October 5, 2018 •

News You Can Use – October 5, 2018





Missing in the G.O.P.: Black and Hispanic Nominees for Governor
New York Times – Astead Herndon | Published: 10/3/2018

In the first midterm elections under Donald Trump, whose campaign and presidency included strong appeals to white voters, Republicans have no black or Hispanic nominees for governor in 2018, and few from other racial minorities, in the 36 states holding elections for the position. The overwhelming majority are white men. Democrats this year have nominated black, Hispanic, and Native American candidates for governor in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, and elsewhere. The Republican falloff is striking after past election seasons when party leaders attempted to identify and then rally behind minority candidates for governor in major states, like Ohio and Pennsylvania.


Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches from His Father
MSN – David Barstow, Susanne Craig, and Russ Buettner (New York Times) | Published: 10/2/2018

Donald Trump won the presidency proclaiming himself a self-made billionaire, and he has insisted his father provided almost no financial help. But an investigation reveals Trump received the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father’s real estate empire, starting when he was a toddler and continuing to this day. Much of this money came to Trump because he helped his parents dodge taxes. He and his siblings set up a sham corporation to disguise millions of dollars in gifts from their parents. Records indicate Trump helped his father take improper tax deductions worth millions of dollars more. He also helped formulate a strategy to undervalue his parents’ real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars on tax returns, reducing the tax bill when those properties were transferred to him and his siblings.

From the States and Municipalities:

Alabama: ‘Beach House Sheriff’ Used Pistol Permit Fees to Pay for TV Commercials During Campaign
AL.com – Connor Sheets | Published: 10/3/2018

Between October 31, 2017, and July, Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin paid Venture Marketing Group more than $29,000 for work related to television ads. Venture created multiple commercials that only aired during the eight months prior to the June primary election. Even though the ads feature Entrekin speaking about the sheriff’s office and promoting programs he oversees as sheriff, his campaign committee did not pay Venture for the work. Entrekin instead paid the company out of an official sheriff’s office account he alone controls called the Sheriff’s Law Enforcement Fund. Nearly half of the money in the fund is generated by selling pistol permits.

Arizona: This Lawmaker Stands to Earn at Least $11M on His Own Charter Schools. His Votes Helped Lay the Groundwork.
Arizona Republic – Craig Harris | Published: 10/2/2018

Arizona House Speaker J.D. Mesnard and Rep. Eddie Farnsworth amended the state budget to exempt charter schools from procurement and conflict-of-interest laws, and from a requirement to disclose their entire annual spending plans on school websites. Farnsworth was not just a lawmaker interested in the details of the bill. He also runs a four-campus charter chain that because of the amendment would remain free of state oversight of its spending. Farnsworth’s involvement in the last-minute maneuver highlights how his roles as a state lawmaker and charter-school operator have for years mingled at the Capitol, almost always to the benefit of Farnsworth and the state’s other charter school operators.

California: Gov. Brown Signs Bill Requiring Lobbyists to Receive Sexual Harassment Prevention Training
San Francisco Chronicle – Bay City News Service | Published: 10/1/2018

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that requires lobbyists to receive sexual harassment prevention training.  Assembly Bill 2055 requires lobbyists’ ethics courses to include information on Assembly and Senate policies against harassment, including sexual harassment, in connection with lobbying activities. “We need to make sure that everyone who does business in the Capitol understands what we mean by our zero-tolerance policy. Mandated training is an effective method to get that message across,” Assemblyperson Marc Levine said.

California: New State Law Requires More Transparency from Social Media Political Ads
Voice of OC – Brandon Pho | Published: 10/3/2018

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a social media disclosure bill into law. A separate bill had bolstered the requirements for disclosing the names of the top three funders of ballot measures and independent expenditures on television, radio, and print ads. Assembly Bill 2188 now extends those same requirements to online platforms. Social media platforms that sell ads directly to advertisers will be required to keep a database of any political ad disseminated on the platform by a committee that purchased $500 or more in ads within a year.

Florida:Lobbyists Paid to Pressure County Officials Skip Filing Required Disclosures, Audit Says
Fort Myers News-Press – Bill Smith | Published: 9/29/2018

An audit found nearly 60 percent of registered lobbyists in Lee County, Florida have missed the required filing of annual or quarterly statements on their activities. The county ordinance covers contact with county commissioners and employees at the director level and above to report contacts with anyone who is paid to “influence the passage, defeat, modification or repeal,” of any matter requiring a commission vote. It also includes non-secretarial employees in the purchasing division and contracts office. Companies that employee lobbyists are required to file an annual registration statement and quarterly statements about lobbying activities.

