January 4, 2019 •
Mueller Fuels Foreign Lobbying Crackdown
The Hill – Morgan Chalfont and Alex Gangitano | Published: 12/31/2018
The Federal Agents Registration Act dates to 1938, when it was passed to ensure transparency of foreign influence in the American political process as a result of fears over Nazi and communist propaganda. It has been amended twice since then but is essentially the same law. It requires that “agents of foreign principals,” typically lobbyists or consultants who work for foreign governments or political parties, register and file regular reports with the Justice Department on their activities. They also must file copies of materials they distribute for any foreign entities and keep a record of their activities. Criminal prosecutions under the law have been few and far between, but special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has changed that, at least for the time being.
Sexism Claims from Bernie Sanders’s 2016 Run: Paid less, treated worse
MSN – Sydney Ember and Katie Benner (New York Times) | Published: 1/2/2019
Accounts of sexual harassment and demeaning treatment, as well as pay disparity, in U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’s 2016 presidential campaign have circulated in recently in emails, online comments, and private discussions among former supporters. As Sanders tries to build support for a second run at the White House, his perceived failure to address this issue has damaged his progressive bona fides, nearly a dozen former state and national staff members said. It also has raised questions among them about whether the senator can adequately fight for the interests of women, who have increasingly defined the Democratic Party, if he runs again for the presidential nomination. The former staff members said complaints about mistreatment and pay disparity during and just after the campaign reached some senior leaders of the operation.
Trump Effect: How out-of-state money fueled Democratic House wins in 2018
USA Today – Maureen Groppe and Christopher Schnaars | Published: 12/29/2018
The Democrats who captured the U.S. House by flipping 43 districts from red to blue in the November election received on average more than half of their large-dollar campaign funds from outside their states. By contrast, defeated Republicans in those districts collected only about one-third of their itemized funds from outside their states. The money that poured into House races from out-of-state donors was another example of the nationalization of the 2018 midterm elections that were partly a referendum on President Trump’s first two years in office. Analysts said the data reinforced other signs that opposition to Trump helped to motivate Democratic donors.
From the States and Municipalities:
Alabama: Ethics Revision Commission Could Give Legislators Multiple Choices
Montgomery Advertiser – Brian Lyman | Published: 12/27/2018
A commission working on proposed changes to the state’s ethics law might deliver multiple options to legislators next year. Tom Albritton, executive director of the Alabama Ethics Commission, said the final proposals will likely include a range of options on different issues for lawmakers to take up, should they decide to revise ethics laws in the legislative session that begins next March. The Code of Ethics Clarification and Reform Commission has taken up a number of issues, though it has spent a great deal of time on the definition of “principal,” or a person or entity who hires a lobbyist.
Delaware: Former Delaware Lawmaker Melanie George Smith’s New Career Draws Complaints of Self-Dealing
Wilmington News Journal – Scott Goss | Published: 1/2/2019
Former Rep. Melanie George Smith has launched a consulting firm that critics say is benefiting from a Delaware “sustainability” industry that she helped create during her final months in office. Her business, Sustainable World Strategies, is prompting questions about the rules that are supposed to stop state lawmakers from crafting legislation that benefits them personally. Smith rejects the notion that her business has anything to do with the legislation she sponsored. “They are completely separate,” she said. “And when you introduce legislation in Dover that is broadly beneficial to everybody, there is no conflict whatsoever.”
Florida: Lauren Book Proposes ‘Swearing In’ Legislative Speakers
Florida Politics – Jim Rosica | Published: 1/2/2019
Florida Sen. Lauren Book filed the Truth in Government Act for the 2019 legislative session that would require people appearing at legislative committees to be sworn in before speaking. Those making a “false statement that he or she does not believe to be true, … in regard to any material matter, commits a felony of the third degree,” Senate Bill 58 says. But the legislation exempts lawmakers themselves, staff members, and children. The majority of speakers before legislative panels are paid lobbyists. “I don’t think it’s necessary because it confuses 1st Amendment-right advocacy with investigatory or legal proceedings that require testimony under oath,” one lobbyist said.
Idaho: Why Does This Charity Golf Event Hosted by Idaho’s Governor Cost More Than It Gives Out?
Idaho Statesman – Audrey Dutton | Published: 1/3/2019
The annual Governor’s Cup tournament is a multiday golf and sporting affair that raises money for college and trade-school scholarships in Idaho. The event is hosted by the governor and first lady and is attended by the state’s political and business movers and shakers. Almost every year of the past decade, the nonprofit that runs the tournament has spent at least twice as much money on throwing the annual event than it has awarded in financial aid. Marcus Owens, a former director of the IRS’s division for tax-exempt organizations, said the event’s cost calls into question its primary purpose. “It sure sounds like this is an opportunity for lobbyists to do what lobbyists do outside the eyes of reporters or the general public,” said Owens.
