May 20, 2022 •
National/Federal A Fringe Conspiracy Theory, Fostered Online, Is Refashioned by the GOP Hartford Courant – Nicholas Confessore and Karen Yourish (New York Times) | Published: 5/16/2022 At the extremes of American life, replacement theory – the notion that Western elites, sometimes […]
A Fringe Conspiracy Theory, Fostered Online, Is Refashioned by the GOP
Hartford Courant – Nicholas Confessore and Karen Yourish (New York Times) | Published: 5/16/2022
At the extremes of American life, replacement theory – the notion that Western elites, sometimes manipulated by Jews, want to “replace” and disempower white Americans – has become an engine of racist terror, helping inspire a wave of mass shootings in recent years. But replacement theory, once confined to Reddit message boards and semi-obscure white nationalist sites, has gone mainstream. In sometimes more muted forms, the fear it crystallizes of a future America in which white people are no longer the numerical majority has become a potent force in conservative media and politics, where the theory has been borrowed and remixed to attract audiences, retweets, and small-dollar donations.
Feds Dismiss Campaign Finance Complaint Against Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert
Colorado Public Radio – Caitlyn Kim | Published: 5/16/2022
The FEC dismissed a complaint against U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert over her 2020 mileage reimbursement after the commissioners deadlocked on whether to investigate further. While the FEC’s Office of General Counsel did not find any evidence that Boebert converted campaign funds to personal use, as the complaint had alleged, it did note the “round figure of 32,000 miles driven for campaign-related purposes suggests that the assessment is a general estimate rather than one found on the kind of contemporaneous log contemplated in the Commission’s regulations.”
How Facebook Funded a Clandestine War Against Regulation
MSN – Cat Zakrzewski and Elizabeth Dwoskin (Washington Post) | Published: 5/17/2022
Backed by millions of dollars from Facebook-parent company Meta, the political advocacy group American Edge has launched a campaign to combat antitrust legislation in Washington, placing op-eds in regional newspapers throughout the country, commissioning studies, and collaborating with an array of partners, including minority business associations, conservative think tanks, and former national security officials. It is a playbook more common to other industries, but tech companies, under heightened scrutiny from federal regulators, are seizing on these methods.
How the Biden Administration Let Right-Wing Attacks Derail Its Disinformation Efforts
Yahoo News – Taylor Lorenz (Washington Post) | Published: 5/18/2022
On April 27, the Department of Homeland Security announced the creation of the first Disinformation Governance Board with the stated goal to “coordinate countering misinformation related to homeland security.” The Biden administration tapped Nina Jankowicz, a well-known figure in the field of fighting disinformation and extremism, as executive director. Within hours of her appointment, Jankowicz was thrust into the spotlight by the forces she dedicated her career to combating. She became a primary target on the right-wing Internet, subject to a barrage of harassment and abuse while unchecked misrepresentations of her work continue to go viral.
Jan. 6 Panel Subpoenas 5 House Republicans, Including Minority Leader
MSN – Felicia Sonmez, Jacqueline Alemany, Leigh Ann Caldwell, and Mariana Sotomayor (Washington Post) | Published: 5/12/2022
The U.S. House committee investigating the attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob on announced it subpoenaed five Republican members of Congress, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, after they refused to cooperate with the panel’s inquiry. The move marks a significant escalation in the committee’s efforts to obtain information related to lawmakers’ communications with former President Trump and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows before, during, and after the attack.
Supreme Court Agrees with Cruz, Strikes Campaign Contribution Limit
MSN – Robert Barnes (Washington Post) | Published: 5/16/2022
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled a $250,000 cap on the amount of money that candidates can be reimbursed after an election for personal loans to their own campaigns unjustifiably burdened political expression. It was the latest decision to knock out a part of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act and reemphasized the court’s view that many restrictions on campaign finance are unconstitutional violations of the First Amendment’s protection of speech. Justice Elena Kagan said the court was effectively abetting corruption by allowing donors to contribute to a campaign after an election in a way that benefits the candidate personally.
The Little Red Boxes Making a Mockery of Campaign Finance Laws
Yahoo News – Shane Goldmacher (New York Times) | Published: 5/16/2022
Democratic candidates nationwide are pioneering new frontiers in soliciting and directing money from friendly super PACs financed by multimillionaires, billionaires, and special-interest groups. Campaign watchdogs complain the practice further blurs the lines meant to keep wealthy interests from influencing people running for office, effectively evading the strict donation limits imposed on federal candidates. The practice is both brazen and simple. To work around the prohibition on directly coordinating with super PACs, candidates are posting their instructions to them inside the red boxes on public pages that super PACs continuously monitor.
U.S. Sues to Compel Casino Mogul Steve Wynn to Register as Agent of China
MSN – Isaac Stanley-Becker and Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 5/17/2022
The U.S. Justice Department sued Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn to compel him to register as a foreign agent because of lobbying work it says he performed for the Chinese government during the Trump administration. The department said it had advised Wynn repeatedly over the last four years to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act and is suing now because Wynn refused to do so. Though the Justice Department has ramped up efforts to criminally prosecute people who do not register as foreign agents, officials described this case as the first lawsuit of its kind in more than three decades.
Victories by Mastriano, Budd Show Potency of Trump’s False Stolen Election Claims in GOP
MSN – Annie Linskey and David Weigel (Washington Post) | Published: 5/17/2022
Republican candidates who sought to overturn the 2020 election won statewide primaries in Pennsylvania and North Carolina, reflecting the lingering influence in the GOP of former President Trump’s false claims the vote was rigged against him. Their primary victories came on a day when the effect of Trump and his far-right movement on the midterm elections faced its biggest test to date. Incomplete results showed Trump’s influence over the movement he started was uneven, winning some but not all the races where he backed a candidate.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – Arizona Senate to Investigate Wendy Rogers Over Social Media Post on Buffalo Shooting
Yahoo News – Ray Stern (Arizona Republic) | Published: 5/16/2022
The Arizona Senate Ethics Committee will investigate a social media post from state Sen. Wendy Rogers that suggested the shooter in a mass killing in Buffalo was a federal agent and part of a conspiracy by the federal government. The committee said it will examine Rogers’ remarks “relating to the Buffalo shooting as inappropriate of an elected official with this body.” An effort to expel Rogers pushed by Democrats failed.
California – Judge Halts Angel Stadium Sale for FBI Corruption Probe of Anaheim Mayor
KABC – City News Service | Published: 5/17/2022
The city of Anaheim’s planned sale of Angel Stadium to team owner Arte Moreno’s company was halted for at least two months by an Orange County Superior Court judge, who agreed to a request by the state to pause the deal amid a federal corruption probe of Mayor Harry Sidhu. The state attorney general’s office filed the petition requesting a halt to the sale, pointing to the federal investigation that involves, in part, allegations Sidhu was trying to leverage the deal to secure campaign contributions from the Los Angeles Angels.
Colorado – Some Colorado Lobbyists Work for Both Sides at the Same Time
KUSA – Zack Newman | Published: 5/16/2022
At least 15 lobbyists and firms in Colorado have had clients on opposite of a bill at the same time in 2021 and 2022. State law requires lobbyists to tell clients about any conflicts-of-interest and bars them from engaging in “any other practice that discredits the practice of lobbying or the general assembly.” Mike Beasley, who runs 5280 Strategies, said it is “really important” to avoid conflicts-of-interest and there are practices in place to prevent them. He said his contract requires him to flag possible conflicts as far in advance as possible.
Delaware – State Auditor Loses Bid to Have Procurement Charge Dropped
MSN – Randall Chase (Associated Press) | Published: 5/17/2022
A judge refused to dismiss a criminal charge accusing Delaware’s embattled state auditor of deliberately breaking up payments for a contract she entered into with a former campaign consultant in order to avoid compliance with state procurement law. Kathleen McGuiness, who is responsible for rooting out government fraud, waste, and abuse, was indicted on felony counts of theft and witness intimidation, and misdemeanor charges of official misconduct, conflict-of-interest, and noncompliance with procurement laws. McGuiness has denied any wrongdoing.
Florida – Florida Bans Protests Outside Homes
MSN – Lindsay Bever (Washington Post) | Published: 5/17/2022
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill to outlaw protests outside private residences, a move opponents say violates First Amendment rights. The new law will make it a misdemeanor to picket or protest outside a person’s house to “harass or disturb” that person. Violators will receive a warning, and those who do not stop may be arrested for unlawful residential picketing, a crime punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. Republicans and Democrats have been debating the legality of protesting outside the private residences of U.S. Supreme Court justices, and the White House has said such protests are fine when they are peaceful.
Florida – Florida Judge Blocks DeSantis’ Congressional Redistricting Effort
MSN – Gary Fineout (Politico) | Published: 5/11/2022
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ bid to remake the state’s congressional map was dealt a setback on after a state judge said he would block the plan because of the way it scattered Black voters among several districts. DeSantis personally pushed the GOP-led Legislature to approve the map, which boosts the number of Republican-held seats in the state. The map also dismantles the district held by U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, a Black Democrat. The map is facing a legal challenge by a coalition that argues it violates the state’s Fair Districts standards – voter-approved anti-gerrymandering amendments in the Florida Constitution.
Florida – Miami Heat Mayor Suarez’s Office Is Mum on Prime Courtside Seat at the Heat’s Playoff Game
MSN – Ben Carnack (Miami Herald) | Published: 5/18/2022
At a recent Miami Heat playoff game, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez was seated courtside. The county ethics code mandates that gifts exceeding $100 must be reported in quarterly financial disclosures. Former Mayor Tomás Regalado, who faced an ethics probe that dealt, in part, with Miami Heat tickets, said it is inappropriate for the current mayor to sit courtside at a playoff game, whether the ticket was gifted to Suarez or he purchased it himself.
Florida – Mystery Group Behind Ads in ’20 Central Florida Primary Must Reveal Donors, Judge Rules
The Black Chronicle – Annie Martin (Orlando Sentinel) | Published: 5/12/2022
A group that sent attack ads in a state Senate primary in Florida without disclosing its donors, must reveal its contributors and make its chairperson available for a deposition, a judge ruled. Though political committees are required to list their contributions publicly, Floridians for Equality and Justice listed just one donation, a $249,925 “starting balance” from a “dark money” nonprofit organization of the same name. Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Jose Rodriguez said that records that state Sen. Annette Taddeo seeks, including bank records, exist and are in the committee’s possession.
Georgia – Georgia County Under Scrutiny After Claim of Post-Election Breach
MSN – Emma Brown and Amy Gardner (Washington Post) | Published: 5/13/2022
A former elections supervisor in rural Coffee County, Georgia, told The Washington Post she opened her offices to a businessperson active in the election-denier movement to help investigate results she did not trust in the weeks after former President Trump’s 2020 defeat. Trump carried the conservative county by 40 points, but elections supervisor Misty Hampton said she remained suspicious of Joe Biden’s win in Georgia. Hampton made a video that went viral soon after the election, claiming to show Dominion Voting System machines, the ones used in her county, could be manipulated.
Georgia – Georgia’s Oxendine to Hand Over $128,000 to End Ethics Saga
WABE – Associated Press | Published: 5/12/2022
The Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission agreed to drop its campaign finance case against former state Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, who will hand over the $128,000 remaining in his campaign fund and admit no wrongdoing. The deal ends a years-long struggle over whether Oxendine broke state law by using campaign funds to buy a house, lease luxury cars, and join a private club. Some members of commission expressed frustration that Oxendine did not admit fault in the consent order.
Georgia – Lieutenant Governor Candidate Jones Hasn’t Disclosed Flights
MSN – Associated Press | Published: 5/16/2022
A Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in Georgia acknowledged he has been flying to campaign events on his family’s private plane without disclosing any donations or expenses related to the flights in campaign finance filings. A campaign spokesperson for state Sen. Burt Jones said the candidate planned to pay one lump sum after the May 24 primary for all flights taken. But state campaign finance law says candidates “must disclose (expenses made) on the campaign contribution disclosure report due for the reporting period in which the flight occurred.”
Illinois – Three-Peat: Chicago ranks no. 1 in Corruption, report finds
WTTW – Heather Cherone | Published: 5/11/2022
For the third year in a row, Chicago is America’s most corrupt city, and Illinois is the third-most corrupt state, according to an annual report from the University of Illinois at Chicago. The report is based on an analysis of the public corruption statistics published by the U.S. Department of Justice. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic that nearly shut down state and federal courts, 2020 was one of the most “significant” twelve months in the “startling saga of political and public corruption in Chicago and Illinois,” said the author of the report, Dick Simpson, a former Chicago City Council member.
Iowa – Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller to Return Illegal $50,000 PAC Campaign Contribution
MSN – Katie Akin (Des Moines Register) | Published: 5/18/2022
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller will return an illegal $50,000 campaign contribution from the Democratic Attorneys General Association. Iowa law prohibits statewide candidates from accepting donations from PACs until the regular legislative session ends and lawmakers had not adjourned when Miller accepted the donation on May 13.
Kansas – Wichita Ethics Board Members, Candidates Could Be Disqualified Under ‘Goofy’ Policy
MSN – Chance Swaim (Wichita Eagle) | Published: 5/17/2022
Quirks in Wichita’s ethics policy threaten to further delay a board that has been dormant for more than a year, stalling any investigations of potential misconduct by city officials. One empty board seat, the ethics officer position, stands between the passage and enforcement of the city’s ethics rules. But the three finalists for the position have either dropped out of the race or face disqualification. A prohibition on “active members” of political parties and nonpartisan political organizations disqualifies two of the three finalists, one of whom already dropped out of the race. The other finalist moved out of town and is no longer interested in the position.
