February 25, 2019 •

Monday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance New Jersey: “NJ Senate Approves Legislation Requiring ‘Dark Money’ Groups to Reveal Donors” by David Levinsky for Burlington County Times Oregon: “Polluted by Money” by Rob Davis for Portland Oregonian Elections North Carolina: “After Harris Admissions, a New […]

Campaign Finance

New Jersey: “NJ Senate Approves Legislation Requiring ‘Dark Money’ Groups to Reveal Donors” by David Levinsky for Burlington County Times

Oregon: “Polluted by Money” by Rob Davis for Portland Oregonian

Elections

North Carolina: “After Harris Admissions, a New Election in 9th District” by Travis Fain for WRAL

Ethics

National: “Judge Broadens Gag Order Against Roger Stone After Instagram Post” by Darren Samuelsohn, Josh Gerstein, and Matthew Choi for Politico

Florida: “The SWAT Team Showed Up at a Florida Mayor’s Door. Then He Started Shooting, Police Say.” by Reis Thebault and Eli Rosenberg for Washington Post

Tennessee: “Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee Regrets Wearing Confederate Uniform in College” by Jonathan Matisse and Scott Stroud for AP News

Lobbying

Canada: “Ontario Lobbyists Fear Loss of Access Unless They Sell Ford Fundraiser Tickets” by Jill Mahoney and Adam Radwanski for The Globe and Mail

Nevada: “Law Would Alter Nevada Financial Disclosure, Lobbyist Rules” by Bill Dentzer for Las Vegas Review-Journal

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February 22, 2019 •

Los Angeles City Ethics Commission Backs Developer Contribution Restrictions

The Los Angeles City Ethics Commission backed new restrictions on political contributions from real estate developers seeking city approval for their building plans. The proposed ban applies to those who are “substantially involved” in a proposed development project, such as […]

The Los Angeles City Ethics Commission backed new restrictions on political contributions from real estate developers seeking city approval for their building plans.

The proposed ban applies to those who are “substantially involved” in a proposed development project, such as real estate executives, architects, engineers, and others.

The commission also supports new restrictions on behested payments, and it endorsed the idea of banning contributions from businesses, unions, organizations, and other entities, allowing only for contributions from individuals.

The FBI is continuing its probe into corruption at City Hall.

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February 22, 2019 •

Supreme Court Won’t Hear Montana Case

This week, the Supreme Court of the United States declined to hear a case challenging the state’s Disclose Act, leaving in place a lower court ruling of constitutionality. The Disclose Act requires more heightened reporting by groups seeking to influence […]

This week, the Supreme Court of the United States declined to hear a case challenging the state’s Disclose Act, leaving in place a lower court ruling of constitutionality.

The Disclose Act requires more heightened reporting by groups seeking to influence elections, commonly referred to as dark-money groups.

The campaign disclosure act, challenged by Montanans for Community Development on first amendment grounds, has been an important policy for Gov. Steve Bullock and his administration.

This comes at a time when the Montana House of Representatives is considering House Resolution 2, a bipartisan resolution urging Congress to propose a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision.

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February 22, 2019 •

North Carolina State Board of Elections Calls for Congressional Redo

The North Carolina State Board of Elections voted unanimously on Thursday in favor of holding a new election in the 9th Congressional District. The election in November between Mark Harris and Dan McCready was riddled with accusations of fraud and […]

The North Carolina State Board of Elections voted unanimously on Thursday in favor of holding a new election in the 9th Congressional District.

The election in November between Mark Harris and Dan McCready was riddled with accusations of fraud and other misconduct.

According to a bill passed late last year, both candidates, if they decide to run, will have to compete in their parties’ primary elections.