Illinois: Feds Charge Powerful Ald. Edward Burke with Corruption
Chicago Tribune – Jason Meisner | Published: 1/3/2019
Chicago Ald. Edward Burke was charged with attempted extortion in a federal criminal complaint. It alleges Burke tried to extort a company that owns fast-food restaurants in the Chicago area and needed help with permits for a remodeling job. The complaint also alleged Burke illegally solicited a campaign donation from an executive with the restaurant company for another politician, who is not named in the charges. The criminal charge was stunning even for a city with a long history of public corruption. While dozens of his city council colleagues have been convicted and sent to prison over the decades, Burke was largely seen as too clever or sophisticated to be caught. He had faced federal scrutiny several times before but always escaped charges.
Missouri: No More Free Lunch for Missouri Lawmakers. Literally.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Kurt Erickson | Published: 1/3/2019
Although it could face a test in court, a possible repeal by frustrated lawmakers, and varied legal opinions from ethics regulators, the so-called Clean Missouri ballot measure approved by voters in November places a five-dollar cap on gifts lawmakers can receive from lobbyists. That means fewer lobbying groups offering free food to lawmakers and legislative staffers during the busy crush of the legislative session that begins January 9 and runs through May 17. It means no more dinners being purchased by lobbyists for lawmakers at local restaurants, nor free tickets to baseball games, concerts, or golf tournaments. For lobbyists, lawmakers, and restaurateurs in Jefferson City, the changes are significant.
Missouri: State Seeks Dismissal of Lobbyist Gift Ban Lawsuit
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Kurt Erickson | Published: 12/26/2018
Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley is asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit that sought to overturn a ban on workers in the governor’s office receiving gifts from lobbyists. Gov. Mike Parson in November rewrote an order issued by his predecessor, Eric Greitens, that had prohibited all gifts from lobbyists. The change was aimed at allowing groups to distribute informational booklets to employees of the state’s chief executive. In October, the Institute for Justice said the ban on gift-giving violated the organization’s First Amendment rights to free speech because it prohibits them from giving workers in Parson’s office two books. Hawley’s office said the change makes the lawsuit unnecessary.
New Jersey: New Jersey Is the Latest Battleground in National Redistricting Fight
Politico – Matt Freidman | Published: 12/28/2018
Democrats who control the New Jersey Legislature attempted to fast track a constitutional amendment to change the way the state draws its legislative districts. The plan would have inserted a formula into the state constitution almost certainly cementing Democratic majorities for decades to come. But to a new wave of liberal activists, it reeked of an attempted power grab. Their party’s redistricting amendment gave them a new target and joined by good government groups and Republican state lawmakers who stood to see their already diminished clout reduced further, they held rallies in front of the Statehouse to oppose it. Redistricting is drawing more and more mainstream attention, with New Jersey the latest state to battle over the drawing of district lines in the run-up to 2020.
New York: N.Y.’s New Attorney General Is Targeting Trump. Will Judges See a ‘Political Vendetta?’
MSN – Jeffery Mays (New York Times) | Published: 12/31/2018
Letitia James, the incoming New York attorney general, has suggested that President Trump could be charged with obstruction of justice, and implied that foreign governments channeled money to his family’s real estate holdings, which she characterized as a “pattern and practice of money laundering.” Democratic attorneys general across the country have used their offices to confront Trump. But since her election, James has opened herself up to criticism that she has gone too far in allowing politics to shape her agenda. Her strident attacks on the president could potentially threaten the legal standing of cases that her office brings against Trump, his family members or their business interests, legal experts said.
North Carolina: NC Lawmakers Override Veto of Bill That Makes Allegations of Campaign Finance Violations Secret
Raleigh News and Observer – Craig Jarvis | Published: 12/27/2018
Republican lawmakers held off North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s attempt to muster enough Democrats to thwart an override of his veto of an elections law bill. A large majority of Democrats had voted to approve the bill, as it reflected changes in state election law that Cooper achieved in a lawsuit. But despite negotiations with legislative leaders over how to accomplish those changes, Cooper focused the argument on keeping accusations of campaign finance violations secret. Cooper opposed a provision in the bill that will require allegations of campaign finance wrongdoing to be probed by the State Ethics Commission and its findings to be referred to the State Board of Elections. The elections board could then refer the matter to local prosecutors to consider bringing criminal charges, all in confidence.
South Dakota: Undisclosed Donors Gave $95K in SD Governor Race
Rapid City Journal – Seth Tupper | Published: 12/30/2018
An out-of-state PAC that ran advertisements supporting Kristi Noem and opposing Billie Sutton in the race for South Dakota governor received $95,000 from undisclosed sources during the final week of the campaign. The money was raised by a corporation, apparently a 501(c)4 nonprofit, that does not disclose its donors. The corporation then gave the money to a super PAC, which appears to have spent most or all the money on independent expenditures in the race. The contributions from the corporation to the super PAC occurred late enough in the campaign that they did not show up on the super PAC’s campaign finance reports until a post-election report, which was filed on December 6.
