July 13, 2017 •

News You Can Use Digest – July 14, 2017

 

 

 

National:

Blue Cities Want to Make Their Own Rules. Red States Won’t Let Them.
New York Times – Emily Badger | Published: 7/6/2017

In the last few years, Republican-controlled state Legislatures have intensified the use of what are known as pre-emption laws, to block towns and cities from adopting measures favored by the left. The states are not merely overruling local laws; they have walled off whole new realms where local governments are not allowed to govern at all. Several states are now threatening to withhold resources from communities that defy them and to hold their elected officials legally and financially liable. There is disagreement on who started the fight: states in stripping municipal power, or cities in seizing new roles that were not theirs to begin with.

Federal:

Is Donald Trump Jr.’s ‘I Love It’ Email a Smoking Gun or a Distraction?
Washington Post – Marc Fisher and David Nakamura | Published: 7/12/2017

When Donald Trump Jr. said “I love it” to the prospect of obtaining damaging information from friendly Russians about Hillary Clinton in June of last year, did that constitute a smoking gun? In one America, the answer was a pretty solid yes. Many media outlets and some Democrats straight-out declared the email the “smoking gun” in the investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to take down the Clinton candidacy. Many other news organizations hedged a bit, attaching a question mark to the term. But to supporters of President Trump, the gun was not smoking, it was just more of the same noise that has been cluttering up this presidency since its inception.

The Deep Industry Ties of Trump’s Deregulation Teams
New York Times – Danielle Ivory and Robert Faturechi | Published: 7/11/2017

President Trump entered office pledging to cut red tape, and within weeks he ordered his administration to assemble teams to aggressively scale back government regulations. But the effort is being conducted in large part out of public view and often by political appointees with deep industry ties and potential conflicts-of-interest. Most government agencies have declined to disclose information about their deregulation teams. But The New York Times and ProPublica identified 71 appointees, including 28 with potential conflicts. Some appointees are reviewing rules their previous employers sought to weaken or end, and at least two may be positioned to profit if certain regulations are undone.

Washington Firm Discloses Lobbying Senior Trump Officials on Macedonia
BuzzFeed News – John Hudson | Published: 7/6/2017

Mercury Public Affairs is providing new details about a mysterious U.S. Justice Department filing it made in February for lobbying work related to Macedonia. The firm says it contacted aides to senior Trump administration officials on issues related to Macedonia during a 12-day period in February. Mercury never received payment for the work, according to the document. The Foreign Agents Registration Act form is a retroactive update to a February filing that gained attention after two reports pointed out Mercury did not disclose a foreign agent in the filing. The new form still does not list a foreign agent – it simply lists the Libertas Foundation of which little is known, as the entity the firm is working on behalf of.

From the States and Municipalities:

California: California Lawmakers Want Data on Lobbyists’ Race, Sexual Orientation
Sacramento Bee – Taryn Luna | Published: 7/10/2017

Leaders of the Legislative Asian Pacific Islander, Black, Jewish, Latino, LGBT, and Women’s caucuses in the California Legislature asked 400 lobbying firms, associations, and principals to provide them with the race, ethnicity, gender, and openly gay or lesbian orientation of their employees. Lawmakers said the request is intended to expand the conversation about cultural diversity in the Capitol workforce. Some lobbyists applauded the move for forcing a male-dominated industry to think about its hiring practices. Others expressed concern about how the data could be used against them if their employees are not diverse enough for the lawmakers.

Delaware: Wilmington Ethics Commission Quietly Disbanded under Mayor Williams
Wilmington News Journal – Christina Jedra | Published: 7/12/2017

The Wilmington Ethics Commission quietly dissolved after former Mayor Dennis Williams’ administration allowed members’ terms to expire. City officials have “no idea” how this happened, said Gary Fullman, who was Williams’ chief of staff. It appears sometime after Mayor Mike Purzycki took office in January, his administration became aware of the situation. After being told a story would be published by The Wilmington News Journal on the matter, the city issued a press release saying the board had reformed, announcing five new members and two returning. The members will need to be confirmed by the city council.

District of Columbia: D.C. Business Groups Fight Proposed Pay-to-Play Regulations
Washington Post – Peter Jamison | Published: 7/10/2017

Representatives of District of Columbia business organizations argued against proposed limits on political donations by companies that do business with the city, saying widespread suspicions that contractors have undue influence are unwarranted. Opponents of the “pay-to-play” regulations being mulled by council members relied on an argument long favored by critics of campaign finance laws: that proven instances of elected officials making decisions based on campaign donations are rare, if not nonexistent.

Hawaii: Can Revamped Honolulu Ethics Commission Rebuild Its Credibility?
Honolulu Civil Beat – Anita Hofschneider | Published: 7/13/2017

Honolulu Ethics Commission Executive Director Jan Yamane must work to rebuild an agency that lost its bite in recent years due to internal strife and outside interference from Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s administration. The commission has been relatively quiet since Yamane was hired in August to replace Chuck Totto, who had been the agency’s executive director for nearly 16 years. Yamane said the commission now has a backlog of 40 to 50 complaints, on top of about 60 pending investigations. Yamane has been busy trying to get a handle on the hefty workload and figure out how the commission can be more efficient and effective. There are about 10,000 city employees and only five ethics commission staffers, only three of which can perform investigations.

