June 16, 2017 •

News You Can Use Digest – June 16, 2017

 

 

 

Federal:

After the Shootings, Calls for Unity Amid Recriminations and Finger-Pointing
Washington Post – Dan Balz | Published: 6/14/2017

From President Trump to congressional leaders of both parties to ordinary citizens came calls for prayers for the victims of the shootings that left House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and four others wounded, praise for the Capitol Police officers who prevented an even worse tragedy and, above all, words of reconciliation and unity. But barely on the edges of those remarks was another round of recriminations and a renewed debate about what has brought the country to a point of such division, what is to blame for what happened on that baseball field, and what, if anything, can be done to lower temperatures for more than a few minutes.

D.C. and Maryland Sue President Trump, Alleging Breach of Constitutional Oath
Washington Post – Aaron Davis | Published: 6/12/2017

The attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit alleging foreign payments to President Trump’s businesses violated the U.S. Constitution. Trump already faces a similar lawsuit, but the case from two state attorneys general could stand a better chance in court as the first government action over allegations Trump violated the Constitution’s so-called emoluments clause, which bars him from accepting gifts from foreign governments without congressional approval, by maintaining ownership over his business empire despite ceding day-to-day control to his sons. The complaint opens uncharted legal territory. No state has accused a president of violating the emoluments clauses of the Constitution.

Lobbyists’ Foreign Agent Filing Raises Questions
BuzzFeed.com – John Hudson | Published: 6/12/2017

Mercury Public Affairs – which was recently forced, alongside former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, to disclose lobbying on behalf of political interests in Ukraine – filed a disclosure in February on behalf of the Libertas Foundation. The filing lists a contract for $15,000 a month for work related to “Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia and Greece.” But the filing does not list a foreign agent, one of the key purposes of a Foreign Agents Registration Act disclosure. In the form’s entry for “Name of Foreign Principal” the filing only lists Libertas, which was incorporated in August, just one day before Mercury filed documents with Congress declaring the lobbying work. Normally that space would be filled by the name of a foreign government or entity, not a New York-based organization.

Special Counsel Starts Investigating Trump for Possible Obstruction of Justice, Officials Say
Washington Post – Devlin Barrett, Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima, and Sari Horwitz | Published: 6/14/2017

What started as a probe of Russian interference of the 2016 election turned into a special counsel-led investigation of whether associated of Donald Trump colluded with Russia. Now the inquiry is reportedly examining whether Trump himself tried to obstruct justice. It was reported that the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller is seeking interviews with current and recently resigned top intelligence officials, including Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency head Mike Rogers. Questions have been raised about whether Trump sought their help in squelching the FBI investigation led by James Comey, whom Trump fired. Coats and Rogers declined to answer questions about their interactions with the president on the Russia subject during a recent Senate hearing.

From the States and Municipalities:

Arizona – What Happens When One of Your Financial Backers Is Indicted?
Arizona Republic – Ronald Hanson and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez | Published: 6/9/2017

The recent indictment of four political figures has forced an unwelcome decision on the numerous elected officials in Arizona they have lavished with campaign contributions over the years: what to do with the cash? So far their responses vary. Gov. Doug Ducey plans to keep nearly $14,000 in donations from those charged in the federal indictment alleging bribery intended to influence the Arizona Corporation Commission. Even as the governor sees no reason to distance himself from the situation, other elected officials said they plan to unload the money to avoid any “taint” from the felony case.

Florida – It’s the End for the Miami Beach Mystery PAC – a Political Whodunit
Miami Herald – Nicholas Nehamas and Joey Flechas | Published: 6/10/2017

A political committee raising funds from special interests will shut down and return its money to donors after being linked to Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Grieco. Since January, Grieco, a candidate for mayor, has offered shifting stories to explain his connection to People for Better Leaders, a PAC that raised $200,000 from local vendors, lobbyists, and developers. Raising special-interest money for PACs is a controversial, and potentially illegal, campaign tactic in Miami Beach, which has stricter campaign finance and ethics laws than the rest of Miami-Dade County. A law passed in 2016 prevents candidates and elected officials, and those acting on their behalf, from soliciting vendors and lobbyists to donate to PACs.

Illinois – Ethics Board Finds Two More Lobbying Violations Tied to Emanuel Emails
Chicago Tribune – Bill Ruthhart | Published: 6/13/2017

The Chicago Board of Ethics found two individuals violated the law by seeking to influence City Hall action without registering as a lobbyist. The new violations come as the ethics board has seen a sharp increase in potential cases after a Chicago Tribune report found Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s personal email accounts have served as a private avenue for lobbyists, corporate executives, and campaign donors who sought action from – or access to – the mayor. The board has determined probable cause for at least 12 other possible lobbying violations, and its review of those cases is ongoing. While the ethics board will notify the two violators, it has yet to make a final determination on how much they will be fined.

