March 11, 2021 •
The British Columbia Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists released new guidance documents this month outlining key considerations for lobbyists when declaring government funding in the Lobbyists Registry and guidance on the term “provincial entity” as it is used in […]
The British Columbia Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists released new guidance documents this month outlining key considerations for lobbyists when declaring government funding in the Lobbyists Registry and guidance on the term “provincial entity” as it is used in the Lobbyists Transparency Act (LTA).
The LTA requires lobbyists provide information in their Registration Return about government funding, whether received or requested by their organization or client, from any government, government agency, or provincial entity in the preceding 12-month period. This is not limited to funding related to lobbying in British Columbia. Government funding includes those of any level of government, including foreign, federal, provincial, or municipal governmental entities. Non-refundable funding given in response to the COVID-19 pandemic is reportable. Now that the online Registry has been updated to permit lobbyists to declare funding, the guidance provides instructions on how to enter, remove and modify the information on a lobbyist’s report.
Similar government funding disclosure obligations are also required by federal lobbyists and lobbyists in Alberta.
The document providing guidance on the term “provincial entity” is intended to help lobbyists understand which persons working for a provincial entity are covered individuals for purposes of disclosure in lobbying reports. “Provincial entity” is specifically defined by regulation and generally refers to provincial government bodies or corporations outside core government. Provincial entities include crown corporations, school districts, public sector post-secondary institutions, such as colleges and universities, and health authorities.
March 11, 2021 •
Campaign Finance National: “Trump’s Fundraising Whiplash Highlights GOP’s Small-Donor Issue” by Bridget Bowman (Roll Call) for MSN New Mexico: “Political Spending Transparency Bill Clears Senate” by Bryan Metzger for New Mexico In Depth Ohio: “Bankruptcy Judge Questioned FirstEnergy Solutions’ Law […]
National: “Trump’s Fundraising Whiplash Highlights GOP’s Small-Donor Issue” by Bridget Bowman (Roll Call) for MSN
New Mexico: “Political Spending Transparency Bill Clears Senate” by Bryan Metzger for New Mexico In Depth
Ohio: “Bankruptcy Judge Questioned FirstEnergy Solutions’ Law Firm on a Draft Political Contributions Motion That Was Never Filed” by Dave Anderson for Energy and Policy Institute
Missouri: “After Judges Rewrite GOP Lawmakers’ Ballot Language, Missouri House Votes to Strip Their Power” by Jack Suntrup and Maria Benevento for St. Louis Post-Dispatch
California: “City Hall Corruption Probe: Former S.F. official and girlfriend to Mohammed Nuru agrees to plead guilty, cooperate with feds” by Michael Williams (San Francisco Chronicle) for MSN
Illinois: “State’s Ex-Pot Regulators, Pols Are Cashing In On the Exploding Industry. A Proposed Crackdown Won’t Stop All of Them.” by Tom Schuba for Chicago Sun-Times
Iowa: “Journalist Acquitted in Iowa Case Seen as Attack on Press” by Ryan Foley (Associated Press) for MSN
Texas: “Twitter Sues Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, Asks Court to Halt His Investigation of the Social Media Company” by Marissa Martinez for Texas Tribune
National: “U.S. House Republicans May Follow Democrats in Rebooting Shamed ‘Earmarks’” by Jarret Renshaw for Reuters
New York: “Top NYC Lobbyist Settles Ethics Case in de Blasio Fundraising Probe” by Carl Campanile for New York Post
March 10, 2021 •
Campaign Finance California: “New Escondido Council Erases Campaign Finance Reforms Enacted by Predecessors” by Joe Tash for San Diego Union Tribune Maine: “Maine Ethics Commission Says Senate District 14 Candidate Violated Election Law, but Assesses No Penalty” by Jessica Lowell […]
California: “New Escondido Council Erases Campaign Finance Reforms Enacted by Predecessors” by Joe Tash for San Diego Union Tribune
Maine: “Maine Ethics Commission Says Senate District 14 Candidate Violated Election Law, but Assesses No Penalty” by Jessica Lowell (Kennebec Journal) for Portland Press Herald
National: “House Democrats End Controversial Consultant Ban” by Ally Mutnick for Politico
National: “Inside the Lincoln Project’s Secrets, Side Deals and Scandals” by Danny Hakim, Maggie Astor, and Jo Becker for New York Times
Michigan: “Feds Probe MDOT Corruption Case with Alleged Ghost Contractors, Bonuses for Wives” by Robert Snell (Detroit News) for Yahoo News
New York: “Cuomo’s Behavior Created ‘Hostile, Toxic’ Workplace Culture for Decades, Former Aides Say” by Amy Brittain, Josh Dawsey, Hannah Knowles, and Tracy Jan (Washington Post) for MSN
South Carolina: “SC Government Waste and Corruption Revelations Confront Culture Resistant to Change” by Tony Bartelme and Glenn Smith for Charleston Post and Courier
National: “Oil Refiner Valero to Disclose Climate Lobbying After Criticism” by Gerson Freitas Jr. and Saijel Kishan (Bloomberg) for MSN
Oregon: “A Timber Lobbyist Called Our Investigation ‘Completely Bogus.’ We Have the Receipts to Show It’s Not” by Rob Davis (Portland Oregonian) and Tony Schick (Oregon Public Broadcasting) for ProPublica
March 9, 2021 •
One of the federal lobbying registration thresholds for organizations employing in-house lobbyists has been increased. Now, an organization employing in-house lobbyists whose total expenses in connection with lobbying activities do not exceed and are not expected to exceed $14,000 in […]
One of the federal lobbying registration thresholds for organizations employing in-house lobbyists has been increased. Now, an organization employing in-house lobbyists whose total expenses in connection with lobbying activities do not exceed and are not expected to exceed $14,000 in the quarterly period is not required to be registered. The previous level was $13,000. This threshold amount is adjusted every four years based on the Consumer Price Index.
