August 31, 2018 •

News You Can Use Digest – August 31, 2018

      National: Democratic Embrace of Diverse Candidates Collides with Barbed Politics of Trump Era WRAL – Jeremy Peters (New York Times) | Published: 8/29/2018 The diverse cast of Democratic candidates this year is setting up a striking contrast for voters at […]

 

 

 

National:

Democratic Embrace of Diverse Candidates Collides with Barbed Politics of Trump Era
WRAL – Jeremy Peters (New York Times) | Published: 8/29/2018

The diverse cast of Democratic candidates this year is setting up a striking contrast for voters at a time when some in the Republican Party, taking their cues from President Trump, are embracing messages with explicit appeals to racial anxieties and resentment. The result is making racial and ethnic issues and conflicts central in the November elections in a way that is far more explicit than the recent past. Racial discord has never been far from the surface of American politics. But any effort by Republicans in recent years to tread lightly around racially sensitive issues has been tossed aside by Trump, who has created a permission structure for other politicians to mimic his behavior, political strategists said.

Women in Politics Often Must Run a Gantlet of Vile Intimidation
WRAL – Maggie Astor (New York Times) | Published: 8/23/2018

A record number of women ran or are running in 2018 for the Senate, House, and governorships. Many more are running for state Legislatures and local offices. In the process, they are finding that harassment and threats, already common for women, can be amplified in political races – especially if the candidate is a member of a minority group. No independent organization appears to formally track incidents of harassment, and the Democratic and Republican National Committees did not respond to inquiries asking whether they did. But several groups that work with candidates said they routinely provided personal safety training.

Federal:

Candidates Say ‘I Approve This Message’ Because of John McCain
Roll Call – Kate Ackley | Published: 8/25/2018

The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act survived a well-funded legal challenge in 2003 only to suffer subsequent and major rollbacks in court and at the FEC. While the long effort to enact the law made U.S. Sen. John McCain a pariah in some GOP circles, it remains a significant legacy of the self-declared maverick lawmaker and 2008 Republican presidential nominee. In addition to banning large corporate donations to the party committees, the law also required candidates to say they approved their campaign ads.

Microsoft Hopes to Protect Candidates Without Violating Campaign Contribution Law
Seattle Times – Tim O’Brien (Associated Press) | Published: 8/23/2018

Microsoft requested an FEC advisory opinion to make sure the company’s new free package of online security protections for “election-sensitive” customers does not count as an in-kind campaign contribution. Corporations are typically barred from donating to federal candidates and political committees under federal law. Microsoft said it is offering its AccountGuard service on a nonpartisan basis to federal, state, and local candidates, party committees, and certain nonprofit groups. The company told the commission it might also work with other tech firms on coordinated election security efforts, though no agreements have been made.

When Is an Offense Impeachable? Look to the Framers for the Answer
MSN – Adam Liptak (New York Times) | Published: 8/22/2018

The campaign finance violation President Trump’s former lawyer accused him of – arranging to pay hush money to influence an election – may be the sort of offense the drafters of the Constitution meant to cover in granting Congress the power to impeach and remove a president. Misconduct before assuming office is not typically a fit subject for impeachment, legal scholars said. But there is one important exception. “The main and possibly only form of pre-Inauguration Day conduct that would properly qualify as an impeachable offense is conduct relating directly to the acquisition of the presidential office,” said Joshua Matz, an author of “To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment.”

From the States and Municipalities:

Alabama: Ethics Law Changes Mulled by Revision Commission
Montgomery Advertiser – Brian Lyman | Published: 8/28/2018

The ruling that upheld former House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s conviction on 11 of 12 corruption charges underscored the need to tighten the language in Alabama’s ethics law, state Attorney General Steve Marshall said. The Alabama Code of Ethics Clarification and Reform Commission met to discuss the outlines of changes to the law, including the definition of a principal, which is defined as a company or person that hires a lobbyist; what lobbyists and elected officials can and cannot give; and the punishments for violating the law. Seven of the counts against Hubbard were for receiving money or favors from principals. The appeals court did not find fault with his convictions but said there could be “a serious constitutional issue” in other cases without more clarity in the law.

