October 27, 2020 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance Arizona: “Dead Contributor Among Questions Raised Over Phoenix Mayor Candidate’s Campaign Filings” by Jen Fifield, Farah Eltohamy, and Jose-Ignacio Castaneda Perez for Arizona Republic Ohio: “Attorney General Challenges Legality of Householder Using $1M Campaign Cash for Legal Fees” […]
Arizona: “Dead Contributor Among Questions Raised Over Phoenix Mayor Candidate’s Campaign Filings” by Jen Fifield, Farah Eltohamy, and Jose-Ignacio Castaneda Perez for Arizona Republic
Ohio: “Attorney General Challenges Legality of Householder Using $1M Campaign Cash for Legal Fees” by Marc Kovac (Columbus Dispatch) for MSN
Oregon: “Judge Rules City Must Open Investigation into Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s $150,000 Loan to His Campaign” by Rebecca Ellis for OPB
National: “Facebook Tries to Block Tool Aimed at Promoting Transparency Around Political Ads” by Mark Scott for Politico
California: “Gig Companies Open the Door to Campaigning by App” by Katy Murphy for Politico
Illinois: “Inspector General Should Probe Cook County Commissioner, Chief of Staff Amid Pot Firm Revelations, Ethics Experts Say” by Tom Schuba for Chicago Sun-Times
National: “How Trump Abandoned His Pledge to ‘Drain the Swamp’” by Josh Dawsey, Rosalind Helderman, and David Fahrenthold (Washington Post) for Anchorage Daily News
National: “Lobbying Firm Cuts Ties with Turkey Under Pressure” by Theodoric Meyer for Politico
Wyoming: “Wyoming Gun Rights Group Fights Ruling to Disclose Donors” by Staff for Associated Press News
October 26, 2020 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance California: “SLO County Board Wants to Cap Campaign Conations at $25,000 – More Than 5 Times State Limit” by Lindsay Holden for San Luis Obispo Tribune Elections National: “Politicization of State Supreme Courts Looms Over Possibility of Contested […]
California: “SLO County Board Wants to Cap Campaign Conations at $25,000 – More Than 5 Times State Limit” by Lindsay Holden for San Luis Obispo Tribune
National: “Politicization of State Supreme Courts Looms Over Possibility of Contested Vote” by Olivia Rubin and Lucian Bruggeman for ABC News
National: “International Election Observers in the U.S. Consider This Year the Most Challenging Ever” by Carol Morello for Washington Post
Alabama: “Supreme Court Restores Ban on Curbside Voting in Alabama” by Josh Gerstein for Politico
Pennsylvania: “Ballots Can’t Be Tossed Out Over Voter Signature, Court Says” by Marc Levy for Associated Press News
Connecticut: “FBI Probes New Haven City Contract; Harp Wiretapped, Says Fraudster Tried to Set Her Up” by Paul Bass (News Haven Independent) for Connecticut Mirror
National: “COVID-19 Legislation, Postelection Prep Keep K Street Busy” by Kate Ackley for Roll Call
Illinois: “Flossmoor Trustee Resigns So He Can Keep Lobbying Chicago City Hall” by Heather Cherone for WTTW
Oregon: “Kate Brown Struck Secret Deal with Oregon Homebuilders Over Wildfire Codes, Lobbyists Say on Tape” by Chris May for Street Roots
October 23, 2020 • Written by Jim Sedor
National/Federal Back from the Supreme Court, House Pushes DC Circuit for Trump Financials Courthouse News Service – Megan Mineiro | Published: 10/20/2020 A three-judge panel on the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals indicated there is little need for a […]
Back from the Supreme Court, House Pushes DC Circuit for Trump Financials
Courthouse News Service – Megan Mineiro | Published: 10/20/2020
A three-judge panel on the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals indicated there is little need for a swift ruling in the legal battle over access to President Trump’s financial records The panel previously upheld the subpoena brought by the House but considered the case for the second time after the U.S. Supreme Court instructed it to reevaluate the House’s subpoena power. Democrats had hoped to have Trump’s past financial statements for campaign leverage. For Judge David Tatel, however, the more prudent move would be to wait until after the next Congress convenes on January 3. The case is one of several ongoing legal battles over the president’s refusal to comply with congressional oversight.
Ex-Interior Official Violated Trump Ethics Pledge by Meeting with Former Associates: Watchdog
The Hill – Rebecca Bietsch | Published: 10/21/2020
A former top Interior Department political appointee violated his ethics pledge by taking a meeting with an organization he previously volunteered for, according to a report from the department’s watchdog. Sources said the employee in question is Todd Wynn, the former head of the department’s Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs. Wynn, now a lobbyist for a major Arizona utility, took a meeting with Rich Lindsey, an energy committee policy consultant from the Council of State Governments. Wynn previously was on the board of trustees for the Council of State Governments 21st Century Foundation.
Former Top Trump Fundraiser Elliott Broidy Pleads Guilty to Foreign Lobbying Charge
Miami Herald – Ben Wieder | Published: 10/20/2020
Elliott Broidy, a top fundraiser for Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and, at the time, the Republican National Committee, pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiring to serve as an unregistered foreign agent. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine and has agreed to forfeit $6.6 million he was paid for his work. The charge is related to his efforts to arrange meetings with top American officials to help quash a U.S. investigation into the 1MDB Malaysian embezzlement scheme and to push for the deportation of Chinese dissident Guo Wengui. Broidy agreed he acted as a foreign agent in his efforts.
Full Federal Appeals Court in D.C. to Weigh House Subpoena to Ex-White House Counsel Donald McGahn
Washington Post – Spencer Hsu | Published: 10/15/2020
The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit revived the House of Representatives’ attempt to enforce a subpoena to former White House counsel Don McGahn but cautioned the case could go unresolved once this Congress’s term ends in January. The appeals court said it will revisit a three-judge panel decision to dismiss the House lawsuit, which came after the White House claimed key presidential aides are “absolutely immune” from compelled testimony to Congress. The panel found Congress has not passed a law expressly authorizing it to sue to enforce its subpoenas.
How Trump Plowed Through $1 Billion, Losing Cash Advantage
Associated Press News – Brian Slodysko and Zeke Miller | Published: 10/20/2020
Some campaign aides for President Trump privately acknowledge they are facing difficult spending decisions at a time when Joe Biden has flooded the airwaves with advertising, even though Trump’s political operation has raised well over $1 billion since he took the White House in 2017. That has put Trump in the position of needing to do more of his signature rallies as a substitute during the coronavirus pandemic while relying on an unproven theory that he can turn out supporters who are infrequent voters at historic levels. “You could literally have 10 monkeys with flamethrowers go after the money, and they wouldn’t have burned through it as stupidly,” said Republican consultant Mike Murphy.
Lobbyists Face Challenges Meeting Newly Elected Lawmakers in November
The Hill – Alex Gangitano | Published: 10/15/2020
Lobbyists are preparing for the difficulty of virtually getting to know newly elected members of Congress when they come to Washington, D.C. for orientation in November. A victory by Joe Biden would make that task even harder given the influx of new aides and administration officials. In all, lobbyists could find themselves navigating the challenges of trying to meet new leadership, committee, agency, and administration staffers in a pandemic without in-person meetings or the fundraisers that typically populate K Street’s calendar shortly after a general election.
On the Job and On the Stump, Cabinet Officials Flout Hatch Act
Bloomberg Law – Stephen Lee, Megan Boyanton, Andrew Kreigbaum, Shaun Courtney, and Alex Ruoff | Published: 10/14/2020
Under President Trump, allegations of violations of the Hatch Act, which clamps down on political activities of government employees while they are on the job, have come at a rate not seen in previous administrations, but there have been few consequences. Two agencies have a role in enforcing Hatch Act violations: the Justice Department, which handles criminal cases, and the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), which takes on civil violations. But while the OSC sometimes makes Hatch Act findings, the Justice Department rarely does, said David Gergen, a professor of public service at the Harvard Kennedy School.
Supreme Court Tees Up Census Case Over Whether Trump Can Exclude Undocumented Immigrants
Politico – Steven Shepard | Published: 10/16/2020
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments over whether President Trump can exclude undocumented immigrants from the census count used to apportion congressional districts to the 50 states. The court’s announcement teed up oral arguments in the case for November 30, an accelerated timeline that paves the way for a potential decision before the Census Bureau is set to deliver the population counts to Trump’s desk at the end of the year. In July, Trump issued a memorandum in July, asking the Census Bureau to subtract undocumented immigrants from the count for the purposes of congressional apportionment, the reallocation of the nation’s 435 House districts every 10 years.
The Big Role That Big Donors Still Play, Quietly, for Joe Biden
New York Times – Shane Goldmacher | Published: 10/20/2020
While Joe Biden’s campaign has trumpeted the small donations flooding in at record rates, the elite world of billionaires and multimillionaires has remained a critical cog in the Biden money machine. As the size of checks has grown, the campaign has become less transparent, declining so far to disclose the names of its most influential bundlers. From Hollywood to Silicon Valley to Wall Street, Biden’s campaign has aggressively courted the megadonor class. It has raised almost $200 million from donors who gave at least $100,000 to his joint operations with the Democratic Party in the last six months, about twice as much as President Trump raised from six-figure donors in that time.
Trump Records Shed New Light on Chinese Business Pursuits
New York Times – Mike McIntire, Russ Buettner, and Susanne Craig | Published: 10/20/2020
President Trump and his allies have tried to paint Joe Biden as soft on China, in part by pointing to his son’s business dealings there. But Trump’s own business history is filled with overseas financial deals, and some have involved the Chinese state. It turns out China is one of only three foreign nations where Trump maintains a bank account. The foreign accounts do not show up on Trump’s public financial disclosures, where he must list personal assets, because they are held under corporate names. The Chinese account is controlled by Trump International Hotels Management LLC, which records show paid $188,561 in taxes in China while pursuing licensing deals there from 2013 to 2015.
Twitter Changes Policy That Blocked a New York Post Story About Biden’s Son
Washington Post – Elizabeth Dwoskin | Published: 10/15/2020
Twitter changed a rule about hacked materials that resulted in blocking a controversial New York Post story about the alleged emails of Joe Biden’s son. The link to the New York Post story will still be blocked under a policy that prohibits sharing people’s personal information. Twitter executive Vijaya Gadde tweeted that the company made the decision after receiving “feedback” that the policy on hacked materials as written could result in undue censorship of journalists and whistleblowers. Going forward, Twitter will remove content only if it is directly posted by hackers or those acting in concert with them. It will label more questionable tweets.
U.S. Government Concludes Iran Was Behind Threatening Emails Sent to Democrats
MSN – Ellen Nakashima, Amy Gardner, Isaac Stanley-Becker, and Craig Timberg (Washington Post) | Published: 10/22/2020
U.S. officials accused Iran of targeting American voters with faked but menacing emails and warned both Iran and Russia had obtained voter data that could be used to endanger the upcoming election. The disclosure by Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe at a hastily called news conference marked the first time this election cycle that a foreign adversary has been accused of targeting specific voters in a bid to undermine democratic confidence. The claim that Iran was behind the email operation, which came into view as Democrats in several states reported receiving emails demanding they vote for President Trump, was leveled without specific evidence. Other U.S. officials, speaking privately, stressed that Russia still remained the major threat to the 2020 election.
White House Was Warned Giuliani Was Target of Russian Intelligence Operation to Feed Misinformation to Trump
MSN – Shane Harris, Ellen Nakashima, Greg Miller, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 10/15/2020
The intelligence agencies warned the White House last year that Russian intelligence officers were using President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph Giuliani as a conduit for disinformation aimed at undermining Joe Biden’s presidential run. Trump and Giuliani have promoted unsubstantiated claims about Biden that have aligned with Russian disinformation efforts, and Giuliani has met with a Ukrainian lawmaker whom American officials believe is a Russian agent. When national security adviser Robert O’Brien cautioned Trump in a private conversation, Trump dismissed concern about Giuliani’s activities by saying, “That’s Rudy.”
Canada – Campaign Donation Limits in B.C. Have Levelled Playing Field, CBC Analysis Finds
CBC – Tara Carman | Published: 10/21/2020
A ban on union and corporate donations to British Columbia political parties and a cap on the amount individuals can give has hurt the provincial Liberals the most, a CBC News analysis found. The ban was introduced by the New Democratic Party (NDP) government in November 2017. Even though British Columbia’s two largest parties both used to accept tens of thousands of dollars from deep-pocketed donors – unions in the case of the NDP and businesses in the case of the Liberals, for the most part – the Liberals were more dependent on those contributions. Donations of $250 or less collectively form the biggest piece of the donation pie for all three parties. This was also true before the rule change, but the limits have made those types of contributions more important.
