May 7, 2019 •

Annapolis Mayor Sets Dates for Ward 6 Special Elections

Annapolis City Hall via Preserve Maryland

On May 5, Mayor Gavin Buckley issued a proclamation declaring the Ward 6 council seat vacant after the resignation of former Alderwoman Shaneka Henson. Henson was selected to complete the term of the late Michael Busch in the Maryland House […]

On May 5, Mayor Gavin Buckley issued a proclamation declaring the Ward 6 council seat vacant after the resignation of former Alderwoman Shaneka Henson.

Henson was selected to complete the term of the late Michael Busch in the Maryland House of Delegates.

Henson resigned after last Monday’s regular City Council meeting.

According to the City Charter, the Mayor had to issue a proclamation to fill the council seat within five days after receiving the resignation and schedule the dates for a special election.

The dates for the two special elections are the primary on June 4, with the general on July 2.

Continue Reading - 1 min read Close

May 7, 2019 •

Tuesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance National: “A Lawsuit About Trump and the NRA Could Upend How the Government Polices Campaign Finance” by Nihal Krishan for Mother Jones National: “Desperate Drive to Make the Debate Stage Shakes Dem Campaigns” by Elena Schneider for Politico […]

Campaign Finance

National: “A Lawsuit About Trump and the NRA Could Upend How the Government Polices Campaign Finance” by Nihal Krishan for Mother Jones

National: “Desperate Drive to Make the Debate Stage Shakes Dem Campaigns” by Elena Schneider for Politico

Elections

Florida: “Florida Legislators Agree to Limit Felons’ Voting Rights. Critics Call It a New Poll Tax.” by Amy Gardner for Washington Post

Ethics

Michigan: “Unlike the Rest of America, Michigan Lawmakers’ Personal Finances Are a Secret” by Lauren Gibbons and Taylor DesOrmeau for MLive.com

Missouri: “Former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger Pleads Guilty to Pay-to-Play Charges” by Robert Patrick for St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Pennsylvania: “Bob Brady’s Political Guru, Ken Smukler, Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison for Campaign Finance Crimes” by Jeremy Roebuck for Philadelphia Inquirer

Lobbying

Montana: “Aviation Fuel Tax Accompanied by Grassroots Effort, but Not Technically Lobbying” by Holly Michels for Helena Independent Record

Redistricting

Ohio: “Federal Judges Declare Ohio Congressional Map Unconstitutional” by Robert Barnes for Washington Post

Continue Reading - 2 min read Close

May 6, 2019 •

Tennessee General Assembly Adjourns Sine Die

Tennessee Capitol Building - Ichabod [CC BY-SA 3.0]

The 111th Tennessee General Assembly adjourned May 2 after a nearly four-month session. During the session, Senate Bill 234 passed requiring any multicandidate political campaign committee registering a new committee to pay the appropriate registration fee. The fee is due […]

The 111th Tennessee General Assembly adjourned May 2 after a nearly four-month session.

During the session, Senate Bill 234 passed requiring any multicandidate political campaign committee registering a new committee to pay the appropriate registration fee.

The fee is due at the time the committee certifies its political treasurer.

Additionally, payment of the registration fee by one affiliated political campaign committee includes disclosed affiliated committees registering separately.

The bill became effective when signed by the governor on April 1.

The General Assembly is scheduled to reconvene on January 14, 2020.

Continue Reading - 1 min read Close

May 6, 2019 •

Colorado General Assembly Adjourns Sine Die

Colorado Capitol Building

The 72nd Colorado General Assembly adjourned sine die on May 3 after 120 legislative days. During the session, House Bill 1007 passed creating contribution limits under the Fair Campaign Practices Act for county office candidates. Additionally, Senate Bill 68 passed […]

The 72nd Colorado General Assembly adjourned sine die on May 3 after 120 legislative days.

During the session, House Bill 1007 passed creating contribution limits under the Fair Campaign Practices Act for county office candidates.

Additionally, Senate Bill 68 passed expanding disclosure of electioneering communications.

The last day for the governor to act on bills for the 2019 session is June 2, 2019.

The General Assembly is scheduled to reconvene on January 8, 2020.

Continue Reading - 1 min read Close

May 6, 2019 •

Federal Judges Rule Ohio Congressional Map Unconstitutional

Ohio's Current Congressional Map

A three-judge federal panel unanimously ruled Ohio’s gerrymandered congressional district map unconstitutional under the First and 14th Amendments. On behalf of the League of Women Voters, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio filed the suit. The suit claimed the […]

A three-judge federal panel unanimously ruled Ohio’s gerrymandered congressional district map unconstitutional under the First and 14th Amendments.

On behalf of the League of Women Voters, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio filed the suit.

The suit claimed the congressional map disfavored democratic voters on the basis of their political affiliation.

The court ordered the state to create a new map by June 14 to prepare for the 2020 election.

