April 29, 2019 • Written by Jonathan Spontarelli
More ethics and campaign finance changes happening at the state level. Check out which states are making moves in today’s NYCU Video Digest!
More ethics and campaign finance changes happening at the state level. Check out which states are making moves in today’s NYCU Video Digest!
April 29, 2019 • Written by Carlo Aguja
The Washington Legislature adjourned sine die April 28. During the 105-day legislative session, lawmakers passed House Bill 1195 amending the definitions of commercial advertiser and independent expenditure. House Bill 1195 requires independent expenditures to be reported electronically with the Public […]
The Washington Legislature adjourned sine die April 28.
During the 105-day legislative session, lawmakers passed House Bill 1195 amending the definitions of commercial advertiser and independent expenditure.
House Bill 1195 requires independent expenditures to be reported electronically with the Public Disclosure Commission if the aggregate value of similar expenditures from the same source exceeds $1,000.
The Legislature also passed House Bill 1379 raising the threshold for identifying and disclosing the top five contributors of a political advertisement sponsored by a political committee from $700 to $1,000.
House Bill 1379 requires political advertisements to disclose the sponsor’s top five contributors and if any are political committees the sponsor must also disclose the top three donors to those contributors.
The bills have been delivered to the Gov. Jay Inslee to sign, veto part of it, or veto all of it.
April 29, 2019 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance National: Pete Buttigieg Swears Off the Lobbyist Money He Once Accepted by Jeremy Peters and Shane Goldmacher for New York Times Missouri: Columbia Developer Funnels Tens of Thousands Through Shell PACs to Lawmakers by Yue Yu (Columbia Missourian) […]
National: Pete Buttigieg Swears Off the Lobbyist Money He Once Accepted by Jeremy Peters and Shane Goldmacher for New York Times
Missouri: Columbia Developer Funnels Tens of Thousands Through Shell PACs to Lawmakers by Yue Yu (Columbia Missourian) for KPVI
New Mexico: City Now Allows Online Donations for Candidates by Jessica Dyer for Albuquerque Journal
National: Acting Defense Secretary Cleared of Wrongdoing in Probe of His ties to Boeing by Dan Lamothe and Missy Ryan for Washington Post
Maryland: Anne Arundel County Delegate Posts Advertisements, Tries to Sell Car on Official Social Media by Chase Cook for Capital Gazette
North Dakota: North Dakota Legislature Finalizes Ethics Bill, but ‘Safeguard’ Looms over Measure 1 Implementation by John Hageman (Forum News Service) for Dickinson Press
Tennessee: Feds to Sue Sen. Steve Dickerson and Other Pain Clinic Owners Over Fraud, Forgery Allegations by Brett Kelman for The Tennessean
California: NRA Sues City of L.A. Over Its New Contract Disclosure Law by Dakota Smith for Los Angeles Times
April 26, 2019 • Written by Jim Sedor
National: Constraints on Presidency Being Redefined in Trump Era, Report Fallout Shows MSN – Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 4/22/2019 The events that have followed the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report threaten to redefine […]
Constraints on Presidency Being Redefined in Trump Era, Report Fallout Shows
MSN – Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 4/22/2019
The events that have followed the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report threaten to redefine the legal and ethical standards that have long served as constraints on the American presidency. They also suggest that few, if any, of the traditional guardrails that have kept Donald Trump’s predecessors in check remain for this president and possibly those who will follow him. Current and former aides say they do not expect Trump to change his behavior, saying he is unlikely to be responsive to anything other than political pain in the form of a real revolt by Republican leadership or a sharp drop in poll numbers.
How the IRS Gave Up Fighting Political Dark Money Groups
ProPublica – Maya Miller | Published: 4/18/2019
“Dark money” spending is legal because of a massive loophole. Section 501(c)(4) of the U.S. tax code allows organizations to make independent expenditures on politics while concealing their donors’ names as long as politics is not the organization’s “primary activity.” The IRS has the daunting task of trying to determine when nonprofits in that category, known colloquially as C4s, violate that vague standard. But the IRS’ attempts to police this class of nonprofits have almost completely broken down. Since 2015, thousands of complaints have streamed in that C4s are abusing the rules. But the agency has not stripped a single organization of its tax-exempt status for breaking spending rules during that period. The IRS’ abdication of oversight stems from a trio of causes.
