April 27, 2020 •

Monday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance Oregon: “Oregon Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Campaign Contribution Limits” by Jeff Mapes for Oregon Public Broadcasting Ethics National: “Spotify and Text-a-Thons: How the census is reaching out during coronavirus” by Maya King and Danielle Muoio for […]

Campaign Finance

Oregon: “Oregon Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Campaign Contribution Limits” by Jeff Mapes for Oregon Public Broadcasting

Ethics

National: “Spotify and Text-a-Thons: How the census is reaching out during coronavirus” by Maya King and Danielle Muoio for Poilitico

National: “Pollo Tropical, Which Employs Florida Congresswoman’s Husband, Gets Small Biz Loan” by Alex Daugherty for Miami Herald

National: “Democrats Press General Services Administration Over Trump Hotel Payments” by Jonathan O’Connell, David Fahrenthold, and Joshua Partlow (Washington Post) for Greenwich Time

National: “Biden Sexual Assault Allegation Roils #MeToo Movement” by Molly Otterbein and Marc Caputo for Politico

South Carolina: “SC Officials Troubled by Senator’s Financial Ties to Richland County Church’s Nonprofit” by Andrew Kaplan for The State

Lobbying

Florida: “Federal Grand Jury Casts Wide Net for JEA Records, Communications” by Mike Mendenhall for Jacksonville Daily Record

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April 24, 2020 •

Hawaii Ethics Commission Further Extends Deadline for Lobbyist Reports

Hawaii Capitol Building

On April 24, the Hawaii State Ethics Commission further extended the deadline for lobbyist and employer activity reports to June 1 in response to COVID-19. Originally, reports for the January 1 to February 29 period were due on March 31. […]

On April 24, the Hawaii State Ethics Commission further extended the deadline for lobbyist and employer activity reports to June 1 in response to COVID-19.

Originally, reports for the January 1 to February 29 period were due on March 31.

The stay-at-home orders prompted the commission to extend the deadline to April 30.

Now the deadline has been further extended to June 1.

This does not affect lobbyist and employer activity reports due June 1 for the reporting period of March 1 to April 30.

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April 24, 2020 •

News You Can Use Digest – April 24, 2020

News You Can Use

National/Federal A Watchdog Out of Trump’s Grasp Unleashes Wave of Coronavirus Audits Politico – Kyle Cheney | Published: 4/20/2020 Lawmakers handed President Trump $2 trillion in coronavirus relief and then left town without activating any of the powerful new oversight tools […]

National/Federal

A Watchdog Out of Trump’s Grasp Unleashes Wave of Coronavirus Audits
Politico – Kyle Cheney | Published: 4/20/2020

Lawmakers handed President Trump $2 trillion in coronavirus relief and then left town without activating any of the powerful new oversight tools meant to hold his administration accountable. But with little fanfare, Congress’ independent, in-house watchdog is preparing audits that will become the first wide-ranging check on Trump’s handling of the national rescue effort. Even as Trump has gone to war against internal watchdogs in his administration, the Government Accountability Office remains largely out of the president’s grasp because of its home in the legislative branch.

‘All of It Is Happening All at Once’: When Congress works from home
New York Times – Nicholas Fandos and Sheryl Gay Stolberg | Published: 4/18/2020

With the Capitol shuttered until at least early May and the House now considering instituting remote voting to facilitate a more prolonged absence from Washington, D.C, members of Congress are sequestered at home like the rest of America, forced to reimagine how to do their jobs virtually. It is a singular challenge for lawmakers, whose tasks typically revolve around human contact with a rotating cast of constituents, staff, lobbyists, and fellow lawmakers. They have come up with creative (some more than others) solutions.

Biden Campaign’s Selection of Preferred Super PAC Stokes Strife in Democratic Party
Washington Post – Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Michael Scherer, and Matt Viser | Published: 4/16/2020

Joe Biden’s campaign signaled to donors that Priorities USA would be its main big-money partner for the general election, a move that has alarmed some of Biden’s ardent backers, who fear the campaign has given outsize influence to a super PAC that many donors associate with the party’s loss in 2016. At stake are hundreds of millions of dollars in independent spending for Biden by super PACs and politically active nonprofits that can raise and spend unlimited sums to try to influence elections. Democrats are scrambling to build an operation to compete with President Trump, who has been fundraising for his reelection since 2017. But as they seek to put up a unified front, Democrats have been dogged by internal battles over how to avoid the mistakes of 2016.

Biden Makes End Run Around Trump as the President Dominates the National Stage
MSN – Annie Linsky (Washington Post) | Published: 4/22/2020

Homebound at his estate in Wilmington, Delaware, Joe Biden’s quarantined campaign is adjusting to a new reality in which the prime-time television slots that would carry his rallies and speeches under normal conditions are now largely dedicated to subjects other than the 2020 presidential campaign. Making matters worse for Biden, President Trump dominates each evening with his coronavirus task force briefings, which mostly are carried live by cable and can have the feel of a daily campaign rally. That has left Biden with little choice but to spread his message around – bracketing the president by offering himself to local newscasts in battleground states that run his interviews. Biden’s appearances aim at groups of voters that he must attract to win in November, including suburbanites, younger voters, and nonwhite voters.

City Leaders to Trump: Help us fight the coronavirus by paying your bill
Center for Public Integrity – Dave Leventhal | Published: 4/16/2020

Fourteen municipal governments want President Trump’s campaign committee to clear a combined $1.82 million worth of public safety-related debt connected to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign rallies. Cities are girding for a coronavirus-induced financial disaster, with a new study indicating more than 2,100 U.S. cities are anticipating significant budget shortfalls and widespread cuts to local government programs and staff. These cuts are likely to fall hardest on low-income residents, people of color, the homeless, and the disabled, who are suffering disproportionately from the pandemic. “… During this [Covid-19] crisis, that loss is even more pronounced – $150,000, for instance, could pay for emergency rental assistance for 100 Minneapolis families,” said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.

Cory Gardner Attended Pricey Champagne Party in Palm Beach. A Colorado Lawmaker Wants an Investigation.
Denver Post – Jason Wingerter | Published: 4/19/2020

A February party in Palm Beach, whose gust list included U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, was put on by Krug Champagne, a French company owned by a multinational conglomerate of luxury brands called LVMH. For the past 20 years, LVMH has lobbied the Senate on a range of issues related to its brands, such as Louis Vuitton, Hennessy, and Krug Champagne. State Sen. Tom Sullivan says Gardner’s appearance at the party is an ethics violation. Sullivan claimed in a complaint to the Senate Ethics Committee that Gardner violated a ban on gifts of more than $50, as well as a ban on gifts from companies that hire lobbyists.

Donna Shalala, Lone Democrat Overseeing $500B Virus Fund, Didn’t Disclose 2019 Stock Sales
Tampa Bay Times – Alex Daugherty | Published: 4/22/2020

Rep. Donna Shalala, the lone U.S. House Democrat on the committee set up to oversee $500 billion in taxpayer money being used for coronavirus-related payouts to large businesses, violated federal law when she failed to disclose stock sales while serving in Congress. Shalala said she sold a variety of stocks throughout 2019 to eliminate any potential conflicts-of-interest after she was elected to Congress in November 2018. But the transactions were not publicly reported as required by the STOCK Act, which prohibits members of Congress and their employees from using private information gleaned from their official positions for personal benefit and requires them to report stock sales and purchases within 45 days. Shalala’s office said the she and her financial adviser made a mistake.

Ethics Guidance on Coronavirus Relief Package: Lawmakers may be able to apply for some loans
Roll Call – Chris Marquette | Published: 4/21/2020

The U.S. House ethics committee is recommending that lawmakers and their families exercise “caution” before applying for economic relief through the massive relief packages passed into law to quell the financial ruin caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Companies in which members of Congress or family members, such as a spouse or child own at least 20 percent equity interest cannot get any loans or other investments from the pool of funds to be disbursed by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. But those conflict-of-interest prohibitions do not apply to other components of the law, including the Paycheck Protection Program.