The threshold amount for lobbying firms remains the same. A lobbying firm or individual lobbyist whose total income for matters relating to lobbying activities on behalf of a particular client does not exceed or is not expected to exceed $3,000 in the quarterly period is exempt from registration with respect to such client.
Other determinations for registration include whether a lobbyist is an individual who, with respect to a particular client, makes more than one lobbying contact and whose lobbying activities constitute at least 20% of the individual’s time in services for that client over any three-month period.
March 9, 2021 •
Campaign Finance Massachusetts: “Body Armor and Pepper Spray: Politicians can buy safety gear with campaign funds after Capitol attack” by Matt Stout (Boston Globe) for MSN Elections National: “Biden Signs Executive Order Promoting Voting Rights on 56th Anniversary of ‘Bloody […]
Massachusetts: “Body Armor and Pepper Spray: Politicians can buy safety gear with campaign funds after Capitol attack” by Matt Stout (Boston Globe) for MSN
National: “Biden Signs Executive Order Promoting Voting Rights on 56th Anniversary of ‘Bloody Sunday’” by Felicia Sonmez and Amy Gardner (Washington Post) for Seattle Times
Illinois: “How Michael Madigan’s Departure Accelerates a Shift in Chicago Politics from Old-School Machine to New-Era Progressives” by Bill Ruthhart and John Byrne (Chicago Tribune) for Yahoo News
National: “Rep. Eric Swalwell Sues Trump Over Jan. 6 Riot, Alleging He Poses Risk of ‘Inciting Future Political Violence’” by Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “S.F. City Hall Corruption: Recology to repay customers $94.5 million for rates Mohammed Nuru helped set” by Megan Cassidy (San Francisco Chronicle) for MSN
New York: “NY Officials Removed Fuller Tally of Nursing Home Deaths” by Staff for Associated Press News
North Dakota: “North Dakota House Expels Lawmaker Accused of Misconduct” by James MacPherson for Associated Press News
National: “Digging in as an All-GOP Firm in a Democratic Town” by Kate Ackley (Roll Call) for MSN
West Virginia: “Ethics Commission Breaks Up County Prosecutor’s Hiring of Her Boyfriend” by Phil Kabler for Charleston Gazette and Mail
March 8, 2021 •
Campaign Finance New York: “Is NYC’s Expensive Campaign Finance Program Worth the Cost?” by Cindy Rodriguez for Gothamist Elections Georgia: “Georgia Republicans Want to Reshape Voting Laws, Burdening Voters of Color” by Carrie Levine, Kimberly Cataudella, and Stephen Fowler for […]
New York: “Is NYC’s Expensive Campaign Finance Program Worth the Cost?” by Cindy Rodriguez for Gothamist
Georgia: “Georgia Republicans Want to Reshape Voting Laws, Burdening Voters of Color” by Carrie Levine, Kimberly Cataudella, and Stephen Fowler for Georgia Public Broadcasting
National: “State Department Aide Appointed by Trump Stormed the Capitol, Beat Police with a Riot Shield, FBI Says” by Katie Shepherd (Washington Post) for San Diego Union Tribune
National: “House Restarts Push to Enforce Subpoena for Trump Financial Records” by Todd Ruger (Roll Call) for MSN
National: “Feds Investigating Hagedorn Appearances on Minnesota Talk Radio Station” by Daniel Newhauser (Minnesota Reformer) for SouthernMinn.com
Ohio: “In Filing, FirstEnergy Said State Regulator Acted for the Company’s Benefit as a Result of $4.3 Million Payment” by Andrew Tobias (Cleveland Plain Dealer) for MSN
California: “As Newsom Pushes to Extend Emergency Spending Authority During Pandemic, Lobbyist Influence Remains Opaque” by Scott Rodd for Capital Public Radio
Michigan: “Lobbyist Advanced Client’s Plan as Appointee on Michigan Pot Panel” by Craig Mauger (Detroit News) for Yahoo News
Oregon: “Lobbyists Try for Influence, Without as Much Access to Oregon Lawmakers” by Jake Thomas (Salem Reporter) for Portland Oregonian
March 5, 2021 •
Aurora City Council member Angela Lawson is sponsoring an ordinance to create lobbyist registration and reporting requirements. Lawson’s sweeping proposals would require lobbyists to register their clients and income with the city and submit quarterly, detailed reports on their activities […]
Aurora City Council member Angela Lawson is sponsoring an ordinance to create lobbyist registration and reporting requirements.
Lawson’s sweeping proposals would require lobbyists to register their clients and income with the city and submit quarterly, detailed reports on their activities and financial motivations.
Lobbyists who do not comply with the regulations could lose the ability to influence city officials on matters from development to zoning rules, permits and city contracts, face possible expulsion and up to $2,500 fines per charge.
The rules would apply not only to lobbyists and the City Council but also to the city manager, staff, board and commission members, and presiding judges, among others. The city clerk would be responsible for deciding if rules have been violated and handing down judgments.
City Council members will review the proposal during their next regular meeting on March 8.
March 5, 2021 •
National/Federal Biden Won’t Release White House Virtual Visitor Logs Politico – Anita Kumar | Published: 3/1/2021 President Biden and is under pressure to do more to restore confidence in the federal government following Donald Trump’s term in the White House. But […]
Biden Won’t Release White House Virtual Visitor Logs
Politico – Anita Kumar | Published: 3/1/2021
President Biden and is under pressure to do more to restore confidence in the federal government following Donald Trump’s term in the White House. But the schedules for the president and vice president are not posted online, the White House comment line is shut down, and there are no citizen petitions on the White House’s website. The administration has committed to releasing visitor logs. But it does not plan to divulge the names of attendees of virtual meetings, which are the primary mode of interaction until the pandemic eases. While Biden has received praise for keeping the American public informed, primarily by resuming the daily White House press briefings, he has yet to hold a news conference of his own.
