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.

October 20, 2020 •

Tuesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance Illinois: “Illinois Dems Slam GOP Candidate for Taking Donations from Red-Light Camera Biz – but Madigan’s Ties to Industry Run Deep” by Robert Herguth for Chicago Sun-Times Elections California: “Loops, Slants and Crossed ‘T’s’: How election workers verify […]

Campaign Finance

Illinois: “Illinois Dems Slam GOP Candidate for Taking Donations from Red-Light Camera Biz – but Madigan’s Ties to Industry Run Deep” by Robert Herguth for Chicago Sun-Times

Elections

California: “Loops, Slants and Crossed ‘T’s’: How election workers verify voter signatures” by John Wilkens for San Diego Union Tribune

Michigan: “Michigan Appeals Court Reinstates Election Day Mail-In Ballot Deadline as Early Voting Surge Continues” by Elise Viebeck, John Glionna, and Douglas Moser for Washington Post

Ethics

National: “Full Federal Appeals Court in D.C. to Weigh House Subpoena to Ex-White House Counsel Donald McGahn” by Spencer Hsu for Washington Post

National: “Supreme Court Tees Up Census Case Over Whether Trump Can Exclude Undocumented Immigrants” by Steven Shepard for Politico

National: “On the Job and On the Stump, Cabinet Officials Flout Hatch Act” by Stephen Lee, Megan Boyanton, Andrew Kreigbaum, Shaun Courtney, and Alex Ruoff for Bloomberg Law

Kansas: “Wichita Man Arrested for Allegedly Threatening to Kidnap and Kill Mayor Over City’s Mask Mandate, Police Say” by Timothy Bella for Washington Post

New Mexico: “NM Investment Scandal Winds Down” by Mike Gallagher for Albuquerque Journal

Ohio: “Indicted Lobbyist Caims Jay Edwards Is ‘Representative 8’ in HB6 Affidavit, Report Says” by Ben Peters for Athens News

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October 19, 2020 •

Minnesota Legislature’s Fifth Special Session Ends

Gov Tim Walz with Ly Gov Peggy Flanagan

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

Lawmakers adjourned the fifth special session of the Legislature on October 15 after passing four bills. This included the bonding bill, which requires a three-fifths supermajority in each house to pass. Gov. Tim Walz called the session to extend the […]

Lawmakers adjourned the fifth special session of the Legislature on October 15 after passing four bills.

This included the bonding bill, which requires a three-fifths supermajority in each house to pass.

Gov. Tim Walz called the session to extend the COVID-19 peacetime emergency by 30 days.

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

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October 19, 2020 •

Monday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance Oregon: “Oregon Public Employee Unions, Interest Groups Launch Neutral-Looking Election Website to Sway Voters” by Hillary Borrud for Portland Oregonian Elections Florida: “Florida Acts to Remove Felons from Voter Rolls as Election Looms” by Gary Fineout for Politico […]

Campaign Finance

Oregon: “Oregon Public Employee Unions, Interest Groups Launch Neutral-Looking Election Website to Sway Voters” by Hillary Borrud for Portland Oregonian

Elections

Florida: “Florida Acts to Remove Felons from Voter Rolls as Election Looms” by Gary Fineout for Politico

Ethics

National: “Twitter Changes Policy That Blocked a New York Post Story About Biden’s Son” by Elizabeth Dwoskin for Washington Post

National: “White House Was Warned Giuliani Was Target of Russian Intelligence Operation to Feed Misinformation to Trump” by Shane Harris, Ellen Nakashima, Greg Miller, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) for MSN

Illinois: “Cook County Commissioner Is Part Owner of and Worked for a Cannabis License Applicant, Which Critics Say She Should Have Disclosed Sooner” by Robert McCoppin for Chicago Tribune

Kentucky: “Ethics Problems in Kentucky County Government? Many Have No Ethics Boards to Look.” by Bill Estep (Lexington Herald-Leader) for MSN

Maryland: “Maryland Lawmakers Issue Subpoena to Hogan’s Former Chief of Staff Over Six-Figure Payout” by Pamela Wood for Baltimore Sun

Lobbying

National: “Lobbyists Face Challenges Meeting Newly Elected Lawmakers in November” by Alex Gangitano for The Hill

Canada: “Supreme Court Declines to Hear Appeal in Aga Khan Lobbying Case” by Jim Bronskill (Canadian Press) for CTV

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October 16, 2020 •

Yukon Lobbyist Registry Accepting Registrations

Yukon Legislature

Yukon Legislature

On October 15, the Canadian territory of Yukon’s new and first lobbying law came into force with the online Yukon Lobbyist Registry becoming live. Bill No. 23, the Lobbyists Registration Act, received Royal Assent on November 22, 2018, but only […]

On October 15, the Canadian territory of Yukon’s new and first lobbying law came into force with the online Yukon Lobbyist Registry becoming live. Bill No. 23, the Lobbyists Registration Act, received Royal Assent on November 22, 2018, but only came into effect this year.

