June 24, 2020 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance Georgia: “Ethics Commission Fines Group That Backed Stacey Abrams $50,000” by Dale Russell for WAGA Missouri: “Missouri Politicians Get Around Contribution Limits by Using PACs” by Jordan Meier, Mawa Iqbal, and Spencer Norris for Columbia Missourian Elections National: […]
Georgia: “Ethics Commission Fines Group That Backed Stacey Abrams $50,000” by Dale Russell for WAGA
Missouri: “Missouri Politicians Get Around Contribution Limits by Using PACs” by Jordan Meier, Mawa Iqbal, and Spencer Norris for Columbia Missourian
National: “Why Obsessive K-Pop Fans Are Turning Toward Political Activism” by Joe Coscarelli (New York Times) for MSN
National: “Amid Threats and Political Pushback, Public Health Officials Are Leaving Their Posts” by Rachel Weiner and Ariana Eungjun Cha (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Twitter Labels Trump Video Tweet as Manipulated Media, Continuing Its Crackdown on Misinformation” by Kat Zakrzewski (Washington Post) for MSN
Arizona: “Arizona House Ethics Chair Weighs Holding Hearings into Claims Against Lawmaker” by Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services) for Arizona Daily Star
California: “Los Angeles Councilman Arrested and Charged with Bribery” by Jeremy White for Politico
Florida: “FBI Investigating Mayor Milissa Holland, Palm Coast Ex-Officials Say” by Matt Bruce and Erica Von Braun for Daytona Beach News-Journal
Vermont: “Candidate Incomes Outpace Average Vermonter; Advocates Seek More Disclosure” by Jasper Goodman and Kit Norton for VTDigger.org
National: “Trade Groups Make Lobbying Push to Be Included in Small Business Loan Program” by Alex Gangitano for The Hill
June 23, 2020 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance National: “FEC to Take Public Comments on Petition to Close ‘Bloomberg Loophole’” by Karl Evers-Hillstrom for Center for Responsive Politics New Jersey: “N.J. Corruption Scheme Involving Pay-to-Play Contracts Leads to Charges Against Law Firm Partner” by Ted Sherman […]
National: “FEC to Take Public Comments on Petition to Close ‘Bloomberg Loophole’” by Karl Evers-Hillstrom for Center for Responsive Politics
New Jersey: “N.J. Corruption Scheme Involving Pay-to-Play Contracts Leads to Charges Against Law Firm Partner” by Ted Sherman (NJ Advance Media) for Newark Star Ledger
National: “Sign of the Times: The return of campaign door knockers” by Christopher Cadelago for Politico
California: “L.A. County Has Found the Cause of Its Hourslong Poll Lines. It Wasn’t the New Voting Machines.” by Kim Zetter for Politico
National: “Treasury, SBA Cave to Demands for Bailout Transparency” by Victoria Guida for Politico
National: “Judge: Bolton can publish book despite efforts to block” by Eric Tucker for AP News
Maryland: “Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh Pleads Guilty in State Court to Perjury in ‘Healthy Holly’ Scandal” by Tim Prudente for Baltimore Sun
South Carolina: “Conflict of interest? Councilman with Ties to Richland Mega Church Pushed Road Project” by Andrew Kaplan for The State
National: “Ex-Sens. Lott, Breaux Announce Move to Crossroads Strategies” by Kate Ackley for Roll Call
June 22, 2020 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance California: “Former East Bay Elections Chief Charged with 34 Felony Counts Related to Illegal Campaign Spending” by Annie Sciacca for San Jose Mercury News Colorado: “Campaign Contribution Not a Reason to Disqualify Judge from Case, Court of Appeals […]
California: “Former East Bay Elections Chief Charged with 34 Felony Counts Related to Illegal Campaign Spending” by Annie Sciacca for San Jose Mercury News
Colorado: “Campaign Contribution Not a Reason to Disqualify Judge from Case, Court of Appeals Rules” by Michael Kralick for Colorado Politics
National: “Russia. Ukraine. China. Bolton Account Highlights Pattern of Trump Welcoming Foreign Political Help.” by Rosalind Helderman and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) for MSN
Georgia: “House Republican Leaders Condemn GOP Candidate Who Made Racist Videos” by Ally Mutnick ans Stephanie Zanona for Politico
National: “Trump Ousts Manhattan U.S. Attorney Who Investigated President’s Associates” by Rosalind Helderman, Ellen Nakashima, Matt Zapotosky, and Seung Min Kim (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Facebook Removes Trump Ads with Symbol Once Used by Nazis to Designate Political Prisoners” by Isaac Stanley-Becker (Washington Post) for MSN
Canada: “Conservative Senator Victor Oh Faces Censure for Free Trip to China” by Robert Fife and Steven Chase for The Globe and Mail
Illinois: “Rules Requiring Nonprofits to Register as Lobbyists Delayed Until 2021” by Heather Cherone for WTTW
Pennsylvania: “Top Pa. GOP Lawmaker Fast-Tracking a Lucrative Gambling Expansion That Would Benefit a Major Campaign Donor” by Angela Couloumbis (Spotlight PA), Brad Bumsted (The Caucus), and Sam Jenesh (The Caucus) for Philadelphia Inquirer
June 19, 2020 • Written by Jim Sedor
National/Federal Appeals Judges Reluctant to Force Immediate End to Flynn Case Politico – Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney | Published: 6/12/2020 A federal appeals court panel appears poised to reject, at least for now, Michael Flynn’s effort to force a judge […]
Appeals Judges Reluctant to Force Immediate End to Flynn Case
Politico – Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney | Published: 6/12/2020
A federal appeals court panel appears poised to reject, at least for now, Michael Flynn’s effort to force a judge to dismiss the criminal case against him. Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, is urging the courts to swiftly toss out his case after Attorney General William Barr moved to drop the prosecution. But the three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit expressed serious reservations about cutting short the typical process and forcing the trial judge assigned to Flynn’s case, Emmet Sullivan, to act before he has a chance to consider his options.
As Trump Warns of Leftist Violence, a Dangerous Threat Emerges from the Right-Wing Boogaloo Movement
MSN – Craig Timberg (Washington Post) | Published: 6/17/2020
A far-right extremist movement born on social media and fueled by anti-government rhetoric has emerged as a real-world threat in recent weeks, with federal authorities accusing some of its adherents of working to spark violence at largely peaceful protests roiling the nation. At a time when President Trump and other top U.S. officials have claimed, with little evidence, that leftist groups were fomenting violence, federal prosecutors have charged various supporters of a right-wing movement called the “boogaloo bois” with crimes related to plotting to firebomb a U.S. Forest Service facility, preparing to use explosives at a peaceful demonstration, and killing a security officer at a federal courthouse.
Bolton Says Trump Impeachment Inquiry Missed Other Troubling Episodes
MSN – Peter Baker (New York Times) | Published: 6/17/2020
John Bolton, the former national security adviser, says in his new book the U.S. House in its impeachment inquiry should have investigated President Trump not just for pressuring Ukraine but for a variety of instances when he sought to use trade negotiations and criminal investigations to further his political interests. While other books by journalists and lower-level former aides have revealed much about the Trump White House, Bolton’s volume is the first tell-all memoir by such a high-ranking official who participated in major foreign policy events and has a lifetime of conservative credentials. It is a portrait of a president ignorant of basic facts about the world, susceptible to transparent flattery by authoritarian leaders manipulating him, and prone to false statements, and snap decisions that aides try to manage or reverse.
Ethics Probe into Rep. Alcee Hastings Ends After Disclosure He Married Aide
Politico – John Bresnahan | Published: 6/12/2020
An investigation into whether U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings had an improper relationship with one of his aides was dropped after it was disclosed the Florida Democrat has been married to the staffer since January 2019. The House ethics committee also announced it was creating a special investigative subcommittee to investigate allegations Del. Michael San Nicolas of Guam had an improper sexual relationship with a congressional staffer, broke campaign finance laws, and lied to governments. San Nicolas’ former chief of staff has accused the delegate of having an affair with the woman in question and then hiring her in his congressional office.
Justice Department Seeks Emergency Order to Block Publication of Bolton’s Book
MSN – Tom Hamburger, Rosalind Helderman, Devlin Barrett, and Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 6/17/2020
The Justice Department sought an emergency order from a judge to block the publication of former national security adviser John Bolton’s forthcoming White House memoir, escalating a legal battle against him. The move came after the Trump administration filed a civil suit against Bolton, targeting the proceeds of the book and asking a court to order him to delay its scheduled June 23 release. Less than 24 hours later, The Wall Street Journal released an excerpt of the memoir, and lengthy accounts were published by other news organizations. The latest action sought to formally enjoin Bolton from allowing his book to be published, a legal strategy experts said was unlikely to succeed, particularly given the book has already been printed and shipped to warehouses and copies distributed to the media for review.
K Street Backrooms Morph Into ‘the Zoom Where It Happens’
Roll Call – Kate Ackley | Published: 6/15/2020
The upheaval of the coronavirus pandemic along with the wave of protests for racial justice and equality will leave a lasting imprint on the lobbying sector – on the strategies for influencing lawmakers and on the policy agenda. This moment also has expedited the long-running, but slow-to-change conversations about spurring diversity on K Street and in its pipeline for personnel, Capitol Hill. Some of the permanent transformations, like more Zoom conferences and fewer in-person meetings even after the pandemic ends, may appear minor adaptations. For an industry, like politics itself, built around face-to-face relationships with conversations sparked at high-dollar fundraising events, even some of the seemingly little shifts may galvanize a larger metamorphosis in the long run.
Members of Congress Took Small-Business Loans – and the Full Extent Is Unknown
Politico – Sarah Ferris, Melanie Zanona, and Zachary Warmbrodt | Published: 6/16/2020
A group of lawmakers acknowledged close ties to companies that received loans from the Paycheck Protection Program, businesses that are either run by their families or employ their spouse as a senior executive. There are almost certainly more, according to aides and lawmakers. But only the Small Business Administration (SBA) and Treasury Department have that information, and the Trump administration is refusing to provide any details. That leaves it entirely up to business owners, including elected officials, to decide whether to come forward about a loan, which can be as large as $10 million. The program is being dogged by growing transparency complaints, with Treasury and SBA refusing to disclose recipients.
New Generation of Activists, Deeply Skeptical of Democratic Party, Resists Calls to Channel Energy into the 2020 Campaign
MSN – Cleve Wootson Jr. (Washington Post) | Published: 6/14/2020
George Floyd’s killing ignited protests in more than 750 U.S. cities, with participants of all races in every corner of the country. The uprising is also a potential boon for Democrats, inspiring thousands of new grassroots organizers just as the party seeks to mobilize young voters and other core liberals to defeat President Trump and retake the U.S. Senate. Many of the country’s top Democrats have exhorted the activists to channel their energy toward the election. But the Democrats have so far failed to tap into the newly emerging protest movement, even turning off some activists who see early outreach efforts as hollow gestures. Many said they remain skeptical of the political system and the Democratic Party, which they said has a history of promising change and falling short.
Now You Can Opt Out of Seeing Political Ads on Facebook
New York Times – Mike Isaac | Published: 6/16/2020
Facebook said it would allow people in the U.S. to opt out of seeing social issue, electoral, or political ads from candidates or PACs in their Facebook or Instagram feeds. The ability to hide those ads will begin with a small group of users, before rolling out to the rest of the United States and later to several other countries. The move allows Facebook to play both sides of a complicated debate about the role of political advertising on social media ahead of the November election. With the change, Facebook can continue allowing political ads to flow across its network, while also finding a way to reduce the reach of those ads and to offer a concession to critics who have said the company should do more to moderate noxious speech on its platform.
Police Unions Face Lobbying Fights at All Levels of Government
The Hill – Alex Gangitano | Published: 6/12/2020
Police unions are gearing up for their biggest lobbying fights in years as lawmakers at all levels of government push to reform law enforcement practices and protections. In Congress, the brewing battle comes as House Democrats have introduced sweeping legislation to overhaul aspects of the criminal justice system, with Senate Republicans expected to unveil their proposal soon. The National Fraternal Order of Police, the country’s largest police group that represents over 330,000 officers, is expected to play a major role. Police unions also have to prepare for fights outside the Beltway.
