November 13, 2020 •

News You Can Use Digest – November 13, 2020

News You Can Use

National/Federal

Biden’s DOJ Must Determine Whether Trump Should Be Prosecuted
Bloomberg Law – David Yaffe-Bellany and Billy House | Published: 11/9/2020

Joe Biden won the presidency promising to bring Americans together. But now his administration is sure to come under pressure from some Democrats to risk exacerbating divisions by investigating and prosecuting President Trump. Although Biden has said prosecuting a former president would be a “very unusual thing and probably not very good for democracy,” he also vowed in an NPR interview in August that he would not “interfere with the Justice Department’s judgment of whether or not they think they should pursue the prosecution of anyone that they think has violated the law.”

Bipartisan Super PAC Protest Gives Up the Ghost at High Court
Courthouse News Service – Jack Rodgers | Published: 11/9/2020

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a lawsuit from congressional Democrats challenging the legality of super PACs, which can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money in support of candidates. The lawmakers’ case challenged an appeals court decision from 2010 that eliminated any financial contribution limits to PACs that are not affiliated with a candidate or party. They argued there is little sense in capping individual contributions to candidates while allowing independent groups to raise as much as they want in support of candidates.

Echoing Trump, Congressional Candidates Refuse to Concede, Make Unproven Fraud Claims
MSN – Teo Armus (Washington Post) | Published: 11/10/2020

Errol Webber was never expected to have much of a chance at winning his race for Congress. The Republican had challenged a popular incumbent, U.S. Rep. Karen Bass in a deep-blue swath of Los Angeles, so it was no surprise returns showed him losing by more than 72 percentage points. But that did not stop Webber from questioning the results in California’s 37th Congressional District. “I’m going to the Los Angeles County Registrar’s Office in Norwalk today to audit the vote counting procedures,” Webber wrote. As President Trump makes unfounded allegations of voting fraud and demands a recount in the presidential election, his rhetoric and unwillingness to concede appear to be trickling down the ballot.

Fighting Election Results, Trump Employs a New Weapon: The government
New York Times – Peter Baker and Lara Jakes | Published: 11/10/2020

President Trump, facing the prospect of leaving the White House in defeat, is harnessing the power of the federal government to resist the results of an election he lost, something that no sitting president has done in American history. The standoff left the U.S. in the position of the kind of country whose weak democratic processes it often criticizes. Rather than congratulating Biden and inviting him to the White House, as his predecessors traditionally have done after an election changed party control, Trump has been marshaling his administration and pressuring his Republican allies into acting as if the outcome were still uncertain, either out of faint hope of actually overturning the results or at least creating a narrative to explain his loss.

Growing Discomfort at Law Firms Representing Trump in Election Lawsuits
New York Times – Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Rachel Abrams, and David Enrich | Published: 11/9/2020

Jones Day is the most prominent firm representing President Trump and the Republican Party as they prepare to wage a legal war challenging the results of the election. The work is intensifying concerns inside the firm about the propriety and wisdom of working for Trump, according to lawyers at the firm. Some senior lawyers at Jones Day are worried it is advancing arguments that lack evidence and may be helping Trump and his allies undermine the integrity of American elections. At another large firm, Porter Wright Morris & Arthur, lawyers have held internal meetings to voice similar concerns about their firm’s election-related work for Trump and the GOP. At least one lawyer quit in protest.

Harris’ Husband, Doug Emhoff, Poised to Break Stereotypes
Associated Press News – Kathleen Roynane | Published: 11/11/2020

Doug Emhoff, the husband of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, will leave his private law practice by Inauguration Day to focus on his role at the White House. “We’ve been waiting for this sort of gender switch for decades now,” said Kim Nalder, a political science professor who has focused on women and gender. Emhoff’s decision to cut ties with DLA Piper also offered an early test of how a Biden administration would avoid potential ethical issues. While Emhoff is not a lobbyist, the firm has a large presence lobbying the federal government on behalf of clients including Comcast, Raytheon, and the government of Puerto Rico. He took a leave of absence from the firm in August when Biden chose Harris as his running mate.