From the States and Municipalities:
Alabama – How a Lawyer, a Lobbyist and a Legislator Waged War on a Birmingham Superfund Site
AL.com – Steven Mufson (Washington Post) | Published: 4/24/2019
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wanted to clean up toxic soil in the 35th Avenue Superfund site in Birmingham. The agency notified Drummond, a coal company, and four other manufacturers nearby that they would have to dig up and replace the soil on hundreds of residential yards. David Roberson, Drummond’s vice president and top lobbyist, worried it would cost his company $100 million or more. Roberson and his lawyer, Joel Gilbert, decided they needed someone who could persuade the people living on contaminated land to protest not the pollution, but the cleanup. They chose Oliver Robinson Jr. then a state representative. Prosecutors ultimately charged Robinson with receiving bribes, while Gilbert and Roberson were charged with bribery, conspiracy, and money laundering in the scheme to stop the EPA.
Alaska – As Capitol Reporters Dwindle, Alaska Lawmakers Grapple with Rise of Political Blogs
KTOO – Nat Herz | Published: 4/23/2019
The press corps in Juneau has a new addition this year: Jeff Landfield, a failed candidate for state Senate who is now running a colorful political blog called the Alaska Landmine. He is one of a growing number of political bloggers who are trying to fill in gaps left by Alaska’s shrinking mainstream media, posing challenges for both lawmakers and the bloggers themselves. Landfield was standing outside the chambers where the House meets recently, and he was getting some attention because he had a black eye. It was a souvenir, Landfield said, from when a legislative aide punched him a few days before at a Juneau bar.
Connecticut – Two Rival Politicians Accused Each Other of Using Drugs. The Result Was a Showdown at a Urinalysis Lab.
Washington Post – Antonia Noori Farzen | Published: 4/22/2019
Two feuding politicians in Bridgeport, Connecticut’s largest city, spent much of the past week accusing each other of being on mind-altering substances after getting into an ugly fight in the comments section of a local political blog. Bridgeport City Councilperson Ernest Newton and Board of Education member Maria Pereira concluded they could only settle their dispute one way: by challenging each other to a public drug test. Newton, whose political career was interrupted by a five-year prison sentence after he pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges, once struggled with an addiction to crack cocaine. Both tested negative for all 10 substances. But the feud did not die down.
Florida – Andrew Gillum Agrees to Pay $5,000 Ethics Fine
News Service of Florida – Tampa Bay Times | Published: 4/24/2019
Former Tallahassee Mayor and gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum agreed to pay a $5,000 fine to settle a complaint he violated state law by accepted gifts worth more than $100 from lobbyists or their clients who had interests in the city and failed to report them. The Florida Commission on Ethics agreed to drop four additional counts in the settlement. The commission had found probable cause that Gillum violated ethics laws for allegedly accepting gifts from Tallahassee entrepreneur Adam Corey and undercover FBI agents posing as developers. Corey had been a close friend of Gillum and lobbied city officials. The charges related to trips to Costa Rica and New York, a boat ride around the Statue of Liberty, and a ticket to the Broadway hit, “Hamilton.”
Florida – Opioid Lawsuit Bill Stalls in Florida Committee Chaired by Sister-in-Law of Walgreens Lobbyist
Tampa Bay Times – Lawrencwe Mower | Published: 4/22/2019
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is suing the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors, accusing them of recklessly supplying Floridians with millions of drugs per year. But a bill that is critical to the lawsuit moving forward has stalled in the committee of a powerful lawmaker: Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, who said her committee would not hear it because of concerns the bill could invade the privacy of patients. Benacquisto said her objections are not related to her brother-in-law, Chris Hansen, a lobbyist whose clients include Walgreens – one of the defendants in Moody’s lawsuit.
Maine – Numbers of Maine Lawmakers Who Went on to Lobby
AP News – Marina Villeneuva | Published: 4/21/2019
At least 14 Democratic and eight Republican lawmakers in Maine have gone on to register as paid lobbyists over the past three decades, a practice that is being targeted by a bill moving through the state Legislature. The House and Senate advanced a bill to ban future lawmakers from any paid lobbying within their first year out of office. The state ethics commissions had called for the change in 2017. The Associated Press (AP) compared state lobbying reports with legislative rosters and found that nearly half of the 22 former lawmakers who registered as lobbyists over the past three decades did so within the same year of leaving office. The lawmakers-turned-lobbyists have raked in $3.6 million in total compensation for their firms, according to the AP analysis.
