April 16, 2019 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance Nevada: “Nevada Lawmaker Paid Her Sister Thousands for Campaign Work, But We Can’t See the Details” by James DeHaven for Reno Gazette-Journal Elections National: “Analysis: The many reasons to run for president when you probably don’t stand a […]
Nevada: “Nevada Lawmaker Paid Her Sister Thousands for Campaign Work, But We Can’t See the Details” by James DeHaven for Reno Gazette-Journal
National: “Analysis: The many reasons to run for president when you probably don’t stand a chance” by Matt Flegenheimer (New York Times) for MSN
Arkansas: “Arkansas Legislators Pass Half of Measures Floated on Ethics” by Michael Wickline for Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Colorado: “Denver’s Mayor Has Accepted Big Gifts and Campaign Contributions from People Who Do Business with The City – And It’s Perfectly Legal” by Ben Markus for Colorado Public Radio
Pennsylvania: “Engineer Who Bribed Allentown, Reading Mayors Ordered to Educate Others on Pitfalls of Public Corruption” by Peter Hall for Allentown Morning Call
National: “Political Consultant Patten Sentenced to Probation After Steering Ukrainian Money to Trump Inaugural” by Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) for Seattle Times
National: “Opioid Maker Mallinckrodt to Support Lobbying Disclosure” by Laura Weiss for Roll Call
Florida: “Jane Castor Might Be Tampa’s Next Mayor. Her Partner, Ana Cruz, Is a Lobbyist. Does It Matter?” by Charley Frego and Kirby Wilson for Tampa Bay Times
April 15, 2019 • Written by Jonathan Spontarelli
April 15, 2019 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance National: Court Paves Way for FEC to Reveal Anonymous $1.7 Million Super PAC Donor by Maggie Severns for Politico Ethics Canada: What’s a Feminist Government? Canada, and Trudeau, Grapple with the Question Sarah Lyall (New York Times) for […]
National: Court Paves Way for FEC to Reveal Anonymous $1.7 Million Super PAC Donor by Maggie Severns for Politico
Canada: What’s a Feminist Government? Canada, and Trudeau, Grapple with the Question Sarah Lyall (New York Times) for MSN
Arkansas: Indictment: Former Arkansas lawmaker, couple named in corruption scheme by Doug Thompson for Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Washington D.C.: Jack Evans Says He’ll Stop Outside Work, Using Constituent Funds for Sports Tickets Fenit Nirappil by for Washington Post
National: Ex-Obama Official Indicted Over Work with Manafort by Rosalind Helderman and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) for San Jose Mercury News
Colorado: Denver’s Big 3 Lobbyists Have Deep Relationships with City Government and Mayor Michael Hancock by Ben Markus for Colorado Public Radio
Florida: Ethics Opinion Restricts Jacksonville City Council Members’ Lobbying for Two Years by David Bauerlein for Florida Times Union
Mississippi: Public Universities Spend Millions Wining, Dining, Lobbying Mississippi Lawmakers Luke Ramseth and Geoff Pender for Jackson Clarion-Ledger
April 12, 2019 • Written by Carlo Aguja
The Idaho Legislature adjourned sine die April 11. During the 95-day legislative session, lawmakers passed bills amending state lobbying and campaign finance laws and passed a Medicaid budget bill to fund an expansion of the program. The session was longer […]
The Idaho Legislature adjourned sine die April 11.
During the 95-day legislative session, lawmakers passed bills amending state lobbying and campaign finance laws and passed a Medicaid budget bill to fund an expansion of the program.
The session was longer than expected as lawmakers failed to pass a bill to extend administrative rules set to expire July 1.
The governor may reinstate temporary administrative rules, or a special session may be called to resolve the issue at a later date.
The statutory requirement to file monthly reports when the Legislature is in session will end with the report due May 15.
April 12, 2019 • Written by Jim Sedor
National: You Elected Them to Write New Laws. They’re Letting Corporations Do It Instead. USA Today – Rob O’Dell (Arizona Republic) and Mark Penzenstadler | Published: 4/4/2019 A two-year investigation reveals for the first time the extent to which special […]
You Elected Them to Write New Laws. They’re Letting Corporations Do It Instead.
