August 14, 2020 • Written by Jim Sedor
National/Federal Abrupt Change to Census Deadline Could Result in an Undercount of Latino and Black Communities Philadelphia Inquirer – Jose Del Real and Fredrick Kunkle (Washington Post) | Published: 8/9/2020 Census experts and advocates warn the Trump administration’s decision to end […]
Abrupt Change to Census Deadline Could Result in an Undercount of Latino and Black Communities
Philadelphia Inquirer – Jose Del Real and Fredrick Kunkle (Washington Post) | Published: 8/9/2020
Census experts and advocates warn the Trump administration’s decision to end the decennial count a month earlier than expected will result in a dramatic undercount of Black and Latino communities across the country, which could have grave effects on federal funding and political representation in their neighborhoods. The census represents an important fault line in the battle over structural racism and equity, with high stakes. It dictates the allocation of federal dollars and influences everything from infrastructure investments to education programs like free and reduced lunch to public health-care spending. The data is also used when deciding the boundaries of legislative districts.
Appeals Court Rejects Key Argument Against McGahn Subpoena
Politico – Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney | Published: 8/10/2020
A federal appeals court dealt a setback to President Trump’s bid to prevent his former White House counsel Don McGahn from being forced to testify to a House committee. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled the House has legal standing to use the courts to compel McGahn to appear in response to a Judiciary Committee subpoena. But the appeals court left open other legal arguments against the subpoena to McGahn, leaving it unclear when or if the former White House lawyer will appear before the panel. The ruling also left open the issue of what questions McGahn would have to answer.
Disinformation for Profit: How a Florida ‘dealmaker’ turns conservative outrage into cash
Washington Post – Isaac Stanley Becker | Published: 8/11/2020
The reality curated by “The Bearded Patriot” and “The Wolf of Washington” is dismal. The websites tell of nonstop riots and “crazed leftists.” They warn of online censorship and the wiles of an “anarchist billionaire,” a reference to George Soros, the liberal investor and Holocaust survivor. The material is tailor-made to inflame right-wing passions. But its underlying purpose is to collect email addresses and other personal information from impassioned readers, whose inboxes then fill up with narrowly targeted ads. The effect is to monetize the anger stoked by misleading political content, for as much as $2,500 per list of contacts.
Drawing Lessons from Chaotic Primaries, Election Officials Scrambled to Head Off Voting Problems in Tuesday’s Contests
Washington Post – Amy Gardner and Dan Simmons | Published: 8/11/2020
If election officials in Georgia and Wisconsin wanted to prove one thing during primary and runoff elections on August 11, it was that they could do a better job managing lines, operating equipment, and counting mail ballots than they did in earlier contests this year. They appeared to succeed, with voters trickling into the polls with virtually no wait times and election workers processing a crush of absentee ballots with no major difficulties. The contests in both states, as well as in Connecticut, Minnesota, and Vermont, drew much lower turnout than previous elections this year, a contributor to the relative quiet. But state and local officials said the bigger factor was what they learned from their earlier stumbles and how they used the intervening weeks to avoid them this time.
Federal Appeals Court Skeptical of Michael Flynn’s Effort to Immediately Dismiss Criminal Charge
Politico – Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney | Published: 8/11/2020
A federal appeals court appears poised to block an effort by former national security adviser Michael Flynn to immediately dismiss the criminal charge against him, raising the specter that the politically explosive case could continue to make headlines in the lead-up to the November 3 election. The court sounded sharply skeptical about arguments by Flynn’s attorney and the Justice Department that U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan abused his authority by scheduling a hearing on efforts to drop the case, which came despite Flynn’s pleading guilty to lying to the FBI and later reaffirming his plea.
Former Clients of Acting Homeland Security Chief Chad Wolf Received Millions in Department Contracts
CNBC – Brian Schwartz | Published: 8/5/2020
Several former lobbying clients of Chad Wolf, now the acting secretary of Homeland Security, have received millions of dollars’ worth of government contracts while he has held senior positions within the department. Wolf was a lobbyist for over a decade at Wexler & Walker before he took leadership roles with the department under President Trump. Wolf served as the acting chief of staff at the Transportation Security Administration in 2017 and later became the chief of staff for former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. Since then, several of Wolf’s former clients reaped a total of at least $160 million in contracts, according to a CNBC analysis of the public filings.
How Hotel Chains Got a Slice of Government Aid for Small Businesses
ProPublica – Isaac Arnsdorf | Published: 8/6/2020
In March, as lawmakers raced to put together a stimulus package to cope with the pandemic-related shutdowns sweeping the country, a company that invests in hotels deployed a Washington lobbyist for the first time. The lobbyist’s mission was to secure an exception in the emerging relief program for small businesses so hotel chains would become eligible. EOS Investors had more than 500 employees, putting it above the limit in the original proposal by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins. The lobbyist whom EOS called on for help was Michael Bopp, a former longtime aide to Collins. One of the main criticisms of the relief been it ended up favoring well-connected businesses over mom-and-pop concerns with scarce access to other resources.
Postal Service Overhauls Leadership as Democrats Press for Investigation of Mail Delays
Anchorage Daily News – Jacob Bogage (Washington Post) | Published: 8/7/2020
The Postal Service announced a reorganization meant to increase efficiency as Democratic lawmakers demanded an inquiry into whether changes by President Trump’s officials could threaten the effective use of mail-in ballots for the November election. Analysts say the structure centralizes power around Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a major donor to Trump’s campaigns, and de-emphasizes institutional knowledge. The reshuffling threatens to heighten tensions between postal officials and lawmakers, who are troubled by delivery delays and wary of the Trump administration’s influence on the Postal Service as the coronavirus pandemic rages and election draws near.
Rep. Tlaib Directed to Reimburse Campaign for $10,800 in Postelection Paychecks
Roll Call – Niels Lesniewski | Published: 8/7/2020
The House ethics committee directed U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib to repay her campaign for salary she drew after Election Day 2018. Congressional candidates are allowed to draw paychecks from their campaigns, but as the committee explained in a report, the payments are only allowed during an active candidacy. Tlaib continued to be paid after the election was over. The ethics panel said no further action was necessary.
Taking Protest to the Streets, and the Mayor’s Front Door
MSN – Mike Baker and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs (New York Times) | Published: 8/10/2020
Public protests this year have most often featured marches and rallies through public gathering places, sometimes escalating into broken shop windows, torched cars, and clashes with the police. But as the nation navigates the triple turmoil of a pandemic, a ravaged economy, and a civil rights movement, civic activism is at times becoming more direct, more personal, and for some of its targets, more frightening. Some of these demonstrations have led to thoughtful conversations between public officials and the protesters who arrived at their doors. But others insist their front yards are inappropriate venues for boisterous public debate.
The Kamala Harris Pick: Geographic balance takes back seat to gender, race
New York Times – Shane Goldmacher, Adam Nagourney, and Jennifer Medina | Published: 8/12/2020
Joe Biden’s selection of U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate marks the latest evidence that gender and race have now surpassed geographic balance when it comes to building a ticket for the White House. Ever since Black voters resurrected his candidacy in South Carolina, Biden and his campaign team have made the pursuit of Black voters a centerpiece of his bid for the White House. And he had said from the start of the process he would choose a woman as the Democratic nominee for vice president. If Harris does not put any particular new state into play, strategists and Biden allies were hoping her spot on the ticket could increase turnout and Biden’s margins across the map and strengthen his position in states Hillary Clinton lost, in no small part because of a drop in votes in African-American communities.
There’s Been a Big Gray Area When It Comes to Cable News Contributors Dabbling in Political Campaigns
Washington Post – Jeremy Barr | Published: 8/8/2020
So-called contributors on cable news networks are essentially paid guests who sign contracts to appear exclusively on one network, generally agreeing to go on-air as frequently as the news cycle demands. But as former politicians and political consultants, they exist in a sort of gray zone between full-time employees and unpaid interviewees, which makes discerning what they are allowed to say and do off-camera challenging. That is especially so when network contributors step on the campaign trail. Some of the most in-demand contributors are often those who are still active in the political arena or harbor future campaign aspirations, creating potential conflicts-of-interest.
Trump Antagonizes GOP Megadonor Adelson in Heated Phone Call
Politico – Alex Isenstadt | Published: 8/8/2020
When President Trump talked recently with Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson, perhaps the only person in the party who can cut a nine-figure check to aid his reelection, the phone call unexpectedly turned contentious. Adelson reached out to Trump to talk about the coronavirus relief bill and the economy. But then Trump brought the conversation around to the campaign and confronted Adelson about why he was not doing more to bolster his reelection. A person familiar with the call said it was apparent the president had no idea how much Adelson, who has donated tens of millions of dollars to pro-Trump efforts over the years, had helped him. GOP officials were alarmed the president had antagonized one of his biggest benefactors at a precarious moment in his campaign.
