January 14, 2022 •
National/Federal Gaetz’s Ex-Girlfriend Appears Before Grand Jury in Sex Trafficking Probe Seattle Times – Matt Zapotosky (Washington Post) | Published: 1/12/2022 The ex-girlfriend of U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz appeared before a federal grand jury investigating him for possible sex trafficking of […]
Gaetz’s Ex-Girlfriend Appears Before Grand Jury in Sex Trafficking Probe
Seattle Times – Matt Zapotosky (Washington Post) | Published: 1/12/2022
The ex-girlfriend of U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz appeared before a federal grand jury investigating him for possible sex trafficking of a minor, a signal the probe remains active more than a year after it began. Investigators are exploring whether Gaetz paid for sex in violation of federal sex-trafficking laws and have been interested in his dealings with a 17-year-old girl, people familiar with the matter have said. The appearance of his ex-girlfriend before a federal grand jury is a potentially ominous sign for Gaetz.
Jerome Powell Says the Fed Will Tighten Trading Rules After an Ethics Scandal
New York Times – Jeanna Smialek | Published: 1/11/2022
Jerome Powell, chairperson of the Federal Reserve, told lawmakers at his nomination hearing that the central bank was making changes to rules surrounding financial trades to prevent the kind of eyebrow-raising transactions surrounding three top Fed officials. The Fed has come under fire for allowing officials to trade securities for their own portfolios in 2020, a year in which the Fed was actively saving many asset classes and markets. That included notable trades by two of the 12 regional reserve bank presidents and the Fed’s vice chair.
Judge Mulls Whether Trump’s Silence on Jan. 6 Could Amount to ‘Agreement’ with Rioters
MSN – Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney (Politico) | Published: 1/10/2022
Donald Trump’s hours of silence while a violent mob ransacked the Capitol – egged on by his own words and tweets – could be plausibly construed as agreement with rioters’ actions, a federal judge suggested. U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta made the analysis as he pressed Trump’s lawyers about their efforts to dismiss a series of lawsuits against the former president seeking to hold him financially liable for inciting the January 6 insurrection.
Justice Dept. Forms New Domestic Terrorism Unit to Address Growing Threat
MSN – Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 1/11/2022
The Justice Department is forming a new domestic terrorism unit. Matthew Olsen, head of the department’s National Security Division, announced the unit before the Senate Judiciary Committee, noting the number of FBI investigations of suspected domestic violent extremists – those accused of planning or committing crimes in the name of domestic political goals – had more than doubled since the spring of 2020. His testimony comes days after the anniversary of the riot at the Capitol, an event some lawmakers say showed the FBI underestimated the threat posed by domestic extremists and violence-prone members of far-right groups.
Kevin McCarthy Rejects Request by House Jan. 6 Committee for Information About Communications with Trump, Mark Meadows
MSN – Jacueline Alemany and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) | Published: 1/12/2022
The House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol requested that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy voluntarily provide information about his communications with former President Trump and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Details of those conversations could provide the committee with further insight into Trump’s state of mind at the time, wrote U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, the panel’s chairperson. McCarthy said he will not cooperate, arguing in a statement that its “only objective is to attempt to damage its political opponents.”
Pence and Jan. 6 Committee Engage in High-Stakes Dance Over Testimony
Yahoo News – Michael Schmidt and Alan Feuer (New York Times) | Published: 1/10/2022
Since the House select committee investigating the assault on the Capitol was formed last summer, former Vice President Mike Pence’s lawyer and the panel have been talking about whether he would be willing to speak to investigators. But as Pence began sorting through a complex calculation about his cooperation, he is said to have grown disillusioned with the idea of voluntary cooperation. For the committee, Pence’s testimony would be an opportunity to establish how Donald Trump’s pressuring him to block the certification of the 2020 election helped inspire the storming of the Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Rep. Jim Jordan Refuses to Cooperate with Jan. 6 Committee Investigating Capitol Attack
MSN – Annabelle Timsit (Washington Post) | Published: 1/10/2022
U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan is refusing a request to be interviewed by the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, calling it an “unprecedented and inappropriate demand.” Jordan declined to comply with the request to appear before the panel to discuss his communication with Trump on the day of the assault. Jordan previously said he could not recall how many times he spoke with Trump on January 6 but they spoke at least once.
Schumer Sets Up Final Senate Confrontation on Voting Rights and the Filibuster
MSN – Mike DeBonis (Washington Post) | Published: 1/12/2022
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer prepared Democrats for the final phase of a year-long push to pass voting rights legislation, sketching out legislative maneuvers that could launch debate on a pair of stalled bills and force a confrontation over the Senate’s rules in the coming days. The details of the next steps come as President Biden has launched his own aggressive push to convince his fellow Democrats to band together and overhaul the filibuster to overcome strict GOP opposition to voting rights bills.
The Battle to Prevent Another Jan. 6 Features a New Weapon: The algorithm
MSN – Steven Zeitchik (Washington Post) | Published: 1/6/2022
For many Americans who witnessed the attack on the U.S. Capitol last year, the idea of mobs of people storming a bedrock of democracy was unthinkable. For the data scientists who watched it unfold, the reaction was different: we have been thinking about this for a long time. The sentiment comes from a group working in a field known as unrest prediction. The group takes a promising if fraught approach that applies the complex methods of machine-learning to the mysterious roots of political violence. Centered on the developing world, its systems are slowly being retooled with a new goal: predicting the next January 6.
When Lobbyists and Legislators Socialize, Lobbyists Are More Likely to Get What They Want
MSN – Sara Sadhwani, Pamela Lopez, Christian Grose, and Antoine Yoshinaka | Published: 1/12/2022
Lobbying often takes place off Capitol Hill. Whether it is dinner at the Charlie Palmer steakhouse in Washington, or the hosting of public officials at receptions and bars, lobbying in social situations is a key tool of professional advocates. To explore the impact of social lobbying, researchers conducted an experiment in the California Legislature. They say they found interest groups are more likely to get what they ask for when they meet legislators or their staff socially. Much like everyone else, public officials are more easily persuaded in such settings.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – Cyber Ninjas, the Firm Behind the Audit in Arizona’s Maricopa County, Says It’s Closing and Letting All Its Employees Go
Business Insider – Cheryl Teh | Published: 1/7/2022
Cyber Ninjas, the company behind the 2020 election audit in Maricopa County, Arizona, said it was closing and letting all its staff go as it faces staggering daily fines for refusing to turn over public record related to the audit. A judge in Arizona said Cyber Ninjas would be fined $50,000 a day if it did not immediately turn over the records. It is unclear how many employees Cyber Ninjas has on its payroll, though LinkedIn lists its company size as two to 10 employees.
California – Former High-Level Lawyer with L.A. City Attorney Agrees to Plead Guilty in DWP Scandal
MSN – Dakota Smith and David Zahniser (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 1/10/2022
A former high-level lawyer in Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer’s office agreed to plead guilty in the federal corruption probe of the Department of Water and Power (DWP) billing debacle, becoming the first staffer under Feuer to do so. Thomas Pierce agreed to plead guilty to one count of aiding and abetting extortion. In his plea agreement, Pierce admitted he threatened to fire one of the city’s outside lawyers unless that lawyer paid off a person who was threatening to reveal damaging information about city lawyers’ handling of the DWP case.
California – What’s Behind the ‘Great Resignation’ of California Lawmakers?
MSN – Ben Christopher (CalMatters) | Published: 1/10/2022
Propelled by approaching term limits, new district lines, and a raft of political opportunities outside the state Capitol, 14 California lawmakers have sought employment elsewhere. That does not include the seven members, all senators, who are barred from seeking reelection in 2022 by term limits. Some incumbents and lobbyists say this year’s changing of the guard has the potential to shake up the Capitol’s policy-making dynamic.
Colorado – Mesa County Clerk Who Embraced Conspiracy Theories Given 3 Days to Accept Election Security Oversight
Denver Post – Saja Hindi | Published: 1/12/2022
Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold wants Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters to sign documents saying she will comply with election security protocols that place limits on what she can do before Peters can resume her duties as the county’s designated election official. In October, a judge barred Peters and Deputy Clerk Belinda Knisley from overseeing the 2021 election. Peters has been held up as a prominent figure among election conspiracy theorists who claim the 2020 election was stolen.
Connecticut – Top Prosecutor’s Fate Will Await Completion of Investigation, Judge Says
Connecticut Mirror – Mark Pazniokas | Published: 1/12/2022
The commission with the power to hire and fire top prosecutors in Connecticut is awaiting completion of an investigation of how Chief State’s Attorney Richard Colangelo Jr. came to hire the daughter of a top state budget official while he lobbied the budget office for raises. Colangelo hired Anastasia Diamantis while he was lobbying her father, Kostantinos Diamantis, who was deputy secretary of the Office of Policy and Management before his firing. The state contracted with an outside attorney “to conduct a factual investigation on behalf of the Office of the Governor regarding possible improprieties by state employees and possibly others.”
Delaware – Jury Finds State Sen. Darius Brown Not Guilty of Misdemeanor Charges
Yahoo News – Xerxes Wilson (Delaware News Journal) | Published: 1/6/2022
A jury found Delaware Sen. Darius Brown not guilty of misdemeanor offensive touching and disorderly conduct. The trial saw a woman accuse Brown of hitting her in the head and throwing a glass that shattered in her proximity while they were at a restaurant. Senate President Pro Tempore David Sokola said regardless of whether Brown’s conduct was not criminal, “it remains clear” Brown has been involved in “multiple confrontations in public spaces” over the past year. Sokola said the Senate’s Rules and Ethics Committee will review allegations against Brown in the coming weeks.
Florida – Florida Officials Tried to Steer Education Contract to Former Lawmaker’s Company
Yahoo News – Lawrence Mower and Ana Ceballos (Tampa Bay Times) | Published: 1/11/2022
The Florida Department of Education is under fire for trying to steer a multimillion-dollar contract to a company whose chief executive has ties to the state’s education commissioner. Records and interviews show that before the Education Department asked for bids, it was already in advanced talks with the company to do the work, subverting a process designed to eliminate favoritism. The company is MGT Consulting, led by former lawmaker Trey Traviesa, a longtime colleague of the state’s education commissioner, Richard Corcoran.
Florida – Florida Senate Accuses Lawyer Who Submitted Redistricting Map of Violating Rules
Miami Herald – Mary Ellen Klas | Published: 1/6/2022
The Florida Senate accused a staff attorney for the ACLU of Florida of misinformation after he appeared as a private citizen before a redistricting committee to present a map he had drawn but failed to identify his employer, which had no role in the submission. The Senate changed its rules this year regarding map submissions and now requires anyone who attempts to address legislators in a public meeting to submit a disclosure form that indicates if they are a lobbyist or getting expenses paid. The rules also prohibit lawmakers from considering maps submitted by the public unless a legislator explicitly requested the map in writing.
Florida – FPL Makes Unusual Public Attack on Miami Herald After Solar Power Coverage
MSN – David Ovalle (Miami Herald) | Published: 1/6/2022
Florida Power & Light (FPL) launched an unusual public attack on The Miami Herald and its senior Tallahassee reporter over coverage of the utility company’s lobbying on solar power policy, criticism the newspaper’s top editor called “unfair.” FPL published a piece on its own website criticizing the news organization for not publishing the entirety of an editorial written in response to a Miami Herald story co-authored by Mary Ellen Klas about the company’s role in preparing legislation affecting rooftop solar power generation in Florida. FPL’s post was titled: “Truth Matters: Why is the Miami Herald afraid to let its readers hear opposing voices?”
Georgia – Perdue Sues Over New Georgia Fundraising Law
Yahoo News – Joseph Coi (The Hill) | Published: 1/6/2022
David Perdue’s gubernatorial campaign filed a lawsuit challenging a state law that critics say gives Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp an advantage in the race. Last year, Kemp signed Senate Bill 221 into law, allowing those vying for governor, lieutenant governor, and party leadership roles to create “leadership committees” with no caps on individual campaign contributions. The law also does away with limits on when committees can raise money. Critics have argued it gives incumbent candidates an unfair advantage, as nonincumbent candidates must win a party primary before they can establish a leadership committee.
Idaho – Idaho Statehouse Security: Is the ‘people’s house’ a safe place for the people?
KPVI – Clark Corbin (Idaho Capital Sun) | Published: 1/9/2022
Political organizer Alicia Abbott worries that members of the public will not feel comfortable or safe at the Idaho Capitol, whether it is due to the anger or crowds or lack of COVID-19 protocols like masking and distancing. She is concerned that would rob people of their ability to participate in the legislative process and could limit the perspective of public testimony presented to lawmakers during bill hearings. Abbott is not the only one who is worried about the potential for violence and politics to clash.
Iowa – Republican Leadership Bars Journalists from Iowa Senate Floor, Worrying Press Advocates
MSN – Kim Bellware (Washington Post) | Published: 1/8/2022
Republican leaders in the state Senate told journalists they will no longer be allowed to work on the chamber floor, a change that breaks with a more than 140-year tradition in the Iowa Capitol. The move raised concerns among free press and freedom of information advocates who said it is a blow to transparency and open government that makes it harder for the public to understand, let alone scrutinize, elected officials. The new rule denies reporters access to the press benches near senators’ desks, a proximity that statehouse reporters said is crucial for the most accurate coverage.
Kentucky – Senate Bill Would Block State Contracts If Bidders’ Lobbyists Are Convicted of Crimes
Yahoo News – John Cheves (Lexington Herald-Leader) | Published: 1/10/2022
A Kentucky Senate bill would block state contracts from going to companies for five years after their lobbyists are convicted of crimes related to helping those companies win those contracts. If the language in Senate Bill 46 sounds specific, that is because the sponsor has in mind a particular contract and a particular lobbyist and particular crimes. Sen. Stephen Meredith said he objects to a $51.7 million contract renewal awarded by the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet in 2020 to Cannon Cochran Management Services.
Maryland – Howard County Council Member Outraged by Denial of Matching Campaign Funds, Calling It Political Manipulation
MSN – Katie Long (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 1/12/2022
A technicality in the law resulted in Howard County candidates being denied matching campaign funds this election season. To be eligible for up to $85,000 in matching funds, county council candidates must collect at least $10,000 from at least 125 donations. These funds are only available for candidates in contested races, meaning at least two candidates’ names must appear on the ballot. The rules also state the determination date for when a race is “contested” is six months prior to the state filing deadline. This language is what resulted in the withholding of funds from council member Deb Jung.
Michigan – Judge Tosses GOP Challenge to Exception for Recall Donations
MSN – David Eggers (Associated Press) | Published: 1/6/2022
A federal judge dismissed Republicans’ lawsuit challenging the ability of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s reelection campaign to collect excess donations under an exception for recall attempts, saying they lack the standing to sue. U.S. District Court Judge Janet Neff ruled state GOP Chairperson Ron Weiser and the party failed to show they had suffered a “concrete and particularized injury.” She also said they could have given unlimited amounts to recall committees opposing the Democratic governor but did not. Republicans said they would appeal.
Montana – Montana Conservation Voters Action Fund Facing Fine for Campaign Finance Violations
Helena Independent Record – Nolan Lister | Published: 1/12/2022
Montana Conservation Voters Action Fund is facing a fine for failing to file reports on its spending in municipal elections in Helena, Missoula, and Billings last year. As a registered political committee, the group is permitted to engage in these actions. But it failed to report its expenses as required. “Unfortunately, our vendor failed to submit the required reports related to our work …,” said Jake Brown, the organization’s political director.
New Mexico – New Mexico Ethics Commission to Consider Charges Against Dow
Yahoo News – Robert Nott (Santa Fe New Mexican) | Published: 1/10/2022
The general counsel for the State Ethics Commission recommended a public hearing to determine whether New Mexico Rep. Rebecca Dow, a GOP candidate for governor in the June primary, violated government conduct and financial disclosure rules in connection with her work for a nonprofit she founded, AppleTree Educational Center, a faith-based early childhood education provider. A complaint raised questions about whether Dow accurately disclosed details about her position and salary with AppleTree. It also said there is evidence she may have used her legislative position to advocate for the nonprofit.
New Mexico – Public Financing the Common Factor for Winners of ABQ Campaigns in 2021
Albuquerque Journal – Jessica Dyer | Published: 1/9/2022
Whether Republican or Democrat, incumbent or political newcomer, every candidate who won a position in Albuquerque’s municipal government during the 2021 election cycle had at least one thing in common: all ran for office on the city’s public financing system. But the program that has fueled so many recent election wins also continues to fuel controversy and doubt.
New York – Cuomo Lawyer Fires Warning at Ethics Agency
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 1/12/2022
An attorney representing former Gov. Andrew Cuomo notified New York’s ethics oversight panel that it is to preserve “all evidence and documentation” concerning its efforts to force Cuomo to repay $5.1 million in proceeds from a 2020 book deal. The letter appears to be a warning shot to the Joint Commission on Public Ethics that if the panel continues attempts to force Cuomo to repay the funds that he earned from writing the book, Cuomo will sue. Cuomo will also seek to dig into the panel’s own machinations.
New York – Eric Adams Cuts His Brother’s Duties After Giving Him Top Police Job
New York Times – Dana Rubenstein and William Rashbaum | Published: 1/12/2022
When Mayor Eric Adams named a Virginia parking administrator and retired police sergeant to a top position in the New York Police Department, he said the man had one qualification that no one else there possessed: he was the mayor’s brother. Bernard Adams, 56, a former police sergeant who retired from the force in 2006 after 20 years, has been given one of the most elite jobs in city government: overseeing the unit that will protect the mayor’s physical safety. The mayor’s fundraising tactics have, tested the boundaries of campaign finance and law, and the hiring has amplified concerns that Mayor Adams pays too little heed to ethics.
New York – GOP Sues Over Law Letting Noncitizens Vote in NYC Elections
MSN – Marina Vileneuve (Associated Press) | Published: 1/10/2022
Republicans sued to prevent noncitizens from voting in New York City elections under a new local law that allows more than 800,000 noncitizens and “Dreamers” in New York City to vote in municipal elections as early as next year. They still cannot vote for president or members of Congress or in statewide elections. Republicans said the law violates the state constitution, which says, “every citizen shall be entitled to vote at every election” provided a citizen is at least 18 years old and a “resident of this state” and the locality for 30 days before an election.
New York – Hochul Moves to Scrap Much-Criticized Ethics Agency
Buffalo News – Tom Precious | Published: 1/7/2022
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul proposed reforms for the Joint Commission on Public Integrity (JCOPE). She would get rid of the system by which JCOPE board members are selected. Board members are now chosen by the governor and legislative leaders. Hochul wants a rotating five-member panel of law school deans – or, more likely, their designees – from the 15 state-accredited law schools in New York. Hochul also would scrap the special voting system JCOPE can now employ in which a minority of members can end an investigation. The reconstituted agency would still be the reporting and enforcement entity of the lobbying industry in Albany.
New York – Hochul’s Taxpayer-Funded Air Travel May Violate Ethics Rules
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 1/6/2022
On October 4, Gov. Kathy Hochul flew from Albany to New York City on a state-owned airplane. She went to Brooklyn to sign a bill, then held three campaign-related events before flying back to Albany in the evening. Although a major part of the day was dedicated to Hochul winning a full term in November’s election, her campaign did not reimburse taxpayers for any portion of the day’s travel. During Hochul’s first 45 days in office, on at least three separate days, the governor’s use of state aircraft has raised questions about whether there has been any misuse of taxpayer resources, according to a review of public records.
North Carolina – North Carolina Court Declines to Toss Out GOP-Drawn House Map
Yahoo News – Ally Mutnick (Politico) | Published: 1/11/2022
A North Carolina trial court dealt a setback to Democrats when it declined to strike down Republican-drawn congressional and legislative maps that had been challenged as illegal partisan gerrymanders. The ruling is the latest in a flurry of litigation and court orders muddying North Carolina’s 2022 elections and leaving its political future for the next decade in limbo. The Democratic-aligned plaintiffs who brought the suit immediately said they will appeal to the state Supreme Court, where their party has a narrow majority.
Ohio – Campaign Finance Watchdog Sues FEC Over Ohio Dark Money Group
Ohio Capital Journal – Nick Evans | Published: 1/11/2022
Two years ago, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed an FEC complaint against an Ohio-based “dark money” group called Freedom Vote. Attorneys with the FEC investigated and demonstrated violations occurred but the commission deadlocked. CREW has filed a new complaint, this time against the FEC itself. That is because despite an overwhelming set of evidence, commissioners failed to act against Freedom Vote. The commission deadlocked last November on whether to move forward with any kind of punishment.
Ohio – Ohio’s House Bill 6 Scandal Widened in 2021, but More Is Yet to Come in 2022
MSN – Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 12/30/2021
Ohio’s House Bill 6 scandal took on a new dimension in 2021, with FirstEnergy Corp. paying a $230 million fine for bribing top state officials, lawmakers passing a partial repeal of the infamous energy law, and ex- House Speaker Larry Householder being kicked out of the Legislature. There is more to come in 2022, as Householder’s upcoming trial on a federal corruption charge, as well as multiple civil lawsuits, are likely to reveal even more scandalous details about the passage of the legislation.
Oregon – Secretary of State Rules Kristof Ineligible to Run for Oregon Governor
Yahoo News – Connor Radnovich (Salem Statesman-Journal) | Published: 1/6/2022
Former New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof cannot run for Oregon governor because he does not meet the residency requirements to hold office, the secretary of state’s office announced. The state constitution requires a candidate for governor to have been a “resident within this state” for three years prior to the general election. Evidence reviewed by elections officials showed Kristof was instead a resident of New York until late 2020 or early 2021.
Tennessee – Nashville Council Member Jonathan Hall Faces 14 Potential Campaign Finance Violations
MSN – Cassandra Stephenson (The Tennessean) | Published: 1/7/2022
Metropolitan Councilperson Jonathan Hall faces more than a dozen potential campaign finance violations that could lead to an audit or civil penalties. Hall failed to file multiple mandatory financial reports on time, or at all, during election cycles in 2018 and 2019, according to a letter sent from Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance Executive Director Bill Young. Of the financial reports that Hall’s campaign did file, some lack required donor and vendor information and itemization of expenses. Some contain unexplained discrepancies deemed “troubling” by Assistant District Attorney General Brian Ewald.
