August 3, 2020 •

Monday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance Hawaii: “Alleged Oahu Crime Boss’ Nightclub Was a Popular Place for Political Fundraisers” by Nick Grube for Honolulu Star Advertiser Elections Idaho: “Supreme Court Halts Idaho Online Signatures for Initiative” by Keith Ridler (Associated Press) for Jacksonville Journal […]

Campaign Finance

Hawaii: “Alleged Oahu Crime Boss’ Nightclub Was a Popular Place for Political Fundraisers” by Nick Grube for Honolulu Star Advertiser

Elections

Idaho: “Supreme Court Halts Idaho Online Signatures for Initiative” by Keith Ridler (Associated Press) for Jacksonville Journal Courier

Ethics

National: “DHS Compiled ‘Intelligence Reports’ on Journalists Who Published Leaked Documents” by Shane Harris (Washington Post) for MSN

National: “Full Appeals Court Agrees to Wade into Michael Flynn Case” by Eric Tucker for Associated Press News

National: “Misuse of Taxpayer Funds Leads Ethics Committee to Reprimand and Fine Rep. Schweikert” by Chris Marquette for Roll Call

Canada: “Trudeau Defends Work on Contract Now Engulfing His Government” by Andy Blatchford for Politico

California: “Charges Added to LA City Councilman in Corruption Probe” by Nathan Solis for Courthouse News Service

Maryland: “Judge Sentences Former Baltimore Del. Cheryl Glenn to 2 Years, Says She ‘Sold Her Office to Pay the Bills’” by Jessica Anderson for Baltimore Sun

Lobbying

Florida: “Florida Commission on Ethics Lifts NRA Lobbyist Marion Hammer Off the Hook” by Dan Christensen for Florida Bulldog

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July 31, 2020 •

News You Can Use Digest – July 31, 2020

News You Can Use

National/Federal Chris Christie Cashes in On Coronavirus Lobbying Politico – Theodoric Meyer and Adam Cancryn | Published: 7/23/2020 Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is making big money from businesses trying to tap coronavirus relief funds from the federal government. His […]

National/Federal

Chris Christie Cashes in On Coronavirus Lobbying
Politico – Theodoric Meyer and Adam Cancryn | Published: 7/23/2020

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is making big money from businesses trying to tap coronavirus relief funds from the federal government. His firm pulled in $240,000 in less than three months for lobbying the Trump administration on coronavirus aid on behalf of three New Jersey hospital systems and a Tennessee-based chain of addiction treatment centers. Christie is hardly the first former governor to land on K Street. But it is unusual for a former presidential candidate who has not ruled out running again to become a lobbyist, especially without joining a major Washington firm, Christie appears to be leaning on his ties to the administration as he makes his way on K Street.

Cities, Advocates Sue Trump to Block Census Immigrant Memo
Roll Call – Michael Macagnone | Published: 7/24/2020

President Trump’s attempt to exclude undocumented immigrants from census figures that will be used to determine congressional apportionment has been challenged in federal court, the first of what experts believe could be many legal battles for the administration’s order. Common Cause, along with and other plaintiffs, filed a lawsuit arguing Trump’s effort “flouts the plain language of the constitution” and tries to do with a memorandum what should take a constitutional amendment. The complaint tied the memorandum to Trump’s previous effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census and a broader strategy to “manipulate the census and apportionment process to deprive immigrants and racial and ethnic minorities of political power.”

Democrats Investigating Why White House Ended Ban on Some Gun Silencer Sales
New York Times – Kenneth Vogel | Published: 7/28/2020

Congressional Democrats said they were investigating the Trump administration’s decision to lift a ban on firearm silencer sales to foreign private buyers that had been enacted to prevent the devices from being used against American troops. Democrats are focusing in part on the involvement of Michael Williams, a White House lawyer who had worked for two years for a trade group representing silencer manufacturers that had lobbied to overturn the ban. The administration move paved the way for as much as $250 million a year in possible new foreign sales for companies that Williams had championed as general counsel of the American Suppressor Association.

Dems Rebuke Culture of Sexism in Defense of Ocasio-Cortez
Politico – Caitlin Oprysko and Sarah Ferris | Published: 7/23/2020

More than a dozen House Democrats lined up recently to support U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the floor of the chamber, issuing a chain of rebukes to U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho for aggressively confronting the New York Democrat outside of the Capitol. Ocasio-Cortez recounted the confrontation with Yoho, which was witnessed by a reporter, in a speech lamenting the incident as an outgrowth of a toxic and sexist culture that some lawmakers still perpetuate on Capitol Hill.

DeVos Aide Played Role in Helping Failing For-Profit Colleges, Texts and Emails Show
Washington Post – Danielle Douglas-Gabriel | Published: 7/28/2020

For the past year, the Education Department has denied a top official went out of her way to help Dream Center Education Holdings, owner of the Art Institutes, South University, and Argosy University, as the company spiraled into insolvency. But a batch of text messages, emails, and letters shed new light on Dream Center’s relationship with Diane Auer Jones, the head of higher education policy at the department, and her efforts to help the company regain accreditation at two of its schools. The Trump administration had a keen interest in staving off the collapse of the troubled chain of for-profit colleges, even though congressional investigators found Dream Center deceptively enrolled students at campuses that had lost accreditation and raked in taxpayer money in the process.

How the Republican National Convention Came Undone
MSN – Michael Scherer, Josh Dawsey, and Annie Linskey (Washington Post) | Published: 7/24/2020

The chaotic unraveling of the Republican presidential nomination convention bears many of the hallmarks of the tumultuous Trump presidency: the public dismissal of scientific expertise, allegations of political conspiracy, and advisers run ragged to carry out a task that was next to impossible from the start. Even as Democrats began to rethink their event last spring, GOP planners moved forward at Trump’s urging. But ultimately, the rising coronavirus caseload, and the political cost of forcing risky behavior on thousands just months before the election, proved too great. Advisers convinced Trump that canceling the convention could help him politically as he tries to pay closer attention to the pandemic.

‘I’m Going to Answer the Damn Question’: Barr, House Democrats face off over Portland, politicization
USA Today – Kristine Phillips and Kevin Johnson | Published: 7/28/2020

Attorney General William Barr’s recent testimony before the House Judiciary Committee Barr came as Democrats investigate alleged political interference at the Justice Department, claiming the attorney general has turned it into a political annex of the Trump White House. The hearing touched on a year’s worth of grievances, from the widely criticized rollout of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report in 2019, to interference in criminal investigations involving Trump’s allies, to the controversial ouster of Manhattan’s chief federal prosecutor, to the use of force against protesters in Portland and at Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C.

Kimberly Guilfoyle Under Fire for Trump Fundraising Disarray
Politico – Alex Isenstadt | Published: 7/23/2020

There is upheaval within the fundraising unit that Kimberly Guilfoyle oversees, which is primarily responsible for cultivating networks of donors who cut checks in increments up to $2,800 fort President Trump’s reelection. Interviews with nearly a dozen Republicans familiar with the campaign’s fundraising depict an operation beset by departures, staffers with no prior fundraising experience, and accusations of irresponsible spending. There are growing concerns among senior Republicans about whether the dysfunction within Guilfoyle’s team is translating into money left on the table for what has become an uphill fight for a second term.

Pelosi Mandates Wearing Masks on the House Floor After Gohmert Case
Politico – Heather Cayglde and Sarah Ferris | Published: 7/29/2020

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would now require all members to wear masks on the House floor after U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert tested positive for the coronavirus. Lawmakers are currently encouraged to wear masks in the chamber and required to wear them in committee rooms, although some Republicans openly defy that rule and have yet to be punished. Gohmert, who frequently refuses to wear a mask around the Capitol, tested positive during a pre-screening by the White Houser before a scheduled flight with President Trump to Texas, news that quickly reverberated across Capitol Hill.

Political Donors Whose Businesses Got PPP Loans Injected $52 Million into 2020 Election
Center for Responsive Politics – Karl Evers-Hillstrom | Published: 7/23/2020

Government rescue loans meant for struggling small businesses went to a number of well-connected firms whose executives are major contributors to lawmakers’ campaigns and political parties. Employees and PACs connected to firms that received loans under the Paycheck Protection Program, and in some cases the companies themselves, contributed at least $52 million to federal committees during the 2020 election cycle. Republicans and conservative groups got $27 million from these donors, while Democrats and liberal groups received $24 million. Powerful lobbying firms, hedge funds, and real estate companies received aid while tens of thousands of small businesses closed for good.

Politics at the Point of a Gun
Washington Post – Joshua Partlow | Published: 7/28/2020

Across the country, conservative armed civilians have surged into public view – marching on statehouses, challenging Black Lives Matter protests, chasing Internet rumors – and bringing the threat of lethal force to local politics. Their emergence has prompted congressional hearings on the surge in anti-government militias and domestic extremism and has alarmed researchers who track hate groups. In the pandemic stay-at-home orders, they see government overreach that restricts their freedoms and harms their businesses. Many members of these armed groups consider this pre-election period a defining moment. In the months of volatile street protests, they see local authorities who lost the nerve to confront violent agitators.

The Husband Is a Top Public Health Official. The Wife Does Lobbying. She Deleted a Tweet That Showed Them Together at a Public Event.
BuzzFeed News – Paul McLeod | Published: 7/27/2020

The wife of the second-ranking official at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) appeared with her husband during an official business trip at a time she was being paid to lobby the department. Emily Hargan tweeted a photo from a July 10 press conference at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center centered around a visit by her husband, HHS Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan. She has since deleted the tweet. Emily Hargan has been paid by three healthcare companies to lobby HHS. All three contracts were still active on the day she appeared with her husband on an official business trip. She has no lobbying disclosures before her HHS work in June of this year.

Trump Campaign Accused of Using ‘Pass-Through’ Vendors to Obscure $170 Million in Payments
ABC News – Soo Rin Kim and Will Steakin | Published: 7/28/2020

A watchdog group accused President Trump’s reelection campaign of obscuring nearly $170 million worth of campaign spending through “pass-through” vendors linked to campaign leadership instead of disclosing the true recipients of the funds. In an FEC complaint, the Campaign Legal Center said American Made Media Consultants and Parscale Strategy, two companies set up and by run by campaign leadership, including former campaign manager Brad Parscale, have been disguised as providing a variety of services to the campaign, when in reality they have essentially served as “clearing house” firms that dole out contracts and payments to various subcontractors and vendors without revealing the ultimate recipients of the donor money.

Trump’s Assault on Election Integrity Forces Question: What would happen if he refused to accept a loss?
Anchorage Daily News – Elise Viebeck and Robert Costa (Washington Post) | Published: 7/22/2020

President Trump’s unwillingness to commit to a smooth transition of power has forced academics and political leaders to contemplate possible scenarios if loses the election in November. The resulting turmoil could surpass the contention over the outcome of the 2000 presidential election, confounding the legal system, Congress, and the public’s faith in how the country picks its leaders. Such a crisis could also have long-lasting consequences for a nation that has already been rocked this year by the coronavirus pandemic, an economic collapse, and a reckoning over racial injustice.

Wealthy Donors Pour Millions into Fight Over Mail-In Voting
AP News – Brian Slodysko and Thomas Beaumont | Published: 7/27/2020

Wealthy and often anonymous donors are pouring over $100 million into an intensifying dispute about whether it should be easier to vote by mail, a fight that could determine President Trump’s fate in the November election. In the battleground of Wisconsin, cash-strapped cities have received $6.3 million from an organization with ties to left-wing philanthropy to help expand vote by mail. Meanwhile, a well-funded conservative group best known for its focus on judicial appointments is spending heavily to fight cases related to mail-in balloting procedures in court. That is just a small slice of the overall spending, which is likely to swell far higher as the election nears.

Canada

Canada Trudeau Strains to Contain Political Scandal Engulfing His Family
Politico – Andy Blatchford | Published: 7/24/2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, is embroiled in another controversy of his own making that is inflicting political damage on him and his administration. He is struggling to contain the rapid spread of a firestorm sparked by his plan to award a sole-source contract to a powerful charity and fueled by revelations that members of his family have been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees by the organization over the past half-decade. The dustup also threatens to cost Trudeau his trusted finance minister. The public and parliamentary reaction in Canada to the news and further revelations of speaking fees and travel expenses paid to family members of Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau has been swift and harsh.

From the States and Municipalities

Arizona GOP Asks Supreme Court to Reinstate Arizona Voting Rules Deemed Racially Biased
The Hill – John Kruzel | Published: 7/29/2020

Arizona Republicans asked the U.S. Supreme Court for permission to revive a pair of voting restrictions, struck down by a lower court as racially discriminatory, that could make it harder for people of color to cast ballots in the battleground state this fall. In its ruling siding with Democratic challengers, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals went so far as to conclude that one of the two voting rules under review was intentionally designed to discriminate against people of color. In their Supreme Court petition, Arizona Republicans argue the Ninth Circuit was wrong to invalidate the restrictions, which they say are needed to protect the integrity of the vote.