Job-Seeking Trump Officials Likely to Get Chilly Reception on K Street
The Hill – Alex Gangitano | Published: 11/9/2020

White House aides and other administration officials looking to pivot to lobbying following President Trump’s defeat are likely to get a cool reception on K Street. Most lobbying firms are not eager to snatch up Trump staffers, since in the eyes of employers they carry more risk than reward, several veteran lobbyists said. The job market will be even more difficult for younger aides with little previous experience. One lobbyist said Trump aides need something other than the 45th president on their resumes.

K Street Not Waiting for Trump to Concede the Presidential Race
Roll Call – Kate Ackley | Published: 11/10/2020

Even as President Trump balked at conceding the election, lobbying interests that span the political and policy spectrum began to publicly congratulate President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as soon as The Associated Press and television networks projected their victory.  Not only that, business groups and other K Street interests have begun to reach out to the incoming Biden administration on policy and personnel matters, seeking to shape the agenda of the coming years. Still, even as the nation’s lobbying sector works to influence the incoming Biden administration, it is not clear how receptive the transition, or the new administration, might be to the perspectives of K Street.

Kamala Harris, Daughter of Jamaican and Indian Immigrants, Elected Nation’s First Female Vice President
MSN – Chelsea Janes (Washington Post) | Published: 11/7/2020

A vice president-elect stepped forward and, for the first time in American history, it was not a man. Kamala Harris, a daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants, is set to become the highest-ranking woman in the nation’s 244-year existence, as well as a high-profile representation of the country’s increasingly diverse composition. Harris’s victory comes 55 years after the Voting Rights Act abolished laws that disenfranchised Black Americans, 36 years after the first woman ran on a presidential ticket and four years after Democrats were devastated by the defeat of Hillary Clinton, the only woman to win the presidential nomination of a major party. Harris emerged in all white, a nod to the uniform of the suffragists who fought to enfranchise women 100 years ago, an embodiment of what was once just a dream for so many.

Less Travel, More Zoom: Some COVID-19 campaign changes may endure
Roll Call – Kate Ackley | Published: 11/9/2020

COVID-19 upended campaigning as we knew it: candidates, realizing it was taboo to cuddle babies or shake hands during a pandemic, moved to Zoom events to woo voters. Donors shifted from mingling at the hors d’oeuvres buffet to getting takeout and sipping cocktails in front of their screens. The rapid explosion in digital donating and get-out-the-vote efforts are likely to remain, particularly among Democratic candidates.  The ease of traversing the country from the comforts of home will be hard to give up entirely, even though candidates and consultants from both parties say they do still crave and will again embrace the in-person, human interaction of retail politics on the trail.

‘My Faith Is Shaken’: The QAnon conspiracy theory faces a post-Trump identity crisis
MSN – Drew Harwell and Craig Timberg (Washington Post) | Published: 11/10/2020

The “Q” of the infamous QAnon conspiracy theory has gone quiet before. But the abrupt lack of posts from Q since Election Day, which the anonymous figure had touted for months as a key moment of reckoning, has sparked speculation and alarm among the movement’s most ardent followers. President Trump’s election loss and the week-long disappearance of their unnamed prophet have wrenched some QAnon believers into a crisis of faith, with factions voicing unease about their future or rallying others to stay calm and “trust the plan.” Some QAnon proponents have begun to publicly grapple with reality and question whether the conspiracy theory is a hoax. “Have we all been conned?” one user wrote on 8kun.

Pressure Mounts on State Republicans as Lawsuits Challenging Election Results Founder
Washington Post – Elise Viebeck, Tom Hamburger, John Swain, and Emma Brown | Published: 11/11/2020

Pressure mounted on state and local officials in battleground states to accept claims of ballot-counting irregularities and voter fraud in the election despite a lack of evidence, as Republicans sought new ways to block certification of Joe Biden’s clear victory in the presidential race. The efforts in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Georgia these states – where Biden has won or is leading in the count – come as the Trump campaign struggles to amass genuine evidence of fraud that will pass muster in court. Republican lawsuits seeking to challenge the election results so far have foundered, and affidavits cited as proof of election fraud in cities such as Detroit have failed to substantiate serious claims that votes were counted illegally.

