May 13, 2021 •
Campaign Finance National: “An Influential PAC Group Is Telling Businesses to Restart Political Donations, Including to GOP Lawmakers Who Voted to Overturn the Election Results” by Grace Dean (Business Insider) for MSN Maine: “Maine Money-in-Politics Overhaul Targets Direct Donations from […]
National: “An Influential PAC Group Is Telling Businesses to Restart Political Donations, Including to GOP Lawmakers Who Voted to Overturn the Election Results” by Grace Dean (Business Insider) for MSN
Maine: “Maine Money-in-Politics Overhaul Targets Direct Donations from Businesses” by Jessica Piper for Bangor Daily News
National: “House Democrats and White House Reach Deal Over Testimony by Ex-Trump Aide” by Charlie Savage for New York Times
Kansas: “Wichita City Council Passes Ethics Policy, Promises Campaign Finance Reform” by Chance Swaim (Wichita Eagle) for MSN
New York: “Federal Judge Denies NRA Attempt to Declare Bankruptcy in Win for New York State Attorney General” by Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) for MSN
Washington: “Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan Had Phone Set to Keep Texts Only 30 Days, Her Office Says” by Lewis Kamb and Daniel Beekman for Seattle Times
National: “Cheney Booted from Republican Leadership Spot” by Melanie Zanona and Olivia Beavers for Politico
Oregon: “Remote Testimony Could Be Here to Stay at the Oregon Capitol” by Chris Lehman (Portland Oregonian) for MSN
South Carolina: “Columbia Mayor Benjamin Registered as Lobbyist for SC’s Largest Medical Provider Prisma” by Steven Fastenau for Charleston Post and Courier
Texas: “Texas House Approves Bill Mandating Sexual Harassment Training for Lobbyists and a Way to Report Complaints, with 2 No Votes” by Madlin Mekelburg (Austin American-Statesman) for MSN
Florida: “Ana Cruz Toured Tampa with Related CEO, but They Didn’t Talk Rome Yard Business, She Says” by Charlie Frago and Christopher O’Donnell (Tampa Bay Times) for MSN
May 12, 2021 •
Cincinnati City Council failed to adopt an ordinance proposing additional campaign finance disclosure. Ordinance 2021-01549 would have required the mayor and City Council members to report contributions above $200 within 48 hours. Only Council Member Greg Landsman, who introduced the […]
Cincinnati City Council failed to adopt an ordinance proposing additional campaign finance disclosure.
Ordinance 2021-01549 would have required the mayor and City Council members to report contributions above $200 within 48 hours.
Only Council Member Greg Landsman, who introduced the proposal, voted to adopt the ordinance.
May 12, 2021 •
Wichita City Council members will no longer be left to police themselves on ethics violations after passing a long-awaited and much-debated policy on May 11. The ethics policy sets gift limits for elected and appointed city officials for the first […]
Wichita City Council members will no longer be left to police themselves on ethics violations after passing a long-awaited and much-debated policy on May 11.
The ethics policy sets gift limits for elected and appointed city officials for the first time in city history.
It applies to all city board appointees and council members.
The new policy creates a seven-member Ethics Advisory Board to investigate and rule on ethics complaints.
City officials could be censured or fined up to $1,000 for serious violations.
Lesser offenses would require an official to undergo ethics training.
It also offers whistleblower protection to city employees who report violations.
The City Council also kept in place a 63-year-old ethics ordinance prohibiting favorable treatment to “friends,” a word council members struggled to define last month before scrubbing it entirely from the new policy.
After the vote May 11, the City Council now has two ethics codes: a city law, which has been in place since 1958, and a new City Council policy.
Keeping the ordinance in place will be a helpful transition until the council appoints an Ethics Advisory Board and an ethics officer to lead the board.
Related to gifts, the new policy caps what city officials can receive at $150 a year from a specific donor, with some exceptions.
Additionally, any gifts more than $50 must be reported annually.
The policy carves out exemptions to what is considered a gift, allowing city officials to accept unlimited gifts in the form of food and event admission from any nonprofit organization, political or policy-based group, educational institution, community development or faith-based organization.
Those gifts could include anything from free tickets to college sporting events to golf tournaments.
City officials covered by the policy are also entitled to unlimited free meals “when their presence is requested to attend a meeting or event.”
May 12, 2021 •
The Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission electronic filing systems will be down and offline for scheduled maintenance on Thursday, May 13 from 8 a.m. to noon. The offline systems will include the candidate filing system, noncandidate committee filing system, and the […]
The Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission electronic filing systems will be down and offline for scheduled maintenance on Thursday, May 13 from 8 a.m. to noon.
The offline systems will include the candidate filing system, noncandidate committee filing system, and the noncandidate committee import system.
During this downtime, new candidate and noncandidate committees will not be able to electronically file the Organizational Report to register with the commission, and currently registered candidate and noncandidate committees will not be able to enter campaign spending data and electronically file disclosure reports or any other reports.
Currently registered noncandidate committees will also not be able to import contribution and expenditure data into the noncandidate committee filing system.
