October 11, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Montana: “GOP House Candidate Paid Vendors with Bad Checks and Misreported Debts” by Arren Kimbel-Sannit for Montana Free Press Elections National: “Why Little-Noticed State Legislative Races Could Be Hugely Consequential” by Nick Corasaniti (New York Times) for Yahoo […]
Montana: “GOP House Candidate Paid Vendors with Bad Checks and Misreported Debts” by Arren Kimbel-Sannit for Montana Free Press
National: “Why Little-Noticed State Legislative Races Could Be Hugely Consequential” by Nick Corasaniti (New York Times) for Yahoo News
Georgia: “GOP Crisis in Herschel Walker Race Was Nearly Two Years in the Making” by Isaac Arnsdorf, Ashley Parker, Michael Scherer, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Steele Dossier Source Heads to Trial, in Possible Last Stand for Durham” by Salvadore Rizzo and Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “Nury Martinez Steps Down as L.A. City Council President” by Julia Wick, Dakota Smith, David Zahniser, and Benjamin Oreskes (Los Angeles Times) for Yahoo News
Ohio: “Steve Dackin, One-Time Ohio Schools Superintendent, Signs Settlement Agreement for Ethics Violations, Avoids Criminal Prosecution” by Laura Hancock (Cleveland Plain Dealer) for MSN
New York: “New York Lobbyists Hold Sway in Spite of Shake-Ups, Scandals” by Rebekah Ward (Albany Times Union) for Poli-Ticks
Ohio: “Ohio Is About to Hold Elections for Unconstitutional Congressional and Legislative Districts. Here’s How It Happened” by Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) for MSN
October 7, 2022 •
National/Federal DataVault Requests US Election Agency’s Advice to Send NFTs as a Campaign Fundraising Incentive Cointelegraph – Turner Wright | Published: 10/4/2022 The legal team behind nonfungible token (NFT) firm DataVault Holdings requested an advisory opinion from the FEC on using […]
DataVault Requests US Election Agency’s Advice to Send NFTs as a Campaign Fundraising Incentive
Cointelegraph – Turner Wright | Published: 10/4/2022
The legal team behind nonfungible token (NFT) firm DataVault Holdings requested an advisory opinion from the FEC on using NFTs for campaign fundraising efforts. DataVault’s lawyers proposed sending NFTs as “souvenirs” to individuals who donated to political committees, as well as giving the token holder the option to use it for promoting a campaign “strictly on a volunteer basis and without any compensation.” The firm requested the FEC provide guidance on how it may operate as a commercial vendor, issuing the tokens to political committee members seemingly without violating federal campaign finance laws.
Election Officials Confront a New Problem: Whether they can trust their own poll workers
Yahoo News – Zach Montellaro (Politico) | Published: 10/4/2022
Election officials are growing concerned about a new danger in November: that groups looking to undermine election results will try to install their supporters as poll workers. The frontline election workers do everything from checking people in at voting locations to helping process mail ballots. Now, some prominent incidents involving poll workers have worried election officials that a bigger wave of trouble could be on the horizon.
In Trump White House, Classified Records Routinely Mishandled, Aides Say
MSN – Shane Harris, Josh Dawsey, Ellen Nakashima, and Jacqueline Alemany (Washington Post) | Published: 10/4/2022
Aides who worked in Donald Trump’s White House were not surprised when the FBI found highly classified material in boxes at Mar-a-Lago mixed with news clippings and other items. During his four years in office, Trump never strictly followed the rules and customs for handling sensitive government documents, according to 14 officials from his administration. What those ex-Trump aides and advisers saw in an inventory of items recovered by the FBI in August – classified documents in boxes, stored alongside newspaper and magazine articles, books, and gifts – looked to them like the idiosyncratic filing system Trump used in the White House.
Justices Shield Spouses’ Work from Potential Conflict of Interest Disclosures
Yahoo News – Hailey Fuchs, Josh Gerstein, and Peter Canellos (Politico) | Published: 9/29/2022
Over the past year, Virginia Thomas has gotten attention for operating a consulting business that reportedly includes conservative activist groups with interest in U.S. Supreme Court decisions as clients. Her husband, Justice Clarence Thomas, has chosen not to reveal any of his wife’s clients, let alone how much they contributed to the Thomas family coffers, dating back to when her consulting business was founded. A Politico investigation shows potential conflicts involving justices’ spouses extend beyond the Thomas family.
Lawmakers Confront a Rise in Threats and Intimidation, and Fear Worse
MSN – Stephanie Lai, Luke Broadwater, and Carl Hulse (New York Times) | Published: 10/1/2022
Members of Congress in both parties are experiencing a surge in threats and confrontations as a rise in violent political speech has increasingly crossed over into the realm of in-person intimidation and physical altercation. In the months since the attack on the U.S. Capitol, which brought lawmakers and the vice president within feet of rioters threatening their lives, Republicans and Democrats have faced stalking, armed visits to their homes, vandalism, and assaults. It is part of a trend that many fear is only intensifying as lawmakers scatter to campaign and meet with voters around the country ahead of midterm congressional elections.
Politics Are Becoming Tougher to Avoid at Work, Survey Finds
MSN – Taylor Telford (Washington Post) | Published: 10/5/2022
Escalating political tensions in the workplace are creating problems for organizations as midterm elections draw nearer, a new survey found. About 26 percent said they have personally experienced differential treatment (positive and negative) because of their political views or affiliation, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Corporations are under pressure from employees and consumers to weigh in on political issues. But the rise of politics in the workplace has consequences for polarization across the country, said Johnny C. Taylor Jr., SHRM’s chief executive.
Pro-DeSantis Hybrid PAC to File Lawsuit Challenging Unfavorable FEC Ruling
OpenSecrets – Taylor Giorno | Published: 10/3/2022
The political committee Ready for Ron asked the FEC for permission to share a list of supporters and their contact information with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to encourage him to run for president in 2024. The FEC ruled that Ready for Ron cannot share the list if DeSantis becomes a federal candidate or begins “testing the waters” for federal office, as the value would exceed the federal campaign contribution limit. The commission deadlocked on whether Ready for Ron could share the list if DeSantis is not testing the waters or running for federal office. The PAC plans to fille a lawsuit challenging the FEC’s decision.
Supreme Court to Scrutinize U.S. Protections for Social Media
MSN – Andrew Chung (Reuters) | Published: 10/3/2022
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a challenge to federal protections for internet and social media companies freeing them of responsibility for content posted by users. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the lawsuit, relying on as Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. It protects “interactive computer services” by ensuring they cannot be treated as the “publisher or speaker” of any information provided by other users. Democrats have faulted it for giving social media companies a pass for spreading hate speech and misinformation. Republicans painted it as a tool for censorship of voices on the right.
The Onion Files Supreme Court Amicus Brief Defending the Right to Parody
MSN – Rachel Pannett (Washington Post) | Published: 10/4/2022
A man who was arrested over a Facebook parody aimed at his local police department is trying to take his case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The satirical website The Onion filed an amicus brief in support of Anthony Novak. A jury found him not guilty, and he is trying to sue the city for damages. A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit, saying the police had qualified immunity, and an appeals court upheld that decision. “Americans can be put in jail for poking fun at the government?” the brief asked. “This was a surprise to America’s Finest News Source and an uncomfortable learning experience for its editorial team.”
Trump Asks Supreme Court to Intervene in Mar-a-Lago Search Case
MSN – Devlin Barrett and Robert Barnes (Washington Post) | Published: 10/4/2022
Former President Trump’s lawyers asked the Supreme Court to intervene in the Mar-a-Lago documents-seizure case, saying the special master appointed in the matter should be allowed to review the classified papers. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit granted the Justice Department’s request to keep about 100 classified documents separate from a review of documents being conducted by a court-appointed legal expert, called a special master. The department has launched a probe to determine if Trump or his advisers mishandled national security secrets or hid or destroyed government records.
U.S.: Oath Keepers, Rhodes attacked ‘bedrock of democracy’ on Jan. 6
MSN – Spencer Hsu, Rachel Weiner, and Tom Jackman (Washington Post) | Published: 10/3/2022
Members of the extremist group Oath Keepers led by Stewart Rhodes planned for an armed rebellion “to shatter a bedrock of American democracy” – the peaceful transfer of presidential power – culminating in their role in the attack on the U.S. Capitol, a prosecutor said in the first seditious conspiracy trial of the January 6 investigation. Rhodes’ defense attorney Philip Linder said Oath Keepers came to Washington as “peacekeeping” security guards, believing then-President Trump could invoke the Insurrection Act to mobilize private militias, put down riots, and remain in power.
From the States and Municipalities
Alabama – Supreme Court Debates Alabama’s Refusal of Second Black Voting District
MSN – Robert Barnes (Washington Post) | Published: 10/4/2022
The U.S. Supreme Court’s liberal justices combined for an aggressive and unified defense against Alabama’s efforts to limit creation of voting districts in which minorities have the ability to elect candidates of their choice. The case is another major test of the Voting Rights Act, which the court’s conservative majority has diluted in recent years. At the end of oral arguments, it appeared a majority of the court might not embrace Alabama’s request for a broad reinterpretation of how the law is enforced, and that a narrower compromise was a possibility.
Arkansas – Missouri Health Executives Plead Guilty in Widespread Fraud
Stamford Advocate – Associated Press | Published: 9/29/2022
Two former executives of a Missouri health nonprofit pleaded guilty to their roles in a corruption scheme that ensnared several Arkansas elected officials and lobbyists, federal prosecutors said. Bontiea Goss and her husband, Tommy Goss, were executives at Preferred Family Healthcare, which provided services such as substance abuse treatments and counseling to people in Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Illinois. Federal prosecutors said the Gosses and other co-conspirators paid bribes and kickbacks to Arkansas lawmakers to obtain favorable legislation and other official actions that helped the nonprofit.
California – A Cannabis Bribe and Arson: Former Adelanto councilman sentenced to federal prison
MSN – Gregory Yee (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 10/3/2022
Former Adelanto City Councilperson Jermaine Wright was convicted of taking a $10,000 bribe to help open a cannabis business and hiring someone to burn down his restaurant for an insurance payout. He was sentenced to five years in federal prison. Wright told an informant the money had to go to a nonprofit set up to conceal their scheme and he would put the informant on the nonprofit’s board so they could receive the money as well, a pre-sentencing report said.
California – New State Law Could Curb Pay to Play Politics in Orange County & California
Voice of OC – Spencer Custodio | Published: 10/3/2022
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation that bars local elected officials voting on items benefitting contributors who donated more than $250 within the past 12 months. Elected officials could return the campaign donations within 14 days of finding out about the contribution, which would allow them to vote on the item. In Orange County, an FBI corruption investigation into Anaheim City Hall that touches on Disneyland resort area interests has put a renewed focus on campaign finance, spurring calls of campaign finance reform.
Florida – The Story Behind DeSanti’s Migrant Flights to Martha’s Vineyard
Yahoo News – Edgar Sandoval, Miriam Jordan, Patricia Mazzei, and J. David Goodman (New York Times) | Published: 10/2/2022
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a budget that set aside $12 million to create a program for transporting unauthorized migrants out of Florida. He touted it as the highlight of the state’s new spending when it came to immigration. But just three months later, the money was being used to round up Venezuelan asylum seekers on the streets of San Antonio and shipping them on private planes to Massachusetts. Details have begun to emerge of the clandestine mission. In the middle of it all was a woman with a background in military counterintelligence who investigators believe was sent to Texas from Tampa to fill the planes.
Georgia – Federal Judge Upholds Georgia Election Law in Challenge Brought by Abrams
MSN – Matthew Brown (Washington Post) | Published: 10/1/2022
A federal judge upheld Georgia’s election laws in a blow to Fair Fight Action, the voting rights group founded by Stacey Abrams, who also is the state’s Democratic gubernatorial nominee. Abrams’ group filed a lawsuit against the Georgia’s secretary of state soon after her 2018 election defeat, arguing the state’s absentee ballot policies, which require an “exact match” for names and addresses between voters’ IDs and voter registration records, represented “gross mismanagement” of the state’s election systems that violated Georgia voters’ constitutional rights.
Georgia – Georgia DA: GOP bankrolling lawyers for ‘fake’ Trump electors ‘rife with serious ethical problems’
Yahoo News – Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman | Published: 10/4/2022
The Georgia Republican Party is bankrolling the legal defense of most of the so-called fake electors in the state as part of a controversial arrangement that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis charges in a new court filing is “rife with serious ethical problems” and “actual conflicts-of-interest.” Wills has launched a sprawling probe into Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. Willis escalated the legal battle over the issue when she moved to disqualify the two lawyers being paid by the state GOP.
Georgia – Herschel Walker Paid for Girlfriend’s Abortion, Report Says
MSN – Bill Barrow (Associated Press) | Published: 10/3/2022
Herschel Walker, who has vehemently opposed abortion rights as the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Georgia, paid for an abortion for his girlfriend in 2009, according to a report. Walker called the accusation a “flat-out lie” and said he would sue. The Daily Beast reviewed a receipt showing her $575 payment for the procedure, along with a get-well card from Walker and her bank deposit records showing the image of a personal check from Walker dated five days after the abortion receipt. The woman said Walker encouraged her to end the pregnancy, saying the time was not right for a baby.
Louisiana – Louisiana Officials Use Campaign Cash to Buy LSU, Saints Tickets
Louisiana Illuminator – Julie O’Donoghue | Published: 10/4/2022
Forty-nine Louisiana politicians spent $181,600 from their campaign accounts and PACs on tickets to collegiate and professional sporting events in 2020 and 2021. Over half of those purchasing the tickets were state lawmakers, but the group also includes the governor, sheriffs, district attorneys, and a state Supreme Court justice. State law prohibits elected officials from using campaign money for “personal use,” but sports tickets have long been considered a legitimate expense. The practice is legal so long as officials can explain why the spending is related to their campaign or job, said Kathleen Allen, the state’s ethics administrator.