Maryland – Federal Agents Search Baltimore City Hall and Mayor Catherine Pugh’s Home
Washington Post – Ann Marimow, Peter Hermann, and Lynh Bui | Published: 4/25/2019
Federal agents searched Baltimore City Hall and Mayor Catherine Pugh’s home among other sites amid fallout from lucrative children’s book deals she cut with businesses connected to the government she has run since 2016. Pugh took an indefinite leave of absence beginning April 1 attributed to health issues following criticism of the more than $700,000 she was paid for her self-published “Healthy Holly” book series. The book-deal revelations have led to calls from the city council and state lawmakers for Pugh’s resignation; an investigation by the state prosecutor; and to the firing of several of her aides. Investigators are scrutinizing Pugh’s deals with entities including Kaiser Permanente, which was awarded city contracts, and the University of Maryland Medical System, on whose board she sat for many years.
Massachusetts – Amid ‘Slush Fund’ Criticism, Nearly All Legislative Caucuses Will Forgo Outside Donations
Boston Globe – Matt Stout | Published: 4/24/2019
All but one of the nearly two dozen caucuses formed by Massachusetts lawmakers say they will not solicit outside contributions, weeks after a new internal rule allowing legislative groups to raise private funds stirred controversy on Beacon Hill. The rule, which requires all caucuses to register with the House Committee on Rules, also bars lobbyists from donating and says caucuses must receive approval from House counsel before taking any gift of more than $50. The potential of taking donations outside of campaign finance disclosure laws drew intense heat, including criticisms it could create a legislative “slush fund.”
Minnesota – Minnesota Lawmakers, Lobbyists Describe Cautious Capitol in Wake of #MeToo
Minneapolis Star Tribune – Jessie Van Berkel | Published: 4/21/2019
A year and a half after reports of sexual harassment rocked the Minnesota Legislature and prompted two resignations, lawmakers and lobbyists describe a changed atmosphere at the Capitol. People are more cautious and aware of what crosses the line. There is also a new group of House members, many of them younger women, who are outspoken about addressing harassment and gender equality. But some at the Capitol say they worry the good behavior and awareness will fall by the wayside if the energy of the #MeToo movement fades from the spotlight.
Missouri – Lobbyist’s Crusade to Change Title IX in Missouri Stems from His Son’s Expulsion
Kansas City Star – Edward McKinley | Published: 4/23/2019
After his son was expelled from Washington University last year through the school’s Title IX process, a leading Jefferson City lobbyist launched a campaign to change the law for every campus in the state. Richard McIntosh has argued to legislators that Title IX, the federal law barring sexual discrimination in education and mandating that schools set up internal systems to police sexual violence, is tilted unfairly against the accused. His proposals create more protections for those accused of Title IX violations. Had McIntosh’s amendment been enacted, it would have allowed his son to appeal the result of his hearing to the state Administrative Hearing Commission, where his mother and McIntosh’s wife is the presiding and managing commissioner.
South Dakota – S.D. House Speaker Paid $12,000 for Lobbyist’s Legal Fees
KELOLAND – Bob Mercer | Published: 4/23/2019
South Dakota House Speaker Steven Haugaard authorized a payment of $12,000 for a lobbyist’s legal fees after he banned her from the chamber floor, and South Dakota Municipal League Executive Director Yvonne Taylor’s attorneys have asked a federal judge to dismiss the league’s lawsuit against Haugaard. Court documents say Haugaard called Taylor into his office and brought up her column from the league’s magazine. In the article, which appeared prior to the June 2018 primary elections, Taylor suggested voters make a distinction between what she called “The Normals” and the “Wackies” in the Legislature. One sentence said: “We desperately need to get that ‘wacky ratio’ down.” A judge issued a temporary restraining order against Haugaard and said the speaker was not protected by legislative immunity.
Texas – Conservative Group Empower Texans Sues Lawmaker to Gain State House Media Credentials
Texas Tribune – Emma Platoff | Published: 4/18/2019
Months after being denied media credentials for the Texas House, the conservative organization Texas Scorecard – a product of Empower Texans, a Tea Party-aligned political advocacy group with one of the state’s best-funded PACs – filed a First Amendment lawsuit arguing its rejection from the chamber constitutes “unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination.” Before the legislative session began in January, two employees of Texas Scorecard applied for media credentials in the Legislature. In the Senate, their credentials were granted; in the House, they were denied. The two chambers follow similar rules about who is allowed special journalistic access to the floor, and both prohibit lobbyists. But the chambers’ political atmospheres are different.
Washington – A State Senator Said Nurses ‘Probably Play Cards’ at Work. Facing Mass Outrage, She’s Apologized.
