News You Can Use Digest - February 14, 2014 - State and Federal Communications

February 14, 2014  •  

News You Can Use Digest – February 14, 2014







The State Races Ignored – Until Now

Politico – Tal Kopan | Published: 2/12/2014

Races for secretary of state have captured the attention of some of the country’s major political players, who have formed national PACs and sketched out multimillion-dollar fundraising plans. They believe that winning these offices could give their side an edge in the 2016 presidential race because secretaries of state run elections and can shape voter ID rules and other details. When margins are tight, those small differences can mean the difference between a win and a loss.

Why There’s No Democratic Version of the Koch Brothers Organization

Washington Post – Reid Wilson | Published: 2/7/2014

For the Democratic professionals who run campaigns, the thing that frustrates them most about the coordinated network of conservative donors built by Charles and David Koch is that there is no real equivalent on their side. That is because big Democratic donors and big Republican contributors are motivated by different types of issues, and therefore give differently, according to Democratic strategists who deal frequently with wealthy donors.


Both Sides Object to I.R.S. Plan to Restrict Nonprofits’ Political Activity

New York Times – Carl Hulse | Published: 2/12/2014

In a rare agreement between tea party and liberal activists, organizations across the political spectrum say new regulations drafted by the Internal Revenue Service to curb a surge in political spending and activity by nonprofits are far too broad. They fear that enforcement of the regulations would chill more neutral civic initiatives such as voter registration efforts and candidate forums.

Fight over Minimum Wage Illustrates Web of Industry Ties

New York Times – Eric Lipton | Published: 2/9/2014

Conservative and liberal groups are again working in opaque ways to shape controversial political debates in Washington through organizations with benign-sounding names that can mask the intentions of their wealthy patrons. They do it with the gloss of research, and play a critical and often underappreciated role in multilevel lobbying campaigns, backed by corporate lobbyists and labor unions, with a potential payoff that can be in the millions of dollars for the interests they represent.

From the States and Municipalities:

California – Record-Setting Fine Hits Sacramento Lobbyist Kevin Sloat

Sacramento Bee – Laurel Rosenhall | Published: 2/11/2014

Kevin Sloat and his lobbying firm, Sloat Higgins Jensen & Associates, agreed to pay a record $133,500 fine to the California Fair Political Practices Commission for making improper campaign contributions to some 40 politicians. In addition to improperly providing expensive wines, liquor, and cigars at fundraisers, Sloat and his firm also illegally arranged for gifts including sports tickets for some lawmakers.

Colorado – Colorado Secretary of State’s Office Offers Opinion in Favor of Parties Forming Independent Expenditures

Denver Post – Kurtis Lee | Published: 2/6/2014

The Colorado Secretary of State’s office issued an opinion clearing the way for political parties to form independent expenditure committees and solicit unlimited funds. In the years since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which allows unlimited contributions for some groups, the Colorado Republican Party, which asked for the opinion, has felt weakened by the state’s campaign finance laws parties must adhere to.

Connecticut – Panel Warns About Fundraising from Contractors

Hartford Courant – John Lender | Published: 2/12/2014

Connecticut’s Elections Enforcement Commission adopted an unsolicited advisory opinion outlining when it is appropriate for a state campaign or candidate to receive money from a federal account, either directly or indirectly. Without accusing the Democratic Party of doing anything wrong, the agency that regulates elections sought to clarify questions raised by the news media and state contractors, who are banned from giving money directly to a party’s state account.

Florida – Florida’s Special Districts: Where lobbyists ride free and the public is in the dark

Miami Herald – Dan Christensen (Broward Bulldog) | Published: 2/7/2014

Lobbyist registration and disclosure has been mandatory for years in Tallahassee and in many city and county halls across Florida. Those who violate the law can be fined and barred from lobbying for up to two years. But the nearly 1,000 special-purpose governments across the state that raise and spend billions of dollars in public funds every year do not require lobbyists who appear before them to register, pay fees, or disclose any information about themselves or their clients.

Louisiana – Nagin Guilty of 20 Counts of Bribery and Fraud

New York Times – Campbell Robertson | Published: 2/12/2014

Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was convicted on 20 of 21 bribery and conspiracy charges, capping a broad federal investigation into public corruption in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Seven contractors and officials also have been convicted of, or have pleaded guilty to, trading city business for trips and payments. Nagin could receive a sentence of as many as 20 years in prison.

Massachusetts – House Ejects Carlos Henriquez for Assault Conviction

Boston Globe – Jim O’Sullivan and Michael Levenson | Published: 2/7/2014

The Massachusetts House expelled state Rep. Carlos Henriquez, who is serving a six-month jail sentence after being convicted of assaulting a former girlfriend. Henriquez said he was innocent of the charges and rejected calls for him to resign. House leaders insisted Henriquez’s confinement would prevent him from discharging the duties of his office. They urged colleagues to look at photos of the victim, which they said showed multiple black-and-blue marks on her chest, torso, and arms.

Minnesota – Board Firms Wall between Minn. Candidates, Groups

St. Paul Pioneer Press – Brian Bakst (Associated Press) | Published: 2/11/2014

The Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board issued an opinion that discourages candidates from helping independent political groups raise money that could eventually be routed back into their races. The board said such activity would likely violate laws meant to keep activities of candidates and independent expenditure committees separate.

New Jersey – Chris Christie’s Long Record of Pushing Boundaries, Sparking Controversy

Washington Post – Carol Morello and Carol Leonnig | Published: 2/10/2014

When Chris Christie became U.S. attorney for New Jersey, he took an oath to uphold public trust by prosecuting corruption and fraud in a state infamous for both, and to be above political influence or bias. But he held this powerful, apolitical post at a time when he was building a political future for himself, laying the groundwork for his campaign for governor. Christie’s bosses were concerned about the appearance of several deals he struck with corporations that agreed to change their ways if they were not charged in cases involving financial irregularities.

New York – City Hall’s New ‘In’ Crowd

Crain’s New York Business – Chris Bragg | Published: 2/10/2014

Political observers say lobbyists’ reputed closeness to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and other recently elected power brokers will determine who prospers in the influence industry. “Anytime a story is written saying a lobbyist is close to a politician, they raise their rates,” said Ken Fisher, a lobbyist at Cozen O’Connor and a former City Council member.

Virginia – House Approves Ethics Reform Bill, Sends it to Senate

Roanoke Times – Marcus Schmidt (Richmond Times-Dispatch) | Published: 2/11/2014

The Virginia Legislature moved forward with measures to overhaul the state’s ethics law. The House and Senate each passed almost identical reform bills by overwhelming margins. Both bills require lawmakers and public officials to disclose gifts to their immediate families, mandate gift disclosures twice rather than once a year, and cap tangible gifts from lobbyists at $250.

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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