October 11, 2019 •

News You Can Use Digest – October 11, 2019

News You Can Use

National/Federal

Bernie Sanders Says He Will Slow His Campaign Pace After Heart Attack
ENM News – Sydney Ember and Jonathan Martin (New York Times) | Published: 10/8/2019

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, in a striking concession for a leading presidential candidate, said he planned to slow down his pace on the campaign trail after suffering a heart attack, and acknowledged voters would likely consider his health when deciding whether to support him. Sanders’ remarks stood in contrast with comments in recent days from his campaign advisers, who have insisted the senator was neither changing course nor easing his trademark intensity as a result of the heart attack. Given Sanders’ influential role in the Democratic race, not only as a top candidate but also as a driving force in policy debates, his decision to pull back campaigning injects new uncertainty into the contest.

Bernie Sanders, Resting at Home, Announces Plan to Curtail Money in Politics
San Francisco Chronicle – Chelsea Janes (Washington Post) | Published: 10/7/2019

As U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders recovers at his home from a heart attack, his presidential campaign is pushing ahead without his typical frequent campaign appearances and trying to foster a sense of business as usual. The campaign released a plan to “get corporate money out of politics,” a proposal that would eliminate big-dollar fundraising for all federal elections, enact a constitutional amendment to declare campaign contributions are not speech, and take aim at the Democratic National Convention. The changes would undermine the fundraising approach of not only President Trump and the Republicans, but almost all of Sanders’s fellow Democratic candidates, too.

Bipartisan Senate Report Calls for Sweeping Effort to Prevent Russian Interference in 2020 Election
MSN – Craig Timberg and Tony Romm (Washington Post) | Published: 10/8/2019

A bipartisan panel of U.S. senators called for sweeping action by Congress, the White House, and Silicon Valley to ensure social media sites are not used to interfere in the coming presidential election, delivering a sobering assessment about the weaknesses that Russian operatives exploited in the 2016 campaign. The Senate Intelligence Committee, a Republican-led panel that has been investigating foreign electoral interference for more than two-and-a-half years, said in blunt language that Russians worked to damage Hillary Clinton while bolstering Donald Trump, and made clear that fresh rounds of interference are likely ahead of the 2020 vote.

DC Court Refuses to Overturn Campaign Finance Law
Courthouse News Service – Megan Mineiro | Published: 10/3/2019

A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected a bipartisan appeal from lawmakers to upend precedent on campaign finance law, upholding an earlier decision. The 2010 SpeechNow v. Federal Election Commission ruling held that certain PACs can collect unlimited contributions from both individuals and corporations with the caveat being that PAC activities are not made “‘in cooperation, consultation, or concert, with, or at the request or suggestion of” a candidate, campaign, or political party. “Since the purpose of this lawsuit is to challenge the D.C. Circuit’s 2010 SpeechNow decision, we look forward to now presenting the case to a court that is authorized to overrule SpeechNow, which the three-judge panel was not empowered to do,” said Ronald Fein, an attorney with Free Speech For People.

Donald Trump’s Longtime Business Connections in Turkey Back in the Spotlight
NBC News – Heidi Przybyla and Anna Schecter | Published: 10/9/2019

President Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops out of Northern Syria has drawn harsh rebukes from both Republicans and Democrats in Congress and raised alarm bells among America’s allies across the globe. While the president has defended the decision as part of his longtime promise to end U.S. military involvement in the region, even his staunchest supporters at home warned it has essentially given Turkey a green light for a major military offensive against the Kurdish minority there, a target of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The fact that Trump made his decision to remove the troops shortly after a phone call with Erdogan has raised alarm bells from policymakers, as well as government ethics watchdog groups who have long seen Trump’s extensive business interests as a potential area for conflicts-of-interest.

Elaine Chao Favored Kentuckians in Meeting with Officials Seeking Grants
Politico – Tanya Snyder, Tucker Doherty, and Arren Kimbel-Sannit | Published: 10/7/2019

In her first 14 months as Transportation secretary, Elaine Chao met with officials from Kentucky, which her husband Mitch McConnell represents in the Senate, vastly more often than those from any other state. In all, 25 percent of Chao’s scheduled meetings with local officials of any state from January 2017 to March 2018 were with Kentuckians. At least five of Chao’s 18 meetings with local Kentuckians were requested in emails from McConnell staffers, who alerted Chao’s staff members which of the officials were “friends” or “loyal supporters,” according to records. Some of the officials who met with Chao had active grant applications before the Department of Transportation through competitive programs and the emails indicate the meetings sometimes involved the exchange of information about grants and opportunities for the officials to plead their case directly before Chao.

Facebook’s Hands-Off Approach to Political Speech Gets Impeachment Test
ENM News – Cecilia Kang (New York Times) | Published: 10/9/2019

Facebook rejected a request from Joe Biden’s presidential campaign to take it down a video ad by President Trump’s campaign, even though CNN refused to air the ad, saying it made false accusations. In a letter to the Biden campaign, Facebook said the ad did not violate company policies. The social network recently announced that politicians and their campaigns had nearly free rein over content they post there. Even false statements and misleading content in ads, the company has said, are an important part of the political conversation. Facebook’s decision illustrates its executives’ resolve to stay out of the moderation of political speech, despite the use of the social network to spread disinformation in the 2016 presidential campaign.

He Was Trump’s First Fan in Congress. Now He’s a Felon.
ENM News – Vivian Wang (New York Times) | Published: 10/8/2019

The story of former U.S. Rep. Christopher Collins’s rise and fall – businessperson to congressional backbencher, then presidential cheerleader to felon – is a tale of money, politics, family ties and murky ethics. It is also the story of a man who rose to prominence by hitching himself to Donald Trump, and whose star then plummeted as quickly as it rose. Collins resigned his seat and agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and lying to federal investigators. He faces up to 10 years in prison, but prosecutors and defense lawyers have agreed to seek a sentence between 46 months and 57 months.

Legal Team Says It Represents a Second Whistle-Blower Over Trump and Ukraine
MSN – Annie Karni and Nicholas Fandos (New York Times) | Published: 10/4/2019

An intelligence official with “firsthand knowledge” has provided information related to President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine and is now protected from retaliation as a whistle-blower, lawyers representing the official said, confirming a second individual has come forward in the matter. Much is unknown about the official, who has been interviewed by the intelligence community’s inspector general but has not filed a formal complaint. But the individual has hired the same legal team as the first whistle-blower. That, and the claim of “firsthand knowledge,” suggests testimony that might bolster the impeachment case against Trump and further undermine one of his main defense claims: that the accusations against him are based on inaccurate, secondhand information.

Officials’ Texts Reveal Belief That Trump Wanted Probes as Condition of Ukraine Meeting
MSN – Karoun Demirjian, Rachael Bade, Josh Dawsey, and John Hudson (Washington Post) | Published: 10/4/2019

House investigators released numerous text messages illustrating how senior State Department officials coordinated with the Ukrainian president’s top aide and President Trump’s personal lawyer to leverage a potential summit between the heads of state on a promise from the Ukrainians to investigate the 2016 U.S. election and an energy company that employed Joe Biden’s son. The texts, which former special U.S. envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker provided investigators, reveal officials felt Trump would not agree to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky unless Zelensky promised to launch the investigations, and did so publicly.

Rick Perry’s Focus on Gas Company Entangles Him in Ukraine Case
ENM News – Kenneth Vogel, Matina Stevis-Gridneff, and Andrew Kramer (New York Times) | Published: 10/7/2019

When Energy Secretary Rick Perry led an American delegation to the inauguration Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, he suggested the names of Americans the new government might want to advise and oversee the country’s state-owned gas company. Perry’s focus during the trip on Ukraine’s energy industry was in keeping with a push he had begun months earlier and was consistent with U.S. policy of promoting anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine and greater energy independence. But his actions during the trip have entangled him in a controversy about a pressure campaign waged by President Trump and his allies directed at the new Zelensky that is at the center of the impeachment inquiry into Trump. That effort sought to pressure Zelensky’s government to investigate Trump’s rivals, including former Vice President Joe Biden.

