May 4, 2023 •
Foreign Agents Disclosure and Registration Enhancement Act Introduced in U.S. Senate
On April 27, a bi-partisan bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate to amend the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 (FARA). Senate Bill 1364, the Foreign Agents Disclosure and Registration Enhancement Act, would provide the Attorney General with greater […]
On April 27, a bi-partisan bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate to amend the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 (FARA).
Senate Bill 1364, the Foreign Agents Disclosure and Registration Enhancement Act, would provide the Attorney General with greater authority to promote enforcement of disclosure requirements for agents of foreign principals and increases penalties for noncompliance.
The bill also “improves FARA advisory opinion transparency and requires the Government Accountability Office to study whether and to what extent the Lobbying Disclosure Act exemption is being abused to conceal foreign lobbying activity,” according to the press release of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, the lead Republican sponsor of the bill.
Identical legislation had been introduced in 2019 but did not pass.
May 4, 2023 •
Thursday’s LobbyComply News Roundup
Elections New Jersey: “N.J. Campaign Manager Charged with Election Fraud in 2021 Primary for Governor” by S.P. Sullivan (NJ Advance Media) for MSN Ohio: “Shammas Malik Wins Akron Mayoral Primary, in Line to Be the First Person of Color as Mayor” by Anna […]
May 3, 2023 •
Wednesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup
Campaign Finance Arizona: “Group Wants to Keep Dark Money Out of Politics” by Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services) for KAWC National: “Bill Would Require Disclosure of AI-Generated Content in Political Ads” by Isaac Stanley-Becker (Washington Post) for MSN Maine: “Portland City Council Establishes Clean Elections […]
May 2, 2023 •
Tuesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup
Campaign Finance National: “Top Republicans Balk at WinRed’s Plan to Charge More for Online Donations” by Shane Goldmacher (New York Times) for DNyuz Elections Florida: “The First Arrests from DeSantis’s Election Police Take Extensive Toll” by Lori Rozsa (Washington Post) for MSN Ethics […]
May 1, 2023 •
Monday’s LobbyComply News Roundup
Campaign Finance Washington: “Early WA Governor’s Race Skirmish? Campaign Finance Loophole Scrutinized” by Jim Brunner for Seattle Times Elections Florida: “Appeals Court Upholds Florida Voting Restrictions Approved by GOP Lawmakers” by Bruce Ritchie and Gary Fineout (Politico) for MSN North Carolina: “North Carolina Court, with […]
Washington: “Early WA Governor’s Race Skirmish? Campaign Finance Loophole Scrutinized” by Jim Brunner for Seattle Times
Florida: “Appeals Court Upholds Florida Voting Restrictions Approved by GOP Lawmakers” by Bruce Ritchie and Gary Fineout (Politico) for MSN
North Carolina: “North Carolina Court, with New Partisan Mix, Reverses Itself on a Key Voting Case” by Michael Wines (New York Times) for Yahoo News
National: “Fugees Rapper Pras Michél Guilty in Sprawling Corruption Trial” by Paul Duggan (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Pence Appears Before Jan. 6 Grand Jury in Trump Special Counsel Probe” by Jacqueline Alemany and Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) for MSN
Illinois: “Judge Rules Niles Cannot Have an Elected Ethics Board; Voters Won’t Learn Results of April 4 Election” by Caroline Kubzansky (Chicago Tribune) for Yahoo News
South Carolina: “Final Sentences Issued in SC Statehouse Ethics Scandal Cases” by Jessica Holdman for Charleston Post and Courier
Nebraska: “Complaint Dismissed Against State Capitol Bible Study, Leader Says He’s Being More Careful” by Paul Hammel for Nebraska Examiner
April 28, 2023 •
News You Can Use Digest – April 28, 2023
National/Federal Chief Justice Declines to Testify Before Congress Over Ethics Concerns DNyuz – Abbie VanSickle (New York Times) | Published: 4/25/2023 Chief Justice John Roberts told the Senate Judiciary Committee he was declining its invitation to testify about ethics rules for the […]
Chief Justice Declines to Testify Before Congress Over Ethics Concerns
DNyuz – Abbie VanSickle (New York Times) | Published: 4/25/2023
Chief Justice John Roberts told the Senate Judiciary Committee he was declining its invitation to testify about ethics rules for the Supreme Court. In an accompanying statement on ethics practices, all nine justices, under mounting pressure for more stringent reporting requirements at the court, insisted the existing rules around gifts, travel, and other financial disclosures are sufficient.
The Campaign Finance Agency’s Press Shop Can’t Confirm or Deny the Existence of Complaints Anymore
Government Executive – Courtney Bublé | Published: 4/26/2023
The press office for the FEC can no longer confirm or deny the existence of complaints of alleged violations it has received, departing from years of practice and raising concerns about transparency. The vote was requested by Commissioner Allen Dickerson, citing legal advice from the agency’s Office of General Counsel in 2006 that was never followed.
Trump Can’t Stop Pence from Testifying to Jan. 6 Grand Jury, Court Rules
MSN – Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) | Published: 4/26/2023
Donald Trump cannot block his former vice president from testifying before a grand jury investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol, a federal appeals court ruled. The ruling helps clear the way for Mike Pence to speak under oath about the pressure Trump put him under to declare the 2020 election results invalid. While Trump could seek to further forestall that testimony by appealing to the Supreme Court, other people in the president’s orbit have testified after similar losing battles in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Mike Lindell’s Firm Told to Pay $5 Million in ‘Prove Mike Wrong’ Election-Fraud Challenge
MSN – Chris Dehghanpoor, Emma Brown, and Jon Swaine (Washington Post) | Published: 4/20/2023
MyPillow founder and prominent election denier Mike Lindell claimed he had data showing Chinese interference in American elections and said he would pay $5 million to anyone who could prove the material was not from the previous year’s U.S. election. He called the challenge “Prove Mike Wrong.” A private arbitration panel ruled that someone did. The panel said Robert Zeidman, a computer forensics expert and Trump voter from Nevada, was entitled to the $5 million payout. Zeidman examined Lindell’s data and concluded that not only did it not prove voter fraud, it had no connection to the 2020 election.
Lobbying Firms Start Strong After Record $4-Billion Haul in 2022
MSN – Karl Evers-Hillstrom (The Hill) | Published: 4/20/2023
Leading Washington lobbying firms reported huge earnings, revealing business is still booming on K Street despite divided control of Congress. Lobbyists said they are busy influencing federal rules authorized by the Inflation Reduction Act and the CHIPS and Science Act. Corporate clients are also heavily invested in a potential permitting reform bill and the debt ceiling fight, which has the potential to cause major damage to the U.S. economy.
The Conservative Campaign to Rewrite Child Labor Laws
MSN – Jacob Bogage and María Luisa Paúl (Washington Post) | Published: 4/23/2023
The Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) and its lobbying arm, the Opportunity Solutions Project, have found success among Republicans to roll back certain child labor protections. They are gaining traction at a time the Biden administration is scrambling to enforce existing labor protections for children. The FGA achieved its biggest victory in March, playing a central role in designing a new Arkansas law to eliminate work permits and age verification for workers younger than 16. That law was met with such public outcry that state officials approved a second measure increasing penalties on violators of the child labor codes.
