News You Can Use Digest - February 19, 2016 - State and Federal Communications

February 19, 2016  •  

News You Can Use Digest – February 19, 2016



Sanders Supporters Like Chipotle, While Trump Fans Prefer Sonic – Tim Higgins | Published: 2/18/2016

Consumer data have traditionally been used by campaigns to better understand where they should invest their ad dollars, or which potential voters and donors they should have volunteers call. Now, candidates are increasingly using the sentiment to figure out how to present themselves to voters. A survey by Resonate shows Bernie Sanders supporters are 82 percent more likely than the average American to eat at Chipotle, while Donald Trump fans are 111 percent more likely to grab a bite at Sonic. Marco Rubio’s backers are 141 percent more likely to have stayed at a Ritz-Carlton.

Snapchat Bets Big on Quick-Fire Approach to Campaign Coverage
New York Times – Nick Corasaniti | Published: 2/12/2016

Best known for photo and video messages that disappear soon after they are delivered, Snapchat is making a big bet by trying to break into the news business at a time when the industry is in turmoil. Developing a strategy for news coverage at a time when established newsrooms are struggling with the digital transition could be seen as a risky move, even for a booming technology company. But Snapchat has something that every other news organization is after: a loyal and active audience of more than 100 million users. Snapchat’s mission is to reinvent mobile storytelling through the most compelling and important story of the year – the presidential election – and it is already finding an audience, with more than one million viewers on every political story it has produced.

The Year of ‘Enormous Rage’: Number of hate groups rose by 14 percent in 2015
Washington Post – Niraj Chokshi | Published: 2/17/2016

For the first time in five years, the number of hate groups in the U.S. rose in 2015, according to a report from the Southern Poverty Law Center. Swelling numbers of Ku Klux Klan chapters and black separatist groups drove last year’s surge, though organizations classified as anti-gay, anti-immigrant, and anti-Muslim saw small increases, too. A creeping rhetoric of intolerance among politicians helped to normalize hate, the center argued. And while it singled out other presidential contenders, the center, which conservatives criticize for casting too wide a net, stated Donald Trump had “electrified the radical right.”


Battle over Scalia’s Replacement Already Spilling into Senate Races
Washington Post – Steven Mufson and Juliet Eilperin | Published: 2/15/2016

Advocacy groups are gearing up for a fierce political fight over President Obama’s pick to fill the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, and already the battle is spilling from the presidential campaign into some of the nation’s most hotly contested Senate races. Republicans have argued Obama should allow his successor to make the pick and they would block any attempt to confirm a new justice this year. One consideration that may force Republicans to recalibrate their strategy is the prospect of political damage to some of the embattled Senate incumbents up for re-election this fall. Democrats see a potential confirmation battle as an opportunity to put Republicans on the defensive and as a wedge issue that could help them retake control of the Senate.

Campaigns Secretly Prep for Brokered GOP Convention
Politico – Brett Schreckinger | Published: 2/15/2016

As Donald Trump and Ted Cruz divide up the first primaries and center-right candidates hammer one another in a race to be the mainstream alternative, Republicans are waging a shadow primary for control of delegates in anticipation of what one senior party official called “the white whale of politics”: a contested national convention. Should the first ballot fail to produce a nominee, the outcome of the convention will depend on results of the parallel primary now underway for the hearts and minds of delegates. Each state party has its own rules governing delegate selection, a process so steeped in nuance and legal ambiguity that there are multiple blogs dedicated to wading through it all.

DNC Rolls Back Restrictions on Lobbyist Donation
Washington Post – Tom Hamburger and Paul Kane | Published: 2/12/2016

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) has dismantled the last of its prohibitions on receiving contributions from lobbyists and PACs. The DNC opened the door to K Street donations earlier this summer, when it announced that lobbyists and corporate PACs would once again be allowed to contribute to the annual nominating conventions. With the DNC now accepting all lobbyist and PAC donations, it has reversed the policies that were adopted in 2008, when Barack Obama vowed to curb the influence of special interests in Washington.

Pope Francis Suggests Donald Trump Is ‘Not Christian’
New York Times – Jim Yardley | Published: 2/18/2016

Pope Francis suggested Donald Trump “is not Christian” because of the harshness of his campaign promises to deport more immigrants and force Mexico to pay for a wall along the border. Trump has also made inflammatory comments accusing Mexican immigrants of being rapists and criminals. Asked whether he would try to influence Catholics in how they vote in the presidential election, Francis said he “was not going to get involved in that” but then repeated his criticism of Trump, with a caveat. “I say only that this man is not Christian if he has said things like that,” Francis said.

From the States and Municipalities:

California – Coastal Chief’s Ouster Prompts Bill to Require Transparency between Lobbyists and Panel
Los Angeles Times – Dan Weikel and Tony Barboza | Published: 2/12/2016

Assembly members said they plan to introduce legislation to require people who lobby the California Coastal Commission to register with the state and disclose their clients with business pending before the land-use agency. Lawmakers contend the measure would close a loophole that exempts lobbyists on the commission level from reporting details of their activities to the public. They say their bill also would require lobbyists to report to the public the payments they receive from clients and how much they spend on lobbying for specific matters that come before the commission. Lawmakers said they are motivated by what they consider a lack of transparency surrounding the firing of commission Executive Director Charles Lester.

