News You Can Use Digest - August 29, 2014 - State and Federal Communications

August 29, 2014  •  

News You Can Use Digest – August 29, 2014


From the States and Municipalities:

Alabama – Alabama Ethics Commission Wants Interim Director as Search for Permanent Hire Begins

Greenfield Daily Reporter – Kim Chandler (Associated Press) | Published: 8/27/2014

The Alabama Ethics Commission voted to offer the position of acting director to former Cumberland Law School Dean John Carroll. Current Director Jim Sumner is retiring on October 1. The ethics panel also began the search for a permanent director. Commission Chairperson Larkin Martin said her colleagues want an acting director in place because of the time it will take to make a permanent hire.

California – Calls Grow for Wider Inquiry into Bidding on L.A. Unified iPad Project

Los Angeles Times – Howard Bloom and Teresa Watanabe | Published: 8/26/2014

Faced with criticism about the planning and rollout of a $1 billion effort by the Los Angeles Unified School District to provide iPads to all students, Superintendent John Deasy suspended future use of a contract with Apple. The move follows disclosures that Deasy and his top deputy had close contact with executives at Apple, which makes the iPad, and Pearson Education, the company providing the curriculum on the tablets. In addition, an internal district report found the implementation of the iPad plan was beset by a flawed bidding process.

California – Ed Lee Campaign Faces Dilemma over Alleged FBI Contribution

San Francisco Chronicle – John Coté | Published: 8/27/2014

An undercover FBI agent allegedly arranged for $20,000 to be donated to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee’s campaign in a transaction that possibly violated the city’s campaign finance law. Lee’s campaign treasurer sent a letter to the U.S. attorney’s office saying he has been trying to get information from the office about the alleged contributions. But the U.S. attorney’s office said the information will not be forthcoming because it is under court seal in the complex public corruption case of suspended state Sen. Leland Yee.

Florida  – Florida Judge Deals a Blow to Democrats on Districting

New York Times – Lizette Alvarez | Published: 8/22/2014

A Florida judge allowed the use of voting districts favoring Republicans in November while approving revised congressional boundaries for subsequent elections. Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis ruled earlier that the election map was improperly drawn and ordered the Legislature to revise the districts to address “gerrymandering” in two of them. While voting-rights groups argued a new map should go into effect in 2014, Lewis said in his ruling that holding special elections this year for the districts “is not an appropriate remedy under the circumstances.” The new map would instead be in place for 2016 elections.

Iowa – Former Aide to Michele Bachmann Pleads Guilty over Campaign Finance Misdeeds

Minneapolis Star Tribune – Corey Mitchell | Published: 8/27/2014

Former Iowa Sen. Kent Sorenson pleaded guilty to federal charges he accepted money from then-U.S. Rep. Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign to switch his endorsement from U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, who was also running for the GOP nomination, and then lying to investigators about the money. Sorenson has been at the center of accusations he was paid for his endorsement, first by the Bachmann campaign and then by the Paul campaign. Sorenson was seen as a key endorsement ahead of the 2012 Iowa caucuses as a popular figure in the emerging tea party movement.

Maine – Maine Ethics Panel Allows Cutler to Raise as Much as Party Candidates

Portland Press Herald – Steve Mistler | Published: 8/27/2014

The Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices decided gubernatorial candidates will be able to collect larger contributions from donors this fall. The commission unanimously voted to allow all candidates to accept up to $3,000 per donor over the course of this year’s election cycle. The decision levels the playing field for independent candidate Eliot Cutler, who was previously able to receive only half what major party candidates have been able to collect over the course of their primary and general elections. But it also impacts the campaigns of Gov. Paul LePage and Mike Michaud by allowing them to bring in double the amount from any new donors this fall.

North Carolina – Former NC House Speaker Brubaker Ranked Top Lobbyist at General Assembly in 2013

The Tribune; Associated Press –   | Published: 8/26/2014

Former House Speaker Harold Brubaker is the most influential lobbyist in the General Assembly, according to rankings from the North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research. After his 2012 resignation, Brubaker expanded his law firm, Brubaker & Associates, to include lobbying work. In 2014, his roughly two dozen clients include health care companies such as GlaxoSmithKline and Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, as well as the North Carolina Association of Realtors and Pepsico.

Pennsylvania – After Ethics Violations, LCB Changes Code of Conduct

Philadelphia Inquier – Angela Couloumbis | Published: 8/27/2014

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (LCB) revised its code of conduct for employees and implemented new guidelines for firms doing business with the agency. It explicitly prohibits employees from accepting anything of value, under any circumstances, from vendors doing business or seeking to do business with the LCB. For vendors, the new rules primarily ban them from giving gifts to LCB employees. But it also states the agency could “from time to time” audit vendors to ensure they are complying.

Pennsylvania – Former Aide’s Guilty Plea Raises Questions for U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah

Philadelphia Inquier – Jeremy Roebuck, Mark Fazlollah, and Craig McCoy | Published: 8/27/2014

Gregory Naylor, a former aide to U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents and attempting to conceal the misuse of campaign funds during Fattah’s 2007 mayoral bid in Philadelphia. Naylor admitted he conspired with his boss – identified in court filings only as “Elected Official A” – to pay off debts with grant funds and political contributions funneled through a series of nonprofits and consulting firms. Prosecutors would not confirm the identity of the elected official identified in Naylor’s plea documents, but their description of the politician overlaps with several key details of Fattah’s 10-term congressional career.

South Carolina – Lawmakers Question Decision in Benjamin Ethics Case, Seek to Strengthen Law

The State – Cliff LeBlanc | Published: 8/27/2014

The South Carolina Ethics Commission ruled state law did not require Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin to disclose an all-expenses paid trip to Florida paid for by a developer interested in doing business in the city. House Majority Leader Bruce Bannister said he and most legislators interpret the reporting provision of the law to require disclosure of a trip like the one Benjamin took. Because of the commission’s decision, Bannister said the House will revisited that provision as the General Assembly tries again next year to update the law.

Texas – Ethics Commission Takes Aim at Texas Dark Money

Houston Chronicle – David Saleh Rauf (San Antonio Express News) | Published: 8/21/2014

The Texas Ethics Commission moved forward with a measure to reveal secret campaign contributors despite a pending federal lawsuit by a conservative group over whether the agency has the authority to regulate dark money disclosure. The commission presented a draft proposal to require a nonprofit to disclose donors if 25 percent or more of its expenditures can be classified as politically motivated. It would also require disclosure if political donations account for more than 25 percent of the group’s total contributions in a calendar year. The commission will accept public comments on the proposal for at least 30 days.

Wisconsin – Emails Show Bigger Fund-Raising Role for Wisconsin Leader

New York Times – Adam Nagourney and Michael Barbaro | Published: 8/22/2014

Gov. Scott Walker personally solicited millions of dollars in contributions for the issue-advocacy group Wisconsin Club for Growth, lawyers for the special prosecutor investigating him said in court papers. The documents form much of the basis for prosecutors’ theory that Walker’s campaign and conservative groups illegally cooperated to help him and other Republicans during recall elections. The investigation has pulled back the curtain on the ways politicians and their aides seek to get around the welter of state and national campaign finance restrictions to accommodate donors.

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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