February 18, 2019 •

Monday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance National: Democratic Presidential Hopefuls Increasingly See Small-Dollar Donations as a Sign of Viability by Michelle Ye Hee Lee (Washington Post) for San Francisco Chronicle Alabama: Few Disclosure Requirements for Money Raised After an Election by Brian Lyman for […]

Campaign Finance

National: Democratic Presidential Hopefuls Increasingly See Small-Dollar Donations as a Sign of Viability by Michelle Ye Hee Lee (Washington Post) for San Francisco Chronicle

Alabama: Few Disclosure Requirements for Money Raised After an Election by Brian Lyman for Montgomery Advertiser

Louisiana: Campaign Funds Can Be Used for Child Care, Louisiana Ethics Board Rules in Reversal by Julia O’Donoghue for New Orleans Times-Picayune

Rhode Island: Political Donations by Strip-Club Industry Made in Lobbying Firm’s Name by Brian Amaral for Providence Journal

Ethics

National: Supreme Court Takes Up Trump Administration’s Plan to Ask About Citizenship in Census by Robert Barnes (Washington Post) for Chicago Tribune

New Mexico: Senator Wants Ethics Panel’s Work Mostly Secret by Andrew Oxford (Santa Fe New Mexican) for New Mexico Political Report

Virginia: Richmond’s Donor Class and the VMI Brotherhood Stand Behind Embattled Virginia Governor by Gregory Schneider for Washington Post

Lobbying

National: Former Trump Officials Are Supposed to Avoid Lobbying. Except 33 Haven’t. by Derek Kravitz for ProPublica

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February 15, 2019 •

Wisconsin Announces Special Election to Fill Assembly District 64

A special election will take place on April 30 to fill a vacancy in Assembly District 64. Rep. Peter Barca resigned after Gov. Tony Evers picked him to serve as Revenue Department secretary. Barca’s nomination as Revenue secretary is pending […]

A special election will take place on April 30 to fill a vacancy in Assembly District 64.

Rep. Peter Barca resigned after Gov. Tony Evers picked him to serve as Revenue Department secretary.

Barca’s nomination as Revenue secretary is pending state Senate approval.

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February 15, 2019 •

News You Can Use Digest – February 16, 2019

      Federal: Ex-Lawmakers Face New Scrutiny Over Lobbying The Hill – Alex Gangitano | Published: 2/12/2019 Critics say former federal lawmakers have been the biggest offenders when it comes to working as lobbyists without formally registering. Forty-eight former senators and 295 […]

 

 

 

Federal:

Ex-Lawmakers Face New Scrutiny Over Lobbying
The Hill – Alex Gangitano | Published: 2/12/2019

Critics say former federal lawmakers have been the biggest offenders when it comes to working as lobbyists without formally registering. Forty-eight former senators and 295 former representatives were registered lobbyists in the last Congress, and that number is growing as the latest exiting class of lawmakers join firms. Some note the law has loopholes for determining when someone must register. The Lobbying Disclosure Act states that a person must register to lobby if lobbying activities constitute at least 20 percent of their time working for a client. That allows many former members who work for lobbying shops and big firms to handle policy issues but avoid crossing the line to require registering as a lobbyist.

FEC Raises Contribution Limits for 2020
The Hill – Reid Wilson | Published: 2/7/2019

The FEC announced new higher campaign contribution limits. Donors would be able to give up to $2,800 per election, including both the primary and the general election contests, in the new cycle, a $100 increase over the 2018 cycle. Individuals will be allowed to contribute up to $35,500 to party accounts like the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee every year. The commission raises the cap every two years under a provision in the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act.

National Enquirer’s Parent Firm Asked U.S. If It Should Register as Foreign Agent for Saudis
NBC News – Josh Lederman | Published: 2/11/2019

The company that publishes the National Enquirer was concerned enough that it may have acted as an agent of Saudi Arabia that it asked the Department of Justice last year whether it needed to register as a foreign lobbyist. Communications between the Justice Department and American Media Inc. offer the fullest picture to date of interactions between the tabloid publisher and the Saudis ahead of AMI’s release last year of flattering magazine about Saudi Arabia’s young leader. Under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, people or entities that work to advance a foreign country’s political interests in the U.S. must disclose their specific activities and register as foreign lobbyists.

