News You Can Use Digest - August 16, 2019 - State and Federal Communications

August 16, 2019  •  

News You Can Use Digest – August 16, 2019


At Def Con, Hackers and Lawmakers Came Together to Examine Holes in Election Security
Seattle Times – Taylor Telford (Washington Post) | Published: 8/12/2019

Hackers came had come to the DefCon computer security conference for a chance to probe voting machines used in U.S. elections. Def Con’s Voting Village, and the conference at large, has become a destination not only for hackers but also for lawmakers and members of the intelligence community trying to understand the flaws in the election system that allowed Russian hackers to intervene in the 2016 election and that could be exploited again in 2020. Harri Hursti, one of the event’s organizers, said almost all of the machines at the conference were still used in elections despite having well-known vulnerabilities that have been more or less ignored by the companies that sell them.

Donor with Deep Ukraine Ties Lent $500,000 to Biden’s Brother
Politico – Ben Schreckinger | Published: 8/15/2018

A donor with deep ties to Ukraine loaned Joe Biden’s younger brother $500, 000 at the same time the then-vice president oversaw U.S. policy toward the country. The 2015 loan came as Biden’s brother faced financial difficulties related to his acquisition of a multimillion-dollar vacation home, nicknamed “the Biden Bungalow,” in South Florida. There is no indication that the loan influenced Joe Biden’s official actions, but it furthers a decades-long pattern by which relatives of the former vice president have leaned on his political allies for money and otherwise benefited financially from the Biden name.

Hickenlooper Drops Presidential Bid, Says He’ll Give ‘Serious Thought’ to a Senate Run
Roll Call – Griffin Connolly | Published: 8/15/2019

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper ended his campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination and said he will consider a run against U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner in a battleground state that Democrats need to win to take control of the chamber. Hickenlooper, who espouses a tempered brand of liberal politics, failed to gain much national traction in his presidential bid. By the time he dropped out, he was not on pace to reach the 130,000-donor benchmark to qualify for the next presidential debates. If he enters the Senate race, Hickenlooper will become the immediate front-runner in a Democratic primary field that already has 12 candidates.

How a Trump Ally Tested the Boundaries of Washington’s Influence Game
MSN – Kenneth Vogel (New York Times) | Published: 8/13/2019

Elliot Broidy, who after having been shunned by some Republicans in the wake of his 2009 guilty plea to giving nearly $1 million in illegal gifts to New York State officials to help land a $250 million investment from the state’s pension fund, had worked himself into Donald Trump’s inner circle as a top fundraiser for his 2016 campaign and inauguration. The stature he suddenly assumed when Trump won the election allowed him to position himself as a premier broker of influence and access to the new administration. In the process, his international business came to overlap with his efforts to influence government policy in ways that have now made him the subject of an intensifying federal investigation. Broidy’s ascent was also further evidence of how Trump came to rely on people whose backgrounds and activities would have raised red flags in other campaigns and administrations.

‘If You’re a Good Worker, Papers Don’t Matter’: How a Trump construction crew has relied on immigrants without legal status
MSN – Joshua Partlow and David Fahrenthold (Washington Post) | Published: 8/9/2019

For years, a roving crew of Latin American employees has worked at Trump Organization properties throughout the country. Their ranks included workers who entered the United States illegally, according to two former members of the crew. Another employee, still with the company, said that remains true today. The hiring practices are the latest example of the chasm between President Trump’s derisive rhetoric about immigrants and his company’s long-standing reliance on workers who cross the border illegally. It also raises questions about how fully the Trump Organization has followed through on its pledge to more carefully scrutinize the legal status of its workers, even as the administration launched a massive raid of undocumented immigrants, arresting about 680 people in Mississippi recently.

Interior Centralizes Ethics Reviews After Recent High-Profile Probes
The Hill – Rebecca Beitsch | Published: 8/14/2019

The Department of the Interior will be centralizing ethics reviews across its many agencies at its headquarters, following years of ethics investigations centered on many of the department’s top staff. Ethics officials at the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, and others will report to ethics officials based at Interior’s headquarters rather than agency directors. Scott de le Vega, director of Interior’s Departmental Ethics Office, said the change was designed to ensure department’s 70,000 employees are getting consistent ethics advice regardless of which branch of the department they serve. But ethics officials who reviewed the plan criticized its broad focus on all agency employees rather than the high-level officials currently being investigated for ethical lapses.