USA Today – Rob O’Dell (Arizona Republic) and Mark Penzenstadler | Published: 4/4/2019
A two-year investigation reveals for the first time the extent to which special interests have infiltrated state Legislatures using model legislation. USA Today and The Arizona Republic found at least 10,000 bills almost entirely copied from model legislation were introduced nationwide in the past eight years, and more than 2,100 of those bills were signed into law. In all, these copycat bills amount to?the nation’s largest, unreported special-interest campaign, driving agendas in every statehouse and touching nearly every area of public policy. For lawmakers, copying model legislation is an easy way to get fully formed bills to put their names on, while building relationships with lobbyists and other potential campaign donors.
Courts Have No Say When FEC Wants to Ignore Alleged Wrongdoing
Bloomberg Government – Kenneth Doyle | Published: 4/5/2019
A decision by two federal judges is making it impossible to challenge the way the FEC enforces campaign laws. When the agency deadlocks along party lines, that is now the end of the line, no court can second-guess letting an accused wrongdoer off the hook. Judicial review was eliminated last June by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Critics of that ruling have waited for the better part of year to find out if they would be allowed to argue before the full court on reversing that precedent. Many FEC enforcement complaints have been dismissed on party-line votes, with Democrats voting to pursue action and Republicans opposed.
Democrats Are Cozying Up to Corporate Lobbyists Despite Purity Pledges
Politico – Theodoric Meyer | Published: 4/8/2019
Some Democratic lawmakers who have promised to steer clear of campaign donations from corporate PACs are allowing the same corporations’ lobbyists to write them personal checks, and in some cases even host fundraisers for them. Democrats on K Street are frustrated by what they view as arbitrary restrictions on which kinds of money lawmakers will take and which kinds are forbidden, according to interviews. Democrats’ rush to reject corporate PAC money falls heaviest on in-house Democratic lobbyists for big corporations. Some of those lobbyists have found it harder to mingle with House Democrats when they cannot attend fundraisers by writing a corporate PAC check to get in the door.
Scant Staffing Means Few Monitoring Whether Lobbyists Obey Law
Bloomberg Government – Megan Wilson | Published: 4/9/2019
In 2016, enforcement of the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) was handled by six part-time Justice Department lawyers and one full-time paralegal. Two years later, that work was being done by a much smaller staff: one part-time lawyer, one full-time paralegal, and one part-time paralegal. There has not been an enforcement action for an LDA violation in four years, and since the law was enacted in 1995, there have been a total of nine civil enforcement actions. For firms that want to stay on the right side of the law, “the lack of lawyers in the office has complicated matters when there are tricky legal issues to be resolved,” said Caleb Burns, a partner at Wiley Rein.
From the States and Municipalities:
Alabama: Ward: Bill allowing lobbyist gifts to lobbyists ‘dead’ in his committee
Montgomery Advertiser – Brian Lyman | Published: 4/10/2019
The Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee delayed a vote on a proposed bill that critics say would represent a major step back from ethics laws passed in 2010. The legislation’s sponsor, Sen. Greg Albritton, argued Senate Bill 230 would provide clarity by providing better definitions, explicit lines of enforcement and punishments for transgressions, and disclosures of gifts from lobbyists to officials. But the bill would lift any limits on what lobbyists could give to officials, provided they do not do so with corrupt intent. It also curtails the Alabama Ethics Commission’s ability to refer complaints to the attorney general’s office. “This bill is dead in my committee as far as I am concerned,” Judiciary Committee Chairperson Cam Ward wrote in a text.
California: To Block California Soda Taxes, Companies Paid for ‘Black Panther’ Tickets, Fancy Dinners
Los Angeles Times – Samantha Young (California Healthline) | Published: 4/7/2019
Dinners at an expensive restaurant in Maui, with ocean views. Tickets to professional sports games. A free screening of “Black Panther” at a Sacramento IMAX theater. And a $250,000 donation to a group that funds the governor’s travel. That is a sampling of the $11.8 million that soft drink companies and their lobbyists spent at the state and local levels in the past two years in California to block proposals such as taxing sugary beverages and imposing health warnings on their drinks, an analysis found. The beverage industry, like other interest groups, spends money to influence lawmakers in several ways. It makes financial contributions to their campaigns and lobbies them and their staffs, sometimes plying them with meals, events, and travel. It also donates to charities in lawmakers’ names.
