January 16, 2020 •

Thursday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance National: “Ocasio-Cortez Creates PAC to Push Back on the Democratic Party’s ‘Blacklisting’ Rule” by Kayla Epstein (Washington Post) for MSN Oregon: “Pay to Play? Out-Of-State Law Firms Reap Rewards of Oregon Campaign Contributions” by Dirk VanderHart for Oregon […]

Campaign Finance

National: “Ocasio-Cortez Creates PAC to Push Back on the Democratic Party’s ‘Blacklisting’ Rule” by Kayla Epstein (Washington Post) for MSN

Oregon: “Pay to Play? Out-Of-State Law Firms Reap Rewards of Oregon Campaign Contributions” by Dirk VanderHart for Oregon Public Broadcasting

Elections

New York: “SAM Party Sues State Over Changes to Third Party Ballot Access” by Amanda Fries for Albany Times Union

Wisconsin: “Appeals Court Blocks Purge of Wisconsin Voter Rolls for the Time Being” by Patrick Marley for Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Ethics

National: “Ukraine Prosecutor Offered Information Related to Biden in Exchange for Ambassador’s Ouster, Newly Released Materials Show” by Paul Sonne, Rosalind Helderman, and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) for Seattle Times

National: “House Votes to Send Trump Impeachment to Senate for Trial” by Linda Mascaro for AP News

Illinois: “Ethics Board Imposes Max $2,000 Fine Against Chicago Ald. Edward Burke Over Letter He Wrote in Matter Involving a Client” by Gregory Pratt for Chicago Tribune

Lobbying

National: “These Emails Show a Trump Official Helping Her Former Chemical Industry Colleagues” by Derek Kravitz for ProPublica

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January 15, 2020 •

Wednesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance National: “Supreme Court Won’t Hear Fight Over SEC’s Pay-To-Play Rule” by Reenat Sinay for law360.com National: “More Money, Less Transparency: A decade under Citizens United” by Karl Evers-Hillstrom for Center for Responsive Politics Washington: “Seattle City Council Bans […]

Campaign Finance

National: “Supreme Court Won’t Hear Fight Over SEC’s Pay-To-Play Rule” by Reenat Sinay for law360.com

National: “More Money, Less Transparency: A decade under Citizens United” by Karl Evers-Hillstrom for Center for Responsive Politics

Washington: “Seattle City Council Bans ‘Foreign-Influenced’ Companies from Most Political Spending” by Daniel Beekman for Seattle Times

Elections

National: “Doctored Images Have Become a Fact of Life for Political Campaigns. When They’re Disproved, Believers ‘Just Don’t Care.’” by Drew Harwell for Washington Post

National: “Russians Hacked Ukrainian Gas Company at Center of Impeachment” by Nicole Perlroth and Matthew Rosenberg (New York Times) for MSN

South Dakota: “Federal Judge Blocks South Dakota Petition Law” by Maria Dinzeo for Courthouse News Service

Ethics

Illinois: “Illinois Ag Director Resigns Over Response to Rape Email” by John O’Connor for AP News

Maryland: “After Corruption Scandal, Baltimore City Council Committee Will Consider Government Reform Measures” by Talia Richman for Baltimore Sun

New Jersey: “Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Bridgegate Scandal. The Case Could Impact Future Public Corruption Prosecutions.” by Matt Zapotosky for Washington Post

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January 14, 2020 •

Tuesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance National: “Court Debates Using Shell Companies to Mask Political Donations” by Kenneth Doyle for Bloomberg Law National: “Did You Get a Text from an Unknown Number? It Might Be Bernie Sanders’ Campaign” by Emily Cadei for McClatchyDC Elections […]

Campaign Finance

National: “Court Debates Using Shell Companies to Mask Political Donations” by Kenneth Doyle for Bloomberg Law

National: “Did You Get a Text from an Unknown Number? It Might Be Bernie Sanders’ Campaign” by Emily Cadei for McClatchyDC

Elections

National: “Sen. Cory Booker Exits the Democratic Presidential Primary, Making the Field Less Diverse” by Amy Wang and David Weigel (Washington Post) for MSN

Lobbying

California: “Slugfest at a California Conference Has Inspired a Politician to Propose a New Law” by Ruben Vives for Los Angeles Times

Florida: “Lobbyist or Neighborhood Advocate? ‘Strange’ Events at Zoning Meeting Puzzles County” by Hannah Morse for Palm Beach Post

Illinois: “City Hall Lobbyists Rewrite Their Playbook” by A.D. Quig for Crain’s Chicago Business

Indiana: “Former Lawmaker Won’t Face Lobbying Charges. Marion County Prosecutor Won’t Detail Why.” by Chris Sikich for Indianapolis Star Tribune

New Jersey: “No Hard Alcohol Will Be Allowed on ‘Chamber Train’ Following NJ.com Report on Sexual Harassment” by Susan Livio and Kelly Heyboer (NJ Advance Media) for Newark Star Ledger

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January 13, 2020 •

Monday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance National: “IRS May Be Unaware of 9,774 Political Nonprofits, Watchdog Says” by Bloomberg for Los Angeles Times Elections National: “Voting Machine Makers Face Questions from House Lawmakers – But More Remain” by Ben Popkin for NBC News Ethics […]

Campaign Finance

National: “IRS May Be Unaware of 9,774 Political Nonprofits, Watchdog Says” by Bloomberg for Los Angeles Times

Elections

National: “Voting Machine Makers Face Questions from House Lawmakers – But More Remain” by Ben Popkin for NBC News

Ethics

Illinois: “Fallout Spreads After Madigan Confidant’s Email on ‘Rape,’ Ghost Payrollers Rocks Political Landscape” by Tina Sfondeles for Chicago Sun-Times

Rhode Island: “R.I. Ethics Commission, Known for Transparency, Talks About Keeping Complaints Secret Until Investigations Done” by Edward Fitzpatrick for Boston Globe

Lobbying

Florida: “Despite ‘Cone-of-Silence’ Over JEA Sale, Top Mayoral Official Spoke to Florida Power and Light CEO During Private Party at Jaguars Game” by Christopher Hong for Florida Times Union

Florida: “Public Policy, Secret Sway and ‘Schmoozing’ in Tallahassee, Leon County” by Jeff Burlew for Tallahassee Democrat

Maine: “Indirect Lobbying Can Fly Under the Radar. A Maine Ethics Commission Proposal Could Change That” by Steve Mistler for Maine Public

Massachusetts: “DiMasi Sues Galvin Amid Dispute Over Lobbying, Ethics Laws” by Matt Stout for Boston Globe

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January 10, 2020 •

News You Can Use Digest – January 10, 2020

News You Can Use

National/Federal 6 Million Democratic Donors Gave $1 Billion in 2019 Through ActBlue, Officials Say Washington Post – Michelle Ye Hee Lee | Published: 1/9/2020 Democratic small-dollar donors gave $1 billion through the online fundraising platform ActBlue in 2019, highlighting the explosion […]

National/Federal

6 Million Democratic Donors Gave $1 Billion in 2019 Through ActBlue, Officials Say
Washington Post – Michelle Ye Hee Lee | Published: 1/9/2020

Democratic small-dollar donors gave $1 billion through the online fundraising platform ActBlue in 2019, highlighting the explosion of online giving on the left heading into the presidential election year. Of the 6 million donors who gave to Democratic candidates and organizations in 2019, half were first-time donors, pointing to the growing base of contributors who are giving online. Forty percent of the new donors gave multiple times, according to ActBlue, in a sign of the new donors’ sustained political interest and engagement. Donors contributing in low increments online gave $343 million in the final three months of 2019.

Bipartisan Group of Campaign Finance Lawyers Urge Leaders to ‘Immediately’ Restore Quorum at Federal Election Commission
MSN – Michelle Ye Hee Lee (Washington Post) | Published: 1/6/2020

A bipartisan group of campaign finance lawyers urged the White House and congressional leaders to “work together and immediately” to restore a voting quorum on the FEC, which cannot monitor compliance with election laws even as presidential primaries begin in February. The agency tasked with regulating federal campaign finance laws has long faced ideological divisions and polarization. But it lost its ability to do its official job after the August 2019 resignation of a commissioner left it to operate for the first time in 11 years without its necessary four-person quorum. While routine administrative work continues, the agency cannot enforce the law, vote on investigations, provide guidance, or conduct audits – activities that are especially crucial and timely for a presidential election.

Bolton Is Willing to Testify in Trump Impeachment Trial, Raising Pressure for Witnesses
MSN – Nicholas Fandos and Michael Schmidt (New York Times) | Published: 1/6/2020

John Bolton, the former White House national security adviser, said he was willing to testify at President Trump’s impeachment trial, putting new pressure on Republicans to call witnesses and raising the possibility of revelations as the Senate weighs Trump’s removal. Bolton’s surprise declaration was a dramatic turn that could alter the political dynamic of the impeachment process in the Senate and raise the risks for Trump of Republican defections. The former national security adviser is a potentially vital witness, with direct knowledge of presidential actions and conversations regarding Ukraine that could fill in blanks in the narrative of the impeachment case.

