November 15, 2019 •

News You Can Use Digest – November 15, 2019

News You Can Use

National/Federal

A Court Rejects Trump’s Appeal in His Fight to Keep Financial Records from Congress
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Charlie Savage (New York Times) | Published: 11/13/2019

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia let stand an earlier ruling that President Trump’s accounting firm must turn over eight years of his financial records to Congress, bringing the case to the threshold of a likely U.S. Supreme Court battle. Lawyers representing Trump argued Congress had no legitimate legislative authority to seek his business records because the panel seeking them, the House Oversight and Reform Committee, was primarily trying to determine whether he broke existing laws, not weighing whether to enact a new one. Lawyers for House Democrats maintained it was within Congress’s constitutional authority to seek the records, both as a matter of oversight and as it considered whether new presidential ethics and financial disclosure laws are necessary.

After Push from Perry, Backers Got Huge Gas Deal in Ukraine
AP News – Desmond Butler, Michael Biesecker, Stephen Braun, and Richard Lardner | Published: 11/11/2019

Two political supporters of U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry secured a potentially lucrative oil and gas exploration deal from the Ukrainian government soon after Perry proposed one of the men as an adviser to the country’s new president. Perry’s efforts to influence Ukraine’s energy policy came earlier this year, just as President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s new government was seeking military aid from the U.S. to defend against Russian aggression and allies of President Trump were ramping up efforts to get the Ukrainians to investigate Joe Biden. Ukraine awarded the contract to Perry’s supporters little more than a month after the. energy secretary attended Zelenskiy’s May inauguration. In a meeting during that trip, Perry handed the new president a list of people he recommended as energy advisers.

Ban Political Ads on Facebook? Upstart, Anti-Trump Candidates Object.
San Francisco Chronicle – Isaac Stanley-Becker (Washington Post) | Published: 11/10/2019

When Twitter announced a ban on political ads, some top Democrats urged Facebook to follow, saying the site’s promotion tools benefit President Trump by allowing him and his allies to spread falsehoods that reach millions. But if Facebook were to cut off political ads, it could end up undercutting the first-time candidates inspired to enter politics by Trump’s election, including some of the Democrats who helped the party retake the House in 2018. “Online advertising lowers the cost and the barriers to entry,” said Erika Franklin Fowler of Wesleyan University, in part because advertisers can pay for specific impressions rather than having to display ads to an entire local television audience, which may exceed a particular electoral district, creating unnecessary costs.

Deval Patrick Joins the 2020 Race: ‘This won’t be easy, and it shouldn’t be’
MSN – Matt Stevens and Jonathan Martin (New York Times) | Published: 11/14/2019

Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick officially entered the presidential race, adding an 18th candidate and a late twist to a turbulent Democratic primary with less than three months to go before the Iowa caucuses. Patrick sought to immediately draw a contrast with some of the leading candidates, indirectly taking aim at former Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders by echoing critiques of their approaches that other candidates have been voicing for weeks, if not months. Patrick’s entry into the contest reflects unease among some Democrats around the current state of the race and underscore the fact that no candidate has yet emerged as a dominant force.

Founder’s Presidential Bid Puts Bloomberg News in Spotlight
The Hill – Joe Concha | Published: 11/12/2019

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s potential presidential bid could raise serious questions for the news organization that bears his name. While it is more famous for its coverage of the economy and global markets, Bloomberg News has a robust news operation that covers the White House, presidential campaigns, and Congress. Bloomberg’s entry into the crowded Democratic primary would leave the reporters and editors covering their company’s namesake as he battles more than a dozen others for the party’s presidential nomination.

Impeachment Hearings Open with Revelation on Trump’s Ukraine Pressure
MSN – Nicholas Fandos and Michael Shear (New York Times) | Published: 11/13/2019

William Taylor Jr., the acting ambassador to Ukraine, revealed new evidence of President Trump’s personal efforts to press Ukraine to investigate political rivals as House investigators launched public impeachment hearings. Taylor said his staff recently told him they overheard Trump’s phone call with Ambassador Gordon Sondland at a restaurant the day after Trump’s July 25 phone call with the new leader of Ukraine that sparked the impeachment investigation. The staffer explained that Sondland had called the president and Trump could be heard asking about “the investigations.” Sondland told the president the Ukrainians were ready to move forward, Taylor testified.

