September 23, 2022 •
National/Federal A Landmark Supreme Court Fight Over Social Media Now Looks Likely MSN – Robert Barnes and Ann Marimow (Washington Post) | Published: 9/19/2022 Conflicting lower court rulings about removing controversial material from social media platforms point toward a landmark U.S. […]
A Landmark Supreme Court Fight Over Social Media Now Looks Likely
MSN – Robert Barnes and Ann Marimow (Washington Post) | Published: 9/19/2022
Conflicting lower court rulings about removing controversial material from social media platforms point toward a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision on whether the First Amendment protects tech companies’ editorial discretion or forbids its censorship of unpopular views. The stakes are high not just for government and the companies, but because of the increasingly dominant role platforms such as Twitter and Facebook play in American democracy and elections. Social media posts have the potential to amplify disinformation or hateful speech, but removal of controversial viewpoints can stifle public discourse about important political issues.
Appeals Court: Justice Dept. can use Mar-a-Lago documents in criminal probe
MSN – Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 9/21/2022
An appeals court sided with the Justice Department in a legal fight over classified documents seized in a court-authorized search of former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, ruling the FBI may use the documents in its ongoing criminal investigation. The decision by a three-judge panel of the appeals court marks a victory for the Justice Department in its legal battle with Trump over access to the evidence to determine if the former president or his advisers mishandled national security secrets or hid or destroyed government records.
Apple Flexes Muscle as Quiet Power Behind App Group
Yahoo News – Emily Birnbaum (Bloomberg) | Published: 9/19/2022
The APP Association brands itself as the leading voice for thousands of app developers around the world. The majority of its funding comes from Apple, however. The tech giant is not a member of the association, but it plays a dominant behind-the-scenes role shaping the group’s policy positions, according to four former App Association employees. In fact, critics note, the association’s lobbying agenda tracks closely with Apple’s even when it is at odds with app developers, the companies that make the individual games and programs that run on Apple’s iPhone and other devices.
DeSantis Draft Effort Pushes Ahead After Campaign Finance Watchdog Deadlocks
MSN – Zach Montellaro (Politico) | Published: 9/15/2022
An effort to draft Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis into the 2024 presidential race promised to proceed with an unusual attempt to boost his would-be campaign, after the FEC deadlocked on a request for guidance about whether the strategy was legal. Ready for Ron is a federal PAC that wants to build a list of up to 1 million people urging DeSantis to run. But with those names, the group wants to deliver would-be supporters’ email addresses and phone numbers to DeSantis. The FEC has said candidates can rent or buy supporter lists compiled by other groups, but they cannot accept something of such value as a gift without breaking contribution limits.
Fugitive in Massive Navy Bribery Case Caught in Venezuela
Yahoo News – Associated Press | Published: 9/22/2022
Leonard Francis, a Malaysian defense contractor nicknamed “Fat Leonard” who orchestrated one of the largest bribery scandals in U.S. military history, was arrested in Venezuela after fleeing before his sentencing. The arrest came on the eve of his scheduled sentencing in a federal court for a bribery scheme that lasted more than a decade and involved dozens of U.S. Navy officers. The U.S. government faces an uphill challenge returning the fugitive back to American soil.
Gaetz Sought Pardon Related to Justice Department Sex Trafficking Probe
MSN – Jacqueline Alemany and Amy Gardner (Washington Post) | Published: 9/17/2022
U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz told a former White House aide that he was seeking a preemptive pardon from then-President Trump regarding an investigation in which he is a target, according to testimony given to the House select committee investigating the attack on the Capitol. Asked by investigators if Gaetz’s request for a pardon was in the context of the Justice Department investigation into whether he violated federal sex trafficking laws, Johnny McEntee replied, “I think that was the context, yes,” according to people familiar with the testimony.
Greg Norman Finds Friendly Faces, Harsh Criticism on Capitol Hill Trip
MSN – Rick Maese (Washington Post) | Published: 9/21/2022
As a federal antitrust case winds its way through the court system, LIV Golf chief executive Greg Norman visited Capitol Hill, receiving mixed reviews from lawmakers as he tried to sell them on his breakaway tour that has upended the golf word. While some lawmakers seemed receptive to Norman, others questioned LIV Golf’s Saudi financing and said Congress should not spend time intervening in a business dispute between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour. LIV Golf and seven of its golfers have sued the PGA Tour, saying it violated antitrust laws, allegations the Justice Department is also reportedly probing.
House Passes Bill to Prevent Efforts to Subvert Presidential Election Results
MSN – Amy Wang (Washington Post) | Published: 9/21/2022
The House passed an electoral reform bill that seeks to prevent presidents from trying to overturn election results through Congress, the first vote on such an effort since the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob seeking to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral win. The Presidential Election Reform Act would clearly reaffirm the vice president has no role in validating a presidential election beyond acting as a figurehead who oversees the counting process, barring that person from changing the results.
Jan. 6 Committee Reaches Deal with Ginni Thomas for an Interview
MSN – Jacqueline Alemany and Azi Paybarah (Washington Post) | Published: 9/21/2022
The House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection reached an agreement with Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, to be interviewed by the panel in coming weeks. Virginia Thomas, a longtime conservative activist, pushed lawmakers and top Republican officials to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election, citing baseless claims of widespread voter fraud.
Old Money: How retirees are funding and fueling political candidates unlike ever before
Yahoo News – Madison Hall (Business Insider) | Published: 9/20/2022
Retirees are becoming one of the most powerful financial forces in politics as they spend their savings to fuel federal-level campaigns. By the 2020 election cycle, retirees accounted for more than 20 percent of contributions, amounting to more than $378 million. Retirees’ expanded influence coincides with the rapid increase in politicians fundraising by email and text message – and targeting older Americans with never-ending solicitations. Older Americans, many of whom are retired, tend to be more engaged politically and represent a larger share of each party’s base, said Sheila Krumholz, executive director at OpenSecrets.
Senate Republicans Block Bill to Require Disclosure of ‘Dark Money’ Donors
MSN – Amy Wang (Washington Post) | Published: 9/22/2022
Senate Republicans blocked legislation that would have required super PACs and other groups to disclose donors who give $10,000 or more during an election cycle, a blow to Democrats’ efforts to reform campaign finance laws. Spending in election cycles by corporations and the ultrawealthy through so-called dark money groups has skyrocketed since the 2010 Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. FEC, which allowed incorporated entities and labor unions to spend unlimited amounts of money to promote or attack candidates.
The ‘Cost’ of Voting in America: A look at where it’s easiest and hardest
Seattle Times – Nick Corasaniti and Allison McCann (New York Times) | Published: 9/21/2022
A new study ranks all 50 states based on the overall investment a resident must make, in time and resources, to vote. The 2022 edition of the Cost of Voting Index, a nonpartisan academic study that seeks to cut through the politics of voting access, focused on 10 categories related to voting, including registration, inconvenience, early voting, polling hours, and absentee voting. The study’s emphasis on early-voting options meant states like Washington and Oregon, where voting is conducted entirely by mail, ended up at the top of the rankings.
TikTok to Ban Campaign Fundraising, Require Verification for Political Accounts
MSN – Gina Martinez (CBS News) | Published: 9/21/2022
TikTok announced it is banning campaign fundraising on its platform. It also announced new policies for political accounts, including “mandatory verification.” The ban will include videos asking for donations, and videos from political parties directing people to a contribution page on their website. Verification will ensure that anyone watching content belonging to a government, politician, or political party account will know that the account is “genuine” and the source is “authentic.”
Trump Adviser’s Trial May Shed Light on Foreign Influence Campaigns
MSN – Rebecca Davis O’Brien (New York Times) | Published: 9/19/2022
The trial of Thomas Barrack, an informal adviser to former President Trump accused of acting as an unregistered agent of the United Arab Emirates, could shed light on how foreign governments jockeyed for access to the Trump administration, efforts that may have created lucrative opportunities for businesspeople close to the White House. Prosecutors have accused Barrack of using his sway with Trump to advance the interests of the Emiratis and of serving as a secret back channel for communications without disclosing his efforts to the attorney general, as the government contends that he should have.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – 14 AZ Lawmakers Took 9-Day Europe Trip Sponsored in Part by Lobbyists and More Are Coming
MSN – Ray Stern (Arizona Republic) | Published: 9/18/2022
Fourteen Arizona lawmakers took a free trip to Germany recently, where they met government and business officials. Lobbyist firms and taxpayers funded the lawmakers’ expenses as part of a state House international relations program. The trip may have had trade benefits, but lawmakers should still take care to avoid the perception they are receiving gifts that could influence their policy making, said John Pelissero of the Markula Center for Applied Ethics. The number of lawmakers and that they could take their spouses seemed excessive to Pelissero, who called the trip a “junket.”
California – Former USC Dean Admits to Arranging Bribery Payment for Mark Ridley-Thomas
Yahoo News – Michael Finnegan and Matt Hamilton (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 9/15/2022
A former University of Southern California dean agreed to plead guilty to bribery, admitting she arranged an illicit $100,000 payment for Mark Ridley-Thomas when he was on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in return for a university contract with the county. Marilyn Flynn’s admission of guilt strikes a major blow to Ridley-Thomas, now a Los Angeles city council member who has been suspended while he defends against federal charges of bribery, fraud, and conspiracy. Flynn’s plea also reduces the likelihood that evidence related to U.S. Rep. Karen Bass, the front-runner in the race for Los Angeles mayor, would get a public airing at trial.
California – Gov. Gavin Newsom Strips Fresno County Supervisors’ Power to Draw Election Lines
Sacramento Bee – Juan Esparza Loera | Published: 9/19/2022
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation to give redistricting duties in Fresno County to a 14-member commission. Assemblyperson Joaquín Arámbula said it was the only way to ensure the Latino community gets a fair chance at political representation after the next census. Arámbula and community organizations said county supervisors cannot be trusted to draw fair and equitable districts because supervisorial districts have changed little despite a spike in Latino population.
California – Legal Pot Spawned a Wave of Corruption, Threats and Secret Financial Deals for Politicians
MSN – Adam Elmahrek, Robert Lopez, and Ruben Vives (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 9/15/2022
California’s decision to legalize recreational cannabis ushered in a multibillion-dollar commercial market that officials in many small, struggling communities hoped would bring new jobs and an infusion of tax revenue. But the advent of commercial marijuana unleashed a wave of corruption that has rocked local governments across the state and left them with few effective tools to combat the problem. The industry has donated campaign money to local government officials as cannabis became a powerful special interest. Lobbyists and others say bribery and shakedowns have become so commonplace in licensing that it feels like a normal part of doing business.
California – Santa Clara Mayor Asks Newsom to Give Campaign Donor a Break
San Jose Spotlight – Joseph Geha | Published: 9/21/2022
Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor lobbied California Gov. Gavin Newsom to help a major real estate firm save money on the largest mixed-use development planned in the state, months before the developer made a six-figure donation to her campaign. Gillmor advocated that Related Companies should not be required to pay prevailing wages to workers. Related formed a local PAC to support Gillmor as she runs for reelection and funded it with $100,000. Executives from the company also donated to Gillmor’s mayoral election campaign in 2018, two years after the project was approved by the city council.
California – Trial of Corruption Case Against California Sheriff to Begin
Yahoo News – Associated Press | Published: 9/21/2022
A longtime San Francisco Bay Area sheriff is on trial on public corruption allegations involving her office’s granting of concealed-carry weapons permits and costly jail mismanagement. The unusual case against Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith is a civil process to seek removal of an elected official but is similar to a criminal case. The trial follows an investigation into allegations that Smith’s office traded concealed weapons permits for donations to her reelection campaign and mismanaged the jails, where mentally ill inmates died or were injured.
Florida – Jury Awards $3 Million to Garbage Contractor in Opa-locka Corruption Lawsuit
MSN – Tess Riski (Miami Herald) | Published: 9/20/2022
A jury awarded a $3 million judgment to a garbage contractor that sued Opa-locka in 2017 alleging corruption and extortion in a city that has for years been plagued with financial and political turmoil. Jurors found the city failed to act in good faith with Universal Waste Services of Florida (UWS). Representatives of UWS made accusations of extortion against former city Commissioner Terence Pinder, who died in an apparent suicide in 2016, two days before he was scheduled to turn himself in on state bribery charges.