Canada – Lobbyists Must Now Report Their Activities
Whitehorse Daily Star – Gabrielle Plonka | Published: 10/21/2020
Lobbyists are now required to report their activities in the Yukon Territory with the implementation of the Lobbyist Registration Act. Lobbyists are responsible for registering and entering their information online. A 90-day grace period from October 15 is in effect, to allow for lobbyists to learn and adhere to the new reporting requirements. All lobbyists must register by January 13, 2021. David Jones, the Yukon’s conflict of interest commissioner, is responsible for maintaining and overseeing the Lobbyist Registry.
Canada – Supreme Court Declines to Hear Appeal in Aga Khan Lobbying Case
CTV – Jim Bronskill (Canadian Press) | Published: 10/15/2020
A new court ruling means the federal lobbying commissioner will not be taking a fresh look at whether the Aga Khan broke rules by giving Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a vacation in the Bahamas. The Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear an appeal in the matter from Democracy Watch. In September 2017, then-Commissioner Karen Shepherd said there was no basis to a complaint that the Aga Khan, a billionaire philanthropist and religious leader, had violated the code for lobbyists by allowing Trudeau and his family to stay on his private island in the Caribbean the previous Christmas.
From the States and Municipalities
California – City Clerk Sent People’s Credit Card Numbers to Jailed Husband
Patch – City News Service | Published: 10/21/2020
The Los Angeles Ethics Commission imposed a fine of $7,500 against Lorena Saucillo, a former city clerk who sent people’s credit card information to her incarcerated husband. On two occasions, Saucillo recorded credit card information provided by landlords who were paying city fees. Using her city email address, Lorena sent the credit card information to a personal email account accessible to her husband, whom she knew was intending to use the information for fraudulent purposes, the commission said.
California – Community Newspaper Backed by Former Irvine Mayor and Current Council Candidate Draws Criticism
Los Angeles Times – Ben Brazil | Published: 10/20/2020
An Irvine community newspaper backed by a former mayor and City Council candidate is drawing criticism from academics and council members who consider it misleading to residents. Some have called Irvine Community News & Views biased in favor of Larry Agran, the longstanding local politician who helped get the newspaper started. Agran said in an interview that the newspaper, which claims a circulation of 66,500, is legitimate and just like any other. Agran credited publisher and friend Frank Lunding with starting and running the paper. “I have written for it. I am proud of it. I help Frank wherever I can. I help recruit writers for him,” Agran said.
California – Loops, Slants and Crossed ‘T’s’: How election workers verify voter signatures
San Diego Union Tribune – John Wilkens | Published: 10/18/2020
Election workers eyeballing the signatures of San Diego County voters are at the heart of a screening process that happens before mail ballots for the November 3 election are counted. Workers compare scanned images of voters’ return-envelope signatures with samples already on file at the county Registrar of Voters. It is how they verify the person returning a ballot is the person it was sent to, a safeguard against fraud. Exact matches are not required. Instead, the workers are checking similarities in characteristics such as the slant of the letters, the spacing between the first and last names, and how the “I’s” are dotted and the “t’s” crossed.
California – Main Witness in Santa Clara County Concealed-Gun Bribery Case Pleads Guilty
San Jose Mercury News – Robert Salonga | Published: 10/19/2020
Former AS Solution security manager Martin Nielsen, the primary witness who implicated a sheriff’s captain and three others in an alleged bribery scheme to trade political donations supporting Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith for concealed-carry weapons permits, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges for his role in the ploy. According to the indictment, Nielsen and two others conspired with the four main defendants to obtain up to a dozen concealed-carry weapons permits from the sheriff’s office in exchange for $90,000 in donations to groups that supported Smith.
Colorado – Facing a Deluge of Misinformation, Colorado Takes the Offensive Against It
New York Times – Nick Corasaniti and Davey Alba | Published: 10/20/2020
In 2019, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold saw a tweet falsely claiming her state’s election system had been hacked. The flare-up was another reminder of how pervasive election misinformation had become since the 2016 presidential election. To prevent deceptive tweets, doctored videos, and other forms of misinformation from undermining Colorado’s elections, Griswold is starting a new initiative that will run ads on social media and expand digital outreach to help voters identify foreign misinformation. Griswold and other secretaries of state are bracing for a deluge of misinformation about voting as Election Day draws closer, forced to defend a decentralized election system that has shown a particular weakness to the impact of rumors and outright lies.
Florida – Appeals Court Rejects NRA Lobbyist’s Case Over Graphic Parkland Massacre Emails
South Florida Sun Sentinel – Jim Saunders (News Service of Florida) | Published: 10/21/2020
A full federal appeals court rejected a request by National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer to take up a case about graphic emails she received after the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Hammer asked for the full 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to hear her case against attorney Lawrence Sorensen, who emailed photos to Hammer that included photos of gunshot wounds. The request came after U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle and a three-judge panel of the appeals court ruled against Hammer, who alleged Sorensen violated state laws about issues such as cyberstalking, harassment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Florida – In Last-Minute Push, DeSantis Administration Urges Florida Election Officials to Remove Felons Who Owe Fines from Voting Rolls
Washington Post – Beth Reinhard and Lori Rozsa | Published: 10/20/2020
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s administration delivered last-minute guidance to local election officials recommending measures that voting-rights advocates say could intimidate or confuse voters, the latest salvo in a pitched battle over who is able to cast ballots in a state crucial to President Trump’s reelection. In a notice sent to local election officials, Division of Elections Director Maria Matthews urged them to remove from the voter rolls people with felony convictions who still owe court fines and fees, a move that local officials said is impossible to accomplish before Election Day. A second memo from Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee’s general counsel recommended that election staff or law enforcement guard all mail ballot drop boxes, a step that local election officials say is not required under the law.
Florida – Orlando Airport Leaders Will Review Their Lobbying Rules Following Sentinel Report
Orlando Sentinel – Jason Garcia | Published: 10/21/2020
The agency that runs Orlando International Airport will reexamine its lobbying rules after The Orlando Sentinel reported that a prominent lobbyist broke those rules over the summer but did not face any consequences. Christina Daly Brodeur, a lobbyist at Ballard Partners, called four board members in July on behalf of a client. The rules require lobbyists to report their contacts with board members within one week. Brodeur did not disclose her calls until nearly three months later.
Illinois – Chicago Mayor Exchanged Emails with Lobbyist as City Ethics Board Declined to Enforce Lobbying Ban
MSN – John Byrne and Gregory Pratt (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 10/20/2020
Mayor Lori Lightfoot exchanged emails with lobbyist and Flossmoor Trustee Gyata Kimmons months after a law took effect banning elected public officials from lobbying Chicago City Hall. Kimmons emailed Lightfoot on behalf of a real estate company with tenants at O’Hare International Airport. The back-and-forth occurred after Lightfoot introduced a proposal that would have rolled back part of the ordinance that prohibited elected officials such as Kimmons from lobbying city officials while keeping his elected post. Alderman rejected Lightfoot’s plan but while it was pending, Kimmons continued to lobby the city. During that time, the Chicago Board of Ethics declined to enforce the restrictions against lobbying by elected officials on the grounds that if Lightfoot’s proposal passed, it would nullify them.
Illinois – Cook County Commissioner Is Part Owner of and Worked for a Cannabis License Applicant, Which Critics Say She Should Have Disclosed Sooner
Chicago Tribune – Robert McCoppin | Published: 10/15/2020
Cook County Commissioner Bridget Degnen, who is a former Illinois cannabis regulator, said she is part owner of a company that is applying for cannabis licenses and she was paid to write the applications. The state’s “revolving door” law, meant to keep state workers from immediately switching from regulating an industry to participating in it, prohibits any regulatory worker from accepting compensation from any entity which that person “substantially” regulated, within one year of their state employment. Effective next year, the law will prohibit any state workers who participated substantially in awarding cannabis licenses from holding ownership in any cannabis license for two years after they leave their state jobs. Degnen said she was out of her state job for two years before she joined AmeriCanna Dream late last year.
Illinois – Illinois Dems Slam GOP Candidate for Taking Donations from Red-Light Camera Biz – but Madigan’s Ties to Industry Run Deep
Chicago Sun-Times – Robert Herguth | Published: 10/18/2020
The Illinois Democratic Party has been deluging potential voters in the general election with campaign mailers taking aim at Republican state Rep. Bradley Stephens for taking donations from one of the new bogeymen of Illinois politics: the red-light camera industry. But records also reveal House Speaker Michael Madigan, who runs the state Democratic Party and has been bankrolling the campaign of Stephens’ opponent, has accepted generous campaign checks from red-light camera companies and people affiliated with them for many years. Madigan’s campaign funds have also accepted donations from officials tied to SafeSpeed, which has been swept up in an ongoing federal corruption investigation.
Kansas – Wichita Man Arrested for Allegedly Threatening to Kidnap and Kill Mayor Over City’s Mask Mandate, Police Say
Washington Post – Timothy Bella | Published: 10/19/2020
When Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple was told about the series of text messages sent to another city official, the mayor said he noticed the man, frustrated by the city’s mask mandate to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, had spelled out a graphic, specific threat to kidnap and kill him. The Wichita Police Department confirmed that Meredith Dowty was arrested on a charge of criminal threat for allegedly sending the frightening texts directed at Whipple. The arrest in Kansas’s largest city follows a disturbing trend of alleged abduction plots involving elected officials nationwide.
Kentucky – Ethics Problems in Kentucky County Government? Many Have No Ethics Boards to Look.
MSN – Bill Estep (Lexington Herald-Leader) | Published: 10/14/2020
Dozens of Kentucky counties are failing to fully follow a law requiring financial disclosure by officials and having local boards to handle ethics issues, according to state Auditor Mike Harmon’s office. Harmon said his office surveyed counties on the issue because it has referred findings about potential problems to county ethics boards, only to find there was no active board. In addition to violating the law, the widespread county shortcomings could undermine confidence in government, Harmon said.
Maryland – Maryland Lawmakers Issue Subpoena to Hogan’s Former Chief of Staff Over Six-Figure Payout
Baltimore Sun – Pamela Wood | Published: 10/15/2020
State lawmakers issued subpoenas for Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s former chief of staff, Roy McGrath, and Matthew Sherring, who worked for McGrath at the Maryland Environmental Service (MES), to appear before a committee investigating McGrath’s six-figure payout from his prior job at a state agency. McGrath left his position as Hogan’s top aide four days after The Baltimore Sun reported he negotiated a payout worth more than $238,000 when he left the MES. It was also reported The Sun subsequently reported that McGrath and other executives earned tens of thousands of dollars in annual bonuses, and he was paid more than $55,000 in expense reimbursements for travel, meetings, and meals after he left the agency.
Michigan – Michigan Appeals Court Reinstates Election Day Mail-In Ballot Deadline as Early Voting Surge Continues
Washington Post – Elise Viebeck, John Glionna, and Douglas Moser | Published: 10/17/2020
A state appeals court in Michigan moved up the deadline for voters to return mail-in ballots, reimposing a cutoff favored by Republicans during a continuing surge in early and mail-in voting around the country. A panel from the Michigan Court of Appeals reversed a lower court’s ruling that said ballots could be counted if they were postmarked before Election Day and received within 14 days. The extension would have made Michigan’s deadline one of the most generous in the country. Voters in the state now must return their mail-in ballots by eight p.m. on November 3.
Montana – Montana’s Political Cop Finds Cooney Violated Campaign Finance Rules
Bozeman Daily Chronicle – Perrin Stein | Published: 10/19/2020
Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Jeff Mangan found Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney, who is running for governor against U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, failed to properly report in-kind contributions from the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) and also accepted donations beyond the state limit from the group. The Cooney campaign and the DGA worked on a statewide advertising campaign criticizing Gianforte for his alleged support of a sales tax. Mangan said the Cooney campaign failed to disclose the costs associated with a website that was a component of the advertising campaign as an in-kind contribution from the DGA.
New Mexico – NM Investment Scandal Winds Down
Albuquerque Journal – Mike Gallagher | Published: 10/17/2020
The New Mexico Supreme Court effectively closed the books on state investment scandals involving “pay-to-play” schemes beginning in 2004 that cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in investments that went south. The court upheld earlier rulings that rejected a challenge to a $24.5 million settlement reached between lawyers for the Educational Retirement Board (ERB) and State Investment Council with Vanderbilt Capital Advisors. The state lost more than $100 million on its Vanderbilt investments, and the settlement had been challenged as inadequate by Frank Foy, former chief investment officer at the ERB.
North Carolina – Federal Appeals Court Won’t Lift North Carolina Ballot-Receipt Extension
Politico – Josh Gerstein | Published: 10/21/2020
A divided federal appeals court denied an attempt by Republicans to block an agreement by North Carolina officials allowing absentee ballots in the November election to be counted if they are postmarked by Election Day and received up to nine days later. North Caolina typically counts absentee ballots that arrive up to three days after the election, but the State Board of Elections agreed to extend that window to nine days due to the increased ballot requests related to the coronavirus pandemic, as well concerns about mail delays due to recent Postal Service changes.