Kentucky: Ethics Bill Seeks to Close Reporting Loophole on Groups Paying for Legislators’ Travel
Insider Louisville – Joe Sonka | Published: 9/27/2018

An ethics bill pre-filed in Kentucky could close a reporting loophole that allowed groups, including partisan advocacy organizations, to prepay for the out-of-state travel and lodging expenses of state legislators. A recent investigation estimated that up to $100,000 was spent by outside groups on lawmakers’ approved travel outside of the state last year; that spending did not have to be reported to any state agency. While public funds spent on such travel and reimbursements from private groups must be reported, there is no requirement for legislators to disclose how much those organizations spend to send them to conferences and events, so long as such groups pay for the airfare, lodging, and meals in advance.

Mississippi: In Mississippi Senate Race, an African American Democrat Faces a Republican Using a Confederate Symbol
Washington Post – Cleve Wootson Jr. | Published: 9/30/2018

U.S. Senate candidate Mike Espy has tried to remind Mississippians how he has served them in the past, with three terms in the U.S. House who spent time as President Clinton’s agriculture secretary. But even his most ardent supporters worry that when many voters go to the polls in November, what Espy has done will matter much less than what he is: a black man running for one of the highest elected offices in a state with a Confederate emblem on its flag. One of his opponents is hearkening to another version of the past: Republican Chris McDaniel, a conservative fond of provocative statements whose yard signs feature the flag of the Confederate States of America.

New Jersey: Murphy Still Defends Hiring Ex-Official Jailed for Corruption (Even Though He Was Forced to Resign)
Newark Star Ledger – Brent Johnson (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 10/2/2018

Gov. Phil Murphy  continued to defend his administration’s decision to hire a former Passaic City Council member who served prison time for accepting bribes, even after the hiring was deemed unlawful and Marcellus Jackson was forced to resign. Murphy hired Jackson in July for a $70,000-a-year position as a special assistant in the state Department of Education’s Office of Civic and Social Engagement. Murphy said his administration conducted a legal review that cleared Jackson’s hiring. But Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said state law should have prevented the hire because former public officials convicted of corruption are disqualified from ever holding a public job again in New Jersey.

Pennsylvania: Alex Trebek Moderated a Gubernatorial Debate in Pennsylvania. It Didn’t Go Well.
Chicago Tribune – Antonia Noori Farzan (Washington Post) | Published: 10/2/2018

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and his Republican challenger, Scott Wagner, met recently in their only debate prior to the November election with “Jeopardy” host Alex Trebek serving as moderator. While moderators typically ask questions and let the candidates talk, Trebek spoke at length – at times sharing his own policy opinions – during the 45-minute debate, frustrating viewers. At one point, Trebek joked that the only thing with a lower approval rating than the Pennsylvania Legislature was the Catholic Church. Polite laughter from the audience turned to boos. On Twitter, the consensus was that Trebek should stick to his day job.

Tennessee: In Tennessee Senate Race, Financial Missteps Linger in the Background
New York Times – Danny Hakim | Published: 10/3/2018

U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, the Republican candidate for an open Senate seat in Tennessee, has faced questions about her spending practices. In her years as a member of Congress, she has paid out more than $370,000 from her campaign funds to her daughter and son-in-law or firms they control. Her campaigns have received 54 requests for additional information from the FEC since 2002, and in a 2008 audit, the campaign admitted receiving nearly $400,000 in unreported contributions and expenditures. Her opponent, Phil Bredesen, has had his own financial misstep. A longtime booster of the solar industry as governor, he started a solar company with two of his aides during his last year in office. After he left office, the business went on to reap some of the tax breaks the Bredesen administration had put in place.

Vermont: Governor’s Business Ties Violate State Ethics Code, Commission Finds
VTDigger.org – Mark Johnson | Published: 10/2/2018

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott violated the ethics code by maintaining an ongoing financial relationship with a company doing business with the state, according to the Vermont State Ethics Commission. Under political pressure, Scott sold his interest in Dubois Construction back to the company after he took office in 2017. Scott received no cash at the time of the transaction and is still owed $2.5 million by the company. The commission said the conflict arose when Dubois won a two-year contract for $250,000 in 2017, which the panel said “provides significant income to the company, and directly assists the company in meeting its financial obligation to the public official.”

Washington: Washington Court Upholds Fine Against Anti-GMO Group
Capital Press – Don Jenkins | Published: 10/3/2018

An appeals court affirmed that Food Democracy Now must pay a $319,281 fine for not reporting the names of more than 7,000 donors who supported a food labeling initiative in 2013. The court rejected the group’s argument that it should not have been convicted because it did not intentionally hide the donations. Judge Rich Melnick said the law does not make an exception for unintentionally concealing the source of campaign contributions. The fine stemmed from Initiative 522, which would have required food and beverage makers to label products with genetically modified ingredients.

July 15, 2019 •

Long Beach City Council Sets Date for Special Election

Long Beach, California

A special election will take place on November 5 for City Council District 1. The Long Beach City Council adopted a resolution at the July 9 meeting to conduct a special municipal election. Lena Gonzalez relinquished the District 1 seat […]

A special election will take place on November 5 for City Council District 1.

