May 14, 2019 •

Tuesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance National: “Duped into Making a Bogus Campaign Donation? Call a Prosecutor” by Kenneth Doyle for Bloomberg Government Oklahoma: “Does Citizens United Apply to Cherokee Nation Election Campaigns? Hearing Set to Consider Possible Disqualification of Cherokee Chief Candidate David […]

Campaign Finance

National: “Duped into Making a Bogus Campaign Donation? Call a Prosecutor” by Kenneth Doyle for Bloomberg Government

Oklahoma: “Does Citizens United Apply to Cherokee Nation Election Campaigns? Hearing Set to Consider Possible Disqualification of Cherokee Chief Candidate David Walkingstick” by Corey Jones for Tulsa World

Oregon: “Prosecutor’s $500 Donation to Judge’s Campaign Draws Ethics Complaint” by Aimee Green for Portland Oregonian

Ethics

National: “Rudy Giuliani Cancels His Trip to Ukraine, Blaming Democrats’ ‘Spin’” by Kenneth Vogel (New York Times) for MSN

National: “White House Asked McGahn to Declare Trump Never Obstructed Justice” by Michael Schmidt (New York Times) for MSN

National: “Trump and His Allies Are Blocking More Than 20 Separate Democratic Probes in an All-Out War with Congress” by Rachael Bade and Seung Min Kim (Washington Post) for MSN

Missouri: “St. Louis Economic Development Chief Pleads Guilty in Pay-to-Play Scheme; Stenger Donor Indicted” by Robert Patrick and Jeremy Kohler for St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Lobbying

Canada: “Watchdog Warns Lobbyists About Partisan Fundraisers, Expressing Political Views” by Carl Meyer for National Observer

Procurement

Mississippi: “Pay to Play? Why Did Mississippi Lawmakers Give This Company So Much Education Money?” by Giacomo Bologna for Jackson Clarion-Ledger

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May 10, 2019 •

News You Can Use Digest – May 10, 2019

    National/Federal A Lawsuit About Trump and the NRA Could Upend How the Government Polices Campaign Finance Mother Jones – Nihal Krishan | Published: 5/1/2019 A lawsuit involving the National Rifle Association (NRA) is poised to act as a major […]

 

 

National/Federal

A Lawsuit About Trump and the NRA Could Upend How the Government Polices Campaign Finance
Mother Jones – Nihal Krishan | Published: 5/1/2019

A lawsuit involving the National Rifle Association (NRA) is poised to act as a major test for the FEC chairperson’s new strategy to force the agency to take more aggressive action to police campaign finance law. Chairperson Ellen Weintraub’s recent statements make it clear she does not plan on voting to defend the FEC in any cases involving delays in action. If she follows through, it would result in the first instance of her utilizing a new strategy to effectively sabotage her own agency in order to enforce campaign finance law, a move that one former FEC lawyer termed the “nuclear option.” It is not exactly clear what will happen in court after Weintraub decides not to use legal resources to defend her agency, but it is likely a judge will force the FEC to act and consider investigating the NRA for potential campaign finance violations.

Biden Faces Dilemma Over K Street Allies
The Hill – Alex Gangitano | Published: 5/3/2019

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s strong support from K Street poses a tough dilemma for his campaign. The influence world is stocked with former aides and supporters who have rallied around his previous bids for president. In this cycle, though, those lobbyist ties, past fundraising from corporate interests, and perceptions that Biden is more favorable to businesses could hurt his bid for the Democratic nomination. Biden has quickly solidified his Democratic front-runner status and focused his attention on President Trump. His campaign has said he will not take money from lobbyists and corporate PACs, but that is unlikely to be enough for progressive groups in the primary who have larger concerns about the candidate.

Desperate Drive to Make the Debate Stage Shakes Dem Campaigns
Politico – Elena Schneider | Published: 5/6/2019

There is a desperate scramble by presidential candidates to make it past a new threshold set by the Democratic National Committee – 65,000 individual donors – to the first primary debates in June and July. The televised debates could be make-or-break showcases, and the requirement has reshaped the strategy of candidates struggling to cross the donor mark. Such is the importance of the debates that some presidential campaigns have decided to prioritize Facebook advertising over hiring staffers in early states. Others noted the rules prioritize chasing viral moments early in the campaign over building traditional vote-getting infrastructure in Iowa and New Hampshire. But defenders of the new rules say they have just forced campaigns to prove they can compete in the 21st century before the election year.

Donald Trump Jr. Is Subpoenaed to Testify to Senate Panel on Russia Contacts
New York Times – Mark Mazzetti and Maggie Haberman | Published: 5/8/2019

The Senate Intelligence Committee has subpoenaed Donald Trump Jr., who met with Russians in June 2016 after being promised political dirt about Hillary Clinton. He is the first of President Trump’s children to be subpoenaed in the continuing congressional investigations into Russia’s 2016 election interference, and the move by the Republican-led committee is a sign some members of the president’s party are not aligned with his desire for a swift end to all of the inquiries. The committee is particularly interested in Trump Jr.’s account of the events surrounding the Trump Tower meeting, as well as his role in his father’s efforts to build a skyscraper in Moscow and comparing the testimony to his previous answers to Senate investigators in 2017.

Driverless Car Industry Luring Federal Safety Brass
Politico – Tanya Snider | Published: 5/5/2019

Driverless car companies are racing to scoop up top federal safety officials to fill out their ranks of advisers and lobbyists, creating worries that the fledgling industry will use its newly acquired influence to shape the coming wave of government regulations. Companies like Uber, Lyft, General Motors and Google’s sibling Waymo have hired a phalanx of current and former Washington officials, including Obama administration Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, several highway regulators, and two former chairs of the National Transportation Safety Board, the federal agency that investigates deadly crashes. One notable exception from the trend of self-driving companies hiring federal safety officials is Tesla.

Driverless Car Industry Luring Federal Safety Brass
Politico – Tanya Snider | Published: 5/5/2019

Driverless car companies are racing to scoop up top federal safety officials to fill out their ranks of advisers and lobbyists, creating worries that the fledgling industry will use its newly acquired influence to shape the coming wave of government regulations. Companies like Uber, Lyft, General Motors and Google’s sibling Waymo have hired a phalanx of current and former Washington officials, including Obama administration Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, several highway regulators, and two former chairs of the National Transportation Safety Board, the federal agency that investigates deadly crashes. One notable exception from the trend of self-driving companies hiring federal safety officials is Tesla.

Driverless Car Industry Luring Federal Safety Brass
Politico – Tanya Snider | Published: 5/5/2019

Driverless car companies are racing to scoop up top federal safety officials to fill out their ranks of advisers and lobbyists, creating worries that the fledgling industry will use its newly acquired influence to shape the coming wave of government regulations. Companies like Uber, Lyft, General Motors and Google’s sibling Waymo have hired a phalanx of current and former Washington officials, including Obama administration Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, several highway regulators, and two former chairs of the National Transportation Safety Board, the federal agency that investigates deadly crashes. One notable exception from the trend of self-driving companies hiring federal safety officials is Tesla.

Drugmakers Will Have to Reveal Medication Prices in TV Ads
AP News – Ricardo Alonso-Saldivar | Published: 5/8/2019

Television ads for prescription drugs will soon reveal prices, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said, responding to a public outcry for government action to restrain medication costs. Azar said the Trump administration has finalized regulations that will require drug companies to disclose list prices of medications costing more than $35 for a month’s supply. Drug pricing details are expected to appear in text toward the end of commercials, when potential side effects are disclosed. The government is hoping that patients armed with prices will start discussing affordability with their doctors, and gradually that will put pressure on drug makers to keep costs in check.

F.B.I. Sent Investigator Posing as Assistant to Meet with Trump Aide in 2016
MSN – Adam Goldman, Michael Schmidt, and Mark Mazzetti (New York Times) | Published: 5/2/2019

The conversation at a London bar in September 2016 took a strange turn when the woman sitting across from George Papadopoulos, a Donald Trump campaign adviser, asked if the Trump campaign was working with Russia. The woman had set up the meeting to discuss foreign policy issues, but she was a government investigator posing as a research assistant. The FBI sent her to London as part of the counterintelligence inquiry opened that summer to better understand the Trump campaign’s links to Russia. The U.S. government’s affiliation with the woman is one previously unreported detail of an operation that has become a political flash point in the face of accusations by Trump and his allies that American law enforcement and intelligence officials spied on his campaign to undermine his electoral chances.

FDA Approves the First Vaccine for Dengue Fever, but with Major Restrictions
STAT – Helen Branswell | Published: 5/1/2019

The FDA approved the first vaccine against dengue fever, one that protects against a common disease but has generated significant controversy due to evidence it can increase the risk of severe infection in some people. The agency ruled that Dengvaxia can only be used in individuals aged nine to 16 living in parts of the U.S. where the dengue virus is endemic – in other words, where it circulates on an ongoing basis. Dengue is found only in Puerto Rico and a few other offshore territories and protectorates. Furthermore, the vaccine can only be given to children and teens who have had one previous laboratory-confirmed case of dengue. The various restrictions mean the U.S. market for the vaccine is smaller still than the already modest market Sanofi had sought. Still, the company said it was pleased by the FDA’s decision.

Foreign Agents Introduced Ukranian Politician to US Political Figures in Secretive Lobbying Arrangement
Center for Responsive Politics – Anna Massoglia | Published: 5/8/2018

New Foreign Agent Registration Act records reveal foreign agents and lobbyists on the payroll of Livingston Group, a lobbying firm run by former U.S. Rep. Bob Livingston, played a previously unreported role in former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s meetings with lawmakers during a December 2018 trip to Washington, D.C. That week, former U.S. Rep.-turned-lobbyist Bob McEwen also quietly introduced Tymoshenko to former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s attorney who joined Trump’s personal legal team amidst special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Giuliani is under scrutiny for his simultaneous “shadow lobbying” operations for foreign clients, including Ukrainian interests.

House Panel Approves Contempt for Barr After Trump Claims Privilege Over Full Mueller Report
MSN – Nicholas Fandos (New York Times) | Published: 5/8/2019

The House Judiciary Committee voted to recommend the House hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over special counsel Robert Mueller’s unredacted report, hours after President Trump asserted executive privilege to shield the full report and underlying evidence from Congress. The committee’s vote, taken after hours of debate over the future of American democracy, was the first official House action to punish a government official in the standoff over the Mueller report. The Justice Department denounced the move as unnecessary and intended to stoke a fight. After the vote, Judiciary Committee Chairperson Jerrold Nadler swatted away questions about possible impeachment, but added, “We are now in a constitutional crisis.”

Lawmakers Seek to Curb Foreign Influence by Closing Online Political Ad Loopholes
Center for Responsive Politics – Carl Evers-Hillstrom | Published: 5/8/2019

Lawmakers introduced a bill meant to close digital political advertisement loopholes that enabled Russian actors to meddle in the 2016 presidential election. U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Lindsay Graham introduced the 2019 Honest Ads Act, which would mandate disclosure of those paying for online political ads and create a publicly available database of political ads that appear on major online platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. The bill would encourage major platforms to ensure that foreign entities are not buying political ads. It was introduced with the backing of several campaign finance watchdog groups.

Trump Endorsed a Super PAC Supporting Him – and Here’s Why That Might Not Be a Legal Problem
Washington Post – Michelle Ye Hee Lee | Published: 5/8/2019

President Trump publicly endorsed America First Action, a super PAC run by his allies that aims to raise millions of dollars to ensure his second term. Candidates and the independent super PACs that support them have increasingly found ways to work together without breaking laws barring outright coordination. But the Trump re-election campaign’s statement appeared to go further than any other. When it opened the door to super PACs with its Citizens United decision, the Supreme Court said unlimited donations for independent political spending could not be corrupting because it would not be coordinated with candidates. But Trump, advocates said, is taking advantage of a legal gray area that candidate committees and super PACs have used to stretch the legal boundaries of how much they can work in tandem with each other.

Trump Would Have Been Charged with Obstruction Were He Not President, Hundreds of Former Federal Prosecutors Assert
MSN – Matt Zapotosky (Washington Post) | Published: 5/6/2019

More than 370 former federal prosecutors who worked in Republican and Democratic administrations have signed on to a statement asserting special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings would have produced obstruction charges against President Trump, if not for the office he held. The statement, signed by myriad former career government employees as well as high-profile political appointees, offers a rebuttal to Attorney General William Barr’s determination that the evidence Mueller uncovered was “not sufficient” to establish Trump committed a crime. Mueller declined to say whether Trump should have been charged, citing a Justice Department legal opinion that sitting presidents cannot be indicted.

Trump’s Tweet Derails House Bill Opposed by Lobbyist with Close White House Ties
MSN – Mike DeBonis, Felicia Sonmez, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 5/8/2019

President Trump helped derail a bipartisan casino bill opposed by a key White House ally. The intervention by Trump, contained in a morning tweet, eroded Republican support and prompted House Democrats to postpone a vote on the measure, which would pave the way for a new Massachusetts tribal casino. Opponents, including Rhode Island lawmakers, have argued the bill would harm the business of two neighboring casinos across the state line. A key Trump ally, American Conservative Union Chairperson Matthew Schlapp, is lobbying for Twin River Management Group, which operates both Rhode Island casinos. Schlapp’s wife is the White House strategic communications director. In a tweet that blindsided lawmakers of both parties, Trump urged Republicans to oppose the measure.

Watergate Had the Nixon Tapes. Mueller Had Annie Donaldson’s Notes.
MSN – Carol Leonnig (Washington Post) | Published: 5/3/2019

The notes scribbled on a legal pad captured the fear inside the White House when President Trump raged over the Russia investigation and decreed that he was firing the FBI director who led it. The angst-filled entry is part of a shorthand diary that chronicled the chaotic days in Trump’s West Wing, a trove the special counsel report cited more than 65 times as part of the evidence the president sought to blunt a criminal investigation bearing down on him. The scribe keeping track of Trump’s actions was Annie Donaldson, then-White House Counsel Don McGahn’s chief of staff, who figures in Robert Mueller report as one of the most important narrators of internal White House turmoil. Her daily habit of documenting conversations and meetings provided the special counsel’s office with its version of President Nixon’s tapes.