California: Booze Fuels Business – and Bad Behavior – at California Capitol
Sacramento Bee – Alexei Koseff and Taryn Luna | Published: 8/29/2018

Mixing work with alcohol has been a fundamental part of the culture in Sacramento for decades. But the blurred lines between business hours and playtime have given way to bouts of excess, from drunk driving to sexual misconduct to addiction. Fundraisers are a daily occurrence at the downtown bars and restaurants around the Capitol; there were 19 evening functions over the course of three days recently, according to the Capitol Morning Report, including a “margarita mixer” and a “tequila tasting.” Lawmakers note they are largely stuck away from home for three or four nights a week with not much else to do. Many lobbyists believe these receptions are where the real work gets done.

Colorado: Campaign Financing in Denver Could Look Different Come 2020 – It’s Up to Voters Now
Denverite – Estaben Hernandez | Published: 8/27/2018

The Denver City Council approved a campaign finance reform measure for the November ballot. The proposal would establish a public financing system, with eligible candidates receiving a nine-to-one match of donations up to $50. It would lower donation limits for individuals to candidates seeking city offices, and prohibit direct campaign contributions from corporations, limited liability companies, and labor groups.

Georgia: Georgia County Rejects Plan to Close 7 Polling Places in Majority-Black Area
New York Times – Richard Fausset | Published: 8/23/2018

Election officials in a majority black Georgia county voted to scrap a widely condemned proposal to eliminate most of their polling places in the runup to the November election. An independent consultant recommended the consolidation said the seven polling places in question do not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The polling places in question had all been used for the primary election in May and the primary runoff election in July, and critics said officials should have been aware of the compliance issues. Civil Rights and Voting groups applauded the decision but said the episode demonstrates the need to restore Voting Rights Act protections that were tossed out by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013.

Maine: Ethics Commission Says Slashing Casino Campaign Fine Was in State’s Best Interests
Lewiston Sun Journal – Scott Thistle (Portland Press Herald) | Published: 8/30/2018

Maine’s ethics commission voted to settle penalties for campaign finance violations with two backers of a failed 2017 casino referendum, making them pay $100,000 of the $500,000 in fines the state assessed last year. The referendum would have given rights to the casino to a company run by developer Shawn Scott, but the commission levied penalties for late financial filings against four committees run by his sister, Lisa Scott of Saint Kitts and Nevis. The commission said her offshore residence would make it hard to recoup the full $500,000. Under the agreement, Lisa Scott’s committees will have to pay $50,000, and Cheryl Timberlake, a lobbyist who served as treasurer for one of the committees, will have to pay the rest.

Missouri: Buying Influence: Do dark money, lobbyist gifts affect Missouri legislators’ policy?
Kansas City Star – Alison Kite and Jason Hancock | Published: 8/27/2018

Whether lobbyists should be able to provide Missouri lawmakers with expensive gifts and meals is being debated in Jefferson City. Asked what they wanted to know about political corruption and transparency in Missouri, Kansas City Star readers wanted to know whether gifts and campaign contributions, including those made by “dark-money” organizations, could influence legislators to the detriment of the state. The newspaper’s panel of dozens of leaders from across Missouri expressed concern about the potential for lobbyist gifts to influence legislators, but some argued they were not significant enough to affect policy solutions.

North Carolina: CEOs Gave Heavily During Legislative Session, Exposing Loophole in NC’s Fundraising Ban
WRAL – Travis Fain and Tyler Dukes | Published: 8/29/2018

North Carolina law lets top corporate executives donate to campaigns during General Assembly sessions even as it bans contributions from the companies themselves year-round and forbids anyone who contracts directly with a lobbyist from giving during a session. During this year’s six-week regular session, more than $1.1 million flowed into state legislators’ campaign accounts. The total increases if the week before the session is counted, which is traditionally a time for fundraisers, as PACs with lobbyists deliver checks just under the wire. Marshall Hurley, a former general counsel for the state Republican Party, said even the concept of an in-session ban is problematic. “All it’s really done is change the date of the check – does that really alter behavior?” Hurley said.