Washington – A Rural Washington School Board Race Shows How Far-Right Extremists Are Shifting to Local Power
Seattle Times – Hannah Allam (Washington Post) | Published: 1/8/2022
In recent years, far-right groups have been moving away from national organizing to focus on building grassroots support, harnessing conservative outrage to influence school boards and other local offices. That effort was stepped up after the attack on the U.S. Capitol left much of the militant right under federal scrutiny and in operational disarray. Eatonville, Washington, is among several rural, conservative parts of the West where members of self-styled militias are making inroads through what researchers call a mix of opportunism and intimidation.
Wisconsin – Supreme Court Clears Way for Liberal Group to Depose Assembly Speaker Robin Vos
Yahoo News – Patrick Marley (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) | Published: 1/11/2022
The Wisconsin Supreme Court ended Assembly Speaker Robin Vos’ attempt to avoid a deposition, setting the stage for him to take questions under oath over whether he has followed the state’s open records law. He sought to avoid answering questions from the liberal group American Oversight, which has been seeking records of a partisan review of the 2020 election ordered by Vos.
January 12, 2022 •
Elections New York: “GOP Sues Over Law Letting Noncitizens Vote in NYC Elections” by Marina Vileneuve (Associated Press) for MSN Washington: “A Rural Washington School Board Race Shows How Far-Right Extremists Are Shifting to Local Power” by Hannah Allam (Washington […]
New York: “GOP Sues Over Law Letting Noncitizens Vote in NYC Elections” by Marina Vileneuve (Associated Press) for MSN
Washington: “A Rural Washington School Board Race Shows How Far-Right Extremists Are Shifting to Local Power” by Hannah Allam (Washington Post) for Seattle Times
National: “Justice Dept. Forms New Domestic Terrorism Unit to Address Growing Threat” by Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Judge Mulls Whether Trump’s Silence on Jan. 6 Could Amount to ‘Agreement’ with Rioters” by Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney (Politico) for MSN
New Mexico: “New Mexico Ethics Commission to Consider Charges Against Dow” by Robert Nott (Santa Fe New Mexican) for Yahoo News
New York: “Hochul’s Taxpayer-Funded Air Travel May Violate Ethics Rules” by Chris Bragg for Albany Times Union
Kentucky: “Senate Bill Would Block State Contracts If Bidders’ Lobbyists Are Convicted of Crimes” by John Cheves (Lexington Herald-Leader) for Yahoo News
Florida: “Florida Officials Tried to Steer Education Contract to Former Lawmaker’s Company” by Lawrence Mower and Ana Ceballos (Tampa Bay Times) for Yahoo News
December 24, 2021 •
National/Federal A Retired Colonel’s Unlikely Role in Pushing Baseless Election Claims MSN – Alan Feuer (New York Times) | Published: 12/21/2021 After President Biden’s inauguration, a former Army colonel with a background in information warfare appeared on a Christian conservative podcast […]
A Retired Colonel’s Unlikely Role in Pushing Baseless Election Claims
MSN – Alan Feuer (New York Times) | Published: 12/21/2021
After President Biden’s inauguration, a former Army colonel with a background in information warfare appeared on a Christian conservative podcast and offered a detailed account of his monthslong effort to challenge the validity of the 2020 vote count. Phil Waldron told a story that was almost inconceivable: how a cabal of bad actors, including Chinese Communist officials, international shell companies, and the financier George Soros, had conspired to hack into U.S. voting machines in a “globalist/socialist” plot to steal the election. The postelection period gave fringe players an opportunity to find an audience in the White House.
Black Lawmakers Threaten to Cut Off K St Unless It Diversifies
Yahoo News – Hailey Fuchs and Laura Barrón-López (Politico) | Published: 12/19/2021
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are calling on the lobbying industry to diversify its offices in Washington, D.C. or risk losing their support. K Street has found itself scrambling in recent years to up its representation of employees of color. But the threats from Black lawmakers to stop meetings with certain firms represents one of the most aggressive attempts to force K Street to change from within. The increasing power and sheer size of the Congressional Black Caucus in the Democratic Party makes it a formidable political force on and off Capitol Hill.
Democratic Push on Voting Rights Becomes More Urgent as Midterms Approach
MSN – Theodoric Meyer (Washington Post) | Published: 12/22/2021
Senate Democrats not only failed to push their social spending bill over the finish line before the Christmas holidays. They also fell short on another of the party’s top priorities this year: approving a landmark package of voting rights measures. While Democrats argue the changes are critical to safeguarding democracy, strategists in both parties say the package could also reshape the battle for control of the House next year, potentially bolstering Democrats’ chances of hanging onto their majority in a year when Republicans have the edge.
GOP Agrees to Pay Up to $1.6 Million of Trump’s Legal Bills in N.Y. Probes
MSN – David Fahrenthold and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 12/16/2021
The Republican Party agreed to pay up to $1.6 million in legal bills for former President Trump to help him fight investigations into his business practices in New York. Paying Trump’s legal bills is a highly unusual move, longtime party observers and members say, because the spending has nothing to do with promoting the GOP’s policy agenda or political priorities, dealing with ongoing party business or campaigning – and relates to investigations that are not about Trump’s time as president or his work in the White House.
House Jan. 6 Committee Requests Information from and Meeting with GOP Rep. Jim Jordan About His Contact with Trump
MSN – Felicia Sonmez and Eugene Scott (Washington Post) | Published: 12/22/2021
The House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob is seeking information from U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, one of former President Trump’s staunchest allies on Capitol Hill. Jordan has previously said he cannot recall how many times he spoke with Trump on January 6 but that they spoke at least once. In addition, a federal judge denied a motion by Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, for a temporary restraining order against the select committee over subpoenas it has issued against him.
Judge Rejects Fox News Request to Dismiss Dominion Voting’s Defamation Lawsuit Over Election Claims
MSN – Timothy Bella (Washington Post) | Published: 12/17/2021
A judge rejected a request from Fox News to dismiss a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems over baseless claims made against the company during the 2020 presidential election, allowing the suit to move forward. Superior Court Judge Eric Davis said it was “reasonably conceivable” for the voting-machine company to have a defamation claim. Dominion claims some of its highest-profile on-air talent helped elevate false charges that the company had changed votes to favor Joe Biden over then-President Trump.
Lead Capitol Riot Charge Is Constitutional, Judges Find
MSN – Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) | Published: 12/20/2021
Three federal judges agreed that the most serious charge faced by those accused of participation in the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, obstruction, is constitutional, a victory for the Justice Department and a blow to the defendants fighting those accusations. Without that felony charge, prosecutors would be left with only minor charges against many they view as playing a major role in the riot. The Justice Department has avoided charges of sedition, a rarely used law, and not all those accused of acting as key instigators were seen assaulting police officers.
Meadows Contempt Vote Poses Thorny Questions for DOJ
MSN – Rebecca Beitsch and Harper Neidig (The Hill) | Published: 12/20/2021
The House vote to hold Mark Meadows in contempt has presented the Department of Justice with the question of whether to prosecute the former White House chief of staff, forcing it to weigh the major legal and political consequences that could come with breaking from longstanding executive branch policy. The department’s stance has been to support testimonial immunity for the president’s close advisers when faced with congressional subpoenas. Charging Meadows with contempt would represent a departure from that historical trend and poses more complicated considerations for the department than its decision to prosecute Steve Bannon.
Proud Boy Pleads Guilty to Felony Charge in Capitol Riot
MSN – Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) | Published: 12/22/2021
A New York man who was a member of the Proud Boys pleaded guilty to obstructing Congress and conspiring to obstruct law enforcement during the January 6 riot. The plea to the felony charge is significant because Matthew Greene admitted coordinating with other New York-based members of the extremist group at the front of the Capitol mob, although there is no evidence that he entered the building. Greene is the first self-admitted member of the Proud Boys to plead guilty in a felony conspiracy case stemming from the riot.
Rep. Scott Perry Calls Jan. 6 Panel ‘Illegitimate,’ Refuses to Cooperate
MSN – Chris Marquette (Roll Call) | Published: 12/21/2021
U.S. Rep. Scott Perry Rep. said he would not cooperate with the January 6 select committee’s investigation, a move that forces the panel to grapple with how it will extract information it seeks from a sitting member of Congress. The panel said it was interested in the role Perry played in an unsuccessful attempt to install Jeffrey Clark as acting attorney general. Clark, a former assistant attorney general for environment and natural resources, met with Trump and other White House officials to consider ways the election results could be overturned.
Senate GOP Feels Another Trump Effect: The rise of celeb candidates
Yahoo News – Marianne Levine and Sarah Ferris (Politico) | Published: 12/23/2021
The most reliable springboard to the U.S. Senate used to be House experience – before Donald Trump vaulted from reality television to the White House. Some Republicans see his path as a blueprint for winning back the Senate. This campaign cycle, the GOP is coalescing around former football star Herschel Walker in Georgia and signaling an openness to surgeon and TV host Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania. Many in the GOP are welcoming the development.
You Can Draw Your Own Congressional District
Politico – Ally Mutnick | Published: 12/22/2021
In a quirk of the decennial redistricting season, state legislators, who are in charge of drawing new maps, can draw a district for themselves or for their friends. The process is already inherently self-interested as lawmakers routinely draw maps for the benefit of their party, but in some cases, these politicians are working in their literal self-interest. Such moves can spur accusations of foul play from political rivals, and do not always work out as expected. And with more scrutiny than ever on the process, these acts are possibly becoming harder to pull off.
From the States and Municipalities
California – Ex-S.F. Public Works Director Nuru Pleads Guilty to Federal Fraud Charge
MSN – Michael Cabanatuan (Sam Francisco Chronicle) | Published: 12/17/2021
Mohammed Nuru, San Francisco’s former public works director whose tenure was ended by a federal corruption probe that snowballed into numerous prosecutions against city officials and contractors, pleaded guilty to honest services wire fraud. In the plea agreement, Nuru admitted to an extensive list of instances in which he accepted money, international trips, expensive jewelry and wine, and other goods and services from city contractors and developers in exchange for preferential treatment and confidential information about city business.
California – LA Commissioner Lobbied CAO to Support His Company’s $3 Million COVID-19 Testing Contract
Los Angeles Daily News – Scott Schwebke | Published: 12/16/2021
An embattled Los Angeles fire and police pensions commissioner who rejected allegations he improperly lobbied city officials to approve a $3 million COVID-19 testing contract for his company pitched his proposal directly to City Administrative Officer Matt Szabo, who signed off on the no-bid contract in September. Dr. Pedram Salimpour maintained he was not engaged in the review or vetting process for the testing contract awarded to PPS Health, which does business as Bluestone Safe. But more than a dozen emails obtained by the Southern California News Group paint a different picture of Salimpour’s efforts to win the contract for Bluestone.
Colorado – Hawaiian Fundraiser Prompts Campaign Finance Complaint against Attorney General
Colorado Public Radio – Bente Birkeland | Published: 12/22/2021
A complaint alleging Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser broke the state’s campaign finance laws will move forward, after the secretary of state’s office deemed it to be non-frivolous and said the allegations show one or more potential violations. The complaint argues Weiser failed to properly document a fundraiser he attended in Hawaii at the Waldorf Astoria Grand Wailea Maui Resort.
Colorado – Unite for Colorado Bankrolled Almost Every Major GOP Effort Last Year
ReInvestment News – Sandra Fish and Jesse Paul (Colorado Sun) | Published: 12/22/2021
A conservative political nonprofit that does not disclose its donors funded almost every major Republican political group and effort in Colorado last year, according to a tax document that for the first time reveals the breadth of the organization’s influence. The document also now ties Unite for Colorado to some of the state’s most well-known and active conservative political consultants and operatives. The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office recently fined Unite for Colorado $40,000 and ordered it to disclose its 2020 donors after it spent $4 million to support or oppose three statewide ballot initiatives.
Florida – Documents Show FPL Wrote Bill to Slow Rooftop Solar’s Growth by Hampering Net Metering
MSN – Mary Ellen Klas and Mario Ariza (Miami Herald) | Published: 12/20/2021
Rooftop solar power generation in Florida is still a nascent industry, but Florida Power & Light (FPL), the nation’s largest power company, is pushing to hamstring it by writing and hand-delivering legislation the company asked state lawmakers to introduce. FPL, whose work with “dark-money” political committees helped to secure Republican control of the state Senate in the 2020 elections, asked Sen. Jennifer Bradley to sponsor its top-priority bill: legislation that would hobble rooftop solar by preventing homeowners and businesses from offsetting their costs by selling excess power back to the company, an arrangement known as net metering.
Florida – Two Education Department Leaders Resign After Investigation, Conflict of Interest
Florida Politics – Jason Delgado | Published: 12/22/2021
Two Florida Department of Education employees resigned in November after an investigation unearthed a plan to pursue a state contract for a company they managed. Vice Chancellor of Strategic Improvement Melissa Ramsey and State Board Member Richard Tuck sent a proposal to the Education Department after it asked 25 vendors for quotes on a bid to take over operations at Jefferson County Schools. Ramsey and Tuck applied to the request under the banner of Strategic Initiative Partners, though not among the 25 vendors solicited by the department.
Illinois – ComEd Offers $21 Million Refund to Customers to Confront ICC Probes into Bribery Scheme. Watchdog Calls It ‘Chump Change.’
MSN – Ray Long (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 12/17/2021
Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) is proposing a one-time $21 million refund to ratepayers for lobbying misconduct associated with its efforts to influence former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and advance its Springfield agenda. The amount of the refunds is mostly tied to pay and benefits received by former ComEd executives whose misconduct was outlined in the deal struck with federal prosecutors last year in which the utility agreed to pay a $200 million fine. Watchdog Abe Scarr called the proposed refund “chump change” for a company that is soon expected to collect $1 billion a year in profits and may not offer the credit until 2023.
Illinois – Cook County Ethics Ordinance Slated for Biggest Overhaul in 15 Years, but Some Experts Want More
MSN – Alice Yin (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 12/15/2021
Cook County supervisors approved changes to its ethics ordinance that some experts on best practices say falls short on eradicating “pay-to-play” politics. The bill would make strides in tightening up rules on sexual harassment and nepotism as well as bolstering powers of the body that enforces the code. But it would double the cap on political contributions from those who do business with the county. Ethics experts also raised concerns over how a two-year delay in passing a new ordinance allowed Springfield to preempt the county from enacting stricter rules, particularly around lobbying.
Kentucky – A Handful of Companies Dominate Road Work in Kentucky. The State Looks the Other Way.
Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting – Jacob Ryan and Jared Bennett | Published: 12/21/2021
Kentucky officials awarded nearly 2,300 road work contracts between 2018 and 2021. The transportation cabinet is exempt from following the state’s procurement code, instead following a bidding system experts say allows a few large companies to avoid competition for jobs. As a result, more than $2 billion in current work is controlled by a dozen companies, who often are the sole bidder on the contracts they are awarded. More than half of the 782 single-bid contracts were awarded for a price above the state estimate, whereas 85 percent of multiple-bid contracts were below state estimates.
Maryland – Baltimore County Council Greenlights Fair Election Fund with Spending Caps
Yahoo News – Taylor DeVille (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 12/20/2021
Candidates for local office in Baltimore County will now have a new financing tool at their disposal after the county council passed an amended bill authorizing a public financing program. The council amended the bill to impose caps on how much candidates using the fund may spend and to revise requirements for qualifying candidates. The legislation would require candidates for council and county executive to meet different eligibility qualifications and seeks to encourage candidates to ask more donors to give smaller amounts of money.
Maryland – Maryland’s New Congressional Map Draws First Legal Challenge
Yahoo News – Pamela Wood (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 12/22/2021
Maryland’s new map of congressional districts is facing its first legal challenge, a lawsuit brought by a dozen Republicans, including two who are hoping to be elected to Congress. In the lawsuit, they argue the new districts meander around the state in ways that divide communities to give Democrats an advantage at the ballot box. They are asking the state courts to throw out the new map and substitute a map drawn by a commission appointed by Gov. Larry Hogan, at least temporarily until the General Assembly can adopt a better map.
Michigan – FBI Arrests Retired Detroit Cop Amid Corruption Crackdown
Detroit News – Robert Snell | Published: 12/16/2021
FBI agents arrested a former Detroit Police detective in connection with a bribery, extortion, and fraud investigation targeting Detroit City Hall, law enforcement, and municipal towing operations. The arrest of Mike Pacteles marks the latest expansion of “Operation Northern Hook,” a broader FBI investigation of public corruption within Detroit city government. The investigation and prosecution led to criminal charges against four Detroit police personnel and former city Councilperson André Spivey, who pleaded guilty to bribery charges.
Michigan – Whitmer Campaign Complaints on Plane Flights, Fundraising Dismissed
Detroit News – Beth LeBlanc | Published: 12/21/2021
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer did not violate campaign finance laws when she accepted contributions above the state fundraising limit because she was facing recall efforts, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s office said. But the Michigan Bureau of Elections said it would welcome a request to revisit and potentially revise the policy. Benson’s office also ruled Whitmer’s use of campaign funds to charter a private flight to visit her father in Florida this spring was not a campaign finance violation because it was for her physical safety.
Missouri – Free Speech Violation? Ex-Missouri Rep Sues Because He’s Banned from Being a Lobbyist
MSN – Jeanne Kuang (Kansas City Star) | Published: 12/17/2021
A former lawmaker is suing the Missouri Ethics Commission over the state’s two-year ban on lawmakers becoming lobbyists, arguing the law prohibits his freedom of speech and requesting it be blocked. Former Rep. Rocky Miller alleges his inability to register as a lobbyist to serve a prospective client was denying him income. He also argues that because the two-year restriction “bans (him) from saying certain things, backed by the threat of criminal prosecution,” it is unconstitutional.
New York – Attorney General Cites Problems with Ethics Panel’s Order to Cuomo
Albany Times Union – Brendan Lyons | Published: 12/16/2021
The state attorney general’s office sent a letter to the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) contending the panel did not issue a valid order when it voted to have former Gov. Andrew Cuomo surrender the $5.1million he was paid to write a book last year about his administration’s early handling of the coronavirus pandemic. JCOPE had directed the governor to turn over the proceeds of his publishing deal to the attorney general’s office, which the panel said could then redistribute the funds according to law, including potentially returning the money to the publisher.
New York – Hochul Ready to Rev Up Ethics Overhaul to Clean Up After Cuomo, Senate Ally Says
The City – Josepha Velasquez | Published: 12/15/2021
State Sen. Liz Krueger said she has been working with New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office to revamp the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE), an effort she expects the governor to announce in her annual State of the State address. Krueger is the sponsor of a bill that would replace the largely governor controlled JCOPE with a more independent government integrity commission that would have the power to initiate investigations and even remove non-elected officials from their jobs. Hochul has not yet hinted at her gameplan, which could include measures short of a total teardown.
New York – Lobbyists Helped Hochul Raise $10M. What Are They Getting Back?
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 12/23/2021
After becoming governor of New York in late August, Kathy Hochul has raised campaign money at among the fastest clips in state history – $10 million in three months. When major lobbying firms have sought to have fundraisers, the governor’s campaign has requested they commit to raise $250,000 for events where Hochul appears in person. The lobbying firms raise the money from their clients, who then attend the events. They are often exclusive to the lobbying firm and those clients, who gain a few minutes interacting with the governor.
North Carolina – Appeals Court: Rev. Barber removed from General Assembly in 2017 for his volume, not words
WRAL – Staff | Published: 12/21/2021
Former state NAACP leader Rev. William Barber’s defense that he used free speech during a 2017 protest at the Legislative Building is not relevant to his conviction for second-degree trespassing, and the verdict will stand, according to the court of appeals for North Carolina. Barber and others were charged with second-degree trespassing for refusing to leave the Legislative Building after they were told to go by General Assembly Police. Barber defended himself, saying the constitution says citizens have a right to assemble and instruct their lawmakers. But the appeals court ruled the case was not about free speech.
North Dakota – Environmental Group Calls Out Conflicts of Interest on North Dakota Energy Board as $160M Funding Approved
Fargo Forum – Adam Willis | Published: 12/20/2021
An environmental group is calling out a new arm of the North Dakota government for allegedly mismanaging its conflicts-of-interest when it convened to recommend more than $160 million in state funds for fossil fuel-sector grants and loans. The Dakota Resource Council raised concerns about the handling of conflicts on the Clean Sustainable Energy Authority in a letter sent to the state Ethics Commission and Gov. Doug Burgum, in which the organization asked for more stringent rules regulating such conflicts in the future.
Ohio – Cuyahoga County’s Consultant in Search for New Jail Is Also Listing Agent for Preferred Site
MSN – Kaitlin Durban (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 12/20/2021
Cuyahoga County’s real estate consulting firm, tapped to identify locations for the site of its new jail, is also the listing agent for one of the final properties under consideration. The relationship raises concerns about conflicts-of-interest in a multimillion-dollar project that members of a committee meant to oversee the process worry is now devolving into “chaos” and unilateral decisions that could undermine their work.
Ohio – Ex-Ohio Legislative Candidate Fined $50,000 for Failing to Report Campaign-Finance Expenses
MSN – Andrew Tobias (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 12/16/2021
The Ohio Elections Commission fined an ex-legislative candidate $50,000 for failing to report more than $290,000 in campaign-related expenses. Allen Freeman, a township trustee from Clermont County, tried to get the case dismissed after he liquidated his account, arguing that because the committee had been dissolved, it could not be found liable. But the commission found Freeman misstated his campaign finances by reporting spending just $14,000 on his failed 2020 campaign for state representative, even though public records show his campaign bought roughly $118,000 in television ads.
Ohio – Ohio Job and Family Services Employee Cut Off Relative’s Unemployment Benefits After Fight
MSN – Jessie Balmert (Columbus Dispatch) | Published: 12/16/2021
A Department of Job and Family Services employee cut off her relative’s unemployment benefits following a fight, according to an Ohio Inspector General’s report. Customer service representative Quenise Barnes improperly accessed a relative’s pandemic unemployment assistance 10 times in May and eventually cut off that person’s benefits. The relative reported a fight had occurred with Barnes on May 7 and she subsequently turned off the person’s benefits, citing “fraud.”
