May 1, 2019 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance National: “‘No Corporate PAC’ Pledges Aren’t Always So Pure” by Kate Ackley for Roll Call National: “As Buttigieg Builds His Campaign, Gay Donors Provide the Foundation” by Jeremy Peters and Shane Goldmacher for New York Times Indiana: “Contractor […]
National: “‘No Corporate PAC’ Pledges Aren’t Always So Pure” by Kate Ackley for Roll Call
National: “As Buttigieg Builds His Campaign, Gay Donors Provide the Foundation” by Jeremy Peters and Shane Goldmacher for New York Times
Indiana: “Contractor Sues to Halt Pay-to-Play Ordinance” by Matthew LeBlanc (Associated Press) for Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette
Colorado: “Another Allegation of Harassment Against Colorado Lobbyist Benjamin Waters” by Bente Birkeland for Colorado Public Radio
Illinois: “A Federal Jury Convicts Former Top Aide to Dorothy Brown of Lying About an Alleged Bribes-for-Jobs Scheme” by Jason Meisner for Chicago Tribune
Maryland: “Pugh’s Statement ‘Is Not True’: City Hall emails reveal how aides learned Baltimore mayor lied about book sales” by Doug Donovan, Talia Richman, and Jean Marbella for Baltimore Sun
New Hampshire: “Sununu Inaugural Team Releases Conflict of Interest Policy, Months After Declining to Do So” by Casey McDermott for New Hampshire Public Radio
Arkansas: “An Early Adopter, Arkansas Rethinks Lawmaker Term Limits” by Andrew DeMillo (Associated Press) for Hot Springs Sentinel-Record
Nevada: “Disgraced Ex-Councilman Ricki Barlow Returns to Lobby City Hall” by Shea Johnson for Las Vegas Review-Journal
April 25, 2019 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance Pennsylvania: “Ex-Reading Mayor Vaughn Spencer Sentenced to Eight Years in Prison in Case Tied to Allentown Corruption” by Peter Hall for Allentown Morning Call Ethics National: “Trump Says He Is Opposed to White House Aides Testifying to Congress, […]
Pennsylvania: “Ex-Reading Mayor Vaughn Spencer Sentenced to Eight Years in Prison in Case Tied to Allentown Corruption” by Peter Hall for Allentown Morning Call
National: “Trump Says He Is Opposed to White House Aides Testifying to Congress, Deepening Power Struggle with Hill” by Robert Costa, Tom Hamburger, Josh Dawsey and Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Six Trump Interior Appointees Are Being Investigated for Possible Ethical Misconduct” by Juliet Eilperin and Dino Grandoni (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Divided on Impeachment, Democrats Wrestle with Duty and Politics” by Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Nicholas Fandos for New York Times
Alabama: “How a Lawyer, a Lobbyist and a Legislator Waged War on a Birmingham Superfund Site” by Steven Mufson (Washington Post) for AL.com
Alaska: “Lawmakers Strike Compromise on Scaling Back Conflict of Interest Restrictions” by Andrew Kitchenman for KTOO
Florida: “Andrew Gillum Agrees to Pay $5,000 Ethics Fine” by News Service of Florida for Tampa Bay Times
Pennsylvania: “Ex-Sheriff John Green Admits Taking Bribes: ‘I have betrayed the confidence’ of Philly citizens” by Jeremy Roebuck for Philadelphia Inquirer
Washington: “A State Senator Said Nurses ‘Probably Play Cards’ at Work. Facing Mass Outrage, She’s Apologized.” by Allyson Chiu (Washington Post) for Seattle Times
Alaska: “As Capitol Reporters Dwindle, Alaska Lawmakers Grapple with Rise of Political Blogs” by Nat Herz for KTOO
South Dakota: “S.D. House Speaker Paid $12,000 for Lobbyist’s Legal Fees” by Bob Mercer for KELOLAND
April 22, 2019 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance National: “How the IRS Gave Up Fighting Political Dark Money Groups” by Maya Miller for ProPublica South Dakota: “Lobbyists Sue SD Officials Over Ban on Out-of-State Contributions to Ballot Measure Committees” by Sarah Mearhoff for Mitchell Republic Elections […]
National: “How the IRS Gave Up Fighting Political Dark Money Groups” by Maya Miller for ProPublica
South Dakota: “Lobbyists Sue SD Officials Over Ban on Out-of-State Contributions to Ballot Measure Committees” by Sarah Mearhoff for Mitchell Republic
National: “Mueller’s Report Paints a Portrait of a Campaign Intrigued by Russian Overtures” by Rosalind Helderman, Tom Hamburger, Karoun Demirjian, and Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) for Anchorage Daily News
California: “Lawmakers and Landlords: More than a quarter of California legislators are both” by Matt Levin and Elizabeth Castillo for CALmatters
South Carolina: “Richard Quinn, for Years Consultant to Top SC GOP Pols, Indicted on Perjury Charges” by John Monk andf Avery Wilkes for The State
Texas: “Conservative Group Empower Texans Sues Lawmaker to Gain State House Media Credentials” by Emma Platoff for Texas Tribune
Florida: “Ethics Complaint Accuses Kristen Rosen Gonzalez of Violating Lobbying Rules” by Kyra Gurney for Miami Herald
Indiana: “Scott Pruitt Left the EPA Mired in Scandal. Now He Is Lobbying Indiana Lawmakers.” by Emily Hopkins for Indianapolis Star
April 19, 2019 • Written by Jim Sedor
Analysis: The many reasons to run for president when you probably don’t stand a chance
MSN – Matt Flegenheimer (New York Times) | Published: 4/14/2019
Presidential primaries tend to produce one nominee but many winners. Beyond the long-shot candidates effectively auditioning for cabinet positions or building a profile (and donor base) for future races, there are prospective books to sell and television contracts to sign, corporate boards to join, and paid speeches to make. Any setback is temporary. “There’s just absolutely no downside and only upside,” Republican strategist Antonia Ferrier said of quixotic presidential runs. “It is an industry of self-promotion. What better way to self-promote than run for president?”
