March 14, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Colorado: “Colorado Campaign Donation Limits Stand – for Now – After Federal Court Ruling” by Sandra Fish for Colorado Sun Florida: “Disney Suspends Political Donations in Florida After Bill Restricting LGBTQ Discussion” by Kelsey Ables (Washington Post) for […]
Colorado: “Colorado Campaign Donation Limits Stand – for Now – After Federal Court Ruling” by Sandra Fish for Colorado Sun
Florida: “Disney Suspends Political Donations in Florida After Bill Restricting LGBTQ Discussion” by Kelsey Ables (Washington Post) for MSN
New York: “State Board of Elections Begins Enforcing Campaign Finance Disclosure Laws” by Sam Mellins for New York Focus
National: “Inside the Effort to Disbar Attorneys Who Backed Bogus Election Lawsuits” by Tierny Sneed (CNN) for MSN
Texas: “A Texas County Didn’t Count 10,000 Ballots. Now the Parties Are at War Over Who’s to Blame.” by Amy Gardner (Washington Post) for MSN
Hawaii: “Honolulu Councilwoman Tupola Likely Violated Ethics Laws, Commission Finds” by Christina Jedra for Honolulu Civil Beat
National: “Exxon Mobil’s Lobbying Report Sets Benchmark, ESG Advocates Say” by Ellen Meyers (Roll Call) for MSN
Ohio: “PUCO Orders Long-Awaited Audit into Whether FirstEnergy Used Customer Money for HB6 Lobbying” by Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) for MSN
March 11, 2022 •
National/Federal Big K Street Shops Will Close Offices in Russia MSN – Kate Ackley (Roll Call) | Published: 3/9/2022 Some of K Street’s biggest firms said they were winding down, or at least reevaluating, operations in Russia in response to the […]
Big K Street Shops Will Close Offices in Russia
MSN – Kate Ackley (Roll Call) | Published: 3/9/2022
Some of K Street’s biggest firms said they were winding down, or at least reevaluating, operations in Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine and sanctions that followed. Ceasing operations in Moscow are Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and Squire Patton Boggs, two of Washington’s long-standing lobbying and legal powerhouses. Greenberg Traurig, which has an office in Poland but not in Russia, said it planned to donate up to $2 million for relief efforts and offer pro bono legal services for Ukrainian refugees.
Inside the Jan. 6 Committee’s Effort to Trace Every Dollar Raised and Spent Based on Trump’s False Election Claims
MSN – Josh Dawsey, Jacqueline Alemany, and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) | Published: 3/8/2022
The House select committee investigating the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol wants to know whether the Trump campaign, its affiliated super PACs, the Republican National Committee, and protest organizers knowingly used false claims the election was stolen to dupe donors and raise large sums of cash. The primary objective is to determine whether email solicitations spreading false claims of election fraud served as a source of misinformation, prompting the need to make proposals for strengthening campaign finance laws. The committee will also consider if any laws were broken and refer those to the Justice Department.
Judge Denies Fox News Motion to Dismiss Defamation Suit by Election-Tech Company Smartmatic
MSN – Jeremy Barr (Washington Post) | Published: 3/9/2022
A judge allowed an election technology company’s $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News to proceed though he dismissed specific claims made against host Jeanine Pirro and two of the network’s guests. New York Supreme Court Judge David Cohen denied Fox’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, in which the company, Smartmatic, alleged the network and several of its on-air personalities “decimated its future business prospects” by falsely accusing it of rigging the 2020 election against Donald Trump.
Lobbyists Urge Lawmakers to Let Them Roam the Capitol Again
MSN – Kate Ackley (Roll Call) | Published: 3/4/2022
After two years of pandemic- and insurrection-related security restrictions, some lobbyists are putting their advocacy skills toward an effort to reopen the legislative buildings on Capitol Hill widely to tour groups and lobbying coalitions. Currently, lobbyists may conduct in-person meetings on Capitol Hill, so long as a congressional aide signs them in and escorts them around the buildings. Not all lobbyists believe the Capitol is ready for an onslaught of visitors.
Republican Clash Shows the Enduring Appeal, and Dubious Benefit, of Campaign Platforms
MSN – Mike DeBonis and Marianna Sotomayor (Washington Post) | Published: 3/3/2022
Political manifestos like U.S. Sen. Rick Scott’s “Resuce America” plan have proliferated over the past three decades, becoming a staple of party messaging, an instrument of policy development and, in some cases, a vehicle for personal ambitions. But since 1994, when Republicans rode their “Contract With America” to their first House majority in 40 years, they have been increasingly ignored by voters, mocked by observers, and shown to be largely irrelevant to the task of actually winning elections. Yet party leaders keep sinking untold time and effort into agendas that have produced uneven dividends.
Russian-American Charged with Acting as Illegal Russian Agent in the US
CNN – Sonia Moghe | Published: 3/8/2022
A dual Russian-American citizen was charged with acting as a spy in the U.S., according to court filings that say she ran organizations that “sought to spread Russian propaganda.” Elena Branson was charged with conspiring to act illegally as an agent of the Russian government, willfully failing to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, and other charges. Branson worked on behalf of the Russian government and officials to advance their interests in the U.S. Prosecutors allege she coordinated meetings for Russians to lobby American officials and businesspeople, and operated groups to publicly promote Russian government policies.
Supreme Court Denies GOP Requests to Block New Congressional Maps in N.C., Pa.
MSN – Robert Barnes (Washington Post) | Published: 3/7/2022
The U.S. Supreme Court refused requests from Republicans in North Carolina and Pennsylvania to block new congressional maps approved by courts in those states, meaning the fall elections will be held in districts more favorable to Democrats than the ones created by the GOP-led state Legislatures. Three of the court’s dissenting conservatives – Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch – said they would have intervened, and they thought the theory advanced by the challengers was probably correct and they are eager to consider such a challenge.
Texas Militia Member Convicted on All Charges in First Jan. 6 Trial
MSN – Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein (Politico) | Published: 3/8/2022
Guy Reffitt, a Texas militia member who was at the head of an early wave of rioters who stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021, was found guilty of all five felony charges he faced related to the assault, including obstruction of an official proceeding, carrying a firearm during the attack, and threatening witnesses. The verdict is an important milestone for the Justice Department in the first jury trial since the attack that threatened the presidential transfer of power. The Reffitt trial is the first of potentially dozens stemming from the insurrection.
U.S. Judge Dismisses Most Serious Federal Charge Against Jan. 6 Capitol Riot Defendant
MSN – Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 3/8/2022
A federal judge ruled the Justice Department cannot charge January 6 defendants with obstructing Congress’s certification of President Biden’s 2020 election victory unless they tampered with official documents or records in the attack on the U.S. Capitol. In striking down the lead charge brought in the government’s Capitol siege investigation, punishable by up to 20 years in prison, District Court Judge Carl Nichols broke with all other U.S. trial judges in Washington who have ruled on the question in Capitol riot cases to date. The decision tosses a wrench into the felony prosecutions of as many as 275 arrested individuals.
From the States and Municipalities
Alaska – Decision Lifts Certain Contribution Limits in Alaska
Associated Press News – Becky Rohrer | Published: 3/4/2022
Alaska will have unlimited campaign contributions in most instances after the Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) declined to impose new caps after old limits were struck down as unconstitutional. A draft opinion suggested the limits in place before those that were struck down “apply as adjusted for inflation,” which included proposed limits of $1,500 per calendar year for individuals to candidates. Campaigns were to adhere to the draft opinion until APOC weighed in. The commission also declined to index donation amounts for inflation. APOC said there were legal questions about whether it had the power to do those things.
Arizona – Arizona Lawmaker Speaks to White Nationalists, Calls for Violence – and Sets Fundraising Records
MSN – Beth Reinhard and Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) | Published: 3/8/2022
State Sen. Wendy Rogers, a Republican lawmaker who represents tens of thousands of constituents, has found a rising national profile as a face of the radicalized wing of the Republican Party. After a year of fanning bogus allegations about election fraud and other false claims, she is the most successful fundraiser in the Arizona Legislature. While her support for former President Trump’s election falsehoods puts her in line with many Republicans, Rogers has moved farther to the edges of American politics: calling for jailing and executing her political opponents, identifying herself as a member of the Oath Keepers militia group, and attending a conference organized by a group linked to QAnon.
California – Candidate Alleges Sheriff Villanueva’s Radio Show Violates Election, Broadcasting Rules
MSN – Alene Tchekmedyian (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 3/8/2022
A candidate for Los Angeles County sheriff filed complaints with state and federal agencies alleging that Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s weekly radio show on violates election and broadcasting rules. County Sheriff’s Cmdr. Eli Vera’s complaint to the California Fair Political Practices Commission alleges the show amounted to an illegal campaign donation by KFI to Villanueva. Vera said KFI charges more than $1,000 for a 30-second radio ad, which he said would put Villanueva’s segments well above the $3,000 limit a person or entity can contribute to a candidate.
Colorado – Grand Jury Indicts Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters and Deputy Clerk in Election System Breach Investigation
Canon City Daily Camera – Saja Hindi (Denver Post) | Published: 3/9/2022
A grand jury returned 10 criminal counts against Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters and six counts against Deputy Clerk Belinda Knisley in its investigation of potential election equipment security breach. The charges stem from local, state, and federal investigations launched into the potential breach after the Colorado secretary of state sued Peters, a 2020 election denier, and Knisley over allegedly allowing an unauthorized man access to make copies of voting equipment servers. Passwords from the equipment were later posted online by Ron Watkins, a leading figure in the QAnon conspiracy theory.
Florida – Federal Grand Jury Indicts Former JEA Executives on Conspiracy, Wire Fraud
Yahoo News – Nate Monroe and David Bauerlein (Florida Times-Union) | Published: 3/7/2022
A grand jury indictment charged former JEA Chief Executive Officer Aaron Zahn and finance chief Ryan Wannemacher with conspiracy and wire fraud, casting the two men as the architects of a brazen scheme to secretly extract tens of millions of dollars of personal profit out of the city-owned utility before selling it to a private operator. Prosecutors allege almost every aspect of the failed effort to privatize one of Jacksonville’s largest and most important public agencies was a fraud, echoing the past findings of auditors, outside attorneys, a city council investigation, and media reporting.
Florida – Florida Lawmakers Approve an Elections Police Force, the First of Its Kind in the U.S.
MSN – Lori Rozsa (Washington Post) | Published: 3/9/2022
Two months after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis proposed a plan for a powerful elections police force that would answer to him, state lawmakers passed a watered-down version that barely resembles what the governor asked for, but still worries voting rights advocates. DeSantis had asked for nearly $6 million to hire 52 people, including sworn officers, to investigate alleged violations of elections laws. The Republican-led House and Senate instead gave him about $2.5 million for the new Office of Election Crimes and Security.
Florida – Senate Passes Citizen Initiative Limits on Out-of-State Influence, Awaits House Answer
Florida Politics – Renzo Downey | Published: 3/7/2022
A bill to curb out-of-state influence in the ballot initiative process was amended after it was struck down last year. Because senators approved changes they hoped would avoid a second injunction in the courts, the bill must next return to the House. The proposal would limit non-Floridians from donating more than $3,000, and out-of-state political committees from receiving donations worth more than $3,000, when it comes to ballot initiatives in the petition-gathering process.
Florida – Tallahassee Commissioners Move Some Ethics Changes, Shoot Down Lobbyist Logs
Florida Politics – Tristan Wood | Published: 3/9/2022
The Tallahassee City Commission moved forward with some ethics ordinance changes but decided against making major changes to lobbying rules. The commission voted to implement new language in the misuse of public position ordinance so that it no longer requires intent. Commissioners did ban city lobbyists from being paid contingency fees but voted down other changes, such as amending the city’s definition of lobbyist.
Florida – Tallahassee Officials’ Trip After FSU Stadium Vote Raises Questions
stuartabsolon.com – Jeff Burlew (Tallahassee Democrat) | Published: 3/8/2022
The morning after a contentious meeting to finalize funding for Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee City Commissioner Jack Porter ended up on the same flight as a group of public officials, including Leon County Administrator Vince Long and City Manager Reese Goad, who collectively oversee Blueprint, an agency that implements infrastructure projects in the area. Also on the flight was State Attorney Jack Campbell and Ben Pingree, who directs the city and county department of planning, land management, and community enhancement. The trip on its face did not appear to run afoul of Florida’s Sunshine Law, said Barbara Petersen, executive director of the Florida Center for Government Accountability.
Georgia – First Trial in Atlanta Corruption Investigation Set to Start
Yahoo News – Kate Brumback (Associated Press) | Published: 3/8/2022
A political consultant who was a top aide to former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is the first person set to go to trial in a long-running federal investigation into corruption at City Hall. Mitzi Bickers helped Reed win election in 2009 and worked as the city’s director of human services. She is accused, among other things, of taking bribes to use her influence to steer city work to two contractors. Others ensnared in the investigation have pleaded guilty and been sent to prison, but Bickers has maintained her innocence.
Georgia – Kemp Appeals Ruling on Leadership Committee Funds in Primary
Yahoo News – Kate Brumback (Associated Press) | Published: 3/9/2022
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is appealing a federal judge’s ruling that says a “leadership committee” the governor created under a new state law cannot spend money to get him reelected during the Republican primary. U.S. District Court Judge Mark Cohen’s ruling came in a lawsuit filed by former U.S. Sen. David Perdue, who is challenging the governor in the primary. Perdue and his campaign allege the law gives Kemp an unfair fundraising and spending advantage in the primary.
Illinois – Former Sen. Tom Cullerton Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement
Illinois Newsroom – Peter Hancock (Capital News Illinois) | Published: 3/8/2022
Former Illinois Sen. Tom Cullerton pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement and could face more than a year in federal prison. Cullerton admitted he received pay and benefits from the Teamsters union during 2015 while doing little or no work. In addition to his salary, prosecutors alleged, Cullerton also received bonuses and health care benefits. Cullerton was indicted in 2019 on 40 counts of embezzlement, one for each biweekly paycheck he received from January 2015 through January 2016, a period of time when he also served in the state Senate.