Ocasio-Cortez Learned Lobbyists Pay People to Avoid Waiting in Lines in D.C. She’s Not Pleased.
MSN – Eli Rosenberg (Washington Post) | Published: 2/13/2019

Paying people to wait in line to get prime seats at Capitol Hill hearings is a once-controversial maneuver that has now become accepted practice. Critics say line-standing or line-waiting is a small but visible example of how money affects politics in Washington – how people with resources buy access to lawmakers as they deliberate legislation. The practice, which is expensive but not illegal, has long been a popular one for lobbyists. U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is experiencing life as a legislator in Washington for the first time, tweeted her reaction to seeing a line of people waiting for a committee hearing: “Shock doesn’t begin to cover it. Apparently this is a normal practice, and people don’t bat an eye.”

From the States and Municipalities:

California: To Do Business with L.A., City Contractors Now Must Disclose Ties with the NRA
Los Angeles Times – Dakota Smith | Published: 2/12/2019

The Los Angeles City Council passed an ordinance that requires companies seeking contracts with the city to disclose any ties to the National Rifle Association (NRA). Prospective contractors now must disclose under affidavit any contracts or sponsorships they or their subsidiaries have with the NRA. The city has similar policies about companies involved in the construction of President Trump’s proposed border wall. The NRA disclosure law contains more than a dozen exemptions, including contracts involving the city’s pension funds and other investment agreements. Still, attorneys for the NRA said they would file a lawsuit if the ordinance passed, according to a letter sent to the city.

Colorado: High Cost of Influence: $33 million spent last year lobbying Colorado lawmakers
Denver Post – Nic Garcia | Published: 2/7/2019

More than $33 million was spent lobbying Colorado lawmakers in 2018. Lawmakers sometimes rely on lobbyists for expertise and resources the politicians do not have. They fill a knowledge gap for state lawmakers, who have slim staffs to help research and write legislation. Also, because lawmakers can only serve eight years in each chamber, they are limited in the institutional knowledge they can build. Critics say that gives lobbyists access and influence the general public does not always have. “They obviously provide information that is favorable to their clients and not the whole picture,” said Paul Teske, dean of the School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado at Denver.

Florida: The Lawmaker Who Dressed in Blackface Is Pushing an Ethics Bill Today. Does It Matter?
Tampa Bay Times – Lawrence Mower | Published: 2/12/2019

Florida Rep. Anthony Sabatini has been making national headlines for wearing blackface in a high school prank 14 years ago. It has not stopped him from pushing numerous bills in Tallahassee, including a sweeping bill that would strengthen the state’s ethics laws. It includes provisions that would ban officials from getting investment advice from lobbyists, require lobbyists who influence the executive branch to register online, and make it illegal for officials to seek jobs that conflict with their lawmaking duties. Sabatini he initially felt terrible for anyone who saw the photograph and did not understand the context. But as the story grew, he felt some news reports were using the incident to be sensational, and he has since refused to apologize.

Georgia: State Ethics Commissioners Move to Fill Executive Secretary’s Post After Resignation
Yahoo Finance – R. Robin McDonald (ALM Media) | Published: 2/11/2019

Stefan Ritter resigned as executive secretary of the Georgia Government Transparency & Campaign Finance Commission after being placed on paid leave amid accusations he misused his state-issued computer. Three formal complaints revealed Ritter’s departure stemmed from the discovery by commission staff of “hundreds of pornographic images” on his computer that at least one staff member observed Ritter viewing in the office. The complaints accused him of instructing staff not to open inquiries of multiple candidates in the 2017 Atlanta mayoral race who staffers believed may have violated state campaign finance laws. Ritter also was accused of making a similar call regarding possible campaign violations by Stacey Abrams’ gubernatorial campaign.