Biden Announces He Is Running for Reelection in 2024
MSN – Tolouse Olorunnipa, Tyler Pager, and Michael Scherer (Washington Post) | Published: 4/25/2023
President Biden officially announced his bid for reelection, saying in a video that he wants to “finish the job” he started when the country was racked by a deadly pandemic, a reeling economy, and a teetering democracy. Claiming his presidency has pulled the country back from the brink on all those fronts, Biden underlined his ambition to turn what he had once pitched as a transitional presidency into something far more transformational.
Law Firm Head Bought Gorsuch-Owned Property
MSN – Heidi Przybyla (Politico) | Published: 4/25/2023
For nearly two years beginning in 2015, Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch sought a buyer for a 40-acre property he co-owned in Granby, Colorado. Nine days after he was confirmed for a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court, the then-Circuit Court judge got one: the chief executive of Greenberg Traurig, one of the nation’s biggest law firms. Gorsuch did not disclose the identity of the purchaser. Since then, Greenberg Traurig has been involved in at least 22 cases before or presented to the court.
No Labels Is Getting on State Ballots, Drawing a Lawsuit and Concerns About a Spoiler
Oregon Public Broadcasting – Ben Giles (KJZZ) | Published: 4/26/2023
The centrist political group No Labels is getting on the ballot in individual states, causing consternation among members of the major political parties about the organization’s endgame. The group says it is not interested in running a presidential campaign. Nonetheless, the nonprofit is committed to raising roughly $70 million to gather signatures and qualify for the ballot in 2024. Ryan Clancy, lead strategist for No Labels, insists it is a one-ticket operation, a presidential “insurance project” for dissatisfied Republicans and Democrats.
On Eve of Trial, Discovery of Carlson Texts Set Off Crisis atop Fox
Seattle Times – Jim Rutenberg, Jeremy Peters, and Michael Schmidt (New York Times) | Published: 4/26/2023
The day before Dominion Voting Systems’ defamation trial against Fox News was set to begin, the Fox board of directors and top executives made a discovery that helped lead to the breaking point between the network and Tucker Carlson. Private messages sent by Carlson that had been redacted in legal filings showed him making highly offensive and crude remarks that went beyond the inflammatory, often racist comments of his prime-time show and anything disclosed in the lead-up to the trial.
From the States and Municipalities
Canada – Google Denies It Engaged in ‘Astroturfing’ to Lobby Ottawa Through Third Parties
Globe and Mail – Marie Woolf | Published: 4/20/2023
Google denied accusations it had engaged in “astroturfing” campaigns to lobby against federal bills in Canada by paying individuals and other organizations to oppose them. Kent Walker, Google’s president of global affairs, faced questions from Members of Parliament in a committee hearing about lobbying over Ottawa’s online news bill, which would force Google to pay news publishers for reusing their work.
Arizona – Arizona Lawmakers Want Special Social-Media Treatment of Candidates
Arizona Daily Star – Howard Fischer (Capitol News Services) | Published: 4/23/2023
State lawmakers are poised to enact a measure designed to regulate how national and international social media platforms operate in Arizona. Senate Bill 1106 would put into state law that once people become candidates for any public office, they cannot have their posting rights taken away, essentially no matter what they say, truthful or otherwise. Only violations of the federal Communications Decency Act would result in loss of privileges. Social media sites that take down a candidate’s posting could face civil fines of up to $250,000 a day.
Arkansas – Former State Senator Jeremy Hutchinson Sentenced in Corruption Case
Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette – Doug Thompson | Published: 4/25/2023
Former Arkansas Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson, the son of a former U.S. senator and nephew of a soon-to-be announced presidential candidate, received a 50-month prison sentence court for corruption. Hutchinson is one of five former Arkansas lawmakers convicted after a federal Medicaid fraud investigation, along with six health care company executives and lobbyists. The 50 months was added to the 46 months Hutchinson was sentenced to in Arkansas. He now faces a total eight years in prison.
California – SFMTA Commissioner Resigns After Illegal Lobbying
Mission Local – Joe Rivano Barros | Published: 4/25/2023
Gwyneth Borden, who has served on two city commissions over the past 15 years and was most recently the vice chair of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority’s Board of Directors, has resigned following her admission that she illegally lobbied city staff and officials. Borden was paid $12,500 as a “consultant” for the Italian eatery Fiorella, which was seeking to legalize a non-compliant outdoor deck. Borden sent 32 emails to city staff, planning commissioners, and one city supervisor seeking support for a permit at the restaurant.
Colorado – Influential Conservative Dark-Money Group Doesn’t Have to Reveal Donors, Face Campaign Finance Sanctions, Denver Judge Rules
Colorado Sun – Jesse Paul | Published: 4/21/2023
A conservative “dark money” political group does not have to reveal its donors and pay a $40,000 fine levied by state elections officials stemming from the $4 million it spent on 2020 ballot initiatives, a Denver District Court judge ruled. Judge David Goldberg found Unite for Colorado, which has since disbanded, did not violate a state law requiring political nonprofits to register as issue committees and reveal their funders when their spending on a ballot initiative is their “major purpose.”
Connecticut – West Haven’s Attorney Suspended After Awarding City Work to His Own Law Firm
CT Mirror – Andrew Brown | Published: 4/25/2023
West Haven’s corporation counsel has over the past three years funneled city work to his own private law firm, enabling him and his wife to represent the city in foreclosure cases and to bill up to $225 per hour for their services. As West Haven’s top attorney, Lee Tiernan has the power to hire outside counsel to assist the city in legal matters. But documents show he used that authority to assign work to his wife, Amanda Tiernan, through a private law practice that bears his name.
District of Columbia – D.C. Settles Suit Brought by 2 Journalists Detained During Trump Inauguration
MSN – Keith Alexander (Washington Post) | Published: 4/25/2023
The District of Columbia agreed to pay $175,000 to two journalists to settle a lawsuit that alleged police unlawfully detained the pair while they were covering demonstrations and vandalism in downtown Washington during Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration in January 2017. A spokesperson for the journalists said writer Aaron Cantú and photojournalist Alexei Wood would split the settlement. Both were arrested and charged with rioting and other counts; Wood was acquitted at trial and prosecutors later dropped the charges against Cantú.
Florida – Disney Sues Gov. Ron DeSantis, Alleging Political Retaliation
MSN – Aaron Gregg and Lori Rozsa (Washinton Post) | Published: 4/26/2023
Walt Disney Co. is suing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over what it calls a “relentless campaign to weaponize government power” – an escalation of the year-long clash between the company and DeSantis. The lawsuit came the same day the governor’s handpicked board declared a Disney-friendly deal null and void. The standoff began when Disney leaders criticized a controversial education bill advanced by DeSantis and other Republicans. Disney’s resorts are some of the state’s prime attractions, but DeSantis expressed outrage that the company dared criticize the education bill and began attacking the company.
Hawaii – Former Hawaii Charter Schools Head Admits to Ethics Violations
Yahoo News – Esme Infante (Honolulu Star Advertiser) | Published: 4/26/2023
The former executive director of the Hawaii State Public Charter School Commission agreed to pay $5,000 in fines and admitted to committing more than a dozen violations of the state’s conflict-of-interest laws during his time at the agency. Sione Thompson signed off on multiple state contracts with three nonprofit organizations without disclosing he also served on the boards of those organizations, said the Hawaii Ethics Commission.