California A San Jose Commission Will Decide on Strong Mayor, Moving Mayoral Elections
San Jose Spotlight – Carly Wipf | Published: 7/28/2020

Just one month after the plan was devised, San Jose leaders have scrapped a November 2020 ballot measure that could have awarded Mayor Sam Liccardo considerably more power and two extra years in office. Instead, the Charter Review Commission was created to help decide whether San Jose should adopt a strong mayor system, whether mayoral elections should be aligned with presidential elections, and campaign finance reforms, including prohibiting contributions from lobbyists and requiring lawmakers to recuse themselves from votes involving organizations that have donated $250 or more to their campaigns.

California Developers Allegedly Bribed an L.A. Councilman. What Happens to Their Building Plans?
Los Angeles Times – Emily Alpert Reyes | Published: 7/27/2020

Federal officials have charged Los Angeles City Councilperson Jose Huizar in an ongoing “pay-to-play” probe, accusing him of running a criminal enterprise fueled by bribes from real estate developers seeking to build in his downtown district. It is unclear, however, what might happen to the as-yet unbuilt skyscrapers planned by the executives who allegedly provided those bribes. Several council members have called for the city to reassess approvals for real estate projects mentioned in the criminal case, arguing the building plans have been tainted by the scandal.

California Former L.A. County Assessor John Noguez Again Faces Corruption Charges
Los Angeles Times – Matt Hamilton | Published: 7/28/2020

The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office refiled charges against former county Assessor John Noguez, reviving the long-running bribery and public corruption case after an appellate court ordered its dismissal on a technical violation. In the new complaint, prosecutors accused Noguez, along with Mark McNeil, a top official in the assessor’s office, and tax consultant Ramin Salari of participating in a scheme in which Noguez would accept bribes to illegally lower the values of properties across greater Los Angeles so Salari’s clients would pay less in taxes.

Florida NRA Lobbyist Marion Hammer Takes on First Amendment in Appeal
Tampa Bay Times – Dara Kam | Published: 7/29/2020

A federal appeals court appeared skeptical of prominent National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer’s arguments in a lawsuit stemming from graphic emails she received following the February 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle dismissed Hammer’s claims against attorney Lawrence Sorensen, who sent two emails to Hammer that included photos showing injuries from gunshot wounds. The judge’s ruling came four months after Hammer filed a lawsuit against Sorensen and three other unrelated men because of emails she received. As Florida lawmakers considered legislation in the aftermath of the school shooting, Hammer lobbied against measures that would restrict gun owners’ rights.

Georgia Georgia Senator Is Criticized for Ad Enlarging Jewish Opponent’s Nose
MSN – Rick Rojas (New York Times) | Published: 7/27/2020

U.S. Sen. David Perdue of Georgia has taken down a digital campaign ad featuring a manipulated picture of his Democratic opponent Jon Ossoff, who is Jewish, with an enlarged nose. Before being removed, the Facebook ad showed grainy pictures of Ossoff and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, who is also Jewish. “Democrats are trying to buy Georgia!” the ad said, adding that Schumer had poured millions of dollars into the race. Perdue’s campaign said the alteration had been an outside vendor’s error. But critics said it reflected something more insidious, arguing the campaign had employed imagery long used to malign Jews at a time when a rising tide of anti-Semitism in the country has seeped into politics.

Illinois Feds Subpoena AT&T as Part of Investigation into Speaker Madigan and Lobbying
Chicago Tribune – Jason Meisner, Hal Dardick, Jamie Munks, and Ray Long | Published: 7/23/2020

AT&T has been subpoenaed by federal prosecutors amid a widening criminal probe encircling Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s political operation. The subpoena is part of an inquiry into whether companies improperly used a stable of consultants with ties to Madigan as they pushed for legislation in Springfield. The revelation comes after prosecutors asked Madigan’s office for “any and all documents and communications” concerning AT&T, including contracts and correspondence related to the hiring of anyone to provide consulting or lobbying services to the public utility.

Maine Maine Lawmakers Want Hydro-Quebec to Stop Trying to Influence Voters on CMP Corridor
Bangor Daily News – Lori Valigra | Published: 7/29/2020

A group of 25 current and former Maine lawmakers wrote a letter to Quebec’s premier and Hydro-Quebec’s chief executive officer asking that they stop trying to influence the outcome of a referendum this November on Central Maine Power’s (CMP) proposed $1 billion hydropower corridor. So far, Clean Energy Matters, a CMP-linked group, and Hydro-Quebec have spent close to $14.7 million to promote the corridor. The lawmakers said they are concerned Hydro-Quebec is exploiting a loophole in Maine ethics laws they sought to close when the pandemic hit and the Legislature adjourned abruptly in March. A bill would prohibit contributions, expenditures, and participation by foreign nationals to influence referendum questions.

Maryland Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby Asks Inspector General’s Office to Investigate Her Travel, Businesses
Baltimore Sun – Jessica Anderson | Published: 7/23/2020

Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby asked the city Inspector general’s office to investigate her travel and financial disclosures. It is unusual for an official to seek an investigation of themselves, but the move comes as Mosby weathers criticism of her trips and business arrangements. The request comes after Mosby filed financial disclosure statements with the State Ethics Commission, which revealed she traveled at least 20 times for events over the past two years, including trips abroad. Most of the travel, which totaled in the tens of thousands of dollars, was paid for by outside organizations.

Maryland Montgomery Chief Administrative Officer Andrew Kleine Fined for Ethics Violation, But Officials Want More Action
Washington Post – Rebecca Tan | Published: 7/29/2020

Montgomery County lawmakers are calling for greater disciplinary action against Chief Administrative Officer Andrew Kleine, who admitted to violating an ethics law by using public dollars to promote a book he wrote and maintaining business relationships with two companies that landed county contracts shortly after he took his job. Kleine, who is the top aide to County Executive Marc Elrich, agreed to pay a $5,000 fine for the ethics violations. Some county council members say the fine is not sufficient.

Michigan Mystery Money Fuels Campaign to Limit Whitmer’s Emergency Powers
Detroit News – Craig Mauger | Published: 7/27/2020

The group collecting petitions to limit Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency powers is primarily being funded by a nonprofit that does not have to disclose its donors. Michigan Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility, an organization with ties to Senate Republicans, gave $660,200 to Unlock Michigan from June 9 through July 20. Unlock Michigan is the ballot committee that wants to repeal a 1945 law that allows the governor to declare a state of emergency and keep the declaration in place without input or approval from the Legislature. The group’s board has also featured employees of a consulting firm that works with Senate Republicans. The nonprofit is listed at the same address as the consulting firm in Lansing.

Missouri Documents Say Political Consultants Tied to Mantovani Tried to Help Polish Stenger Lies about Northwest Plaza
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Jeremy Kohler | Published: 7/25/2020

Two political consultants working to support Mark Mantovani’s bid for St. Louis County executive were part of an effort in 2018 by advisors to the former executive, Steve Stenger, to mislead the public about the cost of a real estate deal involving some of Stenger’s biggest campaign donors. County officials submitted statements to the county council’s ethics committee in 2019 as part of a probe into the county’s lease for office space in the former Northwest Plaza in St. Ann. A newspaper investigation would reveal the lease was far more costly than previously known, sparking an inquiry by the ethics committee. Those hearings revealed how Stenger circumvented procurement staff by placing political appointees in charge of lease negotiations. The owners of the site were among his largest campaign supporters.

Missouri Marijuana Licensing Woes Dog Missouri’s Governor
Politico – Mona Zhang | Published: 7/27/2020

After Missouri voted to legalize medical marijuana in November 2018, the state’s new governor, Mike Parson, moved quickly to certify tens of thousands of patients and begin licensing cannabis businesses. But what seemed at first to be an easy source of voter satisfaction and a new cache of revenue to the state has boomeranged badly. A flood of complaints led to state and federal corruption probes that now threaten Parson’s 2020 campaign. The governor’s friend and fundraiser, Steve Tilley, is at the center of the probes. He represented clients who appeared to receive a boost in the licensing process.

Missouri PAC Money to Page from Lobbyist Under FBI Scrutiny Draws Interest in St. Louis County Executive Race
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Jack Suntrup | Published: 7/23/2020

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page last year accepted $2,049 in campaign contributions from a PAC tied to a Jefferson City lobbyist and company under FBI investigation in Kansas City. The contribution came the month after Page lent his support to a low-income housing project in Dellwood that listed Gardner Capital as its developer, and whose financial backers are the Centene Charitable Foundation and Sterling Bank. The project developers were seeking $615,000 in annual low-income housing tax credits and ultimately won approval. Gardner Capital, Sterling Bank, and Centene Corp. all retain the same lobbyist, Steve Tilley, who also is a former Missouri House speaker. It has been reported the FBI was investigating Gardner Capital and Tilley, among others, in a possible “pay-to-play” scheme in Independence.

New Jersey Gannett Reporter Faces Ethics Questions After Repeated Asks of N.J. Governor About Indoor Dining
New Jersey Globe – David Wildstein | Published: 7/24/2020

Dustin Racioppi is a statehouse reporter for The Bergen Record. He also moonlights as a bartender at Murphy’s Tavern, an old speakeasy and restaurant that is owned by his wife. Occasionally, the two jobs intersect, and alarm bells go off about a potential conflict-of-interest. As a reporter, part of Racioppi’s job is to cover Gov. Phil Murphy and the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Racioppi frequently peppers Murphy with questions about the reopening of indoor restaurant dining but has not publicly disclosed the governor’s decision to close eating establishments, including his own, has had an effect on his family’s personal income.

New Jersey Trump Keeps Touting New Jersey Fraud Case to Attack Mail Voting. Local Leaders Say He’s Not Telling the Whole Story.
MSN – Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) | Published: 7/26/2020

Days before the citizens of Paterson, New Jersey, selected new members of their city council in May, a postal employee in a neighboring town spotted something suspicious in a local post office: 347 mail-in ballots, bundled together. Four men, including a city councilperson, have been charged with fraud. The county election board disqualified 19 percent of ballots cast in the race. The episode probably would have remained a local dust-up but for the interest of President Trump, who has attacked voting by mail as susceptible to massive fraud. But those involved in the Paterson case said the president is vastly oversimplifying what took place in a local election, using it to serve his own political purposes and overstating the extent to which problems in their city serve as some kind of national cautionary tale.

New York Trump Lawyers Renew Legal Assault on Tax Records Subpoena
AP News – Larry Neumeister | Published: 7/27/2020

President Trump’s lawyers filed fresh arguments to try to block a criminal subpoena for his tax records, saying it was issued in bad faith, might have been politically motivated, and calling it a harassment of the president. Attorneys filed a rewritten lawsuit in Manhattan federal court to challenge the subpoena by a state prosecutor on grounds they believe conform with how the U.S. Supreme Court said the subpoena can be contested. The high court ruled Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. could subpoena tax records from Trump’s accountant over his objections.

North Dakota North Dakota Ethics Commission Requests Attorney General Opinion; Bill Drafts in Works for 2021
Bismarck Tribune – Jack Dura | Published: 7/23/2020

The North Dakota Ethics Commission is asking for a state attorney general opinion amid its rulemaking process. Commission Executive Director David Thiele said the agency is seeking clarification on “our authority to expand on the definition of ‘lobbyist’ as it relates to gifts.” A time frame for receiving an opinion is unclear. North Dakota voters in 2018 approved the Ethics Commission in a constitutional initiative that also included a lobbyist gift prohibition that takes effect in January. Related rules are to be adopted by then. The 2019 Legislature passed Republican majority leaders’ framework for implementing the measure.

Ohio Bribery Case Shines Light on Ohio’s Campaign Finance Laws, Nonprofits
Toledo Blade – Jim Provance | Published: 7/25/2020

U.S. Attorney David DeVillers outlined a scheme by which authorities allege Ohio’s largest utility company used a series of nonprofit entities to funnel millions of dollars to the benefit of Columbus lawmakers who eventually approved a $1 billion citizen-backed bailout of the state’s nuclear power industry. But neither Ohio nor federal campaign finance laws currently require such disclosure by nonprofits. Such secrecy has long obscured the extent to which money influences politics in the Buckeye State, but it appears to be under newfound scrutiny as taxpayers take stock of the sweeping racketeering and bribery probe. Gov. Mike DeWine now says he would support closing that “dark-money” loophole in the law.