The Long Beach City Council adopted a resolution at the July 9 meeting to conduct a special municipal election.

Lena Gonzalez relinquished the District 1 seat after winning the state Senate District 33 seat.

The council’s adoption of the resolution included a request to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to have the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk run the special election in November.

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July 15, 2019 •

Colorado Secretary of State Approves Petition for Recall of Gov. Jared Polis, Sen. Pete Lee

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and Sen. Pete Lee

The Elections Division of the Secretary of State’s Office approved petitions to collect signatures for the recall of Gov. Jared Polis and Sen. Pete Lee of Senate District 11. More than 600,000 signatures are needed by September 6 to force […]

The Elections Division of the Secretary of State’s Office approved petitions to collect signatures for the recall of Gov. Jared Polis and Sen. Pete Lee of Senate District 11.

More than 600,000 signatures are needed by September 6 to force a recall election for Polis.

According to the recall statement of grounds, the petition for recall is sought against Polis for his support of legislation involving oil and gas regulation and sexual education dissemination, among others.

More than 11,000 signatures are needed by September 10 to force a recall election for Lee.

According to the recall statement of grounds, the petition for recall is sought against Lee in part for sponsoring legislation to create a paid family and medical leave program to be funded by a mandatory tax on businesses and employees.

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July 15, 2019 •

Missouri Gov. Signs Procurement Bill Amending Bid Solicitation Process

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson

Gov. Mike Parson signed procurement lobbying legislation on July 10, bringing changes to the state’s bid solicitation process. House Bill 1088 provides that solicitations and subsequent purchases must be publicly advertised only if a contract is worth more than $100,000. […]

Gov. Mike Parson signed procurement lobbying legislation on July 10, bringing changes to the state’s bid solicitation process.

House Bill 1088 provides that solicitations and subsequent purchases must be publicly advertised only if a contract is worth more than $100,000. The previous threshold was $25,000.

The bill further provides that all purchases in excess of $10,000 must be based on competitive bids. The previous threshold was $3,000.

Additionally, information technology purchases estimated not to exceed $150,000 may be completed under an informal process. The previous threshold was $75,000.

The bill becomes effective on August 28, 2019.

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July 15, 2019 •

Kentucky Special Session Likely for July 19

Ky Gov. Matt Bevin - Gage Skidmore

Gov. Matt Bevin is set to call a special legislative session to pass a bill giving relief to quasi-governmental groups from the soaring pension costs they must pay starting this month. The special session will have to start on July […]

Gov. Matt Bevin is set to call a special legislative session to pass a bill giving relief to quasi-governmental groups from the soaring pension costs they must pay starting this month.

The special session will have to start on July 19 or regional universities, health departments, and others will have to wait until after a critical deadline to receive relief from a massive increase in pension costs.

Lawmakers passed a bill providing relief in March, but Bevin vetoed the bill because of concerns that parts of the bill were illegal and the measure would be financially harmful to the state’s cash strapped pension funds.

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July 15, 2019 •

Arizona Corporation Commission Passes New Pay-to-Play Restrictions

Arizona State Flag

State utility regulators at the Arizona Corporation Commission approved a new code of ethics. The new code prohibits commissioners from ruling on issues involving interested parties that have given them direct campaign donations. Only commissioners that publicly finance their campaigns […]

State utility regulators at the Arizona Corporation Commission approved a new code of ethics.

The new code prohibits commissioners from ruling on issues involving interested parties that have given them direct campaign donations.

Only commissioners that publicly finance their campaigns may make rulings on issues regarding interested parties with employees or owners that gave them personal donations.

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July 15, 2019 •

Monday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance Arizona: “Utility Panel OKs New Limits on Campaign Contributions to Commission Candidates” by Howard Fischer (Capitol News Services) for Arizona Daily Star California: “California Lawmakers Consider New Rules for Political Ads” by Andrew Oxford for AP News Washington: […]

Campaign Finance

Arizona: “Utility Panel OKs New Limits on Campaign Contributions to Commission Candidates” by Howard Fischer (Capitol News Services) for Arizona Daily Star

California: “California Lawmakers Consider New Rules for Political Ads” by Andrew Oxford for AP News

Washington: “In Win for Public Campaign Financing, State Supreme Court Upholds Seattle’s Unique ‘Democracy Vouchers’” by Daniel Beekman (Seattle Times) for Governing


National: “To Unlock the Youth Vote in 2020, Democrats Wage Legal Fights Against GOP-Backed Voting Restrictions” by Amy Gardner (Washington Post) for Northwest Herald


National: “Trump Tells Freshman Congresswomen to ‘Go Back’ to the Countries They Came From” by Katie Rogers and Nicholas Fandos (New York Times) for MSN