Seattle Times – Allyson Chiu (Washington Post) | Published: 4/21/2019
While debating a bill that would give nurses uninterrupted meals and breaks at work and protect them from mandatory overtime, Washington Sen. Maureen Walsh arguing that hospitals in rural communities should be excluded from the measure because the requirements would place too much strain on those facilities. “By putting these types of mandates on a critical access hospital that literally serves a handful of individuals, I would submit to you that those nurses probably do get breaks – they probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day,” Walsh said. The comment sparked an online petition calling for her to shadow a nurse and “experience what really happens” during a 12-hour shift. The senator’s office has also been flooded with angry phone calls and emails as well as packages containing decks of playing cards.
April 25, 2019 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance Pennsylvania: “Ex-Reading Mayor Vaughn Spencer Sentenced to Eight Years in Prison in Case Tied to Allentown Corruption” by Peter Hall for Allentown Morning Call Ethics National: “Trump Says He Is Opposed to White House Aides Testifying to Congress, […]
Pennsylvania: “Ex-Reading Mayor Vaughn Spencer Sentenced to Eight Years in Prison in Case Tied to Allentown Corruption” by Peter Hall for Allentown Morning Call
National: “Trump Says He Is Opposed to White House Aides Testifying to Congress, Deepening Power Struggle with Hill” by Robert Costa, Tom Hamburger, Josh Dawsey and Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Six Trump Interior Appointees Are Being Investigated for Possible Ethical Misconduct” by Juliet Eilperin and Dino Grandoni (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Divided on Impeachment, Democrats Wrestle with Duty and Politics” by Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Nicholas Fandos for New York Times
Alabama: “How a Lawyer, a Lobbyist and a Legislator Waged War on a Birmingham Superfund Site” by Steven Mufson (Washington Post) for AL.com
Alaska: “Lawmakers Strike Compromise on Scaling Back Conflict of Interest Restrictions” by Andrew Kitchenman for KTOO
Florida: “Andrew Gillum Agrees to Pay $5,000 Ethics Fine” by News Service of Florida for Tampa Bay Times
Pennsylvania: “Ex-Sheriff John Green Admits Taking Bribes: ‘I have betrayed the confidence’ of Philly citizens” by Jeremy Roebuck for Philadelphia Inquirer
Washington: “A State Senator Said Nurses ‘Probably Play Cards’ at Work. Facing Mass Outrage, She’s Apologized.” by Allyson Chiu (Washington Post) for Seattle Times
Alaska: “As Capitol Reporters Dwindle, Alaska Lawmakers Grapple with Rise of Political Blogs” by Nat Herz for KTOO
South Dakota: “S.D. House Speaker Paid $12,000 for Lobbyist’s Legal Fees” by Bob Mercer for KELOLAND
April 24, 2019 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance North Carolina: “Dan Forest Corrects Report to Show a Donation from Greg Lindberg” by Paul Specht for Raleigh News and Observer Ethics National: “Constraints on Presidency Being Redefined in Trump Era, Report Fallout Shows” by Ashley Parker and […]
North Carolina: “Dan Forest Corrects Report to Show a Donation from Greg Lindberg” by Paul Specht for Raleigh News and Observer
National: “Constraints on Presidency Being Redefined in Trump Era, Report Fallout Shows” by Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Supreme Court’s Conservatives Appear Likely to Let Trump Add Citizenship Question to 2020 Census” by Robert Barnes and Mark Berman for Washington Post
Colorado: “Investigation into One Lobbyist’s Actions Raises Questions About Workplace Harassment Policy at The Capitol” by Bente Birkeland for Colorado Public Radio
Connecticut: “Two Rival Politicians Accused Each Other of Using Drugs. The Result Was a Showdown at a Urinalysis Lab.” by Antonia Noori Farzen for Washington Post
Maryland: “Baltimore City Council to Weigh New Ethics Rules and Limits on Mayoral Power Amid Healthy Holly Controversy” by Ian Duncan and Kevin Rector for Baltimore Sun
New Hampshire: “Financial Disclosure Bill Stalls in Senate” by David Solomon for Manchester Union Leader
National: “K Street Gets Behind Mayor Pete Buttigieg” by Kate Ackley for Roll Call
Florida: “Opioid Lawsuit Bill Stalls in Florida Committee Chaired by Sister-in-Law of Walgreens Lobbyist” by Lawrencwe Mower for Tampa Bay Times
April 23, 2019 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance Tennessee: “Senate Approves Bill to Double Campaign Contribution Limits to Members of Upper Chamber” by Joel Ebert for The Tennessean Ethics National: “Trump Sues in Bid to Block Congressional Subpoena of Financial Records” by David Fahrenthold, Rachael Bade, […]