Budget Nominee Tanden Withdraws Nomination Amid Opposition
Associated Press News – Alexandra Jaffe | Published: 3/2/2021
President Biden’s pick to head the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, has withdrawn her nomination after she faced opposition from key Democratic and Republican senators for her controversial tweets. Her withdrawal marks the first high-profile defeat of one of Biden’s nominees. The White House stuck with Tanden even after some centrist Republicans made their opposition known. Tanden faced pointed questions over her past comments about members from both parties during her confirmation hearing. Sen. Bernie Sanders accused her of issuing “vicious attacks” against progressives and had not said whether he’d support her nomination.
Capitol Riot Defendants Facing Jail Have Regrets. Judges Aren’t Buying It.
MSN – Rachel Weiner and Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 2/26/2021
As defendants charged in the Capitol siege have been coming through court, some have been shifting blame onto former President Trump, downplaying their actions, or expressing remorse. But federal judges, particularly those who work a few blocks from the Capitol, are not buying it. One judge called a defendant’s claim of civil disobedience “detached from reality.” Another verbally smacked down an attorney who tried to use the QAnon conspiracy theory to explain his client shouting “kill them all.” Other judges have been giving defendants civics lessons on how democracy works.
Elaine Chao Used DOT Staff to Aid Personal Errands, Father’s Business, Inspector Finds
Politico – Sam Mintz and Tanya Snyder | Published: 3/3/2021
Former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao repeatedly used her staff and her position of power to boost the reputation of her shipping magnate father and otherwise aid her family, the Department of Transportation’s inspector concluded. The internal watchdog faulted Chao for four kinds of ethics violations, including planning to bring relatives on an official trip to China and requiring the department’s public affairs staff to help market a book written by her father. It found she also had employees handle personal errands such as shipping Christmas ornaments. Investigators referred their findings to the Justice Department for prosecution in December but it declined.
Ethics Watchdog: ‘Substantial’ evidence GOP lawmaker improperly spent funds, misused position to help brother
The Hill – Cristina Marcos | Published: 3/1/2021
The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) concluded there is “substantial” evidence that U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo misused campaign as well as official funds and used his office to help his brother in violation of House rules. The OCE said it found evidence indicating Palazzo asked his House office staffers to perform campaign work and personal errands; and used his position as a member of Congress to contact the assistant secretary of the Navy to help his brother reenlist. The report said Palazzo charged his campaign committee rent for ostensibly using a riverfront home he owned as a headquarters, equal to the amount of his monthly mortgage, insurance, and tax payments “during a time of personal financial stress.”
Facebook Lifts Political Ad Ban
Politico – Elena Schneider | Published: 3/3/2021
Facebook lifted its ban on political ads, ending a self-imposed prohibition that began immediately after the 2020 general election and remained active for months. Facebook’s platform is one of the largest and most cost-effective ways for campaigns to reach voters and potential supporters. Digital strategists in both parties were critical of Facebook’s decision to cut off access to voters for the last several months, upending off-year campaign strategies.
HR 1 Overhaul Would Set New Holiday and New Rules for Lobbyists, Elections and Justices
MSN – Kate Ackley (Roll Call) | Published: 3/3/2021
The U.S. House approved a sweeping political money, elections, influence, and ethics measure, but the bill faces an uncertain fate in the Senate. A hallmark of the package would set out an optional system to finance congressional campaigns with public money. It would provide a six-to-one match of small-dollar campaign donations. Under the legislation, all states would be required to send voters an application to cast their ballots by mail. Now, anyone who keeps their lobbying activities under 20 percent of their time for a client can remain under the public radar. HR 1 would take that threshold down to 10 percent.
‘It’s Donald Trump’s Party’: How the former president is building a political operation to cement his hold on the GOP
MSN – Josh Dawsey and Michael Scherer (Washington Post) | Published: 2/27/2021
Any doubts about Donald Trump’s primacy in the Republican Party have been settled in recent weeks by the parade of petitioners he has welcomed to his Florida club. The party chairperson, the top two House Republicans, U.S. Sen. Lindsay Graham, and a coterie of other former aides and advisers have all made appearances at Mar-a-Lago, offering their counsel and seeking the favor of a former president who many believe controls the short-term fortunes of GOP candidates up and down the ballot and has made it clear he plans to use that power. Trump has started building his post-White House political operation and cementing his role as the party’s de facto leader.
Jim Jordan Under Scrutiny for Nearly $3 Million in Unreported Campaign Funds
Yahoo News – Roger Sollenberger (Daily Beast) | Published: 3/3/2021
The campaign committee for U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan received ten notices from the FEC flagging discrepancies on its books totaling nearly $3 million dollars and dating back over two years. The campaign claims the errors slipped through the cracks amid a record fundraising surge, and it has more money on the books now, but experts say the dollar amount – errors totaling some $2.87 million – may trigger an FEC investigation. The errors also appear connected to newly developed, largely hidden payment systems in the murky world of Republican digital advertising, where vendors not only receive direct spending, but take cuts from fundraising as well.
