. Headhunters who have sought similarly prominent work for Chao have found little interest. While the small numbers make comparisons difficult, corporations do not seem to have an immediate interest in other top Trump administration alums either.
Corporate America Isn’t Welcoming Former Trump Cabinet Officials with Open Arms, Headhunters Say
MSN – Tory Newmyer (Washington Post) | Published: 4/5/2021
Before she joined the Trump administration as transportation secretary, Elaine Chao earned millions of dollars over the past decade by serving on the boards of big public companies such as Dole Foods and Wells Fargo. She offered sterling credentials to businesses eager to keep current with the Republican leadership, but Chao is encountering a fraught reentry into the private sector. Headhunters who have sought similarly prominent work for Chao have found little interest. While the small numbers make comparisons difficult, corporations do not seem to have an immediate interest in other top Trump administration alums either.
Covid Survivors Look to Turn Grief into Lobbying Clout
Politico – Alice Miranda Ollstein | Published: 4/5/2021
Activists with chronic illnesses helped save the Affordable Care Act from repeal and gun violence survivors built a movement to take on the National Rifle Association. Now, a cohort of COVID-19 survivors is working to turn their grief into political power. As President Biden pitches a multi-trillion-dollar package to shore up the country’s physical infrastructure, the new advocates, including people who lost loved ones to the virus, are focusing their grassroots lobbying on the follow-up plan Biden is expected to unveil addressing the country’s “human infrastructure.” Fresh off a round of lobbying in favor of the pandemic aid bill, recently formed groups are also launching efforts at the federal and state levels.
Democratic Firm Aims to Diversify Consultant Class
Politico – James Arkin | Published: 4/5/2021
A major Democratic consulting firm is building a new public affairs practice and launching a paid fellowship program intended to increase diversity in the party’s consultant class. Left Hook, a firm that works with major congressional candidates and committees, is launching the fellowship program this fall and bringing on a new veteran campaign operative to run a public affairs division. The effort is part of a long-term goal to increase the diversity in their own ranks in the hopes of pushing the party to further develop talent pipelines for women and people of color.
Former Trump HUD Official Fined, Barred from Government Employment
Politico – Katy O’Donnell | Published: 4/6/2021
A federal watchdog fined former Trump housing official Lynne Patton $1,000 and barred her from federal employment for four years after she violated a law prohibiting executive branch employees from engaging in political activities while on duty. The U.S. Office of Special Counsel penalized Patton, who served as Housing and Urban Development regional administrator for New York and New Jersey, over a video she produced with New York City Housing Authority residents to air at the 2020 Republican National Convention.
Gaetz Is Said to Have Boasted of His ‘Access to Women’ Provided by Friend Charged in Sex-Trafficking Case
MSN – Michael Scherer and Matt Zapotosky (Washington Post) | Published: 4/2/2021
U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz repeatedly boasted to people involved in Florida politics about women he met through a county tax collector who has since been charged by federal authorities with sex trafficking of a minor, according to two people who heard his comments directly. They said Gatetz also showed them videos on his phone of naked or topless women on multiple occasions, including at parties with Joel Greenberg, the former tax collector for Seminole County. The Justice Department is investigating whether Gaetz paid for sex with women in violation of federal sex-trafficking laws.
Gaetz Reported to Have Sought a ‘Blanket’ Pardon from Trump
Politico – Benjamin Dinn and Matt Dixon | Published: 4/6/2021
U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz allegedly sought a “blanket” presidential pardon from Donald Trump in the closing weeks of his administration, a request which was ultimately not fulfilled. The request for a blanket preemptive pardon for Gaetz and unidentified congressional allies, came as the Justice Department was opening an investigation into whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her to travel across state lines.
Honduras Hired Elite D.C. Law Firm in Failed Lobbying Effort to Derail ‘State-Sponsored Drug Trafficking Probe’ of President’s Brother
MSN – Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 4/1/2021
Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández’s government retained an influential Washington, D.C. law firm to lobby U.S. prosecutors to call off a “state-sponsored drug trafficking” probe of his brother, who was sentenced recently for smuggling 185 tons of cocaine into the United States. Prosecutors cited the failed September 2019 influence campaign by Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, along with the murder of four people linked to the investigation, in urging stiff punishment for Juan Antonio Hernández, who is also a former Honduran lawmaker.
New Labor Secretary’s Ex-Boston Aides Line Up to Lobby in D.C.
Bloomberg Law – Ben Penn | Published: 4/6/2021
Three former senior aides who served under Labor Secretary Marty Walsh when he was Boston’s mayor are now lobbyists seeking to promote business interests in matters facing the U.S. Labor Department. Such career pivots are common in Washington, where businesses prize individuals who have working relationships with policymakers. There is no indication the trio of former staffers will have an easier time than any other company or union representative in gaining access to the new secretary. But the Walsh acolytes’ shift to labor lobbying highlights the business community’s desire to tap into the new secretary’s penchant for pragmatism and receptiveness to employer concerns despite his roots in organized labor.
Republicans Ramp Up Attacks on Corporations Over Georgia Voting Law, Threaten ‘Consequences’
MSN – Marianna Sotomayor and Todd Frankel (Washington Post) | Published: 4/5/2021
Republicans are attacking corporations over their decision to condemn the controversial Georgia voting law, part of the party’s embrace of the populism espoused by former President Trump even as it creates tensions with traditional allies in the business community. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell accused corporations of siding with Democrats’ portrayal of the law as the new Jim Crow. His statement included a threat of unspecified “serious consequences” if companies continued to stand opposite Republicans on a variety of issues. The acrimony underscores the party’s increasingly fraying relationship with corporate America over social and cultural issues.
Sen. Ted Cruz Illegally Promoted His Book with Campaign Funds, Watchdog Alleges in Ethics Complaints
CNBC – Kevin Breuninger | Published: 4/7/2021
The Campaign Legal Center (CLC) alleges U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz violated campaign finance rules by using donor funds to promote his book. The CLC accused Cruz’s campaign committee of spending up to $18,000 in late 2020 on Facebook advertisements that “exclusively” urged viewers to buy copies of the senator’s book. Those ads included links to buy the book from third-party online booksellers, said the CLC. “Because Cruz receives royalties from book sales, his campaign crossed a legal line by spending donor funds on Facebook ads promoting sales of that book,” said Brendan Fischer, CLC director of federal reform.
The Battle for Tribune: Inside the campaign to find new owners for a legendary group of newspapers
MSN – Elahe Izade and Sarah Ellison (Washington Post) | Published: 4/5/2021
Last year, as a group of Baltimore Sun reporters embarked on a quest to find a new owner that could save their paper from a hedge-fund takeover, Ted Venetoulis, a former Baltimore County executive, launched the Save Our Sun campaign. It would eventually inspire a national effort to keep nearly a dozen newspapers owned by the same chain from being bought by Alden Global Capital, a hedge fund with a singular reputation for gutting newsrooms. Although millionaires and political insiders were crucial to the rescue plan, so too were the reporters who work at the threatened papers.
White House Meets Little Resistance in Hiring Former Lobbyists
The Hill – Alex Gangitano | Published: 4/6/2021
Alethea Predeoux, a former lobbyist for the American Federation of Government Employees, and Charanya Krishnaswami, who lobbied for Amnesty International, received ethics waivers to join the Biden administration. The moves come after President Biden signed an executive order placing restrictions on all former registered lobbyists working in the administration, drawing praise from advocacy groups. Some of those same organizations have taken no issue with the recent waivers. Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said: “Public interest lobbyists are generally not an issue. The issue is corporate lobbyists who could … skew hundreds of billions of dollars to their former industry.”
From the States and Municipalities
Alabama – Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill Admits Affair, Won’t Run for U.S. Senate: ‘There’s no excuse’
AL.com – Connor Sheets and Kyle Whitmore | Published: 4/7/2021
After initially denying reports of an extramarital affair, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill admitted he had “an inappropriate relationship” with a legal assistant and will not make an anticipated run for the U.S. Senate. The revelations threw a wrench into the race to replace Sen. Richard Shelby, who is retiring. While campaigning for secretary of state, rumors that Merrill had a consensual encounter with a married woman in 2010 circulated. The allegation did little to stymie Merrill’s political aspirations, which continued with his 2019 campaign for U.S. Senate, where he was one of five GOP candidates hoping to unseat incumbent Democrat Doug Jones. In that campaign, Merrill made headlines for his comments about family values.
California – Carlsbad Approves Campaign Contribution Limits
San Diego Union Tribune – Phil Diehl | Published: 4/7/2021
Carlsbad lowered the limits on individual campaign contributions in a compromise that some city council members said was an effort to level the playing field for local candidates. Instead of using California’s default limit of $4,900 per donor, the council voted to set the maximum at $900 for council district elections and $3,100 for the mayoral and other citywide elected offices. The council also added a $10,000 cap on personal campaign loans.
California – How GOP Used Misinformation, Partisan News Sites to Flip California House Seats
CalMatters – Freddie Brewster and Katie Licari | Published: 3/26/2021
Last fall, Republicans flipped four congressional seats in California previously held by Democrats. Although the races varied in their rhetoric, they had one thing in common: the National Republican Congressional Committee targeted all four Democratic candidates in dossiers posted publicly that were filled with information, some of it false, used by some candidates for negative campaigning. The misinformation in turn was amplified not only on social media but by a handful of upstart conservative partisan news outlets.
Connecticut – Jon Lender: $20,000 ethics fine paid two years after being levied on former UConn official, who awarded her husband a $53,000 fellowship
MSN – Jon Lender (Hartford Courant) | Published: 4/2/2021
Former University of Connecticut graduate school diversity officer Charmane Thurmand, who was found by state ethics officials to have improperly given her husband a $53,000 fellowship, paid a $20,000 fine two years after it was levied, finally ending a contentious case. In March 2019, The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board ordered Thurmand to pay the maximum $10,000 fine for each of two violations it found she had committed three years earlier. The Office of State Ethics filed an enforcement action with the help of the state attorney general’s office to collect the money.
Florida – Ethics Questions Raised About Developer Tapped for Riviera’s $300M Marina Project
MSN – Tony Doris (Palm Beach Post) | Published: 4/5/2021
Turning Riviera Beach’s waterfront into a municipal centerpiece has been a challenge for city officials and most of the construction has yet to materialize. As negotiators and Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) staff work behind the scenes, a new challenge has arisen for the city council members, who sit as the CRA board of directors. A series of articles cast one of the main developers, Vaughn Irons, in an unfavorable light. The stories focus on Irons allegedly presenting a document purporting to be from the DeKalb County Ethics Board that found it would not be a conflict for him to win a $1.5 million county contract while serving as chair of the county’s Economic Development Authority. The Ethics Board said it never issued that opinion.
Florida – Former Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie Pleads Guilty to Misusing Office; Corruption Felonies Dropped
South Florida Sun Sentinel – Marc Freeman | Published: 4/1/2021
Former Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie pleaded guilty to charges arising out of a public corruption case that ended her long political career. With her plea deal, she shook off all four felony corruption counts. Haynie no longer stands accused of concealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in income, including money from prominent city developers. She pleaded guilty to misuse of public office and failure to disclose a voting conflict, and received 122 months on probation.
