News You Can Use Digest - July 22, 2016 - State and Federal Communications

July 22, 2016  •  

News You Can Use Digest – July 22, 2016



Accused of Sexual Harassment, Roger Ailes Is Negotiating Exit from Fox
New York Times – John Koblin and Jim Rutenberg | Published: 7/19/2016

The Murdoch family is moving to oust Roger Ailes, the chairperson of Fox News Channel, after multiple women have accused him of sexual harassment. Ailes and Fox News’s parent company are in the advanced stages of discussions that would lead to his departure, said Susan Estrich, one of Ailes’s lawyers. His exit would be a humbling and startlingly sudden fall from power for a man who started Fox News from scratch 20 years ago and built it into a top-rated cable news network. Along the way, Ailes, a former Republican operative, established Fox News as the leading media platform for conservative politics.


Behind Melania Trump’s Cribbed Lines, an Ex-Ballerina Who Loved Writing
New York Times – Jason Horowitz | Published: 7/20/2016

Meredith McIver, a speechwriter for Donald Trump’s private company, took the blame for apparent plagiarism in Melania Trump’s speech at the Republican National Convention. McIver, the co-author of several books with Donald Trump, said as she and Ms. Trump were preparing her speech, Ms. Trump mentioned she admired Michelle Obama and read to McIver parts of the first lady’s 2008 speech at the Democratic convention. McIver said she had inadvertently left portions of the Obama speech in the final draft.

Donald Trump May Break the Mold, but He Fits a Pattern, Too
New York Times – Alexander Burns | Published: 7/21/2016

Donald Trump’s candidacy has upended the Republican Party, baffling and then vanquishing opponents who dismissed him as a celebrity sideshow. Even now, many prefer to treat his success as a freak occurrence without precedent in U.S. history. But if Trump will be the first figure of his kind to claim a presidential nomination, his candidacy falls within an American tradition of insurgent politics that has found expression in other moments of social and economic rupture, often attaching itself to folk heroes from the world of big business or the military.

G.O.P.’s Moneyed Class Finds Its Place in New Trump World
New York Times – Nicholas Confessore | Published: 7/21/2016

Donald Trump has attacked lobbyists, disparaged big campaign donors, and railed against the party’s establishment. But at the Republican National Convention, beyond the glare of television cameras, the power of the permanent political class seemed virtually undisturbed. In Cleveland, even some of those who had worked against Trump’s candidacy now saw opportunity. In dozens of private receptions, they inspected their party’s new Trump faction with curiosity and hope. There were spheres of influence to carve out, money to raise and money to be made, whether or not Trump ended up in the White House. There were new friends to make and old relationships to nurture.

The Man Behind Citizens United Gears Up for Hillary Clinton Attacks
USA Today – Fredreka Schouten | Published: 7/20/2016

Political operative David Bossie, as much as any single person, is responsible for the nearly unrestricted flow of money pouring into the 2016 presidential campaign. He runs the conservative advocacy group Citizens United, and his attempt to distribute his anti-Hillary Clinton movie gave rise to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 blockbuster decision, which allowed corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts to influence elections. Bossie is the new leader of the Defeat Crooked Hillary PAC, which plans to merge cutting-edge technology and old-fashioned opposition research in a push to sink the Democrats’ presumptive presidential nominee. At the same time, Bossie is moving closer to the inner circle of the Republican Party.

Why We Don’t Know Who’s Funding the Republican Convention
Time – Haley Sweetland Edwards and Chris Wilson | Published: 7/17/2016

The Republican National Convention in Cleveland is the first time in four decades that a major political party’s nominating convention is underwritten nearly exclusively with private cash. The near total dependence on private money is the direct result of a series of recent federal rule changes. The new rules, which passed with little fanfare in 2014, allow individual donors to give ten times more to national parties they could in 2012. They also fail to close a loophole allowing corporations, lobbying firms, super PACs, and special interest groups, which are formally prohibited from giving to the parties’ conventions, to give unlimited amounts through special, nonprofit committees, which are not bound by normal disclosure rules. As a result, the public will not find out who the major corporate funders are to either the Republican or Democratic conventions until sometime in the fall.

From the States and Municipalities:

Colorado – Denver Campaign Finance Reform Proposal Pulled from Ballot
Denver Post – Claire Cleveland | Published: 7/18/2016

A proposed ballot initiative in Denver that would reign in big campaign contributions and set up a public financing system for city elections has been withdrawn by its backers. The measure was challenged by David Kenney, a political consultant and lobbyist. The challenge alleges the initiative is so wide-ranging that it violates a single-subject rule for ordinances and says the ballot title approved by the Denver Elections Division inadequately summarizes the measure and includes words intended to sway voters.

