June 18, 2018 •

Monday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Elections Maine: Election Reformers Cheer as Maine Again Approves Ranked-Choice Voting by Allegra Kirkland for Talking Points Memo Minnesota: Supreme Court Strikes Down Political Dress Code at Polls in Latest Decision Involving Voting by Richard Wolf for USA Today Ethics […]

Elections

Maine: Election Reformers Cheer as Maine Again Approves Ranked-Choice Voting by Allegra Kirkland for Talking Points Memo

Minnesota: Supreme Court Strikes Down Political Dress Code at Polls in Latest Decision Involving Voting by Richard Wolf for USA Today

Ethics

National: Customs and Border Protection Agent Faces Inquiry After Questioning Reporter About Her Sources by Shane Harris, Matt Zapotosky, and Jack Gillum for Washington Post

California: ACLU Suit Targets Law That Bars Horn Honking at Protests by Teri Figueroa for San Diego Union Tribune

Florida: Skybox Hopping, Connections with Adam Corey Draw Elected Officials Into Ethics Report by Jeffrey Schweers for Tallahassee Democrat

New York: While Putnam Residents Pay Full Fare at Golf Clubhouse, County Executive, Ally Get Breaks by David McKay Wilson for The Journal News

Lobbying

Georgia: Candidate for Georgia Governor Bought Condo from Lobbyist by Kevin Sack for New York Times

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June 15, 2018 •

Louisiana to Convene Third Special Session

The Louisiana Legislature will convene its third special session of the year on Monday, June 18, 2018. Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a call for the session on the same day he signed the skeleton operating budget passed by the […]

The Louisiana Legislature will convene its third special session of the year on Monday, June 18, 2018.

Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a call for the session on the same day he signed the skeleton operating budget passed by the legislature in the last special session.

Lawmakers will aim to pass legislation regarding state sales and use tax to raise money to fund state services taking deep cuts in the current budget.

Gov. Edwards and legislators have been meeting in the interim hoping to reach an effective solution before the deadline for adjournment.

The special session must adjourn no later than June 27, 2018.

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June 15, 2018 •

Potential Special Session on the Horizon for Maine

The Maine Legislature is polling members to decide if they should return for a special session. The President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House may call a special session if they have the consent of the majority […]

The Maine Legislature is polling members to decide if they should return for a special session.

The President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House may call a special session if they have the consent of the majority of members.

Legislators want to finish business from the regular session regarding Medicaid expansion and minimum wage increases.

If agreed upon, the special session will likely be called for June 19.

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June 15, 2018 •

News You Can Use Digest – June 15, 2018

      Federal: Meet the Guys Who Tape Trump’s Papers Back Together Politico – Annie Karni | Published: 6/10/2018 Under the Presidential Records Act, the White House must preserve all memos, letters, emails, and papers the president touches, sending them to the […]

 

 

 

Federal:

Meet the Guys Who Tape Trump’s Papers Back Together
Politico – Annie Karni | Published: 6/10/2018

Under the Presidential Records Act, the White House must preserve all memos, letters, emails, and papers the president touches, sending them to the National Archives for safekeeping as historical records. But President Trump has an odd and enduring habit of ripping up papers when he is done with them – what some people described as his unofficial “filing system.” White House aides realized early on they were unable to stop Trump. Instead, staffers have the fragments of paper collected from the Oval Office, as well as the private residence, and send it to the records management office to reassemble. “We got Scotch tape, the clear kind,” said Solomon Lartey, a records management analyst. “You found pieces and taped them back together and then you gave it back to the supervisor.”

US Lifts Secrecy on Foreign Lobbying Opinions
Talking Points Memo – Chad Day and Eric Tucker (Associated Press) | Published: 6/8/2018

For the first time, the U.S. Justice Department began releasing advisory opinions about the Foreign Agents Registration Act. The law requires lobbyists to detail their involvement in advocating for foreign governments. The release included memos issued since 2010. The department had kept the opinions secret for decades, a point of contention for transparency advocates and lawyers who specialize in advising clients on complying with the law. The opinions provide an unprecedented view into the thinking of a specialized Justice Department unit whose influence has grown in recent years, propelled by more aggressive enforcement and a special counsel investigation focused on foreign influence operations inside the U.S.