Consultant lobbyists and in-house lobbyists are required to register. Registration is required for individuals communicating with a public office holder, directly or through grassroots communications, in attempts to lobby. Additionally, a consultant lobbyist is required to register when arranging a meeting between a public office holder and any other person for the purposes covered by the Act.

There are two revolving door provisions in the Act. For the six-month period after ceasing to be in office, a former public office-holder is prohibited from lobbying as a consultant lobbyist, but he or she is not prohibited from immediately lobbying as an in-house lobbyist. Additionally, a consultant lobbyist is prohibited from becoming an employee of Yukon’s public service for six months after terminating her or her lobbyist registration. Penalties for violations of the Lobbyists Registration Act include fines up to $25,000 for the first violation and up to $100,000 for each subsequent violation.

As of October 16, the lobbyist registry does not have any registered lobbyists.

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October 16, 2020 •

News You Can Use Digest – October 16, 2020

News You Can Use

National/Federal As U.S. Politics Heats Up, Companies Seek to Avoid Controversy Reuters – Jessica DiNapoli | Published: 10/13/2020 A record number of U.S. companies are either banning political spending or making sure they disclose it, as they seek to steer clear […]

National/Federal

As U.S. Politics Heats Up, Companies Seek to Avoid Controversy
Reuters – Jessica DiNapoli | Published: 10/13/2020

A record number of U.S. companies are either banning political spending or making sure they disclose it, as they seek to steer clear of controversy ahead of the November 3 election, a new study found. While many American corporations donate to candidates and campaigns, some do not disclose it. This can put them in the crosshairs of customers and suppliers who can accuse them of a lack of transparency. The Center for Political Accountability found 332 companies in the S&P 500 prohibited some kind of political spending, like funding political committees, or disclosed some or all of their election-related spending in 2020, up roughly nine percent from 2016.

As Virus Spread, Reports of Trump Administration’s Private Briefings Fueled Sell-Off
New York Times – Kate Kelly and Mark Mazzetti | Published: 10/14/2020

On the day President Trump declared the coronavirus was “very much under control,” senior members of the president’s economic team, privately addressing board members of the Hoover Institution, were less confident. Tomas Philipson, an economic adviser to the president, told the group he could not yet estimate the effects of the virus on the American economy. To some in the group, the implication was that an outbreak could prove worse than administration advisers were signaling in public. A hedge fund consultant’s assessment of the meeting spread through parts of the investment world and traders spotted the immediate significance: the president’s aides appeared to be giving wealthy party donors an early warning of a potentially impactful contagion at a time when Trump was publicly insisting the threat was nonexistent.

Court Tells FEC to Take Action on Complaint Against Dark Money Group Tied to Joni Ernst
The Gazete – James Lynch | Published: 10/14/2020

A U.S. District Court judge entered a default judgment against the FEC, ordering it to act on a complaint involving a so-called dark money group tied to U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst’s campaign. The complaint was brought by the Campaign Legal Center, which told the court the FEC had failed to take action on its complaint that Ernst’s campaign had illegally coordinated with Iowa Values, a political nonprofit backing the senator. Candidates and outside groups are prohibited from coordinating their political activities. The FEC generally has not enforced coordination rules, allowing for the proliferation of super PACs and nonprofit groups tied to party leaders and individual candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Facebook to Temporarily Halt Political Ads in U.S. After Polls Close Nov. 3, Broadening Earlier Restrictions
Washington Post – Elizabeth Dwoskin | Published: 10/7/2020

Facebook said it plans to temporarily suspend all political and issue-based advertising after polls close November 3, a move the company said was intended to limit confusion, misinformation, and abuse of its services in the days after the presidential election. Facebook also said it would remove calls for people to watch the polls when those posts use militaristic or intimidating language. Executives said the policy applies to anyone, including President Trump and other officials. Trump has made calls for people to engage in poll-watching, and Donald Trump Jr. appeared in an ad urging people to “defend your ballot” and join an “army” to protect the polls.

Fake Twitter Accounts Posing as Black Trump Supporters Appear, Reach Thousands, Then Vanish
Washington Post – Craig Timberg and Isaac Stanley-Becker | Published: 10/13/2020

An account featuring the image of a Black police officer, President Trump, and the words “VOTE REPUBLICAN” had a brief but spectacular run on Twitter. In six days after it became active, it tweeted just eight times but garnered 24,000 followers, with its most popular tweet being liked 75,000 times. Then, on days later, the account was suspended by Twitter for breaking its rules against platform manipulation. The reach of @CopJrCliff and other fake accounts from supposed Black Trump supporters highlights how an account can be effective at pushing misleading narratives in just a few days – faster than Twitter can take it down.