White House Imposes New Rules on Reporters’ Credentials, Raising Concerns About Access
MSN – Paul Farhi (Washington Post) | Published: 5/8/2019

The White House implemented new rules it says will cut down on the number of journalists holding “hard” passes, the credentials that allow reporters and technicians to enter the grounds without seeking daily permission. The new policy has been met with some confusion and even worry among journalists, some of whom suspect the aim is to keep critics in the press away from the White House and President Trump. Journalists will qualify to renew their hard passes only if they have entered the White House grounds at least 50 percent of the time in the 180 days before renewal. A nonrenewal does not preclude journalists from entering the White House entirely, but it does subject them to a more cumbersome process.

From the States and Municipalities

Florida Florida Legislators Agree to Limit Felons’ Voting Rights. Critics Call It a New Poll Tax.
Washington Post – Amy Gardner | Published: 5/5/2019

The largest expansion of voting eligibility in the country since the elimination of poll taxes and literacy tests in the 1960s suffered a setback when Republican legislators in Florida voted to limit the scope of a new constitutional amendment restoring voting rights to most convicted felons. The measure, which would require felons to pay all court-ordered fines, fees, and restitution before their eligibility to vote is restored, quickly drew accusations of voter suppression. Supporters of what is known in Florida as Amendment 4 said the law effectively reinstitutes a poll tax by requiring felons to satisfy financial obligations before they can vote again.

Georgia A Mayor Reportedly Said Her City Isn’t Ready for Black Leader. A Council Member Went Further.
Washington Post – Michael Price-Saddler | Published: 5/7/2019

Hoschton Mayor Theresa Kenerly is facing calls to resign following reports she dismissed a candidate for a top city position based on his race. Racist remarks from one of her defenders further inflamed the controversy, revealing what some say are outdated racial attitudes long pervasive in a small, predominantly white city in Georgia. It was reported that Kenerly withdrew the application of Keith Henry for city administrator, “because he is black, and the city isn’t ready for this.” Councilperson Jim Cleveland defended the mayor then delivered an unprompted opinion on interracial marriage. “I have black friends, I hired black people. But when it comes to all this stuff you see on TV, when you see blacks and whites together, it makes my blood boil because that’s just not the way a Christian is supposed to live,” Cleveland said.

Indiana Casino Company Turned to State Lawmaker for Title Work. He Voted for Massive Gaming Bill.
Indianapolis Star – Tony Cook and Kaitlin Lange | Published: 5/2/2019

When gaming company Spectacle Entertainment bought two casinos in Gary last year, it turned to a state representative for title insurance and closing services. That same lawmaker, Indiana Rep. Jerry Torr, then voted in favor of legislation that could allow Spectacle to move those casinos to new, more lucrative locations in the state. The business ties are the latest to raise questions about Spectacle and its possible attempts to influence elected officials at the statehouse. The company also paid for at least two private jet flights for Gov. Eric Holcomb and one of Spectacle’s principal investors arranged a contract for House Speaker Brian Bosma last year with Vigo County.

Kentucky ‘He Is a Whiny, Off-Topic Social Media Troll.’ Why Bevin Banned Critics on Social Media.
Lexington Herald-Leader – John Cheves | Published: 5/1/2019

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin has banned almost 3,000 people from his Facebook and Twitter accounts, sometimes reading negative comments online in the middle of the night and directing his communications staff to act against his critics. Among the keywords Bevin’s office uses to flag Facebook posts for possible deletion and banning are dictator, weirdo, crook, jerk, narcissist, nimrod, and hypocrite, according to documents produced by the state. According to screen shots of their comments recorded by Bevin’s staff, all have been critical of the governor or his policies at some point since he took office three years ago. A lawsuit alleges Bevin’s policy of banning individuals from state-run social media forums constitutes an unlawful prior restraint on speech.

Maryland Baltimore Mayor Pugh Resigns After Month on Leave Amid Investigation into Her Business Deals
MSN – Ian Duncan, Jean Marbella, and Luke Broadwater (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 5/2/2019

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh resigned, ending her tenure that unraveled amid a scandal over payments for a self-published children’s book series she sold to customers including a $4 billion hospital network she once helped oversee and companies with business before the city. FBI and IRS agents had searched her City Hall offices, homes, and other locations. Pugh came to office contrasting her clean image with her main opponent, Mayor Sheila Dixon, who was forced to resign in 2010 as part of a plea deal for misappropriating about $500 in gift cards meant for needy families. A federal grand jury has been empaneled and state and local inquiries are also underway into the roughly $800,000 Pugh made over the years in exchange for her “Healthy Holly” paperbacks about health and nutrition

Michigan Unlike the Rest of America, Michigan Lawmakers’ Personal Finances Are a Secret
MLive.com – Lauren Gibbons and Taylor DesOrmeau | Published: 5/6/2019

Michigan is one of two states – and the only one with a full-time Legislature – with no requirement for public officials to disclose basic financial information, including income sources, business investments, gifts, and travel compensation. Without any legal requirement on financial disclosures, Michigan residents only know about potential conflicts-of-interest if their lawmakers choose to reveal them. The lack of financial disclosure requirements is one?of the biggest?reasons?Michigan ranked last in a survey that rated each state’s transparency laws.?Potential conflicts or corruption in the state “remain buried in an honor system with no honor,” the?report concluded. Not much has changed in the past four years.

Mississippi How Mississippi Lawmakers Quietly Funnel Millions of Education Dollars to Pet Vendors
Jackson Clarion-Ledger – Bracey Harris and Giacomo Bologna | Published: 5/8/2019

Top Mississippi lawmakers carve out millions of dollars for handpicked education vendors and pet projects each year, bypassing state bid laws and steering money to companies that know the right people or hire the right lobbyists. A Jackson Clarion Ledger analysis of education appropriations for the last four years uncovered millions of dollars in earmarks for select vendors, most of them represented by three lobbying firms. In at least four cases, key lawmakers received campaign contributions from vendors who received those earmarks.

New Hampshire What Counts as a Campaign Expense? For Some Lawmakers, It Includes Flowers and Dry Cleaning
New Hampshire Public Radio – Casey McDermott | Published: 5/6/2019

Candidates running for office in New Hampshire can run up a tab on all kinds of expenses: lawn signs, postage, snacks for fundraisers, advertising, and more. But some lawmakers lean on campaign donations to cover other, less obvious expenses that pile up on the campaign trail, or even while they are in office, things like car repairs, dry cleaning bills, and floral arrangements. The state’s campaign finance laws provide little guidance on what counts as a legal campaign expense, but an effort under way at the Legislature would take a step toward more explicitly acknowledging the personal costs that can come with public service. It has prompted a debate over where candidates should draw the line between personal and political expenses on the campaign trail.

New Mexico Padilla Claims AG Concealed Recording Device in Coffeepot
Albuquerque Journal – Dan Boyd | Published: 5/2/2019

Former New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Secretary Demesia Padilla is asking a judge to dismiss public corruption charges against her, claiming investigators in Attorney General Hector Balderas’ office violated her due process rights by secretly recording a conversation with her attorney – via a coffeepot outfitted with a recording device – before she was arrested in December 2016. But the attorney general’s office denies surreptitiously listening in on Padilla’s privileged chat, saying the coffeepot recording device, which was on loan from the Albuquerque Police Department, stopped recording while she was talking with her attorney.

New York For Years, Top NY Lobbying Firm Went Unpaid for Campaign Work
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 5/7/2019

The lobbying firm Patrick B. Jenkins and Associates offers paid, professional campaign fundraising services for candidates, even as the firm lobbies members of the New York Legislature. But it has gone unpaid for months or even years in its political and fundraising work on behalf of the several state Assembly members, work that is worth tens-of-thousands of dollars. Sources said fundraising work included Patrick B. Jenkins and Associates soliciting campaign donations from its long roster of lobbying clients during the 2019 budget season. Under the state’s gift law, registered lobbyists such as Patrick Jenkins are prohibited from giving a gift of more than “nominal” value – $15 – to a public official, if it can be reasonably presumed the gift is meant to influence the official.

Ohio Federal Judges Declare Ohio Congressional Map Unconstitutional
Washington Post – Robert Barnes | Published: 5/3/2019

A panel of federal judges declared Ohio’s congressional map unconstitutional, adding to a growing number of states where partisan gerrymandering has been outlawed. That decision and a similar one in Michigan could be seen as signals from the lower courts to their superiors. The U.S. Supreme Court is deciding whether judges even have a role in such disputes. While the high court regularly polices redistricting plans for racial gerrymandering, it has never found lawmakers’ partisan efforts to preserve power so extreme that their actions violate the constitutional rights of voters. But with the ruling in Ohio, federal courts in five states have struck down maps as partisan gerrymanders. The decisions will either guide the Supreme Court to find there is a way for judges to identify extreme partisanship or make the rulings short-lived.

Oklahoma Donations to Lawmakers Keep Flowing Even as They Vote on Bills
Oklahoma Watch – Trevor Brown | Published: 5/6/2019

Since November 6, donors have given more than $1.7 million to sitting lawmakers and top state leaders in Oklahoma, with about 20 percent donated while the Legislature has been in session. The amount will likely climb because of fundraising in the second half of the session, a total that will not be disclosed until second-quarter campaign finance reports are filed by the end of July. Campaign finance reform advocates say even though these types of donations are allowable under state law, they are troubling because they raise serious conflict-of-interest issues for public officials.

Pennsylvania Dark Money Under Spotlight as Campaign Finance Law Changes Right Before Philly Primary
Philadelphia Inquirer – Julia Terruso and Chris Brennan | Published: 5/2/2019

Philadelphia 3.0, an independent PAC, has circulated thousands of fliers supporting Jamie Gauthier for city council and accusing incumbent Jannie Blackwell of being too cozy with developers. But the group’s support has proved somewhat polarizing in the race. The lasting backlash against 3.0 has been that it doesn’t legally have to publicly identify many of its donors. In 2015 it spent more than $500,000 on council races but kept secret the origin of seven out of every 10 dollars transferred from its nonprofit. A change to the city’s campaign finance law that is now in effect aims to make sure anyone who pays for political communications is named. The new law requires PACs like 3.0 to disclose all donors who contribute to political activity that costs more than $5,000, whether the funding originated from a nonprofit or a PAC.

Tennessee Cocaine, Racy Texts and a Potentially Fraudulent Email: A week of chaos roils one statehouse
Washington Post – Eli Rosenberg | Published: 5/9/2019

Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada’s chief of staff, Cade Cothren, resigned amid reports he solicited sex in text messages to interns and lobbyists and used illegal drugs in the legislative office building. Cothren also faced scrutiny over racist text messages. His resignation came hours after a news article said Cothren allegedly solicited sex and nude photographs from an intern, sought sex with a lobbyist, and suggested he would make sexual advances toward another intern. Casada’s participation in some of the text messages has kicked off calls for his resignation. The messy political drama is another chapter in the long-running discussion about the treatment of women in the halls of power, in this case the statehouse.

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April 26, 2019 •

News You Can Use Digest – April 25, 2019

      National:  Constraints on Presidency Being Redefined in Trump Era, Report Fallout Shows MSN – Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 4/22/2019 The events that have followed the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report threaten to redefine […]

 

 

 

National: 

Constraints on Presidency Being Redefined in Trump Era, Report Fallout Shows
MSN – Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 4/22/2019

The events that have followed the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report threaten to redefine the legal and ethical standards that have long served as constraints on the American presidency. They also suggest that few, if any, of the traditional guardrails that have kept Donald Trump’s predecessors in check remain for this president and possibly those who will follow him. Current and former aides say they do not expect Trump to change his behavior, saying he is unlikely to be responsive to anything other than political pain in the form of a real revolt by Republican leadership or a sharp drop in poll numbers.

How the IRS Gave Up Fighting Political Dark Money Groups
ProPublica – Maya Miller | Published: 4/18/2019

“Dark money” spending is legal because of a massive loophole. Section 501(c)(4) of the U.S. tax code allows organizations to make independent expenditures on politics while concealing their donors’ names as long as politics is not the organization’s “primary activity.” The IRS has the daunting task of trying to determine when nonprofits in that category, known colloquially as C4s, violate that vague standard. But the IRS’ attempts to police this class of nonprofits have almost completely broken down. Since 2015, thousands of complaints have streamed in that C4s are abusing the rules. But the agency has not stripped a single organization of its tax-exempt status for breaking spending rules during that period. The IRS’ abdication of oversight stems from a trio of causes.

From the States and Municipalities:

Alabama – How a Lawyer, a Lobbyist and a Legislator Waged War on a Birmingham Superfund Site
AL.com – Steven Mufson (Washington Post) | Published: 4/24/2019

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wanted to clean up toxic soil in the 35th Avenue Superfund site in Birmingham. The agency notified Drummond, a coal company, and four other manufacturers nearby that they would have to dig up and replace the soil on hundreds of residential yards. David Roberson, Drummond’s vice president and top lobbyist, worried it would cost his company $100 million or more. Roberson and his lawyer, Joel Gilbert, decided they needed someone who could persuade the people living on contaminated land to protest not the pollution, but the cleanup. They chose Oliver Robinson Jr. then a state representative. Prosecutors ultimately charged Robinson with receiving bribes, while Gilbert and Roberson were charged with bribery, conspiracy, and money laundering in the scheme to stop the EPA.

Alaska – As Capitol Reporters Dwindle, Alaska Lawmakers Grapple with Rise of Political Blogs
KTOO – Nat Herz | Published: 4/23/2019

The press corps in Juneau has a new addition this year: Jeff Landfield, a failed candidate for state Senate who is now running a colorful political blog called the Alaska Landmine. He is one of a growing number of political bloggers who are trying to fill in gaps left by Alaska’s shrinking mainstream media, posing challenges for both lawmakers and the bloggers themselves. Landfield was standing outside the chambers where the House meets recently, and he was getting some attention because he had a black eye. It was a souvenir, Landfield said, from when a legislative aide punched him a few days before at a Juneau bar.

Connecticut – Two Rival Politicians Accused Each Other of Using Drugs. The Result Was a Showdown at a Urinalysis Lab.
Washington Post – Antonia Noori Farzen | Published: 4/22/2019

Two feuding politicians in Bridgeport, Connecticut’s largest city, spent much of the past week accusing each other of being on mind-altering substances after getting into an ugly fight in the comments section of a local political blog. Bridgeport City Councilperson Ernest Newton and Board of Education member Maria Pereira concluded they could only settle their dispute one way: by challenging each other to a public drug test. Newton, whose political career was interrupted by a five-year prison sentence after he pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges, once struggled with an addiction to crack cocaine. Both tested negative for all 10 substances. But the feud did not die down.