From the States and Municipalities:

Alabama: John Merrill Questions Alabama Ethics Commission’s Waivers of Fines
AL.com – Mike Cason | Published: 6/8/2018

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill is questioning the state Ethics Commission’s decision to waive fines for violations of campaign finance law. The penalties are in force for the first time with the 2018 elections. The commission voted to waive civil fines levied against 33 candidates and political committees by Merrill’s office. The fines were for late filing of campaign finance reports, which are required by the Fair Campaign Practices Act to show who contributes to campaigns and how that money is spent. The filing requirements are not new. But a 2015 law aimed to step up enforcement, giving the secretary of state the authority to levy fines and the Ethics Commission the authority to investigate campaign finance violations.

Arkansas: Former Arkansas Lobbyist Pleads Guilty in Bribery Scheme
WRAL – Kelly Kissell (Associated Press) | Published: 6/7/2018

Former lobbyist Milton “Rusty” Cranford pleaded guilty to bribing elected officials in Arkansas. Cranford admitted paying bribes to former state Sen. Jon Woods, former state Rep. Henry Wilkins IV, and a legislator identified only as “Arkansas Senator A.” According to federal prosecutors, the lawmakers diverted state funds and performed legislative favors for Cranford and companies he represented, at times holding up state agency budgets. Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson, a nephew of Gov. Asa Hutchinson, matches the description of “Senator A.”

California: Radical Plan to Split California Into Three States Earns Spot on November Ballot
Los Angeles Times – John Myers | Published: 6/12/2018

A proposal to partition California into three separate states earned enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot. The initiative calls for splitting the Golden State into northern and southern regions, as well as the central coast and Los Angeles Basin. “Three states will get us better infrastructure, better education, and lower taxes,” said Tim Draper, the Silicon Valley venture capitalist who sponsored the ballot measure. The proposal faces an uphill battle. If Californians vote for the separation, the state Legislature would have to approve it, and then Congress would still have to ratify the measure. If approved, it would be the first division of an existing U.S. state since West Virginia was formed out of a part of Virginia in 1863.

Colorado: Federal Judge Finds Portions of Colorado’s Campaign Finance Complaint Process Are Unconstitutional in Ruling Likely to Prompt Big Change
Denver Post – Jesse Paul | Published: 6/13/2018

U.S. District Court Judge Raymond Moore ruled that Colorado’s procedure for bringing campaign finance complaints is unconstitutional. The law allows anyone in the public to file a complaint that is automatically forwarded, without review for merit by the secretary of state’s office, to an administrative law judge. Moore’s ruling essentially means there now has to be some kind of screening mechanism put in place to prevent frivolous cases that can leave defendants facing high attorney fees. Colorado’s deputy secretary of state, Suzanne Staiert, said the decision now means her office has to find a way to satisfy the vetting requirements.

Florida: Ethics Commission: Fernandez misused position to get FSU tickets, catering discount
Tallahassee Democrat – Jeff Burlew | Published: 6/13/2018

The Florida Commission on Ethics said former Tallahassee City Manager Rick Fernandez violated the state’s ethics laws when he accepted Florida State University football tickets from a local lobbyist and a four-figure catering discount from the city-backed Edison restaurant. The panel said Fernandez solicited the football tickets and catering discount in violation of Florida’s gift law, and he either knew or should have known the gifts were given to influence his official action as city manager. The commission did not find probable cause on several other allegations involving a former Edison employee who was given a job at City Hall after Fernandez got the catering discount.