Lobbyist Says He Wasn’t Lobbying When He Tried to Oust Ukrainian Ambassador. Experts Disagree.
USA Today – Kevin McCoy | Published: 11/8/2019

An allegation that lobbyist Bob Livingston sought to oust the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine raises questions about whether he violated a federal law that requires lobbyists to disclose their work for foreign clients. Livingston, a former high-ranking House member who heads an influential K Street lobbying firm, repeatedly called Foreign Service Officer Catherine Croft and pressed for the ouster of the ambassador, Marie Yovanovich, Croft told impeachment investigators. Livingston probably should have disclosed whether he was paid by two Ukraine-linked clients or any other foreigner to seek Yovanovitch’s removal, two legal experts on the Foreign Agents Registration Acts aid. But Livingston said he made the calls as a “concerned American citizen,” not as a lobbyist.

Redistricting Activists Brace for Wall of Inaction as Battle Moves to States
San Antonio Express-News – Amy Gardner, Ted Mellnik, and Adrian Blanco (Washington Post) | Published: 11/12/2019

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that partisan gerrymanders are beyond the reach of federal courts has opened the door to a patchwork of outcomes in different states that will hinge on the partisan tilt of their judiciaries and the fine print of their constitutions. That ruling also negated decisions in lower federal courts that threw out maps in key swing states, including Michigan and Wisconsin, meaning those districts will remain in place for next year’s elections. Activists fighting what they view as unfair drawing of district lines said they now must intensify their strategy of backing like-minded candidates for state Legislatures, governors, and even judicial seats to lay the groundwork for future court challenges they think might not succeed today.

Report: Election vendors are ‘prime targets,’ need oversight
AP News – Christina Cassidy | Published: 11/12/2019

The private companies that make voting equipment and build and maintain voter registration databases lack any meaningful federal oversight despite the crucial role they play in U.S. elections, leaving the nation’s electoral process vulnerable to attack, according to a new report from the Brennan Center for Justice. The report calls on Congress to establish a framework for federal certification of election vendors. The authors say this could be established as a voluntary program, similar to how voting machines are certified, with incentives for state and local election officials to use vendors that have completed the process. It would include the establishment of federal standards and the ability for federal officials to monitor compliance and address any violations.

She Inflated Her Resume and Peddled a Fake Time Cover. Trump Appointed Her to the State Department.
MSN – Reis Thebault (Washington Post) | Published: 11/12/2019

A fabricated Time cover is just one of Mina Chang’s listed accomplishments and résumé line items that has come into question after a media investigation found the Trump administration appointee embellished her work history and made misleading claims about her professional background. Chang in April joined the State Department’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations as a deputy assistant secretary. At one point, she was up for a more senior post at the United States Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Asia, but in September, her nomination was withdrawn without explanation. It has been a persistent problem for President Trump’s administration: an apparent failure to recognize red flags when vetting potential hires and appointees.

Trump Allies Received Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars Under Federal Health Contract
Politico – Dan Diamond and Adam Cancryn | Published: 11/12/2019

At least eight former White House, presidential transition, and campaign officials for President Donald Trump were hired as outside contractors to the Department of Health and Human Services at the cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. They charged up to $380 per hour for work traditionally handled by dozens of career civil servants in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ communications department. The arrangement allowed the Trump allies to cycle through the federal government’s opaque contracting system, charging hefty fees with little public oversight or accountability.

Why Did Google Take Action Against Some Pro-Trump Ads? It’s One of the Many Mysteries of Its Political Ad Rules.
Washington Post – Tony Romm and Isaac Stanley-Becker | Published: 11/8/2019

Google took action against seven ads purchased by President Trump’s 2020 campaign recently, claiming they violated the company’s rules even though they had been viewed at least 24 million times. But Google said little else: It didn’t share a copy of the ads in question or disclose what standards they had violated. To experts, those unknowns are just two of many mysteries that demonstrate the company’s continued struggles to spot and shield users from potentially problematic political content with the 2020 presidential election a year away. Critics contend Google suffers from its own blind spots around paid political speech, which has generated nearly $124 million for the company since it began releasing its data in May 2018.

