News You Can Use Digest – October 4, 2013 - State and Federal Communications

October 4, 2013  •  

News You Can Use Digest – October 4, 2013

News You Can Use


State Watchdogs Band Together to Take on ‘Dark Money’

Washington Post – Reid Wilson | Published: 10/3/2013

The States’ Unified Network Center, a project from watchdog groups to share information on campaign finance legislation across the country, will begin as a Web presence to highlight proposed bills and standing law. It will also organize a database of nonprofit groups that spend money in state elections, in hopes of stitching together the state-by-state patchwork of campaign finance databases.


Government Shutdown: Wall Street angry at tea party it has no influence over

Politico – MJ Lee | Published: 10/2/2013

Wall Street’s frustration over the current fiscal impasse is shared by the larger business community, which has tried to convince lawmakers the threat of shutting down the government or failing to raise the borrowing limit should not be used as negotiating ploys. But wealthy financial services executives and their lobbyists have little leverage against tea party lawmakers, who do not care for big banks and do not rely heavily on the industry for campaign money.

Not ‘Essential’: Shutdown would hit FEC hard

Center for Public Integrity – Dave Leventhal | Published: 9/30/2013

The FEC, unlike some agencies filled with employees deemed essential, will effectively shutter under a government shutdown. All but the agency’s active commissioners, who are furlough-proof political appointees, would ultimately stay home.

From the States and Municipalities:

California – Ex-Lobbyist Joins Councilman’s Staff and Questions Follow

Los Angeles Times – Robert Zahniser | Published: 9/26/2013

Robert Katherman, a longtime Los Angeles lobbyist, said since joining city Councilperson Curren Price’s staff, he has avoided decisions affecting clients at the advocacy firm he founded and put his wife in charge of. As long as that continues, state conflict-of-interest laws permit Price to act on proposals that benefit Katherman’s wife and her firm.

Georgia – Ethics Commission to Ask for Special Investigator

San Francisco Chronicle – Christina Cassidy (Associated Press) | Published: 9/30/2013

The Georgia ethics commission voted to request that a special assistant attorney general be appointed for an independent investigation to look into the circumstances surrounding two lawsuits against the agency. Former commission Executive Secretary Stacey Kalberman and her onetime deputy, Sharon Streicker, allege they were forced out for pressing an investigation into Gov. Nathan Deal’s 2010 campaign.

Georgia – State Senator Balfour Indicted on Charges Related to Expenses

Athens Banner-Herald – Ray Henry (Associated Press) | Published: 9/27/2013

A grand jury charged state Sen. Don Balfour with illegally claiming legislative expense pay. The indictment comes after a Georgia Bureau of Investigation probe into expense vouchers from his work at the General Assembly, where Balfour sought reimbursement for mileage and per diem expenses at the Capitol when lobbyist disclosure reports show he was out of state.

Illinois – Appeals Court Denies Quinn Bid to Keep Pay Freeze

San Francisco Chronicle – Sarah Burnett (Associated Press) | Published: 9/27/2013

A judge overruled Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, who had suspended the salaries of state legislators, and ordered the lawmakers to receive back pay with interest. Quinn suspended the paychecks this summer, saying lawmakers had failed to resolve a financial crisis worsened by the ballooning cost of state pension plans. Leaders of the Legislature challenged his authority to suspend the pay.

Iowa – Iowa Lawmaker Resigns over Bachmann Payments

USA Today – Jason Noble and Jennifer Jacobs (Des Moines Register) | Published: 10/2/2013

Iowa Sen. Kent Sorenson resigned after a special investigator found it likely he violated ethics rules by taking money from PACs connected to former presidential candidate Michele Bachmann and then denying he had done so. The report contains the most detailed findings yet in a scandal that has swirled around Sorensen since he defected from the Bachmann campaign days before the 2012 Iowa caucuses to support Ron Paul.

Michigan – Corruption Alleged after Detroit Pension Deal

Detroit Free Press – Robert Snell | Published: 9/30/2013

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick backed an investment deal that bankrolled a three-year spree of alleged corruption and helped push the city into bankruptcy. The deal cheated city retirees out of more than $84 million, led to criminal charges against six people, and compounded the impact of the money-losing Wall Street scheme, which could eventually cost Detroit more than $2.7 billion.

Minnesota – Emmer’s Internet Ad Could Prove Troublesome

Minneapolis Star Tribune – Jim Ragsdale and Jennifer Brooks | Published: 9/30/2013

A television ad featuring congressional candidate Tom Emmer vouching for a construction company may violate a federal law banning corporate contributions to candidates. Emmer appeared in an ad for Integrity Exteriors & Remodelers while noting his candidacy and standing by a banner spelling out his congressional ambitions. A YouTube posting for the ad said it had aired on a Twin Cities television station.

Mississippi – Hood Could Appeal Judge’s Ruling That Part of Miss. Campaign Finance Law Is Unconstitutional

Columbus Republic – Emily Wagster Pettus (Associated Press) | Published: 10/1/2013

U.S. District Court Judge Sharion Aycock ruled that part of Mississippi’s campaign finance law creates an unconstitutional burden for individuals or organizations that spend at least $200 to support or oppose a ballot initiative. State Attorney Jim Hood an appeal could be difficult because federal courts have not been amenable to states’ defense of their own campaign finance laws.

New York – Elections Officials Narrow Scope of Collection Effort

Albany Times Union – Casey Seiler | Published: 9/26/2013

The New York State Board of Elections had planned to send letters in September to numerous campaign treasurers with judgments against them and the banks that held their funds, informing them the committees’ assets were frozen until their fines had been settled. But only two such letters have been sent.

North Carolina – Voter ID Targeted in North Carolina

Wall Street Journal – Devlin Barrett | Published: 9/30/2013

The U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit challenging voting restrictions adopted by North Carolina, alleging they discriminate against minority voters. The suit challenges the state’s voter-identification requirement and limits on early voting. It also asks the court to require federal pre-approval for voting-law changes in the state.

West Virginia – Fishing Trip Underscores Close Ties between Suder, United Sportsmen

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – Patrick Marley and Jason Stein | Published: 9/30/2013

Records show then-Wisconsin Assembly Majority Leader Scott Suder accepted an invitation for a fishing trip offered by the lobbyist for a self-described sportsmen group just days before an affiliate of the organization won a $500,000 state grant. Gov. Scott Walker rescinded the grant after reports the group misrepresented its nonprofit status and its president had been cited for shooting a black bear without the proper license.

West Virginia – W.Va. Judge Resigns, Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy

San Francisco Chronicle – John Raby (Associated Press) | Published: 10/2/2013

A West Virginia judge pleaded guilty to participating in a scheme to conceal alleged illegal drug use and election-law violations by a sheriff who was murdered earlier this year. As part of his plea agreement, prosecutors agreed to drop an earlier charge that Mingo County Circuit Court Judge Thornsbury misused his office on several occasions over five years to try to illegally imprison the husband of his former secretary after she ended an affair with him.

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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