News You Can Use Digest – August 30, 2013 - State and Federal Communications

August 30, 2013  •  

News You Can Use Digest – August 30, 2013

News You Can Use


Private Lobbyists Get Public Pensions in 20 States

Politico; Associated Press –   | Published: 8/26/2013

Lobbyists in at least 20 states receive public pensions because they represent associations of counties, cities, and school boards. Legislatures granted them access decades ago on the premise that they serve governments and the public. But several states have started to question whether these organizations should qualify for such benefits, since they are private entities in most respects.

From the States and Municipalities:

California – San Diego Mayor Bob Filner Resigns, Faces Criminal Investigation

Los Angeles Times – Tony Perry and Richard Marosi | Published: 8/23/2013

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner resigned under a barrage of sexual harassment complaints, offering an apology to his accusers while still denying the allegations. In exchange for his resignation, the city will pay most of Filner’s legal fees. It will also cover any punitive damages against him in any lawsuit. A spokesperson for the state attorney general’s office confirmed a criminal investigation into Filner’s treatment of women is underway.

California – State Panel Changes Disclosure Rules for Public Officials’ Travel

Los Angeles Times – Patrick McGreevy | Published: 8/22/2013

The California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) revised gift rules involving travel by elected officials. “[The FPPC] can only require disclosure or impose restrictions if there is a personal benefit to the individual,” said agency Chairperson Ann Ravel.

Connecticut – Former Donovan Aide Gets 38 Months in Campaign Scandal

Hartford Courant – Dave Altimari | Published: 8/27/2013

Robert Braddock, the ex-campaign finance director to former Connecticut House Speaker Chris Donovan’s unsuccessful congressional campaign, was sentenced to more than three years in prison. Braddock and seven other co-defendants who pleaded guilty were involved in a scheme that funneled nearly $28,000 to Donovan’s campaign through straw donors in an effort to get Donovan to defeat proposed legislation to raise taxes on roll-your-own cigarette shops.

Florida – Lobbyist Fee Reports Are Just another Type of Competition

Orlando Sentinel – Aaron Deslatte | Published: 8/23/2013

The large paydays reported by some Florida lobbying firms are causing many to cry foul on the state’s disclosure law. The behind-the-scenes criticism is focused on the law’s requirements mandating only that lobbyist detail what they are paid to ply their trade in $10,000 ranges. The reports have never been subjected to audits. Many complain other lobbyists engage in financial gamesmanship in order to boost their status or draw new clients.

Florida – Texas-Sized B-Day Party for Scott Aide Hosted by Lobbyist and Wife

Tampa Bay Times – Michael Van Sickler | Published: 8/27/2013

Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s chief of staff, Adam Hollingsworth attended a birthday party for another top gubernatorial staffer at the home of Daniel and Monica Russell. Daniel Russell is a registered lobbyist for Northrop Grumman, which has been in talks with the state about tax incentives for the company. The office handling those negotiations is the Department of Economic Opportunity, where Monica Russell is the spokesperson.

Illinois – DuPage County Board Loosens Cap on Campaign Contributions

Chicago Daily Herald – Robert Sanchez | Published: 8/28/2013

In an attempt to align itself with Illinois’ campaign finance law, the DuPage County Board voted to raise the county donation limit from $1,000 to the state standard of $5,300. The cap had applied to companies and consulting firms, as well as officers and owners of those entities, as well as to any individual appointed or applying for a position on a board, commission, authority, task force, or advisory committee.

Missouri – Klahr Chosen as Director of Mo. Ethics Commission

Miami Herald; Associated Press –   | Published: 8/27/2013

The Missouri Ethics Commission chose James Klahr to be the agency’s executive director beginning on September 13. He was a staff attorney for the state Senate and for Gov. Jay Nixon. Klahr replaces Julie Allen, who stepped down to become the elections director for the secretary of state’s office.

Missouri – Mo. Rep. LaFaver Arrested for Possessing Pot, Quits Democratic Campaign Role but Not House

Columbus Republic – David Lieb (Associated Press) | Published: 8/26/2013

A Missouri lawmaker who was arrested for possession of marijuana during a traffic stop said he would not resign. State Rep. Jeremy LaFaver has, however, stepped down as chairperson of the Democratic Party’s 2014 campaign committee. During this past legislative session, LaFaver sponsored a bill that would have reduced the penalties for marijuana possession; it did not pass.

Nevada – Emails Show How Political Advisers Trumped Staff in Winning Support for ‘More Cops’ Tax

Las Vegas Sun – Anjeanette Damon | Published: 8/27/2013

Before the 2013 legislative session began, Nevada Gov Brian Sandoval followed the advice of outside political advisors and decided to support a tax increase. An email exchange about the move offers a look into who holds sway at the governor’s office, including the role of the two lobbyists.

New York – Millions Sweeten the Casino Pot

Albany Times Union – James Odato | Published: 8/27/2013

The Seneca Indian Nation agreed to give David Flaum a $3 million “development fee” if a casino opens in Monroe County, and a contingency fee of up to $5 million if the tribe gets a state gaming compact by October 1. Lobbyists are banned from receiving contingency fees in New York. Flaum would have to register as a lobbyist if he begins appearing before government officials on behalf of the tribe, particularly for a gaming compact, and contract terms suggest the tribe might direct him to do so.

Ohio – Gov. John Kasich and Ohio Ethics Commission Linked by Political Contributions, Records Show

Cleveland Plain Dealer – Henry Gomez | Published: 8/23/2013

A Cleveland Plain Dealer analysis shows three of the five members of the Ohio Ethics Commission or their spouses have contributed to Gov. John Kasich’s campaigns over the years. Democrats see new relevance in these ties as they call for an ethics investigation of Kasich. The commission rejected a request to explore the governor’s involvement with Worthington Industries, a company that received state tax credits.

Ohio – OH Treasurer Crashes Twice, Makes No Staff Report

Miami Herald – Julie Carr Smyth (Associated Press) | Published: 8/27/2013

Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel might have violated state and federal campaign laws by traveling across the state this year in a vehicle bought by his failed 2012 U.S. Senate campaign. The possible violation only came to light after a traffic accident in which the Jeep Grand Cherokee was totaled.

Texas – Texas Mayor, Brother, Dad Charged with Corruption

Kansas City Star; Associated Press –   | Published: 8/28/2013

The mayor of a small city in Texas and his brother, the president of the local school board, were charged in a public corruption case that prosecutors said maintained a stranglehold over local government business for years. Also arrested was Jose Vela, the pair’s father and a maintenance worker at the local high school. Prosecutors said he ran city government through his sons and a revolving door of city council and school board candidates recruited by his family.

Virginia – Lax Laws Lead to Cloudy View of Lobbyists’ Spending

The Virginian-Pilot – Julian Walker | Published: 8/29/2013

Lobbyists reported spending $15.9 million in Virginia from May 2012 to April 2013. But critics say it is an incomplete financial picture of all that goes into policy persuasion and legislative influence in a state with lax reporting standards and enforcement of lobbyist disclosures.

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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