Trump Long Has Relied on Nondisclosure Deals to Prevent Criticism. That Strategy May Be Unraveling
Washington Post – Michael Kranish | Published: 8/7/2020
For decades, Donald Trump has relied on broadly worded nondisclosure agreements as a powerful weapon against anyone who would say something critical of him. Among those who have signed agreements are two ex-wives, contestants on “Th Apprentice,” campaign workers, and business associates. But this key element of Trump’s corporate and political strategy has shown signs of unraveling, even as his campaign spends heavily to enforce such agreements. Now, in one of the most sweeping efforts by a former associate to undo nondisclosure agreements, the Trump campaign’s former Hispanic outreach director filed her latest effort in a class-action suit to void all such campaign contracts.
Trump Teases a Gettysburg Convention Speech. Experts Say It’s an Ethics Breach.
New York Times – Michael Grynbaum and Annie Karni | Published: 8/10/2020
After repeatedly throwing a wrench into plans for the Republican National Convention this summer, President Trump tried to offer something tantalizing about the upcoming gathering, saying his renomination speech would take place either at the White House or the Civil War battlefield in Gettysburg. The battlefield, where Trump gave an indoor campaign speech in 2016, is federal property run by the National Park Service. This presents the same ethical conundrums his re-election team will face if the president delivers the speech from the South Lawn of the White House.
Trump’s Scottish and Irish Golf Resorts Spur a New Round of Scrutiny on His Businesses
Politico – Anita Kumar | Published: 8/11/2020
President Trump claimed his resorts in Scotland and Ireland brought in a total of about $179 million in revenue on U.S. documents where he is supposed to list his personal income. Records in the United Kingdom (UK) and Ireland indicate the revenues were millions of dollars less and they lost $77 million after accounting for expenses. Trump claimed the Scottish resorts alone were worth at least $100 million total in 2018 but the UK records indicate the resorts are not worth anywhere near that. The American Democracy Legal Fund is asking Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. to probe whether Trump violated the law by filing false documents with the U.S. government to hide the financial health of himself and his company.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – Two PSPRS Trustees Claim Ethics Allegations Hurt Their Businesses, Seek $624,999 from State
Arizona Republic – Craig Harris | Published: 8/6/2020
Arizona Public Safety Personnel Retirement System (PSPRS) board members Will Buividas and Mike Scheidt are seeking $624,999 from the state, claiming their businesses were damaged after the pension board’s chairperson publicly questioned their ethics for making commissions on real estate deals with agency staff. The notices of claim from Buividas, a Phoenix police officer, and Scheidt, a Tempe firefighter, against the PSPRS and Chairperson Scott McCarty allege defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and tortious interference with business relations.
California – CalPERS Chief’s Abrupt Resignation Preceded by Conflict of Interest Questions
Sacramento Bee – Wes Venteicher | Published: 8/6/2020
Questions regarding conflict-of-interest disclosures preceded the abrupt resignation of California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) Chief Investment Officer Yu Ben Meng, according to the pension fund’s board members. The announcement came three days after financial blogger Susan Webber published a post alleging Meng filed incomplete and inconsistent conflict-of-interest disclosures, known as Form 700s, with the Fair Political Practices Commission. The forms show Meng has held investments in private equity firms and Chinese companies, two areas of investment in which his decisions have drawn scrutiny since his hiring in January 2019.
California – Campaign Finance Limits Coming to Riverside County
Riverside Press-Enterprise – Jeff Horseman | Published: 8/5/2020
A new California law would limit campaign contributions from individual donors to those running for supervisor or countywide offices such as sheriff and district attorney in Riverside County. Right now, there is no donation cap, although contributions of $1,000 or more must be reported online within 24 hours during election season. Assembly Bill 571 limits donors to giving a maximum of $4,700 per election to a candidate for county office. The new law allows counties to set their own limits if they do so before January 1. To that end, the board of supervisors voted to start working on county-set limits, an ordinance setting those restrictions is expected to come back to the board before December 31.
California – Huizar’s Relatives Not Expected to Face Charges in Corruption Probe, Prosecutor Says
Los Angeles Times – David Zahniser and Emily Alpert Reyes | Published: 8/5/2020
A federal prosecutor said his office does not intend to charge family members of Los Angeles City Councilperson Jose Huizar, identifying them as witnesses rather than targets of the ongoing “pay-to-play” probe. Three members of the Huizar family – his wife Richelle, hi mother Isidra, and his brother Salvador – are mentioned repeatedly in the 113-page indictment against the council member, who has pleaded not guilty to bribery, money laundering, racketeering, and other charges. Prosecutors have alleged Huizar family members laundered his bribe proceeds, receiving cash from the councilperson and then paying his bills.
California – LA Leaders Want to Bar Themselves from Voting on Matters Affecting Their Campaign Donors
Los Angeles Daily Breeze – Elizabeth Chou (Los Angeles Daily News) | Published: 8/12/2020
Los Angeles city officials would be barred from voting on any issue affecting individuals or organizations donating to their campaigns under an ethics proposal advanced by a handful of council members. Mayor Eric Garcetti recently expressed support for such a measure, which would be similar to the recusal rule he and others adhere to as board members of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The measure is being proposed as city leaders seek to restore public trust of City Hall amid an FBI probe into “pay-to-play” real estate development schemes involving public officials.
Florida – Florida NRA Lobbyist Loses in Latest Court Fight over Emails
Tampa Bay Times – Jim Saunders | Published: 8/11/2020
A federal appeals court rejected arguments by prominent National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer in a lawsuit centered on graphic emails she received from an attorney after the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County. A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a District Court judge’s decision to dismiss Hammer’s lawsuit against Lawrence Sorensen, who sent two emails to the lobbyist that included photos of gunshot wounds. Hammer raised a series of arguments in the case, including that Sorensen had violated Florida laws about cyberstalking, harassment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Florida – Payments to Florida Lobbyist Flagged in Lawsuit Against NRA
Politico – Gary Fineout | Published: 8/6/2020
Marion Hammer, one of Tallahassee’s most well-known lobbyists, received payments from the National Rifle Association under contracts that were improperly handled, according to a civil lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James. James is seeking to dissolve the gun rights group, which has been a major political force nationally and in Florida, where it successfully swayed the state Legislature to pass the state’s “stand your ground” law. without trying to retreat. The complaint describes payments made to “Board Member No. 5,” a person identified as the executive director of the Unified Sportsmen of Florida. Records list Hammer as executive director of the group.
Georgia – QAnon Supporter, with Georgia Primary Victory, Is Poised to Bring Far-Right Conspiracy Theory to Congress
MSN – Isaac Stanley-Becker and Rachael Bade (Washington Post) | Published: 8/12/2020
Republicans came a step closer to welcoming into their ranks a promoter of the QAnon conspiracy theory, whose adherents believe President Trump is battling a cabal of “deep state” saboteurs who worship Satan and traffic children for sex. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has endorsed the baseless theory and made a slew of other racist remarks on video, won a Republican primary runoff in Georgia’s 14th Congressional District. Her victory, in a swath of the state that has favored Republicans by wide margins, sets her up to become QAnon’s first devotee in Congress.
Illinois – Former City Official Signals He Will Plead Guilty in Bribery Case as Federal Corruption Probe Widens
Chicago Tribune – David Heinzmann | Published: 8/9/2020
A longtime Chicago political operative who was charged in March with bribing a state lawmaker in the ongoing federal probe of Illinois political corruption signaled he may make a plea deal in the case, according to papers filed in U.S. District Court. Prosecutors have alleged William Helm, a former deputy commissioner of the Chicago Department of Aviation, paid at least $5,000 to former state Sen. Martin Sandoval in 2018 to influence the development of a road project near land owned by a construction company who employed him as a lobbyist. At the time, Sandoval was head of the Senate Transportation Committee and held significant influence over the approval of state road projects and the Illinois Department of Transportation.
Illinois – South Suburban Mayor Charged in Red-Light Camera Bribery Scheme
Chicago Tribune – Joe Mahr | Published: 8/7/2020
According to federal prosecutors, Crestwood Mayor Lou Presta was caught on a March 2018 recording accepting an envelope with $5,000 cash from a representative of the red-light camera firm SafeSpeed, and then lied to the FBI and IRS when asked about it that September. Prosecutors say Presta sought and received benefits from SafeSpeed representatives while company sought to expand its services in the Chicago suburb. SafeSpeed has denied doing anything wrong and portrayed any misdeeds as the work of a rogue partner, Omar Maani, who is now believed to be cooperating with federal authorities.
Iowa – Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds Signs Executive Order Restoring Felon Voting Rights, Removing State’s Last-in-the-Nation Status
USA Today – Stephen Gruber-Miller and Ian Richardson (Des Moines Register) | Published: 8/6/2020
Thousands of Iowans with felony convictions who have served their sentences can now participate in November’s presidential election after Gov. Kim Reynolds signed an executive order restoring their voting rights. Iowa was the last state in the nation that still banned all people with felony convictions from voting, even after the completion of their sentences, unless they applied individually to the governor’s office to have their rights restored. The issue received heightened attention this summer as protests for racial justice swept across the country after the death of George Floyd. Activists with Des Moines Black Lives Matter made the voting rights issue one of their top demands for the governor.