QAnon Marches Toward the Halls of Congress
Politico – Tina Nguyen | Published: 6/15/2020
QAnon adherents are now filtering into electoral politics. According to Media Matters, there are 51 candidates running for Congress who have promoted the messages of “Q” – a mysterious internet figure who drops digital “crumbs” about a secret war President Trump is waging against a cabal of pedophile political elites in Washington, D.C. Seven of them emerged recently in congressional Republican primaries. One, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, is favored to eventually end up in Congress. Trump invited one of Qanon’s top promoters to pose with him in the Oval Office, and retweeting over 130 tweets that directly reference QAnon-related claims. Now the president is seeing a tangible political benefit from the relationship, the GOP candidates who reference QAnon are also those who cling most closely to Trump.
Senate Aides Say There’s Work to Be Done on Staffer Diversity, After Tim Scott Airs Criticism
Roll Call – Katherine Tully-McManus and Kathryn Lyons | Published: 6/11/2020
Sen. Tim Scott called out the lack of racial diversity among staff in certain U.S. Senate offices, which highlighted how little data is available on staffer demographics. It also got staff and senators talking about how to tackle the problem. Although there are varying opinions on how to boost diversity, many agree that a major problem is a lack of data on diversity of race, gender, and socioeconomic backgrounds among staff. Scott, the only black Republican in the chamber, said he would like the Senate to conduct a study of staff member demographics and pay.
Senate Ethics Panel Dismisses Insider-Trading Inquiry into Sen. Loeffler
Washington Post – Colby Itkowitz | Published: 6/16/2020
The Senate Ethics Committee dismissed its investigation into U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler for alleged insider trading ahead of the coronavirus pandemic, notifying her it found “no evidence” she violated the law or chamber rules. The panel’s decision follows the Justice Department, which closed its probe of Loeffler’s stock sales before the pandemic crashed the markets. The Justice Department dismissed similar probes into U.S. Sens. James Inhofe and Dianne Feinstein but is still looking into U.S. Sen. Richard Burr for alleged insider trading.
‘Sharpiegate’ Controversy Laid to Uneasy Rest
Courthouse News Service – Tim Ryan | Published: 6/16/2020
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Administrator Neil Jacobs violated the agency’s ethics policy when he contradicted and silenced a local National Weather Service office about a hurricane’s path. President Trump wrote on Twitter that Hurricane Dorian would hit Alabama “harder than anticipated.” A few minutes later, the National Weather Service office in Birmingham posted on Twitter: “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from Dorian.” Days later, Jacobs’ office issued an unsigned statement calling the Birmingham office’s posting “inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time.” That statement turned out to be the result of pressure from the White House on Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who threatened to fire the political staff at the agency unless the contradiction of Trump was addressed.
The Rising Trump Lawyer Battling to Reshape the Electorate
New York Times – Danny Hakim and Stephanie Saul | Published: 6/15/2020
In 2013, a lawyer named William Consovoy appeared on a Brookings Institution panel to discuss his leading role in a recently decided voting-rights case. Days earlier, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled certain states, particularly in the South, would no longer need Justice Department approval before redrawing districts, moving polling places or making other electoral changes. Consovoy’s work on voting cases across the country is drawing increased attention in this presidential election year roiled by pandemic and protest. In recent weeks, his firm, Consovoy McCarthy, has fought against extending the deadline for mail-in voting in Wisconsin, sought to thwart felons from being re-enfranchised in Florida, and sued to block California’s plan to send absentee ballots to all registered voters.
Trump Health Official’s Approach to Contracts Faces Scrutiny
Roll Call – Emily Kopp | Published: 6/10/2020
A company that won a $628 million contract from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is one that Robert Kadlec, the official who leads the agency’s pandemic response, knows well. Kadlec, the assistant secretary for preparedness and response, served as a consultant to Emergent Biosolutions until 2015. Since Kadlec’s 2017 confirmation, the company has received more than $1.2 billion from the division Kadlec oversees, including a part of HHS known as the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). The contract raises questions because a complaint by former BARDA Director Rick Bright alleges Kadlec and other officials may have broken the law by awarding lucrative contracts to former business acquaintances and friends.
Trump Rally Attendees Must Agree Not to Sue Campaign Over Potential Coronavirus Exposure
Politico – Caitlin Oprysko | Published: 6/11/2020
Supporters of President Trump will soon be able to attend one of his signature, raucous campaign rallies again after a months-long hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic, but first, they must agree not to sue the campaign if they contract the virus after the event. The Trump campaign sent out registration information for the president’s first rally since March, with the campaign’s chief operating officer, Michael Glassner, proclaiming there is “no better place” to restart rallies than Tulsa, Oklahoma. But the fine print on the registration page for the event that has been rescheduled for June 20 underscores the continued health risks associated with reviving the “Make America Great Again” rallies, which pack thousands of supporters into arenas for hours at a time.
Canada – Canada’s Ethics Czar Investigates Former Canadian Envoy to Washington Over His Work for Palantir
Politico – Abby Blatchford | Published: 6/13/2020
Canada’s ethics watchdog is investigating David MacNaughton, Ottawa’s former envoy to the U.S., to determine if he broke conflict-of-interest laws after taking a senior role last year with the data analytics firm Palantir. Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion says he launched a probe into MacNaughton’s interactions with senior government officials since he became president of Palantir’s Canadian branch. MacNaughton, who has close ties to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, took the job shortly after leaving the ambassador’s post. Dion said he will explore whether MacNaughton violated a rule that prohibits him from “taking improper advantage” of his previous public office and another forbidding him from making representations to anyone with whom he had “direct and significant official dealings” during his last year in public office.
Canada – Lobbying Watchdog Seeks Budget Hike Amid Pandemic-Induced Surge in Lobbying
Yahoo Finance – Canadian Press | Published: 6/11/2020
The federal lobbying watchdog is asking for a budget increase to enable her office to modernize the way it registers lobbyists and keeps track of their activities in Canada, just as it is seeing a surge in lobbying sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic. Lobbying commissioner Nancy Belanger says 441 lobbyists have registered with her office to make their case to the federal government on matters related to the pandemic. Belanger’s request for a budget hike is not directly related to the pandemic-induced increase in lobbying. She said she put in the request before COVID-19 began wreaking havoc on the global economy.
From the States and Municipalities
Alabama – Judge Rules Birmingham Airport Authority Employees Not Under Ethics Law
AL.com – Mike Cason | Published: 6/15/2020
Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Brooke Reid agreed with lawyers for the Birmingham Airport Authority, who argued airport employees are not public employees because they are not paid from taxpayer funds. Their salaries come from fees that airlines, car rental companies, and other vendors pay to use the airport. The ruling rejected an advisory opinion from the Alabama Ethics Commission. The ethics law is intended to prevent public officials and public employees from using their public positions for personal gain and to require them to disclose conflicts of interest. Airport Authority attorney Mark White said it was not meant to cover employees for public corporations like the authority.
Alaska – Alaska Supreme Court Approves Election-Reform Ballot Measure
Anchorage Daily News – James Brooks | Published: 6/13/2020
In November, Alaskans will decide whether to impose ranked-choice voting, nonpartisan primary elections, and tough new rules on campaign finance disclosure. The Alaska Supreme Court upheld a lower-court decision and confirmed the legality of a proposed multipart ballot measure including all three topics. The state had argued the measure violated a constitutional requirement that ballot measures be limited to one subject.
Arizona – Arizona Asks Appeals Court to Block Laws That Regulate Campaign Finance
KAWC – Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services) | Published: 6/10/2020
An attorney for the state asked the Court of Appeals to block the Citizens Clean Elections Commission from enforcing certain laws that regulate how much candidates and others in Arizona can spend on campaigns and what the public must be told about it. Tim Berg said the Legislature was within its power in crafting exceptions to campaign finance laws. He said the changes were not directly part of the Clean Elections Act which voters enacted. But commission attorney Joseph Roth said the changes violated the Voter Protection Act, which bars legislators from tinkering with what voters enacted because it effectively nullified what voters approved because of the way lawmakers crafted the proposal. He said that unconstitutionally undermined the intent of the law which was designed to reduce the influence of money on politics.
Arizona – House Committee Report Says Globe Lawmaker Had Romantic Relationship with Lobbyist
Arizona Daily Star – Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services) | Published: 6/12/2020
A report by the Arizona House Ethics Committee accuses state Rep. David Cook of having an undisclosed relationship with a lobbyist, one that the investigators said was romantic. The report prepared by outside lawyers hired to investigate Cook also says he called Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb about plans to seize property in which the lobbyist, AnnaMarie Knorr, had an interest and Lamb subsequently called off the sale. It also says there is evidence of Cook’s “use of alcohol while conducting official business, including a meeting at the governor’s office.”
California – Public Health Funds Are Needed More Than Ever but Lack ‘Lobbying Muscle’ in California
Los Angeles Times – Angela Hart (California Healthline) | Published: 6/15/2020
California Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state Legislature are expected to reject a plea from local public health officials for an additional $150 million a year to battle the COVID-19 pandemic and protect against future threats. Public health officials vow to continue making their case. Persuading lawmakers to increase spending in a time of cuts will be difficult because public health does not carry the same political clout in the Capitol as power players such as hospitals, doctors, or public employee unions, which plow millions of dollars into lobbying each year. “I’ve not met anybody who is a lobbyist for public health,” said Assemblyperson Jim Wood, who chairs the Assembly Health Committee.
Colorado – Ethics Panel Fines Former Colorado Gov. Hickenlooper $2,750
AP News – Staff | Published: 6/13/2020
The Colorado Independent Ethics Commission fined U.S. Senate candidate John Hickenlooper $2,750 for ethics violations he committed as governor that included accepting a private jet flight to an official event and receiving benefits he did not pay for at a meeting of government, business, and financial leaders in Italy. Hickenlooper insisted his intent was to promote Colorado’s economy as governor. But he acknowledged that on several occasions he did not seek an opinion from the commission on individual gifts. He also acknowledged he did not get formal training on the state’s ethics law.
Connecticut – Family Investments, Coronavirus Pandemic Put Gov. Ned Lamont on Ethical Tightrope
Hartford Courant – Edmund Mahoney | Published: 6/14/2020
As the first Connecticut governor married to a venture capitalist with a $1.9 billion portfolio, Ned Lamont anticipated conflict between his decisions about where to spend the state’s billions and his wife’s about where to invest hers. Ann Lamont is a successful financier – one whose business has its investments divided between the health care industry during a viral pandemic and financial technology while married to a governor pledging to drag the state government into the digital age. The torrent of state money poured into coronavirus mitigation has produced at least one convergence of state and family money, much as Gov. Lamont anticipated. But it also shows the Lamonts expected such an eventuality and, early in the new administration, drafted an ethics plan they believe insulates them from a variety of personal and state business decisions that could otherwise create an appearance of self-dealing.
Florida – Could Potential for Conflicts Influence Review of Miami’s Powerful Zoning Code?
Miami Herald – Andres Viglucci | Published: 6/15/2020
Should three prominent Miami developers’ attorneys be permitted to participate in a new task force that is revising the city’ Miami 21 zoning code? That is the question that kept the three lawyers specializing in land use from joining eight other experts at the task force’s inaugural meeting. All three attorneys are registered to act as lobbyists for dozens of developers seeking waivers and city zoning and development approvals under Miami 21, including some proposing controversial projects.
Iowa – Kim Reynolds Confirms She Will Sign Felon Voting Rights Executive Order
Des Moines Register – Stephen Miller-Gruber and Ian Richardson | Published: 6/16/2020
Gov. Kim Reynolds said she will sign an executive order restoring voting rights to people with past felony convictions, a move that will address Iowa’s status as the last state in the country with a lifetime ban on felon voting. More than 60,000 Iowans, including nearly one in ten African American adults, are barred from voting in the state due to a prior felony conviction. Reynolds has pushed the Legislature to approve an amendment to the state constitution to make the process of regaining voting rights automatic once felons have completed their sentences. But Republicans in the Iowa Senate killed the proposal each year. The Legislature this year without the Senate voting on the measure.
Maine – Would-Be Clean Elections Candidates Find It Harder to Qualify During Pandemic
Portland Press Herald – Scott Thistle | Published: 6/17/2020
Officials at the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Campaign Finance said fewer candidates who wanted to participate in the state’s clean elections program were able to qualify. To qualify, candidates must collect qualifying five-dollar contributions from at least 60 registered voters in their district. Two candidates said physical distancing due to the coronavirus pandemic made it far more difficult to collect the qualifying funds. “The law is designed for legislative candidates to meet their neighbors in their districts and ask for … contributions documented with a signature on a form,” Commission Executive Director Jonathan Wayne said. “That was much harder because candidates could not go door-to-door, as they had in years past.”
