August 26, 2022 •
National/Federal An Unusual $1.6 Billion Donation Bolsters Conservatives Seattle Times – Kenneth Vogel and Shane Goldmacher (New York Times) | Published: 8/22/2022 A new conservative group received $1.6 billion from one donor, which among the largest – if not the largest […]
An Unusual $1.6 Billion Donation Bolsters Conservatives
Seattle Times – Kenneth Vogel and Shane Goldmacher (New York Times) | Published: 8/22/2022
A new conservative group received $1.6 billion from one donor, which among the largest – if not the largest – single contributions ever made to a politically focused nonprofit. The source of the money was Barre Seid, an electronics manufacturing mogul. The beneficiary is a nonprofit controlled by Leonard Leo, an activist who has used his connections to Republican donors and politicians to help engineer the conservative dominance of the Supreme Court and to finance battles over abortion rights, voting rules, and climate change policy.
Ex-Interior Secretary Zinke Lied to Investigators in Casino Case, Watchdog Finds
MSN – Lisa Rein and Anna Phillips (Washington Post) | Published: 8/24/2022
Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, the leading contender to win a new U.S. House seat representing Montana this fall, lied to investigators several times about conversations he had with federal officials, lawmakers, and lobbyists about a petition by two Indian tribes to operate a casino in New England, the department’s watchdog said. Investigators concluded that when questioned about his talks with Interior attorneys and others outside the department, Zinke and his then-chief of staff failed to comply with their “duty of candor” as public officials to tell the truth, the report said.
Federal Campaign Spending on Childcare Expenses Grows in 2022 Midterms
OpenSecrets – Taylor Giorno | Published: 8/17/2022
Federal candidates are on track to spend more money on childcare ahead of 2022 midterms than in either of the previous two election cycles. For the first time since the FEC approved the expense in 2018, men are driving the increase in childcare expenditures. U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell’s campaign spent more money on childcare than any other male federal candidate this election cycle as of June 30. A record number of mothers were sworn into Congress in 2019. But an analysis shows fewer women are using federal funds to cover childcare expenses this election cycle.
Files Copied from Voting Systems Were Shared with Trump Supporters, Election Deniers
MSN – Jon Swaine, Aaron Davis, Amy Gardner, and Emma Brown (Washington Post) | Published: 8/22/2022
Sensitive election system files obtained by attorneys working to overturn former President Trump’s 2020 defeat were shared with election deniers, conspiracy theorists, and right-wing commentators. A computer forensics firm hired by the attorneys placed the files on a server, where company records show they were downloaded dozens of times. The records include contracts between the firm and the Trump-allied attorneys, notably Sidney Powell. The data files are described as copies of components from election systems in Coffee County, Georgia, and Antrim County, Michigan.
‘It’s a Rip-Off’: GOP spending under fire as Senate hopefuls seek rescue
MSN – Isaac Arnsdorf (Washington Post) | Published: 8/19/2022
Republican U.S. Senate hopefuls are getting crushed on airwaves across the country while their national campaign fund is pulling ads and running low on cash, leading some campaign advisers to demand an audit of the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s (NRSC) finances. The NRSC canceled bookings worth about $10 million. A spokesperson said the NRSC is not abandoning those races but prioritizing ad spots that are shared with campaigns and benefit from discounted rates. Still, the cancellations forfeit cheaper prices that came from booking early, and better budgeting could have covered both.
Justice Dept. Memo to Not Charge Trump in Russia Probe Released
MSN – Devlin Barrett and Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) | Published: 8/24/2022
The Justice Department released the entire text of a secret 2019 memo that laid out the legal rationale for not charging then-President Trump with committing obstruction of justice in the investigation into whether Russia interfered in the 2016 election. The memo says no potential instances of obstruction of justice by Trump that were cited by special counsel Robert Mueller III’s “would warrant a prosecution for obstruction of justice,” regardless of whether the person being investigated was a sitting president.
New Claims Against Ex-Miami Congressman Hired by Venezuela
Yahoo News – Joshua Goodman (Associated Press) | Published: 8/20/2022
Former U.S. Rep. David Rivera, who signed a $50 million consulting contract with Venezuela’s socialist government, not only did no apparent work, but also channeled a large chunk of the money to a yacht company on behalf of a fugitive billionaire, according to new allegations in a civil suit. Rivera’s Interamerican Consulting was sued by PDV USA, a Delaware-based affiliate of Venezuelan-owned Citgo. It alleges Rivera performed no work for the $50 million contract he signed in 2017 for three months of “strategic consulting” meant to build bridges with key U.S. stakeholders.
Rep. Cawthorn Tells Feds He Forgot About $236K; Sends Amended Campaign Finance Report
Yahoo News – Joe Burgess (Asheville Citizen-Times) | Published: 8/22/2022
Days after filing a mandatory federal campaign finance document whose month-late arrival could garner him more than $17,000 in fines, U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn has filed another document saying he got the first report wrong. That is because he forgot about the $235,566 that he personally gave the campaign, the latest report says. While amendments such as the one Cawthorn filed are not uncommon, ones that show large changes can trigger FEC action, said FEC spokesperson Mills Martin. “What is part of the amendment that might be looked at by the FEC are what the changes are and what the additional amounts are,” Martin said.
Republicans Turn Against League of Women Voters
ProPublica – Megan O’Matz | Published: 8/18/2022
The League of Women Voters, known for focusing on voter registration, hosting debates, and conducting candidate surveys, has been more visible recently in advocating for issues like racial equity and abortion rights. As a result, the league is drawing criticism in ways that are extraordinary for the once-staid group. Republicans are pushing back, casting it as a collection of angry leftists. With more right-leaning candidates snubbing the league, voters are less likely to hear directly from those candidates in unscripted forums. That pushback sidelines the league at a time when misinformation has become a significant force in elections at every level.
Some Companies’ Political Spending Fuel Voter Suppression. Shareholders are Pushing Back
Fast Company – Kathryn Kranhold (Capital & Main) | Published: 8/25/2022
Shareholders are pressuring some of the largest American corporations to account for political spending that may be aiding voter suppression or election interference. In the past, shareholder activism has focused mostly on corporate-responsibility causes, such as environmental issues and pay equity between men and women as well as governance like executive pay. The newest movement, addressing threats to democracy, is gaining traction.
Trump Had More Than 300 Classified Documents at Mar-a-Lago
Yahoo News – Maggie Haberman, Jodi Kantor, Adam Goldman, and Ben Protess (New York Times) | Published: 8/22/2022
The initial batch of documents retrieved by the National Archives from former President Trump in January included more than 150 marked as classified, a number that ignited concern at the Justice Department and helped trigger the investigation that led FBI agents to search Mar-a-Lago seeking to recover more, people briefed on the matter said. In total, the government has recovered more than 300 documents with classified markings from Trump since he left office. The volume of the sensitive material found in Trump’s possession helps explain why the Justice Department moved so urgently to hunt down any further classified materials he might have.
Trump Kept More Than 700 Pages of Classified Documents, Letter from National Archives Says
Minneapolis Star Tribune – Alan Feuer (New York Times) | Published: 8/23/2022
Donald Trump took more than 700 pages of classified documents, including some related to the nation’s most covert intelligence operations, to his private club and residence in Florida when he left the White House, according to a letter the National Archives sent to his lawyers. The letter described the alarm in the Justice Department as officials realized how serious the documents were. It also suggested top prosecutors and members of the intelligence community were delayed in conducting a damage assessment about the documents’ removal as Trump’s lawyers tried to argue some of them might have been protected by executive privilege.
White Coats in the State Capital: OB-GYNs become political force in abortion wars
Yahoo News – Alice Miranda Ollstein and Megan Messerly (Politico) | Published: 8/22/2022
Physicians, many of whom have never mobilized politically, are banding together in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, lobbying state lawmakers, testifying before committees, forming PACs, and launching online campaigns against proposed abortion restrictions. Lawmakers who are physicians are using their medical backgrounds to persuade colleagues to scale back some of the more restrictive and punitive portions of anti-abortion laws being considered. The new groups’ early successes in some of the nation’s most conservative states signal the power they hope to wield in the coming months as well as in years to come.
Canada – Ethics Investigation Flags Problem with Transparency in Alberta’s Lobbyist Act
MSN – Hamdi Issawi (Edmonton Journal) | Published: 8/22/2022
One of Alberta’s rules for registering lobbyists needs to change “to promote public transparency” according to a recent investigation by the province’s office of the ethics commissioner. The office began an investigation in May to determine whether Mark Kuspira, the owner of a business known as Crush Imports, had breached the Lobbyists Act – specifically whether he failed to appropriately file a return with the lobbyist registry, and whether he had been lobbying without a filed return.
From the States and Municipalities
Alaska – Ranked Choice Voting, in First Test in Alaska, Is Already Under Attack
Yahoo News – Nathaniel Herz (Anchorage Daily News) | Published: 8/17/2022
Alaskans went to the polls on August 16 for the first time using a new ranked choice system that is already under attack by a number of the politicians competing within it, and voters, in interviews, offered wide-ranging reviews. Many said they like the new system and called it intuitive. But there was also anger from voters across the political spectrum, even though much of the criticism of ranked choice has so far come from conservatives who assert it was set up to protect incumbent U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski from right-wing challengers.
Arizona – Court Battles Rage Over 3 Arizona Voter Initiatives
MSN – Bob Christie (Associated Press) | Published: 8/15/2022
Proponents of three voter initiatives who each turned in hundreds of thousands of signatures to qualify them for the November ballot are trying to beat back legal challenges that could prevent them from going before voters. Two of the measures – one requiring disclosure of who is funding political campaigns and another rolling back or blocking efforts by Republicans to tighten voting rules – are being challenged by pro-business groups. They alleged paid petition circulators made errors or omitted required information on their registrations with the secretary of state or petitions.
Arkansas – Court Tosses Arkansas Law Limiting Election Helpers
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette – Doug Thompson | Published: 8/23/2022
A 2009 Arkansas law forbidding one person from acting as translator for more than six voters in casting their ballots violates the federal Voting Rights Act, U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Brooks ruled. A provision of the 1965 law allows voters who require assistance because of an inability to read or write to get assistance from a person of the voter’s choice, Brooks said. His order told state and county election officials to cease trying to enforce the six-person limit and strike all mention of it from election materials.
Arkansas – Settlement Requires Arkansas Senator to Unblock Critics
MSN – Andrew DeMillo (Associated Press) | Published: 8/17/2022
Arkansas Sen. Jason Rapert will be required to unblock critics from his social media accounts under a settlement a national atheists’ group. Rapert is required to remove any restrictions on his social media accounts and will have to pay more than $16,000 to American Atheists for costs related to a lawsuit. Rapert said he is the founder and president of the National Association of Christian Lawmakers, which works to “restore the Judeo-Christian foundations of our government.”
California – California Targets Local Recall Election ‘Hyperpartisanship’
MSN – Don Thompson (Associated Press) | Published: 8/23/2022
Democratic lawmakers moved to limit the “hyperpartisanship” they said has increasingly corrupted California’s local recall elections, over the objection of Republicans who said it could boost costs and thwart voters’ will. Currently, voters generally decide whether to recall a sitting official and choose that official’s replacement at the same time and on the same ballot. But that could result in a replacement taking office with a minority of votes in a multi-candidate field, and with potentially fewer votes than the official who is ousted.
California – Judge Issues Order That Keeps Herb Wesson Off the L.A. City Council
MSN – David Zahniser (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 8/23/2022
A judge barred former Los Angeles City Councilperson Herb Wesson from returning to City Hall as a temporary fill-in for council member Mark Ridley-Thomas for at least two months, leaving his district without a voting representative. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California has argued Wesson is barred under the city’s term limit law from returning to the council while Ridley-Thomas fights corruption charges. Wesson served more than three terms, the maximum allowed, before being appointed to the temporary post earlier this year.
California – This Former L.A. Politician Took Cash in Envelopes. Now He’s Been Fined $79,830
MSN – David Zahniser (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 8/17/2022
Five years ago, Los Angeles City Councilperson Mitchell Englander took a fateful trip to Las Vegas with a clutch of businesspeople and city staffers, accepting a free hotel room, expensive liquor, and an envelope containing $10,000, among other things. That trip eventually led to a 14-month prison sentence for Englander. The city Ethics Commission voted recently to levy a $79,830 penalty against him for violating gift laws. Commission investigators concluded Englander far exceeded the city’s limits on gifts to public officials, failed to fully report those gifts, and misused his position as a council member.
Florida – DeSantis’s New Election Crimes Unit Makes Its First Arrests
MSN – Lori Rozsa and Tim Craig (Washington Post) | Published: 8/18/2022
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the first arrests made by the state’s new elections police force – twenty people previously incarcerated for murder or sexual assault who he said had illegally voted in the 2020 election. The Florida Legislature passed a bill creating the Office of Election Crimes and Security earlier this year at DeSantis’s behest. While the 2020 election went smoothly in Florida – DeSantis called it the “gold standard” for elections – the governor has said there are still issues and conservative lawmakers have sought to further tighten voting regulations.
Florida – Judge Blocks Florida’s ‘Stop Woke Act’ Restrictions for Private Companies
MSN – Tim Craig (Washington Post) | Published: 8/18/2022
A federal judge ruled that a Florida law restricting workplace bias or diversity training violates the First Amendment and cannot be enforced. U.S. District Court Judge Mark Walker said Florida has turned “the First Amendment upside down” by trying to regulate how employers train employees on topics such as racial inclusion and gender equity. The “Stop Woke Act” prohibits trainings in public schools, colleges and universities, and workplaces that may cause someone to feel guilty or ashamed about the past collective actions of their race or sex. A violation of the act is an offense under state anti-discrimination laws.
