April 5, 2021 •
The 2021 session of the Mississippi Legislature adjourned sine die on April 4. The session was mostly uneventful with most of the notable bills failing to pass including a proposal to overhaul the state tax system. Among the measures that […]
The 2021 session of the Mississippi Legislature adjourned sine die on April 4.
The session was mostly uneventful with most of the notable bills failing to pass including a proposal to overhaul the state tax system.
Among the measures that did pass were bills granting pay raises to teachers and an update to the state’s parole rules, which await the governor’s consideration.
This does affect lobbying reporting dates.
An end-of-session report is due on April 14, 10 days following adjournment sine die of the Legislature.
April 5, 2021 •
Elections Canada recently published the updated limits on expenses for regulated activities of third parties involved in federal elections in Canada. The Canada Elections Act imposes a limit on expenses a third party can incur for regulated political activities. For […]
Elections Canada recently published the updated limits on expenses for regulated activities of third parties involved in federal elections in Canada.
The Canada Elections Act imposes a limit on expenses a third party can incur for regulated political activities.
For the period of April 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022, a third party is prohibited from incurring overall election advertising expenses of a total amount of more than $525,700 during a general election. The previous limit was $521,850. For the same period of April 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022, a third party is prohibited from incurring election advertising expenses in a given electoral district of a total amount of more than $4,506 during a general election. The previous limit was $4,473.
Adjustments are made annually based on a formula of a base amount multiplied by the inflation adjustment factor in effect for the period.
April 5, 2021 •
Former Iowa state Sen. Rita Hart withdrew her challenge in a U.S. House race she lost to Republican Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks by six votes. Miller-Meeks was certified by the Iowa State Board of Canvassers as the winner after a full […]
Former Iowa state Sen. Rita Hart withdrew her challenge in a U.S. House race she lost to Republican Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks by six votes.
Miller-Meeks was certified by the Iowa State Board of Canvassers as the winner after a full recount, and provisionally seated pending the outcome of a challenge by her Democratic opponent, Hart.
After Hart’s announcement, the top Democrat on the House Administration Committee announced the panel would move to suspend its review of the race.
April 5, 2021 •
The 2021 regular session of the Kentucky General Assembly adjourned sine die on March 30. Among the measures passed is Senate Bill 6, which requires the executive branch ethics commission to establish standards of ethical conduct for all transition team […]
The 2021 regular session of the Kentucky General Assembly adjourned sine die on March 30.
Among the measures passed is Senate Bill 6, which requires the executive branch ethics commission to establish standards of ethical conduct for all transition team members, and to specifically address the role of transition team members who are or were registered lobbyists.
The bill requires transition team members to disclose positions held outside state government and all sources of compensation for the 12 months prior to transition team service.
This bill is effective June 28, 2021.
April 5, 2021 •
Campaign Finance National: “How Trump Steered Supporters into Unwitting Donations” by Shane Goldmacher for New York Times Georgia: “Georgia’s Republican Party Accused of Illegally Accepting In-Kind Contributions from an Election Integrity Nonprofit in a New FEC Complaint” by Grace Panetta […]
National: “How Trump Steered Supporters into Unwitting Donations” by Shane Goldmacher for New York Times
Georgia: “Georgia’s Republican Party Accused of Illegally Accepting In-Kind Contributions from an Election Integrity Nonprofit in a New FEC Complaint” by Grace Panetta (Business Insider) for Yahoo News
Iowa: “Iowa Democrat Drops Attempt to Contest House Race, Citing ‘Toxic Campaign of Political Disinformation’” by Marianna Sotomayer (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Gaetz Is Said to Have Boasted of His ‘Access to Women’ Provided by Friend Charged in Sex-Trafficking Case” by Michael Scherer and Matt Zapotosky (Washington Post) for MSN
Connecticut: “Jon Lender: $20,000 ethics fine paid two years after being levied on former UConn official, who awarded her husband a $53,000 fellowship” by Jon Lender (Hartford Courant) for MSN
Florida: “Former Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie Pleads Guilty to Misusing Office; Corruption Felonies Dropped” by Marc Freeman for South Florida Sun Sentinel
Georgia: “MLB All-Star Game Yanked from Georgia Over Voting Law” by Ronald Blume for Associated Press News
National: “Covid Survivors Look to Turn Grief into Lobbying Clout” by Alice Miranda Ollstein for Politico
Florida: “Who Is Lobbying to Change Florida’s Privacy Laws? That’s Private” by Matt Dixon for Politico
April 2, 2021 •
National/Federal Business Groups Rethinking Value of In-Person Lobbying The Hill – Alex Gangitano | Published: 3/31/2021 Before the pandemic, business groups held fly-ins that allowed for in-person meetings with members of Congress and agency officials. Trade associations are rethinking the need […]
Business Groups Rethinking Value of In-Person Lobbying
The Hill – Alex Gangitano | Published: 3/31/2021
Before the pandemic, business groups held fly-ins that allowed for in-person meetings with members of Congress and agency officials. Trade associations are rethinking the need for in-person lobbying and the travel costs that come with it. Many experts on K Street say engagement efforts are more likely to consist of a hybrid of meetings online and in Washington, D.C., along with fewer trips overall. Virtual fly-ins help lower the barrier of entry for advocacy because companies and groups are not spending as much as they otherwise would sending employees to Washington. In addition to reducing the cost of meeting with lawmakers, the pandemic has allowed for more meetings overall.