‘Shadow Lobbying’ in Trump’s Washington
Center for Responsive Politics – Karl Evers-Hillstrom and Dan Auble | Published: 10/3/2019

The Center for Responsive Politics investigated several aspects of unreported lobbying and advocacy in Washington, D.C. The analysis indicated that undisclosed lobbying activities are common. When an individual engages in advocacy to influence public policy but does not register as a lobbyist, it is typically referred to as “shadow lobbying.” It is common, for example, that a top government affairs employee oversees lobbying activity but never actually registers under the Lobbying Disclosure Act by exploiting its various loopholes.

Silence on Big-Money Bundlers Bedevils Watchdog Groups
The Fulcrom; Staff –   | Published: 10/9/2019

Some of the most prominent political reform groups have been pressing the presidential candidates for months to be transparent about who is helping them fill their campaign coffers. But they are getting hardly anywhere. The group put out another plea recently, urging all 19 Democrats remaining in the race, plus President Trump and his three Republican challengers, to “implement a system to regularly and meaningfully disclose information” about their so-called bundlers. Since the first request was sent, only one candidate has come close to meeting the coalition’s demands: Pete Buttigieg. He released a list of his two dozen bundlers in April, but it did not include how much money each had collected on his behalf.

Trump’s 2016 Campaign Was Run on a Shoestring. His Reelection Machine Is Huge – and Armed with Consultants.
Philadelphia Inquirer – Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Anu Narayanswamy (Washington Post) | Published: 10/8/2019

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2015 had no pollster, rapid-response team, or fundraiser. A bare-bones staff toiled in a makeshift office at Trump Tower. His opponents vastly outspent him – and lost. But as president, Trump’s campaign machine has dramatically escalated, powered by a historically large fund of donations large and small that has given him a head start over the eventual Democratic nominee. The spending has also created a financial boon for a political-consulting class he once shunned. Beneficiaries of that money include a mix of experienced hands who have long been part of the GOP establishment and a newer crop of strategists who rode Trump’s coattails to a potentially lucrative career in presidential politics.

Two Business Associates of Trump’s Personal Attorney Giuliani Have Been Arrested on Campaign Finance Charges
MSN – Devlin Barrett and John Wagner (Washington Post) | Published: 10/10/2019

Two Florida businesspeople tied to President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph Giuliani were arrested on campaign finance violations resulting from a $325,000 donation to a PAC supporting Trump’s reelection. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were arrested on a four-count indictment that includes charges of conspiracy, making false statements to the FEC, and falsification of records. Parnas and Fruman were central to Giuliani’s efforts to get government officials in Ukraine to investigate business dealings by former Vice President Joe Biden and his son. The indictment, filled with allegations of political donations being made in secret for the benefit of foreign interests, only adds to the growing legal and political pressure on Trump and Giuliani as they try to fend off Democrats’ impeachment efforts.

US-Based Foreign Agent Bankrolled Ukraine President Zelensky’s DC Lobbying in Hopes of Ukrainian Government Job
Center for Responsive Politics – Anna Massoglia and Yue Stella Yu | Published: 10/7/2019

A little-known U.S.-based attorney, Marcus Cohen, quietly poured six figures into foreign influence operations for Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, hoping to be rewarded with a job in his administration. The new Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) records reveal previously unreported meetings with Trump administration officials and details of a six-figure lobbying campaign promoting Zelensky’s interests in the U.S. during the leadup to his election and now-infamous phone call with President Trump. Cohen’s FARA registration follows a request by the Justice Department. He has previously operated under the radar with little paper trail.

Warren Swears Off High-Dollar Fundraisers in Potential General Election
Politico – Alex Thompson and Elena Schneider | Published: 10/9/2019

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren said she will continue to swear off high-dollar campaign fundraisers in the general election if she becomes the Democratic presidential nominee, extending her self-imposed ban on the events beyond the primary and reversing an earlier statement. Warren had said earlier this year that she could do high-dollar fundraisers as the Democratic nominee in 2020 after swearing them off in the primary, to avoid “unilateral disarmament” against President Trump and the GOP. Campaign spokesperson Kristen Orthman clarified that Warren’s pledge would apply only to her presidential campaign, not to raising money for the Democratic Party or other candidates.

White House Declares War on Impeachment Inquiry, Claiming Effort to Undo Trump’s Election
MSN – Nicholas Fandos, Peter Baker, Michael Schmidt, and Maggie Haberman (New York Times) | Published: 10/8/2019

The White House declared it will halt all cooperation with the impeachment probe by House Democrats. In an eight-page letter, the White House said the inquiry into the Ukraine scandal was without merit, complained that President Trump has been denied his due process rights, and argued Democrats were intent on overturning the results of the 2016 election and influencing the 2020 contest. Trump’s decision to resist across the board is itself a potentially precedent setting move that could have far-reaching implications for the inquiry. Democrats believe it bolsters their list of impeachable offenses, adding the stonewalling of Congress to the tally, but it could also deprive them of crucial witnesses and evidence they might need to lodge credible charges against the president.

From the States and Municipalities

Alabama Montgomery, Ala., Elects Its First African American Mayor After 200 Years
MSN – Meagan Flynn (Washington Pot) | Published: 10/9/2019

Making history, voters in Montgomery, Alabama, elected Steven Reed as the first African American mayor in the 200 years since the city’s founding. His victory reverberated well beyond Montgomery as many celebrated the milestone in a city remembered as both the cradle of the Confederacy and the birthplace of the civil rights movement. Montgomery, where about 60 percent of residents are black, was the first capital of the Confederate States of America, becoming a bastion of racial violence and discrimination in the Jim Crow era but also of protests and resistance in the civil rights era.

Alaska New Rule Could Put State on Defense When an Alaska Governor Is Accused of an Ethics Violation
Anchorage Daily News – James Brooks | Published: 10/5/2019

Ten years ago, Sarah Palin announced she would resign as governor of Alaska. Explaining her decision, Palin gave a variety of reasons, including she felt financially and personally embattled by a host of ethics complaints. Under state law, she had to pay for her own legal defense. Under a proposed regulation now out for public comment, the state attorney general could direct the Department of Law to defend the governor or lieutenant governor if an ethics complaint is filed against them. The attorney general would have to state in writing that the defense is in the state’s best interest.

California California Makes ‘Deepfake’ Videos Illegal, but Law May Be Hard to Enforce
The Guardian – Kari Paul | Published: 10/7/2019

California made it illegal to create or distribute “deepfakes” in a move meant to protect voters from misinformation but may be difficult to enforce. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation that makes it illegal to create or distribute videos, images, or audio of politicians doctored to resemble real footage within 60 days of an election. Deepfakes are videos manipulated by artificial intelligence to overlay images of celebrity faces on others’ bodies and are meant to make viewers think they are real. But the new law will face a number of roadblocks, said Jane Kirtley, a professor of media ethics and law, as political speech enjoys more protections in print and online than in broadcast.

California Judge in Insurance Case Refuses to Change Ruling in Favor of Lara Donor
San Diego Union Tribune – Jeff McDonald | Published: 10/4/2019

For the second time in three months, a judge for the California Department of Insurance refused to change or reconsider his ruling in a workers compensation case, despite direction from Commissioner Ricardo Lara or his special counsel. The case involves a subsidiary of a company whose executives gave thousands of dollars to Lara’s campaign. It is at least the fifth time the department took positions in cases that benefited Applied Underwriters, an Oklahoma insurer whose California subsidiary sold what are called EquityComp policies, which have generated dozens of complaints to state regulators.