Maryland – Nash Seeking Clarity on Lobbying Rules After Ethics Decision
Yahoo News – Ryan Marshall (Frederick News-Post) | Published: 10/5/2022
Frederick Alderwoman Katie Nash will not challenge a decision by the city’s Ethics Commission that some of her professional lobbying activities violated city rules in court and is seeking guidance for future work. The commission found Nash, a lobbyist registered with the state, improperly emailed coordinators for various city Neighborhood Advisory Councils and others, encouraging them to raise concerns with the county about plans to shift coverage of paramedic services in parts of the city. Nash also asked that information about avoiding conflicts be made available to candidates when they file.
Massachusetts – Former State Police Union Boss Dana Pullman and Former Lobbyist Anne Lynch Face Trial for Alleged Kickback Schemes
MSN – Shelly Murphy (Boston Globe) | Published: 10/3/2022
Dana Pullman, the former leader of the Massachusetts State Police union, is on trial on charges he took kickbacks totaling $41,250 from a union lobbyist, Anne Lynch, and diverted thousands of dollars from the union for personal expenses, including flowers, gifts, a Florida vacation, and meals at upscale restaurants with a girlfriend. When announcing the charges in August 2019, federal authorities accused Pullman of running the union “like an old-school mob boss” and tapping the union’s account as if it was “his own personal piggy bank.”
Michigan – Michigan’s Proposal 1 Would Change Term Limits, Require Financial Disclosure for Lawmakers
Yahoo News – Clara Hendrickson (Detroit Free Press) | Published: 10/6/2022
Michigan voters will have a chance to decide this November whether they want to end the current term limits for state lawmakers in favor of reducing the total number of years lawmakers can serve in Lansing while increasing the number of times they can seek reelection in either chamber. The proposal would also establish new financial disclosure requirements for some elected officeholders. It would require annual reports describing their assets and sources of income, positions held outside of state government, agreements or arrangements regarding future employment, gifts and travel payments received, among other requirements.
Missouri – Missouri Ethics Commission Hobbled Again After Parson Pulls Appointees
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Jack Suntrup | Published: 9/29/2022
The Missouri Ethics Commission again is unable to function, at least temporarily, because it does not have enough members. Gov. Mike Parson removed three members of the panel on recently, said Liz Ziegler, executive director of the commission. Ziegler said Parson took the three members off the ethics commission “due to the special legislative session” the governor had called on tax relief.
Montana – Commissioner of Political Practices to Step Down Before Term Ends
Helena Independent Record – Sam Wilson | Published: 10/3/2022
Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Jeff Mangan announced on social media he will be retiring before his term ends, stepping down just before Election Day. Not since Dennis Unsworth’s departure at the end of 2010 has anyone served out a full term as commissioner. Past commissioners have at times come under fire for bringing a perceived partisan bias to their work investigating political complaints. Republican lawmakers have for years brought legislation seeking to disband the office or reduce the power commissioners wield.
New Mexico – NM Sen. Ivey-Soto Resigns from the Chairman Position of an Influential Committee
Source New Mexico – Shaun Griswold | Published: 9/29/2022
Fallout from a harassment complaint filed against New Mexico Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto has now affected his position of power as a lawmaker in Santa Fe. Ivey-Soto submitted a letter resigning as chairperson of the Senate Rules Committee. His resignation as chair shields lawmakers from having to take a public position on Ivey-Soto’s behavior at the Capitol. A meeting to discuss Senate committee assignments would have been the first public discussion and vote by lawmakers about Ivey-Soto after an investigation about sexual harassment allegations against Ivey-Soto.
New York – City Council Redistricting Drama Underscores Dropped Commission Ethics Policy
Gotham Gazette – Ethan Geringer-Sameth | Published: 10/3/2022
New York City’s redistricting process was thrown into disarray in September after the commission responsible for drawing new city council district lines voted down its own draft map. An aide to Mayor Eric Adams individually lobbied his appointees on the commission to vote no, activity the mayor has denied knowing about. There are few formal barriers in place to prevent conflicts-of-interest between the 15 redistricting commissioners and the elected officials who appointed them.
New York – Contender for Top NYC City Hall Post Left Trail of Penalties and Debt as a Lobbyist
MSN – Michael Gartland (New York Daily News) | Published: 10/3/2022
Tiffany Raspberry, who currently serves as a senior advisor for external affairs in New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ administration, is being considered as the mayor’s next chief of staff. Before her stint at City Hall, Raspberry worked as a lobbyist through her firm York Group Associates. The firm failed to follow city and state disclosure requirements dozens of times between 2011 and 2020, leading to nearly $38,000 in fines for late and incorrect filings. Records reveal Raspberry’s former clients are still registered to lobby on both the city and state levels.
New York – Hochul Says She Had No Role in New York’s $637M Deal with Campaign Donor
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 10/6/2022
Gov. Kathy Hochul said that before her staff authorized $637 million in payments to a major campaign donor, she was never asked to give final approval to the taxpayer-funded deal for COVID-19 tests from Digital Gadgets. The governor also said she was not briefed about the cost of the purchase orders, which were significantly higher than what other companies had charged for providing rapid tests to New York. Before finalizing the deals, Digital Gadgets had little history as a distributor of COVID-19 tests. The company’s chief executive officer, Charlie Tebele, held campaign fundraisers for Hochul around the time the contract was awarded.
Ohio – Cleveland Police Commander Faces Discipline for Hiding His Work with Private Security Companies, Failing to Pay Taxes
MSN – Adam Ferrise (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 9/28/2022
Cleveland police Commander Michael Butler faces accusations involving his work for private security companies, including that he hid from city officials his work for the businesses during a time he led the city’s efforts at staffing both officers and security firms for major events, according to an internal disciplinary letter. The city’s letter also said Butler broke state law by failing to pay taxes on income he had earned.
Ohio – FirstEnergy Fights to Keep Records Tied to Bribery Scheme from the Public
Ohio Capital Journal – Jake Zuckerman | Published: 10/5/2022
FirstEnergy, which has admitted to spending tens of millions of dollars bribing top government officials in Ohio, asked state regulators to shield documents about its bribes from release to the public. The company’s request will soon be decided by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, whose former chairperson, Sam Randazzo, allegedly accepted a $4.3 million bribe from the utility for favorable regulatory treatment. The records could unmask the identities of several government officials and energy executives that FirstEnergy anonymously identified in its deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department.
Ohio – Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose Creating Public Integrity Unit in Office Reorganization
MSN – Andrew Tobias (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 10/5/2022
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose is reorganizing his office to form a “public integrity” unit, a shuffling he said will include hiring of investigators with the authority to issue subpoenas to look into potential elections-related crimes. The secretary of state would make the decision on what cases to pursue. Any cases would be turned over to the attorney general’s office or local county prosecutors, which play a role in enforcing state criminal laws, or the Ohio Elections Commission, which is a clearinghouse for violations of state elections law. The move comes as increasing numbers of Republican voters view the accuracy of elections with suspicion.
Oklahoma – Okla. GOP Ties Hospital’s Covid Funds to End of Gender-Affirming Care
MSN – Kimberly Kindy (Washington Post) | Published: 10/4/2022
Oklahoma lawmakers added a controversial provision before awarding the state’s largest hospital system $108 million in pandemic relief funds. OU Health would only get the money if its Oklahoma Children’s Hospital stopped providing gender-affirming care. The move, which the governor signed into law, marks the first time that conservative state lawmakers have tied gender-affirming care to the receipt of funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. Some advocates worry it might embolden other Legislatures with GOP majorities to add similar restrictions before allocating money to publicly funded hospitals.
Oregon – City Elections Office Upholds Campaign Penalty Against Council Candidate Rene Gonzalez
Portland Mercury – Alex Zielinski | Published: 9/29/2022
Portland City Council candidate Rene Gonzalez’s appeal of a $77,000 campaign finance violation was rejected by the Small Donor Elections program. Gonzalez had argued that accepting a $250 monthly rate for an office rental in downtown Portland that normally goes for a monthly rate of $6,900 was not an in-kind contribution from property owner Jordan Schnitzer. According to Gonzalez, that is because vacancy rates are so high in downtown Portland the office would have gone unrented if his campaign had not occupied the space.
Pennsylvania – As TV Doctor, Mehmet Oz Provided Platform for Questionable Products and Views
MSN – Colby Itkowitz and Lenny Bernstein (Washington Post) | Published: 10/3/2022
As a Republican candidate for a U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania, a key battleground in the fight for control of the chamber, Mehmet Oz, a cardiothoracic surgeon, is putting his medical background and his popular television show at the center of his campaign pitch. But during the show’s run from 2009 to 2021, Oz provided a platform for potentially dangerous products and fringe viewpoints, aimed at millions of viewers, according to medical experts, public health organizations, and federal health guidance.
Pennsylvania – Unresolved Gray Areas in Pa. Mail Voting Law Likely to Spur Fresh Confusion, Legal Challenges
Spotlight PA – Stephen Caruso and Katie Meyer | Published: 10/5/2022
Some key questions on mail ballots remain unsettled in Pennsylvania, opening the door for more legal action and confusion after the upcoming gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races. State lawmakers in 2019 passed a bipartisan overhaul of the state’s election law and allowed no-excuse mail voting for the first time. That law does not say, for instance, whether counties should be able to contact voters who have submitted mail ballots with errors and allow them to fix them, a process known as ballot curing. The law also does not mention ballot drop boxes or how they should be regulated.
Texas – Ethics Commission Shelves Lobbying Complaint Against Austin Pets Alive! Employee
Austin Monitor – Chad Swiatecki | Published: 10/3/2022
The Ethics Review Commission opted not to move forward with a lobbying complaint against Katie Jarl, a member of the city’s Animal Advisory Commission who also works in a governmental affairs job for Austin Pets Alive (APA). The complaint was based on the likelihood that Jarl was involved in lobbying activity for APA in 2021 when it was negotiating with the city for a long-term lease for a shelter property. City laws bar a registered lobbyist from serving on boards and commissions.
Texas – Fort Worth City Manager Apologizes After Reprimanded for Trip with Sundance Square Owners
MSN – Lana Ferguson (Dallas Morning News) | Published: 10/5/2022
Fort Worth City Manager David Cooke was publicly reprimanded for taking a trip to Colorado on a private plane with Ed and Sasha Bass. Some argue the trip was, in part, to promote the city, but Cooke said it was a “personal trip with friends.” Cooke will remain in his role but must recuse himself from all city business tied to Sundance Square, which the Basses own, and the Downtown Public Improvement District. Mayor Mattie Parker and the city council said Cooke’s decision to take the Labor Day weekend trip to Aspen showed “questionable judgement” and that, when asked about it, he “exercised poor communication to the public.”
Virginia – IT Issues Stall Voter-Records Processing for 107,000 in Virginia
MSN – Laura Vozzella (Washington Post) | Published: 10/5/2022
Local registrars across Virginia began scrambling to process about 107,000 voter records dumped on them overnight by the state Department of Elections, where computer network failures had left applications in limbo for months. Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s office blamed unspecified technical problems for the backlog, which affected new voter registration applications, address updates, and other changes submitted through the Department of Motor Vehicles. Registrars do not face a hard deadline for processing registrations, but state law requires they notify voters of their polling place 15 days before an election.
Virginia – Virginia Paid Governor Youngkin’s Political Ad Agency $268K to Make a Tourism Ad – Featuring Youngkin.
Richmond Times-Dispatch – Patrick Wilson | Published: 10/5/2022
The political advertising agency behind Glenn Youngkin’s successful bid for Virginia governor, which created his branding, received a $268,600 contract from a state agency to produce a tourism video that heavily features Youngkin himself. The ad will appear in Virginia’s airports and welcome centers at a time when the governor is considering a run for president and is seeking to boost his national image. Poolhouse specializes in digital advertising for GOP candidates. It was formed in 2013 and has never performed marketing work for the state before the Youngkin tourism advertisement.