Duncan Hunter Resigns from Congress
Roll Call – Chris Marquette | Published: 1/7/2020

U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter submitted his resignation from Congress, marking the end of an 11-year stint in the House marred by his misuse of campaign funds for a variety of endeavors, including spending money on Lego sets, movie tickets, a $14,000 family vacation to Italy, and flights for his family’s pet rabbit. Hunter said his resignation would be effective January 13. He pleaded guilty to using hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds for his own enrichment. Hunter and his wife, Margaret, who also pleaded guilty, illegally converted over $150,000 in campaign funds from 2010 through 2016 to buy goods and services for their own interests, according to the plea agreement. Hunter’s sentencing is scheduled for March 17.

Ex-Tea Party Lawmakers Turn Heads on K Street
The Hill – Alex Gangitano | Published: 1/8/2020

A number of prominent former lawmakers associated with the Tea Party Caucus have joined the ranks of K Street in the last year, bringing their small government agendas to the lobbying world. K Street has always been a favored perch for ex-lawmakers, but the recent moves from conservatives are attracting controversy. Tea Party groups and Trump have long run on reining in the influence of special interests and Tea Party lawmakers often clashed with the influence world and a number of prominent industries in high-profile fights. In the Trump era, though, K Street has seen business grow as the Republican president’s agenda has sparked major battles over trade, health care, and taxes. Despite Trump’s vows to challenge Washington, the “revolving door” between K Street and his administration has been busy. For critics, that is a sign that it is business as usual in the nation’s capital.

Facebook Bans Deepfakes, but New Policy May Not Cover Controversial Pelosi Video
MSN – Tony Romm, Drew Harwell, and Isaac Stanley-Becker (Washington Post) | Published: 1/6/2020

Facebook banned users from posting computer-generated, highly manipulated videos, known as deepfakes, seeking to stop the spread of a novel form of misinformation months before the 2020 presidential election. But the policy does not prohibit all doctored videos: Facebook’s new guidelines do not appear to address a deceptively edited clip of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that went viral on the social network last year. Monika Bickert, the company’s vice president for global policy management, will testify at a congressional hearing on “manipulation and deception in the digital age.” The inquiry marks the latest effort by House lawmakers to probe Facebook’s digital defenses after Russian agents weaponized the site to stoke social unrest during the 2016 race.

Facebook Says It Won’t Back Down from Allowing Lies in Political Ads
Seattle Times – Tony Romm, Isaac Stanley-Becker, and Craig Timberg (Washington Post) | Published: 1/9/2020

Facebook decided not to limit how political ads can be targeted to specific groups of people, as Google did to fight misinformation. Neither will it ban political ads outright, as Twitter did. And Facebook still will not fact check them, as it has faced pressure to do. Instead, Facebook announced much more limited “transparency features” that aim to give users slightly more control over how many political ads they see and to make its online library of political ads easier to use. These steps appear unlikely to assuage critics who say Facebook has too much power and not enough limits when it comes to its effects on elections and democracy itself.

FBI Raids Home, Office of Lobbyist Michael Esposito
Connecticut Post – Devlin Barrett, Jonathan O’Connell, and Beth Reinhard (Washington Post) | Published: 1/3/2020

FBI agents investigating a lobbyist who has claimed to have close ties to President Trump and his family searched the man’s home and K Street office for evidence of possible fraud, according to people familiar with the matter. Michael Esposito’s business has boomed in the Trump era, but Trump, White House officials, and senior Republicans have said he greatly exaggerated his claims of access to the president and his inner circle. Following a story on Esposito’s business, the FBI is investigating to determine whether he may have defrauded his clients or engaged in any other type of financial fraud, the people said.

Judges Struggle Over Trump Bid to Block McGahn Congressional Testimony
Reuters – Jan Wolfe and Lawrence Hurley | Published: 1/3/2020

Appeals court judges appeared skeptical about broad legal arguments by President Trump’s administration seeking to block a former White House lawyer from testifying to Congress as part of the impeachment effort against Trump, but also seemed wary about stepping into the heated political fight. Judge Thomas Griffith asked tough questions of the Justice Department lawyer who argued on the administration’s behalf and the lawyer for the U.S. House Judiciary Committee that subpoenaed former White House Counsel Don McGahn and could be the pivotal vote in deciding the case. A second case involved the administration’s appeal of a judge’s October ruling that grand jury information in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe should be provided to lawmakers.

Mnuchin Seeks Delay of Proposed Disclosure of Secret Service Spending on Presidential Travel Until After Election
MSN – Carol Leonnig and David Fahrenthold (Washington Post) | Published: 1/8/2020

The Trump administration is seeking to delay a Democratic effort to require the Secret Service to disclose how much it spends protecting President Trump and his family when they travel until after the 2020 election. The issue has emerged as a sticking point in recent weeks as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and key senators have been negotiating draft legislation to move the Secret Service back to his department, its historic home. Mnuchin has balked at Democratic demands that the bill require the Secret Service to disclose the costs related to the travel of the president and his adult children within 120 days after it is passed.

Shadow Group Provides Sanders Super PAC Support He Scorns
AP News – Bruian Slodysko | Published: 1/8/2020

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders says he does not want a super PAC. Instead, he has Our Revolution, a nonprofit political organization he founded that functions much the same as one. Like a super PAC, Our Revolution can raise unlimited sums from wealthy patrons that dwarf the limits faced by candidates and conventional PACs. Unlike a super PAC, however, the group does not have to disclose its donors, a stream of revenue commonly referred to as “dark money.” Our Revolution appears to be skirting campaign finance law, which forbids groups founded by federal candidates and officeholders from using large donations to finance federal election activity, including Sanders’ presidential bid.

The Surreal Lives of 2020 Campaign Spouses: What happens when your loved one wants to be president
Greenwich Time – Jada Yuan (Washington Post) | Published: 1/8/2020

A modern presidential candidate’s significant other has the dual jobs of being an uncomplaining source of support for their partner, making sure he or she is getting fed and sleeping and has someone to vent to, plus often being the mouthpiece for your partner and attending events he or she cannot get to. Some, such as Jill Biden and Jane Sanders, have done this before, but no one could have prepared for this historically large and diverse field, with so many potential first gentlemen campaigning, or a primary season that is coinciding with the third presidential impeachment in the nation’s history.

Trump Donor Charged with Obstructing Inauguration Inquiry
AP News – Jim Mustian and Alan Suderman | Published: 1/7/2020

Federal prosecutors charged a major donor to President Trump’s inaugural committee with obstructing a federal investigation into whether foreign nationals unlawfully contributed to the inaugural celebrations. The donor, Imaad Zuberi, recently pleaded guilty in a separate case in Los Angeles to campaign finance violations, tax evasion, and failing to register as a foreign agent. A criminal information accuses Zuberi, a venture capitalist, of taking “numerous steps” to interfere with the investigation into where the inaugural committee received its funding. Prosecutors say Zuberi backdated a $50,000 check and deleted emails.

From the States and Municipalities

Alaska Sponsor Says Alaska Elections Initiative Has Enough Signatures to Be Placed on Ballot
Alaska Public Media – Andrew Kitchenman | Published: 1/3/2020

Sponsors of an initiative to overhaul Alaska’s election laws said they have enough signatures for the measure to be placed on the ballot in November. The initiative is among several issues that are expected to be the focus of state government ahead of the start of the legislative session on January 21. The Better Elections Initiative would create an open primary that would send the top four vote-getters to the general election. Then voters would be able to rank their choices in the general election. The initiative also would increase campaign finance disclosures.

California L.A. to Curb Developer Donations, but Some Fear Corporate Contributions Could Mask Source of Giving
Los Angeles Times – Emily Alpert Reyes | Published: 1/5/2020

A new campaign finance ordinance in Los Angeles prohibits real estate developers from contributing to city council members that vet their projects. Critics say an additional provision is needed – barring donors from giving through limited liability companies and other business entities that can make it difficult to tell who is donating. Los Angeles allows political donors to give not only as individuals, but also through companies and other groups. But some corporate entities do not have to publicly reveal who owns them, leaving it unclear to the public who is giving the money. In some cases, donors have funneled money through such companies to evade restrictions on campaign contributions.

Florida JEA Paid $25,000 to Lobbyist with Business Ties to Then-CEO Aaron Zahn Through JaxChamber
Florida Times-Union – Christopher Hong | Published: 1/8/2020

Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Daniel Davis confirmed a JEA official instructed one of his staffers to hire Deno Hicks, a local lobbyist who at the time had an undisclosed business partnership with then-CEO Aaron Zahn, to raise money for an innovation conference that JEA and the chamber organized in 2018. JEA, a community owned electric, water, and sewer utility, paid the chamber $25,000. Davis said he approved the request to hire Hicks’ firm, the Southern Strategy Group. He said hiring someone to raise money for an event was not unusual, although he did not know Zahn and Hicks co-owned a piece of undeveloped property in the city, which they have tried to sell for nearly $2 million.

Florida Nonprofit Group Criticizes Lawmakers’ Move Toward Limiting Local Power
South Florida Sun Sentinel – Jim Turner (News Service of Florida) | Published: 1/7/2020

A research group wants Florida lawmakers to temper a trend of tying the hands of city and county officials by “preempting” local regulations. Integrity Florida issued a report raising concerns that lawmakers, with the backing of powerful lobbying groups, are strategically attacking home-rule authority on issues ranging from sunscreen bans to regulating businesses. Ben Wilcox, research director for Integrity Florida, said a trend of preemption measures is growing, with 119 bills filed during the past three legislative sessions that included some form of preemption and nearly 20 filed for the 2020 session.