Ohio Criminal Charges Against Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder Echo Past Pay-to-Play Allegations
MSN – Sabrina Eaton (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 7/28/2020

More than a decade before Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder’s July 21 arrest in a federal bribery probe of the state’s nuclear bailout law, his aggressive fundraising practices came under law enforcement scrutiny. But no charges resulted from that case. According to previous news reports, Householder’s operatives raised millions of dollars for him and House Republicans by threatening to withhold financial support from those who did not vote with Householder on key pieces of legislation. The reporting also revealed allegations they strong-armed members to embrace no-new-taxes pledges, using political nonprofits to wage campaigns against Democrats and uncooperative Republican primary opponents.

Ohio Householder Probe Generates Campaign Cash Problem for House Republicans
Cincinnati Enquirer – Jessie Balmert | Published: 7/29/2020

Without Speaker Larry Householder’s fundraising operation, Ohio House Republicans find themselves in a disastrous financial spot heading into competitive fall races. With fewer than 100 days until the November election, House Republicans’ campaign fund should total millions of dollars, GOP campaign operatives said. But the House Republican Campaign Committee’s (HRCC) latest financial report shows $384,000 and the current total could be even less. That is because House Republicans’ campaigns, by and large, were not bankrolled by the HRCC. Instead, money flowed through Householder’s personal campaign fund and “dark money” groups to elect Republicans loyal to the speaker.

Ohio Ohio House Ousts Top Leader After Arrest in Bribery Scheme
AP News – Farnoush Amiri | Published: 7/30/2020

The Ohio House ousted its speaker as the chamber’s top leader in a historic, unanimous, and bipartisan vote after he was charged in an alleged $60 million bribery scheme. Rep. Larry Householder is the first Ohio House speaker ever removed by lawmakers. For now, he still retains his seat in the Legislature. Remaining members of Householder’s leadership team had said he deserves the presumption of innocence but “lost the trust of his colleagues and the public” and could not effectively lead the House

Pennsylvania Former Congressman Ozzie Myers Caught in 1970s Abscam Sting Has Been Indicted Again – This Time for Election Fraud
MSN – Jeremy Roebuck (Philadelphia Inquirer) | Published: 7/23/2020

Former U.S. Rep. Michael Myers, previously sent to prison in the 1970s Abscam investigation, was charged with new allegations that he bribed a poll worker to stuff ballot boxes in local elections in Philadelphia. Federal prosecutors allege Myers, now working as a campaign consultant, paid a judge of elections to fraudulently add votes to candidates who had hired him to represent him in their races between 2014 and 2016. Prosecutors did not say whether those candidates went on to win their elections or whether the votes added by DeMuro, who pleaded guilty to similar charges in March, were decisive in tipping the outcome.

Rhode Island RI Supreme Court Justice Wins Appeal of $200 Ethics Violation
WPRI – Eli Sherman and Walt Bateau | Published: 7/27/2020

A Superior Court judge overturned the Rhode Island Ethics Commission’s decision to fine state Supreme Court Justice Francis Flaherty $200 for failing to disclose that he was president of a Catholic legal group while ruling on a priest sexual abuse case. Judge Brian Stern concluded the commission failed to show Flaherty’s actions were “deliberate or intentional” or that he was aware he needed to list his position as president of the St. Thomas More Society of Rhode Island on his yearly financial statements.

Tennessee Former House Speaker Glen Casada Pays $10,500 Fine with Money from Political Action Committee
The Tennessean – Joel Ebert | Published: 7/28/2020

Former Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada skirted around state law to use campaign money held by his PAC to pay a civil penalty of $10,500 levied fine by the Registry of Election Finance. Using money maintained in a candidate’s personal campaign account to pay off a fine is illegal under Tennessee law. The law, however, only applies to candidates’ campaign committees and not PACs controlled by candidates, said Bill Young, executive director of the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance. “The law is silent on PACs,” Young said.

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July 30, 2020 •

Thursday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance Ohio: “Householder Probe Generates Campaign Cash Problem for House Republicans” by Jessie Balmert for Cincinnati Enquirer Tennessee: “Former House Speaker Glen Casada Pays $10,500 Fine with Money from Political Action Committee” by Joel Ebert for The Tennessean Elections […]

Campaign Finance

Ohio: “Householder Probe Generates Campaign Cash Problem for House Republicans” by Jessie Balmert for Cincinnati Enquirer

Tennessee: “Former House Speaker Glen Casada Pays $10,500 Fine with Money from Political Action Committee” by Joel Ebert for The Tennessean

Elections

Arizona: “GOP Asks Supreme Court to Reinstate Arizona Voting Rules Deemed Racially Biased” by John Kruzel for The Hill

California: “A San Jose Commission Will Decide on Strong Mayor, Moving Mayoral Elections” by Carly Wipf for San Jose Spotlight

New Jersey: “Trump Keeps Touting New Jersey Fraud Case to Attack Mail Voting. Local Leaders Say He’s Not Telling the Whole Story.” by Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) for MSN

Ethics

National: “Politics at the Point of a Gun” by Joshua Partlow for Washington Post

National: “‘I’m Going to Answer the Damn Question’: Barr, House Democrats face off over Portland, politicization” by Kristine Phillips and Kevin Johnson for USA Today

California: “Former L.A. County Assessor John Noguez Again Faces Corruption Charges” by Matt Hamilton for Los Angeles Times

Lobbying

National: “Democrats Investigating Why White House Ended Ban on Some Gun Silencer Sales” by Kenneth Vogel for New York Times

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July 29, 2020 •

Wednesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance National: “Trump Campaign Accused of Using ‘Pass-Through’ Vendors to Obscure $170 Million in Payments” by Soo Rin Kim and Will Steakin for ABC News Michigan: “Mystery Money Fuels Campaign to Limit Whitmer’s Emergency Powers” by Craig Mauger for […]

Campaign Finance

National: “Trump Campaign Accused of Using ‘Pass-Through’ Vendors to Obscure $170 Million in Payments” by Soo Rin Kim and Will Steakin for ABC News

Michigan: “Mystery Money Fuels Campaign to Limit Whitmer’s Emergency Powers” by Craig Mauger for Detroit News

Elections

Georgia: “Georgia Senator Is Criticized for Ad Enlarging Jewish Opponent’s Nose” by Rick Rojas (New York Times) for MSN

Ethics

National: “DeVos Aide Played Role in Helping Failing For-Profit Colleges, Texts and Emails Show” by Danielle Douglas-Gabriel for Washington Post

California: “Developers Allegedly Bribed an L.A. Councilman. What Happens to Their Building Plans?” by Emily Alpert Reyes for Los Angeles Times

Missouri: “Marijuana Licensing Woes Dog Missouri’s Governor” by Mona Zhang for Politico

New York: “Trump Lawyers Renew Legal Assault on Tax Records Subpoena” by Larry Neumeister for AP News

Ohio: “Criminal Charges Against Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder Echo Past Pay-to-Play Allegations” by Sabrina Eaton (Cleveland Plain Dealer) for MSN

Lobbying

National: “The Husband Is a Top Public Health Official. The Wife Does Lobbying. She Deleted a Tweet That Showed Them Together at a Public Event.” by Paul McLeod for BuzzFeed News

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July 28, 2020 •

Tuesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance National: “Political Donors Whose Businesses Got PPP Loans Injected $52 Million into 2020 Election” by Karl Evers-Hillstrom for Center for Responsive Politics National: “Kimberly Guilfoyle Under Fire for Trump Fundraising Disarray” by Alex Isenstadt for Politico Ohio: “Bribery […]

Campaign Finance

National: “Political Donors Whose Businesses Got PPP Loans Injected $52 Million into 2020 Election” by Karl Evers-Hillstrom for Center for Responsive Politics

National: “Kimberly Guilfoyle Under Fire for Trump Fundraising Disarray” by Alex Isenstadt for Politico

Ohio: “Bribery Case Shines Light on Ohio’s Campaign Finance Laws, Nonprofits” by Jim Provance for Toledo Blade

Elections

National: “Wealthy Donors Pour Millions into Fight Over Mail-In Voting” by Brian Slodysko and Thomas Beaumont for AP News

National: “Cities, Advocates Sue Trump to Block Census Immigrant Memo” by Michael Macagnone for Roll Call

Ethics

Canada: “Trudeau Strains to Contain Political Scandal Engulfing His Family” by Andy Blatchford for Politico

Missouri: “Documents Say Political Consultants Tied to Mantovani Tried to Help Polish Stenger Lies about Northwest Plaza” by Jeremy Kohler for St. Louis Post-Dispatch

New Jersey: “Gannett Reporter Faces Ethics Questions After Repeated Asks of N.J. Governor About Indoor Dining” by David Wildstein for New Jersey Globe

Rhode Island: “Judge Overturns $200 Ethics Fine for R.I. Supreme Court Justice” by Edward Fitzpatrick for Boston Globe

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July 27, 2020 •

Monday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance Missouri: “PAC Money to Page from Lobbyist Under FBI Scrutiny Draws Interest in St. Louis County Executive Race” by Jack Suntrup for St. Louis Post-Dispatch Elections National: “How the Republican National Convention Came Undone” by Michael Scherer, Josh […]

Campaign Finance

Missouri: “PAC Money to Page from Lobbyist Under FBI Scrutiny Draws Interest in St. Louis County Executive Race” by Jack Suntrup for St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Elections

National: “How the Republican National Convention Came Undone” by Michael Scherer, Josh Dawsey, and Annie Linskey (Washington Post) for MSN

National: “Trump’s Assault on Election Integrity Forces Question: What would happen if he refused to accept a loss?” by Elise Viebeck and Robert Costa (Washington Post) for Anchorage Daily News

Pennsylvania: “Former Congressman Ozzie Myers Caught in 1970s Abscam Sting Has Been Indicted Again – This Time for Election Fraud” by Jeremy Roebuck (Philadelphia Inquirer) for MSN

Ethics

National: “Dems Rebuke Culture of Sexism in Defense of Ocasio-Cortez” by Caitlin Oprysko and Sarah Ferris for Politico

Maryland: “Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby Asks Inspector General’s Office to Investigate Her Travel, Businesses” by Jessica Anderson for Baltimore Sun

North Dakota: “North Dakota Ethics Commission Requests Attorney General Opinion; Bill Drafts in Works for 2021” by Jack Dura for Bismarck Tribune

Lobbying

National: “Chris Christie Cashes in On Coronavirus Lobbying” by Theodoric Meyer and Adam Cancryn for Politico

Illinois: “Feds Subpoena AT&T as Part of Investigation into Speaker Madigan and Lobbying” by Jason Meisner, Hal Dardick, Jamie Munks, and Ray Long for Chicago Tribune

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July 24, 2020 •

News You Can Use Digest – July 24, 2020

News You Can Use

National/Federal As Trump Slumps, Republican Donors Look to Save the Senate New York Times – Shane Goldmacher | Published: 7/20/2020 President Trump’s weak poll numbers and a surge of Democratic cash flooding key Senate races have jolted top Republicans and intensified […]

National/Federal

As Trump Slumps, Republican Donors Look to Save the Senate
New York Times – Shane Goldmacher | Published: 7/20/2020

President Trump’s weak poll numbers and a surge of Democratic cash flooding key Senate races have jolted top Republicans and intensified talk among party donors and strategists about redirecting money to protect their narrow Senate Republican majority amid growing fear of complete Democratic control of Washington in 2021. Almost no one is talking openly about abandoning Trump at this point. A total collapse at the top of the ticket, Republican strategists and donors agree, would only make holding the Senate harder. Right now, Senate Republican incumbents and candidates are losing badly in the money chase not just in the top Senate battlegrounds but also in deep red states.

Dan Sullivan, Marco Rubio Pay Tribute to John Lewis Using the Photo of a Different Black Congressman
Anchorage Daily News – Colby Itkowitz (Washington Post) | Published: 7/19/2020

Like many of their colleagues, Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Dan Sullivan posted tributes to U.S. Rep. John Lewis and aimed to include photos of themselves with the civil rights icon who died on July 17. Rubio even made the image his Twitter profile picture. There was just one problem. The photos they each posted were of U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, who died in October.

Ethics Committee Clears Rep. Trahan in Campaign Finance Case
AP News – Steve LeBlanc | Published: 7/17/2020

The House Committee on Ethics cleared U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan following an investigation into allegations she accepted excessive campaign contributions and reported them as personal loans even though they may not have been sourced from her personal funds. The investigation focused on allegations that Trahan’s husband, David Trahan, deposited funds into a joint checking account she then used to make $300,000 in loans to her campaign during the 2018 election. Lawyers for Rep, Trahan argued the funds were her personal funds because the couple signed a premarital agreement under which she and her husband have equal rights to the management of all marital property.