Florida – Migrants Flown to Martha’s Vineyard File Class-Action Lawsuit Against DeSantis
MSN – Amy Wang (Washington Post) | Published: 9/20/2022
A group of Venezuelan migrants who were flown from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard – allegedly after being falsely promised work and other services – filed a class-action lawsuit against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and other officials who arranged the flights, saying the officials used fraud and misrepresentation to persuade them to travel across state lines. The migrants are seeking unspecified damages, as well as the cost of their legal fees, for emotional and economic harm.
Georgia – Georgia 2020 Election Inquiry May Lead to Prison Sentences, Prosecutor Says
MSN – Matthew Brown and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) | Published: 9/15/2022
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, the prosecutor investigating efforts by Donald Trump and his allies to challenge the 2020 election results in Georgia, said her team has heard credible allegations that serious crimes have been committed and she believes some individuals may see jail time. At least 17 people have been notified they are targets of the criminal investigation, meaning they could eventually face charges. More targets will be added to the list soon, Willis said.
Georgia – Video Shows Trump Allies Handling Georgia Voting Equipment
Yahoo News – Danny Hakim, Richard Fausset, and Nick Corasaniti (New York Times) | Published: 9/20/2022
Newly released videos show allies of former President Trump and contractors who were working on his behalf handling sensitive voting equipment in a rural Georgia county weeks after the 2020 election. The footage, which was made public as part of litigation over Georgia’s voting system, raises new questions about efforts by Trump affiliates in a number of swing states to gain access to and copy sensitive election software, with the help of friendly local election administrators.
Illinois – State Sen. Emil Jones III Took Bribes from Red-Light Camera Company, Lied to Feds: Charges
WTTW – Heather Cherone | Published: 9/20/2022
Federal prosecutors charged Illinois Sen. Emil Jones III with three felonies, alleging he took a bribe from a firm that installed red-light cameras throughout the state and lied to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents. After being approached by a former executive for Safe Speed, the red-light company, who was cooperating with law enforcement, Jones agreed to limit the scope of his bill to study red-light cameras only in Chicago, where the firm did not operate, prosecutors say. In return, the executive agreed to pay Jones $5,000 and to provide a job to an unidentified associate of Jones.
Maryland – Opinion Says Nash’s Lobbying Violated City Ethics Ordinance
Yahoo News – Ryan Marshall (Frederick News-Post) | Published: 9/16/2022
Frederick Alderwoman Katie Nash violated the city’s ethics rules by lobbying on behalf of a firefighter union’s concerns about county emergency services coverage in the city, an Ethics Commission ruled. Nash, a lobbyist registered with the state, improperly emailed people, including coordinators for various Neighborhood Advisory Councils, encouraging them to raise concerns with the county about plans to shift coverage of paramedic services in parts of the city, according to the opinion. Nash was a paid lobbyist for the International Association of Firefighters Local 3666 when she sent out emails and press releases.
Michigan – Former Macomb Public Works Boss Marrocco Pleads Guilty in Corruption Probe
Yahoo News – Christina Hall (Detroit Free Press) | Published: 9/20/2022
Former Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Anthony Marrocco pleaded guilty to attempted extortion in federal court in a yearslong corruption probe that netted more than 20 other people. Prosecutors alleged he used an aide and others to shake down builders and contractors for donations to his fundraisers. If they did not contribute, the indictment said, Marrocco retaliated by holding up building permits, denying payment to vendors, and refusing to award contracts to firms. The charge to which he pleaded guilty carries up to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000.
Michigan – Here’s the Punishment for Warren Councilman Who Handcuffed Woman over BLM Stickers
Yahoo News – Christina Hall (Detroit Free Press) | Published: 9/19/2022
Warren City Councilperson Edward Kabacinski pleaded no contest to disturbing the peace and was sentenced to one-year probation for his actions toward a woman at a rally for then-President Trump. Kabacinski was charged in October 2020 with assault and battery and impersonating a police officer when he chased a woman and handcuffed her after she put a Black Lives Matter sticker on a Trump sign during a protest. Kabacinski claimed he is a former military police officer and federal law allows him to detain those who breach the peace or break the law. The woman was not facing criminal charges.
New Hampshire – New Hampshire GOP Senate Nominee Abruptly Backs Off False 2020 Election Claims
MSN – Gregory Krieg and Dan Merica (CNN) | Published: 9/15/2022
U.S. Senate candidate Don Bolduc won the Republican nomination in New Hampshire after months campaigning on false claims the 2020 election was stolen from former President Trump. A little more than a day after the primary, he attempted an about-face. “I’ve come to the conclusion, and I want to be definitive on this: the election was not stolen,” Bolduc said. He is not the only GOP candidate who has tried to temper, or erase, hardline positions as the general-election environment starts to look less favorable for the party.
New Jersey – When George Gilmore’s Public Work Dried Up, an Ally Gave His Wife a Job with Engineering Firm
Yahoo News – Matt Friedman (Politico) | Published: 9/19/2022
When Ocean County Republican Party Chairperson George Gilmore was convicted on three federal tax charges in 2019, it did not just cost him his political leadership post. His work with public entities also dried up. Gilmore’s now-defunct law firm, Gilmore & Monahan, had made between $2 million and $3 million in public contracts annually between 2012 and 2018. He resigned from another job at the lobbying firm 1868 Public Affairs. But after Gilmore’s conviction, a political ally founded Morgan Municipal Services, a new division to expand the firm’s work in the public sector. It counted Gilmore’s wife as one of its three founding partners.
New Mexico – NM Senator Defends His Reputation While Policy Silences the People Accusing Him of Misconduct
Source NM – Shaun Griswold | Published: 9/19/2022
New Mexico Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto said the sexual harassment complaint filed against him is closed. But outrage continues to grow, as everyone involved calls for reform of statehouse procedures shrouded in secrecy. The lobbyist who came forward with the initial complaint says her First Amendment rights have been violated because of the confidentiality rules about who is allowed to speak about the matter publicly. After the findings in the misconduct investigation were leaked, Ivey-Soto contacted the FBI about what he says is extortion.
New York – Donald Trump, 3 of His Children Accused of Business Fraud by New York AG
MSN – Shayna Jacobs and Jonathan O’Connell (Washington Post) | Published: 9/21/2022
New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit accusing Donald Trump, three of his grown children, and executives at his company of manipulating asset valuations to deceive lenders, insurance brokers, and tax authorities into giving them better loan and insurance policy rates and reduce their tax liability. The complaint asks the state Supreme Court to bar the former president, Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Eric Trump from serving as executives at any company in New York, and to bar the Trump Organization from acquiring commercial real estate or receiving loans from a New York-registered financial institution for five years.
New York – Executive Threw Hochul Fundraiser Weeks Before Landing $637M Deal
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 9/20/2022
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul maintains that when her administration paid a vendor $637 million last winter for COVID-19 tests, she was unaware the recipient was a campaign donor. Yet a month before the administration struck the deals, the company’s founder threw an in-person campaign fundraiser for Hochul. The deal was enabled by the governor’s revived suspension of competitive bidding rules for the administration’s purchase of COVID-19 supplies. Through an emergency executive order, Hochul suspended those rules four days after the fundraiser.
Oregon – Oregon’s Nonaffiliated Candidates Face Long Odds Making It onto the Ballot
Oregon Capital Chronicle – Julia Shumway | Published: 9/20/2022
Democratic and Republican candidates in Oregon pay a fee ranging from $25 to $150 and fill out a two-page form to compete in a primary. Minor party candidates are nominated separately by their parties, through conventions or party-run primaries. But non-affiliated candidates must collect petition signatures from hundreds or thousands of voters, depending on the office. Efforts to change Oregon’s election system are again afoot, with a coalition launching its petition drive for a constitutional amendment to open primaries. Nearly 41 percent of Oregon voters are ineligible to vote in primaries because they are nonaffiliated or registered with a minor party.
Oregon – Portland Elections Program Hits Council Candidate Rene Gonzalez with $77,000 Fine for Discounted Office Space
OPB – Rebecca Ellis | Published: 9/21/2022
Portland City Council hopeful Rene Gonzalez was fined for accepting and failing to report a steep discount on rent on his campaign office. The $77,000 fine, the biggest ever issued by the city’s Small Donor Elections program, stems from an unreported in-kind contribution Gonzalez is accused of accepting from the company, which is owned by Jordan Schnitzer, who personally gave $250 to Gonzalez in May. Program Director Susan Mottet said a normal tenant would have been asked to pay $6,900 per month for the over 3,000 square feet of space. Since May, Gonzalez’s campaign only had to pay $250 per month.
Pennsylvania – Philly’s Board of Ethics Voted to Close a Loophole that Super PACs Use to Get Instructions from Campaigns
MSN – Sean Collins Walsh (Philadelphia Inquirer) | Published: 9/21/2022
The Philadelphia Board of Ethics voted to ban the strategy known as “redboxing,” in which candidates send indirect signals to independent expenditure campaigns like super PACs that can raise unlimited amounts of money but are not allowed to coordinate with campaigns. Candidates do that by publicly stating the strategic needs of their campaigns, and some in recent federal elections have put those instructions in red boxes on their campaign websites to guide super PACs buying advertisements on their behalf. The statements use lightly coded language to inform the PACs on what the campaign wants.
Pennsylvania – Skill Games Company Woos Pa. Lawmakers with Trips to Wild Wyoming Rodeo
Spotlight PA – Angela Couloumbis | Published: 9/19/2022
This past summer, a select group of Pennsylvania legislators, including House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, got to experience the Cheyenne Frontier Days, the premier summer festival in Wyoming that bills itself as the world’s largest outdoor rodeo and Western celebration, courtesy of Pace-O-Matic. The company makes skill games that currently generate millions of dollars in revenue and, in Pennsylvania, operate in a legal and regulatory gray area, one the Legislature will play a key role in defining. For some of the lawmakers, it was an all-expenses-paid experience.
South Dakota – Ethics Board Keeps ‘Action’ Secret on Complaint Against Noem
MSN – Stephen Groves (Associated Press) | Published: 9/20/2022
The Government Accountability Board will not publicly disclose the “appropriate action” it took after finding evidence South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem intervened with a state agency to influence her daughter’s application for a real estate appraiser license. The board found there was evidence Noem engaged in a conflict-of-interest and malfeasance. A lawyer hired by the board, Mark Haigh, responded to an open records request by saying the board’s response would remain “confidential.” The board has never handled such a high-profile case since its inception in 2017.
Virginia – Virginia Rule on Legislators Leaving Districts Could Add More Intrigue to 2023 Elections
Virginia Mercury – Graham Moomaw | Published: 9/22/2022
After past redistricting cycles, the number of Virginia General Assembly members having to switch districts was kept to a minimum because legislators were allowed to draw careful lines around each other’s homes to avoid doing damage to incumbents. That was not the case last year, when experts appointed by the Virginia Supreme Court effectively reset the state’s legislative maps with little regard for keeping incumbents comfortably installed in conflict-free seats. That means an unusually high number of legislators are facing the prospect of moving to position themselves for the next election cycle.
Virginia – Youngkin’s Restriction on Trans Students’ Rights Is Probably Illegal, Experts Say
MSN – Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) | Published: 9/21/2022
A directive from Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin for public schools to restrict the rights of transgender students is either unenforceable or will be struck down in court because it appears to violate both state and federal law, experts and advocates said. The model policies require schools to categorize transgender children by their “biological sex” when it comes to using the bathroom, locker room, and other facilities and participating in activities. They also bar students from adopting a new name or pronouns without parental permission.
September 22, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “TikTok to Ban Campaign Fundraising, Require Verification for Political Accounts” by Gina Martinez (CBS News) for MSN Elections Oregon: “Oregon’s Nonaffiliated Candidates Face Long Odds Making It onto the Ballot” by Julia Shumway for Oregon Capital Chronicle […]
National: “TikTok to Ban Campaign Fundraising, Require Verification for Political Accounts” by Gina Martinez (CBS News) for MSN
Oregon: “Oregon’s Nonaffiliated Candidates Face Long Odds Making It onto the Ballot” by Julia Shumway for Oregon Capital Chronicle
National: “Appeals Court: Justice Dept. can use Mar-a-Lago documents in criminal probe” by Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “Trial of Corruption Case Against California Sheriff to Begin” by Associated Press for Yahoo News
Florida: “Migrants Flown to Martha’s Vineyard File Class-Action Lawsuit Against DeSantis” by Amy Wang (Washington Post) for MSN
Michigan: “Former Macomb Public Works Boss Marrocco Pleads Guilty in Corruption Probe” by Christina Hall (Detroit Free Press) for Yahoo News
New York: “Trump, Company and Family Members Sued by New York AG Over Alleged Fraud Scheme” by Josh Gerstein, Erin Durkin, and Kyle Cheney (Politico) for Yahoo News
Virginia: “Youngkin’s Restriction on Trans Students’ Rights Is Probably Illegal, Experts Say” by Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) for MSN
Florida: “Jury Awards $3 Million to Garbage Contractor in Opa-locka Corruption Lawsuit” by Tess Riski (Miami Herald) for MSN
September 12, 2022 •
The Missouri Office of Administration announced restrictions on public access to bid documents in order to comply with the Personal Privacy Protection Act, established by the passage of Senate Substitute for House Bill 2400. The act prohibits public agencies from […]
The Missouri Office of Administration announced restrictions on public access to bid documents in order to comply with the Personal Privacy Protection Act, established by the passage of Senate Substitute for House Bill 2400.