Maryland – Payments by Auto Insurer for Former Baltimore Mayor Pugh Were Illegal, State Review Finds
Baltimore Sun – Meredith Cohn | Published: 6/17/2020
Payments made by Maryland’s quasi-governmental auto insurer to then-Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh for her Healthy Holly children’s books violated state law, according to a letter that state regulators sent to the Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund. The ruling by the Maryland Insurance Administration (MIA) is likely among the last of the outstanding reviews into the book deals that led to Pugh’s resignation and guilty plea for a fraud scheme that brought her hundreds of thousands of dollars. The MIA had said it was investigating at least three insurers that acknowledged making payments for the books, but officials deferred action until other law enforcement agency investigations were complete.
Nebraska – Nebraska Democrats Renounce Their Senate Pick Over Comments
AP News – Grant Schulte | Published: 6/17/2020
The Nebraska Democratic Party called on its U.S. Senate nominee to drop out of the race after he made graphic sexual comments about a campaign staff member in a group text with her and other staffers. The party said its state executive committee voted unanimously to withdraw all of its resources from Chris Janicek’s campaign. Janicek tried walk back those comments as “a joke,” and texted an apology to the group. The female staffer texted back that she was appalled by his comments and could no longer support his campaign.
New Jersey – Candidates Would Not Be Able to Use Campaign Cash to Settle Sexual Harassment Claims Under Bill
Newark Star Ledger – Samantha Marcus (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 6/15/2020
Legislation passed by the New Jersey Senate would bar candidates for public office from using campaign money to settle allegations of sexual assault and sexual harassment and bar the state from entering into non-disclosure agreements. #MeToo movement advocates say these nondisclosure agreements have kept workplace disputes under wraps and mask the pervasiveness of the sexual harassment problem in the workplace.
North Dakota – Judge Nixes North Dakota Group’s Call for Online Signatures
AP News – Staff | Published: 6/16/2020
A federal judge said he will not waive North Dakota’s ban on electronic signature gathering for a group attempting to get a wide-ranging measure on the November ballot. North Dakota Voters First asked to allow online signature gathering because of the coronavirus pandemic. U.S. District Court Judge Peter Welte said the group was not likely to succeed on a First Amendment rights violation because petitioners have up to a year to collect signatures. The judge added that the state did not issue any stay-at-home orders and Gov. Doug Burgum on May 1 “revoked nearly all the previously imposed pandemic-related restrictions.”
Ohio – Ex-Cuyahoga County Jail Director Lied to Investigators to ‘Protect Armond Budish and Those in His Inner Circle,’ Prosecutors Say
Cleveland Plain Dealer – Cory Shaffer | Published: 6/15/2020
The indicted former director of the Cuyahoga County Jail lied to criminal investigators in 2018 to protect County Executive Armond Budish and his cabinet from scrutiny over a failed attempt to privatize healthcare delivery in the county’s lock-up, prosecutors said. The court filing did not include copies of all of the evidence that prosecutors referenced in it, but it marks the most extensive disclosure yet of the case investigators have built against the man Budish tapped in 2015 to run the county’s jail complex and oversee a plan for the county to house prisoners from the city of Cleveland and surrounding suburbs despite having no experience in corrections.
South Carolina – Special Prosecutor Pascoe Under Fire, and Firing Back, in SC Supreme Court
The State – John Monk | Published: 6/11/2020
At a recent hearing, South Carolina Supreme Court justices peppered special prosecutor David Pascoe and opposing attorney Bobby Stepp with questions about whether Pascoe’s conviction of a former lawmaker on public corruption charges should be overturned. State Rep. Jim Harrison’s guilt or innocence was not argued. The jury that convicted him heard overwhelming evidence that showed Harrison illegally taken nearly $900,000 from the influential consulting firm of Richard Quinn and Associates. What was in dispute was whether Pascoe had exceeded his lawful authority as a special prosecutor appointed by Attorney General Alan Wilson to investigate potential targets named in a confidential section of a State Law Enforcement Division report on allegations of financial wrongdoing in the General Assembly.
Tennessee – Audits: Glen Casada failed to report contributions, keep expense receipt
The Tennessean – Joel Ebert | Published: 6/10/2020
Former Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada failed to accurately report $26,000 in campaign contributions and expenditures and lacked receipts for $104,000 in expenses during a nearly 18-month period, making it difficult to determine their legitimacy, according to a pair of audits. Casada also accepted money during a period when lawmakers are banned from receiving contributions. The Registry of Election Finance indicated it planned to levy just $10,500 in penalties and show significant leniency to Casada, who vowed to maintain better campaign records.
Tennessee – State Election Finance Committee Grants Rep. Staples ‘Grace’ in Campaign Spending Complaint
The Tennessean – Tyler Whetstone | Published: 6/11/2020
Tennessee Rep. Rick Staples’ plea earlier this year for “grace and mercy” from state regulators is closer to being granted and forgiveness is likely on the way. Staples opened his portion of the meeting with the state Registry of Election Finance by admitting he had some $11,000 in unallowable campaign expenditures. He asked for the opportunity to pay them back. The panel, in return, praised Staples’ openness and opted to defer a ruling until July. These conversations followed a number of reports in recent months that uncovered more than $10,000 in questionable campaign spending.
Texas – Texas Democrats Ask U.S. Supreme Court to Weigh in on Voting by Mail
Texas Tribune – Alexa Ura | Published: 6/16/2020
After a series of losses in state and federal courts, Texas Democrats are looking to the U.S. Supreme Court to expand voting by mail during the coronavirus pandemic. The Texas Democratic Party asked the high court to immediately lift the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ block on a ruling that would allow all Texas voters who are seeking to avoid becoming infected at in-person polling places to instead vote by mail. Under existing law, mail-in ballots are available only if voters are 65 or older, cite a disability or illness, will be out of the county during the election period, or are confined in jail.
Virginia – Rep. Riggleman Ousted in Virginia GOP Convention After Presiding Over Same-Sex Marriage
Beaumont Enterprise – Jenna Portnoy (Washington Post) | Published: 6/14/2020
U.S. Rep. Denver Riggleman, who drew criticism from within his party for presiding over a same-sex wedding, lost the GOP nomination to challenger Bob Good, a former Liberty University fundraiser who describes himself as a “biblical conservative.” The defeat of Riggleman puts the Virginia seat potentially within reach for Democrats in the general election for the first time in more than a decade, analysts say.
Washington – Ethics Complaint Dismissed Against Kennewick Mayor. Should Ethics Code Cover Personal Life?
The Tri-City Herald – Annette Cary | Published: 6/15/2020
The ethics officer for the city of Kennewick, Washington, reversed his finding that there should be a hearing to consider evidence that Mayor Don Britain may have violated the city’s ethics code. Attorney Thomas Atwood, who serves as the ethics officer on an as-needed basis, was convinced to change his recommendation based on the mayor’s argument the ethics policy for city council members should only apply to conduct directly related to city activities or council business. Atwood said an exception could be made to consider personal conduct if there were egregious behavior outside of city business, such as a felony conviction or conviction of a crime of moral turpitude, neither of which applies to Britain’s case, Atwood wrote in his decision.
Washington – Tim Eyman’s Lawyer Says Anti-Tax Activist Is Victim of ‘Judicial Lynching’
Seattle Times – David Gutman | Published: 6/12/2020
Tim Eyman’s lawyer said the gubernatorial candidate and longtime anti-tax activist is the victim of a “judicial lynching.” It is the latest incident in recent weeks in which Eyman, or his team, has used inflammatory language to compare himself to victims of racism. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, in a case that has dragged on for years, has charged Eyman with violating campaign finance law to enrich himself, laundering political donations and accepting kickbacks. Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon ruled Eyman has been in violation of campaign finance laws for at least the last seven years, concealing nearly $800,000 in political contributions. Ferguson asked Dixon to impose unspecified sanctions on Sanders, accusing him of filing a “repetitive, unfounded, misleading, and offensive” brief.
June 18, 2020 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance National: “Now You Can Opt Out of Seeing Political Ads on Facebook” by Mike Isaac for New York Times New Jersey: “Candidates Would Not Be Able to Use Campaign Cash to Settle Sexual Harassment Claims Under Bill” by […]
National: “Now You Can Opt Out of Seeing Political Ads on Facebook” by Mike Isaac for New York Times
New Jersey: “Candidates Would Not Be Able to Use Campaign Cash to Settle Sexual Harassment Claims Under Bill” by Samantha Marcus (NJ Advance Media) for Newark Star Ledger
National: “New Generation of Activists, Deeply Skeptical of Democratic Party, Resists Calls to Channel Energy into the 2020 Campaign” by Cleve Wootson Jr. (Washington Post) for MSN
Iowa: “Kim Reynolds Confirms She Will Sign Felon Voting Rights Executive Order” by Stephen Miller-Gruber and Ian Richardson for Des Moines Register
Nebraska: “Nebraska Democrats Renounce Their Senate Pick Over Comments” by Grant Schulte for AP News
North Dakota: “Judge Nixes North Dakota Group’s Call for Online Signatures” by Staff for AP News
Texas: “Texas Democrats Ask U.S. Supreme Court to Weigh in on Voting by Mail” by Alexa Ura for Texas Tribune
National: “Senate Ethics Panel Dismisses Insider-Trading Inquiry into Sen. Loeffler” by Colby Itkowitz for Washington Post
National: “Justice Department Asks Court to Order Bolton to Stop the Release of His Book” by Tom Hamburger and Josh Dawsey for Washington Post
Maryland: “Payments by Auto Insurer for Former Baltimore Mayor Pugh Were Illegal, State Review Finds” by Meredith Cohn for Baltimore Sun
Washington: “Ethics Complaint Dismissed Against Kennewick Mayor. Should Ethics Code Cover Personal Life?” by Annette Cary for The Tri-City Herald
June 17, 2020 • Written by Jim Sedor
Elections National: “The Rising Trump Lawyer Battling to Reshape the Electorate” by Danny Hakim and Stephanie Saul for New York Times Ethics National: “‘Sharpiegate’ Controversy Laid to Uneasy Rest” by Tim Ryan for Courthouse News Service National: “Members of Congress […]
National: “The Rising Trump Lawyer Battling to Reshape the Electorate” by Danny Hakim and Stephanie Saul for New York Times
National: “‘Sharpiegate’ Controversy Laid to Uneasy Rest” by Tim Ryan for Courthouse News Service
National: “Members of Congress Took Small-Business Loans – and the Full Extent Is Unknown” by Sarah Ferris, Melanie Zanona, and Zachary Warmbrodt for Politico
Canada: “Canada’s Ethics Czar Investigates Former Canadian Envoy to Washington Over His Work for Palantir” by Abby Blatchford for Politico
Alabama: “Judge Rules Birmingham Airport Authority Employees Not Under Ethics Law” by Mike Cason for AL.com
Florida: “Could Potential for Conflicts Influence Review of Miami’s Powerful Zoning Code?” by Andres Viglucci for Miami Herald
Ohio: “Ex-Cuyahoga County Jail Director Lied to Investigators to ‘Protect Armond Budish and Those in His Inner Circle,’ Prosecutors Say” by Cory Shaffer for Cleveland Plain Dealer
National: “K Street Backrooms Morph Into ‘the Zoom Where It Happens’” by Kate Ackley for Roll Call
California: “Public Health Funds Are Needed More Than Ever but Lack ‘Lobbying Muscle’ in California” by Angela Hart (California Healthline) for Los Angeles Times
June 16, 2020 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance Tennessee: “State Election Finance Committee Grants Rep. Staples ‘Grace’ in Campaign Spending Complaint” by Tyler Whetstone for The Tennessean Washington: “Tim Eyman’s Lawyer Says Anti-Tax Activist Is Victim of ‘Judicial Lynching’” by David Gutman for Seattle Times Elections […]
Tennessee: “State Election Finance Committee Grants Rep. Staples ‘Grace’ in Campaign Spending Complaint” by Tyler Whetstone for The Tennessean
Washington: “Tim Eyman’s Lawyer Says Anti-Tax Activist Is Victim of ‘Judicial Lynching’” by David Gutman for Seattle Times
National: “Trump Rally Attendees Must Agree Not to Sue Campaign Over Potential Coronavirus Exposure” by Caitlin Oprysko for Politico
National: “QAnon Marches Toward the Halls of Congress” by Tina Nguyen for Politico
Alaska: “Alaska Supreme Court Approves Election-Reform Ballot Measure” by James Brooks for Anchorage Daily News
Virginia: “Rep. Riggleman Ousted in Virginia GOP Convention After Presiding Over Same-Sex Marriage” by Jenna Portnoy (Washington Post) for Beaumont Enterprise
National: “Appeals Judges Reluctant to Force Immediate End to Flynn Case” by Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney for Politico
Arizona: “House Committee Report Says Globe Lawmaker Had Romantic Relationship with Lobbyist” by Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services) for Arizona Daily Star
National: “Police Unions Face Lobbying Fights at All Levels of Government” by Alex Gangitano for The Hill
June 15, 2020 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance Arizona: “Arizona Asks Appeals Court to Block Laws That Regulate Campaign Finance” by Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services) for KAWC Tennessee: “Audits: Glen Casada failed to report contributions, keep expense receipt” by Joel Ebert for The Tennessean Ethics […]
Arizona: “Arizona Asks Appeals Court to Block Laws That Regulate Campaign Finance” by Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services) for KAWC
Tennessee: “Audits: Glen Casada failed to report contributions, keep expense receipt” by Joel Ebert for The Tennessean
National: “Trump Health Official’s Approach to Contracts Faces Scrutiny” by Emily Kopp for Roll Call
National: “Senate Aides Say There’s Work to Be Done on Staffer Diversity, After Tim Scott Airs Criticism” by Katherine Tully-McManus and Kathryn Lyons for Roll Call
National: “Ethics Probe into Rep. Alcee Hastings Ends After Disclosure He Married Aide” by John Bresnahan for Politico
Colorado: “Ethics Panel Fines Former Colorado Gov. Hickenlooper $2,750” by Staff for AP News
Connecticut: “Family Investments, Coronavirus Pandemic Put Gov. Ned Lamont on Ethical Tightrope” by Edmund Mahoney for Hartford Courant
South Carolina: “Special Prosecutor Pascoe Under Fire, and Firing Back, in SC Supreme Court” by John Monk for The State
Canada: “Lobbying Watchdog Seeks Budget Hike Amid Pandemic-Induced Surge in Lobbying” by Canadian Press for Yahoo Finance
June 12, 2020 • Written by Jim Sedor
National/Federal Amid Pandemic and Upheaval, New Cyber Risks to the Presidential Election MSN – David Sanger, Nicole Perlroth, and Matthew Rosenberg (New York Times) | Published: 6/7/2020 The rush to accommodate remote voting is leading a small number of states to […]
Amid Pandemic and Upheaval, New Cyber Risks to the Presidential Election
MSN – David Sanger, Nicole Perlroth, and Matthew Rosenberg (New York Times) | Published: 6/7/2020
The rush to accommodate remote voting is leading a small number of states to experiment with or expand online voting, an approach the Department of Homeland Security deemed “high risk” in a recent report. It has also put renewed focus on the assortment of online state voter registration systems, which were among the chief targets of Russian hackers in 2016. Their security is central to ensuring that, come November, voters receive their mail-in ballots or can gain access to online voting. While Russian hackers stopped short of manipulating voter data in 2016, American officials determined the effort was likely a dry run for future interference.