Lobbyists Race to Cash in on Cannabis Boom
The Hill – Alex Gangitano | Published: 8/11/2019

Lobbying firms are taking advantage of the cannabis boom as a number of bills on the industry move through Congress and state Legislatures. As businesses look for help dealing with new legislative and regulatory challenges, K Street is rushing to capitalize, highlighted by the highest-grossing firm, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, launching a new “Cannabis and Industrial Hemp Industry Group.”

Trial of Former Obama White House Counsel Gregory Craig Highlights Crackdown on Foreign-Influence Industry
Washington Post – Spencer Hsu | Published: 8/12/2019

In charging one of Washington, D.C.’s most prominent attorneys, Gregory Craig, with lying in connection with his work for the Ukraine government at a leading law firm, the Justice Department signaled a new era for the Foreign Agents Registration Act, a once nearly dormant law that since 2017 has been invoked in more than 20 federal prosecutions aimed at combating foreign interference in U.S. politics. The charge against Craig stems from his alleged public relations work, rather than lobbying, while with the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. He is accused not of failing to register as a foreign agent under the law, but with lying and withholding information from Justice officials seeking to determine whether he was required to register.

Trump’s Opponents Want to Name His Big Donors. His Supporters Say It’s Harassment.
MSN – Katie Rogers and Annie Karni (New York Times) | Published: 8/9/2019

Calling out the people who fund campaigns is not a new tactic in politics, but the question of how much should be publicly disclosed about those donors has been an issue that Republicans have repeatedly raised in recent years. While the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Citizens United case to uphold public disclosure, with Justice Antonin Scalia arguing later that without such revelation “democracy is doomed,” Republicans and wealthy allies have argued it results in donor harassment and has a chilling effect on free speech. The Supreme Court’s support for campaign finance disclosure laws has a built-in exemption for people who can show a realistic threat of harassment, and the renewed scrutiny on contributors to President Trump has also raised questions about what qualifies as donor harassment and who is entitled to privacy.


Canada Trudeau Breached Conflict of Interest Act, Says Ethics Commissioner; Canadian Press –   | Published: 8/14/2019

Canada’s ethics commissioner, Mario Dion, found Prime Minister Justin Trudeau violated the Conflict of Interest Act by improperly pressuring former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould to halt the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin. Dion said Trudeau’s attempts to influence Wilson-Raybould on the matter violated the law that prohibits public office holders from using their position to try to influence a decision that would improperly further the private interests of a third party. Dion found little doubt that SNC-Lavalin would have benefited had Trudeau succeeded in convincing Wilson-Raybould to overturn a decision by the director of public prosecutions, who had refused to invite the engineering giant to negotiate a remediation agreement in order to avoid a criminal prosecution on fraud charges related to contracts in Libya.

From the States and Municipalities

Alabama Alabama Ethics Commission Says Airport Authority Employees Fall Under Ethics Law – Mike Cason | Published: 8/7/2019

The Alabama Ethics Commission adopted an advisory opinion that employees of airport authorities are public employees and therefore subject to the state ethics law. Attorneys for the Birmingham and Huntsville airport authorities told the Ethics Commission that airport workers are not public employees because they are paid with funds generated by the airports, not with state, county, or municipal funds. The commission concluded otherwise. According to the opinion, the fees airport authorities collect from airlines, concessionaires, and other users of airport property are considered “state, county, or municipal funds” because the Legislature grants the authorities the ability to collect those fees for a specific public purpose.

Florida Amid Misconduct Inquiry, NRA Lobbyist Marion Hammer Says She’s Not a Lobbyist
Florida Bulldog – Dan Christensen | Published: 8/15/2019

When is a registered lobbyist not a lobbyist in Florida? If powerful National Rifle Association (NRA) lobbyist Marion Hammer gets her way, it is when she says so. Hammer has been the NRA’s Florida lobbyist since at least2006, yet despite being paid handsomely – $270,000 last year alone – she has not filed with the Florida Senate any of the required quarterly compensation reports. Sen. Perry Thurston and Rep. Anna Eskamani filed formal complaints with the state ethics commission and Senate and House oversight authorities seeking investigations. Thurston has said Hammer “was indicating that she was a consultant and not a lobbyist” and therefore was not required to file lobbyist compensation reports.

