May 20, 2019 •

NYCU Video Digest – May 20, 2019

As more legislatures work through their legislative sessions, more new lobbying, ethics and campaign finance laws are being passed. Find out which states made changes in this edition of NYCU Video Digest  

As more legislatures work through their legislative sessions, more new lobbying, ethics and campaign finance laws are being passed. Find out which states made changes in this edition of NYCU Video Digest

 

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May 14, 2019 •

News You Can Use Video Digest

As states adjourn their legislative sessions, new laws concerning lobbying and campaign finance take effect. Check out which states have made changes in this weeks video digest!  

As states adjourn their legislative sessions, new laws concerning lobbying and campaign finance take effect. Check out which states have made changes in this weeks video digest!

 

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April 29, 2019 •

NYCU Video Digest – April 29, 20198

More ethics and campaign finance changes happening at the state level. Check out which states are making moves in today’s NYCU Video Digest!  

More ethics and campaign finance changes happening at the state level. Check out which states are making moves in today’s NYCU Video Digest!

 

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April 22, 2019 •

NYCU Video Digest – April 22, 2019

Campaign finance and ethics changes are happening in states all over the country. Find out which states made changes last week in today’s News You Can Use Video Digest.  

Campaign finance and ethics changes are happening in states all over the country. Find out which states made changes last week in today’s News You Can Use Video Digest.

 

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April 15, 2019 •

NYCU Video Digest – April 15, 2018

Take a quick minute to check out campaign finance, elections, ethics and lobbying news from across the country!

Take a quick minute to check out campaign finance, elections, ethics and lobbying news from across the country!

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April 5, 2019 •

Governor Signs Utah Lobbying Bills

In the 2019 legislative session, legislators passed House Bill 64 and Senate Bill 147 amending the state’s lobbying provisions. Both bills were signed by Gov. Gary Herbert this month. House Bill 64 creates disclosure requirements for lobbying local government and […]

In the 2019 legislative session, legislators passed House Bill 64 and Senate Bill 147 amending the state’s lobbying provisions. Both bills were signed by Gov. Gary Herbert this month.

House Bill 64 creates disclosure requirements for lobbying local government and board of education members.

The new requirements include quarterly reporting and prohibit expenditures by lobbyists and principals over $10. Not included in the $10 limit are expenditures for food, beverage, travel, lodging, or admission to or attendance at a tour or meeting.

Senate Bill 147 follows a national trend in modifying requirements for lobbyist ethics and harassment training and adds a due date for completion as well as penalties for non-completion.

Both bills go into effect on May 13, 2019, 60 days after the adjournment sine die of the legislature.

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March 29, 2019 •

News You Can Use Digest – March 29, 2019

      Federal: Barr’s Declaration on Trump Puts Justice Dept. Back in Political Crucible MSN – Charlie Savage, Mark Mazzetti, and Katie Benner (New York Times) | Published: 3/25/2019 Attorney General William Barr’s decision to declare that evidence fell short of proving […]

 

 

 

Federal:

Barr’s Declaration on Trump Puts Justice Dept. Back in Political Crucible
MSN – Charlie Savage, Mark Mazzetti, and Katie Benner (New York Times) | Published: 3/25/2019

Attorney General William Barr’s decision to declare that evidence fell short of proving President Trump illegally obstructed the Russia inquiry was an extraordinary outcome to a narrative that spanned nearly two years. Robert Mueller was appointed as special counsel to remove the threat of political interference from an investigation involving the president, but he reached no conclusion on the key question of whether Trump committed an obstruction-of-justice offense. Barr stepped in to make the determination, bringing the specter of politics back into the case. Senior Justice Department officials defended his decision as prudent and within his purview, but it reignited a debate about the role of American law enforcement in politically charged federal investigations.

