June 27, 2019 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance National: “FEC Fines Florida-Based Company for Illegal Contribution to Support Rick Scott’s 2018 Campaign” by Stephanie Aiken for Roll Call Indiana: “Council Lawyer: Mayor unlikely to appeal campaign contribution ordinance” by Dave Gong for Fort Wayne Journal Gazette […]
National: “FEC Fines Florida-Based Company for Illegal Contribution to Support Rick Scott’s 2018 Campaign” by Stephanie Aiken for Roll Call
Indiana: “Council Lawyer: Mayor unlikely to appeal campaign contribution ordinance” by Dave Gong for Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
National: “Mueller to Testify to Congress, Setting Up a Political Spectacle” by Nicholas Fandos for New York Times
Arkansas: “Former Arkansas Lawmaker Pleads Guilty in Corruption Cases” by Andrew DeMillo for AP News
California: “Former L.A. Building Inspector Fined $100,000 for Double Dipping on City Project” by Dakota Smith for Los Angeles Times
South Carolina: “Denied Top State Job Amid Ethics Questions, Former SC Lawmaker Named Magistrate Instead” by Avery Wilks for The State
Canada: “Lobbying Watchdog Says Glitch in System Skewed Volume of Registrations” by Beatrice Paez for Hill Times
Wyoming: “A Mystery Group Has Been Pushing to Stop Gambling Regulation in Wyoming” by Nick Reynolds for Casper Star-Tribune
June 26, 2019 • Written by Joanna Kamvouris
Gov. David Ige signed a lobbying bill into law on June 25. The bill removes statutory remnants from when lobbying violations resulted in criminal penalties. Senate Bill 144 replaces “willfully” with “negligently” in the requirements of proof that a violation […]
Gov. David Ige signed a lobbying bill into law on June 25.
The bill removes statutory remnants from when lobbying violations resulted in criminal penalties.
Senate Bill 144 replaces “willfully” with “negligently” in the requirements of proof that a violation of the lobbyist law was committed for failure to file a statement or report.
Proceedings that were begun prior to the signing of the bill are not affected.
Additionally, rights and duties that matured and penalties that were incurred prior to the bill are not affected.
The bill became effective when signed.
June 25, 2019 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance Colorado: “Colorado Dems Have a Plan to Shine A Light on Dark Money. Could It Work?” by Sam Brasch for Colorado Public Radio Elections Pennsylvania: “Voting Rights and Election Reform Are Hot Topics with Pa. Lawmakers. It’s a […]
Colorado: “Colorado Dems Have a Plan to Shine A Light on Dark Money. Could It Work?” by Sam Brasch for Colorado Public Radio
Pennsylvania: “Voting Rights and Election Reform Are Hot Topics with Pa. Lawmakers. It’s a Moment Three Decades in the Making.” by Jonathan Lai for Philadelphia Inquirer
Utah: “Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox Will Distance Himself from Making Calls on Election Complaints in the Governor’s Race in Which He’s a Candidate” by Dan Harrie for Salt Lake Tribune
Illinois: “Ex-Lincoln-Way Superintendent Has Amassed Nearly $600K in Pension Income Since Being Indicted, Records Show” by Zak Koeske for Chicago Tribune
Minnesota: “New Documents Revisit Questions about Rep. Ilhan Omar’s Marriage History” by J. Patrick Coolican and Stephen Montemayor for Mineapolis Star Tribune
New York: “A Profound Democratic Shift in New York: ‘We seized the moment’” by Vivian Wang and Jesse McKinley for New York Times
Connecticut: “Life Gets Harder Minus Gavel for Brendan Sharkey, the House Speaker-Turned-Lobbyist Who Sued Dissatisfied Client That Fired Him” by Jon Lender for Hartford Courant
Florida: “When It Comes to Holding NRA Lobbyist Marion Hammer Accountable, Florida Senate Ignores Own Rules” by Dan Christensen for Florida Bulldog
June 24, 2019 • Written by Carlo Aguja
The New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics will be enabling the ability to file client semiannual reports and source funding disclosures through the online Lobbying Application on July 8. Due to the short time frame of enabling the ability […]
The New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics will be enabling the ability to file client semiannual reports and source funding disclosures through the online Lobbying Application on July 8.
Due to the short time frame of enabling the ability to file online and the statutory due date, JCOPE has granted an extension to submit client reports until July 31.
The extension only applies to semiannual reports and source of funding disclosures; lobbyist bimonthly reports are still due on July 15.
June 21, 2019 • Written by Jim Sedor
National/Federal A Foreigner Paid $200,000 for Tickets to Trump’s Inaugural. Now He Says He Was Duped. MSN – Kenneth Vogel (New York Times) | Published: 6/18/2019 Pavel Fuks, a Ukrainian-Russian developer, said he paid $200,000 for VIP tickets to Donald Trump’s […]
A Foreigner Paid $200,000 for Tickets to Trump’s Inaugural. Now He Says He Was Duped.
MSN – Kenneth Vogel (New York Times) | Published: 6/18/2019
Pavel Fuks, a Ukrainian-Russian developer, said he paid $200,000 for VIP tickets to Donald Trump’s inauguration at the direction of Yuri Vanetik, a Republican fundraiser and sometime lobbyist. Fuks now alleges in a lawsuit that his money did not buy the promised access to Trump and other influential politicians. He never received the tickets he said he was promised to an official inaugural ball, to a dinner with incoming cabinet members, or to other exclusive events. Fuks is seeking a refund from Vanetik, plus damages. The lawsuit sheds new light on efforts to accommodate foreign politicians and business executives who sought to attend Trump’s inauguration to press their agendas, curry favor, or make influential connections with the incoming administration.