Florida Disney World Offers Florida Politicians a Sneak Peek at Star Wars Attraction, Spawning Ethics Questions
Orlando Sentinel – Steven Lemongello and Ryan Gillespie | Published: 8/15/2019

Walt Disney World invited state lawmakers and other officeholders to a “community leader preview” for its Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge attraction. It is the hottest ticket in town not yet available to the general public. The event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is not free, with invitees needing to pay $170, plus $25 parking, to attend the three-hour preview. State ethics laws are strict about what public officials and employees can accept, stating they cannot “solicit or accept anything of value to the recipient, including a gift, loan, reward, promise of future employment, favor, or service, based upon any understanding that [their] vote, official action, or judgment … would be influenced thereby.” Disney spent $28 million on state elections during the 2018 cycle and lawmakers have dealt with numerous issues related to Disney. County and city officials also deal with Disney on a regular basis.

Florida Florida’s ‘Broken’ Legislature: ‘Session too quick, term limits too short and lawmakers paid too little’
Orlando Sentinel – Steven Lemongello | Published: 8/12/2019

Critics have asked why Florida’s Legislature operates the way it does. It has one of the nation’s shortest sessions despite being the third-largest state, and some of the strictest term limits. Special sessions are generally rare, and the result is what Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith calls “a mad dash to sine die, with bills rushed through without being read and vetted by the public.” Many lawmakers and experts say the status quo is not going anywhere, either because they believe the process is working as intended or voters have no appetite for such reforms or for politicians adding years to their time in Tallahassee.

Florida ‘No Probable Cause’ Matt Gaetz Violated Florida Bar Rules in Tweets at Michael Cohen
Tampa Bay Times – Steve Contorno | Published: 8/14/2019

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz will not face discipline from the Florida Bar for posting menacing messages on social media aimed at President Donald Trump’s lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen. Florida Bar spokesperson Francine Walker said the organization found “no probable cause” that Gaetz violated its rules for lawyers. The House ethics committee is also reviewing the incident.

Indiana Inspector General OKs Casino Boss’s Private Flights for Gov. Eric Holcomb
Indianapolis Star – Tony Cook | Published: 8/8/2019

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb violated no ethics rules when a casino executive treated him to private jet flights last year. The flights in 2018 to Republican Governors Association events in Aspen, Colorado, and Scottsdale, Arizona, were together valued at more than $55,000. They gave Spectacle Entertainment Chief Executive Officer Rod Ratcliff and his business partners hours of exclusive access to Holcomb and his wife at a time when Ratcliff was seeking big changes to the state’s gaming laws that would benefit his company. Indiana Inspector General Lori Torres, who is appointed by Holcomb, determined the governor did not have to disclose the flights as a gift because they were designated as in-kind contributions to the Republican Governors Association, not to Holcomb.

Kentucky Frankfort Resident Named Executive Director of Ky. Legislative Ethics Commission
State Journal; Staff –   | Published: 8/13/2019

Laura Hromyak Hendrix was tapped to serve as executive director of the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission following the retirement of John Schaaf. Hendrix, who presently serves as the commission’s legal counsel, will assume the post September 1. the post Sept. 1. “Laura’s knowledge of the ethics law and her legal experience will allow the commission to continue its tradition of advising on and enforcing the ethics laws in a fair and nonpartisan manner,” Commission Chairperson Anthony Wilhoit said.

Kentucky Jerry Lundergan’s Trial Over Illegal Contributions to Daughter’s Campaign Begins Tuesday
Louisville Courier-Journal – Tom Loftus | Published: 8/12/2019

Jerry Lundergan, a prominent player in Kentucky Democratic Party politics for 40 years, faces trial on charges he conspired to funnel illegal corporate contributions to the campaign of his daughter, Alison Lundergan Grimes, for the U.S. Senate in 2014. Lundergan is also accused of falsifying campaign finance records to conceal what his indictment itemizes were more than $206,000 in services his company provided to Grimes’ campaign. Jurors in the case may hear arguments involving the complexities of campaign finance laws, the practices of how campaigns report contributions and expenses, and the impact of how court rulings have shaken up the world of campaign finance.

