May 20, 2022 •
National/Federal A Fringe Conspiracy Theory, Fostered Online, Is Refashioned by the GOP Hartford Courant – Nicholas Confessore and Karen Yourish (New York Times) | Published: 5/16/2022 At the extremes of American life, replacement theory – the notion that Western elites, sometimes […]
A Fringe Conspiracy Theory, Fostered Online, Is Refashioned by the GOP
Hartford Courant – Nicholas Confessore and Karen Yourish (New York Times) | Published: 5/16/2022
At the extremes of American life, replacement theory – the notion that Western elites, sometimes manipulated by Jews, want to “replace” and disempower white Americans – has become an engine of racist terror, helping inspire a wave of mass shootings in recent years. But replacement theory, once confined to Reddit message boards and semi-obscure white nationalist sites, has gone mainstream. In sometimes more muted forms, the fear it crystallizes of a future America in which white people are no longer the numerical majority has become a potent force in conservative media and politics, where the theory has been borrowed and remixed to attract audiences, retweets, and small-dollar donations.
Feds Dismiss Campaign Finance Complaint Against Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert
Colorado Public Radio – Caitlyn Kim | Published: 5/16/2022
The FEC dismissed a complaint against U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert over her 2020 mileage reimbursement after the commissioners deadlocked on whether to investigate further. While the FEC’s Office of General Counsel did not find any evidence that Boebert converted campaign funds to personal use, as the complaint had alleged, it did note the “round figure of 32,000 miles driven for campaign-related purposes suggests that the assessment is a general estimate rather than one found on the kind of contemporaneous log contemplated in the Commission’s regulations.”
How Facebook Funded a Clandestine War Against Regulation
MSN – Cat Zakrzewski and Elizabeth Dwoskin (Washington Post) | Published: 5/17/2022
Backed by millions of dollars from Facebook-parent company Meta, the political advocacy group American Edge has launched a campaign to combat antitrust legislation in Washington, placing op-eds in regional newspapers throughout the country, commissioning studies, and collaborating with an array of partners, including minority business associations, conservative think tanks, and former national security officials. It is a playbook more common to other industries, but tech companies, under heightened scrutiny from federal regulators, are seizing on these methods.
How the Biden Administration Let Right-Wing Attacks Derail Its Disinformation Efforts
Yahoo News – Taylor Lorenz (Washington Post) | Published: 5/18/2022
On April 27, the Department of Homeland Security announced the creation of the first Disinformation Governance Board with the stated goal to “coordinate countering misinformation related to homeland security.” The Biden administration tapped Nina Jankowicz, a well-known figure in the field of fighting disinformation and extremism, as executive director. Within hours of her appointment, Jankowicz was thrust into the spotlight by the forces she dedicated her career to combating. She became a primary target on the right-wing Internet, subject to a barrage of harassment and abuse while unchecked misrepresentations of her work continue to go viral.
Jan. 6 Panel Subpoenas 5 House Republicans, Including Minority Leader
MSN – Felicia Sonmez, Jacqueline Alemany, Leigh Ann Caldwell, and Mariana Sotomayor (Washington Post) | Published: 5/12/2022
The U.S. House committee investigating the attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob on announced it subpoenaed five Republican members of Congress, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, after they refused to cooperate with the panel’s inquiry. The move marks a significant escalation in the committee’s efforts to obtain information related to lawmakers’ communications with former President Trump and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows before, during, and after the attack.
Supreme Court Agrees with Cruz, Strikes Campaign Contribution Limit
MSN – Robert Barnes (Washington Post) | Published: 5/16/2022
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled a $250,000 cap on the amount of money that candidates can be reimbursed after an election for personal loans to their own campaigns unjustifiably burdened political expression. It was the latest decision to knock out a part of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act and reemphasized the court’s view that many restrictions on campaign finance are unconstitutional violations of the First Amendment’s protection of speech. Justice Elena Kagan said the court was effectively abetting corruption by allowing donors to contribute to a campaign after an election in a way that benefits the candidate personally.
The Little Red Boxes Making a Mockery of Campaign Finance Laws
Yahoo News – Shane Goldmacher (New York Times) | Published: 5/16/2022
Democratic candidates nationwide are pioneering new frontiers in soliciting and directing money from friendly super PACs financed by multimillionaires, billionaires, and special-interest groups. Campaign watchdogs complain the practice further blurs the lines meant to keep wealthy interests from influencing people running for office, effectively evading the strict donation limits imposed on federal candidates. The practice is both brazen and simple. To work around the prohibition on directly coordinating with super PACs, candidates are posting their instructions to them inside the red boxes on public pages that super PACs continuously monitor.
U.S. Sues to Compel Casino Mogul Steve Wynn to Register as Agent of China
MSN – Isaac Stanley-Becker and Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 5/17/2022
The U.S. Justice Department sued Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn to compel him to register as a foreign agent because of lobbying work it says he performed for the Chinese government during the Trump administration. The department said it had advised Wynn repeatedly over the last four years to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act and is suing now because Wynn refused to do so. Though the Justice Department has ramped up efforts to criminally prosecute people who do not register as foreign agents, officials described this case as the first lawsuit of its kind in more than three decades.
Victories by Mastriano, Budd Show Potency of Trump’s False Stolen Election Claims in GOP
MSN – Annie Linskey and David Weigel (Washington Post) | Published: 5/17/2022
Republican candidates who sought to overturn the 2020 election won statewide primaries in Pennsylvania and North Carolina, reflecting the lingering influence in the GOP of former President Trump’s false claims the vote was rigged against him. Their primary victories came on a day when the effect of Trump and his far-right movement on the midterm elections faced its biggest test to date. Incomplete results showed Trump’s influence over the movement he started was uneven, winning some but not all the races where he backed a candidate.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – Arizona Senate to Investigate Wendy Rogers Over Social Media Post on Buffalo Shooting
Yahoo News – Ray Stern (Arizona Republic) | Published: 5/16/2022
The Arizona Senate Ethics Committee will investigate a social media post from state Sen. Wendy Rogers that suggested the shooter in a mass killing in Buffalo was a federal agent and part of a conspiracy by the federal government. The committee said it will examine Rogers’ remarks “relating to the Buffalo shooting as inappropriate of an elected official with this body.” An effort to expel Rogers pushed by Democrats failed.
California – Judge Halts Angel Stadium Sale for FBI Corruption Probe of Anaheim Mayor
KABC – City News Service | Published: 5/17/2022
The city of Anaheim’s planned sale of Angel Stadium to team owner Arte Moreno’s company was halted for at least two months by an Orange County Superior Court judge, who agreed to a request by the state to pause the deal amid a federal corruption probe of Mayor Harry Sidhu. The state attorney general’s office filed the petition requesting a halt to the sale, pointing to the federal investigation that involves, in part, allegations Sidhu was trying to leverage the deal to secure campaign contributions from the Los Angeles Angels.
Colorado – Some Colorado Lobbyists Work for Both Sides at the Same Time
KUSA – Zack Newman | Published: 5/16/2022
At least 15 lobbyists and firms in Colorado have had clients on opposite of a bill at the same time in 2021 and 2022. State law requires lobbyists to tell clients about any conflicts-of-interest and bars them from engaging in “any other practice that discredits the practice of lobbying or the general assembly.” Mike Beasley, who runs 5280 Strategies, said it is “really important” to avoid conflicts-of-interest and there are practices in place to prevent them. He said his contract requires him to flag possible conflicts as far in advance as possible.
Delaware – State Auditor Loses Bid to Have Procurement Charge Dropped
MSN – Randall Chase (Associated Press) | Published: 5/17/2022
A judge refused to dismiss a criminal charge accusing Delaware’s embattled state auditor of deliberately breaking up payments for a contract she entered into with a former campaign consultant in order to avoid compliance with state procurement law. Kathleen McGuiness, who is responsible for rooting out government fraud, waste, and abuse, was indicted on felony counts of theft and witness intimidation, and misdemeanor charges of official misconduct, conflict-of-interest, and noncompliance with procurement laws. McGuiness has denied any wrongdoing.
Florida – Florida Bans Protests Outside Homes
MSN – Lindsay Bever (Washington Post) | Published: 5/17/2022
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill to outlaw protests outside private residences, a move opponents say violates First Amendment rights. The new law will make it a misdemeanor to picket or protest outside a person’s house to “harass or disturb” that person. Violators will receive a warning, and those who do not stop may be arrested for unlawful residential picketing, a crime punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. Republicans and Democrats have been debating the legality of protesting outside the private residences of U.S. Supreme Court justices, and the White House has said such protests are fine when they are peaceful.
Florida – Florida Judge Blocks DeSantis’ Congressional Redistricting Effort
MSN – Gary Fineout (Politico) | Published: 5/11/2022
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ bid to remake the state’s congressional map was dealt a setback on after a state judge said he would block the plan because of the way it scattered Black voters among several districts. DeSantis personally pushed the GOP-led Legislature to approve the map, which boosts the number of Republican-held seats in the state. The map also dismantles the district held by U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, a Black Democrat. The map is facing a legal challenge by a coalition that argues it violates the state’s Fair Districts standards – voter-approved anti-gerrymandering amendments in the Florida Constitution.
Florida – Miami Heat Mayor Suarez’s Office Is Mum on Prime Courtside Seat at the Heat’s Playoff Game
MSN – Ben Carnack (Miami Herald) | Published: 5/18/2022
At a recent Miami Heat playoff game, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez was seated courtside. The county ethics code mandates that gifts exceeding $100 must be reported in quarterly financial disclosures. Former Mayor Tomás Regalado, who faced an ethics probe that dealt, in part, with Miami Heat tickets, said it is inappropriate for the current mayor to sit courtside at a playoff game, whether the ticket was gifted to Suarez or he purchased it himself.
Florida – Mystery Group Behind Ads in ’20 Central Florida Primary Must Reveal Donors, Judge Rules
The Black Chronicle – Annie Martin (Orlando Sentinel) | Published: 5/12/2022
A group that sent attack ads in a state Senate primary in Florida without disclosing its donors, must reveal its contributors and make its chairperson available for a deposition, a judge ruled. Though political committees are required to list their contributions publicly, Floridians for Equality and Justice listed just one donation, a $249,925 “starting balance” from a “dark money” nonprofit organization of the same name. Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Jose Rodriguez said that records that state Sen. Annette Taddeo seeks, including bank records, exist and are in the committee’s possession.
Georgia – Georgia County Under Scrutiny After Claim of Post-Election Breach
MSN – Emma Brown and Amy Gardner (Washington Post) | Published: 5/13/2022
A former elections supervisor in rural Coffee County, Georgia, told The Washington Post she opened her offices to a businessperson active in the election-denier movement to help investigate results she did not trust in the weeks after former President Trump’s 2020 defeat. Trump carried the conservative county by 40 points, but elections supervisor Misty Hampton said she remained suspicious of Joe Biden’s win in Georgia. Hampton made a video that went viral soon after the election, claiming to show Dominion Voting System machines, the ones used in her county, could be manipulated.
Georgia – Georgia’s Oxendine to Hand Over $128,000 to End Ethics Saga
WABE – Associated Press | Published: 5/12/2022
The Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission agreed to drop its campaign finance case against former state Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, who will hand over the $128,000 remaining in his campaign fund and admit no wrongdoing. The deal ends a years-long struggle over whether Oxendine broke state law by using campaign funds to buy a house, lease luxury cars, and join a private club. Some members of commission expressed frustration that Oxendine did not admit fault in the consent order.
Georgia – Lieutenant Governor Candidate Jones Hasn’t Disclosed Flights
MSN – Associated Press | Published: 5/16/2022
A Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in Georgia acknowledged he has been flying to campaign events on his family’s private plane without disclosing any donations or expenses related to the flights in campaign finance filings. A campaign spokesperson for state Sen. Burt Jones said the candidate planned to pay one lump sum after the May 24 primary for all flights taken. But state campaign finance law says candidates “must disclose (expenses made) on the campaign contribution disclosure report due for the reporting period in which the flight occurred.”
Illinois – Three-Peat: Chicago ranks no. 1 in Corruption, report finds
WTTW – Heather Cherone | Published: 5/11/2022
For the third year in a row, Chicago is America’s most corrupt city, and Illinois is the third-most corrupt state, according to an annual report from the University of Illinois at Chicago. The report is based on an analysis of the public corruption statistics published by the U.S. Department of Justice. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic that nearly shut down state and federal courts, 2020 was one of the most “significant” twelve months in the “startling saga of political and public corruption in Chicago and Illinois,” said the author of the report, Dick Simpson, a former Chicago City Council member.
Iowa – Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller to Return Illegal $50,000 PAC Campaign Contribution
MSN – Katie Akin (Des Moines Register) | Published: 5/18/2022
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller will return an illegal $50,000 campaign contribution from the Democratic Attorneys General Association. Iowa law prohibits statewide candidates from accepting donations from PACs until the regular legislative session ends and lawmakers had not adjourned when Miller accepted the donation on May 13.
Kansas – Wichita Ethics Board Members, Candidates Could Be Disqualified Under ‘Goofy’ Policy
MSN – Chance Swaim (Wichita Eagle) | Published: 5/17/2022
Quirks in Wichita’s ethics policy threaten to further delay a board that has been dormant for more than a year, stalling any investigations of potential misconduct by city officials. One empty board seat, the ethics officer position, stands between the passage and enforcement of the city’s ethics rules. But the three finalists for the position have either dropped out of the race or face disqualification. A prohibition on “active members” of political parties and nonpartisan political organizations disqualifies two of the three finalists, one of whom already dropped out of the race. The other finalist moved out of town and is no longer interested in the position.
Maryland – Baltimore Council President Nick Mosby Violated Ethics Law by Accepting Money from City Contractors Via Legal Defense Fund, Board Rules
MSN – Emily Opilo (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 5/12/2022
Baltimore City Council President Nick Mosby violated the city’s ethics ordinance by accepting money from persons doing business with the city through his legal defense fund. The ruling by the city’s Board of Ethics does not name the donors but both are considered “controlled donors” under the law, which bars elected officials from receiving contributions from such donors, solicited or otherwise. The board also concluded Mosby violated a provision of the law barring him from soliciting donations, directly or indirectly, from controlled donors.
Michigan – Feds Charge Ex-Romulus Mayor with Wire Fraud in Corruption Crackdown
Detroit News – Robert Snell | Published: 5/13/2022
Federal prosecutors charged the former mayor of Romulus with wire fraud for spending more than $15,000 in campaign funds on personal expenses. LeRoy Burcroff is the latest current or former public official charged during a more than decade-long federal assault on corruption within municipal government and organized labor around Metro Detroit. That crackdown has led to charges against more than 110 people and the convictions of the two past presidents of the United Auto Workers, former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, and 23 contractors and public officials in Macomb County.
Montana – State Won’t Appeal Ruling Striking Down Parts of New Law
Helena Independent Record – Seaborn Lawson | Published: 5/18/2022
The Montana attorney general’s office will not appeal a District Court ruling that found state lawmakers went to unconstitutional lengths to pass new campaigning laws. Judge Mike Menahan ruled lawmakers had added sections unrelated to the original intent of Senate Bill 319 in a late-session meeting without public participation, in violation of the Montana Constitution.
New York – Adams’ Top Aide Navigates Uncharted Path on New York Ethics Issues
Yahoo News – Sally Goldenberg and Joe Anuta (Politico) | Published: 5/17/2022
Attorney Frank Carone of the firm Abrams Fensterman is chief of staff to New York City Mayor Eric Adams. A recent public disclosure shows the firm has been actively lobbying the new mayoral administration. Carone faces numerous conflicts-of-interest as he undertakes an expansive role in City Hall. An analysis of the firm’s clients from last year found more than 40 whose financial interests are intertwined with municipal government. Abrams Fensterman’s network of clients sets up a situation with little recent precedent in New York.
New York – Corporate Campaign Donors Identify Themselves Thanks to New York Focus Nudge
New York Focus – Sam Mellins | Published: 5/12/2022
In the wake of reporting into the state Board of Election’s failure to act on possible violations of a campaign finance law meant to limit “dark money” in New York elections, the agency began enforcement in March. That yielded rapid results, recent figures show: compliance with the law’s disclosure requirements has increased more than threefold since the board acted. The law required limited liability companies (LLCs) that make political donations to submit a form listing their owners and how much of the company each one owns. But majority of donors who gave via LLCs were not aware of or simply ignored this requirement.
New York – Court Expert Draws More GOP-Friendly New York Political Maps
MSN – Michelle Price (Associated Press) | Published: 5/16/2022
A court-appointed expert released a draft of new congressional maps for New York state that are more favorable to Republicans than the original gerrymandered political maps drawn by Democrats. A New York court will take comment on the maps for two days before a final version is approved by a judge on May 20, with primary elections for congressional races and the state Senate now being held August 23. Adding to the redistricting tangle, the state’s Assembly and gubernatorial primaries are still scheduled for June 28.
Ohio – Cincinnati Launches New Office of Ethics and Good Government to Rebuild ‘Public Trust’
Spectrum News – Casey Weldon | Published: 5/14/2022
Cincinnati endured one of its most difficult periods two years ago as it watched one-third of city council arrested on federal corruption charges. Federal prosecutors accused City Hall of having a “culture of corruption.” The city has worked to help reshape that image, and one way is through the creation of the Office of Ethics and Good Government. Its job is to educate elected officials and city staff on ethics-related issues, ranging from conflicts-of-interest to campaign contributions. It also investigates suspected cases of impropriety submitted through a new hotline.
Ohio – Lawmaker Proposed $300M Handout to Nursing Homes; Then Raised $52,000 from their Liaisons
Yahoo News – Jake Zuckerman (Ohio Capital Journal) | Published: 5/12/2022
An Ohio lawmaker last year proposed allocating $300 million of federal COVID-19 relief funds, divvied up among the state’s nursing homes with no strings attached. Ten days later, Rep. Sara Carruthers received a $13,200 campaign contribution from the chief executive of a chain of 59 nursing homes, $13,200 from his business partner, and another $13,200 from the chief executive’s wife. Two weeks later, a lobbyist for an association of nursing homes that backed the bill gave her another $13,200. The four contributions together comprise nearly half of all Carruthers’ campaign fundraising in 2021.
Ohio – Leader of Columbus Green-Energy Ballot Measure Guilty of Falsifying Campaign Finance Report
Yahoo News – Bill Bush and Jordan Laird (Columbus Dispatch) | Published: 5/16/2022
The man who led the failed ProEnergy Issue 7 ballot initiative last November, which Columbus leaders called a blatant effort to grab taxpayer funds, was found guilty of filing a false campaign finance record in connection with the petition drive for a similar 2019 initiative. John Clark Jr. led the petition drive to get an initiative put on the ballot that, if it had passed, would have diverted more than $50 million of city money toward vague green-energy initiatives proposed by a group that would have been in sole control of the funds.
Ohio – Medicaid Director Owned Stock in Companies She Awarded Huge Contracts
Ohio Capital Journal – Marty Schladen | Published: 5/17/2022
Ohio Medicaid Director Maureen Corcoran’s ethics filings show she continued to own stock in three health care companies in 2021, the same year she negotiated and signed billion-dollar contracts with their subsidiaries. State ethics rules only require that officials such as Corcoran list all the stocks they own at least $1,000 worth of in a given year. So, it is impossible to know how heavily invested she is in those companies. Corcoran declined to file an affidavit disclosing her exact holdings in companies whose subsidiaries she was awarding contracts and she has refused to make those disclosures voluntarily.
