September 9, 2022 •
National/Federal ‘Fat Leonard’ Goes on the Lam Weeks Before Sentencing in Navy Bribery Scandal Portland Press Herald – María Luisa Paúl (Washington Post) | Published: 9/6/2022 The Malaysian defense contractor who pleaded guilty to bribing Navy officials with sex parties, fancy […]
‘Fat Leonard’ Goes on the Lam Weeks Before Sentencing in Navy Bribery Scandal
Portland Press Herald – María Luisa Paúl (Washington Post) | Published: 9/6/2022
The Malaysian defense contractor who pleaded guilty to bribing Navy officials with sex parties, fancy dinners, and alcohol in a corruption scandal has escaped just weeks before his sentencing date. Leonard Francis, also known as “Fat Leonard,” fled while under house arrest in San Diego. A search by the San Diego Regional Fugitive Task Force and Naval Criminal Investigative Service is underway, officials said. “He cut off his GPS monitoring bracelet on Sunday morning,” the U.S. Marshals Service announced. “Task Force Officers went to his residence and upon arrival noticed the house was now vacant.”
FEC Approves Rule to Remove Candidate Loan Repayment Restrictions
OpenSecrets – Taylor Giorno | Published: 9/1/2022
The FEC approved an interim final rule that removes regulations that previously restricted the repayment of personal loans candidates made to their campaigns. In May, the Supreme Court ruled that existing candidate loan repayment restrictions were unconstitutional. Under the old rules, campaigns could raise money after election day to repay candidate loans up to $250,000 up to 20 days after the election.
From Border Town to ‘Border Town,’ Bused Migrants Seek New Lives in D.C. Area
MSN – Antonio Olivo (Washington Post) | Published: 9/7/2022
More than 230 buses carrying nearly 9,400 migrants, including young children, have arrived in the District of Columbia since Texas Gov. Greg Abbott began offering free passage to the city with Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey following suit. Buses from Texas have also started heading to New York and Chicago. The governors are using the busloads of migrants as a political statement about what they have called lax border policies. But for many of those who have accepted the rides, any political gamesmanship has been irrelevant. The buses have turned into a welcomed opportunity for migrants to get to their preferred destinations.
House Committee Reaches Deal to get Trump Financial Records
Yahoo News – Kevin Freking (Associated Press) | Published: 9/1/2022
A U.S. House committee seeking financial records from former President Trump reached an agreement that ends litigation on the matter and requires an accounting firm to turn over some of the material. The case began in April 2019, when the House Committee on Oversight and Reform first subpoenaed records from Trump’s then-accounting firm, Mazars USA. The committee cited testimony from Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, that it said raised questions about the president’s representation of his financial affairs when it came to seeking loans and paying taxes.
In Voter Fraud, Penalties Often Depend on Who’s Voting
Yahoo News – Michael Wines (New York Times) | Published: 9/6/2022
A review by The New York Times of some 400 voting fraud charges filed nationwide since 2017 underscores what critics of fraud crackdowns have long said: actual prosecutions are rare events and often netted people who did not realize they were breaking the law. Punishment can be wildly inconsistent. Most violations draw wrist slaps, while a few high-profile prosecutions produce draconian sentences. Penalties often fall heaviest on those least able to mount a defense. Those who are poor and Black are more likely to be sent to jail.
In Washington, Agricultural Policymakers Circulate Among Farm Bureau, USDA and Industry
Investigate Midwest – Madison McVan | Published: 8/24/2022
Reporting and more than 100 pages of emails obtained by Investigate Midwest shed light on the movement of agriculture policy leaders between government, industry, and the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF). Terri Moore, vice president of communications for AFBF, said Dale Moore, executive vice president of the group, and Sam Kieffer, the organization’s top lobbyist, likely had communication with Joby Young during his time at as chief of staff for the secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Young took over as AFBF executive vice president following a stint at a consulting firm.
Jan. 6 Committee Asks Former Speaker Newt Gingrich to Sit for Interview
MSN – Jacqueline Alemany and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 9/1/2022
The House select committee investigating the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol issued a request to interview former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. The request cited evidence showing Gingrich was in communication with senior advisers to ex-President Trump, including Jared Kushner and Jason Miller, regarding television advertisements that amplified false claims about fraud in the 2020 election. The panel also said it obtained evidence suggesting Gingrich was involved in the fake elector plot designed to encourage Vice President Mike Pence and members of Congress to affect the outcome of the joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021.
Judge’s Special-Master Order a Test of Trump’s Post-White House Powers
MSN – Ann Marimow and Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 9/6/2022
Justice Department lawyers are weighing whether to challenge a federal judge’s uncommon order to appoint an independent reviewer, called a special master, to assess more than 11,000 documents seized by the FBI from Donald Trump’s Florida residence. At issue are untested legal questions about the extent to which assertions of executive privilege can be applied to a former president. Legal experts called U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon’s decision problematic because it upends the usual course of a criminal investigation and suggests there are different rules for a former president.
Material on Foreign Nation’s Nuclear Capabilities Seized at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago
MSN – Devlin Barrett and Carol Leonnig (Washington Post) | Published: 9/6/2022
A document describing a foreign government’s military defenses, including its nuclear capabilities, was found by FBI agents who searched former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and private club, according to people familiar with the matter, underscoring concerns among U.S. intelligence officials about classified material stashed at the Florida property. Some of the seized documents detail top-secret U.S. operations so closely guarded that many senior national security officials are kept in the dark about them.
Tory Peer Broke Lobbying Rules, Whitehall Watchdog Finds
The Guardian – Henry Dyer | Published: 9/6/2022
A Conservative hereditary peer breached lobbying rules in the United Kingdom by failing to register as a consultant lobbyist before contacting ministers on behalf of his client. The Office of the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists announced the outcome of its investigation into the Earl of Shrewsbury, whose full name is Charles Henry John Benedict Crofton Chetwynd Chetwind-Talbot, and his company Talbot Consulting. The earl remains under investigation by the House of Lords for allegedly misusing his parliamentary position to lobby for SpectrumX.
From the States and Municipalities
Arkansas – Ex-Deputy Chief of Staff for Hutchinson Asks to Rescind Registration as a Lobbyist
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette – Michael Wickline | Published: 9/7/2022
Bill Gossage, the former deputy chief of staff for external operations for Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, said he asked the secretary of state’s office to rescind his August registration as a registered lobbyist. Gossage is vice president of governmental affairs for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas. State law bars an individual employed in the office of the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer, auditor, or commissioner of state lands from being eligible to be registered as a lobbyist until one year after the expiration of the individual’s employment in that office.
Florida – Jury Finds Seminole GOP Chair Guilty in ‘Ghost’ Candidate Case
Yahoo News – Annie Martin (Orlando Sentinel) | Published: 9/1/2022
Seminole County Republican Party Chairperson Ben Paris was found guilty of a scheme to siphon votes from a Democrat in a Florida Senate race. Prosecutors say Jestine Iannotti ran as an independent candidate but did not campaign and had no previous political experience. Iannotti illegally accepted a $1,200 cash donation from political consultant James Foglesong. Iannoitti and Foglesong falsely used the names of others as contributors in campaign finance reports to skirt Florida laws on donations.
Georgia – Election Deniers Repeatedly Visited Ga. County Office at Center of Criminal Probe, Video Shows
Portland Press Herald – Emma Brown and Jon Swaine (Washington Post) | Published: 9/6/2022
Technology consultants who sought evidence that Donald Trump’s 2020 defeat was fraudulent made multiple visits to a county elections office in rural Georgia in the weeks after an alleged post-election breach of voting equipment that is the subject of a criminal investigation. Surveillance video shows the consultants, Doug Logan and Jeffrey Lenberg, made two visits in January 2021 to the elections office in Coffee County. Lenberg made an additional five visits on his own. The two men are under investigation for separate alleged breaches of voting machines in Michigan.
Georgia – Judge Again Rejects Graham Bid to Throw Out Subpoena in Atlanta-Area Trump Probe
MSN – Kyle Cheney (Politico) | Published: 9/1/2022
A federal judge for the second time rejected U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s effort to block a grand jury subpoena issued by the Atlanta-area district attorney investigating former President Trump and his allies’ effort to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia. District Court Judge Leigh Martin May ruled Graham’s claim to be immune from such questioning, thanks to the protections of the so-called speech or debate clause of the Constitution is not as sweeping as he claimed it to be. The ruling sends the matter back to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Illinois – Political Operative Tied to Ald. Daniel Solis Probe Pleads Guilty to Fraud
MSN – Jason Meisner (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 9/2/2022
Roberto Caldero, a political operative at the center of the investigation into former Ald. Daniel Solis, pleaded guilty to variety of fraud schemes, including an attempt to influence a massive Chicago Public Schools janitorial contact, and using the alderman’s clout to solicit campaign cash and get a park and street renamed for a donor’s relatives. There was new mention in the plea agreement of an elected official, identified only as Public Official A, whom Caldero enlisted to pressure then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel to support the awarding of the janitorial contract to a company Caldero represented.
Indiana – Contractor Avoids Prison, Ordered to Pay Sanitary District $104K
Yahoo News – Douglas Walker (Muncie Star Press) | Published: 9/6/2022
A contractor avoided a prison sentence after pleading guilty to a fraud-related count stemming from a federal investigation of corruption in Muncie city government. But Rodney Barber was ordered to pay $104,750 in restitution to the Muncie Sanitary District (MSD). He admitted paying Phil Nichols, a former Democratic Party chairperson, $5,500 in cash in exchange for winning a contract to do work for the district. Barber also acknowledged giving MSD official Tracy Barton $5,000 in cash to “illegally contribute” to then-Mayor Dennis Tyler’s re-election campaign.
Louisiana – New Orleans’ ‘Night Mayor’ Fails to Respond to State Ethics [Board] After Trying to Rule on Conflict
LocalToday – Ben Myers (New Orleans Times-Picayune) | Published: 9/6/2022
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell named Howlin’ Wolf nightclub owner Howard Kaplan as the first director of the city’s new Office of Nighttime Economy. When Cantrell was asked about potential ethical issues in hiring a nightclub owner to manage the city’s nighttime economy, she cited a pending opinion from the Louisiana Board of Ethics to argue “there is no conflict-of-interest here.” But an ethics board attorney, Mallory Guillot, now says Kaplan has not responded to “numerous” attempts to contact him with additional questions about his dual role as city official and business owner.
Massachusetts – Maura Healey to Face Trump-Backed Republican in Deep-Blue Massachusetts
MSN – Annie Linskey and David Weigel (Washington Post) | Published: 9/6/2022
Maura Healey, who made history as the country’s first openly gay state attorney general, will face former state legislator Geoff Diehl, who was endorsed by Donald Trump, in the Massachusetts governor’s race this November, a contest seen by analysts as one of the best chances for Democrats to flip control of a Republican-held seat. If she prevails in the fall, Healey would be the first woman elected governor of Massachusetts. Democratic primary voters in also picked a nominee for attorney general in a race that divided the two U.S. senators and other party leaders in the state.
Michigan – Michigan Sheriff Sought to Seize Multiple Voting Machines, Records Show
Reuters – Peter Eisler and Nathan Layne | Published: 8/30/2022
A sheriff in Barry County, Michigan, already under state investigation for alleged involvement in an illegal breach of a vote-counting machine, sought warrants in July to seize other machines to prove former President Trump’s claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election, documents showed. A member of the so-called constitutional sheriffs movement, which holds sheriffs have supreme law enforcement authority within their counties, exceeding that of state and federal agencies, Leaf has appeared at events around the country organized by proponents of Trump’s rigged election claims.
Nevada – Police Arrest County Official in Reporter’s Stabbing Death
Las Vegas Review-Journal – David Ferrara, Briana Erickson, and Glenn Puit | Published: 9/7/2022
A Las Vegas-area elected official was arrested as the suspect in the fatal stabbing of a veteran newspaper reporter who had written articles exposing complaints of wrongdoing at his office. Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles was taken into custody hours after investigators served a search warrant in the criminal probe of the killing of Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Jeff German. Soon after German’s investigation was published, Telles failed in his re-election bid, losing the Democratic primary in June.
New Mexico – New Mexico Bars Commissioner from Office for Insurrection
MSN – Morgan Lee (Associated Press) | Published: 9/6/2022
A New Mexico judge ordered convicted Capitol rioter Couy Griffin to be removed from his county commissioner seat, ruling the Cowboys for Trump founder’s involvement in the January 6, 2021, insurrection disqualified him from holding public office. Judge Francis Matthew formally labeled the Capitol attack as an insurrection and found Griffin’s involvement fell under the so-called Disqualification Clause of the 14th Amendment, which bars anyone from holding office if they took an oath to uphold the Constitution and then “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” or gave “aid or comfort” to insurrectionists.
New York – Former Trump Adviser Steve Bannon Charged with Defrauding Border Wall Donors
Yahoo News – Aaron Katersky (ABC News) | Published: 9/8/2022
Steve Bannon, a onetime political adviser to former President Trump, was charged by authorities in New York with defrauding donors to the We Build the Wall fundraising campaign for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The indictment charges Bannon and We Build the Wall itself with two counts of money laundering. There are additional felony counts of conspiracy and scheme to defraud. The state charges resemble federal charges for which Bannon received a pardon from Trump and allege Bannon and We Build the Wall defrauded 430 Manhattan-based donors out of $33,600.
New York – How a Hochul Donor Received $637M in State Payments
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 9/8/2022
Last December, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s administration received an offer to buy 26 million at-home coronavirus tests from a distributor that happened to be a major campaign donor to the governor. The price offered by Digital Gadgets founder Charlie Tebele was $13 per test, far steeper than what other companies were proposing for similar rapid antigen tests. Hochul’s administration had just approved a deal with another firm to buy 5 million tests for just five dollars each. Still, the Hochul administration quickly agreed to pay $338 million to Digital Gadgets at the higher per-test price.
New York – Panel Rejects 3 of the 10 Nominees to New York’s New Ethics Body
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 9/2/2022
A panel tasked with reviewing nominations to New York’s new ethics and lobbying oversight panel rejected three out of ten nominations, while confirming seven others. One of those rejected was Gary Lavine, an outspoken former commissioner on the state’s prior ethics body. the Joint Commission on Public Ethics. Lavine’s rejection appears the most likely to set up a legal battle over a key aspect of the new law that established the Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government.
Ohio – Akron Organizers Turn to the Ballot Box for Civilian Oversight of Police
Ohio Capital Journal – Nick Evans | Published: 9/7/2022
A proposed ballot measure in Akron establishing civilian oversight for the police department comes on the heels of the police killing of Jayland Walker, a Black man shot nearly 50 times by Akron officers after fleeing a traffic stop. The amendment to the city charter would establish a new citizen review board with oversight of the city’s existing police auditor. The proposal also expands the auditor’s office and directs city council to spell out in statute what information the auditor can demand from the department. Organizers have turned in 7,000 petition signatures. That is more than two and a half times what they need.to get it on the November ballot.
Ohio – Redistricting: One year later, Ohio a unique, flawed case
Ohio Capital Journal – Susan Tebben | Published: 9/2/2022
One year after the saga of redistricting began, Ohio is seen as a unique case study in the legal strategies and flaws that can emerge in the process. A series of meetings of the Ohio Redistricting Commission were held, where the elected officials who constituted the commission interpreted and re-interpreted a constitutional amendment more than 70 percent of voters had approved to reform the redistricting. One year, five legislative map proposals and two congressional redraws later, the state will hold a general election in November with maps that have been ruled unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court.
Oklahoma – Why Most Oklahoma State Legislative Races Are Uncontested
Oklahoma Watch – Keaton Ross | Published: 9/6/2022
Nearly 70 person of Oklahoma’s state legislative elections will be decided without a single vote cast in November. In 2018, nearly 75 percent of House and Senate races included candidates from at least two parties. Oklahoma now ranks among the nation’s least competitive states for legislative races. Without competitive local races, voters are more likely to become disengaged or feel alienated, studies have found. The same can happen to lawmakers who are not making their case to voters. A Georgetown University study found state legislators who run unopposed are less effective and engaged with constituents.
