News You Can Use Digest – October 18, 2013 - State and Federal Communications

October 18, 2013  •  

News You Can Use Digest – October 18, 2013

News You Can Use


Business Groups Stand by Boehner, Plot against Tea Party

Washington Post – Jia Lynn Yang and Tom Hamburger | Published: 10/17/2013

Rather than revisit their strategy of supporting Republicans after the stand-off that nearly drove the country to a debt default, influential organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are standing behind U.S. House Speaker John Boehner. More importantly, Boehner’s friends in the business community are getting ready to take sides in a few GOP primary races against tea party candidates in Michigan, Idaho, and Alabama who could cause him more trouble.

Lobbyists’ Lobbying Group Wants a New Name – One That Doesn’t Mention Lobbying

Washington Post – Holly Yeager | Published: 10/15/2013

The board of directors for the American League of Lobbyists has made its choice for the organization’s new name: the Association of Government Relations Professionals. The group’s bylaws require two-thirds approval by its members before the name can be changed. There have been surveys and other research revealing a majority of members no longer identify themselves only as lobbyists.

From the States and Municipalities:

Arizona – Court Blocks New Arizona Campaign Finance Law; Opens Door for Candidates to Receive More Money

East Valley Tribune – Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services) | Published: 10/15/2013

The Arizona Court of Appeals issued a preliminary injunction against the state’s higher campaign contribution limits. The order directs Secretary of State Ken Bennett not to enforce the law. The ruling makes it likely the state will turn to the Arizona Supreme Court to review the case.

Arizona – Ex-Phoenix Lobbyist Indicted over Contributions

San Francisco Chronicle; Associated Press –   | Published: 10/10/2013

Gary Husk, a once influential lobbyist in Phoenix whose key clients included the Fiesta Bowl, has been charged with eight felonies for using his firm’s money to reimburse staff after directing them to make specific campaign contributions. The donations went to high-profile politicians with whom Husk sought access and influence, including Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer.

California – Bob Filner, Former San Diego Mayor, Pleads Guilty to Criminal Charges

New York Times – Rob Davis and Adam Nagourney | Published: 10/15/2013

Former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner pleaded guilty to three criminal counts related to the sexual harassment allegations that drove him from office after a summer of scandal. Filner pleaded guilty to one criminal count of false imprisonment by violence, fraud, menace, and deceit, and two misdemeanor counts of battery. Sentencing was set for December 9, and documents indicate he will get three years of probation and no prison time.

Colorado – Colo. Pot Advocates File Unusual Campaign Finance Report

CBS News; Associated Press –   | Published: 10/17/2013

No Over Taxation, a group that had distributed free marijuana cigarettes at a rally opposing possible new taxes in Colorado, filed a disclosure report saying the joints were worth $1,250, and were paid for by a lawyer funding its campaign. Colorado Ethics Watch had filed a complaint alleging the marijuana was an in-kind campaign contribution and the anti-tax group had failed to initially report it.

Georgia – FBI Contacts Attorney in Ethics Case

Augusta Chronicle – Christina Cassidy (Associated Press) | Published: 10/10/2013

FBI agents have questioned Georgia ethics commission attorney Elisabeth Murray-Obertein, who raised concerns about the panel’s investigation into Gov. Nathan Deal. Murray-Obertein is a key figure in the allegations lodged in a pair of whistle-blower lawsuits accusing commission Executive Secretary Holly LaBerge of bragging about her relationship with Deal and saying he “owed her” after the agency dismissed the most serious campaign finance complaints raised in its investigation of the governor.

Hawaii – Circuit Hears Hawaii Campaign Finance Case

Courthouse News Service – Tim Hull | Published: 10/14/2013

A-1 A-Lectrician, Inc. sued the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission in 2010, arguing the state’s non-candidate committee donation caps, advertising definition, disclaimer requirements, and ban on government contractors donating to candidates were all unconstitutional. The case is now before a panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which hinted it may delay a ruling until the U.S. Supreme Court decides a similar case.

Michigan – Bobby Ferguson Sentenced to Serve 21 Years in Federal Prison for Corruption

Detroit Free Press – Jim Schaefer, Tammy Staples Battaglia, and Eric Lawrence | Published: 10/11/2013

Bobby Ferguson, the friend and favorite construction contractor of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, was sentenced to 21 years in federal prison. Ferguson was convicted of nine felonies, including racketeering and bribery.  He was accused of illegally securing $70 million in city contracts through his friendship with the ex-mayor, who was sentenced to 28 years in prison for his role in the extortion and racketeering scheme.

Montana – State of Montana Slaps Conservative ‘Dark Money’ Groups for Campaign Violations

The Missoulian – Mike Dennison | Published: 10/17/2013

Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl said he found sufficient evidence to show Western Tradition Partnership violated state campaign finance law in a 2010 Republican House primary race. Motl found the “dark-money” group, now known as American Tradition Partnership, illegally coordinated campaign expenditures with candidate Dan Kennedy.

New York – Judge Rejects Bid by PAC to Raise Large Sums for Lhota

Wall Street Journal – Andrew Grossman | Published: 10/17/2013

U.S. District Court Judge Paul Crotty rejected a request by New York Progress and Protection PAC to overturn a state law that prohibits individuals from giving more than $150,000 each year to campaigns and political committees. Crotty said granting the injunction would be disruptive because it would come too close to the November 5 election.

Pennsylvania – Philly Ethics Board Proposal Allows $200 Limit on Gifts

Philadelphia Inquirer – Claudia Vargas | Published: 10/17/2013

The Philadelphia Board of Ethics has drafted a list of regulations that are supposed to better explain what is allowed under the current code for “gifts, loans, and favors to city personnel.” For example, the proposal would allow city officers and employees to accept gifts of up to $200 in value per year from any single source. A hearing on the proposed regulations is scheduled for November 20.

Virginia – Star Scientific Chief Thought McDonnell Was Helping Firm Get State Funding

Washington Post – Rosalind Helderman and Carol Leoning | Published: 10/11/2013

Star Scientific Chief Executive Officer Jonnie Williams Sr. has told federal investigators he believed Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell was helping his company get funding from the state’s tobacco commission at the same time that Williams was giving money and gifts to the governor and his family. Under federal law, it can be illegal for elected officials to agree to take official actions in exchange for gifts or money, even if they do not ultimately follow through on their promises or have the power to do so.

Washington – Washington State Sues Lobbyists over Campaign against GMO Labeling

Reuters – Carey Gillam | Published: 10/16/2013

The state of Washington filed a lawsuit alleging the Grocery Manufacturers Association illegally collected and spent more than $7 million while shielding the identity of its donors in an effort to oppose Ballot Initiative 522, which would require labeling of genetically modified foods. The attorney general’s office is asking the court to order the group to immediately comply with state disclosure laws. It also said it would seek civil penalties.

Jim SedorState and Federal Communications produces a weekly summary of national news, offering more than 80 articles per week focused on ethics, lobbying, and campaign finance.

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