Connecticut Partnership for CT Opens First Meeting to Public, but Transparency Questions Persist
Connecticut Mirror – Kathleen Megan | Published: 10/8/2019

The Partnership for Connecticut has invited the public to the first “organizational meeting” of its governing board, but it is unclear what portion of that meeting, or subsequent meeting, will be open, or what the board will be discussing. The new partnership and its board, a private, nonprofit organization created to carry out a public-private collaboration between the state and Dalio Philanthropies, has been the subject of controversy since lawmakers exempted it from state disclosure and ethics rules even though taxpayer money is being used in the endeavor.

Florida Rosen Gonzalez Cleared in Ethics Probe After Accusation She Lobbied for Contractors
Miami Herald – Martin Vassolo | Published: 10/5/2019

The most recent ethics complaint lodged against Miami Beach Commission candidate Kristen Rosen Gonzalez was dismissed about four months ago, according to an investigative report. At issue was whether Rosen Gonzalez violated the county’s ethics code, which prohibits former city officials from lobbying the city within two years after leaving their position. The Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics & Public Trust concluded there was insufficient evidence that Rosen Gonzalez, a former city commissioner, had lobbied senior city staff on behalf of three businesses contracted to do flooding-related work for the city.

Kansas Wichita Council Members Can Take Unlimited Gifts. It’s Not Like That Everywhere
Wichita Eagle – Jonathan Shorman and Chance Swaim | Published: 10/6/2019

A Wichita Eagle review of cities across the region found ethics codes that prohibit specific behavior by elected officials that would leave them open to improper influence. Some states even require local officials to receive ethics training. In Wichita, city employees can be fired for accepting gifts, travel, or meals from anyone doing business with the city. But those rules do not apply to the mayor and city council. Instead, council members are supposed to follow an ethics ordinance that forbids them from doing business with friends and clients, with enforcement left up to the council itself.

Maryland Del. Tawanna Gaines, Longtime Md. Lawmaker, Charged with Federal Wire Fraud
Washington Post – Ovetta Wiggins and Erin Cox | Published: 10/7/2019

Maryland Del. Tawanna Gaines was charged with federal wire fraud, accused of using $22,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses. She abruptly resigned from the General Assembly. She is accused of defrauding her campaign account, Friends of Tawanna P. Gaines, by soliciting donations that were directed to a PayPal account that was not disclosed in state campaign finance filings. Court documents allege Gaines told donors the money would go to her reelection campaign and to help her maintain her leadership positions. Instead, she is accused of using the money for herself.

Minnesota Minneapolis Arena Backs Off on Rally Security Costs after Trump Campaign Cries Extortion, Threatens to Sue
Washington Post – Colby Itkowitz | Published: 10/8/2019

After the Trump campaign threatened to sue a Minneapolis arena for passing along a large security bill from the city to cover costs of the president’s political rally there later this week, the venue withdrew the request. Minneapolis officials told the Target Center, where Trump is slated to appear, that it would be responsible for the $530,000 the city says it will need to beef up security for the visit. The Target Center planned to pass that bill along to the Trump campaign and said the campaign would have to pay or it could not use the arena. But after a day of angry tweets from the president, the campaign announced the arena will not be canceling the contract and the campaign will not be paying any additional fees.

Mississippi 4 Louisiana Men Plead Guilty in Mississippi Bribe Scheme
AP News – Jeff Amy | Published: 10/3/2019

Four Louisiana men have pleaded guilty to conspiring to bribe Mississippi’s former corrections commissioner and trying to bribe a Mississippi sheriff. Michael LeBlanc Sr., Michael LeBlanc Jr., Tawasky Ventroy, and Jacque Jones each entered a guilty plea in federal court to one count of conspiracy. All four men say they paid former Mississippi Corrections Commissioner Christopher Epps a $2,000 bribe in 2014 and promised him future bribes to secure his help in influencing sheriffs, especially those with regional jails overseen by the state, to let them sell phone service and commissary goods to inmates. They also admit to giving Kemper County Sheriff James Moore $2,000 in casino chips in an unsuccessful attempt to bribe him.

Missouri Mystery Money Tied to McKee Slips into Missouri Attorney General Race
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Jack Suntrup | Published: 10/3/2019

A St. Louis-based company that contributed to a committee supporting Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s election will not disclose anything about itself. The EC I Fund donated $10,000 to the MO Opportunity PAC, which was formed in support of Schmitt’s 2020 election bid. The contribution represents a fraction of the more than $670,000 the MO Opportunity PAC has secured this year, but it raises questions about whether the attorney general’s office can, or should, wall off Schmitt from cases that may involve EC I Fund officials, especially if the identities of those officials are unknown.

Nevada LVCVA Board Bans Gifts as Part of Ethics Overhaul
Las Vegas Review-Journal – Jeff German | Published: 10/8/2019

Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) board members approved new ethics rules that ban members from accepting gifts and tighten controls over travel. The changes have come amid a media investigation that found excessive spending at the tax funded LVCVA and lax board oversight of gifts and traveling expenses. The move also came after prosecutors filed felony theft charges against three former LVCVA executives over the mishandling of $90,000 in Southwest Airlines gift cards bought by the agency between 2012 and 2017. The new policies remove a $400 limit on accepting gifts and no longer encourage board members to travel abroad on LVCVA business unless they have expertise that can assist staff on a trip.

Nevada State Republican Party Chair Did Little Work for Second Job as Dental Board Lobbyist, Records Show
Nevada Independent – Riley Snider | Published: 10/6/2019

Michael McDonald in September won re-election to a fifth term leading Nevada’s Republican Party. But leading the state GOP is not the only job on McDonald’s plate. For the past year, he has worked as the lobbyist for the Nevada State Board of Dental Examiners, the seventh-largest occupational licensing board in the state, although public records raise questions about his work for the board. Since he was hired in May 2018 (beating out two established lobbying firms led by former lawmakers), records indicate McDonald has spoken at just one board meeting in that 16 months. Public records requests reveal his only written correspondence with the board since he was hired has been monthly invoices, a request for $3,428.57 every month. Lobbyists and lawmakers reported not interacting or seeing him during the legislative session.

New York Federal Judge Rules Trump Must Turn Over His Tax Returns to Manhattan DA, but Trump Has Appealed
MSN – David Fahrenthold and Ann Marimow (Washington Post) | Published: 10/7/2019

A federal judge dismissed President Trump’s lawsuit seeking to block the Manhattan district attorney from obtaining the president’s tax returns as part of an investigation into hush-money payments during the 2016 campaign. That decision does not mean the tax returns will be handed over immediately. Trump appealed within minutes, and an appeals court put the case on hold until it can hear the president’s challenge. But the ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Victor Marrero was still a broad rejection of Trump’s precedent-shattering argument in this case. The president argued that, as long as he is president, he cannot be investigated by any prosecutor, anywhere, for any reason. Marrero said that was “repugnant” to an American ideal as old as the Constitution: that no person, even a president, is above the law.

North Carolina NC House Speaker Suing Duke Energy
WRAL – Travis Fain | Published: 10/8/2019

North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore, who has power over whether bills live or die, is suing a company making one of the biggest lobbying pushes of this legislative session: Duke Energy. Moore is the lead attorney in a negligence case. A farmer was electrocuted when the sprayer boom on his tractor lifted into a power line. A lawsuit Moore filed on the family’s behalf argues that Duke’s line was too low. State Rep. David Lewis, who used to own a tractor dealership, is a paid expert witness in the case. Moore said he does not see a conflict-of-interest. He said Duke has not tried to curry favor with a settlement proposal as the company’s lobbying team works to pass Senate Bill 559, a potential major change in the way North Carolina sets electricity rates.

Oregon Don’t Hire Your Relatives, Oregon Ethics Watchdog Tells Secretary of State
Portland Oregonian; Staff –   | Published: 10/3/2019

Oregon’s ethics watchdog says Secretary of State Bev Clarno cannot hire her son, or any other family member, to perform paid work for her office without running afoul of the state’s conflict-of-interest law. Questions of nepotism arose after Clarno appointed her son, Randy Hilderbrand, to an unpaid volunteer role when she took over the office. Gov. Kate Brown appointed Clarno to replace Dennis Richardson, who died in February. While that may be the guidance for the secretary of state, Oregon legislators follow an entirely different rule. Oregon is one of the few states in the nation that allows lawmakers to hire family members. The Legislature passed a bill a decade ago providing lawmakers an exception to state anti-nepotism laws.