Oregon – Tina Kotek Wins Over Potential Rival with Embrace of Campaign Finance Changes
OPB – Dirk VanderHart | Published: 9/7/2022
Oregon gubernatorial candidate Tina Kotek removed one potential obstacle in the race. In private discussions, Kotek committed to using her position to advocate for some specific campaign finance regulations if elected governor. With that commitment, and a newly added policy platform on her website, a notable competitor for left-leaning votes has now stepped down. Nathalie Paravicini, running for governor under the banners of the Oregon Progressive Party and Pacific Green Party, filed a form withdrawing her candidacy. Oregon is one of a handful of states that place no limit on how much campaigns can raise and spend.
Tennessee – Registry of Election Finance to Audit Humble for Potential Illegal Coordination with PAC-Like Group
Tennessee Lookout – Sam Stockard | Published: 9/7/2022
The Tennessee Registry of Election Finance is set to audit former state Senate candidate Gary Humble to determine whether his campaign illegally coordinated with his nonprofit organization Tennessee Stands. Registry board member Tom Lawless raised questions about Tennessee Stands, which has a 501(c)(4) federal tax status, and whether it is operating as a PAC without registering with the state. Humble is executive director of the organization, which is intertwined with his political activity.
Texas – Appeals Court Sides with Texas Ethics Commission Over Lobbying Fine Against GOP Activist Michael Quinn Sullivan
MSN – Taylor Goldenstein (Houston Chronicle) | Published: 9/1/2022
An appeals court upheld a Texas Ethics Commission fine levied against conservative activist Michael Quinn Sullivan. He registered as a lobbyist from 2001 to 2009 but did not in 2010 and 2011. The court found Sullivan, acting on behalf of Empower Texans in 2010 and 2011, had lobbied state lawmakers. The judges dismissed Sullivan’s arguments that the commission was unconstitutionally exercising both legislative and executive branch powers. They reversed the trial court’s judgment on the amount of the fine – $10,000 – saying Sullivan is owed a jury trial on that question.
Washington – Data Shows How Well Seattle’s Democracy Voucher Program Is Working
Seattle Times – Gene Balk | Published: 9/2/2022
Seattle’s novel “democracy voucher” program for funding local elections is attracting attention. “… It could revolutionize local elections,” said Brian McCabe of Georgetown University, the co-author of a new study on the program. The study found the democracy voucher program does appear to be living up to its name by helping to democratize political giving in Seattle by diversifying the donor pool to better reflect the city’s population. It also found the rate of participation in the program rose most significantly among Black, Hispanic, and young voters, groups that have historically been underrepresented in the campaign finance system.
Washington – Washington State Judge Rules Facebook Violated Campaign Finance Rules
MSN – Naomi Nix (Washington Post) | Published: 9/2/2022
A judge ruled Facebook owner Meta repeatedly and intentionally violated Washington’s campaign finance law and must pay penalties. King County Superior Court Judge Douglass North said Facebook, which last year renamed itself Meta, repeatedly broke the state’s law requiring technology platforms make information about political ads available for public inspection in a “timely manner.” North also denied Meta’s attempt to invalidate the state’s decades-old law. The ruling arrives as Meta faces scrutiny over how much information it discloses about the way candidates use marketing campaigns on its networks.
Wisconsin – Ginni Thomas Pressed Wisconsin Lawmakers to Overturn Biden’s 2020 Victory
MSN – Emma Brown (Washington Post) | Published: 9/1/2022
Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the conservative activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, pressed lawmakers to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 victory not only in Arizona, as previously reported, but also in a second battleground state, Wisconsin, according to emails. Ginni Thomas emailed 29 Arizona lawmakers in in November and December 2020. She urged them to set aside Biden’s popular-vote victory and “choose” their own presidential electors. The new emails show she also messaged two Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin: state Sen. Kathy Bernier, then chair of the Senate elections committee, and state Rep. Gary Tauchen.
September 8, 2022 •
Elections National: “In Voter Fraud, Penalties Often Depend on Who’s Voting” by Michael Wines (New York Times) for Yahoo News Massachusetts: “Maura Healey to Face Trump-Backed Republican in Deep-Blue Massachusetts” by Annie Linskey and David Weigel (Washington Post) for MSN […]
National: “In Voter Fraud, Penalties Often Depend on Who’s Voting” by Michael Wines (New York Times) for Yahoo News
Massachusetts: “Maura Healey to Face Trump-Backed Republican in Deep-Blue Massachusetts” by Annie Linskey and David Weigel (Washington Post) for MSN
Ohio: “Akron Organizers Turn to the Ballot Box for Civilian Oversight of Police” by Nick Evans for Ohio Capital Journal
National: “From Border Town to ‘Border Town,’ Bused Migrants Seek New Lives in D.C. Area” by Antonio Olivo (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Material on Foreign Nation’s Nuclear Capabilities Seized at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago” by Devlin Barrett and Carol Leonnig (Washington Post) for MSN
Indiana: “Contractor Avoids Prison, Ordered to Pay Sanitary District $104K” by Douglas Walker (Muncie Star Press) for Yahoo News
Louisiana: “New Orleans’ ‘Night Mayor’ Fails to Respond to State Ethics [Board] After Trying to Rule on Conflict” by Ben Myers (New Orleans Times-Picayune) for LocalToday
Arkansas: “Ex-Deputy Chief of Staff for Hutchinson Asks to Rescind Registration as a Lobbyist” by Michael Wickline for Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
September 7, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Washington: “Washington State Judge Rules Facebook Violated Campaign Finance Rules” by Naomi Nix (Washington Post) for MSN Elections Georgia: “Election Deniers Repeatedly Visited Ga. County Office at Center of Criminal Probe, Video Shows” by Emma Brown and Jon […]
Washington: “Washington State Judge Rules Facebook Violated Campaign Finance Rules” by Naomi Nix (Washington Post) for MSN
Georgia: “Election Deniers Repeatedly Visited Ga. County Office at Center of Criminal Probe, Video Shows” by Emma Brown and Jon Swaine (Washington Post) for Portland Press Herald
Oklahoma: “Why Most Oklahoma State Legislative Races Are Uncontested” by Keaton Ross for Oklahoma Watch
National: “‘Deeply Problematic’: Experts question judge’s intervention in Trump inquiry” by Charlie Savage (New York Times) for Yahoo News
National: “House Committee Reaches Deal to get Trump Financial Records” by Kevin Freking (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
New Mexico: “New Mexico Bars Commissioner from Office for Insurrection” by Morgan Lee (Associated Press) for MSN
Europe: “Tory Peer Broke Lobbying Rules, Whitehall Watchdog Finds” by Henry Dyer for The Guardian
Ohio: “Redistricting: One year later, Ohio a unique, flawed case” by Susan Tebben for Ohio Capital Journal
September 6, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “FEC Approves Rule to Remove Candidate Loan Repayment Restrictions” by Taylor Giorno for OpenSecrets Florida: “Jury Finds Seminole GOP Chair Guilty in ‘Ghost’ Candidate Case” by Annie Martin (Orlando Sentinel) for Yahoo News Elections Georgia: “Judge Again […]
National: “FEC Approves Rule to Remove Candidate Loan Repayment Restrictions” by Taylor Giorno for OpenSecrets
Florida: “Jury Finds Seminole GOP Chair Guilty in ‘Ghost’ Candidate Case” by Annie Martin (Orlando Sentinel) for Yahoo News
Georgia: “Judge Again Rejects Graham Bid to Throw Out Subpoena in Atlanta-Area Trump Probe” by Kyle Cheney (Politico) for MSN
Wisconsin: “Ginni Thomas Pressed Wisconsin Lawmakers to Overturn Biden’s 2020 Victory” by Emma Brown (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “FBI List Shows Empty Classified Folders, Secret Items Mixed with Mundane” by Perry Stein and Jacqueline Alemany (Washington Post) for MSN
Illinois: “Political Operative Tied to Ald. Daniel Solis Probe Pleads Guilty to Fraud” by Jason Meisner (Chicago Tribune) for MSN
New York: “Panel Rejects 3 of the 10 Nominees to New York’s New Ethics Body” by Chris Bragg for Albany Times Union
Texas: “Appeals Court Sides with Texas Ethics Commission Over Lobbying Fine Against GOP Activist Michael Quinn Sullivan” by Taylor Goldenstein (Houston Chronicle) for MSN
September 2, 2022 •
National/Federal Document Reveals Identity of Donors Who Secretly Funded Nikki Haley’s Political Nonprofit Yahoo News – Alex Isenstadt (Politico) | Published: 8/26/2022 Many of the Republican Party’s biggest donors are among those who funneled anonymous contributions to former United Nations Ambassador […]
Document Reveals Identity of Donors Who Secretly Funded Nikki Haley’s Political Nonprofit
Yahoo News – Alex Isenstadt (Politico) | Published: 8/26/2022
Many of the Republican Party’s biggest donors are among those who funneled anonymous contributions to former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley’s nonprofit as she lays the groundwork for a prospective 2024 presidential bid, according to previously unreported tax documents. Like other nonprofits, Stand For America files an annual tax return with the IRS. While the agency and the group must make those filings available to the public, including the amounts of contributions, such nonprofits do not have to disclose the identities of their donors. The group Documented obtained an unredacted copy of Stand For America’s 2019 filings.
Experts Say a Trump-Backed Charity Is Pushing the Boundaries of Tax Law
National Public Radio – Tom Dreisbach | Published: 8/31/2022
Many figures connected to the failed plot to overturn the 2020 election have coalesced around an increasingly influential nonprofit – the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI). A review of records and leaked audio suggests CPI may be risking legal trouble over its tax-exempt status. Experts said the group appears to be pushing the boundaries of the law by entwining itself with explicitly Republican and pro-Donald Trump political organizations. As an IRS-recognized charity, CPI is exempt from certain taxes. That also gives donors the benefit of deducting their contributions at tax time. But those benefits come with some strings attached.
Fox News Stars Questioned by Election Tech Company in Defamation Case
MSN – Rachel Weiner and Jeremy Barr (Washington Post) | Published: 8/30/2022
Some Fox News hosts are being compelled to answer questions about their coverage of the 2020 presidential election as a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems claims its reputation was ruined by the network’s airing of baseless allegations picks up steam. Lawyers for Dominion questioned Jeanine Pirro and Tucker Carlson, while Sean Hannity and former host Lou Dobbs are scheduled for depositions. They are among the on-air personalities that Dominion says defamed it either by falsely claiming the company conspired to rig the election against Donald Trump or by repeatedly hosting guests who made such claims.
Garland Bans Campaign Activity by Justice Dept. Political Appointees
MSN – Perry Stein (Washington Post) | Published: 8/30/2022
Justice Department political appointees cannot participate in campaign-related activities in any capacity, Attorney General Merrick Garland said, describing the change as necessary “to maintain public trust and ensure that politics … does not compromise or affect the integrity of our work.” The new policy underscores the political scrutiny Garland is facing before the midterm elections, as his agency investigates former president Trump’s handling of classified documents after leaving office and the potential involvement of Trump and other GOP politicians in efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Justice Dept. Says Trump Team May Have Hidden, Moved Classified Papers
MSN – Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 8/31/2022
Former President Trump and his advisers repeatedly failed to turn over highly classified government documents even after receiving a subpoena and pledging a “diligent search” had been conducted, leading to an FBI raid on his Florida home that found more than 100 additional classified items, according to a court filing. The filing traces government officials’ repeated efforts to recover national security papers from Trump’s residence, centered on a storage room where prosecutors came to suspect that “government records were likely concealed and removed … and that efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government’s investigation.”
They Were Some of the Last Journalists at Their Papers. Then Came the Layoffs.
MSN – Elahe Izadi (Washington Post) | Published: 8/28/2022
Newspaper companies have been struggling to find their financial footing with the decline of print advertising. A recent study predicted one-third of American newspapers that existed roughly two decades ago will go extinct by 2025. Another study found some 40,000 newspaper newsroom jobs vanished between 2008 and 2020. Gannett, the largest newspaper chain in the country with more than 200 daily newspapers and its flagship publication USA Today, has already been shedding jobs.
Trump’s Lawyers May Become Witnesses or Targets in Documents Investigation
Yahoo News – Charlie Savage (New York Times) | Published: 8/31/2022
Two lawyers for former President Trump are likely to become witnesses or targets in the investigation into how he hoarded documents marked as classified at his Florida estate and secretly held onto some even after the lawyers claimed all sensitive materials had been returned, legal specialists said. Christina Bobb and M. Evan Corcoran handled Trump’s interactions with the government over a subpoena seeking additional material marked as classified. In a court filing, the Justice Department suggested people in Trump’s circle concealed documents in defiance of that subpoena, putting a spotlight on the lawyers’ actions.
Watchdog Probing Massachusetts US Attorney’s Fundraiser Trip
Yahoo News – Alanna Durkin Richer and Farnoush Amiri (Associated Press) | Published: 8/31/2022
A watchdog agency is investigating whether Massachusetts’ top federal prosecutor violated a law that limits political activity by government workers for attending a political fundraiser that featured First Lady Jill Biden. The U.S. Office of Special Counsel said it has opened an investigation into a potential violation Hatch Act after U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton raised concerns over U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins’ attendance at a July Democratic National Committee fundraiser in Andover, Massachusetts.
When an Election Denier Becomes a Chief Election Official
Yahoo News – Zach Montellaro (Politico) | Published: 8/29/2022
Many of the election deniers running for secretary of state this year have spent their time talking about something they cannot do: “decertifying” the 2020 results. The bigger question, amid concerns about whether they would fairly administer the 2024 presidential election, is exactly what powers they would have if they win this year. They could refuse to certify accurate election results, a nearly unprecedented step that would set off litigation in state and federal court. But secretaries of states’ roles in elections stretch far beyond approving vote tallies and certifying results. Many of the candidates want to dramatically change the rules for future elections, too.
From the States and Municipalities
Alabama – Alabama Ethics Commission Won’t Reconsider Decision on Exculpatory Information
MSN – Brian Lyman (Montgomery Advertiser) | Published: 8/25/2022
The Alabama Ethics Commission will not reconsider a decision that it does not have to disclose potentially exculpatory information to targets of investigations. The state attorney general’s office asked the commission to reconsider the decision in July. Under state law, the ethics panel investigates complaints against public officials. It functions as a kind of grand jury. It does not prosecute individuals for ethics violations. If the commission finds probable cause that ethics violations took place, it refers the case to the attorney general’s office or a district attorney for possible prosecution.
Alaska – Democrat Mary Peltola Wins Special Election in Alaska, Defeating Palin
MSN – Nathaniel Herz | Published: 8/31/2022
Democrat Mary Peltola has won a special election for the U.S. House in Alaska, defeating Sarah Palin and becoming the first Alaska Native to win a seat in Congress as well as the first woman to clinch the state’s at-large district. Peltola’s win flips a seat that had long been in Republican hands. She will serve the remainder of a term left open by the sudden death of U.S. Rep. Don Young. For the moment, it helps Democrats expand their current narrow House majority and gives the party a better chance of winning the seat in the fall, according to at least one nonpartisan elections analyst.
Arizona – Arizona Supreme Court Says Voters Can Decide Ballot Measures in November
KAWC – Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services) | Published: 8/24/2022
Arizonans will be able to vote in November on two controversial ballot measures even though petition circulators did not comply with the law. In separate orders, the state Supreme Court said those who gather signatures for money are required to register for each petition campaign for which they work. Chief Justice Robert Brutinel said that did not happen in either the initiative to require disclosure of “dark money” in politics or another to cap medical debt payments. But Brutinel noted the office provided no procedure for those already registered to circulate other petitions to submit new registrations. The court agreed the signatures gathered by those who did not register anew should count.
California – A Sacramento School Trustee Walked Out of a Hotel with a Vase. Now She’s Reprimanded by Board
MSN – Jason Pohl and Sawsan Morrar (Sacramento Bee) | Published: 8/30/2022
A Sacramento school board member was reprimanded by her colleagues and ordered to undergo ethics training after a hotel employee accused her of trying to steal a red vase from the hotel lobby. Trustee Ericka Harden was filmed on security cameras at Embassy Suites, where she was attending a district-funded education leadership conference. On the video that hotel management sent the school district, Harden is seen walking out of the hotel with the vase. “This is to inform you of the altercation that has been encountered with your employee,” a hotel worker emailed the district. “The vase was returned as I did have to pull it out of her hands.”