Tennessee: “Senate Approves Bill to Double Campaign Contribution Limits to Members of Upper Chamber” by Joel Ebert for The Tennessean
National: “Trump Sues in Bid to Block Congressional Subpoena of Financial Records” by David Fahrenthold, Rachael Bade, and John Wagner for MSN
National: “The Go-To Lawyer for Governors Facing Impeachment” by Alan Greenblatt for Governing
Illinois: “Ex-Top Aide to Dorothy Brown Goes on Trial on Charges of Lying About Pay-to-Play Allegations” by Rosemary Sobel and Jason Meisner for Chicago Tribune
Minnesota: “Minnesota Lawmakers, Lobbyists Describe Cautious Capitol in Wake of #MeToo” by Jessie Van Berkel for Minneapolis Star Tribune
Oregon: “Oregon Officials Approve $50,000 Ethics Case Settlement with Cylvia Hayes” by Ben Botkin for Salem Statesmman Journal
Louisiana: “Numbers of Maine Lawmakers Who Went on to Lobby” by Marina Villeneuva for AP News
Missouri: “Missouri GOP, Fighting Redistricting Changes, Courts Unlikely Ally: Black Democrats” by Jason Hancock for Kansas City Star
April 22, 2019 • Written by Mario Dalessandro
Last week, the Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission voted to raise contribution limits. For statewide elected offices the contribution limits raised from $6,600 to $7,000 for primary and general elections. Primary and general runoff elections limits were raised from […]
Last week, the Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission voted to raise contribution limits.
For statewide elected offices the contribution limits raised from $6,600 to $7,000 for primary and general elections.
Primary and general runoff elections limits were raised from $3,900 to $4,100 for statewide elected offices.
Contribution limits for all other offices were also raised from $2,600 to $2,800 for primary and general elections and from $1,400 to $1,500 for primary and general runoff elections.
The previous contribution limits had not changed since 2016.
April 22, 2019 • Written by Jonathan Spontarelli
Campaign finance and ethics changes are happening in states all over the country. Find out which states made changes last week in today’s News You Can Use Video Digest.
Campaign finance and ethics changes are happening in states all over the country. Find out which states made changes last week in today’s News You Can Use Video Digest.
April 22, 2019 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance National: “How the IRS Gave Up Fighting Political Dark Money Groups” by Maya Miller for ProPublica South Dakota: “Lobbyists Sue SD Officials Over Ban on Out-of-State Contributions to Ballot Measure Committees” by Sarah Mearhoff for Mitchell Republic Elections […]
National: “How the IRS Gave Up Fighting Political Dark Money Groups” by Maya Miller for ProPublica
South Dakota: “Lobbyists Sue SD Officials Over Ban on Out-of-State Contributions to Ballot Measure Committees” by Sarah Mearhoff for Mitchell Republic
National: “Mueller’s Report Paints a Portrait of a Campaign Intrigued by Russian Overtures” by Rosalind Helderman, Tom Hamburger, Karoun Demirjian, and Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) for Anchorage Daily News
California: “Lawmakers and Landlords: More than a quarter of California legislators are both” by Matt Levin and Elizabeth Castillo for CALmatters
South Carolina: “Richard Quinn, for Years Consultant to Top SC GOP Pols, Indicted on Perjury Charges” by John Monk andf Avery Wilkes for The State
Texas: “Conservative Group Empower Texans Sues Lawmaker to Gain State House Media Credentials” by Emma Platoff for Texas Tribune
Florida: “Ethics Complaint Accuses Kristen Rosen Gonzalez of Violating Lobbying Rules” by Kyra Gurney for Miami Herald
Indiana: “Scott Pruitt Left the EPA Mired in Scandal. Now He Is Lobbying Indiana Lawmakers.” by Emily Hopkins for Indianapolis Star
April 19, 2019 • Written by Jim Sedor
Analysis: The many reasons to run for president when you probably don’t stand a chance
MSN – Matt Flegenheimer (New York Times) | Published: 4/14/2019
Presidential primaries tend to produce one nominee but many winners. Beyond the long-shot candidates effectively auditioning for cabinet positions or building a profile (and donor base) for future races, there are prospective books to sell and television contracts to sign, corporate boards to join, and paid speeches to make. Any setback is temporary. “There’s just absolutely no downside and only upside,” Republican strategist Antonia Ferrier said of quixotic presidential runs. “It is an industry of self-promotion. What better way to self-promote than run for president?”
