October 4, 2022 •
Campaign Finance California: “New State Law Could Curb Pay to Play Politics in Orange County & California” by Spencer Custodio for Voice of OC Ethics National: “Trump’s Lawyer Refused His Request in February to Say All Documents Returned” by Josh […]
California: “New State Law Could Curb Pay to Play Politics in Orange County & California” by Spencer Custodio for Voice of OC
National: “Trump’s Lawyer Refused His Request in February to Say All Documents Returned” by Josh Dawsey and Jacqueline Alemany (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Supreme Court to Scrutinize U.S. Protections for Social Media” by Andrew Chung (Reuters) for MSN
Florida: “The Story Behind DeSantis’s Migrant Flights to Martha’s Vineyard” by Edgar Sandoval, Miriam Jordan, Patricia Mazzei, and J. David Goodman (New York Times) for Yahoo News
Massachusetts: “Former State Police Union Boss Dana Pullman and Former Lobbyist Anne Lynch Face Trial for Alleged Kickback Schemes” by Shelly Murphy (Boston Globe) for MSN
New Mexico: “NM Sen. Ivey-Soto Resigns from the Chairman Position of an Influential Committee” by Shaun Griswold for Source New Mexico
Texas: “Ethics Commission Shelves Lobbying Complaint Against Austin Pets Alive! Employee” by Chad Swiatecki for Austin Monitor
New York: “City Council Redistricting Drama Underscores Dropped Commission Ethics Policy” by Ethan Geringer-Sameth for Gotham Gazette
September 23, 2022 •
National/Federal A Landmark Supreme Court Fight Over Social Media Now Looks Likely MSN – Robert Barnes and Ann Marimow (Washington Post) | Published: 9/19/2022 Conflicting lower court rulings about removing controversial material from social media platforms point toward a landmark U.S. […]
A Landmark Supreme Court Fight Over Social Media Now Looks Likely
MSN – Robert Barnes and Ann Marimow (Washington Post) | Published: 9/19/2022
Conflicting lower court rulings about removing controversial material from social media platforms point toward a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision on whether the First Amendment protects tech companies’ editorial discretion or forbids its censorship of unpopular views. The stakes are high not just for government and the companies, but because of the increasingly dominant role platforms such as Twitter and Facebook play in American democracy and elections. Social media posts have the potential to amplify disinformation or hateful speech, but removal of controversial viewpoints can stifle public discourse about important political issues.
Appeals Court: Justice Dept. can use Mar-a-Lago documents in criminal probe
MSN – Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 9/21/2022
An appeals court sided with the Justice Department in a legal fight over classified documents seized in a court-authorized search of former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, ruling the FBI may use the documents in its ongoing criminal investigation. The decision by a three-judge panel of the appeals court marks a victory for the Justice Department in its legal battle with Trump over access to the evidence to determine if the former president or his advisers mishandled national security secrets or hid or destroyed government records.
Apple Flexes Muscle as Quiet Power Behind App Group
Yahoo News – Emily Birnbaum (Bloomberg) | Published: 9/19/2022
The APP Association brands itself as the leading voice for thousands of app developers around the world. The majority of its funding comes from Apple, however. The tech giant is not a member of the association, but it plays a dominant behind-the-scenes role shaping the group’s policy positions, according to four former App Association employees. In fact, critics note, the association’s lobbying agenda tracks closely with Apple’s even when it is at odds with app developers, the companies that make the individual games and programs that run on Apple’s iPhone and other devices.
DeSantis Draft Effort Pushes Ahead After Campaign Finance Watchdog Deadlocks
MSN – Zach Montellaro (Politico) | Published: 9/15/2022
An effort to draft Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis into the 2024 presidential race promised to proceed with an unusual attempt to boost his would-be campaign, after the FEC deadlocked on a request for guidance about whether the strategy was legal. Ready for Ron is a federal PAC that wants to build a list of up to 1 million people urging DeSantis to run. But with those names, the group wants to deliver would-be supporters’ email addresses and phone numbers to DeSantis. The FEC has said candidates can rent or buy supporter lists compiled by other groups, but they cannot accept something of such value as a gift without breaking contribution limits.
Fugitive in Massive Navy Bribery Case Caught in Venezuela
Yahoo News – Associated Press | Published: 9/22/2022
Leonard Francis, a Malaysian defense contractor nicknamed “Fat Leonard” who orchestrated one of the largest bribery scandals in U.S. military history, was arrested in Venezuela after fleeing before his sentencing. The arrest came on the eve of his scheduled sentencing in a federal court for a bribery scheme that lasted more than a decade and involved dozens of U.S. Navy officers. The U.S. government faces an uphill challenge returning the fugitive back to American soil.
Gaetz Sought Pardon Related to Justice Department Sex Trafficking Probe
MSN – Jacqueline Alemany and Amy Gardner (Washington Post) | Published: 9/17/2022
U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz told a former White House aide that he was seeking a preemptive pardon from then-President Trump regarding an investigation in which he is a target, according to testimony given to the House select committee investigating the attack on the Capitol. Asked by investigators if Gaetz’s request for a pardon was in the context of the Justice Department investigation into whether he violated federal sex trafficking laws, Johnny McEntee replied, “I think that was the context, yes,” according to people familiar with the testimony.
Greg Norman Finds Friendly Faces, Harsh Criticism on Capitol Hill Trip
MSN – Rick Maese (Washington Post) | Published: 9/21/2022
As a federal antitrust case winds its way through the court system, LIV Golf chief executive Greg Norman visited Capitol Hill, receiving mixed reviews from lawmakers as he tried to sell them on his breakaway tour that has upended the golf word. While some lawmakers seemed receptive to Norman, others questioned LIV Golf’s Saudi financing and said Congress should not spend time intervening in a business dispute between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour. LIV Golf and seven of its golfers have sued the PGA Tour, saying it violated antitrust laws, allegations the Justice Department is also reportedly probing.
House Passes Bill to Prevent Efforts to Subvert Presidential Election Results
MSN – Amy Wang (Washington Post) | Published: 9/21/2022
The House passed an electoral reform bill that seeks to prevent presidents from trying to overturn election results through Congress, the first vote on such an effort since the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob seeking to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral win. The Presidential Election Reform Act would clearly reaffirm the vice president has no role in validating a presidential election beyond acting as a figurehead who oversees the counting process, barring that person from changing the results.
Jan. 6 Committee Reaches Deal with Ginni Thomas for an Interview
MSN – Jacqueline Alemany and Azi Paybarah (Washington Post) | Published: 9/21/2022
The House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection reached an agreement with Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, to be interviewed by the panel in coming weeks. Virginia Thomas, a longtime conservative activist, pushed lawmakers and top Republican officials to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election, citing baseless claims of widespread voter fraud.
Old Money: How retirees are funding and fueling political candidates unlike ever before
Yahoo News – Madison Hall (Business Insider) | Published: 9/20/2022
Retirees are becoming one of the most powerful financial forces in politics as they spend their savings to fuel federal-level campaigns. By the 2020 election cycle, retirees accounted for more than 20 percent of contributions, amounting to more than $378 million. Retirees’ expanded influence coincides with the rapid increase in politicians fundraising by email and text message – and targeting older Americans with never-ending solicitations. Older Americans, many of whom are retired, tend to be more engaged politically and represent a larger share of each party’s base, said Sheila Krumholz, executive director at OpenSecrets.
Senate Republicans Block Bill to Require Disclosure of ‘Dark Money’ Donors
MSN – Amy Wang (Washington Post) | Published: 9/22/2022
Senate Republicans blocked legislation that would have required super PACs and other groups to disclose donors who give $10,000 or more during an election cycle, a blow to Democrats’ efforts to reform campaign finance laws. Spending in election cycles by corporations and the ultrawealthy through so-called dark money groups has skyrocketed since the 2010 Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. FEC, which allowed incorporated entities and labor unions to spend unlimited amounts of money to promote or attack candidates.
The ‘Cost’ of Voting in America: A look at where it’s easiest and hardest
Seattle Times – Nick Corasaniti and Allison McCann (New York Times) | Published: 9/21/2022
A new study ranks all 50 states based on the overall investment a resident must make, in time and resources, to vote. The 2022 edition of the Cost of Voting Index, a nonpartisan academic study that seeks to cut through the politics of voting access, focused on 10 categories related to voting, including registration, inconvenience, early voting, polling hours, and absentee voting. The study’s emphasis on early-voting options meant states like Washington and Oregon, where voting is conducted entirely by mail, ended up at the top of the rankings.
TikTok to Ban Campaign Fundraising, Require Verification for Political Accounts
MSN – Gina Martinez (CBS News) | Published: 9/21/2022
TikTok announced it is banning campaign fundraising on its platform. It also announced new policies for political accounts, including “mandatory verification.” The ban will include videos asking for donations, and videos from political parties directing people to a contribution page on their website. Verification will ensure that anyone watching content belonging to a government, politician, or political party account will know that the account is “genuine” and the source is “authentic.”
Trump Adviser’s Trial May Shed Light on Foreign Influence Campaigns
MSN – Rebecca Davis O’Brien (New York Times) | Published: 9/19/2022
The trial of Thomas Barrack, an informal adviser to former President Trump accused of acting as an unregistered agent of the United Arab Emirates, could shed light on how foreign governments jockeyed for access to the Trump administration, efforts that may have created lucrative opportunities for businesspeople close to the White House. Prosecutors have accused Barrack of using his sway with Trump to advance the interests of the Emiratis and of serving as a secret back channel for communications without disclosing his efforts to the attorney general, as the government contends that he should have.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – 14 AZ Lawmakers Took 9-Day Europe Trip Sponsored in Part by Lobbyists and More Are Coming
MSN – Ray Stern (Arizona Republic) | Published: 9/18/2022
Fourteen Arizona lawmakers took a free trip to Germany recently, where they met government and business officials. Lobbyist firms and taxpayers funded the lawmakers’ expenses as part of a state House international relations program. The trip may have had trade benefits, but lawmakers should still take care to avoid the perception they are receiving gifts that could influence their policy making, said John Pelissero of the Markula Center for Applied Ethics. The number of lawmakers and that they could take their spouses seemed excessive to Pelissero, who called the trip a “junket.”
California – Former USC Dean Admits to Arranging Bribery Payment for Mark Ridley-Thomas
Yahoo News – Michael Finnegan and Matt Hamilton (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 9/15/2022
A former University of Southern California dean agreed to plead guilty to bribery, admitting she arranged an illicit $100,000 payment for Mark Ridley-Thomas when he was on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in return for a university contract with the county. Marilyn Flynn’s admission of guilt strikes a major blow to Ridley-Thomas, now a Los Angeles city council member who has been suspended while he defends against federal charges of bribery, fraud, and conspiracy. Flynn’s plea also reduces the likelihood that evidence related to U.S. Rep. Karen Bass, the front-runner in the race for Los Angeles mayor, would get a public airing at trial.
California – Gov. Gavin Newsom Strips Fresno County Supervisors’ Power to Draw Election Lines
Sacramento Bee – Juan Esparza Loera | Published: 9/19/2022
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation to give redistricting duties in Fresno County to a 14-member commission. Assemblyperson Joaquín Arámbula said it was the only way to ensure the Latino community gets a fair chance at political representation after the next census. Arámbula and community organizations said county supervisors cannot be trusted to draw fair and equitable districts because supervisorial districts have changed little despite a spike in Latino population.
California – Legal Pot Spawned a Wave of Corruption, Threats and Secret Financial Deals for Politicians
MSN – Adam Elmahrek, Robert Lopez, and Ruben Vives (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 9/15/2022
California’s decision to legalize recreational cannabis ushered in a multibillion-dollar commercial market that officials in many small, struggling communities hoped would bring new jobs and an infusion of tax revenue. But the advent of commercial marijuana unleashed a wave of corruption that has rocked local governments across the state and left them with few effective tools to combat the problem. The industry has donated campaign money to local government officials as cannabis became a powerful special interest. Lobbyists and others say bribery and shakedowns have become so commonplace in licensing that it feels like a normal part of doing business.
California – Santa Clara Mayor Asks Newsom to Give Campaign Donor a Break
San Jose Spotlight – Joseph Geha | Published: 9/21/2022
Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor lobbied California Gov. Gavin Newsom to help a major real estate firm save money on the largest mixed-use development planned in the state, months before the developer made a six-figure donation to her campaign. Gillmor advocated that Related Companies should not be required to pay prevailing wages to workers. Related formed a local PAC to support Gillmor as she runs for reelection and funded it with $100,000. Executives from the company also donated to Gillmor’s mayoral election campaign in 2018, two years after the project was approved by the city council.
California – Trial of Corruption Case Against California Sheriff to Begin
Yahoo News – Associated Press | Published: 9/21/2022
A longtime San Francisco Bay Area sheriff is on trial on public corruption allegations involving her office’s granting of concealed-carry weapons permits and costly jail mismanagement. The unusual case against Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith is a civil process to seek removal of an elected official but is similar to a criminal case. The trial follows an investigation into allegations that Smith’s office traded concealed weapons permits for donations to her reelection campaign and mismanaged the jails, where mentally ill inmates died or were injured.
Florida – Jury Awards $3 Million to Garbage Contractor in Opa-locka Corruption Lawsuit
MSN – Tess Riski (Miami Herald) | Published: 9/20/2022
A jury awarded a $3 million judgment to a garbage contractor that sued Opa-locka in 2017 alleging corruption and extortion in a city that has for years been plagued with financial and political turmoil. Jurors found the city failed to act in good faith with Universal Waste Services of Florida (UWS). Representatives of UWS made accusations of extortion against former city Commissioner Terence Pinder, who died in an apparent suicide in 2016, two days before he was scheduled to turn himself in on state bribery charges.
Florida – Migrants Flown to Martha’s Vineyard File Class-Action Lawsuit Against DeSantis
MSN – Amy Wang (Washington Post) | Published: 9/20/2022
A group of Venezuelan migrants who were flown from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard – allegedly after being falsely promised work and other services – filed a class-action lawsuit against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and other officials who arranged the flights, saying the officials used fraud and misrepresentation to persuade them to travel across state lines. The migrants are seeking unspecified damages, as well as the cost of their legal fees, for emotional and economic harm.
Georgia – Georgia 2020 Election Inquiry May Lead to Prison Sentences, Prosecutor Says
MSN – Matthew Brown and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) | Published: 9/15/2022
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, the prosecutor investigating efforts by Donald Trump and his allies to challenge the 2020 election results in Georgia, said her team has heard credible allegations that serious crimes have been committed and she believes some individuals may see jail time. At least 17 people have been notified they are targets of the criminal investigation, meaning they could eventually face charges. More targets will be added to the list soon, Willis said.
Georgia – Video Shows Trump Allies Handling Georgia Voting Equipment
Yahoo News – Danny Hakim, Richard Fausset, and Nick Corasaniti (New York Times) | Published: 9/20/2022
Newly released videos show allies of former President Trump and contractors who were working on his behalf handling sensitive voting equipment in a rural Georgia county weeks after the 2020 election. The footage, which was made public as part of litigation over Georgia’s voting system, raises new questions about efforts by Trump affiliates in a number of swing states to gain access to and copy sensitive election software, with the help of friendly local election administrators.
Illinois – State Sen. Emil Jones III Took Bribes from Red-Light Camera Company, Lied to Feds: Charges
WTTW – Heather Cherone | Published: 9/20/2022
Federal prosecutors charged Illinois Sen. Emil Jones III with three felonies, alleging he took a bribe from a firm that installed red-light cameras throughout the state and lied to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents. After being approached by a former executive for Safe Speed, the red-light company, who was cooperating with law enforcement, Jones agreed to limit the scope of his bill to study red-light cameras only in Chicago, where the firm did not operate, prosecutors say. In return, the executive agreed to pay Jones $5,000 and to provide a job to an unidentified associate of Jones.
Maryland – Opinion Says Nash’s Lobbying Violated City Ethics Ordinance
Yahoo News – Ryan Marshall (Frederick News-Post) | Published: 9/16/2022
Frederick Alderwoman Katie Nash violated the city’s ethics rules by lobbying on behalf of a firefighter union’s concerns about county emergency services coverage in the city, an Ethics Commission ruled. Nash, a lobbyist registered with the state, improperly emailed people, including coordinators for various Neighborhood Advisory Councils, encouraging them to raise concerns with the county about plans to shift coverage of paramedic services in parts of the city, according to the opinion. Nash was a paid lobbyist for the International Association of Firefighters Local 3666 when she sent out emails and press releases.
Michigan – Former Macomb Public Works Boss Marrocco Pleads Guilty in Corruption Probe
Yahoo News – Christina Hall (Detroit Free Press) | Published: 9/20/2022
Former Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Anthony Marrocco pleaded guilty to attempted extortion in federal court in a yearslong corruption probe that netted more than 20 other people. Prosecutors alleged he used an aide and others to shake down builders and contractors for donations to his fundraisers. If they did not contribute, the indictment said, Marrocco retaliated by holding up building permits, denying payment to vendors, and refusing to award contracts to firms. The charge to which he pleaded guilty carries up to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000.
Michigan – Here’s the Punishment for Warren Councilman Who Handcuffed Woman over BLM Stickers
Yahoo News – Christina Hall (Detroit Free Press) | Published: 9/19/2022
Warren City Councilperson Edward Kabacinski pleaded no contest to disturbing the peace and was sentenced to one-year probation for his actions toward a woman at a rally for then-President Trump. Kabacinski was charged in October 2020 with assault and battery and impersonating a police officer when he chased a woman and handcuffed her after she put a Black Lives Matter sticker on a Trump sign during a protest. Kabacinski claimed he is a former military police officer and federal law allows him to detain those who breach the peace or break the law. The woman was not facing criminal charges.
New Hampshire – New Hampshire GOP Senate Nominee Abruptly Backs Off False 2020 Election Claims
MSN – Gregory Krieg and Dan Merica (CNN) | Published: 9/15/2022
U.S. Senate candidate Don Bolduc won the Republican nomination in New Hampshire after months campaigning on false claims the 2020 election was stolen from former President Trump. A little more than a day after the primary, he attempted an about-face. “I’ve come to the conclusion, and I want to be definitive on this: the election was not stolen,” Bolduc said. He is not the only GOP candidate who has tried to temper, or erase, hardline positions as the general-election environment starts to look less favorable for the party.
New Jersey – When George Gilmore’s Public Work Dried Up, an Ally Gave His Wife a Job with Engineering Firm
Yahoo News – Matt Friedman (Politico) | Published: 9/19/2022
When Ocean County Republican Party Chairperson George Gilmore was convicted on three federal tax charges in 2019, it did not just cost him his political leadership post. His work with public entities also dried up. Gilmore’s now-defunct law firm, Gilmore & Monahan, had made between $2 million and $3 million in public contracts annually between 2012 and 2018. He resigned from another job at the lobbying firm 1868 Public Affairs. But after Gilmore’s conviction, a political ally founded Morgan Municipal Services, a new division to expand the firm’s work in the public sector. It counted Gilmore’s wife as one of its three founding partners.
New Mexico – NM Senator Defends His Reputation While Policy Silences the People Accusing Him of Misconduct
Source NM – Shaun Griswold | Published: 9/19/2022
New Mexico Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto said the sexual harassment complaint filed against him is closed. But outrage continues to grow, as everyone involved calls for reform of statehouse procedures shrouded in secrecy. The lobbyist who came forward with the initial complaint says her First Amendment rights have been violated because of the confidentiality rules about who is allowed to speak about the matter publicly. After the findings in the misconduct investigation were leaked, Ivey-Soto contacted the FBI about what he says is extortion.
New York – Donald Trump, 3 of His Children Accused of Business Fraud by New York AG
MSN – Shayna Jacobs and Jonathan O’Connell (Washington Post) | Published: 9/21/2022
New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit accusing Donald Trump, three of his grown children, and executives at his company of manipulating asset valuations to deceive lenders, insurance brokers, and tax authorities into giving them better loan and insurance policy rates and reduce their tax liability. The complaint asks the state Supreme Court to bar the former president, Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Eric Trump from serving as executives at any company in New York, and to bar the Trump Organization from acquiring commercial real estate or receiving loans from a New York-registered financial institution for five years.
New York – Executive Threw Hochul Fundraiser Weeks Before Landing $637M Deal
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 9/20/2022
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul maintains that when her administration paid a vendor $637 million last winter for COVID-19 tests, she was unaware the recipient was a campaign donor. Yet a month before the administration struck the deals, the company’s founder threw an in-person campaign fundraiser for Hochul. The deal was enabled by the governor’s revived suspension of competitive bidding rules for the administration’s purchase of COVID-19 supplies. Through an emergency executive order, Hochul suspended those rules four days after the fundraiser.
Oregon – Oregon’s Nonaffiliated Candidates Face Long Odds Making It onto the Ballot
Oregon Capital Chronicle – Julia Shumway | Published: 9/20/2022
Democratic and Republican candidates in Oregon pay a fee ranging from $25 to $150 and fill out a two-page form to compete in a primary. Minor party candidates are nominated separately by their parties, through conventions or party-run primaries. But non-affiliated candidates must collect petition signatures from hundreds or thousands of voters, depending on the office. Efforts to change Oregon’s election system are again afoot, with a coalition launching its petition drive for a constitutional amendment to open primaries. Nearly 41 percent of Oregon voters are ineligible to vote in primaries because they are nonaffiliated or registered with a minor party.
