May 20, 2022 •
National/Federal A Fringe Conspiracy Theory, Fostered Online, Is Refashioned by the GOP Hartford Courant – Nicholas Confessore and Karen Yourish (New York Times) | Published: 5/16/2022 At the extremes of American life, replacement theory – the notion that Western elites, sometimes […]
A Fringe Conspiracy Theory, Fostered Online, Is Refashioned by the GOP
Hartford Courant – Nicholas Confessore and Karen Yourish (New York Times) | Published: 5/16/2022
At the extremes of American life, replacement theory – the notion that Western elites, sometimes manipulated by Jews, want to “replace” and disempower white Americans – has become an engine of racist terror, helping inspire a wave of mass shootings in recent years. But replacement theory, once confined to Reddit message boards and semi-obscure white nationalist sites, has gone mainstream. In sometimes more muted forms, the fear it crystallizes of a future America in which white people are no longer the numerical majority has become a potent force in conservative media and politics, where the theory has been borrowed and remixed to attract audiences, retweets, and small-dollar donations.
Feds Dismiss Campaign Finance Complaint Against Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert
Colorado Public Radio – Caitlyn Kim | Published: 5/16/2022
The FEC dismissed a complaint against U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert over her 2020 mileage reimbursement after the commissioners deadlocked on whether to investigate further. While the FEC’s Office of General Counsel did not find any evidence that Boebert converted campaign funds to personal use, as the complaint had alleged, it did note the “round figure of 32,000 miles driven for campaign-related purposes suggests that the assessment is a general estimate rather than one found on the kind of contemporaneous log contemplated in the Commission’s regulations.”
How Facebook Funded a Clandestine War Against Regulation
MSN – Cat Zakrzewski and Elizabeth Dwoskin (Washington Post) | Published: 5/17/2022
Backed by millions of dollars from Facebook-parent company Meta, the political advocacy group American Edge has launched a campaign to combat antitrust legislation in Washington, placing op-eds in regional newspapers throughout the country, commissioning studies, and collaborating with an array of partners, including minority business associations, conservative think tanks, and former national security officials. It is a playbook more common to other industries, but tech companies, under heightened scrutiny from federal regulators, are seizing on these methods.
How the Biden Administration Let Right-Wing Attacks Derail Its Disinformation Efforts
Yahoo News – Taylor Lorenz (Washington Post) | Published: 5/18/2022
On April 27, the Department of Homeland Security announced the creation of the first Disinformation Governance Board with the stated goal to “coordinate countering misinformation related to homeland security.” The Biden administration tapped Nina Jankowicz, a well-known figure in the field of fighting disinformation and extremism, as executive director. Within hours of her appointment, Jankowicz was thrust into the spotlight by the forces she dedicated her career to combating. She became a primary target on the right-wing Internet, subject to a barrage of harassment and abuse while unchecked misrepresentations of her work continue to go viral.
Jan. 6 Panel Subpoenas 5 House Republicans, Including Minority Leader
MSN – Felicia Sonmez, Jacqueline Alemany, Leigh Ann Caldwell, and Mariana Sotomayor (Washington Post) | Published: 5/12/2022
The U.S. House committee investigating the attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob on announced it subpoenaed five Republican members of Congress, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, after they refused to cooperate with the panel’s inquiry. The move marks a significant escalation in the committee’s efforts to obtain information related to lawmakers’ communications with former President Trump and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows before, during, and after the attack.
Supreme Court Agrees with Cruz, Strikes Campaign Contribution Limit
MSN – Robert Barnes (Washington Post) | Published: 5/16/2022
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled a $250,000 cap on the amount of money that candidates can be reimbursed after an election for personal loans to their own campaigns unjustifiably burdened political expression. It was the latest decision to knock out a part of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act and reemphasized the court’s view that many restrictions on campaign finance are unconstitutional violations of the First Amendment’s protection of speech. Justice Elena Kagan said the court was effectively abetting corruption by allowing donors to contribute to a campaign after an election in a way that benefits the candidate personally.
The Little Red Boxes Making a Mockery of Campaign Finance Laws
Yahoo News – Shane Goldmacher (New York Times) | Published: 5/16/2022
Democratic candidates nationwide are pioneering new frontiers in soliciting and directing money from friendly super PACs financed by multimillionaires, billionaires, and special-interest groups. Campaign watchdogs complain the practice further blurs the lines meant to keep wealthy interests from influencing people running for office, effectively evading the strict donation limits imposed on federal candidates. The practice is both brazen and simple. To work around the prohibition on directly coordinating with super PACs, candidates are posting their instructions to them inside the red boxes on public pages that super PACs continuously monitor.
U.S. Sues to Compel Casino Mogul Steve Wynn to Register as Agent of China
MSN – Isaac Stanley-Becker and Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 5/17/2022
The U.S. Justice Department sued Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn to compel him to register as a foreign agent because of lobbying work it says he performed for the Chinese government during the Trump administration. The department said it had advised Wynn repeatedly over the last four years to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act and is suing now because Wynn refused to do so. Though the Justice Department has ramped up efforts to criminally prosecute people who do not register as foreign agents, officials described this case as the first lawsuit of its kind in more than three decades.
Victories by Mastriano, Budd Show Potency of Trump’s False Stolen Election Claims in GOP
MSN – Annie Linskey and David Weigel (Washington Post) | Published: 5/17/2022
Republican candidates who sought to overturn the 2020 election won statewide primaries in Pennsylvania and North Carolina, reflecting the lingering influence in the GOP of former President Trump’s false claims the vote was rigged against him. Their primary victories came on a day when the effect of Trump and his far-right movement on the midterm elections faced its biggest test to date. Incomplete results showed Trump’s influence over the movement he started was uneven, winning some but not all the races where he backed a candidate.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – Arizona Senate to Investigate Wendy Rogers Over Social Media Post on Buffalo Shooting
Yahoo News – Ray Stern (Arizona Republic) | Published: 5/16/2022
The Arizona Senate Ethics Committee will investigate a social media post from state Sen. Wendy Rogers that suggested the shooter in a mass killing in Buffalo was a federal agent and part of a conspiracy by the federal government. The committee said it will examine Rogers’ remarks “relating to the Buffalo shooting as inappropriate of an elected official with this body.” An effort to expel Rogers pushed by Democrats failed.
California – Judge Halts Angel Stadium Sale for FBI Corruption Probe of Anaheim Mayor
KABC – City News Service | Published: 5/17/2022
The city of Anaheim’s planned sale of Angel Stadium to team owner Arte Moreno’s company was halted for at least two months by an Orange County Superior Court judge, who agreed to a request by the state to pause the deal amid a federal corruption probe of Mayor Harry Sidhu. The state attorney general’s office filed the petition requesting a halt to the sale, pointing to the federal investigation that involves, in part, allegations Sidhu was trying to leverage the deal to secure campaign contributions from the Los Angeles Angels.
Colorado – Some Colorado Lobbyists Work for Both Sides at the Same Time
KUSA – Zack Newman | Published: 5/16/2022
At least 15 lobbyists and firms in Colorado have had clients on opposite of a bill at the same time in 2021 and 2022. State law requires lobbyists to tell clients about any conflicts-of-interest and bars them from engaging in “any other practice that discredits the practice of lobbying or the general assembly.” Mike Beasley, who runs 5280 Strategies, said it is “really important” to avoid conflicts-of-interest and there are practices in place to prevent them. He said his contract requires him to flag possible conflicts as far in advance as possible.
Delaware – State Auditor Loses Bid to Have Procurement Charge Dropped
MSN – Randall Chase (Associated Press) | Published: 5/17/2022
A judge refused to dismiss a criminal charge accusing Delaware’s embattled state auditor of deliberately breaking up payments for a contract she entered into with a former campaign consultant in order to avoid compliance with state procurement law. Kathleen McGuiness, who is responsible for rooting out government fraud, waste, and abuse, was indicted on felony counts of theft and witness intimidation, and misdemeanor charges of official misconduct, conflict-of-interest, and noncompliance with procurement laws. McGuiness has denied any wrongdoing.
Florida – Florida Bans Protests Outside Homes
MSN – Lindsay Bever (Washington Post) | Published: 5/17/2022
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill to outlaw protests outside private residences, a move opponents say violates First Amendment rights. The new law will make it a misdemeanor to picket or protest outside a person’s house to “harass or disturb” that person. Violators will receive a warning, and those who do not stop may be arrested for unlawful residential picketing, a crime punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. Republicans and Democrats have been debating the legality of protesting outside the private residences of U.S. Supreme Court justices, and the White House has said such protests are fine when they are peaceful.
Florida – Florida Judge Blocks DeSantis’ Congressional Redistricting Effort
MSN – Gary Fineout (Politico) | Published: 5/11/2022
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ bid to remake the state’s congressional map was dealt a setback on after a state judge said he would block the plan because of the way it scattered Black voters among several districts. DeSantis personally pushed the GOP-led Legislature to approve the map, which boosts the number of Republican-held seats in the state. The map also dismantles the district held by U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, a Black Democrat. The map is facing a legal challenge by a coalition that argues it violates the state’s Fair Districts standards – voter-approved anti-gerrymandering amendments in the Florida Constitution.
Florida – Miami Heat Mayor Suarez’s Office Is Mum on Prime Courtside Seat at the Heat’s Playoff Game
MSN – Ben Carnack (Miami Herald) | Published: 5/18/2022
At a recent Miami Heat playoff game, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez was seated courtside. The county ethics code mandates that gifts exceeding $100 must be reported in quarterly financial disclosures. Former Mayor Tomás Regalado, who faced an ethics probe that dealt, in part, with Miami Heat tickets, said it is inappropriate for the current mayor to sit courtside at a playoff game, whether the ticket was gifted to Suarez or he purchased it himself.
Florida – Mystery Group Behind Ads in ’20 Central Florida Primary Must Reveal Donors, Judge Rules
The Black Chronicle – Annie Martin (Orlando Sentinel) | Published: 5/12/2022
A group that sent attack ads in a state Senate primary in Florida without disclosing its donors, must reveal its contributors and make its chairperson available for a deposition, a judge ruled. Though political committees are required to list their contributions publicly, Floridians for Equality and Justice listed just one donation, a $249,925 “starting balance” from a “dark money” nonprofit organization of the same name. Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Jose Rodriguez said that records that state Sen. Annette Taddeo seeks, including bank records, exist and are in the committee’s possession.
Georgia – Georgia County Under Scrutiny After Claim of Post-Election Breach
MSN – Emma Brown and Amy Gardner (Washington Post) | Published: 5/13/2022
A former elections supervisor in rural Coffee County, Georgia, told The Washington Post she opened her offices to a businessperson active in the election-denier movement to help investigate results she did not trust in the weeks after former President Trump’s 2020 defeat. Trump carried the conservative county by 40 points, but elections supervisor Misty Hampton said she remained suspicious of Joe Biden’s win in Georgia. Hampton made a video that went viral soon after the election, claiming to show Dominion Voting System machines, the ones used in her county, could be manipulated.
Georgia – Georgia’s Oxendine to Hand Over $128,000 to End Ethics Saga
WABE – Associated Press | Published: 5/12/2022
The Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission agreed to drop its campaign finance case against former state Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, who will hand over the $128,000 remaining in his campaign fund and admit no wrongdoing. The deal ends a years-long struggle over whether Oxendine broke state law by using campaign funds to buy a house, lease luxury cars, and join a private club. Some members of commission expressed frustration that Oxendine did not admit fault in the consent order.
Georgia – Lieutenant Governor Candidate Jones Hasn’t Disclosed Flights
MSN – Associated Press | Published: 5/16/2022
A Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in Georgia acknowledged he has been flying to campaign events on his family’s private plane without disclosing any donations or expenses related to the flights in campaign finance filings. A campaign spokesperson for state Sen. Burt Jones said the candidate planned to pay one lump sum after the May 24 primary for all flights taken. But state campaign finance law says candidates “must disclose (expenses made) on the campaign contribution disclosure report due for the reporting period in which the flight occurred.”
Illinois – Three-Peat: Chicago ranks no. 1 in Corruption, report finds
WTTW – Heather Cherone | Published: 5/11/2022
For the third year in a row, Chicago is America’s most corrupt city, and Illinois is the third-most corrupt state, according to an annual report from the University of Illinois at Chicago. The report is based on an analysis of the public corruption statistics published by the U.S. Department of Justice. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic that nearly shut down state and federal courts, 2020 was one of the most “significant” twelve months in the “startling saga of political and public corruption in Chicago and Illinois,” said the author of the report, Dick Simpson, a former Chicago City Council member.
Iowa – Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller to Return Illegal $50,000 PAC Campaign Contribution
MSN – Katie Akin (Des Moines Register) | Published: 5/18/2022
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller will return an illegal $50,000 campaign contribution from the Democratic Attorneys General Association. Iowa law prohibits statewide candidates from accepting donations from PACs until the regular legislative session ends and lawmakers had not adjourned when Miller accepted the donation on May 13.
Kansas – Wichita Ethics Board Members, Candidates Could Be Disqualified Under ‘Goofy’ Policy
MSN – Chance Swaim (Wichita Eagle) | Published: 5/17/2022
Quirks in Wichita’s ethics policy threaten to further delay a board that has been dormant for more than a year, stalling any investigations of potential misconduct by city officials. One empty board seat, the ethics officer position, stands between the passage and enforcement of the city’s ethics rules. But the three finalists for the position have either dropped out of the race or face disqualification. A prohibition on “active members” of political parties and nonpartisan political organizations disqualifies two of the three finalists, one of whom already dropped out of the race. The other finalist moved out of town and is no longer interested in the position.
Maryland – Baltimore Council President Nick Mosby Violated Ethics Law by Accepting Money from City Contractors Via Legal Defense Fund, Board Rules
MSN – Emily Opilo (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 5/12/2022
Baltimore City Council President Nick Mosby violated the city’s ethics ordinance by accepting money from persons doing business with the city through his legal defense fund. The ruling by the city’s Board of Ethics does not name the donors but both are considered “controlled donors” under the law, which bars elected officials from receiving contributions from such donors, solicited or otherwise. The board also concluded Mosby violated a provision of the law barring him from soliciting donations, directly or indirectly, from controlled donors.
Michigan – Feds Charge Ex-Romulus Mayor with Wire Fraud in Corruption Crackdown
Detroit News – Robert Snell | Published: 5/13/2022
Federal prosecutors charged the former mayor of Romulus with wire fraud for spending more than $15,000 in campaign funds on personal expenses. LeRoy Burcroff is the latest current or former public official charged during a more than decade-long federal assault on corruption within municipal government and organized labor around Metro Detroit. That crackdown has led to charges against more than 110 people and the convictions of the two past presidents of the United Auto Workers, former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, and 23 contractors and public officials in Macomb County.
Montana – State Won’t Appeal Ruling Striking Down Parts of New Law
Helena Independent Record – Seaborn Lawson | Published: 5/18/2022
The Montana attorney general’s office will not appeal a District Court ruling that found state lawmakers went to unconstitutional lengths to pass new campaigning laws. Judge Mike Menahan ruled lawmakers had added sections unrelated to the original intent of Senate Bill 319 in a late-session meeting without public participation, in violation of the Montana Constitution.
New York – Adams’ Top Aide Navigates Uncharted Path on New York Ethics Issues
Yahoo News – Sally Goldenberg and Joe Anuta (Politico) | Published: 5/17/2022
Attorney Frank Carone of the firm Abrams Fensterman is chief of staff to New York City Mayor Eric Adams. A recent public disclosure shows the firm has been actively lobbying the new mayoral administration. Carone faces numerous conflicts-of-interest as he undertakes an expansive role in City Hall. An analysis of the firm’s clients from last year found more than 40 whose financial interests are intertwined with municipal government. Abrams Fensterman’s network of clients sets up a situation with little recent precedent in New York.
New York – Corporate Campaign Donors Identify Themselves Thanks to New York Focus Nudge
New York Focus – Sam Mellins | Published: 5/12/2022
In the wake of reporting into the state Board of Election’s failure to act on possible violations of a campaign finance law meant to limit “dark money” in New York elections, the agency began enforcement in March. That yielded rapid results, recent figures show: compliance with the law’s disclosure requirements has increased more than threefold since the board acted. The law required limited liability companies (LLCs) that make political donations to submit a form listing their owners and how much of the company each one owns. But majority of donors who gave via LLCs were not aware of or simply ignored this requirement.
New York – Court Expert Draws More GOP-Friendly New York Political Maps
MSN – Michelle Price (Associated Press) | Published: 5/16/2022
A court-appointed expert released a draft of new congressional maps for New York state that are more favorable to Republicans than the original gerrymandered political maps drawn by Democrats. A New York court will take comment on the maps for two days before a final version is approved by a judge on May 20, with primary elections for congressional races and the state Senate now being held August 23. Adding to the redistricting tangle, the state’s Assembly and gubernatorial primaries are still scheduled for June 28.
Ohio – Cincinnati Launches New Office of Ethics and Good Government to Rebuild ‘Public Trust’
Spectrum News – Casey Weldon | Published: 5/14/2022
Cincinnati endured one of its most difficult periods two years ago as it watched one-third of city council arrested on federal corruption charges. Federal prosecutors accused City Hall of having a “culture of corruption.” The city has worked to help reshape that image, and one way is through the creation of the Office of Ethics and Good Government. Its job is to educate elected officials and city staff on ethics-related issues, ranging from conflicts-of-interest to campaign contributions. It also investigates suspected cases of impropriety submitted through a new hotline.
Ohio – Lawmaker Proposed $300M Handout to Nursing Homes; Then Raised $52,000 from their Liaisons
Yahoo News – Jake Zuckerman (Ohio Capital Journal) | Published: 5/12/2022
An Ohio lawmaker last year proposed allocating $300 million of federal COVID-19 relief funds, divvied up among the state’s nursing homes with no strings attached. Ten days later, Rep. Sara Carruthers received a $13,200 campaign contribution from the chief executive of a chain of 59 nursing homes, $13,200 from his business partner, and another $13,200 from the chief executive’s wife. Two weeks later, a lobbyist for an association of nursing homes that backed the bill gave her another $13,200. The four contributions together comprise nearly half of all Carruthers’ campaign fundraising in 2021.
Ohio – Leader of Columbus Green-Energy Ballot Measure Guilty of Falsifying Campaign Finance Report
Yahoo News – Bill Bush and Jordan Laird (Columbus Dispatch) | Published: 5/16/2022
The man who led the failed ProEnergy Issue 7 ballot initiative last November, which Columbus leaders called a blatant effort to grab taxpayer funds, was found guilty of filing a false campaign finance record in connection with the petition drive for a similar 2019 initiative. John Clark Jr. led the petition drive to get an initiative put on the ballot that, if it had passed, would have diverted more than $50 million of city money toward vague green-energy initiatives proposed by a group that would have been in sole control of the funds.
Ohio – Medicaid Director Owned Stock in Companies She Awarded Huge Contracts
Ohio Capital Journal – Marty Schladen | Published: 5/17/2022
Ohio Medicaid Director Maureen Corcoran’s ethics filings show she continued to own stock in three health care companies in 2021, the same year she negotiated and signed billion-dollar contracts with their subsidiaries. State ethics rules only require that officials such as Corcoran list all the stocks they own at least $1,000 worth of in a given year. So, it is impossible to know how heavily invested she is in those companies. Corcoran declined to file an affidavit disclosing her exact holdings in companies whose subsidiaries she was awarding contracts and she has refused to make those disclosures voluntarily.