October 6, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “DataVault Requests US Election Agency’s Advice to Send NFTs as a Campaign Fundraising Incentive” by Turner Wright for Cointelegraph Virginia: “Virginia Paid Governor Youngkin’s Political Ad Agency $268k to Make a Tourism Ad – Featuring Youngkin.” by […]
National: “DataVault Requests US Election Agency’s Advice to Send NFTs as a Campaign Fundraising Incentive” by Turner Wright for Cointelegraph
Virginia: “Virginia Paid Governor Youngkin’s Political Ad Agency $268k to Make a Tourism Ad – Featuring Youngkin.” by Patrick Wilson for Richmond Times-Dispatch
Georgia: “Georgia DA: GOP bankrolling lawyers for ‘fake’ Trump electors ‘rife with serious ethical problems’” by Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman for Yahoo News
Pennsylvania: “Unresolved Gray Areas in Pa. Mail Voting Law Likely to Spur Fresh Confusion, Legal Challenges” by Stephen Caruso and Katie Meyer for Spotlight PA
National: “Politics Are Becoming Tougher to Avoid at Work, Survey Finds” by Taylor Telford (Washington Post) for MSN
Ohio: “FirstEnergy Fights to Keep Records Tied to Bribery Scheme from the Public” by Jake Zuckerman for Ohio Capital Journal
Oklahoma: “Okla. GOP Ties Hospital’s Covid Funds to End of Gender-Affirming Care” by Kimberly Kindy (Washington Post) for MSN
Maryland: “Nash Seeking Clarity on Lobbying Rules After Ethics Decision” by Ryan Marshall (Frederick News-Post) for Yahoo News
Alabama: “Supreme Court Debates Alabama’s Refusal of Second Black Voting District” by Robert Barnes (Washington Post) for MSN
October 5, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “Pro-DeSantis Hybrid PAC to File Lawsuit Challenging Unfavorable FEC Ruling” by Taylor Giorno for OpenSecrets Louisiana: “Louisiana Officials Use Campaign Cash to Buy LSU, Saints Tickets” by Julie O’Donoghue for Louisiana Illuminator Montana: “Commissioner of Political Practices […]
National: “Pro-DeSantis Hybrid PAC to File Lawsuit Challenging Unfavorable FEC Ruling” by Taylor Giorno for OpenSecrets
Louisiana: “Louisiana Officials Use Campaign Cash to Buy LSU, Saints Tickets” by Julie O’Donoghue for Louisiana Illuminator
Montana: “Commissioner of Political Practices to Step Down Before Term Ends” by Sam Wilson for Helena Independent Record
Georgia: “Herschel Walker Paid for Girlfriend’s Abortion, Report Says” by Bill Barrow (Associated Press) for MSN
National: “U.S.: Oath Keepers, Rhodes attacked ‘bedrock of democracy’ on Jan. 6” by Spencer Hsu, Rachel Weiner, and Tom Jackman (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Trump Asks Supreme Court to Intervene in Mar-a-Lago Search Case” by Devlin Barrett and Robert Barnes (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “The Onion Files Amicus Brief in Support of Ohio Man’s Facebook Page” by Jared Gans (The Hill) for Yahoo News
California: “A Cannabis Bribe and Arson: Former Adelanto councilman sentenced to federal prison” by Gregory Yee (Los Angeles Times) for MSN
New York: “Contender for Top NYC City Hall Post Left Trail of Penalties and Debt as a Lobbyist” by Michael Gartland (New York Daily News) for MSN
October 4, 2022 •
Campaign Finance California: “New State Law Could Curb Pay to Play Politics in Orange County & California” by Spencer Custodio for Voice of OC Ethics National: “Trump’s Lawyer Refused His Request in February to Say All Documents Returned” by Josh […]
California: “New State Law Could Curb Pay to Play Politics in Orange County & California” by Spencer Custodio for Voice of OC
National: “Trump’s Lawyer Refused His Request in February to Say All Documents Returned” by Josh Dawsey and Jacqueline Alemany (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Supreme Court to Scrutinize U.S. Protections for Social Media” by Andrew Chung (Reuters) for MSN
Florida: “The Story Behind DeSantis’s Migrant Flights to Martha’s Vineyard” by Edgar Sandoval, Miriam Jordan, Patricia Mazzei, and J. David Goodman (New York Times) for Yahoo News
Massachusetts: “Former State Police Union Boss Dana Pullman and Former Lobbyist Anne Lynch Face Trial for Alleged Kickback Schemes” by Shelly Murphy (Boston Globe) for MSN
New Mexico: “NM Sen. Ivey-Soto Resigns from the Chairman Position of an Influential Committee” by Shaun Griswold for Source New Mexico
Texas: “Ethics Commission Shelves Lobbying Complaint Against Austin Pets Alive! Employee” by Chad Swiatecki for Austin Monitor
New York: “City Council Redistricting Drama Underscores Dropped Commission Ethics Policy” by Ethan Geringer-Sameth for Gotham Gazette
September 30, 2022 •
National/Federal Brooklyn’s Library Moves to Slip Books Through Red State Bans MSN – Madina Touré (Politico) | Published: 9/24/2022 The front line of America’s culture war now runs straight through the nation’s school libraries, with conservatives in dozens of states outlawing […]
Brooklyn’s Library Moves to Slip Books Through Red State Bans
MSN – Madina Touré (Politico) | Published: 9/24/2022
The front line of America’s culture war now runs straight through the nation’s school libraries, with conservatives in dozens of states outlawing books and instruction and the left working to shield targeted authors. Organizations in deep-blue New York are stepping into the fray by directly lending 25,000 books to non-residents since spring, including thousands of students living under the bans. Hundreds of titles have been shelved in nearly 3,000 schools across 26 states, according to the nonprofit free speech group PEN America.
D.C. Court Asked to Decide If Trump Denied Rape Claim as Part of Job
MSN – Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) | Published: 9/27/2022
A federal appeals court panel asked the District of Columbia’s highest court to decide whether Donald Trump was acting within the scope of his job as president when he denied a rape allegation dating back to the 1990s, a pivotal question that will determine whether the woman can keep pursuing a defamation lawsuit against him. A three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit overturned portions of a federal judge’s previous ruling allowing columnist E. Jean Carroll to pursue a defamation case against Trump over his denials of her rape allegation.
How Kevin McCarthy’s Political Machine Worked to Sway the GOP Field
Raleigh News and Observer – Michael Scherer, Josh Dawsey, Isaac Arnsdorf, and Marianna Sotomayor (Washington Post) | Published: 9/27/2022
The political machine around U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has spent millions of dollars this year in a sometimes secretive effort to systematically weed out Republican candidates who could either cause McCarthy trouble if he becomes speaker or jeopardize GOP victories in districts where a more moderate candidate might have a better chance at winning. The allies close to McCarthy have sometimes taken steps to conceal their efforts with money passing from top GOP donors through organizations that do not disclose their donors or have limited public records, federal disclosures show.
In a Big Jan. 6 Case, Oath Keepers Go on Trial for Seditious Conspiracy
NPR – Ryan Lucas | Published: 9/27/2022
In the highest-profile prosecution so far stemming from the attack on the U.S. Capitol, the founder of the Oath Keepers and four other individuals linked to the far-right, anti-government group are on trial, facing seditious conspiracy and other charges stemming from the deadly assault. Stewart Rhodes, who established the Oath Keepers in 2009, and his co-defendants are accused of spending months recruiting, training, and conspiring to use force to prevent the transfer of presidential power to Joe Biden. Prosecutors allege the plot included stashing guns just outside Washington, D.C for a quick reaction force to rush into the city if necessary.
Inside the Civil Rights Campaign to Get Big Tech to Fight the ‘Big Lie’
MSN – Naomi Nix (Washington Post) | Published: 9/22/2022
A coalition of five dozen civil rights organizations is criticizing Silicon Valley’s biggest social media companies for not taking more aggressive measures to counter election misinformation on their platforms in the months leading up to November’s midterm elections. Comments by civil rights activists shed light on the political pressures tech companies face behind the scenes as they make high-stakes decisions about which potentially rule-breaking posts to leave up or take down in a campaign season in which hundreds of congressional seats are up for grabs.
Lawmakers, Challengers Plan Fundraising Blitz Ahead of Friday Deadline
MSN – Kate Ackley (Roll Call) | Published: 9/28/2022
Lawmakers and challengers are planning a fundraising blitz ahead of the quarterly deadline, the last big one before the November midterms, which are on track to be the priciest nonpresidential cycle yet. The onslaught of appeals includes desperate-sounding emails, as well as more than 100 in-person events for members of both parties to raise campaign money from K Street lobbyists and PAC donors while Congress is in session. The uncertainty of which parties will control the Senate and House next year has helped to motivate donors.
Nancy Pelosi’s Congressional Stock Trading Ban Has a Massive Blind Trust Loophole and Is Too Broad, Ethics Experts Warn
MSN – Bryan Metzger (Business Insider) | Published: 9/28/2022
House Democratic leaders have released the text of a bill that would ban members of Congress, senior congressional staff, Supreme Court justices, and members of the executive branch from owning or trading individual stocks. Ethics experts are already warning that the bill, called the Combatting Financial Conflicts of Interest in Government Act, has a major flaw when it comes to blind trusts. The Project on Government Oversight noted a provision that allows for the creation of blind trusts that do not comply with existing regulations currently outlined in the Ethics in Government Act, which the bill would amend.
Project Veritas Loses Jury Verdict to Democratic Consulting Firm
MSN – Jonathan Stempel (Reuters) | Published: 9/23/2022
A federal jury found Project Veritas, a conservative group often accused of using deceptive tactics, liable for violating wiretapping laws and misrepresenting itself in an undercover effort to target Democratic political consultants. Democracy Partners claimed it had been infiltrated by a Project Veritas operative who lied about her name and background to obtain an internship during the 2016 presidential campaign, and secretly recorded conversations while working there.
Rep. Lauren Boebert’s Campaign May Be Violating Election Law in Trying to Sell Her
MSN – Zach Everson (Forbes) | Published: 9/27/2022
U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert’s campaign has placed advertisements directing supporters to buy her new memoir from retailers, an arrangement that may violate campaign finance laws. Boebert’s ad on WinRed directs supporters to buy her books from retailers like Amazon, which could theoretically lead to royalties. A spokesperson for Boebert’s campaign said the ad follows previous guidance from the FEC but a campaign finance law expert, Brett Kappel, disagrees.
Republicans Block Probe of Contributions by Chinese Elites to Trump PAC Through Spa Operator
MSN – Sheridan Wall (McClatchy) | Published: 9/27/2022
Campaign finance complaints against an Asian day-spa operator from South Florida who allegedly funneled contributions from Chinese elites, likely including foreign nationals, to a campaign committee backing then-President Trump have been dismissed. The action by the FEC came despite a staff finding that laws likely were broken. A Miami Herald investigation found that over an 18-month period, Yang published online ads targeting overseas clients – mostly from China – promoting Trump fundraisers as opportunities to mingle with the then-president, his family, and other top Republicans.
Supreme Court to Hear 2 Cases with Major Implications for 2024
MSN – Zach Montellaro (Politico) | Published: 9/29/2022
The U.S. Supreme Court will consider a case out of North Carolina that asks the justices to revoke the ability of state courts to review election laws under their states’ constitutions. A validation of the so-called Independent State Legislature theory underpinning the case could reshape American elections. Another case from Alabama involves a challenge to the state’s congressional map and whether Black voters’ power was illegally diluted. The result could kick back open congressional redistricting in several states two years after the entire nation went through a redraw.
Top State Judges Make a Rare Plea in a Momentous Supreme Court Election Case
DNyuz – Adam Liptak (New York Times) | Published: 9/26/2022
The Conference of Chief Justices, a group representing the top state judicial officers in the nation, filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in a politically charged election-law case. The brief urged the court to reject a legal theory pressed by Republicans that would give state Legislatures extraordinary power. If the Supreme Court adopts the theory, it will radically reshape how federal elections are conducted by giving state lawmakers independent authority, not subject to review by state courts, to set election rules in conflict with state constitution.
Trump Lawyers Argue to Limit White House Aides’ Testimony to Jan. 6 Grand Jury
MSN – Jacqueline Alemany, Spencer Hsu, Devlin Barrett, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 9/23/2022
Lawyers for former President Trump have entered a high-stakes legal battle seeking to limit the scope of former top White House aides’ testimony to a federal grand jury that is investigating efforts to overturn the 2020 elections. The action sets up a potentially precedent-setting struggle that could affect the Justice Department’s investigation of the Capitol attack and address the scope of a former president’s assertion of executive or attorney-client privilege to preserve the confidentiality of advisers’ communications.
Trump Objects to Verifying List of Property Seized from Florida Estate – Court Filing
Reuters – Jacqueline Thomsen and Sarah Lynch | Published: 9/29/2022
Lawyers for former President Trump are resisting a federal judge’s instruction to submit a sworn declaration on whether they believe the government’s list of property taken from Trump’s Florida estate is accurate. The former president’s legal team told Judge Raymond Dearie, who is reviewing the materials taken in the federal raid of the Florida property, that they do not believe Dearie has the authority to require them to make such a filing. Trump has repeatedly claimed without evidence that the FBI planted evidence.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – Arizona Supreme Court Says Lone Arizona Regulator Bob Burns Can Seek Utility Docs
MSN – Bob Christie (Associated Press) | Published: 9/28/2022
The Arizona commission that regulates utilities cannot prevent a single member from issuing subpoenas to investigate companies the panel oversees, the state Supreme Court ruled. The former commissioner who filed the case, Bob Burns, said the ruling will prevent others on the commission from uniting to shield utilities from scrutiny. Burns has fought for years to get the state’s largest electric utility to acknowledge it spent millions to elect two Arizona Corporation Commission members in the 2014 election.
Arizona – As More States Create Election Integrity Units, Arizona Is a Cautionary Tale
MSN – Beth Reinhard and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez (Washington Post) | Published: 9/26/2022
A Washington Post examination of an endeavor in Arizona to systematically ferret out voter fraud found it has turned up few cases and rather than bolster confidence in elections, the absence of massive fraud has fueled more bogus theories and distrust. Arizona’s experience shows the damaging consequences that can result when public officials use their power to reinforce false claims that voter fraud is a significant issue in American elections.
Arkansas – Arkansas Senate Suspends Clark, Strips Him of Seniority for Filing Frivolous Ethics Complaint
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette – Michael Wickline | Published: 9/27/2022
The Arkansas Senate voted to suspend Sen. Alan Clark and strip him of seniority until the regular session begins on January 9. Clark filed an ethics complaint against Sen. Stephanie Flowers alleging she violated the chamber’s code of ethics by accepting legislative per diem payments for participating by Zoom in the Senate’s regular session meetings in 2021. The Senate found that complaint was frivolous.
California – Despite Scandals, Key California Politicians Glide Toward Reelection. Here’s Why
MSN – Mackenzie Mays and Hannah Wiley (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 9/28/2022
Three of California’s eight statewide constitutional officers up for reelection in November, all Democrats, have had missteps or faced allegations of misconduct during their first four years in office, but voters do not seem to mind. June’s primary election results show all three are likely to cruise to reelection, a phenomenon that political analysts chalk up to the power of incumbency, California’s polarized politics, and voter apathy toward lesser-known offices.
California – Gov. Gavin Newsom Signs Law Inspired by $2 Million Bounty to Influence Insurance Commissioner
MSN – Sophia Bollag (San Francisco Chronicle) | Published: 9/22/2022
Lobbyists in California are prohibited from charging “success fees” for achieving a desired outcome for their clients. But an investigation by The Sacramento Bee earlier this year revealed that loopholes allowed some companies to pay those fees to influence some decisions by state officials without having to report them. Under a new law, paid efforts to influence decisions or approvals by the insurance commissioner and the director of the Department of Managed Health Care are considered lobbying and lobbyists would have to disclose such activity.
Colorado – Colorado Adopts New Contribution Limits for School Board Campaigns
Colorado Politics – Hannah Metzger | Published: 9/23/2022
The Colorado secretary of state’s office adopted new campaign finance regulations to implement contribution limits passed earlier this year. The changes stem from two bills approved during this year’s legislative session and signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis: House Bill 1060, which caps donation amounts made to school board candidates, and House Bill 156, which updates reporting requirements for public officials.
