May 15, 2020 •

News You Can Use Digest – May 15, 2020

News You Can Use

National/Federal

Biden Plans to Stay Home, Testing Limits of Virtual Campaign
AP News – Bill Barrow and Steve Peoples | Published: 5/12/2020

Joe Biden has no foreseeable plans to resume in-person campaigning amid a pandemic that is testing whether a national presidential election can be won by a candidate communicating almost entirely from home. The virtual campaign Biden is waging from Wilmington, Delaware, is a stark contrast with President Trump, who is planning travel despite warnings from public health experts about the coronavirus’s spread. It also intensifies the spotlight on how Biden will manage his campaign, with some in his party fretting his still-developing approach is not reaching enough voters.

Court Asks Retired Judge to Oppose Justice Dept. Effort to Drop Michael Flynn Case, Examine Whether Ex-Trump Adviser Committed Perjury
Washington Post – Spencer Hsu, Matt Zapotosky, and Devlin Barrett | Published: 5/13/2020

Michael Flynn’s sentencing judge asked a former federal judge to oppose the Justice Department’s request to dismiss the former Trump national security adviser’s guilty plea and examine whether Flynn may have committed perjury. U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan’s requested a nonbinding recommendation on whether Flynn should face a criminal contempt hearing for pleading guilty to a crime of which he now claims to be innocent: lying to the FBI in a January 2017 interview about his contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the United States.

Democratic Party Moves Toward Remote Voting for Its Summer Presidential Convention
MSN – Michael Scherer (Washington Post) | Published: 5/12/2020

The Democratic Party opened the door to remote delegate voting for its summer presidential convention, a clear indication the party is moving toward either a scaled-back event or a virtual gathering in August as the coronavirus threat continues to transform the election year. With a vote of the rules and bylaws committee, Democratic National Committee (DNC) leaders agreed to give convention planners broad flexibility to change the structure and tradition of the nominating convention. The proposal passed unanimously, and it will be taken up in the coming weeks for ratification by a vote by mail of the full DNC.

Democrats Accuse Conservatives of a ‘Dark Money’ Bid to Influence Judges
New York Times – Ben Protess and Rebecca Ruiz | Published: 5/12/2020

Some top Democratic senators accused the Federalist Society of supporting a conservative “dark money” campaign to influence the federal judiciary, including who gets selected to become a judge and how he or she rules once on the bench. In a sharply worded letter, the senators said they supported a proposal by a judicial ethics panel that would ban membership among judges in the conservative legal group. The Federalist Society has been instrumental in identifying judicial nominees with legal careers focused on causes that have appealed to Republicans, such as opposition to gay marriage and to government funding for abortion.

Ethics Committee Sitting on Alleged Misconduct Report Due to COVID-19
Roll Call – Chris Marquette | Published: 5/12/2020

The House Committee on Ethics is unable to vote because of the coronavirus pandemic, an impediment that is restricting action on alleged lawmaker misconduct. Until its members can physically reconvene to vote, the ethics panel cannot issue a subpoena, empanel an investigative subcommittee, nor discipline members for conduct unbecoming of the chamber. These actions all require an affirmative vote of a majority of committee members. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy that ethics committee work should be done in-person and not use technology, like Zoom, because the material is so sensitive and open to cybersecurity breaches.

Federal Watchdog Backs Reinstating Ousted Vaccine Expert
Politico – Sarah Owermohle | Published: 5/8/2020

A federal watchdog is recommending that ousted vaccine expert Rick Bright be reinstated while it investigates whether the Trump administration retaliated against his whistleblower complaints when it removed him from a key post overseeing the coronavirus response, Bright’s lawyers said Friday.  The Office of Special Counsel is recommending that Bright be temporarily reinstated for 45 days as director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, a multibillion-dollar agency that funds companies to develop tests, treatments and vaccines.

Federal Watchdog to Examine Official’s Role in Tribal Fund Distribution
New York Times – Emily Cochrane and Mark Walker | Published: 5/11/2020

A federal watchdog is investigating whether a top Interior Department official – Tara Sweeney, the assistant secretary for Indian Affairs – violated ethics rules when she helped decide how a critical portion of funds for Native American tribes in the $2.2 trillion stimulus law should be distributed. Several tribal governments are suing the federal government over its decision to allow Alaska Native corporations, for-profit businesses that support tribal villages in Alaska, to receive a portion of the $8 billion set aside for tribes. Lawmakers have raised concerns about Sweeney’s involvement in that decision, given she is a shareholder in the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, the wealthiest of the Alaska Native corporations.