DC Circuit Rejects NY State GOP-Led Challenge to Anti-‘Pay-to-Play’ Rule
Law.com – Tom McPartland | Published: 6/18/2019
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld a “pay-to-play” rule that bars brokers from soliciting government contracts for two years after making campaign donations to public officials. The judges said the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had acted within its authority. The ruling rejected a challenge by state Republican Party organizations in New York and Tennessee, who had claimed the rule was “arbitrary and capricious” and had hurt their ability to raise funds. Judge Cornelia Pillard said the SEC had provided sufficient evidence that the law was needed to combat corruption, following specific instances of quid-pro-quo arrangements between elected officials and donors who had been awarded contracts to advise public pension funds.
Democrats and Some Republicans Question Trump’s Vetting Process after Shanahan Withdrawal
Washington Post – Karoun Demirjian | Published: 6/18/2019
Senators from both parties are asking why they did not have advance notice of the domestic violence incidents in Patrick Shanahan’s family that ended his bid to become President Trump’s permanent defense secretary, calling his nomination’s collapse the latest example of shoddy White House vetting. With his withdrawal and resignation, Shanahan joins several other former candidates for prominent Cabinet and military leadership positions in the Trump administration who bowed out after compromising details came to light. There was particular consternation among some senators that Congress was not apprised of the incidents by the administration, the FBI, or Shanahan himself. As some noted, a background check would have accompanied Shanahan’s nomination in 2017 to become the deputy defense secretary.
Drugmakers’ Lawsuit Ramps Up Fight with Trump
The Hill – Nathaniel Weixel | Published: 6/18/2019
The pharmaceutical and advertising industries are taking their fight with the Trump administration over drug price disclosures to court. Three drug companies – Amgen, Merck, and Eli Lilly – and the nation’s largest advertising group announced they were suing the administration over its new policy of requiring prescription drug manufacturers to disclose list prices in television ads. The plaintiffs argue the rule violates their First Amendment rights, and the lawsuit seeks to overturn the administration’s latest effort to bring transparency to the medication pricing system. The rule is set to take effect July 9, and the industry groups are asking for it to be put on hold before that time.
Ex-Hassan Aide Sentenced to 4 Years for Doxing Senators
Politico – Josh Gerstein | Published: 6/19/2019
A former aide to U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan was sentenced to four years in prison for hacking Senate computers and releasing personal information online about five Republican senators out of anger spurred by their roles in the confirmation hearings for Justice Brett Kavanaugh. U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Hogan said the sentence for Jackson Cosko was needed to send a signal that criminal harassment driven by political motives would be punished severely in an era marked by extreme political polarization. Cosko said he had been struggling with substance abuse and mental health issues. Hogan said he was puzzled at how Cosko kept up work in congressional offices given the cocaine, psychedelics, and alcohol he was consuming daily.
FEC Chair Makes Another Go at Regulating Online Political Ads
Center for Responsive Politics – Karl Evers-Hillstrom | Published: 6/17/2019
FEC Chairperson Ellen Weintraub is proposing rules that would require some online political ads to attach a disclaimer describing who is paying for them. The proposed guideline, similar to measures introduced by the FEC last year, would subject paid online ads to similar disclaimer rules as print, television, and radio ads. Increasingly popular social media ads, including those engaging in electioneering communications that mention a candidate shortly before an election, are currently exempt from including disclaimers under federal law. Amid ideological deadlock, the FEC has struggled to agree on how to regulate online ads since it was revealed that Russian actors purchased Facebook ads under fake accounts to influence the 2016 election.
Federal Judge Says Census Citizenship Question Merits More Consideration in Light of New Evidence
MSN – Tara Bahrampour (Washington Post) | Published: 6/19/2019
U.S. District Court Judge George Hazel ruled that new evidence in the case of a census citizenship question merits more consideration, opening the possibility the question could come before the Supreme Court again even after it rules as expected this month. Civil rights groups who had sued the government over its addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census had asked Hazel to reconsider his ruling on whether the government was guilty of conspiracy and intent to discriminate after new evidence in the case emerged in May. Files discovered on hard drives belonging to a deceased Republican redistricting strategist suggested he had communicated with the Trump administration about how to get the citizenship question onto the survey and the strategist had determined that adding the question would create an electoral advantage for Republicans and non-Hispanic whites.
Federal Watchdog Agency Recommends Removal of Kellyanne Conway from Federal Office for Violating the Hatch Act
Washington Post – Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Lisa Rein, and Josh Dawsey | Published: 6/13/2019
The Office of Special Counsel recommended the removal of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway from federal office for violating the Hatch Act, which bars federal employees from found Conway violated the law on numerous occasions by “disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity during television interviews and on social media.” The agency described her as a “repeat offender.” A senior White House official said the president is unlikely to punish Conway and instead will defend her. In an interview, Special Counsel Henry Kerner called his recommendation that a political appointee of Conway’s stature be fired “unprecedented.”
‘I Hate David and I Hate This Job’: Ex-Schweikert staffers describe unrest in ethics report
Arizona Republic – Ronald Hanson | Published: 6/12/2019
U.S. Rep. David Schweikert presided over a slipshod office operation with financial oversight so weak that his former chief of staff managed to take home improper, extra pay that violated House ethics rules for years, an investigation found. Oliver Schwab may have collected $60,000 in outside pay over three years above what House rules permitted and attended the 2015 Super Bowl with Schweikert as part of a taxpayer-paid trip that was reported as official business, the report said. There were other possible sources of income Schwab had that investigators could not examine. Apart from the alleged wrongful spending, the 424-page report paints the image of a congressional office simmering with discontent as Schweikert pondered a Senate run and as Schwab took out his frustrations with Schweikert on other staffers.