Ohio – Ex-House Speaker Runs for Reelection Despite Federal Charges
Associated Press News – Farnoush Amiri | Published: 10/17/2020
Ohio Rep. Larry Householder is likely to win reelection this year despite being indicted on racketeering charges in the alleged bribery scheme to pass a bailout of two nuclear power plants. House members considered removing Householder from the chamber immediately but, if they did so before November 3, voters would be able to reelect him and a lawmaker cannot be expelled twice. The only option now for both parties is to wait until the legislative session begins in January to consider expelling or impeaching him. If reelected, Householder would be automatically removed from office if he is convicted as state law prohibits anyone convicted of a felony or bribery charges from holding public office.
Ohio – Indicted Lobbyist Caims Jay Edwards Is ‘Representative 8’ in HB6 Affidavit, Report Says
Athens News – Ben Peters | Published: 10/16/2020
Neil Clark, a longtime Columbus lobbyist who was indicted in a corruption probe, said Ohio Rep. Jay Edwards is “Representative 8” in the federal affidavit connected to the House Bill 6 scandal. Clark said he, Edwards, then-House Speaker Larry Householder, an aide, and two clients – who Clark reportedly believed to be working undercover with the FBI – met in September 2019 at the Aubergine Club, where they discussed the importance of defeating the ballot initiative campaign that aimed to repeal House Bill 6. Edwards, who served as majority whip, said he does not recall attending the meeting, but he never explicitly denied it occurred.
Oregon – Oregon Public Employee Unions, Interest Groups Launch Neutral-Looking Election Website to Sway Voters
Portland Oregonian – Hillary Borrud | Published: 10/15/2020
Oregon voters who go online to search for information about the election are likely to find a website called the “2020 Oregon voter guide” at the top of their search results. Thanks to paid search engine ads, that website shows up before the state’s official voters’ guide. It looks neutral and informational, but it endorses only Democrats and urges a “yes” vote on all four statewide ballot measures. Campaign finance data shows at least one candidate and some state and local ballot measures endorsed by the guide are paying the PAC that produced it. That information is not listed on the website, nor on political mailers.
Pennsylvania – Supreme Court Allows Pennsylvania to Count Ballots Received Up to 3 Days After Election Day
USA Today – Richard Wolf | Published: 10/19/2020
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled absentee ballots in Pennsylvania can be received up to three days beyond Election Day, setting a precedent that could apply to some other states as well. The justices’ order establishes the ground rules for mail-in voting in one of the nation’s key battleground states. The ruling could have an impact in other states where the deadline for mail-in ballots has been the subject of court battles. Those include Michigan, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Georgia, Indiana, and Montana.
Rhode Island – What’s in a Semicolon? Punctuation Is Key as Lawyers Offer Last Arguments in Political Operative Jeffrey Britt’s Case
MSN – Kate Mulvaney (Providence Journal) | Published: 10/19/2020
Final written arguments were submitted in the trial of Jeremy Britt, a campaign operative for Rhode Island House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello. The arguments did not focus solely on Britt’s guilt or innocence on the most serious charge he faces – allegedly funneling money through a once-rival Republican’s campaign to hide his own role in arranging and financing a mailer endorsing Mattiello. At the judge’s request, they also addressed the significance of the punctuation in the state’s money-laundering law. More specifically, whether placement of commas and semicolons should determine Britt’s fate.
Wyoming – Secretary of State Will Require Gun Rights Group to Disclose Donors
Casper Star Tribune – Nick Reynolds | Published: 10/20/2020
The Wyoming Secretary of State’s Office ordered a pro-gun lobbying organization to reveal its donors after a summer in which the group flooded Wyoming with dozens of ads disparaging a number of sitting lawmakers in competitive races. The office said Wyoming Gun Owners failed to comply with state campaign finance law by not reporting the electioneering communications. The gun owners group now has until November 4 to release the names of its donors or face a $500 fine. If the group refuses to comply, the case will then go to the state attorney general.
October 22, 2020 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance Canada: “Campaign Donation Limits in B.C. Have Levelled Playing Field, CBC Analysis Finds” by Tara Carman for CBC Elections National: “Threatening Emails Reportedly Sent to Democratic Voters in Three Swing States, Sparking Investigations” by Craig Timberg and Isaac […]
Canada: “Campaign Donation Limits in B.C. Have Levelled Playing Field, CBC Analysis Finds” by Tara Carman for CBC
National: “Threatening Emails Reportedly Sent to Democratic Voters in Three Swing States, Sparking Investigations” by Craig Timberg and Isaac Stanley-Becker (Washington Post) for Seattle Times
North Carolina: “Federal Appeals Court Won’t Lift North Carolina Ballot-Receipt Extension” by Josh Gerstein for Politico
National: “Trump Records Shed New Light on Chinese Business Pursuits” by Mike McIntire, Russ Buettner, and Susanne Craig for New York Times
California: “Community Newspaper Backed by Former Irvine Mayor and Current Council Candidate Draws Criticism” by Ben Brazil for Los Angeles Times
California: “City Clerk Sent People’s Credit Card Numbers to Jailed Husband” by City News Service for Patch
National: “Former Top Trump Fundraiser Elliott Broidy Pleads Guilty to Foreign Lobbying Charge” by Ben Wieder for Miami Herald
Illinois: “Chicago Mayor Exchanged Emails with Lobbyist as City Ethics Board Declined to Enforce Lobbying Ban” by John Byrne and Gregory Pratt (Chicago Tribune) for MSN
Wyoming: “Secretary of State Will Require Gun Rights Group to Disclose Donors” by Nick Reynolds for Casper Star Tribune
October 21, 2020 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance National: “How Trump Plowed Through $1 Billion, Losing Cash Advantage” by Brian Slodysko and Zeke Miller for Associated Press News National: “The Big Role That Big Donors Still Play, Quietly, for Joe Biden” by Shane Goldmacher for New […]
National: “How Trump Plowed Through $1 Billion, Losing Cash Advantage” by Brian Slodysko and Zeke Miller for Associated Press News
National: “The Big Role That Big Donors Still Play, Quietly, for Joe Biden” by Shane Goldmacher for New York Times
Montana: “Montana’s Political Cop Finds Cooney Violated Campaign Finance Rules” by Perrin Stein for Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Rhode Island: “What’s in a Semicolon? Punctuation Is Key as Lawyers Offer Last Arguments in Political Operative Jeffrey Britt’s Case” by Kate Mulvaney for Providence Journal
Colorado: “Facing a Deluge of Misinformation, Colorado Takes the Offensive Against It” by Nick Corasaniti and Davey Alba for New York Times
Ohio: “Ex-House Speaker Runs for Reelection Despite Federal Charges” by Farnoush Amiri for Associated Press News
Pennsylvania: “Supreme Court Allows Pennsylvania to Count Ballots Received Up to 3 Days After Election Day” by Richard Wolf for USA Today
National: “Back from the Supreme Court, House Pushes DC Circuit for Trump Financials” by Megan Mineiro for Courthouse News Service
California: “Main Witness in Santa Clara County Concealed-Gun Bribery Case Pleads Guilty” by Robert Salonga for San Jose Mercury News
October 20, 2020 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance Illinois: “Illinois Dems Slam GOP Candidate for Taking Donations from Red-Light Camera Biz – but Madigan’s Ties to Industry Run Deep” by Robert Herguth for Chicago Sun-Times Elections California: “Loops, Slants and Crossed ‘T’s’: How election workers verify […]
Illinois: “Illinois Dems Slam GOP Candidate for Taking Donations from Red-Light Camera Biz – but Madigan’s Ties to Industry Run Deep” by Robert Herguth for Chicago Sun-Times
California: “Loops, Slants and Crossed ‘T’s’: How election workers verify voter signatures” by John Wilkens for San Diego Union Tribune
Michigan: “Michigan Appeals Court Reinstates Election Day Mail-In Ballot Deadline as Early Voting Surge Continues” by Elise Viebeck, John Glionna, and Douglas Moser for Washington Post
National: “Full Federal Appeals Court in D.C. to Weigh House Subpoena to Ex-White House Counsel Donald McGahn” by Spencer Hsu for Washington Post
National: “Supreme Court Tees Up Census Case Over Whether Trump Can Exclude Undocumented Immigrants” by Steven Shepard for Politico
National: “On the Job and On the Stump, Cabinet Officials Flout Hatch Act” by Stephen Lee, Megan Boyanton, Andrew Kreigbaum, Shaun Courtney, and Alex Ruoff for Bloomberg Law
Kansas: “Wichita Man Arrested for Allegedly Threatening to Kidnap and Kill Mayor Over City’s Mask Mandate, Police Say” by Timothy Bella for Washington Post
New Mexico: “NM Investment Scandal Winds Down” by Mike Gallagher for Albuquerque Journal
Ohio: “Indicted Lobbyist Caims Jay Edwards Is ‘Representative 8’ in HB6 Affidavit, Report Says” by Ben Peters for Athens News
October 19, 2020 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance Oregon: “Oregon Public Employee Unions, Interest Groups Launch Neutral-Looking Election Website to Sway Voters” by Hillary Borrud for Portland Oregonian Elections Florida: “Florida Acts to Remove Felons from Voter Rolls as Election Looms” by Gary Fineout for Politico […]
Oregon: “Oregon Public Employee Unions, Interest Groups Launch Neutral-Looking Election Website to Sway Voters” by Hillary Borrud for Portland Oregonian
Florida: “Florida Acts to Remove Felons from Voter Rolls as Election Looms” by Gary Fineout for Politico
National: “Twitter Changes Policy That Blocked a New York Post Story About Biden’s Son” by Elizabeth Dwoskin for Washington Post
National: “White House Was Warned Giuliani Was Target of Russian Intelligence Operation to Feed Misinformation to Trump” by Shane Harris, Ellen Nakashima, Greg Miller, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) for MSN
Illinois: “Cook County Commissioner Is Part Owner of and Worked for a Cannabis License Applicant, Which Critics Say She Should Have Disclosed Sooner” by Robert McCoppin for Chicago Tribune
Kentucky: “Ethics Problems in Kentucky County Government? Many Have No Ethics Boards to Look.” by Bill Estep (Lexington Herald-Leader) for MSN
Maryland: “Maryland Lawmakers Issue Subpoena to Hogan’s Former Chief of Staff Over Six-Figure Payout” by Pamela Wood for Baltimore Sun
National: “Lobbyists Face Challenges Meeting Newly Elected Lawmakers in November” by Alex Gangitano for The Hill
Canada: “Supreme Court Declines to Hear Appeal in Aga Khan Lobbying Case” by Jim Bronskill (Canadian Press) for CTV
October 16, 2020 • Written by Jim Sedor
National/Federal As U.S. Politics Heats Up, Companies Seek to Avoid Controversy Reuters – Jessica DiNapoli | Published: 10/13/2020 A record number of U.S. companies are either banning political spending or making sure they disclose it, as they seek to steer clear […]
As U.S. Politics Heats Up, Companies Seek to Avoid Controversy
Reuters – Jessica DiNapoli | Published: 10/13/2020
A record number of U.S. companies are either banning political spending or making sure they disclose it, as they seek to steer clear of controversy ahead of the November 3 election, a new study found. While many American corporations donate to candidates and campaigns, some do not disclose it. This can put them in the crosshairs of customers and suppliers who can accuse them of a lack of transparency. The Center for Political Accountability found 332 companies in the S&P 500 prohibited some kind of political spending, like funding political committees, or disclosed some or all of their election-related spending in 2020, up roughly nine percent from 2016.
As Virus Spread, Reports of Trump Administration’s Private Briefings Fueled Sell-Off
New York Times – Kate Kelly and Mark Mazzetti | Published: 10/14/2020
On the day President Trump declared the coronavirus was “very much under control,” senior members of the president’s economic team, privately addressing board members of the Hoover Institution, were less confident. Tomas Philipson, an economic adviser to the president, told the group he could not yet estimate the effects of the virus on the American economy. To some in the group, the implication was that an outbreak could prove worse than administration advisers were signaling in public. A hedge fund consultant’s assessment of the meeting spread through parts of the investment world and traders spotted the immediate significance: the president’s aides appeared to be giving wealthy party donors an early warning of a potentially impactful contagion at a time when Trump was publicly insisting the threat was nonexistent.