Michigan ‘An Easy Sell’: Inman texts point to PAC dominance in Michigan politics
Detroit News – Jonathan Oosting | Published: 8/8/2019

Michigan Rep. Larry Inman was planning to vote against a controversial initiative to repeal the state’s prevailing wage law when a top House Republican aide shared a dire prediction. Democratic voters would not “come to your side” and “you will shut down any incentive for the big donors to give” to your reelection campaign, Dan Pero, chief of staff to then-House Speaker Tom Leonard, told Inman in a text on the day of the vote. The text messages, disclosed by federal prosecutors as Inman heads toward trial for allegedly trying to sell his vote to a union group opposed to the repeal, highlight the outsized influence interest group donors have on Michigan politics and how PAC contributions can influence legislative votes.

Michigan Millions Meant for Repairing Michigan Roads Go Back to Trucking Industry
Detroit Free Press – Paul Egan | Published: 8/11/2019

Money from Michigan’s vehicle registration fees – close to $8 million since 2012 – is paid in grants to the Center for Truck Safety, a nonprofit charged with educating truckers and the public. It is an arm of the Michigan Trucking Association, the industry’s lobbying group that has fought efforts to reduce the state’s highest-in-the-nation gross weight limits for trucks. The center shares Lansing office space and has also shared employees with the association. It uses some of the state money to pay the lobbying organization rent, services such as legal advice and personnel management, and payments on a loan. Nearly all of the truck safety center’s officers and directors are also directors of the trucking association and the state briefly cut off funding to the center after finding some state money was being used to pay expenses related not to the safety center, but to the trucking association.

Missouri Ex-St. Louis County Executive Gets Nearly 4 Years in Prison
AP News – James Saltzer | Published: 8/9/2019

Former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger was sentenced to almost four years in prison and fined $250,000 for steering county business to a campaign donor in exchange for thousands of dollars in contributions. Stenger has also surrendered his law and accounting licenses and paid about $130,000 in restitution. Three others also pleaded guilty as part of the scheme – Stenger’s chief of staff, Bill Miller; businessperson John Rallo, who donated to Stenger’s campaign with the expectation his companies would get county contracts; and Sheila Sweeney, whom Stenger appointed as head of the county’s economic development agency.

Missouri Missouri Police Chiefs Lobbyist Quits After Audit Blasts No-Bid Contract He Helped Secure
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Jack Suntrup | Published: 8/12/2019

Sheldon Lineback, the longtime lobbyist for the Missouri Police Chiefs Association, canceled his registration with the Missouri Ethics Commission after a state audit criticized his role in a no-bid contract scheme that cost taxpayers $74,000. Auditor Nicole Galloway said former Department of Public Safety Director Drew Juden steered a $58,000 contract to the Missouri Police Chiefs Charitable Foundation, which is associated with the police chiefs association. The contract was for providing fingerprinting equipment to local police departments, a job the Missouri State Highway Patrol had done in the past at no additional cost to the state. The group was allowed to keep $1.25 million in state money, meant for purchasing the equipment, in its coffers for eight months, costing the state approximately $16,000 in interest revenue, and presumably benefiting the nonprofit. Juden is the former president of the Missouri Police Chiefs Association.

Montana Fed Appeals Court Upholds Montana’s Landmark Campaign-Finance Disclosure Law
AP News – Matt Volz | Published: 8/12/2019

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a provision of Montana’s campaign finance law, ruling any group distributing material that merely mentions a candidate within 60 days of an election can be required to register with the state and disclose its spending and, in some cases, its donors. The state law requires any group to register and file disclosures once it spends $250 or more on ads or mailers referring to a candidate, political party, or ballot issue within 60 days of an election. That includes organizations registered as nonprofits under section 501(c)4 of the tax law that generally are not required to disclose their donors and spending. The National Association of Gun Rights argued unsuccessfully that the U.S. Constitution bars states from requiring that kind of disclosure for informational ads, such as the kind it proposed mailing.

New Hampshire Bipartisan Bill to Create Redistricting Panel Vetoed by New Hampshire Governor
Governing – Kevin Landrigan (Manchester Union Leader) | Published: 8/12/2019

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed a bill to create an independent commission proposed to come up with the best way to redraw legislative, congressional, and executive council districts after the 2020 elections. Sununu said the measure was well-intentioned but would have an “unaccountable” panel drawing these lines after they were picked by “party bosses.” This plan would allow lawmakers to vote on redistricting maps but would keep them out of the process of drawing them. Instead, maps would be created by a 15-member commission selected from a pool of applicants collected by the secretary of state.