Legal Fight Tougher for Congressman as Wife Pleads Guilty
AP News – Julie Watson | Published: 6/13/2019
Indicted U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter has held steadfast to his contention that a corruption case against him is the result of a political witch hunt. But that argument got tougher after his wife, who worked as his campaign manager, pleaded guilty to a single corruption count and acknowledged being a co-conspirator with her husband in spending more than $200,000 in campaign funds on personal expenses. Margaret Hunter accepted a plea deal that calls for 59 charges to be dismissed in exchange for her testimony, full cooperation with prosecutors, and other concessions. The conspiracy charge to which she pleaded includes all the allegations contained in the 60-count indictment.
Supreme Court Rules in Case Watched for Impact on Trump Pardons
Politico – Josh Gerstein and Natasha Bertrand | Published: 6/17/2019
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a closely watched “double jeopardy” case, issuing a decision that preserves states’ power to limit the impact of future pardons by President Trump or his successors. The justices declined to disturb a longstanding legal principle known as dual sovereignty, which allows state governments to bring their own charges against defendants already tried or convicted in federal court, or vice versa. Democrats and others bracing for potential pardons by Trump of individuals convicted in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation were tracking the case because a decision overturning the dual sovereigns rule could have complicated efforts by state prosecutors to blunt the impact of any attempt Trump may make to grant clemency to those targeted by Mueller’s team.
The Political Donor Class Is Mostly White and Male. Some Women of Color Are Trying to Change That.
Washington Post – Michelle Ye Hee Lee | Published: 6/19/2019
No longer content to simply be the Democratic Party’s most loyal voters, some women of color are seeking to break into the influential but overwhelmingly white and male world of political donors. The efforts are part of a broader campaign to elevate the voices of this group within the Democratic Party, which has had some success. But the efforts also reflect a worry that, without robust giving by minority women, the party will move on in the general election to focus on white Midwestern Trump voters at the expense of communities of color. The absence of women of color is particularly acute among the super-rich givers, billionaires and multimillionaires who give seven figures or more per election. The power of these donors has grown in recent years as courts have opened the floodgates to unlimited spending to try to sway elections.
‘Who’s Taking Care of the Kids?’ Is Finally a Question for Dads on the Trail, Too
MSN – Lisa Lerer (New York Times) | Published: 6/12/2019
For decades, mothers running for office have faced skepticism: “Who’s taking care of the kids?” wondered voters. As American families evolve, a number of fathers of young children are slowly being forced to grapple with the same politically loaded question. That has left them making a calculation that women have made for decades – how to pursue public life and parenthood at the same time. And at least a few of the 15 fathers who are running for president in 2020 are eager to talk about it, including the day-to-day caregiving tasks that most politician moms generally consider just business as usual. While research and surveys show female candidates still confront a steeper double standard when it comes to their family life, male politicians with young children suddenly find themselves facing something totally new – a standard.
Why the Trump Campaign Won’t Pay Police Bills
Center for Public Integrity – Dave Levinthal | Published: 6/13/2019
At least 10 city governments – from Mesa, Arizona, to Erie, Pennsylvania – are still waiting for Trump to pay public safety-related invoices they have sent his presidential campaign committee in connection with his political rallies. Some invoices are three years old. In all, city governments say Trump’s campaign owes them at least $841,219. The cities are adamant Trump should pay up. But in many of these cases, there are no signed contracts between the municipal governments and the Trump campaign. The cities dispatched police officers to secure Trump’s events because they believe public safety required it, and the U.S. Secret Service asked for it. Presidential candidates should consider paying cities’ police bills even if they do not believe they are legally required to do so, some police advocates said.
From the States and Municipalities
Arkansas – Judge Blocks Law on Timing of Donations
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette – Linda Satter | Published: 6/18/2019
An Arkansas law that bars candidates for state office from accepting campaign contributions more than two years before an election was blocked by a federal judge, prompting an immediate appeal from the state. Peggy Jones sued over the law, contending it infringes on her right of political expression by preventing her from donating money now to people she wants to support as candidates in the 2022 election cycle. U.S. District Judge James Moody Jr. had enjoined the state from enforcing the law as his ruling is appealed, but later reversed that part of the ruling.
Colorado – Outside Groups Spent More Than $1 Million to Influence Denver’s Election, and It Took a Lot of Work to Figure That Out
Denver Post – Andrew Kenney | Published: 6/17/2019
Outside spending is mutating faster than the city can keep pace, and it threatens to undermine the campaign finance reforms that were recently approved by Denver voters. In 2011, independent groups spent more than $700,000 on Denver’s elections, but much of that earlier spending came through PACs, which must report their finances through the city’s standard forms. In 2019, more than $1 million was spent through a different outlet. The biggest donors embraced nonprofit groups that disclose less information about their supporters during the election. It is part of a national trend that accelerated with the Citizens United case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010.
Massachusetts – After Being Rejected by the State, DiMasi Is Now a Registered Lobbyist at City Hall
Boston Globe – Matt Stout | Published: 6/20/2019
Former Massachusetts House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi registered to lobby in Boston a day after he appealed the secretary of state’s rejection of his attempt to register as a lobbyist at the state level. Boston’s process, which operates separately from the state, was launched amid concerns the city had no effective way to regulate who was lobbying at City Hall. DiMasi’s registration could cast a spotlight on the fledgling rules, which proponents say are still a work in progress. The city ordinance includes a mechanism to automatically disqualify anyone from lobbying for 10 years if they have been convicted of a felony that violates certain state lobbying and ethics laws. The language closely mirrors the statute under which the secretary of state’s office rejected DiMasi from registering with the state.
