October 8, 2013 • Written by George Ticoras, Esq.
Beginning on October 21, Christina Estes-Werther will be the new Arizona state election director, replacing Amy B. Chan.
Estes-Werther currently serves as Governor Brewer’s deputy general counsel. According to Secretary of State Ken Bennett’s press release, Chan will be stepping down to devote more time to her family.
Chan was appointed election director by Bennett in March 2009.
August 3, 2020 • Written by Mario Dalessandro
State legislators passed a bill Sunday adding Nevada to a growing list of states mailing all active voters ballots ahead of the November election amid the coronavirus pandemic. The bill now heads to Gov. Steve Sisolak. If he signs it […]
State legislators passed a bill Sunday adding Nevada to a growing list of states mailing all active voters ballots ahead of the November election amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The bill now heads to Gov. Steve Sisolak.
If he signs it as expected, Nevada will join seven states planning to automatically send voters mail ballots.
These states include California and Vermont, which moved earlier this summer to adopt automatic mail ballot policies.
August 3, 2020 • Written by Mario Dalessandro
Gov. Kate Brown announced she will convene a second special session of the Oregon Legislature starting Monday, August 10. The main objective of the session will be to address the state’s devastating budget shortfall arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. The […]
Gov. Kate Brown announced she will convene a second special session of the Oregon Legislature starting Monday, August 10.
The main objective of the session will be to address the state’s devastating budget shortfall arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The governor’s decision to call lawmakers into session could be a concession the state is unlikely to receive any budget assistance from Congress, a possibility Brown and public employee union leaders cited earlier in the summer as a reason to delay the second special session.
In her proclamation calling the special session, the governor also noted her support for urgent legislation building on matters considered in the first special session, including additional police accountability reforms.
August 3, 2020 • Written by Carlo Aguja
The Massachusetts General Court passed Senate Bill 2873 declaring a state of emergency within the Legislature and extending the legislative session past the traditional last day of July 31. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the General Court extended the session […]
The Massachusetts General Court passed Senate Bill 2873 declaring a state of emergency within the Legislature and extending the legislative session past the traditional last day of July 31.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the General Court extended the session to respond to and mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, to protect the health, security, safety, and economic well-being and convenience of the people of the Commonwealth.
The bill suspends Joint Rule 12A and allows the second annual session of the 191st General Court to continue until the end of the calendar year.
August 3, 2020 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance Hawaii: “Alleged Oahu Crime Boss’ Nightclub Was a Popular Place for Political Fundraisers” by Nick Grube for Honolulu Star Advertiser Elections Idaho: “Supreme Court Halts Idaho Online Signatures for Initiative” by Keith Ridler (Associated Press) for Jacksonville Journal […]
Hawaii: “Alleged Oahu Crime Boss’ Nightclub Was a Popular Place for Political Fundraisers” by Nick Grube for Honolulu Star Advertiser
Idaho: “Supreme Court Halts Idaho Online Signatures for Initiative” by Keith Ridler (Associated Press) for Jacksonville Journal Courier
National: “DHS Compiled ‘Intelligence Reports’ on Journalists Who Published Leaked Documents” by Shane Harris (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Full Appeals Court Agrees to Wade into Michael Flynn Case” by Eric Tucker for Associated Press News
National: “Misuse of Taxpayer Funds Leads Ethics Committee to Reprimand and Fine Rep. Schweikert” by Chris Marquette for Roll Call
Canada: “Trudeau Defends Work on Contract Now Engulfing His Government” by Andy Blatchford for Politico
California: “Charges Added to LA City Councilman in Corruption Probe” by Nathan Solis for Courthouse News Service
Maryland: “Judge Sentences Former Baltimore Del. Cheryl Glenn to 2 Years, Says She ‘Sold Her Office to Pay the Bills’” by Jessica Anderson for Baltimore Sun
Florida: “Florida Commission on Ethics Lifts NRA Lobbyist Marion Hammer Off the Hook” by Dan Christensen for Florida Bulldog
July 31, 2020 • Written by Mario Dalessandro
Gov. Steve Sisolak issued a formal proclamation Thursday evening calling the Nevada Legislature into a second special session amid the COVID-19 crisis. The 32nd special session is set to begin Friday, July 31, at 9:00 a.m. The policy items included […]
Gov. Steve Sisolak issued a formal proclamation Thursday evening calling the Nevada Legislature into a second special session amid the COVID-19 crisis.