Florida: Lobbyists Face New Requirements at Citizens
WPEC – Jim Turner (News Service of Florida) | Published: 6/13/2018

Lobbyists who represent clients at the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. will have to comply with a new registration process. A registration website will be available August 1, with lobbyists expected to comply with the policy starting September 1, said Citizens President Barry Gilway. All lobbyists currently registered with the executive branch will receive a letter advising them of the changes, Gilway said. The rules would apply to anyone that wants to sway Citizens policy or contracting and who contacts Citizens staff or board members. The rules will not apply to attorneys, agents, adjusters, or other people representing clients in insurance claims or judicial proceedings.

Montana: Governor Signs Executive Order Targeting Dark Money
Montana Public Radio – Corine Cates-Carney | Published: 6/8/2018

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock signed an executive order that aims to shine more light on political donations. Contractors will have to disclose if they have made campaign contributions in excess of $2,500 in the last two years to so-called dark money organizations. Those are groups that are not legally required to make their donor lists public. Any state contractor selling more than $25,000 in services, or $50,000 worth of goods to the state will have to report dark money contributions. According to the governor’s office, there are roughly 500 to 600 state contractors who would fall under the new disclosure requirements.

New York
IDC-Independence Party Campaign Finance Deal Declared Illegal
Albany Times Union – David Lombardo | Published: 6/7/2018

A fundraising agreement between a statewide third party and the New York Senate’s now-defunct Independent Democratic Conference has been deemed invalid by a state Supreme Court justice. The arrangement with the Independence Party boosted then-party leader Jeff Klein’s ability to raise and spend campaign money, as the new account was able to accept six-figure donations and transfer unlimited amounts to candidates. The increased fundraising muscle was flexed in 2016 and had been expected to play a pivotal role in September, when the eight former members of the conference may face Democratic primaries.

New York: New York Files Suit Against President Trump, Alleging His Charity Engaged in ‘Illegal Conduct’
Chicago Tribune – David Fahrenthold (Washington Post) | Published: 6/14/2018

New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood filed a lawsuit against President Trump, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, and members of the Trump family, alleging the charity violated federal and state law. The complaint alleges the foundation provided illegal support to Trump’s 2016 presidential bid by using public funding to promote his candidacy, and raised more than $2.8 million to support the campaign. The lawsuit also says Trump used the foundation to cover legal fees and to promote his properties and businesses. Underwood asked a state judge to dissolve the foundation and sent referral letters to the IRS and FEC for possible further action.

Ohio: Court: States can purge voters who don’t vote or respond to warnings
USA Today – Richard Wolf | Published: 6/11/2018

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled states can clean up their voting rolls by targeting people who have not cast ballots in a while. The justices rejected arguments in a case from Ohio that the practice violates a federal law intended to increase the ranks of registered voters. A handful of other states also use voters’ inactivity to trigger a process that could lead to their removal from the voting rolls. Ohio asks people who have not voted in two years to confirm their eligibility. If they do, or if they show up to vote over the next four years, voters remain registered. If they do nothing, their names eventually fall off the list of registered voters. Justice Stephen Breyer, writing in dissent, said the 1993 law prohibits removing someone from the voting rolls “by reason of the person’s failure to vote. In my view, Ohio’s program does just that.”

Oklahoma: Oklahoma Ethics Commission Raises Fees to Stay in Operation
The Oklahoman – Nolan Clay | Published: 6/9/2018

The Oklahoma Ethics Commission voted to raise its registration fees from $150 to $250. The change goes into effect July 1. Commissioners acted after they learned the agency could run out of money next fiscal year. They already voted in May to sue over the lack of funding the commission got from the state Legislature. Lawmakers are making the ethics agency use its revolving fund to operate. The fund is made up of the fees collected from lobbyists, candidates, political parties, and PACs.

Washington: Why Google Won’t Run Political Ads in Washington State for Now
Seattle Times – Jim Brunner and Christine Clarridge | Published: 6/7/2018

Google stopped accepting political ads in Washington, the same day that changes to the state’s campaign finance reporting requirements and enforcement procedures took effect. Google acted days after Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson sued the company, along with Facebook, saying the firms are not obeying state law on political ad transparency. The Public Disclosure Commission issued guidelines related to the new law and passed an emergency rule that clarified that digital ad companies like Google are subject to state law requiring them to maintain publicly available information about political ads, just like television stations and other media.