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February 22, 2019 •

News You Can Use Digest – February 22, 2019

      National: The Growing Need for Opposition Research – on Yourself – in Today’s Political World Governing – Alan Greenblatt | Published: 2/15/2019 The series of recent scandals in Virginia was kicked off by the emergence of a 35-year-old yearbook page […]

 

 

 

National:

The Growing Need for Opposition Research – on Yourself – in Today’s Political World
Governing – Alan Greenblatt | Published: 2/15/2019

The series of recent scandals in Virginia was kicked off by the emergence of a 35-year-old yearbook page from Gov. Ralph Northam’s medical school days. In September, members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee grilled then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh about entries in his high school yearbook and the calendar he kept as a student. Now reporters all over the country are scouring old yearbooks, looking for more examples of racist or otherwise disturbing images or language from the past of politicians. All this suggests that opposition research – as well as self-research, which refers to candidates hiring investigators to look into their own closets – will be a growing field in the years ahead.

Federal:

Elections Commission Chief Uses the ‘Nuclear Option’ to Rescue the Agency from Gridlock
Mother Jones – Nihal Krishan | Published: 2/20/2019

Ellen Weintraub, who has been on the FEC since 2002 and became chairperson in January, has become increasingly frustrated by the agency’s lack of enforcement, which has led to less disclosure, less transparency, and more “dark money” within the campaign finance system. Weintraub now says she will not allow FEC lawyers to defend the government when the commission has been sued for not enforcing the law. This drastic step, which one former FEC lawyer called the “nuclear option,” is effectively an effort to sabotage her own agency in order to enforce the law and create more campaign finance disclosure.

Intimidation, Pressure and Humiliation: Inside Trump’s two-year war on the investigations encircling him
MSN – Mark Mazzetti, Maggie Haberman, Nicholas Fandos, and Michael Schmidt (New York Times) | Published: 2/19/2019

President Trump’s public war on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has gone on long enough that it is no longer shocking. Trump rages almost daily to his 58 million Twitter followers that Muller is on a “witch hunt.” The president’s lawyer talks openly about a strategy to smear and discredit the special counsel investigation. Trump’s allies in Congress and the conservative media warn of an insidious plot inside the Justice Department and the FBI to subvert a democratically elected president. An examination by The New York Times reveals the extent of an even more sustained, more secretive assault by Trump on the machinery of federal law enforcement. Interviews with current and former government officials and others close to Trump, as well as a review of confidential White House documents, reveal numerous unreported episodes in a two-year drama.

From the States and Municipalities:

California: L.A. Ethics Commission Backs New Restrictions on Developer Donations
Los Angeles Times – Emily Alpert Reyes and David Zahniser | Published: 2/19/2019

Faced with complaints about a “pay-to-play” culture at City Hall, the Los Angeles Ethics Commission backed new restrictions on political donations from real estate developers seeking city approval for their building plans. The proposed ban would cover a broad array of people “substantially involved” in a proposed development project, including real estate executives, architects, engineers, and others. Such donors would also be barred from fundraising or gathering political donations for city officials. The commission also backed new restrictions on “behested payments” – donations solicited by politicians for charitable or governmental causes.

California: Nation’s First All-LGBTQ City Council Tests Modern Meaning of Diversity
San Francisco Chronicle – Scott Wilson (Washington Post) | Published: 2/18/2019

Palm Springs achieved a measure of fame a little more than a year ago when voters elected the nation’s first city council consisting entirely of members of the LGBTQ community. The gay and lesbian community, a majority of the electorate in this city of 45,000 people, cheered the milestone as an affirmation of the community’s model tolerance. The happy moment did not last long. The council elected in November 2017 also happened to be all white. What was viewed by many as a broad step toward greater diversity instead turned Palm Springs into a forum for a debate about what diversity means – and who, exactly, is best suited to represent whom in a state shaped for decades by identity politics.

California: Why Cities, Counties May Turn to the State Political Watchdog to Enforce Local Campaign Finance Issues
San Bernardino Sun – Joe Nelson and Sandra Emerson | Published: 2/20/2019

A law that took effect on January 1 in California essentially allows local agencies to draw on the state’s experience and expertise in dealing with campaign finance and ethics laws – for a price. Under its contract with the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), San Bernardino County pays the agency a flat fee of $55,000 annually and is billed at hourly rates for any work exceeding the flat amount. In return, the FPPC audits the campaign accounts of all county elected officials each election cycle, investigates complaints, provides written and verbal guidance to elected officials and their donors regarding the county’s campaign finance and ethics ordinance.