House Democrat Reintroduces Bill to Reduce Lobbyist Influence
The Hill – Alex Gangitano | Published: 5/11/2020

U,S, Rep. Jimmy Gomez reintroduced a bill to reduce the influence of lobbyists and to close the so-called revolving door. The Executive Branch Conflict of Interest Act, would, among other provisions, prohibit former officials who oversaw federal contracts from joining private sector contracting firms and ban senior government officials from lobbying the agencies they worked for two years after leaving the federal government.

House Democrats’ Relief Package Would Give Washington Lobbying Giants Access to Small Business Aid
Center for Responsive Politics – Karl Evers-Hillstrom | Published: 5/13/2020

House Democrats’ newest coronavirus relief proposal would allow influential Washington lobbying groups to access forgivable small business loans.  The bill would provide nearly $1 trillion in relief to states, cities, and tribal governments and authorize a second round of direct payments to American families. Buried in the 1,815-page bill is a provision that allows trade associations, unions, and 501(c)(4)s, not just charities, to access coveted small business loans. The legislation sets aside a portion of small business loans specifically for nonprofits with 500 or fewer employees. The Democratic Policy Center found that over 99 percent of trade associations and chambers of commerce have fewer than 500 employees.

Justice Dept. Moves to Drop Case Against Michael Flynn
Washington Post – Spencer Hsu, Devlin Barrett, and Matt Zapotosky | Published: 5/7/2020

The U.S.  Justice Department said it is dropping the criminal case against President Donald Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, abandoning a prosecution that became a rallying cry for the president and his supporters in attacking the FBI’s Russia investigation. The action was a stunning reversal for one of the signature cases brought by special counsel Robert Mueller. It comes even though prosecutors have maintained Flynn lied to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. Flynn himself admitted as much, pleading guilty before asking to withdraw the plea, and became a key cooperator for Mueller as the special counsel investigated ties between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign.

Justices Fear ‘Chaos’ If States Can’t Bind Electors’ Votes
AP News – Mark Sherman | Published: 5/13/2020

U.S. Supreme Court justices invoked fears of bribery and chaos to suggest they think states can require presidential electors to back their states’ popular vote winner in the Electoral College. The justices heard arguments on an unusual voting issue that could have important consequences for the 2020 presidential election in an era of intense political polarization. So-called faithless electors have not been critical to the outcome of a presidential election, but that could change in a contest with a razor-thin margin.

On the Same Day Sen. Richard Burr Dumped Stock, So Did His Brother-in-Law. Then the Market Crashed.
ProPublica – Robert Faturechi and Derek Willis | Published: 5/6/2020

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr was not the only member of his family to sell off a significant portion of his stock holdings in February, ahead of the market crash spurred by coronavirus fears. On the same day Burr sold, his brother-in-law, Gerald Fauth, also dumped tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of shares. In 2017, President Trump appointed Fauth to the three-person panel of the National Mediation Board. Fauth avoided between $37,000 and $118,000 in losses by selling off when he did, considering how steeply the companies’ shares fell in recent weeks.

Pence’s ‘Special Envoy’ in Foreign Aid Office Sparked an Ethics Complaint Just Weeks After He Started His Job
ProPublica – Yageneh Torbati | Published: 5/13/2020

In 2018, an incoming Trump political appointee and ally of Vice President Mike Pence made an unusual suggestion to a United Nations agency whose funding hinged on support from a skeptical Trump administration: he pitched them to do business with one of his private-sector clients. “Might merit your team’s consideration,” Max Primorac wrote in January, weeks before he formally started at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), where he would eventually become an adviser to Pence. The client pitch by an incoming official sparked a complaint a month later from an anonymous State Department official. The U.N. agency, the United Nations Development Program in Iraq, had by then received over $190 million in funding from USAID, the complaint said.

Senate Committee Advances Nomination of FEC Commissioner
Washington Post – Michelle Ye Hee Lee | Published: 5/7/2020

A U.S. Senate committee voted to advance President Trump’s nominee to fill a vacancy on the FEC, which would restore the agency’s ability to conduct official business. The Senate Rules and Administration Committee voted along party lines to nominate James Trainor III and move his nomination to the full Senate. The nomination of Trainor had been in limbo amid questions over his social media postings and a standstill among Senate leaders on the logistics of appointing commissioners. Government transparency groups widely oppose Trainor’s confirmation.