Appeals Court Upholds Order to Restore Reporter’s White House Press Pass
Politico – Josh Gerstein | Published: 6/10/2020
A federal appeals court endorsed a judge’s order restoring a White House press pass to a reporter who wound up in a verbal altercation with one of President Trump’s most loyal and outspoken supporters in the Rose Garden last year. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit unanimously ruled the White House violated the constitutional due process rights of Playboy reporter Brian Karem by suspending his pass for 30 days after the heated exchange with talk show host and former White House aide Sebastian Gorka at the end of a social media summit.
‘Bloomberg Loophole’ Paves the Way for Rich Donors to Ignore Contribution Limits
Sludge – David Moore | Published: 6/5/2020
After suspending his presidential bid, Michael Bloomberg transferred $18 million from his campaign to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to back its organizing push in 12 battleground states. The DNC’s windfall far exceeds the $35,500 maximum legal contribution an individual can give to a national party committee in the 2019-2020 election cycle, and watchdogs immediately flagged it as pushing the boundaries of campaign finance law. The legal justification for the transfer comes down to a quirk of FEC reporting practice, said Brendan Fischer of the Campaign Legal Center.
Coronavirus Was Paul Manafort’s Ticket Home. Many Other Old, Ill, Nonviolent Inmates Are Still in Prison.
USA Today – Kristine Phillips | Published: 6/9/2020
Attorneys and advocates say there are many old and nonviolent prisoners who are not a threat to public safety and yet remain behind bars, even as the coronavirus continues to infect hundreds of inmates and staff. The way in which the federal Bureau of Prisons has implemented Attorney General William Barr’s order to expedite moving vulnerable prisoners to home confinement has been inconsistent, confusing, and slow, attorneys and advocates say. The agency has broad discretion in determining who can spend the rest of their sentence at home, but how this gets decided is cloaked in secrecy.
Crapo Staffer Told FBI the Senator Gave Permission for $250K Campaign Investment into Get-Rich-Quick Scheme
The Post Register – Betsy Russell | Published: 6/1/2020
Newly released FBI documents say U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo’s campaign told the FBI the senator “was aware of and approved” the investment of $250,000 of his campaign donors’ funds into a risky get-rich-quick scheme “at the time of the transaction” in 2008, in which the money disappeared. Crapo, who now chairs the banking committee, has said repeatedly since 2013, when the news broke of the loss of his campaign funds in the scheme, that he knew nothing about it until late 2010, after the money was gone. Documents showed Crapo’s then-campaign manager, Jake Ball, invested the money into the scheme at a time when the campaign was between treasurers.
‘Everything about this is irregular’: Ex-judge tapped to review Flynn case blasts Trump DOJ
Politico – Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney | Published: 6/10/2020
A former federal judge selected to advise on a path forward in the criminal case against Michael Flynn is accusing the Justice Department of exercising a “gross abuse of prosecutorial power” to protect an ally of President Trump, distorting known facts and legal principles to shield former national security adviser from a jail sentence. Former U.S. District Court Judge John Gleeson skewered Attorney General William Barr’s handling of the case, describing it as an “irregular” effort that courts would “scoff” at were the subject anyone other than an ally of Trump. The brief featured a reconstruction of the Flynn case and accused the department of contradicting its own arguments and precedents to justify dropping the case against Flynn.
Ex-Sen. Trent Lott: Squire Patton Boggs took ‘low road’ in split
Roll Call – Kate Ackley | Published: 6/9/2020
Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott says his ex-firm Squire Patton Boggs “took the low road” in reportedly firing him. Lott added that another former senator, John Breaux, was also planning to leave the lobby shop. Coming amid worldwide demonstrations against killings by police against African Americans, Lott’s exit was viewed on K Street as potentially linked to comments he made that drove him from Senate GOP leadership. Speaking at an event for U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday, Lott recalled Mississippi had supported Thurmond’s segregationist run for president in 1948. “And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years, either,” Lott said in 2002.
Feds Press Criminal Case Against Flynn Partner
Politico – Josh Gerstein | Published: 6/7/2020
The Justice Department is pressing forward with its criminal case against Bijan Rafiekian, a onetime business partner of Michael Flynn, despite Attorney General William Barr’s decision to seek to abandon the prosecution of the former national security adviser to President Trump. The filing mentions Flynn’s integral role in the work that led to the two foreign-agent-related felony charges against Rafiekian and maintains the government’s position that Flynn was a co-conspirator in his business partner’s crimes. While the case included an admission by Flynn that he signed off on inaccurate Foreign Agent Registration Act filings about the project that led to Rafiekian’s prosecution: a $600,000 contract Flynn signed for his Flynn Intel Group at the height of the presidential campaign in 2016 to lobby on behalf of a Dutch firm.
GAO Offers Congress Steps to Protect Independence of Federal Watchdogs
Politico – Kyle Cheney | Published: 6/8/2020
Lawmakers could take steps to prevent President Trump or other executive branch leaders from undermining the independence of federal watchdogs, according to a new report from Congress’ internal audit agency. Trump, who has bristled at the independence of inspectors general, has leaned heavily on temporary appointees to fill the powerful posts, leaving them more susceptible to pressure from within the administration. In some cases, he has turned to officials who already serve in senior roles inside the agency. The Government Accountability Office says lawmakers could require those “dual-hatted” employees to recuse themselves when their independence could be called into question and to vow in writing to protect the identity of whistleblowers who normally turn to inspectors general for protection.
How the Black Lives Matter Movement Went Mainstream
MSN – Jose Del Real, Robert Samuels, and Tim Craig (Washington Post) | Published: 6/9/2020
The three words were once a controversial rallying cry against racial profiling and police violence. Now, “Black lives matter” is painted in bright yellow letters on the road to the White House. Celebrities and chief executives are embracing it. Even U.S.Sen. Mitt Romney, a Republican former presidential candidate, posted the phrase on Twitter. As consensus grows about the existence of systemic racism in American policing and other facets of American life, longtime organizers of the Black Lives Matter movement are trying to extend its momentum beyond the popularization of a phrase. Activists sense an opportunity to demand policy changes that once seemed far-fetched.
Joe Biden Let Police Groups Write His Crime Bill. Now, His Agenda Has Changed.
Laredo Morning Times – Michael Kranish (Washington Post) | Published: 6/8/2020
Joe Biden’s close relationship with police groups while crafting the landmark 1994 crime bill legislation reflected his decades-long partnership with them as he embraced a tough-on-crime persona, one that extended to his work as vice president when he served as a liaison between police and the White House. Now, as Biden runs for president amid a national reckoning over police violence and racial injustice, that long alliance is threatening to undermine a cornerstone of his candidacy. The presumptive Democratic nominee is seeking to channel the anger of African Americans, one of his party’s most important voting blocs, by calling for “real police reform” and promising to combat systemic racism. In doing so, Biden is promising to undo some of the very measures he helped enact.
Political Advertising Grows on Streaming Services, Along with Questions About Disclosure
CNN – Fredreka Schouten | Published: 6/3/2020
Campaign commercials are running more often on services like Hulu, a sign of streaming’s growing importance in the world of politics as more Americans cut the cord on cable subscriptions and independent groups, candidates, and political parties seek new ways to reach their target audiences. The coronavirus pandemic and the stay-at-home orders it triggered across the country appear to have accelerated growth for streaming services. But the migration by candidates, super PACs, and parties to streaming services has set off alarms for some campaign finance watchdogs because the advertising is not subject to the same disclosure requirements that have governed traditional media for decades.
Political Donations Dropped Off as Coronavirus Pandemic Peaked
Center for Responsive Politics – Karl Evers-Hillstrom | Published: 6/9/2020
Political fundraising took an intense dip as the coronavirus pandemic ravaged the nation in mid-March and early April, according to an analysis of campaign contributions. The pandemic forced the leading presidential candidates to cancel in-person fundraisers that would have netted their campaigns millions of dollars. High-profile congressional candidates paused their fundraising activities to assist relief efforts. And the virus’ economic damage that forced 40 million to file for unemployment may have prompted potential donors to save their money.
Rep. Steve King Toxic to K Street
Roll Call – Kate Ackley | Published: 6/3/2020
U.S. Steve King, a pariah within his own party for racist comments, would be too controversial for lobbying firms, trade associations, and corporations after losing his primary election, say lobbyists and K Street headhunters, even as many former lawmakers decamp for such jobs. Many companies and lobbying groups issued statements offering support for racial justice efforts amid protests over the death of George Floyd that have gripped the nation. King also had lost influence among his colleagues well before he lost the Republican primary in Iowa’s Fourth Congressional District.
Tech Group Files First Lawsuit Against Trump Over Executive Order Targeting Social Media
Washington Post – Tony Romm | Published: 6/2/2020
A tech group supported by Facebook, Google, and Twitter filed a lawsuit against President Trump, alleging his executive order targeting social media giants threatens to “curtail and chill constitutionally protected speech” during the presidential election. The challenge brought by the Center for Democracy and Technology marks the first major legal test of Trump’s directive, which paves the way for federal agencies to investigate and penalize some of Silicon Valley’s most popular platforms over the way they police politically oriented posts, photos, and videos across the Web.