Georgia – Georgia PSC Elections Again Delayed After High Court Ruling
MSN – Jeff Amy (Associated Press) | Published: 8/19/2022
Two Georgia Public Service Commission elections will not occur this November, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, reversing an earlier appeals court ruling that allowed them to proceed. Instead, the justices reverted to the original decision by a federal judge in Atlanta that postponed the vote after finding that electing the five commissioners statewide illegally diluted Black votes. The Supreme Court ruled U.S. District Court Judge Steven Grimberg’s decision did not come too close to the election.
Georgia – Sen. Graham Gets Temporary Reprieve in Testifying Before Ga. Grand Jury
MSN – Amy Wang and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) | Published: 8/21/2022
A federal appeals court has temporarily paused an order that would have required U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham to testify before a Georgia grand jury investigating Republican efforts to reverse the 2020 presidential election results in the state. The legal maneuvering is the latest sign of tension between prosecutors and high-profile witnesses in the Fulton County district attorney’s expansive criminal probe of alleged election interference by former President Trump and his allies. After seeking repeated delays, Rudy Giuliani testified for six hours recently.
Michigan – Jury Convicts Adam Fox, Barry Croft Jr. in Whitmer Kidnapping Plot
MSN – Tresa Baldas (Detroit Free Press) | Published: 8/23/2022
In a do-over for the government, a federal jury convicted two men charged with plotting to kidnap and kill Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer out of anger over her handling of the pandemic, ending a trial that highlighted the growth of violent extremism in America. Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr. were convicted on all counts and face up to life in prison. The men were judged by a second, more diverse jury than in the first trial, which ended with no convictions for the government. Two men were acquitted in that trial and the jury deadlocked on charges against Fox and Croft Jr., triggering a mistrial that prompted the government to try again.
Missouri – Ex-St. Louis Alderman John Collins-Muhammad Admits Federal Corruption Charges
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Joel Currier | Published: 8/23/2022
Former St. Louis Alderman John Collins-Muhammad pleaded guilty in a federal bribery case against him and two other ex-city officials. He admitted to theft or bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds, racketeering, and wire fraud. Collins-Muhammad is the first of three ex-council members to plead guilty after being indicted on charges of accepting cash bribes from a local businessperson in exchange for tax breaks. He admitted accepting $7,000 in cash, $3,000 in campaign donations, a new iPhone 11, and a 2016 Volkswagen CC sedan in exchange for his help.
New Jersey – Car Insurance Bills Shine Spotlight on Lawmaker Ethics
New Jersey Monitor – Sophie Nieto-Munoz | Published: 8/23/2022
In New Jersey’s part-time Legislature, lawmakers are often involved in legislation related directly to their full-time careers. Often these votes generate little controversy, especially if the bills pass with wide support. While watchdogs might voice concerns about conflicts-of-interest, lawmakers say their day jobs offer an insider’s knowledge that helps them better shape potential policy. But sometimes public policy can lead to financial windfalls. That is why questions are swirling about whether two top lawmakers will financially benefit from a package of bills Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law recently.
New York – Lobbyists Navigate a More Civil Yet Nuanced Landscape in Albany
City & State – Tim Murphy | Published: 8/22/2022
For a decade, and until only about a year ago, lobbyists, advocates, consultants, and others seeking to influence Albany all feared one thing: the wrath of then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his close advisors. Dealing with Cuomo’s inner circle was never pleasant, according to lobbyists, but cross them and they would lash out. In the past year with Gov. Kathy Hochul, they said that has changed.
North Carolina – N.C. Attorney General Can’t Be Charged with Crime Over Campaign Ad – Yet
MSN – Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) | Published: 8/24/2022
An appeals court temporarily blocked an investigation into North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein over a negative campaign ad, saying the state law he is accused of violating is probably unconstitutional. The debate turns on a 1931 law that criminalized the publication of a “derogatory” campaign ad, “knowing such report to be false or in reckless disregard of its truth or falsity.” A grand jury is investigating whether Stein lied during his successful 2020 reelection campaign in an ad blaming his Republican rival for a backlog of untested rape kits. Even if the ad was false, Stein argued, it would be protected under current First Amendment doctrine.
Ohio – Cleveland Businessman Tony George Was Go-Between for FirstEnergy, Ex-House Speaker Larry Householder Over Nuclear Bailout
MSN – Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 8/22/2022
New documents reveal a close relationship between Cleveland restaurateur Tony George and FirstEnergy in the House Bill 6 bribery scheme, with George acting as an intermediary between top company officials and now-indicted former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder. Tracy Aston, FirstEnergy’s assistant controller, identified George as “Individual B” in the utility’s deferred prosecution agreement with federal authorities. The agreement says “Individual B” was in communication with now-fired FirstEnergy Chief Executive Officer Chuck Jones about an early effort to bail out two nuclear power plants, as well as an aborted effort by Householder to skirt state term limits.
Ohio – The Hidden Role of a Religious Lobbying Group in Ohio’s Education ‘Backpack Bill’
Ohio Capital Journal – Zurie Pope | Published: 8/24/2022
An Ohio bill that would send public education money to private schools if a student chooses to attend one was written with help from religious lobbying group the Center for Christian Virtue (CCV) and a think tank that promotes charter schools. Documents reveal CCV’s involvement in House Bill has been more extensive than previously known and included the advice and promotion of outside groups like Heritage Action and the American Legislative Exchange Council.
Pennsylvania – Philly’s Board of Ethics Will Consider Banning Super PAC ‘Redboxing’ Ahead of the 2023 Mayoral Race
Philadelphia Inquirer – Sean Collins Walsh | Published: 8/17/2022
The Philadelphia Board of Ethics heard testimony on whether it should tighten rules aimed at preventing campaigns from indirectly communicating with political groups that can raise and spend money in unlimited amounts but are prohibited from coordinating with candidates. A proposed amendment that aims to crack down on a new strategy known as “redboxing” that some candidates for federal office have used to give instructions to supportive outside spending groups without communicating with them directly. But election lawyers say the wording of the amendment is too broad and could unintentionally capture normal campaign messaging.
South Dakota – SD Gov. Kristi Noem May Have ‘Engaged in Misconduct,’ Ethics Board Says
NBC News – Associated Press | Published: 8/23/2022
The South Dakota Government Accountability Board said it found sufficient information that Gov. Kristi Noem may have “engaged in misconduct” when she intervened in her daughter’s application for a real estate appraiser’s license, and it referred a separate complaint over her airplane use to the state attorney general for investigation. She is under scrutiny from the board after Jason Ravnsborg, the former attorney general, filed complaints that stemmed from media reports on Noem’s actions in office. The governor has denied any wrongdoing.
Tennessee – Former Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada, Cade Cothren Plead Not Guilty to Federal Corruption Charges
MSN – Melissa Brown and Adam Friedman (Tennessean) | Published: 8/23/2022
Former Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada and his onetime chief of staff, Cade Cothren, were arrested on federal corruption charges including bribery, kickbacks, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Prosecutors allege the pair ran a shadowy political consulting firm fronted by Cothren to solicit General Assembly business and siphon off kickbacks. Casada is the first current or former House speaker to be indicted in state history. He resigned as speaker amid a texting scandal over sexually explicit and racist conversations with Cothren.
Texas – Election Staff Abruptly Quits, Upending Rural Texas County
MSN – Paul Weber (Associated Press) | Published: 8/22/2022
Part of why Terry Hamilton says he abruptly left his job running elections in Gillespie County, Texas, is by now a familiar story in America – he became fed up with the harassment that followed the 2020 election. But this was no ordinary exit. On the brink of November’s midterm elections, it was not just Hamilton who quit but also the only other full-time election worker. The sudden emptying of an entire local elections department came less than 70 days before voters start casting ballots.
Texas – One Former and One Current State Rep Are Set to Get Part of Lucrative Houston Airport Contracts
AviationPros – Dylan McGuinness (Houston Chronicle) | Published: 8/18/2022
The Houston City Council passed a lucrative contract granting food and beverage shops inside Bush Intercontinental Airport to a partnership that includes a former legislative colleague and longtime friend of Mayor Sylvester Turner. The city said it will publicly announce the vendors after the second contract passes City Council. An affiliate of SSP Group is leading the food and beverage contract. Multiplex Inc., the concessions company founded by former state Rep. Helen Giddings of Dallas, is a junior partner in that deal. The SSP deal also involves Karen Garcia, the wife of Roland Garcia, who chaired the city’s Hispanic Advisory Council for Turner.
Texas – Texas Bans Local, State Government Entities from Doing Business with Firms That ‘Boycott’ Fossil Fuels
Texas Tribune – Mitchell Ferman | Published: 8/24/2022
Texas banned 10 financial firms from doing business with the state after Comptroller Glenn Hegar said they did not support the oil and gas industry. Hegar sent inquiries to hundreds of financial companies earlier this year requesting information about whether they were avoiding investments in the oil and gas industry in favor of renewable energy companies. The survey was a result of a new law that went into effect in September and prohibits most state agencies, as well as local governments, from contracting with firms that have cut ties with carbon-emitting energy companies.
Washington – ‘Gold Standard’ or Unconstitutional? Facebook and Wash. State AG Spar Over Political Ad Disclosure Law
MSN – Todd Bishop (GeekWire) | Published: 8/16/2022
Facebook parent company Meta and Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson agree on this: the state’s campaign advertising disclosure law is exceptional. But is that good or bad – and more importantly, is the law constitutional? That is a matter of significant disagreement as both sides prepare for a key hearing in King County Superior Court in Seattle. It promises to be a pivotal moment in a long-running dispute over the state’s public disclosure requirements for tech platforms that run campaign ads.
Wyoming – Secretary of State Halts Unusual Effort to Put Candidate on Ballot Against Gray
Casper Star-Tribune – Victoria Eavis | Published: 8/23/2022
The Wyoming secretary of state’s office quashed an effort to put an independent challenger on the ballot to run against state Rep. Chuck Gray, the Republican secretary of state nominee. After Sen. Cale Case challenged the secretary of state’s interpretation of a statute that requires all independent candidates to sign off on their own candidacy, the chief elections office ruled against him. Case was attempting to get former legislator Nathan Winters on the ballot as an independent, despite the fact that Winters does not want to run.
August 25, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “Federal Campaign Spending on Childcare Expenses Grows in 2022 Midterms” by Taylor Giorno for OpenSecrets Elections Arkansas: “Court Tosses Arkansas Law Limiting Election Helpers” by Doug Thompson for Arkansas Democrat-Gazette California: “California Targets Local Recall Election ‘Hyperpartisanship’” […]
National: “Federal Campaign Spending on Childcare Expenses Grows in 2022 Midterms” by Taylor Giorno for OpenSecrets
Arkansas: “Court Tosses Arkansas Law Limiting Election Helpers” by Doug Thompson for Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
California: “California Targets Local Recall Election ‘Hyperpartisanship’” by Don Thompson (Associated Press) for MSN
North Carolina: “N.C. Attorney General Can’t Be Charged with Crime Over Campaign Ad – Yet” by Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Trump Kept More Than 700 Pages of Classified Documents, Letter from National Archives Says” by Alan Feuer (New York Times) for Minneapolis Star Tribune
Missouri: “Ex-St. Louis Alderman John Collins-Muhammad Admits Federal Corruption Charges” by Joel Currier for St. Louis Post-Dispatch
New Jersey: “Car Insurance Bills Shine Spotlight on Lawmaker Ethics” by Sophie Nieto-Munoz for New Jersey Monitor
National: “Republicans Turn Against League of Women Voters” by Megan O’Matz for ProPublica
Ohio: “The Hidden Role of a Religious Lobbying Group in Ohio’s Education ‘Backpack Bill’” by Zurie Pope for Ohio Capital Journal
August 24, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “‘It’s a Rip-Off’: GOP spending under fire as Senate hopefuls seek rescue” by Isaac Arnsdorf (Washington Post) for MSN Elections National: “Files Copied from Voting Systems Were Shared with Trump Supporters, Election Deniers” by Jon Swaine, Aaron […]
National: “‘It’s a Rip-Off’: GOP spending under fire as Senate hopefuls seek rescue” by Isaac Arnsdorf (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Files Copied from Voting Systems Were Shared with Trump Supporters, Election Deniers” by Jon Swaine, Aaron Davis, Amy Gardner, and Emma Brown (Washington Post) for MSN
Texas: “Election Staff Abruptly Quits, Upending Rural Texas County” by Paul Weber (Associated Press) for MSN
National: “Trump Had More Than 300 Classified Documents at Mar-a-Lago” by Maggie Haberman, Jodi Kantor, Adam Goldman, and Ben Protess (New York Times) for Yahoo News
Michigan: “Jury Convicts Adam Fox, Barry Croft Jr. in Whitmer Kidnapping Plot” by Tresa Baldas (Detroit Free Press) for MSN
Ohio: “Cleveland Businessman Tony George Was Go-Between for FirstEnergy, Ex-House Speaker Larry Householder Over Nuclear Bailout” by Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) for MSN
South Dakota: “SD Gov. Kristi Noem May Have ‘Engaged in Misconduct,’ Ethics Board Says” by Associated Press for NBC News
Tennessee: “Former Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada, Cade Cothren Plead Not Guilty to Federal Corruption Charges” by Melissa Brown and Adam Friedman (Tennessean) for MSN
California: “Judge Issues Order That Keeps Herb Wesson Off the L.A. City Council” by David Zahniser (Los Angeles Times) for MSN
Canada: “Ethics Investigation Flags Problem with Transparency in Alberta’s Lobbyist Act” by Hamdi Issawi (Edmonton Journal) for MSN
August 23, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “Massive Dark Money Windfall: New conservative group got $1.6 billion from single donor” by Casey Tolan, Curt Devine, and Drew Griffin for CNN Tennessee: “State Asks Court to Find Cothren in Contempt, Order Him to Respond to […]
National: “Massive Dark Money Windfall: New conservative group got $1.6 billion from single donor” by Casey Tolan, Curt Devine, and Drew Griffin for CNN
Tennessee: “State Asks Court to Find Cothren in Contempt, Order Him to Respond to Subpoenas” by Sam Stockard for Tennessee Lookout
Arizona: “Court Battles Rage Over 3 Arizona Voter Initiatives” by Bob Christie (Associated Press) for MSN
Florida: “DeSantis’s New Election Crimes Unit Makes Its First Arrests” by Lori Rozsa and Tim Craig (Washington Post) for MSN
Georgia: “Sen. Graham Gets Temporary Reprieve in Testifying Before Ga. Grand Jury” by Amy Wang and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Appeals Court Backs Ruling to Release DOJ Memo on Trump Prosecution” by Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney (Politico) for Yahoo News
National: “White Coats in the State Capital: OB-GYNs become political force in abortion wars” by Alice Miranda Ollstein and Megan Messerly (Politico) for Yahoo News
New York: “Lobbyists Navigate a More Civil Yet Nuanced Landscape in Albany” by Tim Murphy for City & State
August 19, 2022 •
National/Federal FBI Arrests Ex-Congressman on Charges of Fraud and Money Laundering MSN – Praveena Somasundaram (Washington Post) | Published: 8/16/2022 Former U.S. Rep. TJ Cox was indicted on 28 charges, including 15 counts of wire fraud and one count of campaign […]
FBI Arrests Ex-Congressman on Charges of Fraud and Money Laundering
MSN – Praveena Somasundaram (Washington Post) | Published: 8/16/2022
Former U.S. Rep. TJ Cox was indicted on 28 charges, including 15 counts of wire fraud and one count of campaign contribution fraud. The indictment says Cox schemed to fund and reimburse people close to him for donations to his campaign. Federal laws do not allow “conduit” or “straw” donations, in which someone makes a political contribution through someone else to their own campaign.