The 32nd special session is set to begin Friday, July 31, at 9:00 a.m.
The policy items included for consideration include criminal and social justice policy reform, and protections from coronavirus for Nevadans.
Additionally, removal of statutory barriers impeding the work of Nevada’s unemployment insurance program, and alternative dispute resolution measures in cases of rental evictions will be discussed.
According to the proclamation, the session should end no later than 11:59 p.m. Aug. 7, though the language is not binding.
Lawmakers can work past that date.
July 31, 2020 • Written by John Cetor
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced a special session of the General Assembly to convene on August 18. The special session will focus on adopting a biennial budget based on the revised revenue forecast. Lawmakers are also expected to consider legislation […]
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced a special session of the General Assembly to convene on August 18.
The special session will focus on adopting a biennial budget based on the revised revenue forecast.
Lawmakers are also expected to consider legislation regarding COVID-19 and criminal and social justice reforms.
July 31, 2020 • Written by Rebecca South
Here is your chance to “Ask the Experts” at State and Federal Communications, Inc.
Q: What contributions am I required to disclose on the Semi-annual LD-203 contribution report?
A: Though much focus is placed on the PAC and political contributions that must be disclosed on the LD-203, there are four (4) additional categories of reportable expenditures. Below is an overview of all the expenditures required to be tracked and reported by employer registrants and individual lobbyists:
FECA (Federal Election Campaign Act)
- Contributions (including in-kind) of $200 or more (in the aggregate) to any Federal candidate or officeholder, leadership PAC, or political party committee (such as the RNC or DNC). For an employer report, this involves listing contributions from the company’s associated PAC. FECA contributions tend to be the most common type reported but do not represent full disclosure when other reportable expenditures exist.
- An expenditure of any amount made to an entity established, financed, maintained, or controlled by a covered legislative branch official or covered executive branch official, or an entity designated by such official. Of note, this can include donations made to charitable organizations and other non-profit entities.
- An expenditure of any amount made to pay the cost of an event to honor or recognize a covered legislative branch official or covered executive branch official. The purchase of a table or ticket to another entity’s event, in and of itself, is not sufficient to be considered “paying the cost” of the event.
- An expenditure of any amount made to an entity named for a covered legislative branch official or to a person or entity in recognition of such official.
- An expenditure of any amount made for a meeting, retreat, conference, or other similar event held by, or in the name of, one or more covered legislative branch officials or covered executive branch officials.
PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY and/or INAUGURAL COMMITTEE
- Contributions of $200 or more to any presidential library foundation and/or presidential inaugural committee made by an individual or employer (including from employer’s PAC) during the reporting period.
You can directly submit questions for this feature, and we will select those most appropriate and answer them here. Send your questions to: email@example.com.
(We are always available to answer questions from clients that are specific to your needs, and we encourage you to continue to call or e-mail us with questions about your particular company or organization. As always, we will confidentially and directly provide answers or information you need.) Our replies to your questions are not legal advice. Instead, these replies represent our analysis of laws, rules, and regulations.
July 31, 2020 • Written by Jim Sedor
National/Federal Chris Christie Cashes in On Coronavirus Lobbying Politico – Theodoric Meyer and Adam Cancryn | Published: 7/23/2020 Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is making big money from businesses trying to tap coronavirus relief funds from the federal government. His […]
Chris Christie Cashes in On Coronavirus Lobbying
Politico – Theodoric Meyer and Adam Cancryn | Published: 7/23/2020
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is making big money from businesses trying to tap coronavirus relief funds from the federal government. His firm pulled in $240,000 in less than three months for lobbying the Trump administration on coronavirus aid on behalf of three New Jersey hospital systems and a Tennessee-based chain of addiction treatment centers. Christie is hardly the first former governor to land on K Street. But it is unusual for a former presidential candidate who has not ruled out running again to become a lobbyist, especially without joining a major Washington firm, Christie appears to be leaning on his ties to the administration as he makes his way on K Street.
Cities, Advocates Sue Trump to Block Census Immigrant Memo
Roll Call – Michael Macagnone | Published: 7/24/2020
President Trump’s attempt to exclude undocumented immigrants from census figures that will be used to determine congressional apportionment has been challenged in federal court, the first of what experts believe could be many legal battles for the administration’s order. Common Cause, along with and other plaintiffs, filed a lawsuit arguing Trump’s effort “flouts the plain language of the constitution” and tries to do with a memorandum what should take a constitutional amendment. The complaint tied the memorandum to Trump’s previous effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census and a broader strategy to “manipulate the census and apportionment process to deprive immigrants and racial and ethnic minorities of political power.”