Montana – Montana Lobbyist Spending Reports Now Harder to Access
Montana Public Radio – Corin Cates-Carney | Published: 6/18/2019
At least $6.5 million was spent on lobbying during Montana’s 2019 legislative session. In the past, commissioners of political practices have devoted staff time to translating the paper forms lobbyists are required to file into a single electronic document, which the public or the press could then search and sort. But this year, Political Practices Commissioner Jeff Mangan, who was appointed in 2017, chose to not require his staff to do that. “It’s not their jobs to input, or data input, information for the lobbyists,” Mangan said. Both lobbyists and watchdog groups say Montana’s lobbying disclosure laws are better than most other states. But Denise Roth Barber, managing director at the National Institute on Money in State Politics, says the lack of consistent electronic filing is a weakness.
New Jersey – Gov Signs Dark-Money Bill, Expects Lawmakers to Roll Back Problem Parts
NJ Spotlight – Colleen O’Dea | Published: 6/18/2019
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill that requires, at least for the moment, politically active nonprofits or 501(c)(4) groups to disclose their high-dollar contributors – those giving at least $10,000 – when these groups spend at least $3,000 to influence an election, legislation, or regulations. The law also increases the maximum amounts of all campaign contributions. It raises the amount that an individual candidate can receive from $2,600 to $3,000 per election and increases the amounts that political committees and party committees can receive, as well. Assemblyperson Andrew Zwicker said he introduced a “cleanup” bill to address Murphy’s concerns over the impact the new law would have on some nonprofit advocacy groups.
Oklahoma – Ethics Commission Says Money Is Tight
The Oklahoman – Nolan Clay | Published: 6/15/2019
A year after the state’s watchdog panel sued unsuccessfully for more funding, its financial situation remains dire, officials say. “It will be a very tight year,” Oklahoma Ethics Commission Executive Director Ashley Kemp said at the agency’s regular monthly meeting. Legislators budgeted the commission $716,621 for the 2020 fiscal year, an increase of about $6,000 from its current appropriations. That “doesn’t even cover the personnel costs,” Kemp said. Lawmakers also voted to remove $550,000 from the commission’s revolving fund and to cap how much it can spend in the future from that fund at $150,000 a year.
Oregon – Limits on Oregon Campaign Money Are Dead. But Voters May Still Get to Weigh In.
Portland Oregonian – Rob Davis | Published: 6/14/2019
Limits on campaign donations will have to wait for another legislative session in Oregon. A bill that cleared the House with several loopholes intact is not advancing in the state Senate. Meanwhile, lawmakers are moving ahead with a measure asking voters to amend Oregon’s constitution by authorizing the creation of campaign finance restrictions. The death of House Bill 2714, which would set specific dollar caps in anticipation of the constitutional measure’s passage, gives lawmakers more time to find agreement before Senate Joint Resolution 18 would go to voters in November 2020.
Virginia – Supreme Court Dismisses Challenge to Findings of Racial Gerrymandering in Virginia Districts
Philadelphia Inquirer – Robert Barnes (Washington Post) | Published: 6/17/2019
The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the challenge to a lower court’s findings that some of Virginia’s legislative districts were racially gerrymandered, saying House Republicans did not have legal standing to challenge the decision. The decision could give an advantage to the state’s Democrats. All 140 seats in the Legislature are on the ballot this fall, and the GOP holds two-seat majorities in both the House and the Senate. The case concerned 11 voting districts drawn after the 2010 census, each with at least a 55 percent population of black residents of voting age. Democratic voters in those districts sued, saying lawmakers had run afoul of the Constitution by packing too many black voters into the districts, diminishing their voting power.
Washington – These Voters Are Using Democracy Vouchers to Influence Seattle’s City Council Races
Seattle Times – Daniel Beekman | Published: 6/12/2019
Across Seattle, the taxpayer-funded democracy vouchers mailed in February to registered voters and other eligible residents are changing how races are run: 42 of 55 candidates for the council’s seven district seats have signed up and together have collected nearly $1.6 million in vouchers. The program, unlike any other in the country, is meant to involve more people in the electoral process, help grassroots candidates compete, and encourage them to interact with regular voters rather than dialing for dollars from wealthy donors. Participating candidates must abide by special spending and contribution limits. More than 30 candidates have already gathered at least $20,000 in vouchers, and they are interacting with voters in various ways.
June 20, 2019 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance National: “A Foreigner Paid $200,000 for Tickets to Trump’s Inaugural. Now He Says He Was Duped.” by Kenneth Vogel (New York Times) for MSN National: “The Political Donor Class Is Mostly White and Male. Some Women of Color […]
National: “A Foreigner Paid $200,000 for Tickets to Trump’s Inaugural. Now He Says He Was Duped.” by Kenneth Vogel (New York Times) for MSN
National: “The Political Donor Class Is Mostly White and Male. Some Women of Color Are Trying to Change That.” by Michelle Ye Hee Lee for Washington Post
National: “DC Circuit Rejects NY State GOP-Led Challenge to Anti-‘Pay-to-Play’ Rule” by Tom McPartland for Law.com
Kentucky: “Feds Allege Dad of Alison Lundergan Grimes Wrongly Funneled Money to Her State Races” by Bill Estep and Daniel Desrochers for Lexington Herald-Leader
Indiana: “Four Women File Lawsuit Against Curtis Hill. Here’s What It Says About Indiana Lawmakers.” by Kaitlin Lange for Indianapolis Star
Nevada: “Experts Give High Marks to New Law That Will Add Teeth to Nevada’s Public Records Statute” by James DeHaven for Reno Gazette Journal
Maine: “Bill Would Limit Lobbyist Contributions Year-Round” by for Middletown Press; Associated Press
Montana: “Montana Lobbyist Spending Reports Now Harder to Access” by Corin Cates-Carney for Montana Public Radio
June 17, 2019 • Written by Alexandra Vernis, J.D.
This month, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 2677 prohibiting persons required to register as a lobbyist from knowingly making or authorizing certain political contributions or political expenditures. Prohibited contributions include those to another candidate, officeholder, or political committee […]
This month, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 2677 prohibiting persons required to register as a lobbyist from knowingly making or authorizing certain political contributions or political expenditures.