Illinois – Former Veterans Affairs Chief Wrote Checks Totaling $50,000 to Her Mom from Her Political Fund
Better Government Association – Rachel Hinton | Published: 3/2/2022
The former head of the Illinois’ Veterans Affairs office used her campaign fund to write two checks totaling $50,000 to her mother, a move state elections officials say could be a violation of election laws. Linda Chapa LaVia said the checks, logged as January expenditures in her required campaign filings, were to repay a loan her mother made to help her start her political career about two decades ago. But records show her campaign made no disclosure of a loan to her committee, launched ahead of her successful campaign to become a state representative. It also does not show up in the original documents creating her fundraising committee.
Kansas – Lawmakers May Change How Kansas Supreme Court Justices Are Picked as Redistricting Case Looms
Yahoo News – Andrew Bahl (Topeka Capital-Journal) | Published: 3/7/2022
Lawmakers are considering changes to a six-decade-old system of selecting judges to the Kansas Supreme Court, at a time when the high court is on the cusp of hearing a landmark challenge to a set of GOP-authored congressional maps. Republican legislators insist the renewed push to end so-called merit selection of judges is unrelated to the redistricting lawsuits moving through the court system, which are all-but-certain to eventually arrive at the Supreme Court. They argue the move is needed to ensure Kansans have a voice in selecting jurists on the state’s highest court, either directly or via members of the Senate.
Kentucky – Metro Council Approves New Financial Disclosure Rules for Louisville Officials
WFPL – Roberto Roldan | Published: 3/4/2022
Elected officials in Louisville will now have to make yearly disclosures of their financial and business ties under new rules approved by Metro Council. The requirement will also apply to candidates for public office and city workers who can award contracts. City officials are already required to recuse themselves from making legal or contract decisions if they have a conflict-of-interest. But previously, there was no mandate for them to report much of their finances, making it hard to know when a conflict existed.
Massachusetts – State Senate Hires a Pay Consultant in Wake of Report That Says Staff Pay ‘Breaks with Best Practice’
MSN – Samantha Gross (Boston Globe) | Published: 3/3/2022
A salary study commissioned by the Massachusetts Senate but never publicly released found fault with the chamber’s hiring and pay practices for its staffers, concluding the approach “can be perceived as lacking fairness” and may lead to “problematic staff turnover.” Fourteen current and former legislative staff said the pay inequities are driving high turnover that hinders the Legislature’s ability to perform its basic functions, such as serving constituents and drafting legislation.
Michigan – Michigan Redistricting Panel Finished Maps Month Ago. Why Is It Still Meeting?
Bridge Michigan – Sergio Martínez-Beltrán | Published: 3/8/2022
Despite approving the new congressional and state legislative maps over two months ago, the Michigan redistricting commission continues to meet, and commissioners continue to get paid. That is partly because there is no clear expiration date for the group created in 2018 by a voter-approved constitutional amendment that some observers and experts now say was too vague.
Nevada – Judge Blocks GOP-Backed Redistricting Lawsuit for 2022 Election
Nevada Independent – Riley Snider | Published: 3/9/2022
Republican-backed efforts to challenge Nevada’s electoral maps in court on the heels of redistricting are likely on hold. A decision by Senior District Court Judge Robert Estes will have the likely effect of keeping the new legislative district maps, which largely favor Democrats, in place for the 2022 election. Estes said it would be “not fair” to interrupt the ongoing election process and two-week candidate filing period and the “election is going to proceed” under the boundary lines adopted after November’s special legislative session.
New York – Cuomo Doesn’t Say Whether He’s Running for Office. The Board of Elections Implies He Is.
Albany Times Union – Joshua Solomon | Published: 3/8/2022
Despite calls to investigate the use of campaign money for former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s recent ads, the New York State Board of Elections will not be doing so. Cuomo has been mounting a public-relations campaign akin to a political one recently. He has run ads intended to repair his reputation after his resignation amid mounting scandals. The board’s chief enforcement counsel said the law “does not prohibit a former office holder, or anyone else from using campaign funds to test the waters for a future political candidacy.” Whether Cuomo is intending to seek public office or using the pretense of a run to use his $16.4 million campaign fund to help clear his name is a moot point to good government groups.
New York – How the Manhattan D.A.’s Investigation into Donald Trump Unraveled
MSN – Ben Protess, William Rashbaum, and Jonah Bromwich (New York Times) | Published: 3/5/2022
Two senior prosecutors stood before the new Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, detailing their strategy for proving Donald Trump knew his annual financial statements were works of fiction. They needed Bragg to decide whether to seek criminal charges, but Bragg and his senior aides had doubts. They hammered Mark Pomerantz and Carey Dunne about whether they could show Trump had intended to break the law by inflating the value of his assets in the statements, a necessary element to prove the case. The meeting started a series of events that brought the investigation of Trump to a sudden halt, prompted the two prosecutors to resign.
New York – Inspector General Investigates JCOPE ‘Hot Mic’ Episode
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 3/7/2022
The state inspector general’s office is investigating a breach of confidentiality at the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, spurred by a complaint filed by an attorney representing former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. At an August 26 meeting, JCOPE had ended its opening public portion and gone into what was supposed to be a closed executive session. But the live audio could still be heard for another 10 minutes, and the public was privy to discussion of a confidential investigation related to Cuomo.
North Carolina – In 2020, Meadows Registered to Vote at N.C. Mobile Home That He Reportedly Never Lived In
MSN – Marianna Alfaro (Washington Post) | Published: 3/7/2022
Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows registered to vote in 2020 using the address of a North Carolina mobile home he has never lived in, a move scrutinized as potential voter fraud. According to the New Yorker, neither the home nor the address have belonged to him. It is illegal to provide false information on a voter registration, and while Americans can have multiple residences, they can only have one official domicile, which is tied to their voter registration. To register to vote in North Carolina, a citizen must have lived in the county where they are registering and have resided there for at least 30 days before the date of the election.
North Carolina – North Carolina Rep. Cawthorn’s Candidacy Challenge Blocked
MSN – Gary Robertson (Associated Press) | Published: 3/4/2022
A federal judge blocked an effort by North Carolina voters to disqualify U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn from seeking reelection this fall by alleging his involvement with the rally that preceded the U.S. Capitol riot in January 2021 made him ineligible. U.S. District Judge Richard Myers declared the state’s candidate challenge process did not apply to a portion of the 14th Amendment designed to prevent members of Congress who had fought on the Confederate side during the Civil War from returning to Congress.
Ohio – Gun Lobbyist Wrote GOP Lawmakers’ ‘Permitless Carry’ Speech, Document Data Shows
Ohio Capital Journal – Jake Zuckerman | Published: 3/4/2022
Last April, two Republicans in the Ohio House told lawmakers their “constitutional carry” bill would ease the bureaucratic hassle of undergoing training and a background check to obtain a license to carry a concealed weapon. But they did not write the speech. Chris Dorr, a lobbyist and executive director of Ohio Gun Owners, did. Metadata attached to a copy of their testimony on the Legislature’s website shows his name as the author of the document. Dorr writing the testimony is among the clearest signs of the close working relationship between gun lobbyists and Republican lawmakers.
Ohio – Ohio Regulatory Judge Steps Back from FirstEnergy’s HB 6 Cases After Subpoenaed Records Reveal His Role
Energy News Network – Kathiann Kowalski | Published: 3/7/2022
An Ohio regulatory official stepped away from four FirstEnergy regulatory cases after subpoenaed documents showed he took part in policy matters relating to House Bill 6, the nuclear and coal bailout law at the heart of an ongoing corruption scandal. The materials show Gregory Price, a hearing examiner overseeing House Bill 6 cases for the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), was included in policy communications with former PUCO Chairperson Sam Randazzo before the law passed and when bills to repeal it were proposed in the wake of the arrests of former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and others.
Tennessee – Ex-Tennessee Rep Pleads Guilty to Fraud in Consulting Scheme
MSN – Jonathan Mattise (Associated Press) | Published: 3/8/2022
Former Tennessee Rep. Robin Smith pleaded guilty to a federal wire fraud charge in connection with a political consulting firm involving state Rep. Glen Casada, who had served as House speaker. Prosecutors say Smith, Casada, and Casada’s then-chief of staff, Cade Cothren, used the firm to illegally funnel money to themselves through both campaign and taxpayer-funded work while concealing their involvement. Casada resigned from the top leadership post in 2019 after revelations he exchanged sexually explicit text messages about women with Cothren.
Texas – Ethics Commission Fines Republican $30K for Implying Black Democrats Endorsed Him
Yahoo News – TheGrio.com | Published: 3/8/2022
Eric Dick, who lost his bid for a seat on its Houston City Council in 2019, was fined $30,000 by the Texas Ethics Commission after falsely claiming he had been endorsed by a group of Black Democrats. Dick was running for office when he sent out an endorsement mailer by a group called the Harris County Black Democratic News. One side of the mailer had a banner that read, “Endorsement Announcement.” Dick originally told the commission he was not behind the mailer. But an investigation discovered he requested the mailer, approved the design, and arranged for its payment.
Vermont – Vermont Is One of Five States Without a Statutory Code of Ethics. A Bill in the Senate Seeks to Change That
Vermont Public Radio – Peter Hirschfeld | Published: 3/8/2022
The Vermont Senate is poised to advance legislation that would create a statutory code of ethics for elected officials and state employees, but government watchdogs continue to face resistance to an independent agency to enforce the code. Vermont is one of only five states without a statutory code of ethics. “In order to have a really solid framework for government ethics, an outside entity such as the ethics commission does need to have some kind of investigatory or enforcement power,” said Christina Sivret, executive director of the state Ethics Commission. “However, we envision that to be a very slow process. People are not even used to having a statutory code of ethics in place.”
Washington – WA Attorney General Bob Ferguson Announces $9M Settlement in Grocery Industry Campaign-Finance Case
Seattle Times – Jim Brunner | Published: 3/2/2022
A trade group that represents some of the biggest U.S. food companies agreed to pay $9 million for violations of Washington’s campaign finance law after the state Supreme Court upheld a penalty twice that much. The Consumer Brands Association will pay the fine and drop an expected appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The settlement will finally end a long legal battle stemming from a 2013 ballot initiative that sought to require labeling of genetically modified food products. Documents showed the group sought to conceal the identities of corporations that wrote big checks to fund its campaign.
Washington DC – The Tiny Radio Station Broadcasting Russian Propaganda in D.C.
WFPL – Paul Farhi (Washington Post) | Published: 3/7/2022
WZHF, a former Spanish-language station 11 miles east of the White House in Maryland’s Capitol Heights, is the flagship of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s effort to harness America’s radio airwaves to sell the Kremlin’s point of view. Despite periodic legal and political challenges, and the imposition of sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, the station has stayed on the air, broadcasting its Kremlin-approved message. The station is one of only five outlets in the U.S. that air English-language broadcasts of “Radio Sputnik,” produced in Moscow and Washington under the Russian government’s supervision.
Wyoming – Crossover Voting Ban Dies, Other Election Legislation Prevails
WyoFile – Maggie Mullen | Published: 3/9/2022
Election reforms trumpeted by the Wyoming Republican Party failed this session. Meanwhile, two campaign finance bills passed, along with one to ease the absentee ballot process for clerks. House Bill 49 requires any organization that receives or spends funds in excess of $1,000 for the purpose of influencing an election outcome to officially file as a political organization. House Bill 80 would increase the penalties for campaigns and PACs that do not file an itemized statement of contributions and expenditures.
March 10, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “Inside the Jan. 6 Committee’s Effort to Trace Every Dollar Raised and Spent Based on Trump’s False Election Claims” by Josh Dawsey, Jacqueline Alemany, and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) for MSN New York: “Cuomo Doesn’t Say Whether […]
National: “Inside the Jan. 6 Committee’s Effort to Trace Every Dollar Raised and Spent Based on Trump’s False Election Claims” by Josh Dawsey, Jacqueline Alemany, and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) for MSN
New York: “Cuomo Doesn’t Say Whether He’s Running for Office. The Board of Elections Implies He Is.” by Joshua Solomon for Albany Times Union
Texas: “Ethics Commission Fines Republican $30K for Implying Black Democrats Endorsed Him” by TheGrio.com for Yahoo News
Wyoming: “Crossover Voting Ban Dies, Other Election Legislation Prevails” by Maggie Mullen for WyoFile
Colorado: “Grand Jury Indicts Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters and Deputy Clerk in Election System Breach Investigation” by Saja Hindi (Denver Post) for Canon City Daily Camera
Florida: “Tallahassee Officials’ Trip After FSU Stadium Vote Raises Questions” by Jeff Burlew (Tallahassee Democrat) for stuartabsolon.com
Illinois: “Former Sen. Tom Cullerton Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement” by Peter Hancock (Capital News Illinois) for Illinois Newsroom
Vermont: “Vermont Is One of Five States Without a Statutory Code of Ethics. A Bill in the Senate Seeks to Change That” by Peter Hirschfeld for Vermont Public Radio
National: “Russian-American Charged with Acting as Illegal Russian Agent in the US” by Sonia Moghe for CNN
March 8, 2022 •
Ethics California: “Buscaino Spends Donor Funds on Family Trips to Hawaii and Italy” by Benjamin Oreskes and Maloy Moore (Los Angeles Times) for Yahoo News Illinois: “Famously Shrewd, Michael Madigan Has Been Indicted. But What Did He Actually Say on […]
California: “Buscaino Spends Donor Funds on Family Trips to Hawaii and Italy” by Benjamin Oreskes and Maloy Moore (Los Angeles Times) for Yahoo News
Illinois: “Famously Shrewd, Michael Madigan Has Been Indicted. But What Did He Actually Say on Tape?” by Jason Meisner and Ray Long (Chicago Tribune) for MSN
New York: “Inspector General Investigates JCOPE ‘Hot Mic’ Episode” by Chris Bragg for Albany Times Union
Ohio: “Ohio Regulatory Judge Steps Back from FirstEnergy’s HB 6 Cases After Subpoenaed Records Reveal His Role” by Kathiann Kowalski for Energy News Network
Tennessee: “Tennessee Rep. Robin Smith Resigns from Legislature After Wire Fraud Charge” by Melissa Brown and Adam Friedman (Tennessean) for Yahoo News
Washington DC: “The Tiny Radio Station Broadcasting Russian Propaganda in D.C.” by Paul Farhi (Washington Post) for WFPL
Kansas: “Lawmakers May Change How Kansas Supreme Court Justices Are Picked as Redistricting Case Looms” by Andrew Bahl (Topeka Capital-Journal) for Yahoo News
National: “K Street Was Fine Taking Russian Cash – Until It Couldn’t” by Hailey Fuchs (Politico) for Yahoo News
March 7, 2022 •
The New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) announced it expects the online filing system to be back online by March 11. JCOPE’s online system has been down since February 21 following a malicious cyberattack. All filings due during […]
The New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) announced it expects the online filing system to be back online by March 11.