June 5, 2020 •
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the General Assembly has canceled legislative sessions for the week of June 8 to June 12. In addition, the Joint Legislative COVID-19 Emergency Spending Task Force is expected to meet on Tuesday, June 9. The […]
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the General Assembly has canceled legislative sessions for the week of June 8 to June 12.
In addition, the Joint Legislative COVID-19 Emergency Spending Task Force is expected to meet on Tuesday, June 9.
The meeting will be televised and live streamed online here.
Both chambers of the General Assembly are scheduled to meet on Tuesday, June 16.
This does not affect lobbyist reporting.
June 5, 2020 •
Louisiana lawmakers called themselves into a 30-day special session that began on June 2, immediately following the adjournment of the regular session. The special session agenda focuses on piecing together a more than $30 billion operating budget for the financial […]
Louisiana lawmakers called themselves into a 30-day special session that began on June 2, immediately following the adjournment of the regular session.
The special session agenda focuses on piecing together a more than $30 billion operating budget for the financial year that begins on July 1.
The session will also center on tax credit considerations, exemptions, and suspensions for businesses that were forced to reduce operations since March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
June 4, 2020 •
Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and Speaker of the House David Ralston announced the Georgia General Assembly will resume its 2020 legislative session on June 15. The General Assembly’s session has been on pause since March 13 due to COVID-19 concerns. […]
Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and Speaker of the House David Ralston announced the Georgia General Assembly will resume its 2020 legislative session on June 15.
The General Assembly’s session has been on pause since March 13 due to COVID-19 concerns.
Upon reconvening, a key issue will be the state budget.
June 4, 2020 •
Gov. Brad Little appointed Aaron von Ehlinger to fill the Idaho House District 6 seat until November’s general election. The appointment was made one day after von Ehlinger challenged incumbent Rep. Thyra Stevenson, and won the Republican primary for the […]
Gov. Brad Little appointed Aaron von Ehlinger to fill the Idaho House District 6 seat until November’s general election.
The appointment was made one day after von Ehlinger challenged incumbent Rep. Thyra Stevenson, and won the Republican primary for the seat.
However, Stevenson passed away on May 11 following a heart attack.
She remained on the Republican primary ballot because it was too late to change forms.
The 6th Legislative District Republican Central Committee nominated von Ehlinger and two others as potential picks following the passing of Stevenson.
Von Ehlinger will now be the incumbent in the November general election, where he is running unopposed.
June 4, 2020 •
Campaign Finance California: “DAs Demand Ban on Endorsements and Donations to Prosecutors by Police” by Maria Dinzeo for Courthouse News Service Kansas: “Kansas Agencies Say Senate Candidate’s Raffle of Signed Chiefs Jersey Violates Law” by Bryan Lowry for McClatchy DC […]
California: “DAs Demand Ban on Endorsements and Donations to Prosecutors by Police” by Maria Dinzeo for Courthouse News Service
Kansas: “Kansas Agencies Say Senate Candidate’s Raffle of Signed Chiefs Jersey Violates Law” by Bryan Lowry for McClatchy DC
Tennessee: “Tennessee House Approves Measure Reducing Campaign Finance Disclosures in Election Years” by Joel Ebert for The Tennessean
National: “Steve King Ousted on Historic Primary Night” by Allie Mutnick, James Arkin, and Zach Montellaro for Politico
North Carolina: “Republicans Will Move Trump Convention Speech Out of Charlotte” by Annie Karni for New York Times
Pennsylvania: “A Congressman Caught in the 1970s Abscam Sting Is Now at the Heart of a Philly Election Fraud Probe, Sources Say” by Jeremy Roebuck, Chris Brennan, and Andrew Seidman for Philadelphia Inquirer
Wisconsin: “Wisconsin Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Voter Purge Case” by Scott Bauer for AP News
National: “How Trump’s Idea for a Photo Op Led to Havoc in a Park” by Peter Baker, Maggie Haberman, Katie Rogers, Zona Kanno-Youngs, and Katie Benner (New York Times) for MSN
National: “This Treasury Official Is Running the Bailout. It’s Been Great for His Family.” by Justin Elliott, Lydia DePillis, and Robert Faturechi for ProPublica
New Mexico: “Mixed Ruling on State’s Ethics Law” by Dan McKay for Albuquerque Journal
Rhode Island: “Ethics Commission Rejects Staff Advice: Opens door for Sen. Lynch Prata to potentially get Supreme Court seat” by Katherine Gregg for Providence Journal
June 3, 2020 •
After a prolonged standoff with the state’s Democratic governor, President Donald Trump says Republicans will seek another state instead of North Carolina to hold its August convention. Gov. Roy Cooper rejected a proposal for a full convention and insisted on […]
After a prolonged standoff with the state’s Democratic governor, President Donald Trump says Republicans will seek another state instead of North Carolina to hold its August convention.
Gov. Roy Cooper rejected a proposal for a full convention and insisted on scaling back the event due to uncertainty as to what the status of the COVID-19 pandemic will be in August.
Several other locations are expected to or have already expressed interest in hosting the event, but the GOP is still weighing its options for the event.