Democrats Investigating Why White House Ended Ban on Some Gun Silencer Sales
New York Times – Kenneth Vogel | Published: 7/28/2020
Congressional Democrats said they were investigating the Trump administration’s decision to lift a ban on firearm silencer sales to foreign private buyers that had been enacted to prevent the devices from being used against American troops. Democrats are focusing in part on the involvement of Michael Williams, a White House lawyer who had worked for two years for a trade group representing silencer manufacturers that had lobbied to overturn the ban. The administration move paved the way for as much as $250 million a year in possible new foreign sales for companies that Williams had championed as general counsel of the American Suppressor Association.
Dems Rebuke Culture of Sexism in Defense of Ocasio-Cortez
Politico – Caitlin Oprysko and Sarah Ferris | Published: 7/23/2020
More than a dozen House Democrats lined up recently to support U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the floor of the chamber, issuing a chain of rebukes to U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho for aggressively confronting the New York Democrat outside of the Capitol. Ocasio-Cortez recounted the confrontation with Yoho, which was witnessed by a reporter, in a speech lamenting the incident as an outgrowth of a toxic and sexist culture that some lawmakers still perpetuate on Capitol Hill.
DeVos Aide Played Role in Helping Failing For-Profit Colleges, Texts and Emails Show
Washington Post – Danielle Douglas-Gabriel | Published: 7/28/2020
For the past year, the Education Department has denied a top official went out of her way to help Dream Center Education Holdings, owner of the Art Institutes, South University, and Argosy University, as the company spiraled into insolvency. But a batch of text messages, emails, and letters shed new light on Dream Center’s relationship with Diane Auer Jones, the head of higher education policy at the department, and her efforts to help the company regain accreditation at two of its schools. The Trump administration had a keen interest in staving off the collapse of the troubled chain of for-profit colleges, even though congressional investigators found Dream Center deceptively enrolled students at campuses that had lost accreditation and raked in taxpayer money in the process.
How the Republican National Convention Came Undone
MSN – Michael Scherer, Josh Dawsey, and Annie Linskey (Washington Post) | Published: 7/24/2020
The chaotic unraveling of the Republican presidential nomination convention bears many of the hallmarks of the tumultuous Trump presidency: the public dismissal of scientific expertise, allegations of political conspiracy, and advisers run ragged to carry out a task that was next to impossible from the start. Even as Democrats began to rethink their event last spring, GOP planners moved forward at Trump’s urging. But ultimately, the rising coronavirus caseload, and the political cost of forcing risky behavior on thousands just months before the election, proved too great. Advisers convinced Trump that canceling the convention could help him politically as he tries to pay closer attention to the pandemic.
‘I’m Going to Answer the Damn Question’: Barr, House Democrats face off over Portland, politicization
USA Today – Kristine Phillips and Kevin Johnson | Published: 7/28/2020
Attorney General William Barr’s recent testimony before the House Judiciary Committee Barr came as Democrats investigate alleged political interference at the Justice Department, claiming the attorney general has turned it into a political annex of the Trump White House. The hearing touched on a year’s worth of grievances, from the widely criticized rollout of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report in 2019, to interference in criminal investigations involving Trump’s allies, to the controversial ouster of Manhattan’s chief federal prosecutor, to the use of force against protesters in Portland and at Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C.
Kimberly Guilfoyle Under Fire for Trump Fundraising Disarray
Politico – Alex Isenstadt | Published: 7/23/2020
There is upheaval within the fundraising unit that Kimberly Guilfoyle oversees, which is primarily responsible for cultivating networks of donors who cut checks in increments up to $2,800 fort President Trump’s reelection. Interviews with nearly a dozen Republicans familiar with the campaign’s fundraising depict an operation beset by departures, staffers with no prior fundraising experience, and accusations of irresponsible spending. There are growing concerns among senior Republicans about whether the dysfunction within Guilfoyle’s team is translating into money left on the table for what has become an uphill fight for a second term.
Pelosi Mandates Wearing Masks on the House Floor After Gohmert Case
Politico – Heather Cayglde and Sarah Ferris | Published: 7/29/2020
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would now require all members to wear masks on the House floor after U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert tested positive for the coronavirus. Lawmakers are currently encouraged to wear masks in the chamber and required to wear them in committee rooms, although some Republicans openly defy that rule and have yet to be punished. Gohmert, who frequently refuses to wear a mask around the Capitol, tested positive during a pre-screening by the White Houser before a scheduled flight with President Trump to Texas, news that quickly reverberated across Capitol Hill.
