September 22, 2023 •
Lawmakers convened the special session called by Gov. Tony Evers in an executive order issued in August on September 20. The session immediately adjourned without considering proposals to enact a comprehensive workforce development package using some of the state’s projected […]
Lawmakers convened the special session called by Gov. Tony Evers in an executive order issued in August on September 20.
The session immediately adjourned without considering proposals to enact a comprehensive workforce development package using some of the state’s projected $4 billion surplus in this biennium.
None of the 86 Republican legislators responded to the legislative survey launched by Evers last week, refusing to publicly state their positions on specific policy components of the governor’s workforce plan, the workforce plan in its entirety, and what initiatives or plans, if any, they support.
The special session reconvened September 21 for a skeletal session.
September 22, 2023 •
National/Federal Lobbyists Flirt with AI While Remaining Cautious of Its Promises Bloomberg Government – Kate Ackley | Published: 9/8/2023 Lobbyists are scrambling to put their imprint on federal oversight of artificial intelligence (AI) and grappling with its influence on their own profession […]
Bloomberg Government – Kate Ackley | Published: 9/8/2023
Lobbyists are scrambling to put their imprint on federal oversight of artificial intelligence (AI) and grappling with its influence on their own profession even as they predict robot-lobbyists will likely remain in the realm of science fiction. Some lobbyists say they are willing to embrace AI. They have begun to experiment with it to ease tedious and time-consuming tasks, such as legislative analysis, background research, and drafting client memos. Others, eyeing it with trepidation, say they are holding off to see how it evolves.
DNyuz – Robert Jimison (New York Times) | Published: 9/19/2023
In the tradition-bound halls of the U.S. Senate, customs die hard and rules can be next to impossible to change. But for the first time in centuries, lawmakers are no longer expected to suit up to conduct business on the Senate floor. Majority Leader Charles Schumer established a new dress code allowing members to take a more business-casual approach to their workwear.
MSN – Joshua Goodman and Jim Mustian (Associated Press) | Published: 9/20/2023
The Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) recently departed second-in-command returned for a new stint with the consulting firm where he previously advised Purdue Pharma and a drug distributor fighting sanctions over suspicious painkiller shipments. Louis Milione retired from the DEA a second time this summer amid reporting on potential conflicts caused by his prior consulting for the pharmaceutical industry. Less than three months later, Milione again landed a plum job at Guidepost Solutions, a firm hired by some of the same companies he had been tasked with regulating when he returned to the DEA in 2021.
MSN – Daniela Altimari (Roll Call) | Published: 9/20/2023
A recent hearing by the House Oversight Committee marked the first time in 12 years that members of the FEC have come before a congressional oversight panel. Democrats on the committee want changes to the makeup of the commission. The six-member panel is evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, a breakdown that critics say has led to partisan gridlock and hampered the FEC’s ability to enforce the rules. The are also calls to improve transparency and modernize technology.
MSN – Jonathan Dienst and Courtney Copenhagen (WNBC) | Published: 9/20/2023
Federal prosecutors are looking into whether an admitted felon helped arrange to give gold bars worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez or his wife in exchange for help. Investigators want to know if Menendez offered to contact the Justice Department to try to help that man who was accused of banking crimes. Those questions are now before a federal grand jury that is considering whether to hand up corruption charges against Menendez.
MSN – Greg Morton, Marianna Sotomayor, and Camila DeChalus (Washington Post) | Published: 9/18/2023
Candidates running for U.S. House and Senate offices increased campaign spending on security by more than 500 percent between the 2020 election and the 2022 midterms, a measure of the extraordinary rise in threats against elected officials in recent years and the country’s increasingly volatile political climate. The steep increases came as changes in federal campaign finance rules made it easier to spend campaign dollars on security, a recognition of the nation’s changing threat outlook for elected officials. Lawmakers say more has to be done to help protect themselves and their staff from a dramatic rise in daily threats.
MSN – Hannah Natanson (Washington Post) | Published: 9/15/2023
The American Library Association is facing a partisan firefight unlike anything in its almost 150-year history. The once-uncontroversial organization, which says it is the world’s largest and oldest library association and which provides funding, training, and tools to most of the country’s 123,000 libraries, has become entangled in the education culture wars – the raging debates over what and how to teach about race, sex, and gender.
MSN – Craig Whitlock (Washington Post) | Published: 9/16/2023
Richard Olson Jr., a former U.S. ambassador to Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates, was sentenced to three years’ probation and a $93,350 fine for violating federal lobbying and ethics laws in a case that exposed a secret history of romantic liaisons and lavish gifts during his 34-year career as a diplomat. Olson, who pleaded guilty to two federal misdemeanors related to his consulting work in the Middle East, could have received up to six months behind bars under federal sentencing guidelines.
NPR – Associated Press | Published: 9/15/2023
Federal prosecutors are seeking an order that would prevent Donald Trump from making “inflammatory” and “intimidating” comments about witnesses, lawyers, and other people involved in the criminal case charging the former president with scheming to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Special counsel Jack Smith’s team said in a motion that such a “narrow, well-defined” order was necessary to preserve the integrity of the case and to avoid prejudicing potential jurors.
Politico – Josh Gerstein and Rebecca Kern | Published: 9/14/2023
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito temporarily paused a lower-court order limiting Biden administration officials from contacting social media firms. Alito’s action followed an emergency filing from the Justice Department that asked the court to block an earlier injunction that would make it difficult for officials at the White House, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the FBI to respond to online posts that pose a danger to public health or safety. The Justice Department claims allowing the lower court ruling to stay in effect would “impose grave and irreparable harms on the government and the public.”
From the States and Municipalities
Globe and Mail – Steven Chase | Published: 9/17/2023
Changes to lobbying rules in Canada could spell an end to 50 years of free trips to Israel for Members of Parliament and senators. The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, which funds the trips, says it is the group hardest hit by revisions to a code governing those who try to influence public officials. New rules for the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct went into effect on July 1 that restrict registered lobbyists in Ottawa from lobbying politicians who accept free trips from them.