Iowa: Trial Begins in Lawsuit Alleging Toxic ‘Boys’ Club’ at Iowa Statehouse
Des Moines Register – Grant Rodgers | Published: 7/9/2017

A jury will hear testimony in a lawsuit that claims the Iowa Capitol sheltered a toxic “boys’ club” where some male senators and their staffers spoke freely about sex and women’s bodies with few or no consequences. Kirsten Anderson, a former communications director for the Senate Republican caucus, brought the lawsuit after being fired in May 2013, just seven hours after giving her boss a memorandum asking for an investigation into workplace culture at the Capitol and for stronger policies against harassment. Republican leaders have said Anderson was fired because the quality of her work was deteriorating. But court documents filed by Anderson portray scenes where she and other female staffers were forced to listen to comments about the size of women’s breasts and gossip about colleagues’ sex lives.

Montana: Legislators Face No Punishment for Ignoring Financial Disclosure Forms
The Missoulian – Jayme Fraser | Published: 7/3/2017

Montana’s system to monitor conflicts-of-interest among legislators received a failing grade in an analysis by the Center for Public Integrity. Some lawmakers ignore or flout the rules that do exist and no one has been sanctioned for breaking them in decades. Although legislators cannot take their seat without filing a financial disclosure form, no one ensures state officials fill them out completely. The two-page document was intended to be the baseline by which the public can gauge if elected officials and state employees misuse public posts. It is a key component of the law designed to fulfill a requirement in the Montana Constitution that they must work for the public and not themselves.

New York: Appeals Court Overturns Conviction of Sheldon Silver
Albany Times Union – Matthew Hamilton | Published: 7/13/2017

An appeals court overturned the conviction of former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who was sentenced to 12 years in prison after being found guilty of accepting nearly $4 million in bribes and kickbacks disguised as legal payments from a pair of law firms that had business before the state. The appeals court cited a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, made after Silver’s conviction, which narrowed the definition of the kind of official conduct that can serve as the basis of a corruption prosecution. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit agreed with Silver’s contention that jury instructions in his trial were erroneous in light of the decision handed down in McDonnell v. United States.

North Carolina: Lobbyist Fundraiser Invite Raises Questions
WRAL – Laura Leslie | Published: 7/10/2017

Current lobbyist and former state Rep. Mike Hager is co-hosting a fundraiser for North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, but says he has not broken the state law against political contributions by lobbyists. Watchdogs say it is confusing and gives the appearance of impropriety. “I’ve never worried a whole lot about what people think,” Hager said. “It’s the actuality of the law that we’re complying with. That’s the only issue I have.”

Pennsylvania: Convicted Ex-Lawmakers Enjoy Access as Lobbyists
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review – Debra Erdley and Kevin Zwick | Published: 7/9/2017

Numerous former lawmakers, legislative staff, and cabinet officials in Washington, D.C., as well as state capitals across the country, have turned to lobbying. Pennsylvania requires a one-year waiting period before lawmakers and agency officials can begin lobbying former colleagues. A group of Pennsylvania lawmakers-turned-lobbyists spent the waiting period behind bars. They include former House Speakers John Perzel and Bill DeWeese, and Senate Majority Leader Joe Loeper – all of whom left office for prison after being convicted of abuses of power.

Texas: Dallas Wants $8,000 Back from Philip Kingston for Missing Too Many Council Meetings
Dallas News – Tristan Hallman | Published: 7/8/2017

Officials say city council member Philip Kingston owes Dallas taxpayers thousands of dollars. Chief Financial Officer Elizabeth Reich told Kingston in a memorandum that he missed too many meetings in the past 12 months and needs to pay the city back $8,160 of his $60,000 salary. But Kingston said he is disputing the city’s calculations and does not plan to return any money. The unusual quarrel and financial penalty stem from a city charter provision. If council members miss more than 10 percent of the total “regular meetings” in a compensation year, their pay is to be docked by the same percentage of meetings they missed.

Virginia: How a Shadowy Nonprofit Spent $184K in Virginia’s Governor’s Race with Almost Total Anonymity
Richmond Times-Dispatch – Graham Moomaw | Published: 7/7/2017

Virginians for a Better Future incorporated in Delaware as a social welfare organization two weeks before Virginia’s gubernatorial primaries, and then spent $184,000 on an advertising campaign to support Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam’s bid for the Democratic nomination and attack his opponent, Tom Perriello. The identity of the donor or donors behind the ad campaign might never be disclosed. Other states have taken steps to close reporting loopholes for 501(c)(4)s, but a bill to force social welfare groups to disclose their donors failed this year in the Virginia General Assembly.

 

State and Federal Communications produces a weekly summary of national news, offering more than 60 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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