Georgia: Georgia Ethics Chief to Issue Subpoenas in Investigation of Abrams Gubernatorial Campaign
The Hill – Zach Budryk | Published: 4/11/2019
David Emadi, the new executive secretary of the Georgia Government Transparency & Campaign Finance Commission, will subpoena bank records from 2018 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams’ campaign. Emadi said he will also soon make a decision on whether to charge campaigns of Atlanta mayoral candidates for campaign finance fraud. Emadi replaced Stefan Ritter, who was accused of watching pornography at work and telling staff not to pursue potential campaign finance violations by candidates for city and statewide office. Ritter resigned in February.
Michigan: Mayor Mike Duggan Set Her Up to Succeed. That Raises Questions.
Detroit Free Press – Joe Guillen and Kat Stafford | Published: 4/4/2019
A charitable program run by a woman with close ties to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan received $358,000 in city grants and benefited from a fundraising campaign that a top city official spearheaded at the mayor’s direction. An email request shows Duggan ordered the city’s chief development officer to raise money for Make Your Date, which is a nonprofit medical organization where Dr. Sonia Hassan serves as president and director. Hassan was seen last year arriving after hours at the same suburban residence as Duggan in a surveillance video taken by a private investigator. The city’s financial support, attempted fundraising campaign, and Duggan’s repeated promotion of Make Your Date raises ethics questions about whether the mayor used city resources to benefit Hassan’s program.
Mississippi: Other States Ban Gifts to Lawmakers. Why Doesn’t Mississippi?
Jackson Clarion-Ledger – Luke Ramseth and Geoff Pender | Published: 4/9/2019
There are no restrictions on gifts from lobbyists to Mississippi lawmakers. A newspaper’s investigation found the state’s public universities alone spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on gifts for public officials from 2015 to 2018, including more than $200,000 in free sports tickets. In the 1990s, the Legislature passed a bill that required lobbyists and their clients to regularly report expenditures to the secretary of state. The reporting requirements caused lobbyists to “reign in” their spending some, said former legislator John Reeves, but it remains hard to tell if reporting now is honest and accurate. It not clear whether anyone in state government keeps a close eye on the lobbyist reports. Some contain errors, and most provide only vague details about what gifts were purchased.
Missouri: Appeals Court Upholds Joyce Ruling – Corporations Can Create PACs, but Not Donate Directly to Them
Jefferson City News Tribune – Bob Watson | Published: 4/10/2019
Missouri corporations may not make direct contributions to their own PACs, a three-judge panel of the state’s Western District appeals court ruled. The decision upheld a similar ruling by Cole County Presiding Circuit Court Judge Pat Joyce in the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s lawsuit against the state Ethics Commission. That lawsuit challenged the commission’s interpretation of voters’ intent, after more than two-thirds of the people who voted in November 2016 added the “Missouri Campaign Contribution Reform Initiative” to the state constitution.
New Hampshire: In Votes at N.H. State House, Lawmakers’ Personal and Public Interests Often Overlap
New Hampshire Public Radio – Casey McDermott | Published: 4/9/2019
New Hampshire lawmakers are paid $100 a year, so it is no surprise that many of them rely on other sources of income to get by. As a result, state lawmakers end up dealing with all kinds of proposals that can directly impact their family finances, the taxes they pay, the companies where they work, or the boards on which they serve. In policing these potential conflicts of interest, New Hampshire’s ethics rules tend to favor disclosure over recusal – which means that, with few exemptions, lawmakers are allowed to vote on or even sponsor legislation that has a clear benefit to their personal interests.
New York: To Get Trump’s Tax Returns, N.Y. Democrats Try a New Strategy
MSN – Jesse McKinley (New York Times) | Published: 4/8/2019
New York lawmakers introduced legislation that would make President Trump’s state income tax returns public, the latest step in a battle over details Trump has refused to release. Backers see the bill as an alternative way to Trump’s tax records, even if the president’s allies manage to stonewall efforts in the U.S. House to get his federal returns. A tax return from New York, the president’s home state and the headquarters of his business empire, could likely contain much of the same financial information as a federal return. Under the bill, the commissioner of the New York Department of Taxation and Finance would be permitted to release any state tax return requested by leaders of three congressional committees for any “specific and legitimate legislative purpose.”