Rep. Ronny Jackson Made Sexual Comments, Drank Alcohol and Took Ambien While Working as White House Physician, Pentagon Watchdog Finds
CNN – Manu Raju, Barbara Starr, Zachary Cohen, and Oren Lieberman | Published: 3/3/2021
The Department of Defense inspector general’s office found U.S. Rep. Ronny Jackson made “sexual and denigrating” comments about a female subordinate, violated the policy for drinking alcohol while on a presidential trip, and took prescription-strength sleeping medication that prompted concerns from his colleagues about his ability to provide proper care during his time serving as the top White House physician. The report notes the investigation into Jackson “was limited in scope and unproductive” as White House counsel under Donald Trump insisted on being present at all interviews of current White House Medical Unit employees, which had a “potential chilling effect” on the probe.
Supreme Court Appears to Favor Upholding Voting Laws Lower Court Found Unfair to Minorities
Anchorage Daily News – Robert Barnes (Washington Post) | Published: 3/2/2021
The U.S. Supreme Court seemed inclined to make it more difficult to challenge widely used voting laws that in practice might be more of a burden to minority voters. The justices reviewed the protections provided by the Voting Rights Act (VRA) to forbid laws that result in discrimination based on race. The cases involve two voting regulations that are in common use across the country. One throws out the ballots of those who vote in the wrong precinct. The other restricts who may collect ballots cast early for delivery to polling places, a practice then-President Trump denounced as “ballot harvesting.” The greater impact will be the test the court develops for proving violations of the VRA, as new laws are proposed and state Legislatures begin redrawing congressional and legislative districts.
Canada – Ontario Law Would Restrict Election Spending by Third-Party Groups, Double Donation Limits for Individuals
Toronto Star – Robert Benzie | Published: 2/25/2021
Ontario Premier Doug Ford’ Progressive Conservatives have unveiled proposed campaign finance changes, doubling annual donation caps to $3,300, extending per-vote subsidies for political parties, and limiting PAC spending. Under legislation, advance polling days would also be increased from five to 10 to allow for safer voting in the COVID-19 era. Conservatives want to clamp down on PACs, such as the pro-Tory Ontario Proud and Working Families, which boosted the Liberals in past election campaigns. Such third-party advertising groups spent more than $5 million in the six months leading up to the June 2018 election.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – ‘Dark Money’ Is Still Trying to Influence Phoenix Elections Despite New Law. Here’s How.
MSN – Jen Fifield (Arizona Republic) | Published: 2/24/2021
Some Phoenix voters got the first deceitful political mailer from Americans for Progress nearly two weeks ago, and they just keep coming. The ads are seemingly attempting to trick voters in the progressive district into thinking Yassamin Ansari, a Democratic candidate for Phoenix City Council, is a Republican. But voters do not have a way of knowing who is sending them. Americans for Progress has yet to file a disclosure with the city. A new law was intended to stop these “dark money” ads from influencing city elections, but the group sending the ads remains shrouded in secrecy, even as voting for city council races is underway.
California – 5 Charged in SF Corruption Probe, Temporarily Barred from Receiving City Contracts
KPIX – Staff | Published: 3/2/2021
Five business executives linked to widespread corruption in San Francisco have been temporarily barred from doing business with the city. All five have been implicated in a federal investigation that began more than a year ago and centers around high-ranking city officials like former Department of Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru and former Public Utilities Commission General Manger Harlan Kelly accepting gifts in exchange for help obtaining city contracts. The suspension orders are the first of their kind. A 2020 city law allows for city contractors who have been charged criminally, civilly, or administratively to be suspended from receiving public funds while the case against them is ongoing.
California – Ethics Commission Staff Were Told to Soften Their Advice on Gifts, Whistleblower Says
MSN – David Zahniser (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 2/25/2021
Heather Holt, who was executive director of the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission, told staffers at a 2018 meeting that a member of the city council had “threatened to cut the Ethics Commission’s budget if they did not give more permissive advice” on certain gift rules, according to an email written by Alexandria Latragna, the agency’s ethics program manager at the time. Latragna wrote Holt told commission staff that to maintain a good relationship with the council, they would need to be more “middle of the road” with the advice they gave on rules involving private events sponsored by lobbyists. David Tristan, who replaced Holt as executive director, issued a denial of the incident on her behalf.
California – Prosecutors Extract Pleas, $215 Million in Charter School Fraud Case
Voice of San Diego – Will Huntsberry | Published: 2/26/2021
The two ringleaders of an online charter school scam that raked in hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges. Sean McManus and Jason Schrock, as well as nine other defendants, were charged in 2019 as part of a complicated scheme that involved enrolling fake students into their online charter schools and collecting public money for each student. As part of McManus and Schrock’s plea deal, they agreed to turn over all remaining cash and assets owned by A3 and its subsidiary companies. So far, that includes at least $215 million that will eventually make its way back into state coffers.
Colorado – Aurora Moves Forward Bills on Lobbying Disclosures, Sales Tax Exemptions on Menstrual Products
Aurora Sentinel – Grant Stringer | Published: 3/1/2021
The Aurora City Council gave first approval to a bill implementing strict lobbying disclosure requirements. The rules would require lobbyists to register their clients and income with the city, which would be made public to boost public trust in government, Councilperson Angela Lawson said. They would have to submit quarterly, detailed reports on their activities and financial motivations or face up to $2,500 fines per each charge.
Connecticut – Ex-State Employee Faces $5K Penalty for Using Work Computer, Email for Private Businesses
MSN – Russell Blair (Hartford Courant) | Published: 3/2/2021
A former employee of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection agreed to pay a $5,000 penalty after an investigation determined he used his state-issued computer, phone, and email address to run private businesses unrelated to his state job. Sean Condon used the state equipment to operate a retail men’s hair and skin care product business and an internet marketing business while on state time, according to a consent order he signed with the Office of State Ethics.