Federal Judiciary Can’t Stop Support Staff from Political Activity
MSN – Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) | Published: 8/18/2022
In March 2018, while weighing candidates for governor in Maryland, Lisa Guffey wanted to attend an event featuring Democrat Ben Jealous. She was told she could not. Her employer, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, had two days earlier imposed new rules barring all employees from expressing political views, attending political events, or engaging in political activity. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has now deemed those restrictions unconstitutional.
Homeland Security Watchdog Cuffari Faces Rebukes from Lawmakers in Missing Texts Case
MSN – Maria Sacchetti (Washington Post) | Published: 8/16/2022
The Department of Homeland Security’s chief watchdog rejected calls from leading Democratic legislators to recuse himself from the investigation into the erasure of text messages that Secret Service agents exchanged during the attack on the Capitol, drawing fresh rebukes from lawmakers. Inspector General Joseph Cuffari said in a letter that he would not share investigative documents or allow his top lieutenants to sit for transcribed interviews before House committees investigating the attack, nor would he provide documents that lawmakers requested.
Jan. 6 Grand Jury Has Subpoenaed White House Documents
Seattle Times – Alan Feuer, Luke Broadwater, and Maggie Haberman (New York Times) | Published: 8/17/2022
Federal prosecutors investigating the role that former President Trump and his allies played in the events leading up to the attack on the U.S. Capitol issued a grand jury subpoena to the National Archives for all the documents the agency provided to a parallel House select committee inquiry. The subpoena, issued to the National Archives in May, made a sweeping demand for “all materials, in whatever form” the archives had given to the January 6 House committee. Those materials included records from the files of Trump’s top aides, his daily schedule, and phone logs and a draft text of the president’s speech that preceded the riot.
Justice Department Opposes Release of Mar-a-Lago Affidavit
MSN – Perry Stein (Washington Post) | Published: 8/15/2022
The Justice Department asked a judge to keep sealed the affidavit underpinning the FBI’s search of former President Trump’s Florida residence, a document thought to hold key details about the government’s investigation into the potential mishandling of classified materials. The court filing was made in response to requests from multiple media outlets seeking the affidavit’s public release. Affidavits typically contain information addressing why authorities think there is evidence at a certain property and other details about a probe. The Justice Department argued that releasing the affidavit could hamper its investigation and potentially harm those involved.
Justice Department Subpoenas Trump White House Lawyer Eric Herschmann
MSN – Betsy Woodruff Swan (Politico) | Published: 8/15/2022
A federal grand jury investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol subpoenaed Trump White House lawyer Eric Herschmann for documents and testimony. Herschmann represented Donald Trump in the former president’s first impeachment trial and later joined the White House as a senior adviser. He did not work in the White House counsel’s office but did provide Trump with legal advice. Because of that responsibility, there will likely be litigation over the scope of the subpoena and over how executive and attorney-client privileges may limit Herschmann’s ability to comply.
Liz Cheney Loses Primary While Vowing Effort to Keep Trump from White House
MSN – Paul Kane and Hannah Knowles (Washington Post) | Published: 8/16/2022
Rep. Liz Cheney, the once-high-ranking Republican who defied her party to wage a lonely crusade against former President Trump, lost her primary by a wide margin while vowing she would do everything in her power to keep Trump from returning to the White House. Harriet Hageman, a lawyer with Trump’s endorsement, ousted Cheney, clinching the GOP nomination for Wyoming’s only U.S. House seat.
On TikTok, Election Misinformation Thrives Ahead of Midterms
Seattle Times – Tiffany Hsu (New York Times) | Published: 8/14/2022
Ahead of the midterm elections this fall, TikTok is shaping up to be a primary incubator of baseless and misleading information, in many ways as problematic as Facebook and Twitter, say researchers who track online falsehoods. The same qualities that allow TikTok to fuel viral dance fads – the platform’s enormous reach, the short length of its videos, its powerful but poorly understood recommendation algorithm – can also make inaccurate claims difficult to contain. Baseless conspiracy theories about certain voter fraud in November are widely viewed on TikTok, which globally has more than a billion active users each month.
Sinema Took Wall Street Money While Killing Tax on Investors
MSN – Brian Slodysko (Associated Press) | Published: 8/14/2022
U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who single-handedly thwarted her party’s longtime goal of raising taxes on wealthy investors, received nearly $1 million over the last year from private equity professionals, hedge fund managers, and venture capitalists whose taxes would have increased under the plan. For years, Democrats have promised to raise taxes on such investors, who pay a significantly lower rate on their earnings than ordinary workers. But Sinema forced a series of changes to the $740-billion election-year spending package.
Trump-Allied Lawyers Pursued Voting Machine Data in Multiple States, Records Reveal
Anchorage Daily News – Emma Brown, Jon Swaine, Aaron Davis, and Amy Gardner (Washington Post) | Published: 8/15/2022
A team of computer experts directed by lawyers allied with former President Trump copied sensitive data from election systems in Georgia as part of a secretive, multistate effort to access voting equipment that was broader, more organized, and more successful than previously reported. As they worked to overturn Trump’s 2020 election defeat, the lawyers asked a forensic data firm to access county election systems in at least three battleground states. There is growing concern among experts that officials sympathetic to Trump’s claims of vote-rigging could undermine election security in the name of protecting it.
Trump’s Angry Words Spur Warnings of Real Violence
MSN – David Klepper (Associated Press) | Published: 8/16/2022
A growing number of ardent Donald Trump supporters seem ready to strike back against the FBI or others who they believe go too far in investigating the former president. Law enforcement officials across the country are warning and being warned about an increase in threats and the potential for violent attacks on federal agents or buildings in the wake of the FBI’s search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence. Experts who study radicalization and online disinformation note the recent increase was sparked by a legal search of Trump’s home. What might happen in the event of arrests or indictments?
Trump’s Secrets: How a records dispute led the FBI to search Mar-a-Lago
MSN – Josh Dawsey, Rosalind Helderman, Jacqueline Alemany, and Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 8/13/2022
The court-authorized search of Mar-a-Lago was a remarkable moment even for Donald Trump, who has been under investigation by state and federal prosecutors nearly continuously since he swore the oath of office in 2017. What began as a low-level dispute over the Trump White House’s chaotic and haphazard record-keeping had morphed into a deeply serious probe of whether the ex-president had endangered national security by hoarding highly classified documents, some potentially related to nuclear weapons. The events marked a turning point in the Justice Department’s posture toward Trump.
Vance, DeSantis Rally Puts ‘Highly Unusual’ Restrictions on Press
MSN – Jeremy Barr (Washington Post) | Published: 8/16/2022
Journalists hoping to cover a Republican rally featuring Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Senate candidate J.D. Vance in Ohio will have to agree to give organizers access to any footage they take and could face questions about what it will be used for. That is among the controversial restrictions placed on journalists as a condition of receiving a press pass to cover the event, which is being organized by Turning Point Action, a conservative nonprofit led by activist Charlie Kirk.
From the States and Municipalities
California – A Bay Area Councilman Had a 14-Year-Old as His Campaign Treasurer. Regulators Want to Put a Kibosh on That.
MSN – Gabriel Greschler (Bay Area News Group) | Published: 8/11/2022
In a ruling released in May that included $15,000 in fines for multiple campaign-related violations, the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) noted Milpitas City Councilperson Anthony Phan hired his 14-year-old cousin as his campaign treasurer. Phan told authorities he gave the teenager $43,000 in cash in a shoebox, and the money was later misreported on campaign disclosures. Now, a newly proposed rule from FPPC staff would prohibit minors from serving in key positions like treasurer or campaign strategist.
California – California Lawmaker Faces Scandal After Lobbyist Tweets About Alleged Affair
MSN – Ken Carlson (Sacramento Bee) | Published: 8/12/2022
State Assemblyperson Heath Flora is dealing with revelations of alleged extramarital affairs as he completes a third term and considers other ambitions. Emily Hughes, a lobbyist for the California Medical Association before she left the job in May, wrote about their relationship on Twitter. The purported involvement with a medical industry lobbyist can create an ethics problem for Flora, who is a member of the Assembly Health Committee. A romantic relationship with a medical industry lobbyist triggers conflict-of-interest rules that might require Flora to abstain from matters before the committee. It also triggers limits on the value of gifts.
California – California Lawmakers Use Secretive Process to Kill Would-Be Laws: ‘Where good bills go to die’
MSN – Andrew Sheeler, Lindsey Holden, and Stephen Hobbs (Sacramento Bee) | Published: 8/16/2022
Twice a year, a legislative instrument called the suspense file leaves many California lawmakers, lobbyists, and members of the public seething. Appropriations committees in the state Senate and Assembly use it to kill or quietly amend bills before they can reach the floor. Proponents say the suspense file is a tool of efficiency, essential for screening the hundreds of bills that come through the Legislature each year for their potential fiscal impact. Detractors call it a burial ground, used by lawmakers for decades to bury politically hazardous measures before they are forced to vote on them.
California – In Wake of ‘Pay to Play’ Fine at OC’s Health Plan for the Poor, Legislators Consider Action
Voice of OC – Nick Gerda | Published: 8/17/2022
In the wake of a “pay-to-play” state fine raising questions about Orange County’s health care plan for the poor, state legislators are now considering banning county supervisors like Andrew Do from working for the agency in the year after they leave office. State regulators fined Do $12,000 for using his CalOptima board position to try to push through lobbying contracts for two of his campaign donors. A media report revealed Do has been growing his influence at the health plan, triggering concerns from local health care leaders and state legislators about the politicization of CalOptima.
Colorado – Colorado Secretary of State Considers New Rules to Implement Campaign Contribution Limits
Colorado Politics – Hannah Metzger | Published: 8/15/2022
The Colorado secretary of state’s office is considering new campaign finance regulations, issuing a notice of proposed rulemaking and scheduling a public hearing. The potential changes stem from two bills passed during this year’s legislative session and signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis: House Bill 1060, which caps donation amounts made to school board candidates, and House Bill 1156, which updates reporting requirements for public officials.
Colorado – Public Money Supports Conservative Colorado Lobbying Group Through Membership Dues
Colorado Newsline – Zoe Schacht | Published: 8/15/2022
Membership in a conservative group that lobbies for property tax cuts and maintaining the Denver’s camping ban is not exclusive to chief executives of private companies. Higher-ups in publicly funded institutions such as universities have a seat at the table, meaning public money is being used to support the group’s conservative agenda. The University of Colorado’s involvement helps it maintain relationships with potential donors and creates networking opportunities for alumni, said Ken McConnellogue, the interim vice president for communications.
Connecticut – Port Authority Replaces Ethics Liaison, Weighs in on Previous Missteps
Connecticut Examiner – Brendan Crowley | Published: 8/16/2022
In a move reportedly unrelated to his recently announced ethics violation, the Connecticut Port Authority has replaced Andrew Lavigne as its liaison to the Office of State Ethics. Veronica Calvert, who recently re-joined the authority as its finance director, replaced Lavigne in the role. Lavigne’s involvement in the ethics violation drew scrutiny from at least one board member. David Pohorylo said it was a “shame” the violation resulted in board member Don Frost being replaced, “yet others who did accept gifts have suffered no consequences.”
Florida – DeSantis Sued by Prosecutor Suspended Over Stance on Abortion-Related Crime
MSN – Kim Bellware and Lateshia Beachum (Washington Post) | Published: 8/17/2022
A Florida prosecutor sued Gov. Ron DeSantis in a bid to be reinstated after he was dismissed from his post for pledging he would not prosecute cases stemming from the state’s 15-week abortion ban and potential bans on gender-affirming care. Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren argued his suspension was unlawful on First Amendment grounds and characterized his removal as “retaliation” by DeSantis against a critic and political rival.
Florida – Elections Panel Issues $21K Fine to Committee Connected to Associated Industries of Florida
Florida Politics – Gary Rohrer | Published: 8/16/2022
The Florida Election Commission issued a $21,250 fine to a political committee that has received more than $1.7 million from entities connected to Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) in the last four years. The sanction stems from an $85,000 transfer from the Floridians for Economic Advancement committee to Citizens for a United Florida Inc. in January 2021. The transfer was not reported to the state until November 2021. For such a sophisticated operation to have such a large payment go missing for nine months is suspicious, Commission Chairperson Nicholas Primrose said.