Pennsylvania How Working Families Party’s Kendra Brooks Built the Biggest Independent Fundraising Machine in Philly Council History
Philadelphia Inquirer – Jonathan Lai and Sean Collins Walsh | Published: 10/9/2019

In her bid to win a Philadelphia City Council seat that has been held by Republicans for decades, Working Families Party candidate Kendra Brooks has drawn endorsements from high-profile elected officials and some unions, anger from the city’s Democratic establishment, and the backing of Philadelphia’s progressive movement. She has also raised a record amount of money for a third-party candidate. Beyond the total amount, Brooks’ fundraising is qualitatively different than that of most candidates.

Pennsylvania The Amish Are the Target of a Republican Campaign to Drum Up Pa. Votes for Trump
Philadelphia Inquirer – Julie Zauzmer (Washington Post) | Published: 10/9/2019

Donald Trump won Pennsylvania in 2016 by a margin of less than 45,000 votes. The state is also home to 75,000 Amish people, most of whom do not vote. Two Republican political operatives are trying to convince the Amish to come out to the polls, where their votes might be influential. Their project, which started with billboards and newspaper ads urging Amish people to vote for Donald Trump, goes by the name Amish PAC. Amish people tend to align on policy with Republicans, who share their opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage. But making voters out of the Amish, who forgo technology like television and the Internet and who believe in the separation of their religious community from government intrusion, may be a steep goal.

Rhode Island Grand Jury Probe Shines Spotlight on R.I. Speaker’s Narrow 2016 Campaign Win
Boston Globe – Dan McGowan | Published: 10/9/2019

Three weeks before the 2016 election, with Rhode Island House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello in a close race, his campaign had one last trick up its sleeve: an endorsement from Shawna Lawton, a little-known Republican who lost a primary to Mattiello’s general election opponent Steven Frias a month earlier. The campaign would mail the endorsement to thousands of voters in the district. Mattiello squeaked past Frias by 85 votes, and then he easily retained the speakership. But the details surrounding the endorsement mailer, including who paid for it and how it was arranged, have haunted Mattiello ever since. The state Board of Elections forwarded the case to the attorney general’s office, and now a grand jury has been convened to review whether anyone from Mattiello’s campaign broke the law.

Texas The 2019 Texas Inauguration Cost a Record $5.3 Million. Where Are the Receipts?
Texas Tribune – Jay Root and Shannon Najmabadi | Published: 10/9/2019

The Texas Tribune filed a lawsuit seeking to discover what happened to the $5.3 million raised for Gov. Greg Abbott’s inauguration through ticket sales and donations from top lobbying firms, corporations and banks, wealthy businesspeople, and trade groups. The only accounting the inaugural committee has given came in its “final report” to the secretary of state’s office. In a one-page list of cash receipts and disbursements, the report gives 11 broad categories of expenditures. The Tribune asked the offices of the governor and lieutenant governor to help get basic information about the expenditures, such as who was paid to raise the money, the names of people or entities receiving large outlays, and which charities got donations. Most of those questions went unanswered.

Washington DC D.C. Ethics Agency Failed to Probe Prominent Whistleblower Complaint, Audit Says
Washington Post – Fenit Nirappil | Published: 10/3/2019

The District of Columbia’s ethics agency mishandled a whistleblower complaint and has repeatedly failed to respond to city workers seeking guidance regarding ethics, according to a new report by city Auditor Kathy Patterson. The report found the Board of Ethics and Governmental Accountability failed to investigate a 2018 complaint from a whistleblower alleging city officials improperly steered millions of dollars to an affordable-housing developer with political connections, despite repeated attempts by the whistleblower and referrals from others in city government. The mishandling of the case appeared to be part of a broader pattern of dysfunction at the ethics board, Patterson wrote.

West Virginia Supreme Court Won’t Intervene Over West Virginia Justices
AP News – John Raby | Published: 10/7/2019

The U.S. Supreme Court said it will leave in place a court decision that derailed the impeachment trials of three West Virginia Supreme Court justices accused of corruption. The case the high court declined to review was a decision by five acting justices of West Virginia’s highest court who ruled last year that prosecuting then-state Supreme Court Chief Justice Margaret Workman in the Senate would violate the state constitution’s separation of powers clause. The ruling in Workman’s case was later applied to also halt impeachment proceedings against two other justices who have since left the court.

July 13, 2020 •

Monday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance National: “Big Donors and PACs Dominate Campaign Funding in Nearly Every State, Report Finds” by David Moore for Sludge Colorado: “Nonprofit Cash Being Spent in Colorado Campaigns Still Impossible to Trace Despite 2019 Law” by Sandra Fish for […]

Campaign Finance

National: “Big Donors and PACs Dominate Campaign Funding in Nearly Every State, Report Finds” by David Moore for Sludge

Colorado: “Nonprofit Cash Being Spent in Colorado Campaigns Still Impossible to Trace Despite 2019 Law” by Sandra Fish for Colorado Sun

Ohio: “Campaign Finance Cover Clouds Bribery Accusations” by Tom Troy for Toledo Blade

Ethics

National: “Trump Commutes Sentence of Confidant Roger Stone Who Was Convicted of Lying to Congress and Witness Tampering” by Spencer Hsu, Rachel Weiner, and Toluse Olorunnipa for Washington Post

Canada: “PM Trudeau’s Mother, Brother and Wife Were Paid to Speak at WE Charity Events” by Rachel Gilmore for CTV

Florida: “Florida Democrats Return PPP Money Amid Scandal” by Marc Caputo and Matt Dixon for Politico

Lobbying

National: “States That Raced to Reopen Let Businesses Write Their Own Rules, Documents Show” by Isaac Stanley-Becker (Washington Post) for Anchorage Daily News

Arizona: “Arizona House Ethics Chair Drops Probe of Rep. Cook” by Associated Press for KJZZ

Continue Reading - 1 min read Close

July 10, 2020 •

Alabama Ethics Commission Challenges Circuit Court’s Public Employee Ruling

Birmingham International Airport

The Alabama Ethics Commission has filed a motion asking the Montgomery County Circuit Court to revise one of their orders. The Court recently ruled that airport authority employees are not public employees, or subject to the Ethics Act. The Ethics […]

The Alabama Ethics Commission has filed a motion asking the Montgomery County Circuit Court to revise one of their orders.

The Court recently ruled that airport authority employees are not public employees, or subject to the Ethics Act.

The Ethics Commission has proposed rather than looking to whether someone is paid through taxpayer contributions, the standard should be whether their salaries were paid out of revenue from negotiated “commercial arms-length” transactions.

The Birmingham Airport Authority has filed a response arguing the commission’s new standard inconsistent with the facts of the case.

Joining them in opposition, the Alabama Water and Wastewater Institute has also filed a brief arguing this new standard.

The institute argues the standard would create a burden on public corporations and their employees.

Therefore, this would cause an attempt to untie a tangled knot of revenue and determine the status of each employee.

Continue Reading - 1 min read Close

July 10, 2020 •

News You Can Use Digest – July 10, 2020

News You Can Use

National/Federal Convention Jitters Grip Democrats Politico – Holly Otterbein | Published: 7/7/2020 First came the announcement of a downsized convention in Milwaukee that delegates were urged not to attend in person. Now, Democrats are questioning whether even gathering in smaller events […]

National/Federal

Convention Jitters Grip Democrats
Politico – Holly Otterbein | Published: 7/7/2020

First came the announcement of a downsized convention in Milwaukee that delegates were urged not to attend in person. Now, Democrats are questioning whether even gathering in smaller events throughout the country as an alternative is a plausible option after a new surge of Covid-19 cases. With infection rates exploding in several states, some elected officials, state party leaders, and rank-and-file members of the Democratic National Committee are skeptical about the proposed idea of “mini-conventions” across the nation – regional satellite sites for delegates and party leaders, particularly in battleground states.