Rhode Island: Rhode Island Reaches Lobbying Disclosure Agreement with Mastercard
Pensions and Investments – Hazel Bradford | Published: 4/4/2019
Mastercard Inc. reached a shareholder agreement with Rhode Island Treasurer Seth Magaziner to increase its disclosure of corporate lobbying expenses. Inadequate lobbying disclosure by publicly traded companies presents reputational risks, Magaziner said, particularly in recent cases where large companies have upset customers, investors, and other stakeholders by supporting controversial causes. Mastercard will publish an annual list of its lobbying priorities and amounts spent on lobbying and an annual list of U.S.-based trade associations receiving $25,000. It will also disclose the percentage of those payments used for lobbying and ask the trade associations for that information.
Washington: A Washington State Senator Praised the Cambodian Government Last Year. Then It Gave Him a $500,000 Lobbying Contract.
Seattle Times – Jim Brunner and Joseph O’Sullivan | Published: 4/5/2019
A company created by Washington Sen. Doug Ericksen landed a $500,000 lobbying contract from the Cambodian government he praised last year during a controversial visit as an election observer. Ericksen registered as a foreign agent for Cambodia in a recent filing with the U.S. Justice Department, along with former state Rep. Jay Rodne. Ericksen said his arrangement is “100 percent legal,” noting state legislators serve part time and are expected to have outside jobs. He also disputed characterizations of the deal as a lobbying contract, saying he is acting as a consultant. Neither Ericksen nor Rodne disclosed their ownership of PacRim Bridges in 2018 statements filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission. Ericksen said they did not have to list the business because he was not yet making money from it.
Wyoming: Wyoming’s Campaign Finance Reforms Leave Several Holes for Dark Money Influence
Casper Star Tribune – Nick Reynolds | Published: 4/5/2019
Campaign finance experts say the reforms passed by the Wyoming Legislature this year leave a number of gaps that could potentially be exploited by so-called dark money groups in the 2020 elections. While sponsors acknowledged Senate File 18 was not a perfect bill, it does make a number of changes to a system that, in the 2018 cycle, was exploited by multiple PACs of often mysterious origins. Some of these fixes include improving the reporting of late political activity, requiring PACs formed outside of Wyoming to disclose their activity, and defining “electioneering communications.”
April 11, 2019 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance California: Amid FBI Probe of LA City Hall, Council Committee Looks at Developer Donation Ban by Craig Clough for Los Angeles Daily News Missouri: Appeals Court Upholds Joyce Ruling – Corporations Can Create PACs, but Not Donate Directly to Them […]
California: Amid FBI Probe of LA City Hall, Council Committee Looks at Developer Donation Ban by Craig Clough for Los Angeles Daily News
Missouri: Appeals Court Upholds Joyce Ruling – Corporations Can Create PACs, but Not Donate Directly to Them by Bob Watson for Jefferson City News Tribune
New Mexico: New Mexico Legislators Took in $16,000 Before and During Session Due to Loophole by Andrew Oxford for Santa Fe New Mexican
Kentucky: A Key Player in Deciding the Value of Matt Bevin’s Home Was Appointed by … Bevin by Tom Loftus for Louisville Courier-Journal
New Hampshire: In Votes at N.H. State House, Lawmakers’ Personal and Public Interests Often Overlap by Casey McDermott for New Hampshire Public Radio
National: Scant Staffing Means Few Monitoring Whether Lobbyists Obey Law by Megan Wilson for Bloomberg Government
Alabama: Ward: Bill allowing lobbyist gifts to lobbyists ‘dead’ in his committee by Brian Lyman for Montgomery Advertiser
Colorado: House Gives Nod to Lobbyist Disclosure Bill by Charles Ashby for Grand Junction Daily Sentinel
Mississippi: Other States Ban Gifts to Lawmakers. Why Doesn’t Mississippi? By Luke Ramseth and Geoff Pender for Jackson Clarion-Ledger
Tennessee: Nashville Government Lobbyists Also Support Pro-Voucher Group, Councilman Calls It ‘Ridiculous’ by Adam Tamburin for The Tennessean
April 10, 2019 • Written by Mario Dalessandro
Gov. Matt Bevin signed House Bill 81 on April 9. The bill expands and updates the definitions of officer and public servant. House Bill 81 also defines salaried for the purposes of gift restrictions. The bill becomes effective June 28. […]
Gov. Matt Bevin signed House Bill 81 on April 9.