Maryland – Baltimore Council President Nick Mosby Violated Ethics Law by Accepting Money from City Contractors Via Legal Defense Fund, Board Rules
MSN – Emily Opilo (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 5/12/2022
Baltimore City Council President Nick Mosby violated the city’s ethics ordinance by accepting money from persons doing business with the city through his legal defense fund. The ruling by the city’s Board of Ethics does not name the donors but both are considered “controlled donors” under the law, which bars elected officials from receiving contributions from such donors, solicited or otherwise. The board also concluded Mosby violated a provision of the law barring him from soliciting donations, directly or indirectly, from controlled donors.
Michigan – Feds Charge Ex-Romulus Mayor with Wire Fraud in Corruption Crackdown
Detroit News – Robert Snell | Published: 5/13/2022
Federal prosecutors charged the former mayor of Romulus with wire fraud for spending more than $15,000 in campaign funds on personal expenses. LeRoy Burcroff is the latest current or former public official charged during a more than decade-long federal assault on corruption within municipal government and organized labor around Metro Detroit. That crackdown has led to charges against more than 110 people and the convictions of the two past presidents of the United Auto Workers, former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, and 23 contractors and public officials in Macomb County.
Montana – State Won’t Appeal Ruling Striking Down Parts of New Law
Helena Independent Record – Seaborn Lawson | Published: 5/18/2022
The Montana attorney general’s office will not appeal a District Court ruling that found state lawmakers went to unconstitutional lengths to pass new campaigning laws. Judge Mike Menahan ruled lawmakers had added sections unrelated to the original intent of Senate Bill 319 in a late-session meeting without public participation, in violation of the Montana Constitution.
New York – Adams’ Top Aide Navigates Uncharted Path on New York Ethics Issues
Yahoo News – Sally Goldenberg and Joe Anuta (Politico) | Published: 5/17/2022
Attorney Frank Carone of the firm Abrams Fensterman is chief of staff to New York City Mayor Eric Adams. A recent public disclosure shows the firm has been actively lobbying the new mayoral administration. Carone faces numerous conflicts-of-interest as he undertakes an expansive role in City Hall. An analysis of the firm’s clients from last year found more than 40 whose financial interests are intertwined with municipal government. Abrams Fensterman’s network of clients sets up a situation with little recent precedent in New York.
New York – Corporate Campaign Donors Identify Themselves Thanks to New York Focus Nudge
New York Focus – Sam Mellins | Published: 5/12/2022
In the wake of reporting into the state Board of Election’s failure to act on possible violations of a campaign finance law meant to limit “dark money” in New York elections, the agency began enforcement in March. That yielded rapid results, recent figures show: compliance with the law’s disclosure requirements has increased more than threefold since the board acted. The law required limited liability companies (LLCs) that make political donations to submit a form listing their owners and how much of the company each one owns. But majority of donors who gave via LLCs were not aware of or simply ignored this requirement.
New York – Court Expert Draws More GOP-Friendly New York Political Maps
MSN – Michelle Price (Associated Press) | Published: 5/16/2022
A court-appointed expert released a draft of new congressional maps for New York state that are more favorable to Republicans than the original gerrymandered political maps drawn by Democrats. A New York court will take comment on the maps for two days before a final version is approved by a judge on May 20, with primary elections for congressional races and the state Senate now being held August 23. Adding to the redistricting tangle, the state’s Assembly and gubernatorial primaries are still scheduled for June 28.
Ohio – Cincinnati Launches New Office of Ethics and Good Government to Rebuild ‘Public Trust’
Spectrum News – Casey Weldon | Published: 5/14/2022
Cincinnati endured one of its most difficult periods two years ago as it watched one-third of city council arrested on federal corruption charges. Federal prosecutors accused City Hall of having a “culture of corruption.” The city has worked to help reshape that image, and one way is through the creation of the Office of Ethics and Good Government. Its job is to educate elected officials and city staff on ethics-related issues, ranging from conflicts-of-interest to campaign contributions. It also investigates suspected cases of impropriety submitted through a new hotline.
Ohio – Lawmaker Proposed $300M Handout to Nursing Homes; Then Raised $52,000 from their Liaisons
Yahoo News – Jake Zuckerman (Ohio Capital Journal) | Published: 5/12/2022
An Ohio lawmaker last year proposed allocating $300 million of federal COVID-19 relief funds, divvied up among the state’s nursing homes with no strings attached. Ten days later, Rep. Sara Carruthers received a $13,200 campaign contribution from the chief executive of a chain of 59 nursing homes, $13,200 from his business partner, and another $13,200 from the chief executive’s wife. Two weeks later, a lobbyist for an association of nursing homes that backed the bill gave her another $13,200. The four contributions together comprise nearly half of all Carruthers’ campaign fundraising in 2021.
Ohio – Leader of Columbus Green-Energy Ballot Measure Guilty of Falsifying Campaign Finance Report
Yahoo News – Bill Bush and Jordan Laird (Columbus Dispatch) | Published: 5/16/2022
The man who led the failed ProEnergy Issue 7 ballot initiative last November, which Columbus leaders called a blatant effort to grab taxpayer funds, was found guilty of filing a false campaign finance record in connection with the petition drive for a similar 2019 initiative. John Clark Jr. led the petition drive to get an initiative put on the ballot that, if it had passed, would have diverted more than $50 million of city money toward vague green-energy initiatives proposed by a group that would have been in sole control of the funds.
Ohio – Medicaid Director Owned Stock in Companies She Awarded Huge Contracts
Ohio Capital Journal – Marty Schladen | Published: 5/17/2022
Ohio Medicaid Director Maureen Corcoran’s ethics filings show she continued to own stock in three health care companies in 2021, the same year she negotiated and signed billion-dollar contracts with their subsidiaries. State ethics rules only require that officials such as Corcoran list all the stocks they own at least $1,000 worth of in a given year. So, it is impossible to know how heavily invested she is in those companies. Corcoran declined to file an affidavit disclosing her exact holdings in companies whose subsidiaries she was awarding contracts and she has refused to make those disclosures voluntarily.
Oregon – Rich Donors Take Major Advantage of a Loophole in Portland’s Public Campaign Financing System
OPB – Rebecca Ellis | Published: 5/12/2022
Portland’s public campaign finance program aims to reduce the influence of big money in city politics by limiting the contributions that participating candidates can accept. In return for capping donations at $250, candidates get their small donations matched nine-fold by the city. But the ability of wealthy donors to give unlimited amounts to PACs that support candidates is, this year’s election shows, a fundamental loophole in the city’s efforts to curb campaign spending and, in the process, broaden who can run for office.
South Dakota – South Dakota Report: Noem’s daughter got special treatment
MSN – Stephen Groves (Associated Press) | Published: 5/18/2022
State lawmakers unanimously approved a report finding South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem’s daughter got preferential treatment while she was applying for a real estate appraiser’s license in 2020. Noem has denied wrongdoing, despite holding a meeting that included her daughter, Kassidy Peters, and key decision-makers from the agency that was evaluating her application just days after the agency moved to deny her the license. After the meeting, Peters received another opportunity to demonstrate she could meet federal standards and was ultimately awarded the license.
Tennessee – Registry of Election Finance Declines to Investigate Rep. Sherrell’s Fire-Hall Checks
Tennessee Lookout – Sam Stockard | Published: 5/19/2022
The Tennessee Registry of Election Finance claimed it had been “weaponized” in a state House District race and refused to investigate a complaint that Rep. Paul Sherrell wrote checks to volunteer fire halls and asked for cash back. “What we’re being asked here is to assume that Mr. Sherrell is a crook, bottom line. We’re to assume he is conducting illegal activity …,” board member Tom Lawless said, because Sherrell bought ham breakfasts for firefighters. Nevertheless, the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance urged Sherrell to make contributions differently in the future and to document all donations.
Texas – AG Ken Paxton Refuses to Disclose His Property Addresses to the Texas Ethics Commission
MSN – Jay Root and Taylor Goldenstein (Houston Chronicle) | Published: 5/18/2022
The state police made him do it. That is the excuse Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton gives on his ethics disclosures in place of revealing, as required by law, the addresses of properties he owns in Austin and College Station. “Redacted for security purposes on request of TX DPS,” Paxton has written on every form since he began work as attorney general. But nothing in the law allows him to refuse to provide the addresses, and none of the parties involved could produce any records proving such a request was ever made.
Washington – Inside the Washington Legislative Workers’ Union Push and Building Frustration with Democratic Leadership
Seattle Times – Joseph O’Sullivan | Published: 5/17/2022
Washington lawmakers passed a bill aimed at setting up a process to allow at least some legislative workers to unionize. The legislation also lifts the state’s prohibition on collective bargaining for legislative workers beginning in 2024. House Bill 2124 creates the Office of State Legislative Labor Relations to research and make recommendations to lawmakers about how staffers might unionize, and which workers might be part of that group. Lawmakers and others acknowledge they will likely need to pass another bill next year before collective bargaining begins.
Washington DC – Judges Accused of Sex Discrimination, Bullying, Internal Survey Shows
MSN – Ann Marimow (Washington Post) | Published: 5/16/2022
Complaints in a workplace survey conducted for the federal trial and appeals courts in the nation’s capital, an institution regarded as a steppingstone to the U.S. Supreme Court detail instances of gender discrimination, bullying, and racial insensitivity, while underscoring the power imbalance between judges with life tenure and the assistants who depend on them for career advancement. Current and former employees who acknowledged having witnessed misconduct described their reluctance to file complaints against their superiors. They cited fears of retaliation and distrust that the federal judiciary’s system for workplace accountability, which tasks judges with policing one another, ultimately would resolve their concerns.
Washington DC – Trump Sells D.C. Hotel Lease to Miami Investment Group
MSN – Jonathan O’Connell (Washington Post) | Published: 5/11/2022
The Trump Organization completed the sale of its District of Columbia hotel lease on Pennsylvania Avenue to CGI Merchant Group and its partner Hilton Worldwide Holdings, which will operate the hotel as a Waldorf Astoria property. Calls for the lease to be revoked or for Trump to divest himself of his real estate assets grew louder after he entered office and foreign leaders, corporations, and Republican politicians booked rooms and parties at the hotel as part of their efforts to curry favor with Trump.
West Virginia – ‘Everyone Was Shocked’: How WV’s ethics laws allowed someone barred from lobbying to try to influence legislators anyway
Mountain State Spotlight – Ian Karbal | Published: 5/16/2022
The West Virginia Ethics Act bars certain public officials from lobbying for at least a year after they leave office. But as Evan Jenkins’ rapid flip from state Supreme Court justice to timber company attorney highlighted, the law leaves plenty of wiggle room. He was able to speak directly to lawmakers, as well as propose specific language to legislation, all within weeks of holding a powerful position in government.
Wisconsin – Wis. Democrats File First-of-Its-Kind Suit vs. Fake Trump Electors
MSN – Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) | Published: 5/17/2022
Three Democratic voters in Wisconsin, including two who served as electors for President Biden in 2020, filed suit against 10 supporters of Donald Trump in the state, arguing the group engaged in a civil conspiracy to violate state and federal law when they declared themselves presidential electors in 2020 even though Biden won the state’s popular vote. Wisconsin was one of five states won by Biden where Republican electors gathered December 14, 2020, and declared themselves “duly elected and qualified” – then sent signed certificates to Washington purporting to affirm Trump as the actual victor of their states.