Maryland – Maryland Gov. Hogan OKs Plan for Just 360 Voting Centers Statewide for November Election Amid Lack of Poll Workers
Baltimore Sun – Emily Opilo and Pamela Wood | Published: 8/10/2020
Gov. Larry Hogan has approved a plan to offer just 360 voting centers across Maryland for the November election despite what he said were “serious concerns” about the proposal. Hogan’s decision gives the State Board of Elections authority to proceed with the voting center plan as an alternative to opening about 1,600 polling places this fall. The voting centers, unlike polling places, could be used by any voter in a county, and would be placed primarily at public high schools across the state. The board voted to recommend the plan in response to lobbying from local election directors, who said they would not be able to staff a full complement of polling places in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Maryland – Top Montgomery County Aide Resigns After Being Cited for Ethics Violations
Washington Post – Rebecca Tan | Published: 8/12/2020
Montgomery County’s chief administrative officer, Andrew Kleine, resigned after being cited for ethics violations. Kleine admitted in July to promoting his book while attending conferences paid for by the county and to having relationships with two private companies that landed county contracts after he assumed his role. Kleine did not receive financial compensation for connecting the companies with the county, but his actions still violated ethics law. He agreed to pay the county $5,000 for the ethics violations, but lawmakers said the punishment was insufficient. At least five county council members questioned whether Kleine should be allowed to continue in his position.
Michigan – Michigan Official to Resign After Defending Racist Slur
Associated Press News – John Flesher | Published: 8/9/2020
An elected official in northern Michigan who used a racist slur prior to a public meeting will resign. Tom Eckerle, a member of the Leelanau County road commission, will step down after receiving criticism from across the U.S. A local road commission meeting started with one commissioner asking Eckerle why he was not wearing a mask amid the coronavirus pandemic. “Well, this whole thing is because of them n—–s in Detroit,” Eckerle said. Despite the backlash, Eckerle later doubled down on his comments, defending his position in an interview with the local public radio station. “I don’t regret calling it a n—-r,” Eckerle said. “A n—-r is a n—-r is a n—-r. That’s not a person whatsoever.”
Montana – Helena Judge Again Takes Green Party Off Ballot
Helena Independent Record – Holly Michels | Published: 8/7/2020
The Montana Green Party will not be on the ballot this year after an order from Helena District Court Judge James Reynolds. Enough people asked for their signatures to be removed from petitions qualifying the Green Party for the ballot that the effort no longer met the necessary threshold, Reynolds found. More than 560 people submitted signature withdrawal requests following news reports the state Republican Party paid for the petitioning that qualified the Green Party. In a separate matter, the state Commissioner of Political Practices has found the Montana GOP’s actions broke state campaign finance laws.
New Mexico – Ethics Complaint Alleges Group Failed to Disclose Donors, and Suggests Connection to Prominent Lobbyist
New Mexico Political Report – Brian Metzger (New Mexico In Depth) | Published: 8/8/2020
Over the course of May and early June this year, a new group called the Council for a Competitive New Mexico (CCNM) spent over $130,000 on a media campaign supporting a group of incumbent state senators, most of whom would go on to lose as part of a progressive wave in June’s Democratic primary. The media campaign included several negative mailers and automated phone calls against candidates opposing the incumbents while the public was left in the dark about who organized the group and who funded the media campaign. Now, an ethics complaint filed with the secretary of state’s office alleges CCNM broke New Mexico’s election code by not disclosing its donors.
New York – JCOPE Commissioner: Non-Cuomo appointees left out of loop
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 8/11/2020
State ethics commissioners appointed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo are privy to information not available to others on the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE), a commissioner charged. The allegation was made by Commissioner Gary Lavine, a Senate Republican appointee to JCOPE. From 2011 through 2018, Lavine had served on the ethics panel as an appointee of the governor. There are six Cuomo appointees on the commission and eight legislative appointees. Lavine said there was a “super commission” made up of the Cuomo appointees, a “two-tier hierarchy” of JCOPE. Lavine said he was echoing remarks to that effect made years ago by Ravi Batra, a former Senate Democratic appointee to the panel who resigned in 2012. But Batra’s sentiment is still true, Lavine said.
New York – New York Attorney General Seeks to Dissolve NRA
Associated Press News – Michael Sisak, Larry Neumeister, and Lisa Marie Payne | Published: 8/6/2020
New York Attorney General Letitia James took action to dissolve the National Rifle Association (NRA) following an 18-month investigation that found evidence the gun rights organization is “fraught with fraud and abuse.” The lawsuit alleges top NRA executives misused charitable funds for personal gain, awarded contracts to friends and family members, and provided contracts to former employees to ensure loyalty. Simultaneously, the Washington, D.C. attorney general sued the NRA Foundation, a charitable arm of the organization, accusing it of diverting funds to the NRA to help pay for lavish spending by its top executives.
New York – Trump Moves to Force Manhattan D.A. to Reveal Details of Inquiry
New York Times – Nicole Hong, William Rashbaum, and Benjamin Weiser | Published: 8/10/2020
President Trump, seeking to block a subpoena for his tax returns, plans to ask a federal judge to order the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr., to disclose details about his investigation into the president’s business practices. The letter, which Trump’s lawyers wrote to the federal judge in Manhattan, was in response to a filing from prosecutors in Vance’s office, who argued they had wide legal basis to subpoena eight years of the president’s tax records and other financial documents. The office suggested it was investigating the president and his company for possible bank and insurance fraud, a significantly broader inquiry than prosecutors had acknowledged in the past.
North Carolina – New N.C. Campaign Spending Rule Ends Practice Berger Used
MSN – Gary Robertson (Associated Press) | Published: 8/11/2020
North Carolina legislators can no longer spend campaign committee money toward buying or renting homes or condominiums that they or family members own, a practice that powerful state Senate leader Phil Berger used for years. An administrative rule from the State Board of Elections that took effect recently bars such transactions for all state candidates or their campaign committees. The prohibition applies even if the residence is used as the result of holding office or if the payments are made to a business that the politician or officeholder owns. The Legislative Ethics Committee also approved new guidance in May that makes it “unethical” for a legislator to receive a daily expense check to cover lodging expenses while serving in Raleigh if the lawmaker gets them covered through another source.
Ohio – Householder Case: ‘Company C’ CEO Wayne Boich gave cash to HB 6 ‘dark money’ groups
MSN – Randy Ludlow (Columbus Dispatch) | Published: 8/5/2020
The leader of a Columbus-based firm that made its family fortune in Ohio coal provided $25,000 of the money used to open bank accounts for the “dark-money” nonprofit at the center of the House Bill 6 scandal. Wayne Boich, chief executive officer of Boich Companies, also later gave $100,000 to a for-profit company that spent nearly $1.5 million to support former House Speaker Larry Householder’s Republican candidates in the 2018 general election. Boich is the chief executive of “Company C,” listed in a federal court criminal complaint charging Householder and four others with racketeering, The Columbus Dispatch confirmed with a source close to the investigation.
Ohio – New Ohio Speaker Has His Own Ethics Issues Involving FirstEnergy
Sludge – David Moore | Published: 8/10/2020
After the House speaker was indicted for taking bribes from energy companies in what a U.S. Attorney called “likely the largest bribery scheme ever perpetrated against the state of Ohio,” a new speaker with deep financial ties to the same energy companies has been appointed. Republicans elected Rep. Bob Cupp to replace indicted Larry Householder as the House leader. The energy companies accused of bribing Householder and funneling “dark money” to Generation Now, a Householder-controlled 501(c)(4) group, have been major donors to Cupp over his career. Cupp has faced his share of ethics allegations stemming from his energy industry contributions.
Ohio – Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose: No extra ballot drop boxes for November election
Cleveland Plain Dealer – Andrew Tobias | Published: 8/12/2020
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose said Wednesday he is banning county boards of elections from offering more than one drop box for completed absentee ballots this November, saying it is grown too late to make changes to how the state will administer this year’s presidential election. LaRose, a Republican, more than three weeks ago formally asked state Attorney General Dave Yost, also a Republican, for a legal opinion on whether the extra drop boxes were allowed under Ohio law. Democrats accused LaRose of voter suppression, saying the request of Yost was just a charade that would allow LaRose to eventually run out the clock.