Political Donors Whose Businesses Got PPP Loans Injected $52 Million into 2020 Election
Center for Responsive Politics – Karl Evers-Hillstrom | Published: 7/23/2020
Government rescue loans meant for struggling small businesses went to a number of well-connected firms whose executives are major contributors to lawmakers’ campaigns and political parties. Employees and PACs connected to firms that received loans under the Paycheck Protection Program, and in some cases the companies themselves, contributed at least $52 million to federal committees during the 2020 election cycle. Republicans and conservative groups got $27 million from these donors, while Democrats and liberal groups received $24 million. Powerful lobbying firms, hedge funds, and real estate companies received aid while tens of thousands of small businesses closed for good.
Politics at the Point of a Gun
Washington Post – Joshua Partlow | Published: 7/28/2020
Across the country, conservative armed civilians have surged into public view – marching on statehouses, challenging Black Lives Matter protests, chasing Internet rumors – and bringing the threat of lethal force to local politics. Their emergence has prompted congressional hearings on the surge in anti-government militias and domestic extremism and has alarmed researchers who track hate groups. In the pandemic stay-at-home orders, they see government overreach that restricts their freedoms and harms their businesses. Many members of these armed groups consider this pre-election period a defining moment. In the months of volatile street protests, they see local authorities who lost the nerve to confront violent agitators.
The Husband Is a Top Public Health Official. The Wife Does Lobbying. She Deleted a Tweet That Showed Them Together at a Public Event.
BuzzFeed News – Paul McLeod | Published: 7/27/2020
The wife of the second-ranking official at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) appeared with her husband during an official business trip at a time she was being paid to lobby the department. Emily Hargan tweeted a photo from a July 10 press conference at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center centered around a visit by her husband, HHS Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan. She has since deleted the tweet. Emily Hargan has been paid by three healthcare companies to lobby HHS. All three contracts were still active on the day she appeared with her husband on an official business trip. She has no lobbying disclosures before her HHS work in June of this year.
Trump Campaign Accused of Using ‘Pass-Through’ Vendors to Obscure $170 Million in Payments
ABC News – Soo Rin Kim and Will Steakin | Published: 7/28/2020
A watchdog group accused President Trump’s reelection campaign of obscuring nearly $170 million worth of campaign spending through “pass-through” vendors linked to campaign leadership instead of disclosing the true recipients of the funds. In an FEC complaint, the Campaign Legal Center said American Made Media Consultants and Parscale Strategy, two companies set up and by run by campaign leadership, including former campaign manager Brad Parscale, have been disguised as providing a variety of services to the campaign, when in reality they have essentially served as “clearing house” firms that dole out contracts and payments to various subcontractors and vendors without revealing the ultimate recipients of the donor money.
Trump’s Assault on Election Integrity Forces Question: What would happen if he refused to accept a loss?
Anchorage Daily News – Elise Viebeck and Robert Costa (Washington Post) | Published: 7/22/2020
President Trump’s unwillingness to commit to a smooth transition of power has forced academics and political leaders to contemplate possible scenarios if loses the election in November. The resulting turmoil could surpass the contention over the outcome of the 2000 presidential election, confounding the legal system, Congress, and the public’s faith in how the country picks its leaders. Such a crisis could also have long-lasting consequences for a nation that has already been rocked this year by the coronavirus pandemic, an economic collapse, and a reckoning over racial injustice.
Wealthy Donors Pour Millions into Fight Over Mail-In Voting
AP News – Brian Slodysko and Thomas Beaumont | Published: 7/27/2020
Wealthy and often anonymous donors are pouring over $100 million into an intensifying dispute about whether it should be easier to vote by mail, a fight that could determine President Trump’s fate in the November election. In the battleground of Wisconsin, cash-strapped cities have received $6.3 million from an organization with ties to left-wing philanthropy to help expand vote by mail. Meanwhile, a well-funded conservative group best known for its focus on judicial appointments is spending heavily to fight cases related to mail-in balloting procedures in court. That is just a small slice of the overall spending, which is likely to swell far higher as the election nears.