Florida: ‘Who Gave It, Who Got It?’ How Political Influence in Miami Is Bought – and Concealed
Miami Herald – Joey Flechas and Sandra Emerson | Published: 2/21/2019

Whether it is candidates or ballot measures, moneyed interests use political groups that can receive and spend unlimited, untraceable “dark money” to influence elections in Miami and pay for attack ads. Florida’s lax campaign finance laws allow donors to seed thousands of dollars into committees that can give to one or more other committees. The money that pays for the ads can be difficult to trace back to the original donor. Because state authorities do not aggressively police campaign finance reports, political committees can easily get away with concealing their donors while flouting election laws. But political groups do not necessarily need to break campaign laws to hide the sources of their money. It is allowed to be moved through a byzantine web of political committees that mask its origins.

Montana: US Supreme Court Won’t Take Challenge to Montana Campaign Finance Law
Montana Public Radio – Corin Cates-Carney | Published: 2/19/2018

The U.S. Supreme Court, without comment, declined to take up a case challenging Montana’s campaign finance disclosure law.  The justices left in place a lower court’s ruling that the state’s so-called Disclose Act is constitutional. The law requires groups that engage in last-minute advertising in elections to make public how they spend money to influence the state’s elections.

New Jersey: This N.J. Mayor Is Getting Paid to Fight Legal Weed. Here’s Why That’s Causing Trouble.
Bergen Record – Payton Guion (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 2/15/2019

The mayor of the first town in New Jersey to ban legal marijuana sales has also spent most of the past year on the payroll as a lobbyist for a prominent anti-marijuana group in the state. But Point Pleasant Beach Mayor Stephen Reid has not always been upfront about that connection, raising questions about ethics and conflicts-of-interest. More than 60 towns in New Jersey have taken some step to prohibit marijuana businesses from their borders. Reid has traveled around the state, offering his hand to other towns considering a ban as the mayor of a town that’ has already done it. Since May 2018, Reid has been a paid lobbyist for New Jersey Responsible Approaches to Marijuana, and his potential conflict is the subject of lawsuit against the town.

Oregon: ‘Give Me the Money, and I’ll Give It to Her.’ Former Oregon Lawmaker Describes Participating in Dubious Campaign Practice
Portland Oregonian – Rob Davis | Published: 2/17/2019

On paper, two contributions to candidates last year came from former Oregon Rep. Deborah Boone. She wrote the checks and her name is listed as the donor. In reality, Boone said, the money came from donors who asked her to pass it on under her name, creating a set of transactions and reports that may have violated state law. Boone described the practice as commonplace among legislators. State records show millions of dollars have moved between Oregon politicians in the past decade in what look like straightforward gestures of support. Lawmakers also routinely give money to committees run by legislative leaders, who then redistribute it to candidates in tough races. According to Boone, the transactions are not always what they seem.

Rhode Island: Political Donations by Strip-club Industry Made in Lobbying Firm’s Name
Providence Journal – Brian Amaral | Published: 2/15/2019

Mysterious errors in campaign finance records concealed the source of thousands of dollars in donations from the Providence strip-club industry to Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo and House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello. Instead of listing their actual employers, the series of contributions listed a lobbying firm, the Goldberg Law Offices. A lobbyist at that firm, Robert Goldberg, also worked on behalf of the strip-club industry. Goldberg said he did not know why donations from people involved in the strip-club industry – and not, in fact, employed by his firm – listed his firm as their employer. The errors raise questions about the working relationship between a high-powered lobbyist and an industry he represented and illuminate the many connections between the strip-club industry and the halls of power in the state.