Florida – Who Is Lobbying to Change Florida’s Privacy Laws? That’s Private
Politico – Matt Dixon | Published: 4/1/2021
A mysterious group is the driving lobbying force behind legislation that would beef up Florida’s data privacy laws. It has hired a Tallahassee-based lobbying team and spent $300,000 in political contributions, but almost no one, including the sponsors of the bills, has any idea who is behind the group. The organization, Propel Florida, is a nonprofit that is not required to disclose its donors, lists a UPS box in Lithia as its only address and was incorporated last April. But over the first half of the 2021 legislative session, the group has flexed its political muscle.
Georgia – Georgia’s Republican Party Accused of Illegally Accepting In-Kind Contributions from an Election Integrity Nonprofit in a New FEC Complaint
Yahoo News – Grace Panetta (Business Insider) | Published: 3/31/2021
Two watchdog groups filed a complaint with the FEC accusing the Georgia Republican Party of illegally accepting in-kind contributions from True the Vote, a nonprofit that engaged in election-related activities around Georgia’s U.S. Senate runoffs., and not properly reporting them. The FEC defines in-kind contributions as a “non-monetary contribution” to benefit a campaign or committee. Federal law bans corporations (including both for-profit and non-profit organizations) from making such contributions to candidates or party committees or coordinating with them.
Georgia – MLB All-Star Game Yanked from Georgia Over Voting Law
Associated Press News – Ronald Blume | Published: 4/2/2021
Atlanta lost Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game over the league’s objections to sweeping changes to Georgia voting laws that critics, including the chief executive officers of Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola, have condemned as being too restrictive. Gov. Brian Kemp has insisted the law’s critics have mischaracterized what it does, yet GOP lawmakers adopted the changes largely in response to false claims of fraud in the 2020 elections by former President Trump and his supporters. The law includes new restrictions on voting by mail and greater legislative control over how elections are run.
Illinois – Feds Put Spotlight on Cook County Commissioner Luis Arroyo Jr. in Sprawling Corruption Probe
WBEZ – Tony Arnold | Published: 4/7/2021
A sitting Cook County commissioner is now under the federal microscope as part of a sprawling federal corruption investigation into lobbyists and politicians in Illinois. The latest elected official to face scrutiny is Cook County Commissioner Luis Arroyo Jr. Federal prosecutors issued a subpoena earlier this year to the Illinois Department of Revenue. The subpoena requested the agency release tax returns for Arroyo, his lobbying firm, and his wife. In 2019, Arroyo filed paperwork to lobby the Illinois Legislature while his father was a member. It is not illegal to lobby one government body while serving as an elected official in another, but state lawmakers are considering banning the practice.
Illinois – Illinois House Hears Ethics Proposals, Including ‘Revolving Door’ Prohibition for Lawmakers
The Center Square – Greg Bishop | Published: 4/5/2021
Lawmakers in an Illinois House committee are picking up on things the previous General Assembly attempted to address but was sidetracked last year by COVID-19. Stories boiled over throughout 2019 about corruption at the statehouse. They include a lawmaker wearing a wire catching another legislator in an alleged bribe, to other officials having their offices raided by federal investigators. The Ethics and Elections Committee heard about several ideas to address the problem.
Illinois – No Limit? Republican Gary Rabine Ups the Ante in High-Stakes Governor’s Race
Chicago Sun-Times – Andrew Sullander | Published: 4/5/2021
Four years after the Illinois race for governor broke national records for self-financing candidates, next year’s contest is shaping up to be another duel of the deep pockets. Businessperson Gary Rabine notified state election officials he had donated enough of his own cash to his gubernatorial campaign to lift all fundraising caps on the race.
Iowa – Iowa Democrat Drops Attempt to Contest House Race, Citing ‘Toxic Campaign of Political Disinformation’
MSN – Marianna Sotomayer (Washington Post) | Published: 3/31/2021
Democrat Rita Hart dropped her challenge in the Iowa Second Congressional District race, asking the House to no longer consider an investigation into the outcome of her race against Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks following intense Republican pushback. Miller-Meeks was declared the winner over Hart following a recount with a difference of just six votes out of 400,000 cast. Hart alleges 22 legally cast ballots were not considered during the initial November canvass and subsequent recount, resulting in the tightest congressional electoral outcome in modern history.
Kentucky – Democratic Governor in Deep-Red Kentucky Signs Bill to Expand Voting, Bucking National Trend
MSN – Tim Elfrink (Washington Post) | Published: 4/8/2021
As Republicans from Georgia to Texas have pushed bills to restrict voting after President Trump’s loss, a markedly different story played out in deep-red Kentucky. The Bluegrass State’s GOP-dominated Legislature instead passed a bipartisan bill to expand access to the ballot box. Kentucky’s Democratic governor, Andy Beshear, signed the measure, which mandates three days of no-excuse early voting, drop-boxes in every county, and an online portal to register absentee, among other changes.
Michigan – Dominion Says Ex-Michigan State Senator’s Election Fraud Claims ‘Successfully Duped Thousands of People’
MSN – Katie Shepherd (Washington Post) | Published: 4/5/2021
For months, former Michigan Sen. Patrick Colbeck has repeated baseless claims about mass fraud in the presidential election to state senators and pro-Trump crowds, falsely insinuating that rigged voting machines and bogus ballots swayed the results. Now, Colbeck is the latest target in Dominion Voting Systems’ legal battle to combat claims by Republican allies of former President Trump the company says have damaged its reputation. Dominion demanded Colbeck retract his “demonstrably false claims” about the 2020 election results.
Montana – Montana House Rejects Bill Calling Media ‘Slander Machines’
Associated Press News – Iris Samuels | Published: 4/7/2021
The Montana House narrowly rejected a measure that sought to prevent media outlets from reporting on news that lawmakers deem defamatory. The Stop Guilt by Accusation Act closely resembles bills introduced in at least four other states. None have been signed into law. Supporters of the measure said it was not meant to silence the media, but to ensure that reporting on public figures does not stray from the truth. Opponents said they wished to protect the public debate fostered by a free media.
New Mexico – Redistricting Bill One of 50 Signed into Law Tuesday by Lujan Grisham
Yahoo News – Robert Knott | Published: 4/7/2021
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a bill that will create an independent, seven-member commission to redraw election district boundaries later this year, a victory for good-government advocates who say the maps too often are influenced by state politicians’ self-interest. Commissioners will be chosen no later than July 1 and have up to four months to come up with a plan using Census Bureau data. The coronavirus pandemic has led to a delay in the release of that information, which is estimated to be made public in September. The Legislature will then convene a special session to choose the final plans.
New York – New York Attorney General Probes Finances of Key Trump Aide
MSN – David Fahrenthold and Shayna Jacobs (Washington Post) | Published: 4/1/2021
The New York attorney general has gathered personal financial records of the Trump Organization’s longtime chief financial officer and his family, another sign of legal pressure on one of former President Trump’s closest aides. Allen Weisselberg has handled Trump’s finances for decades, rising to become the company’s most powerful person not named “Trump.” In complex investigations, prosecutors often seek evidence of wrongdoing by subordinates to pressure them to reveal damaging information about their bosses. The pressure by both offices being brought to bear on Weisselberg appears designed to pursue that strategy against Trump.
North Carolina – Bar Lobbyists from UNC Board of Governors, a New Bill Says. 3 of Them Are Members Now.
MSN – Lucille Sherman and Kate Murphy (Raleigh News and Observer) | Published: 4/5/2021
A bill would bar the Legislature from appointing lobbyists to the University of North Carolina System Board of Governors. Senate Bill 546 would cut off one way some lawmakers influence the state’s higher education system by appointing close allies and donors. The bill would prevent lobbyists from trying to balance the interests of the system with those of clients who want certain legislation passed and lawmakers whose support they need to bring those bills across the finish line. Some lobbyists with big-name clients also have the power to direct campaign money to legislators, said watchdog Bob Hall.
North Dakota – Citing Too Much Paperwork, North Dakota Lawmakers Sink Bills to Boost Campaign Finance Transparency
Inforum.com – Jeremy Turley | Published: 4/6/2021
North Dakota senators defeated two bills that would have required political donors to disclose where their money is going, citing a likely increase in the amount of paperwork expected of partisan groups that help elect lawmakers. Candidates and political committees are not legally compelled in North Dakota to detail which campaigns they are supporting or opposing with donations. A bipartisan group of lawmakers set out to change that after Gov. Doug Burgum bankrolled millions of hard-to-track dollars in political advertising for and against candidates during last year’s election cycle.
Ohio – Bill Seeks to End ‘Dark Money’ Spending in Ohio Elections
The Courier – Tyler Buchanan (Ohio Capital Journal) | Published: 4/6/2021
Republican lawmakers are proposing to revamp some of Ohio’s campaign finance laws that would shine a light on “dark money” groups. Public officials from both parties have called for reforms in the wake of the House Bill 6 scandal, which saw the speaker of the state House arrested, as well as widespread attention paid to how certain groups navigate campaign finance and tax laws to anonymously influence election results.
Ohio – Columbus Zoo Investigation: CEO used zoo money personally, failed to bid construction project at The Wilds
MSN – Alissa Widman Reese | Published: 4/6/2021
Former Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Chief Executive Officer Tom Stalf used zoo funds to purchase a recreational vehicle for his exclusive use and used it for a family trip, according to an investigation by a law firm hired by the zoo’s board of directors. Stalf also personally selected the vendor for a $2 million construction project and did not seek competitive bidding. The findings are among the new revelations detailed in the zoo’s first public update on the case. Staif and former Chief Financial Officer Greg Bell resigned after it was reported they used zoo assets personally and for the benefit of their families.
Ohio – Ohio Elections Complaint Seeks Campaign Spending Details from Householder-Aligned Candidate
MSN – Andrew Tobias (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 4/7/2021
A conservative activist issued subpoenas as part of a state elections case he filed against a former state legislative candidate aligned with then-Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder. Chris Hicks is hoping to uncover information about campaign spending for Allen Freeman, who in May 2020 finished last in a Republican primary for a state House seat. The Ohio Elections Commission authorized Hicks’ complaint for a full hearing, which gives him power to subpoena records and, in some instances, compel people to answer questions in writing.
Texas – What’s Inside Texas’s Move to Overhaul Voting Rules
The Hill – Reid Wilson | Published: 4/7/2021
The war over voting access that has roiled Georgia is headed next to Texas, where Republican legislators are working through an omnibus elections overhaul package that would dramatically change the way some voters cast a ballot in future contests. The measure has been labeled a priority by both Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who controls the state Senate. It follows on the heels of election overhauls that passed in 2017 and failed in 2019, but after a chaotic election held amid a pandemic, it aims to crack down on several practices that supporters say ran afoul of current state law.
Vermont – Anti-Bottle Bill ‘Patch Call’ Campaign Draws Fire
VTDigger.org – James Finn | Published: 4/7/2021
A campaign by a group of business lobbyists tried to thwart a bill that would reform recycling in Vermont through a “grassroots” effort. That campaign sparked confusion among lawmakers and constituents who have found themselves on the receiving end of the lobbying efforts and drawn criticism from environmentalists who say the group is being deceptive about its intentions. Vermonters for Recycling claims to be a “community organization” that “advocates for smart, reasonable and effective solutions for the effective reuse of waste materials in Vermont.” But despite the grassroots appearance, the group is run by a Boston-based lobbying firm hired by Vermont business groups that oppose House Bill 175.