Longtime GOP Fundraiser Elliott Broidy Charged with Acting as a Foreign Agent, Is Likely to Plead Guilty
Seattle Times – Matt Zapotosky (Washington Post) | Published: 10/8/2020

Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy was charged in a criminal information with conspiring to act as a foreign agent as he lobbied the Trump administration on behalf of Malaysian and Chinese interests, an indication he is likely to soon plead guilty in the case to resolve the allegations against him. Prosecutors outlined how they believe he took millions of dollars in undisclosed money to end a U.S. investigation into Malaysian corruption and, separately, to return outspoken Chinese exile Guo Wengui to his home country. Prosecutors said Broidy and others orchestrated “back-channel, unregistered campaigns” to influence the administration, though their efforts were ultimately unsuccessful.

New Justice Dept. Election Fraud Guidance Could Allow Boosting of Trump’s Exaggerated Claims, Legal Observers Say
MSN – Matt Zapotosky (Washington Post) | Published: 10/7/2020

The Justice Department issued guidance giving federal prosecutors more leeway to take public action on suspected election fraud before ballots are in, a move some legal analysts worry could foreshadow an effort to bolster President Trump’s exaggerated claims of fraud via mail-in voting. The guidance detailed what it called an “exception to the general non-interference with elections policy,” which discourages prosecutors from taking overt steps in fraud investigations until all ballots are counted and certified. Critics say Trump and Attorney General William Barr seem to be working in concert to undermine public confidence in the election result, and the newly issued guidance could aid in that effort – allowing prosecutors to publicize cases of suspected fraud they previously would have been barred from discussing.

NYT: Vegas connections helped Trump engineer $21M windfall during 2016 race
The Hill – Naomi Jagoda | Published: 10/9/2020

Donald Trump’s tax records reveal he engineered a windfall of more than $21 million during his 2016 presidential run, The New York Times reported. A hotel Trump owns with casino mogul Phil Ruffin in Las Vegas made payments to several companies Trump controlled, and that money then flowed to the president himself. The hotel wrote off the payments as a business expense, The Times said. The newspaper reported that the payments came at a time when Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign needed funds and many of his businesses were losing money. The tax records do not indicate whether the payments helped Trump’s campaign, his businesses, or both, the newspaper said.

Sonny Perdue Faces Ethics Questions Over His Business Holdings
Politico – Ryan McCrimmon | Published: 10/15/2020

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue pledged in 2017 to separate himself from his multimillion-dollar business holdings that could pose conflicts-of-interest in his public duties. But last year, he disclosed he had become trustee of a newly formed fund that includes many of the same assets as his original family trust. Watchdog organizations are now calling for the Agriculture Department’s inspector general to investigate whether Perdue has run afoul of the ethics agreement he signed as a nominee for the job early in the Trump administration. The commitments entailed moving his holdings into a new trust and agreeing not to serve as a trustee or beneficiary of the fund.

Supreme Court Halts Census in Latest Twist of 2020 Count
Associated Press News – Mike Schneider | Published: 10/14/2020

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Trump administration can end census field operations early, in a blow to efforts to make sure minorities and hard-to-enumerate communities are properly counted in the crucial once-a-decade tally. Plaintiffs in a lawsuit managed to get nearly two extra weeks of counting people as the case made its way through the courts. But the ruling increased the chances of the administration retaining control of the process that decides how many congressional seats each state gets, and by extension how much voting power each state has.

Supreme Court Won’t Revive Congressional Emoluments Case Against Trump
Washington Post – Robert Barnes and Ann Marimow | Published: 10/13/2020

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to revive an attempt by Democratic members of Congress to sue President Trump over his private businesses accepting payments from foreign governments. Without comment, the justices let stand a decision by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to dismiss the lawsuit filed by 215 members of Congress. Their novel lawsuit sought to enforce the Constitution’s anti-corruption emoluments provision. A unanimous panel of the appeals court said the individual members did not have legal standing to take the president to court.

The Mystery of a GOP Congressman’s Seemingly Rent-Free Campaign Office
Politico – Daniel Newhauser | Published: 10/9/2020

For at least seven years, U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn appears to have enjoyed rent-free use of a campaign office supplied by a political donor, which would be a clear violation of federal election law that comes amid mounting scrutiny of his finances. In dozens of filings with the FEC, Hagedorn has listed a basement suite in a downtown Mankato, Minnesota, building as his campaign’s headquarters. But election spending records show Hagedorn has reported no payments for the use of that space over the course of the past four elections he has run to represent Minnesota’s First Congressional District, including his current race. Ethics experts expressed skepticism with Hagedorn’s actions.

Trump Taps U.S. Marine Band for White House Event and Raises Questions About Employing the Military for Political Purposes
Washington Post – Paul Sonne | Published: 10/11/2020

When President Trump, recovering from COVID-19, welcomed hundreds of people to what resembled a campaign rally on the White House grounds, the guests filed onto the South Lawn past a military band in resplendent red, its horns blasting the tune “America” from “West Side Story.” The use of the United States Marine Band for a de facto political rally marked another instance of the president pushing the boundaries of U.S. law and the military tradition of political neutrality. Federal regulations bar the use of government resources for, and the coercion of federal employees into, political activities aimed at a candidate’s reelection, and taxpayer-funded military bands cannot be used for campaign events.