Connecticut – Some Bridgeport Politicians Scored Free Tickets to Sound on Sound
MSN – Brian Lockhart (Connecticut Post) | Published: 9/27/2022
When tens-of-thousands of music lovers convened at Bridgeport’s Seaside Park for the first Sound on Sound music festival, some of the city’s elected leaders and department heads were among them. But unlike those other ticket holders, these officials received free admission. Howard Saffan, the developer of the concert amphitheater and one of the partners behind Sound on Sound, said no official was given free tickets. He said certain individuals, such as the mayor police chief, were all granted “credentials” for access.
Florida – Florida Migrant-Moving Company Gave GOP Cash, Has Ties to DeSantis’ Immigration ‘Czar’ and Rep. Matt Gaetz
MSN – Marc Caputo (NBC News) | Published: 9/22/2022
The air charter company Gov. Ron DeSantis’s administration hired for his controversial migrant-moving program has contributed money to some top allies of the governor and was once legally represented by Rep. Matt Gaetz and his former partner, who is now Florida’s “public safety czar” in charge of immigration policy. The administration has refused to release a copy of the $12 million contract with Vertol Systems Company for its role in administering the “unauthorized alien” program nor will the governor’s office comment on the $1.6 million the firm has received to send migrants to so-called “sanctuary” cities.
Georgia – Georgia to Replace Voting Machines in Coffee County After Alleged Security Breach
MSN – Amy Garder, Emma Brown, and Jon Swaine (Washington Post) | Published: 9/23/2022
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced he intends to replace some election equipment in a county where forensics experts working last year for pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell copied virtually every component of the voting system. Some election-security experts have voiced concerns the copying of the Coffee County software, used statewide in Georgia, risks exposing the entire state to hackers, who could use the copied software as a road map to find and exploit vulnerabilities. Raffensperger’s office has said security protocols would make it virtually impossible for votes to be manipulated without detection.
Hawaii – Hawaii Commission Fines Kai Kahele’s Campaign for Illegal Solicitations
Honolulu Civil Beat – Blaze Lovell | Published: 9/22/2022
The Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission fined U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele’s gubernatorial campaign $1,000 for improperly soliciting donations from lists of donors who had contributed to David Ige’s 2014 run for governor. Ige’s office got a complaint from a constituent about a letter from Kahele’s campaign asking for a donation. “I found this [letter] very annoying … how did Kahele get this info?” the message read. The governor’s office forwarded the complaint to campaign spending commission staff, which also obtained the letter from Kahele’s campaign asking for a small-dollar contribution.
Idaho – They’re Women. They’re LDS. And They’re Speaking Their Minds on Politics.
Idaho Capital Sun – Audrey Dutton | Published: 9/28/2022
Many members of the Idaho chapter of Mormon Women for Ethical Government (MWEG) are women who, faithful to a religion that tends to be culturally conservative and Republican-aligned, describe being alarmed by the increasing vitriol and manufactured outrage in the state’s politics. Nationally, MWEG is focused on protecting democracy, bipartisan immigration reform, environmental issues, and anti-racism efforts. Chapters have leeway in what they choose to work on. One rule is some topics are off-limits – same-sex marriage and abortion, for example – because they have proven to be incendiary even in a group that strives for rational debate.
Illinois – ‘Deceptive’ Chicago City Wire Hitting Mailboxes Looks Like a Newspaper. But It’s Really a Conservative Campaign Mailer
Book Club Chicago – Noah Asimow | Published: 9/23/2022
The Chicago City Wire has appeared in thousands of mailboxes in the city and suburbs recently. It looks like any local newspaper, but its content and funders tell a different story. The publication and others like it are a product of Local Government Information Services, which is responsible for dozens of conservative news sites in Illinois. Residents said they did not subscribe to the newspapers but assumed the publications were legitimate. While media law experts said the publications were protected by the First Amendment, they said they were essentially political mailers, intentionally disguised as newspapers.
Kentucky – Officials Testify About Kentucky’s Troubled Campaign Finance Reporting System
Spectrum News – Joe Ragusa | Published: 9/28/2022
State lawmakers said they may cut ties with a company tasked with overhauling Kentucky’s campaign finance reporting system. Sen. Damon Thayer, who sponsored the 2019 legislation requiring online reporting, said he is considering a bill to switch back to paper filing for 2023 so they can bring on a new company to rework the filing system. “This has been a complete and utter failure,” Thayer said. Several lawmakers detailed their individual issues with the system during a legislative committee meeting.
Maine – Defense Contractor Pleads Guilty to Making Illegal Contributions to Sen. Collins 2020 Campaign
Lewiston Sun Journal – Colin Woodard (Portland Press Herald) | Published: 9/28/2022
The former chief executive of a defense firm pleaded guilty to illegally funneling more than $200,000 to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins’ campaign and a PAC that supported her 2020 reelection campaign. Martin Kao, head of the engineering firm Navatek, was charged with violating federal laws prohibiting defense contractors from making such contributions. Prosecutors alleged he and two other company executives had engaged in a conspiracy to funnel the money through family members and a shell company. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy, funneling contributions, and two counts of making false statements to authorities.
Michigan – Slotkin Renting Lansing Condo from Campaign Donor, Business Executive
MLive – Jordyn Hermani | Published: 9/23/2022
U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin is reportedly leasing a residency in Lansing from a medical manufacturing firm executive and donor to her congressional campaign. The firm, Niowave, is a business which manufactures medical radioisotopes. Jerry Hollister, a member of Niowave’s board and director of government relations for the firm, is the official owner of the condo which Slotkin is renting according to a copy of the lease. News of this has led for some conservative groups to question the nature of the relationship between Hollister and Slotkin, saying his company has benefitted from her time in office.
Missouri – Former Page Appointee to Plead Guilty to Corruption Charges
MSN – Christine Byers (KSDK) | Published: 9/28/2022
A former high-level political appointee of St. Louis County Executive Sam Page is expected to plead guilty to federal corruption charges involving a COVID-19 relief funds fraud scheme. Tony Weaver, who Page appointed as the change management coordinator at the county Justice Services Center, was indicted along with three St. Louis alderman after an FBI informant wore a wire capturing them involved in a series of alleged schemes. Weaver is accused of participating in a plan to get COVID-19 relief funds for local businesspeople in exchange for a share of the money.
New Mexico – New Mexico Supreme Court Rules Ethics Violation Isn’t Necessarily a Crime
KRQE – Anna Padilla | Published: 9/26/2022
The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that an ethical violation by a public official is not a crime. Their ruling focused on four high-profile cases that were all charged under a new statute passed by the Legislature. The ruling reverses the appeals court, which stated the ethics legislation created a criminal charge. The Supreme Court were ruling on whether the law was written so loosely that it should not be used as a criminal statute.
New York – Hochul Campaign Hired Son of Donor Tied to $637M ‘Pay-to-Play’ COVID Deal
New Yorl Post – Zach Williams, Bernadette Hogan, and Bruce Golding | Published: 9/28/2022
The son of a major donor to New York Gov. Kathy Hochul was hired by her campaign right around the time his father hosted a fundraiser for the governor and just weeks before the family’s company obtained a deal to sell the state $637 million in overpriced COVID-19 tests. James Tebele began working for Hochul’s campaign as a finance intern in November and appears to have risen in the ranks, or at least pay scale, of her campaign as his father’s fundraising for the governor increased.
New York – Lawsuit Seeks to Strike Key Plank of NY Ethics Law
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 9/26/2022
A lawsuit is seeking to strike down a key provision of New York’s revamped ethics law that Gov. Kathy Hochul has touted as creating greater independence for the state’s new watchdog panel. The lawsuit challenging the new commission’s confirmation process was filed by Gary Lavine, who was nominated to serve by Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt. Lavine’s nomination was rejected by a panel established to scrutinize candidates. Lavine is seeking a judgment that giving a “committee of private citizens” power to confirm or veto nominees violates three articles of New York’s constitution, including one reserving that confirmation power for the state Senate.
Ohio – Ex-PUCO Chair Sam Randazzo Scores Legal Win as Appeals Court Overturns Order to Seize $8 Million in Assets
MSN – Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 9/28/2022
A state appeals court panel overturned a lower court order allowing the state attorney general’s office to seize up to $8 million in assets from Sam Randazzo, handing a legal win to the former chairperson of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. Randazzo, whom FirstEnergy admitted to paying $4.3 million in bribes, was accused by Attorney General Dave Yost of selling four properties worth a total of $4.8 million and transferring another $500,000 house to his son in order to prevent them from being potentially seized. Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge Chris Brown agreed to allow Yost’s office to freeze up to $8 million.
Oregon – Portland City Council Hopeful Rene Gonzalez Fires Back at Elections Officials, Demands They Waive $77,000 Fine
Portland Oregonian – Shane Dixon Kavanaugh | Published: 9/27/2022
Portland City Council candidate Rene Gonzalez formally asked elections officials to waive a $77,000 fine, arguing a deeply discounted downtown office space he received from a wealthy supporter does not run afoul of the city’s campaign finance rules. Since May, Gonzalez’s campaign has paid a $250 a month to rent the space Susan Mottet, director of Portland’s Small Donor Elections Program, said that is just a fraction of the $6,900 a month “fair market value” for the office. The unreported, 96 percent discount was also an illegal in-kind contribution under the city’s public matching funds program, alleged Mottet.
Pennsylvania – Final Lobby Order Issued
Pennsylvania Newsroom – Staff | Published: 9/19/2022
The State Ethics Commission fined Cigna $42,700 for violations of Pennsylvania’s lobbying law. The commission found Cigna failed to file on time with the Department of State either a quarterly expense report or statement of failure to meet the reporting threshold for the fourth quarter of 2021.
Pennsylvania – Mayoral Candidate Cherelle Parker Became a Harrisburg Lobbyist Days After Resigning from City Council
MSN – Sean Collins Walsh (Philadelphia Inquirer) | Published: 9/28/2022
Philadelphia’s Home Rule Charter requires city officials to resign from their positions to run for an office other than the one they currently hold. The uncommon “resign to run” rule often puts city council members eyeing the mayor’s office in a difficult position because it means giving up their more than $130,000 salary. Mayoral candidate Cherelle Parker registered as a lobbyist in Harrisburg 12 days after she resigned her council seat. Ethics experts have long criticized the “revolving door” of former elected officials lobbying their former colleagues on behalf of corporate clients shortly after leaving government.
Pennsylvania – Retrial for Philadelphia Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson Set to Begin This Week
WHYY – Aaron Moselle | Published: 9/27/2022
Philadelphia City Councilperson Kenyatta Johnson is on trial again on bribery charges. During the lawmaker’s first trial earlier this year, a judge declared a mistrial, setting up a second proceeding that again threatens to end Johnson’s political career and send him to prison. The case centers on an alleged quid-pro-quo scheme involving Johnson, his wife Dawn Chavous, and two former nonprofit executives. Prosecutors say Johnson accepted nearly $67,000 in bribes from Universal Companies in exchange for political favors that benefited the organization, a developer, and charter school operator.
South Dakota – Noem’s State Plane Use Scrutinized
MSN – Stephen Groves (Associated Press) | Published: 9/24/2022
Several trips in 2019 where South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem blurred the lines between official travel and attending either family or political events sparked a complaint to the state ethics board, which has referred the matter to the Division of Criminal Investigation. A county prosecutor overseeing the investigation will decide whether the governor broke an untested law enacted by voters in 2006 to rein in questionable use of the state airplane.
Texas – Court Denies Paxton’s Request to Reverse Ruling Preventing AG Voter Fraud Investigations
MSN – Philip Jankowski and Allie Morris (Dallas Morning News) | Published: 9/28/2022
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rejected a request from state Attorney General Ken Paxton to reconsider a ruling that has hamstrung his office’s ability to investigate and prosecute election fraud. Judge Scott Walker said granting the attorney general the power to unilaterally prosecute voter fraud violates the separation of powers outlined in the Texas Constitution and “usurps” the power of district and county attorneys.
Washington – Spokane City Council Raises Campaign Contribution Cap to $1,000
Yahoo News – Colin Tiernan (Spokane Spokesman-Review) | Published: 9/27/2022
The Spokane City Council voted to change city law and raise the individual donor limit from $500 to $1,000. The law had allowed $1,000 donations for races in which a politician spent more than $11,500 of their own money, or a third party spent more than that amount supporting or opposing a candidate. Politicians have had to seek out more donors to fund their campaigns with the $500 cap, city councilperson Zack Zappone said. But he said that increase in donors has been overshadowed by an increase in independent expenditures.
