April 4, 2019 •

Maine Sets Special Election to Fill House District 45

A special election will take place on June 11 to fill a vacancy in House District 45. Rep. Dale Denno, who was re-elected for a second term in November, has resigned for health reasons. The elected candidate will serve the […]

A special election will take place on June 11 to fill a vacancy in House District 45.

Rep. Dale Denno, who was re-elected for a second term in November, has resigned for health reasons.

The elected candidate will serve the remainder of Denno’s term, which would have ended in December 2020.

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April 4, 2019 •

Prince Edward Island General Election To Be Held April 23

On April 23, a general election for the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island will be held. The 65th General Assembly was dissolved on March 26. On March 27, Premier Wade MacLauchlan called for the general election for the 66th […]

On April 23, a general election for the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island will be held.

The 65th General Assembly was dissolved on March 26. On March 27, Premier Wade MacLauchlan called for the general election for the 66th General Assembly to be held on the April date.

A binding Election System Referendum regarding the province’s voting system is also scheduled for April 23.

The question on the referendum ballot is, “Should Prince Edward Island change its voting system to a mixed member proportional voting system?”

Advance polls for early voting will be held on April 13, April 15, and April 18.

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April 4, 2019 •

Thursday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance National: “At the Federal Election Commission, No Watchdog for the Watchdogs” by Dave Leventhal for Center for Public Integrity Connecticut: “SEEC Says Campaigns Can’t Pay for Child Care” by Mark Pazniokas for Connecticut Mirror Elections National: “Liberals Infuriated […]

Campaign Finance

National: “At the Federal Election Commission, No Watchdog for the Watchdogs” by Dave Leventhal for Center for Public Integrity

Connecticut: “SEEC Says Campaigns Can’t Pay for Child Care” by Mark Pazniokas for Connecticut Mirror

Elections

National: “Liberals Infuriated by Pro-Incumbent House Dem Policy” by Reid Wilson for The Hill

National: “Trump’s Takeover of the Republican Party Is Almost Complete” by Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin for New York Times

Illinois: “Lori Lightfoot Elected Chicago Mayor, Making Her the First African-American Woman to Lead the City” by Bill Ruthhart for Chicago Tribune

Ethics

National: “An Intruder Brought Malware to Mar-a-Lago, Which Experts Have Warned Was Vulnerable” by Isaac Stanley-Becker (Washington Post) for MSN

National: “House Panel Votes to Authorize Subpoenas to Obtain Full Mueller Report” by Rachael Bade (Washington Post) for San Jose Mercury News

California: “Years After FBI Probe, SF Pay-to-Play Case Ends in Plea Deals” by Michael Barber for San Francisco Examiner

North Carolina: “NC GOP Chairman, Major Political Donor Indicted in Alleged Bribery Scheme” by Travis Fain for WRAL

Washington D.C.: “Jack Evans Scandal Revives Push to Ban Outside Jobs for D.C. Council Members” by Fenit Nirappil for Washington Post

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March 29, 2019 •

South Dakota Governor Signs Campaign Finance Bills

Gov. Kristi Noem recently signed several campaign finance bills into law. House Bill 1189 provides any person who is subject to a Class 2 misdemeanor for campaign finance violations up to seven days to cure the violations prior to having […]

Gov. Kristi Noem recently signed several campaign finance bills into law.

House Bill 1189 provides any person who is subject to a Class 2 misdemeanor for campaign finance violations up to seven days to cure the violations prior to having a charge brought against him or her.

House Bill 1092 clarifies reporting requirements for candidates.

House Bill 1143 states all political action committees established, financed, maintained, or controlled by the same person or entity are affiliated and share a single contribution limit both with respect to contributions made and contributions received.

Senate Bill 114 requires any contribution from a person who is an unemancipated minor to be deducted from the total contribution permitted by the unemancipated minor’s custodial parent or parents.

The bills become effective July 1.

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March 29, 2019 •

Michigan Secretary of State Creates Election Security Commission

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson created a new state Election Security Commission along with recommendations to improve the integrity of Michigan’s elections. Included on the board of the Election Security Commission are the clerks of Kalamazoo, Wayne, and Ingham […]

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson created a new state Election Security Commission along with recommendations to improve the integrity of Michigan’s elections.