The bill expands and updates the definitions of officer and public servant. House Bill 81 also defines salaried for the purposes of gift restrictions. The bill becomes effective June 28.
Gov. Bevin also vetoed House Bill 358 aimed at providing pension relief for Kentucky’s quasi-governmental entities.
He announced that an extraordinary session will be called prior to July 1.
April 9, 2019 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance Wyoming: “Wyoming’s Campaign Finance Reforms Leave Several Holes for Dark Money Influence” by Nick Reynolds for Casper Star Tribune Ethics New York: “No Jail Time for Ex-Cuomo Confidant Todd Howe in Corruption Case” by Robert Gavin for Albany […]
Wyoming: “Wyoming’s Campaign Finance Reforms Leave Several Holes for Dark Money Influence” by Nick Reynolds for Casper Star Tribune
New York: “No Jail Time for Ex-Cuomo Confidant Todd Howe in Corruption Case” by Robert Gavin for Albany Times Union
National: “Thanks to Mueller, Foreign Agents Come Under Greater Scrutiny” by Kate Ackley for Roll Call
Alabama: “Ethics Bill Would Remove Limits on Lobbyist Gifts to Officials” by Brian Lyman for Montgomery Advertiser
California: “To Block California Soda Taxes, Companies Paid for ‘Black Panther’ Tickets, Fancy Dinners” by Samantha Young (California Healthline) for Los Angeles Times
Florida: “How the FBI Got a Flashy Lobbyist to Wear a Wire to Bring Down a Mayor” by Susannah Bryan for South Florida Sun Sentinel
North Carolina: “Request for More ‘Flexible’ Regulations Followed Lindberg Donations” by Travis Fain for WRAL
Washington: “A Washington State Senator Praised the Cambodian Government Last Year. Then It Gave Him a $500,000 Lobbying Contract.” by Jim Brunner and Joseph O’Sullivan for Seattle Times
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
April 5, 2019 • Written by Adrienne Borgstahl, Esq.
The Alabama House has introduced a bill to revive an expired exemption to lobbyist registration. House Bill 289, similar to last year’s House Bill 317, will exempt economic development professionals from registering as a lobbyist. Under the new bill, the […]
The Alabama House has introduced a bill to revive an expired exemption to lobbyist registration.
House Bill 289, similar to last year’s House Bill 317, will exempt economic development professionals from registering as a lobbyist.
Under the new bill, the economic development professional lobbyist registration exemption does not apply if a person seeks incentives or funds through legislative action outside of incentives already available.
If passed, the law will not contain an expiration date like last year’s bill and will be effective immediately.
April 5, 2019 • Written by Carlo Aguja
On April 3, Gov. Brad Little signed a bill amending state lobbying laws. Effective July 1, Senate Bill 1153 removes the lobbyist’s employer signature requirement from reports filed by lobbyists. A designated contact is required upon registration for electronic notification. […]
On April 3, Gov. Brad Little signed a bill amending state lobbying laws.
Effective July 1, Senate Bill 1153 removes the lobbyist’s employer signature requirement from reports filed by lobbyists.
A designated contact is required upon registration for electronic notification.
Senate Bill 1153 also provides a definition for lobbyist’s client.
The client is the person on whose behalf the lobbyist is acting, directly or indirectly, as a contractor.
Additionally, the client is further defined as someone who compensates the lobbyist or lobbyist’s employer for acting as a lobbyist.
April 5, 2019 • Written by Jonathan Spontarelli
In the 2019 legislative session, legislators passed House Bill 64 and Senate Bill 147 amending the state’s lobbying provisions. Both bills were signed by Gov. Gary Herbert this month. House Bill 64 creates disclosure requirements for lobbying local government and […]
In the 2019 legislative session, legislators passed House Bill 64 and Senate Bill 147 amending the state’s lobbying provisions. Both bills were signed by Gov. Gary Herbert this month.
House Bill 64 creates disclosure requirements for lobbying local government and board of education members.
The new requirements include quarterly reporting and prohibit expenditures by lobbyists and principals over $10. Not included in the $10 limit are expenditures for food, beverage, travel, lodging, or admission to or attendance at a tour or meeting.