‘No PAC Money’ Pledges Leave Corporations in a Partisan Bind
Roll Call – Kate Ackley | Published: 3/21/2019

It is not just the number of members of Congress pledging not to accept money from PACs for corporations and trade groups (more than 50 so far) that is a problem, but their party affiliation – almost entirely Democratic. If the trend spreads into the 2020 campaign cycle, it could put companies and associations in a bind. Many of the top PACs connected to businesses and trade associations maintain roughly balanced giving ratios and some of them have enshrined such practices. “Most PACs pride themselves on being bipartisan and supporting candidates who are understanding of their issues, so they can engage in a policy conversation. There’s a real fear of just losing that balanced approach,” said Kristin Brackemyre of the Public Affairs Council.

From the States and Municipalities:

California: A State Lawmaker Borrowed Nearly a Half-Million Dollars to Buy a Home. You Might Have Voted for Her Lender.
CALmatters – Matt Levin | Published: 3/26/2019

To buy a house, a state legislator received a $430,000 personal loan from a former member of Congress from Orange County, an arrangement that some legal experts labeled unusual, but that both politicians said was not improper. State Assemblyperson Sharon Quirk-Silva borrowed the sum from former U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez, an unsuccessful 2016 U.S. Senate candidate, in the fall of 2017. Quirk-Silva and her husband repaid Sanchez with interest. While California law bans state and local elected officials from borrowing money from each other, nothing appears to prohibit the arrangement Quirk-Silva struck with Sanchez, who did not hold elected office at the time. In late 2018, Sanchez would announce her candidacy for a seat on the Orange County Board of Supervisors, going on to lose.

Colorado: Lawmakers Take Aim at Disclosure Loopholes in Colorado Lobbying Laws
Colorado Sun – Sandra Fish | Published: 3/25/2019

Colorado lawmakers have introduced a measure to eliminate loopholes in lobbying laws and require more disclosure to the public, part of an effort to address long-standing concerns about transparency. House Bill 1248 would require more frequent reporting by lobbyists what bills they were hired to follow, and the position taken by their clients. Lobbyists would need to file any changes in their positions on legislation within 48 hours during the session. Now, those updates are required only once a month. The legislation also aims to close loopholes that some lobbyists appear to use to avoid reporting income from clients.

Connecticut: Jon Lender: Lobbyists pay $13,000 in fines connected to tech schools controversy
Hartford Courant – Jon Lender | Published: 3/22/2019

The Office of State Ethics collected $13,000 in fines from the lobbying and consulting firm Kozak & Salina and one of its owners. The firm had a contract with the Connecticut Technical High School System (CTHSS) from 2014 to 2016 to provide “external relations and strategic consulting services,” and a similar contract for 2015 with the lighting fixture company Penn Globe. Kozak & Salina relayed communications between Penn Globe and CTHSS and charged both for the same services. So, when the lobbying firm submitted invoices to the state to obtain payment, it was getting paid twice, said Carol Carson, executive director of the ethics office. In addition to a $10,000 fine against his firm, David Kozak paid $3,000 for failing to file required registration and disclosure statements about his work for Penn Globe.

District of Columbia: As D.C. Leaders Tout Reforms, Latest Ethics Scandal Evokes City’s History of Corruption
Washington Post – Paul Schwartzman | Published: 3/23/2019

District of Columbia Councilperson Jack Evans admitted he violated the council’s code of conduct when he repeatedly used his government email account to offer potential clients the benefit of his political connections and the influence he amassed as a lawmaker and chairperson of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Civic groups chided the council as being too lenient when it reprimanded Evans rather than strip him of powerful committee posts. Reform activist Bryan Weaver said Evans’ actions, and the council’s response, evoke the worst aspects of the city’s history of official misconduct, one that has triggered periodic crises engulfing mayors, council members, government appointees, and employees.

Florida: ‘As American as Apple Pie’: How Miami commissioner’s aunt became a high-priced lobbyist
Miami Herald – David Smiley and Joey Flechas | Published: 3/26/2019

Some companies have chosen not to hire Barbara Hardemon as a lobbyist due to concerns about the perception of undue influence as she is the aunt of Miami City Commissioner Keon Hardemon. But in the years since his 2013 election, the commissioner’s aunt has emerged as a closer for some of Miami’s biggest businesses. Barbara Hardemon’s lobbying shop is allowed under state and local laws, which prohibit elected officials and their immediate family from profiting personally off the contracts they oversee but say nothing about their extended family. Her lucrative rise from occasional City Hall lobbyist to 11th-hour power broker has blurred the lines between negotiations and nepotism.