Trump Draws Rebukes for Suggesting 75-Year-Old Protester Pushed to the Ground in Buffalo Was Part of a ‘Set Up’
Laredo Morning Times – John Wagner (Washington Post) | Published: 6/9/2020
President Trump put forth an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory about Martin Gugino, a 75-year-old protester in Buffalo who suffered head injuries after he was pushed to the pavement by police. A cellphone video of the encounter has now been seen by millions of people and led to assault charges against two officers. Trump tweeted that the confrontation may have been a “set up” coordinated by anti-fascist demonstrators. Trump drew a rebuke from James Martin, a Jesuit priest. “[Gugino] is a peace activist and volunteer with the Catholic Worker movement,” Martin tweeted. “Why spread rumors about someone who embodies the Beatitudes? … Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers,’ not the rumormongers.”
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – Attorney for Arizona Tells Federal Court Legislature Can Remove Members with Two-Thirds Vote
KAWC – Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services) | Published: 6/3/2020
Attorneys for the state and a former Arizona House speaker told a federal court the Legislature is free to remove members for any reason at all, including political affiliation and race, as long as they can muster a two-thirds vote. Steve Tully said there was nothing wrong with the procedures used by J.D. Mesnard, who was speaker in 2018, to investigate then-Rep. Don Shooter and eventually have a vote that resulted in his ouster. The claim drew a skeptical response from Judge Marsha Berzon. She asked whether if the Democrats controlled most of the seats, they could simply decide to remove all Republicans.
California – Fundraiser Pleads Guilty in L.A. City Hall Corruption Case
Los Angeles Times – Joel Ebert | Published: 6/3/2020
A political operative pleaded guilty to bribery, admitting he helped a real estate developer pay off a Los Angeles City Council member for help with a major development project. The guilty plea by Justin Jangwoo Kim is the latest turn in an on-going investigation by the FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office into “pay-to-play” schemes and other corruption in City Hall. Many details included in the court records have identified the council member as Jose Huizar, who served on a council committee that handles real estate projects and whose offices and home were raided by FBI agents in 2018. Huizar has not been charged with a crime in the case.
California – L.A. Police Union Spent Big in Local Elections. Some Politicians Now Shun the Money
Los Angeles Times – Emily Alpert Reyes | Published: 6/10/2020
The Los Angeles Police Protective League, which represents rank-and-file officers, has been a significant force in local elections. In the past decade, the union has given more than $100,000 directly to city candidates. Its independent expenditure committees, which cannot legally be controlled by candidates and do not have the same limits on donations, have spent millions of dollars more. Now, that money is under scrutiny by city residents supporting a national movement against police brutality, and some local politicians say they will not accept it anymore.
California – ‘This Is Money Laundering 101’; More People Charged in Widening SF Public Corruption Probe
KPIX – Staff | Published: 6/8/2020
Three defendants in San Francisco’s public corruption scandal – Sandra Zuniga, Balmore Hernandez, and Florence Kong – were charged with a variety of federal crimes including money laundering, bribery, and making false statements to investigators stemming from a probe of Mohammed Nuru, the former San Francisco Public Works Chief. Nuru was charged for an alleged scheme to bribe a San Francisco Airport commissioner. The complaint against Nuru also alleged he engaged in several additional schemes, including obtaining free and discounted labor and construction equipment from contractors to help him build a personal vacation home while those contractors were also engaging in business with the city.
Colorado – Ethics Commission Concludes Hickenlooper Violated Colorado’s Gift Ban for Public Officials
Colorado Public Radio – Andrew Kennedy | Published: 6/5/2020
The Independent Ethics Commission ruled U.S. Senate candidate John Hickenlooper violated Colorado ethics law as governor by accepting a private jet flight to an official event and by receiving benefits he did not pay for at a meeting of government, business, and financial leaders in Italy. The commission dismissed four other complaints against Hickenlooper that were filed by a conservative group led by a former Colorado House speaker. It scheduled a June 12 hearing to discuss possible fines for the violations as well as for a contempt order it issued when Hickenlooper ignored a subpoena to appear at its hearing.
Florida – GOP Expects to Move Its Convention to Jacksonville After Dispute with North Carolina Over Pandemic Safeguards
MSN – Annie Linskey and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 6/9/2020
Seeking a city willing to allow a large-scale event amid the coronavirus pandemic, Republicans have tentatively settled on Jacksonville, Florida, as the new destination for the premier festivities of the Republican National Convention (RNC) in August. The details of the arrangement are still in flux and RNC aides are scrambling to determine whether the city has enough hotel rooms to accommodate the quadrennial event, which typically kicks off the final stretch of the presidential campaign. The highly unusual decision to seek an alternative location for the convention’s marquee events stems from President Trump’s desire to accept his party’s nomination before an enormous crowd.
Georgia – Georgia’s Election Mess: Many problems, plenty of blame, few solutions for November
New York Times – Richard Fausset and Reid Epstein | Published: 6/10/2020
As multiple investigations begin into what went wrong during with the Georgia primary elections, and as Democrats accuse the state’s Republicans of voter suppression, a picture emerged of a systematic breakdown that both revealed general incompetence and highlighted some of the thorny and specific challenges the coronavirus pandemic may pose to elections officials nationwide. As it seeks answers, Georgia is being roiled by a politically volatile debate over whether the problems were the result of mere bungling, or an intentional effort by Republican officials to inhibit voting. Georgia is expected to be a presidential battleground in November, as well as the site of two contested Senate races that could determine control of the chamber.
Hawaii – How A Major Campaign Donor Got A Million-Dollar Cleaning Contract in Honolulu
Honolulu Civil Beat – Blaze Lovell | Published: 6/8/2020
The city and county of Honolulu in March gave a $1.4 million contract to a local industrial cleaning company to clean Oahu’s buses every night so the fleet could operate through the coronavirus pandemic. But H2O Process Systems got the contract without having to go through the usual competitive bidding process because the law governing purchases for government agencies was suspended as part of Hawaii Gov. David Ige’s emergency proclamation. H2O Process System’s owner, Milton Choy, has been a prolific political donor to Hawaii’s mayors, governors, and lawmakers.
Iowa – Gov. Kim Reynolds Signs ‘Compromise’ Felon Voting Restriction Bill into Law
KGAN – Caroline Cummings | Published: 6/4/2020
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill into law that will establish some restrictions if voters ratify a constitutional amendment automatically restoring felons’ voting rights at the completion of their sentence. Current law, the strictest in the nation, bans people with felony records from voting for life unless they successfully petition the governor to get those rights restored. The policy is enshrined in the state constitution and the governor has advocated for the last two years to pass an amendment to change that.
Maryland – Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh Expected to Plead Guilty to Perjury in State Case
Baltimore Sun – Tim Prudente | Published: 6/9/2020
Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh is expected to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of perjury in state court, Maryland State Prosecutor Charlton Howard III said, before she departs for federal prison in Alabama. Prosecutors charged her with perjury for willfully omitting her lucrative “Healthy Holly” children’s book business from the financial disclosure forms she filed as a state senator. The perjury charge carries a maximum of 10 years in state prison. Pugh’s federal prison term has been postponed pending the resolution of the state case.
Missouri – Democratic Club in North St. Louis County Fined $2,500 for Cash Withdrawal, Reporting Failures
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Jack Suntrup | Published: 6/4/2020
A St. Louis County Democratic club faces a $2,500 fine after the Missouri Ethics Commission found the group made cash payments to 13 campaign workers and did not properly document the spending in disclosure reports. The Norwood Township Democratic Club’s will have to pay the state $1,600 if it pays within 45 days. The group will have to pay the full fine if it commits any more violations within two years.
Nevada – Judge Extends Signature-Gathering Deadline for Proposed Redistricting Commission Ballot Question
Nevada Independent – Riley Snyder | Published: 5/29/2020
An effort to place a ballot question creating an independent redistricting commission on the 2020 ballot will have a second chance at life after a federal judge agreed to extend a June deadline to turn in signatures for the petition under “unique factual circumstances” brought by the COVID-19 pandemic U.S. District Court Judge Miranda Du partially granted the request of Fair Maps Nevada to extend the deadline to collect signatures for the petition, which needs to garner 97,598 signatures by June 24 to make it on to the ballot. Attorneys for the group had said it collected around 10,000 signatures before Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered nonessential business shutdowns and other social distancing directives in mid-March.
New Jersey – N.J. Legislative Aide Accused of Rape Resigns Though Investigation Found No Proof of Wrongdoing, Sources Say
Newark Star Ledger – Susan Livio (NJ Advance Media) and Kelly Heyboer (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 6/4/2020
A staff member in the New Jersey Assembly accused of raping a female lobbyist is stepping down from his job after an internal investigation. No charges are expected to be filed against the man, however, after an internal investigation initiated by the state Legislature did not find enough evidence to prove the sexual assault claim. The alleged victim in the case has appealed the ruling and the case is ongoing.
New York – State Ethics Panel Split Over Charges of Cuomo Influence
Albany Times Union – Brendan Lyons | Published: 6/10/2020
Six members of the New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) have called on the panel’s chairperson, Michael Rozen, to conduct a search for an “independent” executive director amid longstanding criticism that JCOPE’s leadership and operations have been too closely aligned with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature. JCOPE’s top staff position has been vacant since the departure a year ago of former Cuomo counsel Seth Agata, whose resignation left the embattled commission in search of its fourth executive director in eight years.
Ohio – Councilman Matt Zone, Chair of Police Oversight Committee, Acknowledges Son Is a Cleveland Officer
Cleveland Plain Dealer – Robert Higgs | Published: 6/9/2020
Cleveland City Councilperson Matt Zone publicly acknowledged for the first time his son is serving as an officer with the city police department that Zone oversees as chair of council’s Public Safety Committee. Zone said he checked with the Ohio Ethics Commission when his son joined the police force in December 2015 and was assured that retaining his leadership position on the committee would not pose a problem. Zone also said he chose not to make a public disclosure at the time so as not to cause a distraction for his son as he started his new job. Zone’s disclosure comes as police leaders face criticism from some members of the public about whether the department was adequately prepared for demonstrations on May 30 that evolved into looting in downtown Cleveland.
Oregon – Oregon Redistricting Campaign Hopes Huge Mailing Will Help Initiative Qualify for November Ballot
Portland Oregonian – Hillary Borrud | Published: 6/10/2020
Oregon voters by the hundreds of thousands are receiving letters asking them to help get an independent redistricting proposal on the November ballot, as coronavirus social distancing guidelines largely rule out traditional signature gathering strategies. Initiative Petition 57 would transfer the job of redrawing Oregon’s legislative and congressional district lines from the state Legislature to a new 12-member commission. Supporters must gather 149,360 valid signatures by July 2 to qualify the initiative for the ballot.
Oregon – The Oregonian/OregonLive’s ‘Polluted by Money’ Wins Inaugural Collier Prize
Portland Oregonian – Staff | Published: 6/10/2020
“Polluted by Money,” a four-part series by Portland Oregonian reporter Rob Davis, won the inaugural Collier Prize for State Government Accountability. The prize is administered by the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. The series exposed how Oregon’s lack of campaign finance limits led to an easy tolerance of polluters by state lawmakers who benefited from campaign contributions. After the series ran, lawmakers referred a long-stalled constitutional amendment to the November 2020 ballot, which will allow Oregonians to decide whether they want to make political contributions limits legal.
Pennsylvania – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Staff Revolts Over Sidelining of 2 Black Colleagues
New York Times – Rachel Abrams and Marc Tracy | Published: 6/10/2020
Two prominent black staff members, a reporter, and a photojournalist at The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said newsroom leaders had unfairly kept them from covering the protests against racism and police violence. The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, the union that represents the paper’s staff members, called on readers to send letters demanding that reporter Alexis Johnson and photojournalist Michael Santiago be allowed to cover the protests. More than 80 Post-Gazette staff members have taken the side of their sidelined colleagues in social media posts, the guild said.
South Carolina – Judge Throws Out Upstate Lawmaker’s Suit Against SC GOP, Primary Challenger
The State – Maayan Schechter | Published: 6/5/2020
A South Carolina judge threw out a lawsuit filed by a lawmaker who sued the state Republican Party and its primary backed challenger, Vaughn Parfitt, over allegations the GOP spent beyond the legal expenditure limits. State Rep. Jonathon Hill alleged the party violated ethics laws by spending more than $5,000 on Hill’s primary challenger by way of campaign mailers on multiple dates. Hill’s complaint said the GOP is limited to spending no more than $1,000 per election cycle in support of any campaign.