Virginia – Unorthodox Republican Contest for Virginia Governor Breeds Confusion, Suspicion
MSN – Laura Vozella (Washington Post) | Published: 4/4/2021
Virginia Republicans are a month away from picking their candidate for governor – not by voters going to the ballot box, but instead by way of a byzantine internal nomination process that has bred confusion and suspicion among the party faithful. Longtime activists and newcomers are struggling to understand how to conduct and partake in the “unassembled convention,” an unorthodox format chosen by party leaders during a pandemic and a GOP family feud. As a nomination method, conventions are easier to manipulate than primaries because local party leaders control the application process, decide who is eligible to vote. and pick the convention location.
April 8, 2021 •
Campaign Finance Ohio: “Ohio Elections Complaint Seeks Campaign Spending Details from Householder-Aligned Candidate” by Andrew Tobias (Cleveland Plain Dealer) for MSN Elections Kentucky: “Democratic Governor in Deep-Red Kentucky Signs Bill to Expand Voting, Bucking National Trend” by Tim Elfrink (Washington […]
Ohio: “Ohio Elections Complaint Seeks Campaign Spending Details from Householder-Aligned Candidate” by Andrew Tobias (Cleveland Plain Dealer) for MSN
Kentucky: “Democratic Governor in Deep-Red Kentucky Signs Bill to Expand Voting, Bucking National Trend” by Tim Elfrink (Washington Post) for MSN
Texas: “What’s Inside Texas’s Move to Overhaul Voting Rules” by Reid Wilson for The Hill
National: “Corporate America Isn’t Welcoming Former Trump Cabinet Officials with Open Arms, Headhunters Say” by Tory Newmyer (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “The Battle for Tribune: Inside the campaign to find new owners for a legendary group of newspapers” by Elahe Izade and Sarah Ellison (Washington Post) for MSN
Alabama: “Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill Admits Affair, Won’t Run for U.S. Senate: ‘There’s no excuse’” by Connor Sheets and Kyle Whitmore for AL.com
Illinois: “Feds Put Spotlight on Cook County Commissioner Luis Arroyo Jr. in Sprawling Corruption Probe” by Tony Arnold for WBEZ
National: “New Labor Secretary’s Ex-Boston Aides Line Up to Lobby in D.C.” by Ben Penn for Bloomberg Law
New Mexico: “Redistricting Bill One of 50 Signed into Law Tuesday by Lujan Grisham” by Robert Knott (Santa Fe New Mexican) for Yahoo News
April 7, 2021 •
Campaign Finance North Dakota: “Citing Too Much Paperwork, North Dakota Lawmakers Sink Bills to Boost Campaign Finance Transparency” by Jeremy Turley for Inforum.com Elections California: “How GOP Used Misinformation, Partisan News Sites to Flip California House Seats” by Freddie Brewster […]
North Dakota: “Citing Too Much Paperwork, North Dakota Lawmakers Sink Bills to Boost Campaign Finance Transparency” by Jeremy Turley for Inforum.com
California: “How GOP Used Misinformation, Partisan News Sites to Flip California House Seats” by Freddie Brewster and Katie Licari for CalMatters
National: “Matt Gaetz, Loyal for Years to Trump, Is Said to Have Sought a Blanket Pardon” by Michael Schmidt, Maggie Haberman, and Nicholas Fandos for New York Times
National: “Former Trump HUD Official Fined, Barred from Government Employment” by Katy O’Donnell for Politico
Illinois: “Illinois House Hears Ethics Proposals, Including ‘Revolving Door’ Prohibition for Lawmakers” by Greg Bishop for The Center Square
Ohio: “Columbus Zoo Investigation: CEO used zoo money personally, failed to bid construction project at The Wilds” by Alissa Widman Reese (Columbus Dispatch) for MSN
National: “White House Meets Little Resistance in Hiring Former Lobbyists” by Alex Gangitano for The Hill
North Carolina: “Bar Lobbyists from UNC Board of Governors, a New Bill Says. 3 of Them Are Members Now.” by Lucille Sherman and Kate Murphy (Raleigh News and Observer) for MSN
April 6, 2021 •
Campaign Finance Illinois: “No Limit? Republican Gary Rabine Ups the Ante in High-Stakes Governor’s Race” by Andrew Sullander for Chicago Sun-Times Elections National: “Inside Corporate America’s Frantic Response to the Georgia Voting Law” by David Gelles for New York Times […]
Illinois: “No Limit? Republican Gary Rabine Ups the Ante in High-Stakes Governor’s Race” by Andrew Sullander for Chicago Sun-Times
National: “Inside Corporate America’s Frantic Response to the Georgia Voting Law” by David Gelles for New York Times
National: “Democratic Firm Aims to Diversify Consultant Class” by James Arkin for Politico
Michigan: “Dominion Says Ex-Michigan State Senator’s Election Fraud Claims ‘Successfully Duped Thousands of People’” by Katie Shepherd (Washington Post) for MSN
Virginia: “Unorthodox Republican Contest for Virginia Governor Breeds Confusion, Suspicion” by Laura Vozella (Washington Post) for MSN
Florida: “Ethics Questions Raised About Developer Tapped for Riviera’s $300M Marina Project” by Tony Doris (Palm Beach Post) for MSN
New York: “New York Attorney General Probes Finances of Key Trump Aide” by David Fahrenthold and Shayna Jacobs (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Honduras Hired Elite D.C. Law Firm in Failed Lobbying Effort to Derail ‘State-Sponsored Drug Trafficking Probe’ of President’s Brother” by Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) for MSN
April 5, 2021 •
Campaign Finance National: “How Trump Steered Supporters into Unwitting Donations” by Shane Goldmacher for New York Times Georgia: “Georgia’s Republican Party Accused of Illegally Accepting In-Kind Contributions from an Election Integrity Nonprofit in a New FEC Complaint” by Grace Panetta […]
National: “How Trump Steered Supporters into Unwitting Donations” by Shane Goldmacher for New York Times
Georgia: “Georgia’s Republican Party Accused of Illegally Accepting In-Kind Contributions from an Election Integrity Nonprofit in a New FEC Complaint” by Grace Panetta (Business Insider) for Yahoo News
Iowa: “Iowa Democrat Drops Attempt to Contest House Race, Citing ‘Toxic Campaign of Political Disinformation’” by Marianna Sotomayer (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Gaetz Is Said to Have Boasted of His ‘Access to Women’ Provided by Friend Charged in Sex-Trafficking Case” by Michael Scherer and Matt Zapotosky (Washington Post) for MSN
Connecticut: “Jon Lender: $20,000 ethics fine paid two years after being levied on former UConn official, who awarded her husband a $53,000 fellowship” by Jon Lender (Hartford Courant) for MSN
Florida: “Former Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie Pleads Guilty to Misusing Office; Corruption Felonies Dropped” by Marc Freeman for South Florida Sun Sentinel
Georgia: “MLB All-Star Game Yanked from Georgia Over Voting Law” by Ronald Blume for Associated Press News
National: “Covid Survivors Look to Turn Grief into Lobbying Clout” by Alice Miranda Ollstein for Politico
Florida: “Who Is Lobbying to Change Florida’s Privacy Laws? That’s Private” by Matt Dixon for Politico
April 2, 2021 •
National/Federal Business Groups Rethinking Value of In-Person Lobbying The Hill – Alex Gangitano | Published: 3/31/2021 Before the pandemic, business groups held fly-ins that allowed for in-person meetings with members of Congress and agency officials. Trade associations are rethinking the need […]
Business Groups Rethinking Value of In-Person Lobbying
The Hill – Alex Gangitano | Published: 3/31/2021
Before the pandemic, business groups held fly-ins that allowed for in-person meetings with members of Congress and agency officials. Trade associations are rethinking the need for in-person lobbying and the travel costs that come with it. Many experts on K Street say engagement efforts are more likely to consist of a hybrid of meetings online and in Washington, D.C., along with fewer trips overall. Virtual fly-ins help lower the barrier of entry for advocacy because companies and groups are not spending as much as they otherwise would sending employees to Washington. In addition to reducing the cost of meeting with lawmakers, the pandemic has allowed for more meetings overall.
Cameron ‘Blocked Rule Change’ That Left ‘Open Door’ for Him to Lobby for Greensill
MSN – Kayleena Makortoff (Guardian) | Published: 3/29/2021
The Labour Party accused former British Prime Minister David Cameron of blocking rule changes that could have stopped him from personally lobbying government officials on behalf of collapsed lender Greensill Capital without publicly declaring his interests. The opposition party put forward amendments to the Lobbying Act that would have increased transparency and scrutiny of in-house lobbying. Rules only require third parties to log their efforts in the public register, while in-house lobbyists do not have to. The amendment, which would have required both groups to register, was defeated after Cameron, who was still prime minister, ordered Conservative peers to vote against the changes in January 2014, Labour said.
Corporations, Vocal About Racial Justice, Go Quiet on Voting Rights
New York Times – David Gelles | Published: 3/29/2021
As Black Lives Matter protesters filled the streets last summer, many of the country’s largest corporations expressed solidarity and pledged support for racial justice. But now, with lawmakers around the country advancing restrictive voting rights bills that would have a disproportionate impact on Black voters, corporate America has gone quiet. Its guarded approach stands in stark contrast to its engagement with other social and political issues in recent years. Many big companies spoke out against then-President Trump on issues including climate change, immigration, and white supremacy.
Court Voids Trump Campaign’s Non-Disclosure Agreement
Politico – Josh Gerstein | Published: 3/30/2021
A federal judge ruled a broad non-disclosure agreement that Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign required employees to sign is unenforceable. U.S. District Court Judge Paul Gardephe’s ruling generally steered clear of the constitutional issues presented by such agreements in the context of political campaigns. Instead, the judge said the sweeping, boilerplate language the campaign compelled employees to sign was so vague the agreement was invalid under New York contract law.
Dems Could Dethrone Iowa
Politico – Natasha Korecki and Holly Otterbein | Published: 3/31/2021
Democratic Party leaders are considering overhauling the 2024 presidential primary calendar, a transformation that would include ousting Iowa and New Hampshire from their perches as the first states to vote. Senior party leaders and Democratic National Committee members are privately exploring the idea of pushing South Carolina and Nevada to the front of the primary election schedule, as well as the possibility of multiple states holding the first nominating contest on the same day. Critics have long insisted that Iowa and New Hampshire have an outsized role in framing the presidential contest despite being unrepresentative of the rest of the country.
Dominion Voting Sues Fox for $1.6B Over 2020 Election Claims
Associated Press News – Colleen Long | Published: 3/25/2021
Dominion Voting Systems filed a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News, arguing the cable news giant falsely claimed to boost faltering ratings that the voting company had rigged the 2020 election. It is the first defamation suit filed against a media outlet by the voting company, which was a target of misleading, false, and bizarre claims spread by former President Trump and his allies in the aftermath of Trump’s loss to Joe Biden. Dominion argues Fox News, which amplified inaccurate assertions that Dominion altered votes, “sold a false story of election fraud in order to serve its own commercial purposes, severely injuring Dominion in the process,” according to the lawsuit.
