July 12, 2013 •
News You Can Use Digest – July 12, 2013
Rothberg Political Report – Nathan Gonzalez | Published: 7/11/2013
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee asked the FEC to grant same-sex couples and candidates the same rights as married opposite-sex couples in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act. One expert said the agency is not likely to pass its own regulation on spouses. “The FEC is likely to conclude that it’s governed by state law, [and] then you will have different fundraising rules for different states,” said former FEC Chairperson Michael Toner.
U.S. News & World Report – Allie Bidwell | Published: 7/10/2013
According to a new survey by corruption watchdog Transparency International, more than a quarter of people worldwide paid a bribe when dealing with public services in the past 12 months. In the U.S., 60 percent of people said corruption has increased over the last two years, while only 10 percent said it has decreased by any amount. Overall, many countries found people do not trust the institutions they typically rely on to combat crime and corruption.
Politico – Byron Tau | Published: 7/7/2013
Disclosure on federal intelligence and procurement matters is opaque and confusing, stemming from loopholes in the nation’s lobbying transparency laws. Critics say the current rules are outdated and riddled with exemptions, and in need of revision.
Lancaster Eagle-Gazette – Deidre Shesgren | Published: 7/10/2013
The IRS’s acting chief, Danny Werfel, unveiled a new process as one part of the agency’s effort to address the scandal in which agents used inappropriate criteria to flag some tax-exempt applications for extra scrutiny. Werfel said any group that has been waiting for tax-exempt status for more than 120 days will be able to self-certify. Those who are eligible will have to swear at least 60 percent of their organization’s resources will be devoted to a “social welfare” purpose and they will not spend more than 40 percent of their time or money on political activities.
Boston Globe – Christoher Rowland | Published: 7/7/2013
The impression of weakness at the FEC has escalated in recent years as Republicans commissioners united in the belief that the agency had been guilty of overreach and have moved to soften enforcement, block new rules, and limit oversight. According to critics, the FEC has been rendered toothless.
From the States and Municipalities:
Los Angeles Times – Patrick McGreevy | Published: 7/5/2013
Erin Peth was selected to be the new executive director of the California Fair Political Practices Commission. Peth will step down from her post as deputy legal affairs secretary in Gov. Jerry Brown’s office, which she has held since 2011. Before that, she served as deputy attorney general while Brown was the state attorney general.
AccessNorthGa.com – Ray Henry (Associated Press) | Published: 7/10/2013
State Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner Ralph Hudgens and two of his staff members accepted meals and a round of golf from Gould Hagler, executive director of the Independent Insurance Agents of Georgia. After being questioned about the spending, Hudgens said his staff will pay for their own entertainment at future events and begin following a new law limiting lobbyist spending before it legally takes effect in January.
Morning Sentinel – Naomi Schalit and John Christie (Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting) | Published: 7/9/2013
A grade of “F” in a national report that measured the states’ levels of accountability and transparency in government spurred Maine lawmakers to enact reforms. The bills signed by Gov. Paul LePage include stricter reporting requirements for statements of economic interests filed by legislators and slowing the “revolving door” at the Capitol.
Lincoln Journal-Star – JoAnne Young | Published: 7/7/2013
Some in Nebraska are asking if lobbyists exert too much influence on the legislative process. They contend that outside of committee hearing – where the public can see what is happening – lobbyists are able to advance their clients’ interests behind closed doors.
Seattle Post-Intelligencer – Michael Virtanen (Associated Press) | Published: 7/8/2013
Some have questioned whether the commission appointed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will meet its mandate to root out corruption in the state. David Grandeau, the former director of New York’s defunct lobbying commission, does not believe this new temporary group will be any more effective than the Commission on Public Integrity and its successor, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics. Grandeau compared the panels to the Peanuts character Charlie Brown – always having the football pulled away at the last minute.
New York Times – Michael Barbarao and David Chen | Published: 7/7/2013
Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who stepped down in 2008 over a prostitution scandal, will enter the race for run for New York City comptroller. He said he believed New Yorkers would be open to his candidacy. “I’m hopeful there will be forgiveness, I am asking for it,” said Spitzer.
North Carolina – Arrests Mount as NC Legislative Session Nears End
Charlotte Observer – Michael Biesecker (Associated Press) | Published: 7/7/2013
Observers say some of the 700 people charged with the misdemeanors while protesting at the North Carolina General Assembly were exercising their First Amendment rights, behaving no differently than protesters from past years who were not arrested. That has raised concerns about whether Republican leaders who took control of the Legislature in 2010 are directing more aggressive enforcement against citizens who disagree with their agenda.
Pennsylvania – Pittsburgh Mayor’s Profile Wanes with Feds’ Probe
Minneapolis Star Tribune – Joe Mandak (Associated Press) | Published: 7/7/2013
Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has gone from appearing on “Late Night with David Letterman” to facing a grand jury investigation. His staff members have testified about whether Ravenstahl sanctioned a slush fund that led to the police chief’s resignation and indictment, and whether the mayor instructed bodyguards to alter their time cards.
San Francisco Chronicle – Erik Schelzig (Associated Press) | Published: 7/7/2013
An FBI investigation of alleged fraud by the sales staff at Pilot Flying J, the truck stop chain owned by the family of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, has shined a spotlight on the governor’s pledge to keep his distance from company business. Opponents attacked Haslam for refusing to disclose his personal ownership stake, among other criticisms, in the 2010 Republican primary and general election.
Washington Post – Rosalind Helderman | Published: 7/10/2013
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is facing new allegations he failed to report donations made to him and other family members. Jonnie Williams, Sr., a businessperson and prominent political donor, gave $70,000 to a corporation owned by McDonnell and his sister last year. The payments to the corporation offer the first public example of money provided by Williams that would directly benefit McDonnell and not just his family.
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