Prohibited contributions include those to another candidate, officeholder, or political committee from political contributions accepted by the person as a candidate or officeholder or by a specific-purpose committee for the purpose of supporting the person as a candidate or assisting the person as an officeholder.
Under House Bill 2677, making a contribution described above requires a person to refrain from lobbying for a two-year period following the date the person makes or authorizes the contribution.
An exception is created for persons seeking to influence legislation or administrative action on behalf of nonprofit organizations, low income individuals, and a group of individuals with disabilities, and those not receiving compensation for their communications with members of the legislative and executive branches.
House Bill 2677 will go into effect on September 27, 2019.
June 17, 2019 • Written by Jonathan Spontarelli
New FARA Regulations, and changes being made to lobbying disclosures in various states. Catch up with all of it in this edition of News You Can Use Video Digest!
New FARA Regulations, and changes being made to lobbying disclosures in various states. Catch up with all of it in this edition of News You Can Use Video Digest!
June 17, 2019 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance National: “Why the Trump Campaign Won’t Pay Police Bills” by Dave Levinthal for Center for Public Integrity National: “Legal Fight Tougher for Congressman as Wife Pleads Guilty” by Julie Watson for AP News New York: “Council Passes Campaign […]
National: “Why the Trump Campaign Won’t Pay Police Bills” by Dave Levinthal for Center for Public Integrity
National: “Legal Fight Tougher for Congressman as Wife Pleads Guilty” by Julie Watson for AP News
New York: “Council Passes Campaign Finance Bill Roiling Early Mayoral Race” by Noah Berman for Gotham Gazette
Oregon: “Judge Strikes Down Portland Campaign Finance Limits” by Gordon Friedman for Portland Oregonian
National: “Federal Watchdog Agency Recommends Removal of Kellyanne Conway from Federal Office for Violating the Hatch Act” by Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Lisa Rein, and Josh Dawsey for Washington Post
New Jersey: “Phil Murphy’s Office Was Warned About Improper Hiring at SDA, Ethics Official Says” by Dustin Racioppi for Bergen Record
Canada: “Democracy Watchdog Calls for Investigation into Lobbyists Selling Tickets for Ford Fundraiser” by Jill Mahoney for The Globe and Mail
Massachusetts: “Does Sal DiMasi Have to Register as a Lobbyist? The State Says He Already Lobbied – Illegally” by Matt Stout for Boston Globe
June 14, 2019 • Written by Timothy Kilcullen
The Lobbyist Division of the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Office announced they are transitioning to a new disclosure reporting system on June 19. Exclusive, hour-long introduction and training seminars on the new system will be held from June 19 […]
The Lobbyist Division of the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Office announced they are transitioning to a new disclosure reporting system on June 19.
Exclusive, hour-long introduction and training seminars on the new system will be held from June 19 to June 21.
Appointment requests can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Firms should offer three preferable times between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on any of the three available days. Walk-ins for the seminar will not be accepted.
The Lobbyist Division will be offering additional training for all registered entities, lobbyists, and clients from June 24 to July 12.
Organizations that are unable to attend the introduction seminars can apply for these training sessions instead.
June 14, 2019 • Written by Jim Sedor
National/Federal A Wealthy Iraqi Sheikh Who Urges a Hard-Line U.S. Approach to Iran Spent 26 Nights at Trump’s D.C. Hotel MSN – Joshua Partlow, David Fahrenthold, and Taylor Luck (Washington Post) | Published: 6/6/2019 In July, a wealthy Iraqi sheikh named […]
A Wealthy Iraqi Sheikh Who Urges a Hard-Line U.S. Approach to Iran Spent 26 Nights at Trump’s D.C. Hotel
MSN – Joshua Partlow, David Fahrenthold, and Taylor Luck (Washington Post) | Published: 6/6/2019
In July, a wealthy Iraqi sheikh named Nahro al-Kasnazan wrote letters to national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging them to forge closer ties with those seeking to overthrow the government of Iran. Four months later, he checked into the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. and spent 26 nights in a suite, a visit estimated to have cost tens of thousands of dollars. Kasnazan said his choice of the Trump hotel was not part of a lobbying effort. His long visit is an example of how Trump’s Washington hotel, a popular gathering place for Republican politicians and people with government business, has become a favorite stopover for influential foreigners who have an agenda to pursue with the administration.
As 2020 Candidates Struggle to Be Heard, Their Grumbling Gets Louder
New York Times – Lisa Lerer and Reid Epstein | Published: 6/11/2019
Of the 23 Democratic candidates for president, only eight routinely break one percent in national polls. Most have not yet qualified for the fall debates. And cable news channels, which have emerged as an early driving force in the race, have only so many hours of programming each day. That has moved the campaign into a new, yet familiar, phase: the ritual airing of grievances. Weeks’ worth of pent-up frustration is beginning to trickle into the public arena, as a way for candidates to explain their lowly positions, both to themselves and to the voters. The rules around participation in the primary debates are a sore spot for second- and third-tier candidates, who fear getting shut out of the biggest stage in the race.
Bipartisan Senators Push New Bill to Improve Foreign Lobbying Disclosures
The Hill – Alex Gangitano | Published: 6/10/2019
U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley introduced legislation that would give the Department of Justice more tools to investigate possible violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, a 1938 statute that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have characterized as outdated and weak. The bill would allow the Justice Department to increase the penalties for people who fail to properly register as a foreign agent. It also would require the Government Accountability Office to study whether and to what extent the Lobbying Disclosure Act exemption is being abused to conceal foreign lobbying activity.