Florida – Mullins, ‘Potentially Bankrupt,’ Lists Different Net Worth Values on Two Legal Forms, but Says Both Are Accurate
Palm Coast Observer – Jonathan Simmons | Published: 8/14/2022
Flagler County Commission Chairperson Joe Mullins filed an August 2 document with the Circuit Court stating his net worth was negative $675,192.16 and he was “potentially bankrupt.” About two months before, he submitted a form to the Supervisor of Elections Office stating his net worth was (positive) $515,602. Mullins in a statement said the elections form and the court filing are both accurate despite the difference in the numbers, because the forms account for different things and were filed about two months apart.
Florida – This Florida Utility’s Secret Cash Helped GOP Win Gainesville State Senate Seat
Miami Herald – Mary Ellen Klaus, Nicholas Nehama, and Ana Claudia Chacin | Published: 8/5/2022
Florida Power & Light (FPL) wanted a Republican incumbent to retain a state Senate seat against a strong Democratic challenger. The utility used a nonprofit group, Broken Promises, to secretly bankroll a spoiler candidate. Running as a no-party candidate in the general election, that spoiler split the liberal vote, swinging the race to the incumbent. Broken Promises did not have to disclose its donors, so no one knew FPL paid to secretly manipulate a state election. It raises questions about whether the utility “subverted” a fair election, said Saurav Ghosh of the Campaign Legal Center.
Georgia – Giuliani Appears Before Georgia Grand Jury in Election Probe
MSN – Matthew Brown and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) | Published: 8/17/2022
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis achieved a long-sought goal with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani appearing for six hours before a grand jury investigating efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Giuliani, who is now the highest-profile member of former President Trump’s inner circle to appear before grand jurors, was informed he is a target of the inquiry. It is not clear what Giuliani said in his closed-door appearance. It came as Willis also saw new challenges to her inquiry.
Georgia – Judge Orders Graham to Testify in Atlanta-Area Trump Probe
Yahoo News – Kyle Cheney, Nicholas Wu, and Josh Gerstein (Politico) | Published: 8/16/2022
A federal judge turned down U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s bid to throw out a subpoena compelling him to testify before the Atlanta-area grand jury investigating Donald Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election. The ruling is a victory for District Attorney Fani Willis, who is leading the grand jury probe that resulted in a subpoena for Graham to appear for an interview. Investigators intend to query Graham about two phone calls with Georgia election officials, at the same time Trump was attempting to subvert his defeat, that included a discussion of the process for counting absentee ballots.
Illinois – Ethics Board Clears Lightfoot’s Use of City Vehicles, Aides, Security Detail on Campaign Trail
WTTW – Heather Cherone | Published: 8/17/2022
Mayor Lori Lightfoot can travel to campaign events in her city vehicle accompanied by an aide and her security detail, all paid for by taxpayers, without violating the city’s ethics ordinance, the Chicago Board of Ethics determined. The advisory opinion represents the first time the board has addressed the issues that surround the decision by an incumbent mayor to run for re-election. The opinion comes as the Ethics Board has faced several cases involving elected officials accused of improperly using city resources for non-official purposes.
Indiana – Ex-GOP State Sen. Brent Waltz Gets 10 Months in Prison for Straw Donor Scheme
MSN – Johnny Magdaleno (Indianapolis Star) | Published: 8/17/2022
Former Indiana Sen. Brent Waltz was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment after he acknowledged his role in a scheme to route $40,500 in illegal contributions to his failed bid for Congress. Waltz pleaded guilty to making and receiving conduit contributions and making false statements to the FBI. He was charged after he worked with political consultant Kelley Rogers to funnel funds from Indiana casino company New Centaur to his 2015 House campaign through straw donors.
Indiana – Rokita Consultant Hired, But Facing $18,000 in Lobbyist Registration Fines
Indiana Capital Chronicle – Leslie Bonilla Muñiz | Published: 8/11/2022
A conservative policy activist and consultant working on contract for Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita’s office was hired as a lobby-exempt, full-time employee after she mistakenly registered as a lobbyist for the wrong entity but faces $18,000 in related fines. State law requires lobbyists to not only file registration statements (within 15 days of becoming a lobbyist, plus annually), but also file semi-annual activity reports. Lobbyists must also complete separate filings for gifts, purchases, amendments, and activity terminations. Miss a deadline, and a lobbyist is fined $100 a day, up to $4,500, until the filing is in.
New York – Casino Pushing for NYC License Forces Out Executive and Mayor Adams’ Pal Over City Job
New York Post – Carl Campanile and Bernadette Hogan | Published: 8/14/2022
Resorts World casino has “parted ways” with its security director, Timothy Pearson, after learning the longtime friend of New York City Mayor Eric Adams was serving as a public safety advisor to the mayor while getting paid by the New York City Economic Development Corporation. Pearson’s position with the city’s economic development arm raised ethics concerns as Resorts World is seeking to expand its gambling operations in Queens.
New York – Judge Rules Against State Ethics Panel in Cuomo’s Book Deal Case
Albany Times Union – Brendan Lyons | Published: 8/16/2022
A New York Supreme Court justice ruled against the former state ethics commission in its court battle seeking to force ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo to repay $5.1 million he received for writing a book about his administration’s early response to the coronavirus pandemic. Acting state Supreme Court Justice Denise Hartman’s ruling upholding Cuomo’s petition to scuttle the actions of the Joint Commission on Public Ethics also found the commission had violated due process when it sought to undo an earlier approval of the book deal by a staff attorney.
New York – New York’s New State Government Ethics and Lobbying Oversight Body Takes Shape
Gotham Gazette – Ethan Geringer-Sameth | Published: 8/15/2022
New York’s new state government ethics commission, set to replace the Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE), will soon take its first steps when its members are approved by a committee of law school deans. Nine out of 11 nominees to the new Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government have been formally named by New York’s statewide elected officials and legislative leaders. For now, 46 JCOPE employees, including its final executive director, have remained at work under the new name, administering financial disclosures laws and maintaining and auditing the state’s lobbying registry, potentially giving informal guidance in the process.
New York – Senate GOP to Pay $200K Settlement in Campaign Finance Probe
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 8/16/2022
State Board of Elections enforcement counsel Michael Johnson charged that New York Senate Republicans abused their housekeeping account in the lead-up to the 2016 election by issuing a series of campaign-style mailers that allegedly crossed a line into expressly seeking election of GOP candidates. While potential fines and penalties could have totaled more than $2 million, Johnson signed off on the $200,000 settlement agreement. Senate Republicans suggest the investigation had partisan undertones, arguing Johnson’s legal theory contradicted a formal opinion authored by the Board of Elections in 2013.
New York – Trump CFO’s Plea Deal Could Make Him a Prosecution Witness
Yahoo News – Michael Sisak (Associated Press) | Published: 8/18/2022
The chief financial officer of Donald Trump’s company, Allen Weisselberg, will plead guilty to tax violations in a deal that would require him to testify about illicit business practices at the Trump Organization. Weisselberg is charged with accepting more than $1.7 million in off-the-books compensation from the former president’s company over several years, including untaxed perks like rent, car payments, and school tuition. Attorney Nicholas Gravante Jr. said his client would plead guilty in exchange for a promised sentence of five months in jail.
North Carolina – North Carolina Elections Board Looking for Public Input Regarding Political Committee Regulations
Center Square – Victor Skinner | Published: 8/16/2022
The North Carolina State Board of Elections is soliciting public comment on proposed rule changes regarding political committees that do not file finance disclosure reports on time. The proposed changes would allow a political committee, referendum committee, or individual to request a waiver of a civil late penalty by using a form on the board’s website and returning it within 60 days of the notice of penalty assessment.
Ohio – Texts, Calendars, Emails Link DeWine to FirstEnergy’s Bribery Scandal
Ohio Capital Journal – Jake Zuckerman | Published: 8/15/2022
Records suggest Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and his administration were more active than previously known in pushing for passage of a nuclear power plant bailout now at the center of a corruption scandal. Records show DeWine met repeatedly to discuss energy policy with FirstEnergy officials and at least once with former House Speaker Larry Householder, who has been criminally accused of taking a bribe from the utility to pass House Bill 6. Despite warnings, DeWine appointed Sam Randazzo in 2019 to chair the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. FirstEnergy admitted it paid Randazzo a $4.3 million bribe to act in the company’s interests.
Rhode Island – Rep. Carlos Tobon Hit with $3,600 Fine for Over a Dozen Ethics Violations
WPRI – Steph Machado, Eli Sherman, Ted Nesi, and Tim White | Published: 8/16/2022
The Rhode Island Ethics Commission fined state Rep. Carlos Tobon $3,600 after an investigation revealed he repeatedly violated the state ethics code by failing to report a series of unpaid debts, business ownerships, and board memberships despite a legal requirement to do so annually. Tobon never showed up to the House again after a media report aired on May 5, missing the final seven weeks of the legislative session. He was also kicked off the Finance Committee by Speaker Joe Shekarchi just hours after the story came out. Yet Tobon never resigned his seat.
Tennessee – Cothren Challenges Subpoena Order by State Registry
Tennessee Lookout – Sam Stockard | Published: 8/16/2022
The former chief of staff for ex-House Speaker Glen Casada is continuing to fight a subpoena to testify before the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance about a PAC he ran secretly to attack political adversaries. Cynthia Sherwood, the attorney for Cade Cothren, claims the court should not hold him in contempt for invoking his right against self-incrimination in response to subpoenas. In advance of a hearing, Sherwood is arguing that overlapping cases against the former House speaker’s chief of staff should circumvent the state subpoena.
Wisconsin – Wisconsin Assembly Leader Axes 2020 Election Investigation After Beating Trump-Backed Primary Challenger
Yahoo News – Zach Montellaro (Politico) | Published: 8/12/2022
Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos ended a controversial partisan review of the 2020 election, which he and GOP legislators had funded for the past year, days after Vos defeated a primary challenger. Vos ended the review and removed the chief investigator, former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, after more than a year and over $1 million in spending. Vos narrowly won his primary over an opponent who had endorsements from both former President Trump and Gableman.
Wyoming – Confusion, Compliance Concerns Color Campaign Finance Filings
WyoFile – Maggie Mullen | Published: 8/15/2022
In the wake of Wyoming’s first campaign finance filings of 2022, some lawmakers, candidates, and elections watchers are raising concerns about accountability, lack of oversight, and confusion. In a year with “election integrity” on the ballot in numerous races, and what is shaping up to be record spending, some fear new rules and a lack of proactive compliance checks by the secretary of state could result in inadvertent violations, or worse.
August 16, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “Sinema Took Wall Street Money While Killing Tax on Investors” by Brian Slodysko (Associated Press) for MSN Elections National: “Trump-Allied Lawyers Pursued Voting Machine Data in Multiple States, Records Reveal” by Emma Brown, Jon Swaine, Aaron Davis, […]
National: “Sinema Took Wall Street Money While Killing Tax on Investors” by Brian Slodysko (Associated Press) for MSN
National: “Trump-Allied Lawyers Pursued Voting Machine Data in Multiple States, Records Reveal” by Emma Brown, Jon Swaine, Aaron Davis, and Amy Gardner (Washington Post) for Anchorage Daily News
Georgia: “Giuliani Is Target in Georgia Criminal Probe of Possible Interference in 2020 Election, Lawyer Says” by Eugene Scott and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “California Lawmaker Faces Scandal After Lobbyist Tweets About Alleged Affair” by Ken Carlson (Sacramento Bee) for MSN
Florida: “Rules for Covering DeSantis Visit to Pittsburgh Pose Ethical Quandary, Experts Say” by Chris Potter for WESA
New York: “New York’s New State Government Ethics and Lobbying Oversight Body Takes Shape” by Ethan Geringer-Sameth for Gotham Gazette
Ohio: “Texts, Calendars, Emails Link DeWine to FirstEnergy’s Bribery Scandal” by Jake Zuckerman for Ohio Capital Journal
Colorado: “Public Money Supports Conservative Colorado Lobbying Group Through Membership Dues” by Zoe Schacht for Colorado Newsline
August 15, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Florida: “This Florida Utility’s Secret Cash Helped GOP Win Gainesville State Senate Seat” by Mary Ellen Klaus, Nicholas Nehama, and Ana Claudia Chacin for Miami Herald Elections Wisconsin: “Wisconsin Assembly Leader Axes 2020 Election Investigation After Beating Trump-Backed […]
Florida: “This Florida Utility’s Secret Cash Helped GOP Win Gainesville State Senate Seat” by Mary Ellen Klaus, Nicholas Nehama, and Ana Claudia Chacin for Miami Herald
Wisconsin: “Wisconsin Assembly Leader Axes 2020 Election Investigation After Beating Trump-Backed Primary Challenger” by Zach Montellaro (Politico) for Yahoo News
National: “Under Fire, Homeland Security Watchdog Delays Probe – with GOP Help” by Lisa Rein (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Trump’s Secrets: How a records dispute led the FBI to search Mar-a-Lago” by Josh Dawsey, Rosalind Helderman, Jacqueline Alemany, and Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “A Bay Area Councilman Had a 14-Year-Old as His Campaign Treasurer. Regulators Want to Put a Kibosh on That.” by Gabriel Greschler (Bay Area News Group) for MSN
New York: “Jury Selection Will Start in October for Trump Organization Criminal Trial” by Ilya Marritz for NPR
Ohio: “Unfilled Records Requests Hide the Full Story Behind Ohio’s Utility Corruption Scandal” by Kathiann Kowalski (Energy News Network) for WVIZ
Indiana: “Rokita Consultant Hired, But Facing $18,000 in Lobbyist Registration Fines” by Leslie Bonilla Muñiz for Indiana Capital Chronicle
August 12, 2022 •
National/Federal Appeals Court Rules IRS Must Provide Trump’s Tax Returns to House Committee MSN – Harper Neidig (The Hill) | Published: 8/9/2022 The IRS must hand over former President Trump’s tax returns to a U.S. House committee, a federal appeals court […]
Appeals Court Rules IRS Must Provide Trump’s Tax Returns to House Committee
MSN – Harper Neidig (The Hill) | Published: 8/9/2022
The IRS must hand over former President Trump’s tax returns to a U.S. House committee, a federal appeals court ruled, dismissing a long-running legal challenge to block tax officials from complying with a request for the records from Democratic lawmakers. A three-judge panel for the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously with the Biden administration and the Ways and Means Committee, ruling against Trump’s arguments against the committee’s authority, his privacy concerns, and his claim that complying with the request would be unconstitutional.
