May 13, 2016 •

News You Can Use Digest – May 13, 2016

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National:

Conservatives Accuse Facebook of Political Bias
New York Times – John Hermann and Mike Isaac | Published: 5/9/2016

Facebook denied allegations from former workers who said the social media site suppressed news about conservative issues on its popular “trending” news feature. The website Gizmodo published a report that included allegations from unnamed former Facebook “news curators” who said employees prevented stories about the Conservative Political Action Conference, as well as stories about Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, and other conservative issues from appearing in the section, “even though they were organically trending among the site’s users.” The back-and-forth highlights the extent to which Facebook has now muscled its way into America’s political conversation, and the risks the company faces as it becomes a central force in news production and consumption.

Lobbying Groups Descend on Battleground States
The Hill – Megan Wilson | Published: 5/11/2016

With few chances left for face-to-face advocacy in Washington, D.C. as federal lawmakers campaign for re-election, lobbyists are turning to their election-year playbook, which includes heavy spending on targeted advertising in battleground states. Those efforts are more important than ever before, lobbyists say, due to the unpredictability of a presidential race featuring presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump. “[State-level advocacy is] a time-honored tradition, and this is the usual time, but there is still so much uncertainty,” said Bruce Haynes, a founding partner at Purple Strategies. “You may need more allies than you’ve ever had when you just don’t know which way the wind is going to blow.”

Women’s Rising Influence in Politics, Tinted Green
New York Times – Nicholas Confessore | Published: 5/7/2016

Female campaign donors in both parties have described cultural and economic changes that were driving their increased participation in political giving, long among the most exclusive men’s clubs in American culture. More women are founding their own companies or rising to lead family businesses, or have already sold or retired from them, a common springboard to the upper reaches of campaign fundraising. Within marriages, they said, women now had more authority to steer family decisions about political contributions. The increase is especially pronounced on the left, with the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton galvanizing female donors.

Federal:

Hillary Clinton, the First ‘E.T. Candidate,’ Has U.F.O. Fans in Thrall
New York Times – Amy Chozick | Published: 5/10/2016

Known for her grasp of policy details, Hillary Clinton has spoken at length in her presidential campaign on topics ranging from Alzheimer’s research to military tensions in the South China Sea. But it is her unusual knowledge about extraterrestrials that has struck a small but committed cohort of voters. Clinton has vowed that barring any threats to national security, she would open up government files on the subject, a shift from President Obama, who typically dismisses the topic as a joke. Her position has elated UFO enthusiasts, who have declared Clinton the first “E.T. candidate.”

Lobbyists Struggle with Trump Reality
The Hill – Megan Wilson | Published: 5/6/2016

Republican lobbyists in Washington, D.C. are struggling to come to grips with the possibility of a Donald Trump presidency. Much of the GOP crowd on K Street – lobbyists, consultants, and public relations operatives – built their careers working for so-called establishment politicians. Some who spoke with The Hill mentioned that many lobbyists uneasy about whether to support Trump will just shift back to what they know: Congress. Deciding not to participate in the White House race could free up extra resources to ensure Republicans stay in control of the House and Senate, as the party is set to have to defend a large number of seats in the upper chamber. “K Street is worried about the dominos falling below the presidential race,” said Tom Korologos, a strategic advisor for DLA Piper.

From the States and Municipalities:

Alabama – Chief Justice’s Suspension Adds to Alabama’s Political Mess
Santa Cruz Sentinel – Jay Reeves (Associated Press) | Published: 5/7/2016

Three top elected officials in Alabama are embroiled in scandal or facing removal from office while a former governor serves time in federal prison on a corruption conviction. State Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore was suspended from his job and faces possible ouster over his attempts to block gay marriage following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that effectively legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. Fellow Republicans tried to remove Gov. Robert Bentley by impeachment over a sexually charged scandal involving a top political aide, and an investigation continues. House Speaker Mike Hubbard awaits a state trial on 23 felony ethics counts. If convicted, Hubbard could join imprisoned former Gov. Don Siegelman, who was convicted on federal influence-peddling charges.

Arizona – Legislature Approves Bills Amending Campaign Finance Laws
ABC15; Associated Press –   | Published: 5/7/2016

The Arizona Legislature adopted a measure to reinsert criminal penalties that were left out of a sweeping campaign finance bill that was signed by the governor. Among the changes are provisions that make it illegal for individuals to contribute in the name of another person and prevent candidates from donating to one another. House Bill 2297 now moves to the governor’s desk beside a second measure that borrowed language from the same campaign finance rewrite to relax rules on anonymous political spending ahead of the August primary election. The amendment on House Bill 2296 cedes regulation of “dark money” and other nonprofit groups to the IRS, essentially doubling the amount these groups can spend on ballot measures.