Facebook’s Own Civil Rights Auditors Said Its Policy Decisions Are a ‘Tremendous Setback’
Washington Post – Elizabeth Dwoskin and Kat Zakrzewski | Published: 7/8/2020

The civil rights auditors Facebook hired to scrutinize its civil rights record delivered a scathing indictment of the social media giant’s decisions to prioritize free speech above other values, which the auditors called a “tremendous setback” that opened the door for abuse by politicians. The report criticized Facebook’s choice to leave untouched several posts by President Trump, including three in May that the auditors said “clearly violated” the company’s policies prohibiting voter suppression, hate speech, and incitement of violence. The conclusions by Facebook’s own auditors are likely to bolster criticism the company has too much power and it bends and stretches its rules for powerful people.

GOP Officials Flock to Parler Social Network. So Do Their Trolls and Impostors.
Politico – Christiano Lima | Published: 7/2/2020

Dozens of Republican lawmakers have joined the social media site Parler as GOP tensions with other major platforms mount, but so have hordes of fake accounts claiming to belong to conservative politicians.  Conservative politicians have turned to Parler, which bills itself as an “unbiased” substitute for the likes of Facebook and Twitter, as they escalate their feud with Silicon Valley over allegations that social media companies stifle viewpoints on the right. That movement has given Parler’s site a distinctly conservative bent. Many of the fake Parler accounts present themselves like any typical congressional social media page, making them nearly indistinguishable from an official forum. Others are more flagrantly false.

House Bid to Remove Confederate Statues at Capitol Sets Up Fight with Senate
Roll Call – Chris Marquette | Published: 7/8/2020

As demands for racial justice dominate the national consciousness, the U.S. House is moving along a draft legislative branch spending bill that would mandate statues of Confederates and others “with unambiguous records of racial intolerance” be removed from the Capitol. But the top legislative branch appropriator on the Senate panel, Chairperson Cindy Hyde-Smith, is not calling for the removal of Confederate statues, setting up a potential fight on the provision when it reaches the chamber.

How the Republican Convention Created Money Woes in Two Cities
MSN – Annie Karni, Rebecca Ruiz, and Kenneth Vogel (New York Times) | Published: 7/4/2020

The abrupt uprooting of the Republican National Convention from Charlotte to Jacksonville has created a tangled financial predicament for party officials as they effectively try to pay for two big events instead of one. Tens of millions of dollars have already been spent in a city that will now host little more than a GOP business meeting, and donors are wary of opening their wallets again to bankroll a Jacksonville gathering thrown into uncertainty by a surge in coronavirus cases. The host committee in Charlotte has spent virtually all of the $38 million it raised before the convention was moved, leaving almost nothing to return to donors, or to pass on to the new host city.

Prince Andrew Sought Washington Lobbyist to Help with Epstein Case
New York Times – Kenneth Vogel | Published: 7/5/2020

Prince Andrew’s lawyers had discussions with a Washington, D.C. lobbyist with ties to the Trump administration about the possibility of assisting the prince with fallout from his relationship with the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein. Lawyers from the London-based firm Blackfords consulted the lobbyist, Robert Stryk, who represents international figures with sensitive legal or diplomatic issues, in recent weeks about Prince Andrew’s situation. Stryk has a history of taking on clients with unsavory reputations. But he expressed discomfort about the possibility of assisting Prince Andrew and talks about the potential representation appear to have fizzled.

Sen. Bill Cassidy’s Campaign Has Spent $5,500 on Membership Dues at Private Club in New York
Roll Call – Chris Marquette | Published: 7/1/2020

U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy has spent more than $55,00 from his campaign fund since 2014 on membership dues to the Penn Club of New York City, an elite private club more than 1,000 miles from his hometown of Baton Rouge. Cassidy also disclosed spending $650 in campaign funds on membership fees closer to home at the Petroleum Club of Morgan City in Louisiana, a social club founded by businesspeople in the oil industry. FEC rules say membership dues for country clubs, health clubs, or “other nonpolitical organizations” are considered personal uses that cannot be paid from campaign accounts “unless the payments are made in connection with a specific fundraising event that takes place on the organization’s premises.”

Social Media Platforms Gird for 78 Days of Disinformation Chaos after Election Day
Roll Call – Gopal Ratnam | Published: 7/7/2020

The 78 days between Election Day this fall and Inauguration Day next January could be a greatly unsettled time for American democracy. Unlike most presidential elections, when ballots are tallied and counted in a majority of precincts by midnight on Election Day and news outlets are able to project a winner before you go to bed, this November’s election is likely to be different. Because of a surge in mail-in ballots caused by people’s reluctance to physically go to the polls, results are likely to be delayed. That period could also be rife with disinformation coming from all directions as criminal hackers, enemy states, and even domestic political forces try to shape people’s perceptions of what happened. Lawsuits are also likely to proliferate if the outcome is not clear.

States Can Punish ‘Faithless’ Electors, Supreme Court Rules
Politico – Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney | Published: 7/6/2020

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled states may require presidential electors to support the winner of the popular vote and punish or replace those who do not, settling a disputed issue in advance of this fall’s election. The court considered cases from the state of Washington and Colorado. Both sides of the issue insisted a ruling for the other would have unintended consequences. State officials said putting electors beyond the coercive power of state law could effectively immunize the bribery of electors. Advocates for the electors countered that allowing states to regulate the actions of electors could be a back-door way for states to add qualifications for presidential candidates, perhaps by instructing electors to vote for only those who had released tax returns.

Supreme Court Rules Trump Cannot Block Release of Financial Records
New York Times – Adam Liptak | Published: 7/9/2020

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected President Trump’s assertion he enjoys absolute immunity from investigation while in office, allowing a New York prosecutor to pursue a subpoena of the president’s private and business financial records. In a separate decision, the court ruled Congress could not, at least for now, see many of the same records. It said that case should be returned to a lower court to narrow the parameters of the information sought. Despite the rulings, it is likely that Trump’s records will be shielded from public scrutiny until after the election, and perhaps indefinitely.

Supreme Court Will Hear Arguments Over Mueller’s Secret Evidence, a Delay for House Democrats Investigating President Trump
MSN – Robert Barnes (Washington Post) | Published: 7/1/2020

The U.S. Supreme Court dealt a blow to House Democrats’ efforts to have access to secret grand jury material from Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, saying it would decide next term whether Congress is authorized to see the material. The decision to hear the case next fall means the House Judiciary Committee cannot have access to the material before the election. A lower court ruled the committee was entitled to see the previously withheld material from Mueller’s probe, which also investigated whether President Trump obstructed the special counsel’s work. It is highly unlikely there could be a Supreme Court decision even before the end of the current congressional term in January.

Trump Veterans Flock to K Street Despite ‘Drain the Swamp’ Vow
Politico – Theodoric Meyer and Debra Kahn | Published: 7/8/2020

There are at least 82 former Trump administration officials who have registered as lobbyists. Many more former administration officials have gone to work at lobbying firms or in government affairs roles in corporate America but have not registered as lobbyists. The mass migration to K Street highlights how little effect President Trump’s campaign pledge to “drain the swamp” has had on Washington’s “revolving door.” Some former administration officials decamped for K Street so quickly that they have already returned to the government. Trump has also hired a large number of former lobbyists to serve in his administration.