Cameron ‘Blocked Rule Change’ That Left ‘Open Door’ for Him to Lobby for Greensill
MSN – Kayleena Makortoff (Guardian) | Published: 3/29/2021
The Labour Party accused former British Prime Minister David Cameron of blocking rule changes that could have stopped him from personally lobbying government officials on behalf of collapsed lender Greensill Capital without publicly declaring his interests. The opposition party put forward amendments to the Lobbying Act that would have increased transparency and scrutiny of in-house lobbying. Rules only require third parties to log their efforts in the public register, while in-house lobbyists do not have to. The amendment, which would have required both groups to register, was defeated after Cameron, who was still prime minister, ordered Conservative peers to vote against the changes in January 2014, Labour said.
Corporations, Vocal About Racial Justice, Go Quiet on Voting Rights
New York Times – David Gelles | Published: 3/29/2021
As Black Lives Matter protesters filled the streets last summer, many of the country’s largest corporations expressed solidarity and pledged support for racial justice. But now, with lawmakers around the country advancing restrictive voting rights bills that would have a disproportionate impact on Black voters, corporate America has gone quiet. Its guarded approach stands in stark contrast to its engagement with other social and political issues in recent years. Many big companies spoke out against then-President Trump on issues including climate change, immigration, and white supremacy.
Court Voids Trump Campaign’s Non-Disclosure Agreement
Politico – Josh Gerstein | Published: 3/30/2021
A federal judge ruled a broad non-disclosure agreement that Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign required employees to sign is unenforceable. U.S. District Court Judge Paul Gardephe’s ruling generally steered clear of the constitutional issues presented by such agreements in the context of political campaigns. Instead, the judge said the sweeping, boilerplate language the campaign compelled employees to sign was so vague the agreement was invalid under New York contract law.
Dems Could Dethrone Iowa
Politico – Natasha Korecki and Holly Otterbein | Published: 3/31/2021
Democratic Party leaders are considering overhauling the 2024 presidential primary calendar, a transformation that would include ousting Iowa and New Hampshire from their perches as the first states to vote. Senior party leaders and Democratic National Committee members are privately exploring the idea of pushing South Carolina and Nevada to the front of the primary election schedule, as well as the possibility of multiple states holding the first nominating contest on the same day. Critics have long insisted that Iowa and New Hampshire have an outsized role in framing the presidential contest despite being unrepresentative of the rest of the country.
Dominion Voting Sues Fox for $1.6B Over 2020 Election Claims
Associated Press News – Colleen Long | Published: 3/25/2021
Dominion Voting Systems filed a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News, arguing the cable news giant falsely claimed to boost faltering ratings that the voting company had rigged the 2020 election. It is the first defamation suit filed against a media outlet by the voting company, which was a target of misleading, false, and bizarre claims spread by former President Trump and his allies in the aftermath of Trump’s loss to Joe Biden. Dominion argues Fox News, which amplified inaccurate assertions that Dominion altered votes, “sold a false story of election fraud in order to serve its own commercial purposes, severely injuring Dominion in the process,” according to the lawsuit.
Ethics Upholds Gohmert’s $5,000 Metal Detector Fine
The Hill – Cristina Marcos | Published: 3/30/2021
The House Committee on Ethics Committee upheld the $5,000 fine levied against U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert for bypassing a security screening to enter the House chamber. Gohmert appealed days after House Democrats voted to enact the punitive measure to enforce compliance with the metal detector screenings established following the January 6 insurrection. Gohmert stated in his appeal that he had complied with the security screening upon first entering the chamber on February 4. He then left the House floor briefly to use the restroom and was unaware that he had to undergo another screening upon reentering the chamber.
FEC Greenlights Campaign Spending for Bodyguards
Politico – Daniel Payne | Published: 3/25/2021
Members of Congress will now be allowed to hire bodyguards with campaign funds, according to a new ruling from the FEC. The agency said members of the House and Senate may spend campaign dollars to hire security personnel when they are not being protected by law enforcement on Capitol Hill. The FEC will also give more guidance to lawmakers on using campaign money for personal security needs beyond the hiring of bodyguards. “I’ve never thought of us as a country where the leadership of the country had to be surrounded by armed guards and needed to keep the public at arm’s length at all times,” said Commissioner Ellen Weintraub, who voted to approve the final ruling.
Gaetz Investigation Complicated by Overture to His Father About Ex-FBI Agent Who Went Missing
MSN – Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 3/31/2021
The Justice Department is investigating U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz over allegations he had sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and paid for her travel, though the probe has been complicated by Gaetz’s assertion his family is being extorted. The FBI separately is exploring the extortion claims that center around Robert Levinson, the longest-held American hostage in Iran. The investigation into Gaetz’s alleged relationship with the 17-year-old grew from a federal case against a different Florida Republican: Joel Greenberg, a former Seminole County tax collector who was charged last summer with sex trafficking of a child and other offenses.