Skadden Said to Have Paid $11 Million to Settle Ukraine Dispute
MSN – Kenneth Vogel (New York Times) | Published: 5/10/2020

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom paid $11 million to avoid being sued by Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine’s former prime minister. The law firm paid the money after Tymoshenko accused it of writing a report that was used to help justify her imprisonment by a political rival, former Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych. The payments come after Skadden paid $4.6 million to settle an investigation by the Justice Department into whether its work for the Yanukovych government violated foreign lobbying laws. The firm subsequently revealed in it had been paid a total of more than $5.2 million for its work. One of the lawyers who assisted with the report, Alex van der Zwaan, admitted lying to federal investigators year about his communications related to the firm’s work for Yanukovych’s government.

States and Cities with Public Campaign Financing Lead on Paid Sick Leave Policies
Sludge – David Moore | Published: 5/9/2020

In Connecticut, a long-fought battle for paid sick leave resulted in the state becoming the first in the nation to pass a mandate in 2011. According to researchers who interviewed lawmakers and lobbyists, the state’s public financing program for governor and legislative campaigns was instrumental in electing officials who implemented paid sick leave policies. In several other states that have adopted paid sick leave policies, key players responsible for pushing the measures forward participated in the public financing system for their campaigns.

Supreme Court Hears Arguments on Releasing Trump’s Financial Records
MSN – Adam Liptak (New York Times) | Published: 5/12/2020

The very nature of the presidency was under scrutiny at the U.S. Supreme Court as the justices heard arguments on whether House committees and prosecutors may obtain troves of information about President Trump’s business affairs. The court’s ruling could require disclosure of information the president has gone to extraordinary lengths to protect. Or the justices could rule Trump’s financial affairs are not legitimate subjects of inquiry. But some of the justices’ questions raised a third possibility: that the court could return the cases to lower courts for reconsideration under stricter standards. That would have the incidental effect of deferring a final decision beyond the 2020 presidential election.

U.S. Judge Puts Justice Department’s Move to Drop Charges Against Michael Flynn on Hold
MSN – Spencer Hsu and Carol Leonnig (Washington Post) | Published: 5/12/2020

U.S. District Court Judge Emmitt Sullivan said he would allow interested parties to weigh in on Michael Flynn’s case, delaying the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) effort to drop the charges against the former national security adviser. The case was upended recently when the DOJ moved to dismiss its charge against Flynn for lying to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. in 2016. The attempt to dismiss the case prompted accusations the criminal justice system was caving to political pressure from the Trump administration. Legal experts said the order would permit requiring both sides to produce evidence and revisit the case for and against Flynn.

Canada

Canada Former Canadian Envoy to Washington Defends Work Pitching for Palantir
Politico – Andy Blatchford | Published: 5/7/2020

Canada’s former ambassador to the U.S., David MacNaughton, says has done nothing wrong in his senior role with the data-analytics firm Palantir amid questions about whether he has been lobbying the top ranks of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government. A member of Parliament is drafting a letter to the federal lobbying regulator following suggestions MacNaughton has been engaging Canadian officials on how Palantir can help with the Covid-19 response. MacNaughton became president of Palantir’s Canadian branch shortly after leaving his envoy’s post last summer. Neither MacNaughton nor Palantir are registered as lobbyists with the Canadian government and, as a former designated public office holder, he is subject to a five-year prohibition on lobbying activities.

Canada Illegal Lobbyist Donations Not Significant Enough to Warrant Prosecution: Report
Powder River Peak – Graeme Wood | Published: 5/12/2020

Lobbyists and others who violated the Elections Act by filing their company’s donations under their own name will face no consequences. The investigation began in March 2017 in the lead up to British Columbia’s provincial election. A Globe and Mail article spurred the probe by reporting how some lobbyists were donating in their own names but being compensated by their employer, which is illegal. Mitigating factors played a role where there were violations. For instance, police concluded “many of the lobbyists identified in the reports quickly filed corrections with Elections BC, confirming that donations made by corporations or union employees were in fact made by their employees.”