Included on the board of the Election Security Commission are the clerks of Kalamazoo, Wayne, and Ingham counties.

The commission will begin meeting next month.

The recommendations are expected to be released by the end of the year.

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March 29, 2019 •

News You Can Use Digest – March 29, 2019

      Federal: Barr’s Declaration on Trump Puts Justice Dept. Back in Political Crucible MSN – Charlie Savage, Mark Mazzetti, and Katie Benner (New York Times) | Published: 3/25/2019 Attorney General William Barr’s decision to declare that evidence fell short of proving […]

 

 

 

Federal:

Barr’s Declaration on Trump Puts Justice Dept. Back in Political Crucible
MSN – Charlie Savage, Mark Mazzetti, and Katie Benner (New York Times) | Published: 3/25/2019

Attorney General William Barr’s decision to declare that evidence fell short of proving President Trump illegally obstructed the Russia inquiry was an extraordinary outcome to a narrative that spanned nearly two years. Robert Mueller was appointed as special counsel to remove the threat of political interference from an investigation involving the president, but he reached no conclusion on the key question of whether Trump committed an obstruction-of-justice offense. Barr stepped in to make the determination, bringing the specter of politics back into the case. Senior Justice Department officials defended his decision as prudent and within his purview, but it reignited a debate about the role of American law enforcement in politically charged federal investigations.

‘No PAC Money’ Pledges Leave Corporations in a Partisan Bind
Roll Call – Kate Ackley | Published: 3/21/2019

It is not just the number of members of Congress pledging not to accept money from PACs for corporations and trade groups (more than 50 so far) that is a problem, but their party affiliation – almost entirely Democratic. If the trend spreads into the 2020 campaign cycle, it could put companies and associations in a bind. Many of the top PACs connected to businesses and trade associations maintain roughly balanced giving ratios and some of them have enshrined such practices. “Most PACs pride themselves on being bipartisan and supporting candidates who are understanding of their issues, so they can engage in a policy conversation. There’s a real fear of just losing that balanced approach,” said Kristin Brackemyre of the Public Affairs Council.

From the States and Municipalities:

California: A State Lawmaker Borrowed Nearly a Half-Million Dollars to Buy a Home. You Might Have Voted for Her Lender.
CALmatters – Matt Levin | Published: 3/26/2019

To buy a house, a state legislator received a $430,000 personal loan from a former member of Congress from Orange County, an arrangement that some legal experts labeled unusual, but that both politicians said was not improper. State Assemblyperson Sharon Quirk-Silva borrowed the sum from former U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez, an unsuccessful 2016 U.S. Senate candidate, in the fall of 2017. Quirk-Silva and her husband repaid Sanchez with interest. While California law bans state and local elected officials from borrowing money from each other, nothing appears to prohibit the arrangement Quirk-Silva struck with Sanchez, who did not hold elected office at the time. In late 2018, Sanchez would announce her candidacy for a seat on the Orange County Board of Supervisors, going on to lose.

Colorado: Lawmakers Take Aim at Disclosure Loopholes in Colorado Lobbying Laws
Colorado Sun – Sandra Fish | Published: 3/25/2019

Colorado lawmakers have introduced a measure to eliminate loopholes in lobbying laws and require more disclosure to the public, part of an effort to address long-standing concerns about transparency. House Bill 1248 would require more frequent reporting by lobbyists what bills they were hired to follow, and the position taken by their clients. Lobbyists would need to file any changes in their positions on legislation within 48 hours during the session. Now, those updates are required only once a month. The legislation also aims to close loopholes that some lobbyists appear to use to avoid reporting income from clients.

Connecticut: Jon Lender: Lobbyists pay $13,000 in fines connected to tech schools controversy
Hartford Courant – Jon Lender | Published: 3/22/2019

The Office of State Ethics collected $13,000 in fines from the lobbying and consulting firm Kozak & Salina and one of its owners. The firm had a contract with the Connecticut Technical High School System (CTHSS) from 2014 to 2016 to provide “external relations and strategic consulting services,” and a similar contract for 2015 with the lighting fixture company Penn Globe. Kozak & Salina relayed communications between Penn Globe and CTHSS and charged both for the same services. So, when the lobbying firm submitted invoices to the state to obtain payment, it was getting paid twice, said Carol Carson, executive director of the ethics office. In addition to a $10,000 fine against his firm, David Kozak paid $3,000 for failing to file required registration and disclosure statements about his work for Penn Globe.