GOP Donors Are Hobnobbing in Person Again; Dems Are Sticking to Zoom
Politico – Theodoric Meyer and Susannah Luthi | Published: 3/31/2021
A few Democrats have dipped their toes in the water with outdoor events, but the party has mostly stuck to virtual fundraisers. A list of more than 80 upcoming fundraisers for House Democrats sent out by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recently includes no in-person events, and a half-dozen Democratic lobbyists and consultants said they could not recall being invited to any such gatherings. Democrats’ caution poses a sharp contrast with a growing number of lawmakers on the Republican side of the aisle, who have been meeting in person with donors for weeks, if not months, and are showing no desire to slow down.
No ‘Dreamers’ Allowed: DACA recipients still can’t work for Congress
MSN – Jim Saska (Roll Call) | Published: 3/25/2021
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) allows undocumented immigrants known as “Dreamers,” who were brought to the U.S. as children, to apply for deportation relief if they meet certain criteria. It also allows them to file for a Social Security number, get a driver’s license, and apply for federal student financial aid. But an appropriations provision has prevented federal money from being used to pay noncitizens as federal employees, with few exceptions. Dreamers can get a job on Capitol Hill only if they are paid by third parties, as interns or fellows placed through groups like the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.
NRA Faces Internal Woes as It Girds for New Gun Control Fight
MSN – Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) | Published: 3/26/2021
In 2017, the National Rifle Association (NRA) celebrated its ascendant political power with a newly elected U.S. president, Donald Trump, who stood at the organization’s national convention lectern promising to deliver for the gun-rights group that had helped secure his election. Four years later, though, the NRA is confronting challenges that have undercut the power of the long-feared lobby organization, even as new gun control measures are proposed after two mass shootings. It has been plagued by allegations of self-dealing and is defending itself against a lawsuit filed by the New York attorney general that alleges the NRA violated its nonprofit status as its top leaders allegedly raided the group’s coffers for personal gain.
Trump Helped the GOP Raise $2 Billion. Now Former Aides and Allies Are Jockeying to Tap into His Fundraising Power.
MSN – Josh Dawsey, Ashley Parker, Michael Scherer, and Anu Narayanswamy (Washington Post) | Published: 3/28/2021
The number of independent money operations connected to former President Trump – some directly associated with him, others that have his tacit blessing – has been expanding since he left office. The groups, which include both nonprofits and super PACs, are seeking to capitalize on Trump’s fundraising firepower, which drove a record $2.2 billion into the three Republican Party campaign committees during his time in office. GOP officials are trying to keep that pipeline going, a prospect complicated by Trump’s ambivalence about letting the party continue to fundraise off his name and the separate fundraising efforts springing up around him, some of which could take aim at Republicans who have crossed the former president.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – Mark Finchem Sought to Overturn the Presidential Race. Now He Wants to Run Arizona’s Elections
MSN – Andrew Oxford (Arizona Republic) | Published: 3/29/2021
One of the leaders of an effort to overturn the results of the presidential race in Arizona wants to oversee the next presidential election as secretary of state. Rep. Mark Finchem filed a statement of interest to run for the post, the first official step in a campaign to become Arizona’s top election official. Finchem previously hinted he might run for the office, having gained notoriety with his support for former President Trump and his claims of wrongdoing in the last election.
California – How California’s Recall Rules Could Spell Trouble for Gavin Newsom
San Jose Mercury News – Ben Christopher (CALmatters) | Published: 3/8/2021
If recalls followed the rules of a normal California election – the person who wins a majority of the votes wins – then Gov. Gavin Newsom, an incumbent Democrat in a thoroughly Democratic state, would have nothing to worry about. But unfortunately for him, a recall is not like an ordinary California election. One part standard-issue candidate race, one part free-spending ballot measure campaign, California recalls adhere to a unique and some critics say, less than fully democratic procedure that makes for a much more unpredictable outcome.
Florida – Carla Miller Retiring from City Ethics Office
Jacksonville Daily Record – Max Marbut | Published: 3/29/2021
Carla Miller is retiring as director of Jacksonville’s Office of Ethics, Compliance and Oversight, effective October 1. Miller said that after 24 years of service to the city she will be putting more time into the nonprofit she established to promote ethics development and education and will assume a part-time role in the city ethics agency during the transition. Miller helped write the first ethics code for local government. The city also established a confidential whistleblower hotline to give city employees and the public a means to report suspected unethical activity.
Georgia – Georgia State Democratic Lawmaker Arrested While Trying to Watch Gov. Kemp Sign Voting Bill
MSN – Amy Wang and Teo Armus (Washington Post) | Published: 3/26/2021
State Rep. Park Cannon was arrested after trying to watch Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp sign a controversial new voting bill into law in a heated interaction that was caught on video. Facebook Live video shows Cannon knocking on the door to Kemp’s office as he was holding a news conference inside about Senate Bill 202, a sweeping set of restrictions on how ballots are cast and counted in Georgia. A spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Public Safety confirmed Cannon was arrested for obstructing law enforcement and preventing or disrupting General Assembly sessions or other meetings of members.