Trump’s Children Brought Secret Service Money to the Family Business with Their Visits, Records Show
MSN – David Fahrenthold, Joshua Partlow, and Carol Leonnig (Washington Post) | Published: 10/12/2020

President Trump’s adult children and their families have caused the U.S. government to spend at least $238,000 at Trump properties so far, according to Secret Service records. Government ethics experts say nothing is wrong with Trump’s children seeking protection from the Secret Service. But, they said, the Trump Organization’s decision to charge for the agents’ rooms created a situation in which, just by traveling, Trump’s children could bring taxpayer money to their family’s business. That, ethics experts said, could create the appearance that Trump family members were exploiting their publicly funded protection for private financial gain.

‘Unmasking’ Probe Commissioned by Barr Concludes Without Charges or Any Public Report
MSN – Matt Zapotosky and Shane Harris (Washington Post) | Published: 10/13/2020

The federal prosecutor appointed by Attorney General William Barr to review whether Obama-era officials improperly requested the identities of individuals whose names were redacted in intelligence documents has completed his work without finding any substantive wrongdoing. The Justice Department has so far declined to release the results of U.S. Attorney John Bash’s work, though people familiar with his findings say they would likely disappoint conservatives who have tried to paint the “unmasking” of names, a common practice in government to help understand classified documents, as a political conspiracy.

With Election Day Looming, Twitter Imposes New Limits on U.S. Politicians – and Ordinary Users, Too
Seattle Times – Elizabeth Dwoskin and Craig Timberg (Washington Post) | Published: 10/9/2020

Twitter will impose new warnings on politicians’ lies, restrict premature declarations of victory, and block calls for polling violence or other disruptions, the company announced as it rolled out wide-ranging changes designed to harden the platform against abuse related to the U.S. election on November 3. The moves also will temporarily alter the look and feel of Twitter. Retweeting others, for example, will require an extra step designed to encourage users to add their own thoughts before posting. Recommendations and trends will get new curbs intended to prevent abuse. The policy changes are the culmination of years of revisions intended to prevent a repeat of 2016’s electoral debacle on social media, when disinformation, false news reports, and Russian interference rampaged virtually unchecked across all major platforms.

From the States and Municipalities

Alaska Alaska Absentee Witness Requirements Scrapped for Election
Associated Press News – Becky Bohrer | Published: 10/13/2020

The Alaska Supreme Court affirmed a lower court ruling eliminating witness requirements for absentee ballots for the general election. Superior Court Judge Dani Crosby had ruled enforcement of the witness requirements during the coronavirus pandemic “impermissibly burdens the right to vote.” She waited to put the order into effect, to allow the Supreme Court to weigh in. The case was brought by the Arctic Village Council, League of Women Voters of Alaska, and two individuals. Their attorneys have argued the witness requirement is unconstitutional during the pandemic and a bar to voting for those who do not live with someone who is at least 18 and able to serve as a witness.

California Arcadia Subsidiary of Chinese Company to Pay $1 Million Fine in LA City Hall Bribery Scandal
Los Angeles Daily Breeze – City News Service | Published: 10/7/2020

The subsidiary of a China-based real estate company agreed to pay $1.05 million to resolve a probe into its involvement in the Los Angeles City Hall corruption scandal. Jia Yuan USA Co. will pay the penalty and continue cooperating with the federal government in its probe of city Councilperson Jose Huizar and other figures. A Jia Yuan employee provided Huizar with Katy Perry concert tickets after he and former Deputy Mayor Ray Chan helped resolve an issue involving compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Jia Yuan also admitted providing in-kind campaign contributions to several U.S. political candidates by hosting reduced-cost fundraising events. Some of those events took place at the direction of a foreign national barred from participating in American elections, investigators said.

California California Officials Say GOP’s Ballot Boxes Are Illegal. Republicans May Expand the Practice
Los Angeles Times – Stephanie Lai and Sarah Parvini | Published: 10/13/2020

In recent weeks, gray metal containers labeled as ballot drop boxes have been placed at various locations – including gun shops, shooting ranges, churches, and Republican Party offices – in several California counties. State GOP officials acknowledged responsibility for the boxes and have rejected allegations of wrongdoing, in defiance of what the state’s top election official and attorney general say is an illegal practice. At the center of the battle are questions of whether it is legal to collect ballots through third party boxes and what constitutes an “official” ballot drop box.

California Ex-Director of Coliseum Authority Takes Plea Deal in Stadium Naming Rights Case; Avoids Jail Time
San Jose Mercury News – David Debolt | Published: 10/13/2020

Former Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority Executive Director Scott McKibben, who was criminally charged with violating state law by seeking payment from RingCentral for negotiating a stadium naming rights contract, took a plea deal and by doing so avoided trial and possible jail time. Prosecutors alleged McKibben violated the law because he sought a $50,000 payment from RingCentral as part of a $3 million deal to rename the ballpark “RingCentral Coliseum.” The law prohibits public officials from having a financial interest in contracts made by them in their official capacity. McKibben will serve three years’ probation and take an ethics course. Judge Kevin Murphy will decide how much McKibben should pay the stadium authority.