District of Columbia: As D.C. Leaders Tout Reforms, Latest Ethics Scandal Evokes City’s History of Corruption
Washington Post – Paul Schwartzman | Published: 3/23/2019

District of Columbia Councilperson Jack Evans admitted he violated the council’s code of conduct when he repeatedly used his government email account to offer potential clients the benefit of his political connections and the influence he amassed as a lawmaker and chairperson of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Civic groups chided the council as being too lenient when it reprimanded Evans rather than strip him of powerful committee posts. Reform activist Bryan Weaver said Evans’ actions, and the council’s response, evoke the worst aspects of the city’s history of official misconduct, one that has triggered periodic crises engulfing mayors, council members, government appointees, and employees.

Florida: ‘As American as Apple Pie’: How Miami commissioner’s aunt became a high-priced lobbyist
Miami Herald – David Smiley and Joey Flechas | Published: 3/26/2019

Some companies have chosen not to hire Barbara Hardemon as a lobbyist due to concerns about the perception of undue influence as she is the aunt of Miami City Commissioner Keon Hardemon. But in the years since his 2013 election, the commissioner’s aunt has emerged as a closer for some of Miami’s biggest businesses. Barbara Hardemon’s lobbying shop is allowed under state and local laws, which prohibit elected officials and their immediate family from profiting personally off the contracts they oversee but say nothing about their extended family. Her lucrative rise from occasional City Hall lobbyist to 11th-hour power broker has blurred the lines between negotiations and nepotism.

Florida: Ethics Board Aims to Put Teeth in Code, Seeks Greater Oversight of Tallahassee City Hall
Tallahassee Democrat – Jeff Burlew | Published: 3/23/2019

The Tallahassee Independent Ethics Board is finalizing proposals that could expand its oversight of City Hall and strengthen an ethics code that has long been seen as weak and toothless. The board currently has jurisdiction over only nine people. But proposed changes would extend its jurisdiction to cover all employees who work in procurement or are required by state law to file financial disclosures. The proposals include giving the board the power to issue subpoenas and take sworn testimony, a ban on all gifts no matter their value, and higher fines for lobbyists who try to influence city officials without registering and disclosing their clients.

Iowa: Iowa Treasurers End Scholarships Amid Ethics Law Inquiries
AP News – Ryan Foley | Published: 3/27/2019

County treasurers in Iowa canceled a scholarship program that benefited their relatives and employees amid criticism the vendor-funded awards were illegal gifts under state ethics law. The program consisted of four, $500 scholarships that were awarded each year to the college-bound children and grandchildren of county treasurers and their staffs. The money came from two companies that do extensive business with treasurers: GovTech Services, which runs the website that 88 counties use to collect property and motor vehicle taxes, and SRI Inc., which operates tax auctions for dozens of counties. Since the program’s inception, critics have worried the scholarships violated the gift law, which bars public employees and their immediate relatives from accepting money from contractors.

Maryland: Maryland House of Delegates Votes Unanimously to Reprimand Jalisi Over ‘Abusive’ Treatment of His Staff
Baltimore Sun – Luke Broadwater | Published: 3/27/2019

The Maryland House voted unanimously to publicly reprimand Del. Jay Jalisi for “an ongoing pattern of bullying and abusive workplace behavior.” The delegates voted after receiving a report outlining the investigation from the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics that alleged Jalisi forced his staff to work overtime without pay, bullied others, got kicked out of a hotel, and made a staffer stand in the delegate’s office and repeat: “I am incompetent. I am incompetent.” This is not the first time Jalisi’s actions have been scrutinized. In 2015, a Baltimore County judge issued a protective order barring Jalisi from contact with his then-teenage daughter.

Massachusetts: House Proposal for Caucus Funding Left Out of Budget Bill – but Caucuses May Still Fundraise
MassLive.com – Shira Schoenberg | Published: 3/25/2019

A controversial Massachusetts House proposal to let caucuses raise private money did not make it into the final version of a budget bill. But House leaders say that under their internal rules, caucuses will still be able to raise private money as long as they comply with ethics rules, which bar lobbyists from giving and require any gift of over $50 to be approved by House counsel to avoid conflicts-of-interest. When the House passed its rules in January, members approved a rule that would let caucuses raise money from public or private sources. But some advocates for open government worried this could create a legislative “slush fund” where special interests with business before the Legislature could donate to lawmakers with no transparency.