The act prohibits public agencies from requiring any 501(c) entity to share the identities of donors, volunteers, or supporters and closes any public agency record or list containing the identity of supporters.
The Office of Administration removed all bid and contract records from MissouriBUYS and the document portal.
New contract awards will be reviewed and redacted to ensure compliance before posting. Older records will be reviewed and redacted before being reposted.
September 9, 2022 •
National/Federal ‘Fat Leonard’ Goes on the Lam Weeks Before Sentencing in Navy Bribery Scandal Portland Press Herald – María Luisa Paúl (Washington Post) | Published: 9/6/2022 The Malaysian defense contractor who pleaded guilty to bribing Navy officials with sex parties, fancy […]
‘Fat Leonard’ Goes on the Lam Weeks Before Sentencing in Navy Bribery Scandal
Portland Press Herald – María Luisa Paúl (Washington Post) | Published: 9/6/2022
The Malaysian defense contractor who pleaded guilty to bribing Navy officials with sex parties, fancy dinners, and alcohol in a corruption scandal has escaped just weeks before his sentencing date. Leonard Francis, also known as “Fat Leonard,” fled while under house arrest in San Diego. A search by the San Diego Regional Fugitive Task Force and Naval Criminal Investigative Service is underway, officials said. “He cut off his GPS monitoring bracelet on Sunday morning,” the U.S. Marshals Service announced. “Task Force Officers went to his residence and upon arrival noticed the house was now vacant.”
FEC Approves Rule to Remove Candidate Loan Repayment Restrictions
OpenSecrets – Taylor Giorno | Published: 9/1/2022
The FEC approved an interim final rule that removes regulations that previously restricted the repayment of personal loans candidates made to their campaigns. In May, the Supreme Court ruled that existing candidate loan repayment restrictions were unconstitutional. Under the old rules, campaigns could raise money after election day to repay candidate loans up to $250,000 up to 20 days after the election.
From Border Town to ‘Border Town,’ Bused Migrants Seek New Lives in D.C. Area
MSN – Antonio Olivo (Washington Post) | Published: 9/7/2022
More than 230 buses carrying nearly 9,400 migrants, including young children, have arrived in the District of Columbia since Texas Gov. Greg Abbott began offering free passage to the city with Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey following suit. Buses from Texas have also started heading to New York and Chicago. The governors are using the busloads of migrants as a political statement about what they have called lax border policies. But for many of those who have accepted the rides, any political gamesmanship has been irrelevant. The buses have turned into a welcomed opportunity for migrants to get to their preferred destinations.
House Committee Reaches Deal to get Trump Financial Records
Yahoo News – Kevin Freking (Associated Press) | Published: 9/1/2022
A U.S. House committee seeking financial records from former President Trump reached an agreement that ends litigation on the matter and requires an accounting firm to turn over some of the material. The case began in April 2019, when the House Committee on Oversight and Reform first subpoenaed records from Trump’s then-accounting firm, Mazars USA. The committee cited testimony from Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, that it said raised questions about the president’s representation of his financial affairs when it came to seeking loans and paying taxes.
In Voter Fraud, Penalties Often Depend on Who’s Voting
Yahoo News – Michael Wines (New York Times) | Published: 9/6/2022
A review by The New York Times of some 400 voting fraud charges filed nationwide since 2017 underscores what critics of fraud crackdowns have long said: actual prosecutions are rare events and often netted people who did not realize they were breaking the law. Punishment can be wildly inconsistent. Most violations draw wrist slaps, while a few high-profile prosecutions produce draconian sentences. Penalties often fall heaviest on those least able to mount a defense. Those who are poor and Black are more likely to be sent to jail.
In Washington, Agricultural Policymakers Circulate Among Farm Bureau, USDA and Industry
Investigate Midwest – Madison McVan | Published: 8/24/2022
Reporting and more than 100 pages of emails obtained by Investigate Midwest shed light on the movement of agriculture policy leaders between government, industry, and the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF). Terri Moore, vice president of communications for AFBF, said Dale Moore, executive vice president of the group, and Sam Kieffer, the organization’s top lobbyist, likely had communication with Joby Young during his time at as chief of staff for the secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Young took over as AFBF executive vice president following a stint at a consulting firm.
Jan. 6 Committee Asks Former Speaker Newt Gingrich to Sit for Interview
MSN – Jacqueline Alemany and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 9/1/2022
The House select committee investigating the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol issued a request to interview former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. The request cited evidence showing Gingrich was in communication with senior advisers to ex-President Trump, including Jared Kushner and Jason Miller, regarding television advertisements that amplified false claims about fraud in the 2020 election. The panel also said it obtained evidence suggesting Gingrich was involved in the fake elector plot designed to encourage Vice President Mike Pence and members of Congress to affect the outcome of the joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021.
Judge’s Special-Master Order a Test of Trump’s Post-White House Powers
MSN – Ann Marimow and Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 9/6/2022
Justice Department lawyers are weighing whether to challenge a federal judge’s uncommon order to appoint an independent reviewer, called a special master, to assess more than 11,000 documents seized by the FBI from Donald Trump’s Florida residence. At issue are untested legal questions about the extent to which assertions of executive privilege can be applied to a former president. Legal experts called U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon’s decision problematic because it upends the usual course of a criminal investigation and suggests there are different rules for a former president.
Material on Foreign Nation’s Nuclear Capabilities Seized at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago
MSN – Devlin Barrett and Carol Leonnig (Washington Post) | Published: 9/6/2022
A document describing a foreign government’s military defenses, including its nuclear capabilities, was found by FBI agents who searched former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and private club, according to people familiar with the matter, underscoring concerns among U.S. intelligence officials about classified material stashed at the Florida property. Some of the seized documents detail top-secret U.S. operations so closely guarded that many senior national security officials are kept in the dark about them.
Tory Peer Broke Lobbying Rules, Whitehall Watchdog Finds
The Guardian – Henry Dyer | Published: 9/6/2022
A Conservative hereditary peer breached lobbying rules in the United Kingdom by failing to register as a consultant lobbyist before contacting ministers on behalf of his client. The Office of the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists announced the outcome of its investigation into the Earl of Shrewsbury, whose full name is Charles Henry John Benedict Crofton Chetwynd Chetwind-Talbot, and his company Talbot Consulting. The earl remains under investigation by the House of Lords for allegedly misusing his parliamentary position to lobby for SpectrumX.
From the States and Municipalities
Arkansas – Ex-Deputy Chief of Staff for Hutchinson Asks to Rescind Registration as a Lobbyist
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette – Michael Wickline | Published: 9/7/2022
Bill Gossage, the former deputy chief of staff for external operations for Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, said he asked the secretary of state’s office to rescind his August registration as a registered lobbyist. Gossage is vice president of governmental affairs for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas. State law bars an individual employed in the office of the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer, auditor, or commissioner of state lands from being eligible to be registered as a lobbyist until one year after the expiration of the individual’s employment in that office.
Florida – Jury Finds Seminole GOP Chair Guilty in ‘Ghost’ Candidate Case
Yahoo News – Annie Martin (Orlando Sentinel) | Published: 9/1/2022
Seminole County Republican Party Chairperson Ben Paris was found guilty of a scheme to siphon votes from a Democrat in a Florida Senate race. Prosecutors say Jestine Iannotti ran as an independent candidate but did not campaign and had no previous political experience. Iannotti illegally accepted a $1,200 cash donation from political consultant James Foglesong. Iannoitti and Foglesong falsely used the names of others as contributors in campaign finance reports to skirt Florida laws on donations.
Georgia – Election Deniers Repeatedly Visited Ga. County Office at Center of Criminal Probe, Video Shows
Portland Press Herald – Emma Brown and Jon Swaine (Washington Post) | Published: 9/6/2022
Technology consultants who sought evidence that Donald Trump’s 2020 defeat was fraudulent made multiple visits to a county elections office in rural Georgia in the weeks after an alleged post-election breach of voting equipment that is the subject of a criminal investigation. Surveillance video shows the consultants, Doug Logan and Jeffrey Lenberg, made two visits in January 2021 to the elections office in Coffee County. Lenberg made an additional five visits on his own. The two men are under investigation for separate alleged breaches of voting machines in Michigan.
Georgia – Judge Again Rejects Graham Bid to Throw Out Subpoena in Atlanta-Area Trump Probe
MSN – Kyle Cheney (Politico) | Published: 9/1/2022
A federal judge for the second time rejected U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s effort to block a grand jury subpoena issued by the Atlanta-area district attorney investigating former President Trump and his allies’ effort to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia. District Court Judge Leigh Martin May ruled Graham’s claim to be immune from such questioning, thanks to the protections of the so-called speech or debate clause of the Constitution is not as sweeping as he claimed it to be. The ruling sends the matter back to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Illinois – Political Operative Tied to Ald. Daniel Solis Probe Pleads Guilty to Fraud
MSN – Jason Meisner (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 9/2/2022
Roberto Caldero, a political operative at the center of the investigation into former Ald. Daniel Solis, pleaded guilty to variety of fraud schemes, including an attempt to influence a massive Chicago Public Schools janitorial contact, and using the alderman’s clout to solicit campaign cash and get a park and street renamed for a donor’s relatives. There was new mention in the plea agreement of an elected official, identified only as Public Official A, whom Caldero enlisted to pressure then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel to support the awarding of the janitorial contract to a company Caldero represented.
Indiana – Contractor Avoids Prison, Ordered to Pay Sanitary District $104K
Yahoo News – Douglas Walker (Muncie Star Press) | Published: 9/6/2022
A contractor avoided a prison sentence after pleading guilty to a fraud-related count stemming from a federal investigation of corruption in Muncie city government. But Rodney Barber was ordered to pay $104,750 in restitution to the Muncie Sanitary District (MSD). He admitted paying Phil Nichols, a former Democratic Party chairperson, $5,500 in cash in exchange for winning a contract to do work for the district. Barber also acknowledged giving MSD official Tracy Barton $5,000 in cash to “illegally contribute” to then-Mayor Dennis Tyler’s re-election campaign.
Louisiana – New Orleans’ ‘Night Mayor’ Fails to Respond to State Ethics [Board] After Trying to Rule on Conflict
LocalToday – Ben Myers (New Orleans Times-Picayune) | Published: 9/6/2022
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell named Howlin’ Wolf nightclub owner Howard Kaplan as the first director of the city’s new Office of Nighttime Economy. When Cantrell was asked about potential ethical issues in hiring a nightclub owner to manage the city’s nighttime economy, she cited a pending opinion from the Louisiana Board of Ethics to argue “there is no conflict-of-interest here.” But an ethics board attorney, Mallory Guillot, now says Kaplan has not responded to “numerous” attempts to contact him with additional questions about his dual role as city official and business owner.
Massachusetts – Maura Healey to Face Trump-Backed Republican in Deep-Blue Massachusetts
MSN – Annie Linskey and David Weigel (Washington Post) | Published: 9/6/2022
Maura Healey, who made history as the country’s first openly gay state attorney general, will face former state legislator Geoff Diehl, who was endorsed by Donald Trump, in the Massachusetts governor’s race this November, a contest seen by analysts as one of the best chances for Democrats to flip control of a Republican-held seat. If she prevails in the fall, Healey would be the first woman elected governor of Massachusetts. Democratic primary voters in also picked a nominee for attorney general in a race that divided the two U.S. senators and other party leaders in the state.