California – California Lawmakers Reject Bill to Allow Their Staff to Unionize at the State Capitol
Yahoo News – Taryn Luna (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 8/31/2022
For the fourth time in five years, the California Legislature rejected a bill to allow its staff to unionize, parting with other West Coast states that have approved similar legislation to try to improve workplace conditions and offset power imbalances between politicians and their legislative staff. For decades, legislative employees have not received the same right to unionize as other private and public sector workers despite the Democratic Legislature’s close ties with unions at the Capitol.
California – ‘Close to the Line:’ California’s top campaign finance watchdog wants a deeper look at donor network
CalMatters – Alexei Koseff and Ben Christopher | Published: 8/26/2022
The Fair Political Practices Commission will consider new regulations more clearly defining coordination among affiliated campaign committees after the agency rejected a complaint against Govern For California. The complaint characterized the group’s network of independent committees as a “corporate structure that facilitates money laundering and vastly exceeds the contribution limits to candidates.” An investigation showed committees affiliated with Govern For California have come to play a prominent role in campaigns by making direct donations. Most of the funding to the chapters comes from the same group of 20 donors.
California – Inside a ‘Tale of Greed’ in San Francisco: Bribery scandal leads to 7-year prison sentence
Yahoo News – Gregory Yee (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 8/26/2022
Federal prosecutors called it “a tale of greed as old as time” – a powerful San Francisco official at the heart of a web of kickbacks, bribery, and fraud that stretched across more than a decade. Mohammed Nuru, a former public works director, was sentenced to seven years in federal prison for his role in a public corruption scheme that has ensnared at least a dozen San Francisco officials and business figures, eroded trust in City Hall, and led to an ongoing FBI investigation.
California – L.A. Council Fails to Pick a Replacement for Ridley-Thomas, Exposing a Divide at City Hall
Yahoo News – David Zahniser (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 8/30/2022
Ten months after Los Angeles City Councilperson Mark Ridley-Thomas was indicted on federal corruption charges, the council remains at odds over what should happen to his district – who should represent it and how that person should be selected. Heather Hutt has been the district’s caretaker since July, when a judge sidelined the council’s previous interim pick, former Councilperson Herb Wesson. Councilperson Monica Rodriguez, who opposed a vote on Hutt, said the council moved too swiftly last time it tried to fill the seat, selecting Wesson only to have two judges conclude he is ineligible because of term limits.
Delaware – Judge Upholds Two of Delaware Auditor’s Three Convictions
MSN – Randall Chase (Associated Press) | Published: 8/30/2022
A judge upheld two convictions against Delaware’s auditor for official misconduct and conflict-of-interest but tossed a jury’s third misdemeanor conviction for improperly structuring contract payments to a consulting firm. In issuing his decision, Superior Court Judge William Carpenter Jr. rejected Kathy McGuiness’ request for a new trial. McGuiness, who as auditor is responsible for rooting out government fraud, waste, and abuse, is the first statewide elected official in Delaware to be convicted on criminal charges while in office. She has maintained her innocence and is seeking re-election.
Florida – DeSantis Election Investigation Chief Told Local Officials They Face ‘No Fault’ for Felons Voting
MSN – Matt Dixon (Politico) | Published: 8/29/2022
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office tried to blame local election supervisors for mistakes that could have allowed 20 people convicted of felonies to illegally vote. But the state’s election investigations chief previously absolved those local officials of any wrongdoing, according to documents. Pete Antonacci, who runs DeSantis’ elections investigation office, sent a letter on August 18 to the state’s elections supervisors saying they did nothing wrong when individuals convicted of murder and sex offenses voted in the 2020 election cycle.
Florida – Miami-Dade Commissioner Martinez Surrenders at Jail as Warrant Details Corruption Probe
MSN – David Ovalle and Douglas Hanks (Miami Herald) | Published: 8/30/2022
Miami-Dade Commissioner Joe Martinez surrendered to face criminal charges, as an arrest warrant reveals he is being accused of accepting $15,000 in exchange for sponsoring a bill five years ago to help a shopping plaza that had been repeatedly hit with fines for code violations. The legislation ultimately never passed and did not wind up being considered by the county commission. But under Florida’s unlawful compensation law, prosecutors do not need to show the public official’s “exercise of influence” for illegal pay was actually “accomplished,” only that it was attempted.
Florida – ‘Our Plan Might Have Paid Off’: How FPL dollars secretly funded a spoiler vs. Levine Cava
MSN – Nicholas Nehamas, Douglas Hanks, Sarah Blaskey, and Mary Ellen Klas (Miami Herald) | Published: 8/25/2022
Jeff Pitts’ political consulting firm was a conduit for millions of dollars secretly spent by Florida Power & Light (FPL) on political races since 2018, records show. In one case, the plan was to use Jonathan Burke as a spoiler candidate to drain votes from Miami-Dade County Commissioner Levine Cava, who had clashed with FPL over a nuclear power plant and force her into a runoff against her main opponent, Republican Gus Barreiro, a leaked text message suggests. Money from FPL covered Burke’s $60,000 salary and paid the rent on a $2,300-per-month home in Miami-Dade’s District 8, according to records.
Florida – Seminole GOP Chair’s Trial in ‘Ghost’ Candidate Case Starts Today
MSN – Annie Martin (Orlando Sentinel) | Published: 8/29/2022
Seminole County Republican Party Chairperson Ben Paris is on trial, accused of contributing in his cousin’s name to independent “ghost” candidate Jestine Iannotti’s campaign in 2020. Paris is facing a misdemeanor charge in the scheme, which apparently was an attempt to aid Republican Sen. Jason Brodeur, who was Paris’s boss at the Seminole County Chamber of Commerce at the time of the race. Brodeur has denied any knowledge of his former employee’s actions.
Georgia – Judge Delays Gov. Kemp’s Testimony in Ga. Probe Until After November Election
MSN – Amy Wang and Ann Marimow (Washington Post) | Published: 8/29/2022
The judge presiding over the Georgia grand jury investigation into possible election interference by Donald Trump and his allies denied a motion from Gov. Brian Kemp to quash a subpoena requiring him to testify. But Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney delayed Kemp’s appearance before the grand jury until “some date soon after” Election Day in November. Kemp, who is running for reelection against Stacey Abrams, has alleged the investigation is politically motivated.
Hawaii – Damning Report Unlikely to Affect Honolulu Ethics Director’s Job
Honolulu Civil Beat – Christina Jedra | Published: 8/26/2022
When Jan Yamane was hired by the Honolulu Ethics Commission in 2016, she was leaving the state auditor’s office where employees accused her of operating a hostile work environment that was plagued by favoritism, low morale, and harassment. The state attorney general’s office fought for years to keep the details secret. It only became public recently after a years-long legal fight. Yamane has now spent six years heading the city’s watchdog agency which, among other things, handles complaints about misconduct that may be similar in nature to what Yamane was accused of doing.
Idaho – Former Idaho Lawmaker Sentenced to 20 Years’ Prison for Rape
Yahoo News – Rebecca Boone (Associated Press) | Published: 8/31/2022
A former Idaho lawmaker convicted of raping a 19-year-old legislative intern was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the crime. Aaron von Ehlinger must serve at least eight years before he will be eligible for parole. Von Ehlinger was convicted of felony rape in April, roughly a year after he resigned from his House seat after an ethics committee recommended that he be banned from the statehouse. Von Ehlinger’s supporters publicized the intern’s name, photo, and personal details about her life after she reported the rape, and repeatedly harassed her.
Illinois – DeVore Loan Ends Contribution Caps in Illinois AG Race
Patabook.com – Dan Petrella (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 9/1/2022
Illinois attorney general nominee Thomas DeVore loaned his campaign $250,001, a move that opens the door to unlimited contributions in the race with incumbent Kwame Raoul. Under state law, contribution limits are lifted when a candidate for statewide office donates more than $250,000 to his campaign. Until then, the limits range from $6,000 for individuals to $239,900 for political party contributions to candidates statewide.
Illinois – Pritzker’s Personal Fortune Intersects with State Contracts
Better Government Association – David Jackson, Grace Golembiewski, and Chuck Neubauer | Published: 8/30/2022
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s vast investment portfolio includes interests in a dozen for-profit companies that earned more than $20 billion in state business since he took office in 2019, a Better Government Association investigation found. In some cases, state dollars flowed to companies registered to lobby Pritzker, who as the state’s chief executive held enormous sway over their contracts. The intersection between Pritzker’s personal bottom line and his role as governor comes despite his promise to divest his personal fortune of investments in state contractors and to transfer his multibillion-dollar portfolio into what he called a “blind trust.”
Indiana – Study: Indiana ranks last in campaign finance laws
Journal Gazette – Brett Stover | Published: 8/28/2022
Indiana has the least restrictive campaign finance laws in the country, a new study shows. The Coalition for Integrity, which that focuses on corruption and transparency, released its first-ever State Campaign Finance Index this summer. The index examines laws from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, including regulations on campaign coordination and limits on expenditures. The report highlighted the state’s lack of a cap on individual contributions. Conservative lawyer Jim Bopp Jr. sees that lack of individual contribution regulation as one of the best parts of Indiana’s campaign finance laws.
Kentucky – Citing Conflict, Scott County Residents Sue to Remove Judge Candidate from Ballot
MSN – Taylor Six (Lexington Herald-Leader) | Published: 8/29/2022
Two Scott County residents filed a civil lawsuit to remove Rob Johnson from the ballot as 14th Circuit judicial candidate. Johnson is married to 14th Judicial Circuit Commonwealth Attorney Sharon Mus. Plaintiffs say this creates a situation where Johnson could not perform the majority of the constitutional duties of the position for which he seeks election unless he violates the Judicial Canons of Ethics.
Maryland – Md. Watchdog: Reports from Pr. George’s school board ethics panel are unreliable
MSN – Nicole Asbury (Washington Post) | Published: 8/27/2022
An ethics report that targeted Prince George’s County school board members was unreliable, included “factually inaccurate” information, and omitted key exonerating statements from witnesses, Maryland’s education watchdog said. The error-riddled reports completed last year by a county school board ethics advisory panel and leaked to some community members, accused seven school board members of a variety of offenses, including steering contracts, doing political favors, and engaging in a quid pro quo with a labor union.
Michigan – Michigan Elections Panel Deadlocks, Leaving Abortion Rights Proposal Off Ballot
Yahoo News – Clara Hendrickson (Detroit Free Press) | Published: 9/1/2022
Michigan’s elections panel deadlocked along partisan lines on certifying an abortion rights measure for this fall’s ballot that proposed adding an explicit right to seek the procedure in the state. The impasse leaves the measure off the ballot. But the Reproductive Freedom for All plans to file an appeal asking the Michigan Supreme Court to put the proposed constitutional amendment before voters as election officials prepare to send out ballots next month. The Board of Canvassers’ two Republican members said organizers circulated a petition to collect voter signatures that was riddled with errors the board could not approve.
Michigan – Romulus Ex-Mayor Burcroff Pleads Guilty in Federal Corruption Case
Detroit News – Robert Snell | Published: 8/25/2022
Former Romulus Mayor LeRoy Burcroff pleaded guilty to wire fraud after being accused of spending more than $15,000 in campaign funds on personal expenses. Federal prosecutors alleged he defrauded campaign donors who thought the money would be spent on re-election expenses. Instead, prosecutors say he spent the money on his daughter’s wedding, a Florida vacation, flowers, a $4,500 alcohol bill, and dues and expenses at the Belleville Yacht Club.
Michigan – Who Controls Where and When You See Political Ads? It’s Complicated.
MLive.com – Jordyn Hermani | Published: 9/1/2022
Online outrage was sparked after a journalist noticed a 30-second advertisement, which alleges Michigan gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon believes there should be a total ban on abortion even in the instances of rape or incest, interrupted a children’s cartoon being streamed on Hulu. The streaming service only began running political ads this year after backlash when it initially refused to run ads from Democratic groups. Political scientist Ken Miller said the ad may not have been intended to land in a children’s show but could have a similar effect as if it had been placed during the evening news.
New Jersey – Legislative Resolutions Raise the Question: What’s the point?
New Jersey Monitor – Dana DiFilippo | Published: 8/30/2022
Resolutions are a popular way for state lawmakers to butter up constituents, grab headlines, or publicize their positions on federal issues or other matters over which they wield little control. So far this legislative session, resolutions represent about 10 person of all legislation in the New Jersey General Assembly. But only 22 resolutions, less than three percent of those introduced, have passed this year. John Froonjian of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University, said some resolutions pushed by lawmakers “are not exactly heavyweight public policy,” and he thinks the public can rightly question, “What’s the point?”
New York – Skirting Ethics Order, Hochul Seeks Donations from Cuomo Appointees
archive.today – Jay Root (New York Times) | Published: 8/30/2022
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has been taking money from appointees of the governor, despite an executive order designed to prevent it. In her first year in office, Hochul has accepted more than $400,000 from appointees on boards across the state as well as the appointees’ spouses, a New York Times analysis found. Hochul’s campaign said it was appropriate to accept the contributions because they came from people appointed by her predecessor, Andrew Cuomo. The argument underscored a loophole in the ethics order that would seem to allow one governor to accept money from another governor’s board and commission appointees.
Pennsylvania – Pa.’s Unreliable Lobbyist Disclosure Website Is Getting a User-Friendly Upgrade
Spotlight PA – Kate Huangpu | Published: 8/29/2022
An initiative to improve the online system in Pennsylvania that lobbyists use to disclose which organizations have hired them and how they spend money got a boost in this year’s state budget. A line item listed only as “Lobbying Disclosure” under the Department of State’s general appropriations is funded at $714,000 for the fiscal year that started in July, a 150 percent increase over the previous year. A Department of State spokesperson said the money will fund an IT upgrade to a system that has been criticized as lagging, unintuitive, and often down.
South Dakota – ‘Nobody Thought This Would Be a Governor’: Noem complaint leads to key chapter in short life of ethics board
Fargo Forum – Jason Hayward | Published: 8/30/2022
A recent meeting of the Government Accountability Board, where it moved on two complaints against South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, was the latest in a series of unprecedented events for the board, which was created in response to a series of scandals and an initiated measure. This is the first set of complaints the board has not simply dismissed, meaning the details of the process for a possible contested case must be figured out on the fly. The confidentiality inherent to the board’s process was undermined by Jason Ravnsborg, the former attorney general who brought the complaints public during a feud with Noem over her calling for his impeachment.
Virginia – Judge Throws Out Obscenity Case Attempting to Restrict Sales of Books in Virginia Beach
Virginia Mercury – Graham Moomaw | Published: 8/30/2022
A judge in Virginia dismissed a lawsuit that sought to declare two books as obscene for children and to restrict their distribution to minors, including by booksellers and libraries. The books in question were “Gender Queer: A Memoir” and “A Court of Mist and Fury.” State Del. Tim Anderson filed the suit on behalf of former GOP congressional candidate Tommy Altman. They characterized it as part of a broader effort to strengthen parental control over what children read, while critics denounced it as old-fashioned censorship. The hearing focused less on the merits of the books or First Amendment issues and more on flaws with Virginia’s obscenity law.
Washington DC – D.C. Office Of Campaign Finance Will Investigate Ward 3 Poll Conducted by Councilmember Elissa Silverman
DCist – Callan Tansill-Suddath | Published: 8/26/2022
The Office of Campaign Finance confirmed it will investigate a complaint against District of Columbia Councilperson Elissa Silverman. The complaint says Silverman conducted a telephone poll of residents in Ward 3 ahead of the June 21 primary election and discussed the results with her preferred candidate in the race. That amounted to improper coordination between campaigns and an in-kind campaign contribution that should have been reported, according to the complaint.