Continue Reading - 1 min read Close

May 6, 2019 •

Monday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance Pennsylvania: “Dark Money Under Spotlight as Campaign Finance Law Changes Right Before Philly Primary” by Julia Terruso and Chris Brennan for Philadelphia Inquirer Elections National: “F.B.I. Sent Investigator Posing as Assistant to Meet with Trump Aide in 2016” […]

Campaign Finance

Pennsylvania: “Dark Money Under Spotlight as Campaign Finance Law Changes Right Before Philly Primary” by Julia Terruso and Chris Brennan for Philadelphia Inquirer

Elections

National: “F.B.I. Sent Investigator Posing as Assistant to Meet with Trump Aide in 2016” by Adam Goldman, Michael Schmidt, and Mark Mazzetti (New York Times) for MSN

Ethics

National: “Watergate Had the Nixon Tapes. Mueller Had Annie Donaldson’s Notes.” by Carol Leonnig (Washington Post) for MSN

Indiana: “Casino Company Turned to State Lawmaker for Title Work. He Voted for Massive Gaming Bill.” by Tony Cook and Kaitlin Lange for Indianapolis Star

Kentucky: “‘He Is a Whiny, Off-Topic Social Media Troll.’ Why Bevin Banned Critics on Social Media.” by John Cheves for Lexington Herald-Leader

Maryland: “Baltimore Mayor Pugh Resigns After Month on Leave Amid Investigation into Her Business Deals” by Ian Duncan, Jean Marbella, and Luke Broadwater (Baltimore Sun) for MSN

New Mexico: “Padilla Claims AG Concealed Recording Device in Coffeepot” by Dan Boyd for Albuquerque Journal

Legislative Issues

California: “How Powerful Lawmakers Are Killing California Bills – Without a Peep” by Laurel Rosenhall for CALmatters

Continue Reading - 2 min read Close

May 3, 2019 •

News You Can Use Digest – May 3, 2019

News You Can Use

National/Federal Acting Defense Secretary Cleared of Wrongdoing in Probe of His Ties to Boeing Washington Post – Dan Lamothe and Heather Ryan | Published: 4/24/2019 The Pentagon’s watchdog cleared Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan of wrongdoing in an investigation examining whether he […]

National/Federal

Acting Defense Secretary Cleared of Wrongdoing in Probe of His Ties to Boeing
Washington Post – Dan Lamothe and Heather Ryan | Published: 4/24/2019

The Pentagon’s watchdog cleared Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan of wrongdoing in an investigation examining whether he used his influence at the Defense Department to favor Boeing, his former employer. The results seemingly clear the way for President Trump to nominate Shanahan to take over as Pentagon chief. The probe was launched after the department’s inspector general received reports saying Shanahan had boosted Boeing in meetings, disparaged Boeing’s competitors, pressured Pentagon officials to buy Boeing products, and sought to influence the Air Force’s decision on accepting a Boeing aircraft after technical problems delayed its delivery.

As Buttigieg Builds His Campaign, Gay Donors Provide the Foundation
New York Times – Jeremy Peters and Shane Goldmacher | Published: 4/30/2019

After vaulting into the top tier of presidential candidates vying for the 2020 Democratic nomination, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is building a nationwide network of donors that is anchored by many wealthy and well-connected figures in LGBT political circles. Buttigieg’s candidacy has struck a powerful chord with many top LGBT donors. Though many said they believed they would see a gay man or lesbian become a serious contender for the White House, most of them had never considered it beyond the abstract. But the LGBT community is no monolith, and Buttigieg’s candidacy is exposing tensions that have been papered over during the period of relative unity and common purpose that has taken hold since President Trump took office.

Biden Faces Conflict of Interest Questions That Are Being Promoted by Trump and Allies
MSN – Kenneth Vogel and Iuliia Mendel (New York Times) | Published: 5/1/2019

Then-Vice President Joe Biden traveled to Kiev in March 2016 and threatened to withhold $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees if Ukraine’s leaders did not dismiss the country’s top prosecutor, who had been accused of turning a blind eye to corruption in the country. The prosecutor general was soon voted out by Parliament. Among those who had a stake in the outcome was Hunter Biden, the younger son of the former vice president, who at the time was on the board of an energy company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch who had been in the sights of the fired prosecutor general. The broad outlines of how the roles of the father and son intersected have been known for some time. New details about Hunter Biden’s involvement have pushed the issue back into the spotlight just as the elder Biden is beginning his campaign for president.

Congressional Democrats’ Emoluments Lawsuit Targeting President Trump’s Private Business Can Proceed, Judge Says
MSN – Jonathan O’Connell, Ann Marimow, and Carol Leonnig (Washington Post) | Published: 4/30/2019

A federal judge ruled Democrats in Congress can move ahead with their lawsuit against President Trump alleging his private business violates the Constitution’s ban on gifts or payments from foreign governments. The decision by U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan adopted a broad definition of the anti-corruption law and could set the stage for Democratic lawmakers to begin seeking information from the Trump Organization. The Justice Department can try to delay or block the process by asking an appeals court to intervene. Sullivan refused the request of the president’s legal team to dismiss the case and rejected Trump’s narrow definition of emoluments, finding it “unpersuasive and inconsistent.”

In Its Fight to Keep Drug Prices High, Big Pharma Leans on Charities
Los Angeles Times – Ben Elgin (Bloomberg) | Published: 4/29/2019

Many self-styled patient-advocacy groups with murky origins or hidden funders have cropped up since 2017. With names like the Doctor-Patient Rights Project or the Defenders Coalition, such groups pursue various policy aims that include effectively aiding pharmaceutical companies’ efforts to defeat drug-price proposals. The nonprofits take public positions in newspaper op-eds and letters to Congress while drug makers, beset by years of negative publicity over price hikes, tend to remain in the background. The groups say they are independent. That is not true for all of them, said Marc Boutin, chief executive of the National Health Council, which has more than 50 patient groups and dozens of drug makers as members. “There are a number of groups created by pharma companies that look and act like patient organizations, but they’re 100 percent funded by industry,” said Boutin, who did not name any specific examples.