Additionally, campaign spending reports filed by candidate committees and noncandidate committees will not be accessible on the candidate filing system and noncandidate committee filing system public sites during this downtime.
However, the candidate and noncandidate committee data visualizations and the candidate and noncandidate committee searchable databases are still accessible.
May 12, 2021 •
Campaign Finance Georgia: “Gov. Kemp Signs Bill Allowing More Money to Flow into Georgia Politics” by Staff for Rome News-Tribune Wyoming: “Federal Elections Commission Fines Wyo GOP $52,000” by Nick Reynolds for WyoFile.com Elections Virginia: “Youngkin Wins Virginia GOP Nomination […]
Georgia: “Gov. Kemp Signs Bill Allowing More Money to Flow into Georgia Politics” by Staff for Rome News-Tribune
Wyoming: “Federal Elections Commission Fines Wyo GOP $52,000” by Nick Reynolds for WyoFile.com
Virginia: “Youngkin Wins Virginia GOP Nomination for Governor” by Zach Montellaro for Politico
National: “White House Lifts Secrecy of Visitor Logs Cloaked by Trump” by Jennifer Epstein (Bloomberg) for MSN
National: “Wide Splits Evident on Voting and Campaign Finance as Senate Panel Takes Up Overhaul” by Kate Ackley (Roll Call) for MSN
Alaska: “15 Years After VECO Scandal, Stevens’ New Oil Job Renews Old Ethics Questions” by Nathaniel Herz for Alaska Public Media
New Jersey: “Ex-Hopatcong Mayor Fined Maximum Possible by State Ethics Panel” by Eric Obenauer for New Jersey Herald
Oregon: “Portland Business Alliance Contests 23 of 25 Lobbying Violations Found by City Auditor” by Shane Dixon Cavanaugh for Portland Oregonian
West Virginia: “Audit: Association of smaller W.Va. colleges and universities received $132,000 in illegal payments” by David Misitch for West Virginia Public Broadcasting
May 11, 2021 •
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has announced special elections for House districts 34 and 156 to be held on June 15 to fill seats recently vacated by lawmaker resignations. Rep. Bert Reeves resigned to accept a position at Georgia Tech and […]
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has announced special elections for House districts 34 and 156 to be held on June 15 to fill seats recently vacated by lawmaker resignations.
Rep. Bert Reeves resigned to accept a position at Georgia Tech and Rep. Greg Morris resigned after being elected to the State Transportation Board.
May 11, 2021 •
Elections National: “The Making of a Myth” by Emma Brown, Aaron Davis, Jon Swaine, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) for Anchorage Daily News Ethics National: “Trump Justice Department Secretly Obtained Post Reporters’ Phone Records” by Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) for […]
National: “The Making of a Myth” by Emma Brown, Aaron Davis, Jon Swaine, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) for Anchorage Daily News
National: “Trump Justice Department Secretly Obtained Post Reporters’ Phone Records” by Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) for MSN
Michigan: “Whitmer Won’t Discuss Trip After Reported Use of Private Jet” by David Eggert for Associated Press News
Tennessee: “FBI Investigation at Tennessee Statehouse Continued Through Legislative Session” by Andy Sher (Chattanooga Times Free Press) for Yahoo News
Texas: “Unwanted Touching, Late-Night Texts: Women at Texas Capitol describe culture of harassment” by Nicole Cobler, Madlin Mekelburg, and John Moritz (Austin American-Statesman) for USA Today
Washington: “Seattle Ethics Panel Requires Kshama Sawant to Pay $3,516 for Violating Law” by Nina Shapiro for Seattle Times
Massachusetts: “Petitioners Ask US Supreme Court to Declare Gov. Baker’s COVID Restrictions a Violation of the Constitution” by Matt Murphy (State House News Service) for MassLive.com
National: “FARA Filings Spotlight Giuliani’s Foreign Entanglements Amid Probe” by Anna Massoglia for Center for Responsive Politics
Texas: “Top Consultant for Texas Ag Commissioner Sid Miller Charged with Theft Over Hemp Licenses” by Tony Plohetski (Austin American-Statesman) for MSN
May 10, 2021 •
Campaign Finance National: “F.E.C. Asks Congress to Ban Prechecked Recurring Donation Boxes” by Shane Goldmacher for New York Times National: “Democrats on FEC Blast Decision to Drop Probe into Trump Hush-Money Payment to Stormy Daniels: ‘Defies reality’” by Katie Shepherd […]
National: “F.E.C. Asks Congress to Ban Prechecked Recurring Donation Boxes” by Shane Goldmacher for New York Times
National: “Democrats on FEC Blast Decision to Drop Probe into Trump Hush-Money Payment to Stormy Daniels: ‘Defies reality’” by Katie Shepherd (Washington Post) for MSN
Arizona: “Arizona Republicans Push Back Against Justice Department Concerns, Setting Up Possible Clash over Maricopa County Recount” by Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) for MSN
Florida: “Florida’s DeSantis Signs New Voting Restrictions into Law, Making the State the Latest to Add Hurdles to the Voting Process” by Amy Gardner and Lori Rozsa (Washington Post) for MSN
Idaho: “Idaho Intern Reports Rape, Says Lawmakers ‘Destroyed Me’” by Rebecca Boone for Associated Press News
Illinois: “Even in Chicago’s Crowded History of FBI Cooperators, Daniel Solis’ Deal Stands Out” by Jason Meisner (Chicago Tribune) for Yahoo News
Michigan: “Michigan House-Passed Bill Would Spell Out Conflict of Interest Policy for Lawmakers” by Lauren Gibbons for MLive.com
Oregon: “Audit: Oregon should boost ethics officials; independence, anti-corruption measures” by Hillary Borrud (Portland Oregonian) for MSN
Ohio: “‘A Terrible Idea’: Multitasking state senator drives while videoconferencing” by Michael Laris (Washington Post) for MSN
May 7, 2021 •
Louisiana election officials have scheduled a special election for the District 7 seat in the Louisiana State Senate for July 10. The seat became vacant after Troy Carter was elected to the U.S. House to represent Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District […]
Louisiana election officials have scheduled a special election for the District 7 seat in the Louisiana State Senate for July 10.