Michigan – Michigan Sheriff Sought to Seize Multiple Voting Machines, Records Show
Reuters – Peter Eisler and Nathan Layne | Published: 8/30/2022
A sheriff in Barry County, Michigan, already under state investigation for alleged involvement in an illegal breach of a vote-counting machine, sought warrants in July to seize other machines to prove former President Trump’s claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election, documents showed. A member of the so-called constitutional sheriffs movement, which holds sheriffs have supreme law enforcement authority within their counties, exceeding that of state and federal agencies, Leaf has appeared at events around the country organized by proponents of Trump’s rigged election claims.
Nevada – Police Arrest County Official in Reporter’s Stabbing Death
Las Vegas Review-Journal – David Ferrara, Briana Erickson, and Glenn Puit | Published: 9/7/2022
A Las Vegas-area elected official was arrested as the suspect in the fatal stabbing of a veteran newspaper reporter who had written articles exposing complaints of wrongdoing at his office. Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles was taken into custody hours after investigators served a search warrant in the criminal probe of the killing of Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Jeff German. Soon after German’s investigation was published, Telles failed in his re-election bid, losing the Democratic primary in June.
New Mexico – New Mexico Bars Commissioner from Office for Insurrection
MSN – Morgan Lee (Associated Press) | Published: 9/6/2022
A New Mexico judge ordered convicted Capitol rioter Couy Griffin to be removed from his county commissioner seat, ruling the Cowboys for Trump founder’s involvement in the January 6, 2021, insurrection disqualified him from holding public office. Judge Francis Matthew formally labeled the Capitol attack as an insurrection and found Griffin’s involvement fell under the so-called Disqualification Clause of the 14th Amendment, which bars anyone from holding office if they took an oath to uphold the Constitution and then “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” or gave “aid or comfort” to insurrectionists.
New York – Former Trump Adviser Steve Bannon Charged with Defrauding Border Wall Donors
Yahoo News – Aaron Katersky (ABC News) | Published: 9/8/2022
Steve Bannon, a onetime political adviser to former President Trump, was charged by authorities in New York with defrauding donors to the We Build the Wall fundraising campaign for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The indictment charges Bannon and We Build the Wall itself with two counts of money laundering. There are additional felony counts of conspiracy and scheme to defraud. The state charges resemble federal charges for which Bannon received a pardon from Trump and allege Bannon and We Build the Wall defrauded 430 Manhattan-based donors out of $33,600.
New York – How a Hochul Donor Received $637M in State Payments
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 9/8/2022
Last December, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s administration received an offer to buy 26 million at-home coronavirus tests from a distributor that happened to be a major campaign donor to the governor. The price offered by Digital Gadgets founder Charlie Tebele was $13 per test, far steeper than what other companies were proposing for similar rapid antigen tests. Hochul’s administration had just approved a deal with another firm to buy 5 million tests for just five dollars each. Still, the Hochul administration quickly agreed to pay $338 million to Digital Gadgets at the higher per-test price.
New York – Panel Rejects 3 of the 10 Nominees to New York’s New Ethics Body
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 9/2/2022
A panel tasked with reviewing nominations to New York’s new ethics and lobbying oversight panel rejected three out of ten nominations, while confirming seven others. One of those rejected was Gary Lavine, an outspoken former commissioner on the state’s prior ethics body. the Joint Commission on Public Ethics. Lavine’s rejection appears the most likely to set up a legal battle over a key aspect of the new law that established the Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government.
Ohio – Akron Organizers Turn to the Ballot Box for Civilian Oversight of Police
Ohio Capital Journal – Nick Evans | Published: 9/7/2022
A proposed ballot measure in Akron establishing civilian oversight for the police department comes on the heels of the police killing of Jayland Walker, a Black man shot nearly 50 times by Akron officers after fleeing a traffic stop. The amendment to the city charter would establish a new citizen review board with oversight of the city’s existing police auditor. The proposal also expands the auditor’s office and directs city council to spell out in statute what information the auditor can demand from the department. Organizers have turned in 7,000 petition signatures. That is more than two and a half times what they need.to get it on the November ballot.
Ohio – Redistricting: One year later, Ohio a unique, flawed case
Ohio Capital Journal – Susan Tebben | Published: 9/2/2022
One year after the saga of redistricting began, Ohio is seen as a unique case study in the legal strategies and flaws that can emerge in the process. A series of meetings of the Ohio Redistricting Commission were held, where the elected officials who constituted the commission interpreted and re-interpreted a constitutional amendment more than 70 percent of voters had approved to reform the redistricting. One year, five legislative map proposals and two congressional redraws later, the state will hold a general election in November with maps that have been ruled unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court.
Oklahoma – Why Most Oklahoma State Legislative Races Are Uncontested
Oklahoma Watch – Keaton Ross | Published: 9/6/2022
Nearly 70 person of Oklahoma’s state legislative elections will be decided without a single vote cast in November. In 2018, nearly 75 percent of House and Senate races included candidates from at least two parties. Oklahoma now ranks among the nation’s least competitive states for legislative races. Without competitive local races, voters are more likely to become disengaged or feel alienated, studies have found. The same can happen to lawmakers who are not making their case to voters. A Georgetown University study found state legislators who run unopposed are less effective and engaged with constituents.
Oregon – Tina Kotek Wins Over Potential Rival with Embrace of Campaign Finance Changes
OPB – Dirk VanderHart | Published: 9/7/2022
Oregon gubernatorial candidate Tina Kotek removed one potential obstacle in the race. In private discussions, Kotek committed to using her position to advocate for some specific campaign finance regulations if elected governor. With that commitment, and a newly added policy platform on her website, a notable competitor for left-leaning votes has now stepped down. Nathalie Paravicini, running for governor under the banners of the Oregon Progressive Party and Pacific Green Party, filed a form withdrawing her candidacy. Oregon is one of a handful of states that place no limit on how much campaigns can raise and spend.
Tennessee – Registry of Election Finance to Audit Humble for Potential Illegal Coordination with PAC-Like Group
Tennessee Lookout – Sam Stockard | Published: 9/7/2022
The Tennessee Registry of Election Finance is set to audit former state Senate candidate Gary Humble to determine whether his campaign illegally coordinated with his nonprofit organization Tennessee Stands. Registry board member Tom Lawless raised questions about Tennessee Stands, which has a 501(c)(4) federal tax status, and whether it is operating as a PAC without registering with the state. Humble is executive director of the organization, which is intertwined with his political activity.
Texas – Appeals Court Sides with Texas Ethics Commission Over Lobbying Fine Against GOP Activist Michael Quinn Sullivan
MSN – Taylor Goldenstein (Houston Chronicle) | Published: 9/1/2022
An appeals court upheld a Texas Ethics Commission fine levied against conservative activist Michael Quinn Sullivan. He registered as a lobbyist from 2001 to 2009 but did not in 2010 and 2011. The court found Sullivan, acting on behalf of Empower Texans in 2010 and 2011, had lobbied state lawmakers. The judges dismissed Sullivan’s arguments that the commission was unconstitutionally exercising both legislative and executive branch powers. They reversed the trial court’s judgment on the amount of the fine – $10,000 – saying Sullivan is owed a jury trial on that question.
Washington – Data Shows How Well Seattle’s Democracy Voucher Program Is Working
Seattle Times – Gene Balk | Published: 9/2/2022
Seattle’s novel “democracy voucher” program for funding local elections is attracting attention. “… It could revolutionize local elections,” said Brian McCabe of Georgetown University, the co-author of a new study on the program. The study found the democracy voucher program does appear to be living up to its name by helping to democratize political giving in Seattle by diversifying the donor pool to better reflect the city’s population. It also found the rate of participation in the program rose most significantly among Black, Hispanic, and young voters, groups that have historically been underrepresented in the campaign finance system.
Washington – Washington State Judge Rules Facebook Violated Campaign Finance Rules
MSN – Naomi Nix (Washington Post) | Published: 9/2/2022
A judge ruled Facebook owner Meta repeatedly and intentionally violated Washington’s campaign finance law and must pay penalties. King County Superior Court Judge Douglass North said Facebook, which last year renamed itself Meta, repeatedly broke the state’s law requiring technology platforms make information about political ads available for public inspection in a “timely manner.” North also denied Meta’s attempt to invalidate the state’s decades-old law. The ruling arrives as Meta faces scrutiny over how much information it discloses about the way candidates use marketing campaigns on its networks.
Wisconsin – Ginni Thomas Pressed Wisconsin Lawmakers to Overturn Biden’s 2020 Victory
MSN – Emma Brown (Washington Post) | Published: 9/1/2022
Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the conservative activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, pressed lawmakers to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 victory not only in Arizona, as previously reported, but also in a second battleground state, Wisconsin, according to emails. Ginni Thomas emailed 29 Arizona lawmakers in in November and December 2020. She urged them to set aside Biden’s popular-vote victory and “choose” their own presidential electors. The new emails show she also messaged two Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin: state Sen. Kathy Bernier, then chair of the Senate elections committee, and state Rep. Gary Tauchen.
August 26, 2022 •
National/Federal An Unusual $1.6 Billion Donation Bolsters Conservatives Seattle Times – Kenneth Vogel and Shane Goldmacher (New York Times) | Published: 8/22/2022 A new conservative group received $1.6 billion from one donor, which among the largest – if not the largest […]
An Unusual $1.6 Billion Donation Bolsters Conservatives
Seattle Times – Kenneth Vogel and Shane Goldmacher (New York Times) | Published: 8/22/2022
A new conservative group received $1.6 billion from one donor, which among the largest – if not the largest – single contributions ever made to a politically focused nonprofit. The source of the money was Barre Seid, an electronics manufacturing mogul. The beneficiary is a nonprofit controlled by Leonard Leo, an activist who has used his connections to Republican donors and politicians to help engineer the conservative dominance of the Supreme Court and to finance battles over abortion rights, voting rules, and climate change policy.
Ex-Interior Secretary Zinke Lied to Investigators in Casino Case, Watchdog Finds
MSN – Lisa Rein and Anna Phillips (Washington Post) | Published: 8/24/2022
Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, the leading contender to win a new U.S. House seat representing Montana this fall, lied to investigators several times about conversations he had with federal officials, lawmakers, and lobbyists about a petition by two Indian tribes to operate a casino in New England, the department’s watchdog said. Investigators concluded that when questioned about his talks with Interior attorneys and others outside the department, Zinke and his then-chief of staff failed to comply with their “duty of candor” as public officials to tell the truth, the report said.
Federal Campaign Spending on Childcare Expenses Grows in 2022 Midterms
OpenSecrets – Taylor Giorno | Published: 8/17/2022
Federal candidates are on track to spend more money on childcare ahead of 2022 midterms than in either of the previous two election cycles. For the first time since the FEC approved the expense in 2018, men are driving the increase in childcare expenditures. U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell’s campaign spent more money on childcare than any other male federal candidate this election cycle as of June 30. A record number of mothers were sworn into Congress in 2019. But an analysis shows fewer women are using federal funds to cover childcare expenses this election cycle.
Files Copied from Voting Systems Were Shared with Trump Supporters, Election Deniers
MSN – Jon Swaine, Aaron Davis, Amy Gardner, and Emma Brown (Washington Post) | Published: 8/22/2022
Sensitive election system files obtained by attorneys working to overturn former President Trump’s 2020 defeat were shared with election deniers, conspiracy theorists, and right-wing commentators. A computer forensics firm hired by the attorneys placed the files on a server, where company records show they were downloaded dozens of times. The records include contracts between the firm and the Trump-allied attorneys, notably Sidney Powell. The data files are described as copies of components from election systems in Coffee County, Georgia, and Antrim County, Michigan.
‘It’s a Rip-Off’: GOP spending under fire as Senate hopefuls seek rescue
MSN – Isaac Arnsdorf (Washington Post) | Published: 8/19/2022
Republican U.S. Senate hopefuls are getting crushed on airwaves across the country while their national campaign fund is pulling ads and running low on cash, leading some campaign advisers to demand an audit of the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s (NRSC) finances. The NRSC canceled bookings worth about $10 million. A spokesperson said the NRSC is not abandoning those races but prioritizing ad spots that are shared with campaigns and benefit from discounted rates. Still, the cancellations forfeit cheaper prices that came from booking early, and better budgeting could have covered both.
Justice Dept. Memo to Not Charge Trump in Russia Probe Released
MSN – Devlin Barrett and Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) | Published: 8/24/2022
The Justice Department released the entire text of a secret 2019 memo that laid out the legal rationale for not charging then-President Trump with committing obstruction of justice in the investigation into whether Russia interfered in the 2016 election. The memo says no potential instances of obstruction of justice by Trump that were cited by special counsel Robert Mueller III’s “would warrant a prosecution for obstruction of justice,” regardless of whether the person being investigated was a sitting president.