Oregon – Portland Elections Program Hits Council Candidate Rene Gonzalez with $77,000 Fine for Discounted Office Space
OPB – Rebecca Ellis | Published: 9/21/2022
Portland City Council hopeful Rene Gonzalez was fined for accepting and failing to report a steep discount on rent on his campaign office. The $77,000 fine, the biggest ever issued by the city’s Small Donor Elections program, stems from an unreported in-kind contribution Gonzalez is accused of accepting from the company, which is owned by Jordan Schnitzer, who personally gave $250 to Gonzalez in May. Program Director Susan Mottet said a normal tenant would have been asked to pay $6,900 per month for the over 3,000 square feet of space. Since May, Gonzalez’s campaign only had to pay $250 per month.
Pennsylvania – Philly’s Board of Ethics Voted to Close a Loophole that Super PACs Use to Get Instructions from Campaigns
MSN – Sean Collins Walsh (Philadelphia Inquirer) | Published: 9/21/2022
The Philadelphia Board of Ethics voted to ban the strategy known as “redboxing,” in which candidates send indirect signals to independent expenditure campaigns like super PACs that can raise unlimited amounts of money but are not allowed to coordinate with campaigns. Candidates do that by publicly stating the strategic needs of their campaigns, and some in recent federal elections have put those instructions in red boxes on their campaign websites to guide super PACs buying advertisements on their behalf. The statements use lightly coded language to inform the PACs on what the campaign wants.
Pennsylvania – Skill Games Company Woos Pa. Lawmakers with Trips to Wild Wyoming Rodeo
Spotlight PA – Angela Couloumbis | Published: 9/19/2022
This past summer, a select group of Pennsylvania legislators, including House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, got to experience the Cheyenne Frontier Days, the premier summer festival in Wyoming that bills itself as the world’s largest outdoor rodeo and Western celebration, courtesy of Pace-O-Matic. The company makes skill games that currently generate millions of dollars in revenue and, in Pennsylvania, operate in a legal and regulatory gray area, one the Legislature will play a key role in defining. For some of the lawmakers, it was an all-expenses-paid experience.
South Dakota – Ethics Board Keeps ‘Action’ Secret on Complaint Against Noem
MSN – Stephen Groves (Associated Press) | Published: 9/20/2022
The Government Accountability Board will not publicly disclose the “appropriate action” it took after finding evidence South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem intervened with a state agency to influence her daughter’s application for a real estate appraiser license. The board found there was evidence Noem engaged in a conflict-of-interest and malfeasance. A lawyer hired by the board, Mark Haigh, responded to an open records request by saying the board’s response would remain “confidential.” The board has never handled such a high-profile case since its inception in 2017.
Virginia – Virginia Rule on Legislators Leaving Districts Could Add More Intrigue to 2023 Elections
Virginia Mercury – Graham Moomaw | Published: 9/22/2022
After past redistricting cycles, the number of Virginia General Assembly members having to switch districts was kept to a minimum because legislators were allowed to draw careful lines around each other’s homes to avoid doing damage to incumbents. That was not the case last year, when experts appointed by the Virginia Supreme Court effectively reset the state’s legislative maps with little regard for keeping incumbents comfortably installed in conflict-free seats. That means an unusually high number of legislators are facing the prospect of moving to position themselves for the next election cycle.
Virginia – Youngkin’s Restriction on Trans Students’ Rights Is Probably Illegal, Experts Say
MSN – Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) | Published: 9/21/2022
A directive from Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin for public schools to restrict the rights of transgender students is either unenforceable or will be struck down in court because it appears to violate both state and federal law, experts and advocates said. The model policies require schools to categorize transgender children by their “biological sex” when it comes to using the bathroom, locker room, and other facilities and participating in activities. They also bar students from adopting a new name or pronouns without parental permission.
September 20, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “DeSantis Draft Effort Pushes Ahead After Campaign Finance Watchdog Deadlocks” by Zach Montellaro (Politico) for MSN Ethics National: “Martha’s Vineyard Flights Leave Migrant Advocates Scrambling” by Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Maria Sacchetti (Washington Post) for MSN California: “Former […]
National: “DeSantis Draft Effort Pushes Ahead After Campaign Finance Watchdog Deadlocks” by Zach Montellaro (Politico) for MSN
National: “Martha’s Vineyard Flights Leave Migrant Advocates Scrambling” by Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Maria Sacchetti (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “Former USC Dean Admits to Arranging Bribery Payment for Mark Ridley-Thomas” by Michael Finnegan and Matt Hamilton (Los Angeles Times) for Yahoo News
New Mexico: “NM Senator Defends His Reputation While Policy Silences the People Accusing Him of Misconduct” by Shaun Griswold for Source NM
Texas: “Texas Social Media ‘Censorship’ Law Goes into Effect After Federal Court Lifts Block” by Jesus Vidales for Texas Tribune
National: “Trump Adviser’s Trial May Shed Light on Foreign Influence Campaigns” by Rebecca Davis O’Brien (New York Times) for MSN
Pennsylvania: “Skill Games Company Woos Pa. Lawmakers with Trips to Wild Wyoming Rodeo” by Angela Couloumbis for Spotlight PA
California: “Gov. Gavin Newsom Strips Fresno County Supervisors’ Power to Draw Election Lines” by Juan Esparza Loera for Sacramento Bee
September 16, 2022 •
National/Federal A Record Number of Black Candidates for Higher Offices Aim to Reshape U.S. Politics MSN – Tim Craig (Washington Post) | Published: 9/13/2022 A record number of Black men and women are running for U.S. Senate and governor this fall, […]
A Record Number of Black Candidates for Higher Offices Aim to Reshape U.S. Politics
MSN – Tim Craig (Washington Post) | Published: 9/13/2022
A record number of Black men and women are running for U.S. Senate and governor this fall, with the potential to increase diversity in the nation’s top elected offices, which are still overwhelmingly held by White men. Since Reconstruction, voters have elected just seven Black senators and two Black governors. While many of them face tough odds, some have posted strong poll numbers and fundraising totals, waging credible campaigns that challenge long-held attitudes about whether Black candidates can be competitive in statewide races.
Durham Inquiry Appears to Wind Down as Grand Jury Expires
Yahoo News – Katie Benner (New York Times) | Published: 9/14/2022
When John Durham was assigned by the Justice Department to examine the origins of the investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, then-President Trump and his supporters expressed a belief the inquiry would prove a “deep state” conspiracy including top Obama-era officials had worked to sabotage him. Now Durham appears to be winding down his three-year inquiry without anything close to the results Trump was seeking. The grand jury that Durham has recently used to hear evidence has expired, and while he could convene another, there are currently no plans to do so.
FEC Unanimously Rejects Complaints About Zuckerberg’s 2020 Election Grants
MSN – Isaac Stanley-Becker (Washington Post) | Published: 9/8/2022
A unanimous bipartisan vote by the FEC undercut claims about Mark Zuckerberg’s role in the 2020 election that have taken hold among GOP leaders, candidates, and activists. The claims originate in the more than $400 million donated by Zuckerberg, the chief executive and founder of Meta, and his wife to a pair of nonprofits that provided grants aiding state and local governments with election administration in light of the challenges posed by the coronavirus. The funding from Zuckerberg soon became kindling for the firestorm unleashed by former President Trump and his allies as they questioned the legitimacy of the 2020 election.
In Final Primaries, Heated GOP Fights in N.H. Include a Blow to McCarthy
MSN – Colby Itkowitz and David Weigel (Washington Post) | Published: 9/13/2022
The 2022 primaries concluded on a familiar note – with voters in Republican races choosing between far-right, election-denying candidates and more moderate rivals, and party leaders divided in contests factoring into the battle for control of Congress. New Hampshire was one of three states where voters went to the polls, marking the end of this year’s nominating process, along with Rhode Island and Delaware. The primaries allowed voters a final chance to choose party standard-bearers after months of fierce intraparty battles that highlighted divisions on both sides over policy, personality, and ideology, among other things.
Judge Dismisses Trump Lawsuit Against Hillary Clinton Over 2016 Election
MSN – Azi Paybarah (Washington Post) | Published: 9/9/2022
A federal judge dismissed Donald Trump’s lawsuit against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, saying there was no basis for the former president to claim Clinton and her allies harmed him with an orchestrated plan to spread false information that his campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential race. U.S. District Court Judge Donald Middlebrooks noted “glaring structural deficiencies in the plaintiff’s argument” and said, “such pleadings waste judicial resources and are an unacceptable form of establishing a claim for relief.”
Justice Dept. Issues 40 Subpoenas in a Week, Expanding Jan. 6 Inquiry
Seattle Times – Adam Goldman, Glenn Thrush, Alan Feuer, and Maggie Haberman (New York Times) | Published: 9/13/2022
Justice Department officials seized the phones of two top advisers to former President Trump and blanketed his aides with about 40 subpoenas in a substantial escalation of the investigation into his efforts to subvert the 2020 election. The seizure of the phones, coupled with a widening effort to obtain information from those around Trump after the 2020 election, represent some of the most aggressive steps the department has taken thus far in its criminal investigation into the actions that led to the assault on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.
Justice Dept. Says It Would Accept Trump’s Candidate for Special Master
MSN – Devlin Barrett and Perry Stein (Washington Post) | Published: 9/12/2022
The Justice Department filed court papers signaling it would accept a former federal judge as a special master charged with reviewing papers seized by the FBI from former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and club. U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon must approve Raymond Dearie’s appointment. Dearie was proposed by Trump’s lawyers amid a legal battle over whether a special master should review the documents to determine whether any should be kept from federal prosecutors investigating the potential mishandling of classified material and the possible hiding, tampering, or destruction of government records.
Migrants Flown to Martha’s Vineyard as GOP Escalates Immigration Protest
MSN – Ellen Francis (Washington Post) | Published: 9/15/2022
Dozens of migrants arrived by plane in Martha’s Vineyard, as some Republican governors escalate a campaign against President Biden’s border policies by shuttling refugees out of their states and to Democratic-led states or liberal enclaves. Their arrival in the affluent summer resort island in Massachusetts appeared to prompt confusion about where they had come from and how. The communications director for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said two flights were part of a state program to relocate undocumented immigrants.
Prosecutors Seek Details from Trump’s PAC in Expanding Jan. 6 Probe
MSN – Josh Dawsey and Isaac Arnsdorf (Washington Post) | Published: 9/8/2022
The Justice Department is seeking details about the formation and operation of Donald Trump’s post-presidential political operation in a significant expansion of the criminal investigation of the attack on the Capitol and efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. A federal grand jury sent subpoenas to a wide range of former campaign and White House staffers asking for information about the Save America PAC. Sources described the subpoenas as broad, seeking all documents and communications about opening the PAC and every dollar raised and spent.
Stock Trades Reported by Nearly a Fifth of Congress Show Possible Conflicts
News Inside Era – Kate Kelley, Adam Playford, and Alicia Parlapiano (New York Times) | Published: 9/13/2022
Ninety-seven U.S. senators or representatives who reported trades by themselves or immediate family members in stocks or other financial assets that intersected with the work of committees on which they serve, according to an analysis of trades from 2019 to 2021. The potential for conflicts in stock trading by members of Congress, and their choice so far not to impose stricter limits on themselves, has long drawn criticism, especially when particularly blatant cases emerge. Over the three-year period, more than 3,700 trades reported by lawmakers from both parties posed potential conflicts between their public responsibilities and private finances.
Trump Backers Flood Election Offices with Requests as 2022 Vote Nears
MSN – Amy Gardner and Patrick Marley (Washington Post) | Published: 9/11/2022
Supporters of former President Trump have swamped local election offices across the nation in recent weeks with a coordinated campaign of requests for 2020 voting records, in some cases paralyzing preparations for the fall election season. In nearly two dozen states and scores of counties, election officials are fielding what many describe as an unprecedented wave of public records requests in the final weeks of summer, one they say may be intended to hinder their work and weaken an already strained system.
What Makes State Legislatures Uniquely Prone to Alleged Harassment
MinnPost – Jennifer Gerson (The 19th) | Published: 9/7/2022
Statehouses, a place where the powerful and the less empowered rub shoulders as part of the policy-making process, are a place where abuse and harassment can flourish in the shadows, and consequences are slow to come if they come at all. Dealing with alleged harassment in remains a maze of bureaucratic red tape that, despite efforts to improve processes, has left people in uncomfortable power dynamics or complete inaction after alleged sexual harassment or bullying.
When a Man with a Pistol Shows Up Outside a Congresswoman’s House
MSN – Ruby Kramer (Washington Post) | Published: 9/8/2022
Threats against members of Congress have risen year after year, according to data from the Capitol Police: 9,625 in 2021, up from 3,939 in 2017. Officers logged nearly 2,000 cases in the first three months of this year alone. Among the statistics, there are thousands of stories like that of U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal. An armed man who reportedly threatened to kill Jayapal was arrested outside her Seattle home recently. The incident demonstrated to Jayapal how many gaps exist in congressional security.
From the States and Municipalities
Arkansas – Ethics Filing Against Flowers Frivolous, Senate Panel Says; Suspension Recommended for Clark
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette – Michael Wickline | Published: 9/10/2022
The Arkansas Senate Ethics Committee recommended the chamber suspend state Sen. Alan Clark for the rest of this year and strip him of seniority for the rest of this year and the next two years. The committee concluded that Clark’s charges of ethics violations against Sen. Stephanie Flowers were spurious, frivolous, and retaliatory. Clark filed a complaint against Flowers alleging she violated the Senate’s code of ethics by accepting legislative per diem payments for participating by Zoom in the Senate’s regular session meetings in 2021.
California – Anaheim Council Tightens Lobbyist Rules
MSN – Alicia Robinson (Orange County Register) | Published: 9/14/2022
Anaheim City Council members voted unanimously to support an ordinance tightening lobbyist regulations. Acting as a lobbyist but failing to register with the city, not filing disclosure reports as required, or filing inaccurate reports could result in a misdemeanor charge under the proposed rules. A second vote is required for the new rules to become law. Registered lobbyists will also have to attest under penalty of perjury their reports are true and accurate; perjury is a felony charge under state law.
California – Karen Bass Got a USC Degree for Free. It’s Now Pulling Her into a Federal Corruption Case
MSN – Matthew Brown (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 9/7/2022
A full tuition scholarship to the University of Southern California (USC) led to the indictment of former Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and the former dean of USC’s social work program, Marilyn Flynn, on bribery and fraud charges. Another scholarship recipient, U.S. Rep. Karen Bass, is the leading contender to be the next mayor of Los Angeles. Federal prosecutors have not indicated Bass is under a criminal investigation. But prosecutors have now declared that Bass’ scholarship and her dealings with USC are “critical” to their bribery case and to their broader portrayal of corruption in the university’s social work program.
California – L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl’s Home Searched by Sheriff’s Investigators
Yahoo News – Alene Tchekmedyian (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 9/14/2022
Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators searched the house of county Supervisor Sheila Kuehl as part of a criminal investigation into a county contract awarded to a nonprofit organization. A copy of the warrant showed the search was tied to an ongoing probe into Peace Over Violence, a nonprofit run by Patti Giggans, a member of the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission and a close friend to Kuehl. Both Kuehl and Giggans have clashed with Sheriff Alex Villanueva and called for his resignation.
California – Voters Push to Take Local Redistricting from Politicians
CalMatters – Sameea Kamal | Published: 9/14/2022
California’s independent redistricting commission has received generally good reviews for its new maps that voters are using to elect legislators and members of Congress in November. But voters who say they are disenfranchised want similar panels to draw their local districts. Three bills on California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk would overrule local officials and require independent redistricting commissions in Fresno, Kern, and Riverside counties. If signed into law, those panels would work on districts for the boards of supervisors in those counties, starting after the next Census in 2030.
Colorado – FBI Seizes Mike Lindell’s Phone in Probe of Colo. Voting Machine Breach
MSN – Jon Swaine and Emma Brown (Washington Post) | Published: 9/14/2022
FBI agents seized a cellphone belonging to Mike Lindell, the MyPillow founder and prominent election denier, as part of a federal investigation into an alleged breach of voting machines in Colorado, according to Lindell. Lindell said the agents questioned him about Tina Peters, the Mesa County clerk who was indicted on charges she helped an outsider copy sensitive data from the county’s elections systems. The action against Lindell, who has financed films, conferences, and other media promoting disinformation about elections, points to a widening of the federal investigation into the alleged breach in Mesa County.
Florida – ‘Make His Life a Living Hell.’ The FPL-financed plot to torpedo a Miami lawmaker
MSN – Mary Ellen Klas and Nicholas Nehamas (Miami Herald) | Published: 9/9/2022
Florida Power & Light’s (FPL) chief political operative, Jeff Pitts, used a maze of nonprofits to secretly finance an operation aimed at defeating state Sen. José Javier Rodríguez and replace him with a Republican less hostile to FPL’s interests. Rodríguez lost his bid for reelection in 2020 by 34 votes. It was part of an alleged “ghost candidate” plot in which “spoiler” candidates ran in a total of three state Senate races to help defeat Democratic candidates, who indeed lost. Two people have been criminally charged in connection with the effort to defeat Rodríguez, including a former state senator considered a staunch ally of FPL during his years in office.
Georgia – Former Atlanta Official Gets 14 Years in Corruption Case
Yahoo News – Kate Brumback (Associated Press) | Published: 9/8/2022
A former high-ranking Atlanta official was sentenced to 14 years in prison after a jury found her guilty of charges stemming from a long-running federal investigation into corruption at City Hall. In addition to the prison time, the judge ordered Mitzi Vickers to pay nearly $3 million in restitution to the city. Bickers was the first person to go to trial in the investigation into corruption during the administration of former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. She helped Reed win election and then worked as his director of human services for several years.
Georgia – Georgia’s Biggest County Can’t Find a Top Elections Official
MSN – Matthew Brown (Washington Post) | Published: 9/7/2022
For 10 months, local leaders have been unable to hire a permanent director to run the Department of Registration and Elections in Fulton County, home to Atlanta. The previous director resigned in November and left the position in April, after pressure from local lawmakers and the turmoil of the 2020 election, when county staff endured death threats, baseless conspiracy theories, high-stakes audits, and harassment from former Donald Trump and his allies. The staff has worked through the uncertainty under an interim director, but the county has been slow to implement changes mandated by a sweeping new election law.
Hawaii – Attorney For Mitsunaga’s Engineering Firm Has Been Arrested in Bribery Case
Honolulu Civil Beat – Christina Jedra | Published: 9/13/2022
Sheri Tanaka, an attorney for a prominent engineering firm whose chief executive officer is fighting federal charges, was arrested in California in connection with her client’s case and is currently in custody. Tanaka has been charged alongside Dennis Mitsunaga and associates of his firm who were accused of bribing former Honolulu prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro. Federal prosecutors say Mitsunaga and his accomplices directed over $45,000 to the prosecutor so he would pursue a bogus prosecution of a former employee of the firm, Laurel Mau.
Illinois – Board of Review’s Probe into Bribes for Tax Breaks Is Stymied by Employee’s ‘Inability to Recall Passcode’ to County-Issued Cellphone
Chicago Sun-Times – Mitch Dudek | Published: 9/9/2022
An employee of the Cook County Board of Review under investigation for accepting bribes to lower property taxes stymied a law firm hired to look into the matter by refusing to be interviewed and claiming he forgot the passcode to his county-issued cellphone. A cooperating witness in the case broached the idea of having property assessments lowered for an associate. A picture of the employee thumbing a stack of cash was included in an affidavit. The employee told a cooperating witness he was “just the middle guy” and the cash was intended to be split with others in his office, according to the affidavit.
Maryland – Montgomery School Leaders Defend Contract Given to Board Member’s Spouse
MSN – Nicole Asbury (Washington Post) | Published: 9/13/2022
Montgomery County’s schools superintendent defended the system’s decision to award a STEM learning contract to a company owned by a school board member’s spouse and blamed concerns over the award process on an inaccurate document on the board’s website. The Parents’ Coalition of Montgomery County raised concerns before a school board vote that the contract for MoCo KidsCo Inc. was being awarded as a no-bid contract, with no discussion by the school board, a lack of competition, and a conflict-of-interest.
Massachusetts – AG Maura Healey Ruling Derails Bid to Limit Super PAC Contributions in Massachusetts
MassLive – Matt Murphy (State House News Service) | Published: 9/9/2022
Super PACs are allowed to raise and spend unlimited sums of money to influence elections as long as they do not coordinate directly with any campaigns. The spending has come under fire from some candidates who oppose the influence money has on the process. But a bid to curtail the ability of super PACs to raise and spend huge sums in Massachusetts was nixed by state Attorney General Maura Healey’s office as “inconsistent” with constitutional rights to free speech.
Massachusetts – SJC Considers Lobbying by Federal Felons, Like Former House Speaker Sal DiMasi
MSN – Shelley Murphy (Boston Globe) | Published: 9/8/2022
Former Massachusetts House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi began working as a lobbyist on Beacon Hill nine years after a federal jury found him guilty of fraud and extortion for taking bribes while in office. The state’s highest court heard arguments over whether DiMasi should have been forced to wait a little longer to embark on his new career, based on a state law that bars people convicted of certain state crimes from registering as lobbyists until 10 years after their convictions.