New Jersey: Dark Money Disclosure Bill Advanced to Gov. Phil Murphy’s Desk
Burlington County Times – David Levinsky | Published: 3/26/2019

Legislation to require so-called dark money groups operating in New Jersey to reveal their donors was sent to Gov. Phil Murphy. The bill has undergone several changes after being approved by the Senate, but it would still mandate the disclosure of donors who give more than $10,000 to nonprofit 501(c)4 groups that are not currently subject to disclosure requirements if they engage in political activities, lobbying, or campaigning. It would also mandate the disclosure of expenses of more than $3,000 and would also boost contribution limits to state and county political committees. Those groups are already subject to strict reporting requirements but have been usurped by “dark-money” groups in recent years.

Pennsylvania: GOP Legislator Prays to Jesus for Forgiveness Before State’s First Muslim Woman Swears In
MSN – Reis Thebault (Washington Post) | Published: 3/26/2019

Movita Johnson-Harrell brought 55 guests to her swearing in as the Pennsylvania Legislature’s first Muslim woman. Thirty-two of them were Muslim. She later for the General Assembly to censure State Rep. Stephanie Borowicz, who delivered the opening prayer to begin the legislative session day. By the time she said “Amen,” Borowicz had invoked Jesus 13 times. She mentioned “Lord” and “God” another six times each and referenced “The Great I Am” and “the one who’s coming back again, the one who came, died, and rose again on the third day.” As the prayer reached a crescendo, at least one member shouted objections. Afterward, the protests only grew louder.

West Virginia: Governor Signs Bills Raising Campaign Contribution Limits, Cutting Coal Tax
Beckley Register-Herald – Erin Beck | Published: 3/27/2019

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice signed into law a bill that increases the limits on campaign contributions by individuals. Senate Bill 622 increases the limits to $2,800 for candidates, $5,000 for PACs, and up to $10,000 per year for party committees. Current limits for each category are set at $1,000. Julie Archer of the West Virginia Citizen Action Group said bill does nothing about “dark money.” She said Democrats attempted to amend the bill at least twice to require disclosures by donors that “funnel” money through groups.

Wisconsin: Judge Bocks GOP Lame-Duck Laws Limiting Tony Evers’ Powers; Evers Seeks to Remove Wisconsin from Obamacare Challenge
madison.com – Mark Sommerhauser | Published: 3/21/2019

A judge blocked several actions by Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled Legislature to limit the power of its incoming governor, Democrat Tony Evers, and preserve policies implemented by his predecessor, Scott Walker. The Legislature acted in what is known as an “extraordinary session,” called with little notice. It lasted two days and one night and sparked heated protests. The three bills enacted during the sessions were extraordinary in breadth. One of them gave the Legislature powers usually and exclusively reserved for the attorney general, such as approving legal actions by the state. At the time of the session, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos stated its purpose plainly: “We are going to have a very liberal governor who is going to enact policies that are in direct contrast to what many of us believe in,” Vos said.

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March 28, 2019 •

Former Arizona Attorney General Launches Campaign Against Dark Money

Former Attorney General Terry Goddard launched an effort to prohibit the use of dark money in political campaigns. The proposed constitutional amendment, called The Voters Right to Know Act, seeks to require anyone spending at least $5,000 to influence the […]

Former Attorney General Terry Goddard launched an effort to prohibit the use of dark money in political campaigns.

The proposed constitutional amendment, called The Voters Right to Know Act, seeks to require anyone spending at least $5,000 to influence the outcome of an Arizona election to disclose the original source of the money.

The disclosure requirement would apply to both state and local elections in Arizona.

In order for the proposal to appear on the ballot in the 2020 general election, the campaign committee behind the citizen initiative will need close to half a million signatures.

Last year, the same campaign committee missed qualification for the ballot by just over 2,000 signatures.

The amendment would require the Citizens Clean Elections Commission to enforce the new campaign finance disclosure rules and exempt the commission’s anti-dark money rules from oversight by the Governor’s Regulatory Review Council.