May 19, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Florida: “Mystery Group Behind Ads in ’20 Central Florida Primary Must Reveal Donors, Judge Rules” by Annie Martin (Orlando Sentinel) for The Black Chronicle Ohio: “Leader of Columbus Green-Energy Ballot Measure Guilty of Falsifying Campaign Finance Report” by […]
Florida: “Mystery Group Behind Ads in ’20 Central Florida Primary Must Reveal Donors, Judge Rules” by Annie Martin (Orlando Sentinel) for The Black Chronicle
Ohio: “Leader of Columbus Green-Energy Ballot Measure Guilty of Falsifying Campaign Finance Report” by Bill Bush and Jordan Laird (Columbus Dispatch) for Yahoo News
National: “How the Biden Administration Let Right-Wing Attacks Derail Its Disinformation Efforts” by Taylor Lorenz (Washington Post) for Yahoo News
California: “Judge Halts Angel Stadium Sale for FBI Corruption Probe of Anaheim Mayor” by City News Service for KABC
Florida: “Florida Bans Protests Outside Homes” by Lindsay Bever (Washington Post) for MSN
Kansas: “Wichita Ethics Board Members, Candidates Could Be Disqualified Under ‘Goofy’ Policy” by Chance Swaim (Wichita Eagle) for MSN
South Dakota: “South Dakota Report: Noem’s daughter got special treatment” by Stephen Groves (Associated Press) for MSN
Texas: “AG Ken Paxton Refuses to Disclose His Property Addresses to the Texas Ethics Commission” by Jay Root and Taylor Goldenstein (Houston Chronicle) for MSN
National: “U.S. Sues to Compel Casino Mogul Steve Wynn to Register as Agent of China” by Isaac Stanley-Becker and Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) for MSN
Delaware: “State Auditor Loses Bid to Have Procurement Charge Dropped” by Randall Chase (Associated Press) for MSN
May 18, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “Feds Dismiss Campaign Finance Complaint Against Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert” by Caitlyn Kim for Colorado Public Radio Georgia: “Lieutenant Governor Candidate Jones Hasn’t Disclosed Flights” by Associated Press for MSN Elections National: “Victories by Mastriano, Budd Show […]
National: “Feds Dismiss Campaign Finance Complaint Against Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert” by Caitlyn Kim for Colorado Public Radio
Georgia: “Lieutenant Governor Candidate Jones Hasn’t Disclosed Flights” by Associated Press for MSN
National: “Victories by Mastriano, Budd Show Potency of Trump’s False Stolen Election Claims in GOP” by Annie Linskey and David Weigel (Washington Post) for MSN
Wisconsin: “Wis. Democrats File First-of-Its-Kind Suit vs. Fake Trump Electors” by Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) for MSN
Arizona: “Arizona Senate to Investigate Wendy Rogers Over Social Media Post on Buffalo Shooting” by Ray Stern (Arizona Republic) for Yahoo News
New York: “Adams’ Top Aide Navigates Uncharted Path on New York Ethics Issues” by Sally Goldenberg and Joe Anuta (Politico) for Yahoo News
Ohio: “Medicaid Director Owned Stock in Companies She Awarded Huge Contracts” by Marty Schladen for Ohio Capital Journal
National: “How Facebook Funded a Clandestine War Against Regulation” by Cat Zakrzewski and Elizabeth Dwoskin (Washington Post) for MSN
Colorado: “Some Colorado Lobbyists Work for Both Sides at the Same Time” by Zack Newman for KUSA
New York: “Court Expert Draws More GOP-Friendly New York Political Maps” by Michelle Price (Associated Press) for MSN
May 17, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “The Little Red Boxes Making a Mockery of Campaign Finance Laws” by Shane Goldmacher (New York Times) for Yahoo News National: “U.S. Supreme Court Backs Ted Cruz, Dumps Campaign Finance Restriction” by Lawrence Hurley (Reuters) for MSN […]
National: “The Little Red Boxes Making a Mockery of Campaign Finance Laws” by Shane Goldmacher (New York Times) for Yahoo News
National: “U.S. Supreme Court Backs Ted Cruz, Dumps Campaign Finance Restriction” by Lawrence Hurley (Reuters) for MSN
New York: “Corporate Campaign Donors Identify Themselves Thanks to New York Focus Nudge” by Sam Mellins for New York Focus
Georgia: “Georgia County Under Scrutiny After Claim of Post-Election Breach” by Emma Brown and Amy Gardner (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “A Fringe Conspiracy Theory, Fostered Online, Is Refashioned by the GOP” by Nicholas Confessore and Karen Yourish (New York Times) for Hartford Courant
Michigan: “Feds Charge Ex-Romulus Mayor with Wire Fraud in Corruption Crackdown” by Robert Snell for Detroit News
Ohio: “Cincinnati Launches New Office of Ethics and Good Government to Rebuild ‘Public Trust’” by Casey Weldon for Spectrum News
West Virginia: “‘Everyone Was Shocked’: How WV’s ethics laws allowed someone barred from lobbying to try to influence legislators anyway” by Ian Karbal for Mountain State Spotlight
May 13, 2022 •
National/Federal A 49-Year Crusade: Inside the movement to overturn Roe v. Wade MSN – Michael Scherer, Josh Dawsey, Caroline Kitchener, and Rachel Roubein (Washington Post) | Published: 5/7/2022 Soon after Donald Trump won the 2016 election, Leonard Leo, the head of […]
A 49-Year Crusade: Inside the movement to overturn Roe v. Wade
MSN – Michael Scherer, Josh Dawsey, Caroline Kitchener, and Rachel Roubein (Washington Post) | Published: 5/7/2022
Soon after Donald Trump won the 2016 election, Leonard Leo, the head of the conservative Federalist Society, met with the president-elect and his advisers with a list of six potential conservative nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court. Leo laid out a road map for Trump on the federal court system, potentially transforming the foundational understanding of rights in America. It was a moment that antiabortion activists had been working toward for decades: The highest reaches of Republican power finally focused, in unison, on achieving the once implausible goal of revisiting the jurisprudence of the 1960s and 1970s, including Roe v. Wade.
Congressman Probing Commanders Cancels Fundraiser Over Ethics Question
MSN – Daniel Lippman (Politico) | Published: 5/10/2022
U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi has been investigating the Washington Commanders as chairperson of a House oversight subcommittee. He is also raising money for his reelection. Those two facts collided when Krishnamoorthi canceled a fundraiser after a reporter questioned the event. The issue was whether it was inappropriate for a pair of lobbyists, Mike Manatos and Tom Manatos, to explicitly invite donors to the event to discuss with Krishnamoorthi the probe of the football team and its owner, Dan Snyder. Linking pleas for campaign money to specific legislative actions is not allowed.
Dem AGs Pledge to Hold the Line If Roe Falls
Politico – Alice Miranda Ollstein | Published: 5/9/2022
While attorney general races tend to have lower turnout and spending than gubernatorial contests, the state’s chief law enforcement office has long been a springboard for politicians. In this year’s races, the possible overturning of Roe v, Wade has become a central issue. Those running in red and purple states have pledged not to prosecute people under whatever abortion bans their legislators or governors impose, while those in blue states are vowing to keep local prosecutors at bay and preserve access to the procedure.
Elon Musk Says He Would Reverse Twitter Ban on Donald Trump
MSN – Faiz Siddiqui, Drew Harwell, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 5/10/2022
Elon Musk said he will reverse Twitter’s permanent ban of former President Trump if the Tesla chief executive follows through with his plan to buy the social media company. Twitter banned Trump in the wake of the January 6 riots, citing the risk of further violence. Musk said the decision to ban Trump from the platform was a mistake. The decision to do so alienated much of the country, and Trump still has a voice, Musk said. Twitter has said its efforts have been aimed at minimizing harm and improving the user experience by limiting exposure to hate speech and harassment.
GOP State Legislators Move to Police Social Media
Yahoo News – Reid Wilson (The Hill) | Published: 5/11/2022
Republican lawmakers in at least 18 states have considered bills that would impose penalties on social media companies for censorship or content limits based on ideological viewpoints. The specifics vary, but many of the proposals would allow users who believe their views have been censored or silenced to bring lawsuits in state courts. One industry insider said forcing social media outlets to justify their decisions to moderate specific instances of content, the bulk of which are made by computer algorithms, would open those companies to legal harassment.
Inside Mark Meadows’s Final Push to Keep Trump in Power
MSN – Michael Kranish (Washington Post) | Published: 5/9/2022
A review of Mark Meadows’ actions in a crucial three-week period culminating in the violent insurrection on January 6, 2021 – based on interviews, depositions, text messages, emails, congressional documents, recently published memoirs by key players and other material – shows how Meadows played a pivotal role in advancing Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Meadows’ moves are at the center of probes by both the House committee investigating the attack and the Justice Department, which is examining whether to press contempt-of-Congress charges against him and is conducting its own inquiry.
Judge Dismisses Trump’s Lawsuit Against Twitter
MSN – Cat Zakrzewski (Washington Post) | Published: 5/6/2022
A California judge dismissed a lawsuit that Donald Trump filed against Twitter, the latest blow to the former president’s battles with major tech companies over their decisions to suspend his accounts in the fallout of the attack on the U.S. Capitol. The lawsuit, which Trump initially filed last year along with suits targeting Google and Facebook, was viewed as part of a broader strategy to appeal to conservatives who have long argued social media companies unfairly censor their viewpoints.
Pelosi Sets $45,000 Minimum Yearly Salary for House Staff
MSN – Associated Press | Published: 5/6/2022
Addressing concerns about the working conditions for some Capitol Hill aides, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a $45,000 minimum annual salary for House staff and teed up for a vote a resolution that would pave the way for aides to join a union. While jobs on Capitol Hill are highly coveted and can lead to big salaries down the road, the work often involves grueling hours and low pay in a region where steep housing costs can leave little money for other necessities.
Supreme Court Leak Inquiry Exposes Gray Area of Press Protections
MSN – Jeremy Peters (New York Times) | Published: 5/7/2022
The U.S. Supreme Court in 1971 ruled the government could not prevent The New York Times from publishing the Pentagon Papers while the source of that leak, Daniel Ellsberg, was indicted by a federal grand jury for theft. The court is now grappling with the release of a draft opinion that sets the framework for overturning Roe v. Wade. Only this time the leak came from inside the building, and there is no law or code of conduct that suggests how an investigation into such a breach should proceed, or whether the journalists who brought the draft to light will be swept up in the kind of criminal investigation that top Republican lawmakers have demanded.
With High Court in Spotlight, Democrats Push Judicial Ethics Overhaul
MSN – Jacqueline Alemany (Washington Post) | Published: 5/10/2022
In the wake of revelations related to the U.S. Supreme Court, a group of liberal House and Senate Democrats is introducing new legislation to tighten judicial ethics laws, reflecting the rising anger on the left over the recent conduct of the high court’s conservative majority. A draft proposal calls for more disclosure, a binding code of conduct for the Supreme Court, and a new judicial recusal process. The Supreme Court is the only court in the country that is not required to abide by a judicial code of ethics.
Canada – MLA’s Motions to Improve Alberta Lobbyist Act Rejected by Committee
MSN – Michelle Bellefontaine (CBC) | Published: 5/8/2022
A committee of lawmakers reviewing Alberta’s Lobbyist Act voted against changes proposed by the province’s ethics commissioner, including the establishment of a registry to track meetings between lobbyists and public officeholders. The only motion accepted by the committee was a recommendation that government “take into account the importance of public transparency” when changing the act, which must be reviewed every five years. The provincial government will ultimately decide what it will accept when moving forward with changes to the law.
From the States and Municipalities
California – CalPERS Board Violated Open Meetings Law, Judge Rules. Ex-Board Member Wants More Information
Sacramento Bee – Wes Venteicher | Published: 5/9/2022
A judge ruled California Public Employees Retirement System’s Board of Administration violated open meetings law when it excluded the public from a discussion two years ago related to the exit of Ben Ming, its former investment chief. Meng quit after a conflict-of-interest complaint was filed over his personal investments in Blackstone, a private equity firm in which the pension fund also was invested. A notice published by the board said the meeting, held 12 days after Meng’s resignation, was closed so board members could discuss a “chief executive officer’s briefing on performance, employment, and personnel items.”
Colorado – Election-Denying Clerk Tina Peters, Deputy Belinda Knisley Barred from Overseeing 2022 Elections in Mesa County
MSN – Saja Hindi (Denver Post) | Published: 5/10/2022
For the second year in a row, a judge has ruled Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters and Deputy Clerk Belinda Knisley are barred from overseeing an election – this time, the June primaries and November general election. Peters, who disputes the 2020 presidential election result and is seeking the Republican nomination for secretary of state, is also facing multiple investigations surrounding allegations of an election equipment security breach and campaign finance violations, including 10 criminal counts. Knisley was also indicted by the grand jury and was suspended from her role at the county for a workplace investigation.
Florida – Appeals Court Reinstates Florida’s 2021 Election Law Provisions Struck Gown by Judge
MSN – Steven Lemongello (Orlando Sentinel) | Published: 5/6/2022
A federal appeals court overruled a judge who struck down much of Florida’s controversial 2021 election law, allowing the provisions to go into effect while a lawsuit makes its way through the courts. Judge Mark Walker ruled in March the Legislature intentionally discriminated against Black voters in drafting the law and ordered the state not to make any future changes to those provisions without his court’s approval. But three judges on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals granted the state’s request to appeal and overturn Walker’s ruling. The judges wrote the upcoming primary elections were too imminent for Walker to make such changes to the law.
Georgia – Challenge Over Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Eligibility Fails
Yahoo News – Kate Brumback (Associated Press) | Published: 5/6/2022
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger accepted a judge’s findings and said U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is qualified to run for reelection despite claims by a group of voters that she had engaged in insurrection. Administrative Law Judge Charles Beaudrot said Greene was eligible to run, finding the voters had not produced sufficient evidence to back their claims. After Raffensperger adopted the judge’s decision, the group that filed the complaint on behalf of the voters vowed to appeal.
Hawaii – Will Former Lawmakers’ Bribery Charges Lead to Broader Government Reform?
Honolulu Civil Beat – Blaze Lovell | Published: 5/9/2022
There has been a renewed focus this year in Hawaii on government ethics and corruption in the wake of criminal charges involving two former lawmakers. J. Kalani English and Ty Cullen both pleaded guilty accepting bribes as part of a scheme to influence legislation. The charges also led to the creation of a group to address government conduct. Now, lawmakers and many in the public will be looking to the Commission to Improve Standards of Conduct for proposals on how to tighten up ethics laws and increase government transparency ahead of the 2023 legislative session, which opens in January.
Kentucky – Andy Beshear Sues Over GOP Plan to Reduce His Power Over Ethics Commission Appointments
Yahoo News – Morgan Watkins (Louisville Courier-Journal) | Published: 5/6/2022
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear sued over legislation the Republican-run General Assembly passed that reduces his authority to appoint members to the Executive Branch Ethics Commission. The bill shifts Beshear’s power to the state’s constitutional officers, who are all Republicans. Beshear wants a judge to nix House Bill 334, which expands the ethics commission from five members to seven and gives the governor two appointments to the board while granting five other state officeholders one appointment each.
Maryland – Exclusive: U.S. congressman’s campaign may violate state election law
Yahoo News – Eric Cortellessa (Time) | Published: 5/8/2022
U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown wants to be Maryland’s top law enforcement officer, but his own campaign’s spending may violate state election law, according to campaign finance experts. Brown announced on October 25 that he would retire from Congress and run for state attorney general. Since then, he has used funds from his congressional campaign account to bankroll his bid for statewide office, a review of his financial disclosures shows. Meanwhile, Brown spent nothing from his state account to compensate the campaign’s staff in its first months of operation, the review found.
Michigan – ‘Massive Forgery Scheme’ Claims Rock Michigan Elections, Governor’s Race
Bridge Michigan – Jonathan Oosting | Published: 5/5/2022
A petition fraud scandal threatening the candidacy of Republican gubernatorial front-runner James Craig has spread to at least three other Michigan candidates accused of submitting forged signatures from the same circulators in their quest to make the primary ballot. Gubernatorial, congressional, and judicial candidates are required to submit voter signatures to qualify for the ballot, but experts say unusually high demand for paid circulators this spring led to a price spike that may have incentivized cheating or sloppy collections. State canvassers will soon decide who makes the ballot.
