February 4, 2011 •
New rules for lobbyists could be coming to Providence.
Here is a heads-up for those following lobbying news in Rhode Island. News Editor Stephen Beale wrote on GoLocalProv that Providence, Rhode Island could be the first city in the state to require lobbyists to register with city hall.
The new rules have sparked a debate between supporters of government transparency and accountability and those who do not wish to inhibit non-lobbying groups from interacting with government.
For the full article, go to “Providence Could Become First RI City to Regulate Lobbyists” on GoLocalProv.com.
February 3, 2011 •
Lobbyist receives fine
Jim Sedor, editor of News You Can Use, pointed out this article – “Lobbyist for San Manuel Tribe Fined $30,000 by State” from Tuesday’s Riverside Press-Enterprise.
According to the article, lobbyist Frank Molina of Strategic Solutions Advisors was fined $30,000 by the California Fair Political Practices Commission for failing to file lobbying reports. The article states Molina has lobbied for the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians, both operating casinos.
News You Can Use is State and Federal Communications’ weekly summary of national news focused on ethics, lobbying, and campaign finance.
September 17, 2010 •
We are celebrating a special anniversary!
An English proverb states, “A man is known by the company he keeps.” On Monday, September 13, State and Federal Communications, Inc. thanked News You Can Use Editor Jim Sedor for keeping company with us for ten years.
Almost the entire company walked or drove to Downtown Akron’s Bricco restaurant for a celebratory lunch. Also in attendance were Jim’s sister, Mary Ann LoBue, and her husband, Joe, who drove in from Mars, Pennsylvania for the occasion.
The meal was followed by a tribute to Jim by President and CEO Elizabeth Bartz, along with the presentation of a recognition book with photos and warm wishes from our staff. Everyone returned to the office to enjoy a beautiful and wonderfully chocolate cake.
In 2000, Elizabeth determined there was a need for governmental movers and shakers to know what was going on in the worlds of campaign finance, lobbying, and ethics, but there was no vehicle for that information to be provided in a timely manner. Then Jim Sedor walked through State and Federal’s doors. Since that day, Jim has taken the idea from a small, in-house proposition to what it is now, a piece that has virtually taken on a life of its own. For ten years, Jim Sedor has kept our clients—and our staff—on top of the accolades and escapades of elected officials throughout our country, and for a few hours, we took time to let him know how much we appreciate him.
As for the fact Jim is a great guy and deserving of the praise?
Well, that’s just icing on the cake.
September 16, 2010 •
In honor of the 10th anniversary of News You Can Use (NYCU), I interviewed its editor, Jim Sedor.
News You Can Use is a weekly digital news aggregation on the issues of campaign finance, lobbying, procurement, and government ethics. Every week Jim Sedor gathers between 80 and 100 articles, and every Friday morning NYCU is sent out to our subscribers.
Hi Jim! How did NYCU come about? How long have you been associated with it?
The idea for compiling a weekly review of what is happening across the country in ethics, campaign finance, and lobbying originated with Elizabeth Bartz. I came aboard in 2000 to implement what she wanted.
Elizabeth had found the company didn’t have a process to find important information that was out there in a timely way and was missing a lot of things that would affect the business.
When we started, it was just an in-house review of the most recent happenings – it had not even been christened “New You Can Use” yet (a name that Elizabeth also coined).
As it grew, we figured our clients would love to see – and needed to know – what we were finding, so we started sending NYCU out to them by e-mail.
Who is a typical NYCU reader? How does NYCU give them a “heads up” regarding campaign finance and lobbying news?
I don’t know if I can classify a typical reader – maybe someone who subscribes to our services and needs to know what is happening in their field – like lobbyists, campaign finance lawyers, companies that employ lobbyists and give money to candidates, or firms that compete for state contracts.
We often give readers the first word about specific changes in campaign finance or lobbying law in a given state or the federal level. Most of the time, we have been tracking those changes from the beginning and see them through to the end – articles on a bill’s introduction to its signing by the governor.