QAnon Goes to Washington: Two supporters win seats in Congress
Roll Call – Katherine Tully-McManus | Published: 11/5/2020

QAnon is heading to Congress, as Marjorie Taylor Greene, a supporter of the baseless and complicated pro-President Trump conspiracy theory, won a House seat in Georgia, and Lauren Boebert claimed a House seat in Colorado. While those wins are the first by Republican candidates who publicly backed the wide-ranging delusion centered on allegations of a “deep state’ undermining Trump and liberals trafficking children, they will join a GOP conference that may already host some “Q-curious” members.

Record Number of House GOP Women Just One of Many ‘Firsts’ for 117th Congress
Roll Call – Katherine Tully-McManus | Published: 11/12/2020

Republicans will have at least 26 women in the House, the most they have ever had and more than double what they have now, when the 117th Congress convenes in January. That figure, which grew by two when races in California and Texas were called for Michelle Steel and Beth Van Duyne, could still grow further, with GOP women leading in four of the 15 races still uncalled. The change to the gender composition of the House GOP is just one of many coming to the next Congress, which will also blaze trails on race, sexual orientation, and age.

‘Stop the Steal’ Supporters, Restrained by Facebook, Turn to Parler to Peddle False Election Claims
Boston Globe – Elizabeth Dwoskin and Rachel Lerman (Washington Post) | Published: 11/10/2020

As President Trump and his allies continue to contest Joe Biden’s victory, social media has become central to sustaining efforts to delegitimize the results. Yet those campaigns are resulting in the most high-stakes cat-and-mouse game for Facebook and other social media companies to date. The companies are banning groups and hashtags, altering search results, labeling posts, down-ranking problematic content, and implementing a host of measures to ward off misinformation. One sign of the impact of these actions is the renewed interest in Parler. The app has a free-speech doctrine and has become a haven for groups and individuals kicked off Facebook. Parlor now boasts 7.6 million user accounts compared with 4.5 million about a week ago, said Chief Operating Officer Jeffrey Wernick.

Trump Solicits ‘Election Defense’ Donations That Also Finance His New Leadership PAC
MSN – Michelle Ye Hee Lee (Washington Post) | Published: 11/11/2020

President Trump’s supporters have been peppered with texts and emails asking for donations to support legal battles contesting his loss to Joe Biden. But details in the fine print show a small portion of the contributions would go toward these “election defense” funds to support recounts and lawsuits in several swing states. The majority of each donation goes to a PAC called Save America, which Trump set up in recent days and will allow him to support candidates and maintain political influence in Washington even after leaving office. The so-called leadership PAC is a loosely regulated fundraising vehicle that allows current and former elected officials to raise and spend money to maintain relationships with donor and help their political allies.

Canada

Canada Chrystia Freeland’s Policy Adviser Agrees to Ethics Screen Related to Lobbyist Spouse
Globe and Mail – Bill Curry | Published: 11/10/2020

Canadian Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s policy director, Leslie Church, has agreed to an ethics screen to manage potential conflicts-of-interest involving Sheamus Murphy, her lobbyist husband, who regularly meets with senior federal officials on behalf of corporate clients. Murphy is a partner with the lobbying firm Counsel Public Affairs. Opposition Members of Parliament say they question why a screen is being applied only now, even though Church has worked for Liberal cabinet ministers since 2015. A spokesperson for Freeland said Church has been in regular contact with the ethics commissioner’s office since 2015 and has followed its advice.

From the States and Municipalities

Alabama Alabama Prosecutor Indicted on Ethics Charges, Free on Bond
Associated Press News – Staff | Published: 11/9/2020

An Alabama prosecutor was indicted on five felony charges of using his office for personal gain by allegedly using his position to benefit his family and conspiring to steal a pickup truck. Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes was charged with illegally hiring his three children to work for his office and paying private lawyers with public funds to settle a matter that helped him and his wife. He was also charged with issuing a subpoena to a company to gather evidence for his own potential defense. The state said Hughes allegedly tried to steal a 1985 Ford Ranger pickup truck from a business in neighboring Chambers County by hatching a plan to use a search warrant to make a business give up the vehicle.

Arizona Arizona’s Political Transformation Began Long Before Biden Was on the Ballot
MSN – Jose Del Real and Hannah Knowles (Washington Post) | Published: 11/7/2020

Arizona’s transformation from a onetime conservative stronghold to a swing state capable of deciding this year’s presidential election is the result of a decade of work by Mexican American activists, soaring demographic change, and the consolidation of independent voters behind Joe Biden. He was also buoyed by President Trump’s repeated attacks on the state’s late U.S. senator, John McCain, whose wife endorsed Biden, and by the strong and well-funded campaign of former astronaut Mark Kelly, a Democrat who won McCain’s old seat.