Colorado Colorado Voters to Decide Whether to Pull Out of National Popular Vote Effort
Denver Post – John Aguilar | Published: 10/11/2020

State lawmakers decided last year that Colorado should join 14 other state and Washington, D.C. in the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which pledges their Electoral College votes to the presidential candidate who gets the most raw votes nationwide. On November 3, Coloradans will get the chance to affirm or reject that decision when they vote on Proposition 113, which was put on the ballot by opponents of the movement. A “yes” vote keeps the state in the compact, while a “no” vote maintains the system Colorado has used for decades to choose a president, in which the candidate with the most statewide support gets its nine Electoral College votes.

Florida Federal Judge Denies Request to Extend Florida Voter Registration Deadline
Tampa Bay Times – Allison Ross | Published: 10/9/2020

A federal judge rejected calls by several voting rights groups that Florida should further extend its voter registration deadline following repeated outages to the state’s online on the last day people could sign up to vote in the November 3 election. U.S. District Court Judge Mark Walker said “Florida’s interest in preventing chaos in its already precarious and perennially chaotic election” outweighed the concern of potentially thousands of Floridians being unable to cast ballots in the general election. The state had argued reopening the voter registration deadline could mean Floridians who registered during that later time may have to cast provisional ballots if counties cannot update their voter rolls in time, and extending the deadline could cause voter confusion and other issues.

Florida Prominent Lobbyist Didn’t Disclose Calls to Orlando Airport Board Members, Violating Policy
Orlando Sentinel – Jason Garcia | Published: 10/14/2020

Under the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority’s policies, lobbyists are supposed to publicly disclose meetings with board members within seven days. But Christina Daly Brodeur, a lobbyist at Ballard Partners, did not reveal she called four members of the board that runs Orlando International Airport on behalf of a client until nearly three months later, after The Orlando Sentinel requested records related to the firm’s work at the airport. Authority leaders, however, say they do not plan to act. “… She self-reported and became compliant and … there’s nothing further we can do,” said Dan Gerber, the authority’s general counsel. Some government-transparency advocates criticized the lack of consequences.

Georgia Common Cause Calls for Investigation of Georgia Ethics Commission’s Conflict of Interest Policies
WAGA – Dale Russell | Published: 10/9/2020

A good government group is calling on Georgia’s ethics commission to investigate its own policies regarding how commission members handle potential conflicts-of-interest. The rules for deciding when a member should recuse themselves are confusing. Commission Chairperson Jake Evans says a commission policy gives him the authority to order a member to recuse themselves. But he follows a state attorney general’s opinion from 1989 to let members decide for themselves whether they have a conflict.

Hawaii Ballot Questions Could Bolster Ethics Watchdog’s Staffing and Spending
Honolulu Civil Beat – Chad Blair | Published: 10/11/2020

The Honolulu Ethics Commission could enjoy greater autonomy over its budget should voters grant them that ability in November. Voters are also being asked whether the commission should also be granted more flexibility to hire and retain staff. Commission Chairperson Victoria Marks said passage of the charter amendments would give the agency greater flexibility to describe positions, and hire and retain the specialized staff that she said it needs “to grow and strengthen the city’s ethics and lobbyist programs.” Marks said the amendments would provide the commission “with budget flexibility and greater autonomy” from the city administration.

Illinois Aldermen Reject Lightfoot’s Proposal to Ease Ban on Lobbying by Elected Officials
WTTW – Heather Cherone | Published: 10/13/2020

Aldermen rejected Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s ordinance that would have rolled back part of tougher City Hall lobbying rules for elected officials the city council passed last year. It would have once again allowed elected officials from outside Chicago to lobby the mayor, aldermen, and other city government agencies on behalf of private clients, as long as the public body they represent does not have pending or recurring legislative or contractual matters involving Chicago. With federal investigators probing lobbying practices in Springfield and past City Hall scandals tied to lobbying infractions, aldermen said it was not the time to walk back the stricter requirements.

Minnesota Federal Judge Upholds Minnesota’s Deadline Extension for Counting Ballots
National Public Radio – Jason Slotkin | Published: 10/12/2020

A federal judge upheld Minnesota’s seven-day deadline extension for counting mail-in ballots after it was challenged by a pair of Republicans. Minnesota extended its deadline for receiving mail-in ballots after voting rights groups raised concerns the state’s previous deadline could disenfranchise voters as the state receives an unprecedented amount of absentee ballots. In past elections, absentee ballots would only be counted if received by eight p.m. on Election Day. A state court agreement reached with Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon allowed ballots postmarked by Election Day to be counted if received within seven days.

