News You Can Use Digest - April 6, 2018 - State and Federal Communications

April 6, 2018  •  

News You Can Use Digest – April 6, 2018

 

 

 

National:

Young Women Help Lead Campaigns to Success at the Polls
New York Times – Michael Tackett | Published: 4/2/2018

Hillary Clinton’s loss in the presidential election prompted a surge of Democratic women running for office this year, and right behind them, a new legion of young women managing campaigns. With a seat at the head of the table, they will be responsible for strategy, message, staff, and creating networks for future campaigns. This year, 40 percent of the campaign managers for Democratic congressional candidates are women. In contrast, Kelly Dittmar, a political scientist at Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics, recalled excising data on female campaign consultants from a book she wrote in 2010 because the numbers were too small to be statistically reliable.

Federal:

Pruitt Had a $50-a-Day Condo Linked to Lobbyists. Their Client’s Project Got Approved.
Anchorage Daily News – Eric Lipton (New York Times) | Published: 4/2/2018

Williams & Jensen, the lobbying firm at the center of the controversy surrounding Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt’s $50-a-night Washington, D.C. apartment, has assisted oil and gas companies in navigating the agency’s environmental regulations. The wife of J. Steven Hart, chairperson of the lobbying firm, had allowed Pruitt to use her apartment in a pricey neighborhood as he needed it, for $50 a night last year. The EPA signed off last March on a Canadian energy company’s pipeline-expansion plan, even though the agency, at the end of the Obama administration, had moved to fine Calgary-based Enbridge $61 million in for an oil spill. Williams & Jensen was registered to lobby for Enbridge at the time of the EPA action.

Top Government Ethics Chief Walter Shaub and Staff Used Headspace Meditation App to Deal with Stress of Working Under Trump
CNBC – Dan Mangan | Published: 3/29/2018

To help staff members deal with stress from working under President Trump, former Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub said he started holding daily group meditation sessions. Shaub, who resigned in July, said at least six of about 70 staffers regularly attended the 10-minute meditation breaks he held with the Headspace app, which guides users through breathing and relaxing imagination exercises. “The problem is the direct assault on the ethics program which is the thing that every person in that room had committed their lives to,” Shaub said.

From the States and Municipalities:

Alabama – Controversial Economic Developer Bill Goes to Gov. Kay Ivey
Montgomery Advertiser – Brian Lyman | Published: 3/29/2018

Alabama legislators passed a bill that opponents said would carve a loophole in the state’s ethics law. House Bill 317 exempts economic developers from having to register as lobbyists. Supporters said it would help Alabama recruit employers who value confidentiality in their search for project sites. Lobbyists must file public reports that list their clients, file quarterly activity reports, and meet other requirements. Rep. Chris England said the bill would weaken the law. “It creates a set of people who are lobbying but don’t have to register as lobbyists,” England said.

Alabama – State Rep, Former AL GOP Chairman Arrested on Bribery Charges
Montgomery Advertiser – Melissa Brown | Published: 4/2/2018

State Rep. Jack Williams and Marty Connors, a lobbyist who once chaired the Alabama Republican Party, were arrested on conspiracy charges related to payments made to another lawmaker to advance a bill. The owner of Triana Health diabetes treatment centers, G. Ford Gilbert, was also arrested. Prosecutors said Gilbert paid then-House Majority Leader Rep. Micky Hammon to push legislation that would require Alabama’s dominant insurance company to cover treatments at Triana clinics. Prosecutors said Connors, who was lobbying for the bill, knew about the payments to Hammon and recruited Williams to use his position as a committee chair to hold a hearing on the bill. Williams also knew of the payments and acted to help Hammon, “who, as everyone in the scheme knew, was experiencing grave financial problems,” prosecutors said.

Arizona – ‘Dark Money’ in the States: Arizona GOP Blocks Cities from Implementing Transparent Elections
Newsweek – Josh Keefe | Published: 4/2/2018

The Arizona Legislature passed a bill to protect anonymous political spending, less than a month after Tempe residents voted overwhelmingly to increase transparency on that type of spending in local elections. The battle between city and state opens a new front in the national debate over so-called dark money in politics; it is also the first time a state has banned local governments from shining light on secret spending. Under House Bill 2153, non-profits in “good standing” with the IRS would not have to register as a PAC, and would not have to respond to audits, subpoenas, or produce evidence regarding a “potential political campaign finance violation, among other provisions.

Hawaii – Super PAC’s Attack Reveals Gaps in Hawaii Campaign Finance Law
Honolulu Civil Beat – Nathan Eagle | Published: 4/3/2018

Megan Kau launched a super PAC and website attacking former Hawaii Sen. Clayton Hee, who is running for governor this fall. But voters will not know the source of the money behind the committee or how much she is spending trying to tarnish the candidate over 30-year-old domestic violence allegations before absentee ballots go out for the Democratic primary. Three years ago, lawmakers added a reporting deadline for non-candidate committees, such as super PACs, to help improve transparency between the primary and general elections. But they did not address filing deadlines for reports before the primary.