Canada – Trudeau Strains to Contain Political Scandal Engulfing His Family
Politico – Andy Blatchford | Published: 7/24/2020
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, is embroiled in another controversy of his own making that is inflicting political damage on him and his administration. He is struggling to contain the rapid spread of a firestorm sparked by his plan to award a sole-source contract to a powerful charity and fueled by revelations that members of his family have been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees by the organization over the past half-decade. The dustup also threatens to cost Trudeau his trusted finance minister. The public and parliamentary reaction in Canada to the news and further revelations of speaking fees and travel expenses paid to family members of Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau has been swift and harsh.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – GOP Asks Supreme Court to Reinstate Arizona Voting Rules Deemed Racially Biased
The Hill – John Kruzel | Published: 7/29/2020
Arizona Republicans asked the U.S. Supreme Court for permission to revive a pair of voting restrictions, struck down by a lower court as racially discriminatory, that could make it harder for people of color to cast ballots in the battleground state this fall. In its ruling siding with Democratic challengers, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals went so far as to conclude that one of the two voting rules under review was intentionally designed to discriminate against people of color. In their Supreme Court petition, Arizona Republicans argue the Ninth Circuit was wrong to invalidate the restrictions, which they say are needed to protect the integrity of the vote.
California – A San Jose Commission Will Decide on Strong Mayor, Moving Mayoral Elections
San Jose Spotlight – Carly Wipf | Published: 7/28/2020
Just one month after the plan was devised, San Jose leaders have scrapped a November 2020 ballot measure that could have awarded Mayor Sam Liccardo considerably more power and two extra years in office. Instead, the Charter Review Commission was created to help decide whether San Jose should adopt a strong mayor system, whether mayoral elections should be aligned with presidential elections, and campaign finance reforms, including prohibiting contributions from lobbyists and requiring lawmakers to recuse themselves from votes involving organizations that have donated $250 or more to their campaigns.
California – Developers Allegedly Bribed an L.A. Councilman. What Happens to Their Building Plans?
Los Angeles Times – Emily Alpert Reyes | Published: 7/27/2020
Federal officials have charged Los Angeles City Councilperson Jose Huizar in an ongoing “pay-to-play” probe, accusing him of running a criminal enterprise fueled by bribes from real estate developers seeking to build in his downtown district. It is unclear, however, what might happen to the as-yet unbuilt skyscrapers planned by the executives who allegedly provided those bribes. Several council members have called for the city to reassess approvals for real estate projects mentioned in the criminal case, arguing the building plans have been tainted by the scandal.
California – Former L.A. County Assessor John Noguez Again Faces Corruption Charges
Los Angeles Times – Matt Hamilton | Published: 7/28/2020
The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office refiled charges against former county Assessor John Noguez, reviving the long-running bribery and public corruption case after an appellate court ordered its dismissal on a technical violation. In the new complaint, prosecutors accused Noguez, along with Mark McNeil, a top official in the assessor’s office, and tax consultant Ramin Salari of participating in a scheme in which Noguez would accept bribes to illegally lower the values of properties across greater Los Angeles so Salari’s clients would pay less in taxes.
Florida – NRA Lobbyist Marion Hammer Takes on First Amendment in Appeal
Tampa Bay Times – Dara Kam | Published: 7/29/2020
A federal appeals court appeared skeptical of prominent National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer’s arguments in a lawsuit stemming from graphic emails she received following the February 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle dismissed Hammer’s claims against attorney Lawrence Sorensen, who sent two emails to Hammer that included photos showing injuries from gunshot wounds. The judge’s ruling came four months after Hammer filed a lawsuit against Sorensen and three other unrelated men because of emails she received. As Florida lawmakers considered legislation in the aftermath of the school shooting, Hammer lobbied against measures that would restrict gun owners’ rights.
Georgia – Georgia Senator Is Criticized for Ad Enlarging Jewish Opponent’s Nose
MSN – Rick Rojas (New York Times) | Published: 7/27/2020
U.S. Sen. David Perdue of Georgia has taken down a digital campaign ad featuring a manipulated picture of his Democratic opponent Jon Ossoff, who is Jewish, with an enlarged nose. Before being removed, the Facebook ad showed grainy pictures of Ossoff and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, who is also Jewish. “Democrats are trying to buy Georgia!” the ad said, adding that Schumer had poured millions of dollars into the race. Perdue’s campaign said the alteration had been an outside vendor’s error. But critics said it reflected something more insidious, arguing the campaign had employed imagery long used to malign Jews at a time when a rising tide of anti-Semitism in the country has seeped into politics.