House Democrats Retreat on Remote Voting as Republicans Clamor to Reopen
New York Times – Catie Edmonson and Emily Cochrane | Published: 4/22/2020

Democratic leaders backed away from a plan to change the rules of the U.S. House to allow lawmakers to cast votes remotely for the first time in history, after Republicans who are clamoring to reopen Congress registered their opposition. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House would no longer vote on a proposal to allow members to designate another lawmaker to cast votes for them by proxy. Instead, she said she and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy would have a bipartisan group of lawmakers consider remote voting proposals and plans to reopen the House.

K Street Is Booming. But There’s a Creeping Sense of Dread.
Politico – Theodoric Meyer and Elena Schneider | Published: 4/19/2020

Business is booming on K Street due to the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill, but lobbyists are also dreading what might be on the horizon if the economy slumps into a protracted recession, according to interviews with more than a dozen lobbyists. Several privately expressed worry that business could dry up if the companies with falling revenue move to cut expenses. Some lobbying firms could even go under. But for now, the chaos has been unmistakably good for business. Hospitals, casinos, Indian tribes, pharmaceutical interests, and private equity firms have all hired lobbyists for help, along with companies from 3M to Ticketmaster to Six Flags. with companies from 3M to Ticketmaster to Six Flags.

Matt Gaetz Rents Office Space from Longtime Friend and Donor – at Taxpayer Expense
Politico – Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan | Published: 4/17/2020

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz has spent nearly $200,000 in taxpayer funds renting an office from a longtime friend, adviser, campaign donor, and legal client. Both men said Gaetz paid below market rent for the space, although Gaetz later shifted, saying the rent was “at or below market rate.” House rules explicitly state such arrangements are not allowed. The agreement between Gaetz and Collier Merrill highlights how a decades-long relationship can become intertwined with a lawmaker’s congressional duties. On top of being Merrill’s tenant, Gaetz attended fundraisers at Merrill’s restaurants and sought his counsel on policy matters.

Shell Companies Hide Trump Campaign’s Financial Dealings as Super PAC Coordination Rules Kick In
Center for Responsive Politics – Anna Massoglia | Published: 4/17/2020

President Trump’s official super PAC, America First Action, recently unveiled its first independent expenditures in the 2020 presidential election attacking presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden on his response to the coronavirus pandemic. But critical information about financial dealings of Trump’s re-election campaign remains hidden by shell companies, obscuring details critical to determine if the campaign is coordinating with his official super PAC. The FEC considers shared vendors when determining if communications constitute illegal coordination between a campaign and an outside group supporting it. The Trump campaign’s disclosure of payments through shell companies keeps the identities of sub-vendors it might share with its super PAC hidden.

Small Business Rescue Cash Isn’t for Lobbyists, Judge Rules
Washington Post – Erik Larson (Bloomberg) | Published: 4/23/2020

Political consulting and lobbying firms were rebuffed in an effort to tap coronavirus rescue money, as a federal judge ruled the funds for small businesses are essentially subsidies that lobbyists cannot receive from the government. The firms cannot tap Paycheck Protection Program loans disbursed by the Small Business Administration because a decades-old regulation bars the agency from subsidizing political speech, U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth said.

The Quiet Hand of Conservative Groups in the Anti-Lockdown Protests
MSN – Kenneth Vogel, Jim Rutenberg, and Lisa Lerer (New York Times) | Published: 4/21/2020

Among those fighting the state and local orders intended to stop the spread of the coronavirus are FreedomWorks and Tea Party Patriots. Also involved are a law firm led partly by former Trump White House officials, a network of state-based conservative policy groups, and a coalition of conservative leaders known as Save Our Country that has advised the White House on strategies for a tiered reopening of the economy. The fight has emerged as a galvanizing cause for a vocal element of President Trump’s base and others on the political right. Organizers see it as unifying social conservatives, who view the orders as targeting religious groups; fiscal conservatives who chafe at the economic devastation wrought by the restrictions on businesses; and civil libertarians who contend the restrictions infringe on constitutional rights.

Trips to Ski Slopes, Beaches and Golf Courses Popular with House Leadership PACs
Roll Call – Chris Marquette | Published: 4/20/2020

U.S. Rep. K. Michael Conaway has spent $285,000 since 2011 from his leadership PAC, Conservative Opportunities for a New America PAC, on things such as golf, spring training tickets and meals in Florida, and stays at the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Conaway is not alone in using leadership PAC money for luxuries that ethics experts consider questionable. Added together, he and six House colleagues spent nearly $800,000 over the past 11 years on elaborate expenditures. Ski trips to mountain resorts were popular. So were fishing, golf, whitewater rafting, and plenty of food and drink.

Trump Interior Official Helped Clear Way for Payments to Ex-Employer
Politico – Adam Cancryn | Published: 4/16/2020

An Interior Department official is under fire over her role in securing access to billions of dollars in coronavirus aid for a handful of wealthy Alaska corporations, including one that previously employed her as a lobbyist and top executive. Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney is among a group of Interior officials advising the Treasury Department on how to distribute $8 billion in rescue funding Congress earmarked for Native American tribes, an allocation that some lawmakers now say they intended solely for the 574 federally recognized tribes hit hard by the economic shutdown. But the Trump administration indicated it also plans to include more than 200 for-profit Alaska Native corporations among the eligible recipients.

Trump Team’s Use of Big Insurer to Dispense Recovery Funds Comes Under Scrutiny
Politico – Maggie Severns and Daniel Lippman | Published: 4/18/2020

A senior economist for the White House Council of Economic Advisers, whose nomination to a post overseeing health insurance floundered in the wake of revelations of his financial ties to UnitedHealth Group, is now playing a key role overseeing a $30 billion recovery program being administered by UnitedHealth. The choice of UnitedHealth, a leading health insurer, to serve as a conduit in funneling billions of dollars to hospitals and other providers, surprised many in health care, including employees at the Department of Health and Human Services who had assumed their department would administer the program itself. Though UnitedHealth says it will make no profit off of the deal, its role in handing the money to hospitals could boost its relationships with the White House and the public during a tumultuous year and possibly provide it with valuable health care data, experts say.

Trump-Backed Online Donor Platform Launches at State Level Ahead of Redistricting
Politico – Scott Bland | Published: 4/17/2020

The GOP online donation platform endorsed by President Trump is opening up to state legislative candidates and others outside federal office, hoping to drive a financial boost for Republicans in the states ahead of the 2020 elections and next year’s redistricting. WinRed, which launched last year, is partnering with the Republican State Leadership Committee to make the platform available to state-level candidates, another step in the group’s drive to get the entire Republican Party using one system for digital fundraising. While the presidential race will command the most attention in 2020, this election is also particularly consequential because state Legislatures will play a key role in the decennial redistricting process that starts next year, with the potential in some states to enact maps that favor one party for the next decade.

From the States and Municipalities

California Here’s Why L.A. County Plans In-Person Voting During Coronavirus Crisis While Riverside, Orange Went All-Mail
Los Angeles Daily News – Ryan Carter | Published: 4/22/2020

On May 12, Los Angeles County voters will decide who replaces former U.S. Rep. Katie Hill for her remaining term in Congress. Despite countywide “stay at home” orders spurred by the coronavirus outbreak, nine polling places will be available for residents to register and cast their ballots in person. Meanwhile, Riverside County plans its own May 12 special election in the 28th Senate District, but it will be mail-only with no in-person balloting. Orange County will stage a May 19 city council recall election in Santa Ana by mail only. In Los Angeles County, elections officials say it is one of 15 counties in California mandated under the Voter’s Choice Act to offer early-voting options by mail and by polling place. Those options include enabling voters to cast ballots in person at the voting center of their choice.