Florida – Andrew Gillum Agrees to Pay $5,000 Ethics Fine
News Service of Florida – Tampa Bay Times | Published: 4/24/2019

Former Tallahassee Mayor and gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum agreed to pay a $5,000 fine to settle a complaint he violated state law by accepted gifts worth more than $100 from lobbyists or their clients who had interests in the city and failed to report them. The Florida Commission on Ethics agreed to drop four additional counts in the settlement. The commission had found probable cause that Gillum violated ethics laws for allegedly accepting gifts from Tallahassee entrepreneur Adam Corey and undercover FBI agents posing as developers. Corey had been a close friend of Gillum and lobbied city officials. The charges related to trips to Costa Rica and New York, a boat ride around the Statue of Liberty, and a ticket to the Broadway hit, “Hamilton.”

Florida – Opioid Lawsuit Bill Stalls in Florida Committee Chaired by Sister-in-Law of Walgreens Lobbyist
Tampa Bay Times – Lawrencwe Mower | Published: 4/22/2019

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is suing the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors, accusing them of recklessly supplying Floridians with millions of drugs per year. But a bill that is critical to the lawsuit moving forward has stalled in the committee of a powerful lawmaker: Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, who said her committee would not hear it because of concerns the bill could invade the privacy of patients. Benacquisto said her objections are not related to her brother-in-law, Chris Hansen, a lobbyist whose clients include Walgreens – one of the defendants in Moody’s lawsuit.

Maine – Numbers of Maine Lawmakers Who Went on to Lobby
AP News – Marina Villeneuva | Published: 4/21/2019

At least 14 Democratic and eight Republican lawmakers in Maine have gone on to register as paid lobbyists over the past three decades, a practice that is being targeted by a bill moving through the state Legislature. The House and Senate advanced a bill to ban future lawmakers from any paid lobbying within their first year out of office. The state ethics commissions had called for the change in 2017. The Associated Press (AP) compared state lobbying reports with legislative rosters and found that nearly half of the 22 former lawmakers who registered as lobbyists over the past three decades did so within the same year of leaving office. The lawmakers-turned-lobbyists have raked in $3.6 million in total compensation for their firms, according to the AP analysis.

Maryland – Federal Agents Search Baltimore City Hall and Mayor Catherine Pugh’s Home
Washington Post – Ann Marimow, Peter Hermann, and Lynh Bui | Published: 4/25/2019

Federal agents searched Baltimore City Hall and Mayor Catherine Pugh’s home among other sites amid fallout from lucrative children’s book deals she cut with businesses connected to the government she has run since 2016. Pugh took an indefinite leave of absence beginning April 1 attributed to health issues following criticism of the more than $700,000 she was paid for her self-published “Healthy Holly” book series. The book-deal revelations have led to calls from the city council and state lawmakers for Pugh’s resignation; an investigation by the state prosecutor; and to the firing of several of her aides. Investigators are scrutinizing Pugh’s deals with entities including Kaiser Permanente, which was awarded city contracts, and the University of Maryland Medical System, on whose board she sat for many years.

Massachusetts – Amid ‘Slush Fund’ Criticism, Nearly All Legislative Caucuses Will Forgo Outside Donations
Boston Globe – Matt Stout | Published: 4/24/2019

All but one of the nearly two dozen caucuses formed by Massachusetts lawmakers say they will not solicit outside contributions, weeks after a new internal rule allowing legislative groups to raise private funds stirred controversy on Beacon Hill. The rule, which requires all caucuses to register with the House Committee on Rules, also bars lobbyists from donating and says caucuses must receive approval from House counsel before taking any gift of more than $50. The potential of taking donations outside of campaign finance disclosure laws drew intense heat, including criticisms it could create a legislative “slush fund.”

Minnesota – Minnesota Lawmakers, Lobbyists Describe Cautious Capitol in Wake of #MeToo
Minneapolis Star Tribune – Jessie Van Berkel | Published: 4/21/2019

A year and a half after reports of sexual harassment rocked the Minnesota Legislature and prompted two resignations, lawmakers and lobbyists describe a changed atmosphere at the Capitol. People are more cautious and aware of what crosses the line. There is also a new group of House members, many of them younger women, who are outspoken about addressing harassment and gender equality. But some at the Capitol say they worry the good behavior and awareness will fall by the wayside if the energy of the #MeToo movement fades from the spotlight.

Missouri – Lobbyist’s Crusade to Change Title IX in Missouri Stems from His Son’s Expulsion
Kansas City Star – Edward McKinley | Published: 4/23/2019

After his son was expelled from Washington University last year through the school’s Title IX process, a leading Jefferson City lobbyist launched a campaign to change the law for every campus in the state. Richard McIntosh has argued to legislators that Title IX, the federal law barring sexual discrimination in education and mandating that schools set up internal systems to police sexual violence, is tilted unfairly against the accused. His proposals create more protections for those accused of Title IX violations. Had McIntosh’s amendment been enacted, it would have allowed his son to appeal the result of his hearing to the state Administrative Hearing Commission, where his mother and McIntosh’s wife is the presiding and managing commissioner.

South Dakota – S.D. House Speaker Paid $12,000 for Lobbyist’s Legal Fees
KELOLAND – Bob Mercer | Published: 4/23/2019

South Dakota House Speaker Steven Haugaard authorized a payment of $12,000 for a lobbyist’s legal fees after he banned her from the chamber floor, and South Dakota Municipal League Executive Director Yvonne Taylor’s attorneys have asked a federal judge to dismiss the league’s lawsuit against Haugaard. Court documents say Haugaard called Taylor into his office and brought up her column from the league’s magazine. In the article, which appeared prior to the June 2018 primary elections, Taylor suggested voters make a distinction between what she called “The Normals” and the “Wackies” in the Legislature. One sentence said: “We desperately need to get that ‘wacky ratio’ down.” A judge issued a temporary restraining order against Haugaard and said the speaker was not protected by legislative immunity.

Texas – Conservative Group Empower Texans Sues Lawmaker to Gain State House Media Credentials
Texas Tribune – Emma Platoff | Published: 4/18/2019

Months after being denied media credentials for the Texas House, the conservative organization Texas Scorecard – a product of Empower Texans, a Tea Party-aligned political advocacy group with one of the state’s best-funded PACs – filed a First Amendment lawsuit arguing its rejection from the chamber constitutes “unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination.” Before the legislative session began in January, two employees of Texas Scorecard applied for media credentials in the Legislature. In the Senate, their credentials were granted; in the House, they were denied. The two chambers follow similar rules about who is allowed special journalistic access to the floor, and both prohibit lobbyists. But the chambers’ political atmospheres are different.

Washington – A State Senator Said Nurses ‘Probably Play Cards’ at Work. Facing Mass Outrage, She’s Apologized.
Seattle Times – Allyson Chiu (Washington Post) | Published: 4/21/2019

While debating a bill that would give nurses uninterrupted meals and breaks at work and protect them from mandatory overtime, Washington Sen. Maureen Walsh arguing that hospitals in rural communities should be excluded from the measure because the requirements would place too much strain on those facilities. “By putting these types of mandates on a critical access hospital that literally serves a handful of individuals, I would submit to you that those nurses probably do get breaks – they probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day,” Walsh said. The comment sparked an online petition calling for her to shadow a nurse and “experience what really happens” during a 12-hour shift. The senator’s office has also been flooded with angry phone calls and emails as well as packages containing decks of playing cards.

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April 12, 2019 •

News You Can Use Digest – April 11, 2019

      National: You Elected Them to Write New Laws. They’re Letting Corporations Do It Instead. USA Today – Rob O’Dell (Arizona Republic) and Mark Penzenstadler | Published: 4/4/2019 A two-year investigation reveals for the first time the extent to which special […]

 

 

 

National:

You Elected Them to Write New Laws. They’re Letting Corporations Do It Instead.
USA Today – Rob O’Dell (Arizona Republic) and Mark Penzenstadler | Published: 4/4/2019

A two-year investigation reveals for the first time the extent to which special interests have infiltrated state Legislatures using model legislation. USA Today and The Arizona Republic found at least 10,000 bills almost entirely copied from model legislation were introduced nationwide in the past eight years, and more than 2,100 of those bills were signed into law. In all, these copycat bills amount to?the nation’s largest, unreported special-interest campaign, driving agendas in every statehouse and touching nearly every area of public policy. For lawmakers, copying model legislation is an easy way to get fully formed bills to put their names on, while building relationships with lobbyists and other potential campaign donors.

Federal:

Courts Have No Say When FEC Wants to Ignore Alleged Wrongdoing
Bloomberg Government – Kenneth Doyle | Published: 4/5/2019

A decision by two federal judges is making it impossible to challenge the way the FEC enforces campaign laws. When the agency deadlocks along party lines, that is now the end of the line, no court can second-guess letting an accused wrongdoer off the hook. Judicial review was eliminated last June by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Critics of that ruling have waited for the better part of year to find out if they would be allowed to argue before the full court on reversing that precedent. Many FEC enforcement complaints have been dismissed on party-line votes, with Democrats voting to pursue action and Republicans opposed.

Democrats Are Cozying Up to Corporate Lobbyists Despite Purity Pledges
Politico – Theodoric Meyer | Published: 4/8/2019

Some Democratic lawmakers who have promised to steer clear of campaign donations from corporate PACs are allowing the same corporations’ lobbyists to write them personal checks, and in some cases even host fundraisers for them. Democrats on K Street are frustrated by what they view as arbitrary restrictions on which kinds of money lawmakers will take and which kinds are forbidden, according to interviews. Democrats’ rush to reject corporate PAC money falls heaviest on in-house Democratic lobbyists for big corporations. Some of those lobbyists have found it harder to mingle with House Democrats when they cannot attend fundraisers by writing a corporate PAC check to get in the door.

Scant Staffing Means Few Monitoring Whether Lobbyists Obey Law
Bloomberg Government – Megan Wilson | Published: 4/9/2019

In 2016, enforcement of the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) was handled by six part-time Justice Department lawyers and one full-time paralegal. Two years later, that work was being done by a much smaller staff: one part-time lawyer, one full-time paralegal, and one part-time paralegal. There has not been an enforcement action for an LDA violation in four years, and since the law was enacted in 1995, there have been a total of nine civil enforcement actions. For firms that want to stay on the right side of the law, “the lack of lawyers in the office has complicated matters when there are tricky legal issues to be resolved,” said Caleb Burns, a partner at Wiley Rein.

From the States and Municipalities:

Alabama: Ward: Bill allowing lobbyist gifts to lobbyists ‘dead’ in his committee
Montgomery Advertiser – Brian Lyman | Published: 4/10/2019

The Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee delayed a vote on a proposed bill that critics say would represent a major step back from ethics laws passed in 2010. The legislation’s sponsor, Sen. Greg Albritton, argued Senate Bill 230 would provide clarity by providing better definitions, explicit lines of enforcement and punishments for transgressions, and disclosures of gifts from lobbyists to officials. But the bill would lift any limits on what lobbyists could give to officials, provided they do not do so with corrupt intent. It also curtails the Alabama Ethics Commission’s ability to refer complaints to the attorney general’s office. “This bill is dead in my committee as far as I am concerned,” Judiciary Committee Chairperson Cam Ward wrote in a text.

California: To Block California Soda Taxes, Companies Paid for ‘Black Panther’ Tickets, Fancy Dinners
Los Angeles Times – Samantha Young (California Healthline) | Published: 4/7/2019

Dinners at an expensive restaurant in Maui, with ocean views. Tickets to professional sports games. A free screening of “Black Panther” at a Sacramento IMAX theater. And a $250,000 donation to a group that funds the governor’s travel. That is a sampling of the $11.8 million that soft drink companies and their lobbyists spent at the state and local levels in the past two years in California to block proposals such as taxing sugary beverages and imposing health warnings on their drinks, an analysis found. The beverage industry, like other interest groups, spends money to influence lawmakers in several ways. It makes financial contributions to their campaigns and lobbies them and their staffs, sometimes plying them with meals, events, and travel. It also donates to charities in lawmakers’ names.

Georgia: Georgia Ethics Chief to Issue Subpoenas in Investigation of Abrams Gubernatorial Campaign
The Hill – Zach Budryk | Published: 4/11/2019

David Emadi, the new executive secretary of the Georgia Government Transparency & Campaign Finance Commission, will subpoena bank records from 2018 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams’ campaign. Emadi said he will also soon make a decision on whether to charge campaigns of Atlanta mayoral candidates for campaign finance fraud. Emadi replaced Stefan Ritter, who was accused of watching pornography at work and telling staff not to pursue potential campaign finance violations by candidates for city and statewide office. Ritter resigned in February.

Michigan: Mayor Mike Duggan Set Her Up to Succeed. That Raises Questions.
Detroit Free Press – Joe Guillen and Kat Stafford | Published: 4/4/2019

A charitable program run by a woman with close ties to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan received $358,000 in city grants and benefited from a fundraising campaign that a top city official spearheaded at the mayor’s direction. An email request shows Duggan ordered the city’s chief development officer to raise money for Make Your Date, which is a nonprofit medical organization where Dr. Sonia Hassan serves as president and director. Hassan was seen last year arriving after hours at the same suburban residence as Duggan in a surveillance video taken by a private investigator. The city’s financial support, attempted fundraising campaign, and Duggan’s repeated promotion of Make Your Date raises ethics questions about whether the mayor used city resources to benefit Hassan’s program.

Mississippi: Other States Ban Gifts to Lawmakers. Why Doesn’t Mississippi?
Jackson Clarion-Ledger – Luke Ramseth and Geoff Pender | Published: 4/9/2019

There are no restrictions on gifts from lobbyists to Mississippi lawmakers. A newspaper’s investigation found the state’s public universities alone spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on gifts for public officials from 2015 to 2018, including more than $200,000 in free sports tickets. In the 1990s, the Legislature passed a bill that required lobbyists and their clients to regularly report expenditures to the secretary of state. The reporting requirements caused lobbyists to “reign in” their spending some, said former legislator John Reeves, but it remains hard to tell if reporting now is honest and accurate. It not clear whether anyone in state government keeps a close eye on the lobbyist reports. Some contain errors, and most provide only vague details about what gifts were purchased.