Oklahoma – The Jump from Political Staffer to Lobbyist Isn’t a Far One, at Least in Oklahoma
Yahoo News – Ben Felder (Oklahoman) | Published: 12/19/2021
It is not uncommon for elected officials in Oklahoma to become paid lobbyists once they leave office and there is no state law that prevents it. But there is also no ban on former state employees from becoming lobbyists, which is another pathway for public officials to take their knowledge to the private sector. The state Ethics Commission voted twice in recent years to establish “cooling off” laws that would ban public officials from moving straight into a lobbying job. But each time those rules were voted down by the state Legislature.
Oregon – Competing Measures Could Muddy Oregon’s Campaign Finance Debate
OPB – Dirk VanderHart | Published: 12/20/2021
After they came to an impasse over how Oregon should crack down on money in politics, left-leaning organizations are signaling they might just fight it out at the ballot box. Two groups that are often aligned filed dueling ballot measure proposals for how to place limits on the state’s permissive campaign finance laws. Six separate ideas for cracking down on political giving in the state have now been floated for the November 2022 ballot. Many, if not most, will die before they reach voters, but even two competing measures next year could create confusion that advocates have been hoping to avoid.
Oregon – How Much Did Interest Groups Shape Oregon’s New Legislative Districts? Here’s Why It’s Tough to Say
MSN – Hillary Borrud (Portland Oregonian) | Published: 12/16/2021
Lobbyists for unions and at least one industry-affiliated group used sophisticated data analysis to calculate how proposed legislative districts in Oregon would impact Democrats’ and Republicans’ chances in future elections and shared that information with lawmakers. Other outside groups did the same, according to testimony in a redistricting lawsuit, and practically none of that is required to be disclosed to the public. The lack of transparency around the forces at play in shaping how Oregonians’ votes will count during the next decade is a result of both how the state handles redistricting, and the state’s limited lobbying disclosure requirements.
Pennsylvania – ‘Glaring Giant Loophole:’ Philly Council members have to report who pays them, but not their spouses
MSN – Sean Collins Walsh (Philadelphia Inquirer) | Published: 12/23/2021
Unlike lawmakers in other cities and states, as well as members of Mayor Jim Kenney’s administration, Philadelphia City Council members are not required to disclose their spouses’ sources of income. The issue of paying members’ spouses is expected to be central in the corruption trial of Councilperson Kenyatta Johnson. Prosecutors have accused him of accepting a bribe in the form of charter school consulting work for his wife in exchange for helping a group in his district secure a zoning change. The potential for Johnson to take official action to secure work for his wife also surfaced in the corruption trial this fall of Councilperson Bobby Henon.
South Carolina – Former Richland County Recreation Director Facing Ethics Charges Over Raises, Promotions
Charleston Post and Courier – Stephen Fastenau | Published: 12/16/2021
South Carolina’s Ethics Commission will decide whether a former Richland County recreation chief broke the law by signing off on family members’ raises and promotions. A hearing on the ethics charges was held after James Brown III was cleared of criminal charges related to his tenure. Brown, the head of the Richland County Recreation Commission until his resignation in 2016 amid allegations of nepotism and sexual harassment, faces six counts of violating state ethics laws meant to ensure public officials do not use their position for personal gain.
Texas – Former Houston Schools Trustee Kept a ‘Bribe Ledger’ Listing $20,000 in Illegal Payoffs, Feds Say
Houston Public Media – Paul DeBenedetto | Published: 12/17/2021
A former Houston Independent School District trustee and board president agreed to cooperate with the federal government for her role in an alleged scheme in which prosecutors say she kept a “bribe ledger” to keep track of $20,000 in payments from a contractor, part of an investigation that also led to the indictment of the district’s former chief operating officer. Rhonda Skillern-Jones used her role at the district to push for the hiring of a landscaping contractor who was later at the center of an alleged illegal kickback scheme.
Washington – Tim Eyman in Default, Assets to Be Sold to Satisfy $5.4 Million Debt
Seattle Times – David Gutman | Published: 12/23/2021
Tim Eyman, the serial initiative filer and conservative provocateur who owes the state of Washington more than $5 million after years of “particularly egregious” campaign finance violations, is in default and staring at the court-ordered sale of his assets. Eyman is under a court-ordered plan requiring him to make monthly $10,000 payments to pay down his fine and other fees. He has missed his last four monthly payments. A judge ordered his bankruptcy case shifted to Chapter 7, which means the court appoints a trustee who will be responsible for selling Eyman’s assets and distributing the proceeds to his debtors.
Wisconsin – ‘A Real Conflagration’: Wisconsin emerges as front line in war over the 2020 vote
MSN – Rosalind Helderman and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 12/16/2021
A legislative-backed investigation into the 2020 election results in Wisconsin headed by a former state Supreme Court justice has picked up steam in recent weeks. The inquiry makes little pretense of neutrality and is being led by figures who have shown allegiance to Donald Trump or embraced false claims of fraud. In a state that is likely to see some of the nation’s most competitive races in 2022 for governor and U.S. Senate, there are now multiple efforts underway to scrutinize how the last election was run, including a recommendation by a county sheriff to prosecute and jail state election officials.
December 22, 2021 •
Campaign Finance Maryland: “Baltimore County Council Greenlights Fair Election Fund with Spending Caps” by Taylor DeVille (Baltimore Sun) for Yahoo News Oregon: “Competing Measures Could Muddy Oregon’s Campaign Finance Debate” by Dirk VanderHart for OPB Ethics National: “Lead Capitol Riot […]
Maryland: “Baltimore County Council Greenlights Fair Election Fund with Spending Caps” by Taylor DeVille (Baltimore Sun) for Yahoo News
Oregon: “Competing Measures Could Muddy Oregon’s Campaign Finance Debate” by Dirk VanderHart for OPB
National: “Lead Capitol Riot Charge Is Constitutional, Judges Find” by Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Rep. Scott Perry Calls Jan. 6 Panel ‘Illegitimate,’ Refuses to Cooperate” by Chris Marquette (Roll Call) for MSN
New York: “Hochul Ready to Rev Up Ethics Overhaul to Clean Up After Cuomo, Senate Ally Says” by Josepha Velasquez for The City
Ohio: “Cuyahoga County’s Consultant in Search for New Jail Is Also Listing Agent for Preferred Site” by Kaitlin Durban (Cleveland Plain Dealer) for MSN
Illinois: “ComEd Offers $21 Million Refund to Customers to Confront ICC Probes into Bribery Scheme. Watchdog Calls It ‘Chump Change.’” by Ray Long (Chicago Tribune) for MSN
Kentucky: “A Handful of Companies Dominate Road Work in Kentucky. The State Looks the Other Way.” by Jacob Ryan and Jared Bennett for Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting
October 8, 2021 •
National/Federal Court Orders FEC to Rule on Complaints Against NRA’s Alleged Campaign Coordination Scheme MSN – Soo Rin Kim (ABC News) | Published: 10/1/2021 A federal court ordered the FEC to rule on pending complaints that allege the National Rifle Association […]
Court Orders FEC to Rule on Complaints Against NRA’s Alleged Campaign Coordination Scheme
MSN – Soo Rin Kim (ABC News) | Published: 10/1/2021
A federal court ordered the FEC to rule on pending complaints that allege the National Rifle Association (NRA) used shell entities to illegally coordinate campaign spending with federal candidates, including with the 2016 presidential campaign of Donald Trump. In a 2019 lawsuit, the plaintiffs alleged the NRA used a “network of shell corporations” to circumvent contribution limits and coordinate approximately $35 million in ad spending with the campaigns of at least seven Republican candidates over the last three election cycles.
False Election Claims Undermine Efforts to Increase Security
MSN – Maggie Miller (The Hill) | Published: 10/2/2021
Officials say the biggest threat facing U.S. elections is not Russian hacking or domestic voter fraud but disinformation and misinformation increasingly undermining the public’s perception of voting security. Since the 2016 vote, Congress has allocated millions of dollars to states to shore up cybersecurity and replace outdated, vulnerable voting machines, but even as improvements are made, faith in the system is being eroded.
Fed Says Trading Activity by Top Officials Under Independent Review
MSN – Rachel Siegel (Washington Post) | Published: 10/4/2021
The Federal Reserve released a rare public statement revealing an independent review by the Office of Inspector General for the Federal Reserve Board, over whether trading activity by top Fed officials “was in compliance with both the relevant ethics rules and the law.” Leaders had previously announced the Fed’s own internal ethics review of financial trading rules for top officials, and Fed Chairperson Jerome Powell said there would be changes to existing guidance. But the latest statement reflected a more concerted focus on the legality of the trades themselves.
Group Files Complaint with California Bar Association Against John Eastman, Lawyer Who Advised Trump on Election Challenges
MSN – Tom Hamburger and Jacqueline Alemany (Washington Post) | Published: 10/4/2021
A bipartisan group of former officials and legal heavyweights, including two former federal judges, asked the California bar association to investigate the conduct of John Eastman, the adviser to then-President Trump who mapped out a legal strategy to overturn the 2020 election results. The complaint cites Eastman’s work in election challenges rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court and his speech at a January 6 rally in Washington before a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol. But the memo centers on Eastman’s alleged role in pressing Vice President Pence not to count electoral votes and certify President Biden as the winner.
Journalists Sue U.S. Broadcasting Arm for Wrongful Dismissal Under Trump
Yahoo News – Daniel Lippman (Politico) | Published: 10/4/2021
Seven foreign journalists working for the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) who were fired by the Trump administration have sued the agency for breach of contract and wrongful termination. The journalists argue their careers and livelihoods have been significantly hurt by being fired and are seeking back pay. The complaints note Michael Pack, a conservative filmmaker who was installed as chief executive of USAGM in June 2020, expressed his distrust of foreign journalists working for the various broadcast entities under the USAGM umbrella and refused to renew more than 30 of their visas, causing them to lose their jobs.
Koch-Backed Group Fuels Opposition to School Mask Mandates, Leaked Letter Shows
Seattle Times – Isaac Stanley-Becker (Washington Post) | Published: 10/1/2021
A letter made available to paying members of the Independent Women’s Forum that shows how people should protest mask mandates in schools was made possible through the largesse of Republican megadonors. The document offers a glimpse into the inner workings of a well-financed conservative campaign to undermine regulations that health authorities say are necessary to contain the coronavirus. As a nonprofit, Independent Women’s Forum is exempt from disclosing its donors and paying federal income taxes.
Lawmakers Seek Details on Accounting Firms After a New York Times Report
New York Times – Jesse Drucker | Published: 10/5/2021
Two Democratic lawmakers are seeking information from the country’s biggest accounting firms about the
“revolving door” between the firm’s tax departments and top positions at the Treasury Department. U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal made the request after The New York Times detailed how multinational accounting firms effectively draft tax rules from inside the government that benefit their clients. The Times found at least 35 examples in which employees of big accounting firms left to join the Treasury’s tax policy office or other government positions and then returned to the same firm.
Once a Hero, Oregon Congressional Candidate Funds Questioned
ABC News – Brian Slodysko (Associated Press) | Published: 10/3/2021
Alek Skarlatos, a hero soldier-turned-Republican congressional candidate, started a nonprofit shortly after his 2020 defeat in an Oregon race, pledging to advocate for veterans “left high and dry” by the country “they put their lives on the line for.” The group, which Skarlatos seeded with $93,000 in leftover campaign funds, has done little since then to advance that cause. What it has nurtured, though, are Skarlatos’ political ambitions, providing $65,000 to his 2022 bid for a rematch with U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio. It is a seat that Republicans are targeting in their quest to win back the House.
Report Cites New Details of Trump Pressure on Justice Dept. Over Election
Yahoo News – Katie Benner (New York Times) | Published: 10/7/2021
An interim report by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee provides new details about Donald Trump’s efforts to pressure the Justice Department to do his bidding in the chaotic final weeks of his presidency. The report draws on documents, emails, and testimony from three top Justice Department officials. It provides the most complete account yet of Trump’s efforts to push the department to validate election fraud claims that had been disproved by the FBI and state investigators.
Sen. Grassley Congratulates Korean American Judge on Her Work Ethic. Some Asian Americans Say It Echoes Divisive Stereotypes.
MSN – Eugene Scott (Washington Post) | Published: 10/6/2021
U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, congratulated a Korean American judicial nominee for the “hard work ethic” of “you and your people,” invoking a stereotype about Asian Americans. The senator, who is seeking reelection to another six-year term, praised Lucy Koh, a judge nominated by President Biden to the federal appeals court, during her confirmation hearing. U.S. Rep. Judy Chu, chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, said even if Grassley’s motives were well-intentioned, they came from a place of prejudicial views.
Special Report – How AT&T Helped Build Far-Right One America News
MSN – John Shiffman (Reuters) | Published: 10/6/2021
A review of court records shows the role AT&T played in creating and funding One America News (OAN), a far-right network that continues to spread conspiracy theories about the 2020 election and the COVID-19 pandemic. OAN founder and chief executive Robert Herring Sr has testified the inspiration to launch OAN in 2013 came from AT&T executives. Since then, AT&T has been a crucial source of funds flowing into OAN, providing tens of millions of dollars in revenue. Ninety percent of OAN’s revenue came from a contract with AT&T-owned television platforms, including satellite broadcaster DirecTV.
U.S. Navy Hit by Another International Bribery Scandal
MSN – Craig Whitlock (Washington Post) | Published: 10/3/2021
U.S. Navy corruption case that has echoes of the “Fat Leonard” scandal with a defense contractor facing accusations he delivered cash bribes and bilked the Navy out of at least $50 million to service its ships in foreign ports. The Justice Department is trying to extradite the contractor – Frank Rafaraci, chief executive of Multinational Logistics Services (MLS) – from Malta. In one instance, when the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson visited Bahrain in January 2015, MLS billed the Navy for more than $231,000 in “port authority fees,” even though the port authority charged only $12,686.
Why Democrats See 3 Governor’s Races as a Sea Wall for Fair Elections
New York Times – Reid Epstein and Nick Corasaniti | Published: 10/6/2021
In three critical battleground states, Democratic governors have blocked efforts by Republican-controlled Legislatures to restrict voting rights and undermine the 2020 election. Now, the 2022 races for governor in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania – states that have long been vital to Democratic presidential victories – are taking on major new significance. At stake are how easy it is to vote, who controls the electoral system and, some Democrats worry, whether the results of federal, state, and local elections will be accepted no matter which party wins.
From the States and Municipalities
California – S.F. Ethics Commission Finds ‘Problematic’ Gifting at City Departments
MSN – Lauren Hernández (San Francisco Chronicle) | Published: 10/1/2021
Several departments in San Francisco have accepted gifts from restricted organizations – groups with which the city does business – and distributed those gifts to city employees, actions that undermine rules regarding gifts, according to a new report by the city Ethics Commission. The report released details “problematic” conduct related to gifts, including the awarding of tickets to events such as concerts, and the receipt of benefits and funds to pay for private parties, dinners, and other celebrations.
Florida – DeSantis Says He’s Running. Where Are the Documents?
MSN – Mary Ellen Klas (Miami Herald) | Published: 9/30/2021
Gov. Ron DeSantis announced he is running for re-election, but he has filed no campaign documents, released no financial disclosures, reported no campaign expenditures, nor established a campaign treasurer – all required for candidates for statewide office in Florida. The governor’s political committee had raised more than $50 million this election cycle. “We allow potential candidates to have political committees where they can raise unlimited amounts of money … then when they become an official candidate, we put limits on what they can raise and direct into the campaign account,” said Integrity Florida President Ben Wilcox.
Florida – Judge Revives Lawsuit Against Secretive Group That Paid for Ads in High-Stakes Senate Race
Orlando Sentinel – Jason Garcia and Annie Martin | Published: 10/6/2021
A lawmaker will get a second chance to force a secretive political group to reveal the donors who helped fund advertisements in a key Florida Senate race last year, after the media identified the possible leader of the group as Stephen Jones. A judge gave an extra 60 days for state Sen. Annette Taddeo to serve a lawsuit she filed against Floridians for Equality and Justice, which sent mailers last year attacking Democrat Patricia Sigman without disclosing its donors. Taddeo’s attorneys argued Jones “took steps to secret his true address in forming the political committee for the purpose of potentially avoiding responsibility for illegal acts.”
Georgia – Giving Limit Rises to $7,600 for Georgia Political Donors
MSN – Associated Press | Published: 9/30/2021
Candidates for statewide offices in Georgia can now accept more from each donor. Individuals, corporations, political committees, and political party can give each candidate up to $7,600 for each primary and general election and $4,500 for each runoff. That is up from $7,000 for primary and general elections and $4,100 for runoffs.
Georgia – Protection Against Violent Threats Could Be Legitimate Georgia Campaign Expense
Georgia Recorder – Jill Nolan | Published: 10/1/2021
The recent spate of violent threats against elected officials has the Georgia ethics commission rethinking its position on whether home security systems should qualify as a legitimate campaign-related expense. Seven years ago, the commission ruled candidates and officeholders could not use campaign funds to help secure their homes. But after a tumultuous last year, the current commissioners are on the verge of reversing course. The request comes from the Democratic Party of Georgia, but the escalation in threats toward public officials is a problem for both parties.
Idaho – In Idaho, a Power Play While the Governor’s Away
MSN – Associated Press | Published: 10/5/2021
Idaho Gov. Brad Little said he will rescind an executive order involving Covid-19 vaccines by Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, and the commanding general of the Idaho National Guard also told McGeachin she cannot activate troops to send to the U.S.-Mexico border. Little was in Texas meeting with nine other Republican governors over concerns on how President Biden is handling border issues. McGeachin, a far-right Republican, is running for governor. In Idaho, the governor and lieutenant governor do not run on the same ticket.
Illinois – Former City Club President in Texts to Mayor Lori Lightfoot: ‘ComEd duped me’ in bribery probe tied to Madigan
MSN – Gregory Pratt, Jason Meisner, and Ray Long (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 9/30/2021
Jay Doherty, former head of the City Club of Chicago who is under indictment, texted Mayor Lori Lightfoot that he had been misled by Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) and the utility’s alleged bribery of then-House Speaker Michael Madigan. The messages show Doherty tried to downplay his role in the probe to the mayor even after federal agents raided the City Club’s offices. The texts also show Lightfoot helped Doherty with a booking even after he was first publicly connected to the probe. Doherty was indicted in an alleged scheme to funnel money and jobs to Madigan loyalists in exchange for the speaker’s help with legislation ComEd wanted.
Indiana – Indiana Casino Exec and Former Republican Lawmaker Faces New Tax Fraud Charges
MSN – Johnny Magdaleno (Indianapolis Star) | Published: 10/1/2021
A federal grand jury imposed additional charges on an Indiana casino executive with for his alleged role in as scheme to funnel casino cash into an ex-state senator’s failed campaign for Congress. John Keeler was already facing four federal charges for allegedly working with out-of-state political consultants to recruit straw donors. Those straw donors were reimbursed with funds from Keeler’s casino company, according to federal prosecutors. Now the Justice Department says Keeler tried to use those contributions to lower his company’s taxable income.
Kentucky – Most KY State Workers Who Gamed the System to Collect Jobless Benefits Were Not Fired
Lexington Herald-Leader – John Cheves | Published: 10/6/2021
Of at least 19 state workers in Kentucky who participated in a scheme to improperly collect state and federal unemployment benefits during the spring of 2020, none were prosecuted while one was fired and eight were briefly suspended and then returned to their jobs. Gov. Andy Beshear had said the workers would be punished for their roles in a scheme to claim $54,232 in jobless benefits while still holding full-time state jobs. Some lied about lost part-time jobs to seem eligible; some used their official access to the state jobless benefits system to facilitate claims for themselves, colleagues, and friends.
Maine – Maine Ethics Commission Orders Investigation into Conservative Group’s Software System
Government Technology – Scott Thistle (Portland Press Herald) | Published: 9/30/2021
The Maine ethics commission voted to investigate whether the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is illegally trying to influence elections by providing a software package to lawmakers. But the Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices also voted to dismiss a complaint that two Republican state lawmakers violated campaign finance laws after it was determined they never used ALEC’s software for campaign purposes.
Maryland – Baltimore County Issues Final Recommendations for Fair Public Election System in New Report
MSN – Emily Goodnight (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 10/5/2021
The Baltimore County Fair Election Fund Work Group released its final report to help create the county’s first public campaign financing system. The group has spent the past six months developing a comprehensive set of recommendations, detailing how the county’s public campaign fund will work, including how candidates can qualify for public funding, the limits and thresholds related to matching fund limits, and how much funding campaigns can receive from the program.
Maryland – Former Hogan Chief of Staff Indicted on Charges of Secretly Recording Governor on Phone Calls, Embezzling Funds
MSN – Pamela Wood (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 10/5/2021
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s former chief of staff was indicted on charges he defrauded a state agency he led by inducing it to pay him nearly $280,000 in mostly severance pay before he moved to his post in the governor’s office. Roy McGrath also used funds from the Maryland Environmental Service to pay a personal pledge to a museum and got the agency to pay tuition expenses for a class after he left his job as executive director, according to the indictment. He also recorded conversations with senior state officials without their consent and faces state charges.
Michigan – Gov. Whitmer Vetoes 4 Election Bills at NAACP Dinner, Says They Perpetuated ‘Big Lie’
MSN – Clara Hendrickson (Detroit Free Press) | Published: 10/4/2021
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoed four election bills, the first of dozens expected to land on her desk following the contentious 2020 presidential election and the flurry of legislative activity it has prompted to overhaul voting laws across the country. The measures would have codified current election practices, required election challengers to undergo training, and expanded the types of places that could serve as polling locations.