Senate Bill 147 follows a national trend in modifying requirements for lobbyist ethics and harassment training and adds a due date for completion as well as penalties for non-completion.
Both bills go into effect on May 13, 2019, 60 days after the adjournment sine die of the legislature.
April 5, 2019 • Written by Jim Sedor
National: What Is ALEC? ‘The Most Effective Organization’ for Conservatives, Says Newt Gingrich USA Today – Yvonne Wingett Sanchez and Rob O’Dell | Published: 4/4/2019 The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) became the nation’s best-known so-called model bill factory over […]
What Is ALEC? ‘The Most Effective Organization’ for Conservatives, Says Newt Gingrich
USA Today – Yvonne Wingett Sanchez and Rob O’Dell | Published: 4/4/2019
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) became the nation’s best-known so-called model bill factory over its four decades by providing more than fill-in-the-blank legislation. The industry-sponsored group has weathered controversy and flourished because it also offers conservative Republican elected officials a social network, access to campaign donors, and a blueprint for how to accelerate their political careers. The networking takes place at ALEC’s annual meetings, where the group fetes and entertains lawmakers and their families. Relationships are forged over drinks and dinners, where lawmakers sit alongside conservative luminaries and corporate chiefs. By the end of each ALEC conference, attendees leave motivated to evangelize for conservative policies and equipped with ready-made legislation.
GAO: One-third of lobbying disclosures failed to include political contributions
The Hill – Alex Gangitano | Published: 3/29/2019
One-third of lobbyists’ disclosures do not include political contributions and one-fifth do not include previous jobs in government, a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report finds. The GAO audited compliance with the Lobbying Disclosure Act, which requires a person to register as a lobbyist if lobbying activities constitute at least 20 percent of their time working for a client. The watchdog examined lobbying disclosure (LD-2) reports and political contribution (LD-203) reports filed during the third and fourth quarter of 2017 and the first and second quarter of 2018. It also conducted interviews with lobbyists for the study.
Some on Mueller’s Team Say Report Was More Damaging Than Barr Revealed
MSN – Nicholas Fandos, Michael Schmidt, and Mark Mazzetti (New York Times) | Published: 4/3/2019
Some members of special counsel Robert Mueller’s team have reportedly complained that the evidence they uncovered of obstruction of justice during their investigation was stronger than what U.S. Attorney General William Barr suggested. In his four-page letter to Congress, Barr wrote that Mueller did not uncover evidence to conclude the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow to influence the 2016 election. Barr added that Mueller did not make a definitive conclusion on whether Trump obstructed justice. But Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein decided Mueller did not provide sufficient evidence of obstruction to pursue it. The summary noted Mueller did not exonerate the president on the obstruction matter. Some members of Mueller’s team felt Barr should have included more information from their own summaries of the probe.
From the States and Municipalities:
California: Judge Bars Former Ethics Panel Member from Running for L.A. City Council
Los Angeles Times – Emily Alpert Reyes | Published: 3/28/2019
A judge ruled that Former Los Angeles Ethics Commission member Serena Oberstein is barred from running for a city council seat that is up for grabs this summer. The legal battle revolved around a section of the City Charter that restricts ethics commissioners from running for any city office “concerning which the commission has made a decision during the term of the commissioner” – a ban that applies for two years after the end of their terms. In his ruling, Superior Court Judge James Chalfant wrote that voting to impose fines on two people who ran unsuccessfully in the past to represent Council District 12 made Oberstein ineligible to run for that seat, since “these decisions concern the very office for which Oberstein seeks election.”
Illinois: Lori Lightfoot Elected Chicago Mayor, Making Her the First African-American Woman to Lead the City
Chicago Tribune – Bill Ruthhart | Published: 4/2/2019
Former federal prosecutor Lori Lightfoot won a resounding victory to become both the first African-American woman and openly gay person elected mayor of Chicago. After waging a campaign focused on upending the vaunted Chicago political machine, Lightfoot dismantled one of its major cogs by dispatching Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, whose candidacy had been hobbled in part by an anti-incumbent mood among voters and an ongoing federal corruption investigation at City Hall. Both self-styled progressives, Preckwinkle and Lightfoot did not disagree much on the issues. As a result, the race largely boiled down to change versus experience.