The seat became vacant after Troy Carter was elected to the U.S. House to represent Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District on April 24.
The primary will take place on June 12, and the filing deadline is on May 7.
May 7, 2021 •
National/Federal ‘Cult of Personality’: House Dems seize on Cheney chaos Politico – Sarah Ferris and Nicholas Wu | Published: 5/5/2021 Republicans are days away from dethroning U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney as their third-ranking leader after her repeated broadsides against former President […]
‘Cult of Personality’: House Dems seize on Cheney chaos
Politico – Sarah Ferris and Nicholas Wu | Published: 5/5/2021
Republicans are days away from dethroning U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney as their third-ranking leader after her repeated broadsides against former President Trump. In doing so, Democrats believe the GOP is handing over the ingredients for a political litmus test that could energize their push to beat the historical odds and hang onto their narrow House majority next fall. The Cheney ouster opens the door to tarring the GOP, once again, as the party of Trump. The turmoil over Cheney’s future has elevated Trump’s voice in the party to a degree last seen before his encouragement of baseless election fraud claims turned to violence on January 6.
Delayed Census Data Kicks Off Flood of Redistricting Lawsuits
Politico – Zach Montellaro | Published: 5/1/2021
Every redistricting cycle brings a torrent of litigation over the country’s political boundaries, which can play an outsized role in determining which party controls the House of Representatives and statehouses around the country. But this year, a confluence of forces – including the census delays, pending federal legislation about redistricting, and major U.S. Supreme Court rulings earlier in the decade – could transform that steady stream of lawsuits into a downpour. Combined with the compressed timeline for making new maps, the litigation promises to make redistricting a more chaotic and unpredictable affair in 2021 and 2022.
Democrats Tweak Marquee Voting Bill as They Seek Path Out of Senate
MSN – Mike DeBonis (Washington Post) | Published: 5/5/2021
Congressional Democrats amended their voting-rights, campaign finance, and ethics bill, addressing concerns raised by elections administrators but forgoing a more radical rewrite of the legislation. The changes to the For the People Act come after the bill passed the House and ahead of a vote in a Senate committee that could advance the bill to the floor. Republicans are opposed to the bill, meaning it will be unable to clear a Senate filibuster. While many activists and some senators are eager to change the chamber’s rules to allow the bill to pass with a simple majority, many Democratic senators have expressed misgivings about doing so.
ESG Lobbying Surges with Democratic Control of Washington
MSN – Laura Weiss (Roll Call) | Published: 4/29/2021
More lobbyists reported raising environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues with U.S. officials and lawmakers this year, with Democrats now controlling Washington, than ever before. “ESG” has been steadily appearing in more federal quarterly lobbying reports in recent years. Those issues are now at their highest point as regulators and members of Congress prepare policy on climate change. Groups that disclosed such lobbying included large trade associations, asset managers, financial services firms, insurers, pension-focused groups, and at least two left-leaning organizations advocating ESG disclosure rules.
Facebook’s Oversight Board Upholds Ban on Trump. At Least for Now.
MSN – Elizabeth Dwoskin, Kat Zakrzewski, and Heather Kelly (Washington Post) | Published: 5/5/2021
Facebook’s Oversight Board upheld the social network’s ban on former President Trump for encouraging violence following the January 6 attack on the Capitol, a decision that holds major implications for how the speech of political leaders should be policed online. But the Oversight Board, which is largely independent of the social network, also left open the door for Trump’s return. The expert panel took issue with Facebook’s “indefinite” suspension of Trump, calling it “vague and uncertain.” It sent the decision back to Facebook and said it had six months to clarify Trump’s punishment and come up with a response that fits its known rules.
FBI Warned Giuliani, Key Trump Ally in Senate of Russian Disinformation Campaign Targeting Biden
MSN – Ellen Nakashima, Shane Harris, and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) | Published: 4/29/2021
The FBI warned Rudolph Giuliani in late 2019 that he was the target of a Russian influence operation aimed at circulating falsehoods intended to damage President Biden ahead of last year’s election, according to current and former U.S. officials. The warning was part of an effort by the bureau to alert members of Congress and at least one conservative media outlet, One America News, they faced a risk of being used to further Russia’s attempt to influence the election’s outcome. Giuliani received the warning while deeply involved with former President Trump’s reelection campaign and related activities in Ukraine to surface incriminating information about the Biden family.