Michigan – Taylor Mayor Pocketed Campaign Cash, Lottery Tickets in Bribery Scandal, Feds Say
Detroit Free Press – Robert Snell | Published: 10/5/2021
Federal prosecutors leveled new allegations against Taylor Mayor Rick Sollars, accusing him of cashing campaign checks at a party store in exchange for cash and scratch-off lottery tickets while corrupting a city foreclosed property program. The allegations were contained in a new criminal case against an alleged co-conspirator as prosecutors signaled at least two people are expected to plead guilty in connection with the case. Sollars was indicted in December 2019 on federal bribery and wire fraud charges and accused of helping a man obtain city-owned properties in exchange for free work on his home and vacation chalet.
Mississippi – Mississippi Aid Program Gave Little Help to Renters, but Millions to a Top Law Firm
MSN – Jonathan O’Connell and Yeganeh Torbati (Washington Post) | Published: 10/1/2021
More than seven months after Congress created the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, Mississippi had spent only 11 percent of $186.7 million in first-round funding, compared with a national average of 32 percent. Mississippians are clamoring for the funds: 9,000 people applied to the program in August. But tenants and advocates say it can take more than a month to get a response from the program, which is administered in part by Balch & Bingham, a politically connected law firm. Hired through a no-bid $3.8 million contract, the firm plays a key role in reviewing and scrutinizing aid applications, a process critics say leads to enormous delays.
Missouri – Missouri Ethics Commission: Columbia Mayor Must Terminate Campaign Committee
Columbia Missourian – Stephanie Southey | Published: 10/1/2021
Columbia Mayor Brian Treece was ordered to terminate his campaign committee. The Missouri Ethics Commission issued the order and said Treece violated state law. The state law from 2016 requires registered lobbyists to dissolve their candidate committees and that the campaign money should be returned to donors or contributed to a nonprofit group or political party committee. Treece did not terminate his committee in 2016 before registering as a lobbyist in 2017, 2018, 2019, or 2020.
New Mexico – Free Lunches Earn Business Access to New Mexico Lawmakers
MSN – Cedar Attanasio (Associated Press) | Published: 10/7/2021
As long as they are disclosed, it is legal for companies to buy New Mexico lawmakers lunches and give gifts. Sen. Gay Kernan said sponsored lunches have been common practice in her 19 years serving the Legislature, and that a sandwich cannot buy her vote. Former Rep. Jim Dines, who says he refused to accept as much as a bottle of water from lobbyists, believes there is a problem. “The appearance of impropriety is always there when you accept something [for] free. … Only the legislator themselves know whether … they’re being influenced,” said Dines.
New Mexico – NM Ethics Agency Seeks Expanded Staff, Jurisdiction
Albuquerque Journal – Dan McKay | Published: 10/1/2021
The State Ethics Commission will ask New Mexico lawmakers next year to sharply increase its staff to ensure the agency can carry out its role as an independent watchdog. The agency also agreed to ask the Legislature to expand its jurisdiction to the parts of the state constitution that prohibit profiting from public office and ban lawmakers from having an interest in contracts authorized by bills passed during their term.
New York – JCOPE Votes to Investigate Itself Over Cuomo Book Deal Approval
WXXI – Karen Dewitt | Published: 10/5/2021
The Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) voted to open an independent investigation of how the panel approved a $5 million book deal for former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to write a memoir about his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. The deal has been the subject of a probe by the state attorney general as well as federal investigators. Cuomo never submitted the book contract to the panel, and the full commission never voted to approve the arrangement. Several commissioners complained at the time they were shut out of the decisions.
New York – Lovely Warren to Resign by Dec. 1 as Part of Plea Deal Over All Criminal Charges She Faces
MSN – Gary Craig and Brian Sharp (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle) | Published: 10/4/2021
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren admitted to violating the state’s election law and, as part of a plea agreement, will resign from office by December 1. The plea deal heads off what was expected to be a month-long trial, while also resolving weapons and child endangerment charges Warren confronted in a separate criminal case. The city’s first Black woman to be elected mayor, Warren’s tenure has been a roller coaster ride, highlighted by some successful commercial development throughout the community but marred by the criminal allegations that have now hounded her for a year.
New York – Want to Be a City Commissioner? It Helps to Be Friendly with the Mayor.
New York Times – Dana Rubenstein | Published: 10/6/2021
Faced with half a dozen major vacancies during his eighth and final year in office, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio had what appeared to be a simple choice: promote an experienced hand from within or persuade an outsider to sign on for what was likely to be a very temporary job. But in three of those instances, de Blasio chose a third option – he hired a loyalist. Each of the three has demonstrated long-term fidelity to the outgoing mayor, and he has reciprocated by putting them atop agencies of which they have varying levels of subject-matter expertise.
Ohio – Ohio Supreme Court Justice Pat DeWine Says He Won’t Recuse Himself from Redistricting Lawsuits Involving His Father, Gov. Mike DeWine
Cleveland Plain Dealer – Andrew Tobias | Published: 9/30/2021
Ohio Supreme Court Justice Pat DeWine says he does not plan to recuse himself from hearing a trio of lawsuits challenging new state House and Senate districts his father, Gov. Mike DeWine, voted to approve. Justice DeWine has recused himself at times from lawsuits involving decisions made by his father, including as recently as September, when, saying he wanted to “avoid the appearance of impropriety,” he withdrew from a case challenging Gov. DeWine’s decision to end enhanced federal unemployment benefits. In the redistricting cases, Justice DeWine noted his father was one of seven members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission, which approved the maps.
Ohio – Ohio’s Medicaid Director Owns the Stock of Some Major Contractors, but Won’t Say How Much
Ohio Capital Journal – Marty Schladen | Published: 10/6/2021
Since she became director of the Ohio Department of Medicaid in January 2019, Maureen Corcoran has owned stock in some of the department’s biggest contractors. Given the size of those contracts, they could have increased the value of the stock Corcoran owned. But while she complied with one set of state disclosure requirements, Corcoran will not say just how much stock she owns in such companies as CVS Health, UnitedHealth Group, and Express Scripts, each of which has done billions of dollars’ worth of business with the Medicaid department since Corcoran started running it.
Oregon – People for Portland Co-Founder Accused of Two-Timing Powerful Business Group
MSN – Shane Dixon Kavanaugh (Portland Oregonian) | Published: 9/30/2021
Lobbyist Dan Lavey ditched the Oregon Beer and Wine Distributors Association, an off-and-on client for years, after receiving a financial offer he “couldn’t refuse” from the Northwest Grocery Association, the beer and wine distributors allege. The two industry associations, among the most influential in Oregon, are frequent political opponents and are poised to square-off again over a possible ballot initiative next year that would privatize state liquor sales. “Reputation and relationships are all we have in this work [and] flagrantly flipping sides is not something we usually see in Oregon politics,” said Amy Ruiz, a senior vice president with Strategies 360.
Pennsylvania – John Dougherty and Bobby Henon Bribery Trial: What you need to know
MSN – Oona Goodin-Smith (Philadelphia Inquirer) | Published: 10/4/2021
Union leader John Dougherty and Philadelphia City Councilperson Bobby Henon are now in court more than two years after they were charged in a federal bribery and corruption case. The outcome could shape the future of organized labor, politics, and public corruption investigations in the city for years to come. Federal prosecutors charged Dougherty, Henon, and six other Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers officials. But last year, a judge granted a defense request to split the case into two trials. The first trial is focused solely on charges tied to the relationship between Dougherty and Henon.
Pennsylvania – South Fla. Pols Wondered Where Campaign Cash Came From. The Answer Led to a Beleaguered N.J. Developer
MSN – Jacob Adelman (Philadelphia Inquirer) | Published: 10/7/2021
National Realty Investment Advisors (NRIA) pitches outsized investor returns in television and radio ads from its development projects. Many of those projects have been in Philadelphia. NRIA is under investigation by the FBI and financial regulators, and a former executive has separately been charged with fraud. One of the major projects it is depending on to start generating profits is in Delray Beach, Florida. Three New Jersey companies contributed to Delray Beach politicians with a common link to the city: all were started by NRIA employees and NRIA needed officials’ approval for its $59 million apartment project there.
Rhode Island – Senators Grill McKee Administration Over $5.2 Million Contract
MSN – Edward Fitzgerald (Boston Globe) | Published: 10/6/2021
The Senate oversight committee grilled officials in Rhode Island Gov. Daniel McKee’s administration over a $5.2-million contract awarded to ILO Group, a consulting firm that formed two days after McKee took office. The committee looked at a Zoom call that took place on March 5, one day after the ILO had formed. That meeting led to the state seeking proposals and awarding contracts to ILO and a lower bidder. The Zoom call included Mike Magee, one of McKee’s top campaign donors and the leader of Chiefs for Change, a network of state and district education chiefs. Senators noted ILO’s managing partner, Julia Rafal-Baer, worked for Chiefs for Change, and she had been invited to join that Zoom meeting.
South Dakota – Did Kristi Noem Abuse Governor’s Office to Get Daughter Appraiser License? Accountability Panel Will Decide
MSN – Joe Sneve (Sioux Falls Argus Leader) | Published: 10/6/2021
A panel of South Dakota judges will review allegations about Gov. Kristi Noem abused her office to help her daughter obtain a state appraiser license. The attorney general’s office announced it was referring the complaint to the Government Accountability Board, which will investigate the matter and determine if any misconduct occurred. The allegations center around a meeting Noem had with officials with the Department of Labor and Regulation after the agency had recommended denying Noem’s daughter, Kassidy Peters, a real estate appraiser license.
September 24, 2021 •
National/Federal A Republican Fundraising Vendor Wants More Small-Dollar Contributors to Replace Vanishing PAC Money Campaigns and Elections – Staff | Published: 9/22/2021 A large Republican fundraising vendor is pushing its clients to reorient their strategies around small-dollar contributors as PAC donations […]
A Republican Fundraising Vendor Wants More Small-Dollar Contributors to Replace Vanishing PAC Money
Campaigns and Elections – Staff | Published: 9/22/2021
A large Republican fundraising vendor is pushing its clients to reorient their strategies around small-dollar contributors as PAC donations have dried up in the wake of the January 6 insurrection and a move away from Washington, D.C. lobbying by corporations and trade associations. Fundraising Inc., a vendor that is under the Axiom Strategies corporate umbrella, announced it has “revamped the traditional PAC-focused GOP fundraising model” to an “updated approach … to better compete with Democrats for small-dollar donations.”
Dark News: The murky world of undercover EU lobbying
Politico – Mark Scott | Published: 9/16/2021
EU Reporter is not alone in offering companies and governments a paid-for platform to promote their views to European Union officials. Other Brussels-based outlets publish clearly labeled sponsored content from advertisers seeking to influence decision-makers. But EU Reporter presents its coverage as straight news, with rarely an indication that a company or government paid for the articles. In addition to undisclosed paid-for content, the site posts EU and corporate press releases, opinion articles from European lawmakers, and original material, making it impossible for readers to determine who is behind the coverage.
Democrats Begin Effort to Curb Post-Trump Presidential Powers
Yahoo Finance – Charlie Savage (New York Times) | Published: 9/21/2021
House Democrats introduced a package of proposed new limits on executive power on, beginning a post-Trump push to strengthen checks on the presidency that they hope will compare to the overhauls that followed the Watergate scandal and the Vietnam War. Democrats have spent months negotiating with the Biden White House to refine a broad set of proposals that amount to a point-by-point rebuke of the ways Donald Trump shattered norms over the course of his presidency. The Democrats have compiled numerous bills into a package they call the Protecting Our Democracy Act.
Durham Prosecution Faces Hurdles in D.C. Court
Yahoo News – Josh Gerstein (Politico) | Published: 9/17/2021
For Special Counsel John Durham, obtaining an indictment of lawyer Michael Sussmann for allegedly lying to the FBI during its investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia may turn out to be the easy part. Getting a Washington jury to convict Sussmann could be far harder, judging by a case with significant parallels: the 2019 prosecution of former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig.
Huge Hack Reveals Embarrassing Details of Who’s Behind Proud Boys and Other Far-Right Websites
MSN – Drew Harwell, Craig Timberg, and Hannah Allam (Washington Post) | Published: 9/21/2021
Epik has been the favorite Internet company of the far right, providing domain services to QAnon theorists, Proud Boys, and other instigators of the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, allowing them to broadcast hateful messages from behind a veil of anonymity. But that veil vanished when a breach by the hacker group Anonymous dumped more than 150 gigabytes of previously private data – including usernames, passwords, and other identifying information of Epik’s customers. Researchers have treated the leak as a Rosetta Stone to the far right, helping them to decode who has been doing what with whom over several years.
‘It’s Spreading’: Phony election fraud conspiracies infect midterms
MSN – David Siders and Zach Montellaro (Politico) | Published: 9/20/2021
Donald Trump may have started the “Big Lie” movement, but what was once the province of an aggrieved former president has spread far beyond him, infecting elections at every level with vague, unspecified claims that future races are already rigged. It is a fiction that is poised to factor heavily in the midterm elections and in 2024, providing Republican candidates with a rallying cry for the rank-and-file and priming the electorate for future challenges to races the GOP may lose.
Jan. 6 Investigation Accelerates as It Turns Toward Trump
Yahoo News – Kyle Cheney and Nicholas Wu (Politico) | Published: 9/22/2021
Six members of the U.S. House panel investigating the Capitol attack made clear they are prepared to fly past any obstacles they encounter, mindful of Trump’s past success at stymieing congressional investigators. The calendar makes their job tougher: panel members know they need to show results quickly as the midterms bear down, given Democrats’ thin majority. The potential hurdles are many, from high-powered lawyers representing the former president’s inner circle to the tech companies sitting on potential witnesses’ communications. But they are already getting results from some corners.
Lauren Boebert Paid Rent and Utilities with Campaign Funds, FEC Filings Show
Denver Post – Conrad Swanson | Published: 9/22/2021
U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert paid rent and utility bills with campaign funds in violation of federal campaign finance laws, new filings with the FEC show. The filings also indicate Boebert reimbursed her campaign for the $6,650 worth of payments. Each of the four payments in question (two for $2,000 each and another two for $1,325 each) were amended to show payments for the same amount, description, and on the same days to John Pacheco, whose address is the same as Shooters Grill in Rifle, which Boebert owns. Pacheco’s relationship to Boebert was not immediately clear.
Lawmakers Launch Investigation into Climate Crisis Disinformation by Fossil Fuel Industry
MSN – Ella Nilsen (CNN) | Published: 9/16/2021
The House Oversight and Reform Committee announced it is launching an investigation into fossil fuel industry disinformation on the climate crisis. The committee invited the heads of six oil companies and major lobbying groups to testify in October. The announcement comes after reports the industry participated in campaigns aimed at creating confusion about the cause of the climate crisis, or sowing skepticism in the science.
Outside Ethics Group Says 7 House Lawmakers Didn’t Disclose Stock Trades
National Public Radio – Deidre Walsh | Published: 9/22/2021
The Campaign Legal Center filed ethics complaints against seven U.S. House members for failing to report stock trades. It is the latest example of a bipartisan trend that has emerged almost 10 years after Congress overwhelmingly passed a law to provide transparency and show lawmakers are not profiting from their jobs: Members of Congress are ignoring the disclosure law. What makes the complaints filed Wednesday different is that it appears these members never filed reports at all.
Powell Orders Ethics Review After Fed Presidents Disclosed Multimillion-Dollar Investments
CNBC – Thomas Franck | Published: 9/16/2021
Federal Reserve Chairperson Jerome Powell directed staff to review the central bank’s ethics rules for appropriate financial activities after disclosures that several senior officials made multiple multimillion-dollar stock trades in 2020, while others held significant investments. News of Powell’s inquiry broke after U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren sent 12 letters to the Fed’s regional bank presidents demanding stricter ethics from the nation’s top central bank officials. She called on each Fed president to institute a ban on the ownership and trading of individual stocks by senior officials at each regional office.
Roger Stone Served ‘a Big, Big Stack of Papers’ from Capitol Riot Lawsuit During Radio Interview
Seattle Times – Timothy Bella (Washington Post) | Published: 9/16/2021
As he was asked in a phone interview whether former President Trump would run in 2024, Roger Stone paused to answer the front door. Stone, a longtime confidant to the former president, apologized to the St. Louis radio show, but he had a good reason: he was being served with papers related to the lawsuit filed by seven U.S. Capitol Police officers against him, Trump, far-right “violent extremist groups,” and others accused of being responsible for the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
The FEC Unanimously Rejected Matt Gaetz’s Complaint Against Twitter Over an Alleged 2018 ‘Shadow Ban’
Yahoo News – Brian Metzger (Business Insider) | Published: 9/17/2021
The FEC unanimously rejected a complaint by U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz against Twitter that alleged the company violated campaign finance regulations by “shadow-banning” Gaetz in 2018, limiting the visibility of his account on the website’s search results. Twitter said Gaetz was caught up in an automated process by the company to improve discourse on Twitter because his account was “associated with other accounts that already had high indicia of misuse or abuse.”
Threats Against Members of Congress Are Skyrocketing. It’s Changing the Job.
Yahoo News – Sarah Wire (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 9/20/2021
In a year that kicked off with the deadly January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, threats against lawmakers are soaring. In the first three months of 2021, the Capitol Police recorded 4,135 threats against members of Congress. If that pace continues, total threats this year will double those in 2020. It is changing the job for lawmakers, who must tread a fine line between being accessible to those they represent and keeping themselves, their families, and their staffs safe. After January 6, some members temporarily relocated their families over concerns their homes would be targeted. Some wore bulletproof vests to the presidential inauguration.
Trump Campaign Knew Lawyers’ Voting Machine Claims Were Baseless, Memo Shows
Yahoo News – Alan Feuer (New York Times) | Published: 9/21/2021
A team of lawyers allied with Donald Trump held a news conference after the 2020 election and laid out a conspiracy theory claiming a voting machine company had worked with an election software firm, the financier George Soros, and Venezuela to steal the presidential contest from Trump. But by the time the news conference occurred on November 19, Trump’s campaign had already prepared an internal memo on many of the outlandish claims about the company, Dominion Voting Systems, and the separate software company, Smartmatic, according to court documents The memo determined those allegations were untrue.
Trump Just Sued the New York Times and His Niece. If History Is a Guide, He Probably Won’t Win.
MSN – Paul Farhi and Sarah Ellison (Washington Post) | Published: 9/22/2021
Donald Trump has once again sued a news organization alleging its reporting was unfair to him. If history is any guide, this one is also likely to generate a flurry of attention before quietly stalling out. Trump’s latest lawsuit is aimed at the New York Times and his niece, Mary Trump. It centers on the newspaper’s publication in 2018 of a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation of Trump’s alleged tax-avoidance tactics and the history of his family inheritance.
Two GOP Operatives Indicted for Allegedly Routing Money from Russian National to Support Trump Campaign
MSN – Felicia Sonmez and Isaac Stanley-Becker (Washington Post) | Published: 9/20/2021
President Trump after being convicted in a 2012 campaign finance scheme is facing new charges related to an alleged 2016 plot to illegally funnel donations made by a Russian national to support then-candidate Trump’s White House bid. Jesse Benton, who was previously a top aide to U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and later ran a pro-Trump super PAC, and Roy Wead, a conservative author and former special assistant to President George H.W. Bush, were charged in the case.
Canada – Trudeau’s Party Wins Canada Vote but Fails to Get Majority
MSN – Rob Gilles (Associated Press) | Published: 9/21/2021
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party secured victory in parliamentary elections but failed to get the majority in a vote that focused on the coronavirus pandemic, but many Canadians saw as unnecessary. Trudeau entered the election leading a stable minority government that was not under threat of being toppled but was hoping Canadians would reward him with a majority for navigating the pandemic better than many other leaders. Still, Trudeau struggled to justify why he called the election early given the virus, and the opposition accused him of holding the vote two years before the deadline for his own ambition.
From the States and Municipalities
Alabama – Candidates Will Not Be Able to Fundraise During the Special Session
Alabama Reporter – Brandon Moseley | Published: 9/23/2021
Alabama legislators will convene for a special session on September 27. This means state lawmakers, candidates for the Legislature, and statewide officeholders and candidates for statewide office will not be able to accept campaign contributions. The secretary of state’s office said any contribution postmarked prior to the blackout and received after the blackout may be accepted.
Alaska – Protect Juneau’s Future Shared Who Paid for Its Campaign, but No Laws Require It
KTOO – Jeremy Hsieh | Published: 9/21/2021
A deadline passed for local candidates and issues groups all over the state to disclose their campaign finances ahead of local elections on October 5. But the public probably will never know exactly who paid how much for the campaign that helped quash a ballot initiative to limit cruise ships in Juneau. That is because campaign finance disclosure laws would not apply in this case until after it cleared the signature-gathering stage.
California – Kern County Under Investigation After Denying Group COVID Contract Over Support for Defunding Police
Yahoo News – Sam Morgen (Bakersfield Californian) | Published: 9/22/2021
Kern County may end up paying for a decision by the board of supervisors to withhold a $1.2 million coronavirus contract from a nonprofit group that had voiced support for defunding police. The nonprofits were selected because of their community ties. The Kern County Public Health Department said the groups would be a more trusted resource to communities at the greatest risk than county officials. Building Healthy Communities said in Facebook posts funding for the Bakersfield Police Department and the Kern High School District Police Department should be diverted to other causes. That was enough for supervisors to withhold approval of a contract to the organization even though preparation and hiring had already taken place.
Florida – A Local Government Candidate Claimed to Be the City’s ‘Most High-Profile Hispanic Democrat.’ She’s Not Hispanic.
MSN – Jaclyn Peiser (Washington Post) | Published: 9/22/2021
Speaking before a group of Democratic leaders in Florida’s Miami-Dade County on Zoom, Miami Beach City Commission candidate Kristen Rosen Gonzalez made her pitch as to why the party should endorse her. She called herself “the most high-profile Hispanic Democrat in the city of Miami Beach.” Not endorsing her, she continued, “would be upsetting and confusing” for constituents. But Rosen Gonzalez is not Hispanic.