Wisconsin – Former Milwaukee Ald. Chantia Lewis Has Seen Sentenced to 30 Days in Custody, 3 Years’ Probation
Yahoo News – Alison Dirr (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) | Published: 8/25/2022
Former Milwaukee Ald. Chantia Lewis was sentenced to 30 days in custody as a condition of three years’ probation following her conviction on two felonies related to her conduct in office. Lewis was removed from office after pleading guilty to a count of misconduct in public office and no contest to a count of intentionally accepting an illegal campaign finance disbursement. Prosecutors said she took at least $21,666 in campaign funds and false travel reimbursements from the city between 2016 and 2020.
August 30, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Florida: “Seminole GOP Chair’s Trial in ‘Ghost’ Candidate Case Starts Today” by Annie Martin (Orlando Sentinel) for MSN Indiana: “Study: Indiana ranks last in campaign finance laws” by Brett Stover for Journal Gazette Washington DC: “D.C. Office Of […]
Florida: “Seminole GOP Chair’s Trial in ‘Ghost’ Candidate Case Starts Today” by Annie Martin (Orlando Sentinel) for MSN
Indiana: “Study: Indiana ranks last in campaign finance laws” by Brett Stover for Journal Gazette
Washington DC: “D.C. Office Of Campaign Finance Will Investigate Ward 3 Poll Conducted by Councilmember Elissa Silverman” by Callan Tansill-Suddath for DCist
National: “When an Election Denier Becomes a Chief Election Official” by Zach Montellaro (Politico) for Yahoo News
Georgia: “Judge Delays Gov. Kemp’s Testimony in Ga. Probe Until After November Election” by Amy Wang and Ann Marimow (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Documents Already Examined by FBI, Justice Dept. Tells Judge” by Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “Inside a ‘Tale of Greed’ in San Francisco: Bribery scandal leads to 7-year prison sentence” by Gregory Yee (Los Angeles Times) for Yahoo News
Pennsylvania: “Pa.’s Unreliable Lobbyist Disclosure Website Is Getting a User-Friendly Upgrade” by Kate Huangpu for Spotlight PA
August 26, 2022 •
National/Federal An Unusual $1.6 Billion Donation Bolsters Conservatives Seattle Times – Kenneth Vogel and Shane Goldmacher (New York Times) | Published: 8/22/2022 A new conservative group received $1.6 billion from one donor, which among the largest – if not the largest […]
An Unusual $1.6 Billion Donation Bolsters Conservatives
Seattle Times – Kenneth Vogel and Shane Goldmacher (New York Times) | Published: 8/22/2022
A new conservative group received $1.6 billion from one donor, which among the largest – if not the largest – single contributions ever made to a politically focused nonprofit. The source of the money was Barre Seid, an electronics manufacturing mogul. The beneficiary is a nonprofit controlled by Leonard Leo, an activist who has used his connections to Republican donors and politicians to help engineer the conservative dominance of the Supreme Court and to finance battles over abortion rights, voting rules, and climate change policy.
Ex-Interior Secretary Zinke Lied to Investigators in Casino Case, Watchdog Finds
MSN – Lisa Rein and Anna Phillips (Washington Post) | Published: 8/24/2022
Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, the leading contender to win a new U.S. House seat representing Montana this fall, lied to investigators several times about conversations he had with federal officials, lawmakers, and lobbyists about a petition by two Indian tribes to operate a casino in New England, the department’s watchdog said. Investigators concluded that when questioned about his talks with Interior attorneys and others outside the department, Zinke and his then-chief of staff failed to comply with their “duty of candor” as public officials to tell the truth, the report said.
Federal Campaign Spending on Childcare Expenses Grows in 2022 Midterms
OpenSecrets – Taylor Giorno | Published: 8/17/2022
Federal candidates are on track to spend more money on childcare ahead of 2022 midterms than in either of the previous two election cycles. For the first time since the FEC approved the expense in 2018, men are driving the increase in childcare expenditures. U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell’s campaign spent more money on childcare than any other male federal candidate this election cycle as of June 30. A record number of mothers were sworn into Congress in 2019. But an analysis shows fewer women are using federal funds to cover childcare expenses this election cycle.
Files Copied from Voting Systems Were Shared with Trump Supporters, Election Deniers
MSN – Jon Swaine, Aaron Davis, Amy Gardner, and Emma Brown (Washington Post) | Published: 8/22/2022
Sensitive election system files obtained by attorneys working to overturn former President Trump’s 2020 defeat were shared with election deniers, conspiracy theorists, and right-wing commentators. A computer forensics firm hired by the attorneys placed the files on a server, where company records show they were downloaded dozens of times. The records include contracts between the firm and the Trump-allied attorneys, notably Sidney Powell. The data files are described as copies of components from election systems in Coffee County, Georgia, and Antrim County, Michigan.
‘It’s a Rip-Off’: GOP spending under fire as Senate hopefuls seek rescue
MSN – Isaac Arnsdorf (Washington Post) | Published: 8/19/2022
Republican U.S. Senate hopefuls are getting crushed on airwaves across the country while their national campaign fund is pulling ads and running low on cash, leading some campaign advisers to demand an audit of the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s (NRSC) finances. The NRSC canceled bookings worth about $10 million. A spokesperson said the NRSC is not abandoning those races but prioritizing ad spots that are shared with campaigns and benefit from discounted rates. Still, the cancellations forfeit cheaper prices that came from booking early, and better budgeting could have covered both.
Justice Dept. Memo to Not Charge Trump in Russia Probe Released
MSN – Devlin Barrett and Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) | Published: 8/24/2022
The Justice Department released the entire text of a secret 2019 memo that laid out the legal rationale for not charging then-President Trump with committing obstruction of justice in the investigation into whether Russia interfered in the 2016 election. The memo says no potential instances of obstruction of justice by Trump that were cited by special counsel Robert Mueller III’s “would warrant a prosecution for obstruction of justice,” regardless of whether the person being investigated was a sitting president.
New Claims Against Ex-Miami Congressman Hired by Venezuela
Yahoo News – Joshua Goodman (Associated Press) | Published: 8/20/2022
Former U.S. Rep. David Rivera, who signed a $50 million consulting contract with Venezuela’s socialist government, not only did no apparent work, but also channeled a large chunk of the money to a yacht company on behalf of a fugitive billionaire, according to new allegations in a civil suit. Rivera’s Interamerican Consulting was sued by PDV USA, a Delaware-based affiliate of Venezuelan-owned Citgo. It alleges Rivera performed no work for the $50 million contract he signed in 2017 for three months of “strategic consulting” meant to build bridges with key U.S. stakeholders.
Rep. Cawthorn Tells Feds He Forgot About $236K; Sends Amended Campaign Finance Report
Yahoo News – Joe Burgess (Asheville Citizen-Times) | Published: 8/22/2022
Days after filing a mandatory federal campaign finance document whose month-late arrival could garner him more than $17,000 in fines, U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn has filed another document saying he got the first report wrong. That is because he forgot about the $235,566 that he personally gave the campaign, the latest report says. While amendments such as the one Cawthorn filed are not uncommon, ones that show large changes can trigger FEC action, said FEC spokesperson Mills Martin. “What is part of the amendment that might be looked at by the FEC are what the changes are and what the additional amounts are,” Martin said.
Republicans Turn Against League of Women Voters
ProPublica – Megan O’Matz | Published: 8/18/2022
The League of Women Voters, known for focusing on voter registration, hosting debates, and conducting candidate surveys, has been more visible recently in advocating for issues like racial equity and abortion rights. As a result, the league is drawing criticism in ways that are extraordinary for the once-staid group. Republicans are pushing back, casting it as a collection of angry leftists. With more right-leaning candidates snubbing the league, voters are less likely to hear directly from those candidates in unscripted forums. That pushback sidelines the league at a time when misinformation has become a significant force in elections at every level.
Some Companies’ Political Spending Fuel Voter Suppression. Shareholders are Pushing Back
Fast Company – Kathryn Kranhold (Capital & Main) | Published: 8/25/2022
Shareholders are pressuring some of the largest American corporations to account for political spending that may be aiding voter suppression or election interference. In the past, shareholder activism has focused mostly on corporate-responsibility causes, such as environmental issues and pay equity between men and women as well as governance like executive pay. The newest movement, addressing threats to democracy, is gaining traction.
Trump Had More Than 300 Classified Documents at Mar-a-Lago
Yahoo News – Maggie Haberman, Jodi Kantor, Adam Goldman, and Ben Protess (New York Times) | Published: 8/22/2022
The initial batch of documents retrieved by the National Archives from former President Trump in January included more than 150 marked as classified, a number that ignited concern at the Justice Department and helped trigger the investigation that led FBI agents to search Mar-a-Lago seeking to recover more, people briefed on the matter said. In total, the government has recovered more than 300 documents with classified markings from Trump since he left office. The volume of the sensitive material found in Trump’s possession helps explain why the Justice Department moved so urgently to hunt down any further classified materials he might have.
Trump Kept More Than 700 Pages of Classified Documents, Letter from National Archives Says
Minneapolis Star Tribune – Alan Feuer (New York Times) | Published: 8/23/2022
Donald Trump took more than 700 pages of classified documents, including some related to the nation’s most covert intelligence operations, to his private club and residence in Florida when he left the White House, according to a letter the National Archives sent to his lawyers. The letter described the alarm in the Justice Department as officials realized how serious the documents were. It also suggested top prosecutors and members of the intelligence community were delayed in conducting a damage assessment about the documents’ removal as Trump’s lawyers tried to argue some of them might have been protected by executive privilege.
White Coats in the State Capital: OB-GYNs become political force in abortion wars
Yahoo News – Alice Miranda Ollstein and Megan Messerly (Politico) | Published: 8/22/2022
Physicians, many of whom have never mobilized politically, are banding together in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, lobbying state lawmakers, testifying before committees, forming PACs, and launching online campaigns against proposed abortion restrictions. Lawmakers who are physicians are using their medical backgrounds to persuade colleagues to scale back some of the more restrictive and punitive portions of anti-abortion laws being considered. The new groups’ early successes in some of the nation’s most conservative states signal the power they hope to wield in the coming months as well as in years to come.
Canada – Ethics Investigation Flags Problem with Transparency in Alberta’s Lobbyist Act
MSN – Hamdi Issawi (Edmonton Journal) | Published: 8/22/2022
One of Alberta’s rules for registering lobbyists needs to change “to promote public transparency” according to a recent investigation by the province’s office of the ethics commissioner. The office began an investigation in May to determine whether Mark Kuspira, the owner of a business known as Crush Imports, had breached the Lobbyists Act – specifically whether he failed to appropriately file a return with the lobbyist registry, and whether he had been lobbying without a filed return.
From the States and Municipalities
Alaska – Ranked Choice Voting, in First Test in Alaska, Is Already Under Attack
Yahoo News – Nathaniel Herz (Anchorage Daily News) | Published: 8/17/2022
Alaskans went to the polls on August 16 for the first time using a new ranked choice system that is already under attack by a number of the politicians competing within it, and voters, in interviews, offered wide-ranging reviews. Many said they like the new system and called it intuitive. But there was also anger from voters across the political spectrum, even though much of the criticism of ranked choice has so far come from conservatives who assert it was set up to protect incumbent U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski from right-wing challengers.
Arizona – Court Battles Rage Over 3 Arizona Voter Initiatives
MSN – Bob Christie (Associated Press) | Published: 8/15/2022
Proponents of three voter initiatives who each turned in hundreds of thousands of signatures to qualify them for the November ballot are trying to beat back legal challenges that could prevent them from going before voters. Two of the measures – one requiring disclosure of who is funding political campaigns and another rolling back or blocking efforts by Republicans to tighten voting rules – are being challenged by pro-business groups. They alleged paid petition circulators made errors or omitted required information on their registrations with the secretary of state or petitions.
Arkansas – Court Tosses Arkansas Law Limiting Election Helpers
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette – Doug Thompson | Published: 8/23/2022
A 2009 Arkansas law forbidding one person from acting as translator for more than six voters in casting their ballots violates the federal Voting Rights Act, U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Brooks ruled. A provision of the 1965 law allows voters who require assistance because of an inability to read or write to get assistance from a person of the voter’s choice, Brooks said. His order told state and county election officials to cease trying to enforce the six-person limit and strike all mention of it from election materials.
Arkansas – Settlement Requires Arkansas Senator to Unblock Critics
MSN – Andrew DeMillo (Associated Press) | Published: 8/17/2022
Arkansas Sen. Jason Rapert will be required to unblock critics from his social media accounts under a settlement a national atheists’ group. Rapert is required to remove any restrictions on his social media accounts and will have to pay more than $16,000 to American Atheists for costs related to a lawsuit. Rapert said he is the founder and president of the National Association of Christian Lawmakers, which works to “restore the Judeo-Christian foundations of our government.”
California – California Targets Local Recall Election ‘Hyperpartisanship’
MSN – Don Thompson (Associated Press) | Published: 8/23/2022
Democratic lawmakers moved to limit the “hyperpartisanship” they said has increasingly corrupted California’s local recall elections, over the objection of Republicans who said it could boost costs and thwart voters’ will. Currently, voters generally decide whether to recall a sitting official and choose that official’s replacement at the same time and on the same ballot. But that could result in a replacement taking office with a minority of votes in a multi-candidate field, and with potentially fewer votes than the official who is ousted.
California – Judge Issues Order That Keeps Herb Wesson Off the L.A. City Council
MSN – David Zahniser (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 8/23/2022
A judge barred former Los Angeles City Councilperson Herb Wesson from returning to City Hall as a temporary fill-in for council member Mark Ridley-Thomas for at least two months, leaving his district without a voting representative. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California has argued Wesson is barred under the city’s term limit law from returning to the council while Ridley-Thomas fights corruption charges. Wesson served more than three terms, the maximum allowed, before being appointed to the temporary post earlier this year.
California – This Former L.A. Politician Took Cash in Envelopes. Now He’s Been Fined $79,830
MSN – David Zahniser (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 8/17/2022
Five years ago, Los Angeles City Councilperson Mitchell Englander took a fateful trip to Las Vegas with a clutch of businesspeople and city staffers, accepting a free hotel room, expensive liquor, and an envelope containing $10,000, among other things. That trip eventually led to a 14-month prison sentence for Englander. The city Ethics Commission voted recently to levy a $79,830 penalty against him for violating gift laws. Commission investigators concluded Englander far exceeded the city’s limits on gifts to public officials, failed to fully report those gifts, and misused his position as a council member.
Florida – DeSantis’s New Election Crimes Unit Makes Its First Arrests
MSN – Lori Rozsa and Tim Craig (Washington Post) | Published: 8/18/2022
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the first arrests made by the state’s new elections police force – twenty people previously incarcerated for murder or sexual assault who he said had illegally voted in the 2020 election. The Florida Legislature passed a bill creating the Office of Election Crimes and Security earlier this year at DeSantis’s behest. While the 2020 election went smoothly in Florida – DeSantis called it the “gold standard” for elections – the governor has said there are still issues and conservative lawmakers have sought to further tighten voting regulations.
Florida – Judge Blocks Florida’s ‘Stop Woke Act’ Restrictions for Private Companies
MSN – Tim Craig (Washington Post) | Published: 8/18/2022
A federal judge ruled that a Florida law restricting workplace bias or diversity training violates the First Amendment and cannot be enforced. U.S. District Court Judge Mark Walker said Florida has turned “the First Amendment upside down” by trying to regulate how employers train employees on topics such as racial inclusion and gender equity. The “Stop Woke Act” prohibits trainings in public schools, colleges and universities, and workplaces that may cause someone to feel guilty or ashamed about the past collective actions of their race or sex. A violation of the act is an offense under state anti-discrimination laws.
Georgia – Georgia PSC Elections Again Delayed After High Court Ruling
MSN – Jeff Amy (Associated Press) | Published: 8/19/2022
Two Georgia Public Service Commission elections will not occur this November, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, reversing an earlier appeals court ruling that allowed them to proceed. Instead, the justices reverted to the original decision by a federal judge in Atlanta that postponed the vote after finding that electing the five commissioners statewide illegally diluted Black votes. The Supreme Court ruled U.S. District Court Judge Steven Grimberg’s decision did not come too close to the election.