New Claims Against Ex-Miami Congressman Hired by Venezuela
Yahoo News – Joshua Goodman (Associated Press) | Published: 8/20/2022
Former U.S. Rep. David Rivera, who signed a $50 million consulting contract with Venezuela’s socialist government, not only did no apparent work, but also channeled a large chunk of the money to a yacht company on behalf of a fugitive billionaire, according to new allegations in a civil suit. Rivera’s Interamerican Consulting was sued by PDV USA, a Delaware-based affiliate of Venezuelan-owned Citgo. It alleges Rivera performed no work for the $50 million contract he signed in 2017 for three months of “strategic consulting” meant to build bridges with key U.S. stakeholders.
Rep. Cawthorn Tells Feds He Forgot About $236K; Sends Amended Campaign Finance Report
Yahoo News – Joe Burgess (Asheville Citizen-Times) | Published: 8/22/2022
Days after filing a mandatory federal campaign finance document whose month-late arrival could garner him more than $17,000 in fines, U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn has filed another document saying he got the first report wrong. That is because he forgot about the $235,566 that he personally gave the campaign, the latest report says. While amendments such as the one Cawthorn filed are not uncommon, ones that show large changes can trigger FEC action, said FEC spokesperson Mills Martin. “What is part of the amendment that might be looked at by the FEC are what the changes are and what the additional amounts are,” Martin said.
Republicans Turn Against League of Women Voters
ProPublica – Megan O’Matz | Published: 8/18/2022
The League of Women Voters, known for focusing on voter registration, hosting debates, and conducting candidate surveys, has been more visible recently in advocating for issues like racial equity and abortion rights. As a result, the league is drawing criticism in ways that are extraordinary for the once-staid group. Republicans are pushing back, casting it as a collection of angry leftists. With more right-leaning candidates snubbing the league, voters are less likely to hear directly from those candidates in unscripted forums. That pushback sidelines the league at a time when misinformation has become a significant force in elections at every level.
Some Companies’ Political Spending Fuel Voter Suppression. Shareholders are Pushing Back
Fast Company – Kathryn Kranhold (Capital & Main) | Published: 8/25/2022
Shareholders are pressuring some of the largest American corporations to account for political spending that may be aiding voter suppression or election interference. In the past, shareholder activism has focused mostly on corporate-responsibility causes, such as environmental issues and pay equity between men and women as well as governance like executive pay. The newest movement, addressing threats to democracy, is gaining traction.
Trump Had More Than 300 Classified Documents at Mar-a-Lago
Yahoo News – Maggie Haberman, Jodi Kantor, Adam Goldman, and Ben Protess (New York Times) | Published: 8/22/2022
The initial batch of documents retrieved by the National Archives from former President Trump in January included more than 150 marked as classified, a number that ignited concern at the Justice Department and helped trigger the investigation that led FBI agents to search Mar-a-Lago seeking to recover more, people briefed on the matter said. In total, the government has recovered more than 300 documents with classified markings from Trump since he left office. The volume of the sensitive material found in Trump’s possession helps explain why the Justice Department moved so urgently to hunt down any further classified materials he might have.
Trump Kept More Than 700 Pages of Classified Documents, Letter from National Archives Says
Minneapolis Star Tribune – Alan Feuer (New York Times) | Published: 8/23/2022
Donald Trump took more than 700 pages of classified documents, including some related to the nation’s most covert intelligence operations, to his private club and residence in Florida when he left the White House, according to a letter the National Archives sent to his lawyers. The letter described the alarm in the Justice Department as officials realized how serious the documents were. It also suggested top prosecutors and members of the intelligence community were delayed in conducting a damage assessment about the documents’ removal as Trump’s lawyers tried to argue some of them might have been protected by executive privilege.
White Coats in the State Capital: OB-GYNs become political force in abortion wars
Yahoo News – Alice Miranda Ollstein and Megan Messerly (Politico) | Published: 8/22/2022
Physicians, many of whom have never mobilized politically, are banding together in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, lobbying state lawmakers, testifying before committees, forming PACs, and launching online campaigns against proposed abortion restrictions. Lawmakers who are physicians are using their medical backgrounds to persuade colleagues to scale back some of the more restrictive and punitive portions of anti-abortion laws being considered. The new groups’ early successes in some of the nation’s most conservative states signal the power they hope to wield in the coming months as well as in years to come.
Canada – Ethics Investigation Flags Problem with Transparency in Alberta’s Lobbyist Act
MSN – Hamdi Issawi (Edmonton Journal) | Published: 8/22/2022
One of Alberta’s rules for registering lobbyists needs to change “to promote public transparency” according to a recent investigation by the province’s office of the ethics commissioner. The office began an investigation in May to determine whether Mark Kuspira, the owner of a business known as Crush Imports, had breached the Lobbyists Act – specifically whether he failed to appropriately file a return with the lobbyist registry, and whether he had been lobbying without a filed return.
From the States and Municipalities
Alaska – Ranked Choice Voting, in First Test in Alaska, Is Already Under Attack
Yahoo News – Nathaniel Herz (Anchorage Daily News) | Published: 8/17/2022
Alaskans went to the polls on August 16 for the first time using a new ranked choice system that is already under attack by a number of the politicians competing within it, and voters, in interviews, offered wide-ranging reviews. Many said they like the new system and called it intuitive. But there was also anger from voters across the political spectrum, even though much of the criticism of ranked choice has so far come from conservatives who assert it was set up to protect incumbent U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski from right-wing challengers.
Arizona – Court Battles Rage Over 3 Arizona Voter Initiatives
MSN – Bob Christie (Associated Press) | Published: 8/15/2022
Proponents of three voter initiatives who each turned in hundreds of thousands of signatures to qualify them for the November ballot are trying to beat back legal challenges that could prevent them from going before voters. Two of the measures – one requiring disclosure of who is funding political campaigns and another rolling back or blocking efforts by Republicans to tighten voting rules – are being challenged by pro-business groups. They alleged paid petition circulators made errors or omitted required information on their registrations with the secretary of state or petitions.
Arkansas – Court Tosses Arkansas Law Limiting Election Helpers
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette – Doug Thompson | Published: 8/23/2022
A 2009 Arkansas law forbidding one person from acting as translator for more than six voters in casting their ballots violates the federal Voting Rights Act, U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Brooks ruled. A provision of the 1965 law allows voters who require assistance because of an inability to read or write to get assistance from a person of the voter’s choice, Brooks said. His order told state and county election officials to cease trying to enforce the six-person limit and strike all mention of it from election materials.
Arkansas – Settlement Requires Arkansas Senator to Unblock Critics
MSN – Andrew DeMillo (Associated Press) | Published: 8/17/2022
Arkansas Sen. Jason Rapert will be required to unblock critics from his social media accounts under a settlement a national atheists’ group. Rapert is required to remove any restrictions on his social media accounts and will have to pay more than $16,000 to American Atheists for costs related to a lawsuit. Rapert said he is the founder and president of the National Association of Christian Lawmakers, which works to “restore the Judeo-Christian foundations of our government.”
California – California Targets Local Recall Election ‘Hyperpartisanship’
MSN – Don Thompson (Associated Press) | Published: 8/23/2022
Democratic lawmakers moved to limit the “hyperpartisanship” they said has increasingly corrupted California’s local recall elections, over the objection of Republicans who said it could boost costs and thwart voters’ will. Currently, voters generally decide whether to recall a sitting official and choose that official’s replacement at the same time and on the same ballot. But that could result in a replacement taking office with a minority of votes in a multi-candidate field, and with potentially fewer votes than the official who is ousted.
California – Judge Issues Order That Keeps Herb Wesson Off the L.A. City Council
MSN – David Zahniser (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 8/23/2022
A judge barred former Los Angeles City Councilperson Herb Wesson from returning to City Hall as a temporary fill-in for council member Mark Ridley-Thomas for at least two months, leaving his district without a voting representative. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California has argued Wesson is barred under the city’s term limit law from returning to the council while Ridley-Thomas fights corruption charges. Wesson served more than three terms, the maximum allowed, before being appointed to the temporary post earlier this year.
California – This Former L.A. Politician Took Cash in Envelopes. Now He’s Been Fined $79,830
MSN – David Zahniser (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 8/17/2022
Five years ago, Los Angeles City Councilperson Mitchell Englander took a fateful trip to Las Vegas with a clutch of businesspeople and city staffers, accepting a free hotel room, expensive liquor, and an envelope containing $10,000, among other things. That trip eventually led to a 14-month prison sentence for Englander. The city Ethics Commission voted recently to levy a $79,830 penalty against him for violating gift laws. Commission investigators concluded Englander far exceeded the city’s limits on gifts to public officials, failed to fully report those gifts, and misused his position as a council member.
Florida – DeSantis’s New Election Crimes Unit Makes Its First Arrests
MSN – Lori Rozsa and Tim Craig (Washington Post) | Published: 8/18/2022
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the first arrests made by the state’s new elections police force – twenty people previously incarcerated for murder or sexual assault who he said had illegally voted in the 2020 election. The Florida Legislature passed a bill creating the Office of Election Crimes and Security earlier this year at DeSantis’s behest. While the 2020 election went smoothly in Florida – DeSantis called it the “gold standard” for elections – the governor has said there are still issues and conservative lawmakers have sought to further tighten voting regulations.
Florida – Judge Blocks Florida’s ‘Stop Woke Act’ Restrictions for Private Companies
MSN – Tim Craig (Washington Post) | Published: 8/18/2022
A federal judge ruled that a Florida law restricting workplace bias or diversity training violates the First Amendment and cannot be enforced. U.S. District Court Judge Mark Walker said Florida has turned “the First Amendment upside down” by trying to regulate how employers train employees on topics such as racial inclusion and gender equity. The “Stop Woke Act” prohibits trainings in public schools, colleges and universities, and workplaces that may cause someone to feel guilty or ashamed about the past collective actions of their race or sex. A violation of the act is an offense under state anti-discrimination laws.
Georgia – Georgia PSC Elections Again Delayed After High Court Ruling
MSN – Jeff Amy (Associated Press) | Published: 8/19/2022
Two Georgia Public Service Commission elections will not occur this November, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, reversing an earlier appeals court ruling that allowed them to proceed. Instead, the justices reverted to the original decision by a federal judge in Atlanta that postponed the vote after finding that electing the five commissioners statewide illegally diluted Black votes. The Supreme Court ruled U.S. District Court Judge Steven Grimberg’s decision did not come too close to the election.
Georgia – Sen. Graham Gets Temporary Reprieve in Testifying Before Ga. Grand Jury
MSN – Amy Wang and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) | Published: 8/21/2022
A federal appeals court has temporarily paused an order that would have required U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham to testify before a Georgia grand jury investigating Republican efforts to reverse the 2020 presidential election results in the state. The legal maneuvering is the latest sign of tension between prosecutors and high-profile witnesses in the Fulton County district attorney’s expansive criminal probe of alleged election interference by former President Trump and his allies. After seeking repeated delays, Rudy Giuliani testified for six hours recently.
Michigan – Jury Convicts Adam Fox, Barry Croft Jr. in Whitmer Kidnapping Plot
MSN – Tresa Baldas (Detroit Free Press) | Published: 8/23/2022
In a do-over for the government, a federal jury convicted two men charged with plotting to kidnap and kill Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer out of anger over her handling of the pandemic, ending a trial that highlighted the growth of violent extremism in America. Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr. were convicted on all counts and face up to life in prison. The men were judged by a second, more diverse jury than in the first trial, which ended with no convictions for the government. Two men were acquitted in that trial and the jury deadlocked on charges against Fox and Croft Jr., triggering a mistrial that prompted the government to try again.
Missouri – Ex-St. Louis Alderman John Collins-Muhammad Admits Federal Corruption Charges
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Joel Currier | Published: 8/23/2022
Former St. Louis Alderman John Collins-Muhammad pleaded guilty in a federal bribery case against him and two other ex-city officials. He admitted to theft or bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds, racketeering, and wire fraud. Collins-Muhammad is the first of three ex-council members to plead guilty after being indicted on charges of accepting cash bribes from a local businessperson in exchange for tax breaks. He admitted accepting $7,000 in cash, $3,000 in campaign donations, a new iPhone 11, and a 2016 Volkswagen CC sedan in exchange for his help.