North Carolina: Judges’ Ruling on Election Map Plunges North Carolina Politics into Disarray
WRAL – David Zucchino and Richard Fausset (New York Times) | Published: 8/28/2018

A three-judge panel struck down North Carolina’s congressional redistricting map as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. Among the court’s proposed remedies are redrawing the districts before November and holding a general election without a primary election, or redrawing the districts, holding a primary election in November and holding a general election sometime before Congress is seated in January 2019. The court also said it might allow the General Assembly another chance at redrawing the districts. The state’s political experts and power brokers had already been expecting a political brawl this year. With the rule book now in tatters, they essentially threw up their hands. “We’re wandering in the political pines, searching for directions,” said Michael Bitzer, a political science professor at Catawba College.

Ohio: FBI Investigation: Ex-Ohio Speaker Cliff Rosenberger suspected of bribery, extortion
Cincinnati Enquirer – Jessie Balmert and James Pitcher | Published: 8/27/2018

Documents show former Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger is under federal investigation for possible extortion and bribery. While it was known since he resigned in April that the FBI was investigating Rosenberger’s overseas trips with lobbyists for the payday-lending industry, the release of search warrants and other documents painted a clearer picture of what investigators are targeting. Officials were looking for “communications or information concerning: payday lending legislation; evidence of payments, kickbacks, bribes, or other benefits (such as payment of travel-related expenses),” according to the records provided by the Ohio House. A federal grand jury has been meeting in Cincinnati to review the matter.

Texas: Ethics Commission Finds Lobbyist Innocent
El Paso Inc. – David Crowder | Published: 8/27/2018

When he received a letter from a lobbyist containing an apology and offer of five baseball tickets, El Paso Rep. Henry Rivera said the first thing that came to his mind was: “He is trying to bribe me.” Rivera filed a police report and ethics complaint accusing Jeremy Jordan of violating the city’s ethics code, lobbyist regulations, and possibly state law against attempted bribery over the letter. The El Paso Ethics Review Commission chastised Jordan but found him innocent of the ethics code violation that Rivera lodged against him in May.

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August 30, 2018 •

Manitoba Electoral Divisions Boundaries Changes Proposed

Starting on September 10, the Manitoba Electoral Divisions Boundaries Commission begins public hearings regarding proposed changes to all 57 existing electoral divisions in the province. The hearings will be held from September 10 to September 20 in 11 cities. The […]

Starting on September 10, the Manitoba Electoral Divisions Boundaries Commission begins public hearings regarding proposed changes to all 57 existing electoral divisions in the province. The hearings will be held from September 10 to September 20 in 11 cities.

The Commission is inviting feedback from the public concerning the proposed electoral division boundaries and names. Sixteen new names have been proposed by the Commission, including six inside of and 10 outside of Winnipeg. The proposed electoral division boundaries and names, along with their respective populations, are available to view on the Commission’s website.

The last review of the province’s electoral divisions boundaries was in 2008. After the hearings, the Commission’s final report is expected to become law and go into effect before the next provincial general election in October 2020.

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August 30, 2018 •

Mississippi Special Session Adjourns

The Mississippi special session adjourned on August 29. Lawmakers passed House Bill 1 to address infrastructure projects to repair, reconstruct, and provide maintenance to the state’s roads and bridges. During the special session, lawmakers also passed bills related to the […]

The Mississippi special session adjourned on August 29.

Lawmakers passed House Bill 1 to address infrastructure projects to repair, reconstruct, and provide maintenance to the state’s roads and bridges.

During the special session, lawmakers also passed bills related to the creation of a state lottery and the deposit of funds from the BP oil spill settlement.