Illinois – Feds Subpoena AT&T as Part of Investigation into Speaker Madigan and Lobbying
Chicago Tribune – Jason Meisner, Hal Dardick, Jamie Munks, and Ray Long | Published: 7/23/2020
AT&T has been subpoenaed by federal prosecutors amid a widening criminal probe encircling Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s political operation. The subpoena is part of an inquiry into whether companies improperly used a stable of consultants with ties to Madigan as they pushed for legislation in Springfield. The revelation comes after prosecutors asked Madigan’s office for “any and all documents and communications” concerning AT&T, including contracts and correspondence related to the hiring of anyone to provide consulting or lobbying services to the public utility.
Maine – Maine Lawmakers Want Hydro-Quebec to Stop Trying to Influence Voters on CMP Corridor
Bangor Daily News – Lori Valigra | Published: 7/29/2020
A group of 25 current and former Maine lawmakers wrote a letter to Quebec’s premier and Hydro-Quebec’s chief executive officer asking that they stop trying to influence the outcome of a referendum this November on Central Maine Power’s (CMP) proposed $1 billion hydropower corridor. So far, Clean Energy Matters, a CMP-linked group, and Hydro-Quebec have spent close to $14.7 million to promote the corridor. The lawmakers said they are concerned Hydro-Quebec is exploiting a loophole in Maine ethics laws they sought to close when the pandemic hit and the Legislature adjourned abruptly in March. A bill would prohibit contributions, expenditures, and participation by foreign nationals to influence referendum questions.
Maryland – Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby Asks Inspector General’s Office to Investigate Her Travel, Businesses
Baltimore Sun – Jessica Anderson | Published: 7/23/2020
Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby asked the city Inspector general’s office to investigate her travel and financial disclosures. It is unusual for an official to seek an investigation of themselves, but the move comes as Mosby weathers criticism of her trips and business arrangements. The request comes after Mosby filed financial disclosure statements with the State Ethics Commission, which revealed she traveled at least 20 times for events over the past two years, including trips abroad. Most of the travel, which totaled in the tens of thousands of dollars, was paid for by outside organizations.
Maryland – Montgomery Chief Administrative Officer Andrew Kleine Fined for Ethics Violation, But Officials Want More Action
Washington Post – Rebecca Tan | Published: 7/29/2020
Montgomery County lawmakers are calling for greater disciplinary action against Chief Administrative Officer Andrew Kleine, who admitted to violating an ethics law by using public dollars to promote a book he wrote and maintaining business relationships with two companies that landed county contracts shortly after he took his job. Kleine, who is the top aide to County Executive Marc Elrich, agreed to pay a $5,000 fine for the ethics violations. Some county council members say the fine is not sufficient.
Michigan – Mystery Money Fuels Campaign to Limit Whitmer’s Emergency Powers
Detroit News – Craig Mauger | Published: 7/27/2020
The group collecting petitions to limit Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency powers is primarily being funded by a nonprofit that does not have to disclose its donors. Michigan Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility, an organization with ties to Senate Republicans, gave $660,200 to Unlock Michigan from June 9 through July 20. Unlock Michigan is the ballot committee that wants to repeal a 1945 law that allows the governor to declare a state of emergency and keep the declaration in place without input or approval from the Legislature. The group’s board has also featured employees of a consulting firm that works with Senate Republicans. The nonprofit is listed at the same address as the consulting firm in Lansing.
Missouri – Documents Say Political Consultants Tied to Mantovani Tried to Help Polish Stenger Lies about Northwest Plaza
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Jeremy Kohler | Published: 7/25/2020
Two political consultants working to support Mark Mantovani’s bid for St. Louis County executive were part of an effort in 2018 by advisors to the former executive, Steve Stenger, to mislead the public about the cost of a real estate deal involving some of Stenger’s biggest campaign donors. County officials submitted statements to the county council’s ethics committee in 2019 as part of a probe into the county’s lease for office space in the former Northwest Plaza in St. Ann. A newspaper investigation would reveal the lease was far more costly than previously known, sparking an inquiry by the ethics committee. Those hearings revealed how Stenger circumvented procurement staff by placing political appointees in charge of lease negotiations. The owners of the site were among his largest campaign supporters.