Florida – Legislating in the Time of COVID-19 Means Putting Protections Over Public Access
Yahoo News – Mary Ellen Klas and Kirby Wilson (Miami Herald) | Published: 3/2/2021
Florida legislators opened their 60-day session this year trying to navigate a global pandemic and stay healthy enough to avoid disrupting their activities, access to elected government is limited. Gov. Ron DeSantis has not allowed the Capitol to be open to visitors and the public, even as he ordered all businesses to be open in Florida. Citizens are kept out of the buildings and at a distance, and the pandemic protocols set up by legislative leaders to allow the public to testify in person before committee hearings have proven cumbersome and technology challenged.
Florida – Wealthy Keys Enclave Received COVID Vaccines in January Before Much of the State
MSN – David Goodhue and Mary Ellen Klas (Miami Herald) | Published: 3/3/2021
As Florida’s eldest residents struggled to sign up to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, nearly all those aged 65 years and older in a wealthy gated enclave in the Florida Keys had been vaccinated by mid-January. The Ocean Reef Club is home to many wealthy donors to the Florida Republican Party and GOP candidates, including Gov. Ron DeSantis. In fact, the only people from Key Largo who gave to DeSantis’ political committee live in Ocean Reef. On February 25, one resident of Ocean Reef, Bruce Rauner, the former Republican governor of Illinois, donated $250,00 to DeSantis.
Illinois – Ex-Lawmaker’s Indictment Stems Partly from Secret ComEd Payments, Source Says
WBEZ – Dave McKinney, Tony Arnold, and Dan Mihalopoulos | Published: 2/25/2021
A newly filed federal tax-evasion indictment against a former member of ex-Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s leadership team stems at least in part from secret payments for “government relations” work from Commonwealth Edison (ComEd). A source familiar with the probe said a six-count indictment against former state Rep. Edward Acevedo is a byproduct from the ongoing bribery investigation into ComEd’s Springfield lobbying practices. Federal charging documents against Acevedo and separate tax-evasion charges against his two sons do not make that connection clear. But the source said the case relates, in part, to unreported income originating from ComEd that Acevedo received from a company called Apex Strategy.
Illinois – Illinois Democrats Tap U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly of Matteson to Succeed Michael Madigan as State Party Chair
MSN – Rick Pearson (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 3/3/2021
Illinois Democratic leaders selected U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly as their new state party chairperson and the successor to embattled former House Speaker Michael Madigan, who held the post for 23 years. The race was not without controversy. Outside attorneys for the state Democratic Party warned that Kelly, as a federal officeholder, would be prohibited from raising state money because Illinois fundraising rules are less strict than the federal rules that bind the member of Congress.
Illinois – Madigan Picks Another House Successor After Quickly Forcing Out His First Choice Over ‘Alleged Questionable Conduct’
MSN – Rick Pearson (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 2/25/2021
Angie Guerrero-Cuellar became the second replacement in four days for the Illinois House seat held by former Speaker Michael Madigan following a meeting of local ward and township committee members. Guerrero-Cuellar succeeds Madigan’s original hand-picked successor, Edward Guerra Kodatt, who resigned after the former speaker and Chicago Ald. Marty Quinn called on him to step down for unspecified “alleged questionable conduct.” The abrupt moves over the vacancy created by Madigan’s resignation were a sharp contrast to the hands-on, detail-oriented style the ex-speaker has displayed in running his ward and district office.
Massachusetts – Massachusetts Republican Nominated for Top Campaign Finance Job
Boston Herald – State House News Service | Published: 2/26/2021
The panel that has been searching for a new director for the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) was unanimous in its selection of Woburn City Clerk William Campbell to lead the agency. Secretary of State William Galvin mentioned talking with Campbell about the changing nature of campaigns and how the OCPF fits in. Campbell, if he accepts the job, would be the first new director since the retiring Michael Sullivan took charge of the agency about 27 years ago.
Michigan – Coronavirus Created ‘Perfect Storm’ That Rained Private Money on Michigan Election Administration
MSN – Gus Burns (MLive.com) | Published: 2/28/2021
The 474 local clerks’ offices in Michigan received millions of dollars from private nonprofits to administer the 2020 elections. Most spent grant funds on additional personnel needed to sort, verify, and count the influx of ballots that tripled for some offices due to relaxed absentee voting restrictions and a statewide push to promote remote voting. Some used their money for things like get-out-the-vote campaigns, ballot drop boxes, and in one case, a trailer that allowed city employees to travel to neighborhoods and deliver absentee ballots in person. Private money, usually reserved for politically motivated campaign efforts and ballot initiatives, has never entered Michigan elections this way, at the ground floor of democracy to pay for the mechanics.
Mississippi – Bill That Would Have Required Gov. Reeves to Reveal Inauguration Funding Dies in Senate
Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal – Luke Ramseth | Published: 3/3/2021
Lawmakers defeated legislation that would have provided transparency around how Gov. Tate Reeves and future Mississippi governors raise and spend money on inauguration festivities. House Bill 109 said Reeves and future governor-elects would be required to reveal their inauguration financial information to the secretary of state’s office, similar to how politicians must publicly disclose information about their campaign funds. Governors and other top Mississippi politicians have long used 501(c)4 nonprofits to fund their inauguration ceremonies, parties, and transition expenses. Donors to those nonprofits can be kept secret.
Montana – Lawmaker Revives Proposal to Eliminate State’s Top Political Cop
Helena Independent Record – Sam Wilson | Published: 2/25/2021
Rep. Derek Skees is reviving a proposal he brought four years earlier to eliminate Montana’s commissioner of political practices, the state’s enforcer of campaign finance and lobbying laws. Similar to legislation that passed the House in the 2017 session before stalling out in the Senate, House Bill 535 proposes shifting much of the office’s duties to the secretary of state, including receiving campaign statements and reports for candidates and political committees. Under the new bill, the secretary of state would also be responsible for receiving and investigating campaign finance and election complaints.