Florida – Anti-Mask FL GOP Bookkeeper Dies of COVID – Leaving Party Without Access to Finance Software
MSN – Brett Bachnman (Salon) | Published: 9/19/2021
After spending months railing against COVID-19 precautions, a Republican Party official in Florida passed away recently, leaving his county-level GOP organization without access to critical financial accounts. Gregg Prentice served as accountant for the Hillsborough County GOP and chaired the organization’s committee for election integrity, and was responsible for filing its monthly reports to the FEC. A filing claims Prentice died without sharing login information for these accounts, or any sort of instructions for how to use them.
Florida – Senate Redistricting Chair Vows to Redeem Process as He Plans to Limit Public’s Input
MSN – Mary Ellen Klas (Miami Herald) | Published: 9/20/2021
The Florida Senate announced new rules that put limits on the input the chamber gets from average citizens, political consultants, and lobbyists. The Senate will require more disclosure from anyone who attempts to address legislators in a public meeting by requiring them to submit a disclosure form that indicates if they are a lobbyist or getting their expenses paid. Legislators will be required to retain all records of communications they get about maps. The goal is to prevent lawmakers from using political consultants to illegally influence redistricting as they did 10 years ago, when the courts invalidated the legislatively drawn Senate maps.
Florida – Tallahassee Ethics Board Proposing Stronger Lobbying Ordinances, Expanded Role
MSN – Karl Etters (Tallahassee Democrat) | Published: 9/17/2021
The Tallahassee Independent Ethics Board wants to strengthen policies governing lobbyists as the glare of a federal corruption probe and investigative reporters have illuminated paid work and deal-making done behind the scenes on projects and policies. The board is recommending two ordinances and one change to the city charter that requires a ballot amendment in language sent to the city commission. The ethics panel has been working for months to add more teeth to its role in regulating lobbying in the city.
Georgia – Fulton Board Gets New Chair as Georgia Reviews Its Elections
Yahoo News – Kate Brumback (Associated Press) | Published: 9/16/2021
Commissioners in Fulton County picked former Atlanta City Council President to lead their election board as a state panel reviews how elections are conducted in Georgia’s most populous county. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican facing a primary challenge next year, objected to what he called a “blatantly political appointment” because Woolard had registered earlier this year as a lobbyist for Fair Fight Action, a group started by Stacey Abrams, a Democrat who narrowly lost the race for governor in 2018.
Illinois – Sources Say Chicago Ald. Jim Gardiner Allegedly Tried to Pay Campaign Worker with Tax Dollars
WBEZ – Mariah Woelfel | Published: 9/19/2021
Chicago Ald. Jim Gardiner allegedly tried to use taxpayer funds to pay an employee for work they did on his 2020 campaign for ward committeeman, sources said. It is the latest allegation to unfold as Gardiner is facing inquiries by multiple agencies, including the FBI, and possible censure by his city council colleagues for crude texts he wrote about constituents and colleagues, as well as allegedly withholding city services from critics.
Indiana – Longest Serving State Senator Forced Out of His Seat in Redistricting Process: ‘This is a classic example of gerrymandering.’
Chicago Daily Herald – Alexandra Kukulka (Post-Tribune) | Published: 9/22/2021
Frank Mrvan, the longest serving member of the Indiana Senate, has been effectively forced out of his seat after the redrawing of Senate maps would require him to move or run against a colleague. “This is a classic example of gerrymandering,” said Lake County Democratic Party Chairperson James Wieser. “It’s disrespectful to a public official that’s given his heart and soul, as has his whole family, to our party for 50 years plus.”
Massachusetts – Ex-Mayor, Elected at Age 23, Gets 6 Years in Corruption Case
Yahoo News – Alanna Durkin Richer (Associated Press) | Published: 9/21/2021
Former Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia was sentenced to six years in prison after being convicted of extorting hundreds of thousands of dollars from marijuana businesses that wanted to operate in his city. The judge handed down his punishment after tossing several convictions stemming from allegations that Correia swindled investors who backed a smartphone app he created. “If we can’t trust each other, if we can’t trust our government, where are we?” U.S. District Court Judge Douglas Woodlock asked.
Michigan – Facing Tight Timeline, Voter-Led Michigan Redistricting Commission on Steep Learning Curve
MSN – Clara Hendrickson (Detroit Free Press) | Published: 9/20/2021
Michigan’s first-ever citizen redistricting commission is finding itself on a steep learning curve as members race against the clock to draw new maps ahead of the 2022 election, crunching a monthslong process into a matter of weeks following an unprecedented delay in census data. The Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission blew past a deadline in the state constitution for proposing the new districts. But with four weeks of mapping under its belt, the commissioners, who have never drawn political districts before, have raised concerns the group might not get the job done in the time it has allotted for itself.
Missouri – Lawmakers Renting from Lobbyists Less Often in Jefferson City
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Jack Suntrup | Published: 9/16/2021
Lobbyists are no longer leasing housing to Missouri lawmakers in Jefferson City, with one exception. State Rep. Adam Schwadron is the only legislator renting from a registered lobbyist, according to disclosures filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission. Leases between lobbyists and state officials have drawn scrutiny in the past and have been less common in recent years: between 2016 and 2018, lobbyists reported renting to a dozen lawmakers and state officials.
Montana – Montana Doesn’t Always Draw a Straight Line from Groups to Their Lobbying
Helena Independent Record – Sam Wilson (Lee Newspapers State Bureau) | Published: 9/19/2021
Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Jeff Mangan acknowledged the state does not have a perfect system for connecting principals to the on-the-ground lobbying efforts they are paying for. Along with the inability to track reported lobbying expenses in a centralized database, there were a number of groups that paid lobbyists during the 2021 session without saying what legislation they were lobbying for or against, or that funneled lobbying expenses through other groups. In other instances, the flow of dollars from groups or corporations through multiple lobbying firms further obscured the money’s source.
New Mexico – Grand Jury Indicts Ex-Lawmaker in Alleged Kickback Scheme
MSN – Morgan Lee (Associated Press) | Published: 9/20/2021
Former New Mexico Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton was indicted by a grand jury on charges of racketeering, money laundering, fraud, and ethics violations in connection with an alleged kickback scheme. She was fired in August by the Albuquerque public school system from her position in vocational education amid administrative and criminal probes into her ties to a private contractor for the state’s largest school district.
New York – Aides of Former Gov. Cuomo on Hook for New Legal Bills
MSN – Marina Villeneuve (Associated Press) | Published: 9/23/2021
New York state has stopped paying legal bills for state employees who worked for former Gov. Andrew Cuomo as he faced ongoing investigations on the state and federal level. The state stopped paying for those aides’ legal bills after September 2. The Hochul administration is now deciding whether there is a legal basis for the state to pay bills for legal services on or before September 2. The administration did not specify how many staffers had legal bills paid for by the state.
New York – State Inspector General Resigns Amid Controversy
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 9/17/2021
New York Inspector General Letizia Tagliafierro, a longtime aide to former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, resigned from her post as the executive branch’s top internal-affairs watchdog. Tagliafierro’s departure comes less than a month after Cuomo’s resignation and two weeks after the Joint Commission on Public Ethics voted to ask state Attorney General Letitia James to investigate the conduct of the inspector general’s office in its probe of an illegal leak of confidential information from the ethics commission to Cuomo in January 2019.
North Carolina – North Carolina Judges Strike Down State’s Voter ID Law
MSN – Gary Robertson (Associated Press) | Published: 9/17/2021
North Carolina judges struck down the state’s latest photo voter identification law, agreeing with minority voters that Republicans approved rules tainted by racial bias to remain in power. Two of the three trial judges declared the December 2018 law is unconstitutional, even though it was designed to implement a photo voter ID mandate added to the North Carolina Constitution in a referendum just weeks earlier. They said the law intentionally discriminates against Black voters, violating their equal protections.
Pennsylvania – New Equity Report Required of Lobbyists & Lobbying Firms in Pennsylvania
JD Supra – Staff | Published: 9/22/2021
Starting this year, Pennsylvania is requiring all registered lobbyists and lobbying firms to file an Annual Equity Report. The report must disclose how much equity, as a percentage, the lobbyist or firm holds or has held in an affiliate principal, and for whom the lobbyist or firm lobbied during the reporting period. The report must be filed even if the lobbyist or firm has no equity to report.
Pennsylvania – Pa. Legislators Promised #MeToo Reforms Inside Capitol. So Far, Few Changes Have Become Law
LancasterOnline.com – Lindsay Weber (Allentown Morning Call) | Published: 9/22/2021
Three years after a handful of sexual harassment and assault cases plagued the state Capitol and prompted calls for reform, little has changed in how Pennsylvania’s political leaders handle new accusations. Legislation inspired by the #MeToo movement designed to hold accountable those involved in sexual misconduct and those who cover it up would have created independent, streamlined ways for staffers and others to report complaints. But those proposals have gone nowhere. Bills that would have banned nondisclosure agreements and prevented the use of taxpayer money for settlements have met the same fate.
Rhode Island – Former State Official to Pay Fine to Settle Ethics Complaint
Bowling Green Daily News – Associated Press | Published: 9/21/2021
A former state official in Rhode Island will pay a $4,500 fine to settle an ethics complaint over his solicitation of campaign donations from state vendors for a mayoral run. Brett Smiley, who is running for Providence mayor, resigned as director of the Rhode Island Department of Administration early this year. The agency oversees hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of state contracting and spending. Smiley admitted that six separate solicitations from an owner or officer of a company that does business with the state violated the code of ethics.
Rhode Island – RI Donor-Disclosure Laws Upheld Again; Conservative Group Says It Will Appeal to High Court
MSN – Patrick Anderson (Providence Journal) | Published: 9/16/2021
A federal appeals court upheld Rhode Island’s campaign-spending disclosure laws against a constitutional challenge by a coalition of conservative groups. Those groups say they intend to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. A three-judge panel of the First Circuit Court of Appeals on said the law that makes top donors identify themselves in certain election advertising does not infringe on those donors’ free-speech rights.
September 23, 2021 •
Campaign Finance Alaska: “Protect Juneau’s Future Shared Who Paid for Its Campaign, but No Laws Require It” by Jeremy Hsieh for KTOO Elections National: “Trump Campaign Knew Lawyers’ Voting Machine Claims Were Baseless, Memo Shows” by Alan Feuer (New York […]
Alaska: “Protect Juneau’s Future Shared Who Paid for Its Campaign, but No Laws Require It” by Jeremy Hsieh for KTOO
National: “Trump Campaign Knew Lawyers’ Voting Machine Claims Were Baseless, Memo Shows” by Alan Feuer (New York Times) for Yahoo News
National: “Huge Hack Reveals Embarrassing Details of Who’s Behind Proud Boys and Other Far-Right Websites” by Drew Harwell, Craig Timberg, and Hannah Allam (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Durham Prosecution Faces Hurdles in D.C. Court” by Josh Gerstein (Politico) for Yahoo News
New York: “State Inspector General Resigns Amid Controversy” by Chris Bragg for Albany Times Union
Pennsylvania: “Pa. Legislators Promised #MeToo Reforms Inside Capitol. So Far, Few Changes Have Become Law” by Lindsay Weber (Allentown Morning Call) for LancasterOnline.com
California: “Kern County Under Investigation After Denying Group COVID Contract Over Support for Defunding Police” by Sam Morgen (Bakersfield Californian) for Yahoo News
August 27, 2021 •
National/Federal A Capitol Riot Suspect Was Hours Away from Sentencing. Then Prosecutors Received Video of an Assault on Police. MSN – Katie Shepherd (Washington Post) | Published: 8/19/2021 Even after Robert Reeder pleaded guilty to illegally picketing inside the U.S. Capitol […]
A Capitol Riot Suspect Was Hours Away from Sentencing. Then Prosecutors Received Video of an Assault on Police.
MSN – Katie Shepherd (Washington Post) | Published: 8/19/2021
Even after Robert Reeder pleaded guilty to illegally picketing inside the U.S. Capitol on January 6, he remained adamant he was innocent of the worst allegations leveled against him. Prosecutors argued Reeder actively participated in chants with rioters and egged on the aggressive crowd, though they could not show he participated in any violence. They asked a federal judge to sentence him with a fine and prison time. But new video from the riot that surfaced just before his sentencing hearing appeared to show Reeder allegedly physically grappling with a police officer.
California Republican Is Debt Free for First Time in Office. What Happened to His Creditors?
Fresno Bee – Gillian Brassil (Sacramento Bee) | Published: 8/23/2021
U.S. Rep. David Valadao claimed no liabilities for 2020 – a far cry from 2019, when he said he owed at least $16 million to various creditors, some of whom he did not disclose the identities of, in connection to one of his family’s dairy farms. The farm declared bankruptcy after Valadao and his family’s farms were sued by Rabobank, a financial services company, over unpaid loans. Maria Martinez who lives in Valadao’s district, filed an ethics complaint seeking more information about the unidentified creditors from Valadao’s previous disclosure forms. The complaint says it is unlikely the unnamed creditors were each owed less than $10,000 given the limited number of people listed in the farm’s bankruptcy filings.
DOJ Investigating One-Time Trump Campaign Adviser Over Alleged Ties to Qatar: Report
MSN – Karl Evers-Hillstrom (The Hill) | Published: 8/24/2021
Federal prosecutors are investigating whether one-time Trump campaign adviser and lobbyist Barry Bennett set up an advocacy group without disclosing its ties to Qatar. Bennett reportedly launched a group called Yemen Crisis to embarrass Qatar’s rivals – Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – amid their military campaign in Yemen. Bennett did not disclose his ties to Yemen Crisis Watch, or register the group under lobbying laws, despite receiving $250,000 from the Embassy of Qatar “for use in supporting the relief of humanitarian suffering in Yemen,” according to a Justice Department filing.
Ethics Office: Rep. Mooney tapped campaign funds for family vacations, fast food
Roll Call – Chris Marquette | Published: 8/25/2021
U.S. Rep. Alex Mooney spent thousands of campaign dollars on personal expenses, including numerous fast-food meals and family excursions to West Virginia resorts, while failing to properly report more than $40,000 in expenditures, the Office of Congressional Ethics found. Mooney’s deficient reporting to the FEC concealed additional instances of converting campaign funds for personal use, according to an OCE report. After the OCE launched the inquiry, Mooney paid his campaign back more than $12,000.
FCC Proposes Record $5 Million Fine Against Jacob Wohl, Jack Burkman for Election Robocalls
MSN – Rachel Lerman (Washington Post) | Published: 8/24/2021
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed a $5.1 million fine against two right-wing operatives known for perpetuating conspiracy theories, in one of its largest penalties to date. Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman improperly made 1,141 election-related robocalls to cellphones without getting people’s consent first, which the law requires. The pair were charged with four felonies in Michigan last year for allegedly intimidating voters with robocalls that spread inaccurate messages about voting by mail.
Foreign Lobbyists Gave Millions to Influence 2020 Elections Amid Foreign Influence Concerns
Center for Responsive Politics – Anna Massoglia | Published: 8/19/2021
Individuals registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act made at least $8.5 million in political contributions during the 2020 election cycle. Another $25 million came from lobbyists representing foreign clients registered under the Lobbying Disclosure Act. Foreign nationals are prohibited from contributing to political groups or campaigns to influence U.S. elections. But they can hire foreign agents or lobbyists to advocate for their interests and lobbyists who are American citizens are able to donate, even to the same lawmakers they may be lobbying on behalf of foreign clients.
House Passes Bill to Strengthen Voting Rights Act in Face of New Restrictions in GOP-Led States
MSN – Eugene Scott (Washington Post) | Published: 8/24/2021
The U.S. House passed legislation that supporters said would restore key parts of the 1965 Voting Rights Act the Supreme Court struck down in 2013. In Shelby County v. Holder, the high court’s conservative majority ruled the law’s provision for determining voter discrimination was outdated, a decision that greatly curtailed the ability of the federal government to monitor the election processes of states with a history of racism.
Internal Probe Clears Capitol Police Officer in Shooting of Ashli Babbitt
MSN – Justin Jouvenal (Washington Post) | Published: 8/23/2021
An internal investigation has cleared a U.S. Capitol Police officer of any wrongdoing in the fatal shooting of Ashli Babbitt during the siege of the Capitol on January 6. The Justice Department previously announced the officer would not face criminal charges in the killing of the 35-year-old California woman, who was shot as she tried to force her way through a set of doors deep inside the Capitol.
Jan. 6 Select Committee Probe Expands to Trump and Top Officials in a Wave of Demands
National Public Radio – Claudia Grisales | Published: 8/25/2021
The House select committee charged with investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol has issued a wave of record requests targeting communications by former President Trump and his top officials in the lead-up to the riot. It marks the most widespread list of demands since the siege, directing letters to eight federal entities, including the National Archives and Records Administration, which is charged with maintaining records for past White House administrations. The demands could be followed by subpoenas.
From the States and Municipalities
Colorado – Ethics Commission Dismissed Complaint Against Delta County Official but Decision Is on Appeal
Denver Gazette – Marianne Goodland | Published: 8/23/2021
The Colorado Independent Ethics commission, on a tie vote, dismissed a complaint against Delta County Administrator Robbie LeValley. The complaint alleged LeValley violated the public trust by using her position to benefit her family’s business, a beef ranch. LeValley charged several purchases from Homestead Meats in 2019, which she co-owns with several other partners, for county events on her county credit card. The events in question, both tied to the county fair, required the beef being served to come from a Delta County ranch, and for that, Homestead was the only supplier.
Colorado – Incumbent Colorado Lawmaker Coached Public Testimony for Redistricting Hearings
Colorado Springs Gazette – Evan Wyloge | Published: 8/19/2021
A state lawmaker looking to protect the fortunes of his Republican caucus as Colorado’s political maps are redrawn this year held a video training earlier this summer to coach people on how to provide testimony intended to keep the incumbent legislators in power after the redistricting cycle. On the video training, Rep. Matt Soper lamented that the independent redistricting commission system is designed to elicit input from non-political, everyday people talking about their communities, and not from incumbent lawmakers who want to keep a safe seat for themselves.
Florida – Florida Elections Commission Gearing Up for Looming Challenges
Yahoo News – John Haughey (The Center Square) | Published: 8/24/2021
Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed three members to the Florida Elections Commission (FEC), including a chairperson, meaning the watchdog now has the required quorum and can meet for the first time since May. The FEC is managing the defense of state election laws, including Florida’s decision not to appeal an injunction preventing Senate Bill 1890 from being enacted. It is also dealing with the challenge to Florida’s 2019 felon voting law now before the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Florida – No-Party Candidate in Miami Election Fraud Case Takes Plea Deal, Apologizes to Voters
MSN – Samantha Gross (Miami Herald) | Published: 8/24/2021
An auto parts salesperson and acquaintance of a former state lawmaker accused of running a vote-siphoning scheme in a 2020 Florida Senate race pleaded guilty to charges he accepted illegal donations and lied on sworn campaign documents, among other things. Alexis Rodriguez was recruited to run as a no-party candidate in the key Senate race by former state Sen. Frank Artiles. The point of Rodriguez’s candidacy, investigators said, was to “confuse voters and siphon votes from the incumbent.” Sen. Ileana Garcia won the election by 32 votes. Rodriguez, who shares a surname with the incumbent Democrat, received more than 6,000 votes.
Georgia – Former NFL Player Herschel Walker, Supported by Trump, Jumps into the Georgia Senate Race
Santa Fe New Mexican – Maryl Kornfield (Washington Post) | Published: 8/24/2021
Former football star Herschel Walker filed paperwork to run for a U.S. Senate seat in Georgia, challenging Raphael Warnock with the backing of former President Trump. After former U.S. Sen. David Perdue said he would not run again, Walker would be the most recognized candidate in the Republican field.
Georgia – How the Apple Lobbying Machine Took on Georgia, and Won
MSN – Emily Birnbaum (Politico) | Published: 8/20/2021
Apple’s aggressive lobbying efforts in Georgia highlight a pattern that has played out with little national attention across the country this year: state lawmakers introduce bills that would force Apple and Google to give up some control over their mobile phone app stores. Then Apple exerts pressure on lawmakers with promises of economic investment or threats to pull its money, and the legislation stalls. Local lawmakers have struggled to brush aside Apple’s lobbying firepower as the company hires key state lobbyists and focuses on defeating legislation that threatens the company’s bottom line.
Idaho – Idaho Supreme Court Overturns Tougher Ballot Initiative Law
MSN – Rebecca Boone (Associated Press) | Published: 8/23/2021
The Idaho Supreme Court struck down a new law designed to make it harder for voters to get initiatives on the ballot, saying the legislation was so restrictive it violated a fundamental right under the state’s constitution. Opponents of the law said it made Idaho’s initiative process the toughest in the nation, rendering such efforts virtually impossible to achieve. But supporters said the law would protect people with less popular political opinions from being overrun by the majority.
Illinois – ComEd Scheme to Influence Madigan Was Not Legal Lobbying – It Was Bribery, Prosecutors Say
MSN – Jason Meisner and Ray Long (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 8/24/2021
An alleged scheme to lavish benefits on longtime Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan in exchange for his influence on Commonwealth Edison legislation in Springfield clearly meets the criteria of the bribery statute even if there was no explicit agreement between the parties, federal prosecutors argued in a motion. Lawyers for Michael McClain, Anne Pramaggiore, John Hooker, and Jay Doherty asked a District Court judge to dismiss several of the key elements of the case against them, arguing there was no quid pro quo agreement and jobs, contracts, and other payments to chosen Madigan political operatives constituted legal lobbying.
Illinois – Cryptocurrency Expands into Illinois Politics as Candidate Accepts Bitcoin Donations
Bloomington Pantagraph – John Kielman (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 8/25/2021
Lake County Treasurer Holly Kim, who is running for reelection next year, became the first candidate in Illinois to accept digital currency when a supporter gave her a three-dollar donation in Litecoin, with the promise of more to come later. It is a new and potentially lucrative fundraising technique – Dogecoin, one form of crypto Kim accepts, has seen its value increase 100-fold over the past year – and Kim said it is a way to connect with tech-savvy people who might be new to political donations.