Financially Strapped Trucking Firm Tripled Lobbying Days Before Winning Coronavirus Relief Loan
Roll Call – Jessica Wehrman | Published: 7/21/2020

The trucking company that received a $700 million coronavirus relief loan spent $210,000 on lobbyists in the days before it reached an agreement with the Treasury Department on that loan. The money YRC Worldwide spent on lobbying during the second quarter of 2020 alone was more than three times what it spent on lobbying in 2019 and more than the $140,000 the company spent in 2018 and 2019 combined. Now, a bipartisan congressional panel is criticizing the loan the company received, saying “it is far from clear” that YRC Worldwide is eligible for a lending mechanism originally designed for companies critical to national security, such as Boeing.

GOP Lawmaker Raises Concern Over Lobbyist Gaining Unauthorized Access to Online Hearing Platform
The Hill – James Bikales | Published: 7/16/2020

A former House Democratic aide who was fired after two criminal convictions gained unauthorized access to a virtual Homeland Security subcommittee hearing recently, according to a Republican lawmaker. Isaac Lanier Avant, former chief of staff to Homeland Security Committee Chairperson Bennie Thompson who is now a lobbyist, was on the WebEx platform designated for lawmakers and witnesses for an hour during the hearing, Homeland Security ranking member Mike Rogers said. Avant is a registered lobbyist for private prison company GEO Group, whose chief executive officer George Zoley was testifying at the hearing.

House Lawmakers Agree That Secure Remote Voting Is Possible, but Implementation Still Divides
Roll Call – Katherine Tully-McManus | Published: 7/17/2020

House lawmakers agreed that the chamber could implement a comprehensive and secure electronic remote voting system, but divisions remain over whether such a move, even in the midst of a global health crisis, is prudent. The House Administration Committee heard from the House clerk, a pioneering former speaker, and a roster of academics and business leaders on the technological feasibility of electronic remote voting and keeping it safe from hackers and other bad actors aiming to sow distrust in government. In a historic move, the House made a temporary change to the chamber’s rules to allow for a proxy voting period. It allows lawmakers who do not feel comfortable traveling to Washington because of the pandemic to stay home and still participate in floor votes and committee meetings.

‘It Was Like Being Preyed Upon’: Portland protesters say federal officers in unmarked vans are detaining them
Washington Post – Katie Shepherd | Published: 7/17/2020

Several men in green military fatigues and generic “police” patches sprang out of an unmarked gray minivan in front of Mark Pettibone during a protest in Portland, Oregon. He was detained and searched. They drove him to the federal courthouse and placed him in a holding cell. Two officers read his Miranda rights and asked if Pettibone would waive those rights to answer a few questions; he did not. Almost as suddenly as they had grabbed him off the street, the men let him go. Pettibone said he still does not know who arrested him or whether what happened to him legally qualifies as an arrest. His detention and videos of similar actions by federal officials driving around Portland in unmarked cars have raised alarm bells for many. Legal scholars questioned whether the detentions pass constitutional muster.

Lobbyists Bundle Donations to Senate Democrats, Trump Victory
Roll Call – Kate Ackley | Published: 7/20/2020

Lobbyist bundlers rounded up $250,000 for the Senate Democrats’ campaign arm during the second quarter of this year, even as many of the party’s candidates run against the corporate interests those K Street denizens represent. It highlights how even in a pandemic, advocates trying to influence federal policy are working in support of candidates who may someday vote on it, even though the candidates are keeping their distance from corporate PAC money. Campaigns are only required to disclose bundlers who are registered federal lobbyists, so it is not possible to track the ebb and flow of other people who gather contributions from groups of donors and pool them together, unless campaigns and committees release them voluntarily.

Matt Gaetz Appears to Run Afoul of House Ethics Rules
Politico – Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan | Published: 7/22/2020

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz has privately engaged in several spending practices that appear to conflict with House ethics rules. He improperly sent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to a limited liability company linked to a speech-writing consultant, in direct conflict with the chamber’s rules. A private company installed a television studio in his father’s home, which Gaetz uses when he appears on television. Taxpayers foot the bill to rent the television camera, and the private company that built the studio takes a fee each time he appears on air. It is unclear how much it cost the private company to construct the studio. This may run afoul of the House gift rule, which prohibits a lawmaker from accepting gifts worth more than $50. The official definition of a gift is broad and covers virtually any good or service with monetary value.

Michael Cohen to Be Released from Prison After Judge Sides with Claims of Retaliation
Washington Post – Shayna Jacobs | Published: 7/23/2020

A judge ordered the release from prison of President Trump’s former personal lawyer, saying he believes the government retaliated against him for planning to release a book about Trump before November’s election. Michael Cohen’s First Amendment rights were violated when he was ordered back to prison after probation authorities said he refused to sign a form banning him from publishing the book or communicating publicly in other manners, U.S. District Court Judge Alvin Hellerstein ruled. “I’ve never seen such a clause in 21 years of being a judge and sentencing people and looking at terms of supervised release,” Hellerstein said. “Why would the Bureau of Prisons ask for something like this … unless there was a retaliatory purpose?”

Pandemic Lobbying Tops K Street Agenda, but Spending Dips
Roll Call – Kate Ackley | Published: 7/21/2020

The coronavirus pandemic triggered a whirl of K Street activity during the first half of the year, but nine of the top 10 biggest spenders reported a decrease in their lobbying tabs during the second quarter, indicating a turbulent business environment in the months ahead. The pandemic has disrupted the K Street economy, as it has the rest of the nation’s businesses, thrusting most lobbyists into an all-virtual workspace and creating volatility as the November elections draw closer.

Senators Request Ethics Probe After Ivanka Trump’s Goya Endorsement
Politico – Anita Kumar | Published: 7/21/2020

Days after Ivanka Trump created an uproar for endorsing Goya Foods after its chief executive officer praised her father, a pair of U.S. senators want an investigation into whether she violated federal ethics rules. Sens. Tom Carper and Elizabeth Warren sent a letter to the Office of Government Ethics inquiring about possible disciplinary action for Ivanka Trump, who serves as a senior adviser in the White House. “The timing of her remarks creates the appearance, at least, that praise for Trump Administration officials may elicit later endorsements from these same officials,” according to the senators’ letter.

Tens of Thousands of Mail Ballots Have Been Tossed Out in This Year’s Primaries. What Will Happen in November?
MSN – Elise Viebeck and Michelle Ye Hee Lee (Washington Post) | Published: 7/16/2020

As a resurgence in coronavirus cases portends another possible flood of absentee voting this fall, the issue of rejected ballots has emerged as a serious concern around the country, including in presidential battleground states and those with races that will decide control of the U.S. House and Senate. The rejection of ballots because of mail delays, signature match problems, and errors in completing and sealing the forms could end up disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of people, voting rights advocates warn. It could also fuel doubts about the integrity of the 2020 vote, which President Trump has already claimed without evidence will be “the greatest Rigged Election in history.”

Trump Seeks to Stop Counting Unauthorized Immigrants in Drawing House Districts
MSN – Katie Rogers and Peter Baker (New York Times) | Published: 7/21/2020

President Trump directed the federal government not to count undocumented immigrants when allocating U.S. House districts, a move that critics called a transparent political ploy to help Republicans in violation of the Constitution. The president’s directive would exclude millions of people when determining how many House seats each state should have based on the once-a-decade census, reversing the longstanding policy of counting everyone regardless of citizenship or legal status. The effect would likely shift several seats from Democratic states to Republican states.

Trump’s Request of an Ambassador: Get the British Open for me
MSN – Mark Landler, Lara Jakes, and Maggie Haberman (New York Times) | Published: 7/21/2020

In 2018, President Trump allegedly pressured the U.S. ambassador to Britain, Robert Wood Johnson, to ask the United Kingdom government to relocate the lucrative British Open golf tournament to the president’s Turnberry resort in Scotland. While the ambassador’s deputy warned Johnson such a request would be an ethical violation, Johnson reportedly felt pressured to go forward with it. As president, Trump is immune from a federal statute making conflicts-of-interest involving “government matters that will affect your own personal financial interest” a crime. He is beholden to the emoluments clause of the Constitution prohibiting federal officials from accepting gifts from foreign governments. As recently as 2017, Turnberry posted a seven-figure loss.

Twitter Takedown Targets QAnon Accounts
Hartford Courant – Kate Conger (New York Times) | Published: 7/21/2020

Twitter said it had removed thousands of accounts that spread messages about the conspiracy theories known as QAnon, saying their messages could lead to harm and violated company policy. Twitter said it would also block trends related to the loose network of QAnon conspiracy theories from appearing in its trending topics and search and would not allow users to post links affiliated with the theories on its platform. The QAnon theories stem from an anonymous person or group of people who use the name “Q” and claim to have access to government secrets that reveal a plot against President Trump and his supporters. That supposedly classified information was initially posted on message boards before spreading to mainstream internet platforms and has led to significant online harassment as well as physical violence.

Watchdog Report Faults Medicare Agency’s Contract Management
AP News – Richard Lardner | Published: 7/16/2020

Seema Verma, the head of the Medicare and Medicaid programs, failed to properly manage more than $6 million in communications and outreach contracts, giving broad authority over federal employees to a Republican media strategist she worked with before joining the Trump administration, a government watchdog said. The contracts were for strategic communications services, such as public engagement and interacting with the media. But the inspector general said the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services used them as personal services contracts and exerted a level of control over the contractors’ work that exceeded what is allowed under that type of a federal award.

Canada

Canada How Washington Works: Inside an annual field trip for Canada’s senior bureaucrats
Maclean’s – Nick Taylor-Vaisey | Published: 7/21/2020

“How Washington Works” is a course offered by the Canada School of Public Service (CSPS), a training ground for that country’s federal employees that aims to “provide a broad range of learning opportunities and to establish a culture of learning.” The CSPS has for years sent senior executives south of the border. Until a few years ago, the course was conducted mostly within the confines of the Canadian embassy. But that all changed in 2015, when Maryscott Greenwood, a frequent guest speaker at the event took on a new role as facilitator. Greenwood heads up the Canadian American Business Council, an influential lobby group backed by some of the biggest corporations with cross-border business.

Canada WE Organization Under Scrutiny for Not Registering as Lobbyist Before Pitching Proposals to Trudeau Liberals
National Post – Christopher Nardi | Published: 7/17/2020

The WE organization is coming under new scrutiny over questions as to whether it should have officially registered to lobby the federal government before it pitched two separate programs to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government last April. WE is not listed in the federal lobbying registry. Conservative members of Parliament wrote the federal commissioner of lobbying, Nancy Bélanger, asking her to investigate if WE had possibly broken the Lobbying Act.

From the States and Municipalities

California George Esparza, Ex-Aide to LA Councilman Jose Huizar, Pleads Guilty in Corruption Probe
Los Angeles Daily News – City News Service | Published: 7/22/2020

A former aide to now-suspended Los Angeles City Councilperson Jose Huizar pleaded guilty to a federal racketeering charge arising from a purported City Hall corruption scheme in which real estate developers paid bribes to ensure building projects received favored treatment. From 2013 to 2018, Esparza worked as a special assistant to Huizar, who chaired the Planning and Land Use Management Committee. Prosecutors say Esparza and Huizar took bribes from the head of a major Chinese real estate company, who paid more than $1 million in exchange for Huizar’s support for a 77-story skyscraper the company wanted to build.

Colorado Hickenlooper’s Ethics Defense Costs Taxpayers More Than $133,000
Denver Post – Jason Wingerter | Published: 7/18/2020

Taxpayers spent $133,438 covering the cost of former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s defense attorney in the 18 months before he was found to have violated the state’s ban on gifts to public officials. The legal costs have raised eyebrows because they were paid with leftover money from a 2003 federal fund. The fund was supposed to be for essential government services and federal mandates, but Hickenlooper and his predecessor used the money for a wide range of discretionary spending.

Florida Orange County Commissioner Betsy VanderLey’s Business Paid Thousands by County Contractor
Orlando Sentinel – Jason Garcia | Published: 7/22/2020

Since 2016, a business owned by Orange County Commissioner Betsy VanderLey has been paid as much as $88,000 by an engineering firm that contracts with the county. But VanderLey did not disclose that until recently, after The Orlando Sentinel sent her questions about her income from the company and the accuracy of her public financial disclosures. VanderLey acknowledged she had made mistakes on her state- and county-mandated financial disclosure forms, which are meant to help voters understand their elected officials’ potential conflicts-of-interest. VanderLey called it a “clerical error.” County commissioners and other public officers are generally barred by state law from voting on any matter that would uniquely benefit them financially.