Hawaii – Five Honolulu Planning Department Employees Indicted for Bribery
Honolulu Civil Beat – Christina Jedra | Published: 3/30/2021
Five current and former Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting employees are facing federal charges for allegedly accepting bribes. A local architect has also been indicted in connection with the alleged scheme. Wayne Inouye, a former building plans examiner, allegedly solicited and accepted gifts, payments, and other things of value several times in the last decade. In exchange, he rewarded those paying the bribes with favorable treatment including expediting permit approvals, according to the indictment. Inouye took steps to hide his criminal activity including by using a sole proprietorship, the indictment states. The other indictments follow the same pattern.
Illinois – Chicago-Based Marijuana Giant Part of Federal Pay-to-Play Investigation
MSN – Jason Meisner and Ray Long (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 3/29/2021
A Chicago-based marijuana cultivator and dispenser that has rapidly grown into one of the nation’s biggest cannabis firms is under federal investigation for possible “pay-to-play” violations during its push for state licenses, sources said. Investigators have been scrutinizing campaign donations and other steps Green Thumb Industries (GTI) took as it sought to secure growing and distribution licenses in Illinois and several other states. Illinois records show GTI’s executives and affiliates have donated to politicians and a PAC that were instrumental in the marijuana legalization effort. The company also hired a succession of lobbyists and consultants with ties to then-House Speaker Michael Madigan.
Illinois – Former State Sen. Annazette Collins Indicted on Federal Tax Charges Stemming from Her Lobbying Income
MSN – Jason Meisner and Ray Long (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 3/31/2021
Former Illinois Sen. Annazette Collins was indicted on federal charges alleging she underreported income and failed to file federal income tax returns for her lobbying and consulting firm. The indictment was the latest brought in connection with the ongoing federal corruption probe into an alleged bribery scheme by Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) to influence then-House Speaker Michael Madigan. Collins was one of a number of ex-lawmakers hired by ComEd after retiring from public office, though the indictment does not specifically mention her work for the utility.
Illinois – Longtime Political Operative for Ald. Edward Burke, Former State Sen. Martin Sandoval Charged with Deceiving FBI
MSN – Jason Meisner | Published: 3/29/2021
A precinct captain for indicted Chicago Ald. Edward Burke and aide to former state Sen. Martin Sandoval was charged with misleading the FBI in its political corruption investigation in Illinois. According to the charge, Rudy Acosta Jr. failed to disclose in interviews with agents benefits both he and Sandoval received from another person including “free services, meals, and travel.” The information also stated that when Acosta was questioned by the FBI on six separate occasions, he hid the fact that he made “periodic cash payments” to Sandoval.
Kentucky – KY Legislature Passes Last-Minute Bill That Shields Information of Public Officials
MSN – Daniel Desrochers (Lexington Herald-Leader) | Published: 3/30/2021
The Kentucky House quickly passed legislation that would allow any police officer, prosecutor, and some court employees – and anyone related to them – to shield a wide array of personal information from the public. At 11 p.m. on the second to last day of the session, a floor amendment was introduced to Senate Bill 48, which had been filed that day, ensuring the public could not read it before lawmakers voted. The amendment was later passed by the Senate. Because it passed in the final two days of the session, lawmakers will not have the ability to override any potential veto.
Maryland – U.S. Attorney’s Office and FBI Investigating Marilyn and Nick Mosby
Baltimore Magazine – Ron Cassie | Published: 3/26/2021
Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby and her husband, city council President Nick Mosby, are the subject of a federal investigation into her campaign finances and the couple’s business records and taxes. As part of the wide-ranging probe, the U.S. attorney’s office and the FBI have served several subpoenas seeking financial records related to the couple’s tax returns from 2014-2020, loan documents, bank and investment statements, credit card files, information related to their consulting and travel businesses, as well as copies of all campaign finance records related to Mosby’s campaign organization, the Friends of Marilyn Mosby.
Massachusetts – Judge Denies Bid by Senator, Wife to Block Officials from Referring Probe into Them to State Prosecutors
MSN – Matt Stout | Published: 3/30/2021
Suffolk Superior Court Judge Christine Roach denied a request from a state senator that she temporarily block campaign finance regulators from referring an investigation into him, his wife, and other family members to prosecutors. Roach also declined a request by state Sen. Ryan Fattman and others that the Office of Campaign and Political Finance provide them with “all” the evidence that Director Michael Sullivan has compiled against them. The judge wrote the Fattmans have “no reasonable likelihood of success” proving Sullivan violated state law by not turning over all the evidence, or he violated their due process by not recusing himself from the probe, as they have demanded.
Missouri – For Sexual Assault Survivors, Greitens’ Return Can Mean Fresh Trauma, Experts Say
McClatchyDC.com – Bryan Lowry and Jeanne Kuang | Published: 3/28/2021
Dee Ogilvy was sexually assaulted 42 years ago at her place of work. The police never made an arrest in the case and a shoulder injury from the attack still gives her pain. Ogilvy said she is disgusted to see former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens campaigning for a U.S. Senate seat less than three years after allegations of blackmail and sexual assault helped lead to his resignation. His return comes as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo defies calls for his resignation after allegations of sexual misconduct from at least 10 women.