California San Diego Mayor’s Nonprofit a Prime Beneficiary of Political Donors’ Largesse
San Diego Union Tribune – Jeff McDonald | Published: 4/19/2020

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer solicited $35,000 in so-called behested payments so far this year for One San Diego, the tax-exempt organization he set up after he was elected mayor in 2014. In total he has raised more than $3 million in donations, with $1.6 million earmarked for One San Diego. State law requires they be disclosed so the public can see who is donating money to a public official’s favored cause. Many of the contributions have been made by people and companies with direct business interests before the city. Lani Lutar, a registered lobbyist who regularly meets with the mayor’s senior aides on behalf of her clients, has served as the One San Diego board chairperson for several years.

Connecticut Connecticut Presidential Primary Pushed Back Two More Months to Aug. 11 Due to Coronavirus Concerns
Hartford Courant – Christopher Keating | Published: 4/17/2020

In a second delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Connecticut’s presidential primary will be pushed back to August 11. Gov. Ned Lamont made the announcement that he was acting in concert with Secretary of the State Denise Merrill to postpone the date by an additional two months. The state has already set aside August 11 as the day for Republican and Democratic primaries for Congress, state Legislature, and local offices. As a result, towns will save money by opening polling places once, instead of twice. Since local conventions have not yet been held, the candidates for those primaries will not be settled until the coming weeks and months.

Illinois Mayor Lori Lightfoot Introduces Plan to Change Chicago’s City Ethics Rules, Again Allowing Some Elected Officials to Lobby City Government
Chicago Tribune – John Byrne | Published: 4/22/2020

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot introduced a proposal to weaken rules against elected officials lobbying the city that was passed last year. Lightfoot’s amendment to the lobbying ordinance would allow elected officials from outside Chicago to lobby the city council, the mayor’s office, and other city government offices, as long as the public body they represent does not have pending or recurring legislative or contractual matters involving Chicago. That change would partially walk back the stricter standards the council passed following an impassioned debate in December, which barred all elected officials in Illinois from lobbying the city.

Louisiana Louisiana’s Presidential Primary, Local Elections to Be Delayed Again Amid Coronavirus Pandemic
New Orleans Advocate – Sam Karlin | Published: 4/14/2020

Louisiana’s presidential primary and other local elections have been delayed again until late summer as state leaders offer up a plan that includes expanded access to early voting and mail-in ballots but is expected to still feature in-person voting for most people. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin and Gov. John Bel Edwards agreed to delay the presidential primary election originally set for April 4th until July 11th to give Ardoin’s office more time to prepare. The subsequent general election for some local races was delayed until August 15th.

Michigan Brenda Jones Took Illegal Campaign Cash from Donors Doing Business with the City of Detroit
The Intercept – Matthew Cunningham-Cook | Published: 4/21/2020

Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones accepted campaign contributions that violate Michigan’s “pay-to-play rules, according to a review of campaign finance records and interviews with ethics experts. During her 2017 bid for reelection to city council, Jones accepted $5,500 in campaign contributions from then-First Independence Bank Chief Executive Officer Barry Clay, and an additional $4,000 in political donations from First Independence Bank board member Douglas Diggs. The donations occurred as First Independence had a contract with the Detroit police and fire pension fund, of which Jones, as president of the council, is a trustee. First Independence runs a loan program for the pension fund.

Michigan Michigan Cancels Contract with Two Democratic-Linked Firms That Had Been Tapped to Track Coronavirus
Connecticut Post – Matt Viser and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 4/21/2020

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration canceled a no-bid contract to help track the spread of the coronavirus in Michigan, a day after announcing the hiring of a state Democratic consultant and a national firm that has worked for prominent Democratic causes. The reversal comes amid complaints the governor tapped politically connected firms to collect health data on state residents and monitor sensitive medical information. The episode illustrates the political and ethical pitfalls involved in the large amounts of money suddenly being spent across the country to curb the pandemic and boost the economy. Companies receiving aid and contracts have been criticized in recent weeks for ties to one party or the other, and Democrats and Republicans have wrangled over the best way to oversee the process.

New Mexico Ex-Rio Arriba Official Faces Allegations
Albuquerque Journal – Edmund Carrillo | Published: 4/19/2020

Former Rio Arriba County Commissioner Barney Trujillo made over $100,000 from three contracts with Española Public Schools, yet did so without the proper business licenses, the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office says. As a contract holder with the school district, he also never disclosed he contributed to the campaigns of two school board members, which is a violation of governmental conduct laws, according to the attorney general’s office. Trujillo faces three counts of unlawful interest in a public contract and one count of failing to disclose campaign contributions. He could face up to six years in prison.

North Carolina Voting Rights Advocates File Lawsuit Over Allegedly Insecure North Carolina Voting Machines
The Hill – Maggie Miller | Published: 4/15/2020

A group of voting rights advocates filed a lawsuit alleging that voting machines used in almost two dozen North Carolina counties are not secure and could lead to voter disenfranchisement in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The lawsuit alleges the use of the ExpressVote XL voting machine violates the constitutional right of individuals in the state to free and fair elections and has cyber vulnerabilities that could lead to election interference. The machines involve the voter inputting their choices digitally, with the machine then printing out a paper sheet with a barcode embedded with the voter’s choices. The voting rights advocates point to this system as making it impossible for the average voter to ensure their vote was not changed and was accurate.

Ohio Appeals Court Entertains Arguments on Whether Jimmy Dimora Should Receive New Trial
Cleveland Plain Dealer – Eric Heisig | Published: 4/16/2020

Federal appeals court judges grilled a prosecutor and a defense lawyer on whether former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora should get another chance to prove his innocence. Dimora has argued that errors in the instructions a judge gave to the jury that convicted him in 2012, as well as the judge’s decision to disallow the former commissioner to present his Ohio ethics reports, means he should get a new trial. Dimora is serving a 28-year prison sentence for corruption-related convictions.

Oregon Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler Violated Campaign Finance Disclosure Rules, City Elections Official Says
Portland Oregonian – Everton Bailey Jr. | Published: 4/21/2020

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler broke new city election rules by not properly disclosing his largest campaign contributors on his reelection website or two campaign social media accounts, the city auditor’s office ruled. Rules that took effect with this election cycle require candidates to prominently list the top five donors who have given more than $1,000 on campaign communications, said Elections Officer Deborah Scroggin. Wheeler announces “Paid for by Friends of Ted Wheeler” on his campaign website, but the top contributors are not identified there or on his re-election Facebook page or Twitter account.

Texas More Than Half of Gov. Greg Abbott’s Coronavirus Panel on Reopening Texas Are Campaign Donors
Dallas Morning News – Allie Morris, Ariana Giorgi, and Robert Garrett | Published: 4/18/2020

Gov. Greg Abbott named 39 prominent Texans, most business and industry leaders, to a panel that will help guide a reopening of the state’s economy after the coronavirus. Many of them are also campaign donors. Thirty-one of the counci’’s 39 members have contributed to Abbott’s past runs for governor and attorney general, and since 2015, 25 have given Abbott’s gubernatorial campaign at least $5.8 million combined. The choices are drawing fire from government-transparency advocates, union officials, and Democratic leaders who fear that public health could be subordinated to profit motives as tough judgment calls are made in the coming weeks and months about easing isolation edicts.

Texas Top Travis County Official Returns $5,000 After Campaign Ethics Violation
Austin American-Statesman – Ryan Autullo | Published: 4/16/2020

State Senate candidate Sarah Eckhardt, the acting county judge in Travis County, acknowledged accepting political contributions in violation of finance law. Candidates in statewide races are prohibited by the Texas Ethics Commission from knowingly accepting a contribution at a time when a campaign treasurer is not in place. The person who filed the complaint is University of Texas student Blake Beatty, who said he discovered Eckhardt’s impermissible fundraising, because “I’ve had a lot of free time on my hands during the quarantine.”