Massachusetts – State’s Public Campaign Financing Program Means Candidates Can Spend Big in November Election
MassLive – Chris Lisinski (State House News Service) | Published: 9/12/2022
Maura Healey and Kim Driscoll can drain their entire accumulated campaign money in their bid for governor and lieutenant governor, Massachusetts campaign finance officials said. At least one candidate in each of the five statewide contests this fall sought to participate in the state’s public campaign financing program, which triggered a requirement for all other contestants in those races to declare self-imposed spending caps. The largest limit in each race becomes the cap for all candidates in that field. Healey and Driscoll told the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance their self-imposed spending would be limited to a maximum of $6.9 million.
Michigan – Michigan Supreme Court Puts Abortion on the November Ballot
Yahoo News – Alice Miranda Ollstein (Politico) | Published: 9/8/2022
The Michigan Supreme Court certified a sweeping abortion rights initiative for the November ballot, giving voters a chance to decide whether the procedure remains legal or whether a nearly 100-year-old ban goes back into effect. The emergency ruling overrides a party-line tie vote by the Board of State Canvassers, which blocked the certification of the proposed constitutional amendment. The two Republicans on that panel sided with conservative groups that argued spacing and formatting errors on the text canvassers presented to voters rendered the entire effort invalid.
Mississippi – Former Gov. Phil Bryant Helped Brett Favre Secure Welfare Funding for USM Volleyball Stadium, Texts Reveal
Mississippi Today – Anna Wolfe | Published: 9/13/2022
Newly released text messages show Brett Favre, former Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, and others worked together to channel at least $5 million of the state’s welfare funds to build a new volleyball stadium at University of Southern Mississippi, where Favre’s daughter played the sport. The texts show the then-governor even guided Favre on how to write a funding proposal so it could be accepted by the state Department of Human Services. In total, nonprofit leaders misspent at least $77 million in funds that were supposed to help the needy, forensic auditors found.
Montana – Super PAC Faces New Allegations in Montana
Montana Free Press – Alex Sakariassen | Published: 9/9/2022
An out-of-state political organization found to have violated Montana campaign finance law continues to face questions about its activity in three legislative races during the 2022 primary election, even as it pursues legal action against the commissioner of political practices. The Center for Media and Democracy filed a complaint against the Convention of States Political Fund, a Michigan-based super PAC that spent more than $126,000 on political flyers and radio ads in Montana earlier this year.
New York – Rensselaer County’s Republican Elections Commissioner Arrested by FBI
Albany Times Union – Brendan Lyons | Published: 9/13/2022
Jason Schofield, the Rensselaer County Board of Elections commissioner, was arrested by the FBI and charged with fraudulently obtaining and filing absentee ballots last year using the personal information of at least eight voters without their permission. The ballots were filled out and submitted in last year’s primary election, the general election, and sometimes both. In some instances, documentation was completed falsely claiming the ballots were mailed to the voters at their residences.
Ohio – Ex-Ohio Governor Candidate Joe Blystone Threatened with Prosecution Over Alleged Campaign-Finance Violations
MSN – Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 9/8/2022
Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s office says it will seek to refer Joe Blystone, who ran for Ohio governor earlier this year, to prosecutors for campaign finance violations if he does not accept a deal that includes turning over all his remaining campaign money to state officials. Blystone has been under scrutiny for a number of issues, including not properly recording thousands of dollars in small donations. Last March, LaRose’s office flagged more than $100,000 in contributions to Blystone’s campaign that appear to violate the state’s limit on cash contributions or ban on corporate donations.
Ohio – Former Butler County Elected Official Indicted on Corruption Charges
Yahoo – Cincinnati Enquirer staff | Published: 9/14/2022
A grand jury indicted Madison Township Trustee Alan Daniel on seven public corruption-related charges. The case had been referred to the Ohio Ethics Commission, which made a referral to the Butler County prosecutor’s office for criminal charges. State Auditor Keith Faber noted several votes Daniel cast as a trustee that Faber said directly impacted a family member. Daniel voted on 20 road department ordinances in 2018 and 15 in 2019 “from which he should have abstained because he is the father of Road Supervisor Todd Daniel,” Faber recently wrote to Madison Township officials.
Ohio – Ohio Supreme Court: ‘Targeted picketing’ ban unconstitutional
Ohio Capital Journal – Susan Tebben | Published: 9/14/2022
The Ohio Supreme Court took issue with a ban on “targeted picketing” of public officials in a new ruling. The justices ruled an education board violated picketers’ rights by putting a stop to public protests, calling Ohio Revised Code language on organizing a protest at public officials’ homes or workplaces “a form of expressive-activity suppression that is irreconcilable with the protections guaranteed by the First Amendment.”
Pennsylvania – Clandestine Plan to Force a Vote on Pa. Legislative Gift Ban Fails, Lawmakers Shrug
Spotlight PA – Stephen Caruso | Published: 9/14/2022
Pennsylvania lawmakers can accept gifts from anyone if they disclose items more than $250 on annual interest forms. Proposals to tighten the law have died over the years with no debate until last fall, when lawmakers on both sides of the aisle expressed interest in a more comprehensive gift ban. Activists recently said one unidentified House member would force a vote on whether to consider the bill, defying Republican leadership. But as one of the last scheduled session days of the year ended, no one stood up, leaving advocates with nothing to do but concede.
South Carolina – SC Supreme Court Says Attorney General’s $75M Payment to Law Firms Can Be Questioned
MSN – John Monk (The State) | Published: 9/14/2022
The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that John Crangle, who writes extensively on governmental ethics issues, has the right to challenge state Attorney General Alan Wilson’s award of a $75 million legal fee to two law firms. Wilson had signed a contingency fee agreement with the firms that awarded them a percentage of a settlement concerning the disposal of dangerous plutonium in the state. Crangle and the South Carolina Public Interest Foundation contended the $75 million fee was unreasonable and unconstitutional.
South Dakota – Documents Show Gov. Kristi Noem Tried to Avoid Ethics Hearing, Seal Records
Yahoo News – Stephen Groves (Associated Press) | Published: 9/9/2022
Documents show South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem asked the state Government Accountability Board to dismiss a complaint against her without a public hearing and to seal off certain records. News reports said shortly after a state agency moved to deny her daughter, Kassidy Peters, a real estate appraiser license, Noem held a meeting with Peters and key decision-makers in her licensure. After the meeting, Peters signed an agreement that gave her another opportunity to meet the licensing requirements. The South Dakota Legislature’s audit committee approved a report that found Noem’s daughter got preferential treatment.
Wyoming – Elections Official Files Complaint Against Conservative PAC
WyoFile – Maggie Mullen | Published: 9/13/2022
Campbell County’s chief elections officer filed a complaint against Coal Country Conservatives Political Action Committee, calling on the FEC and the Wyoming secretary of state to undertake a “swift and robust investigation.” The complaint by Campbell County Clerk Susan Saunders, names both the federal PAC and a Wyoming entity of the same name. Chief among Saunders’ concerns is a potentially improper campaign finance relationship between the two organizations and a lack of disclosure on the part of both.
Wyoming – Some Wyoming Republicans Want to Limit the Secretary of State after Trump’s Pick Wins
Wyoming Public Radio – Bob Beck | Published: 9/8/2022
Wyoming’s likely next secretary of state, a Trump-endorsed Republican who has falsely called the 2020 election fraudulent, is drawing concerns from many of his fellow GOP lawmakers. Now those legislators are aiming to draft a bill to remove the secretary of state’s ability to oversee elections. State Rep. Chuck Gray is the Republican nominee. He does not have a general election opponent. Though state officials maintain Wyoming elections are secure, Gray campaigned on concerns he has about election integrity.
September 9, 2022 •
National/Federal ‘Fat Leonard’ Goes on the Lam Weeks Before Sentencing in Navy Bribery Scandal Portland Press Herald – María Luisa Paúl (Washington Post) | Published: 9/6/2022 The Malaysian defense contractor who pleaded guilty to bribing Navy officials with sex parties, fancy […]
‘Fat Leonard’ Goes on the Lam Weeks Before Sentencing in Navy Bribery Scandal
Portland Press Herald – María Luisa Paúl (Washington Post) | Published: 9/6/2022
The Malaysian defense contractor who pleaded guilty to bribing Navy officials with sex parties, fancy dinners, and alcohol in a corruption scandal has escaped just weeks before his sentencing date. Leonard Francis, also known as “Fat Leonard,” fled while under house arrest in San Diego. A search by the San Diego Regional Fugitive Task Force and Naval Criminal Investigative Service is underway, officials said. “He cut off his GPS monitoring bracelet on Sunday morning,” the U.S. Marshals Service announced. “Task Force Officers went to his residence and upon arrival noticed the house was now vacant.”
FEC Approves Rule to Remove Candidate Loan Repayment Restrictions
OpenSecrets – Taylor Giorno | Published: 9/1/2022
The FEC approved an interim final rule that removes regulations that previously restricted the repayment of personal loans candidates made to their campaigns. In May, the Supreme Court ruled that existing candidate loan repayment restrictions were unconstitutional. Under the old rules, campaigns could raise money after election day to repay candidate loans up to $250,000 up to 20 days after the election.
From Border Town to ‘Border Town,’ Bused Migrants Seek New Lives in D.C. Area
MSN – Antonio Olivo (Washington Post) | Published: 9/7/2022
More than 230 buses carrying nearly 9,400 migrants, including young children, have arrived in the District of Columbia since Texas Gov. Greg Abbott began offering free passage to the city with Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey following suit. Buses from Texas have also started heading to New York and Chicago. The governors are using the busloads of migrants as a political statement about what they have called lax border policies. But for many of those who have accepted the rides, any political gamesmanship has been irrelevant. The buses have turned into a welcomed opportunity for migrants to get to their preferred destinations.
House Committee Reaches Deal to get Trump Financial Records
Yahoo News – Kevin Freking (Associated Press) | Published: 9/1/2022
A U.S. House committee seeking financial records from former President Trump reached an agreement that ends litigation on the matter and requires an accounting firm to turn over some of the material. The case began in April 2019, when the House Committee on Oversight and Reform first subpoenaed records from Trump’s then-accounting firm, Mazars USA. The committee cited testimony from Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, that it said raised questions about the president’s representation of his financial affairs when it came to seeking loans and paying taxes.
In Voter Fraud, Penalties Often Depend on Who’s Voting
Yahoo News – Michael Wines (New York Times) | Published: 9/6/2022
A review by The New York Times of some 400 voting fraud charges filed nationwide since 2017 underscores what critics of fraud crackdowns have long said: actual prosecutions are rare events and often netted people who did not realize they were breaking the law. Punishment can be wildly inconsistent. Most violations draw wrist slaps, while a few high-profile prosecutions produce draconian sentences. Penalties often fall heaviest on those least able to mount a defense. Those who are poor and Black are more likely to be sent to jail.
In Washington, Agricultural Policymakers Circulate Among Farm Bureau, USDA and Industry
Investigate Midwest – Madison McVan | Published: 8/24/2022
Reporting and more than 100 pages of emails obtained by Investigate Midwest shed light on the movement of agriculture policy leaders between government, industry, and the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF). Terri Moore, vice president of communications for AFBF, said Dale Moore, executive vice president of the group, and Sam Kieffer, the organization’s top lobbyist, likely had communication with Joby Young during his time at as chief of staff for the secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Young took over as AFBF executive vice president following a stint at a consulting firm.
Jan. 6 Committee Asks Former Speaker Newt Gingrich to Sit for Interview
MSN – Jacqueline Alemany and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 9/1/2022
The House select committee investigating the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol issued a request to interview former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. The request cited evidence showing Gingrich was in communication with senior advisers to ex-President Trump, including Jared Kushner and Jason Miller, regarding television advertisements that amplified false claims about fraud in the 2020 election. The panel also said it obtained evidence suggesting Gingrich was involved in the fake elector plot designed to encourage Vice President Mike Pence and members of Congress to affect the outcome of the joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021.
Judge’s Special-Master Order a Test of Trump’s Post-White House Powers
MSN – Ann Marimow and Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 9/6/2022
Justice Department lawyers are weighing whether to challenge a federal judge’s uncommon order to appoint an independent reviewer, called a special master, to assess more than 11,000 documents seized by the FBI from Donald Trump’s Florida residence. At issue are untested legal questions about the extent to which assertions of executive privilege can be applied to a former president. Legal experts called U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon’s decision problematic because it upends the usual course of a criminal investigation and suggests there are different rules for a former president.
Material on Foreign Nation’s Nuclear Capabilities Seized at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago
MSN – Devlin Barrett and Carol Leonnig (Washington Post) | Published: 9/6/2022
A document describing a foreign government’s military defenses, including its nuclear capabilities, was found by FBI agents who searched former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and private club, according to people familiar with the matter, underscoring concerns among U.S. intelligence officials about classified material stashed at the Florida property. Some of the seized documents detail top-secret U.S. operations so closely guarded that many senior national security officials are kept in the dark about them.
Tory Peer Broke Lobbying Rules, Whitehall Watchdog Finds
The Guardian – Henry Dyer | Published: 9/6/2022
A Conservative hereditary peer breached lobbying rules in the United Kingdom by failing to register as a consultant lobbyist before contacting ministers on behalf of his client. The Office of the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists announced the outcome of its investigation into the Earl of Shrewsbury, whose full name is Charles Henry John Benedict Crofton Chetwynd Chetwind-Talbot, and his company Talbot Consulting. The earl remains under investigation by the House of Lords for allegedly misusing his parliamentary position to lobby for SpectrumX.
From the States and Municipalities
Arkansas – Ex-Deputy Chief of Staff for Hutchinson Asks to Rescind Registration as a Lobbyist
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette – Michael Wickline | Published: 9/7/2022
Bill Gossage, the former deputy chief of staff for external operations for Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, said he asked the secretary of state’s office to rescind his August registration as a registered lobbyist. Gossage is vice president of governmental affairs for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas. State law bars an individual employed in the office of the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer, auditor, or commissioner of state lands from being eligible to be registered as a lobbyist until one year after the expiration of the individual’s employment in that office.
Florida – Jury Finds Seminole GOP Chair Guilty in ‘Ghost’ Candidate Case
Yahoo News – Annie Martin (Orlando Sentinel) | Published: 9/1/2022
Seminole County Republican Party Chairperson Ben Paris was found guilty of a scheme to siphon votes from a Democrat in a Florida Senate race. Prosecutors say Jestine Iannotti ran as an independent candidate but did not campaign and had no previous political experience. Iannotti illegally accepted a $1,200 cash donation from political consultant James Foglesong. Iannoitti and Foglesong falsely used the names of others as contributors in campaign finance reports to skirt Florida laws on donations.
Georgia – Election Deniers Repeatedly Visited Ga. County Office at Center of Criminal Probe, Video Shows
Portland Press Herald – Emma Brown and Jon Swaine (Washington Post) | Published: 9/6/2022
Technology consultants who sought evidence that Donald Trump’s 2020 defeat was fraudulent made multiple visits to a county elections office in rural Georgia in the weeks after an alleged post-election breach of voting equipment that is the subject of a criminal investigation. Surveillance video shows the consultants, Doug Logan and Jeffrey Lenberg, made two visits in January 2021 to the elections office in Coffee County. Lenberg made an additional five visits on his own. The two men are under investigation for separate alleged breaches of voting machines in Michigan.
Georgia – Judge Again Rejects Graham Bid to Throw Out Subpoena in Atlanta-Area Trump Probe
MSN – Kyle Cheney (Politico) | Published: 9/1/2022
A federal judge for the second time rejected U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s effort to block a grand jury subpoena issued by the Atlanta-area district attorney investigating former President Trump and his allies’ effort to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia. District Court Judge Leigh Martin May ruled Graham’s claim to be immune from such questioning, thanks to the protections of the so-called speech or debate clause of the Constitution is not as sweeping as he claimed it to be. The ruling sends the matter back to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Illinois – Political Operative Tied to Ald. Daniel Solis Probe Pleads Guilty to Fraud
MSN – Jason Meisner (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 9/2/2022
Roberto Caldero, a political operative at the center of the investigation into former Ald. Daniel Solis, pleaded guilty to variety of fraud schemes, including an attempt to influence a massive Chicago Public Schools janitorial contact, and using the alderman’s clout to solicit campaign cash and get a park and street renamed for a donor’s relatives. There was new mention in the plea agreement of an elected official, identified only as Public Official A, whom Caldero enlisted to pressure then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel to support the awarding of the janitorial contract to a company Caldero represented.
Indiana – Contractor Avoids Prison, Ordered to Pay Sanitary District $104K
Yahoo News – Douglas Walker (Muncie Star Press) | Published: 9/6/2022
A contractor avoided a prison sentence after pleading guilty to a fraud-related count stemming from a federal investigation of corruption in Muncie city government. But Rodney Barber was ordered to pay $104,750 in restitution to the Muncie Sanitary District (MSD). He admitted paying Phil Nichols, a former Democratic Party chairperson, $5,500 in cash in exchange for winning a contract to do work for the district. Barber also acknowledged giving MSD official Tracy Barton $5,000 in cash to “illegally contribute” to then-Mayor Dennis Tyler’s re-election campaign.
Louisiana – New Orleans’ ‘Night Mayor’ Fails to Respond to State Ethics [Board] After Trying to Rule on Conflict
LocalToday – Ben Myers (New Orleans Times-Picayune) | Published: 9/6/2022
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell named Howlin’ Wolf nightclub owner Howard Kaplan as the first director of the city’s new Office of Nighttime Economy. When Cantrell was asked about potential ethical issues in hiring a nightclub owner to manage the city’s nighttime economy, she cited a pending opinion from the Louisiana Board of Ethics to argue “there is no conflict-of-interest here.” But an ethics board attorney, Mallory Guillot, now says Kaplan has not responded to “numerous” attempts to contact him with additional questions about his dual role as city official and business owner.
Massachusetts – Maura Healey to Face Trump-Backed Republican in Deep-Blue Massachusetts
MSN – Annie Linskey and David Weigel (Washington Post) | Published: 9/6/2022
Maura Healey, who made history as the country’s first openly gay state attorney general, will face former state legislator Geoff Diehl, who was endorsed by Donald Trump, in the Massachusetts governor’s race this November, a contest seen by analysts as one of the best chances for Democrats to flip control of a Republican-held seat. If she prevails in the fall, Healey would be the first woman elected governor of Massachusetts. Democratic primary voters in also picked a nominee for attorney general in a race that divided the two U.S. senators and other party leaders in the state.
Michigan – Michigan Sheriff Sought to Seize Multiple Voting Machines, Records Show
Reuters – Peter Eisler and Nathan Layne | Published: 8/30/2022
A sheriff in Barry County, Michigan, already under state investigation for alleged involvement in an illegal breach of a vote-counting machine, sought warrants in July to seize other machines to prove former President Trump’s claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election, documents showed. A member of the so-called constitutional sheriffs movement, which holds sheriffs have supreme law enforcement authority within their counties, exceeding that of state and federal agencies, Leaf has appeared at events around the country organized by proponents of Trump’s rigged election claims.
Nevada – Police Arrest County Official in Reporter’s Stabbing Death
Las Vegas Review-Journal – David Ferrara, Briana Erickson, and Glenn Puit | Published: 9/7/2022
A Las Vegas-area elected official was arrested as the suspect in the fatal stabbing of a veteran newspaper reporter who had written articles exposing complaints of wrongdoing at his office. Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles was taken into custody hours after investigators served a search warrant in the criminal probe of the killing of Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Jeff German. Soon after German’s investigation was published, Telles failed in his re-election bid, losing the Democratic primary in June.
New Mexico – New Mexico Bars Commissioner from Office for Insurrection
MSN – Morgan Lee (Associated Press) | Published: 9/6/2022
A New Mexico judge ordered convicted Capitol rioter Couy Griffin to be removed from his county commissioner seat, ruling the Cowboys for Trump founder’s involvement in the January 6, 2021, insurrection disqualified him from holding public office. Judge Francis Matthew formally labeled the Capitol attack as an insurrection and found Griffin’s involvement fell under the so-called Disqualification Clause of the 14th Amendment, which bars anyone from holding office if they took an oath to uphold the Constitution and then “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” or gave “aid or comfort” to insurrectionists.
New York – Former Trump Adviser Steve Bannon Charged with Defrauding Border Wall Donors
Yahoo News – Aaron Katersky (ABC News) | Published: 9/8/2022
Steve Bannon, a onetime political adviser to former President Trump, was charged by authorities in New York with defrauding donors to the We Build the Wall fundraising campaign for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The indictment charges Bannon and We Build the Wall itself with two counts of money laundering. There are additional felony counts of conspiracy and scheme to defraud. The state charges resemble federal charges for which Bannon received a pardon from Trump and allege Bannon and We Build the Wall defrauded 430 Manhattan-based donors out of $33,600.
New York – How a Hochul Donor Received $637M in State Payments
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 9/8/2022
Last December, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s administration received an offer to buy 26 million at-home coronavirus tests from a distributor that happened to be a major campaign donor to the governor. The price offered by Digital Gadgets founder Charlie Tebele was $13 per test, far steeper than what other companies were proposing for similar rapid antigen tests. Hochul’s administration had just approved a deal with another firm to buy 5 million tests for just five dollars each. Still, the Hochul administration quickly agreed to pay $338 million to Digital Gadgets at the higher per-test price.