Florida Priorities USA and Others Agree to Drop Voting Lawsuit Against Florida
Politico – Gary Fineout | Published: 7/18/2020

A Democratic super PAC and other groups agreed to drop their voting lawsuit against Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Republican Party on the eve of a federal trial. The groups pushed to change Florida voting laws due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but there were signs the lawsuit was in trouble. U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle in June refused to order changes right away, including a request that taxpayers cover postage costs for mail-in ballots. The decision to end most or all of the legal battle is another win for Republicans in a key battleground state that could make or break President Trump’s reelection effort.

Florida Supreme Court Declines to Overturn Decision in Fight Over Felon Voting in Florida
Tampa Bay Times – Lawrence Mower | Published: 7/16/2020

The U.S. Supreme Court decided not to weigh in on Florida’s fight over felon voting, choosing not to overturn a lower court’s decision to keep hundreds of thousands of poor felons from joining the voter rolls ahead of this year’s elections. The decision, which was not accompanied by a written ruling, means felons who cannot afford to pay off all court fines, fees, and restitution to victims are still unable to register to vote. Gov. Ron DeSantis has led the fight against allowing poor felons to vote, after nearly 65 percent of Floridians approved Amendment 4 in 2018. The amendment overturned Florida’s Jim Crow-era law meant to keep Blacks from voting.

Illinois Federal Investigation Draws Closer to Madigan as ComEd Will Pay $200 Million Fine in Alleged Bribery Scheme; Pritzker Says Speaker Must Resign If Allegations True
Chicago Tribune – Dan Hinkel, Rick Pierson, Alice Yin, Megan Crepeau, and Annie Sweeney | Published: 7/18/2020

Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) settled a federal criminal investigation into a years-long bribery scheme in Illinois. According to the deferred prosecution, the company is charged with one count of bribery. As long as it pays a $200 million fine and complies with regulations for three years, that charge will be dropped. ComEd admits it arranged jobs, subcontracts, and pay-offs for associates of “a high-level elected official for the state of Illinois.” Prosecutors in a criminal filing say that elected official is House Speaker Michael Madigan. Prosecutors put a value of $150 million on the legislative benefits ComEd received.

Iowa Iowa GOP Congressional Candidate Apologizes for Plagiarism, Cuts Ties with Consulting Firm
MSN – Stephen Gruber-Miller (Des Moines Register) | Published: 7/22/2020

Iowa congressional candidate Ashley Hinson apologized for plagiarism her opinion pieces and website and cut ties with a consulting firm she said was responsible. The New York Times reported Hinson, a former television news reporter and state representative, plagiarized passages from news outlets including The Times. Hinson repeated the passages word for word in op-eds and on her campaign site without giving credit to the original sources. She also used near-identical language as her opponent, U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer, used in her platform on veterans issues.

Kentucky Jerry Lundergan Gets 21 Months in Prison for Election Finance Violation in Daughter’s Campaign
Louisville Courier-Journal – Deborah Yetter | Published: 7/16/2020

Jerry Lundergan, a former Kentucky Democratic Party chairperson and the father of former Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison for campaign finance violations related to his daughter’s unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign. Lundergan was convicted last year with Dale Emmons for being part of a scheme to funnel more than $200,000 in illegal campaign donations to the campaign in which Grimes ran unsuccessfully against U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell.

Kentucky Well-Connected Unemployment Director Quietly Fired Amid Crisis
Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting – Eleanor Klibanoff and Jared Bennett | Published: 7/20/2020

Muncie McNamara, executive director of the Kentucky Office of Unemployment Insurance, was quietly fired on May 5 amid an unprecedented number of jobless claims, a race to overhaul an archaic computer system, and a belatedly reported data breach. McNamara had been on the job only four months. The lawyer had no experience with unemployment systems or state government before taking the job. But what he did have was connections. He volunteered for and donated to Gov. Andy Beshear’s campaign. His wife, a recent chairperson of the Nelson County Democratic Party, considers Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman “a good friend.” Coleman called McNamara to offer him the job personally, he said. McNamara was paid $15,000 more than his predecessor, a career official who the cabinet kept on staff as a special assistant.

Maryland Political Operative Used Maryland’s DC Lobbyist in Seeking $12.5M Coronavirus Supplies Contract That Went Sour
Baltimore Sun – Pamela Wood | Published: 7/16/2020

A company that failed to deliver millions of dollars’ worth of masks and ventilators to Maryland landed the contested deal with the help of a political connection, documents indicate. An adviser to Gov. Larry Hogan helped Blue Flame Medical get its foot in the door with state purchasing agents. The company was founded in March by two Republican political operatives with no medical experience as the coronavirus swept across the country. Tiffany Waddell, Hogan’s director of federal relations, sent an email introducing Blue Flame Medical co-founder Mike Gula to Ellington Churchill, the state’s secretary of the Department of General Services.

Michigan Detroit City Councilman Gabe Leland Charged with Misconduct in Office, a Felony
Detroit Free Press – M.L. Elrick | Published: 7/17/2020

The Monroe County prosecutor charged Detroit City Councilperson Gabe Leland with misconduct in office. The felony charge comes a month before Leland was scheduled to go to trial in federal court on three counts of bribery for allegedly demanding $15,000 from Bob Carmack to help the businessperson in a dispute with the city. The misconduct in office charge, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $10,000, indicates Leland’s fate will be decided in state court rather than U.S. District Court. There are several reasons Leland may prefer to resolve the case in state court.

Montana GOP Candidate for Montana Auditor Could Face Campaign Fines
AP News – Mary Beth Hanson | Published: 7/21/2020

A primary election contest led to potential fines for the state auditor candidate who won and another Republican candidate. Montana Commissioner of Political Practice Jeff Mangan said the winning candidate, Troy Downing, had seven violations while another candidate who lost, Scott Tuxbury, had one violation. Downing failed to provide opposing candidates with copies of a campaign direct mail promotion and a television advertisement that mentioned them and were used within 10 days of the primary election. Mangan said Tuxbury failed to disclose details of a $79,000 in-kind contribution to his campaign.

New Mexico Spending in New Mexico Primary Highlights Dark Money at Work
New Mexico Political Report – Bryan Metzger (New Mexico In Depth) | Published: 7/17/2020

As the Democratic primary in New Mexico’s Third Congressional District heated up in May, two mysterious groups began spending a combined $300,000 to support Teresa Leger Fernandez, now the Democratic nominee. The groups ran positive advertisements about Leger Fernandez but did not disclose who paid for them. Other candidates condemned Leger Fernandez for not calling for removal of the ads. But a review of FEC filings suggests the real goal was to deny another candidate in the race, Valerie Plame, the win by boosting the prospects of the Leger Fernandez campaign. It is not uncommon for groups to spend money to support one candidate to prevent another candidate from winning. But when groups do not disclose their donors, voters are left in the dark about the motives behind such efforts.

New York NY Heavyweights Control Campaign Funds Even After Leaving Office
Adirondack Daily Enterprise – Joe Maloney (CNHI News Service) | Published: 7/22/2020

A month after resigning as New York Senate Republican leader, John Flanagan is holding on to his campaign fund, which contains $376,018. Flanagan’s campaign account, though substantial, is dwarfed by the $1.3 million held former state Sen. John DeFrancisco, who retired from the Legislature at the end of 2018. While neither Flanagan or DeFrancisco has plans to seek office again, state allows former office holders to keep their campaign funds active, though good government groups have pushed for years for a requirement that they be dissolved anywhere from six to 18 months after they leave office. The law only requires the fund be dissolved when the person who held or is holding office dies, said John Conklin of the state Board of Elections.

New York Trump Lawyer, Prosecutor Spar Over Future of Tax Returns Subpoena Case
Politico – Josh Gerstein | Published: 7/16/2020

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office is accusing President Trump’s lawyers of deliberately stalling a legal battle over a subpoena for eight years of Trump’s tax records. During a court hearing held one week after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Trump’s most sweeping arguments against the grand jury subpoena, an attorney from District Attorney Cy Vance’s office said it was evident Trump’s legal team was playing for time. The president’s lawyer, William Consovoy, did not respond directly to that claim but said there were strong indications that Vance’s investigation was a political errand on behalf of Democratic lawmakers in Washington seeking the same set of records.

North Dakota ND GOP Fined $8,000 for Campaign Finance Violation
Grand Forks Herald – Barry Amundson | Published: 7/18/2020

The North Dakota Republican Party was fined $8,000 by the FEC for failing to report a major campaign contribution within the required timeframe during the 2016 election. Nick Hacker, who was treasurer of the party in October 2016 when the reporting violation was made, said a staff member for the party did not make the corrected report within the 30 days required. Instead, he said, it was corrected within 45 days.

Ohio Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, 4 Others Charged in $60M Bribery Case Tied to Bailout of Akron’s Energy Harbor
Akron Beacon Journal – USA Today Network Ohio | Published: 7/21/2020

Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and four associates were arrested in a federal corruption investigation connected to a taxpayer-funded bailout of the state’s two nuclear power plants. U.S. Attorney David DeVillers described the ploy as likely the largest bribery and money-laundering scheme that had “ever been perpetrated against the people of the state of Ohio.” Householder, chief political aide Jeff Longstreth, and lobbyists Matt Borges, Neil Clark, and Juan Cespedes used the bribe money to expand the speaker’s political power and enrich themselves by millions of dollars through “dark-money” groups and bank accounts.

Texas If Texas Capitol Remains Closed, Lobbyists Say Special Interests Will Thrive Away from Public View
KXAN – John Enger | Published: 7/20/2020

Legislation is debated and voted on inside the Texas Capitol in Austin every other year. But it is two blocks down the road where much of the action takes place. At the corner of Ninth Street and Congress Avenue, buildings house dozens of lobbyists who welcome lawmakers to discuss their clients’ policy and financial goals. With the state’s biennial legislative session approaching, and the Capitol still closed to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic, some lobbyists say special interests could have an even greater role in the coming year.

Texas Oil-and-Gas Money Flows to Railroad Commission Nominee Who Pledged to Recuse Himself
Austin American Statesman – Asher Price | Published: 7/16/2020

In March, when James Wright, with little money in his campaign account, remained an obscure Republican primary challenger to a sitting Texas oil-and-gas regulator, he pledged to recuse himself from matters involving campaign donors. But campaign finance reports show that after Wright’s out-of-nowhere upset primary victory, hundreds of thousands of dollars from oil and gas interests flowed his way. Wright qualified his earlier pledge, saying should he be elected in November to the Railroad Commission, the state agency that regulates the oil-and-gas industry, he would recuse himself only on matters that involved donors who give money directly ahead of a commission vote.

Virginia A Politician’s Return of a $10,000 Donation Was Never Cashed. The Transit Union Says It Lost the Check.
Washington Post – Patricia Sullivan | Published: 7/23/2020

The $10,000 donation that cost former Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMTA) board member Christian Dorsey his position was returned to the agency’s largest union five months ago, but the check was never cashed because it was lost in the mail, Dorsey and the union said. Dorsey, an Arlington County Board member, who served as one of WMTA’s appointed leaders until February, lost that unpaid job over his failure to disclose the union contribution within 10 days, as the board’s ethics policy requires.

Washington DC Trump Attended a Fundraiser Without a Mask. The City Sent an Investigator to Inspect His Hotel.
Washington Post – Fenit Nirappil and Julie Zauzma | Published: 7/22/2020

The president’s recent maskless appearance at his Trump International Hotel, in apparent defiance of District of Columbia coronavirus regulations, caught the attention of local authorities, who inspected the hotel to check for compliance with city rules. The investigator found no violations at the time of the visit, but the agency pledged to continue monitoring the hotel. President Trump did not wear a mask while greeting Republican congressional candidate Madison Cawthorn at his downtown Washington hotel, according to video of their interaction. Nor did multiple guests standing near one another in the lobby, the video shows.