Missouri: Appeals Court Upholds Joyce Ruling – Corporations Can Create PACs, but Not Donate Directly to Them
Jefferson City News Tribune – Bob Watson | Published: 4/10/2019

Missouri corporations may not make direct contributions to their own PACs, a three-judge panel of the state’s Western District appeals court ruled. The decision upheld a similar ruling by Cole County Presiding Circuit Court Judge Pat Joyce in the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s lawsuit against the state Ethics Commission. That lawsuit challenged the commission’s interpretation of voters’ intent, after more than two-thirds of the people who voted in November 2016 added the “Missouri Campaign Contribution Reform Initiative” to the state constitution.

New Hampshire: In Votes at N.H. State House, Lawmakers’ Personal and Public Interests Often Overlap
New Hampshire Public Radio – Casey McDermott | Published: 4/9/2019

New Hampshire lawmakers are paid $100 a year, so it is no surprise that many of them rely on other sources of income to get by. As a result, state lawmakers end up dealing with all kinds of proposals that can directly impact their family finances, the taxes they pay, the companies where they work, or the boards on which they serve. In policing these potential conflicts of interest, New Hampshire’s ethics rules tend to favor disclosure over recusal – which means that, with few exemptions, lawmakers are allowed to vote on or even sponsor legislation that has a clear benefit to their personal interests.

New York: To Get Trump’s Tax Returns, N.Y. Democrats Try a New Strategy
MSN – Jesse McKinley (New York Times) | Published: 4/8/2019

New York lawmakers introduced legislation that would make President Trump’s state income tax returns public, the latest step in a battle over details Trump has refused to release. Backers see the bill as an alternative way to Trump’s tax records, even if the president’s allies manage to stonewall efforts in the U.S. House to get his federal returns. A tax return from New York, the president’s home state and the headquarters of his business empire, could likely contain much of the same financial information as a federal return. Under the bill, the commissioner of the New York Department of Taxation and Finance would be permitted to release any state tax return requested by leaders of three congressional committees for any “specific and legitimate legislative purpose.”

Rhode Island: Rhode Island Reaches Lobbying Disclosure Agreement with Mastercard
Pensions and Investments – Hazel Bradford | Published: 4/4/2019

Mastercard Inc. reached a shareholder agreement with Rhode Island Treasurer Seth Magaziner to increase its disclosure of corporate lobbying expenses. Inadequate lobbying disclosure by publicly traded companies presents reputational risks, Magaziner said, particularly in recent cases where large companies have upset customers, investors, and other stakeholders by supporting controversial causes. Mastercard will publish an annual list of its lobbying priorities and amounts spent on lobbying and an annual list of U.S.-based trade associations receiving $25,000. It will also disclose the percentage of those payments used for lobbying and ask the trade associations for that information.

Washington: A Washington State Senator Praised the Cambodian Government Last Year. Then It Gave Him a $500,000 Lobbying Contract.
Seattle Times – Jim Brunner and Joseph O’Sullivan | Published: 4/5/2019

A company created by Washington Sen. Doug Ericksen landed a $500,000 lobbying contract from the Cambodian government he praised last year during a controversial visit as an election observer. Ericksen registered as a foreign agent for Cambodia in a recent filing with the U.S. Justice Department, along with former state Rep. Jay Rodne. Ericksen said his arrangement is “100 percent legal,” noting state legislators serve part time and are expected to have outside jobs. He also disputed characterizations of the deal as a lobbying contract, saying he is acting as a consultant. Neither Ericksen nor Rodne disclosed their ownership of PacRim Bridges in 2018 statements filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission. Ericksen said they did not have to list the business because he was not yet making money from it.

Wyoming: Wyoming’s Campaign Finance Reforms Leave Several Holes for Dark Money Influence
Casper Star Tribune – Nick Reynolds | Published: 4/5/2019

Campaign finance experts say the reforms passed by the Wyoming Legislature this year leave a number of gaps that could potentially be exploited by so-called dark money groups in the 2020 elections. While sponsors acknowledged Senate File 18 was not a perfect bill, it does make a number of changes to a system that, in the 2018 cycle, was exploited by multiple PACs of often mysterious origins. Some of these fixes include improving the reporting of late political activity, requiring PACs formed outside of Wyoming to disclose their activity, and defining “electioneering communications.”

 

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April 11, 2019 •

Thursday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance California: Amid FBI Probe of LA City Hall, Council Committee Looks at Developer Donation Ban by Craig Clough for Los Angeles Daily News Missouri: Appeals Court Upholds Joyce Ruling – Corporations Can Create PACs, but Not Donate Directly to Them […]

Campaign Finance

California: Amid FBI Probe of LA City Hall, Council Committee Looks at Developer Donation Ban by Craig Clough for Los Angeles Daily News

Missouri: Appeals Court Upholds Joyce Ruling – Corporations Can Create PACs, but Not Donate Directly to Them by Bob Watson for Jefferson City News Tribune

New Mexico: New Mexico Legislators Took in $16,000 Before and During Session Due to Loophole by Andrew Oxford for Santa Fe New Mexican

Ethics

Kentucky: A Key Player in Deciding the Value of Matt Bevin’s Home Was Appointed by … Bevin by Tom Loftus for Louisville Courier-Journal

New Hampshire: In Votes at N.H. State House, Lawmakers’ Personal and Public Interests Often Overlap by Casey McDermott for New Hampshire Public Radio

Lobbying

National: Scant Staffing Means Few Monitoring Whether Lobbyists Obey Law by Megan Wilson for Bloomberg Government

Alabama: Ward: Bill allowing lobbyist gifts to lobbyists ‘dead’ in his committee by Brian Lyman for Montgomery Advertiser

Colorado: House Gives Nod to Lobbyist Disclosure Bill by Charles Ashby for Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

Mississippi: Other States Ban Gifts to Lawmakers. Why Doesn’t Mississippi? By Luke Ramseth and Geoff Pender for Jackson Clarion-Ledger

Tennessee: Nashville Government Lobbyists Also Support Pro-Voucher Group, Councilman Calls It ‘Ridiculous’ by Adam Tamburin for The Tennessean

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March 29, 2019 •

News You Can Use Digest – March 29, 2019

      Federal: Barr’s Declaration on Trump Puts Justice Dept. Back in Political Crucible MSN – Charlie Savage, Mark Mazzetti, and Katie Benner (New York Times) | Published: 3/25/2019 Attorney General William Barr’s decision to declare that evidence fell short of proving […]

 

 

 

Federal:

Barr’s Declaration on Trump Puts Justice Dept. Back in Political Crucible
MSN – Charlie Savage, Mark Mazzetti, and Katie Benner (New York Times) | Published: 3/25/2019

Attorney General William Barr’s decision to declare that evidence fell short of proving President Trump illegally obstructed the Russia inquiry was an extraordinary outcome to a narrative that spanned nearly two years. Robert Mueller was appointed as special counsel to remove the threat of political interference from an investigation involving the president, but he reached no conclusion on the key question of whether Trump committed an obstruction-of-justice offense. Barr stepped in to make the determination, bringing the specter of politics back into the case. Senior Justice Department officials defended his decision as prudent and within his purview, but it reignited a debate about the role of American law enforcement in politically charged federal investigations.

‘No PAC Money’ Pledges Leave Corporations in a Partisan Bind
Roll Call – Kate Ackley | Published: 3/21/2019

It is not just the number of members of Congress pledging not to accept money from PACs for corporations and trade groups (more than 50 so far) that is a problem, but their party affiliation – almost entirely Democratic. If the trend spreads into the 2020 campaign cycle, it could put companies and associations in a bind. Many of the top PACs connected to businesses and trade associations maintain roughly balanced giving ratios and some of them have enshrined such practices. “Most PACs pride themselves on being bipartisan and supporting candidates who are understanding of their issues, so they can engage in a policy conversation. There’s a real fear of just losing that balanced approach,” said Kristin Brackemyre of the Public Affairs Council.

From the States and Municipalities:

California: A State Lawmaker Borrowed Nearly a Half-Million Dollars to Buy a Home. You Might Have Voted for Her Lender.
CALmatters – Matt Levin | Published: 3/26/2019

To buy a house, a state legislator received a $430,000 personal loan from a former member of Congress from Orange County, an arrangement that some legal experts labeled unusual, but that both politicians said was not improper. State Assemblyperson Sharon Quirk-Silva borrowed the sum from former U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez, an unsuccessful 2016 U.S. Senate candidate, in the fall of 2017. Quirk-Silva and her husband repaid Sanchez with interest. While California law bans state and local elected officials from borrowing money from each other, nothing appears to prohibit the arrangement Quirk-Silva struck with Sanchez, who did not hold elected office at the time. In late 2018, Sanchez would announce her candidacy for a seat on the Orange County Board of Supervisors, going on to lose.

Colorado: Lawmakers Take Aim at Disclosure Loopholes in Colorado Lobbying Laws
Colorado Sun – Sandra Fish | Published: 3/25/2019

Colorado lawmakers have introduced a measure to eliminate loopholes in lobbying laws and require more disclosure to the public, part of an effort to address long-standing concerns about transparency. House Bill 1248 would require more frequent reporting by lobbyists what bills they were hired to follow, and the position taken by their clients. Lobbyists would need to file any changes in their positions on legislation within 48 hours during the session. Now, those updates are required only once a month. The legislation also aims to close loopholes that some lobbyists appear to use to avoid reporting income from clients.

Connecticut: Jon Lender: Lobbyists pay $13,000 in fines connected to tech schools controversy
Hartford Courant – Jon Lender | Published: 3/22/2019

The Office of State Ethics collected $13,000 in fines from the lobbying and consulting firm Kozak & Salina and one of its owners. The firm had a contract with the Connecticut Technical High School System (CTHSS) from 2014 to 2016 to provide “external relations and strategic consulting services,” and a similar contract for 2015 with the lighting fixture company Penn Globe. Kozak & Salina relayed communications between Penn Globe and CTHSS and charged both for the same services. So, when the lobbying firm submitted invoices to the state to obtain payment, it was getting paid twice, said Carol Carson, executive director of the ethics office. In addition to a $10,000 fine against his firm, David Kozak paid $3,000 for failing to file required registration and disclosure statements about his work for Penn Globe.

District of Columbia: As D.C. Leaders Tout Reforms, Latest Ethics Scandal Evokes City’s History of Corruption
Washington Post – Paul Schwartzman | Published: 3/23/2019

District of Columbia Councilperson Jack Evans admitted he violated the council’s code of conduct when he repeatedly used his government email account to offer potential clients the benefit of his political connections and the influence he amassed as a lawmaker and chairperson of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Civic groups chided the council as being too lenient when it reprimanded Evans rather than strip him of powerful committee posts. Reform activist Bryan Weaver said Evans’ actions, and the council’s response, evoke the worst aspects of the city’s history of official misconduct, one that has triggered periodic crises engulfing mayors, council members, government appointees, and employees.

Florida: ‘As American as Apple Pie’: How Miami commissioner’s aunt became a high-priced lobbyist
Miami Herald – David Smiley and Joey Flechas | Published: 3/26/2019

Some companies have chosen not to hire Barbara Hardemon as a lobbyist due to concerns about the perception of undue influence as she is the aunt of Miami City Commissioner Keon Hardemon. But in the years since his 2013 election, the commissioner’s aunt has emerged as a closer for some of Miami’s biggest businesses. Barbara Hardemon’s lobbying shop is allowed under state and local laws, which prohibit elected officials and their immediate family from profiting personally off the contracts they oversee but say nothing about their extended family. Her lucrative rise from occasional City Hall lobbyist to 11th-hour power broker has blurred the lines between negotiations and nepotism.

Florida: Ethics Board Aims to Put Teeth in Code, Seeks Greater Oversight of Tallahassee City Hall
Tallahassee Democrat – Jeff Burlew | Published: 3/23/2019

The Tallahassee Independent Ethics Board is finalizing proposals that could expand its oversight of City Hall and strengthen an ethics code that has long been seen as weak and toothless. The board currently has jurisdiction over only nine people. But proposed changes would extend its jurisdiction to cover all employees who work in procurement or are required by state law to file financial disclosures. The proposals include giving the board the power to issue subpoenas and take sworn testimony, a ban on all gifts no matter their value, and higher fines for lobbyists who try to influence city officials without registering and disclosing their clients.

Iowa: Iowa Treasurers End Scholarships Amid Ethics Law Inquiries
AP News – Ryan Foley | Published: 3/27/2019

County treasurers in Iowa canceled a scholarship program that benefited their relatives and employees amid criticism the vendor-funded awards were illegal gifts under state ethics law. The program consisted of four, $500 scholarships that were awarded each year to the college-bound children and grandchildren of county treasurers and their staffs. The money came from two companies that do extensive business with treasurers: GovTech Services, which runs the website that 88 counties use to collect property and motor vehicle taxes, and SRI Inc., which operates tax auctions for dozens of counties. Since the program’s inception, critics have worried the scholarships violated the gift law, which bars public employees and their immediate relatives from accepting money from contractors.

Maryland: Maryland House of Delegates Votes Unanimously to Reprimand Jalisi Over ‘Abusive’ Treatment of His Staff
Baltimore Sun – Luke Broadwater | Published: 3/27/2019

The Maryland House voted unanimously to publicly reprimand Del. Jay Jalisi for “an ongoing pattern of bullying and abusive workplace behavior.” The delegates voted after receiving a report outlining the investigation from the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics that alleged Jalisi forced his staff to work overtime without pay, bullied others, got kicked out of a hotel, and made a staffer stand in the delegate’s office and repeat: “I am incompetent. I am incompetent.” This is not the first time Jalisi’s actions have been scrutinized. In 2015, a Baltimore County judge issued a protective order barring Jalisi from contact with his then-teenage daughter.

Massachusetts: House Proposal for Caucus Funding Left Out of Budget Bill – but Caucuses May Still Fundraise
MassLive.com – Shira Schoenberg | Published: 3/25/2019

A controversial Massachusetts House proposal to let caucuses raise private money did not make it into the final version of a budget bill. But House leaders say that under their internal rules, caucuses will still be able to raise private money as long as they comply with ethics rules, which bar lobbyists from giving and require any gift of over $50 to be approved by House counsel to avoid conflicts-of-interest. When the House passed its rules in January, members approved a rule that would let caucuses raise money from public or private sources. But some advocates for open government worried this could create a legislative “slush fund” where special interests with business before the Legislature could donate to lawmakers with no transparency.