New York – Panel Rejects 3 of the 10 Nominees to New York’s New Ethics Body
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 9/2/2022
A panel tasked with reviewing nominations to New York’s new ethics and lobbying oversight panel rejected three out of ten nominations, while confirming seven others. One of those rejected was Gary Lavine, an outspoken former commissioner on the state’s prior ethics body. the Joint Commission on Public Ethics. Lavine’s rejection appears the most likely to set up a legal battle over a key aspect of the new law that established the Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government.
Ohio – Akron Organizers Turn to the Ballot Box for Civilian Oversight of Police
Ohio Capital Journal – Nick Evans | Published: 9/7/2022
A proposed ballot measure in Akron establishing civilian oversight for the police department comes on the heels of the police killing of Jayland Walker, a Black man shot nearly 50 times by Akron officers after fleeing a traffic stop. The amendment to the city charter would establish a new citizen review board with oversight of the city’s existing police auditor. The proposal also expands the auditor’s office and directs city council to spell out in statute what information the auditor can demand from the department. Organizers have turned in 7,000 petition signatures. That is more than two and a half times what they need.to get it on the November ballot.
Ohio – Redistricting: One year later, Ohio a unique, flawed case
Ohio Capital Journal – Susan Tebben | Published: 9/2/2022
One year after the saga of redistricting began, Ohio is seen as a unique case study in the legal strategies and flaws that can emerge in the process. A series of meetings of the Ohio Redistricting Commission were held, where the elected officials who constituted the commission interpreted and re-interpreted a constitutional amendment more than 70 percent of voters had approved to reform the redistricting. One year, five legislative map proposals and two congressional redraws later, the state will hold a general election in November with maps that have been ruled unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court.
Oklahoma – Why Most Oklahoma State Legislative Races Are Uncontested
Oklahoma Watch – Keaton Ross | Published: 9/6/2022
Nearly 70 person of Oklahoma’s state legislative elections will be decided without a single vote cast in November. In 2018, nearly 75 percent of House and Senate races included candidates from at least two parties. Oklahoma now ranks among the nation’s least competitive states for legislative races. Without competitive local races, voters are more likely to become disengaged or feel alienated, studies have found. The same can happen to lawmakers who are not making their case to voters. A Georgetown University study found state legislators who run unopposed are less effective and engaged with constituents.
Oregon – Tina Kotek Wins Over Potential Rival with Embrace of Campaign Finance Changes
OPB – Dirk VanderHart | Published: 9/7/2022
Oregon gubernatorial candidate Tina Kotek removed one potential obstacle in the race. In private discussions, Kotek committed to using her position to advocate for some specific campaign finance regulations if elected governor. With that commitment, and a newly added policy platform on her website, a notable competitor for left-leaning votes has now stepped down. Nathalie Paravicini, running for governor under the banners of the Oregon Progressive Party and Pacific Green Party, filed a form withdrawing her candidacy. Oregon is one of a handful of states that place no limit on how much campaigns can raise and spend.
Tennessee – Registry of Election Finance to Audit Humble for Potential Illegal Coordination with PAC-Like Group
Tennessee Lookout – Sam Stockard | Published: 9/7/2022
The Tennessee Registry of Election Finance is set to audit former state Senate candidate Gary Humble to determine whether his campaign illegally coordinated with his nonprofit organization Tennessee Stands. Registry board member Tom Lawless raised questions about Tennessee Stands, which has a 501(c)(4) federal tax status, and whether it is operating as a PAC without registering with the state. Humble is executive director of the organization, which is intertwined with his political activity.
Texas – Appeals Court Sides with Texas Ethics Commission Over Lobbying Fine Against GOP Activist Michael Quinn Sullivan
MSN – Taylor Goldenstein (Houston Chronicle) | Published: 9/1/2022
An appeals court upheld a Texas Ethics Commission fine levied against conservative activist Michael Quinn Sullivan. He registered as a lobbyist from 2001 to 2009 but did not in 2010 and 2011. The court found Sullivan, acting on behalf of Empower Texans in 2010 and 2011, had lobbied state lawmakers. The judges dismissed Sullivan’s arguments that the commission was unconstitutionally exercising both legislative and executive branch powers. They reversed the trial court’s judgment on the amount of the fine – $10,000 – saying Sullivan is owed a jury trial on that question.
Washington – Data Shows How Well Seattle’s Democracy Voucher Program Is Working
Seattle Times – Gene Balk | Published: 9/2/2022
Seattle’s novel “democracy voucher” program for funding local elections is attracting attention. “… It could revolutionize local elections,” said Brian McCabe of Georgetown University, the co-author of a new study on the program. The study found the democracy voucher program does appear to be living up to its name by helping to democratize political giving in Seattle by diversifying the donor pool to better reflect the city’s population. It also found the rate of participation in the program rose most significantly among Black, Hispanic, and young voters, groups that have historically been underrepresented in the campaign finance system.
Washington – Washington State Judge Rules Facebook Violated Campaign Finance Rules
MSN – Naomi Nix (Washington Post) | Published: 9/2/2022
A judge ruled Facebook owner Meta repeatedly and intentionally violated Washington’s campaign finance law and must pay penalties. King County Superior Court Judge Douglass North said Facebook, which last year renamed itself Meta, repeatedly broke the state’s law requiring technology platforms make information about political ads available for public inspection in a “timely manner.” North also denied Meta’s attempt to invalidate the state’s decades-old law. The ruling arrives as Meta faces scrutiny over how much information it discloses about the way candidates use marketing campaigns on its networks.
Wisconsin – Ginni Thomas Pressed Wisconsin Lawmakers to Overturn Biden’s 2020 Victory
MSN – Emma Brown (Washington Post) | Published: 9/1/2022
Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the conservative activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, pressed lawmakers to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 victory not only in Arizona, as previously reported, but also in a second battleground state, Wisconsin, according to emails. Ginni Thomas emailed 29 Arizona lawmakers in in November and December 2020. She urged them to set aside Biden’s popular-vote victory and “choose” their own presidential electors. The new emails show she also messaged two Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin: state Sen. Kathy Bernier, then chair of the Senate elections committee, and state Rep. Gary Tauchen.
September 7, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Washington: “Washington State Judge Rules Facebook Violated Campaign Finance Rules” by Naomi Nix (Washington Post) for MSN Elections Georgia: “Election Deniers Repeatedly Visited Ga. County Office at Center of Criminal Probe, Video Shows” by Emma Brown and Jon […]
Washington: “Washington State Judge Rules Facebook Violated Campaign Finance Rules” by Naomi Nix (Washington Post) for MSN
Georgia: “Election Deniers Repeatedly Visited Ga. County Office at Center of Criminal Probe, Video Shows” by Emma Brown and Jon Swaine (Washington Post) for Portland Press Herald
Oklahoma: “Why Most Oklahoma State Legislative Races Are Uncontested” by Keaton Ross for Oklahoma Watch
National: “‘Deeply Problematic’: Experts question judge’s intervention in Trump inquiry” by Charlie Savage (New York Times) for Yahoo News
National: “House Committee Reaches Deal to get Trump Financial Records” by Kevin Freking (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
New Mexico: “New Mexico Bars Commissioner from Office for Insurrection” by Morgan Lee (Associated Press) for MSN
Europe: “Tory Peer Broke Lobbying Rules, Whitehall Watchdog Finds” by Henry Dyer for The Guardian
Ohio: “Redistricting: One year later, Ohio a unique, flawed case” by Susan Tebben for Ohio Capital Journal
August 12, 2022 •
National/Federal Appeals Court Rules IRS Must Provide Trump’s Tax Returns to House Committee MSN – Harper Neidig (The Hill) | Published: 8/9/2022 The IRS must hand over former President Trump’s tax returns to a U.S. House committee, a federal appeals court […]
Appeals Court Rules IRS Must Provide Trump’s Tax Returns to House Committee
MSN – Harper Neidig (The Hill) | Published: 8/9/2022
The IRS must hand over former President Trump’s tax returns to a U.S. House committee, a federal appeals court ruled, dismissing a long-running legal challenge to block tax officials from complying with a request for the records from Democratic lawmakers. A three-judge panel for the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously with the Biden administration and the Ways and Means Committee, ruling against Trump’s arguments against the committee’s authority, his privacy concerns, and his claim that complying with the request would be unconstitutional.
DaVita Helped Craft New Bill to Fix ‘Loophole’ Left by Supreme Court Ruling, Documents Show
Yahoo News – Megan Wilson (Politico) | Published: 8/9/2022
Roughly two months after dialysis company DaVita lost a Supreme Court case involving insurance coverage for its services, Congress introduced bipartisan legislation that would be a boon for dialysis providers. Its language appears to be largely modeled from a proposal circulated by the company. The new bill would obligate health plans to cover dialysis the same way they do treatments for other chronic illnesses and, if enacted, would likely increase reimbursement amounts for companies like DaVita.
Facebook Bans Hate Speech but Still Makes Money from White Supremacists
MSN – Naomi Nix (Washington Post) | Published: 8/10/2022
Facebook has long banned content referencing white nationalism. But a plethora of hate groups still populate the site, and the company boosts its revenue by running ads on searches for these pages. The findings by the Tech Transparency Project illustrate the ease with which bigoted groups can evade Facebook’s detection systems, despite the company’s years-long ban against posts that attack people on the basis of their race, religion, sexual orientation, and other characteristics. Activists have charged that by allowing hate speech to proliferate across its networks, Facebook opens the door for extremist groups to organize deadly attacks.
FBI Arrests Former Puerto Rico Governor on Bribery Charges
MSN – Perry Stein (Washington Post) | Published: 8/4/2022
Federal law enforcement agents arrested former Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced, charging her in a bribery scheme that was allegedly aimed at financing her failed 2020 gubernatorial campaign. Officials said while Vázquez Garced was governor in 2019 and 2020, she allegedly took campaign donations from a banker, Julio Martin Herrera Velutini, and a former FBI agent, Mark Rossini, who was consulting for the bank. Herrera Velutini and Rossini allegedly paid more than $300,000 to consultants who supported Vázquez Garced’s campaign.
Former Health Minister Steve Brine Cleared of Lobbying Beach for Second Time in a Year Because No VAT Was Paid
Business Insider – Catherine Neilan | Published: 8/8/2022
A former United Kingdom health minister has been cleared of breaching lobbying rules for a second time in less than a year, because in both cases no value added tax was paid. Steve Brine, who served in Theresa May’s government until March 2019, messaged then-health secretary Matt Hancock about Remedium Partners. He was being paid £1,600 a month. Former ministers are banned from lobbying ministers for two years after their last day in office. The message was sent in March 2020, meaning his approach fell within the restricted period.
Get Ready for Many More Political Emails, as Federal Regulators OK Google’s Plan to Drop Spam Filters for Eligible Federal Candidates
MSN – Dave Levinthal (Business Insider) | Published: 8/11/2022
The FEC ruled Google could legally launch a pilot program for candidates that allows them to skirt email spam filters when raising money from, or otherwise communicating with, prospective voters and donors. Despite a torrent of public outrage preceding the vote, Google is now free to invite federal candidates to sign up for the email pilot program, which would amount to a free pass out of Gmail spam-box purgatory. The FEC had to decide whether Google giving some candidates a break from spam filters constituted an illegal in-kind political contribution.
Homeland Security Watchdog Previously Accused of Misleading Investigators, Report Says
MSN – Lisa Rein, Carol Leonnig, and Maria Sacchetti (Washington Post) | Published: 8/4/2022
The Homeland Security watchdog now under scrutiny for his handling of deleted Secret Service text messages from the attack on the Capitol previously was accused of misleading federal investigators and running “afoul” of ethics regulations while he was in charge of a Justice Department inspector general field office in Tucson. Separately, investigators found Joseph Cuffari broke ethics rules by referring law firms to the prisoner’s family, including firms where some of his close friends worked.
Maps in Four States Were Ruled Illegal Gerrymanders. They’re Being Used Anyway.
Eminetra.com – Michael Wines (New York Times) | Published: 8/8/2022
Judges in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Ohio have found Republican legislators illegally drew those states’ congressional maps along racial or partisan lines, or that a trial very likely would conclude they did. Judges in the past who have reached similar findings ordered new maps, or had an expert draw them, to ensure elections were fair. But a shift in election law philosophy at the Supreme Court, combined with a new aggressiveness among Republicans who drew the maps, has upended that model. This time, all four states are using the rejected maps, and questions about their legality for future elections will be hashed out in court later.
Mar-a-Lago Search Appears Focused on Whether Trump, Aides Withheld Items
MSN – Devlin Barrett, Josh Dawsey, Rosalind Helderman, Jacqueline Alemany, and Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 8/9/2022
In the months before the FBI’s dramatic move to execute a search warrant at former president Trump’s Florida home and open his safe to look for items, federal authorities grew increasingly concerned Trump or his lawyers and aides had not returned all the documents and other material that were government property, according to people familiar with the matter. Over months of discussions about whether documents were still missing, some officials also came to suspect Trump’s representatives were not truthful at times, sources said.
Simmering Threat of Violence Comes to Fore with Search of Trump Property
MSN – Hannah Allam (Washington Post) | Published: 8/9/2022
Within hours of the FBI search at Donald Trump’s Florida compound, Republican lawmakers, conservative talk-show hosts, anti-government provocateurs, and pro-Trump conspiracy theorists began issuing explicit or thinly veiled calls for violence. Extremist organizers have tried to hold on to the momentum they built in recent years by finding causes disparate factions could rally around. With each iteration, analysts say, the networks have grown more sophisticated and more violent. The search at Mar-a-Lago for classified documents is now presented as a tipping point, an existential threat to the country that true patriots must thwart.
The Newest Fad in Fundraising: Gold-level clubs for lobbyists
MSN – Haily Fuchs (Politico) | Published: 8/11/2022
An increasingly popular fad in campaign fundraising is access to small gatherings of politicians that lobbyists can purchase. Instead of brief face time with a lawmaker at a single event, lobbyists are offered the opportunity to develop almost a familial relationship with candidates over a series of them. Attendance at events often tops out at between 15 to 20 people, usually registered lobbyists. They were created to entice donations from individuals rather than corporate PACs. Lobbyists can, in turn, use their membership as a sell for potential new clients.
Voters Aren’t the Only Ones Feeling the Effects of Inflation
MSN – Kate Ackley (Roll Call) | Published: 8/5/2022
High inflation is not just a political messaging point to some candidates running for office. The cost of gasoline, travel, staff pay, printed materials, and food for events all affect the bottom lines of campaigns. Some say they are feeling the pinch of niner percent inflation and can relate to voters for whom rising prices is a top-of-mind matter in this year’s midterm elections. This period of high inflation will ripple into the next election cycle, too.
Who Is Scott Perry, Trump Ally and Lawmaker Whose Phone Was Seized by FBI?
MSN – Kim Bellware (Washington Post) | Published: 8/9/2022
U.S. Rep. Scott Perry’s cellphone was seized as part of the Justice Department’s criminal investigation into the use of fake electors to try to overturn President Biden’s victory. Perry is the first member of Congress known to have his phone seized as part of the probe into the attempt at the U.S. Capitol to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Perry did not say why investigators confiscated his phone and wrote in a statement that the contents of his phone are not the “government’s business.”
From the States and Municipalities
California – Anaheim City Council Votes to Investigate Itself Following FBI Corruption Probe
LAist – Jill Replogle | Published: 8/10/2022
The city of Anaheim will fund an independent audit of campaign contributions to former Mayor Harry Sidhu and current city council members following an FBI corruption probe that came to light in May. The council voted to hire the firm JL Group to carry out the investigation. Sidhu resigned after it became public the FBI is investigating him for alleged corruption in connection with the sale of Angel Stadium. The audit is intended to provide a measure of transparency after warrants revealed what the FBI called a “covert group” that wielded influence over city government.
California – DA Jenkins Pocketed Six Figures as Consultant for Nonprofit Linked to Boudin Recall Backers
San Francisco Standard – Michael Barba | Published: 8/8/2022
Brooke Jenkins did not just quit her job as a local prosecutor to volunteer for the recall against her former boss, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin. Newly filed records show she also collected more than $100,000 as a consultant for Neighbors for a Better San Francisco, a nonprofit that shares an address and virtually the same name as the organization behind Boudin’s recall but is legally a separate entity. Jenkins earned the salary in the six months before Mayor London Breed appointed her district attorney on July 8. During that period, Jenkins was volunteering as a spokesperson on the recall campaign.
California – Ethics Commission Blames City Union for Derailing Anti-Corruption Ballot Measure
San Francisco Standard – Mike Edge | Published: 8/10/2022
A ballot initiative that would have tightened up rules around gifts to public officials failed to make the ballot, and San Francisco ethics watchdogs are blaming a union representing city department heads. The Ethics Commission pointed the finger at the Municipal Executives Association in a recent letter, writing the union used the bargaining process to stall the proposed ballot measure past a key deadline. The measure sought to expand the definition of what would constitute a bribe, mandate disclosure of any relationships with city contractors, and add more comprehensive ethics training for city employees.
California – Force Multipliers: How one donor network is pushing the envelope on California campaign money
CalMatters – Ben Christopher, Alexei Koseff, and Jeremia Kimelman | Published: 8/4/2022
In the 2022 election cycle so far, the Govern For California network has donated more than $3 million to more than 110 candidates across California, the vast majority of the money going to those running for the state Senate and Assembly. Govern For California characterizes its 18 chapters as “force multipliers” that amplify the influence of its donors on state politics and government. The organization opposes what it regards as excessive sway of labor unions over state policy. Some experts questioned whether it is a way for its small cadre of wealthy donors to evade contribution caps designed to limit anyone from having outsized influence.
Colorado – In Crowded City Races, Denver’s New Fair Election Fund Will Face First Test
MSN – Joe Rubino (Denver Post) | Published: 8/9/2022
Overhauling Denver’s campaign finance rules was popular with voters in 2018. More than 70 percent of Denverites who cast ballots that year voted for Referred Measure 2E. The sweeping change ratcheted down contribution limits for candidates seeking every seat from mayor to the city auditor, banned direct corporate and union campaign donations, and established a fund to provide public financing for candidates who agreed to abide by even lower limits and other rules. Denver’s 2023 municipal election is inching closer and, finally, the city’s fair elections fund will come to bear on local races.
Connecticut – Larry McHugh to Replace Embattled CT Port Authority Official
MSN – Keith Phaneuf (Connecticut Mirror) | Published: 8/6/2022
House Speaker Matt Ritter selected a longtime business and education leader to replace one of the Connecticut Port Authority officials cited in a state ethics ruling. Lawrence McHugh will replace Donald Frost on the board of directors. Ritter said he was dismayed to learn that Frost was one of the officials at the quasi-public entity who had accepted illegal gifts from Seabury Maritime, a consultant hired to help find a developer for the state pier in New London.
Florida – DeSantis Suspends Elected Prosecutor Over New Abortion Law
Yahoo News – Anthony Izaguirre (Associated Press) | Published: 8/4/2022
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren pledging not to enforce the state’s new 15-week abortion ban and for supporting gender transition treatments for minors. Asked whether he is overriding the will of the voters by suspending their choice for prosecutor, DeSantis said Warren’s conduct has fallen “below the standard of the Florida Constitution” and that he has neglected his duty to state law.
Florida – Second Firm in Sunset Lounge Bid Disqualified for Improper Lobbying of West Palm Beach Mayor
MSN – Terri Parker (WPBF) | Published: 8/10/2022
There is a new twist in the continuing saga of who will operate the historic and newly renovated Sunset Lounge in West Palm Beach. The firm that was awarded the bid three weeks ago is now disqualified. The city’s procurement director said Mad Room Hospitality violated the terms of the Request for Proposal by contacting the mayor and a commissioner via email before the contract was executed. Vita Lounge LLC had also been disqualified for allegedly lobbying people on Facebook to support their selection and doing an interview on WPBF.
Hawaii – Campaign Spending Commission Investigates COVID Testing Company That Got Big City Contract
MSN – Rick Daysog (Hawaii News Now) | Published: 8/8/2022
The Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission is investigating one of the companies that was awarded a multi-million-dollar COVID testing contract by former Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s administration. The commission subpoenaed the bank records of two employees of Capture Diagnostics, which is part of a consortium awarded a $19.5 million emergency contract for the city’s testing program at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. The commission is looking at whether the company reimbursed the employees who gave a total of $10,000 to the Caldwell campaign.
Illinois – State Sen. Elgie Sims Approached in Federal Criminal Investigation into Alleged Influence Peddling by Body-Cam Company
Yahoo News – Jason Meisner and Ray Long (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 8/8/2022
Illinois Sen. Elgie Sims was approached in the spring by federal authorities investigating potential influence peddling involving a police body-camera manufacturer that hired the law firm where Sims works as a lobbyist. The ongoing probe involves Axon Enterprise, a law-enforcement technology company that hired law firm Foley & Lardner to lobby lawmakers in Springfield and Chicago. Sims is an “of-counsel” attorney at Foley, specializing in government affairs and public policy. Investigators are looking into whether Axon improperly tried to influence Sims in his official duties working on criminal justice legislation, which requires every police officer in the state to wear a body camera by 2025.
Indiana – Anti-Common Core Activist Failed to Register as Lobbyist for Rokita’s Office
Indiana Capital Chronicle – Leslie Bonilla Muñiz | Published: 8/9/2022
Erin Tuttle, a policy consultant and state contractor, mistakenly registered as a lobbyist for the city of Indianapolis rather than the state of Indiana. Tuttle and Chief Administrative Officer Larry Hopkins signed a two-year, $200,000 contract for research, analysis, and communications help for state Attorney General Todd Rokita’s office. Among Tuttle’s listed duties: “Contractor shall interact and communicate with legislators.” That set Tuttle up for a potential violation of Indiana law when she did not register with the Lobby Registration Commission.