Maria Butina, Russian Who Conspired to Infiltrate Conservative U.S. Political Groups, Sentenced to 18 Months
Boston Globe – Spencer Hsu and Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) | Published: 4/26/2019

A federal judge sentenced Russian gun rights activist Maria Butina to 18 months in prison Friday after calling her plot to penetrate conservative U.S. political circles without disclosing she was working as a foreign agent for the Kremlin “dangerous” and “a threat to our democracy.” Butina pleaded guilty to conspiring with a senior Russian official to access the National Rifle Association (NRA) and other groups without registering with the U.S. Justice Department from 2015 until she was arrested and detained in July. Butina admitted she worked under the direction of Alexander Torshin, a former Russian government official, and with an American political operative on a multiyear scheme to establish unofficial lines of communications with Americans who could influence U.S. politics.

‘No Corporate PAC’ Pledges Aren’t Always So Pure
Roll Call – Kate Ackley | Published: 4/29/2019

Many incumbents in the club of Democratic lawmakers who refuse corporate PAC dollars still accept donations from colleagues and party committees that take the funds. Numerous freshman Democrats who ran on a no-corporate-PAC-money mantra opened their re-election coffers to donations this year from party leaders and committees, such as the New Democrat Coalition Action Fund, that are full of funding from some of the nation’s best-known companies. Taking donations from party leaders and committees allows pledge-takers to stick to their vows while cleansing some of the “dirty” dollars and diluting the influence of the companies, but not banishing such money entirely.

Pete Buttigieg Swears Off the Lobbyist Money He Once Accepted
New York Times – Jeremy Peters and Shane Goldmacher | Published: 4/26/2019

Pete Buttigieg, whose upstart presidential campaign has benefited from an early surge of donations and national attention, will no longer accept contributions from federal lobbyists, bowing to pressure from fellow Democrats who want to reform the way campaigns raise money. Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, was somewhat isolated among his rivals for the 2020 Democratic nomination because he initially accepted lobbyist money, putting him at odds with the more progressive wing of his party. He will return the contributions he had already accepted from lobbyists, which his campaign said totaled $30,250 from 39 individuals.

Trump Views the Supreme Court as an Ally, Sowing Doubt About Its Independence Among His Critics
MSN – Robert Barnes and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 4/27/2019

President Trump’s tweets demonstrate he views the U.S. Supreme Court as an ally, and safeguard against lower court defeats and congressional opponents. His administration’s lawyers have tried to leapfrog the legal process to seek the high court’s quick review of adverse rulings and nationwide injunctions by lower courts. They are also ready to go to court as the president resists demands from congressional Democrats investigating his conduct, business dealings, and personal finances. Critics of the president say his rhetoric seeds doubts about the Supreme Court’s independence, complicates the role of Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., and could taint the victories Trump achieves there.

When the Mueller Investigation Ended, the Battle Over Its Conclusions Began
MSN – Mark Mazzetti and Michael Schmidt (New York Times) | Published: 5/1/2019

Special counsel Robert Mueller wrote a letter in March complaining to Attorney General William Barr that a four-page memo to Congress describing the principal conclusions of the investigation into President Trump “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of Mueller’s work. What followed was a dayslong, behind-the-scenes tussle over the first public presentation of one of the most consequential government investigations in American history. A richer picture of that battle has emerged, one of testy letters (Barr described one as “snitty”) and at least one tense telephone call between the special counsel Mueller and Barr. The two were longtime friends who found themselves on opposite sides of an embattled president. The growing evidence of a split between them also brought fresh scrutiny on Barr.

From the States and Municipalities

California – State Officials Keep Hiring Their Relatives. Will Newsom Crack Down on Nepotism?
Los Angeles Times – Patrick McGreevy | Published: 5/1/2019

California agencies have a long history of nepotism, along with pledges to end such favoritism, but the practice continues. Workers in at least seven state agencies have alleged favoritism shown to family members and friends of administrators in the last decade. Getting a desirable job in state government too often depends on who you know, say watchdogs and employees who have raised red flags. A 2017 investigation found 835 employees of the Board of Equalization, or 17.5 percent of its workforce at the time, were related by blood, adoption, marriage, or cohabitation.

Florida – Former David Straz Staffers Say Nashville Consultant Played Big Role in Campaign’s Failure
Tampa Bay Times – Charlie Frago and Christopher O’Donnell | Published: 4/30/2019

A few days before voters went to the polls in the first round of Tampa’s mayoral election, the David Straz campaign was in an uproar over a missing $225,000. Straz said he was freezing campaign spending until the missing money could be accounted for, members of his team said, but no one could come up with an answer. The reason, they said: political consultant Bill Fletcher was the only one who knew how campaign money was being spent. The Nashville-based consultant had the purse strings while also directing millions of dollars to his own company to buy television, radio, and digital advertising. He answered only to Straz, a political novice. Near-total power wielded by a single consultant is highly unusual and potentially dangerous, said veteran political consultant Adam Goodman.