New York Trump Again Asks Supreme Court to Block Subpoena for His Tax Records
New York Times – Charlie Savage | Published: 10/13/2020

Personal lawyers for President Trump, seeking to appeal their case to the U.S. Supreme Court for the second time in less than a year, asked the justices to delay a ruling that would allow Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. To obtain Trump’s financial records. In an “emergency” application, Trump’s legal team told the court that a U.S. District Court judge was wrong to rule Vance had a legal right to subpoena the materials and an appeals court panel in New York was wrong to uphold that decision. The request for intervention marks a return for the case. In July, the high court ruled the fact that Trump was the sitting president did not make him absolutely immune from criminal investigation, as his legal team had argued.

New York Trump Got a $21 Million Tax Break for Saving the Forest Outside His N.Y. Mansion. Now the Deal Is Under Investigation.
MSN – Joshua Partlow, Jonathan O’Connell, and David Fahrenthold (Washington Post) | Published: 10/9/2020

Donald Trump received a tax break of $21.1 million five years ago after promising to preserve 150 acres of woodlands in New York state. The amount of the tax break was set by a 2016 appraisal that valued Seven Springs at $56.6 million, more than double the value assessed by the three Westchester County towns that each contained a piece of the property. New York Attorney General Letitia James is investigating whether the Trump Organization improperly inflated the value of the land. The appraisal appears to have relied on unsupported assertions and misleading conclusions that boosted the value of Trump’s charitable gift and his tax break. The appraisal was written by Cushman & Wakefield, a real estate firm that has worked with Trump over many years and whose headquarters are in a building co-owned by Trump.

North Carolina A Legal Fight Over How to Fix Ballot Errors in North Carolina Has Left Thousands of Voters in Limbo – Nearly Half People of Color
Washington Post – Elise Viebeck | Published: 10/12/2020

A dispute over how North Carolina voters should correct problems with their mail ballots remains unresolved, leaving at least 6,800 votes – including more than 3,300 ballots from people of color – in limbo across a key presidential battleground state. The legal fight intensified after the state Board of Elections said in September it would allow voters to “cure,” or fix, deficiencies in their mail ballots by completing and returning an affidavit to county election officials. The affidavit would neutralize a range of voter errors that could lead to ballots being tossed, including failure to provide a witness signature. ballots being tossed, including failure to provide a witness signature. But a federal judge put the plan on hold October 3, arguing it changed the rules too close to Election Day.

Oregon City of Portland Lawyers Won’t Defend Auditor in Legal Appeals of Mayor’s Campaign Violations, City Council Says
Portland Oregonian – Everton Bailey Jr. | Published: 10/14/2020

The Portland City Council refused a request from the city auditor for city lawyers to represent her in lawsuits filed by Mayor Ted Wheeler’s campaign, citing the city attorney’s assertion it would be an ethical violation and a conflict-of-interest. Auditor Mary Hull Caballero argued before the vote that Wheeler’s campaign is not a client of the city attorney’s office and she fined the campaign through her capacity as a Portland elected official who oversees the city elections process. She noted city lawyers already represent her in other elections-related lawsuits, including one filed on behalf of mayoral challenger Sarah Iannarone about Wheeler’s campaign.

Pennsylvania Judge Throws Out Trump Campaign’s Pennsylvania Lawsuit
Associated Press News – Marc Levy | Published: 10/10/2020

A federal judge in Pennsylvania threw out a lawsuit filed by President Trump’s campaign, dismissing its challenges to the battleground state’s poll-watching law and its efforts to limit how mail-in ballots can be collected and which of them can be counted. The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan, who was appointed by Trump, also poured cold water on the president’s claims that Pennsylvania is fertile ground for election fraud. Trump’s campaign said it would appeal at least one element of the decision.

Pennsylvania Pennsylvania House Insurance Committee Chairwoman Reaps Big Harvest of Campaign Contributions from Insurance Industry
Allentown Morning Call – Ford Turner | Published: 10/9/2020

State Rep. Tina Pickett, whose position in Harrisburg gives her enormous authority over what happens to proposed insurance laws, has more cash in her political campaign account than any of her 201 colleagues in the Pennsylvania House, thanks in large part to the insurance industry. A review of hundreds of campaign finance reports showed Pickett’s $268,546.49 cash balance in late May was inflated by a years-long influx of insurance industry cash that began when Pickett became chairperson of the House Insurance Committee in 2013. Experts say the contributions are made to curry favor.

Rhode Island A Chaotic Campaign Helped Save Rhode Island’s House Speaker in 2016. Now It Threatens to End His Political Career
Boston Globe – Dan McGowan and Edward Fitzpatrick | Published: 10/13/2020

The criminal trial of Jeffrey Britt, a former campaign consultant to Rhode Island House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, was meant to determine whether Britt laundered $2,000 to help pay for a postcard mailer designed to boost Mattiello during that 2016 campaign. But it also offered a rare glimpse into the win-at-all-costs culture of politics, as witnesses detailed the strategies employed to help defeat Steven Frias. Those tactics included surveillance conducted on Frias by a private investigator who was seeking a state job, a mail-ballot operation run by an operative who had previous tours of political duty with some of the state’s most corrupt politicians, and the mailer that Britt orchestrated to try to convince a handful of Republicans to back the Democrat in the race. Mattiello won the race by 85 votes, a margin where almost any maneuver could have tipped the scales in the speaker’s favor.