Indiana – Two Ind. Officers Suspended After Arresting Man Thought to Be Anti-Police
MSN – Meryl Kornfield (Washington Post) | Published: 8/10/2022
Two Indiana officers were suspended after a courtroom revelation that police thought a potential town council candidate was anti-police and arrested him, stopping him from running for office. Franklin County Prosecutor Chris Huerkamp dropped charges that included drug possession against Trevin Thalheimer after an officer and witness recounted how Brookville police talked about Thalheimer. Huerkamp, who also did not pursue a rape charge police had investigated, said he was “disturbed beyond words” by the alleged police conduct and reported the incident to the Indiana State Police, which launched a criminal investigation.
Michigan – GOP Nominee for Michigan AG Named in Election Security Breach Probe
MSN – Rosalind Helderman, Emma Brown, and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) | Published: 8/7/2022
State police have been investigating efforts by supporters of former President Trump to convince Michigan clerks to give them access to voting software and tabulating machines, so they could examine them to prove fraud took place in 2020. Now, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is seeking the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the Republican nominee for her job, Matthew DePerno, after the investigation found evidence that he helped orchestrate an effort last year to gain unauthorized access to voting equipment.
Michigan – Super PAC Backing Tudor Dixon Hides Its Origins Despite Disclosing Donors
MSN – Simon Schuster (MLive.com) | Published: 8/10/2022
Michigan Families United hosted an appearance by Tudor Dixon, the Republican nominee for governor of Michigan, that became the basis for campaign ads in which it spent $2.5 million to air before the GOP primary. Michigan Families United spent more than Dixon’s campaign raised in total and more than 20 times what her campaign spent on advertising, but who is behind super PAC remains shrouded in secrecy.
Missouri – Missouri Prepping for New Rules on Campaign Donations by Businesses
St. Louis Post Dispatch – Kurt Erickson | Published: 8/4/2022
Missouri ethics regulators are preparing for a change in state law designed to allow some businesses to give directly to candidates. The law is aimed at stopping shell companies from pumping “dark money” into campaigns by requiring limited liability companies with a specific tax status to register with the state Ethics Commission. The commission released guidance on the new requirements and said it is developing a portal on its website for companies to register and for candidates to search whether a company has submitted the proper paperwork.
New Jersey – Disclosure Statements Provide Little Insight into Lawmakers’ Finances
New Jersey Monitor – Nikita Biryukov | Published: 8/8/2022
Members of more than 50 state boards, commissions, and committees in New Jersey, as well as high-ranking administration officials, must annually report their finances with greater levels of transparency than state lawmakers. Recent efforts to require lawmakers to disclose more about their finances have not gone anywhere. Experts in government and ethics say broader requirements would not only help the public know more about the sources of their state representatives’ income but would also boost public confidence in government.
New York – City Ethics Board Out of Business
Investigative Post – Geoff Kelly | Published: 8/8/2022
Last September, 140 people signed a formal complaint filed with the Buffalo Board of Ethics. The complaint alleged city workers, including police officers, were campaigning for Mayor Byron Brown on city time, using city resources. Almost a year later, there has been no response, not even an acknowledgement the complaint was received. The ethics board has not met in two-and-a-half years.
New York – Erie County Comptroller Seeks Answers on OTB Lobbying Expenses
Lockport Journal – Mark Scheer | Published: 8/9/2022
Erie County Comptroller Kevin Hardwick is asking more questions about the inner workings of Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. (OTB) and this time he wants to know why it is spending so much public money on Albany lobbyists. Hardwick said that following a review of the agency’s board meeting minutes dating back to 2014, his office found OTB has used 10 firms for lobbying and advocacy activities. The comptroller said the agency either paid or agreed to pay a total of $157,000 for such services in the first six months of 2022 alone. The letter about lobbying is the third one that Hardwick’s office has sent to OTB in less than two weeks.
New York – State Agency Made Key Reversal in Bid Process Won by Hochul Donor
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 8/5/2022
Medical Answering Services contended it could run New York’s medical transportation program for far less money than its rivals, a major factor when the company eventually won the competitive bidding. A competitor for the contract, Modivcare Solutions, says it learned a key, promised part of the process was not followed. Two months before the award was issued, Medical Answering Services’ founder, Russ Maxwell, hosted a campaign fundraiser for Gov. Kathy Hochul, one of many such events hosted by people with business before her administration.
New York – Trump Takes the Fifth
Yahoo News – Kelly Hooper (Politico) | Published: 8/10/2022
Former President Trump declined to answer questions during a deposition with the office of New York Attorney General Tish James, asserting his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Trump’s deposition came amid the office’s three-year-long investigation into whether the Trump Organization had misstated the value of assets on financial statements. The former president is also the subject of a parallel criminal investigation being conducted by the Manhattan district attorney’s office into whether he fraudulently inflated property values.
Ohio – Judge Scolds Ohio House Bill 6 Defendant for Posting Witness’s Social Security Card and Driver’s License Online
MSN – Andrew Tobias (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 8/5/2022
A federal judge admonished a former lobbyist accused in the Ohio House Bill 6 corruption matter for using his website to publish the personal information of a key witness in the case, including unredacted copies of his driver’s license and Social Security card. U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black said he found it “entirely incredible” that Matt Borges did not mean to post witness Tyler Fehrman’s information to his legal-defense website.
Ohio – Utility Regulator Accused of Taking a Bribe Helped Write Bill Targeting Watchdog
Ohio Capital Journal – Jake Zuckerman | Published: 8/5/2022
Ohio’s former top utility regulator, who was accused of taking a $4.3 million bribe, spent months helping write a sweeping energy bill that targeted a state watchdog agency that advocates for residential electric customers, records show. Emails from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio show its former chairperson, Sam Randazzo, conferred with the bill sponsor and helped draft legislative language. The bill would have limited the reach of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel and given often-hostile state legislators control of its board.
Pennsylvania – Posh Southwestern Pa. Party Spotlights How Lawmakers and Lobbyists Mingle Out of the Public Eye
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Mike Werechagin | Published: 8/7/2022
Pennsylvania is among a minority of states that places no limits on the value of gifts special interests can give legislators. Even members of Pennsylvania’s executive branch cannot accept gifts or meals under an executive order signed by Gov. Tom Wolf the day he took office. But the Legislature has blocked nearly every effort to limit the ability of special interests to shower lawmakers with dinners, drinks, and travel, or to give the public a clear picture of what their representatives and senators allow lobbyists to buy them.
Rhode Island – Inside the Political, Personal, and Legal Connections of the Tidewater Landing Soccer Stadium Deal
MSN – Brian Amaral (Boston Globe) | Published: 8/4/2022
When the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation’s board convened to consider appropriating $60 million for the Tidewater Landing soccer stadium project in Pawtucket, relationships between board members and outside interests sparked criticism. Law partners for the Commerce Corporation’s attorney are registered as lobbyists for the developer. A board member’s sister is trying to unseat the incumbent governor, who chairs the board. A Pawtucket city official who helped shepherd the deal through by working with the Commerce official who is now running for treasurer against the Pawtucket official’s fiancé.
Texas – Not a ‘Love Story’: Former Richardson mayor gets 6 years for accepting bribes, sex
MSN – Kevin Krause (Dallas Morning News) | Published: 8/4/2022
Laura Maczka, a first-time Richardson, Texas, mayor, accepted a string of favors, some sexual, from the wealthy developer, Mark Jordan, who became her lover and then her husband. She did what she could while on the city council to make sure he got the zoning he wanted for his planned apartments despite vehement resident opposition. Now the pair are headed to federal prison for their misdeeds in a public corruption case that spanned almost a decade and resulted in a city investigation and two salacious public trials.
Virginia – Virginia Official Lobbied for Gas Project His Agency Will Consider
Roanoke Times – Patrick Wilson (Richmond Times Dispatch) | Published: 8/5/2022
As one of eight gubernatorial appointees on the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, James Minor gets a vote on an anticipated permit request for a natural gas pipeline expansion near Petersburg. Public records show he has been lobbying elected officials to support the project; he and the company that wants to build it will not say if he was paid for the work. Public records show Minor emailed and called elected officials in Petersburg between February and May on behalf of a pipeline expansion project from TC Energy and its subsidiary, Columbia Gas Transmission.
Washington – Tim Eyman Forced to Sell House to Pay Campaign Finance Fines, Debts
Seattle Times – David Gutman | Published: 8/5/2022
Anti-tax initiative promoter Tim Eyman, who was found liable last year in Washington for “numerous and particularly egregious” violations of campaign finance law, has been forced to sell his house to help pay millions of dollars of fines and debt. The $900,000 in proceeds will go toward paying off the more than $5.6 million in sanctions and legal fees he owes the state and other creditors. A judge found Eyman enriched himself by laundering political donations, accepted kickbacks from a signature-gathering company, and secretly shuttled money between initiative campaigns and concealed the source of other political contributions.
August 11, 2022 •
Elections California: “DA Jenkins Pocketed Six Figures as Consultant for Nonprofit Linked to Boudin Recall Backers” by Michael Barba for San Francisco Standard Ethics National: “Facebook Bans Hate Speech but Still Makes Money from White Supremacists” by Naomi Nix (Washington […]
California: “DA Jenkins Pocketed Six Figures as Consultant for Nonprofit Linked to Boudin Recall Backers” by Michael Barba for San Francisco Standard
National: “Facebook Bans Hate Speech but Still Makes Money from White Supremacists” by Naomi Nix (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Who Is Scott Perry, Trump Ally and Lawmaker Whose Phone Was Seized by FBI?” by Kim Bellware (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “Ethics Commission Blames City Union for Derailing Anti-Corruption Ballot Measure” by Mike Edge for San Francisco Standard
Indiana: “Two Ind. Officers Suspended After Arresting Man Thought to Be Anti-Police” by Meryl Kornfield (Washington Post) for MSN
New York: “Trump Takes the Fifth” by Kelly Hooper (Politico) for Yahoo News
National: “DaVita Helped Craft New Bill to Fix ‘Loophole’ Left by Supreme Court Ruling, Documents Show” by Megan Wilson (Politico) for Yahoo News
New York: “Erie County Comptroller Seeks Answers on OTB Lobbying Expenses” by Mark Scheer for Lockport Journal
National: “Maps in Four States Were Ruled Illegal Gerrymanders. They’re Being Used Anyway.” by Michael Wines (New York Times) for Eminetra.com
July 29, 2022 •
National/Federal A Record Number of Trans and Nonbinary People Are Running for Office MSN – Anne Branigan (Washington Post) | Published: 7/27/2022 In 2017, former journalist Danica Roem made history when she was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, making […]
A Record Number of Trans and Nonbinary People Are Running for Office
MSN – Anne Branigan (Washington Post) | Published: 7/27/2022
In 2017, former journalist Danica Roem made history when she was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, making her the first out transgender state legislator in the U.S. Five years later, a record number of trans and nonbinary candidates are vying for public office. As of July, the Victory Fund reports there are 55 trans candidates running for office, alongside 20 gender nonconforming candidates, 18 nonbinary candidates, and four Two-Spirit candidates. Across the country’s statehouses, an unprecedented amount of anti-LGBTQ measures have been introduced, with most bills aimed at curbing the rights of trans children and their families.
After Commissioners’ Verbal Brawl, FEC Won’t Let Rep. Eric Swalwell’s Use Campaign Cash to Fund Overnight Childcare When Traveling Abroad
Yahoo News – Madison Hall (Business Insider) | Published: 7/26/2022
U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell cannot use campaign funds to pay for childcare services when traveling “at the request of foreign governments” or do so when campaigning on behalf of other candidates, the FEC ruled. The decision comes after Republican Commissioner Trey Trainor at a public meeting, calling his request “abhorrent.” The rebuke prompted Democratic Commissioner Ellen Weintraub to lambaste Trainor in a series of tweets that referenced “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
Bannon Verdict: Former Trump strategist guilty of contempt of Congress
MSN – Devlin Barrett, Spencer Hsu, and Katie Mettler (Washington Post) | Published: 7/22/2022
Stephen Bannon, the right-wing podcaster and longtime confidante of former President Trump, was convicted of contempt of Congress for his refusal to provide documents or testimony to a House committee probing the January 6, 2021, attack. The trial tested a rarely used criminal statute meant to ensure that people comply with congressional subpoenas. The contempt case involved legislative efforts to investigate the violence and what led up to it, rather than the actual events of the day.
DHS Inspector General Tells Secret Service to Stop Investigating Potentially Missing Texts Due to ‘Ongoing Criminal Investigation’
MSN – Whitney Wild (CNN) | Published: 7/21/2022
The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general informed the Secret Service it is investigating what happened to January 6-related text messages that may have been deleted, describing it as an “ongoing criminal investigation” and directing the agency to stop its internal investigations into the matter. The letter adds to the growing tension between the Secret Service and the inspector general over the potentially missing text messages, which are being sought by the House select committee as part of its investigation into former President Trump’s actions on January 6, 2021.
Emails Shed Light on Trump Plan to Employ Fake Electors
Las Vegas Sun – Maggie Haberman and Luke Broadwater (New York Times) | Published: 7/26/2022
Previously undisclosed emails provide an inside look at the increasingly desperate and often slapdash efforts by advisers to former President Trump to reverse his election defeat in the weeks before the January 6 attack, including acknowledgments that a key element of their plan was of dubious legality and lived up to its billing as “fake.” The emails among people connected to the Trump campaign, outside advisers, and close associates of Trump show a particular focus on assembling lists of people who would claim, with no basis, to be Electoral College electors on his behalf in battleground states he had lost.
Hulu Reverses Policy, Will Use Cable Standards for Political Ads
MSN – John Wagner and Michael Scherer (Washington Post) | Published: 7/27/2022
The streaming service Hulu said it will start accepting political ads with the same standards the company uses for its cable networks, opening the door for issue advertising on controversial topics after Democratic groups attacked the company for rejecting ads on abortion and guns. The Washington Post had reported Hulu has a policy against running content deemed controversial. Like other digital providers, it is not bound by the Communications Act of 1934, a law that requires broadcast television networks to provide politicians equal access to the airwaves.
Justice Dept. Investigating Trump’s Actions in Jan. 6 Criminal Probe
MSN – Carol Leonnig, Devlin Barrett, Josh Dawsey, and Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 7/26/2022
The U.S. Justice Department is investigating former President Trump’s actions as part of its criminal probe of efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, according to sources. Prosecutors have asked hours of detailed questions about meetings Trump led in December 2020 and January 2021; his pressure campaign on former Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the election; and what instructions Trump gave his lawyers and advisers about fake electors and sending electors back to the states. Investigators have received phone records of key officials and aides in the Trump administration, including his former chief of staff, Mark Meadows.
On the Campaign Trail, Many Republicans Talk of Violence
MSN – David Weigel (Washington Post) | Published: 7/23/2022
Many GOP candidates describe the United States as a country that was not merely in trouble but being destroyed by leaders who despise most Americans, effectively part of a civil war. In both swing states and safe seats, Republicans say liberals hate them personally and may turn rioters or a police state on people who disobey them. That argument has been dramatized in ads that show one armed candidate appearing to charge into the home of a political enemy, and another warning of “the mob” that threatens ordinary Americans. In some cases, candidates are brandishing firearms while threatening harm to liberals or other enemies.
Republican Governors Gave Lucrative, No-Bid COVID-19 Deals to Utah Firms, Who Then Gave $1M to GOP Campaigns
Yahoo News – Craig Harris, Bailey Schulz, and Katie Wedell (USA Today) | Published: 7/27/2022
A small number of companies leveraged their connections to sign deals to provide COVID-19 tests and personal protective equipment that would pay them at least $219 million in five GOP-led states. Two of the companies would donate more than $1 million to Republican campaigns after getting those deals. The contracts and political donations have raised questions from critics and observers about favoritism and “pay-to-play” campaign contributions.
Stephen Buyer, Former GOP Congressman, Accused of Insider Trading
MSN – Hamza Shaban (Washington Post) | Published: 7/25/2022
The Securities and Exchange Commission charged former U.S. Rep. Stephen Buyer with insider trading, accusing him of abusing his role as a corporate consultant to exploit nonpublic information and collect more than $300,000 in illegal profits. The allegations stem from trading activity that occurred after Buyer left Congress and established his own consulting and lobbying firm. In 2018, Buyer learned of T-Mobile’s plans to acquire Sprint after a golf outing with a client, a T-Mobile executive, according to the SEC. Buyer purchased more than $500,000 of Sprint shares, which were then sold shortly after news of the deal went public, regulators said.
Trump ‘Chose Not to Act’ as Mob Terrorized the Capitol, Panel Shows
MSN – Amy Gardner and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 7/21/2022
Eleven minutes after he returned to the White House from his speech on the Ellipse urging supporters to march on the U.S. Capitol, President Trump learned the January 6, 2021, protest had turned violent. But instead of harnessing the power of the Oval Office by ordering military or police intervention or exhorting the rioters to go home, Trump continued to fan the flames of discord, and remained focused on trying to overturn the 2020 election, even as his aides implored him to stop the violence.
From the States and Municipalities
Arkansas – Arkansas Hires Connecticut Company to Build Campaign Finance Filing, Reporting System
Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette – Michael Wickline | Published: 7/23/2022
The Arkansas secretary of state’s office selected Reframe Solutions as the vendor to build a new campaign finance filing and reporting system. Since the current system’s rollout in 2017, Arkansas’ computerized system for tracking campaign contributions and expenditures has generated gripes from candidates, elected officials, and the public. The complaints have included that it is antiquated, clunky, inaccurate, tedious, and not user-friendly.
California – California to Allow Cryptocurrency Campaign Donations
MSN – Associated Press | Published: 7/21/2022
The California Fair Political Practices Commission approved new rules allowing campaign donations of digital currencies such as bitcoin. The guidelines say candidates can accept cryptocurrency donations if they immediately convert the digital currency into U.S. dollars. The rules will take effect within 60 days.
California – Former Recology Employee Indicted for Alleged San Francisco Bribery, Following Prior Charges
Waste Dive – Cole Rosengern | Published: 7/25/2022
John Porter, who was charged with bribery last year in connection with a broader corruption scandal in San Francisco, was indicted on related federal charges recently. The indictment includes updated details on Porter’s alleged role bribing then-Department of Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru for favorable treatment in areas such as contracts and rate increases for waste management company Recology. The alleged bribes, which occurred in multiple forms, were valued at more than $1 million.
Colorado – Denver Clerk and Recorder Launches Phase Two of SearchLight Denver
City and County of Denver – Staff | Published: 7/22/2022
Clerk and Recorder Paul López has launched the second phase of SearchLight Denver, a searchable campaign finance and disclosure database. The database will now provide Denver residents with access to lobbying organizations, individual lobbyists, and their efforts around city matters. SearchLight Denver is the product of a partnership with MapLight, a technology nonprofit specializing in campaign finance tools and lobbying for state and municipal governments.
Florida – Powerbrokers: How FPL secretly took over a Florida news site and used it to bash critics
MSN – Sarah Blaskey (Miami Herald) | Published: 7/25/2022
While portraying itself as an independent outlet, the news website Capitolist, which aims its content directly at Tallahassee’s decision makers, was bankrolled and controlled by executives of Florida Power & Light through a small group of intermediaries. Internal communications, contracts, and financial records show how a team of communications experts used the Capitolist as part of a clandestine political strategy to advocate for rate hikes, lobby for legislative favors, slam political opponents, and eliminate anything the utility worried might undermine its near monopoly on selling power in Florida.
Florida – Proposed Ethics Settlement for Ex-Sen. Jack Latvala Tossed; Case Continues
Tampa Bay Times – Jim Saunders (News Service of Florida) | Published: 7/22/2022
The Florida Commission on Ethics scrapped a proposed settlement and decided to move forward with a case against former state Sen. Jack Latvala related to allegations of sexual misconduct. Latvala had agreed to a settlement that would have admitted “poor judgment” in having a two-decade sexual relationship with a lobbyist. The proposed, which could have spurred a public censure and reprimand, would have led to dropping other allegations related to a former Senate staff member.
Georgia – Judge Won’t Quash Subpoenas for Georgia False Electors
Georgia Public Broadcasting – Associated Press | Published: 7/21/2022
Georgia Republicans who signed a certificate falsely stating Donald Trump had won the state in 2020 and they were the state’s “duly elected and qualified” electors will have to appear before a special grand jury investigating whether the former president and others illegally tried to interfere in the state’s election, a judge said. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney suggested lawyers for the district attorney’s office and attorneys for those who signed the false certificate should meet before each witness testifies to talk about the topics to be covered and then he could settle any disputes.
Georgia – On the Docket: Atlanta v. Trumpworld
Yahoo News – Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim (New York Times) | Published: 7/25/2022
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has been leading the investigation into efforts by former President Trump and his allies to overturn his election loss in Georgia. It is only recently, with a flurry of subpoenas and target letters, as well as court documents that illuminate some of the closed proceedings of a special grand jury, that the inquiry’s sprawling contours have emerged. For legal experts, that sprawl is a sign Willis is doing what she has indicated all along: building the framework for a broad case that could target multiple defendants with charges of conspiracy to commit election fraud, or racketeering-related charges for engaging in a coordinated scheme to undermine the election.