From the States and Municipalities

Arizona Arizona Supreme Court Rejects Bid by Groups to Gather Online Initiative Petition Signatures
MSN – Andrew Oxford (Arizona Republic) | Published: 5/13/2020

The Arizona Supreme Court will not let initiative campaigns collect signatures online to qualify for the ballot in November, a move several campaigns had urged as a public health precaution as the coronavirus pandemic upended the usual practices of circulating petitions in public places or door-to-door. The court rejected a request by four ballot measure campaigns to use the same website, known as E-Qual, that candidates for state offices use to get signatures for their nominating petitions.

California Desperate for Coronavirus Help, California Spending Billions on No-Bid Contracts with Little Accountability
Los Angeles Times – Melody Gutierrez, Adam Elmahrek, Ben Poston, and Kim Christensen | Published: 5/7/2020

In a frantic effort to secure face masks and respond to the coronavirus crisis, California has committed to spend more than $3.7 billion on no-bid contracts, scores of them with businesses that have no track record with the state. There have already been examples of questionable deals and alleged fraud across the country. Spending watchdogs acknowledge state governments are under immense pressure to secure medical supplies during times of crisis. But they caution that if officials do not adhere to accepted purchasing protocols, such as dealing only with companies that have direct lines to manufacturers and proven track records in government contracts, they could result in bad deals.

California L.A. City Hall Corruption: Consultant agrees to plead guilty in bribery scheme
Los Angeles Times – David Zahniser, Emily Alpert Reyes, and Joel Rubin | Published: 5/13/2020

A real estate consultant agreed to plead guilty to a racketeering charge in the ongoing federal “pay-to-play” corruption probe at Los Angeles City Hall. George Chiang will admit to playing a lead role in a scheme in which a Chinese real estate company allegedly bribed a Los Angeles City Council member in exchange for help on a major development project. Under the agreement, Chiang will fully cooperate in the government’s ongoing investigation into cash payments, air travel, free tickets, and other perks prosecutors say were provided to the council member and other city officials.

Florida In Florida, Felons Must Pay Court Debts Before They Can Vote. But with No System to Do So, Many Have Found It Impossible.
Washington Post – Amy Gardner and Lori Rozsa | Published: 5/13/2020

The promise of an amendment to Florida’s state constitution seemed huge when it was overwhelmingly approved in November 2018: as many as 1.5 million felons previously barred from casting ballots in the state would soon be able to vote. But Republican-backed legislation circumscribing the reach of Amendment 4 had made it virtually impossible for most felons to participate. The law requires felons to pay all court-related fines, fees, and restitution before registering to vote and to swear, under penalty of perjury, that the debts are paid. But a vast number of felons are too poor to pay their fines. And even if they can afford to do so, a patchy system of court records does not always allow them to know what they owe or whether they have paid.

Florida Lee County Sheriff’s Office Classified Retirement Event Expenses as ‘Career Development’ Training
Fort Myers News-Press – Devan Patel | Published: 5/13/2020

Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno and six high-ranking agency members spent thousands of taxpayer dollars earlier this year to attend the retirement celebration of Florida Highway Patrol Chief Derek Barrs, classifying their trip as a training course for “career development”” Between wages, per diems, transportation costs, and lodging, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office used more than $5,000 in public funds for its members to attend the event. Other than the two-hour celebration, no other training or educational purposes were noted or disclosed. Under Florida law, public funds must be spent for a public purpose with past advisory opinions stating expenditures need to be examined on a case-by-case basis.

Idaho Lobbying Disclosure Complaint Filed Against Ada GOP Chairman
KPVI – Thomas Plank (Idaho Press) | Published: 5/6/2020

Ada County Republican Party Chairperson Ryan Davidson, who is running for a seat on the county commission, is the target of a lobbying disclosure complaint filed with the Idaho Secretary of State’s office. The complaint alleges Davidson has breached a number of disclosure laws, including failing to report lobbying-related expenses for 2018 and for an $11,532 legislative event in 2019, as well as not registering as a lobbyist within 30 days after agreeing to work as one.

Illinois Judge Rejects Suit Over Ballot Obstacles for Constitutional Amendment
Peoria Journal Star – Rebecca Anzel (Capitol News Illinois) | Published: 5/9/2020

A judge ruled against an Illinois organization that claimed restrictions implemented to combat the coronavirus made it impossible to gather the necessary signatures to place a constitutional amendment on November’s general election ballot. The Committee for the Illinois Democracy Amendment is advocating for a constitutional change that would obligate the General Assembly to take roll call votes on bills proposing “stronger ethical standards for Illinois public officials.” It would also allow residents to propose related bills by submitting a petition with at least 100,000 signatures. The committee’s attorneys argued in a court document that social distancing and stay-at-home restrictions forced voters to weigh their health against their First Amendment rights.