The proposal coincides with current Attorney General Mark Brnovich investigating whether Tempe’s ordinance banning dark money violates a law passed last year banning cities from enacting their own dark money disclosure regulations.

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March 27, 2019 •

Nanaimo–Ladysmith (British Columbia) By-Election Scheduled for May 6

On May 6, a by-election will be held for the electoral district of Nanaimo–Ladysmith (British Columbia) to fill a vacancy in the Canadian House of Commons. On January 7, the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, Stéphane Perrault, had received official […]

On May 6, a by-election will be held for the electoral district of Nanaimo–Ladysmith (British Columbia) to fill a vacancy in the Canadian House of Commons.

On January 7, the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, Stéphane Perrault, had received official notice from the Speaker of the House of Commons that the seat became vacant following the resignation of Sheila Malcolmson, who resigned on January 2 to run in a provincial byelection.

On March 24, Elections Canada declared the May election date and announced the opening of its local office in Nanaimo-Ladysmith.

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March 27, 2019 •

Wednesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance Idaho: “Campaign Finance Overhaul Passes House” by Nathan Brown for Idaho Falls Post Register Massachusetts: “House Proposal for Caucus Funding Left Out of Budget Bill – but Caucuses May Still Fundraise” by Shira Schoenberg for MassLive.com Massachusetts: “Mayor […]

Campaign Finance

Idaho: “Campaign Finance Overhaul Passes House” by Nathan Brown for Idaho Falls Post Register

Massachusetts: “House Proposal for Caucus Funding Left Out of Budget Bill – but Caucuses May Still Fundraise” by Shira Schoenberg for MassLive.com

Massachusetts: “Mayor Walsh Has an Effective Fund-Raising Firm; It Employs His Girlfriend” by Matt Stout for Boston Globe

New Jersey: “Dark Money Disclosure Bill Advanced to Gov. Phil Murphy’s Desk” by David Levinsky for Burlington County Times

Oregon: “Oregon Campaign Finance Reformers Focus On ‘Dark Money’” by Jeff Mapes for Oregon Public Broadcasting

Elections

Florida: “Florida Agreed to Let Felons Vote. Now Republicans Are Trying to Limit Who Is Eligible” by Amy Gardner for Washington Post

Ethics

National: “Barr’s Declaration on Trump Puts Justice Dept. Back in Political Crucible” by Charlie Savage, Mark Mazzetti, and Katie Benner (New York Times) for MSN

Maryland: “Ethics Committee Recommends Reprimand of Baltimore County Del. Jay Jalisi Over ‘Toxic’ Work Environment” by Pamela Wood and Luke Broadwater for Baltimore Sun

Redistricting

National: “High Court Questions Courts’ Role in Partisan Redistricting” by Mark Sherman for AP News

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March 25, 2019 •

NYCU Video Digest – March 25, 2019

We know there’s a story that’s going to be dominating the headlines for awhile, but here are a few stories on new campaign finance laws, ethics commissions and revolving door restrictions you don’t want to miss!  

We know there’s a story that’s going to be dominating the headlines for awhile, but here are a few stories on new campaign finance laws, ethics commissions and revolving door restrictions you don’t want to miss!

 

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March 25, 2019 •

Connecticut Announces Special Election for House District 130

Gov. Ned Lamont announced a special election for May 7, to fill a state representative vacancy in House District 130. The seat became vacant following the passing of State Rep. Ezequiel Santiago on March 15. The winner of the special […]

Gov. Ned Lamont announced a special election for May 7, to fill a state representative vacancy in House District 130.

The seat became vacant following the passing of State Rep. Ezequiel Santiago on March 15.

The winner of the special election will serve the remainder of Santiago’s term through 2020.

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March 22, 2019 •

Federal Court Rules Concerning Unauthorized Committee Naming

On March 21, a federal court ruled an unconnected committee is not restricted from using candidates’ names in the titles of their websites and social media pages. In Pursuing America’s Greatness v. FEC, the United States District Court for the […]

On March 21, a federal court ruled an unconnected committee is not restricted from using candidates’ names in the titles of their websites and social media pages.

In Pursuing America’s Greatness v. FEC, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia granted the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment and denied the motion for summary judgment from the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

The court ruled 11 C.F.R. § 102.14(a) unconstitutional and permanently enjoined the FEC from enforcing the application of 11 C.F.R. § 102.14(a).