Oregon – Rich Donors Take Major Advantage of a Loophole in Portland’s Public Campaign Financing System
OPB – Rebecca Ellis | Published: 5/12/2022
Portland’s public campaign finance program aims to reduce the influence of big money in city politics by limiting the contributions that participating candidates can accept. In return for capping donations at $250, candidates get their small donations matched nine-fold by the city. But the ability of wealthy donors to give unlimited amounts to PACs that support candidates is, this year’s election shows, a fundamental loophole in the city’s efforts to curb campaign spending and, in the process, broaden who can run for office.
South Dakota – South Dakota Report: Noem’s daughter got special treatment
MSN – Stephen Groves (Associated Press) | Published: 5/18/2022
State lawmakers unanimously approved a report finding South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem’s daughter got preferential treatment while she was applying for a real estate appraiser’s license in 2020. Noem has denied wrongdoing, despite holding a meeting that included her daughter, Kassidy Peters, and key decision-makers from the agency that was evaluating her application just days after the agency moved to deny her the license. After the meeting, Peters received another opportunity to demonstrate she could meet federal standards and was ultimately awarded the license.
Tennessee – Registry of Election Finance Declines to Investigate Rep. Sherrell’s Fire-Hall Checks
Tennessee Lookout – Sam Stockard | Published: 5/19/2022
The Tennessee Registry of Election Finance claimed it had been “weaponized” in a state House District race and refused to investigate a complaint that Rep. Paul Sherrell wrote checks to volunteer fire halls and asked for cash back. “What we’re being asked here is to assume that Mr. Sherrell is a crook, bottom line. We’re to assume he is conducting illegal activity …,” board member Tom Lawless said, because Sherrell bought ham breakfasts for firefighters. Nevertheless, the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance urged Sherrell to make contributions differently in the future and to document all donations.
Texas – AG Ken Paxton Refuses to Disclose His Property Addresses to the Texas Ethics Commission
MSN – Jay Root and Taylor Goldenstein (Houston Chronicle) | Published: 5/18/2022
The state police made him do it. That is the excuse Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton gives on his ethics disclosures in place of revealing, as required by law, the addresses of properties he owns in Austin and College Station. “Redacted for security purposes on request of TX DPS,” Paxton has written on every form since he began work as attorney general. But nothing in the law allows him to refuse to provide the addresses, and none of the parties involved could produce any records proving such a request was ever made.
Washington – Inside the Washington Legislative Workers’ Union Push and Building Frustration with Democratic Leadership
Seattle Times – Joseph O’Sullivan | Published: 5/17/2022
Washington lawmakers passed a bill aimed at setting up a process to allow at least some legislative workers to unionize. The legislation also lifts the state’s prohibition on collective bargaining for legislative workers beginning in 2024. House Bill 2124 creates the Office of State Legislative Labor Relations to research and make recommendations to lawmakers about how staffers might unionize, and which workers might be part of that group. Lawmakers and others acknowledge they will likely need to pass another bill next year before collective bargaining begins.
Washington DC – Judges Accused of Sex Discrimination, Bullying, Internal Survey Shows
MSN – Ann Marimow (Washington Post) | Published: 5/16/2022
Complaints in a workplace survey conducted for the federal trial and appeals courts in the nation’s capital, an institution regarded as a steppingstone to the U.S. Supreme Court detail instances of gender discrimination, bullying, and racial insensitivity, while underscoring the power imbalance between judges with life tenure and the assistants who depend on them for career advancement. Current and former employees who acknowledged having witnessed misconduct described their reluctance to file complaints against their superiors. They cited fears of retaliation and distrust that the federal judiciary’s system for workplace accountability, which tasks judges with policing one another, ultimately would resolve their concerns.
Washington DC – Trump Sells D.C. Hotel Lease to Miami Investment Group
MSN – Jonathan O’Connell (Washington Post) | Published: 5/11/2022
The Trump Organization completed the sale of its District of Columbia hotel lease on Pennsylvania Avenue to CGI Merchant Group and its partner Hilton Worldwide Holdings, which will operate the hotel as a Waldorf Astoria property. Calls for the lease to be revoked or for Trump to divest himself of his real estate assets grew louder after he entered office and foreign leaders, corporations, and Republican politicians booked rooms and parties at the hotel as part of their efforts to curry favor with Trump.
West Virginia – ‘Everyone Was Shocked’: How WV’s ethics laws allowed someone barred from lobbying to try to influence legislators anyway
Mountain State Spotlight – Ian Karbal | Published: 5/16/2022
The West Virginia Ethics Act bars certain public officials from lobbying for at least a year after they leave office. But as Evan Jenkins’ rapid flip from state Supreme Court justice to timber company attorney highlighted, the law leaves plenty of wiggle room. He was able to speak directly to lawmakers, as well as propose specific language to legislation, all within weeks of holding a powerful position in government.
Wisconsin – Wis. Democrats File First-of-Its-Kind Suit vs. Fake Trump Electors
MSN – Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) | Published: 5/17/2022
Three Democratic voters in Wisconsin, including two who served as electors for President Biden in 2020, filed suit against 10 supporters of Donald Trump in the state, arguing the group engaged in a civil conspiracy to violate state and federal law when they declared themselves presidential electors in 2020 even though Biden won the state’s popular vote. Wisconsin was one of five states won by Biden where Republican electors gathered December 14, 2020, and declared themselves “duly elected and qualified” – then sent signed certificates to Washington purporting to affirm Trump as the actual victor of their states.
May 19, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Florida: “Mystery Group Behind Ads in ’20 Central Florida Primary Must Reveal Donors, Judge Rules” by Annie Martin (Orlando Sentinel) for The Black Chronicle Ohio: “Leader of Columbus Green-Energy Ballot Measure Guilty of Falsifying Campaign Finance Report” by […]
Florida: “Mystery Group Behind Ads in ’20 Central Florida Primary Must Reveal Donors, Judge Rules” by Annie Martin (Orlando Sentinel) for The Black Chronicle
Ohio: “Leader of Columbus Green-Energy Ballot Measure Guilty of Falsifying Campaign Finance Report” by Bill Bush and Jordan Laird (Columbus Dispatch) for Yahoo News
National: “How the Biden Administration Let Right-Wing Attacks Derail Its Disinformation Efforts” by Taylor Lorenz (Washington Post) for Yahoo News
California: “Judge Halts Angel Stadium Sale for FBI Corruption Probe of Anaheim Mayor” by City News Service for KABC
Florida: “Florida Bans Protests Outside Homes” by Lindsay Bever (Washington Post) for MSN
Kansas: “Wichita Ethics Board Members, Candidates Could Be Disqualified Under ‘Goofy’ Policy” by Chance Swaim (Wichita Eagle) for MSN
South Dakota: “South Dakota Report: Noem’s daughter got special treatment” by Stephen Groves (Associated Press) for MSN
Texas: “AG Ken Paxton Refuses to Disclose His Property Addresses to the Texas Ethics Commission” by Jay Root and Taylor Goldenstein (Houston Chronicle) for MSN
National: “U.S. Sues to Compel Casino Mogul Steve Wynn to Register as Agent of China” by Isaac Stanley-Becker and Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) for MSN
Delaware: “State Auditor Loses Bid to Have Procurement Charge Dropped” by Randall Chase (Associated Press) for MSN
May 3, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Washington: “Republican Spokane County Commissioner Candidate Gets Partial Exemption from Campaign Finance Requirements” by Colin Tiernan (Spokane Spokesman-Review) for Yahoo News Elections Virginia: “Youngkin’s Move to Force Loudoun School Board Elections Called ‘Troubling’” by Gregory Schneider and Laura […]
Washington: “Republican Spokane County Commissioner Candidate Gets Partial Exemption from Campaign Finance Requirements” by Colin Tiernan (Spokane Spokesman-Review) for Yahoo News
Virginia: “Youngkin’s Move to Force Loudoun School Board Elections Called ‘Troubling’” by Gregory Schneider and Laura Vozzella (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “How a Billionaires Boys’ Club Came to Dominate the Public Square” by Michael Scherer and Sarah Ellison (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Judge Upholds Jan. 6 Committee Subpoena for RNC Records” by Kyle Cheney (Politico) for Yahoo News
Idaho: “Former Idaho Lawmaker Found Guilty of Raping Intern” by Rebecca Boone (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
Massachusetts: “Former State Police Head and Three Others Violated Ethics Law by Altering Arrest Report for Judge’s Daughter, Ethics Commission Alleges” by Andrea Estes (Boston Globe) for MSN
New York: “Trump Grand Jury Ending in N.Y. with No Charges Against Ex-President” by Shayna Jacobs, Josh Dawsey, and Jonathan O’Connell (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “‘Pay to Play’ Governor Behest Payment Contracting Bill Killed by Senate Democrats” by Evan Symon for California Globe
April 1, 2022 •
National/Federal Anita Dunn and SKDK: Power and influence in Biden’s Washington MSN – Tyler Pager, Sean Sullivan, and Michael Scherer (Washington Post) | Published: 3/28/2022 SKDK, a public relations and political strategy firm, is a unique force in Washington, straddling the […]
Anita Dunn and SKDK: Power and influence in Biden’s Washington
MSN – Tyler Pager, Sean Sullivan, and Michael Scherer (Washington Post) | Published: 3/28/2022
SKDK, a public relations and political strategy firm, is a unique force in Washington, straddling the line between the private sector and the Biden administration to quietly affect change. The firm has served a roster of high-powered clients, including Fortune 500 companies, occasionally foreign governments, and candidates. Neither SKDK nor Anita Dunn, the firm’s co-founder who was an architect of President Biden’s 2020 victory and served in the administration, lobby or represent any clients on matters before the federal government. Still, Dunn’s role is questioned by some ethics experts, who say she has, avoided rules meant to promote transparency.
Did Trump Asking Putin for Dirt on Hunter Biden Violate Election Law?
Newsweek – Ewan Palmer | Published: 3/31/2022
Questions have been raised about whether Donald Trump asking Russian President Vladimir Putin to find information on Hunter Biden’s alleged business dealings was a violation of federal law. Trump once again publicly sought a foreign power’s assistance in unearthing political dirt on one of his political opponents after he repeated dubious claims regarding President Joe Biden’s son. While he has not formally announced his intention to run for president in 2024, some have accused Trump of breaking the law that prohibits any person from soliciting, accepting, or receiving anything of value from a foreign national in connection with an election.
FEC Fines DNC, Clinton for Violating Rules in Funding Steele Dossier
MSN – Eugene Scott (Washington Post) | Published: 3/30/2022
The FEC fined the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign for violating rules with the funding of the dossier at the center of accusations of collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia. The FEC said the fine for the Clinton campaign was $8,000 and the fine for the DNC was $105,000.
Flynn Partner Wins New Trial in Foreign-Agent Case
Yahoo News – Josh Gerstein (Politico) | Published: 3/25/2022
A onetime business partner of former President Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn scored a legal victory as a federal judge ordered a new trial for the Iranian-born businessperson on charges he acted as an unregistered foreign agent for Turkey as Trump ran for president in 2016. The ruling was the latest lurch in a legal roller coaster ride for Bijan Rafiekian, who was found guilty by a jury, then then had his two felony convictions thrown out only to see the guilty verdicts reinstated by an appeals court.
How Google and Amazon Bankrolled a ‘Grassroots’ Activist Group of Small Business Owners to Lobby Against Big Tech Oversight
CNBC – Eamon Javers and Meghan Maharishi | Published: 3/30/2022
The Connected Commerce Council (3C), which pitches itself as a grassroots movement representing small business owners, is really a well-financed advocacy group funded by Google and Amazon. The companies are currently the council’s sole financial support. Lobbying watchdog group the Campaign for Accountability called 3C an “Astroturf” lobbying organization, thanks to the tech giants’ financial support. The group does have some active small business members, several of whom said they value 3C’s offerings and agree with its issue advocacy in Washington, D.C.
Jan. 6 Committee Backs Contempt Charges for Two Former Trump Aides
MSN – Jacqueline Alemany and Amy Wang (Washington Post) | Published: 3/28/2022
Internal White House records from the day of the attack on the U.S. Capitol that were turned over to a House select committee show a gap in former President Trump’s phone logs of seven hours and 37 minutes, including the period when the building was being violently assaulted. The seven-hour gap stands in stark contrast to the extensive public reporting about phone conversations Trump had with allies during the attack. One lawmaker on the panel said the committee is investigating a “possible coverup” of the official White House record from that day.
Jan. 6 White House Logs Given to House Show 7-hour Gap in Trump Calls
MSN – Bob Woodward and Robert Costa (Washington Post) | Published: 3/29/2022
Internal White House records from the day of the attack on the U.S. Capitol that were turned over to the House select committee show a gap in former President Trump’s phone logs of seven hours and 37 minutes, including the period when the building was being violently assaulted. The seven-hour gap stands in stark contrast to the extensive public reporting about phone conversations Trump had with allies during the attack. One lawmaker on the panel said the committee is investigating a “possible coverup” of the official White House record from that day.
Justice Dept. Expands Jan. 6 Probe to Look at Rally Prep, Financing
MSN – Devlin Barrett, Josh Dawsey, Jacqueline Alemany, and Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 3/30/2022
The criminal investigation into the attack on the Capitol has expanded to examine the preparations for the rally that preceded the riot, as the Justice Department aims to determine the full extent of any conspiracy to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s election victory. A federal grand jury has issued subpoena requests to some officials in former President Trump’s orbit who assisted in planning, funding, and executing the January 6 rally.
Lawmakers Aim to Strengthen Transparency in the Lucrative – and Murky – Federal Contracting Process
ABC News – Lucien Bruggeman and Soo Rin Kim | Published: 3/28/2022
A bipartisan coalition of senators introduced legislation meant to improve transparency in the competitive and murky federal contracting process, taking aim at companies that accept lucrative work from government agencies without having to disclose potential conflicts-of-interest. The Preventing Organizational Conflicts of interest in Federal Acquisition Act would force contractors to “disclose other parts of their business that conflict with the work they are bidding to perform for the government,” according to U.S. Sen. Gary Peters.
Rep. Jeff Fortenberry Resigns After Being Found Guilty of Lying to FBI
MSN – Mariana Alfaro and María Paúl (Washington Post) | Published: 3/26/2022
U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry resigned from Congress after he was convicted on three felony counts for lying to federal investigators about illegal campaign contributions from a foreign billionaire. Foreign nationals are prohibited from donating to candidates running for federal office in the U.S. It is also illegal to disguise a donor’s identity through third-party contributions. Fortenberry was convicted of one count of scheming to falsify and conceal material facts and two counts of making false statements to federal investigators. Each of the counts carries a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison.
Trump Likely Committed Felony Obstruction, Federal Judge Rules
Politico – Kyle Cheney, Josh Gerstein, and Nicholas Wu | Published: 3/28/2022
A federal judge ruled former President Trump “more likely than not” attempted to illegally obstruct Congress as part of a criminal conspiracy when he tried to subvert the 2020 election on January 6, 2021. U.S. District Court Judge David Carter’s ruling came as he ordered the release to a House select committee of 101 emails from Trump ally John Eastman, rejecting Eastman’s effort to shield them via attorney-client privilege. Eastman used the email account of his former employer to discuss political and legal strategy related to efforts to overturn the 2020 election and had sued the committee to prevent them from obtaining the emails.
Trump NLRB Member’s Conflicts Broke Law, Inspector General Alleges
Bloomberg Law – Ian Kullgren | Published: 3/28/2022
Former National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) member William Emanuel allegedly broke federal ethics law by failing to monitor investments that created disqualifying conflicts-of-interest in five cases, according to board documents. The U.S. Department of Justice last year declined to press charges against Emanuel, which ethics experts attributed to the high burden of proof in criminal cases. Documents show his conduct despite repeated warnings created at least the possibility of self-enrichment. The case highlights a gap in ethics enforcement that could be exploited by future appointees at the NLRB and other agencies.
Turmoil at CBS News Over Trump Aide Mick Mulvaney’s Punditry Gig
MSN – Jeremy Barr (Wshington Post) | Published: 3/30/2022
CBS News’s decision to hire former Trump administration official Mick Mulvaney as a paid on-air contributor is drawing backlash within the company because of his history of bashing the press and promoting the former president’s fact-free claims. Many journalists and political commentators suggested the network was jeopardizing its long history of journalistic excellence. One person said the frustration among staff was less about Mulvaney’s high-ranking role in the Trump administration and more about the inaccuracy of some of his past comments.
Virginia Thomas Urged White House Chief to Pursue Unrelenting Efforts to Overturn the 2020 Election, Texts Show
MSN – Bob Woodward and Robert Costa (Washington Post) | Published: 3/24/2022
Virginia Thomas, a conservative activist married to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, repeatedly pressed White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to pursue unrelenting efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election in a series of urgent text exchanges in the critical weeks after the vote. The 29 messages reveal an extraordinary pipeline between Virginia Thomas and then-President Trump’s top aide during a period when Trump and his allies were vowing to go to the Supreme Court to negate the election results.
Why Redistricting Has Stalled in 4 Unfinished States
Yahoo News – Ally Mutnick and Gary Fineout (Politico) | Published: 3/28/2022
The final stage of the redistricting cycle has arrived: gridlock. Spats between governors and state legislators, and between different Republican factions, have brought map-making to a standstill in the final four states still without new congressional lines for the 2022 elections. With filing deadlines looming, 44 House seats are still outstanding in Louisiana, New Hampshire, Missouri and, most importantly, Florida, which has 28 districts all by itself.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – Arizona Republicans Enact a Controversial New Proof-of-Citizenship Voting Law
KJZZ – Ben Giles | Published: 3/30/2022
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation to expand U.S. citizenship voting requirements in the state, a measure that critics warn will jeopardize the voter registrations of thousands of residents. In signing House Bill 2492, Ducey disputed testimony from local officials and voting rights advocates who say an unknown number of voters – predominantly older, longtime Arizona residents – will be purged from the voter rolls because the last time they registered to vote, there was no requirement to provide proof of citizenship. Critics say those voters would then need to register again.
Arizona – Panel Strikes Down Plan to Give Arizona Lawmakers Big Raises
Arizona Daily Star – Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services) | Published: 3/28/2022
Arizona lawmakers will still have to depend on voters’ goodwill, or lack thereof, to get more pay. The House Appropriations Committee quashed a proposal to create a system that would peg lawmakers’ salary at 60 percent of what the governor is paid. That would move legislative pay next year from $24,000 to $57,000. The measure would have replaced the current system of having a special commission study the issue and make recommendations that go on the ballot. The death of the package also means some proffered changes on lobbyist reporting also will not take effect.
California – Airbnb Routinely Deploys Its ‘Astroturf Army’ to Combat California Short-Term Rental Regulations, Critics Say
MSN – Silas Valentino (San Francisco Chronicle) | Published: 3/28/2022
In 2020, one week before the San Diego Planning Commission met to discuss capping the number of short-term rentals in the city, Airbnb emailed its hosts asking for help. “The Planning Commission needs to hear from hosts like you,” read the email, signed by The Airbnb Team. At the bottom there were two links: one to a short form that generated an email to city council members and another to RSVP for the meeting’s public comment session. Airbnb is not the only tech company to generate seemingly grassroots campaigns. In fact, they are so common that BuzzFeed reporter Caroline O’Donovan gave this “click-to-lobby” tactic a name: “Brobilizing.”
Colorado – Judge Says Republican Consultants Didn’t Violate Redistricting Lobbying Rules
Colorado Public Radio – Bente Birkeland | Published: 3/25/2022
An administrative law judge ruled former state Sen. Greg Brophy, former House Speaker Frank McNulty, and political strategist Alan Philp did not violate Colorado’s lobbying rules with their work on redistricting last year. A complaint alleged they either failed to register as lobbyists while conducting meetings related to redistricting and proposing ideas for maps, or they did not properly disclose income related to their work. Judge Matthew Norwood concluded their activities did not meet the definition of lobbying.