MSN – Stacey Barchenger (Arizona Republic) | Published: 9/19/2023
State Sen. T.J. Shope says he will investigate how Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs was able to hire a private security guard while she was the state’s top election official and a gubernatorial candidate last year without telling the public who paid the bill. The Arizona Republic reported that Hobbs’ campaign did not disclose payments to the individual on campaign finance reports. Shope suggested the cost of security could have exposed a loophole or violated state campaign finance laws that limit donation amounts and restrictions on funding from certain sources.
Yahoo News – Stacey Barchenger (Arizona Republic) | Published: 9/18/2023
Aides to Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs include nine former lobbyists, whose work histories could raise concerns about conflicts-of-interest. Governors in recent years have faced scrutiny over their connections to lobbyists and the challenge of avoiding ethical lapses. Former Gov. Doug Ducey faced criticism that he and his team played favorites with business, often at taxpayer expense. Hobbs’ administration has been criticized for being opaque since its earliest days, when her campaign staff created a “dark money” fundraising group to pay for the inauguration.
DNyuz – Rick Rojas (New York Times) | Published: 9/14/2023
When Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders summoned Arkansas lawmakers to Little Rock for a special legislative session to cut taxes and ban the state from mandating Covid-19 vaccinations, she added one more request: overhaul the state’s Freedom of Information Act. Sanders called for changes that included limiting the release of records related to policymaking and discussions of legal strategy. But the pushback was swift, swelling beyond organizations representing news organizations and government transparency advocates to include conservatives and some of the governor’s own supporters.
Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette – Neal Earley | Published: 9/20/2023
The Arkansas Secretary of State’s office launched a new campaign finance disclosure and filing portal, billing it as a more user-friendly alternative. The office says the new reporting system will be easier to use for those searching its online campaign finance database and for candidates filing their reports.
East Bay Times – Grace Hase (Bay Area News Group) | Published: 9/18/2023
Three members of the Santa Clara City Council filed several ethics complaints against Stand Up For Santa Clara, a self-proclaimed “grass-roots watchdog organization” they claim is connected to Mayor Lisa Gillmor. Vice Mayor Kevin Park and council members Anthony Becker and Suds Jain filed complaints with the city and the California Fair Political Practices Commission claiming the group is a “political operation” and has failed to be transparent with its political spending or advertisements. The trio also filed a complaint with the IRS, questioning its non-profit status.
LAist – Brianna Lee and Frank Stoltze | Published: 9/15/2023
Large-scale changes are rare at Los Angeles City Hall. But now there is more momentum than there has been in decades for three major reforms to how the city is governed. The proposals are the result of calls for reform after a secret recording was released last year that captured three city council members and a labor official using racist, homophobic, and other derogatory language while discussing ways to amass power in the city’s redistricting process.
Voice of OC – Noah Biesiada and Spencer Custodio | Published: 9/19/2023
In Anaheim, Disney is the political kingmaker – and somewhat of a policymaker. Yet residents rarely see the company’s influence discussed in public by city leaders. A recent report on corruption laid out a web of influence by Disney and other resort interests on City Hall policy making. In sworn affidavits, FBI agents also detailed a city largely controlled by Disneyland resort interests. This fall, council members are taking up a host of items designed to curb special interest influence.
Yahoo News – Lindsey Holden (Sacramento Bee) | Published: 9/14/2023
During the final days of the legislative session in California, lobbyists pack the Capitol rotunda in hopes of snagging some last-minute face time with Assembly members and senators as they cast their final votes for the year. Lobbyists began using the rotunda last year, once in-person activity at the Capitol resumed. Lobbyists are not allowed on the Assembly and Senate floors. The Assembly does not permit lobbyists to text members on the floor, although they can do so in the Senate.
MSN – Joey Flechas, Tess Riski, Sarah Blaskey, Jay Weaver, Charles Rabin, and Raisa Habersham (Miami Herald) | Published: 9/14/2023
Miami City Commissioner Alex Díaz de la Portilla and William Riley Jr., an attorney and lobbyist, were arrested on corruption charges. They stand accused of laundering campaign money, failing to report political donations, and spending political funds on personal expenses. Díaz de la Portilla and Riley are accused of conspiring to launder $245,000 in political contributions in exchange for the commissioner’s support on a plan to build a sports complex in Miami.
MSN – Mary Ellen Klas (Miami Herald) | Published: 9/20/2023
After a three-year investigation, state officials arrested Patricia Duarte, the former chief financial officer of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, for her role in padding the books at the defunct taxpayer-funded organization to compensate herself and Tiffany Carr, the former chief executive officer. Carr was paid $7.5 million in taxpayer funds over three years. A series of stories in The Miami Herald revealed how Carr used her tight control of the coalition to inflate her compensation while domestic violence victims across the state were denied services.
Orlando Sentinel – Skyler Swisher | Published: 9/19/2023
As Gov. Ron DeSantis vows to clean up Washington if elected president, dozens of ethics orders seeking to punish the misdeeds of Florida politicians have been languishing on his desk in Tallahassee. The governor has not signed an ethics order since January 28, 2021. Until he takes action, politicians and public employees will not have to pay thousands of dollars in fines, even if they settled their ethics cases and admitted wrongdoing.
Honolulu Civil Beat – Allan Kew | Published: 9/18/2023
A progressive political organization is taking advantage of the Maui wildfires to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars that may go to support candidates instead of direct help for victims of the August fires. Our Hawaii Action has raised at least $684,000 through the newly created Maui Community Power Recovery Fund. The group’s fundraising website starts with a familiar pitch, asking donors to “Support Maui Fires: Relief, Recovery and Rebuilding.” The page later notes that money will go to political organizing and campaign operations.
MSN – Gregory Pratt (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 9/19/2023
Investigators with the Chicago inspector general’s office seized computers from the treasurer’s City Hall offices as part of an investigation into allegations of misconduct against Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin. The move comes after the release late last month of a 2020 letter that laid out a series of accusations by two aides Conyears-Ervin had fired who said the treasurer misused taxpayer resources and abused the powers of her office.