Oregon – Supreme Court Puts a Halt to Oregon Redistricting Ballot Measure
OPB News – Dirk VanderHart and Jeff Mapes | Published: 8/11/2020
The U.S. Supreme Court stopped an effort to alter how Oregon draws its legislative and congressional districts. The court granted an emergency stay that will halt, for now, a push to land a measure on the November ballot placing authority for those districts in the hands of a nonpartisan commission. In July, a coalition successfully argued that due to the coronavirus pandemic, it faced an undue burden in collecting enough signatures to place its redistricting measure on the ballot. Even though it had too few signatures to qualify, U.S. District Court Judge Michael McShane ruled the group should face a lower standard. But the Supreme Court reversed that ruling.
August 13, 2020 • Written by Marilyn Wesel
North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger confirmed a third measure to be on the November ballot. Measure 3, a constitutional amendment put forth by Fargo-based North Dakota Voters First, makes several changes to election procedures. This amendment creates paper […]
North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger confirmed a third measure to be on the November ballot.
Measure 3, a constitutional amendment put forth by Fargo-based North Dakota Voters First, makes several changes to election procedures.
This amendment creates paper record and audit requirements for ballots; requires ballots to be sent to military and overseas voters at least 61 days before an election; and makes the Ethics Commission responsible for state legislative redistricting procedures.
The amendment would also introduce an open primary system in which all candidates, regardless of party, would appear on a single ballot.
This would also have the top four candidates advancing to the general election.
A ranked-choice vote would decide the winner.
Additionally, if implemented, North Dakota would become only the second state in the country, after Maine, to employ a statewide ranked-choice system.
A North Dakota-based 501(c)(4) called Brighter Future Alliance is challenging the measure’s eligibility for the ballot.
The alliance is seeking a writ of injunction from the North Dakota Supreme Court prohibiting Jaeger from placing Measure 3 on the November 2020, general election ballot.
August 13, 2020 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance North Carolina: “New N.C. Campaign Spending Rule Ends Practice Berger Used” by Gary Robertson (Associated Press) for MSN Elections National: “Drawing Lessons from Chaotic Primaries, Election Officials Scrambled to Head Off Voting Problems in Tuesday’s Contests” by Amy […]
North Carolina: “New N.C. Campaign Spending Rule Ends Practice Berger Used” by Gary Robertson (Associated Press) for MSN
National: “Drawing Lessons from Chaotic Primaries, Election Officials Scrambled to Head Off Voting Problems in Tuesday’s Contests” by Amy Gardner and Dan Simmons for Washington Post
Georgia: “QAnon Supporter, with Georgia Primary Victory, Is Poised to Bring Far-Right Conspiracy Theory to Congress” by Isaac Stanley-Becker and Rachael Bade (Washington Post) for MSN
Oregon: “Supreme Court Puts a Halt to Oregon Redistricting Ballot Measure” by Dirk VanderHart and Jeff Mapes for OPB News
National: “Trump’s Scottish and Irish Golf Resorts Spur a New Round of Scrutiny on His Businesses” by Anita Kumar for Politico
National: “Federal Appeals Court Skeptical of Michael Flynn’s Effort to Immediately Dismiss Criminal Charge” by Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney for Politico
California: “CalPERS Chief’s Abrupt Resignation Preceded by Conflict of Interest Questions” by Wes Venteicher for Sacramento Bee
New York: “JCOPE Commissioner: Non-Cuomo appointees left out of loop” by Chris Bragg for Albany Times Union
Florida: “Florida NRA Lobbyist Loses in Latest Court Fight over Emails” by Jim Saunders for Tampa Bay Times
August 12, 2020 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance Ohio: “New Ohio Speaker Has His Own Ethics Issues Involving FirstEnergy” by David Moore for Sludge Elections National: “Sen. Kamala D. Harris Named as Joe Biden’s Running Mate” by Amanda Erickson for Washington Post Maryland: “Maryland Gov. Hogan […]
Ohio: “New Ohio Speaker Has His Own Ethics Issues Involving FirstEnergy” by David Moore for Sludge
National: “Sen. Kamala D. Harris Named as Joe Biden’s Running Mate” by Amanda Erickson for Washington Post
Maryland: “Maryland Gov. Hogan OKs Plan for Just 360 Voting Centers Statewide for November Election Amid Lack of Poll Workers” by Emily Opilo and Pamela Wood for Baltimore Sun
National: “Taking Protest to the Streets, and the Mayor’s Front Door” by Mike Baker and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs (New York Times) for MSN
National: “Disinformation for Profit: How a Florida ‘dealmaker’ turns conservative outrage into cash” by Isaac Stanley Becker for Washington Post
National: “Trump Teases a Gettysburg Convention Speech. Experts Say It’s an Ethics Breach.” by Michael Grynbaum and Annie Karni for New York Times
National: “Appeals Court Rejects Key Argument Against McGahn Subpoena” by Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney for Politico
Illinois: “Former City Official Signals He Will Plead Guilty in Bribery Case as Federal Corruption Probe Widens” by David Heinzmann for Chicago Tribune
Michigan: “Michigan Official to Resign After Defending Racist Slur” by John Flesher for Associated Press News
New York: “Trump Moves to Force Manhattan D.A. to Reveal Details of Inquiry” by Nicole Hong, William Rashbaum, and Benjamin Weiser for New York Times
August 11, 2020 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance National: “Trump Antagonizes GOP Megadonor Adelson in Heated Phone Call” by Alex Isenstadt for Politico California: “Campaign Finance Limits Coming to Riverside County” by Jeff Horseman for Riverside Press-Enterprise New Mexico: “Ethics Complaint Alleges Group Failed to Disclose […]
National: “Trump Antagonizes GOP Megadonor Adelson in Heated Phone Call” by Alex Isenstadt for Politico
California: “Campaign Finance Limits Coming to Riverside County” by Jeff Horseman for Riverside Press-Enterprise
New Mexico: “Ethics Complaint Alleges Group Failed to Disclose Donors, and Suggests Connection to Prominent Lobbyist” by Brian Metzger (New Mexico In Depth) for New Mexico Political Report
National: “Postal Service Overhauls Leadership as Democrats Press for Investigation of Mail Delays” by Jacob Bogage (Washington Post) for Anchorage Daily News
Montana: “Helena Judge Again Takes Green Party Off Ballot” by Holly Michels for Helena Independent Record
National: “There’s Been a Big Gray Area When It Comes to Cable News Contributors Dabbling in Political Campaigns” by Jeremy Barr for Washington Post
National: “Trump Long Has Relied on Nondisclosure Deals to Prevent Criticism. That Strategy May Be Unraveling” by Michael Kranish for Washington Post
Illinois: “South Suburban Mayor Charged in Red-Light Camera Bribery Scheme” by Joe Mahr for Chicago Tribune
Florida: “Payments to Florida Lobbyist Flagged in Lawsuit Against NRA” by Gary Fineout for Politico
August 10, 2020 • Written by George Ticoras, Esq.
On October 5, the city of Ottawa will hold a byelection to fill the municipal council seat left vacant by Stephen Blais. The vacant Cumberland ward seat held by Blais, who left to serve as the Member of the Provincial […]
On October 5, the city of Ottawa will hold a byelection to fill the municipal council seat left vacant by Stephen Blais.
The vacant Cumberland ward seat held by Blais, who left to serve as the Member of the Provincial Parliament (MPP) for Orléans, could have been filled by an appointment made by the council itself.
While Blais was elected as MPP in February, the council held off deciding about whether to have an election or make an appointment because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In July, the Ottawa Council agreed to allow voters the choice to fill the seat.
For the first time, electors will be allowed to apply to vote by special mail-in ballot should they feel uncomfortable about voting in person or be unable to make it to a voting location.
August 10, 2020 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance National: “Rep. Tlaib Directed to Reimburse Campaign for $10,800 in Postelection Paychecks” by Niels Lesniewski for Roll Call Ohio: “Householder Case: ‘Company C’ CEO Wayne Boich gave cash to HB 6 ‘dark money’ groups” by Randy Ludlow (Columbus […]
National: “Rep. Tlaib Directed to Reimburse Campaign for $10,800 in Postelection Paychecks” by Niels Lesniewski for Roll Call
Ohio: “Householder Case: ‘Company C’ CEO Wayne Boich gave cash to HB 6 ‘dark money’ groups” by Randy Ludlow (Columbus Dispatch) for MSN
National: “Abrupt Change to Census Deadline Could Result in an Undercount of Latino and Black Communities” by Jose Del Real and Fredrick Kunkle (Washington Post) for Philadelphia Inquirer
Iowa: “Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds Signs Executive Order Restoring Felon Voting Rights, Removing State’s Last-in-the-Nation Status” by Stephen Gruber-Miller and Ian Richardson (Des Moines Register) for USA Today
National: “Former Clients of Acting Homeland Security Chief Chad Wolf Received Millions in Department Contracts” by Brian Schwartz for CNBC
Arizona: “Two PSPRS Trustees Claim Ethics Allegations Hurt Their Businesses, Seek $624,999 from State” by Craig Harris for Arizona Republic
California: “Huizar’s Relatives Not Expected to Face Charges in Corruption Probe, Prosecutor Says” by David Zahniser and Emily Alpert Reyes for Los Angeles Times
National: “How Hotel Chains Got a Slice of Government Aid for Small Businesses” by Isaac Arnsdorf for ProPublica
New York: “New York Attorney General Seeks to Dissolve NRA in Suit Accusing Gun Rights Group of Wide-Ranging Fraud and Self-Dealing” by Carol Leonnig and Tom Hamburger for Washington Post
August 7, 2020 • Written by Mario Dalessandro
Gov. Steve Bullock announced Thursday Montana counties have the option to hold the November general election by mail. If counties decide to hold a mail-in ballot election, ballots will be sent on October 9. Return postage will be provided. Voters […]
Gov. Steve Bullock announced Thursday Montana counties have the option to hold the November general election by mail.