California – California Senate Suspends Lobbyist Fundraising Restrictions
Monterey County Herald – Jonathan Cooper (Associated Press) | Published: 5/12/2016

The California Senate voted to remove a fundraising blackout period instituted in the wake of a corruption scandal two years ago. The Senate reversed the ban on members raising money from lobbyist employers during final budget negotiations and the last month of session, a time when lawmakers are typically voting on hundreds of bills. Because the restrictions were only in the Senate’s internal rules, not state law, they are not subject to approval by the Assembly or the governor and take effect immediately.

Kentucky – Kentucky’s Two Most Recent Governors Are Feuding, and It’s Ugly and Very Public, Too
U.S. News & World Report – Adam Beam (Associated Press) | Published: 5/10/2016

While peaceful transitions of power are a longstanding U.S. tradition, the handoff in Kentucky from Steve Beshear to Matt Bevin has been ugly. The spat has intensified so much that Beshear has taken the extraordinary step of starting a nonprofit group that is paying for ads critical of Bevin and his policies. Bevin, in turn, has launched an investigation of the Beshear administration, using a state law granting him subpoena power and public money to hire a private law firm to determine if the ex-governor violated state ethics and procurement laws.

Missouri – Missouri House and Senate Can’t Agree on Banning Lobbyist Gifts
Kansas City Star – Jason Hancock | Published: 5/12/2016

A compromise that would ban gifts to Missouri lawmakers except for lobbyist-funded meals – which would be capped at $40 a day, per lobbyist – got bogged down in the state Senate. But even though the 2016 legislative session ends May 13 at six p.m., the House is not ready to give up the fight. Republicans in that chamber plan to attach a lobbyist gift ban as an amendment to numerous Senate bills in an effort to force senators to deal with the issue.

New York – Dean Skelos Is Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison in Corruption Case
New York Times – Benjamin Weiser and Vivian Yee | Published: 5/12/2016

Former New York Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos was sentenced to five years in prison, making him the second former state lawmaker in recent days to be given time behind bars for public corruption. The judge also sentenced his son, Adam Skelos, to six-and-one-half years in prison following their convictions on charges of extortion, fraud, and bribe solicitation. Prosecutors said Dean Skelos used his public position to obtain jobs and payments for his son with companies that had business before the state. Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was sentenced to 12 years in prison in a separate corruption case. The sentences conclude an extraordinary chapter during which two trials held a block apart at almost the same time exposed a culture of kickbacks and secret deals in Albany.

Pennsylvania – Behind the Scenes of an Intricate FBI Sting
Philadelphia Inquirer – Mark Fazlollah, Craig McCoy, and Angeles Couloumbis | Published: 5/7/2016

Records and interviews suggest the FBI sting that ensnared lobbyist John Estey could become the most complex and far-reaching corruption investigation in Harrisburg in a decade. Along with Estey, the probe already trapped former state Treasurer Rob McCord, who has agreed to cooperate in return for leniency and secretly recorded his conversations, according to sources. Federal prosecutors have declined to discuss details of an investigation they only broadly describe as focused on “lobbying in the Pennsylvania General Assembly.”

South Carolina – State Lawmaker Lived at Contributor’s Half-Million-Dollar Property, Ducks Questions
Charleston Post & Courier – David Slade | Published: 5/7/2016

South Carolina Rep. Brian White and his wife sold their modest ranch home for $150,000 and moved to a nearly 3,900-square-foot house more than seven acres with a pool. The $500,000 property was owned by Bradley and Brian Moorhouse, brothers who are both nursing home administrators for National Healthcare Corp., White’s largest corporate source of campaign donations. The White family lived there as tenants for at least five years, paying an undisclosed amount of rent while Brian White collected campaign donations from his landlords and executives with their company. During that time, White chaired a House subcommittee overseeing the state’s health care spending and policies, including those affecting the nursing home industry.

Washington – ‘End Yourselves’: Councilwomen threatened after voting against Seattle’s NBA arena
Washington Post – Stephanie Kuzydym | Published: 5/11/2016

The five female members of the Seattle City Council who provided the votes to defeat a plan to build a new arena to lure a team from the National Basketball Association have received ugly hate mail and threats from disappointed sports fans. Councilperson Lorena González said her personal and private social-media accounts and email were flooded with vitriolic messages. “What was concerning to me about this is I never came into this position with the expectation that I’d be told to kill myself or that I deserve sexual violence,” González said.

Wisconsin – Kevin Kennedy Stepping Down as Head of Embattled Elections, Ethics Board
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – Patrick Marley | Published: 5/10/2016

Wisconsin’s longtime chief elections official, Kevin Kennedy, is retiring on June 29. That is the day before the Government Accountability Board (GAB) he heads is scheduled to be dissolved and reconstituted as two separate commissions. Lawmakers created the GAB in response to a scandal in which lawmakers were convicted of campaigning using state resources. But Republicans came to despise the board, in large part because it participated in an investigation that looked into whether Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign collaborated with conservative groups. Lawmakers last year voted to disband the GAB.

Jim SedorState 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 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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