Kansas – Former Salina Senator Pads State Salary with Travel, Food Vouchers
Topeka Capital Journal – Tim Carpenter | Published: 4/30/2019

The former state senator hired as Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer’s regulatory fixer billed taxpayers thousands of dollars for driving to and from the job in Topeka after his official work station was quietly switched from a state office building near the Capitol to his residence in Salina. Tom Arpke, who burnished a political reputation in the Senate and House as a fiscal conservative eager to expose spending he considered superfluous, was chosen by Colyer to serve as the executive branch’s regulatory ombudsman. The decision to designate Arpke’s office as his personal residence 112 miles away from the Curtis State Office Building adjacent to the Capitol was necessary to justify Arpke’s monthly claims that taxpayers should pay him extra every time he drove to Topeka for work.

Massachusetts – For Sale in the Pot Industry: Political influence
Boston Globe – Andrew Ryan, Beth Healy, Dam Adams, Nicole Dungca, Todd Wallach, and Patricia Wen | Published: 5/1/2019

The law that legalized recreational marijuana in Massachusetts tried to make room for the little guy by limiting the number of cannabis shops a company could own or control. It also directly encourages proposals from black and Latino entrepreneurs whose community members were often unfairly targeted for arrest when pot was illegal. But so far, winning a license to sell marijuana in Massachusetts often seems to be determined by whom you know, or if you can afford to pay a lobbyist or consultant who knows people. Frank Perullo, the owner of Novus Group – which claims to be “one of the nation’s leading cannabis consulting firms” – estimates he has deployed his political connections and expertise to help push 40 to 50 proposed pot shops in Massachusetts.

Michigan – Federal Court: Michigan political maps illegally rigged to ‘historical proportions’
Detroit News – Jonathan Oosting | Published: 4/25/2019

A federal court in Michigan became the latest in the country to strike down its state’s legislative and congressional district maps, ruling they were examples of unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering.  A panel of three judges in the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Michigan cited evidence that showed Republicans loaded some districts with Democratic voters and divided Democratic communities between other Republican-held seats, practices known as packing and cracking. The panel is giving the Republican-led House and Senate until August 1 to redraw the maps and get them signed into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. If state officials do not finalize new maps by then, the court would draw new boundaries itself and could appoint a special master to do so.

Missouri – ‘Pay to Play’ Case Sinks St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Jeremy Kohler, Jacob Barker, and Robert Patrick | Published: 4/30/2019

A federal grand jury indicted St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger on charges of bribery, mail fraud, and the theft of honest services for trading political favors for campaign contributions. Stenger is accused of ensuring that donor John Rallo and his companies obtained contracts with the county and received other favors. Stenger also is accused of ensuring that an unnamed company obtained a state lobbying contract from the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership and taking actions to conceal the illegal conduct. Recent investigations by The St. Louis Post-Dispatch have raised concerns about county contracts going to Stenger’s political donors, and the county council began an ethics investigation into the matter.

New Hampshire – Sununu Inaugural Team Releases Conflict of Interest Policy, Months After Declining to Do So
New Hampshire Public Radio – Casey McDermott | Published: 4/25/2019

When faced with questions earlier this year about the thousands of dollars paid out from his inaugural committee to his sister and top political advisor, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu’s team said those payments followed state and federal regulations, and “the organization’s bylaws and conflict of interest policy.” New Hampshire lacks comprehensive disclosure and compliance rules around gubernatorial inaugural committees, and Sununu is the first sitting governor required to detail how his committee raises and spends money in reports filed with the secretary of state’s office.

New Jersey – The Tax Break Was $260 Million. Benefit to the State Was Tiny: $155,520.
New York Times – Nick Corasaniti and Matthew Haag | Published: 5/1/2019

The Economic Opportunity Act, a measure intended to kick-start the sputtering post-recession economy in New Jersey, particularly in its struggling cities. The state would award lucrative tax breaks to businesses if they moved to New Jersey or remained in the state, creating and retaining jobs. But before the bill was approved by the Legislature, a series of changes were made to its language that were intended to grant specific companies hundreds of millions of dollars in additional tax breaks. Many of the last-minute changes to drafts of the bill were made by a real estate lawyer, Kevin Sheehan, whose influential law firm has close ties to Democratic politicians and legislative leaders in New Jersey. Sheehan was allowed to edit drafts of the bill in ways that opened up sizable tax breaks to his firm’s clients.

New York – Mayor de Blasio and City Hall Staff Cozied Up to Lobbyists and Special Interests in Hundreds of Meetings, News Analysis Shows
New York Daily News – Anna Sanders | Published: 5/2/2019

“I don’t sit down with lobbyists, I don’t talk to lobbyists, and I haven’t for years,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said recently. But a New York Daily News analysis of public records shows otherwise. De Blasio’s deputy mayors, commissioners, and high-ranking aides had at least 358 meetings and talks with both contract and in-house lobbyists in just 11 months, records show. They spoke with 332 different lobbyists during that time, between March 1, 2018, and January 31 of this year. Six of the contract lobbyists are with Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel, a law firm that represented de Blasio during a probe into his fundraising. City taxpayers paid the firm $2.6 million for representing the mayor.