DaVita Helped Craft New Bill to Fix ‘Loophole’ Left by Supreme Court Ruling, Documents Show
Yahoo News – Megan Wilson (Politico) | Published: 8/9/2022
Roughly two months after dialysis company DaVita lost a Supreme Court case involving insurance coverage for its services, Congress introduced bipartisan legislation that would be a boon for dialysis providers. Its language appears to be largely modeled from a proposal circulated by the company. The new bill would obligate health plans to cover dialysis the same way they do treatments for other chronic illnesses and, if enacted, would likely increase reimbursement amounts for companies like DaVita.
Facebook Bans Hate Speech but Still Makes Money from White Supremacists
MSN – Naomi Nix (Washington Post) | Published: 8/10/2022
Facebook has long banned content referencing white nationalism. But a plethora of hate groups still populate the site, and the company boosts its revenue by running ads on searches for these pages. The findings by the Tech Transparency Project illustrate the ease with which bigoted groups can evade Facebook’s detection systems, despite the company’s years-long ban against posts that attack people on the basis of their race, religion, sexual orientation, and other characteristics. Activists have charged that by allowing hate speech to proliferate across its networks, Facebook opens the door for extremist groups to organize deadly attacks.
FBI Arrests Former Puerto Rico Governor on Bribery Charges
MSN – Perry Stein (Washington Post) | Published: 8/4/2022
Federal law enforcement agents arrested former Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced, charging her in a bribery scheme that was allegedly aimed at financing her failed 2020 gubernatorial campaign. Officials said while Vázquez Garced was governor in 2019 and 2020, she allegedly took campaign donations from a banker, Julio Martin Herrera Velutini, and a former FBI agent, Mark Rossini, who was consulting for the bank. Herrera Velutini and Rossini allegedly paid more than $300,000 to consultants who supported Vázquez Garced’s campaign.
Former Health Minister Steve Brine Cleared of Lobbying Beach for Second Time in a Year Because No VAT Was Paid
Business Insider – Catherine Neilan | Published: 8/8/2022
A former United Kingdom health minister has been cleared of breaching lobbying rules for a second time in less than a year, because in both cases no value added tax was paid. Steve Brine, who served in Theresa May’s government until March 2019, messaged then-health secretary Matt Hancock about Remedium Partners. He was being paid £1,600 a month. Former ministers are banned from lobbying ministers for two years after their last day in office. The message was sent in March 2020, meaning his approach fell within the restricted period.
Get Ready for Many More Political Emails, as Federal Regulators OK Google’s Plan to Drop Spam Filters for Eligible Federal Candidates
MSN – Dave Levinthal (Business Insider) | Published: 8/11/2022
The FEC ruled Google could legally launch a pilot program for candidates that allows them to skirt email spam filters when raising money from, or otherwise communicating with, prospective voters and donors. Despite a torrent of public outrage preceding the vote, Google is now free to invite federal candidates to sign up for the email pilot program, which would amount to a free pass out of Gmail spam-box purgatory. The FEC had to decide whether Google giving some candidates a break from spam filters constituted an illegal in-kind political contribution.
Homeland Security Watchdog Previously Accused of Misleading Investigators, Report Says
MSN – Lisa Rein, Carol Leonnig, and Maria Sacchetti (Washington Post) | Published: 8/4/2022
The Homeland Security watchdog now under scrutiny for his handling of deleted Secret Service text messages from the attack on the Capitol previously was accused of misleading federal investigators and running “afoul” of ethics regulations while he was in charge of a Justice Department inspector general field office in Tucson. Separately, investigators found Joseph Cuffari broke ethics rules by referring law firms to the prisoner’s family, including firms where some of his close friends worked.
Maps in Four States Were Ruled Illegal Gerrymanders. They’re Being Used Anyway.
Eminetra.com – Michael Wines (New York Times) | Published: 8/8/2022
Judges in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Ohio have found Republican legislators illegally drew those states’ congressional maps along racial or partisan lines, or that a trial very likely would conclude they did. Judges in the past who have reached similar findings ordered new maps, or had an expert draw them, to ensure elections were fair. But a shift in election law philosophy at the Supreme Court, combined with a new aggressiveness among Republicans who drew the maps, has upended that model. This time, all four states are using the rejected maps, and questions about their legality for future elections will be hashed out in court later.
Mar-a-Lago Search Appears Focused on Whether Trump, Aides Withheld Items
MSN – Devlin Barrett, Josh Dawsey, Rosalind Helderman, Jacqueline Alemany, and Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 8/9/2022
In the months before the FBI’s dramatic move to execute a search warrant at former president Trump’s Florida home and open his safe to look for items, federal authorities grew increasingly concerned Trump or his lawyers and aides had not returned all the documents and other material that were government property, according to people familiar with the matter. Over months of discussions about whether documents were still missing, some officials also came to suspect Trump’s representatives were not truthful at times, sources said.
Simmering Threat of Violence Comes to Fore with Search of Trump Property
MSN – Hannah Allam (Washington Post) | Published: 8/9/2022
Within hours of the FBI search at Donald Trump’s Florida compound, Republican lawmakers, conservative talk-show hosts, anti-government provocateurs, and pro-Trump conspiracy theorists began issuing explicit or thinly veiled calls for violence. Extremist organizers have tried to hold on to the momentum they built in recent years by finding causes disparate factions could rally around. With each iteration, analysts say, the networks have grown more sophisticated and more violent. The search at Mar-a-Lago for classified documents is now presented as a tipping point, an existential threat to the country that true patriots must thwart.
The Newest Fad in Fundraising: Gold-level clubs for lobbyists
MSN – Haily Fuchs (Politico) | Published: 8/11/2022
An increasingly popular fad in campaign fundraising is access to small gatherings of politicians that lobbyists can purchase. Instead of brief face time with a lawmaker at a single event, lobbyists are offered the opportunity to develop almost a familial relationship with candidates over a series of them. Attendance at events often tops out at between 15 to 20 people, usually registered lobbyists. They were created to entice donations from individuals rather than corporate PACs. Lobbyists can, in turn, use their membership as a sell for potential new clients.
Voters Aren’t the Only Ones Feeling the Effects of Inflation
MSN – Kate Ackley (Roll Call) | Published: 8/5/2022
High inflation is not just a political messaging point to some candidates running for office. The cost of gasoline, travel, staff pay, printed materials, and food for events all affect the bottom lines of campaigns. Some say they are feeling the pinch of niner percent inflation and can relate to voters for whom rising prices is a top-of-mind matter in this year’s midterm elections. This period of high inflation will ripple into the next election cycle, too.
Who Is Scott Perry, Trump Ally and Lawmaker Whose Phone Was Seized by FBI?
MSN – Kim Bellware (Washington Post) | Published: 8/9/2022
U.S. Rep. Scott Perry’s cellphone was seized as part of the Justice Department’s criminal investigation into the use of fake electors to try to overturn President Biden’s victory. Perry is the first member of Congress known to have his phone seized as part of the probe into the attempt at the U.S. Capitol to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Perry did not say why investigators confiscated his phone and wrote in a statement that the contents of his phone are not the “government’s business.”
From the States and Municipalities
California – Anaheim City Council Votes to Investigate Itself Following FBI Corruption Probe
LAist – Jill Replogle | Published: 8/10/2022
The city of Anaheim will fund an independent audit of campaign contributions to former Mayor Harry Sidhu and current city council members following an FBI corruption probe that came to light in May. The council voted to hire the firm JL Group to carry out the investigation. Sidhu resigned after it became public the FBI is investigating him for alleged corruption in connection with the sale of Angel Stadium. The audit is intended to provide a measure of transparency after warrants revealed what the FBI called a “covert group” that wielded influence over city government.
California – DA Jenkins Pocketed Six Figures as Consultant for Nonprofit Linked to Boudin Recall Backers
San Francisco Standard – Michael Barba | Published: 8/8/2022
Brooke Jenkins did not just quit her job as a local prosecutor to volunteer for the recall against her former boss, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin. Newly filed records show she also collected more than $100,000 as a consultant for Neighbors for a Better San Francisco, a nonprofit that shares an address and virtually the same name as the organization behind Boudin’s recall but is legally a separate entity. Jenkins earned the salary in the six months before Mayor London Breed appointed her district attorney on July 8. During that period, Jenkins was volunteering as a spokesperson on the recall campaign.
California – Ethics Commission Blames City Union for Derailing Anti-Corruption Ballot Measure
San Francisco Standard – Mike Edge | Published: 8/10/2022
A ballot initiative that would have tightened up rules around gifts to public officials failed to make the ballot, and San Francisco ethics watchdogs are blaming a union representing city department heads. The Ethics Commission pointed the finger at the Municipal Executives Association in a recent letter, writing the union used the bargaining process to stall the proposed ballot measure past a key deadline. The measure sought to expand the definition of what would constitute a bribe, mandate disclosure of any relationships with city contractors, and add more comprehensive ethics training for city employees.
California – Force Multipliers: How one donor network is pushing the envelope on California campaign money
CalMatters – Ben Christopher, Alexei Koseff, and Jeremia Kimelman | Published: 8/4/2022
In the 2022 election cycle so far, the Govern For California network has donated more than $3 million to more than 110 candidates across California, the vast majority of the money going to those running for the state Senate and Assembly. Govern For California characterizes its 18 chapters as “force multipliers” that amplify the influence of its donors on state politics and government. The organization opposes what it regards as excessive sway of labor unions over state policy. Some experts questioned whether it is a way for its small cadre of wealthy donors to evade contribution caps designed to limit anyone from having outsized influence.
Colorado – In Crowded City Races, Denver’s New Fair Election Fund Will Face First Test
MSN – Joe Rubino (Denver Post) | Published: 8/9/2022
Overhauling Denver’s campaign finance rules was popular with voters in 2018. More than 70 percent of Denverites who cast ballots that year voted for Referred Measure 2E. The sweeping change ratcheted down contribution limits for candidates seeking every seat from mayor to the city auditor, banned direct corporate and union campaign donations, and established a fund to provide public financing for candidates who agreed to abide by even lower limits and other rules. Denver’s 2023 municipal election is inching closer and, finally, the city’s fair elections fund will come to bear on local races.
Connecticut – Larry McHugh to Replace Embattled CT Port Authority Official
MSN – Keith Phaneuf (Connecticut Mirror) | Published: 8/6/2022
House Speaker Matt Ritter selected a longtime business and education leader to replace one of the Connecticut Port Authority officials cited in a state ethics ruling. Lawrence McHugh will replace Donald Frost on the board of directors. Ritter said he was dismayed to learn that Frost was one of the officials at the quasi-public entity who had accepted illegal gifts from Seabury Maritime, a consultant hired to help find a developer for the state pier in New London.
Florida – DeSantis Suspends Elected Prosecutor Over New Abortion Law
Yahoo News – Anthony Izaguirre (Associated Press) | Published: 8/4/2022
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren pledging not to enforce the state’s new 15-week abortion ban and for supporting gender transition treatments for minors. Asked whether he is overriding the will of the voters by suspending their choice for prosecutor, DeSantis said Warren’s conduct has fallen “below the standard of the Florida Constitution” and that he has neglected his duty to state law.
Florida – Second Firm in Sunset Lounge Bid Disqualified for Improper Lobbying of West Palm Beach Mayor
MSN – Terri Parker (WPBF) | Published: 8/10/2022
There is a new twist in the continuing saga of who will operate the historic and newly renovated Sunset Lounge in West Palm Beach. The firm that was awarded the bid three weeks ago is now disqualified. The city’s procurement director said Mad Room Hospitality violated the terms of the Request for Proposal by contacting the mayor and a commissioner via email before the contract was executed. Vita Lounge LLC had also been disqualified for allegedly lobbying people on Facebook to support their selection and doing an interview on WPBF.
Hawaii – Campaign Spending Commission Investigates COVID Testing Company That Got Big City Contract
MSN – Rick Daysog (Hawaii News Now) | Published: 8/8/2022
The Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission is investigating one of the companies that was awarded a multi-million-dollar COVID testing contract by former Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s administration. The commission subpoenaed the bank records of two employees of Capture Diagnostics, which is part of a consortium awarded a $19.5 million emergency contract for the city’s testing program at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. The commission is looking at whether the company reimbursed the employees who gave a total of $10,000 to the Caldwell campaign.
Illinois – State Sen. Elgie Sims Approached in Federal Criminal Investigation into Alleged Influence Peddling by Body-Cam Company
Yahoo News – Jason Meisner and Ray Long (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 8/8/2022
Illinois Sen. Elgie Sims was approached in the spring by federal authorities investigating potential influence peddling involving a police body-camera manufacturer that hired the law firm where Sims works as a lobbyist. The ongoing probe involves Axon Enterprise, a law-enforcement technology company that hired law firm Foley & Lardner to lobby lawmakers in Springfield and Chicago. Sims is an “of-counsel” attorney at Foley, specializing in government affairs and public policy. Investigators are looking into whether Axon improperly tried to influence Sims in his official duties working on criminal justice legislation, which requires every police officer in the state to wear a body camera by 2025.