Oregon – Rich Donors Take Major Advantage of a Loophole in Portland’s Public Campaign Financing System
OPB – Rebecca Ellis | Published: 5/12/2022
Portland’s public campaign finance program aims to reduce the influence of big money in city politics by limiting the contributions that participating candidates can accept. In return for capping donations at $250, candidates get their small donations matched nine-fold by the city. But the ability of wealthy donors to give unlimited amounts to PACs that support candidates is, this year’s election shows, a fundamental loophole in the city’s efforts to curb campaign spending and, in the process, broaden who can run for office.
South Dakota – South Dakota Report: Noem’s daughter got special treatment
MSN – Stephen Groves (Associated Press) | Published: 5/18/2022
State lawmakers unanimously approved a report finding South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem’s daughter got preferential treatment while she was applying for a real estate appraiser’s license in 2020. Noem has denied wrongdoing, despite holding a meeting that included her daughter, Kassidy Peters, and key decision-makers from the agency that was evaluating her application just days after the agency moved to deny her the license. After the meeting, Peters received another opportunity to demonstrate she could meet federal standards and was ultimately awarded the license.
Tennessee – Registry of Election Finance Declines to Investigate Rep. Sherrell’s Fire-Hall Checks
Tennessee Lookout – Sam Stockard | Published: 5/19/2022
The Tennessee Registry of Election Finance claimed it had been “weaponized” in a state House District race and refused to investigate a complaint that Rep. Paul Sherrell wrote checks to volunteer fire halls and asked for cash back. “What we’re being asked here is to assume that Mr. Sherrell is a crook, bottom line. We’re to assume he is conducting illegal activity …,” board member Tom Lawless said, because Sherrell bought ham breakfasts for firefighters. Nevertheless, the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance urged Sherrell to make contributions differently in the future and to document all donations.
Texas – AG Ken Paxton Refuses to Disclose His Property Addresses to the Texas Ethics Commission
MSN – Jay Root and Taylor Goldenstein (Houston Chronicle) | Published: 5/18/2022
The state police made him do it. That is the excuse Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton gives on his ethics disclosures in place of revealing, as required by law, the addresses of properties he owns in Austin and College Station. “Redacted for security purposes on request of TX DPS,” Paxton has written on every form since he began work as attorney general. But nothing in the law allows him to refuse to provide the addresses, and none of the parties involved could produce any records proving such a request was ever made.
Washington – Inside the Washington Legislative Workers’ Union Push and Building Frustration with Democratic Leadership
Seattle Times – Joseph O’Sullivan | Published: 5/17/2022
Washington lawmakers passed a bill aimed at setting up a process to allow at least some legislative workers to unionize. The legislation also lifts the state’s prohibition on collective bargaining for legislative workers beginning in 2024. House Bill 2124 creates the Office of State Legislative Labor Relations to research and make recommendations to lawmakers about how staffers might unionize, and which workers might be part of that group. Lawmakers and others acknowledge they will likely need to pass another bill next year before collective bargaining begins.
Washington DC – Judges Accused of Sex Discrimination, Bullying, Internal Survey Shows
MSN – Ann Marimow (Washington Post) | Published: 5/16/2022
Complaints in a workplace survey conducted for the federal trial and appeals courts in the nation’s capital, an institution regarded as a steppingstone to the U.S. Supreme Court detail instances of gender discrimination, bullying, and racial insensitivity, while underscoring the power imbalance between judges with life tenure and the assistants who depend on them for career advancement. Current and former employees who acknowledged having witnessed misconduct described their reluctance to file complaints against their superiors. They cited fears of retaliation and distrust that the federal judiciary’s system for workplace accountability, which tasks judges with policing one another, ultimately would resolve their concerns.
Washington DC – Trump Sells D.C. Hotel Lease to Miami Investment Group
MSN – Jonathan O’Connell (Washington Post) | Published: 5/11/2022
The Trump Organization completed the sale of its District of Columbia hotel lease on Pennsylvania Avenue to CGI Merchant Group and its partner Hilton Worldwide Holdings, which will operate the hotel as a Waldorf Astoria property. Calls for the lease to be revoked or for Trump to divest himself of his real estate assets grew louder after he entered office and foreign leaders, corporations, and Republican politicians booked rooms and parties at the hotel as part of their efforts to curry favor with Trump.
West Virginia – ‘Everyone Was Shocked’: How WV’s ethics laws allowed someone barred from lobbying to try to influence legislators anyway
Mountain State Spotlight – Ian Karbal | Published: 5/16/2022
The West Virginia Ethics Act bars certain public officials from lobbying for at least a year after they leave office. But as Evan Jenkins’ rapid flip from state Supreme Court justice to timber company attorney highlighted, the law leaves plenty of wiggle room. He was able to speak directly to lawmakers, as well as propose specific language to legislation, all within weeks of holding a powerful position in government.
Wisconsin – Wis. Democrats File First-of-Its-Kind Suit vs. Fake Trump Electors
MSN – Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) | Published: 5/17/2022
Three Democratic voters in Wisconsin, including two who served as electors for President Biden in 2020, filed suit against 10 supporters of Donald Trump in the state, arguing the group engaged in a civil conspiracy to violate state and federal law when they declared themselves presidential electors in 2020 even though Biden won the state’s popular vote. Wisconsin was one of five states won by Biden where Republican electors gathered December 14, 2020, and declared themselves “duly elected and qualified” – then sent signed certificates to Washington purporting to affirm Trump as the actual victor of their states.
May 18, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “Feds Dismiss Campaign Finance Complaint Against Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert” by Caitlyn Kim for Colorado Public Radio Georgia: “Lieutenant Governor Candidate Jones Hasn’t Disclosed Flights” by Associated Press for MSN Elections National: “Victories by Mastriano, Budd Show […]
National: “Feds Dismiss Campaign Finance Complaint Against Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert” by Caitlyn Kim for Colorado Public Radio
Georgia: “Lieutenant Governor Candidate Jones Hasn’t Disclosed Flights” by Associated Press for MSN
National: “Victories by Mastriano, Budd Show Potency of Trump’s False Stolen Election Claims in GOP” by Annie Linskey and David Weigel (Washington Post) for MSN
Wisconsin: “Wis. Democrats File First-of-Its-Kind Suit vs. Fake Trump Electors” by Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) for MSN
Arizona: “Arizona Senate to Investigate Wendy Rogers Over Social Media Post on Buffalo Shooting” by Ray Stern (Arizona Republic) for Yahoo News
New York: “Adams’ Top Aide Navigates Uncharted Path on New York Ethics Issues” by Sally Goldenberg and Joe Anuta (Politico) for Yahoo News
Ohio: “Medicaid Director Owned Stock in Companies She Awarded Huge Contracts” by Marty Schladen for Ohio Capital Journal
National: “How Facebook Funded a Clandestine War Against Regulation” by Cat Zakrzewski and Elizabeth Dwoskin (Washington Post) for MSN
Colorado: “Some Colorado Lobbyists Work for Both Sides at the Same Time” by Zack Newman for KUSA
New York: “Court Expert Draws More GOP-Friendly New York Political Maps” by Michelle Price (Associated Press) for MSN
May 16, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Georgia: “Georgia’s Oxendine to Hand Over $128,000 to End Ethics Saga” by Associated Press for WABE Maryland: “Baltimore Council President Nick Mosby Violated Ethics Law by Accepting Money from City Contractors Via Legal Defense Fund, Board Rules” by […]
Georgia: “Georgia’s Oxendine to Hand Over $128,000 to End Ethics Saga” by Associated Press for WABE
Maryland: “Baltimore Council President Nick Mosby Violated Ethics Law by Accepting Money from City Contractors Via Legal Defense Fund, Board Rules” by Emily Opilo (Baltimore Sun) for MSN
Ohio: “Lawmaker Proposed $300M Handout to Nursing Homes; Then Raised $52,000 from their Liaisons” by Jake Zuckerman (Ohio Capital Journal) for Yahoo News
Oregon: “Rich Donors Take Major Advantage of a Loophole in Portland’s Public Campaign Financing System” by Rebecca Ellis for OPB
National: “Jan. 6 Panel Subpoenas 5 House Republicans, Including Minority Leader” by Felicia Sonmez, Jacqueline Alemany, Leigh Ann Caldwell, and Mariana Sotomayor (Washington Post) for MSN
Illinois: “Three-Peat: Chicago ranks no. 1 in Corruption, report finds” by Heather Cherone for WTTW
Washington DC: “Trump Sells D.C. Hotel Lease to Miami Investment Group” by Jonathan O’Connell (Washington Post) for MSN
Florida: “Florida Judge Blocks DeSantis’ Congressional Redistricting Effort” by Gary Fineout (Politico) for MSN
May 13, 2022 •
National/Federal A 49-Year Crusade: Inside the movement to overturn Roe v. Wade MSN – Michael Scherer, Josh Dawsey, Caroline Kitchener, and Rachel Roubein (Washington Post) | Published: 5/7/2022 Soon after Donald Trump won the 2016 election, Leonard Leo, the head of […]
A 49-Year Crusade: Inside the movement to overturn Roe v. Wade
MSN – Michael Scherer, Josh Dawsey, Caroline Kitchener, and Rachel Roubein (Washington Post) | Published: 5/7/2022
Soon after Donald Trump won the 2016 election, Leonard Leo, the head of the conservative Federalist Society, met with the president-elect and his advisers with a list of six potential conservative nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court. Leo laid out a road map for Trump on the federal court system, potentially transforming the foundational understanding of rights in America. It was a moment that antiabortion activists had been working toward for decades: The highest reaches of Republican power finally focused, in unison, on achieving the once implausible goal of revisiting the jurisprudence of the 1960s and 1970s, including Roe v. Wade.
Congressman Probing Commanders Cancels Fundraiser Over Ethics Question
MSN – Daniel Lippman (Politico) | Published: 5/10/2022
U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi has been investigating the Washington Commanders as chairperson of a House oversight subcommittee. He is also raising money for his reelection. Those two facts collided when Krishnamoorthi canceled a fundraiser after a reporter questioned the event. The issue was whether it was inappropriate for a pair of lobbyists, Mike Manatos and Tom Manatos, to explicitly invite donors to the event to discuss with Krishnamoorthi the probe of the football team and its owner, Dan Snyder. Linking pleas for campaign money to specific legislative actions is not allowed.
Dem AGs Pledge to Hold the Line If Roe Falls
Politico – Alice Miranda Ollstein | Published: 5/9/2022
While attorney general races tend to have lower turnout and spending than gubernatorial contests, the state’s chief law enforcement office has long been a springboard for politicians. In this year’s races, the possible overturning of Roe v, Wade has become a central issue. Those running in red and purple states have pledged not to prosecute people under whatever abortion bans their legislators or governors impose, while those in blue states are vowing to keep local prosecutors at bay and preserve access to the procedure.
Elon Musk Says He Would Reverse Twitter Ban on Donald Trump
MSN – Faiz Siddiqui, Drew Harwell, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 5/10/2022
Elon Musk said he will reverse Twitter’s permanent ban of former President Trump if the Tesla chief executive follows through with his plan to buy the social media company. Twitter banned Trump in the wake of the January 6 riots, citing the risk of further violence. Musk said the decision to ban Trump from the platform was a mistake. The decision to do so alienated much of the country, and Trump still has a voice, Musk said. Twitter has said its efforts have been aimed at minimizing harm and improving the user experience by limiting exposure to hate speech and harassment.
GOP State Legislators Move to Police Social Media
Yahoo News – Reid Wilson (The Hill) | Published: 5/11/2022
Republican lawmakers in at least 18 states have considered bills that would impose penalties on social media companies for censorship or content limits based on ideological viewpoints. The specifics vary, but many of the proposals would allow users who believe their views have been censored or silenced to bring lawsuits in state courts. One industry insider said forcing social media outlets to justify their decisions to moderate specific instances of content, the bulk of which are made by computer algorithms, would open those companies to legal harassment.
Inside Mark Meadows’s Final Push to Keep Trump in Power
MSN – Michael Kranish (Washington Post) | Published: 5/9/2022
A review of Mark Meadows’ actions in a crucial three-week period culminating in the violent insurrection on January 6, 2021 – based on interviews, depositions, text messages, emails, congressional documents, recently published memoirs by key players and other material – shows how Meadows played a pivotal role in advancing Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Meadows’ moves are at the center of probes by both the House committee investigating the attack and the Justice Department, which is examining whether to press contempt-of-Congress charges against him and is conducting its own inquiry.
Judge Dismisses Trump’s Lawsuit Against Twitter
MSN – Cat Zakrzewski (Washington Post) | Published: 5/6/2022
A California judge dismissed a lawsuit that Donald Trump filed against Twitter, the latest blow to the former president’s battles with major tech companies over their decisions to suspend his accounts in the fallout of the attack on the U.S. Capitol. The lawsuit, which Trump initially filed last year along with suits targeting Google and Facebook, was viewed as part of a broader strategy to appeal to conservatives who have long argued social media companies unfairly censor their viewpoints.
Pelosi Sets $45,000 Minimum Yearly Salary for House Staff
MSN – Associated Press | Published: 5/6/2022
Addressing concerns about the working conditions for some Capitol Hill aides, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a $45,000 minimum annual salary for House staff and teed up for a vote a resolution that would pave the way for aides to join a union. While jobs on Capitol Hill are highly coveted and can lead to big salaries down the road, the work often involves grueling hours and low pay in a region where steep housing costs can leave little money for other necessities.
Supreme Court Leak Inquiry Exposes Gray Area of Press Protections
MSN – Jeremy Peters (New York Times) | Published: 5/7/2022
The U.S. Supreme Court in 1971 ruled the government could not prevent The New York Times from publishing the Pentagon Papers while the source of that leak, Daniel Ellsberg, was indicted by a federal grand jury for theft. The court is now grappling with the release of a draft opinion that sets the framework for overturning Roe v. Wade. Only this time the leak came from inside the building, and there is no law or code of conduct that suggests how an investigation into such a breach should proceed, or whether the journalists who brought the draft to light will be swept up in the kind of criminal investigation that top Republican lawmakers have demanded.
With High Court in Spotlight, Democrats Push Judicial Ethics Overhaul
MSN – Jacqueline Alemany (Washington Post) | Published: 5/10/2022
In the wake of revelations related to the U.S. Supreme Court, a group of liberal House and Senate Democrats is introducing new legislation to tighten judicial ethics laws, reflecting the rising anger on the left over the recent conduct of the high court’s conservative majority. A draft proposal calls for more disclosure, a binding code of conduct for the Supreme Court, and a new judicial recusal process. The Supreme Court is the only court in the country that is not required to abide by a judicial code of ethics.
Canada – MLA’s Motions to Improve Alberta Lobbyist Act Rejected by Committee
MSN – Michelle Bellefontaine (CBC) | Published: 5/8/2022
A committee of lawmakers reviewing Alberta’s Lobbyist Act voted against changes proposed by the province’s ethics commissioner, including the establishment of a registry to track meetings between lobbyists and public officeholders. The only motion accepted by the committee was a recommendation that government “take into account the importance of public transparency” when changing the act, which must be reviewed every five years. The provincial government will ultimately decide what it will accept when moving forward with changes to the law.
From the States and Municipalities
California – CalPERS Board Violated Open Meetings Law, Judge Rules. Ex-Board Member Wants More Information
Sacramento Bee – Wes Venteicher | Published: 5/9/2022
A judge ruled California Public Employees Retirement System’s Board of Administration violated open meetings law when it excluded the public from a discussion two years ago related to the exit of Ben Ming, its former investment chief. Meng quit after a conflict-of-interest complaint was filed over his personal investments in Blackstone, a private equity firm in which the pension fund also was invested. A notice published by the board said the meeting, held 12 days after Meng’s resignation, was closed so board members could discuss a “chief executive officer’s briefing on performance, employment, and personnel items.”
Colorado – Election-Denying Clerk Tina Peters, Deputy Belinda Knisley Barred from Overseeing 2022 Elections in Mesa County
MSN – Saja Hindi (Denver Post) | Published: 5/10/2022
For the second year in a row, a judge has ruled Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters and Deputy Clerk Belinda Knisley are barred from overseeing an election – this time, the June primaries and November general election. Peters, who disputes the 2020 presidential election result and is seeking the Republican nomination for secretary of state, is also facing multiple investigations surrounding allegations of an election equipment security breach and campaign finance violations, including 10 criminal counts. Knisley was also indicted by the grand jury and was suspended from her role at the county for a workplace investigation.
Florida – Appeals Court Reinstates Florida’s 2021 Election Law Provisions Struck Gown by Judge
MSN – Steven Lemongello (Orlando Sentinel) | Published: 5/6/2022
A federal appeals court overruled a judge who struck down much of Florida’s controversial 2021 election law, allowing the provisions to go into effect while a lawsuit makes its way through the courts. Judge Mark Walker ruled in March the Legislature intentionally discriminated against Black voters in drafting the law and ordered the state not to make any future changes to those provisions without his court’s approval. But three judges on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals granted the state’s request to appeal and overturn Walker’s ruling. The judges wrote the upcoming primary elections were too imminent for Walker to make such changes to the law.
Georgia – Challenge Over Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Eligibility Fails
Yahoo News – Kate Brumback (Associated Press) | Published: 5/6/2022
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger accepted a judge’s findings and said U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is qualified to run for reelection despite claims by a group of voters that she had engaged in insurrection. Administrative Law Judge Charles Beaudrot said Greene was eligible to run, finding the voters had not produced sufficient evidence to back their claims. After Raffensperger adopted the judge’s decision, the group that filed the complaint on behalf of the voters vowed to appeal.
Hawaii – Will Former Lawmakers’ Bribery Charges Lead to Broader Government Reform?
Honolulu Civil Beat – Blaze Lovell | Published: 5/9/2022
There has been a renewed focus this year in Hawaii on government ethics and corruption in the wake of criminal charges involving two former lawmakers. J. Kalani English and Ty Cullen both pleaded guilty accepting bribes as part of a scheme to influence legislation. The charges also led to the creation of a group to address government conduct. Now, lawmakers and many in the public will be looking to the Commission to Improve Standards of Conduct for proposals on how to tighten up ethics laws and increase government transparency ahead of the 2023 legislative session, which opens in January.
Kentucky – Andy Beshear Sues Over GOP Plan to Reduce His Power Over Ethics Commission Appointments
Yahoo News – Morgan Watkins (Louisville Courier-Journal) | Published: 5/6/2022
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear sued over legislation the Republican-run General Assembly passed that reduces his authority to appoint members to the Executive Branch Ethics Commission. The bill shifts Beshear’s power to the state’s constitutional officers, who are all Republicans. Beshear wants a judge to nix House Bill 334, which expands the ethics commission from five members to seven and gives the governor two appointments to the board while granting five other state officeholders one appointment each.
Maryland – Exclusive: U.S. congressman’s campaign may violate state election law
Yahoo News – Eric Cortellessa (Time) | Published: 5/8/2022
U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown wants to be Maryland’s top law enforcement officer, but his own campaign’s spending may violate state election law, according to campaign finance experts. Brown announced on October 25 that he would retire from Congress and run for state attorney general. Since then, he has used funds from his congressional campaign account to bankroll his bid for statewide office, a review of his financial disclosures shows. Meanwhile, Brown spent nothing from his state account to compensate the campaign’s staff in its first months of operation, the review found.