Federal law requires a candidate’s committee to include the name of the candidate in the committee’s title and requires an unauthorized political committee to not use a candidate’s name in its title. The purpose of the law is to avoid confusion.

Through the regulation, the FEC had extended the naming prohibition to other committee activities, solicitations, and communications, including special project names for websites or social media pages.

The court found the regulation violates the First Amendment and the FEC had not shown the regulation is the least restrictive means of achieving the government’s interest.

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March 22, 2019 •

News You Can Use Digest – March 22, 2019

      National: AT&T Peels Off Layer of Political Spending Secrecy – Thanks to Pushy Investors and the Michael Cohen Fiasco Dallas News – David Saleh Rauf | Published: 3/20/2019 AT&T is bowing to activist shareholders calling for more transparency about the […]

 

 

 

National:

AT&T Peels Off Layer of Political Spending Secrecy – Thanks to Pushy Investors and the Michael Cohen Fiasco
Dallas News – David Saleh Rauf | Published: 3/20/2019

AT&T is bowing to activist shareholders calling for more transparency about the company’s political spending, agreeing to disclose millions of dollars in previously untraceable contributions after last year’s embarrassment over payments to President Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen. For the first time, AT&T is divulging some contributions to outside groups that keep their donors secret, providing a fuller, if still incomplete, picture of the company’s vast spending on state and federal politics. A new report released by AT&T details payments totaling about $4.2 million to industry groups and think tanks that was used for lobbying during a portion of last year.

Federal:

Analysis: Devin Nunes is suing Twitter and a satirical cow over mean tweets. Does he have a case?
MSN – Deanna Paul (Washington Post) | Published: 3/20/2019

U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes filed a lawsuit claiming Twitter, two parody Twitter accounts, and a Republican political consultant violated the First Amendment and defamed him. In addition to $250 million in damages, Nunes is demanding Twitter disclose the identities behind the anonymous accounts that have caused him suffering, according to the suit: “Devin Nunes’ Mom” and “Devin Nunes’ Cow.” The suit, filed in state court, alleged violations of Virginia’s law against insults. It also brought claims against Twitter for conspiracy and negligence. Nunes has been ridiculed for the suit, and the case has been labeled by most experts as doomed to fail. But others believe there is more to the lawsuit than any desire by Nunes to create a spectacle. According to First Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams, the speech involved is protected for several reasons.

Former Spa Owner and Frequent Mar-a-Lago Guest Sparks Concerns About ‘Porous’ Environment at President’s Club
MSN – Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Emily Rauhala, Lori Rozsa, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 3/15/2019

Li “Cindy” Yang’s activities at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort have attracted attention after a spa she once owned was the target of a sex-trafficking sting involving the owner of the New England Patriots. Scrutiny has also centered on a company Yang ran offering foreign visitors access to the president and other GOP officials. Experts in Chinese influence say groups to which Yang has been tied have links to Communist Party’s efforts to spread influence in the West. Yang has not been accused of any wrongdoing, but because she attended so many events at Mar-a-Lago and had such ready access to high-ranking U.S. officials, it has renewed questions about security at the resort and about who can gain the ear of the president for the price of a ticket to an event.

Lobbying Case Against Democrat with Ties to Manafort Reaches Key Stage
MSN – Kenneth Vogel and Katie Benner (New York Times) | Published: 3/18/2019

A federal investigation into a former White House counsel in the Obama administration is reaching a critical stage, presenting the Justice Department with a decision about whether to charge a prominent Democrat as part of a more aggressive crackdown on illegal foreign lobbying. The case involving Gregory Craig was transferred in January from federal prosecutors in New York to those in Washington. The move reflects an eagerness within the department to prosecute violations of lobbying laws after special counsel Robert Mueller focused on foreign influence in his investigations. The probe centers on whether Craig should have disclosed work he did in 2012 while he was a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom on behalf of the Russia-aligned government of Viktor Yanukovych, then the president of Ukraine.

From the States and Municipalities:

California: California Is Awash in Cannabis Cash, Which Some Use to Bribe Public Officials
MSN – Patrick McGreevy (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 3/17/2019

In the more than two years since California voters approved the licensed growing and sale of recreational marijuana, the state has seen a half-dozen government corruption cases as black-market operators try to game the system, through bribery and other means. Proposition 64, approved in 2016, allowed the state to license businesses to grow and sell pot but required the firms to also get approval from the cities and counties, most of which have outlawed marijuana operations. Experts say that local resistance explains why many of the corruption allegations center on illegal attempts to buy help from city and county officials.