We also follow scandals closely because those are most often the trigger for reform and you can almost predict at the start of some corruption investigation that there will be changes ahead and it should be monitored. The whole issue of “pay-to-play” reform is an example.
After ten years of gathering news, do any stories stand out? Craziest? Most egregious? Biggest surprise?
I try not to be cynical, but sometimes I can’t help it. I’m not surprised by most stories of graft and quid pro quo deals and the like, although sometimes the sheer scope and audacity involved in a particular story catches my eye.
We had that recently here in Northeast Ohio when it seemed like the whole Cuyahoga County government was indicted for corruption that involved tens of millions of dollars in bribes and crooked contracts.
One case that stands out for sheer strangeness is Mark Sanford, the governor of South Carolina who said he was hiking on the Appalachian Trail, but was actually much further south – in Argentina visiting the woman he was having an affair with. Nobody knew where he was.
You have a lot of fun at COGEL Annual Conferences. Can you tell us what happened at one particular COGEL breakfast in Chicago, December 2008?
We were having breakfast at the conference when a person from the Illinois Executive Ethics Commission got a message on his Blackberry and excused himself. When he got back to the table, he said he had pressing business and had to leave – the governor of Illinois had just been arrested and “led away in handcuffs.” That turned out to be the day Rod Blagojevich was arrested.
Can you picture doing NYCU fifteen years ago, prior to the advent of on-line newspapers and super smart search engines?
It would be impossible to do NYCU without the Internet and be as comprehensive – we just couldn’t cover the whole country and really stay on top of things.
According to our tally, you have gathered 41,517 articles in the last 10 years for NYCU. How does that make you feel?
Tired. (Laughs) And it makes me feel like I need a vacation – I’ve been working too hard.
When you break it down like that, it really shows the vast amount of material that has been published on campaign finance, lobbying, and ethics.
I feel a sense of accomplishment – that I have been able to stay on top of this and get most of the important stories that have been out there. We don’t miss much.
It also shows these are issues that are of great importance to a lot of people and reporters will continue to churn out story after story.
Thank you, Jim! All the best to you for another wonderful 10 years!
August 30, 2010 •
Newspaper quotes our president and CEO about campaign finance.
The Lodi News-Sentinel recently ran a story about campaign contributions in Lodi, California. The article discusses contributions that fall below the state’s $100 disclosure threshold. Elizabeth Bartz, the president and CEO of State and Federal Communications, Inc., offers her insights about California campaign finance laws and places it within the context of laws in other states.
You can find her insights here:
“Campaign: Donations of $99 or less never see light of day,” by Maggie Creamer in the Lodi News-Sentinel.
August 2, 2010 •
Three articles from the upcoming issue of News You Can Use.
“ME: Maine watching Arizona elections case,” by Kevin Miller from the Bangor Daily News.
Former Florida House Speaker Ray Sansom gets no plea deal because he refuses to participate in a sheriff’s work program:
“Ray Sansom Plea Deal Scrapped When Defendants Balk at Jail Gang Duty,” by Lee Logan and Steve Bousquet from the St. Petersburg Times
From Pennsylvania, Bonusgate staffer Stephen Keefer files a lawsuit in federal court:
“Acquitted Bonusgate Staffer Files Lawsuit,” by Brad Bumsted and Brian Bowling from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
July 6, 2010 •
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed House Bill 292.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed House Bill 292, a measure which will switch the state’s congressional elections to an open primary system, effective for the 2012 congressional elections.
Instead of the currently utilized three-tiered election cycle, wherein there is a party primary, followed by a party runoff, and culminating with the general election, HB 292 now advances the candidates with the top two vote totals from the primary to the November general election, regardless of party affiliation.
Jindal was under pressure from both political parties to not sign the bill into law, but he noted that the measure will potentially save the state more than $13 million during each congressional election cycle.
June 30, 2010 •
News from the Supreme Court ruling.
The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed without comment a lower court ruling upholding a ban on soft-money contributions to political parties.
From The Hill – “Supreme Court affirms ban on soft money,” by Russell Berman 6-29-2010
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.