Washington Justices: $18M campaign finance penalty to be reconsidered
AP News – Gene Johnson | Published: 4/16/2020

A record fine levied against the Grocery Manufacturers Association for concealing the identities of the food and beverage companies that spent $11 million to defeat a GMO-labeling initiative in 2013 was upheld by the Washington Supreme Court. In a five-to-four decision, justices overruled an appeals court and reinstated an $18 million fine against the trade group, now known as the Consumer Brands Association. The decision does not fully settle whether the penalty will stand. The court did not rule on whether the penalty violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on excessive punishment. The justices sent the case back to the appeals court to “scrutinize carefully” whether the fine is constitutional.

Wisconsin After Losing Election, State Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly Signals He Will Participate in Voter Rolls Case
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – Patrick Marley | Published: 4/16/2020

Days after learning he was losing his seat on the state Supreme Court, Justice Daniel Kelly signaled he would participate in a case over who should remain on Wisconsin’s voter rolls after earlier stepping away from the lawsuit. The case is expected to determine whether tens of thousands of voters who are suspected of having moved can stay on the state’s voter rolls. Kelly issued a court order saying it appears he no longer has a conflict in the case. He asked those involved in the case to file briefs on what they think he should do before he makes a final decision. Kelly had stayed away from the case because it could have affected who was a registered voter for the April 7 election, when he was on the ballot.

Wisconsin At Least Seven in Wisconsin Contract Coronavirus During Voting
MSN – Nick Corasaniti and Reid Epstein (New York Times) | Published: 4/21/2020

Milwaukee health officials said they had identified at least seven people who contracted the coronavirus from participating in Election Day on April 7, which was held despite a stay-at-home order issued throughout the state. The officials say the number may be higher as they are still conducting testing. Other cities have not reported any cases tied to voting yet. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services said it would also be studying any voters or election workers who contracted the virus from voting.

Wisconsin Vote by Mail in Wisconsin Helped a Liberal Candidate, Upending Old Theories
New York Times – Reid Epstein | Published: 4/21/2020

The liberal candidate in the April 7 Wisconsin Supreme Court race prevailed in voting by mail by a significant margin, upending years of study showing little advantage to either party when a state transitions from in-person to mail voting. The gap suggests Democrats were more organized and proactive in their vote-by-mail efforts in an election conducted under extraordinary circumstances, with voters forced to weigh the health risks of voting in person against the sometimes unreliable option of requesting and mailing in their ballots. Still, it is likely to add to the skepticism President Trump and Republicans have expressed bout mail voting, which they worry would increase Democratic turnout at Republicans’ expense.

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April 23, 2020 •

Thursday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance Oregon: “Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler Violated Campaign Finance Disclosure Rules, City Elections Official Says” by Everton Bailey Jr. for Portland Oregonian Elections Wisconsin: “Vote by Mail in Wisconsin Helped a Liberal Candidate, Upending Old Theories” by Reid Epstein […]

Campaign Finance

Oregon: “Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler Violated Campaign Finance Disclosure Rules, City Elections Official Says” by Everton Bailey Jr. for Portland Oregonian

Elections

Wisconsin: “Vote by Mail in Wisconsin Helped a Liberal Candidate, Upending Old Theories” by Reid Epstein for New York Times

Ethics

National: “The Quiet Hand of Conservative Groups in the Anti-Lockdown Protests” by Kenneth Vogel, Jim Rutenberg, and Lisa Lerer (New York Times) for MSN

National: “Ethics Guidance on Coronavirus Relief Package: Lawmakers may be able to apply for some loans” by Chris Marquette for Roll Call

National: “Donna Shalala, Lone Democrat Overseeing $500B Virus Fund, Didn’t Disclose 2019 Stock Sales” by Alex Daugherty for Tampa Bay Times

Michigan: “Michigan Cancels Contract with Two Democratic-Linked Firms That Had Been Tapped to Track Coronavirus” by Matt Viser and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) for Connecticut Post

Lobbying

National: “Cory Gardner Attended Pricey Champagne Party in Palm Beach. A Colorado Lawmaker Wants an Investigation.” by Jason Wingerter for Denver Post

National: “Small Business Rescue Cash Isn’t for Lobbyists, Judge Rules” by Erik Larson (Bloomberg) for Washington Post

Illinois: “Mayor Lori Lightfoot Introduces Plan to Change Chicago’s City Ethics Rules, Again Allowing Some Elected Officials to Lobby City Government” by John Byrne for Chicago Tribune

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April 22, 2020 •

Wednesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance National: “Trump-Backed Online Donor Platform Launches at State Level Ahead of Redistricting” by Scott Bland for Politico California: “San Diego Mayor’s Nonprofit a Prime Beneficiary of Political Donors’ Largesse” by Jeff McDonald for San Diego Union Tribune Elections […]

Campaign Finance

National: “Trump-Backed Online Donor Platform Launches at State Level Ahead of Redistricting” by Scott Bland for Politico

California: “San Diego Mayor’s Nonprofit a Prime Beneficiary of Political Donors’ Largesse” by Jeff McDonald for San Diego Union Tribune

Elections

Wisconsin: “At Least Seven in Wisconsin Contract Coronavirus During Voting” by Nick Corasaniti and Reid Epstein (New York Times) for MSN

Ethics

National: “Trump Team’s Use of Big Insurer to Dispense Recovery Funds Comes Under Scrutiny” by Maggie Severns and Daniel Lippman for Politico

New Mexico: “Ex-Rio Arriba Official Faces Allegations” by Edmund Carrillo for Albuquerque Journal

Texas: “More Than Half of Gov. Greg Abbott’s Coronavirus Panel on Reopening Texas Are Campaign Donors” by Allie Morris, Ariana Giorgi, and Robert Garrett for Dallas Morning News

Legislative Issues

National: “‘All of It Is Happening All at Once’: When Congress works from home” by Nicholas Fandos and Sheryl Gay Stolberg for New York Times

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April 21, 2020 •

Tuesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance National: “Shell Companies Hide Trump Campaign’s Financial Dealings as Super PAC Coordination Rules Kick In” by Anna Massoglia for Center for Responsive Politics Elections Connecticut: “Connecticut Presidential Primary Pushed Back Two More Months to Aug. 11 Due to […]

Campaign Finance

National: “Shell Companies Hide Trump Campaign’s Financial Dealings as Super PAC Coordination Rules Kick In” by Anna Massoglia for Center for Responsive Politics

Elections

Connecticut: “Connecticut Presidential Primary Pushed Back Two More Months to Aug. 11 Due to Coronavirus Concerns” by Christopher Keating for Hartford Courant

North Carolina: “Voting Rights Advocates File Lawsuit Over Allegedly Insecure North Carolina Voting Machines” by Maggie Miller for The Hill

Ethics

National: “GOP’s Growing ‘Open It Up’ Caucus Urges Fewer Virus Restrictions Amid Warnings from Fellow Republicans” by Mike DeBonis (Washington Post) for MSN

National: “A Watchdog Out of Trump’s Grasp Unleashes Wave of Coronavirus Audits” by Kyle Cheney for Politico

Ohio: “Appeals Court Entertains Arguments on Whether Jimmy Dimora Should Receive New Trial” by Eric Heisig for Cleveland Plain Dealer

Lobbying

National: “K Street Is Booming. But There’s a Creeping Sense of Dread.” by Theodoric Meyer and Elena Schneider for Politico

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April 20, 2020 •

Iowa Filing Deadlines Remain Unchanged

Iowa Capitol

Iowa Capitol Building - Ashton B Crew

The Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board issued a reminder for campaign disclosure report due dates. Reports for the period of January 1 through May 14 are due no later than 4:30 pm on May 19. Although the board is […]

The Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board issued a reminder for campaign disclosure report due dates.

Reports for the period of January 1 through May 14 are due no later than 4:30 pm on May 19.

Although the board is working remotely during the disaster proclamation, because reports are filed electronically, filing deadlines have not changed.