National: “Alex Acosta Resigns as Labor Secretary Amid Intense Scrutiny of His Handling of Jeffrey Epstein Case” by David Nakamura, John Wagner, Ashley Parker, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) for MSN

National: “Trump Says He Will Seek Citizenship Information from Existing Federal Records, Not the Census” by Katie Rogers, Adam Liptak, Michael Crowley, and Michael Wines (New York Times) for MSN


West Virginia: “A Resolution Condemning Pipeline Challengers Passed Easily. A Pipeline Lobbyist Wrote It.” by Kate Mishkin (Charleston Gazette-Mail) for ProPublica

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July 12, 2019 •

FEC Advisory Opinions: Blockchain Tokens, T-Shirts, & Cybersecurity

On July 11, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) issued three Advisory Opinions addressing diverse campaign finance issues. In Advisory Opinion 2019-08, the FEC found a campaign committee was free to distribute digital blockchain tokens, having no monetary values, to volunteers […]

On July 11, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) issued three Advisory Opinions addressing diverse campaign finance issues.

In Advisory Opinion 2019-08, the FEC found a campaign committee was free to distribute digital blockchain tokens, having no monetary values, to volunteers and supporters as incentives for those individual to participate in campaign activities. The Commission concluded the tokens do not constitute compensation, but rather are “materially indistinguishable” from traditional forms of campaign souvenirs.

In Advisory Opinion 2019-09, the FEC determined a nonconnected political committee may sell t-shirts bearing the facial likenesses and names of certain candidates because the committee intends on treating the entire purchase price of the t-shirts as contributions falling under regular campaign finance reporting requirements and contribution limits.

In the third decision issued, Advisory Opinion 2019-12, the FEC said it is permissible for a corporation to offer cybersecurity services to federal candidates and political committees under a “low to no cost” pricing tier that the corporation offers to all qualified non-political customers in the ordinary course of business. The FEC concluded the proposal would not be considered an in-kind contribution.

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July 12, 2019 •

News You Can Use Digest – July 12, 2019

News You Can Use

National/Federal 2020 Democrats Vow to Get Tough on Lobbyists The Hill – Alex Gangitano | Published: 7/7/2019 Democratic presidential hopefuls are taking aim at the lobbying world, vowing to enact sweeping reform proposals if they win election. Contenders from both parties […]


2020 Democrats Vow to Get Tough on Lobbyists
The Hill – Alex Gangitano | Published: 7/7/2019

Democratic presidential hopefuls are taking aim at the lobbying world, vowing to enact sweeping reform proposals if they win election. Contenders from both parties have long run as outsiders to K Street, with President Trump famously vowing on the campaign trail to “drain the swamp.” But the spotlight on K Street has intensified this cycle, with the left urging candidates to reject corporate money and Democratic lawmakers raising concerns about the “revolving door” that sees lobbyists land top administration posts. U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Michael Bennet have called for a strict lifetime ban on lawmakers lobbying. Those candidates in the U.S. House are touting tough restrictions on lobbyists they helped pass this year as part of a sweeping ethics bill.

AP: Federal grand jury probing GOP fundraiser Elliott Broidy
AP News – Jim Mustian and Desmond Butler | Published: 7/8/2019

A federal grand jury in New York is investigating top Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy, examining whether he used his position as vice chairperson of President Trump’s inaugural committee to drum up business deals with foreign leaders. Prosecutors appear to be investigating whether Broidy exploited his access to Trump for personal gain and violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which makes it illegal for U.S. citizens to offer foreign officials “anything of value” to gain a business advantage. Things of value in this case could have been an invitation to the January 2017 inaugural events or access to Trump.

Appeals Court Tosses Emoluments Suit Against Trump
Politico – Josh Gerstein | Published: 7/10/2019

A federal appeals court panel dismissed a lawsuit accusing President Trump of violating the Constitution by continuing to do business with foreign and state governments while serving as president. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia, who joined together to file the suit, lacked legal standing to object to his alleged violations of the Constitution’s clauses prohibiting receipt of so-called emoluments while in office. Writing for the court, Judge Paul Niemeyer concluded the case turned on unduly speculative claims that the District of Columbia and Maryland governments were being harmed by people favoring Trump’s Washington hotel in order to curry favor with him.

Democrats Grapple with a Sprawling Primary Field, and No One to Shape It
MSN – Reid Epstein (New York Times) | Published: 7/4/2019

Many strategists say the Democratic Party’s slate of 24 presidential candidates is too unwieldy for a constructive debate, and too large for most voters to follow. With a leadership vacuum at the top of the party, there is no one to elevate candidates with an endorsement, or help steer third-tier candidates out of the race when they have reached their plausible expiration date. Former President Obama is sitting out the primary. The Clintons, a once-dominant party presence, are largely unwelcome this time around. Of the party’s living former presidential nominees, just Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis have weighed in on the race. The rest are keeping their distance from the messy primary, which polling shows has bifurcated between a top tier of five candidates and everyone else vying just to qualify for the party’s fall debates.