Illinois – Businessman Gets Probation for Paying Bribes to Former State Sen. Martin Sandoval and McCook Mayor
Yahoo News – Jason Meisner (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 7/26/2022
A federal judge sentenced Vahooman Mirkhaef to probation for paying bribes to then-Illinois Sen. Martin Sandoval and former McCook Mayor Jeffrey Tobolski, saying although she loathes public corruption it was the politicians that should shoulder most of the blame. U.S. District Court Judge Mary Rowland had harsh words for Sandoval, who showed up personally at Mirkhaef’s office in 2018 demanding payment for his help securing the purchase of state-owned property in McCook. “The gall of the state senator in this case really surprises me,” Rowland said. “It saddens me. It kind of makes me sick, actually.”
Maine – Group Using Fake Name to Survey Mainers on Culture War Issues
Yahoo News – Randy Billings (Portland Press Herald) | Published: 7/19/2022
A national conservative group used an assumed name to conduct a political survey that asked Mainers charged questions about welfare for illegal immigrants, critical race theory, and gender issues. The name chosen for the survey – “Maine Today & Public Insight” – led some to believe it was being conducted by MaineToday Media, which owns three newspapers in the state. The Principles Project is behind the survey. Jonathan Wayne, executive director of Maine’s ethics commission, said it can be difficult to discern whether a legitimate poll is testing a message that may be used in an upcoming campaign or an illegal push poll.
Maryland – Maryland Del. Rick Impallaria Charged with Theft, Misconduct in Office
MSN – Alison Knezevich and Dan Belson (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 7/27/2022
Maryland Del. Rick Impallaria – whose criminal background has led to past calls to step down – was charged with theft, embezzlement, and misconduct in office after prosecutors allege that he misused state funds to pay for a “district office” outside his district, and to cover campaign fundraising expenses. Impallaria ran for reelection in the recent primary election and lost to Del. Lauren Arikan in a redrawn district.
Michigan – Black Districts Gutted as Suburban Flight Reshapes Congress Maps
MSN – Greg Korte (Bloomberg) | Published: 7/20/2022
There are 22 majority-Black districts in the current Congress. Next year, there will be as few as nine. The lost seats are a casualty of highly politicized redistricting wars, with state-by-state showdowns bringing dramatic change to electoral maps that were already being reshaped by demographic forces that include a decades-long Black migration to suburbs. That has left some Black voters worried the new maps will marginalize their voices. The concern is especially apparent in Michigan.
Michigan – GOP’s Meijer Voted to Impeach Trump. Now Democrats Are Targeting Him.
MSN – David Weigel, Colby Itkowitz, and Arjun Singh (Washington Post) | Published: 7/26/2022
Eighteen months ago, U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer joined just nine other House Republicans and voted to impeach Donald Trump. He recently learned the Democrats he stood with then were spending nearly $500,000 to help his Trump-backed challenger defeat him. Desperate to retain control of Congress in November, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has become the latest party entity this election year to aid a Trump-endorsed Republican in a primary against a candidate who has resisted the former president.
Missouri – Former St. Louis Alderman Says He’s Reached a Plea Deal on Corruption Charges
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Jacob Barker | Published: 7/22/2022
Former St. Louis Alderman John Collins-Muhammad intends to plead guilty after a federal grand jury indicted him in a bribery case. Collins-Muhammad and two other former members of the board of aldermen were all accused of accepting cash bribes from a local businessperson in exchange for helping to shepherd through legislation granting his businesses tax abatements. Boyd also intervened to help him purchase real estate from the St. Louis Land Reutilization Authority.
Missouri – St. Louis County Council Member Worked for Marijuana Industry as County Worked on Pot Laws
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Joe Holleman | Published: 7/25/2022
While St. Louis County began creating laws in 2019 for regulating medical marijuana operations, county Councilperson Lisa Clancy worked behind the scenes for a law firm representing clients seeking marijuana licenses. Without disclosing to the council or the public that she was paid about $5,000 for that work, Clancy eventually cast votes on the bill the county adopted as its zoning ordinance for marijuana operations.
Montana – Commissioner Finds Bozeman Law Firm Failed to Register as Political Committee
Helena Independent Record – Tom Kuglin | Published: 7/18/2022
Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Jeff Mangan ruled a Bozeman law firm and political committee that backed a failed ballot measure violated multiple campaign finance laws. Mangan said Cottonwood Environmental Law Center did not file declaratory paperwork or campaign finance reports with his office in the required timeframe. Mangan referred the parties to the Lewis and Clark County attorney’s office for potential prosecution, but noted the likely outcome is a negotiated civil fine.
Montana – Montana Conservation Voters Action Fund Fined $6,400 for Campaign Finance Violations
Longview News-Journal – Thom Bridge (Helena Independent Record) | Published: 7/26/2022
A registered political committee in Montana was fined $6,400 for failing to timely report expenditures supporting municipal election candidates in Helena, Missoula, and Billings last year. The Montana Conservation Voters Action Fund (MCVAF) acknowledged the political practices commissioner’s findings and admitted to violating certain campaign finance laws. MCVAF Political Director Jake Brown said the group’s vendor failed to submit the required reports related to its work in Helena.
New Mexico – Groups Call on Senate Democrats to Remove Ivey-Soto from Interim Committees
Santa Fe New Mexican – Robert Knott | Published: 7/27/2022
Months after a lobbyist publicly accused New Mexico Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto of groping her in an encounter years earlier, prompting a series of similar allegations, groups pushing for the senator’s ouster have not eased their pressure. Leaders of about 25 advocacy organizations in the state who previously sought a Senate investigation into Ivey-Soto are now calling for his removal from all interim committee assignments. In an open letter, they said Ivey-Soto is in position to influence the outcome of bills brought by lobbyists who have accused him of inappropriate behavior.
New Mexico – Is the State Ethics Commission More Bark Than Bite?
Yahoo News – Daniel Chacón and Robert Nott (Santa Fe New Mexican) | Published: 7/23/2022
The New Mexico Ethics Commission has investigated 106 administrative cases alleging violations of various statutes since January 2020. It also has issued 26 advisory opinions, forced a “dark money” group that spent more than $260,000 to influence a ballot question to reveal its donors, provided staff support to the Citizen Redistricting Committee, and conducted trainings statewide, among other accomplishments. But after a high-profile complaint filed against state Rep. Rebecca Dow resulted in a $500 civil penalty for two violations of the Governmental Conduct Act, some wonder if the agency more bark than bite.
New York – District Attorney Behind Charges in Zeldin Incident Scrutinized for Campaign Ties
Albany Times Union – Joshua Solomon | Published: 7/25/2022
U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin said that just minutes after he was accosted by a veteran with a sharp object at a recent campaign event, the gubernatorial candidate conferred offstage with Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley. The district attorney now finds herself facing criticism on two fronts: an ethics debate about her connections to Zeldin’s campaign as well as a legal debate over her office’s handling of David Jakubonis, who was carrying a sharp key-ring-style defense tool when he approached Zeldin at the event near Rochester.
New York – Former Erie County Democratic Party Chair Gets 4 Months in Prison Term for Political Corruption
WGRZ – Ron Plants | Published: 7/27/2022
A former political consultant, once viewed by many as among the most powerful in state politics was sentenced to four months in prison for making an illegal campaign contribution. Steve Pigeon admitted that in 2014 he tried to give a $25,000 illegal campaign contribution from a Canadian citizen to former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
New York – NYC City Hall Adviser Ingrid Lewis-Martin Has Yet to Be Repaid for Loan Given to Staffer in Potential Ethical Dilemma
MSN – Chris Sommerfeldt (New York Daily News) | Published: 7/26/2022
A City Hall staffer borrowed money from Ingrid Lewis-Martin, Mayor Eric Adams’ chief adviser, prior to her appointment and has yet to pay it back, according to a financial disclosure form that could raise ethical concerns for the top mayoral aide. The annual disclosure filed with the Conflicts of Interest Board, shows City Hall special assistant Dawn Baskerville owes Lewis-Martin between $1,000 and $5,000 for a “personal loan” issued in 2014. But Lewis-Martin did not mention in the disclosure that her relation to Baskerville extends beyond friendship.
New York – Secrecy at Issue for New Ethics Panel
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 7/26/2022
The 11 nominees to New York’s new state ethics panel are being asked about their relations with the press as part of a lengthy confirmation process. For the new panel, the vetting questionnaire focuses attention on the issue of “confidentiality,” and how commissioners will go about ensuring it. The most detailed of its seven questions asks commissioners what protocols the body should pass to ensure their deliberations remain secret, and whether they would commit to voting other members off the body who ran afoul of rules they formulate.
New York – Suffolk County Repeals Campaign Finance with Veto Override
WSHU – Charles Lane | Published: 7/26/2022
The Suffolk County Legislature once again repealed its public campaign finance program. Two-thirds of lawmakers overturned a veto by County Executive Steve Bellone that would have restored the program. The Republican-led Legislature would rather use the program’s $2.6 million on public safety, like hiring more emergency dispatch operators and Shotspotter gun-fire detection technology.
North Carolina – Judge Blocks Enforcement of N.C. Law That Demands Truth in Campaign Ads
MSN – Associated Press | Published: 7/25/2022
A federal judge agreed to block for now any enforcement of a state law in a political ad investigation of North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein’s campaign, saying it is likely to win on legal claims that the law is unconstitutional. U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Eagles ruled for Stein’s campaign and other plaintiffs who filed an unusual lawsuit against State Board of Elections members and Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman. The law prohibits anyone from knowingly publishing or circulating false information about a candidate with the intent of hurting that candidate’s chances in the election.
Oregon – Mystery Group Sending Anti-Democrat Mailers, Prepping Web Ads
Oregon Capital Chronicle – Julia Shumway | Published: 7/25/2022
Some Oregon voters are receiving glossy mailers blaming Gov. Kate Brown and the “Democrat-controlled state Legislature” for “soaring gas prices” and the “out-of-control cost of living.” A website with two short videos claiming policies passed by legislative Democrats led to increases in crime and inflation went live around the same time. The mailers, website, and ads were all paid for by the Coalition for Safe, Healthy and Prosperous Communities but that coalition does not exist in state campaign finance or business records.
South Carolina – South Carolina Bill Outlaws Websites That Tell How to Get an Abortion
MSN – Cat Zakrzewski (Washington Post) | Published: 7/22/2022
After the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, legislation introduced in South Carolina bill would outlaw providing information over the internet or phone about how to obtain an abortion. It would also make it illegal to host a website or “[provide] an internet service” with information that is “reasonably likely to be used for an abortion” and directed at pregnant people in the state. Legal scholars say the proposal is likely a harbinger of other state measures, which may restrict communication and speech as they seek to curtail abortion.
Texas – Texas Housing Agency Resists Reforms as Conflict of Interest Questions Pile Up
MSN – Sue Ambrose (Dallas Morning News) | Published: 7/25/2022
Three months after a Dallas Morning News investigation found a Texas housing board member voted for deals that benefited his law firm, the agency has not taken new steps to guard against conflicts-of-interest. Paul Braden stepped down from the board in April, two days after The News first asked him about his votes on 13 low-income housing projects. His employer, Norton Rose Fulbright, earned $2 million in legal fees on the deals. New records show Braden voted for eight other projects that brought the firm an additional $1.8 million.
Texas – Texas Lawmakers Ordered to Turn Over Redistricting Records
Courthouse News Service – Stephen Paulsen | Published: 7/26/2022
A federal judge issued a wide-ranging discovery order requiring Texas lawmakers to turn over documents related to the state’s congressional redistricting plans. The underlying lawsuit is part of a broad effort to correct what critics say is voter intimidation and discrimination in Texas heading into the 2022 midterm elections. In a separate case, a variety of civil rights groups are also suing the state over a new election security law, which they say is designed to “intimidate and harass voters.” A different federal judge in May allowed that case to proceed.
Wisconsin – After Wis. Supreme Court Absentee Ballot Decision, Disabled People Sue
MSN – Patrick Marley (Washington Post) | Published: 7/25/2022
Four disabled people are asking a federal judge to ensure they can vote this fall after the Wisconsin Supreme Court limited how absentee ballots can be cast. The state’s high court ruled voters could not give their completed absentee ballots to someone else to turn in for them. That policy will make it impossible or extremely difficult for some voters to cast ballots, according to the lawsuit. Plaintiffs are asking the court to allow disabled voters to give their ballots to others to return for them, arguing the new regimen in Wisconsin violates the U.S. Constitution, the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act, and the Americans With Disabilities Act.
July 28, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “Republican Governors Gave Lucrative, No-Bid COVID-19 Deals to Utah Firms, Who Then Gave $1M to GOP Campaigns” by Craig Harris, Bailey Schulz, and Katie Wedell (USA Today) for MSN National: “After Commissioners’ Verbal Brawl, FEC Won’t Let […]
National: “Republican Governors Gave Lucrative, No-Bid COVID-19 Deals to Utah Firms, Who Then Gave $1M to GOP Campaigns” by Craig Harris, Bailey Schulz, and Katie Wedell (USA Today) for MSN
National: “After Commissioners’ Verbal Brawl, FEC Won’t Let Rep. Eric Swalwell’s Use Campaign Cash to Fund Overnight Childcare When Traveling Abroad” by Madison Hall (Business Insider) for Yahoo News
Montana: “Montana Conservation Voters Action Fund Fined $6,400 for Campaign Finance Violations” by Thom Bridge (Helena Independent Record) for Longview News-Journal
New York: “Suffolk County Repeals Campaign Finance with Veto Override” by Charles Lane for WSHU
National: “Hulu Reverses Policy, Will Use Cable Standards for Political Ads” by John Wagner and Michael Scherer (Washington Post) for MSN
Florida: “Powerbrokers: How FPL secretly took over a Florida news site and used it to bash critics” by Sarah Blaskey for Miami Herald
Illinois: “Businessman Gets Probation for Paying Bribes to Former State Sen. Martin Sandoval and McCook Mayor” by Jason Meisner (Chicago Tribune) for Yahoo News
New York: “Secrecy at Issue for New Ethics Panel” by Chris Bragg for Albany Times Union
Texas: “Texas Lawmakers Ordered to Turn Over Redistricting Records” by Stephen Paulsen for Courthouse News Service
July 27, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Oregon: “Mystery Group Sending Anti-Democrat Mailers, Prepping Web Ads” by Julia Shumway for Oregon Capital Chronicle Elections National: “Dems Fume at Disney’s Hulu for Blocking Ads on Abortion, Guns” by Michael Scherer (Washington Post) for MSN North Carolina: […]
Oregon: “Mystery Group Sending Anti-Democrat Mailers, Prepping Web Ads” by Julia Shumway for Oregon Capital Chronicle
National: “Dems Fume at Disney’s Hulu for Blocking Ads on Abortion, Guns” by Michael Scherer (Washington Post) for MSN
North Carolina: “Judge Blocks Enforcement of N.C. Law That Demands Truth in Campaign Ads” by Associated Press for MSN
Wisconsin: “After Wis. Supreme Court Absentee Ballot Decision, Disabled People Sue” by Patrick Marley (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Justice Dept. Investigating Trump’s Actions in Jan. 6 Criminal Probe” by Carol Leonnig, Devlin Barrett, Josh Dawsey, and Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Stephen Buyer, Former GOP Congressman, Accused of Insider Trading” by Hamza Shaban (Washington Post) for MSN
Missouri: “St. Louis County Council Member Worked for Marijuana Industry as County Worked on Pot Laws” by Joe Holleman for St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Michigan: “Black Districts Gutted as Suburban Flight Reshapes Congress Maps” by Greg Korte (Bloomberg) for MSN
July 22, 2022 •
National/Federal Bipartisan Group Seeks to Limit Who Federal Agencies Can Contract With Government Executive – Eric Katz | Published: 7/14/2022 A bipartisan group of senators is looking to set new limitations on the entities with which federal agencies can contract, introducing […]
Bipartisan Group Seeks to Limit Who Federal Agencies Can Contract With
Government Executive – Eric Katz | Published: 7/14/2022
A bipartisan group of senators is looking to set new limitations on the entities with which federal agencies can contract, introducing legislation to ban the government from doing business with companies that work with certain other nations. Senate Bill 4516 would require the Office of Federal Procurement Policy to create a governmentwide policy to eliminate newly defined “conflicts-of-interest” that relate to national security in federal contracting.
Little-Known Lawyer Pitched Trump on Extreme Plans to Subvert Election
Yahoo News – Maggie Haberman and Luke Broadwater (New York Times) | Published: 7/17/2022
On Christmas Day in 2020, then-President Trump was on the phone with a little-known conservative lawyer who was encouraging his attempts to overturn the election. William Olson later conceded that part of his plan could be regarded as tantamount to declaring “martial law.” The episode highlights the role of Olson in advising Trump as the president was turning to extreme figures outside the White House to pursue options that many of his official advisers had told him were impossible or unlawful. It underscores how the system that would normally insulate a president from rogue actors operating outside of official channels had broken down.
Lobbying Firms Report Massive Profits Amid Reconciliation, China Bill Fights
Yahoo News – Karl Evers-Hillstrom (The Hill) | Published: 7/20/2022
K Street’s top lobbying firms raked in enormous revenues in the second quarter, indicating the prolonged lobbying boom is not letting up just yet. Most of the top Washington lobbying firms continue to build on last year’s record-smashing revenues, and nearly all of them are earning more than they did in 2020, when COVID-19 introduced a flood of first-time lobbying clients seeking federal funds.
New Evidence Disputes Trump Administration’s Citizenship Question Rationale
MSN – Tara Bahrampour (Washington Post) | Published: 7/20/2022
Previously unreleased internal communications indicate the Trump administration tried to add a citizenship question to the census with the goal of affecting congressional apportionment, according to a report by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. The documents appear to contradict statements made under oath by Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, who told the committee the push for a citizenship question was unrelated to apportionment and the reason for adding it was to help enforce the Voting Rights Act.
Pair Charged with Making Straw Donations to Trump Committees
MSN – Jennifer Pelz (Associated Press) | Published: 7/18/2022
Two Chinese American businesspeople were charged with funneling foreigners’ money into political donations that bought entry to an exclusive dinner with then-President Trump so the duo could impress and swindle Chinese investors. Prosecutors say Sherry Xue Li and Lianbo Wang raised $27 million for a grandiose development plan that never got close to approval, then siphoned off millions of dollars for personal expenses. To project the sway to keep their promises, which often included visas to live in the U.S., they used investor money and foreign nationals’ cash to make donations and be seen with Trump and other prominent politicians.
Prosecutors Won’t Pursue Case Against Colbert Team at Capitol Complex
Yahoo News – Michael Balsamo (Associated Press) | Published: 7/19/2022
Federal prosecutors said they are not pursuing charges against members of a television production crew for “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” who were arrested in a House office building closed to visitors. Capitol Police had charged the Colbert team members, who had entered the Longworth House Office Building on two separate occasions, with misdemeanor unlawful entry. Those arrested included the man who voices the Triumph the Insult Comic Dog puppet, who had come to interview members of Congress about the attack on the Capitol.
Secret Service Watchdog Knew in February That Texts Had Been Purged
MSN – Carol Leonnig and Maria Sacchetti (Washington Post) | Published: 7/20/2022
A watchdog agency learned in February that the Secret Service had purged nearly all cellphone texts from around the time of the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, but chose not to alert Congress, according to people briefed on the matter. The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General also prepared in October 2021 to issue a public alert that the Secret Service and other department divisions were stonewalling it on requests for records and texts surrounding the attack on the Capitol, but did not do so, the sources said.
Staff in Several House Offices Begin the Process of Unionizing
MSN – Chris Cioffi (Roll Call) | Published: 7/20/2022
Staffers who work for eight U.S. House Democrats are wasting no time in their plans to unionize, filing petitions recently to kick off the process. It was the first day they could do so, as new rules went into effect allowing many legislative branch staffers to bargain collectively. Now they must wait on the Office of Congressional Workplace Rights to vet the petitions before holding secret ballot elections to decide whether they want a union to represent them.
Trump Wanted Pence to Reject Electors. A New Bill Would Prevent That.
MSN – Leigh Ann Caldwell (Washington Post) | Published: 7/20/2022
A bipartisan group of 16 senators released legislation that would clarify an 1887 law that then-President Trump and his allies tried to use as part of their attempt to overturn the 2020 election results. The legislation would attempt to more clearly define the role of states, presidential electors, and the vice president in a presidential election in an effort to prevent the events of January 6, 2021, in the future.
Trump’s Political Operation Continued to Steer Donor Money to Firm Involved in the Jan. 6 Rally
OpenSecrets – Anna Massoglia | Published: 7/14/2022
Former President Trump’s political operation continued to pay individuals and firms involved in organizing the rally that preceded the deadly Capitol attack, steering them more than $15.4 million since the start of the 2016 election cycle. While the Trump political operations’ spending and fundraising practices have come under increased scrutiny by the House select committee, the hearings have given the former president fodder to fundraise. His political operation continued to route payments from donors to January 6 organizers through at least May as the committee’s investigation heated up.