Canada

Canada How Corporations Still Get Away with Secret Lobbying in B.C.
The Narwhal – Christopher Pollon | Published: 11/12/2019

British Columbia’s New Democratic Party has promised to clean up politics, eliminate big money campaign donations, and ferret out corporate influence – which includes Bill 54, the province’s lobbying amendment act introduced last October. But in spite of much talk and limited action, the secret lobbying of elected officials remains a common practice in British Columbia today, according to Duff Conacher, coordinator of Democracy Watch. Conacher said all of the recently announced changes, including a strengthened two-year ban on lobbying for politicians or high-level bureaucrats after leaving office, only apply to those who officially register with the Office of the Register of Lobbyists. But if someone is not being expressly paid to lobby or do less than 50 hours of in-house lobbying a year, registration is not required.

From the States and Municipalities

California Campaign Finance and Lobbyist Registration Rules Get First Nod in Newport Beach
Los Angeles Times – Hillary Davis | Published: 11/8/2019

Newport Beach City Council candidates who knowingly accept campaign donations over the limit may be subject to removal from office under local election reforms that advanced at a recent meeting. The council gave initial approval to two ordinances – one adding a grace period for fixing violations of municipal political contribution limits, plus penalties for scofflaws, and another to establish local lobbyist registration. The lobbyist rule would require an advocate who receives at least $500 a month or works under a contingency contract to register.

California PG&E Helped Fund the Careers of Calif. Governor and His wife. Now He Accuses the Utility of ‘Corporate Greed.’
San Francisco Chronicle – Douglas MacMillan and Neena Satija (Washington Post) | Published: 11/11/2019

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has repeatedly called out Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E)  for “corporate greed” in light of its role in the wave of wildfires in his state, but Newsom and his wife have accepted more than $700,000 from the utility, its foundation, and employees as PG&E  has supported his campaigns, ballot initiatives, inauguration festivities, and Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s foundation. The payments are not unusual for PG&E, one of the most politically active companies in California state and local politics and a prolific donor to Bay Area charities. When a federal judge asked PG&E in July to explain why its political spending was “more important than replacing or repairing the aging transmission lines,” the utility said it needs to make the concerns of its employees, customers, and shareholders known to policymakers.

Colorado Ethics Report on John Hickenlooper’s Private Jet Travel Is Released
Denver Post – Justin Wingerter | Published: 11/7/2019

Colorado’s Independent Ethics Commission released a report into former Gov. John Hickenlooper’s travel, including interview notes that show a private jet trip to Connecticut last year was paid for by a billionaire friend’s company. The report, which drew no conclusions, will be used by the ethics commission as it conducts a hearing into Hickenlooper’s travel and whether that travel violated the Colorado Constitution. The report is primarily made up of interview summations, along with documentation such as checks and travel itineraries.

Florida Scandalous Details to Emerge in Ex-Mayor Joy Cooper’s Corruption Trial
South Florida Sun-Sentinel – Susannah Bryan | Published: 11/14/2019

The high-profile trial of Joy Cooper, the former mayor of Hallandale Beach arrested on corruption charges, has a slew of scandalous details. And the jurors chosen to serve in Cooper’s trial are likely to hear most of them. Most of those details are related to former lobbyist Alan Koslow, a star witness for the state. A flashy character who at one time boasted he was “Mr. Hollywood,” Koslow became an FBI informant tapped by the agency to ferret out public corruption in Broward County. But before all that, Koslow fell for a ruse set up by two undercover agents who went by the names Jack and Joey. They posed as out-of-town developers who wanted his help getting a high-rise project approved in Hallandale Beach. Koslow told the men he had influence with the Hallandale Beach commission and “had the vote of the mayor,” court records say.

Idaho Whodunit in the Library: Someone keeps hiding the anti-Trump books
MSN – Mike Baker (New York Times) | Published: 11/10/2019

Someone has been hiding books in the Coeur d’Alene Public Library, those that explore politics through a progressive lens, or criticize President Trump. They wind up misfiled in out-of-the-way corners where readers will be sure not to find them. “I am going to continue hiding these books in the most obscure places I can find to keep this propaganda out of the hands of young minds,” the mystery book relocator wrote in a note left for Bette Ammon, the library director. The incidents over this past year were not the first-time books have mysteriously disappeared. For decades, Coeur d’Alene has navigated a delicate political landscape in northern Idaho, a conservative corner of the country where some have sought refuge from political and social changes elsewhere.