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June 14, 2018 •

Guam Election Commission Approves Special Election

The Guam Election Commission approved a special election for August 25. The special election will fill the seat vacated by Public Auditor Doris Brooks. Brooks resigned her position, effective June 22, to run as a candidate for congressional delegate. The […]

The Guam Election Commission approved a special election for August 25.

The special election will fill the seat vacated by Public Auditor Doris Brooks. Brooks resigned her position, effective June 22, to run as a candidate for congressional delegate.

The winner of the special election will complete the remaining two years of Brooks’ term.

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June 14, 2018 •

Amendments to Alberta’s Lobbying Law Take Effect

On June 11, several significant amendments to Alberta’s provincial lobbying law took effect when the Lobbyists Amendment Act, 2018, came into force by Royal Assent. The most substantial change in the existing Lobbyist Act is the reduction of an organizational […]

On June 11, several significant amendments to Alberta’s provincial lobbying law took effect when the Lobbyists Amendment Act, 2018, came into force by Royal Assent. The most substantial change in the existing Lobbyist Act is the reduction of an organizational lobbyist’s time threshold from 100 hours annually to 50 hours annually.

For the purposes of determining whether lobbying amounts to 50 hours annually, time spent lobbying includes time spent preparing for communication and communicating with a public office holder. Contingency lobbying is now prohibited under the Act.

Another change to the law amends the definition of lobbying to statutorily include grassroots communication as a form of regulated lobbying requiring registration. Grassroots communication does not include communication between an organization and its members, officers or employees or between a person or partnership and its shareholders, partners, officers or employees.

A lobbyist gift ban has been enacted and reads as follows, “Lobbyists are prohibited from giving or promising any gift, favor or other benefit to the public office holder being, or intended to be, lobbied that the public office holder is prohibited from accepting or that, if given, would place the public office holder in a conflict of interest.”

An additional exemption to the requirement of registering as a lobbyist was added for individuals who are recognized as elders by their aboriginal community.

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June 14, 2018 •

Thursday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance Colorado: “Federal Judge Finds Portions of Colorado’s Campaign Finance Complaint Process Are Unconstitutional in Ruling Likely to Prompt Big Change” by Jesse Paul for Denver Post North Carolina: “Digital Ad Disclosure Bill Squeaks Past Key House Panel” by […]

Campaign Finance

Colorado: “Federal Judge Finds Portions of Colorado’s Campaign Finance Complaint Process Are Unconstitutional in Ruling Likely to Prompt Big Change” by Jesse Paul for Denver Post

North Carolina: “Digital Ad Disclosure Bill Squeaks Past Key House Panel” by Laura Leslie for WRAL

Elections

National: “Republican Voters Embrace Trump-Style Candidates” by Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns (New York Times) for WRAL

California: “Radical Plan to Split California Into Three States Earns Spot on November Ballot” by John Myers for Los Angeles Times

Ethics

National: “EPA Chief Scott Pruitt Tapped Aide, Donors to Help Wife Land Job at Conservative Group” by Juliet Eilperin, Josh Dawsey, Brady Dennis, and Shawn Boburg (Washington Post) for Chicago Tribune

Florida: “Ethics Commission: Fernandez misused position to get FSU tickets, catering discount” by Jeff Burlew for Tallahassee Democrat

New York: “Ex-Lawmaker Pleads Guilty to Misusing Superstorm Sandy Funds” by Associated Press for New York Daily News

Lobbying

Canada: “Lobbying Czar Calls for Federal Investment after 10 Years of Stagnant Funding” by Teresa Wright (Canadian Press) for CTV News

Florida: “Lobbyists Face New Requirements at Citizens” by Jim Turner (News Service of Florida) for WPEC

Redistricting

Pennsylvania: “Amendment to State Redistricting Bill May Scuttle” by Liz Navratil, Gillian McGoldrick, and Jonathan Lai for Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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June 13, 2018 •

Wednesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance National: “Web of Elite Russians Met with NRA Execs During 2016 Campaign” by Peter Stone and Greg Gordon for McClatchy DC Massachusetts: “Gov. Charlie Baker’s Campaign Paid for Emails Sent by Mass GOP” by Shira Schoenberg for MassLive.com […]

Campaign Finance

National: “Web of Elite Russians Met with NRA Execs During 2016 Campaign” by Peter Stone and Greg Gordon for McClatchy DC

Massachusetts: “Gov. Charlie Baker’s Campaign Paid for Emails Sent by Mass GOP” by Shira Schoenberg for MassLive.com

Ethics

National: “Judge in Emoluments Case Questions Defense of Trump’s Hotel Profits” by Sharon LaFraniere (New York Times) for WRAL

National: “Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump Made at Least $82 Million in Outside Income Last Year While Serving in the White House, Filings Show” by Amy Brittain, Asley Parker, and Anu Narayanswamy (Washington Post) for Chicago Tribune

California: “Second Commissioner Resigns from California’s Political Watchdog Agency” by Taryn Luna for Sacramento Bee

New Jersey: “On Key Votes, School Boards Bypass Conflicts of Interest. Is This in the Public Interest?” by Meghan Grant for Bergen Record

New York: “Sam Hoyt Sexual Harassment Decision Spurs Criticism of NY Ethics Board” by Joe Campbell for Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Lobbying

National: “Senators: Convicted Lobbyists Need to Disclose Their Record” by Kate Ackley for Roll Call

National: “This Woman Is an Exceptionally Effective Capitol Hill Lobbyist. She Also Has Down Syndrome.” by Alioson Kline (Washington Post) for Fargo Forum

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June 12, 2018 •

Tuesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance Alabama: “John Merrill Questions Alabama Ethics Commission’s Waivers of Fines” by Mike Cason for AL.com Arizona: “Critics Slam Michele Reagan Over Election Funding Site ‘That Doesn’t Work’” by Dustin Gardiner for Arizona Republic Colorado: “Judge Dismisses Campaign Complaint […]

Campaign Finance

Alabama: “John Merrill Questions Alabama Ethics Commission’s Waivers of Fines” by Mike Cason for AL.com

Arizona: “Critics Slam Michele Reagan Over Election Funding Site ‘That Doesn’t Work’” by Dustin Gardiner for Arizona Republic

Colorado: “Judge Dismisses Campaign Complaint Against Denver Council President, Saying State Law Doesn’t Apply to City” by Jon Murray for Denver Post

Elections

National: “Court: States can purge voters who don’t vote or respond to warnings” by Richard Wolf for USA Today

Ethics

National: “Meet the Guys Who Tape Trump’s Papers Back Together” by Annie Karni for Politico

Florida: “Ousted Tallahassee City Manager Rick Fernandez Slapped with State Ethics Violations” by Jeff Burlew and Jeffrey Schweers for Tallahassee Democrat

Illinois: “Rauner Signs Ethics Overhaul Amid Harassment Allegations at the Capitol” by Monique Garcia for Chicago Tribune

Missouri: “Jean Peters Baker Declines to File Charges against Eric Greitens” by Steve Vickrodt, Bryan Lowry, and Allison Kite for Kansas City Star

Oklahoma: “Oklahoma Ethics Commission Raises Fees to Stay in Operation” by Nolan Clay for The Oklahoman

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June 11, 2018 •

Oklahoma Ethics Commission Raises Registration Fees

The Oklahoma Ethics Commission voted Friday to increase lobbying and campaign finance fees to avoid a potential financial crisis. Because the Legislature refused to give the agency any money from the general revenue fund, the commission could run out of […]

The Oklahoma Ethics Commission voted Friday to increase lobbying and campaign finance fees to avoid a potential financial crisis.

Because the Legislature refused to give the agency any money from the general revenue fund, the commission could run out of money next fiscal year.

In the past, the commission was given an appropriation to use for operational expenses. It then used the money generated from fees to fund ethics investigations.