September 29, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “How Kevin McCarthy’s Political Machine Worked to Sway the GOP Field” by Michael Scherer, Josh Dawsey, Isaac Arnsdorf, and Marianna Sotomayor (Washington Post) for Raleigh News and Observer National: “Lawmakers, Challengers Plan Fundraising Blitz Ahead of Friday […]
National: “How Kevin McCarthy’s Political Machine Worked to Sway the GOP Field” by Michael Scherer, Josh Dawsey, Isaac Arnsdorf, and Marianna Sotomayor (Washington Post) for Raleigh News and Observer
National: “Lawmakers, Challengers Plan Fundraising Blitz Ahead of Friday Deadline” by Kate Ackley (Roll Call) for MSN
Kentucky: “Officials Testify About Kentucky’s Troubled Campaign Finance Reporting System” by Joe Ragusa for Spectrum News
Maine: “Defense Contractor Pleads Guilty to Making Illegal Contributions to Sen. Collins 2020 Campaign” by Colin Woodard (Portland Press Herald) for Lewiston Sun Journal
California: “Despite Scandals, Key California Politicians Glide Toward Reelection. Here’s Why” by Mackenzie Mays and Hannah Wiley (Los Angeles Times) for MSN
National: “D.C. Court Asked to Decide If Trump Denied Rape Claim as Part of Job” by Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) for MSN
Arizona: “Arizona Supreme Court Says Lone Arizona Regulator Bob Burns Can Seek Utility Docs” by Bob Christie (Associated Press) for MSN
Idaho: “They’re Women. They’re LDS. And They’re Speaking Their Minds on Politics.” by Audrey Dutton for Idaho Capital Sun
Pennsylvania: “Mayoral Candidate Cherelle Parker Became a Harrisburg Lobbyist Days After Resigning from City Council” by Sean Collins Walsh (Philadelphia Inquirer) for MSN
September 26, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Hawaii: “Hawaii Commission Fines Kai Kahele’s Campaign for Illegal Solicitations” by Blaze Lovell for Honolulu Civil Beat Elections National: “Inside the Civil Rights Campaign to Get Big Tech to Fight the ‘Big Lie’” by Naomi Nix (Washington Post) […]
Hawaii: “Hawaii Commission Fines Kai Kahele’s Campaign for Illegal Solicitations” by Blaze Lovell for Honolulu Civil Beat
National: “Inside the Civil Rights Campaign to Get Big Tech to Fight the ‘Big Lie’” by Naomi Nix (Washington Post) for MSN
Georgia: “Georgia to Replace Voting Machines in Coffee County After Alleged Security Breach” by Amy Garder, Emma Brown, and Jon Swaine (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Project Veritas Loses Jury Verdict to Democratic Consulting Firm” by Jonathan Stempel (Reuters) for MSN
National: “Dearie Asks Trump Lawyers Whether They Believe FBI Lied About Seized Documents” by Perry Stein (Washington Post) for MSN
Florida: “Florida Migrant-Moving Company Gave GOP Cash, Has Ties to DeSantis’ Immigration ‘Czar’ and Rep. Matt Gaetz” by Marc Caputo (NBC News) for MSN
Michigan: “Slotkin Renting Lansing Condo from Campaign Donor, Business Executive” by Jordyn Hermani for MLive
California: “Gov. Gavin Newsom Signs Law Inspired by $2 Million Bounty to Influence Insurance Commissioner” by Sophia Bollag (San Francisco Chronicle) for MSN
September 23, 2022 •
National/Federal A Landmark Supreme Court Fight Over Social Media Now Looks Likely MSN – Robert Barnes and Ann Marimow (Washington Post) | Published: 9/19/2022 Conflicting lower court rulings about removing controversial material from social media platforms point toward a landmark U.S. […]
A Landmark Supreme Court Fight Over Social Media Now Looks Likely
MSN – Robert Barnes and Ann Marimow (Washington Post) | Published: 9/19/2022
Conflicting lower court rulings about removing controversial material from social media platforms point toward a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision on whether the First Amendment protects tech companies’ editorial discretion or forbids its censorship of unpopular views. The stakes are high not just for government and the companies, but because of the increasingly dominant role platforms such as Twitter and Facebook play in American democracy and elections. Social media posts have the potential to amplify disinformation or hateful speech, but removal of controversial viewpoints can stifle public discourse about important political issues.
Appeals Court: Justice Dept. can use Mar-a-Lago documents in criminal probe
MSN – Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 9/21/2022
An appeals court sided with the Justice Department in a legal fight over classified documents seized in a court-authorized search of former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, ruling the FBI may use the documents in its ongoing criminal investigation. The decision by a three-judge panel of the appeals court marks a victory for the Justice Department in its legal battle with Trump over access to the evidence to determine if the former president or his advisers mishandled national security secrets or hid or destroyed government records.
Apple Flexes Muscle as Quiet Power Behind App Group
Yahoo News – Emily Birnbaum (Bloomberg) | Published: 9/19/2022
The APP Association brands itself as the leading voice for thousands of app developers around the world. The majority of its funding comes from Apple, however. The tech giant is not a member of the association, but it plays a dominant behind-the-scenes role shaping the group’s policy positions, according to four former App Association employees. In fact, critics note, the association’s lobbying agenda tracks closely with Apple’s even when it is at odds with app developers, the companies that make the individual games and programs that run on Apple’s iPhone and other devices.
DeSantis Draft Effort Pushes Ahead After Campaign Finance Watchdog Deadlocks
MSN – Zach Montellaro (Politico) | Published: 9/15/2022
An effort to draft Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis into the 2024 presidential race promised to proceed with an unusual attempt to boost his would-be campaign, after the FEC deadlocked on a request for guidance about whether the strategy was legal. Ready for Ron is a federal PAC that wants to build a list of up to 1 million people urging DeSantis to run. But with those names, the group wants to deliver would-be supporters’ email addresses and phone numbers to DeSantis. The FEC has said candidates can rent or buy supporter lists compiled by other groups, but they cannot accept something of such value as a gift without breaking contribution limits.
Fugitive in Massive Navy Bribery Case Caught in Venezuela
Yahoo News – Associated Press | Published: 9/22/2022
Leonard Francis, a Malaysian defense contractor nicknamed “Fat Leonard” who orchestrated one of the largest bribery scandals in U.S. military history, was arrested in Venezuela after fleeing before his sentencing. The arrest came on the eve of his scheduled sentencing in a federal court for a bribery scheme that lasted more than a decade and involved dozens of U.S. Navy officers. The U.S. government faces an uphill challenge returning the fugitive back to American soil.
Gaetz Sought Pardon Related to Justice Department Sex Trafficking Probe
MSN – Jacqueline Alemany and Amy Gardner (Washington Post) | Published: 9/17/2022
U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz told a former White House aide that he was seeking a preemptive pardon from then-President Trump regarding an investigation in which he is a target, according to testimony given to the House select committee investigating the attack on the Capitol. Asked by investigators if Gaetz’s request for a pardon was in the context of the Justice Department investigation into whether he violated federal sex trafficking laws, Johnny McEntee replied, “I think that was the context, yes,” according to people familiar with the testimony.
Greg Norman Finds Friendly Faces, Harsh Criticism on Capitol Hill Trip
MSN – Rick Maese (Washington Post) | Published: 9/21/2022
As a federal antitrust case winds its way through the court system, LIV Golf chief executive Greg Norman visited Capitol Hill, receiving mixed reviews from lawmakers as he tried to sell them on his breakaway tour that has upended the golf word. While some lawmakers seemed receptive to Norman, others questioned LIV Golf’s Saudi financing and said Congress should not spend time intervening in a business dispute between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour. LIV Golf and seven of its golfers have sued the PGA Tour, saying it violated antitrust laws, allegations the Justice Department is also reportedly probing.
House Passes Bill to Prevent Efforts to Subvert Presidential Election Results
MSN – Amy Wang (Washington Post) | Published: 9/21/2022
The House passed an electoral reform bill that seeks to prevent presidents from trying to overturn election results through Congress, the first vote on such an effort since the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob seeking to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral win. The Presidential Election Reform Act would clearly reaffirm the vice president has no role in validating a presidential election beyond acting as a figurehead who oversees the counting process, barring that person from changing the results.
Jan. 6 Committee Reaches Deal with Ginni Thomas for an Interview
MSN – Jacqueline Alemany and Azi Paybarah (Washington Post) | Published: 9/21/2022
The House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection reached an agreement with Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, to be interviewed by the panel in coming weeks. Virginia Thomas, a longtime conservative activist, pushed lawmakers and top Republican officials to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election, citing baseless claims of widespread voter fraud.
Old Money: How retirees are funding and fueling political candidates unlike ever before
Yahoo News – Madison Hall (Business Insider) | Published: 9/20/2022
Retirees are becoming one of the most powerful financial forces in politics as they spend their savings to fuel federal-level campaigns. By the 2020 election cycle, retirees accounted for more than 20 percent of contributions, amounting to more than $378 million. Retirees’ expanded influence coincides with the rapid increase in politicians fundraising by email and text message – and targeting older Americans with never-ending solicitations. Older Americans, many of whom are retired, tend to be more engaged politically and represent a larger share of each party’s base, said Sheila Krumholz, executive director at OpenSecrets.
Senate Republicans Block Bill to Require Disclosure of ‘Dark Money’ Donors
MSN – Amy Wang (Washington Post) | Published: 9/22/2022
Senate Republicans blocked legislation that would have required super PACs and other groups to disclose donors who give $10,000 or more during an election cycle, a blow to Democrats’ efforts to reform campaign finance laws. Spending in election cycles by corporations and the ultrawealthy through so-called dark money groups has skyrocketed since the 2010 Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. FEC, which allowed incorporated entities and labor unions to spend unlimited amounts of money to promote or attack candidates.
The ‘Cost’ of Voting in America: A look at where it’s easiest and hardest
Seattle Times – Nick Corasaniti and Allison McCann (New York Times) | Published: 9/21/2022
A new study ranks all 50 states based on the overall investment a resident must make, in time and resources, to vote. The 2022 edition of the Cost of Voting Index, a nonpartisan academic study that seeks to cut through the politics of voting access, focused on 10 categories related to voting, including registration, inconvenience, early voting, polling hours, and absentee voting. The study’s emphasis on early-voting options meant states like Washington and Oregon, where voting is conducted entirely by mail, ended up at the top of the rankings.
TikTok to Ban Campaign Fundraising, Require Verification for Political Accounts
MSN – Gina Martinez (CBS News) | Published: 9/21/2022
TikTok announced it is banning campaign fundraising on its platform. It also announced new policies for political accounts, including “mandatory verification.” The ban will include videos asking for donations, and videos from political parties directing people to a contribution page on their website. Verification will ensure that anyone watching content belonging to a government, politician, or political party account will know that the account is “genuine” and the source is “authentic.”
Trump Adviser’s Trial May Shed Light on Foreign Influence Campaigns
MSN – Rebecca Davis O’Brien (New York Times) | Published: 9/19/2022
The trial of Thomas Barrack, an informal adviser to former President Trump accused of acting as an unregistered agent of the United Arab Emirates, could shed light on how foreign governments jockeyed for access to the Trump administration, efforts that may have created lucrative opportunities for businesspeople close to the White House. Prosecutors have accused Barrack of using his sway with Trump to advance the interests of the Emiratis and of serving as a secret back channel for communications without disclosing his efforts to the attorney general, as the government contends that he should have.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – 14 AZ Lawmakers Took 9-Day Europe Trip Sponsored in Part by Lobbyists and More Are Coming
MSN – Ray Stern (Arizona Republic) | Published: 9/18/2022
Fourteen Arizona lawmakers took a free trip to Germany recently, where they met government and business officials. Lobbyist firms and taxpayers funded the lawmakers’ expenses as part of a state House international relations program. The trip may have had trade benefits, but lawmakers should still take care to avoid the perception they are receiving gifts that could influence their policy making, said John Pelissero of the Markula Center for Applied Ethics. The number of lawmakers and that they could take their spouses seemed excessive to Pelissero, who called the trip a “junket.”
California – Former USC Dean Admits to Arranging Bribery Payment for Mark Ridley-Thomas
Yahoo News – Michael Finnegan and Matt Hamilton (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 9/15/2022
A former University of Southern California dean agreed to plead guilty to bribery, admitting she arranged an illicit $100,000 payment for Mark Ridley-Thomas when he was on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in return for a university contract with the county. Marilyn Flynn’s admission of guilt strikes a major blow to Ridley-Thomas, now a Los Angeles city council member who has been suspended while he defends against federal charges of bribery, fraud, and conspiracy. Flynn’s plea also reduces the likelihood that evidence related to U.S. Rep. Karen Bass, the front-runner in the race for Los Angeles mayor, would get a public airing at trial.
California – Gov. Gavin Newsom Strips Fresno County Supervisors’ Power to Draw Election Lines
Sacramento Bee – Juan Esparza Loera | Published: 9/19/2022
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation to give redistricting duties in Fresno County to a 14-member commission. Assemblyperson Joaquín Arámbula said it was the only way to ensure the Latino community gets a fair chance at political representation after the next census. Arámbula and community organizations said county supervisors cannot be trusted to draw fair and equitable districts because supervisorial districts have changed little despite a spike in Latino population.
California – Legal Pot Spawned a Wave of Corruption, Threats and Secret Financial Deals for Politicians
MSN – Adam Elmahrek, Robert Lopez, and Ruben Vives (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 9/15/2022
California’s decision to legalize recreational cannabis ushered in a multibillion-dollar commercial market that officials in many small, struggling communities hoped would bring new jobs and an infusion of tax revenue. But the advent of commercial marijuana unleashed a wave of corruption that has rocked local governments across the state and left them with few effective tools to combat the problem. The industry has donated campaign money to local government officials as cannabis became a powerful special interest. Lobbyists and others say bribery and shakedowns have become so commonplace in licensing that it feels like a normal part of doing business.
California – Santa Clara Mayor Asks Newsom to Give Campaign Donor a Break
San Jose Spotlight – Joseph Geha | Published: 9/21/2022
Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor lobbied California Gov. Gavin Newsom to help a major real estate firm save money on the largest mixed-use development planned in the state, months before the developer made a six-figure donation to her campaign. Gillmor advocated that Related Companies should not be required to pay prevailing wages to workers. Related formed a local PAC to support Gillmor as she runs for reelection and funded it with $100,000. Executives from the company also donated to Gillmor’s mayoral election campaign in 2018, two years after the project was approved by the city council.
California – Trial of Corruption Case Against California Sheriff to Begin
Yahoo News – Associated Press | Published: 9/21/2022
A longtime San Francisco Bay Area sheriff is on trial on public corruption allegations involving her office’s granting of concealed-carry weapons permits and costly jail mismanagement. The unusual case against Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith is a civil process to seek removal of an elected official but is similar to a criminal case. The trial follows an investigation into allegations that Smith’s office traded concealed weapons permits for donations to her reelection campaign and mismanaged the jails, where mentally ill inmates died or were injured.
Florida – Jury Awards $3 Million to Garbage Contractor in Opa-locka Corruption Lawsuit
MSN – Tess Riski (Miami Herald) | Published: 9/20/2022
A jury awarded a $3 million judgment to a garbage contractor that sued Opa-locka in 2017 alleging corruption and extortion in a city that has for years been plagued with financial and political turmoil. Jurors found the city failed to act in good faith with Universal Waste Services of Florida (UWS). Representatives of UWS made accusations of extortion against former city Commissioner Terence Pinder, who died in an apparent suicide in 2016, two days before he was scheduled to turn himself in on state bribery charges.