Illinois – Paul Vallas Seeks $700,000 from Campaign Consultant ‘For Services They Did Not Perform’
MSN – A.D. Quig and Gregory Pratt (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 4/21/2023
In Paul Vallas’ ultimately losing effort to become Chicago mayor, his campaign paid a political consultant nearly $700,000 to help win over Black voters – work Vallas now claims in a lawsuit was not performed. The suit, filed against Chimaobi Enyia and his business, says Vallas was the victim of fraud, unjust enrichment, and “in the alternative, breach of contract” by Enyia. Vallas claims Enyia used the pressure of the runoff election against Brandon Johnson to squeeze hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Vallas campaign.
Illinois – Prominent Lightfoot Supporter, Business Owner Pays $5,000 Ethics Fine for Lobbying City Hall Without Registering
WTTW – Heather Cherone | Published: 4/24/2023
Businessperson Carmen Rossi was fined $5,000 by the Chicago Board of Ethics for violating the city’s lobbying law. Rossi lobbied the Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Department on behalf of Chicago Parking Solutions even though he was not registered to lobby for the company. It won a contract to operate 13 parking lots on Chicago Public Schools property. But it was denied the licenses needed to operate those lots, prompting Rossi to send Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Commissioner Ken Meyer an email asking him to expedite the licenses.
Michigan – Businessman Pleads Guilty to Bribing Michigan Medical Marijuana Licensing Board Chairman
Detroit News – Craig Mauger and Robert Snell | Published: 4/21/2023
Businessperson John Dalaly pleaded guilty to providing bribes to Rick Johnson, the chair of Michigan’s medical marijuana licensing board, and told a federal judge he hired Johnson’s wife as a consultant at a rate of $4,000 a month. Dalaly faces up to 10 years in federal prison and became the first person to plead guilty in court as part of a wide-ranging corruption probe, examining Michigan’s awarding of licenses to sell and grow medical marijuana.
Michigan – In a Thriving Michigan County, a Community Goes to War with Itself
MSN – Greg Jaffe and Patrick Marley (Washington Post) | Published: 4/22/2023
The eight new members of the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners had run for office promising to “thwart tyranny” in their lakeside Michigan community of 300,000 people. In this case, the oppressive force they aimed to thwart was the county government they now ran. In an era when Americans had never seemed more divided and distrustful, county governments, at their best, helped define what remains of the common good. But Ottawa County was becoming a case study in what happens when one of the building blocks of democracy is consumed by ideological battles over race, religion, and American history.
Missouri – Missouri Lets Local Officials Take Unlimited Gifts from Lobbyists. Senators Move to Ban.
MSN – Kacen Bayless and Jonathan Shorman (Kansas City Star) | Published: 4/21/2023
The Missouri Senate voted to ban mayors, city council members, county commissioners, and other local government officials, along with employees of local elected officials, from accepting gifts from lobbyists, years after voters approved eliminating gifts for state legislators. The legislation now heads to the House. The bill would close a gap left by the Clean Missouri constitutional amendment, which greatly restricted lobbyist gifts to lawmakers, and a subsequent amendment that eliminated them altogether. Both measures focused on the General Assembly, while leaving local officials free to continue accepting gifts.
Missouri – Missouri AG Withdraws from Gambling Case After Taking Donations from Other Side
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Jack Suntrup | Published: 4/25/2023
Lawyers working for Attorney General Andrew Bailey withdrew from a lawsuit lodged against the state by a politically connected company that has flooded Missouri with unregulated slot machines. The move follows tens of thousands of dollars in campaign donations to a PAC supporting Bailey from committees that have received contributions from the plaintiffs in the case. The committees are also tied to Steve Tilley, a lobbyist for the two plaintiffs in the case.
Montana – Montana Republicans Bar Transgender Lawmaker from House Floor
MSN – María Paúl, Timothy Bella, Maham Javaid, and Ben Brasch (Washington Post) | Published: 4/26/2023
The Montana House blocked a transgender lawmaker from the chamber floor for the remainder of the legislative session after an escalating standoff over her remarks on transgender issues. Since Zephyr said those who support banning gender-affirming care for transgender children would have “blood on your hands,” Republican leaders have declined to recognize her on the floor and her microphone has been disabled when lawmakers have debated. In response, Zephyr and her supporters held a rally that resulted in seven arrests and upended proceedings at the Capitol as people jammed inside the chamber and kept chanting, “Let her speak!”
Nebraska – Four Men, Including Omaha City Councilman Vinny Palermo, Federally Indicted
Lincoln Journal-Star – Emily Nitcher, Jessica Wade, and Christopher Burbach (Omaha World-Herald) | Published: 4/21/2023
Four men, including Omaha City Councilperson Vinny Palermo, have been indicted in connection with alleged fraudulent activity involving the Latino Peace Officers Association and Police Athletics for Community Engagement. Court papers allege retired Omaha Police Captain Rich Gonzalez and Johnny Palermo provided personal and financial benefits, “to include airfare, luxury hotel accommodations, travel arrangements, and other items of value” in exchange for official actions taken by Vinny Palermo in his capacity as a city council member.
Nevada – Legal Finding Against Clark County Commissioner Prompts Call to Resign
Las Vegas Sun – Casey Harrison | Published: 4/26/2023
The Nevada Republican Party is calling on Clark County Commissioner Justin Jones to resign after a ruling from a federal judge found he was “not truthful” about text messages removed from his personal cellphone amid a legal battle over a housing development. U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Elayna Youchah ruled Jones flouted the county’s record-retention policy as well as Nevada Supreme Court precedent when text messages from his personal phone dated January 3, 2019 – shortly after Jones’ first days as a newly sworn-in commissioner – through April 17 of the same year were deleted.
New Jersey – Was He Corrupt When He Allegedly Accepted a Bag Full of Cash? Or Victim of an Overzealous Prosecutor?
MSN – Ted Sherman (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 4/24/2023
The exchange had been caught on surveillance recordings. A Baskin-Robbins bag stuffed with cash was handed over to the mayoral candidate by an informant cooperating with prosecutors. “I just want to be your tax guy,” he said. “Yeah. Done. That’s … easy,” replied the candidate. Was that a bribe under the law, as prosecutors allege? Or as defense attorneys argue, an example of overzealous prosecution that expanded the meaning of a state corruption statute that had never been intended to impose target someone who was just an “ordinary, private citizen?”
New Jersey – Head of NJ ELEC Sues Murphy, Says New Campaign Finance Law Overhaul Is Unconstitutional
Yahoo News – Ashley Balcerzak (Bergen Record) | Published: 4/20/2023
Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) Executive Director Jeff Brindle sued New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy again, challenging the constitutionality of the recently signed Elections Transparency Act, which overhauled ELEC and campaign finance rules in the state. Brindle seeks to block contentious sections of the law that allow Murphy to directly appoint the four members of the agency board without the advice and consent of the Senate within a 90-day period, as well as a provision that slashes the amount of time the commission has to investigate campaign finance violations from 10 years to two years after a violation was committed.