Tennessee – Campaign Finance Officials Uphold $465,000 Fine Against Ex-Lawmaker Jeremy Durham
MSN – Joel Ebert (The Tennessean) | Published: 6/10/2020
The Tennessee Registry of Election Finance rejected an administrative law judge’s decision regarding a $465,000 fine levied against former state Rep. Jeremy Durham. The registry unanimously voted in favor of rejecting an opinion from Administrative Law Judge Steve Darnell, who said the panel excessively fined Durham while saying auditors failed to prove his expenditures were illegal. Darnell’s decision came after Durham, who was ousted from the Legislature after facing allegations of inappropriate sexual contact with at least 22 women, appealed the registry’s massive fine against him for violating campaign finance law hundreds of times.
Tennessee – Judge: Tennessee must allow postal voting for all amid virus
Politico – Associated Press | Published: 6/4/2020
Tennessee must give all its 4.1 million registered voters the option to cast ballots by mail during the coronavirus pandemic, Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle ruled. Lyle said the state’s limits on absentee voting during the pandemic constitute “an unreasonable burden on the fundamental right to vote guaranteed by the Tennessee Constitution.” The decision upends a determination by Secretary of State Tre Hargett’s office that fear of catching or unwittingly spreading the virus at the polls would not qualify someone to vote by mail. The state argued such an expansion would not be feasible for the 2020 elections, claiming lack of money, personnel, and equipment for increased voting by mail, among other concerns.
Texas – Federal Appeals Court Extends Block on Voting-by-Mail Expansion in Texas
Texas Tribune – Alexa Ura | Published: 6/4/2020
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals extended its order blocking a lower court’s sweeping ruling that would have allowed all Texas voters to qualify to vote by mail during the coronavirus pandemic. With early voting for the primary runoff elections starting later in June, and the state Supreme Court also blocking expanded voting by mail is a separate case, the ruling effectively eliminates the possibility that Texas voters will be able to legally request mail-in ballots solely because they fear a lack of immunity to the new coronavirus will put them at risk if they vote in person. The issue is likely headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Texas – Furor in Texas GOP After Leaders Post Racist Memes That Suggest Floyd’s Death Is a Hoax
Washington Post – Ted Armus, Meryl Kornfield, and Annie Gowan | Published: 6/6/2020
One Facebook post falsely claimed that the killing of George Floyd in police custody last month was a “staged event,” meant to rile up opposition to President Trump. Another showed a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. next to a banana, an established racist trope. A third claimed that George Soros, the liberal billionaire, paid “white cops to murder black people” and “black people to riot because race wars keep the sheep in line.” All these posts were shared in recent days by Republican county leaders in Texas, some of whom are now facing calls to resign from top officials within their own party. The posts have unleashed controversy in the state where Republicans are struggling to beat back Democratic advances in the diversifying electorate.
Washington – Judge Orders Freedom Foundation to Pay $80,000 in Attorney General’s Campaign Finance Case
Access Washington – Washington Attorney General’s Office | Published: 6/8/2020
A Thurston County Superior Court judge ordered the Freedom Foundation to pay $80,000 for violating Washington’s campaign finance law. State Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s lawsuit asserted the organization failed to properly and timely file independent expenditure reports disclosing the value of the legal services it provided to support ballot propositions in the cities of Sequim, Chelan, and Shelton, as required. In January of this year, a judge found the Freedom Foundation violated the law.
Washington DC – Trump-Connected Lobbyist Ends Coronavirus Contract with D.C. Amid Bowser, White House Feud
Washington Post – Josh Dawsey and Fenit Nirappil | Published: 6/5/2020
A lobbyist with ties to President Trump, ended his relationship with the District of Columbia as tensions grew between the president and Mayor Muriel Bowser. Brian Ballard was hired by the city to secure coronavirus funding. “We can’t be effective under the current situation,” Ballard said, about an hour after Trump lambasted Bowser on Twitter as part of a days-long feud over protests in the nation’s capital. Ballard has become one of the most profitable lobbyists in Washington during the Trump administration and he fundraises for the president’s campaign.
June 11, 2020 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance California: “L.A. Police Union Spent Big in Local Elections. Some Politicians Now Shun the Money” by Emily Alpert Reyes for Los Angeles Times Missouri: “Democratic Club in North St. Louis County Fined $2,500 for Cash Withdrawal, Reporting Failures” […]
California: “L.A. Police Union Spent Big in Local Elections. Some Politicians Now Shun the Money” by Emily Alpert Reyes for Los Angeles Times
Missouri: “Democratic Club in North St. Louis County Fined $2,500 for Cash Withdrawal, Reporting Failures” by Jack Suntrup for St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Tennessee: “Campaign Finance Officials Uphold $465,000 Fine Against Ex-Lawmaker Jeremy Durham” by Joel Ebert (The Tennessean) for MSN
National: “Beyond Georgia: A warning for November as states scramble to expand vote-by-mail” by Nick Corasaniti and Michael Wines for New York Times
Florida: “GOP Expects to Move Its Convention to Jacksonville After Dispute with North Carolina Over Pandemic Safeguards” by Annie Linskey and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “How the Black Lives Matter Movement Went Mainstream” by Jose Del Real, Robert Samuels and Tim Craig (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Outsider Tapped in Flynn Case Calls Justice Dept. Reversal a ‘Gross Abuse’ of Power” by Charlie Savage and Adam Goldman for New York Times
Maryland: “Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh Expected to Plead Guilty to Perjury in State Case” by Tim Prudente for Baltimore Sun
Ohio: “Councilman Matt Zone, Chair of Police Oversight Committee, Acknowledges Son Is a Cleveland Officer” by Robert Higgs for Cleveland Plain Dealer
National: “Ex-Sen. Trent Lott: Squire Patton Boggs took ‘low road’ in split” by Kate Ackley for Roll Call
June 10, 2020 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance Washington: “Judge Orders Freedom Foundation to Pay $80,000 in Attorney General’s Campaign Finance Case” by Washington Attorney General’s Office for Access Washington Ethics National: “Joe Biden Let Police Groups Write His Crime Bill. Now, His Agenda Has Changed.” […]
Washington: “Judge Orders Freedom Foundation to Pay $80,000 in Attorney General’s Campaign Finance Case” by Washington Attorney General’s Office for Access Washington
National: “Joe Biden Let Police Groups Write His Crime Bill. Now, His Agenda Has Changed.” by Michael Kranish (Washington Post) for Laredo Morning Times
National: “GAO Offers Congress Steps to Protect Independence of Federal Watchdogs” by Kyle Cheney for Politico
National: “Trump Draws Rebukes for Suggesting 75-Year-Old Protester Pushed to the Ground in Buffalo Was Part of a ‘Set Up’” by John Wagner (Washington Post) for Laredo Morning Times
California: “‘This Is Money Laundering 101’; More People Charged in Widening SF Public Corruption Probe” by Staff for KPIX
Florida: “Jacksonville City Council Panel Investigating JEA Seeks Interviews with Curry Aides” by Christopher Hong for Florida Times Union
Mississippi: “Bill That Could End Practice of Public Officials Appearing in Public Service Announcements During Election Years Faces Critical Deadline” by Steve Wilson for Northside Sun
Hawaii: “How A Major Campaign Donor Got A Million-Dollar Cleaning Contract in Honolulu” by Blaze Lovell for Honolulu Civil Beat
June 9, 2020 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance National: “‘Bloomberg Loophole’ Paves the Way for Rich Donors to Ignore Contribution Limits” by David Moore for Sludge South Carolina: “Judge Throws Out Upstate Lawmaker’s Suit Against SC GOP, Primary Challenger” by Maayan Schechter for The State Elections […]
National: “‘Bloomberg Loophole’ Paves the Way for Rich Donors to Ignore Contribution Limits” by David Moore for Sludge
South Carolina: “Judge Throws Out Upstate Lawmaker’s Suit Against SC GOP, Primary Challenger” by Maayan Schechter for The State
National: “Amid Pandemic and Upheaval, New Cyber Risks to the Presidential Election” by David Sanger, Nicole Perlroth, and Matthew Rosenberg (New York Times) for MSN
Tennessee: “Judge: Tennessee must allow postal voting for all amid virus” by Associated Press for Politico
Colorado: “Ethics Commission Concludes Hickenlooper Violated Colorado’s Gift Ban for Public Officials” by Andrew Kennedy for Colorado Public Radio
Texas: “Furor in Texas GOP After Leaders Post Racist Memes That Suggest Floyd’s Death Is a Hoax” by Ted Armus, Meryl Kornfield, and Annie Gowan for Washington Post
National: “Feds Press Criminal Case Against Flynn Partner” by Josh Gerstein for Politico
Washington DC: “Trump-Connected Lobbyist Ends Coronavirus Contract with D.C. Amid Bowser, White House Feud” by Josh Dawsey and Fenit Nirappil for Washington Post
June 8, 2020 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance National: “Political Advertising Grows on Streaming Services, Along with Questions About Disclosure” by Fredreka Schouten for CNN Elections Texas: “Federal Appeals Court Extends Block on Voting-by-Mail Expansion in Texas” by Alexa Ura for Texas Tribune Ethics National: “Tech […]
National: “Political Advertising Grows on Streaming Services, Along with Questions About Disclosure” by Fredreka Schouten for CNN
Texas: “Federal Appeals Court Extends Block on Voting-by-Mail Expansion in Texas” by Alexa Ura for Texas Tribune
National: “Tech Group Files First Lawsuit Against Trump Over Executive Order Targeting Social Media” by Tony Romm for Washington Post
California: “Fundraiser Pleads Guilty in L.A. City Hall Corruption Case” by Joel Ebert for Los Angeles Times
New Jersey: “N.J. Legislative Aide Accused of Rape Resigns Though Investigation Found No Proof of Wrongdoing, Sources Say” by Susan Livio (NJ Advance Media) and Kelly Heyboer (NJ Advance Media) for Newark Star Ledger
Arizona: “Attorney for Arizona Tells Federal Court Legislature Can Remove Members with Two-Thirds Vote” by Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services) for KAWC
National: “Rep. Steve King Toxic to K Street” by Kate Ackley for Roll Call
Nevada: “Judge Extends Signature-Gathering Deadline for Proposed Redistricting Commission Ballot Question” by Riley Snyder for Nevada Independent
June 5, 2020 • Written by Jim Sedor
National/Federal As Trump Attacks Voting by Mail, GOP Builds 2020 Strategy Around Limiting Its Expansion MSN – Amy Gardner, Shawn Boberg, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 6/1/2020 President Trump’s persistent attacks on mail-in voting have fueled an unprecedented effort […]
As Trump Attacks Voting by Mail, GOP Builds 2020 Strategy Around Limiting Its Expansion
MSN – Amy Gardner, Shawn Boberg, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 6/1/2020
President Trump’s persistent attacks on mail-in voting have fueled an unprecedented effort by conservatives to limit expansion of the practice before the November election, with tens of millions of dollars planned for lawsuits and advertising aimed at restricting who receives ballots and who remains on the voter rolls. The strategy, embraced by Trump’s reelection campaign, the Republican National Committee, and an array of independent conservative groups, reflects the recognition by both parties that voting rules could decide the outcome of the 2020 White House race amid the electoral challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Campaign Funds for Judges Warp Criminal Justice, Study Finds
New York Times – Adam Liptak | Published: 6/1/2020
In Gideon v. Wainwright, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled poor people accused of serious crimes were entitled to lawyers paid for by the government. But the court did not say how the lawyers should be chosen, and many states settled on a system in which the judge appoints the defendant’s attorney. That system has long been criticized for promoting cronyism and dampening the zeal of lawyers who want to stay in the good graces of judges. A new study documents a more troubling objection. Elected judges, the study found, tend to appoint lawyers who contribute to their campaigns. “Campaign finance is perverting the criminal justice system,” said Neel Sukhatme, a professor at Georgetown Law and an author of the study.
Houston Rep. Dan Crenshaw’s Bestselling New Book Got Boost from Purchases by House GOP Campaign Arm
Dallas Morning News – Tom Benning | Published: 5/28/2020
U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw’s bestselling new book, Fortitude: American Resilience in the Era of Outrage, has been boosted by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) making a large bulk-order purchase. The House GOP’s campaign arm recently spent nearly $400,000 to buy more than 25,000 copies of the freshman Republican’s tome. The purchases were then used in a fundraising appeal that allowed donors to the NRCC to obtain a signed copy of the book. A Crenshaw aide would not answer if the lawmaker received royalties from the NRCC purchase. But the aide said the House ethics committee, signed off on Crenshaw’s book deal when he took office last year.
