February 27, 2015 •

News You Can Use Digest – February 27, 2015

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Federal:

Report: Illinois Rep. Schock billed private planes, concerts
Tacoma News Tribune – Jack Gillum and Stephen Braun (Associated Press) | Published: 2/23/2015

U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) paid tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to donors for private flights and spent campaign money on several concerts and festivals. An Associated Press report said Schock spent at least $40,000 of taxpayer money for flights on private planes owned by donors, which could be a violation of House rules, as it is illegal for candidates and lawmakers to use noncommercial aircrafts for official or campaign business. Allegations of improper spending have been trickling out against Schock since a Washington Post reporter in February stumbled upon a redesign of his congressional office. The office was painted and redesigned to resemble the ornate dining room featured on the television show “Downton Abbey.”

The Inside Story Of How Citizens United Has Changed Washington Lawmaking
Huffington Post – Paul Blumenthal and Ryan Grim | Published: 2/26/2015

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision is reshaping how, how much, and to whom money flows in Washington. How the flood of money released by the ruling has changed elections has been the subject of much discussion, but the decision’s role in allowing that same money to infuse the legislative process has largely gone unreported. According to a review of documents, as well as interviews with lobbyists and policymakers, independent spending has become increasingly intertwined with lobbying and legislation, the precise appearance of corruption campaign finance laws were meant to curb.

From the States and Municipalities:

Alabama – Alabama Ethics Commission Names New Director after Six-Month Search
AL.com – Erin Edgemon | Published: 2/24/2015

The Alabama Ethics Commission selected Tom Albritton as its new director. Albritton replaces Jim Sumner, who retired last October after 17 years at the helm. The commission received 27 applications for the post, and interviewed six of them.

California – California Ethics Panel Rejects Exceptions to Lobbyist Fundraising Rules
Los Angeles Times – Patrick McGreevy | Published: 2/19/2015

The California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) approved new regulations banning political fundraisers in the homes of lobbyists. The panel rejected a proposal to allow fundraisers in lobbyists’ homes as long as the candidate pays for the use of the home. Legislation on the issue was passed after the FPPC imposed a record $133,500 fine last year against lobbyist Kevin Sloat and his firm for violating campaign contribution rules by providing alcohol and cigars at lavish fundraisers held at his home for lawmakers’ campaigns.

District of Columbia – For Marion Barry’s Son, Filling Dad’s Shoes Is a Surprisingly Uphill Battle
Washington Post – Mike DeBonis | Published: 2/21/2015

Ward 8 voters in the District of Columbia will again get to choose the name Marion Barry on April 28, when the only son of the late, legendary former mayor will try to replace his father on the city council. Victory, however, is far from assured for a son who wrestles with some of the same demons as the father: drugs, the law, the wrong kind of media attention. And the reservoir of goodwill, political favors, and campaign support from which the elder Barry drew to overcome his own troubles does not run so deep for his son.

Hawaii – Hawaii Monitor: Is a weak lobbying law getting weaker?
Honolulu Civil Beat – Ian Lind | Published: 2/25/2015

At a recent meeting of the Hawaii Ethics Commission, Executive Director Les Kondo briefed commissioners on his plan to revisit and potentially reverse a 2007 policy requiring so-called goodwill lobbying to be disclosed. Kondo said he now believes the specific language of the statute is not broad enough to demand disclosure of social gatherings, whether one-on-one dinners between legislators and lobbyists, or receptions bringing dozens of lawmakers together to drink and dine with special interest groups, where specific legislation is not discussed.

Illinois – Rahm Emanuel Forced Into Runoff in Bid for Second Term as Chicago Mayor
New York Times – Monica Davey | Published: 2/24/2015

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel failed to capture a majority of the vote in his bid for a second term, an embarrassment for the former White House chief of staff who now faces an April 7 runoff against Cook County Commissioner Jesus Garcia. The result exposed possible vulnerability for an incumbent who has widespread support from business leaders, national name recognition, and millions of dollars in campaign funds.

Kansas – Conservatives Are Changing Kansas Law in Ways That Enshrine Their Power, Weaken Opponents
Kansas City Star – Brad Cooper | Published: 2/24/2015

Conservatives’ virtually unchallenged control of the Kansas Capitol opens the way for new policies that could undercut the influence of their traditional opposition for years to come. Those efforts figure to weaken the lobbying efforts by cities, hamstring the power of teachers unions, limit how academics can speak out on public controversies, and mold a more conservative judiciary. “The reason why conservatives gained control of the House, the Senate and the governor’s office is because the people wanted us to,” said state Rep. Scott Schwab. But aggressive action on several fronts has triggered criticism – some of it coming from fellow Republicans – the conservative majority might strip away basic fairness from the state’s political dynamics, especially with bills seen as targeting professors and the media.