Maine – PAC Opposing Powerline Corridor is Fined $2,500 for Late Filing
Portland Press Herald – Scott Thistle | Published: 8/23/2021
A PAC bankrolled by two Texas energy companies was fined $2,500 by the Maine ethics commission for violating state campaign finance law. The commission voted unanimously to impose the penalty against Mainers for Local Power after it failed to notify one of its major contributors, the energy company Calpine, that it had donated more than $100,000 to the PAC and was required to file a major donor report with the ethics panel.
Maryland – Error-Riddled Ethics Reports on School Board Create Political Firestorm in Prince George’s County
MSN – Rachel Chason and Donna St. George (Washington Post) | Published: 8/24/2021
Ethics reports accuse a majority of the elected school board members in Prince George’s County of a variety of offenses, including steering contracts, doing political favors, and engaging in a quid pro quo with a labor union. The allegations are being levied against a more progressive bloc that has frequently clashed with the county’s political establishment, setting off a political battle in the suburb of Washington, D.C. The back-and-forth is the latest, and most contentious, episode in months of chaos that began in February.
Michigan – FBI Raids Detroit’s City Hall, Council Members’ Homes as It Focuses on Towing Operations
Detroit News – Robert Snell, Sarah Rahal, and George Hunter | Published: 8/25/2021
A widening public corruption investigation emerged as FBI agents raided Detroit City Hall and the homes of city council members Janeé Ayers and Scott Benson, the latest development in a scandal that has led to charges against Councilperson André Spivey. The full scope of the investigation was unclear, but FBI agents were focused on municipal towing operations and accusations city officials received bribes, according to sources. Agents also searched the homes of several council employees, including Ricardo Silva and Carol Banks, chiefs of staff for Ayers and Benson, respectively.
Michigan – Federal Judge in Michigan Orders Pro-Trump Lawyers Disciplined Over Lawsuit Seeking to Overturn 2020 Election
MSN – Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) | Published: 8/25/2021
A judge sanctioned Sidney Powell and other lawyers who sued in Michigan to overturn President Biden’s election victory. U.S. District Court Judge Parker said the lawyers made assertions in court that were not backed by evidence and failed to perform the due diligence required by legal rules before alleging mass fraud in the state’s vote. She referred the group to the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission, as well as disciplinary committees in the states where each attorney is licensed, which could initiate proceedings that could result in the lawyers being disbarred.
Michigan – Michigan Attorney General Nessel Won’t Charge State GOP Chair Ron Weiser
Detroit News – Craig Mauger | Published: 8/23/2021
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel declined to pursue criminal action against state Republican Party Chairperson Ron Weiser related to payments Weiser allegedly made to a former GOP secretary of state candidate to drop out of the race in 2018. Nessel said a conciliation agreement between the secretary of state’s office and the Michigan GOP barred further criminal litigation under the state’s campaign finance law and Weiser, as chairperson, is not a public officer as defined by the law, so other criminal statutes “simply do not apply.”
Minnesota – Minnesota GOP ‘in Ruins’ After Shocking Scandal
Yahoo News – David Siders and Paul Zemko (Politico) | Published: 8/21/2021
The resignation of the Minnesota Republican Party’s embattled chairperson, Jennifer Carnahan, marked a new low for a state party in decline. The proximate cause of Carnahan’s departure was a firestorm that engulfed the party in recent days, after a GOP donor she was close to was indicted on federal sex-trafficking charges. Carnahan, the wife of U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn, was accused by party officials and former staffers of running a toxic, retaliatory workplace, mismanaging party finances, and, through the use of non-disclosure agreements, squashing transparency.
New York – As JCOPE Eyes Cuomo, Will His Appointees Remain?
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 8/30/2021
Though Andrew Cuomo has left the governor’s office, his legal troubles are far from over. He faces criminal investigations into possible inappropriate touching of women, a state attorney general probe into his $5.1 million book deal, a federal probe into the suppression of nursing home death data, and a forthcoming Assembly report on those matters and more. An entity that has been generally pliant to Cuomo since its creation in 2011, the New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics, may be more prone to taking action now, especially since the commission itself now faces greater threat of being eliminated by critics, who say it has been ineffectual.
New York – Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Daughter-in-Law Is Top Lobbyist at Pharma Firm That Has Sought to Influence NY Lawmakers
CNBC – Brian Schwartz | Published: 8/24/2021
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s daughter-in-law is a top lobbyist at a pharmaceutical firm that has been trying to influence state and federal lawmakers. Christina Hochul is director of federal policy at Biogen. A Biogen spokesperson said Christina Hochul does not lobby at the New York state level and will not do so. Biogen did not rule out the company itself engaging with New York lawmakers while Kathy Hochul is governor.
New York – JCOPE’s Opaque New Transparency Policy
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 8/24/2021
Gov. Kathy Hochul has called for a complete overhaul of New York’s ethics oversight system. And as the state’s much-maligned current ethics watchdog faces the possibility of dissolution, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) recently announced a reform: a new policy that in principle could make its work less secretive. But in practice, the policy so far has been aimed at bolstering the reputation of the JCOPE itself, with information released or withheld based on that as opposed to overall transparency.
New York – Leaders of the ‘Time’s Up’ Anti-Harassment Group Worked Closely with Cuomo Aide After First Accusation Against Him Surfaced
MSN – Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 8/25/2021
The leaders of Time’s Up, the advocacy group founded by political insiders in Washington and Hollywood to fight workplace sexual misconduct, decided against issuing a statement in support of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s first harassment accuser in December after consulting with the governor’s top aide, according to interviews and records. Text messages between five senior Time’s Up advisers revealed a far more extensive behind-the-scenes effort to work with Cuomo’s office amid the sexual harassment charges than the group has previously acknowledged.
North Carolina – Cooper Signs Bill Allowing Officials to Benefit More from Public Contracts
Yahoo News – Nyamekye Daniel (The Center Square) | Published: 8/24/2021
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed a bill that allows public officials to benefit more from public contracts. House Bill 366 raises the limit on the conflict-of-interest exemption for government officials and government employees in certain instances and changes regulations related to agriculture, energy, environment, natural resources, construction, and insurance.
North Carolina – Court Rules North Carolina Must Allow Former Felons to Vote
MSN – Paulina Villegas (Washington Post) | Published: 8/24/2021
A panel of the state Superior Court ordered the restoration of voting rights for thousands of people with a felony conviction in what advocates call the largest expansion of voting rights in decades in North Carolina. The ruling could make North Carolina the only state in the South to automatically restore voting rights to people after they leave prison. Last year, the same judges had ruled the law’s requirement that felons must first pay monetary obligation such as fines was unenforceable because voting would be bound to financial ability.
North Carolina – Restrictions on NC Nonprofit Donor Disclosures OK’d by House
WRAL – Associated Press | Published: 8/19/2021
A bill described by supporters as one that prevents snooping into citizens’ contributions to North Carolina charities neared final legislative approval following an affirmative state House vote. A version cleared the Senate three months ago. The bill says the names of donors to North Carolina-based nonprofits cannot be disclosed publicly by the group without a donor’s written permission. It also states a donor’s identifying information is not a public record when held by a state or local government agency. A government worker who uses or discloses it could be guilty of a misdemeanor.
Ohio – FirstEnergy Discloses 2021 Dark Money Spending; Deal Doesn’t Require Posting Past Donations
MSN – Jessie Balmert (Cincinnati Enquirer) | Published: 8/20/2021
The utility at the center of a $60 million bribery scheme in Ohio dramatically decreased the funds it provides to “dark money” groups to influence public policy, according to a filing required by a deal with federal prosecutors that allowed FirstEnergy to avoid a criminal case. FirstEnergy paid $2.2 million to nonprofits and groups benefitting public officials during the first half of 2021. That is considerably below the approximately $60 million the company paid between 2017 and 2020 to “dark money” groups to fund a bailout of two nuclear power plants.
Oregon – Portland Police Stand by as Proud Boys and Far-Right Militias Flash Guns and Brawl with Antifa Counterprotesters
MSN – Katie Shepherd (Washington Post) | Published: 8/23/2021
A large crowd of more than 100 far-right activists, including Proud Boys and armed militia members, descended on Portland, Oregon, staging a “Back the Blue” rally in front of the Justice Center that houses the downtown police precinct. Hundreds of Antifa and Black Lives Matter protesters gathered to oppose the far-right crowd. The two groups sparred for more than two hours, as people exchanged blows, fired paintballs at each other, and blasted chemicals indiscriminately into the crowd. People lobbed fireworks back and forth.
Pennsylvania – In Latest Bow to Trump, GOP Lawmakers in Pennsylvania Plan to Launch Hearings on 2020 Vote
MSN – Elise Viebeck (Washington Post) | Published: 8/24/2021
Republican lawmakers in Pennsylvania plan to formally launch hearings as part of an investigation into the 2020 vote in the state, the latest GOP-backed effort to revisit an election that former President Trump has falsely claimed was fraudulent. State Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman said lawmakers are pursuing a “full forensic investigation” of the election that will aim to examine ballots and voter rolls. It is the latest sign of how Republican leaders in key battleground states are bowing to pressure from Trump and his acolytes to investigate baseless allegations that voting irregularities tainted the November election.
Texas – Dallas Council Member Violated Ethics Code for Saying Woman Sounded ‘Foolish’ on Facebook
Dallas Morning News – Lauren Girgis | Published: 8/20/2021
The Ethics Advisory Commission found Dallas City Councilperson Adam Bazaldua in violation of the ethics code for Facebook comments where he wrote that a constituent sounded “foolish.” The commission found Bazaldua violated a section of the code stating that city officials shall not make comments or take actions that are “abusive,” “derogatory,” “rude,” or make “personal attacks upon the character, integrity, or motives of others.”
Texas – Texas Republicans Renew Effort to Advance Voting Bill as Democrats Regroup
MSN – Jane Timm (NBC News) | Published: 8/23/2021
The Texas House could pass voting restrictions soon after Democrats’ efforts to stave off the Republican-backed changes were stymied by three Democrats who broke ranks with much of the rest of their caucus and returned to work at the Capitol. Their return restored a quorum for the first time since more than 50 House Democrats fled to Washington, D.C. The coordinated escape from Austin left Texas Republicans furious, creating wanted posters and threatening to have missing members arrested.
Virginia – Ex-Norfolk Sheriff Bob McCabe Found Guilty on All Public Corruption Charges
WAVY – Brian Reese, Jason Marks, and Sarah Fearing | Published: 8/24/2021
Former Norfolk Sheriff Bob McCabe was found guilty on all 11 counts in a federal bribery trial. He faces up to 20 years in prison for each count. McCabe was accused of taking bribes from two Norfolk jail vendors and the companies’ chief executive officers. McCabe had argued the gifts and campaign donations, which happened from 1994 to 2016, were just gestures between good friends.
Virginia – Virginia, an ‘Outlier’ on Campaign Finance Reform, Considers New Restrictions
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Andrew Cain (Richmond Times-Dispatch) | Published: 8/24/2021
The Virginia Legislature has tasked the Joint Subcommittee to Study Comprehensive Campaign Finance Reform with examining the costs of campaigning in the state, the effectiveness of the present disclosure laws and their enforcement, the constitutional options available to regulate campaign finances, and “the desirability” of revisions such as implementing contribution limits. In submitting a report by November 1, the panel could recommend proposed changes for the new governor and Legislature to review during the 60-day session that begins in January.
Washington – Mayor’s Office Knew for Months Durkan’s Phone Setting Caused Texts to Vanish, Emails Show
Seattle Times – Lewis Kamb, Daniel Beekman, and Jim Brunner | Published: 8/20/2021
When the public learned in May that 10 months of Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s text messages were missing, her office initially attributed the loss to an “unknown technology issue” with one of three phones she used during the period in question. But officials already had known for months why the texts were gone and when they disappeared, internal emails appear to show. City Attorney Pete Holmes says the initial explanation from Durkan’s office was misleading.
Wisconsin – Two More Redistricting Lawsuits Have Been Filed in Wisconsin as Conservatives and Liberals Mount a Legal Battle Over Election Maps
MSN – Patrick Marley (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) | Published: 8/23/2021
Voters filed two redistricting lawsuits as conservatives and liberals fight over whether state or federal judges should be the ones to decide how to draw Wisconsin’s congressional and legislative districts. Voters represented by the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty filed one of the lawsuits before the state Supreme Court. Hours later, three voting rights groups brought their own case in federal court in Madison. Republicans who control the Legislature and Democratic Gov. Tony Evers are not expected to reach a deal on the maps, which will leave it to the courts to decide where to put the lines.
August 13, 2021 •
National/Federal DeJoy Maintains Financial Ties to Former Company as USPS Awards It New $120 Million Contract MSN – Jacob Bogage (Washington Post) | Published: 8/6/2021 The U.S. Postal Service will pay $120 million over the next five years to a major […]
DeJoy Maintains Financial Ties to Former Company as USPS Awards It New $120 Million Contract
MSN – Jacob Bogage (Washington Post) | Published: 8/6/2021
The U.S. Postal Service will pay $120 million over the next five years to a major logistics contractor that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy previously helped lead and with which his family maintains financial ties. The new contract will deepen the Postal Service’s relationship with XPO Logistics, where DeJoy served as supply chain chief executive after the company purchased New Breed Logistics, the trucking firm he owned for more than 30 years. Since he became postmaster general, DeJoy has divested between $65.4 million and $155.3 million worth of XPO shares. But DeJoy’s family businesses continue to lease four North Carolina office buildings to XPO.
Dominion Lodges Suits Against OAN, Newsmax, Ex-Overstock CEO
MSN – Nick Niedzwiadek (Politico) | Published: 8/10/2021
Dominion Voting Systems opened another front in its battle against right-wing attacks on the integrity of its technology, filing lawsuits against two conservative media outlets and former Overstock.com Chief Executive Officer Patrick Byrne. Dominion accused Byrne, Newsmax, and One America News Network of making defamatory claims against the company and spreading baseless allegations that its machines were used to rig the election for Joe Biden. Dominion alleges the companies went outside of protected First Amendment activities by giving a platform to false claims about the company and showing little concern for the truth.
Dominion’s Lawsuits Against Trump Allies Can Move Forward After Judge Rejects Arguments
MSN – Lateshia Beachum and Maria Luisa Paul (Washington Post) | Published: 8/11/2021
A federal judge denied requests by former President Trump’s allies to throw out more than $3 billion in defamation lawsuits over false claims that a voting machine company’s technology was used to rig the 2020 election. The ruling allows lawsuits by Dominion Voting Systems against former Trump attorneys Sidney Powell and Rudolph Giuliani, as well as MyPillow chief executive Mike Lindell, to move forward. U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols said Powell and Lindell made their claims “knowing that they were false or with reckless disregard for the truth.”
Frustration and Persistence for Activists on the 56th Anniversary of the Voting Rights
MSN – Vanessa Williams (Washington Post) | Published: 8/6/2021
The 1965 Voting Rights Act is considered the most significant achievement of the civil rights movement because it removed Jim Crow-era laws that blocked the vast majority of Black people from voting, especially in the South. But a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2013, and another this year, weakened the landmark law, while Republican-controlled Legislatures passed new voting restrictions advocates say target people of color, as well as young and working-class people. Activists are exasperated that members of Congress and President Biden have not been able to push through federal legislation that would supersede the voting laws moving through state Legislatures across the country.
GOP Congressman Suing Pelosi Over Mask Mandate Contracts Coronavirus
MSN – Amy Wang (Washington Post) | Published: 8/5/2021
U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman, one of three Republican members of Congress who filed a lawsuit against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the chamber’s mask mandate, tested positive for the coronavirus. Pelosi kept in place the mask mandate after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its guidance to say fully vaccinated people most likely did not have to wear masks, sparking a backlash among House Republicans, who accused Pelosi of wanting simply to “control” the chamber.
House Democrats Granted Limited Access to Trump Financial Records
MSN – Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) | Published: 8/11/2021
House Democrats investigating former President Trump can have access to his personal financial records from 2017 and 2018, a federal judge ruled, as well as information related to his lease of a building near the White House. The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that courts must take separation of powers concerns into account when members of Congress want personal information from the president. Because of Congress’s role in overseeing the president’s foreign business interests, release of the records from 2017 and 2018 is justified, said U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta.
Judge Suggests Feds Are Too Lenient Toward Jan. 6 Defendants
Yahoo News – Josh Gerstein (Politico) | Published: 8/9/2021
Chief U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell suggested federal prosecutors were being too lenient in their handling of cases stemming from the storming of the Capitol as lawmakers were convening on January 6 to certify Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential race. Howell raised questions about why some defendants were being permitted to resolve their criminal cases by pleading guilty to a misdemeanor and why the amount of money prosecutors are seeking to recover through those plea deals was based on a relatively paltry estimate of about $1.5 million in damages caused by the rioters.
Rand Paul Discloses 16 Months Late That His Wife Bought Stock in Company Behind Covid Treatment
Seattle Times – Isaac Stanley-Becker (Washington Post) | Published: 8/11/2021
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul revealed his wife bought stock in Gilead Sciences, which makes an antiviral drug used to treat COVID-19, in February 2020, before it was classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organization. The disclosure came 16 months after the 45-day reporting deadline set forth in the Stock Act, which is designed to combat insider trading. The investment, especially the delayed reporting of it, alarmed experts in corporate and securities law, who said it raised questions about whether Paul’s family profited from nonpublic information about the looming health emergency and plans by the U.S. government to combat it.
Republicans Risk Becoming Face of Delta Surge as Key GOP Governors Oppose Anti-Covid Measures
MSN – Felicia Sonmez and Hannah Knowles (Washington Post) | Published: 8/11/2021
Three governors frequently mentioned as potential presidential candidates in 2024 – Greg Abbott in Texas, Florida’s Ron DeSantis, and South Dakota’s Kristi Noem – are at the vanguard of Republican resistance to public-health mandates aimed at stemming the tide of the delta variant, which has caused a new spike in coronavirus cases. They and other national and local GOP officials cast their opposition to such measures as an effort to protect personal choice. But some fear the party is on track to make itself the face of the delta variant, endangering fellow Americans while also risking political damage in the long term.
Secret IRS Files Reveal How Much the Ultrawealthy Gained by Shaping Trump’s ‘Big, Beautiful Tax Cut’
Talking Points Memo – Justin Elliot and Robert Faturechi (ProPublica) | Published: 8/11/2021
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was the biggest rewrite of the tax code in decades. Crafted largely in secret by a handful of Trump administration officials and members of Congress, the bill was rushed through the legislative process. As draft language of the bill made its way through Congress, lawmakers friendly to billionaires and their lobbyists were able to stretch the bill to accommodate a variety of special groups. In the first year after Trump signed the bill, just 82 ultrawealthy households collectively walked away with more than $1 billion in total tax savings.
Watchdog Sues FEC for Closing Investigation into Rick Scott, Allied Super PAC
MSN – Karl Evers-Hillstrom (The Hill) | Published: 8/9/2021
A watchdog group sued the FEC for dismissing a complaint alleging U.S. Sen. Rick Scott unlawfully used a super PAC to support his 2018 Senate run. The Campaign Legal Center challenged the decision by Republican commissioners to close an investigation into Scott against the recommendation of the agency’s nonpartisan lawyers. End Citizens United had alleged Scott and the New Republican PAC, a group he formerly chaired, violated election laws prohibiting coordination between candidates and outside groups.
‘We Are in Harm’s Way’: Election officials fear for their personal safety amid torrent of false claims about voting
MSN – Tom Hamburger, Rosalind Helderman, and Amy Gardner (Washington Post) | Published: 8/11/2021
Nine months after the 2020 election, local officials across the country are coping with an ongoing barrage of criticism and personal attacks that many fear could lead to an exodus of veteran election administrators before the next presidential race. As former President Trump continues to promote the false notion that the 2020 White House race was tainted by fraud, there is mounting evidence his attacks are curdling the faith many Americans once had in their elections and taking a deep toll on the public servants who work to protect the vote.
What Rosen Told U.S. Senators: Trump applied ‘persistent’ pressure to get Justice to discredit election
MSN – Ann Marimow and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 8/12/2021
Former President Trump’s last attorney general told U.S. senators his boss was “persistent” in trying to pressure the Justice Department to discredit the results of the 2020 election. In closed-door testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Jeffrey Rosen said he had to “persuade the president not to pursue a different path” at a high-stakes January meeting in which Trump considered ousting Rosen as the nation’s most powerful law enforcement officer. The testimony is part of a trough of information that congressional investigators are assembling about Trump’s efforts to reverse his defeat and use the Justice Department to stay in office.
Canada – Lobbyist Jack Stirling Sent to Penalty Box for a Month in the Wake of Jan Harder Integrity Case
Ottawa Citizen – Jon Willing | Published: 8/5/2021
Jack Stirling and his company, The Stirling Group, was banned from lobbying in Ottawa for 30 days. Stirling acknowledged he provided free services to a council member between November 2019 and February 2020, while he was registered as a lobbyist at City Hall. At the time, he had three active lobbying files with the city. Under the lobbyist code of conduct, a lobbyist with active files cannot offer gifts or benefits to council members or their staff.
From the States and Municipalities
Alaska – State Fines Anchorage Mayor Bronson $33,500 for Campaign Finance Violations
Yahoo News – Emily GoodyKoontz (Anchorage Daily News) | Published: 8/9/2021
The Alaska Public Offices Commission fined the campaign of Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson a total of $33,500 for failing to report financial contributions to the campaign on time. State rules dictate that during the nine days before an election, candidates must disclose contributions that are more than $250 in a 24-hour report. The fine is in addition to a $26,500 penalty recommended by APOC staff against Bronson in July for multiple violations.
Arizona – Arizona State Sen. Tony Navarrete Resigns Seat After Arrest in Child Sex Abuse Case
MSN – Mary Joe Pitzl (Arizona Republic) | Published: 8/10/2021
After days of pleas for him to step down in the wake of an arrest on allegations of child sexual abuse, Tony Navarrete resigned his Arizona Senate seat but issued a separate statement vowing to prove his innocence. His employer, the faith-based Neighborhood Ministries, put Navarrete on leave and said he will be terminated. The arrest came after a 16-year-old boy went to Phoenix police with allegations of abuse dating from 2019. The probable cause statement also alleged Navarrete attempted sexual conduct with a 13-year-old boy.