Indiana – Anti-Common Core Activist Failed to Register as Lobbyist for Rokita’s Office
Indiana Capital Chronicle – Leslie Bonilla Muñiz | Published: 8/9/2022
Erin Tuttle, a policy consultant and state contractor, mistakenly registered as a lobbyist for the city of Indianapolis rather than the state of Indiana. Tuttle and Chief Administrative Officer Larry Hopkins signed a two-year, $200,000 contract for research, analysis, and communications help for state Attorney General Todd Rokita’s office. Among Tuttle’s listed duties: “Contractor shall interact and communicate with legislators.” That set Tuttle up for a potential violation of Indiana law when she did not register with the Lobby Registration Commission.
Indiana – Two Ind. Officers Suspended After Arresting Man Thought to Be Anti-Police
MSN – Meryl Kornfield (Washington Post) | Published: 8/10/2022
Two Indiana officers were suspended after a courtroom revelation that police thought a potential town council candidate was anti-police and arrested him, stopping him from running for office. Franklin County Prosecutor Chris Huerkamp dropped charges that included drug possession against Trevin Thalheimer after an officer and witness recounted how Brookville police talked about Thalheimer. Huerkamp, who also did not pursue a rape charge police had investigated, said he was “disturbed beyond words” by the alleged police conduct and reported the incident to the Indiana State Police, which launched a criminal investigation.
Michigan – GOP Nominee for Michigan AG Named in Election Security Breach Probe
MSN – Rosalind Helderman, Emma Brown, and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) | Published: 8/7/2022
State police have been investigating efforts by supporters of former President Trump to convince Michigan clerks to give them access to voting software and tabulating machines, so they could examine them to prove fraud took place in 2020. Now, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is seeking the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the Republican nominee for her job, Matthew DePerno, after the investigation found evidence that he helped orchestrate an effort last year to gain unauthorized access to voting equipment.
Michigan – Super PAC Backing Tudor Dixon Hides Its Origins Despite Disclosing Donors
MSN – Simon Schuster (MLive.com) | Published: 8/10/2022
Michigan Families United hosted an appearance by Tudor Dixon, the Republican nominee for governor of Michigan, that became the basis for campaign ads in which it spent $2.5 million to air before the GOP primary. Michigan Families United spent more than Dixon’s campaign raised in total and more than 20 times what her campaign spent on advertising, but who is behind super PAC remains shrouded in secrecy.
Missouri – Missouri Prepping for New Rules on Campaign Donations by Businesses
St. Louis Post Dispatch – Kurt Erickson | Published: 8/4/2022
Missouri ethics regulators are preparing for a change in state law designed to allow some businesses to give directly to candidates. The law is aimed at stopping shell companies from pumping “dark money” into campaigns by requiring limited liability companies with a specific tax status to register with the state Ethics Commission. The commission released guidance on the new requirements and said it is developing a portal on its website for companies to register and for candidates to search whether a company has submitted the proper paperwork.
New Jersey – Disclosure Statements Provide Little Insight into Lawmakers’ Finances
New Jersey Monitor – Nikita Biryukov | Published: 8/8/2022
Members of more than 50 state boards, commissions, and committees in New Jersey, as well as high-ranking administration officials, must annually report their finances with greater levels of transparency than state lawmakers. Recent efforts to require lawmakers to disclose more about their finances have not gone anywhere. Experts in government and ethics say broader requirements would not only help the public know more about the sources of their state representatives’ income but would also boost public confidence in government.
New York – City Ethics Board Out of Business
Investigative Post – Geoff Kelly | Published: 8/8/2022
Last September, 140 people signed a formal complaint filed with the Buffalo Board of Ethics. The complaint alleged city workers, including police officers, were campaigning for Mayor Byron Brown on city time, using city resources. Almost a year later, there has been no response, not even an acknowledgement the complaint was received. The ethics board has not met in two-and-a-half years.
New York – Erie County Comptroller Seeks Answers on OTB Lobbying Expenses
Lockport Journal – Mark Scheer | Published: 8/9/2022
Erie County Comptroller Kevin Hardwick is asking more questions about the inner workings of Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. (OTB) and this time he wants to know why it is spending so much public money on Albany lobbyists. Hardwick said that following a review of the agency’s board meeting minutes dating back to 2014, his office found OTB has used 10 firms for lobbying and advocacy activities. The comptroller said the agency either paid or agreed to pay a total of $157,000 for such services in the first six months of 2022 alone. The letter about lobbying is the third one that Hardwick’s office has sent to OTB in less than two weeks.
New York – State Agency Made Key Reversal in Bid Process Won by Hochul Donor
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 8/5/2022
Medical Answering Services contended it could run New York’s medical transportation program for far less money than its rivals, a major factor when the company eventually won the competitive bidding. A competitor for the contract, Modivcare Solutions, says it learned a key, promised part of the process was not followed. Two months before the award was issued, Medical Answering Services’ founder, Russ Maxwell, hosted a campaign fundraiser for Gov. Kathy Hochul, one of many such events hosted by people with business before her administration.
New York – Trump Takes the Fifth
Yahoo News – Kelly Hooper (Politico) | Published: 8/10/2022
Former President Trump declined to answer questions during a deposition with the office of New York Attorney General Tish James, asserting his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Trump’s deposition came amid the office’s three-year-long investigation into whether the Trump Organization had misstated the value of assets on financial statements. The former president is also the subject of a parallel criminal investigation being conducted by the Manhattan district attorney’s office into whether he fraudulently inflated property values.
Ohio – Judge Scolds Ohio House Bill 6 Defendant for Posting Witness’s Social Security Card and Driver’s License Online
MSN – Andrew Tobias (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 8/5/2022
A federal judge admonished a former lobbyist accused in the Ohio House Bill 6 corruption matter for using his website to publish the personal information of a key witness in the case, including unredacted copies of his driver’s license and Social Security card. U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black said he found it “entirely incredible” that Matt Borges did not mean to post witness Tyler Fehrman’s information to his legal-defense website.
Ohio – Utility Regulator Accused of Taking a Bribe Helped Write Bill Targeting Watchdog
Ohio Capital Journal – Jake Zuckerman | Published: 8/5/2022
Ohio’s former top utility regulator, who was accused of taking a $4.3 million bribe, spent months helping write a sweeping energy bill that targeted a state watchdog agency that advocates for residential electric customers, records show. Emails from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio show its former chairperson, Sam Randazzo, conferred with the bill sponsor and helped draft legislative language. The bill would have limited the reach of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel and given often-hostile state legislators control of its board.
Pennsylvania – Posh Southwestern Pa. Party Spotlights How Lawmakers and Lobbyists Mingle Out of the Public Eye
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Mike Werechagin | Published: 8/7/2022
Pennsylvania is among a minority of states that places no limits on the value of gifts special interests can give legislators. Even members of Pennsylvania’s executive branch cannot accept gifts or meals under an executive order signed by Gov. Tom Wolf the day he took office. But the Legislature has blocked nearly every effort to limit the ability of special interests to shower lawmakers with dinners, drinks, and travel, or to give the public a clear picture of what their representatives and senators allow lobbyists to buy them.
Rhode Island – Inside the Political, Personal, and Legal Connections of the Tidewater Landing Soccer Stadium Deal
MSN – Brian Amaral (Boston Globe) | Published: 8/4/2022
When the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation’s board convened to consider appropriating $60 million for the Tidewater Landing soccer stadium project in Pawtucket, relationships between board members and outside interests sparked criticism. Law partners for the Commerce Corporation’s attorney are registered as lobbyists for the developer. A board member’s sister is trying to unseat the incumbent governor, who chairs the board. A Pawtucket city official who helped shepherd the deal through by working with the Commerce official who is now running for treasurer against the Pawtucket official’s fiancé.
Texas – Not a ‘Love Story’: Former Richardson mayor gets 6 years for accepting bribes, sex
MSN – Kevin Krause (Dallas Morning News) | Published: 8/4/2022
Laura Maczka, a first-time Richardson, Texas, mayor, accepted a string of favors, some sexual, from the wealthy developer, Mark Jordan, who became her lover and then her husband. She did what she could while on the city council to make sure he got the zoning he wanted for his planned apartments despite vehement resident opposition. Now the pair are headed to federal prison for their misdeeds in a public corruption case that spanned almost a decade and resulted in a city investigation and two salacious public trials.
Virginia – Virginia Official Lobbied for Gas Project His Agency Will Consider
Roanoke Times – Patrick Wilson (Richmond Times Dispatch) | Published: 8/5/2022
As one of eight gubernatorial appointees on the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, James Minor gets a vote on an anticipated permit request for a natural gas pipeline expansion near Petersburg. Public records show he has been lobbying elected officials to support the project; he and the company that wants to build it will not say if he was paid for the work. Public records show Minor emailed and called elected officials in Petersburg between February and May on behalf of a pipeline expansion project from TC Energy and its subsidiary, Columbia Gas Transmission.
Washington – Tim Eyman Forced to Sell House to Pay Campaign Finance Fines, Debts
Seattle Times – David Gutman | Published: 8/5/2022
Anti-tax initiative promoter Tim Eyman, who was found liable last year in Washington for “numerous and particularly egregious” violations of campaign finance law, has been forced to sell his house to help pay millions of dollars of fines and debt. The $900,000 in proceeds will go toward paying off the more than $5.6 million in sanctions and legal fees he owes the state and other creditors. A judge found Eyman enriched himself by laundering political donations, accepted kickbacks from a signature-gathering company, and secretly shuttled money between initiative campaigns and concealed the source of other political contributions.
August 11, 2022 •
Q: I have taken on a new role handling our company’s government outreach in Florida. I will likely be lobbying both state and local officials. Where do I get started? A: Florida offers a labyrinth of compliance issues for state […]
Q: I have taken on a new role handling our company’s government outreach in Florida. I will likely be lobbying both state and local officials. Where do I get started?
A: Florida offers a labyrinth of compliance issues for state and local lobbyists. The decentralized nature of the regulatory landscape means you may need to register at the state level, as well as in each individual city or county where you will be active.
At the state level, registration is required prior to engaging in lobbying activities. This includes any attempt to obtain the goodwill of a legislator, executive official, or employee of either branch. Registrants must select whether they will be lobbying the Legislative Branch, Executive Branch, or both. Activity reports for the state are limited to lobbying firms, who must disclose compensation received on a quarterly basis. Gift disclosures may also be required for any registered lobbyist, but we will discuss these in a moment.
Engaging with city or county officials is where staying compliant can be complicated. Most cities and counties have their own registration and reporting ordinances. Luckily, a general theme throughout is the requirement to register prior to engaging with officials. Most locales require annual registration, for either the calendar year or fiscal year, and reporting of lobbying activities. Be careful here to note the reporting periods as they can differ from the registration period. Some cities, such as Orlando, do not require the submission of a report if no expenses were incurred during the reporting period.
Also, be sure to note additional requirements such as meeting logs, lobbyist trainings, or registrations with subgroups of a municipality. For example, Miami-Dade County Publics Schools has its own registration requirement separate from Miami-Dade County.
Finally, whether you are registered with the state or a municipality, state statutes require quarterly disclosures of gifts to certain officials and employees. These reports include gifts valued at more than $25 given to officials or employees who file financial disclosures with the state; however, no such report is required if no reportable gifts were given. And, as always, please be sure any gift is permissible according to the relevant ethics rules.