New Jersey – Car Insurance Bills Shine Spotlight on Lawmaker Ethics
New Jersey Monitor – Sophie Nieto-Munoz | Published: 8/23/2022
In New Jersey’s part-time Legislature, lawmakers are often involved in legislation related directly to their full-time careers. Often these votes generate little controversy, especially if the bills pass with wide support. While watchdogs might voice concerns about conflicts-of-interest, lawmakers say their day jobs offer an insider’s knowledge that helps them better shape potential policy. But sometimes public policy can lead to financial windfalls. That is why questions are swirling about whether two top lawmakers will financially benefit from a package of bills Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law recently.
New York – Lobbyists Navigate a More Civil Yet Nuanced Landscape in Albany
City & State – Tim Murphy | Published: 8/22/2022
For a decade, and until only about a year ago, lobbyists, advocates, consultants, and others seeking to influence Albany all feared one thing: the wrath of then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his close advisors. Dealing with Cuomo’s inner circle was never pleasant, according to lobbyists, but cross them and they would lash out. In the past year with Gov. Kathy Hochul, they said that has changed.
North Carolina – N.C. Attorney General Can’t Be Charged with Crime Over Campaign Ad – Yet
MSN – Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) | Published: 8/24/2022
An appeals court temporarily blocked an investigation into North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein over a negative campaign ad, saying the state law he is accused of violating is probably unconstitutional. The debate turns on a 1931 law that criminalized the publication of a “derogatory” campaign ad, “knowing such report to be false or in reckless disregard of its truth or falsity.” A grand jury is investigating whether Stein lied during his successful 2020 reelection campaign in an ad blaming his Republican rival for a backlog of untested rape kits. Even if the ad was false, Stein argued, it would be protected under current First Amendment doctrine.
Ohio – Cleveland Businessman Tony George Was Go-Between for FirstEnergy, Ex-House Speaker Larry Householder Over Nuclear Bailout
MSN – Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 8/22/2022
New documents reveal a close relationship between Cleveland restaurateur Tony George and FirstEnergy in the House Bill 6 bribery scheme, with George acting as an intermediary between top company officials and now-indicted former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder. Tracy Aston, FirstEnergy’s assistant controller, identified George as “Individual B” in the utility’s deferred prosecution agreement with federal authorities. The agreement says “Individual B” was in communication with now-fired FirstEnergy Chief Executive Officer Chuck Jones about an early effort to bail out two nuclear power plants, as well as an aborted effort by Householder to skirt state term limits.
Ohio – The Hidden Role of a Religious Lobbying Group in Ohio’s Education ‘Backpack Bill’
Ohio Capital Journal – Zurie Pope | Published: 8/24/2022
An Ohio bill that would send public education money to private schools if a student chooses to attend one was written with help from religious lobbying group the Center for Christian Virtue (CCV) and a think tank that promotes charter schools. Documents reveal CCV’s involvement in House Bill has been more extensive than previously known and included the advice and promotion of outside groups like Heritage Action and the American Legislative Exchange Council.
Pennsylvania – Philly’s Board of Ethics Will Consider Banning Super PAC ‘Redboxing’ Ahead of the 2023 Mayoral Race
Philadelphia Inquirer – Sean Collins Walsh | Published: 8/17/2022
The Philadelphia Board of Ethics heard testimony on whether it should tighten rules aimed at preventing campaigns from indirectly communicating with political groups that can raise and spend money in unlimited amounts but are prohibited from coordinating with candidates. A proposed amendment that aims to crack down on a new strategy known as “redboxing” that some candidates for federal office have used to give instructions to supportive outside spending groups without communicating with them directly. But election lawyers say the wording of the amendment is too broad and could unintentionally capture normal campaign messaging.
South Dakota – SD Gov. Kristi Noem May Have ‘Engaged in Misconduct,’ Ethics Board Says
NBC News – Associated Press | Published: 8/23/2022
The South Dakota Government Accountability Board said it found sufficient information that Gov. Kristi Noem may have “engaged in misconduct” when she intervened in her daughter’s application for a real estate appraiser’s license, and it referred a separate complaint over her airplane use to the state attorney general for investigation. She is under scrutiny from the board after Jason Ravnsborg, the former attorney general, filed complaints that stemmed from media reports on Noem’s actions in office. The governor has denied any wrongdoing.
Tennessee – Former Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada, Cade Cothren Plead Not Guilty to Federal Corruption Charges
MSN – Melissa Brown and Adam Friedman (Tennessean) | Published: 8/23/2022
Former Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada and his onetime chief of staff, Cade Cothren, were arrested on federal corruption charges including bribery, kickbacks, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Prosecutors allege the pair ran a shadowy political consulting firm fronted by Cothren to solicit General Assembly business and siphon off kickbacks. Casada is the first current or former House speaker to be indicted in state history. He resigned as speaker amid a texting scandal over sexually explicit and racist conversations with Cothren.
Texas – Election Staff Abruptly Quits, Upending Rural Texas County
MSN – Paul Weber (Associated Press) | Published: 8/22/2022
Part of why Terry Hamilton says he abruptly left his job running elections in Gillespie County, Texas, is by now a familiar story in America – he became fed up with the harassment that followed the 2020 election. But this was no ordinary exit. On the brink of November’s midterm elections, it was not just Hamilton who quit but also the only other full-time election worker. The sudden emptying of an entire local elections department came less than 70 days before voters start casting ballots.
Texas – One Former and One Current State Rep Are Set to Get Part of Lucrative Houston Airport Contracts
AviationPros – Dylan McGuinness (Houston Chronicle) | Published: 8/18/2022
The Houston City Council passed a lucrative contract granting food and beverage shops inside Bush Intercontinental Airport to a partnership that includes a former legislative colleague and longtime friend of Mayor Sylvester Turner. The city said it will publicly announce the vendors after the second contract passes City Council. An affiliate of SSP Group is leading the food and beverage contract. Multiplex Inc., the concessions company founded by former state Rep. Helen Giddings of Dallas, is a junior partner in that deal. The SSP deal also involves Karen Garcia, the wife of Roland Garcia, who chaired the city’s Hispanic Advisory Council for Turner.
Texas – Texas Bans Local, State Government Entities from Doing Business with Firms That ‘Boycott’ Fossil Fuels
Texas Tribune – Mitchell Ferman | Published: 8/24/2022
Texas banned 10 financial firms from doing business with the state after Comptroller Glenn Hegar said they did not support the oil and gas industry. Hegar sent inquiries to hundreds of financial companies earlier this year requesting information about whether they were avoiding investments in the oil and gas industry in favor of renewable energy companies. The survey was a result of a new law that went into effect in September and prohibits most state agencies, as well as local governments, from contracting with firms that have cut ties with carbon-emitting energy companies.
Washington – ‘Gold Standard’ or Unconstitutional? Facebook and Wash. State AG Spar Over Political Ad Disclosure Law
MSN – Todd Bishop (GeekWire) | Published: 8/16/2022
Facebook parent company Meta and Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson agree on this: the state’s campaign advertising disclosure law is exceptional. But is that good or bad – and more importantly, is the law constitutional? That is a matter of significant disagreement as both sides prepare for a key hearing in King County Superior Court in Seattle. It promises to be a pivotal moment in a long-running dispute over the state’s public disclosure requirements for tech platforms that run campaign ads.
Wyoming – Secretary of State Halts Unusual Effort to Put Candidate on Ballot Against Gray
Casper Star-Tribune – Victoria Eavis | Published: 8/23/2022
The Wyoming secretary of state’s office quashed an effort to put an independent challenger on the ballot to run against state Rep. Chuck Gray, the Republican secretary of state nominee. After Sen. Cale Case challenged the secretary of state’s interpretation of a statute that requires all independent candidates to sign off on their own candidacy, the chief elections office ruled against him. Case was attempting to get former legislator Nathan Winters on the ballot as an independent, despite the fact that Winters does not want to run.
August 22, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Pennsylvania: “Philly’s Board of Ethics Will Consider Banning Super PAC ‘Redboxing’ Ahead of the 2023 Mayoral Race” by Sean Collins Walsh for Philadelphia Inquirer Washington: “‘Gold Standard’ or Unconstitutional? Facebook and Wash. State AG Spar Over Political Ad […]
Pennsylvania: “Philly’s Board of Ethics Will Consider Banning Super PAC ‘Redboxing’ Ahead of the 2023 Mayoral Race” by Sean Collins Walsh for Philadelphia Inquirer
Washington: “‘Gold Standard’ or Unconstitutional? Facebook and Wash. State AG Spar Over Political Ad Disclosure Law” by Todd Bishop (GeekWire) for MSN
Georgia: “Georgia PSC Elections Again Delayed After High Court Ruling” by Jeff Amy (Associated Press) for MSN
National: “Judge Signals He’s Willing to Unseal Some of Mar-a-Lago Affidavit” by Josh Dawsey and Perry Stein (Washington Post) for MSN
Arkansas: “Settlement Requires Arkansas Senator to Unblock Critics” by Andrew DeMillo (Associated Press) for MSN
California: “This Former L.A. Politician Took Cash in Envelopes. Now He’s Been Fined $79,830” by David Zahniser (Los Angeles Times) for MSN
Florida: “Judge Blocks Florida’s ‘Stop Woke Act’ Restrictions for Private Companies” by Tim Craig (Washington Post) for MSN
Texas: “One Former and One Current State Rep Are Set to Get Part of Lucrative Houston Airport Contracts” by Dylan McGuinness (Houston Chronicle) for AviationPros
August 5, 2022 •
National/Federal A Right-Wing Think Tank Claimed to Be a Church. Now, Members of Congress Want to Investigate. ProPublica – Andrew Suozzo | Published: 8/2/2022 Forty members of Congress asked the IRS and the Treasury Department to investigate what the lawmakers termed […]
A Right-Wing Think Tank Claimed to Be a Church. Now, Members of Congress Want to Investigate.
ProPublica – Andrew Suozzo | Published: 8/2/2022
Forty members of Congress asked the IRS and the Treasury Department to investigate what the lawmakers termed an “alarming pattern” of right-wing advocacy groups registering with the tax agency as churches, a move that allows the organizations to shield themselves from some financial reporting requirements and makes it easier to avoid audits. The representatives raised transparency concerns following a ProPublica story about the Family Research Council, a right-wing Christian think tank based in Washington, D.C., getting reclassified as a church.
Campaign Finance Watchdog Alleges WinRed Processed Billions in Political Contributions Without Disclosing Operating Expenses
OpenSecrets – Taylor Giorno | Published: 7/29/2022
Online Republican fundraising platform WinRed may have failed to fully disclose operating expenses, the Campaign Legal Center alleges in a new FEC complaint. The self-described “#1 fundraising technology used by conservatives” reported less than $2,700 in operating expenses since January 2019 despite processing over $2.8 billion in earmarked contributions, and $212 million in contribution refunds, during that period, according to the complaint.
Ex-White House Counsel Subpoenaed by Federal Grand Jury Investigating Jan. 6 Attack
ABC News – Katherine Faulders, John Santucci, and Alexander Mallin | Published: 8/2/2022
A federal grand jury subpoenaed former Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone in its investigation into the assault on the U.S. Capitol and efforts to overturn the 2020 election. The move to subpoena Cipollone signals an even more dramatic escalation in the Justice Department’s investigation of the attack than previously known, following appearances by senior members of former Vice President Mike Pence’s staff before the grand jury.
First Jan. 6 Defendant Convicted at Trial Receives Longest Sentence of 7 Years
MSN – Spencer Hsu and Tom Jackman (Washington Post) | Published: 8/1/2022
The first U.S. Capitol riot defendant convicted at trial was sentenced to more than seven years in prison, the longest punishment handed down to date over the January6, 2021, attack on Congress. Guy Reffitt, a recruiter for the right-wing Three Percenters movement in Texas, was convicted of five felony offenses, including obstruction of Congress as it met to certify the 2020 election result, interfering with police, and carrying a firearm to a riot, and threatening his teenage son, who turned him in to the FBI.
Hot Mic Captured Gaetz Assuring Stone of Pardon, Discussing Mueller Redactions
Anchorage Daily News – John Swaine and Dalton Bennett (Washington Post) | Published: 7/30/2022
As Roger Stone prepared to stand trial in 2019, complaining he was under pressure from federal prosecutors to incriminate Donald Trump, a close ally of the president repeatedly assured Stone “the boss” would likely grant him clemency if he were convicted, a recording shows. U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz predicted Stone would be found guilty at his trial but would not “do a day” in prison. Gaetz was apparently unaware they were being recorded by documentary filmmakers following Stone, whom special counsel Robert Mueller had charged with obstruction of a congressional investigation.