California: Donors to D.A. Jackie Lacey Included a Murder Suspect’s Parents and a Convicted Felon
Los Angeles Times – Matt Hamilton and Harriet Myers | Published: 3/18/2019

Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey collected more than $125,000 in campaign contributions last year despite not holding any public fundraising events. Many giving to Lacey are longtime donors to local politicians, but others include people accused of serious crimes or misconduct, or relatives and associates of the accused. Among Lacey’s donors were the parents of a man awaiting trial for murder, a felon convicted of trying to smuggle missile parts to Iran, and a used car dealer previously sanctioned for an illegal campaign contribution. Campaign donations to prosecutors have come under national scrutiny in recent years. Experts said a district attorney is well advised to have a system in place to vet every donor.

District of Columbia: D.C. Council Votes to Reprimand Jack Evans Over Ethics Issues
Washington Post – Fenit Nirappil | Published: 3/19/2019

The District of Columbia Council reprimanded its longest serving member, Jack Evans, and announced plans to dilute the power of his committee after he repeatedly used his government staff and email to solicit business from law firms that lobby the city, offering to tap his influence and connections to help their clients. The unanimous vote comes as the veteran lawmaker is the target of a federal investigation into his business dealings and faces the threat of a recall election. The reprimand says Evans violated council rules but does not address the ties between Evans and private companies that are part of a federal probe. Multiple lawmakers say they want to reserve judgement on that until the federal investigation wraps up.

Indiana: Complaint Could Cost Attorney General Curtis Hill His Law License – and Elected Position
Indianapolis Star – Tony Cook, Ryan Martin, and Kaitlin Lange | Published: 3/19/2019

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill could lose his law license and his elected position after a little-known state body revived allegations that Hill inappropriately touched four women at an Indianapolis bar last year. The state Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Commission filed a complaint against Hill that says he engaged in acts of battery or sexual battery against the women. In doing so, the commission says, Hill broke the Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct. The accusations are administrative in nature and are not considered criminal charges. Hill, who has denied wrongdoing, will have the opportunity to defend himself and ultimately the state Supreme Court would decide Hill’s fate. Discipline, if any, could range from public reprimand to disbarment. Disbarment would amount to a worst-case scenario for Hill because the law requires the state attorney general to hold a law license.

Kentucky: Former Lobbyist to Pay $15,000 Ethics Fine. He Was Already Convicted in Bribery Case.
Lexington Herald Leader – Bill Estep | Published: 3/18/2019

The Kentucky Executive Branch Ethics Commission fined ex-lobbyist Jim Sullivan and one of his former clients for multiple lobbying violations. Sullivan agreed to pay $15,000 for failing to register from 2005 through 2014 and setting up a deal to represent a company with his pay contingent on an agency making a decision for his client. The commission also announced a $50,000 penalty against Cannon Cochran Management Services, an insurance provider. Sullivan lobbied for the firm. The company did not contest 14 counts of violating the ethics code, some for not registering after hiring an individual to lobby. Sullivan was convicted of giving a $1,000 bribe to Tim Longmeyer, the former head of the Personnel Cabinet, to get state work for company called MC Squared.

Kentucky: Kentucky Legislature Passes Bill Stripping Grimes of Authority Over State Board of Elections
ProPublica – Jessica Huseman | Published: 3/15/2019

The Kentucky Legislature passed a bill that strips Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes of her authority over the State Board of Elections (SBE), restructures the board, and makes misusing the voter registration system a misdemeanor crime. The bill takes multiple steps to scale back the level of control Grimes has asserted over the SBE in recent years, including removing the secretary of state as the chairperson of the board. New reports detailed the secretary of state’s use of the voter registration system to look up information on political rivals, as well as the range of misconduct allegations against Grimes being explored by state investigators. Records confirmed that staff in her office had looked up those named in the reports by ProPublica and The Lexington Herald-Leader, including members of a state ethics agency currently investigating Grimes’ conduct.