For more information, be sure to check out the “Registration” and “Reports Required” sections of the Lobbying Compliance Laws online publication for Florida and its municipalities. If you have any questions, please feel free to learn more and contact us at www.stateandfed.com
August 11, 2022 •
Elections California: “DA Jenkins Pocketed Six Figures as Consultant for Nonprofit Linked to Boudin Recall Backers” by Michael Barba for San Francisco Standard Ethics National: “Facebook Bans Hate Speech but Still Makes Money from White Supremacists” by Naomi Nix (Washington […]
California: “DA Jenkins Pocketed Six Figures as Consultant for Nonprofit Linked to Boudin Recall Backers” by Michael Barba for San Francisco Standard
National: “Facebook Bans Hate Speech but Still Makes Money from White Supremacists” by Naomi Nix (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Who Is Scott Perry, Trump Ally and Lawmaker Whose Phone Was Seized by FBI?” by Kim Bellware (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “Ethics Commission Blames City Union for Derailing Anti-Corruption Ballot Measure” by Mike Edge for San Francisco Standard
Indiana: “Two Ind. Officers Suspended After Arresting Man Thought to Be Anti-Police” by Meryl Kornfield (Washington Post) for MSN
New York: “Trump Takes the Fifth” by Kelly Hooper (Politico) for Yahoo News
National: “DaVita Helped Craft New Bill to Fix ‘Loophole’ Left by Supreme Court Ruling, Documents Show” by Megan Wilson (Politico) for Yahoo News
New York: “Erie County Comptroller Seeks Answers on OTB Lobbying Expenses” by Mark Scheer for Lockport Journal
National: “Maps in Four States Were Ruled Illegal Gerrymanders. They’re Being Used Anyway.” by Michael Wines (New York Times) for Eminetra.com
August 10, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “Voters Aren’t the Only Ones Feeling the Effects of Inflation” by Kate Ackley (Roll Call) for MSN Colorado: “In Crowded City Races, Denver’s New Fair Election Fund Will Face First Test” by Joe Rubino (Denver Post) for […]
National: “Voters Aren’t the Only Ones Feeling the Effects of Inflation” by Kate Ackley (Roll Call) for MSN
Colorado: “In Crowded City Races, Denver’s New Fair Election Fund Will Face First Test” by Joe Rubino (Denver Post) for MSN
Hawaii: “Campaign Spending Commission Investigates COVID Testing Company That Got Big City Contract” by Rick Daysog (Hawaii News Now) for MSN
National: “Appeals Court Rules IRS Must Provide Trump’s Tax Returns to House Committee” by Harper Neidig (The Hill) for MSN
New York: “City Ethics Board Out of Business” by Geoff Kelly for Investigative Post
Ohio: “Judge Scolds Ohio House Bill 6 Defendant for Posting Witness’s Social Security Card and Driver’s License Online” by Andrew Tobias (Cleveland Plain Dealer) for MSN
Texas: “Not a ‘Love Story’: Former Richardson mayor gets 6 years for accepting bribes, sex” by Kevin Krause (Dallas Morning News) for MSN
Europe: “Former Health Minister Steve Brine Cleared of Lobbying Beach for Second Time in a Year Because No VAT Was Paid” by Catherine Neilan for Business Insider
August 9, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Washington: “Tim Eyman Forced to Sell House to Pay Campaign Finance Fines, Debts” by David Gutman for Seattle Times Elections Michigan: “GOP Nominee for Michigan AG Named in Election Security Breach Probe” by Rosalind Helderman, Emma Brown, and […]
Washington: “Tim Eyman Forced to Sell House to Pay Campaign Finance Fines, Debts” by David Gutman for Seattle Times
Michigan: “GOP Nominee for Michigan AG Named in Election Security Breach Probe” by Rosalind Helderman, Emma Brown, and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “FBI Searches Trump Safe at Mar-a-Lago Club, Former President Says” by Devlin Barrett, Mariana Alfaro, Josh Dawsey, and Jacqueline Alemany (Washington Post) for MSN
Connecticut: “Larry McHugh to Replace Embattled CT Port Authority Official” by Keith Phaneuf (Connecticut Mirror) for MSN
New Jersey: “Disclosure Statements Provide Little Insight into Lawmakers’ Finances” by Nikita Biryukov for New Jersey Monitor
Rhode Island: “Inside the Political, Personal, and Legal Connections of the Tidewater Landing Soccer Stadium Deal” by Brian Amaral (Boston Globe) for MSN
Illinois: “State Sen. Elgie Sims Approached in Federal Criminal Investigation into Alleged Influence Peddling by Body-Cam Company” by Jason Meisner and Ray Long (Chicago Tribune) for Yahoo News
Pennsylvania: “Posh Southwestern Pa. Party Spotlights How Lawmakers and Lobbyists Mingle Out of the Public Eye” by Mike Werechagin for Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
August 8, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “FEC Draft Says Google Plan to Keep Campaign Emails Out of Spam Is Lawful” by Rachel Scully (The Hill) for Yahoo News California: “Force Multipliers: How one donor network is pushing the envelope on California campaign money” […]
National: “FEC Draft Says Google Plan to Keep Campaign Emails Out of Spam Is Lawful” by Rachel Scully (The Hill) for Yahoo News
California: “Force Multipliers: How one donor network is pushing the envelope on California campaign money” by Ben Christopher, Alexei Koseff, and Jeremia Kimelman for CalMatters
Missouri: “Missouri Prepping for New Rules on Campaign Donations by Businesses” by Kurt Erickson for St. Louis Post Dispatch
National: “Homeland Security Watchdog Previously Accused of Misleading Investigators, Report Says” by Lisa Rein, Carol Leonnig, and Maria Sacchetti (Washington Post) for MSN
Florida: “DeSantis Suspends Elected Prosecutor Over New Abortion Law” by Anthony Izaguirre (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
New York: “State Agency Made Key Reversal in Bid Process Won by Hochul Donor” by Chris Bragg for Albany Times Union
Ohio: “Utility Regulator Accused of Taking a Bribe Helped Write Bill Targeting Watchdog” by Jake Zuckerman for Ohio Capital Journal
Virginia: “Virginia Official Lobbied for Gas Project His Agency Will Consider” by Patrick Wilson (Richmond Times Dispatch) for Roanoke Times
August 5, 2022 •
National/Federal A Right-Wing Think Tank Claimed to Be a Church. Now, Members of Congress Want to Investigate. ProPublica – Andrew Suozzo | Published: 8/2/2022 Forty members of Congress asked the IRS and the Treasury Department to investigate what the lawmakers termed […]
A Right-Wing Think Tank Claimed to Be a Church. Now, Members of Congress Want to Investigate.
ProPublica – Andrew Suozzo | Published: 8/2/2022
Forty members of Congress asked the IRS and the Treasury Department to investigate what the lawmakers termed an “alarming pattern” of right-wing advocacy groups registering with the tax agency as churches, a move that allows the organizations to shield themselves from some financial reporting requirements and makes it easier to avoid audits. The representatives raised transparency concerns following a ProPublica story about the Family Research Council, a right-wing Christian think tank based in Washington, D.C., getting reclassified as a church.
Campaign Finance Watchdog Alleges WinRed Processed Billions in Political Contributions Without Disclosing Operating Expenses
OpenSecrets – Taylor Giorno | Published: 7/29/2022
Online Republican fundraising platform WinRed may have failed to fully disclose operating expenses, the Campaign Legal Center alleges in a new FEC complaint. The self-described “#1 fundraising technology used by conservatives” reported less than $2,700 in operating expenses since January 2019 despite processing over $2.8 billion in earmarked contributions, and $212 million in contribution refunds, during that period, according to the complaint.
Ex-White House Counsel Subpoenaed by Federal Grand Jury Investigating Jan. 6 Attack
ABC News – Katherine Faulders, John Santucci, and Alexander Mallin | Published: 8/2/2022
A federal grand jury subpoenaed former Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone in its investigation into the assault on the U.S. Capitol and efforts to overturn the 2020 election. The move to subpoena Cipollone signals an even more dramatic escalation in the Justice Department’s investigation of the attack than previously known, following appearances by senior members of former Vice President Mike Pence’s staff before the grand jury.
First Jan. 6 Defendant Convicted at Trial Receives Longest Sentence of 7 Years
MSN – Spencer Hsu and Tom Jackman (Washington Post) | Published: 8/1/2022
The first U.S. Capitol riot defendant convicted at trial was sentenced to more than seven years in prison, the longest punishment handed down to date over the January6, 2021, attack on Congress. Guy Reffitt, a recruiter for the right-wing Three Percenters movement in Texas, was convicted of five felony offenses, including obstruction of Congress as it met to certify the 2020 election result, interfering with police, and carrying a firearm to a riot, and threatening his teenage son, who turned him in to the FBI.
Hot Mic Captured Gaetz Assuring Stone of Pardon, Discussing Mueller Redactions
Anchorage Daily News – John Swaine and Dalton Bennett (Washington Post) | Published: 7/30/2022
As Roger Stone prepared to stand trial in 2019, complaining he was under pressure from federal prosecutors to incriminate Donald Trump, a close ally of the president repeatedly assured Stone “the boss” would likely grant him clemency if he were convicted, a recording shows. U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz predicted Stone would be found guilty at his trial but would not “do a day” in prison. Gaetz was apparently unaware they were being recorded by documentary filmmakers following Stone, whom special counsel Robert Mueller had charged with obstruction of a congressional investigation.
Jan. 6 Text Messages Wiped from Phones of Key Trump Pentagon Officials
CNN – Tierny Sneed and Zachary Cohen | Published: 8/2/2022
The Department of Defense (DOD) wiped the phones of top departing DOD and Army officials at the end of the Trump administration, deleting any texts from key witnesses to events surrounding the attack on the U.S. Capitol. American Oversight filed a Freedom of Information suit seeking the records from former acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller, former chief of staff Kash Patel, and former Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy, among others. Miller, Patel, and McCarthy have been viewed as crucial witnesses for understanding government’s response to the assault and former President Trump’s reaction to the breach.
Justice Department Details Threats Against Election Workers
Associated Press News – Marina Villeneuve | Published: 8/3/2022
The U.S. Justice Department has charged five people for making threats of violence against election workers amid a rising wave of harassment and intimidation tied to the 2020 presidential race, a top official told the Senate Judiciary Committee. Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite said the department has investigated more than 1,000 harassing and threatening messages directed at election workers. Roughly 100 of those have risen to the level of potential prosecution.
Russian National Charged with U.S. Political Influence Operation
MSN – Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 7/29/2022
Federal authorities charged a Russian man with a years-long malign influence campaign targeting American politics – alleging he used American groups in Florida, Georgia, and California to sow discord and push pro-Russia propaganda. Aleksandr Viktorovich Ionov, who lives in Moscow, worked for nearly eight years with Russian officials to fund and direct the U.S. groups, according to the indictment. It does not name the groups, but charges Ionov also advised the campaigns of two unidentified candidates in Florida.
Secret Service’s ‘Ludicrous’ Deletion of Jan. 6 Phone Data Baffles Experts
MSN – Drew Harwell, Will Oremus, and Joseph Menn (Washington Post) | Published: 7/29/2022
Cybersecurity experts and former government leaders are stunned by how poorly the Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security handled the preservation of officials’ text messages and other data from around January 6, 2021, saying the top agencies entrusted with fighting cybercrime should never have bungled the simple task of backing up agents’ phones. Experts are divided over whether the disappearance of the phone data is a sign of incompetence, an intentional coverup, or some murky middle ground. But the failure has raised suspicions about the disposition of records whose preservation was mandated by federal law.
Several Election Deniers Backed by Trump Prevail in Hotly Contested Primaries
MSN – Hannah Knowles (Washington Post) | Published: 8/3/2022
Several election deniers backed by former President Trump prevailed in closely watched primaries on August 2, as a nationwide battle over the future of the GOP played out in state and federal races across five states. Primaries in these states as well as Kansas and Washington kicked off a final series of intraparty contests before the midterms that will determine control of Congress in the fall. It was unclear what the totality of the primaries would reveal about the influence of Trump and his ideas, with key contests yet to be settled.
The GOP Went to War Against Google Over Spam – and May Win
MSN – Isaac Stanley-Becker and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 7/29/2022
Many Republican lawmakers contend Google is suppressing the party’s campaign solicitations. Republicans have waged a pressure campaign that has included public Twitter offensives and private discussions with Google executives. The effort’s impact became apparent when Google asked the FEC to approve a pilot program that would exempt campaign emails from spam detection. The amount of political fundraising conducted over email and text has exploded in recent years, adding to the deluge of promotional messages swamping Americans every day. The full-court press drew on the GOP’s protest that Silicon Valley is biased against conservatives, a claim disputed by the companies.
The RNC ‘Election Integrity’ Official Appearing in DOJ’s Jan. 6 Subpoenas
MSN – Betsy Woodruff Swan (Politico) | Published: 7/30/2022
In addition to a group of former President Trump’s top lawyers, the Justice Department’s January 6 probe is also seeking communications to and from a Republican National Committee (RNC) staffer in a sensitive role. At least three witnesses in the investigation of so-called alternate electors in the 2020 election have received subpoenas demanding communications to and from Joshua Findlay, who is now the RNC’s national director for election integrity.
U.S. Sues Former Trump Aide Peter Navarro Over White House Emails
MSN – Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 8/3/2022
Peter Navarro, the former Trump economic adviser already facing trial on charges of contempt of Congress, was sued by the government over his refusal to turn over private emails he allegedly used to conduct White House business during the Trump administration. The lawsuit charges he “is wrongfully retaining Presidential records that are the property of the United States, and which constitute part of the permanent historical record of the prior administration.”
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – Arizona Officials Warned Fake Electors Plan Could ‘Appear Treasonous’
MSN – Maggie Haberman and Luke Broadwater (New York Times) | Published: 8/3/2022
Two Arizona Republicans recruited by allies of former President Trump to join an effort to keep him in office after he lost the 2020 election grew so concerned about the plan that they told lawyers working on it that they feared their actions could be seen as treason, according to emails. The scheme was part of a broader plan to falsely manufacture a victory for Trump by creating fake slates of electors in battleground states who would claim he had been the true winner. Some of the lawyers who undertook the effort doubted its legality.
California – Alameda County Sued by Anti-Affirmative Action Group Over Public Contracts Policy
MSN – Joseph Geha (Bay Area News Group) | Published: 7/31/2022
Alameda County’s efforts to ensure minority-owned and women-owned businesses get a share of public construction contracts violate the U.S. and California Constitution, according to a lawsuit. Plaintiffs say the county’s Public Works Agency and its General Services Agency both oversee similar programs that “force general contractors to discriminate against subcontractors” if they are not minority owned. The programs, which push contractors working on many projects to have at least 15 percent of the work done by minority-owned businesses and at least five percent done by women-owned businesses, amount to “government-sanctioned racial discrimination.”
California – Is It Too Easy for Write-In Candidates in California Elections?
CalMatters – Sameea Kamal | Published: 7/28/2022
In California elections, it only takes a handful of signatures and votes for legislative write-in candidates to get on the November ballot. While some candidates might spend millions of dollars or months campaigning, California’s top-two primary system means that in races with only one other candidate, it is possible for a write-in candidate to sneak into second place with very little support. For the June 7 primary, state Assembly and Senate candidates needed as few as 40 people to sign nomination papers to qualify as write-in candidates. No matter how few votes they won, as long as they finished in second, they advanced to the November election.
California – L.A. City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas Sues City Hall, Seeking to Restore His Pay
MSN – David Zahniser (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 7/28/2022
Los Angeles City Councilperson Mark Ridley-Thomas filed a lawsuit seeking to have a judge strike down the city’s decision to cut off his pay while he fights federal corruption charges. In his filing, Ridley-Thomas called the decision by City Controller Ron Galperin to terminate his pay and health benefits “unauthorized, unlawful and politicized.” Ridley-Thomas said he is barred under city law from seeking outside income while he fights the charges. He also contends that Galperin’s actions violated the City Charter.
California – SF Arts Commission Director Used Grant Money for a Hawaii Vacation
San Francisco Examiner – Thomas Hughes (Bay City News Foundation) | Published: 8/2/2022
A former director of the San Francisco Arts Commission was fined $20,000 after she admitted diverting grant money to finance a personal vacation in Hawaii. The grant had been intended for a local Native and Indigenous artist and was awarded to fund a short documentary exploring pre-colonial connections across the Pacific. Instead, the money was used by former arts director Barbara Mumby-Huerta to pay travel expenses to Hawaii for herself, her daughter, and a friend, a trip in which no work was ever produced.