Michigan – Michigan Legislature Puts Term Limits Proposal on Ballot
MSN – David Eggert (Associated Press) | Published: 5/10/2022
The Michigan Legislature voted to put before voters a constitutional amendment to revise the state’s legislative term limits law and require state elected officials to disclose their personal financial information. Supporters of amending term limits say it would enable new lawmakers to focus on their job instead of immediately looking to run for higher office or find work outside the Legislature. Opponents say it is being mischaracterized as a proposal to improve term limits when it would double how many terms a House member could serve.
Mississippi – No More Anonymity, No Complaints During Election Season: Changes to city ethics complaints process coming
Yahoo News – Angele Latham (Jackson Sun) | Published: 5/5/2022
Changes may soon be coming to the way ethics complaints are handled against elected city officials in Jackson after council members voted on first reading to amend portions of the code of ethics to allow for the creation of an ethics board. Most notably, constituents may soon be unable to file complaints anonymously, and may only be able to file them outside of election season. The changes will become official if it is passed on second reading at the June city council meeting.
Nebraska – Pillen Beats Trump’s Candidate in Nebraska Governor Primary
ABC News – Grant Schulte (Associated Press) | Published: 5/11/2022
Republican voters in Nebraska picked Jim Pillen as their nominee for governor, siding with the University of Nebraska regent backed by the state’s outgoing governor over a rival supported by former President Trump and accused of groping multiple women. While Trump-endorsed candidates won primary races in West Virginia for the U.S. House, the statewide loss in Nebraska was a setback for the former president. Charles Herbster’s loss raises the stakes on other high-profile races in Pennsylvania and Georgia, where Trump has also intervened in campaigns.
New Jersey – Murphy Vetoes Bill Closing Bribery ‘Loopholes,’ Wants to Make the Law Tougher
MSN – Ted Sherman (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 5/10/2022
Gov. Phil Murphy conditionally vetoed a bill intended to close what its sponsors called a “loophole” in New Jersey’s corruption laws, which would make it clear it is illegal even for candidates to accept a bribe in the state. Murphy called for amendments that would make the bill even tougher. Those amendments would include charging anyone who facilitated or served as a go-between in setting up a bribe or payoff. The state Legislature voted unanimously to change the law to unequivocally state that bribery laws apply not only to public officials, but to candidates for public office as well.
New York – Ethics Commission Hits Back at Cuomo, Seeking $5M Book Repayment
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 5/9/2022
The Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) countersued ex-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, filing a court action seeking to force the repayment of $5.1 million in book proceeds paid to the former governor. In March, JCOPE ordered Cuomo to repay the money, but he has taken no steps to repay the book’s publisher. In the counterclaim, attorneys representing the commission asked that Cuomo be forced to repay the funds, and for an injunction barring Cuomo from disbursing the money in the meantime.
New York – For Nonprofits, a Voice in Lobbying Is Often Out of Reach Due to Rules
Albany Times Union – Brendan Lyons | Published: 5/9/2022
Small nonprofit and other grassroots organizations are pushing for a $10,000 registration threshold in New York for lobbying-related spending. Doubling the current limit would enable many of those organizations and individuals to engage in trying to influence public policy without the need to expend resources or money to comply with the state’s reporting requirements. Nonprofit New York compiled a policy brief that found only three percent of nonprofit groups engage in lobbying with many dissuaded to participate because they are not equipped to handle the complex lobbying reporting requirements and fear the penalties that result from missteps.
New York – Judge Lifts Contempt Ruling Against Trump, with Conditions
Yahoo News – Graham Kates (CBS News) | Published: 5/11/2022
A New York State judge lifted a civil contempt ruling levied against Donald Trump, but said the former president still needs to pay $110,000 in fines accrued and satisfy other conditions. Trump was held in contempt on April 25 after failing to comply with a subpoena requiring that he turn over documents to investigators conducting a financial fraud probe for New York Attorney General Letitia James. Trump was fined $10,000 per day through May 6, the date of his most recent filing in the case.
Ohio – City Worker Who Helped Convicted Cleveland Councilman Ken Johnson in Corruption Scheme Spared Prison Time
MSN – Corey Shaffer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 5/10/2022
A federal judge spared a former city of Cleveland employee from prison for his role in helping then-council member Kenneth Johnson carry out a long-running corruption scheme. U.S. District Court Judge John Adams sentenced Robert Fitzpatrick to three years of probation. Fitzpatrick cooperated with the FBI investigation into Johnson, who took Fitzpatrick in to live with him as a teenager and then manipulated him to fall in line with the corruption scheme.
Oregon – Candidates, Others Have to Reset Passwords to Oregon Campaign Finance System After Hack
Oregon Capital Journal – Lynne Terry | Published: 5/10/2022
About 1,100 people who use the Oregon secretary of state’s online campaign finance tracking system must reset their passwords following a ransomware attack against a web provider. The office said the hack did not affect state election data. Those affected account for roughly 6% of the database users, the office said. The office is notifying those affected they have to create new passwords. The ORESTAR system is separate from other electoral databases.
Oregon – Prison Club for Oregon’s Convicted Killers Investigated for Financial ‘Discrepancies’
MSN – Noelle Crombie (Portland Oregonian) | Published: 5/8/2022
The newsletters provide updates on the wholesome pursuits of a civic-minded club: barbecues, toy drives, and backpacks filled with school supplies for children in need. The group spearheads an annual holiday gift giveaway, ensuring those without families of their own do not feel left out. Its members oversee a six-figure fundraising juggernaut. But this is no Rotary Club. It is the Lifers’ Unlimited Club at the Oregon State Penitentiary where only convicted killers need apply, and now it is in trouble. State Department of Corrections officials confirmed they have halted club activities while they investigate “discrepancies” in its finances.
South Carolina – SC GOP Lawmaker Settles 133 Alleged Campaign Finance Violations for Fine, Public Reprimand
MSN – Zak Koeske (The State) | Published: 5/5/2022
A state lawmaker who faced more than 100 ethics charges related to his use of campaign money settled the accusations with the South Carolina House Ethics Committee. Rep. Jonathon Hill, who is not seeking reelection, entered into a consent order with the committee. Under the terms of the settlement, Hill will be fined $12,000 and receive a public reprimand. He has not been criminally charged. An outside audit of Hill’s campaign disclosure reports over a three-year period turned up numerous alleged violations of South Carolina ethics code.
Tennessee – Titans Stadium Push Shows Family Connections on Tennessee’s Capitol Hill
WTVF – Phil Williams | Published: 5/9/2022
The Tennessee Titans wanted a new stadium – a domed facility that could cost more than $2 billion – to replace the aging structure that opened almost 23 years ago. It put together a team of 15 lobbyists, including the wife of the powerful chairperson of the Senate Finance Committee and the daughter of the state’s Commissioner of Tourist Development. The lobbying effort is the latest example that reveals how the lines between public interest and personal interest can get blurred at the Capitol.
Virginia – Battling Yard Signs on a Quiet Corner in Alexandria
MSN – Emily Davies (Washington Post) | Published: 5/7/2022
Old Town Alexandria has in many ways stayed above the cultural fray that has dominated other parts of Northern Virginia over the past few years – avoiding explosive rallies over critical race theory like in nearby Loudoun County, for example. But dueling yard signs that appeared recently have brought the debate to the neighborhood. Many neighbors said the signs made public a sort of tension that is rarely articulated in an area proud of its understated brand of liberalism.
Virginia – State Supreme Court Vacancies Remain Unfilled During Political Standoff
Virginia Mercury – Allison Winter | Published: 5/9/2022
Two vacant seats in the Virginia Supreme Court that opened in the past year hang in the balance in the political standoff in the Legislature. State lawmakers said their negotiations continue but indicated they are no closer to resolution. Selecting justices is a constitutional duty of the General Assembly, which elects the justices by a majority vote. Once elected, a justice can serve for a 12-year term. In recent history Republican Legislatures have elected justices as a matter of course. But this year, the appointments are one of many political deadlocks in the current divided Legislature.
Virginia – Youngkin Retracts Job Offer to Indiana Official to Run Virginia DMV
MSN – Gregory Schneider and Laura Vozzella (Washington Post) | Published: 5/10/2022
Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration retracted a job offer to a former Indiana state official to run the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles after the chosen candidate was the subject of an exposé in The Indianapolis Star about allegations of drinking on the job and making inappropriate comments. The Star reported Peter Lacy “abruptly” resigned in April from his job as head of Indiana’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles a day after he allegedly appeared intoxicated at a departmental meeting.
May 11, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “Congressman Probing Commanders Cancels Fundraiser Over Ethics Question” by Daniel Lippman (Politico) for MSN Elections National: “Dem AGs Pledge to Hold the Line If Roe Falls” by Alice Miranda Ollstein for Politico Michigan: “Michigan Legislature Puts Term […]
National: “Congressman Probing Commanders Cancels Fundraiser Over Ethics Question” by Daniel Lippman (Politico) for MSN
National: “Dem AGs Pledge to Hold the Line If Roe Falls” by Alice Miranda Ollstein for Politico
Michigan: “Michigan Legislature Puts Term Limits Proposal on Ballot” by David Eggert (Associated Press) for MSN
National: “Elon Musk Says He Would Reverse Twitter Ban on Donald Trump” by Faiz Siddiqui, Drew Harwell, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) for MSN
New Jersey: “Murphy Vetoes Bill Closing Bribery ‘Loopholes,’ Wants to Make the Law Tougher” by Ted Sherman (NJ Advance Media) for MSN
New York: “Ethics Commission Hits Back at Cuomo, Seeking $5M Book Repayment” by Chris Bragg for Albany Times Union
Virginia: “State Supreme Court Vacancies Remain Unfilled During Political Standoff” by Allison Winter for Virginia Mercury
Tennessee: “Titans Stadium Push Shows Family Connections on Tennessee’s Capitol Hill” by Phil Williams for WTVF
May 10, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Maryland: “Exclusive: U.S. congressman’s campaign may violate state election law” by Eric Cortellessa (Time) for Yahoo News Elections National: “Inside Mark Meadows’s Final Push to Keep Trump in Power” by Michael Kranish (Washington Post) for MSN Ethics Hawaii: […]
Maryland: “Exclusive: U.S. congressman’s campaign may violate state election law” by Eric Cortellessa (Time) for Yahoo News
National: “Inside Mark Meadows’s Final Push to Keep Trump in Power” by Michael Kranish (Washington Post) for MSN
Hawaii: “Will Former Lawmakers’ Bribery Charges Lead to Broader Government Reform?” by Blaze Lovell for Honolulu Civil Beat
Mississippi: “No More Anonymity, No Complaints During Election Season: Changes to city ethics complaints process coming” by Angele Latham (Jackson Sun) for Yahoo News
Oregon: “Prison Club for Oregon’s Convicted Killers Investigated for Financial ‘Discrepancies’” by Noelle Crombie (Portland Oregonian) for MSN
Virginia: “Battling Yard Signs on a Quiet Corner in Alexandria” by Emily Davies (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Pelosi Sets $45,000 Minimum Yearly Salary for House Staff” by Associated Press for MSN
New York: “For Nonprofits, a Voice in Lobbying Is Often Out of Reach Due to Rules” by Brendan Lyons for Albany Times Union
May 9, 2022 •
Campaign Finance South Carolina: “SC GOP Lawmaker Settles 133 Alleged Campaign Finance Violations for Fine, Public Reprimand” by Zak Koeske (The State) for MSN Elections Florida: “Appeals Court Reinstates Florida’s 2021 Election Law Provisions Struck Gown by Judge” by Steven […]
South Carolina: “SC GOP Lawmaker Settles 133 Alleged Campaign Finance Violations for Fine, Public Reprimand” by Zak Koeske (The State) for MSN
Florida: “Appeals Court Reinstates Florida’s 2021 Election Law Provisions Struck Gown by Judge” by Steven Lemongello (Orlando Sentinel) for MSN
Georgia: “Challenge Over Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Eligibility Fails” by Kate Brumback (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
National: “Judge Dismisses Trump’s Lawsuit Against Twitter” by Cat Zakrzewski (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Supreme Court Leak Inquiry Exposes Gray Area of Press Protections” by Jeremy Peters (New York Times) for MSN
Kentucky: “Andy Beshear Sues Over GOP Plan to Reduce His Power Over Ethics Commission Appointments” by Morgan Watkins (Louisville Courier-Journal) for Yahoo News
National: “A 49-Year Crusade: Inside the movement to overturn Roe v. Wade” by Michael Scherer, Josh Dawsey, Caroline Kitchener, and Rachel Roubein (Washington Post) for MSN
Canada: “MLA’s Motions to Improve Alberta Lobbyist Act Rejected by Committee” by Michelle Bellefontaine (CBC) for MSN
May 6, 2022 •
National/Federal A Decision to Overturn Roe v. Wade Might Upend the Midterms MSN – Dan Balz, Colby Itkowitz, and Caroline Kitchener (Washington Post) | Published: 5/3/2022 Supporters of abortion rights and their Democratic allies predicted that Politico’s publication of a leaked […]
A Decision to Overturn Roe v. Wade Might Upend the Midterms
MSN – Dan Balz, Colby Itkowitz, and Caroline Kitchener (Washington Post) | Published: 5/3/2022
Supporters of abortion rights and their Democratic allies predicted that Politico’s publication of a leaked draft opinion by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito Jr. would reverberate through to the fall campaign. They said it could make the election a choice between Democratic and Republican governance that could ultimately hold down expected GOP gains. Countering that view were assertions by Republicans and opponents of abortion who said their supporters would be energized by a decision and issues such as inflation and crime will continue to influence voters’ decisions as much or more than abortion rights.