New Jersey – Firm Cited in Pay-to-Play Lawsuit Quits Job with N.J. Town
Newark Star Ledger – Bill Duhart (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 3/1/2021
A firm cited in a “pay-to-play” lawsuit resigned an appointment to a township government post days after it had been appointed for an additional year. Capehart Scatchard resigned its position as conflict counsel with Washington Township in Gloucester County after a pair of citizen watchdogs accused it of making campaign contributions to several elected township officials, including the mayor. The firms were then paid more than $17,500 for annual no-bid contracts, which is a violation of state “pay-to-play” laws, according to the suit.
New Mexico – Compromise Redistricting Bill Advances Unanimously from Senate Committee
New Mexico Political Report – Robert Nott (Santa Fe News Mexican) | Published: 3/2/2021
Lawmakers on the Senate Rules Committee came to a quick compromise on a measure they hope will set New Mexico’s sometimes controversial redistricting process on a smooth path via an independent, bipartisan panel to redraw voting district boundaries. The bill calls for a seven-member panel and prohibits a majority of Democrats or Republicans and only requires the commission to come up with three plans for the Legislature to consider. There is no language in that would force the Legislature to accept any of the submitted plans.
New Mexico – Lobbyists Still Picking Up the Tab
Yahoo News – Dan McKay (Albuquerque Journal) | Published: 2/28/2021
New Mexico lawmakers are conducting much of this year’s session online to limit the spread of COVID-19. Committee hearings have moved entirely to Zoom, and full meetings of the House and Senate are a mix of in-person and remote participation. The Capitol is closed, with only legislators, staff, and some media members allowed inside. But lobbyists are still finding ways to feed hungry lawmakers, sometimes in person.
New York – ‘Embarrassed’ Cuomo Apologizes but Won’t Resign Over Sexual Harassment Allegations
National Public Radio – Rachel Triesman | Published: 3/3/2021
In his first press briefing since three women came forward with claims of sexual harassment, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo apologized for acting “in a way that made people feel uncomfortable,” but denied touching anyone inappropriately and said he would not resign. New York’s attorney general is investigating the allegations, which were raised by two former aides and a woman who met Cuomo at a wedding. Cuomo, who is facing mounting calls to resign, reiterated he will cooperate with that investigation, and asked New Yorkers to wait for the full report before forming an opinion.
New York – Trump’s Tax Returns Have Been Turned Over to Manhattan District Attorney
Seattle Times – Shayna Jacobs, David Fahrenthold, Jonathan O’Connell, and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) | Published: 2/25/2021
The Manhattan district attorney’s office possesses former President Trump’s tax returns and a wealth of other financial data, records deemed central to prosecutors’ criminal investigation into Trump’s business activities. The transfer, involving millions of pages of documents spanning eight years, occurred within hours of the U.S. Supreme Court order rejecting Trump’s last-ditch bid to shield the information. Investigators are examining whether the values of certain properties in the Trump Organization’s portfolio were manipulated to gain tax advantages or favorable loans and insurance rates under false pretenses. They have asked specifically about the company’s methods of valuing its Manhattan assets for purposes of seeking loans.
North Carolina – Charlotte City Council Escapes Sanctions After Flurry of Ethics Complaints Ends Quietly
MSN – Alison Kuznitz (Charlotte Observer) | Published: 3/3/2021
Charlotte City Council members were cleared of any wrongdoing after a flurry of ethics complaints were filed against them in 2020. Although the findings clear any councilperson of direct violations of the city’s ethics guidelines, the review made several recommendations. In whole, the report appears to validate the council’s assertion that the frenzy of complaints –spurred on by an ethics policy that became “weaponized,” as council member Ed Driggs phrased it, by the public – were politically fueled and frivolous.
Oregon – A Decade After Oregon Cracked Down on Lobbyist Wining and Dining, Lawmakers Consider Loosening Limits
MSN – Hillary Borrud (Portland Oregonian) | Published: 3/2/2021
Oregon lawmakers are considering whether to allow lobbyists to “wine and dine” them without limits, more than a decade after they clamped down on the practice with a broad ethics law. The Legislature passed the bill after members were embarrassed by media reports on how beer and wine distributors paid for lawmakers to travel to Hawaii. Oregon law now bars legislators and other public officials from accepting more than $50 per year from any entity that wants to influence a government decision. Sen. Fred Girod, chief sponsor of Senate Bill 463, said scrapping the limit would help nurture the types of relationships lawmakers need in the Capitol because people are better able to connect when they are sharing a meal or drinks.
Oregon – Oregon Voters Want to Limit Money in Politics, but Lawmakers Might Not Get There This Session
MSN – Hillary Borrud (Portland Oregonian) | Published: 2/28/2021
Among the thousands of proposals Oregon lawmakers are considering this year, few have as clear-cut a mandate as capping campaign contributions. Voters overwhelmingly signaled their desire to clamp down on the state’s no-limits political money system in November, when they passed a constitutional amendment to allow donation limits. More than 1.7 million people voted for it, the most ever to support a ballot measure according to the secretary of state’s office. Yet it is far from clear that lawmakers will pass a law to cap donations during the five-month session that runs through June.
Pennsylvania – Good Government or ‘Gag’ Order? In Chesco, New Ethics Policy Muzzles County Workers
MSN – William Bender (Philadelphia Inquirer) | Published: 3/1/2021
Included in Chester County’s new ethics policy is a strict confidentiality clause for many county employees that would essentially turn almost everything learned on the job into the equivalent of classified information, a clampdown that labor-law experts say could infringe on First Amendment rights and whistleblower protections. Employees are required to sign the policy by March 6. Those who violate it can face disciplinary action, including termination. County commissioners passed the ethics policy unanimously two months after a media report, which relied partially on leaked information, revealed major problems with the county’s COVID-19 antibody testing program, contradicting county officials who had publicly insisted it ran smoothly.