Texas Appeals Court OKs Texas Governor’s Order to Limit Drop Off Locations for Absentee Ballots
NBC News – Rachel Elbaum | Published: 10/13/2020

A federal appeals court panel upheld Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s order to shut down dozens of mail ballot drop-off sites weeks before November’s election. The ruling comes after a federal judge halted the order, which allowed for only one absentee ballot drop off location for every county, regardless of its size. The Texas secretary of state had argued Abbott’s order was part of a 40-day expansion of Texans’ absentee voting opportunities put in place because of Covid-19 that went beyond what state election rules normally permit. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit said it agreed with her.

Virginia Inside the Utility Company Lobbying Blitz That Will Hike Electric Bills
ProPublica – Patrick Wilson (Richmond Times-Dispatch) | Published: 10/9/2020

When Democrats campaigned for seats in the Virginia Legislature last year, they took aim at the state’s largest power broker: Dominion Energy. The electric utility’s clout was legendary at the Capitol, where it doled out millions of dollars in campaign contributions and employed an army of lobbyists who helped write energy policy for decades. The result was soaring electricity bills and an energy grid heavily reliant on fossil fuels. Democrats vowed to change that. But Dominion fought back and ended up as a winner in a bill intended to diminish its influence. By doubling the size of its lobbying corps and tapping its long-standing relationships with legislative leaders and Gov. Ralph Northam, the utility secured the right to build its top priority – a massive offshore wind farm set to be the most expensive utility project in Virginia history.

Virginia Men in Alleged Kidnapping Plot Also Considered Targeting Virginia Governor, FBI Says
National Public Radio – Bill Chappell and Ryan Lucas | Published: 10/13/2020

Two of the men accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer took part in a discussions earlier this year with members of self-styled militia groups about potentially abducting Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, an FBI agent testified. Special Agent Richard Trask did not say whether any of the attendees ultimately took any action toward potentially targeting Northam, and no one has been charged with any threats against him. Whitmer and Northam, both Democrats, have faced resistance in their respective states to measures they’ have taken to try to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Virginia Va. Congressional Candidate Reported No Assets. His Amended Disclosure Shows He Holds Dozens of Stocks.
Washington Post – Meagan Flynn | Published: 10/9/2020

After previously disclosing owning zero financial assets, Virginia congressional candidate Bob Good filed an amended financial disclosure showing he holds dozens of stocks, including in two companies that had business before the Campbell County Board of Supervisors when Good served on the panel. He now reports between $213,000 and $1.65 million in assets and unearned income. Virginia law requires local and state lawmakers to disclose their personal economic interests in forms filed with the Virginia Conflict of Interest and Ethics Advisory Council.

Washington Port of Tacoma, Others Agree to Fine in Save Tacoma Water Campaign Finance Case
MSN – Alexid Krell (Tacoma News-Tribune) | Published: 10/12/2020

The Port of Tacoma, the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce, and the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County agreed to pay a civil penalty for violating campaign finance law while fighting initiatives that were trying to limit industrial development on the Tideflats. They will pay a $34,000 fine, with $17,000 suspended. The case stemmed from efforts by a group called Save Tacoma Water following citizen opposition to a proposed methanol plant. Activist Arthur West complained the three groups violated campaign finance law in their effort.

Washington Twitter to Pay $100k to Washington State in Settlement Over Political Ad Disclosure Violations
GeekWire – Todd Bishop | Published: 10/13/2020

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Twitter agreed to pay $100,000 for failing to maintain records related to ads that ran from 2012 through 2019, when Twitter banned political advertising. Companies are required to maintain records about who paid for ads, when they ran, how much they cost, and the name of the candidate or measure supported or opposed. Twitter failed to maintain the required records for at least 38 Washington candidates and committees that reported paying $194,550 for political advertising on its platform.

Wisconsin Federal Appeals Court Blocks Extension for Wisconsin Ballot Returns
Politico – Zach Montellaro and Josh Gerstein | Published: 10/8/2020

Federal judges blocked a lower court’s order extending the deadline for returning mail ballots in Wisconsin, requiring that absentee ballots be in the hands of election officials by the time the polls close on Election Day. A three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of staying the lower court’s order, which would have allowed for ballots postmarked by Election Day to be received by November 9, six days later, in order to be counted. The stay also suspended an order extending the deadline for online and mailed-in voter registration from October 14 to October 21, and it stopped potential electronic delivery of certain ballots.