New Mexico – Text Messages Last Year Urged N.M. Voters to Support a Ballot Measure. An Ethics Settlement Unraveled Who Was Behind the Campaign.
Albuquerque Journal – Dan McKay | Published: 4/24/2023
A New York-based advocacy group paid an $11,000 civil penalty and disclosed the donors behind a text-messaging campaign after it was accused of violating New Mexico’s campaign finance law. The payment and disclosure come after the State Ethics Commission filed a lawsuit last year alleging the Working Families Organization tried to conceal its role in text messages urging voters to support a ballot measure to boost education funding.
New York – Cuomo Sues Ethics Commission, Saying It’s Too Independent of the Governor
Albany Times-Union – Joshua Solomon | Published: 4/26/2023
Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, facing the possibility of paying millions of dollars to the state, is suing New York’s new ethics commission, and alleging it is so independent from the current governor it is unconstitutional. Cuomo action comes ahead of him scheduled to be the subject of a proceeding before the Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government on June 12. He is facing ongoing scrutiny from the ethics agency over his $5 million book deal recounting his administration’s early response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
New York – Rape Allegation Against Donald Trump Heads to Trial
MSN – Corinne Ramey (Wall Street Journal) | Published: 4/23/2023
A civil trial is set to begin concerning advice columnist E. Jean Carroll’s allegations that Donald Trump raped her in a department store dressing room in the 1990s. Trump has denied Carroll’s claims, saying the encounter never happened and she made it up for publicity. The case centers on a complaint she filed when New York state opened a yearlong window in which people who say they were sexually assaulted as adults could sue their alleged abusers, no matter how long ago the conduct occurred.
Ohio – What Can Ohio Regulators Do to Prevent Future Utility Corruption Scandals?
Energy News Network – Kathiann Kowalski | Published: 4/27/2023
Regulators taking proactive steps could reduce the risk of future utility corruption scandals like that which led to the guilty verdicts for former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and lobbyist Matt Borges, say advocates. Yet for now the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) is dealing only with specific cases linked to the current scandal surrounding the state’s coal and nuclear bailout law, House Bill 6. Critics say the PUCO should take steps through rule-making or otherwise to provide more transparency and accountability.
Oklahoma – Okla. Official Resigns Amid Accusations of Racism, Talk of Killing Journalists
MSN – Jonathan Edwards (Washington Post) | Published: 4/20/2023
Mark Jennings, a county commissioner in Oklahoma, resigned amid growing backlash after a local newspaper reported he and other officials talked about lynching Black people and threatened to assassinate two reporters in a conversation secretly recorded by one of those journalists. Gov. Kevin Stitt had called on Jennings and three other McCurtain County officials to step down, saying he was “appalled and disheartened to hear of the horrid comments.” The other officials are Sheriff Kevin Clardy, sheriff’s investigator Alicia Manning, and county jail administrator Larry Hendrix.
Oregon – Oregon Democrats Weigh Competing Proposals to Cap Political Donations
Portland Oregonian – Grant Stringer | Published: 4/24/2023
New proposals introduced in the state Senate recently would set strict limits to quell the exorbitant spending in Oregon elections without the same loopholes included in other bills introduced by Democrats this session. Sen. Jeff Golden introduced two amendments to Senate Bill 500 mirroring 2024 ballot initiatives by Honest Elections Oregon and the League of Women Voters. Those groups seek stringent limits on campaign donations and transparency in political advertising. Oregon is one of just a handful of states that allows donors to give unlimited sums of money to political campaigns.
Pennsylvania – The Super PAC Backing Jeff Brown’s Mayoral Campaign Has Agreed to Sit on the Sidelines Through the Primary
MSN – Sean Collins Walsh (Philadelphia Inquirer) | Published: 4/24/2023
A judge approved a limited agreement between the Philadelphia Board of Ethics and For A Better Philadelphia, a super PAC backing Jeff Brown’s campaign for mayor, that will keep the political group on the sidelines through the May 16 primary. The agreement does not affect the broader case the ethics board is pursuing against For A Better Philadelphia, which is an independent expenditure committee that is legally required to operate separately from Brown and his campaign.
Tennessee – Tennessee Lawmaker Resigns After Violating Harassment Policy
MSN – María Luisa Paúl (Washington Post) | Published: 4/21/2023
Tennessee Rep. Scotty Campbell was walking to the Capitol in Nashville when a reporter stopped him to ask about allegations of harassment brought against him by an intern. Campbell said he “had consensual, adult conversations with two adults off property.” Six hours later, the lawmaker, who two weeks ago voted to expel three Democratic colleagues, over decorum violations, submitted a letter of resignation. An ethics subcommittee reported it found Campbell had violated the General Assembly workplace policy on discrimination and harassment after an internal investigation.
Vermont – Full Disclosure: Conflict of interest rule leaves plenty of leeway for legislators’ other jobs
VTDigger.org – Kristen Fountain | Published: 4/19/2023
While nearly half of the Vermont Senate and roughly a third of the state House are retired, the rest supplement their modest legislative salaries with jobs, ranging from selling real estate to nursing. The Legislature’s rules define a conflict-of-interest so narrowly they almost never prevent lawmakers from crafting and voting on bills even when they or their employers stand to benefit financially.
Virginia – Virginia Politicians Can Spend Campaign Donations on Just About Anything. Here’s Why Reform Efforts Have Failed.
MSN – Katie King (Virginian-Pilot) | Published: 4/23/2023
In Virginia, politicians can legally spend campaign donations on essentially anything, and there is no limit on who can donate or how much they can give. The lax rules make the state an outlier when it comes to laws on campaign spending. Some say stricter laws are not needed because donors should trust the candidates they choose to support. But others argue guardrails are needed to prevent the misuse of funds, especially as more money pours into races. Campaign finance issues have been on Virginia’s radar for decades, with a commission created in 1992 by then-Gov. Douglas Wilder advising the state to overhaul its laws.
Wyoming – Lawmakers to Examine Legislative Ethics, Misconduct Rules
WyoFile – Maggie Mullen | Published: 4/25/2023
Wyoming Rep. Karlee Provenza drew national attention, multiple formal complaints, and at least one call for her ouster from committee assignments for a controversial social media post. The high-profile dust-up, and House Speaker Albert Sommers’ decision not to punish the lawmaker for a post some perceived as threatening, have intensified interest in what otherwise promised to be one the Legislature’s more obscure off-season assignments: redrawing the boundaries of acceptable lawmaker conduct and reexamining the process for handling ethics complaints and other grievances.
April 27, 2023 •
Missouri Bill Changes Lobbyist and Campaign Finance Reporting and Creates Local Gift Ban
Senate President Pro-Tem Caleb Rowden introduced a substitute for Senate Bill 378, which changes lobbyist and campaign finance reporting and creates a local lobbyist gift ban. The new substitute for Senate Bill 378 changes the reporting required by lobbyists from […]
Senate President Pro-Tem Caleb Rowden introduced a substitute for Senate Bill 378, which changes lobbyist and campaign finance reporting and creates a local lobbyist gift ban.
The new substitute for Senate Bill 378 changes the reporting required by lobbyists from monthly expenditure reports to an annual expenditure report filed on December 31, or if December thirty-first is a Saturday or Sunday, on the last Friday of the calendar year.
