News You Can Use Digest – July 6, 2018

campaign finance, elections, ethics, legislative issues, lobbying, News You Can Use

 

 

 

National:

Ethics Charges Could Hurt Fight Against Legionnaires’ Disease
Detroit Free Press – John Wisley | Published: 7/5/2018

Conflict-of-interest charges could derail a nationwide effort to curb outbreaks of deadly Legionnaires’ disease. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Veterans Affairs, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and representatives of the Mayo Clinic have withdrawn from a scientific committee that has been working on the topic for years. At issue is NSF International, a nonprofit research company that has been coordinating an effort to develop new plumbing standards to reduce the growth of legionella bacteria inside buildings. NSF has said one of its for-profit ventures was partnering with Homeyer Consulting Services to help companies meet the new standard once it is approved.

Is This the Year Women Break the Rules and Win?
New York Times – Kate Zernike | Published: 6/29/2018

This year’s midterm elections have produced a surge of women like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who defeated U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley, across the country: progressive candidates running outsider campaigns powered by strong personal narratives and women’s activism that began with massive marches the day after President Trump’s inauguration and has grown through protests against gun violence and immigration policies that divide families. Whether other women become overnight stars like Ocasio-Cortez –or Stacey Abrams, whose win in the Democratic primary for Georgia governor – in Georgia sparked similar excitement – depends on the dynamics of each state or district.

Federal:

EPA Leader Scott Pruitt Out After Numerous Scandals
CNBC – Tom DiChristopher | Published: 7/5/2018

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned after months of controversies over his lavish spending, ethical lapses, and contentious management decisions eroded President Trump’s confidence in one of his most ardent Cabinet members. Pruitt’s litany of ethics scandals included questions about taxpayer-funded first-class travel, a discounted condominium rental from a lobbyist, the installation of a $43,000 soundproof phone booth in his office, and asking staff to help search for a six-figure job for his wife. In recent weeks, an exodus of trusted staffers left Pruitt increasingly isolated, and some once-loyal Republican lawmakers wearied of defending him. There are more than a dozen federal inquiries into Pruitt’s spending and management of the agency.

News Media Paid Melania Trump Thousands for Use of Photos in ‘Positive Stories Only’
NBC News – Andrew Lehren, Emily Siegel, and Merritt Enright | Published: 7/2/2018

First lady Melania Trump reportedly earned between $100,000 and $1 million in royalties from Getty Images in 2017 for the use of photographs that under a licensing could only be used in “positive coverage.” At least 12 news organizations last year used some of the photos. Several said they were not aware the images were part of a licensing deal that profited the first lady. While it is not unusual for celebrities to sign deals governing the use of their images, it is unusual for the first lady to be party to such an agreement. Getty’s licensing agreement does not offer any hint that money is also paid to the Trumps, and the arrangement did not appear to have become public until the income was listed in President Trump’s May financial filing.

Supreme Court Defeat for Unions Upends a Liberal Money Base
Seattle Times – Noam Schreiber (New York Times) | Published: 7/1/2018

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that requiring nonmembers to make union payments violated their First Amendment rights, since much of what unions do could be considered political activity at odds with their beliefs. In addition to unions, the decision will impact a network of groups dedicated to advancing liberal policies and candidates. Together, they have benefited from tens of millions of dollars a year from public-sector unions, funding now in jeopardy because of the prospective decline in union revenue. Liberal activists argue that closing that pipeline was a crucial goal of the conservative groups that helped bring the case. “If the progressive movement is a navy, they’re trying to take out our aircraft carriers,” said Ben Wikler, Washington director of MoveOn.org.

Trump Docket: New justice could sway court on president’s personal cases
Politico – Josh Gerstein | Published: 7/5/2018

Lawsuits pending over Donald Trump’s personal and business conduct could put his nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court in an awkward position: deciding whether to cast potentially pivotal votes on legal matters of keen importance to the president. Virtually all justices wind up ruling on policy issues affecting the president who appointed them. But Trump is enmeshed in more than half a dozen significant court cases involving everything from his alleged sexual behavior before taking office to claims his businesses are profiting from his presidency and allegations he misused funds through his charitable foundation. The justices also could be asked to rule on whether Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election was legally authorized or whether Trump has the authority to dismiss the special prosecutor.

From the States and Municipalities:

Florida: Where Does She Live? A Miami Lawmaker’s Bizarre Attempt to Reside in Her District
Miami Herald – Sarah Blaskey and David Smiley | Published: 7/3/2018

State Sen. Daphne Campbell, longtime owner of a home inconveniently located outside the community she has represented as a member of the Florida House and Senate, has been difficult to find at home over the last 30 months. More accurately, her home has been difficult to find. That is until late June, when she switched her voter registration to a house in North Miami Beach. It is one of at least four addresses she has listed over the last six years after a statewide redrawing of House districts placed her own home outside the boundaries and forced her into a series of temporary residences. The extent to which she has actually lived at any of them is questionable.