Draft Abortion Opinion Puts New Spotlight on Confirmation Hearings
MSN – Seung Min Kim (Washington Post) | Published: 5/4/2022
In the wake of a leaked draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, there is fresh scrutiny of the U.S. Supreme Court confirmation process, in which nominees say as little as possible and senators are left to parse their language on how they would rule. It is not just the increasingly predictable and evasive answers of nominees that are prodding some senators to conclude the hearings have become empty theater. More and more, the confirmation votes themselves seem a foregone conclusion, with senators hewing to the party line and many using their allotted time to launch political broadsides rather than seek information.
Former Top State Official to Plead Guilty for Helping Qatar
Yahoo News – Alan Sunderman and Jim Mustian (Associated Press) | Published: 4/27/2022
A former top-ranking State Department official will plead guilty for improperly helping Qatar influence U.S. policy and not disclosing on an ethics form gifts he received from a disgraced political fundraiser. Richard Olson, who was the State Department’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the end of the Obama administration, provided “aid and advice” to Qatar on lobbying activities in violation of a “revolving door” prohibition against such behavior for one year after leaving public service.
Gas Giants Have Been Ghostwriting Letters of Support from Elected Officials
Yahoo Finance – Chris D’Angelo (HuffPost) | Published: 5/2/2022
For the past several months, local officials in Virginia and North Carolina, primarily elected Republicans, have been peppering federal regulators with glowing letters in support of gas projects in their states. Internal emails show these letters all had something in common – they were ghostwritten by lobbyists and consultants of the two major pipeline firms behind those projects. The communications show how Williams Companies and TC Energy Corporation worked to boost political support for a number of natural gas infrastructure projects currently under federal review.
How a Billionaires Boys’ Club Came to Dominate the Public Square
MSN – Michael Scherer and Sarah Ellison (Washington Post) | Published: 5/1/2022
Technological change and the fortunes it created have given a small club of wealthy individuals the ability to play arbiter, moderator, and bankroller of not only the information that feeds the nation’s discourse but also the architecture that undergirds it. The information that courses over these networks is increasingly produced by publications controlled by fellow billionaires and other wealthy dynasties, who have filled the void of the collapsing profit-making journalism market with varying combinations of self-interest and altruism. It is a situation that has alarmed policy experts at both ends of the increasingly vicious ideological and partisan divides.
Jan. 6 Panel Wants Testimony from GOP Lawmakers Brooks, Biggs, Jackson
Yahoo News – Rebecca Beitsch (The Hill) | Published: 5/2/2022
The House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol is seeking voluntary testimony from three additional members of Congress who appeared to have some coordination with rioters and efforts to block President Biden’s electoral victory both before and after the attack. The letter to Rep. Mo Brooks notes former President Trump asked him to help keep him in office even after January 6. A letter to Rep. Andy Biggs references his involvement in discussions to secure presidential pardons in connection with efforts to unwind the 2020 election. A letter to Rep. Ronny Jackson points to exchanges between members of the Oath Keepers militia group citing the need to protect the lawmaker.
Judge Upholds Jan. 6 Committee Subpoena for RNC Records
Yahoo News – Kyle Cheney (Politico) | Published: 5/2/2022
A judge supported a House select committee’s effort to obtain internal Republican National Committee (RNC) data. In rejecting the RNC lawsuit, U.S. District Court Judge Tim Kelly said the committee had demonstrated its need for the party’s data on its fundraising emails between November 3, 2020, and January 6, 2021, when the RNC and Trump campaign sent supporters messages falsely suggesting the election was stolen. The committee contends those emails helped sow the seeds of the violence that erupted on January 6. The decision is a major victory for the panel and could open the doors to reams of internal RNC data held by Salesforce, a vendor the RNC used to run email fundraising campaigns.
Panel Sends FEC Nominee Dara Lindenbaum to Senate Floor
MSN – Kate Ackley (Roll Call) | Published: 5/3/2022
The Senate Rules and Administration Committee approved the nomination of Dara Lindenbaum to the FEC. Lindenbaum, an election lawyer, would fill the seat of Steven Walther, an independent who was picked by Democrats. Lindenbaum said she would recuse herself for two years from cases involving her own clients or those of her firm. Her client roster includes Stacey Abrams, who is running for governor this year and ran in 2018, as well as other federal, state, and local candidates and political committees.
Trump Officials Muzzled CDC on Church Covid Guidance, Emails Confirm
MSN – Dan Diamond (Washington Post) | Published: 4/28/2022
Trump White House officials in May 2020 removed public health advice urging churches to consider virtual religious services as the coronavirus spread, delivering a messaging change sought by the president’s supporters, according to emails from former top officials. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released reports saying the virus had killed three and infected dozens at church events in Arkansas and health experts had warned houses of worship had become hot spots for virus transmission. But Trump officials wrote they were frustrated by “problematic” advice the CDC had already posted. The guidance published by CDC did not include recommendations about offering virtual or drive-in options for religious services.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – A Top Ducey Aide Raised Nearly $13k from Lobbyists Whose Cash He Promised to Shun
Arizona Mirror – Dillon Rosenblatt | Published: 5/3/2022
When Matt Gress, the budget director for Gov. Doug Ducey, launched his campaign for the Arizona House in December, he promised not to accept any contributions from lobbyists during the legislative session to avoid the appearance his campaign might influence his work for the state. His first campaign finance report in 2022 shows he did not follow through on that promise.
California – ‘Pay to Play’ Governor Behest Payment Contracting Bill Killed by Senate Democrats
California Globe – Evan Symon | Published: 4/29/2022
A bill that would have prohibited state agencies in California from awarding contracts to companies that made behest payments on the governor’s behalf failed to pass the Senate Governmental Organization Committee. Senate Bill 1367 would have specifically prohibited state agencies from awarding a contract for which the agency had not secured at least three competitive bids or proposals to a company that made a payment at the behest of the governor in the preceding 12 months.
Colorado – Colorado Lawmakers Define ‘Major Purpose’ in Campaign Finance Laws, Clarify Who Must File Reports
Colorado Politics – Marianne Goodland | Published: 5/4/2022
A bill in the Colorado Senate would change campaign finance laws pertaining to issue committees, which deal with ballot measures. The bill’s main purpose is to define “major purpose” in campaign finance statutes and the parameters under which it would apply, particularly when it comes to issue committees. Senate Bill 237 would establish clear thresholds on spending, above which an organization would qualify as having a “major purpose” of supporting a ballot measure and which would trigger registration as an issue committee, as well as a requirement to file campaign finance reports.
Florida – Disney’s Special Tax District Pushes Back Against Law That Would Dissolve It
MSN – Lori Rozsa and Beth Reinhard (Washington Post) | Published: 4/28/2022
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis assailed Disney for siding with the LGBTQ community over a controversial law. But if DeSantis is looking to reshape Disney’s operations and its uniquely powerful control in the state, he may come up short. The details of the state’s dissolution of Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District are still being hashed out behind closed doors. But Reedy Creek is not waiting. The special taxing district, which encompasses most of Disney’s Central Florida properties and allows Disney to effectively self-govern, is already pushing back, indicating it plans to fight the dissolution of a 1967 compact with the state.
Georgia – City Fires Longtime Officials Who Were Mentioned During Bicker’s Corruption Trial
WSB – Richard Belcher | Published: 5/4/2022
The city of Atlanta fired two longtime city officials whose names came up in testimony during the Mitzi Bickers’ bribery trial. The star prosecution witness testified that Bickers, a former campaign aide to then-Mayor Kasim Reed, who later worked for his administration, told the witness that Cotena Alexander and Rita Braswell were “our people” at City Hall. Bickers was convicted of eight counts of bribery, money laundering.
Georgia – Stacey Abrams Switches Gears from Campaign Fundraising to Aiding Abortion Rights
MSN – Eugene Scott (Washington Post) | Published: 5/4/2022
Stacey Abrams, one of the Democratic Party’s most notable fundraisers, paused fundraising for her Georgia gubernatorial race to redirect funds to abortion rights groups after a draft Supreme Court opinion signaling the end to a constitutional right to abortion was made public. Abrams’ ability to temporarily redirect funds to groups working to expand abortion access is thought to be possible in part because she regularly beats her main GOP competitors, Gov. Brian Kemp and former U.S. Sen. David Perdue, in fundraising.
Georgia – Trump Election Probe Special Grand Jury Selected in Atlanta
MSN – Kate Brumback (Associated Press) | Published: 5/2/2022
A special grand jury was selected for the investigation into whether former President Trump and others illegally tried to influence the 2020 election in Georgia. The investigation has been underway since early last year, and Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis took this unusual step to help it along. She noted in a letter to the chief judge that the special grand jury would be able to issue subpoenas to people who have refused to cooperate otherwise.
Idaho – Experts: Lawmaker rape case a ‘rare victory’ for sexual assault survivors
Idaho Press – Rebecca Boone (Associated Press) | Published: 4/30/2022
When a legislative intern came forward with rape allegations against an Idaho lawmaker last year, she was subjected to months of online harassment and abuse. She later testified about the attack at an ethics hearing, and some of the lawmaker’s supporters filmed her and chased her through the statehouse. The young woman took the stand to testify in his criminal trial and became so distraught she fled the courtroom. Aaron von Ehlinger’s rape conviction was a rare victory for prosecutors in a criminal justice system that can be fraught with trauma for sexual assault survivors, experts say.
Illinois – New Chicago IG Asked to Investigate City Clerk Anna Valencia’s Lobbying Connections
MSN – Mary Ann Ahern (WMAQ) | Published: 4/27/2022
For the first time in months, the city of Chicago has a new inspector general as Deborah Witzburg was unanimously approved for the position. Witzburg now officially replaces Joe Ferguson, who resigned after publicly criticizing Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration. One of her first acts in office will be to potentially look into City Clerk Anna Valencia’s office, with Ald. Silvana Tabares asking the new inspector general to investigate allegations the secretary of state candidate and her husband Reyahd Kazmi violated state lobbying rules.
Kansas – Kansas Ethics Panel to Redo Hearing After Questions Over Director’s Law License, Statehouse Probe
Yahoo News – Andrew Bahl (Topeka Capital-Journal) | Published: 4/27/2022
The Kansas Government Ethics Commission moved to grant a new hearing in a case involving an Overland Park civic group, after questions were raised about the law license of the agency’s director, Mark Skoglund. The move comes weeks after Skoglund’s law license was used as pretense by legislators to make a policy change that would have effectively removed him from office. While lawmakers eventually backed off on the plan, it was later revealed the proposal was offered as the ethics panel was investigating one of the state’s most high-profile groups and, potentially, Republican legislators.
Kentucky – Supreme Court Denies Former Top KY Dem’s Request to Overturn Campaign Finance Conviction
MSN – Austin Horn (Lexington Herald Leader) | Published: 5/4/2022
The U.S. Supreme Court denied Jerry Lundergan’s request to overturn his conviction for illegally funneling $200,000 to his daughter’s 2014 political campaign. The former Kentucky Democratic Party chairperson was convicted in 2018 for the contributions made through a corporation to daughter Alison Lundergan Grimes in her 2014 challenge against U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell. Lundergan’s petition argued the federal ban on corporate contributions is unconstitutional when applied to donations from a close family member.
Louisiana – ‘I See How This Looks’: Council grills top Cantrell official over ‘smart cities’ deal
The Lens – Michael Isaac Stein | Published: 4/27/2022
New Orleans City Council members grilled a top city official, Jonathan Rhodes, over a now-abandoned “smart cities” project he played a central role in developing, and which has become the subject of a formal council investigation over potential contract-rigging and conflicts-of-interest. The council formally requested the city’s inspector general to open an investigation into New Orleans’ bidding process. Questions have mounted about the process that led the city to award the project to a consortium of companies called Smart+Connected NOLA. Rhodes had been in contact with the consortium for months before the request for proposals was released and worked with a consultant that is partnered with those same companies.
Maryland – Treasurer Charged with Embezzlement from Annapolis Campaign Committee
Baltimore Sun – Dan Belson (Capital Gazette) | Published: 5/4/2022
The Office of the State Prosecutor in Maryland announced it filed embezzlement charges against the treasurer of a Democratic political committee for Annapolis-area candidates, alleging she deposited more than $4,000 in campaign funds into a personal bank account. Prosecutors allege Alexandra Gilbreath, treasurer of Team 30 Slate, deposited funds from the committee into her personal Venmo account for an almost three-month span in 2018. She then used the funds for personal expenses, charging papers say. Prosecutors also accuse Gilbreath of failing to file or amend four campaign finance reports for the committee.
Massachusetts – Former State Police Head and Three Others Violated Ethics Law by Altering Arrest Report for Judge’s Daughter, Ethics Commission Alleges
MSN – Andrea Estes (Boston Globe) | Published: 4/29/2022
Richard McKeon, the former head of the Massachusetts State Police, violated the state’s conflict-of-interest law when he ordered a trooper to remove embarrassing remarks from the arrest report of a judge’s daughter, lawyers for the state Ethics Commission charged. Commission lawyers also allege Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early Jr., as well as his First Assistant Jeffrey Travers, and State Police Major Susan Anderson abused their positions to help the judge after his daughter was arrested and charged with operating under the influence of alcohol and drugs. They asked the Ethics Commission’s hearing officer to find the four violated the law and impose fines up to $20,000 apiece.
Michigan – FBI Raids Home in New Public Corruption Probe in Metro Detroit
Detroit News – Robert Snell and Mike Martindale | Published: 5/3/2022
Federal agents arrested two Wayne County employees accused of using taxpayer money to buy power equipment worth more than $1.7 million they later sold for personal profit. The allegations against Wayne County Roads Division manager Kevin Gunn and foreman John Gibson involved 596 generators and other power equipment that was never supplied or used by the county. The alleged scheme involved Gunn soliciting county vendors to buy generators, lawnmowers, chainsaws, and backpack blowers from area retailers. The case marks the latest federal investigation of corruption within the ranks of government in Metro Detroit.