Elizabeth Warren Shuns Conventional Wisdom for a New Kind of Campaign
Politico – Alex Thompson | Published: 7/9/2019

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is defying the traditional playbook for running a modern presidential campaign. She raised $19.1 million in the second quarter of this year despite swearing off large fundraising events. Her campaign has gone without an outside polling firm, and says it has no plans to hire one, even though it is standard operating procedure. The campaign is shunning the typical model for producing campaign ads, in which outside firms are hired and paid commissions for their work. Instead, Warren’s campaign is producing TV, digital, and media content itself, as well as placing its digital ad buys internally. The approach is a rebuke of the consultant-heavy model of campaigns. Warren and her team see the standard campaign as another symbol of Washington corruption, and an opportunity to do things differently.

Eric Swalwell Ends White House Bid, Citing Low Polling, Fundraising
Politico – Carla Marinucci and Jeremy White | Published: 7/8/2019

U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell, dogged by fundraising challenges and a failure to register in the polls, is ending his longshot bid for the presidency. He had called on Democratic front-runner Joe Biden to “pass the torch” of party leadership to a new generation in the first Democratic presidential debates. But Swalwell later called a press conference to announce that instead of continuing in the primaries, he will instead seek a fifth term representing his strongly Democratic district in Congress. Consultant Garry South said Swalwell’s attempts at generational appeal “could have had traction, but he was pre-empted by someone a year younger, Pete Buttigieg. He didn’t have that lane to himself.”

FBI Arrests Former Top Puerto Rico Officials in Government Corruption Scandal
National Public Radio – Bobby Allyn | Published: 7/11/2019

U.S. authorities unsealed a corruption indictment against two former top officials in Puerto Rico for directing some $15.5 million in contracts to favored businesses, allegedly edging out other firms for the lucrative government work despite allegations of being unqualified. The two former Puerto Rico leaders – Julia Keleher, who was the secretary of the island’s department of education before stepping down in April, and Ángela Ávila-Marrero, who led Puerto Rico’s Health Insurance Administration until June – were arrested by FBI agents. Prosecutors wrote in the indictment that the conspiracy involved the two former public officials handing four associates who had an inside track to contracts.

Female Tech Lobbyists Shake Up Industry
The Hill – Alex Gangitano | Published: 7/9/2019

Male-dominated Silicon Valley has long faced criticism over gender diversity issues, but in Washington, D.C., the tech industry’s most prominent groups are increasingly led by women. For women in the industry, those changes are a promising trend and long overdue, and come at a critical time for tech businesses. Shirley Bloomfield, chief executive officer of The Rural Broadband Association (NTCA), first started as a lobbyist at NTCA 30 years ago, when she said it was a “barren wasteland for women in the tech industry.” She left after 20 years for stints at Qwest and Verizon, before returning as chief executive nine years ago. Bloomfield says there is more to be done to improve representation.

GOP at War Over Fundraising
Politico – Alex Isenstadt | Published: 7/10/2019

Tensions over the future of the Republican Party’s grassroots fundraising are reaching a breaking point, with the national party turning to strong-arm tactics to get Republicans behind its new, Donald Trump-endorsed platform for small donors. The Republican National Committee (RNC) is threatening to withhold support from party candidates who refuse to use WinRed, the GOP’s newly established online fundraising tool. And the RNC, along with the party’s Senate and gubernatorial campaign arms, are threatening legal action against a rival donation vehicle. The moves illustrate how Republican leaders are waging a determined campaign to make WinRed the sole provider of its small donor infrastructure and to torpedo any competitors.

In the Aftermath of Khashoggi’s Murder, Saudi Influence Machine Whirs on in Washington
Stamford Advocate – Beth Reinhard, Jonathan O’Connell, and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) | Published: 7/10/2019

Since fall 2018, Washington, D.C. lobbyists and lawyers have reaped millions of dollars for assisting Saudi Arabia as it works to develop nuclear power, buy American-made weapons, and prolong U.S. assistance to the Saudi-led coalition waging war in Yemen, foreign lobbying records show. Shaped by a sophisticated machine that was built over decades, Saudi support on Capitol Hill has been tested in recent months amid international outrage over the kingdom’s involvement in journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s death and a war in Yemen that has killed tens of thousands of civilians. In recent months, some Republicans have joined Democrats in trying to limit U.S. military aid and weapon sales to Saudi Arabia. But with billions of dollars at stake, the powerful defense industry has helped the lobbying corps contain GOP defections.