Court Tells FEC to Take Action on Complaint Against Dark Money Group Tied to Joni Ernst
The Gazete – James Lynch | Published: 10/14/2020
A U.S. District Court judge entered a default judgment against the FEC, ordering it to act on a complaint involving a so-called dark money group tied to U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst’s campaign. The complaint was brought by the Campaign Legal Center, which told the court the FEC had failed to take action on its complaint that Ernst’s campaign had illegally coordinated with Iowa Values, a political nonprofit backing the senator. Candidates and outside groups are prohibited from coordinating their political activities. The FEC generally has not enforced coordination rules, allowing for the proliferation of super PACs and nonprofit groups tied to party leaders and individual candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Facebook to Temporarily Halt Political Ads in U.S. After Polls Close Nov. 3, Broadening Earlier Restrictions
Washington Post – Elizabeth Dwoskin | Published: 10/7/2020
Facebook said it plans to temporarily suspend all political and issue-based advertising after polls close November 3, a move the company said was intended to limit confusion, misinformation, and abuse of its services in the days after the presidential election. Facebook also said it would remove calls for people to watch the polls when those posts use militaristic or intimidating language. Executives said the policy applies to anyone, including President Trump and other officials. Trump has made calls for people to engage in poll-watching, and Donald Trump Jr. appeared in an ad urging people to “defend your ballot” and join an “army” to protect the polls.
Fake Twitter Accounts Posing as Black Trump Supporters Appear, Reach Thousands, Then Vanish
Washington Post – Craig Timberg and Isaac Stanley-Becker | Published: 10/13/2020
An account featuring the image of a Black police officer, President Trump, and the words “VOTE REPUBLICAN” had a brief but spectacular run on Twitter. In six days after it became active, it tweeted just eight times but garnered 24,000 followers, with its most popular tweet being liked 75,000 times. Then, on days later, the account was suspended by Twitter for breaking its rules against platform manipulation. The reach of @CopJrCliff and other fake accounts from supposed Black Trump supporters highlights how an account can be effective at pushing misleading narratives in just a few days – faster than Twitter can take it down.
Longtime GOP Fundraiser Elliott Broidy Charged with Acting as a Foreign Agent, Is Likely to Plead Guilty
Seattle Times – Matt Zapotosky (Washington Post) | Published: 10/8/2020
Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy was charged in a criminal information with conspiring to act as a foreign agent as he lobbied the Trump administration on behalf of Malaysian and Chinese interests, an indication he is likely to soon plead guilty in the case to resolve the allegations against him. Prosecutors outlined how they believe he took millions of dollars in undisclosed money to end a U.S. investigation into Malaysian corruption and, separately, to return outspoken Chinese exile Guo Wengui to his home country. Prosecutors said Broidy and others orchestrated “back-channel, unregistered campaigns” to influence the administration, though their efforts were ultimately unsuccessful.
New Justice Dept. Election Fraud Guidance Could Allow Boosting of Trump’s Exaggerated Claims, Legal Observers Say
MSN – Matt Zapotosky (Washington Post) | Published: 10/7/2020
The Justice Department issued guidance giving federal prosecutors more leeway to take public action on suspected election fraud before ballots are in, a move some legal analysts worry could foreshadow an effort to bolster President Trump’s exaggerated claims of fraud via mail-in voting. The guidance detailed what it called an “exception to the general non-interference with elections policy,” which discourages prosecutors from taking overt steps in fraud investigations until all ballots are counted and certified. Critics say Trump and Attorney General William Barr seem to be working in concert to undermine public confidence in the election result, and the newly issued guidance could aid in that effort – allowing prosecutors to publicize cases of suspected fraud they previously would have been barred from discussing.
NYT: Vegas connections helped Trump engineer $21M windfall during 2016 race
The Hill – Naomi Jagoda | Published: 10/9/2020
Donald Trump’s tax records reveal he engineered a windfall of more than $21 million during his 2016 presidential run, The New York Times reported. A hotel Trump owns with casino mogul Phil Ruffin in Las Vegas made payments to several companies Trump controlled, and that money then flowed to the president himself. The hotel wrote off the payments as a business expense, The Times said. The newspaper reported that the payments came at a time when Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign needed funds and many of his businesses were losing money. The tax records do not indicate whether the payments helped Trump’s campaign, his businesses, or both, the newspaper said.
Sonny Perdue Faces Ethics Questions Over His Business Holdings
Politico – Ryan McCrimmon | Published: 10/15/2020
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue pledged in 2017 to separate himself from his multimillion-dollar business holdings that could pose conflicts-of-interest in his public duties. But last year, he disclosed he had become trustee of a newly formed fund that includes many of the same assets as his original family trust. Watchdog organizations are now calling for the Agriculture Department’s inspector general to investigate whether Perdue has run afoul of the ethics agreement he signed as a nominee for the job early in the Trump administration. The commitments entailed moving his holdings into a new trust and agreeing not to serve as a trustee or beneficiary of the fund.
Supreme Court Halts Census in Latest Twist of 2020 Count
Associated Press News – Mike Schneider | Published: 10/14/2020
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Trump administration can end census field operations early, in a blow to efforts to make sure minorities and hard-to-enumerate communities are properly counted in the crucial once-a-decade tally. Plaintiffs in a lawsuit managed to get nearly two extra weeks of counting people as the case made its way through the courts. But the ruling increased the chances of the administration retaining control of the process that decides how many congressional seats each state gets, and by extension how much voting power each state has.
Supreme Court Won’t Revive Congressional Emoluments Case Against Trump
Washington Post – Robert Barnes and Ann Marimow | Published: 10/13/2020
The U.S. Supreme Court refused to revive an attempt by Democratic members of Congress to sue President Trump over his private businesses accepting payments from foreign governments. Without comment, the justices let stand a decision by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to dismiss the lawsuit filed by 215 members of Congress. Their novel lawsuit sought to enforce the Constitution’s anti-corruption emoluments provision. A unanimous panel of the appeals court said the individual members did not have legal standing to take the president to court.
The Mystery of a GOP Congressman’s Seemingly Rent-Free Campaign Office
Politico – Daniel Newhauser | Published: 10/9/2020
For at least seven years, U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn appears to have enjoyed rent-free use of a campaign office supplied by a political donor, which would be a clear violation of federal election law that comes amid mounting scrutiny of his finances. In dozens of filings with the FEC, Hagedorn has listed a basement suite in a downtown Mankato, Minnesota, building as his campaign’s headquarters. But election spending records show Hagedorn has reported no payments for the use of that space over the course of the past four elections he has run to represent Minnesota’s First Congressional District, including his current race. Ethics experts expressed skepticism with Hagedorn’s actions.
Trump Taps U.S. Marine Band for White House Event and Raises Questions About Employing the Military for Political Purposes
Washington Post – Paul Sonne | Published: 10/11/2020
When President Trump, recovering from COVID-19, welcomed hundreds of people to what resembled a campaign rally on the White House grounds, the guests filed onto the South Lawn past a military band in resplendent red, its horns blasting the tune “America” from “West Side Story.” The use of the United States Marine Band for a de facto political rally marked another instance of the president pushing the boundaries of U.S. law and the military tradition of political neutrality. Federal regulations bar the use of government resources for, and the coercion of federal employees into, political activities aimed at a candidate’s reelection, and taxpayer-funded military bands cannot be used for campaign events.
Trump’s Children Brought Secret Service Money to the Family Business with Their Visits, Records Show
MSN – David Fahrenthold, Joshua Partlow, and Carol Leonnig (Washington Post) | Published: 10/12/2020
President Trump’s adult children and their families have caused the U.S. government to spend at least $238,000 at Trump properties so far, according to Secret Service records. Government ethics experts say nothing is wrong with Trump’s children seeking protection from the Secret Service. But, they said, the Trump Organization’s decision to charge for the agents’ rooms created a situation in which, just by traveling, Trump’s children could bring taxpayer money to their family’s business. That, ethics experts said, could create the appearance that Trump family members were exploiting their publicly funded protection for private financial gain.
‘Unmasking’ Probe Commissioned by Barr Concludes Without Charges or Any Public Report
MSN – Matt Zapotosky and Shane Harris (Washington Post) | Published: 10/13/2020
The federal prosecutor appointed by Attorney General William Barr to review whether Obama-era officials improperly requested the identities of individuals whose names were redacted in intelligence documents has completed his work without finding any substantive wrongdoing. The Justice Department has so far declined to release the results of U.S. Attorney John Bash’s work, though people familiar with his findings say they would likely disappoint conservatives who have tried to paint the “unmasking” of names, a common practice in government to help understand classified documents, as a political conspiracy.
With Election Day Looming, Twitter Imposes New Limits on U.S. Politicians – and Ordinary Users, Too
Seattle Times – Elizabeth Dwoskin and Craig Timberg (Washington Post) | Published: 10/9/2020
Twitter will impose new warnings on politicians’ lies, restrict premature declarations of victory, and block calls for polling violence or other disruptions, the company announced as it rolled out wide-ranging changes designed to harden the platform against abuse related to the U.S. election on November 3. The moves also will temporarily alter the look and feel of Twitter. Retweeting others, for example, will require an extra step designed to encourage users to add their own thoughts before posting. Recommendations and trends will get new curbs intended to prevent abuse. The policy changes are the culmination of years of revisions intended to prevent a repeat of 2016’s electoral debacle on social media, when disinformation, false news reports, and Russian interference rampaged virtually unchecked across all major platforms.
From the States and Municipalities
Alaska – Alaska Absentee Witness Requirements Scrapped for Election
Associated Press News – Becky Bohrer | Published: 10/13/2020
The Alaska Supreme Court affirmed a lower court ruling eliminating witness requirements for absentee ballots for the general election. Superior Court Judge Dani Crosby had ruled enforcement of the witness requirements during the coronavirus pandemic “impermissibly burdens the right to vote.” She waited to put the order into effect, to allow the Supreme Court to weigh in. The case was brought by the Arctic Village Council, League of Women Voters of Alaska, and two individuals. Their attorneys have argued the witness requirement is unconstitutional during the pandemic and a bar to voting for those who do not live with someone who is at least 18 and able to serve as a witness.
California – Arcadia Subsidiary of Chinese Company to Pay $1 Million Fine in LA City Hall Bribery Scandal
Los Angeles Daily Breeze – City News Service | Published: 10/7/2020
The subsidiary of a China-based real estate company agreed to pay $1.05 million to resolve a probe into its involvement in the Los Angeles City Hall corruption scandal. Jia Yuan USA Co. will pay the penalty and continue cooperating with the federal government in its probe of city Councilperson Jose Huizar and other figures. A Jia Yuan employee provided Huizar with Katy Perry concert tickets after he and former Deputy Mayor Ray Chan helped resolve an issue involving compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Jia Yuan also admitted providing in-kind campaign contributions to several U.S. political candidates by hosting reduced-cost fundraising events. Some of those events took place at the direction of a foreign national barred from participating in American elections, investigators said.
California – California Officials Say GOP’s Ballot Boxes Are Illegal. Republicans May Expand the Practice
Los Angeles Times – Stephanie Lai and Sarah Parvini | Published: 10/13/2020
In recent weeks, gray metal containers labeled as ballot drop boxes have been placed at various locations – including gun shops, shooting ranges, churches, and Republican Party offices – in several California counties. State GOP officials acknowledged responsibility for the boxes and have rejected allegations of wrongdoing, in defiance of what the state’s top election official and attorney general say is an illegal practice. At the center of the battle are questions of whether it is legal to collect ballots through third party boxes and what constitutes an “official” ballot drop box.
California – Ex-Director of Coliseum Authority Takes Plea Deal in Stadium Naming Rights Case; Avoids Jail Time
San Jose Mercury News – David Debolt | Published: 10/13/2020
Former Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority Executive Director Scott McKibben, who was criminally charged with violating state law by seeking payment from RingCentral for negotiating a stadium naming rights contract, took a plea deal and by doing so avoided trial and possible jail time. Prosecutors alleged McKibben violated the law because he sought a $50,000 payment from RingCentral as part of a $3 million deal to rename the ballpark “RingCentral Coliseum.” The law prohibits public officials from having a financial interest in contracts made by them in their official capacity. McKibben will serve three years’ probation and take an ethics course. Judge Kevin Murphy will decide how much McKibben should pay the stadium authority.
Colorado – Colorado Voters to Decide Whether to Pull Out of National Popular Vote Effort
Denver Post – John Aguilar | Published: 10/11/2020
State lawmakers decided last year that Colorado should join 14 other state and Washington, D.C. in the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which pledges their Electoral College votes to the presidential candidate who gets the most raw votes nationwide. On November 3, Coloradans will get the chance to affirm or reject that decision when they vote on Proposition 113, which was put on the ballot by opponents of the movement. A “yes” vote keeps the state in the compact, while a “no” vote maintains the system Colorado has used for decades to choose a president, in which the candidate with the most statewide support gets its nine Electoral College votes.
Florida – Federal Judge Denies Request to Extend Florida Voter Registration Deadline
Tampa Bay Times – Allison Ross | Published: 10/9/2020
A federal judge rejected calls by several voting rights groups that Florida should further extend its voter registration deadline following repeated outages to the state’s online on the last day people could sign up to vote in the November 3 election. U.S. District Court Judge Mark Walker said “Florida’s interest in preventing chaos in its already precarious and perennially chaotic election” outweighed the concern of potentially thousands of Floridians being unable to cast ballots in the general election. The state had argued reopening the voter registration deadline could mean Floridians who registered during that later time may have to cast provisional ballots if counties cannot update their voter rolls in time, and extending the deadline could cause voter confusion and other issues.