Connecticut – CT Contracting Watchdog Clears Key Hurdle to Add Investigative Staff
CTMirror.org – Keith Phaneuf | Published: 3/29/2022
Connecticut’s contracting watchdog panel moved one step closer to getting the investigative staff it has sought since its inception 13 years ago. The Government Administration and Elections Committee approved a bill mandating the five investigative posts sought by the State Contracting Standards Board be filled before the first quarter of the next fiscal year ends, in late September. Pressure from legislators to strengthen the watchdog intensified this year following reports the FBI is investigating school construction work and other projects once overseen by Gov. Ned Lamont’s former deputy budget director.
Florida – Ex-Congressman David Rivera Loses ‘Last-Ditch’ Move to Avoid $456,000 Campaign Fine
Florida Bulldog – Francisco Alvarado | Published: 3/28/2022
A federal judge rejected former U.S. Rep. David Rivera’s “last-ditch effort” to dodge a $456,000 judgment against him tied to his decade-old campaign violations. Roughly a year after ruling in favor of the FEC, U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke denied Rivera’s motion to dismiss the agency’s lawsuit against him on the grounds he never received mail notices he was going to be sued, and that a five-year statute of limitations had expired when the complaint was filed in 2017. The FEC case is now administratively closed, and Rivera is on the hook for the six-figure judgment.
Florida – Florida’s Redistricting Mess Heads to Special Session after DeSantis Vetoes ‘Defective’ Map
MSN – Gary Fineout (Politico) | Published: 3/29/2022
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed a new congressional map while calling for a mid-April special legislative session so state lawmakers can craft new maps that satisfy him. DeSantis contended the Legislature-approved congressional map was “defective” and violated federal law. He made clear he would be opposed to any proposal designed to keep intact districts that had a sizable minority population, but where minority voters do not constitute an overall majority.
Georgia – Georgia Elections Overhaul Gutted by State Senate Committee, Setting Up Potential Showdown
MSN – Fredreka Schouten (CNN) | Published: 3/29/2022
A Georgia Senate committee eviscerated a controversial elections overhaul a day after local election officials from both parties blasted it as complicating their work in an election year. The fate of the massive bill, which sped through the GOP-led House in March, is now uncertain and could result in a showdown in the final days of the legislative session.
Georgia – Guilty Verdict in Atlanta City Hall Corruption Trial
Yahoo News – Associated Press | Published: 3/23/2022
A jury found a political operative and former Atlanta employee guilty on charges including money laundering, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit bribery that resulted from a long-running federal investigation into corruption at City Hall. Mitzi Bickers was the first person to go to trial over the corruption probe during former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration. Bickers was accused of using her influence to funnel business to city contractors. Prosecutors said she directed roughly $17 million in city work to the two men and their companies in exchange for about $2 million in bribes.
Idaho – Ammon Bundy Pays Himself Thousands in Campaign Cash
Boise State Public Radio – James Dawson | Published: 3/25/2022
Ammon Bundy, the anti-government activist running as an independent candidate to be Idaho’s next governor, has paid thousands of dollars in campaign donations to a company he owns. Bundy’s campaign has paid $13,500 in $1,500 monthly installments since June 1, 2021, to Abish-Husbondi Inc, a company incorporated in Wyoming. Bundy is listed as the company’s president and sole officer in an annual report. Idaho law states that, in general, “A contribution shall lot be converted by any person to personal use.” But the law appears silent on whether candidates can contract with their own businesses.
Illinois – Michael Madigan’s Indictment: How he pushed for allies to get ComEd jobs and his own daughter’s legislation was killed.
MSN – Jeremy Gorner, Dan Petrella, and Ray Long (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 3/27/2022
Nearly four years ago, legislation that aimed to help low-income electricity customers was making its way to the floor of an Illinois House chamber tightly controlled by its longtime speaker, Michael Madigan. The bill’s main advocate was Madigan’s daughter, then-state Attorney General Lisa Madigan. One of its primary opponents was Commonwealth Edison (ComEd), the state’s largest electric utility. ComEd won because, according to federal prosecutors, Michael Madigan paved the way. Prosecutors allege he greenlighted efforts to defeat his own daughter’s bill as he pressed ComEd to give jobs to two political allies.
Illinois – State Supreme Court: Officials may, sometimes, use campaign funds for criminal defense
Capitol News Illinois – Peter Hancock | Published: 3/24/2022
The Illinois Supreme Court ruled elected public officials and their campaign committees may, in limited circumstances, use campaign funds to pay criminal defense fees. The case involved a former Chicago City Council member, Danny Solis, who reportedly avoided federal prosecution by agreeing to cooperate with the FBI and Department of Justice in their investigation of another alderman, Ed Burke, who was indicted on federal corruption charges.
Kansas – Kansas Governmental Ethics Leader Under Fire Amid Law License Questions. Legislature Eyes Response.
MSN – Andrew Bahl (Topeka Capital Journal) | Published: 3/31/2022
The director of the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission is under fire over the status of his law license, a conflict that could result in the Legislature pursuing a policy change to target the group and its leader, Mark Skoglund. The issue stems from a broader case regarding whether a group should be considered a political committee. Two motions filed with the ethics panel would push to dismiss or reconsider the case, arguing Skoglund misrepresented his status as an active attorney. Currently, Skoglund’s law license is suspended.
Maryland – FirstEnergy Utility Gave to Pro-Trump Dark Money Group
E&E News – Jeffrey Tomich | Published: 3/28/2022
Records from FirstEnergy’s Maryland utility show some of its customers’ monthly payments in 2017 were secretly flowing to a “dark money” group formed to help further former President Trump’s agenda. The records show Potomac Edison paid $163,000 that year to America First Policies, which was founded by some of Trump’s top administration and campaign officials. The America First payment, made around the time FirstEnergy was pressing the Trump administration for help to rescue coal and nuclear plants, was revealed as part of an ongoing Maryland Public Service Commission investigation. It is among millions of dollars in payments by FirstEnergy and its subsidiaries to groups that are not required to list their donors.
Maryland – Judge Throws Out Maryland Congressional Map Over ‘Extreme’ Gerrymandering
MSN – Meagan Flynn, Ovetta Wiggins, and Erin Cox (Washington Post) | Published: 3/25/2022
A Maryland judge threw out the state’s congressional map, calling it an “extreme partisan gerrymander” in what is a victory for Republicans. The ruling by Anne Arundel County Senior Judge Lynne Battaglia marks the first time in Maryland history a judge has found a congressional map violated the state constitution. Battaglia ruled the map ran afoul of rules laid out in the law traditionally applied to legislative districts, requiring them to be compact and to give regard to political subdivisions. She also ruled the map violated the state constitution’s equal protection, free speech, and free elections clauses.
Maryland – Legal Spending from Mosby Campaign Accounts Did Not Violate Maryland Law, Election Board Finds
Baltimore Sun – Emily Opilo | Published: 3/29/2022
The use of campaign funds for the legal defense of both Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby and her husband, Baltimore City Council President Nick Mosby, did not violate state election law, according to a decision from the Maryland State Board of Elections. The board launched an inquiry into the couple’s spending after both filed reports claiming legal costs paid out to multiple law firms as campaign expenses. State law prohibits any candidate or political committee from using campaign funds for legal expenses related to investigations or court proceedings that “do not have a direct connection with the candidacy.”
Missouri – Dueker Says She Has ‘Good Shot’ at Defeating Page Despite Lack of Campaign Account
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Jack Suntrup | Published: 3/30/2022
A Democrat running in the August primary against incumbent St. Louis County Executive Sam Page says she has no current plans to open a campaign account for her bid. Jane Dueker, a local police union attorney and registered lobbyist, would have to do so under Missouri law if she raises more than $1,000. But because she is a registered lobbyist, she is not allowed to operate a campaign account.
New York – Federal investigators Subpoena Albany Officials for Info Related to Grants and Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin
New York Daily News – Denis Slattery and Michael Gartland | Published: 3/25/2022
Federal investigators issued subpoenas and are seeking information about grants related to New York Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin’s time as a state senator. Investigators with the Southern District of New York have subpoenaed state officials and Senate employees as they probe money Benjamin steered toward projects in his former district. The inquiry is related to funds doled out through the State and Municipal Facilities Program, a lump sum appropriation in the state budget administered through the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York.
Ohio – Ohio’s High Court Suggests No Ruling Before Primary on Redistricting Map
MSN – Colby Itkowitz (Washington Post) | Published: 3/29/2022
The Ohio Supreme Court suggested it will not rule on whether a Republican-drawn congressional map is legal until after the May 3 primary. In January, justices stuck down Republicans’ first redrawing of its congressional districts on grounds it violated a constitutional amendment passed by voters to ban partisan gerrymandering. Republicans submitted a new, minimally altered map in March that Democrats and voting rights groups complained was no better. But a legal technicality restarted the clock on the case, and the court’s schedule indicated it would not have a decision until weeks after Ohioans have cast ballots in the primary.
Oregon – Campaign Finance Reform Advocates Ask Oregon Supreme Court for a New Hearing
Oregon Capital Chronicle – Julia Shumway | Published: 3/24/2022
A coalition of good government groups is asking the Oregon Supreme Court to reconsider a decision that would keep voters from deciding in November whether the state should limit money in politics. The court rejected a request from the proponents of three proposed ballot initiatives to overturn a decision by Secretary of State Shemia Fagan that would prevent the initiatives from appearing on the November ballot. Petitioner Jason Kafoury described a new legal filing asking the court to reconsider their case as a “Hail Mary.”
South Carolina – SC Ethics Commission Stops Silencing Whistleblowers After Free-Speech Lawsuit
Charleston Post and Courier – Avery Wilks | Published: 3/24/2022
The South Carolina Ethics Commission reversed a three decades-old policy preventing anyone who files a complaint against a public official from talking about it unless the complaint is found valid. The decision came after a whistleblower whose complaint was dismissed by the commission sued and said the secrecy violated free speech rights and unfairly silenced people who wanted to report wrongdoing. Leaders in the state Legislature filed documents in the lawsuit saying they never intended for the state’s ethics laws to silence whistleblowers.
South Dakota – SD House Committee Points to ‘In Office’ Clause to Clear
Yahoo News – Stephen Groves (Associated Press) | Published: 3/29/2022
Republicans on a South Dakota House committee want to clear the state’s attorney general of impeachment charges for his actions surrounding a 2020 fatal car crash, arguing that anything wrong he did was not part of his work “in office.” But those pushing to remove Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg from office are not giving up before the full House convenes in two weeks. The House committee concluded its monthslong inquiry by voting along party lines late to recommend that Ravnsborg, a Republican, face no impeachment charges.
Vermont – Corporations Can’t Donate to Molly Gray’s Campaign. But Their Lobbyists Host Fundraisers
VTDigger.org – Lola Duffort | Published: 3/30/2022
The four Democratic candidates vying to represent Vermont in the U.S. House have all taken the same pledge: no money from corporate PACs. But while the candidates say they would not take money from PACs representing big business, at least one is receiving significant support from some of the lobbyists who represent their interests in Washington, D.C. Lt. Gov. Molly Gray attended Capitol Hill events hosted by Luke Albee and Ed Pagano, two former chiefs of staff to U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy who have both spent years as corporate lobbyists.
Virginia – Key Youngkin Adviser Is Paid by Political Firms
MSN – Laura Vozzella (Washington Post) | Published: 3/26/2022
Matthew Moran works as Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s director of policy and legislative affairs, but the only paycheck he collects is from two political consulting firms. He is on a paid leave from Creative Direct, where he is a vice president, and an affiliate in which he has an ownership interest, Link Public Affairs. Neither firm employs registered lobbyists, but Link runs public affairs campaigns designed to influence legislators. Critics say the arrangement presents a conflict-of-interest and creates a loophole around “revolving-door” laws, which prohibit certain paid state employees from lobbying for a year after leaving their jobs.
West Virginia – How Joe Manchin Aided Coal, and Earned Millions
Yahoo News – Julie Tate, Christopher Flavelle, and Erin Schaff (New York Times) | Published: 3/27/2022
A power plant near Grant Town, West Virginia, is the link between the coal industry and the personal finances of U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin. Although the fact that Manchin owns a coal business is well known, an examination by The New York Times offers a more detailed portrait of the degree to which Manchin’s business has been interwoven with his official actions. He created his business while a state lawmaker. Manchin supplied a type of low-grade coal mixed with rock and clay known as “gob” that is typically cast aside as junk by mining companies but can be burned to produce electricity. The Grant Town plant has been the sole customer for his gob for the past 20 years.
March 31, 2022 •
Elections Georgia: “Georgia Elections Overhaul Gutted by State Senate Committee, Setting Up Potential Showdown” by Fredreka Schouten (CNN) for MSN Ethics South Dakota: “SD House Committee Points to ‘In Office’ Clause to Clear” by Stephen Groves (Associated Press) for Yahoo […]
Georgia: “Georgia Elections Overhaul Gutted by State Senate Committee, Setting Up Potential Showdown” by Fredreka Schouten (CNN) for MSN
South Dakota: “SD House Committee Points to ‘In Office’ Clause to Clear” by Stephen Groves (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
National: “Flynn Partner Wins New Trial in Foreign-Agent Case” by Josh Gerstein (Politico) for Yahoo News
National: “How Google and Amazon Bankrolled a ‘Grassroots’ Activist Group of Small Business Owners to Lobby Against Big Tech Oversight” by Eamon Javers and Meghan Maharishi for CNBC
Vermont: “Corporations Can’t Donate to Molly Gray’s Campaign. But Their Lobbyists Host Fundraisers” by Lola Duffort for VTDigger.org
National: “Lawmakers Aim to Strengthen Transparency in the Lucrative – and Murky – Federal Contracting Process” by Lucien Bruggeman and Soo Rin Kim for ABC News
Florida: “Florida’s Redistricting Mess Heads to Special Session after DeSantis Vetoes ‘Defective’ Map” by Gary Fineout (Politico) for MSN
Ohio: “Ohio’s High Court Suggests No Ruling Before Primary on Redistricting Map” by Colby Itkowitz (Washington Post) for MSN
March 30, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Florida: “Ex-Congressman David Rivera Loses ‘Last-Ditch’ Move to Avoid $456,000 Campaign Fine” by Francisco Alvarado for Florida Bulldog Idaho: “Ammon Bundy Pays Himself Thousands in Campaign Cash” by James Dawson for Boise State Public Radio Maryland: “Legal Spending […]
Florida: “Ex-Congressman David Rivera Loses ‘Last-Ditch’ Move to Avoid $456,000 Campaign Fine” by Francisco Alvarado for Florida Bulldog
Idaho: “Ammon Bundy Pays Himself Thousands in Campaign Cash” by James Dawson for Boise State Public Radio
Maryland: “Legal Spending from Mosby Campaign Accounts Did Not Violate Maryland Law, Election Board Finds” by Emily Opilo for Baltimore Sun
National: “Jan. 6 White House Logs Given to House Show 7-hour Gap in Trump Calls” by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Jan. 6 Committee Backs Contempt Charges for Two Former Trump Aides” by Jacqueline Alemany and Amy Wang (Washington Post) for MSN
Arizona: “Panel Strikes Down Plan to Give Arizona Lawmakers Big Raises” by Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services) for Arizona Daily Star
National: “Anita Dunn and SKDK: Power and influence in Biden’s Washington” by Tyler Pager, Sean Sullivan, and Michael Scherer (Washington Post) for MSN
Connecticut: “CT Contracting Watchdog Clears Key Hurdle to Add Investigative Staff” by Keith Phaneuf for CTMirror.org
March 4, 2022 •
National/Federal Backstage Drama at Jan. 6 Rally for Trump Draws Interest of House Committee MSN – Jacqueline Alemany, Josh Dawsey, and Beth Reinhard (Washington Post) | Published: 2/26/2022 The White House was made aware of concerns among allies of Donald Trump […]
Backstage Drama at Jan. 6 Rally for Trump Draws Interest of House Committee
MSN – Jacqueline Alemany, Josh Dawsey, and Beth Reinhard (Washington Post) | Published: 2/26/2022
The White House was made aware of concerns among allies of Donald Trump that some people coming to Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021, to potentially speak at the rally were too extreme, even for a president who had frequently pushed or crossed the boundaries of traditional political norms. The advance warnings to the White House and the friction between organizers have become a focus for the House select committee investigating the insurrection, as lawmakers try to understand the planning and financing behind the rally.
First Jan. 6 Defendant Pleads Guilty to Seditious Conspiracy in Capitol Attack
MSN – Tom Jackman and Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) | Published: 3/2/2022
A member of the far-right Oath Keepers extremist group became the first to admit to engaging in seditious conspiracy on January 6, 2021, to keep President Biden from taking office. Joshua James pleaded guilty to helping lead a group that prosecutors say sent two tactically equipped teams into the Capitol and organized a cache of weapons in a hotel just outside the city. He may face the stiffest sentence of any January 6 defendant so far, according to preliminary sentencing guidelines.
Four US Lawmakers or Their Spouses Personally Invested in Russian Companies: Documents
MSN – Dave Levinthal (Business Insider) | Published: 3/1/2022
Four members of Congress or their spouses have either currently or recently invested money in Russian companies, financial disclosures show. These investments come to light in the midst of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has prompted the U.S. government to hit Russia with heavy sanctions and triggered boycotts of Russian products and culture. Congress is debating whether to ban members from trading individual stocks amid violations of current financial disclosure laws and potential conflicts-of-interest.
Four Women on the Supreme Court Would Bring Historic, Near Gender Parity for Institution Long Dominated by White Men
MSN – Robert Barnes (Washington Post) | Published: 2/27/2022
If President Biden’s nominee, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, is confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court, it would mean four women would simultaneously serve for the first time in its 233-year history, as close to gender parity as possible on the nine-person bench. That will not change the court’s ideological direction, and law professors and political scientists continue to debate whether gender significantly affects legal interpretation. But those who welcome the change say it is important for representational reasons, and they assert it could bolster the public’s view of the court’s legitimacy.
Guns, Radicalization and a Father’s Alleged Threat: First Jan. 6 trial set to begin
MSN – Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 2/28/2022
Guy Reffitt, a purported recruiter for the right-wing, anti-government Three Percenters movement is the first person to stand trial in the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. For the first time, a defendant will get to confront in open court a portion of the mountain of video evidence, online communications data, and police testimony the government has amassed against roughly 750 federally charged individuals. A judge and jury in D.C. also will weigh prosecutors’ application of rarely used criminal statutes to prosecute the first violent incursion of the Capitol by U.S. citizens.
Jan. 6 Committee Alleges Trump, Allies Engaged in Potential ‘Criminal Conspiracy’ by Trying to Block Congress from Certifying Election
MSN – Josh Dawsey, Tom Hamburger, Jacqueline Alemany, and Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) | Published: 3/2/2022
The House committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol said in a court filing it had evidence former President Trump and his allies engaged in a “criminal conspiracy” by trying to block Congress from certifying the election. The alleged criminal acts, which include conspiring to defraud the United States, were raised by the committee in a filing challenging conservative lawyer John Eastman’s refusal to turn over thousands of emails the panel requested related to his role in trying to persuade former Vice President Mike Pence to reject electors from states won by Joe Biden.