Florida: Ethics Board Aims to Put Teeth in Code, Seeks Greater Oversight of Tallahassee City Hall
Tallahassee Democrat – Jeff Burlew | Published: 3/23/2019

The Tallahassee Independent Ethics Board is finalizing proposals that could expand its oversight of City Hall and strengthen an ethics code that has long been seen as weak and toothless. The board currently has jurisdiction over only nine people. But proposed changes would extend its jurisdiction to cover all employees who work in procurement or are required by state law to file financial disclosures. The proposals include giving the board the power to issue subpoenas and take sworn testimony, a ban on all gifts no matter their value, and higher fines for lobbyists who try to influence city officials without registering and disclosing their clients.

Iowa: Iowa Treasurers End Scholarships Amid Ethics Law Inquiries
AP News – Ryan Foley | Published: 3/27/2019

County treasurers in Iowa canceled a scholarship program that benefited their relatives and employees amid criticism the vendor-funded awards were illegal gifts under state ethics law. The program consisted of four, $500 scholarships that were awarded each year to the college-bound children and grandchildren of county treasurers and their staffs. The money came from two companies that do extensive business with treasurers: GovTech Services, which runs the website that 88 counties use to collect property and motor vehicle taxes, and SRI Inc., which operates tax auctions for dozens of counties. Since the program’s inception, critics have worried the scholarships violated the gift law, which bars public employees and their immediate relatives from accepting money from contractors.

Maryland: Maryland House of Delegates Votes Unanimously to Reprimand Jalisi Over ‘Abusive’ Treatment of His Staff
Baltimore Sun – Luke Broadwater | Published: 3/27/2019

The Maryland House voted unanimously to publicly reprimand Del. Jay Jalisi for “an ongoing pattern of bullying and abusive workplace behavior.” The delegates voted after receiving a report outlining the investigation from the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics that alleged Jalisi forced his staff to work overtime without pay, bullied others, got kicked out of a hotel, and made a staffer stand in the delegate’s office and repeat: “I am incompetent. I am incompetent.” This is not the first time Jalisi’s actions have been scrutinized. In 2015, a Baltimore County judge issued a protective order barring Jalisi from contact with his then-teenage daughter.

Massachusetts: House Proposal for Caucus Funding Left Out of Budget Bill – but Caucuses May Still Fundraise
MassLive.com – Shira Schoenberg | Published: 3/25/2019

A controversial Massachusetts House proposal to let caucuses raise private money did not make it into the final version of a budget bill. But House leaders say that under their internal rules, caucuses will still be able to raise private money as long as they comply with ethics rules, which bar lobbyists from giving and require any gift of over $50 to be approved by House counsel to avoid conflicts-of-interest. When the House passed its rules in January, members approved a rule that would let caucuses raise money from public or private sources. But some advocates for open government worried this could create a legislative “slush fund” where special interests with business before the Legislature could donate to lawmakers with no transparency.

New Jersey: Dark Money Disclosure Bill Advanced to Gov. Phil Murphy’s Desk
Burlington County Times – David Levinsky | Published: 3/26/2019

Legislation to require so-called dark money groups operating in New Jersey to reveal their donors was sent to Gov. Phil Murphy. The bill has undergone several changes after being approved by the Senate, but it would still mandate the disclosure of donors who give more than $10,000 to nonprofit 501(c)4 groups that are not currently subject to disclosure requirements if they engage in political activities, lobbying, or campaigning. It would also mandate the disclosure of expenses of more than $3,000 and would also boost contribution limits to state and county political committees. Those groups are already subject to strict reporting requirements but have been usurped by “dark-money” groups in recent years.