This year; however, the Legislature instructed the agency to use fees as its sole source of funding.

Commissioners claim lawmakers failed to fund the agency in retaliation for imposing strict ethics rules. The commission is expected to file suit with the Oklahoma Supreme Court to address the lack of funding.

All registration fees will increase $100 effective July 1.

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June 11, 2018 •

Monday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance Missouri: “Lawsuit Seeks to Block St. Louis County Charter Amendments from August Primary Ballot” by Jeremy Kohler for St. Louis Post-Dispatch Montana: “Governor Signs Executive Order Targeting Dark Money” by Corine Cates-Carney for Montana Public Radio New York: […]

Campaign Finance

Missouri: “Lawsuit Seeks to Block St. Louis County Charter Amendments from August Primary Ballot” by Jeremy Kohler for St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Montana: “Governor Signs Executive Order Targeting Dark Money” by Corine Cates-Carney for Montana Public Radio

New York: “IDC-Independence Party Campaign Finance Deal Declared Illegal” by David Lombardo for Albany Times Union

Washington: “Why Google Won’t Run Political Ads in Washington State for Now” by Jim Brunner and Christine Clarridge for Seattle Times

Ethics

National: “Mueller Hits Manafort with New Obstruction of Justice Charges” by Josh Gerstein and Darren Samuelsohn for Politico

National: “Ex-Senate Aide Charged in Leak Case Where Times Reporter’s Records Were Seized” by Adam Goldman, Nicholas Fandos, and Katie Benner (New York Times) for WRAL

Arkansas: “Former Arkansas Lobbyist Pleads Guilty in Bribery Scheme” by Kelly Kissell (Associated Press) for WRAL

Illinois: “Speaker Madigan’s Chief of Staff Resigns Hours After Aide Accused Him of Repeated Sexually Inappropriate Comments” by Kim Geiger, Ray Long, and Monique Garcia for Chicago Tribune

Lobbying

National: “US Lifts Secrecy on Foreign Lobbying Opinions” by Chad Day and Eric Tucker (Associated Press) for Talking Points Memo

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June 8, 2018 •

FARA Advisory Opinions Now Available to Public

On June 8, the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) Registration Unit released several years’ worth of advisory opinions previously unavailable to the public. The advisory opinions, covering the period from January 1, 2010, to the present, […]

On June 8, the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) Registration Unit released several years’ worth of advisory opinions previously unavailable to the public.

The advisory opinions, covering the period from January 1, 2010, to the present, had been previously issued to individuals and lobbyists concerning registration and other issues falling under FARA. 49 advisory opinions concerning FARA have been issued by the DOJ since January 1, 2010.

Also included with the release of the advisory opinions are three additional letters sent in response to requests for general information.

Future advisory opinions will be made publicly available and posted on the DOJ’s website periodically.

The advisory opinions can be found here.

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June 8, 2018 •

News You Can Use Digest – June 8, 2018

      Federal: A Courtside View of Scott Pruitt’s Cozy Ties with a Billionaire Coal Baron MSN – Steve Eder, Hiroko Tabuchi, and Eric Lipton (New York Times) | Published: 6/2/2018 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt enjoyed special access for […]

 

 

 

Federal:

A Courtside View of Scott Pruitt’s Cozy Ties with a Billionaire Coal Baron
MSN – Steve Eder, Hiroko Tabuchi, and Eric Lipton (New York Times) | Published: 6/2/2018

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt enjoyed special access for a University of Kentucky basketball game last December, scoring two of the best seats in the arena in a section reserved for season-ticket holders who had donated at least $1 million to the university. Pruitt and his son sat in seats belonging to Joseph Craft III, a billionaire coal executive who has engaged in an aggressive campaign to reverse the Obama administration’s environmental crackdown on the coal industry. Pruitt’s attendance at the game followed a year of regulatory victories for Craft, who maintains close ties to Pruitt even as he has lobbied the EPA on issues important to his company, Alliance Resource Partners.