For Republicans, Fealty to Trump’s Election Falsehood Becomes Defining Loyalty Test
MSN – Ashley Parker and Marianna Sotomayor (Washington Post) | Published: 5/2/2021
Rejection of the 2020 election results has increasingly become a litmus test for acceptance in the Republican Party. In January, eight senators and 139 House members voted in support of objections to the election results and since then, Republicans from Congress to statehouses to local party organizations have embraced the falsehood that the election was stolen from Donald Trump. In Washington, internal feuding over who is to blame for the insurrection has riven the House Republican leadership. Local officials are facing censure and threats. The issue also could reverberate through the 2022 midterms and the 2024 election.
How Top White House Adviser Anita Dunn Is Dodging Ethics Disclosure
The Intercept – Lee Fang | Published: 5/4/2021
President Biden’s promise to reverse the “revolving door” and usher in a new, transparent administration has not extended to one of his closest advisers. Thanks to a loophole, Anita Dunn, a member of the president’s inner circle, does not have to file the public financial disclosure required of every other presidential appointee. She was hired into a special, temporary role that keeps her disclosure – and, therefore, her client list at the consulting firm SKDK and any conflicts-of-interest – out of the public eye.
Judge Blasts Barr, Justice Dept. for ‘Disingenuous’ Handling of Secret Trump Obstruction Memo
MSN – Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 5/5/2021
A judge accused the Justice Department and then-Attorney General William Barr of misleading the court and public to hide how he decided former President Trump should not be charged for obstructing Robert Mueller’ s Russia investigation. U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson ordered the release of a 2019 memo prepared by the department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which Barr sought to keep secret by asserting it was part of the department’s internal decision-making process before he selectively announced the Mueller report’s findings that March. Jackson wrote that after viewing the memo and other evidence the department’s claims “are so inconsistent with evidence in the record, they are not worthy of credence.”
Newsmax Issues Retraction and Apology to Dominion Employee Over Election Stories
National Public Radio – Bente Birkeland | Published: 4/30/2021
The right-wing media outlet Newsmax, which amplified former President Trump’s false allegations of election rigging and widespread voter fraud, said there is no evidence that Dominion Voting Systems and one of its top employees, Eric Coomer, manipulated election results in 2020. Coomer withdrew his defamation lawsuit against Newsmax earlier Friday, ahead of Newmax’s apology. Coomer’s attorneys said he has reached a financial settlement, but terms of the arrangement were not disclosed.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – Observers Report Ballots and Laptop Computers Have Been Left Unattended in Arizona Recount, According to Secretary of State
MSN – Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) | Published: 5/5/2021
Ballots have been left unattended on counting tables. Laptop computers sit abandoned, at times open, unlocked, and unmonitored. Procedures are constantly shifting, with untrained workers using different rules to count ballots. Secretary of State Katie Hobbs sent a letter outlining a string of problems she said observers from her office have witnessed at a Republican-led recount of the 2020 presidential election results in Arizona’s largest county. The recount of Maricopa County’s nearly 2.1 million ballots was ordered by the GOP-led state Senate, despite the fact that county officials, as well as state and federal judges, found no merit to claims the vote was tainted by fraud or other problems.
California – Campaign Season Lasts Year-Round in Santa Clara County
San Jose Spotlight – Madelyn Reese | Published: 5/4/2021
In Santa Clara County, politicians can fundraise for their campaigns all year and keep the excess money to pay off incurred debt. That is much different than campaign finance rules in San Jose. Both San Jose and Santa Clara County have rules that are stricter than the state, but the county’s approach to fundraising is novel in that it allows elected officials to fundraise the entire time they are in office. San Jose only allows candidates and elected officials to fundraise 180 days before an election.
Florida – Florida Republicans Rushed to Curb Mail Voting After Trump’s Attacks on the Practice. Now Some Fear It Could Lower GOP Turnout.
MSN – Amy Gardner (Washington Post) | Published: 5/3/2021
For more than thirty years, Republican campaigns in Florida have invested millions of dollars encouraging their supporters to cast ballots by mail. State legislators passed laws making it easier. GOP voters became so comfortable with casting ballots by mail that in 2020, nearly 35 percent of those who turned out did so. Now, some Republicans are reacting with alarm after the GOP-dominated Legislature passed a bill that puts new restrictions on the use of mail ballots. As voting rights advocates accuse proponents of attempting to suppress the votes of people of color, these Republicans say their own political fortunes are in peril, as well.
Florida – Tampa Activist Joe Robinson at Center of Rome Yard Controversy
MSN – Charlie Frago (Tampa Bay Times) | Published: 5/4/2021
A disputed bid process in Tampa’s prime development parcel has some optic problems. Family members of Mayor Jane Castor have been tied to the deal with Related, a developer that won the initial nod to develop the Rome Yard. It was discovered recently that Joe Robinson, a local activist and engineer, signed a $75,000 professional services contract with a partner to the deal, the Tampa Housing Authority. Robinson, who was involved in the Related pick as a selection committee member, initiated a move during a meeting to throw out minority outreach scores, a successful effort that led to Related being ranked higher than Invictus.