Missouri – Former Missouri House Representative Gets 21 Months in Prison for Misusing Campaign Funds
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Robert Patrick | Published: 3/31/2021
Former Missouri Rep. Courtney Curtis was sentenced to 21 months in prison for misusing campaign funds for personal expenses and was ordered to repay $47,867. He filed false campaign finance reports to cover up his crimes. Before sentencing Curtis, the judge tallied up the 822 financial transactions representing misuse of campaign funds, including cash withdrawals in or near casinos.
Missouri – Missouri Curator Worried He’d Lose Seat If Didn’t ‘Play Ball’ with Controversial Lobbyist
Kansas City Star – Rudi Keller (Missouri Independent) | Published: 3/31/2021
University of Missouri Curator David Steelman raised objections that one of the system’s lobbyists, former House Speaker Steve Tilley, was using his connections to the university to seek business for other clients. Steelman called the arrangement “an obvious conflict,” and openly worried if he did not “play ball” he would lose his seat on the nine-member board that governs the university system. His term is expired, and he remains on the board until a replacement is confirmed by the Missouri Senate. Gov. Mike Parson nominated Keith Holloway for Steelman’s seat. Tilley, who both lobbies state government and provides campaign consulting services, has been paid $5,000 a month since February 2019 to lobby for the system.
New Mexico – New Mexico Lawmakers Snub Lobbying Transparency. In Other States, It’s Business as Usual.
New Mexico In Depth – Brian Metzger | Published: 3/26/2021
In a 2015 report, the Center for Public Integrity gave New Mexico a grade of “F” for lobbying disclosure, the 43rd worst in the country. It has not improved since then and lawmakers did not give the topic a full hearing during the 2021 legislative session. One argument made in opposition to increased disclosure is that it would be excessively burdensome for lobbyists. Another fear is greater disclosure will dampen public participation in the legislative process or harm a lobbyist’s effectiveness. But in the neighboring state of Colorado, the sort of transparency proposed for New Mexico is just business as usual.
New York – ‘Apprentice’ Contestant’s Lawsuit Against Trump Can Resume, N.Y. Court Says
MSN – Shayna Jacobs (Washington Post) | Published: 3/30/2021
The New York State Court of Appeals ruled a defamation case against former President Trump, brought by an “Apprentice” contestant who alleged he sexually assaulted her years ago, can go forward as the immunity claim he raised while in office no longer applies. The defense was raised in the lawsuit brought by Summer Zervos and in other long-running cases still facing Trump. Zervos alleges Trump, who hosted the popular reality show, smeared her when she came forward with the sexual assault allegation. In denying her claims, Trump said Zervos lied and suggested she was motivated by money.
New York – Bannon Criminal Probe in N.Y. Includes Embedded Investigators from State Attorney General’s Office
MSN – Shayna Jacobs (Washington Post) | Published: 3/26/2021
The New York attorney general’s office has partnered with Manhattan’s district attorney to investigate Stephen Bannon for the alleged fundraising scam that prompted his federal pardon in the waning hours of Donald Trump’s presidency, according to people familiar with the matter. The move adds prosecutorial firepower to a criminal case widely seen as an attempted end-run around the former president’s bid to protect a political ally. Attorney General Letitia James has built a reputation, in part, around her promises to hold Trump and his associates accountable for alleged misdeeds. Presidential pardons do not apply to state investigations.
New York – N.Y. State Sen. Brian Benjamin’s Campaign Expenses Raise Questions About Propriety
New York Daily News – Michael Gartland | Published: 3/28/2021
New York Sen. Brian Benjamin used money from his Senate campaign account to pay for “constituent services” at a Harlem jazz club at almost exactly the same time he and his wife held their wedding celebration there, raising questions about whether the lawmaker may have abused campaign finance rules. Benjamin is running for New York City comptroller. His campaign returned more than a dozen contributions after people listed as donors claimed they never gave to him.
New York – Seven Months Later, Cuomo Administration Divulges Details About His Covid-19 Book Deal
Buffalo News – Tom Precious | Published: 3/31/2021
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was given permission by the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) in July to write a book about his handling of state government during the first wave of Covid-19, as long as the subject matter of the book was “unrelated to the governor’s duties” in office, according to state documents. The New York Times reported Cuomo used top aides and junior staffers for help on his book project. JCOPE specifically told Cuomo he could not use state “personnel” or property “for activities associated with the book.”
North Dakota – Transparency Advocates Raise Concerns Over North Dakota Redistricting Plan
Grand Forks Herald – Jeremy Turley | Published: 3/26/2021
Later this year, a group of top North Dakota lawmakers will redraw the state’s political boundaries for the next decade. The exercise always attracts the attention of incumbent legislators and civically minded residents, but several transparency advocates worry the redistricting plan will be formed behind closed doors and without the public’s input. The Republican-backed bill to establish the legislative redistricting process states drafts of the redistricting plan are exempt from open records laws until they are presented to the full Legislature.