Indiana Indiana Attorney General’s Law License Suspended for Groping
AP News – Tom Davies | Published: 5/11/2020

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill will have his law license suspended for 30 days over allegations he drunkenly groped a state lawmaker and three other women during a party, the state Supreme Court ruled. The decision said the state’s attorney disciplinary commission “proved by clear and convincing evidence that [Hill] committed the criminal act of battery.” But the court gave Hill a less serious punishment than a a suspension of at least 60 days recommended by a hearing officer for his actions during a party marking the end of the 2018 legislative session.

Kentucky Bill Banning Statehouse Sexual Harassment Fails to Pass, Again
WKYU – Ryland Barton | Published: 5/8/2020

The Kentucky Legislature again declined to pass a bill explicitly banning lawmakers from sexually harassing their employees during this year’s legislative session. The Legislature’s ethics rules do not currently ban sexual harassment, though lawmakers have been punished for harassing employees under a rule that bans misuse of their official positions. House Bill 168 would have defined sexual harassment as an ethical violation and created a process for the Legislative Ethics Commission to review sexual harassment complaints.

Maryland Super PAC Supporting Baltimore Mayoral Candidate Mary Miller Seeks to Win with White Votes in Majority-Black City
Baltimore Sun – Luke Broadwater | Published: 5/13/2020

A PAC supporting Baltimore mayoral candidate Mary Miller is seeking to win the race by attracting white voters in the majority-black city. In an email sent in recent weeks to potential donors, Martin Knott Jr., treasurer for the Citizens for Ethical Progressive Leadership PAC, laid out the group’s strategy: use negative campaigning to lure white voters away from two candidates regarded by some as Miller’s chief rivals for white voters, former Deputy Attorney General Thiru Vignarajah and city council President Brandon Scott. Miller is the only white candidate among the leading Democratic contenders. Baltimore’s population is about 63 percent black and 30 percent white.

Michigan Armed Militia Helped a Michigan Barbershop Open, a Coronavirus Defiance That Puts Republican Lawmakers in a Bind
MSN – Moriah Balingit (Washington Post) | Published: 5/12/2020

Members of a militia group, the Michigan Home Guard, stood watch over Karl Manke’s business in case the police came to shut him down. They were determined to reopen his barbershop in defiance of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders designed to fight the coronavirus outbreak in Michigan, one of the nation’s worst hot spots. Protests over Whitmer’s actions forced Michigan’s Republican lawmakers to strike a delicate balance. GOP lawmakers, who hold narrow margins in both the state House and Senate, have tried distancing themselves from the most vocal protesters while being careful not to appear to hew too closely to Whitmer’s shutdown policies.

Missouri Missouri Lawmakers Send New Redistricting Proposal to Voters
AP News – Summer Ballentine | Published: 5/13/2020

Missouri lawmakers sent a ballot proposal to voters asking them to reconsider their earlier backing of a redistricting system that stresses fairness and competitiveness over everything else. The new plan would ask voters later this year to make those the least important criteria, reversing key parts of the earlier ballot initiative. The proposal is backed largely by Republicans, who argue the 2018 ballot initiative deceptively packaged popular ethics reforms with a redistricting plan that they say will split up communities and lead to gerrymandering. Senate Joint Resolution 38 also includes ethics changes, including a total ban on lobbyist gifts to lawmakers and campaign contribution limits.

Missouri Probe into Roll Out of Missouri’s Medical Marijuana Expands
AP News – Staff | Published: 5/7/2020

A legislative probe into the roll out of Missouri’s medical marijuana program has expanded into Gov. Mike Parson’s office. A House panel is seeking records involving the governor’s deputy chief of staff, chief operating officer, and a longtime adviser to the governor who has been under FBI scrutiny. The House Special Committee on Government Oversight sent a letter to the Department of Health and Senior Services demanding records of interactions with industry insiders and details on how key decisions were made.

Nevada Las Vegas Mayor Faces Recall Effort Over Coronavirus Response
Las Vegas Review-Journal – Shea Johnson | Published: 5/6/2020

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman is facing a recall effort in the wake of her response to the coronavirus pandemic, including controversial comments she made recently on national television. Former professional poker player Doug Polk filed a notice of intent to circulate a recall petition with the city clerk’s office, the first step in seeking to oust a public official from their seat. From the start of the pandemic, the mayor has resisted measures to slow the spread of the virus. She said statewide business closures would be “total insanity.” But it was her appearances on national television in April that prompted the fiercest criticism.