Pennsylvania: GOP Legislator Prays to Jesus for Forgiveness Before State’s First Muslim Woman Swears In
MSN – Reis Thebault (Washington Post) | Published: 3/26/2019

Movita Johnson-Harrell brought 55 guests to her swearing in as the Pennsylvania Legislature’s first Muslim woman. Thirty-two of them were Muslim. She later for the General Assembly to censure State Rep. Stephanie Borowicz, who delivered the opening prayer to begin the legislative session day. By the time she said “Amen,” Borowicz had invoked Jesus 13 times. She mentioned “Lord” and “God” another six times each and referenced “The Great I Am” and “the one who’s coming back again, the one who came, died, and rose again on the third day.” As the prayer reached a crescendo, at least one member shouted objections. Afterward, the protests only grew louder.

West Virginia: Governor Signs Bills Raising Campaign Contribution Limits, Cutting Coal Tax
Beckley Register-Herald – Erin Beck | Published: 3/27/2019

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice signed into law a bill that increases the limits on campaign contributions by individuals. Senate Bill 622 increases the limits to $2,800 for candidates, $5,000 for PACs, and up to $10,000 per year for party committees. Current limits for each category are set at $1,000. Julie Archer of the West Virginia Citizen Action Group said bill does nothing about “dark money.” She said Democrats attempted to amend the bill at least twice to require disclosures by donors that “funnel” money through groups.

Wisconsin: Judge Bocks GOP Lame-Duck Laws Limiting Tony Evers’ Powers; Evers Seeks to Remove Wisconsin from Obamacare Challenge
madison.com – Mark Sommerhauser | Published: 3/21/2019

A judge blocked several actions by Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled Legislature to limit the power of its incoming governor, Democrat Tony Evers, and preserve policies implemented by his predecessor, Scott Walker. The Legislature acted in what is known as an “extraordinary session,” called with little notice. It lasted two days and one night and sparked heated protests. The three bills enacted during the sessions were extraordinary in breadth. One of them gave the Legislature powers usually and exclusively reserved for the attorney general, such as approving legal actions by the state. At the time of the session, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos stated its purpose plainly: “We are going to have a very liberal governor who is going to enact policies that are in direct contrast to what many of us believe in,” Vos said.

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March 28, 2019 •

West Virginia Governor Signs Campaign Contribution Bill

Gov. Jim Justice signed Senate Bill 622 on March 27, with an effective date of June 7. The bill increases campaign contribution limits allowing $2,800 to candidates, $5,000 to political action committees (PACs), and $10,000 to party committees. The current […]

Gov. Jim Justice signed Senate Bill 622 on March 27, with an effective date of June 7.

The bill increases campaign contribution limits allowing $2,800 to candidates, $5,000 to political action committees (PACs), and $10,000 to party committees. The current limits for each category are set at $1,000.

PACs will also be required to electronically file all independent expenditure reports and financial statements.

The bill also requires federal PACs who spend money on state elections to file disclosures with the Office of Secretary of the State.

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March 25, 2019 •

NYCU Video Digest – March 25, 2019

We know there’s a story that’s going to be dominating the headlines for awhile, but here are a few stories on new campaign finance laws, ethics commissions and revolving door restrictions you don’t want to miss!  

We know there’s a story that’s going to be dominating the headlines for awhile, but here are a few stories on new campaign finance laws, ethics commissions and revolving door restrictions you don’t want to miss!

 

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March 25, 2019 •

Monday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance National: “Following Citizens United, Foreign-Owned Corporations Funnel Millions into US Elections” by Karl Evers-Hillstrom and Raymod Arke for Center for Responsive Politics National: “‘No PAC Money’ Pledges Leave Corporations in a Partisan Bind” by Kate Ackley for Roll […]

Campaign Finance

National: “Following Citizens United, Foreign-Owned Corporations Funnel Millions into US Elections” by Karl Evers-Hillstrom and Raymod Arke for Center for Responsive Politics

National: “‘No PAC Money’ Pledges Leave Corporations in a Partisan Bind” by Kate Ackley for Roll Call

Ethics

National: Mueller Finds No Trump-Russia Conspiracy, but Stops Short of Exonerating President on Obstruction by Mark Mazzetti and Katie Benner (New York Times) for MSN

National: “Cummings Demands Docs on Kushner’s Alleged Use of Encrypted App for Official Business” by Andrwew Desiderio and Kyle Cheney for Politico