Georgia Ex-Atlanta Official Gets 2-Year Sentence in Corruption Probe
AP News – Kate Brumbeck | Published: 1/7/2020

A man who was tasked with ensuring equal opportunities for those seeking contracts with the city of Atlanta was given a two-year prison sentence for failing to disclose outside consulting work and not reporting some income to tax authorities. Larry Scott was director of the city’s Office of Contract Compliance and resigned shortly before he pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud and filing false tax returns. Scott was also ordered to pay about $124,000 in restitution. He was the sixth person to plead guilty in a long-running federal investigation into corruption at City Hall during the administration of former Mayor Kasim Reed.

Illinois Vendor Bribed CPS Employee with Vacation Home Stay During Bid for $30M Contract, Inspector General Says
Chicago Sun-Times – Nader Issa | Published: 1/6/2020

A vendor looking to win a $30 million nursing services contract with the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) tried to sway the bidding by letting a district employee stay at her vacation home. Although CPS ended up not awarding the contract to the vendor, she eventually was given a different, much smaller contract for the nursing services just a few years later and still has that work with the school district. Those were the key findings of an investigation by CPS Inspector General Nicholas Schuler’s office, which released its 2019 year-end report detailing the office’s most significant cases of the past year.

Indiana Former Indiana State Lawmaker Won’t Face Felony Charges Related to Violating Lobbying Laws
Indianapolis Star – Chris Sikich and Tony Cook | Published: 1/3/2020

Former state Sen. Allen Paul will not face felony charges related to violating Indiana’s lobbying laws. An Indianapolis Star investigation  revealed a secretive employment deal with a temp agency, in which Paul had been paid more than $150,000 to push the agenda of the Indiana Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) among legislators. He did so without registering as a lobbyist or tracking his hours, as required by his contract. Both the temp agency, KHI Solutions, and the IDVA were sanctioned for failing to register their lobbying efforts. The state ethics commission also told Paul to register, but he refused.

Kansas Group Resists Naming Donors After Pro-Kobach Ads in Kansas
AP News – John Hanna | Published: 1/2/2020

A group that sponsored ads promoting Republican Kris Kobach during his failed 2018 run for Kansas governor is arguing it is not legally required to disclose its donors. The Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission has given Per Aspera Policy until January 15 to file public reports on its activities during the last governor’s race. The commission warned the group it could face a potential fine of up to $300 for each missing report and intentionally failing to disclose the information is a misdemeanor. But an attorney representing the group told the commission it is not required to disclose any information under Kansas law because its ads did not “expressly advocate”{ for Kobach’s election.

Maryland Former Maryland Delegate Sentenced to Six Months in Prison for Misusing Campaign Funds
AP News – Michael Kunzelman | Published: 1/3/2020

Former Maryland Del. Tawanna Gaines was sentenced to six months in prison followed by two months of home detention for misusing campaign funds for her personal benefit. Gaines also must pay $22,565 in restitution. Gaines pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud. She faced a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Windom has said Gaines spent campaign money on personal expenses including fast food, hair styling, dental work, a cover for her swimming pool, and an Amazon Prime membership.

Maryland Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan Announces Ethics Reform Legislation, Fends Off Questions About His Firm
Baltimore Sun – Luke Braodwater and Pamela Wood | Published: 1/7/2020

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said he will introduce legislation to punish corrupt state lawmakers after a recent spate of convictions. At the same time, Hogan brushed off questions from reporters and some Democratic lawmakers about his transparency and ethics as he continues to make hundreds of thousands of dollars annually from real estate deals managed by a trust, approved by the State Ethics Commission, and run by his associates. Hogan’s Ethics and Accountability in Government Act would increase state penalties for bribery of public officials to a maximum of $100,000 and authorize the ethics panel to impose civil penalties against state employees and public officials without first going to court, among other proposals.

Minnesota Legislator’s Work as St. Paul Mayor’s Aide Raises Red Flag
Minneapolis Star Tribune – Jim Walsh | Published: 1/6/2020

Kaohly Vang Her, policy director for St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter and a state representative, so liked the mayor’s idea to give every capital city newborn $50 for a college savings plan that Her authored a bill to help pay for it. That is a potential problem, say authorities on government ethics. Because Carter is Her’s boss, he could show her favor, or withhold it, based on what she might accomplish as a legislator, said Annastacia Belladonna-Carrera, executive director of Common Cause Minnesota. Her defended the advocacy for the savings plan as good for St. Paul children. It is no different, she said, than other legislators – farmers, teachers, doctors, and businesspeople – promoting their professional interests at the Capitol.

Minnesota Proposed Changes to Campaign Spending, Lobbying Laws Put on Ice
Minnesota Public Radio – Brian Bakst | Published: 1/3/2020

Sensing resistance, Minnesota’s campaign and lobbying regulatory board intends to hold back on sweeping legislative recommendations that would redefine advocacy rules and expand a program aimed at encouraging small-dollar campaign contributions. The Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board decided instead to write a letter to the Legislature to encourage a debate over a campaign and lobbying structure that has not changed much in recent years. Board members said they and board staffers would work to refine their suggestions in the meantime. Board Chairperson Robert Moilanen said the letter would stress to legislators that current laws are outdated but acknowledge there is “not a consensus on the solution.”

Missouri Clean Missouri Redistricting Changes to Be Discussed by Legislators
Columbia Missourian – Lillie Hegeman | Published: 1/6/2020

From its early days of gathering signatures in the beginning of 2018 to the final week of the 2019 legislative session, Clean Missouri has been at the center of public, legislative, and judicial debate. And that is not going to change as lawmakers begin the 2020 legislative session. The ballot initiative limits lobbyist gifts to lawmakers to five dollars or less, tighten limits on campaign contributions that legislators can accept, and changed the process and criteria for drawing state legislative districts and create a “nonpartisan state demographer” position to carry out the task. When the amendment passed, however, legislators were not done with the debate. Some lawmakers in 2019 proposed resolutions to alter or repeal the portion that most troubles some of them: the redistricting changes. The issue will continue to be a focus of the 2020 session.

Missouri Town and Country Mayor, Who Is a Registered Lobbyist, Tripped Up by Recent Ethics Law Change
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Jack Suntrup | Published: 1/7/2020

Jon Dalton, a registered lobbyist and the mayor of Town and Country, must shut down his campaign committee in response to a 2016 state law, the Missouri Ethics Commission said. In a consent order Dalton signed, the commission cited the relatively new requirement that “any person who registers as a lobbyist shall dissolve his or her campaign committee.” Dalton, who has lobbied since 1994 and was first elected mayor in 2005, said he was caught between two different statutes when the Legislature approved the ethics bill: one requires lobbyists to register with the state and the other requires candidates to form campaign committees.

Montana Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against Bullock
Helena Independent Record – Holly Michels | Published: 1/2/2020

A federal judge ruled a group suing to overturn a Montana executive order requiring disclosure of contributions to dark money groups has to fix their lawsuit or it will be permanently dismissed. Gov. Steve Bullock’s order requires any company wanting to bid on state contracts in Montana worth more than $25,000 for services or $50,000 for goods to disclose donations of $2,500 or more to political groups including organizations that are not required to disclose donors. Illinois Opportunity Project sued, arguing it wanted to spend in Montana’s 2020 gubernatorial election, but it faced difficulty finding corporate donors due to the governor’s order.

Nevada Nevada Redistricting Group Files Amended Petition
Las Vegas Review-Journal – Bill Dentzer | Published: 1/7/2020

A group seeking to change how Nevada redraws state legislative and congressional districts has resubmitted a proposed state constitutional amendment after a judicial order that found the original petition misleading. Fair Maps Nevada, a local group involved in a national effort to counter state-based gerrymandering, filed in November to put a petition on this year’s ballot establishing a commission to redraw districts based on the decennial census. Under current state law, reapportionment is done by the Legislature subject to the governor’s signoff. The change would establish a seven-member commission to handle the task. Anyone who had worked during the preceding four years in certain state jobs; as a lobbyist, campaign consultant, or party official; or had run for or held elected office, and their close relatives, would be ineligible to serve on the commission.

New Jersey Fix the ‘Toxic Culture’ in N.J. Politics, Top Senator Demands after NJ.com Report on Sexual Harassment
Newark Star Ledger – Kelly Heyboer and Susan Livio (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 12/30/2019

State Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg said she is forming an ad hoc committee to look for ways to change the “toxic culture that women face in New Jersey politics.”  The committee, which will include several top female lobbyists and political operatives, will be created in response to an NJ Advance Media report detailing the sexual harassment, groping, and sexual of women working in state and local politics. The ad hoc panel will look for solutions to the climate of misogyny, harassment, and sexual assault that pervades New Jersey politics, said Weinberg.