New Jersey: Dark Money Disclosure Bill Advanced to Gov. Phil Murphy’s Desk
Burlington County Times – David Levinsky | Published: 3/26/2019

Legislation to require so-called dark money groups operating in New Jersey to reveal their donors was sent to Gov. Phil Murphy. The bill has undergone several changes after being approved by the Senate, but it would still mandate the disclosure of donors who give more than $10,000 to nonprofit 501(c)4 groups that are not currently subject to disclosure requirements if they engage in political activities, lobbying, or campaigning. It would also mandate the disclosure of expenses of more than $3,000 and would also boost contribution limits to state and county political committees. Those groups are already subject to strict reporting requirements but have been usurped by “dark-money” groups in recent years.

Pennsylvania: GOP Legislator Prays to Jesus for Forgiveness Before State’s First Muslim Woman Swears In
MSN – Reis Thebault (Washington Post) | Published: 3/26/2019

Movita Johnson-Harrell brought 55 guests to her swearing in as the Pennsylvania Legislature’s first Muslim woman. Thirty-two of them were Muslim. She later for the General Assembly to censure State Rep. Stephanie Borowicz, who delivered the opening prayer to begin the legislative session day. By the time she said “Amen,” Borowicz had invoked Jesus 13 times. She mentioned “Lord” and “God” another six times each and referenced “The Great I Am” and “the one who’s coming back again, the one who came, died, and rose again on the third day.” As the prayer reached a crescendo, at least one member shouted objections. Afterward, the protests only grew louder.

West Virginia: Governor Signs Bills Raising Campaign Contribution Limits, Cutting Coal Tax
Beckley Register-Herald – Erin Beck | Published: 3/27/2019

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice signed into law a bill that increases the limits on campaign contributions by individuals. Senate Bill 622 increases the limits to $2,800 for candidates, $5,000 for PACs, and up to $10,000 per year for party committees. Current limits for each category are set at $1,000. Julie Archer of the West Virginia Citizen Action Group said bill does nothing about “dark money.” She said Democrats attempted to amend the bill at least twice to require disclosures by donors that “funnel” money through groups.

Wisconsin: Judge Bocks GOP Lame-Duck Laws Limiting Tony Evers’ Powers; Evers Seeks to Remove Wisconsin from Obamacare Challenge
madison.com – Mark Sommerhauser | Published: 3/21/2019

A judge blocked several actions by Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled Legislature to limit the power of its incoming governor, Democrat Tony Evers, and preserve policies implemented by his predecessor, Scott Walker. The Legislature acted in what is known as an “extraordinary session,” called with little notice. It lasted two days and one night and sparked heated protests. The three bills enacted during the sessions were extraordinary in breadth. One of them gave the Legislature powers usually and exclusively reserved for the attorney general, such as approving legal actions by the state. At the time of the session, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos stated its purpose plainly: “We are going to have a very liberal governor who is going to enact policies that are in direct contrast to what many of us believe in,” Vos said.

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March 12, 2019 •

Tuesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance West Virginia: “Lawmakers Vote to Raise Their Campaign Contribution Limits” by Erin Beck for Beckley Register-Herald Ethics National: “After Week of Infighting, Democrats Wonder Where to Draw Line on Speech” by Glenn Thrush and Sheryl Gay Stolberg (New […]

Campaign Finance

West Virginia: “Lawmakers Vote to Raise Their Campaign Contribution Limits” by Erin Beck for Beckley Register-Herald

Ethics

National: “After Week of Infighting, Democrats Wonder Where to Draw Line on Speech” by Glenn Thrush and Sheryl Gay Stolberg (New York Times) for MSN

Kansas: “White Linen Restaurant Bans Lawmakers, Lobbyists After Altercation” by Sherman Smith for Topeka Capital-Journal

New York: “State Legislature Pushing to Revamp Embattled Ethics Board” by Michael Gormely for Newsweek

Washington D.C.: “D.C. Council, Bowser Administration Receive Federal Subpoenas in Jack Evans Ethics Probe” by Peter Jamison, Steve Thompson, and Fenit Nirappil for Washington Post

Lobbying

National: “How Lobbying Has Changed in Donald Trump’s Washington” by Luke Mullins for Washingtonian Magazine

Nevada: “RJ Investigation Finds Violations, No Enforcement of County Lobbying Disclosures” by Michael Scott Davidson for Las Vegas Review-Journal

New Mexico: “Lobbyists Weigh in on Disclosure, Ban on Spending Proposals” by Marjorie Childress for New Mexico In Depth

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March 8, 2019 •

News You Can Use Digest – March 8, 2019

      Federal: Justice Department Taps Mueller Prosecutor to Enforce Foreign Lobbying Disclosure Reuters – Karen Freifeld and Suzanne Barlyn | Published: 3/6/2019 Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Van Grack was chosen to lead a team at the Justice Department that will make […]

 

 

 

Federal:

Justice Department Taps Mueller Prosecutor to Enforce Foreign Lobbying Disclosure
Reuters – Karen Freifeld and Suzanne Barlyn | Published: 3/6/2019

Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Van Grack was chosen to lead a team at the Justice Department that will make sure the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA), which requires disclosure of lobbying on behalf of foreign interests, is more aggressively enforced. One focal point may be Russia, which U.S. intelligence agencies say waged a disinformation campaign to sway the 2016 presidential election for Donald Trump. Assistant Attorney General John Demers also warned that law firms should take FARA registration seriously, citing the example of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, which agreed to pay $4.6 million and admitted it should have registered for a report aimed at discrediting a former Ukrainian prime minister.

From the States and Municipalities:

Connecticut: Election Officials: State contractor ban on political donations applies to marijuana producers, but not dispensaries
Hartford Courant – Neil Vigdor | Published: 3/7/2019

The State Elections Enforcement Commission ruled that a prohibition on campaign donations from state contractors extends to marijuana producers – but not dispensaries – because the value of licensing agreements they have with the state exceed $50,000. Medical marijuana has been legal in Connecticut since 2012. In anticipation of the legislative debate over recreational marijuana, the industry asked for guidance from last year about whether political contributions to legislators and statewide office holders comply with Connecticut’s 2005 clean elections law. A ban on state contractor contributions is a hallmark of the program.

District of Columbia: D.C. Council Member Jack Evans’ Use of Government Office for Personal Gain Inappropriate, Chair Says
Washington Post – Steve Thompson and Peter Jamison | Published: 3/4/2019

District of Columbia Council Chairperson Phil Mendelson said council member Jack Evans acted inappropriately when he emailed business proposals to potential employers and offered them his influence and connections as an elected official. Evans faces growing scrutiny after The Washington Post reported he sent solicitations on his government email to law firms that lobby city government, offering his contacts and sway as the council’s longest serving lawmaker and as chair of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. The authority’s board of directors directed its ethics officer to investigate Evans. The Post reported a federal grand jury has also been investigating Evans and issued a subpoena to officials for documents related to legislation that Evans promoted in 2016 that would have benefited a digital sign company.

Kentucky: Kentucky Secretary of State Staff Searched Voting Records for Investigators and Rivals, Records Show
ProPublica – Daniel Desrochers (Lexington Herald Leader) and Jessica Huseman | Published: 3/6/2019

Kentucky officials released records that show employees in the secretary of state’s office used the voter registration system to look up political rivals, state investigators, and a range of political operatives. It is not clear in many instances why Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes’ office was looking up people and their personal information such as political affiliation, and some Social Security numbers but it has led critics to conclude her office abused its access to the system to gain information about her political opponents and those involved in multiple investigations of her conduct while in office. Grimes had maintained her office had done no inappropriate searches.

Louisiana: Entergy Fined $5M, Can Move Forward with New Power Plant
Louisiana Weekly – Michael Issac Stein (The Lens) | Published: 3/4/2019

The New Orleans City Council approved a new Entergy power plant in city limits while imposing a $5 million fine against the company for using paid actors to influence its decision during the approval process. The council concluded Entergy “knew or should have known” that one if its subcontractors was paying people to fill seats and speak in favor of the project at public hearings. Entergy agreeing to the fine was contingent on the council not revoking its prior approval of the plant. Critics of the vote noted most council members have either worked for Entergy or received campaign donations from their PAC. Councilperson Cyndi Nguyen’s non-profit received at least $27,625 from Entergy. Councilperson Jay Banks revealed he once worked for the company as a government relations consultant.

Maryland: Maryland Delegate Says She Won’t Resign after House Censures Her for ‘Racist and Hateful Slur’
MSN – Luke Broadwater and Pamela Wood (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 2/28/2019

The House of Delegates censured Del. Mary Ann Lisanti for her use of a racial slur, which members said, “brought dishonor to the entire General Assembly of Maryland.” After the vote, Lisanti said she would not resign, despite calls for her to do so. She also said she did not believe she had used an offensive term to describe African-Americans, although she acknowledged earlier in the week that she had done so. Lisanti came under fire after it was reported she used the racial slur during an after-hours gathering in January at an Annapolis bar. Lisanti told a fellow lawmaker that when he helped a candidate in Prince George’s County, he was knocking on doors in a “n—– district,” according to the report.

Nevada: Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson Resigns
Las Vegas Review-Journal – Colton Lochhead and Bill Dentzer | Published: 3/5/2019

Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson resigned after admitting to using campaign funds for personal use and said he will plead guilty to federal charges. Sen. Nicole Cannizzaro was elected by Senate Democrats as the new leader of the majority. Cannizzaro becomes the first woman to serve as Senate majority leader in the state’s history. Details of the investigation, including how much money was misappropriated and what exactly Atkinson used the money for, remain unclear. Atkinson’s resignation marks the first time a lawmaker has left mid-session since 2013. But it is far from the first time a state lawmaker has recently found themselves on the wrong side of campaign finance laws.

New Hampshire: GOP Lawmakers in N.H. Wore Pearls While Gun Violence Victims Testified. Activists Were Outraged.
Boston Globe – Reis Thebault (Washington Post) | Published: 3/5/2019

Republican members of the New Hampshire House are drawing scrutiny for wearing pearl necklaces while activists with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America shared their experiences with gun violence at a recent hearing on a bill that would make it easier to take weapons away from potentially dangerous people. Critics who posted the images on social media said the implication was clear: the politicians thought gun-control activists were “clutching their pearls” in overwrought and self-righteous outrage – and, specifically, female outrage. Some pro-gun advocates argued the legislators’ intent was to represent opposition to the bill. Kimberly Morin, president of the Women’s Defense League of New Hampshire, said opponents of gun control measures have been wearing pearls at gun-related hearings since 2016.

New Mexico: Former Public Servants Lobby Ex-Colleagues
Albuquerque Journal – Dan McKay | Published: 2/28/2019

Former Rep. Debbie Rodella Rodella is one of a few former officials who were public servants during the last legislative session and lobbyists this year, including Keith Gardner, the chief of staff under then-Gov. Susana Martinez. Also making the immediate transition are former Reps. Bealquin Gomez and Jim Smith. New Mexico law does not prohibit ex-lawmakers from lobbying once their terms end. Some legislators have tried repeatedly to change that, with proposals to impose a one- or two-year waiting period. Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth said a “cooling-off” period would be appropriate. “It just doesn’t feel right to immediately be in a position where you’re coming back to your colleagues, who you were an equal with, and the next day you’re lobbying them on behalf of a client,” said Wirth.

North Carolina: Why a Judge Ruled That the Entire North Carolina Legislature Is Illegitimate
Governing – Alan Greenblatt | Published: 2/27/2019

Wake County Superior Court Judge G. Bryan Collins struck down two constitutional amendments that had been approved by North Carolina voters in November. One regarded voter ID requirements and the other a cap on state income taxes. The amendments had been placed on the ballot by the Republican-controlled Legislature. Collins ruled the lawmakers had no standing to approve constitutional amendments because they were elected using maps that federal courts, up to the U.S. Supreme Court, found to be unconstitutional racial gerrymanders. “An illegally constituted General Assembly does not represent the people of North Carolina and is therefore not empowered to pass legislation that would amend the state’s constitution,” Collins wrote.

Oregon: Lawmakers Come and Go, but the Lobby Remains a Powerful Constant in Oregon Legislature
Portland Tribune – Claire Withycombe, Aubrey Wieber, and Paris Achen | Published: 3/1/2019

Interest groups in Oregon spent $12 million more on lobbying in 2017 than they did a decade earlier. That spending is only part of the cost of doing business in Salem. Donating to campaigns and other political operations is routine – interest groups sank $25 million into last year’s state elections. Now that the legislative session is underway, the focus is on trying to shape the laws and spending that will affect every Oregonian. The lobbyists return year after year, some decade after decade. In contrast, some legislators last only one term. “In a Legislature that has extremely high turnover, there are different institutional forces that have impact on the outcomes of legislation … but the one constant in Salem is gonna be the lobby,” said state Rep. Dan Rayfield.

Oregon: Oregon Legislature Reaches $1.3M Settlement Over Sexual Harassment
Portland Oregonian – Hillary Borrud | Published: 3/5/2019

Oregon legislative leaders announced they have signed a $1.3 million settlement with state labor regulators and nine women who experienced sexual harassment at the Capitol. The women will receive $1.1 million and the Legislature will pay the Bureau of Labor and Industries $200,000 to cover the agency’s legal costs. As part of the deal, the women agreed not to pursue legal action against the Legislature and other named defendants. For its part, the Legislature agreed to implement a list of reforms to make the Capitol a safer place to work, including adopting a definition of harassment with specific examples and using an independent lawyer to handle any discrimination and harassment complaints until it creates a new Equity Office.

South Carolina: SC Politicians, Lobbyists and More 0we $2.4M in Ethics Fines, But Many Will Never Pay
The State – Lucas Deprile | Published: 3/6/2019

There are 337 candidates, political parties, and lobbyists who owe the South Carolina Ethics Commission a total of $2.4 million in fines, many of which will likely never be collected. More than half of those who owed fines eight years ago still have not paid them, even though many large penalties have been reduced. The law says those who fail to file the appropriate forms must pay $10 per report every day after they are notified that they owe money. But after 10 days, that increases to $100 per missing report per day. The maximum fine is capped at $5,000, but until 2011, there was no ceiling to how much someone would owe.