New Jersey U.S. Supreme Court Throws Out Bridgegate Convictions, 6 Years After an Epic Traffic Jam
Newark Star Ledger – Ted Sherman (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 5/7/2020

The U.S. Supreme Court threw out the convictions of two government officials implicated in the 2013 Bridgegate scandal, in which then-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s allies schemed to punish a local mayor. The justices said in their unanimous decision that while the scheme involved deception and corruption, it did not violate federal law. The case centered around convictions of Bridget Anne Kelly, a former aide to Christie, and Bill Baroni, a former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey official, for their role in a scheme to close lanes on the George Washington Bridge to create traffic problems for the mayor of Fort Lee, who had refused to endorse Christie’s reelection. They were convicted of fraud for lying about a fake traffic study to justify the lane closures.

North Carolina The Southern Democrat with the Power to Shut Down Trump’s Convention
Politico – Maya King | Published: 5/8/2020

North Carolina’s Roy Cooper is a Democratic governor, up for reelection in a Republican-leaning Southern swing state, pushing a go-slow approach to reopening the economy as protests intensify and neighboring states move quicker. How the governor handles his state’s reopening will likely dictate whether President Trump and the Republican Party can forge ahead with a full-fledged convention in Charlotte this summer. Trump has been adamant about having a full-scale in-person convention, but as those plans forge ahead, Cooper will have to walk a fine line between protecting and alienating his constituents.

North Dakota North Dakota Governor Funds PAC Targeting Fellow Republican
AP News – James MacPherson | Published: 5/13/2020

North Dakota Gov. Burgum is helping bankroll a PAC that so far has set its sights on defeating one of the state’s most powerful legislators, a member of his own party. The move to campaign against House Appropriations Committee Chairperson Jeff Delzer in the June primary has drawn criticism that the first-term Republican governor and wealthy former software executive is crossing the separation-of-powers-line by reaching deep into his own pockets to buy a Legislature more obliging to his wishes. Political and election law experts say such a move by a governor to oust a member of his own party is unusual.

Rhode Island R.I. Ethics Panel Says Ex-IGT Chairman Had Nothing to Gain from Proposed Contract, Despite His 38,000 Shares
Providence Journal – Katherine Gregg | Published: 5/12/2020

A week after dismissing a complaint alleging unethically close ties between Gov. Gina Raimondo and former International Game Technology (IGT) chairperson-turned-lobbyist Donald Sweitzer, the Rhode Island Ethics Commission disclosed its reasoning. The complaint alleged Raimondo violated the state’s ethics code when she negotiated and promoted a stalled 20-year, no-bid extension of IGT’s contract that would potentially benefit a “business associate.” It was filed at a time when Raimondo chaired the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) and Sweitzer was the veteran Democratic fundraiser she chose as DGA treasurer. The commission decided neither had anything personal to gain from the contract extension.

South Carolina SC Statehouse Corruption Probe Has Concluded but Fight Over Its Methods Rages On
Charleston Post and Courier – Glenn Smith | Published: 5/13/2020

South Carolina’s long-running statehouse corruption probe has apparently run its course, with no new targets in the offing. But the special prosecutor leading the investigation is still taking on critics and defending his decision to allow companies to sidestep prosecution in return for financial payments. First Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe revealed the state grand jury last met on the case about a year ago. No more sessions or indictments are anticipated. The probe will conclude once pending cases are resolved in court, Pascoe said. He also challenged a state Supreme Court justice’s description of the probe as a “prosecutive mess.”

Wisconsin Wisconsin Supreme Court Strikes Down Wisconsin’s Stay-at-Home Order That Closed Businesses to Limit Spread of Coronavirus
MSN – Molly Beck and Patrick Marley (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) | Published: 5/13/2020

The Wisconsin Supreme Court sided with Republican legislators and struck down the decision by Gov. Tony Evers to extend a stay-at-home order intended to quell the spread of the coronavirus, marking the first time a statewide order of its kind has been knocked down by a court of last resort. The decision curbed the power of Evers’ administration to act unilaterally during public health emergencies. Although the opinion centered on the technical method by which the limits had been set, several conservative justices conveyed their dismay at the restrictions themselves.