Trump’s Attacks on Mail Voting Are Turning Republicans Off Absentee Ballots
MSN – Amy Gardner and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 7/7/2020

President Trump’s relentless attacks on the security of mail voting are driving suspicion among GOP voters toward absentee ballots – a dynamic alarming Republican strategists, who say it could undercut their own candidates, including Trump himself. In several primaries, Democratic voters have embraced mail ballots in far larger numbers than Republicans during a campaign season defined by the coronavirus pandemic. When they urge their supporters to vote by mail, GOP campaigns around the country are hearing from more and more Republican voters who say they do not trust absentee ballots.

Trump’s Pick for Ambassador Involved in Racist Smear Against Black Politician
MSN – John Hudson (Washington Post) | Published: 7/2/2020

President Trump’s nominee to be ambassador to Norway is facing demands he abandon his pursuit of the diplomatic post following the unearthing of a 1994 court filing indicating his involvement in the production of a racist campaign flier against an African American politician in Georgia. According to the filing, Mark Burkhalter helped create a flier that distorted and exaggerated the features of Gordon Joyner, a Fulton County Commission candidate. Joyner was pictured with some features darkened, a large Afro, enlarged eyebrows, and a warped eye. Joyner sued for libel, resulting in an out-of-court settlement, an apology signed by Burkhalter and three other men, and payment of an undisclosed sum. Burkhalter did not disclose his involvement in the controversy to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Trump’s Worldview Forged by Neglect and Trauma at Home, His Niece Says in New Book
MSN – Shane Harris and Michael Kranish (Washington Post) | Published: 7/7/2020

A tell-all book by President Trump’s niece describes a family riven by a series of traumas, exacerbated by a daunting patriarch who “destroyed” Donald Trump by short-circuiting his “ability to develop and experience the entire spectrum of human emotion.” President Trump’s view of the world was shaped by his desire during childhood to avoid his father’s disapproval, according to the niece, Mary Trump, whose book is by turns a family history and a psychological analysis of her uncle. “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World;s Most Dangerous Man,” became an instant bestseller based on advance orders, underscoring the intense interest among the public about the forces that shaped the man who became president. Mary Trump has a doctoral degree in clinical psychology.

When Washington Helped Small Business, Washington Was Helped
New York Times – Kenneth Vogel | Published: 7/7/2020

When the Trump administration publicly detailed many of the beneficiaries of the $660 billion forgivable loan program, it showed money going to dozens of the lobbying and law firms, political consulting shops, and advocacy groups that make up the political industrial complex. Advertising and fundraising firms assisting President Trump’s re-election campaign were listed alongside companies doing polling and direct mail for Joe Biden. There is no evidence of string-pulling on behalf of politically connected groups. But the use of taxpayer funds to prop up Washington’s permanent political class seemed discordant to some critics against the backdrop of a pandemic that has shined a light on disparities between the haves and the have-nots.

Canada

Canada Ethics Watchdog to Examine Trudeau Over WE Charity Contract, Since Reversed
MSN – Jordan Press (Canadian Press) | Published: 7/3/2020

The federal ethics watchdog is examining whether Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau violated the conflict-of-interest law over how he handled a decision to have WE Charity manage a $900-million federal program to pay students and recent graduates for volunteer work this summer. The Liberal government announced youth organization would no longer be managing the program, days after the prime minister himself called WE Charity the only option for success. The sole-sourced contract has been criticized because of Trudeau’s close relationship with the group. He, his wife, and his mother have all been involved in WE events and activities.

From the States and Municipalities

Alabama Supreme Court Blocks Curbside Voting in Alabama
AP News – Kim Chandler | Published: 7/2/2020

The U.S. Supreme Court blocked a lower court ruling allowing curbside voting in Alabama and waiving some absentee ballot requirements during the coronavirus pandemic. Conservative justices granted Alabama’s request to stay a federal judge’s order that would allow local officials to offer curbside voting in the July runoff and loosen absentee ballot requirements in three of the state’s large counties. The order will remain stayed while the high court decides whether to hear Alabama’s appeal.

Arizona Secretary of State: Goldwater Institute attorneys should have registered as lobbyists
Arizona Mirror – Jeremy Duda | Published: 7/8/2020

The Arizona secretary of state’s office says the Goldwater Institute is lobbying illegally and wants state Attorney General Mark Brnovich to investigate. A complaint alleges two institute employees, Jonathan Riches and Christina Sandefur, should have to register as authorized lobbyists because they testified in legislative committees in favor of a bill. The think tank has long been an active player at the Capitol. But the organization only has one person registered as a lobbyist, and it contends people like Riches and Sandefur do not need to register because they fall under various exemptions. Sambo Dul, the state elections director, concluded none of the exemptions applied and Riches and Sadefur should register.

California Former L.A. Councilman Mitchell Englander Pleads Guilty in City Hall Corruption Case
Los Angeles Times – David Zahniser and Emily Alpert Reyes | Published: 7/7/2020

Former Los Angeles City Councilperson Mitchell Englander pleaded guilty to a single felony charge in the ongoing corruption probe of City Hall, admitting he schemed to prevent federal investigators from learning about cash and other gifts he received from a businessperson. Englander struck a plea deal, acknowledging he accepted cash in envelopes, a hotel stay and other gifts during trips to Las Vegas and the Palm Springs area, and then engaged in an effort to lie to investigators. In some ways, Englander seemed like a politician who had wandered into the middle of someone else’s corruption probe.

California Real Estate Firm Puts Executive on Leave Amid Jose Huizar Pay-to-Play Probe
Los Angeles Times – Emily Alpert Reyes | Published: 7/1/2020

A real estate firm put one of its executives on leave amid the federal corruption probe that led to the arrest of Los Angeles City Councilperson Jose Huizar. Carmel Partners, the developer of an Arts District project mentioned in the criminal complaint against Huizar, said in a statement that “there are a number of concerning allegations outlined in the complaint that require investigation” and it plans to take “appropriate disciplinary actions as needed” against the executive. Huizar faces a racketeering charge stemming from allegations he ran a “pay-to-play” scheme in which real estate developers were shaken down for bribes and political donations.

California San Jose City Council Narrowly Approves Ballot Measure to Expand Mayoral Powers, Give Sam Liccardo 2 More Years
San Jose Insider – Grace Hase | Published: 7/1/2020

The San Jose City Council placed a controversial measure on the November ballot that will decide whether Mayor Sam Liccardo should be given more powers and two extra years in office. The measure includes a provision to align San Jose’s mayoral election with the presidential election cycle to increase voter turnout. It would also bar lobbyists from making campaign contributions and restrict gifts to public officials from lobbyists and city contractors.

California Santa Barbara Grand Jury Blasts County Supervisors Over Marijuana Industry
Los Angeles Times – Joe Mozingo | Published: 7/3/2020

The Santa Barbara County grand jury criticized county supervisors for allowing “unfettered access” to marijuana lobbyists as the board voted to let cannabis cultivation explode in the Santa Ynez Valley region and Carpinteria with little regulation and a flimsy tax regime that has deprived the county of millions of dollars. The report cited emails showing the close relationship that developed between the industry and two supervisors, along with a lead member of the county executive staff. At times, the grand jury wrote, it seemed lobbyists were not only recommending how the supervisors should vote but trying to “command” them.

Florida Appeals Court Stops Judge’s Order Granting Florida Felons Right to Vote
Tampa Bay Times – Lawrence Mower | Published: 7/1/2020

A federal appellate court temporarily stopped a judge’s order that granted hundreds of thousands of felons the right to vote, the latest turn in Florida’s battle over voting rights, The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled in favor of state officials and Gov. Ron DeSantis, who asked the court to stop a ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle. He ruled DeSantis and Florida elections officials cannot keep felons from voting if they cannot afford to pay off all court fees, fines, and restitution, finding that the requirement is unconstitutional.

Hawaii Giving Honolulu Ethics Commission More Powers Now in Hands of Voters
Honolulu Star Advertiser – Gordon Y.K. Pang | Published: 7/8/2020

The city council voted unanimously to adopt a resolution that puts a measure on the November ballot to give the Honolulu Ethics Commission the final say over its budget. It has been a thorny issue between mayoral administrations and the commission for years, dating back to when longtime Executive Director Chuck Totto was at the helm and complained about the Department of Corporation Counsel having the final authority over the commission’s staffing and budget.