Georgia – Sen. Graham Gets Temporary Reprieve in Testifying Before Ga. Grand Jury
MSN – Amy Wang and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) | Published: 8/21/2022
A federal appeals court has temporarily paused an order that would have required U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham to testify before a Georgia grand jury investigating Republican efforts to reverse the 2020 presidential election results in the state. The legal maneuvering is the latest sign of tension between prosecutors and high-profile witnesses in the Fulton County district attorney’s expansive criminal probe of alleged election interference by former President Trump and his allies. After seeking repeated delays, Rudy Giuliani testified for six hours recently.
Michigan – Jury Convicts Adam Fox, Barry Croft Jr. in Whitmer Kidnapping Plot
MSN – Tresa Baldas (Detroit Free Press) | Published: 8/23/2022
In a do-over for the government, a federal jury convicted two men charged with plotting to kidnap and kill Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer out of anger over her handling of the pandemic, ending a trial that highlighted the growth of violent extremism in America. Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr. were convicted on all counts and face up to life in prison. The men were judged by a second, more diverse jury than in the first trial, which ended with no convictions for the government. Two men were acquitted in that trial and the jury deadlocked on charges against Fox and Croft Jr., triggering a mistrial that prompted the government to try again.
Missouri – Ex-St. Louis Alderman John Collins-Muhammad Admits Federal Corruption Charges
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Joel Currier | Published: 8/23/2022
Former St. Louis Alderman John Collins-Muhammad pleaded guilty in a federal bribery case against him and two other ex-city officials. He admitted to theft or bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds, racketeering, and wire fraud. Collins-Muhammad is the first of three ex-council members to plead guilty after being indicted on charges of accepting cash bribes from a local businessperson in exchange for tax breaks. He admitted accepting $7,000 in cash, $3,000 in campaign donations, a new iPhone 11, and a 2016 Volkswagen CC sedan in exchange for his help.
New Jersey – Car Insurance Bills Shine Spotlight on Lawmaker Ethics
New Jersey Monitor – Sophie Nieto-Munoz | Published: 8/23/2022
In New Jersey’s part-time Legislature, lawmakers are often involved in legislation related directly to their full-time careers. Often these votes generate little controversy, especially if the bills pass with wide support. While watchdogs might voice concerns about conflicts-of-interest, lawmakers say their day jobs offer an insider’s knowledge that helps them better shape potential policy. But sometimes public policy can lead to financial windfalls. That is why questions are swirling about whether two top lawmakers will financially benefit from a package of bills Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law recently.
New York – Lobbyists Navigate a More Civil Yet Nuanced Landscape in Albany
City & State – Tim Murphy | Published: 8/22/2022
For a decade, and until only about a year ago, lobbyists, advocates, consultants, and others seeking to influence Albany all feared one thing: the wrath of then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his close advisors. Dealing with Cuomo’s inner circle was never pleasant, according to lobbyists, but cross them and they would lash out. In the past year with Gov. Kathy Hochul, they said that has changed.
North Carolina – N.C. Attorney General Can’t Be Charged with Crime Over Campaign Ad – Yet
MSN – Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) | Published: 8/24/2022
An appeals court temporarily blocked an investigation into North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein over a negative campaign ad, saying the state law he is accused of violating is probably unconstitutional. The debate turns on a 1931 law that criminalized the publication of a “derogatory” campaign ad, “knowing such report to be false or in reckless disregard of its truth or falsity.” A grand jury is investigating whether Stein lied during his successful 2020 reelection campaign in an ad blaming his Republican rival for a backlog of untested rape kits. Even if the ad was false, Stein argued, it would be protected under current First Amendment doctrine.
Ohio – Cleveland Businessman Tony George Was Go-Between for FirstEnergy, Ex-House Speaker Larry Householder Over Nuclear Bailout
MSN – Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 8/22/2022
New documents reveal a close relationship between Cleveland restaurateur Tony George and FirstEnergy in the House Bill 6 bribery scheme, with George acting as an intermediary between top company officials and now-indicted former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder. Tracy Aston, FirstEnergy’s assistant controller, identified George as “Individual B” in the utility’s deferred prosecution agreement with federal authorities. The agreement says “Individual B” was in communication with now-fired FirstEnergy Chief Executive Officer Chuck Jones about an early effort to bail out two nuclear power plants, as well as an aborted effort by Householder to skirt state term limits.
Ohio – The Hidden Role of a Religious Lobbying Group in Ohio’s Education ‘Backpack Bill’
Ohio Capital Journal – Zurie Pope | Published: 8/24/2022
An Ohio bill that would send public education money to private schools if a student chooses to attend one was written with help from religious lobbying group the Center for Christian Virtue (CCV) and a think tank that promotes charter schools. Documents reveal CCV’s involvement in House Bill has been more extensive than previously known and included the advice and promotion of outside groups like Heritage Action and the American Legislative Exchange Council.
Pennsylvania – Philly’s Board of Ethics Will Consider Banning Super PAC ‘Redboxing’ Ahead of the 2023 Mayoral Race
Philadelphia Inquirer – Sean Collins Walsh | Published: 8/17/2022
The Philadelphia Board of Ethics heard testimony on whether it should tighten rules aimed at preventing campaigns from indirectly communicating with political groups that can raise and spend money in unlimited amounts but are prohibited from coordinating with candidates. A proposed amendment that aims to crack down on a new strategy known as “redboxing” that some candidates for federal office have used to give instructions to supportive outside spending groups without communicating with them directly. But election lawyers say the wording of the amendment is too broad and could unintentionally capture normal campaign messaging.
South Dakota – SD Gov. Kristi Noem May Have ‘Engaged in Misconduct,’ Ethics Board Says
NBC News – Associated Press | Published: 8/23/2022
The South Dakota Government Accountability Board said it found sufficient information that Gov. Kristi Noem may have “engaged in misconduct” when she intervened in her daughter’s application for a real estate appraiser’s license, and it referred a separate complaint over her airplane use to the state attorney general for investigation. She is under scrutiny from the board after Jason Ravnsborg, the former attorney general, filed complaints that stemmed from media reports on Noem’s actions in office. The governor has denied any wrongdoing.
Tennessee – Former Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada, Cade Cothren Plead Not Guilty to Federal Corruption Charges
MSN – Melissa Brown and Adam Friedman (Tennessean) | Published: 8/23/2022
Former Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada and his onetime chief of staff, Cade Cothren, were arrested on federal corruption charges including bribery, kickbacks, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Prosecutors allege the pair ran a shadowy political consulting firm fronted by Cothren to solicit General Assembly business and siphon off kickbacks. Casada is the first current or former House speaker to be indicted in state history. He resigned as speaker amid a texting scandal over sexually explicit and racist conversations with Cothren.
Texas – Election Staff Abruptly Quits, Upending Rural Texas County
MSN – Paul Weber (Associated Press) | Published: 8/22/2022
Part of why Terry Hamilton says he abruptly left his job running elections in Gillespie County, Texas, is by now a familiar story in America – he became fed up with the harassment that followed the 2020 election. But this was no ordinary exit. On the brink of November’s midterm elections, it was not just Hamilton who quit but also the only other full-time election worker. The sudden emptying of an entire local elections department came less than 70 days before voters start casting ballots.
Texas – One Former and One Current State Rep Are Set to Get Part of Lucrative Houston Airport Contracts
AviationPros – Dylan McGuinness (Houston Chronicle) | Published: 8/18/2022
The Houston City Council passed a lucrative contract granting food and beverage shops inside Bush Intercontinental Airport to a partnership that includes a former legislative colleague and longtime friend of Mayor Sylvester Turner. The city said it will publicly announce the vendors after the second contract passes City Council. An affiliate of SSP Group is leading the food and beverage contract. Multiplex Inc., the concessions company founded by former state Rep. Helen Giddings of Dallas, is a junior partner in that deal. The SSP deal also involves Karen Garcia, the wife of Roland Garcia, who chaired the city’s Hispanic Advisory Council for Turner.
Texas – Texas Bans Local, State Government Entities from Doing Business with Firms That ‘Boycott’ Fossil Fuels
Texas Tribune – Mitchell Ferman | Published: 8/24/2022
Texas banned 10 financial firms from doing business with the state after Comptroller Glenn Hegar said they did not support the oil and gas industry. Hegar sent inquiries to hundreds of financial companies earlier this year requesting information about whether they were avoiding investments in the oil and gas industry in favor of renewable energy companies. The survey was a result of a new law that went into effect in September and prohibits most state agencies, as well as local governments, from contracting with firms that have cut ties with carbon-emitting energy companies.
Washington – ‘Gold Standard’ or Unconstitutional? Facebook and Wash. State AG Spar Over Political Ad Disclosure Law
MSN – Todd Bishop (GeekWire) | Published: 8/16/2022
Facebook parent company Meta and Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson agree on this: the state’s campaign advertising disclosure law is exceptional. But is that good or bad – and more importantly, is the law constitutional? That is a matter of significant disagreement as both sides prepare for a key hearing in King County Superior Court in Seattle. It promises to be a pivotal moment in a long-running dispute over the state’s public disclosure requirements for tech platforms that run campaign ads.
Wyoming – Secretary of State Halts Unusual Effort to Put Candidate on Ballot Against Gray
Casper Star-Tribune – Victoria Eavis | Published: 8/23/2022
The Wyoming secretary of state’s office quashed an effort to put an independent challenger on the ballot to run against state Rep. Chuck Gray, the Republican secretary of state nominee. After Sen. Cale Case challenged the secretary of state’s interpretation of a statute that requires all independent candidates to sign off on their own candidacy, the chief elections office ruled against him. Case was attempting to get former legislator Nathan Winters on the ballot as an independent, despite the fact that Winters does not want to run.
August 25, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “Federal Campaign Spending on Childcare Expenses Grows in 2022 Midterms” by Taylor Giorno for OpenSecrets Elections Arkansas: “Court Tosses Arkansas Law Limiting Election Helpers” by Doug Thompson for Arkansas Democrat-Gazette California: “California Targets Local Recall Election ‘Hyperpartisanship’” […]
National: “Federal Campaign Spending on Childcare Expenses Grows in 2022 Midterms” by Taylor Giorno for OpenSecrets
Arkansas: “Court Tosses Arkansas Law Limiting Election Helpers” by Doug Thompson for Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
California: “California Targets Local Recall Election ‘Hyperpartisanship’” by Don Thompson (Associated Press) for MSN
North Carolina: “N.C. Attorney General Can’t Be Charged with Crime Over Campaign Ad – Yet” by Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Trump Kept More Than 700 Pages of Classified Documents, Letter from National Archives Says” by Alan Feuer (New York Times) for Minneapolis Star Tribune
Missouri: “Ex-St. Louis Alderman John Collins-Muhammad Admits Federal Corruption Charges” by Joel Currier for St. Louis Post-Dispatch
New Jersey: “Car Insurance Bills Shine Spotlight on Lawmaker Ethics” by Sophie Nieto-Munoz for New Jersey Monitor
National: “Republicans Turn Against League of Women Voters” by Megan O’Matz for ProPublica
Ohio: “The Hidden Role of a Religious Lobbying Group in Ohio’s Education ‘Backpack Bill’” by Zurie Pope for Ohio Capital Journal
August 24, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “‘It’s a Rip-Off’: GOP spending under fire as Senate hopefuls seek rescue” by Isaac Arnsdorf (Washington Post) for MSN Elections National: “Files Copied from Voting Systems Were Shared with Trump Supporters, Election Deniers” by Jon Swaine, Aaron […]
National: “‘It’s a Rip-Off’: GOP spending under fire as Senate hopefuls seek rescue” by Isaac Arnsdorf (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Files Copied from Voting Systems Were Shared with Trump Supporters, Election Deniers” by Jon Swaine, Aaron Davis, Amy Gardner, and Emma Brown (Washington Post) for MSN
Texas: “Election Staff Abruptly Quits, Upending Rural Texas County” by Paul Weber (Associated Press) for MSN
National: “Trump Had More Than 300 Classified Documents at Mar-a-Lago” by Maggie Haberman, Jodi Kantor, Adam Goldman, and Ben Protess (New York Times) for Yahoo News
Michigan: “Jury Convicts Adam Fox, Barry Croft Jr. in Whitmer Kidnapping Plot” by Tresa Baldas (Detroit Free Press) for MSN
Ohio: “Cleveland Businessman Tony George Was Go-Between for FirstEnergy, Ex-House Speaker Larry Householder Over Nuclear Bailout” by Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) for MSN
South Dakota: “SD Gov. Kristi Noem May Have ‘Engaged in Misconduct,’ Ethics Board Says” by Associated Press for NBC News
Tennessee: “Former Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada, Cade Cothren Plead Not Guilty to Federal Corruption Charges” by Melissa Brown and Adam Friedman (Tennessean) for MSN
California: “Judge Issues Order That Keeps Herb Wesson Off the L.A. City Council” by David Zahniser (Los Angeles Times) for MSN
Canada: “Ethics Investigation Flags Problem with Transparency in Alberta’s Lobbyist Act” by Hamdi Issawi (Edmonton Journal) for MSN
August 23, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “Massive Dark Money Windfall: New conservative group got $1.6 billion from single donor” by Casey Tolan, Curt Devine, and Drew Griffin for CNN Tennessee: “State Asks Court to Find Cothren in Contempt, Order Him to Respond to […]
National: “Massive Dark Money Windfall: New conservative group got $1.6 billion from single donor” by Casey Tolan, Curt Devine, and Drew Griffin for CNN
Tennessee: “State Asks Court to Find Cothren in Contempt, Order Him to Respond to Subpoenas” by Sam Stockard for Tennessee Lookout
Arizona: “Court Battles Rage Over 3 Arizona Voter Initiatives” by Bob Christie (Associated Press) for MSN
Florida: “DeSantis’s New Election Crimes Unit Makes Its First Arrests” by Lori Rozsa and Tim Craig (Washington Post) for MSN
Georgia: “Sen. Graham Gets Temporary Reprieve in Testifying Before Ga. Grand Jury” by Amy Wang and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Appeals Court Backs Ruling to Release DOJ Memo on Trump Prosecution” by Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney (Politico) for Yahoo News
National: “White Coats in the State Capital: OB-GYNs become political force in abortion wars” by Alice Miranda Ollstein and Megan Messerly (Politico) for Yahoo News
New York: “Lobbyists Navigate a More Civil Yet Nuanced Landscape in Albany” by Tim Murphy for City & State
August 19, 2022 •
National/Federal FBI Arrests Ex-Congressman on Charges of Fraud and Money Laundering MSN – Praveena Somasundaram (Washington Post) | Published: 8/16/2022 Former U.S. Rep. TJ Cox was indicted on 28 charges, including 15 counts of wire fraud and one count of campaign […]
FBI Arrests Ex-Congressman on Charges of Fraud and Money Laundering
MSN – Praveena Somasundaram (Washington Post) | Published: 8/16/2022
Former U.S. Rep. TJ Cox was indicted on 28 charges, including 15 counts of wire fraud and one count of campaign contribution fraud. The indictment says Cox schemed to fund and reimburse people close to him for donations to his campaign. Federal laws do not allow “conduit” or “straw” donations, in which someone makes a political contribution through someone else to their own campaign.
Federal Judiciary Can’t Stop Support Staff from Political Activity
MSN – Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) | Published: 8/18/2022
In March 2018, while weighing candidates for governor in Maryland, Lisa Guffey wanted to attend an event featuring Democrat Ben Jealous. She was told she could not. Her employer, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, had two days earlier imposed new rules barring all employees from expressing political views, attending political events, or engaging in political activity. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has now deemed those restrictions unconstitutional.
Homeland Security Watchdog Cuffari Faces Rebukes from Lawmakers in Missing Texts Case
MSN – Maria Sacchetti (Washington Post) | Published: 8/16/2022
The Department of Homeland Security’s chief watchdog rejected calls from leading Democratic legislators to recuse himself from the investigation into the erasure of text messages that Secret Service agents exchanged during the attack on the Capitol, drawing fresh rebukes from lawmakers. Inspector General Joseph Cuffari said in a letter that he would not share investigative documents or allow his top lieutenants to sit for transcribed interviews before House committees investigating the attack, nor would he provide documents that lawmakers requested.