June 3, 2020 •

Republican Convention Will Not Be Held in North Carolina

Governor Roy Cooper

N. Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper - by NCDOTcommunications

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.

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June 3, 2020 •

Kansas Lawmakers Return for Special Legislative Session

Kansas Capitol Building

Kansas Capitol Building

Kansas lawmakers are returning for a special legislative session June 3 after Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed COVID-19 legislation passed during the final day of session. Gov. Kelly called lawmakers back to create a new bill that redefines her emergency powers. […]

Kansas lawmakers are returning for a special legislative session June 3 after Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed COVID-19 legislation passed during the final day of session.

Gov. Kelly called lawmakers back to create a new bill that redefines her emergency powers.

The previous bill sought to curb Gov. Laura Kelly’s emergency powers and give the Legislative Coordinating Council appropriation power over the $1.25 billion in federal money allocated to Kansas in the CARES Act.

Gov. Kelly would also have been barred from issuing a new COVID-19 disaster declaration unless at least six members of the State Finance Council sign off on it.

There is no time limit on the special session, so the work is expected continue for as long as necessary.

This does not affect lobbyist reporting.

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June 3, 2020 •

Wednesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance Montana: “U.S. Supreme Court Won’t Hear Challenge to Montana Campaign Finance Law” by Holly Michels for Bozeman Daily Chronicle Pennsylvania: “Pa. Can’t Ban Everyone Involved in the Gaming Industry from Donating to Political Campaigns: U.S. court” by Matt […]

Campaign Finance

Montana: “U.S. Supreme Court Won’t Hear Challenge to Montana Campaign Finance Law” by Holly Michels for Bozeman Daily Chronicle

Pennsylvania: “Pa. Can’t Ban Everyone Involved in the Gaming Industry from Donating to Political Campaigns: U.S. court” by Matt Miller for PennLive.com

Elections

National: “As Trump Attacks Voting by Mail, GOP Builds 2020 Strategy Around Limiting Its Expansion” by Amy Gardner, Shawn Boberg, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) for MSN

Ethics

National: “Interior Watchdog: Agency official pressed EPA to hire relative” by Ben Lefebvre for Politico

National: “Judge Asks Court Not to ‘Short Circuit’ His Review of Flynn Case” by Charlie Savage for New York Times

California: “Lawyer at Center of Tax-Sharing Deals Being Probed on Ethics Law” by Laura Mahoney for Bloomberg Tax

Michigan: “Gov. Whitmer: I didn’t OK Dem firm for coronavirus project, despite emails” by Jonathan Oosting for Bridge Michigan

West Virginia: “This Billionaire Governor’s Been Sued Over Unpaid Bills. A Judge Just Ordered Him to Pay More.” by Ken Ward Jr, and Alex Mierjeski for ProPublica

Legislative Issues

National: “Lawmakers Have Been Sleeping in Their Capitol Offices for Years, Coronavirus Is Reviving a Push to End It” by Cristal Hayes for USA Today

Procurement

Florida: “Florida Demands State Vendors Identify Links with China” by John Haughey for The Center Square

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June 2, 2020 •

U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Hear Challenge to Campaign Finance Law

U.S. Supreme Court Building

United States Supreme Court Building

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up a case challenging a Montana disclosure law. Specifically, the law requires disclosure of spending for political ads within 60 days of an election. In August 2019, the 9th U.S Circuit […]

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up a case challenging a Montana disclosure law.

Specifically, the law requires disclosure of spending for political ads within 60 days of an election.

In August 2019, the 9th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Montana’s law requiring nonprofit groups running ads mentioning candidates, political parties or ballot issues in the 60 day window before an election to report any spending of $250 or more and disclose who funded their efforts.

This law is part of the state’s Disclosure Act, while the case was filed by the National Association of Gun Rights in 2016.

In their lawsuit, the group stated they were planning on sending mailers in Montana.

However, they would not report their donors or spending because it violated their constitutional rights of free speech.