Michigan – ‘Massive Forgery Scheme’ Claims Rock Michigan Elections, Governor’s Race
Bridge Michigan – Jonathan Oosting | Published: 5/5/2022
A petition fraud scandal threatening the candidacy of Republican gubernatorial front-runner James Craig has spread to at least three other Michigan candidates accused of submitting forged signatures from the same circulators in their quest to make the primary ballot. Gubernatorial, congressional, and judicial candidates are required to submit voter signatures to qualify for the ballot, but experts say unusually high demand for paid circulators this spring led to a price spike that may have incentivized cheating or sloppy collections. State canvassers will soon decide who makes the ballot.
Michigan – Michigan Legislature Puts Term Limits Proposal on Ballot
MSN – David Eggert (Associated Press) | Published: 5/10/2022
The Michigan Legislature voted to put before voters a constitutional amendment to revise the state’s legislative term limits law and require state elected officials to disclose their personal financial information. Supporters of amending term limits say it would enable new lawmakers to focus on their job instead of immediately looking to run for higher office or find work outside the Legislature. Opponents say it is being mischaracterized as a proposal to improve term limits when it would double how many terms a House member could serve.
Mississippi – No More Anonymity, No Complaints During Election Season: Changes to city ethics complaints process coming
Yahoo News – Angele Latham (Jackson Sun) | Published: 5/5/2022
Changes may soon be coming to the way ethics complaints are handled against elected city officials in Jackson after council members voted on first reading to amend portions of the code of ethics to allow for the creation of an ethics board. Most notably, constituents may soon be unable to file complaints anonymously, and may only be able to file them outside of election season. The changes will become official if it is passed on second reading at the June city council meeting.
Nebraska – Pillen Beats Trump’s Candidate in Nebraska Governor Primary
ABC News – Grant Schulte (Associated Press) | Published: 5/11/2022
Republican voters in Nebraska picked Jim Pillen as their nominee for governor, siding with the University of Nebraska regent backed by the state’s outgoing governor over a rival supported by former President Trump and accused of groping multiple women. While Trump-endorsed candidates won primary races in West Virginia for the U.S. House, the statewide loss in Nebraska was a setback for the former president. Charles Herbster’s loss raises the stakes on other high-profile races in Pennsylvania and Georgia, where Trump has also intervened in campaigns.
New Jersey – Murphy Vetoes Bill Closing Bribery ‘Loopholes,’ Wants to Make the Law Tougher
MSN – Ted Sherman (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 5/10/2022
Gov. Phil Murphy conditionally vetoed a bill intended to close what its sponsors called a “loophole” in New Jersey’s corruption laws, which would make it clear it is illegal even for candidates to accept a bribe in the state. Murphy called for amendments that would make the bill even tougher. Those amendments would include charging anyone who facilitated or served as a go-between in setting up a bribe or payoff. The state Legislature voted unanimously to change the law to unequivocally state that bribery laws apply not only to public officials, but to candidates for public office as well.
New York – Ethics Commission Hits Back at Cuomo, Seeking $5M Book Repayment
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 5/9/2022
The Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) countersued ex-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, filing a court action seeking to force the repayment of $5.1 million in book proceeds paid to the former governor. In March, JCOPE ordered Cuomo to repay the money, but he has taken no steps to repay the book’s publisher. In the counterclaim, attorneys representing the commission asked that Cuomo be forced to repay the funds, and for an injunction barring Cuomo from disbursing the money in the meantime.
New York – For Nonprofits, a Voice in Lobbying Is Often Out of Reach Due to Rules
Albany Times Union – Brendan Lyons | Published: 5/9/2022
Small nonprofit and other grassroots organizations are pushing for a $10,000 registration threshold in New York for lobbying-related spending. Doubling the current limit would enable many of those organizations and individuals to engage in trying to influence public policy without the need to expend resources or money to comply with the state’s reporting requirements. Nonprofit New York compiled a policy brief that found only three percent of nonprofit groups engage in lobbying with many dissuaded to participate because they are not equipped to handle the complex lobbying reporting requirements and fear the penalties that result from missteps.
New York – Judge Lifts Contempt Ruling Against Trump, with Conditions
Yahoo News – Graham Kates (CBS News) | Published: 5/11/2022
A New York State judge lifted a civil contempt ruling levied against Donald Trump, but said the former president still needs to pay $110,000 in fines accrued and satisfy other conditions. Trump was held in contempt on April 25 after failing to comply with a subpoena requiring that he turn over documents to investigators conducting a financial fraud probe for New York Attorney General Letitia James. Trump was fined $10,000 per day through May 6, the date of his most recent filing in the case.
Ohio – City Worker Who Helped Convicted Cleveland Councilman Ken Johnson in Corruption Scheme Spared Prison Time
MSN – Corey Shaffer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 5/10/2022
A federal judge spared a former city of Cleveland employee from prison for his role in helping then-council member Kenneth Johnson carry out a long-running corruption scheme. U.S. District Court Judge John Adams sentenced Robert Fitzpatrick to three years of probation. Fitzpatrick cooperated with the FBI investigation into Johnson, who took Fitzpatrick in to live with him as a teenager and then manipulated him to fall in line with the corruption scheme.
Oregon – Candidates, Others Have to Reset Passwords to Oregon Campaign Finance System After Hack
Oregon Capital Journal – Lynne Terry | Published: 5/10/2022
About 1,100 people who use the Oregon secretary of state’s online campaign finance tracking system must reset their passwords following a ransomware attack against a web provider. The office said the hack did not affect state election data. Those affected account for roughly 6% of the database users, the office said. The office is notifying those affected they have to create new passwords. The ORESTAR system is separate from other electoral databases.
Oregon – Prison Club for Oregon’s Convicted Killers Investigated for Financial ‘Discrepancies’
MSN – Noelle Crombie (Portland Oregonian) | Published: 5/8/2022
The newsletters provide updates on the wholesome pursuits of a civic-minded club: barbecues, toy drives, and backpacks filled with school supplies for children in need. The group spearheads an annual holiday gift giveaway, ensuring those without families of their own do not feel left out. Its members oversee a six-figure fundraising juggernaut. But this is no Rotary Club. It is the Lifers’ Unlimited Club at the Oregon State Penitentiary where only convicted killers need apply, and now it is in trouble. State Department of Corrections officials confirmed they have halted club activities while they investigate “discrepancies” in its finances.
South Carolina – SC GOP Lawmaker Settles 133 Alleged Campaign Finance Violations for Fine, Public Reprimand
MSN – Zak Koeske (The State) | Published: 5/5/2022
A state lawmaker who faced more than 100 ethics charges related to his use of campaign money settled the accusations with the South Carolina House Ethics Committee. Rep. Jonathon Hill, who is not seeking reelection, entered into a consent order with the committee. Under the terms of the settlement, Hill will be fined $12,000 and receive a public reprimand. He has not been criminally charged. An outside audit of Hill’s campaign disclosure reports over a three-year period turned up numerous alleged violations of South Carolina ethics code.
Tennessee – Titans Stadium Push Shows Family Connections on Tennessee’s Capitol Hill
WTVF – Phil Williams | Published: 5/9/2022
The Tennessee Titans wanted a new stadium – a domed facility that could cost more than $2 billion – to replace the aging structure that opened almost 23 years ago. It put together a team of 15 lobbyists, including the wife of the powerful chairperson of the Senate Finance Committee and the daughter of the state’s Commissioner of Tourist Development. The lobbying effort is the latest example that reveals how the lines between public interest and personal interest can get blurred at the Capitol.
Virginia – Battling Yard Signs on a Quiet Corner in Alexandria
MSN – Emily Davies (Washington Post) | Published: 5/7/2022
Old Town Alexandria has in many ways stayed above the cultural fray that has dominated other parts of Northern Virginia over the past few years – avoiding explosive rallies over critical race theory like in nearby Loudoun County, for example. But dueling yard signs that appeared recently have brought the debate to the neighborhood. Many neighbors said the signs made public a sort of tension that is rarely articulated in an area proud of its understated brand of liberalism.
Virginia – State Supreme Court Vacancies Remain Unfilled During Political Standoff
Virginia Mercury – Allison Winter | Published: 5/9/2022
Two vacant seats in the Virginia Supreme Court that opened in the past year hang in the balance in the political standoff in the Legislature. State lawmakers said their negotiations continue but indicated they are no closer to resolution. Selecting justices is a constitutional duty of the General Assembly, which elects the justices by a majority vote. Once elected, a justice can serve for a 12-year term. In recent history Republican Legislatures have elected justices as a matter of course. But this year, the appointments are one of many political deadlocks in the current divided Legislature.
Virginia – Youngkin Retracts Job Offer to Indiana Official to Run Virginia DMV
MSN – Gregory Schneider and Laura Vozzella (Washington Post) | Published: 5/10/2022
Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration retracted a job offer to a former Indiana state official to run the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles after the chosen candidate was the subject of an exposé in The Indianapolis Star about allegations of drinking on the job and making inappropriate comments. The Star reported Peter Lacy “abruptly” resigned in April from his job as head of Indiana’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles a day after he allegedly appeared intoxicated at a departmental meeting.
May 6, 2022 •
National/Federal A Decision to Overturn Roe v. Wade Might Upend the Midterms MSN – Dan Balz, Colby Itkowitz, and Caroline Kitchener (Washington Post) | Published: 5/3/2022 Supporters of abortion rights and their Democratic allies predicted that Politico’s publication of a leaked […]
A Decision to Overturn Roe v. Wade Might Upend the Midterms
MSN – Dan Balz, Colby Itkowitz, and Caroline Kitchener (Washington Post) | Published: 5/3/2022
Supporters of abortion rights and their Democratic allies predicted that Politico’s publication of a leaked draft opinion by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito Jr. would reverberate through to the fall campaign. They said it could make the election a choice between Democratic and Republican governance that could ultimately hold down expected GOP gains. Countering that view were assertions by Republicans and opponents of abortion who said their supporters would be energized by a decision and issues such as inflation and crime will continue to influence voters’ decisions as much or more than abortion rights.
Draft Abortion Opinion Puts New Spotlight on Confirmation Hearings
MSN – Seung Min Kim (Washington Post) | Published: 5/4/2022
In the wake of a leaked draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, there is fresh scrutiny of the U.S. Supreme Court confirmation process, in which nominees say as little as possible and senators are left to parse their language on how they would rule. It is not just the increasingly predictable and evasive answers of nominees that are prodding some senators to conclude the hearings have become empty theater. More and more, the confirmation votes themselves seem a foregone conclusion, with senators hewing to the party line and many using their allotted time to launch political broadsides rather than seek information.
Former Top State Official to Plead Guilty for Helping Qatar
Yahoo News – Alan Sunderman and Jim Mustian (Associated Press) | Published: 4/27/2022
A former top-ranking State Department official will plead guilty for improperly helping Qatar influence U.S. policy and not disclosing on an ethics form gifts he received from a disgraced political fundraiser. Richard Olson, who was the State Department’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the end of the Obama administration, provided “aid and advice” to Qatar on lobbying activities in violation of a “revolving door” prohibition against such behavior for one year after leaving public service.
Gas Giants Have Been Ghostwriting Letters of Support from Elected Officials
Yahoo Finance – Chris D’Angelo (HuffPost) | Published: 5/2/2022
For the past several months, local officials in Virginia and North Carolina, primarily elected Republicans, have been peppering federal regulators with glowing letters in support of gas projects in their states. Internal emails show these letters all had something in common – they were ghostwritten by lobbyists and consultants of the two major pipeline firms behind those projects. The communications show how Williams Companies and TC Energy Corporation worked to boost political support for a number of natural gas infrastructure projects currently under federal review.
How a Billionaires Boys’ Club Came to Dominate the Public Square
MSN – Michael Scherer and Sarah Ellison (Washington Post) | Published: 5/1/2022
Technological change and the fortunes it created have given a small club of wealthy individuals the ability to play arbiter, moderator, and bankroller of not only the information that feeds the nation’s discourse but also the architecture that undergirds it. The information that courses over these networks is increasingly produced by publications controlled by fellow billionaires and other wealthy dynasties, who have filled the void of the collapsing profit-making journalism market with varying combinations of self-interest and altruism. It is a situation that has alarmed policy experts at both ends of the increasingly vicious ideological and partisan divides.
Jan. 6 Panel Wants Testimony from GOP Lawmakers Brooks, Biggs, Jackson
Yahoo News – Rebecca Beitsch (The Hill) | Published: 5/2/2022
The House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol is seeking voluntary testimony from three additional members of Congress who appeared to have some coordination with rioters and efforts to block President Biden’s electoral victory both before and after the attack. The letter to Rep. Mo Brooks notes former President Trump asked him to help keep him in office even after January 6. A letter to Rep. Andy Biggs references his involvement in discussions to secure presidential pardons in connection with efforts to unwind the 2020 election. A letter to Rep. Ronny Jackson points to exchanges between members of the Oath Keepers militia group citing the need to protect the lawmaker.
Judge Upholds Jan. 6 Committee Subpoena for RNC Records
Yahoo News – Kyle Cheney (Politico) | Published: 5/2/2022
A judge supported a House select committee’s effort to obtain internal Republican National Committee (RNC) data. In rejecting the RNC lawsuit, U.S. District Court Judge Tim Kelly said the committee had demonstrated its need for the party’s data on its fundraising emails between November 3, 2020, and January 6, 2021, when the RNC and Trump campaign sent supporters messages falsely suggesting the election was stolen. The committee contends those emails helped sow the seeds of the violence that erupted on January 6. The decision is a major victory for the panel and could open the doors to reams of internal RNC data held by Salesforce, a vendor the RNC used to run email fundraising campaigns.
Panel Sends FEC Nominee Dara Lindenbaum to Senate Floor
MSN – Kate Ackley (Roll Call) | Published: 5/3/2022
The Senate Rules and Administration Committee approved the nomination of Dara Lindenbaum to the FEC. Lindenbaum, an election lawyer, would fill the seat of Steven Walther, an independent who was picked by Democrats. Lindenbaum said she would recuse herself for two years from cases involving her own clients or those of her firm. Her client roster includes Stacey Abrams, who is running for governor this year and ran in 2018, as well as other federal, state, and local candidates and political committees.
Trump Officials Muzzled CDC on Church Covid Guidance, Emails Confirm
MSN – Dan Diamond (Washington Post) | Published: 4/28/2022
Trump White House officials in May 2020 removed public health advice urging churches to consider virtual religious services as the coronavirus spread, delivering a messaging change sought by the president’s supporters, according to emails from former top officials. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released reports saying the virus had killed three and infected dozens at church events in Arkansas and health experts had warned houses of worship had become hot spots for virus transmission. But Trump officials wrote they were frustrated by “problematic” advice the CDC had already posted. The guidance published by CDC did not include recommendations about offering virtual or drive-in options for religious services.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – A Top Ducey Aide Raised Nearly $13k from Lobbyists Whose Cash He Promised to Shun
Arizona Mirror – Dillon Rosenblatt | Published: 5/3/2022
When Matt Gress, the budget director for Gov. Doug Ducey, launched his campaign for the Arizona House in December, he promised not to accept any contributions from lobbyists during the legislative session to avoid the appearance his campaign might influence his work for the state. His first campaign finance report in 2022 shows he did not follow through on that promise.
California – ‘Pay to Play’ Governor Behest Payment Contracting Bill Killed by Senate Democrats
California Globe – Evan Symon | Published: 4/29/2022
A bill that would have prohibited state agencies in California from awarding contracts to companies that made behest payments on the governor’s behalf failed to pass the Senate Governmental Organization Committee. Senate Bill 1367 would have specifically prohibited state agencies from awarding a contract for which the agency had not secured at least three competitive bids or proposals to a company that made a payment at the behest of the governor in the preceding 12 months.
Colorado – Colorado Lawmakers Define ‘Major Purpose’ in Campaign Finance Laws, Clarify Who Must File Reports
Colorado Politics – Marianne Goodland | Published: 5/4/2022
A bill in the Colorado Senate would change campaign finance laws pertaining to issue committees, which deal with ballot measures. The bill’s main purpose is to define “major purpose” in campaign finance statutes and the parameters under which it would apply, particularly when it comes to issue committees. Senate Bill 237 would establish clear thresholds on spending, above which an organization would qualify as having a “major purpose” of supporting a ballot measure and which would trigger registration as an issue committee, as well as a requirement to file campaign finance reports.
Florida – Disney’s Special Tax District Pushes Back Against Law That Would Dissolve It
MSN – Lori Rozsa and Beth Reinhard (Washington Post) | Published: 4/28/2022
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis assailed Disney for siding with the LGBTQ community over a controversial law. But if DeSantis is looking to reshape Disney’s operations and its uniquely powerful control in the state, he may come up short. The details of the state’s dissolution of Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District are still being hashed out behind closed doors. But Reedy Creek is not waiting. The special taxing district, which encompasses most of Disney’s Central Florida properties and allows Disney to effectively self-govern, is already pushing back, indicating it plans to fight the dissolution of a 1967 compact with the state.
Georgia – City Fires Longtime Officials Who Were Mentioned During Bicker’s Corruption Trial
WSB – Richard Belcher | Published: 5/4/2022
The city of Atlanta fired two longtime city officials whose names came up in testimony during the Mitzi Bickers’ bribery trial. The star prosecution witness testified that Bickers, a former campaign aide to then-Mayor Kasim Reed, who later worked for his administration, told the witness that Cotena Alexander and Rita Braswell were “our people” at City Hall. Bickers was convicted of eight counts of bribery, money laundering.
Georgia – Stacey Abrams Switches Gears from Campaign Fundraising to Aiding Abortion Rights
MSN – Eugene Scott (Washington Post) | Published: 5/4/2022
Stacey Abrams, one of the Democratic Party’s most notable fundraisers, paused fundraising for her Georgia gubernatorial race to redirect funds to abortion rights groups after a draft Supreme Court opinion signaling the end to a constitutional right to abortion was made public. Abrams’ ability to temporarily redirect funds to groups working to expand abortion access is thought to be possible in part because she regularly beats her main GOP competitors, Gov. Brian Kemp and former U.S. Sen. David Perdue, in fundraising.
Georgia – Trump Election Probe Special Grand Jury Selected in Atlanta
MSN – Kate Brumback (Associated Press) | Published: 5/2/2022
A special grand jury was selected for the investigation into whether former President Trump and others illegally tried to influence the 2020 election in Georgia. The investigation has been underway since early last year, and Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis took this unusual step to help it along. She noted in a letter to the chief judge that the special grand jury would be able to issue subpoenas to people who have refused to cooperate otherwise.
Idaho – Experts: Lawmaker rape case a ‘rare victory’ for sexual assault survivors
Idaho Press – Rebecca Boone (Associated Press) | Published: 4/30/2022
When a legislative intern came forward with rape allegations against an Idaho lawmaker last year, she was subjected to months of online harassment and abuse. She later testified about the attack at an ethics hearing, and some of the lawmaker’s supporters filmed her and chased her through the statehouse. The young woman took the stand to testify in his criminal trial and became so distraught she fled the courtroom. Aaron von Ehlinger’s rape conviction was a rare victory for prosecutors in a criminal justice system that can be fraught with trauma for sexual assault survivors, experts say.