The bill also changes campaign finance reporting, deadlines and late fees.
The bill raises the threshold for expenditures required to be itemized on a disclosure report from $100 or less to $200 or less and provides for an annual increase based on the increase in the cost of living.
The bill changes filing deadlines by requiring anything filed electronically to be filed by 11:59 p.m. of the due date.
Under current law, if the last day of filing any campaign finance disclosure report falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or an official state holiday the deadline is extended to 5:00 p.m. of the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or official state holiday.
In addition, the bill requires all committees to be charged $100 per day in late fees for campaign finance reports required to be filed 8 days prior to an election.
Under current law, this only applies to candidate committees.
The bill also increases the fine for all other late campaign finance reports to $20 per day late fee, rather than $10 per day as required by current law, and fees will be increased annually on January 1, based on the increase in the cost of living.
The bill also prohibits any person serving as or employed by an elected local government official from accepting directly or indirectly a gift of any tangible or intangible item, service, or thing of value from any paid lobbyist or lobbyist principle.
If passed, the bill will become effective August 28, 2023.
April 27, 2023 •
Thursday’s LobbyComply News Roundup
Campaign Finance National: “The Campaign Finance Agency’s Press Shop Can’t Confirm or Deny the Existence of Complaints Anymore” by Courtney Bublé for Government Executive Missouri: “Missouri AG Withdraws from Gambling Case After Taking Donations from Other Side” by Jack Suntrup for St. Louis Post-Dispatch […]
April 26, 2023 •
Ask the Experts – Tennessee Gift Laws
Q: I am a registered lobbyist in Tennessee and my employer is planning to invite the entire membership of the general assembly to an in-state reception with food and beverages provided. Is this allowed and is there anything else I […]
Q: I am a registered lobbyist in Tennessee and my employer is planning to invite the entire membership of the general assembly to an in-state reception with food and beverages provided. Is this allowed and is there anything else I should know to make sure I am compliant with state laws?
A: Yes, the event is permissible, but there are important reporting requirements to follow.
Lobbyists and employers of lobbyists may provide entertainment, food, refreshments, etc. in connection with an in-state event to which the entire membership of the general assembly has been invited. For 2023 events, the cost per person may not exceed $73 per day.
The lobbyist or employer of lobbyist must file a copy of the invitation with the Ethics Commission at least 7 days before the event and must file an In-State Disclosure form within 30 days after the event detailing the per-person and total cost of the event.
The aggregate total of all in-state events is also reported on the semi-annual lobbyist employer reports.
Proper gift disclosure can involve more than simply including the gift on your normal lobbying disclosure report. It is always a good idea to check the jurisdiction’s specific disclosure requirements on our website prior to giving a gift.
April 26, 2023 •
Wednesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup
Campaign Finance New Mexico: “Text Messages Last Year Urged N.M. Voters to Support a Ballot Measure. An Ethics Settlement Unraveled Who Was Behind the Campaign.” by Dan McKay for Albuquerque Journal Oregon: “Oregon Democrats Weigh Competing Proposals to Cap Political Donations” by Grant Stringer […]
April 25, 2023 •
Tuesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup
Campaign Finance Pennsylvania: “The Super PAC Backing Jeff Brown’s Mayoral Campaign Has Agreed to Sit on the Sidelines Through the Primary” by Sean Collins Walsh for Philadelphia Inquirer Virginia: “Virginia Politicians Can Spend Campaign Donations on Just About Anything. Here’s Why Reform Efforts […]
April 24, 2023 •
Monday’s LobbyComply News Roundup
Campaign Finance Colorado: “Influential Conservative Dark-Money Group Doesn’t Have to Reveal Donors, Face Campaign Finance Sanctions, Denver Judge Rules” by Jesse Paul for Colorado Sun New Jersey: “Head of NJ ELEC Sues Murphy, Says New Campaign Finance Law Overhaul Is Unconstitutional” by Ashley Balcerzak […]
April 21, 2023 •
News You Can Use Digest – April 21, 2023
National/Federal DEA Chief Faces Probe into ‘Swampy’ Hires, No-Bid Contracts Associated Press News – Joshua Goodman and Jim Mustian | Published: 4/20/2023 A federal watchdog is investigating whether the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration under Anne Milgram improperly awarded millions of dollars in […]
DEA Chief Faces Probe into ‘Swampy’ Hires, No-Bid Contracts
Associated Press News – Joshua Goodman and Jim Mustian | Published: 4/20/2023
A federal watchdog is investigating whether the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration under Anne Milgram improperly awarded millions of dollars in no-bid contracts to hire her past associates, people familiar with the probe said. Among the spending under scrutiny by the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General is $4.7 million for “strategic planning and communication” and other contracts that were used to hire people Milgram knew from her days as New Jersey’s attorney general and as a New York University law professor at costs far exceeding pay for government officials.
Clarence Thomas Has for Years Claimed Income from a Defunct Real Estate Firm
MSN – Shawn Boberg and Emma Brown (Washington Post) | Published: 4/16/2023
Over the last two decades, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has reported on required financial disclosure forms that his family received rental income totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars from a firm called Ginger, Ltd., Partnership. But that company has not existed since 2006. That year, the real estate company was shut down and a separate firm was created, records show. Since that time, however, Thomas has continued to report income from the defunct company – between $50,000 and $100,000 annually in recent years – and there is no mention of the newer firm, Ginger Holdings, LLC, on the forms.
Russians Boasted That Just 1% of Fake Social Profiles Are Caught, Leak Shows
MSN – Joseph Menn (Washington Post) | Published: 4/16/2023
The Russian government has become far more successful at manipulating social media and search engine rankings than previously known, according to documents recently leaked on the chat app Discord. The Russian operators boast they are detected by social networks only about one percent of the time, one document says. A board set up to coordinate U.S. government policy on disinformation was disbanded last year after questions were raised about its purpose and a campaign was aimed at the person who had been selected to lead it.
Washington Used to Abhor Talking About Mental Health. No More.
MSN – Myah Ward (Politico) | Published: 4/17/2023
For six weeks, while U.S. Sen. John Fetterman received treatment for clinical depression at Walter Reed Medical Center, handwritten cards poured into office. His staff fielded phone calls from constituents passing along well wishes. Others called simply to thank him for being upfront about his condition. The reaction has been, overall, a pleasant surprise to Fetterman’s team, which worried about their boss and felt anxious about how the public would respond to revelations he has depression. What they and others have discovered is the country is increasingly open about it. And the politics are changing around it.
Democrats Still Face Feinstein Dilemma as Replacement Bid Fails
MSN – Liz Goodwin, Maeve Reston, and Cleve Wooten Jr. (Washington Post) | Published: 4/18/2023
Democrats’ plan to replace ailing U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein on the Judiciary Committee fell apart amid Republican opposition, leaving the party still grappling with a dilemma over stalled judicial nominees that has inflamed some in the Democratic base and complicated the race to succeed her in California. The powerful committee, which is probing allegations of financial conflicts-of-interest against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, also lacks the votes to issue subpoenas in her absence.