Illinois Chicago Aldermen Propose Their Own Changes to City Lobbying Rules
Crain’s Chicago Business – A.D. Quig | Published: 11/13/2019

As Illinois legislators weigh ethics changes in response to federal investigations into elected officials, businesses, and lobbyists, aldermen in Chicago are lining up behind their own changes to city lobbying rules. Ald. Michele Smith, who chairs the Committee on Ethics and Government Oversight, and Ald. Matt O’Shea have introduced a ban on city council members acting as paid lobbyists and on outside elected officials lobbying on Chicago matters. So far, they have convinced a majority of the council to support the change.

Illinois In Springfield, Family Ties Bind Lobbyists, Lawmakers
Prairie State Wire – W.J. Kennedy | Published: 11/11/2019

When he is not in Springfield, Illinois Rep. Michael J. Zalewski says he is a “health care attorney.” But he really works as a municipal lobbyist, representing client interests before local government village boards and city councils. They include Chicago, where his father, Michael R. Zalewski, served as an alderman for 23 years until he resigned this spring after his home was raided by federal authorities as part of a corruption investigation. Rep. Zalewski, questioned earlier this year about whether his side local lobbying job was appropriate, was incredulous. “I’ve acted with integrity and honor,” Zalewski said. “I’ve complied with all ethical and legal guidelines.” He is not the only one seemingly unconcerned with appearances.

Illinois Lobbying by Sitting Illinois Lawmakers Under Scrutiny
AP News – John O’Connor | Published: 11/11/2019

A federal bribery charge against Illinois Rep. Luis Arroyo has led to questions about whether lawmakers should be allowed to lobby other units of government. Most states allow lawmakers to lobby outside state government, and Illinois is not even the least restrictive. Eighteen states, including California, have no restrictions on such lobbying. House Republicans have produced a package of legislation, including a ban on lobbying by active legislators and a revamp of annually required statements of economic interest.

Iowa Iowa Ethics Board Looking for Leader to Succeed Megan Tooker
The Gazette – Staff | Published: 11/12/2019

The Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board is looking for a new executive director to replace Megan Tooker. She said she is leaving in mid-December to pursue other career opportunities. Board members likely will establish a committee to screen candidates and bring one or more finalists for the board to consider.

Iowa Steyer Aide Offered Money for Endorsements
AP News – Alexandra Jaffe | Published: 11/7/2019

A top aide to Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer in Iowa privately offered campaign contributions to local politicians in exchange for endorsing his White House bid, according to multiple people with direct knowledge of the conversations. The overtures from Pat Murphy, a former Iowa House speaker, are not illegal, though payments for endorsements would violate campaign finance laws if not disclosed. There is no evidence any Iowans accepted the offer or received contributions from Steyer’s campaign as compensation for their backing. Murphy has resigned from the campaign.

Kentucky Close Election in Kentucky Was Ripe for Twitter, and an Omen for 2020
MSN – Mathew Rosenberg and Nick Corasaniti (New York Times) | Published: 11/10/2019

A few hours after polls closed in Kentucky on November 5, a Twitter user writing under the handle @Overlordkraken1 posted a message to his 19 followers saying he had “just shredded a box of Republican mail-in ballots.” It was clear the Kentucky governor’s race was going to be excruciatingly close, and the Republican incumbent, Matt Bevin, could be headed to defeat. For those eager to cry fraud as a reliably red state leaned blue, the fact that @Overlordkraken1 did not appear to be in Kentucky was not going to get in the way of a useful narrative. Kentucky is shaping up to be a case study in the real-word impact of disinformation, and a preview of what election-security officials and experts fear could unfold a year from now if the 2020 presidential election comes down to the wire.