New York – Some Top Albany Lobbyists Aren’t Following Sweeping Disclosure Rule
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 4/27/2019

New requirements imposed by the New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) say lobbyists must disclose the names of lawmakers, agency employees, or local elected officials they directly lobby concerning legislation, regulations, and other matters. A review of the first filings covered by the requirement, reflecting lobbying performed in the first two months of the year, shows many top firms are trying to comply – some in extreme detail – but several prominent firms are not. Bolton St. Johns has not disclosed lobbying any lawmakers or agency officials this year despite employing a lengthy roster of lobbyists and having dozens of clients with legislative business. Whether JCOPE would penalize powerful lobbyists for not following the rule remains to be seen. Critics said it is also far from clear that the new disclosure rule would survive a court challenge.

North Dakota – Legislature Approves Republican-Written Ethics Measure
Dickinson Press – John Hageman (Forum News Service) | Published: 4/25/2019

North Dakota lawmakers approved a bill that sets rules to comply with a voter-approved constitutional amendment aimed at ethics reform. The ballot initiative bans lobbyist gifts to public officials, requires the disclosure of the “ultimate and true source of funds” spent to influence elections and state government action, and creates a new state ethics commission that could investigate malfeasance. Greg Stites, an attorney hired by Measure 1 supporters to lobby lawmakers, said the implementation bill falls short by narrowing the definition of lobbyist and leaving holes in reporting requirements.

Ohio – Ex-Dayton Commissioner, State Lawmaker Arrested; More Arrests Coming, Feds Say
Dayton Daily News – Laura Bischoff, Josh Sweigart, Thomas Gnau, Cornelius Frolick, and Mark Govaki | Published: 4/30/2019

An investigation by federal agents into suspected public corruption in the Dayton area led to charges against Joey Williams, a local bank executive and former city commissioner; former state Rep. Clayton Luckie; city employee RoShawn Winburn; and Brian Higgins, a local man who once owned a dead body hauling business. Four separate federal indictments detail allegations of bribes, fraud, and contract steering. The charges involve allegations of wrong-doing starting in 2014. The separate schemes arose out of the same investigation, authorities said. FBI Assistant Special Agent Joseph Deters said the lengthy investigation used sophisticated methods to “uncover what appears to be a culture of corruption in Dayton-area politics.”

Tennessee – Why This Republican Lawmaker Hired His Own Personal Lobbyist to Work the Capitol Halls
The Tennessean – Joel Ebert | Published: 5/2/2019

Tennessee Rep. Martin Daniel officially hired a lobbyist recently, making him the first lawmaker in recent memory to have such an employee at his disposal. Nashville resident Drew Lonergan filed his lobbyist registration with the Tennessee Ethics Commission on March 25. Lonergan said he had been “consulting” for Daniel since January but registered as a lobbyist after consulting ethics officials. Lonergan’s sole employer listed on his lobbyist registration is Daniel, who is the only current lawmaker to have a personal lobbyist. Daniel said he pays Lonergan out of his own pocket and does not use campaign money to cover the expense.

Continue Reading - 21 min read Close

May 2, 2019 •

Thursday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance Nevada: “One Month Left: Nevada Democrats still haven’t heard a single campaign finance reform bill” by James DeHaven for Reno Gazette Journal Elections Florida: “Former David Straz Staffers Say Nashville Consultant Played Big Role in Campaign’s Failure” by […]

Campaign Finance

Nevada: “One Month Left: Nevada Democrats still haven’t heard a single campaign finance reform bill” by James DeHaven for Reno Gazette Journal

Elections

Florida: “Former David Straz Staffers Say Nashville Consultant Played Big Role in Campaign’s Failure” by Charlie Frago and Christopher O’Donnell for Tampa Bay Times

Ethics

National: “Congressional Democrats’ Emoluments Lawsuit Targeting President Trump’s Private Business Can Proceed, Judge Says” by Jonathan O’Connell, Ann Marimow, and Carol Leonnig (Washington Post) for MSN

National: “Mueller Complained That Barr’s Letter Did Not Capture ‘Context’ of Trump Probe” by Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky (Washington Post) for MSN

California: “State Officials Keep Hiring Their Relatives. Will Newsom Crack Down on Nepotism?” by Patrick McGreevy for Los Angeles Times

Kansas: “Former Salina Senator Pads State Salary with Travel, Food Vouchers” by Tim Carpenter for Topeka Capital Journal

Ohio: “Ex-Dayton Commissioner, State Lawmaker Arrested; More Arrests Coming, Feds Say” by Laura Bischoff, Josh Sweigart, Thomas Gnau, Cornelius Frolick, and Mark Govaki for Dayton Daily News

Legislative Issues

Colorado: “Colorado Lawmakers Have a Dog Office for Dog Business (De-stressing)” by Kevin Beaty for Deverite

Lobbying

Massachusetts: “For Sale in the Pot Industry: Political influence” by Andrew Ryan, Beth Healy, Dam Adams, Nicole Dungca, Todd Wallach, and Patricia Wen for Boston Globe

New Jersey: “The Tax Break Was $260 Million. Benefit to the State Was Tiny: $155,520.” by Nick Corasaniti and Matthew Haag for New York Times

Continue Reading - 2 min read Close

May 1, 2019 •

Maryland Delegates Elect New Speaker

Del. Adrienne Jones (Kenneth K. Lam / Baltimore Sun)

The Maryland House of Delegates elected Del. Adrienne Jones as the new House speaker on May 1. Last month, Gov. Larry Hogan called the special session to elect a successor to the late Michael E. Busch, who passed away on […]

The Maryland House of Delegates elected Del. Adrienne Jones as the new House speaker on May 1.