Illinois – New Chicago IG Asked to Investigate City Clerk Anna Valencia’s Lobbying Connections
MSN – Mary Ann Ahern (WMAQ) | Published: 4/27/2022
For the first time in months, the city of Chicago has a new inspector general as Deborah Witzburg was unanimously approved for the position. Witzburg now officially replaces Joe Ferguson, who resigned after publicly criticizing Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration. One of her first acts in office will be to potentially look into City Clerk Anna Valencia’s office, with Ald. Silvana Tabares asking the new inspector general to investigate allegations the secretary of state candidate and her husband Reyahd Kazmi violated state lobbying rules.
Kansas – Kansas Ethics Panel to Redo Hearing After Questions Over Director’s Law License, Statehouse Probe
Yahoo News – Andrew Bahl (Topeka Capital-Journal) | Published: 4/27/2022
The Kansas Government Ethics Commission moved to grant a new hearing in a case involving an Overland Park civic group, after questions were raised about the law license of the agency’s director, Mark Skoglund. The move comes weeks after Skoglund’s law license was used as pretense by legislators to make a policy change that would have effectively removed him from office. While lawmakers eventually backed off on the plan, it was later revealed the proposal was offered as the ethics panel was investigating one of the state’s most high-profile groups and, potentially, Republican legislators.
Kentucky – Supreme Court Denies Former Top KY Dem’s Request to Overturn Campaign Finance Conviction
MSN – Austin Horn (Lexington Herald Leader) | Published: 5/4/2022
The U.S. Supreme Court denied Jerry Lundergan’s request to overturn his conviction for illegally funneling $200,000 to his daughter’s 2014 political campaign. The former Kentucky Democratic Party chairperson was convicted in 2018 for the contributions made through a corporation to daughter Alison Lundergan Grimes in her 2014 challenge against U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell. Lundergan’s petition argued the federal ban on corporate contributions is unconstitutional when applied to donations from a close family member.
Louisiana – ‘I See How This Looks’: Council grills top Cantrell official over ‘smart cities’ deal
The Lens – Michael Isaac Stein | Published: 4/27/2022
New Orleans City Council members grilled a top city official, Jonathan Rhodes, over a now-abandoned “smart cities” project he played a central role in developing, and which has become the subject of a formal council investigation over potential contract-rigging and conflicts-of-interest. The council formally requested the city’s inspector general to open an investigation into New Orleans’ bidding process. Questions have mounted about the process that led the city to award the project to a consortium of companies called Smart+Connected NOLA. Rhodes had been in contact with the consortium for months before the request for proposals was released and worked with a consultant that is partnered with those same companies.
Maryland – Treasurer Charged with Embezzlement from Annapolis Campaign Committee
Baltimore Sun – Dan Belson (Capital Gazette) | Published: 5/4/2022
The Office of the State Prosecutor in Maryland announced it filed embezzlement charges against the treasurer of a Democratic political committee for Annapolis-area candidates, alleging she deposited more than $4,000 in campaign funds into a personal bank account. Prosecutors allege Alexandra Gilbreath, treasurer of Team 30 Slate, deposited funds from the committee into her personal Venmo account for an almost three-month span in 2018. She then used the funds for personal expenses, charging papers say. Prosecutors also accuse Gilbreath of failing to file or amend four campaign finance reports for the committee.
Massachusetts – Former State Police Head and Three Others Violated Ethics Law by Altering Arrest Report for Judge’s Daughter, Ethics Commission Alleges
MSN – Andrea Estes (Boston Globe) | Published: 4/29/2022
Richard McKeon, the former head of the Massachusetts State Police, violated the state’s conflict-of-interest law when he ordered a trooper to remove embarrassing remarks from the arrest report of a judge’s daughter, lawyers for the state Ethics Commission charged. Commission lawyers also allege Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early Jr., as well as his First Assistant Jeffrey Travers, and State Police Major Susan Anderson abused their positions to help the judge after his daughter was arrested and charged with operating under the influence of alcohol and drugs. They asked the Ethics Commission’s hearing officer to find the four violated the law and impose fines up to $20,000 apiece.
Michigan – FBI Raids Home in New Public Corruption Probe in Metro Detroit
Detroit News – Robert Snell and Mike Martindale | Published: 5/3/2022
Federal agents arrested two Wayne County employees accused of using taxpayer money to buy power equipment worth more than $1.7 million they later sold for personal profit. The allegations against Wayne County Roads Division manager Kevin Gunn and foreman John Gibson involved 596 generators and other power equipment that was never supplied or used by the county. The alleged scheme involved Gunn soliciting county vendors to buy generators, lawnmowers, chainsaws, and backpack blowers from area retailers. The case marks the latest federal investigation of corruption within the ranks of government in Metro Detroit.
Minnesota – Minneapolis City Council Blocks Chamber Consulting Gift to Improve Mayor Frey’s Office Efficiency
Minneapolis Star Tribune – Liz Navratil | Published: 4/28/2022
Mayor Jacob Frey cannot receive consulting services from the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce after a city council vote fell one short of the number that he needed to accept the gift. The chamber intended to loan a staffer to the mayor’s office for several weeks in hopes she could advise the office on how to improve their efficiency. Some council members raised concerns about the arrangement, noting the chamber supported a ballot initiative last fall that granted the mayor more power over the city’s daily operations.
Mississippi – Governor Vetoes Bill Tweaking Campaign Finance Law
Daily Journal – Taylor Vance | Published: 5/4/2022
The way Mississippi holds its politicians accountable for skirting state campaign finance law is convoluted with large gaps in the enforcement process. It appears that will not change anytime soon. Gov. Tate Reeves vetoed legislation that would have transferred the power to levy fines against candidates who fail to file campaign finance reports on time from the state Ethics Commission to the Mississippi secretary of state’s office. The snag in the current process is that it forces three different state organizations to share responsibilities for issuing fines, leading to a confusing process.
New Jersey – A Toxic Culture Exists in N.J. Politics, Campaigns, Experts Say. This Lesson Aims to Prevent Harassment.
MSN – Susan Livio (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 4/29/2022
Three out of four people who are targeted with unwelcome sexual remarks or physical contact at work never file a sexual harassment complaint, according to experts who have studied the issue. For people who work on a political campaign or have a job in New Jersey politics, the YWCA of Northern New Jersey and New Jersey State Bar Association Foundation created a video tutorial to let everyone to know that “toxic culture” is not acceptable. The video, made with the help of some of the state’s most prominent women in politics, will be sent to every campaign and political body that can be located, beginning in June.
New York – Gov. Hochul Taps Rep. Antonio Delgado as New Lieutenant Governor
Gotham Gazette – Brigid Bergin | Published: 5/3/2022
U.S. Gov. Kathy Hochul moved to fill the vacant lieutenant governor position, tapping U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado to take the role. Hochul is the first woman to serve as governor of New York. Delgado is the first person of color to represent the 19th Congressional District. He is the first person of African American and Hispanic descent to be the state’s lieutenant governor. A representative of a predominantly white and rural congressional district, Delgado has emphasized his ability to work across the aisle. His campaign website touts the two awards he won for his bipartisanship from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
New York – Hochul Pens Legal Path for Former Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin to Drop Off Primary Ballot
Yahoo News – Rob Hackford (WGRZ) | Published: 5/2/2022
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed legislation that gives disgraced former Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin a legal path to get off the state’s primary ballot. Hochul’s signature came almost immediately after the Legislature got it passed despite a limited timeline and political criticism. The law allows any candidate for local, state, or federal office to remove themselves from a ballot if they have had an accusatory instrument filed against them in state court; had a criminal complaint or indictment filed against them in federal court; been convicted at any time after they are designated or nominated.
New York – Judge Won’t Revive NY Political Maps That Favored Democrats
Yahoo News – Marina Villeneuve (Associated Press) | Published: 5/4/2022
A federal judge refused to order New York to hold its congressional and state Senate primaries this spring using district maps declared unconstitutional by state judges, saying a legal effort by Democrats to revive the maps looked unlikely to succeed. Replacement maps are now being drawn by an independent scholar at Carnegie Mellon University under the supervision of a state judge. The judge ordered the state’s primaries for Congress and state Senate moved from June to August so the redistricting process would have enough time to play out.
New York – Trump Grand Jury Ending in N.Y. with No Charges Against Ex-President
MSN – Shayna Jacobs, Josh Dawsey, and Jonathan O’Connell (Washington Post) | Published: 4/29/2022
A New Yor City grand jury that was convened late last year to hear evidence against Donald Trump was set to expire, closing a chapter in a lengthy criminal investigation that appears to be fizzling out without charges against the former president, people familiar with matter said. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who took office in January, inherited a probe launched by his predecessor, Cyrus Vance Jr., who was convinced there was a case against Trump for crimes related to manipulating the value of property assets to secure tax advantages or better loan rates.
North Carolina – Federal Court Considers Ruling That Blocked Madison Cawthorn Eligibility Challenge
Yahoo News – Gary Robertson (Associated Press) | Published: 5/4/2022
A federal appeals court questioned whether a lower court got it right when it blocked a challenge of U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn’s candidacy by voters who cited a section of the Constitution addressing insurrection as disqualifying him. Three judges on the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in a lawsuit that Cawthorn filed to derail the formal challenge sent to the State Board of Elections in North Carolina from going forward. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Myers ruled for Cawthorn in March and prevented the board from formally examining whether he should remain on ballots, and the voters appealed.
Ohio – A Limited Ban on Developer Campaign Donations Goes into Effect This Month
WVXU – Becca Costello | Published: 5/4/2022
A ban on some campaign donations to Cincinnati City Council members and the mayor takes effect on May 26. Interim City Manager John Curp recently approved regulations for the “solicitation ban” the council passed last year. The rules prohibit sitting council members and the mayor from soliciting or accepting campaign donations from someone with active business at the council, starting from the day the ordinance is filed with the council clerk. A new Office of Ethics and Good Government has been working on the regulations since last fall.
Ohio – Election 2022: JD Vance wins Ohio’s GOP Senate primary
MSN – Jill Colvin and Julie Carr Smyth (Associated Press) | Published: 5/4/2022
“Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance won Ohio’s contentious Republican U.S. Senate primary on, buoyed by Donald Trump’s endorsement in a race that was an early test of the former president’s hold on his party as the midterm season kicks into high gear. A onetime critic of Trump, Vance spent much of the campaign behind in the polls. But an endorsement from Trump pushed him to frontrunner status and the two men downplayed Vance’s past scathing criticism of the former president, with Vance saying he was wrong. He now faces Democrat Tim Ryan in the general election race to fill the seat being vacated by retiring U.S. Sen. Rob Portman.
Tennessee – Campaign Finance Reform Bill Passes After McNally Issues Rebuke of Dark-Money Groups
Yahoo News – Adam Friedman (Tennessean) | Published: 4/28/2022
Tennessee lawmakers passed House Bill 1201, which requires 501(c)4s, often considered “dark money” organizations, to disclose any expenses over $5,000 in the 60 days leading up to an election when using candidate names and images. The bill’s final version would enhance several disclosure laws around campaign service companies and make various changes to increase transparency with the Registry of Election Finance. Some of the provisions directly respond to actions by former speaker and current Rep. Glen Casada and former Rep. Robin Smith. In March, Smith pleaded guilty to a federal wire fraud charge.
Texas – Lobby Ordinance Needs Revision to Cover Virtual Meetings
Austin Monitor – Jo Clifton | Published: 5/4/2022
Auditors have found that while Austin’s registered lobbyists are largely complying with city regulations, there is one significant gap in the reporting requirements. Although lobbyists are required to report their in-person meetings, no such requirement exists for virtual meetings, according to a report discussed at a city council committee. Some offices use an electronic form while others use the electronic calendars to keep up with virtual lobbyist meetings, but nothing in city code requires either the lobbyist or the person being lobbied to keep a record.
Vermont – After Years in Committee Limbo, a Statewide Ethics Code Is Finally Adopted in Vermont
VTDigger.org – Sarah Mearhoff | Published: 5/4/2022
Gov. Phil Scott signed a bill that establishes a code of ethics in Vermont. Senate Bill 171 establishes baseline ethics rules for public officials in state government. It sets boundaries around conflicts-of-interest, preferential treatment, gifts, outside employment, the use of state employment for personal gain, among other provisions. It also protects whistleblowers from retaliation. Before the bill passed, Vermont was one of only five states without statewide codes of ethics for officials.
Virginia – Youngkin’s Move to Force Loudoun School Board Elections Called ‘Troubling’
MSN – Gregory Schneider and Laura Vozzella (Washington Post) | Published: 4/30/2022
Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s attempt to force the entire Loudon County School Board to face new elections this fall, shortening the terms of most of its members, stunned many political observers as an intrusion into local election integrity without modern precedent in Virginia. The plan, aimed at a school board that Youngkin has made a constant political target, initially won approval from the Republican-controlled House. But the Democratic-controlled Senate killed it, with one Republican senator joining the vote against a measure he called “troubling.”
Washington – Republican Spokane County Commissioner Candidate Gets Partial Exemption from Campaign Finance Requirements
Yahoo News – Colin Tiernan (Spokane Spokesman-Review) | Published: 4/29/2022
The Public Disclosure Commission voted to allow Kim Plese, a Republican candidate for Spokane County commissioner, to withhold the names of clients who spent more than $12,000 at her printing business for a one-year time-period, so long as those clients are not governmental entities or candidates for elected office. Washington law requires candidates for elected office to disclose a wide range of financial information. In Plese’s case, that means sharing recent transaction records for the business she owned for more than 30 years, Plese Printing and Marketing. Plese did not want to share records of sales greater than $12,000.
Washington DC – Trump Organizations Agree to Pay $750,000 to Settle Lawsuit with District
MSN – Keith Alexander (Washington Post) | Published: 5/3/2022
The Trump Organization and Trump’s Presidential Inaugural Committee agreed to pay the District of Columbia $750,000 to settle a lawsuit the city filed alleging the organizations misused nonprofit funds to benefit the former president and his family. The city filed a lawsuit in 2020 alleging the Inaugural Committee, a nonprofit corporation, coordinated with Trump’s family to overpay for event space in the Trump International Hotel and even paid for space on days when it did not hold events, among other malfeasance.
May 5, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “Panel Sends FEC Nominee Dara Lindenbaum to Senate Floor” by Kate Ackley (Roll Call) for MSN Arizona: “A Top Ducey Aide Raised Nearly $13k from Lobbyists Whose Cash He Promised to Shun” by Dillon Rosenblatt for Arizona […]
National: “Panel Sends FEC Nominee Dara Lindenbaum to Senate Floor” by Kate Ackley (Roll Call) for MSN
Arizona: “A Top Ducey Aide Raised Nearly $13k from Lobbyists Whose Cash He Promised to Shun” by Dillon Rosenblatt for Arizona Mirror
Kentucky: “Supreme Court Denies Former Top KY Dem’s Request to Overturn Campaign Finance Conviction” by Austin Horn (Lexington Herald Leader) for MSN
Ohio: “A Limited Ban on Developer Campaign Donations Goes into Effect This Month” by Becca Costello for WVXU
North Carolina: “Federal Court Considers Ruling That Blocked Madison Cawthorn Eligibility Challenge” by Gary Robertson (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
New York: “Gov. Hochul Taps Rep. Antonio Delgado as New Lieutenant Governor” by Brigid Bergin for Gotham Gazette
Vermont: “After Years in Committee Limbo, a Statewide Ethics Code Is Finally Adopted in Vermont” by Sarah Mearhoff for VTDigger.org
Texas: “Lobby Ordinance Needs Revision to Cover Virtual Meetings” by Jo Clifton for Austin Monitor
New York: “Judge Won’t Revive NY Political Maps That Favored Democrats” by Marina Villeneuve (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
April 29, 2022 •
National/Federal Amid the War in Ukraine, PR Firms Defend Russian-Tied Clients MSN – Hailey Fuchs (Politico) | Published: 4/26/2022 Several wealthy businesspeople from Eastern Europe have turned to public relations professionals to help navigate press coverage emanating from Russia’s assault on […]
Amid the War in Ukraine, PR Firms Defend Russian-Tied Clients
MSN – Hailey Fuchs (Politico) | Published: 4/26/2022
Several wealthy businesspeople from Eastern Europe have turned to public relations professionals to help navigate press coverage emanating from Russia’s assault on Ukraine. It has created a unique business opportunity for Madison Avenue and beyond. They want to make sure the press does not tie them to the Kremlin or describe them as oligarchs. Whereas K Street and some law firms have worked to distance themselves from Russian interests, public relations professionals have stepped in to help illuminate the distinctions between those businesspeople tied to Putin and those who want nothing to do with him.
Bill Subjecting U.S. Judges to More Financial Disclosure Passes Congress
Yahoo News – Nate Raymond (Reuters) | Published: 4/27/2022
Legislation that would subject U.S. Supreme Court justices and federal judges to tougher disclosure requirements for their financial holdings and stock trades passed the House in a rare show of bipartisanship. The bill, approved on a voice vote after winning Senate passage in February, would make it easier for the public to see if a member of the federal judiciary has a financial conflict-of-interest warranting recusal from hearing a case. Lawmakers introduced the bill after The Wall Street Journal reported more than 130 federal judges had failed to recuse themselves from cases involving companies in which they or their family members owned stock.
Democrats Ramp Up Investigation into Impact of Disinformation on Elections
MSN – Jacqueline Alemany (Washington Post) | Published: 4/21/2022
House Democrats are seeking information from officials in key battleground states about their efforts to combat “lies and conspiracy theories” that could damage the integrity of federal elections as part of a broader investigation into the “weaponization of misinformation and disinformation” in the electoral process. The leaders of the House Oversight and Reform and House Administration committees sent letters to election officials in Florida, Arizona, Texas, and Ohio – all Republican-led states – requesting the information while noting their concern about new laws affecting election administration.
Ethics of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Other Justices Questioned at Hearing
MSN – Ella Lee (USA Today) | Published: 4/28/2022
Experts and lawmakers questioned how strict ethics rules should be for U.S. Supreme Court justices, a topic that has gained importance recently with revelations that Ginni Thomas, the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, supported efforts to challenge the 2020 presidential election results. But the discussion at a House subcommittee hearing largely split along party lines. Republicans accused reform proponents of partisan and racial attacks against Justice Thomas. Democrats pointed to ethical lapses of justices appointed by both parties and the importance of the appearance of impartiality, in addition to impartiality as defined by law.
Feds Could Accept Donations of Up to $10K for Legal Funds Under First-Ever Ethics Rule
Government Executive – Eric Katz | Published: 4/22/2022
The Office of Government Ethics (OGE) issued first-of-its-kind guidelines for federal employees who accept donations to pay for job-related legal fees, easing the restrictions on receiving gifts that the workers typically face. The proposed rule followed high-profile Trump administration officials drawing scrutiny for their use of such funds. The OGE said the rule, while expanding the universe of individuals from whom federal employees can accept gifts, would help avoid perceptions of civil servants using their public office for private gain.
GOP Texts Cast Renewed Spotlight on Post-2020 Election Efforts
MSN – Jacqueline Alemany and Felicia Sonmez (Washington Post) | Published: 4/25/2022
Newly revealed text messages between then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and congressional Republicans including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene cast a renewed spotlight on communication between the Trump White House and allies determined to overturn the results of the 2020 election or stoke chaos in its aftermath. The texts involving dozens of GOP members of Congress prompted calls for a panel investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol to reconsider issuing subpoenas or other punitive measures against lawmakers who were involved with peddling dubious legal theories that might have contributed to the deadly assault.