South Carolina – Ex-Candidate for SC Legislature Sues Opponent, Pollster and Journalist for Defamation
The State – David Weisman (Myrtle Beach Sun News) | Published: 2/25/2021
South Carolina Sen. Luke Rankin won a contentious reelection campaign during last year’s Republican primary, but that clash has been renewed in the court system after his former opponent filed a defamation suit. John Gallman filed the complaint against Rankin and a host of other entities and people, including an Horry County Council member, local reporter, and national pollster, alleging a coordinated conspiracy to spread defamatory accusations and confidential health records, along with violating campaign finance laws.
South Carolina – Some SC Lawmakers Think It’s Time to Allow More Money in State Campaigns, Not Less
Charleston Post and Courier – Schuyler Knopf | Published: 2/27/2021
At a time when the public mood says there is too much money in politics, some South Carolina lawmakers think it is time to push the donation ceiling higher. Three House Republicans are behind an effort to double the contribution limit an individual can give to their favorite politician for any office. State Rep. B. Newton said the issue comes down to inflation and the fact that South Carolina’s legislative districts, particularly the suburbs, have seen a population explosion in recent years.
Tennessee – Tennessee Regulators Revisit Complaints About Shadowy Campaign Group
WTVF – Phil Williams | Published: 3/2/2021
Tennessee regulators decided to revisit complaints regarding shadowy campaign activities surrounding a legislative race. The Registry of Election Finance plans to reconsider its decision last year to take no action on complaints filed against state Rep. Todd Warner and a group that called itself the Faith Family Freedom Fund. That same day, the Faith Family Freedom Fund filed paperwork to close out its PAC, raising questions about whether it might be trying to sidestep further scrutiny. All of this comes as an FBI investigation focuses on a number of individuals connected with those campaigns.
Washington – Washington State Accuses Google of Campaign Finance Violations
Courthouse News Service – Karina Brown | Published: 2/24/2021
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson again sued Google, alleging it has continued to flout state campaign finance law. The law requires publishers to keep records of who bought the political ads they run, and to make that information available within 24 hours of publishing to anyone requesting it. Ferguson sued Google in 2018, claiming the company did not maintain or make available the data. Google agreed to pay $217,000 to settle those claims and announced it would no longer run ads for state or local elections in Washington. But since then, 57 candidates and political committees have filed reports detailing 188 payments totaling over $460,000 to Google’s advertising networks, according to the latest lawsuit.
Washington DC – In Faraway State Houses, a Battle Brews Over Making D.C. the 51st State
MSN – Meagan Flynn (Washington Post) | Published: 2/26/2021
Lawmakers in at least eight states have taken formal steps to support or oppose the District of Columbia becoming the 51st state, an unprecedented nationwide response to a once-fledgling movement now surging with momentum in Washington. The statehood bill sponsored by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton will be the subject of a House Oversight Committee on March 11. The bill has enough support to pass the House, but it is likely to face roadblocks in the narrowly divided Senate. In her three decades leading the cause, Norton said, she has never seen such a flurry of action from so many states at once. She was even pleased to see the anti-statehood resolutions.
March 4, 2021 •
The City Ethics Commission announced the mandatory annual adjustments to limits and thresholds in the city’s campaign finance laws. The new limits apply beginning with any city election for which the fundraising window opens after March 1, 2021. The per person […]
The City Ethics Commission announced the mandatory annual adjustments to limits and thresholds in the city’s campaign finance laws.
The new limits apply beginning with any city election for which the fundraising window opens after March 1, 2021.
The per person contribution limits for mayor, city attorney, and controller have been raised to $1,600.
The adjusted limits do not apply to elections for the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education.
March 4, 2021 •
Campaign Finance National: “Jim Jordan Under Scrutiny for Nearly $3 Million in Unreported Campaign Funds” by Roger Sollenberger (Daily Beast) for Yahoo News New Jersey: “Firm Cited in Pay-to-Play Lawsuit Quits Job with N.J. Town” by Bill Duhart (NJ Advance […]
National: “Jim Jordan Under Scrutiny for Nearly $3 Million in Unreported Campaign Funds” by Roger Sollenberger (Daily Beast) for Yahoo News
New Jersey: “Firm Cited in Pay-to-Play Lawsuit Quits Job with N.J. Town” by Bill Duhart (NJ Advance Media) for Newark Star Ledger
Tennessee: “Tennessee Regulators Revisit Complaints About Shadowy Campaign Group” by Phil Williams for WTVF
National: “Rep. Ronny Jackson Made Sexual Comments, Drank Alcohol and Took Ambien While Working as White House Physician, Pentagon Watchdog Finds” by Manu Raju, Barbara Starr, Zachary Cohen, and Oren Lieberman for CNN
National: “HR 1 Overhaul Would Set New Holiday and New Rules for Lobbyists, Elections and Justices” by Kate Ackley (Roll Call) for MSN
Florida: “Wealthy Keys Enclave Received COVID Vaccines in January Before Much of the State” by David Goodhue and Mary Ellen Klas (Miami Herald) for MSN
North Carolina: “Charlotte City Council Escapes Sanctions After Flurry of Ethics Complaints Ends Quietly” by Alison Kuznitz (Charlotte Observer) for MSN
South Carolina: “Some SC Lawmakers Think It’s Time to Allow More Money in State Campaigns, Not Less” by Schuyler Knopf for Charleston Post and Courier
New Mexico: “Lobbyists Still Picking Up the Tab” by Dan McKay (Albuquerque Journal) for Yahoo News
March 3, 2021 •
Q: The Hawaii State Ethics Commission just released updates to their administrative rules. As a registered lobbyist in the state, how do these changes affect me? A: First, the Ethics Commission’s changes clarify gift rules for registered lobbyists and their […]
Q: The Hawaii State Ethics Commission just released updates to their administrative rules. As a registered lobbyist in the state, how do these changes affect me?