Mueller Whacks Trump with Evidence of Obstruction
Politico – Josh Gerstein and Darren Samuelsohn | Published: 4/18/2019
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report revealed President Trump tried to seize control of the Russia probe and force Mueller’s removal to stop him from investigating potential obstruction of justice by the president. On numerous occasions, Trump’s impulses to stymie the investigators were only halted by staffers’ refusal to carry out orders. While the document confirms Mueller found no conspiracy between Trump’s campaign and the Kremlin, it contains numerous unfavorable observations regarding potential obstruction of justice and sheds light on why the special counsel chose to neither exonerate Trump nor conclude he committed a crime.
Political Consultant Patten Sentenced to Probation After Steering Ukrainian Money to Trump Inaugural
Seattle Times – Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 4/12/2019
An American political consultant whose guilty plea marked the first confirmation that illegal foreign money was used to help fund Donald Trump’s inaugural committee was sentenced to probation by a federal judge who cited his cooperation with prosecutors. W. Samuel Patten admitted steering $50,000 from a pro-Russian Ukrainian politician to Trump’s committee in an investigation spun off from special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Patten acknowledged he was helped by a Russian national who is a longtime associate of former Trump campaign chairperson Paul Manafort. U.S. District Court Judge Amy noted no federal sentencing guideline directly applies to his offense of failing to register as a foreign lobbyist, which is punishable by up to five years in prison.
Prosecution of Former White House Counsel Sets K Street on Edge – Again
Politico – Theodoric Meyer | Published: 4/11/2019
The Justice Department’s indictment of Gregory Craig, who served as White House counsel under President Obama, sent a signal to K Street that lobbyists who work for foreign interests without registering have reason to be afraid. Some lobbyists have been on edge since Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairperson, was indicted on charges of violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act, previously a rarely enforced law requiring lobbyists and others who work on behalf of foreign governments and political parties to disclose their activity. Some said Craig’s indictment is likely to reverberate on K Street as the crackdown continues. A letter from the FARA enforcement unit now “has to be taken as seriously as a heart attack,” said Matthew Sanderson, an attorney who advises clients on the law.
From the States and Municipalities:
Alabama: Lawmakers Pass Bill Saying Economic Developers Are Not Lobbyists
AL.com – Mike Cason | Published: 4/16/2019
A bill exempting economic developers from a requirement to register as lobbyists under the Alabama ethics law won final passage in the Legislature and could be signed into law by Gov. Kay Ivey. Lawmakers and the state’s industrial recruiters say the bill was needed to protect the confidentiality of site selection efforts by representatives of companies interested in coming to Alabama. Lobbyists are required to report to the Ethics Commission who they represent and information about their activities, reports that are available to the public. The bill proved controversial last year, with critics saying it would create two classes of individuals under the ethics law and open loopholes.
California: Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against Santa Clara Mayor in Conflict-of-Interest Case
San Jose Mercury News – Thy Vo | Published: 4/15/2019
Superior Court Judge Mark Pierce threw out a lawsuit that accused Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor of failing to divulge at least $180,000 in income on conflict-of-interest forms, ruling the documents are “political works” exempt from disclosure requirements. The forms require elected and appointed officials to report all their financial interests. But Gillmor’s attorney argued the lawsuit was hatched by political opponents and should be dismissed under a provision in the law concerning a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) that protects people against suits filed to intimidate them or silence their free speech rights. Pierce ruled Gillmor’s conflict-of-interest forms are related to her role as a politician and thereby qualify as “political works” that are protected speech under the anti-SLAPP statute.
Colorado: Denver’s Big 3 Lobbyists Have Deep Relationships with City Government and Mayor Michael Hancock
Colorado Public Radio – Ben Markus | Published: 4/11/2019
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock is seeking a third term this year, and on the campaign trail he is often criticized for his close ties to the business community, particularly developers. Even critics say there is nothing wrong with the mayor and his staff being in close quarters with the business community. But a Colorado Public Radio investigation found several lobbying groups that travel with the mayor also have contracts to work for the city. At the same time, they are actively lobbying the city on behalf of corporate clients. Lobbyists often stock their firms with former city workers, who sometimes go back to work for Denver, perpetuating the “revolving door,” which is legal under city rules. The lobbying firms are also among the largest donors to city campaigns.
Florida: Internet Intrigue: Blitz of lobbyists, consultants worked behind scenes before broadband vote
Tallahassse Democrat – Jeff Burlew | Published: 4/16/2019
When talk of a city-owned broadband internet utility surfaced at the same time an out-of-town fiber-optic firm eyed Tallahassee as a potential new market, lobbyists, public relations people and industry consultants streamed into action. The debate during city commission meetings in March was contentious enough. But there was intrigue behind the curtain. By the time the dust settled, the commission reversed course on plans to explore creation of a new utility, something MetroNet, an Indiana-based company still considering coming to town, opposed. The drama that unfolded came after years of high-profile controversy involving lobbyists and consultants at City Hall. Watchdogs say it highlights the kind of murky dealings that undermine confidence in the city’s ability to police lobbying.
Indiana: Casino-Investor Ties Led Speaker Bosma to Skip Gaming Bill Vote. Here’s Why Questions Linger.