New Jersey N.J. Won’t Dismiss Ethics Complaint in $40M School Named After the Lt. Gov.
Newark Star Ledger – Adam Clark (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 1/3/2020

Voting to name a $40 million school after your boss might be unethical, even if your boss is New Jersey’s lieutenant governor, according to the School Ethics Commission, which found probable cause to sustain two of the eight ethics charges levied against Terry Swanson-Tucker, president of the East Orange School Board and chief of staff for Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver. The case now moves to an investigation and hearing by the Office of Administrative Law. It will determine if Swanson-Tucker violated state ethics law when she voted in December 2018 to suspend a district naming policy and rename the George Washington Carver Institute the Sheila Y. Oliver Academy.

New Mexico New State Watchdog Ready to Investigate Ethics Complaints
Albuquerque Journal – Dan McKay | Published: 1/3/2020

Decades in the making, New Mexico’s ethics panel is now ready to accept and investigate complaints. The agency has appointed two hearing officers, established a website, and may issue its first advisory opinion in February. It is the result of a 40-year push to establish an independent watchdog with jurisdiction over allegations against legislators, candidates, lobbyists, and others. Voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment establishing the State Ethics Commission in 2018, after several ethics scandals, including the corruption conviction of a former state senator.

North Carolina NC Voter ID Law Written with ‘Discriminatory Intent,’ Says Judge Who Just Blocked It
Raleigh News and Observer – Wil Doran | Published: 12/31/2019

Racial discrimination was at least part of the motivation for a new voter ID law in North Carolina, a federal judge wrote, striking the law down for now. U.S. District Court Judge Loretta Biggs’ ruling means that although voters statewide approved a voter ID mandate as an amendment to the state constitution in the 2018 elections, people most likely will be able to vote without showing ID in at least the March primary election. The last time North Carolina’s Republican-led General Assembly passed a voter ID law, in 2013, it was also struck down for racial discrimination. But GOP leaders have said they believed this newer version of the law, which was passed a year ago, avoided the racial issues the previous law ran into.

Pennsylvania Pittsburgh Campaign Rules Curb Contributions, but Punish Some Candidates
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Rich Lord | Published: 1/5/2020

Pittsburgh’s decade-long effort to limit the influence of money in city politics now faces both a court challenge and complaints from some candidates that it threatens to stifle democracy. The city first put limits on contributions to campaigns for mayor, controller, and council in 2009, and revised the rules in 2015. Now, outgoing Councilperson Darlene Harris is challenging the constitutionality of the limits in a lawsuit. And as the city’s Ethics Hearing Board pursues enforcement actions, candidates facing fines are speaking out.

Texas Jerry-Rigged? Second Garcia Withdraws from Harris County Constable’s Race but Remains on Ballot
Houston Chronicle – Zach Despart | Published: 1/8/2020

One of the two candidates named Jerry Garcia who filed to run for Houston’s Precinct 2 constable – the one who did not appear to be actively campaigning – has withdrawn from the race. His short, strange trip as a candidate is not over yet, however. He will remain on the ballot for the March 3 Democratic Party primary, though votes for him will not count. Garcia, who is a cousin of Democratic incumbent Constable Chris Diaz’s wife, was one two men who had filed for the seat bearing the same name as the late Grateful Dead guitarist. The other Jerry Garcia said the turn of events is further evidence the former candidate never intended to mount a serious campaign. That Garcia, a lieutenant in a neighboring constable precinct, alleges the incumbent Diaz pushed his wife’s cousin to run solely to confuse voters, ensuring his re-election.

Vermont Some Legislators’ Financial Disclosures Were Late, Report Says
Seven Days – Colin Flanders | Published: 1/7/2020

The 2018 election was the first for which Vermont lawmakers were required to disclose their financial interests when filing to run for office, allowing voters to see potential conflicts-of-interest before casting their ballots. But according to the House Ethics Panel, disclosure forms for “multiple” legislators were not publicized by the last election. Multiple as in about 30, or a fifth of the House members, according to panel Chairperson John Gannon. State law says House candidates must file financial disclosure forms with their town clerks when submitting petitions to run for office. The documents detail sources of income for candidates and their spouses or partners greater than $5,000, including investments. They must also disclose whether they own 10 percent of any companies, and whether such companies do business with the state.

Vermont VPIRG Head Calls for End to ‘Worthless’ Ethics Commission
VTDigger.org – Mark Johnson | Published: 1/8/2020

The head of the organization that pushed hardest for a state Ethics Commission in Vermont says it should be disbanded. Paul Burns, executive director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, said the commission was “worthless” and provided lawmakers “a fig leaf of protection” that they were addressing ethics concerns. Vermont was one of the last states to establish an ethics commission in 2017. That came after years of discussion and receiving a grade of “F” from the Center for Public Integrity on ethics enforcement. The panel and part-time executive director have no powers to investigate or levy punishment. It essentially operates as a referral agency, taking in complaints about state officials and sending them to another agency. Burns said the Legislature established the commission simply to “get off the list of states without one.”

Washington Seattle Council Advances Ban on Most Political Spending By ‘Foreign-Influenced’ Companies
Seattle Times – Daniel Beekman | Published: 1/7/2020

Seattle moved closer to banning most political spending by “foreign-influenced” corporations, as a city council committee advanced legislation that Council President M. Lorena González said could companies from using money to shape elections. But González postponed a committee vote on other legislation that would limit all contributions to the PACs that businesses, labor unions, and other interests used to bundle and spend a record $4 million in last year’s elections. She said the council needs to further vet the nationally watched proposal, which would likely be challenged in court, though she and her colleagues did narrow a loophole that could have advantaged unions and grassroots groups.

Washington DC D.C. Council Member Jack Evans to Resign Over Ethics Violations; Was City’s Longest-Serving Lawmaker
Stamford Advocate – Fenit Nirappil and Paul Schwartzman (Washington Post) | Published: 1/7/2020

District of Columbia Councilperson Jack Evans announced he will resign on January 17. The council took a preliminary vote to expel Evans and had scheduled a hearing to summarize the case against him and offer him an opportunity to speak before a final expulsion vote. Evans’s close ties to business eventually proved to be his undoing, as his outside employment with law firms and as a consultant to prominent companies with interests before city government came under scrutiny. He stepped down from the board of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority after an investigation there found ethics violations. Federal prosecutors are investigating Evans and FBI agents searched his home, but he has not been charged with a crime.

Washington DC Top D.C. Ethics Investigator Resigns Amid Scrutiny of His Office
Laredo Morning Times – Fenit Nirappil (Washington Post) | Published: 1/7/2020

The District of Columbia’s top ethics investigator has resigned amid criticism of the agency’s failure to promptly investigate complaints. Brent Wolfingbarger resigned as the director of government ethics at the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability effective December 31, agency officials said. Wolfingbarger’s two-year tenure at the helm of the city’s internal watchdog had come under scrutiny by lawmakers and watchdogs. Several city council members had criticized the ethics board for staying on the sidelines of an ongoing ethics issue involving another member, Jack Evans. The board was formed in 2013 after several scandals involving council members.

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January 9, 2020 •

Thursday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance National: “Trump Donor Charged with Obstructing Inauguration Inquiry” by Jim Mustian and Alan Suderman for AP News National: “Shadow Group Provides Sanders Super PAC Support He Scorns” by Bruian Slodysko for AP News Washington: “Seattle Council Advances Ban […]

Campaign Finance

National: “Trump Donor Charged with Obstructing Inauguration Inquiry” by Jim Mustian and Alan Suderman for AP News

National: “Shadow Group Provides Sanders Super PAC Support He Scorns” by Bruian Slodysko for AP News

Washington: “Seattle Council Advances Ban on Most Political Spending By ‘Foreign-Influenced’ Companies” by Daniel Beekman for Seattle Times

Ethics

National: “Duncan Hunter Resigns from Congress” by Chris Marquette for Roll Call

Georgia: “Ex-Atlanta Official Gets 2-Year Sentence in Corruption Probe” by Kate Brumbeck for AP News

Maryland: “Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan Announces Ethics Reform Legislation, Fends Off Questions About His Firm” by Luke Braodwater and Pamela Wood for Baltimore Sun

Vermont: “Some Legislators’ Financial Disclosures Were Late, Report Says” by Colin Flanders for Seven Days

Lobbying

National: “Ex-Tea Party Lawmakers Turn Heads on K Street” by Alex Gangitano for The Hill

Missouri: “Town and Country Mayor, Who Is a Registered Lobbyist, Tripped Up by Recent Ethics Law Change” by Jack Suntrup for St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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January 8, 2020 •

Wednesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance National: “Bipartisan Group of Campaign Finance Lawyers Urge Leaders to ‘Immediately’ Restore Quorum at Federal Election Commission” by Michelle Ye Hee Lee (Washington Post) for MSN Washington DC: “D.C. Council Member Jack Evans to Resign Over Ethics Violations; […]

Campaign Finance

National: “Bipartisan Group of Campaign Finance Lawyers Urge Leaders to ‘Immediately’ Restore Quorum at Federal Election Commission” by Michelle Ye Hee Lee (Washington Post) for MSN

Washington DC: “D.C. Council Member Jack Evans to Resign Over Ethics Violations; Was City’s Longest-Serving Lawmaker” by Fenit Nirappil for Washington Post