Chao Created Special Path for McConnell’s Favored Projects
Politico – Tucker Doherty and Tanya Snider | Published: 6/10/2019
The Transportation Department under Secretary Elaine Chao designated a special liaison to help with grant applications and other priorities from her husband Mitch McConnell’s home state of Kentucky, paving the way for grants totaling at least $78 million for favored projects as McConnell prepared to campaign for re-election. Chao’s aide Todd Inman, who stated in an email to McConnell’s Senate office that Chao had personally asked him to serve as an intermediary, helped advise the senator and local Kentucky officials on grants with special significance for McConnell, including a highway-improvement project in a McConnell political stronghold that had been twice rejected for previous grant applications. The circumstances highlight the ethical conflicts in having a powerful Cabinet secretary married to the Senate’s leader and in a position to help him politically.
DeVos’ Student Aid Chief Quits Foundation Board Following Questions on Conflict of Interest
Politico – Michael Stratford | Published: 6/11/2019
The Education Department appointee who oversees the government’s $1.5 trillion student loan being asked about a potential conflict-of-interest. Mark Brown, a retired major general in the U.S. Air Force, was selected by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to be the new head of the department’s Office of Federal Student Aid. Until recently, he also served as an unpaid member of the board of directors of KnowledgeWorks, a non-profit foundation that holds about $30 million in federally guaranteed student loans. Several ethics experts said that arrangement raised concerns about a potential conflict because Brown’s unit is responsible for regulating and overseeing student loans backed by the government, including those that are owned by KnowledgeWorks.
Echoes of Biden’s 1987 Plagiarism Scandal Continue to Reverberate
Anchorage Daily News – Neena Satija (Washington Post) | Published: 6/5/2019
Joe Biden ended his first presidential campaign in 1987 amid questions about a value he had worked hard to convince voters he had: authenticity. The collapse had begun with news that Biden had lifted phrases and mannerisms from a British Labour Party politician while making closing remarks at a debate. Examples soon surfaced of Biden using material from other politicians without attribution, and he acknowledged he had been accused of plagiarism in law school. Now, those events are back in the spotlight for the former vice president, who is one of the most visible Democrats in a crowded field vying to run against President Trump. Biden’s campaign acknowledged it had lifted phrases, without attribution, from various nonprofit publications in its climate and education plans.
Election Rules Are an Obstacle to Cybersecurity of Presidential Campaigns
New York Times – Nicole Perlroth and Matthew Rosenberg | Published: 6/6/2019
One year out from the 2020 elections, presidential candidates face legal roadblocks to acquiring the tools and assistance necessary to defend against the cyberattacks and disinformation campaigns that plagued the 2016 campaign. Federal laws prohibit corporations from offering free or discounted cybersecurity services to federal candidates. The same law also blocks political parties from offering candidates cybersecurity assistance because it is considered an in-kind donation. The issue took on added urgency after lawyers for the FEC advised the agency to block a request by Area 1 Security, asked the company to refile the request with a simpler explanation of how it would determine what campaigns qualified for discounted services.
NRA Money Flowed to Board Members Amid Allegedly Lavish Spending by Top Officials and Vendors
MSN – Beth Reinhard, Katie Zezima, Tom Hamburger, and Carol Leonnig (Washington Post) | Published: 6/9/2019
The National Rifle Association (NRA), which has been rocked by allegations of exorbitant spending by top executives, also directed money in recent years that went to board members, the very people tasked with overseeing the organization’s finances. Eighteen members of the NRA’s 76-member board, who are not paid as directors, collected money from the group during the past three years. The payments deepen questions about the rigor of the board’s oversight as it steered the country’s largest and most powerful gun rights group, according to tax experts and some longtime members. The payments, coupled with multimillion-dollar shortfalls in recent years and an ongoing investigation by the New York attorney general, threaten the potency of the NRA, long a political juggernaut and a close ally of President Trump.
Rep. Greg Pence Amends Filing That Showed Lodging Charge at Trump Hotel
USA Today – Maureen Groppe | Published: 6/11/2019
U.S. Rep. Greg Pence, brother of Vice President Mike Pence, reported spending more than $7,600 in campaign funds on lodging at the Trump International Hotel in the first few months after his election in November, although lawmakers are supposed to pay for their own housing in Washington, D.C. Hours after USA Today pressed for details on the nature of the lodging expenses, Rep. Pence’s campaign filed an amended FEC report that changed the designation of the expenses to “fundraising event costs.” Federal election rules allow campaign funds to be spent on hotels for fundraising events. And Greg Pence separately reported more than $15,000 in catering and reception costs at Trump’s hotel in December and January.
Top AI Researchers Race to Detect ‘Deepfake’ Videos: ‘We are outgunned’
San Francisco Chronicle – Drew Harwell (Washington Post) | Published: 6/12/2019
Artificial-intelligence (AI) researchers warn that computer-generated fake videos could undermine candidates and mislead voters during the 2020 presidential campaign. Powerful new AI software has effectively democratized the creation of convincing “deepfake” videos, making it easier than ever to fabricate someone appearing to say or do something they did not really do. And researchers fear it is only a matter of time before the videos are deployed for maximum damage – to sow confusion, fuel doubt, or undermine an opponent, potentially on the eve of a White House vote. Even simple tweaks to existing videos can create turmoil, as happened with the recent viral spread of a video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, distorted to make her speech stunted and slurred. That video was viewed more than 3 million times.
Trump 2020 Campaign Ad Payments Hidden by Layers of Shell Companies
Center for Responsive Politics – Anna Massoglia | Published: 6/13/2019
The Trump 2020 campaign funneled money to a shell company tied to ad buyers at the center of an alleged illegal coordination scheme with the National Rifle Association (NRA) as recently as May 2019. The previously unreported ad buys for Trump’s re-election campaign routed through a secretive limited-liability company known as Harris Sikes Media LLC were revealed in Federal Communications Commission records. The Trump campaign stopped reporting payments to ad buyers at American Media & Advocacy Group following allegations the company facilitated illegal coordination between the campaign and the NRA through American Media’s affiliates National Media Research, Planning & Placement and Red Eagle Media Group. Trump’s reelection campaign quietly continued to funnel money to the same individuals through payments to Harris Sikes Media.