Idaho – Idaho Lawmaker Accused of Rape Resigns After Ethics Ruling
Associated Press News – Rebecca Boone | Published: 4/29/2021
An Idaho lawmaker accused of rape by a 19-year-old legislative intern resigned after an ethics committee found he should be formally censured. The investigation into Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger began in March after a young staffer reported he raped her in his apartment after the two had dinner at a Boise restaurant. Von Ehlinger has denied all wrongdoing and maintains he had consensual sexual contact with the young woman. He resigned after the committee unanimously agreed he engaged in “behavior unbecoming” and recommended he be suspended without pay for the rest of the legislative session.
Illinois – A Slew of Ex-State Lawmakers Face Criminal Charges, but Critics Question Whether Proposed Reforms Are Enough for Illinois’ ‘Very Vibrant Culture of Corruption’
Chicago Tribune – Dan Petrella and Jenny Whidden | Published: 5/3/2021
Two years into a federal corruption investigation that has led to charges against more than half a dozen current and former state lawmakers and precipitated the downfall of longtime House Speaker Michael Madigan, legislators are scrambling to strengthen Illinois’ government ethics laws. Proposals include tightening rules for lobbyists, requiring additional financial disclosures from elected officials, giving more independence to the legislative inspector general, and prohibiting lawmakers from becoming lobbyists immediately upon leaving office. But critics say the proposals do not go far enough to fix the problems.
Illinois – Chicago Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson, Nephew of Richard M. Daley, Hit with Federal Charges in Bank Case
MSN – Jason Meisner and John Byrne (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 4/29/2021
Chicago Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson, the nephew and grandson of the city’s two legendary mayors, was charged s part of a federal investigation into the collapse of a bank in his family’s longtime neighborhood, records show. Thompson was charged in a seven-count indictment with filing false tax returns and lying to Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. officials about $219,000 in loans and other payments he received from Washington Federal Bank for Savings before it was shuttered in 2017.
Indiana – Indiana’s Top Elections Official Admits Fundraising Error
Associated Press News – Staff | Published: 4/28/2021
Indiana’s top elections official acknowledged violating political fundraising rules with the launch of her 2022 election campaign. Secretary of State Holli Sullivan requested contributions as she announced her campaign five days earlier than allowed under changes to state law signed by Gov. Eric Holcomb that day.
Kansas – Kansas Rep. Mark Samsel Arrested for Battery After Physical Altercation with Student
MSN – Sarah Ritter and Jonathan Shorman (Kansas City Star) | Published: 4/29/2021
Kansas Rep. Mark Samsel was arrested on charges of misdemeanor battery after getting into a physical altercation with a student while substitute teaching. Throughout the day, high school students began recording videos of the lawmaker talking about suicide, sex, masturbation, and God. Parents said Samsel “put hands on [a] student” and allegedly kneed him in the crotch. In a video apparently taken immediately after the incident, the student is shown on the ground. Samsel is standing over him and says, “did it hurt?”
Kansas – Overland Park Councilman Fined Thousands for Ignoring Campaign Finance Violations
Kansas City Star – Katie Bernard and Sarah Ritter | Published: 4/28/2021
In 2019, Overland Park City Councilperson Scott Hamblin spent $87.57 from his campaign fund at Men’s Wearhouse in violation of state campaign finance rules. The Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission fined Hamblin and campaign treasurer Tara Burke $270 each for misuse of campaign funds and $5,000 each for failure to file reports. The $5,000 fine can be dropped to $1,000 if the reports are filed and the fine is paid within 30 days. The commission said Hamblin’s campaign failed to file two required campaign finance reports in the past year and never reimbursed his campaign for the Men’s Wearhouse purchases.
Michigan – Detroit City Councilman Gabe Leland Pleads Guilty to Misconduct in Office, Resigns
Detroit News – Christine Ferretti | Published: 5/3/2021
Gabe Leland pleaded guilty to felony misconduct in office and resigned his seat on the Detroit City Council. He will not serve any jail time under the plea agreement. Leland was accused of agreeing to accept $15,000 in cash and free car repairs from a businessperson in exchange for his vote on a controversial land deal. After his indictment in 2018, Leland vowed it would be “business as usual” for him at City Hall and he was “innocent until proven guilty.” He had continued to take part in council sessions and meetings for more than two years.
Michigan – House Panel Debates Financial Disclosure Bills That Wouldn’t Make Sitting Lawmakers’ Finances Public
MLive.com – Lauren Gibbons | Published: 5/4/2021
A Michigan House committee took up legislation that would require lawmakers to disclose their personal finances, debating the merits of a plan that would subject elected officials to new disclosure requirements without allowing the public to see it until they are out of office. The package would compel lawmakers to submit financial information for themselves and immediate family members, including income sources over $5,000, properties valued over $50,000 excluding their primary residence, and stocks, bonds and annuities valued at $10,000 or more, to a new legislative ethics committee in their chamber.