Kentucky – Corporations Can Now Make Political Donations in Kentucky
WFPL – Ryland Barton | Published: 7/18/2016

The Kentucky Registry of Election Finance agreed to the final judgment in a lawsuit challenging the unequal treatment of unions and corporations under the state’s campaign finance law. A judge struck down the law that allowed only unions, not corporations, to give money directly to state and local political candidates, and to also support candidates through union-funded PACs. Now, both corporations and unions will be allowed to donate to PACs, and neither will be allowed to make direct contributions to candidates. The new law will affect state and local candidates, not candidates for federal office.

Missouri – Who Made the Biggest Political Donation in Missouri History? Ask After the Election
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Kevin McDermott | Published: 7/19/2016

The super PAC SEALs for Truth gave the largest political contribution to an individual candidate in Missouri history when it donated $1.975 million to gubernatorial candidate Eric Greitens, who is a former Navy SEAL. The group received the $1.975 million between July 1 and July 18, when it gave the cash to Greitens. But it does not have to publicly reveal where that money originally came from until later in the year, well after the state’s August 2 primaries are over. Missouri election officials have said they have no way to restrict money donated from federal PACs to state candidates, as long as it is disclosed publicly.

New Jersey – David Samson, Ally of Christie, Admits to Bribery Over Airline Route
New York Times – Patrick McGeehan | Published: 7/14/2016

David Samson, the embattled former chairperson of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, pleaded guilty to using his clout to coerce one of the nation’s largest airlines to accommodate his desire for a regularly scheduled, non-stop flight to his South Carolina summer home. Samson, a well-connected lawyer and one-time New Jersey attorney general, pleaded guilty to one charge of bribery for accepting a benefit of more than $5,000 from United Airlines. At the same time, United – which was not criminally charged – agreed to pay a fine of $2.25 million and pledged to reform to its compliance program.

Ohio – In Cleveland’s Public Square, Rights Are Exercised. Loudly.
New York Times – Dan Barry | Published: 7/19/2016

While the Republican National Convention was being held at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, there was a parallel national conversation in a 10-acre downtown commons called Public Square, where people have colorfully debated one another since before Ohio was a state. The congregation in the square included protesters and counter-protesters, young capitalists and socialists, delegates away from home and locals without a home, a man with a pet iguana and a man with a semiautomatic rifle. “The Hyde Park of Cleveland,” said John Grabowski, a history professor at Case Western Reserve University and a Cleveland native. “[People] would come to vent. But they would also come to celebrate.”

Pennsylvania – Kathleen Kane’s Staff Gives Job Interview to Son of Key Prosecution Witness Against Her
Allentown Morning Call – Steve Esack | Published: 7/20/2016

Just three weeks before Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s criminal trial is scheduled to begin, her top aides interviewed the son of a key witness against her for a job in her office, raising questions about a conflict-of-interest and inappropriate influence.  Matthew Peifer was interviewed for a position in the Child Predator Unit, which is headed by Kane’s twin, Ellen Granahan. He is the son of David Peifer, a onetime Kane confidant and a top agent in the attorney general’s office who last year agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in exchange for immunity. Kane is facing charges for allegedly leaking secret grand jury information to the media and lying when asked about it under oath.

Rhode Island – Ethics Commission Adopts Moratorium on Complaints for 90 Days before General Election
Rhode Island Public Radio – Ian Donnis | Published: 7/19/2016

The Rhode Island Ethics Commission voted to adopt a moratorium on outside ethics complaints in the 90 days before a general election. The moratorium is intended to discourage politically motivated complaints, although the panel reserves the right to launch its own investigations, said commission attorney Jason Gramitt. Voters will decide this November if they want to restore the Ethics Commission’s conflict-of-interest oversight over the General Assembly.

Tennessee – The Culture That Allowed Durham to Thrive
The Tennessean – Dave Boucher and Joel Ebert | Published: 7/17/2016

Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell says nothing could have stopped state Rep. Jeremy Durham, who used his nearly five years in elected office to methodically harass or sexually take advantage of at least 22 women. “I don’t think anything could have avoided what happened; he violated our current policy and I think he would violate any policy,” Harwell said. Many lawmakers, staffers, and lobbyists knew about his predatory misbehavior for years but did not speak up to stop him, according to the findings of an attorney general’s investigation. The culture at the Capitol emphasizes deals between lawmakers, lobbyists, and staff over alcohol, late nights, and loyalty to a fault. It is also a culture where many female lobbyists, legislative staffers, and lawmakers expect to have to fend off sexual advances by some men at the statehouse.

Utah – Prosecutors Seek to Drop All Charges Against Ex-A.G. Shurtleff; Swallow Prosecution Proceeding
Salt Lake Tribune – Jennifer Dobner | Published: 7/18/2016

Prosecutors moved to drop “pay-to-play” charges against former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, a surprise retreat more than two years after state investigators arrested him and his successor, John Swallow, citing a pattern of favors and gifts traded with a cast of questionable businesspersons. Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings said in court documents that a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning the bribery conviction of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell narrowed what could be charged in influence-peddling cases.

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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