West Virginia: Poster Linking Rep. Ilhan Omar to 9/11 Sparks Outrage at West Virginia Capitol
Los Angeles Times – Eli Rosenberg (Washington Post) | Published: 3/2/2019

The chairperson of the West Virginia Republican Party said the GOP does not condone an anti-Muslim poster displayed at the Capitol during a Republican event that linked U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar to the September 11 terrorist attacks. The poster featured a picture of planes flying into the World Trade Center with the phrase “never forget, you said” and then under it, a picture of Omar with the words “I am proof you have forgotten.” Del. Michael Angelucci said he heard Sergeant at Arms Anne Lieberman, the chamber’s principal law enforcement official, call all Muslims terrorists. Lieberman disputed that accusation yet submitted a resignation letter. Del. Mike Caputo admitted to kicking open the chamber doors out of anger, an act that reportedly injured a doorkeeper.

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October 5, 2018 •

News You Can Use – October 5, 2018

      National: Missing in the G.O.P.: Black and Hispanic Nominees for Governor New York Times – Astead Herndon | Published: 10/3/2018 In the first midterm elections under Donald Trump, whose campaign and presidency included strong appeals to white voters, Republicans have […]

 

 

 

National:

Missing in the G.O.P.: Black and Hispanic Nominees for Governor
New York Times – Astead Herndon | Published: 10/3/2018

In the first midterm elections under Donald Trump, whose campaign and presidency included strong appeals to white voters, Republicans have no black or Hispanic nominees for governor in 2018, and few from other racial minorities, in the 36 states holding elections for the position. The overwhelming majority are white men. Democrats this year have nominated black, Hispanic, and Native American candidates for governor in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, and elsewhere. The Republican falloff is striking after past election seasons when party leaders attempted to identify and then rally behind minority candidates for governor in major states, like Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Federal:

Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches from His Father
MSN – David Barstow, Susanne Craig, and Russ Buettner (New York Times) | Published: 10/2/2018

Donald Trump won the presidency proclaiming himself a self-made billionaire, and he has insisted his father provided almost no financial help. But an investigation reveals Trump received the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father’s real estate empire, starting when he was a toddler and continuing to this day. Much of this money came to Trump because he helped his parents dodge taxes. He and his siblings set up a sham corporation to disguise millions of dollars in gifts from their parents. Records indicate Trump helped his father take improper tax deductions worth millions of dollars more. He also helped formulate a strategy to undervalue his parents’ real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars on tax returns, reducing the tax bill when those properties were transferred to him and his siblings.

From the States and Municipalities:

Alabama: ‘Beach House Sheriff’ Used Pistol Permit Fees to Pay for TV Commercials During Campaign
AL.com – Connor Sheets | Published: 10/3/2018

Between October 31, 2017, and July, Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin paid Venture Marketing Group more than $29,000 for work related to television ads. Venture created multiple commercials that only aired during the eight months prior to the June primary election. Even though the ads feature Entrekin speaking about the sheriff’s office and promoting programs he oversees as sheriff, his campaign committee did not pay Venture for the work. Entrekin instead paid the company out of an official sheriff’s office account he alone controls called the Sheriff’s Law Enforcement Fund. Nearly half of the money in the fund is generated by selling pistol permits.

Arizona: This Lawmaker Stands to Earn at Least $11M on His Own Charter Schools. His Votes Helped Lay the Groundwork.
Arizona Republic – Craig Harris | Published: 10/2/2018

Arizona House Speaker J.D. Mesnard and Rep. Eddie Farnsworth amended the state budget to exempt charter schools from procurement and conflict-of-interest laws, and from a requirement to disclose their entire annual spending plans on school websites. Farnsworth was not just a lawmaker interested in the details of the bill. He also runs a four-campus charter chain that because of the amendment would remain free of state oversight of its spending. Farnsworth’s involvement in the last-minute maneuver highlights how his roles as a state lawmaker and charter-school operator have for years mingled at the Capitol, almost always to the benefit of Farnsworth and the state’s other charter school operators.

California: Gov. Brown Signs Bill Requiring Lobbyists to Receive Sexual Harassment Prevention Training
San Francisco Chronicle – Bay City News Service | Published: 10/1/2018

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that requires lobbyists to receive sexual harassment prevention training.  Assembly Bill 2055 requires lobbyists’ ethics courses to include information on Assembly and Senate policies against harassment, including sexual harassment, in connection with lobbying activities. “We need to make sure that everyone who does business in the Capitol understands what we mean by our zero-tolerance policy. Mandated training is an effective method to get that message across,” Assemblyperson Marc Levine said.

California: New State Law Requires More Transparency from Social Media Political Ads
Voice of OC – Brandon Pho | Published: 10/3/2018

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a social media disclosure bill into law. A separate bill had bolstered the requirements for disclosing the names of the top three funders of ballot measures and independent expenditures on television, radio, and print ads. Assembly Bill 2188 now extends those same requirements to online platforms. Social media platforms that sell ads directly to advertisers will be required to keep a database of any political ad disseminated on the platform by a committee that purchased $500 or more in ads within a year.

Florida:Lobbyists Paid to Pressure County Officials Skip Filing Required Disclosures, Audit Says
Fort Myers News-Press – Bill Smith | Published: 9/29/2018

An audit found nearly 60 percent of registered lobbyists in Lee County, Florida have missed the required filing of annual or quarterly statements on their activities. The county ordinance covers contact with county commissioners and employees at the director level and above to report contacts with anyone who is paid to “influence the passage, defeat, modification or repeal,” of any matter requiring a commission vote. It also includes non-secretarial employees in the purchasing division and contracts office. Companies that employee lobbyists are required to file an annual registration statement and quarterly statements about lobbying activities.

Kentucky: Ethics Bill Seeks to Close Reporting Loophole on Groups Paying for Legislators’ Travel
Insider Louisville – Joe Sonka | Published: 9/27/2018

An ethics bill pre-filed in Kentucky could close a reporting loophole that allowed groups, including partisan advocacy organizations, to prepay for the out-of-state travel and lodging expenses of state legislators. A recent investigation estimated that up to $100,000 was spent by outside groups on lawmakers’ approved travel outside of the state last year; that spending did not have to be reported to any state agency. While public funds spent on such travel and reimbursements from private groups must be reported, there is no requirement for legislators to disclose how much those organizations spend to send them to conferences and events, so long as such groups pay for the airfare, lodging, and meals in advance.

Mississippi: In Mississippi Senate Race, an African American Democrat Faces a Republican Using a Confederate Symbol
Washington Post – Cleve Wootson Jr. | Published: 9/30/2018

U.S. Senate candidate Mike Espy has tried to remind Mississippians how he has served them in the past, with three terms in the U.S. House who spent time as President Clinton’s agriculture secretary. But even his most ardent supporters worry that when many voters go to the polls in November, what Espy has done will matter much less than what he is: a black man running for one of the highest elected offices in a state with a Confederate emblem on its flag. One of his opponents is hearkening to another version of the past: Republican Chris McDaniel, a conservative fond of provocative statements whose yard signs feature the flag of the Confederate States of America.

New Jersey: Murphy Still Defends Hiring Ex-Official Jailed for Corruption (Even Though He Was Forced to Resign)
Newark Star Ledger – Brent Johnson (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 10/2/2018

Gov. Phil Murphy  continued to defend his administration’s decision to hire a former Passaic City Council member who served prison time for accepting bribes, even after the hiring was deemed unlawful and Marcellus Jackson was forced to resign. Murphy hired Jackson in July for a $70,000-a-year position as a special assistant in the state Department of Education’s Office of Civic and Social Engagement. Murphy said his administration conducted a legal review that cleared Jackson’s hiring. But Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said state law should have prevented the hire because former public officials convicted of corruption are disqualified from ever holding a public job again in New Jersey.

Pennsylvania: Alex Trebek Moderated a Gubernatorial Debate in Pennsylvania. It Didn’t Go Well.
Chicago Tribune – Antonia Noori Farzan (Washington Post) | Published: 10/2/2018

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and his Republican challenger, Scott Wagner, met recently in their only debate prior to the November election with “Jeopardy” host Alex Trebek serving as moderator. While moderators typically ask questions and let the candidates talk, Trebek spoke at length – at times sharing his own policy opinions – during the 45-minute debate, frustrating viewers. At one point, Trebek joked that the only thing with a lower approval rating than the Pennsylvania Legislature was the Catholic Church. Polite laughter from the audience turned to boos. On Twitter, the consensus was that Trebek should stick to his day job.

Tennessee: In Tennessee Senate Race, Financial Missteps Linger in the Background
New York Times – Danny Hakim | Published: 10/3/2018

U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, the Republican candidate for an open Senate seat in Tennessee, has faced questions about her spending practices. In her years as a member of Congress, she has paid out more than $370,000 from her campaign funds to her daughter and son-in-law or firms they control. Her campaigns have received 54 requests for additional information from the FEC since 2002, and in a 2008 audit, the campaign admitted receiving nearly $400,000 in unreported contributions and expenditures. Her opponent, Phil Bredesen, has had his own financial misstep. A longtime booster of the solar industry as governor, he started a solar company with two of his aides during his last year in office. After he left office, the business went on to reap some of the tax breaks the Bredesen administration had put in place.

Vermont: Governor’s Business Ties Violate State Ethics Code, Commission Finds
VTDigger.org – Mark Johnson | Published: 10/2/2018

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott violated the ethics code by maintaining an ongoing financial relationship with a company doing business with the state, according to the Vermont State Ethics Commission. Under political pressure, Scott sold his interest in Dubois Construction back to the company after he took office in 2017. Scott received no cash at the time of the transaction and is still owed $2.5 million by the company. The commission said the conflict arose when Dubois won a two-year contract for $250,000 in 2017, which the panel said “provides significant income to the company, and directly assists the company in meeting its financial obligation to the public official.”

Washington: Washington Court Upholds Fine Against Anti-GMO Group
Capital Press – Don Jenkins | Published: 10/3/2018

An appeals court affirmed that Food Democracy Now must pay a $319,281 fine for not reporting the names of more than 7,000 donors who supported a food labeling initiative in 2013. The court rejected the group’s argument that it should not have been convicted because it did not intentionally hide the donations. Judge Rich Melnick said the law does not make an exception for unintentionally concealing the source of campaign contributions. The fine stemmed from Initiative 522, which would have required food and beverage makers to label products with genetically modified ingredients.

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September 14, 2018 •

News You Can Use – September 14, 2018

      National: Republicans Running for Governor Look for Success in Unlikely Places: Blue states Washington Post – Tim Craig | Published: 9/9/2018 Democrats are becoming concerned as moderate Republican candidates are proving to be resilient in unexpected places, even as much […]

 

 

 

National:

Republicans Running for Governor Look for Success in Unlikely Places: Blue states
Washington Post – Tim Craig | Published: 9/9/2018

Democrats are becoming concerned as moderate Republican candidates are proving to be resilient in unexpected places, even as much of the GOP shifts to the right. With 36 gubernatorial races on the ballot nationwide, Democrats are still expected to make gains in statehouses this year. But recent polls suggest Republicans Larry Hogan of Maryland, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, and Phil Scot and of Vermont, all up for re-election this fall in states carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016, remain among the most popular governors in the country and are favored to win re-election. Their success in winning and governing as moderates is serving as a model for GOP candidates elsewhere, including in Rhode Island and Oregon, where officials in both parties say the governor’s race is competitive.

Viral Videos Are Replacing Pricey Political Ads. They’re Cheaper, and They Work.
MSN – Jeremy Peters and Sapna Maheshwari (New York Times) | Published: 9/11/2018

The wave of female, minority, and outsider candidates that is breaking cultural barriers and toppling incumbents in the Democratic Party is also sweeping aside a longstanding norm in campaigns: that the public image of politicians, especially women, should be upbeat and conventional. For many of these Democrats who were running against better-financed rivals, the breakthrough moment came after they got personal in relatively low-cost videos that went viral, reaching millions of people. Using documentary-style storytelling, candidates have found a successful alternative to the traditional model of raising huge sums of money that get spent on expensive television commercials.

Federal:

Activists Raised $1 Million to Defeat Susan Collins If She Votes for Kavanaugh. She Says It’s Bribery.
Washington Post – Eli Rosenberg | Published: 9/11/2018

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, a centrist Republican, is seen as a swing vote in Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. She has said she would not vote to confirm a nominee who was hostile to Roe v. Wade. So, a group of liberal activists in Maine created an unusual crowdfunding campaign to influence Collins: they raised money in the form of pledges they said they would give to whoever decided to challenge her re-election in 2020. Donors’ credit cards will only be charged if she votes to confirm Kavanaugh. At least one ethics expert said it may violate federal bribery statutes, which prohibit giving or offering anything of value to government officials in exchange for any acts or votes.

Campaigns, Parties Can Accept Free Service From Microsoft, FEC Says
Roll Call – Stephanie Aiken | Published: 9/10/2018

The FEC ruled Microsoft may offer special cybersecurity assistance to candidates without violating rules against corporate contributions. One watchdog group called it an unprecedented opening for corporations looking to influence lawmakers and skirt campaign finance laws. Federal election law prohibits companies from providing free services to lawmakers. But the FEC would make an exception in this case, it ruled, because Microsoft would be acting out of business interests and not trying to curry favor. The decision also noted Microsoft has promised to offer the services “on a non-partisan basis.” Opponents of the change said the exception was too broad.

In an Increasingly Diverse House, Aides Remain Remarkably White
WRAL – Nicholas Fandos (New York Times) | Published: 9/11/2018

U.S. House aides write federal policy, oversee the administration of government, and shape the public’s view of Congress. But the top staff members of the House are far less racially diverse than the country itself, or even the lawmakers who employ them. Approximately 14 percent of top staff members in the House are people of color. That compares with 38 percent of the country and 23 percent of the House. Of the 40 top Democratic and Republican aides who lead the staffs of committees, only six are nonwhite. “The House of Representatives cannot effectively create public policy that benefits all Americans if the people making policy decisions do not look like all of America,” said Spencer Overton, the president of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, which released the study.