DeSantis Group Plans Field Program, Showing the Expanding Role of Super PACs
MSN – Michael Scherer, Isaac Stanley-Becker, and Ashley Parker (Washington Post) | Published: 4/19/2023
Never Back Down, a technically independent super PAC that unlike federal candidates can accept donations of any value from wealthy individuals and corporations, is organizing and funding efforts to assist Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in his yet unannounced campaign for president. The arrangement marks a new frontier in the rapidly shifting campaign finance landscape that governs presidential bids, as outside groups allied with candidates behave more and more like traditional campaigns.
Becerra Violated Hatch Act by Advocating for Senator’s Election, Report Finds
MSN – John Wagner (Washington Post) | Published: 4/18/2023
The Office of Special Counsel determined Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra violated a law that restricts political activities of federal employees when he advocated for the election of U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla at a Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute event. In a letter relaying the finding to President Biden, Special Counsel Henry Kerner said Becerra violated the Hatch Act when he spoke “in his official capacity” at the institute’s annual awards gala in September.
A New Smithsonian Boss Settled Multiple Employee Retaliation Lawsuits
MSN – Manuel Roig-Franzia and Thomas Floyd (Washington Post) | Published: 4/20/2023
When the Smithsonian Institution announced the selection of Nancy Yao to be the founding director of the new American Women’s History Museum planned for the National Mall or alongside the Tidal Basin, the timing seemed apt – it was national Women’s History Month. But in some corners of the museum world, the choice of Yao has evoked uncomfortable echoes of a recent and traumatic period in the history of American women: the national reckoning over sexual harassment brought on by the #MeToo movement.
Fox Was Resigned to a Tough Trial. Then, a Secret Mediator Stepped In.
MSN – Sarah Ellison, Josh Dawsey, and Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) | Published: 4/19/2023
For months, as the pretrial proceedings wore on and the embarrassing internal messages kept spilling into public view, executives at Fox News resigned themselves to a slog of a trial followed by a possible loss before a jury in the $1.6 billion lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems. But at a pre-trial hearing, Judge Eric Davis asked the lawyers for both companies to try to work out their differences. After the jury was seated and before opening arguments could begin, Davis announced, “The parties have resolved the case.”
Billionaire Harlan Crow Bought Property from Clarence Thomas. The Justice Didn’t Disclose the Deal.
ProPublica – Justin Elliott, Joshua Kaplan, and Alex Mierjeski | Published: 4/13/2023
Businessperson Harlan Crow purchased three properties belonging to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his family, in a transaction worth more than $100,000 that Thomas never reported. The 2014 real estate deal shines a new light on Thomas’s decades old relationship with Crow, a real estate magnate and longtime financier for conservative causes. That relationship and the material benefits received by Thomas have fueled calls for an official ethics investigation. A disclosure law requires justices and other officials to disclose the details of most real estate sales over $1,000.
If Tennessee’s Legislature Looks Broken, It’s Not Alone
Yahoo News – Michael Wines (New York Times) | Published: 4/13/2023
Nationwide, candidates for roughly four of every 10 state legislative seats run unopposed in general elections. And across the country, one-party control of state Legislatures, compounded by hyper-partisan politics, widespread gerrymandering, an urban-rural divide, and uncompetitive races, has made dysfunction more the rule than the exception. The lack of competition means incumbent lawmakers face few consequences for their conduct. Their legislative actions are driven in large part by the fraction of partisans who determine their fates in primary elections, the only contests where they face serious opposition.
From the States and Municipalities
Europe – EU Parliament Tightens Lobbying Rules for Ex-MEPs
Macau Business – Agence France Presse | Published: 4/17/2023
The European Parliament will prohibit former members from lobbying legislators for six months after leaving office. The reform comes as the Parliament grapples with the fallout from the scandal involving the alleged bribery of members said to have been paid to push the interests of Qatar and Morocco.
Canada – Ontario NDP Set to Try to Tighten Family Gift Rules after Ford Stag and Doe
Global News – Isaac Callan and Colin D’Mello | Published: 4/17/2023
The Ontario New Democratic Party (NDP) will introduce legislation aimed at closing a loophole that allows family members of politicians to receive gifts from people attempting to influence government policy, bringing the province’s conflict-of-interest rules in line with its federal counterparts. NDP Leader Marit Stiles said she was calling for the new rules after it was reported that several developers, considered to be “personal friends,” attended a fundraising event for Premier Doug Ford’s daughter.
Arizona – Fight to Ban State Benefits for Lobby Group Dies – Again
Arizona Capitol Times – Camryn Sanchez | Published: 4/18/2023
State Sen. Steve Kaiser revived a long-running fight at the Legislature to block employees of the League of Arizona Cities and Towns from getting state retirement benefits. The league and a few other non-government groups were not allowed to get State Retirement System benefits until 2004, when the law was changed to accommodate another group, but Kaiser argues that is not an appropriate use of state funds. He also insisted he is not out for revenge although the League opposed some of his bills this session, although the League thinks differently.
Arizona – Effort to Return Ousted Arizona Lawmaker to House Seat
Arizona Daily Star – Howard Fischer (Capitol News Services) | Published: 4/18/2023
Local Republican Party officials want former Arizona Rep. Liz Harris restored to the legislative seat from which she was just ousted. But whether that is legally or politically possible remains unclear. As required by law, precinct committee members submitted three names to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, which is scheduled to choose a replacement. In addition to Harris, the committee members chose Julie Willoughby, who lost to Harris in last year’s GOP primary by 270 votes, and Steve Steele.
California – SFMTA Commissioner Admits She Illegally Lobbied City Staff
Mission Local – Joe Rivano Barros | Published: 4/18/2023
Gwyneth Borden, the vice chair of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors, and a member of two different city commissions over the course of 15 years, was censured by the city Ethics Commission. A proposed settlement lays out the case that she spent six months illegally lobbying city staff, planning commissioners, and a city supervisor on behalf of a restaurant that paid her $12,500.
California – Santa Clara Official Indicted on Felony Perjury Charge Related to 49ers Probe
MSN – Ron Kroichick and Lance Williams (San Francisco Chronicle) | Published: 4/14/2023
A Santa Clara City Council member and former mayoral candidate who received campaign contributions from the San Francisco 49ers was indicted for allegedly lying about leaking information to a team employee. Anthony Becker was indicted for perjury in connection with allegedly leaking a secret civil grand jury report to the 49ers’ chief lobbyist. He also was charged with failing to perform his official duty. That charge alleged Becker breached confidentiality of a grand jury’s watchdog report, which criticized the 49ers’ heavy involvement in local politics.
California – Judge Declares Mistrial in Bribery Case of Former L.A. Deputy Mayor Raymond Chan
Yahoo News – Michael Finnegan (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 4/13/2023
A judge declared a mistrial in the federal bribery prosecution of former Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Raymond Chan after doctors confirmed his attorney needs months to recover from a recent hospitalization. Chan is the last defendant to face trial in a corruption scandal that exposed pervasive graft in the city’s byzantine process for approving real estate projects in downtown Los Angeles.
Colorado – House Passes Caps for Candidate Contributions in Colorado’s Local Elections
Colorado Springs Gazette – Hannah Metzger (Colorado Politics) | Published: 4/18/2023
The Colorado House approved a bill to establish a statewide limit on contributions made to candidates in local elections, sending the proposal to the Senate for consideration. House Bill 1245 would cap donations from individuals and political parties at $400 and contributions from small-donor committees at $4,000 in municipal elections, among other records and reporting requirements. Proponents said it is intended to decrease the role of money and wealthy individual donors in local elections, while critics said it would put more administrative burden on local governments and violate local control.