Louisiana – Ethics Board Decision Protects Political Ads Funding Sources
New Orleans Advocate – Marsha Shuler | Published: 2/22/2015

The Louisiana Board of Ethics said groups funding political ads do not have to disclose those expenditures unless they advocate voting for or against a particular candidate. They also would not have to disclose the source of the money received for a particular ad based on the advisory opinion. The board’s opinion aligns with recent court rulings but did not sit well with some members who favor disclosure of the outside election spending and its source.

Massachusetts – Group Suing OCPF over Union Contributions
MassLive.com – Gintautas Dumcius (State House News Service) | Published: 2/23/2015

A conservative group sued the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance on behalf of two local businesses, arguing the commonwealth has banned companies from making political donations while allowing unions to contribute up to $15,000. The lawsuit by the Goldwater Institute says “businesses and unions are functionally equivalent organizations,” and alleges violations of free speech and equal protection under the U.S. and state constitutions.

Nevada – As Revealed in Ethics Disclosures, Nevada Government is an Insiders’ Game
Las Vegas Sun – Kyle Roerink | Published: 2/17/2015

Many elected officials have professional relationships that extend outside the Legislature, creating a web that reveals the close-knit nature of Nevada politics. Those who submitted disclosures have not been accused of any conflict-of-interest. But critics maintain the relationships speak of a system where cronyism is common.

New York – Daniel Donovan, Garner Case Prosecutor, Defends Record as He Runs for Congress
New York Times – Alexander Burns | Published: 2/24/2015

Daniel Donovan, the Staten Island district attorney, handled the investigation into the police chokehold death of Eric Garner, an inquiry that touched off demonstrations across New York City and beyond when a grand jury declined to deliver an indictment. Now Donovan is considered the likely successor to former U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm, a fellow Republican who vacated his seat in January after he pleaded guilty to tax evasion. But while Grimm came to be defined by his acknowledged criminal actions, Donovan has come to be identified by the Garner grand jury’s inaction.

North Carolina – Charlotte City Council Tightens Ethics Rules
Charlotte Observer – Ely Portillo | Published: 2/23/2015

The Charlotte City Council adopted a new ethics policy in response to the Patrick Cannon corruption scandal last year that put the former mayor in federal prison. It forbids elected officials from accepting gifts or meals. Exceptions include tickets to events where the city has a business reason for being represented. Officials could also accept food and drink at such events. Nominal gifts under $50, mementos related to civil events, and gifts from friends and family are also exceptions under the ordinance. The policy does not address lobbying disclosure, which some council members had called for.

Utah – Lobbyist Badges May Be Short-Lived on the Hill
Salt Lake Tribune – Robert Gehrke | Published: 2/20/2015

Utah Sen. Curt Bramble is seeking to repeal the requirement that lobbyists wear special badges. The problem, he says, is while it covers contract lobbyists or advocates working for particular companies, there are many who fall into a gray area, such as citizen activists, nonprofit entities, government employees, and others who are not required to wear the badges. With the lack of clarity, Bramble said, it makes sense to repeal the requirement, which lobbyists had complained about in the first place.

Virginia – Former Va. First Lady Sentenced to 366 Days in Corruption Case
Washington Post – Matt Zapotosky, Rosalind Helderman, and Rachel Weiner | Published: 2/20/2015

Former Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell was sentenced to one year and one day in prison for her role in a bribery scheme that ended her husband’s political career. Ex-Gov. Bob McDonnell was sentenced to two years in prison. A jury found the McDonnells guilty of taking more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from businessperson Jonnie Williams in exchange for promoting his company’s nutritional supplements. Maureen McDonnell is likely the first modern-day spouse of a governor convicted on felony charges arising from her occupancy in an executive mansion.

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.

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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November 20, 2020 •

Illinois Cancels Veto Session due to the Surge in Coronavirus Cases

Illinois Capitol

Illinois State Capitol Building

The Illinois Legislature canceled the veto session originally scheduled for this week and December 1-3, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. State lawmakers hope to meet in January, though no date has been set. Generally, the veto session, a short session […]

The Illinois Legislature canceled the veto session originally scheduled for this week and December 1-3, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

State lawmakers hope to meet in January, though no date has been set.

Generally, the veto session, a short session in the fall, is used to override bills that have been vetoed and resolve conflicts with the governor.

There are no vetoes to address this year, but lawmakers could address other matters.

The next General Assembly will be inaugurated on January 13, 2021.

Therefore, the veto session would have to take place before then if it is held.

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