Last month, Gov. Larry Hogan called the special session to elect a successor to the late Michael E. Busch, who passed away on April 7.

Del. Jones was the speaker pro tem and had been Busch’s second-in-command for 16 years.

The special session was delayed for more than two hours as Democrats battled over who should succeed the longtime speaker.

After much debate, Del. Jones won the nomination and was subsequently elected to the position, making her the first female and first African American speaker in state history.

Continue Reading - 1 min read Close

April 26, 2019 •

News You Can Use Digest – April 25, 2019

      National:  Constraints on Presidency Being Redefined in Trump Era, Report Fallout Shows MSN – Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 4/22/2019 The events that have followed the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report threaten to redefine […]

 

 

 

National: 

Constraints on Presidency Being Redefined in Trump Era, Report Fallout Shows
MSN – Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 4/22/2019

The events that have followed the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report threaten to redefine the legal and ethical standards that have long served as constraints on the American presidency. They also suggest that few, if any, of the traditional guardrails that have kept Donald Trump’s predecessors in check remain for this president and possibly those who will follow him. Current and former aides say they do not expect Trump to change his behavior, saying he is unlikely to be responsive to anything other than political pain in the form of a real revolt by Republican leadership or a sharp drop in poll numbers.

How the IRS Gave Up Fighting Political Dark Money Groups
ProPublica – Maya Miller | Published: 4/18/2019

“Dark money” spending is legal because of a massive loophole. Section 501(c)(4) of the U.S. tax code allows organizations to make independent expenditures on politics while concealing their donors’ names as long as politics is not the organization’s “primary activity.” The IRS has the daunting task of trying to determine when nonprofits in that category, known colloquially as C4s, violate that vague standard. But the IRS’ attempts to police this class of nonprofits have almost completely broken down. Since 2015, thousands of complaints have streamed in that C4s are abusing the rules. But the agency has not stripped a single organization of its tax-exempt status for breaking spending rules during that period. The IRS’ abdication of oversight stems from a trio of causes.

From the States and Municipalities:

Alabama – How a Lawyer, a Lobbyist and a Legislator Waged War on a Birmingham Superfund Site
AL.com – Steven Mufson (Washington Post) | Published: 4/24/2019

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wanted to clean up toxic soil in the 35th Avenue Superfund site in Birmingham. The agency notified Drummond, a coal company, and four other manufacturers nearby that they would have to dig up and replace the soil on hundreds of residential yards. David Roberson, Drummond’s vice president and top lobbyist, worried it would cost his company $100 million or more. Roberson and his lawyer, Joel Gilbert, decided they needed someone who could persuade the people living on contaminated land to protest not the pollution, but the cleanup. They chose Oliver Robinson Jr. then a state representative. Prosecutors ultimately charged Robinson with receiving bribes, while Gilbert and Roberson were charged with bribery, conspiracy, and money laundering in the scheme to stop the EPA.

Alaska – As Capitol Reporters Dwindle, Alaska Lawmakers Grapple with Rise of Political Blogs
KTOO – Nat Herz | Published: 4/23/2019

The press corps in Juneau has a new addition this year: Jeff Landfield, a failed candidate for state Senate who is now running a colorful political blog called the Alaska Landmine. He is one of a growing number of political bloggers who are trying to fill in gaps left by Alaska’s shrinking mainstream media, posing challenges for both lawmakers and the bloggers themselves. Landfield was standing outside the chambers where the House meets recently, and he was getting some attention because he had a black eye. It was a souvenir, Landfield said, from when a legislative aide punched him a few days before at a Juneau bar.

Connecticut – Two Rival Politicians Accused Each Other of Using Drugs. The Result Was a Showdown at a Urinalysis Lab.
Washington Post – Antonia Noori Farzen | Published: 4/22/2019

Two feuding politicians in Bridgeport, Connecticut’s largest city, spent much of the past week accusing each other of being on mind-altering substances after getting into an ugly fight in the comments section of a local political blog. Bridgeport City Councilperson Ernest Newton and Board of Education member Maria Pereira concluded they could only settle their dispute one way: by challenging each other to a public drug test. Newton, whose political career was interrupted by a five-year prison sentence after he pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges, once struggled with an addiction to crack cocaine. Both tested negative for all 10 substances. But the feud did not die down.

Florida – Andrew Gillum Agrees to Pay $5,000 Ethics Fine
News Service of Florida – Tampa Bay Times | Published: 4/24/2019

Former Tallahassee Mayor and gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum agreed to pay a $5,000 fine to settle a complaint he violated state law by accepted gifts worth more than $100 from lobbyists or their clients who had interests in the city and failed to report them. The Florida Commission on Ethics agreed to drop four additional counts in the settlement. The commission had found probable cause that Gillum violated ethics laws for allegedly accepting gifts from Tallahassee entrepreneur Adam Corey and undercover FBI agents posing as developers. Corey had been a close friend of Gillum and lobbied city officials. The charges related to trips to Costa Rica and New York, a boat ride around the Statue of Liberty, and a ticket to the Broadway hit, “Hamilton.”