Indiana: Casino Boss Treated Holcomb to Private Flights with Lucrative Gambling Deal on the Line
Indianapolis Star – Kaitlin Lange and Tony Cook | Published: 3/28/2019
An Indiana casino magnate last year treated Gov. Eric Holcomb to two private-jet flights and directed six-figure sums to Holcomb’s biggest 2016 campaign donor, all while pushing for changes to the state’s gaming laws that would benefit his new business. Rod Ratcliff, chief Executive Officer of Spectacle Entertainment, flew Holcomb to meetings in Colorado and Arizona that were hosted by the source of that campaign money, the Republican Governors Association. The flights gave Ratcliff and his business partners hours of exclusive access to the governor, who will have final say over their plans to move two Gary casinos to more lucrative locations. One of the flights was just a day before Ratcliff announced plans to acquire those two casinos.
Kentucky: Lobbyists Can’t Donate to Candidates but Give Big to Parties – Especially the GOP
Louisville Courier Journal – Tom Loftus | Published: 4/3/2019
State law forbids a lobbyist from donating to the campaigns of candidates for the Kentucky General Assembly. But lobbyists can give to the state political parties, which use much of that money to support their candidates for the Legislature. An examination of the state Republican Party’s finance reports shows ta relatively small group of lobbyists provide a significant and steady cash flow, even for an organization with a growing number of big donors, as it has gained total control of the two chambers of the Legislature and the governor’s office.
Maryland: Baltimore Mayor Pugh to Take Leave of Absence in Midst of ‘Healthy Holly’ Book Controversy
MSN – Ian Duncan and Yvonne Wenger (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 4/1/2019
Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh announced she is taking an indefinite leave of absence for health reasons, just as a political scandal intensifies over what critics call a “self-dealing” book-sales arrangement that threatens her political career. Kaiser Permanente disclosed it paid $114,000 for about 20,000 copies of Pugh’s self-published paperbacks for children featuring a young girl named Healthy Holly aimed at promoting exercise and good nutrition. In 2017, the city’s spending board, which Pugh controls, awarded a $48 million contract to Kaiser to provide health benefits to city employees. Since 2011, Pugh has received $500,000 selling her illustrated books to the University of Maryland Medical System while she served on its board.
Missouri: Federal Investigation Plunges St. Louis County into Chaos
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Jacob Barker and Jeremy Kohler | Published: 3/30/2019
The sudden delivery of wide-ranging subpoenas to St. Louis County, signaling an investigation by the U.S. attorney into the activities of County Executive Steve Stenger’s administration, has plunged the county, and the future of the region’s government, into chaos. Stenger’s ability to lead the county government, already limited by his toxic relationship with county lawmakers, now lies wounded. County employees openly speculate about who might be under investigation and for what conduct. Some county employees are concerned for their jobs, and all attention will shift to producing records to satisfy the subpoena.
New Jersey: Top Guns. These Are the Highest-Paid Lobbyists in N.J.
Newark Star Ledger – Ted Sherman (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 4/2/2019
Spending on lobbying in New Jersey hit $89.4 million last year, a decline after a record year for spending in 2017. But the number of registered lobbyists in the state, and how much they made, increased over the past year. Overall, 35 lobbyists made $200,000 or more, but many likely earned even more than what was reported. Lobbyists in New Jersey are not required to account for all their income. They do not report fees from lobbying local officials, and they do not have to list fees if their firm provides public relations advice to a client. Lobbyist Dale Florio described his role as “getting you in the door so you can make your case.” He said corporations and unions have thousands of members to make their voices heard to state officials. But for others, Florio said lobbying offers another avenue to make points to elected officials.
New Mexico: Governor Signs Bill for Ethics Commission
Santa Fe New Mexican – Andrew Oxford | Published: 3/28/2019
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed into law a bill setting detailed guidelines for a new state ethics commission. Voters authorized an ethics commission by statewide ballot last year in the wake of a string of high-profile public corruption scandals. That vote still left lawmakers to determine the commission’s investigative powers and the extent of public access to documents and proceedings. Work in assembling the commission begins July 1, with a six-month startup period. The commission will have oversight of state officials and employees as well as candidates for state offices, lobbyists, and state contractors. New Mexico had been one of only six states without an independent ethics commission.