Lobbyists Ramp Up Fly-Ins Despite Capitol Covid-19 Restrictions
Bloomberg Government – Nancy Ognanovich | Published: 2/24/2022
Two years after the pandemic forced the closure of the U.S. Capitol, the lobbying community still faces challenges maintaining relationships and effective communications with House and Senate lawmakers and staff. But with Covid-19 cases waning and important legislative issues on the agenda, some lobbyists and industry associations are resuming their trek to Washington, D.C. and have devised ways to deal with continued restrictions on entering the Capitol complex. More than 50 different business groups plan trips, with industry fly-ins beginning March 2, according to Ed Mortimer, a U.S. Chamber of Commerce vice president.
‘My Life Was a Constant Lie’: Chabot’s ex-campaign manager sentenced for $1.4 million theft
MSN – Kevin Grasha (Cincinnati Enquirer) | Published: 3/1/2022
U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot’s onetime campaign manager, Jamie Schwartz, was sentenced to two years in federal prison for stealing $1.42 million from the campaign. Schwartz’s embezzlement took place over at least eight years, prosecutors said. But the scheme began to unravel in the summer of 2019 when the FEC began an audit of the campaign. According to prosecutors, Schwartz falsified official records, forged bank records, and lied to the FEC.
Some Records Taken by Trump Are So Sensitive They May Not Be Described in Public
MSN – Jacqueline Alemany and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) | Published: 2/26/2022
Some of the presidential records recovered from former President Trump’s residence at Mar-a-Lago are so sensitive they may not be able to be described in forthcoming inventory reports in an unclassified way. The revelation comes as U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney sent the National Archives and Records Administration a request for further information on 15 boxes of records recovered from Trump’s resort. There are records at the very highest levels of classification, including some that can be viewed by only a small number of government officials.
Trial Opens for Men Accused of Funneling Millions to Back Hillary Clinton in 2016 Presidential Race
Yahoo News – Josh Gerstein (Politico) | Published: 2/24/2022
Businessperson Rani El-Saadi is on trial, accused of conspiring to illegally donate more than $3 million to back Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race. Prosecutors said digital payments magnate Andy Khawaja supplied the $150,000 that El-Saadi personally donated to attend a Clinton fundraiser in 2016. Khawaja has been in Lithuania fighting extradition to the U.S. for more than two years and was declared a fugitive. “Khawaja wanted very badly to gain power and influence in the U.S.,” prosecutor Michelle Parikh told the jury.
US Lobbying Firms Rush to Cut Ties with Russian Businesses Hit with Sanctions
CNN – Casey Tolan, Curt Devine, and Daniel Medina | Published: 2/26/2022
In the years leading up to Russia’s attack on Ukraine, U.S. lobbyists have raked in millions of dollars from Russian banks and financial firms paying to push their interests in Washington. Now, in the wake of the Russian invasion and new sanctions announced by President Biden, many of those lobbying firms are rushing to cut ties and drop their lucrative contracts. The exodus marks the rupture of a Moscow-to-K-Street conduit that has long employed former federal officials and members of Congress of both parties, experts said.
Canada – Ethics Commissioner Calls for Reform of Alberta Lobbyist Rules
CBC – Paige Parsons | Published: 3/3/2022
The province should create a communication registry for lobbyists to address what she says is a lack of transparency, Alberta’s ethics commissioner says. Marguerite Trussler’s office put forward a number of recommendations for changes to the Alberta Lobbyists Act as part of a review of the legislation currently underway. The law must be reviewed every five years, and a committee is expected to submit a report with its recommendations to the Legislature by September.
From the States and Municipalities
California – Mayor’s Top Aide Held Private Call with Ash Street Defendant, Lobbyist Before Tuesday Council Meeting
San Diego Union Tribune – Jeff McDonald | Published: 2/27/2022
One day before the San Diego City Council met to discuss the lawsuits over a controversial lease, Mayor Todd Gloria’s chief operating officer, Jay Goldstone, spoke privately with the principal owner of a development firm that is being by the city and his lobbyist. Jay Goldstone testified at his deposition he reached out to lobbyist Christopher Wahl days ahead of a city council meeting. Wahl set up the conference call between Goldstone, himself, and his client, Cisterra Development majority owner Steven Black. A mayoral spokesperson did not say why no lawyers participated in the meeting or why the other defendants were not involved.
Colorado – Envelope with Checks Found in Colorado Capitol Bathroom Creates Sticky Situation
Colorado Politics – Marianne Goodland | Published: 2/24/2022
A Colorado House staffer went into the men’s public bathroom in the basement of the Capitol and found an envelope. Inside were checks, made out to the Senate Majority Fund, the independent expenditure committee that helps to finance Republican campaigns for the state Senate. How many checks were in the envelope and how much total are not known, although a source mentioned they are in the five figures.
Connecticut – Upstairs, Downstairs: In CT Capitol, Senate is off limits, House is open
CTMirror.org – Mark Pazniokas | Published: 3/2/2022
The House and Senate Democratic majorities in Connecticut diverged sharply and awkwardly on questions of COVID-19 and public access to a state Capitol that has been largely closed for nearly two years. The second floor of the Capitol, where the House resides, was open and its hallways lined by lobbyists, representatives of unions and non-profits, and one woman handing out flyers opposed to legalizing assisted suicide. The third-floor home of the Senate was closed.
Florida – Bill Banning Lobbying for Ex-Lawmakers Heads to Gov. DeSantis’ Desk
Florida Politics – Gary Rohrer | Published: 2/25/2022
Former lawmakers who lobby their ex-colleagues in the Florida Legislature or executive branch could face a fine and other sanctions starting next year, after the Senate unanimously passed House Bill 7001, sending it to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk. Under the bill, a lawmaker who receives compensation for lobbying at the state level within six years after leaving office could be subject to a public censure, a civil fine of up to $10,000, the forfeiture of any money received to lobby, or all three.
Florida – They Threw a $74,000 Goodbye Party for a County Official. Lobbyists Pitched In. How Did That Help the Public?
MSN – Lisa Huriash (South Florida Sun Sentinel) | Published: 2/25/2022
Broward County lobbyists, politicians, and county officials were on the guest list for a surprise celebration at the FLA Live Arena in February. Now the event, marking the retirement of Broward County Administrator Bertha Henry, is facing scrutiny over whether it created the appearance of melding the county’s interests with those of lobbyists and private financial interests. Some of the funding for the event came from the Florida Panthers, the hockey team that has historically come before the county ask for public subsidies to stay afloat, and its top two people were on the guest list.
Illinois – Ex-House Speaker Michael Madigan, Long the State’s Most Powerful Pol, Indicted on Federal Racketeering Charges
Yahoo – Jason Meisner and Ray Long (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 3/2/2022
Michael Madigan, the former speaker of the Illinois House and for decades one of the nation’s most powerful legislators, was charged in a racketeering and bribery scheme, becoming the most prominent politician swept up in a federal investigation of government corruption in the state. The 22-count indictment comes after a yearslong probe and alleges Madigan participated in an array of bribery and extortion schemes from aimed at using the power of his office for personal gain. He was dethroned as speaker in 2021 as the investigation swirled around him, and soon after resigned the House seat he had held since 1971.
Illinois – Investigation of AT&T Contracts in Probe Orbiting Michael Madigan Centers on Funds to Lobbyists and Former State Rep, Sources Say
MSN – Jason Meisner and Ray Long (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 3/2/2022
Consulting funds flowing from AT&T to a lobbyist with deep ties to then-Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and eventually to a former state representative are at the center of a federal investigation into the company’s lobbying practices in Springfield. AT&T disclosed that federal prosecutors notified it they were considering filing criminal charges against its Illinois subsidiary involving “a single, nine-month consulting contract in 2017? worth $22,500. Records show the company that year had hired a stable of Madigan-connected lobbyists working for the subsidiary as AT&T was fighting for a controversial bill to end landline service.
Kansas – Kansas Lawmakers Are Supposed to Vet Bills in Committees. But Are Their Hearings Fair?
MSN – Jonathan Shorman and Katie Bernard (Kansas City Star) | Published: 3/1/2022
Lawmakers and lobbyists in Kansas say some legislative committees either limit public comment or tip the scales in the favor of bills supported by the Republican majority. In theory, the Legislature’s 48 committees are supposed to serve as a first check on bills, allowing lawmakers to vet them before they are sent to the floor. But in practice, Republican chairs are able to determine what voices are heard, what bills move forward, and even push policy pieces without a public hearing. Some Democrats and lobbyists complain these practices allow Republicans to paint a false picture of public opinion and stifle debate when convenient.
Maine – Subpoenas Will Ramp Up Maine Investigation into National Conservative Group
Bangor Daily News – Caitlin Andrews | Published: 2/28/2022
The Maine ethics commission voted to allow staff to subpoena the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to require them to turn over documents to determine if it violated state contribution laws by allowing lawmakers to use software that contains voter information and is used to track constituent interactions. ALEC has refused to participate in the probe, saying it believes it is illegitimate. The move is expected to lead to months of litigation over the subpoenas.
Massachusetts – Are Campaign Donations to MA Sheriffs Too Suggestive of Pay-to-Play? CT May Have Solution
Herald News – Kyle Stucker (USA Today) | Published: 2/25/2022
A report revealed Massachusetts sheriffs received $2.69 million in questionable donations during their campaigns, calling into question whether construction firms, medical companies, and other special interests are buying influence. Sheriffs deny being involved in “pay-to-play” schemes. Even if wealthy special interests are not buying policies that pad their coffers, the advocacy groups behind the report suggested such campaign donations do not pass the smell test even though they’re legal. The groups believe Massachusetts and other states should adopt Connecticut’s public financing model to improve confidence and fairness in their elections.
Michigan – Term Limits Were Supposed to Fix Lansing. Did They Make It Worse Instead?
MLive.com – Samuel Robinson | Published: 3/2/2022
Thirty years have passed since Michigan voters approved limits to the number of years politicians can serve to six (three terms) in the House and eight (two terms) in the Senate. While the change ushered out veteran lawmakers, many still wonder whether that was a good thing. Michigan’s strictest-in-the-nation term limits have drawn a backlash so strong a bipartisan group is now aiming to loosen rules by putting the question back on the ballot. Critics argue that setting strict limits on how long politicians can serve has splintered relationships at the Capitol and reduced bipartisanship to a point where it is hurting constituents.
Missouri – Independence Mayor Asked About Campaign Donations in Deposition, but Advised to Stay Mum
MSN – Kevin Hardy (Kansas City Star) | Published: 3/2/2022
Independence Mayor Eileen Weir was asked in a deposition last year about campaign contributions she received from a Missouri company looking to do business with the city. The donations have raised questions among other city council members and drew the interest of the FBI. But a transcript of that deposition shows she mostly avoided the topic after her personal attorney objected to the line of questioning and advised her not to answer questions about the contributions. The mayor was questioned under oath as part of a defamation lawsuit against the city and two council members.
Nevada – Social Video Shows ‘Racist’ Taunts of Nevada Governor, Wife
MSN – Ken Ritter (Associated Press) | Published: 2/28/2022
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, and his wife were accosted during the weekend by two men who followed them out of a Las Vegas restaurant shouting profanities, taunts, and anti-government statements in an incident posted on the Internet. Sisolak characterized the incident as “racist threats.” His wife is a former municipal finance specialist of Chinese heritage who was born in the Nevada town of Ely. The incident now is being investigated by state police.
New Jersey – 2 Counties Tried to Skirt N.J. Public Bidding Laws. Now the Legislature May Make It Legal.
MSN – Ted Sherman (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 3/2/2022
Efforts by two counties to evade New Jersey’s bidding laws on projects involving tens of millions of dollars in public funding are now the focus of a bill introduced in the state Senate that would make legal what the courts have so far declared to be illegal. The legislation would clear the way for county improvement authorities to essentially award no-bid deals to favored contractors. Under the measure, counties would be able to ignore the bidding requirements of New Jersey’s Local Public Contracts Law by declaring any major construction proposal a “redevelopment project.”
New York – Lt. Gov.’s Campaign Expenses Show Conflicts with Taxpayer Refunds
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 2/28/2022
The Albany Times Union found a dozen instances where Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin submitted vouchers claiming the full, taxpayer-funded reimbursement for traveling from New York City to Albany; during those same trips, a campaign-issued debit card was used to pay for gasoline. Each time he had sought full taxpayer reimbursement for the 12 trips, Benjamin stated he was the one bearing the costs. Albany politicians collecting taxpayer-funded reimbursement for costs already covered by their campaigns has at times proven controversial and was the subject of the 2006 trial of former Assemblyperson Clarence Norman.
New York – ‘Malicious Cyberattack’ Strikes New York Ethics Agency
Albany Times Union – Brendan Lyons | Published: 2/25/2022
The New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) shut down its online filing system as authorities investigate a “deliberate malicious cyberattack.” JCOPE said the attack involved a web server that houses, among other systems, the agency’s lobbying application and financial disclosure filing systems.
Ohio – Ohio House Won’t Release Texts Between House Rep and Indicted Ex-Speaker
WEWS – Jake Zuckerman (Ohio Capital Journal) | Published: 3/2/2022
Lawyers with the Ohio House denied a public records requests for text messages between a sitting lawmaker and former Speaker Larry Householder, who was expelled by his peers while under a racketeering indictment related to alleged public corruption. State Rep. Jay Edwards and Householder regularly exchange text messages and talk on the phone. Edwards said they always avoid discussing the criminal case against Householder and usually, but not always, avoid public policy discussions as well. Edwards says the messages do not exist because “… I go through at night and erase text messages I don’t find useful.”
Ohio – Ohio Judge Helped Write a Bailout That Led to Arrests; Now He’s Blocking Outside Probes
WEWS – Jake Zuckerman (Ohio Capital Journal) | Published: 2/28/2022
A judge who oversees utility cases was involved in writing a coal and nuclear bailout now at the center of what prosecutors have described as the largest public corruption case in Ohio history, subpoenaed documents show. That same judge, Greg Price, is presiding over multiple regulatory cases in which a government watchdog agency is trying to investigate that same corruption. His orders, spanning 18 months, have blocked investigations into FirstEnergy, a utility at the center of the scandal.
Oklahoma – Claiming Out-of-State Influences, Oklahoma Looks to Clamp Down on State Question Laws
Oklahoma Watch – Trevor Brown | Published: 2/28/2022
Several Oklahoma lawmakers are looking to add hurdles for citizen-led groups to pass the type of state questions that legalized medical marijuana, expanded Medicaid, and won voter support despite Republican leaders’ opposition in recent years. More than a dozen bills up for consideration, all authored by GOP legislators, seek to either requirements for citizen-led voter initiatives to get on the ballot or increase the threshold for some of the proposals to pass on Election Day.
Oregon – Oregon Labor, Business Interest Groups File Challenges to Campaign Contribution Limit Proposals
Spokane Spokesman-Review – Hillary Borrud (Portland Oregonian) | Published: 2/25/2022
Oregon business and labor groups filed challenges to three proposed ballot measures that would set campaign contribution limits in the state. The challenges were anticipated by supporters but nonetheless increase the likelihood that voters will not get to weigh in on political donation limits. Secretary of State Shemia Fagan disqualified the proposed measures because she said they should have included the entire texts of laws they would amend, including sections that would be left unchanged. Fagan based her decision on a 2004 Oregon Court of Appeals ruling that previous secretaries of state generally did not follow.
Pennsylvania – Activists Disrupt House GOP Leader’s Speech Demanding Action on Gift Ban Legislation
PennLive.com – Jan Murphy | Published: 2/28/2022
Activists seeking passage of legislation to ban gifts to lawmakers disrupted the Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon to pressure House leadership to act on the bill. Reid Stever, a representative of MarchOnHarrisburg, interrupted House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff’s speech to press for a vote on House Bill 1945, which makes it illegal for lawmakers to accept a gift from a lobbyist. It won House State Government Committee approval last March but has yet to be brought up for a vote by the full chamber.
Pennsylvania – Pennsylvania GOP Urges Supreme Court to Toss Congressional Map
MSN – Michael Macagnone (Roll Call) | Published: 2/28/2022
Pennsylvania Republicans asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a state court-approved congressional map, arguing the Democrat-controlled court exceeded its authority by imposing the map without the Legislature’s approval. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court selected the map after the politically divided state government failed to approve one. The appeal argued the state court’s selection of one of the plaintiffs’ maps targeted Republicans and violated the Constitution by having congressional districts that deviated in population by two or more people.
Tennessee – Former Tennessee Speaker Casada Aide Cothren Refuses to Testify in State Campaign Finance Probe
Yahoo News – Andy Sher (Chattanooga Times Fress Press) | Published: 3/2/2022
Cade Cothren, the former chief of staff to then-Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada, invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and did not appear before the Registry of Election Finance regarding his alleged involvement as the head of a PAC that attacked a Casada critic. The registry voted to issue subpoenas for information related to the Faith Family Freedom Fund PAC to Cothren, Casada, and several others who may have had knowledge of the committee.
Texas – Dallas Hires Former Texas Health Inspector General to Investigate City Corruption Claims
Dallas Morning News – Everton Bailey Jr. | Published: 2/23/2022
Dallas hired a former state health inspector general to lead a new office in charge of investigating allegations of waste, abuse, and fraud. Bart Bevers was chosen as the city’s first inspector general, a position created in December when city officials made several changes to ethics rules to strengthen transparency and accountability. Several scandals involving Dallas officials have resulted in convictions on corruption-related charges.
Texas – Rejected Mail Ballots, Confused Voters: Texas’s restrictive new law casts shadow over primary
MSN – Amy Gardner (Washington Post) | Published: 3/1/2022
Democrats and voting rights advocates predicted for months that new election rules in Texas, referred to as Senate Bill 1 in the state, would make it harder for some people to vote and for election officials to do their jobs. The March 1 primary made clear to critics that those predictions, so far, have come true, providing a glimpse of what voting could look like in more than a dozen states that enacted similarly restrictive laws in the aftermath of the 2020 contest.
Utah – Utah Lawmakers Pass New Media Restrictions for House Floor
MSN – Sam Metz (Associated Press) | Published: 3/1/2022
The Utah House approved new rules that limit where members of the press can film and interview lawmakers, following similar action taken by the state Senate. The rules extend pandemic-era restrictions on when journalists can report from the floors of the legislative chambers. Media organizations and journalists oppose the rules changes, arguing that restricting media movements would make it more difficult to cover fast-paced action and make it easier for lawmakers to dodge the press. They said the move reduced transparency.
Virginia – Virginia Lawmakers Still Can’t Bring Themselves to Ban Personal Use of Campaign Cash
Virginia Mercury – Graham Moomaw | Published: 3/2/2022
After years of debate and multiple studies, Virginia lawmakers still are not ready to pass a law preventing themselves from using campaign money on personal expenses that have nothing to do with running for office. The last remaining bill prohibiting personal use of campaign funds died in a House subcommittee, with several legislators framing the issue as too complex to tackle even though the practice is already outlawed at the federal level and in most states. Republicans on the panel defeated the version of the bill that had passed the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support.
Wisconsin – Wisconsin GOP’s 2020 Report Embraces Fringe Election Decertification Theory
Yahoo News – Zach Montellaro (Politico) | Published: 3/1/2022
A draft report for a Republican-run investigation of the 2020 election in Wisconsin, embraces the fringe theory that election results could be decertified after the fact – advancing former President Trump’s calls to overturn an election he lost over a year ago. Former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman has been conducting a probe of the 2020 election, authorized by state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. Gableman’s interim report attacks Wisconsin election administrators and argues for dismantling the state’s election board.
Wisconsin – Wisconsin Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Regulator Bias Case Spawned by Power Line
Madison.com – Chris Hubbuch (Wisconsin State Journal) | Published: 2/28/2022
The Wisconsin Supreme Court heard arguments in a case stemming from a power line dispute that could have sweeping implications for regulators, judges, and other public officials. The court is being asked to decide if a former utility regulator’s personal relationships could invalidate the permit for a controversial power line being built in the state. Opponents of the line sought to question former Public Service Commissioner Mike Huebsch about communications, some using an encrypted messaging app, with utility lobbyists and his eventual attempt to land a job with one of the utilities behind the project.