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July 23, 2020 •

Thursday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance Montana: “GOP Candidate for Montana Auditor Could Face Campaign Fines” by Mary Beth Hanson for AP News New York: “NY Heavyweights Control Campaign Funds Even After Leaving Office” by Joe Maloney (CNHI News Service) for Adirondack Daily Enterprise […]

Campaign Finance

Montana: “GOP Candidate for Montana Auditor Could Face Campaign Fines” by Mary Beth Hanson for AP News

New York: “NY Heavyweights Control Campaign Funds Even After Leaving Office” by Joe Maloney (CNHI News Service) for Adirondack Daily Enterprise

Elections

National: “Trump Seeks to Stop Counting Unauthorized Immigrants in Drawing House Districts” by Katie Rogers and Peter Baker (New York Times) for MSN

Ethics

National: “Matt Gaetz Appears to Run Afoul of House Ethics Rules” by Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan for Politico

California: “George Esparza, Ex-Aide to LA Councilman Jose Huizar, Pleads Guilty in Corruption Probe” by City News Service for Los Angeles Daily News

Florida: “Orange County Commissioner Betsy VanderLey’s Business Paid Thousands by County Contractor” by Jason Garcia for Orlando Sentinel

Kentucky: “Well-Connected Unemployment Director Quietly Fired Amid Crisis” by Eleanor Klibanoff and Jared Bennett for Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting

Lobbying

National: “Pandemic Lobbying Tops K Street Agenda, but Spending Dips” by Kate Ackley for Roll Call

Texas: “If Texas Capitol Remains Closed, Lobbyists Say Special Interests Will Thrive Away from Public View” by John Enger for KXAN

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July 22, 2020 •

Wednesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance National: “As Trump Slumps, Republican Donors Look to Save the Senate” by Shane Goldmacher for New York Times Elections Florida: “Priorities USA and Others Agree to Drop Voting Lawsuit Against Florida” by Gary Fineout for Politico Ethics National: […]

Campaign Finance

National: “As Trump Slumps, Republican Donors Look to Save the Senate” by Shane Goldmacher for New York Times

Elections

Florida: “Priorities USA and Others Agree to Drop Voting Lawsuit Against Florida” by Gary Fineout for Politico

Ethics

National: “Twitter Takedown Targets QAnon Accounts” by Kate Conger (New York Times) for Hartford Courant

National: “Trump’s Request of an Ambassador: Get the British Open for me” by Mark Landler, Lara Jakes, and Maggie Haberman (New York Times) for MSN

Colorado: “Hickenlooper’s Ethics Defense Costs Taxpayers More Than $133,000” by Jason Wingerter for Denver Post

Michigan: “Detroit City Councilman Gabe Leland Charged with Misconduct in Office, a Felony” by M.L. Elrick for Detroit Free Press

Ohio: “Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, 4 Others Charged in $60M Bribery Case Tied to Bailout of Akron’s Energy Harbor” by USA Today Network Ohio for Akron Beacon Journal

Lobbying

National: “Financially Strapped Trucking Firm Tripled Lobbying Days Before Winning Coronavirus Relief Loan” by Jessica Wehrman for Roll Call

Canada: “How Washington Works: Inside an annual field trip for Canada’s senior bureaucrats” by Nick Taylor-Vaisey for Maclean’s

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July 21, 2020 •

Tuesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance National: “Lobbyists Bundle Donations to Senate Democrats, Trump Victory” by Kate Ackley for Roll Call National: “Ethics Committee Clears Rep. Trahan in Campaign Finance Case” by Steve LeBlanc for AP News North Dakota: “ND GOP Fined $8,000 for […]

Campaign Finance

National: “Lobbyists Bundle Donations to Senate Democrats, Trump Victory” by Kate Ackley for Roll Call

National: “Ethics Committee Clears Rep. Trahan in Campaign Finance Case” by Steve LeBlanc for AP News

North Dakota: “ND GOP Fined $8,000 for Campaign Finance Violation” by Barry Amundson for Grand Forks Herald

Texas: “Oil-and-Gas Money Flows to Railroad Commission Nominee Who Pledged to Recuse Himself” by Asher Price for Austin American Statesman

Ethics

National: “Dan Sullivan, Marco Rubio Pay Tribute to John Lewis Using the Photo of a Different Black Congressman” by Colby Itkowitz (Washington Post) for Anchorage Daily News

Legislative Issues

National: “House Lawmakers Agree That Secure Remote Voting Is Possible, but Implementation Still Divides” by Katherine Tully-McManus for Roll Call

Lobbying

Canada: “WE Organization Under Scrutiny for Not Registering as Lobbyist Before Pitching Proposals to Trudeau Liberals” by Christopher Nardi for National Post

Maryland: “Political Operative Used Maryland’s DC Lobbyist in Seeking $12.5M Coronavirus Supplies Contract That Went Sour” by Pamela Wood for Baltimore Sun

Rhode Island: “Political Scene: State House lobbyists’ game has changed, but it’s still lucrative” by Patrick Anderson for Providence Journal

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July 20, 2020 •

Monday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance Kentucky: “Jerry Lundergan Gets 21 Months in Prison for Election Finance Violation in Daughter’s Campaign” by Deborah Yetter for Louisville Courier-Journal New Mexico: “Spending in New Mexico Primary Highlights Dark Money at Work” by Bryan Metzger (New Mexico […]

Campaign Finance

Kentucky: “Jerry Lundergan Gets 21 Months in Prison for Election Finance Violation in Daughter’s Campaign” by Deborah Yetter for Louisville Courier-Journal

New Mexico: “Spending in New Mexico Primary Highlights Dark Money at Work” by Bryan Metzger (New Mexico In Depth) for New Mexico Political Report

Elections

National: “Tens of Thousands of Mail Ballots Have Been Tossed Out in This Year’s Primaries. What Will Happen in November?” by Elise Viebeck and Michelle Ye Hee Lee (Washington Post) for MSN

Florida: “Supreme Court Declines to Overturn Decision in Fight Over Felon Voting in Florida” by Lawrence Mower for Tampa Bay Times

Ethics

National: “‘It Was Like Being Preyed Upon’: Portland protesters say federal officers in unmarked vans are detaining them” by Katie Shepherd for Washington Post

New York: “Trump Lawyer, Prosecutor Spar Over Future of Tax Returns Subpoena Case” by Josh Gerstein for Politico

Lobbying

National: “GOP Lawmaker Raises Concern Over Lobbyist Gaining Unauthorized Access to Online Hearing Platform” by James Bikales for The Hill

Illinois: “ComEd to Pay $200 Million Fine in Alleged Bribery Scheme as Feds Say Madigan Allies Got Jobs, Contracts” by Dan Hinkel and Rick Pierson for Chicago Tribune

Procurement

National: “Watchdog Report Faults Medicare Agency’s Contract Management” by Richard Lardner for AP News

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July 17, 2020 •

News You Can Use Digest – July 17, 2020

News You Can Use

National/Federal America’s Governors Get Tested for a Virus That Is Testing Them New York Times – Manny Fernandez, Rick Rojas, Shawn Huber, and Mike Baker | Published: 7/13/2020 Governors have always been judged on their disaster responses, but the coronavirus wreaking […]

National/Federal

America’s Governors Get Tested for a Virus That Is Testing Them
New York Times – Manny Fernandez, Rick Rojas, Shawn Huber, and Mike Baker | Published: 7/13/2020

Governors have always been judged on their disaster responses, but the coronavirus wreaking havoc across the country these days does not recede like floodwaters and cannot be tamed by calling out the National Guard. The states’ chief executives have been tested for the very virus that keeps testing them – politically, personally, and logistically. They have been forced onto the national and global stage in a way few governors have ever endured, an unending and public test on a scientific and ever-shifting subject with the lives of their constituents, the economies of their states, and their political careers at stake. The pandemic has many of America’s governors of both parties under a spotlight for which none of their aides and consultants have a playbook.

Big Donors and PACs Dominate Campaign Funding in Nearly Every State, Report Finds
Sludge – David Moore | Published: 7/9/2020

A recent report from the Campaign Finance Institute finds that, on average, 73 percent of state campaign funding from 2016 through 2019 came from large donors or PACs, while just 12 percent came from small donors contributing $250 or less. if small donors are incentivized to donate state campaigns, the share currently given to politicians by large donors and special-interest PACs could be flipped on its head with nearly three-quarters of campaign funding could come from amplified donations of $250 and under, according to a previous CFI report that examined public financing in New York.

Chief of White House’s ‘Operation Warp Speed’ Vaccine Effort Can Keep Investing in Pharma Firms, Under IG Ruling
Albany Times Union – Christopher Rowland (Washington Post) | Published: 7/14/2020

The co-director of President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed can maintain extensive investments in the drug industry and avoid ethics disclosures while he continues to make decisions about government contracts for promising coronavirus vaccines under a decision by the Health and Human Services inspector general. The ruling came in response to a complaint that said the administration has carved out an improper exception to federal conflict-of-interest rules for Moncef Slaoui, a former high-ranking official at GlaxoSmithKline. Slaoui took the helm of the initiative as what the administration described as a volunteer contractor. That allowed him to avoid the requirement for government employees to disclose financial interests and divest in holdings that conflict with their responsibilities.

Inside the White House, a Gun Industry Lobbyist Delivers for His Former Patrons
New York Times – Michael LaForgia and Kenneth Vogel | Published: 7/13/2020

Michael Williams spent nearly two years helping to run a trade group focused on expanding sales of firearm silencers by American manufacturers. But he could not overturn a ban on sales to private foreign buyers enacted to protect American troops overseas. Then Williams joined the Trump administration. As a White House lawyer, he pushed to overturn the prohibition, raising the issue with influential administration officials, and creating pressure within the State Department. On July 10, the State Department lifted the ban. The change paved the way for as much as $250 million a year in possible new sales for companies Williams had championed as general counsel of the American Suppressor Association. His role follows a pattern in the Trump administration, with the president handing over policymaking to allies of special interest groups with a stake in those policies.

Newsroom or PAC? Liberal Group Muddies Online Information Wars
Politico – Alex Thompson | Published: 7/14/2020

CourierNewsroom.com, also known as Courier, was created and funded by the Democratic-aligned digital organization Acronym. Courier has spent over $1.4 million on Facebook ads this election cycle, mostly to promote its flattering articles and videos about more than a dozen endangered U.S. House Democrats at the top of the party’s priority list this November. But because Courier is organized as a media outlet, it does not have to disclose its donors or the total money it spends promoting politicians. This activity – creating an unregulated advertising stream promoting Democratic officeholders, more akin to a PAC than a newsroom – diverges from other partisan news outlets that are proliferating online as local newspapers struggle.

Ousted U.S. Attorney Who Investigated Trump Associates Says Barr Pushed Him to Resign and Take Another Job
MSN – Karoun Demirjian and Ellen Nakashima (Washington Post) | Published: 7/9/2020

Attorney General William Barr repeatedly pressured then-U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman to resign and take another job, including as chairperson of the Securities and Exchange Commission, to clear the way for President Trump to install a political ally as the leader of the powerful federal prosecutors’ office in Manhattan. Berman, who testified privately before the House Judiciary Committee, described in a written statement the unusual sequence of events that led to his departure on June 20. The revelation of Barr’s tactics adds to the picture of what was already known about the extraordinary turn of events that culminated in Berman stepping down amid suspicions he was being ousted for political reason.

‘She Knows Better’: Ex-ethics chief Walter Shaub says Ivanka Trump broke rule by promoting Goya beans
USA Today – William Cummings and David Jackson | Published: 7/15/2020

Ivanka Trump is facing questions of whether she violated ethics rules in a social media post that promoted Goya Foods, whose chief executive officer angered opponents of President Trump by praising the president at an event. Ivanka Trump posted an image of herself on Twitter holding aloft a can of Goya black beans, along with a caption featuring the company’s slogan, “If it’s Goya, it has to be good.” Walter Shaub, the former director of the Office of Government Ethics, said that because Ivanka Trump often uses her Twitter account to conduct official business and includes her job description in her profile, “Ms. Trump’s Goya tweet is clearly a violation of the government’s misuse of position regulation.”

States That Raced to Reopen Let Businesses Write Their Own Rules, Documents Show
Anchorage Daily News – Isaac Stanley-Becker (Washington Post) | Published: 7/9/2020

Business networks and industry organizations helped write the rules of the pandemic response in some of the places that were the last to impose restrictions and the first to ease them. It also sheds light on the thinking of governors who have pledged not to reverse course on reopening, even as coronavirus cases spike in their states. Moves to throw open the doors with the virus still raging help explain recent surges in these states, epidemiologists say. Across the country, moves to reopen the economy before containing the virus offered a lesson in “how the political system accommodates the needs of business,” said Paul S. Ryan, vice president of policy and litigation at Common Cause.

The Once-Mocked ‘Never Trump’ Movement Becomes a Sudden Campaign Force
MSN – Ashley Parker and Robert Costa (Washington Post) | Published: 7/11/2020

A “Never Trump” rebellion that began four years ago as a largely ineffective cadre of Republicans has transformed in recent weeks into a potentially disruptive force in this year’s presidential race. Groups such as the Lincoln Project and Republican Voters Against Trump emphasize guerrilla tactics and scathing ads as they troll the president. The movement seeks to build a national political operation to oust both Donald Trump and his supporters in Congress, with an emphasis on persuading white suburban voters who consider themselves true Republicans to break from the president.