McCarthy Said Trump Acknowledged ‘Some Responsibility’ for Attack on Jan. 6
Seattle Times – Alexander Burns and Neil Vigdor (New York Times) | Published: 4/22/2022
Then-House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy told Republican lawmakers in the days after the attack on the U.S. Capitol that former President Trump acknowledged he bore “some responsibility” for what happened that day. The audio, obtained by The New York Times, is part of a series of revelations about GOP leaders’ private condemnations of Trump in the days after his supporters stormed the Capitol. The revelation comes as congressional investigators scour for evidence of Trump’s involvement in his supporters’ failed attempt to block the official certification of his loss in the 2020 election.
Paid Protesters, Free Lunches and Backroom Chats: Inside the menthol lobbying machine
Bureau of Investigative Journalism – Emily Baumgaertner (Los Angeles Times), Ben Stockton, and Ryan Lindsay | Published: 4/25/2022
Menthol cigarettes are the choice of 85% of Black smokers, the result of decades of targeted marketing in Black communities. Cities have banned the sale of menthol-flavored cigarettes. As the Food and Drug Administration considers a nationwide ban, the owner of the country’s most popular menthol brand has waged a huge lobbying and public relations campaign to keep them in the hands of smokers. An investigation reveals how consultants working for Reynolds American have exploited concerns about police brutality against Black citizens and at times failed to declare their links to the industry.
Rep. Ronny Jackson’s Campaign Paid for Dues at Private Social Club
MSN – Chris Marquette (Roll Call) | Published: 4/25/2022
U.S. Rep. Ronny Jackson tapped his campaign account for more than $2,300 in costs associated with membership at a private social club in Texas, campaign finance records show. Jackson spent campaign donor money at the posh Amarillo Club on what were described in some disclosures to the FEC as membership fees or dues. It is illegal to spend campaign funds for personal purposes. “These costs are strictly associated with campaign and fundraising events,” Casey Nelson, a spokesperson for Jackson, said in a statement.
Trump Officials Overruled Pentagon to Approve Pandemic Loan, Emails Show
MSN – Yeganeh Torbati and Jeff Stein (Washington Post) | Published: 4/27/2022
Senior Trump administration officials overruled Pentagon staffers to provide a politically connected trucking firm with hundreds of millions of dollars in pandemic aid after a concerted lobbying effort, according to documents released by House Democrats. Career employees at the Defense Department decided they should not certify Yellow Corp. was critical to maintaining national security, which would mean the company could not qualify for a loan program created by Congress, the investigation found. But the Trump appointees ignored that determination after a phone call between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
Twitter Has Been Focused on ‘Healthy Conversations.’ Elon Musk Could Change That
MSN – Sarah Ashley O’Brien and Clare Duffy (CNN) | Published: 4/26/2022
Twitter has banned many accounts promoting abuse and spam, added labels for false or misleading information, and launched a team dedicated to studying and increasing transparency around the technology that determines what content is promoted on the site. But some critics say the work Twitter has done in recent years could be unraveled now that Elon Musk acquired Twitter in a deal worth about $44 billion. Twitter has an outsized influence in the online (and offline) world because it is popular among influential figures, and because it has often acted as a model for other platforms on how to address thorny harmful content issues.
Canada – Conservatives Ask If Trudeau Used ‘Get Out of Jail Free Card’ Before 2016 Aga Khan Vacation
CBC – Staff | Published: 4/25/2022
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) examined the possibility of charging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with fraud after investigating his 2016 family vacation on the Aga Khan’s private island in the Bahamas. The police force ultimately decided not to pursue a criminal investigation of the trip, which was separately examined by former ethics commissioner Mary Dawson. The RCMP’s decision responded, in part, to a nuance in the law that makes it possible for sitting prime ministers to grant themselves consent to receive gifts that otherwise would constitute fraud against the government.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – A Top GOP Prosecutor Said Trump Lost. Running for Senate, He Has a New Message.
MSN – Hannah Knowles (Washington Post) | Published: 4/23/2022
As false claims of a stolen election took root in 2020, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican, spoke out on national television. Donald Trump was projected to lose the swing state, he said, and “no facts” suggested that would change. But Brnovich recently called into a far-right podcast with a different message: his investigation into the vote was turning up “serious concerns.” Many GOP candidates have embraced the former president’s false election claims while seeking an endorsement in their 2022 primary races. But Brnovich, now running for U.S. Senate, stands out for his shift over the past year and a half.
California – Beverly Hills Developer Agrees to Plead Guilty in Bribery Scheme
MSN – Christopher Goffard (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 4/27/2022
Developer Arman Gabaee agreed to plead guilty to bribing a former Los Angeles County real estate official in connection with a lucrative lease scheme, a charge that could bring a 10-year federal prison term. Gabaee paid the county employee, Thomas Shepos, about $1,000 a month from around 2011 to 2017, according to the plea agreement. In exchange, Shepos gave non-public information to Gabaee and got him favorable terms on county deals. Shepos cooperated with the FBI and secretly recorded meetings at which Gabaee paid $6,000 in cash bribes.
California – ‘People’s Convoy’ Truckers Driven Out After Youths, Residents Egged Them
MSN – Timothy Bella (Washington Post) | Published: 4/26/2022
A trucker convoy were blasting their horns and crowding the roadway outside the East Bay home of California Assembly member Buffy Wicks. The truckers said on a live stream they were targeting the Democrat because she had proposed a bill preventing coroners from investigating stillbirths and other lost pregnancies. Another bill she proposed calls for employers to mandate that workers be vaccinated against the coronavirus. It turns out that residents of the neighborhood, including the younger ones, were not happy with the hulking rigs disrupting their lives. Video shows people pelting the trucks with eggs and shouting, “Get out of our town!”
California – Riverside Man Who Was LADWP General Manager Sentenced to 6 Years in Prison in Bribery Scheme
Riverside Press-Enterprise – City News Service | Published: 4/25/2022
A former top executive of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) was sentenced to six years in federal prison for his role in a bribery scheme stemming from a probe of the city’s handling of the botched launch of a DWP billing system. David Wright will also pay a fine of $75,000. Prosecutors said Wright accepted bribes from a lawyer in exchange for supporting a $30 million, no-bid DWP contract. The lawyer named in the case, Paul Paradis, pleaded guilty to a federal bribery count and is awaiting sentencing.
California – Villanueva Backs Off Investigation of Times Reporter Who Revealed Cover-Up
MSN – Harriet Ryan and Brittny Mejia (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 4/26/2022
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva criticized Los Angeles Times reporter Alene Tchekmedyian during a news conference in which he suggested two longtime foes leaked to the journalist a surveillance video showing a deputy kneeling on the head of a handcuffed inmate. Villanueva noted a list of possible felonies under investigation in the case, including conspiracy and burglary. The sheriff termed the video stolen property. The U.S. Supreme Court has held journalists generally cannot be held liable for publishing leaked materials that are about matters of public concern, even if the reporter knew or should have known they were obtained illegally.
Connecticut – A CT Group Home Director Wants to Cash in on Her State-Funded Properties
CT Mirror – Andrew Brown | Published: 4/24/2022
For nearly four decades, Malcolm and Margaret Winkley have run a pair of nonprofits in Connecticut that serve individuals with developmental disabilities. Over the course of those 40 years, the husband and wife used their authority over the two organizations, and the taxpayer money they received, to amass millions of dollars’ worth of real estate. Records show the couple held the titles for group homes while the nonprofits used state and federal funding to pay the taxes, insurance, and mortgages on those properties. That arrangement was specifically called out in an ethics opinion in 1999.
Florida – Voting Rights Groups Sue Florida Over New Congressional Map
Yahoo News – Gary Fineout (Politico) | Published: 4/22/2022
Several voting rights and civil rights organizations as well as a Democratic-aligned redistricting group sued over Florida’s new congressional map on the same day Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the map into law. The map hands significant gains to Republicans and dismantles the North Florida seat now held by a Black Democrat. In their filings, the groups challenging the map contend the proposal violates Florida’s voter-approved anti-gerrymandering standards that were first approved by voters back in 2010.
Georgia – Greene Says She Can’t Remember If She Urged Trump to Impose Martial Law
MSN – Matthew Brown and Felicia Sonmez (Washington Post) | Published: 4/21/2022
U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, testifying about her alleged role in the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol as part of a case seeking to disqualify her from seeking reelection, said she could not remember whether she urged then-President Trump to impose martial law to remain in power. The exchange marked one of dozens of times during the hearing that Greene said she could not recall her tweets or statements related to the attack. Greene’s appearance in an Atlanta courtroom represented one of the first times a member of Congress has been questioned under oath about the insurrection.
Illinois – Ethics Chair Proposes Sweeping Package of Ethics Reforms
Chicago Sun-Times – Fran Spielman | Published: 4/22/2022
Chicago Ald. Michele Smith unveiled a sweeping package of ethics reforms. Provisions include empowering the city Board of Ethics to levy fines as high as $20,000 for violations, quadruple the current maximum, plus the “entire amount of the ill-gotten gains.” It would extend the $1,500 limit on campaign contributions within an election cycle to sub-contractors and applying that limit to other agencies of local government. “The whole idea of ‘I got a guy at City Hall’ – we’re trying to end that,” said Smith, who chairs the council’s Committee on Ethics and Government Oversight.
Illinois – Former Crestwood Mayor Louis Presta Sentenced to 1 Year in Prison in Red Light Camera Bribery Case
WBBM – Todd Feurer | Published: 4/25/2022
Former Crestwood Mayor Louis Presta was sentenced to one year and one day in prison after pleading guilty to taking a $5,000 bribe from a red-light camera company executive in 2018. Presta, who resigned from office a day before pleading guilty to federal bribery and tax charges in November, was caught on camera accepting an envelope containing $5,000 in cash from former SafeSpeed executive Omar Maani, and then lied about it when questioned by the FBI and IRS, falsely claiming the envelope was empty.
Indiana – Candidate with Ties to Troubled Casino Wants Indiana Statehouse Seat – Again
Yahoo News – Tony Cook (Indianapolis Star) | Published: 4/26/2022
Former Indiana Rep. Matthew Whetstone resigned his seat in 2007 to become a lobbyist, then returned to the statehouse as parliamentarian for the House speaker in 2013, only to leave in 2015 to create his own lobbying firm. Now, Whetstone wants to return to the General Assembly. Critics say Whetstone’s case is a particularly egregious example of the “revolving door” culture at the Capitol, where government officials often seek private sector jobs to cash in on their public service. The state has a one-year waiting period for those who leave government service to become lobbyists, but there is no restriction for lobbyists who want to become lawmakers.
Iowa – Watchdogs Troubled by Ties to Iowa Government by Those Behind Carbon Dioxide Pipeline
Minneapolis Star Tribune – Leah Douglas (Reuters) | Published: 4/25/2022
Summit Carbon Solutions, the company behind a carbon pipeline proposal in the Midwest, has close ties to Iowa officials and regulators charged with approving a large part of its route. The proposed Midwest Carbon Express pipeline would connect customers such as ethanol plants in Iowa and Minnesota to a carbon storage facility in North Dakota. Iowa would host the longest portion of the pipeline. At least four members of Summit’s leadership have direct links to the Iowa governor’s office or the Iowa Utility Board, both of which could influence the future of the roughly 2,000-mile pipeline.
Kansas – Judge Strikes Down Kansas Map, Finding Lawmakers Intended to Dilute Minority Voter Power
MSN – Jonathan Shorman and Katie Bernard (Kansas City Star) | Published: 4/25/2022
A Kansas judge tossed the state’s Republican-drawn congressional map, finding the Legislature intentionally diluted minority votes in a partisan and political gerrymander that violated the state constitution. The decision by Wyandotte County District Court Judge Bill Klapper is a victory for a group of voters who challenged the map, arguing it violated guarantees of voting rights, equal rights, and free speech in the Kansas Constitution. It is the first time in Kansas history a state court has ruled against a congressional map.
Maryland – Ohio Bribery Scandal Hits Home in Md. – and Utility Customers May Be Footing the Bill
Maryland Matters – Josh Kurtz | Published: 4/21/2022
In 2020, then-Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and four of his associates were arrested in a bribery scandal. The aftershocks are still being felt in Maryland. Householder and the four operatives were charged in a federal criminal complaint of accepting $61 million in bribes from FirstEnergy to pass legislation that provided a $1.5 billion taxpayer-funded bailout for the utility’s nuclear power plants. FirstEnergy is the parent company of Potomac Edison, the electric utility that serves customers in Western Maryland. A consumer watchdog in the state is trying to figure out how much the Ohio scandal is costing ratepayers in Maryland.
Michigan – Monica Conyers a ‘Candidate’ for Wayne County Executive, but Banned from Serving
Detroit News – James David Jackson | Published: 4/27/2022
Former Detroit City Council President Monica Conyers set herself up for a comeback on April 19, when she filed to run as a Democrat in the Wayne County executive race. But she is banned from being elected to office under Michigan law since she pleaded guilty in 2009 to one federal count of conspiracy to commit bribery. Conyers was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison for accepting money in exchange for her vote on a $1 billion sludge-hauling deal.
Minnesota – A Candidate Gave a Speech While in Labor – Then Had to Withdraw from the Race to Give Birth
MSN – Amy Wang (Washington Post) | Published: 4/25/2022
For months, a running joke inside Erin Maye Quade’s campaign for the Minnesota Senate was that the candidate, pregnant with her first child, might give birth April 23, the day Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party delegates would gather to vote on who would be the party’s nominee for the race. It would be a grueling convention, packed with speeches, in-person campaigning for delegates’ support, and potentially multiple rounds of balloting. As fate would have it, on the day of the convention, Maye Quade texted her campaign manager to let him know she had gone into labor four hours earlier.
Missouri – Dueker Deregisters as Lobbyist to Fundraise for St. Louis County Executive Race
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Nasim Benchaabane | Published: 4/26/2022
Local police union attorney Jane Dueker deregistered as a lobbyist to open her own campaign account for the Democratic primary for St. Louis County executive. Dueker, who had previously argued it was not necessary to fundraise for her campaign, said her decision was based on “the overwhelming support I’m getting from voters in St. Louis County.” Missouri law forbids registered lobbyists from operating campaign accounts. JanePAC, a third-party PAC newly formed to support Dueker, recently accepted $10,000 from the St. Louis County Police Association, one of the unions Dueker had represented as a lobbyist.
New York – Judge Holds Trump in Contempt Over Documents in New York A.G.’s Inquiry
MSN – Jonah Bromwich, Ben Protess, and William Rashbaum (New York Times) | Published: 4/25/2022
A New York judge held Donald Trump in contempt of court for failing to turn over documents to the state’s attorney general, an extraordinary rebuke of the former president. The judge ordered Trump to comply with a subpoena seeking records and assessed a fine of $10,000 per day until he satisfied the court’s requirements. Alina Habba, a lawyer for Trump, said she intended to appeal the ruling. Still, the ruling represents a significant victory for New York Attorney General Letitia James, whose office is conducting a civil investigation into whether Trump falsely inflated the value of his assets in annual financial statements.
New York – Lt. Governor Indictment Puts Spotlight on State Campaign Finance Reform
Albany Times Union – Rebekah Ward | Published: 4/22/2022
When then-Lt. Governor Brian Benjamin was accused of taking fraudulent contributions for his 2021 failed bid for New York City comptroller, attention turned to a city agency soon to be mirrored at the state level: the Campaign Finance Board. Some proponents of statewide reform are lauding the role the city’s board appears to have had in spurring the indictment against Benjamin, which describes his attempt to defraud the city’s matching funds program. Detractors of the impending changes in the state’s campaign system say the alleged fraud does not bode well for a program that will soon see more taxpayer money spent on elections in New York.
New York – N.Y. Congressional Map Is Illegal and Must Be Redrawn, Court Says
MSN – Colby Itkowitz (Washington Post) | Published: 4/27/2022
New York’s highest court struck down the state’s new congressional map as unconstitutional, dealing a setback to Democrats ahead of this year’s midterm elections. The state’s Court of Appeals sided with Republicans, who sued over complaints that the new lines were drawn to help Democrats win more seats. The court called the map “substantively unconstitutional as drawn with impermissible partisan purpose.”
North Carolina – Former Representative Ends Campaign for NC House After Health Issues, Missing Finance Documents
Charlotte Observer – Will Wright | Published: 4/25/2022
Former state Rep. Rodney Moore’s return to politics started with a state-mandated prohibition on accepting campaign contributions. Moore was making his first bid for General Assembly since he was convicted of a felony charge in a campaign finance case in 2019. Moore announced on Twitter he was going to “withdraw my candidacy” for House District 112. He will still appear on ballots. Until earlier in April, he was barred from accepting campaign contributions in the new race. Records show Moore did not file a quarterly finance report from 2018 until April 7. He still owes the state several other required campaign disclosures.
North Dakota – State Senator to Resign After Report He Texted with Child Porn Suspect
MSN – Julian Mark (Washington Post) | Published: 4/25/2022
As Nicholas James Morgan-Derosier, accused of possessing child pornography, sat in a North Dakota jail in August 2021, he texted with people on the outside. Among them was one of the most powerful senators in the North Dakota Legislature. All told, state Sen. Ray Holmberg and Morgan-Derosier exchanged 72 text messages as Morgan-Derosier was being held on the child pornography charges, although it remains unclear exactly what they communicated about. Now Holmberg, the state’s longest-serving senator, announced his resignation.
Ohio – FirstEnergy Agrees to $37.5 Million Settlement to Resolve Ratepayer Lawsuits over HB6 Scandal
MSN – Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 4/22/2022
FirstEnergy reached a $37.5 million settlement to resolve four lawsuits filed by ratepayers who sued the utility over the House Bill 6 scandal. FirstEnergy had set aside the money to settle the suits that alleged the company committed civil federal and state anti-racketeering violations. FirstEnergy is still involved other lawsuits related to the legislation, which federal authorities say was passed thanks to $60 million in FirstEnergy bribe money distributed via a network overseen by then-Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder.
Ohio – Ohio State Superintendent of Public Instruction Finalist Led Job Search for the Position for Months Before Applying, Emails Show
Cleveland Plain Dealer – Laura Hancock | Published: 4/27/2022
A candidate on the short list for the open state superintendent of public instruction position led the superintendent search for several months, which provided him access to his competitors’ applications and other information. Steve Dackin was vice president of the Ohio State Board of Education before resigning. Former board members can apply for positions in the agency they have overseen, as long as the job search process is open and fair and “it is clear that they did not use the position, while on the board, to secure the job, and that the best and most qualified candidate is selected for the job,” according to an Ohio Ethics Commission summary of the law.
Oklahoma – Stitt Vetoes Bill Requiring Gubernatorial Appointees to File Financial Disclosure Forms
Yahoo News – Carmen Forman (Oklahoman) | Published: 4/27/2022
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt vetoed legislation that would require his appointed Cabinet secretaries and state agency directors to file financial disclosure forms. In his veto message, Stitt asked the Legislature to take a more holistic approach to requiring financial disclosures by also requesting the same information from legislative appointees to boards, commissions, and agency leadership positions.