Arizona – Business Consultants Offer to Buy Ghostwritten Op-Eds Pressuring Arizona Senators
Radiofree.org – Lee Fang (The Intercept) | Published: 8/10/2021
Public relations experts working for a mysterious client have been preparing ghostwritten opinion columns set to run in Arizona newspapers. The columns warn U.S. Sens. Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema to oppose civil litigation reform legislation designed to prevent Americans from being forced into binding arbitration. If enacted, the legislation would ensure consumers’ and employees’ rights to pursue civil litigation against corporations. But the consultants could not find local residents to author the columns. Instead, they are offering as much as $2,000 to help identify “normal, everyday” people willing to sign their names to pre-written arguments.
California – Hockey Arena’s Developers Donated $60,000 to Perez After Project Won County Approval
MSN – Tom Coulter (Palm Springs Desert Sun) | Published: 8/9/2021
A month after Riverside County supervisors approved a $250 million project to build a hockey arena, the cohort spearheading the plans gave the maximum campaign contribution to Supervisor V. Manuel Perez, whose district encompasses the project. Perez was the only supervisor on the five-member board to receive donations from the developers in recent months. Other groups with ties to the arena project also have donated to Perez.
California – Water Authority’s Confidential Consultant Contracts Surprised Board
Voice of San Diego – MacKenzie Elmer | Published: 8/4/2021
The San Diego County Water Authority is building a team of consultants but will not explain the work they are doing. The authority spent $167,000 on two consultant contracts since July 2019 without disclosing them to the board, which is composed of representatives from the region’s 24 water agencies. It also will not say what a third contract that was approved by the board, worth more than $330,000, was for. A rule allows the general manager to execute contracts below $150,000 without board approval. One board member argued a consultant was lobbying against her water district’s interests.
Florida – Dark Money Behind Florida ‘Ghost’ Candidates Has Ties to Alabama Political Players, Records Suggest
MSN – Jason Garcia and Annie Martin (Orlando Sentinel) | Published: 8/5/2021
The source of more than $500,000 spent last year promoting “ghost] candidates in key state Senate races remained a mystery even as the scandal rocked Florida politics, but newly public records suggest the money is tied to political players in Alabama. The money paid for nearly identical mailers apparently tailored to persuade Democratic-leaning voters to support the independent candidates in each of the three races, all of which were ultimately won by Republicans. Authorities in Miami-Dade County have charged two people in connection with one of those races.
Florida – DeSantis Donor Got $50 Million in Emergency Pandemic Work
Politico – Matt Dixon | Published: 8/5/2021
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration awarded nearly $50 million in no-bid Covid-related work to a controversial company that lobbied his administration for the contracts, then gave the governor a $100,000 political contribution. Nomi Health, Inc. has received $46 million under two separate contracts it signed with the state for Covid-19 testing and vaccine work between February and June. The spending was approved under a DeSantis-signed pandemic executive order, which gave the administration broad legal authority to spend state funds without legislative approval or going through a normal procurement process.
Florida – Florida Won’t Defend Ballot Measure Contribution Cap
The Center Square – John Haughey | Published: 8/10/2021
Florida will not appeal a federal judge’s ruling striking down a law that caps early campaign donations to citizens’ initiatives committees sponsoring constitutional amendments at $3,000. The judge’s order prohibits the Florida Elections Commission from enforcing the contribution limit. U.S. District Court Judge Allen Winsor determined Florida has “no significant interest” in limiting political speech in the form of donations to political committees engaged in petition drives to get proposed constitutional amendments before voters.
Florida – Will Canady the Candidate Pose Ethical Dilemma for Canady the Florida Chief Justice?
Yahoo News – Dara Kam (News Service of Florida) | Published: 8/11/2021
Jennifer Canady’s election to the House could be a history making victory as she would be the first spouse of a sitting Florida Supreme Court justice to serve in the state Legislature in modern history. But the Canady union could also prove thorny for Chief Justice Charles Canady if his wife wins, according to legal experts. The family relationship between a sitting Florida judge or Supreme Court justice and a state legislator “may very well raise serious issues of judicial conduct and disqualification under the Florida code of judicial conduct,” University of Miami law professor Anthony Alfieri said.
Louisiana – New Orleans Ethics Review Board Recommends Barring City Council Campaign Donations from Entergy, Cox and Other Utilities
The Lens – Michael Isaac Stein | Published: 8/11/2021
The New Orleans Ethics Review Board voted to recommend a revision to the ethics code that would bar city council members and candidates from accepting political contributions from city-regulated utility firms like Entergy New Orleans or Cox Communications, along with any vendor working on a contract awarded by the council or the Sewerage and Water Board. The city council would need to approve the change. There are still some big legal questions about whether the council members have the authority to wade into campaign finance restrictions or apply government ethics rules to candidates who are not yet government officials.
Maine – Bangor Board of Ethics Alters Guidelines on Political Speech from Councilors
Bangor Daily News – David Marino Jr. | Published: 8/11/2021
The Bangor Board of Ethics approved a proposed law on political speech by city officials. The new code is less ambiguous than the last, with the framers aiming to balance the First Amendment rights of Bangor officials with language that will maintain the city’s neutrality and not align it with viewpoints or organizations it does not officially support. Bangor is one of the few population centers in Maine with an explicit ban on certain political speech from officials.
Maine – Ethics Panel Continues Pursuit of Financial Records from Unnamed Consultants
Portland Press Herald – Scott Thistle | Published: 8/8/2021
The Maine ethics commission is continuing its efforts to shield the identity of two political consulting firms involved in the $1 billion Central Maine Power transmission corridor project even as it prepares to take legal action against the firms. The commission’s lawyer, Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Bolton, is expected to file a lawsuit soon to enforce a subpoena for records from the firms, which appear to be based in California and Virginia. But the commission will give the firms advance notice so they can file simultaneous motions asking the court to seal the case from public view while a judge decides whether to enforce the subpoenas.
Mississippi – City Sanctioned for Slow Response to Public Records Request
MSN – Associated Press | Published: 8/9/2021
The Mississippi Ethics Commission ordered the city of Jackson to pay more than $170,000 in legal fees for violating state law by taking more than a year to provide public records a television station requested. It is the largest amount the commission has ever ordered a public entity to pay and one of a few times the agency has required payment of legal fees. The decision comes more than two years after WLBT made seven public-records requests to the Jackson Police Department for emails, memos, and crime statistics.
New Mexico – Complaint Against Keller Tossed
MSN – Olivier Uyttebrouck and Jessica Dyer (Albuquerque Journal) | Published: 8/9/2021
Albuquerque City Clerk Ethan Watson tossed an election ethics complaint against himself and Mayor Tim Keller, saying it fails to meet standards requiring a detailed description of the allegations and how they violated specific rules. The complaint alleges Keller violated rules when pursuing over $600,000 in public campaign financing. It also identifies the city clerk, saying he failed to follow his own published rules when he approved Keller’s qualifying contributions, among other charges.
New Mexico – Former County Official Convicted of Procurement Violation
MSN – Associated Press | Published: 8/5/2021
A former Rio Arriba County commissioner faces up to 18 months in prison when he is sentenced on a conviction for violating New Mexico’s procurement code. A judge ruled ex-Commissioner Barney Trujillo violated the law when he failed to disclose contributions that he made to an Española school board member’s campaign.
New York – Cuomo Has $18 Million in Campaign Cash. What Can He Do with It?
New York Times – J. David Goodman | Published: 8/12/2021
Even after his resignation takes effect in less than two weeks, Gov. Andrew Cuomo will still control $18 million campaign account amassed in apparent preparation for a run at a fourth term next year. But his huge stock of campaign money, the most money retained by a departing New York politician in recent memory, affords him a range of possibilities, including the chance to attempt an eventual comeback or to play a role in the state’s political life by donating to other candidates.
New York – New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo Announces Resignation in Effort to Head Off Likely Impeachment in Wake of Devastating Report on His Conduct
MSN – Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 8/10/2021
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation after state Attorney General Letitia James released the results of an investigation that found he sexually harassed at least 11 women. The governor still faces the possibility of criminal charges, with prosecutors around the state continuing to investigate him. Cuomo repeatedly denied improperly touching women, even as accusations mounted, and dismissed the harassment claims as a misinterpretation of his affectionate political style. Impeachment proceedings were ongoing and Cuomo advisers said privately they expected he would be removed from office.
New York – Other Politicians’ Scandals Propelled Career of NY’s Next Governor, Ex-Rep. Kathy Hochul
MSN – Jim Saska (Roll Call) | Published: 8/10/2021
New York’s next governor, Kathy Hochul, has had a political career defined by scandal by both her political adversaries and allies. She will be the state’s first female governor and the first from Buffalo since Grover Cleveland in 1882. Hochu will take office after Andrew Cuomo’s resignation. A state attorney general’s report fond allegations of sexual harassment made against Cuomo credible.
Ohio – FirstEnergy Bribery Scandal Raises Questions About Vetting at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio
MSN – Andrew Tobias (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 8/8/2021
FirstEnergy admitted money paid to Sam Randazzo before he became chairperson of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) was a bribe given in exchange for favorable treatment. In ethics forms Randazzo filed shortly after Gov. Mike DeWine hired him, he disclosed making money consulting through two companies he owned but did not list the amounts. State officials must disclose the amount only if it came from an entity looking to do business with the agency where they work. Randazzo did not mention FirstEnergy was a client. DeWine said he did not know FirstEnergy had paid Randazzo more than $20 million over the past decade.
Ohio – Ohio Elections Commission to Review Campaign Finance Complaint Against Rep. Wiggam, Others
MSN – Bryce Buyakie (Times Record) | Published: 8/6/2021
A complaint filed with the Ohio Elections Commission alleges three state lawmakers received free campaign management software linked to the Republican National Committee worth a total of $9,000. The compliant says the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative organization that writes legislation, gave Reps. Scott Wiggam and Bill Seitz, along with Sen. Robert McColley, free access to the software for 2020 election campaign. ALEC may have provided it to some of the group’s other 2,000 state legislative members across the country, totaling around $6 million in campaign contributions, the complaint alleges.
Oregon – Report Finds Small-Dollar Donors in Portland Achieved New Influence in Local Elections
Oregon Public Broadcasting – Rebecca Ellis | Published: 8/10/2021
Rules dictate that after every election, an oversight group for the Open and Accountable Elections program must produce a report evaluating how Portland’s system of public campaign financing panned out. Their report found that during its debut election cycle, the program fundamentally changed the dynamics of fundraising in Portland: small-dollar donors were now the main focus of most campaigns.
Pennsylvania – Pennsylvania’s Lawmaker Reimbursement Rules Are ‘Ripe for Abuse’
Spotlight PA – Angela Couloumbis (Spotlight PA), Sam Janesch, Mike Wereschagin, and Brad Bumsted (The Caucus) | Published: 8/6/2021
Despite warnings from good-government advocates and even some inside the Capitol that Pennsylvania’s two state-run systems for reimbursing lawmakers are ripe for abuse, Republican leadership has failed to move reforms. Unlike most private and public sector employers, state lawmakers often are not required to provide any proof when seeking reimbursements from taxpayer-funded accounts. On the campaign side, the public cannot see thousands of dollars of election expenses lumped together under vague categories and charged to credit cards.
Tennessee – Commission Overrides Harris Veto of County Ethics Advisory Panel
Daily Memphian – Bill Dries | Published: 8/9/2021
Shelby County commissioners overrode County Mayor Lee Harris’s veto of a new ethics advisory panel to be appointed by the commission. Commissioner Amber Mills proposed the advisory group, saying it would advise the commission on anyone the mayor appoints to the county’s ethics panel as well as any proposed amendments to the ethics ordinance.
Texas – Texas GOP Hits New Roadblocks in Push for Voting Restrictions
MSN – Eva Ruth Moravec and Elise Viebeck (Washington Post) | Published: 8/11/2021
Texas Republicans hit fresh roadblocks in their effort to enact new voting restrictions, facing a Democratic filibuster in the state Senate and signs that legal maneuvering could protect House quorum breakers from arrest. In the House, which remained without a quorum, deputies for the sergeant-at-arms apparently failed to find any absent Democrats as they delivered civil arrest warrants to their offices. The unexpected developments threw fresh uncertainty into a months-long standoff that has crystallized the national debate over voting rights.
Washington – Group That Wants to Provide Legal Help to Eyman Starts Fight with Disclosure Commission
Tacoma News Tribune – Alexis Krell | Published: 8/9/2021
A group that wants to represent anti-tax activist Tim Eyman has sued over how Washington’s campaign finance law might apply to its pro bono legal work. State Attorney General Bob Ferguson sued Eyman for violating campaign finance laws and a judge fined Eyman $2.6 million. The judge found him to be a “continuing political committee,” and he had not properly filed campaign finance reports and put donors’ contributions to personal use. The Institute for Free Speech wants to represent Eyman on appeal, but his designation as a “continuing political committee” raised questions about whether the institute would be subject to campaign finance laws if they represented him for free.
Wisconsin – Wisconsin GOP Lawmaker Takes First Step Toward Launching Arizona-Style Election Review
Yahoo News – Zach Montellaro (Politico) | Published: 8/6/2021
State Rep. Janel Brandtjen, chairperson of the Wisconsin Assembly’s elections committee, said she was subpoenaing 2020 election materials including physical ballots and voting machines from two large counties, in an attempt to bring an Arizona-style review of the 2020 election to another state. The subpoenas seek a wide scope of materials, stretching from the physical ballots themselves, to tabulation equipment and “forensic images” of election equipment. It is not yet clear if the subpoenas are valid, however.
August 10, 2021 •
Campaign Finance Maine: “Ethics Panel Continues Pursuit of Financial Records from Unnamed Consultants” by Scott Thistle for Portland Press Herald Ohio: “Ohio Elections Commission to Review Campaign Finance Complaint Against Rep. Wiggam, Others” by Bryce Buyakie (Times Record) for MSN […]
Maine: “Ethics Panel Continues Pursuit of Financial Records from Unnamed Consultants” by Scott Thistle for Portland Press Herald
Ohio: “Ohio Elections Commission to Review Campaign Finance Complaint Against Rep. Wiggam, Others” by Bryce Buyakie (Times Record) for MSN
Washington: “Group That Wants to Provide Legal Help to Eyman Starts Fight with Disclosure Commission” by Alexis Krell for Tacoma News Tribune
Wisconsin: “Wisconsin GOP Lawmaker Takes First Step Toward Launching Arizona-Style Election Review” by Zach Montellaro (Politico) for Yahoo News
New York: “Melissa DeRosa, Top Aide to Cuomo, Resigns in Wake of State Attorney General’s Report” by Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) for MSN
Ohio: “FirstEnergy Bribery Scandal Raises Questions About Vetting at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio” by Andrew Tobias (Cleveland Plain Dealer) for MSN
Texas: “Austin Judge Signs Order to Block Arrests of Democrats Who Refuse to Return to Texas Capitol for Special Session” by James Barragán for Texas Tribune
California: “Water Authority’s Confidential Consultant Contracts Surprised Board” by MacKenzie Elmer for Voice of San Diego
August 9, 2021 •
Campaign Finance Florida: “Dark Money Behind Florida ‘Ghost’ Candidates Has Ties to Alabama Political Players, Records Suggest” by Jason Garcia and Annie Martin (Orlando Sentinel) for MSN Elections National: “Frustration and Persistence for Activists on the 56th Anniversary of the […]
Florida: “Dark Money Behind Florida ‘Ghost’ Candidates Has Ties to Alabama Political Players, Records Suggest” by Jason Garcia and Annie Martin (Orlando Sentinel) for MSN
National: “Frustration and Persistence for Activists on the 56th Anniversary of the Voting Rights” by Vanessa Williams (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “DeJoy Maintains Financial Ties to Former Company as USPS Awards It New $120 Million Contract” by Jacob Bogage (Washington Post) for MSN
Florida: “DeSantis Donor Got $50 Million in Emergency Pandemic Work” by Matt Dixon for Politico
Pennsylvania: “Pennsylvania’s Lawmaker Reimbursement Rules Are ‘Ripe for Abuse’” by Angela Couloumbis (Spotlight PA), Sam Janesch, Mike Wereschagin, and Brad Bumsted (The Caucus) for Spotlight PA
National: “GOP Congressman Suing Pelosi Over Mask Mandate Contracts Coronavirus” by Amy Wang (Washington Post) for MSN
Canada: “Lobbyist Jack Stirling Sent to Penalty Box for a Month in the Wake of Jan Harder Integrity Case” by Jon Willing for Ottawa Citizen
New Mexico: “Former County Official Convicted of Procurement Violation” by Associated Press for MSN
June 18, 2021 •
National/Federal Biden’s Vow to Limit Ethics Conflicts Finds a Test Case: The Ricchetti brothers MSN – Michael Scherer and Sean Sullivan (Washington Post) | Published: 6/14/2021 President Biden vowed to ban his own family from involvement in government, disclose records of […]
Biden’s Vow to Limit Ethics Conflicts Finds a Test Case: The Ricchetti brothers
MSN – Michael Scherer and Sean Sullivan (Washington Post) | Published: 6/14/2021
President Biden vowed to ban his own family from involvement in government, disclose records of White House visitors, and support new legislation that would expand the definition of lobbying and mandate more detailed disclosure of contacts with White House officials. The White House has chastised Biden’s brother for evoking his relationship to the president in an ad for his law firm. But when it comes to dealing with the family and former employer relationships of senior staff, some of whom have close relatives or former bosses who work in the private sector on public policy issues, the White House has largely reverted to existing precedent.
Earmark Return Boosts Lobbyists Hired to Give Localities an Edge
Bloomberg Government – Megan Wilson and Jack Fitzpatrick | Published: 6/17/2021
Van Scoyoc Associates, the lobbying firm that once reigned as a leader in nabbing local earmarks, was eager to get back into the game this year when Congress revived the practice of designating funding for lawmaker projects. When the House released its latest round of spending requests, the firm was among the leaders on K Street in clinching projects. Lobbying firms such as Van Scoyoc are pitching their expertise in securing money for municipalities and nonprofit groups around the country that seek help navigating the time-consuming appropriations process on Capitol Hill.
Emails Show Trump Pressured Justice Dept. Over 2020 Election
MSN – Michael Balsamo and Colleen Long (Associated Press) | Published: 6/15/2021
During the last weeks of his presidency, Donald Trump and his allies pressured the Justice Department to investigate unsubstantiated claims of widespread 2020 election fraud that even his former attorney general declared without evidence, emails show. The emails reveal in new detail how Trump, his White House chief of staff, and other allies pressured members of the U.S. government to challenge the 2020 election over false claims. They also show the extent to which Trump worked to enlist then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen in his campaign’s failing legal efforts to challenge the election result.
Exodus of Election Officials Raises Concerns of Partisanship
MSN – Anthony Izaguirre (Associated Press) | Published: 6/13/2021
After facing threats and intimidation during the 2020 presidential election and its aftermath, and now the potential of new punishments in certain states, county officials who run elections are quitting or retiring early. The once quiet job of election administration has become a political minefield thanks to the baseless claims of widespread fraud that continue to be pushed by many in the Republican Party. The exits raise the question of who will take these jobs.
F.E.C. Dismisses Case Against Democrats Over Outreach to Ukraine
New York Times – Kenneth Vogel | Published: 6/16/2021
The FEC dismissed a complaint by an ally of former President Trump accusing the Democratic Party and one of its former consultants of violating campaign finance laws by working with Ukraine to help Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign by damaging Trump’s. An unusual bipartisan combination of members of the commission voted against pursuing the complaint. It claimed the Democratic National Committee and a consultant who had worked for it violated a prohibition on foreign donations by soliciting damaging information and statements from Ukrainian government officials about Paul Manafort, who was Trump’s campaign chairperson at the time.
G.O.P. Bills Rattle Disabled Voters: ‘We don’t have a voice anymore’
New York Times – Maggie Astor | Published: 6/14/2021
A series of Republican bills to restrict voting access across the country would disproportionately affect people with disabilities. For years, advocates have worked to mobilize Americans with disabilities, more than 38 million of whom are eligible to vote, into a voting bloc powerful enough to demand politicians address their needs. Now, after an election in which mail-in voting helped them turn out in large numbers, the restrictive proposals are simultaneously threatening their rights and testing their nascent political influence.
Garland Announces Expansion of Justice Department’s Voting Rights Unit, Vowing to Scrutinize GOP-Backed Voting Restrictions and Ballot Reviews
MSN – Amy Gardner and Sean Sullivan (Washington Post) | Published: 6/11/2021
Attorney General Merrick Garland pledged to double the size of the Justice Department’s voting rights enforcement staff to combat efforts to restrict ballot access and prosecute those who threaten or harm election workers. Garland said the additional trial attorneys will scrutinize new laws and existing practices across the nation for potential discrimination against Americans of color, including in new measures Republican state lawmakers are pushing. The expanded unit will also monitor the growing number of post-election ballot reviews being called for by supporters of former President Trump.
‘It Was Exhaustion, It Was Sadness, It Was Fatigue’: America’s mayors call it quits
Politico – Lisa Kashinsky | Published: 6/16/2021
Mayors across the country are calling it quits after an exhausting year navigating the front lines of an unprecedented confluence of crises that touched nearly every aspect of human life. Mayors in cities big and small, urban and rural, are giving up for now on their political careers. In the process, they’ are shaking up the municipal landscape, creating a brain drain in City Halls and upsetting the political pipeline all over America. Covid-19 changed the calculus for mayors mulling reelection, but the public health crisis was only a fraction of a larger equation.
Justice Dept. Drops John Bolton Book Lawsuit, Won’t Charge the Ex-Security Aide Who Became Trump’s Scathing Critic
MSN – Spencer Hsu and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 6/16/2021
The Justice Department abandoned its effort to claw back profits of a book by former Trump national security adviser John Bolton and closed a grand jury investigation into whether he criminally mishandled classified information without charging him. Bolton’s attorney called the dismissal a complete vindication for the diplomat, repudiating what Bolton said was the Trump White House’s politically motivated attempt to stifle the pre-election publication of his critical memoir before the 2020 presidential election, using security as a pretext.