California Biden Win Sets Off Rush for Harris’ Senate Seat in California
Politico – Carla Marinucci | Published: 11/7/2020

Launching Kamala Harris into the White House as vice president come January has officially kicked off one of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s biggest political decisions: appointing California’s next U.S. senator. Many Newsom insiders insist the governor wants to make a historic choice, making Secretary of State Alex Padilla a leading contender. If picked, Padilla, a longtime Newsom supporter, would become the first Latino senator in the state’s 170-year history. The governor also has to contend with women’s groups who have also pressured him to fill Harris’ seat with another woman of color, putting U.S. Rep. Karen Bass, the head of the Congressional Black Caucus, high on the list.

California California Campaign Finance Complaints Rose Sharply in 2020
Los Angeles Times – Patrick McGreevy | Published: 11/6/2020

The California Fair Political Practices Commission saw a big jump in the number of complaints alleging campaign finance violations for the November election, even in comparison to the tumultuous 2016 presidential election year, and dozens of investigations are ongoing, officials say. The complaints allege violations of campaign laws regarding state and local elections, including whether campaigns properly reported contributions and how they were spent, as well as whether political ads included required disclosures, such as who paid for them. The turmoil over the contest between President Trump and Joe Biden has raised the political temperature for other contests as well, experts say.

California Man Who Conspired to Make Illegal Contributions to 2012 Mayoral Candidates Gets 1 Year in Prison
KSWB – City News Service | Published: 11/9/2020

A self-proclaimed “campaign guru,” who was previously convicted and sentenced for conspiring with a Mexican billionaire to make nearly $600,000 in illegal campaign contributions to a pair of 2012 San Diego mayoral candidates, was re-sentenced to one year in federal prison, after an appeals court invalidated one of his convictions. Ravneet Singh was convicted in 2016 of conspiring with Jose Susumo Azano and others to inject hundreds of thousands of dollars into the campaigns of Bonnie Dumanis and Bob Filner, even though Azano’s status as a foreign national made such contributions illegal. Singh was also fined $10,000.

Florida Plantation Mayor Was Hiding Public Records, Inspector General Says
South Florida Sun Sentinel – Wells Dusenbery | Published: 11/5/2020

Broward County’s inspector general concluded the mayor of one of Broward’s biggest cities broke the law with a range of violations from hiding public records to falsifying campaign finance documents. Plantation Mayor Lynn Stoner could face serious recourse, and potential charges, after an investigation uncovered numerous violations of open government and campaign finance laws. The inspector general said Stoner unlawfully overdrew her campaign account and then made an illegal, post-election loan to cover the overdraft. She later filed false campaign treasurer reports to cover up the overdraft and illegal contribution, according to the report.

Georgia How Stacey Abrams and Her Band of Believers Turned Georgia Blue
Politico – Maya King | Published: 11/8/2020

Those leading the effort to flip Georgia from red to blue – a group composed of Black female elected officials, voting rights advocates, and community organizers – understood why Democrats had often fallen short in the South the past decade. Topping the list of reasons: the region’s conservative bent, voter suppression tactics by the right, and the failure by Democrats to mount a sustained voter outreach program. Stacey Abrams’ close loss in Georgia’s gubernatorial election made clear to her and other liberals that demographic shifts had reached a tipping point. They argued Democrats could win more races by expanding their coalition to include disengaged voters of color, as opposed to continuing the focus on persuading undecided, moderate, often white voters.

Hawaii Ethics Complaint Filed After Honolulu Lobbyist Fails (Again) To Register
Honolulu Civil Beat – Anita Hofschneider | Published: 11/10/2020

David Arakawa is the executive director of the Land Use Research Foundation, a group that lobbies on behalf of landowners and developers in Hawaii. He has not registered to lobby City Hall despite advocating against recent legislative proposals to reshape Honolulu’s parking and urban-planning policies. Marti Townsend, who leads the Hawaii chapter of the environmental group Sierra Club, filed a complaint with the city ethics commission highlighting Arakawa’s failure to register to lobby. It was reported in 2018 that Arakawa failed to register as a lobbyist. After the story, he registered, but Arakawa’s name is also missing from Honolulu’s 2019 list of registered lobbyists. Despite registering in 2018, he does not appear to have filed a required annual report detailing his spending that year.