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August 30, 2018 •

Alabama Commission Considers Revisions to Ethics

The Alabama Code of Ethics Clarification and Reform Commission (Commission), a joint committee of the Alabama Legislature, met on August 28, 2018, to examine potential revisions to the ethics laws. The meeting was timely as the Alabama Court of Criminal […]

The Alabama Code of Ethics Clarification and Reform Commission (Commission), a joint committee of the Alabama Legislature, met on August 28, 2018, to examine potential revisions to the ethics laws.

The meeting was timely as the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals upheld former House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s conviction on 12 felony ethics charges the day before and requested the Legislature clarify provisions of the ethics law. The Commission is considering recommending altering the definition of principal to include a person with the authority to fire or direct the lobbyist.

Other changes discussed included a tiered penalty system for violations of the law and provisions allowing public officials to maintain certain business relationships during their time as a public official.

The Commission is scheduled to meet again on September 20, 2018.

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August 30, 2018 •

Thursday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance Maine: “Maine Ethics Commission Accepts Greatly Reduced Settlement – $100,000 – from Casino Campaign” by Scott Thistle for Portland Press Herald Pennsylvania: “Ex-Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord Sentenced to 2½ Years in Prison” by Angela Couloumbis for Pittsburgh Post-Gazette […]

Campaign Finance

Maine: “Maine Ethics Commission Accepts Greatly Reduced Settlement – $100,000 – from Casino Campaign” by Scott Thistle for Portland Press Herald

Pennsylvania: “Ex-Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord Sentenced to 2½ Years in Prison” by Angela Couloumbis for Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Elections

Kentucky: “Another Kentucky Elections Staffer Accuses Grimes of Misusing Voter Data” by Daniel Desrochers for Lexington Herald-Leader

Ethics

National: “How Trump Relies on His Cable News Cabinet as Much as The Real One” by Anne Gearan and Sarah Ellison (Washington Post) for MSN

National: “Trump Says White House Counsel Donald McGahn Will Leave His Job in The Fall” by Robert Costa and Robert Barnes for Washington Post

New Mexico: “SIC Approves 2 More ‘Pay-to-Play’ Settlements” by Dan Boyd for Albuquerque Journal

Lobbying

National: “Paul Manafort’s Trial in D.C. to Take 3 Weeks, Probe Ukraine Lobbying World” by Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) for MSN

Alabama: “Ethics Law Changes Mulled by Revision Commission” by Brian Lyman for Montgomery Advertiser

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August 29, 2018 •

Denver City Council Approves Public Campaign Financing Initiative for November Ballot

The Denver City Council approved a ballot initiative proposing the creation of a dedicated fund to match campaign donations of up to $50 per donor to candidates participating in the program. The measure also requires public disclosure of all campaign […]

The Denver City Council approved a ballot initiative proposing the creation of a dedicated fund to match campaign donations of up to $50 per donor to candidates participating in the program.

The measure also requires public disclosure of all campaign spending, lowers contribution limits, and eliminates campaign contributions from corporations or labor organizations.

The ballot measure will be decided by voters in a special election held concurrently with the general election on November 6. If passed, the ordinance is effective January 1, 2020.

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August 29, 2018 •

Wednesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance California: “California Lawmakers Shelve Controversial Bill That Would Have Raised Campaign Contribution Limits” by Staff for Los Angeles Times Missouri: “Group Wants Transparency in Missouri Government. And It’s Taking Dark Money Donations” by Kurt Erickson for St. Louis […]

Campaign Finance

California: “California Lawmakers Shelve Controversial Bill That Would Have Raised Campaign Contribution Limits” by Staff for Los Angeles Times

Missouri: “Group Wants Transparency in Missouri Government. And It’s Taking Dark Money Donations” by Kurt Erickson for St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Elections

National: “Senate Finalizes New Amendments Language” by Travis Fain for WRAL

Ethics

Alabama: “Appeals Court Upholds Most Mike Hubbard Felony Ethics Convictions” by Brian Lyman for Montgomery Advertiser