Mueller Whacks Trump with Evidence of Obstruction
Politico – Josh Gerstein and Darren Samuelsohn | Published: 4/18/2019
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report revealed President Trump tried to seize control of the Russia probe and force Mueller’s removal to stop him from investigating potential obstruction of justice by the president. On numerous occasions, Trump’s impulses to stymie the investigators were only halted by staffers’ refusal to carry out orders. While the document confirms Mueller found no conspiracy between Trump’s campaign and the Kremlin, it contains numerous unfavorable observations regarding potential obstruction of justice and sheds light on why the special counsel chose to neither exonerate Trump nor conclude he committed a crime.
Political Consultant Patten Sentenced to Probation After Steering Ukrainian Money to Trump Inaugural
Seattle Times – Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 4/12/2019
An American political consultant whose guilty plea marked the first confirmation that illegal foreign money was used to help fund Donald Trump’s inaugural committee was sentenced to probation by a federal judge who cited his cooperation with prosecutors. W. Samuel Patten admitted steering $50,000 from a pro-Russian Ukrainian politician to Trump’s committee in an investigation spun off from special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Patten acknowledged he was helped by a Russian national who is a longtime associate of former Trump campaign chairperson Paul Manafort. U.S. District Court Judge Amy noted no federal sentencing guideline directly applies to his offense of failing to register as a foreign lobbyist, which is punishable by up to five years in prison.
Prosecution of Former White House Counsel Sets K Street on Edge – Again
Politico – Theodoric Meyer | Published: 4/11/2019
The Justice Department’s indictment of Gregory Craig, who served as White House counsel under President Obama, sent a signal to K Street that lobbyists who work for foreign interests without registering have reason to be afraid. Some lobbyists have been on edge since Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairperson, was indicted on charges of violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act, previously a rarely enforced law requiring lobbyists and others who work on behalf of foreign governments and political parties to disclose their activity. Some said Craig’s indictment is likely to reverberate on K Street as the crackdown continues. A letter from the FARA enforcement unit now “has to be taken as seriously as a heart attack,” said Matthew Sanderson, an attorney who advises clients on the law.
From the States and Municipalities:
Alabama: Lawmakers Pass Bill Saying Economic Developers Are Not Lobbyists
AL.com – Mike Cason | Published: 4/16/2019
A bill exempting economic developers from a requirement to register as lobbyists under the Alabama ethics law won final passage in the Legislature and could be signed into law by Gov. Kay Ivey. Lawmakers and the state’s industrial recruiters say the bill was needed to protect the confidentiality of site selection efforts by representatives of companies interested in coming to Alabama. Lobbyists are required to report to the Ethics Commission who they represent and information about their activities, reports that are available to the public. The bill proved controversial last year, with critics saying it would create two classes of individuals under the ethics law and open loopholes.
California: Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against Santa Clara Mayor in Conflict-of-Interest Case
San Jose Mercury News – Thy Vo | Published: 4/15/2019
Superior Court Judge Mark Pierce threw out a lawsuit that accused Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor of failing to divulge at least $180,000 in income on conflict-of-interest forms, ruling the documents are “political works” exempt from disclosure requirements. The forms require elected and appointed officials to report all their financial interests. But Gillmor’s attorney argued the lawsuit was hatched by political opponents and should be dismissed under a provision in the law concerning a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) that protects people against suits filed to intimidate them or silence their free speech rights. Pierce ruled Gillmor’s conflict-of-interest forms are related to her role as a politician and thereby qualify as “political works” that are protected speech under the anti-SLAPP statute.
Colorado: Denver’s Big 3 Lobbyists Have Deep Relationships with City Government and Mayor Michael Hancock
Colorado Public Radio – Ben Markus | Published: 4/11/2019
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock is seeking a third term this year, and on the campaign trail he is often criticized for his close ties to the business community, particularly developers. Even critics say there is nothing wrong with the mayor and his staff being in close quarters with the business community. But a Colorado Public Radio investigation found several lobbying groups that travel with the mayor also have contracts to work for the city. At the same time, they are actively lobbying the city on behalf of corporate clients. Lobbyists often stock their firms with former city workers, who sometimes go back to work for Denver, perpetuating the “revolving door,” which is legal under city rules. The lobbying firms are also among the largest donors to city campaigns.