Illinois Election Fraud Allegations from 2016 Heard in Appellate Court as Federal Probe Swirls Around Democratic Boss Michael Madigan
Yahoo News – Jason Meisner (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 11/10/2020

The corruption investigation swirling around Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan bled into arguments before a federal appeals panel over a lawsuit alleging Madigan conspired to put up two “sham” candidates with Hispanic names to confuse voters in the 2016 Democratic primary. Lawyers for plaintiff Jason Gonzales were in court to argue the appeals court should overturn a lower court ruling which tossed out allegations of election fraud by Madigan’s political operation. The lead attorney for Gonzales, Anthony Peraica, used the ongoing criminal investigation to try to make his point, even though the alleged misconduct in the case before the panel took place years before the federal criminal probe came to light. The investigation is illustrative of how Madigan exercises control over the state’s politics to his own personal gain, Peraica argued.

Illinois Ethics Board Investigating Ald. Brookins’ Decision to Represent Former Ald. Moreno
WTTW – Heather Cherone | Published: 11/9/2020

Former Ald. Proco Joe Moreno, facing felony charges of obstruction of justice and insurance fraud, has a new lawyer – Ald. Howard Brookins, who is now under investigation himself. Brookins’ decision to represent his former colleague on the city council appears to have violated a ruling from the Chicago Board of Ethics that banned aldermen who are attorneys from defending clients in criminal cases involving the Police Department. Cook County prosecutors allege Moreno falsely claimed both to police and his insurance agency that his Audi A6 had been stolen out of his garage. But Moreno allegedly turned the vehicle and its keys over willingly only hours earlier to a woman he had previously dated.

Kansas ‘Hit’ Tweet Against Kansas Governor Has Dems Seeking Ouster
Associated Press News – John Hanna | Published: 11/5/2020

Aaron Coleman, a Democratic candidate who admitted to circulating revenge porn and was charged at the age of 14 with threatening to shoot a high school student, won a state House seat in Kansas, and party leaders promised to try to oust him after what they saw as a threat against the governor. A political operative provided The Associated Press with a screen shot of a tweet in which Coleman predicted Gov. Laura Kelly would face an “extremely bloody” Democratic primary in two years. “I’m not playing around,” Coleman wrote in the tweet. “People will realize one day when I call a hit out on you it’s real.”

Maryland Lobbyists Prepare for Challenges with Md. General Assembly as COVID-19 Pandemic Continues
WTOP – Josh Kurtz (Maryland Matters) | Published: 11/9/2020

For decades, legislative advocacy in Annapolis has looked largely the same: well-resourced entities sign up a plugged-in lobbyist – often an ex-legislator or top-ranking former government staffer – to plead their case, while nonprofits and activist groups rely as much on grassroots organizing or in-house lobbyists as on high-paid hired guns. But with the General Assembly’s presiding officers making public declarations in recent days about what the first full legislative session in the age of COVID-19 is going to look like when lawmakers return, advocates for corporate interests and activist groups alike are coming to grips with the idea their daily routines are going to change drastically, at least for the three-month session that will begin in January.

Massachusetts Quincy Firm Pays $250,000 to Settle Allegations of Illegal Campaign Donations
MSN – Shelley Murphy (Boston Globe) | Published: 11/9/2020

A real estate development firm was fined $250,000 after Massachusetts officials discovered it funneled company funds to employees and instructed them to make more than $57,000 in illegal contributions to the campaign finance accounts of city and state officials, including $10,000 to Gov. Charlie Baker. Since 2017, Boston Property Ventures President Richard McDonald padded the personal bank accounts of 16 employees with company funds and instructed them to make contributions to designated candidates, an investigation by the Office of Campaign and Political Finance found. It is the second-largest fine for campaign finance violations in state history and the second violation of this nature for Boston Property Ventures.