Georgia: “Ga. Supreme Court Rules DeKalb Ethics Board Makeup Unconstitutional” by Dyana Bigby for Reporter Newspapers

Ohio: “FBI Investigation: Ex-Ohio Speaker Cliff Rosenberger suspected of bribery, extortion” by Jessie Balmert and James Pitcher for Cincinnati Enquirer

Redistricting

North Carolina: “Federal Court Throws Out North Carolina’s Congressional Districts, Again” by Michael Wines aqnd Richard Fausset (New York Times) for WRAL

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August 28, 2018 •

Tuesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance National: “Candidates Say ‘I Approve This Message’ Because of John McCain” by Kate Ackley for Roll Call National: “Hard Partying and a Corruption Scandal: Duncan Hunter’s Political Life Unravels” by Tim Arango, Adam Nagourney, and Jose Del Real […]

Campaign Finance

National: “Candidates Say ‘I Approve This Message’ Because of John McCain” by Kate Ackley for Roll Call

National: “Hard Partying and a Corruption Scandal: Duncan Hunter’s Political Life Unravels” by Tim Arango, Adam Nagourney, and Jose Del Real (New York Times) for MSN

North Carolina: “‘Take This Envelope, Put Money in Here.’ GOP Leader’s Comments to Donors Get Scrutiny” by Paul Specht for Raleigh News and Observer

Elections

National: “Democrats Strip Superdelegates of Power in Picking Presidential Nominee” by David Siders and Natasha Korecki for Politico

Ethics

California: “#MeToo Shifts Capitol Culture, But with Hitches” by Kelly Ronayne (Associated Press) for Ventura County Star

Maryland: “State Legislator from Baltimore Disciplined After Sexual Harassment Claims” by Erin Cox for Washington Post

Lobbying

Missouri: “Buying Influence: Do dark money, lobbyist gifts affect Missouri legislators’ policy?” by Alison Kite and Jason Hancock for Kansas City Star

Texas: “Ethics Commission Finds Lobbyist Innocent” by David Crowder for El Paso Inc.

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August 27, 2018 •

Tennessee State Senator Resigns

Sen. Bill Ketron submitted his resignation for the 13th District seat on Monday, effective August 31. His resignation is taking effect about two months before his term was set to expire. He is set to become the Rutherford County mayor […]

Sen. Bill Ketron submitted his resignation for the 13th District seat on Monday, effective August 31.

His resignation is taking effect about two months before his term was set to expire.

He is set to become the Rutherford County mayor on September 1.

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August 27, 2018 •

Monday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance National: “Microsoft Hopes to Protect Candidates Without Violating Campaign Contribution Law” by Tim O’Brien (Associated Press) for Seattle Times Elections National: “For Female Candidates, Harassment and Threats Come Every Day” by Maggie Astor for New York Times California: […]

Campaign Finance

National: “Microsoft Hopes to Protect Candidates Without Violating Campaign Contribution Law” by Tim O’Brien (Associated Press) for Seattle Times

Elections

National: “For Female Candidates, Harassment and Threats Come Every Day” by Maggie Astor for New York Times

California: “When California Lawmakers Removed Write-In Candidates from State and Congressional Ballots, It Wasn’t by Accident” by John Myers for Los Angeles Times

Georgia: “Georgia County Rejects Plan to Close 7 Polling Places in Majority-Black Area” by Richard Fausset for New York Times

Ethics

National: “When Is an Offense Impeachable? Look to the Framers for the Answer” by Adam Liptak (New York Times) for MSN

National: “National Enquirer’s Safe Held Damaging Trump Stories” by Associated Press for CNBC

New York: “Manhattan D.A. Eyes Criminal Charges Against Trump Organization” by William Rashbaum for MSN

Lobbying

National: “Senate Passes Bill to Require Lobbyists to Disclose Any Criminal Convictions” by Elise Viebeck for Washington Post

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August 24, 2018 •

Baltimore Ethics Bill Amended

In April, City Councilman Zeke Cohen introduced an ordinance amending the Baltimore City Ethics Code. Ordinance No. 18-0230 originally required lobbyists to file reports quarterly instead of annually. At a work session for the bill, the reporting period was amended […]

In April, City Councilman Zeke Cohen introduced an ordinance amending the Baltimore City Ethics Code.