Florida – Prominent Lobbyist Didn’t Disclose Calls to Orlando Airport Board Members, Violating Policy
Orlando Sentinel – Jason Garcia | Published: 10/14/2020
Under the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority’s policies, lobbyists are supposed to publicly disclose meetings with board members within seven days. But Christina Daly Brodeur, a lobbyist at Ballard Partners, did not reveal she called four members of the board that runs Orlando International Airport on behalf of a client until nearly three months later, after The Orlando Sentinel requested records related to the firm’s work at the airport. Authority leaders, however, say they do not plan to act. “… She self-reported and became compliant and … there’s nothing further we can do,” said Dan Gerber, the authority’s general counsel. Some government-transparency advocates criticized the lack of consequences.
Georgia – Common Cause Calls for Investigation of Georgia Ethics Commission’s Conflict of Interest Policies
WAGA – Dale Russell | Published: 10/9/2020
A good government group is calling on Georgia’s ethics commission to investigate its own policies regarding how commission members handle potential conflicts-of-interest. The rules for deciding when a member should recuse themselves are confusing. Commission Chairperson Jake Evans says a commission policy gives him the authority to order a member to recuse themselves. But he follows a state attorney general’s opinion from 1989 to let members decide for themselves whether they have a conflict.
Hawaii – Ballot Questions Could Bolster Ethics Watchdog’s Staffing and Spending
Honolulu Civil Beat – Chad Blair | Published: 10/11/2020
The Honolulu Ethics Commission could enjoy greater autonomy over its budget should voters grant them that ability in November. Voters are also being asked whether the commission should also be granted more flexibility to hire and retain staff. Commission Chairperson Victoria Marks said passage of the charter amendments would give the agency greater flexibility to describe positions, and hire and retain the specialized staff that she said it needs “to grow and strengthen the city’s ethics and lobbyist programs.” Marks said the amendments would provide the commission “with budget flexibility and greater autonomy” from the city administration.
Illinois – Aldermen Reject Lightfoot’s Proposal to Ease Ban on Lobbying by Elected Officials
WTTW – Heather Cherone | Published: 10/13/2020
Aldermen rejected Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s ordinance that would have rolled back part of tougher City Hall lobbying rules for elected officials the city council passed last year. It would have once again allowed elected officials from outside Chicago to lobby the mayor, aldermen, and other city government agencies on behalf of private clients, as long as the public body they represent does not have pending or recurring legislative or contractual matters involving Chicago. With federal investigators probing lobbying practices in Springfield and past City Hall scandals tied to lobbying infractions, aldermen said it was not the time to walk back the stricter requirements.
Minnesota – Federal Judge Upholds Minnesota’s Deadline Extension for Counting Ballots
National Public Radio – Jason Slotkin | Published: 10/12/2020
A federal judge upheld Minnesota’s seven-day deadline extension for counting mail-in ballots after it was challenged by a pair of Republicans. Minnesota extended its deadline for receiving mail-in ballots after voting rights groups raised concerns the state’s previous deadline could disenfranchise voters as the state receives an unprecedented amount of absentee ballots. In past elections, absentee ballots would only be counted if received by eight p.m. on Election Day. A state court agreement reached with Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon allowed ballots postmarked by Election Day to be counted if received within seven days.
New York – Trump Again Asks Supreme Court to Block Subpoena for His Tax Records
New York Times – Charlie Savage | Published: 10/13/2020
Personal lawyers for President Trump, seeking to appeal their case to the U.S. Supreme Court for the second time in less than a year, asked the justices to delay a ruling that would allow Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. To obtain Trump’s financial records. In an “emergency” application, Trump’s legal team told the court that a U.S. District Court judge was wrong to rule Vance had a legal right to subpoena the materials and an appeals court panel in New York was wrong to uphold that decision. The request for intervention marks a return for the case. In July, the high court ruled the fact that Trump was the sitting president did not make him absolutely immune from criminal investigation, as his legal team had argued.
New York – Trump Got a $21 Million Tax Break for Saving the Forest Outside His N.Y. Mansion. Now the Deal Is Under Investigation.
MSN – Joshua Partlow, Jonathan O’Connell, and David Fahrenthold (Washington Post) | Published: 10/9/2020
Donald Trump received a tax break of $21.1 million five years ago after promising to preserve 150 acres of woodlands in New York state. The amount of the tax break was set by a 2016 appraisal that valued Seven Springs at $56.6 million, more than double the value assessed by the three Westchester County towns that each contained a piece of the property. New York Attorney General Letitia James is investigating whether the Trump Organization improperly inflated the value of the land. The appraisal appears to have relied on unsupported assertions and misleading conclusions that boosted the value of Trump’s charitable gift and his tax break. The appraisal was written by Cushman & Wakefield, a real estate firm that has worked with Trump over many years and whose headquarters are in a building co-owned by Trump.
North Carolina – A Legal Fight Over How to Fix Ballot Errors in North Carolina Has Left Thousands of Voters in Limbo – Nearly Half People of Color
Washington Post – Elise Viebeck | Published: 10/12/2020
A dispute over how North Carolina voters should correct problems with their mail ballots remains unresolved, leaving at least 6,800 votes – including more than 3,300 ballots from people of color – in limbo across a key presidential battleground state. The legal fight intensified after the state Board of Elections said in September it would allow voters to “cure,” or fix, deficiencies in their mail ballots by completing and returning an affidavit to county election officials. The affidavit would neutralize a range of voter errors that could lead to ballots being tossed, including failure to provide a witness signature. ballots being tossed, including failure to provide a witness signature. But a federal judge put the plan on hold October 3, arguing it changed the rules too close to Election Day.
Oregon – City of Portland Lawyers Won’t Defend Auditor in Legal Appeals of Mayor’s Campaign Violations, City Council Says
Portland Oregonian – Everton Bailey Jr. | Published: 10/14/2020
The Portland City Council refused a request from the city auditor for city lawyers to represent her in lawsuits filed by Mayor Ted Wheeler’s campaign, citing the city attorney’s assertion it would be an ethical violation and a conflict-of-interest. Auditor Mary Hull Caballero argued before the vote that Wheeler’s campaign is not a client of the city attorney’s office and she fined the campaign through her capacity as a Portland elected official who oversees the city elections process. She noted city lawyers already represent her in other elections-related lawsuits, including one filed on behalf of mayoral challenger Sarah Iannarone about Wheeler’s campaign.
Pennsylvania – Judge Throws Out Trump Campaign’s Pennsylvania Lawsuit
Associated Press News – Marc Levy | Published: 10/10/2020
A federal judge in Pennsylvania threw out a lawsuit filed by President Trump’s campaign, dismissing its challenges to the battleground state’s poll-watching law and its efforts to limit how mail-in ballots can be collected and which of them can be counted. The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan, who was appointed by Trump, also poured cold water on the president’s claims that Pennsylvania is fertile ground for election fraud. Trump’s campaign said it would appeal at least one element of the decision.
Pennsylvania – Pennsylvania House Insurance Committee Chairwoman Reaps Big Harvest of Campaign Contributions from Insurance Industry
Allentown Morning Call – Ford Turner | Published: 10/9/2020
State Rep. Tina Pickett, whose position in Harrisburg gives her enormous authority over what happens to proposed insurance laws, has more cash in her political campaign account than any of her 201 colleagues in the Pennsylvania House, thanks in large part to the insurance industry. A review of hundreds of campaign finance reports showed Pickett’s $268,546.49 cash balance in late May was inflated by a years-long influx of insurance industry cash that began when Pickett became chairperson of the House Insurance Committee in 2013. Experts say the contributions are made to curry favor.
Rhode Island – A Chaotic Campaign Helped Save Rhode Island’s House Speaker in 2016. Now It Threatens to End His Political Career
Boston Globe – Dan McGowan and Edward Fitzpatrick | Published: 10/13/2020
The criminal trial of Jeffrey Britt, a former campaign consultant to Rhode Island House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, was meant to determine whether Britt laundered $2,000 to help pay for a postcard mailer designed to boost Mattiello during that 2016 campaign. But it also offered a rare glimpse into the win-at-all-costs culture of politics, as witnesses detailed the strategies employed to help defeat Steven Frias. Those tactics included surveillance conducted on Frias by a private investigator who was seeking a state job, a mail-ballot operation run by an operative who had previous tours of political duty with some of the state’s most corrupt politicians, and the mailer that Britt orchestrated to try to convince a handful of Republicans to back the Democrat in the race. Mattiello won the race by 85 votes, a margin where almost any maneuver could have tipped the scales in the speaker’s favor.
Texas – Appeals Court OKs Texas Governor’s Order to Limit Drop Off Locations for Absentee Ballots
NBC News – Rachel Elbaum | Published: 10/13/2020
A federal appeals court panel upheld Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s order to shut down dozens of mail ballot drop-off sites weeks before November’s election. The ruling comes after a federal judge halted the order, which allowed for only one absentee ballot drop off location for every county, regardless of its size. The Texas secretary of state had argued Abbott’s order was part of a 40-day expansion of Texans’ absentee voting opportunities put in place because of Covid-19 that went beyond what state election rules normally permit. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit said it agreed with her.
Virginia – Inside the Utility Company Lobbying Blitz That Will Hike Electric Bills
ProPublica – Patrick Wilson (Richmond Times-Dispatch) | Published: 10/9/2020
When Democrats campaigned for seats in the Virginia Legislature last year, they took aim at the state’s largest power broker: Dominion Energy. The electric utility’s clout was legendary at the Capitol, where it doled out millions of dollars in campaign contributions and employed an army of lobbyists who helped write energy policy for decades. The result was soaring electricity bills and an energy grid heavily reliant on fossil fuels. Democrats vowed to change that. But Dominion fought back and ended up as a winner in a bill intended to diminish its influence. By doubling the size of its lobbying corps and tapping its long-standing relationships with legislative leaders and Gov. Ralph Northam, the utility secured the right to build its top priority – a massive offshore wind farm set to be the most expensive utility project in Virginia history.
Virginia – Men in Alleged Kidnapping Plot Also Considered Targeting Virginia Governor, FBI Says
National Public Radio – Bill Chappell and Ryan Lucas | Published: 10/13/2020
Two of the men accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer took part in a discussions earlier this year with members of self-styled militia groups about potentially abducting Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, an FBI agent testified. Special Agent Richard Trask did not say whether any of the attendees ultimately took any action toward potentially targeting Northam, and no one has been charged with any threats against him. Whitmer and Northam, both Democrats, have faced resistance in their respective states to measures they’ have taken to try to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Virginia – Va. Congressional Candidate Reported No Assets. His Amended Disclosure Shows He Holds Dozens of Stocks.
Washington Post – Meagan Flynn | Published: 10/9/2020
After previously disclosing owning zero financial assets, Virginia congressional candidate Bob Good filed an amended financial disclosure showing he holds dozens of stocks, including in two companies that had business before the Campbell County Board of Supervisors when Good served on the panel. He now reports between $213,000 and $1.65 million in assets and unearned income. Virginia law requires local and state lawmakers to disclose their personal economic interests in forms filed with the Virginia Conflict of Interest and Ethics Advisory Council.
Washington – Port of Tacoma, Others Agree to Fine in Save Tacoma Water Campaign Finance Case
MSN – Alexid Krell (Tacoma News-Tribune) | Published: 10/12/2020
The Port of Tacoma, the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce, and the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County agreed to pay a civil penalty for violating campaign finance law while fighting initiatives that were trying to limit industrial development on the Tideflats. They will pay a $34,000 fine, with $17,000 suspended. The case stemmed from efforts by a group called Save Tacoma Water following citizen opposition to a proposed methanol plant. Activist Arthur West complained the three groups violated campaign finance law in their effort.
Washington – Twitter to Pay $100k to Washington State in Settlement Over Political Ad Disclosure Violations
GeekWire – Todd Bishop | Published: 10/13/2020
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Twitter agreed to pay $100,000 for failing to maintain records related to ads that ran from 2012 through 2019, when Twitter banned political advertising. Companies are required to maintain records about who paid for ads, when they ran, how much they cost, and the name of the candidate or measure supported or opposed. Twitter failed to maintain the required records for at least 38 Washington candidates and committees that reported paying $194,550 for political advertising on its platform.
Wisconsin – Federal Appeals Court Blocks Extension for Wisconsin Ballot Returns
Politico – Zach Montellaro and Josh Gerstein | Published: 10/8/2020
Federal judges blocked a lower court’s order extending the deadline for returning mail ballots in Wisconsin, requiring that absentee ballots be in the hands of election officials by the time the polls close on Election Day. A three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of staying the lower court’s order, which would have allowed for ballots postmarked by Election Day to be received by November 9, six days later, in order to be counted. The stay also suspended an order extending the deadline for online and mailed-in voter registration from October 14 to October 21, and it stopped potential electronic delivery of certain ballots.