Ohio – Ohio Campaign-Finance Reform Bill Gets First Look Since Emergence of Dark Money Scandal
MSN – Andrew Tobias (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 3/25/2021
The Ohio House is taking up a bill that would impose tougher disclosure requirements on corporate political donors, a move to increase campaign finance transparency in the aftermath of the House Bill 6 scandal. House Bill 13 would require political nonprofits and other corporate groups to disclose their donors and spending with the Ohio secretary of state’s office, similar to PACs or candidates. Among the groups it would affect are 5019(c)4s, nonprofits often used as vehicles for “dark money” spending.
Ohio – Top Columbus Zoo Officials Resign Following Dispatch Investigation
MSN – Jennifer Smola and Alissa Widman Neese (Columbus Dispatch) | Published: 3/29/2021
Tom Stalf resigned as chief executive officer of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and Greg Bell stepped down as chief financial officer after a media investigation found they misused the zoo’s resources. They allowed relatives to live in houses owned or controlled by the zoo for below-market rent in exchange for the residents making improvements to the property. Stalf and Bell sought the use of the zoo’s suites and tickets to local entertainment venues for themselves and their family members. Most of the tickets requested were available through the zoo’s marketing contracts with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Ohio State University and were intended for hosting financial supporters of the zoo.
South Carolina – Former SC Governor, Congressman Sanford Joins Lobbying Firm
Associated Press News – Meg Kinnard | Published: 3/30/2021
Mark Sanford, the former South Carolina governor, member of Congress, and one-time presidential candidate, is going to work for a lobbying firm. Shumaker Advisors announced Sanford would be joining the firm as an executive vice president and principal. The government relations arm of a law firm, Shumaker Advisors operates seven offices in Ohio, Florida, Michigan, and the Carolinas. Sanford has been working to find a foothold since end of the most recent iteration of his political career. Sanford was elected twice as governor before an extramarital affair marred the end of his second term.
Texas – GOP Candidate from New Jersey Accused of Pandering After He Transforms into Cowboy for Texas Run
MSN – Meryl Kornfield (Washington Post) | Published: 3/28/2021
Dan Rodimer has led many lives, but his latest – a cowboy hat-wearing, Southern-drawling bull rider – might be the most extreme transformation to date. In his first ad as a candidate for Texas’s Sixth Congressional District, “Big Dan” Rodimer speaks in a gravelly, indistinct Southern accent, throws jabs at Democratic policies, and compares House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to a bull he is supposedly riding in the ad. But the New Jersey native did not have the twang last year when he ran for Congress in Nevada. He has remade himself again on a road he hopes will lead to Congress, though his latest persona has earned him ridicule, even from fellow Republicans.
Texas – Lawsuit Challenges Austin’s Fundraising Rules for Political Candidates
MSN – Ryan Autullo (Austin American-Statesman) | Published: 3/26/2021
A new federal lawsuit revives a challenge to city of Austin rules that prohibit candidates from accepting political contributions until one year before an election. Fundraising blackouts are designed to prevent corruption and the perception of wrongdoing by limiting the window individual donors and businesses are permitted to give money to elected officials. Unlike Texas lawmakers who are in session every other year, city council members meet year-round and regularly vote on matters that could be influenced by donors making financial promises.
Utah – Salt Lake County GOP Forms Ethics Committee in Response to Harassment Allegations
Salt Lake Tribune – Bryan Schott | Published: 3/30/2021
The Salt Lake County Republican Party is forming an ethics advisory committee in the wake of multiple women alleging leadership took no action to address their complaints of harassment and bullying. Former GOP Chairperson Scott Miller resigned in the wake of a Salt Lake Tribune story about complaints he did nothing to stop inappropriate behavior by his communications director, Dave Robinson, during his tenure at the helm of the party. Miller also sent out an email to Republican delegates denigrating the women who came forward with allegations, questioning their motives. Miller later apologized in the face of widespread condemnation.
Washington – Don Benton, Ex-Washington State Senator and Trump Ally, Behind Mystery Mailer
Seattle Times – Joseph O’Sullivan | Published: 3/31/2021
Former Washington Sen. Don Benton, who served in the Trump administration, is responsible for a recent mailer that criticizes Democratic lawmakers for a proposed change to the state’s estate tax. State law requires a sponsor to be listed on campaign mailers. But that is not necessary for communications known as grassroots lobbying, which focus instead on the debate over legislative proposals. In that case, the citizen complaints alleging a lack of disclosure information might not apply.
April 1, 2021 •
On April 1, the United States Supreme Court unanimously decided automatic text messages sent to telephone numbers culled from a database of a sender, in this case from Facebook, and not from a system having the capacity either to store […]
On April 1, the United States Supreme Court unanimously decided automatic text messages sent to telephone numbers culled from a database of a sender, in this case from Facebook, and not from a system having the capacity either to store or to produce a telephone number using a random or sequential number generator, is not prohibited under The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA).
While this decision does not apply to robocalls, it does seem to permit those in political campaigns to allow voice calls and text messages, taken from their databases, to be automatically made from technology not using a random or sequential number generator without fear of violating the TCPA.
In Facebook, Inc. v. Duguid, Noah Duguid, who had never created a Facebook account, continually received text messages from Facebook. Duguid alleged that Facebook violated the TCPA by maintaining a database storing phone numbers and sending automated text messages from that database. In a 9-0 decision, the court agreed with Facebook’s technical argument that the TCPA does not apply because the technology it used to text Duguid did not use a “random or sequential number generator.”