If counties decide to hold a mail-in ballot election, ballots will be sent on October 9.
Return postage will be provided.
Voters will still be able to vote in-person if they choose.
Gov. Bullock allowed counties to hold a mail-in ballot primary election in June.
Ultimately, all 56 counties used mail ballots for the primary, which had record turnout.
August 7, 2020 • Written by John Cetor
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced a special election to fill the 5th congressional district seat vacated by the late Representative John Lewis. The special general election will be held on September 29, with a special runoff held on December 1, […]
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced a special election to fill the 5th congressional district seat vacated by the late Representative John Lewis.
The special general election will be held on September 29, with a special runoff held on December 1, if necessary.
August 7, 2020 • Written by Jim Sedor
National/Federal As Trump Leans into Attacks on Mail Voting, GOP Officials Confront Signs of Republican Turnout Crisis Washington Post – Amy Gardner and Josh Dawsey | Published: 8/3/2020 Multiple public surveys show a growing divide between Democrats and Republicans about the […]
As Trump Leans into Attacks on Mail Voting, GOP Officials Confront Signs of Republican Turnout Crisis
Washington Post – Amy Gardner and Josh Dawsey | Published: 8/3/2020
Multiple public surveys show a growing divide between Democrats and Republicans about the security of voting by mail, with Republicans saying they are far less likely to trust it in November. In addition, party leaders in several states said they are encountering resistance among GOP voters who are being encouraged to vote absentee while also seeing President Trump describe mail voting as “rigged” and “fraudulent.” As a result, state and local Republicans across the country fear they are falling dramatically behind in a practice that is expected to be key to voter turnout this year. Through mailers and Facebook ads, they are racing to promote absentee balloting among their own.
Biden Faces Pressure from Left Over Influence Industry Ties
MSN – Kenneth Vogel and Glenn Thrush (New York Times) | Published: 8/1/2020
Advisers, operatives, fundraisers, and allies involved with Joe Biden’s presidential campaign have deep connections to Washington, D.C.’s lucrative lobbying, communications, and strategic consulting industry. That puts Biden at odds with powerful elements of his party’s liberal base. Increasingly, they are expressing concern the military contractors, Wall Street banks, and other major corporations that paid members of the former vice president’s inner circle while they were out of government could hold disproportionate power in a Biden administration. Politically, it could limit Biden’s ability to cast himself as the antidote to the access peddling that has proliferated in President Trump’s administration.
Corporate Lobbyists Vote to Keep Corporate Lobbyists in the DNC
Sludge – David Moore | Published: 8/5/2020
A resolution that would have changed the Democratic National Committee (DNC) charter to permanently bar corporate PAC donations and ban corporate lobbyists from serving on the party organization was rejected by the DNC’s Rules Committee. Several of the committee appointees who voted against the resolution have backgrounds in corporate lobbying. At least ten current corporate lobbyists and one major former lobbyist – as well as three corporate consultants, four corporate lawyers, and five corporate executives – were among the members who voted against the proposal. Brent Welder, who introduced the resolution, said he was approached by the Biden campaign and pressured to withdraw the measure.
Demeaned, Overlooked, Fighting Back: What it’s like to be a woman in Congress
Roll Call – Kathryn Lyons | Published: 8/5/2020
When U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark first came to Congress in 2013, someone manning the House chamber tried to stop her from setting foot inside. They did not recognize her. The second time it happened, she was not even all that new. “I was walking in with a male colleague; they just looked at us together, assumed we were a couple, and he was the congressman and that I was a spouse going onto the floor when it wasn’t permitted,” the Massachusetts Democrat recalls. Clark is one of several congresswomen The Hill spoke to in recent weeks, after a vulgar comment by U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho on the Capitol steps in July touched off a new round of questions about exactly how far women have come.
DHS Compiled ‘Intelligence Reports’ on Journalists Who Published Leaked Documents
MSN – Shane Harris (Washington Post) | Published: 7/30/2020
The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis disseminated intelligence reports to federal law enforcement agencies and others, summarizing tweets written by two journalists, a reporter for The New York Times and the editor in chief of the blog Lawfare, noting they had published leaked, unclassified documents about department operations in Portland. Such reports are traditionally used for sharing the department’s analysis with federal law enforcement, state and local officials, and some foreign governments. They are not intended to disseminate information about American citizens who have no connection to terrorists or other violent actors and who are engaged in activity protected by the First Amendment, officials said.
Facebook’s Fact Checkers Have Ruled Claims in Trump Ads Are False – But No One Is Telling Facebook’s Users
Anchorage Daily News – Craig Timberg and Andrew Ba Tran (Washington Post) | Published: 8/5/2020
Judgements on the veracity of President Trump’s campaign ads by fact checking organizations that are part of Facebook’s independent network for policing falsehoods on the platform were not shared with Facebook’s users. That is because the company specifically exempts politicians from its rules against deception. Ads containing the falsehoods continue to run freely on the Facebook, without any kind of warning or label. When Facebook’s fact checkers deem non-political ads false, the company removes them from its platform, though they remain in the publicly available Ad Library for research purposes. In the case of the Trump ads, the only public presentation of the factcheckers’ conclusions have been on their own websites.
FEC Says Convicted Utah Businessman Made Illegal Campaign Contributions to Mike Lee, Harry Reid
KSL – Dennis Romboy | Published: 8/3/2020
Convicted businessperson Jeremy Johnson agreed to not challenge allegations he made illegal campaign contributions to U.S. Sen. Mike Lee and former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Johnson used straw donors to give $50,000 to Lee’s Senate campaign and $20,000 to Reid’s reelection campaign in the 2009-2010 election cycle, according to a consent judgement. The FEC, which filed a civil complaint against Johnson in 2015, fined him $840,000. But recognizing Johnson owes the federal government millions of dollars in connection with other cases and is limited in earning a living, the FEC agreed to forgo the penalty. Johnson agreed not to contest a list of allegations describing how he came to make the campaign contributions, several of which involve former Utah Attorney General John Swallow.
Fresno Congressman TJ Cox Used His Office to Skirt Yosemite’s Lottery for Car Passes, Emails Show
Fresno Bee – Kate Irby | Published: 8/4/2020
U.S. Rep. TJ Cox tried to bypass Yosemite National Park’s lottery for vehicle permits over a holiday weekend, and when he was not selected, he used his office to push the National Park Service to grant him tickets, according to internal National Park Service emails. Cox requested, and eventually received, tickets for two cars to enter Yosemite on July 4. U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, who heads the House Western Caucus, is asking the Department of the Interior to provide evidence that Cox was at Yosemite in an official capacity and not for personal reasons.
Full Appeals Court Agrees to Wade into Michael Flynn Case
Associated Press News – Eric Tucker | Published: 7/31/2020
The entire Washington, D.C.-based federal appeals court is stepping into the legal dispute over former national security adviser Michael Flynn as it weighs whether a judge can be forced to dismiss a case the U.S. Justice Department no longer wants to pursue. The action by the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacates a decision from a three-judge panel that ordered the case dropped. The move also prolongs the fight over Flynn’s fate and represents one more dramatic development in a case that has taken unexpected twists and turns over the past year. The court did not offer an explanation for its decision in a brief order but did say “the parties should be prepared to address whether there are ‘no other adequate means to attain the relief’ desired.”
House Committee Subpoenas 4 Top Pompeo Aides
Politico – Kyle Cheney | Published: 8/3/2020
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairperson Eliot Engel subpoenaed four senior aides to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, accusing them of resisting interviews in an investigation of President Trump’s firing of State Department Inspector General Steve Linick. Engel issued the subpoenas to Brian Bulatao, the undersecretary of State for management, as well as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Mike Miller, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Marik String, and senior adviser Toni Porter. The subpoenas are an escalation in the committee’s confrontation with the State Department, which has resisted repeated oversight attempts by the committee since Democrats’ impeachment investigation last year.