New Hampshire NH Attorney General: Contributions from limited partnerships, LLPs remain legal in state elections
WMUR – John DiStaso | Published: 8/9/2019

The New Hampshire attorney general’s office cleared the way for candidates for state offices to continue receiving contributions from corporate entities known as limited partnerships and limited liability partnerships. The office responded to a complaint filed against the Friends of Chris Sununu, the governor’s campaign operation, by Granite State Progress. It charged that three contributions to Sununu in 2017 violated a state law that includes donations by partnerships in a list of prohibited contributions. The group said Sununu’s campaign violated the law by accepting the money. Assistant Attorney General Nicholas Chong Yen said the office determined at least nine years ago that it could no longer enforce bans on contributions from partnerships and limited liability partnerships.

New Jersey Two Unions Secretly Gave $3.6 Million to Phil Murphy’s Group During Millionaires Tax Push
Bergen Record – Ashley Balcerzak | Published: 8/11/2019

Two powerful unions donated a combined $3.6 million to New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s secretive “dark money” nonprofit. The state’s largest teachers’ union, the New Jersey Education Association, wrote a $1 million check in April, a month after Murphy’s 2019 budget announcement the union called “progressive” and “people-focused.” That donation is on top of the $2.5 million the union gave to New Direction New Jersey in 2018. A local branch of the Service Employees International Union pitched in an additional $150,000 in June 2018. Officials with New Direction New Jersey had said it would report who was giving the group money. The nonprofit reversed its pledge later, citing a “toxic political environment,” and refused to name who bankrolled its push to pass Murphy’s priorities.

North Carolina After El Paso, the ‘Send Her Back’ Chant Echoes to Some as a Prelude to Murder
MSN – Griff Witte (Washington Post) | Published: 8/13/2019

Samar Badwan, a Greenville, North Carolina resident, watched as 8,000 neighbors and fellow citizens jammed an arena to serenade President Trump with chants of “Send her back,” a response to Trump’s insistence that a Muslim, Somali American member of Congress should “go back” to the land of her birth. That visit, and that chant, continues to reverberate loudly in Greenville nearly a month later, particularly for those, like Badwan, who see themselves as targets of a campaign to whip up xenophobia and hate. After the El Paso shootings, in which 22 people were killed by a gunman who parroted Trump’s warnings about an “invasion” of immigrants, the words carry a particularly ominous resonance: as a prelude to murder.

North Dakota Panel Picks Members of North Dakota Ethics Commission
Grand Forks Herald – John Hageman | Published: 8/8/2019

A committee charged with selecting members of North Dakota’s new state ethics commission finalized its picks, marking a major step toward implementing voter-approved rules against corruption. Their terms will begin September 1. Voters created the commission through a constitutional amendment last year. Despite criticisms of a Republican-backed implementation bill approved by state lawmakers this year, the commission will be able to write rules on transparency, corruption, elections, and lobbying as well as investigate allegations of wrongdoing.

North Dakota Top North Dakota Officials Unfazed by State Money Awarded to Ethics Commissioner’s Tribal College
Grand Forks Herald – John Hageman | Published: 8/13/2019

North Dakota’s governor and Senate leaders were unfazed that one of their picks for the state’s new ethics commission leads a tribal college that has received more than $2 million in state grants in recent years, which one lawmaker argued is a conflict-of-interest. Cynthia Lindquist, president of the Cankdeska Cikana Community College, was selected as one of five members of the voter-approved ethics commission. Gov. Doug Burgum’s spokesperson said the governor’s office was aware the tribal college had received state dollars but noted it is primarily federally funded.

Oregon The ACLU Helped Oregon Stay Awash in Campaign Cash. It’s Having Second Thoughts.
Portland Oregonian – Rob Davis | Published: 8/7/2019

The last time Oregon voters were asked whether campaign contributions should be limited, a prominent liberal group was among the most vocally opposed: The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon. It had an impact. Voters in 2006 said no. Thirteen years later, with a similar measure on campaign donations heading to voters next year at the behest of the state Legislature and Gov. Kate Brown, the ACLU has dropped its absolute opposition to contribution limits. The shift eliminates one major obstacle to ending Oregon’s outlier status as one of five states with no caps on campaign money.