Trade Groups in Turmoil in the Trump Era
Roll Call – Kate Ackley | Published: 6/7/2018

Trade associations, traditionally the backbone of K Street’s lobbying corridor, find themselves in the throes of disruption. These multimillion-dollar organizations are clamoring for ways to boost membership, and sometimes even keep their doors open, as they work to stay relevant amid the political and policy uncertainty of Washington during the era of President Trump. A number of high-profile, highly paid association chiefs have left or are on their way out, while some groups have lost significant members or are folding into other organizations, a sign that associations feel the dual storm of political turmoil and increasing pressure from their membership.

Trump Lawyer Payments Fuel AT&T Shareholders’ Push to Know More About Political Spending
Dallas Morning News – Melissa Repko | Published: 6/6/2018

Long before AT&T found itself under fire for hiring President Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen, some of the company’s shareholders sent up a warning: secrecy surrounding how it spends money in Washington, D.C. could put its reputation at risk. For five years, a group of shareholders has pushed AT&T to disclose how much it funds industry groups and tax-exempt organizations that engage in political activities. Companies are facing pressure from shareholders to reveal how they spend money to influence legislation on Capitol Hill. But those concerns took on new relevancy at AT&T when it became public that the company paid $600,000 to Cohen to advise on various matters.

From the States and Municipalities:

Alabama: An Alabama Sheriff Kept $750,000 Meant to Buy Food for Inmates. Voters Just Replaced Him.
Seattle Times – Eli Rosenberg (Washington Post) | Published: 6/6/2018

Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin, criticized for making money from the county jail’s food program, was defeated in a primary election. Alabama gives sheriffs money to feed each prisoner, and sheriffs got to pocket anything that is left over. It was reported that Entrekin pocketed more than $750,000 over the past three years from a source he identified as “food provisions,” according to ethics disclosures. It was also reported that Entrekin and his wife purchased a home for $740,000 in September.

California: Facebook Tried to Rein in Fake Ads. It Fell Short in a California Race.
MSN – Sheera Frenkel (New York Times) | Published: 6/3/2018

Facebook has faced difficulties as the company aims to prevent manipulation of its ad system in elections, especially as the midterms loom this November. While Facebook has introduced several measures to improve the transparency of political ads on its platform, some groups and individuals appear to be finding ways to flout the new restrictions, and company has not been able to catch them. That raises questions about whether there are other gaps.

Florida: Behind Florida’s Payments to Victims, Links to Lobbyists
Gainesville Sun – Gary Fineout (Associated Press) | Published: 6/4/2018

Of the $37.5 million in claims bills – payments to victims and families harmed by government actions – approved over the past two years, $16.9 million was awarded to victims represented by a lobbyist who is the brother of Florida’s outgoing House speaker, Richard Corcoran. Lobbying records show Michael Corcoran’ firm collected at least $89,000 in fees last year for its work on claims bills and is in line to receive tens of thousands more this year. During the 2013 and 2014 sessions, legislators did not approve a single claims bill, in part due to opposition by then-Senate President Don Gaetz, who said it seemed bills were passing based not on their substance, but the effectiveness of the lobbyists behind them.

Louisiana: Louisiana Lawmakers Are Pushing Bills That Benefit Their Own Businesses. And It’s Perfectly Legal.
ProPublica – Rebekah Allen (New Orleans Advocate) | Published: 6/6/2018

Louisiana’s ethics laws allow legislators to write, advocate for, and cast votes on bills that would enrich themselves, their relatives, and their clients, as long as others in the same affected industry would benefit similarly. Regardless of the law, watchdogs say, such advocacy is troubling. If a lawmaker steps over the line while pushing a bill to benefit himself or herself, complaints can only be brought forward by other members of the Legislature, not the public at large. “Would you want someone on a jury who will gain financially depending on the outcome of a particular decision? It just shows the craziness of our system,” said Pearson Cross, a political science professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Missouri: In About-Face, New Missouri Gov. Parson Says He Won’t Accept Lobbyist Gifts
Kansas City Star – Jason Hancock | Published: 6/6/2018

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson will abide by an executive order signed by his predecessor last year that prohibits him from accepting any gifts from lobbyists. The ban extends to his taxpayer-funded staff as well. The announcement is an about-face for Parson, who was the only statewide elected official to take any lobbyist gifts in 2017. During his six years in the state Senate, Parson and his staff accepted more than $30,000 worth of lobbyist gifts. The order also prohibits staff members from lobbying the administration upon termination of their employment.