How Trump’s Idea for a Photo Op Led to Havoc in a Park
MSN – Peter Baker, Maggie Haberman, Katie Rogers, Zona Kanno-Youngs, and Katie Benner (New York Times) | Published: 6/2/2020
After a day in which President Trump berated “weak” governors and lectured them to “dominate” demonstrators that were protesting the death of George Floyd, the president emerged from the White House and made his way to St. John’s Episcopal Church, where he posed stern-faced, holding up a Bible. The resulting photographs of Trump striding purposefully across Lafayette Square satisfied his desire to project strength. The scene of mayhem that preceded the walk evoked images more commonly associated with authoritarian countries. Trump and his inner circle considered it a triumph that would resonate with many Americans turned off by scenes of urban riots and looting that have accompanied nonviolent protests. But critics were aghast at the use of force against Americans who posed no visible threat at the time.
Interior Watchdog: Agency official pressed EPA to hire relative
Politico – Ben Lefebvre | Published: 5/29/2020
The Interior Department’s internal watchdog said a senior appointed official violated federal laws by using his official email to push the Environmental Protection Agency to hire his son-in-law. The report General is the second time in six months the inspector general has found that Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Insular Areas Doug Domenech broke federal ethics statutes. Domenech was earlier found to have met in 2017 with attorneys for his former employer, the Texas Public Policy Foundation, while the conservative think tank and the Interior Department were battling over a lawsuit, creating the appearance of a conflict-of-interest.
Judge Asks Court Not to ‘Short Circuit’ His Review of Flynn Case
New York Times – Charlie Savage | Published: 6/1/2020
The Justice Department’s conduct in abruptly deciding to end the case against President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn was so unusual it raised a “plausible question” about the legitimacy of the move, a lawyer for the trial judge overseeing that case told a federal appeals court. In a court filing, the lawyer for U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan asked a three-judge panel not to cut short his review of the factual and legal issues surrounding the case. A defense lawyer for Flynn had asked the appellate panel to issue a so-called writ of mandamus ordering the judge to immediately dismiss it without letting him complete an assessment.
Lawmakers Have Been Sleeping in Their Capitol Offices for Years, Coronavirus Is Reviving a Push to End It
USA Today – Cristal Hayes | Published: 5/28/2020
Dozens of lawmakers on Capitol Hill have made their offices a second home, sleeping on couches, makeshift mattresses, or fold-out beds at night and getting ready for work before their staffs arrive the next morning. An estimated 100 lawmakers sleep in their offices, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. But the coronavirus outbreak has reignited a years-old fight to stop what has become known as the “couch caucus,” with some lawmakers arguing that their colleagues sleeping in their offices is not only improper, it also increases the chances of spreading COVID-19 to colleagues and staff at the Capitol.
Pence Chief of Staff Owns Stocks That Could Conflict with Coronavirus Response
National Public Radio – Tim Mak | Published: 5/28/2020
Marc Short, the chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, owns between $506,043 and $1.64 million worth of individual stocks in companies doing work related to the Trump administration’s pandemic response, holdings that could run afoul of conflict-of-interest laws. Many of the medical, pharmaceutical, and manufacturing companies in which Short and his wife hold stock have been directly affected by or involved in the work of the Coronavirus Task Force, chaired by Pence. Other companies have been publicly touted by the White House for their work with the federal government on the coronavirus response.
Steve King Ousted on Historic Primary Night
Politico – Allie Mutnick, James Arkin, and Zach Montellaro | Published: 6/2/2020
Rep. Steve King will leave Congress after this year, ending a nearly two-decade-long career that included numerous inflammatory comments on race and immigration. The Iowa Republican lost his bid for a 10th term when GOP voters in his Iowa district awarded state Sen. Randy Feenstra with the nomination after a fierce primary battle. Feenstra’s decisive victory is a boon to leaders in both parties, including Republican leaders who stripped King of his committee assignments last year and had long felt his offensive and racist rhetoric cast a shadow on the party.
This Treasury Official Is Running the Bailout. It’s Been Great for His Family.
ProPublica – Justin Elliott, Lydia DePillis, and Robert Faturechi | Published: 6/2/2020
Federal Reserve Chairperson Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have become the public faces of the $3 trillion federal coronavirus bailout. Behind the scenes, however, the Treasury’s responsibilities have fallen largely to the deputy secretary, Justin Muzinich. A major beneficiary of that bailout so far: Muzinich & Co., the asset manager founded by his father where Justin served as president before joining the administration. He reported owning a stake worth at least $60 million when he entered government in 2017.
Trump Signs Order That Could Punish Social Media Companies for How They Police Content, Drawing Criticism and Doubts of Legality
Seattle Times – Elizabeth Dwoskin and Tony Romm (Washington Post) | Published: 5/28/2020
President Trump signed an executive order aimed at increasing the ability of the government to regulate social media platforms. The new directive seeks to change a federal law that has spared tech companies from being sued or held liable for most content shared by users on their sites. Trump has argued these protections allow Facebook, Google, and Twitter to censor conservatives. The order seeks to channel complaints about political bias to the Federal Trade Commission, which the White House asked to probe whether the companies’ content-moderation policies adhere to their pledges of neutrality. It also created a council in cooperation with state attorneys general to probe allegations of censorship based on political views.
Veteran Lobbyists Flex Muscles in K Street’s New Normal
The Hill – Alex Gangitano | Published: 5/28/2020
K Street lobbyists are trying to deliver coronavirus relief funds for their clients while also learning to navigate the new digitally focused landscape, a change from their routine of attending fundraisers and meeting with lawmakers and their staffs in person on Capitol Hill. The difficulty in establishing new connections means many are relying on existing ties, making it harder for newcomers and those who desperately need to expand their networks. “The Zoom lobbying period had made it particularly difficult for starting a relationship with a member or staff and building the level of trust necessary to do our job,” said Ivan Zapien, a partner at Hogan Lovells. That has also put veteran lobbyists at an advantage.
From the States and Municipalities
California – Corruption Probe Takes Down Another at LA City Hall
Courthouse News Service – Nathan Solis | Published: 5/27/2020
George Esparza, a former aide to Los Angeles City Council member Jose Huizar, agreed to plead guilty in the ongoing corruption investigation at City Hall, becoming the closest associate of the councilperson so far to be snared in the federal “pay-to-play” probe. Esparza’s indictment details bribes paid to an unnamed councilperson to move ahead development projects in their district, to help a relative’s political aspirations, and settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The corruption probe has resulted in multiple arrests All previous indictments corroborate evidence that the unnamed council member in the money-making scheme is Huizar and Esparza’s cooperation and indictment furthers that theory.
California – DAs Demand Ban on Endorsements and Donations to Prosecutors by Police
Courthouse News Service – Maria Dinzeo | Published: 6/1/2020
A coalition of current and former district attorneys called on the American Bar Association and the California State Bar to pass an ethics rule prohibiting prosecutors from accepting political donations and endorsements from law enforcement agencies and police unions. The request follows a weekend of mass demonstrations against police brutality following the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Derek Chauvin, a Minneapolis police officer who has since been fired and charged with third-degree murder. The district attorneys, who review use of force incidents and make charging decisions against police officers, said they must cut money and politics out of the equation to help build the public’s trust in the judicial system.
California – Lawyer at Center of Tax-Sharing Deals Being Probed on Ethics Law
Bloomberg Tax – Laura Mahoney | Published: 5/28/2020
Robert Cendejas, a lawyer who has brokered sales-tax incentive deals between cities and major e-commerce companies that included multimillion-dollar payouts for himself, is being investigated by the California Fair Political Practices Commission for possible conflict-of-interest violations. In the case of the city of Ontario, Cendejas has represented or consulted for the city on tax policy. He has also represented a number of California cities in tax disputes with the state’s Board of Equalization. The deals typically last for decades and, in deals he helped negotiate, Cendejas has reached separate agreements to get a percentage of the additional tax collections for himself.
California – Legislative Inquiry Finds Assemblyman Committed Sexual Harassment
Politico – Carla Marinucci | Published: 5/27/2020
A Legislative Counsel investigation determined California Assemblyperson Bill Brough engaged in sexual misconduct on multiple occasions, including an offer of political help in exchange for going to his apartment. Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon removed him from all of his committee assignments and suggested Brough would face additional punishment. In the meantime, Brough is required to take “additional harassment, discrimination, and retaliation prevention training.”
California – More Costly Campaigns During COVID? Councilwoman Asks About Raising Contribution Limits
Long Beach Post – Jason Ruiz | Published: 5/27/2020
A changing election landscape and a global pandemic has some Long Beach politicians asking how the city can raise its cap on political contributions to help fuel campaigns through a longer election cycle and, presently, one where volunteers may be hesitant about knocking on doors. Councilperson Mary Zendejas, who chairs the Elections Oversight Committee, asked the city attorney’s office to start looking at the issue. Zendejas said the city should look at increasing the $400 limit from individual donors to help those campaigning through the pandemic and beyond.
Colorado – John Hickenlooper Must Testify in Ethics Complaint, Denver Judge Rules Hours Before Hearing
Colorado Sun – John Frank | Published: 6/3/2020
John Hickenlooper, the former Colorado governor who is running for the U.S. Senate, must testify at a hearing about whether his travel on private planes amounts to a violation of the state’s gift ban. Denver District Court Judge Christopher Baumann issued a ruling that declined Hickenlooper’s request to block a subpoena and delay the remote hearing before the Independent Ethics Commission. The judge dismissed Hickenlooper’s concerns about the format of the hearing and questioned the last-minute lawsuit given the remote hearing was initially scheduled in early May.
Connecticut – Jon Lender: Despite COVID-19, legislators and PACs still put the touch on lobbyists, others for contributions; but now the touch is virtual
Hartford Courant – Jon Lender | Published: 5/29/2020
While the coronavirus pandemic has shut down nations and states, it cannot stop the machinery of campaign fundraising whether in the presidential campaign or down at the level of Connecticut General Assembly candidates. And, just as experts now say that viruses adapt during a pandemic, so do political fundraising methods. Under the subject “Virtual Fundraiser” from Connecticut Deputy House Majority Leader Jeff Currey, read: “CURREY PAC was hoping to host a summer fundraiser, but in light of our social distancing efforts, I’d like to offer some 1-on-1 time, via Zoom. To donate, click the link below. If you would also like to schedule a 1:1 virtual chat, please reply to this email with the preferred time ….” The email recipients included past donors and lobbyists.
Florida – Florida Demands State Vendors Identify Links with China
The Center Square – John Haughey | Published: 5/28/2020
The Florida Department of Financial Services has requested 100,000 private companies registered as vendors authorized to bid on state contracts to verify within 30 days whether they are “majority-owned by United States interests.” Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis said the goal of the query is to “better identify businesses that are majority Communist Party of China-owned that do business with the state of Florida.”
Idaho – Ada Co. GOP Chair Used Party Funds on Private Expense, Allowed Questionable Audit
Boise State Public Radio – James Dawson | Published: 5/27/2020
Ryan Davidson, chairperson of the Ada County Republican Central Committee, used his own party’s money to pay for advice related to his private lobbying business in 2018. A review of the organization’s finances under Davidson’s watch has also been conducted by an insider who pleaded guilty to misusing public money in the past. Facebook messages show Davidson admitting he “inadvertently’ paid $100 from county GOP funds to Holly Cook, a public relations professional and political consultant.
Kansas – Kansas Agencies Say Senate Candidate’s Raffle of Signed Chiefs Jersey Violates Law
McClatchy DC – Bryan Lowry | Published: 5/27/2020
Dave Lindstrom’s campaign for the U.S. Senate may be violating Kansas law by raffling a Kansas City Chiefs jersey signed by Patrick Mahomes, according to two state agencies. Lindstrom, a former Chiefs player, is running the Republican nomination to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts. The campaign began selling $20 tickets recently for a June 23 raffle of the Super Bowl MVP’s jersey. Kansas law only permits charities to conduct raffles. All other entities are restricted, including political campaigns, according to Zach Fletcher, spokesperson for the state Department of Revenue.
Kentucky – Beshear Makes Appointments to Executive Ethics Commission
AP News – Staff | Published: 5/28/2020
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear is reorganizing a state commission that promotes ethical conduct by elected officials in the executive branch. The governor said he wanted to “restore the Executive Branch Ethics Commission to what it should be.” Beshear, a Democrat, made three appointments to the five-member board and said he would take recommendations from the state attorney general and state auditor for two more positions. Both the attorney general and the auditor are Republicans.