A: First, the Ethics Commission’s changes clarify gift rules for registered lobbyists and their clients. “Gifts of aloha,” items with a value of less than $25, are no longer permitted. Lobbyists were previously allowed to give legislators and their staff items such as food, reusable water bottles, and other trinkets because of ambiguity in the governing statutes; however, the new rules make it clear that this practice is now prohibited. Furthermore, any gift given to a legislator’s office where a recipient is not specified will be deemed a gift to the legislator.
Other items, however, are still permitted. Lei, excluding money lei, as well as promotional pens, notebooks, hats, etc. are allowed. Travel to bona fide professional conferences, including modest food and beverage, are also still permitted. To determine if a gift is permissible, the Ethics Commission strongly encourages consultation with a member of the staff to avoid potential monetary penalties.
A few additional items of clarification simply spell out longstanding advice from the Commission. All expenditures should be reported on an accrual basis beginning January 1, 2021, and time drafting and providing testimony, as well as time spent waiting to testify, are included in determining if the registration threshold has been met. Finally, individuals engaging in “background work” at the direction of a registered lobbyist do not have to register so long as they do not communicate directly with public officials.
March 3, 2021 •
Campaign Finance Mississippi: “Bill That Would Have Required Gov. Reeves to Reveal Inauguration Funding Dies in Senate” by Luke Ramseth for Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal Elections National: “Supreme Court Appears to Favor Upholding Voting Laws Lower Court Found Unfair to […]
Mississippi: “Bill That Would Have Required Gov. Reeves to Reveal Inauguration Funding Dies in Senate” by Luke Ramseth for Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal
National: “Supreme Court Appears to Favor Upholding Voting Laws Lower Court Found Unfair to Minorities” by Robert Barnes (Washington Post) for Anchorage Daily News
National: “Ethics Watchdog: ‘Substantial’ evidence GOP lawmaker improperly spent funds, misused position to help brother” by Cristina Marcos for The Hill
National: “Biden Won’t Release White House Virtual Visitor Logs” by Anita Kumar for Politico
Connecticut: “Ex-State Employee Faces $5K Penalty for Using Work Computer, Email for Private Businesses” by Russell Blair (Hartford Courant) for MSN
Florida: “Legislating in the Time of COVID-19 Means Putting Protections Over Public Access” by Mary Ellen Klas and Kirby Wilson (Miami Herald) for Yahoo News
Colorado: “Aurora Moves Forward Bills on Lobbying Disclosures, Sales Tax Exemptions on Menstrual Products” by Grant Stringer for Aurora Sentinel
Oregon: “A Decade After Oregon Cracked Down on Lobbyist Wining and Dining, Lawmakers Consider Loosening Limits” by Hillary Borrud (Portland Oregonian) for MSN
California: “5 Charged in SF Corruption Probe, Temporarily Barred from Receiving City Contracts” by Staff for KPIX
March 2, 2021 •
The Colorado Secretary of State temporarily adopted lobbyist rules 8 C.C.R. 1505-8 on March 1, defining and establishing new requirements for redistricting commission lobbyists. The new rules define redistricting commission lobbyist as a person who is contracted or compensated to […]
The Colorado Secretary of State temporarily adopted lobbyist rules 8 C.C.R. 1505-8 on March 1, defining and establishing new requirements for redistricting commission lobbyists.
The new rules define redistricting commission lobbyist as a person who is contracted or compensated to communicate directly or indirectly with a member of a redistricting commission for the purposes of aiding or influencing such redistricting commission or their staff. Additionally, the rules require those who are registered as professional lobbyists to electronically register as a redistricting commission lobbyist and disclose all clients that contract with or compensate them.
The secretary of state also issued a notice of rulemaking to consider permanent adoption of the temporary rules.
The virtual public rulemaking hearing is scheduled for April 19 at 3 p.m.
March 1, 2021 •
On February 25, a bill was introduced in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to increase the province’s contribution limits and make other changes to its election laws. Bill 254, Protecting Ontario Elections Act, 2021, as introduced by Attorney General Doug […]
On February 25, a bill was introduced in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to increase the province’s contribution limits and make other changes to its election laws.
Bill 254, Protecting Ontario Elections Act, 2021, as introduced by Attorney General Doug Downey, proposes to amend the Election Act, the Election Finances Act, the Members’ Integrity Act, 1994, and the Municipal Elections Act, 1996.
Some of the changes in the bill include increasing contribution limits made to individual registered parties, party and non-party candidates, leadership candidates, constituency associations and nomination contestants of any one party or to the constituency association of any independent member. That amount increases from $1,650 to $3,300 per calendar year, with an increase of $25 for each calendar beginning on January 1, 2022.
Additionally, when selling a ticket for a fund-raising event, all, or any portion of its cost up to a maximum of $30, may be considered not to be a political contribution.
The time period on limiting third party advertisers’ spending would increase from six months to 12 months before an election. The proposed legislation also includes penalties for violations, allows members of the Assembly to endorse constituency associations, establishes the allowance of certain candidate electronic filings for municipalities, directs the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) to establish an advisory committee on voting equipment and vote counting equipment, and expands powers of the CEO with respect to designating advance polls.
The bill also allows members of the Assembly to explicitly use social media for any matters a member wishes to bring to the attention of the public, including partisan matters.
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