Illinois Ald. Michele Smith Keeps Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Proposed Change to Lobbying Rules on Indefinite Hold
Chicago Tribune – John Byrne | Published: 7/5/2020

Ald. Michele Smith, chairperson of the city council’s Committee on Ethics and Government Oversight, said she has no plans to call Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s lobbying reform ordinance for a vote. The mayor wants to roll back part of a package the council passed in December. If Lightfoot’s plan passed, elected officials from outside Chicago could again lobby city council, the mayor’s office, and other city government offices, as long as the public body they represent does not have pending or recurring legislative or contractual matters involving the city. Aldermen adopted the stronger regulations last fall as a federal investigation reached into the world of lobbying at the Capitol.

Illinois Aurora Panel Sees No Need for Local Campaign Contribution Limit
Chicago Tribune – Steve Lord (Aurora Beacon-News) | Published: 7/8/2020

An Aurora City Council committee declined to go any further with adding a limit to campaign contributions in the city’s ethics ordinance. A consensus among the five members of the Rules, Administration, and Procedures Committee said they saw no need for the local limit because the state already limits political donations in state election law. The proposal would have limited council members from receiving contributions from people or organizations who have done business with the city.

Louisiana Louisiana’s Cap on Lobbyist Wining and Dining Edges Up a Bit
AP News – Staff | Published: 7/5/2020

Lobbyists in Louisiana can spend a bit more to entertain public officials. The limit on food and drink spending edged up one dollar per person, per occasion. The new limit per person at an event is now $63.

Maine Hemmed in by the Pandemic, Collins Battles for Survival in Maine
Boston Globe – Emily Cochrane (New York Times) | Published: 7/6/2020

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins is facing the toughest re-election race of her career, one that could determine whether Republicans retain control of the chamber in November. After coasting to a fourth term in 2014 with 69 percent of the vote, Collins is now among the Senate’s most endangered incumbents. She is being out-raised by Sara Gideon, the speaker of the Maine House and her likely Democratic opponent, and outside political groups seeking to oust the sole remaining New England Republican in Congress, one of a nearly extinct breed of moderates who once made up a powerful centrist bloc.

Maryland MoCo Employee Admits to Lapses in Ethics; Must Pay $5K Fine
MSN – Alessia Grunberger (Patch) | Published: 7/6/2020

Montgomery County Chief Administrative Officer Andrew Kleine agreed to pay a $5,000 fine in connection to a probe which found he violated county ethics law. The probe stems from his dealings with two private companies prior to his service with the county in 2018. Shortly before becoming the county’s chief administrative officer, Kleine was Baltimore’s budget director. At the time, he worked with two contractors, Balancing Act and Clear Impact LLC.

Massachusetts Judge Clears Way for Former House Speaker Sal DiMasi to Lobby on Beacon Hill
MassLive.com – Matt Murphy (State House News Service) | Published: 7/3/2020

Former Massachusetts House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi won a court ruling allowing him to lobby the state Legislature and executive branch despite his prior criminal conviction. A judge found the statute prohibiting people convicted of certain state crimes from registering as lobbyists did not apply to applicants like DiMasi, who were convicted of federal offenses. Secretary of State William Galvin invoked the law to disqualify DiMasi’s application. DiMasi was convicted in 2011 for using his clout as speaker to steer state contracts to a software company in exchange for $65,000 in payments funneled through a law firm. Galvin’s office argued the state’s ethics law should bar DiMasi from lobbying until 10 years after his conviction.

Michigan Federal Judge Throws Out Republican Lawsuit Against Michigan Redistricting Commission
MLive.com – Malachi Barrett | Published: 7/6/2020

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit backed by Michigan Republicans that attempted to overturn a 2018 ballot measure that changed the process of drawing the state’s political districts. U.S. District Court Judge Janet Neff’s ruling referenced another recent decision by a three-judge panel of the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which unanimously upheld a lower court decision deeming the new law constitutional. Changes to the Michigan Constitution approved by voters gave a new redistricting commission responsibility for drawing legislative district lines after the 2020 election, shifting that power from the Legislature. A 13-member body comprised of four Democrats, four Republicans, and five independents will be assembled later this year.

Montana Lieutenant Governor Fined $1K for Violating Ethics Laws
AP News – Amy Beth Hanson | Published: 7/8/2020

Montana Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney was fined the maximum of $1,000 for violating state ethics laws by participating in a campaign-related video conference call from his state office this spring. Cooney, who is running for governor, has said he participated in a Democratic Governors Association call on his personal laptop in his office at the Capitol because he was on a tight schedule as the state dealt with the coronavirus pandemic. His campaign called it an isolated incident. State law bans public employees from using public time, facilities, or equipment for campaign purposes.

New Jersey COVID-19 Has Changed Trenton Lobbying in Many Ways, from Remote Conversations to Clients’ Priorities
roi-nj.com – Brett Johnson | Published: 6/29/2020

Lobbying in New Jersey has changed since March 9, the date Gov. Phil Murphy declared a public health emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic. David Pascrell, co-chairperson of the government affairs department of law firm Gibbons P.C., said there are a couple of things in the world of lobbying that have made the past few months a “whirlwind” for public affairs professionals. At the same time, public affairs professionals say as a general rule, it has been more difficult to connect with overworked state leaders purely remotely. Sal Anderton, legislative director at Porzio Government Affairs, said the profession has lost one of its most valuable assets – what he calls “shoe-leather lobbying.”

New Jersey NJ Senator Who Was Fired and Investigated by Linden Council Wants to Limit Investigations
Bergen Record – Stacey Barchenger | Published: 7/1/2020

A New Jersey senator fired from his job as a prosecutor in Linden, and who is the focus of an investigation that found he did not show up for work, now wants to limit city council powers to investigate employees. A bill introduced by state Sen. Nicholas Scutari would preempt municipal governing bodies from investigating their own members or former employees, limiting their probers to current employees of the executive branch. Scutari was a municipal court prosecutor at the time he was fired in January 2019. The city’s investigation of his work performance started a month later.

Ohio Toledo Council President Ends Meeting after Charged Members Refuse to Leave
Toledo Blade – Kate Snyder and Sarah Elms | Published: 7/7/2020

The bribery and extortion scandal that has rocked the Toledo City Council threw the body into further chaos when President Matt Cherry abruptly adjourned a meeting because three out of four charged members refused to leave. Cherry said the rest of council did not feel comfortable meeting with any of those who are facing charges in attendance. “You’re innocent until proven guilty, we understand that,” Cherry said, but he explained that citizens of Toledo did not want to see council members who are accused of federal crimes to conduct business for the city.

Pennsylvania Delco Council Gives Preliminary OK to Gift Ban
Delaware County Times – Kathleen Carey | Published: 7/6/2020

The Delaware County Council took a first step towards formalizing a change to the administrative code that could lead to ethics reform. The proposal would prohibit gifts of more than $250 from any person who sought legislative or administrative action from the county in the last 12 months. It would prohibit cash gifts, as well as the solicitation of gifts. There are also a proposed set of exceptions.

Tennessee Registry of Election Financer Reaffirms Towns’ Settlement Penalty
Daily Memphian – Sam Stockard | Published: 7/8/2020

The Tennessee Registry of Election Finance confirmed a $22,000 settlement penalty for campaign reporting violations for state Rep. Joe Towns to sidestep a potential open meetings violation. Registry members also revealed Towns was prepared to file a constitutional challenge questioning whether the group could keep him off the ballot if it did not approve the settlement in a last-minute meeting before the April 2 qualifying deadline at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic.