Maryland: Baltimore Mayor Pugh Didn’t Disclose Seat on Maryland Medical System Board, as Required on City Ethics Forms
Baltimore Sun – Doug Donovan and Luke Broadwater | Published: 3/14/2019

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh has not reported on disclosure forms filed with the city’s ethics office that she sits on the board of directors for the University of Maryland Medical System, according to a review of records. Instructions on the form tell public officials to report any “office, directorship, salaried employment, or similar position with any business entity that was doing business with the city.” Also, the University of Maryland Medical System did not disclose on its federal tax form for the year ending June 30, 2017, that it had entered into a contract with Pugh to buy 20,000 copies of her book, “Healthy Holly: Exercising is Fun,” the form shows. Ethics officials confirmed Pugh should have disclosed the position. To avoid action against her by the city ethics board, she would need to file an amended form.

Missouri: Voters Approved Clean Missouri, but Lawmakers Want Them to Reconsider
Columbia Missourian – Galen Barcharier | Published: 3/19/2019

Last November, 62 percent of voters approved Amendment 1, the “Clean Missouri” proposal that included measures to limit the power of lobbyists, reduce campaign contributions, and create a new redistricting process. Now, lawmakers are moving to change or completely roll back parts of the ballot measure, with a focus on redistricting. Five resolutions were proposed between the House and the Senate, all of which relate to changing or repealing the redistricting measures enacted from Amendment 1, as well as lobbying and open records measures. All of them propose new constitutional amendments, which would send the issue back to voters to decide. Supporters of Amendment 1 issued a statement in response to the resolutions’ filing, condemning them and asserting the decision of the voters should remain in place.

Nevada: Municipal Election Voters Blind to Campaign Donors
Las Vegas Revierw-Journal – Shea Johnson | Published: 3/13/2019

A glitch in a two-year-old bill meant to strengthen campaign finance reporting has actually weakened transparency in eight Nevada cities, an investigation found, ensuring voters in Las Vegas and elsewhere will be blind to political donors when casting a ballot this spring. That is because reporting deadlines that formerly required reports linked to elections now require candidates to file quarterly. Instead of disclosing contributions and expenses 21 days and four days before an election, candidates now only need to submit paperwork 15 days after a quarter concludes. The first reporting period of 2019 is April 15, which is 13 days after the April 2 primary election.

New Mexico: Legislature Seals Deal on Independent Ethics Commission
New Mexico In Depth – Trip Jennings | Published: 3/16/2019

With just hours left in the session, New Mexico lawmakers reached agreement on legislation that would outline how a new voter-approved state ethics commission would operate. Lawmakers passed the legislation this session after seventy five percent of voters approved adding an independent ethics panel with subpoena power to the state constitution. The bill establishes a commission that would oversee public officials, including state lawmakers, state employees, and constitutionally elected officials like the governor. The seven-member commission could fine officials if they are found to have violated civil provisions of several state laws. People who file complaints would have to in the presence of a notary public attesting to the truth of their allegations under penalty of perjury.

New York: 9 Fund-Raisers in 1 Night: Democrats vow reform in N.Y., but money still flows
New York Times – J. David Goodman | Published: 3/20/2019

State officials have long talked about the need to revamp New York’s campaign finance laws and limit the influence of lobbyists, but little has changed. A bill has been introduced repeatedly for nearly two decades to ban fundraisers in Albany when the Legislature is in session, but it has gone nowhere. In at least 29 states, it is against the law for lobbyists or principals to make campaign contributions while the state Legislature is in session. The goal is to avoid what is commonplace in New York: elected officials spend their day meeting with lobbyists to discuss pending legislation, and then spend their night collecting checks from many of the same people. Yet that two-step is part of the culture in Albany, especially in the weeks before a new state budget is officially ironed out, when opportunities to win influence are abundant.

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March 21, 2019 •

PA Announces Special Election for House District 11

House Speaker Mike Turzai announced a special election for House District 11 on May 21. The special election will be held on the same day as the state primary. The seat is vacant after Rep. Brian Ellis resigned on Monday […]

House Speaker Mike Turzai announced a special election for House District 11 on May 21. The special election will be held on the same day as the state primary.

The seat is vacant after Rep. Brian Ellis resigned on Monday amid allegations of sexually assaulting another state government employee in October 2015.

The winner of the special election will serve the remainder of the term through 2020.

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