Ethics Upholds Gohmert’s $5,000 Metal Detector Fine
The Hill – Cristina Marcos | Published: 3/30/2021
The House Committee on Ethics Committee upheld the $5,000 fine levied against U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert for bypassing a security screening to enter the House chamber. Gohmert appealed days after House Democrats voted to enact the punitive measure to enforce compliance with the metal detector screenings established following the January 6 insurrection. Gohmert stated in his appeal that he had complied with the security screening upon first entering the chamber on February 4. He then left the House floor briefly to use the restroom and was unaware that he had to undergo another screening upon reentering the chamber.
FEC Greenlights Campaign Spending for Bodyguards
Politico – Daniel Payne | Published: 3/25/2021
Members of Congress will now be allowed to hire bodyguards with campaign funds, according to a new ruling from the FEC. The agency said members of the House and Senate may spend campaign dollars to hire security personnel when they are not being protected by law enforcement on Capitol Hill. The FEC will also give more guidance to lawmakers on using campaign money for personal security needs beyond the hiring of bodyguards. “I’ve never thought of us as a country where the leadership of the country had to be surrounded by armed guards and needed to keep the public at arm’s length at all times,” said Commissioner Ellen Weintraub, who voted to approve the final ruling.
Gaetz Investigation Complicated by Overture to His Father About Ex-FBI Agent Who Went Missing
MSN – Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 3/31/2021
The Justice Department is investigating U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz over allegations he had sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and paid for her travel, though the probe has been complicated by Gaetz’s assertion his family is being extorted. The FBI separately is exploring the extortion claims that center around Robert Levinson, the longest-held American hostage in Iran. The investigation into Gaetz’s alleged relationship with the 17-year-old grew from a federal case against a different Florida Republican: Joel Greenberg, a former Seminole County tax collector who was charged last summer with sex trafficking of a child and other offenses.
GOP Donors Are Hobnobbing in Person Again; Dems Are Sticking to Zoom
Politico – Theodoric Meyer and Susannah Luthi | Published: 3/31/2021
A few Democrats have dipped their toes in the water with outdoor events, but the party has mostly stuck to virtual fundraisers. A list of more than 80 upcoming fundraisers for House Democrats sent out by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recently includes no in-person events, and a half-dozen Democratic lobbyists and consultants said they could not recall being invited to any such gatherings. Democrats’ caution poses a sharp contrast with a growing number of lawmakers on the Republican side of the aisle, who have been meeting in person with donors for weeks, if not months, and are showing no desire to slow down.
No ‘Dreamers’ Allowed: DACA recipients still can’t work for Congress
MSN – Jim Saska (Roll Call) | Published: 3/25/2021
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) allows undocumented immigrants known as “Dreamers,” who were brought to the U.S. as children, to apply for deportation relief if they meet certain criteria. It also allows them to file for a Social Security number, get a driver’s license, and apply for federal student financial aid. But an appropriations provision has prevented federal money from being used to pay noncitizens as federal employees, with few exceptions. Dreamers can get a job on Capitol Hill only if they are paid by third parties, as interns or fellows placed through groups like the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.
NRA Faces Internal Woes as It Girds for New Gun Control Fight
MSN – Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) | Published: 3/26/2021
In 2017, the National Rifle Association (NRA) celebrated its ascendant political power with a newly elected U.S. president, Donald Trump, who stood at the organization’s national convention lectern promising to deliver for the gun-rights group that had helped secure his election. Four years later, though, the NRA is confronting challenges that have undercut the power of the long-feared lobby organization, even as new gun control measures are proposed after two mass shootings. It has been plagued by allegations of self-dealing and is defending itself against a lawsuit filed by the New York attorney general that alleges the NRA violated its nonprofit status as its top leaders allegedly raided the group’s coffers for personal gain.
Trump Helped the GOP Raise $2 Billion. Now Former Aides and Allies Are Jockeying to Tap into His Fundraising Power.
MSN – Josh Dawsey, Ashley Parker, Michael Scherer, and Anu Narayanswamy (Washington Post) | Published: 3/28/2021
The number of independent money operations connected to former President Trump – some directly associated with him, others that have his tacit blessing – has been expanding since he left office. The groups, which include both nonprofits and super PACs, are seeking to capitalize on Trump’s fundraising firepower, which drove a record $2.2 billion into the three Republican Party campaign committees during his time in office. GOP officials are trying to keep that pipeline going, a prospect complicated by Trump’s ambivalence about letting the party continue to fundraise off his name and the separate fundraising efforts springing up around him, some of which could take aim at Republicans who have crossed the former president.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – Mark Finchem Sought to Overturn the Presidential Race. Now He Wants to Run Arizona’s Elections
MSN – Andrew Oxford (Arizona Republic) | Published: 3/29/2021
One of the leaders of an effort to overturn the results of the presidential race in Arizona wants to oversee the next presidential election as secretary of state. Rep. Mark Finchem filed a statement of interest to run for the post, the first official step in a campaign to become Arizona’s top election official. Finchem previously hinted he might run for the office, having gained notoriety with his support for former President Trump and his claims of wrongdoing in the last election.
California – How California’s Recall Rules Could Spell Trouble for Gavin Newsom
San Jose Mercury News – Ben Christopher (CALmatters) | Published: 3/8/2021
If recalls followed the rules of a normal California election – the person who wins a majority of the votes wins – then Gov. Gavin Newsom, an incumbent Democrat in a thoroughly Democratic state, would have nothing to worry about. But unfortunately for him, a recall is not like an ordinary California election. One part standard-issue candidate race, one part free-spending ballot measure campaign, California recalls adhere to a unique and some critics say, less than fully democratic procedure that makes for a much more unpredictable outcome.
Florida – Carla Miller Retiring from City Ethics Office
Jacksonville Daily Record – Max Marbut | Published: 3/29/2021
Carla Miller is retiring as director of Jacksonville’s Office of Ethics, Compliance and Oversight, effective October 1. Miller said that after 24 years of service to the city she will be putting more time into the nonprofit she established to promote ethics development and education and will assume a part-time role in the city ethics agency during the transition. Miller helped write the first ethics code for local government. The city also established a confidential whistleblower hotline to give city employees and the public a means to report suspected unethical activity.
Georgia – Georgia State Democratic Lawmaker Arrested While Trying to Watch Gov. Kemp Sign Voting Bill
MSN – Amy Wang and Teo Armus (Washington Post) | Published: 3/26/2021
State Rep. Park Cannon was arrested after trying to watch Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp sign a controversial new voting bill into law in a heated interaction that was caught on video. Facebook Live video shows Cannon knocking on the door to Kemp’s office as he was holding a news conference inside about Senate Bill 202, a sweeping set of restrictions on how ballots are cast and counted in Georgia. A spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Public Safety confirmed Cannon was arrested for obstructing law enforcement and preventing or disrupting General Assembly sessions or other meetings of members.
Hawaii – Five Honolulu Planning Department Employees Indicted for Bribery
Honolulu Civil Beat – Christina Jedra | Published: 3/30/2021
Five current and former Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting employees are facing federal charges for allegedly accepting bribes. A local architect has also been indicted in connection with the alleged scheme. Wayne Inouye, a former building plans examiner, allegedly solicited and accepted gifts, payments, and other things of value several times in the last decade. In exchange, he rewarded those paying the bribes with favorable treatment including expediting permit approvals, according to the indictment. Inouye took steps to hide his criminal activity including by using a sole proprietorship, the indictment states. The other indictments follow the same pattern.
Illinois – Chicago-Based Marijuana Giant Part of Federal Pay-to-Play Investigation
MSN – Jason Meisner and Ray Long (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 3/29/2021
A Chicago-based marijuana cultivator and dispenser that has rapidly grown into one of the nation’s biggest cannabis firms is under federal investigation for possible “pay-to-play” violations during its push for state licenses, sources said. Investigators have been scrutinizing campaign donations and other steps Green Thumb Industries (GTI) took as it sought to secure growing and distribution licenses in Illinois and several other states. Illinois records show GTI’s executives and affiliates have donated to politicians and a PAC that were instrumental in the marijuana legalization effort. The company also hired a succession of lobbyists and consultants with ties to then-House Speaker Michael Madigan.
Illinois – Former State Sen. Annazette Collins Indicted on Federal Tax Charges Stemming from Her Lobbying Income
MSN – Jason Meisner and Ray Long (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 3/31/2021
Former Illinois Sen. Annazette Collins was indicted on federal charges alleging she underreported income and failed to file federal income tax returns for her lobbying and consulting firm. The indictment was the latest brought in connection with the ongoing federal corruption probe into an alleged bribery scheme by Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) to influence then-House Speaker Michael Madigan. Collins was one of a number of ex-lawmakers hired by ComEd after retiring from public office, though the indictment does not specifically mention her work for the utility.
Illinois – Longtime Political Operative for Ald. Edward Burke, Former State Sen. Martin Sandoval Charged with Deceiving FBI
MSN – Jason Meisner | Published: 3/29/2021
A precinct captain for indicted Chicago Ald. Edward Burke and aide to former state Sen. Martin Sandoval was charged with misleading the FBI in its political corruption investigation in Illinois. According to the charge, Rudy Acosta Jr. failed to disclose in interviews with agents benefits both he and Sandoval received from another person including “free services, meals, and travel.” The information also stated that when Acosta was questioned by the FBI on six separate occasions, he hid the fact that he made “periodic cash payments” to Sandoval.
Kentucky – KY Legislature Passes Last-Minute Bill That Shields Information of Public Officials
MSN – Daniel Desrochers (Lexington Herald-Leader) | Published: 3/30/2021
The Kentucky House quickly passed legislation that would allow any police officer, prosecutor, and some court employees – and anyone related to them – to shield a wide array of personal information from the public. At 11 p.m. on the second to last day of the session, a floor amendment was introduced to Senate Bill 48, which had been filed that day, ensuring the public could not read it before lawmakers voted. The amendment was later passed by the Senate. Because it passed in the final two days of the session, lawmakers will not have the ability to override any potential veto.
Maryland – U.S. Attorney’s Office and FBI Investigating Marilyn and Nick Mosby
Baltimore Magazine – Ron Cassie | Published: 3/26/2021
Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby and her husband, city council President Nick Mosby, are the subject of a federal investigation into her campaign finances and the couple’s business records and taxes. As part of the wide-ranging probe, the U.S. attorney’s office and the FBI have served several subpoenas seeking financial records related to the couple’s tax returns from 2014-2020, loan documents, bank and investment statements, credit card files, information related to their consulting and travel businesses, as well as copies of all campaign finance records related to Mosby’s campaign organization, the Friends of Marilyn Mosby.
Massachusetts – Judge Denies Bid by Senator, Wife to Block Officials from Referring Probe into Them to State Prosecutors
MSN – Matt Stout | Published: 3/30/2021
Suffolk Superior Court Judge Christine Roach denied a request from a state senator that she temporarily block campaign finance regulators from referring an investigation into him, his wife, and other family members to prosecutors. Roach also declined a request by state Sen. Ryan Fattman and others that the Office of Campaign and Political Finance provide them with “all” the evidence that Director Michael Sullivan has compiled against them. The judge wrote the Fattmans have “no reasonable likelihood of success” proving Sullivan violated state law by not turning over all the evidence, or he violated their due process by not recusing himself from the probe, as they have demanded.