JCOPE’s online system has been down since February 21 following a malicious cyberattack.
All filings due during the outage will be granted an automatic 21-day extension and the March 15 lobbying bi-monthly report deadline is extended to March 31.
JCOPE will distribute additional guidance to lobbying filers before the system is back online.
March 7, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Alaska: “Alaska Campaign Finance Commission Erases All Limits on Donations to Political Candidates” by Nathaniel Herz (Anchorage Daily News) for Yahoo News Illinois: “Former Veterans Affairs Chief Wrote Checks Totaling $50,000 to Her Mom from Her Political Fund” […]
Alaska: “Alaska Campaign Finance Commission Erases All Limits on Donations to Political Candidates” by Nathaniel Herz (Anchorage Daily News) for Yahoo News
Illinois: “Former Veterans Affairs Chief Wrote Checks Totaling $50,000 to Her Mom from Her Political Fund” by Rachel Hinton for Better Government Association
Washington: “Trade Group Settles GMO-Labeling Case for $9 Million” by Gene Johnson (Associated Press) for MSN
National: “Republican Clash Shows the Enduring Appeal, and Dubious Benefit, of Campaign Platforms” by Mike DeBonis and Marianna Sotomayor (Washington Post) for MSN
North Carolina: “North Carolina Rep. Cawthorn’s Candidacy Challenge Blocked” by Gary Robertson (Associated Press) for MSN
Massachusetts: “State Senate Hires a Pay Consultant in Wake of Report That Says Staff Pay ‘Breaks with Best Practice’” by Samantha Gross (Boston Globe) for MSN
National: “Lobbyists Urge Lawmakers to Let Them Roam the Capitol Again” by Kate Ackley (Roll Call) for MSN
Ohio: “Gun Lobbyist Wrote GOP Lawmakers’ ‘Permitless Carry’ Speech, Document Data Shows” by Jake Zuckerman for Ohio Capital Journal
March 4, 2022 •
National/Federal Backstage Drama at Jan. 6 Rally for Trump Draws Interest of House Committee MSN – Jacqueline Alemany, Josh Dawsey, and Beth Reinhard (Washington Post) | Published: 2/26/2022 The White House was made aware of concerns among allies of Donald Trump […]
Backstage Drama at Jan. 6 Rally for Trump Draws Interest of House Committee
MSN – Jacqueline Alemany, Josh Dawsey, and Beth Reinhard (Washington Post) | Published: 2/26/2022
The White House was made aware of concerns among allies of Donald Trump that some people coming to Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021, to potentially speak at the rally were too extreme, even for a president who had frequently pushed or crossed the boundaries of traditional political norms. The advance warnings to the White House and the friction between organizers have become a focus for the House select committee investigating the insurrection, as lawmakers try to understand the planning and financing behind the rally.
First Jan. 6 Defendant Pleads Guilty to Seditious Conspiracy in Capitol Attack
MSN – Tom Jackman and Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) | Published: 3/2/2022
A member of the far-right Oath Keepers extremist group became the first to admit to engaging in seditious conspiracy on January 6, 2021, to keep President Biden from taking office. Joshua James pleaded guilty to helping lead a group that prosecutors say sent two tactically equipped teams into the Capitol and organized a cache of weapons in a hotel just outside the city. He may face the stiffest sentence of any January 6 defendant so far, according to preliminary sentencing guidelines.
Four US Lawmakers or Their Spouses Personally Invested in Russian Companies: Documents
MSN – Dave Levinthal (Business Insider) | Published: 3/1/2022
Four members of Congress or their spouses have either currently or recently invested money in Russian companies, financial disclosures show. These investments come to light in the midst of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has prompted the U.S. government to hit Russia with heavy sanctions and triggered boycotts of Russian products and culture. Congress is debating whether to ban members from trading individual stocks amid violations of current financial disclosure laws and potential conflicts-of-interest.
Four Women on the Supreme Court Would Bring Historic, Near Gender Parity for Institution Long Dominated by White Men
MSN – Robert Barnes (Washington Post) | Published: 2/27/2022
If President Biden’s nominee, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, is confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court, it would mean four women would simultaneously serve for the first time in its 233-year history, as close to gender parity as possible on the nine-person bench. That will not change the court’s ideological direction, and law professors and political scientists continue to debate whether gender significantly affects legal interpretation. But those who welcome the change say it is important for representational reasons, and they assert it could bolster the public’s view of the court’s legitimacy.
Guns, Radicalization and a Father’s Alleged Threat: First Jan. 6 trial set to begin
MSN – Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 2/28/2022
Guy Reffitt, a purported recruiter for the right-wing, anti-government Three Percenters movement is the first person to stand trial in the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. For the first time, a defendant will get to confront in open court a portion of the mountain of video evidence, online communications data, and police testimony the government has amassed against roughly 750 federally charged individuals. A judge and jury in D.C. also will weigh prosecutors’ application of rarely used criminal statutes to prosecute the first violent incursion of the Capitol by U.S. citizens.
Jan. 6 Committee Alleges Trump, Allies Engaged in Potential ‘Criminal Conspiracy’ by Trying to Block Congress from Certifying Election
MSN – Josh Dawsey, Tom Hamburger, Jacqueline Alemany, and Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) | Published: 3/2/2022
The House committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol said in a court filing it had evidence former President Trump and his allies engaged in a “criminal conspiracy” by trying to block Congress from certifying the election. The alleged criminal acts, which include conspiring to defraud the United States, were raised by the committee in a filing challenging conservative lawyer John Eastman’s refusal to turn over thousands of emails the panel requested related to his role in trying to persuade former Vice President Mike Pence to reject electors from states won by Joe Biden.
Lobbyists Ramp Up Fly-Ins Despite Capitol Covid-19 Restrictions
Bloomberg Government – Nancy Ognanovich | Published: 2/24/2022
Two years after the pandemic forced the closure of the U.S. Capitol, the lobbying community still faces challenges maintaining relationships and effective communications with House and Senate lawmakers and staff. But with Covid-19 cases waning and important legislative issues on the agenda, some lobbyists and industry associations are resuming their trek to Washington, D.C. and have devised ways to deal with continued restrictions on entering the Capitol complex. More than 50 different business groups plan trips, with industry fly-ins beginning March 2, according to Ed Mortimer, a U.S. Chamber of Commerce vice president.
‘My Life Was a Constant Lie’: Chabot’s ex-campaign manager sentenced for $1.4 million theft
MSN – Kevin Grasha (Cincinnati Enquirer) | Published: 3/1/2022
U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot’s onetime campaign manager, Jamie Schwartz, was sentenced to two years in federal prison for stealing $1.42 million from the campaign. Schwartz’s embezzlement took place over at least eight years, prosecutors said. But the scheme began to unravel in the summer of 2019 when the FEC began an audit of the campaign. According to prosecutors, Schwartz falsified official records, forged bank records, and lied to the FEC.
Some Records Taken by Trump Are So Sensitive They May Not Be Described in Public
MSN – Jacqueline Alemany and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) | Published: 2/26/2022
Some of the presidential records recovered from former President Trump’s residence at Mar-a-Lago are so sensitive they may not be able to be described in forthcoming inventory reports in an unclassified way. The revelation comes as U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney sent the National Archives and Records Administration a request for further information on 15 boxes of records recovered from Trump’s resort. There are records at the very highest levels of classification, including some that can be viewed by only a small number of government officials.
Trial Opens for Men Accused of Funneling Millions to Back Hillary Clinton in 2016 Presidential Race
Yahoo News – Josh Gerstein (Politico) | Published: 2/24/2022
Businessperson Rani El-Saadi is on trial, accused of conspiring to illegally donate more than $3 million to back Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race. Prosecutors said digital payments magnate Andy Khawaja supplied the $150,000 that El-Saadi personally donated to attend a Clinton fundraiser in 2016. Khawaja has been in Lithuania fighting extradition to the U.S. for more than two years and was declared a fugitive. “Khawaja wanted very badly to gain power and influence in the U.S.,” prosecutor Michelle Parikh told the jury.
US Lobbying Firms Rush to Cut Ties with Russian Businesses Hit with Sanctions
CNN – Casey Tolan, Curt Devine, and Daniel Medina | Published: 2/26/2022
In the years leading up to Russia’s attack on Ukraine, U.S. lobbyists have raked in millions of dollars from Russian banks and financial firms paying to push their interests in Washington. Now, in the wake of the Russian invasion and new sanctions announced by President Biden, many of those lobbying firms are rushing to cut ties and drop their lucrative contracts. The exodus marks the rupture of a Moscow-to-K-Street conduit that has long employed former federal officials and members of Congress of both parties, experts said.
Canada – Ethics Commissioner Calls for Reform of Alberta Lobbyist Rules
CBC – Paige Parsons | Published: 3/3/2022
The province should create a communication registry for lobbyists to address what she says is a lack of transparency, Alberta’s ethics commissioner says. Marguerite Trussler’s office put forward a number of recommendations for changes to the Alberta Lobbyists Act as part of a review of the legislation currently underway. The law must be reviewed every five years, and a committee is expected to submit a report with its recommendations to the Legislature by September.
From the States and Municipalities
California – Mayor’s Top Aide Held Private Call with Ash Street Defendant, Lobbyist Before Tuesday Council Meeting
San Diego Union Tribune – Jeff McDonald | Published: 2/27/2022
One day before the San Diego City Council met to discuss the lawsuits over a controversial lease, Mayor Todd Gloria’s chief operating officer, Jay Goldstone, spoke privately with the principal owner of a development firm that is being by the city and his lobbyist. Jay Goldstone testified at his deposition he reached out to lobbyist Christopher Wahl days ahead of a city council meeting. Wahl set up the conference call between Goldstone, himself, and his client, Cisterra Development majority owner Steven Black. A mayoral spokesperson did not say why no lawyers participated in the meeting or why the other defendants were not involved.
Colorado – Envelope with Checks Found in Colorado Capitol Bathroom Creates Sticky Situation
Colorado Politics – Marianne Goodland | Published: 2/24/2022
A Colorado House staffer went into the men’s public bathroom in the basement of the Capitol and found an envelope. Inside were checks, made out to the Senate Majority Fund, the independent expenditure committee that helps to finance Republican campaigns for the state Senate. How many checks were in the envelope and how much total are not known, although a source mentioned they are in the five figures.
Connecticut – Upstairs, Downstairs: In CT Capitol, Senate is off limits, House is open
CTMirror.org – Mark Pazniokas | Published: 3/2/2022
The House and Senate Democratic majorities in Connecticut diverged sharply and awkwardly on questions of COVID-19 and public access to a state Capitol that has been largely closed for nearly two years. The second floor of the Capitol, where the House resides, was open and its hallways lined by lobbyists, representatives of unions and non-profits, and one woman handing out flyers opposed to legalizing assisted suicide. The third-floor home of the Senate was closed.
Florida – Bill Banning Lobbying for Ex-Lawmakers Heads to Gov. DeSantis’ Desk
Florida Politics – Gary Rohrer | Published: 2/25/2022
Former lawmakers who lobby their ex-colleagues in the Florida Legislature or executive branch could face a fine and other sanctions starting next year, after the Senate unanimously passed House Bill 7001, sending it to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk. Under the bill, a lawmaker who receives compensation for lobbying at the state level within six years after leaving office could be subject to a public censure, a civil fine of up to $10,000, the forfeiture of any money received to lobby, or all three.
Florida – They Threw a $74,000 Goodbye Party for a County Official. Lobbyists Pitched In. How Did That Help the Public?
MSN – Lisa Huriash (South Florida Sun Sentinel) | Published: 2/25/2022
Broward County lobbyists, politicians, and county officials were on the guest list for a surprise celebration at the FLA Live Arena in February. Now the event, marking the retirement of Broward County Administrator Bertha Henry, is facing scrutiny over whether it created the appearance of melding the county’s interests with those of lobbyists and private financial interests. Some of the funding for the event came from the Florida Panthers, the hockey team that has historically come before the county ask for public subsidies to stay afloat, and its top two people were on the guest list.
Illinois – Ex-House Speaker Michael Madigan, Long the State’s Most Powerful Pol, Indicted on Federal Racketeering Charges
Yahoo – Jason Meisner and Ray Long (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 3/2/2022
Michael Madigan, the former speaker of the Illinois House and for decades one of the nation’s most powerful legislators, was charged in a racketeering and bribery scheme, becoming the most prominent politician swept up in a federal investigation of government corruption in the state. The 22-count indictment comes after a yearslong probe and alleges Madigan participated in an array of bribery and extortion schemes from aimed at using the power of his office for personal gain. He was dethroned as speaker in 2021 as the investigation swirled around him, and soon after resigned the House seat he had held since 1971.