Manchin Outlines Demands on Voting Legislation, Creating an Opening for Potential Democratic Compromise
MSN – Matt Zapotosky and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) | Published: 6/16/2021
Joe Manchin, the lone Senate Democrat who is not sponsoring a sweeping voting rights and campaign finance bill, outlined for the first time a list of policy demands on election legislation – opening the door to a possible compromise that could counter a bevy of Republican-passed laws that have rolled back ballot access in numerous states. Manchin is willing to support key provisions of the For the People Act, including mandating at least two weeks of early voting and measures meant to eliminate partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts. But he also supported several provisions that have historically been opposed by most Democrats.
McGahn Elaborates on Mueller Testimony, but Stops Short of Condemning Trump in Interview with Congress
MSN – Karoun Demirjian, Rosalind Helderman, Tom Hamburger, and Felicia Sonmez (Washington Post) | Published: 6/9/2021
Former White House counsel Donald McGahn told lawmakers he was seeking to avoid “a chain reaction that would be not in anyone’s interest” when he ignored then-President Trump’s direction to fire the special counsel investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, according to a transcript of his closed-door testimony. The exchange came after a two-year court battle for McGahn’s testimony. His appearance on Capitol Hill was the product of a deal between lawmakers and the Biden administration that ended any further appeals.
Trump’s FDA Commissioner Takes Job at Moderna Backer
MSN – Dan Diamond (Washington Post) | Published: 6/14/2021
Former FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn is joining the venture capital firm that launched Moderna and remains closely tied to the coronavirus vaccine maker. Hahn headed the FDA when it authorized Moderna’s vaccine last year before stepping down at the end of the Trump administration. The move is the latest by a federal official to a company that is regulated by the government or that might profit from firms regulated by the government, what critics call a “revolving door” they say undermines trust in federal decisions.
Trump’s Justice Department Secretly Sought Data from Apple on Former White House Counsel McGahn
MSN – Matt Zapotosky and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) | Published: 6/13/2021
The tech company Apple recently notified former White House counsel Donald McGahn and his wife that the Justice Department had secretly requested their information in 2018. Seizing a White House counsel’s data is striking. The latest development comes amid criticism of the Trump-era leak investigations involving members of Congress and journalists at several news organizations. Meanwhile, Republicans have questioned the seizure of records of Rudolph Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, and another lawyer, Victoria Toensing.
Canada – Ethics Committee Calls for Sweeping Reforms in Wake of WE Charity Scandal
CBC – Elizabeth Thompson | Published: 6/10/2021
A House of Commons committee is proposing a sweeping series of reforms to the way the federal government in Canada makes decisions on contracts after releasing a report on the WE Charity scandal. Among the nearly two dozen recommendations, the committee recommends the government no longer award contracts to shell companies that lack assets to avoid liability. The committee said it also wants to see changes in rules put in place to prevent conflicts-of-interest on the part of cabinet ministers. It also says that public office holders should be accompanied by staff to take notes when they meet lobbyists.
Canada – Lobbyists Slipping Through Cracks of Lobbying Act: Commissioner
iPolitics – Aiden Chamandy | Published: 6/15/2021
The latest high-profile investigation to reveal shortcomings in Canada’s lobbying demonstrates the legislation still needs a parliamentary review, Lobbying Commissioner Nancy Bélanger said. Rob Silver, husband of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s chief of staff, Katie Telford, has had contact with officials handling the federal wage subsidy and rent-relief programs. Bélanger said she suspects lobbying occurred that does not meet the threshold to register in Silver’s case, but she has no data to support the claim, because it is not collected in the federal lobbying registry.
From the States and Municipalities
Alaska – Records Show Little Email Contact Between Gov. Dunleavy’s Former Aide and Oil Company That Hired Him
KTOO – Nathaniel Herz (Alaska Public Media) | Published: 6/14/2021
Ben Stevens, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s former chief of staff, had minimal email contact with officials from ConocoPhillips before he left his state post to take an executive job at the and gas company, according to his correspondence. Interest groups and some lawmakers have been scrutinizing Stevens’ move from state service to the private sector, saying the quick transition raises questions about whether Stevens is complying with state ethics laws.
California – San Diego Website Meltdown Preceded by Vendor Spat, Email Shows
San Diego Reader – Matt Potter | Published: 6/14/2021
The intrigue surrounding the city of San Diego’s abrupt switch to a new campaign finance disclosure website has deepened with the partial rejection by city officials of a request for public records that might shed further light on the controversial matter. The bumpy changeover of the site’s operator, from the veteran contractor Netfile to a new vendor calling itself Pasadena Consulting, was undertaken two months ago by the city clerk’s office without public announcement or official word to the site’s operator or official word to the media.
Colorado – Colorado Supreme Court Beats Back State Politicians’ Redistricting Efforts
Denver Gazette – Evan Wyloge | Published: 6/1/2021
Colorado’s independent redistricting commissions are independent from the state’s political class and their desires, the state Supreme Court ruled in rebuffing lawmakers, the governor, secretary of state, and attorney general. The Colorado Supreme Court said legislation that would change this year’s redistricting process amounts to an unconstitutional infringement on the redistricting commissions’ authority to determine how to go about their once-in-a-decade work of redrawing the state’s political maps.
Connecticut – Lawyer Says ‘No Quid Pro Quo’ in Provision Struck from Connecticut Marijuana Bill That Favored One Producer
Hartford Courant – Mark Pazniokas (Connecticut Mirror) | Published: 6/14/2021
Investor J.D. DeMatteo’s interest in getting one of the first licenses to produce marijuana for Connecticut’s recreational market coincided with state Sen. Doug McCrory’s desire to open the industry to “social equity” applicants from poor and urban neighborhoods. McCrory insisted on a provision in the cannabis legalization bill that was intended to allow DeMatteo to jump to the head of the line for a cultivation license if he took on a social equity partner. Whether the provision was the result of altruism, opportunism, or a bit of both, it became an example of the ad hoc nature of legislative negotiations over how to dole out access to a lucrative new market.
Florida – Miami Beach Rep. Michael Grieco Ordered to Pay $1,000 After Probe of Ethics Lapses
MSN – Christina Sant Louis (Miami Herald) | Published: 6/12/2021
The Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics & Public Trust issued a “letter of instruction” rebuking state Rep. Michael Grieco for twice violating the Citizens’ Bill of Rights during his term as a Miami Beach commissioner. The commission found Grieco falsely portrayed his involvement with the People for Better Leaders PAC. It ordered him to pay $1,000 to cover costs. A third allegation that Grieco indirectly solicited a contribution from a city vendor was dismissed.
Hawaii – Emails Show HART Leaders Always Wanted to Hire Hanabusa as Consultant
Honolulu Civil Beat – Marcel Honore and Nick Grube | Published: 6/15/2021
Before a lucrative rail consulting gig went out for public bid, top officials at the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) were determined to award that contract to the board’s former chairperson, Colleen Hanabusa, internal records show. HART Board Chairman Toby Martyn declared in December he wanted to hire Hanabusa as a lobbyist who could help with its budget problems and would report directly to the board she used to lead. Martyn also discussed the contract with Hanabusa 10 days before the solicitation was released publicly. HART leaders say there were no procurement violations, but they are still checking whether the process violated city ethics policies.
Maine – Maine Ethics Panel Votes to Pursue Records from Power Line Opponents
Portland Press Herald – Scott Thistle | Published: 6/11/2021
Maine’s campaign finance watchdog agency voted to continue efforts to determine whether a limited liability corporation working to block a controversial transmission line project should have registered as a PAC or a ballot question committee. The Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices also agreed to pursue a subpoena for financial information from an unidentified political consultant who has worked with Stop the Corridor to stop the New England Clean Energy Connect project. The project will be the subject of a statewide ballot question in November.
Massachusetts – Judge Rejects Plea Deal in Corruption Case of Former Correia Chief of Staff
WPRI – Shaun Towne and Steph Machado | Published: 6/10/2021
A federal judge rejected a plea deal Genoveva Andrade made with prosecutors in a public corruption case that would have spared her jail time. The unusual decision means Andrade, who was chief of staff to former Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia, remains charged with six crimes. She could potentially go to trial or plead guilty again under a new agreement with the prosecution. Andrade pleaded guilty to helping Correia in his scheme to shake down marijuana vendors for bribes in exchange for his approval of their proposed cannabis shops.
Massachusetts – Mass. Republican Party Explored Whether It Can Use Its Own Money to Pay for a Candidate’s Legal Fees
MSN – Matt Stout (Boston Globe) | Published: 6/13/2021
The Massachusetts Republican Party, which has struggled to raise money in recent years, asked state campaign finance regulators if it could tap its own legal defense fund to pay costs for a candidate who is facing “legal actions initiated by a state administrative or law enforcement agency.” GOP Chairperson Jim Lyons, state Sen. Ryan Fattman, and Stephanie Fattman, the Worcester County Register of Probate and Ryan Fattman’s wife, were each referred to Attorney General Maura Healey’s office in April by the state campaign finance office, which said it had evidence they and others may have violated various campaign finance laws last year.
Mississippi – Lt. Gov. Hosemann’s Inaugural Nonprofit Got $368k in Secret Donations, Filings Show
Mississippi Daily Journal – Luke Ramseth | Published: 6/10/2021
A nonprofit created to fund Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann’s inauguration raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in secret donations, with some gifts as large as $20,000, recent tax filings show. The organization, Advance Mississippi 2020, raised the money to pay for inauguration events early last year including a gala and prayer breakfast. The group was dissolved later in 2020 with the leftover money given to several charities. The documents are the latest example of how Mississippi politicians can use nonprofits to sidestep the usual restrictions and transparency required by campaign finance laws.
Nebraska – Donor to Nebraska Anti-Gambling Campaign Will Pay Record-Breaking Late Filing Fee
Omaha World-Herald – Martha Stoddard | Published: 6/11/2021
An Ohio-based group that spent more than $2.3 million to fight Nebraska’s casino gambling measures last fall will pay a record-breaking fine for missing a campaign finance report deadline. The Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission voted to grant a request for relief from Collective Prosperity. They reduced the fee to $23,130, down from the original $231,300 that was determined by a formula in state law. The law requires corporations, unions, trade groups, or professional associations based outside of Nebraska to file contribution reports if they give more than $10,000 a year to a Nebraska campaign.
New York – Cuomo’s Inner Circle Raised Money for Aide Who Was Convicted of Bribery
New York Times – Brian Rosenthal and J. David Goodman | Published: 6/15/2021
After one of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s most trusted aides and closest friends, Joseph Percoco, was convicted of accepting more than $300,000 in bribes from executives with business before the state, the governor quickly distanced himself. Privately, however, members of Cuomo’s inner circle, including one of his sisters, have for years been raising money for Percoco. As recently as last year, the group was helping to fund Percoco’s appeal of his conviction, after some of its members also helped finance a trust fund for his children.
New York – Longtime Assembly Aide Approved as New York’s Election Watchdog
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 6/14/2021
Michael Johnson a former New York Assembly aide, was chosen as the state Board of Elections chief enforcement counsel, replacing Risa Sugarman. When the enforcement counsel position was created in March 2014, it was touted as a major reform. During her six-year tenure, Sugarman angered a wide swath of the Legislature with investigations and lawsuits. She fined major labor unions that were allies of Assembly Democrats. In the Senate, the list of targets included all three factions of the chamber: Democrats, Republicans, and the now-defunct Independent Democratic Conference.
North Dakota – North Dakota Paid Its Top Investment Management Firm Millions Without Competitive Bidding Process
The Forum – Patrick Springer | Published: 6/15/2021
The state of North Dakota has paid its top investment consultant $12.9 million over the past 20 years without subjecting the firm to a competitive bidding process, an arrangement allowed by state law. The North Dakota State Investment Board has relied on investment consultant Callan for more than three decades to help select investment managers to steer the state’s $19.4 billion investment portfolio. Callan has a unique role in recommending other investment firms and working with the state on its overall investment strategies.
Ohio – Ally of Suspended Cleveland City Councilman Kenneth Johnson Pleads Guilty to Corruption Charges
MSN – John Caniglia (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 6/10/2021
A second ally of suspended Cleveland City Councilperson Kenneth Johnson admitted to charges involving the federal corruption investigation of Johnson. John Hopkins, the former executive director of the Buckeye-Shaker Square Development Corp., pleaded guilty to conspiracy and theft from a federal program. Johnson’s friend, Robert Fitzpatrick, pleaded to conspiracy involving fraudulent expense reports the council member filed with the city. A federal grand jury indicted Johnson, Hopkins, and Johnson’s longtime aide, Garnell Jamison. Prosecutors said Johnson stole more than $127,000 from city coffers by submitting false monthly expense reports.
Ohio – Larry Householder Out: Ohio House votes to remove former speaker
MSN – Jessie Balmert, Laura Bischoff, and Anna Staver (Cincinnati Enquirer) | Published: 6/16/2021
State Rep. Larry Householder, a former two-time House speaker, was expelled from the Ohio Legislature nearly 11 months after his arrest on a federal corruption charge. House members utilized a little-used provision in the Ohio Constitution that allows lawmakers to police their own for “disorderly conduct.” Householder was arrested last year in connection with the state’s largest bribery scheme. He is accused of orchestrating a nearly $61 million operation to win control of the Ohio House, pass a $1 billion bailout for two nuclear plants, and defend that law against a ballot initiative to block it.
Oregon – ‘Only Reasonable Course of Action’: Oregon GOP legislator ousted over state Capitol breach
USA Today – Connor Radnovich (Salem Statesman Journal) | Published: 6/11/2021
The Oregon House expelled Rep. Mike Nearman, who let violent, far-right protesters into the state Capitol on December 21. The vote marked the first time a member has been expelled by the House in its 160-year history. The only vote against the resolution was Nearman’s own. He said he let the protesters in because he believes the Capitol, which has been closed to the public to protect against spread of the coronavirus, should have been open. Nearman also faces two misdemeanor charges stemming from the incident.
Pennsylvania – Pittsburgh Poised for History-Making Election of Its First Black Mayor This Fall
MSN – Nick Keppler (Washington Post) | Published: 6/16/2021
More than five decades after Cleveland became the first, followed by virtually every other major city in the Midwest and Northeast, Pittsburgh is finally poised to join their ranks and make history this fall by electing a Black mayor. The all-but-certain victory of state Rep. Ed Gainey comes as the former steel town, these days dubbed one of America’s most livable cities, looks hard at the racial inequities that have meant different experiences and opportunities for African American residents. Gainey is the first candidate to defeat a sitting mayor in nearly 90 years.
Rhode Island – Former RI State Rep-Elect Pleads Guilty to Embezzling from Nonprofit
MSN – Providence Journal Staff | Published: 6/16/2021
A man who won a seat in the Rhode Island House but resigned before being sworn pleaded guilty to felony embezzlement and campaign finance charges. The court gave Laufton Ascencao a five-year suspended sentence with probation, imposed a $1,000 fine, and ordered restitution of $13,387.70 to the Rhode Island Chapter of the Sierra Club. Allegations of financial impropriety surfaced shortly after his election, including the charge that he used money from the Rhode Island Sierra Club to help finance his campaign.
South Carolina – SC House Reveals New List of $90M in Taxpayer Funds for Lawmakers’ Pet Projects
MSN – Andrew Caplan (The State) | Published: 6/13/2021
The South Carolina House released its list of nearly $90 million in earmarks members want in the upcoming budget that takes effect July 1. But the list falls short of the level of transparency and accountability that most lawmakers said they favored when polled by reporters. The new list also reveals some lawmakers are sponsoring earmarks that, in previous years, other legislators took heat for sponsoring because of potential conflicts-of-interest. Some watchdogs wonder if these lawmakers are trying to head off additional criticism by convincing their colleagues to sponsor the questionable earmarks on their behalf.
Tennessee – Closed Cold Case Murder Tied to Ousted Tennessee Governor
ABC News – Kimberly Kruesi (Associated Press) | Published: 6/9/2021
Investigators have been chipping away at the 42-year-old cold case of Samuel Pettyjohn’s murder since they renewed their investigation in 2015. At the time of his death, prosecutors said he was an informant in a federal probe of then-Tennessee Gov. Ray Blanton, who was accused of taking bribes in exchange for state prisoners receiving early parole. Investigators have now linked Pettyjohn’s killing to the Blanton inquiry. Hamilton County District Attorney Neal Pinkston said Pettyjohn was killed in a murder-for-hire plot paid for in-part by a third party on behalf of Blanton’s administration.
Texas – Dallas City Corruption Trial Begins for a Local Developer Accused of Bribing Former Councilors
MSN – Kevin Krause (Dallas Morning News) | Published: 6/14/2021
It is a transaction that happens routinely in politics: the payment of money by a business owner to a public official with the expectation of some future favorable action. But when is that payment an illegal bribe and when does it fall into the category of a routine campaign contribution? A federal jury will soon decide the matter, at least in the trial of developer Ruel Hamilton, who is accused of bribing two former Dallas City Council members. Prosecutors say Hamilton made payments to Carolyn Davis and Dwaine Caraway in exchange for their help on the council with his real estate properties.
Texas – State Bar Investigating Texas Attorney General
MSN – Jake Bleiberg (Associated Press) | Published: 6/10/2021
The State Bar of Texas is investigating whether state Attorney General Ken Paxton’s failed efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election based on bogus claims of fraud amounted to professional misconduct. The bar association initially declined to take up a complaint that Paxton’s petitioning of the U.S. Supreme Court to block Joe Biden’s victory was frivolous and unethical. But a tribunal that oversees grievances against lawyers overturned that decision and ordered the bar to look into the accusations against the Republican official.
Virginia – Black Virginians Took Ralph Northam Back. Neither Has Forgotten.
New York Times – Astead Herndon | Published: 6/14/2021
On a national level, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam may forever be enshrined as the Democrat who defied calls to resign in the face of unquestionable racism – a photograph on his yearbook page that showed one man in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan costume. But among Black political leaders and elected officials in Virginia, he is set to leave office with another legacy: becoming the most racially progressive governor in the state’s history, whose focus on uplifting Black communities since the 2019 scandal will have a tangible and lasting effect.
Washington – Google to Pay Washington State $400,000 to Settle Campaign Finance Lawsuit
Seattle Times – David Gutman | Published: 6/17/2021
Google agreed to pay $400,000 to settle charges it has not complied with Washington’s campaign finance laws, which require businesses to retain records of political ads they sell in the state. It is the second time in three years that the company has settled a campaign finance lawsuit in Washington. Google paid $200,000, plus attorneys’ fees, to settle a similar lawsuit, but admitted no wrongdoing. This time, Google agreed it did not comply with state law, but still disputes whether the law applies the company.
June 17, 2021 •
Campaign Finance Nebraska: “Donor to Nebraska Anti-Gambling Campaign Will Pay Record-Breaking Late Filing Fee” by Martha Stoddard for Omaha World-Herald Washington: “Google to Pay Washington State $400,000 to Settle Campaign Finance Lawsuit” by David Gutman for Seattle Times Elections National: […]
Nebraska: “Donor to Nebraska Anti-Gambling Campaign Will Pay Record-Breaking Late Filing Fee” by Martha Stoddard for Omaha World-Herald
Washington: “Google to Pay Washington State $400,000 to Settle Campaign Finance Lawsuit” by David Gutman for Seattle Times
National: “‘It Was Exhaustion, It Was Sadness, It Was Fatigue’: America’s mayors call it quits” by Lisa Kashinsky for Politico
National: “Manchin Outlines Demands on Voting Legislation, Creating an Opening for Potential Democratic Compromise” by Matt Zapotosky and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) for MSN
Pennsylvania: “Pittsburgh Poised for History-Making Election of Its First Black Mayor This Fall” by Nick Keppler (Washington Post) for MSN
New York: “Cuomo’s Inner Circle Raised Money for Aide Who Was Convicted of Bribery” by Brian Rosenthal and J. David Goodman for New York Times
Ohio: “Larry Householder Out: Ohio House votes to remove former speaker” by Jessie Balmert, Laura Bischoff, and Anna Staver (Cincinnati Enquirer) for MSN
Canada: “Lobbyists Slipping Through Cracks of Lobbying Act: Commissioner” by Aiden Chamandy for iPolitics
North Dakota: “North Dakota Paid Its Top Investment Management Firm Millions Without Competitive Bidding Process” by Patrick Springer for The Forum
Colorado: “Colorado Supreme Court Beats Back State Politicians’ Redistricting Efforts” by Evan Wyloge for Denver Gazette
June 16, 2021 •
Campaign Finance California: “San Diego Website Meltdown Preceded by Vendor Spat, Email Shows” by Matt Potter for San Diego Reader Elections National: “G.O.P. Bills Rattle Disabled Voters: ‘We don’t have a voice anymore’” by Maggie Astor for New York Times […]
California: “San Diego Website Meltdown Preceded by Vendor Spat, Email Shows” by Matt Potter for San Diego Reader
National: “G.O.P. Bills Rattle Disabled Voters: ‘We don’t have a voice anymore’” by Maggie Astor for New York Times
National: “Emails Show Trump Pressured Justice Dept. Over 2020 Election” by Michael Balsamo and Colleen Long for Associated Press News
National: “Trump’s FDA Commissioner Takes Job at Moderna Backer” by Dan Diamond (Washington Post) for MSN
Alaska: “Records Show Little Email Contact Between Gov. Dunleavy’s Former Aide and Oil Company That Hired Him” by Nathaniel Herz (Alaska Public Media) for KTOO
Connecticut: “Lawyer Says ‘No Quid Pro Quo’ in Provision Struck from Connecticut Marijuana Bill That Favored One Producer” by Mark Pazniokas (Connecticut Mirror) for Hartford Courant
Texas: “Dallas City Corruption Trial Begins for a Local Developer Accused of Bribing Former Councilors” by Kevin Krause (Dallas Morning News) for MSN
Hawaii: “Emails Show HART Leaders Always Wanted to Hire Hanabusa as Consultant” by Marcel Honore and Nick Grube for Honolulu Civil Bea
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