Trump Lawyer’s Message Was a Clue for Mueller, Who Set It Aside
MSN – Michael Schmidt and Charle Savage (New York Times) | Published: 6/9/2019
As the special counsel’s investigators pursued the question of whether President Trump tried to impede their work, they uncovered compelling evidence – a voice mail recording and statements from a trusted witness – that might have led to him. An attorney for Trump, John Dowd, reached out to a lawyer for a key witness who had just decided to cooperate with the government, Michael Flynn. Dowd fished in his message for a heads-up if Flynn was telling investigators negative information about Trump, while also appearing to say that if Flynn was just cutting a deal without also flipping on the president, then he should know Trump still liked him. Dowd never said whether Trump directed him to make the overture. And investigators for Robert Mueller declined to question Dowd about his message. Legal experts were divided on whether Mueller’s team should have sought to question Dowd.
Trump Says He’d Consider Accepting Dirt from Foreign Governments on His Opponents
Keene Sentinel – Colby Itkowitz and Tom Hamburger | Published: 6/13/2019
President Trump said if a foreign power offered dirt on his 2020 opponent, he would be open to accepting it and he would have no obligation to call in the FBI. The president’s comments come as congressional investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election continue, and they drew sharp response from his would-be Democratic rivals. Although special counsel Robert Mueller did not find enough evidence to establish a criminal conspiracy involving the Trump campaign in his probe of Russia’s role in the 2016 election, his report said the Russian government interfered in the election in a “sweeping and systemic fashion” and that Trump’s campaign was open to assistance from Russian sources.
What the Governors Feuding with Their Own Parties Have in Common
Governing – Alan Greenblatt | Published: 6/11/2019
A handful of governors presiding over one-party states are now taking serious hits from legislators and leaders in their own political parties. In New Jersey, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy is engaged in a feud with state Senate President Stephen Sweeney that has led to threats of a primary challenge. In Kentucky, Republican Lt. Gov. Jeanne Hampton warned recently about “dark forces” operating within Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration. Craig Blair, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee in West Virginia, called on Republican Gov. Jim Justice to resign. In states with divided governments, it is almost to be expected that governors and legislators will sometimes sling arrows at each other. But most states are dominated by a single party, and their most powerful politicians are finding that it can still be difficult to get along.
With Most States Under One Party’s Control, America Grows More Divided
MSN – Timothy Williams (New York Times) | Published: 6/11/2019
It is the first time in more than a century that all but one state Legislature is dominated by a single party. Most legislative sessions have ended or are scheduled to end in a matter of days in capitals across the nation, and Republican-held states have rushed forward with conservative agendas as those controlled by Democrats have pushed through liberal ones. Any hope that single-party control in the states might ease the tone of political discourse has not borne out. Lopsided party dominance has not brought resignation; instead of minority parties conceding they lack the numbers to effectively fight back, the mood has grown more tense and vitriolic. Analysts said issues addressed by state Legislatures this year, which included gun control and health care, might have more lasting effect than anything approved in Washington, D.C., where government is divided.
From the States and Municipalities
California – Democrats Say They Don’t Take Big Tobacco Money. But JUUL Had a Sponsorship at Convention
Sacramento Bee – Andrew Sheeler | Published: 6/7/2019
JUUL Labs, maker of a line of e-cigarette products in popular use among middle and high school students, had a prominent sponsor slot on the stage of the California Democratic Party’s state convention, where politicians like U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Gov. Gavin Newsom, and a bevy of presidential candidates and state officials spoke. State Sen. Jerry Hill, an outspoken critic of tobacco companies, said he could not believe his eyes when he saw the sponsorship. “I was baffled because it’s a long-standing policy of the Democratic Party not to take money from Big Tobacco,” Hill said. JUUL is one-third owned by Altria, which owns Philip Morris USA.
Illinois – Mayor Lori Lightfoot to Introduce Ethics Package Aimed at Fighting City Hall Corruption
Chicago Tribune – John Byrne | Published: 6/5/2019
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot will seek to follow through on her campaign pledge to clean up a City Hall that for months has been rocked by an FBI investigation and racketeering charges against Ald. Edward Burke by introducing an ethics reform package. The former federal prosecutor’s proposal looks to tighten the rules for aldermen holding outside jobs and would require nonprofits lobbying City Hall to register as lobbyists. It also would give city Inspector General Joseph Ferguson the power to audit city council committees. Lightfoot is also pushing for more modest increases to fines for ethics violations than the city Ethics Board has proposed.
Indiana – Judge Rules Against Fort Wayne’s Pay to Play Ordinance
Fort Wayne Journal Gazette – Dave Gong | Published: 6/11/2019
Superior Court Judge Jennifer DeGroote ruled against the city of Fort Wayne in a case regarding its controversial “pay-to-play” ordinance. DeGroote blocked the city from enforcing the ordinance that restricted how much money the owners of a company could give elected officials and still bid on city contracts. The ordinance prohibited any company from bidding on a city contract if any owner, partner, or principal who owns more than 10% of that company gave more than $2,000 to the campaign of a person with responsibility for awarding contracts.