Illinois – Rahm Emanuel, Challengers Won’t Have Fundraising Limits in 2019 Mayoral Election
Chicago Tribune – Bill Ruthhart | Published: 4/8/2019

Willie Wilson made a $100,000 contribution to his own campaign for Chicago mayor, a donation that lifts the caps on campaign contributions for all candidates in the crowded 2019 race. Under state law, individual donors are limited to making no more than a $5,600 contribution to a single campaign. Businesses are limited to $11,100 and PACs are capped at $55,400. Those limits are lifted if a candidate gives $100,000 or more to his or her campaign fund within a year of the election, which is what Wilson said he has done.

Maryland – Maryland, ACLU Reach Settlement Over Governor Deleting Critical Comments on His Facebook Page
Washington Post – Ovetta Wiggins | Published: 4/2/2018

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan must be more permissive of social media commenters who disagree with him under a settlement to resolve a lawsuit that accused him of censoring constituents by blocking them on Facebook. The settlement includes a $65,000 payment to the four plaintiffs and a revised social media policy for Hogan’s social media accounts. The lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union alleged the plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights had been violated when Hogan blocked them from his official Facebook page or deleted their comments. The lawsuit was one of several filed over the past year against high-profile elected officials across the country accusing them of blocking constituents on social media.

Maryland – Nathaniel Oaks Is the Latest Maryland Politician to Be Convicted. Is Enough Being Done to Prevent Corruption?
Baltimore Sun – Luke Broadwater | Published: 3/30/2018

Hours after resigning from the Maryland senate, Nathaniel Oaks pleaded guilty to public corruption charges. He admitted in federal court that he accepted more than $15,000 in bribes from a man he thought was a real estate developer, in exchange for help securing funds for a project. Oaks is the latest in a long line of Maryland politicians who violated laws meant to ensure ethical government. The state has seen a governor, a vice president, several county executives, and a mayor brought low after corruption probes. Some of those political players have resurfaced and now occupy prominent roles once again in state politics.

Minnesota – Tony Cornish’s Capitol Visit Might Spark Restraining Order
Minnesota Lawyer – Kevin Featherly | Published: 4/3/2018

A surprise visit to the Capitol by former Minnesota Rep. Tony Cornish has one of his sexual-harassment accusers threatening to file for a restraining order. But Cornish says the visit might be his last. He made that declaration just before being told his visit has lobbyist Sarah Walker, who has alleged he repeatedly harassed her, contemplating a restraining order against him. Walker was one of several women who accused Cornish of harassment last year. She said Cornish repeatedly propositioned her, once pushing her up against a wall and attempting to kiss her. Cornish resigned his seat.

Oregon – Commission Approves Kitzhaber Ethics Settlement
Portland Tribune – Paris Achen | Published: 3/30/2018

The Oregon Ethics Commission accepted a settlement reached with former Gov. John Kitzhaber, closing this chapter of a years-long scandal that forced him to resign. Kitzhaber will pay a civil penalty of $20,000. The maximum fine that could have been levied was $50,000. The violations stem from conflicts-of-interest involving an overlap between Kitzhaber’s role as governor and his interest in a business owned by First Lady Cylvia Hayes. She had a dual role as an unpaid adviser in the governor’s office and was privately paid to consult on the same issues. In January, the commission found Hayes committed 22 ethics violations during her time as first lady.

Oregon – The Oregonian Places Lien on Home of Kitzhaber Fiancée
Bend Bulletin – Gary Warner | Published: 3/29/2018

Oregon’s largest newspaper has placed a six-figure lien against the home of Cylvia Hayes, the fiancée of former Gov. John Kitzhaber, who resigned in February 2015 over allegations that Hayes used her position as first lady to lobby for clients of her consulting firm. The Oregonian, based in Portland, filed the lien to recoup a $124,837 judgment against Hayes. The state attorney general had agreed to release some of the 72,000 emails to and from Hayes during Kitzhaber’s time in office. Hayes filed a lawsuit seeking to block the release. A judge ruled in the Oregonian’s favor and found Hayes liable for the newspaper’s attorneys’ fees.

South Carolina – Is Vote-Trading by South Carolina Lawmakers Illegal? Question Arises from Allegation
Greenville News – Tim Smith | Published: 3/29/2018

Sen. Sandy Senn’s allegations on the floor of the Senate have spurred a request for a state attorney general’s opinion on whether vote-trading by South Carolina legislators is illegal. Senn, alleged Sen. Gerald Malloy had offered to trade votes with her over her bill on school threats when it came before the Judiciary Committee. Sen. William Timmons said federal law bans vote-trading for members of Congress but state law is murkier about the issue. He said it might be considered a violation of the state’s ethics laws if a vote was considered a thing of value.

Wisconsin – Gov. Scott Walker Calls Special Elections; Senate Chief Drops Bill to Sidestep Court Order
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – Jason Stein | Published: 3/29/2018

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker called special elections to be held for two vacant legislative seats after three judges in the last week ordered him to do so. Meanwhile, Senate Republicans have dropped their effort to pass a bill that would eliminate a provision in state law that requires the governor to promptly call special elections for vacant seats. Appellate Court Judge Paul Reilly dismissed Walker’s argument that the court should allow time for the Legislature to rewrite state law that would effectively block the special elections. “Representative government and the election of our representatives are never ‘unnecessary,’ never a ‘waste of taxpayer resources,’ and the calling of the special elections are, as the Governor acknowledges, his ‘obligation’ to follow,” Reilly wrote.

 

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