August 9, 2013 •
News You Can Use Digest – August 9, 2013
Politico – Byron Tau | Published: 8/3/2013
Campaign fundraising in Washington, D.C. has moved from staid receptions to high-profile concerts and sporting events. Most often, these events take place in a rented skybox at the Verizon Center paid for by a corporate PAC or a congressional campaign. Fundraising professionals say pairing a campaign fundraiser with a big event like a Beyoncé concert helps attract more attention from potential donors and ultimately brings in bigger contributions.
CNN – Dana Bash and Alan Silverleib | Published: 8/6/2013
FEC Vice Chairperson Donald McGahn said an investigator from his agency contacted Lois Lerner, the IRS employee at the center of the controversy over the alleged targeting of conservative groups. He said the contact was made to discuss the status of one such political advocacy group. Shortly after Lerner was contacted, the IRS sent a questionnaire to the American Future Fund, said McGahn. He said such contact was “probably out of the ordinary” and FEC members had not given staff permission to reach out to the IRS.
From the States and Municipalities:
Los Angeles Times – Dan Weikel | Published: 8/6/2013
Los Angeles County Treasurer Mark Saladino said his office will no longer do business with securities brokers that make political contributions to school bond campaigns. The restriction applies to monetary donations, non-monetary contributions, and pre-election services, such as polling, voter outreach, and consulting.
Connecticut – Bills May Die, but Concepts Don’t
CTNewsJunkie.com – Hugh McQuaid | Published: 8/7/2013
Connecticut’s Legislative Research Office found at least 89 provisions that began this year in one bill, only to be signed into law under another. The number comes from an annual bill tracking report the office puts together after each legislative session. It documents instances when a concept became law in a manner other than the traditional legislative process.
Miami Herald – Jay Weaver, Christina Veiga, and Joey Flecha | Published: 8/6/2013
The FBI arrested Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi and Sweetwater Mayor Manuel Maroño on bribery-related charges. Prosecutors said Pizzi and lobbyist Richard Candia were involved in a kickback and bribery scheme over federal grants in Miami Lakes and Medley, where Pizzi is town attorney. An indictment claims Maroño and lobbyist Jorge Forte were involved in a kickback and bribery scheme over grants for Sweetwater, where Maroño has been mayor since 2003.
Massachusetts – Galvin Faulted on Rules for Lobbyists
Boston Globe – Michael Levenson | Published: 8/7/2013
Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin was ordered to cover more than $100,000 in legal fees for a group of lobbyists who challenged his interpretation of the state’s revamped ethics laws. A judge found Galvin overstepped his authority by trying to force lobbyists to report every time they spoke to a legislator or state official, even casual, chance meetings.
Concord Monitor – Ben Leubsdorf | Published: 8/5/2013
E-ZPasses given to New Hampshire lawmakers do not violate ethics rules. Rep. Frank Sapareto had asked the Legislative Ethics Committee if they counted as a perk with a value in excess of the $25 limit on gifts to legislators.
New York Times – David Chen | Published: 8/5/2013
New York City Comptroller John Liu was denied about $3 million in public matching funds in his bid for the Democratic mayoral nomination after the Campaign Finance Board said it found evidence of possible “serious and pervasive” violations. In May, Liu’s former campaign treasurer and a fundraiser were convicted of trying to subvert the city’s campaign finance system with straw donors to obtain matching funds.
North Carolina – Video Shows Lawmakers Dancing on NC House Floor
WCNC – Ben Thompson | Published: 7/31/2013
A video shows a Republican lawmaker and an aide dancing on the North Carolina House floor near the end of the legislative session. One headline reads “NC House Dances with Joy over its Accomplishments,” and is accompanied by an editorial criticizing lawmakers.” The video shows a man and woman dancing, while another woman plays a fiddle. But some say the headlines and descriptions of the clip are misleading.
The Oklahoman – Michael McNutt | Published: 8/3/2013
Financial information about campaigns and lobbyist spending posted on the Oklahoma Ethics Commission’s Web site is not accurate because of software glitches. Commission Executive Director Lee Slater said he will be ask lawmakers for funds next year to buy a new software system but until then, visitors to the site will have to put up with a system in which data posted by some candidates and lobbyists randomly does not show up.
South Carolina – Lobbyists Wined, Dined Lawmakers 95 Times
The State – Amanda Coyne | Published: 8/4/2013
During the 2013 legislative session, special interests hosted 95 breakfasts, luncheons, dinners, or receptions for South Carolina legislators and others. The meals and receptions regularly cost nearly $6,000 apiece. At least two held during the last legislative session cost far more, one almost $17,000 and another $20,000.
The Tennessean – Chas Sisk | Published: 8/6/2013
An audit said a lobbyist receiving 10 percent of the state funding provided to the Tennessee Disability Coalition – more than $64,000 in one year – may violate a law banning lobbyist contingency fees. An attorney for lobbyist Jennifer Murphy disputes the contention and said even if the contractual arrangement was a contingency fee, it dates from 2002, four years before the prohibition was enacted as part of an ethics reform package.
Washington Post – Carol Leonnig and Rosalind Helderman | Published: 8/5/2013
Sources said Star Scientific Chief Executive Officer Jonnie Williams, Sr. has turned over personal financial records and sat for interviews in which he provided firsthand accounts of gifts and more than $120,000 given to Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell and his family members since 2011. The cooperation is an ominous sign for McDonnell, suggesting federal prosecutors are focused on trying to build a potential criminal case against him.
West Virginia – Judge Ends Cap on Contributions to Indie PACs
Charleston Gazette – Kate White | Published: 8/7/2013
U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Johnston signed an order that strikes down struck down state laws limiting contributions to independent PACs. The $1,000 limit still applies to donations made directly to candidates and their campaign committees, PACs that contribute directly to candidates, and political parties.
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