New York: In State Budget, More on Voting, Little on Ethics, and Half-Baked Campaign Finance Reform
Gotham Gazette – Samar Khurshid | Published: 4/2/2019
Government reform advocates are disappointed by what they see as half-measures on campaign finance reform and the exclusion of broader improvements to state procurement processes and ethics reforms in the New York state budget. The budget deal included additional measures and funding for voting, election, and campaign finance reforms approved in previous months. The headline, though, was the compromise to mandate a binding commission that is meant to create a public financing program for state elections and must issue a report by December 1. One proposal that was approved prohibits lobbyists, PACs, labor unions, and an individual registered as an independent expenditure committee from giving loans to candidates and political committees.
North Carolina: NC GOP Chairman, Major Political Donor Indicted in Alleged Bribery Scheme
WRAL – Travis Fain | Published: 4/2/2019
A federal grand jury indicted North Carolina Republican Party Chairperson Robin Hayes, along with major Republican campaign donor Greg Lindberg and two of his associates, on conspiracy and bribery charges for their attempts to influence state Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey. The alleged scheme would have traded more than $1 million in political contributions in exchange for regulatory help at the Insurance Department. The indictment mentions another person was in contact with Lindberg and Causey – “Public Official A.” Lindberg made a $150,000 contribution in February 2018 to a committee supporting the official at the same time Lindberg allegedly asked the politician to help sway Causey. A joint fundraising committee for U.S. Rep. Mark Walker logged a $150,000 donation from Lindberg on February 17, 2018.
Pennsylvania: Vestige of the Past, State House’s ‘Lobbyist Room’ Vanishes
AP News – Marc Levy | Published: 3/30/2019
The “lobbyist room” at the Pennsylvania House is now off limits to lobbyists. For decades, lobbyists in the room could watch floor proceedings on television, print out copies of legislation, and send messages to lawmakers in the chamber through a House page who was effectively assigned full-time to this task during floor sessions. The House’s chief administrative official said he decided the room is not appropriate and shut it down. The move comes after Gov. Tom Wolf challenged lawmakers last year to adopt the kind of gift ban that he imposed on the executive branch. Still, it seems to signal no broader effort to hold lobbyists at arm’s length, and the perk was not dramatically different than lobbyists’ accommodations in some other Capitols.
Virginia: ‘It Just Went Poof’: The strange aftermath of Virginia’s cascade of political scandals
MSN – Campbell Robertson (New York Times) | Published: 4/1/2019
In the space of a week in February, the public was stunned by revelations about each of the three highest statewide elected officials in North Carolina: the racist photograph in Gov. Ralph Northam’s medical school yearbook; accusations of sexual assault against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax; and Attorney General Mark Herring’s appearance in blackface at a party in college. Protesters and news crews swarmed the statehouse. Calls for resignations came from fellow Virginia Democrats, Republicans, and even 2020 presidential candidates. And then? “It just went poof – it’s like it never happened,” said Richmond resident Natalie Draper. Virginians have various theories as to how this surreal normalcy set in.
April 4, 2019 • Written by George Ticoras, Esq.
A new lobbying law for the province of Prince Edward Island came into effect on April 1. Bill No. 24, the Lobbyist Registration Act, was passed in December of 2017 during the Third Session of the 65th General Assembly of […]
A new lobbying law for the province of Prince Edward Island came into effect on April 1. Bill No. 24, the Lobbyist Registration Act, was passed in December of 2017 during the Third Session of the 65th General Assembly of the Prince Edward Island Legislative Assembly.
Consultant lobbyists, in-house lobbyists, and employers of in-house lobbyists are now required to register with the Registrar when communicating with a public office holder, directly or through grassroots communications, in an attempt to influence them on a variety of issues.
Additionally, consultant lobbyists are required to register when communicating with a public-office holder to influence the awarding of any contract by or on behalf of the Crown or arrange a meeting between a public-office holder and any other person.
Registrants are required to file returns with this Registrar every six months detailing any relevant subject matters lobbied, including legislative and regulatory proposals, the techniques of communication the lobbyist has used or expects to use to lobby, the employer or client for which the registrant is lobbying, and the identification of entities or persons paying more than $750 per fiscal year to the registrant to lobby.
Lobbying on a contingency fee basis is prohibited for consultant lobbyists and former public office holders are prohibited from lobbying for a period of six months after leaving office. Penalties for violations of the Act include fines up to $25,000.