From the States and Municipalities:

California: Banning Man Wins $220,000 from State Political Watchdog Panel
Riverside Press-Enterprise – Craig Schultz | Published: 9/7/2018

Frank Burgess was awarded more than $200,000 in legal fees after a court found the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) violated his Constitutional protections related to a fine levied against him as a member of a nonprofit hospital board. Burgess was fined $5,000 by the FPPC for trying to convince other members of the San Gorgonio Hospital board to continue doing business with his son’s moving and storage company. Burgess argued that as a nonprofit board, members did not fall under the Political Reform Act. A Superior Court judge overturned the fine, agreeing with Burgess’s contention that he had been denied due process because he had no forewarning he was considered a public official.

California: Koch-Backed Charity Must Reveal Donor List to California Officials, Appeals Panel Rules
Connecticut Post – Michelle Ye Hee Lee (Washington Post) | Published: 9/11/2018

A federal appeals court ruled the charity Americans for Prosperity (AFP) Foundation, which is linked to billionaire Charles Koch, must disclose its donors to California officials. The foundation had argued the state’s rules requiring filing of the donor list violate the First Amendment by discouraging individuals from giving and by exposing them to threats and harassment. The case could test the ability of state agencies to compel nonprofits to disclose the identities of their donors, particularly ones that are tied to “social welfare” nonprofits, commonly referred to as “dark money” groups. One such group is Americans for Prosperity, the main political arm of the influential Koch network. AFP Foundation, a sister organization, is a charity that focuses on education and research.

Colorado: Colorado’s Independent Ethics Commission on Uncertain Course
Colorado Springs Gazette – Marianne Goodland | Published: 9/10/2018

Critics say the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission’s (IEC) structure, staffing, and funding make it impossible for the public to have any confidence that ethics issues – whether it is investigations into potential violations, training for government employees, or guidance – are handled in a logical or even timely manner. The monthly commission meetings focus on complaints and advisory opinions. But most of the meetings are conducted in executive sessions behind closed doors. During those sessions, commissioners decide which complaints are frivolous and then will make public what they have decided. Between 2008 and 2017, the IEC received 196 complaints. All but 20 were dismissed as frivolous, out of the IEC’s jurisdiction, or withdrawn. Whether those complaints were truly frivolous will never be known.

Iowa: Iowa Governor Flew to Game on Vendor’s Plane
Associated Press – Ryan Foley | Published: 9/12/2018

Gov. Kim Reynolds received approval from Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board Director Megan Tooker to fly with her family to Iowa State’s bowl game last year free of charge on the jet of a state vendor. Reynolds accepted the trip as a campaign donation from Sedgwick’s chief executive officer, who says he reimbursed his company for the plane’s use. The governor’s office said “bona fide campaign events” would take place during the half-day trip. Tooker said in December the governor could accept the flight, although Tooker now says she was unaware the airplane was owned by Sedgwick. Tooker also says she does not know what campaign activity Reynolds engaged in during the trip, which would be required for the flight to be considered an allowable campaign contribution instead of an illegal gift.

Kentucky: What’s Bevin Hiding? Worker Who Got $215K Raise Is His Old Army Buddy
Louisville Courier-Journal – Tom Loftus and Morgan Watkins | Published: 9/12/2018

When Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin wanted a new state chief information officer, he did not do a national search – he hired an old Army buddy and longtime business associate last October at a salary that now leads the nation for similar state. Some state lawmakers were stunned when it was reported Bevin gave Charles Grindle a $215,000 pay raise, an unusual 134 percent increase after less than a year on the job. Neither Bevin nor Grindle have responded to requests for information about their relationship and any role it might have played in Grindle’s hiring and rapid increase in pay. A former official of the Commonwealth Office of Technology said Grindle spoke openly about his long friendship with Bevin and that he had worked for Bevin in an unspecified capacity before going on the state payroll.

Maryland: Baltimore Ethics Board Rejects Mayor Pugh’s Request for Sweeping Exemption from Fundraising Rules
Baltimore Sun – Ian Duncan | Published: 9/7/2018

The Baltimore Board of Ethics rejected Mayor Catherine Pugh’s request to be exempted from rules that bar city employees from raising money for charitable causes without prior approval. Pugh was seeking a waiver so she could solicit funds from private donors that would help pay for her administration’s social programs and other community initiatives. The board said it was unwilling to grant a blanket exception to Pugh, who could still seek waivers on a case-by-case basis. Pugh;’s office said she needed the new fundraising powers to bolster the city’s existing budget. Board member Stephan Fogleman said he was concerned the waiver the mayor sought would have made it difficult for the public to know what she was raising money for.

Michigan: Why This U-M Regent Just Returned Thousands in Campaign Donations
Detroit Free Press – Matthew Dolan and David Jesse | Published: 9/13/2018

Wealthy alumni who have sway over the University of Michigan’s $11billion endowment have given thousands in campaign donations to members of the university’s governing board. A review of state records shows two members of the university’s elected Board of Regents accepted in total nearly $30,000 in contributions from donors associated with funds receiving university investments. In addition, a family who helps guide the university’s investment strategy gave more than $29,000 to the board’s longest-serving member. To critics, some of the donations could pose a conflict-of-interest. Regent Andrea Fischer Newman pledged to return thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from three wealthy businesspeople who help control millions of dollars in university investments.

Missouri: Court Affirms Major Blow to Missouri Amendment Restricting Campaign Donations
St. Louis Public Radio – Jason Rosenbaum | Published: 9/10/2018

A federal appeals court upheld a lower court ruling that Missouri’s ban on donations from one PAC to another is unconstitutional. The Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled the ban on PAC-to-PAC giving violates committees’ right to free speech. The appeals court ruled the Missouri Ethics Commission failed to show PAC-to-PAC contributions would breed corruption because the groups are not controlled by a candidate and operate independently from any party running for political office. The decision permanently stops the commission from enforcing the ban.

Ohio: Ethics Panel Imposes Stricter Rules on Ohio Lawmaker Travel
WOSU – Jo Ingles | Published: 9/11/2018

The Ohio Joint Legislative Ethics Committee said lawmakers and their employees cannot accept travel expenses from lobbyists unless those result from participation in a panel, seminar, or speaking engagement or were incurred at a meeting of a national organization of which any state agency is a dues paying member. When it comes to sharing rides with lobbyists for personal travel, starting immediately, lawmakers must reimburse the cost of their travel within a week.

Washington: Washington AG to Press for $18 Million Fine Against Foodmakers
Capital Press – Don Jenkins | Published: 9/6/2018

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said his office will seek to restore an $18 million fine against the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), which an appeals court overturned recently. The court upheld GMA’s conviction and left in place a $6 million judgment for shielding the names of food and beverage companies that contributed to a campaign against a GMO-labeling initiative in 2013. The court ruled, however, that a lower court judge erred by finding that GMA intentionally broke the law and tripling the penalty. Even at $6 million, the fine would be the largest campaign finance penalty in U.S. history.

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August 24, 2018 •

News You Can Use Digest – August 24, 2018

      National: Despite Year-of-the-Woman Buzz, Female Candidates Lag Behind Men in Pulling in Campaign Cash The News-Times – Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Anu Narayanswamy (Washington Post) | Published: 8/16/2018 Even as a record number of women run for office this […]

 

 

 

National:

Despite Year-of-the-Woman Buzz, Female Candidates Lag Behind Men in Pulling in Campaign Cash
The News-Times – Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Anu Narayanswamy (Washington Post) | Published: 8/16/2018

Even as a record number of women run for office this year, female congressional candidates trail their male counterparts when it comes to fundraising. Of candidates who showed viability by raising at least $50,000, men running for the House had collected almost 17 percent more on average than their female counterparts by the end of June. One key factor is many female candidates lack relationships with longtime donors who work in traditionally male-dominated industries such as finance. That is a particular challenge for women this cycle, because the majority are newcomers to politics and, like any non-incumbent, must build donor networks from scratch. But their task is often more difficult, some female candidates said, because of skepticism about their potential, based on their gender.

Federal:

Elizabeth Warren Unveils Plans to Root Out Corruption in Washington, Ensure Federal Government Works for Americans
MassLive.com – Shannon Young | Published: 8/21/2018

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduced the Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act, which lays out a multi-step approach to ending corruption and increasing public integrity. It calls for permanently banning elected and appointed officials from becoming lobbyists after they leave office, barring presidents and federal lawmakers from owning companies while in office, and ending “legalized lobbyist bribery” by preventing them from writing campaign checks or giving personal gifts to candidates or lawmakers. The bill would also create an independent anti-corruption agency dedicated to enforcing federal ethics laws and requiring elected officials and candidates to disclose more financial and tax information, among other provisions.

Hunter Indictment Could Jeopardize GOP Seat
Politico – John Bresnahan and Rachel Bade | Published: 8/21/2018

U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter and his wife were indicted on allegations of using more than $250,000 of campaign funds for personal expenses, including family vacations, private school tuition for their children, dental work, and an airline ticket for a pet rabbit. The indictment portrays the Hunters as a couple with serious financial problems. They allegedly overdrew their joint checking account more than 1,100 times during a seven-year period, leading to more than $37,000 in overdraft charges. Hunter’s indictment endangers a traditionally conservative southern California seat long held by Republicans. Hunter cannot take his name off the November ballot and California does not allow write-in candidates.

Michael Cohen Says He Arranged Payments to Women at Trump’s Direction
MSN – William Rashbaum, Maggie Haberman, Ben Protess, and Jim Rutenberg (New York Times) | Published: 8/21/2018

Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former personal lawyer, pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations and other charges, saying Trump directed him to arrange the payment of hush money to adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal to fend off damage to his White House bid. Cohen’s admission marks the first time any Trump associate has gone into open court and implicated Trump himself in a crime. Under federal law, expenditures to protect a candidate’s political fortunes can be construed to be campaign contributions, subject to laws that bar donations from corporations and set limits on how much can be given. Trump denied to reporters in April that he knew anything about Cohen’s payments to Daniels.

From the States and Municipalities:

California: Developer Whose Wife Sat on Ethics Commission Faces $15,000 Fine Over Political Donations
Los Angeles Times – Emily Alpert Reyes and David Zahniser | Published: 8/20/2018

Six years ago, city council President Herb Wesson drew criticism for putting the wife of a campaign fundraiser on the Los Angeles Ethics Commission, a panel that votes on fines for people who violate political contribution rules. Wesson had selected nonprofit executive Erin Pak, who was also the wife of architect and real estate developer Chris Pak, host of fundraising events for Mayor Eric Garcetti and other local politicians. Erin Pak left the commission three years ago. Now, Chris Pak is facing $15,000 in proposed fines from the commission for giving contributions that exceeded the city limit. All but one of the violations took place during the period when Erin Pak was on the commission.

Florida: After a Florida Democrat Said She’d Take Donations from the Marijuana Industry, Wells Fargo Closed Her Bank Account
Washington Post – Christopher Ingraham | Published: 8/20/2018

Nikki Fried, who is running for agriculture commissioner in Florida, said Wells Fargo terminated her campaign’s account because of her links to the medical marijuana businesses. Fried said the action came after the bank questioned her about her campaign platform and donations she had taken, as well as her stance on medical marijuana. Wells Fargo spokesperson Jennifer Dunn said the bank’s policy is to not provide services for businesses related to marijuana businesses. Fried has accepted campaign contributions from lobbyists connected to medical marijuana. If such a policy were applied nationwide it could potentially jeopardize the banking access of dozens of state and national politicians.

Georgia: Georgia Voting Rights Activists Move to Block a Plan to Close Two-Thirds of Polling Places in a Majority Black County
Chicago Tribune – Vanessa Williams (Washington Post) | Published: 8/18/2018

Randolph County in rural Georgia wants to eliminate all but two of the county’s polling locations just months before the midterm elections because they are not in compliance with disabilities laws. Some residents and progressive groups allege the move was aimed at suppressing turnout in the county, in which more than 55 percent of the voters are black and have backed Democratic candidates in statewide elections. Activists noted many residents have low incomes and the county, which covers 431 square miles, has no public transportation system. All nine of the polling places were used for the May primaries and less than a month ago for statewide run-offs.

Kentucky: Loophole Allows Organizations to Pay for Legislators’ Out-of-State Travel Without Disclosing Amounts
Insider Louisville – Joe Sonka | Published: 8/22/2018

Due to a loophole in Kentucky’s ethics law, a large majority of travel expenditures for state lawmakers covered by private organizations are not required to be disclosed by lawmakers to the Legislative Research Commission or the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission. John Schaaf, executive director of the ethics panel, said this reporting loophole occurs when those groups pay in advance for legislators’ travel, as “there is no disclosure required of expenses prepaid for transportation, food and lodging.” Events organized by outside groups are sometimes funded by businesses and interests that lobby the Legislature.

Louisiana: Louisiana Senate President Sank Ride-Sharing Bill. His Close Pal Sells Insurance to Cabs.
ProPublica – Rebekah Allen | Published: 8/23/2018

Ride-sharing companies are not coming to many parts of Louisiana anytime soon because the state does not have legislation in place allowing them to operate. It is one of only five states that lacks such a law, instead requiring the companies to go through the costly and time-intensive process of getting approval in each locality. A bill to change that has garnered widespread and bipartisan support among politicians and was favored by many economic development groups. But the legislation has been blocked by Senate President John Alario. Many observers noted Alario’s close personal, professional, and political alliance with former Sen. Francis Heitmeier, who makes a living selling insurance to cab companies and lobbied against the ride-sharing bill. The cab industry was one of the few opponents of the measure.

Mississippi: Inside a Super PAC That Spends on Everything but Winning
Associated Press – Brian Slodysko | Published: 8/16/2018

Two billionaire political donors poured $1.25 million into a super PAC that was supposed to supercharge Chris McDaniel’s insurgent bid to be Mississippi’s next Republican senator. A year later, much of the money from Richard Uihlein and Robert Mercer is gone. Only a fraction was spent reaching voters who could boost the former state lawmaker’s uphill battle against Cindy Hyde-Smith in a November special election that will determine who finishes out Sen. Thad Cochran’s term. What the Remember Mississippi super PAC has provided, however, is a generous payday for at least 18 campaign consultants who received the lion’s share of the money.