Ethics

National: “Facebook Bans Deepfakes, but New Policy May Not Cover Controversial Pelosi Video” by Tony Romm, Drew Harwell, and Isaac Stanley-Becker (Washington Post) for MSN

National: “Bolton Is Willing to Testify in Trump Impeachment Trial, Raising Pressure for Witnesses” by Nicholas Fandos and Michael Schmidt (New York Times) for MSN

National: “Hunter Will Likely Receive His Taxpayer-Funded Congressional Pension Despite Guilty Plea” by Charles Clark and Morgan Cook for San Diego Union Tribune

Florida: “Nonprofit Group Criticizes Lawmakers’ Move Toward Limiting Local Power” by Jim Turner (News Service of Florida) for South Florida Sun Sentinel

Minnesota: “Legislator’s Work as St. Paul Mayor’s Aide Raises Red Flag” by Jim Walsh for Minneapolis Star Tribune

Washington DC: “Top D.C. Ethics Investigator Resigns Amid Scrutiny of His Office” by Fenit Nirappil (Washington Post) for Laredo Morning Times

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January 7, 2020 •

Tuesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance Alaska: “Sponsor Says Alaska Elections Initiative Has Enough Signatures to Be Placed on Ballot” by Andrew Kitchenman for Alaska Public Media California: “L.A. to Curb Developer Donations, but Some Fear Corporate Contributions Could Mask Source of Giving” by […]

Campaign Finance

Alaska: “Sponsor Says Alaska Elections Initiative Has Enough Signatures to Be Placed on Ballot” by Andrew Kitchenman for Alaska Public Media

California: “L.A. to Curb Developer Donations, but Some Fear Corporate Contributions Could Mask Source of Giving” by Emily Alpert Reyes for Los Angeles Times

Kansas: “Group Resists Naming Donors After Pro-Kobach Ads in Kansas” by John Hanna for AP News

Pennsylvania: “Pittsburgh Campaign Rules Curb Contributions, but Punish Some Candidates” by Rich Lord for Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Ethics

Illinois: “Vendor Bribed CPS Employee with Vacation Home Stay During Bid for $30M Contract, Inspector General Says” by Nader Issa for Chicago Sun-Times

Missouri: “Clean Missouri Redistricting Changes to Be Discussed by Legislators” by Lillie Hegeman for Columbia Missourian

New Jersey: “Fix the ‘Toxic Culture’ in N.J. Politics, Top Senator Demands after NJ.com Report on Sexual Harassment” by Kelly Heyboer and Susan Livio (NJ Advance Media) for Newark Star Ledger

New Jersey: “N.J. Won’t Dismiss Ethics Complaint in $40M School Named After the Lt. Gov.” by Adam Clark (NJ Advance Media) for Newark Star Ledger

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January 6, 2020 •

Monday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance Maryland: “Former Maryland Delegate Sentenced to Six Months in Prison for Misusing Campaign Funds” by Michael Kunzelman for AP News Montana: “Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against Bullock” by Holly Michels for Helena Independent Record Ethics National: “Judges Struggle Over […]

Campaign Finance

Maryland: “Former Maryland Delegate Sentenced to Six Months in Prison for Misusing Campaign Funds” by Michael Kunzelman for AP News

Montana: “Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against Bullock” by Holly Michels for Helena Independent Record

Ethics

National: “Judges Struggle Over Trump Bid to Block McGahn Congressional Testimony” by Jan Wolfe and Lawrence Hurley for Reuters

Minnesota: “Proposed Changes to Campaign Spending, Lobbying Laws Put on Ice” by Brian Bakst for Minnesota Public Radio

New Mexico: “New State Watchdog Ready to Investigate Ethics Complaints” by Dan McKay for Albuquerque Journal

Lobbying

National: “FBI Raids Home, Office of Lobbyist Michael Esposito” by Devlin Barrett, Jonathan O’Connell, and Beth Reinhard for Washington Post

Indiana: “Former Indiana State Lawmaker Won’t Face Felony Charges Related to Violating Lobbying Laws” by Chris Sikich and Tony Cook for Indianapolis Star

Redistricting

North Carolina: “NC Voter ID Law Written with ‘Discriminatory Intent,’ Says Judge Who Just Blocked It” by Wil Doran for Raleigh News and Observer

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January 3, 2020 •

News You Can Use Digest – January 3, 2020

News You Can Use

National/Federal 2020 Democrats Are Naming Their Fundraising ‘Bundlers’ Amid a Fight Over Big Money in Politics Philadelphia Inquirer – Jonathan Lai and Julia Terruso | Published: 12/26/2019 When it comes to political fundraising, rich people are great. People who know a […]

National/Federal

2020 Democrats Are Naming Their Fundraising ‘Bundlers’ Amid a Fight Over Big Money in Politics
Philadelphia Inquirer – Jonathan Lai and Julia Terruso | Published: 12/26/2019

When it comes to political fundraising, rich people are great. People who know a lot of rich people are even better. Individual donors may write the checks, but a lot of influence and power accrues to the intermediaries who collect the money. Known as “bundlers,” they are the financial backbone of many modern campaigns. “These are essentially fundraisers who aren’t on the payroll,” said Sarah Bryner, research director for the Center for Responsive Politics. There is no requirement that campaigns identify their bundlers, despite their importance and influence.

As More Women Run for Office, Child Care Remains a Hurdle
AP News – Lindsay Whitehurst and Christina Cassidy | Published: 1/1/2020

Experts predict a large number of women will again run for office in 2020 like they did in 2018, and childcare remains a hurdle for many of them. A congressional candidate in New York successfully petitioned the FEC in 2018 to allow campaign money to help cover childcare costs. But it applies only to those running for federal office. That leaves women in many states who are running for the Legislature, statewide positions like attorney general, or local offices to find another way to pay for childcare as they campaign, which often requires night and weekend work. Only six states have laws specifically allowing campaign money to be used for childcare.

Behind the Ukraine Aid Freeze: 84 days of conflict and confusion
MSN – Eric Lipton, Maggie Haberman, and Mark Mazzetti (New York Times) | Published: 12/29/2019

The Democratic-led inquiry into President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine established the president was actively involved in parallel efforts, both secretive and highly unusual, to bring pressure on a country he viewed with suspicion, if not disdain. One campaign, spearheaded by Rudolph Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, aimed to force Ukraine to conduct investigations that could help Trump politically. The other was the president’s demand to withhold the security assistance. By late summer, the two efforts merged as American diplomats used the withheld aid as leverage in the effort to win a public commitment from the new Ukrainian president to carry out the investigations Trump sought. Interviews and impeachment testimony provide the most complete account yet of the 84 days from when Trump first inquired about the money to his decision in September to relent.

Bloomberg’s Business in China Has Grown. That Could Create Unprecedented Entanglements If He Is Elected President.
MSN – Michael Kranish (Washington Post) | Published: 1/1/2020

If President Trump’s decision to retain ownership of his global real estate business has tested the limits of America’s ethics laws and traditions, sparking lawsuits and allegations of influence by foreign interests, a Michael Bloomberg presidency could present a whole new level of overseas entanglements, with China as a prime example. Tensions have grown between Washington and Beijing in recent years amid trade disputes, clashes over democracy and human rights, and disagreements over China’s efforts to expand its influence around the world. Yet Bloomberg, who is spending tens of millions of dollars of his own money to compete for the Democratic presidential nomination, has deepened his entanglements with that key U.S. adversary, forging close financial ties there while showering praise on the Communist Party leaders whose goodwill is required to play a role in that fast-growing market.

Julián Castro Ends Presidential Campaign
MSN – Jennifer Medina and Matt Stevens (New York Times) | Published: 1/2/2020

Julián Castro, the former housing secretary and San Antonio mayor who was the only Latino candidate in the Democratic primary, said he would end his bid for the presidency, capping a yearlong campaign where despite struggling in polls, he remained an enduring contender and policy pacesetter on immigration and fighting poverty. Throughout his campaign, Castro portrayed himself as a liberal who was shaped by his humble beginnings and had been overlooked by the press. Though he created some memorable moments as he championed progressive policy and challenged his rivals on the campaign trail, Castro was unable to break into the upper tier of a crowded primary field. His exit is the latest departure of a candidate of color from a field that began as the most racially diverse ever in a Democratic primary.

Rick Gates Gets 45 Days of Weekend Jail, 3 Years of Probation
Politico – Darren Samuelsohn and Josh Gerstein | Published: 12/17/2019

Rick Gates’ cooperation with prosecutors investigating President Trump and his 2016 campaign paid off when a federal judge sentenced the Republican operative to 45 days of weekend jail time and three years of probation. The relatively light punishment for Gates, a former Trump campaign deputy, was still slightly more than expected going into the hearing. Federal prosecutors had recommended just one year of probation for Gates in exchange for his role as a critical high-profile government witness whose testimony helped net convictions against two of Trump’s ex-campaign aides, former chairperson Paul Manafort and longtime political adviser Roger Stone.