Mississippi – Mississippi Politicians Are Capitalizing on Loopholes in State’s Campaign Finance Law
Mississippi Daily Journal – Luke Ramseth | Published: 4/28/2021
Former Mississippi Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall was retired last year but continued spending campaign money accumulated over a long career in elected office. His actions highlight loopholes in campaign finance law. Politicians can use campaign funds for personal reasons as long as it is money they raised before 2018, when reforms took effect banning the practice. A politician may stop filing disclosure reports even if they have funds remaining in their campaign account. This means the public might never learn what a candidate or politician does with hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of dollars in leftover campaign cash.
Montana – Legislature Approves Campaign Finance Exemption for Religious Groups
Montana Standard – Sam Wilson | Published: 4/29/2021
Montana lawmakers on the final day of the legislative session passed a bill exempting religious organizations from some of the campaign reporting requirements for political communications. Senate Bill 689, which was originally written to target a political organization representing students in the state university system that generally supports liberal causes, also includes language that exempts churches and other religious groups from having to file campaign finance reports on the cost of political communications.
Montana – Legislature Passes New Recusal Requirements for Judges
Helena Independent Record – Sam Wilson | Published: 4/28/2021
Montana lawmakers passed a bill that establishes broad conflict-of-interest guidelines for judges while prohibiting some political activities in some areas on public college campuses. Under Senate Bill 319, judicial officers would be disallowed from presiding over a case if they received at least half of the maximum individual contribution from a lawyer or party during the previous six years. They would also have to recuse themselves if a lawyer or party to the case donated to a political committee that supported the judge or opposed their opponent in the past six years.
Montana – Montana Supreme Court Says COPP Can’t Issue Subpoena for Records
Montana Standard – Holly Michels | Published: 5/3/2021
The Montana Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that the state commissioner of political practices does not have the power to subpoena records during investigations. The Montana Democratic Party had filed a complaint claiming the state Republican Party failed to comply with campaign finance reporting and disclosure requirements for elections in 2016, 2017, and 2018. When Commissioner Jeff Mangan investigated, he first informally requested the state GOP produce relevant documents. The party only provided public campaign finance reports it had already filed in 2016. When the GOP did not respond to a subpoena, the commissioner went to court to compel the party to respond.
New Mexico – State Senator Plans to Sue New Mexico Cabinet Secretary, Alleging Retaliation
Yahoo News – Daniel Chacón (Santa Fe New Mexican) | Published: 5/3/2021
State Sen. Jacob Candelaria is planning to sue New Mexico Health Secretary Tracie Collins over an ethics complaint he claims she filed against him in retaliation for his request for records related to the state’s response to COVID-19 and the spending of federal funds. Candelaria said the tort claim, which is a notice of intent to sue, will be the first in a series of actions he plans to take to expose the alleged retaliation and threats he faced after he filed public records requests with the governor’s office last year.
New York – Larry Schwartz, Cuomo’s Volunteer COVID Vaccine Czar, Stepping Down
MSN – Dennis Slattery (New York Daily News) | Published: 4/29/2021
Larry Schwartz, who ran New York’s coronavirus contact tracing program and vaccination efforts during the past year, is stepping down. The move comes a day after state lawmakers rolled back a rule exempting Schwartz and other volunteers who assisted the administration during the crisis from the state’s public officers laws. Currently the chief strategy officer at OTG, an airport concessions company, Schwartz previously served as a senior adviser to Cuomo before being appointed secretary to the governor in 2011. He left the administration in 2015 but currently serves on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board.
New York – Reformers Push for Independent Watchdog to Tackle Albany Corruption
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal – Joe Mahoney (CNHI News) | Published: 5/4/2021
The mystery of what happened to a lobbying disclosure report from Patrick B. Jenkins & Associates comes at a time when lawmakers are mulling the possibility of scrapping the New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) for a more independent agency. Records show the firm has nothing on file for the bi-monthly reporting period of January through February of this year. Patrick Jenkins said the firm made a complete filing, and he was unaware it was not showing up in the online system. David Grandeau, a former director of the defunct state Lobbying Commission, said the case reflects how JCOPE has been failing to make such filings transparent and to be vigorous in responding to alleged corruption at the statehouse.
North Carolina – Ex-Buncombe Commissioner Vice Chair Frost Sentenced to 6 Months for Corruption; May Appeal
MSN – Joel Burgess (Ashville Citizen Times) | Published: 4/28/2021
Former Buncombe County Commissioner Ellen Frost was sentenced to six months in prison for corruption. The sentence was unexpected following a plea deal with prosecutors who recommended no prison time. U.S. District Court Judge Robert Conrad said the case was unusual in that she did not gain monetarily, but it had the “very serious nature of local government corruption.” Frost admitted to conspiring with ex-County Manager Wanda Greene to misapply more than $575,000 of taxpayer’s funds toward equestrian enterprises.