Texas: Sen. Angela Paxton Files Bill That Would Allow Her Husband, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, to Issue Exemptions from Securities Regulations
Texas Tribune – Emma Platoff | Published: 2/16/2019

In what state Sen. Angela Paxton describes as an effort to safely expand Texas’ burgeoning financial tech industry, she filed a bill that would empower the office of her husband, state Attorney General Ken Paxton to exempt entrepreneurs from certain state regulations so they can market “innovative financial products or services.” One of those exemptions would be working as an “investment advisor” without registering. Currently, doing so is a felony in Texas, one for which Ken Paxton was issued a civil penalty in 2014 and criminally charged in 2015.

Virginia: Richmond’s Donor Class and the VMI Brotherhood Stand Behind Embattled Virginia Governor
Washington Post – Gregory Schneider | Published: 2/16/2019

Gil Minor, a local corporate titan and major donor to both political parties, and Tom Slater, a prominent lawyer, met with Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam soon after the shocking news broke that a racist photograph had been unearthed from Northam’s medical school yearbook page. Minor and Slater are part of a political donor class in Richmond that has rallied behind the embattled governor. Perhaps more significant, they are part of a Virginia Military Institute (VMI) brotherhood, an elite alumni corps that includes several of the state’s power brokers. They did not want Northam, the first VMI graduate to become governor, to go down in disgrace. That support is a major reason Northam has clung to office when most of the political world has called for his resignation, leaving the state locked in a limbo of dysfunction that shows no sign of changing soon.

Washington: SEIU State Council to Pay $128,000 in Civil Fines Over Campaign-Finance Lawsuit
Seattle Times – Joseph O’Sullivan | Published: 2/19/2019

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Washington State Council 14 has agreed to pay a six-figure settlement over a campaign finance lawsuit. The settlement requires SEIU to pay $128,262.75 in civil fines, as well as $18,300.85 in costs and fees. Another $104,942.25 in civil fines is suspended, provided the organization has no violations over the next four years. The Freedom Foundation alleged the SEIU state council had been operating as a political committee without filing as such with the Washington Public Disclosure Commission. The state attorney general’s office determined that SEIU had made significant campaign contributions but failed to register and report as a political committee in for at least the years 2014 and 2016.

Wyoming: Legislature Reforms Campaign Finance
Staff – Sundance Times | Published: 2/20/2019

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon signed Senate Bill 18 into law. It is intended to enhance transparency by requiring that candidates report their expenditures and contributions simultaneously and up to two weeks before the election. It also raises the threshold for reporting from $25 to $100 to account for inflation. The law also clarifies campaign advertising provisions to now include online advertising and defines “electioneering communications,” while requiring that campaign activity be subject to the disclosure of donors and expenditures whether or not that activity was done in coordination with a candidate. A disclosure must now explicitly state, “Paid for by ….”

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February 21, 2019 •

Maine Introduces Legislation to Prohibit Political Advocacy in Public Schools

Rep. Larry Lockman introduced a bill in the Legislature that aims to prohibit public school teachers in the state from engaging in political advocacy in the classroom. The proposed legislation establishes a code of ethics for professional conduct that prohibits […]

Rep. Larry Lockman introduced a bill in the Legislature that aims to prohibit public school teachers in the state from engaging in political advocacy in the classroom.

The proposed legislation establishes a code of ethics for professional conduct that prohibits teachers from acting in their role as publicly employed educators to endorse or oppose elected officials and candidates and from introducing any controversial subject matter that is not germane to the topic of the course.

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February 21, 2019 •

Tennessee Bill to Close Primaries to Unaffiliated Voters Advances

A bill requiring Tennessee voters to declare their party affiliation in order to vote in a primary election made its way through its first committee on Wednesday. In order to cast a primary ballot, House Bill 1273 and Senate Bill […]

A bill requiring Tennessee voters to declare their party affiliation in order to vote in a primary election made its way through its first committee on Wednesday.

In order to cast a primary ballot, House Bill 1273 and Senate Bill 1500 would require voters to choose between being registered as a Democrat, Republican, unaffiliated with a statewide party or other.