Pennsylvania Philly’s New Voting Machine Contract in Jeopardy Because Vendor Failed to Disclose Use of Lobbyists, Campaign Contributions
Philadelphia Inquirer – Jonathan Lai | Published: 8/14/2019

Philadelphia City Solicitor Marcel Pratt notified the acting board of elections that Election Systems & Software (ES&S) violated the law by failing to disclose its use of lobbyists and the lobbyists’ campaign contributions to the two city commissioners on the board who selected the company for a contract to provide new voting machines. If the board decides to continue with the contract, ES&S will be liable for a $2.9 million fine, Pratt said, adding that it has agreed to pay the penalty if the contract proceeds. Using lobbyists is not illegal, and Pratt noted ES&S could have disclosed the lobbying and the campaign contributions without being disqualified from the bidding and selection process. The other finalist, Dominion Voting Systems, also did not disclose its use of a lobbyist.

Pennsylvania Pittsburgh-Area Lobbyist Charged with Defrauding Clients, Forging Grant Documents
WTAE – Bob Mayo | Published: 8/12/2019

Lobbyist Joseph Kuklis, chief executive officer of Wellington Strategies, was charged with running a corrupt organization, theft by deception, forgery, and fraudulent business practices by the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office. The criminal complaint says investigators seized records of Wellington Strategies and allegedly found evidence of forgeries in the trash of Kuklis’s home. Kuklis allegedly falsely represented to nonprofits and businesses that he had obtained state grants for them and forged letters and documents to mislead clients who paid him for his work.

Tennessee As Tennessee Makes Voter Registration More Difficult, Activists Consider What’s Next
Governing – Matt Vasilogambros (Stateline) | Published: 8/14/2019

Less than a year after a coalition of groups, led by the nonprofit Tennessee Black Voter Project, conducted a statewide voter registration drive that accumulated 91,000 applications, activists face a daunting obstacle: A new state law that seeks to curb mass voter registration efforts by imposing criminal and financial penalties for turning in error-filled forms or failing to register with the state and undergo training. The new Tennessee law has nonprofits and voting rights activists scrambling ahead of the 2020 presidential election, as they attempt to understand new regulations that could lead to thousands of dollars in fines and even jail time.

Tennessee Lawmakers, Political Groups Owe State $1.9M in Fines for Violating Campaign Finance, Ethics Rules
The Tennessean – Joel Ebert | Published: 8/14/2019

Two Tennessee agencies that serve as watchdogs of elected officials, candidates, and political organizations are owed nearly $1.9 million. The average Tennessean could lose their home, be subject to liens, face collections agencies, or go to jail if tickets or taxes go unpaid.  But that is not the case for the candidates, officials, and organizations that have been fined by the Registry of Election Finance and the Tennessee Ethics Commission. Instead, the state’s attorney general is tasked with collecting the two agencies’ unpaid fines.

Tennessee State Election Registry to Formally Audit Bill Ketron’s Campaign Finance Reports
The Tennessean – Elaina Sauber | Published: 8/14/2019

The Tennessee Registry of Election Finance formally authorized an audit of former state Sen. Bill Ketron and his campaign finance committees.  Those include his committee while seeking office as Rutherford County mayor, his state Senate committee, and his PAC. Ketron, who was elected Rutherford County mayor last year, faces $60,000 in unpaid civil penalties. The fines are primarily related to late filings of his campaign finance reports. Ketron and his campaign treasurer are responsible for ensuring campaign finance reports are filed on time. But his campaign treasurer and daughter, Kelsey Ketron, is facing her own financial troubles and possible criminal charges.

Texas Texas Democrats Sue Over Secret Meeting Between House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, Empower Texans CEO
Dallas News – James Barragan | Published: 8/8/2019

The Texas Democratic Party is suing House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and conservative activist Michael Quinn Sullivan, alleging they created an unregistered PAC and violated other state election laws. The lawsuit stems from a June meeting Sullivan had with Bonnen and Republican Caucus Chairperson Dustin Burrows. In the meeting, Sullivan has said, Bonnen and Burrows offered to give writers at his website, Texas Scorecard, House media credentials in the next legislative session in exchange for Sullivan’s political group targeting 10 GOP incumbents in next year’s primary elections. Sullivan said he rebuffed the offer. But Democrats allege that meeting and any agreements reached in it show a coordinated effort “between political actors intended to influence the election or defeat of specific candidates” and amounts to an unregistered political committee as defined by state law.