‘It Can’t Be Worse’: How Republican women are trying to rebuild
New York Times – Maggie Astor | Published: 7/9/2019

As their own election losses poured in, Republicans watched Democratic women make historic gains in 2018 and decided to adopt the Democrats’ strategy for themselves. Those attending the Women’s Campaign School at Yale University said saving Republican women from political extinction was a challenge far bigger than one election cycle. This is because the deeper problem is that Democratic women have a bench; Republican women do not. Part of the trouble is demographic. There are just more Democratic than Republican women among registered voters, and President Trump, who is less popular among women than among men, has not helped. Republicans also lag strategically in several areas: in recruiting female candidates, training them, funding them, and helping them through primaries.

Judge Blocks Trump Rule Requiring Drug Companies to List Prices in TV Ads
New York Times – Katie Thomas and Katie Rogers | Published: 7/8/2019

A federal judge ruled the Trump administration cannot force pharmaceutical companies to disclose the list price of their drugs in television ads, dealing a blow to one of the president’s most visible efforts to pressure drug companies to lower their prices. U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta ruled the Department of Health and Human Services exceeded its regulatory authority by seeking to require all drug makers to include in their television commercials the list price of any drug that costs more than $35 a month.

Rep. Duncan Hunter’s ‘Deep State’ Defense Falls Apart
Roll Call – Emily Kopp | Published: 7/8/2019

U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter’s bid to dismiss the corruption charges against him by alleging a “deep state” conspiracy by U.S. attorneys fell apart when it was revealed that Hunter’s lead attorney had attended the same Democratic fundraiser that he said biased prosecutors. U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Whelan ruled against a motion filed by Hunter’s team, arguing the case should be relocated or dismissed because two of the prosecutors attended a 2015 fundraiser for Hillary Clinton, who was running for president. Their attendance, Hunter’s lawyers said, meant they would be biased in the case against Hunter, an early supporter of Donald Trump. The Justice Department revealed that the lead attorney for Hunter’s defense, Gregory Vega, was also present, and even donated to her campaign.

Steve Bullock Hates ‘Dark Money.’ But a Lobbyist for ‘Dark Money’ Donors Is Helping His Campaign.
Center for Public Integrity – Laura Zornosa | Published: 7/8/2019

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock is staking his presidential campaign on battling “dark money.” But in August, Bullock is scheduled to visit Washington, D.C., for a closed-door campaign fundraiser co-hosted by 11 of the capital’s, including a federally registered lobbyist whose clients have contributed corporate cash to groups that do not disclose their donors, according to an invitation. Jay Driscoll, a Bullock friend and managing partner at lobbying firm Forbes-Tate, lobbied for 37 corporate clients during the first quarter of 2019 alone. The Center for Public Integrity in 2014 found nine of Driscoll’s current corporate lobbying clients had contributed to politically active nonprofit groups that do not voluntarily disclose their donors.

Study: Firm governance key as shareholders assess risk of political activity
Phys.org; Staff –   | Published: 7/9/2019

It is the structure of a firm’s governance that may cause shareholders to walk away if they think they cannot hold the company accountable for its political activity, according to a new study. The research provides empirical evidence to inform the debate surrounding whether companies should be required to disclose details of their investments in political activities as a means of increasing accountability to both shareholders and the public. “The study clearly presents the various ways that U.S. companies can influence the political process via campaign finance and what risk it presents to the average investor because of the lack of transparency over the amounts spent,” said the study’s co-author, Hollis Skaife, an accounting professor at the University of California.

Trump Campaign Knew Consultant Was Behind Joe Biden Parody Site. Does That Make It a Campaign Finance Violation
Newsweek – Asher Stockler | Published: 7/9/2019

Multiple members of President Trump’s re-election campaign knew one of their colleagues was the creator of the Joe Biden parody site before his identity was disclosed recently, a campaign source familiar with the matter said. The New York Times revealed Trump campaign consultant Patrick Mauldin as the digital guru behind JoeBiden.info, a website “parody” of the Biden campaign that was designed to highlight unfavorable quotes and gaffes from the former vice president. While his campaign activities and his extracurricular activities appear to be separate functions, Mauldin’s dual status as a bona fide campaign worker and off-duty web guru raises the question of potential campaign finance violations.

Trump Can’t Block Critics from His Twitter Account, Appeals Court Rules
MSN – Charlie Savage (New York Times) | Published: 7/9/2019

President Trump cannot block his critics on Twitter, a federal appeals court ruled in a case that could affect officials’ communications with the public on social media. Because Trump uses Twitter to conduct government business, he cannot exclude some Americans from reading his posts, and engaging in conversations in the replies to them, because he does not like their views, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled unanimously. The ruling was one of the highest-profile court decisions yet in a growing constellation of cases addressing what the First Amendment means in a time when political expression increasingly takes place online.