Missouri – For Sexual Assault Survivors, Greitens’ Return Can Mean Fresh Trauma, Experts Say
McClatchyDC.com – Bryan Lowry and Jeanne Kuang | Published: 3/28/2021
Dee Ogilvy was sexually assaulted 42 years ago at her place of work. The police never made an arrest in the case and a shoulder injury from the attack still gives her pain. Ogilvy said she is disgusted to see former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens campaigning for a U.S. Senate seat less than three years after allegations of blackmail and sexual assault helped lead to his resignation. His return comes as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo defies calls for his resignation after allegations of sexual misconduct from at least 10 women.
Missouri – Former Missouri House Representative Gets 21 Months in Prison for Misusing Campaign Funds
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Robert Patrick | Published: 3/31/2021
Former Missouri Rep. Courtney Curtis was sentenced to 21 months in prison for misusing campaign funds for personal expenses and was ordered to repay $47,867. He filed false campaign finance reports to cover up his crimes. Before sentencing Curtis, the judge tallied up the 822 financial transactions representing misuse of campaign funds, including cash withdrawals in or near casinos.
Missouri – Missouri Curator Worried He’d Lose Seat If Didn’t ‘Play Ball’ with Controversial Lobbyist
Kansas City Star – Rudi Keller (Missouri Independent) | Published: 3/31/2021
University of Missouri Curator David Steelman raised objections that one of the system’s lobbyists, former House Speaker Steve Tilley, was using his connections to the university to seek business for other clients. Steelman called the arrangement “an obvious conflict,” and openly worried if he did not “play ball” he would lose his seat on the nine-member board that governs the university system. His term is expired, and he remains on the board until a replacement is confirmed by the Missouri Senate. Gov. Mike Parson nominated Keith Holloway for Steelman’s seat. Tilley, who both lobbies state government and provides campaign consulting services, has been paid $5,000 a month since February 2019 to lobby for the system.
New Mexico – New Mexico Lawmakers Snub Lobbying Transparency. In Other States, It’s Business as Usual.
New Mexico In Depth – Brian Metzger | Published: 3/26/2021
In a 2015 report, the Center for Public Integrity gave New Mexico a grade of “F” for lobbying disclosure, the 43rd worst in the country. It has not improved since then and lawmakers did not give the topic a full hearing during the 2021 legislative session. One argument made in opposition to increased disclosure is that it would be excessively burdensome for lobbyists. Another fear is greater disclosure will dampen public participation in the legislative process or harm a lobbyist’s effectiveness. But in the neighboring state of Colorado, the sort of transparency proposed for New Mexico is just business as usual.
New York – ‘Apprentice’ Contestant’s Lawsuit Against Trump Can Resume, N.Y. Court Says
MSN – Shayna Jacobs (Washington Post) | Published: 3/30/2021
The New York State Court of Appeals ruled a defamation case against former President Trump, brought by an “Apprentice” contestant who alleged he sexually assaulted her years ago, can go forward as the immunity claim he raised while in office no longer applies. The defense was raised in the lawsuit brought by Summer Zervos and in other long-running cases still facing Trump. Zervos alleges Trump, who hosted the popular reality show, smeared her when she came forward with the sexual assault allegation. In denying her claims, Trump said Zervos lied and suggested she was motivated by money.
New York – Bannon Criminal Probe in N.Y. Includes Embedded Investigators from State Attorney General’s Office
MSN – Shayna Jacobs (Washington Post) | Published: 3/26/2021
The New York attorney general’s office has partnered with Manhattan’s district attorney to investigate Stephen Bannon for the alleged fundraising scam that prompted his federal pardon in the waning hours of Donald Trump’s presidency, according to people familiar with the matter. The move adds prosecutorial firepower to a criminal case widely seen as an attempted end-run around the former president’s bid to protect a political ally. Attorney General Letitia James has built a reputation, in part, around her promises to hold Trump and his associates accountable for alleged misdeeds. Presidential pardons do not apply to state investigations.
New York – N.Y. State Sen. Brian Benjamin’s Campaign Expenses Raise Questions About Propriety
New York Daily News – Michael Gartland | Published: 3/28/2021
New York Sen. Brian Benjamin used money from his Senate campaign account to pay for “constituent services” at a Harlem jazz club at almost exactly the same time he and his wife held their wedding celebration there, raising questions about whether the lawmaker may have abused campaign finance rules. Benjamin is running for New York City comptroller. His campaign returned more than a dozen contributions after people listed as donors claimed they never gave to him.
New York – Seven Months Later, Cuomo Administration Divulges Details About His Covid-19 Book Deal
Buffalo News – Tom Precious | Published: 3/31/2021
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was given permission by the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) in July to write a book about his handling of state government during the first wave of Covid-19, as long as the subject matter of the book was “unrelated to the governor’s duties” in office, according to state documents. The New York Times reported Cuomo used top aides and junior staffers for help on his book project. JCOPE specifically told Cuomo he could not use state “personnel” or property “for activities associated with the book.”
North Dakota – Transparency Advocates Raise Concerns Over North Dakota Redistricting Plan
Grand Forks Herald – Jeremy Turley | Published: 3/26/2021
Later this year, a group of top North Dakota lawmakers will redraw the state’s political boundaries for the next decade. The exercise always attracts the attention of incumbent legislators and civically minded residents, but several transparency advocates worry the redistricting plan will be formed behind closed doors and without the public’s input. The Republican-backed bill to establish the legislative redistricting process states drafts of the redistricting plan are exempt from open records laws until they are presented to the full Legislature.
Ohio – Ohio Campaign-Finance Reform Bill Gets First Look Since Emergence of Dark Money Scandal
MSN – Andrew Tobias (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 3/25/2021
The Ohio House is taking up a bill that would impose tougher disclosure requirements on corporate political donors, a move to increase campaign finance transparency in the aftermath of the House Bill 6 scandal. House Bill 13 would require political nonprofits and other corporate groups to disclose their donors and spending with the Ohio secretary of state’s office, similar to PACs or candidates. Among the groups it would affect are 5019(c)4s, nonprofits often used as vehicles for “dark money” spending.
Ohio – Top Columbus Zoo Officials Resign Following Dispatch Investigation
MSN – Jennifer Smola and Alissa Widman Neese (Columbus Dispatch) | Published: 3/29/2021
Tom Stalf resigned as chief executive officer of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and Greg Bell stepped down as chief financial officer after a media investigation found they misused the zoo’s resources. They allowed relatives to live in houses owned or controlled by the zoo for below-market rent in exchange for the residents making improvements to the property. Stalf and Bell sought the use of the zoo’s suites and tickets to local entertainment venues for themselves and their family members. Most of the tickets requested were available through the zoo’s marketing contracts with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Ohio State University and were intended for hosting financial supporters of the zoo.
South Carolina – Former SC Governor, Congressman Sanford Joins Lobbying Firm
Associated Press News – Meg Kinnard | Published: 3/30/2021
Mark Sanford, the former South Carolina governor, member of Congress, and one-time presidential candidate, is going to work for a lobbying firm. Shumaker Advisors announced Sanford would be joining the firm as an executive vice president and principal. The government relations arm of a law firm, Shumaker Advisors operates seven offices in Ohio, Florida, Michigan, and the Carolinas. Sanford has been working to find a foothold since end of the most recent iteration of his political career. Sanford was elected twice as governor before an extramarital affair marred the end of his second term.
Texas – GOP Candidate from New Jersey Accused of Pandering After He Transforms into Cowboy for Texas Run
MSN – Meryl Kornfield (Washington Post) | Published: 3/28/2021
Dan Rodimer has led many lives, but his latest – a cowboy hat-wearing, Southern-drawling bull rider – might be the most extreme transformation to date. In his first ad as a candidate for Texas’s Sixth Congressional District, “Big Dan” Rodimer speaks in a gravelly, indistinct Southern accent, throws jabs at Democratic policies, and compares House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to a bull he is supposedly riding in the ad. But the New Jersey native did not have the twang last year when he ran for Congress in Nevada. He has remade himself again on a road he hopes will lead to Congress, though his latest persona has earned him ridicule, even from fellow Republicans.
Texas – Lawsuit Challenges Austin’s Fundraising Rules for Political Candidates
MSN – Ryan Autullo (Austin American-Statesman) | Published: 3/26/2021
A new federal lawsuit revives a challenge to city of Austin rules that prohibit candidates from accepting political contributions until one year before an election. Fundraising blackouts are designed to prevent corruption and the perception of wrongdoing by limiting the window individual donors and businesses are permitted to give money to elected officials. Unlike Texas lawmakers who are in session every other year, city council members meet year-round and regularly vote on matters that could be influenced by donors making financial promises.
Utah – Salt Lake County GOP Forms Ethics Committee in Response to Harassment Allegations
Salt Lake Tribune – Bryan Schott | Published: 3/30/2021
The Salt Lake County Republican Party is forming an ethics advisory committee in the wake of multiple women alleging leadership took no action to address their complaints of harassment and bullying. Former GOP Chairperson Scott Miller resigned in the wake of a Salt Lake Tribune story about complaints he did nothing to stop inappropriate behavior by his communications director, Dave Robinson, during his tenure at the helm of the party. Miller also sent out an email to Republican delegates denigrating the women who came forward with allegations, questioning their motives. Miller later apologized in the face of widespread condemnation.
Washington – Don Benton, Ex-Washington State Senator and Trump Ally, Behind Mystery Mailer
Seattle Times – Joseph O’Sullivan | Published: 3/31/2021
Former Washington Sen. Don Benton, who served in the Trump administration, is responsible for a recent mailer that criticizes Democratic lawmakers for a proposed change to the state’s estate tax. State law requires a sponsor to be listed on campaign mailers. But that is not necessary for communications known as grassroots lobbying, which focus instead on the debate over legislative proposals. In that case, the citizen complaints alleging a lack of disclosure information might not apply.
April 1, 2021 •
I am pleased to share the news State and Federal Communications has acquired the lobbying compliance reporting business of MER Consulting Services, LLC, from its owner and founder, Mary Roche. MER has been a fixture in Massachusetts lobbying compliance reporting […]
I am pleased to share the news State and Federal Communications has acquired the lobbying compliance reporting business of MER Consulting Services, LLC, from its owner and founder, Mary Roche.
MER has been a fixture in Massachusetts lobbying compliance reporting and consulting, having served local organizations and leading companies in the state since 2001. She has had a very successful career in this field.
This move allows Mary to wind down her career, while ensuring a solid transition for her clients to continue receiving professional and thorough political reporting and lobbying consulting services, plus additional support from our larger research and compliance staffs.
Mary will stay on with State and Federal Communications as a consultant in the year ahead as the transition takes place to ensure clients’ reporting needs are adequately served.
I personally am enthused about this development! It will allow State and Federal Communications to continue to grow our business by doing what we do best…providing top-tier and trusted political compliance services. It is a positive endorsement Mary has put her faith in our capabilities to take care of the lobbying compliance reporting needs of her Massachusetts clients.
For the full story, please read the media press release announcement.