Utah Draper City Council Candidate Booted from Race After Showing Up One Minute Past Filing Deadline
Salt Lake Tribune – Alison Berg | Published: 8/12/2019

When Hubert Huh received a call August 6 from his state representative, Jeffrey Stenquist, reminding him of the 5 p.m. deadline for filing a campaign finance disclosure form, Huh, a Draper City Council candidate, sped as fast as he could to City Hall with his form. Arriving at 5:01 p.m., the city recorder told him he was too late and would be disqualified from the race. The deadline was 5 p.m. Though Huh was only a minute past deadline, Draper spokesperson Maridene Alexander said the city follows the state code strictly, which requires a finance disclosure form be turned into the clerk or recorder’s office by 5 p.m. the day it is due.

Washington Seattle Politics Without Corporate Money? Council Member Fires Off Long-Shot Proposal
Crosscut – David Kroman | Published: 8/14/2019

In an effort sure to face a bumpy legal road, Seattle City Councilperson Lorena González has drafted legislation aimed at stemming the growing influence of big money donors in municipal elections. The bill would limit how much donors could give to PACs while placing stricter regulations on how foreign money, including donations from U.S. companies with foreign owners, shapes city politics. It would also require PACs to disclose how their money is spent. The three proposals in González’s package share the goal of curbing the effect of money on local elections, a so-far quixotic effort to find gaps in the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which is credited with opening the floodgates on corporate contributions to elections.

Washington DC D.C. Lawmaker Jack Evans Fined $20,000 in Ethics Case Involving Outside Work
Washington Post – Fenit Nirappil | Published: 8/8/2019

District of Columbia Councilperson Jack Evans was fined $20,000 by the city’s ethics agency for using government resources and touting his influence as an elected official while soliciting employment from local law firms. The settlement is the latest fallout for the city’s longest-serving lawmaker who has been embroiled in an ethics scandal. Emails that Evans sent from his council office showed he tried to land jobs at law firms in 2015 and 2018. In business proposals, he highlighted an ability to attract private clients as a lawmaker and as board chair of the regional transit agency. The Board of Ethics and Government Accountability determined there was “substantial evidence” Evans’ contact with the law firms violated rules that prohibit the use of government resources for personal reasons and using the prestige of office for private gain.

West Virginia Welcome to the Greenbrier, the Governor-Owned Luxury Resort Filled with Conflicts of Interest
ProPublica – Ken Ward Jr. (Charleston Gazette-Mail) | Published: 8/15/2019

Ethics officials have said West Virginia laws never contemplated someone like Gov. Jim Justice. With his decision to hold his inauguration ball at The Greenbrier, a palatial resort the governor owns, Justice ushered in a new era of politics in West Virginia, one in which it is hard to tell where the governor’s business interests end, and state government begins. All told, more than $1 million, half of the inaugural fund, went to Justice’s Greenbrier Hotel Corp. The Greenbrier represents only a slice of Justice’s holdings, estimated to be worth as much as $1.5 billion. But the iconic resort’s outsized role in West Virginia politics has made it an unparalleled ethical thicket for the governor.

Wyoming Wyoming Is Committed to a ‘Citizen Legislature.’ But the Format Can Limit Who Is Able to Participate.
Casper Star-Tribune – Nick Reynolds | Published: 8/12/2019

Wyoming’s citizen Legislature has always been a point of pride, harkening back to a simpler time in the state’s history where government was radically by the people, for the people. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, just 4 states – Wyoming, Montana, and the Dakotas – boast what can be considered “citizen Legislatures,” keeping the session limits short, the pay low, and legislative staff limited in order to shut out the trappings of big government. For opponents of a per diem raise for lawmakers, this is something worth preserving, both in maintaining the state’s culture of conservatism and by being fiscally prudent. But some believe the concept of the Legislature could use some updating, particularly as its members look less and less like the state they represent.

Continue Reading

State and Federal Communications, Inc. provides research and consulting services for government relations professionals on lobbying laws, procurement lobbying laws, political contribution laws in the United States and Canada. Learn more by visiting

Sort by Month