News You Can Use Digest - January 24, 2014 - State and Federal Communications

January 24, 2014  •  

News You Can Use Digest – January 24, 2014







More Compliance Chiefs Get Direct Line to Boss

Wall Street Journal – Gregory Millman and Ben DiPietro | Published: 1/15/2014

Many companies have responded to more aggressive government enforcement efforts by touting their compliance programs and even raising the rank of their chief in-house watchdog. But two surveys found the compliance department’s status within a company is often ambiguous.

Top U.S. Corporations Funneled $185 Million to Political Nonprofits

The Center for Public Integrity – Michael Beckel | Published: 1/16/2014

Scores of large companies gave at least $185 million to politically active nonprofits in 2012, according to the Center for Public Integrity. Shadowy spending has targeted elections at all levels, from the White House to state party committees. The extent of financial involvement from major corporations has been unclear, as there has been only a scant paper trail to examine.


A Loophole Allows Lawmakers to Reel in Trips and Donations

New York Times – Eric Lipton | Published: 1/19/2014

A loophole in federal law allows members of Congress to hit hot spots like the Napa Valley wine country and famed golf courses, as well as five-star hotels in Puerto Rico, Las Vegas, and Florida, for campaign fundraisers. Campaigns and leadership PACs now pay the expenses for the catering and the lawmakers’ lodging at these events – so they are not gifts – with money collected from corporate executives and lobbyists, who are still indirectly footing the bill.

Super PAC, Outside Spending Chiefs Make Big Bucks

Roll Call – Eliza Newlin Carney | Published: 1/16/2014

New disclosures reveal details about the six- and seven-figure salaries reaped by the political consultants, lawyers, fundraisers, and media buyers who ran the top super PACs and politically active nonprofits in 2012. Such groups spent more than $1 billion in the first presidential contest since the U.S. Supreme Court deregulated independent campaign spending, shattering all previous records, and political professionals cashed in.

From the States and Municipalities:

California – Three Men Charged with Funneling Illegal Campaign Funds

Los Angeles Times – Tony Perry | Published: 1/22/2014

Hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions from a wealthy Mexican businessperson supported San Diego politicians, according to a federal complaint. A retired San Diego police officer, the owner of a Washington, D.C.-based election services business, and a lobbyist have been charged with conspiring to funnel more than $500,000 in illegal donations into recent campaigns.

Florida – Ex-Sweetwater Mayor Manuel Maroño Sentenced to 40 Months in Prison

Miami Herald – Jay Weaver | Published: 1/23/2014

Former Sweetwater Mayor Manny Maroño was sentenced three years and four months in prison for his part in a kickback scheme. Maroño and lobbyist Jorge Forte pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge that accused them of illegally splitting $60,000 for official favors and concealing those payments from the public. Both men agreed to promote a sham federal grant program for economic development that was peddled by FBI undercover agents who paid them bribes for their political support in Sweetwater.

Georgia – Ethics Commission Strips Personnel Decisions from Exec. Director

WSB – Sandra Parish | Published: 1/16/2014

Members of the Georgia ethics commission voted to give themselves the power to hire and fire employees, a duty that had been the executive director’s. In addition, the commission took no action concerning its attorney, Elisabeth Murray-Obertein, who is also a key witness in a pair of whistleblower lawsuits against the agency, after a police report said she was intoxicated at work.

Illinois – State Official Returned to Work after Nearly 30 Months of Paid Leave

Chicago Tribune – Jared Hopkins | Published: 1/21/2014

Joel Campuzano was on paid administrative leave for nearly 30 months while investigators in Illinois examined allegations he used his position to benefit himself and his family. During this time, he received seven salary increases. The state lost its fight to fire Campuzano, who returned to work in December and now makes $92,424. State Rep. Jack Franks said he supports the need for thorough investigations but agency directors should be limited in how often they can extend paid leave.

New Jersey – Political Pressure in Zimmer Allegation May Not Constitute a Crime, Legal Experts Say

Bergen Record – Herb Jackson | Published: 1/22/2014

Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer accused New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s administration of tying Superstorm Sandy aid to a politically connected development proposal. If Zimmer’s allegations are true, lawyers said the government will need to prove Christie or his administration received or expected to receive some kind of benefit in exchange for pressuring the mayor for a federal crime to have occurred. Attorneys disagreed on how clear-cut that benefit has to be, however.

Ohio – Should Politicians Have the Right to Lie? U.S. Supreme Court Could Decide in Ohio Case

Cleveland Plain Dealer – Sabrina Eaton | Published: 1/22/2014

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case challenging an Ohio law that bars candidates and issue groups from lying in their campaigns. The Susan B. Anthony List claims the state’s criminalization of false political speech violates First Amendment rights in a similar fashion to the Stolen Valor Act, which the Supreme Court overturned in 2012. The justices ruled the law that criminalized lying about receiving military honors or decorations violated constitutional free speech rights.

Pennsylvania – Judge Strikes down Pa. Voter ID; High Court Challenge Likely

Philadelphia Inquirer; Associated Press –   | Published: 1/17/2014

A Pennsylvania judge has found the state’s voter ID law unconstitutional. According to the ruling from Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard McGinley, the requirement to present an acceptable form of identification when voting in person “unreasonably burdens the right to vote.” Enforcement of the law has been blocked by court orders pending resolution of the constitutional challenge. Both sides had vowed to appeal an unfavorable decision to the state Supreme Court.

Virginia – Bob McDonnell and Wife Indicted in Gift Scandal

Washington Post – Rosalind Helderman, Carol Leonnig, and Sari Horwitz | Published: 1/21/2014

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, were indicted on 14 counts of fraud, conspiracy, and obstructing federal investigators, stemming from a gift-giving scandal. McDonnell and his wife have acknowledged taking gifts from businessperson Jonnie Williams, including catering fees for the wedding of the McDonnells’ daughter. In exchange, authorities allege they worked in concert to lend the prestige of the governorship to Williams’ struggling company, which sells dietary supplements.

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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