Florida: Internet Intrigue: Blitz of lobbyists, consultants worked behind scenes before broadband vote
Tallahassse Democrat – Jeff Burlew | Published: 4/16/2019
When talk of a city-owned broadband internet utility surfaced at the same time an out-of-town fiber-optic firm eyed Tallahassee as a potential new market, lobbyists, public relations people and industry consultants streamed into action. The debate during city commission meetings in March was contentious enough. But there was intrigue behind the curtain. By the time the dust settled, the commission reversed course on plans to explore creation of a new utility, something MetroNet, an Indiana-based company still considering coming to town, opposed. The drama that unfolded came after years of high-profile controversy involving lobbyists and consultants at City Hall. Watchdogs say it highlights the kind of murky dealings that undermine confidence in the city’s ability to police lobbying.
Indiana: Casino-Investor Ties Led Speaker Bosma to Skip Gaming Bill Vote. Here’s Why Questions Linger.
Indianapolios Star – Tony Cook and Kaitlin Lange | Published: 4/18/2019
Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma is recusing himself from votes on legislation that would make some of the biggest changes to Indiana’s casino laws in years because of a potentially lucrative contract arranged by a casino owner. Bosma said his law firm is providing legal representation to the Vigo County Capital Improvement Board, a local entity that stands to benefit from the legislation, which would allow a casino in Terre Haute. The contract was arranged by businessperson Greg Gibson, one of two principal investors in Spectacle Entertainment. Spectacle is lobbying lawmakers for permission to move two casinos in Gary to more lucrative locations. Heightening the concerns are Bosma’s private discussions about the legislation with other lawmakers and casino companies, despite his decision to avoid any public votes on the topic.
Louisiana: Proposed Law Would Bar Legislators from Giving Tulane Scholarships to Immediate Family
New Orleans Times Picayune – Wilborn Nobles | Published: 4/16/2019
A new bill in the Louisiana Senate would bar close relatives of certain state politicians from being eligible to receive free tuition at Tulane University. Senate Bill 183 would make Tulane’s Legislative Scholarship unavailable for the immediate family members of a Louisiana legislator, statewide elected official, or an elected Louisiana official in Congress. The advantage of wealth and privilege in gaining access to elite universities has emerged as a hot topic following recent allegations that wealthy parents bribed university administrators and coaches at top schools to gain admission for their children. While no such payments are alleged in Tulane’s case, some critics say the university’s Legislative Scholarship Program is a “source of political patronage.”
Massachusetts: For the First Time, Boston Municipal Lobbyists Are Required to Register Their Work with City Hall
Boston Globe – Milton Valencia | Published: 4/17/2019
Lobbyists in Boston will now have to register with the city clerk’s office. Those who do not register could face a fine of up to $300, according to an ordinance that was passed last year. Under the ordinance, the city will set up a five-member commission that will be charged with reviewing an individual or entity’s work with the city, determining whether that work would be subject to the new law, and whether to hand out penalties, said City Clerk Maureen Feeney. She said her office was communicating the new requirements to lobbyists who had inquired about the process. Feeney also said an online portal system the city set up is similar to the one used by the state.
Mississippi: Public Universities Spend Millions Wining, Dining, Lobbying Mississippi Lawmakers
Jackson Clarion-Ledger – Luke Ramseth and Geoff Pender | Published: 4/10/2019
Seven of Mississippi’s eight public universities and their private foundations spent nearly $2 million on lobbying over the past four years, a Jackson Clarion Ledger analysis found. That amount includes money for staff lobbyists and private lobbying firms, plus entertaining lawmakers. These public universities lavish money on public officials in hopes of getting more public dollars. And they spend more than most any other special interest groups seeking influence in the Capitol. In Mississippi, it is all completely legal. The state’s lack of restrictions on gifts to public officials means elected officials, their families, and even friends can benefit from unlimited largesse without worry.
Missouri: After Controversial MSD Vote, Winners Donated More Than $150,000 to Stenger Campaign
St. Louis Post Dispatch – David Hunn and Jacob Barker | Published: 4/15/2019
A contract to build the Deer Creek tunnel was one of the largest the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District (MSD) had awarded in years. MSD staff recommended awarding it to the low bidder, Jay Dee Contractors. The district board’s practice, almost without exception, was to approve the professional staff’s recommendation. But SAK Construction mounted a lobbying effort over the contract, and the company’s concerns reached St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger’s office, which appoints three of MSD’s six members on its Board of Trustees. A top aide to Stenger met with two key trustees to discuss the matter. After the meeting with Stenger’s aide, one of those two MSD trustees switched his vote, and SAK ultimately won the contract. Less than a month after the vote, SAK executives did something they had never done before: they began pouring money into Stenger’s campaign.