How the Trump Campaign Came to Court QAnon, the Online Conspiracy Movement Identified by the FBI as a Violent Threat
Philadelphia Inquirer – Isaac Stanley-Becker (Washington Post) | Published: 8/2/2020
President Trump and his campaign have courted and legitimized QAnon adherents. The viral online movement, which took root on Internet message boards with posts from a self-proclaimed government insider identified as “Q,” has triggered violent acts and occasional criminal cases. Its effects were catalogued last year in an FBI intelligence bulletin listing QAnon among the “anti-government, identity based, and fringe political conspiracy theories” that “very likely motivate some domestic extremists to commit criminal, sometimes violent activity.” As the worldview took shape online, its followers flocked to Trump rallies with QAnon apparel and placards. Recently, as the election has drawn closer, actions by the president and his associates have brought them more directly into the fold.
‘If Not Now, When?’: Black women seize political spotlight
Associated Press News – Claire Galofaro and Kat Stafford | Published: 8/3/2020
Black women have long been the heart of the Democratic Party, but for decades that allegiance did not translate to their own political rise. There have been no Black female governors, just two U.S. senators, and several dozen congresswomen. The people representing them instead have not met their needs: disparities in education and opportunity resulted in Black women making on average 64 cents for every dollar a white man makes. Now Black women are mobilized and demanding a return on their investment. Over the last several years, Black women ran and won elections in historic numbers, from Congress to county school boards. This transformation is taking place in once unlikely places, such as suburban counties in the South.
Kobach and Clay Go Down: Takeaways from a big primary night
Politico – Steven Shepard | Published: 8/5/2020
Republicans went into the August 4 primaries with problems lurking all over the ballot, but they ended the night thanking their voters for cleaning up a potential mess. Democrats have not won a U.S. Senate race in Kansas in more than 80 years, but Kris Kobach as the GOP nominee threatened to make the state an improbable toss-up. Instead, U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall won the primary, giving the GOP a much more electable candidate to go up against a strong Democratic recruit. Meanwhile, Democrat Cori Bush’s primary win over U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay in St. Louis signaled the battle between the Democratic establishment and liberal outsiders has reached a new level: one in which even popular, progressive Black leaders are not immune from challenge.
Misuse of Taxpayer Funds Leads Ethics Committee to Reprimand and Fine Rep. Schweikert
Roll Call – Chris Marquette | Published: 7/30/2020
The House Committee on Ethics ordered that U.S. Rep. David Schweikert be fined $50,000 and reprimanded on the House floor for violating federal law and chamber rules by allowing his office to misuse taxpayer money, skirting FEC reporting requirements, using campaign money for personal use, and pressuring his staff to engage in campaign work. The ethics investigative subcommittee, which looked into Schweikert, decided to recommend a reprimand, a lesser sanction than censure, largely because he accepted responsibility and agreed to pay the fine.
Rep. Sanford Bishop Allegedly Misused More Than $90,000 in Campaign and Official Funds
Politico – John Bresnahan | Published: 7/31/2020
U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop of Georgia allegedly spent more than $90,000 in official funds and campaign money on personal expenses, including “fuel, golf expenses, meals, travel, tuition, and entertainment,” according to the Office of Congressional Ethics. (OCE). The agency said much of the total went to paying expenses at golf clubs where Bishop is a member. More than $16,000 in congressional funds were reportedly spent at annual holiday parties at one club for the staffs of Bishop and his wife, Vivian Creighton Bishop, a Georgia municipal judge. The OCE recommended the House ethics committee launch a full-scale investigation into Bishop.
Republicans Consider South Lawn of the White House for Donald Trump’s Convention Speech
Washington Post – Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey | Published: 8/4/2020
Republican National Convention planners are considering the White House South Lawn as the site of President Trump’s nationally televised nomination acceptance speech. The decision to stage the most high-profile political event of Trump’s reelection campaign at the national seat of presidential power would be just the latest break by Trump in presidential norms, which have historically drawn clear lines between official business of the president and campaign events. Under federal law, government employees and property are generally barred from being used for political purposes, with notable exceptions. The Hatch Act, which prevents federal officials from certain forms of political activity at work, exempts both the president and the vice president from any restrictions.
Trump’s Campaign in Crisis as Aides Attempt August Reset Before Time Runs Out
MSN – Toluse Olorunnipa, Josh Dawsey, and Annie Linskey (Washington Post) | Published: 8/1/2020
Signs that President Trump’s reelection bid is in crisis grew steadily in recent days, one of the most tumultuous moments of a presidency increasingly operating with an air of desperation. Campaign officials pulled television ads off the air amid a late-stage review of strategy and messaging. At the same time, Trump publicly mused about delaying the November election, airing widely debunked allegations about fraud. As the campaign aims to mount a more aggressive defense of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the president has reverted to touting unproven miracle cures and attacking public health officials. With Trump unable to hold traditional rallies and his central economic message no longer relevant, campaign officials are scrambling to assemble a fresh case for his candidacy on the fly.
Vaccine Project Contract Raises Transparency Questions
Politico – Dan Diamond | Published: 7/31/2020
The Trump administration is hiring consultants with drug industry ties to steer its effort to find a coronavirus vaccine under a contract that allows them to avoid disclosing potential conflicts-of-interest. The arrangement, which is covered through a contract for “Operation Warp Speed,” raises more questions about the transparency of the pandemic response and the roles of outside contractors, including top coronavirus vaccine adviser Moncef Slaoui, who are helping steer the government’s $10 billion development program. Democrats have raised persistent questions about why the Trump administration brought in Slaoui as a contractor and not as a special government employee, which would open him up to additional disclosures and ethics requirements.
Canada – Trudeau Defends Work on Contract Now Engulfing His Government
Politico – Andy Blatchford | Published: 7/30/2020
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau aired regrets as he was criticized over a program that has him tangled in his third self-inflicted ethics controversy. The prime minister defended himself before a parliamentary committee over a sole-source contract his government awarded to a powerful charity with close ties to his family. The problems for Trudeau erupted after the contract was signed with WE Charity to administer a student grant program that is part of Canada’s coronavirus pandemic response. Trudeau has already been found guilty of breaking conflict-of-interest laws since becoming minister twice before and the latest ruckus kicked off a probe by the ethics commissioner, an investigation that encompasses his finance minister and spurred calls for his resignation.
From the States and Municipalities
Alabama – Alabama Politician Resigns as a Southern Baptist Pastor After KKK Leader’s Birthday Celebration
Washington Post – Sarah Pulliam Bailey | Published: 7/30/2020
Alabama Rep. Will Dismukes said he has no plans to resign from his legislative seat amid national calls for him to step down after he attended a private celebration of the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. He did resign from his job as a Southern Baptist pastor of a rural church. The national uproar began after Dismukes posted on Facebook he took part in a celebration of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest the same weekend as ceremonies honoring the life of civil rights leader and member of Congress John Lewis in Alabama. Lewis led protesters in a 1965 March across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on “Bloody Sunday” in Selma.
California – Campaign Contribution Limit Set for Fresno County Races at $30K
gvwire.com – David Taub | Published: 8/4/2020
The days of unlimited campaign contributions for candidates running for Fresno County offices are over. The board of supervisors approved a limit of $30,000 per election cycle. The cap not only applies to individual donors but also to PACs. State legislators last year passed Assembly Bill 571, requiring counties and cities to set political contribution limits if none had been there before. If a jurisdiction fails to set limits by the January 1 deadline, maximum contributions revert to the caps for state legislative candidates of $4,700 in an election cycle.
California – Charges Added to LA City Councilman in Corruption Probe
Courthouse News Service – Nathan Solis | Published: 7/30/2020
A federal grand jury added 34 additional criminal charges against Los Angeles City Councilperson Jose Huizar in an ongoing corruption probe into a massive “pay-to-play” developer scheme. Huizar was arrested and charged in June with federal racketeering according to a criminal complaint that detailed bribes paid to the council member for favorable votes on committees he sat on that would allow for developer projects to be built in his district. Cash bribes were delivered to Huizar in liquor boxes, while $800,000 from an unnamed wealthy developer was used to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit for Huizar with a former aide in his council office.
Florida – Ethics Referendum on Ballot in Naples Could Create New Ethics Commission, Office
Naples Daily News – Brittany Carloni | Published: 8/4/2020
Voters in the city of Naples, Florida, will decide on possible changes to the city’s ethics procedure. A referendum on the August ballot allows voters to say yes or no to amending the city charter to establish an independent ethics commission and an ethics office and to set minimum requirements for the city’s ethics code. The current code has weaknesses, said Councilperson Ray Christman. “The city doesn’t even have a designated chief ethics officer,” Christman said. “There’s nobody in the city designated on point and responsible for fielding ethics complaints.”
Florida – Florida Commission on Ethics Lifts NRA Lobbyist Marion Hammer Off the Hook
Florida Bulldog – Dan Christensen | Published: 7/29/2020
The Florida Commission on Ethics found “no probable cause” to believe National Rifle Association (NRA) lobbyist Marion Hammer did not adhere to state lobbyist registration requirements, and it also dismissed a second allegation that she failed to properly file lobbyist compensation reports. The decision marks the second time Hammer has been cleared of wrongdoing despite failing to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments to her from the NRA dating to at least 2007 on quarterly lobbyist compensation reports required by the Legislature.