Missouri Former Missouri Lawmaker Admits Misusing Campaign Funds
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Robert Patrick | Published: 11/6/2020

Former Missouri Rep. Courtney Curtis could face at least a year in prison after admitting in court he used more than $47,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses. Curtis in 2016 and 2017 defrauded campaign donors by using their contributions for personal expenses, including for apartment rent, utilities, hotel, airfare, and travel expenses and to cover bills at restaurants and bars, Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal Goldsmith said. Curtis also made cash withdrawals and deposited campaign money into his personal bank account.

New Jersey Birdsall Exec Convicted in High-Profile Pay-to-Play Scheme Loses Professional Licenses
Newark Star Ledger – Samantha Marcus (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 11/10/2020

Two New Jersey professional boards stripped a former Birdsall Group executive of his professional licenses more than three years after he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 270 days in jail for funneling illegal campaign contributions to politicians. James Johnston was one of eight former executives, shareholders, and managers at the now-defunct firm who pleaded guilty. The firm, which received millions of dollars in government engineering contracts, went out of business after admitting it flouted state campaign finance laws. It was accused of funneling more than $1 million in corporate political contributions through employees to get around New Jersey’s “pay-to-play” law, which would have disqualified it from winning government contracts.

New York After Cuomo Book Approval, Rancor and Rebuke at Ethics Agency
Alton Telegraph – Chris Bragg (Albany Times Union) | Published: 11/11/2020

Before a deal was struck to publish “American Crisis,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s new best-selling book, the governor had to gain approval for the venture from the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE). Cuomo’s office has provided little information about that approval process but has noted on several occasions that JCOPE did approve the publishing deal. Yet two weeks after the book’s October release, a JCOPE member publicly questioned how much weight the agency’s opinions on such matters really carry, sparking an extraordinary response from Cuomo’s appointees on the panel.

New York N.Y.’s Green and Libertarian Political Parties in Peril as Working Families Party Avoids Disaster
New York Daily News – Denis Slattery | Published: 11/9/2020

The Green Party of New York is feeling blue but vowing to fight on after failing to get enough votes in the presidential election to remain on the ballot in the Empire State. An election law overhaul related to New York’s soon-to-be-implemented public matching funds program significantly increased the threshold needed for parties to retain their line on the state ballot, a blow to third parties. According to the new rules, a party must garner either 130,000 votes or two percent of the total votes cast, whichever is higher, to maintain its status. The Working Families Party and the Conservative Party were able to garner enough votes to retain their status by endorsing and running major party candidates on their lines.

Ohio FBI Arrests Cincinnati Councilman After Undercover Agents Reveal ‘Brazen’ Bribery Scheme, Feds Say
USA Today – Sharon Coolidge and Dan Horn (Cincinnati Enquirer) | Published: 11/10/2020

FBI agents arrested Cincinnati City Councilperson Jeff Pastor in what authorities describe as a brazen bribery scheme involving payoffs for help with city development projects. Federal prosecutors say Pastor, who joined the council in January 2018, began soliciting money from developers within months of taking office and, in some instances, accepted bags of cash in return for his vote or other favorable treatment. A friend of Pastor’s, Tyran Marshall, also faces federal charges and is accused of setting up a charitable nonprofit through which Pastor funneled bribes. U.S. Attorney David DeVillers said Pastor, who is accused of collecting $55,000 in bribes, at one point told undercover agents he should be paid $200,000 for his help.

Oklahoma Government Bodies to Resume In-Person Meetings, Spurring Coronavirus Concerns
The Oklahoman – Carmen Forman | Published: 11/10/2020

Government bodies in Oklahoma will return to meeting in person after a temporary law that allows for virtual meetings expires on November 15. Legislative leaders have no plans to call a special session to extend the deadline of a law that allows government bodies to meet entirely over videoconferencing or teleconferencing platforms. As COVID-19 started to take hold in Oklahoma, state lawmakers in March temporarily amended the state’s Open Meeting Act so elected officials and residents could virtually attend public meetings. But the law that will sunset, raising concerns about how in-person meetings could contribute to the spread of COVID-19.