Jan. 6 Grand Jury Has Subpoenaed White House Documents
Seattle Times – Alan Feuer, Luke Broadwater, and Maggie Haberman (New York Times) | Published: 8/17/2022
Federal prosecutors investigating the role that former President Trump and his allies played in the events leading up to the attack on the U.S. Capitol issued a grand jury subpoena to the National Archives for all the documents the agency provided to a parallel House select committee inquiry. The subpoena, issued to the National Archives in May, made a sweeping demand for “all materials, in whatever form” the archives had given to the January 6 House committee. Those materials included records from the files of Trump’s top aides, his daily schedule, and phone logs and a draft text of the president’s speech that preceded the riot.
Justice Department Opposes Release of Mar-a-Lago Affidavit
MSN – Perry Stein (Washington Post) | Published: 8/15/2022
The Justice Department asked a judge to keep sealed the affidavit underpinning the FBI’s search of former President Trump’s Florida residence, a document thought to hold key details about the government’s investigation into the potential mishandling of classified materials. The court filing was made in response to requests from multiple media outlets seeking the affidavit’s public release. Affidavits typically contain information addressing why authorities think there is evidence at a certain property and other details about a probe. The Justice Department argued that releasing the affidavit could hamper its investigation and potentially harm those involved.
Justice Department Subpoenas Trump White House Lawyer Eric Herschmann
MSN – Betsy Woodruff Swan (Politico) | Published: 8/15/2022
A federal grand jury investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol subpoenaed Trump White House lawyer Eric Herschmann for documents and testimony. Herschmann represented Donald Trump in the former president’s first impeachment trial and later joined the White House as a senior adviser. He did not work in the White House counsel’s office but did provide Trump with legal advice. Because of that responsibility, there will likely be litigation over the scope of the subpoena and over how executive and attorney-client privileges may limit Herschmann’s ability to comply.
Liz Cheney Loses Primary While Vowing Effort to Keep Trump from White House
MSN – Paul Kane and Hannah Knowles (Washington Post) | Published: 8/16/2022
Rep. Liz Cheney, the once-high-ranking Republican who defied her party to wage a lonely crusade against former President Trump, lost her primary by a wide margin while vowing she would do everything in her power to keep Trump from returning to the White House. Harriet Hageman, a lawyer with Trump’s endorsement, ousted Cheney, clinching the GOP nomination for Wyoming’s only U.S. House seat.
On TikTok, Election Misinformation Thrives Ahead of Midterms
Seattle Times – Tiffany Hsu (New York Times) | Published: 8/14/2022
Ahead of the midterm elections this fall, TikTok is shaping up to be a primary incubator of baseless and misleading information, in many ways as problematic as Facebook and Twitter, say researchers who track online falsehoods. The same qualities that allow TikTok to fuel viral dance fads – the platform’s enormous reach, the short length of its videos, its powerful but poorly understood recommendation algorithm – can also make inaccurate claims difficult to contain. Baseless conspiracy theories about certain voter fraud in November are widely viewed on TikTok, which globally has more than a billion active users each month.
Sinema Took Wall Street Money While Killing Tax on Investors
MSN – Brian Slodysko (Associated Press) | Published: 8/14/2022
U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who single-handedly thwarted her party’s longtime goal of raising taxes on wealthy investors, received nearly $1 million over the last year from private equity professionals, hedge fund managers, and venture capitalists whose taxes would have increased under the plan. For years, Democrats have promised to raise taxes on such investors, who pay a significantly lower rate on their earnings than ordinary workers. But Sinema forced a series of changes to the $740-billion election-year spending package.
Trump-Allied Lawyers Pursued Voting Machine Data in Multiple States, Records Reveal
Anchorage Daily News – Emma Brown, Jon Swaine, Aaron Davis, and Amy Gardner (Washington Post) | Published: 8/15/2022
A team of computer experts directed by lawyers allied with former President Trump copied sensitive data from election systems in Georgia as part of a secretive, multistate effort to access voting equipment that was broader, more organized, and more successful than previously reported. As they worked to overturn Trump’s 2020 election defeat, the lawyers asked a forensic data firm to access county election systems in at least three battleground states. There is growing concern among experts that officials sympathetic to Trump’s claims of vote-rigging could undermine election security in the name of protecting it.
Trump’s Angry Words Spur Warnings of Real Violence
MSN – David Klepper (Associated Press) | Published: 8/16/2022
A growing number of ardent Donald Trump supporters seem ready to strike back against the FBI or others who they believe go too far in investigating the former president. Law enforcement officials across the country are warning and being warned about an increase in threats and the potential for violent attacks on federal agents or buildings in the wake of the FBI’s search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence. Experts who study radicalization and online disinformation note the recent increase was sparked by a legal search of Trump’s home. What might happen in the event of arrests or indictments?
Trump’s Secrets: How a records dispute led the FBI to search Mar-a-Lago
MSN – Josh Dawsey, Rosalind Helderman, Jacqueline Alemany, and Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 8/13/2022
The court-authorized search of Mar-a-Lago was a remarkable moment even for Donald Trump, who has been under investigation by state and federal prosecutors nearly continuously since he swore the oath of office in 2017. What began as a low-level dispute over the Trump White House’s chaotic and haphazard record-keeping had morphed into a deeply serious probe of whether the ex-president had endangered national security by hoarding highly classified documents, some potentially related to nuclear weapons. The events marked a turning point in the Justice Department’s posture toward Trump.
Vance, DeSantis Rally Puts ‘Highly Unusual’ Restrictions on Press
MSN – Jeremy Barr (Washington Post) | Published: 8/16/2022
Journalists hoping to cover a Republican rally featuring Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Senate candidate J.D. Vance in Ohio will have to agree to give organizers access to any footage they take and could face questions about what it will be used for. That is among the controversial restrictions placed on journalists as a condition of receiving a press pass to cover the event, which is being organized by Turning Point Action, a conservative nonprofit led by activist Charlie Kirk.
From the States and Municipalities
California – A Bay Area Councilman Had a 14-Year-Old as His Campaign Treasurer. Regulators Want to Put a Kibosh on That.
MSN – Gabriel Greschler (Bay Area News Group) | Published: 8/11/2022
In a ruling released in May that included $15,000 in fines for multiple campaign-related violations, the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) noted Milpitas City Councilperson Anthony Phan hired his 14-year-old cousin as his campaign treasurer. Phan told authorities he gave the teenager $43,000 in cash in a shoebox, and the money was later misreported on campaign disclosures. Now, a newly proposed rule from FPPC staff would prohibit minors from serving in key positions like treasurer or campaign strategist.
California – California Lawmaker Faces Scandal After Lobbyist Tweets About Alleged Affair
MSN – Ken Carlson (Sacramento Bee) | Published: 8/12/2022
State Assemblyperson Heath Flora is dealing with revelations of alleged extramarital affairs as he completes a third term and considers other ambitions. Emily Hughes, a lobbyist for the California Medical Association before she left the job in May, wrote about their relationship on Twitter. The purported involvement with a medical industry lobbyist can create an ethics problem for Flora, who is a member of the Assembly Health Committee. A romantic relationship with a medical industry lobbyist triggers conflict-of-interest rules that might require Flora to abstain from matters before the committee. It also triggers limits on the value of gifts.
California – California Lawmakers Use Secretive Process to Kill Would-Be Laws: ‘Where good bills go to die’
MSN – Andrew Sheeler, Lindsey Holden, and Stephen Hobbs (Sacramento Bee) | Published: 8/16/2022
Twice a year, a legislative instrument called the suspense file leaves many California lawmakers, lobbyists, and members of the public seething. Appropriations committees in the state Senate and Assembly use it to kill or quietly amend bills before they can reach the floor. Proponents say the suspense file is a tool of efficiency, essential for screening the hundreds of bills that come through the Legislature each year for their potential fiscal impact. Detractors call it a burial ground, used by lawmakers for decades to bury politically hazardous measures before they are forced to vote on them.
California – In Wake of ‘Pay to Play’ Fine at OC’s Health Plan for the Poor, Legislators Consider Action
Voice of OC – Nick Gerda | Published: 8/17/2022
In the wake of a “pay-to-play” state fine raising questions about Orange County’s health care plan for the poor, state legislators are now considering banning county supervisors like Andrew Do from working for the agency in the year after they leave office. State regulators fined Do $12,000 for using his CalOptima board position to try to push through lobbying contracts for two of his campaign donors. A media report revealed Do has been growing his influence at the health plan, triggering concerns from local health care leaders and state legislators about the politicization of CalOptima.
Colorado – Colorado Secretary of State Considers New Rules to Implement Campaign Contribution Limits
Colorado Politics – Hannah Metzger | Published: 8/15/2022
The Colorado secretary of state’s office is considering new campaign finance regulations, issuing a notice of proposed rulemaking and scheduling a public hearing. The potential changes stem from two bills passed during this year’s legislative session and signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis: House Bill 1060, which caps donation amounts made to school board candidates, and House Bill 1156, which updates reporting requirements for public officials.
Colorado – Public Money Supports Conservative Colorado Lobbying Group Through Membership Dues
Colorado Newsline – Zoe Schacht | Published: 8/15/2022
Membership in a conservative group that lobbies for property tax cuts and maintaining the Denver’s camping ban is not exclusive to chief executives of private companies. Higher-ups in publicly funded institutions such as universities have a seat at the table, meaning public money is being used to support the group’s conservative agenda. The University of Colorado’s involvement helps it maintain relationships with potential donors and creates networking opportunities for alumni, said Ken McConnellogue, the interim vice president for communications.
Connecticut – Port Authority Replaces Ethics Liaison, Weighs in on Previous Missteps
Connecticut Examiner – Brendan Crowley | Published: 8/16/2022
In a move reportedly unrelated to his recently announced ethics violation, the Connecticut Port Authority has replaced Andrew Lavigne as its liaison to the Office of State Ethics. Veronica Calvert, who recently re-joined the authority as its finance director, replaced Lavigne in the role. Lavigne’s involvement in the ethics violation drew scrutiny from at least one board member. David Pohorylo said it was a “shame” the violation resulted in board member Don Frost being replaced, “yet others who did accept gifts have suffered no consequences.”
Florida – DeSantis Sued by Prosecutor Suspended Over Stance on Abortion-Related Crime
MSN – Kim Bellware and Lateshia Beachum (Washington Post) | Published: 8/17/2022
A Florida prosecutor sued Gov. Ron DeSantis in a bid to be reinstated after he was dismissed from his post for pledging he would not prosecute cases stemming from the state’s 15-week abortion ban and potential bans on gender-affirming care. Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren argued his suspension was unlawful on First Amendment grounds and characterized his removal as “retaliation” by DeSantis against a critic and political rival.
Florida – Elections Panel Issues $21K Fine to Committee Connected to Associated Industries of Florida
Florida Politics – Gary Rohrer | Published: 8/16/2022
The Florida Election Commission issued a $21,250 fine to a political committee that has received more than $1.7 million from entities connected to Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) in the last four years. The sanction stems from an $85,000 transfer from the Floridians for Economic Advancement committee to Citizens for a United Florida Inc. in January 2021. The transfer was not reported to the state until November 2021. For such a sophisticated operation to have such a large payment go missing for nine months is suspicious, Commission Chairperson Nicholas Primrose said.
Florida – Mullins, ‘Potentially Bankrupt,’ Lists Different Net Worth Values on Two Legal Forms, but Says Both Are Accurate
Palm Coast Observer – Jonathan Simmons | Published: 8/14/2022
Flagler County Commission Chairperson Joe Mullins filed an August 2 document with the Circuit Court stating his net worth was negative $675,192.16 and he was “potentially bankrupt.” About two months before, he submitted a form to the Supervisor of Elections Office stating his net worth was (positive) $515,602. Mullins in a statement said the elections form and the court filing are both accurate despite the difference in the numbers, because the forms account for different things and were filed about two months apart.
Florida – This Florida Utility’s Secret Cash Helped GOP Win Gainesville State Senate Seat
Miami Herald – Mary Ellen Klaus, Nicholas Nehama, and Ana Claudia Chacin | Published: 8/5/2022
Florida Power & Light (FPL) wanted a Republican incumbent to retain a state Senate seat against a strong Democratic challenger. The utility used a nonprofit group, Broken Promises, to secretly bankroll a spoiler candidate. Running as a no-party candidate in the general election, that spoiler split the liberal vote, swinging the race to the incumbent. Broken Promises did not have to disclose its donors, so no one knew FPL paid to secretly manipulate a state election. It raises questions about whether the utility “subverted” a fair election, said Saurav Ghosh of the Campaign Legal Center.
Georgia – Giuliani Appears Before Georgia Grand Jury in Election Probe
MSN – Matthew Brown and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) | Published: 8/17/2022
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis achieved a long-sought goal with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani appearing for six hours before a grand jury investigating efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Giuliani, who is now the highest-profile member of former President Trump’s inner circle to appear before grand jurors, was informed he is a target of the inquiry. It is not clear what Giuliani said in his closed-door appearance. It came as Willis also saw new challenges to her inquiry.
Georgia – Judge Orders Graham to Testify in Atlanta-Area Trump Probe
Yahoo News – Kyle Cheney, Nicholas Wu, and Josh Gerstein (Politico) | Published: 8/16/2022
A federal judge turned down U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s bid to throw out a subpoena compelling him to testify before the Atlanta-area grand jury investigating Donald Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election. The ruling is a victory for District Attorney Fani Willis, who is leading the grand jury probe that resulted in a subpoena for Graham to appear for an interview. Investigators intend to query Graham about two phone calls with Georgia election officials, at the same time Trump was attempting to subvert his defeat, that included a discussion of the process for counting absentee ballots.
Illinois – Ethics Board Clears Lightfoot’s Use of City Vehicles, Aides, Security Detail on Campaign Trail
WTTW – Heather Cherone | Published: 8/17/2022
Mayor Lori Lightfoot can travel to campaign events in her city vehicle accompanied by an aide and her security detail, all paid for by taxpayers, without violating the city’s ethics ordinance, the Chicago Board of Ethics determined. The advisory opinion represents the first time the board has addressed the issues that surround the decision by an incumbent mayor to run for re-election. The opinion comes as the Ethics Board has faced several cases involving elected officials accused of improperly using city resources for non-official purposes.
Indiana – Ex-GOP State Sen. Brent Waltz Gets 10 Months in Prison for Straw Donor Scheme
MSN – Johnny Magdaleno (Indianapolis Star) | Published: 8/17/2022
Former Indiana Sen. Brent Waltz was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment after he acknowledged his role in a scheme to route $40,500 in illegal contributions to his failed bid for Congress. Waltz pleaded guilty to making and receiving conduit contributions and making false statements to the FBI. He was charged after he worked with political consultant Kelley Rogers to funnel funds from Indiana casino company New Centaur to his 2015 House campaign through straw donors.
Indiana – Rokita Consultant Hired, But Facing $18,000 in Lobbyist Registration Fines
Indiana Capital Chronicle – Leslie Bonilla Muñiz | Published: 8/11/2022
A conservative policy activist and consultant working on contract for Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita’s office was hired as a lobby-exempt, full-time employee after she mistakenly registered as a lobbyist for the wrong entity but faces $18,000 in related fines. State law requires lobbyists to not only file registration statements (within 15 days of becoming a lobbyist, plus annually), but also file semi-annual activity reports. Lobbyists must also complete separate filings for gifts, purchases, amendments, and activity terminations. Miss a deadline, and a lobbyist is fined $100 a day, up to $4,500, until the filing is in.
New York – Casino Pushing for NYC License Forces Out Executive and Mayor Adams’ Pal Over City Job
New York Post – Carl Campanile and Bernadette Hogan | Published: 8/14/2022
Resorts World casino has “parted ways” with its security director, Timothy Pearson, after learning the longtime friend of New York City Mayor Eric Adams was serving as a public safety advisor to the mayor while getting paid by the New York City Economic Development Corporation. Pearson’s position with the city’s economic development arm raised ethics concerns as Resorts World is seeking to expand its gambling operations in Queens.