New Hampshire – Top N.H. Lawmaker Says No Lobbying Involved in His Union Job, But His Predecessor Was a Lobbyist
New Hampshire Public Radio – Casey McDermott | Published: 6/6/2019
House Majority Leader Doug Ley is adamant he has not broken any ethics rules by engaging in legislative advocacy as president of the New Hampshire chapter of the American Federation of Teachers while serving in the Legislature. He has also maintained his work on the union’s behalf – testifying at public hearings, rallying support or opposition for specific bills, and sending out “legislative bulletins” to union members – does not count as lobbying. But Ley’s predecessor at the union, Laura Hainey, said she did consider much of the same kind of advocacy work she did at the statehouse to constitute lobbying. And, unlike Ley, she registered as a lobbyist during her term as the union’s president.
New Jersey – Gov. Phil Murphy, Lawmakers Reach Deal on Dark Money Disclosure
Burlington County Times – Dave Levinsky | Published: 6/10/2019
Facing the likelihood that lawmakers would vote to override his earlier veto, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy agreed to sign a “dark money” disclosure bill originally sent to him. Lawmakers agreed to vote again on the original legislation and Murphy has agreed to sign it with no changes. The bill mandates 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 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.
New York – Inside the Stealth Campaign for ‘Responsible Rent Reform’
New York Times – Vivian Wang | Published: 6/10/2019
Confronted with a Democratic takeover of the state Legislature and emboldened progressive activists, the city’s landlords and developers, long accustomed to ruling New York through political donations and expensive lobbyists, are adopting the tactics of their activist foes. They have sent buses of electricians and boiler repair workers to Albany to protest the proposed changes, organized rallies outside public hearings, formed groups with generic names to run social media advertisements, and paid for mailers urging constituents to call their representatives. The goal is to deliver the industry’s message that too-strict rent regulations would affect not only wealthy landlords, but also the working class in a way that does not seem like it is coming from the industry.
Wisconsin – Hours Before a Trial Was Set to Start, Wisconsin Supreme Court Reinstates Most GOP Lame-Duck Laws
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – Patrick Marley | Published: 6/11/2019
The Wisconsin Supreme Court reinstated most of the lame-duck laws Republican lawmakers approved in December to trim the powers of the state’s top Democrats. With a pair of orders, the high court canceled a trial and put back in place almost all the lame-duck laws while it considers an appeal. After the rulings, just two provisions of the lame-duck laws have been kept from going into effect. One would have limited early voting; the other would have required a public commenting period for older government documents. The status of the laws could change in the months ahead because the Supreme Court has to make more rulings in the case. A federal judge is overseeing another challenge to the lame-duck laws that is in its early stages.
June 13, 2019 • Written by Timothy Kilcullen
Gov. Steve Sisolak signed a lobbying bill to codify existing interpretations of the Legislative Counsel Bureau and to impose additional disclosure from lobbyists. Assembly Bill 452 provides for more detailed information on registrations. Additionally, the bill requires a supplemental registration […]
Gov. Steve Sisolak signed a lobbying bill to codify existing interpretations of the Legislative Counsel Bureau and to impose additional disclosure from lobbyists.
Assembly Bill 452 provides for more detailed information on registrations.
Additionally, the bill requires a supplemental registration to be filed for any changes to registration within 24 hours during a legislative session and within 14 days during the interim.
The bill also clarifies that filing a notice of termination does not relieve the lobbyist of the duty to comply with certain continuing requirements and prohibitions of the Lobbying Act.
The bill is effective immediately.
June 12, 2019 • Written by Jim Sedor
Campaign Finance Indiana: “Are Watchdogs Over Indiana Campaign Donations Really Watching?” by Thomas Langhorne for Evansville Courier and Press New Jersey: “Gov. Phil Murphy, Lawmakers Reach Deal on Dark Money Disclosure” by Dave Levinsky for Burlington County Times Ethics National: […]
Indiana: “Are Watchdogs Over Indiana Campaign Donations Really Watching?” by Thomas Langhorne for Evansville Courier and Press
New Jersey: “Gov. Phil Murphy, Lawmakers Reach Deal on Dark Money Disclosure” by Dave Levinsky for Burlington County Times
National: “Trump Lawyer’s Message Was a Clue for Mueller, Who Set It Aside” by Michael Schmidt and Charle Savage (New York Times) for MSN
California: “FPPC Rejects GOP Complaint About Union Donations for California Lieutenant Governor’s Furniture” by Sophia Bollag for Sacramento Bee
Texas: “Two Years After Bribery Scandal, Sreerama Welcomed Back as Harris County Vendor” by Zach Despart and Mike Morris for Houston Chronicle
Virginia: “‘A Rare Position’: Va. Gov. Ralph Northam could wind up with great power, months after almost resigning” by Gregory Schneider for Washington Post
National: “With Most States Under One Party’s Control, America Grows More Divided” by Timothy Williams for New York Times
National: “Bipartisan Senators Push New Bill to Improve Foreign Lobbying Disclosures” by Alex Gangitano for The Hill
June 11, 2019 • Written by George Ticoras, Esq.
On June 10, a bi-partisan bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate to amend the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 (FARA). The bill would provide the U.S. Attorney General greater authority to promote enforcement of the law and increase […]
On June 10, a bi-partisan bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate to amend the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 (FARA).
The bill would provide the U.S. Attorney General greater authority to promote enforcement of the law and increase disclosure requirements of agents of foreign principals.
Senate Bill 1762 requires foreign agents to disclose their clients immediately so policy makers can evaluate their positions in light of those associations.
Additionally, the bill requires the Justice Department to craft a comprehensive FARA enforcement strategy, and creates oversight mechanisms to prevent abuse of the new authorities according to the press release of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, the Republican sponsor of the bill.
The legislation would also establish a review of the Lobbying Disclosure Act exemption to determine whether and to what extent it has been abused for purposes of concealing foreign influence.
Only 15 violations of FARA have been criminally prosecuted since 1966 and “about half of those stemmed from Mr. Mueller’s investigation,” according to Grassley’s statement in his press release.
Co-sponsors of the bill include Democratic Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Dianne Feinstein.