Indiana Capital Chronicle – Casey Smith | Published: 9/20/2023
Republican U.S. Senate candidate John Rust filed a lawsuit to get his name on the May 2024 primary ballot. He maintains that a current Indiana law blocking him from the ballot is unconstitutional. Because Rust does not qualify to run as a Republican based only on his primary voting history, he needs additional approval from his county party chairperson. Indiana Republican Party officials have said Jackson County Republican Party Chairperson Amanda Lowery had indicated she would not approve his candidacy.
Bridge Michigan – Lauren Gibbons | Published: 9/14/2023
Lobbyists offered a sex worker to Rick Johnson, Michigan’s former marijuana board chairperson and a onetime House speaker, as part of a bribe scheme to expedite approval of medical marijuana business licenses, prosecutors revealed. Using the code name “Batman” in reference to Johnson in messages, lobbyists provided the services of the sex worker, tickets to sporting events, and direct cash payments laundered through multiple limited liability companies in return for an edge during the application process, prosecutors said in a sentencing document.
This Is Reno – Kristin Hackbarth | Published: 9/19/2023
Washoe’s Board of County Commissioners voted to adopt an ordinance requiring paid lobbyists to identify themselves when providing public comment at commission meetings. Commissioners had directed county staff to draft an ordinance to regulate lobbyists interacting with county policymakers. The policy was modeled after the city of Reno’s. The final ordinance is a stripped-down version of what was presented to commissioners in August, and it removes the requirement for lobbyists to register with the county.
New Jersey Monitor – Dana DiFilippo | Published: 9/20/2023
The state Attorney General’s Office asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit New Jersey’s top election watchdog filed against Gov. Phil Murphy. Jeff Brindle accused the governor of orchestrating a legislative overhaul of the state’s campaign finance law last spring to oust him from his longtime job as executive director of the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.
MSN – Kyle Ingram and Dan Kane (Charlotte Observer) | Published: 9/20/2023
A provision in the draft state budget may give North Carolina lawmakers full discretion to determine which of their records are public, a move open government advocates said is a drastic reinterpretation of years of precedent in public records law. Legislators are already considered to be custodians of their own records, but current law only allows them to withhold records if they claim an exemption to the law, said Brooks Fuller, director of the North Carolina Open Government Coalition.
MSN – Travis Fain (WRAL) | Published: 9/18/2023
A watchdog group is calling on the State Board of Election to clarify North Carolina’s campaign finance rules and crack down on candidates who make money renting office space to their own campaign. The Campaign for Accountability flagged about $70,000 in payments that House Speaker Tim Moore’s campaign has paid on a building he owns, which also houses his law office.
ABC News – Associated Press | Published: 9/19/2023
Three former Columbus Zoo and Aquarium executives engaged in a pattern of corrupt activity that cost the facility more than $2.2 million, according to an indictment. Tom Stalf, who was the zoo’s president and chief executive officer; ex-Chief Financial Officer Gregory Bell, and Peter Fingerhut, its former marketing director “extorted, conspired, bribed and stole” while colluding with each other for over 10 years, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said in announcing the 90-count indictment.
MSN – Jake Zuckerman, Sean McDonnell, and Gretchen Cuda Kroen (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 9/16/2023
As a state board moves toward a decision on opening two state parks and two protected wildlife areas for fracking, its public comments are flush with nearly 150 letters under the names of people who say they did not authorize or send them. Those comments trace back to at least two different entities that wage advocacy and lobbying campaigns for the natural gas industry. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has vowed to investigate. The Consumer Energy Alliance has said it does not use names without permission and challenged the accuracy of the reporting.
Street Roots – Jeremiah Hayden | Published: 9/15/2023
The Portland City Auditor’s Office is investigating Zenith Energy for potential violations of the city lobbying code. Confirmation of the investigation comes after it was reported that Zenith Energy and its public relations firm, Pac/West Communications, spent months courting city officials, their staff, and bureau staff to approve a land use permit in 2022.
MSN – Marisa Iati (Washington Post) | Published: 9/19/2023
Pennsylvania implemented automatic voter registration to ease the process of casting a ballot, joining 23 other states and the District of Columbia. Residents who are eligible to vote and who obtain or renew a driver’s license or identification card at the Department of Motor Vehicles now will be guided through the voter registration process by default. If they do not want to be added to the voter rolls, they have to actively opt out.
Spotlight PA – Stephen Caruso | Published: 9/19/2023
Democrats have again secured a one-vote majority in the Pennsylvania House, prevailing in an Allegheny County special election the party was widely favored to win. Lindsay Powell’s win will end a two-month tie in the 203-member lower chamber that has existed since state Rep. Sara Innamorato resigned to focus on her run for Allegheny County executive.
Spotlight PA – Stephen Caruso | Published: 9/19/2023
A new bill aims to slow the speed of the “revolving door” between public service and private sector lobbying, a threshold that Pennsylvania lawmakers and workers often cross once they leave state government. Current state law bars such officials and employees from lobbying their previous workplaces for a year. The new bill backed by members of both major parties would extend that pause by another year.
MSN – Angele Latham (Tennessean) | Published: 9/15/2023
A lawsuit over the Tennessee House’s ban on signs the August special legislative session may be coming to a close. But the First Amendment issues surrounding when government can limit speech in the name of order and decorum are not likely going away. Speaker Cameron Sexton has hinted the House may again take up the issue when the Legislature returns in 2024, a move likely to spark renewed debate about the boundaries of free speech.
MSN – Zach Despart (Texas Tribune) | Published: 9/17/2023
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was acquitted by the state Senate on 16 charges of bribery, unfitness for office, and abuse of office. He was immediately reinstated, ending a suspension that began in May with his impeachment by the House. The votes sealed the failure of a risky gambit by House Republicans, who began in secret in the spring to investigate, and then purge, a leader of their own party. The results came after sustained pressure on senators from grassroots groups, conservative activists, and the leader of the state Republican Party, who vowed retribution at the ballot box if Paxton was convicted.