April 1, 2021 •
Campaign Finance National: “GOP Donors Are Hobnobbing in Person Again; Dems Are Sticking to Zoom” by Theodoric Meyer and Susannah Luthi for Politico Missouri: “Former Missouri House Representative Gets 21 Months in Prison for Misusing Campaign Funds” by Robert Patrick […]
National: “GOP Donors Are Hobnobbing in Person Again; Dems Are Sticking to Zoom” by Theodoric Meyer and Susannah Luthi for Politico
Missouri: “Former Missouri House Representative Gets 21 Months in Prison for Misusing Campaign Funds” by Robert Patrick for St. Louis Post-Dispatch
National: “Court Voids Trump Campaign’s Non-Disclosure Agreement” by Josh Gerstein for Politico
National: “Ethics Upholds Gohmert’s $5,000 Metal Detector Fine” by Cristina Marcos for The Hill
Hawaii: “Five Honolulu Planning Department Employees Indicted for Bribery” by Christina Jedra for Honolulu Civil Beat
Kentucky: “KY Legislature Passes Last-Minute Bill That Shields Information of Public Officials” by Daniel Desrochers (Lexington Herald-Leader) for MSN
Missouri: “For Sexual Assault Survivors, Greitens’ Return Can Mean Fresh Trauma, Experts Say” by Bryan Lowry and Jeanne Kuang for McClatchyDC.com
New York: “As Cuomo Sought $4 Million Book Deal, Aides Hid Damaging Death Toll” by Jesse McKinley, Danny Hakim, and Alexandra Alter for New York Times
National: “Business Groups Rethinking Value of In-Person Lobbying” by Alex Gangitano for The Hill
Illinois: “Former State Sen. Annazette Collins Indicted on Federal Tax Charges Stemming from Her Lobbying Income” by Jason Meisner and Ray Long (Chicago Tribune) for MSN
March 31, 2021 •
Campaign Finance Illinois: “Chicago-Based Marijuana Giant Part of Federal Pay-to-Play Investigation” by Jason Meisner and Ray Long (Chicago Tribune) for MSN Elections Arizona: “Mark Finchem Sought to Overturn the Presidential Race. Now He Wants to Run Arizona’s Elections” by Andrew […]
Illinois: “Chicago-Based Marijuana Giant Part of Federal Pay-to-Play Investigation” by Jason Meisner and Ray Long (Chicago Tribune) for MSN
Arizona: “Mark Finchem Sought to Overturn the Presidential Race. Now He Wants to Run Arizona’s Elections” by Andrew Oxfors (Arizona Republic) for MSN
National: “Matt Gaetz Under Investigation Over Possible Sex Trafficking” by Michael Schmidt, Katie Benner, and Nicholas Fandos (New York Times) for MSN
Florida: “Carla Miller Retiring from City Ethics Office” by Max Marbut for Jacksonville Daily Record
Illinois: “Longtime Political Operative for Ald. Edward Burke, Former State Sen. Martin Sandoval Charged with Deceiving FBI” by Jason Meisner for MSN
New York: “New Accounts Detail How New York Health Officials Were Told to Prioritize Coronavirus Testing of People Connected to Andrew Cuomo” by Amy Brittain, Josh Dawsey, and Sarah Ellison (Washington Post) for MSN
Ohio: “Top Columbus Zoo Officials Resign Following Dispatch Investigation” by Jennifer Smola and Alissa Widman Neese (Columbus Dispatch) for MSN
Europe: “Cameron ‘Blocked Rule Change’ That Left ‘Open Door’ for Him to Lobby for Greensill” by Kayleena Makortoff (Guardian) for MSN
South Carolina: “Former SC Governor, Congressman Sanford Joins Lobbying Firm” by Meg Kinnard for Associated Press News
March 30, 2021 •
Campaign Finance National: “Trump Helped the GOP Raise $2 Billion. Now Former Aides and Allies Are Jockeying to Tap into His Fundraising Power.” by Josh Dawsey, Ashley Parker, Michael Scherer, and Anu Narayanswamy (Washington Post) for MSN Massachusetts: “State Officials […]
National: “Trump Helped the GOP Raise $2 Billion. Now Former Aides and Allies Are Jockeying to Tap into His Fundraising Power.” by Josh Dawsey, Ashley Parker, Michael Scherer, and Anu Narayanswamy (Washington Post) for MSN
Massachusetts: “State Officials Are Investigating Senator, Wife for Potential Campaign Finance Violations” by Matt Sout (Boston Globe) for MSN
New York: “N.Y. State Sen. Brian Benjamin’s Campaign Expenses Raise Questions About Propriety” by Michael Gartland for New York Daily News
National: “Corporations, Vocal About Racial Justice, Go Quiet on Voting Rights” by David Gelles for New York Times
California: “How California’s Recall Rules Could Spell Trouble for Gavin Newsom” by Ben Christopher (CALmatters) for San Jose Mercury News
Texas: “GOP Candidate from New Jersey Accused of Pandering After He Transforms into Cowboy for Texas Run” by Meryl Kornfield for MSN
Maryland: “U.S. Attorney’s Office and FBI Investigating Marilyn and Nick Mosby” by Ron Cassie for Baltimore Magazine
National: “NRA Faces Internal Woes as It Girds for New Gun Control Fight” by Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) for MSN
North Dakota: “Transparency Advocates Raise Concerns Over North Dakota Redistricting Plan” by Jeremy Turley for Grand Forks Herald
March 29, 2021 •
Campaign Finance National: “FEC Greenlights Campaign Spending for Bodyguards” by Daniel Payne for Politico Ohio: “Ohio Campaign-Finance Reform Bill Gets First Look Since Emergence of Dark Money Scandal” by Andrew Tobias (Cleveland Plain Dealer) for MSN Texas: “Lawsuit Challenges Austin’s […]
National: “FEC Greenlights Campaign Spending for Bodyguards” by Daniel Payne for Politico
Ohio: “Ohio Campaign-Finance Reform Bill Gets First Look Since Emergence of Dark Money Scandal” by Andrew Tobias (Cleveland Plain Dealer) for MSN
Texas: “Lawsuit Challenges Austin’s Fundraising Rules for Political Candidates” by Ryan Autullo (Austin American-Statesman) for MSN
National: “Dominion Voting Sues Fox for $1.6B Over 2020 Election Claims” by Colleen Long for Associated Press News
Georgia: “Georgia State Democratic Lawmaker Arrested While Trying to Watch Gov. Kemp Sign Voting Bill” by Amy Wang and Teo Armus (Washington Post) for MSN
New York: “Bannon Criminal Probe in N.Y. Includes Embedded Investigators from State Attorney General’s Office” by Shayna Jacobs (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “No ‘Dreamers’ Allowed: DACA recipients still can’t work for Congress” by Jim Saska (Roll Call) for MSN
New Mexico: “New Mexico Lawmakers Snub Lobbying Transparency. In Other States, It’s Business as Usual.” by Brian Metzger for New Mexico In Depth
March 26, 2021 •
National/Federal Congressional Fundraisers Lobby Corporations That Suspended Political Donations Following Capitol Riot MSN – Brian Schwartz (CNBC) | Published: 3/19/2021 Fundraisers for congressional candidates and party campaign arms have been lobbying corporations to resume donating after many suspended their political contributions. […]
Congressional Fundraisers Lobby Corporations That Suspended Political Donations Following Capitol Riot
MSN – Brian Schwartz (CNBC) | Published: 3/19/2021
Fundraisers for congressional candidates and party campaign arms have been lobbying corporations to resume donating after many suspended their political contributions. Dozens of corporations at least temporarily paused donations from their PACs after the January 6 Capitol Hill riot that led to at least five deaths. That day, more than 145 Republican lawmakers, encouraged by then-President Trump, voted to dispute the results of the Electoral College certifying Joe Biden as the next president. Most companies have since said they are reviewing their PACs’ policies on who they give to in the future.
Court Reinstates Guilty Verdicts Against Flynn Partner Over Turkey Lobbying
Politico – Josh Gerstein | Published: 3/17/2021
A federal appeals court reinstated a jury’s guilty verdicts on the business partner of former Trump administration national security adviser Michael Flynn over the pair’s lobbying for Turkish interests during the 2016 presidential campaign. A three-judge panel of the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a judge’s ruling last year tossing out the guilty verdicts against Bijan Rafiekian, a businessperson who worked with Flynn on a lobbying and public relations campaign targeting a longtime opponent of the Turkish government, Fethullah Gulen. Judge James Wynn acknowledged the evidence against Rafiekian was far from overwhelming, but said jurors were free to convict the defendant based on circumstantial evidence and inferences.
David Cameron to Be Investigated by Lobbying Body
BBC – Staff | Published: 3/24/2021
Former United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron is being investigated by a lobbying watchdog after reports he contacted government officials on behalf of financial services company Greensill Capital. The Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists said it was looking into whether he had done unregistered consultant lobbying. A source close to Cameron said he was exempt from the register as he had been an in-house employee. The contact is said to have taken place after Cameron was prime minister.
HUD Secretary May Have Violated Ethics Law by Championing Democrats in Ohio Senate Race at White House
MSN – Tyler Pager (Washington Post) | Published: 3/20/2021
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge, a former member of Congress from Cleveland, may have violated the Hatch Act at the White House when discussing the 2022 U.S, Senate race in Ohio and promoting Democrats’ chances to win the seat, experts said. Fudge answered a question about the race for the seat of retiring Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio). “… I think we’re going to put a good person in that race no matter who we choose …,” Fudge said. “I think we have a good shot at it. I know people have written off Ohio. I haven’’ written off Ohio. I believe we can win the Senate race.” The Hatch Act prohibits executive branch officials from engaging in political campaigns and related activities in an official capacity.
Intern Pay Was Supposed to Boost Diversity in Congress. Most of the Money Went to White Students
MSN – Jim Saska (Roll Call) | Published: 3/22/2021
Pay Our Interns pushed lawmakers until they agreed to allocate $20,000 to each House office and about $50,000 to each Senate office annually for intern pay, starting in 2019. It would go a long way toward closing the intern diversity gap, hoped Carlos Mark Vera, founder of the group. Instead, the people getting paid internships were overwhelmingly white, 76 percent white, compared to just 52 percent of the national undergraduate population. Black and Latino students were underrepresented, comprising 15 percent and 20 percent of undergraduates nationally but roughly seven percent and eight percent of paid Capitol Hill interns. While interns rarely have much impact on lawmaking, they often go on to more important positions that can affect legislation.
Lobbyists See Biden’s Infrastructure Package as Windfall
The Hill – Alex Gangitano | Published: 3/23/2021
A massive White House spending proposal on infrastructure and other domestic priorities is setting the stage for a potential lobbying blitz on Capitol Hill, particularly as more lawmakers embrace a return to earmarks. Lobbying shops on K Street are eager to take on clients who would be competing for new government funding in the legislation expected to hit $3 trillion, and lobbyists on both sides of the aisle are excited about earmarks opening up new avenues of advocacy. Watchdog groups are excited about the legislation to deal with infrastructure, climate change, and global vaccine gaps, among other areas. But they are concerned corporate lobbyists could influence it beyond its intended scope.