Minnesota – Minneapolis City Council Blocks Chamber Consulting Gift to Improve Mayor Frey’s Office Efficiency
Minneapolis Star Tribune – Liz Navratil | Published: 4/28/2022
Mayor Jacob Frey cannot receive consulting services from the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce after a city council vote fell one short of the number that he needed to accept the gift. The chamber intended to loan a staffer to the mayor’s office for several weeks in hopes she could advise the office on how to improve their efficiency. Some council members raised concerns about the arrangement, noting the chamber supported a ballot initiative last fall that granted the mayor more power over the city’s daily operations.
Mississippi – Governor Vetoes Bill Tweaking Campaign Finance Law
Daily Journal – Taylor Vance | Published: 5/4/2022
The way Mississippi holds its politicians accountable for skirting state campaign finance law is convoluted with large gaps in the enforcement process. It appears that will not change anytime soon. Gov. Tate Reeves vetoed legislation that would have transferred the power to levy fines against candidates who fail to file campaign finance reports on time from the state Ethics Commission to the Mississippi secretary of state’s office. The snag in the current process is that it forces three different state organizations to share responsibilities for issuing fines, leading to a confusing process.
New Jersey – A Toxic Culture Exists in N.J. Politics, Campaigns, Experts Say. This Lesson Aims to Prevent Harassment.
MSN – Susan Livio (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 4/29/2022
Three out of four people who are targeted with unwelcome sexual remarks or physical contact at work never file a sexual harassment complaint, according to experts who have studied the issue. For people who work on a political campaign or have a job in New Jersey politics, the YWCA of Northern New Jersey and New Jersey State Bar Association Foundation created a video tutorial to let everyone to know that “toxic culture” is not acceptable. The video, made with the help of some of the state’s most prominent women in politics, will be sent to every campaign and political body that can be located, beginning in June.
New York – Gov. Hochul Taps Rep. Antonio Delgado as New Lieutenant Governor
Gotham Gazette – Brigid Bergin | Published: 5/3/2022
U.S. Gov. Kathy Hochul moved to fill the vacant lieutenant governor position, tapping U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado to take the role. Hochul is the first woman to serve as governor of New York. Delgado is the first person of color to represent the 19th Congressional District. He is the first person of African American and Hispanic descent to be the state’s lieutenant governor. A representative of a predominantly white and rural congressional district, Delgado has emphasized his ability to work across the aisle. His campaign website touts the two awards he won for his bipartisanship from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
New York – Hochul Pens Legal Path for Former Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin to Drop Off Primary Ballot
Yahoo News – Rob Hackford (WGRZ) | Published: 5/2/2022
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed legislation that gives disgraced former Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin a legal path to get off the state’s primary ballot. Hochul’s signature came almost immediately after the Legislature got it passed despite a limited timeline and political criticism. The law allows any candidate for local, state, or federal office to remove themselves from a ballot if they have had an accusatory instrument filed against them in state court; had a criminal complaint or indictment filed against them in federal court; been convicted at any time after they are designated or nominated.
New York – Judge Won’t Revive NY Political Maps That Favored Democrats
Yahoo News – Marina Villeneuve (Associated Press) | Published: 5/4/2022
A federal judge refused to order New York to hold its congressional and state Senate primaries this spring using district maps declared unconstitutional by state judges, saying a legal effort by Democrats to revive the maps looked unlikely to succeed. Replacement maps are now being drawn by an independent scholar at Carnegie Mellon University under the supervision of a state judge. The judge ordered the state’s primaries for Congress and state Senate moved from June to August so the redistricting process would have enough time to play out.
New York – Trump Grand Jury Ending in N.Y. with No Charges Against Ex-President
MSN – Shayna Jacobs, Josh Dawsey, and Jonathan O’Connell (Washington Post) | Published: 4/29/2022
A New Yor City grand jury that was convened late last year to hear evidence against Donald Trump was set to expire, closing a chapter in a lengthy criminal investigation that appears to be fizzling out without charges against the former president, people familiar with matter said. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who took office in January, inherited a probe launched by his predecessor, Cyrus Vance Jr., who was convinced there was a case against Trump for crimes related to manipulating the value of property assets to secure tax advantages or better loan rates.
North Carolina – Federal Court Considers Ruling That Blocked Madison Cawthorn Eligibility Challenge
Yahoo News – Gary Robertson (Associated Press) | Published: 5/4/2022
A federal appeals court questioned whether a lower court got it right when it blocked a challenge of U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn’s candidacy by voters who cited a section of the Constitution addressing insurrection as disqualifying him. Three judges on the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in a lawsuit that Cawthorn filed to derail the formal challenge sent to the State Board of Elections in North Carolina from going forward. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Myers ruled for Cawthorn in March and prevented the board from formally examining whether he should remain on ballots, and the voters appealed.
Ohio – A Limited Ban on Developer Campaign Donations Goes into Effect This Month
WVXU – Becca Costello | Published: 5/4/2022
A ban on some campaign donations to Cincinnati City Council members and the mayor takes effect on May 26. Interim City Manager John Curp recently approved regulations for the “solicitation ban” the council passed last year. The rules prohibit sitting council members and the mayor from soliciting or accepting campaign donations from someone with active business at the council, starting from the day the ordinance is filed with the council clerk. A new Office of Ethics and Good Government has been working on the regulations since last fall.
Ohio – Election 2022: JD Vance wins Ohio’s GOP Senate primary
MSN – Jill Colvin and Julie Carr Smyth (Associated Press) | Published: 5/4/2022
“Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance won Ohio’s contentious Republican U.S. Senate primary on, buoyed by Donald Trump’s endorsement in a race that was an early test of the former president’s hold on his party as the midterm season kicks into high gear. A onetime critic of Trump, Vance spent much of the campaign behind in the polls. But an endorsement from Trump pushed him to frontrunner status and the two men downplayed Vance’s past scathing criticism of the former president, with Vance saying he was wrong. He now faces Democrat Tim Ryan in the general election race to fill the seat being vacated by retiring U.S. Sen. Rob Portman.
Tennessee – Campaign Finance Reform Bill Passes After McNally Issues Rebuke of Dark-Money Groups
Yahoo News – Adam Friedman (Tennessean) | Published: 4/28/2022
Tennessee lawmakers passed House Bill 1201, which requires 501(c)4s, often considered “dark money” organizations, to disclose any expenses over $5,000 in the 60 days leading up to an election when using candidate names and images. The bill’s final version would enhance several disclosure laws around campaign service companies and make various changes to increase transparency with the Registry of Election Finance. Some of the provisions directly respond to actions by former speaker and current Rep. Glen Casada and former Rep. Robin Smith. In March, Smith pleaded guilty to a federal wire fraud charge.
Texas – Lobby Ordinance Needs Revision to Cover Virtual Meetings
Austin Monitor – Jo Clifton | Published: 5/4/2022
Auditors have found that while Austin’s registered lobbyists are largely complying with city regulations, there is one significant gap in the reporting requirements. Although lobbyists are required to report their in-person meetings, no such requirement exists for virtual meetings, according to a report discussed at a city council committee. Some offices use an electronic form while others use the electronic calendars to keep up with virtual lobbyist meetings, but nothing in city code requires either the lobbyist or the person being lobbied to keep a record.
Vermont – After Years in Committee Limbo, a Statewide Ethics Code Is Finally Adopted in Vermont
VTDigger.org – Sarah Mearhoff | Published: 5/4/2022
Gov. Phil Scott signed a bill that establishes a code of ethics in Vermont. Senate Bill 171 establishes baseline ethics rules for public officials in state government. It sets boundaries around conflicts-of-interest, preferential treatment, gifts, outside employment, the use of state employment for personal gain, among other provisions. It also protects whistleblowers from retaliation. Before the bill passed, Vermont was one of only five states without statewide codes of ethics for officials.
Virginia – Youngkin’s Move to Force Loudoun School Board Elections Called ‘Troubling’
MSN – Gregory Schneider and Laura Vozzella (Washington Post) | Published: 4/30/2022
Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s attempt to force the entire Loudon County School Board to face new elections this fall, shortening the terms of most of its members, stunned many political observers as an intrusion into local election integrity without modern precedent in Virginia. The plan, aimed at a school board that Youngkin has made a constant political target, initially won approval from the Republican-controlled House. But the Democratic-controlled Senate killed it, with one Republican senator joining the vote against a measure he called “troubling.”
Washington – Republican Spokane County Commissioner Candidate Gets Partial Exemption from Campaign Finance Requirements
Yahoo News – Colin Tiernan (Spokane Spokesman-Review) | Published: 4/29/2022
The Public Disclosure Commission voted to allow Kim Plese, a Republican candidate for Spokane County commissioner, to withhold the names of clients who spent more than $12,000 at her printing business for a one-year time-period, so long as those clients are not governmental entities or candidates for elected office. Washington law requires candidates for elected office to disclose a wide range of financial information. In Plese’s case, that means sharing recent transaction records for the business she owned for more than 30 years, Plese Printing and Marketing. Plese did not want to share records of sales greater than $12,000.
Washington DC – Trump Organizations Agree to Pay $750,000 to Settle Lawsuit with District
MSN – Keith Alexander (Washington Post) | Published: 5/3/2022
The Trump Organization and Trump’s Presidential Inaugural Committee agreed to pay the District of Columbia $750,000 to settle a lawsuit the city filed alleging the organizations misused nonprofit funds to benefit the former president and his family. The city filed a lawsuit in 2020 alleging the Inaugural Committee, a nonprofit corporation, coordinated with Trump’s family to overpay for event space in the Trump International Hotel and even paid for space on days when it did not hold events, among other malfeasance.
May 5, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “Panel Sends FEC Nominee Dara Lindenbaum to Senate Floor” by Kate Ackley (Roll Call) for MSN Arizona: “A Top Ducey Aide Raised Nearly $13k from Lobbyists Whose Cash He Promised to Shun” by Dillon Rosenblatt for Arizona […]
National: “Panel Sends FEC Nominee Dara Lindenbaum to Senate Floor” by Kate Ackley (Roll Call) for MSN
Arizona: “A Top Ducey Aide Raised Nearly $13k from Lobbyists Whose Cash He Promised to Shun” by Dillon Rosenblatt for Arizona Mirror
Kentucky: “Supreme Court Denies Former Top KY Dem’s Request to Overturn Campaign Finance Conviction” by Austin Horn (Lexington Herald Leader) for MSN
Ohio: “A Limited Ban on Developer Campaign Donations Goes into Effect This Month” by Becca Costello for WVXU
North Carolina: “Federal Court Considers Ruling That Blocked Madison Cawthorn Eligibility Challenge” by Gary Robertson (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
New York: “Gov. Hochul Taps Rep. Antonio Delgado as New Lieutenant Governor” by Brigid Bergin for Gotham Gazette
Vermont: “After Years in Committee Limbo, a Statewide Ethics Code Is Finally Adopted in Vermont” by Sarah Mearhoff for VTDigger.org
Texas: “Lobby Ordinance Needs Revision to Cover Virtual Meetings” by Jo Clifton for Austin Monitor
New York: “Judge Won’t Revive NY Political Maps That Favored Democrats” by Marina Villeneuve (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
May 4, 2022 •
Elections National: “Democrats Hope Draft Abortion Opinion Will Jolt Midterm Elections” by Sarah Ferris and Marianne LeViner (Politico) for Yahoo News Georgia: “Trump Election Probe Special Grand Jury Selected in Atlanta” by Kate Brumback (Associated Press) for MSN New York: […]
National: “Democrats Hope Draft Abortion Opinion Will Jolt Midterm Elections” by Sarah Ferris and Marianne LeViner (Politico) for Yahoo News
Georgia: “Trump Election Probe Special Grand Jury Selected in Atlanta” by Kate Brumback (Associated Press) for MSN
New York: “Hochul Pens Legal Path for Former Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin to Drop Off Primary Ballot” by Rob Hackford (WGRZ) for Yahoo News
Ohio: “Election 2022: JD Vance wins Ohio’s GOP Senate primary” by Jill Colvin and Julie Carr Smyth (Associated Press) for MSN
National: “Jan. 6 Panel Wants Testimony from GOP Lawmakers Brooks, Biggs, Jackson” by Rebecca Beitsch (The Hill) for Yahoo News
Michigan: “FBI Raids Home in New Public Corruption Probe in Metro Detroit” by Robert Snell and Mike Martindale for Detroit News
Washington DC: “Trump Organizations Agree to Pay $750,000 to Settle Lawsuit with District” by Keith Alexander (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Gas Giants Have Been Ghostwriting Letters of Support from Elected Officials” by Chris D’Angelo (HuffPost) for Yahoo Finance
May 2, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Tennessee: “Campaign Finance Reform Bill Passes After McNally Issues Rebuke of Dark-Money Groups” by Adam Friedman (Tennessean) for Yahoo News Ethics National: “Trump Officials Muzzled CDC on Church Covid Guidance, Emails Confirm” by Dan Diamond (Washington Post) for […]
Tennessee: “Campaign Finance Reform Bill Passes After McNally Issues Rebuke of Dark-Money Groups” by Adam Friedman (Tennessean) for Yahoo News
National: “Trump Officials Muzzled CDC on Church Covid Guidance, Emails Confirm” by Dan Diamond (Washington Post) for MSN
Louisiana: “‘I See How This Looks’: Council grills top Cantrell official over ‘smart cities’ deal” by Michael Isaac Stein for The Lens
Minnesota: “Minneapolis City Council Blocks Chamber Consulting Gift to Improve Mayor Frey’s Office Efficiency” by Liz Navratil for Minneapolis Star Tribune
New Jersey: “A Toxic Culture Exists in N.J. Politics, Campaigns, Experts Say. This Lesson Aims to Prevent Harassment.” by Susan Livio (NJ Advance Media) for MSN
National: “Former Top State Official to Plead Guilty for Helping Qatar” by Alan Sunderman and Jim Mustian (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
Florida: “Disney’s Special Tax District Pushes Back Against Law That Would Dissolve It” by Lori Rozsa and Beth Reinhard (Washington Post) for MSN
Illinois: “New Chicago IG Asked to Investigate City Clerk Anna Valencia’s Lobbying Connections” by Mary Ann Ahern (WMAQ) for MSN
April 29, 2022 •
National/Federal Amid the War in Ukraine, PR Firms Defend Russian-Tied Clients MSN – Hailey Fuchs (Politico) | Published: 4/26/2022 Several wealthy businesspeople from Eastern Europe have turned to public relations professionals to help navigate press coverage emanating from Russia’s assault on […]
Amid the War in Ukraine, PR Firms Defend Russian-Tied Clients
MSN – Hailey Fuchs (Politico) | Published: 4/26/2022
Several wealthy businesspeople from Eastern Europe have turned to public relations professionals to help navigate press coverage emanating from Russia’s assault on Ukraine. It has created a unique business opportunity for Madison Avenue and beyond. They want to make sure the press does not tie them to the Kremlin or describe them as oligarchs. Whereas K Street and some law firms have worked to distance themselves from Russian interests, public relations professionals have stepped in to help illuminate the distinctions between those businesspeople tied to Putin and those who want nothing to do with him.