Louisiana Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Jefferson Hughes III Denies Payoff Allegation from Ex-Hammond Councilman
New Orleans Advocate – John Simerman | Published: 11/3/2019

Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Jefferson Hughes III acknowledges he visited a former Hammond city councilperson at his home to question him about his support for Will Crain, an appeals court jurist running for an open seat alongside Hughes on the state’s high court. Hughes also said he told the ex-councilperson, local political operative Johnny Blount, that he might find it more financially rewarding to back Hans Liljeberg, the state appeals court judge facing off against Crain in the November 16 runoff. But Hughes insisted he never offered Blount $5,000 to come out publicly for Liljeberg, an allegation Blount made in an affidavit. Blount’s affidavit prompted Richard Ducote, who lost in the primary for the Supreme Court seat and now backs Crain, to file a complaint against Hughes with the Louisiana Judiciary Commission.

Maryland Annapolis Ethics Commission Chair Owns a Short-Term Rental Property, Says Not a Conflict of Interest
Capital Gazette – Brooks DuBose | Published: 11/13/2019

Annapolis Ethics Commission Chairperson Jim Dolezal did not disclose he operates a short-term rental property before voting with the commission to deny a request by city Ald. Elly Tierney to reconsider her recusal from a contentious debate on short-term rental legislation. The ethics panel upheld the recusal by citing a potential conflict-of-interest because Tierney owns and operates a bed and breakfast. Dolezal’s property is only available to rent during the annual U.S. Sailboat Show and Naval Academy Commissioning Week, he said. Current and proposed rental legislation specifically exempts rentals from those two events.

Massachusetts Boston Subpoenaed by Grand Jury in Marijuana Corruption Probe
Boston Globe – Dan Adams | Published: 11/9/2019

A federal grand jury has subpoenaed the City of Boston for records of interactions between local officials and marijuana company representatives. The demand makes the city the most prominent subject yet of a wide-ranging investigation into municipal corruption by the office of U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling, though there is no evidence prosecutors are targeting Boston in particular. One main focus of the probe is the “host community agreements” every marijuana firm must sign with the city or town where it hopes to open before it can obtain a state license. Boston so far has signed host community agreements with 14 marijuana operators; no recreational pot shops have opened in the city, though several have applications pending before the state Cannabis Control Commission.

Michigan News Websites with Political Ties Spread Across Michigan
Governing – Malachi Barrett (MLive.com) | Published: 11/9/2019

A growing number of media organizations with ties to partisan activists are spreading in Michigan in time for the 2020 presidential election. News websites affiliated with Republican and Democratic groups have sprung up in battleground states in the last year. The websites are straightforward about their editorial agenda to varying degrees – some described themselves as watchdogs meant to replace trusted community newspapers while others clearly exhibit a partisan slant and use layouts designed to resemble conventional news organizations. “There’s never been a more difficult time for information consumers than the time we’re in right now,” said Kathleen Bartzen, director of the Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin.

New York Developer Pays $10K to Settle De Blasio Dubious Donation Case
The City – Greg Smith | Published: 11/13/2019

Douglaston Development will pay $10,000 to end an investigation into a contribution by the company to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s now defunct nonprofit, Campaign for One New York. The Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) previously reached settlements with three other major developers the mayor had solicited for donations. Entities that are lobbying City Hall for favorable treatment are prohibited from giving gifts to public officials or to third parties designated by a public official. JCOPE was looking at the donations to DeBlasio’s nonprofit as illegal gifts.

New York Inspector General Probed Ethics Panel’s Alleged Leak to Cuomo
Albany Times Union – Brendan Lyons | Published: 11/13/2019

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was allegedly briefed on the details of a closed-door vote by the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) last January, around the time the panel voted on whether to investigate Joseph Percoco, a former top aide to the governor. The allegation – that someone in JCOPE may have illegally informed the governor or his staff about the voting breakdown of the panel’s non-public decision – was secretly investigated by the state inspector general’s office between January and October 4, when the inspector general sent a letter to JCOPE stating its investigation had been unable to substantiate the complaint. The apparent breach of JCOPE’s bylaws was revealed when Cuomo allegedly contacted Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie almost immediately following the commission’s January meeting and expressed concerns about the votes of the speaker’s appointees to JCOPE.