Indiana: Veteran Agency’s Secretive Deal with Former State Senator Possibly Violated Lobbying Laws
Indianapolis Star – Tony Cook and Chris Sikich | Published: 2/14/2019

After a state lawmaker pushed to expand the reach of the Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA), the agency awarded him a secretive, and possibly illegal, lobbying contract that has paid him more than $150,000. The deal, signed nine months after former state Sen. Allen Paul left office, appears to run afoul of Indiana’s “revolving door” law meant to curb politicians from cashing in on government service. Paul also failed to register as a lobbyist. While the contract was in effect, Paul rarely showed up at the office, interacted little with key lawmakers, and did not maintain an account of the hours he worked. Paul continued to be paid even after the IDVA hired a full-time employee to do essentially the same job.

Michigan: Benson: Pro-Whitmer group broke campaign finance law, will pay fine
Detroit News – Jonathan Oosting | Published: 2/8/2019

A group that ran television ads last year featuring Gov. Gretchen Whitmer violated the Michigan Campaign Finance Act and has agreed to pay a $37,500 settlement, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said. Build a Better Michigan spent more than $2.4 million in 2018 and ran a series of pro-Whitmer ads it described as a form of “issue advocacy” traditionally exempt from the law. But some of those ads violated the statute by identifying Whitmer as a “candidate for governor,” Benson said. Benson also ruled the group’s spending could not be considered an “independent expenditure” because of apparent coordination between the group and Whitmer’s campaign.

New York: Claiming Attempt to Silence Them, Advocacy Groups Oppose Cuomo Lobbying Proposal
Gotham Gazette – Lysette Voytko | Published: 2/10/2019

One provision of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s reform agenda would require any individual or organization spending over $500 in a year on lobbying to be required to register as a lobbyist, lowering the threshold from $5,000. The proposal is sparking outcry from nonprofit leaders and others, who say the proposal would harm smaller organizations and activist groups that do little formal lobbying and cannot afford the labor or time to navigate the state’s complex lobbying regulations. “Perversely, while this might increase the number of filings, it will effectively silence small groups while increasing the influence of big money in government,” states a letter from 15 nonprofits.

Texas: In Texas, More Than a Million Dollars in Ethics Fines Have Gone Unpaid
Texas Monitor – Johnny Kampis | Published: 2/7/2019

Data from the Texas Ethics Commission shows state Rep. Ron Reynolds owes $52,500 in fines for failing to file timely personal finance statements required for all candidates. Reynolds is one of the worst offenders in terms of unpaid ethics fines, but he is far from alone in thumbing his nose at the commission. As of the most recent updating on February 4, the ethics agency’s delinquent filer list shows that Texas officeholders and candidates owe more than $1.3 million in fines for being lax on those financial statements.

Virginia: Virginia Democrats Looking for a Clear Path Forward from Scandals
San Francisco Chronicle – Amy Gardner and Jenna Portnoy (Washington Post) | Published: 2/10/2019

Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring are staying, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax is fighting, and Virginia Democrats are grappling with how to proceed in a situation with no precedent and no one leading the way out of one of the party’s most disastrous periods in history. More than a week has passed since images emerged of Northam’s medical school yearbook page depicting a man in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan robe. Since then, two women have accused Fairfax of sexual assault and Herring has admitted he wore blackface as a young man. As a group, Democrats in the state publicly embraced their party’s zero tolerance for racism and sexual violence. But privately, Democrats are divided, particularly about whether ousting Northam is best for their party.

Washington: Seattle Ethics Commission May Shine Light on Political Work, City Hall Lobbying
Seattle Times – Daniel Beekman | Published: 2/12/2019

The Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission may require lobbyists to report the work they do for political campaigns. The debate follows a Seattle Times story about partners at Sound View Strategies who helped elect Mayor Jenny Durkan and have given her informal political advice. They have also been paid by corporate clients to lobby Durkan’s administration on legislation and advocate at City Hall on regulatory matters. Though Seattle already requires candidates to disclose their payments to consultants and mandates lobbyists list their payments from clients, those activities are reported separately and differently, so it can be hard to connect the dots.