If a voter chooses unaffiliated, he or she would not be able to vote in any primary elections. The bill does not apply to general elections.

If passed, the legislation would take effect on July 1.

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February 21, 2019 •

Thursday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance National: “Elections Commission Chief Uses the ‘Nuclear Option’ to Rescue the Agency from Gridlock” by Nihal Krishan for Mother Jones California: “L.A. Ethics Commission Backs New Restrictions on Developer Donations” by Emily Alpert Reyes and David Zahniser for […]

Campaign Finance

National: “Elections Commission Chief Uses the ‘Nuclear Option’ to Rescue the Agency from Gridlock” by Nihal Krishan for Mother Jones

California: “L.A. Ethics Commission Backs New Restrictions on Developer Donations” by Emily Alpert Reyes and David Zahniser for Los Angeles Times

Michigan: “Mayor Will File ‘Schor Lansing Fund’ with the IRS” by Kyle Kaminski and Berl Schwartz for Lansing City Pulse

Montana: “US Supreme Court Won’t Take Challenge to Montana Campaign Finance Law” by Corin Cates-Carney for Montana Public Radio

Washington: “SEIU State Council to Pay $128,000 in Civil Fines Over Campaign-Finance Lawsuit” by Joseph O’Sullivan for Seattle Times

Ethics

National: “Top Ethics Watchdog Rejects Ross’s Financial Disclosure Form” by Bill Allison for Bloomberg

National: “A Federal Employee’s Ethics Guide During Future Government Shutdowns” by Nicole Ogrysko for Federal News Network

Texas: “Sen. Angela Paxton Files Bill That Would Allow Her Husband, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, to Issue Exemptions from Securities Regulations” by Emma Platoff for Texas Tribune

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February 20, 2019 •

Arkansas Ethics Commission Clarifies Gift Exception in Advisory Opinion

The Arkansas Ethics Commission clarified a gift exception in Advisory Opinion No. 2019-EC-001. A local lobbying firm wants to hold a 20th anniversary event and invite public officials. In turn, the firm requested more information regarding the exception permitting anything […]

The Arkansas Ethics Commission clarified a gift exception in Advisory Opinion No. 2019-EC-001.

A local lobbying firm wants to hold a 20th anniversary event and invite public officials. In turn, the firm requested more information regarding the exception permitting anything to be given to public officials if it is also readily available to the general public.

The commission stated the exception does not apply to an event where invitations are issued to friends, family members, clients, former clients, and business associates only.

In order for an event to be readily available to the general public, the general public would have to be made aware of the event’s existence.

For the event to qualify for the gift exception, an entity could make an announcement of the event on widely-used social media platforms and through traditional media, such as a state-wide newspaper, to make sure the general public knows the event is not limited to invitees.

Additionally, holding an event at a venue open to the public, like a park or convention center, would help meet the gift exception.

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February 20, 2019 •

Wednesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance National: “Lawmakers Launch New Probe Into ‘Complex Web’ of Alleged Ties Between NRA, Russians” by Pete Madden and Matthew Mosk for ABC News Ohio: “Highland Heights Mayor Scott Coleman Expected to Resign After Embezzlement Accusation” by Sabrina Eaton […]

Campaign Finance

National: “Lawmakers Launch New Probe Into ‘Complex Web’ of Alleged Ties Between NRA, Russians” by Pete Madden and Matthew Mosk for ABC News

Ohio: “Highland Heights Mayor Scott Coleman Expected to Resign After Embezzlement Accusation” by Sabrina Eaton for Cleveland Plain Dealer

Elections

California: “Nation’s First All-LGBTQ City Council Tests Modern Meaning of Diversity” by Scott Wilson (Washington Post) for San Francisco Chronicle

Ethics

National: “Trump Can’t Run the Mueller Playbook on New York Feds” by Darren Samuelsohn for Politico

National: “Flynn Pushed to Share Nuclear Tech with Saudis, Report Says” by Chad Day for AP News