Yahoo News – Edgar Sandoval (New York Times) | Published: 9/19/2023
A trial is underway in Texas over the state’s sweeping election overhaul. Since it went into effect, critics have raised concerns the law would impede voters with disabilities, elderly voters, and voters who do not speak English. The federal trial provides an unusual opportunity to hear directly from voters who wanted to cast a vote but were not able to do so. Lawyers representing the state countered that the new rules prevent potential voter fraud and that voters seem to be adapting better with every passing election.
MSN – Patrick Marley (Washington Post) | Published: 9/14/2023
Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate voted to fire the state’s top nonpartisan elections official, whose allies responded by saying the lawmakers did not have the power to oust her. The Democratic governor’s administration plans to continue to pay Meagan Wolfe’s salary and make sure she maintains access to her office if she wants to continue as director of the state’s elections commission. The vote creates a dispute over who is in charge of overseeing elections in a state that is expected to play a critical role in next year’s presidential campaign and may have to redraw its legislative districts within months.
September 21, 2023 •
September is a great month to take a look at your current lobbying efforts as they relate to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI), and to see where you might be able to make some adjustments moving into 2024. Are there […]
September is a great month to take a look at your current lobbying efforts as they relate to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI), and to see where you might be able to make some adjustments moving into 2024.
Are there diverse Members of Congress or State Legislators whom you have been wanting to make contact with? What about diverse organizations that you have been wanting to reach out to, but just have not had the opportunity? Take note of these opportunities and find time to reach out and make those connections! While you are doing your assessment, also do not forget to take a look internally at your Government Affairs department, and see where there may be some opportunities to increase the level of diversity amongst the in-house and contract lobbyists? As the future moves towards becoming more diverse (in all of its forms), it is imperative that organizations be able to adapt to change and be open to more diverse ways of thinking, executing and relating!
I encourage you to begin thinking “outside of the box” when it comes to DEI and your lobbying efforts and to make note of both your challenges and successes as you continue onward. Remember that there are no “one and done” efforts as they relate to DEI; this work is ongoing and ever evolving, so give yourself grace and guidance and be sure to check in and let me know how things are going!
September 21, 2023 •
Campaign Finance Arkansas: “Arkansas Launches New, ‘More Friendly’ Campaign Finance Disclosure Filing Portal” by Neal Earley for Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Elections Pennsylvania: “Democrats Again Secure One-Vote Pa. House Majority After Special Election Win” by Stephen Caruso for Spotlight PA Ethics National: “Revolving Door Redux: […]
September 20, 2023 •
Campaign Finance Arizona: “Arizona Senator Plans Probe into Gov. Katie Hobbs’ Payments to Campaign Security Guard” by Stacey Barchenger (Arizona Republic) for MSN North Carolina: “NC Speaker’s Campaign Has Paid His Law Firm Almost $70k for Rent, Watchdog Group Says” by Travis Fain (WRAL) […]
September 19, 2023 •
Campaign Finance Hawaii: “This Hawaii Super PAC Says It’s Raising Money for Wildfire Victims – And Political Candidates Too” by Allan Kew for Honolulu Civil Beat Ethics National: “Lawmakers Are Spending Way More to Keep Themselves Safe. Is It Enough?” by Greg Morton, Marianna […]
Hawaii: “This Hawaii Super PAC Says It’s Raising Money for Wildfire Victims – And Political Candidates Too” by Allan Kew for Honolulu Civil Beat
National: “Lawmakers Are Spending Way More to Keep Themselves Safe. Is It Enough?” by Greg Morton, Marianna Sotomayor, and Camila DeChalus (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Prosecutors in D.C. Election Case Are Seeking a Partial Gag Order for Trump” by Associated Press for NPR
National: “Alito Pauses Order Banning Biden Officials from Contacting Tech Platforms” by Josh Gerstein and Rebecca Kern for Politico
Texas: “Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton Acquitted on All 16 Articles of Impeachment” by Zach Despart (Texas Tribune) for MSN
Arizona: “Arizona Gov. Hobbs Leans on Lobbyists in New Administration: How does she prevent conflicts?” by Stacey Barchenger (Arizona Republic) for Yahoo News
Canada: “Changes to Lobbying Rules Could Spell End to 50 Years of Free Trips to Israel for Canadian MPs, Senators” by Steven Chase for Globe and Mail
Ohio: “Nearly 150 Now Say They Didn’t Agree to Use Their Names on Pro-Fracking Form Letters” by Jake Zuckerman, Sean McDonnell, and Gretchen Cuda Kroen (Cleveland Plain Dealer) for MSN
September 18, 2023 •
Gov. Lamont called the Legislature into special session to consider the nomination of Nora Dannehy to the Supreme Court. The governor’s proclamation compels the special session to begin on September 19. A second special session proclamation by Lamont is anticipated […]
Gov. Lamont called the Legislature into special session to consider the nomination of Nora Dannehy to the Supreme Court.
The governor’s proclamation compels the special session to begin on September 19.
A second special session proclamation by Lamont is anticipated later this month to consider legislation changing the date for Connecticut’s presidential preference primary.