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February 14, 2019 •

NM Bill Setting Out New Ethics Commission’s Duties Introduced

In November, New Mexico voters approved a constitutional amendment to Article 5 of the state’s constitution. Constitutional Amendment 2 creates an independent ethics commission with jurisdiction to investigate, adjudicate and issue advisory opinions concerning civil violations of laws governing ethics, […]

In November, New Mexico voters approved a constitutional amendment to Article 5 of the state’s constitution.

Constitutional Amendment 2 creates an independent ethics commission with jurisdiction to investigate, adjudicate and issue advisory opinions concerning civil violations of laws governing ethics, standards of conduct and reporting requirements.

In order to be a functional commission, the Legislature must pass laws granting the commission all of its powers and duties.

As a result, state Rep. Daymon Ely introduced House Bill 4 setting out the new agency’s responsibilities.

The bill states the commission will have jurisdiction to investigate and adjudicate a complaint alleging a civil violation of the Lobbyist Regulation Act and the Campaign Reporting Act.

Additionally, the commission would have the authority to suspend a person from consideration for award of a contract if the person violates the Procurement Code.

If passed, sections 1 through 5, 7, and 37 of the bill will be effective July 1, 2019. The remaining sections will be effective January 1, 2020.

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February 14, 2019 •

Thursday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance National: “Court Ruling Doesn’t Stop Untraceable Election Spending” by Brian Slodysko (Associated Press) for apnews.org Tennessee: “Tennessee Lawmakers Appeared to Violate Fundraising Rules – but They’re Unlikely to Face Penalties” by Joel Ebert for The Tennessean Elections National: […]

Campaign Finance

National: “Court Ruling Doesn’t Stop Untraceable Election Spending” by Brian Slodysko (Associated Press) for apnews.org

Tennessee: “Tennessee Lawmakers Appeared to Violate Fundraising Rules – but They’re Unlikely to Face Penalties” by Joel Ebert for The Tennessean

Elections

National: “How Manafort’s 2016 Meeting with a Russian Employee at New York Cigar Club Goes to ‘the Heart’ of Mueller’s Probe” by Rosalind Helderman and Tom Hamburger for Washington Post

National: “Former Federal Election Commission Chair Ann Ravel Runs for State Senate in San Jose” by Casey Tolan for San Jose Mercury News

Oregon: “Oregon Secretary of State Proposes $95K Fine for Ballots Turned in Late” by Hillary Borrud for Portland Oregonian

Ethics

National: “Top Leader at Interior Dept. Pushes a Policy Favoring His Former Client” by Coral Davenport for New York Times

Montana: “Who Should Fall Under the Montana Legislature’s Anti-Harassment Policy? No Easy Answer” by Holly Michels for Helena Independent Record

New Mexico: “Ethics Commission Measure Unveiled” by Dan Boyd for Albuquerque Journal

Lobbying

Washington: “Seattle Ethics Commission May Shine Light on Political Work, City Hall Lobbying” by Daniel Beekman for Seattle Times

Procurement

California: “To Do Business with L.A., City Contractors Now Must Disclose Ties with the NRA” by Dakota Smith for Los Angeles Times

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February 13, 2019 •

North Dakota Legislators Debate How to Create an Ethics Commission

North Dakota lawmakers are dealing with dual proposals to create a state ethics commission, as required by the passage of Measure 1 in November. House Bill 1521 and Senate Bill 2148 have held multiple hearings, and several senators have proposed […]

North Dakota lawmakers are dealing with dual proposals to create a state ethics commission, as required by the passage of Measure 1 in November.

House Bill 1521 and Senate Bill 2148 have held multiple hearings, and several senators have proposed amendments to alter the definition of a lobbyist, while the House version prohibits public officials from accepting gifts from lobbyists valued at more than $60 per event.

The next hearings will take place on Thursday.

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February 13, 2019 •

Los Angeles City Council Passes Measure Targeting Pro-NRA Contractors

The Los Angeles City Council passed an ordinance on February 12 which requires companies that have contracts with the city to disclose under affidavit any contracts or sponsorships they or their subsidiaries have with the National Rifle Association. A letter […]

The Los Angeles City Council passed an ordinance on February 12 which requires companies that have contracts with the city to disclose under affidavit any contracts or sponsorships they or their subsidiaries have with the National Rifle Association.