New York – Judge Rules Against State Ethics Panel in Cuomo’s Book Deal Case
Albany Times Union – Brendan Lyons | Published: 8/16/2022
A New York Supreme Court justice ruled against the former state ethics commission in its court battle seeking to force ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo to repay $5.1 million he received for writing a book about his administration’s early response to the coronavirus pandemic. Acting state Supreme Court Justice Denise Hartman’s ruling upholding Cuomo’s petition to scuttle the actions of the Joint Commission on Public Ethics also found the commission had violated due process when it sought to undo an earlier approval of the book deal by a staff attorney.
New York – New York’s New State Government Ethics and Lobbying Oversight Body Takes Shape
Gotham Gazette – Ethan Geringer-Sameth | Published: 8/15/2022
New York’s new state government ethics commission, set to replace the Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE), will soon take its first steps when its members are approved by a committee of law school deans. Nine out of 11 nominees to the new Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government have been formally named by New York’s statewide elected officials and legislative leaders. For now, 46 JCOPE employees, including its final executive director, have remained at work under the new name, administering financial disclosures laws and maintaining and auditing the state’s lobbying registry, potentially giving informal guidance in the process.
New York – Senate GOP to Pay $200K Settlement in Campaign Finance Probe
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 8/16/2022
State Board of Elections enforcement counsel Michael Johnson charged that New York Senate Republicans abused their housekeeping account in the lead-up to the 2016 election by issuing a series of campaign-style mailers that allegedly crossed a line into expressly seeking election of GOP candidates. While potential fines and penalties could have totaled more than $2 million, Johnson signed off on the $200,000 settlement agreement. Senate Republicans suggest the investigation had partisan undertones, arguing Johnson’s legal theory contradicted a formal opinion authored by the Board of Elections in 2013.
New York – Trump CFO’s Plea Deal Could Make Him a Prosecution Witness
Yahoo News – Michael Sisak (Associated Press) | Published: 8/18/2022
The chief financial officer of Donald Trump’s company, Allen Weisselberg, will plead guilty to tax violations in a deal that would require him to testify about illicit business practices at the Trump Organization. Weisselberg is charged with accepting more than $1.7 million in off-the-books compensation from the former president’s company over several years, including untaxed perks like rent, car payments, and school tuition. Attorney Nicholas Gravante Jr. said his client would plead guilty in exchange for a promised sentence of five months in jail.
North Carolina – North Carolina Elections Board Looking for Public Input Regarding Political Committee Regulations
Center Square – Victor Skinner | Published: 8/16/2022
The North Carolina State Board of Elections is soliciting public comment on proposed rule changes regarding political committees that do not file finance disclosure reports on time. The proposed changes would allow a political committee, referendum committee, or individual to request a waiver of a civil late penalty by using a form on the board’s website and returning it within 60 days of the notice of penalty assessment.
Ohio – Texts, Calendars, Emails Link DeWine to FirstEnergy’s Bribery Scandal
Ohio Capital Journal – Jake Zuckerman | Published: 8/15/2022
Records suggest Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and his administration were more active than previously known in pushing for passage of a nuclear power plant bailout now at the center of a corruption scandal. Records show DeWine met repeatedly to discuss energy policy with FirstEnergy officials and at least once with former House Speaker Larry Householder, who has been criminally accused of taking a bribe from the utility to pass House Bill 6. Despite warnings, DeWine appointed Sam Randazzo in 2019 to chair the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. FirstEnergy admitted it paid Randazzo a $4.3 million bribe to act in the company’s interests.
Rhode Island – Rep. Carlos Tobon Hit with $3,600 Fine for Over a Dozen Ethics Violations
WPRI – Steph Machado, Eli Sherman, Ted Nesi, and Tim White | Published: 8/16/2022
The Rhode Island Ethics Commission fined state Rep. Carlos Tobon $3,600 after an investigation revealed he repeatedly violated the state ethics code by failing to report a series of unpaid debts, business ownerships, and board memberships despite a legal requirement to do so annually. Tobon never showed up to the House again after a media report aired on May 5, missing the final seven weeks of the legislative session. He was also kicked off the Finance Committee by Speaker Joe Shekarchi just hours after the story came out. Yet Tobon never resigned his seat.
Tennessee – Cothren Challenges Subpoena Order by State Registry
Tennessee Lookout – Sam Stockard | Published: 8/16/2022
The former chief of staff for ex-House Speaker Glen Casada is continuing to fight a subpoena to testify before the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance about a PAC he ran secretly to attack political adversaries. Cynthia Sherwood, the attorney for Cade Cothren, claims the court should not hold him in contempt for invoking his right against self-incrimination in response to subpoenas. In advance of a hearing, Sherwood is arguing that overlapping cases against the former House speaker’s chief of staff should circumvent the state subpoena.
Wisconsin – Wisconsin Assembly Leader Axes 2020 Election Investigation After Beating Trump-Backed Primary Challenger
Yahoo News – Zach Montellaro (Politico) | Published: 8/12/2022
Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos ended a controversial partisan review of the 2020 election, which he and GOP legislators had funded for the past year, days after Vos defeated a primary challenger. Vos ended the review and removed the chief investigator, former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, after more than a year and over $1 million in spending. Vos narrowly won his primary over an opponent who had endorsements from both former President Trump and Gableman.
Wyoming – Confusion, Compliance Concerns Color Campaign Finance Filings
WyoFile – Maggie Mullen | Published: 8/15/2022
In the wake of Wyoming’s first campaign finance filings of 2022, some lawmakers, candidates, and elections watchers are raising concerns about accountability, lack of oversight, and confusion. In a year with “election integrity” on the ballot in numerous races, and what is shaping up to be record spending, some fear new rules and a lack of proactive compliance checks by the secretary of state could result in inadvertent violations, or worse.
August 16, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “Sinema Took Wall Street Money While Killing Tax on Investors” by Brian Slodysko (Associated Press) for MSN Elections National: “Trump-Allied Lawyers Pursued Voting Machine Data in Multiple States, Records Reveal” by Emma Brown, Jon Swaine, Aaron Davis, […]
National: “Sinema Took Wall Street Money While Killing Tax on Investors” by Brian Slodysko (Associated Press) for MSN
National: “Trump-Allied Lawyers Pursued Voting Machine Data in Multiple States, Records Reveal” by Emma Brown, Jon Swaine, Aaron Davis, and Amy Gardner (Washington Post) for Anchorage Daily News
Georgia: “Giuliani Is Target in Georgia Criminal Probe of Possible Interference in 2020 Election, Lawyer Says” by Eugene Scott and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “California Lawmaker Faces Scandal After Lobbyist Tweets About Alleged Affair” by Ken Carlson (Sacramento Bee) for MSN
Florida: “Rules for Covering DeSantis Visit to Pittsburgh Pose Ethical Quandary, Experts Say” by Chris Potter for WESA
New York: “New York’s New State Government Ethics and Lobbying Oversight Body Takes Shape” by Ethan Geringer-Sameth for Gotham Gazette
Ohio: “Texts, Calendars, Emails Link DeWine to FirstEnergy’s Bribery Scandal” by Jake Zuckerman for Ohio Capital Journal
Colorado: “Public Money Supports Conservative Colorado Lobbying Group Through Membership Dues” by Zoe Schacht for Colorado Newsline
August 15, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Florida: “This Florida Utility’s Secret Cash Helped GOP Win Gainesville State Senate Seat” by Mary Ellen Klaus, Nicholas Nehama, and Ana Claudia Chacin for Miami Herald Elections Wisconsin: “Wisconsin Assembly Leader Axes 2020 Election Investigation After Beating Trump-Backed […]
Florida: “This Florida Utility’s Secret Cash Helped GOP Win Gainesville State Senate Seat” by Mary Ellen Klaus, Nicholas Nehama, and Ana Claudia Chacin for Miami Herald
Wisconsin: “Wisconsin Assembly Leader Axes 2020 Election Investigation After Beating Trump-Backed Primary Challenger” by Zach Montellaro (Politico) for Yahoo News
National: “Under Fire, Homeland Security Watchdog Delays Probe – with GOP Help” by Lisa Rein (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Trump’s Secrets: How a records dispute led the FBI to search Mar-a-Lago” by Josh Dawsey, Rosalind Helderman, Jacqueline Alemany, and Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “A Bay Area Councilman Had a 14-Year-Old as His Campaign Treasurer. Regulators Want to Put a Kibosh on That.” by Gabriel Greschler (Bay Area News Group) for MSN
New York: “Jury Selection Will Start in October for Trump Organization Criminal Trial” by Ilya Marritz for NPR
Ohio: “Unfilled Records Requests Hide the Full Story Behind Ohio’s Utility Corruption Scandal” by Kathiann Kowalski (Energy News Network) for WVIZ
Indiana: “Rokita Consultant Hired, But Facing $18,000 in Lobbyist Registration Fines” by Leslie Bonilla Muñiz for Indiana Capital Chronicle
August 12, 2022 •
National/Federal Appeals Court Rules IRS Must Provide Trump’s Tax Returns to House Committee MSN – Harper Neidig (The Hill) | Published: 8/9/2022 The IRS must hand over former President Trump’s tax returns to a U.S. House committee, a federal appeals court […]
Appeals Court Rules IRS Must Provide Trump’s Tax Returns to House Committee
MSN – Harper Neidig (The Hill) | Published: 8/9/2022
The IRS must hand over former President Trump’s tax returns to a U.S. House committee, a federal appeals court ruled, dismissing a long-running legal challenge to block tax officials from complying with a request for the records from Democratic lawmakers. A three-judge panel for the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously with the Biden administration and the Ways and Means Committee, ruling against Trump’s arguments against the committee’s authority, his privacy concerns, and his claim that complying with the request would be unconstitutional.
DaVita Helped Craft New Bill to Fix ‘Loophole’ Left by Supreme Court Ruling, Documents Show
Yahoo News – Megan Wilson (Politico) | Published: 8/9/2022
Roughly two months after dialysis company DaVita lost a Supreme Court case involving insurance coverage for its services, Congress introduced bipartisan legislation that would be a boon for dialysis providers. Its language appears to be largely modeled from a proposal circulated by the company. The new bill would obligate health plans to cover dialysis the same way they do treatments for other chronic illnesses and, if enacted, would likely increase reimbursement amounts for companies like DaVita.
Facebook Bans Hate Speech but Still Makes Money from White Supremacists
MSN – Naomi Nix (Washington Post) | Published: 8/10/2022
Facebook has long banned content referencing white nationalism. But a plethora of hate groups still populate the site, and the company boosts its revenue by running ads on searches for these pages. The findings by the Tech Transparency Project illustrate the ease with which bigoted groups can evade Facebook’s detection systems, despite the company’s years-long ban against posts that attack people on the basis of their race, religion, sexual orientation, and other characteristics. Activists have charged that by allowing hate speech to proliferate across its networks, Facebook opens the door for extremist groups to organize deadly attacks.
FBI Arrests Former Puerto Rico Governor on Bribery Charges
MSN – Perry Stein (Washington Post) | Published: 8/4/2022
Federal law enforcement agents arrested former Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced, charging her in a bribery scheme that was allegedly aimed at financing her failed 2020 gubernatorial campaign. Officials said while Vázquez Garced was governor in 2019 and 2020, she allegedly took campaign donations from a banker, Julio Martin Herrera Velutini, and a former FBI agent, Mark Rossini, who was consulting for the bank. Herrera Velutini and Rossini allegedly paid more than $300,000 to consultants who supported Vázquez Garced’s campaign.
Former Health Minister Steve Brine Cleared of Lobbying Beach for Second Time in a Year Because No VAT Was Paid
Business Insider – Catherine Neilan | Published: 8/8/2022
A former United Kingdom health minister has been cleared of breaching lobbying rules for a second time in less than a year, because in both cases no value added tax was paid. Steve Brine, who served in Theresa May’s government until March 2019, messaged then-health secretary Matt Hancock about Remedium Partners. He was being paid £1,600 a month. Former ministers are banned from lobbying ministers for two years after their last day in office. The message was sent in March 2020, meaning his approach fell within the restricted period.
Get Ready for Many More Political Emails, as Federal Regulators OK Google’s Plan to Drop Spam Filters for Eligible Federal Candidates
MSN – Dave Levinthal (Business Insider) | Published: 8/11/2022
The FEC ruled Google could legally launch a pilot program for candidates that allows them to skirt email spam filters when raising money from, or otherwise communicating with, prospective voters and donors. Despite a torrent of public outrage preceding the vote, Google is now free to invite federal candidates to sign up for the email pilot program, which would amount to a free pass out of Gmail spam-box purgatory. The FEC had to decide whether Google giving some candidates a break from spam filters constituted an illegal in-kind political contribution.
Homeland Security Watchdog Previously Accused of Misleading Investigators, Report Says
MSN – Lisa Rein, Carol Leonnig, and Maria Sacchetti (Washington Post) | Published: 8/4/2022
The Homeland Security watchdog now under scrutiny for his handling of deleted Secret Service text messages from the attack on the Capitol previously was accused of misleading federal investigators and running “afoul” of ethics regulations while he was in charge of a Justice Department inspector general field office in Tucson. Separately, investigators found Joseph Cuffari broke ethics rules by referring law firms to the prisoner’s family, including firms where some of his close friends worked.
Maps in Four States Were Ruled Illegal Gerrymanders. They’re Being Used Anyway.
Eminetra.com – Michael Wines (New York Times) | Published: 8/8/2022
Judges in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Ohio have found Republican legislators illegally drew those states’ congressional maps along racial or partisan lines, or that a trial very likely would conclude they did. Judges in the past who have reached similar findings ordered new maps, or had an expert draw them, to ensure elections were fair. But a shift in election law philosophy at the Supreme Court, combined with a new aggressiveness among Republicans who drew the maps, has upended that model. This time, all four states are using the rejected maps, and questions about their legality for future elections will be hashed out in court later.
Mar-a-Lago Search Appears Focused on Whether Trump, Aides Withheld Items
MSN – Devlin Barrett, Josh Dawsey, Rosalind Helderman, Jacqueline Alemany, and Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 8/9/2022
In the months before the FBI’s dramatic move to execute a search warrant at former president Trump’s Florida home and open his safe to look for items, federal authorities grew increasingly concerned Trump or his lawyers and aides had not returned all the documents and other material that were government property, according to people familiar with the matter. Over months of discussions about whether documents were still missing, some officials also came to suspect Trump’s representatives were not truthful at times, sources said.
Simmering Threat of Violence Comes to Fore with Search of Trump Property
MSN – Hannah Allam (Washington Post) | Published: 8/9/2022
Within hours of the FBI search at Donald Trump’s Florida compound, Republican lawmakers, conservative talk-show hosts, anti-government provocateurs, and pro-Trump conspiracy theorists began issuing explicit or thinly veiled calls for violence. Extremist organizers have tried to hold on to the momentum they built in recent years by finding causes disparate factions could rally around. With each iteration, analysts say, the networks have grown more sophisticated and more violent. The search at Mar-a-Lago for classified documents is now presented as a tipping point, an existential threat to the country that true patriots must thwart.
The Newest Fad in Fundraising: Gold-level clubs for lobbyists
MSN – Haily Fuchs (Politico) | Published: 8/11/2022
An increasingly popular fad in campaign fundraising is access to small gatherings of politicians that lobbyists can purchase. Instead of brief face time with a lawmaker at a single event, lobbyists are offered the opportunity to develop almost a familial relationship with candidates over a series of them. Attendance at events often tops out at between 15 to 20 people, usually registered lobbyists. They were created to entice donations from individuals rather than corporate PACs. Lobbyists can, in turn, use their membership as a sell for potential new clients.
Voters Aren’t the Only Ones Feeling the Effects of Inflation
MSN – Kate Ackley (Roll Call) | Published: 8/5/2022
High inflation is not just a political messaging point to some candidates running for office. The cost of gasoline, travel, staff pay, printed materials, and food for events all affect the bottom lines of campaigns. Some say they are feeling the pinch of niner percent inflation and can relate to voters for whom rising prices is a top-of-mind matter in this year’s midterm elections. This period of high inflation will ripple into the next election cycle, too.