Hawaii – Alleged Oahu Crime Boss’ Nightclub Was a Popular Place for Political Fundraisers
Honolulu Star Advertiser – Nick Grube | Published: 7/30/2020
For years, the M Nightclub, owned and operated in Honolulu by alleged organized crime boss Michael Miske, was known as a den of debauchery and violence. A recent indictment that accuses Miske and his associates of a series of crimes, including murder, murder-for-hire, armed robbery, and the deployment of potentially deadly pesticides on their dance club patrons, only adds to the reputation. Yet in recent years, before the nightclub was closed down, records show some of Hawaii’s most recognizable politicians – including Gov. David Ige, state Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, and former Honolulu City Councilperson Trevor Ozawa – used the club to hold lucrative political fundraisers.
Idaho – Supreme Court Halts Idaho Online Signatures for Initiative
Jacksonville Journal Courier – Keith Ridler (Associated Press) | Published: 7/30/2020
The U.S Supreme Court ruled an Idaho group must stop collecting online signatures for an education funding initiative for the November ballot. The court ruled in favor of Gov. Brad Little’s request that a District Court’s order allowing online signatures be stayed until the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals makes a ruling. Arguments before that court are scheduled for the middle of August in the expedited case. Reclaim Idaho had argued Little’s statewide stay-at-home order in March because of the pandemic did not include exceptions for ballot initiative signature-gathering. Idaho does not allow online signatures for ballot initiatives. The state has argued in court documents that it undermines the election process.
Illinois – ComEd Pleads Not Guilty in Federal Bribery Case; Prosecution to Be Deferred for Three Years
Chicago Tribune – Megan Crispeau and Jason Meisner | Published: 8/5/2020
Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) pleaded not guilty to an expansive federal bribery charge during what will likely be its final court hearing until 2023. The plea was a formality since the company has entered an agreement to defer prosecution. ComEd will pay a record $200 million fine and cooperate in the ongoing probe of its lobbying practices in Springfield in exchange for the charges being dropped at the end of the agreement period. But while the charges against ComEd will likely sink into the background after the arraignment, the case is far from over. In announcing the case, U.S. Attorney John Lausch said the investigation is “vibrant, and it will continue.”
Louisiana – Judges Disqualify Brian Pope from Running for Lafayette City Marshal
New Orleans Advocate – Kate Gagliano | Published: 8/4/2020
Two judges disqualified suspended Lafayette City Marshal Brian Pope from running for re-election. In one hearing, the Louisiana Board of Ethics argued Pope signed an affidavit when he filed his candidacy form and attested that he did not have any outstanding fines owed to the board. The ethics agency said he currently owes $5,000 in fines and late fees and had been mailed several notice letters about the outstanding balances. In the second hearing, Assistant District Attorney Daniel Landry argued Pope is not qualified to run for re-election because he is barred from registering to vote due to his felony convictions. Status as a registered voter is required to qualify as a candidate. Pope was suspended without pay in 2018 when he was convicted of several felony counts of malfeasance.
Maryland – Judge Sentences Former Baltimore Del. Cheryl Glenn to 2 Years, Says She ‘Sold Her Office to Pay the Bills’
Baltimore Sun – Jessica Anderson | Published: 7/30/2020
Former Maryland Del. Cheryl Glenn was sentenced to two years in prison for taking bribes for legislative favors. The grand jury indictment of Glenn said she accepted five bribes during an 11-month period in 2018 and 2019 to introduce legislation favorable to people and groups giving her the money. She took $5,000 to commit to legislation that would help a business seeking a medical marijuana license, according to prosecutors. Glenn accepted another $5,000 to file a bill to lower the number of years of experience required for a medical director of an opioid clinic. Prosecutors said Glenn actively sought these payments, including telling an associate about her outstanding tax debt as a hint that someone should pay it if they wanted her help.
Michigan – Ex-Chamber Attorney Challenges Mystery Funding of Campaign to Limit Whitmer’s Power
Detroit News – Craig Mauger | Published: 8/3/2020
An attorney who spent decades advising the Michigan Chamber of Commerce is challenging a nonprofit’s use of money from undisclosed sources to back the campaign to limit Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency powers. Bob LaBrant, who helped write some of the state’s campaign finance laws, argues the Michigan Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility, a group tied to Republican consultants, should have to file its own fundraising disclosures after making a series of contributions to the Unlock Michigan petition drive. Unlock Michigan is the effort to repeal a 1945 law that allows a governor to declare a state of emergency and keep the declaration in place without the Legislature’s input.
Michigan – Michigan Senator Sponsors Bills to Help Pawn Shops, Which Support His Campaigns
Detroit Free Press – Paul Egan | Published: 7/30/2020
No Michigan lawmaker has sponsored more bills helpful to the pawn shop industry than state Sen. Peter Lucido. And no Michigan lawmaker has collected more campaign cash from pawn brokers, who are not ranked among the state’s major political donors than Lucido, who is now running for Macomb County prosecutor. Lucido, who in 2018 got pawn brokers what he said was their first rate increase in 100 years and this year is working on getting them a second one amid near-record unemployment resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, said there is no quid pro, only mutual respect.
Minnesota – New Appointments Relieve Minnesota Campaign Finance Board Hamstrung by Vacancies
Minneapolis Star Tribune – Torey Van Oot | Published: 7/31/2020
Gov. Tim Walz named four new members to the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board, filling vacancies that threatened to paralyze the agency’s watchdog work in an election year. The six-member board, which investigates and responds to potential violations of state campaign finance law, was down to just two active members in July after several appointments expired without action by the governor and state legislators. Without a quorum of four members, the board was unable to meet, authorize investigations into complaints, or vote on fines and other enforcement actions, Executive Director Jeff Sigurdson said.
Missouri – Parson PAC Fined for Reporting Lapses Connected to Super Bowl, D.C. Trips
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Jack Suntrup | Published: 8/3/2020
The Missouri Ethics Commission fined a PAC supporting Gov. Mike Parson $2,000 for reporting lapses connected to a pair of flights for the governor the group chartered. The commission said there was probable cause to believe the Uniting Missouri PAC violated state ethics laws by “failing to report the fair market value of two flights within forty-eight hours of receiving the contributions.” Uniting Missouri will only have to pay $200 if the commission does not uncover any other violations within the next two years.
Nevada – Trump Campaign Sues Nevada Over Mail-In Election Bill
Las Vegas Review-Journal – Rory Appelton | Published: 8/4/2020
President Trump’s campaign filed a lawsuit against Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske over changes to the state’s general election plan passed by the Legislature. The lawsuit alleges several provisions of Assembly Bill 4, “lack clear standards to guide the actions of county and city officials administering certain parts of Nevada’s elections.” It includes many of the Republican attacks leveled against enhanced voting by mail and the collection of another’s ballot with permission of the voter, commonly referred to as ballot harvesting. Specifically, the Republicans allege compromised election integrity and increased risk of fraud.
New York – Trump’s Bank Was Subpoenaed by N.Y. Prosecutors in Criminal Inquiry
MSN – David Enrich, Ben Protess, William Rashbaum, and Benjamin Weiser (New York Times) | Published: 8/5/2020
The New York prosecutors who are seeking President Trump’s tax records have also subpoenaed his longtime lender, Deutsche Bank, seeking financial records he and his company provided to the bank. The criminal investigation initially appeared to be focused on hush-money payments made in 2016 to two women who have said they had affairs with Trump. But in a recent court filing, prosecutors with the Manhattan district attorney’s office cited “public reports of possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization” and suggested they were also investigating possible crimes involving bank and insurance fraud.
Ohio – Coal Giant Murray Energy Is $100K Dark Money Donor ‘Company B’ in Federal Probe
MSN – Jackie Borchardt (Cincinnati Enquirer) and Randy Ludlow (Columbus Dispatch) | Published: 7/31/2020
Coal company and House Bill 6 supporter Murray Energy provided $100,000 in “dark money” involved in the alleged racketeering and bribery scheme that ensnared former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and four others. The criminal complaint states “Dark Money Group 1,” previously identified by The Columbus Dispatch and The Cincinnati Enquirer as the for-profit company Hardworking Ohioans Inc., spent nearly $1.5 million to support Householder’s Republican candidates in the 2018 general election. A bankruptcy filing by Murray Energy shows the company gave $100,000 to Hardworking Ohioans amid its flurry of media buys backing Householder-blessed candidates as he angled to be elected speaker.