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October 15, 2020 •

Thursday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance Washington: “Port of Tacoma, Others Agree to Fine in Save Tacoma Water Campaign Finance Case” by Alexid Krell (Tacoma News-Tribune) for MSN Elections National: “Fake Twitter Accounts Posing as Black Trump Supporters Appear, Reach Thousands, Then Vanish” by […]

Campaign Finance

Washington: “Port of Tacoma, Others Agree to Fine in Save Tacoma Water Campaign Finance Case” by Alexid Krell (Tacoma News-Tribune) for MSN

Elections

National: “Fake Twitter Accounts Posing as Black Trump Supporters Appear, Reach Thousands, Then Vanish” by Craig Timberg and Isaac Stanley-Becker for Washington Post

Ethics

National: “Supreme Court Won’t Revive Congressional Emoluments Case Against Trump” by Robert Barnes and Ann Marimow for Washington Post

National: “‘Unmasking’ Probe Commissioned by Barr Concludes Without Charges or Any Public Report” by Matt Zapotosky and Shane Harris (Washington Post) for MSN

California: “Ex-Director of Coliseum Authority Takes Plea Deal in Stadium Naming Rights Case; Avoids Jail Time” by David Debolt for San Jose Mercury News

New York: “Trump Again Asks Supreme Court to Block Subpoena for His Tax Records” by Charlie Savage for New York Times

Virginia: “Men in Alleged Kidnapping Plot Also Considered Targeting Virginia Governor, FBI Says” by Bill Chappell and Ryan Lucas for National Public Radio

Lobbying

Florida: “Prominent Lobbyist Didn’t Disclose Calls to Orlando Airport Board Members, Violating Policy” by Jason Garcia for Orlando Sentinel

Illinois: “Aldermen Reject Lightfoot’s Proposal to Ease Ban on Lobbying by Elected Officials” by Heather Cherone for WTTW

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October 14, 2020 •

Proposed Exceptions to Chicago Cross-Lobbying Ordinance Unanimously Rejected

Chicago City Hall

Chicago City Hall - Ken Lund

In a recent vote, Chicago City Council’s Committee on Ethics and Government Oversight unanimously rejected an ordinance. Introduced by Mayor Lori Lightfoot in April, this would amend a previously passed amendment. The ordinance passed unanimously by City Council 10 months […]

In a recent vote, Chicago City Council’s Committee on Ethics and Government Oversight unanimously rejected an ordinance.

Introduced by Mayor Lori Lightfoot in April, this would amend a previously passed amendment.

The ordinance passed unanimously by City Council 10 months ago prohibits cross-lobbying.

This would include City Council or any city agency, department, board, or commission by elected officials from the Illinois General Assembly or any unit of local government in the state.

The proposed amendment added an exception to permit lobbying by lobbyists with no current contractual or legislative dealings with the city.

The committee voted 16-0 not to send the measure to the full council.

The BOE announced last month it would begin enforcing Ordinance 2-156-309 on October 1, as no action had been taken.

In addressing the committee today, Executive Director Steven Berlin stated the ordinance is historic.

He goes on to explain there are no other jurisdictions in the United States prohibiting both their own officials and employees from lobbying on behalf of private clients anywhere, while also prohibiting elected officials from other jurisdictions from lobbying the city on behalf of private clients.

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October 14, 2020 •

Wednesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance National: “As U.S. Politics Heats Up, Companies Seek to Avoid Controversy” by Jessica DiNapoli for Reuters Rhode Island: “A Chaotic Campaign Helped Save Rhode Island’s House Speaker in 2016. Now It Threatens to End His Political Career” by […]

Campaign Finance

National: “As U.S. Politics Heats Up, Companies Seek to Avoid Controversy” by Jessica DiNapoli for Reuters

Rhode Island: “A Chaotic Campaign Helped Save Rhode Island’s House Speaker in 2016. Now It Threatens to End His Political Career” by Dan McGowan and Edward Fitzpatrick for Boston Globe

Washington: “Twitter to Pay $100k to Washington State in Settlement Over Political Ad Disclosure Violations” by Todd Bishop for GeekWire

Elections

Alaska: “Alaska Absentee Witness Requirements Scrapped for Election” by Becky Bohrer for Associated Press News

Minnesota: “Federal Judge Upholds Minnesota’s Deadline Extension for Counting Ballots” by Jason Slotkin for National Public Radio

Texas: “Appeals Court OKs Texas Governor’s Order to Limit Drop Off Locations for Absentee Ballots” by Rachel Elbaum for NBC News

Ethics

National: “Trump’s Children Brought Secret Service Money to the Family Business with Their Visits, Records Show” by David Fahrenthold, Joshua Partlow, and Carol Leonnig (Washington Post) for MSN

National: “Supreme Court Halts Census in Latest Twist of 2020 Count” by Mike Schneider for Associated Press News

National: “Trump Taps U.S. Marine Band for White House Event and Raises Questions About Employing the Military for Political Purposes” by Paul Sonne for Washington Post

Hawaii: “Ballot Questions Could Bolster Ethics Watchdog’s Staffing and Spending” by Chad Blair for Honolulu Civil Beat

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