Indianapolios Star – Tony Cook and Kaitlin Lange | Published: 4/18/2019
Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma is recusing himself from votes on legislation that would make some of the biggest changes to Indiana’s casino laws in years because of a potentially lucrative contract arranged by a casino owner. Bosma said his law firm is providing legal representation to the Vigo County Capital Improvement Board, a local entity that stands to benefit from the legislation, which would allow a casino in Terre Haute. The contract was arranged by businessperson Greg Gibson, one of two principal investors in Spectacle Entertainment. Spectacle is lobbying lawmakers for permission to move two casinos in Gary to more lucrative locations. Heightening the concerns are Bosma’s private discussions about the legislation with other lawmakers and casino companies, despite his decision to avoid any public votes on the topic.
Louisiana: Proposed Law Would Bar Legislators from Giving Tulane Scholarships to Immediate Family
New Orleans Times Picayune – Wilborn Nobles | Published: 4/16/2019
A new bill in the Louisiana Senate would bar close relatives of certain state politicians from being eligible to receive free tuition at Tulane University. Senate Bill 183 would make Tulane’s Legislative Scholarship unavailable for the immediate family members of a Louisiana legislator, statewide elected official, or an elected Louisiana official in Congress. The advantage of wealth and privilege in gaining access to elite universities has emerged as a hot topic following recent allegations that wealthy parents bribed university administrators and coaches at top schools to gain admission for their children. While no such payments are alleged in Tulane’s case, some critics say the university’s Legislative Scholarship Program is a “source of political patronage.”
Massachusetts: For the First Time, Boston Municipal Lobbyists Are Required to Register Their Work with City Hall
Boston Globe – Milton Valencia | Published: 4/17/2019
Lobbyists in Boston will now have to register with the city clerk’s office. Those who do not register could face a fine of up to $300, according to an ordinance that was passed last year. Under the ordinance, the city will set up a five-member commission that will be charged with reviewing an individual or entity’s work with the city, determining whether that work would be subject to the new law, and whether to hand out penalties, said City Clerk Maureen Feeney. She said her office was communicating the new requirements to lobbyists who had inquired about the process. Feeney also said an online portal system the city set up is similar to the one used by the state.
Mississippi: Public Universities Spend Millions Wining, Dining, Lobbying Mississippi Lawmakers
Jackson Clarion-Ledger – Luke Ramseth and Geoff Pender | Published: 4/10/2019
Seven of Mississippi’s eight public universities and their private foundations spent nearly $2 million on lobbying over the past four years, a Jackson Clarion Ledger analysis found. That amount includes money for staff lobbyists and private lobbying firms, plus entertaining lawmakers. These public universities lavish money on public officials in hopes of getting more public dollars. And they spend more than most any other special interest groups seeking influence in the Capitol. In Mississippi, it is all completely legal. The state’s lack of restrictions on gifts to public officials means elected officials, their families, and even friends can benefit from unlimited largesse without worry.
Missouri: After Controversial MSD Vote, Winners Donated More Than $150,000 to Stenger Campaign
St. Louis Post Dispatch – David Hunn and Jacob Barker | Published: 4/15/2019
A contract to build the Deer Creek tunnel was one of the largest the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District (MSD) had awarded in years. MSD staff recommended awarding it to the low bidder, Jay Dee Contractors. The district board’s practice, almost without exception, was to approve the professional staff’s recommendation. But SAK Construction mounted a lobbying effort over the contract, and the company’s concerns reached St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger’s office, which appoints three of MSD’s six members on its Board of Trustees. A top aide to Stenger met with two key trustees to discuss the matter. After the meeting with Stenger’s aide, one of those two MSD trustees switched his vote, and SAK ultimately won the contract. Less than a month after the vote, SAK executives did something they had never done before: they began pouring money into Stenger’s campaign.
Nevada: Nevada Lawmaker Paid Her Sister Thousands for Campaign Work, But We Can’t See the Details
Reno Gazette-Journal – James DeHaven | Published: 4/15/2019
Nevada has routinely ranked at or near the bottom of nationwide political transparency surveys. But ex-state Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson’s downfall under a cloud of admitted election spending misdeeds has sparked renewed interest in strengthening anti-corruption statutes. Now, weeks after Atkinson’s resignation, a Reno Gazette Journal analysis reveals state Sen. Pat Spearman paid nearly $103,000 in campaign funds to a consulting firm with close ties to her sister. Reports show Donna Spearman-Davis and Crawford Management Group were the two largest recipients of Spearman’s campaign cash, accounting for about 30 percent of the nearly $500,000 the former congressional hopeful and longtime state senator spent between 2012 and 2018.