Ohio – Meet ‘Representative 3,’ Who Benefited from Larry Householder’s Cover Campaign
MSN – Randy Ludlow (Columbus Dispatch) | Published: 7/30/2020
Following passage of Ohio House Bill 6, a group of lawmakers gathered to celebrate with Speaker Larry Householder. Among the celebrants, according to a federal criminal complaint, was “Representative 3,” whom The Columbus Dispatch has identified as state Rep. Jamie Callender of Lake County. He was one of the measure’s two sponsors. Before the vote, a media campaign financed by “dark money” urged voters to contact their representatives and tell them to support the $1 billion bailout of two nuclear plants. Callender’s district includes the Perry Nuclear Power Plant. A complaint by Secretary of State Frank LaRose accuses “Representative 3” of accepting corporate contributions and failing to deposit the money.
Ohio – Secretary of State Frank LaRose Backing Bipartisan Legislative Push Cracking Down on ‘Dark Money’ in Ohio Following Corruption Scandal
Cleveland Plain Dealer – Andrew Tobias | Published: 8/3/2020
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose is joining a bipartisan call to crack down on anonymous political spending in the state, in the aftermath of the recent arrest of former House Speaker Larry Householder. A proposal by some lawmakers would require mandatory donor disclosures for all political spending in Ohio, even if a group is organized as a non-profit, which under federal law do not have to disclose their donors. They also want to require more frequent disclosures – once every other month, instead of the common practice of quarterly reports – and to give the secretary of state’s office subpoena power to force organizations to share records if they do not file them willingly.
Oregon – How a Public Institute in Oregon Became a De Facto Lobbying Arm of the Timber Industry
ProPublica – Rob Davis (Portland Oregonian) and Tony Schick (OPB) | Published: 8/4/2020
A media investigation found the Oregon Forest Resources Institute, created in the 1990s to educate residents about forestry, has acted as a public-relations agency and lobbying arm for the timber industry, in some cases skirting legal constraints that forbid it from doing so. The timber industry has maintained outsized influence in the state, thwarting attempts to restrict logging with the help of a decades-long public opinion campaign. Through the institute, the timber industry executed that campaign from behind the veneer of the state government.
Rhode Island – Ethics Commission Unlikely to Appeal Overturned $200 Violation Against Supreme Court Justice
WPRI – Eli Sherman | Published: 7/29/2020
The Rhode Island Ethics Commission is keeping its legal options open after a judge overturned a $200 ethics violation against a state Supreme Court justice, but Executive Director Jason Gramitt said an appeal for further review is unlikely. Superior Court Judge Brian Stern vacated the commission’s ruling against Associate Justice Francis Flaherty. The violation stemmed from a 2016 complaint accusing Flaherty of repeatedly failing to disclose his leadership position in a Catholic nonprofit while also ruling on a priest abuse case. Gramitt described the decision as “narrow and limited,” meaning it would be more challenging to convince the Supreme Court to hear the case on appeal.
Tennessee – Tennessee State Senator Charged with Stealing Federal Funds
Associated Press News – Adrian Sainz | Published: 7/30/2020
Tennessee Sen. Katrina Robinson was charged with stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal funds received by a health care company she directed and using the money to pay for her wedding and other personal expenses. Robinson is director of The Healthcare Institute, which provides training for jobs in the health care field. The school received more than $2.2 million in federal grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. From 2015 through 2019, Robinson stole more than $600,000 and used it to pay for her wedding and honeymoon, a 2016 Jeep Renegade for her daughter, travel and entertainment for her family, and an event for her state Senate campaign, prosecutors said.
August 6, 2020 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance National: “FEC Says Convicted Utah Businessman Made Illegal Campaign Contributions to Mike Lee, Harry Reid” by Dennis Romboy for KSL California: “Campaign Contribution Limit Set for Fresno County Races at $30K” by David Taub for gvwire.com Michigan: “Ex-Chamber […]
National: “FEC Says Convicted Utah Businessman Made Illegal Campaign Contributions to Mike Lee, Harry Reid” by Dennis Romboy for KSL
California: “Campaign Contribution Limit Set for Fresno County Races at $30K” by David Taub for gvwire.com
Michigan: “Ex-Chamber Attorney Challenges Mystery Funding of Campaign to Limit Whitmer’s Power” by Craig Mauger for Detroit News
Ohio: “Secretary of State Frank LaRose Backing Bipartisan Legislative Push Cracking Down on ‘Dark Money’ in Ohio Following Corruption Scandal” by Andrew Tobias for Cleveland Plain Dealer
National: “Kobach and Clay Go Down: Takeaways from a big primary night” by Steven Shepard for Politico
National: “Republicans Consider South Lawn of the White House for Donald Trump’s Convention Speech” by Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey for Washington Post
Nevada: “Trump Campaign Sues Nevada Over Mail-In Election Bill” by Rory Appelton for Las Vegas Review-Journal
National: “Facebook’s Fact Checkers Have Ruled Claims in Trump Ads Are False – But No One Is Telling Facebook’s Users” by Craig Timberg and Andrew Ba Tran for Washington Post
National: “Demeaned, Overlooked, Fighting Back: What it’s like to be a woman in Congress” by Kathryn Lyons for Roll Call
Illinois: “ComEd Pleads Not Guilty in Federal Bribery Case; Prosecution to Be Deferred for Three Years” by Megan Crispeau and Jason Meisner for Chicago Tribune
Oregon: “How a Public Institute in Oregon Became a De Facto Lobbying Arm of the Timber Industry” by Rob Davis (Portland Oregonian) and Tony Schick (OPB) for ProPublica
August 5, 2020 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance Michigan: “Michigan Senator Sponsors Bills to Help Pawn Shops, Which Support His Campaigns” by Paul Egan for Detroit Free Press Minnesota: “New Appointments Relieve Minnesota Campaign Finance Board Hamstrung by Vacancies” by Torey Van Oot for Minneapolis Star […]
Michigan: “Michigan Senator Sponsors Bills to Help Pawn Shops, Which Support His Campaigns” by Paul Egan for Detroit Free Press
Minnesota: “New Appointments Relieve Minnesota Campaign Finance Board Hamstrung by Vacancies” by Torey Van Oot for Minneapolis Star Tribune
Missouri: “Parson PAC Fined for Reporting Lapses Connected to Super Bowl, D.C. Trips” by Jack Suntrup for St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Ohio: “Coal Giant Murray Energy Is $100K Dark Money Donor ‘Company B’ in Federal Probe” by Jackie Borchardt (Cincinnati Enquirer) and Randy Ludlow (Columbus Dispatch) for MSN
National: “‘If Not Now, When?’: Black women seize political spotlight” by Claire Galofaro and Kat Stafford for Associated Press News
National: “As Trump Leans into Attacks on Mail Voting, GOP Officials Confront Signs of Republican Turnout Crisis” by Amy Gardner and Josh Dawsey for Washington Post
National: “How the Trump Campaign Came to Court QAnon, the Online Conspiracy Movement Identified by the FBI as a Violent Threat” by Isaac Stanley-Becker (Washington Post) for Philadelphia Inquirer
National: “House Committee Subpoenas 4 Top Pompeo Aides” by Kyle Cheney for Politico
New York: “N.Y. Prosecutor: Trump financial probe not limited to ‘hush money’” by Josh Gerstein for Politico
August 4, 2020 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance Ohio: “Meet ‘Representative 3,’ Who Benefited from Larry Householder’s Cover Campaign” by Randy Ludlow (Columbus Dispatch) for MSN Elections National: “Trump’s Campaign in Crisis as Aides Attempt August Reset Before Time Runs Out” by Toluse Olorunnipa, Josh Dawsey, […]
Ohio: “Meet ‘Representative 3,’ Who Benefited from Larry Householder’s Cover Campaign” by Randy Ludlow (Columbus Dispatch) for MSN
National: “Trump’s Campaign in Crisis as Aides Attempt August Reset Before Time Runs Out” by Toluse Olorunnipa, Josh Dawsey, and Annie Linskey (Washington Post) for MSN
Louisiana: “Louisiana Board of Ethics Objects to Brian Pope Candidacy, Claims He Owes $5K in Fees” by Ashley White (Lafayette Daily Advertiser) for MSN
National: “Rep. Sanford Bishop Allegedly Misused More Than $90,000 in Campaign and Official Funds” by John Bresnahan for Politico
National: “Vaccine Project Contract Raises Transparency Questions” by Dan Diamond for Politico
Alabama: “Alabama Politician Resigns as a Southern Baptist Pastor After KKK Leader’s Birthday Celebration” by Sarah Pulliam Bailey for Washington Post
Rhode Island: “Ethics Commission Unlikely to Appeal Overturned $200 Violation Against Supreme Court Justice” by Eli Sherman for WPRI
Tennessee: “Tennessee State Senator Charged with Stealing Federal Funds” by Adrian Sainz for Associated Press News
National: “Biden Faces Pressure from Left Over Influence Industry Ties” by Kenneth Vogel and Glenn Thrush (New York Times) for MSN
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.