September 20, 2013 •
News You Can Use Digest – September 20, 2013
New York Times – Nicholas Confessore | Published: 9/12/2013
Freedom Partners, a nonprofit with ties to Charles and David Koch, provided grants of $236 million to conservative organizations before the 2012 election. The group reflects a shift in the tax strategies the Koch operation deploys to avoid challenge from the IRS which limits how much nonprofit groups can spend to aid or defeat candidates.
Washington Post – Reid Wilson | Published: 9/17/2013
Donald McGahn reigned from the FEC to return to private law practice at Patton Boggs. McGahn, a Republican, clashed frequently with Democrats as he helped push a conservative interpretation of campaign finance laws and persistent skepticism about government oversight of campaigns. His term expired in 2009, but it was not until this year that a replacement was nominated amid a state of gridlock at the agency.
BusinessWeek – Michael Tarm (Associated Press) | Published: 9/18/2013
Memorabilia once owned by former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-Ill.) is being auctioned off by the U.S. Marshals after his guilty plea in a corruption case. A dozen items including autographed Bruce Lee and Michael Jackson collectibles and furs formerly belonging to Jackson went up for auction, with the bidding ending September 26. Whatever money is generated will be subtracted from the $750,000 he owes the government.
From the States and Municipalities:
Arizona Daily Sun – Howard Fischer (Capitol News Services) | Published: 9/19/2013
The Arizona Citizens Clean Election Commission believes Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Mark Brain erred in concluding state lawmakers are free to reset campaign contribution limits. The commission asked the Court of Appeals to overturn Brain’s ruling that allowed the higher caps to take effect on September 13. The appellate judges agreed to consider the request on October 9.
Los Angeles Times – Chris Megerian and Melanie Mason | Published: 9/17/2013
Bills that would have increased the power of the Fair Political Practices Commission, increased fines for violations, and forced greater disclosure of donors, among other measures, all stalled in the California Legislature. It remains to be seen whether new campaign finance rules could be put in place before next year’s June primary or even the November general election.
Tampa Bay Times – Steve Bousquet | Published: 9/11/2013
Gov. Rick Scott has called off an alligator hunting trip to raise funds for his 2014 re-election campaign. Golfing weekends, concerts, and deep-sea fishing fundraisers are common in Florida politics, but a gator hunt was such an anomaly that it made major news among bloggers and political Web sites.
Marietta Daily Journal – Ray Henry (Associated Press) | Published: 9/15/2013
A new law taking effect on January 1 bans lobbyists from giving Georgia officials free college football tickets. Disclosure reports show lobbyists have given politicians almost $1,400 in football tickets and related entertainment since the start of the season in late August. Last year, registered lobbyists shelled out more than $14,000 in tickets and perks at the games.
Indianapolis Star – John Russell | Published: 9/12/2013
The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission dropped a plan to seek money from utility trade groups to help pay for a conference of energy regulators from 14 states despite gaining clearance from the state Ethics Commission. Leaders of consumer and environmental groups had objected to the fundraising, saying it presented conflicts-of-interest for the state panel that approves electricity and natural gas rates to ask the utility industry for money.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Virginia Young | Published: 9/13/2013
Missouri Rep. Penny Hubbard provided key votes to help override vetoes of bills on which her son had recently been hired as a lobbyist. In one instance, Hubbard had initially voted against a bill limiting lawsuits against the Doe Run Co. But she joined the Republican majority in overriding Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto. One day earlier, her son had gotten a lobbying job with Doe Run.
Washington Post – Matt Goras (Associated Press) | Published: 9/17/2013
U.S. District Court Judge Dana Christensen ruled Montana’s requirement that political committees disclose their campaign spending is constitutional. Christensen wrote the public’s right to know who is financing campaigns outweighs the minimal burden imposed on committees required to report the information.
Pennsylvania – Pa. Capitol Portraits Display Plenty of Conviction
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Kate Giammarise | Published: 9/16/2013
The portraits of past House and Senate leaders lining the Capitol’s hallways include several former Pennsylvania legislators now in prison on a variety of corruption-related charges. Despite the resemblance to a rogues’ gallery in some places, the paintings likely are not going anywhere.
Texas – DeLay Conviction Overturned
Houston Chronicle – Mike Snyder and Patricia Kilday Hart | Published: 9/19/2013
An appeals court threw out the criminal conviction of former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, saying there was insufficient evidence for a jury in 2010 to have found him guilty of money laundering and conspiracy for helping illegally funnel corporate money to Texas candidates in 2002. Delay was sentenced to three years in prison, but his sentence was on hold while his case made its way through the appellate process.
Washington Post – Rosalind Helderman and Laura Vozzella | Published: 9/19/2013
Todd Schneider, the former chef at the Virginia governor’s mansion, pleaded no contest to reduced charges that he stole food from the first family’s kitchen and was ordered to repay the state $2,300, resolving the dispute that sparked a political and legal crisis for Gov. Robert McDonnell, and entangled state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican candidate for governor.
Washington – Public Disclosure Commission Hacked
Tacoma News Tribune – Rachel LaCorte (Associated Press) | Published: 9/18/2013
The Washington Public Disclosure Commission’s (PDC) network was breached earlier in September, though officials said no information was compromised. Michael Smith, the PDC’s chief technology officer, said passwords have been changed and the agency has been scanning its sites looking for potential points of vulnerability.
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