October 15, 2020 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance Washington: “Port of Tacoma, Others Agree to Fine in Save Tacoma Water Campaign Finance Case” by Alexid Krell (Tacoma News-Tribune) for MSN Elections National: “Fake Twitter Accounts Posing as Black Trump Supporters Appear, Reach Thousands, Then Vanish” by […]
Washington: “Port of Tacoma, Others Agree to Fine in Save Tacoma Water Campaign Finance Case” by Alexid Krell (Tacoma News-Tribune) for MSN
National: “Fake Twitter Accounts Posing as Black Trump Supporters Appear, Reach Thousands, Then Vanish” by Craig Timberg and Isaac Stanley-Becker for Washington Post
National: “Supreme Court Won’t Revive Congressional Emoluments Case Against Trump” by Robert Barnes and Ann Marimow for Washington Post
National: “‘Unmasking’ Probe Commissioned by Barr Concludes Without Charges or Any Public Report” by Matt Zapotosky and Shane Harris (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “Ex-Director of Coliseum Authority Takes Plea Deal in Stadium Naming Rights Case; Avoids Jail Time” by David Debolt for San Jose Mercury News
New York: “Trump Again Asks Supreme Court to Block Subpoena for His Tax Records” by Charlie Savage for New York Times
Virginia: “Men in Alleged Kidnapping Plot Also Considered Targeting Virginia Governor, FBI Says” by Bill Chappell and Ryan Lucas for National Public Radio
Florida: “Prominent Lobbyist Didn’t Disclose Calls to Orlando Airport Board Members, Violating Policy” by Jason Garcia for Orlando Sentinel
Illinois: “Aldermen Reject Lightfoot’s Proposal to Ease Ban on Lobbying by Elected Officials” by Heather Cherone for WTTW
October 14, 2020 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance National: “As U.S. Politics Heats Up, Companies Seek to Avoid Controversy” by Jessica DiNapoli for Reuters Rhode Island: “A Chaotic Campaign Helped Save Rhode Island’s House Speaker in 2016. Now It Threatens to End His Political Career” by […]
National: “As U.S. Politics Heats Up, Companies Seek to Avoid Controversy” by Jessica DiNapoli for Reuters
Rhode Island: “A Chaotic Campaign Helped Save Rhode Island’s House Speaker in 2016. Now It Threatens to End His Political Career” by Dan McGowan and Edward Fitzpatrick for Boston Globe
Washington: “Twitter to Pay $100k to Washington State in Settlement Over Political Ad Disclosure Violations” by Todd Bishop for GeekWire
Alaska: “Alaska Absentee Witness Requirements Scrapped for Election” by Becky Bohrer for Associated Press News
Minnesota: “Federal Judge Upholds Minnesota’s Deadline Extension for Counting Ballots” by Jason Slotkin for National Public Radio
Texas: “Appeals Court OKs Texas Governor’s Order to Limit Drop Off Locations for Absentee Ballots” by Rachel Elbaum for NBC News
National: “Trump’s Children Brought Secret Service Money to the Family Business with Their Visits, Records Show” by David Fahrenthold, Joshua Partlow, and Carol Leonnig (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Supreme Court Halts Census in Latest Twist of 2020 Count” by Mike Schneider for Associated Press News
National: “Trump Taps U.S. Marine Band for White House Event and Raises Questions About Employing the Military for Political Purposes” by Paul Sonne for Washington Post
Hawaii: “Ballot Questions Could Bolster Ethics Watchdog’s Staffing and Spending” by Chad Blair for Honolulu Civil Beat
October 13, 2020 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance National: “The Mystery of a GOP Congressman’s Seemingly Rent-Free Campaign Office” by Daniel Newhauser for Politico National: “Trump Engineered a Sudden Windfall in 2016 as Campaign Funds Dwindled” by Susanne Craig, Mike McIntire, and Russ Buettner for New […]
National: “The Mystery of a GOP Congressman’s Seemingly Rent-Free Campaign Office” by Daniel Newhauser for Politico
National: “Trump Engineered a Sudden Windfall in 2016 as Campaign Funds Dwindled” by Susanne Craig, Mike McIntire, and Russ Buettner for New York Times
National: “With Election Day Looming, Twitter Imposes New Limits on U.S. Politicians – and Ordinary Users, Too” by Elizabeth Dwoskin and Craig Timberg (Washington Post) for Seattle Times
California: “Unofficial Ballot Drop Boxes Popping Up Throughout the State Worry Elections Officials” by Alicia Robinson and Brooke Staggs for Orange County Register
Colorado: “Colorado Voters to Decide Whether to Pull Out of National Popular Vote Effort” by John Aguilar for Denver Post
North Carolina: “A Legal Fight Over How to Fix Ballot Errors in North Carolina Has Left Thousands of Voters in Limbo – Nearly Half People of Color” by Elise Viebeck for Washington Post
Georgia: “Common Cause Calls for Investigation of Georgia Ethics Commission’s Conflict of Interest Policies” by Dale Russell for WAGA
New York: “Trump Got a $21 Million Tax Break for Saving the Forest Outside His N.Y. Mansion. Now the Deal Is Under Investigation.” by Joshua Partlow, Jonathan O’Connell, and David Fahrenthold (Washington Post) for MSN
Virginia: “Inside the Utility Company Lobbying Blitz That Will Hike Electric Bills” by Patrick Wilson (Richmond Times-Dispatch) for ProPublica
October 12, 2020 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance Pennsylvania: “Pennsylvania House Insurance Committee Chairwoman Reaps Big Harvest of Campaign Contributions from Insurance Industry” by Ford Turner for Allentown Morning Call Elections National: “Facebook to Temporarily Halt Political Ads in U.S. After Polls Close Nov. 3, Broadening […]
Pennsylvania: “Pennsylvania House Insurance Committee Chairwoman Reaps Big Harvest of Campaign Contributions from Insurance Industry” by Ford Turner for Allentown Morning Call
National: “Facebook to Temporarily Halt Political Ads in U.S. After Polls Close Nov. 3, Broadening Earlier Restrictions” by Elizabeth Dwoskin for Washington Post
National: “New Justice Dept. Election Fraud Guidance Could Allow Boosting of Trump’s Exaggerated Claims, Legal Observers Say” by Matt Zapotosky (Washington Post) for MSN
Florida: “Federal Judge Denies Request to Extend Florida Voter Registration Deadline” by Allison Ross for Tampa Bay Times
Pennsylvania: “Judge Throws Out Trump Campaign’s Pennsylvania Lawsuit” by Marc Levy for Associated Press News
Wisconsin: “Federal Appeals Court Blocks Extension for Wisconsin Ballot Returns” by Zach Montellaro and Josh Gerstein for Politico
California: “Arcadia Subsidiary of Chinese Company to Pay $1 Million Fine in LA City Hall Bribery Scandal” by City News Service for Los Angeles Daily Breeze
Virginia: “Va. Congressional Candidate Reported No Assets. His Amended Disclosure Shows He Holds Dozens of Stocks.” by Meagan Flynn for Washington Post
National: “Longtime GOP Fundraiser Elliott Broidy Charged with Acting as a Foreign Agent, Is Likely to Plead Guilty” by Matt Zapotosky (Washington Post) for Seattle Times
October 9, 2020 • Written by Jim Sedor
National/Federal Biden Transition Elevates Former Facebook Exec as Ethics Arbiter Politico – Alex Thompson and Theodoric Meyer | Published: 10/1/2020 Joe Biden’s transition team named Jessica Hertz, until recently a Facebook executive focused on government regulations, as its general counsel and […]
Biden Transition Elevates Former Facebook Exec as Ethics Arbiter
Politico – Alex Thompson and Theodoric Meyer | Published: 10/1/2020
Joe Biden’s transition team named Jessica Hertz, until recently a Facebook executive focused on government regulations, as its general counsel and charged her with navigating conflicts-of-interest and other ethical issues for the Biden administration-in-waiting, a move that drew immediate fire from the left. Hertz will oversee a team responsible for “enforcement, oversight, and compliance” of the ethics plan that Biden’s team released. In it, they promise to reestablish many of the rules President Obama instituted to limit the role of former lobbyists in the 2008 transition. Biden’s rules bar those who have worked as registered lobbyists or foreign agents in the past year from working on the transition unless Hertz signs off.
Facebook Imposes Major New Restrictions on QAnon, Stepping Up Enforcement Against the Conspiracy Theory
MSN – Craig Timberg and Isaac Stanley-Becker (Washington Post) | Published: 10/6/2020
Facebook imposed sweeping new sanctions on the QAnon conspiracy theory, expanding its policy to remove all affiliated groups and pages, and all accounts on the Facebook subsidiary Instagram, even if they do not violate other policies by inciting violence or trafficking in hate speech. The move expands an enforcement action in August that targeted more than 3,000 pages and groups but stopped short of a full ban. But the content morphed almost instantaneously, prompting the more sweeping action. This action comes after more than two years of mounting evidence that the QAnon conspiracy is rife with violent, hateful themes that regularly violated policies across Silicon Valley and also inspired numerous real-world crimes.
In a New Ruling, Judge Says Census Count Must Continue Through October
MSN – Tara Bahrampour (Washington Post) | Published: 10/2/2020
A federal judge ordered that the 2020 Census continue until October 31, blocking for now the government’s efforts to complete the survey in time to deliver apportionment data to the president by the end of the year. The ruling follows a tense week in which the government appeared to try to circumvent a preliminary injunction against ending the count early. The National Urban League and a group of counties, cities, and others said a truncated schedule would irreparably harm communities that might be undercounted.
Justice Dept. Acknowledges FBI Notes Given to Flynn Defense Contain Altered Dates
Washington Post – Spencer Hsu and Matt Zapotosky | Published: 10/7/2020
The Justice Department said it inadvertently altered dates on copies of notes from two former senior FBI officials that were turned over to Michael Flynn’s defense team and filed to the court as potentially exculpatory evidence. The dates were added to notes of former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe and former FBI agent Peter Strzok and should have been removed before the documents were scanned by agency headquarters, the Justice Department told a judge weighing its request to dismiss the former Trump national security adviser’s prosecution. McCabe and Strzok were key figures investigating possible links between Russia and the Trump campaign in 2016.
Public Records Requests Fall Victim to the Coronavirus Pandemic
Washington Post – Nate Jones | Published: 10/1/2020
With most government employees still working from home because of the coronavirus pandemic, the disclosure of public records by many federal agencies and local government offices nationwide has worsened or even ground to a halt. When the pandemic was declared in early March, many employees at local, state, and federal agencies abandoned their offices and began working remotely. Employees tasked with answering open-records requests have been forced to rely on telework computer systems that are often incompatible with the software used to process records requests.
Several Lawmakers Disclose Opaque Financial Records
Roll Call – Chris Marquette | Published: 10/1/2020
Federal law requires members of Congress to publicly file annual financial disclosure statements and periodically report certain stock transactions exceeding $1,000. Such mandates provide the public with a view of lawmakers’ financial interests and possible conflicts-of-interest, but members are not required to file in a uniform manner. That has left some reports opaque and partially illegible. There is a stark contrast in clarity between financial disclosure reports filed in a standardized, electronic format and those that are not.
Sonny Perdue Fuels Ethics Scrutiny as Trump’s Rural Envoy
Politico – Ryan McCrimmon | Published: 10/5/2020
On top of his overt appeal to reelect President Trump, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has kept many farmers in Trump’s corner by doling out unprecedented sums of taxpayer aid to offset the industry’s losses after years of trade turmoil and painful biofuel policies. Democrats have questioned the practice but have made almost no effort to attach any strings to the payments. Now, Perdue is facing a fresh round of criticism for requiring federal contractors to stuff promotional letters from Trump into millions of Agriculture Department food boxes distributed to needy families, over the objections of lawmakers and many food banks. The department says these activities are not political and rejects the allegation the signed letters are a violation of the Hatch Act.
Trump Returns to Oval Office as Aides Refuse to Say When He Last Tested Negative for the Coronavirus
Washington Post – Toluse Olorunnipa, Josh Dawsey, and Ashley Parker | Published: 10/7/2020
The White House again refused to say when President Trump last tested negative for the coronavirus, leaving open the possibility he potentially exposed dozens of people to the deadly virus before the announcement of his positive test on October 2. Trump attended several events, including a presidential debate against Joe Biden, a campaign rally, and an in-person fundraiser, where he could have potentially exposed people to the coronavirus if he was infectious at that time. Two officials familiar with the situation said Trump has not been tested daily in recent months. Only rarely has Trump been tested on a machine other than the one produced by Abbott Laboratories, which provides rapid results, but are not always accurate.