Ordinance No. 18-0230 originally required lobbyists to file reports quarterly instead of annually.

At a work session for the bill, the reporting period was amended from quarterly to semi-annual reporting.

The bill was also amended to require a working online portal by June 1, 2019.

If passed, the ordinance will become effective 30 days after it is enacted.

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August 24, 2018 •

North Carolina Begins Second Special Session

The North Carolina General Assembly was called into special session yesterday to begin today, August 24, in order rewrite ballot amendment language to shift appointment powers from the governor to the Legislature. Speaker Tim Moore said legislators plan to make […]

The North Carolina General Assembly was called into special session yesterday to begin today, August 24, in order rewrite ballot amendment language to shift appointment powers from the governor to the Legislature.

Speaker Tim Moore said legislators plan to make revisions “because the proposals provide a popular bipartisan balance in our state government that will benefit the people of North Carolina.”

This is the second special session this summer to address the ballot language.

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August 24, 2018 •

News You Can Use Digest – August 24, 2018

      National: Despite Year-of-the-Woman Buzz, Female Candidates Lag Behind Men in Pulling in Campaign Cash The News-Times – Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Anu Narayanswamy (Washington Post) | Published: 8/16/2018 Even as a record number of women run for office this […]

 

 

 

National:

Despite Year-of-the-Woman Buzz, Female Candidates Lag Behind Men in Pulling in Campaign Cash
The News-Times – Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Anu Narayanswamy (Washington Post) | Published: 8/16/2018

Even as a record number of women run for office this year, female congressional candidates trail their male counterparts when it comes to fundraising. Of candidates who showed viability by raising at least $50,000, men running for the House had collected almost 17 percent more on average than their female counterparts by the end of June. One key factor is many female candidates lack relationships with longtime donors who work in traditionally male-dominated industries such as finance. That is a particular challenge for women this cycle, because the majority are newcomers to politics and, like any non-incumbent, must build donor networks from scratch. But their task is often more difficult, some female candidates said, because of skepticism about their potential, based on their gender.

Federal:

Elizabeth Warren Unveils Plans to Root Out Corruption in Washington, Ensure Federal Government Works for Americans
MassLive.com – Shannon Young | Published: 8/21/2018

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduced the Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act, which lays out a multi-step approach to ending corruption and increasing public integrity. It calls for permanently banning elected and appointed officials from becoming lobbyists after they leave office, barring presidents and federal lawmakers from owning companies while in office, and ending “legalized lobbyist bribery” by preventing them from writing campaign checks or giving personal gifts to candidates or lawmakers. The bill would also create an independent anti-corruption agency dedicated to enforcing federal ethics laws and requiring elected officials and candidates to disclose more financial and tax information, among other provisions.

Hunter Indictment Could Jeopardize GOP Seat
Politico – John Bresnahan and Rachel Bade | Published: 8/21/2018

U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter and his wife were indicted on allegations of using more than $250,000 of campaign funds for personal expenses, including family vacations, private school tuition for their children, dental work, and an airline ticket for a pet rabbit. The indictment portrays the Hunters as a couple with serious financial problems. They allegedly overdrew their joint checking account more than 1,100 times during a seven-year period, leading to more than $37,000 in overdraft charges. Hunter’s indictment endangers a traditionally conservative southern California seat long held by Republicans. Hunter cannot take his name off the November ballot and California does not allow write-in candidates.