New York Under Proposal, Taxpayer Funds Could Match Big Campaign Donations
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 11/13/2019

The plans of a commission charged with rewriting New York’s campaign finance rules quickly drew criticism from advocates who had hoped the panel would reduce the role of big money in state politics. The Public Campaign Finance Commission voted to preliminarily adopt new donation limits for elections for the state Assembly and Senate. While those limits would be about half the current maximum amounts in New York, they would still be quite high by the standards of elections outside the state. “They’re simply reducing the limits from being astronomical to being sky-high,” said Alex Camarda, senior policy advisor at the government reform group Reinvent Albany.

Oregon Oregon to Launch Statewide Procurement Marketplace in 2020
Governing – Andrew Westrope (Government Technology) | Published: 11/9/2019

Oregon has contracted with Periscope Holdings, a developer of e-procurement systems, to create a new statewide procurement platform, OregonBuys, set to launch in 2020. Based on the company’s BuySpeed e-procurement system, OregonBuys will standardize the procurement process across all state agencies, automate some of the associated tasks, and track and manage government purchases of goods and services.

Pennsylvania FBI Eyes How Pennsylvania Approved Pipeline
AP News – Marc Levy | Published: 11/12/2019

The FBI has begun a corruption investigation into how Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration came to issue permits for construction on a multibillion-dollar pipeline project to carry highly volatile natural gas liquids across Pennsylvania. FBI agents have interviewed current or former state employees about the Mariner East project and the construction permits, according to three people who have direct knowledge of the agents’ line of questioning. The focus of the agents’ questions involves the permitting of the pipeline, whether Wolf and his administration forced environmental protection staff to approve construction permits and whether Wolf or his administration received anything in return, those people say.

Tennessee State Panel Questions Recent Ruling to Lower Jeremy Durham’s Campaign Finance Penalty, Calls for New Hearing
The Tennessean – Joel Ebert | Published: 11/13/2019

Campaign finance officials in Tennessee are rejecting an administrative law judge’s ruling to reduce a record-setting fine against former state Rep. Jeremy Durham. The Registry of Election Finance concurred with a recommendation from Bill Young, executive director of the Bureau of Ethics and Finance, to hold a hearing to consider Durham’s case again. The issue dates back to a $465,000 fine the registry levied against Durham in 2017, after an audit found he violated state campaign finance law hundreds of times, including by using donors’ money to buy custom suits and sunglasses. Administrative Law Judge Steve Darnell said the registry’s initial civil penalty was excessive, noted the broadness of the state’s campaign finance laws, and placed the burden of proof on auditors to determine if Durham’s questionable expenditures were illegal. Darnell said the fine should be reduced to $110,000.

Texas Campaign Contribution Limits Going Up
Austin Monitor – Jo Clifford | Published: 11/12/2019

Austin voters approved new campaign finance regulations in 1997 that limit the amount an individual can give to each candidate. City Clerk Jannette Goodall announced that the amount has risen from $350 to $400. “The limits are increasing for the first time in a number of years based on the Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index,” Goodall said. In addition, candidates will now be allowed to collect $38,000, rather than $37,000, “from sources other than natural persons eligible to vote in a postal ZIP code completely or partially within the (city of Austin) limits.”

Texas Dallas Mayor Taps Attorney Tim Powers as Ethics Czar, Promises ‘Teeth’ to City Code
Dallas Morning News – Hayat Norimine | Published: 11/8/2019

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson carried out an inaugural promise to pick an ethics czar to rewrite the city’s ethics code. Johnson announced that Tim Powers, a managing partner at the law firm Haynes and Boone LLP who has been chairperson of the Ethics Advisory Commission for a few months, will lead a working group that would scrutinize the ethics code and recommend changes. Johnson said he wants the city council to vote on the recommendations by June.

Texas Top Texas GOP Donor Resigns from Company After Admitting to Prohibited Contributions
Texas Tribune – Patrick Svitek | Published: 11/7/2019

James Dannenbaum, a prolific Republican donor and former University of Texas regent, is resigning from his namesake engineering company after admitting to coordinating illegal campaign contributions in 2017. Dannenbaum, the chief executive officer of Dannenbaum Engineering, was charged with recruiting employees to donate over $20,000 to three congressional candidates in February 2017 and then reimbursing them with corporate funds. It is a felony to set up such conduit donations, which typically happen when the offender has already given the maximum amount to campaigns, which was $2,700 per election last cycle.