Washington Seattle City Council Won’t Fulfill Mayor Durkan’s Request to Investigate Sawant, González Says
Seattle Times – Daniel Beekman | Published: 7/1/2020

The Seattle City Council will not fulfill Mayor Jenny Durkan’s request to investigate and potentially expel Councilperson Kshama Sawant for alleged bad behavior. Council President M. Lorena González said she wants the body to concentrate on other work. Durkan asked the council to investigate Sawant for taking part in a Black Lives Matter protest march to Durkan’s home and for several other actions. The mayor accused Sawant of leading the march and mentioned graffiti spray painted at her property; organizers said Sawant was an invited speaker. Sawant characterized Durkan’s move as an attack on the Black Lives Matter movement.

West Virginia Ethics Commission in Transition as Executive Director, Commissioner Exit
Huntington Herald-Dispatch – Phil Kabler (Charleston Gazette-Mail) | Published: 7/5/2020

The West Virginia Ethics Commission accepted the retirement of Executive Director Rebecca Stepto. She took over as head of the commission in 2014, first on an interim basis, following the panel’s firing of then-Executive Director Joan Parker without explanation. Commission Chairperson Robert Wolfe noted Stepto led the commission through tumultuous times, including budget cuts and implementation of 2014 legislation that completely reorganized the agency.

Wisconsin Appeals Court Reverses Wisconsin Voting Restrictions Rulings
AP News – Todd Richmond | Published: 7/6/2020

A federal appeals court panel upheld a host of Republican-authored voting restrictions in Wisconsin, handing conservatives a significant win in a pair of lawsuits just months before residents in the battleground state cast their ballots for president. The three-judge panel found the state can restrict early voting hours and restored a requirement that people must live in a district for 28 days, not 10, before they can vote. The panel also said emailing and faxing absentee ballots is unconstitutional. The court blocked an option to allow people to vote without an ID if they show an affidavit saying they tried to obtain one.

Continue Reading - 31 min read Close

July 9, 2020 •

Thursday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Elections Elections National: “Trump’s Attacks on Mail Voting Are Turning Republicans Off Absentee Ballots” by Amy Gardner and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) for MSN Maine: “Hemmed in by the Pandemic, Collins Battles for Survival in Maine” by Emily Cochrane (New […]

Elections

Elections

National: “Trump’s Attacks on Mail Voting Are Turning Republicans Off Absentee Ballots” by Amy Gardner and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) for MSN

Maine: “Hemmed in by the Pandemic, Collins Battles for Survival in Maine” by Emily Cochrane (New York Times) for Boston Globe

Wisconsin: “Appeals Court Reverses Wisconsin Voting Restrictions Rulings” by Todd Richmond for AP News

Ethics

National: “Facebook’s Own Civil Rights Auditors Said Its Policy Decisions Are a ‘Tremendous Setback’” by Elizabeth Dwoskin and Kat Zakrzewski for Washington Post

California: “Former L.A. Councilman Mitchell Englander Pleads Guilty in City Hall Corruption Case” by David Zahniser and Emily Alpert Reyes for Los Angeles Times

Ohio: “Toledo Council President Ends Meeting after Charged Members Refuse to Leave” by Kate Snyder and Sarah Elms for Toledo Blade

Pennsylvania: “Delco Council Gives Preliminary OK to Gift Ban” by Kathleen Carey for Delaware County Times

Lobbying

Arizona: “Secretary of State: Goldwater Institute attorneys should have registered as lobbyists” by Jeremy Duda for Arizona Mirror

 

Continue Reading - 2 min read Close

July 8, 2020 •

Minnesota Legislature to Hold Another Special Session Beginning July 13

Gov Tim Walz with Ly Gov Peggy Flanagan

Gov Tim Walz, with Lt Gov Peggy Flanagan - by Lorie Shaull

Gov. Tim Walz announced on July 7, he intends to call lawmakers back for an open-ended session beginning July 13. Walz stated the session will coincide with the 30-day extension of the peacetime emergency ending July 12, and added that […]

Gov. Tim Walz announced on July 7, he intends to call lawmakers back for an open-ended session beginning July 13.

Walz stated the session will coincide with the 30-day extension of the peacetime emergency ending July 12, and added that other issues should get top billing.

Walz is obligated by law to call a special session for the Legislature to approve the emergency declaration.

The Senate tried to revoke the governor’s executive power during the first special session ending June 19.

However, the attempt failed because it requires the vote of both chambers.

In the first special session, no deals were reached on legislation both parties said was necessary and everything will be on the agenda again.

The Legislature will determine the length of the session.

Continue Reading - 1 min read Close

July 8, 2020 •

Wednesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Elections National: “Convention Jitters Grip Democrats” by Holly Otterbein for Politico National: “Social Media Platforms Gird for 78 Days of Disinformation Chaos after Election Day” by Gopal Ratnam for Roll Call Florida: “Appeals Court Stops Judge’s Order Granting Florida Felons […]

Elections

National: “Convention Jitters Grip Democrats” by Holly Otterbein for Politico

National: “Social Media Platforms Gird for 78 Days of Disinformation Chaos after Election Day” by Gopal Ratnam for Roll Call

Florida: “Appeals Court Stops Judge’s Order Granting Florida Felons Right to Vote” by Lawrence Mower for Tampa Bay Times

Ethics

National: “Trump’s Worldview Forged by Neglect and Trauma at Home, His Niece Says in New Book” by Shane Harris and Michael Kranish for Washington Post

National: “When Washington Helped Small Business, Washington Was Helped” by Kenneth Vogel for New York Times

Canada: “Ethics Watchdog to Examine Trudeau Over WE Charity Contract, Since Reversed” by Jordan Press (Canadian Press) for MSN

Maryland: “MoCo Employee Admits to Lapses in Ethics; Must Pay $5K Fine” by Alessia Grunberger (Patch) for MSN

Lobbying

California: “Santa Barbara Grand Jury Blasts County Supervisors Over Marijuana Industry” by Joe Mozingo for Los Angeles Times

Redistricting

Michigan: “Federal Judge Throws Out Republican Lawsuit Against Michigan Redistricting Commission” by Malachi Barrett for MLive.com

Continue Reading - 2 min read Close

July 7, 2020 •

Lobbyist Registration and Reporting Not Required During Nevada Special Session

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:James_R._Thompson_Center,_Chicago,_Illinois_(9179428785).jpg

The James R. Thompson Center - Ken Lund

The Nevada Legislative Counsel Bureau sent a notice stating the requirements for registration and reporting of lobbyist activities will not be applicable to the upcoming special session. To prevent potential spread of the coronavirus, access to the legislative building during […]

The Nevada Legislative Counsel Bureau sent a notice stating the requirements for registration and reporting of lobbyist activities will not be applicable to the upcoming special session.

To prevent potential spread of the coronavirus, access to the legislative building during the special session will be limited to legislators, essential staff and a small press pool.

The Legislature’s website and YouTube channel will both host livestreams of all floor sessions and committee meetings.

In addition, the teleconference system will allow individuals to call in to participate in the legislative process.

The Legislators will receive written comments made available through submission by email, fax and mail.

Continue Reading - 1 min read Close

July 7, 2020 •

City of Oakland Launches Online Lobbyist Registration, Reporting System

Oakland, California

Oakland, California - by James BeBop

The Oakland Public Ethics Commission has launched the OAKAPPS Lobbyist Registration and Reporting System. This system allows users to register as an Oakland lobbyist, maintain a client list, enter lobbyist activity, draft disclosure reports, and submit them online. It is […]

The Oakland Public Ethics Commission has launched the OAKAPPS Lobbyist Registration and Reporting System.

This system allows users to register as an Oakland lobbyist, maintain a client list, enter lobbyist activity, draft disclosure reports, and submit them online.

It is available at https://apps.oaklandca.gov/OakApps/OakApps.aspx.

In order to use the system, a user name and password is needed.

For questions about using this new system, please contact the Oakland Public Ethics Commission at ethicscommission@oaklandca.gov or 510-238-3593.

Continue Reading - 1 min read Close
Back to all posts