Illinois: “Ald. Willie Cochran Pleads Guilty — Finally — to Federal Fraud Charge for Misusing Campaign Funds” by Jason Meisner for Chicago Tribune

Maryland: “University of Maryland Medical System CEO Placed on Leave Amid Review of Contracting Practices” by Luke Broadwater and Pamela Wood for Baltimore Sun

New Jersey: “‘Dark Money’ Groups Pour Tens of Millions of Dollars into N.J. elections. Lawmakers Want to Know Their Donors.” by Jonathan Lai for Philadelphia Inquirer

Legislative Issues

Wisconsin: “Judge Bocks GOP Lame-Duck Laws Limiting Tony Evers’ Powers; Evers Seeks to Remove Wisconsin from Obamacare Challenge” by Mark Sommerhauser for madison.com

Lobbying

Connecticut: “Jon Lender: Lobbyists pay $13,000 in fines connected to tech schools controversy” by Jon Lender for Hartford Courant

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March 18, 2019 •

NYCU Video Digest – March 18, 2019

Campaign finance reform, elections changes, and new lobbying and ethics bills passed in this week’s News You Can Use video digest!

Campaign finance reform, elections changes, and new lobbying and ethics bills passed in this week’s News You Can Use video digest!

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March 11, 2019 •

NYCU Video Digest – March 11, 2019

Keeping track of changes to federal and state ethics and campaign finance laws is tough. Here are four stories you don’t want to miss from last week about changes happening all across the country!  

Keeping track of changes to federal and state ethics and campaign finance laws is tough. Here are four stories you don’t want to miss from last week about changes happening all across the country!

 

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March 1, 2019 •

News You Can Use – March 1, 2019

      Federal: Cohen Tells Congress Trump Knew About WikiLeaks’ Plans, Directed Hush-Money Payments MSN – Matt Zapotosky, Rosalind Helderman, Karoun Demirjian, and Rachael Bade (Washington Post) | Published: 2/27/2019 Michael Cohen, President Trump’s longtime lawyer and fixer, laid out for Congress […]

 

 

 

Federal:

Cohen Tells Congress Trump Knew About WikiLeaks’ Plans, Directed Hush-Money Payments
MSN – Matt Zapotosky, Rosalind Helderman, Karoun Demirjian, and Rachael Bade (Washington Post) | Published: 2/27/2019

Michael Cohen, President Trump’s longtime lawyer and fixer, laid out for Congress for the first time a series of deceptions by the president. He charged that Trump lied to the public about business interests in Russia, lied to reporters about stolen Democratic emails, and told Cohen to lie about hush payments to cover up sexual misconduct. The accusations, aired at a daylong hearing before the House Oversight and Reform Committee, exposed a dark underside of Trump’s business and political worlds in the voice of one of the ultimate insiders. Perhaps no close associate has turned on a president in front of Congress in such dramatic fashion and with such high stakes since John Dean testified against President Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal.

From the States and Municipalities:

Arkansas: Arkansas Grapples with Ethics Cleanup Amid Federal Probes
4029tv – Andrew DeMillo (Associated Press) | Published: 2/24/2019

A flurry of corruption cases in the past two years has been eye-popping, even for the most jaded veterans of Arkansas politics. Among those who have been charged are a nephew of the current governor, a champion of campaign finance reform, and a top county official who admitted to taking bribes funneled through the church where he was a pastor. The recent cases have stirred fears the Capitol is becoming better known as a hotbed of corruption than for any policy achievements, and legislative leaders are scrambling to repair that image and find ways of deterring future misdeeds.

California: The Political Playbook of a Bankrupt California Utility
MSN – Thomas Fuller and Ivan Penn (New York Times) | Published: 2/23/2019

Despite evidence Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) was responsible for repeated safety violations and involved in deadly wildfires, lawmakers in California continued to benefit from political donations from the company. Investigators are now determining whether PG&E equipment was responsible for the state’s deadliest wildfire, the inferno in and around Paradise that killed 85 people and destroyed more than 13,000 homes. With the state’s tech giants focused on their influence in Washington, D.C., perhaps no company in California is more entangled with local Democratic politics than PG&E, which in January filed for bankruptcy. PG&E’s restructuring will test whether Gov. Gavin Newsom and other Democratic leaders can push to create a company free from what critics say has been a culture of cronyism between regulators and the regulated.