April 17, 2019 • Written by Jim Sedor
Colorado: “In Final Push, Democrats Rush Major Changes to Elections and Campaign Finance Disclosure in Colorado” by Sandra Fish for Colorado Sun
New York: “City Council Hears Bill to Expand Public Match in Campaign Finance Program” by Samar Khurshid for Gotham Gazette
National: “Interior’s Watchdog Opens an Ethics Probe into Bernhardt Four Days after His Senate Confirmation” by Darryl Fears for Washington Post
California: “Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against Santa Clara Mayor in Conflict-of-Interest Case” by Thy Vo for San Jose Mercury News
National: “A Record Number of Congresswomen are Mothers. Here’s a Glimpse Inside Their First-Ever Caucus.” by Kaitlin Gibson for Washington Post
Canada: “Ruling in Trudeau-Aga Khan Case Could Change Rules for Unpaid Lobbyists” by Elizabeth Thompson for CBC
Florida: “Beckham Partner Has a Friend in Miami-Dade’s Mayor and a Lobbyist in the Mayor’s Son” by Douglas Hanks for Miami Herald
Florida: “Internet Intrigue: Blitz of lobbyists, consultants worked behind scenes before broadband vote” by Jeff Burlew for Tallahassse Democrat
April 8, 2019 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance National: “Courts Have No Say When FEC Wants to Ignore Alleged Wrongdoing” by Kenneth Doyle for Bloomberg Government Ethics California: “As Power of California Senate Leader Grows, So Does Her Spouse’s Consulting Business” by Liam Dillon for Los […]
National: “Courts Have No Say When FEC Wants to Ignore Alleged Wrongdoing” by Kenneth Doyle for Bloomberg Government
California: “As Power of California Senate Leader Grows, So Does Her Spouse’s Consulting Business” by Liam Dillon for Los Angeles Times
Maryland: “Baltimore Board of Ethics to Investigate Mayor Pugh’s Sales of ‘Healthy Holly’ Books” by Doug Donovan and Meredith Cohen for Baltimore Sun
Michigan: “Mayor Mike Duggan Set Her Up to Succeed. That Raises Questions.” by Joe Guillen and Kat Stafford for Detroit Free Press
National: “You Elected Them to Write New Laws. They’re Letting Corporations Do It Instead.” by Rob O’Dell (Arizona Republic) and Mark Penzenstadler for USA Today
Alabama: “House Approves Permanent Economic Developer Lobbying Exemption” by Brian Lyman for Montgomery Advertiser
Illinois: “Court: Illinois union lobbyist can keep public pension windfall he got for one day of substitute teaching” by Ray Long for Chicago Tribune
Rhode Island: “Rhode Island Reaches Lobbying Disclosure Agreement with Mastercard” by Hazel Bradford for Pensions and Investments
March 25, 2019 • Written by Jonathan Spontarelli
Campaign Finance National: “Following Citizens United, Foreign-Owned Corporations Funnel Millions into US Elections” by Karl Evers-Hillstrom and Raymod Arke for Center for Responsive Politics National: “‘No PAC Money’ Pledges Leave Corporations in a Partisan Bind” by Kate Ackley for Roll […]
National: “Following Citizens United, Foreign-Owned Corporations Funnel Millions into US Elections” by Karl Evers-Hillstrom and Raymod Arke for Center for Responsive Politics
National: “‘No PAC Money’ Pledges Leave Corporations in a Partisan Bind” by Kate Ackley for Roll Call
National: Mueller Finds No Trump-Russia Conspiracy, but Stops Short of Exonerating President on Obstruction by Mark Mazzetti and Katie Benner (New York Times) for MSN
National: “Cummings Demands Docs on Kushner’s Alleged Use of Encrypted App for Official Business” by Andrwew Desiderio and Kyle Cheney for Politico
Illinois: “Ald. Willie Cochran Pleads Guilty — Finally — to Federal Fraud Charge for Misusing Campaign Funds” by Jason Meisner for Chicago Tribune
Maryland: “University of Maryland Medical System CEO Placed on Leave Amid Review of Contracting Practices” by Luke Broadwater and Pamela Wood for Baltimore Sun
New Jersey: “‘Dark Money’ Groups Pour Tens of Millions of Dollars into N.J. elections. Lawmakers Want to Know Their Donors.” by Jonathan Lai for Philadelphia Inquirer
Wisconsin: “Judge Bocks GOP Lame-Duck Laws Limiting Tony Evers’ Powers; Evers Seeks to Remove Wisconsin from Obamacare Challenge” by Mark Sommerhauser for madison.com
Connecticut: “Jon Lender: Lobbyists pay $13,000 in fines connected to tech schools controversy” by Jon Lender for Hartford Courant
March 22, 2019 • Written by Jim Sedor
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 […]
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.
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.
March 15, 2019 • Written by Craig Swanson
The Kentucky General Assembly unanimously advanced Senate Bill 6 to Gov. Matt Bevin’s desk. The bill requires the disclosure of executive lobbyist compensation and prohibits compensation for executive agency lobbyists contingent on awarding of a government contract or based on […]
The Kentucky General Assembly unanimously advanced Senate Bill 6 to Gov. Matt Bevin’s desk.
The bill requires the disclosure of executive lobbyist compensation and prohibits compensation for executive agency lobbyists contingent on awarding of a government contract or based on a percentage of a government contract awarded.
If signed, the bill will become effective 90 days after the General Assembly adjourns sine die.
March 15, 2019 • Written by Jim Sedor
Federal: After Week of Infighting, Democrats Wonder Where to Draw Line on Speech MSN – Glenn Thrush and Sheryl Gay Stolberg (New York Times) | Published: 3/10/2019 A House resolution that condemned anti-Semitism and virtually every other form of bigotry, […]
After Week of Infighting, Democrats Wonder Where to Draw Line on Speech
MSN – Glenn Thrush and Sheryl Gay Stolberg (New York Times) | Published: 3/10/2019
A House resolution that condemned anti-Semitism and virtually every other form of bigotry, passed with unanimous Democratic support. The measure, which began as a rebuke to U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar and ended as a catchall declaration of tolerance that did not mention her by name, seemed to satisfy no one. Ultimately, the intraparty fight left unanswered a question that transcends partisan politics: In an era of shouting and provocation, how should Congress respond when its members say hateful or hurtful things? Many Democrats worry they have set a new standard, creating a precedent that mandates a major response every time a member transgresses rules of rhetorical decorum that are ill-defined and subject to dispute.
Election Watchdog Hits Jeb Bush’s Super-PAC with Massive Fine for Taking Money from Foreign Nationals
Mother Jones – Nihal Krishan | Published: 3/11/2019
The FEC issued a record fine to Right to Rise USA, the super PAC that backed Jeb Bush’s 2016 presidential bid, for accepting a seven-figure donation from a company owned by Chinese nationals who were in business with Bush’s brother, Neil. It is illegal for foreign nationals to be involved in making donations to political committees. Neil Bush solicited a $1.3 million contribution from American Pacific International Capital (APIC), an international investment holding company where he is a board member. Although the contribution to the super PAC came from the American arm of APIC, the company’s owners are Chinese, and Neil Bush initially solicited the money from two Chinese nationals. The FEC fined APIC $550,000 and Right to Rise $390,000.