September 18, 2023 •
Elections Wisconsin: “Wisconsin Republicans Vote to Fire Elections Director, Who May Not Leave the Job.” by Patrick Marley (Washington Post) for MSN Ethics Arkansas: “Arkansas Governor Tried to Keep More Records Private. The Pushback Was Swift.” by Rick Rojas (New York Times) for DNyuz […]
Wisconsin: “Wisconsin Republicans Vote to Fire Elections Director, Who May Not Leave the Job.” by Patrick Marley (Washington Post) for MSN
Arkansas: “Arkansas Governor Tried to Keep More Records Private. The Pushback Was Swift.” by Rick Rojas (New York Times) for DNyuz
Florida: “Miami Commissioner Díaz de la Portilla Arrested on Bribery, Money Laundering Charges” by Joey Flechas, Tess Riski, Sarah Blaskey, Jay Weaver, Charles Rabin, and Raisa Habersham (Miami Herald) for MSN
National: “Red States Quit Nation’s Oldest Library Group Amid Culture War Over Books” by Hannah Natanson (Washington Post) for MSN
Tennessee: “A Lawsuit Over Controversial House Sign Rules Is Over. The First Amendment Debate Is Not.” by Angele Latham (Tennessean) for MSN
California: “How California Lobbyists Jam the Capitol for ‘High-Pressure’ Meetings to Sway Lawmaker Votes” by Lindsey Holden (Sacramento Bee) for Yahoo News
National: “Lobbyists Flirt with AI While Remaining Cautious of Its Promises” by Kate Ackley for Bloomberg Government
Michigan: “Michigan Marijuana Board Chair Bribed with Sex Worker, Prosecutors Say” by Lauren Gibbons for Bridge Michigan
September 15, 2023 •
A state court has ruled the New York Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government violates the state’s constitution because it was formed without a constitutional amendment and it divests the governor of her authority. The commission will need to […]
A state court has ruled the New York Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government violates the state’s constitution because it was formed without a constitutional amendment and it divests the governor of her authority.
The commission will need to suspend its work pending the outcome of any appeal.
While this matter works its way through the courts, the commission will continue to promote compliance with the state’s ethics and lobbying laws.
September 15, 2023 •
Gov. Tim Walz issued a writ of special election to fill the vacant seat in House District 52B following the resignation of State Representative Ruth Richardson. The special election will be held on December 5. A special primary, if necessary, […]
Gov. Tim Walz issued a writ of special election to fill the vacant seat in House District 52B following the resignation of State Representative Ruth Richardson.
The special election will be held on December 5.
A special primary, if necessary, will be held on November 16.
This special election date allows for the new representative to be seated when the legislative session convenes on Tuesday, February 12, 2024.
September 15, 2023 •
On September 11, the City Council of Kelowna, British Columbia established a Lobbyist Registry Council Policy. The aim stated in the new policy, Council Policy 390 Lobbyist Registry, is to promote transparency by establishing registration and disclosure requirements for those […]
On September 11, the City Council of Kelowna, British Columbia established a Lobbyist Registry Council Policy.
The aim stated in the new policy, Council Policy 390 Lobbyist Registry, is to promote transparency by establishing registration and disclosure requirements for those seeking to influence a decision of council.
The council chose a policy rather than enacting a by-law.
The Policy applies to all lobbyists engaging in lobbying of a council member.
Lobbying is defined as communicating verbally or in writing, or to meet with an elected official for the purpose of influencing a decision of the council. A lobbyist is defined as an individual, whether paid or voluntary, who lobbies an elected official regarding a matter within the council’s jurisdiction.
The lobbyist may represent individual interests or represent an organization, whether employed by that organization or on behalf of a different organization.
A lobbyist must register with the city within 5 days of lobbying a council member.
Each registration is considered active for six months, after which a new registration must be filed for lobbying activities.
It is anticipated that the Lobbyist Registry will be available on the city’s website in the coming weeks.
September 15, 2023 •
National/Federal Former FTX Crypto Executive Pleads Guilty to Making Millions in Illegal Campaign Contributions Associated Press News – Jake Offenhartz | Published: 9/7/2023 A former top executive at the failed FTX cryptocurrency exchange pleaded guilty to making tens of millions of dollars […]
Associated Press News – Jake Offenhartz | Published: 9/7/2023
A former top executive at the failed FTX cryptocurrency exchange pleaded guilty to making tens of millions of dollars in illegal campaign contributions and engaging in a criminal conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transfer business. Ryan Salame, the former co-chief executive of FTX Digital Markets, is the fourth high-ranking official at the company or its affiliates to plead guilty to criminal charges.
MSN – Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 9/13/2023
After he was charged with mishandling national security papers, former President Trump asked to be allowed to discuss classified evidence in the case right where he allegedly had kept the documents: at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida home and private club. The federal judge overseeing the case appeared to tell him no recently. U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon issued protective order granting prosecutors’ request for a set of rules about how classified information and documents should be handled in the case, rules that conform to the general practice of federal courts.
MSN – Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 9/13/2023
A federal appeals court barred special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation from recovering cellphone texts and other communications between U.S. Rep. Scott Perry and other lawmakers and staff about overturning the 2020 election on January 6, 2021, and ruled a judge must individually review roughly 2,000 documents to decide which, if any, fall outside lawmakers’ constitutional immunity from criminal investigation. The opinion, which the Justice Department could appeal, prolongs a secret dispute that has tied up the search of the conservative lawmaker’s phone data for more than a year.
MSN – Craig Whitlock (Washington Post) | Published: 9/9/2023
When Richard Olson Jr. retired from the State Department in 2016, he was lauded by colleagues for an illustrious career that included high-profile postings as the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates. But previously undisclosed court records reveal the State Department’s inspector general investigated Olson for failing to report a $60,000 gift of diamond jewelry to his mother-in-law from the emir of Dubai. As part of a broader investigation, the FBI also questioned him about his extramarital affair with a journalist working in Pakistan while he was serving as the U.S. ambassador in Islamabad.
MSN – Cat Zakrzewski and Joseph Menn (Washington Post) | Published: 9/9/2023
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled the Biden White House, top government health officials, and the FBI likely violated the First Amendment by improperly influencing tech companies’ decisions to remove or suppress posts on the coronavirus and elections. The decision was likely to be seen as victory for conservatives who have long argued social media platforms’ content moderation efforts restrict their free speech rights. But some advocates also said the ruling was an improvement over a temporary injunction U.S. District Court Judge Terry Doughty issued in July.
MSN – Paul Duggan (Washington Post) | Published: 9/7/2023
Peter Navarro, a senior Trump White House aide and vocal election denier who has said he helped hatch a legislative scheme to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential race, was found guilty of contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with the House committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol. With right-wing provocateur Stephen Bannon, who was found guilty of contempt of Congress, Navarro is the second high-ranking Trump official to be convicted in a criminal case related to efforts to undo President Biden’s victory at the polls.