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April 17, 2020 •

News You Can Use Digest – April 17, 2020

News You Can Use

National/Federal Bloomberg Campaign Transfer of $18 Million to DNC Sparks Complaints to Federal Regulators MSN – Michelle Ye Hee Lee (Washington Post) | Published: 4/9/2020 Citizens United, the group known for its 2010 namesake landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that helped […]

National/Federal

Bloomberg Campaign Transfer of $18 Million to DNC Sparks Complaints to Federal Regulators
MSN – Michelle Ye Hee Lee (Washington Post) | Published: 4/9/2020

Citizens United, the group known for its 2010 namesake landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that helped pave the way for super PACs, filed a petition with the FEC asking regulators to create new rules to limit the amount of leftover money that a self-funded federal candidate can transfer to the national party once the candidate has dropped out of the race. The request followed two FEC complaints filed by other groups that alleged Michael Bloomberg made an improper transfer of $18 million to the Democratic National Committee. Bloomberg was the biggest self-funded candidate in U.S. history.

‘Choosing Winners and Losers’: Behind the battle to be deemed essential
Politico – Theodoric Meyer and Anna Gronwold | Published: 4/10/2020

As states and cities have forced what they consider “nonessential businesses” to close to slow the spread of coronavirus, lobbyists for industries have been hustling to make the case that they are too important to be shut down, a designation that could mean millions of dollars for companies and the employees who keep them running. Companies and trade groups seeking to shape the rules are lobbying governors, most of whom have issued executive orders detailing which businesses can remain open and which must close. They have also appealed to the Trump administration, which has put out recommendations outlining which industries it considers essential, although states and cities are not bound by the recommendations.

Democrats Scramble to Close YouTube Deficit Amid Quarantine Campaign
Politico – Alex Thompson | Published: 4/13/2020

Joe Biden is not much of a YouTuber. But his campaign and Democrats are hastily trying to address a longstanding weakness and reach the millions of Americans who are. The 2020 presidential campaign’s transition to a mostly digital experience, with the nation on lockdown, has spotlighted a long-term progressive deficit on YouTube that some concerned Democrats compare to the right’s command of talk radio. The country’s leading video platform is also one of its largest search engines and a key battlefield in campaigns’ fight to reach new voters and earn free media attention. While Democratic campaigns and groups spend heavily on advertising on YouTube, they lag in organic content, with dozens of conservative and right-wing figures cultivating enormous followings not yet matched by equivalents on the left.

GOP Pushes Voting by Mail – with Restrictions – While Trump Attacks It as ‘Corrupt’
MSN – Amy Gardenr and Elise Viebeck (Washington Post) | Published: 4/12/2020

Despite President Trump saying that voting by mail is “corrupt,” state GOP leaders across the country are aggressively urging their voters to cast ballots by mail. In addition, Republican officeholders in at least 16 states that do not have all-mail elections are encouraging people to vote absentee during the coronavirus pandemic. Their moves come after decades in which Republicans have encouraged their voters to take advantage of absentee ballot rules, running sophisticated mail programs that targeted GOP supporters most likely to vote from home. The apparent conflict between Trump’s attacks and his party’s long embrace of the tactic comes as the health crisis has spurred Democrats and civil rights groups to push to loosen restrictions on mail voting in many jurisdictions.

Lobbyists, Political Consultants Sue U.S. for Coronavirus Bailout
Washington Post – Robert Burnson (Bloomberg) | Published: 4/14/2020

A group representing political consultants, pollsters, and lobbyists sued the U.S. government for a slice of the $2.2 trillion Covid-19 bailout pie. The American Association of Political Consultants says it is unconstitutional for its members to be excluded from the small business loans provided by the CARE Act, which Congress passed in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The group says its members should be granted access to $349 billion in “forgivable loans” provided under the Paycheck Protection Program. The program excludes various businesses including nonprofits, strip clubs, and those “primarily engaged in political or lobbying activities.”

Pentagon Looks to Undo Parts of McCain Anti-Lobbying Law
Roll Call – John Donnelly | Published: 4/14/2020

The Pentagon asked Congress to reverse key parts of a recent law that tightened the rules governing retired Defense Department officials influencing their former government colleagues on behalf of defense contractors. The new rules were authored by the late U.S, Sen. John McCain. They lengthened from one year to two years the period during which the most senior Pentagon officials were banned, upon leaving office, from lobbying their former colleagues. The McCain provisions added new limits on whom in the Defense Department former officials could lobby and how. A coalition of groups that monitor government spending urged congressional committee leaders to not only keep McCain’s provisions but to strengthen them.

Senator Richard Burr Sold D.C. Townhouse to Donor at a Rich Price
ProPublica – Robert Faturechi | Published: 4/14/2020

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr sold his Washington, D.C. townhouse for what, by some estimates, was for an above market price of $900,000 to a team led by lobbyist John Green. That is tens of thousands of dollars above some estimates of the property’s value by tax assessors, a real estate website, and a local real estate agent. Green is a longtime donor to Burr’s political campaigns and has co-hosted at least one fundraiser for him. In 2017, the year of the sale, Green lobbied on behalf of a stream of clients with business before Burr’s committees. If the home was purchased for more than the fair market value, it would be considered a gift. Senate ethics rules generally ban gifts of significant value from lobbyists, and those that are not are typically required to be publicly disclosed.

Sexual Assault Allegation by Former Biden Senate Aide Emerges in Campaign, Draws Denial
MSN – Beth Reinhard, Elise Viebeck, Matt Viser, and Alice Crites (Washington Post) | Published: 4/13/2020

A woman who last year said Joe Biden touched her neck and shoulders when she worked in his Senate office in 1993 is now accusing him of sexually assaulting her that year in a semiprivate area of the Capitol complex, an allegation the Biden campaign strongly denies. At the time, Tara Reade was a  staff assistant. The Washington Post has interviewed Reade on multiple occasions as well as people she says she told of the assault claim and more than a half-dozen former staffers of Biden’s Senate office. Reade filed a complaint recently with District of Columbia police. She said she did so because she is being harassed online and wanted law enforcement to be aware of her claim. A public record of the complaint does not name Biden but says Reade “disclosed that she believes she was the victim of a sexual assault” in 1993.

Sidelined by Coronavirus Pandemic, Congress Cedes Stage and Authority to Trump
MSN – Mike DeBonis and Paul Kane (Washington Post) | Published: 4/11/2020

Congress has responded to the incessant spread of the coronavirus and its devastating impact on the economy by passing, so far, three progressively larger relief bills, culminating in the $2 trillion Cares Act. While President Trump has commanded the stage at White House briefings, Democratic Party leaders have conducted frequent media interviews, committee chairpersons have sent flurries of letters, and individual members have scrambled to help their districts. But with lawmakers dispersed across the country, and with rules frequently out of step with modern telecommunications, the House and Senate are only starting to come to terms with how to conduct many of their most essential functions amid an extended national emergency.

Supreme Court for First Time to Hold Arguments Via Teleconference Next Month
Washington Post – Robert Barnes | Published: 4/12/2020

The U.S. Supreme Court announced it will hold oral arguments via teleconference for the first time in its history in May, on a set of cases that had been postponed in March and April, including President Trump’s legal battle to prevent congressional committees and a New York prosecutor from obtaining his financial records. The justices will hear another time-sensitive case involving whether presidential electors can be required to honor their state’s instructions to vote for the candidate who wins the state’s popular vote.

Treasury’s Mnuchin ‘Properly’ Followed Guidance in Refusing to Give Trump’s Tax Returns to Congress, Inspector General Finds
MSN – Jeff Stein, Erica Werner, and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) | Published: 4/10/2020

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin followed internal protocols when he refused to give President Trump’s tax returns to Congress, Richard Delmar, deputy inspector general of the Department of Treasury, found in a report. Lawyers for the legal counsel’s office wrote in a 2019 opinion that House Democrats’ demands for Trump’s return should be denied because they did not serve a legitimate “legislative purpose.” Delmar’s opinion is a setback for congressional Democrats who have for years said the administration broke a 1924 law that appears to explicitly give congressional tax writing committees the authority to obtain the president’s returns.