From the States and Municipalities:
Arizona: Brnovich to Rule on Legality of Tempe’s Ban Against ‘Dark Money’ in Politics
Arizona Daily Star – Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services) | Published: 3/13/2019
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich will rule whether cities can impose their own prohibitions on “dark money” in local campaigns. The move comes because Sen. Vince Leach invoked a state law that requires the attorney general to investigate allegations by lawmakers of violations of state laws by local officials. In this case, Leach contends a Tempe initiative approved by voters in 2017 requiring public disclosure of the true source of campaign donations is illegal. What Brnovich decides could affect the ability of cities and towns throughout the state to enact similar laws.
Florida: Former City Manager Rick Fernandez Fined $6K in Ethics Case
Tallahassee Democrat – Jeff Burlew | Published: 3/7/2019
The Florida Commission on Ethics agreed to settle civil charges against former Tallahassee City Manager Rick Fernandez that he solicited and accepted free Florida State University football tickets from a city vendor or lobbyist and did not report a catering discount on gift forms. Fernandez will pay $6,000 in fines and face public censure and reprimand as part of the settlement. The commission found probable cause Fernandez committed 20 ethics violations when he accepted the football tickets from lobbyist Adam Corey’s firm and took a nearly $7,000 catering discount at The Edison restaurant for his daughter’s wedding reception. The Edison, which Corey co-owns, got $2.1 million from the city and the Community Redevelopment Agency to rehabilitate the area where the restaurant is located.
Florida: Miami-Dade Ethics Board Dismisses Lobbying Complaint Against Beckham Group
Miami Herald – Joey Flechas | Published: 3/13/2019
The Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust dismissed a complaint against David Beckham and associates trying to launch a Major League Soccer (MLS) team in Miami. A complaint alleged Beckham, his partners, and their lawyers had failed to properly register to lobby elected officials on matters related to the proposal to build a $1 billion soccer stadium and office park on city-owned land. One part of the complaint involved disclosure of stakeholders owning companies that employ lobbyists in the city. Lobbyists representing the Beckham group were not disclosing the identities of people or entities who own five percent or more of the corporations they are representing, a disclosure required under county law. But it turns out almost nobody was disclosing this due to the poorly formatted forms.
Illinois: Bombshell Filing Details FBI’s Two-Year Probe of Alleged Corruption by Ald. Daniel Solis
Chicago Tribune – Jason Meisner, Jeff Coen, Stacy St. Clair, and Christy Gutowski | Published: 3/13/2019
A search warrant lays out a laundry list of alleged federal crimes the FBI had compiled against Chicago Ald. Daniel Solis by the time he was confronted and agreed to cooperate with the investigation. Solis had received a “steady flow of personal benefits” in exchange for official action as an alderman or the promise of official action, the affidavit alleged, including Viagra pills and prostitution services from a political operative who represented a company seeking an exemption from the city’s water ordinance. As the powerful head of the Zoning Committee, Solis directed a legislative aide to maintain a running list of people and entities he would seek campaign contributions from, along with corresponding information about what official action each contributor needed from him, the affidavit alleged.
Iowa: County Officials Vacationed at Vendor’s Florida Beach Condo
AP News – Ryan Foley | Published: 3/13/2019
Two county treasurers from Iowa recently vacationed with a businessperson they have supported for a lucrative tax website contract, staying at his Florida beach property for free in an apparent violation of state ethics law. The trip highlighted a long, cozy, and ethically questionable relationship between county officials and an important vendor. Iowa law bans public employees from accepting gifts and favors worth three dollars or more from “restricted donors,” who include vendors, lobbyists, and others affected by their official actions. Vendors are barred from offering gifts, and the law does not contain an exception for friends.
Kansas: White Linen Restaurant Bans Lawmakers, Lobbyists After Altercation
Topeka Capital-Journal – Sherman Smith | Published: 3/8/2019
A group of Kansas lawmakers and lobbyists were asked to leave the White Linen restaurant in Topeka and were banned from returning after co-owner Adam Vandonge said they “completely disrespected everyone” with loud, drunken behavior. Vandonge described a boisterous scene that intensified in response to pleas to the 12-person party, which included House Speaker Ron Ryckman to be quiet. “They showed up and just started drinking and drinking and drinking,” said Vandonge. At one point, a manager told Rep. Blaine Finch that he would not be served any more alcohol. After that, servers heard cursing at the table. One member of the party entered the kitchen and began yelling at the sous chef, asking if he knew who Finch was.
Michigan: Dark Money Used to Evade Donor Disclosure Laws in Michigan
Detroit News – Jonathan Oosting | Published: 3/7/2019
A dark money group that spent more than $2 million to help promote Gretchen Whitmer successful gubernatorial bid in the 2018 exploited a legal loophole to avoid disclosing any donors to the state or federal governments, and it is not alone. Progressive Advocacy Trust is one of at least five local Democratic Party accounts in Michigan that have operated in the shadows since at least 2002, according to an investigation. The groups can accept unlimited corporate or union contributions but have evaded all disclosure requirements. It is not clear if the Michigan Democratic Party could shut down local dark money accounts, but the party also utilizes an administrative account that is not subject to disclosure rules for running issue-ad campaigns.
Nevada: RJ Investigation Finds Violations, No Enforcement of County Lobbying Disclosures
Las Vegas Review-Journal – Michael Scott Davidson | Published: 3/9/2019
On hundreds of occasions last year, lobbyists may have failed to disclose communications within five days of meeting with a Clark County commissioner as required by law. The Las Vegas Review-Journal discovered the meetings by comparing lobbying disclosure forms submitted to the county clerk’s office with commissioners’ work calendars and check-in logs outside their offices. The lack of compliance shows the vulnerability of a county lobbying program that operates without a watchdog. Even an easy-to-monitor rule – whether filed disclosure forms are submitted on time – is not tracked. Penalties for noncompliance, written into law a decade ago, have never been imposed by officials. Presented with the newspaper’s findings, county commissioners pledged to keep better tabs on lobbying efforts.