Colorado – New Bill Aims to Stop Colorado Utilities from Spending Ratepayer Money on Politics
Energy and Policy Institute – Joe Smyth | Published: 4/20/2023
A new bill in Colorado would stop investor-owned utility companies from using ratepayer money to fund lobbying, trade associations, promotional advertising, and other political influence efforts. The bill and hearings followed months of pressure from ratepayers on utilities, regulators, and policymakers in response to high gas and electricity bills this winter driven by high methane gas prices, and increased public scrutiny of how utilities fund their political influence efforts in Colorado.
Florida – Corruption Trial Begins for Man Who Almost Beat DeSantis
MSN – Brendan Farrington (Associated Press) | Published: 4/18/2023
Former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum pocketed illegal campaign contributions because he was having a hard time paying for his lifestyle after quitting his job to run for governor in 2018, a prosecutor said as a corruption trial began. Gillum had a large mortgage, was making payments on two expensive cars, and was paying private school tuition for his children when he quit his $120,000-a-year job at People for the American Way to run for the Democratic nomination for governor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Milligan said in opening statements.
Florida – Ex-Venezuelan Treasurer, Husband Sentenced to 15 Years in Miami Bribery Case
Yahoo News – Jay Weaver (Miami Herald) | Published: 4/19/2023
A federal judge sent a former Venezuelan national treasurer and her husband to prison for 15 years after they were convicted of accepting tens of millions of dollars in bribes in exchange for lucrative government contracts and then moving some of their illicit money to Miami in an unprecedented foreign corruption case. In addition to prison time, the judge imposed a financial forfeiture penalty of $136 million for Claudia Díaz Guillen and her husband, Adrian Velásquez, and an additional fine of $75,000 each to be paid to the U.S. government.
Georgia – Former Executive Pleads Guilty to Bribing Atlanta Officials
Yahoo News – Associated Press | Published: 4/19/2023
A former executive for a longtime city of Atlanta vendor pleaded guilty to paying bribes in exchange for millions of dollars in city contracts and to bribing an official in a neighboring county to get business there. Lohrasb “Jeff” Jafari also pleaded guilty to failing to pay more than $1.5 million in taxes. He is the latest in a string of people, including numerous former Atlanta officials, to plead guilty or be convicted by a jury as part of a federal investigation into corruption during former Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration. Reed himself was never charged with wrongdoing.
Indiana – Donor Privacy or Secrecy? Nonprofit Disclosure Bill Nears Law
Indiana Capital Chronicle – Leslie Bonilla Muñiz | Published: 4/17/2023
State and local governments in Indiana could not require nonprofits to disclose information about their donors under a bill in the state Legislature. House Bill 1212 would block all levels of government from forcing nonprofits to hand over “personal information” – defined as any compilation of data identifying nonprofit members, supporters, volunteers, or donors. It would additionally ban the public release of that information. The bill treads a narrow path between broad protections for donors and nonprofits and a detailed list of exceptions.
Iowa – Gov. Kim Reynolds Must Comply with Public Records Law, Iowa Supreme Court Rules
MSN – William Morris (Des Moines Register) | Published: 4/14/2023
A lawsuit accusing Gov. Kim Reynolds of failing to follow Iowa’s public records law can continue, the state Supreme Court ruled, saying the governor’s office can be sued just like any other public entity for not producing requested documents in a timely way. The decision came in a suit by three plaintiffs represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, who accused Reynolds’ office of “stonewalling” public records requests, in some cases for more than a year.
Kansas – Gov. Laura Kelly Signs Compromise Bill to Change Ethics Commission Subpoenas, Procedures
Yahoo News – Andrew Bahl (Topeka Capital-Journal) | Published: 4/14/2023
Gov. Laura Kelly signed a compromise effort to change the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission’s subpoena powers, as well as certain procedures in the agency charged with overseeing campaign finance and ethics matters. The move is a less aggressive version of a bill that received pushback from commission Executive Director Mark Skoglund, who criticized it for potentially allowing behavior under investigation in a major probe into legislative Republicans, county party officials, and interest groups.
Kentucky – Craft Claims Ignorance of Husband’s $1.5M Campaign Donation. Election Agency to Review
MSN – Austin Horn (Lexington Herald-Leader) | Published: 4/19/2023
The biggest source of funding for Commonwealth PAC, a group supporting Kelly Craft’s campaign for governor, is her husband Joe Craft, who gave the group $1.5 million. Kentucky Registry of Election Finance Executive Director John Steffen said it “certainly raises concerns about potential coordination” between Craft’s campaign and the PAC, which would be a violation of state law. When asked if she knew about her husband dropping such a large amount of money into the PAC, Craft said she did not know who funded the group.
Michigan – Vendor Admits Bribing Madison Heights School Leader to Win Millions in Contracts
Yahoo News – Tresa Baldas (Detroit Free Press) | Published: 4/14/2023
Contractor John David pleaded guilty to funneling thousands of dollars in bribes to a Madison Heights school board president who used the money on Florida trips and a boat slip, perks Albert Morrison got for helping his friend secure $3.1 million worth of school contracts. Prosecutors allege David paid $561,000 in bribes to Morrison, though the vendor did not admit to that amount in his plea agreement or in court.
Missouri – Missouri Lawmakers Target Revolving Door at State Lottery
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Kurt Erickson | Published: 4/19/2023
The former head of the Missouri Lottery left her post last year, but Republican lawmakers are not done battling over her tenure. After stripping funding for advertising from the Lottery in recent years, members of the House Budget Committee heard testimony on a proposal that would bar Lottery officials from working or lobbying for companies that do business with the state agency. The measure is a response to former Director May Scheve Reardon, who left the top job at the Lottery to take a job with a company that sells materials related to the Lottery’s scratch off ticket business.
Montana – Lawmakers Vote Down Proposed Changes to ’24 Senate Election
Helena Independent Record – Sam Wilson | Published: 4/19/2023
A proposal to rewrite the rules for the 2024 election for U.S. Sen. Jon Tester’s seat went down on a nearly unanimous committee vote after a Republican lawmaker said had been heavily lobbied by voters to oppose it. The legislation would have created an election in which candidates run together in the same primary, and then the top-two vote-getters advance to the general election. the proposal was written to only apply to Montana’s 2024 U.S. Senate race, earning accusations of partisan chicanery by the GOP.
Montana – Lawmakers Move to Slash Timeline for Prosecuting Campaign Finance Violations
Helena Independent Record – Sam Wilson | Published: 4/14/2023
House Bill 947 would cut the time allowed to pursue campaign finance violations in Montana to two years, instead of the current four-year period allowed for those cases to take shape. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. George Nikolokakos, told a Senate committee the legislation would bring the timeline closer to that of some other types of cases, like property damage. Former Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl said that timeline would have prevented him from pursuing a high-profile case against Art Wittich, who was found guilty in 2016 of illegally accepting corporate campaign contributions and illegally coordinating with a political group.