Trump Campaign Plagued by Groups Raising Tens of Millions in His Name
Politico – Maggie Severns | Published: 12/23/2019

As President Trump raises money for his reelection campaign, he is competing for cash with a growing mass of pro-Trump PACs, dark money groups, and off-brand Facebook advertisers neither affiliated with nor endorsed by the campaign. And they have pulled in over $46 million so far. The groups mimic Trump’s brand in the way they look and feel. They borrow the president’s Twitter avatar on Facebook pages, use clips of Trump’s voice in robocalls asking for “an emergency contribution to the campaign” and, in some cases, have been affiliated with former Trump aides, such as onetime deputy campaign manager David Bossie. But most are spending little money to help the president win in 2020.

Warren Embraced the High-Dollar Fundraiser Circuit for Years – Until Just Before Her Presidential Campaign
MSN – Annie Linskey and Michelle Ye Hee Lee (Washington Post) | Published: 12/28/2019

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren embraced a high-dollar fundraising program her entire political career, from her first Senate run in 2011 through her reelection last year. Warren was so successful at it she was able to transfer $10 million of her Senate cash to help launch her presidential bid. But in the past year Warren has undergone a transformation, moving from one of the Democratic Party’s biggest draws at high-dollar fundraisers to a presidential candidate who has sworn them off as sinister attempts to sell access. Warren’s new position is part of an attempt to tap into the zeitgeist of the party’s left wing, where activists and voters believe wealthy individuals and companies have far too much influence in American life. But party strategists say Warren’s approach could be damaging for her, as well as her opponents.

From the States and Municipalities

California New Ethics Rule Would Allow State Judges to Speak Out About Rulings in Campaigns
San Diego Union Tribune – Greg Moran | Published: 1/1/2020

Spurred by the successful recall of Santa Clara County judge who sentenced a Stanford University student to six months in jail for a sexual assault, the California Supreme Court is weighing changes to the code of ethics that would allow judges to break a longstanding taboo and speak out about pending cases – if a judge is being criticized for rulings in that case during a recall or election. Historically, judges do not comment on pending cases out of concern it could show a bias to one side or the other, impair the rights to a fair trial, or influence how a case develops. The current ethics rules ban judges, and their staff, from making any comment on pending cases.

Colorado Colorado Governors Have Been Tapping Federal Fund for ‘Essential Services’ for Years
Denver Post – Jason Wingerter | Published: 1/2/2020

A pool of federal money meant to boost Colorado’s economy in the early 2000s still exists 16 years after its creation and was used by at least two governors for a hodgepodge of expenses, including the creation of a $13,000 website touting former Gov. John Hickenlooper’s legacy. The fund, which came to public attention in November when it was found to be covering the cost of Hickenlooper’s ethics defense, was created in 2003 by the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act, to help states recover from the 2001 recession.  Budget officials for the past two governors say there were few, if any, limits on what dollars in the federal fund could be spent on, augmenting governor’s office spending that is otherwise controlled by the Legislature.

Florida A Place for Progressives: People’s Advocacy Center in Tallahassee is made for citizen-lobbyists
Tallahassee Democrat – James Call | Published: 12/27/2019

Three years ago, Karen Woodall, a longtime lobbyist for progressive causes, serendipitously found a 12,000-square-foot building that now is called the Florida People’s Advocacy Center. It is a place that out-of-town activists can use as a home-away-from-home and office to organize their lobbying of state government. There are 33 dorm-style rooms and a common space outfitted much like a family room with sofas, chairs, board games in a bookcase, and a television. Granted, it is not a colonnaded association palace or gleaming office tower occupied by platoons of well-heeled lobbyists and influence peddlers that dot the Tallahassee landscape. But for these progressive warriors on a shoestring, it is home away from home.

Florida ‘Wild West:’ Florida legislators’ PACs amass hundreds of millions of dollars
Tallahassee Democrat – Mark Harper and Abigail Brashear (Daytona Beach News-Journal) | Published: 12/30/2019

Direct donations to campaigns for the Florida Legislature are limited to $1,000. But lawmakers have a way around that: their own political action committees. These PACs allow for big-dollar contributions, lavish spending, and curious exchanges of funds between lawmakers. There are limits on the amount of money corporations and individuals can give directly to political candidates’ campaigns. But thanks to Republican-led legislation in 2013, many lawmakers now control their own political committees. The amount of money a company or individual can donate to a legislator’s PAC is limitless.

Georgia Federal Judge Will Not Reverse Georgia’s Decision to Purge 100,000 Voters
Seattle Times – Hannah Knowles (Washington Post) | Published: 12/29/2019

A federal judge backed Georgia’s removal of nearly 100,000 names from the state’s voter rolls. The decision comes as state officials face accusations of voter suppression, particularly against black and low-income voters. Scrutiny of voting rights in Georgia has been heightened since the governor’s race in 2018 brought long lines at polling sites and criticism of outdated voting machines. In the ruling, the judge, Steve Jones, said the lead plaintiff, Fair Fight Action, a voting rights advocacy organization, did not prove the Georgia secretary of state’s decision to cancel the voter registration status of inactive voters violated the Constitution.

Hawaii Free Lunch from a Contractor Is Annual Tradition at Honolulu Hale
Hololulu Civil Beat – Christina Jedra | Published: 12/27/2019

Honolulu’s ethics guidelines say city departments should not accept any gifts from those doing business with their agencies. That includes contractors. But for at least five years, a major city contractor, the RM Towill Corp., has gifted lunches to city agencies. Among them is the Honolulu City Council, whose chair recently pledged to reimburse the company for a 100-person luncheon amid ethics concerns. The city and Towill said the food was just a “token of aloha” that can be considered an exception to the regular ethics rules. That conflicts with Ethics Commission guidelines that advise city agencies they are generally prohibited from accepting anything from city contractors regardless of the value of the gift. While offering a token of aloha like a lei valued at less than $50 is generally acceptable, Ethics Commission Director Jan Yamane said larger gestures can be problematic.

Illinois City Council Approves Ban on Aldermen Lobbying State, Local Governments
Chicago Sun-Times – Fran Spielman | Published: 12/18/2019

The Chicago City Council approved an ordinance that would prohibit aldermen from lobbying state and local government and prevent their counterparts at those other levels from doing the same at City Hall. Chicago Board of Ethics Chairperson William Conlon said the bill was driven by the scandal surrounding now-former state Rep. Luis Arroyo, who resigned one week after his arrest on a federal bribery charge. Arroyo was accused of paying a bribe to a state senator, identified by The Chicago Sun-Times as state Sen. Terry Link, in exchange for support of a gambling bill that would have benefitted one of Arroyo’s lobbying clients. Link has denied the charge.

Illinois Nonprofits Get a Break from City Lobbying Rules
Crain’s Chicago Business – A.D. Quig | Published: 12/20/2019

After some nonprofit groups raised concerns about a chilling effect on grassroots efforts and the cost of compliance, Mayor Lori Lightfoot asked of the Chicago Board of Ethics chairperson not to crack down on unregistered nonprofit lobbyists for another three months. Bryan Zarou, director of public policy and advocacy at Forefront, an umbrella group for foundations, grant makers, and nonprofits, said his 1,200 members interact multiple times a day with city agencies. Logging all those calls accurately and facing $1,000 a day in penalties would be “pretty insane.” While he would have liked a six-month window to remove what he said was ambiguity in the ordinance, he says it is better than workers being scared to pick up the phone.

Illinois State Senator Who Wore Wire on Fellow Lawmaker Failed to Report $50,000 Condo Sale Profit, Records Show
Chicago Tribune – David Heinzman and Jason Meisner | Published: 12/20/2019

A state senator embroiled in a federal corruption investigation failed to report a $50,000 profit from the sale of a Florida condominium as required on his state ethics form. The 2016 real estate transaction involved Sen. Terry Link, identified by a source as the unnamed senator who wore a wire on a fellow lawmaker. The recording, made in August, captured what authorities said was a bribery offer that led to criminal charges against then-state Rep. Luis Arroyo. Link, who has denied being the unnamed senator, ended up cooperating with the FBI after authorities discovered evidence that showed he had cheated on his taxes. State law requires elected officials to disclose when they make more than $5,000 from selling any asset. Link offered the same response to that question as he did to the form’s other questions: “N/A,” short for “not applicable.”

Maine State Ethics Board Fines Mills’ Inaugural Committee for Late Fundraising
Portland Press Herald – Scott Thistle | Published: 12/18/2019

Maine’s ethics commission fined the inaugural committee of Gov. Janet Mills $2,000 under a new law requiring disclosure of inaugural committee finances. Mills’ committee was fined for continuing to collect donations 10 months past the legal deadline for doing so. But commissioners also criticized the new law, passed by a ballot initiative, for its tight deadline. The law on inaugural committee fundraising requires committees to finish their work by January 31 and file final finance reports no later than February 15. A bill to change those requirements is expected to be heard during the upcoming session of the Legislature. The inaugural committee continued to collect donations because it was unable to cover its expenses for the January celebration.

Maryland Cheryl Glenn, Recently Resigned Democratic State Delegate from Baltimore, Is Charged with Bribery, Wire Fraud
Baltimore Sun – Pamela Wood and Kevin Rector | Published: 12/23/2019

Former Maryland Del. Cheryl Glenn, who abruptly resigned her long-held seat recently, was charged with bribery and wire fraud. U.S. Attorney Robert Hur said Glenn accepted $33,750 in bribes in exchange for several actions: voting for a bill last year that increased the number of state medical cannabis licenses, introducing legislation to ease the experience requirement to be medical director of an opioid treatment clinic, and introducing legislation to create a new liquor license in her district. Prosecutors said she accepted packets of cash in Baltimore restaurants after frankly negotiating what legislative actions she would take in exchange.