Florida: The SWAT Team Showed Up at a Florida Mayor’s Door. Then He Started Shooting, Police Say.
Washington Post – Reis Thebault and Eli Rosenberg | Published: 2/21/2019

The mayor of a small Gulf Coast town in Florida was arrested after shooting at a SWAT team that had come to arrest him on charges of illegally practicing medicine. Dale Glen Massad, mayor of Port Richey, a town of around 2,600 north of Tampa, fired two shots at officers who raided his home in the early hours of the morning. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement was investigating Massad, a former doctor who gave up his license in 1992, after being tipped off that Massad was still practicing medicine. No officers were injured and Massad was arrested without further incident. He is charged with two counts of attempted homicide, according to the complaint.

Georgia: Nine Lawyers in Running to Head State Ethics Commission
Yahoo Finance – R. Robin McDonald (Law.com) | Published: 2/28/2019

Nine lawyers are in contention to become the new head of Georgia’s ethics commission, which has moved to replace former Executive Secretary Stefan Ritter. He resigned following an internal investigation, which stemmed from the discovery of hundreds of pornographic images on his state-issued computer. Complaints also accused Ritter of squelching ethics inquiries of several Atlanta mayoral candidates and possible campaign violations by a gubernatorial campaign. Finalists for the job include Robert Lane, deputy executive secretary of the Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, and Michael Sullivan, director of the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance.

Illinois: At Chicago City Hall, the Legislative Branch Rarely Does Much Legislating
ProPublica – Mick Dumke | Published: 2/25/2019

From 2011 through 2018, Chicago Ald. Pat Dowell was the chief sponsor of more than 900 separate ordinances in the city council, most of them pertaining to such hyperlocal issues as business sign permits, driveway alley access, and parking meter hours for single addresses. That volume of ward-specific legislation is typical for aldermen. Except in rare instances, the council signs off on the mayor’s agenda, even letting the city’s executive pick its legislative leaders. In return, aldermen are allowed to reign over matters large and small in their wards, which some openly describe as “fiefdoms.” The structure of the council has received new attention over the last several months, as the city’s political establishment has been rocked by scandals involving aldermen.

Louisiana: Louisiana Cap on Legislative Wining and Dining Grows to $62
Tacoma News Tribune; Associated Press –   | Published: 2/24/2019

When the new budget year begins in a few months, lobbyists can spend $62 per occasion on food and drink for a public official in Louisiana. The current cap is $61. The 2008 law that sets the limit allows annual adjustments tied to increases in the federal Consumer Price Index for food and beverages.

Maryland: Maryland Del. Mary Ann Lisanti Stripped of Leadership Post Over Use of Racial Slur
Washington Post – Ovetta Wiggins | Published: 2/26/2019

A Maryland lawmaker who witnesses say used a racial slur to describe a legislative district in Prince George’s County has been stripped of her leadership position and will undergo sensitivity training. Del. Mary Ann Lisanti issued a public apology after addressing the executive committee of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland. Lisanti used the slur in front of several colleagues at an Annapolis cigar bar in January. She told another white lawmaker that when he campaigned in Prince George’s on behalf of a candidate last fall, he was door-knocking in a “n—– district,” said Del. Jay Walker, who witnessed the comment and represents the district in question.

New Hampshire: NH Lobbyists Paid Record Fees in 2018 But Info Hard to Track
Manchester Union Leader – Kevin Landrigan | Published: 2/23/2019

Unofficially, the nearly 500 private or public interests that hired lobbyists in New Hampshire last year paid out nearly $10.7 million in fees. The Manchester Union Leader constructed a database of the fees paid to these lobbyists from information available on the secretary of state’s website. But the state’s website is not searchable. State officials scan all the forms and post them online. This means anyone trying to aggregate all the fees paid to any firm has to total up all the individual forms. In 2018, more than 1,000 lobbying firms filed these reports because several firms have more than one associate working for them. For example, the Sheehan Phinney Capitol Group has five registered lobbyists who represent 40 clients. To find out what the firm got paid in total requires looking at more than 120 forms.