Florida – Migrants Flown to Martha’s Vineyard File Class-Action Lawsuit Against DeSantis
MSN – Amy Wang (Washington Post) | Published: 9/20/2022
A group of Venezuelan migrants who were flown from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard – allegedly after being falsely promised work and other services – filed a class-action lawsuit against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and other officials who arranged the flights, saying the officials used fraud and misrepresentation to persuade them to travel across state lines. The migrants are seeking unspecified damages, as well as the cost of their legal fees, for emotional and economic harm.
Georgia – Georgia 2020 Election Inquiry May Lead to Prison Sentences, Prosecutor Says
MSN – Matthew Brown and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) | Published: 9/15/2022
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, the prosecutor investigating efforts by Donald Trump and his allies to challenge the 2020 election results in Georgia, said her team has heard credible allegations that serious crimes have been committed and she believes some individuals may see jail time. At least 17 people have been notified they are targets of the criminal investigation, meaning they could eventually face charges. More targets will be added to the list soon, Willis said.
Georgia – Video Shows Trump Allies Handling Georgia Voting Equipment
Yahoo News – Danny Hakim, Richard Fausset, and Nick Corasaniti (New York Times) | Published: 9/20/2022
Newly released videos show allies of former President Trump and contractors who were working on his behalf handling sensitive voting equipment in a rural Georgia county weeks after the 2020 election. The footage, which was made public as part of litigation over Georgia’s voting system, raises new questions about efforts by Trump affiliates in a number of swing states to gain access to and copy sensitive election software, with the help of friendly local election administrators.
Illinois – State Sen. Emil Jones III Took Bribes from Red-Light Camera Company, Lied to Feds: Charges
WTTW – Heather Cherone | Published: 9/20/2022
Federal prosecutors charged Illinois Sen. Emil Jones III with three felonies, alleging he took a bribe from a firm that installed red-light cameras throughout the state and lied to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents. After being approached by a former executive for Safe Speed, the red-light company, who was cooperating with law enforcement, Jones agreed to limit the scope of his bill to study red-light cameras only in Chicago, where the firm did not operate, prosecutors say. In return, the executive agreed to pay Jones $5,000 and to provide a job to an unidentified associate of Jones.
Maryland – Opinion Says Nash’s Lobbying Violated City Ethics Ordinance
Yahoo News – Ryan Marshall (Frederick News-Post) | Published: 9/16/2022
Frederick Alderwoman Katie Nash violated the city’s ethics rules by lobbying on behalf of a firefighter union’s concerns about county emergency services coverage in the city, an Ethics Commission ruled. Nash, a lobbyist registered with the state, improperly emailed people, including coordinators for various Neighborhood Advisory Councils, encouraging them to raise concerns with the county about plans to shift coverage of paramedic services in parts of the city, according to the opinion. Nash was a paid lobbyist for the International Association of Firefighters Local 3666 when she sent out emails and press releases.
Michigan – Former Macomb Public Works Boss Marrocco Pleads Guilty in Corruption Probe
Yahoo News – Christina Hall (Detroit Free Press) | Published: 9/20/2022
Former Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Anthony Marrocco pleaded guilty to attempted extortion in federal court in a yearslong corruption probe that netted more than 20 other people. Prosecutors alleged he used an aide and others to shake down builders and contractors for donations to his fundraisers. If they did not contribute, the indictment said, Marrocco retaliated by holding up building permits, denying payment to vendors, and refusing to award contracts to firms. The charge to which he pleaded guilty carries up to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000.
Michigan – Here’s the Punishment for Warren Councilman Who Handcuffed Woman over BLM Stickers
Yahoo News – Christina Hall (Detroit Free Press) | Published: 9/19/2022
Warren City Councilperson Edward Kabacinski pleaded no contest to disturbing the peace and was sentenced to one-year probation for his actions toward a woman at a rally for then-President Trump. Kabacinski was charged in October 2020 with assault and battery and impersonating a police officer when he chased a woman and handcuffed her after she put a Black Lives Matter sticker on a Trump sign during a protest. Kabacinski claimed he is a former military police officer and federal law allows him to detain those who breach the peace or break the law. The woman was not facing criminal charges.
New Hampshire – New Hampshire GOP Senate Nominee Abruptly Backs Off False 2020 Election Claims
MSN – Gregory Krieg and Dan Merica (CNN) | Published: 9/15/2022
U.S. Senate candidate Don Bolduc won the Republican nomination in New Hampshire after months campaigning on false claims the 2020 election was stolen from former President Trump. A little more than a day after the primary, he attempted an about-face. “I’ve come to the conclusion, and I want to be definitive on this: the election was not stolen,” Bolduc said. He is not the only GOP candidate who has tried to temper, or erase, hardline positions as the general-election environment starts to look less favorable for the party.
New Jersey – When George Gilmore’s Public Work Dried Up, an Ally Gave His Wife a Job with Engineering Firm
Yahoo News – Matt Friedman (Politico) | Published: 9/19/2022
When Ocean County Republican Party Chairperson George Gilmore was convicted on three federal tax charges in 2019, it did not just cost him his political leadership post. His work with public entities also dried up. Gilmore’s now-defunct law firm, Gilmore & Monahan, had made between $2 million and $3 million in public contracts annually between 2012 and 2018. He resigned from another job at the lobbying firm 1868 Public Affairs. But after Gilmore’s conviction, a political ally founded Morgan Municipal Services, a new division to expand the firm’s work in the public sector. It counted Gilmore’s wife as one of its three founding partners.
New Mexico – NM Senator Defends His Reputation While Policy Silences the People Accusing Him of Misconduct
Source NM – Shaun Griswold | Published: 9/19/2022
New Mexico Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto said the sexual harassment complaint filed against him is closed. But outrage continues to grow, as everyone involved calls for reform of statehouse procedures shrouded in secrecy. The lobbyist who came forward with the initial complaint says her First Amendment rights have been violated because of the confidentiality rules about who is allowed to speak about the matter publicly. After the findings in the misconduct investigation were leaked, Ivey-Soto contacted the FBI about what he says is extortion.
New York – Donald Trump, 3 of His Children Accused of Business Fraud by New York AG
MSN – Shayna Jacobs and Jonathan O’Connell (Washington Post) | Published: 9/21/2022
New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit accusing Donald Trump, three of his grown children, and executives at his company of manipulating asset valuations to deceive lenders, insurance brokers, and tax authorities into giving them better loan and insurance policy rates and reduce their tax liability. The complaint asks the state Supreme Court to bar the former president, Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Eric Trump from serving as executives at any company in New York, and to bar the Trump Organization from acquiring commercial real estate or receiving loans from a New York-registered financial institution for five years.
New York – Executive Threw Hochul Fundraiser Weeks Before Landing $637M Deal
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 9/20/2022
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul maintains that when her administration paid a vendor $637 million last winter for COVID-19 tests, she was unaware the recipient was a campaign donor. Yet a month before the administration struck the deals, the company’s founder threw an in-person campaign fundraiser for Hochul. The deal was enabled by the governor’s revived suspension of competitive bidding rules for the administration’s purchase of COVID-19 supplies. Through an emergency executive order, Hochul suspended those rules four days after the fundraiser.
Oregon – Oregon’s Nonaffiliated Candidates Face Long Odds Making It onto the Ballot
Oregon Capital Chronicle – Julia Shumway | Published: 9/20/2022
Democratic and Republican candidates in Oregon pay a fee ranging from $25 to $150 and fill out a two-page form to compete in a primary. Minor party candidates are nominated separately by their parties, through conventions or party-run primaries. But non-affiliated candidates must collect petition signatures from hundreds or thousands of voters, depending on the office. Efforts to change Oregon’s election system are again afoot, with a coalition launching its petition drive for a constitutional amendment to open primaries. Nearly 41 percent of Oregon voters are ineligible to vote in primaries because they are nonaffiliated or registered with a minor party.
Oregon – Portland Elections Program Hits Council Candidate Rene Gonzalez with $77,000 Fine for Discounted Office Space
OPB – Rebecca Ellis | Published: 9/21/2022
Portland City Council hopeful Rene Gonzalez was fined for accepting and failing to report a steep discount on rent on his campaign office. The $77,000 fine, the biggest ever issued by the city’s Small Donor Elections program, stems from an unreported in-kind contribution Gonzalez is accused of accepting from the company, which is owned by Jordan Schnitzer, who personally gave $250 to Gonzalez in May. Program Director Susan Mottet said a normal tenant would have been asked to pay $6,900 per month for the over 3,000 square feet of space. Since May, Gonzalez’s campaign only had to pay $250 per month.
Pennsylvania – Philly’s Board of Ethics Voted to Close a Loophole that Super PACs Use to Get Instructions from Campaigns
MSN – Sean Collins Walsh (Philadelphia Inquirer) | Published: 9/21/2022
The Philadelphia Board of Ethics voted to ban the strategy known as “redboxing,” in which candidates send indirect signals to independent expenditure campaigns like super PACs that can raise unlimited amounts of money but are not allowed to coordinate with campaigns. Candidates do that by publicly stating the strategic needs of their campaigns, and some in recent federal elections have put those instructions in red boxes on their campaign websites to guide super PACs buying advertisements on their behalf. The statements use lightly coded language to inform the PACs on what the campaign wants.
Pennsylvania – Skill Games Company Woos Pa. Lawmakers with Trips to Wild Wyoming Rodeo
Spotlight PA – Angela Couloumbis | Published: 9/19/2022
This past summer, a select group of Pennsylvania legislators, including House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, got to experience the Cheyenne Frontier Days, the premier summer festival in Wyoming that bills itself as the world’s largest outdoor rodeo and Western celebration, courtesy of Pace-O-Matic. The company makes skill games that currently generate millions of dollars in revenue and, in Pennsylvania, operate in a legal and regulatory gray area, one the Legislature will play a key role in defining. For some of the lawmakers, it was an all-expenses-paid experience.
South Dakota – Ethics Board Keeps ‘Action’ Secret on Complaint Against Noem
MSN – Stephen Groves (Associated Press) | Published: 9/20/2022
The Government Accountability Board will not publicly disclose the “appropriate action” it took after finding evidence South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem intervened with a state agency to influence her daughter’s application for a real estate appraiser license. The board found there was evidence Noem engaged in a conflict-of-interest and malfeasance. A lawyer hired by the board, Mark Haigh, responded to an open records request by saying the board’s response would remain “confidential.” The board has never handled such a high-profile case since its inception in 2017.
Virginia – Virginia Rule on Legislators Leaving Districts Could Add More Intrigue to 2023 Elections
Virginia Mercury – Graham Moomaw | Published: 9/22/2022
After past redistricting cycles, the number of Virginia General Assembly members having to switch districts was kept to a minimum because legislators were allowed to draw careful lines around each other’s homes to avoid doing damage to incumbents. That was not the case last year, when experts appointed by the Virginia Supreme Court effectively reset the state’s legislative maps with little regard for keeping incumbents comfortably installed in conflict-free seats. That means an unusually high number of legislators are facing the prospect of moving to position themselves for the next election cycle.
Virginia – Youngkin’s Restriction on Trans Students’ Rights Is Probably Illegal, Experts Say
MSN – Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) | Published: 9/21/2022
A directive from Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin for public schools to restrict the rights of transgender students is either unenforceable or will be struck down in court because it appears to violate both state and federal law, experts and advocates said. The model policies require schools to categorize transgender children by their “biological sex” when it comes to using the bathroom, locker room, and other facilities and participating in activities. They also bar students from adopting a new name or pronouns without parental permission.
September 21, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “Old Money: How retirees are funding and fueling political candidates unlike ever before” by Madison Hall (Business Insider) for Yahoo News Elections National: “The House’s Long-Awaited Electoral Reform Bill Is Ready. Can It Pass?” by Marianna Sotomayor […]
National: “Old Money: How retirees are funding and fueling political candidates unlike ever before” by Madison Hall (Business Insider) for Yahoo News
National: “The House’s Long-Awaited Electoral Reform Bill Is Ready. Can It Pass?” by Marianna Sotomayor and Leigh Ann Caldwell (Washington Post) for MSN
Georgia: “Video Shows Trump Allies Handling Georgia Voting Equipment” by Danny Hakim, Richard Fausset, and Nick Corasaniti (New York Times) for Yahoo News
National: “A Landmark Supreme Court Fight Over Social Media Now Looks Likely” by Robert Barnes and Ann Marimow (Washington Post) for MSN
Illinois: “State Sen. Emil Jones III Took Bribes from Red-Light Camera Company, Lied to Feds: Charges” by Heather Cherone for WTTW
Michigan: “Here’s the Punishment for Warren Councilman Who Handcuffed Woman over BLM Stickers” by Christina Hall (Detroit Free Press) for Yahoo News
New Jersey: “When George Gilmore’s Public Work Dried Up, an Ally Gave His Wife a Job with Engineering Firm” by Matt Friedman (Politico) for Yahoo News
South Dakota: “Ethics Board Keeps ‘Action’ Secret on Complaint Against Noem” by Stephen Groves (Associated Press) for MSN
National: “Apple Flexes Muscle as Quiet Power Behind App Group” by Emily Birnbaum (Bloomberg) for Yahoo News
September 20, 2022 •
Question: I am the Senior Officer in Quebec for my company. I have been receiving emails concerning a new website. What do I need to know? Answer: Lobbying to design and administer a new platform to replace the current Registry […]
Question: I am the Senior Officer in Quebec for my company. I have been receiving emails concerning a new website. What do I need to know?
Answer: Lobbying to design and administer a new platform to replace the current Registry of Lobbyists. This new platform is called Carrefour Lobby Quebec. Carrefour Lobby Quebec aims to be a modernization and update of the current registry.
