August 16, 2013 •
News You Can Use Digest – August 16, 2013
USA Today – Fredreka Schouten | Published: 8/11/2013
A USA Today review found ten of the 32 governors who have left office since 2011 now work for trade associations or consulting and lobbying firms that allow them to help clients navigate government agencies. Several former governors said they have unique expertise about the way government operates, but that does not mean they are wielding undue influence on behalf of their clients.
New York Times – Jeremy Peters | Published: 8/12/2013
Though Republicans in recent years have harnessed the political power of town hall meetings, people from both parties say they are noticing a decline in the number of such events. With memories of angry protests still vivid, it seems one of the unintended consequences of a tea party movement that thrived on such open, often confrontational interactions with lawmakers is there are fewer members of Congress now willing to face their constituents.
Washington Post – Ann Marimow | Published: 8/14/2013
Former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-Ill.) was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison after pleading guilty to scheming to spend $750,000 in campaign funds on costly personal items, including a $43,350 gold-plated Rolex watch. His wife, former Chicago Ald. Sandra Jackson, was sentenced to a year in prison for filing joint federal income tax returns that understated the couple’s income.
From the States and Municipalities:
Sacramento Bee – Laural Rosenhall | Published: 8/8/2013
Steven Maviglio is on a short-term contract as a media consultant to California Assembly Speaker John Pérez that ends when the legislative session concludes in September. Through his Forza Communications firm, Maviglio also works for private-sector clients; some are advocacy groups who have paid him to promote their bills moving through the Legislature.
Miami Herald – Patricia Mazzei, Jay Weaver, and Charles Rabin | Published: 8/10/2013
A two-year investigation culminated recently with the arrests of Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi and lobbyist Richard Candia, along with Sweetwater Mayor Manny Maroño and his friend and business partner, lobbyist Jorge Forte. Sources said lobbyist Michael Kesti acted as an informant in the probe because he wanted to bring the FBI’s attention to influence-peddling among a network of Miami-Dade County lobbyists and mayors.
Indianapolis Star – John Russell | Published: 8/12/2013
A judge threw out four felony counts of official misconduct against Indiana’s former top utility regulator. David Lott Hardy’s behavior as Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission chairperson in connection with the Duke Energy ethics scandal was not criminal, said Marion Superior Court Judge William Nelson. But Nelson scolded Hardy for “betraying the trust” of Indiana citizens.
Jackson Clarion-Ledger – Geoff Pender | Published: 8/10/2013
Last summer, 19 state lawmakers attended a conference sponsored by the Mississippi Consumer Finance Association. Although some lawmakers described the event as all expenses paid, four House members also filed for reimbursement totaling more than $2,300 on their state expense accounts. Yet disclosure reports show lobbyists paid a total of $5,600 for the four legislators.
Kansas City Star – Jason Hancock | Published: 8/12/2013
A retired investment executive who has given millions of dollars to campaigns has filed a lawsuit challenging a proposed ballot measure seeking to establish campaign contribution limits in Missouri. Rex Sinquefield argues the limits would infringe on constitutional rights to free speech and free association. The suit contends the proposed caps are so low they inhibit effective advocacy, particularly as political campaigns become more costly.
Las Vegas Sun – Andrew Doughman | Published: 8/8/2013
Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller is seeking clarification from state agencies about how they have defined “gift.” Elected officials must disclose gifts worth more than $200, but Miller said they often fail to follow the law because it does not define a gift. Absent a statutory definition, a body of legal opinions could at least provide some guidance for what elected officials must disclose if they want to obey to the law, said Miller.
Asbury Park Press – Kathleen Hopkins | Published: 8/12/2013
The court-appointed trustee of Birdsall Services Group, the politically connected engineering firm that pleaded guilty earlier this year to making illegal campaign contributions in New Jersey, filed a federal lawsuit to recoup money the company spent on the legal expenses of former employees, alleging the payments were illegally authorized. Edwin Stier also sued 21 former top company officials, claiming their actions contributed to the firm’s collapse and caused its value to plummet.
New York – Ethics Panel Survey Launched
Albany Times Union – Rick Karlin | Published: 8/14/2013
A survey asking recipients to comment on the effectiveness of New York’s ethics law was sent to members of the state Legislature, leaders of watchdog groups, general counsels to state agencies, lobbyists, and academics. It asks about the Joint Commission on Public Ethics’ successes and shortcomings. A report on the survey will be issued later this year.
North Carolina – Voting Bill Signed; Legal Challenges Start
Charlotte Observer – Jim Morrill | Published: 8/12/2013
North Carolina Gov. Patrick McCrory signed a sweeping voting reform bill recently. Civil rights groups immediately filed lawsuits in federal court challenging the statute. The law also raises campaign contribution limits from $4,000 to $5,000 and indexes them to inflation. Starting October 1, lobbyists will not be able to pass along any donation to a candidate; the old law only prohibited the delivering of bundled contributions.
Pennsylvania – Lobbyists Fight State Fee Increase
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Kate Giammarise | Published: 8/12/2013
A proposal by the Pennsylvania Department of State would increase the biennial fee paid by registered lobbyists from $200 to $700. State officials say the increase is needed to maintain an online database and defray other costs of administering the lobbyist disclosure law. But many nonprofit groups say the increase will hurt their ability to discuss policy with lawmakers and watchdogs are concerned it could lead to less transparency.
Dallas Morning News – Gromer Jeffers, Jr. | Published: 8/11/2013
Next year’s elections could leave five or fewer white male Democrats in the Texas House. As Democrats put their emphasis on turning out more women and Hispanic voters and Republicans try to maintain advantages in the state’s small towns and rural areas, the trend, decades in the making, is expected to continue.
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