The TCPA was enacted to prevent the abuse of telemarketing made with an “automatic telephone dialing system” and other troublesome tactics.
April 1, 2021 •
Georgia’s 2021 Legislative session adjourned sine die on March 31. Among the measures passed is Senate Bill 202, which was signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp on March 25 and made sweeping changes to the State’s voting laws, including […]
Georgia’s 2021 Legislative session adjourned sine die on March 31.
Among the measures passed is Senate Bill 202, which was signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp on March 25 and made sweeping changes to the State’s voting laws, including bans on mass mailings of unsolicited absentee ballot requests and polling places on buses among other changes.
Another controversial bill, Senate Bill 221, also passed and currently awaits gubernatorial approval.
Senate Bill 221 allows certain elected officials to chair and register PACs called a leadership committee which is not subject to the in-session contribution ban.
Further, contributions to and expenditures by these leadership committees are not subject to the state’s contribution limits.
Governor Kemp will have just over a month to consider action on Senate Bill 221, as well as, the other bills passed during the session.
April 1, 2021 •
I am pleased to share the news State and Federal Communications has acquired the lobbying compliance reporting business of MER Consulting Services, LLC, from its owner and founder, Mary Roche. MER has been a fixture in Massachusetts lobbying compliance reporting […]
I am pleased to share the news State and Federal Communications has acquired the lobbying compliance reporting business of MER Consulting Services, LLC, from its owner and founder, Mary Roche.
MER has been a fixture in Massachusetts lobbying compliance reporting and consulting, having served local organizations and leading companies in the state since 2001. She has had a very successful career in this field.
This move allows Mary to wind down her career, while ensuring a solid transition for her clients to continue receiving professional and thorough political reporting and lobbying consulting services, plus additional support from our larger research and compliance staffs.
Mary will stay on with State and Federal Communications as a consultant in the year ahead as the transition takes place to ensure clients’ reporting needs are adequately served.
I personally am enthused about this development! It will allow State and Federal Communications to continue to grow our business by doing what we do best…providing top-tier and trusted political compliance services. It is a positive endorsement Mary has put her faith in our capabilities to take care of the lobbying compliance reporting needs of her Massachusetts clients.
For the full story, please read the media press release announcement.
April 1, 2021 •
Campaign Finance National: “GOP Donors Are Hobnobbing in Person Again; Dems Are Sticking to Zoom” by Theodoric Meyer and Susannah Luthi for Politico Missouri: “Former Missouri House Representative Gets 21 Months in Prison for Misusing Campaign Funds” by Robert Patrick […]
National: “GOP Donors Are Hobnobbing in Person Again; Dems Are Sticking to Zoom” by Theodoric Meyer and Susannah Luthi for Politico
Missouri: “Former Missouri House Representative Gets 21 Months in Prison for Misusing Campaign Funds” by Robert Patrick for St. Louis Post-Dispatch
National: “Court Voids Trump Campaign’s Non-Disclosure Agreement” by Josh Gerstein for Politico
National: “Ethics Upholds Gohmert’s $5,000 Metal Detector Fine” by Cristina Marcos for The Hill
Hawaii: “Five Honolulu Planning Department Employees Indicted for Bribery” by Christina Jedra for Honolulu Civil Beat
Kentucky: “KY Legislature Passes Last-Minute Bill That Shields Information of Public Officials” by Daniel Desrochers (Lexington Herald-Leader) for MSN
Missouri: “For Sexual Assault Survivors, Greitens’ Return Can Mean Fresh Trauma, Experts Say” by Bryan Lowry and Jeanne Kuang for McClatchyDC.com
New York: “As Cuomo Sought $4 Million Book Deal, Aides Hid Damaging Death Toll” by Jesse McKinley, Danny Hakim, and Alexandra Alter for New York Times
National: “Business Groups Rethinking Value of In-Person Lobbying” by Alex Gangitano for The Hill
Illinois: “Former State Sen. Annazette Collins Indicted on Federal Tax Charges Stemming from Her Lobbying Income” by Jason Meisner and Ray Long (Chicago Tribune) for MSN
March 31, 2021 •
Campaign Finance Illinois: “Chicago-Based Marijuana Giant Part of Federal Pay-to-Play Investigation” by Jason Meisner and Ray Long (Chicago Tribune) for MSN Elections Arizona: “Mark Finchem Sought to Overturn the Presidential Race. Now He Wants to Run Arizona’s Elections” by Andrew […]
Illinois: “Chicago-Based Marijuana Giant Part of Federal Pay-to-Play Investigation” by Jason Meisner and Ray Long (Chicago Tribune) for MSN
Arizona: “Mark Finchem Sought to Overturn the Presidential Race. Now He Wants to Run Arizona’s Elections” by Andrew Oxfors (Arizona Republic) for MSN
National: “Matt Gaetz Under Investigation Over Possible Sex Trafficking” by Michael Schmidt, Katie Benner, and Nicholas Fandos (New York Times) for MSN
Florida: “Carla Miller Retiring from City Ethics Office” by Max Marbut for Jacksonville Daily Record
Illinois: “Longtime Political Operative for Ald. Edward Burke, Former State Sen. Martin Sandoval Charged with Deceiving FBI” by Jason Meisner for MSN
New York: “New Accounts Detail How New York Health Officials Were Told to Prioritize Coronavirus Testing of People Connected to Andrew Cuomo” by Amy Brittain, Josh Dawsey, and Sarah Ellison (Washington Post) for MSN
Ohio: “Top Columbus Zoo Officials Resign Following Dispatch Investigation” by Jennifer Smola and Alissa Widman Neese (Columbus Dispatch) for MSN
Europe: “Cameron ‘Blocked Rule Change’ That Left ‘Open Door’ for Him to Lobby for Greensill” by Kayleena Makortoff (Guardian) for MSN
South Carolina: “Former SC Governor, Congressman Sanford Joins Lobbying Firm” by Meg Kinnard for Associated Press News
March 30, 2021 •
The 96th session of the South Dakota Legislature adjourned sine die on March 29. During the session, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 112, permitting the governor to fill vacancies in several state offices by appointment with the advice and consent […]
The 96th session of the South Dakota Legislature adjourned sine die on March 29.
