April 4, 2014 •

News You Can Use Digest – April 4, 2014

 

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National:

New G.O.P. Bid to Limit Voting in Swing States

New York Times – Steven Yaccino and Lizette Alvarez | Published: 3/29/2014

Some swing states under Republican control are enacting new restrictions on registering and voting that go beyond recent voter identification requirements. The bills, laws, and administrative rules shake up fundamental components of state election systems, including the days and times polls are open and the locations where people vote.

Federal:

Supreme Court Strikes Down Overall Political Donation Cap

New York Times – Adam Liptak | Published: 4/2/2014

The U.S. Supreme Court freed wealthy donors to give more money directly to congressional candidates. The conservative majority struck down aggregate limits that barred political donors from giving more than $123,000 in an election cycle to candidates running for seats in the House or Senate. The court said this limit violated the free-speech rights of the donors, and it was not needed to prevent corruption of the political process. The justices noted donors must still abide by rules that prevent them from giving more than $2,600 per election per candidate.

From the States and Municipalities:

Alabama – Wren Resigns

Montgomery Advertiser – Kala Kachmar and Brian Lyman | Published: 4/1/2014

Alabama Rep. Greg Wren resigned and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor ethics violation in a deal that will secure his cooperation with a corruption investigation at the Capitol. Court documents said Wren, an insurance agent by trade who served as chairperson of the Joint Legislative Medicaid Committee, tried to insert language in the state budget that would have given American Pharmacy Cooperative an edge in certain Medicaid contracts. At the same times, management with the cooperative helped Wren secure a contract with RxAlly for consulting worth $24,000.

California – Case against State Sen. Yee Raises Fundraising Questions

San Francisco Chronicle – Melody Gutierrez and Carla Marinucci | Published: 3/31/2014

Much of the money donated to California lawmakers comes from groups or individuals with pending business before the Legislature. The recent arrest of state Sen. Leland Yee prompted several lawmakers to suggest it is time to revisit campaign finance reform to fix inadequacies in the law or to, at the very least, stop politicians from using campaign donations to pay for their legal defense following criminal charges.

Connecticut – Co-Conspirators’ Guilty Pleas Make John Rowland a Target

Connecticut Mirror – Mark Pazniokas | Published: 4/1/2014

A former congressional candidate and her husband pleaded guilty in a scheme to set up a phony contract to hide the role played in the campaign by former Connecticut Gov. John Rowland, who resigned a decade ago in a corruption scandal. Prosecutors said Lisa Wilson-Foley, Brian Foley, and Rowland entered into an unlawful conspiracy in 2011 to make illegal contributions to Wilson-Foley. Rowland was paid about $35,000 for services to the campaign. The payments originated with Foley and constituted campaign contributions but were not reported to the FEC.

Delaware – Judge Grants Injunction Sought by Conservative Group Challenging Delaware Campaign Finance Law

Greenfield Daily Reporter – Randall Chase (Associated Press) | Published: 3/31/2014

A federal judge ruled in favor of Delaware Strong Families in its challenge to a 2012 state law requiring groups that spend $500 or more during an election period on third-party advertisements to disclose the source of donations. The judge issued a preliminary injunction that halts this reporting requirement.

District of Columbia – Councilwoman Bowser Defeats Incumbent Gray in D.C. Mayoral Primary

Washington Post – Mike DeBonis and Aaron Davis | Published: 4/1/2014

District of Columbia Councilperson Muriel Bowser won an upset victory in the Democratic primary for mayor in a race that turned on the integrity of the incumbent, Vincent Gray. Only three weeks before the election, Gray was comfortably ahead in the polls when a donor pleaded guilty to illegally pumping nearly $700,000 into Gray’s campaign four years ago. The donor said the mayor had participated in the plot. Gray denied knowledge of the under-the-table effort on his behalf, but overnight, a listless race became a referendum on the mayor’s credibility.

Georgia – Trial Begins in Lawsuit against Georgia Ethics Commission

Marietta Daily Journal – Christina Cassidy (Associated Press) | Published: 4/1/2014

A jury will decide whether they believe the claims brought by former state ethics commission Executive Secretary Stacey Kalberman in a wrongful termination lawsuit, who says she was forced out her job in an effort to stifle an investigation of Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, or side with state attorneys who argue she left after her salary was reduced by 30 percent for budgetary reasons in 2011 and it was unrelated to the governor’s ethics probe.