South Dakota Noem’s Pitch to Aid Trump Seems to Benefit Own Campaign Fund
Associated Press News – Stephen Groves | Published: 11/10/2020

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has enthusiastically taken up President Trump’s efforts to contest the results of the presidential election, asking for online donations to “help us bring it home for the president,” but it appears the money is set to flow into her own reelection account. The website soliciting money allows donors to check the amount of their contribution and includes a box to cover a processing “so 100% of my donation goes to Kristi for Governor.” It is unlikely that much, if any, of the money will end up going to Trump, said Paul S. Ryan, vice president of policy and litigation at Common Cause. Ryan noted the governor can give a maximum of $2,800 to Trump’s campaign under federal law. If she wanted more to flow to Trump, she could have directed donors to the president’s own donation site.

Texas AP Sources: Texas AG’s affair tied to criminal allegations
Associated Press News – Jake Bleiberg | Published: 11/5/2020

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton had an extramarital affair with a woman whom he later recommended for a job with the wealthy donor now at the center of criminal allegations against him, according to two people who said Paxton told them about the relationship. They said Paxton acknowledged the affair in 2018 to senior members of his office and political staff. Developer Nate Paul said in a deposition that Paxton recommended the woman for her job with Paul’s real estate company. The attorney general’s top deputies reported their boss to the FBI in September for alleged bribery, abuse of office, and other crimes Those allegations stem in part from Paxton’s decision to investigate Paul’s claims that a judge and the FBI broke the law in searches of his home and offices last year.

Texas Texas’ Patrick Offers Reward as Trump Makes Unfounded Claims
Associated Press News – Paul Weber | Published: 11/10/2020

Texas Lt. Gov Dan Patrick offered up to $1 million in defense of President Trump’s unsupported claims of irregularities in the presidential election, saying he would pay out rewards for information that leads to voter fraud arrests and convictions. The money put up by the lieutenant governor appeared to be a first among Republican officeholders who are backing Trump as he refuses to concede. A former chief Texas ethics regulator said paying out reward money, which would come from Patrick’s political campaign, could run afoul of federal campaign finance laws.

Washington Appeals Court Upholds $18M Campaign Finance Fine
Associated Press News – Staff | Published: 11/11/2020

The Washington State Court of Appeals affirmed $18 million penalty imposed against the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) for violating campaign finance laws during a 2013 battle over a ballot initiative that would have required labeling ingredients with genetically modified organisms on all packaged food products. The court found the GMA violations “represented an intentional attempt to conceal the identity of companies donating millions of dollars in a contentious ballot campaign.” The GMA spent more than $11?million to defeat the initiative. But its contributions were disclosed only as coming from the association, not the companies that bankrolled the effort, such as PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Nestle, and General Mills.

November 30, 2020 •

Monday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance Pennsylvania: “Pittsburgh Looks to Tighten Campaign Finance Reports for PACs, Independent Expenditures” by Ashley Murray for Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Elections National: “Wisconsin Recount Confirms Biden’s Win Over Trump, Cementing the President’s Failure to Change the Election Results” by Rosalind […]

Campaign Finance

Pennsylvania: “Pittsburgh Looks to Tighten Campaign Finance Reports for PACs, Independent Expenditures” by Ashley Murray for Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Elections

National: “Wisconsin Recount Confirms Biden’s Win Over Trump, Cementing the President’s Failure to Change the Election Results” by Rosalind Helderman and Amy Gardner (Washington Post) for MSN

Ethics

National: “NRA Reports Alleged Misspending by Current and Former Executives to IRS” by Beth Reinhard and Carol Leonning (Washington Post) for MSN

National: “Trump Pardons Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Who Pleaded Guilty to Lying to the FBI” by Rosalind Helserman and Josh Dawsey for Washington Post

Delaware: “Wilmington Councilman Rebuked: ‘City employees must not be threatened for doing their jobs’” by Jeanne Kuang for Wilmington News Journal

Illinois: “City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin Denies Wrongly Firing Chief of Staff, Other Employees” by Gregory Pratt for Chicago Tribune

Illinois: “New Cache of ComEd Documents Shows Indicted Madigan Confidant Pressing Utility for Jobs and Contracts” by Dan Petrella, Jamie Munks, and Ray Long (Chicago Tribune) for Yahoo News

Legislative Issues

Virginia: “As Virginia Democrats Rein Themselves In with Bill Limits, Some Legislators See Lost Opportunities” by Laura Vozzella for Washington Post

Lobbying

Ohio: “Bankruptcy Judge Orders Lobbyists to Testify About Any Ties to Householder Bribery Case” by Jim Mackinnon for Akron Beacon Journal

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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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