Illinois – Investigation of AT&T Contracts in Probe Orbiting Michael Madigan Centers on Funds to Lobbyists and Former State Rep, Sources Say
MSN – Jason Meisner and Ray Long (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 3/2/2022
Consulting funds flowing from AT&T to a lobbyist with deep ties to then-Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and eventually to a former state representative are at the center of a federal investigation into the company’s lobbying practices in Springfield. AT&T disclosed that federal prosecutors notified it they were considering filing criminal charges against its Illinois subsidiary involving “a single, nine-month consulting contract in 2017? worth $22,500. Records show the company that year had hired a stable of Madigan-connected lobbyists working for the subsidiary as AT&T was fighting for a controversial bill to end landline service.
Kansas – Kansas Lawmakers Are Supposed to Vet Bills in Committees. But Are Their Hearings Fair?
MSN – Jonathan Shorman and Katie Bernard (Kansas City Star) | Published: 3/1/2022
Lawmakers and lobbyists in Kansas say some legislative committees either limit public comment or tip the scales in the favor of bills supported by the Republican majority. In theory, the Legislature’s 48 committees are supposed to serve as a first check on bills, allowing lawmakers to vet them before they are sent to the floor. But in practice, Republican chairs are able to determine what voices are heard, what bills move forward, and even push policy pieces without a public hearing. Some Democrats and lobbyists complain these practices allow Republicans to paint a false picture of public opinion and stifle debate when convenient.
Maine – Subpoenas Will Ramp Up Maine Investigation into National Conservative Group
Bangor Daily News – Caitlin Andrews | Published: 2/28/2022
The Maine ethics commission voted to allow staff to subpoena the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to require them to turn over documents to determine if it violated state contribution laws by allowing lawmakers to use software that contains voter information and is used to track constituent interactions. ALEC has refused to participate in the probe, saying it believes it is illegitimate. The move is expected to lead to months of litigation over the subpoenas.
Massachusetts – Are Campaign Donations to MA Sheriffs Too Suggestive of Pay-to-Play? CT May Have Solution
Herald News – Kyle Stucker (USA Today) | Published: 2/25/2022
A report revealed Massachusetts sheriffs received $2.69 million in questionable donations during their campaigns, calling into question whether construction firms, medical companies, and other special interests are buying influence. Sheriffs deny being involved in “pay-to-play” schemes. Even if wealthy special interests are not buying policies that pad their coffers, the advocacy groups behind the report suggested such campaign donations do not pass the smell test even though they’re legal. The groups believe Massachusetts and other states should adopt Connecticut’s public financing model to improve confidence and fairness in their elections.
Michigan – Term Limits Were Supposed to Fix Lansing. Did They Make It Worse Instead?
MLive.com – Samuel Robinson | Published: 3/2/2022
Thirty years have passed since Michigan voters approved limits to the number of years politicians can serve to six (three terms) in the House and eight (two terms) in the Senate. While the change ushered out veteran lawmakers, many still wonder whether that was a good thing. Michigan’s strictest-in-the-nation term limits have drawn a backlash so strong a bipartisan group is now aiming to loosen rules by putting the question back on the ballot. Critics argue that setting strict limits on how long politicians can serve has splintered relationships at the Capitol and reduced bipartisanship to a point where it is hurting constituents.
Missouri – Independence Mayor Asked About Campaign Donations in Deposition, but Advised to Stay Mum
MSN – Kevin Hardy (Kansas City Star) | Published: 3/2/2022
Independence Mayor Eileen Weir was asked in a deposition last year about campaign contributions she received from a Missouri company looking to do business with the city. The donations have raised questions among other city council members and drew the interest of the FBI. But a transcript of that deposition shows she mostly avoided the topic after her personal attorney objected to the line of questioning and advised her not to answer questions about the contributions. The mayor was questioned under oath as part of a defamation lawsuit against the city and two council members.
Nevada – Social Video Shows ‘Racist’ Taunts of Nevada Governor, Wife
MSN – Ken Ritter (Associated Press) | Published: 2/28/2022
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, and his wife were accosted during the weekend by two men who followed them out of a Las Vegas restaurant shouting profanities, taunts, and anti-government statements in an incident posted on the Internet. Sisolak characterized the incident as “racist threats.” His wife is a former municipal finance specialist of Chinese heritage who was born in the Nevada town of Ely. The incident now is being investigated by state police.
New Jersey – 2 Counties Tried to Skirt N.J. Public Bidding Laws. Now the Legislature May Make It Legal.
MSN – Ted Sherman (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 3/2/2022
Efforts by two counties to evade New Jersey’s bidding laws on projects involving tens of millions of dollars in public funding are now the focus of a bill introduced in the state Senate that would make legal what the courts have so far declared to be illegal. The legislation would clear the way for county improvement authorities to essentially award no-bid deals to favored contractors. Under the measure, counties would be able to ignore the bidding requirements of New Jersey’s Local Public Contracts Law by declaring any major construction proposal a “redevelopment project.”
New York – Lt. Gov.’s Campaign Expenses Show Conflicts with Taxpayer Refunds
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 2/28/2022
The Albany Times Union found a dozen instances where Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin submitted vouchers claiming the full, taxpayer-funded reimbursement for traveling from New York City to Albany; during those same trips, a campaign-issued debit card was used to pay for gasoline. Each time he had sought full taxpayer reimbursement for the 12 trips, Benjamin stated he was the one bearing the costs. Albany politicians collecting taxpayer-funded reimbursement for costs already covered by their campaigns has at times proven controversial and was the subject of the 2006 trial of former Assemblyperson Clarence Norman.
New York – ‘Malicious Cyberattack’ Strikes New York Ethics Agency
Albany Times Union – Brendan Lyons | Published: 2/25/2022
The New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) shut down its online filing system as authorities investigate a “deliberate malicious cyberattack.” JCOPE said the attack involved a web server that houses, among other systems, the agency’s lobbying application and financial disclosure filing systems.
Ohio – Ohio House Won’t Release Texts Between House Rep and Indicted Ex-Speaker
WEWS – Jake Zuckerman (Ohio Capital Journal) | Published: 3/2/2022
Lawyers with the Ohio House denied a public records requests for text messages between a sitting lawmaker and former Speaker Larry Householder, who was expelled by his peers while under a racketeering indictment related to alleged public corruption. State Rep. Jay Edwards and Householder regularly exchange text messages and talk on the phone. Edwards said they always avoid discussing the criminal case against Householder and usually, but not always, avoid public policy discussions as well. Edwards says the messages do not exist because “… I go through at night and erase text messages I don’t find useful.”
Ohio – Ohio Judge Helped Write a Bailout That Led to Arrests; Now He’s Blocking Outside Probes
WEWS – Jake Zuckerman (Ohio Capital Journal) | Published: 2/28/2022
A judge who oversees utility cases was involved in writing a coal and nuclear bailout now at the center of what prosecutors have described as the largest public corruption case in Ohio history, subpoenaed documents show. That same judge, Greg Price, is presiding over multiple regulatory cases in which a government watchdog agency is trying to investigate that same corruption. His orders, spanning 18 months, have blocked investigations into FirstEnergy, a utility at the center of the scandal.
Oklahoma – Claiming Out-of-State Influences, Oklahoma Looks to Clamp Down on State Question Laws
Oklahoma Watch – Trevor Brown | Published: 2/28/2022
Several Oklahoma lawmakers are looking to add hurdles for citizen-led groups to pass the type of state questions that legalized medical marijuana, expanded Medicaid, and won voter support despite Republican leaders’ opposition in recent years. More than a dozen bills up for consideration, all authored by GOP legislators, seek to either requirements for citizen-led voter initiatives to get on the ballot or increase the threshold for some of the proposals to pass on Election Day.
Oregon – Oregon Labor, Business Interest Groups File Challenges to Campaign Contribution Limit Proposals
Spokane Spokesman-Review – Hillary Borrud (Portland Oregonian) | Published: 2/25/2022
Oregon business and labor groups filed challenges to three proposed ballot measures that would set campaign contribution limits in the state. The challenges were anticipated by supporters but nonetheless increase the likelihood that voters will not get to weigh in on political donation limits. Secretary of State Shemia Fagan disqualified the proposed measures because she said they should have included the entire texts of laws they would amend, including sections that would be left unchanged. Fagan based her decision on a 2004 Oregon Court of Appeals ruling that previous secretaries of state generally did not follow.
Pennsylvania – Activists Disrupt House GOP Leader’s Speech Demanding Action on Gift Ban Legislation
PennLive.com – Jan Murphy | Published: 2/28/2022
Activists seeking passage of legislation to ban gifts to lawmakers disrupted the Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon to pressure House leadership to act on the bill. Reid Stever, a representative of MarchOnHarrisburg, interrupted House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff’s speech to press for a vote on House Bill 1945, which makes it illegal for lawmakers to accept a gift from a lobbyist. It won House State Government Committee approval last March but has yet to be brought up for a vote by the full chamber.
Pennsylvania – Pennsylvania GOP Urges Supreme Court to Toss Congressional Map
MSN – Michael Macagnone (Roll Call) | Published: 2/28/2022
Pennsylvania Republicans asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a state court-approved congressional map, arguing the Democrat-controlled court exceeded its authority by imposing the map without the Legislature’s approval. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court selected the map after the politically divided state government failed to approve one. The appeal argued the state court’s selection of one of the plaintiffs’ maps targeted Republicans and violated the Constitution by having congressional districts that deviated in population by two or more people.
Tennessee – Former Tennessee Speaker Casada Aide Cothren Refuses to Testify in State Campaign Finance Probe
Yahoo News – Andy Sher (Chattanooga Times Fress Press) | Published: 3/2/2022
Cade Cothren, the former chief of staff to then-Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada, invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and did not appear before the Registry of Election Finance regarding his alleged involvement as the head of a PAC that attacked a Casada critic. The registry voted to issue subpoenas for information related to the Faith Family Freedom Fund PAC to Cothren, Casada, and several others who may have had knowledge of the committee.
Texas – Dallas Hires Former Texas Health Inspector General to Investigate City Corruption Claims
Dallas Morning News – Everton Bailey Jr. | Published: 2/23/2022
Dallas hired a former state health inspector general to lead a new office in charge of investigating allegations of waste, abuse, and fraud. Bart Bevers was chosen as the city’s first inspector general, a position created in December when city officials made several changes to ethics rules to strengthen transparency and accountability. Several scandals involving Dallas officials have resulted in convictions on corruption-related charges.
Texas – Rejected Mail Ballots, Confused Voters: Texas’s restrictive new law casts shadow over primary
MSN – Amy Gardner (Washington Post) | Published: 3/1/2022
Democrats and voting rights advocates predicted for months that new election rules in Texas, referred to as Senate Bill 1 in the state, would make it harder for some people to vote and for election officials to do their jobs. The March 1 primary made clear to critics that those predictions, so far, have come true, providing a glimpse of what voting could look like in more than a dozen states that enacted similarly restrictive laws in the aftermath of the 2020 contest.
Utah – Utah Lawmakers Pass New Media Restrictions for House Floor
MSN – Sam Metz (Associated Press) | Published: 3/1/2022
The Utah House approved new rules that limit where members of the press can film and interview lawmakers, following similar action taken by the state Senate. The rules extend pandemic-era restrictions on when journalists can report from the floors of the legislative chambers. Media organizations and journalists oppose the rules changes, arguing that restricting media movements would make it more difficult to cover fast-paced action and make it easier for lawmakers to dodge the press. They said the move reduced transparency.
Virginia – Virginia Lawmakers Still Can’t Bring Themselves to Ban Personal Use of Campaign Cash
Virginia Mercury – Graham Moomaw | Published: 3/2/2022
After years of debate and multiple studies, Virginia lawmakers still are not ready to pass a law preventing themselves from using campaign money on personal expenses that have nothing to do with running for office. The last remaining bill prohibiting personal use of campaign funds died in a House subcommittee, with several legislators framing the issue as too complex to tackle even though the practice is already outlawed at the federal level and in most states. Republicans on the panel defeated the version of the bill that had passed the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support.
Wisconsin – Wisconsin GOP’s 2020 Report Embraces Fringe Election Decertification Theory
Yahoo News – Zach Montellaro (Politico) | Published: 3/1/2022
A draft report for a Republican-run investigation of the 2020 election in Wisconsin, embraces the fringe theory that election results could be decertified after the fact – advancing former President Trump’s calls to overturn an election he lost over a year ago. Former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman has been conducting a probe of the 2020 election, authorized by state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. Gableman’s interim report attacks Wisconsin election administrators and argues for dismantling the state’s election board.
Wisconsin – Wisconsin Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Regulator Bias Case Spawned by Power Line
Madison.com – Chris Hubbuch (Wisconsin State Journal) | Published: 2/28/2022
The Wisconsin Supreme Court heard arguments in a case stemming from a power line dispute that could have sweeping implications for regulators, judges, and other public officials. The court is being asked to decide if a former utility regulator’s personal relationships could invalidate the permit for a controversial power line being built in the state. Opponents of the line sought to question former Public Service Commissioner Mike Huebsch about communications, some using an encrypted messaging app, with utility lobbyists and his eventual attempt to land a job with one of the utilities behind the project.
March 3, 2022 •
Rhode Island lawmakers introduced a bill amending the Lobbying Reform Act to apply registration and reporting requirements to individuals who lobby at the local level. Senate Bill 2512 expands the definition of lobbying to cover individuals who lobby municipal government […]
Rhode Island lawmakers introduced a bill amending the Lobbying Reform Act to apply registration and reporting requirements to individuals who lobby at the local level.
Senate Bill 2512 expands the definition of lobbying to cover individuals who lobby municipal government executives and legislative bodies as well as local fire districts.
If passed, the new law will take effect immediately.