Many House Members Averse to Cooperating with OCE, Study Shows
MSN – Chris Marquette (Roll Call) | Published: 3/17/2021
More than a third of U.S. House members investigated by the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) refused to fully cooperate with the probes since the office started investigating lawmakers in 2009. The Campaign Legal Center’s report shows that except for the 113th Congress, member cooperation has steadily declined. Unlike the House Committee on Ethics, the OCE lacks subpoena power and cannot issue sanctions. When members choose not to sit for OCE interviews or produce certain documents, the office is forced to complete its fact-gathering process without that information.
Rep. Tom Reed Apologizes for Sexual Misconduct Detailed in Post Report, Won’t Challenge Cuomo in 2022
MSN – Beth Reinhard (Washington Post) | Published: 3/21/2021
Days after a former lobbyist accused him of sexual misconduct, U.S. Rep. Tom Reed publicly apologized, vowed not to seek reelection, and abandoned a possible run against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Reed said in a statement that he was “struggling” in early 2017, when the incident occurred, and entered treatment for alcohol abuse that year. Reed recently has been weighing a bid to unseat Cuomo and had called for the governor to be impeached amid allegations he sexually harassed multiple women, mostly state employees. Since he was elected to Congress in 2010, Reed has cast himself as a champion of women’s rights.
Senators Turn to Democrats’ Overhaul of Elections and Ethics
MSN – Kate Ackley (Roll Call) | Published: 3/24/2021
As outside groups ramped up multimillion-dollar campaigns for and against it, U.S. senators took their first formal look at Democrats’ symbolic top-priority bill, a nearly 800-page overhaul of election, campaign finance, and government ethics laws. The bill’s fate may come down to U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin’ He is the lone Democrat in the 50-50 chamber who has not yet embraced the legislation, dubbed S1 and HR1, even though he signed on as a co-sponsor when the Senate was in GOP control in the last Congress and the bill had no chance of passing. Manchin told reporters the legislation “might divide us even further on a partisan basis” but indicated he supported some provisions.
Several of Biden’s Top White House Aides Aren’t Required to Disclose Personal Finances
Yahoo News – Soo Rin Kim and Libby Cathy (ABC News) | Published: 3/23/2021
Some of President Joe Biden’s top aides in the White House, including advisers overseeing the administration’s coronavirus response and vaccine operation, have not publicly disclosed their personal finances. Senior White House adviser Anita Dunn, deputy coronavirus response coordinator Andy Slavitt, and coronavirus vaccine coordinator Bechara Choucair are not required to file public financial disclosure reports that would reveal their past employment, source of income, personal assets and liabilities, due to the temporary nature of their positions or because they are paid below the reporting threshold, a White House official said.
Trump Faces an Onslaught of Legal Problems, as Investigations and Dozens of Lawsuits Trail Him from Washington to Florida
MSN – David Fahenthold, Amy Gardner, Shayna Jacobs, and Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 3/18/2021
A district attorney is sifting through millions of pages of former President Trump’s tax records. The state attorney general has subpoenaed his lawyers, his bankers, his chief financial officer, and even one of his sons. That is just in New York. Trump is also facing criminal investigations in Georgia and the District of Columbia related to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. He must defend himself against a growing raft of lawsuits, including some seeking damages from Trump’s actions on January 6, when he encouraged a march to the Capitol that ended in a mob storming the building. The volume of these legal problems indicates that after a moment of maximum invincibility in the White House, Trump has fallen to a point of historic vulnerability before the law.
Trump Officials Hindered at Least Nine Key Oversight Probes, Watchdogs Said. Some May Finally Be Released in Coming Months.
MSN – Lisa Rein, Tom Hamburger, Michael Laris, and John Hudson (Washington Post) | Published: 3/22/2021
Politically sensitive work by government watchdogs, mandated by Congress to monitor federal agencies for waste, fraud, and misconduct, faced roadblocks or otherwise were dragged out during the Trump era. Across the government, at least nine key oversight investigations were impeded by clashes with the White House or political appointees. Tensions between federal watchdogs and the administration they monitor are not uncommon. But 11 inspectors general or their senior aides who served under Trump said hostility to oversight reached unprecedented levels during his time in office.
Widows Describe What It’s Like Running for Congress
MSN – Paul Fontello (Roll Call) | Published: 3/19/2021
Julia Letlow’s husband, U.S. Rep.-elect Luke Letlow, died of COVID-19 complications five days before he could be sworn in for the start of the new Congress. Now, Julia Letlow could join a small group of lawmakers in congressional history who succeeded their deceased spouses. According to Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics, 47 women have been appointed or elected to fill vacancies in Congress created when their husbands died. A century ago, that was a key path for women entering politics, according to Debbie Walsh, the center’s director. Widows were seen as dutiful rather than threatening, which helped them break the gender barrier.
Canada – Former Ambassador MacNaughton Did Not Violate Lobbying Act: Commissioner
Yahoo News – Canadian Press | Published: 3/23/2021
Canada’s former ambassador to the United States has been cleared of illegally lobbying federal government officials. Lobbying Commissioner Nancy Bélanger said David MacNaughton did not violate the Lobbying Act last year when he had dozens of communications with senior officials about government policy and its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Bélanger said MacNaughton had 49 communications with federal officials and offered the pro bono services of his current employer, Palantir Technologies Canada, in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Because those communications were short and did not constitute a “significant part” of his work for Palantir, Bélanger said they did not violate the law.
From the States and Municipalities
California – L.A. to Pay Out $150,000 Over Lawsuit by Former Aide to Jose Huizar
MSN – Emily Alpert Reyes (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 3/24/2021
Los Angeles will pay up to $150,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by a former aide who alleged he was fired after speaking up about possible crimes committed by then-city Councilperson Jose Huizar. The decision marks the third payout made by the city to settle retaliation suits filed by former staffers for Huizar, who is now facing federal charges that include bribery, racketeering, and money laundering. The settlement involving former staffer Jesse Leon brings the city’s total tab for such lawsuits to $350,000.
Colorado – Aurora Lawmakers Sold on Lobbyist Reform, Delivery Fee Caps and Tax-Free Menstrual Products
Sentinel Colorado – Grant Stringer | Published: 3/22/2021
Aurora lawmakers finalized tighter rules on lobbying disclosures. Lobbyists will have to frequently disclose their activities in public reports. The law will create a public record of lobbyists attempting to sway the city’s decision-making targets. City council members, city staff, commission members and zoning officials who speak with them will also have to disclose activities with lobbyists.
Colorado – In Record Year for Colorado Campaign Finance Complaints, Republicans Cry Foul Over Enforcement
Colorado Sun – Sandra Fish | Published: 3/24/2021
Republicans are crying foul over campaign finance decisions by a deputy secretary of state who rejected recommendations by the Campaign Finance Enforcement team organized a year ago by Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat. A record number of complaints were filed in 2020 along with the second highest fine issued in recent years. But it is possible the system created in 2019 could be tested, as some Republicans challenge the claims filed against them. In at least two instances, the office’s Campaign Finance Enforcement team recommended dismissing complaints, but the deputy secretary of state reversed the recommendations.
Connecticut – Ex-GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Steve Obsitnik Fined $90,000 by Election Enforcement Agency for 2018 Campaign Financing Irregularities
MSN – Jon Lender (Hartford Courant) | Published: 3/18/2021
Connecticut election regulators on fined former gubernatorial candidate Steve Obsitnik $90,000 over allegations he illegally coordinated with an independent expenditure committee created to help his failed 2018 campaign. The State Elections Enforcement Commission also alleged he failed to register his candidate committee within 10 days of declaring a run for governor. State Rep. Jason Perillo was fined $10,000 over allegations he made a “disallowed” contribution to Obsitnik’s campaign and helped coordinate with the independent expenditure committee.
Florida – ‘A Cloud of Corruption’: Democrats want DOJ probe of Florida state Senate races
Miami Herald – Alex Daugherty and Samantha Gross | Published: 3/25/2021
A week after former state Sen. Frank Artiles was arrested on felony charges of offering no-party candidate Alexis Rodriguez $50,000 to run as an independent in a South Florida state Senate race, Florida’s Democrats in Congress are asking U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland for a corruption investigation. The lawmakers argued the potential illicit transfer of campaign funds across state lines warrants scrutiny from the federal government. Political committees used money from a “dark money” group to pay for the ads that touted independent candidates, which included language that mimicked Democrats’ platforms and seemed designed to confuse voters, the members of Congress wrote to Garland.
Georgia – Female Lawmakers in Georgia File Sexual Harassment Complaint After Lewd Comments
Courthouse News Service – Aimee Sachs | Published: 3/17/2021
Female lawmakers in the Georgia House filed a sexual harassment complaint to the ethics committee after a male colleague made an inappropriate comment. During a debate on legislation about outgoing surgery sedation, Rep. Kasey Carpenter made what he later said was intended to be a joke about rapper Cardi B’s buttocks. For at least a dozen of the House women, Carpenter’s comment was not only inappropriate and offensive but a reflection of a culture of toxic masculinity in the Capitol they are fed up with.
Georgia – Georgia Bill for New Leadership Money Heads to Governor
Associated Press News – Staff | Published: 3/18/2021
Georgia lawmakers passed a bill that would allow for the creation of new “leadership committees” that could raise campaign funds without limits and coordinate directly with individual candidates, including during a legislative session. It would allow for committees controlled by the governor, lieutenant governor, a political party’s nominee for governor or lieutenant governor, and by the Republican and Democratic caucuses in the state House and Senate. Democrats argued the bill will lead to more money interests being injected into state politics, while Republicans said the bill gives both parties equal opportunity to generate campaign funds.
Hawaii – The Hawaii Capitol Is Closed to The Public, But Some Lobbyists Still Have Entrée
Honolulu Civil Beat – Blaze Lovell | Published: 3/24/2021
The public has been barred from entering the Capitol since March 2020, when Hawaii Sen. Clarence Nishihara tested positive for COVID-19 after a trip to Las Vegas. At the start of the 2021 legislative session, constituents were again banned from entering the Capitol and visiting offices and committee rooms. Instead, they testified remotely to legislative committees. But some individuals, including registered lobbyists, have been able to gain an audience with lawmakers in their offices after scheduling appointments.
Illinois – Executive Resigns from Hospital That Offered Early Vaccines to Employees at Trump’s Chicago Hotel
MSN – David Fahrenthold (Washington Post) | Published: 3/24/2021
The chief operating officer of a small Chicago hospital resigned after reports he used coronavirus vaccines meant for low-income residents to vaccinate employees at his luxury wristwatch dealer, his regular steakhouse, and his condominium building, which is former President Trump’s Chicago tower. Anosh Ahmed’s actions had raised concerns that Loretto Hospital executives were putting their friends ahead of their patients. The city of Chicago had already cut off Loretto’s supply of new vaccines while it investigated.
Kentucky – Second Person Charged with Lying to Jury, FBI in Case Connected to Lexington Council
Lexington Herald-Leader – Beth Musgrave | Published: 3/19/2021
Jeffrey Collins was indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly lying to federal investigators and a jury about campaign contributions to Lexington City Council members. Collins, a then-employee of CRM Companies, faces two counts related to a $1,000 contribution he gave during the May 2018 council primaries. The lies allegedly occurred during the investigation and trial of former real estate executive Timothy Wellman, who worked for CRM Companies. No allegations of wrongdoing were made against council members.