New Mexico: GOP Lawmakers Blast Campaign Finance Bill
Albuquerque Journal – Colleen Heild | Published: 3/13/2019
Campaign finance reporting legislation on its way to the governor is touted as a way to increase transparency and accountability in New Mexico elections. But some Republican lawmakers are crying foul because the measure was amended just days before final consideration to give top legislative leaders of both parties authority to create, in the words of one lawmaker, “super-caucus PACs,” that would be allowed to accept contributions up to $25,000 from a single donor for a primary election and another $25,000 for the general. Further, there would be no limit to in-kind contributions to a candidate from a legislative caucus committee. The additional fundraising ability, which also applies to political parties, puts legislative leaders in position to help boost political campaigns for chosen candidates and initiatives.
New Mexico: Senate Committee Spikes Lobbying Disclosure Bill
New Mexico Political Report – Andrew Oxford (Santa Fe New Mexican) | Published: 3/13/2019
A New Mexico Senate committee shot down legislation that would have required lobbyists to report which bills they are working on. House Bill 131 also would have barred lobbyists from making any expenditures on legislators while they are in session. The bill had passed the House with broad support, but the Senate Rules Committee voted to table it after little discussion.
New York: Lobbyists Accused of Misconduct Create Quandary at Capitol
Albany Times Union – Rachel Silberstein | Published: 3/11/2019
Former New York Sen. Jeff Klein was hired by Mercury Public Affairs after he lost his seat in the September primary. He remains under investigation by the Joint Committee on Public Ethics in response to an allegation he forcibly kissed a female staff member. Klein has denied the woman’s claim. Several lawmakers said they have serious reservations about meeting with any lobbyist who has faced allegations of sexual harassment, but they stopped short of saying they would cease doing business with those firms. In a Twitter campaign, a group of former legislative aides have taken aim at some of Mercury’s clients, urging them to ask the firm what it is doing to support employees. The women testified at a hearing, describing a culture that too often tolerates and protects harassers while maligning and ostracizing victims.
Tennessee: How Little-Known Meetings in Hard-to-Find Locations Can Make or Break Legislation in Tennessee
The Tennessean – Joel Ebert | Published: 3/12/2019
Legislative pre-meetings in the Tennessee General Assembly are informal gatherings where lawmakers and stakeholders openly discuss legislation. Defenders of pre-meetings, which lawmakers refer to as bill review, say they are beneficial because they provide legislators an opportunity to become more informed on legislation, but critics say pre-meetings are the antithesis of how the Legislature should operate. Although they are official meetings, audio and video livestreaming is absent and no notes are taken to provide members of the public with knowledge of what transpires. While much of what happens inside these often hard-to-find rooms is unknown to the public, what is clear is that pre-meetings can make or break a bill.
Vermont:Lawmakers Seek to Modify Ethics Commission Procedures After Scott Ruling
VTDigger.org – Mark Johnson | Published: 3/14/2019
The Vermont State Ethics Commission mishandled a case involving Gov. Phil Scott, according to key lawmakers who plan to “clarify” one of the commission’s few tools. Chairpersons of the House and Senate committees that created the commission said the ethics panel went beyond its legal authority and improperly injected politics into its advisory opinion that said Scott had violated state ethics law. The commission ruled Scott’s ongoing financial relationship with a construction company he owned that still does business with the state was improper. A draft bill would make clear that advisory opinions be general and not involve a specific person or case. They also said advisory opinions should only be issued by the commission’s executive director and not at the request of an outside individual or advocacy group.
March 14, 2019 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance National: “2020 Dems Fight to Win Big-Money Purity Test” by Maggie Severns for Politico New Mexico: “GOP Lawmakers Blast Campaign Finance Bill” by Colleen Heild for Albuquerque Journal Ethics Connecticut: “Ethics Office: Sen. Alex Bergstein Not Barred from […]
National: “2020 Dems Fight to Win Big-Money Purity Test” by Maggie Severns for Politico
New Mexico: “GOP Lawmakers Blast Campaign Finance Bill” by Colleen Heild for Albuquerque Journal
Connecticut: “Ethics Office: Sen. Alex Bergstein Not Barred from Paying Staffer with Personal Funds” by Neil Vigdor for Hartford Courant
Illinois: “Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Ethics Reform Plan Stalls in City Council Committee” by John Byrne for Chicago Tribune
Iowa: “County Officials Vacationed at Vendor’s Florida Beach Condo” by Ryan Foley for AP News
New York: “New York AG Subpoenas Deutsche Bank for Records Related to 3 Trump Properties, Including Chicago’s Trump Tower” by David Fahrenthold and Jonathan O’Connell (Washington Post) for Chicago Tribune
Tennessee: “How Little-Known Meetings in Hard-to-Find Locations Can Make or Break Legislation in Tennessee” by Joel Ebert for The Tennessean
National: “Paul Manafort Is Sentenced to a Total of 7 1 / 2 Years in Prison for Conspiracy and Fraud, and Charged with Mortgage Fraud in N.Y.” by Spencer Hsu, Rachel Weiner, and Ann Marimow (Washington Post) for MSN
Canada: “SNC-Lavalin Board Chair, a Former Top Bureaucrat, May Have Run Afoul of Federal Lobbying Rules” by Beatrice Paez for Hill Times
Florida: “Miami-Dade Ethics Board Dismisses Lobbying Complaint Against Beckham Group” by Joey Flechas for Miami Herald
March 11, 2019 • Written by Jonathan Spontarelli
Keeping track of changes to federal and state ethics and campaign finance laws is tough. Here are four stories you don’t want to miss from last week about changes happening all across the country!