Who Is Scott Perry, Trump Ally and Lawmaker Whose Phone Was Seized by FBI?
MSN – Kim Bellware (Washington Post) | Published: 8/9/2022
U.S. Rep. Scott Perry’s cellphone was seized as part of the Justice Department’s criminal investigation into the use of fake electors to try to overturn President Biden’s victory. Perry is the first member of Congress known to have his phone seized as part of the probe into the attempt at the U.S. Capitol to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Perry did not say why investigators confiscated his phone and wrote in a statement that the contents of his phone are not the “government’s business.”
From the States and Municipalities
California – Anaheim City Council Votes to Investigate Itself Following FBI Corruption Probe
LAist – Jill Replogle | Published: 8/10/2022
The city of Anaheim will fund an independent audit of campaign contributions to former Mayor Harry Sidhu and current city council members following an FBI corruption probe that came to light in May. The council voted to hire the firm JL Group to carry out the investigation. Sidhu resigned after it became public the FBI is investigating him for alleged corruption in connection with the sale of Angel Stadium. The audit is intended to provide a measure of transparency after warrants revealed what the FBI called a “covert group” that wielded influence over city government.
California – DA Jenkins Pocketed Six Figures as Consultant for Nonprofit Linked to Boudin Recall Backers
San Francisco Standard – Michael Barba | Published: 8/8/2022
Brooke Jenkins did not just quit her job as a local prosecutor to volunteer for the recall against her former boss, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin. Newly filed records show she also collected more than $100,000 as a consultant for Neighbors for a Better San Francisco, a nonprofit that shares an address and virtually the same name as the organization behind Boudin’s recall but is legally a separate entity. Jenkins earned the salary in the six months before Mayor London Breed appointed her district attorney on July 8. During that period, Jenkins was volunteering as a spokesperson on the recall campaign.
California – Ethics Commission Blames City Union for Derailing Anti-Corruption Ballot Measure
San Francisco Standard – Mike Edge | Published: 8/10/2022
A ballot initiative that would have tightened up rules around gifts to public officials failed to make the ballot, and San Francisco ethics watchdogs are blaming a union representing city department heads. The Ethics Commission pointed the finger at the Municipal Executives Association in a recent letter, writing the union used the bargaining process to stall the proposed ballot measure past a key deadline. The measure sought to expand the definition of what would constitute a bribe, mandate disclosure of any relationships with city contractors, and add more comprehensive ethics training for city employees.
California – Force Multipliers: How one donor network is pushing the envelope on California campaign money
CalMatters – Ben Christopher, Alexei Koseff, and Jeremia Kimelman | Published: 8/4/2022
In the 2022 election cycle so far, the Govern For California network has donated more than $3 million to more than 110 candidates across California, the vast majority of the money going to those running for the state Senate and Assembly. Govern For California characterizes its 18 chapters as “force multipliers” that amplify the influence of its donors on state politics and government. The organization opposes what it regards as excessive sway of labor unions over state policy. Some experts questioned whether it is a way for its small cadre of wealthy donors to evade contribution caps designed to limit anyone from having outsized influence.
Colorado – In Crowded City Races, Denver’s New Fair Election Fund Will Face First Test
MSN – Joe Rubino (Denver Post) | Published: 8/9/2022
Overhauling Denver’s campaign finance rules was popular with voters in 2018. More than 70 percent of Denverites who cast ballots that year voted for Referred Measure 2E. The sweeping change ratcheted down contribution limits for candidates seeking every seat from mayor to the city auditor, banned direct corporate and union campaign donations, and established a fund to provide public financing for candidates who agreed to abide by even lower limits and other rules. Denver’s 2023 municipal election is inching closer and, finally, the city’s fair elections fund will come to bear on local races.
Connecticut – Larry McHugh to Replace Embattled CT Port Authority Official
MSN – Keith Phaneuf (Connecticut Mirror) | Published: 8/6/2022
House Speaker Matt Ritter selected a longtime business and education leader to replace one of the Connecticut Port Authority officials cited in a state ethics ruling. Lawrence McHugh will replace Donald Frost on the board of directors. Ritter said he was dismayed to learn that Frost was one of the officials at the quasi-public entity who had accepted illegal gifts from Seabury Maritime, a consultant hired to help find a developer for the state pier in New London.
Florida – DeSantis Suspends Elected Prosecutor Over New Abortion Law
Yahoo News – Anthony Izaguirre (Associated Press) | Published: 8/4/2022
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren pledging not to enforce the state’s new 15-week abortion ban and for supporting gender transition treatments for minors. Asked whether he is overriding the will of the voters by suspending their choice for prosecutor, DeSantis said Warren’s conduct has fallen “below the standard of the Florida Constitution” and that he has neglected his duty to state law.
Florida – Second Firm in Sunset Lounge Bid Disqualified for Improper Lobbying of West Palm Beach Mayor
MSN – Terri Parker (WPBF) | Published: 8/10/2022
There is a new twist in the continuing saga of who will operate the historic and newly renovated Sunset Lounge in West Palm Beach. The firm that was awarded the bid three weeks ago is now disqualified. The city’s procurement director said Mad Room Hospitality violated the terms of the Request for Proposal by contacting the mayor and a commissioner via email before the contract was executed. Vita Lounge LLC had also been disqualified for allegedly lobbying people on Facebook to support their selection and doing an interview on WPBF.
Hawaii – Campaign Spending Commission Investigates COVID Testing Company That Got Big City Contract
MSN – Rick Daysog (Hawaii News Now) | Published: 8/8/2022
The Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission is investigating one of the companies that was awarded a multi-million-dollar COVID testing contract by former Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s administration. The commission subpoenaed the bank records of two employees of Capture Diagnostics, which is part of a consortium awarded a $19.5 million emergency contract for the city’s testing program at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. The commission is looking at whether the company reimbursed the employees who gave a total of $10,000 to the Caldwell campaign.
Illinois – State Sen. Elgie Sims Approached in Federal Criminal Investigation into Alleged Influence Peddling by Body-Cam Company
Yahoo News – Jason Meisner and Ray Long (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 8/8/2022
Illinois Sen. Elgie Sims was approached in the spring by federal authorities investigating potential influence peddling involving a police body-camera manufacturer that hired the law firm where Sims works as a lobbyist. The ongoing probe involves Axon Enterprise, a law-enforcement technology company that hired law firm Foley & Lardner to lobby lawmakers in Springfield and Chicago. Sims is an “of-counsel” attorney at Foley, specializing in government affairs and public policy. Investigators are looking into whether Axon improperly tried to influence Sims in his official duties working on criminal justice legislation, which requires every police officer in the state to wear a body camera by 2025.
Indiana – Anti-Common Core Activist Failed to Register as Lobbyist for Rokita’s Office
Indiana Capital Chronicle – Leslie Bonilla Muñiz | Published: 8/9/2022
Erin Tuttle, a policy consultant and state contractor, mistakenly registered as a lobbyist for the city of Indianapolis rather than the state of Indiana. Tuttle and Chief Administrative Officer Larry Hopkins signed a two-year, $200,000 contract for research, analysis, and communications help for state Attorney General Todd Rokita’s office. Among Tuttle’s listed duties: “Contractor shall interact and communicate with legislators.” That set Tuttle up for a potential violation of Indiana law when she did not register with the Lobby Registration Commission.
Indiana – Two Ind. Officers Suspended After Arresting Man Thought to Be Anti-Police
MSN – Meryl Kornfield (Washington Post) | Published: 8/10/2022
Two Indiana officers were suspended after a courtroom revelation that police thought a potential town council candidate was anti-police and arrested him, stopping him from running for office. Franklin County Prosecutor Chris Huerkamp dropped charges that included drug possession against Trevin Thalheimer after an officer and witness recounted how Brookville police talked about Thalheimer. Huerkamp, who also did not pursue a rape charge police had investigated, said he was “disturbed beyond words” by the alleged police conduct and reported the incident to the Indiana State Police, which launched a criminal investigation.
Michigan – GOP Nominee for Michigan AG Named in Election Security Breach Probe
MSN – Rosalind Helderman, Emma Brown, and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) | Published: 8/7/2022
State police have been investigating efforts by supporters of former President Trump to convince Michigan clerks to give them access to voting software and tabulating machines, so they could examine them to prove fraud took place in 2020. Now, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is seeking the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the Republican nominee for her job, Matthew DePerno, after the investigation found evidence that he helped orchestrate an effort last year to gain unauthorized access to voting equipment.
Michigan – Super PAC Backing Tudor Dixon Hides Its Origins Despite Disclosing Donors
MSN – Simon Schuster (MLive.com) | Published: 8/10/2022
Michigan Families United hosted an appearance by Tudor Dixon, the Republican nominee for governor of Michigan, that became the basis for campaign ads in which it spent $2.5 million to air before the GOP primary. Michigan Families United spent more than Dixon’s campaign raised in total and more than 20 times what her campaign spent on advertising, but who is behind super PAC remains shrouded in secrecy.
Missouri – Missouri Prepping for New Rules on Campaign Donations by Businesses
St. Louis Post Dispatch – Kurt Erickson | Published: 8/4/2022
Missouri ethics regulators are preparing for a change in state law designed to allow some businesses to give directly to candidates. The law is aimed at stopping shell companies from pumping “dark money” into campaigns by requiring limited liability companies with a specific tax status to register with the state Ethics Commission. The commission released guidance on the new requirements and said it is developing a portal on its website for companies to register and for candidates to search whether a company has submitted the proper paperwork.
New Jersey – Disclosure Statements Provide Little Insight into Lawmakers’ Finances
New Jersey Monitor – Nikita Biryukov | Published: 8/8/2022
Members of more than 50 state boards, commissions, and committees in New Jersey, as well as high-ranking administration officials, must annually report their finances with greater levels of transparency than state lawmakers. Recent efforts to require lawmakers to disclose more about their finances have not gone anywhere. Experts in government and ethics say broader requirements would not only help the public know more about the sources of their state representatives’ income but would also boost public confidence in government.
New York – City Ethics Board Out of Business
Investigative Post – Geoff Kelly | Published: 8/8/2022
Last September, 140 people signed a formal complaint filed with the Buffalo Board of Ethics. The complaint alleged city workers, including police officers, were campaigning for Mayor Byron Brown on city time, using city resources. Almost a year later, there has been no response, not even an acknowledgement the complaint was received. The ethics board has not met in two-and-a-half years.
New York – Erie County Comptroller Seeks Answers on OTB Lobbying Expenses
Lockport Journal – Mark Scheer | Published: 8/9/2022
Erie County Comptroller Kevin Hardwick is asking more questions about the inner workings of Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. (OTB) and this time he wants to know why it is spending so much public money on Albany lobbyists. Hardwick said that following a review of the agency’s board meeting minutes dating back to 2014, his office found OTB has used 10 firms for lobbying and advocacy activities. The comptroller said the agency either paid or agreed to pay a total of $157,000 for such services in the first six months of 2022 alone. The letter about lobbying is the third one that Hardwick’s office has sent to OTB in less than two weeks.
New York – State Agency Made Key Reversal in Bid Process Won by Hochul Donor
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 8/5/2022
Medical Answering Services contended it could run New York’s medical transportation program for far less money than its rivals, a major factor when the company eventually won the competitive bidding. A competitor for the contract, Modivcare Solutions, says it learned a key, promised part of the process was not followed. Two months before the award was issued, Medical Answering Services’ founder, Russ Maxwell, hosted a campaign fundraiser for Gov. Kathy Hochul, one of many such events hosted by people with business before her administration.
New York – Trump Takes the Fifth
Yahoo News – Kelly Hooper (Politico) | Published: 8/10/2022
Former President Trump declined to answer questions during a deposition with the office of New York Attorney General Tish James, asserting his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Trump’s deposition came amid the office’s three-year-long investigation into whether the Trump Organization had misstated the value of assets on financial statements. The former president is also the subject of a parallel criminal investigation being conducted by the Manhattan district attorney’s office into whether he fraudulently inflated property values.
Ohio – Judge Scolds Ohio House Bill 6 Defendant for Posting Witness’s Social Security Card and Driver’s License Online
MSN – Andrew Tobias (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 8/5/2022
A federal judge admonished a former lobbyist accused in the Ohio House Bill 6 corruption matter for using his website to publish the personal information of a key witness in the case, including unredacted copies of his driver’s license and Social Security card. U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black said he found it “entirely incredible” that Matt Borges did not mean to post witness Tyler Fehrman’s information to his legal-defense website.
Ohio – Utility Regulator Accused of Taking a Bribe Helped Write Bill Targeting Watchdog
Ohio Capital Journal – Jake Zuckerman | Published: 8/5/2022
Ohio’s former top utility regulator, who was accused of taking a $4.3 million bribe, spent months helping write a sweeping energy bill that targeted a state watchdog agency that advocates for residential electric customers, records show. Emails from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio show its former chairperson, Sam Randazzo, conferred with the bill sponsor and helped draft legislative language. The bill would have limited the reach of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel and given often-hostile state legislators control of its board.
Pennsylvania – Posh Southwestern Pa. Party Spotlights How Lawmakers and Lobbyists Mingle Out of the Public Eye
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Mike Werechagin | Published: 8/7/2022
Pennsylvania is among a minority of states that places no limits on the value of gifts special interests can give legislators. Even members of Pennsylvania’s executive branch cannot accept gifts or meals under an executive order signed by Gov. Tom Wolf the day he took office. But the Legislature has blocked nearly every effort to limit the ability of special interests to shower lawmakers with dinners, drinks, and travel, or to give the public a clear picture of what their representatives and senators allow lobbyists to buy them.
Rhode Island – Inside the Political, Personal, and Legal Connections of the Tidewater Landing Soccer Stadium Deal
MSN – Brian Amaral (Boston Globe) | Published: 8/4/2022
When the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation’s board convened to consider appropriating $60 million for the Tidewater Landing soccer stadium project in Pawtucket, relationships between board members and outside interests sparked criticism. Law partners for the Commerce Corporation’s attorney are registered as lobbyists for the developer. A board member’s sister is trying to unseat the incumbent governor, who chairs the board. A Pawtucket city official who helped shepherd the deal through by working with the Commerce official who is now running for treasurer against the Pawtucket official’s fiancé.
Texas – Not a ‘Love Story’: Former Richardson mayor gets 6 years for accepting bribes, sex
MSN – Kevin Krause (Dallas Morning News) | Published: 8/4/2022
Laura Maczka, a first-time Richardson, Texas, mayor, accepted a string of favors, some sexual, from the wealthy developer, Mark Jordan, who became her lover and then her husband. She did what she could while on the city council to make sure he got the zoning he wanted for his planned apartments despite vehement resident opposition. Now the pair are headed to federal prison for their misdeeds in a public corruption case that spanned almost a decade and resulted in a city investigation and two salacious public trials.
Virginia – Virginia Official Lobbied for Gas Project His Agency Will Consider
Roanoke Times – Patrick Wilson (Richmond Times Dispatch) | Published: 8/5/2022
As one of eight gubernatorial appointees on the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, James Minor gets a vote on an anticipated permit request for a natural gas pipeline expansion near Petersburg. Public records show he has been lobbying elected officials to support the project; he and the company that wants to build it will not say if he was paid for the work. Public records show Minor emailed and called elected officials in Petersburg between February and May on behalf of a pipeline expansion project from TC Energy and its subsidiary, Columbia Gas Transmission.
Washington – Tim Eyman Forced to Sell House to Pay Campaign Finance Fines, Debts
Seattle Times – David Gutman | Published: 8/5/2022
Anti-tax initiative promoter Tim Eyman, who was found liable last year in Washington for “numerous and particularly egregious” violations of campaign finance law, has been forced to sell his house to help pay millions of dollars of fines and debt. The $900,000 in proceeds will go toward paying off the more than $5.6 million in sanctions and legal fees he owes the state and other creditors. A judge found Eyman enriched himself by laundering political donations, accepted kickbacks from a signature-gathering company, and secretly shuttled money between initiative campaigns and concealed the source of other political contributions.
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