During the session, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 112, permitting the governor to fill vacancies in several state offices by appointment with the advice and consent of the Senate.
If the Legislature is in recess, the governor is authorized to make a temporary appointment until the next session.
Also, House Joint Resolution 5003 submits a constitutional amendment to voters at the next primary election to require a three-fifths vote of the Legislature for any initiated constitutional amendment or measure that increases taxes or obligates the state to appropriate funds of $10 million or more in any of the first five fiscal years after enactment.
If passed, the constitutional amendment would be effective upon voter approval.
March 30, 2021 •
Campaign Finance National: “Trump Helped the GOP Raise $2 Billion. Now Former Aides and Allies Are Jockeying to Tap into His Fundraising Power.” by Josh Dawsey, Ashley Parker, Michael Scherer, and Anu Narayanswamy (Washington Post) for MSN Massachusetts: “State Officials […]
National: “Trump Helped the GOP Raise $2 Billion. Now Former Aides and Allies Are Jockeying to Tap into His Fundraising Power.” by Josh Dawsey, Ashley Parker, Michael Scherer, and Anu Narayanswamy (Washington Post) for MSN
Massachusetts: “State Officials Are Investigating Senator, Wife for Potential Campaign Finance Violations” by Matt Sout (Boston Globe) for MSN
New York: “N.Y. State Sen. Brian Benjamin’s Campaign Expenses Raise Questions About Propriety” by Michael Gartland for New York Daily News
National: “Corporations, Vocal About Racial Justice, Go Quiet on Voting Rights” by David Gelles for New York Times
California: “How California’s Recall Rules Could Spell Trouble for Gavin Newsom” by Ben Christopher (CALmatters) for San Jose Mercury News
Texas: “GOP Candidate from New Jersey Accused of Pandering After He Transforms into Cowboy for Texas Run” by Meryl Kornfield for MSN
Maryland: “U.S. Attorney’s Office and FBI Investigating Marilyn and Nick Mosby” by Ron Cassie for Baltimore Magazine
National: “NRA Faces Internal Woes as It Girds for New Gun Control Fight” by Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) for MSN
North Dakota: “Transparency Advocates Raise Concerns Over North Dakota Redistricting Plan” by Jeremy Turley for Grand Forks Herald
March 29, 2021 •
Campaign Finance National: “FEC Greenlights Campaign Spending for Bodyguards” by Daniel Payne for Politico Ohio: “Ohio Campaign-Finance Reform Bill Gets First Look Since Emergence of Dark Money Scandal” by Andrew Tobias (Cleveland Plain Dealer) for MSN Texas: “Lawsuit Challenges Austin’s […]
National: “FEC Greenlights Campaign Spending for Bodyguards” by Daniel Payne for Politico
Ohio: “Ohio Campaign-Finance Reform Bill Gets First Look Since Emergence of Dark Money Scandal” by Andrew Tobias (Cleveland Plain Dealer) for MSN
Texas: “Lawsuit Challenges Austin’s Fundraising Rules for Political Candidates” by Ryan Autullo (Austin American-Statesman) for MSN
National: “Dominion Voting Sues Fox for $1.6B Over 2020 Election Claims” by Colleen Long for Associated Press News
Georgia: “Georgia State Democratic Lawmaker Arrested While Trying to Watch Gov. Kemp Sign Voting Bill” by Amy Wang and Teo Armus (Washington Post) for MSN
New York: “Bannon Criminal Probe in N.Y. Includes Embedded Investigators from State Attorney General’s Office” by Shayna Jacobs (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “No ‘Dreamers’ Allowed: DACA recipients still can’t work for Congress” by Jim Saska (Roll Call) for MSN
New Mexico: “New Mexico Lawmakers Snub Lobbying Transparency. In Other States, It’s Business as Usual.” by Brian Metzger for New Mexico In Depth
State and Federal Communications, Inc. provides research and consulting services for government relations professionals on lobbying laws, procurement lobbying laws, political contribution laws in the United States and Canada. Learn more by visiting stateandfed.com