Illinois – NRA Lobbyist Breaks Hunting Law, Then Lobbies to Change It

Chicago Sun-Times – Dave McKinney | Published: 4/1/2014

Todd Vandermyde, the National Rifle Association’s Illinois lobbyist, was fined $120 last December for breaking a state hunting law. A month later, he worked with House Minority Leader Jim Durkin to rewrite the law he broke. “If I … changed the law because I got a ticket, people would be screaming bloody murder; I don’t think it’s any different when someone with the level of influence and access that he has does it, too,” said Rep. Kelly Cassidy.

Kentucky – 2014 Changes Will Strengthen Kentucky Ethics Law

Russellville News-Democrat & Leader – George Troutman (Legislative Ethics Commission) | Published: 4/3/2014

Kentucky lawmakers gave final approval to House Bill 28, which makes significant changes to the lobbying statute, including a “no cup of coffee” rule, meaning lobbyists and their employers will be prohibited from buying a meal, or even a cup of coffee, for an individual legislator, candidate, or the spouse or child of a lawmaker or candidate. In this opinion piece, George Troutman of the Legislative Ethics Commission delineates the reforms, and the positive effects he believes will ensue if Gov. Steve Beshear signs the measure into law.

Missouri – Pledge Asks Missouri Lawmakers to Refuse Gifts from Lobbyists

Columbia Tribune – Rudi Keller | Published: 3/30/2014

Missouri Rep. John Wright is calling on lawmakers to sign a pledge promising not to accept gifts from lobbyists. Last year, lobbyists purchased almost $1 million worth of meals, trips, golf outings, and sports tickets for lawmakers, including tickets to the World Series and University of Missouri football and basketball games. “Most of the people here are good people, but a lot of bad habits have developed and there is a culture of lobbyist gifts and a culture of entitlement that needs to be completely reset,” said Wright.

Montana – Commissioner Says Senate Majority Leader Art Wittich Broke Campaign Laws

The Daily Journal – Matt Volz (Associated Press) | Published: 4/1/2014

Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl concluded Senate Majority Leader Art Wittich violated the law by coordinating with Western Tradition Partnership and other entities to accept illegal corporate donations in his 2010 primary election campaign. Motl asked a state judge to weigh his findings and decide whether Wittich’s actions merit removal from office and from the 2014 election ballot.

New York – Capitol Corruption Panel’s Demise Angers Watchdogs

New York Times – Jesse McKinley and Thomas Kaplan | Published: 3/31/2014

Ethics provisions attached to the state budget signed into law by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo disbands the Commission to Investigate Public Corruption, which was formed last July and given a broad mandate to restore public trust in government. Cuomo said the reforms he wanted would be accomplished by changes to campaign finance reporting requirements and bribery laws, and the public financing of elections in this year’s race for state comptroller.

Pennsylvania – Pa. House Leaders Impose Ban on Most Cash Gifts

Philadelphia Inquirer – Mark Scolforo (Associated Press) | Published: 4/2/2014

Legislative leaders adopted a new ethics rule that prohibits members of the Pennsylvania House from accepting cash gifts, although money from specified close family members and non-lobbyist friends is allowed. A spokesperson for House Speaker Sam Smith said the policy change was made in response to reports in The Philadelphia Inquirer that four House members accepted payments from a lobbyist who was part of a sting operation.

Wisconsin – Lobbyist Bill Draws Sharp Reactions

WisconsinWatch.org – Bill Leuders | Published: 4/1/2014

Senate Bill 655, which was signed into law recently by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, allows lobbyists to start making personal donations the day candidates can circulate petitions for office, which is April 15. Under the previous law, they could not make any contributions until June 1. The bill has been assailed for both its process and its substance. Meanwhile, some lament that this dissent led to it being watered down.

Jim SedorState and Federal Communications produces a weekly summary of national news, offering more than 80 articles per week focused on ethics, lobbying, and campaign finance.