MSN – Jacqueline Alemany (Washington Post) | Published: 9/9/2023
Probing investigators’ methods and scruples is a strategy that has been utilized by both political parties during tumultuous moments and is a well-worn tool for lawmakers seeking to give the appearance of oversight. The strategy has been effective in shaping public opinion of the investigations of Donald Trump after years of broadsides against the judicial system by Trump and his allies. But in the wake of 91 criminal charges against Trump, the party’s attacks on prosecutors threatens to degrade an important precedent that protects prosecutorial independence and the ability to fairly root out wrongdoing without partisan influence or gain.
MSN – Heidi Przybyla (Politico) | Published: 9/10/2023
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the 2010 Citizens United case transformed the world of politics. It loosened restrictions on campaign spending and unleashed a flow of anonymous donor money to nonprofit groups run by political activists. The conservative legal movement seized the moment with greater success than any other group, and the consequences have shaped American jurisprudence and politics in dramatic ways.
NBC News – Rebecca Kaplan, Summer Concepcion, and Sahil Kapur | Published: 9/12/2023
Speaker Kevin McCarthy directed three House committees to open an impeachment inquiry into President Biden to seek bank records and other documents from the president and his son Hunter Biden. McCarthy’s decision represents a major reversal for the speaker after he had he would not open an impeachment inquiry without a vote of the full House. McCarthy faces criticism from across the GOP spectrum due to the lack of evidence implicating the president in Hunter Biden’s transgressions.
Politico – Zach Montellaro | Published: 9/6/2023
The idea of barring Donald Trump from seeking the presidency on grounds that it would violate the 14th Amendment may be an increasingly popular constitutional argument pushed by a segment of legal scholars and activists. But it turns out election officials have been discussing how to handle it for months. The legal theory argues Trump is constitutionally disqualified from running for president under the amendment’s “insurrection clause,” which states that anyone who “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” after taking an oath of office to defend the Constitution is forbidden from holding public office.
From the States and Municipalities
CTV – Katherine DeClerq | Published: 9/6/2023
Ontario Premier Doug Ford instructed the province’s attorney general to review legislation governing lobbyists and add increased penalties, including jail time, if they break rules. The request comes amid an integrity commissioner report that highlighted how certain developers with access to staff within the housing ministry were given an unfair advantage when it came to a development deal in Clarington. The government has committed to reviewing legislation governing lobbyists in the coming weeks.
Yahoo News – Kim Chandler (Associated Press) | Published: 9/12/2203
Alabama asked the U.S. Supreme Court to let it keep Republican-drawn congressional lines in place as the state continues to fight a court order to create a second district where Black voters constitute a majority or close to it. Despite losing at the Supreme Court earlier this year in the redistricting case, the state is pursuing another appeal, hoping for a different result with the most recent Republican version of the map. Alabama asked the justices to stay a ruling issued by a three-judge panel that blocked the use of the latest districts in upcoming elections and directed a court-appointed special master to propose new lines for the state.
Associated Press News – Becky Bohrer | Published: 9/13/2023
Backers of an effort to repeal ranked voting in Alaska violated state campaign finance rules, including by channeling money through a church-affiliated organization in a way that initially concealed the source of the contributions, a new report alleges. The report from the staff for the Alaska Public Offices Commission recommends penalties of $22,500 for Art Mathias, a leader of the repeal effort, and approximately $20,000 for the church-affiliated Ranked Choice Education Association among its findings.
Voice of OC – Noah Biesiada | Published: 9/14/2023
After the corruption scandal kicked off in Anaheim last year, residents and activists throughout Orange County began asking questions about the impacts of lobbyists and if they wield outsized influence. It is a scandal that also touched on Irvine City Hall, where Mayor Farrah Khan’s former consultant Melahat Rafiei admitted to attempted bribery in 2018, forcing officials there to rethink their relationship with lobbyists. Now, new restrictions on lobbyists could be coming to after city council members voted to have city staff come back with proposals to strengthen the city’s disclosure rules.
Voice of OC – Hosam Elattar | Published: 9/13/2023
The Anaheim City Council is considering beefing up the city’s lobbyist rules in the wake of the corruption scandal and may require government relations employees to register as lobbyists. It marked the first in a series of reform discussions set to take place over the next few months. An investigation detailed a loose network of lobbyists, with little enforcement of the city’s current rules and alleged multiple high-profile lobbyists violated the law by failing to report a host of meetings with officials. Currently, only contracted lobbyists are required to register with the city.
Voice of OC – Noah Biesiada | Published: 9/7/2023
Former Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu has been wrestling with public corruption allegations from the U.S. Department of Justice over the past year, which ended when he signed a plea agreement admitting to the charges. But he did not pay for his own legal defense, his campaign donors did, a total of $300,000 according to campaign finance disclosures. California Fair Political Practices Commission rules make no mention of elected officials being able to use the funds to defend themselves from criminal prosecution.
CT News Junkie – Hugh McQuaid | Published: 9/13/2023
The publicly funded campaigns of former Sen. Joe Markley and then-Rep. Rob Sampson jointly criticized Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy in 2014, including one shared mailer, each paying half the cost. That campaign expenditure and similar ones ignited a free-speech fight that reached the state Supreme Court over whether restrictions on using public campaign funds conflicts with the First Amendment. At issue was whether Markley and Sampson’s criticism of Malloy, who was seeking reelection in 2014, was furthering their own campaigns or boosting the governor’s Republican challenger, Tom Foley.
MSN – Isaac Arnsdorf and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 9/14/2023
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis took at least six undisclosed trips on private jets and accepted lodging and dining in late 2018, according to documents that reflect his proclivity for luxury travel and leisure time with wealthy donors. The trips came during the period between DeSantis’s election and inauguration as governor. DeSantis did not report the flights or accommodations as gifts or campaign contributions, and it is unclear whether he used a separate legal option to personally reimburse for the flights at the cost of coach airfare.