Trump’s Call for Poll-Watching Volunteers Sparks Fear of Chaos and Violence on Election Day
MSN – Amy Gardner, Joshua Partlow, Isaac Stanley-Becker, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 9/30/2020
President Trump’s debate-stage call for volunteers to stand watch at voting locations has prompted an enthusiastic response from known neo-Nazis and right-wing activists, leading many state election and law enforcement officials to prepare for voter intimidation, arrests, and even violence on Election Day. The Trump campaign and Republican National Committee for months have promised to recruit as many as 50,000 poll watchers to monitor voting locations on Election Day. The campaign’s “Army for Trump” website has contributed to that effort, urging supporters to join the “army of supporters fighting to re-elect him in 2020.”
From the States and Municipalities
Alaska – An Initiative Proposes to Overhaul Alaska’s Elections. But Not Everyone Thinks They’re Broken.
Anchorage Daily News – Nat Herz (Alaska Public Media) | Published: 9/29/2020
Political activists proposed a citizen’s initiative to change Alaska’s entire election system. Ballot Measure 2 would mandate more transparency about who is funding the super PAC-like independent spending groups that operate in Alaska’s elections. But its two most ambitious provisions target the election process itself: the initiative would do away with Alaska’s partisan primary altogether, replacing it with a single ballot open to all voters, and the top four candidates would advance to the general election. Then, in the general election, Alaskans would choose winners using a new system called ranked choice voting. They have never been combined for statewide elections in the way the Alaska initiative proposes, leaving a measure of uncertainty about how it could transform the state’s politics and government.
California – Was City of Industry Tricked into Hiring a Negotiator with a Major Conflict of Interest on Failed $20 Million Solar Project?
San Gabriel Valley News – Jason Henry | Published: 9/29/2020
An attorney who negotiated the terms of a $20 million solar project on behalf of the city of Industry, California, did not disclose to the city the proposed developer owed him $1.5 million from a prior business relationship. Industry now alleges the developer, William Barkett, orchestrated the hiring of attorney Anthony Bouza to limit oversight on the project. The city sued Barkett in 2019, alleging he siphoned off the $20 million and could not provide evidence that work occurred.
Delaware – Fittingly, Supreme Court Term Starts with Test of Political Affiliations for Judges
Washington Post – Robert Barnes | Published: 10/5/2020
Delaware requires its major courts be roughly balanced, so that no more than a bare majority of a court is made up of members of one political party. It requires the minority be made up of the other political party. The result, Stanford law professor Michael McConnell told the U.S. Supreme Court, is “Delaware’s courts are widely regarded as the least partisan and most professional in the nation.” Attorney David Finger said the plan denies the chance for his client, lawyer James Adams, to serve on the courts because he is neither a Democrat nor Republican but a political independent, and that violates his First Amendment rights of political association. It seemed a fitting beginning for the court’s new term, as the Senate is torn along partisan lines about whether to confirm just before the election Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
Florida – In Florida, the Gutting of a Landmark Law Leaves Few Felons Likely to Vote
ProPublica – Lawrence Mower and Langston Taylor (Tampa Bay Times) | Published: 10/7/2020
What was expected to be the nation’s largest voter re-enfranchisement in more than 50 years resulted in less than a quarter of an estimated 1.4 million felons in Florida signing up to vote. Officials have not removed any felons from the rolls for owing fines or fees, and they are unlikely to do so before Election Day, Secretary of State Laurel Lee said. It is unclear whether those whom the state fails to prune are entitled to vote or may face prosecution if they do. Amid the confusion, the one certainty is Florida’s governor and Legislature have tamped down the felon vote, according to an analysis of state records. In a presidential election marred by voter suppression tactics, the weakening of Florida’s Amendment 4 may constitute the biggest single instance of voter disenfranchisement.
Florida – Palm Bay Developer Brian West Arrested on Bribery Charges Involving Palm Bay City Council
Florida Today – Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon, Jim Waymer, and Dave Berman | Published: 10/2/2020
Developer Brian West was arrested on felony charges of bribery over an alleged scheme to buy votes on the Palm Bay City Council to rezone land for a project. The alleged bribery appears to have been directed at Councilperson Brian Anderson, who appears to have acted as the confidential informant with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The circumstances that led to West’s arrest revolved around allegations of an attempted deal brokered by local hotelier Puneet Kapur to buy votes to approve the rezoning of a subdivision to commercial use. That is land that one of West’s companies was trying to develop.
Illinois – Berrios Son-in-Law Indicted in Bribery Scheme Involving Ex-State Rep. Luis Arroyo
Chicago Tribune – Jason Meisner | Published: 10/2/2020
The son-in-law of onetime Cook County Democratic boss Joseph Berrios was indicted for his alleged role in a bribery scheme that brought down former Illinois Rep. Luis Arroyo and exposed a shadowy lobbying effort to expand sweepstakes gaming machines. James Weiss was charged with bribery, wire fraud, mail fraud, and lying to the FBI. The indictment also added new wire and mail fraud charges against Arroyo, who was originally charged with one count of federal program bribery and had been on track to plead guilty. According to the charges, Arroyo agreed to pay a state senator $2,500 a month in kickbacks in exchange for the senator’s support on legislation involving video gambling sweepstakes games that would benefit Weiss, who was in the sweepstakes business and was one of Arroyo’s lobbying clients.
Illinois – Chicago Aldermen to Consider Rolling Back Part of City’s Elected Official Lobbying Ban
MSN – John Byrne (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 9/30/2020
Chicago aldermen now appear likely to consider a proposal introduced by Mayor Lori Lightfoot that would roll back part of the tougher rules they passed to prevent elected officials from lobbying City Hall. Ald. Jason Ervin used a parliamentary rule to threaten an up-or-down city council floor vote on Lightfoot’s ordinance that would again let elected officials from outside Chicago lobby aldermen, the mayor’s office, and other city government departments. Ervin’s move prompted Ethics Committee Chairperson Michele Smith to instead agree to hold a hearing on the proposal in her committee.
Maryland – Can Public Campaign Financing Improve Government? Baltimore County Executive, Activists Start Campaign to Convince Voters.
Baltimore Sun – Alison Knezevich | Published: 10/6/2020
Saying it is time to reduce the influence of big money on Baltimore County politics, activists kicked off an effort to convince voters to approve public financing for local campaigns. Last year, a bill to put public campaign financing on the ballot was the Democratic county executive’s first major legislative initiative. It is now up to voters whether to approve the charter amendment in November. If they do, the county will create a “citizen’s election fund” that candidates for the Baltimore County Council and county executive would have the option to use starting in 2026. The details of the program, including the specific funding source, would be worked out later if voters approve the amendment.
Michigan – F.B.I. Says a Michigan Militia Plotted to Kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
New York Times – Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Shaila Dewan, and Kathleen Gray | Published: 10/8/2020
The FBI revealed it thwarted a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, unsealing charges against six people who the agency said contemplated a violent overthrow of the government. The FBI said it had learned so much about the plot by intercepting encrypted messages and because it had undercover agents and confidential informants working with the group. Whitmer has been the subject of attack from right-wing protesters for measures she imposed to control the coronavirus. Thousands of people gathered in Lansing to protest executive orders she issued shutting down most of the state to help stop the spread of the virus. In April, President Trump openly encouraged such protests, tweeting, “LIBERATE MICHIGAN.”
Michigan – Michigan AG Dana Nessel Files Charges Against GOP Operatives Over Robocalls
Detroit News – Craig Mauger | Published: 10/1/2020
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel filed felony charges against two well-known out-of-state Republican operatives for allegedly orchestrating robocalls aimed at suppressing the vote in the Detroit area. Nessel charged Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl with election law and conspiracy crimes that would bring up to 24 years in prison for each of them if convicted. The charges stem from a false robocall that discouraged mail-in voting by telling people their personal information will be part of a public database that will then be used by police if they vote by mail.
Missouri – Amid Accusations of Insider Politics, Parson Campaign Rents Space from Lobbyists
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Kurt Erickson | Published: 10/7/2020
At the same time Missouri Gov. Mike Parson’s campaign is criticizing his opponent’s husband for having served as a lobbyist, the governor’s team is sharing office space with lobbyists. The campaign is renting space in the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s headquarters in Jefferson City, as well as using space in a suite of offices owned by lobbyist Brent Hemphill, who represents Ameren, AT&T, and a number of casinos. Parson campaign manager Steele Shippy said Hemphill contributed the space in his building as an in-kind donation. The offices used by the campaign are on a different floor from Hemphill’s lobbying organization, Shippy said.
Missouri – St. Louis Husband and Wife Who Pointed Guns at Protesters Indicted on Firearms Charges
NBC News – Tim Stelloh | Published: 10/7/2020
The St. Louis husband and wife who were captured on video brandishing guns at protesters over the summer were indicted on firearm and evidence tampering charges. The indictment comes nearly four months after Mark and Patricia McCloskey, who have been embraced by conservatives and appeared at the Republican National Convention, were filmed and photographed outside their affluent home pointing a semi-automatic rifle and a handgun at the demonstrators.
Montana – Record Penalties Levied in Dark Money Lawsuit
Montana Free Press – John Adams | Published: 10/2/2020
A judge entered a $1.76 million judgement against two now-defunct corporations that were found to have made illegal contributions to Republican candidates in Montana. The judgment is likely the final chapter in a case that spanned more than a decade, led to the largest-ever fine against a sitting politician in Montana, and was featured in the documentary film “Dark Money.” Western Tradition Partnership and Direct Mail and Communications will pay $881,955 in penalties for violating laws prohibiting corporations from giving directly to campaigns. They will pay an additional $881,955 fine for failing to report the illegal contributions. The two groups were fined $500 each for not maintaining and producing records of their campaign activities.
New Jersey – NJ Investigating Bergen Health Broker Records in Criminal Probe of Political Donations
Bergen Record – Terence McDonald | Published: 9/29/2020
New Jersey’s attorney general launched an investigation into public health brokerage contracts and potential “pay-to-play” violations in Bergen County. The investigation has resulted in at least one subpoena to the county seeking contracts and related documents to be reviewed by a grand jury. The subpoena demands the county hand over. Since 2016, the county’s health broker has been Acrisure. In Bergen County, contributions to all county-level elected officials and both political parties must be disclosed. The county’s pay-to-play law also restricts donations from a vendor’s subsidiaries. The insurance industry is a lucrative one, attracting power brokers who build close relationships with elected officials and reward them with a steady stream of donations.
New Mexico – New Mexico State Ethics Commission Urged to Reform Candidate Finance Reports
Santa Fe New Mexican – Robert Knott | Published: 10/2/2020
A watchdog group says New Mexico’s law on financial disclosure reporting is lax and confusing and leads to a lack of transparency that makes it difficult to accurately track the financial activities of candidates. New Mexico Ethics Watch Executive Director Kathleen Sabo said financial disclosure forms for 12 state Senate candidates and 24 candidates for the House are missing or cannot be viewed on the secretary of state’s website. Guidelines for filling out those forms are so vague, she said, they allow legislators to avoid disclosing how much they earn and with whom they do business.
New York – Andrew Cuomo Holds Webinar with Firm That Promised His Book to Employees
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle – Jon Campbell | Published: 10/2/2020
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom hosted a closed-to-the-public webinar with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, sending an email invitation to employees that prominently featured the cover of “American Crisis,” Cuomo’s upcoming account of leading the state during the coronavirus pandemic. Each person who registered for the webinar is due to receive a copy of the book, which carries a hardcover list price of $30. Crown Publishing Group confirmed it is not providing copies to Skadden free of charge. Skadden is a registered lobbyist in New York, though the firm lists only one lobbying client in the state: The Shed, a performing and visual arts center. Most of the lobbying work appears centered on New York City, not the state.
New York – Appeals Court Rejects Trump Effort to Shield Financial Records
Politico – Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney | Published: 10/7/2020
A federal appeals court rejected President Trump’s efforts to keep his financial records from a Manhattan prosecutor, putting the president on track for a second date at the U.S. Supreme Court in his campaign to keep those documents private. A three-judge panel of the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected arguments from Trump’s legal team that the subpoena issued to Trump’s accounting firm at the request of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance was too broad and the subpoena amounted to retaliation for the refusal of Trump’s businesses to cooperate with Vance’s office.
New York – NYC Council Expels Andy King Over Latest Harassment, Ethics Violations
MSN – Stephen Rex Brown and Shant Shahrigian (New York Daily News) | Published: 10/5/2020
The New York City Council expelled Andy King over charges he harassed and discriminated against a female employee, took a kickback from another staffer, and failed to pay a fine for previous misconduct. The vote to expel King resulted from the third investigation into his conduct in less than three years. In the latest case, the council’s Ethics Committee found he forced a female staffer to go on unpaid leave after she complained of menstrual bleeding. King gave a different employee a $9,500 one-time payment with council funds and demanded a $2,000 kickback in return. The panel found King refused to accept part of the punishment he received last year for separate violations.