Connecticut – Connecticut Port Authority Reveals Which Employees Accepted Gifts
Yahoo – Greg Smith (The Day) | Published: 8/1/2022
At the request of two state senators, the Connecticut Port Authority (CPA) has released the names of its employees that improperly accepted gifts from a company vying for authority business. Former Executive Director Evan Matthews and Andrew Lavigne, the CPA’s current manager of business development and special projects, each received a $625 ticket from Seabury Maritime Capital to a May 2019 National Hockey League playoff game in Boston along with food and beverages from a restaurant.
Florida – Ethics Panel Hearing Set for Bristol City Clerk Who Allegedly Left IOUs for City Cash
Yahoo News – Karl Etters (Tallahassee Democrat) | Published: 8/1/2022
A state ethics panel found probable cause for a complaint against Bristol’s city clerk that alleges she left IOU notes for money she took from the cash drawer in City Hall. The panel recommended a formal public hearing for City Clerk Robin Hatcher. Deputy City Clerk Nichole Day said she saw Hatcher take $200 from the city’s cash drawer and replace it with a slip of paper “stating she had taken cash and would repay it later,” according to the complaint. Hatcher said she intended to donate $200 of her own money to the high school weightlifting team but didn’t have a chance to get to the bank, taking city money instead.
Florida – Florida Power & Light Operates an Exclusive, Invite-Only Lounge for Lawmakers and Lobbyists
MSN – Matt Dixon and Bruce Ritchie (Politico) | Published: 8/2/2022
Florida Power & Light operates an event space located on the third floor of the company’s Tallahassee offices. The exclusive lounge is used by company officials to host lobbyists and the lawmakers whose votes they need, according to sources. Revelations of the party space come as the utility is mired in scandals over its aggressive approach to lobbying and public advocacy. State Rep. Anna Eskamani said the energy company’s exclusive lounge raises concerns it is illicitly influencing lawmakers and violating the state’s gift ban and open meetings laws.
Florida – Intrigue Grows in Florida’s ‘Ghost’ Candidate Case as Prosecutors Seek More Info
Bradenton Herald – Ana Ceballos (Miami Herald) | Published: 7/30/2022
Prosecutors subpoenaed records related to a $600,000 money transfer between “dark money” organizations tied to an ongoing Miami-Dade County criminal case surrounding “ghost candidates” in the 2020 election. The transfer is adding a new layer of intrigue to a years-long question into who paid for thousands of political mail advertisements to promote sham no-party candidates in three contested Florida races that were key to helping solidify the Republican majority in the state Senate.
Florida – Judge Candidate Says Ivey Offered to Help Secure Appointment If She Dropped Out of Race
Yahoo News – Eric Rogers and Bobby Block (Florida Today) | Published: 8/3/2022
In the weeks since two Republican candidates said Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey offered to securer them political jobs worth up to $50,000 a year if they left their races and backed his favored contenders, the election meddling controversy has widened. Now, another candidate has come forward, saying Ivey also tried to interfere in her race for county judge and offered to help secure her a spot as the county’s next state attorney if she agreed to drop out of the contest.
Georgia – Georgia Ethics Board Moves Forward Against Abrams-Linked Groups
MSN – Margaret Newkirk (Bloomberg) | Published: 8/1/2022
Georgia’s ethics commission will move ahead with a case against two groups founded by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, saying it was likely they violated campaign finance law by helping her first run for governor four years ago. The ruling paves the way for a final hearing and decision that could bring the biggest ethics fine in state history, just as the rematch between Abrams and Republican Governor Brian Kemp moves into its final three months.
Illinois – Ex-Speaker Michael Madigan’s Pension Payments Balloon as Judge Grants Defense Until Next Year to File Motions in Racketeering Case
MSN – Ray Long and Jason Meisner (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 8/3/2022
As a federal judge granted a lengthy extension for Michael Madigan’s racketeering case, the former Illinois House speaker’s state pension has risen to nearly $149,000 a year, a more than $63,000 increase since he retired last year. The windfall is the result of both Madigan’s 50-plus years in the House and an often-beneficial state pension formula for lawmakers that Madigan himself helped push through. It also comes as the former lawmaker continues to battle a federal bribery-related case that will likely not see any significant court action until next year.
Illinois – Federal Lawsuit Challenges New Limits on Contributions to Illinois Judicial Candidates
MSN – Dan Petrella (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 8/3/2022
A federal lawsuit challenges the restrictions on campaign contributions to judicial candidates in Illinois on First Amendment grounds. Democrats in the Legislature passed a bill last year that bars judicial candidates from receiving campaign money from out-of-state contributors and groups that do not disclose their donors. This year, lawmakers banned donations in excess of $500,000 per election cycle from a single source to independent expenditure committees set up to support or oppose judicial candidates.
Kansas – Kansans Resoundingly Reject Amendment Aimed at Restricting Abortion Rights
MSN – Annie Gowan and Colby Itkowitz (Washington Post) | Published: 8/2/2022
Kansas voters sent a resounding message about their desire to protect abortion rights, rejecting a ballot measure in a conservative state with deep ties to the anti-abortion movement that would have allowed the Republican-controlled Legislature to tighten restrictions or ban the procedure outright. The results bolster Democrats’ hopes that the historic U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade will animate their voters in an otherwise difficult election year for their party. The vote signals abortion is an energizing issue that could affect turnout in the November midterms.
Kentucky – Louisville Candidates Got New Ethics Rules. Why Weren’t They Followed?
WDRB – Marcus Green | Published: 7/29/2022
Metro Council approved sweeping changes to Louisville’s ethics rules in March, broadening what must be reported by candidates for key offices and other top elected and appointed officials. Once the ordinance took effect March 8, it gave candidates in the May primaries until April 30 to file the new financial disclosures with the city’s ethics commission. But that did not happen. The ethics commission ultimately extended the filing deadline until after the primary, a decision that made the disclosures a non-factor for voters and campaigns alike.
Louisiana – Karen Carter Peterson Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud. She Will Be Sentenced on Dec. 7
NOLA.com – Tyler Bridges and Gordon Russell | Published: 8/1/2022
Karen Carter Peterson pleaded guilty in federal court to defrauding campaign donors, putting an ignominious end to a political career that saw her serve 22 years in the state Legislature and chair the Louisiana Democratic Party for nearly a decade. Prosecutors said Peterson helped herself to about $147,357 in funds that did not belong to her, from both her re-election campaigns and money given to the party. Peterson spent a “substantial amount” of that money at casinos, both “before and after her gambling addiction diagnosis,” according to court documents.
Missouri – How a Trump Endorsement Scramble in Mo. Ended in Absurdity: Vote ‘ERIC’
MSN – Michael Scherer, Ashley Parker, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 8/2/2022
With two words, Donald Trump launched a wild scramble that Republican leaders had hoped to avoid: “sometime today!” the former president wrote on Truth Social declaring his plans endorse in Missouri’s U.S. Senate primary. Trump had not yet decided which candidate to back when he published those words, according to interviews with numerous officials familiar with the chaos that ensued. So began an eight-hour deadline to win over Trump’s favor before primary day, a decision that in the mind of some Republicans could have undermined GOP hopes for taking control of the Senate this fall.
Missouri – St. Louis County Council Ethics Committee Wants Closer Look at Colleague’s Weed Work
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Joe Holleman | Published: 7/30/2022
Not only did a St. Louis County Council committee vote to delve deeper into Councilperson Lisa Clancy’s ties to the marijuana industry, it also widened its scope to include several other larger players involved. The council’s ethics committee said it wants to continue researching whether Clancy violated conflict-of-interest rules in 2019. The specific issue being examined by the committee is that Clancy was paid about $4,500 by a law firm to work on marijuana license applications at the same time she was actively working to influence the county’s zoning ordinance regulating marijuana locations.
New Mexico – Former New Mexico Cannabis Director Joins Private Firm, Raising Ethics Debate
MSN – Carlos Segarra (KRQE) | Published: 8/2/2022
After spending less than a year developing and executing the state’s cannabis rules, New Mexico’s former Cannabis Control Division (CCD) director is joining a private cannabis firm. A consultant agency, Weeds, hired Kristen Thomson, leading some to debate the ethics of the move. Weeds also hired Bobbi Martinez, the former compliance manager for the CCD.
New York – Hochul Campaign Donor Lands Multi-Billion-Dollar State Contract
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 7/31/2022
The New York Department of Health is awarding a multi-billion-dollar transportation contract to a company owned by a significant campaign donor to Gov. Kathy Hochul, who was also the beneficiary of a campaign fundraiser the bidder hosted as the procurement process was nearing its conclusion. Records show Russ Maxwell spent $4,500 to pay for food, catering, and flowers for a Hochul fundraiser. He also gave Hochul an additional $10,000 that day, and his husband, Morgan McDole, gave $20,000. Maxwell donated $10,000 and McDole $20,000 to the state Democratic Party, which is closely aligned with Hochul’s campaign.
Ohio – Feds Ask Judge to Sanction Ex-Lobbyist Charged in House Bill 6 Case for Publishing Key Witness’s Personal Information Online
MSN – Andrew Tobias (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 8/2/2022
Federal prosecutors are asking a judge to sanction an ex-lobbyist charged with bribery in the Ohio House Bill 6 corruption case for using his legal defense website to publish the personal information of a key witness in the government’s case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Singer said Matt Borges’s website, until he removed it, contained unredacted copies of the witness’s Social-Security card, tax forms, and driver’s license. Using the pseudonym “CHS-1” to refer to the witness, Tyler Fehrman, Singer said the incident was an intentional effort by Borges to intimidate and retaliate against Fehrman by exposing him to identity theft.
Ohio – Subpoenaed State Records Detail Former Top Regulator’s Work to Protect Nuclear Bailout
Cleveland Plain Dealer – Andrew Tobias | Published: 8/1/2022
Records the FBI requested last year detail the steps a former top state official took to try to save Ohio’s nuclear bailout law after it was threatened by a federal regulatory decision. The newly released records show how then-Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Chairperson Sam Randazzo traveled to meet executives with Energy Harbor, the owner of the two nuclear plants bailed out by House Bill 6. Randazzo helped set up the meeting hours after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a new rule meant to discourage states from subsidizing their electricity industry, as Ohio had done with House Bill 6.
Pennsylvania – Dr. Oz’s Dark History of Promoting Companies He Was Quietly Invested In
MSN – Sam Brody (Daily Beast) | Published: 8/1/2022
Dr. Mehmet Oz built a national brand on dispensing surprising, and surprisingly simple, remedies for widespread health concerns. In one emblematic case, viewers may have surmised that Oz’s video plugging the probiotic TruBiotics was, essentially, an ad. What they were not aware of, however, is Oz was a member of the board of directors of the brand’s parent company, PanTheryx. He holds a stake in the business worth as much as $1 million. Oz is the Republican nominee for a U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania – Pa. Liquor Control Board Officials Got Dibs on Pappy Van Winkle, Other High-End Bourbon Lottery Leftovers
MSN – Jan Murphy (Pennlive.com) | Published: 8/2/2022
Thousands of Pennsylvanians try their luck at entering the Liquor Control Board’s limited-release lotteries with hopes of getting the chance to buy a bottle of high-end limited quantity wine or spirits. In 2019 and 2020, though, for Liquor Control Board member Michael Negra and four of the agency’s top-level employees, luck was not needed to claim their bottle or two. Negra and the employees were given the chance to buy some of the coveted bottles left over from lotteries before the public even knew there were still bottles up for grabs. A State Ethics Commission investigation found this sharing of confidential information did not violate the law.
Texas – Aide to Houston Mayor Resigns After Reportedly Pleading Guilty to Public Corruption
Houston Public Media – Adam Zuyanich and Haya Panjwani | Published: 8/3/2022
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said neither he nor anyone on his executive staff had prior knowledge of a federal public corruption case involving one of his top aides, who pleaded guilty recently and subsequently resigned. William-Paul Thomas, who has worked as the mayor’s liaison to the city council since before Turner was elected in 2015, admitted to participating in a conspiracy to accept a cash bribe, according to The Houston Chronicle.
Texas – Texas Ethics Commission Wants Funds for Tech Upgrades after Beto O’Rourke Crashes Servers
MSN – Allie Morris (Dallas Morning News) | Published: 8/2/2022
After Beto O’Rourke’s massive fundraising report overwhelmed state servers in July, the Texas Ethics Commission wants $750,000 to upgrade its aging technology ahead of the midterm elections. Without change, the system “will likely fail again” when the next round of campaign finance reports are due in October, commission leaders warned in a letter to the Legislative Budget Board. The issue is coming to a head as campaign finance reports grow ever more voluminous, the letter said, and the commission’s decade-old servers cannot keep up.
Wisconsin – Memo Shows Wis. GOP Lawyer Privately Opposed Decertifying Biden’s 2020 Win
MSN – Patrick Marley (Washington Post) | Published: 8/2/2022
Michael Gableman, a former state Supreme Court justice hired by Republican lawmakers to probe the 2020 election, said in March that Wisconsin should take a “hard look” at canceling Joe Biden’s victory and revoking the state’s 10 electoral college votes. The comment drew applause from a packed hearing room in the state Capitol and praise from former President Trump, whose allies have called for throwing out the results in Wisconsin and other battleground states even though constitutional scholars have scoffed at the notion as absurd. But a newly unearthed memo shows Gableman soon offered a far different analysis in private.
Wisconsin – Wisconsin DOJ Probes Voter Fraud Stunt as Election Officials Debate Absentee Rules
MSN – Patrick Marley (Washington Post) | Published: 7/29/2022
With a few clicks of a mouse, a conservative activist sent Wisconsin’s elections apparatus into disarray ahead of the August 9 primary. Harry Wait said he requested absentee ballots in the names of two high-profile politicians be sent to his own address to try to show voter fraud is easy to perform. The stunt showed one person and a computer or smartphone could jolt the state’s elections system and forced officials to weigh making changes to the state’s absentee voting procedures and whether doing so would make it harder to vote. It also drew the attention of law enforcement.
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