Michigan – Bucci Pleads Guilty in Macomb Extortion Scandal
Detroit News – Robert Snell | Published: 5/28/2020
Former Macomb Township Trustee Dino Bucci pleaded guilty to embezzling money, extorting contractors, and serving as the bagman for ex-county public works Commissioner Anthony Marrocco during a decades-long extortion conspiracy. The allegations were outlined in a new criminal case that accused Bucci of stealing public tax dollars and extorting businesspeople during a crime spree that spanned his tenure as a Republican politician and his county job working for Marrocco. The criminal case was filed hours after Marrocco was indicted and accused of orchestrating a conspiracy that extorted money from country contractors that prosecutors say was spent on personal luxuries.
Michigan – Gov. Whitmer: I didn’t OK Dem firm for coronavirus project, despite emails
Bridge Michigan – Jonathan Oosting | Published: 5/28/2020
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer disputed a health official’s characterization that her office gave a “green light” for the state to hire a Democratic campaign consultant’s firm to lead a volunteer COVID-19 contact tracing program. Whitmer said she did not personally learn about the contract until after it was signed on April 20, despite an email that showed her communications director discussing the “arrangement” days before the $194,250 deal was finalized. Her denial follows a news report about emails that appear to show Michigan officials tried to avoid controversy over the contact tracing contract by shifting planned work to apolitical subsidiaries of firms with known partisan leanings.
Mississippi – Lt. Governor Withdraws Request for Ethics Decision Over Small Business Grants for Lawmakers
Jackson Clarion-Ledger – Luke Ramseth | Published: 5/27/2020
Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann withdrew a request to the Mississippi Ethics Commission asking whether lawmakers could apply for coronavirus small business relief funding the Legislature approved. The panel discussed the issue at a special meeting and was expected to make a decision soon. Ethics Commission Executive Director Tom Hood said no explanation was given for why the request was withdrawn. Sente Bill 2772 specified that lobbyists, businesses that hired a lobbyist, or ones involved in partisan political activities could not receive the grants. But the bill did not say anything about the people who passed the bill.
Montana – U.S. Supreme Court Won’t Hear Challenge to Montana Campaign Finance Law
Bozeman Daily Chronicle – Holly Michels | Published: 6/1/2020
The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case that challenged Montana’s law on disclosing the spending for political ads within 60 days of an election. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the state law that nonprofit groups running ads that mention candidates, political parties, or ballot issues in the 60-day window before an election have to report any spending of $250 or more and say who funded their efforts.
Nevada – Nev. Elections Office Reviewing MedMen Donation Allegations
AP News – Michelle Price | Published: 5/27/2020
The Nevada secretary of state’s office is reviewing allegations made by a former executive of the cannabis company MedMen Enterprises that the company’s co-founders made illegal campaign donations to Gov. Steve Sioslak. In a lawsuit, MedMen Chief Financial Officer James Parker alleged board member Adam Bierman, the company’s co-founder, gave the maximum $10,000 campaign donation allowed by law to a Nevada politician. The lawsuit alleges Bierman illegally forced Parker to make a similar contribution and company funds were illegally used to buy furniture for co-founder and executive Andrew Modlin in order to reimburse Modlin for a similar campaign donation made in his name.
New Mexico – Mixed Ruling on State’s Ethics Law
Albuquerque Journal – Dan McKay | Published: 6/2/2020
The state Court of Appeals has ruled that part, but not all, of New Mexico’s anti-corruption law is too vague to be enforced. In a complex ruling, the court ordered the reinstatement of at least one ethics charge against three defendants: former Doña Ana County Treasurer David Gutierrez, Sixth Judicial District Attorney Francesca Estevez, and former San Juan County Magistrate Judge Connie Lee Johnston. The judges did not rule on the defendants’ guilt or innocence, just that charges could proceed. By contrast, the court dismissed a series of other charges against them and against former Taxation and Revenue Secretary Demesia Padilla.
New York – New Round of Subpoenas Issued in Investigation into Mayor Warren Campaign Funds
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle – Gary Craig | Published: 5/29/2020
The investigation into whether there were irregularities with Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren’s 2017 re-election campaign is not over. The Monroe County district attorney’s office subpoenaed businesses and other entities that assisted the campaign. The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported in December 2018 that vendors who were contracted by the Warren campaign or political committees had been subpoenaed for campaign-related records. But, afterward, there was no public word on how the investigation was progressing, or whether it had or had not unearthed evidence of campaign financing fraud. However, the investigation was a joint probe with the state Board of Elections, which last year was locked in an internal struggle over whether it was sluggish or unwilling to aggressively pursue political investigations.
North Carolina – A Confrontation Between NC Senators, a Police Report, and a Secretive Ethics Process
MSN – Jessica Huseman (ProPublica) and Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan (Raleigh News and Observer) | Published: 5/27/2020
North Carolina Sen. Erica Smith filed a complaint accusing other state lawmakers of bullying and making sexual comments and verbal insults to her and asked for expulsion from the Senate for two of them. The Legislative Ethics Assembly recently dismissed parts of her complaint. Documents show a conclusion by police that state Sen. Paul Lowe assaulted Smith during an altercation at a Democratic caucus meeting last September 11. He has not been charged. The records also reveal infighting between Senate Democrats and allegations against multiple senators that include sexually harassing comments.
North Carolina – Raleigh Mayor Now Working for Company That Got $6M City Contract. No Conflict, She Says.
Raleigh News and Observer – Anna Johnson | Published: 5/28/2020
Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin began interviewing for her new job with a construction company nine days after the company received a $6.3 million city contract. The job and its timing have some of the mayor’s frequent critics calling it a conflict-of-interest. Baldwin says she was not yet in touch with the company when the Raleigh City Council unanimously voted on the contract. A former five-term council member who was elected mayor in 2019, Baldwin is now director of Business Development for Barnhill Contracting’s Triangle and Streamline Divisions. She was formerly vice president at Holt Brothers Construction and executive director of the Holt Brothers Foundation, which supports children who have a parent with cancer.
North Carolina – Republicans Will Move Trump Convention Speech Out of Charlotte
New York Times – Annie Karni | Published: 6/2/2020
Republicans said they were moving President Trump’s convention speech out of Charlotte, North Carolina, and to another city, after coming to a stalemate with Democratic officials in the state about safety and crowd size restrictions because of the coronavirus. But Republican officials also said they could still hold other convention business in Charlotte, so as not to break a formal contract they signed with the city more than two years ago. Party officials are planning a visit to Nashville to assess its suitability for the convention. Other cities under consideration are Las Vegas, Orlando, and Jacksonville, as well as sites in Georgia.
Pennsylvania – A Congressman Caught in the 1970s Abscam Sting Is Now at the Heart of a Philly Election Fraud Probe, Sources Say
Philadelphia Inquirer – Jeremy Roebuck, Chris Brennan, and Andrew Seidman | Published: 5/27/2020
A central question lingered after federal recently disclosed a Philadelphia poll worker had admitted taking bribes to stuff ballot boxes in local elections: who was the unnamed “Campaign Consultant #1” described in court filings as the man who paid Domenick DeMuro to inflate vote totals on behalf of favored candidates between 2014 and 2016? Prosecutors have declined to say. But two sources briefed on the matter and an analysis of campaign finance data and court filings in DeMuro’s case point to one man: former U.S. Rep. Michael Myers, who was a key figure in the Abscam scandal of the 1970s.
Pennsylvania – Pa. Can’t Ban Everyone Involved in the Gaming Industry from Donating to Political Campaigns: U.S. court
PennLive.com – Matt Miller | Published: 6/1/2020
A federal appeals court agreed that a provision of Pennsylvania law barring campaign contributions from individuals holding ownership stakes in businesses with gaming licenses ran violated constitutional free speech protections. That is so even though the prohibition included in the Race Horse Development and Gaming Act adopted in 2004 is aimed at preventing corruption in state politics, Judge Richard Nygaard wrote in the opinion by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Pennsylvania officials have not proven their total ban is justified when those other states impose lesser restrictions that do not severely infringe free speech rights, Nygaard wrote.
Pennsylvania – Pa. House Democrats Say They Were in the Dark for a Week About Republican’s Positive Coronavirus
Spotlight PA – Julia Terruso (Philadelphia Inquirer) and Angela Couloumbis | Published: 5/28/2020
Republican Rep. Andrew Lewis confirmed he tested positive for the coronavirus in May, leading at least one of his Pennsylvania House colleagues, Russ Diamond, to self-quarantine. Diamond has been one of the Legislature’s most vocal opponents of mask-wearing, boasting on social media that he goes shopping without one. The admission immediately ignited outrage among Democrats in the chamber who said they were recklessly left in the dark for nearly a week about Lewis’s condition.
Rhode Island – Ethics Commission Rejects Staff Advice: Opens door for Sen. Lynch Prata to potentially get Supreme Court seat
Providence Journal – Katherine Gregg | Published: 6/2/2020
The Rhode Island Ethics Commission ignored its own staff advice and opened the door for Sen. Erin Lynch Prata to seek a seat on the state Supreme Court. The “revolving door” ban requires a year out of office before a legislator can take a state job, including a judgeship. A 1991 Providence Journal investigation found 49 of the 311 people who had served in the General Assembly the previous decade had gotten state jobs, many of which had never been advertised, while in office or within a year of leaving.
South Carolina – SC Republican House Member Sues His Own Party, Claiming It Helped Primary Opponent
Charleston Post and Courier – Andrew Brown | Published: 6/3/2020
A Republican member of the South Carolina House is suing his own party after it allegedly paid for campaign ads assisting his political opponent in the leadup to the state’s primary election. Rep. Jonathon Hill filed the lawsuit, arguing the state GOP should not be allowed to contribute more than $5,000 to assist his primary opponent’s campaign. Hill has often clashed with the House’s Republican leadership. That animosity grew to the point that other members of the Legislature voted last year to kick him out of the Republican Caucus. Hill believes the spending shows the GOP is illegally influencing the election.
Tennessee – Tennessee House Approves Measure Reducing Campaign Finance Disclosures in Election Years
The Tennessean – Joel Ebert | Published: 6/3/2020
The Tennessee House approved a measure that would claw back campaign finance disclosures during election years. This year, like other election years, lawmakers are required to file five disclosures outlining how they raised and spend campaign money. An additional disclosure is required early next year outlining activity in the final months of 2020.In non-election years, lawmakers are required to file two disclosures. The bill would remove the requirement to file disclosures before the primary and general elections. Those reports currently must be filed no later than seven days before the elections.
Washington DC – Brandon Todd Loses His D.C. Council Seat, and Voters Soundly Reject Jack Evans
Washington Post – Julie Zauzmer and Fenit Nirappil | Published: 6/3/2020
Former District of Columbia Councilperson Jack Evans, who was trying to reclaim the seat he relinquished in January while facing expulsion for ethics violations, finished near the bottom of a crowded field in the Democratic primary, with about 300 votes of nearly 8,000 ballots cast. Evans had asked voters to forgive his transgressions and return him to the office he held for nearly three decades. But two years of scandal, including an FBI search of his home and investigations finding he violated ethics rules at the council and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority where he served as board chairperson, proved too much to overcome.
West Virginia – This Billionaire Governor’s Been Sued Over Unpaid Bills. A Judge Just Ordered Him to Pay More.
ProPublica – Ken Ward Jr, and Alex Mierjeski | Published: 5/28/2020
The billionaire governor of West Virginia, whose business empire has amassed more than $128 million in judgments and settlements against it for unpaid bills, lost another court case recently that adds millions more to that tally. Gov. Jim Justice’s Bluestone Resources was ordered to pay nearly $2.8 million to a financing company after it stopped making payments on a lease for a bulldozer used in coal mining. The ruling comes as Justice campaigns for a second term as governor, touting his experience as a longtime businessperson. But in advance of the state’s June 9 primary, opponents in both political parties are branding the Republican incumbent as a billionaire scofflaw.
Wisconsin – Wisconsin Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Voter Purge Case
AP News – Scott Bauer | Published: 6/2/2020
The Wisconsin Supreme Court agreed to hear a case seeking to purge about 129,000 voter registrations from the rolls ahead of the November presidential election after previously deadlocking on whether to get involved. Democrats oppose the voter purge, arguing it is intended to make it more difficult for their voters to cast ballots. Conservatives who brought the lawsuit argue the integrity of the vote is at stake, saying when records indicate voters may have moved, their registrations should be deactivated.