Rhode Island – US Supreme Court Lets R.I. Election Finance Disclosure Law Stand
MSN – Edward Fitzpatrick (Boston Globe) | Published: 4/25/2022
The U.S. Supreme Court will not take up a challenge to Rhode Island’s campaign finance law. The state enacted the disclosure law in response to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which allowed corporations and other outside groups to spend unlimited amounts on elections. Two conservative groups claimed the law, which requires disclosures and disclaimers for independent expenditures or electioneering communications, violates the First Amendment and infringes on rights of privacy and association.
Tennessee – Tennessee Attorney General Takes Cade Cothren to Court Over Subpoena Issue
Yahoo News – Melissa Brown (Tennessean) | Published: 4/26/2022
The Tennessee attorney general asked a local court to compel former political aide Cade Cothren to explain why he refused to obey subpoenas issued in a campaign finance probe earlier this year. The court filing follows a Tennessee Registry of Election Finance investigation into Rep. Glen Casada and related PACs, which the registry referred to Williamson County prosecutors. Cothren’s attorney called the subpoenas an “abuse of process” and stated her client would invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Virginia – Lawsuit Targets Skill-Game Company Over Lobbying Effort Invoking Deceased Senator
Virginia Mercury – Graham Moomaw | Published: 4/26/2022
A lawsuit seeks $1.35 million in damages against business entities affiliated with Queen of Virginia, one of the state’s leading suppliers of the electronic gaming machines that have spread to many sports bars, convenience stores, and truck stops. The estate of the late Virginia Sen. Yvonne Miller is suing the company over a photograph of Miller used as part of a lobbying campaign near the end of the 2021 General Assembly session, when lawmakers were considering outlawing skill games.
Washington DC – D.C. Councilmember Brooke Pinto Broke Campaign Finance Law Last Year
DCist – Martin Austermuhle | Published: 4/26/2022
The fundraiser held on December 6, 2021, was seemingly routine: a small group of wealthy supporters gathered at the home of real estate developer Marc Duber to contribute up to $500 a person to District of Columbia Councilperson Brooke Pinto. “Help Brooke retire her 2020 campaign loans,” read an invitation for the event, which ultimately netted the first-term lawmaker just over $21,000. But the fundraiser was lot legal. Pinto ran afoul of a new law that prohibits candidates who win office from fundraising to pay off campaign debts more than six months after they are elected to office.
April 27, 2022 •
Campaign Finance New York: “Lt. Governor Indictment Puts Spotlight on State Campaign Finance Reform” by Rebekah Ward for Albany Times Union Washington DC: “D.C. Councilmember Brooke Pinto Broke Campaign Finance Law Last Year” by Martin Austermuhle for DCist Elections National: […]
New York: “Lt. Governor Indictment Puts Spotlight on State Campaign Finance Reform” by Rebekah Ward for Albany Times Union
Washington DC: “D.C. Councilmember Brooke Pinto Broke Campaign Finance Law Last Year” by Martin Austermuhle for DCist
National: “GOP Texts Cast Renewed Spotlight on Post-2020 Election Efforts” by Jacqueline Alemany and Felicia Sonmez (Washington Post) for MSN
Canada: “Conservatives Ask If Trudeau Used ‘Get Out of Jail Free Card’ Before 2016 Aga Khan Vacation” by Staff for CBC
Illinois: “Former Crestwood Mayor Louis Presta Sentenced to 1 Year in Prison in Red Light Camera Bribery Case” by Todd Feurer for WBBM
Indiana: “Candidate with Ties to Troubled Casino Wants Indiana Statehouse Seat – Again” by Tony Cook (Indianapolis Star) for Yahoo News
North Dakota: “State Senator to Resign After Report He Texted with Child Porn Suspect” by Julian Mark (Washington Post) for MSN
New York: “New York’s Congressional Maps Were Improperly Gerrymandered, Mid-Level Court Concludes” by Bill Mahoney (Politico) for MSN
April 26, 2022 •
Campaign Finance North Carolina: “Missing Finance Documents Cause Problems for Former Representative’s Return to NC Politics” by Will Wright (Charlotte Observer) for MSN Rhode Island: “US Supreme Court Lets R.I. Election Finance Disclosure Law Stand” by Edward Fitzpatrick (Boston Globe) […]
North Carolina: “Missing Finance Documents Cause Problems for Former Representative’s Return to NC Politics” by Will Wright (Charlotte Observer) for MSN
Rhode Island: “US Supreme Court Lets R.I. Election Finance Disclosure Law Stand” by Edward Fitzpatrick (Boston Globe) for MSN
National: “Elon Musk Buys Twitter for $44B and Will Privatize Company” by Tom Krisher and Matt O’Brien (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
National: “Rep. Ronny Jackson’s Campaign Paid for Dues at Private Social Club” by Chris Marquette (Roll Call) for MSN
New York: “Judge Holds Trump in Contempt Over Documents in New York A.G.’s Inquiry” by Jonah Bromwich, Ben Protess, and William Rashbaum (New York Times) for MSN
Ohio: “FirstEnergy Agrees to $37.5 Million Settlement to Resolve Ratepayer Lawsuits over HB6 Scandal” by Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) for MSN
National: “Paid Protesters, Free Lunches and Backroom Chats: Inside the menthol lobbying machine” by Ben Stockton, Emily Baumgaertner, and Ryan Lindsay for Bureau of Investigative Journalism
Kansas: “Judge Strikes Down Kansas Map, Finding Lawmakers Intended to Dilute Minority Voter Power” by Jonathan Shorman and Katie Bernard (Kansas City Star) for MSN
April 25, 2022 •
Elections Arizona: “A Top GOP Prosecutor Said Trump Lost. Running for Senate, He Has a New Message.” by Hannah Knowles (Washington Post) for MSN Georgia: “Greene Says She Can’t Remember If She Urged Trump to Impose Martial Law” by Matthew […]
Arizona: “A Top GOP Prosecutor Said Trump Lost. Running for Senate, He Has a New Message.” by Hannah Knowles (Washington Post) for MSN
Georgia: “Greene Says She Can’t Remember If She Urged Trump to Impose Martial Law” by Matthew Brown and Felicia Sonmez (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “McCarthy Said Trump Acknowledged ‘Some Responsibility’ for Attack on Jan. 6” by Alexander Burns and Neil Vigdor (New York Times) for Seattle Times
National: “Feds Could Accept Donations of Up to $10K for Legal Funds Under First-Ever Ethics Rule” by Eric Katz for Government Executive
Connecticut: “A CT Group Home Director Wants to Cash in on Her State-Funded Properties” by Andrew Brown for CT Mirror
Illinois: “Mayor Lori Lightfoot Ally Says She Will Tackle Ethics Reform in New City Council Package” by Alice Yin (Chicago Tribune) for Yahoo News
Maryland: “Ohio Bribery Scandal Hits Home in Md. – and Utility Customers May Be Footing the Bill” by Josh Kurtz for Maryland Matters
Florida: “Voting Rights Groups Sue Florida Over New Congressional Map” by Gary Fineout (Politico) for Yahoo News
April 22, 2022 •
National/Federal Agencies Announce Plans for More Equity in Federal Programs MSN – Michael Macagnone (Roll Call) | Published: 4/14/2022 Dozens of federal agencies launched plans that focus on minority groups and other underserved communities, meant to open federal programs to more […]
Agencies Announce Plans for More Equity in Federal Programs
MSN – Michael Macagnone (Roll Call) | Published: 4/14/2022
Dozens of federal agencies launched plans that focus on minority groups and other underserved communities, meant to open federal programs to more people and reduce racial disparities caused by government decisions. The plans come in response to an executive order President Joe Biden issued on his first day in office to get federal agencies to reassess how their programs may contribute to inequities. Across agencies, the plans included steps like increased coordination with tribal governments, broadening procurement for minority-owned small businesses, and increasing civil rights enforcement.
Campaign Finance Watchdog Cracks Down on Untraceable Super PAC Donations
MSN – Zach Montellaro (Politico) | Published: 4/15/2022
A statement from four of the six members of the FEC indicated the agency would now start cracking down on straw donations to super PACs that are funneled through limited liability companies (LLCs) by requiring disclose of who is behind the LLCs. These types of contributions through anonymous LLCs have become increasingly common in recent years, as some wealthy political donors look to shield their contributions from the public by routing them through other entities first. The FEC has been frozen for years on what to do about these contributions, effectively blessing them by not policing requirements that would have forced further disclosure.
Capitol Police’s New Vetting Practices Raise ‘First Amendment Concerns,’ Whistleblowers’ Lawyer Says
Yahoo News – Betsy Woodruff Swan and Daniel Lippman (Politico) | Published: 4/19/2022
After a year of scrutiny following the January 6, 2021, insurrection, the Capitol Police is facing fresh criticism of its intelligence-gathering tactics from some of its own former analysts. An employment lawyer, who represents five people who worked in the department’s intelligence division in January of 2021, says his clients believe Capitol Police conduct veered beyond protecting members to raising First Amendment concerns. Among the allegations from Dan Gebhardt’s clients include that Capitol Police intelligence analysts were directed to “conduct research” on the relatives of members of Congress as part of their security work.
Censorship Battles’ New Frontier: Your public library
MSN – Annie Gowan (Washington Post) | Published: 4/17/2022
In a growing number of communities across America, conservatives have mounted challenges to books and other content related to race, sex, gender, and other subjects they deem inappropriate. A movement that started in schools has rapidly expanded to public libraries, accounting for 37 percent of book challenges last year. Conservative activists in several states, including Texas, Montana, and Louisiana have joined forces with like-minded officials to dissolve libraries’ governing bodies, rewrite or delete censorship protections, and remove books outside of official challenge procedures.
Fearing a Trump Repeat, Jan. 6 Panel Considers Changes to Insurrection Act
Yahoo News – Luke Broadwater (New York Times) | Published: 4/20/2022
In the days before the attack on the Capitol, some of then-President Trump’s most extreme allies and members of right-wing militia groups urged him to use his power as commander in chief to unleash the military to help keep him in office. Now, as the House committee investigating last year’s riot uncovers new evidence about the lengths to which Trump was willing to go to cling to power, some lawmakers on the panel have begun discussions about rewriting the Insurrection Act, the 1807 law that gives presidents wide authority to deploy the military within the U.S. to respond to a rebellion.
GOP Lawmakers Vote Remotely More Often After Initial Scorn
Yahoo News – Alan Fram (Associated Press) | Published: 4/20/2022
More than 50 Republicans who once joined a lawsuit claiming the House’s pandemic-era proxy voting was unconstitutional have themselves voted by proxy this year, remotely without showing up. Across the aisle, U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele, a Hawaiian Airlines pilot, has used proxy votes on all but five of this year’s 125 roll calls. Three of his Democratic colleagues have used the proxy procedure for every vote. They are among 303 lawmakers of both parties who have cast votes by proxy at least once this year.
Lee Worked Hard to Overturn Election, Keep Trump in Power, Texts Show
MSN – Mariana Alfaro (Washington Post) | Published: 4/15/2022
U.S. Sen. Mike Lee worked furiously to overturn the 2020 election and keep then-President Trump in power before ultimately abandoning the effort when no evidence of widespread fraud surfaced and his outreach to states for alternate electors proved futile. Lee sent texts to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Lee makes clear he was working hard to assist Trump, saying in one text that he was spending “14 hours a day” on the effort and contacting state lawmakers seeking anything to give Congress a reason not to count the electoral votes for Biden and affirm his win.
Lobbying Heavy Hitters See Earnings Boom in First Quarter
MSN – Karl Evers-Hillstrom (The Hill) | Published: 4/20/2022
K Street’s largest lobbying firms reported big earnings in the first three months of 2022 as the industry set its sights on a packed legislative calendar leading up to November’s midterms. Most of Washington’s top lobbying firms had their best first quarter on record and fell just short of last year’s extraordinary fourth-quarter revenues that capped off a record-breaking year for K Street.
RNC Votes to Withdraw from Presidential Debates Commission
MSN – Amy Wang (Washington Post) | Published: 4/14/2022
The Republican National Committee (RNC) voted unanimously to withdraw from the Commission on Presidential Debates, following through on threats to bar GOP presidential nominees from participating in debates sponsored by the nonprofit organization. The RNC has accused the commission, which was repeatedly attacked by Donald Trump, of being biased in favor of Democrats. The bipartisan commission, which was established in 1987 and has hosted the debates since 1988, has rejected the charge.
These Lawyers and Firms Are Still Working with Russian Banks, Even Amid the War
MSN – Hailey Fuchs (Politico) | Published: 4/15/2022
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a host of lobbyists and law firms cut their ties with business entities tied to the Kremlin. But some lawyers are still on the Russian payroll, helping entities navigate the sanctions put in place because of the conflict. Erich Ferrari, a sanctions lawyer based in Washington, said he has taken new work for Russian individuals and corporations recently sanctioned by the Biden administration. His work, he maintains, is entirely legal and not subject to public disclosure under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
Canada – Lobbying Loophole Leaves B.C. Government Wide Open to Ethical Problems: Expert
North Shore News – Bob Mackin | Published: 4/18/2022
British Columbia’s New Democratic Party government ended the “wild west” of political campaign financing after it came to power in 2017 but left the door wide open to lobbying by party friends and insiders. Premier John Horgan’s party fulfilled a campaign promise to ban corporate and union donations and set an annual cap for individuals. They also strengthened lobbying regulations but did not go far enough to close the “revolving door,” said Daniel Gold, who studied the history and regulation of lobbying for a doctorate at the University of Ottawa.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey Signs Bill Prohibiting Public Spending on Union Activities
Ballotpedia News – Janie Valentine | Published: 4/15/2022
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed Senate Bill 1166 into law, prohibiting public-sector employers from spending public funds on a union’s political or lobbying activities. The bill defines union activities as “political activities performed by a union that involve advocating for the election or defeat of any political candidate” and “lobbying activities performed by a union that involve attempting to influence the passage or defeat of federal or state legislation, local ordinances, or any ballot measure.” It prohibits public employers from providing paid leave or other compensation while an employee performs such activities.
California – California Fire Victims Lobbyist Is Out Amid Sex Scandal
MSN – Associated Press | Published: 4/20/2022
Patrick McCallum, a lobbyist hired to secure a state loan to help tens of thousands of victims of devastating California wildfires, is leaving his job with the PG&E Fire Victim Trust amid a sexual harassment scandal. It was reported that McCallum’s wife, Sonoma State University President Judy Sakaki, retaliated against a former school provost for reporting complaints by female university employees that McCallum had sexually harassed them during a party at his house.
California – City of Industry’s Confidentiality Could Sink Criminal Case Against Its Former City Manager, Experts Say
San Gabriel Valley News – Jason Henry (Pasadena Star News) | Published: 4/19/2022
The City of Industry has repeatedly prevented the testimony of witnesses in the criminal hearing of former City Manager Paul Philips and may end up creating an opening for Philips’ defense team to argue their client cannot receive a fair trial on corruption charges. Experts say the judge in Philips’ case could dismiss the misappropriation of public funds charge against the former administrator as a last resort if the court is unable to find a balance between Philips’ constitutional right to a fair trial and Industry’s statutory right to prevent the public disclosure of confidential discussions protected by attorney-client and closed session privileges.
Colorado – Colorado Legislature Passes Bill Limiting Campaign Contributions to School Board Candidates
Aurora Sentinel – Carina Julig | Published: 4/13/2022
Following a cycle of school board elections with record-breaking campaign contributions, Colorado law now dictates the amount of money that individual donors and groups can give to school board candidates. The new law caps individual contributions to $2,500 and small donor committee contributions to $25,000 per candidate. It will not limit spending by independent expenditure committees.
Georgia – Judge Denies Abrams Bid to Seek Unlimited Contributions
Yahoo News – Kate Brumback (Associated Press) | Published: 4/14/2022
A federal judge ruled Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams cannot immediately begin raising and spending unlimited campaign contributions under a state law passed last year because she is not yet her party’s nominee. Abrams and her campaign challenged the constitutionality of the new law, which allows certain top elected officials and party nominees to create leadership committees that can raise campaign funds without limits. But they also asked the judge to order the state ethics commission not to take any action against them if they continue to raise money before the May primary.
Georgia – Legal Effort to Remove Greene from Ga. Ballot Can Proceed, Judge Rules
MSN – Eugene Scott (Washington Post) | Published: 4/19/2022
A federal judge ruled a group of Georgia voters can proceed with their legal effort to disqualify U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene from running for reelection because of her role in the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. Free Speech for People, a national election and campaign finance reform group, filed the challenge with the Georgia secretary of state’s office, alleging Greene helped facilitate the violent insurrection aimed at preventing Congress from confirming Joe Biden’s win. The challenge claims Greene’s actions violate a provision of the 14th Amendment and thus makes her ineligible to run for reelection.
Georgia – Perdue’s Senate Campaign Disclosures Under Scrutiny
Axios Atlanta – Emma Hurt | Published: 4/21/2022
The Georgia ethics commission is evaluating whether former U.S. Sen. David Perdue violated state law by spending some of his leftover Senate campaign funds on his governor’s race. Georgia law allows federal campaign money to be spent on state campaigns only up to the $7,600 limit. Federal disclosure reports show Perdue paid nearly $24,000 for “management consulting” to AJ Strategies. The latest gubernatorial disclosures do not show payments to AJ Strategies. It is a longtime vendor of Perdue’s, but this year the description of its services changed from “fundraising consulting” to “management consulting.”
Hawaii – Commission Recommends Prosecution in Falsified Campaign Donations Case
Honolulu Civil Beat – Blaze Lovell | Published: 4/20/2022
A development company executive could be facing criminal penalties over allegations he made illegal donations to Honolulu mayoral candidates in 2020. The Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission voted to forward an investigation into the contributions from JL Capital Chief Executive Officer Timothy Lee to the state attorney general’s office for further investigation. Commission staff allege Lee illegally used employees to funnel money to the mayoral campaigns of Keith Amemiya and Kymberly Pine in 2020. Lee is accused of eight counts of false name contributions, punishable by up to five years in prison.
Hawaii – Documents Show US Rep. Kai Kahele Has a Special Deal with Hawaiian Airlines
Honolulu Civil Beat – Nick Grube | Published: 4/15/2022
U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele is benefiting from a unique arrangement with Hawaiian Airlines that has allowed him to work and earn income as a part-time pilot while also serving in Congress. After Kahele was elected in November 2020, Hawaiian Airlines and the Air Line Pilots Association crafted a new leave policy that would allow him to maintain his flight status, seniority, and longevity with the company while he represented Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District. Kahele seems to be the only person within the company who qualifies for the benefit.
Illinois – Former Oakbrook Terrace Mayor Anthony Ragucci Charged in Red Light Camera Bribery Scheme
WBBM – Todd Feurer | Published: 4/18/2022
Former Oakbrook Terrace Mayor Anthony Ragucci is facing federal corruption charges, accused of taking thousands of dollars in payoffs in exchange for allowing red light cameras in the Chicago suburb. Ragucci, who resigned in January 2020 amid published reports of a federal investigation of the city’s red light camera contract, has been charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of filing a false tax return.