From the States and Municipalities
Alabama – Secretary of State: Federal groups supporting Alabama candidates must register with state
Yahoo – Brian Lyman (Montgomery Advertiser) | Published: 7/19/2022
The Alabama secretary of state’s office said federal organizations contributing to state campaigns will have to file campaign finance reports with the state. The move, which Secretary of State John Merrill said would include “dark money” groups, comes after years of controversy over the scope and application of Alabama’s ban on transfers of money between PACs. Before the Legislature banned the practice in 2010, PAC-to-PAC transfers were used to move campaign donations to hide the source of contributions to candidates.
Alaska – Judge Refuses to Block Alaska Campaign Finance Disclosure Rules
MSN – Becky Bohrer (Associated Press) | Published: 7/14/2022
A federal judge denied a request to block campaign finance provisions of a ballot measure approved by Alaska voters in 2020, finding the plaintiffs had not demonstrated a likelihood of success on their outlined claims. The lawsuit was filed earlier this year on behalf of political donors and third-party organizations known as independent expenditure groups. They argued the disclosure rules are unconstitutional and burdensome. The plaintiffs had asked that the challenged portions of the initiative be blocked while the case was ongoing.
Arizona – AZ Secretary of State Candidate’s Nonprofit Spending Raises Questions
Arizona Daily News – Mary Jo Pitzl (Arizona Republic) | Published: 7/16/2022
Reginald Bolding, a candidate for Arizona secretary of state, is the founder and director of the nonprofit Our Voice Our Vote, a group that does not have to name its donors. Its PAC, of which he is the designated agent for federal purposes, has paid for ads promoting his candidacy. Our Voice Our Vote also is part of Activate 48, another “dark money” organization that has endorsed him and paid for mailers touting his campaign. State law bars such committees from coordinating with candidates, and violations are subject to civil penalties.
Arizona – Republican Files Complaint Against PAC Promoting Kari Lake Campaign, Says Finance Form Masks Its Donors
Yahoo News – Richard Ruelas (Arizona Republic) | Published: 7/20/2022
A Republican consultant filed a complaint against a PAC, Put Arizona First, that has spent $2.1 million to promote the gubernatorial campaign of Kari Lake, saying its financial reports served to mask the source of its donations, in violation of state law. Put Arizona First said it was funded entirely by an entity called SPH Medical LLC, whose address, according to the form, was a UPS store in Phoenix. It is the same UPS store address used by Put Arizona First itself. No such entity called SPH Medical exists in Arizona, according to corporate filings.
Arizona – The FEC Has Questions About How a PAC Backing Blake Masters Is Disclosing Its Spending
Arizona Mirror – Jerod MacDonald-Evoy | Published: 7/19/2022
A PAC funded almost entirely by billionaire Peter Thiel is facing questions from the FEC about whether it properly reported independent expenditures in support of U.S. Senate candidate Blake Masters in Arizona. The FEC is asking for a “full public disclosure” of the Saving Arizona PAC’s spending of more than $1 million against U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly, the Democratic incumbent that Masters hopes to defeat. Any independent expenditure over $10,000 requires a PAC to file what is called a 48-hour report disclosing the spending.
California – Disney Revs Up Campaign Spending in Anaheim Amid Calls to Curb Their Influence After FBI Allegations
Voice of OC – Nick Gerda | Published: 7/19/2022
Records show Disney has spent 1.3 million in the upcoming election for Anaheim mayor and city council, an amount far more than anyone else has spent on the city’s elections in recent years. That money has gone to Disney’s main political money vehicle in Anaheim, Support Our Anaheim Resort (SOAR). It comes amid an ongoing federal investigation into the city’s politics. In an affidavit, the FBI alleged a consultant close to SOAR engaged in a “fraud scheme,” but it did not allege criminal activity by Disney or SOAR.
California – Ex-Compton Councilman Isaac Galvan, Dogged by Election-Rigging Scandal, Faces $240,000 Fine
Yahoo News – Gregory Yee (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 7/14/2022
Dogged by an election-rigging scandal and an ongoing criminal case, former Compton City Councilperson Isaac Galvan could face a stiff fine from the state’s political watchdog agency for multiple campaign finance violations, including the personal use of campaign funds. The California Fair Political Practices Commission will meet to discuss a possible $240,000 fine against Galvan.
California – League of Women Voters Sues Cupertino Over Lobbyist Ordinance
MSN – Grace Hase (Bay Area News Group) | Published: 7/20/2022
Over concerns that nonprofit employees and everyday citizens may be subject to Cupertino’s lobbyist ordinance, the League of Women Voters filed a lawsuit against the city arguing the law is unconstitutional, “hopelessly overbroad,” and anti-nonprofit. The Cupertino City Council approved its lobbyist ordinance in February 2021. The ordinance has a number of exemptions to the definition of lobbyist, including for board members or employees of nonprofits. But nonprofits can still be subject to ordinance if they are lobbying for a “specific project, issue or person” and have received monetary compensation for it.
California – Oakland Wants to Give Voters Money to Make Campaign Contributions
Oakland North – Callie Rhoades | Published: 7/12/2022
Oakland voters will be asked on the November 8 ballot if they want the city to give each of them $100 in campaign vouchers that could be donated to the candidates of their choice. Broken into four $25 vouchers, the “democracy dollars” are designed to level the playing field by putting more campaign funds in the hands of Oakland voters. Historically, the city’s campaign funding has been disproportionately made up of large donors. In the last four elections, candidates who raised the most money won more than three-quarters of the contested races.
California – San Jose Mayor Travels to France on Environmental Group’s Dime
San Jose Spotlight – Jana Kadah | Published: 7/18/2022
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo took an all-expenses paid trip to France recently, and the timing is raising some eyebrows. Liccardo and state Assemblyperson Ash Kalra were among the officials and academics who traveled abroad to study and compare best policies for land preservation. Professional development trips are usually reserved for leaders with more than a couple months left in office. Liccardo is leaving City Hall in December. There is also the question of public perception when elected officials accept a paid trip from a group that has lobbied them for a vote or decision.
Florida – Tallahassee Officials Approve 10-Year Ban on Corruption-Related Felons Lobbying
MSN – Karl Etters (Tallahassee Democrat) | Published: 7/14/2022
The Tallahassee City Commissioners approved a 10-year ban on lobbying for anyone convicted of fraud-related crimes, the latest in measures intended to stamp out back-door dealings. Commissioners also approved an increase in lobbyist registration fees. Now, lobbyists will have to pay a $500 annual registration fee. Previously they paid $25 per client.
Florida – UCF Removes Departments’ Anti-Racism Statements
MSN – Annie Martin (Orlando Sentinel) | Published: 7/13/2022
The University of Central Florida removed anti-racism statements from several academic department websites, prompting renewed concern by some that a new law championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis is leading to censorship at the university. The decision to take down the statements came less than a week after the English department briefly “suspended” its version, claiming it now violated state law. The university later said department did so without “direction” from school leaders, who did not think the statements conflicted with any laws.
Florida – West Palm: Winning bidder for Sunset Lounge management contract violated anti-lobbying rules
Yahoo News – Wayne Washington (Palm Beach Post) | Published: 7/15/2022
West Palm Beach informed Vita Lounge, the local Black group that beat stiff competition to manage the city’s Sunset Lounge, it violated lobbying rules during the bidding process and has been disqualified. In notifying Vita of its disqualification, the city’s Procurement Division included instances of contact between Vita backers and city commissioners, who serve as board members of the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA). The CRA has used at least $16 million in city taxpayer money to purchase and refurbish the 1920s era supper club and lounge.
Georgia – Giuliani Ordered to Testify in Georgia 2020 Election Probe
ABC News – Kate Brumback (Associated Press) | Published: 7/20/2022
A judge in New York ordered Rudy Giuliani to appear before a special grand jury in Atlanta that is investigating whether former President Trump and others illegally tried to interfere in the 2020 general election in Georgia. Giuliani had been summoned to appear in court in New York on July 13 to present any reasons why a subpoena should not be issued for him to testify in Atlanta, but he failed to show up for the hearing, New York Supreme Court Justice Thomas Farber wrote in his order.
Georgia – GOP Fake Electors ‘Targets’ in Georgia Election Fraud Inquiry
MSN – Matthew Brown (Washington Post) | Published: 7/19/2022
Georgia prosecutors investigating potential criminal interference in the 2020 presidential election by Donald Trump and his allies have notified several Republicans who were part of a fake electors scheme they are “targets” of the probe and could face charges. Part of the probe led by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis now centers on the 16 Republicans who gathered at the Georgia Capitol on December 14, 2020, as part of an attempt to falsely certify the state’s electoral college votes for former President Trump even though Joe Biden won the state.
Hawaii – Hawaii Lawmakers Took $500k In Campaign Cash This Session Despite Pleas to Ban Campaign Cash During Session
Honolulu Civil Beat – Blaze Lovell | Published: 7/20/2022
Good-government groups and a commission convened to strengthen ethics laws have asked that the practice of lawmakers accepting campaign contributions during a legislative session come to an end. The goal is to limit even the appearance of a “pay-to-play” culture that favors those who have money. But legislators accepted $500,000 in campaign donations during the 2022 session. That is just a portion of the $7.8 million state politicians raked in during sessions in the last decade from lobbyists, developers, labor unions, and other special interest groups while making budget and policy decisions that could affect their interests.
Illinois – Chicago City Council Unanimously Passes Ethics Overhaul, Boosts Fines to $20K
WTTW – Heather Cherone | Published: 7/20/2022
The Chicago City Council approved a sweeping ethics reform measure aimed at stamping out corruption that has led to the conviction of 37 members of city council since 1969. It strengthens rules against nepotism, lobbying of city council members, and limits campaign contributions for certain contractors. The ordinance also increases fines for violating those rules from a maximum of $5,000 to $20,000. The measure was significantly revised to win the support of Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who blocked it from advancing for several months.
Indiana – Ind. Attorney General’s Comments Endangered Abortion Provider, Complaint Says
MSN – María Luisa Paúl and Kim Bellware (Washington Post) | Published: 7/19/2022
A complaint against Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita is expected to trigger a probe by the state Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Commission after he claimed on Fox News that physician Caitlin Bernard had a “history of failing to report” abortions in child-abuse cases and launched an investigation into her licensure. Records show Bernard, who administered an abortion medication to a 10-year-old girl from Ohio who was forced to travel for the service, reported the incident to relevant state agencies. The complaint alleges Rokita made “inflammatory statements on national television, without due diligence concerning their truthfulness.”
Kentucky – Proposed Ordinance Would Force People, Groups Who Lobby Louisville Metro to Register, Disclose Funding
WFPL – Roberto Roldan | Published: 7/19/2022
Louisville Metro Council is considering an ordinance that sponsors hope will generate more transparency from lobbyists and other businesses and interest groups that try to influence local legislation. The ordinance would also bar council members from profiting from lobbying their colleagues immediately after leaving office. Under the proposal, anyone who is paid to influence the decisions of the Metro Council would have to register as a lobbyist.
Missouri – FEC Member Pans Decision Not to Investigate Groups That Helped Elect Greitens in 2016
Missouri Independent – Jason Hancock | Published: 7/14/2022
A member of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) is criticizing her agency’s failure to fully investigate groups that funneled $6 million of anonymous money into Missouri to boost Eric Greitens’ 2016 campaign for governor. Commissioner Ellen Weintraub said the scheme “was clearly designed to avoid the transparency federal law requires.” But her colleagues declined to authorize a full investigation, she wrote, because they felt it would not be a wise use of the FEC’s resources.
New York – A Family Donated $300K to Hochul. New York Has Paid the Family Business $637M.
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 7/19/2022
One New York City family, led by entrepreneur Charlie Tebele, has donated nearly $300,000 to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s campaign. Records also show that since December, Tebele’s company, Digital Gadgets LLC, was paid $637 million in taxpayer funds to provide the state Department of Health, an agency controlled by Hochul, with at-home COVID-19 test kits. The huge expenditure was made without the agency conducting competitive bidding. Though Digital Gadgets has not always delivered as promised, it has continued to reap major government payments, while the family has kept donating heavily to select politicians.
New York – Bellone Vetoes Repeal of Suffolk County’s Public Campaign Finance Program
WSHU – J.D. Allen | Published: 7/19/2022
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone vetoed a bill that would repeal its public campaign finance program. Suffolk is the largest county in the state outside of New York City to have such a program. It would allow candidates for county executive, comptroller, and legislator to access public dollars to run for office. Bellone said it would be a step backwards for building diversity and equity in county government.
New York – N.Y. Assemblyman Charles Fall’s Girlfriend Lobbied Him on Various Issues, Prompting Ethics Concerns
MSN – Chris Sommerfeldt (New York Daily News) | Published: 7/18/2022
Bianca Rajpersaud, a registered lobbyist at Davidoff, Hutcher & Citron, is listed as having lobbied state Assemblyperson Charles Fall as part of 11 different contracts the firm inked in 2021 and 2022 with companies and nonprofits seeking to curry favor with lawmakers. The duo began dating in 2020. There is no requirement for lawmakers to consult the Legislative Ethics Commission about professional interactions with love interests who are not spouses. Watchdog Rachael Fauss said the lobbying raises concerns that could have been avoided if Fall was open about whether he cleared the matter with the commission.
Ohio – Experts Say P.G. Sittenfeld Could Use $975k in Campaign and PAC Funds for Appeal of Conviction
WCPO – Paula Christian | Published: 7/14/2022
Former Cincinnati City Councilperson P.G. Sittenfeld may not be running for mayor anymore, but he still has nearly $975,000 in leftover political donations that experts say he could use to pay legal fees for an appeal after a jury convicted him of bribery and attempted extortion. Sittenfeld was a rising political star who mounted an impressive campaign fund to run for mayor in 2021. But three of his donors turned out to be undercover FBI agents who were posing as out-of-town developers. They donated $40,000 to his PAC and asked for help on a project, which prosecutors described as quid pro quo.
Ohio – Ohio Supreme Court Again Rejects Republican Congressional Map, Ordering Redraw for 2024 Election
MSN – Andrew Tobias (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 7/19/2022
For the second time this year, the Ohio Supreme Court rejected state Republicans’ congressional map plan as illegally gerrymandered, citing the new language added by voters to the state constitution in 2018. But the ruling almost certainly will not affect this year’s elections since the primary election for Ohio’s ongoing congressional races was held in May, with the general election set for November. While the ruling is silent on the 2022 elections, it does not explicitly describe vacating the results of the May election and other interventions that would indicate the court is trying to block the map from being used in the current election cycle.
Rhode Island – McKee’s Former Chief of Staff Displayed ‘Very Poor Judgment’ but Committed No Crimes, Attorney General Says
MSN – Edward Fitzpatrick (Boston Globe) | Published: 7/18/2022
The Rhode Island attorney general’s office cleared Gov. Daniel McKee’s former chief of staff, Anthony Silva, of criminal activity but castigated him for exercising “very poor judgment in involving himself in a personal matter before a state regulatory agency.” Silva resigned amid scrutiny of whether he attempted to influence the state Department of Environmental Management (DEM) over a permit to develop a piece of land in Cumberland. The DEM at first rejected an application to develop the parcel, but reversed course. The investigation found Silva frequently contacted the DEM and Cumberland officials to try to advance the approval process.
Texas – AG Ken Paxton Declines to Sue Candidates, Officials Who Owe $700K in Unpaid Campaign Violation Fines
MSN – Taylor Goldsmith (Houston Chronicle) | Published: 7/14/2022
The Texas Ethics Commission, the regulatory agency in charge of enforcing campaign finance laws, does not have many tools at its disposal to go after scofflaws who have not paid fines aside from letter notifications. Its last line of defense against delinquent filers is to refer their cases to the state attorney general’s office. But Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has declined to sue hundreds of candidates and elected officials who altogether owe more than $700,000 unpaid fines for campaign reporting violations.
Washington – Armed Man Arrested Outside Home of Rep. Jayapal for Alleged Death Threat
MSN – Amy Wang (Washington Post) | Published: 7/14/2022
An armed man who reportedly threatened to kill U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal was arrested outside her Seattle home on suspicion of committing a hate crime, police said. The man, whose name was redacted from publicly available police reports, was released from jail because police could not confirm his threats or that he told Jayapal to “go back to India,” and an investigation is ongoing. Jayapal called 911 to report someone was outside her home using obscene language and may have fired a pellet gun.
Wisconsin – Milwaukee Ald. Chantia Lewis Convicted of Two Campaign Finance Felonies, Removed from Office
MSN – Allison Dir (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) | Published: 7/18/2022
Milwaukee Ald. Chantia Lewis was removed from office after her conviction on two felonies related to her conduct in office. The criminal complaint stated she used campaign funds for family trips and basic personal expenses such as car and credit card bills, engaged in “double-dipping” by filing for reimbursement for city-related travel expenses that she had actually paid out of her campaign account, and structured a campaign contribution to avoid the limits in the law.
Wisconsin – Trump Called ‘Within the Last Week’ to Overturn Wis. Election Results, Speaker Says
MSN – Timothy Bella and Patrick Marley (Washington Post) | Published: 7/20/2022
Wisconsin’s Republican house speaker said former President Trump called him “within the last week” seeking to overturn the 2020 presidential election that Joe Biden won. Speaker Robin Vos said he received a call from Trump after the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled on July 8 that most absentee drop boxes in the state are illegal. The ruling addresses future elections, not the one Trump lost in 2020 by more than 20,000 in Wisconsin.
July 20, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “Pair Charged with Making Straw Donations to Trump Committees” by Jennifer Pelz (Associated Press) for MSN Wisconsin: “Milwaukee Ald. Chantia Lewis Convicted of Two Campaign Finance Felonies, Removed from Office” by Allison Dir (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) for […]
National: “Pair Charged with Making Straw Donations to Trump Committees” by Jennifer Pelz (Associated Press) for MSN
Wisconsin: “Milwaukee Ald. Chantia Lewis Convicted of Two Campaign Finance Felonies, Removed from Office” by Allison Dir (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) for MSN
National: “Secret Service Cannot Recover Texts; No New Details for Jan. 6 Committee” by Carol Leonnig and Maria Sacchetti (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Prosecutors Won’t Pursue Case Against Colbert Team at Capitol Complex” by Michael Balsamo (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
California: “San Jose Mayor Travels to France on Environmental Group’s Dime” by Jana Kadah for San Jose Spotlight
Indiana: “Ind. Attorney General’s Comments Endangered Abortion Provider, Complaint Says” by María Luisa Paúl and Kim Bellware (Washington Post) for MSN
New York: “A Family Donated $300K to Hochul. New York Has Paid the Family Business $637M.” by Chris Bragg for Albany Times Union
Florida: “West Palm: Winning bidder for Sunset Lounge management contract violated anti-lobbying rules” by Wayne Washington (Palm Beach Post) for Yahoo News
Ohio: “Ohio Supreme Court Again Rejects Republican Congressional Map, Ordering Redraw for 2024 Election” by Andrew Tobias (Cleveland Plain Dealer) for MSN
July 1, 2022 •
National/Federal Cassidy Hutchinson’s Testimony Highlights Legal Risks for Trump Yahoo News – Alan Feuer and Glenn Thrush (New York Times) | Published: 6/29/2022 The extent to which the Justice Department’s expanding criminal inquiry into the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol is […]
Cassidy Hutchinson’s Testimony Highlights Legal Risks for Trump
Yahoo News – Alan Feuer and Glenn Thrush (New York Times) | Published: 6/29/2022
The extent to which the Justice Department’s expanding criminal inquiry into the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol is focused on Donald Trump remains unclear. But the revelations in the testimony to the House select committee by Cassidy Hutchinson, a former White House aide, both provided new evidence about Trump’s activities before the riot and chipped away at any potential defense that he was merely expressing well-founded views about election fraud, legal experts said. A federal judge in a civil suit related to the committee’s work concluded this year that Trump and one of his legal advisers, John Eastman, most likely had committed felonies.
Colorado GOP Rejects Candidates Who Back Trump Election Lie
MSN – Nicholas Riccardi (Associated Press) | Published: 6/29/2022
Colorado Republicans rejected two of the state’s most prominent election deniers, a setback for the movement to install those who echo former President Trump’s lies about mass voter fraud in positions overseeing voting. The twin losses add to mixed record for Trump’s movement. So far, four supporters of his election falsehoods have won Republican primaries for secretary of state. But he has also suffered embarrassing losses. The Colorado decisions came as voters in six other states went to the polls in the first primaries since the Supreme Court revoked the constitutional right of women to obtain abortions.
Democrats Seize on Abortion Ruling in Midterms, as Republicans Tread Carefully
MSN – Annie Linskey and Colby Itkowitz (Washington Post) | Published: 6/26/2022
Democrats are seizing on the Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, with state and federal candidates seeking to turn anger about the decision into support at the ballot box, even as Republicans aim to keep attention on rising prices and crime. Democrats on the front lines of the fight to keep the party’s congressional majorities have cast their campaigns as key parts of a larger battle to restore abortion rights prevent the rollback of other liberties. Democratic candidates for governor, attorney general, and offices at the state level, where abortion laws will now be determined, pledged to put the issue at the forefront of their campaigns.
Former Rep. Jeff Fortenberry Avoids Prison Time Over Three Felony Convictions
MSN – Chris Marquette (Roll Call) | Published: 6/28/2022
Former U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry was sentenced to two years’ probation for lying to the FBI and concealing information during an investigation into his campaign’s receipt of tens of thousands of dollars in illegal foreign contributions. The sentencing decision went against the prosecution’s request, who asked for Fortenberry to serve six months in federal prison. The judge also said Fortenberry must complete 320 hours of community service and pay a $25,000 fine.