Florida – Opioid Lawsuit Bill Stalls in Florida Committee Chaired by Sister-in-Law of Walgreens Lobbyist
Tampa Bay Times – Lawrencwe Mower | Published: 4/22/2019

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is suing the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors, accusing them of recklessly supplying Floridians with millions of drugs per year. But a bill that is critical to the lawsuit moving forward has stalled in the committee of a powerful lawmaker: Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, who said her committee would not hear it because of concerns the bill could invade the privacy of patients. Benacquisto said her objections are not related to her brother-in-law, Chris Hansen, a lobbyist whose clients include Walgreens – one of the defendants in Moody’s lawsuit.

Maine – Numbers of Maine Lawmakers Who Went on to Lobby
AP News – Marina Villeneuva | Published: 4/21/2019

At least 14 Democratic and eight Republican lawmakers in Maine have gone on to register as paid lobbyists over the past three decades, a practice that is being targeted by a bill moving through the state Legislature. The House and Senate advanced a bill to ban future lawmakers from any paid lobbying within their first year out of office. The state ethics commissions had called for the change in 2017. The Associated Press (AP) compared state lobbying reports with legislative rosters and found that nearly half of the 22 former lawmakers who registered as lobbyists over the past three decades did so within the same year of leaving office. The lawmakers-turned-lobbyists have raked in $3.6 million in total compensation for their firms, according to the AP analysis.

Maryland – Federal Agents Search Baltimore City Hall and Mayor Catherine Pugh’s Home
Washington Post – Ann Marimow, Peter Hermann, and Lynh Bui | Published: 4/25/2019

Federal agents searched Baltimore City Hall and Mayor Catherine Pugh’s home among other sites amid fallout from lucrative children’s book deals she cut with businesses connected to the government she has run since 2016. Pugh took an indefinite leave of absence beginning April 1 attributed to health issues following criticism of the more than $700,000 she was paid for her self-published “Healthy Holly” book series. The book-deal revelations have led to calls from the city council and state lawmakers for Pugh’s resignation; an investigation by the state prosecutor; and to the firing of several of her aides. Investigators are scrutinizing Pugh’s deals with entities including Kaiser Permanente, which was awarded city contracts, and the University of Maryland Medical System, on whose board she sat for many years.

Massachusetts – Amid ‘Slush Fund’ Criticism, Nearly All Legislative Caucuses Will Forgo Outside Donations
Boston Globe – Matt Stout | Published: 4/24/2019

All but one of the nearly two dozen caucuses formed by Massachusetts lawmakers say they will not solicit outside contributions, weeks after a new internal rule allowing legislative groups to raise private funds stirred controversy on Beacon Hill. The rule, which requires all caucuses to register with the House Committee on Rules, also bars lobbyists from donating and says caucuses must receive approval from House counsel before taking any gift of more than $50. The potential of taking donations outside of campaign finance disclosure laws drew intense heat, including criticisms it could create a legislative “slush fund.”

Minnesota – Minnesota Lawmakers, Lobbyists Describe Cautious Capitol in Wake of #MeToo
Minneapolis Star Tribune – Jessie Van Berkel | Published: 4/21/2019

A year and a half after reports of sexual harassment rocked the Minnesota Legislature and prompted two resignations, lawmakers and lobbyists describe a changed atmosphere at the Capitol. People are more cautious and aware of what crosses the line. There is also a new group of House members, many of them younger women, who are outspoken about addressing harassment and gender equality. But some at the Capitol say they worry the good behavior and awareness will fall by the wayside if the energy of the #MeToo movement fades from the spotlight.

Missouri – Lobbyist’s Crusade to Change Title IX in Missouri Stems from His Son’s Expulsion
Kansas City Star – Edward McKinley | Published: 4/23/2019

After his son was expelled from Washington University last year through the school’s Title IX process, a leading Jefferson City lobbyist launched a campaign to change the law for every campus in the state. Richard McIntosh has argued to legislators that Title IX, the federal law barring sexual discrimination in education and mandating that schools set up internal systems to police sexual violence, is tilted unfairly against the accused. His proposals create more protections for those accused of Title IX violations. Had McIntosh’s amendment been enacted, it would have allowed his son to appeal the result of his hearing to the state Administrative Hearing Commission, where his mother and McIntosh’s wife is the presiding and managing commissioner.

South Dakota – S.D. House Speaker Paid $12,000 for Lobbyist’s Legal Fees
KELOLAND – Bob Mercer | Published: 4/23/2019

South Dakota House Speaker Steven Haugaard authorized a payment of $12,000 for a lobbyist’s legal fees after he banned her from the chamber floor, and South Dakota Municipal League Executive Director Yvonne Taylor’s attorneys have asked a federal judge to dismiss the league’s lawsuit against Haugaard. Court documents say Haugaard called Taylor into his office and brought up her column from the league’s magazine. In the article, which appeared prior to the June 2018 primary elections, Taylor suggested voters make a distinction between what she called “The Normals” and the “Wackies” in the Legislature. One sentence said: “We desperately need to get that ‘wacky ratio’ down.” A judge issued a temporary restraining order against Haugaard and said the speaker was not protected by legislative immunity.