Who’s Getting These Hundreds of Billions in the Government Aid? For Now, the Public May Be in the Dark.
Beaumont Enterprise – Peter Whoriskey and Heather Long (Washington Post) | Published: 4/13/2020

The Cares Act requires that the names of recipients of some forms of federal aid be published, but those requirements do not extend to significant portions of the relief. Though most of the $2.2 trillion in spending has yet to begin, disputes already have arisen about who will be responsible for making sure it is done ethically. The law requires several layers of oversight. It calls for a special inspector general, a congressional review commission, and a group that will be composed of inspectors general armed with enhanced powers to subpoena documents and testimony. But President Trump already has taken steps that undermine these reviewers. Regardless of what happens to the oversight panels, the public disclosure of who receives the trillions in emergency money could play a critical role in the public debate over the programs.

From the States and Municipalities

Alabama Alabama Supreme Court Upholds 6 Counts Against Mike Hubbard, Reverses 5
Montgomery Advertiser – Melissa Brown | Published: 4/10/2020

The Alabama Supreme Court overturned five of the ethics convictions that ended the political career of former House Speaker Mike Hubbard, while upholding six others. Hubbard was sentenced to four years in prison in 2016 but has remained free on appeal. Prosecutors accused him of monetizing his public office to obtain clients and investments for his businesses. \The overturned counts dealt largely with several $150,000 investments in Hubbard’s troubled printing company. The court upheld other ethics counts involving Hubbard’s side work as a consultant, rejecting defense claims that those contracts were unrelated to his position as House speaker.

Arizona November Ballot Measures Threatened by Lack of Public Gatherings, Backers Warn. Judge Weighs Online Petitions
Arizona Republic – Andrew Oxford | Published: 4/14/2020

The coronavirus pandemic has prevented ballot initiative campaigns from gathering signatures outside libraries, on college campuses, and at other places people used to congregate. But does that mean they should be allowed to collect signatures online as an alternative? That is the question in front of a federal judge, who heard arguments from campaigns backing ballot proposals and lawyers from the Arizona attorney general’s office, which opposes the idea. The campaigns say social distancing guidelines in place to stop the spread of COVID-19 have squelched their usual methods for gathering the more than 200,000 signatures they need to qualify for spots on the general election ballot in November.

California Federal Investigation into L.A. City Hall Corruption Involves Downtown Project
Los Angeles Times – Emily Alpert Reyes and David Zahniser | Published: 4/15/2020

When federal prosecutors filed their latest corruption case involving Los Angeles City Hall, they filled their court filings with lurid details: a paper bag filled with cash for a council member, a bathroom meeting to discuss the alleged bribe, and insistent texts from that council member angling for the money. What investigators did not say was who allegedly provided a $500,000 bribe meant for a sitting council member in order to smooth the way for a new project. In court filings, prosecutors identified that figure only as “Developer C.” But numerous details in the case point to the project at the heart of the matter: a 20-story residential tower planned at the corner of Hill Street and Olympic Boulevard in downtown Los Angeles.

California FPPC Offers Guidance on Lobbying Filing Deadlines in Wake of COVID-19
Vallejo Times-Herald – Staff | Published: 4/13/2020

In light of the statewide shelter-in-place order, the California Fair Political Practices Commission is encouraging individuals subject to lobbying registration and reporting requirements to continue to make the best efforts to timely file all legally required reports and statements. If circumstances caused by COVID-19 inhibit the filing of a lobbying report or statement, the filer should communicate these issues to the secretary of state’s office and document all attempts to file and the issues faced. While quarterly lobbying reports are filed electronically, the law requires certain other statements be filed on paper with an original signature.

Florida Florida Ethics Panel Rejects COVID-19 Announcements Plan, Upholds Ban on Free Publicity or Exposure
Orlando Weekly – Jim Turner (News Service of Florida) | Published: 4/10/2020

The Florida Commission on Ethics blocked a request from Charter Communications to put public officials in coronavirus-related public service announcements. The use of public officials in such ads is a violation of the state’s gift ban, which prohibits elected officials and top appointees from taking anything of value from lobbyists or entities that employ them. Charter did not argue that point, but asked commissioners to make an exception because of the dire nature of the pandemic.

Florida Herald Drafted a Suit Seeking ALF Records. DeSantis Aide Pressured Law Firm Not To
Miami Herald – Daniel Chang | Published: 4/11/2020

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ general counsel called a representative of The Miami Herald’s law firm seeking to quash a public records lawsuit that would force the state to divulge the names of all elder-care facilities that have had a positive test for the coronavirus. The back-door pressure, through an attorney who had no involvement in the case, paid off. The law firm, Holland & Knight, told Sanford Bohrer, a senior partner with decades of representing The Herald, to stand down and abandon the lawsuit. The suit will still be filed, but by another law firm, said Miami Herald publisher Aminda Marqués González.

Georgia Ethics Commission Accuses Fulton DA of Disclosure Violations
AP News – Staff | Published: 4/16/2020

Georgia’s ethics commission filed a complaint against an Atlanta-area district attorney and accused him of violating public disclosure laws, including by not listing his supplemental salary funded by a nonprofit. It was reported that discrepancies were found between Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard’s personal financial disclosures and tax filings submitted to the IRS by a nonprofit Howard runs. The complaint said Howard committed several violations on five years of disclosure forms.

Georgia Ga. Lawmakers in COVID-19 Campaign Fundraising Limbo
Rome News-Tribune – Beau Evans (Capitol Beat News Service) | Published: 4/15/2020

A divided state ethics commission upheld a longstanding ban on campaign fundraising when Georgia lawmakers are still in session, even if the legislative session has been indefinitely suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic. The 30-year-old ban was designed to curb the influence of money on lawmakers, but in the age of COVID-19, it has creating anxiety among incumbents who face opposition in the June 9 primary. They must continue to idle their fundraising while their challengers can raise money. The governor’s public health emergency declaration now runs through May 13 and there is no assurance the order will expire at that point.

Georgia Georgia Further Delays Primary Election to June
The Hill – Max Greenwood | Published: 4/9/2020

Georgia delayed its primary elections again, this time to June 9, amid concerns that the coronavirus outbreak may continue to pose a high risk to public health through most of May. Georgia was originally supposed to hold its primaries on March 24. But state officials postponed the contests until May 19 as the pandemic worsened and health officials urged the public to avoid large crowds and gatherings.

Kentucky Kentucky Legislature Overrides Veto of GOP Voter ID Measure
Washington Post – Elise Viebeck | Published: 4/15/2020

Kentucky’s Republican-controlled Legislature overrode a veto of a new voter ID law by Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear, setting the stage for the requirement to be enacted for the November general election. The move by lawmakers prompted an outcry from Democrats and voting-rights groups. They said the measure would suppress the vote and accused Republicans of exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to impose restrictions, even as other states seek to make voting easier. GOP legislators argued the requirement that voters show a government-issued photo ID to cast a ballot would prevent voter fraud.

Michigan Chanting ‘Lock Her Up,’ Michigan Protesters Waving Trump Flags Mass Against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Coronavirus Restrictions
Washington Post – Meagan Flynn | Published: 4/16/2020

If all roads in Michigan lead to the Capitol, conservative protesters made sure they were closed. For miles, thousands of drivers clogged the streets to demand Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ease restrictions and allow them to go back to work. They drowned downtown Lansing in a cacophony of honking. They blared patriotic songs from car radios, waving all sorts of flags from the windows: President Trump flags, American flags, and the occasional Confederate flag. But in the massive demonstration against Whitmer’s stay-at-home executive order, which they have argued is excessive and beyond her authority, the pleas from organizers that protesters to stay in their vehicles went unheeded. Many got out of their cars and crashed the front lawn of the Capitol, with some chanting, “Lock her up!” and “We will not comply!”