Nevada: Nevada Lawmaker Paid Her Sister Thousands for Campaign Work, But We Can’t See the Details
Reno Gazette-Journal – James DeHaven | Published: 4/15/2019
Nevada has routinely ranked at or near the bottom of nationwide political transparency surveys. But ex-state Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson’s downfall under a cloud of admitted election spending misdeeds has sparked renewed interest in strengthening anti-corruption statutes. Now, weeks after Atkinson’s resignation, a Reno Gazette Journal analysis reveals state Sen. Pat Spearman paid nearly $103,000 in campaign funds to a consulting firm with close ties to her sister. Reports show Donna Spearman-Davis and Crawford Management Group were the two largest recipients of Spearman’s campaign cash, accounting for about 30 percent of the nearly $500,000 the former congressional hopeful and longtime state senator spent between 2012 and 2018.
April 18, 2019 • Written by Jim Sedor
National: “Why Democrats Are Falling Over Themselves to Find Small-Dollar Donors” by Carrie Levine for Center for Public Integrity
Florida: “Miami’s Political Escape Artist Can’t Shake the Feds’ Election Conspiracy Lawsuit” by David Smiley and Jay Weaver for Miami Herald
Missouri: “After Controversial MSD Vote, Winners Donated More Than $150,000 to Stenger Campaign” by David Hunn and Jacob Barker for St. Louis Post Dispatch
National: “Chicago’s Lori Lightfoot Among a Wave of Lesbian Mayors” by Alan Greenblatt for Governing
Tennessee: “Amid Protests, Houses Passes Bill That Critics Say Criminalizes Voter Registration” by Joel Ebert for The Tennessean
Louisiana: “Proposed Law Would Bar Legislators from Giving Tulane Scholarships to Immediate Family” by Wilborn Nobles for New Orleans Times Picayune
Alabama: “Lawmakers Pass Bill Saying Economic Developers Are Not Lobbyists” by Mike Cason for AL.com
Missouri: “The St. Louis Board of Aldermen Mulls Rules Change for Lobbyists, Guests” by Andrea Henderson for St. Louis Public Radio
April 17, 2019 • Written by Jim Sedor
Colorado: “In Final Push, Democrats Rush Major Changes to Elections and Campaign Finance Disclosure in Colorado” by Sandra Fish for Colorado Sun
New York: “City Council Hears Bill to Expand Public Match in Campaign Finance Program” by Samar Khurshid for Gotham Gazette
National: “Interior’s Watchdog Opens an Ethics Probe into Bernhardt Four Days after His Senate Confirmation” by Darryl Fears for Washington Post
California: “Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against Santa Clara Mayor in Conflict-of-Interest Case” by Thy Vo for San Jose Mercury News
National: “A Record Number of Congresswomen are Mothers. Here’s a Glimpse Inside Their First-Ever Caucus.” by Kaitlin Gibson for Washington Post
Canada: “Ruling in Trudeau-Aga Khan Case Could Change Rules for Unpaid Lobbyists” by Elizabeth Thompson for CBC
Florida: “Beckham Partner Has a Friend in Miami-Dade’s Mayor and a Lobbyist in the Mayor’s Son” by Douglas Hanks for Miami Herald
Florida: “Internet Intrigue: Blitz of lobbyists, consultants worked behind scenes before broadband vote” by Jeff Burlew for Tallahassse Democrat
April 16, 2019 • Written by Joanna Kamvouris
Gov. Jared Polis signed House Bill 1007, creating contribution limits under the Fair Campaign Practices Act for county office candidates.
Current campaign finance law does not set limits on contributions to candidates for county office.
The bill defines county office as a county commissioner, county clerk and recorder, sheriff, corner, treasurer, assessor, or surveyor.
The maximum aggregate contributions a person may make to a candidate for county office under the bill includes $1,250 for the primary election and $1,250 for the general election.
Additionally, small donor committees may contribute $12,500 in the primary election and $12,500 in the general election.
The bill will take effect August 2, provided adjournment sine die of the General Assembly is on May 3, 2019.
If, however, a referendum petition is filed, the bill would not take effect unless approved by voters in the November 2020 general election.