Texas – Conservative Group Empower Texans Sues Lawmaker to Gain State House Media Credentials
Texas Tribune – Emma Platoff | Published: 4/18/2019

Months after being denied media credentials for the Texas House, the conservative organization Texas Scorecard – a product of Empower Texans, a Tea Party-aligned political advocacy group with one of the state’s best-funded PACs – filed a First Amendment lawsuit arguing its rejection from the chamber constitutes “unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination.” Before the legislative session began in January, two employees of Texas Scorecard applied for media credentials in the Legislature. In the Senate, their credentials were granted; in the House, they were denied. The two chambers follow similar rules about who is allowed special journalistic access to the floor, and both prohibit lobbyists. But the chambers’ political atmospheres are different.

Washington – A State Senator Said Nurses ‘Probably Play Cards’ at Work. Facing Mass Outrage, She’s Apologized.
Seattle Times – Allyson Chiu (Washington Post) | Published: 4/21/2019

While debating a bill that would give nurses uninterrupted meals and breaks at work and protect them from mandatory overtime, Washington Sen. Maureen Walsh arguing that hospitals in rural communities should be excluded from the measure because the requirements would place too much strain on those facilities. “By putting these types of mandates on a critical access hospital that literally serves a handful of individuals, I would submit to you that those nurses probably do get breaks – they probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day,” Walsh said. The comment sparked an online petition calling for her to shadow a nurse and “experience what really happens” during a 12-hour shift. The senator’s office has also been flooded with angry phone calls and emails as well as packages containing decks of playing cards.

Continue Reading - 13 min read Close

April 23, 2019 •

Missouri Calls Special Election to Fill Two House Vacancies

A special election will take place on November 5 to fill vacancies in House Districts 99 and 158. Rep. Jean Evans resigned from District 99 to become executive director of the Missouri Republican Party. Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick left District 158 […]

A special election will take place on November 5 to fill vacancies in House Districts 99 and 158.

Rep. Jean Evans resigned from District 99 to become executive director of the Missouri Republican Party.

Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick left District 158 to serve as state treasurer.

Continue Reading - 1 min read Close

April 22, 2019 •

Georgia Raises Contribution Limits

Last week, the Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission voted to raise contribution limits. For statewide elected offices the contribution limits raised from $6,600 to $7,000 for primary and general elections. Primary and general runoff elections limits were raised from […]

Last week, the Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission voted to raise contribution limits.

For statewide elected offices the contribution limits raised from $6,600 to $7,000 for primary and general elections.

Primary and general runoff elections limits were raised from $3,900 to $4,100 for statewide elected offices.

Contribution limits for all other offices were also raised from $2,600 to $2,800 for primary and general elections and from $1,400 to $1,500 for primary and general runoff elections.

The previous contribution limits had not changed since 2016.

Continue Reading - 1 min read Close

April 22, 2019 •

Monday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance National: “How the IRS Gave Up Fighting Political Dark Money Groups” by Maya Miller for ProPublica South Dakota: “Lobbyists Sue SD Officials Over Ban on Out-of-State Contributions to Ballot Measure Committees” by Sarah Mearhoff for Mitchell Republic Elections […]

Campaign Finance

National: “How the IRS Gave Up Fighting Political Dark Money Groups” by Maya Miller for ProPublica

South Dakota: “Lobbyists Sue SD Officials Over Ban on Out-of-State Contributions to Ballot Measure Committees” by Sarah Mearhoff for Mitchell Republic

Elections

National: “Mueller’s Report Paints a Portrait of a Campaign Intrigued by Russian Overtures” by Rosalind Helderman, Tom Hamburger, Karoun Demirjian, and Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) for Anchorage Daily News

Ethics

California: “Lawmakers and Landlords: More than a quarter of California legislators are both” by Matt Levin and Elizabeth Castillo for CALmatters

South Carolina: “Richard Quinn, for Years Consultant to Top SC GOP Pols, Indicted on Perjury Charges” by John Monk andf Avery Wilkes for The State

Legislative Issues

Texas: “Conservative Group Empower Texans Sues Lawmaker to Gain State House Media Credentials” by Emma Platoff for Texas Tribune

Lobbying

Florida: “Ethics Complaint Accuses Kristen Rosen Gonzalez of Violating Lobbying Rules” by Kyra Gurney for Miami Herald

Indiana: “Scott Pruitt Left the EPA Mired in Scandal. Now He Is Lobbying Indiana Lawmakers.” by Emily Hopkins for Indianapolis Star

Continue Reading - 2 min read Close

April 19, 2019 •

General Election Called in Newfoundland and Labrador

On April 17, Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball issued a writ of election for the provincial general election to take place on May 16. On the same day, Bruce Chaulk, the Chief Electoral Officer of Newfoundland and Labrador, issued […]

On April 17, Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball issued a writ of election for the provincial general election to take place on May 16.

On the same day, Bruce Chaulk, the Chief Electoral Officer of Newfoundland and Labrador, issued election writs to all 40 district returning officers of the province announcing the new date.

The advance poll date is May 9 and the deadline for candidate nominations is April 25.

Elections NL is also set to accept early voting applications, which will be available between April 25 and May 9.

Ball called for the election after tabling the budget.

“I am now seeking a mandate from the people of our province to continue our plan,” Ball announced according to the Western Star.

Continue Reading - 1 min read Close