Missouri – Marijuana Licensing Woes Dog Missouri’s Governor
Politico – Mona Zhang | Published: 7/27/2020
After Missouri voted to legalize medical marijuana in November 2018, the state’s new governor, Mike Parson, moved quickly to certify tens of thousands of patients and begin licensing cannabis businesses. But what seemed at first to be an easy source of voter satisfaction and a new cache of revenue to the state has boomeranged badly. A flood of complaints led to state and federal corruption probes that now threaten Parson’s 2020 campaign. The governor’s friend and fundraiser, Steve Tilley, is at the center of the probes. He represented clients who appeared to receive a boost in the licensing process.
Missouri – PAC Money to Page from Lobbyist Under FBI Scrutiny Draws Interest in St. Louis County Executive Race
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Jack Suntrup | Published: 7/23/2020
St. Louis County Executive Sam Page last year accepted $2,049 in campaign contributions from a PAC tied to a Jefferson City lobbyist and company under FBI investigation in Kansas City. The contribution came the month after Page lent his support to a low-income housing project in Dellwood that listed Gardner Capital as its developer, and whose financial backers are the Centene Charitable Foundation and Sterling Bank. The project developers were seeking $615,000 in annual low-income housing tax credits and ultimately won approval. Gardner Capital, Sterling Bank, and Centene Corp. all retain the same lobbyist, Steve Tilley, who also is a former Missouri House speaker. It has been reported the FBI was investigating Gardner Capital and Tilley, among others, in a possible “pay-to-play” scheme in Independence.
New Jersey – Gannett Reporter Faces Ethics Questions After Repeated Asks of N.J. Governor About Indoor Dining
New Jersey Globe – David Wildstein | Published: 7/24/2020
Dustin Racioppi is a statehouse reporter for The Bergen Record. He also moonlights as a bartender at Murphy’s Tavern, an old speakeasy and restaurant that is owned by his wife. Occasionally, the two jobs intersect, and alarm bells go off about a potential conflict-of-interest. As a reporter, part of Racioppi’s job is to cover Gov. Phil Murphy and the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Racioppi frequently peppers Murphy with questions about the reopening of indoor restaurant dining but has not publicly disclosed the governor’s decision to close eating establishments, including his own, has had an effect on his family’s personal income.
New Jersey – Trump Keeps Touting New Jersey Fraud Case to Attack Mail Voting. Local Leaders Say He’s Not Telling the Whole Story.
MSN – Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) | Published: 7/26/2020
Days before the citizens of Paterson, New Jersey, selected new members of their city council in May, a postal employee in a neighboring town spotted something suspicious in a local post office: 347 mail-in ballots, bundled together. Four men, including a city councilperson, have been charged with fraud. The county election board disqualified 19 percent of ballots cast in the race. The episode probably would have remained a local dust-up but for the interest of President Trump, who has attacked voting by mail as susceptible to massive fraud. But those involved in the Paterson case said the president is vastly oversimplifying what took place in a local election, using it to serve his own political purposes and overstating the extent to which problems in their city serve as some kind of national cautionary tale.
New York – Trump Lawyers Renew Legal Assault on Tax Records Subpoena
AP News – Larry Neumeister | Published: 7/27/2020
President Trump’s lawyers filed fresh arguments to try to block a criminal subpoena for his tax records, saying it was issued in bad faith, might have been politically motivated, and calling it a harassment of the president. Attorneys filed a rewritten lawsuit in Manhattan federal court to challenge the subpoena by a state prosecutor on grounds they believe conform with how the U.S. Supreme Court said the subpoena can be contested. The high court ruled Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. could subpoena tax records from Trump’s accountant over his objections.
North Dakota – North Dakota Ethics Commission Requests Attorney General Opinion; Bill Drafts in Works for 2021
Bismarck Tribune – Jack Dura | Published: 7/23/2020
The North Dakota Ethics Commission is asking for a state attorney general opinion amid its rulemaking process. Commission Executive Director David Thiele said the agency is seeking clarification on “our authority to expand on the definition of ‘lobbyist’ as it relates to gifts.” A time frame for receiving an opinion is unclear. North Dakota voters in 2018 approved the Ethics Commission in a constitutional initiative that also included a lobbyist gift prohibition that takes effect in January. Related rules are to be adopted by then. The 2019 Legislature passed Republican majority leaders’ framework for implementing the measure.