Massachusetts A Career Spent Helping People ‘Do Things Right’: State’s campaign finance chief is retiring
Boston Globe – Matt Stout | Published: 12/24/2019

Mike Sullivan is set to retire as director of the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance, where he has led a transformation from a paper-inundated office in the mid-1990s to today’s nearly all-electronic enterprise policing the state’s campaign finance landscape. For Sullivan, it has been a natural fit. The state’s campaign finance “referee” by day, he has spent his weekends for 34 years officiating football and umpiring baseball games, a second career whose mementos litter his office, alongside those from his public life. One is a sign Sullivan pinned up soon after he was appointed in 1994: “Oops doesn’t cut it when man’s reputation is ruined.”

Massachusetts Correctional Officers PAC Pays $45,000 for Campaign Finance Violations Related to Buying Signs for Gov. Charlie Baker Campaign
MassLive.com – Shira Schoenberg | Published: 12/20/2019

A correctional officers’ PAC will pay $45,000 to address campaign finance violations related to buying signs for campaigns including Gov. Charlie Baker’s. The Massachusetts Correction Officers Federated Union PAC was required by the Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) to pay $22,500 to the state’s general fund and $22,500 to a charity of the PAC’s choice. OCPF said the PAC donated more than the allowed political contributions to multiple candidates. The issue was not about direct donations, but in-kind contributions like political signs. Under state law, a PAC cannot contribute more than $500 in cash or anything else of value to a campaign each year. A PAC can spend an unlimited amount of money independently, as long as it does not coordinate with the candidate’s campaign.

Massachusetts Ex-Speaker Sal DiMasi’s Latest Bid to Be a Lobbyist Is Denied
Boston Globe – Matt Stout | Published: 12/26/2019

Former Massachusetts House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi’s appeal to register as a state lobbyist was denied by a hearing officer, a move that is expected to push his months-long bid to lobby on Beacon Hill to Superior Court. DiMasi had challenged Secretary of State William Galvin’s decision to reject his application to register, when he said the former speaker’s 2011 federal conviction on public corruption charges includes “conduct in violation” of state lobbying and ethics laws and should automatically prohibit him from lobbying for 10 years, or until June 2021.DiMasi argued that when state lawmakers overhauled the lobbying law in 2009, they did not include any of the federal statutes on which he was convicted among those that would disqualify him.

Michigan Audit Pings State Bureau of Elections on Voter File, Training, Campaign Finance Oversight
Detroit Free Press – Beth LeBlanc and Craig Maurer | Published: 12/27/2019

Michigan’s Bureau of Elections failed to properly safeguard the state’s file of 7.5 million qualified voters, a discrepancy that allowed an unauthorized user to access the file and increased the risk of an ineligible elector voting in Michigan, according to a report from the Office of Auditor General. Elections officials lack proper training in more than 14 percent of counties, cities, and townships, the audit also found. And the bureau did not make timely reviews for campaign statements, lobby reports, and campaign finance complaints.

Michigan Michigan Supreme Court Revives Recall Petitions against Rep. Larry Inman
MLive.com – Julie Mack | Published: 12/30/2019

The Michigan Supreme Court revived a recall campaign against state Rep. Larry Inman, reversing a decision by the Court of Appeals to disqualify petition signatures because of typographical errors. Inman was accused earlier this year of soliciting a bribe, extortion, and lying to police stemming from a request for campaign contributions in the lead-up to a close vote last legislative session. A jury found Inman not guilty of making a false statement to an FBI agent, but could not decide on whether to find him guilty for the bribery and extortion charges, resulting in a mistrial.

Minnesota DFL Legislator’s Post at the U Did Not Violate Ethics Laws, Review Concludes
Minneapolis Star Tribune – Torey Van Oot | Published: 12/30/2019

A lawmaker did not violate state ethics rules when he accepted a paid job with a University of Minnesota think tank, despite evidence of preferential treatment in the hiring process, an investigation concluded. The hiring of Rep. Jamie Long for a $50,000 temporary post at the Institute on the Environment’s Energy Transition Lab attracted scrutiny after internal documents showed he and the hiring manager, a former Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party senator, discussed the role for months before the opening was posted publicly. House Republicans also raised questions about whether the job itself included lobbying, which is prohibited by legislative rules, and presented a conflict-of-interest for Long.

New Jersey #MeToo Was Supposed to Fix Things. But Women in N.J. Politics Say They’ve Been Groped, Harassed – and Worse.
Newark Star Ledger – Susan Livio and Kelley Heboyer (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 12/29/2019

Twenty female campaign staffers, lobbyists, political operatives, and lawmakers shared stories of being groped, sexually propositioned, harassed, or marginalized while trying to build careers in state and local politics in New Jersey. They painted a portrait of a casually misogynistic system of politics and government where it is nearly impossible for women to remain in the business without having to navigate everything from sexist insults to assaults on their bodies. Almost all said the two marquee political gatherings – the annual Chamber of Commerce “Walk to Washington” train trip and the League of Municipalities convention – remain minefields despite a perception that conditions have improved in recent years. None of the women reported the alleged groping, sexual misconduct, or assaults. They said they feared speaking out would hurt their careers.

New Jersey Who Are the 5 N.J. Officials Facing Public Corruption Charges?
Newark Star Ledger – Brent Johnson (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 12/19/2019

The school board president of New Jersey’s second-largest city. A former state lawmaker. An ex-county freeholder. A one-time local councilperson. A former freeholder candidate who is also the wife of Morristown’s mayor. In New Jersey’s latest big corruption sting, five current and former public officials and political candidates have been charged with taking thousands of dollars in bribes disguised as campaign contributions from an unnamed tax attorney who was cooperating as a witness, the state attorney general announced. In exchange, they promised to hire the attorney for lucrative legal work, according to the complaint. The defendants from Hudson and Morris counties accepted money stuffed in envelopes, paper bags, and, in one case, a coffee cup, authorities said.

New York New York Ethics Agency Votes Down ‘Self-Assessment’ of Its Operations
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg and Brendan Lyons | Published: 12/17/2019

The members of New York’s embattled ethics commission voted down a “self-assessment” proposal to examine their internal operations, and also that of the state inspector general’s office. In a rare public deliberation on a controversial matter, members of the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) voted against a proposal to authorize an assessment of two of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s so-called watchdog agencies. Their unusual call for an assessment of the inspector general’s office comes after that office recently conducted an investigation into, but did not substantiate, allegations that confidential JCOPE matters were leaked to the governor.

New York New York’s New Public Campaign Funding System on the Books
AP News – Maria Villeneuve | Published: 12/23/2019

A plan to root out corruption by using public money to fund campaigns in New York is moving forward. A commission hashed out a system to spend up to $100 million in public funds on elections, and lawmakers had until December 22 to return for a rare special session to outright reject the plan, which they did not do. The plan has drawn scrutiny from Republicans and Democrats alike who are expected to fine-tune the plan’s details next year. And lawmakers will have time to make changes: commissioners delayed the program four years for state legislative races and six years for statewide races. The commission, meanwhile, is facing lawsuits filed by Republicans, minor political parties, and good government groups who claim the commission is overstepping its authority and hurting third parties.

Oregon Ethics Commission Finds Multiple Ethics Law Violations by Former PSU President Rahmat Shoureshi
Portland Oregonian – Jeff Manning | Published: 1/1/2020

The Oregon Government Ethics Commission determined Rahmat Shoureshi, former president of Portland State University, violated state ethics laws three times in his short stint leading the school. Shoureshi agreed to resign as the university’s top executive last May after he had come under fire for his treatment of employees and several ethically dubious deals. Highly touted as a “change agent” who would bring private-sector ambition and discipline to Oregon’s largest university, Shoureshi lasted less than two years on the job.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s New Board of Parole Pick Is Suing the House Finance Chair for Slander
The Tennessean – Natalie Allison | Published: 12/30/2019

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s new appointee to the state Board of Parole says she will continue to pursue a slander lawsuit against the chairperson of the House Finance committee, a longtime political rival from whom she is seeking $100,000. Mae Beavers, a former state lawmaker, was appointed by Lee to a seat on the board, a six-year position paying $102,000 a year. Beavers is suing Rep. Susan Lynn, alleging the fellow Wilson County politician spread rumors about Beavers breaking into Lynn’s home and trying to have Lynn killed. Beavers also says a former county election commissioner defamed her character.

Virginia On Va. Democrats’ 2020 To-Do List, Voting Rights Seem to Top Campaign Finance Reform
Virginia Mercury – Graham Moomaw | Published: 1/2/2020

It is not unusual for statehouse leaders in Virginia to take in one last post-election fundraising haul before turning their attention to legislative business that, in some cases, has a direct impact on donors’ financial interests. What will be different in 2020, after a record-breaking election cycle that saw the two parties raise a combined $121 million, is that Democrats will have the power to change the largely open-ended campaign finance system many of them have criticized in the past. But as new Democratic majorities prepare to reshape state law in a wide variety of policy areas, campaign finance reform does not appear to be a major piece of the first-year agenda.