Keeping track of changes to federal and state ethics and campaign finance laws is tough. Here are four stories you don’t want to miss from last week about changes happening all across the country!
March 8, 2019 • Written by Jim Sedor
Federal: Justice Department Taps Mueller Prosecutor to Enforce Foreign Lobbying Disclosure Reuters – Karen Freifeld and Suzanne Barlyn | Published: 3/6/2019 Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Van Grack was chosen to lead a team at the Justice Department that will make […]
Justice Department Taps Mueller Prosecutor to Enforce Foreign Lobbying Disclosure
Reuters – Karen Freifeld and Suzanne Barlyn | Published: 3/6/2019
Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Van Grack was chosen to lead a team at the Justice Department that will make sure the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA), which requires disclosure of lobbying on behalf of foreign interests, is more aggressively enforced. One focal point may be Russia, which U.S. intelligence agencies say waged a disinformation campaign to sway the 2016 presidential election for Donald Trump. Assistant Attorney General John Demers also warned that law firms should take FARA registration seriously, citing the example of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, which agreed to pay $4.6 million and admitted it should have registered for a report aimed at discrediting a former Ukrainian prime minister.
From the States and Municipalities:
Connecticut: Election Officials: State contractor ban on political donations applies to marijuana producers, but not dispensaries
Hartford Courant – Neil Vigdor | Published: 3/7/2019
The State Elections Enforcement Commission ruled that a prohibition on campaign donations from state contractors extends to marijuana producers – but not dispensaries – because the value of licensing agreements they have with the state exceed $50,000. Medical marijuana has been legal in Connecticut since 2012. In anticipation of the legislative debate over recreational marijuana, the industry asked for guidance from last year about whether political contributions to legislators and statewide office holders comply with Connecticut’s 2005 clean elections law. A ban on state contractor contributions is a hallmark of the program.
District of Columbia: D.C. Council Member Jack Evans’ Use of Government Office for Personal Gain Inappropriate, Chair Says
Washington Post – Steve Thompson and Peter Jamison | Published: 3/4/2019
District of Columbia Council Chairperson Phil Mendelson said council member Jack Evans acted inappropriately when he emailed business proposals to potential employers and offered them his influence and connections as an elected official. Evans faces growing scrutiny after The Washington Post reported he sent solicitations on his government email to law firms that lobby city government, offering his contacts and sway as the council’s longest serving lawmaker and as chair of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. The authority’s board of directors directed its ethics officer to investigate Evans. The Post reported a federal grand jury has also been investigating Evans and issued a subpoena to officials for documents related to legislation that Evans promoted in 2016 that would have benefited a digital sign company.
Kentucky: Kentucky Secretary of State Staff Searched Voting Records for Investigators and Rivals, Records Show
ProPublica – Daniel Desrochers (Lexington Herald Leader) and Jessica Huseman | Published: 3/6/2019
Kentucky officials released records that show employees in the secretary of state’s office used the voter registration system to look up political rivals, state investigators, and a range of political operatives. It is not clear in many instances why Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes’ office was looking up people and their personal information such as political affiliation, and some Social Security numbers but it has led critics to conclude her office abused its access to the system to gain information about her political opponents and those involved in multiple investigations of her conduct while in office. Grimes had maintained her office had done no inappropriate searches.
Louisiana: Entergy Fined $5M, Can Move Forward with New Power Plant
Louisiana Weekly – Michael Issac Stein (The Lens) | Published: 3/4/2019
The New Orleans City Council approved a new Entergy power plant in city limits while imposing a $5 million fine against the company for using paid actors to influence its decision during the approval process. The council concluded Entergy “knew or should have known” that one if its subcontractors was paying people to fill seats and speak in favor of the project at public hearings. Entergy agreeing to the fine was contingent on the council not revoking its prior approval of the plant. Critics of the vote noted most council members have either worked for Entergy or received campaign donations from their PAC. Councilperson Cyndi Nguyen’s non-profit received at least $27,625 from Entergy. Councilperson Jay Banks revealed he once worked for the company as a government relations consultant.
Maryland: Maryland Delegate Says She Won’t Resign after House Censures Her for ‘Racist and Hateful Slur’
MSN – Luke Broadwater and Pamela Wood (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 2/28/2019
The House of Delegates censured Del. Mary Ann Lisanti for her use of a racial slur, which members said, “brought dishonor to the entire General Assembly of Maryland.” After the vote, Lisanti said she would not resign, despite calls for her to do so. She also said she did not believe she had used an offensive term to describe African-Americans, although she acknowledged earlier in the week that she had done so. Lisanti came under fire after it was reported she used the racial slur during an after-hours gathering in January at an Annapolis bar. Lisanti told a fellow lawmaker that when he helped a candidate in Prince George’s County, he was knocking on doors in a “n—– district,” according to the report.
Nevada: Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson Resigns
Las Vegas Review-Journal – Colton Lochhead and Bill Dentzer | Published: 3/5/2019
Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson resigned after admitting to using campaign funds for personal use and said he will plead guilty to federal charges. Sen. Nicole Cannizzaro was elected by Senate Democrats as the new leader of the majority. Cannizzaro becomes the first woman to serve as Senate majority leader in the state’s history. Details of the investigation, including how much money was misappropriated and what exactly Atkinson used the money for, remain unclear. Atkinson’s resignation marks the first time a lawmaker has left mid-session since 2013. But it is far from the first time a state lawmaker has recently found themselves on the wrong side of campaign finance laws.
New Hampshire: GOP Lawmakers in N.H. Wore Pearls While Gun Violence Victims Testified. Activists Were Outraged.