Ohio – Bribery Case Shines Light on Ohio’s Campaign Finance Laws, Nonprofits
Toledo Blade – Jim Provance | Published: 7/25/2020
U.S. Attorney David DeVillers outlined a scheme by which authorities allege Ohio’s largest utility company used a series of nonprofit entities to funnel millions of dollars to the benefit of Columbus lawmakers who eventually approved a $1 billion citizen-backed bailout of the state’s nuclear power industry. But neither Ohio nor federal campaign finance laws currently require such disclosure by nonprofits. Such secrecy has long obscured the extent to which money influences politics in the Buckeye State, but it appears to be under newfound scrutiny as taxpayers take stock of the sweeping racketeering and bribery probe. Gov. Mike DeWine now says he would support closing that “dark-money” loophole in the law.
Ohio – Criminal Charges Against Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder Echo Past Pay-to-Play Allegations
MSN – Sabrina Eaton (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 7/28/2020
More than a decade before Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder’s July 21 arrest in a federal bribery probe of the state’s nuclear bailout law, his aggressive fundraising practices came under law enforcement scrutiny. But no charges resulted from that case. According to previous news reports, Householder’s operatives raised millions of dollars for him and House Republicans by threatening to withhold financial support from those who did not vote with Householder on key pieces of legislation. The reporting also revealed allegations they strong-armed members to embrace no-new-taxes pledges, using political nonprofits to wage campaigns against Democrats and uncooperative Republican primary opponents.
Ohio – Householder Probe Generates Campaign Cash Problem for House Republicans
Cincinnati Enquirer – Jessie Balmert | Published: 7/29/2020
Without Speaker Larry Householder’s fundraising operation, Ohio House Republicans find themselves in a disastrous financial spot heading into competitive fall races. With fewer than 100 days until the November election, House Republicans’ campaign fund should total millions of dollars, GOP campaign operatives said. But the House Republican Campaign Committee’s (HRCC) latest financial report shows $384,000 and the current total could be even less. That is because House Republicans’ campaigns, by and large, were not bankrolled by the HRCC. Instead, money flowed through Householder’s personal campaign fund and “dark money” groups to elect Republicans loyal to the speaker.
Ohio – Ohio House Ousts Top Leader After Arrest in Bribery Scheme
AP News – Farnoush Amiri | Published: 7/30/2020
The Ohio House ousted its speaker as the chamber’s top leader in a historic, unanimous, and bipartisan vote after he was charged in an alleged $60 million bribery scheme. Rep. Larry Householder is the first Ohio House speaker ever removed by lawmakers. For now, he still retains his seat in the Legislature. Remaining members of Householder’s leadership team had said he deserves the presumption of innocence but “lost the trust of his colleagues and the public” and could not effectively lead the House
Pennsylvania – Former Congressman Ozzie Myers Caught in 1970s Abscam Sting Has Been Indicted Again – This Time for Election Fraud
MSN – Jeremy Roebuck (Philadelphia Inquirer) | Published: 7/23/2020
Former U.S. Rep. Michael Myers, previously sent to prison in the 1970s Abscam investigation, was charged with new allegations that he bribed a poll worker to stuff ballot boxes in local elections in Philadelphia. Federal prosecutors allege Myers, now working as a campaign consultant, paid a judge of elections to fraudulently add votes to candidates who had hired him to represent him in their races between 2014 and 2016. Prosecutors did not say whether those candidates went on to win their elections or whether the votes added by DeMuro, who pleaded guilty to similar charges in March, were decisive in tipping the outcome.
Rhode Island – RI Supreme Court Justice Wins Appeal of $200 Ethics Violation
WPRI – Eli Sherman and Walt Bateau | Published: 7/27/2020
A Superior Court judge overturned the Rhode Island Ethics Commission’s decision to fine state Supreme Court Justice Francis Flaherty $200 for failing to disclose that he was president of a Catholic legal group while ruling on a priest sexual abuse case. Judge Brian Stern concluded the commission failed to show Flaherty’s actions were “deliberate or intentional” or that he was aware he needed to list his position as president of the St. Thomas More Society of Rhode Island on his yearly financial statements.
Tennessee – Former House Speaker Glen Casada Pays $10,500 Fine with Money from Political Action Committee
The Tennessean – Joel Ebert | Published: 7/28/2020
Former Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada skirted around state law to use campaign money held by his PAC to pay a civil penalty of $10,500 levied fine by the Registry of Election Finance. Using money maintained in a candidate’s personal campaign account to pay off a fine is illegal under Tennessee law. The law, however, only applies to candidates’ campaign committees and not PACs controlled by candidates, said Bill Young, executive director of the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance. “The law is silent on PACs,” Young said.