Maryland – Complaints Filed About Maryland Lawmaker Who Tuned into Legislative Meetings from the Operating Room
MSN – Pamela Wood (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 3/23/2021
A Maryland lawmaker who is also a surgeon twice tuned into General Assembly committee meetings from an operating room during a legislative session in which many hearings and votes have been held online because of the coronavirus pandemic. When Del. Terri Hill’s Zoom account was logged into a meeting of the Health and Government Operations Committee for about an hour, it showed multiple gowned and masked figures moving about, with sets of operating room lights visible on the screen. Hill defended the practice as not much different from listening to music or a recorded book while in the operating room. Complaints have been filed against Hill with the state Board of Physicians and the General Assembly’s ethics committee.
Maryland – Following Monthly Exposé, Maryland House Passes Bill Targeting Hogan’s Business Dealings
Washington Monthly – Eric Cortellessa | Published: 3/18/2021
The Maryland House passed a bill to reform state ethics law, following a news story about Gov. Larry Hogan’s advancing road and highway projects near properties his company owns, which can boost the value of those properties. Hogan dismissed he report as a “blog thing,” but the story was cited by proponents of the new bill. The legislation would tighten disclosure laws by requiring the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, treasurer, and any agency head to notify state ethics officials and members of the General Assembly whenever they face a decision in which they or a relative have a monetary interest. It would also require all elected officials to reveal more information about businesses in which they have a stake.
Missouri – St. Charles County Lawmaker Wants to Impose Tough Ethics Rules – on St. Louis City Elected Officials
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Kurt Erickson | Published: 3/22/2021
A ranking member of the Missouri House wants to impose tougher ethics rules on officials in St. Louis. Rep. John Wiemann, the speaker pro tem, says just as state officials are barred from receiving gifts and must wait two years to begin lobbying their former colleagues, city officials also should face limits. Under changes in the state constitution approved by voters, lobbyists are banned from giving out gifts or meals to state lawmakers worth more than five dollars. But that prohibition did not include mayors, city council members, and other local officials.
Montana – Montana’s Governor Broke Rules to Kill a Yellowstone Wolf. A State Agency Gave Him a Warning.
Yahoo News – Erin Snodgrass (Business Insider) | Published: 3/23/2021
Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte was let off with a warning for defying a state regulation before trapping and killing a Yellowstone wolf near the national park in February. Though wolves inside Yellowstone are protected from hunters, Montana law does allow for the trapping and hunting of wolves in other parts of the state, including those that wander out of the park’s boundaries. But Gianforte harvested the wolf without having completed a state-mandated wolf trapping certification course.
Nevada – Ex-Lawmaker Charged with Misusing Funds, False Records
Associated Press News – Michele Price | Published: 3/19/2021
The Nevada attorney general’s office charged former state Rep. Alex Assefa of misusing campaign funds and filing false voter registration and campaign finance records. Prosecutors filed 14 charges against Assefa, who before resigning in January in the wake of reports he was under investigation related to his finances and whether he lived in the legislative district he represented. Prosecutors alleged Assefa lied about his residence on voter registration forms, filed false campaign finance reports, and misappropriated at least $11,150 in campaign funds.
Nevada – Lobbyists Must Register, Report; Still Can’t Enter Legislature
This Is Reno – Jerri Davis | Published: 3/19/2021
Assembly Bill 110, which addresses lobbying the Capitol during the pandemic, was signed into law by Gov. Steve Sisolak. Lobbyists have not been allowed inside the legislative building.at all this session, which began February 1. Nevada law previously required lobbyists to register only if they were conducting business in-person. Under the bill, lobbyists can now register online. They will need to file reports on their activity since the start of the session.
New Jersey – Former Candidate Tied to N.J. Corruption Case Gets Probation Over $10K Campaign Contribution
Newark Star Ledger – Ted Sherman (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 3/18/2021
A former Morris County freeholder candidate tied to an ongoing New Jersey “pay-to-play” investigation was sentenced to probation over campaign contribution she took from a tax attorney who allegedly had been looking to lock-down lucrative municipal contracts. Mary Dougherty, the wife of the current mayor of Morristown, originally was charged with bribery, but pleaded guilty to reduced charges in February of falsifying a campaign finance report. The plea means she will not face prison. She was also required to forfeit the $10,000 contribution.
New Mexico – Lobbyist Caught Swearing During Virtual Senate Finance Committee Meeting
KRQE – Brady Wakayama | Published: 3/21/2021
Virtual meetings are now common during the pandemic and there are stories of people forgetting to mute themselves at the wrong time. That is exactly what happened recently at the New Mexico Legislature. The hot mic incident happened as lawmakers were discussing a tax reform package. It would expand a tax credit for low-income workers and expands the low-income comprehensive tax rebate. “I got legislative sessions going and these b****es are trying to throw taxes on us,” said one business lobbyist attending a virtual Senate Finance Committee meeting.
New York – Andrew Cuomo’s Family Members Were Given Special Access to Covid Testing, According to People Familiar with the Arrangement
MSN – Josh Dawsey, Amy Brittain, and Sarah Ellison (Washington Post) | Published: 3/24/2021
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration arranged special access to government-run coronavirus testing for members of his family and other well-connected people as the pandemic hit New York last year, according to three people with direct knowledge of the effort. As part of the program, a state lab immediately processed the results of those who were tested, the people said, even as average New Yorkers were struggling to get tested in the early days of the pandemic because of a scarcity of resources. New York law prohibits state officials from using their positions to secure privileges for themselves or others.
New York – Cuomo Ethics Commissioners Block Subpoena to Governor’s Office
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 3/23/2021
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s appointees to the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) blocked a subpoena seeking information about the unpaid volunteers playing an outsized role in the COVID-19 response. If issued, the proposed subpoena would have sought information about which volunteers aiding Cuomo have been exempted from normal ethics rules under executive orders issued by the governor. The subpoena also would have sought information about whether those volunteers ever recused themselves from governmental matters that posed potential conflicts-of-interest with their day jobs.
Ohio – Florida Authorities Say Columbus Lobbyist’s Death an Apparent Suicide
Cleveland Plain Dealer – Andrew Tobias | Published: 3/17/2021
Police believe a longtime Ohio lobbyist charged in connection with the House Bill 6 probe took his own life. Michelle Batten, a spokesperson for the Collier County sheriff’s office in Florida, said investigators do not suspect foul play was involved in Neil Clark’s death. Prosecutors say Clark played a role in a $61 million bribery scheme, funded by FirstEnergy and its affiliates, to pass the bill that bailed out two power plants owned by a former FirstEnergy subsidiary.
Ohio – Nursing Home Association Gave $135,000 to Dark Money Group Indicted in Ohio Bribery Case
MSN – Jake Zuckerman (Ohio Capital Journal) | Published: 3/22/2021
An entity representing Ohio’s nursing home industry contributed at least $135,000 to a “dark money” group that has pleaded guilty to its role in an alleged racketeering scheme involving former House Speaker Larry Householder. The nonprofit 501(c)(4) entity, 55 Green Meadows, is affiliated with the Ohio Health Care Association. In 2017 and 2018, 55 Green Meadows, donated the money to Generation Now, group that prosecutors say Householder secretly controlled. Both these nonprofit entities, known as “social welfare” organizations under federal tax law, can legally spend unlimited sums influencing politics so long as this is not the organization’s “primary activity.”
South Carolina – An SC Councilman’s Company Did Work for His City for Years. No One Asked Questions.
Charleston Post and Courier – Stephen Hobbs and Thad Moore | Published: 3/20/2021
Every year, elected officials in South Carolina flood the State Ethics Commission with paperwork intended to reveal potential conflicts-of-interest. But for more than a decade, a medical practice owned by Dillon’s current acting mayor, Dr. Phil Wallace, made money from the city and he never disclosed it. The relationship was hardly a secret. Wallace’s medical practice had a list of clients on its website and “Historic City of Dillon, S.C.” was at the top of the list. The case shows how in South Carolina, clear entanglements can fall through the cracks.
South Carolina – SC AG Alan Wilson’s Office Gives Public Corruption Cases to Upstate Prosecutor
MSN – John Monk (The State) | Published: 3/18/2021
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson’s office will give four high-profile cases involving alleged public corruption by three former state lawmakers and a political consultant to a state prosecutor. The charges against Richard Quinn Sr. and the lawmakers that will now be handled by Seventh Circuit Solicitor Barry Barnette stem from special prosecutor David Pascoe’s investigation into statehouse corruption. In January, after state Supreme Court decision in one of Pascoe’s corruption cases placed limits on Pascoe’s authority, he turned over his pending cases in his investigation to Wilson for disposal.
Texas – Texas’s Chief Energy Regulator Fiercely Defended Fossil Fuels After Historic Blackouts. She Also Profits from Oil and Gas.
MSN – Neena Santija and Aaron Gregg (Washington Post) | Published: 3/19/2021
Christi Craddick, who chairs a commission overseeing the oil and gas industry in Texas, defended said natural gas producers were not responsible for the widespread powers outages the state suffered in the wake of a recent winter storm. Craddick and her father, a well-known state representative who sits on two committees overseeing oil and gas, have direct financial ties to that industry, including with some of the same gas-producing companies that have admitted to shutdowns of their own facilities during the storm. Critics say the ownership stakes reflect a conflict of interest for the Craddicks and exemplify a major ethics loophole in Texas, where regulators can have financial interests in the companies they oversee.
Vermont – Zoom Boom: Will Statehouse livestreaming continue when lawmakers return?
VTDigger.org – Kit Norton | Published: 3/22/2021
Before the coronavirus pandemic shut down the statehouse last year in Vermont, legislative committee meetings were relatively difficult for the public to access. They were taped for posterity, but recordings were hard to come by. Only House and Senate floor proceedings were available via livestream, courtesy of Vermont Public Radio. In the year since, lawmakers have grown accustomed to conducting business and members of the public, the press, and lobbyists have grown accustomed to accessing video of those proceedings on YouTube. Now, the Senate is considering legislation that could make Statehouse business available to the public even after the pandemic is over.
Washington DC – ‘It’s Not a Local Issue Anymore’: D.C. statehood moves from political fringe to the center of the national Democratic agenda
MSN – Mike DeBonis and Meagan Flynn (Washington Post) | Published: 3/20/2021
With Joe Biden as president, a Democratic majority in Congress behind him, and a fast-evolving political landscape has propelled District of Columbia statehood up the Democratic priority list after it passed the U.S. House for the first time last year. The jolt of momentum stems in part from an increasingly urgent desire among Democrats to act while they have power to erode what they see as Republican structural advantages in the nation’s democracy, including the Senate. Statehood would probably result in two additional Democratic senators, shifting the dynamic in a chamber where members from conservative, rural states can wield disproportionate influence over legislation, federal courts, and presidential nominations.
Wisconsin – Bill Would Require Legislators and Their Staff to Stop Deleting Public Records
Wisconsin Examiner – Melanie Conklin | Published: 3/18/2021
The Wisconsin Legislature is required to respond to open records request, just as any other government entity in the state. But in its own statutes, the body gives itself a major pass that allows its records such as emails and correspondence, and therefore its actions, to be shielded from the public. Legislators and staff may simply delete or throw out the records. Unlike other governmental entities, there is no requirement that they save records, prior to those documents being requested via an open-records request.
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