February 28, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Massachusetts: “Are Campaign Donations to MA Sheriffs Too Suggestive of Pay-to-Play? CT May Have Solution” by Kyle Stucker (USA Today) for Herald News Oregon: “Oregon Labor, Business Interest Groups File Challenges to Campaign Contribution Limit Proposals” by Hillary […]
Massachusetts: “Are Campaign Donations to MA Sheriffs Too Suggestive of Pay-to-Play? CT May Have Solution” by Kyle Stucker (USA Today) for Herald News
Oregon: “Oregon Labor, Business Interest Groups File Challenges to Campaign Contribution Limit Proposals” by Hillary Borrud (Portland Oregonian) for Spokane Spokesman-Review
National: “Backstage Drama at Jan. 6 Rally for Trump Draws Interest of House Committee” by Jacqueline Alemany, Josh Dawsey, and Beth Reinhard (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “Mayor’s Top Aide Held Private Call with Ash Street Defendant, Lobbyist Before Tuesday Council Meeting” by Jeff McDonald for San Diego Union Tribune
New York: “‘Malicious Cyberattack’ Strikes New York Ethics Agency” by Brendan Lyons for Albany Times Union
National: “Lobbyists Ramp Up Fly-Ins Despite Capitol Covid-19 Restrictions” by Nancy Ognanovich for Bloomberg Government
National: “US Lobbying Firms Rush to Cut Ties with Russian Businesses Hit with Sanctions” by Casey Tolan, Curt Devine, and Daniel Medina for CNN
Florida: “Bill Banning Lobbying for Ex-Lawmakers Heads to Gov. DeSantis’ Desk” by Gary Rohrer for Florida Politics
February 25, 2022 •
National/Federal Big U.S. Law Firms Pitch Changes to DOJ ‘Foreign Agent’ Regulations Reuters – Mike Scarcella | Published: 2/16/2022 Many law firms responded to a U.S. Department of Justice request for views from attorneys, lobbing offices, and other outlets about potential […]
Big U.S. Law Firms Pitch Changes to DOJ ‘Foreign Agent’ Regulations
Reuters – Mike Scarcella | Published: 2/16/2022
Many law firms responded to a U.S. Department of Justice request for views from attorneys, lobbing offices, and other outlets about potential revisions to the Foreign Agents Registration Act. The law has come into sharper focus amid greater scrutiny of foreign influence efforts in the U.S. and more enforcement actions. The Justice Department is in the early stages of a rule-making process and has not issued any proposed changes to the law.
Fed Overhauls Investment and Trading Rules Following Resignations of Top Officials
MSN – Rachel Siegel (Washington Post) | Published: 2/18/2022
The Federal Reserve overhauled its trading rules for policymakers and staff, rewriting previous guidelines that central bankers said were insufficient amid the resignations of three top policymakers. The rules mirror a general outline offered by Federal Reserve Board Chairperson Jerome Powell. But additional details reflect tougher standards and the culmination of a review that sought to regain public trust after the financial activities of top officials came under heightened scrutiny.
Feds Just Let Ron Paul’s Old Campaign Slide on Likely Violations
MSN – Roger Sollenberger (Daily Beast) | Published: 2/17/2022
More than 10 years ago, former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul’s presidential campaign got caught up in a bribery scandal that netted felony convictions against three senior staffers. Five years later, the FEC unanimously found Paul’s campaign likely broke the law. But it was not until recently that the FEC finally disclosed its unanimous vote. It took more than 3,700 days after Paul campaign aides paid an Iowa senator who dramatically flipped his presidential endorsement for the agency to make its final decision. After all the investigations had concluded, the FEC decided to let the whole thing slide.
GOP Lawmakers Are Pushing High-Tech ‘Fraud-Proof’ Ballots. A Texas Company Could Be the Only Supplier.
MSN – Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) | Published: 2/18/2022
High-tech security features would be required to be embedded on ballots under measures proposed in at least four states by Republican lawmakers – all promoters of false claims the 2020 election was marred by mass fraud – to make the ballots as hard to counterfeit as passports or currency. But the specialized inks and watermarks also would limit the number of companies capable of selling ballot paper, potentially to just one Texas firm with no previous experience in elections that consulted with the lawmakers proposing the measures.
Judge Allows Lawmaker Jan. 6 Lawsuits Against Trump to Proceed
MSN – Todd Ruger (Roll Call) | Published: 2/18/2022
A federal judge ruled Democratic lawmakers and Capitol Police officers can move forward with civil lawsuits against former President Trump in connection with the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, but U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks should be dismissed as a defendant. U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta issued the ruling on motions by the defendants to dismiss claims in three related lawsuits, which seek to hold Trump, the former president’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and others personally responsible for their roles in the events.
National Archives Confirms Classified Material Was in Boxes at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Residence
MSN – Matt Zapotosky (Washington Post) | Published: 2/18/2022
The National Archives and Records Administration confirmed it found items marked classified in boxes of White House records that former President Trump took with him to his Mar-a-Lago residence. U.S. Archivist David S. Ferriero said the agency had been in touch with the Justice Department over the matter. The Washington Post had reported that some of the Mar-a-Lago documents were marked as classified, including some at the “top secret” level, a revelation that seemed likely to intensify the legal pressure that Trump or his staffers could face.
Ryan Zinke Broke Ethics Rules While Leading Trump’s Interior Dept., Watchdog Finds
MSN – Anna Phillips and Lisa Rein (Washington Post) | Published: 2/16/2022
Facing serious allegations about this ethics and conduct in office, Ryan Zinke, Donald Trump’s former Interior secretary, told a government official in 2018 that negotiations over a land deal in his hometown of Whitefish, Montana, were proceeding without him. His involvement was minimal and his meeting with the project’s developers at Interior headquarters was “purely social.” But a report by the department’s internal watchdog said text message exchanges show he communicated with the developers 64 times to discuss the project’s design, the use of his foundation’s land as a parking lot, and his interest in operating a brewery on the site.
Supreme Court Formally Denies Trump’s Request to Review the January 6 Committee’s Bid for White House Records
Yahoo News – Sonam Sheth, Brent Griffiths, and Oma Seddiq (Business Insider) | Published: 2/22/2022
The U.S. Supreme Court officially denied former President Trump’s request to review the January 6 select committee’s bid for White House records. The decision was widely expected after the court declined Trump’s request to block the National Archives and Records Administration from turning over executive-branch documents to the congressional committee investigating the Capitol riot. A federal judge rejected Trump’s request in November, saying in a while Trump had the right to assert the privilege, President Biden was not required to honor it. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. affirmed the ruling.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – Arizona Lawmakers Can’t Ignore Their Own Open Meeting Laws, Court Rules
Arizona Daily Star – Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services) | Published: 2/15/2022
State lawmakers cannot ignore open meeting laws by claiming the laws do not apply to them, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled. Judge Jennifer Campbell said there is no evidence that lawmakers ever intended to exempt themselves when they approved the laws. A lawsuit contended there were 26 Republican lawmakers from Arizona attending an annual conference of the American Legislative Exchange Council. The council funded largely by corporate interests, serves as a clearinghouse for proposed changes in state laws across the nation.
California – 49ers CEO Jed York Accused of Violating Santa Clara’s Lobbyist Ordinance Over 2026 World Cup Ads
Peninsula Premier – Grace Hase (San Jose Mercury News) | Published: 2/23/2022
San Francisco 49ers Chief Executive Officer Jed York may have violated Santa Clara’s lobbying ordinance after spending more than $15,000 on Facebook ads without registering with the city as a lobbyist. The ads asked residents to tell the Santa Clara City Council to support bringing the 2026 FIFA World Cup to Levi’s Stadium. The stadium is publicly owned and governed by the Stadium Authority, which is composed of the mayor and council. The lobbying law defines an expenditure lobbyist as an individual who spends more than $5,000 influencing city business. While several members of the 49ers’ organization are registered lobbyists, York is not.
California – DWP Commissioner Held Fundraiser for Councilmember Koretz in Violation of City Rules
Knock LA – John Peltz | Published: 2/22/2022
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power Commissioner Jill Banks Barad-Hopkins sent out invitations to a fundraiser for city council member and city controller candidate Paul Koretz, which would be held in the backyard of her house. Attached was a flier with her name on it next to Koretz’s, and a payment form for contributions and tickets. She also noted Koretz’s work on labor rights, animal rights, environmental protection, and reducing homelessness. City ethics laws prohibit for city commissioners to hold fundraisers for a candidate for office. It is also a violation for city officials to ask someone else to donate, among other provisions.
Colorado – Why is Colorado Lawmaker’s Home Address in His District for an Empty Lot?
MSN – Marshall Zellinger (KUSA) | Published: 2/23/2022
Colorado House Minority Leader Hugh McKean is challenging McKean’s residency. Austin filed two complaints: one elections complaint about his residency and a campaign finance complaint about the address McKean listed on his candidate affidavit. Hein points out McKean’s voting address is an empty lot. A state law automatically registers someone to vote when they get a driver’s license or renew their license. It also automatically updates a person’s voter registration if they change their driver’s license address. “Because we have ‘motor-voter,’ [it] switched my voter registration to the [lot] where I’m building [a house],” said McKean.
Connecticut – Federal Prosecutors Unseal New Indictment Accusing Former CT Lawmaker, His Wife and Business Associates of Stealing COVID Relief and Other Funds
MSN – Edmund Mahoney (Hartford Courant) | Published: 2/16/2022
Federal prosecutors unsealed a new indictment against former Connecticut Rep. Michael DiMassa that raises the total amount of federal grant money he is accused of stealing to more than $1 million and brings new theft and conspiracy charges against his wife and two associates. DiMassa and business associate John Bernardo are accused of creating phony businesses as a vehicle to steal federal money allocated to West Haven to defray the costs associated with the coronavirus pandemic.
Florida – Confidential Records Leaked from Ex-Double-Dipping Collier Deputy Manager’s Office
newsonedirect.com – Rachel Heimann Mercader (Naples Daily News) | Published: 2/20/2022
Former Collier County Deputy Manager Sean Callahan apparently left “confidential” records relating to foreign governments behind after his firing from the county. The records, discovered in his county government office, were related to his second, secret lobbyist job with the firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck. An expert on U.S. foreign lobbyist affairs said Callahan’s client caseload was significant, adding doubt that he could have possibly fulfilled his duties for both his county and secret lobbyist role at the same time.
Hawaii – Corruption at The Hawaii Legislature Puts Campaign Donations in the Spotlight
Honolulu Civil Beat – Kevin Dayton | Published: 2/16/2022
The convictions of former Hawaii Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English and former state Rep. Ty Cullen on charges of accepting bribes to benefit a wastewater company in the Legislature may provoke campaign finance reform in the state. In addition to illicit cash that changed hands in a restaurant men’s room and was stuffed under the floor mat of a car, there were dozens of apparently lawful campaign contributions that businessperson Milton Choy gave to English, Cullen, and other political figures in Hawaii. Some see a direct link between political donations and government contracts.
Hawaii – Honolulu Ethics Commission Rules Out Gift Disclosure for City Employees
Honolulu Civil Beat – Christina Jedra | Published: 2/16/2022
The Honolulu Ethics Commission wants the city to lower the value of gifts accepted by city employees from $200 to $25, but it is not interested in requiring gift disclosure forms. The debate comes amid increased scrutiny over ethics rules after two former Hawaii legislators pleaded guilty to thousands of dollars in bribes. Federal prosecutors brought charges of honest services wire fraud after former Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English and ex-Rep. Ty Cullen failed to list the money on mandatory annual gift disclosures filed with the state.
Hawaii – How Honolulu’s Ex-City Attorney Went from Obscurity to a Federal Indictment
Honolulu Civil Beat – Christina Jedra | Published: 2/20/2022
Before Donna Leong became the city and county of Honolulu’s top attorney, she was the chief legal officer for the Outrigger hotel chain. In the private sector, it is not unusual for a company to part ways with an employee and pay them off to make a problem disappear quickly, according to David Carey, Outrigger’s former chief executive. Now Leong is facing a federal conspiracy charge for allegedly doing just that, striking a deal with the police chief at the time, Louis Kealoha, and paying $250,000 in public funds to cut him loose as he faced a corruption probe.
Illinois – Judge Cites ‘Common Sense,’ Legal Precedent in Denying Bid to Dismiss Counts in ComEd Bribery Probe
Yahoo News – Jason Meisner (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 2/17/2022
A federal judge denied a motion to dismiss key counts against a longtime confidant of ex-Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and three others charged in the ongoing Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) bribery probe, saying the charges outlined in the indictment were sufficient. U.S. District Court Judge Harry Leinenweber said it was “common sense” that the benefits the defendants allegedly intended to lavish on Madigan, which included do-nothing jobs given by ComEd to Madigan loyalists, need not be paid directly to Madigan in order for them to be considered bribes.
Illinois – The Illinois Subsidiary of AT&T Is Under Federal Criminal Investigation
WBEZ – Dave McKinney | Published: 2/17/2022
Federal prosecutors investigating alleged schemes to influence former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan are considering filing charges against a subsidiary of AT&T involving a 2017 consulting contract. It was reported in 2020 that AT&T had been subpoenaed by federal prosecutors amid a widening criminal probe into Madigan’s political operation. The subpoena was part of an inquiry into whether companies improperly used a stable of consultants with ties to the longtime speaker as they pushed for legislation in Springfield.
Massachusetts – The Massachusetts State House Is Now Open to the Public, Nearly Two Years into the COVID Pandemic
MassLive.com – Alison Kuznitz | Published: 2/22/2022
The Massachusetts statehouse reopened to the public for the first time in nearly two years on with little fanfare. But in a noticeable change, a small white tent was erected outside the building, in a testament to the strict COVID-19 protocols that Beacon Hill leaders implemented that far exceed what Gov. Charlie Baker is mandating statewide. Rick Branca, a lobbyist for disabled Massachusetts veterans, was the first person inside the building. He said there was a “huge learning curve” for doing his job remotely while the statehouse was shuttered for more than 700 days.
Michigan – Millions Poured into Michigan Petition Drives. Their Funding Is a Mystery.
Bridge Michigan – Yue Stella Yu | Published: 2/14/2022
A handful of groups have poured millions of dollars into Michigan’s dozen-plus ballot drives that seek major changes to election, education, health, and drug policies but are keeping their donor identities a secret. Committees working for or against citizen petition initiatives in Michigan have raised a total $10.6 million through December 2021.Of that money, $9.4 million, almost 90 percent of all contributions, comes from nonprofits such as 501(c)(4)s, including social welfare groups or associations of employees.