Trump Commutes Longtime Friend Roger Stone’s Prison Sentence
AP News – Jill Colvin and Eric Tucker | Published: 7/11/2020

President Trump commuted the sentence of his longtime political confidant Roger Stone days before Stone was to begin serving a 40-month prison term for lying to Congress, witness tampering, and obstructing the U.S. House investigation into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election. The move is another intervention by Trump in the nation’s justice system and underscores his willingness to flout the norms and standards that have governed presidential conduct for decades. Democrats, already alarmed by the Justice Department’s dismissal of the case against Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, denounced the president as further undermining the rule of law.

Trump Isn’t Secretly Winking at QAnon. He’s Retweeting Its Followers.
Politico – Tina Nguyen | Published: 7/12/2020

President Trump on July 4 retweeted 14 tweets from accounts supporting the QAnon conspiracy theory, a sprawling and ever-mutating belief that a mysterious government official who goes by “Q” is leaving online clues about Trump’s secret plan to dismantle a cadre of Washington elites engaged in everything from pedophilia to child sex trafficking. It was not the first time Trump has nodded, accidentally or not, to QAnon followers on Twitter. But his QAnon-baiting has gone into overdrive in recent months. The engagement has continued even as the FBI has labeled the online community a potential source of domestic terrorism after several people radicalized by QAnon have been charged with crimes inspired by the conspiracy theory.

Trump Replaces Campaign Manager as Polls Show Him Trailing Biden in Presidential Race
MSN – Josh Dawsey and Michael Scherer (Washington Post) | Published: 7/15/2020

President Trump announced he is replacing campaign manager Brad Parscale with longtime political aide Bill Stepien as recent polls show him falling further behind Joe Biden in the presidential race amid a spreading pandemic that has devastated the economy. The president said Parscale will stay as a senior adviser focusing on digital and data strategies. Parscale has been marginalized in the campaign for several weeks, officials said, with Trump angry about a botched rally in Oklahoma, where far fewer people attended than expected. Stepien was the field director for the 2016 campaign, He was formerly a top aide to then-New Jersey Gov. Gov. Chris Christie. Stepien was expelled from Christi’s orbit in the aftermath of bridge lane closures at the George Washington Bridge in 2013, an episode known as Bridgegate.

Trump Says He ‘Disagreed’ With Privately Funded Border Wall, So Why Did His Administration Award the Builder $1.7 Billion in Contracts to Erect More Walls?
ProPublica – Perla Trevizo and Jeremy Schwartz | Published: 7/13/2020

President Trump complained via Twitter that a privately constructed border wall in Texas was a bad idea and poorly done, not mentioning his administration has awarded the builder a $1.7 billion contract to build more walls. With the backing of Trump supporters, Tommy Fisher built a three-mile border fence along the Rio Grande. But just months after completion of his showcase piece directly on the banks of the river, there are signs of erosion along and under the fence that threatens its stability and could cause it to topple into the river if not fixed. The administration gave Fisher the billion-dollar contract to build additional stretches of the wall in Arizona, despite a lawsuit around the South Texas project and an ongoing audit by the Pentagon’s inspector general of a previous border wall contract that is looking into possible “inappropriate influence.”

White House Lawyer Gives Trump Extra Time to File His Personal Financial Disclosure Forms, the Second Extension Since May 15
Washington Post – David Fahrenthold and Anu Narayanswami | Published: 7/13/2020

President Trump was granted a second 45-day extension to file his personal financial disclosure forms, which will give the American public its only detailed look at the president’s private business interests. The forms are supposed to detail Trump’s income, debt, stock holdings, and outstanding loans for 2019. Federal law allows only two such extensions. Trump appears to be the only president since 2001 to need an extension for his financial disclosure filing.

Canada

Canada PM Trudeau’s Mother, Brother and Wife Were Paid to Speak at WE Charity Events
CTV – Rachel Gilmore | Published: 7/9/2020

Members of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s family were paid a total of nearly $300,000 over the last four years to speak at WE Charity events. The charity group is at the center of an ethics investigation into Trudeau. The federal ethics commissioner launched an investigation into Trudeau over his government’s now-cancelled decision to have WE Charity manage a $900-million federal program, which is slated to pay students and new graduates for their volunteer work this summer. While the charity has backed out of the management of the program following days of controversy, Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion said the request for an investigation “satisfies the requirements” laid out in the Conflict of Interest Act.

From the States and Municipalities

Alabama Birmingham Airport, State Water Boards Push for Clear Application of Ethics Law
Yellowhammer News – Tim Howe | Published: 7/9/2020

The Birmingham Airport Authority (BAA) and the Alabama Water and Wastewater Institute filed briefs urging Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Brooke Reid to deny a motion by the Alabama Ethics Commission to revise an order she issued in June. Reid ruled BAA employees were not public employees because the funds used to pay them is generated from private sources, such as landing fees paid by airlines. Alabama law says an entity’s employees are subject to the ethics statutes if the funds used to pay their salaries come from “state, county or municipal funds.” Numerous requirements and restrictions accompany the designation as “public employees” for purposes of the ethics law, including the filing of annual statements of economic interest with the Ethics Commission.

Alabama Jeff Sessions Loses Runoff in Alabama as Trump Helps End Career of Key Supporter
Anchorage Daily News – Paul Kane and Toluse Olorunnipa (Washington Post) | Published: 7/14/2020

Tommy Tuberville defeated Jeff Sessions in the runoff to be the Republican nominee in Alabama’s U.S. Senate race against incumbent Doug Jones. The result culminated four months of President Trump imploring the state’s voters to reject Sessions, the man who the president once said he leaned on for advice in forming his “America First” agenda. Trump’s endorsement of Tuberville in the race has always seemed to have more to do with Trump’s anger at Sessions over his recusing himself from the Russia investigation while attorney general than with any particular support for the former Auburn University football coach.

Arizona Arizona House Ethics Chair Drops Probe of Rep. Cook
KJZZ – Associated Press | Published: 7/9/2020

The head of a special Arizona House ethics committee said he was dropping an investigation into the actions of a fellow Republican lawmaker who faced complaints he engaged in an improper relationship with a lobbyist and helped her avoid a tax seizure. Rep. John Allen said in a letter announcing his decision that he did not believe Rep. David Cook’s conduct “unequivocally constitutes the sort of ‘disorderly behavior’ punishable under the House’s Rules” and the state constitution. The unilateral decision brought protest from Democrats on the panel.

Arkansas State Lawmaker Is Hired to Lead Youth Lockup; Red Flags Raised, Watchdog Say
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette – Ginny Monk | Published: 7/14/2020

Arkansas Rep. Jasen Kelly was hired as director of Rite of Passage, the firm that manages all four of the state’s residential facilities for juvenile offenders for the Division of Youth Services. Kelly said the job does not conflict with his duties as a legislator or pose an ethical issue. He plans to recuse himself from votes or discussions that deal with Rite of Passage. Tom Masseau, executive director of Disability Rights Arkansas, called for Kelly’s resignation from the House, saying it was the only way to resolve a potential conflict-of-interest.

California California’s Department of Conservation Rolls Out New Ethics Policy After Years of Complaints
Palm Springs Desert Sun – Mark Olalde | Published: 7/15/2020

The California Department of Conservation, which has for years weathered accusations of a cozy relationship with the oil industry, introduced a new ethics policy that has drawn praise from advocates of good governance. The new conflict-of-interest manual, which came into force in March and applies across the department’s five agencies, forbids employees from maintaining financial holdings in businesses they regulate without written approval from the department’s director. Media reports found that leadership in the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources held investments in major oil companies, including Chevron, which has a large footprint in the state.

California L.A.’s Corruption Probe Involves Developers, a Councilman – and His 80-Year-Old Mom
Los Angeles Times – David Zahniser and Emily Alpert Reyes | Published: 7/13/2020

Investigators have turned the spotlight in Los Angeles City Councilperson Jose Huizar’s corruption case on an unlikely figure in a “pay-to-play” scandal: an elderly woman who emigrated from Zacatecas, Mexico, once worked in a meatpacking plant, and has lived in a modest home in Boyle Heights. Isidra Huizar, the 80-year-old mother of the embattled council member, is one of the unnamed figures mentioned in the sprawling case. Federal prosecutors have alleged, without mentioning her by name, that Isidra Huizar helped her son launder bribe money he received between 2014 and 2017. Huizar’s mother, identified only as Relative A-2, repeatedly received cash from her son, then used the proceeds to pay his expenses, according to an affidavit.

Colorado Nonprofit Cash Being Spent in Colorado Campaigns Still Impossible to Trace Despite 2019 Law
Colorado Sun – Sandra Fish | Published: 7/10/2020

Outside groups spent nearly $1.7 million on eight highly contested Colorado legislative primary races in 2020. But it is not always easy to figure out where the money came from, despite a 2019 law touted as bringing more transparency to a system that includes cash from nonprofits that do not disclose their donors. In other instances, discerning where the money came from is possible if you have time to track all the state and federal committees involved until the funder is revealed. Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold acknowledged the loophole in the law that some committees use to avoid naming nonprofit donors. She attributed it to the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling that allowed unlimited spending in political contests as long as committees do not coordinate with candidates or political parties.

Florida Florida Democrats Return PPP Money Amid Scandal
Politico – Marc Caputo and Matt Dixon | Published: 7/8/2020

The Florida Democratic Party announced it was returning at least $780,000 in small-business loans after its own lawmakers criticized the acceptance of the money as highly questionable if not unethical and illegal. The party immediately applied for the loan after Congress first passed the $670 billion Paycheck Protection Program, even though there was discussion at the time that the money should go to neither lobbyists nor political causes. The party is currently underwriting the salaries of campaign staff throughout Florida, including those working to elect Joe Biden.

Florida Florida Lawmaker’s Ties to NFL Robbery Case Sparks Investigation
Tampa Bay Times – Meghan Bobrowsky | Published: 7/14/2020

The Florida Bar opened an investigation into the actions of state Rep. and lawyer Michael Grieco after it was reported his office was the scene of what appeared to be payoffs to victims of an alleged robbery by National Football League players Quinton Dunbar and Deandre Baker in May. Grieco had previously been representing Dunbar and Baker were accused of stealing money and jewelry from people at gunpoint at a party. It was revealed that police believe four victims recanted after being paid a total of $55,000 in cash in Grieco’s office. The victims reportedly signed sworn affidavits alleging Dunbar did not have anything to do with the robbery.

Florida Hot Zone? Florida Republicans Told to ‘Get Tested’ After Lobbyist Who Attended Their Fundraiser Now Positive for Coronavirus
Florida Politics – Staff | Published: 7/14/2020

A Florida lobbyist who attended a recent Republican fundraiser near Jacksonville has tested positive for COVID-19. Another lobbyist who briefly attended the event and asked to remain anonymous said they left after entering the reception and seeing no one wearing masks. Some attendees also attended an event two days later with Vice President Mike Pence where he thanked members of the Republican National Host Committee for their work on the Jacksonville event.

Florida NRA Lobbyist Marion Hammer to Face Ethics Commission Hearing
Florida Bulldog – Dan Christensen | Published: 7/13/2020

Florida’s top gun lobbyist Marion Hammer faces a probable cause hearing before the Florida Commission on Ethics regarding her failure to disclose payments from the National Rifle Association (NRA). State Sen. Perry Thurston filed complaints about Hammer with the Senate and the ethics commission in May 2019. Two weeks before, it was reported the NRA paid Hammer hundreds of thousands of dollars she had not disclosed for a decade on quarterly lobbyist compensations reports required by the Legislature. State law says the fine for late reports is “$50 per day per report for each late day up to a maximum of $5,000 per late report.”  Hammer, however, was not fined or otherwise disciplined.

Florida RNC Restricts Convention Attendance as Florida Coronavirus Cases Climb
Politico – Alex Isenstadt | Published: 7/16/2020

The Republican National Committee (RNC) is planning to sharply limit attendance for its convention in Jacksonville, Florida, shrinking the event celebrating President Trump’s renomination amid concerns about coronavirus. RNC Chairperson Ronna McDaniel, who is overseeing planning for the convention, said attendance for the first three nights of the four-night event will be limited to delegates. When Trump delivers his nomination acceptance speech on the fourth night of the convention, August 27, attendance will be expanded to delegates, a guest of their choosing, and alternate delegates.

Illinois Contractor Claims City Unfairly Awarded Lucrative Fuel Deal to Company Tied to Federal Corruption Investigation
Chicago Tribune – Jason Meisner | Published: 7/9/2020

A Florida fuel distributor that lost a recent bid for a $43 million contract to provide diesel to the city of Chicago filed an official protest, saying the process was skewed to take care of an influential local company linked to an ongoing federal corruption probe. The protest filed by World Fuel Services alleged its proposal, which was the lowest of three submitted to the city, was rejected in favor of the second-lowest bidder that used Black Dog Petroleum as its minority-owned subcontractor. Black Dog and its owner, Amit Gauri, were named in search warrants and subpoenas by federal prosecutors in a probe of former Illinois Sen. Martin Sandoval and suburban mayors and industry heavyweights.