Michael Cohen Says He Arranged Payments to Women at Trump’s Direction
MSN – William Rashbaum, Maggie Haberman, Ben Protess, and Jim Rutenberg (New York Times) | Published: 8/21/2018

Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former personal lawyer, pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations and other charges, saying Trump directed him to arrange the payment of hush money to adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal to fend off damage to his White House bid. Cohen’s admission marks the first time any Trump associate has gone into open court and implicated Trump himself in a crime. Under federal law, expenditures to protect a candidate’s political fortunes can be construed to be campaign contributions, subject to laws that bar donations from corporations and set limits on how much can be given. Trump denied to reporters in April that he knew anything about Cohen’s payments to Daniels.

From the States and Municipalities:

California: Developer Whose Wife Sat on Ethics Commission Faces $15,000 Fine Over Political Donations
Los Angeles Times – Emily Alpert Reyes and David Zahniser | Published: 8/20/2018

Six years ago, city council President Herb Wesson drew criticism for putting the wife of a campaign fundraiser on the Los Angeles Ethics Commission, a panel that votes on fines for people who violate political contribution rules. Wesson had selected nonprofit executive Erin Pak, who was also the wife of architect and real estate developer Chris Pak, host of fundraising events for Mayor Eric Garcetti and other local politicians. Erin Pak left the commission three years ago. Now, Chris Pak is facing $15,000 in proposed fines from the commission for giving contributions that exceeded the city limit. All but one of the violations took place during the period when Erin Pak was on the commission.

Florida: After a Florida Democrat Said She’d Take Donations from the Marijuana Industry, Wells Fargo Closed Her Bank Account
Washington Post – Christopher Ingraham | Published: 8/20/2018

Nikki Fried, who is running for agriculture commissioner in Florida, said Wells Fargo terminated her campaign’s account because of her links to the medical marijuana businesses. Fried said the action came after the bank questioned her about her campaign platform and donations she had taken, as well as her stance on medical marijuana. Wells Fargo spokesperson Jennifer Dunn said the bank’s policy is to not provide services for businesses related to marijuana businesses. Fried has accepted campaign contributions from lobbyists connected to medical marijuana. If such a policy were applied nationwide it could potentially jeopardize the banking access of dozens of state and national politicians.

Georgia: Georgia Voting Rights Activists Move to Block a Plan to Close Two-Thirds of Polling Places in a Majority Black County
Chicago Tribune – Vanessa Williams (Washington Post) | Published: 8/18/2018

Randolph County in rural Georgia wants to eliminate all but two of the county’s polling locations just months before the midterm elections because they are not in compliance with disabilities laws. Some residents and progressive groups allege the move was aimed at suppressing turnout in the county, in which more than 55 percent of the voters are black and have backed Democratic candidates in statewide elections. Activists noted many residents have low incomes and the county, which covers 431 square miles, has no public transportation system. All nine of the polling places were used for the May primaries and less than a month ago for statewide run-offs.

Kentucky: Loophole Allows Organizations to Pay for Legislators’ Out-of-State Travel Without Disclosing Amounts
Insider Louisville – Joe Sonka | Published: 8/22/2018

Due to a loophole in Kentucky’s ethics law, a large majority of travel expenditures for state lawmakers covered by private organizations are not required to be disclosed by lawmakers to the Legislative Research Commission or the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission. John Schaaf, executive director of the ethics panel, said this reporting loophole occurs when those groups pay in advance for legislators’ travel, as “there is no disclosure required of expenses prepaid for transportation, food and lodging.” Events organized by outside groups are sometimes funded by businesses and interests that lobby the Legislature.

Louisiana: Louisiana Senate President Sank Ride-Sharing Bill. His Close Pal Sells Insurance to Cabs.
ProPublica – Rebekah Allen | Published: 8/23/2018

Ride-sharing companies are not coming to many parts of Louisiana anytime soon because the state does not have legislation in place allowing them to operate. It is one of only five states that lacks such a law, instead requiring the companies to go through the costly and time-intensive process of getting approval in each locality. A bill to change that has garnered widespread and bipartisan support among politicians and was favored by many economic development groups. But the legislation has been blocked by Senate President John Alario. Many observers noted Alario’s close personal, professional, and political alliance with former Sen. Francis Heitmeier, who makes a living selling insurance to cab companies and lobbied against the ride-sharing bill. The cab industry was one of the few opponents of the measure.