Giuliani Associate Parnas Sentenced to 20 Months in Prison
MSN – Larry Neumeister (Associated Press) | Published: 6/29/2022
Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudy Giuliani who was a figure in former President Trump’s first impeachment investigation, was sentenced to a year and eight months in prison for fraud and campaign finance crimes. Parnas, who had helped Giuliani connect with Ukrainian figures as part of a campaign to dig up dirt on President Biden’s son, had sought leniency on the grounds that he had helped the congressional probe. Prosecutors asked the judge to focus on a jury’s finding that Parnas used the money of a wealthy Russian to make illegal donations to politicians who might aid the launch of a legal recreational-marijuana business.
Home of Jeffrey Clark, Trump DOJ Official, Searched by Federal Agents
MSN – Spencer Hsu, Devlin Barrett, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 6/23/2022
Federal agents conducted a search at the home of former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, who played a key role in then-President Trump’s efforts to get law enforcement officials to challenge Joe Biden’s election victory. Clark’s conduct in late 2020 and early 2021 was also the focus of a hearing by the House committee probing the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters determined to overturn Biden’s victory. Several former senior Justice Department officials testified about a bizarre effort by Clark to volunteer himself and the department as advocates for Trump’s bogus claims of massive voter fraud during the election.
Jan. 6 Committee Subpoenas Former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone
MSN – Jacqueline Alemany and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 6/29/2022
The House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection issued a subpoena to former White House counsel Pat Cipollone after testimony from a former aide identified him as having firsthand knowledge of potential criminal activity in the Trump White House. The decision followed negotiations between Cipollone and the committee, as well as escalating pressure on him in recent days to testify. Committee members have come to believe he former counsel’s testimony could be critical to their investigation, given his proximity to Donald Trump and presence during key moments before, during, and after the attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Lawyer Who Advised Trump Says Federal Agents Seized Phone
Yahoo News – Eric Tucker (Associated Press) | Published: 6/27/2022
John Eastman, a conservative lawyer who aided former President Trump’s efforts to undo the 2020 election results and who has been repeatedly referenced in House hearings on the assault on the Capitol, said in a court filing that federal agents seized his cell phone. The move underscores federal investigators’ interest in the unsuccessful schemes advanced by Trump advisers to help keep the then-president in power in the period between the November 2020 election and the riot at the Capitol two months later, when Trump loyalists stormed the building to halt the certification of the election results.
Ron Johnson Now Says He Helped Coordinate Effort to Pass False Elector Slates to Pence, but His New Explanation Drew a Quick Rebuke
Yahoo Finance – Molly Beck and Lawrence Andrea (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) | Published: 6/26/2022
After initially claiming to be “basically unaware” of an effort by his staff to get fake presidential elector documents to Vice President Mike Pence, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson said he coordinated with a Wisconsin attorney to pass along such information and alleged that U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly brought slates of fake electors to his office, a claim that was immediately disputed. Evidence presented by the House committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol showed Johnson’s chief of staff tried to deliver the two states’ lists of fake presidential electors for former President Trump to Pence on the morning of the insurrection but was rebuffed by Pence’s aide.
The Supreme Court Has Chipped Away at the Voting Rights Act for 9 Years. This Case Could Be the Next Blow.
Yahoo News – Zach Montellaro (Politico) | Published: 6/27/2022
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 has been whittled away over the last decade by the U.S. Supreme Court and a case set to be heard in the fall could shrink the protections offered by the law to the smallest level yet. The court will hear arguments in the fall about Alabama’s redistricting, in a case targeting the other central piece of the Voting Rights Act: Section 2, which prohibits voting practices and procedures that discriminate on the basis of race. The result of the case could make it more difficult for minority communities to claim new election laws are discriminatory and raise the bar for what has to happen to get relief from the courts.
Tucker Carlson Just Inadvertently Helped Raise $14,000 for Abortion Rights
MSN – Steven Zeitchik (Washington Post) | Published: 6/27/2022
Hours after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Tucker Carlson took to the airwaves to rail against companies that would pay for employees’ abortion-travel costs. But as Carlson was offering his commentary, an image from his show was being put to a different use: raising money for groups that facilitate abortion. Online bidders in the digital space known as web3 were offering thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency for a non-fungible token made out of a screen image of Carlson on the show. Jenny Holzer said she will donate the $14,500 she made from the sale to groups including Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights.
Violent Threats to Election Workers Are Common. Prosecutions Are Not.
Yahoo News – Michael Wines and Eliza Fawcett (New York Times) | Published: 6/27/2022
Travis Ford pleaded guilty recently to making a threat with a telecommunications device – a felony that can carry up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 – for threatening Jena Griswold, the secretary of state and chief election official of Colorado, on Instagram. While Attorney General Merrick Garland has established the federal Election Threats Task Force, almost no one else has faced punishment. Two other cases are being prosecuted, but Ford’s guilty plea is the only case the task force has successfully concluded out of more than 1,000 it has evaluated.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – Wendy Rogers Refused to Speak to the Senate Ethics Panel About Her ‘Fed Boy Summer’ Tweet
Arizona Mirror – Jerod MacDonald-Evoy | Published: 6/29/2022
State Sen. Wendy Rogers refused to meet with the attorney for the Arizona Senate Ethics Committee, but her lawyer said in a letter to the panel that her tweet dismissing the racially motivated Buffalo grocery store mass shooting was a reference to a 2019 hip hop song and not a nod to white supremacist online culture. The Senate launched an investigation into Rogers for alluding on social media that the shooting in Buffalo was the work of federal law enforcement instead of the white supremacist accused of carrying out the attack.
California – Downtown Real Estate Developer Found Guilty in Jose Huizar Bribery Case
Yahoo News – David Zahniser (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 6/27/2022
Five years ago, real estate developer Dae Yong Lee had a big problem. A labor group with political connections had filed a challenge against his plan for a 20-story tower in downtown Los Angeles. A jury found Lee guilty of paying a $500,000 bribe to ensure city council member Jose Huizar would shepherd his project through the city’s planning process. Lee’s company was also found guilty. It had sought city approval for the residential tower. The verdicts delivered a critical victory to federal prosecutors in the first of three trials encompassing the sprawling corruption case against Huizar.
California – Santa Ana Moves to Increase Transparency with Lobbyist Registration Law
Los Angeles Times – Ben Brazil | Published: 6/23/2022
As Anaheim grapples with a corruption scandal, officials from nearby Santa Ana moved forward with a plan to encourage greater transparency by tracking paid lobbyists. The city council gave initial approval to an ordinance that requires lobbyists to register with the city or face penalties. Santa Ana Mayor Vicente Sarmiento said while the lobbyist disclosure law is a step in the right direction, the city needs to do more to prevent the kind of corruption uncovered in Anaheim.
Connecticut – As a New Field of Candidates Lines Up for CT Taxpayer-Funded Campaign Grants, a Long-Ignored Elections Complaint Causes Concern About Landmark Reforms
MSN – Edmund Mahoney (Hartford Courant) | Published: 6/27/2022
Former Connecticut Sen. Ted Kennedy Jr. was accused in 2014 of breaking a promise to limit his campaign spending to a grant of about $90,000 from the Citizens’ Election Program. Records show his campaign benefitted from almost four times that much because of an amendment to the law. Kennedy and his backers claim it permitted the Democratic State Central Committee to cover “organizational expenditures.” The case has languished in part because of legal disagreements over whether the amendment really does permit campaigns to spend in excess of the public financing caps on “organizational expenditures” with money donated by political committees.
Florida – ‘Unsettling,’ ‘Un-American’: FPL consultant obtained personal information, surveillance photo of journalist Nate Monroe
Yahoo News – David Bauerlein (Florida Times-Union) | Published: 6/24/2022
Florida Times-Union columnist Mate Monroe was under surveillance by Matrix, a consulting firm that worked for Florida Power & Light (FPL) during the attempted sale of JEA, the community-owned utility in Jacksonville. The then-chief executive officer of Matrix emailed a background report on Monroe’s personal life to FPL’s vice president of state legislative affairs. Monroe frequently broke news on the potential sale of JEA and wrote columns critical of the sales process. FPL has called the reporting “conspiracy-laden” as it relates to the utility’s bid for JEA.
Hawaii – Permitting Worker Who Took Bribes for a Decade Gets Prison Time
Honolulu Civil Beat – Christina Jedra | Published: 6/27/2022
A veteran of Honolulu’s Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP) will go to prison for two-and-a-half years after pleading guilty to accepting over $63,000 in bribes over the course of a decade. Jennie Javonillo accepted cash from at least 10 individuals and companies who received expedited processing for their projects, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael David Nammar. The former building plans examiner perpetuated a “pay-to-play” culture at DPP in which people who offered bribes got their projects approved in “record time,” while construction stalled for those who refused to pay, Nammar said.
Hawaii – Tougher Campaign Finance Laws Top Standards Commission Agenda
Honolulu Civil Beat – Blaze Lovell | Published: 6/30/2022
A commission to enhance government transparency in Hawaii is weighing a handful of measures aimed at tightening campaign finance laws and reducing the influence of money in politics in a year where several political donors made headlines for alleged bribery. The recent cases led to the creation of the Commission to Improve Standards of Conduct, which plans to come back to the Legislature with proposals on government ethics, elections, and more. The agency in charge of overseeing state campaign finance laws came before the new commission with ideas for eliminating “pay-to-play” schemes.
Idaho – Lobbying or Campaigning? Idaho Political Organizations Did Both Before Primary Election
Idaho Capital Sun – Kelcie Moseley-Morris | Published: 6/27/2022
Online ads that attacked Idaho lawmakers were prominent during the last legislative session. They were paid for by Idaho Freedom Action, the 501(c)(4) arm of the Idaho Freedom Foundation. Until mid-April, Idaho Freedom Action reported all its activities related to the session as lobbying for specific bills. Between January and March, the group reported buying Facebook ads that totaled $35,708. Although the ads focus on specific lawmakers, Deputy Secretary of State Chad Houck said if they do not include words to encourage someone to “vote for” or “vote against” that legislator, it is not a reportable independent campaign expenditure.
Illinois – GOP Lawmaker Calls Roe Ruling ‘Victory for White Life’ as Trump Rally Cheers
MSN – Jennifer Hassan (Washington Post) | Published: 6/26/2022
U.S. Rep. Mary Miller called the Supreme Court’s decision to Roe v. Wade a “victory for white life,” which was met with cheers at a rally held by former President Trump. Miller’s spokesperson, Isaiah Wartman, said she misread her prepared speech and was supposed to declare the divisive court ruling a victory for the “right to life.” Last year, Miller was forced to apologize after quoting Adolf Hitler at a “Moms for America” event in Washington, D.C.
Illinois – Negotiations Underway on Stalled Ethics Reform Package, Lightfoot Says
WTTW – Heather Cherone | Published: 6/23/2022
An effort to overhaul Chicago’s ethics rules designed to finally put an end to the corruption at City Hall will remain stalled for at least another month, even as Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she has begun negotiating with Ald. Michele Smith. But Lightfoot declined to endorse Smith’s proposal, or detail how the proposal should be changed. Lightfoot and Smith met after Chicago Board of Ethics Chairperson William Conlon said the package of reforms, which has been stalled since April without Lightfoot’s backing, should be “swiftly” passed by the city council and signed into law.
Louisiana – Supreme Court Frees Louisiana to Use Congressional Map Drawn by GOP
MSN – Robert Barnes (Washington Post) | Published: 6/28/2022
The U.S. Supreme Court cleared Louisiana to use a Republican-drawn congressional map this fall that a lower court judge said likely diminishes the electoral power of the state’s Black voters. The justices agreed with a request by Louisiana’s Republican secretary of state to put on hold U.S. District Court Judge Shelly Dick’s order that the state create a second district where African Americans would have the opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice. An appeals court backed the district court’s decision, but the state Legislature refused to redraw the map.
Maryland – Former Hogan Chief of Staff Charged with Additional Count in Corruption Case
MSN – Sam Janesch (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 6/29/2022
A former chief of staff to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is facing an additional charge in a two-year-old public corruption case that alleges he collected excessive expenses and arranged for an unprecedented $233,647 severance payment during his time in office. The new federal wire fraud charge against Roy McGrath relates to a memo that outlined the severance payment and included Hogan’s approval but that federal officials say McGrath fabricated.
Maryland – Nick Mosby’s Tab for Ocean City Conference in August Is Twice as Much as Baltimore City Council Colleagues’
Yahoo News – Jeff Barker (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 6/29/2022
The Baltimore City Board of Estimates approved travel expenses – including three hotel nights – averaging $1,394 total for each of four city council members to attend the Maryland Association of Counties annual conference in Ocean City in mid-August. It approved similar expenses for the Council President Nick Mosby. But his bill was twice as much: $3,008. The board approved the requests of Mosby and the other council members without dissent.
Michigan – Supreme Court: Flint water indictments against Rick Snyder, others invalid
Bridge Michigan – Kelly House and Jonathan Oosting | Published: 6/28/2022
A one-judge grand jury had no power to issue indictments stemming from the Flint water crisis, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled. The decision is likely to erase criminal charges against former Gov. Rick Snyder and several other former public officials and raises questions about future prosecutions. The Flint crisis was triggered by a drinking water source switch, executed while a state-appointed emergency manager ran the city. The decision caused lead contamination that coincided with two outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease and 12 deaths. Snyder was charged with two misdemeanors for willful neglect of duty.
Missouri – Page’s Chief of Staff Resigns After Councilman Asks for Probe of Leaked Sex Video
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Nassim Benchaabane and Joe Holleman | Published: 6/29/2022
Cal Harris, chief of staff for St. Louis County Executive Sam Page, resigned abruptly, a week after county council member Mark Harder asked law enforcement officers to investigate a video of a county employee engaged in a sexual act at the county building. Harder said he received an anonymous video of a male county employee in a sexual act with a woman. The employee, whom Harder did not name, could be identified in the video because he was wearing a county ID badge with his name. A source who had seen the video said Harris’ name on the ID badge could be made out.
New Jersey – Bill to Increase N.J. Campaign Contributions and Gut Local Pay-to-Play Rules Falls Off Fast Track
MSN – Matt Arco (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 6/29/2022
A bill that was getting fast-tracked through the New Jersey Legislature that seeks to double many contribution limits for elections and remove many “pay-to-play” restrictions in the state has stalled. The bill was pulled from consideration in both the Senate and Assembly as lawmakers gathered for a busy voting session before summer break. It was not immediately clear what prompted legislative leaders to pull the Elections Transparency Act after it sailed through committee hearings with bipartisan support in recent days.
New Mexico – NM Department Heads, Others Didn’t Disclose Financial Info
Yahoo News – Dan McKay (Albuquerque Journal) | Published: 6/26/2022
Four Cabinet secretaries, a university chancellor, and New Mexico’s chief public defender failed to disclose their income sources and business interests earlier this year as required by state law. The group of non-filers also included the game and fish director, the chief clerk of the Senate, and more than 100 appointees to state boards and commissions. In New Mexico, elected officials, the leaders of state agencies, and certain other appointees are required to file annual disclosures listing their income sources, real estate holdings, and business interests – both for themselves and their spouses – as a condition of employment.
New York – Judge Says NYC Can’t Let Noncitizens Vote in City Elections
NBC News – Associated Press | Published: 6/27/2022
New York City cannot let noncitizens vote for mayor and other city officials, a judge ruled, siding with Republicans who challenged the measure as unconstitutional. In January, New York became the first major American city to grant widespread municipal voting rights to noncitizens, though none had cast ballots yet. The law did not affect presidential, congressional, or state elections. The law’s supporters said it gave an electoral voice to many people who have made a home in the city and pay taxes to it but face tough paths to citizenship.
New York – New York’s Troubled Ethics Panel Holds Final Meeting
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 6/28/2022
After 11 tumultuous years, New York’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) conducted its final meeting. On July 8, the commission will cease to exist. The Legislature and Gov. Kathy Hochul agreed in the budget passed in April to replace it with a new oversight body, the Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government. JCOPE was long dogged by accusations its commissioners were too close to the lawmakers who appointed them. The panel’s 14 commissioners were appointed by top state lawmakers, with the governor appointing six.
New York – Suffolk County Has Repealed Its Public Campaign Finance Program
WSHU – J.D. Allen | Published: 6/23/2022
Suffolk County has effectively ended its public campaign finance program. Outside of New York City, Suffolk County was the largest county in the state to establish a public campaign finance program. It did not survive a year in operation, without supporting a single campaign, before Republicans took away its funding. County Legislator Kevin McCaffrey said public money is better spent on taxpayers, not candidates. “There is a more immediate need than for campaign finance, and we think that this money could be better spent in other ways,” McCaffrey said.
North Carolina – One of NC’s Biggest Political Donors, in Prison for Bribery, Wins New Trial
MSN – Will Doran (Charlotte Observer) | Published: 6/29/2022
A billionaire who had been convicted of attempting to bribe a top state official with the help of the North Carolina Republican Party was not given a fair trial, a federal appeals court ruled. Greg Lindberg was briefly North Carolina’s biggest political donor before his arrest. He is now two years into a seven-year prison sentence but will get a new trial, along with his employee John Gray, who had been sentenced to 30 months in prison as part of the same scandal.
North Dakota – North Dakota Lawmakers Ponder Improvements to Harassment Policy After Rep’s Expulsion
Bismarck Tribune – Jack Dura | Published: 6/27/2022
North Dakota legislative leaders see more training for themselves on how to handle complaints as a way to improve the Legislature’s workplace harassment policy after a lawmaker’s expulsion last year. A panel of leaders met to review the policy, nearly 16 months after the Republican-led House expelled then-Rep. Luke Simons for workplace and sexual harassment of women at the Capitol. Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner said the panel will wait until September to vote on potential changes to the policy that was adopted in 2018 amid the #MeToo movement but has never been used. The Legislature convenes in January.
Ohio – Ohio Supreme Court Declines to Hold Ohio Redistricting Commission in Contempt for Failure to Pass Constitutional Legislative Districts
MSN – Seth Richardson (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 6/29/2022
The state Supreme Court announced it would not hold members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission in contempt after Republicans on the commission missed a May deadline to produce new state legislative maps. The ruling likely brings an end to the redistricting saga for now. Districts are already in place for the August 2 special legislative election and Republicans on the commission have refused to reconvene.
Oklahoma – Clean Up Oklahoma Criticized for Not Disclosing Source of Funding
Enid News & Eagle – Janelle Stecklein (CNHI Oklahoma) | Published: 6/27/2022
Armed with mops and buckets and their trademark “Clean It Up Truck,” members of Clean Up Oklahoma admit they make a bit of spectacle as they travel across the state bringing attention to their anti-corruption platform. Their “Anti-Corruption Pledge” requires candidates to promise, among other things, to clean up elections by getting “big money out of politics” and requires officials to be transparent with things such as their tax returns, conflicts-of-interest, and gifts. But Clean Up Oklahoma, which reports spending $30,400 on electioneering efforts since June 9, is not disclosing any of its donors.
Oklahoma – Epic Charter Schools Co-Founders Made Political Donations with State Dollars, OSBI Says
The Oklahoman – Nuria Martinez-Kee | Published: 6/25/2022
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation arrested Epic Charter Schools co-founders Ben Harris and David Chaney, along with the group’s chief financial officer, Josh Brock. Investigators allege Harris, Chaney, and Brock illegally pocketed millions of taxpayer dollars, submitted false financial reports to the state, and spent money intended for Epic students on political donations and personal expenses.
Rhode Island – Officer Running for State Senate Drops Out After Punching Opponent
MSN – Timothy Bella and James Bikales (Washington Post) | Published: 6/25/2022
A Providence police officer who was running for state office as a Republican dropped out of the race amid a criminal investigation for allegedly punching his Democratic opponent in the face during a protest. Rhode Island Political Cooperative Chairperson Jennifer Rourke was among those who spoke outside the statehouse following the Supreme Court’s decision to end the right to abortion. As tensions escalated among protesters and counter-protesters, video posted to social media shows people exchanging punches in a chaotic scene. During the fighting, a man who Rourke says is officer Jeann Lugo is seen punching her in the face.
Texas – As They Target South Texas, Republicans Say One Democratic County Isn’t Maintaining Campaign Finance Records
Texas Tribune – Patrick Svitek | Published: 6/28/2022
Republicans are trying to make new inroads in South Texas this election season. The increased attention has spotlighted a concerning issue, according to one GOP group: a lack of publicly available campaign finance reports in Starr County documenting donations and spending for its local elections. Under state law, counties are required to maintain such reports for candidates for local office, including races for county judge, county commissioner, and justice of the peace. But that is apparently not happening in Starr, one of the four counties that make up the Rio Grande Valley, according to a recently filed ethics complaint.
Wisconsin – Scott Walker-Appointed Natural Resources Board Member Frederick Prehn Can Remain Past His Term, Supreme Court Rules
Yahoo News – Laura Schulte (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) | Published: 6/28/2022
Frederick Prehn can remain on the state’s Natural Resources Board beyond the expiration of his term, under a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling. The decision allows Prehn to remain as a voting member of the board, which sets policy for the Department of Natural Resources, until the state Senate holds a hearing for his replacement. The ruling all but ensures that Republicans who control the Senate will continue to avoid confirming large slates of Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ appointees to key cabinet positions and other state positions.
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