News You Can Use is a news service provided at no charge only to clients of our online Executive Source Guides, or ALERTS™ consulting clients.

 

November 24, 2020 •

Tuesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance National: “Georgia Senator David Perdue Privately Pushed for a Tax Break for Rich Sports Teamowners” by Robert Faturechi and Justin Elliott for ProPublica California: “SLO County Supervisors OK $25,000 Campaign Donation Cap Over Hundreds of Objections” by Lindsey […]

Campaign Finance

National: “Georgia Senator David Perdue Privately Pushed for a Tax Break for Rich Sports Teamowners” by Robert Faturechi and Justin Elliott for ProPublica

California: “SLO County Supervisors OK $25,000 Campaign Donation Cap Over Hundreds of Objections” by Lindsey Holden for San Luis Obispo News

New York: “Bill Would Further Restrict Coordination Between City Candidates and Independent Expenditure Campaigns” by Samar Khurshid for Gotham Gazette

Elections

National: “Trump Pushes Supreme Court to Let Him Reshape Apportionment” by Michael Macagnone for Roll Call

Ethics

National: “All the President’s ‘Guys’” by Ben Terris for Washington Post

California: “Feds Charge Recology Exec in Purported Mohammed Nuru Bribery Scheme” by Julian Mark and Joe Eskenazi for Mission Local

Illinois: “Feds Draw Near Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan as Key Confidant Weighs Cooperation Choice” by Jason Meisner and Ray Long (Chicago Tribune) for Yahoo News

Ohio: “Sam Randazzo Resigns as Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Chair” by Jeremy Pelzer for Cleveland Plain Dealer

Legislative Issues

Wyoming: “When Will the Wyoming Legislature Convene Next Year? No One’s Sure Yet” by Nick Reynolds for Casper Star Tribune

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November 23, 2020 •

Missouri Special Session Continued Until After Thanksgiving Break

Missouri Capitol Building

The second special session of the Missouri General Assembly has been delayed until after the Thanksgiving break. This comes in response to a number of positive COVID-19 cases among members and staff. The special session began on November 5 to […]

The second special session of the Missouri General Assembly has been delayed until after the Thanksgiving break.

This comes in response to a number of positive COVID-19 cases among members and staff.

The special session began on November 5 to focus on getting federal CARES Act funding distributed to the state.

This does not affect lobbyist reporting.

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November 23, 2020 •

Third Cincinnati Council Member Arrested

Cincinnati Skyline

Cincinnati Skyline - by Mr. RNGAndreson

Cincinnati City Councilman Alexander “P.G.” Sittenfeld was arrested on federal corruption charges. He is the third council member to be arrested this year. Sittenfeld denies the allegations of bribery and attempted extortion and does not plan to resign. If he […]

Cincinnati City Councilman Alexander “P.G.” Sittenfeld was arrested on federal corruption charges.

He is the third council member to be arrested this year.

Sittenfeld denies the allegations of bribery and attempted extortion and does not plan to resign.

If he does resign, four members of the council will choose his successor by a majority vote.

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November 23, 2020 •

San Luis Obispo County Adopts Campaign Contribution Limits

San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo - by MARELBU

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors voted 3-1 on Friday to set campaign contribution limits at $25,000. Hundreds of community members called in asking the county go with the forthcoming state limit of $4,700. Opponents of the $25,000 […]

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors voted 3-1 on Friday to set campaign contribution limits at $25,000.

Hundreds of community members called in asking the county go with the forthcoming state limit of $4,700.

Opponents of the $25,000 ceiling voiced concerns the higher limit would lead to corruption.

Others argued the county should not make a decision until a replacement for deceased Supervisor Adam Hill is seated.

Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation limiting campaign contributions to local candidates to $4,700 in cities and counties not having their own contribution limits.

Those limits go into effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

The $25,000 limit will apply to candidates for 10 county offices, including the five supervisors, the district attorney, and the sheriff.