Indiana – Casino Executive Admits Funneling Cash to Indy GOP, Pleads Guilty to Tax Fraud
MSN – Tony Cook (Indianapolis Star) | Published: 4/18/2022
Casino executive and former Indiana lawmaker John Keeler pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of filing a false tax return in connection with a scheme to secretly funnel casino money to a Marion County Republican Party PAC. The guilty plea came one hour before Keeler’s trial was scheduled to begin and a week after his co-defendant, former state Sen. Brent Waltz, pleaded guilty. Keeler’s guilty plea is the latest develop in multi-year federal public corruption investigation involving New Centaur LLC, which owned Indiana’s only horse track-casinos until 2018. Keeler was the company’s vice president and general counsel.
Iowa – Iowa Supreme Court Rules Democrat Abby Finkenauer Can Be on Senate Primary Ballot
MSN – Felicia Sonmez and David Weigel (Washington Post) | Published: 4/15/2022
The Iowa Supreme Court ruled former U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer can appear on the Democratic primary ballot in the state’s Senate race, overturning a judge’s decision that she had not qualified because of issues with her nomination petition. Finkenauer is a top Democratic recruit in the race against longtime U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley. Republicans sought to knock Finkenauer off the ballot by challenging three signatures – one without a date, one with an incorrect date, and one where the signer wrote a Zip code instead of a date.
Maryland – A Growing Trend: More Black women among Annapolis lobbying corps
Maryland Matters – Elizabeth Shwe | Published: 4/15/2022
As the first Black woman to own and manage a law practice focused on lobbying and government relations in Maryland, Lisa Harris Jones is known as a trailblazer in Annapolis, inspiring other Black women to enter the field and helping open doors. But it did not come without condescension from the “old boys club” at the time, Harris Jones said. When she was thinking of opening her own law practice, a white male lobbyist laughed at the idea, she said. “It actually put the fire in me to go out on my own and start my practice,” Harris Jones said.
Maryland – Baltimore County Council Chairman Violated Policy with Emails Linking to Campaign Contribution Page, Inspector General Says
Yahoo News – Alison Knezevich (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 4/20/2022
Baltimore County Council Chairperson Julian Jones violated county policy when some of his official emails to constituents included a “donate” button for his political campaign, an investigation by the county inspector general found. The emails were sent using a third-party email marketing service and transmitted through a private computer server. But they used one of Jones’ county email addresses in the “from” line, and replies to those emails went through a county computer server. The report cites policy prohibiting the use of county email for anything other than “county business.”
Maryland – Baltimore Prosecutor Marilyn Mosby’s Annual Ethics Disclosure Lists No Donations to Her Legal Defense Fund
MSN – Alex Mann (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 4/14/2022
Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby filed her latest state ethics disclosure, reporting no gifts to a legal defense fund established for her and her husband, Baltimore City Council President Nick Mosby. The fund was created so the couple could defend themselves against a federal criminal tax investigation. Prominent supporters and community leaders have encouraged contributions, posting on Facebook and appearing at news conferences but whether anyone has donated remains a mystery. The submitted form should denote any donations from several key types of people outlined by state regulations.
Michigan – Michigan State Senator Hits Back at GOP Colleague Accusing Her of ‘Grooming’ Kids
Yahoo News – Christopher Wilson | Published: 4/20/2022
In a recent speech, Michigan Sen. Mallory McMorrow condemned a political attack by Sen. Lana Theis. She responded to accusations made in a fundraising email by Theis that McMorrow wants to “groom and sexualize kindergartners.” Republicans have attempted to position themselves as the party of parental rights, with state Legislatures across the country introducing a series of bills targeting the LGBTQ community, with those opposing the legislation being labeled as “groomers.” McMorrow’s speech was viewed over 9 million times in less than 24 hours since she posted it on Twitter.
Nebraska – GOP State Senator, Seven Other Women Say Charles Herbster Groped Them; He Denies Allegations
Nebraska Examiner – Aaron Sandeford | Published: 4/14/2022
Eight women, including state Sen. Julie Slama, accused Nebraska gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster of sexual misconduct. Six women said Herbster touched them inappropriately. A seventh woman said he once cornered her privately and kissed her forcibly. Herbster has denied the allegations. All of Slama’s 12 female colleagues rallied behind the senator in a statement. They said the allegations render Herbster “unfit to serve.” Three of the women said they were concerned about their careers if they reported the behavior. Several said they feared Herbster’s wealth and power.
New Jersey – Many NJ Lawmakers Make Money from Local Government Contracts. Experts Say Disclosure Is Key
Bergen Record – Katie Sobko | Published: 4/18/2022
Municipal and county contracts for the law firm of Rainone Coughlin Minchello have grown from to more than $6.6 million in 2021. During that time, New Jersey Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, a founding member of the firm, has become one of the most powerful Democrats in the state. The firm’s political contributions have also grown. In 2021, they were among the top ten donors among contractors. Coughlin and his firm are continuing a tradition of close contact between Trenton and local government. The contracts and contributions are legal, as long as the firm follows the state’s “pay-to-play” laws and publicly discloses the amounts.
New Jersey – One of N.J.’s Oldest Political Traditions Was Canceled Again This Year. Will the ‘Chamber Train’ Come Back?
MSN – Susan Livio and Kelly Heyboer (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 4/15/2022
For more than 80 years, New Jersey lawmakers, business leaders, and lobbyists boarded a row of Amtrak train cars to drink, talk, and schmooze in one of the state’s quirkiest political traditions. The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce’s annual “Walk to Washington” – better known as the Chamber Train – attracted hundreds willing to pay for a chance to meet some of the state’s most powerful people. But that all ended when the pandemic hit. The group canceled its event in 2022, for the second year in a row. Some are asking if the Chamber Train will return.
New Mexico – Democratic Lawmaker’s Campaign Contributions to Colleagues’ Opponents Spark Friction
Santa Fe New Mexican – Daniel Chacón | Published: 4/20/2022
New Mexico Rep. Patty Lundstrom is facing a backlash over her campaign donations to challengers running against four Democratic incumbents in the House. Rep. Gail Chasey said it is atypical for sitting lawmakers to support their colleagues’ opponents. “I understand she’s drawing a distinction between the money we raise for the general election as a caucus and these contributions, but I haven’t experienced this before,” Chasey said.
New Mexico – Santa Fe’s Transparency Regulations Withstand Final Appeal as U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Case
Santa Fe New Mexican – Staff and Associated Press | Published: 4/18/2022
The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the Rio Grande Foundation’s challenge of Santa Fe’s campaign disclosure requirements in a case stemming from a failed city ballot initiative in 2017 that would have imposed a tax on sugar-laden beverages. The decision upholds a U.S. District Court ruling in favor of the city, which now prohibits organizations that spend more than $500 on political campaigning from shielding details about financial contributions.
New York – Ethics, Transparency, Campaign Finance, and Voting in the New State Budget
Gotham Gazette – Ethan Geringer-Sameth | Published: 4/19/2022
A new state ethics commission is one of several measures related to government ethics and accountability, voting, and campaign finance reform included in the $220 billion state budget that New York lawmakers adopted. They include funding to launch the statewide public-matching campaign finance system previously crafted by lawmakers, and steps to make voting more accessible. But other long-sought measures, like restoring some of the comptroller’s contracting oversight, were left out, while questions remain about some of the details of the policies that were included.
New York – Ex-Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison
New York Post – Priscilla DeGregory | Published: 4/14/2022
Former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano was sentenced to 12 years in prison for accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from a restaurateur. His wife Linda, who was convicted of helping to cover up the corrupt arrangement, was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment. Edward Mangano was convicted of accepting bribes and kickbacks from Harendra Singh, including five paid vacations, an expensive watch, hardwood flooring for his home, a $3,600 vibrating chair, and a $100,000 per year no-show job for Linda Mangano.
Ohio – Dark Money Helped Ohio Utilities Subsidize Coal Plants, Delaying Action on Climate Change at Ratepayers’ Expense
Energy News Network – Kathiann Kowalski | Published: 4/18/2022
It has been three years since Ohio lawmakers first introduced the power plant bailout legislation that is now at the heart of the largest corruption case in state history. Since House Bill 6 passed, an FBI investigation has revealed a $60 million bribery scheme, leading to admissions by FirstEnergy, a utility company central to the scandal, and guilty pleas from three defendants in a federal criminal case. Beyond that, accountability has been slow to come, and HB 6, which also eviscerated the state’s clean energy standards, remains on the books. The scandal shows how utility, fossil fuel, and nuclear interests have framed Ohio energy policy, even when that policy conflicts with voter preferences on renewable energy.
Ohio – Federal Judges Will Pick Rejected Maps If Redistricting Leaders Don’t Act by May 28
Yahoo News – Jessie Balmert (Cincinnati Enquirer) | Published: 4/20/2022
Federal judges will pick state House and Senate maps rejected by the Ohio Supreme Court if the state’s leaders do not draw constitutional alternatives by May 28. If they do not pick an acceptable map, the federal judges will order an August 2 primary using maps approved by Republicans on the Ohio Redistricting Commission in February and later rejected by the state Supreme Court. The Redistricting Commission has yet to approve a map the Ohio Supreme Court says meets anti-gerrymandering requirements in the state constitution.
Ohio – FirstEnergy Ordered to Turn Over HB6-Related Documents to Customer Watchdog in Coming Weeks
MSN – Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 4/20/2022
FirstEnergy must turn over thousands of documents regarding the House Bill 6 scandal it provided to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) by May 22, months earlier than the company wanted, Public Utilities Commission of Ohio judges ruled. The FERC audit found FirstEnergy improperly accounted for part of the approximately $71 million used to lobby for the scandal-ridden energy bill and ordered it to draw up plans to issue customer refunds. The judges said FirstEnergy must also give the office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel a subset of documents relating to lobbying expenses, donations, and costs “that lacked proper supporting documentation.”
Pennsylvania – Judge Declares a Mistrial in Philadelphia Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson Trial
WHYY – Aaron Moselle | Published: 4/19/2022
A judge declared a mistrial after the jury remained deadlocked in the federal bribery trial of Philadelphia City Councilperson Kenyatta Johnson. The decision comes a day after the panel indicated it was having trouble reaching a unanimous verdict. The outcome followed more than three weeks of testimony that threatened to end Johnson’s political career and send him and three co-defendants to prison. The trial was the second involving a sitting member of council within the past year. Councilperson Bobby Henon was convicted of bribery and conspiracy alongside powerful labor leader John Dougherty.
Tennessee – Court Finds Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance Guilty of Contempt
Tennesse Lookout – Jamie Satterfield | Published: 4/19/2022
A judge deemed the Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance guilty of “willfully” violating a court order barring the collection of registration fees from nonpartisan PACs. Senior Judge Thomas Wright ruled the state agency defied his injunction issued in 2018 and upheld by the Tennessee Court of Appeals a year late against collecting fees under a law the judge and the appellate court concluded was unconstitutional. Wright ordering the registry to refund $64,000 in registration fees.
Tennessee – Ethics Reform Bill Passes Senate Despite Barrage of Complaints from Dark-Money Groups
MSN – Adam Friedman (Tennessean) | Published: 4/14/2022
Tennessee lawmakers are poised to pass an ethics and campaign finance reform bill, despite strong opposition from “dark-money” organizations. Nonprofit political spending organizations have decried the bill as government overreach because it will require them to disclose spending around an election. The legislation that passed the state Senate would require these groups to disclose any expenses over $5,000 in the 60 days leading up to an election when using candidate names and images.
Wisconsin – Wisconsin Supreme Court Chooses Maps Drawn by Republicans in New Redistricting Decision
Wisconsin Public Radio – Shawn Johnson | Published: 4/15/2022
The Wisconsin Supreme Court chose a legislative redistricting plan drawn by Republican state lawmakers, handing the GOP a major victory and giving the party’s candidates for the Legislature an even bigger advantage over the next decade. Swing Justice Brian Hagedorn joined the court’s conservatives to cast the deciding vote. Hagedorn wrote that given the directive from the U.S. Supreme Court, the state justices’ options for choosing a new map were limited.
April 21, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Maryland: “Baltimore County Council Chairman Violated Policy with Emails Linking to Campaign Contribution Page, Inspector General Says” by Alison Knezevich (Baltimore Sun) for Yahoo News Elections National: “Fearing a Trump Repeat, Jan. 6 Panel Considers Changes to Insurrection […]
Maryland: “Baltimore County Council Chairman Violated Policy with Emails Linking to Campaign Contribution Page, Inspector General Says” by Alison Knezevich (Baltimore Sun) for Yahoo News
National: “Fearing a Trump Repeat, Jan. 6 Panel Considers Changes to Insurrection Act” by Luke Broadwater (New York Times) for Yahoo News
National: “Agencies Announce Plans for More Equity in Federal Programs” by Michael Macagnone (Roll Call) for MSN
National: “Capitol Police’s New Vetting Practices Raise ‘First Amendment Concerns,’ Whistleblowers’ Lawyer Says” by Betsy Woodruff Swan and Daniel Lippman (Politico) for Yahoo News
California: “City of Industry’s Confidentiality Could Sink Criminal Case Against Its Former City Manager, Experts Say” by Jason Henry (Pasadena Star News) for San Gabriel Valley News
Hawaii: “Documents Show US Rep. Kai Kahele Has a Special Deal with Hawaiian Airlines” by Nick Grube for Honolulu Civil Beat
Michigan: “Michigan State Senator Hits Back at GOP Colleague Accusing Her of ‘Grooming’ Kids” by Christopher Wilson for Yahoo News
Pennsylvania: “Judge Declares a Mistrial in Philadelphia Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson Trial” by Aaron Moselle for WHYY
Wisconsin: “Wisconsin Supreme Court Chooses Maps Drawn by Republicans in New Redistricting Decision” by Shawn Johnson for Wisconsin Public Radio
April 15, 2022 •
National/Federal Before Giving Billions to Jared Kushner, Saudi Investment Fund Had Big Doubts Yahoo News – David Kirkpatrick and Kate Kelly (New York Times) | Published: 4/10/2022 Six months after leaving the White House, Jared Kushner secured a $2 billion investment […]
Before Giving Billions to Jared Kushner, Saudi Investment Fund Had Big Doubts
Yahoo News – David Kirkpatrick and Kate Kelly (New York Times) | Published: 4/10/2022
Six months after leaving the White House, Jared Kushner secured a $2 billion investment from a fund led by the Saudi crown prince, a close ally during the Trump administration, despite objections from the fund’s advisers about the merits of the deal. But the full board of the Public Investment Fund overruled the panel. Ethics experts say such a deal creates the appearance of potential payback for Kushner’s actions in the White House, or of a bid for future favor if Trump seeks and wins another presidential term in 2024.
Campaign Finance Watchdog Issues Massive Fine for Foreign National’s Trump Super PAC Donation
MSN – Zach Montellaro and Myah Ward (Politico) | Published: 4/8/2022
The FEC issued the third-largest fine in its history for companies of a Canadian billionaire for contributions to a super PAC supporting then-President Trump after the agency found “reason to believe” the donations violated a federal law on foreign nationals contributing to American political committees or campaigns. Companies controlled by Barry Zekelman agreed to pay $975,000 to close an investigation by the FEC into $1.75 million worth of donations made to America First Action, the pro-Trump super PAC, throughout 2018.
Crypto Industry Helps Write, and Pass, Its Own Agenda in State Capitols
Seattle Times – Eric Lipton and David Yaffee-Bellany (New York Times) | Published: 4/10/2022
Across the nation, cryptocurrency executives and lobbyists are helping to draft bills to benefit the fast-growing industry, then pushing lawmakers to adopt these made-to-order laws before moving rapidly to profit from the legislative victories. The effort is part of an emerging national strategy by the industry, in the absence of comprehensive federal regulatory demands, to work state by state to engineer a more friendly legal system. Lobbyists are aiming to clear the way for the continued explosive growth of cryptocurrency companies, which are trying to revolutionize banking, e-commerce, and even art and music.
DNC Sets Off Free-for-All to Remake Presidential Calendar
Yahoo News – Elena Schneider (Politico) | Published: 4/13/2022
The Democratic National Committee is officially reopening its presidential nominating process, upending the current calendar led by Iowa and New Hampshire and requiring them and any other interested states to apply for early-state status in 2024. The influential perch guarantees candidates, attention, and money flow into those states during national campaigns, and gives voters there an outsize say in picking presidents.
DOJ Plans to Investigate Boxes of Records Taken to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago
MSN – Matt Zapotosky and Jacqueline Alemany (Washington Post) | Published: 4/7/2022
The Justice Department has begun taking steps to investigate former President Trump’s removal of presidential records to Mar-a-Lago, some of which were labeled “top secret.” Sources said the probe remained in the very early stages. The department is facing increasing political pressure to disclose its plans in the case. House Oversight Committee Chairperson Carolyn Maloney has accused the Justice Department of obstructing her committee’s investigation into the 15 boxes of records Trump took to his estate in Palm Beach.
In Conference Call Before Riot, a Plea to ‘Descend on the Capitol’
Yahoo News – Alan Feuer (New York Times) | Published: 4/12/2022
One week before an angry mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, a communications expert named Jason Sullivan, a onetime aide to Roger Stone, joined a conference call with a group of then-President Trump’s supporters and made an urgent plea. After assuring his listeners the 2020 election had been stolen, Sullivan told them they had to go to Washington on January 6, 2021, the day that Congress was to meet to finalize the electoral count, and “descend on the Capitol.” The recording of the call emerged as the Justice Department has expanded its criminal probe of the attack.
Inside ‘the Next Big Political Frontier’ of State Supreme Court Races
Yahoo News – Grace Panetta (Business Insider) | Published: 4/9/2022
The 2022 midterm elections have the fewest competitive congressional races in recent memory, thanks in part to both parties drawing themselves safer districts to lock in their majorities in the redistricting cycle. But races to elect state Supreme Court judges, which will play a critical role in drawing political maps and shaping the balance of power, are political battlefields. The conservative supermajority on the U.S. Supreme Court has prompted progressive litigators to bring more consequential and politically contentious cases to state courts.
Jan. 6 Panel Has Evidence for Criminal Referral of Trump, but Splits on Sending
Yahoo News – Michael Schmidt and Luke Broadwater (New York Times) | Published: 4/10/2022
The leaders of the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack have grown divided over whether to make a criminal referral to the Justice Department of former President Trump, even though they have concluded they have enough evidence to do so, people involved in the discussions said. The debate centers on whether making a referral – a largely symbolic act – would backfire by politically tainting the department’s expanding investigation into the January 6 assault and what led up to it.
Nonprofit Pledges $80 Million for Local Election Administration
MSN – Amy Gardner (Washington Post) | Published: 4/12/2022
The founder of a nonprofit that has become a target of Republican ire for funneling hundreds of millions of dollars to election administrators in 2020 announced her organization will spearhead a similar new effort starting this year. Tiana Epps-Johnson, who leads the Center for Tech and Civic Life, said the new U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence would send $80 million in the next five years to election departments across the country in need of basic funding for equipment replacement and other resources.
Partisan ‘Doom Loop’? The Answer Is More Parties, This Group Says
MSN – Jim Saska (Roll Call) | Published: 4/8/2022
A new advocacy group, Fix Our House, argues the only way to break America out of its political “doom loop where voters in each party see each other as enemies” is to change the way elections work – specifically, elections to the U.S. House. It believes proportional representation is the key to ending gerrymandering, breaking up congressional deadlock, and reducing partisan divisions. The group argues the nation is being driven to political extremes by an electoral system that might have worked before cable news, social media, super PACs, and modern campaigning but now rewards those who promise to burn it all down.