Yahoo News – Mary Ellen Klas (Miami Herald) | Published: 9/8/2023
Latvala, who resigned in 2018 after allegations he had sexually harassed a legislative aide and a former lobbyist. Both women continue to stand by their allegations that Latvala, one of the most powerful men in state government, had used his positional power over them to grope them, make inappropriate sexual comments, and make sexual advances. But neither wanted to continue with an ethics trial and said they were exhausted by the emotional turmoil and five-year wait for the state to mete out justice.
Associated Press News – Kate Brumback | Published: 9/14/2023
A judge ruled former President Trump and 16 others will be tried separately from two defendants who are set to go to trial in October in the case accusing them of participating in an illegal scheme to overturn the results of the 2020 election in Georgia. Lawyers Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro had filed demands for a speedy trial. Trump and other defendants asked to be tried separately from Powell and Chesebro, with some saying they could not be ready by the October 23 trial date.
MSN – Amy Gardner (Washington Post) | Published: 9/8/2023
A federal judge denied a request from former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to move the Georgia election-interference case against him from state to federal court, a shift he had sought on the grounds he was a federal officer at the time of the actions that led to his indictment. Meadows had hoped a move to federal court could lead to a dismissal of the case because h as a federal officer, he is immune from prosecution for acts taken in the course of his normal work.
MSN – Holly Bailey (Washington Post) | Published: 9/8/2023
An Atlanta-area special grand jury that investigated alleged 2020 election interference in Georgia by Donald Trump and his allies recommended charging one of Trump’s closest associates, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, and 37 other people, a far larger group than a prosecutor ultimately charged. The final report by the special grand jury largely echoed Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’s theory of the case, alleging a sweeping criminal conspiracy to subvert Joe Biden’s legitimate election win in Georgia.
MSN – Gregory Pratt (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 9/11/2023
Less than a week after the release of a 2020 letter alleging city Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin abused her office, the head of the Chicago Board of Ethics said the board handles all such complaints properly by referring them to the city’s inspector general’s office, but it cannot do more unless it receives detailed findings from the inspector general. Under questioning for days about why the board has not acted on the letter even though it and the city Law Department received a copy in December 2020, Ethics Board Chairperson William Conlon defended the board’s actions while also declining to discuss any case specifically.
WTTW – Heather Cherone | Published: 9/12/2023
One of the leaders of Mayor Brandon Johnson’s transition team will pay a $10,000 fine to resolve charges brought by the Chicago Board of Ethics that he violated the city’s lobbying regulations. Djavan Conway, who owns Conway Consulting Group, acknowledged he failed to terminate his registration as a City Hall lobbyist in January 2021. Conway’s failure to notify officials he was not lobbying in 2022 triggered daily fines of $1,000.
Indiana Capital Chronicle – Whitney Downard | Published: 9/7/2023
The Indiana Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that would determine whether the state’s election code prohibits or limits corporate contributions to PACs that engage in independent campaign-related expenditures. Attorney James Bopp said while his client, the Indiana Right to Life Victory Fund, has not been limited by the state’s campaign finance laws or restricted from making contributions, a “plain language” reading of statute could potentially harm PAC activities in the future.
MSN – Emily Opilo (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 9/7/2023
Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott requested guidance from the Board of Ethics on how to keep his campaign separate from city business as the race for mayor begins to heat up. Scott asked for written guidance and an in-person meeting between city ethics officials and Scott’s senior staff. Scott has made moves recently that have intermingled campaign and official duties.
MSN – Matt Stout (Boston Globe) | Published: 9/8/2023
State General Andrea Campbell’s office is negotiating a potential settlement with the Massachusetts Republican Party, its former leader, and a state senator, among others, over alleged campaign finance violations, signaling the years-long probe could be nearing a close. Campaign finance regulators first referred evidence to prosecutors in 2021 that then-state GOP Chairperson Jim Lyons, as well as state Sen. Ryan Fattman and Worcester County register of probate Stephanie Fattman, may have violated various campaign finance laws during the 2020 election, including those barring people from disguising the true source of donations.
Axios – Samuel Robinson | Published: 9/8/2023
Michigan Republicans are calling on House Democrats to move on legislation to bring financial disclosure requirements to lawmakers following a media investigation of state Rep. Angela Witwer. She has maintained a close relationship with the consulting firm she founded, The Detroit News found. The firm, Edge Partnerships, has worked with trade associations and agencies like the Michigan Department of Education, whose funding is set by lawmakers, including Witwer in her influential role as House Appropriations Committee chairperson.
Detroit News – Beth LeBlanc | Published: 9/7/2023
A rarely used state ethics panel ruled an appointee to the Michigan Arts and Culture Council violated ethics policy by failing to recuse herself from several votes on grants for organizations she leads. The State Board of Ethics ruled Deborah Mikula violated two sections of the state ethics law related to conflicts-of-interest but did not violate two other provisions when she voted in favor of grants for the Michigan Library Association, where she serves as executive director, and the Cultural Advocacy Network of Michigan, where she once served as president.
Albany Times Union – Brendan Lyons | Published: 9/11/2023
A state Supreme Court justice ruled that a commission created last year to enforce ethics rules for New York’s employees and elected officials violates the state’s constitution because it is too independent. The ruling was issued in a court battle in which former Gov. Andrew Cuomo has fought against the ethics commission’s efforts to investigate a $5 million deal he received for writing a book about his administration’s handling of the pandemic. The decision is expected to be reviewed by the Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court.
MSN – Joe Anuta, Jeff Coltin, and Emily Ngo (Politico) | Published: 9/13/2023
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg released a multi-count indictment of former city Department of Buildings Commissioner Eric Ulrich, accusing him of abusing his position and in his role as a former adviser to Mayor Eric Adams. Ulrich was among seven people charged in the wide-ranging indictment. “We allege that Eric Ulrich accepted or solicited more than $150,000 worth of bribes in less than two years by monetizing each elected and appointed role he held in New York City government,” Bragg said.