On June 21, 2022, the first phase of Carrefour Lobby Quebec was deployed. Senior officers of companies and organizations carrying out lobbying activities were invited to create their individual accounts in the new system, along with the corresponding account for their company or organization. Authorized representatives and consultant lobbyists were also permitted to proceed with account creation in Carrefour Lobby Quebec. Users can gain additional information on Carrefour Lobby Québec by viewing an introductory video. They can also review the methods of administration of the new system.
The second and final phase of the deployment will take place this fall. The Commissioner of Lobbying recommended, as provided for in Bill 13, a decree be adopted fixing the final deployment of Carrefour Lobby Quebec for October 13, 2022. The functionalities for entering lobbying activities will then be operational in the new system. On October 13, 2022, the current Registry of Lobbyists will be officially closed and all information in the current registry will be transferred to Carrefour Lobby Quebec. There will then be a 60-day validation period for all transferred information.
More information will be provided by the Commissioner of Lobbying as the deployment of the second phase approaches. Until the new system is online, lobbying activities must be entered into the current registry.
The information from this response can easily be found on our website in the Lobbying Compliance section of the Canada Compliance Laws publication. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions.
September 20, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “DeSantis Draft Effort Pushes Ahead After Campaign Finance Watchdog Deadlocks” by Zach Montellaro (Politico) for MSN Ethics National: “Martha’s Vineyard Flights Leave Migrant Advocates Scrambling” by Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Maria Sacchetti (Washington Post) for MSN California: “Former […]
National: “DeSantis Draft Effort Pushes Ahead After Campaign Finance Watchdog Deadlocks” by Zach Montellaro (Politico) for MSN
National: “Martha’s Vineyard Flights Leave Migrant Advocates Scrambling” by Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Maria Sacchetti (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “Former USC Dean Admits to Arranging Bribery Payment for Mark Ridley-Thomas” by Michael Finnegan and Matt Hamilton (Los Angeles Times) for Yahoo News
New Mexico: “NM Senator Defends His Reputation While Policy Silences the People Accusing Him of Misconduct” by Shaun Griswold for Source NM
Texas: “Texas Social Media ‘Censorship’ Law Goes into Effect After Federal Court Lifts Block” by Jesus Vidales for Texas Tribune
National: “Trump Adviser’s Trial May Shed Light on Foreign Influence Campaigns” by Rebecca Davis O’Brien (New York Times) for MSN
Pennsylvania: “Skill Games Company Woos Pa. Lawmakers with Trips to Wild Wyoming Rodeo” by Angela Couloumbis for Spotlight PA
California: “Gov. Gavin Newsom Strips Fresno County Supervisors’ Power to Draw Election Lines” by Juan Esparza Loera for Sacramento Bee
September 19, 2022 •
Elections Georgia: “Georgia 2020 Election Inquiry May Lead to Prison Sentences, Prosecutor Says” by Matthew Brown and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) for MSN New Hampshire: “New Hampshire GOP Senate Nominee Abruptly Backs Off False 2020 Election Claims” by Gregory Krieg […]
Georgia: “Georgia 2020 Election Inquiry May Lead to Prison Sentences, Prosecutor Says” by Matthew Brown and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) for MSN
New Hampshire: “New Hampshire GOP Senate Nominee Abruptly Backs Off False 2020 Election Claims” by Gregory Krieg and Dan Merica (CNN) for MSN
National: “Justice Dept. Asks Appeals Court to Restore Access to Trump Raid Documents” by Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney (Politico) for MSN
National: “Gaetz Sought Pardon Related to Justice Department Sex Trafficking Probe” by Jacqueline Alemany and Amy Gardner (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “Legal Pot Spawned a Wave of Corruption, Threats and Secret Financial Deals for Politicians” by Adam Elmahrek, Robert Lopez, and Ruben Vives (Los Angeles Times) for MSN
New York: “Zeldin Calls for Probe into $637M Deal with Hochul Donor” by Chris Bragg for Albany Times Union
Arizona: “14 AZ Lawmakers Took 9-Day Europe Trip Sponsored in Part by Lobbyists and More Are Coming” by Ray Stern (Arizona Republic) for MSN
Maryland: “Opinion Says Nash’s Lobbying Violated City Ethics Ordinance” by Ryan Marshall (Frederick News-Post) for Yahoo News
September 16, 2022 •
National/Federal A Record Number of Black Candidates for Higher Offices Aim to Reshape U.S. Politics MSN – Tim Craig (Washington Post) | Published: 9/13/2022 A record number of Black men and women are running for U.S. Senate and governor this fall, […]
A Record Number of Black Candidates for Higher Offices Aim to Reshape U.S. Politics
MSN – Tim Craig (Washington Post) | Published: 9/13/2022
A record number of Black men and women are running for U.S. Senate and governor this fall, with the potential to increase diversity in the nation’s top elected offices, which are still overwhelmingly held by White men. Since Reconstruction, voters have elected just seven Black senators and two Black governors. While many of them face tough odds, some have posted strong poll numbers and fundraising totals, waging credible campaigns that challenge long-held attitudes about whether Black candidates can be competitive in statewide races.
Durham Inquiry Appears to Wind Down as Grand Jury Expires
Yahoo News – Katie Benner (New York Times) | Published: 9/14/2022
When John Durham was assigned by the Justice Department to examine the origins of the investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, then-President Trump and his supporters expressed a belief the inquiry would prove a “deep state” conspiracy including top Obama-era officials had worked to sabotage him. Now Durham appears to be winding down his three-year inquiry without anything close to the results Trump was seeking. The grand jury that Durham has recently used to hear evidence has expired, and while he could convene another, there are currently no plans to do so.
FEC Unanimously Rejects Complaints About Zuckerberg’s 2020 Election Grants
MSN – Isaac Stanley-Becker (Washington Post) | Published: 9/8/2022
A unanimous bipartisan vote by the FEC undercut claims about Mark Zuckerberg’s role in the 2020 election that have taken hold among GOP leaders, candidates, and activists. The claims originate in the more than $400 million donated by Zuckerberg, the chief executive and founder of Meta, and his wife to a pair of nonprofits that provided grants aiding state and local governments with election administration in light of the challenges posed by the coronavirus. The funding from Zuckerberg soon became kindling for the firestorm unleashed by former President Trump and his allies as they questioned the legitimacy of the 2020 election.
In Final Primaries, Heated GOP Fights in N.H. Include a Blow to McCarthy
MSN – Colby Itkowitz and David Weigel (Washington Post) | Published: 9/13/2022
The 2022 primaries concluded on a familiar note – with voters in Republican races choosing between far-right, election-denying candidates and more moderate rivals, and party leaders divided in contests factoring into the battle for control of Congress. New Hampshire was one of three states where voters went to the polls, marking the end of this year’s nominating process, along with Rhode Island and Delaware. The primaries allowed voters a final chance to choose party standard-bearers after months of fierce intraparty battles that highlighted divisions on both sides over policy, personality, and ideology, among other things.
Judge Dismisses Trump Lawsuit Against Hillary Clinton Over 2016 Election
MSN – Azi Paybarah (Washington Post) | Published: 9/9/2022
A federal judge dismissed Donald Trump’s lawsuit against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, saying there was no basis for the former president to claim Clinton and her allies harmed him with an orchestrated plan to spread false information that his campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential race. U.S. District Court Judge Donald Middlebrooks noted “glaring structural deficiencies in the plaintiff’s argument” and said, “such pleadings waste judicial resources and are an unacceptable form of establishing a claim for relief.”
Justice Dept. Issues 40 Subpoenas in a Week, Expanding Jan. 6 Inquiry
Seattle Times – Adam Goldman, Glenn Thrush, Alan Feuer, and Maggie Haberman (New York Times) | Published: 9/13/2022
Justice Department officials seized the phones of two top advisers to former President Trump and blanketed his aides with about 40 subpoenas in a substantial escalation of the investigation into his efforts to subvert the 2020 election. The seizure of the phones, coupled with a widening effort to obtain information from those around Trump after the 2020 election, represent some of the most aggressive steps the department has taken thus far in its criminal investigation into the actions that led to the assault on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.
Justice Dept. Says It Would Accept Trump’s Candidate for Special Master
MSN – Devlin Barrett and Perry Stein (Washington Post) | Published: 9/12/2022
The Justice Department filed court papers signaling it would accept a former federal judge as a special master charged with reviewing papers seized by the FBI from former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and club. U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon must approve Raymond Dearie’s appointment. Dearie was proposed by Trump’s lawyers amid a legal battle over whether a special master should review the documents to determine whether any should be kept from federal prosecutors investigating the potential mishandling of classified material and the possible hiding, tampering, or destruction of government records.
Migrants Flown to Martha’s Vineyard as GOP Escalates Immigration Protest
MSN – Ellen Francis (Washington Post) | Published: 9/15/2022
Dozens of migrants arrived by plane in Martha’s Vineyard, as some Republican governors escalate a campaign against President Biden’s border policies by shuttling refugees out of their states and to Democratic-led states or liberal enclaves. Their arrival in the affluent summer resort island in Massachusetts appeared to prompt confusion about where they had come from and how. The communications director for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said two flights were part of a state program to relocate undocumented immigrants.
Prosecutors Seek Details from Trump’s PAC in Expanding Jan. 6 Probe
MSN – Josh Dawsey and Isaac Arnsdorf (Washington Post) | Published: 9/8/2022
The Justice Department is seeking details about the formation and operation of Donald Trump’s post-presidential political operation in a significant expansion of the criminal investigation of the attack on the Capitol and efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. A federal grand jury sent subpoenas to a wide range of former campaign and White House staffers asking for information about the Save America PAC. Sources described the subpoenas as broad, seeking all documents and communications about opening the PAC and every dollar raised and spent.
Stock Trades Reported by Nearly a Fifth of Congress Show Possible Conflicts
News Inside Era – Kate Kelley, Adam Playford, and Alicia Parlapiano (New York Times) | Published: 9/13/2022
Ninety-seven U.S. senators or representatives who reported trades by themselves or immediate family members in stocks or other financial assets that intersected with the work of committees on which they serve, according to an analysis of trades from 2019 to 2021. The potential for conflicts in stock trading by members of Congress, and their choice so far not to impose stricter limits on themselves, has long drawn criticism, especially when particularly blatant cases emerge. Over the three-year period, more than 3,700 trades reported by lawmakers from both parties posed potential conflicts between their public responsibilities and private finances.
Trump Backers Flood Election Offices with Requests as 2022 Vote Nears
MSN – Amy Gardner and Patrick Marley (Washington Post) | Published: 9/11/2022
Supporters of former President Trump have swamped local election offices across the nation in recent weeks with a coordinated campaign of requests for 2020 voting records, in some cases paralyzing preparations for the fall election season. In nearly two dozen states and scores of counties, election officials are fielding what many describe as an unprecedented wave of public records requests in the final weeks of summer, one they say may be intended to hinder their work and weaken an already strained system.
What Makes State Legislatures Uniquely Prone to Alleged Harassment
MinnPost – Jennifer Gerson (The 19th) | Published: 9/7/2022
Statehouses, a place where the powerful and the less empowered rub shoulders as part of the policy-making process, are a place where abuse and harassment can flourish in the shadows, and consequences are slow to come if they come at all. Dealing with alleged harassment in remains a maze of bureaucratic red tape that, despite efforts to improve processes, has left people in uncomfortable power dynamics or complete inaction after alleged sexual harassment or bullying.
When a Man with a Pistol Shows Up Outside a Congresswoman’s House
MSN – Ruby Kramer (Washington Post) | Published: 9/8/2022
Threats against members of Congress have risen year after year, according to data from the Capitol Police: 9,625 in 2021, up from 3,939 in 2017. Officers logged nearly 2,000 cases in the first three months of this year alone. Among the statistics, there are thousands of stories like that of U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal. An armed man who reportedly threatened to kill Jayapal was arrested outside her Seattle home recently. The incident demonstrated to Jayapal how many gaps exist in congressional security.
From the States and Municipalities
Arkansas – Ethics Filing Against Flowers Frivolous, Senate Panel Says; Suspension Recommended for Clark
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette – Michael Wickline | Published: 9/10/2022
The Arkansas Senate Ethics Committee recommended the chamber suspend state Sen. Alan Clark for the rest of this year and strip him of seniority for the rest of this year and the next two years. The committee concluded that Clark’s charges of ethics violations against Sen. Stephanie Flowers were spurious, frivolous, and retaliatory. Clark filed a complaint against Flowers alleging she violated the Senate’s code of ethics by accepting legislative per diem payments for participating by Zoom in the Senate’s regular session meetings in 2021.
California – Anaheim Council Tightens Lobbyist Rules
MSN – Alicia Robinson (Orange County Register) | Published: 9/14/2022
Anaheim City Council members voted unanimously to support an ordinance tightening lobbyist regulations. Acting as a lobbyist but failing to register with the city, not filing disclosure reports as required, or filing inaccurate reports could result in a misdemeanor charge under the proposed rules. A second vote is required for the new rules to become law. Registered lobbyists will also have to attest under penalty of perjury their reports are true and accurate; perjury is a felony charge under state law.
California – Karen Bass Got a USC Degree for Free. It’s Now Pulling Her into a Federal Corruption Case
MSN – Matthew Brown (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 9/7/2022
A full tuition scholarship to the University of Southern California (USC) led to the indictment of former Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and the former dean of USC’s social work program, Marilyn Flynn, on bribery and fraud charges. Another scholarship recipient, U.S. Rep. Karen Bass, is the leading contender to be the next mayor of Los Angeles. Federal prosecutors have not indicated Bass is under a criminal investigation. But prosecutors have now declared that Bass’ scholarship and her dealings with USC are “critical” to their bribery case and to their broader portrayal of corruption in the university’s social work program.
California – L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl’s Home Searched by Sheriff’s Investigators
Yahoo News – Alene Tchekmedyian (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 9/14/2022
Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators searched the house of county Supervisor Sheila Kuehl as part of a criminal investigation into a county contract awarded to a nonprofit organization. A copy of the warrant showed the search was tied to an ongoing probe into Peace Over Violence, a nonprofit run by Patti Giggans, a member of the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission and a close friend to Kuehl. Both Kuehl and Giggans have clashed with Sheriff Alex Villanueva and called for his resignation.