Warren and Whitehouse call for investigation into Chamber of Commerce
The Hill – Alex Gangitano | Published: 7/10/2019

U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Sheldon Whitehouse are calling for an investigation into whether the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is properly disclosing lobbying activities. The senators wrote a letter to the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House, where entities file lobbying disclosures, asking for a review of the Chamber’s reports to determine if they are in compliance with the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA). The senators reviewed the Chamber’s disclosures from 2008 through the first quarter of 2019 and claim that since the second quarter of 2016, the Chamber has failed to provide information on its affiliated organizations. The LDA requires a coalition or association disclose entities that contribute at least $5,000 a quarter to its lobbying activities and that actively participate in its lobbying activities.

White House Kills Key Drug Pricing Rule to Eliminate Hidden Rebates
Washington Post – Yasmeen Abutaleb | Published: 7/11/2019

The Trump administration pulled one of its key proposals to lower drug prices that would have eliminated rebates to middlemen in Medicare, which President Trump’s top health official had touted as one of the most significant changes to curb medicine costs for consumers. The rule is the second major drug pricing effort to get blocked recently, complicating the administration’s efforts to make lowering prescription medicine costs a key 2020 presidential campaign issue. Drug makers had favored the rule, but it was strongly opposed by pharmacy benefits managers.

Why the Trump White House Is Caught Up in the Jeffrey Epstein Scandal
MSN – Vivian Wang (New York Times) | Published: 7/7/2019

By the time Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire financier and felon, was arrested recently and charged with sex trafficking, he had been repeatedly accused of pedophilia and sexual abuse for more than a decade.  But Epstein, whose acquaintances include two presidents and multiple celebrities, had until then avoided federal prosecution. The case could shed new light not only on the allegations, which span years and countries, but also on the extent to which officials who have been linked to Epstein – including, most notably, President Trump and his labor secretary, Alexander Acosta — knew about or downplayed them.

From the States and Municipalities

California California Bill Limits Spending by Local Government Groups
AP News – Kathleen Ronayne | Published: 7/9/2019

A California lawmaker wants to limit how local government associations can spend taxpayer money after two city councilors got into a brawl at a recent seminar put on by one of the groups. Assemblyperson Cristina Garcia’s bill targets groups that lobby on behalf of and hold education events for local governments. It specifically references the California Contract Cities Association, but it would also apply to groups such as the League of California Cities and the Independent Cities Association. The bill would prohibit them from using dues collected from cities for anything other than lobbying or expenses directly related to educational seminars. The groups would have to disclose how they spend their money.

Florida Florida, the Sunshine State, Is Slow to Adopt Rooftop Solar Power
New York Times – Ivan Penn | Published: 7/7/2019

Florida calls itself the Sunshine State. But when it comes to the use of solar power, it trails 19 states, including not-so-sunny Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Maryland. Solar experts and environmentalists blame the state’s utilities. The utilities have hindered potential rivals seeking to offer residential solar power. They have spent tens of millions of dollars on lobbying, ad campaigns, and political contributions. And when homeowners purchase solar equipment, the utilities have delayed connecting the systems for months. In Florida, utilities make money on virtually all aspects of the electricity system – producing the power, transmitting it, selling it, and delivering it. Critics say the companies have much at stake in preserving that control.

Georgia ‘Drag This Out as Long as Possible’: Former official faces rare criminal charges under open-records law
New York Times – Richard Fausset | Published: 7/8/2019

When he was mayor of Atlanta, Kasim Reed’s relationship with the news media was notoriously contentious. At one news conference, Reed responded to reporters’ requests for records by simultaneously releasing more than 1.4 million pages of documents on paper, stuffed into more than 400 boxes, some of them filled with blank sheets and minuscule spreadsheet printouts – a gesture interpreted by many in the local press corps as an act of nose-thumbing. His former press secretary, Jenna Garland, is now facing criminal charges for allegedly failing to comply with Georgia’s open records law. It is a rare predicament for an American government official, and the allegations will do little to allay investigative reporters’ worst suspicions about the spirit with which bureaucrats receive their nagging, but legal, records requests.

Massachusetts New Disclosure System Creating Headaches for Lobbyists
Taunton Gazette – Matt Murphy (State House News Service) | Published: 7/11/2019

Multiple lobbyists said that over the course of the past week they have tried to input their data to comply with Massachusetts’ disclosure law – including bills that they are lobbying on, expenditures for clients, and campaign contributions – only to be unable to save their work, have the system crash, or see their data erased. Penalties for late filings start at $50 a day for the first week and grow to $100 after July 20. While a larger firm may be able to absorb some fines, one person who works in the industry said they have seen the bills mount for smaller clients, including non-profits, who are less familiar with their responsibilities to report.