MSN – Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 9/7/2023
Ohio will use the same congressional districts in 2024 that it used last year, as the state Supreme Court granted the dismissal of two legal challenges to the map the court previously deemed to be unconstitutionally gerrymandered in favor of Republicans. The plaintiffs in the lawsuits had sought the dismissal of their own cases, saying they do not want voters to be in limbo ahead of the election. They also fear that if the current map is thrown out, Republicans would draw an even more GOP-friendly map than the current one, under which Republicans hold 10 seats and Democrats hold five.
Yahoo News – Haley BeMiller (Akron Beacon Journal) | Published: 9/8/2023
State Rep. Bob Young announced his resignation from the Ohio House as he faces allegations of domestic violence and violating a restraining order. Young was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence and assault in July. He is accused of slapping his wife during a private party at his home following a fundraiser.
Tulsa World – Randy Krehbiel | Published: 9/11/2023
The Oklahoma Ethics Commission has six employees and a budget of about $820,000 a year, making it one of the smallest and least-funded state agencies. Its executive director is leaving at the end of the year and its online database will go dark during the middle of next year’s campaign season if something is not done soon. Commissioner Jarred Brejcha is confident the panel can handle the flood of money, much of it untraceable, pouring into races at every level. Others, including the exiting executive and a former commissioner, are not nearly as convinced.
MSN – Sean Collins Walsh (Philadelphia Inquirer) | Published: 9/12/2023
Court of Common Pleas Judge Joshua Roberts dismissed a lawsuit filed by the city Board of Ethics that alleged mayoral candidate Jeff Brown illegally coordinated with For a Better Philadelphia, a super PAC. Roberts’ ruling neither rejected any of the facts laid out by the board nor challenged the board’s authority to regulate super PACs, which are allowed to accept unlimited donations but are prohibited from coordinating with campaigns. Instead, the judge focused on a debate over definitions that had been central to the case.
Yahoo News – Bristow Marchant (The State) | Published: 9/8/2023
After years of failure to disclose her financial interests and campaign spending to the state, a former member of Richland County Council has been hit with a nearly $300,000 penalty by the South Carolina Ethics Commission. But commissioners gave former Councilperson Gwendolyn Kennedy a window to avoid paying most of her fine. The commission found Kennedy committed 134 separate violations of state ethics law and campaign disclosure requirements dating to her time on county council from 2016 to 2020. The commission reached its decision after an August 17 hearing, at which the commission order notes Kennedy did not appear.
Yahoo News – Allie Feinberg (Knoxville News Sentinel) | Published: 9/13/2023
The Knox County Ethics Committee is considering a complaint filed against a county commissioner and a well-known developer over whether a property sale violated the ethics code ethics code. Scott Davis of Mesana Investments transferred ownership of a plot of land to Commissioner Kyle Ward, who paid $10 for the land, which the county appraised for more than $50,000 earlier this year. The complaint alleges Ward accepted a gift of over $50,000, which violates the ethics code.
MSN – Robert Garrett and Lauren McGaughey (Dallas Morning News) | Published: 9/13/2023
No matter how his impeachment trial turns out, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s state pension is not in jeopardy. Paxton is among an elite set of elected officials. Even if they are impeached, convicted, and booted from office, state legislators and statewide officeholders such as Paxton retain their pensions. Only judges, who are enrolled in a separate pension fund, lose these retirement benefits if they are impeached and removed.
MSN – Sarah Rankin and Denise Lavoie (Associated Press) | Published: 9/11/2023
A candidate in a high-stakes legislative contest in Virginia had sex with her husband in live videos posted on a pornographic website and asked viewers to pay them money in return for carrying out specific sex acts. Susanna Gibson, who is running for a seat in the House of Delegates in a district just outside Richmond, issued a statement in which it denounced the sharing of the videos as a violation of the law and her privacy. The contest will carry significant weight in determining the balance of power in the Virginia General Assembly.
Virginia Public Media – Ben Paviour | Published: 9/11/2023
Gov. Glenn Youngkin flew on Altria’s private jet to and from an undisclosed location at an unknown time, according to campaign finance records. Neither his campaign committee nor Altria will say who else was on board or give any other details about the trip. It is one of a handful of times Youngkin has benefited from donors who have given him at least $365,000 worth of unspecified “flight services” as part of his political work. Altria is a major player in Virginia politics and the General Assembly.
September 14, 2023 •
What are your areas of expertise? I manage a portfolio of state and local jurisdictions on our website to ensure our clients adhere to the latest rules and regulations concerning communications and gifts to public officials, political contributions, and contract […]
What are your areas of expertise?
I manage a portfolio of state and local jurisdictions on our website to ensure our clients adhere to the latest rules and regulations concerning communications and gifts to public officials, political contributions, and contract procurement. I communicate with officials in my jurisdictions to ensure our understanding of new rules and regulations is accurate. Additionally, I perform client-specific research for our subscription clients and our consulting clients.
How long have you been with State and Federal Communications?
I have been with the company for almost four years.
How do you help our clients?
In addition to providing compliance solutions through our subscription services, I file lobbying activity reports on behalf of our clients and respond to Ask the Expert questions from our subscription clients.
September 14, 2023 •
Gov. Kay Ivey announced the dates for a special election to fill the House District 10 seat vacated by Rep. David Cole after pleading guilty to a charge of voter fraud. The primary election for the seat will be held […]
Gov. Kay Ivey announced the dates for a special election to fill the House District 10 seat vacated by Rep. David Cole after pleading guilty to a charge of voter fraud.
The primary election for the seat will be held on December 12, and if necessary, the primary runoff will be held on January 9, 2024.
The special general election will be held on March 26, 2024.
State and Federal Communications, Inc. provides research and consulting services for government relations professionals on lobbying laws, procurement lobbying laws, political contribution laws in the United States and Canada. Learn more by visiting stateandfed.com.