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November 23, 2020 •

Monday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance National: “Biden Transition Steps Up Fundraising as Trump Withholds Federal Money” by Elena Schneider and Theodoric Meyer for Politico California: “After Divisive Election Cycle, San Jose to Explore New Campaign Finance Laws” by Maggie Angst for San Jose […]

Campaign Finance

National: “Biden Transition Steps Up Fundraising as Trump Withholds Federal Money” by Elena Schneider and Theodoric Meyer for Politico

California: “After Divisive Election Cycle, San Jose to Explore New Campaign Finance Laws” by Maggie Angst for San Jose Mercury News

Nevada: “Las Vegas Judge Took Lawyer’s Campaign Donation Before Dismissals” by David Ferrara for Las Vegas Review-Journal

Elections

National: “Trump’s Escalating Attacks Put Pressure on Vote Certification Process” by David Fahrenthold, Beth Reinhard, Elise Viebeck, and Emma Brown (Washington Post) for MSN

Ethics

New York: “Trump Tax Write-Offs Are Ensnared in 2 New York Fraud Investigations” by Danny Hakim, Mike McIntire, William Rashbaum, and Ben Protess for New York Times

Ohio: “Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld Arrested on Federal Charges” by Andrew Tobias for Cleveland Plain Dealer

Utah: “Audit Finds Free Spending and Cronyism by Ex-State Agency Head” by Bethany Rodgers for Salt Lake Tribune

Lobbying

National: “K Street Moves to Counter ‘Purity’ Test for Biden Administration” by Kate Ackley for Roll Call

Florida: “After Months of Work, Leon County Gives OK to Stronger Lobbying Ordinance” by Karl Etters for Tallahassee Democrat

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November 20, 2020 •

COVID Has Affected State and Federal Communications

First, we are all in good health at State and Federal Communications. For the most part, we are working one day a week in the office and the rest working from home. The staff is also social distancing and wearing […]

First, we are all in good health at State and Federal Communications. For the most part, we are working one day a week in the office and the rest working from home. The staff is also social distancing and wearing masks when in the office. We have only had one staff member who tested positive and is back in the office after the required quarantine period.

I do have to say, this pandemic has affected an important publication. After 21 years, the quick desk reference, State and Federal Communications Guidebook, will not be printed. Due to the pandemic, our clients are not in the office and we are already in possession of the 2020 Congressional Directory we ordered for everyone and received in May, when offices closed and people started working from home.

The information in the Guidebook is included in the very robust State and Federal Communications website, www.stateandfed.com, which will have a redesign unveiled on December 1, 2020.

Jon Spontarelli and Kristi Hadgigeorge will be alerting the State and Federal Communications Community about the updates and upgrades on our new website and, especially where you can continue to find the valuable materials from the Guidebook.

We will continue to make sure you have all the valuable information you need for your work and please do not hesitate to give us a call if you need guidance along the road to compliance.

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November 20, 2020 •

Colorado Governor Calls for Special Session November 30

Colorado Capitol

Colorado Capitol Building

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced the start date of the previously announced special session on COVID-19 relief to begin November 30 at 10 a.m. Among the action items to be addressed during the session are childcare support, housing and direct […]

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced the start date of the previously announced special session on COVID-19 relief to begin November 30 at 10 a.m.

Among the action items to be addressed during the session are childcare support, housing and direct rental assistance, food insecurity, and public health response.

It is expected to take at least three days to approve the legislation. A professional lobbyist must disclose within 72 hours if a lobbyist agrees to lobby for an existing client or takes a new position in connection to legislation, standard, rules, or rates during a special session.

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November 20, 2020 •

New Mexico Governor Announces Special Session

New Mexico Capitol

New Mexico Capitol Building - Ken Lund

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced November 19 she will call a special legislative session prior to Thanksgiving to provide COVID-19 relief. The state has about $300 million in federal aid. Gov. Grisham and lawmakers want to use the […]

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced November 19 she will call a special legislative session prior to Thanksgiving to provide COVID-19 relief.

The state has about $300 million in federal aid. Gov. Grisham and lawmakers want to use the resources toward small businesses and unemployment.

The special session is scheduled to begin Tuesday, November 24, and is expected to last one day. The Roundhouse will be closed to the public during that time.

A legislative report will be due within 48 hours for each separate expenditure of $500 or more made or incurred by a lobbyist or employer during the special legislative session.

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