North Carolina: In N.C., a Surprise: In the end, everyone agreed it was election fraud
Chicago Tribune – Amy Gardner (Washington Post) | Published: 2/23/2019

North Carolina will hold a new election in the Ninth Congressional District following a hearing that outlined how a political operative had orchestrated an absentee ballot scheme to try to sway the race in favor of Mark Harris, the Republican candidate. Harris was under scrutiny for hiring Leslie McCrae Dowless, who allegedly assembled a crew to illegally collect, fill out, and forge mail-in ballots in two rural counties in the district. Mark Harris’s son, John, testified before the State Board of Elections that he warned his father he believed Dowless had broken the law in a previous election and should not be hired for the 2018 campaign. The elder Harris had maintained in interviews with reporters that he was unaware of red flags about the operative’s alleged tactics.

Ohio: Even After FBI Probe of Ohio Speaker, Tracking Lawmakers’ Travel Remains Challenging
Cincinnati Enquirer – Jessie Balmert | Published: 2/24/2019

Each year, several Ohio lawmakers spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on out-of-state travel. They meet legislators from other states, learn about how foreign countries tackle problems, and make connections that could help them professionally and politically. But figuring out how much each lawmaker travels and who pays for those trips is far from easy. Legislators must report some travel for official business on annual ethics forms but not all. Some lawmakers use campaign contributions to pay for travel and document trips there. But lawmakers can also receive free trips from national groups or pay for the trips themselves – it is impossible to tell.

Oregon: Polluted by Money
Portland Oregonian – Rob Davis | Published: 2/22/2019

Over the last few years, Oregon’s most powerful industries have defeated, weakened, or stalled efforts to deal with climate change, air pollution, and other environmental matters. An investigation by The Portland Oregonian found the failure to regulate campaign finance has made Oregon one of the biggest money states in American politics, and the ready cash creates an easy regulatory climate where industry gets what it wants. A company might give as little as a few thousand dollars per lawmaker. But taken together, legislators receive millions from industries with a shared interest in weak environmental regulation. Some state lawmakers said the campaign finance system works by showing voters who is giving money and letting them judge whether it is significant.

Pennsylvania: How Philly’s Electricians Union and Johnny Doc Converted Payroll Deductions into Political Influence
Philadelphia Inquirer – Chris Brennan and Dylan Purcell | Published: 2/25/2019

From 2002 through 2018, small-dollar donations withdrawn from the paychecks of members of Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers produced just under $41 million to invest in helping elect allies to local, state, and national offices. The yearly haul has increased six-fold over the last decade. The recent indictment on corruption charges of the union’s leader, Johnny “Doc” Dougherty, entangled only one elected official – Philadelphia City Councilperson Bobby Henon – and did not charge anyone with making or receiving improper campaign donations. For a probe that took at least two years, it also gave barely a nod to the breadth of the influence and impact that Local 98 and its leader have amassed.

Texas: Most Dallas City Council Members’ Campaign-Finance Reports Show Violations – But No One Enforces Rules
Dallas News – Corbett Smith | Published: 2/26/2019

Despite a limit on how much individuals and groups can donate to mayoral and council candidates, oversight by Dallas officials is essentially nonexistent. The Dallas News reviewed the past four years of campaign finance filings, finding more than 30 questionable donations reported by 10 of the 14 city council members. A dozen more issues showed up on reports of former council members and losing candidates, but no one is in charge of combing over the forms, raising questions or scrutinizing irregularities. And no one is filing official complaints that would prompt an investigation, city officials said. Even if someone filed a complaint about campaign finance violations, there’s disagreement whether the city’s own ethics panel can even investigate the matter.

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February 25, 2019 •

NYCU Video Digest – February 25, 2019

New Gift Laws, Campaign Finance, Elections and Ethics; four stories from around the country you don’t want to miss!  

New Gift Laws, Campaign Finance, Elections and Ethics; four stories from around the country you don’t want to miss!

 

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