A letter last week sent from the NRA threatened legal action if the ordinance passed, stating the proposal violates the First Amendment and is “an unconstitutional effort to restrict and chill an individual’s right to associate and express their political beliefs.”

Ordinance 18-0896 passed on a 14-0 vote and is headed to Mayor Eric Garcetti’s desk for review.

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February 13, 2019 •

Wednesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance Louisiana: “Ethics Board to Reconsider If Louisiana Candidates Can Pay for Child Care with Campaign Funds” by Elizabeth Crisp for New Orleans Advocate Ethics National: “Rick Scott Won’t Put His Wealth in a Blind Trust Anymore” by Steve […]

Campaign Finance

Louisiana: “Ethics Board to Reconsider If Louisiana Candidates Can Pay for Child Care with Campaign Funds” by Elizabeth Crisp for New Orleans Advocate

Ethics

National: “Rick Scott Won’t Put His Wealth in a Blind Trust Anymore” by Steve Contorno for Tampa Bay Times

Canada: “Ethics Inquiry Opened Over Justin Trudeau’s Actions in Bribery Case” by Ian Austen for New York Times

Colorado: “John Hickenlooper Ethics Complaint Over Travel Is Moving Forward After Commission Refuses to Dismiss” by Nic Garcia for Denver Post

Florida: “The Lawmaker Who Dressed in Blackface Is Pushing an Ethics Bill Today. Does It Matter?” by Lawrence Mower for Tampa Bay Times

North Dakota: “North Dakota Bill Would Keep Ethics Complaint Process Largely Secret” by Patrick Springer for Inforum.com

Lobbying

National: “Ex-Lawmakers Face New Scrutiny Over Lobbying” by Alex Gangitano for The Hill

National: “National Enquirer’s Parent Firm Asked U.S. If It Should Register as Foreign Agent for Saudis” by Josh Lederman for NBC News

New Mexico: “Public Disclosure of Legislation a Lobbyist Works on Moves Forward” by Marjorie Childress for New Mexico In Depth

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February 12, 2019 •

Oklahoma Ethics Commission Acts on Proposed Rule Changes

The Oklahoma Ethics Commission chose not to vote on Proposed Rule 2019-02 after hearing public comments that the proposal would affect free speech and political activity. The proposed rule would have required disclosure of the names of organizations involved in […]

The Oklahoma Ethics Commission chose not to vote on Proposed Rule 2019-02 after hearing public comments that the proposal would affect free speech and political activity.

The proposed rule would have required disclosure of the names of organizations involved in indirect or grassroots lobbying via radio, phone, internet or other broadcast media if those groups spent more than $500 on campaigns for or against specific pieces of legislation.

Those groups would also have been required to file reports with the Ethics Commission if expenditures exceeded $5,000.

The Ethics Commission passed other proposals for consideration, including a revolving door provision prohibiting elected state officers and chief administrative officers from lobbying for two years following their terms of office or service, new rules regarding the due dates of electronic filings, and revised reporting periods for candidate election reports and independent expenditure reports.

Additionally, the Ethics Commission submitted a proposal to prohibit state legislators from operating or becoming an officer of a PAC.

If the Legislature chooses not to reject the proposed rule changes again, all passed amendments will be effective upon adjournment sine die of the regular legislative session on May 31.

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February 12, 2019 •

Tuesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance Michigan: “Benson: Pro-Whitmer group broke campaign finance law, will pay fine” by Jonathan Oosting for Detroit News New York: “Analysis: Public matching program increases heft of small donors” by David Lombardo for Albany Times Union Ethics National: “House […]

Campaign Finance

Michigan: “Benson: Pro-Whitmer group broke campaign finance law, will pay fine” by Jonathan Oosting for Detroit News

New York: “Analysis: Public matching program increases heft of small donors” by David Lombardo for Albany Times Union

Ethics

National: “House Democratic Leaders Call Ilhan Omar’s Tweets ‘Anti-Semitic’ and ‘Deeply Offensive’” by Rachel Bade, Kristine Phillips, Mike DeBonis, and Meagan Flynn for Washington Post