Montana: Montana’s Campaign-Contribution Limits Appealed to U.S. Supreme Court
KXLH – Mike Dennison | Published: 8/17/2018

James Bopp Jr. asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overrule a 2017 lower-court ruling that upheld Montana’s limits on campaign contributions for state candidates. Bopp has been an attorney in many cases challenging limits on campaign spending and contributions, including Citizens United. His appeal in the Montana case is the latest development in a seven-year-old lawsuit challenging the state’s contribution limits, which were enacted by initiative in 1994.

New York: A Corrupt Lobbyist’s Influence in the Cuomo Administration Is Revealed in Newly Disclosed Emails
New York Times – Jesse McKinley | Published: 8/20/2018

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly downplayed his relationship with his former aide Todd Howe, who became key figure in a pair of federal corruption cases after pleading guilty and reaching a deal with prosecutors. Howe’s cooperation in those cases helped convict two other former top aides: Joseph Percoco, once one of Cuomo’s closest friends and trusted advisers, and Alain Kaloyeros, the economic expert who the governor praised as a genius. But in nearly 350 pages of emails, it was clear Howe had entree to the top levels of Cuomo’s administration, a period that included the time leading up to the news of the federal probe.

New York: Cuomo Signs Bill Banning Use of Paid Intermediaries to Win State Pension Fund Business
New York Daily News – Kenneth Lovett | Published: 8/21/2018

New York Gov. Andrew Gov. Cuomo signed legislation that bars firms from using placement agents, paid intermediaries, and registered lobbyists in obtaining investments from the state pension fund. Assembly Bill 3137 puts into law a policy adopted by Controller Thomas DiNapoli nearly a decade ago amid a “pay-to-play” scandal. The probe resulted in eight people being charged criminally, including two, former state Controller Alan Hevesi and his political consultant Hank Morris, who went to prison.

West Virginia: How One West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Gave Natural Gas a Big Victory and Shortchanged Residents
ProPublica – Ken Ward Jr. | Published: 8/20/2018

The West Virginia House impeached the four sitting justices on the state Supreme Court for extravagant spending, among other charges. Justice Beth Walker was impeached over allegations of irresponsible spending and poorly managing the court’s administrative affairs. Left unmentioned in the debate has been a peculiar vote by Walker that benefited the natural gas industry. She made an unusual decision to reopen a case and then reverse a Supreme Court ruling that would have forced drillers to pay more in profits to residents. Walker made the decision around the time her husband owned stock in a variety of energy companies, including those participating in West Virginia’s growing gas boom.

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July 6, 2018 •

News You Can Use Digest – July 6, 2018

      National: Ethics Charges Could Hurt Fight Against Legionnaires’ Disease Detroit Free Press – John Wisley | Published: 7/5/2018 Conflict-of-interest charges could derail a nationwide effort to curb outbreaks of deadly Legionnaires’ disease. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, […]

 

 

 

National:

Ethics Charges Could Hurt Fight Against Legionnaires’ Disease
Detroit Free Press – John Wisley | Published: 7/5/2018

Conflict-of-interest charges could derail a nationwide effort to curb outbreaks of deadly Legionnaires’ disease. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Veterans Affairs, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and representatives of the Mayo Clinic have withdrawn from a scientific committee that has been working on the topic for years. At issue is NSF International, a nonprofit research company that has been coordinating an effort to develop new plumbing standards to reduce the growth of legionella bacteria inside buildings. NSF has said one of its for-profit ventures was partnering with Homeyer Consulting Services to help companies meet the new standard once it is approved.

Is This the Year Women Break the Rules and Win?
New York Times – Kate Zernike | Published: 6/29/2018

This year’s midterm elections have produced a surge of women like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who defeated U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley, across the country: progressive candidates running outsider campaigns powered by strong personal narratives and women’s activism that began with massive marches the day after President Trump’s inauguration and has grown through protests against gun violence and immigration policies that divide families. Whether other women become overnight stars like Ocasio-Cortez –or Stacey Abrams, whose win in the Democratic primary for Georgia governor – in Georgia sparked similar excitement – depends on the dynamics of each state or district.

Federal:

EPA Leader Scott Pruitt Out After Numerous Scandals
CNBC – Tom DiChristopher | Published: 7/5/2018

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned after months of controversies over his lavish spending, ethical lapses, and contentious management decisions eroded President Trump’s confidence in one of his most ardent Cabinet members. Pruitt’s litany of ethics scandals included questions about taxpayer-funded first-class travel, a discounted condominium rental from a lobbyist, the installation of a $43,000 soundproof phone booth in his office, and asking staff to help search for a six-figure job for his wife. In recent weeks, an exodus of trusted staffers left Pruitt increasingly isolated, and some once-loyal Republican lawmakers wearied of defending him. There are more than a dozen federal inquiries into Pruitt’s spending and management of the agency.

News Media Paid Melania Trump Thousands for Use of Photos in ‘Positive Stories Only’
NBC News – Andrew Lehren, Emily Siegel, and Merritt Enright | Published: 7/2/2018

First lady Melania Trump reportedly earned between $100,000 and $1 million in royalties from Getty Images in 2017 for the use of photographs that under a licensing could only be used in “positive coverage.” At least 12 news organizations last year used some of the photos. Several said they were not aware the images were part of a licensing deal that profited the first lady. While it is not unusual for celebrities to sign deals governing the use of their images, it is unusual for the first lady to be party to such an agreement. Getty’s licensing agreement does not offer any hint that money is also paid to the Trumps, and the arrangement did not appear to have become public until the income was listed in President Trump’s May financial filing.

Supreme Court Defeat for Unions Upends a Liberal Money Base
Seattle Times – Noam Schreiber (New York Times) | Published: 7/1/2018

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that requiring nonmembers to make union payments violated their First Amendment rights, since much of what unions do could be considered political activity at odds with their beliefs. In addition to unions, the decision will impact a network of groups dedicated to advancing liberal policies and candidates. Together, they have benefited from tens of millions of dollars a year from public-sector unions, funding now in jeopardy because of the prospective decline in union revenue. Liberal activists argue that closing that pipeline was a crucial goal of the conservative groups that helped bring the case. “If the progressive movement is a navy, they’re trying to take out our aircraft carriers,” said Ben Wikler, Washington director of MoveOn.org.

Trump Docket: New justice could sway court on president’s personal cases
Politico – Josh Gerstein | Published: 7/5/2018

Lawsuits pending over Donald Trump’s personal and business conduct could put his nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court in an awkward position: deciding whether to cast potentially pivotal votes on legal matters of keen importance to the president. Virtually all justices wind up ruling on policy issues affecting the president who appointed them. But Trump is enmeshed in more than half a dozen significant court cases involving everything from his alleged sexual behavior before taking office to claims his businesses are profiting from his presidency and allegations he misused funds through his charitable foundation. The justices also could be asked to rule on whether Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election was legally authorized or whether Trump has the authority to dismiss the special prosecutor.

From the States and Municipalities:

Florida: Where Does She Live? A Miami Lawmaker’s Bizarre Attempt to Reside in Her District
Miami Herald – Sarah Blaskey and David Smiley | Published: 7/3/2018

State Sen. Daphne Campbell, longtime owner of a home inconveniently located outside the community she has represented as a member of the Florida House and Senate, has been difficult to find at home over the last 30 months. More accurately, her home has been difficult to find. That is until late June, when she switched her voter registration to a house in North Miami Beach. It is one of at least four addresses she has listed over the last six years after a statewide redrawing of House districts placed her own home outside the boundaries and forced her into a series of temporary residences. The extent to which she has actually lived at any of them is questionable.

Georgia: Campaign Contributions to Top Candidates Raise Questions
Washington Times; Associated Press –   | Published: 6/29/2018

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found donations of more than $325,000 to Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s campaign from people tied to licensees and companies regulated by his office. The newspaper found contributions of more than $240,000 to Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s campaign before the beginning of the 2018 legislative session from lobbyists, members of their family, or their firms, as well as another $40,000 donated after the session ended. Kemp and Cagle are locked in a runoff for the Republican nomination for governor. Critics say donations to Kemp by people with ties to businesses under the oversight of his licensing or securities divisions could undermine the credibility of one of the state’s top regulators.

Illinois: ‘I Snookered Them’: Illinois Nazi candidate creates GOP dumpster fire
Politico – Natasha Korecki | Published: 6/29/2018

Illinois Republicans botched four opportunities to stop an avowed Nazi from representing their party in a Chicago-area congressional district. Now they are paying the price. Arthur Jones, a Holocaust denier who will appear on the November ballot as the GOP candidate against U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, has become campaign fodder for Democrats as they seek to defeat Gov. Bruce Rauner. And some Republicans even fear the taint from Jones‘s extremist views poses a threat to the party up and down the ticket.

Indiana: New Pay-to-Play Ban Approved
Fort Wayne Journal Gazette – Rosa Salter Rodriguez | Published: 6/28/2018

The Fort Wayne City Council overrode a veto to approve a bill that aims to prevent the appearance of “pay-to-play” practices in the awarding of certain city contracts. The ordinance prohibits “business entities” from bidding on city contracts if any officer, partner, or principal with more than a 10 percent ownership share in the entity and subsidiaries controlled by it contributes more than $2,000 a year to a political campaign of someone with ultimate responsibility for awarding city contracts.

Kentucky: Kentucky Broke Law by Blocking Poor People’s Campaign from Capitol, Beshear Says
Lexington Herald-Leader – Jack Brammer | Published: 7/2/2018

Anti-poverty demonstrators were illegally restricted from entering the Capitol in June under a policy that is not an official state regulation, Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear said. The opinion deferred constitutional questions raised by the policy, suggesting those could be addressed if Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration completes the process for establishing regulations on access to the Capitol. The Kentucky Poor People’s Campaign staged a series of seven demonstrations. During each standoff at the Capitol’s front door, scores of demonstrators asked if they could enter as a group. But they were blocked by a large state police presence and told of a new policy that allowed two members of the group to be in the building at a time.

New Jersey: New Jersey to Spend $5 Million on Reviving Local Journalism
WPG Talk Radio – Michael Symons | Published: 7/3/2018

New Jersey’s new state budget includes $5 million for a first-of-its-kind nonprofit effort to help finance local journalism in cities and towns where it has been decimated. Some of the money could be used to strengthen traditional media sources, such as newspapers and radio stations, and existing local websites. Funds might be used for seed investments in startups in areas without local news, or even media literacy programs. “Studies have shown what happens when local news coverage dries up or disappears. Fewer people vote. Fewer people volunteer. Fewer people run for public office. Corruption increases,” said Mike Rispoli of the media reform advocacy group Free Press.

New York: Upcoming SCOTUS Case Could Complicate NY Effort to Close Double Jeopardy ‘Loophole’
New York Law Journal – Colby Hamilton and Dan Clark | Published: 7/2/2018

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case a case challenging the legal principle that the federal government and those of the states represent “separate sovereigns,” a long-held doctrine that has provided a work-around for state and federal prosecutors faced with constitutional double jeopardy concerns. It comes at a critical moment for supporters of changes to New York’s double jeopardy protections. Under certain circumstances, individuals close to President Trump, facing federal prosecution, could see a pardon absolve them of not only federal charges, but bar state prosecutors from bringing a similar case under New York law.

Oregon: Black Oregon Legislator Says Campaigning in Own District Triggered 911 Call
Portland Oregonian – Everton Bailey Jr. | Published: 7/3/2018

A black state representative in Oregon said one of her constituents called the police on her while she was canvassing a neighborhood in her district. Rep. Janelle Bynum said someone called the police on her to report that she “was going door to door and spending a lot of time typing on my cell phone after each house.” Bynum is up for re-election in November and said she was taking notes on her phone from conversations with constituents. A number of incidents in which police were called on people of color doing normal activities have gained widespread attention in recent months.

Virginia: Lobbying Firm to Va. Lawmakers: If you refuse Apco money, you won’t get any from us
Richmond Times-Dispatch – Patrick Wilson | Published: 6/25/2018

The law and lobbying firm Hunton Andrews Kurth said it would no longer make campaign contributions to Virginia lawmakers unless they also accept donations from one of the firm’s clients, Appalachian Power Co. The move affects legislators who signed a pledge saying they will not accept political money from the state’s regulated energy companies – Dominion Energy and Appalachian – to avoid the appearance of the companies’ undue influence on lawmakers. Whitt Clement, who heads the state government relations practice group at Hunton Andrews Kurth, said the lawmakers who do not accept contributions from Appalachian are being shortsighted because the company is an important corporate citizen in Virginia.

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June 20, 2018 •

Why should you be aware of best practices and recent trends regarding lobbying and gifts? Reputation is your company’s most valued asset. Perception is everything. This short educational video is a must-see for all government relations professionals involved in advocacy […]


Why should you be aware of best practices and recent trends regarding lobbying and gifts? Reputation is your company’s most valued asset. Perception is everything. This short educational video is a must-see for all government relations professionals involved in advocacy and lobbying compliance at the state and local level.

Adopting best practices for state and local lobbying and gift compliance will help your company avoid fines, debarment, or brand damage. Companies with a strong reputation for ethics compliance can better establish their role as industry leaders and trusted advisors.

Click here to view this video on best practices and recent trends for lobbying and gift-giving – and ensure you and your team can say “I Comply!”

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November 1, 2017 •

Let State and Federal Communications be your guide in 2018

It is not too early to start planning…Not for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s Eve. I am talking about 2018 legislative sessions, primary elections, and the November 6th general election. The Research Department at State and Federal Communications has been […]

It is not too early to start planning…Not for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s Eve. I am talking about 2018 legislative sessions, primary elections, and the November 6th general election.

The Research Department at State and Federal Communications has been busy, busy, busy updating our website with the important dates you need for 2018.

  • When will the states go into session? √
  • When are lobbying reports due? √
  • Will there be blackout periods in 2018? √
  • When will the primaries be held in the states? √
  • When are pre- and post-election reports due? √
  • Does every state have a general election in 2018? √

You just cannot go wrong when connected with the State and Federal Communications Community to know when your reports are due; elections are held; and when legislatures convene, adjourn, recess, and go into special session.

Access is easy for our subscribers. Sign onto StateandFed.com and input your login and password. The world is then at your fingers. If you need assistance with your access information, please call Megan Huber-Kovachik or Tony Didion at 330-761-9960 and they will provide the information.

You might not be able to tell by my desk, but my calendar is organized. Staying on top of these important compliance dates will help you manage your time in 2018.

This year is almost ending, which is hard to believe. Rest assured, State and Federal Communications is at your side for 2018.

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