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June 2, 2020 •

Tuesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance National: “Campaign Funds for Judges Warp Criminal Justice, Study Finds” by Adam Liptak for New York Times California: “More Costly Campaigns During COVID? Councilwoman Asks About Raising Contribution Limits” by Jason Ruiz for Long Beach Post Connecticut: “Jon […]

Campaign Finance

National: “Campaign Funds for Judges Warp Criminal Justice, Study Finds” by Adam Liptak for New York Times

California: “More Costly Campaigns During COVID? Councilwoman Asks About Raising Contribution Limits” by Jason Ruiz for Long Beach Post

Connecticut: “Jon Lender: Despite COVID-19, legislators and PACs still put the touch on lobbyists, others for contributions; but now the touch is virtual” by Jon Lender for Hartford Courant

Nevada: “Nev. Elections Office Reviewing MedMen Donation Allegations” by Michelle Price for AP News

Ethics

National: “Judge Sullivan’s Refusal to Immediately Dismiss Flynn’s Case Raises Novel Questions About the Limits of Judicial Power” by Ann Marimow for Washington Post

National: “Houston Rep. Dan Crenshaw’s Bestselling New Book Got Boost from Purchases by House GOP Campaign Arm” by Tom Benning for Dallas Morning News

Colorado: “Hickenlooper Subpoenaed to Testify Thursday About Private Flights” by Jason Wingerter for Denver Post

Michigan: “Bucci Pleads Guilty in Macomb Extortion Scandal” by Robert Snell for Detroit News

Mississippi: “Lt. Governor Withdraws Request for Ethics Decision Over Small Business Grants for Lawmakers” by Luke Ramseth for Jackson Clarion-Ledger

North Carolina: “Raleigh Mayor Now Working for Company That Got $6M City Contract. No Conflict, She Says.” by Anna Johnson for Raleigh News and Observer

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June 1, 2020 •

Newark, New Jersey Lawmakers Amend Pay-to-Play Laws

New Jersey Capitol Building

On May 20, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka signed Ordinance No. 20-0515 amending the city’s contractor pay-to-play laws to reflect state law. The ordinance removes Essex County political party committees, political committees and continuing political committees regularly engaging in the support […]

On May 20, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka signed Ordinance No. 20-0515 amending the city’s contractor pay-to-play laws to reflect state law.

The ordinance removes Essex County political party committees, political committees and continuing political committees regularly engaging in the support of candidates for Newark municipal offices or County of Essex offices from the definition of campaign committee.

Additionally, ordinance 20-0515 removed the monetary thresholds of $300 per calendar year and annual aggregate limit of $2,500 for all business entity contributions to covered Newark political recipients.

Under the ordinance, all contributions to covered recipients by a business entity submitting a proposal, in negotiations for, or in agreement with the city for services is prohibited during the term of the contract.

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June 1, 2020 •

Missouri Legislature Adjourns Sine Die

Missouri Capitol Building

The Second Regular Session of the 100th General Assembly adjourned sine die, officially ending the session, on May 27. Before adjourning lawmakers sent House Bill 1386 to the governor, modifying the definition of legislative lobbyist for purposes of lobbying laws. The […]

The Second Regular Session of the 100th General Assembly adjourned sine die, officially ending the session, on May 27.

Before adjourning lawmakers sent House Bill 1386 to the governor, modifying the definition of legislative lobbyist for purposes of lobbying laws.

The definition will exclude legislative liaisons, defined as any state employee hired to communicate with members of the General Assembly on behalf of any elected official of the state, the judicial branch of state government, or any department, agency, board, or commission of the state, provided such entity is a part of the executive branch of state government.

The Legislature also passed Senate Joint Resolution 0038, placing a constitutional amendment on the statewide ballot enacting a lobbyist gift ban.

Additionally it will reduce contribution limits made to or accepted by any candidate or committee from $2,500 to $2,000.

And finally it will repeal a redistricting plan enacted by voters in 2018.

The veto session is scheduled for September 16.

 

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June 1, 2020 •

U.S. Court of Appeals Permanently Enjoins PA Ban on Gaming Contributions

Cards, Chips and Dice

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit permanently enjoined the Commonwealth’s prohibition on political contributions from gaming-license applicants, licensees, and principals of licensees. Judge Richard Nygaard upheld the lower court’s conclusion and granted summary judgment in favor of […]

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit permanently enjoined the Commonwealth’s prohibition on political contributions from gaming-license applicants, licensees, and principals of licensees.

Judge Richard Nygaard upheld the lower court’s conclusion and granted summary judgment in favor of appellees Deon and Hardy.

Judge Nygaard found Section 1513 of the Gaming Act furthers a substantially important state interest in preventing quid pro quo corruption.

However, the restriction imposed on political contributions is unconstitutional because the Commonwealth did not closely draw the scheme to address the issue.

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