Jan. 6 Text Messages Wiped from Phones of Key Trump Pentagon Officials
CNN – Tierny Sneed and Zachary Cohen | Published: 8/2/2022
The Department of Defense (DOD) wiped the phones of top departing DOD and Army officials at the end of the Trump administration, deleting any texts from key witnesses to events surrounding the attack on the U.S. Capitol. American Oversight filed a Freedom of Information suit seeking the records from former acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller, former chief of staff Kash Patel, and former Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy, among others. Miller, Patel, and McCarthy have been viewed as crucial witnesses for understanding government’s response to the assault and former President Trump’s reaction to the breach.
Justice Department Details Threats Against Election Workers
Associated Press News – Marina Villeneuve | Published: 8/3/2022
The U.S. Justice Department has charged five people for making threats of violence against election workers amid a rising wave of harassment and intimidation tied to the 2020 presidential race, a top official told the Senate Judiciary Committee. Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite said the department has investigated more than 1,000 harassing and threatening messages directed at election workers. Roughly 100 of those have risen to the level of potential prosecution.
Russian National Charged with U.S. Political Influence Operation
MSN – Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 7/29/2022
Federal authorities charged a Russian man with a years-long malign influence campaign targeting American politics – alleging he used American groups in Florida, Georgia, and California to sow discord and push pro-Russia propaganda. Aleksandr Viktorovich Ionov, who lives in Moscow, worked for nearly eight years with Russian officials to fund and direct the U.S. groups, according to the indictment. It does not name the groups, but charges Ionov also advised the campaigns of two unidentified candidates in Florida.
Secret Service’s ‘Ludicrous’ Deletion of Jan. 6 Phone Data Baffles Experts
MSN – Drew Harwell, Will Oremus, and Joseph Menn (Washington Post) | Published: 7/29/2022
Cybersecurity experts and former government leaders are stunned by how poorly the Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security handled the preservation of officials’ text messages and other data from around January 6, 2021, saying the top agencies entrusted with fighting cybercrime should never have bungled the simple task of backing up agents’ phones. Experts are divided over whether the disappearance of the phone data is a sign of incompetence, an intentional coverup, or some murky middle ground. But the failure has raised suspicions about the disposition of records whose preservation was mandated by federal law.
Several Election Deniers Backed by Trump Prevail in Hotly Contested Primaries
MSN – Hannah Knowles (Washington Post) | Published: 8/3/2022
Several election deniers backed by former President Trump prevailed in closely watched primaries on August 2, as a nationwide battle over the future of the GOP played out in state and federal races across five states. Primaries in these states as well as Kansas and Washington kicked off a final series of intraparty contests before the midterms that will determine control of Congress in the fall. It was unclear what the totality of the primaries would reveal about the influence of Trump and his ideas, with key contests yet to be settled.
The GOP Went to War Against Google Over Spam – and May Win
MSN – Isaac Stanley-Becker and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 7/29/2022
Many Republican lawmakers contend Google is suppressing the party’s campaign solicitations. Republicans have waged a pressure campaign that has included public Twitter offensives and private discussions with Google executives. The effort’s impact became apparent when Google asked the FEC to approve a pilot program that would exempt campaign emails from spam detection. The amount of political fundraising conducted over email and text has exploded in recent years, adding to the deluge of promotional messages swamping Americans every day. The full-court press drew on the GOP’s protest that Silicon Valley is biased against conservatives, a claim disputed by the companies.
The RNC ‘Election Integrity’ Official Appearing in DOJ’s Jan. 6 Subpoenas
MSN – Betsy Woodruff Swan (Politico) | Published: 7/30/2022
In addition to a group of former President Trump’s top lawyers, the Justice Department’s January 6 probe is also seeking communications to and from a Republican National Committee (RNC) staffer in a sensitive role. At least three witnesses in the investigation of so-called alternate electors in the 2020 election have received subpoenas demanding communications to and from Joshua Findlay, who is now the RNC’s national director for election integrity.
U.S. Sues Former Trump Aide Peter Navarro Over White House Emails
MSN – Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 8/3/2022
Peter Navarro, the former Trump economic adviser already facing trial on charges of contempt of Congress, was sued by the government over his refusal to turn over private emails he allegedly used to conduct White House business during the Trump administration. The lawsuit charges he “is wrongfully retaining Presidential records that are the property of the United States, and which constitute part of the permanent historical record of the prior administration.”
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – Arizona Officials Warned Fake Electors Plan Could ‘Appear Treasonous’
MSN – Maggie Haberman and Luke Broadwater (New York Times) | Published: 8/3/2022
Two Arizona Republicans recruited by allies of former President Trump to join an effort to keep him in office after he lost the 2020 election grew so concerned about the plan that they told lawyers working on it that they feared their actions could be seen as treason, according to emails. The scheme was part of a broader plan to falsely manufacture a victory for Trump by creating fake slates of electors in battleground states who would claim he had been the true winner. Some of the lawyers who undertook the effort doubted its legality.
California – Alameda County Sued by Anti-Affirmative Action Group Over Public Contracts Policy
MSN – Joseph Geha (Bay Area News Group) | Published: 7/31/2022
Alameda County’s efforts to ensure minority-owned and women-owned businesses get a share of public construction contracts violate the U.S. and California Constitution, according to a lawsuit. Plaintiffs say the county’s Public Works Agency and its General Services Agency both oversee similar programs that “force general contractors to discriminate against subcontractors” if they are not minority owned. The programs, which push contractors working on many projects to have at least 15 percent of the work done by minority-owned businesses and at least five percent done by women-owned businesses, amount to “government-sanctioned racial discrimination.”
California – Is It Too Easy for Write-In Candidates in California Elections?
CalMatters – Sameea Kamal | Published: 7/28/2022
In California elections, it only takes a handful of signatures and votes for legislative write-in candidates to get on the November ballot. While some candidates might spend millions of dollars or months campaigning, California’s top-two primary system means that in races with only one other candidate, it is possible for a write-in candidate to sneak into second place with very little support. For the June 7 primary, state Assembly and Senate candidates needed as few as 40 people to sign nomination papers to qualify as write-in candidates. No matter how few votes they won, as long as they finished in second, they advanced to the November election.
California – L.A. City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas Sues City Hall, Seeking to Restore His Pay
MSN – David Zahniser (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 7/28/2022
Los Angeles City Councilperson Mark Ridley-Thomas filed a lawsuit seeking to have a judge strike down the city’s decision to cut off his pay while he fights federal corruption charges. In his filing, Ridley-Thomas called the decision by City Controller Ron Galperin to terminate his pay and health benefits “unauthorized, unlawful and politicized.” Ridley-Thomas said he is barred under city law from seeking outside income while he fights the charges. He also contends that Galperin’s actions violated the City Charter.
California – SF Arts Commission Director Used Grant Money for a Hawaii Vacation
San Francisco Examiner – Thomas Hughes (Bay City News Foundation) | Published: 8/2/2022
A former director of the San Francisco Arts Commission was fined $20,000 after she admitted diverting grant money to finance a personal vacation in Hawaii. The grant had been intended for a local Native and Indigenous artist and was awarded to fund a short documentary exploring pre-colonial connections across the Pacific. Instead, the money was used by former arts director Barbara Mumby-Huerta to pay travel expenses to Hawaii for herself, her daughter, and a friend, a trip in which no work was ever produced.
Connecticut – Connecticut Port Authority Reveals Which Employees Accepted Gifts
Yahoo – Greg Smith (The Day) | Published: 8/1/2022
At the request of two state senators, the Connecticut Port Authority (CPA) has released the names of its employees that improperly accepted gifts from a company vying for authority business. Former Executive Director Evan Matthews and Andrew Lavigne, the CPA’s current manager of business development and special projects, each received a $625 ticket from Seabury Maritime Capital to a May 2019 National Hockey League playoff game in Boston along with food and beverages from a restaurant.
Florida – Ethics Panel Hearing Set for Bristol City Clerk Who Allegedly Left IOUs for City Cash
Yahoo News – Karl Etters (Tallahassee Democrat) | Published: 8/1/2022
A state ethics panel found probable cause for a complaint against Bristol’s city clerk that alleges she left IOU notes for money she took from the cash drawer in City Hall. The panel recommended a formal public hearing for City Clerk Robin Hatcher. Deputy City Clerk Nichole Day said she saw Hatcher take $200 from the city’s cash drawer and replace it with a slip of paper “stating she had taken cash and would repay it later,” according to the complaint. Hatcher said she intended to donate $200 of her own money to the high school weightlifting team but didn’t have a chance to get to the bank, taking city money instead.
Florida – Florida Power & Light Operates an Exclusive, Invite-Only Lounge for Lawmakers and Lobbyists
MSN – Matt Dixon and Bruce Ritchie (Politico) | Published: 8/2/2022
Florida Power & Light operates an event space located on the third floor of the company’s Tallahassee offices. The exclusive lounge is used by company officials to host lobbyists and the lawmakers whose votes they need, according to sources. Revelations of the party space come as the utility is mired in scandals over its aggressive approach to lobbying and public advocacy. State Rep. Anna Eskamani said the energy company’s exclusive lounge raises concerns it is illicitly influencing lawmakers and violating the state’s gift ban and open meetings laws.
Florida – Intrigue Grows in Florida’s ‘Ghost’ Candidate Case as Prosecutors Seek More Info
Bradenton Herald – Ana Ceballos (Miami Herald) | Published: 7/30/2022
Prosecutors subpoenaed records related to a $600,000 money transfer between “dark money” organizations tied to an ongoing Miami-Dade County criminal case surrounding “ghost candidates” in the 2020 election. The transfer is adding a new layer of intrigue to a years-long question into who paid for thousands of political mail advertisements to promote sham no-party candidates in three contested Florida races that were key to helping solidify the Republican majority in the state Senate.
Florida – Judge Candidate Says Ivey Offered to Help Secure Appointment If She Dropped Out of Race
Yahoo News – Eric Rogers and Bobby Block (Florida Today) | Published: 8/3/2022
In the weeks since two Republican candidates said Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey offered to securer them political jobs worth up to $50,000 a year if they left their races and backed his favored contenders, the election meddling controversy has widened. Now, another candidate has come forward, saying Ivey also tried to interfere in her race for county judge and offered to help secure her a spot as the county’s next state attorney if she agreed to drop out of the contest.
Georgia – Georgia Ethics Board Moves Forward Against Abrams-Linked Groups
MSN – Margaret Newkirk (Bloomberg) | Published: 8/1/2022
Georgia’s ethics commission will move ahead with a case against two groups founded by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, saying it was likely they violated campaign finance law by helping her first run for governor four years ago. The ruling paves the way for a final hearing and decision that could bring the biggest ethics fine in state history, just as the rematch between Abrams and Republican Governor Brian Kemp moves into its final three months.
Illinois – Ex-Speaker Michael Madigan’s Pension Payments Balloon as Judge Grants Defense Until Next Year to File Motions in Racketeering Case
MSN – Ray Long and Jason Meisner (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 8/3/2022
As a federal judge granted a lengthy extension for Michael Madigan’s racketeering case, the former Illinois House speaker’s state pension has risen to nearly $149,000 a year, a more than $63,000 increase since he retired last year. The windfall is the result of both Madigan’s 50-plus years in the House and an often-beneficial state pension formula for lawmakers that Madigan himself helped push through. It also comes as the former lawmaker continues to battle a federal bribery-related case that will likely not see any significant court action until next year.
Illinois – Federal Lawsuit Challenges New Limits on Contributions to Illinois Judicial Candidates
MSN – Dan Petrella (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 8/3/2022
A federal lawsuit challenges the restrictions on campaign contributions to judicial candidates in Illinois on First Amendment grounds. Democrats in the Legislature passed a bill last year that bars judicial candidates from receiving campaign money from out-of-state contributors and groups that do not disclose their donors. This year, lawmakers banned donations in excess of $500,000 per election cycle from a single source to independent expenditure committees set up to support or oppose judicial candidates.
Kansas – Kansans Resoundingly Reject Amendment Aimed at Restricting Abortion Rights
MSN – Annie Gowan and Colby Itkowitz (Washington Post) | Published: 8/2/2022
Kansas voters sent a resounding message about their desire to protect abortion rights, rejecting a ballot measure in a conservative state with deep ties to the anti-abortion movement that would have allowed the Republican-controlled Legislature to tighten restrictions or ban the procedure outright. The results bolster Democrats’ hopes that the historic U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade will animate their voters in an otherwise difficult election year for their party. The vote signals abortion is an energizing issue that could affect turnout in the November midterms.