Oregon: Former Oregon First Lady Cylvia Hayes to File for Bankruptcy, Attorney Says
Portland Oregonian – Jeff Manning and Hillary Borrud | Published: 6/6/2018

Cylvia Hayes, Oregon’s former first lady, will file for bankruptcy, in part to get out from under about $125,000 in debts and penalties she accrued in her legal battle to keep her emails secret. The Oregon Government Ethics Commission found Hayes misused her position as first lady and a policy adviser to secure consulting contracts worth more than $200,000. Her lawyers and the commission are now trying to reach a settlement on the fines, which could run as much as $110,000.

South Carolina: Longtime Richland Sen. Courson Resigns, Enters Guilty Plea in Corruption Probe
The State – John Monk | Published: 6/4/2018

South Carolina Sen. John Courson pleaded guilty to a corruption charge and resigned his seat. He also agreed to cooperate in the investigation of corruption at the statehouse that has resulted in guilty pleas and resignations from three other lawmakers. Courson’s plea came as his trial was about to begin on charges of misconduct in office and converting campaign money for his personal use. He said he sent campaign contributions to his political consultant, Richard Quinn & Associates, who would give him a portion back to cover years of unpaid personal campaign reimbursements. State law does not allow candidates to do that. Courson also failed to itemize the reimbursements on his disclosure reports.

South Carolina
S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson Hasn’t Severed Ties to Controversial Quinn Family
Greenville News – Kirk Brown (Anderson Independent Mail) | Published: 6/4/2018

Despite years of negative publicity and withering criticism from political rivals, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson has not cut his financial ties to the controversial Quinn family. As part of his bid for a third term, records show Wilson has made $117,000 in campaign expenditures since 2015 to Richard Quinn & Associates, Richard Quinn’s daughter, Rebecca Mustian, and her company, Spring Strategies. Those payments came while Richard Quinn, his firm, and his son, former state Rep. Rick Quinn, were at the center of a statehouse corruption probe. Mustian was not implicated in the investigation.

Washington: Facebook and Google Get Sued by Washington State Over Political Ads
Governing – Jim Brunner (Tribune News Service) | Published: 6/4/2018

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed campaign finance lawsuits against Google and Facebook, alleging the companies “failed to maintain legally required information on Washington state political advertising” placed online since 2013. Ferguson said companies that accept political advertising are required to keep tabs on who buys the advertising, and make that information available to the public. Collected information includes the name of the candidate or measure, dates the ads ran, who sponsored it, and the total cost spent. Once focused largely on television, campaigns have increasingly turned to online advertising in recent elections.

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June 7, 2018 •

Ask the Experts – Required California Political Contribution Reports

My employer makes corporate contributions in California.  We have not yet exceeded $10,000 in calendar year 2018.  The primary election and special elections are taking place, along with the general election in the fall.  If we decide to make contributions, […]

My employer makes corporate contributions in California.  We have not yet exceeded $10,000 in calendar year 2018.  The primary election and special elections are taking place, along with the general election in the fall.  If we decide to make contributions, when do we have a late contribution report due?

The California “Late Contribution Report” [Form 497], sometimes referred to as the “24-hour report” is due during the 90-day period preceding any election if all of the following criteria are met:

  • The contribution is $1,000 or more, or multiple contributions aggregating $1,000 or more, to a single candidate, ballot measure committee, or political party.  This includes non-monetary and in-kind contributions…Read the full article

For more information, be sure to check out the “Registration and Reports Required” section of the U.S. Political Contributions Compliance Laws online publication for California. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

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