Nebraska – Nebraska Legislature Slow to Adopt Ethics Changes in the Year After Groene’s Resignation
Omaha World Herald – Erin Bamer | Published: 4/17/2023
It has been over a year since former state Sen. Mike Groene resigned amid allegations of workplace misconduct, and the Nebraska Legislature has not adopted many changes aimed at heading off future scandals. Some changes may be on the way, as the state’s Executive Board prepares to vote on a list of recommendations made by an interim ethics committee. But lawmakers are split in their views on whether these suggestions are sufficient. Groene resigned after news broke that he took photos of a former female staff member without her knowledge.
New Mexico – Ethics Allegations Move Forward Against State Treasurer Laura Montoya
Albuquerque Journal – Dan McKay | Published: 4/17/2023
The general counsel for the State Ethics Commission found probable cause to support allegations that Treasurer Laura Montoya violated New Mexico’s campaign finance and financial disclosure laws while running for office. The case will go before a hearing officer. The allegations center on whether Montoya failed to properly disclose the source of $10,000 in contributions and incorrectly filled out paperwork disclosing her personal finances.
New York – N.Y. Budget Chief’s Exit Prompts Inquiry into Covid Contract Deals
DNyuz – Jay Root (New York Times) | Published: 4/15/2023
The departure of two state officials in New York is now part of an inspector general review. As the deadline drew near for the state’s $220-billion-plus budget, it was announced that Sandra Beattie, the acting budget director who assembled the proposal, was being replaced. Beattie’s exit triggered a state investigation into tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer money used for no-bid contract expansions that went to private consultants under pandemic emergency decrees. Upon leaving, Beattie turned in a cellphone that had been wiped clean, making it difficult for investigators to discover if she had used it to hide potentially damaging communications.
North Dakota – Bill for Changes Sought by North Dakota Ethics Panel Goes to Burgum
Bismarck Tribune – Jack Dura | Published: 4/13/2023
Proposed changes to the North Dakota Ethics Commission’s procedures were sent to Gov. Doug Burgum. Senate Bill 2408 includes extending the time frame to notify an accused person of an ethics complaint, and adding criteria for who can make complaints. The ethics panel originally sought to add about 8,960 executive branch employees to its jurisdiction over “public officials,” but a Senate committee cut that proposed expansion from the bill.
Ohio – Former Columbus City Hall Lobbyist to Be Resentenced in Bribery Scheme
MSN – Daniel Griffin (WCMH) | Published: 4/15/2023
A federal appeals court ruled a former Columbus lobbyist must be resentenced. John Raphael faced up to 20 years in prison for accepting bribes, but U.S. District Court Judge Michael Watson sentenced him to just one day and then suspended that sentence.
Oklahoma – Okla. Governor Calls on Officials to Resign After ‘Horrid’ Audio Emerges
MSN – Jonathan Edwards (Washington Post) | Published: 4/18/2023
County officials dispatched with the agenda and ushered citizens out of a recent public meeting in southeastern Oklahoma, they spoke among themselves without realizing they were being secretly recorded. It was reported some officials hinted at assassinating a journalist who had reported on their alleged misconduct, and a county commissioner lamented about how they could no longer yank Black people out of the jail, “take them down to Mud Creek and hang them up with a … rope,” according to McCurtain Gazette-News.
Pennsylvania – Voters Are Still Getting Mailers from an Outside Group Boosting Jeff Brown for Mayor Despite a Judge’s Order
MSN – Anna Orso (Philadelphia Inquirer) | Published: 4/19/2023
The nonprofit that was sued by the Philadelphia Board of Ethics over allegations it illegally coordinated with mayoral candidate Jeff Brown says it can continue circulating literature ahead of the primary election, under certain circumstances. But the Board of Ethics disagrees on what those ads can look like, and the matter will likely need to be settled in court. A judge told leaders of A Better Philadelphia and a PAC that it funds they must, at least temporarily, stop spending money to influence the May 16 primary election. But some residents have received mailed advertisements from the nonprofit recently.
South Carolina – SC GOP Consultant Richard Quinn’s Guilty Plea Brings Closure to Statehouse Probe
Charleston Post and Courier – Caitlin Ashworth | Published: 4/19/2023
Richard Quinn, once considered South Carolina’s most powerful Republican political consultant, pleaded guilty to perjury and obstruction of justice charges tied to the investigation into corruption at the statehouse. Quinn entered an Alford plea, where he did not admit guilt but agreed a jury would likely convict him. The charges came after Quinn testified before a grand jury as part of an agreement to drop previous charges in the corruption probe that examined conflicts among lawmakers and consultants, along with state agencies and large businesses, that lobby the General Assembly.
Vermont – Full Disclosure: Vermont’s legislative ethics forms are hard to find, out of date and limited in scope
VTDigger.org – Sarah Mearhoff | Published: 4/18/2023
In Vermont, lawmakers and candidates must file reports about their financial interests. But the information, while technically available to the public, is challenging both to unearth and decipher – in some cases coming in the form of barely legible handwritten documents. Some of those are available only by going to the statehouse in Montpelier and knowing who to ask. Of the 48 states that require candidates to file such disclosures, Vermont is the only one that has no statutory mechanisms to enforce its own rules, said Christina Sivret, executive director of the state’s Ethics Commission.
April 20, 2023 •
Thursday’s LobbyComply News Roundup
Campaign Finance Colorado: “House Passes Caps for Candidate Contributions in Colorado’s Local Elections” by Hannah Metzger (Colorado Politics) for Colorado Springs Gazette Kentucky: “Craft Claims Ignorance of Husband’s $1.5M Campaign Donation. Election Agency to Review” by Austin Horn (Lexington Herald-Leader) for MSN Pennsylvania: “Voters Are […]
Colorado: “House Passes Caps for Candidate Contributions in Colorado’s Local Elections” by Hannah Metzger (Colorado Politics) for Colorado Springs Gazette
Kentucky: “Craft Claims Ignorance of Husband’s $1.5M Campaign Donation. Election Agency to Review” by Austin Horn (Lexington Herald-Leader) for MSN
Pennsylvania: “Voters Are Still Getting Mailers from an Outside Group Boosting Jeff Brown for Mayor Despite a Judge’s Order” by Anna Orso (Philadelphia Inquirer) for MSN
Montana: “Lawmakers Vote Down Proposed Changes to ’24 Senate Election” by Sam Wilson for Helena Independent Record
National: “DeSantis Group Plans Field Program, Showing the Expanding Role of Super PACs” by Michael Scherer, Isaac Stanley-Becker, and Ashley Parker (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Fox, Dominion Reach $787M Settlement Over Election Claims” by David Bauder, Randall Chase, and Geoff Mulvihill (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
National: “Democrats Still Face Feinstein Dilemma as Replacement Bid Fails” by Liz Goodwin, Maeve Reston, and Cleve Wooten Jr. (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “SFMTA Commissioner Admits She Illegally Lobbied City Staff” by Joe Rivano Barros for Mission Local
Missouri: “Missouri Lawmakers Target Revolving Door at State Lottery” by Kurt Erickson for St. Louis Post-Dispatch
State and Federal Communications, Inc. provides research and consulting services for government relations professionals on lobbying laws, procurement lobbying laws, political contribution laws in the United States and Canada. Learn more by visiting stateandfed.com.