Bill Subjecting U.S. Judges to More Financial Disclosure Passes Congress
Yahoo News – Nate Raymond (Reuters) | Published: 4/27/2022
Legislation that would subject U.S. Supreme Court justices and federal judges to tougher disclosure requirements for their financial holdings and stock trades passed the House in a rare show of bipartisanship. The bill, approved on a voice vote after winning Senate passage in February, would make it easier for the public to see if a member of the federal judiciary has a financial conflict-of-interest warranting recusal from hearing a case. Lawmakers introduced the bill after The Wall Street Journal reported more than 130 federal judges had failed to recuse themselves from cases involving companies in which they or their family members owned stock.
Democrats Ramp Up Investigation into Impact of Disinformation on Elections
MSN – Jacqueline Alemany (Washington Post) | Published: 4/21/2022
House Democrats are seeking information from officials in key battleground states about their efforts to combat “lies and conspiracy theories” that could damage the integrity of federal elections as part of a broader investigation into the “weaponization of misinformation and disinformation” in the electoral process. The leaders of the House Oversight and Reform and House Administration committees sent letters to election officials in Florida, Arizona, Texas, and Ohio – all Republican-led states – requesting the information while noting their concern about new laws affecting election administration.
Ethics of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Other Justices Questioned at Hearing
MSN – Ella Lee (USA Today) | Published: 4/28/2022
Experts and lawmakers questioned how strict ethics rules should be for U.S. Supreme Court justices, a topic that has gained importance recently with revelations that Ginni Thomas, the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, supported efforts to challenge the 2020 presidential election results. But the discussion at a House subcommittee hearing largely split along party lines. Republicans accused reform proponents of partisan and racial attacks against Justice Thomas. Democrats pointed to ethical lapses of justices appointed by both parties and the importance of the appearance of impartiality, in addition to impartiality as defined by law.
Feds Could Accept Donations of Up to $10K for Legal Funds Under First-Ever Ethics Rule
Government Executive – Eric Katz | Published: 4/22/2022
The Office of Government Ethics (OGE) issued first-of-its-kind guidelines for federal employees who accept donations to pay for job-related legal fees, easing the restrictions on receiving gifts that the workers typically face. The proposed rule followed high-profile Trump administration officials drawing scrutiny for their use of such funds. The OGE said the rule, while expanding the universe of individuals from whom federal employees can accept gifts, would help avoid perceptions of civil servants using their public office for private gain.
GOP Texts Cast Renewed Spotlight on Post-2020 Election Efforts
MSN – Jacqueline Alemany and Felicia Sonmez (Washington Post) | Published: 4/25/2022
Newly revealed text messages between then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and congressional Republicans including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene cast a renewed spotlight on communication between the Trump White House and allies determined to overturn the results of the 2020 election or stoke chaos in its aftermath. The texts involving dozens of GOP members of Congress prompted calls for a panel investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol to reconsider issuing subpoenas or other punitive measures against lawmakers who were involved with peddling dubious legal theories that might have contributed to the deadly assault.
McCarthy Said Trump Acknowledged ‘Some Responsibility’ for Attack on Jan. 6
Seattle Times – Alexander Burns and Neil Vigdor (New York Times) | Published: 4/22/2022
Then-House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy told Republican lawmakers in the days after the attack on the U.S. Capitol that former President Trump acknowledged he bore “some responsibility” for what happened that day. The audio, obtained by The New York Times, is part of a series of revelations about GOP leaders’ private condemnations of Trump in the days after his supporters stormed the Capitol. The revelation comes as congressional investigators scour for evidence of Trump’s involvement in his supporters’ failed attempt to block the official certification of his loss in the 2020 election.
Paid Protesters, Free Lunches and Backroom Chats: Inside the menthol lobbying machine
Bureau of Investigative Journalism – Emily Baumgaertner (Los Angeles Times), Ben Stockton, and Ryan Lindsay | Published: 4/25/2022
Menthol cigarettes are the choice of 85% of Black smokers, the result of decades of targeted marketing in Black communities. Cities have banned the sale of menthol-flavored cigarettes. As the Food and Drug Administration considers a nationwide ban, the owner of the country’s most popular menthol brand has waged a huge lobbying and public relations campaign to keep them in the hands of smokers. An investigation reveals how consultants working for Reynolds American have exploited concerns about police brutality against Black citizens and at times failed to declare their links to the industry.
Rep. Ronny Jackson’s Campaign Paid for Dues at Private Social Club
MSN – Chris Marquette (Roll Call) | Published: 4/25/2022
U.S. Rep. Ronny Jackson tapped his campaign account for more than $2,300 in costs associated with membership at a private social club in Texas, campaign finance records show. Jackson spent campaign donor money at the posh Amarillo Club on what were described in some disclosures to the FEC as membership fees or dues. It is illegal to spend campaign funds for personal purposes. “These costs are strictly associated with campaign and fundraising events,” Casey Nelson, a spokesperson for Jackson, said in a statement.
Trump Officials Overruled Pentagon to Approve Pandemic Loan, Emails Show
MSN – Yeganeh Torbati and Jeff Stein (Washington Post) | Published: 4/27/2022
Senior Trump administration officials overruled Pentagon staffers to provide a politically connected trucking firm with hundreds of millions of dollars in pandemic aid after a concerted lobbying effort, according to documents released by House Democrats. Career employees at the Defense Department decided they should not certify Yellow Corp. was critical to maintaining national security, which would mean the company could not qualify for a loan program created by Congress, the investigation found. But the Trump appointees ignored that determination after a phone call between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
Twitter Has Been Focused on ‘Healthy Conversations.’ Elon Musk Could Change That
MSN – Sarah Ashley O’Brien and Clare Duffy (CNN) | Published: 4/26/2022
Twitter has banned many accounts promoting abuse and spam, added labels for false or misleading information, and launched a team dedicated to studying and increasing transparency around the technology that determines what content is promoted on the site. But some critics say the work Twitter has done in recent years could be unraveled now that Elon Musk acquired Twitter in a deal worth about $44 billion. Twitter has an outsized influence in the online (and offline) world because it is popular among influential figures, and because it has often acted as a model for other platforms on how to address thorny harmful content issues.
Canada – Conservatives Ask If Trudeau Used ‘Get Out of Jail Free Card’ Before 2016 Aga Khan Vacation
CBC – Staff | Published: 4/25/2022
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) examined the possibility of charging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with fraud after investigating his 2016 family vacation on the Aga Khan’s private island in the Bahamas. The police force ultimately decided not to pursue a criminal investigation of the trip, which was separately examined by former ethics commissioner Mary Dawson. The RCMP’s decision responded, in part, to a nuance in the law that makes it possible for sitting prime ministers to grant themselves consent to receive gifts that otherwise would constitute fraud against the government.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – A Top GOP Prosecutor Said Trump Lost. Running for Senate, He Has a New Message.
MSN – Hannah Knowles (Washington Post) | Published: 4/23/2022
As false claims of a stolen election took root in 2020, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican, spoke out on national television. Donald Trump was projected to lose the swing state, he said, and “no facts” suggested that would change. But Brnovich recently called into a far-right podcast with a different message: his investigation into the vote was turning up “serious concerns.” Many GOP candidates have embraced the former president’s false election claims while seeking an endorsement in their 2022 primary races. But Brnovich, now running for U.S. Senate, stands out for his shift over the past year and a half.
California – Beverly Hills Developer Agrees to Plead Guilty in Bribery Scheme
MSN – Christopher Goffard (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 4/27/2022
Developer Arman Gabaee agreed to plead guilty to bribing a former Los Angeles County real estate official in connection with a lucrative lease scheme, a charge that could bring a 10-year federal prison term. Gabaee paid the county employee, Thomas Shepos, about $1,000 a month from around 2011 to 2017, according to the plea agreement. In exchange, Shepos gave non-public information to Gabaee and got him favorable terms on county deals. Shepos cooperated with the FBI and secretly recorded meetings at which Gabaee paid $6,000 in cash bribes.
California – ‘People’s Convoy’ Truckers Driven Out After Youths, Residents Egged Them
MSN – Timothy Bella (Washington Post) | Published: 4/26/2022
A trucker convoy were blasting their horns and crowding the roadway outside the East Bay home of California Assembly member Buffy Wicks. The truckers said on a live stream they were targeting the Democrat because she had proposed a bill preventing coroners from investigating stillbirths and other lost pregnancies. Another bill she proposed calls for employers to mandate that workers be vaccinated against the coronavirus. It turns out that residents of the neighborhood, including the younger ones, were not happy with the hulking rigs disrupting their lives. Video shows people pelting the trucks with eggs and shouting, “Get out of our town!”
California – Riverside Man Who Was LADWP General Manager Sentenced to 6 Years in Prison in Bribery Scheme
Riverside Press-Enterprise – City News Service | Published: 4/25/2022
A former top executive of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) was sentenced to six years in federal prison for his role in a bribery scheme stemming from a probe of the city’s handling of the botched launch of a DWP billing system. David Wright will also pay a fine of $75,000. Prosecutors said Wright accepted bribes from a lawyer in exchange for supporting a $30 million, no-bid DWP contract. The lawyer named in the case, Paul Paradis, pleaded guilty to a federal bribery count and is awaiting sentencing.
California – Villanueva Backs Off Investigation of Times Reporter Who Revealed Cover-Up
MSN – Harriet Ryan and Brittny Mejia (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 4/26/2022
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva criticized Los Angeles Times reporter Alene Tchekmedyian during a news conference in which he suggested two longtime foes leaked to the journalist a surveillance video showing a deputy kneeling on the head of a handcuffed inmate. Villanueva noted a list of possible felonies under investigation in the case, including conspiracy and burglary. The sheriff termed the video stolen property. The U.S. Supreme Court has held journalists generally cannot be held liable for publishing leaked materials that are about matters of public concern, even if the reporter knew or should have known they were obtained illegally.
Connecticut – A CT Group Home Director Wants to Cash in on Her State-Funded Properties
CT Mirror – Andrew Brown | Published: 4/24/2022
For nearly four decades, Malcolm and Margaret Winkley have run a pair of nonprofits in Connecticut that serve individuals with developmental disabilities. Over the course of those 40 years, the husband and wife used their authority over the two organizations, and the taxpayer money they received, to amass millions of dollars’ worth of real estate. Records show the couple held the titles for group homes while the nonprofits used state and federal funding to pay the taxes, insurance, and mortgages on those properties. That arrangement was specifically called out in an ethics opinion in 1999.
Florida – Voting Rights Groups Sue Florida Over New Congressional Map
Yahoo News – Gary Fineout (Politico) | Published: 4/22/2022
Several voting rights and civil rights organizations as well as a Democratic-aligned redistricting group sued over Florida’s new congressional map on the same day Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the map into law. The map hands significant gains to Republicans and dismantles the North Florida seat now held by a Black Democrat. In their filings, the groups challenging the map contend the proposal violates Florida’s voter-approved anti-gerrymandering standards that were first approved by voters back in 2010.
Georgia – Greene Says She Can’t Remember If She Urged Trump to Impose Martial Law
MSN – Matthew Brown and Felicia Sonmez (Washington Post) | Published: 4/21/2022
U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, testifying about her alleged role in the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol as part of a case seeking to disqualify her from seeking reelection, said she could not remember whether she urged then-President Trump to impose martial law to remain in power. The exchange marked one of dozens of times during the hearing that Greene said she could not recall her tweets or statements related to the attack. Greene’s appearance in an Atlanta courtroom represented one of the first times a member of Congress has been questioned under oath about the insurrection.
Illinois – Ethics Chair Proposes Sweeping Package of Ethics Reforms
Chicago Sun-Times – Fran Spielman | Published: 4/22/2022
Chicago Ald. Michele Smith unveiled a sweeping package of ethics reforms. Provisions include empowering the city Board of Ethics to levy fines as high as $20,000 for violations, quadruple the current maximum, plus the “entire amount of the ill-gotten gains.” It would extend the $1,500 limit on campaign contributions within an election cycle to sub-contractors and applying that limit to other agencies of local government. “The whole idea of ‘I got a guy at City Hall’ – we’re trying to end that,” said Smith, who chairs the council’s Committee on Ethics and Government Oversight.
Illinois – Former Crestwood Mayor Louis Presta Sentenced to 1 Year in Prison in Red Light Camera Bribery Case
WBBM – Todd Feurer | Published: 4/25/2022
Former Crestwood Mayor Louis Presta was sentenced to one year and one day in prison after pleading guilty to taking a $5,000 bribe from a red-light camera company executive in 2018. Presta, who resigned from office a day before pleading guilty to federal bribery and tax charges in November, was caught on camera accepting an envelope containing $5,000 in cash from former SafeSpeed executive Omar Maani, and then lied about it when questioned by the FBI and IRS, falsely claiming the envelope was empty.