March 3, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “‘My Life Was a Constant Lie’: Chabot’s ex-campaign manager sentenced for $1.4 million theft” by Kevin Grasha (Cincinnati Enquirer) for MSN Virginia: “Virginia Lawmakers Still Can’t Bring Themselves to Ban Personal Use of Campaign Cash” by Graham […]
National: “‘My Life Was a Constant Lie’: Chabot’s ex-campaign manager sentenced for $1.4 million theft” by Kevin Grasha (Cincinnati Enquirer) for MSN
Virginia: “Virginia Lawmakers Still Can’t Bring Themselves to Ban Personal Use of Campaign Cash” by Graham Moomaw for Virginia Mercury
Texas: “Rejected Mail Ballots, Confused Voters: Texas’s restrictive new law casts shadow over primary” by Amy Gardner (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Some Records Taken by Trump Are So Sensitive They May Not Be Described in Public” by Jacqueline Alemany and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) for MSN
Illinois: “Illinois’ Ex-House Speaker Charged with Racketeering” by Michael Tarm and John O’Connor (Associated Press) for MSN
Missouri: “Independence Mayor Asked About Campaign Donations in Deposition, but Advised to Stay Mum” by Kevin Hardy (Kansas City Star) for MSN
Ohio: “Ohio House Won’t Release Texts Between House Rep and Indicted Ex-Speaker” by Jake Zuckerman (Ohio Capital Journal) for WEWS
Michigan: “Term Limits Were Supposed to Fix Lansing. Did They Make It Worse Instead?” by Samuel Robinson for MLive.com
Utah: “Utah Lawmakers Pass New Media Restrictions for House Floor” by Sam Metz (Associated Press) for MSN
New Jersey: “2 Counties Tried to Skirt N.J. Public Bidding Laws. Now the Legislature May Make It Legal.” by Ted Sherman (NJ Advance Media) for MSN
February 18, 2022 •
National/Federal Arizona GOP Rep. David Schweikert Fined $125,000 by Federal Election Commission for Repeated Campaign Finance Law Violations MSN – Bryan Metzger (Business Insider) | Published: 2/11/2022 U.S. Rep. David Schweikert agreed to pay a $125,000 fine related to repeated campaign […]
Arizona GOP Rep. David Schweikert Fined $125,000 by Federal Election Commission for Repeated Campaign Finance Law Violations
MSN – Bryan Metzger (Business Insider) | Published: 2/11/2022
U.S. Rep. David Schweikert agreed to pay a $125,000 fine related to repeated campaign finance violations he committed between 2010 and 2017. The FEC found Schweikert “knowingly and willfully” misreported who and for what his official funds were used and misused campaign funds for personal affairs. In July 2020, Schweikart was fined $50, 000 by the House ethics committee for the same set of violations. He admitted to 11 different violations of House rules, leading to a formal reprimand.
Biden Orders Release of Trump White House Logs to Congress
Yahoo News – Colleen Long (Associated Press) | Published: 2/16/2022
President Biden is ordering the release of White House visitor logs under Donald Trump to the House committee investigating the riot of Jan. 6, 2021, once more rejecting Trump’s claims of executive privilege. The committee has sought a trove of data from the National Archives, including presidential records that Trump had fought to keep private. The records being released to Congress are visitor logs showing appointment information for individuals who were allowed to enter the White House on the day of the insurrection.
Democrats Push a Matchmaking Service for Tech Workers and Campaigns
NBC News – Alex Seitz-Ward | Published: 2/14/2022
Political campaigns have increasingly become exercises in data management as campaigns try to identify, connect with, and track thousands of voters and volunteers, all while keeping their systems secure from hackers. But the professional networks of tech and campaigns do not often intersect, making it hard for people in either to find one another. Tech skills are some of the most in-demand, and therefore expensive, in the job market. LinkedIn co-founder and liberal donor Allen Blue created DigiDems in 2018 to try to fix that and expand the Democratic Party’s talent pool by recruiting Silicon Valley veterans.
Election Experts Sound Alarms as Costs Escalate and Funding Dwindles
MSN – Mike DeBonis and Amy Gardner (Washington Post) | Published: 2/16/2022
When a global pandemic threatened to throw the 2020 presidential election into chaos, hundreds of millions of dollars flowed to state and local election agencies to ensure they had the resources to conduct a fair and accessible election. Now that money is gone and while the pandemic has ebbed it has not disappeared, and new challenges have arisen, including rising security threats, supply-chain disruptions, and escalating costs for basic materials such as paper ballots. Election officials and voting experts are warning as the midterm elections get underway that new funding is needed to avoid significant problems in November.
Inside the Totally Legal, Fairly Macabre, Classically Political World of the True Zombie PACs
Politico – Hailey Fuchs | Published: 2/11/2022
An investigation found accounts associated with eight late politicians that still have money in the bank, some with hundreds of thousands of dollars, or debts that, according to FEC records, remain unpaid. These zombie PACs and campaign committees have been paying for such things as communications consulting, campaign contributions, car rentals, or fees for former associates. All of it is legal. The ability of the committees of dead politicians to continue paying out money highlights how donations from political supporters can find their way to entities, causes, and individuals far removed from the candidate’s election.
Jan. 6 Panel Targets Key Players in False Trump Elector Strategy
MSN – Nicholas Wu, Kyle Cheney, and Betsy Woodruff Swan (Politico) | Published: 2/15/2022
The House select committee investigating the U.S. Capitol riot targeted two state lawmakers who were instrumental in pushing Donald Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election, as it dives deeper on Republican efforts to send false presidential electors to Washington. The committee subpoenaed Pennsylvania Sen. Doug Mastriano and Arizona Rep. Mark Finchem. Both played key roles and earned Trump’s praise for pressing their colleagues to ratify alternate slates of electors in 2020, which would have thrown out millions of votes in their states.
‘Larry and I Will Always Be Together’: Joe Manchin’s closest political ally cashes in on senator’s rise
MSN – Theodoric Meyer and Jeff Stein (Washington Post) | Published: 2/14/2022
Larry Puccio spent nearly a decade as U.S. Sen. Manchin’s right-hand man, running his campaigns for secretary of state and governor in West Virginia and serving as chief of staff in both offices. Manchin is now the Senate’s swing vote and one of the most powerful people in Washington. A month after Democrats reclaimed the Senate, turning the ability to sway Manchin into a sought-after skill, Puccio registered for the first time as a federal lobbyist. He and a partner have lobbied the Senate almost exclusively, collecting more than $310,000 in addition to his earnings from his state-level lobbying business in West Virginia.
Opposition Research Goes Hyperlocal
New York Times – Reid Epstein | Published: 2/15/2022
Across the United States, there are tens of thousands of state, county, and local officials who will set and enforce the rules on voting, then go about counting and reporting the votes in the elections to come. To the alarm of independent experts, allies of Donald Trump have been targeting these once-anonymous offices, seeking to fill them with hard-core partisans all the way down to the level of precinct captain. Now, the Democratic organization American Bridge, known primarily for its opposition research into Republicans, launched what it says is a $10 million campaign to influence the races for election administration in a dozen key states.
Sarah Palin Loses Jury Trial in Closely Watched New York Times Libel Case
MSN – Elahe Izadi and Sarah Ellison (Washington Post) | Published: 2/15/2022
A jury concluded the New York Times did not libel Sarah Palin in a faulty 2017 editorial, echoing a decision by the judge, who a day earlier said he would dismiss her case regardless of the decision. The jury decision conformed with that of U.S. District Court Judge Jed Rakoff, who said – while the jury was still deliberating and unaware of his comments – that the former Alaska governor had not demonstrated the newspaper acted with “actual malice,” the high legal standard that public figures must demonstrate to claim libel.
Selling Trump: A profitable post-presidency like no other
Yahoo News – Shane Goldmacher and Eric Lipton (New York Times) | Published: 2/12/2022
In the year since Donald Trump left the White House, he has undertaken a wide-ranging set of moneymaking ventures, trading repeatedly on his political fame and fan base in pursuit of profit. Much as he did while in the White House, Trump has blurred the lines between his political ambitions and his business interests. Other past presidents have cashed in financially after leaving the White House. But no former president has been more determined to meld his business interests with a continuing political operation and capitalize on that for personal gain.
These Companies Stopped Campaign Donations to Election Objectors. Their Lobbyists Did Not.
MSN – Emily Birnbaum, Megan Wilson, and Hailey Fuchs (Politico) | Published: 2/15/2022
Throughout 2021, in-house government affairs staff for at least 13 companies gave personal donations to Republicans who objected to the presidential election results. The under-the-radar donations meant that even as the companies stuck to their pledges not to give to the147 Republicans who objected to certifying the election on January 6, 2021, their lobbyists ingratiated themselves with the GOP lawmakers, some of whom are expected to take leadership roles in the House if Republicans take back control in the midterm elections.
Three Hawaii Defense Contractors Charged with Illegal Donations to Sen. Susan Collins
MSN – Spencer Hsu and Emily Davies (Washington Post) | Published: 2/10/2022
Three former executives of a U.S. defense contractor in Hawaii were indicted on federal charges of making unlawful campaign contributions to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and a PAC that supported her. Martin Kao, Clifford Chen, and Lawrence Lum Kee were formerly the chief executive, chief financial officer, and accountant, respectively, for a defense contractor prohibited under federal law from making contributions in federal elections. The company was Martin Defense Group, formerly known as Navatek, the company confirmed.
Trump’s Longtime Accountant Says His Financial Statements Cannot Be Relied Upon
MSN – Jonathan O’Connell and Shayna Jacobs (Washington Post) | Published: 2/14/2022
Former President Trump’s accounting firm informed his company that a decade’s worth of Trump’s financial statements “should no longer be relied upon” and suggested any recipient of the documents be alerted. Mazars helped Trump prepare and which have come under scrutiny recently by New York Attorney General Letitia James. She has alleged in civil filings that Trump used the statements to inflate the value of his properties misstated his personal worth in representations to lenders.
Canada – Emergency Law Invoked as Canadians Mull Identity
Yahoo News – Catherine Porter (New York Times) | Published: 2/14/2022
If the outside world is baffled by the scenes unfolding in the streets of Canada as giant trucks stake out ground in the normally placid capital of Ottawa, so are many Canadians. The chaos of recent weeks has left many wondering if Canada is witnessing the birth of a political alt-right, or if it is a pandemic-induced tantrum that, once exhausted, will leave behind a country bewildered but essentially unchanged. It could also be, some argue, that the so-called freedom convoy is not an aberration at all but a mirror to an integral part of the country.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – Republicans Look to Curb Lobbying Activities by Cities, Counties, School Districts
Arizona Mirror – Jeremy Duda | Published: 2/15/2022
Because cities and counties often oppose legislation they propose, Republican lawmakers are looking to ban them from hiring the contract lobbyists who fight those bills at the Arizona Capitol. On a party-line vote, the Senate Government Committee approved Senate Bill 1198, which prohibits cities, towns, counties, school districts, and other political subdivisions of the state from hiring outside lobbyists. Any organization whose membership is primarily composed of public bodies would be barred from using any of the money they get from membership dues for lobbying.
Connecticut – Top Connecticut Prosecutor to Retire, Not Face Firing, Amid Ethics Probe
Yahoo News – Dave Collins (Associated Press) | Published: 2/10/2022
Embattled Chief State’s Attorney Richard Colangelo Jr. agreed to resign amid mounting pressure over an alleged patronage hiring. Colangelo had been under fire for his decision to hire the daughter of a state budget officer from whom he was seeking raises for himself and other senior employees. U.S. Attorney Stanley Twardy Jr., hired by Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont to investigate that decision, had released a report questioning Colangelo’s credibility.
Florida – Gov. Ron DeSantis Scrambles Florida’s Redistricting Debate, with an Eye to 2022 and Perhaps 2024 Elections
MSN – Colby Itkowitz, Lori Rozsa, and Michael Scherer (Washington Post) | Published: 2/11/2022
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has cast himself as the nation’s boldest conservative Republican leader, his eye on a 2022 reelection campaign and a potential presidential run two years later. It nonetheless shocked even fellow Florida Republicans when DeSantis incited a redistricting battle with his own party, roping the state’s two legislative chambers into the fray and asking the state’s highest court to pick sides. Days before the state Senate was to vote on new congressional district lines in January, DeSantis presented a dramatically more partisan map that boosted Republican seats and eliminated a district where a plurality of voters are Black.
Florida – Rep. Carlos Gimenez’s Son Arrested for Slapping Miami Commissioner in Steakhouse, Police Say
MSN – Charles Rabin, Douglas Hanks, and Linda Robertson (Miami Herald) | Published: 2/11/2022
The son of U.S. Rep. Carlos Gimenez was arrested after police say he slapped a Miami city commissioner earlier in the day at a Morton’s Steakhouse. What triggered the spat, the latest episode in the long-running soap opera of Miami politics, was not immediately clear. But the two men involved, Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla and Carlos Gimenez, a lawyer and lobbyist, are members of powerful political families with ties going back more than a decade.
Florida – To Be Continued: Proposed lobbying, ethics laws to come back to city commission
Yahoo News – Jeff Burlew (Tallahassee Democrat) | Published: 2/16/2022
Recommendations from the Tallahassee Independent Ethics Board to beef up lobbying restrictions and close loopholes allowing unregistered lobbyists to operate without consequence will come back to city commissioners for more discussion during their March meeting. The recommendations include expanding the ethics board’s jurisdiction to include lobbyists appearing before the city, revising the definition of a lobbyist to clear up ambiguity, and requiring lobbyists to maintain contact logs with government officials that would become public record in three days.
Georgia – Stacey Abrams, David Perdue Call Foul on GOP Proposal to Ban Fundraising While Georgia Legislature Is in Session
MSN – Vanessa Williams (Washington Post) | Published: 2/15/2022
Both the Democrat and Republican seeking to oust Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp are calling foul on a proposal by Republican lawmakers that would prohibit fundraising while the state Legislature is in session. Lawmakers say the measure is fair given that current officeholders are prohibited from raising money during the legislative session, but Democrat Stacey Abrams and former U.S, Sen. David Perdue, who is challenging Kemp in the GOP primary, say the proposal unfairly targets their campaigns and gives Kemp an unfair advantage.
Hawaii – Bill Would Ban Hawaii Film Officials from Appearing in Films
Honolulu Civil Beat – Stewart Yerton | Published: 2/16/2022
A Hawaii lawmaker is trying to crack down on what he says was improper behavior by the Maui County film commissioner, Tracy Quinlan, who accepted a substantial part in a television movie being shot on the island, despite the commissioner’s involvement facilitating the industry. Rep. Sean Quinlan’s bill would prohibit movie and television producers, at least those getting cash incentives from the government, from hiring state and county employees “whose official capacity is related to motion picture, digital media, or film production.”
Hawaii – Ex-Hawaii Lawmakers Plead Guilty to Taking Bribes in Office
MSN – Jennifer Sinco Kellehe (Associated Press) | Published: 2/15/2022
Two former Hawaii lawmakers face 20-year prison sentences after pleading guilty to taking bribes in exchange for shaping legislation that would benefit a company involved with publicly financed cesspool conversion projects. As part of agreements to plead guilty to honest services wire fraud, former Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English agreed to forfeit about $15,000 and Former Rep. Ty Cullen agreed to forfeit $23,000, representing the amounts of cash they received. English, who retired from his position last May, told the judge he believed the legislation he was shaping would be beneficial to state residents and the business owner.
Illinois – Senate Approves New Ethics Watchdog Over Objections of Ethics Commission Chair
Yahoo News – Andrew Adams (State Journal-Register) | Published: 2/17/2022
The Illinois Senate approved former federal judge Michael McCuskey to fill the role of legislative inspector general. Controversy has swirled the inspector general selection since the last person in the position, Carol Pope, announced her resignation citing a lack of authority to do the job. The legislative inspector general investigates allegations of corruption, sexual misconduct, and other ethical breaches among members of the General Assembly and state employees in the legislative branch. The resolution now goes to the House.
Kentucky – City Would Register Metro Council Lobbyists Under New Ordinance
WDRB – Marcus Green | Published: 2/14/2022
A proposed city ordinance would require people and organizations that lobby metro council members and other top Louisville officials to register and publicly list the issues they seek to influence. It defines a lobbyist as anyone who is “engaged” to influence decisions of city agencies or to shape nearly all aspects of legislation, from passage to defeat, through communications with elected leaders or their staffs. Councilperson Bill Hollander said the bill is not in direct response to the role developers allegedly played in influencing council member Brent Ackerson in a zoning case that is being challenged in court.
Massachusetts – Michelle Wu Has Raised Over $1 Million for Her Inaugural Festivities, Most of It from Boston’s Power Brokers
MSN – Emma Platoff (Boston Globe) | Published: 2/14/2022
Mayor Michelle Wu has raised more than $1 million for her inaugural festivities, the bulk of it from Boston’s traditional power brokers, including big business, lobbyists, and real estate developers with projects before the city. With ambitions to transform the city, Wu has made it clear she intends to be a different kind of mayor. But her inaugural fund, while more modest than her predecessor’s, places her squarely within an age-old political tradition: tapping the wealthy and powerful to fund festivities where top donors gain access to the city’s new leader.
Michigan – Michigan State Police Raid Home of Ex-Speaker Chatfield’s Top Staffers
Detroit News – Craig Mauger and Beth LeBlanc | Published: 2/15/2022
Michigan State Police troopers searched the home of former House Speaker Lee Chatfield’s top political and legislative staffers, a move one legal expert said would indicate authorities demonstrated there was probable cause a crime was committed. In January, Chatfield’s sister-in-law, Rebekah Chatfield, accused the former speaker of sexually abusing her beginning when she was 15 years old. Political accounts tied to Chatfield directed at least $900,000 in campaign and nonprofit funds to family members, legislative staff, and organizations they led for wages and consulting fees, according to a Detroit News investigation.
New Jersey – Court Halts Union County Government Project, Ruling No-Bid $123.8M Contract Violated N.J. Law
MSN – Ted Sherman (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 2/15/2022
Union County’s $123.8 million government complex that opponents claimed had illegally skirted New Jersey’s public bidding laws was halted by a state appeals court, which said the next phase of the project had to be publicly bid. Dobco, a construction and development company vying for the Union County project, filed lawsuits after the firm was passed over for consideration before the contracts were awarded. Lawyers for Dobco charged the county illegally circumvented state statutes by using their respective improvement authorities to get around New Jersey’s Local Public Contracts Law.
New Mexico – Lobbyist Money Hidden in New Mexico Politics
Capital & Main – Jerry Redfern | Published: 2/14/2022
Legislation proposed by state Sen. Jeff Steinborn would require greater disclosures from lobbyists about their expenditures, and by extension their influence on the bills that become law and those that languish. When trying to figure out whose money is backing what bill, Steinborn says the current lax lobbying laws force legislators to become detectives if they want to find out more about who is behind the bills they’re voting on. A recent ad campaign by the state’s largest oil and gas lobbying group is an inadvertent example of what is not known about money and speech in the state.
Ohio – FirstEnergy Pushed for ‘Cooperative’ Utility Regulator; DeWine Heeded Its Pick
Ohio Capital Journal – Jake Zuckerman | Published: 2/16/2022
FirstEnergy executives and two politicians who the company admitted to bribing unified behind renominating a “very cooperative” incumbent to serve on a regulatory panel. A court filing does not identify the commissioner but refers to an “incumbent” and then-current “PUCO official.” Commissioner Lawrence Friedeman was the only of five incumbents at the time who applied for a seat. He was reappointed by Gov. Mike DeWine to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. The apparent connection between the corruption probe and Friedeman suggests FirstEnergy played some additional role in controlling who would sit on the board that regulates it.