Michigan – How Bingo Games Led to $500K Fine for Mich. Democratic Party
USA Today – Kathleen Gray (Detroit Free Press) | Published: 6/9/2017

The Michigan Democratic Party agreed to pay a $500,000 fine after the FEC concluded the party under-reported cash contributions at past bingo fundraisers by $4.4 million and violated several campaign finance laws. The party inaccurately reported approximately 12,500 contributions from the game-of-chance fundraisers, which it had operated over nearly 14 years but shut down three years ago. The civil fine is among the largest ever levied by the FEC.

New Mexico – Secretary of State Planning New Campaign Funding Rules
Albuquerque Journal – Dan Boyd | Published: 6/14/2017

New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver is proposing changes to campaign finance reporting rules for candidates and committees designed to provide more detailed and accurate disclosures of political contributions. Toulouse Oliver published proposed rules that address contributions to political committees that both coordinate with candidates and operate independently. Three public hearings on the rules will be held during July at Albuquerque, Las Cruces, and Santa Fe. The draft rules follow in the footsteps of legislation vetoed by Gov. Susana Martinez that would have made more information available about unlimited independent political donations.

New York – Uber Reaches $98K Settlement Over Millions in Unreported Lobbying
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 6/8/2017

Uber was fined $98,000 by the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics for underreporting about $6.3 million in lobbying spending. The fine covers activities in 2015 and 2016 when Uber successfully battled New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s attempt to limit its service in the city and pushed to expand upstate. The settlement says most of the underreporting was due to an oversight by a compliance firm that Uber used. Uber has been one of the top spenders on lobbying in recent years as it fought to operate across the state.

Ohio – Ohio Lobbyists Fail to Report $55,000 in Legislative Gifts for First 4 Months of 2017
Cleveland Plain Dealer – Jane Morice | Published: 6/7/2017

Lobbyists in Ohio failed to report about $55,000 in gifts, meals, and beverages for lawmakers during the first four months of this year, said a report from the legislative inspector general. The office follows statehouse calendars, social media, reservations, and tips to keep track of lobbying activity and compares it to submitted reports, Inspector General Tony Bledsoe said. All meals and beverages of any cost and all gifts of more than $25 must be reported.

Oklahoma – Oklahoma Ethics Commission Hikes Fee $50 on All Filers
NonDoc.com – William Savage III | Published: 6/8/2017

The Oklahoma Ethics Commission has raised the fees it charges. State party committees, PACs, campaign committees, lobbyists, the principals who hire lobbyists, state agencies, and their legislative liaisons will all pay $50 more for filing annual registrations with the commission. The fee hike will take effect on July 1 and is expected to generate enough to cover the cost of new software.

Pennsylvania – Ex-Pa. Treasurer Pleads Guilty to Lying to the FBI
Philadelphia Inquirer – Angela Couloumbis | Published: 6/9/2017

Former Pennsylvania Treasurer Barbara Hafer pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about whether an investment adviser funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to her after she left office. The maximum possible sentence for the felony offense is five years and a $250,000 fine. Federal prosecutors said Hafer denied in 2016 that she received money from asset manager Richard Ireland shortly after her term as treasurer ended in early 2005. In fact, a company tied to him had funneled $675,000 to her new company, Hafer and Associates, between 2005 and 2007, prosecutors said. Hafer is the second ex-state treasurer in three years to plead guilty to federal charges.

Vermont – Scott Calls New Ethics Law a Step to Restore Trust in Government
VTDigger.org – Dan Schwartz | Published: 6/14/2017

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott has signed into law a bill establishing a state ethics commission. The measure creates a five-member panel that reviews cases of unethical behavior. The commission would then have the power to send cases to the state attorney general’s office. The law also requires lawmakers to disclose sources of income above $5,000. Before the bill became law, Vermont was among five states without an ethics commission or code of conduct in state law for public officials.

Wisconsin – Supreme Court Could Tackle Partisan Gerrymandering in Watershed Case
Washington Post – Robert Barnes | Published: 6/11/2017

The U.S. Supreme Court is being asked to uphold a lower court’s finding that the Wisconsin redistricting effort in 2011 was more than just extraordinary, it was unconstitutional. Such a conclusion would mark a watershed moment for the way American elections are conducted. The Supreme Court has regularly tossed out state electoral maps because they have been gerrymandered to reduce the influence of racial minorities by depressing the impact of their votes. But the justices have never found a plan unconstitutional because of partisan gerrymandering – when a majority party draws the state’s electoral districts to give such an advantage to its candidates that it dilutes the votes of those supporting the other party.

 

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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