Missouri – Party Officials Move to Block Embattled Missouri Lawmaker from Running in 2022 Election
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Kurt Erickson | Published: 2/23/2022
The Missouri Republican Party moved to block a sitting lawmaker from running in the 2022 election. State Rep. Patricia Derges had been seeking to run for reelection despite facing federal Medicaid fraud charges since last year. The GOP said it would not accept a required filing fee from Derges to get on the August primary ballot.
Nebraska – Female Nebraska Lawmakers Call for Change Amid Photo Probe
Yahoo News – Grant Schulte (Associated Press) | Published: 2/22/2022
Several female Nebraska lawmakers railed against the Legislature’s handling of a male state senator who resigned after admitting he took photos of a female subordinate without her consent, calling for an overhaul of their internal policies and recounting their own experiences of being groped, harassed, and belittled. The push by half a dozen female lawmakers from both parties came less than a day after Sen. Mike Groene abruptly stepped down and abandoned his campaign to be a University of Nebraska Regent. Groene said none of the images were sexual in nature and he also snapped pictures of other staffers and office visitors, including his wife.
New Mexico – Appeals Court: Cowboys for Trump is a political committee
MSN – Morgan Lee (Associated Press) | Published: 2/17/2022
A federal appeals court turned away a constitutional challenge by Cowboys for Trump and co-founder Couy Griffin to New Mexico election laws and registration requirements for political groups. The secretary of state’s office prevailed in a June 2020 arbitration decision that ordered Cowboys for Trump to register, file expenditure and contribution reports, and pay a fine of $7,800.
New Mexico – Lobbyist Accuses Dem Senator of Sexual Harassment, Calls for His Removal
NM Political Report – Andy Lyman | Published: 2/22/2022
Lobbyist Marianna Anaya issued an open letter detailing instances where she said she received unwanted sexual comments and advances from New Mexico Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto and called for him to resign. Anaya wrote she confronted Ivey-Soto about a groping incident. She said he acknowledged the incident but stopped short of accepting responsibility. Anaya also alleged in her letter that Ivey-Soto retaliated against her by holding up a voting rights bill in the Senate Rules Committee, which he chairs. Anaya also wrote he had consulted with other women who said they had “similar, or worse interactions” with Ivey-Soto.
New York – Donald Trump and Two of His Children Must Be Deposed by New York Attorney General, Judge Rules
MSN – Shayna Jacobs and Jonathan O’Connell (Washington Post) | Published: 2/17/2022
Former President Trump and two of his adult children must give depositions in a long-running civil investigation into the family’s business practices, a ruling that means the trio could face hours of uncomfortable questioning by investigators in the near future. Attorneys for Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Ivanka Trump tried to get subpoenas for their testimony thrown out. They accused New York Attorney General Letitia James of trying to circumvent the legal process by seeking evidence for the civil matter that she could also use to build a criminal case against the former president and his business.
New York – Prosecutors in Trump Probe Quit After New DA Seems to Abandon Plan to Seek Indictment of Former President
MSN – Shayna Jacobs and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 2/23/2022
The two prosecutors leading the Manhattan district attorney’s criminal investigation into former President Trump and his business resigned amid a pause in their presentation of evidence to a grand jury, throwing the future of the inquiry into doubt. The prosecutors, Carey Dunne and Mark Pomerantz, submitted their resignations after the new district attorney, Alvin Bragg, indicated to them that he had doubts about moving forward with a case against Trump, sources said. The case centers on whether Trump and his business inflated the value of their assets to secure more favorable loans, insurance, and tax rates.
North Carolina – Cawthorn Insurrection Challenge to Re-election Handed a Setback
Bloomberg Law – John Holland | Published: 2/22/2022
Lawyers and voters behind a push to label U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn an insurrectionist, and therefore ineligible to run for re-election, cannot intervene in his federal lawsuit seeking to have the effort ruled unconstitutional. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Myers gave Cawthorn two procedural victories in his quest to block the North Carolina State Board of Elections from investigating the voters’ complaint that Cawthorn “engaged in insurrection or rebellion.” The larger question of whether state election officials can use the 14th Amendment to keep sitting members of Congress from seeking re-election remains and may ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
North Carolina – NC Political Maps Are Official and Election Can Begin, After Court Rulings
MSN – Will Doran (Charlotte Observer) | Published: 2/23/2022
One of the new maps for political districts that North Carolina lawmakers drew is still too skewed to be used in upcoming elections, a state court ruled. The judges overseeing the lawsuit ruled they would accept the newly redrawn versions of maps for the state House and Senate that lawmakers passed, but not the new congressional map. The judges had a group of outside experts draw a new congressional map for the state. An analysis of the map drawn by the outside experts shows it would have more safe seats for Democratic candidates, and fewer tossup seats, than the map the Republican-led Legislature had drawn.
North Dakota – North Dakota Ethics Panel to Further Revise Conflict of Interest Rules; PSC Members Share Views
Bismarck Tribune – Jack Dura | Published: 2/23/2022
The North Dakota Ethics Commission is writing the rules for conflicts-of-interest, including for members of certain boards to disclose conflicts and campaign donations when handling “quasi-judicial” proceedings. Such boards include the Public Service Commissioners and governor-led Industrial Commission, which make decisions usually involving companies in the energy and utility industries. Both boards have their own ethics policies. Chief in the ethics panel’s discussion was the role of a “neutral decisionmaker,” or a designated person to consult for determining whether a public official should recuse themselves from a decision.
Ohio – Will Ohio Politicians Be Held in Contempt of Court for Failing to Pass District Maps?
MSN – Jessie Balmert (Columbus Dispatch) | Published: 2/23/2022
Members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission pleaded with the state Supreme Court not to punish them for failing to pass state House and Senate maps on time. Several Republicans on the commission had declared the task impossible after rejecting Democrats’ proposed maps. Commission members offered excuses to avoid being held in contempt of court, including that seven individuals could not be penalized for the panel’s collective failure to craft maps by February 17.
Oregon – Oregon Supreme Court Says No to Nick Kristof’s Governor Candidacy
OPB – Lauren Drake and Dirk VanderHart | Published: 2/17/2022
Nicholas Kristof, the former New York Times columnist who quit his job to run for Oregon governor, is officially out of the race. The Oregon Supreme Court ruled Kristof cannot legally vie for the governorship because he does not meet the state’s three-year residency requirement for the job. Kristof said the ruling ends his campaign and he will not fight the ruling any further. The decision will reshape the dynamics of the race to replace Gov. Kate Brown. In fundraising, Kristof has far outpaced the other two best-known Democratic primary candidates, former House Speaker Tina Kotek and state Treasurer Tobias Read.
Oregon – Supporters Ask Oregon Supreme Court to Overrule Secretary of State Shemia Fagan’s Decision to Kill Contribution Limit Proposals
MSN – Hillary Borrud (Portland Oregonian) | Published: 2/16/2022
Oregon is one of five states that has no limits on campaign contributions. Reformers proposed limits in three potential ballot initiatives, but Secretary of State Shemia Fagan disqualified them from appearing on the November ballot. Supporters of the limits asked the Oregon Supreme Court to reverse Fagan’s decision, which would effectively end any chance of voters weighing in on contribution limits this year. Fagan said she had to disqualify the ballot proposals due to a 2004 court ruling that initiatives must include the complete text of the law at issue.
Pennsylvania – Doug Mastriano Said He’s Barely Spent Any Money Running for Governor. How Can That Be?
MSN – Andrew Seidman (Philadelphia Inquirer) | Published: 2/21/2022
Pennsylvania Sen. Doug Mastriano built his political brand as an antiestablishment crusader – often directing his harshest criticism not toward Democrats, but at fellow Republicans in Harrisburg. Along with his support for former President Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, it has made him something of an icon among far-right activists. But Mastriano’s unusual expenditure report raises questions about his compliance with campaign finance laws. It underscores Mastriano’s challenge of harnessing the grassroots energy powering his candidacy to build a professional operation even as he shuns consultants and big donors.
Pennsylvania – Former Health Secretary Beam Takes Lobbying Job with UPMC, Raising Concern and Hope
Pennsylvania Capital Star – Stephen Caruso | Published: 2/22/2022
Former Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Alison Beam will become the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s (UPMC) next vice president of government affairs. Beam also served as a top staffer in the state Insurance Department. UPMC is the state’s largest private employer with vast interests, from health care policy to millions of dollars in government contracts at stake in Harrisburg. The hospital chain spent at least $474,000 lobbying lawmakers last year. Beam’s hire raised eyebrows among good government advocates, who highlighted it as a prime example of the “revolving door” between public service and the private sector.
Rhode Island – In Failed Bid to Unseat Cicilline, Republican Candidate Sought Help from Russian Intelligence
Yahoo News – Alex Kuffner (Providence Journal) | Published: 2/21/2022
H. Russell Taub, the onetime Rhode Island Republican congressional candidate who was imprisoned for defrauding political donors three years ago, illegally sought help from Russian intelligence in his failed bid to unseat U.S. Rep. David Cicilline in 2016, the FEC found. Taub violated federal campaign law “by knowingly soliciting, accepting, or receiving a prohibited in-kind foreign national contribution in the form of opposition research related to the candidate’s opponent,” the FEC concluded. Taub admitted wrongdoing as part of a settlement agreement but was excused from paying a $31,000 fine due to “financial hardship.”
South Carolina – Former Richland County Recreation Chief Guilty of Ethics Violations, Ordered to Pay Nearly $36K
Charleston Post and Courier – Stephen Fastenau | Published: 2/16/2022
A former Richland County recreation director violated South Carolina ethics law by signing off on raises to family members who worked under him and must pay fines and restitution. James Brown III Brown must pay an $8,000 fine and $25,250 in forfeited salary increases related to promotions and raises Brown approved for family members during 2012 and 2013. There also was a $2,500 administrative fee. Brown resigned as head of the Richland County Recreation Commission in 2016 amid allegations of sexual harassment and nepotism.
Tennessee – Loopholes Let Lobbyists Flood Lawmakers with Campaign Contributions Despite Prohibition
WTVF – Phil Williams | Published: 2/17/2022
Before 2006, lobbyists could give political contributions directly to Tennessee lawmakers. But since that was outlawed, some lobbyists figured out they could create a PAC, put money into that PAC, and call it a contribution not from the lobbyist, but from the PAC, and get away with essentially the same thing. Some lobbyists show up at fundraisers with checks from their clients or from PACs operated by their clients, a practice known as “bundling.”
Washington DC – A Judge Just Handed Trump a Major Loss in the DC Attorney General’s Lawsuit Over Inauguration Funds as the Case Heads to Trial
Yahoo News – Jacob Shamsian (Business Insider) | Published: 2/15/2022
A judge reinstated the Trump Organization as a defendant in a lawsuit brought by the District of Columbia attorney general over whether former President Trump misused funds for his 2017 inauguration, reversing an earlier decision and handing a loss to Trump as the case heads to trial. Attorney General Karl Racine accused the Trump Organization, the Trump International Hotel in the city, and Trump’s 2017 presidential inaugural committee, which is a tax-exempt nonprofit, of using tax-free funds to improperly pay the family’s business and members of the Trump family.
Wisconsin – Milwaukee Ald. Robert Bauman’s Critical Comments Lead to $1.4 Million Jury Verdict in Defamation Case
Yahoo News – Alison Dirr and Bruce Vielmetti (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) | Published: 2/21/2022
Milwaukee Ald. Robert Bauman’s critical statements about a troubled housing facility in his district in 2007 have landed him on the losing end of a $1.4 million jury verdict, which if paid would be borne by city taxpayers. The jurors found Bauman made untrue statements about Tri-Corp Housing while criticizing its operation of West Samaria, a residential facility for low-income, cognitively disabled people. Tri-Corp argued Bauman, whose district included West Samaria, was liable for critical statements and press releases and for lobbying other officials to rule against the nonprofit in administrative hearings.
Wyoming – Legislation Could Ease and Restrict Voting
Wyoming Eagle Tribune – Maggie Mullins (WyoFile.com) | Published: 2/23/2022
Wyoming lawmakers put forward about a dozen election-related bills at the opening of the budget session. Five remain in play, including one that has garnered national attention, mostly for its implications on Wyoming’s congressional race. The four other bills propose changes to the handling of absentee ballots, campaign finance law, and what is required of political organizations in the state.