Ohio – For the First time, Cincinnati Council and Mayor Have a Code of Conduct They Must Abide By
WVXU – Becca Costello | Published: 2/16/2022
The Cincinnati City Council approved the first ever code of conduct for council members and their staff. The new rules are part of a series of reforms that stemmed from three council member arrests on federal corruption charges in 2020. All council members and their staff must sign a copy of the code. Future council members and staff will have to sign the document within 45 days of taking office or starting the job. Council could censure a member for violating the code of conduct with a majority vote.
Ohio – Mayor Resigns After Saying Ice-Fishing Shanties Could Lead to Prostitution
MSN – Andrea Salcedo and Hannah Knowles (Washington Post) | Published: 2/15/2022
A debate about a local ban on ice fishing took a viral turn when an Ohio mayor wondered about long-term consequences. Opening Hudson Springs Lake to ice fishing sounds good “on the surface,” Hudson Mayor Craig Shubert said at a recent council meeting, but what if people wanted to fish out of shanties? “Then that leads to another problem: prostitution,” he said. Online derision followed. So did criticism from colleagues. Hudson City Councilperson Nicole Kowalski said people were upset that Shubert “continually embarrasses our town with wild claims.” Shubert resigned on February 14.
Ohio – Shareholders, on Behalf of FirstEnergy Corp., Settle for $180 Million Over House Bill 6 Allegations
MSN – John Caniglia (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 2/10/2022
Shareholders, acting on behalf of FirstEnergy, have agreed to a $180 million settlement with a group of top officials who ran the company during the House Bill 6 scandal. The investors accused the utility’s leaders, including current and former board members and executives, in derivative lawsuits in federal court. The claims sought to make the corporation whole from what authorities called the largest bribery scheme in Ohio history. The settlement calls for FirstEnergy to adopt reforms involving its political spending and lobbying. In a key development, the company will provide greater disclosures of its political activities to shareholders.
Oklahoma – How A State Lawmaker’s Day Job Tiptoed into Lobbying
Oklahoma Watch – Jennifer Palmer | Published: 2/15/2022
Oklahoma Rep. Toni Hasenbeck voted for and often co-authored legislation expanding school choice in 2021, earning her a grade of “A+” in the grassroots lobbying group ChoiceMatters’ ranking of lawmakers. That group’s parent organization hired Hasenbeck for a paid position where she spent some of her time teaching parents how to advocate for school choice, including at the Legislature. ChoiceMatters regularly emails its members with messages to support legislation by contacting their representatives. Her work exemplifies the potential conflict-of-interest that legislators’ day jobs can have on the job voters entrust them with, experts said.
Oregon – Rejected Campaign Finance Ideas Could Have New Life in Oregon Senate Bill
OPB – Dirk VanderHart | Published: 2/10/2022
Proposed ballot measures to cap political donations in Oregon face a tough road to the ballot, after Secretary of State Shemia Fagan rejected them on procedural grounds. Now, one prominent state lawmaker says he will push his fellow legislators to put a similar proposal before voters themselves. Senate Majority Leader Rob Wagner unveiled an amendment that cobbles together elements of several now-defunct proposals from good government groups, labor unions, and advocacy organizations.
Tennessee – Special Interests Spend Estimated $60 Million Every Year to Influence Tennessee State Officials
WTVF – Phil Williams | Published: 2/14/2022
Special interests spend an estimated $60 million a year to influence state officials in Tennessee, according to a media investigation. Because entities that hire lobbyists are not required to report the exact amount they spend on lobbying activities, those dollar amounts reflect a best possible estimate. Employers of lobbyists are required to report ranges of spending. The estimates were derived by picking the mid-point of each reporting range. Former lawmaker Martin Daniel said “money buys access to legislators because those lobbyists are frequently in the Cordell Hull building” where legislative offices are located.
Texas – Texas Counties Reject Unprecedented Numbers of Mail Ballots Ahead of March 1 Primary Under Restrictive New Law
MSN – Amy Gardner (Washington Post) | Published: 2/11/2022
A restrictive new voting law in Texas has sown confusion and erected hurdles for those casting ballots in the state’s March 1 primary, with election administrators rejecting early batches of mail ballots at historic rates and voters uncertain about whether they will be able to participate. In recent days, thousands of ballots have been rejected because voters did not meet a new requirement to provide an identification number inside the return envelope. The rejection rates provide an early opportunity to assess the impact of Senate Bill 1, one of dozens of restrictive voting laws enacted by Republicans across the country last year.
Vermont – As Ethics Bill Goes Back to the Drawing Board, Advocates Grow Weary
VTDigger.org – Lola Dufort | Published: 2/15/2022
Lawmakers created Vermont’s first-ever state ethics commission in 2017 after years of public pressure from government transparency groups and the press. But for good government advocates, the resolution was inadequate. The commission had no investigative or enforcement powers and basically nothing to enforce since no single statutory code of ethics covers all three branches of government. Attempts at reform in the past five years have gone nowhere and a new attempt to make progress on the subject this legislative session is on shaky ground.
Virginia – Deputy Va. Attorney General Resigns After Revelation of Facebook Posts Praising Jan. 6 Rioters, Claiming Trump Won Election
MSN – Justin Jouvenal (Washington Post) | Published: 2/10/2022
A top deputy overseeing election issues for Virginia’s new Republican attorney general resigned after The Washington Post questioned the office about Facebook posts she had made praising January 6, 2021, rioters and falsely claiming Donald Trump won the 2020 election. Former Deputy Attorney General Monique Miles also espoused unfounded conspiracy theories about voter fraud and election interference in more than a dozen Facebook comments that spanned months.
Washington – Seattle Mayor’s Phone Was Manually Set to Delete Texts
Governing – Daniel Beekman and Lewis Kamb (Seattle Times) | Published: 2/14/2022
Former Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s text messages from one of the most tumultuous periods in city history vanished because a phone setting likely was manually changed to delete texts automatically, and ex-Police Chief Carmen Best deleted her texts, a forensic analysis has found. The analysis, which tried but failed to recover the texts and investigated what happened to the public records, including messages exchanged during Seattle’s racial justice protests in the summer of 2020, indicated Durkan’s texts were set in July 2020 to delete after 30 days, and that Best’s texts were “periodically deleted.”
Wisconsin – Wisconsin Supreme Court Allows Lower Court’s Ban on the Use of Ballot Drop Boxes for April Election
Yahoo News – Patrick Marley (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) | Published: 2/11/2022
A closely divided Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled it would allow a lower court decision to go into effect that will ban the use of ballot drop boxes for the April election. Drop boxes can still be used for primaries and it is possible the high court will change course and allow them for other elections. While a final decision is yet to come, the ruling suggests the use of ballot drop boxes could soon come to an end in Wisconsin. Drop boxes became popular during elections in 2020 as the coronavirus spread across the state.
February 17, 2022 •
Elections National: “Opposition Research Goes Hyperlocal” by Reid Epstein for New York Times Ethics National: “Sarah Palin Loses Jury Trial in Closely Watched New York Times Libel Case” by Elahe Izadi and Sarah Ellison (Washington Post) for MSN National: “Biden […]
National: “Opposition Research Goes Hyperlocal” by Reid Epstein for New York Times
National: “Sarah Palin Loses Jury Trial in Closely Watched New York Times Libel Case” by Elahe Izadi and Sarah Ellison (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Biden Orders Release of Trump White House Logs to Congress” by Colleen Long (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
Hawaii: “Ex-Hawaii Lawmakers Plead Guilty to Taking Bribes in Office” by Jennifer Sinco Kellehe (Associated Press) for MSN
Michigan: “Michigan State Police Raid Home of Ex-Speaker Chatfield’s Top Staffers” by Craig Mauger and Beth LeBlanc for Detroit News
Ohio: “Mayor Resigns After Saying Ice-Fishing Shanties Could Lead to Prostitution” by Andrea Salcedo and Hannah Knowles (Washington Post) for MSN
Ohio: “FirstEnergy Pushed for ‘Cooperative’ Utility Regulator; DeWine Heeded Its Pick” by Jake Zuckerman for Ohio Capital Journal
Arizona: “Republicans Look to Curb Lobbying Activities by Cities, Counties, School Districts” by Jeremy Duda for Arizona Mirror
Oklahoma: “How A State Lawmaker’s Day Job Tiptoed into Lobbying” by Jennifer Palmer for Oklahoma Watch
Tennessee: “Special Interests Spend Estimated $60 Million Every Year to Influence Tennessee State Officials” by Phil Williams for WTVF
New Jersey: “Court Halts Union County Government Project, Ruling No-Bid $123.8M Contract Violated N.J. Law” by Ted Sherman (NJ Advance Media) for MSN
February 11, 2022 •
National/Federal ‘Blue’ Suburban Moms Are Mobilizing to Counter Conservatives in Fights Over Masks, Book Bans and Diversity Education Washington Post – Annie Gowan | Published: 2/9/2022 Dozens of suburban moms from around the country dialed into an Ohio-based Zoom training session […]
‘Blue’ Suburban Moms Are Mobilizing to Counter Conservatives in Fights Over Masks, Book Bans and Diversity Education
Washington Post – Annie Gowan | Published: 2/9/2022
Dozens of suburban moms from around the country dialed into an Ohio-based Zoom training session with the same goal – to learn how to combat the increasingly vitriolic rhetoric from parents whose protests over mask mandates and diversity education have turned school board meeting rooms into battlegrounds. Moms for Liberty, a controversial Florida-based political action group started by two former school board members and a Republican activist, has made parental rights its rallying cry and is hoping to harness anger over mask mandates and diversity education in schools into power at the polls.
‘Dear White Staffers’: Anonymous testimonials about workplace culture grip Capitol Hill
MSN – Mariana Sotomayor (Washington Post) | Published: 2/4/2022
Concerns about low pay, hostile work environments, and racial and gender discrimination have gripped Capitol Hill as an Instagram account called “Dear White Students” has posted hundreds of testimonials from current and former aides that tell a dispiriting story about what it is like to work in the halls of Congress. The account was created in January 2020, and its first post was a meme during the Trump administration mocking how minorities are paid less than White staffers, but its profile on Capitol Hill has risen steadily since the new year.
How Manchin Used Politics to Protect His Family Coal Company
Yahoo News – Scott Waldman (Politico) | Published: 2/8/2022
As West Virginia’s governor, Joe Manchin supported a provision in a clean energy bill that was moving through the state Legislature in 2009. It classified waste coal as an alternative energy. But the mix of discarded coal and rocks is a carbon-intensive fuel. Manchin’s family business stood to benefit financially when it was reclassified as something akin to solar, wind, and hydropower. He has used his political positions to protect the fuel, and a single power plant in West Virginia that burns it, from regulations that also threatened his family business. It continues today. Only now Manchin has enormous influence over federal climate policy.
Judges Take Over Drawing Dozens of House Districts – and Throw Dems a Bone
Yahoo News – Ally Mutnick (Politico) | Published: 2/4/2022
Most states have finished their maps, but state and federal courts will direct the drawing of some 75 congressional districts in at least seven states in the coming months, marking a new phase in the process before the first 2022 primaries begin. Taken together, the court interventions have eased Democratic fears about redistricting. So far, the decisions have validated the party’s state-by-state legal strategy and offered a reprieve from several Republican gerrymandering attempts before a single election could be held under the new lines.
Manafort Lender Gets One Year in Prison for Bid to Get Trump Job
Yahoo Finance – Bob Van Voris (Bloomberg) | Published: 2/7/2022
A Chicago banker convicted of trying to trade $16 million in bank loans to former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort for the chance at a top administration post was sentenced to a year in prison. Stephen Calk was found guilty of financial institution bribery and conspiracy over the loans. Calk had hoped then-President Trump would name him to a powerful government post, including treasury secretary, defense secretary, or ambassador to France or the United Kingdom.
National Archives Asks Justice Dept. to Investigate Trump’s Handling of White House Records
MSN – Matt Zapotosky, Jacqueline Alemany, Ashley Parker, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 2/9/2022
The National Archives and Records Administration asked the Justice Department to examine Donald Trump’s handling of White House records. Officials recovered 15 boxes of materials from the former president’s Mar-a-Lago residence that were not handed back to the government as they should have been, and Trump had turned over other White House records that had been torn up. Archives officials suspected Trump possibly violated laws concerning the handling of government documents, including those that might be considered classified.
One Menacing Call After Another: Threats against lawmakers surge
Yahoo News – Catie Edmondson and Mark Walker (New York Times) | Published: 2/9/2022
The New York Times reviewed more than 75 indictments of people charged with threatening lawmakers since 2016. The flurry of cases shed light on a chilling trend: in recent years, and particularly since the beginning of Donald Trump’s presidency, a growing number of Americans have taken ideological grievance and political outrage to a new level, lodging concrete threats of violence against members of Congress. Many of threats were fueled by forces that have long dominated politics, including partisan divisions and a media landscape that stokes resentment. But they surged during Trump’s time in office and in its aftermath.
Republicans Censure Cheney, Kinzinger, Call Jan. 6 Probe Attack on ‘Legitimate Political Discourse’
Reuters – Doins Chiach | Published: 2/4/2022
The Republican Party censured U.S. Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for joining Congress’ investigation of the attack on the Capitol and Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election defeat, calling the probe an attack on “legitimate political discourse.” Cheney and Kinzinger are the only Republicans on the House select committee. The panel is investigating who, including people in Trump’s inner circle, had any role in planning or enabling the worst assault on the Capitol since the War of 1812.
Stock Trading Ban for Lawmakers Gains Momentum on Capitol Hill
New York Times – Jonathan Weisman | Published: 2/9/2022
An effort to strictly control stock ownership by members of Congress is gathering momentum on Capitol Hill for the first time in a decade, fueled by politically vulnerable lawmakers who recognize the potency of signaling to voters that they will act on the perceived corruption in Washington. The issue of banning the ownership and trading of individual stocks by lawmakers is complex. It raises questions of just what other kinds of personal investments or economic liabilities could be perceived as conflicts of interest, and how far the prohibitions should extend.
Two House Democrats Question PR Firms on Work with Fossil Fuel Companies
Yahoo News – Zack Budrick (The Hill) | Published: 2/9/2022
U.S. Reps. Katie Porter and Raúl Grijalva sent a letter to six public relations firms, asking for details on their work with energy companies and whether they had aided them in campaigns to obscure the link between fossil fuels and climate change. The letter specifically cited a video recorded last summer by an undercover Greenpeace activist, in which Exxon lobbyist Keith McCoy tells the videographer the company “[fought] against some of the science” and used “shadow groups” to obfuscate the link.
Canada – Faith Goldy, Far-Right 2018 Toronto Mayoral Candidate, Faces Possible Prosecution Over Election Finances
Toronto Star – David Ryder | Published: 2/9/2022
Faith Goldy, a far-right pundit who has promoted white supremacy, faces possible prosecution over her 2018 Toronto mayoral campaign fundraising. The cit’’s compliance committee voted to refer findings from an audit to a provincial prosecutor. The committee was told Goldy failed to disclose more than $150,000 in campaign donations, illegally accepted contributions from non-Ontarians, mixed her personal and campaign funds, and did not co-operate with the audit.
From the States and Municipalities
Alabama – Supreme Court Stops Lower Court Order Requiring Alabama to Draw a New District Voting Map Favorable to Black Residents
MSN – Robert Barnes (Washington Post) | Published: 2/7/2022
The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for Alabama to use its new Republican-drawn congressional map in the 2022 elections even though a lower court said it violated the Voting Rights Act by denying a new district favorable to a Black candidate. The majority did not provide a reason for stopping the lower court’s decision. But Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Samuel Alito wrote separately to say the changes ordered by the lower court came too close to qualifying and primaries for the fall election and could create “chaos.” The case is the first for current Supreme Court justices to consider how to apply the Voting Rights Act to racial gerrymandering.
California – On Heels of Ridley-Thomas Indictment, LA County Hires Firm to Launch Sweeping Audit
Los Angeles Daily News – Ryan Carter and City News Service | Published: 2/4/2022
Los Angeles County hired the law firm Covington & Burling to conduct the audit of its contracting policies and processes and review all its major service contracts. On the heels of former Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas’s indictment and suspension from the city council, the Board of Supervisors voted to conduct the audit to ensure transparency in the county’s contracting procedures, which came into question following Ridley-Thomas’s indictment on federal bribery and conspiracy charges.
California – Why San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo Is Being Sued Over Private Emails
San Jose Mercury News – Maggie Angst | Published: 2/8/2022
Five years after California Supreme Court’s ruling that texts and emails sent by public officials on their personal devices or accounts containing public business should be considered public records, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and the city are being sued for violating the landmark ruling they sparked. The state Supreme Court unanimously ruled in the case City of San Jose v. Superior Court (Ted Smith) that when a public employee uses a personal account to communicate about public business, the content may be subject to disclosure.
Florida – Lawmakers Target Protests Outside Homes
WTVX – Dara Kam (News Service of Florida) | Published: 2/8/2022
A year after passing a sweeping law aimed at protests, Florida legislators are moving forward with a proposal that could criminalize demonstrations in front of or around people’s homes, including the governor’s mansion. The prohibition would apply not only to private property but extend to public parks, sidewalks. and rights-of-way. Critics say the legislation could allow law enforcement officials to arrest peaceful protesters and lead to Black and Hispanic demonstrators being targeted by police.
Georgia – Judge: Kemp can’t use leadership committee funds for primary
Yahoo News – Kate Brumback (Associated Press) | Published: 2/7/2022
A “leadership committee” created by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp under a new state law must stop spending money to get the governor reelected during the Republican primary, a federal judge ruled. Former U.S. Sen. David Perdue, who is challenging Kemp in the primary, filed a lawsuit challenging the new law. Perdue and his campaign allege the law gives Kemp a significant and unfair fundraising and spending advantage in the primary and asked the judge to declare it unconstitutional.
Hawaii – Indictment Puts Spotlight on One of the Most Connected Men in Honolulu
Honolulu Civil Beat – Christina Jedra | Published: 2/8/2022
At various times, Max Sword had a hand in vetting the job applications of state judges, deciding how much money Hawaii legislators should make, and drawing the maps of Honolulu’s voting districts. Currently, he is on the board of the Honolulu Board of Water Supply. It was Sword’s role as chair of the Honolulu Police Commission that led to his recent indictment. He is accused of conspiring with former city Attorney Donna Leong and former Managing Director Roy Amemiya to misuse city funds to give former police chief Louis Kealoha a $250,000 retirement package.
Hawaii – Two Hawaii Lawmakers Charged in Bribery Scheme Over Cesspool Legislation
Honolulu Civil Beat – Blaze Lovell | Published: 2/8/2022
Former Hawaii Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English and state Rep. Ty Cullen were charged by federal prosecutors with accepting bribes to support and defeat legislation on behalf of an industrial services company hoping to benefit from state cesspool regulations. Prosecutors allege English illegally accepted more than $15,000 and Cullen collected more than $23,000 in bribes. English retired at the end of the 2021 legislative session in May. Cullen was vice chairperson of the House Finance Committee, where he played a part in directing government spending on construction projects.
Iowa – Bill Would Remove ‘Swarm’ of Lobbyists from Iowa Capitol Rotunda
Globe Gazette – James Lynch | Published: 2/7/2022
A proposal to make room for “regular people” at the Iowa Capitol is getting a cool response from some of the lobbyists who would be displaced. House File 2276 would restrict lobbyists from engaging in lobbying activity in the second-floor rotunda between the House and Senate chambers. They would be permitted to be in the lobbyists’ lounges adjacent to each chamber as well as the House and Senate lounge when meeting with legislators.