Georgia: Campaign Contributions to Top Candidates Raise Questions
Washington Times; Associated Press –   | Published: 6/29/2018

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found donations of more than $325,000 to Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s campaign from people tied to licensees and companies regulated by his office. The newspaper found contributions of more than $240,000 to Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s campaign before the beginning of the 2018 legislative session from lobbyists, members of their family, or their firms, as well as another $40,000 donated after the session ended. Kemp and Cagle are locked in a runoff for the Republican nomination for governor. Critics say donations to Kemp by people with ties to businesses under the oversight of his licensing or securities divisions could undermine the credibility of one of the state’s top regulators.

Illinois: ‘I Snookered Them’: Illinois Nazi candidate creates GOP dumpster fire
Politico – Natasha Korecki | Published: 6/29/2018

Illinois Republicans botched four opportunities to stop an avowed Nazi from representing their party in a Chicago-area congressional district. Now they are paying the price. Arthur Jones, a Holocaust denier who will appear on the November ballot as the GOP candidate against U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, has become campaign fodder for Democrats as they seek to defeat Gov. Bruce Rauner. And some Republicans even fear the taint from Jones‘s extremist views poses a threat to the party up and down the ticket.

Indiana: New Pay-to-Play Ban Approved
Fort Wayne Journal Gazette – Rosa Salter Rodriguez | Published: 6/28/2018

The Fort Wayne City Council overrode a veto to approve a bill that aims to prevent the appearance of “pay-to-play” practices in the awarding of certain city contracts. The ordinance prohibits “business entities” from bidding on city contracts if any officer, partner, or principal with more than a 10 percent ownership share in the entity and subsidiaries controlled by it contributes more than $2,000 a year to a political campaign of someone with ultimate responsibility for awarding city contracts.

Kentucky: Kentucky Broke Law by Blocking Poor People’s Campaign from Capitol, Beshear Says
Lexington Herald-Leader – Jack Brammer | Published: 7/2/2018

Anti-poverty demonstrators were illegally restricted from entering the Capitol in June under a policy that is not an official state regulation, Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear said. The opinion deferred constitutional questions raised by the policy, suggesting those could be addressed if Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration completes the process for establishing regulations on access to the Capitol. The Kentucky Poor People’s Campaign staged a series of seven demonstrations. During each standoff at the Capitol’s front door, scores of demonstrators asked if they could enter as a group. But they were blocked by a large state police presence and told of a new policy that allowed two members of the group to be in the building at a time.

New Jersey: New Jersey to Spend $5 Million on Reviving Local Journalism
WPG Talk Radio – Michael Symons | Published: 7/3/2018

New Jersey’s new state budget includes $5 million for a first-of-its-kind nonprofit effort to help finance local journalism in cities and towns where it has been decimated. Some of the money could be used to strengthen traditional media sources, such as newspapers and radio stations, and existing local websites. Funds might be used for seed investments in startups in areas without local news, or even media literacy programs. “Studies have shown what happens when local news coverage dries up or disappears. Fewer people vote. Fewer people volunteer. Fewer people run for public office. Corruption increases,” said Mike Rispoli of the media reform advocacy group Free Press.

New York: Upcoming SCOTUS Case Could Complicate NY Effort to Close Double Jeopardy ‘Loophole’
New York Law Journal – Colby Hamilton and Dan Clark | Published: 7/2/2018

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case a case challenging the legal principle that the federal government and those of the states represent “separate sovereigns,” a long-held doctrine that has provided a work-around for state and federal prosecutors faced with constitutional double jeopardy concerns. It comes at a critical moment for supporters of changes to New York’s double jeopardy protections. Under certain circumstances, individuals close to President Trump, facing federal prosecution, could see a pardon absolve them of not only federal charges, but bar state prosecutors from bringing a similar case under New York law.

Oregon: Black Oregon Legislator Says Campaigning in Own District Triggered 911 Call
Portland Oregonian – Everton Bailey Jr. | Published: 7/3/2018

A black state representative in Oregon said one of her constituents called the police on her while she was canvassing a neighborhood in her district. Rep. Janelle Bynum said someone called the police on her to report that she “was going door to door and spending a lot of time typing on my cell phone after each house.” Bynum is up for re-election in November and said she was taking notes on her phone from conversations with constituents. A number of incidents in which police were called on people of color doing normal activities have gained widespread attention in recent months.

Virginia: Lobbying Firm to Va. Lawmakers: If you refuse Apco money, you won’t get any from us
Richmond Times-Dispatch – Patrick Wilson | Published: 6/25/2018

The law and lobbying firm Hunton Andrews Kurth said it would no longer make campaign contributions to Virginia lawmakers unless they also accept donations from one of the firm’s clients, Appalachian Power Co. The move affects legislators who signed a pledge saying they will not accept political money from the state’s regulated energy companies – Dominion Energy and Appalachian – to avoid the appearance of the companies’ undue influence on lawmakers. Whitt Clement, who heads the state government relations practice group at Hunton Andrews Kurth, said the lawmakers who do not accept contributions from Appalachian are being shortsighted because the company is an important corporate citizen in Virginia.