National: “Intimidation, Pressure and Humiliation: Inside Trump’s two-year war on the investigations encircling him” by Mark Mazzetti, Maggie Haberman, Nicholas Fandos, and Michael Schmidt (New York Times) for MSN

Lobbying

Arkansas: “Panel: No food, drink for legislators at event” by Michael Wickline for Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Michigan: “Michigan Senator Seeks to End ‘Revolving Door’ of Lawmakers Turned Lobbyists” by Lindsay Van Hulle for Bridge Michigan

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February 19, 2019 •

Bill Would Transfer Registry of Lobbyists in Quebec to Lobbyists Commissioner

On February 14, a bill was introduced in the National Assembly of Quebec to allow the Lobbyists Commissioner to maintain the registry of lobbyists. Currently, paperwork filed by lobbyists is processed with the Ministry of Justice. Bill 6 amends the […]

On February 14, a bill was introduced in the National Assembly of Quebec to allow the Lobbyists Commissioner to maintain the registry of lobbyists.

Currently, paperwork filed by lobbyists is processed with the Ministry of Justice. Bill 6 amends the Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Act in order to transfer responsibility for keeping the registry of lobbyists to the Lobbyists Commissioner.

The bill also creates a three-year statute of limitations for the prosecution of lobbying violations, starting from the time a prosecutor becomes aware of a violation. A prosecution would be prohibited if the commission of the offense occurred more than seven years earlier.

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February 19, 2019 •

Judge Orders Third Special Election for GA District

A special election was announced on April 9 for House District 28. This will be the third election for the seat as both elections held last year were deemed inconclusive. The special election was ordered by Senior Superior Court Judge […]

A special election was announced on April 9 for House District 28.

This will be the third election for the seat as both elections held last year were deemed inconclusive.

The special election was ordered by Senior Superior Court Judge David Sweat after ruling four votes in the December 4 special primary were illegal.

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February 19, 2019 •

Kansas State Rep. Resigns to Battle Cancer

State Rep. Greg Lewis announced his resignation from House District 113, effective February 22. Rep. Lewis was re-elected to office last year, but is vacating his seat to battle brain cancer. Under state law, the state’s Republican party will convene […]

State Rep. Greg Lewis announced his resignation from House District 113, effective February 22.

Rep. Lewis was re-elected to office last year, but is vacating his seat to battle brain cancer.

Under state law, the state’s Republican party will convene to vote on his successor and deliver the winner’s name to the governor for appointment.

The replacement will serve the remainder of Lewis’s term until 2021.

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February 19, 2019 •

Tuesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance Oregon: “‘Give Me the Money, and I’ll Give It to Her.’ Former Oregon Lawmaker Describes Participating in Dubious Campaign Practice” by Rob Davis for Portland Oregonian Elections National: “The Growing Need for Opposition Research – on Yourself – […]

Campaign Finance

Oregon: “‘Give Me the Money, and I’ll Give It to Her.’ Former Oregon Lawmaker Describes Participating in Dubious Campaign Practice” by Rob Davis for Portland Oregonian

Elections

National: “The Growing Need for Opposition Research – on Yourself – in Today’s Political World” by Alan Greenblatt for Governing

Ethics

National: “Capitol Police Crackdown on Press Escalates to Physical Altercation” by Katherine Tully-McManus for Roll Call

Maine: “Maine Paid for 40 Rooms at Trump Hotel for LePage, Staff” by Scott Thistle and Kevin Miller for Portland Press Herald

New Jersey: “This N.J. Mayor Is Getting Paid to Fight Legal Weed. Here’s Why That’s Causing Trouble.” by Payton Guion (NJ Advance Media) for Bergen Record

New York: “Victims Offer Harrowing Testimony at Sexual Harassment Hearing” by Rachel Silberstein for Albany Times Union

South Carolina: “After Corruption Scandal, SC Lawmakers Push Changes at Electric Cooperatives” by Avery Wilkes for The State

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