Louisiana – Jeff Landry Didn’t Report $4,000+ in Travel Receipts from National Group, Despite Ethics Rules
The Advocate – Andrea Gallo | Published: 2/4/2022
Attorney General Jeff Landry failed to report he received more than $4,000 in travel reimbursements last year within the period that state public servants are required to submit such expenses to the Louisiana Board of Ethics. Tax forms show the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) reimbursed Landry for three trips in 2021. RAGA’s past tax forms show they have reimbursed Landry at least $8,000 in travel expenses since 2018. Landry has never reported the reimbursements. State law requires public officials to disclose when they receive reimbursements or comped travel; they must do so within 60 days of receipt.
Michigan – Giuliani Asked Michigan Prosecutor to Give Voting Machines to Trump Team
Anchorage Daily News – Jon Swaine, Emma Brown, and Jaqueline Alemany (Washington Post) | Published: 2/9/2022
In the weeks after the 2020 election, Rudolph Giuliani and other legal advisers to then-President Trump asked a Republican prosecutor in northern Michigan to get his county’s voting machines and pass them to Trump’s team. Antrim County prosecutor James Rossiter said Giuliani and several colleagues made the request during a telephone call after the county initially misreported its election results. Legal scholars said it was unusual and inappropriate for a president’s representatives to make such a request of a local prosecutor.
Michigan – Reforms Sought on Recall Fundraising After Whitmer Raises Millions Extra
Detroit News – Beth LeBlanc | Published: 2/8/2022
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s ability to accept excess campaign contributions because of a recall is generating legislation in the Michigan House to reform a practice that critics have called a loophole. Under the proposal, candidates would be required to create a separate fund to hold contributions related to the recall instead of mixing the extra cash with normal political donations, among other provisions. The bill stems from Whitmer’s use last year of a recall policy to collect about $4 million in contributions above the state’s normal giving limits, which are capped for individual donors at $7,150 for a statewide candidate committee.
Montana – Judge Strikes Parts of Heavily Amended Campaign Finance Bill
MSN – Amy Beth Hanson (Associated Press) | Published: 2/4/2022
A judge ruled the Montana Legislature violated the state constitution when it changed a campaign finance bill late in the 2021 session to make it harder to register and to encourage college students to vote and to, in effect, limit donations to judicial campaigns. The judge granted a permanent injunction preventing the state from enforcing the two provisions that were added to Senate Bill 319 during a conference committee, with no public input, a day before the Legislature adjourned. Montana’s Constitution requires that bills contain a single subject. It also prevents legislators from amending laws so much that their original purpose is changed.
New York – Cannabis Company Granted Subpoenas of Hochul, Regulators
Albany Times Union – Rebekah Ward | Published: 2/10/2022
A state Supreme Court justice approved four subpoenas that MedMen, a multi-state marijuana operator, will serve on New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s administration as it seeks documents showing any communications between the governor’s office and a rival company. The subpoenas also seek records of communications between the rival, Ascend Wellness Holdings, and state cannabis regulators, as well as additional documents pertaining to a soured deal between MedMen and Ascend. The subpoenas filed by MedMen referenced an article published in December regarding Hochul’s campaign fundraising.
New York – Ethics Groups Want Investigation of Free Help Cuomo Received
MSN – Marina Villeneuve (Associated Press) | Published: 2/7/2022
Watchdog groups say New York’s ethics commission should investigate whether former Gov. Andrew Cuomo broke the law by accepting free help from a group of former aides who worked to defend him against sexual harassment allegations. State ethics law bans public officials from accepting gifts or services worth more than $15 from lobbyists and companies that do business with the state. When Cuomo’s first accusers came forward, he turned to a team of outside advisers who provided him with strategic advice and public relations help. Several of those ex-aides worked for companies that lobby the state or have had state contracts.
New York – Ex-N.Y.C. Shelter Boss to Pay $1.2 Million After Bribery Plea
New York Times – Amy Julia Harris | Published: 2/7/2022
The former head of one of the largest operators of homeless shelters in New York City pleaded guilty to pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from contractors in a scheme that went on for years, as homelessness in the city grew to record numbers. Victor Rivera, founder of the Bronx Parent Housing Network, admitted to accepting kickbacks from contractors working with the organization and laundering the money through entities he controlled. As part of the plea agreement, Rivera is expected to face a prison sentence and agreed to forfeit $1.2 million.
New York – Hochul Leads Pack of Candidates Who Fail to Disclose Sources of Corporate Cash
The City – Sam Mellins (New York Focus) | Published: 2/9/2022
A media investigation revealed elected officials in New York continued to collect money from anonymous donors in violation of a 2019 law that required the disclosure of limited liability company (LLC) owners who made campaign contributions. The law is meant to prevent individuals from using LLCs as an end run around per person donation limits. Gov. Kathy Hochul was among the biggest benefactors of such money in 2021 and did not meet the disclosure requirements for a majority of the donations.
New York – ‘Space’: The bureaucratic frontier threatening the state’s new Public Campaign Finance Board
Gothamist – Brigid Bergin | Published: 2/7/2022
Kristen Zebrowski Stavisky, co-executive director of the New York State Board of Elections, testified recently about what was impeding the progress of the state’s new Public Campaign Finance Board. A top concern, according to Zebrowski Stavisky is the lack of office space. This was making it harder to bring in the personnel needed to launch the program since there is nowhere to put them. She also said their plans to acquire new offices were snared in months of bureaucratic, inter-agency delays. Despite the problems, officials insist the program will be up and running later this year.
North Carolina – North Carolina Supreme Court Rejects Redistricting Map as Unconstitutional
MSN – Meryl Kornfield, Colby Itkowitz, and Maria Luisa Paúl (Washington Post) | Published: 2/4/2022
The North Carolina Supreme Court ruled political district maps drawn by Republican lawmakers are unconstitutional and must be redrawn, a significant victory for Democrats in a state almost evenly divided politically. In a decision divided by party lines, the court found Republican lawmakers drew maps that deprived voters of their “substantially equal voting power on the basis of partisan affiliation.” The ruling is the latest in consequential redistricting wins for Democrats that could determine whether they hold on to their majority in the U.S. House amid all-out war in courtrooms over partisan gerrymandering and voting rights.
North Carolina – Voters, NC Elections Board: Madison Cawthorn candidate challenge should remain
MSN – Gary Robertson (Associated Press) | Published: 2/8/2022
A formal effort to evaluate whether U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn should be disqualified as a candidate because of his involvement in the rally that preceded the U.S. Capitol riot should be allowed to continue, voters and election officials in North Carolina told a federal judge. The candidate challenge says Cawthorn fails to comply with the portion of a post-Civil War amendment to the Constitution pertaining to insurrections. Cawthorn’s speech at the rally supporting then-President Trump, his other comments and information in published reports provide a “reasonable suspicion or belief” that he helped facilitate the insurrection.
Ohio – Audit: FirstEnergy improperly used ratepayer money to fund HB6 dark money efforts
MSN – Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 2/4/2022
Federal regulators told FirstEnergy to refund customers after an audit found the utility did not properly track some of the $71 million it spent on lobbying for a nuclear plant bailout at the center of a corruption scheme. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission found the lobbying expenses led FirstEnergy to improperly raise prices on customers and attempt to “conceal the nature and purpose” of the payments from the public. Like other public utilities, FirstEnergy cannot use money collected from ratepayers to fund lobbying.
Ohio – Ohio Mayor Lambasted for Saying Ice Fishing Would Lead to Prostitution: He ’embarrasses our town with wild claims’
Washington Post – Andrea Salcedo | Published: 2/10/2022
The city council in Hudson, Ohio, planned to cover several items during its recent meeting. But before it moved through their agenda, Council President Chris Foster wanted to gauge whether the council should consider a change to the rules on ice fishing on Hudson Springs Lake. He asked for members’ opinions, and most of what followed centered around safety concerns. Then, Mayor Craig Shubert stepped in, and the conversation took an unexpected turn. His issue with allowing people to ice fish on the lake was that it could lead to prostitution.
Ohio – Ohio Republicans Regroup, Postpone Congressional Map Plan After Latest Ohio Supreme Court Redistricting Rebuke
Cleveland Plain Dealer – Andrew Tobias | Published: 2/8/2022
Following their latest redistricting setback, Republican state lawmakers in Ohio are scrapping plans to introduce a new congressional map plan, deciding they are unable to get the minimal Democratic support it would require become effective in time for the May election. That means responsibility for coming up with a new plan now will go back to the Ohio Redistricting Commission. The state Supreme Court recently rejected GOP-drawn maps for Ohio’s state House and Senate districts. The court also rejected Republicans’ congressional map in January.
Oklahoma – Former Senate Leader Mike Morgan Gets Law License Back 10 Years After Bribery Conviction
Yahoo News – Nolan Clay (Oklahoman) | Published: 2/5/2022
Former Oklahoma Sen. Mike Morgan is being reinstated as a lawyer 10 years after he was convicted of accepting bribes disguised as legal fees. Morgan was convicted of accepting $12,000 to influence legislation. The state Supreme Court found Morgan had established he possesses the good moral character and fitness necessary for reinstatement. Justice Yvonne Kauger wrote the conviction “was based on some very suspect evidence.” Morgan still maintains his innocence.
Oregon – Proposed Oregon Campaign Finance Limits Could Be Upended by a Drafting Technicality
OPB – Dirk VanderHart | Published: 2/9/2022
Last year, it looked like Oregonians might have options for how to limit campaign contributions. Reformers filed six proposals to curb political giving, raising the possibility that dueling measures could compete for voter approval in the 2022 election. Now all but one of those proposals might be dead, at least in their current forms. Secretary of State Shemia Fagan said three measures do not meet a technical requirement of the state constitution. Two alternative campaign finance proposals contain the same problem, supporters concede, meaning they would likely be rejected if they choose to move forward.
Rhode Island – Mattiello Is Latest Former R.I. Lawmaker to Line Up Lucrative Lobbying Clients
MSN – Edward Fitzpatrick (Boston Globe) | Published: 2/7/2022
Former Rhode Island House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello is the latest former state lawmaker to line up a lucrative statehouse lobbying gig, trying to exert influence over his former colleagues. It is clear why big companies and major organizations would want to hire former legislators to lobby on their behalf, said John Marion, executive director of Common Cause Rhode Island. But there is a downside for others who lack that access, he said: “Moneyed interests get the upper hand over the public interest because they can afford to pay former legislators.”
South Carolina – Jury Awards $50M to Bluffton Mayor in Defamation Suit Against Longtime Local Critic
MSN – Sam Ogozalek (The Island Packet) | Published: 2/3/2022
A awarded a total of $50 million in damages to the mayor of Bluffton, South Carolina, in a defamation case against a longtime government critic. Skip Hoagland must pay $40 million in actual damages to Bluffton Mayor Lisa Sulka, who had filed a libel lawsuit against him in 2017, along with $10 million in punitive damages. Sulka filed the lawsuit against Hoagland over emails he sent to several people including the state attorney general. The mayor claimed there were defamatory statements in the messages, such as accusations she committed a crime and was unfit for office.
South Dakota – South Dakota Ethics Board Wants Response from Noem by April
MSN – Stephen Groves (Associated Press) | Published: 2/3/2022
The Government Accountability Board set an April deadline for South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem to respond to a pair of ethics complaints from the state’s attorney general, signaling it believes the complaints might have merit. Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg asked the board to consider two issues. One is whether Noem’s use of state airplanes broke the law, and the other is whether she improperly interfered with a state agency that was evaluating her daughter’s application for a real estate appraiser license. Noem has insisted she has done nothing wrong.
Virginia – Youngkin Campaign Attacks High School Student on Twitter
MSN – Laura Vozzella (Washington Post) | Published: 2/6/2022
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin distanced himself from a tweet mocking a teenager that went out on his campaign account, calling it “unauthorized.” It lashed out at a high school student as well as former Gov. Ralph Northam, tweeting out the teen’s name and photograph after the boy shared a news story about part of the Executive Mansion. Ethan Lynne retweeted a report from public radio station VPM suggesting Youngkin might be scrapping efforts to highlight the history of enslaved people at the mansion. The report contained an error, which Lynne noted on Twitter hours later, when VPM issued a correction.
Wisconsin – Ex-Justice’s Wisconsin Election Probe Drags as Critics Scoff
ABC News – Scott Bauer (Associated Press) | Published: 2/7/2022
Joe Biden’s narrow 2020 victory in Wisconsin has withstood recounts, lawsuits, and multiple reviews. There is no evidence of widespread fraud. But former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman is continuing his probe of the election. In his seven-month inquiry, Gableman has been sued over his response to open records requests and subpoenas and countersued. He has been criticized for scant expense records, ridiculed for sending confusing emails, making rudimentary errors in his filings, and called out for meeting with conspiracy theorists.
February 7, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Montana: “Judge Strikes Part of Law, Saying Last-Minute Changes Violated Constitution” by Seaborn Lawson for Billings Gazette Ethics National: “G.O.P. Declares Jan. 6 Attack ‘Legitimate Political Discourse’” by Jonathan Weisman and Reid Epstein for New York Times New […]
Montana: “Judge Strikes Part of Law, Saying Last-Minute Changes Violated Constitution” by Seaborn Lawson for Billings Gazette
National: “G.O.P. Declares Jan. 6 Attack ‘Legitimate Political Discourse’” by Jonathan Weisman and Reid Epstein for New York Times
New York: “Hochul Opposes Subpoena Seeking Records of Cannabis Deal” by Chris Bragg for Albany Times Union
South Carolina: “Jury Awards $50M to Bluffton Mayor in Defamation Suit Against Longtime Local Critic” by Sam Ogozalek (The Island Packet) for MSN
South Dakota: “South Dakota Ethics Board Wants Response from Noem by April” by Stephen Groves (Associated Press) for MSN
National: “‘Ground Up and Spit Out’: Inside the Hill staffer Instagram rebellion” by Katherine Tully-McManus, Nancy Vu, Eleanor Mueller, and Ximena Bustillo (Politico) for MSN
California: “On Heels of Ridley-Thomas Indictment, LA County Hires Firm to Launch Sweeping Audit” by Ryan Carter and City News Service for Los Angeles Daily News
National: “Judges Take Over Drawing Dozens of House Districts – and Throw Dems a Bone” by Ally Mutnick (Politico) for Yahoo News
January 14, 2022 •
National/Federal Gaetz’s Ex-Girlfriend Appears Before Grand Jury in Sex Trafficking Probe Seattle Times – Matt Zapotosky (Washington Post) | Published: 1/12/2022 The ex-girlfriend of U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz appeared before a federal grand jury investigating him for possible sex trafficking of […]
Gaetz’s Ex-Girlfriend Appears Before Grand Jury in Sex Trafficking Probe
Seattle Times – Matt Zapotosky (Washington Post) | Published: 1/12/2022
The ex-girlfriend of U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz appeared before a federal grand jury investigating him for possible sex trafficking of a minor, a signal the probe remains active more than a year after it began. Investigators are exploring whether Gaetz paid for sex in violation of federal sex-trafficking laws and have been interested in his dealings with a 17-year-old girl, people familiar with the matter have said. The appearance of his ex-girlfriend before a federal grand jury is a potentially ominous sign for Gaetz.
Jerome Powell Says the Fed Will Tighten Trading Rules After an Ethics Scandal
New York Times – Jeanna Smialek | Published: 1/11/2022
Jerome Powell, chairperson of the Federal Reserve, told lawmakers at his nomination hearing that the central bank was making changes to rules surrounding financial trades to prevent the kind of eyebrow-raising transactions surrounding three top Fed officials. The Fed has come under fire for allowing officials to trade securities for their own portfolios in 2020, a year in which the Fed was actively saving many asset classes and markets. That included notable trades by two of the 12 regional reserve bank presidents and the Fed’s vice chair.
Judge Mulls Whether Trump’s Silence on Jan. 6 Could Amount to ‘Agreement’ with Rioters
MSN – Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney (Politico) | Published: 1/10/2022
Donald Trump’s hours of silence while a violent mob ransacked the Capitol – egged on by his own words and tweets – could be plausibly construed as agreement with rioters’ actions, a federal judge suggested. U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta made the analysis as he pressed Trump’s lawyers about their efforts to dismiss a series of lawsuits against the former president seeking to hold him financially liable for inciting the January 6 insurrection.
Justice Dept. Forms New Domestic Terrorism Unit to Address Growing Threat
MSN – Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 1/11/2022
The Justice Department is forming a new domestic terrorism unit. Matthew Olsen, head of the department’s National Security Division, announced the unit before the Senate Judiciary Committee, noting the number of FBI investigations of suspected domestic violent extremists – those accused of planning or committing crimes in the name of domestic political goals – had more than doubled since the spring of 2020. His testimony comes days after the anniversary of the riot at the Capitol, an event some lawmakers say showed the FBI underestimated the threat posed by domestic extremists and violence-prone members of far-right groups.
Kevin McCarthy Rejects Request by House Jan. 6 Committee for Information About Communications with Trump, Mark Meadows
MSN – Jacueline Alemany and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) | Published: 1/12/2022
The House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol requested that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy voluntarily provide information about his communications with former President Trump and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Details of those conversations could provide the committee with further insight into Trump’s state of mind at the time, wrote U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, the panel’s chairperson. McCarthy said he will not cooperate, arguing in a statement that its “only objective is to attempt to damage its political opponents.”
Pence and Jan. 6 Committee Engage in High-Stakes Dance Over Testimony
Yahoo News – Michael Schmidt and Alan Feuer (New York Times) | Published: 1/10/2022
Since the House select committee investigating the assault on the Capitol was formed last summer, former Vice President Mike Pence’s lawyer and the panel have been talking about whether he would be willing to speak to investigators. But as Pence began sorting through a complex calculation about his cooperation, he is said to have grown disillusioned with the idea of voluntary cooperation. For the committee, Pence’s testimony would be an opportunity to establish how Donald Trump’s pressuring him to block the certification of the 2020 election helped inspire the storming of the Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Rep. Jim Jordan Refuses to Cooperate with Jan. 6 Committee Investigating Capitol Attack
MSN – Annabelle Timsit (Washington Post) | Published: 1/10/2022
U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan is refusing a request to be interviewed by the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, calling it an “unprecedented and inappropriate demand.” Jordan declined to comply with the request to appear before the panel to discuss his communication with Trump on the day of the assault. Jordan previously said he could not recall how many times he spoke with Trump on January 6 but they spoke at least once.
Schumer Sets Up Final Senate Confrontation on Voting Rights and the Filibuster
MSN – Mike DeBonis (Washington Post) | Published: 1/12/2022
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer prepared Democrats for the final phase of a year-long push to pass voting rights legislation, sketching out legislative maneuvers that could launch debate on a pair of stalled bills and force a confrontation over the Senate’s rules in the coming days. The details of the next steps come as President Biden has launched his own aggressive push to convince his fellow Democrats to band together and overhaul the filibuster to overcome strict GOP opposition to voting rights bills.
The Battle to Prevent Another Jan. 6 Features a New Weapon: The algorithm
MSN – Steven Zeitchik (Washington Post) | Published: 1/6/2022
For many Americans who witnessed the attack on the U.S. Capitol last year, the idea of mobs of people storming a bedrock of democracy was unthinkable. For the data scientists who watched it unfold, the reaction was different: we have been thinking about this for a long time. The sentiment comes from a group working in a field known as unrest prediction. The group takes a promising if fraught approach that applies the complex methods of machine-learning to the mysterious roots of political violence. Centered on the developing world, its systems are slowly being retooled with a new goal: predicting the next January 6.