Virginia In Virginia, Republicans Confront a Fearful Electoral Future
Houston Chronicle – Gregory Schneider and Michael Scherer (Washington Post) | Published: 11/8/2019

The November 5 elections revealed new troubles for the Republican Party in suburbs from Memphis to Philadelphia. Nowhere has the problem been more pronounced than in Virginia, where Republicans have been all but wiped from power in the past decade. Virginia now stands as a fearful avatar for Republicans of what the nation’s unrelenting demographic and cultural changes mean for the party, as the moderate-to-liberal urban and suburban areas grow and more conservative rural areas lose ground. Similar shifts are starting to hit such states as North Carolina, Arizona, Georgia, and Texas, as minority populations increase and white college-educated voters continue to turn away from the GOP brand.

Washington After Massive Spending, Fight Rages on for Bill to Curb Seattle PAC Money
MyNorthwest.com – Nick Bowman | Published: 11/11/2019

On the heels of sizable corporate spending in Seattle’s city council races, Councilperson Lorena Gonzalez is continuing to fight for legislation to curb that spending in future elections. Her bill will look to curb political spending in Seattle elections in three ways: prohibiting donations from foreign-owned companies; limiting contributions from individuals to independent expenditure committees to $5,000 each; and clarifying reporting requirements for commercial advertisers running paid political ads.

Washington DC D.C. Lawmaker Jack Evans Owned Bank Stock While Pushing Bill Favored by Bank
Washington Post – Fenit Nirappil and Steve Thompson | Published: 11/9/2019

When District of Columbia Council member Jack Evans proposed a bill in 2011 that would have shifted more city government deposits into local banks, he told a business journal he got the idea from EagleBank, one of a few institutions that would have benefited. What Evans never made public was that he held stock in EagleBank worth tens of thousands of dollars. Evans’ financial interest in EagleBank was among the revelations in a recent report from an ethics investigation. In the fallout from the report, nearly every other member of the council has publicly or privately urged Evans, the city’s longest serving lawmaker, to resign. Evans’ relationship with EagleBank has also attracted the interest of federal prosecutors.

Wisconsin Lawsuit Could Deactivate 234,000 Voters in Wisconsin
AP News – Scott Bauer | Published: 11/13/2019

More than 234,000 voters in Wisconsin would be made unable to cast their ballot unless they register again before the next election under a lawsuit that liberals fear could dampen turnout among Democrats in the 2020 presidential race. The lawsuit could affect how many voters are able to cast ballots in both the April presidential primary and November 2020 general election in Wisconsin, a key swing state that both sides are targeting. President Trump narrowly won the state by less than 23,000 votes in 2016.

March 31, 2020 •

Colorado General Assembly Meets Briefly on March 30

Colorado Capitol Building

The Colorado House and Senate convened for one day on March 30, but lawmakers took different approaches to returning from the General Assembly’s COVID-19 recess. The House recessed until Thursday, April 2. Lawmakers in the House based their decision on […]

The Colorado House and Senate convened for one day on March 30, but lawmakers took different approaches to returning from the General Assembly’s COVID-19 recess.

The House recessed until Thursday, April 2. Lawmakers in the House based their decision on the constitutional provision allowing for a three-day recess without formal agreement from both chambers.

The Senate, however, postponed indefinitely based on another interpretation. This specifically allows the General Assembly to remain recessed without setting an exact date to reconvene.

On April 2, it is expected that the House will meet briefly and recess again for an unspecified period of time.

This does not affect lobbyist reporting.

Additionally, the General Assembly is still considered to be in regular session. This is for purposes of restrictions on contributions from lobbyists during the session, as the General Assembly has not adjourned sine die.

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March 31, 2020 •

Hawaii Proposed Administrative Rule Hearing Rescheduled for May 7

The Hawaii State Ethics Commission has rescheduled its public hearing on proposed administrative rules concerning amendments to state lobbying and gift laws for May 7. Due to COVID-19 concerns, the original date of March 19 was postponed. The proposals include: […]

The Hawaii State Ethics Commission has rescheduled its public hearing on proposed administrative rules concerning amendments to state lobbying and gift laws for May 7.

Due to COVID-19 concerns, the original date of March 19 was postponed.