Michigan Michigan Republican Party Loses Appeal in Attempt to Stop Redistricting Commission
MLive.com – Ryan Boldrey | Published: 4/15/2020

The Michigan Republican Party was again denied in an attempt to overturn the result of a November 2018 ballot proposal that changed how the state’s political districts are drawn. A three-judge panel of the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court decision deeming the new law constitutional. Proposal 2 shifted the responsibility of drawing Michigan’s state and federal districts every 10 years to a new commission. Redistricting was previously handled by the Michigan Legislature and approved by the governor, something Proposal 2 supporters equated to politicians picking their own district lines.

Missouri Amid COVID-19 Funding Scramble, Missouri Senate Gets Ethics Panel Back on Track
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Kurt Erickson | Published: 4/9/2020

After three weeks in limbo, the commission that regulates Missouri’s campaign finance laws will be able to meet again following a rushed effort to appoint a new member. Maneuvering by Gov. Mike Parson and the state Senate resulted in the Legislature’s upper chamber confirming the appointment of Robert Cook to the Missouri Ethics Commission. The commission had been unable to meet after the terms of three of its six members expired on March 15.

New Hampshire New Hampshire Governor to Allow Absentee Voting in November Because of Coronavirus Outbreak
MSN – Amy Gardner and Colby Itkowitz (Washington Post) | Published: 4/9/2020

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu announced the state will allow voters to cast mail-in ballots in the November general election if the coronavirus is still a factor this fall. The decision is a significant departure from Sununu’s past stance against widespread absentee voting and stands in contrast to the rhetoric coming from some Republicans, including President Trump. Sununu said the state is considering other voting alternatives, too, including “drive-up voting,” in which a voter would not have to leave his or her vehicle.

New Jersey NJ Lawyer-Lobbyists Saw Big Payday in 2019, See Uncertainty For 2020
Law.com – Suzette Parmley | Published: 4/10/2020

Being heard has never been more expensive in Trenton, or lucrative for lobbyists. Last year’s booming economy, an activist governor, one-party rule, and more than 11,000 bills in the New Jersey Legislature generated a windfall of clients, and made 2019 a banner year for lobbying in the state, with expenditures by clients topping $100 million for the first time ever. And law firms with lobbying arms staffed by lawyers, typically those with extensive experience in dealing with or working in government, or lobbying firms made up of lawyers by trade, made out quite well, according to data from the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.

New York New York’s Smaller Political Parties Must Quickly Meet New Ballot Thresholds
Gotham Gazette – Samar Khurshid | Published: 4/13/2020

Included in the bills to approve a state budget in New York was the creation of a new campaign finance system with a public-matching program, lower individual contribution limits, and various other changes to campaign finance law. But the controversial inclusion of changes to ballot thresholds could prove to be a poison pill, not for the law but for the several minor political parties that operate in New York’s electoral system. The new thresholds to secure an automatic ballot line will be daunting for most, if not all, minor parties in the state, considering their showing in recent elections for governor and president. Only the Conservative Party has been able to consistently garner the number of votes the new thresholds would require for a party to easily nominate candidates for offices across the board for years at a time.

South Carolina SC Ethics Commission Launches Investigation into Horry County Chairman Over Campaign Loan
Raleigh News and Observer – Tyler Fleming | Published: 4/9/2020

The South Carolina Ethics Commission is investigating Horry County Council Chairperson Johnny Gardner for a loan and filings from his election campaign. A complaint claims Gardner, among other allegations, repaid too much money from a personal campaign loan. It also says the money used for the loan could not have belonged to Gardner and may count as an illegal campaign donation.

South Dakota South Dakota’s Governor Resisted Ordering People to Stay Home. Now It Has One of the Nation’s Largest Coronavirus Hot Spots.
MSN – Griff Witte (Washington Post) | Published: 4/13/2020

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem dismissed calls to issue a statewide stay-at-home order to combat the spread of the coronavirus. She said it was up to individuals, not government, to decide whether “to exercise their right to work, to worship and to play – or to even stay at home.” Now, South Dakota is home to one of the largest single coronavirus clusters anywhere in the U.S., with more than 300 workers at a giant ¬pork-processing plant falling ill. With the case numbers continuing to spike, the company was forced to announce the indefinite closure of the facility, threatening the American food supply.

Utah Utah Lawmakers Tackling Coronavirus impact in First Online Session
Deseret News – Lisa Riley Roche | Published: 4/15/2020

Utah lawmakers are meeting online only for the first time after calling themselves into an emergency special session focused on dealing with the effects of the global coronavirus pandemic. Only Senate President Stuart Adams and House Speaker Brad Wilson are expected to be in the legislative chambers in the closed Capitol, facing new giant screens rather than lawmakers themselves, for the session, which can continue for up to 10 days. Because of technology constraints, work on the more than 20 items on the agenda will be tackled in one chamber at a time, starting in the House, Thomas said. Also, bills will not receive committee hearings, which are optional in a special session.

Washington Bankruptcy Judge Orders Tim Eyman to Pay $270,000 in State Court Contempt Fines by April 19
Seattle Times – Daniel Beekman | Published: 4/9/2020

Tim Eyman, the longtime anti-tax activist and initiative promoter, has until April 19 to pay $270,000 in fines and attorneys’ fees accrued for refusing to follow court orders in a Washington state campaign finance case. The payment will be due as part of a new plan approved by a federal bankruptcy court judge. Eyman owes more than $340,000 in contempt sanctions and related costs and has paid about $60,000. Sanctions continue to accrue. The new bankruptcy plan also will require Eyman to pay $10,000 a month starting in May and $13,500 a month starting in January 2022, until his debts have been satisfied.

Washington Washington AG Ferguson Sues Facebook Again, Saying It’s Still Selling Political Ads Without Adequate Disclosures
Seattle Times – Jim Brunner | Published: 4/14/2020

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a second lawsuit against Facebook over political ads, saying the company once again failed to make disclosures required under the state’s campaign finance laws. Facebook already paid $238,000 in 2018 to resolve a previous dispute over political advertising. Facebook announced later that year it would stop accepting political ads related to state or local initiatives in Washington, although it still permitted advertisements around “issues of national importance” targeting people in the state. Ferguson said Facebook had continued selling hundreds of ads to at least 171 state political committees since 2018, in violation of its own policy.

Wisconsin ‘Not as Wisconsin Nice as We Used to Be’: The divisions in Dairyland
MSN – Dionne Searcey (New York Times) | Published: 4/11/2020

The political war being waged in Wisconsin shows how partisanship pushed to its most strategic outer limits can ensnare not only primary election voters but also cow manure, a Christmas tree, a tourism agency, and in particular, farmers who need help. The battle became particularly heated during the tenure of Gov. Scott Walker, who outraged Democrats by taking on a key liberal tenet: organized labor. After he lost the statehouse in 2018, Wisconsin Republicans, who now control both chambers, pushed through measures to strip the powers of newly elected Democrats. In November, Republicans opened a special session the current governor had called to take up gun control measures, and then pounded the gavel to close the session after only a few seconds.