Mississippi: Inside a Super PAC That Spends on Everything but Winning
Associated Press – Brian Slodysko | Published: 8/16/2018

Two billionaire political donors poured $1.25 million into a super PAC that was supposed to supercharge Chris McDaniel’s insurgent bid to be Mississippi’s next Republican senator. A year later, much of the money from Richard Uihlein and Robert Mercer is gone. Only a fraction was spent reaching voters who could boost the former state lawmaker’s uphill battle against Cindy Hyde-Smith in a November special election that will determine who finishes out Sen. Thad Cochran’s term. What the Remember Mississippi super PAC has provided, however, is a generous payday for at least 18 campaign consultants who received the lion’s share of the money.

Montana: Montana’s Campaign-Contribution Limits Appealed to U.S. Supreme Court
KXLH – Mike Dennison | Published: 8/17/2018

James Bopp Jr. asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overrule a 2017 lower-court ruling that upheld Montana’s limits on campaign contributions for state candidates. Bopp has been an attorney in many cases challenging limits on campaign spending and contributions, including Citizens United. His appeal in the Montana case is the latest development in a seven-year-old lawsuit challenging the state’s contribution limits, which were enacted by initiative in 1994.

New York: A Corrupt Lobbyist’s Influence in the Cuomo Administration Is Revealed in Newly Disclosed Emails
New York Times – Jesse McKinley | Published: 8/20/2018

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly downplayed his relationship with his former aide Todd Howe, who became key figure in a pair of federal corruption cases after pleading guilty and reaching a deal with prosecutors. Howe’s cooperation in those cases helped convict two other former top aides: Joseph Percoco, once one of Cuomo’s closest friends and trusted advisers, and Alain Kaloyeros, the economic expert who the governor praised as a genius. But in nearly 350 pages of emails, it was clear Howe had entree to the top levels of Cuomo’s administration, a period that included the time leading up to the news of the federal probe.

New York: Cuomo Signs Bill Banning Use of Paid Intermediaries to Win State Pension Fund Business
New York Daily News – Kenneth Lovett | Published: 8/21/2018

New York Gov. Andrew Gov. Cuomo signed legislation that bars firms from using placement agents, paid intermediaries, and registered lobbyists in obtaining investments from the state pension fund. Assembly Bill 3137 puts into law a policy adopted by Controller Thomas DiNapoli nearly a decade ago amid a “pay-to-play” scandal. The probe resulted in eight people being charged criminally, including two, former state Controller Alan Hevesi and his political consultant Hank Morris, who went to prison.

West Virginia: How One West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Gave Natural Gas a Big Victory and Shortchanged Residents
ProPublica – Ken Ward Jr. | Published: 8/20/2018

The West Virginia House impeached the four sitting justices on the state Supreme Court for extravagant spending, among other charges. Justice Beth Walker was impeached over allegations of irresponsible spending and poorly managing the court’s administrative affairs. Left unmentioned in the debate has been a peculiar vote by Walker that benefited the natural gas industry. She made an unusual decision to reopen a case and then reverse a Supreme Court ruling that would have forced drillers to pay more in profits to residents. Walker made the decision around the time her husband owned stock in a variety of energy companies, including those participating in West Virginia’s growing gas boom.

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August 23, 2018 •

North Carolina Legislators Mull Special Session

Republican legislative leaders in North Carolina are considering coming back to Raleigh to rewrite two ballot questions because a court blocked them from being voted on in November. Gov. Roy Cooper and the NAACP took issue with the ballot language, […]

Republican legislative leaders in North Carolina are considering coming back to Raleigh to rewrite two ballot questions because a court blocked them from being voted on in November.

Gov. Roy Cooper and the NAACP took issue with the ballot language, and the court ruled in their favor, agreeing the language was unclear.

Legislative leaders, among others in the case, have filed appeals motions.

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