The proposals include:

  • Clarifications as to what activities constitute lobbying
  • Exclusions from lobbyist registration requirements
  • A requirement that expenditures be reported on an accrual rather than cash basis.

Additionally, the proposals would amend prohibitions on certain kinds of gifts, valuation of gifts, and gift disclosure statements.

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March 31, 2020 •

Lawmakers in Newfoundland and Labrador Adjourn Due to Coronavirus Pandemic

Confederation Building, Newfoundland, CA - by shhewitt

On March 26, the General Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, agreed to adjourn parliamentary business an unspecified future date. The legislature will remain adjourned until the call of the Chair, the procedure for recalling […]

On March 26, the General Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, agreed to adjourn parliamentary business an unspecified future date.

The legislature will remain adjourned until the call of the Chair, the procedure for recalling lawmakers into session. 

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March 31, 2020 •

New York Nassau County Attorney Announces Extension For Lobbyist Report

Flag of Nassau County, NY

The Office of the County Attorney announced emergency regulations extending the deadline for filing first quarter lobbyist reports. This comes in response to the COVID-19 outbreak and current state of emergency. The deadline for lobbyist reports covering activity for the […]

The Office of the County Attorney announced emergency regulations extending the deadline for filing first quarter lobbyist reports.

This comes in response to the COVID-19 outbreak and current state of emergency.

The deadline for lobbyist reports covering activity for the period of January 1 to March 31 is extended until May 15.

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March 31, 2020 •

April Sitting of Prince Edward Island Legislature Postponed Due to Coronavirus

Prince Edward Island Legislative Assembly Chamber - Joseph Thornley

The anticipated start date of April 7, 2020, for the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island has been postponed until a date to be determined due to the coronavirus pandemic.   Speaker Colin LaVie suspended the Spring Sitting of the […]

The anticipated start date of April 7, 2020, for the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island has been postponed until a date to be determined due to the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Speaker Colin LaVie suspended the Spring Sitting of the Legislature based on recommendations of the province’s chief public health officer.

LaVie intends to call the legislature into session after consultation with the other parliamentary leaders as the situation evolves.

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March 31, 2020 •

British Columbia Legislative Committees Videoconferencing

British Columbia Legislature

As of March 30, committees of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, such as the Public Account Committee, continue to meet using videoconferencing. Some of the committee videoconferencing is available for the public to view live on the Assembly’s website. […]

As of March 30, committees of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, such as the Public Account Committee, continue to meet using videoconferencing.

Some of the committee videoconferencing is available for the public to view live on the Assembly’s website.

 

On March 23, lawmakers had adjourned their Spring Session to a date they have not yet determined.

Legislators will reconvene at their physical legislative building when the Speaker of the House, after consultation with the government, determines the public interest requires it or when advised by the government.

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March 31, 2020 •

Yukon Legislature to Convene October 1

Yukon Legislature

On October 1, the Yukon Legislative Assembly is scheduled to convene, having recessed in response to the coronavirus pandemic.   On March 19, the legislature adjourned its Spring Session earlier than the scheduled April 16 end-of-session date, while still staying […]

On October 1, the Yukon Legislative Assembly is scheduled to convene, having recessed in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

 

On March 19, the legislature adjourned its Spring Session earlier than the scheduled April 16 end-of-session date, while still staying late on its last day to complete consideration of Bill No. 203, a fiscal appropriation act for the territory.

 

“These are unusual times that call for unusual measures,” said Speaker Hon. Nils Clarke said in his press release.

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March 31, 2020 •

New York JCOPE Suspends Lobbying Random Audit Program

New York Capitol Building

The Joint Commission on Public Ethics announced the suspension of the Lobbying Random Audit Program to avoid unnecessary administrative burden during the COVID-19 emergency. Effective immediately, no new audits will be initiated by JCOPE until further notice. Complying with ongoing […]

The Joint Commission on Public Ethics announced the suspension of the Lobbying Random Audit Program to avoid unnecessary administrative burden during the COVID-19 emergency.

Effective immediately, no new audits will be initiated by JCOPE until further notice.

Complying with ongoing audits is voluntary until the commission resumes the audit program.

Any questions regarding this policy should be emailed to helpdesk@jcope.ny.gov, with ‘Audit’ in the subject line.

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