Indiana – Candidate with Ties to Troubled Casino Wants Indiana Statehouse Seat – Again
Yahoo News – Tony Cook (Indianapolis Star) | Published: 4/26/2022
Former Indiana Rep. Matthew Whetstone resigned his seat in 2007 to become a lobbyist, then returned to the statehouse as parliamentarian for the House speaker in 2013, only to leave in 2015 to create his own lobbying firm. Now, Whetstone wants to return to the General Assembly. Critics say Whetstone’s case is a particularly egregious example of the “revolving door” culture at the Capitol, where government officials often seek private sector jobs to cash in on their public service. The state has a one-year waiting period for those who leave government service to become lobbyists, but there is no restriction for lobbyists who want to become lawmakers.
Iowa – Watchdogs Troubled by Ties to Iowa Government by Those Behind Carbon Dioxide Pipeline
Minneapolis Star Tribune – Leah Douglas (Reuters) | Published: 4/25/2022
Summit Carbon Solutions, the company behind a carbon pipeline proposal in the Midwest, has close ties to Iowa officials and regulators charged with approving a large part of its route. The proposed Midwest Carbon Express pipeline would connect customers such as ethanol plants in Iowa and Minnesota to a carbon storage facility in North Dakota. Iowa would host the longest portion of the pipeline. At least four members of Summit’s leadership have direct links to the Iowa governor’s office or the Iowa Utility Board, both of which could influence the future of the roughly 2,000-mile pipeline.
Kansas – Judge Strikes Down Kansas Map, Finding Lawmakers Intended to Dilute Minority Voter Power
MSN – Jonathan Shorman and Katie Bernard (Kansas City Star) | Published: 4/25/2022
A Kansas judge tossed the state’s Republican-drawn congressional map, finding the Legislature intentionally diluted minority votes in a partisan and political gerrymander that violated the state constitution. The decision by Wyandotte County District Court Judge Bill Klapper is a victory for a group of voters who challenged the map, arguing it violated guarantees of voting rights, equal rights, and free speech in the Kansas Constitution. It is the first time in Kansas history a state court has ruled against a congressional map.
Maryland – Ohio Bribery Scandal Hits Home in Md. – and Utility Customers May Be Footing the Bill
Maryland Matters – Josh Kurtz | Published: 4/21/2022
In 2020, then-Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and four of his associates were arrested in a bribery scandal. The aftershocks are still being felt in Maryland. Householder and the four operatives were charged in a federal criminal complaint of accepting $61 million in bribes from FirstEnergy to pass legislation that provided a $1.5 billion taxpayer-funded bailout for the utility’s nuclear power plants. FirstEnergy is the parent company of Potomac Edison, the electric utility that serves customers in Western Maryland. A consumer watchdog in the state is trying to figure out how much the Ohio scandal is costing ratepayers in Maryland.
Michigan – Monica Conyers a ‘Candidate’ for Wayne County Executive, but Banned from Serving
Detroit News – James David Jackson | Published: 4/27/2022
Former Detroit City Council President Monica Conyers set herself up for a comeback on April 19, when she filed to run as a Democrat in the Wayne County executive race. But she is banned from being elected to office under Michigan law since she pleaded guilty in 2009 to one federal count of conspiracy to commit bribery. Conyers was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison for accepting money in exchange for her vote on a $1 billion sludge-hauling deal.
Minnesota – A Candidate Gave a Speech While in Labor – Then Had to Withdraw from the Race to Give Birth
MSN – Amy Wang (Washington Post) | Published: 4/25/2022
For months, a running joke inside Erin Maye Quade’s campaign for the Minnesota Senate was that the candidate, pregnant with her first child, might give birth April 23, the day Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party delegates would gather to vote on who would be the party’s nominee for the race. It would be a grueling convention, packed with speeches, in-person campaigning for delegates’ support, and potentially multiple rounds of balloting. As fate would have it, on the day of the convention, Maye Quade texted her campaign manager to let him know she had gone into labor four hours earlier.
Missouri – Dueker Deregisters as Lobbyist to Fundraise for St. Louis County Executive Race
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Nasim Benchaabane | Published: 4/26/2022
Local police union attorney Jane Dueker deregistered as a lobbyist to open her own campaign account for the Democratic primary for St. Louis County executive. Dueker, who had previously argued it was not necessary to fundraise for her campaign, said her decision was based on “the overwhelming support I’m getting from voters in St. Louis County.” Missouri law forbids registered lobbyists from operating campaign accounts. JanePAC, a third-party PAC newly formed to support Dueker, recently accepted $10,000 from the St. Louis County Police Association, one of the unions Dueker had represented as a lobbyist.
New York – Judge Holds Trump in Contempt Over Documents in New York A.G.’s Inquiry
MSN – Jonah Bromwich, Ben Protess, and William Rashbaum (New York Times) | Published: 4/25/2022
A New York judge held Donald Trump in contempt of court for failing to turn over documents to the state’s attorney general, an extraordinary rebuke of the former president. The judge ordered Trump to comply with a subpoena seeking records and assessed a fine of $10,000 per day until he satisfied the court’s requirements. Alina Habba, a lawyer for Trump, said she intended to appeal the ruling. Still, the ruling represents a significant victory for New York Attorney General Letitia James, whose office is conducting a civil investigation into whether Trump falsely inflated the value of his assets in annual financial statements.
New York – Lt. Governor Indictment Puts Spotlight on State Campaign Finance Reform
Albany Times Union – Rebekah Ward | Published: 4/22/2022
When then-Lt. Governor Brian Benjamin was accused of taking fraudulent contributions for his 2021 failed bid for New York City comptroller, attention turned to a city agency soon to be mirrored at the state level: the Campaign Finance Board. Some proponents of statewide reform are lauding the role the city’s board appears to have had in spurring the indictment against Benjamin, which describes his attempt to defraud the city’s matching funds program. Detractors of the impending changes in the state’s campaign system say the alleged fraud does not bode well for a program that will soon see more taxpayer money spent on elections in New York.
New York – N.Y. Congressional Map Is Illegal and Must Be Redrawn, Court Says
MSN – Colby Itkowitz (Washington Post) | Published: 4/27/2022
New York’s highest court struck down the state’s new congressional map as unconstitutional, dealing a setback to Democrats ahead of this year’s midterm elections. The state’s Court of Appeals sided with Republicans, who sued over complaints that the new lines were drawn to help Democrats win more seats. The court called the map “substantively unconstitutional as drawn with impermissible partisan purpose.”
North Carolina – Former Representative Ends Campaign for NC House After Health Issues, Missing Finance Documents
Charlotte Observer – Will Wright | Published: 4/25/2022
Former state Rep. Rodney Moore’s return to politics started with a state-mandated prohibition on accepting campaign contributions. Moore was making his first bid for General Assembly since he was convicted of a felony charge in a campaign finance case in 2019. Moore announced on Twitter he was going to “withdraw my candidacy” for House District 112. He will still appear on ballots. Until earlier in April, he was barred from accepting campaign contributions in the new race. Records show Moore did not file a quarterly finance report from 2018 until April 7. He still owes the state several other required campaign disclosures.
North Dakota – State Senator to Resign After Report He Texted with Child Porn Suspect
MSN – Julian Mark (Washington Post) | Published: 4/25/2022
As Nicholas James Morgan-Derosier, accused of possessing child pornography, sat in a North Dakota jail in August 2021, he texted with people on the outside. Among them was one of the most powerful senators in the North Dakota Legislature. All told, state Sen. Ray Holmberg and Morgan-Derosier exchanged 72 text messages as Morgan-Derosier was being held on the child pornography charges, although it remains unclear exactly what they communicated about. Now Holmberg, the state’s longest-serving senator, announced his resignation.
Ohio – FirstEnergy Agrees to $37.5 Million Settlement to Resolve Ratepayer Lawsuits over HB6 Scandal
MSN – Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 4/22/2022
FirstEnergy reached a $37.5 million settlement to resolve four lawsuits filed by ratepayers who sued the utility over the House Bill 6 scandal. FirstEnergy had set aside the money to settle the suits that alleged the company committed civil federal and state anti-racketeering violations. FirstEnergy is still involved other lawsuits related to the legislation, which federal authorities say was passed thanks to $60 million in FirstEnergy bribe money distributed via a network overseen by then-Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder.
Ohio – Ohio State Superintendent of Public Instruction Finalist Led Job Search for the Position for Months Before Applying, Emails Show
Cleveland Plain Dealer – Laura Hancock | Published: 4/27/2022
A candidate on the short list for the open state superintendent of public instruction position led the superintendent search for several months, which provided him access to his competitors’ applications and other information. Steve Dackin was vice president of the Ohio State Board of Education before resigning. Former board members can apply for positions in the agency they have overseen, as long as the job search process is open and fair and “it is clear that they did not use the position, while on the board, to secure the job, and that the best and most qualified candidate is selected for the job,” according to an Ohio Ethics Commission summary of the law.
Oklahoma – Stitt Vetoes Bill Requiring Gubernatorial Appointees to File Financial Disclosure Forms
Yahoo News – Carmen Forman (Oklahoman) | Published: 4/27/2022
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt vetoed legislation that would require his appointed Cabinet secretaries and state agency directors to file financial disclosure forms. In his veto message, Stitt asked the Legislature to take a more holistic approach to requiring financial disclosures by also requesting the same information from legislative appointees to boards, commissions, and agency leadership positions.
Rhode Island – US Supreme Court Lets R.I. Election Finance Disclosure Law Stand
MSN – Edward Fitzpatrick (Boston Globe) | Published: 4/25/2022
The U.S. Supreme Court will not take up a challenge to Rhode Island’s campaign finance law. The state enacted the disclosure law in response to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which allowed corporations and other outside groups to spend unlimited amounts on elections. Two conservative groups claimed the law, which requires disclosures and disclaimers for independent expenditures or electioneering communications, violates the First Amendment and infringes on rights of privacy and association.
Tennessee – Tennessee Attorney General Takes Cade Cothren to Court Over Subpoena Issue
Yahoo News – Melissa Brown (Tennessean) | Published: 4/26/2022
The Tennessee attorney general asked a local court to compel former political aide Cade Cothren to explain why he refused to obey subpoenas issued in a campaign finance probe earlier this year. The court filing follows a Tennessee Registry of Election Finance investigation into Rep. Glen Casada and related PACs, which the registry referred to Williamson County prosecutors. Cothren’s attorney called the subpoenas an “abuse of process” and stated her client would invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Virginia – Lawsuit Targets Skill-Game Company Over Lobbying Effort Invoking Deceased Senator
Virginia Mercury – Graham Moomaw | Published: 4/26/2022
A lawsuit seeks $1.35 million in damages against business entities affiliated with Queen of Virginia, one of the state’s leading suppliers of the electronic gaming machines that have spread to many sports bars, convenience stores, and truck stops. The estate of the late Virginia Sen. Yvonne Miller is suing the company over a photograph of Miller used as part of a lobbying campaign near the end of the 2021 General Assembly session, when lawmakers were considering outlawing skill games.
Washington DC – D.C. Councilmember Brooke Pinto Broke Campaign Finance Law Last Year
DCist – Martin Austermuhle | Published: 4/26/2022
The fundraiser held on December 6, 2021, was seemingly routine: a small group of wealthy supporters gathered at the home of real estate developer Marc Duber to contribute up to $500 a person to District of Columbia Councilperson Brooke Pinto. “Help Brooke retire her 2020 campaign loans,” read an invitation for the event, which ultimately netted the first-term lawmaker just over $21,000. But the fundraiser was lot legal. Pinto ran afoul of a new law that prohibits candidates who win office from fundraising to pay off campaign debts more than six months after they are elected to office.
April 28, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Missouri: “Dueker Deregisters as Lobbyist to Fundraise for St. Louis County Executive Race” by Nasim Benchaabane for St. Louis Post-Dispatch Tennessee: “Tennessee Attorney General Takes Cade Cothren to Court Over Subpoena Issue” by Melissa Brown (Tennessean) for Yahoo […]
Missouri: “Dueker Deregisters as Lobbyist to Fundraise for St. Louis County Executive Race” by Nasim Benchaabane for St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Tennessee: “Tennessee Attorney General Takes Cade Cothren to Court Over Subpoena Issue” by Melissa Brown (Tennessean) for Yahoo News
Minnesota: “A Candidate Gave a Speech While in Labor – Then Had to Withdraw from the Race to Give Birth” by Amy Wang (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Trump Officials Overruled Pentagon to Approve Pandemic Loan, Emails Show” by Yeganeh Torbati and Jeff Stein (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Bill Subjecting U.S. Judges to More Financial Disclosure Passes Congress” by Nate Raymond (Reuters) for Yahoo News
California: “‘People’s Convoy’ Truckers Driven Out After Youths, Residents Egged Them” by Timothy Bella (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “Villanueva Backs Off Investigation of Times Reporter Who Revealed Cover-Up” by Harriet Ryan and Brittny Mejia (Los Angeles Times) for MSN
Ohio: “Ohio State Superintendent of Public Instruction Finalist Led Job Search for the Position for Months Before Applying, Emails Show” by Laura Hancock for Cleveland Plain Dealer
National: “Amid the War in Ukraine, PR Firms Defend Russian-Tied Clients” by Hailey Fuchs (Politico) for MSN
Virginia: “Lawsuit Targets Skill-Game Company Over Lobbying Effort Invoking Deceased Senator” by Graham Moomaw for Virginia Mercury
State and Federal Communications, Inc. provides research and consulting services for government relations professionals on lobbying laws, procurement lobbying laws, political contribution laws in the United States and Canada. Learn more by visiting stateandfed.com.