Georgia: “Ethics Commission Director Resigns in Middle of Ethics Investigation” by Dale Russell for WAGA

Pennsylvania: “No Prison Time for Former Mayor Ed Pawlowski’s Top Aide” by Emily Opilo and Peter Hall for Allentown Morning Call

Texas: “In Texas, More Than a Million Dollars in Ethics Fines Have Gone Unpaid” by Johnny Kampis for Texas Monitor

Virginia: “Virginia Democrats Looking for a Clear Path Forward from Scandals” by Amy Gardner and Jenna Portnoy (Washington Post) for San Francisco Chronicle

Lobbying

New York: “Claiming Attempt to Silence Them, Advocacy Groups Oppose Cuomo Lobbying Proposal” by Lysette Voytko for Gotham Gazette

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February 11, 2019 •

Maine Announces Special Election to fill House Seat

A special election will take place on April 2 to fill a vacancy in House District 52. Rep. Jennifer DeChant vacated the office to work at telecommunications and media company Charter Communications. DeChant had served in House District 52 since […]

A special election will take place on April 2 to fill a vacancy in House District 52.

Rep. Jennifer DeChant vacated the office to work at telecommunications and media company Charter Communications.

DeChant had served in House District 52 since 2012.

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February 11, 2019 •

The Corporate Political Disclosure Act of 2019 Introduced in U.S. Congress

On February 7, a bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to require publicly traded corporations to disclose all expenditures made for political activities. House Bill 1053, the Corporate Political Disclosure Act of 2019, would require publicly traded […]

On February 7, a bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to require publicly traded corporations to disclose all expenditures made for political activities.

House Bill 1053, the Corporate Political Disclosure Act of 2019, would require publicly traded corporations to disclose political expenditures, through the Securities and Exchange Commission, to their shareholders and to the general public.

The requirement would include reporting dues or other payments to trade associations that are, or could reasonably be anticipated to be, used or transferred to another association or organization for use on political activities.

The legislation, brought by Rep. Salud Ortiz Carbajal, was originally introduced in the prior congressional session, but never made it out of the House Committee on Financial Services.

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February 11, 2019 •

NYCU Video Digest – February 11, 2019

Happy Monday! Four stories from last week about new lobbying laws, campaign finance limits and gift laws you don’t want to miss!  

Happy Monday! Four stories from last week about new lobbying laws, campaign finance limits and gift laws you don’t want to miss!

 

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February 11, 2019 •

Monday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance National: “FEC Raises Contribution Limits for 2020” by Reid Wilson for The Hill California: “Downtown L.A. Developer Donated $50,000 Before Pivotal Vote Involving High-Rise Project, Records Show” by David Zahniser for Los Angeles Times Ethics National: “Prosecutors Probing […]

Campaign Finance

National: “FEC Raises Contribution Limits for 2020” by Reid Wilson for The Hill

California: “Downtown L.A. Developer Donated $50,000 Before Pivotal Vote Involving High-Rise Project, Records Show” by David Zahniser for Los Angeles Times

Ethics

National: “Prosecutors Probing Enquirer after Bezos Report” by Michael Sisak, Michael Balsamo, and Zeke Miller (Associated Press) for MSN

Florida: “City Manager Goad: City email to non-profits asking for tickets ‘out of step’” by Karl Etters for Tallahassee Democrat

Hawaii: “Former OHA Trustee Rowena Akana Hit with $23K Ethics Fine” by Anita Hofschneider for Honolulu Civil Beat

Missouri: “Missouri House Passes Bill on Closing Public Records” by Summer Ballentine (Associated Press) for Jefferson News Tribune

Virginia: “Virginia Sen. Tommy Norment Was an Editor for VMI Yearbook Filled with Racist Photos and Slurs” by Katherine Hafner, Elisha Sauers, and Dave Ress for The Virginian-Pilot

Lobbying

Colorado: “High Cost of Influence: $33 million spent last year lobbying Colorado lawmakers” by Eric Garcia for Denver Post

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