Wisconsin Upset Victory in Wisconsin Supreme Court Race Gives Democrats a Lift
MSN – Reid Epsein (New York Times) | Published: 4/13/2020

Democrats scored a significant victory in Wisconsin when a liberal challenger upset a Trump-backed incumbent to win a state Supreme Court seat, a down-ballot race that illustrated strong turnout and vote-by-mail efforts in a presidential battleground state. The large margin of victory came as a shock to Republicans and Democrats alike in Wisconsin, where contests for president, governor, and the state’s high court in the last four years have all been decided by about 30,000 votes or less. It followed weeks of Democratic anger over Republicans’ insistence on holding elections amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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April 16, 2020 •

Thursday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance Georgia: “Ga. Lawmakers in COVID-19 Campaign Fundraising Limbo” by Beau Evans (Capitol Beat News Service) for Rome News-Tribune Washington: “Washington AG Ferguson Sues Facebook Again, Saying It’s Still Selling Political Ads Without Adequate Disclosures” by Jim Brunner for […]

Campaign Finance

Georgia: “Ga. Lawmakers in COVID-19 Campaign Fundraising Limbo” by Beau Evans (Capitol Beat News Service) for Rome News-Tribune

Washington: “Washington AG Ferguson Sues Facebook Again, Saying It’s Still Selling Political Ads Without Adequate Disclosures” by Jim Brunner for Seattle Times

Elections

Arizona: “November Ballot Measures Threatened by Lack of Public Gatherings, Backers Warn. Judge Weighs Online Petitions” by Andrew Oxford for Arizona Republic

Kentucky: “Kentucky Legislature Overrides Veto of GOP Voter ID Measure” by Elise Viebeck for Washington Post

Ethics

National: “Supreme Court for First Time to Hold Arguments Via Teleconference Next Month” by Robert Barnes for Washington Post

National: “Sexual Assault Allegation by Former Biden Senate Aide Emerges in Campaign, Draws Denial” by Beth Reinhard, Elise Viebeck, Matt Viser, and Alice Crites (Washington Post) for MSN

Lobbying

National: “Pentagon Looks to Undo Parts of McCain Anti-Lobbying Law” by John Donnelly for Roll Call

National: “Senator Richard Burr Sold D.C. Townhouse to Donor at a Rich Price” by Robert Faturechi for ProPublica

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April 15, 2020 •

Wednesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance Washington: “Bankruptcy Judge Orders Tim Eyman to Pay $270,000 in State Court Contempt Fines by April 19” by Daniel Beekman for Seattle Times Elections New York: “New York’s Smaller Political Parties Must Quickly Meet New Ballot Thresholds” by […]

Campaign Finance

Washington: “Bankruptcy Judge Orders Tim Eyman to Pay $270,000 in State Court Contempt Fines by April 19” by Daniel Beekman for Seattle Times

Elections

New York: “New York’s Smaller Political Parties Must Quickly Meet New Ballot Thresholds” by Samar Khurshid for Gotham Gazette

Wisconsin: “Upset Victory in Wisconsin Supreme Court Race Gives Democrats a Lift” by Reid Epsein (New York Times) for MSN

Ethics

National: “Who’s Getting These Hundreds of Billions in the Government Aid? For Now, the Public May Be in the Dark.” by Peter Whoriskey and Heather Long (Washington Post) for Beaumont Enterprise

South Dakota: “South Dakota’s Governor Resisted Ordering People to Stay Home. Now It Has One of the Nation’s Largest Coronavirus Hot Spots.” by Griff Witte (Washington Post) for MSN

Lobbying

National: “Lobbyists, Political Consultants Sue U.S. for Coronavirus Bailout” by Robert Burnson (Bloomberg) for Washington Post

California: “FPPC Offers Guidance on Lobbying Filing Deadlines in Wake of COVID-19” by Staff for Vallejo Times-Herald

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April 14, 2020 •

Emergency Order Extends Austin Lobbyist Quarterly Reporting Deadline

Austin City Hall - by Carol M. Highsmith

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Steve Adler signed an additional emergency order on April 13. The new order suspends all deadlines imposed by city code, ordinance, rule, or other regulation until May 30. Under Section 7 of the […]

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Steve Adler signed an additional emergency order on April 13.

The new order suspends all deadlines imposed by city code, ordinance, rule, or other regulation until May 30.

Under Section 7 of the order, the deadline for all lobbyist quarterly activity reports has been extended from May 1 to May 30.

No late fees will be accrued for failure to file prior to May 30. 

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April 14, 2020 •

Tuesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance National: “Bloomberg Campaign Transfer of $18 Million to DNC Sparks Complaints to Federal Regulators” by Michelle Ye Hee Lee (Washington Post) for MSN Elections National: “Democrats Scramble to Close YouTube Deficit Amid Quarantine Campaign” by Alex Thompson for […]

Campaign Finance

National: “Bloomberg Campaign Transfer of $18 Million to DNC Sparks Complaints to Federal Regulators” by Michelle Ye Hee Lee (Washington Post) for MSN

Elections

National: “Democrats Scramble to Close YouTube Deficit Amid Quarantine Campaign” by Alex Thompson for Politico

National: “GOP Pushes Voting by Mail – with Restrictions – While Trump Attacks It as ‘Corrupt’” by Amy Gardenr and Elise Viebeck (Washington Post) for MSN

New Hampshire: “New Hampshire Governor to Allow Absentee Voting in November Because of Coronavirus Outbreak” by Amy Gardner and Colby Itkowitz (Washington Post) for MSN

Ethics

Wisconsin: “‘Not as Wisconsin Nice as We Used to Be’: The divisions in Dairyland” by Dionne Searcey (New York Times) for MSN

Legislative Issues

National: “Sidelined by Coronavirus Pandemic, Congress Cedes Stage and Authority to Trump” by Mike DeBonis and Paul Kane (Washington Post) for MSN

Lobbying

Florida: “Florida Ethics Panel Rejects COVID-19 Announcements Plan, Upholds Ban on Free Publicity or Exposure” by Jim Turner (News Service of Florida) for Orlando Weekly

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April 13, 2020 •

Monday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance South Carolina: “SC Ethics Commission Launches Investigation into Horry County Chairman Over Campaign Loan” by Tyler Fleming for Raleigh News and Observer Elections Georgia: “Georgia Further Delays Primary Election to June” by Max Greenwood for The Hill Ethics […]

Campaign Finance

South Carolina: “SC Ethics Commission Launches Investigation into Horry County Chairman Over Campaign Loan” by Tyler Fleming for Raleigh News and Observer

Elections

Georgia: “Georgia Further Delays Primary Election to June” by Max Greenwood for The Hill

Ethics

National: “Treasury’s Mnuchin ‘Properly’ Followed Guidance in Refusing to Give Trump’s Tax Returns to Congress, Inspector General Finds” by Jeff Stein, Erica Werner, and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) for MSN

Alabama: “Alabama Supreme Court Upholds 6 Counts Against Mike Hubbard, Reverses 5” by Melissa Brown for Montgomery Advertiser

Missouri: “Amid COVID-19 Funding Scramble, Missouri Senate Gets Ethics Panel Back on Track” by Kurt Erickson for St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Lobbying

National: “‘Choosing Winners and Losers’: Behind the battle to be deemed essential” by Theodoric Meyer and Anna Gronwold for Politico

New Jersey: “NJ Lawyer-Lobbyists Saw Big Payday in 2019, See Uncertainty For 2020” by Suzette Parmley for Law.com

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April 10, 2020 •

FPPC Offers Guidance on Lobbying Filing Deadlines in Wake of COVID-19

Sacramento, CA Skyline - Basil D Soufi

The California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) has issued an advisory encouraging people subject to lobbying registration and reporting requirements to continue to make the best efforts to timely file all legally required reports and statements. However, it may be […]

The California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) has issued an advisory encouraging people subject to lobbying registration and reporting requirements to continue to make the best efforts to timely file all legally required reports and statements.

However, it may be difficult for some to file statements and reports given the shelter-in-place order and other issues caused by the pandemic.

If circumstances caused by COVID-19 inhibit the filing of a lobbying report or statement, the filer should communicate these issues to the Office of the Secretary of State and document all attempts to file and the issues faced.

While quarterly lobbying reports are filed electronically, the law requires certain other statements be filed on paper with an original signature.

Restrictions imposed to fight the spread of COVID-19 may make the logistics of filing documents on paper with original signatures difficult or even impossible.

To the extent this is the case, people required to file lobbying forms on paper with original signatures are encouraged to make use of digital and electronic options for filing reports to ensure timely filing.

Paper statements with original signatures will need to be filed when feasible.

If a person with lobbying filing requirements makes best efforts to comply with the Political Reform Act’s lobbying registration and reporting rules but is unable to do so due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the FPPC will consider this a strong mitigating factor in determining whether an enforcement action against the person is appropriate.

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