February 24, 2022 •
Campaign Finance California: “DWP Commissioner Held Fundraiser for Councilmember Koretz in Violation of City Rules” by John Peltz for Knock LA Elections North Carolina: “Cawthorn Insurrection Challenge to Re-election Handed a Setback” by John Holland for Bloomberg Law Ethics National: […]
California: “DWP Commissioner Held Fundraiser for Councilmember Koretz in Violation of City Rules” by John Peltz for Knock LA
North Carolina: “Cawthorn Insurrection Challenge to Re-election Handed a Setback” by John Holland for Bloomberg Law
National: “Ryan Zinke Broke Ethics Rules While Leading Trump’s Interior Dept., Watchdog Finds” by Anna Phillips and Lisa Rein (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Judge Allows Lawmaker Jan. 6 Lawsuits Against Trump to Proceed” by Todd Ruger (Roll Call) for MSN
New Mexico: “Lobbyist Accuses Dem Senator of Sexual Harassment, Calls for His Removal” by Andy Lyman for NM Political Report
New York: “Prosecutors Leading Trump Fraud Investigation in NY Resign” by William Rashbaum, Ben Protess, Jonah Bromwich, Kate Christobek, and Nate Schweber (New York Times) for MSN
National: “Big U.S. Law Firms Pitch Changes to DOJ ‘Foreign Agent’ Regulations” by Mike Scarcella for Reuters
Pennsylvania: “Former Health Secretary Beam Takes Lobbying Job with UPMC, Raising Concern and Hope” by Stephen Caruso for Pennsylvania Capital Star
Ohio: “Will Ohio Politicians Be Held in Contempt of Court for Failing to Pass District Maps?” by Jessie Balmert (Columbus Dispatch) for MSN
February 22, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Hawaii: “Corruption at The Hawaii Legislature Puts Campaign Donations in the Spotlight” by Kevin Dayton for Honolulu Civil Beat New Mexico: “Appeals Court: Cowboys for Trump is a political committee” by Morgan Lee (Associated Press) for MSN Elections […]
Hawaii: “Corruption at The Hawaii Legislature Puts Campaign Donations in the Spotlight” by Kevin Dayton for Honolulu Civil Beat
New Mexico: “Appeals Court: Cowboys for Trump is a political committee” by Morgan Lee (Associated Press) for MSN
Oregon: “Oregon Supreme Court Says No to Nick Kristof’s Governor Candidacy” by Lauren Drake and Dirk VanderHart for OPB
National: “National Archives Confirms Classified Material Was in Boxes at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Residence” by Matt Zapotosky (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Fed Overhauls Investment and Trading Rules Following Resignations of Top Officials” by Rachel Siegel (Washington Post) for MSN
Illinois: “Judge Cites ‘Common Sense,’ Legal Precedent in Denying Bid to Dismiss Counts in ComEd Bribery Probe” by Jason Meisner (Chicago Tribune) for Yahoo News
Wisconsin: “Milwaukee Ald. Robert Bauman’s Critical Comments Lead to $1.4 Million Jury Verdict in Defamation Case” by Alison Dirr and Bruce Vielmetti (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) for Yahoo News
Florida: “Confidential Records Leaked from Ex-Double-Dipping Collier Deputy Manager’s Office” by Rachel Heimann Mercader (Naples Daily News) for newsonedirect.com
February 21, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “Feds Just Let Ron Paul’s Old Campaign Slide on Likely Violations” by Roger Sollenberger (Daily Beast) for MSN Oregon: “Supporters Ask Oregon Supreme Court to Overrule Secretary of State Shemia Fagan’s Decision to Kill Contribution Limit Proposals” […]
National: “Feds Just Let Ron Paul’s Old Campaign Slide on Likely Violations” by Roger Sollenberger (Daily Beast) for MSN
Oregon: “Supporters Ask Oregon Supreme Court to Overrule Secretary of State Shemia Fagan’s Decision to Kill Contribution Limit Proposals” by Hillary Borrud (Portland Oregonian) for MSN
National: “GOP Lawmakers Are Pushing High-Tech ‘Fraud-Proof’ Ballots. A Texas Company Could Be the Only Supplier.” by Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) for MSN
Arizona: “Arizona Lawmakers Can’t Ignore Their Own Open Meeting Laws, Court Rules” by Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services) for Arizona Daily Star
Hawaii: “Honolulu Ethics Commission Rules Out Gift Disclosure for City Employees” by Christina Jedra for Honolulu Civil Beat
Illinois: “The Illinois Subsidiary of AT&T Is Under Federal Criminal Investigation” by Dave McKinney for WBEZ
New York: “Donald Trump and Two of His Children Must Be Deposed by New York Attorney General, Judge Rules” by Shayna Jacobs and Jonathan O’Connell (Washington Post) for MSN
Tennessee: “Loopholes Let Lobbyists Flood Lawmakers with Campaign Contributions Despite Prohibition” by Phil Williams for WTVF
February 18, 2022 •
National/Federal Arizona GOP Rep. David Schweikert Fined $125,000 by Federal Election Commission for Repeated Campaign Finance Law Violations MSN – Bryan Metzger (Business Insider) | Published: 2/11/2022 U.S. Rep. David Schweikert agreed to pay a $125,000 fine related to repeated campaign […]
Arizona GOP Rep. David Schweikert Fined $125,000 by Federal Election Commission for Repeated Campaign Finance Law Violations
MSN – Bryan Metzger (Business Insider) | Published: 2/11/2022
U.S. Rep. David Schweikert agreed to pay a $125,000 fine related to repeated campaign finance violations he committed between 2010 and 2017. The FEC found Schweikert “knowingly and willfully” misreported who and for what his official funds were used and misused campaign funds for personal affairs. In July 2020, Schweikart was fined $50, 000 by the House ethics committee for the same set of violations. He admitted to 11 different violations of House rules, leading to a formal reprimand.
Biden Orders Release of Trump White House Logs to Congress
Yahoo News – Colleen Long (Associated Press) | Published: 2/16/2022
President Biden is ordering the release of White House visitor logs under Donald Trump to the House committee investigating the riot of Jan. 6, 2021, once more rejecting Trump’s claims of executive privilege. The committee has sought a trove of data from the National Archives, including presidential records that Trump had fought to keep private. The records being released to Congress are visitor logs showing appointment information for individuals who were allowed to enter the White House on the day of the insurrection.
Democrats Push a Matchmaking Service for Tech Workers and Campaigns
NBC News – Alex Seitz-Ward | Published: 2/14/2022
Political campaigns have increasingly become exercises in data management as campaigns try to identify, connect with, and track thousands of voters and volunteers, all while keeping their systems secure from hackers. But the professional networks of tech and campaigns do not often intersect, making it hard for people in either to find one another. Tech skills are some of the most in-demand, and therefore expensive, in the job market. LinkedIn co-founder and liberal donor Allen Blue created DigiDems in 2018 to try to fix that and expand the Democratic Party’s talent pool by recruiting Silicon Valley veterans.
Election Experts Sound Alarms as Costs Escalate and Funding Dwindles
MSN – Mike DeBonis and Amy Gardner (Washington Post) | Published: 2/16/2022
When a global pandemic threatened to throw the 2020 presidential election into chaos, hundreds of millions of dollars flowed to state and local election agencies to ensure they had the resources to conduct a fair and accessible election. Now that money is gone and while the pandemic has ebbed it has not disappeared, and new challenges have arisen, including rising security threats, supply-chain disruptions, and escalating costs for basic materials such as paper ballots. Election officials and voting experts are warning as the midterm elections get underway that new funding is needed to avoid significant problems in November.
Inside the Totally Legal, Fairly Macabre, Classically Political World of the True Zombie PACs
Politico – Hailey Fuchs | Published: 2/11/2022
An investigation found accounts associated with eight late politicians that still have money in the bank, some with hundreds of thousands of dollars, or debts that, according to FEC records, remain unpaid. These zombie PACs and campaign committees have been paying for such things as communications consulting, campaign contributions, car rentals, or fees for former associates. All of it is legal. The ability of the committees of dead politicians to continue paying out money highlights how donations from political supporters can find their way to entities, causes, and individuals far removed from the candidate’s election.
Jan. 6 Panel Targets Key Players in False Trump Elector Strategy
MSN – Nicholas Wu, Kyle Cheney, and Betsy Woodruff Swan (Politico) | Published: 2/15/2022
The House select committee investigating the U.S. Capitol riot targeted two state lawmakers who were instrumental in pushing Donald Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election, as it dives deeper on Republican efforts to send false presidential electors to Washington. The committee subpoenaed Pennsylvania Sen. Doug Mastriano and Arizona Rep. Mark Finchem. Both played key roles and earned Trump’s praise for pressing their colleagues to ratify alternate slates of electors in 2020, which would have thrown out millions of votes in their states.
‘Larry and I Will Always Be Together’: Joe Manchin’s closest political ally cashes in on senator’s rise
MSN – Theodoric Meyer and Jeff Stein (Washington Post) | Published: 2/14/2022
Larry Puccio spent nearly a decade as U.S. Sen. Manchin’s right-hand man, running his campaigns for secretary of state and governor in West Virginia and serving as chief of staff in both offices. Manchin is now the Senate’s swing vote and one of the most powerful people in Washington. A month after Democrats reclaimed the Senate, turning the ability to sway Manchin into a sought-after skill, Puccio registered for the first time as a federal lobbyist. He and a partner have lobbied the Senate almost exclusively, collecting more than $310,000 in addition to his earnings from his state-level lobbying business in West Virginia.
Opposition Research Goes Hyperlocal
New York Times – Reid Epstein | Published: 2/15/2022
Across the United States, there are tens of thousands of state, county, and local officials who will set and enforce the rules on voting, then go about counting and reporting the votes in the elections to come. To the alarm of independent experts, allies of Donald Trump have been targeting these once-anonymous offices, seeking to fill them with hard-core partisans all the way down to the level of precinct captain. Now, the Democratic organization American Bridge, known primarily for its opposition research into Republicans, launched what it says is a $10 million campaign to influence the races for election administration in a dozen key states.
Sarah Palin Loses Jury Trial in Closely Watched New York Times Libel Case
MSN – Elahe Izadi and Sarah Ellison (Washington Post) | Published: 2/15/2022
A jury concluded the New York Times did not libel Sarah Palin in a faulty 2017 editorial, echoing a decision by the judge, who a day earlier said he would dismiss her case regardless of the decision. The jury decision conformed with that of U.S. District Court Judge Jed Rakoff, who said – while the jury was still deliberating and unaware of his comments – that the former Alaska governor had not demonstrated the newspaper acted with “actual malice,” the high legal standard that public figures must demonstrate to claim libel.
Selling Trump: A profitable post-presidency like no other
Yahoo News – Shane Goldmacher and Eric Lipton (New York Times) | Published: 2/12/2022
In the year since Donald Trump left the White House, he has undertaken a wide-ranging set of moneymaking ventures, trading repeatedly on his political fame and fan base in pursuit of profit. Much as he did while in the White House, Trump has blurred the lines between his political ambitions and his business interests. Other past presidents have cashed in financially after leaving the White House. But no former president has been more determined to meld his business interests with a continuing political operation and capitalize on that for personal gain.
These Companies Stopped Campaign Donations to Election Objectors. Their Lobbyists Did Not.
MSN – Emily Birnbaum, Megan Wilson, and Hailey Fuchs (Politico) | Published: 2/15/2022
Throughout 2021, in-house government affairs staff for at least 13 companies gave personal donations to Republicans who objected to the presidential election results. The under-the-radar donations meant that even as the companies stuck to their pledges not to give to the147 Republicans who objected to certifying the election on January 6, 2021, their lobbyists ingratiated themselves with the GOP lawmakers, some of whom are expected to take leadership roles in the House if Republicans take back control in the midterm elections.
Three Hawaii Defense Contractors Charged with Illegal Donations to Sen. Susan Collins
MSN – Spencer Hsu and Emily Davies (Washington Post) | Published: 2/10/2022
Three former executives of a U.S. defense contractor in Hawaii were indicted on federal charges of making unlawful campaign contributions to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and a PAC that supported her. Martin Kao, Clifford Chen, and Lawrence Lum Kee were formerly the chief executive, chief financial officer, and accountant, respectively, for a defense contractor prohibited under federal law from making contributions in federal elections. The company was Martin Defense Group, formerly known as Navatek, the company confirmed.
Trump’s Longtime Accountant Says His Financial Statements Cannot Be Relied Upon
MSN – Jonathan O’Connell and Shayna Jacobs (Washington Post) | Published: 2/14/2022
Former President Trump’s accounting firm informed his company that a decade’s worth of Trump’s financial statements “should no longer be relied upon” and suggested any recipient of the documents be alerted. Mazars helped Trump prepare and which have come under scrutiny recently by New York Attorney General Letitia James. She has alleged in civil filings that Trump used the statements to inflate the value of his properties misstated his personal worth in representations to lenders.
Canada – Emergency Law Invoked as Canadians Mull Identity
Yahoo News – Catherine Porter (New York Times) | Published: 2/14/2022
If the outside world is baffled by the scenes unfolding in the streets of Canada as giant trucks stake out ground in the normally placid capital of Ottawa, so are many Canadians. The chaos of recent weeks has left many wondering if Canada is witnessing the birth of a political alt-right, or if it is a pandemic-induced tantrum that, once exhausted, will leave behind a country bewildered but essentially unchanged. It could also be, some argue, that the so-called freedom convoy is not an aberration at all but a mirror to an integral part of the country.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – Republicans Look to Curb Lobbying Activities by Cities, Counties, School Districts
Arizona Mirror – Jeremy Duda | Published: 2/15/2022
Because cities and counties often oppose legislation they propose, Republican lawmakers are looking to ban them from hiring the contract lobbyists who fight those bills at the Arizona Capitol. On a party-line vote, the Senate Government Committee approved Senate Bill 1198, which prohibits cities, towns, counties, school districts, and other political subdivisions of the state from hiring outside lobbyists. Any organization whose membership is primarily composed of public bodies would be barred from using any of the money they get from membership dues for lobbying.
Connecticut – Top Connecticut Prosecutor to Retire, Not Face Firing, Amid Ethics Probe
Yahoo News – Dave Collins (Associated Press) | Published: 2/10/2022
Embattled Chief State’s Attorney Richard Colangelo Jr. agreed to resign amid mounting pressure over an alleged patronage hiring. Colangelo had been under fire for his decision to hire the daughter of a state budget officer from whom he was seeking raises for himself and other senior employees. U.S. Attorney Stanley Twardy Jr., hired by Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont to investigate that decision, had released a report questioning Colangelo’s credibility.
Florida – Gov. Ron DeSantis Scrambles Florida’s Redistricting Debate, with an Eye to 2022 and Perhaps 2024 Elections
MSN – Colby Itkowitz, Lori Rozsa, and Michael Scherer (Washington Post) | Published: 2/11/2022
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has cast himself as the nation’s boldest conservative Republican leader, his eye on a 2022 reelection campaign and a potential presidential run two years later. It nonetheless shocked even fellow Florida Republicans when DeSantis incited a redistricting battle with his own party, roping the state’s two legislative chambers into the fray and asking the state’s highest court to pick sides. Days before the state Senate was to vote on new congressional district lines in January, DeSantis presented a dramatically more partisan map that boosted Republican seats and eliminated a district where a plurality of voters are Black.