New York – Rochester, New York, Mayor Indicted on 2 Felony Campaign Finance Charges
USA Today – Gary Craig and Tony Sharp (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle) | Published: 10/2/2020
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren was indicted on two felony campaign finance charges. The first charge is for first-degree scheme to defraud; the second is an election law offense for illegally coordinating activities and expenditures. The grand jury indictment is connected to Warren’s 2017 mayoral re-election campaign. Warren has refuted any wrongdoing in the matter. If convicted, Warren would be removed from office under state law. While Warren would be unlikely to be incarcerated, her pension could be forfeited if the matter is determined to be a crime related to public office, and she also could lose her law license.
North Carolina – Democrat’s Personal Scandal Roils N. Carolina Senate Race
Associated Press News – Brian Slodysko and Gary Robertson | Published: 10/7/2020
A race in North Carolina critical to control of the U.S. Senate has been thrown into turmoil over allegations of personal misconduct by Democrat Cal Cunningham, a married man who had an extramarital relationship this summer with a consultant. Previously undisclosed text messages and interviews show the relationship extended beyond suggestive texts, as was previously reported, to an intimate encounter as recent as July. Republicans hold a 53-to-47 majority in the Senate, and the contest between Cunningham and U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis has been among the most watched in the country, with polls showing a tight race and both parties investing heavily in the outcome.
Ohio – Federal Judge Thinks LaRose Has Permitted Off-Site Ballot Collection Sites in Ohio, Dismisses Drop Box Lawsuit. But Is He Right?
Cleveland Plain Dealer – Andrew Tobias | Published: 10/6/2020
A federal judge determined Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose has permitted county boards of elections to offer off-site ballot collection sites and dismissed a lawsuit from voting-rights activists seeking an expansion of ballot drop boxes. But parties in the case, elections officials, and observers said they are confused by U.S. District Court Judge Dan Polster’s order and what it will mean for state elections. Officials in LaRose’s office have said they have not actually said that extra ballot drop boxes are allowed, and local elections officials say they are waiting on guidance. Polster declined to clarify his ruling, while LaRose’s office issued a statement that did not clearly address what their next step is.
Ohio – FirstEnergy, Energy Harbor Can Still Donate to Legislative Candidates During HB6 Repeal Debate, Judge Rules
Cleveland Plain Dealer – Jeremy Pelzer | Published: 10/2/2020
A judge ruled FirstEnergy Corp. and the owner of Ohio’s two nuclear power plants can still make political donations to state lawmakers as the Legislature considers whether to repeal a controversial law benefiting the companies. Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Chris Brown reluctantly denied an injunction request by Attorney General Dave Yost to restrict FirstEnergy, Energy Harbor, ex-House Speaker Larry Householder, and others involved in the House Bill 6 scandal from donating to any state legislative candidate through the end of the year, nor lobby any legislator about repealing or changing the legislation.
Oregon – After Wheeler’s $150,000 Loan, Iannarone Campaign Takes City Auditor to Court to Enforce Self-Funding Limits
OPB – Rebecca Ellis | Published: 10/6/2020
Portland mayoral candidate Sarah Iannarone’s campaign asked a court to make the city auditor enforce a strict cap on the money that candidates can lend themselves to fund their election efforts. The request comes after Mayor Ted Wheeler loaned his campaign $150,000. Voters approved strict campaign finance limits in 2018, including a $5,000 cap on how much candidates can loan themselves. After a series of court challenges, the city auditor announced in May she would begin enforcing most of the campaign finance changes, except for the limits on self-funding. The city has taken the position that the self-funding portion of the charter conflicts with U.S. Supreme Court precedent and would not hold up in court.
Oregon – Election 2020: Oregon’s Measure 107 would allow laws to limit campaign contributions
Salem Statesman Journal – Capi Lynn | Published: 10/6/2020
Measure 107 on the November ballot would amend the Oregon Constitution, allowing not just the state but local governments to enact laws that limit campaign contributions and expenditures and require their disclosure. The measure also would require campaign advertisements to identify who paid for them. Oregon is one of five states with no limits on political campaign donations and ranks first in per-capita corporate political donations. State lawmakers approved sending Measure 107 to voters. If it passes, it will be up to them to come to a consensus on what limits and disclosure look like.
Pennsylvania – Chester County District Judge Siphoned $4K From His Campaign Fund to Feed a Gambling Habit, AG Says
Philadelphia Inquirer – Vinny Vella | Published: 10/7/2020
Chester County Magisterial District Judge Michael Cabry III diverted nearly $4,000 in campaign donations for personal expenses, using the funds to prop up his “six-figure gambling habit,” at casinos in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey, state prosecutors said. In the run-up to the 2017 election, Cabry created Citizens for Cabry, a PAC overseen by his niece, the grand jury said. Its reports reflected personal reimbursements to Cabry through debit cards linked to the PAC’s bank account. Those reimbursements included ATM withdrawals at Delaware Park Casino, Dover Downs Casino, and Bally’s Resort and Casino, as well as stays at hotels near those casinos, the grand jury said.
Pennsylvania – Courtright: ‘I should have known better.’
Citizen’s Voice – Joseph Kohut | Published: 10/2/2020
The former mayor of Scranton, Pennsylvania, has been sentenced to seven years in federal prison on charges he shook down businesses for bribes and campaign contributions. Bill Courtright resigned last year as mayor of the city of 78,000 and pleaded guilty to bribery, extortion, and conspiracy. Prosecutors say Courtright took bribes from a company that had a contract with the city to collect delinquent taxes and garbage fees.
Pennsylvania – Judge Dismisses Suit by Top Pa. Senator’s Campaign Against Spotlight PA Journalist, Others
Philadelphia Inquirer – Mike Wereschagin (The Caucus) | Published: 10/7/2020
A judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by Pennsylvania Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati’s campaign against a Spotlight PA reporter and The Caucus and one of its journalists. Scarnati’s campaign wanted The Caucus, and reporters Brad Bumsted, and Angela Couloumbis to pay its accounting firm $5,070 for producing and copying public records that documented questionable campaign spending by Scarati. It also wanted the trio to pay $1,000 in attorneys’ fees and court costs. But Magisterial District Court Judge Jacqueline Mizerock ruled Scarnati’s campaign, not the journalists, should be on the hook for the costs the accounting firm incurred.
Rhode Island – Speaker Mattiello Isn’t the One on Trial for Money Laundering Today. But His Reputation Could Be.
Boston Globe – Edward Fitzpatrick | Published: 10/4/2020
Little-known Democratic political operative Jeffrey Britt is on trial for money laundering and making an illegal campaign contribution, but much of the focus will be on someone who is not on trial: House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello. Britt’s lawyer says Leo Skenyon, Mattiello’s chief of staff, told Britt to persuade a defeated Republican candidate to endorse Mattiello instead of the candidate from her own party who was seeking to unseat the speaker in 2016. Britt has pleaded not guilty to the charge he illegally funneled money to her to pay for a mailer that carried her endorsement. If Skenyon knew what he was doing, Britt maintains, then so did the Mattiello campaign. Of the three men, only Britt is charged. But Britt’s attorney is determined to put Mattiello on trial.
South Carolina – High Court Reinstates S. Carolina Ballot Witness Requirement
Associated Press News – Jessica Gresko | Published: 10/6/2020
The U.S. Supreme Court reinstated a requirement that South Carolina residents voting by mail in November’s election get a witness to sign their ballots. Democrats had sought to have the requirement put on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic, but Republicans had defended it as deterring fraud. While the high court reinstated the requirement as a lawsuit over it proceeds, voters have already started returning ballots. More than 200,000 absentee ballots have been mailed and 18,000 returned, according to the state’s election commission. The court said any ballots cast before the court’s action on October 5 “and received within two days of this order may not be rejected for failing to comply with the witness requirement.”
Texas – Gov. Greg Abbott Limits Counties to One Absentee Ballot Drop-Off Location, Bolstering GOP Efforts to Restrict Voting
Texas Tribune – Emma Platoff | Published: 10/1/2020
Gov. Greg Abbott threw the weight of his office behind Republican efforts to limit options for Texas voters who want to hand-deliver their completed absentee ballots for the November election, a rebuke to some large, Democratic counties that have set up multiple drop-off locations in what they call an effort to maximize voter convenience. The governor issued a proclamation directing counties to designate just one location for ballot drop-offs and allowing political parties to install poll watchers to observe the process. With the U.S. Postal Service warning of potential delays, many Texans are eager to deliver their completed absentee ballots in person.
Texas – Texas Supreme Court Rules Harris County Cannot Mail Out Ballot Applications to All Registered Voters
CNN – Ashley Killough and Veronica Stracqualursi | Published: 10/7/2020
The Texas Supreme Court ruled Harris County, one of the largest in the country, cannot mail out applications for absentee ballots to all of its 2.4 million registered voters. The ruling is the latest blow for Democrats and voting rights groups who have pushed for Texas to expand vote-by-mail access amid the coronavirus pandemic. Republicans have blocked their efforts in favor of stricter measures that they argue ensure the integrity of the electoral process. The decision blocks Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins from sending out applications for mail-in ballots to every registered voter in the county even if they may be ineligible for absentee voting, including in Houston, the state’s largest city and a Democratic stronghold.
Washington DC – Mayor Bowser Has $219,000 in Her Fund for Needy Residents. During the Pandemic, She Has Given $0.
Washington Post – Fenit Nirappil | Published: 10/5/2020
District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser and city council Chairperson Phil Mendelson have not made a single donation this year from the special charitable funds they control, even as the coronavirus pandemic has left thousands of city residents jobless and businesses scrambling to stay afloat. Bowser has $219,000 in her constituent services fund, while Mendelson has nearly $136,000, mostly from leftover campaign money. Six other council members have accumulated a total of $39,000 but spent only $7,000 since the virus arrived in the region in March. Watchdogs, who have long criticized the constituent service program because it allows individuals and special-interest groups to give money to politicians outside of campaign season, say there is no shortage of organizations and residents in need of financial assistance, and elected officials should be more proactive.
West Virginia – WV State Ed Official Urged SAT Seller to Hire Former GOP Chairman to ‘Neutralize’ ACT Lobbyist
Charleston Gazette-Mail – Ryan Quinn | Published: 10/2/2020
West Virginia’s assistant schools superintendent for testing successfully urged the seller of the SAT test to hire the state Republican Party’s former chairperson as a lobbyist. Assistant Superintendent Jan Barth said Conrad Lucas would, as she put it in an email, “neutralize” a lobbyist for the competing ACT test. This means Barth, who oversees statewide learning standards, in addition to standardized testing, recommended the hiring of a legislative representative for an organization, the College Board, that is paid roughly $1 million annually by Barth’s agency. The College Board might seek to extend that contract in the future.
October 8, 2020 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance Maryland: “Can Public Campaign Financing Improve Government? Baltimore County Executive, Activists Start Campaign to Convince Voters.” by Alison Knezevich for Baltimore Sun New York: “Rochester, New York, Mayor Indicted on 2 Felony Campaign Finance Charges” by Gary Craig […]
Maryland: “Can Public Campaign Financing Improve Government? Baltimore County Executive, Activists Start Campaign to Convince Voters.” by Alison Knezevich for Baltimore Sun
New York: “Rochester, New York, Mayor Indicted on 2 Felony Campaign Finance Charges” by Gary Craig and Tony Sharp (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle) for USA Today
Oregon: “After Wheeler’s $150,000 Loan, Iannarone Campaign Takes City Auditor to Court to Enforce Self-Funding Limits” by Rebecca Ellis for OPB
Pennsylvania: “Chester County District Judge Siphoned $4K From His Campaign Fund to Feed a Gambling Habit, AG Says” by Vinny Vella for Philadelphia Inquirer
Ohio: “Federal Judge Thinks LaRose Has Permitted Off-Site Ballot Collection Sites in Ohio, Dismisses Drop Box Lawsuit. But Is He Right?” by Andrew Tobias for Cleveland Plain Dealer
Missouri: “St. Louis Husband and Wife Who Pointed Guns at Protesters Indicted on Firearms Charges” by Tim Stelloh for NBC News
New York: “Appeals Court Rejects Trump Effort to Shield Financial Records” by Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney for Politico
Pennsylvania: “Judge Dismisses Suit by Top Pa. Senator’s Campaign Against Spotlight PA Journalist, Others” by Mike Wereschagin (The Caucus) for Philadelphia Inquirer
Washington DC: “Mayor Bowser Has $219,000 in Her Fund for Needy Residents. During the Pandemic, She Has Given $0.” by Fenit Nirappil for Washington Post
Missouri: “Amid Accusations of Insider Politics, Parson Campaign Rents Space from Lobbyists” by Kurt Erickson for St. Louis Post-Dispatch