Virginia Va. House Speaker-Designee Filler-Corn Leaves Job at Lobbying Firm
Richmond Times-Dispatch – Mel Leonor and Patrick Wilson | Published: 12/31/2019

Virginia House Speaker-elect Eileen Filler-Corn is stepping down from her job at a lobbying and consulting firm, helping to alleviate the potential for conflicts-of-interest as she prepares for the leadership role. Filler-Corn was the government relations director at Albers & Company, which lobbies the Virginia Legislature and governor’s office on health care and energy issues. Filler-Corn was not a lobbyist, but some of her clients had interests or dealings before state government.

Washington Washington Rep. Matt Shea Engaged in Domestic Terrorism Against U.S., Says State House Report
Seattle Times – David Gutman, Jim Brunner, and Joseph O’Sullivan | Published: 12/19/2019

A state lawmaker took part in “domestic terrorism” against the U.S. during a 2016 standoff at a wildlife refuge in Oregon and traveled throughout the West meeting with far-right extremist groups, according to a report prepared for the Washington Legislature. The investigation also found Rep. Matt Shea trained young people to fight a “holy war,” condoned intimidating opponents, and promoted militia training by the Patriot Movement for possible armed conflict with law enforcement. Incoming House Speake Laurie Jinkins said the report had been forwarded to federal prosecutors and the FBI. Shea has also pursued creation of a 51st state in eastern Washington that would be called Liberty.

Wisconsin To Recognize Black History Month, GOP Lawmaker Proposes a List of Mostly White People
MSN – Reis Thebault (Washington Post) | Published: 12/31/2019

In Wisconsin, one state lawmaker wants to mark Black History Month by celebrating 10 Americans – including a Civil War colonel, a newspaper editor, and a church deacon. All are heralded for their bravery; but most on the list are white. The resolution identifies a group of people integral to the state’s Underground Railroad system, both slaves who traveled it and abolitionists who sheltered them. The author, state Rep. Scott Allen, says it is a sincere effort to salute important historical figures. But several black legislators have called the effort disingenuous and said it undermines the purpose of Black History Month: to highlight the accomplishments of African Americans so often overlooked in classrooms and history books.

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January 2, 2020 •

Thursday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance Florida: “‘Wild West:’ Florida legislators’ PACs amass hundreds of millions of dollars” by Mark Harper and Abigail Brashear (Daytona Beach News-Journal) for Tallahassee Democrat Massachusetts: “Correctional Officers PAC Pays $45,000 for Campaign Finance Violations Related to Buying Signs […]

Campaign Finance

Florida: “‘Wild West:’ Florida legislators’ PACs amass hundreds of millions of dollars” by Mark Harper and Abigail Brashear (Daytona Beach News-Journal) for Tallahassee Democrat

Massachusetts: “Correctional Officers PAC Pays $45,000 for Campaign Finance Violations Related to Buying Signs for Gov. Charlie Baker Campaign” by Shira Schoenberg for MassLive.com

New York: “New York’s New Public Campaign Funding System on the Books” by Maria Villeneuve for AP News

Ethics

Michigan: “Michigan Supreme Court Revives Recall Petitions against Rep. Larry Inman” by Julie Mack for MLive.com

Minnesota: “DFL Legislator’s Post at the U Did Not Violate Ethics Laws, Review Concludes” by Torey Van Oot for Minneapolis Star Tribune

New Jersey: “$10,000 in a Coffee Cup: 8 swept up in N.J. political corruption cases” by Michael Gold (New York Times) for MSN

Tennessee: “Gov. Bill Lee’s New Board of Parole Pick Is Suing the House Finance Chair for Slander” by Natalie Allison for The Tennessean

Lobbying

Illinois: “Nonprofits Get a Break from City Lobbying Rules” by A.D. Quig for Crain’s Chicago Business

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December 31, 2019 •

Tuesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance Maine: “State Ethics Board Fines Mills’ Inaugural Committee for Late Fundraising” by Scott Thistle for Portland Press Herald Massachusetts: “A Career Spent Helping People ‘Do Things Right’: State’s campaign finance chief is retiring” by Matt Stout for Boston […]

Campaign Finance

Maine: “State Ethics Board Fines Mills’ Inaugural Committee for Late Fundraising” by Scott Thistle for Portland Press Herald

Massachusetts: “A Career Spent Helping People ‘Do Things Right’: State’s campaign finance chief is retiring” by Matt Stout for Boston Globe

Michigan: “Audit Pings State Bureau of Elections on Voter File, Training, Campaign Finance Oversight” by Beth LeBlanc and Craig Maurer for Detroit Free Press

Ethics

National: “Rick Gates Gets 45 Days of Weekend Jail, 3 Years of Probation” by Darren Samuelsohn and Josh Gerstein for Politico

National: “Behind the Ukraine Aid Freeze: 84 days of conflict and confusion” by Eric Lipton, Maggie Haberman, and Mark Mazzetti (New York Times) for MSN

Maryland: “Cheryl Glenn, Recently Resigned Democratic State Delegate from Baltimore, Is Charged with Bribery, Wire Fraud” by Pamela Wood and Kevin Rector for Baltimore Sun

New Jersey: “#MeToo Was Supposed to Fix Things. But Women in N.J. Politics Say They’ve Been Groped, Harassed – and Worse.” by Susan Livio and Kelley Heboyer (NJ Advance Media) for Newark Star Ledger

Lobbying

Florida: “A Place for Progressives: People’s Advocacy Center in Tallahassee is made for citizen-lobbyists” by James Call for Tallahassee Democrat

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December 30, 2019 •

Monday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance National: “Warren Embraced the High-Dollar Fundraiser Circuit for Years – Until Just Before Her Presidential Campaign” by Annie Linskey and Michelle Ye Hee Lee for MSN Elections Georgia: “Federal Judge Will Not Reverse Georgia’s Decision to Purge 100,000 […]

Campaign Finance

National: “Warren Embraced the High-Dollar Fundraiser Circuit for Years – Until Just Before Her Presidential Campaign” by Annie Linskey and Michelle Ye Hee Lee for MSN

Elections

Georgia: “Federal Judge Will Not Reverse Georgia’s Decision to Purge 100,000 Voters” by Hannah Knowles (Washington Post) for Seattle Times

Ethics

Hawaii: “Free Lunch from a Contractor Is Annual Tradition at Honolulu Hale” by Christina Jedra for Hololulu Civil Beat

Illinois: “State Senator Who Wore Wire on Fellow Lawmaker Failed to Report $50,000 Condo Sale Profit, Records Show” by David Heinzman and Jason Meisner for Chicago Tribune

New York: “New York Ethics Agency Votes Down ‘Self-Assessment’ of Its Operations” by Chris Bragg and Brendan Lyons for Albany Times Union

Washington: “G.O.P. Lawmaker Had Visions of a Christian Alternative Government” by Mike Baker (New York Times) for MSN

Lobbying

Illinois: “City Council Approves Ban on Aldermen Lobbying State, Local Governments” by Fran Spielman for Chicago Sun-Times

Massachusetts: “Ex-Speaker Sal DiMasi’s Latest Bid to Be a Lobbyist Is Denied” by Matt Stout for Boston Globe

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December 16, 2019 •

Monday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance Pennsylvania: “Ex-Philly Judge Who Accepted a $90K Payoff from Bob Brady’s Campaign Is Spared Prison Time” by Jeremy Roebuck for Philadelphia Inquirer Tennessee: “Appeals Court Tosses Tennessee Laws That Created a Donation Blackout for Nonpartisan PACs” by Adam […]

Campaign Finance

Pennsylvania: “Ex-Philly Judge Who Accepted a $90K Payoff from Bob Brady’s Campaign Is Spared Prison Time” by Jeremy Roebuck for Philadelphia Inquirer

Tennessee: “Appeals Court Tosses Tennessee Laws That Created a Donation Blackout for Nonpartisan PACs” by Adam Tamburin for The Tennessean

Ethics

National: “Trump’s D.C. Hotel Is at the Center of Anti-Corruption, Emoluments Lawsuit” by Jonathan O’Connell and Ann Marimow (Washington Post) for Connecticut Post

National: “Pentagon Inspector General to Review $400 Million Border Wall Contract Given to Firm Trump Favored” by Nick Miroff (Washington Post) for San Francisco Chronicle

National: “Panel Approves Impeachment Articles and Sends Charges for a House Vote” by Nicholas Fandos (New York Times) for MSN

Illinois: “Ex-Top Aide to Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown Given 2 Years in Prison as Judge Notes Brown’s Absence. ‘And She’s Not Here to Help You When You Need Help.’” by Jason Meisner for Chicago Tribune

Maryland: “Baltimore County Names Director to Olszewski’s New Ethics Office: A deputy state prosecutor” by Wilborn Nobles III for Baltimore Sun

Montana: “Lawmaker Retreat Comes Under Question, Faces Delay” by Holly Michels for Helena Independent Record

Procurement

California: “Judge Blocks LA Law Requiring Contractors to Disclose NRA Ties” by Martin Macias Jr. for Courthouse News Service

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