Florida – Rep. Carlos Gimenez’s Son Arrested for Slapping Miami Commissioner in Steakhouse, Police Say
MSN – Charles Rabin, Douglas Hanks, and Linda Robertson (Miami Herald) | Published: 2/11/2022
The son of U.S. Rep. Carlos Gimenez was arrested after police say he slapped a Miami city commissioner earlier in the day at a Morton’s Steakhouse. What triggered the spat, the latest episode in the long-running soap opera of Miami politics, was not immediately clear. But the two men involved, Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla and Carlos Gimenez, a lawyer and lobbyist, are members of powerful political families with ties going back more than a decade.
Florida – To Be Continued: Proposed lobbying, ethics laws to come back to city commission
Yahoo News – Jeff Burlew (Tallahassee Democrat) | Published: 2/16/2022
Recommendations from the Tallahassee Independent Ethics Board to beef up lobbying restrictions and close loopholes allowing unregistered lobbyists to operate without consequence will come back to city commissioners for more discussion during their March meeting. The recommendations include expanding the ethics board’s jurisdiction to include lobbyists appearing before the city, revising the definition of a lobbyist to clear up ambiguity, and requiring lobbyists to maintain contact logs with government officials that would become public record in three days.
Georgia – Stacey Abrams, David Perdue Call Foul on GOP Proposal to Ban Fundraising While Georgia Legislature Is in Session
MSN – Vanessa Williams (Washington Post) | Published: 2/15/2022
Both the Democrat and Republican seeking to oust Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp are calling foul on a proposal by Republican lawmakers that would prohibit fundraising while the state Legislature is in session. Lawmakers say the measure is fair given that current officeholders are prohibited from raising money during the legislative session, but Democrat Stacey Abrams and former U.S, Sen. David Perdue, who is challenging Kemp in the GOP primary, say the proposal unfairly targets their campaigns and gives Kemp an unfair advantage.
Hawaii – Bill Would Ban Hawaii Film Officials from Appearing in Films
Honolulu Civil Beat – Stewart Yerton | Published: 2/16/2022
A Hawaii lawmaker is trying to crack down on what he says was improper behavior by the Maui County film commissioner, Tracy Quinlan, who accepted a substantial part in a television movie being shot on the island, despite the commissioner’s involvement facilitating the industry. Rep. Sean Quinlan’s bill would prohibit movie and television producers, at least those getting cash incentives from the government, from hiring state and county employees “whose official capacity is related to motion picture, digital media, or film production.”
Hawaii – Ex-Hawaii Lawmakers Plead Guilty to Taking Bribes in Office
MSN – Jennifer Sinco Kellehe (Associated Press) | Published: 2/15/2022
Two former Hawaii lawmakers face 20-year prison sentences after pleading guilty to taking bribes in exchange for shaping legislation that would benefit a company involved with publicly financed cesspool conversion projects. As part of agreements to plead guilty to honest services wire fraud, former Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English agreed to forfeit about $15,000 and Former Rep. Ty Cullen agreed to forfeit $23,000, representing the amounts of cash they received. English, who retired from his position last May, told the judge he believed the legislation he was shaping would be beneficial to state residents and the business owner.
Illinois – Senate Approves New Ethics Watchdog Over Objections of Ethics Commission Chair
Yahoo News – Andrew Adams (State Journal-Register) | Published: 2/17/2022
The Illinois Senate approved former federal judge Michael McCuskey to fill the role of legislative inspector general. Controversy has swirled the inspector general selection since the last person in the position, Carol Pope, announced her resignation citing a lack of authority to do the job. The legislative inspector general investigates allegations of corruption, sexual misconduct, and other ethical breaches among members of the General Assembly and state employees in the legislative branch. The resolution now goes to the House.
Kentucky – City Would Register Metro Council Lobbyists Under New Ordinance
WDRB – Marcus Green | Published: 2/14/2022
A proposed city ordinance would require people and organizations that lobby metro council members and other top Louisville officials to register and publicly list the issues they seek to influence. It defines a lobbyist as anyone who is “engaged” to influence decisions of city agencies or to shape nearly all aspects of legislation, from passage to defeat, through communications with elected leaders or their staffs. Councilperson Bill Hollander said the bill is not in direct response to the role developers allegedly played in influencing council member Brent Ackerson in a zoning case that is being challenged in court.
Massachusetts – Michelle Wu Has Raised Over $1 Million for Her Inaugural Festivities, Most of It from Boston’s Power Brokers
MSN – Emma Platoff (Boston Globe) | Published: 2/14/2022
Mayor Michelle Wu has raised more than $1 million for her inaugural festivities, the bulk of it from Boston’s traditional power brokers, including big business, lobbyists, and real estate developers with projects before the city. With ambitions to transform the city, Wu has made it clear she intends to be a different kind of mayor. But her inaugural fund, while more modest than her predecessor’s, places her squarely within an age-old political tradition: tapping the wealthy and powerful to fund festivities where top donors gain access to the city’s new leader.
Michigan – Michigan State Police Raid Home of Ex-Speaker Chatfield’s Top Staffers
Detroit News – Craig Mauger and Beth LeBlanc | Published: 2/15/2022
Michigan State Police troopers searched the home of former House Speaker Lee Chatfield’s top political and legislative staffers, a move one legal expert said would indicate authorities demonstrated there was probable cause a crime was committed. In January, Chatfield’s sister-in-law, Rebekah Chatfield, accused the former speaker of sexually abusing her beginning when she was 15 years old. Political accounts tied to Chatfield directed at least $900,000 in campaign and nonprofit funds to family members, legislative staff, and organizations they led for wages and consulting fees, according to a Detroit News investigation.
New Jersey – Court Halts Union County Government Project, Ruling No-Bid $123.8M Contract Violated N.J. Law
MSN – Ted Sherman (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 2/15/2022
Union County’s $123.8 million government complex that opponents claimed had illegally skirted New Jersey’s public bidding laws was halted by a state appeals court, which said the next phase of the project had to be publicly bid. Dobco, a construction and development company vying for the Union County project, filed lawsuits after the firm was passed over for consideration before the contracts were awarded. Lawyers for Dobco charged the county illegally circumvented state statutes by using their respective improvement authorities to get around New Jersey’s Local Public Contracts Law.
New Mexico – Lobbyist Money Hidden in New Mexico Politics
Capital & Main – Jerry Redfern | Published: 2/14/2022
Legislation proposed by state Sen. Jeff Steinborn would require greater disclosures from lobbyists about their expenditures, and by extension their influence on the bills that become law and those that languish. When trying to figure out whose money is backing what bill, Steinborn says the current lax lobbying laws force legislators to become detectives if they want to find out more about who is behind the bills they’re voting on. A recent ad campaign by the state’s largest oil and gas lobbying group is an inadvertent example of what is not known about money and speech in the state.
Ohio – FirstEnergy Pushed for ‘Cooperative’ Utility Regulator; DeWine Heeded Its Pick
Ohio Capital Journal – Jake Zuckerman | Published: 2/16/2022
FirstEnergy executives and two politicians who the company admitted to bribing unified behind renominating a “very cooperative” incumbent to serve on a regulatory panel. A court filing does not identify the commissioner but refers to an “incumbent” and then-current “PUCO official.” Commissioner Lawrence Friedeman was the only of five incumbents at the time who applied for a seat. He was reappointed by Gov. Mike DeWine to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. The apparent connection between the corruption probe and Friedeman suggests FirstEnergy played some additional role in controlling who would sit on the board that regulates it.
Ohio – For the First time, Cincinnati Council and Mayor Have a Code of Conduct They Must Abide By
WVXU – Becca Costello | Published: 2/16/2022
The Cincinnati City Council approved the first ever code of conduct for council members and their staff. The new rules are part of a series of reforms that stemmed from three council member arrests on federal corruption charges in 2020. All council members and their staff must sign a copy of the code. Future council members and staff will have to sign the document within 45 days of taking office or starting the job. Council could censure a member for violating the code of conduct with a majority vote.
Ohio – Mayor Resigns After Saying Ice-Fishing Shanties Could Lead to Prostitution
MSN – Andrea Salcedo and Hannah Knowles (Washington Post) | Published: 2/15/2022
A debate about a local ban on ice fishing took a viral turn when an Ohio mayor wondered about long-term consequences. Opening Hudson Springs Lake to ice fishing sounds good “on the surface,” Hudson Mayor Craig Shubert said at a recent council meeting, but what if people wanted to fish out of shanties? “Then that leads to another problem: prostitution,” he said. Online derision followed. So did criticism from colleagues. Hudson City Councilperson Nicole Kowalski said people were upset that Shubert “continually embarrasses our town with wild claims.” Shubert resigned on February 14.
Ohio – Shareholders, on Behalf of FirstEnergy Corp., Settle for $180 Million Over House Bill 6 Allegations
MSN – John Caniglia (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 2/10/2022
Shareholders, acting on behalf of FirstEnergy, have agreed to a $180 million settlement with a group of top officials who ran the company during the House Bill 6 scandal. The investors accused the utility’s leaders, including current and former board members and executives, in derivative lawsuits in federal court. The claims sought to make the corporation whole from what authorities called the largest bribery scheme in Ohio history. The settlement calls for FirstEnergy to adopt reforms involving its political spending and lobbying. In a key development, the company will provide greater disclosures of its political activities to shareholders.
Oklahoma – How A State Lawmaker’s Day Job Tiptoed into Lobbying
Oklahoma Watch – Jennifer Palmer | Published: 2/15/2022
Oklahoma Rep. Toni Hasenbeck voted for and often co-authored legislation expanding school choice in 2021, earning her a grade of “A+” in the grassroots lobbying group ChoiceMatters’ ranking of lawmakers. That group’s parent organization hired Hasenbeck for a paid position where she spent some of her time teaching parents how to advocate for school choice, including at the Legislature. ChoiceMatters regularly emails its members with messages to support legislation by contacting their representatives. Her work exemplifies the potential conflict-of-interest that legislators’ day jobs can have on the job voters entrust them with, experts said.
Oregon – Rejected Campaign Finance Ideas Could Have New Life in Oregon Senate Bill
OPB – Dirk VanderHart | Published: 2/10/2022
Proposed ballot measures to cap political donations in Oregon face a tough road to the ballot, after Secretary of State Shemia Fagan rejected them on procedural grounds. Now, one prominent state lawmaker says he will push his fellow legislators to put a similar proposal before voters themselves. Senate Majority Leader Rob Wagner unveiled an amendment that cobbles together elements of several now-defunct proposals from good government groups, labor unions, and advocacy organizations.
Tennessee – Special Interests Spend Estimated $60 Million Every Year to Influence Tennessee State Officials
WTVF – Phil Williams | Published: 2/14/2022
Special interests spend an estimated $60 million a year to influence state officials in Tennessee, according to a media investigation. Because entities that hire lobbyists are not required to report the exact amount they spend on lobbying activities, those dollar amounts reflect a best possible estimate. Employers of lobbyists are required to report ranges of spending. The estimates were derived by picking the mid-point of each reporting range. Former lawmaker Martin Daniel said “money buys access to legislators because those lobbyists are frequently in the Cordell Hull building” where legislative offices are located.
Texas – Texas Counties Reject Unprecedented Numbers of Mail Ballots Ahead of March 1 Primary Under Restrictive New Law
MSN – Amy Gardner (Washington Post) | Published: 2/11/2022
A restrictive new voting law in Texas has sown confusion and erected hurdles for those casting ballots in the state’s March 1 primary, with election administrators rejecting early batches of mail ballots at historic rates and voters uncertain about whether they will be able to participate. In recent days, thousands of ballots have been rejected because voters did not meet a new requirement to provide an identification number inside the return envelope. The rejection rates provide an early opportunity to assess the impact of Senate Bill 1, one of dozens of restrictive voting laws enacted by Republicans across the country last year.
Vermont – As Ethics Bill Goes Back to the Drawing Board, Advocates Grow Weary
VTDigger.org – Lola Dufort | Published: 2/15/2022
Lawmakers created Vermont’s first-ever state ethics commission in 2017 after years of public pressure from government transparency groups and the press. But for good government advocates, the resolution was inadequate. The commission had no investigative or enforcement powers and basically nothing to enforce since no single statutory code of ethics covers all three branches of government. Attempts at reform in the past five years have gone nowhere and a new attempt to make progress on the subject this legislative session is on shaky ground.
Virginia – Deputy Va. Attorney General Resigns After Revelation of Facebook Posts Praising Jan. 6 Rioters, Claiming Trump Won Election
MSN – Justin Jouvenal (Washington Post) | Published: 2/10/2022
A top deputy overseeing election issues for Virginia’s new Republican attorney general resigned after The Washington Post questioned the office about Facebook posts she had made praising January 6, 2021, rioters and falsely claiming Donald Trump won the 2020 election. Former Deputy Attorney General Monique Miles also espoused unfounded conspiracy theories about voter fraud and election interference in more than a dozen Facebook comments that spanned months.
Washington – Seattle Mayor’s Phone Was Manually Set to Delete Texts
Governing – Daniel Beekman and Lewis Kamb (Seattle Times) | Published: 2/14/2022
Former Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s text messages from one of the most tumultuous periods in city history vanished because a phone setting likely was manually changed to delete texts automatically, and ex-Police Chief Carmen Best deleted her texts, a forensic analysis has found. The analysis, which tried but failed to recover the texts and investigated what happened to the public records, including messages exchanged during Seattle’s racial justice protests in the summer of 2020, indicated Durkan’s texts were set in July 2020 to delete after 30 days, and that Best’s texts were “periodically deleted.”
Wisconsin – Wisconsin Supreme Court Allows Lower Court’s Ban on the Use of Ballot Drop Boxes for April Election
Yahoo News – Patrick Marley (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) | Published: 2/11/2022
A closely divided Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled it would allow a lower court decision to go into effect that will ban the use of ballot drop boxes for the April election. Drop boxes can still be used for primaries and it is possible the high court will change course and allow them for other elections. While a final decision is yet to come, the ruling suggests the use of ballot drop boxes could soon come to an end in Wisconsin. Drop boxes became popular during elections in 2020 as the coronavirus spread across the state.
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