When Lobbyists and Legislators Socialize, Lobbyists Are More Likely to Get What They Want
MSN – Sara Sadhwani, Pamela Lopez, Christian Grose, and Antoine Yoshinaka | Published: 1/12/2022
Lobbying often takes place off Capitol Hill. Whether it is dinner at the Charlie Palmer steakhouse in Washington, or the hosting of public officials at receptions and bars, lobbying in social situations is a key tool of professional advocates. To explore the impact of social lobbying, researchers conducted an experiment in the California Legislature. They say they found interest groups are more likely to get what they ask for when they meet legislators or their staff socially. Much like everyone else, public officials are more easily persuaded in such settings.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – Cyber Ninjas, the Firm Behind the Audit in Arizona’s Maricopa County, Says It’s Closing and Letting All Its Employees Go
Business Insider – Cheryl Teh | Published: 1/7/2022
Cyber Ninjas, the company behind the 2020 election audit in Maricopa County, Arizona, said it was closing and letting all its staff go as it faces staggering daily fines for refusing to turn over public record related to the audit. A judge in Arizona said Cyber Ninjas would be fined $50,000 a day if it did not immediately turn over the records. It is unclear how many employees Cyber Ninjas has on its payroll, though LinkedIn lists its company size as two to 10 employees.
California – Former High-Level Lawyer with L.A. City Attorney Agrees to Plead Guilty in DWP Scandal
MSN – Dakota Smith and David Zahniser (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 1/10/2022
A former high-level lawyer in Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer’s office agreed to plead guilty in the federal corruption probe of the Department of Water and Power (DWP) billing debacle, becoming the first staffer under Feuer to do so. Thomas Pierce agreed to plead guilty to one count of aiding and abetting extortion. In his plea agreement, Pierce admitted he threatened to fire one of the city’s outside lawyers unless that lawyer paid off a person who was threatening to reveal damaging information about city lawyers’ handling of the DWP case.
California – What’s Behind the ‘Great Resignation’ of California Lawmakers?
MSN – Ben Christopher (CalMatters) | Published: 1/10/2022
Propelled by approaching term limits, new district lines, and a raft of political opportunities outside the state Capitol, 14 California lawmakers have sought employment elsewhere. That does not include the seven members, all senators, who are barred from seeking reelection in 2022 by term limits. Some incumbents and lobbyists say this year’s changing of the guard has the potential to shake up the Capitol’s policy-making dynamic.
Colorado – Mesa County Clerk Who Embraced Conspiracy Theories Given 3 Days to Accept Election Security Oversight
Denver Post – Saja Hindi | Published: 1/12/2022
Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold wants Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters to sign documents saying she will comply with election security protocols that place limits on what she can do before Peters can resume her duties as the county’s designated election official. In October, a judge barred Peters and Deputy Clerk Belinda Knisley from overseeing the 2021 election. Peters has been held up as a prominent figure among election conspiracy theorists who claim the 2020 election was stolen.
Connecticut – Top Prosecutor’s Fate Will Await Completion of Investigation, Judge Says
Connecticut Mirror – Mark Pazniokas | Published: 1/12/2022
The commission with the power to hire and fire top prosecutors in Connecticut is awaiting completion of an investigation of how Chief State’s Attorney Richard Colangelo Jr. came to hire the daughter of a top state budget official while he lobbied the budget office for raises. Colangelo hired Anastasia Diamantis while he was lobbying her father, Kostantinos Diamantis, who was deputy secretary of the Office of Policy and Management before his firing. The state contracted with an outside attorney “to conduct a factual investigation on behalf of the Office of the Governor regarding possible improprieties by state employees and possibly others.”
Delaware – Jury Finds State Sen. Darius Brown Not Guilty of Misdemeanor Charges
Yahoo News – Xerxes Wilson (Delaware News Journal) | Published: 1/6/2022
A jury found Delaware Sen. Darius Brown not guilty of misdemeanor offensive touching and disorderly conduct. The trial saw a woman accuse Brown of hitting her in the head and throwing a glass that shattered in her proximity while they were at a restaurant. Senate President Pro Tempore David Sokola said regardless of whether Brown’s conduct was not criminal, “it remains clear” Brown has been involved in “multiple confrontations in public spaces” over the past year. Sokola said the Senate’s Rules and Ethics Committee will review allegations against Brown in the coming weeks.
Florida – Florida Officials Tried to Steer Education Contract to Former Lawmaker’s Company
Yahoo News – Lawrence Mower and Ana Ceballos (Tampa Bay Times) | Published: 1/11/2022
The Florida Department of Education is under fire for trying to steer a multimillion-dollar contract to a company whose chief executive has ties to the state’s education commissioner. Records and interviews show that before the Education Department asked for bids, it was already in advanced talks with the company to do the work, subverting a process designed to eliminate favoritism. The company is MGT Consulting, led by former lawmaker Trey Traviesa, a longtime colleague of the state’s education commissioner, Richard Corcoran.
Florida – Florida Senate Accuses Lawyer Who Submitted Redistricting Map of Violating Rules
Miami Herald – Mary Ellen Klas | Published: 1/6/2022
The Florida Senate accused a staff attorney for the ACLU of Florida of misinformation after he appeared as a private citizen before a redistricting committee to present a map he had drawn but failed to identify his employer, which had no role in the submission. The Senate changed its rules this year regarding map submissions and now requires anyone who attempts to address legislators in a public meeting to submit a disclosure form that indicates if they are a lobbyist or getting expenses paid. The rules also prohibit lawmakers from considering maps submitted by the public unless a legislator explicitly requested the map in writing.
Florida – FPL Makes Unusual Public Attack on Miami Herald After Solar Power Coverage
MSN – David Ovalle (Miami Herald) | Published: 1/6/2022
Florida Power & Light (FPL) launched an unusual public attack on The Miami Herald and its senior Tallahassee reporter over coverage of the utility company’s lobbying on solar power policy, criticism the newspaper’s top editor called “unfair.” FPL published a piece on its own website criticizing the news organization for not publishing the entirety of an editorial written in response to a Miami Herald story co-authored by Mary Ellen Klas about the company’s role in preparing legislation affecting rooftop solar power generation in Florida. FPL’s post was titled: “Truth Matters: Why is the Miami Herald afraid to let its readers hear opposing voices?”
Georgia – Perdue Sues Over New Georgia Fundraising Law
Yahoo News – Joseph Coi (The Hill) | Published: 1/6/2022
David Perdue’s gubernatorial campaign filed a lawsuit challenging a state law that critics say gives Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp an advantage in the race. Last year, Kemp signed Senate Bill 221 into law, allowing those vying for governor, lieutenant governor, and party leadership roles to create “leadership committees” with no caps on individual campaign contributions. The law also does away with limits on when committees can raise money. Critics have argued it gives incumbent candidates an unfair advantage, as nonincumbent candidates must win a party primary before they can establish a leadership committee.
Idaho – Idaho Statehouse Security: Is the ‘people’s house’ a safe place for the people?
KPVI – Clark Corbin (Idaho Capital Sun) | Published: 1/9/2022
Political organizer Alicia Abbott worries that members of the public will not feel comfortable or safe at the Idaho Capitol, whether it is due to the anger or crowds or lack of COVID-19 protocols like masking and distancing. She is concerned that would rob people of their ability to participate in the legislative process and could limit the perspective of public testimony presented to lawmakers during bill hearings. Abbott is not the only one who is worried about the potential for violence and politics to clash.
Iowa – Republican Leadership Bars Journalists from Iowa Senate Floor, Worrying Press Advocates
MSN – Kim Bellware (Washington Post) | Published: 1/8/2022
Republican leaders in the state Senate told journalists they will no longer be allowed to work on the chamber floor, a change that breaks with a more than 140-year tradition in the Iowa Capitol. The move raised concerns among free press and freedom of information advocates who said it is a blow to transparency and open government that makes it harder for the public to understand, let alone scrutinize, elected officials. The new rule denies reporters access to the press benches near senators’ desks, a proximity that statehouse reporters said is crucial for the most accurate coverage.
Kentucky – Senate Bill Would Block State Contracts If Bidders’ Lobbyists Are Convicted of Crimes
Yahoo News – John Cheves (Lexington Herald-Leader) | Published: 1/10/2022
A Kentucky Senate bill would block state contracts from going to companies for five years after their lobbyists are convicted of crimes related to helping those companies win those contracts. If the language in Senate Bill 46 sounds specific, that is because the sponsor has in mind a particular contract and a particular lobbyist and particular crimes. Sen. Stephen Meredith said he objects to a $51.7 million contract renewal awarded by the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet in 2020 to Cannon Cochran Management Services.
Maryland – Howard County Council Member Outraged by Denial of Matching Campaign Funds, Calling It Political Manipulation
MSN – Katie Long (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 1/12/2022
A technicality in the law resulted in Howard County candidates being denied matching campaign funds this election season. To be eligible for up to $85,000 in matching funds, county council candidates must collect at least $10,000 from at least 125 donations. These funds are only available for candidates in contested races, meaning at least two candidates’ names must appear on the ballot. The rules also state the determination date for when a race is “contested” is six months prior to the state filing deadline. This language is what resulted in the withholding of funds from council member Deb Jung.
Michigan – Judge Tosses GOP Challenge to Exception for Recall Donations
MSN – David Eggers (Associated Press) | Published: 1/6/2022
A federal judge dismissed Republicans’ lawsuit challenging the ability of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s reelection campaign to collect excess donations under an exception for recall attempts, saying they lack the standing to sue. U.S. District Court Judge Janet Neff ruled state GOP Chairperson Ron Weiser and the party failed to show they had suffered a “concrete and particularized injury.” She also said they could have given unlimited amounts to recall committees opposing the Democratic governor but did not. Republicans said they would appeal.
Montana – Montana Conservation Voters Action Fund Facing Fine for Campaign Finance Violations
Helena Independent Record – Nolan Lister | Published: 1/12/2022
Montana Conservation Voters Action Fund is facing a fine for failing to file reports on its spending in municipal elections in Helena, Missoula, and Billings last year. As a registered political committee, the group is permitted to engage in these actions. But it failed to report its expenses as required. “Unfortunately, our vendor failed to submit the required reports related to our work …,” said Jake Brown, the organization’s political director.
New Mexico – New Mexico Ethics Commission to Consider Charges Against Dow
Yahoo News – Robert Nott (Santa Fe New Mexican) | Published: 1/10/2022
The general counsel for the State Ethics Commission recommended a public hearing to determine whether New Mexico Rep. Rebecca Dow, a GOP candidate for governor in the June primary, violated government conduct and financial disclosure rules in connection with her work for a nonprofit she founded, AppleTree Educational Center, a faith-based early childhood education provider. A complaint raised questions about whether Dow accurately disclosed details about her position and salary with AppleTree. It also said there is evidence she may have used her legislative position to advocate for the nonprofit.
New Mexico – Public Financing the Common Factor for Winners of ABQ Campaigns in 2021
Albuquerque Journal – Jessica Dyer | Published: 1/9/2022
Whether Republican or Democrat, incumbent or political newcomer, every candidate who won a position in Albuquerque’s municipal government during the 2021 election cycle had at least one thing in common: all ran for office on the city’s public financing system. But the program that has fueled so many recent election wins also continues to fuel controversy and doubt.
New York – Cuomo Lawyer Fires Warning at Ethics Agency
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 1/12/2022
An attorney representing former Gov. Andrew Cuomo notified New York’s ethics oversight panel that it is to preserve “all evidence and documentation” concerning its efforts to force Cuomo to repay $5.1 million in proceeds from a 2020 book deal. The letter appears to be a warning shot to the Joint Commission on Public Ethics that if the panel continues attempts to force Cuomo to repay the funds that he earned from writing the book, Cuomo will sue. Cuomo will also seek to dig into the panel’s own machinations.
New York – Eric Adams Cuts His Brother’s Duties After Giving Him Top Police Job
New York Times – Dana Rubenstein and William Rashbaum | Published: 1/12/2022
When Mayor Eric Adams named a Virginia parking administrator and retired police sergeant to a top position in the New York Police Department, he said the man had one qualification that no one else there possessed: he was the mayor’s brother. Bernard Adams, 56, a former police sergeant who retired from the force in 2006 after 20 years, has been given one of the most elite jobs in city government: overseeing the unit that will protect the mayor’s physical safety. The mayor’s fundraising tactics have, tested the boundaries of campaign finance and law, and the hiring has amplified concerns that Mayor Adams pays too little heed to ethics.
New York – GOP Sues Over Law Letting Noncitizens Vote in NYC Elections
MSN – Marina Vileneuve (Associated Press) | Published: 1/10/2022
Republicans sued to prevent noncitizens from voting in New York City elections under a new local law that allows more than 800,000 noncitizens and “Dreamers” in New York City to vote in municipal elections as early as next year. They still cannot vote for president or members of Congress or in statewide elections. Republicans said the law violates the state constitution, which says, “every citizen shall be entitled to vote at every election” provided a citizen is at least 18 years old and a “resident of this state” and the locality for 30 days before an election.
New York – Hochul Moves to Scrap Much-Criticized Ethics Agency
Buffalo News – Tom Precious | Published: 1/7/2022
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul proposed reforms for the Joint Commission on Public Integrity (JCOPE). She would get rid of the system by which JCOPE board members are selected. Board members are now chosen by the governor and legislative leaders. Hochul wants a rotating five-member panel of law school deans – or, more likely, their designees – from the 15 state-accredited law schools in New York. Hochul also would scrap the special voting system JCOPE can now employ in which a minority of members can end an investigation. The reconstituted agency would still be the reporting and enforcement entity of the lobbying industry in Albany.
New York – Hochul’s Taxpayer-Funded Air Travel May Violate Ethics Rules
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 1/6/2022
On October 4, Gov. Kathy Hochul flew from Albany to New York City on a state-owned airplane. She went to Brooklyn to sign a bill, then held three campaign-related events before flying back to Albany in the evening. Although a major part of the day was dedicated to Hochul winning a full term in November’s election, her campaign did not reimburse taxpayers for any portion of the day’s travel. During Hochul’s first 45 days in office, on at least three separate days, the governor’s use of state aircraft has raised questions about whether there has been any misuse of taxpayer resources, according to a review of public records.
North Carolina – North Carolina Court Declines to Toss Out GOP-Drawn House Map
Yahoo News – Ally Mutnick (Politico) | Published: 1/11/2022
A North Carolina trial court dealt a setback to Democrats when it declined to strike down Republican-drawn congressional and legislative maps that had been challenged as illegal partisan gerrymanders. The ruling is the latest in a flurry of litigation and court orders muddying North Carolina’s 2022 elections and leaving its political future for the next decade in limbo. The Democratic-aligned plaintiffs who brought the suit immediately said they will appeal to the state Supreme Court, where their party has a narrow majority.
Ohio – Campaign Finance Watchdog Sues FEC Over Ohio Dark Money Group
Ohio Capital Journal – Nick Evans | Published: 1/11/2022
Two years ago, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed an FEC complaint against an Ohio-based “dark money” group called Freedom Vote. Attorneys with the FEC investigated and demonstrated violations occurred but the commission deadlocked. CREW has filed a new complaint, this time against the FEC itself. That is because despite an overwhelming set of evidence, commissioners failed to act against Freedom Vote. The commission deadlocked last November on whether to move forward with any kind of punishment.
Ohio – Ohio’s House Bill 6 Scandal Widened in 2021, but More Is Yet to Come in 2022
MSN – Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 12/30/2021
Ohio’s House Bill 6 scandal took on a new dimension in 2021, with FirstEnergy Corp. paying a $230 million fine for bribing top state officials, lawmakers passing a partial repeal of the infamous energy law, and ex- House Speaker Larry Householder being kicked out of the Legislature. There is more to come in 2022, as Householder’s upcoming trial on a federal corruption charge, as well as multiple civil lawsuits, are likely to reveal even more scandalous details about the passage of the legislation.
Oregon – Secretary of State Rules Kristof Ineligible to Run for Oregon Governor
Yahoo News – Connor Radnovich (Salem Statesman-Journal) | Published: 1/6/2022
Former New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof cannot run for Oregon governor because he does not meet the residency requirements to hold office, the secretary of state’s office announced. The state constitution requires a candidate for governor to have been a “resident within this state” for three years prior to the general election. Evidence reviewed by elections officials showed Kristof was instead a resident of New York until late 2020 or early 2021.
Tennessee – Nashville Council Member Jonathan Hall Faces 14 Potential Campaign Finance Violations
MSN – Cassandra Stephenson (The Tennessean) | Published: 1/7/2022
Metropolitan Councilperson Jonathan Hall faces more than a dozen potential campaign finance violations that could lead to an audit or civil penalties. Hall failed to file multiple mandatory financial reports on time, or at all, during election cycles in 2018 and 2019, according to a letter sent from Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance Executive Director Bill Young. Of the financial reports that Hall’s campaign did file, some lack required donor and vendor information and itemization of expenses. Some contain unexplained discrepancies deemed “troubling” by Assistant District Attorney General Brian Ewald.
Washington – A Rural Washington School Board Race Shows How Far-Right Extremists Are Shifting to Local Power
Seattle Times – Hannah Allam (Washington Post) | Published: 1/8/2022
In recent years, far-right groups have been moving away from national organizing to focus on building grassroots support, harnessing conservative outrage to influence school boards and other local offices. That effort was stepped up after the attack on the U.S. Capitol left much of the militant right under federal scrutiny and in operational disarray. Eatonville, Washington, is among several rural, conservative parts of the West where members of self-styled militias are making inroads through what researchers call a mix of opportunism and intimidation.
Wisconsin – Supreme Court Clears Way for Liberal Group to Depose Assembly Speaker Robin Vos
Yahoo News – Patrick Marley (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) | Published: 1/11/2022
The Wisconsin Supreme Court ended Assembly Speaker Robin Vos’ attempt to avoid a deposition, setting the stage for him to take questions under oath over whether he has followed the state’s open records law. He sought to avoid answering questions from the liberal group American Oversight, which has been seeking records of a partisan review of the 2020 election ordered by Vos.
January 12, 2022 •
Elections New York: “GOP Sues Over Law Letting Noncitizens Vote in NYC Elections” by Marina Vileneuve (Associated Press) for MSN Washington: “A Rural Washington School Board Race Shows How Far-Right Extremists Are Shifting to Local Power” by Hannah Allam (Washington […]
New York: “GOP Sues Over Law Letting Noncitizens Vote in NYC Elections” by Marina Vileneuve (Associated Press) for MSN
Washington: “A Rural Washington School Board Race Shows How Far-Right Extremists Are Shifting to Local Power” by Hannah Allam (Washington Post) for Seattle Times
National: “Justice Dept. Forms New Domestic Terrorism Unit to Address Growing Threat” by Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Judge Mulls Whether Trump’s Silence on Jan. 6 Could Amount to ‘Agreement’ with Rioters” by Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney (Politico) for MSN
New Mexico: “New Mexico Ethics Commission to Consider Charges Against Dow” by Robert Nott (Santa Fe New Mexican) for Yahoo News
New York: “Hochul’s Taxpayer-Funded Air Travel May Violate Ethics Rules” by Chris Bragg for Albany Times Union
Kentucky: “Senate Bill Would Block State Contracts If Bidders’ Lobbyists Are Convicted of Crimes” by John Cheves (Lexington Herald-Leader) for Yahoo News
Florida: “Florida Officials Tried to Steer Education Contract to Former Lawmaker’s Company” by Lawrence Mower and Ana Ceballos (Tampa Bay Times) for Yahoo News
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