Kansas Kansas Freshman GOP Rep. Watkins Charged with 3 Felonies
AP News – John Hanna | Published: 7/15/2020

U.S. Rep. Steve Watkins who had listed a UPS postal box as his residence on a state voter registration form was charged with three felonies, including illegal voting. The charges came three weeks before Kansas’s Republican primary election. The UPS postal box was listed as Watkins’ residential address for voter registration purposes when he cast a mail-in ballot for a local city council and school board election in November 2019. He later changed his residential listing. The most serious criminal charge accuses Watkins of voting in the 2019 local city and school board election in Topeka without being qualified.

Kentucky Breonna Taylor Protesters Sat on the Kentucky Attorney General’s Lawn. Police Charged 87 with Felonies.
Portland Press Herald – Katie Shepherd (Washington Post) | Published: 7/15/2020

Protesters who refused to leave the front lawn of Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron were arrested and each one was charged with a felony and two misdemeanors. The activists had come to demand Cameron charge the three police officers who fatally shot Breonna Taylor inside her home while executing a no-knock warrant. The felony charge applies to people who use “physical force or a threat” to influence “the testimony, vote, decision, or opinion” of a participant in the legal process, like a victim, a witness, or a judge. The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky denounced the felony charges filed against the protesters, calling them “overblown, outrageous, and inappropriate.”

Missouri FBI Continues Scrutiny of Independence, Requests More Records from City Government
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Jason Hancock, Kevin Hardy, and Steve Vockrodt (Kansas City Star) | Published: 7/13/2020

The FBI has once again requested records from Independence City Hall, the latest in a series of inquiries by federal authorities over the last year that appear to be focused on a pair of utilities contracts and medical marijuana regulations. The Independence City Council in 2017 awarded Environmental Operations the contract to tear down a power plant in Missouri City that Independence Power and Light was no longer using.  The contract was immediately controversial since Environmental Operations got the job with a $9.75 million bid, more than twice that of the other bidder. Environmental Operations’ owner, Stacy Hastie, is well connected in Missouri politics. A federal grand jury issued a subpoena to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services last year demanding records on four medical marijuana applicants.

Missouri St. Louis Prosecutor Receives Death Threats as Trump Defends Couple Who Pointed Guns at Protesters
Stamford Advocate – Meagan Flynn, Tom Jackman, and Ben Guarino (Washington Post) | Published: 7/15/2020

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, the prosecutor investigating the couple who aimed guns at protesters, says she has received racist attacks and death threats that have worsened as President Trump has thrown his support behind the couple. Both the president and Missouri Gov. Mike Parson have offered impassioned defenses of Mark and Patricia McCloskey, who went viral after brandishing guns at protesters on the private street outside their mansion.  Parson, who said the couple had “every right to protect their property,” said he spoke with Trump recently. He said Trump made it clear he “doesn’t like what he sees and the way these people are being treated,” referencing the McCloskeys.

New Jersey New Jersey Puts $578 Million in Controversial Tax Breaks on Hold After Investigation
ProPublica – Nancy Solomon (WNYC) | Published: 7/13/2020

Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration put a freeze on the continued disbursement of $578 million worth of tax breaks awarded by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority under former Gov. Chris Christie. A task force’s lead investigator said he referred several companies to law enforcement for making potentially fraudulent threats to move out of state to obtain tax breaks. Of the 12 companies whose awards are under review, five are connected to Democratic Party boss George Norcross and represent most of the money – $540 million. Some companies provided the same out-of-state location where they claimed they would move if they did not get a tax break, Blue Hill Plaza in Rockland County, New York. But the applications were approved.

New Mexico New Mexico Group ‘Cowboys for Trump’ Ordered to Pay Fines, Register as Political Committee
AP News – Russell Contreras | Published: 7/11/2020

The New Mexico group, Cowboys for Trump, must register as a political committee in the state, and pay $7,600 in fines for not filing expenditure reports, an arbitrator ruled. Cowboys for Trump has protested the requirements because it argues campaign finance laws violate free speech, and the group does not meet the definition of a political committee. Cowboys for Trump members say the group is a for-profit organization.

New York Probe Into De Blasio’s Old Charity Given Green Light by State Judge
New York Post – Bernadette Hogan and Carl Campanile | Published: 7/15/2020

The Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) received approval from a judge to investigate potentially illegal donations given to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s since-closed not-for-profit group. State Supreme Court Judge Richard Platkin ruled JCOPE has the authority to pursue a probe into Broadway Stages’ communications with de Blasio as well as $60,000 in donations. Broadway Stages claimed JCOPE cannot investigate individuals who give “gifts” and is limited to regulating officials who receive those monetary donations. It also denied giving to Campaign for One New York following a request from de Blasio or any another public official.

New York Trump Raises New Objections to Subpoena Seeking His Tax Returns
New York Times – William Rashbaum and Benjamin Weiser | Published: 7/15/2020

Days after the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a defeat to President Trump, clearing the way for the Manhattan district attorney to seek his tax returns, his lawyers renewed their efforts to block or at least narrow access to the records. Trump’s lawyers wrote to the federal judge in Manhattan who originally presided over the case, saying they planned to argue the district attorney’s subpoena was too broad and politically motivated. The president and the district attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr., a Democrat, have been locked in a battle over the records for almost a year.

Ohio Campaign Finance Cover Clouds Bribery Accusations
Toledo Blade – Tom Troy | Published: 7/11/2020

Investigators say Toledo City Council members Yvonne Harper, Tyrone Riley, Larry Sykes, and Gary Johnson, all Democrats, engaged in a “pay-to-play” scheme that exchanged money for votes. They face federal bribery and extortion charges. More than $34,000 changed hands between business owners and the council members during the investigation. Several local politicians and campaign experts, however, contend the line between what constitutes a campaign contribution and what constitutes a bribe may be fuzzy to some because of a culture in which politicians and businesses, interest groups, and unions symbiotically support each other through political donations and favorable votes on legislation.

Oregon Oregon AG Appeals Federal Judge’s Order on Redistricting Bid
AP News – Andrew Selsky | Published: 7/15/2020

Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno announced she is fighting a federal judge’s order for Oregon to give more leeway to a group that seeks to change how the state draws its electoral districts. U.S. District Court Judge Michael McShane said the coronavirus pandemic and Gov. Kate Brown’s shutdown orders prevented People Not Politicians from obtaining the required number of signatures by a July 2 deadline to put the issue on the ballot for the November election. The Legislature is currently responsible for redrawing district lines. People Not Politicians wants an independent citizen redistricting commission to do it instead and seeks to have voters approve an amendment to the state constitution that would allow that.

South Carolina Dark Money Groups Spent at Least $875,000 Trying to Sway Myrtle Beach State Senate Race
Charleston Post and Courier – Andrew Brown and Jamie Lovegrove | Published: 7/12/2020

Anonymous donors poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into a South Carolina Senate primary for a seat that covers Myrtle Beach, exploiting the state’s weak campaign finance laws and influencing voters in Horry County. The large amount of money spent on the primary runoff between state Sen. Luke Rankin and John Gallman highlights the outsize role that so-called dark money groups can play in state elections in South Carolina. Combined, the organizations were able to spend more than three times what Rankin was able to raise for his own campaign. That is because people who give directly to candidates are subject to contribution limits in South Carolina, whereas these groups are not.

Tennessee Former House Speaker Glen Casada Fined $10,500 for Campaign Finance Violations
The Tennessean – Joel Ebert | Published: 7/9/2020

Campaign finance officials followed through on a plan to levy a $10,500 penalty against former Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada after an audit determined he failed to adequately retain receipts for roughly $100,000 in expenditures. Despite Casada being eligible to face more than $2.9 million in fines, the Registry of Election Finance voted in favor of the smaller penalty. Although the audits found a number of issues with Casada’s personal campaign committee and a PAC controlled, the registry only fined him for failing to have receipts for 299 expenditures.

Texas Ronny Jackson, Ex-White House Doctor, Wins Texas House Runoff
MSN – Annie Karni (New York Times) | Published: 7/14/2020

Dr. Ronny Jackson, the former White House physician with no political experience who ran a campaign based on his close relationship with President Trump, won a Republican runoff election for a U.S. House seat in Texas, effectively stamping his ticket to Congress next year. Jackson, a retired Navy rear admiral, left the West Wing in December after becoming Trump’s unlikely choice to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, but he had to withdraw his name from consideration amid allegations related to his professional conduct. Jackson made a series of mistakes that could have derailed any congressional campaign. But after Donald Trump Jr. and his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, a top fundraising official for the president’s re-election campaign, realized Jackson’s campaign was in trouble, they asked two senior members of Trump’s re-election campaign to step in.

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July 16, 2020 •

Thursday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance New Mexico: “New Mexico Group ‘Cowboys for Trump’ Ordered to Pay Fines, Register as Political Committee” by Russell Contreras for AP News Elections National: “Trump Replaces Campaign Manager as Polls Show Him Trailing Biden in Presidential Race” by […]

Campaign Finance

New Mexico: “New Mexico Group ‘Cowboys for Trump’ Ordered to Pay Fines, Register as Political Committee” by Russell Contreras for AP News

Elections

National: “Trump Replaces Campaign Manager as Polls Show Him Trailing Biden in Presidential Race” by Josh Dawsey and Michael Scherer (Washington Post) for MSN

Alabama: “Jeff Sessions Loses Runoff in Alabama as Trump Helps End Career of Key Supporter” by Paul Kane and Toluse Olorunnipa (Washington Post) for Anchorage Daily News

Texas: “Ronny Jackson, Ex-White House Doctor, Wins Texas House Runoff” by Annie Karni (New York Times) for MSN

Ethics

National: “Chief of White House’s ‘Operation Warp Speed’ Vaccine Effort Can Keep Investing in Pharma Firms, Under IG Ruling” by Christopher Rowland (Washington Post) for Albany Times Union

National: “‘She Knows Better’: Ex-ethics chief Walter Shaub says Ivanka Trump broke rule by promoting Goya beans” by William Cummings and David Jackson for USA Today

Florida: “Florida Lawmaker’s Ties to NFL Robbery Case Sparks Investigation” by Meghan Bobrowsky for Tampa Bay Times

Kansas: “Kansas Freshman GOP Rep. Watkins Charged with 3 Felonies” by John Hanna for AP News

New York: “Probe Into De Blasio’s Old Charity Given Green Light by State Judge” by Bernadette Hogan and Carl Campanile for New York Post

New York: “Trump Raises New Objections to Subpoena Seeking His Tax Returns” by William Rashbaum and Benjamin Weiser for New York Times

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July 15, 2020 •

Wednesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance National: “Newsroom or PAC? Liberal Group Muddies Online Information Wars” by Alex Thompson for Politico Elections Florida: “Headed to the Convention? Not I, More Republicans Are Saying” by Reid Epstein, Nicholas Fandos, and Patricia Mazzei (New York Times) […]

Campaign Finance

National: “Newsroom or PAC? Liberal Group Muddies Online Information Wars” by Alex Thompson for Politico

Elections

Florida: “Headed to the Convention? Not I, More Republicans Are Saying” by Reid Epstein, Nicholas Fandos, and Patricia Mazzei (New York Times) for MSN

Ethics

National: “Ousted U.S. Attorney Who Investigated Trump Associates Says Barr Pushed Him to Resign and Take Another Job” by Karoun Demirjian and Ellen Nakashima (Washington Post) for MSN

National: “Trump Isn’t Secretly Winking at QAnon. He’s Retweeting Its Followers.” by Tina Nguyen for Politico

California: “L.A.’s Corruption Probe Involves Developers, a Councilman – and His 80-Year-Old Mom” by David Zahniser and Emily Alpert Reyes for Los Angeles Times

Missouri: “FBI Continues Scrutiny of Independence, Requests More Records from City Government” by Jason Hancock, Kevin Hardy, and Steve Vockrodt (Kansas City Star) for St. Louis Post-Dispatch

New Jersey: “New Jersey Puts $578 Million in Controversial Tax Breaks on Hold After Investigation” by Nancy Solomon (WNYC) for ProPublica

Lobbying

Florida: “Hot Zone? Florida Republicans Told to ‘Get Tested’ After Lobbyist Who Attended Their Fundraiser Now Positive for Coronavirus” by Staff for Florida Politics

Procurement

National: “Trump Says He ‘Disagreed’ With Privately Funded Border Wall, So Why Did His Administration Award the Builder $1.7 Billion in Contracts to Erect More Walls?” by Perla Trevizo and Jeremy Schwartz for ProPublica

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