California – L.A. Ethics Commission OKs $47,000 in Fines for Lobbying Violations
Los Angeles Times – Emily Alpert Reyes | Published: 2/16/2016

The Los Angeles City Ethics Commission voted to fine two nonprofits more than $47,000 for failing to accurately report how much they had spent on lobbying. Both the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy and the Hospital Association of Southern California had registered employees with the city as lobbyists. Yet the two groups reported spending nothing on lobbying by those employees for years, even as they spoke up on a laundry list of issues at City Hall. The steeper fine imposed on LAANE – $30,000 for a dozen violations over three years – appears to be the highest for a lobbying violation that the Ethics Commission has ever imposed. The hospital group will pay $17,500.

Florida – Apopka’s Hired Lobbyist Not Registered to Lobby for City in 2014, 2015
Orlando Sentinel – Bethany Rodgers | Published: 2/11/2016

The city of Apopka paid $165,000 to Richard Anderson to lobby the state and federal governments on behalf of the city from late 2014 through 2015. But state records show there was no registered lobbyist for Apopka during that time period, either in Tallahassee or Washington, D.C. Anderson said he has not done any state or federal lobbying for Apopka because city officials never requested it. Dave Mica, chairperson of the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists, said Anderson is not a member of his organization and declined to comment on Apopka’s situation. Mica said there are industry standards for lobbyists. “It’s stated in our code of ethics that all members should diligently and vigorously advance the interests of their client and employer,” Mica said.

Massachusetts – FBI, IRS Raid Canton Law Office of State Senator Brian Joyce
Boston Globe – Milton Valencia, Astead Herndon, and Andrea Estes | Published: 2/17/2016

The FBI and IRS raided the law office of Massachusetts Sen. Brian Joyce. A person familiar with the investigation said the raid stemmed from recent stories in The Boston Globe detailing several ways in which Joyce allegedly used his position as a senator to benefit himself and his law practice. He is already under investigation by the state Ethics Commission and recently settled allegations of improper use of his campaign fund with Office of Campaign and Political Finance. Jerry Richman said he gave Joyce free dry cleaning for more than a decade starting in 1997. Richman, who owned Woodlawn Cleaners until 2008, said Joyce brought in $50 to $100 worth of dry cleaning almost weekly for years and did not pay.

Michigan – Lansing Power Brokers: Law firms, others strengthen their lobbying corps
Crain’s Detroit Business – Lindsay Vanhulle | Published: 2/7/2016

Lobbying is not just the work of traditional multi-client firms in state capitals. Some law firms with offices in Michigan are hiring more in-house lobbyists or forming other partnerships to handle meetings with legislators, prepare testimony for committee meetings, and build the relationships needed to help swing the pendulum in favor of their clients. The investment in lobbying is not without its critics, but nontraditional shifts in hiring, and consultants who serve as these behind-the-scenes dealmakers and educators, are a trend as clients seek to save money on litigation or influence policy decisions. Another motivation is to educate existing staff on legislative issues of the day.

New Mexico – Ethics Bill Appears Dead after Sponsor Ends Support
Albuquerque Journal – Dan Boyd | Published: 2/16/2016

The New Mexico Legislature abandoned efforts to establish a state ethics commission this year that would oversee the conduct of public officials, lobbyists, and contractors. A proposed constitutional amendment to create an independent ethics agency died in a Senate committee after requests were made to rein in the authority of the agency. The plan was an ambitious component of reforms proposed in response to a campaign finance scandal last year that led the resignation and jailing of former Secretary of State Dianna Duran. The House had voted in favor of creating the ethics commission.

Utah – Free Lunches Becoming More Rare for Utah Legislators
Salt Lake Tribune – Lee Davidson | Published: 2/15/2016

Utah lawmakers’ schedules these days generally include fewer free-meal events sponsored by special-interest groups than they used to. Many groups hoping to lobby the Legislature en masse seem to be shifting away from time-consuming lunches and dinners to receptions where legislators can drop in briefly. A likely reason is the Legislature changed its pay structure a few years ago to eliminate what had been a financial incentive to accept free meals. With that gone, many now tend to value quick events that do not consume too much of their time. But so many free breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snack breaks, receptions, and family events still exist that questions arise about whether they allow wealthy special interests to buy extra access and, perhaps, influence.

Washington – State: Food industry lobby engaged in ‘egregious’ money laundering in 2013 vote
Seattle Post-Intelligencer – Joel Connelly | Published: 2/17/2016

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson alleges the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) concealed the source of $11 million spent to fight a 2013 ballot initiative, and internal documents reveal how it was done. Ferguson is suing the GMA over a fund it set up to conceal food companies donating to the defeat of Initiative 522, which would have required labeling of all genetically engineered foods and seeds sold in Washington. Ferguson filed a suit against the GMA late in the campaign, after which the association agreed to register with the Public Disclosure Commission and provide information on donors, who turned out to be a “who’s who” of big food companies. The GMA decried what it called Washington’s “hopelessly vague disclosure law” and charged it “improperly burdens” the constitutional right of trade associations to participate in the state’s political process.

Jim SedorState and Federal Communications produces a weekly summary of national news, offering more than 60 articles per week focused on ethics, lobbying, and campaign finance.

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