Ohio – Cincinnati Issues 1 and 2: Voters back anti-corruption measures for City Hall
MSN – Sharon Coolidge and Hannah Sparling (Cincinnati Enquirer) | Published: 5/4/2021
Cincinnati voters approved a pair of ant-corruption measures that will make it easier to remove a council member in the event they are arrested. Issue 1 and Issue 2 were put on the ballot by a unanimous vote of the city council and were not controversial. They come as four council members are accused in separate corruption scandals in the last 14 months. There was no provision in the city charter that addressed removal in any form, which left outsiders like the state attorney general to act.
Ohio – Ohio Elections Complaint Seeks Campaign Spending Details from Householder-Aligned Candidate
MSN – Andrew Tobias (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 4/29/2021
A conservative activist issued subpoenas as part of a state elections case he filed against a former state legislative candidate aligned with ex-Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder. Chris Hicks is hoping to uncover information about campaign spending for Allen Freeman, a township trustee from Clermont County who in May 2020 finished last in a three-candidate Republican primary for a state House seat. Freeman reported spending just $14,000 on his campaign, even though public records show his campaign bought more than $100,000 worth of television ads alone.
Oregon – Big Political Donors Get Big Say in Oregon Political Money Limits
MSN – Hillary Borrud (Portland Oregonian) | Published: 4/29/2021
Now that campaign contribution limits are legal in Oregon, the specifics that lawmakers are negotiating in private would set much higher limits than voters have approved and allow the broadest possible array of entities to continue making big donations. While the public cannot attend those meetings, wealthy donors have been allowed in, according to lawmakers. Interest in capping political money was never particularly high this session – no Democratic leaders listed it as a priority – and now appears to be withering.
Oregon – Former Oregon House Speaker Dave Hunt Arrested in Prostitution Sting
Portland Oregonian – Chris Lehman | Published: 5/3/2021
Dave Hunt, a former speaker of the Oregon House who currently is a lobbyist in Salem, is accused by Portland Police of soliciting sex from an undercover officer. He was one of eight men arrested by the Human Trafficking Unit undercover operation. According to a news release, officers posted decoy ads online and Hunt, along with the others arrested, responded to arrange payment for sexual acts.
Oregon – Oregon Lawmaker Who Let Far-Right Demonstrators into Capitol Charged with Criminal Misconduct
MSN – Hillary Borrud (Portland Oregonian) | Published: 4/30/2021
An Oregon lawmaker who let violent far-right demonstrators into the Capitol during a December 21 special session was criminally charged with first-degree official misconduct and second-degree criminal trespass. Rep. Mike Nearman was caught on security videos opening a door and allowing demonstrators to enter the building. Earlier this year, House Speaker Tina Kotek called for Nearman to resign because his actions “put every person in the Capitol in serious danger,” and she joined multiple other lawmakers to file a formal conduct complaint with the Legislative Equity Office alleging Nearman’s actions created a hostile work environment.
Pennsylvania – One Ritzy Fundraiser Shows How Tough Selling Lobbying Reform in Pa. Will Be
Spotlight PA – Angela Couloumbis (Spotlight PA), Brad Bumsted, and Sam Janesch (The Caucus) | Published: 5/4/2021
House Speaker Bryan Cutler and Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman plan to unveil a proposed ban on lobbyists who moonlight as political consultants as part of a lobbying reform package. Yet as the plan is being finalized, Corman is attending a fundraiser organized by one of a trio of companies that has cornered the market on the business practice Corman’s legislation aims to stop. The Harrisburg-based firms, called The Mavericks, fundraise for elected officials, run their political campaigns, then lobby them once they are in office.
South Carolina – $352K Used to Avoid Prosecution Could Go to Fight SC State House Corruption
MSN – John Monk (The State) | Published: 4/29/2021
Special Prosecutor David Pascoe said he wants to give $352,000 his investigative team collected from five powerful organizations to the South Carolina Ethics Commission. The money is from separate corporate integrity agreements Pascoe and his team made during his nearly seven-year investigation of questionable lobbying practices and secret payments to state lawmakers. Pascoe said although enough evidence likely existed to get a grand jury to issue indictments for unlawful lobbying practices against the entities, it would have been tough to gather enough evidence to convince a jury in a trial “beyond a reasonable doubt” of the charges.
South Carolina – More Than a Dozen Horry Politicians Could Face Ethics Fines – but the Law Isn’t Perfect
MSN – Dale Shoemaker and Maya Brown (Myrtle Beach Sun News) | Published: 4/30/2021
Some politicians in South Carolina could face fines from the state Ethics Commission because they failed to file a required ethics report or filed that report past the deadline. Those same reports also reveal the business and other economic interests of elected officials across Horry County. Because most politicians in the county do not serve in those positions as full-time jobs, almost all of them have day jobs, or own businesses. But critics say because of loopholes in the law, those reports do not tell the whole story of where a politician earns their money, what business interests they have, and what conflicts-of-interest could arise as they serve the public.