Records of Foreign Gifts Given to Trump and Pence in 2020 Are Missing, State Department Says
MSN – Alia Shoaib (Business Insider) | Published: 4/9/2022
The Trump administration did not provide information about gifts from foreign governments in 2020 received by former President Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence, and other White House officials, the State Department said. As a result, the department said it could not compile a complete and accurate accounting of gifts received by Trump, his family, and other officials during his final year in office.
From the States and Municipalities
Alabama – Selma Is Tired of Being Just a Symbol – They Want Change
MSN – Emmanuel Fenton (Washington Post) | Published: 4/11/2022
On March 7, 1965, more than 500 demonstrators marched in Selma, Alabama, to protest policies designed to keep Black people from voting. When they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge, they were met by state troopers who attacked them with bully clubs. Selma has become an annual stopover for politicians looking to bolster their civil rights bona fides. To mark the anniversary of what became known as Bloody Sunday, the city hosts the Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee. But aside from the infusion of tourist dollars and fleeting national media attention, Selma feels like a city left behind, with little to show for its vaulted place in America’s civil rights history.
Alaska – Lawsuit Challenges Alaska Campaign Disclosure Rules
Alaska Public Media – Becky Bohrer (Associated Press) | Published: 4/7/2022
Political donors sued over campaign finance rules enacted under a 2020 voter initiative in Alaska, arguing the disclosure rules are burdensome and could lead to reprisals against them and their business interests in a climate of “cancel culture.” Provisions of the measure calling for open primaries and ranked choice voting in general elections were challenged previously in state courts and upheld.
California – BART May Need to Void $40-Million Contract After Potential Conflict of Interest Found, Inspector General Says
Yahoo News – Alex Wigglesworth (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 4/9/2022
The Bay Area Rapid Transit agency may be required to void a $40-million construction management contract after an investigation revealed a potential conflict-of-interest between a manager who played a role in making and administering the contract and the firm to which it was awarded. Inspector General Harriet Richardson said she began the investigation after receiving evidence the manager used to work for the construction management firm, and the manager’s spouse and sibling still worked for the firm.
California – Corruption Probe Ends in Ex-San Mateo County Community College District Chancellor’s Arrest
MSN – Jason Green (Bay Area News Group) | Published: 4/12/2022
An investigation into allegations of corruption against leaders of the San Mateo County Community College District came to a head with the arrest of a former chancellor on 21 felony counts including tax fraud and theft of public funds. Prosecutors allege Ronald Galatolo, with the help of former Vice Chancellor of Facilities Jose Nunez, directed construction projects to be awarded to companies from whom he had received and continued to receive gifts, including concert tickets and international travel, and with whom he shared financial interests.
California – S.F.’s Environmental Official Resigns Over Alleged $25,000 Donation
San Francisco Examiner – Adam Shanks and Jessica Wolfrom | Published: 4/7/2022
San Francisco’s top environmental official abruptly resigned amid scrutiny about her alleged solicitation of a donation from Recology for her department. Department of the Environment Director Debbie Raphael’s resignation came two days after a news story revealed the gift. It was reported Raphael solicited a $25,000 donation from Recology at the same time the waste management company was inking a city contract to haul trash to its Solano County landfill in 2015.
Florida – Florida Legislators Give DeSantis Their Power to Draw House Map
MSN – Colby Itkowitz and Lori Rozsa (Washington Post) | Published: 4/11/2022
The Republican-held Florida Legislature will not redraw its congressional map, yielding its redistricting role to Gov. Ron DeSantis to draft a version he will sign. The decision is the latest turn in an unprecedented fissure between the governor and the Legislature. The move followed DeSantis’s call for a special session to draw the House map.
Georgia – Judge Questions Abrams Suit Seeking Unlimited Contributions
Yahoo News – Jeff Amy (Associated Press) | Published: 4/11/2022
A federal judge expressed skepticism that he can give Stacey Abrams the immediate right to begin raising and spending unlimited campaign contributions under Georgia law. U.S. District Court Judge Mark Cohen told a lawyer for Abrams’ gubernatorial campaign she was asking him to rewrite state law to allow Abrams’ One Georgia committee to start taking money before the May 24 primary.
Georgia – With Biden’s Voting Rights Push Stalled, Georgia Activists Regroup
MSN – Matthew Brown (Washington Post) | Published: 4/11/2022
For months, Georgia voting rights advocates and faith leaders warned a new state law would drastically suppress minority turnout and pleaded with Congress to enshrine protections. But with no signs of progress in President Biden’s push for voting rights bills, those groups are now confronting a new challenge: how to turn out voters despite the restrictions passed by state Republicans in the wake of Biden’s upset win there.
Illinois – Emails Show Valencia Promoted Smart City Development While Her Lobbyist Husband Profited from It
WCIA – Mark Maxwell | Published: 4/7/2022
Over the course of several years, official and personal correspondence shows Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia spent a significant portion of her time in office paving the way for projects that directly benefited her husband, Reyahd Kazmi, who is a registered lobbyist. Kazmi omitted key information from ethics forms and funneled payments between various entities in a manner that hid much of that information from public scrutiny. In one case, Valencia at times used text messages and personal and government email accounts to discuss investment strategies for a development project that involved Kazmi’s clients.
Illinois – Session Recap: Lawmakers pass limits on campaign contributions in judicial races
Capitol News Illinois – Peter Hancock | Published: 4/12/2022
This year’s races for seats on the Illinois Supreme Court, as well as other judicial contests, could come under a new set of campaign finance rules aimed at limiting how much money candidates could raise from so-called dark money sources and from individual donors. The bill still needs approval from Gov. JB Pritzker. It would take effect immediately, meaning it would be in effect for the 2022 election cycle, upon his signature. The bill also makes a change to self-funded campaigns, limiting how much any individual, other than candidates and their immediate family members, may give to a judicial campaign.
Indiana – ‘I Plead Guilty’: Former Indiana GOP Sen. Brent Waltz admits role in straw donor scheme
Yahoo News – Tony Cook (Indianapolis Star) | Published: 4/11/2022
Former Indiana Sen. Brent Waltz admitted in federal court he participated in a scheme to funnel $40,500 in illegal donations to his failed campaign for Congress in 2015. Under an agreement with prosecutors, Waltz pleaded guilty to making and receiving conduit contributions and making false statements to the FBI. The plea agreement comes just one week before Waltz and John Keeler, another former lawmaker turned casino executive, were scheduled to go to trial. Prosecutors say the illegal campaign contributions were fueled with cash from one of Indiana’s largest casino operators, Centaur Gaming.
Maryland – Maryland Appeals Court Upholds State’s Legislative Redistricting Map
MSN – Ovetta Wiggins (Washington Post) | Published: 4/13/2022
Maryland’s highest court upheld the legislative redistricting map approved by the General Assembly in March, rejecting arguments made by Republicans that the map was unfair and gerrymandered. The decision from the Court of Appeals ends a legal challenge that upended the state election calendar and settles uncertainty over when voters will make selections for local, state, and congressional races.
Maryland – Prince George’s School Board Ethics Panel to Resign En Masse
MSN – Nicole Asbury (Washington Post) | Published: 4/13/2022
All members of the Prince George’s County Board of Education’s ethics panel resigned, almost a year after producing reports critical of some board members and causing mass dissension in the county. The panel’s chairperson, Gregory Morton Sr., wrote the en masse resignation was because members faced an “unanticipated, disruptive impact” to their personal and professional lives through the course of their term. The ethics panel authored error-riddled reports that targeted a more liberal majority of the board’s elected members, including accusations of steering contracts, doing political favors, and engaging in a quid pro quo with a labor union.
Michigan – Jury Acquits Two in Michigan Governor Kidnap Plot; Deadlocks on Two Others
MSN – Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 4/8/2022
A jury acquitted two men of conspiring to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and deadlocked on the counts against two others, apparently agreeing to some degree with defense claims that FBI agents entrapped the men in a violent plot shortly before the 2020 election. The trial was closely watched as a test of the federal government’s ramped-up efforts to combat domestic terrorism, and the verdict is a partial defeat for the Justice Department. The men’s arrest raised alarms about the possibility of politically motivated violence as the nation was increasingly divided over the presidential race.
Michigan – Legislation Aims to Prohibit Fundraising Loophole Used by Gov. Whitmer
MLive.com – Samuel Robinson | Published: 4/13/2022
A bill that would set legal definitions for what is considered an active recall effort in Michigan was debated before the House Ethics and Elections Committee. House Bill 5910 would require a recall candidate to form a committee within 10 days after becoming a candidate. The account would not need to be established until the recall committee receives a contribution or makes an expenditure. The legislation, which has bipartisan support, comes in response to a fundraising loophole used last year by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Minnesota – Elephants in the Room? Bill Language Would Ban Private Clubs for Lawmakers, Lobbyists Proposed by GOP Campaign Committee
MinnPost – Peter Callaghan | Published: 4/7/2022
A Minnesota bill would close the door to an exclusive political club that never actually opened. One sentence in the omnibus bill, Senate File 975, would ban contributions to any club set up by a political committee of a candidate or a political caucus of the Legislature that provides access to lawmakers. State law prohibits contributions to lawmakers during legislative sessions. But a mysterious request made to the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board suggested a loophole around that ban: charging membership dues to a club that provides access to Capitol decision-makers.
Mississippi – Ethics Complaint Filed After Reporter Barred from House GOP Caucus Meeting
Mississippi Today – Adam Ganucheau | Published: 4/13/2022
The Mississippi Center for Justice filed a formal ethics complaint on behalf of reporter Nick Judin, who was barred entry from a House Republican Caucus meeting in March. Major pieces of legislation authored or supported by Republican leaders, including House Speaker Philip Gunn, are often discussed and debated inside the backroom meetings. Many observers question whether the caucus meetings violate the state’s Open Meetings Act because the caucus consists of well more than half of the entire House body. The caucus meetings had never been challenged before the Ethics Commission or state courts.
New Jersey – With Revelation of Racist Recordings, Prosecutors Face Scrutiny Over Their Handling of Investigation
MSN – Riley Yates and S.P. Sullivan (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 4/7/2022
At the height of racial justice protests over the murder of George Floyd, Union County prosecutors seized control of Clark Township’s police department, citing “credible allegations of misconduct” by its leadership, and vowing to restore public trust. But in announcing the takeover in July 2020, neither county prosecutors nor the New Jersey attorney general’s office said what they were investigating. Now, criminal justice experts and community advocates are asking why. The question follows revelations that Clark’s mayor, police chief, and an internal affairs sergeant were secretly recorded using racial slurs. The township paid a whistleblower and his attorney $400,000 in a settlement to conceal the allegations.
New York – Buffalo Officers Can Return to Duty After Pushing 75-Year-Old Protester
MSN – Julian Mark (Washington Post) | Published: 4/11/2022
In June 2020, two Buffalo police officers pushed a 75-year-old human rights demonstrator, causing him to fall backward, hit his head on the sidewalk, and lie motionless while bleeding from his head. Graphic video of the incident circulated widely, and the two officers were suspended from the department. Now, Robert McCabe and Aaron Torgalski will be allowed to start working again, after an arbitrator concluded the two used “absolutely legitimate” force and did not violate department policies.
New York – Emails Reveal How Major Hochul Campaign Donors Seek Sway
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 4/10/2022
In response to a Freedom of Information Law request, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office provided the Albany Times Union with 161 pages of emails that offer a glimpse of how affluent campaign donors try to leverage that status to land high-level government access. A significant portion of Hochul’s campaign fundraising was facilitated through top lobbying firms, which held fundraisers that were exclusive to their clients. According to the donors’ accounts in the emails, Hochul did not discourage discussion of state business at these events and directed donors to connect with her campaign staff, which subsequently connected them to top state officials.
New York – New State Budget Includes New Ethics Commission
WBFO – Karen DeWitt | Published: 4/11/2022
The new state budget replaces New York’s troubled ethics commission with a new entity aimed at lowering the number of scandals in state government. But critics say the measure does not go far enough and could replicate some of the same problems the current commission created. The Joint Commission on Public Ethics JCOPE) will end in the new budget and be replaced with a new commission on ethics and lobbying in government. JCOPE was dominated by appointees from the governor’s office and had complicated voting rules.
New York – New York Lt. Gov. Benjamin Resigns After Indictment in Campaign Finance Scheme
Albany Times Union – Joshua Solomon and Chris Bragg | Published: 4/12/2022
New York Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin resigned after being charged with corruption offenses in an alleged scheme to trade state grants for campaign contributions. The charges stem from Benjamin’s time as a state senator and his unsuccessful run for New York City comptroller. He was seeking donations and public matching funds and enlisted the help of a developer to raise money and disguise its source. In exchange, prosecutors say Benjamin used his authority to try to steer $50,000 to a charitable group the developer controlled. Prosecutors allege Benjamin took steps to cover up his scheme when he was under consideration for lieutenant governor.
North Carolina – Mark Meadows Removed from N.C. Voter Rolls Amid Fraud Investigation
MSN – Amy Wang (Washington Post) | Published: 4/12/2022
Mark Meadows, President Trump’s White House chief of staff, has been removed from the voter rolls in North Carolina as the state investigates allegations that he committed voter fraud in the 2020 election. Meadows helped promote Trump’s baseless claims that widespread voter fraud delivered the presidency to Joe Biden. But the rhetoric about potential voter fraud have clashed with reports in recent weeks that Meadows registered to vote in 2020 using the address of a North Carolina mobile home he never stayed in.
Pennsylvania – Draft Bills and Late-Night Emails Reveal Cozy Ties Between Pa. State Lawmaker, Casino Lobbyists
PennLive.com – Angela Couloumbis (Spotlight PA) | Published: 4/11/2202
A bill introduced by state Sen. Tommy Tomlinson would ban thousands of unregulated gaming machines that have popped up in gas stations, convenience stores, bars, social clubs, and other establishments across Pennsylvania. The legislation was ghostwritten by the gaming industry. At the senator’s request, lobbyists and lawyers for Pennsylvania’s top-earning casino had drafted the bill, and the final text matched that version almost word-for-word. Emails between Tomlinson’s office and Parx Casino’s lobbyists offer a glimpse of the reach that lobbyists enjoy in the Legislature.
South Carolina – SC Developers Give Over the Legal Limit to Horry Candidates Through LLCs. Here’s How
The State – J. Dale Shumaker | Published: 4/13/2022
Developers have made contributions to Horry County Council candidates well over Soth Carolina’s $1,000-per-candidate-per-election-cycle limit. Some of those developers have given to the same candidates multiple times through limited liability companies, using a part of the state ethics law that allows businesses to donate to campaigns as individuals. Ethics experts said that while the practice of donating the maximum-allowed amount multiple times using separate companies is legal and common, it is an “unfortunate” pattern in South Carolina.
South Dakota – South Dakota House Votes to Impeach Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, 36-31
Yahoo News – Joe Sneve (Sioux Falls Argus Leader) | Published: 4/12/2022
The South Dakota House impeached state Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg over his conduct related to a 2020 automobile crash that killed a pedestrian. The vote defies a recommendation by a special investigative committee of lawmakers, who deemed Ravnsborg’s actions did not amount to impeachable offenses and triggers a trial in the Senate that will decide whether he will be forced out of office.
Tennessee – House Speaker Backs Ethics Bill to Bring Expenses ‘From the Dark into the Light’
Tennessee Lookout – Sam Stockard | Published: 4/13/2022
Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton extolled disclosure requirements in an ethics reform bill and questioned the motives of groups opposed to the legislation, mainly 501(c)4 organizations that can shower “dark money” on campaigns in the final two months of an election. Sexton made a rare appearance in the Local Government Committee where he defended a bill that would require tax-exempt groups that spend money to influence elections to report aggregate expenditures of $5,000 within 60 days of a campaign, among other provisions.
Virginia – Youngkin Vetoes Bipartisan Bills While Stoking Political Rancor
MSN – Laura Vozzella and Gregory Schneider (Washington Post) | Published: 4/12/2022
Virginia Gov. Genn Youngkin vetoed 25 bills that had bipartisan support in the General Assembly, throwing sharp elbows particularly at lawmakers who represent blue areas of Northern Virginia. He vetoed nine of the 10 bills sponsored by Sen. Adam Ebbin while signing identical House bills in six of those cases. Typically, a governor signs both versions, allowing both sponsors bragging rights for getting a bill passed into law. The vetoes were widely seen as payback for Senate Democrats’ refusal to confirm a handful of Youngkin appointments.
Wisconsin – Elections Commission Fines Election Denier $2,400 for Frivolous Voter Fraud Allegations
Madison.com – Mitchell Schmidt (Wisconsin State Journal) | Published: 4/7/2022
The Wisconsin Elections Commission fined an election denier who was previously convicted of making fraudulent claims to investors more than $2,400 for filing frivolous complaints of alleged voter fraud. Peter Bernegger, who was convicted in federal court in 2009 for making fraudulent claims to investors in his business, filed multiple claims of voter fraud with the commission earlier this year. He also presented his claims before the Assembly elections committee in February. State election officials later debunked many of what they described as “unverified, fantastical claims” of widespread election fraud, including several made by Bernegger.
Wyoming – Targeted: Lawmakers in the political crosshairs of Wyo Gun Owners
WyoFile – Mike Koshmrl | Published: 4/12/2022
Hundreds of text and phone messages, some threatening violence, were sent to state Sen. Larry Hicks over his bill on gun rights. The deluge was orchestrated by a group that has pushed controversial gun bills at the Legislature. The group, Wyoming Gun Owners, drew outrage from top lawmakers for its campaign tactics and were investigated by the state attorney general for failing to disclose its donors. A federal judge ruled the election law Wyoming Gun Owners was accused of breaking was itself unconstitutional.
April 13, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Indiana: “‘I Plead Guilty’: Former Indiana GOP Sen. Brent Waltz admits role in straw donor scheme” by Tony Cook (Indianapolis Star) for Yahoo News New York: “New York Lt. Gov. Benjamin Arrested in Campaign Finance Scheme” by Joshua […]
Indiana: “‘I Plead Guilty’: Former Indiana GOP Sen. Brent Waltz admits role in straw donor scheme” by Tony Cook (Indianapolis Star) for Yahoo News
New York: “New York Lt. Gov. Benjamin Arrested in Campaign Finance Scheme” by Joshua Solomon and Chris Bragg for Albany Times Union
National: “Inside ‘the Next Big Political Frontier’ of State Supreme Court Races” by Grace Panetta (Business Insider) for Yahoo News
National: “Before Giving Billions to Jared Kushner, Saudi Investment Fund Had Big Doubts” by David Kirkpatrick and Kate Kelly (New York Times) for Yahoo News
National: “Records of Foreign Gifts Given to Trump and Pence in 2020 Are Missing, State Department Says” by Alia Shoaib (Business Insider) for MSN
South Dakota: “South Dakota House Votes to Impeach Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, 36-31” by Joe Sneve (Sioux Falls Argus Leader) for Yahoo News
Wyoming: “Targeted: Lawmakers in the political crosshairs of Wyo Gun Owners” by Mike Koshmrl for WyoFile
Florida: “Florida Legislators Give DeSantis Their Power to Draw House Map” by Colby Itkowitz and Lori Rozsa (Washington Post) for MSN
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