Mississippi Mississippi Politician Blocks Female Reporter from Campaign Trip
MSN – Karen Zraik (New York Times) | Published: 7/10/2019

State Rep. Robert Foster, who is running for governor of Mississippi, blocked a female reporter from shadowing him on a campaign trip “to avoid any situation that may evoke suspicion or compromise” his marriage. Larrison Campbell of Mississippi Today said Foster’s campaign manager, Colton Robison, told her a male colleague would need to accompany her on a 15-hour campaign trip around the state. In blocking the reporter, Foster invoked the “Billy Graham rule,” which refers to the Christian evangelist’s refusal to spend time alone with any woman who was not his wife. The practice has drawn renewed attention in recent years, especially after the resurfacing of a 2002 comment by Vice President Mike Pence that he would not eat alone with any woman other than his wife.

Missouri ‘Dream for Fans of Corruption’: Greitens Confide ruling vexes transparency advocates
Kansas City Star – Jason Hancock | Published: 7/9/2019

A Cole County judge ruled former Gov. Eric Greitens did not violate Missouri’s Sunshine Law when he and his government staff used a self-destructing text message app called Confide. Circuit Court Judge Jon Beetem said because the text messages were automatically deleted, it meant they were never officially retained, and therefore were not covered by the law. There is no right for a private citizen to sue under the state’s record retention law, the judge said, so the lawsuit against the governor’s office that was filed in late 2017 could not move forward. “[Beetem’s decision] blows a giant hole in the Sunshine Law, and invites further deliberate, automatic destruction of records by public officials,” said Daxton Stewart, a journalism professor at Texas Christian University.

New York Cuomo Signs a Bill to Allow Release of Trump’s State Tax Returns
New York Times – Jesse McKinley | Published: 7/8/2019

As the battle over President Trump’s federal taxes intensifies in Washington, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill to allow congressional committees to access the president’s state tax returns.  The bill requires state tax officials to release the president’s state returns for any “specified and legitimate legislative purpose” on the request of the chairperson of one of three congressional committees. It is effective immediately, though it is unclear whether it would be challenged by the administration or used by the congressional committees. Still, the state tax documents from New York, the president’s home state and business headquarters, would likely contain much of the same information as the contested federal returns, tax experts say.

New York Legendary ‘Three Stooges’ Were Briefly NY Campaign Donors
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 7/10/2019

Last year, a campaign account controlled by Nick Langworthy, the new chairperson of the New York State Republican Party, received nearly $13,000 in donations from “Moe Howard” and “Larry Howard,” and also made a $150 payment to “Curly Howard,” according to campaign finance records. A state GOP spokesperson said the Three Stooges’ listing in the campaign filings resulted from errors by the committee’s campaign treasurer, who had put the names in as “placeholders” for real, living peoples’ donations made through PayPal. The Stooges’ names were then accidentally left in place when reports were filed with the state Board of Elections.

North Dakota North Dakota House Energy Committee Chairman Says Business Relationship with Lobbyist Unrelated to Legislative Work
Grand Forks Herald – John Hageman | Published: 7/8/2019

The chairperson of the North Dakota House’s energy committee defended a business relationship with the state’s top oil and gas lobbyist. Rep. Todd Porter and North Dakota Petroleum Council President Ron Ness are both listed in state records as partners in a commercial real estate investment group. Porter said the relationship does not affect his decision-making at the Capitol because the oil industry is unrelated to the property partnership, which he said includes 42 partners. He said he and Ness were friends “long before” he joined the Legislature in 1999.

Oklahoma Stitt Outlaws State Agency Lobbyist Hiring with Executive Order
Tulsa World – Keaton Ross (The Oklahoman) | Published: 7/6/2019

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt issued an executive order that bars state agencies from hiring outside lobbyists as long as he remains in office. Stitt first addressed lobbying in state government in January, when he filed an executive order requiring all state agencies to submit a list of every lobbyist they hired and the terms of their contract. This order also prohibited agencies from entering into, or renewing, any contract with a lobbyist through the duration of Fiscal Year 2019. A total of 35 state agencies hired lobbyists last fiscal year. Some paid local public relations firms, while others consulted with individuals.

Oregon Political Theater Overshadows Policy; Some Fear Oregon’s Drift Toward D.C. Politics
Salem Statesman-Journal – Connor Radnovich | Published: 7/3/2019

Bookended by concerns about safety in the Oregon Capitol and packed in the middle with partisan squabbling that exploded into a pair of Senate Republican walkouts, 2019 was one of the most contentious sessions in recent history. There is concern among legislative leaders it could get worse. Senate President Peter Courtney said lawmakers across the country are starting to mimic the “legislative anarchy” he sees in Congress, and without a functioning legislative branch, he fears over-powered executives. In February, the Legislature agreed to pay more than $1 million in damages after an investigation by the Bureau of Labor and Industries determined legislative leadership created a hostile workplace by allowing sexual harassment to continue unabated for years against lawmakers, interns, staff, and lobbyists.

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