California – Voters Push to Take Local Redistricting from Politicians
CalMatters – Sameea Kamal | Published: 9/14/2022
California’s independent redistricting commission has received generally good reviews for its new maps that voters are using to elect legislators and members of Congress in November. But voters who say they are disenfranchised want similar panels to draw their local districts. Three bills on California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk would overrule local officials and require independent redistricting commissions in Fresno, Kern, and Riverside counties. If signed into law, those panels would work on districts for the boards of supervisors in those counties, starting after the next Census in 2030.
Colorado – FBI Seizes Mike Lindell’s Phone in Probe of Colo. Voting Machine Breach
MSN – Jon Swaine and Emma Brown (Washington Post) | Published: 9/14/2022
FBI agents seized a cellphone belonging to Mike Lindell, the MyPillow founder and prominent election denier, as part of a federal investigation into an alleged breach of voting machines in Colorado, according to Lindell. Lindell said the agents questioned him about Tina Peters, the Mesa County clerk who was indicted on charges she helped an outsider copy sensitive data from the county’s elections systems. The action against Lindell, who has financed films, conferences, and other media promoting disinformation about elections, points to a widening of the federal investigation into the alleged breach in Mesa County.
Florida – ‘Make His Life a Living Hell.’ The FPL-financed plot to torpedo a Miami lawmaker
MSN – Mary Ellen Klas and Nicholas Nehamas (Miami Herald) | Published: 9/9/2022
Florida Power & Light’s (FPL) chief political operative, Jeff Pitts, used a maze of nonprofits to secretly finance an operation aimed at defeating state Sen. José Javier Rodríguez and replace him with a Republican less hostile to FPL’s interests. Rodríguez lost his bid for reelection in 2020 by 34 votes. It was part of an alleged “ghost candidate” plot in which “spoiler” candidates ran in a total of three state Senate races to help defeat Democratic candidates, who indeed lost. Two people have been criminally charged in connection with the effort to defeat Rodríguez, including a former state senator considered a staunch ally of FPL during his years in office.
Georgia – Former Atlanta Official Gets 14 Years in Corruption Case
Yahoo News – Kate Brumback (Associated Press) | Published: 9/8/2022
A former high-ranking Atlanta official was sentenced to 14 years in prison after a jury found her guilty of charges stemming from a long-running federal investigation into corruption at City Hall. In addition to the prison time, the judge ordered Mitzi Vickers to pay nearly $3 million in restitution to the city. Bickers was the first person to go to trial in the investigation into corruption during the administration of former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. She helped Reed win election and then worked as his director of human services for several years.
Georgia – Georgia’s Biggest County Can’t Find a Top Elections Official
MSN – Matthew Brown (Washington Post) | Published: 9/7/2022
For 10 months, local leaders have been unable to hire a permanent director to run the Department of Registration and Elections in Fulton County, home to Atlanta. The previous director resigned in November and left the position in April, after pressure from local lawmakers and the turmoil of the 2020 election, when county staff endured death threats, baseless conspiracy theories, high-stakes audits, and harassment from former Donald Trump and his allies. The staff has worked through the uncertainty under an interim director, but the county has been slow to implement changes mandated by a sweeping new election law.
Hawaii – Attorney For Mitsunaga’s Engineering Firm Has Been Arrested in Bribery Case
Honolulu Civil Beat – Christina Jedra | Published: 9/13/2022
Sheri Tanaka, an attorney for a prominent engineering firm whose chief executive officer is fighting federal charges, was arrested in California in connection with her client’s case and is currently in custody. Tanaka has been charged alongside Dennis Mitsunaga and associates of his firm who were accused of bribing former Honolulu prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro. Federal prosecutors say Mitsunaga and his accomplices directed over $45,000 to the prosecutor so he would pursue a bogus prosecution of a former employee of the firm, Laurel Mau.
Illinois – Board of Review’s Probe into Bribes for Tax Breaks Is Stymied by Employee’s ‘Inability to Recall Passcode’ to County-Issued Cellphone
Chicago Sun-Times – Mitch Dudek | Published: 9/9/2022
An employee of the Cook County Board of Review under investigation for accepting bribes to lower property taxes stymied a law firm hired to look into the matter by refusing to be interviewed and claiming he forgot the passcode to his county-issued cellphone. A cooperating witness in the case broached the idea of having property assessments lowered for an associate. A picture of the employee thumbing a stack of cash was included in an affidavit. The employee told a cooperating witness he was “just the middle guy” and the cash was intended to be split with others in his office, according to the affidavit.
Maryland – Montgomery School Leaders Defend Contract Given to Board Member’s Spouse
MSN – Nicole Asbury (Washington Post) | Published: 9/13/2022
Montgomery County’s schools superintendent defended the system’s decision to award a STEM learning contract to a company owned by a school board member’s spouse and blamed concerns over the award process on an inaccurate document on the board’s website. The Parents’ Coalition of Montgomery County raised concerns before a school board vote that the contract for MoCo KidsCo Inc. was being awarded as a no-bid contract, with no discussion by the school board, a lack of competition, and a conflict-of-interest.
Massachusetts – AG Maura Healey Ruling Derails Bid to Limit Super PAC Contributions in Massachusetts
MassLive – Matt Murphy (State House News Service) | Published: 9/9/2022
Super PACs are allowed to raise and spend unlimited sums of money to influence elections as long as they do not coordinate directly with any campaigns. The spending has come under fire from some candidates who oppose the influence money has on the process. But a bid to curtail the ability of super PACs to raise and spend huge sums in Massachusetts was nixed by state Attorney General Maura Healey’s office as “inconsistent” with constitutional rights to free speech.
Massachusetts – SJC Considers Lobbying by Federal Felons, Like Former House Speaker Sal DiMasi
MSN – Shelley Murphy (Boston Globe) | Published: 9/8/2022
Former Massachusetts House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi began working as a lobbyist on Beacon Hill nine years after a federal jury found him guilty of fraud and extortion for taking bribes while in office. The state’s highest court heard arguments over whether DiMasi should have been forced to wait a little longer to embark on his new career, based on a state law that bars people convicted of certain state crimes from registering as lobbyists until 10 years after their convictions.
Massachusetts – State’s Public Campaign Financing Program Means Candidates Can Spend Big in November Election
MassLive – Chris Lisinski (State House News Service) | Published: 9/12/2022
Maura Healey and Kim Driscoll can drain their entire accumulated campaign money in their bid for governor and lieutenant governor, Massachusetts campaign finance officials said. At least one candidate in each of the five statewide contests this fall sought to participate in the state’s public campaign financing program, which triggered a requirement for all other contestants in those races to declare self-imposed spending caps. The largest limit in each race becomes the cap for all candidates in that field. Healey and Driscoll told the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance their self-imposed spending would be limited to a maximum of $6.9 million.
Michigan – Michigan Supreme Court Puts Abortion on the November Ballot
Yahoo News – Alice Miranda Ollstein (Politico) | Published: 9/8/2022
The Michigan Supreme Court certified a sweeping abortion rights initiative for the November ballot, giving voters a chance to decide whether the procedure remains legal or whether a nearly 100-year-old ban goes back into effect. The emergency ruling overrides a party-line tie vote by the Board of State Canvassers, which blocked the certification of the proposed constitutional amendment. The two Republicans on that panel sided with conservative groups that argued spacing and formatting errors on the text canvassers presented to voters rendered the entire effort invalid.
Mississippi – Former Gov. Phil Bryant Helped Brett Favre Secure Welfare Funding for USM Volleyball Stadium, Texts Reveal
Mississippi Today – Anna Wolfe | Published: 9/13/2022
Newly released text messages show Brett Favre, former Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, and others worked together to channel at least $5 million of the state’s welfare funds to build a new volleyball stadium at University of Southern Mississippi, where Favre’s daughter played the sport. The texts show the then-governor even guided Favre on how to write a funding proposal so it could be accepted by the state Department of Human Services. In total, nonprofit leaders misspent at least $77 million in funds that were supposed to help the needy, forensic auditors found.
Montana – Super PAC Faces New Allegations in Montana
Montana Free Press – Alex Sakariassen | Published: 9/9/2022
An out-of-state political organization found to have violated Montana campaign finance law continues to face questions about its activity in three legislative races during the 2022 primary election, even as it pursues legal action against the commissioner of political practices. The Center for Media and Democracy filed a complaint against the Convention of States Political Fund, a Michigan-based super PAC that spent more than $126,000 on political flyers and radio ads in Montana earlier this year.
New York – Rensselaer County’s Republican Elections Commissioner Arrested by FBI
Albany Times Union – Brendan Lyons | Published: 9/13/2022
Jason Schofield, the Rensselaer County Board of Elections commissioner, was arrested by the FBI and charged with fraudulently obtaining and filing absentee ballots last year using the personal information of at least eight voters without their permission. The ballots were filled out and submitted in last year’s primary election, the general election, and sometimes both. In some instances, documentation was completed falsely claiming the ballots were mailed to the voters at their residences.
Ohio – Ex-Ohio Governor Candidate Joe Blystone Threatened with Prosecution Over Alleged Campaign-Finance Violations
MSN – Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 9/8/2022
Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s office says it will seek to refer Joe Blystone, who ran for Ohio governor earlier this year, to prosecutors for campaign finance violations if he does not accept a deal that includes turning over all his remaining campaign money to state officials. Blystone has been under scrutiny for a number of issues, including not properly recording thousands of dollars in small donations. Last March, LaRose’s office flagged more than $100,000 in contributions to Blystone’s campaign that appear to violate the state’s limit on cash contributions or ban on corporate donations.
Ohio – Former Butler County Elected Official Indicted on Corruption Charges
Yahoo – Cincinnati Enquirer staff | Published: 9/14/2022
A grand jury indicted Madison Township Trustee Alan Daniel on seven public corruption-related charges. The case had been referred to the Ohio Ethics Commission, which made a referral to the Butler County prosecutor’s office for criminal charges. State Auditor Keith Faber noted several votes Daniel cast as a trustee that Faber said directly impacted a family member. Daniel voted on 20 road department ordinances in 2018 and 15 in 2019 “from which he should have abstained because he is the father of Road Supervisor Todd Daniel,” Faber recently wrote to Madison Township officials.
Ohio – Ohio Supreme Court: ‘Targeted picketing’ ban unconstitutional
Ohio Capital Journal – Susan Tebben | Published: 9/14/2022
The Ohio Supreme Court took issue with a ban on “targeted picketing” of public officials in a new ruling. The justices ruled an education board violated picketers’ rights by putting a stop to public protests, calling Ohio Revised Code language on organizing a protest at public officials’ homes or workplaces “a form of expressive-activity suppression that is irreconcilable with the protections guaranteed by the First Amendment.”
Pennsylvania – Clandestine Plan to Force a Vote on Pa. Legislative Gift Ban Fails, Lawmakers Shrug
Spotlight PA – Stephen Caruso | Published: 9/14/2022
Pennsylvania lawmakers can accept gifts from anyone if they disclose items more than $250 on annual interest forms. Proposals to tighten the law have died over the years with no debate until last fall, when lawmakers on both sides of the aisle expressed interest in a more comprehensive gift ban. Activists recently said one unidentified House member would force a vote on whether to consider the bill, defying Republican leadership. But as one of the last scheduled session days of the year ended, no one stood up, leaving advocates with nothing to do but concede.
South Carolina – SC Supreme Court Says Attorney General’s $75M Payment to Law Firms Can Be Questioned
MSN – John Monk (The State) | Published: 9/14/2022
The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that John Crangle, who writes extensively on governmental ethics issues, has the right to challenge state Attorney General Alan Wilson’s award of a $75 million legal fee to two law firms. Wilson had signed a contingency fee agreement with the firms that awarded them a percentage of a settlement concerning the disposal of dangerous plutonium in the state. Crangle and the South Carolina Public Interest Foundation contended the $75 million fee was unreasonable and unconstitutional.
South Dakota – Documents Show Gov. Kristi Noem Tried to Avoid Ethics Hearing, Seal Records
Yahoo News – Stephen Groves (Associated Press) | Published: 9/9/2022
Documents show South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem asked the state Government Accountability Board to dismiss a complaint against her without a public hearing and to seal off certain records. News reports said shortly after a state agency moved to deny her daughter, Kassidy Peters, a real estate appraiser license, Noem held a meeting with Peters and key decision-makers in her licensure. After the meeting, Peters signed an agreement that gave her another opportunity to meet the licensing requirements. The South Dakota Legislature’s audit committee approved a report that found Noem’s daughter got preferential treatment.
Wyoming – Elections Official Files Complaint Against Conservative PAC
WyoFile – Maggie Mullen | Published: 9/13/2022
Campbell County’s chief elections officer filed a complaint against Coal Country Conservatives Political Action Committee, calling on the FEC and the Wyoming secretary of state to undertake a “swift and robust investigation.” The complaint by Campbell County Clerk Susan Saunders, names both the federal PAC and a Wyoming entity of the same name. Chief among Saunders’ concerns is a potentially improper campaign finance relationship between the two organizations and a lack of disclosure on the part of both.
Wyoming – Some Wyoming Republicans Want to Limit the Secretary of State after Trump’s Pick Wins
Wyoming Public Radio – Bob Beck | Published: 9/8/2022
Wyoming’s likely next secretary of state, a Trump-endorsed Republican who has falsely called the 2020 election fraudulent, is drawing concerns from many of his fellow GOP lawmakers. Now those legislators are aiming to draft a bill to remove the secretary of state’s ability to oversee elections. State Rep. Chuck Gray is the Republican nominee. He does not have a general election opponent. Though state officials maintain Wyoming elections are secure, Gray campaigned on concerns he has about election integrity.
State and Federal Communications, Inc. provides research and consulting services for government relations professionals on lobbying laws, procurement lobbying laws, political contribution laws in the United States and Canada. Learn more by visiting stateandfed.com.