Tennessee – GOP Lawmaker: Three-Fifths Compromise was to end slavery
Associated Press News – Kimberlee Kruesi | Published: 5/5/2021
Tennessee Rep. Justin Lafferty falsely declared an 18th century policy designating a slave as three-fifths of a person was adopted for “the purpose of ending slavery,” commenting amid a debate over whether educators should be restricted while teaching about systematic racism in America. Historians largely agree the compromise gave slaveholding states inordinate power over choosing a president and decisions of the Continental Congress. That clout eventually faded when Northern state populations began to rise. No lawmakers in the chamber directly challenged Lafferty’s false claims but some applauded when he finished talking.
Texas – Authorities Say They Won’t Seek Charges After Investigating Allegation That a Lobbyist Drugged a Texas Capitol Staffer
Texas Tribune – Cassandra Pollock | Published: 4/29/2021
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and Travis County District Attorney’s Office said, “… there is not enough evidence to support” an allegation that a lobbyist used a date rape drug on a Capitol staffer and “no crime occurred in this instance.” After DPS confirmed it was investigating the allegation, Bill Miller, a co-founder of HillCo Partners, had said one of its employees was “a person of interest” in the investigation. The latest allegation sparked another conversation about the prevalence of sexual misconduct around the Capitol and prompted questions about whether the current system still allows such behavior.
Texas – Texas Lawmakers Want Lobbyists Trained on Sexual Harassment After Date Rape Drug Allegations
Dallas Morning News – Allie Morris and James Branagan | Published: 4/29/2021
Texas lawmakers are making a push in the legislative session to require lobbyists to undergo sexual harassment training, a response to a recent allegation that a lobbyist drugged a Capitol staffer. House Bill 4661 and Senate Bill 2233 were filed after legislative deadlines to introduce bills in each chamber. But in a rare move that indicates unanimous support, lawmakers suspended those rules to allow the bills to move forward. One bill would require lobbyists, as part of the registration process, to complete sexual harassment training every two years.
Washington DC – Manchin Says He Doesn’t Support D.C. Statehood Bill, Dealing Advocates a Major Blow
MSN – Meagan Flynn (Washington Post) | Published: 4/30/2021
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin told reporters he does not support the bill to make the District of Columbia the nation’s 51st state. Manchin, a key swing vote in the closely divided Senate, said he believes a constitutional amendment, rather than legislation, would be required to admit the District of Columbia as a state. His stance deals a blow to statehood advocates who were hoping for his support after the bill passed the House.
May 6, 2021 •
Detroit District 7 Councilman Gabe Leland resigned after pleading guilty to misconduct in office. Leland was indicted by a federal grand jury in October 2018 on bribery conspiracy and two counts of bribery. Detroit’s council can, by a two-thirds vote, […]
Detroit District 7 Councilman Gabe Leland resigned after pleading guilty to misconduct in office.
Leland was indicted by a federal grand jury in October 2018 on bribery conspiracy and two counts of bribery.
Detroit’s council can, by a two-thirds vote, appoint a replacement to finish out Leland’s term that ends this year.
An appointee, not already certified for 2021 race, would have to run as a write-in candidate in the upcoming election for a chance to win a full four-year term starting in January 2022.
There are currently six candidates certified to run for District 7 Council seat in the August 3rd primary.
May 6, 2021 •
On May 6, a unanimous Federal Election Commission (FEC) sent a message to the U.S. Congress: prohibit political campaigns from using tactics that unwittingly enter donors into recurring contributions. As part of a package of legislative recommendations approved at its […]
On May 6, a unanimous Federal Election Commission (FEC) sent a message to the U.S. Congress: prohibit political campaigns from using tactics that unwittingly enter donors into recurring contributions.
As part of a package of legislative recommendations approved at its open meeting, the bipartisan commission asked Congress to amend current federal campaign finance law to require “affirmative consent” by donors if a political entity wants the donors enrolled in a program of recurring contributions.
As reported by the New York Times last month, campaigns involved with former President Donald J. Trump steered large numbers of their political contributors, without the contributors’ realization, into repeated periodic donations though prechecked boxes (for authorization) included on what many donors thought was a one-time payment form. The tactic has also been used by groups supporting Democratic candidates, including Actblue and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
In its legislative recommendation, the FEC stated “that many contributors are unaware of the ‘pre- checked’ boxes and are surprised by the already completed transactions appearing on account statements.”
May 6, 2021 •
The Concord City Clerk’s Office announced a special election for City Council Ward 4 to be held on Tuesday, July 13. The seat is vacant after former Councilor Meredith Hatfield resigned her position due to moving out of the city. […]
The Concord City Clerk’s Office announced a special election for City Council Ward 4 to be held on Tuesday, July 13.
The seat is vacant after former Councilor Meredith Hatfield resigned her position due to moving out of the city.
The winner of the special election will serve the remainder of Hatfield’s term until the end of 2021.
May 6, 2021 •
The Tennessee Legislature adjourned sine die on May 5. The Legislature succeeded in approving a $42.6 billion spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year and criminal justice reform measures aimed at improving outcomes for formerly incarcerated individuals. However, the session […]
The Tennessee Legislature adjourned sine die on May 5.
The Legislature succeeded in approving a $42.6 billion spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year and criminal justice reform measures aimed at improving outcomes for formerly incarcerated individuals.
However, the session also prominently featured highly contentious bills concerning transgender students, abortion, and guns.
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