Kentucky – Louisville Candidates Got New Ethics Rules. Why Weren’t They Followed?
WDRB – Marcus Green | Published: 7/29/2022
Metro Council approved sweeping changes to Louisville’s ethics rules in March, broadening what must be reported by candidates for key offices and other top elected and appointed officials. Once the ordinance took effect March 8, it gave candidates in the May primaries until April 30 to file the new financial disclosures with the city’s ethics commission. But that did not happen. The ethics commission ultimately extended the filing deadline until after the primary, a decision that made the disclosures a non-factor for voters and campaigns alike.
Louisiana – Karen Carter Peterson Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud. She Will Be Sentenced on Dec. 7
NOLA.com – Tyler Bridges and Gordon Russell | Published: 8/1/2022
Karen Carter Peterson pleaded guilty in federal court to defrauding campaign donors, putting an ignominious end to a political career that saw her serve 22 years in the state Legislature and chair the Louisiana Democratic Party for nearly a decade. Prosecutors said Peterson helped herself to about $147,357 in funds that did not belong to her, from both her re-election campaigns and money given to the party. Peterson spent a “substantial amount” of that money at casinos, both “before and after her gambling addiction diagnosis,” according to court documents.
Missouri – How a Trump Endorsement Scramble in Mo. Ended in Absurdity: Vote ‘ERIC’
MSN – Michael Scherer, Ashley Parker, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 8/2/2022
With two words, Donald Trump launched a wild scramble that Republican leaders had hoped to avoid: “sometime today!” the former president wrote on Truth Social declaring his plans endorse in Missouri’s U.S. Senate primary. Trump had not yet decided which candidate to back when he published those words, according to interviews with numerous officials familiar with the chaos that ensued. So began an eight-hour deadline to win over Trump’s favor before primary day, a decision that in the mind of some Republicans could have undermined GOP hopes for taking control of the Senate this fall.
Missouri – St. Louis County Council Ethics Committee Wants Closer Look at Colleague’s Weed Work
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Joe Holleman | Published: 7/30/2022
Not only did a St. Louis County Council committee vote to delve deeper into Councilperson Lisa Clancy’s ties to the marijuana industry, it also widened its scope to include several other larger players involved. The council’s ethics committee said it wants to continue researching whether Clancy violated conflict-of-interest rules in 2019. The specific issue being examined by the committee is that Clancy was paid about $4,500 by a law firm to work on marijuana license applications at the same time she was actively working to influence the county’s zoning ordinance regulating marijuana locations.
New Mexico – Former New Mexico Cannabis Director Joins Private Firm, Raising Ethics Debate
MSN – Carlos Segarra (KRQE) | Published: 8/2/2022
After spending less than a year developing and executing the state’s cannabis rules, New Mexico’s former Cannabis Control Division (CCD) director is joining a private cannabis firm. A consultant agency, Weeds, hired Kristen Thomson, leading some to debate the ethics of the move. Weeds also hired Bobbi Martinez, the former compliance manager for the CCD.
New York – Hochul Campaign Donor Lands Multi-Billion-Dollar State Contract
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 7/31/2022
The New York Department of Health is awarding a multi-billion-dollar transportation contract to a company owned by a significant campaign donor to Gov. Kathy Hochul, who was also the beneficiary of a campaign fundraiser the bidder hosted as the procurement process was nearing its conclusion. Records show Russ Maxwell spent $4,500 to pay for food, catering, and flowers for a Hochul fundraiser. He also gave Hochul an additional $10,000 that day, and his husband, Morgan McDole, gave $20,000. Maxwell donated $10,000 and McDole $20,000 to the state Democratic Party, which is closely aligned with Hochul’s campaign.
Ohio – Feds Ask Judge to Sanction Ex-Lobbyist Charged in House Bill 6 Case for Publishing Key Witness’s Personal Information Online
MSN – Andrew Tobias (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 8/2/2022
Federal prosecutors are asking a judge to sanction an ex-lobbyist charged with bribery in the Ohio House Bill 6 corruption case for using his legal defense website to publish the personal information of a key witness in the government’s case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Singer said Matt Borges’s website, until he removed it, contained unredacted copies of the witness’s Social-Security card, tax forms, and driver’s license. Using the pseudonym “CHS-1” to refer to the witness, Tyler Fehrman, Singer said the incident was an intentional effort by Borges to intimidate and retaliate against Fehrman by exposing him to identity theft.
Ohio – Subpoenaed State Records Detail Former Top Regulator’s Work to Protect Nuclear Bailout
Cleveland Plain Dealer – Andrew Tobias | Published: 8/1/2022
Records the FBI requested last year detail the steps a former top state official took to try to save Ohio’s nuclear bailout law after it was threatened by a federal regulatory decision. The newly released records show how then-Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Chairperson Sam Randazzo traveled to meet executives with Energy Harbor, the owner of the two nuclear plants bailed out by House Bill 6. Randazzo helped set up the meeting hours after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a new rule meant to discourage states from subsidizing their electricity industry, as Ohio had done with House Bill 6.
Pennsylvania – Dr. Oz’s Dark History of Promoting Companies He Was Quietly Invested In
MSN – Sam Brody (Daily Beast) | Published: 8/1/2022
Dr. Mehmet Oz built a national brand on dispensing surprising, and surprisingly simple, remedies for widespread health concerns. In one emblematic case, viewers may have surmised that Oz’s video plugging the probiotic TruBiotics was, essentially, an ad. What they were not aware of, however, is Oz was a member of the board of directors of the brand’s parent company, PanTheryx. He holds a stake in the business worth as much as $1 million. Oz is the Republican nominee for a U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania – Pa. Liquor Control Board Officials Got Dibs on Pappy Van Winkle, Other High-End Bourbon Lottery Leftovers
MSN – Jan Murphy (Pennlive.com) | Published: 8/2/2022
Thousands of Pennsylvanians try their luck at entering the Liquor Control Board’s limited-release lotteries with hopes of getting the chance to buy a bottle of high-end limited quantity wine or spirits. In 2019 and 2020, though, for Liquor Control Board member Michael Negra and four of the agency’s top-level employees, luck was not needed to claim their bottle or two. Negra and the employees were given the chance to buy some of the coveted bottles left over from lotteries before the public even knew there were still bottles up for grabs. A State Ethics Commission investigation found this sharing of confidential information did not violate the law.
Texas – Aide to Houston Mayor Resigns After Reportedly Pleading Guilty to Public Corruption
Houston Public Media – Adam Zuyanich and Haya Panjwani | Published: 8/3/2022
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said neither he nor anyone on his executive staff had prior knowledge of a federal public corruption case involving one of his top aides, who pleaded guilty recently and subsequently resigned. William-Paul Thomas, who has worked as the mayor’s liaison to the city council since before Turner was elected in 2015, admitted to participating in a conspiracy to accept a cash bribe, according to The Houston Chronicle.
Texas – Texas Ethics Commission Wants Funds for Tech Upgrades after Beto O’Rourke Crashes Servers
MSN – Allie Morris (Dallas Morning News) | Published: 8/2/2022
After Beto O’Rourke’s massive fundraising report overwhelmed state servers in July, the Texas Ethics Commission wants $750,000 to upgrade its aging technology ahead of the midterm elections. Without change, the system “will likely fail again” when the next round of campaign finance reports are due in October, commission leaders warned in a letter to the Legislative Budget Board. The issue is coming to a head as campaign finance reports grow ever more voluminous, the letter said, and the commission’s decade-old servers cannot keep up.
Wisconsin – Memo Shows Wis. GOP Lawyer Privately Opposed Decertifying Biden’s 2020 Win
MSN – Patrick Marley (Washington Post) | Published: 8/2/2022
Michael Gableman, a former state Supreme Court justice hired by Republican lawmakers to probe the 2020 election, said in March that Wisconsin should take a “hard look” at canceling Joe Biden’s victory and revoking the state’s 10 electoral college votes. The comment drew applause from a packed hearing room in the state Capitol and praise from former President Trump, whose allies have called for throwing out the results in Wisconsin and other battleground states even though constitutional scholars have scoffed at the notion as absurd. But a newly unearthed memo shows Gableman soon offered a far different analysis in private.
Wisconsin – Wisconsin DOJ Probes Voter Fraud Stunt as Election Officials Debate Absentee Rules
MSN – Patrick Marley (Washington Post) | Published: 7/29/2022
With a few clicks of a mouse, a conservative activist sent Wisconsin’s elections apparatus into disarray ahead of the August 9 primary. Harry Wait said he requested absentee ballots in the names of two high-profile politicians be sent to his own address to try to show voter fraud is easy to perform. The stunt showed one person and a computer or smartphone could jolt the state’s elections system and forced officials to weigh making changes to the state’s absentee voting procedures and whether doing so would make it harder to vote. It also drew the attention of law enforcement.
August 1, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “Campaign Finance Watchdog Alleges WinRed Processed Billions in Political Contributions Without Disclosing Operating Expenses” by Taylor Giorno for OpenSecrets Florida: “Intrigue Grows in Florida’s ‘Ghost’ Candidate Case as Prosecutors Seek More Info” by Ana Ceballos (Miami Herald) […]
National: “Campaign Finance Watchdog Alleges WinRed Processed Billions in Political Contributions Without Disclosing Operating Expenses” by Taylor Giorno for OpenSecrets
Florida: “Intrigue Grows in Florida’s ‘Ghost’ Candidate Case as Prosecutors Seek More Info” by Ana Ceballos (Miami Herald) for Bradenton Herald
Wisconsin: “Wisconsin DOJ Probes Voter Fraud Stunt as Election Officials Debate Absentee Rules” by Patrick Marley (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Hot Mic Captured Gaetz Assuring Stone of Pardon, Discussing Mueller Redactions” by John Swaine and Dalton Bennett (Washington Post) for Anchorage Daily News
Kentucky: “Louisville Candidates Got New Ethics Rules. Why Weren’t They Followed?” by Marcus Green for WDRB
Missouri: “St. Louis County Council Ethics Committee Wants Closer Look at Colleague’s Weed Work” by Joe Holleman for St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Ohio: “Regulators Block Deposition of FirstEnergy’s Former Ethics Chief” by Jake Zuckerman for Ohio Capital Journal
California: “Alameda County Sued by Anti-Affirmative Action Group Over Public Contracts Policy” by Joseph Geha (Bay Area News Group) for MSN
July 19, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Arizona: “AZ Secretary of State Candidate’s Nonprofit Spending Raises Questions” by Mary Jo Pitzl (Arizona Republic) for Arizona Daily News California: “Ex-Compton Councilman Isaac Galvan, Dogged by Election-Rigging Scandal, Faces $240,000 Fine” by Gregory Yee (Los Angeles Times) […]
Arizona: “AZ Secretary of State Candidate’s Nonprofit Spending Raises Questions” by Mary Jo Pitzl (Arizona Republic) for Arizona Daily News
California: “Ex-Compton Councilman Isaac Galvan, Dogged by Election-Rigging Scandal, Faces $240,000 Fine” by Gregory Yee (Los Angeles Times) for Yahoo News
Missouri: “FEC Member Pans Decision Not to Investigate Groups That Helped Elect Greitens in 2016” by Jason Hancock for Missouri Independent
Texas: “AG Ken Paxton Declines to Sue Candidates, Officials Who Owe $700K in Unpaid Campaign Violation Fines” by Taylor Goldsmith (Houston Chronicle) for MSN
National: “Little-Known Lawyer Pitched Trump on Extreme Plans to Subvert Election” by Maggie Haberman and Luke Broadwater (New York Times) for Yahoo News
Washington: “Armed Man Arrested Outside Home of Rep. Jayapal for Alleged Death Threat” by Amy Wang (Washington Post) for MSN
New York: “N.Y. Assemblyman Charles Fall’s Girlfriend Lobbied Him on Various Issues, Prompting Ethics Concerns” by Chris Sommerfeldt (New York Daily News) for MSN
National: “Bipartisan Group Seeks to Limit Who Federal Agencies Can Contract With” by Eric Katz for Government Executive
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
State and Federal Communications, Inc. provides research and consulting services for government relations professionals on lobbying laws, procurement lobbying laws, political contribution laws in the United States and Canada. Learn more by visiting stateandfed.com.