Boston Globe – Reis Thebault (Washington Post) | Published: 3/5/2019
Republican members of the New Hampshire House are drawing scrutiny for wearing pearl necklaces while activists with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America shared their experiences with gun violence at a recent hearing on a bill that would make it easier to take weapons away from potentially dangerous people. Critics who posted the images on social media said the implication was clear: the politicians thought gun-control activists were “clutching their pearls” in overwrought and self-righteous outrage – and, specifically, female outrage. Some pro-gun advocates argued the legislators’ intent was to represent opposition to the bill. Kimberly Morin, president of the Women’s Defense League of New Hampshire, said opponents of gun control measures have been wearing pearls at gun-related hearings since 2016.
New Mexico: Former Public Servants Lobby Ex-Colleagues
Albuquerque Journal – Dan McKay | Published: 2/28/2019
Former Rep. Debbie Rodella Rodella is one of a few former officials who were public servants during the last legislative session and lobbyists this year, including Keith Gardner, the chief of staff under then-Gov. Susana Martinez. Also making the immediate transition are former Reps. Bealquin Gomez and Jim Smith. New Mexico law does not prohibit ex-lawmakers from lobbying once their terms end. Some legislators have tried repeatedly to change that, with proposals to impose a one- or two-year waiting period. Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth said a “cooling-off” period would be appropriate. “It just doesn’t feel right to immediately be in a position where you’re coming back to your colleagues, who you were an equal with, and the next day you’re lobbying them on behalf of a client,” said Wirth.
North Carolina: Why a Judge Ruled That the Entire North Carolina Legislature Is Illegitimate
Governing – Alan Greenblatt | Published: 2/27/2019
Wake County Superior Court Judge G. Bryan Collins struck down two constitutional amendments that had been approved by North Carolina voters in November. One regarded voter ID requirements and the other a cap on state income taxes. The amendments had been placed on the ballot by the Republican-controlled Legislature. Collins ruled the lawmakers had no standing to approve constitutional amendments because they were elected using maps that federal courts, up to the U.S. Supreme Court, found to be unconstitutional racial gerrymanders. “An illegally constituted General Assembly does not represent the people of North Carolina and is therefore not empowered to pass legislation that would amend the state’s constitution,” Collins wrote.
Oregon: Lawmakers Come and Go, but the Lobby Remains a Powerful Constant in Oregon Legislature
Portland Tribune – Claire Withycombe, Aubrey Wieber, and Paris Achen | Published: 3/1/2019
Interest groups in Oregon spent $12 million more on lobbying in 2017 than they did a decade earlier. That spending is only part of the cost of doing business in Salem. Donating to campaigns and other political operations is routine – interest groups sank $25 million into last year’s state elections. Now that the legislative session is underway, the focus is on trying to shape the laws and spending that will affect every Oregonian. The lobbyists return year after year, some decade after decade. In contrast, some legislators last only one term. “In a Legislature that has extremely high turnover, there are different institutional forces that have impact on the outcomes of legislation … but the one constant in Salem is gonna be the lobby,” said state Rep. Dan Rayfield.
Oregon: Oregon Legislature Reaches $1.3M Settlement Over Sexual Harassment
Portland Oregonian – Hillary Borrud | Published: 3/5/2019
Oregon legislative leaders announced they have signed a $1.3 million settlement with state labor regulators and nine women who experienced sexual harassment at the Capitol. The women will receive $1.1 million and the Legislature will pay the Bureau of Labor and Industries $200,000 to cover the agency’s legal costs. As part of the deal, the women agreed not to pursue legal action against the Legislature and other named defendants. For its part, the Legislature agreed to implement a list of reforms to make the Capitol a safer place to work, including adopting a definition of harassment with specific examples and using an independent lawyer to handle any discrimination and harassment complaints until it creates a new Equity Office.
South Carolina: SC Politicians, Lobbyists and More 0we $2.4M in Ethics Fines, But Many Will Never Pay
The State – Lucas Deprile | Published: 3/6/2019
There are 337 candidates, political parties, and lobbyists who owe the South Carolina Ethics Commission a total of $2.4 million in fines, many of which will likely never be collected. More than half of those who owed fines eight years ago still have not paid them, even though many large penalties have been reduced. The law says those who fail to file the appropriate forms must pay $10 per report every day after they are notified that they owe money. But after 10 days, that increases to $100 per missing report per day. The maximum fine is capped at $5,000, but until 2011, there was no ceiling to how much someone would owe.
West Virginia: Poster Linking Rep. Ilhan Omar to 9/11 Sparks Outrage at West Virginia Capitol
Los Angeles Times – Eli Rosenberg (Washington Post) | Published: 3/2/2019
The chairperson of the West Virginia Republican Party said the GOP does not condone an anti-Muslim poster displayed at the Capitol during a Republican event that linked U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar to the September 11 terrorist attacks. The poster featured a picture of planes flying into the World Trade Center with the phrase “never forget, you said” and then under it, a picture of Omar with the words “I am proof you have forgotten.” Del. Michael Angelucci said he heard Sergeant at Arms Anne Lieberman, the chamber’s principal law enforcement official, call all Muslims terrorists. Lieberman disputed that accusation yet submitted a resignation letter. Del. Mike Caputo admitted to kicking open the chamber doors out of anger, an act that reportedly injured a doorkeeper.
March 7, 2019 • Written by Joanna Kamvouris
A Senate bill introduced in Wisconsin aims to lower by half contributions made to statewide officeholders from individuals and candidate committees. Senate Bill 76 would reduce the contribution limit from $20,000 to $10,000 for contributions made to candidates for governor, […]
A Senate bill introduced in Wisconsin aims to lower by half contributions made to statewide officeholders from individuals and candidate committees.
Senate Bill 76 would reduce the contribution limit from $20,000 to $10,000 for contributions made to candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state treasurer, attorney general, state superintendent, or justice.
If passed, the bill would take effect January 1, 2020.