News You Can Use Digest - June 13, 2014 - State and Federal Communications

June 13, 2014  •  

News You Can Use Digest – June 13, 2014




What Corrupt States Spend Their Money On

Government Technology – Liz Farmer and Kevin Tidmarch (Governing Magazine) | Published: 6/6/2014

According to research published in Public Administration Review, states with higher levels of public corruption spend more money on highways and construction. The study found those projects and police programs provide the most opportunities for lawmakers to enrich themselves, and are positively correlated with state levels of corruption. Meanwhile, highly corrupt states also spend relatively less on health, education, and welfare, categories that were less susceptible to graft and bribery, found the report.


Four Years Later, FEC May Finally Update Its Books with Citizens United Ruling

National Journal – Shane Goldmacher | Published: 6/8/2014

Sources said a bipartisan coalition of FEC commissioners is finally moving to update its regulations in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling after years of stalemate. The proposed rules under consideration by commissioners are narrow in scope, mostly seeking to strip unconstitutional provisions from the books; the revisions would not include the stricter disclosure requirements that some Democrats have sought, said people involved in the matter. But the very fact the FEC is undertaking the effort at all is a significant development for an agency that has become synonymous with Washington gridlock and dysfunction.

From the States and Municipalities:

California – Calif. Senate Adopts New Ethics Standards, Rejects Others

Los Angeles Times – Patrick McGreevy | Published: 6/9/2014

The California Senate passed new rules that will create an ethics ombudsman, update the chamber’s code of conduct, and ban senators from collecting campaign checks during the last four weeks of the legislative session. But the Senate also shot down a bill that sought a broader campaign fundraising ban, and passed a watered-down ethics bill striking out an attempt to limit the value of travel that officials may take at the expense of interest groups who lobby them.

Colorado – Colorado Secretary of State Denies Citizens United’s Press Pass

Denver Post – Joey Bunch | Published: 6/5/2014

A request by conservative political group Citizens United to be treated as a media organization under Colorado election law was denied. The secretary of state’s office ruled an upcoming documentary featuring state politicians “is an electioneering communication” and does not fall under any of the exemptions to state laws requiring political groups to disclose financial donors when running ads that mention candidates within 60 days of an election.

Connecticut – Judge Rules for State’s Campaign Finance Law

Hartford Courant – Edmund Mahony | Published: 6/10/2014

A federal judge dismissed part of a Democratic Governors’ Association (DGA) lawsuit and denied the group’s bid for a preliminary injunction against Connecticut’s campaign finance laws that it said limit the ability of political groups to buy independent ads backing candidates. The DGA maintained that under laws adopted in 2013, the state unfairly treats independent money spent on ads and other political messages by the national group as contributions to particular candidates, and thus subject to donation limits.

Idaho – Ethics Proposal Would Stop Lobbyists from Lying to Lawmakers

Utah Policy – Brian Schott | Published: 6/10/2014

Idaho law prohibits lobbyists from intentionally giving false information to officials. The punishment is up to $100 fine and a one-year suspension of their lobbying license. But the law is basically unenforceable because it is nearly impossible to prove whether a lobbyist provided false information on purpose. State Sen. Daniel Thatcher wants to put more teeth into the statute.

Illinois – State Rep. Derrick Smith Found Guilty in Bribery Trial

Chicago Sun-Times – Kim Jansson | Published: 6/10/2014

A federal jury found Rep. Derrick Smith guilty of taking a $7,000 bribe to support a state grant for a day-care center. He was charged following an FBI undercover investigation that caught him talking about the payoff on tape. Smith was expelled by the Illinois House in 2012 after he was charged with taking the bribe. He won his seat back the same year, but lost the Democratic primary in March.

Maryland – City Chides Developer for Listing Campaign Contributions as Project Cost

Baltimore Sun – Luke Broadwater | Published: 6/11/2014

Baltimore officials approved a deal to sell a pier for the development of a luxury hotel after reprimanding a developer for trying to include campaign contributions to local politicians as part of the project’s costs. Recreation Pier Developers listed donations to city Councilperson James Kraft and state Del. Peter Hammen as part of the more than $3 million it has spent on the project. “The developers believe campaign contributions buys access and helps build a relationship …,” said Maryland Common Cause Director Jennifer Bevan-Dangel.

Maryland – Hershey v. Hershey: Chocolate company sues state senator over campaign signs

Baltimore Sun – Ian Duncan | Published: 6/9/2014

In a federal lawsuit, the Hershey Company asked a judge to stop Maryland Sen. Stephen Hershey, Jr. from using campaign materials that it believes are too similar to its own logo and packaging. The senator’s name, in block capital letters over a brown Maryland flag, looks strikingly similar to the wrapper of a certain confection, the chocolate maker says, an impermissible use of what it calls its “trade dress.”

Nevada – In Nevada, Nobody Wins (Sort-Of)

Politico – Steven Shepard | Published: 6/11/2014

More Democratic primary voters cast ballots for “None of these candidates” than for any actual candidates for governor in Nevada, a testament to a weak field looking to challenge popular Gov. Brian Sandoval and a unique state election law that allows voters the none-of-the-above option. “None” led the way with 30 percent of the vote. Finishing second was former state economic development director Robert Goodman, who won 25 percent of the vote.

North Carolina – N.C. Investigating Donations by Sweepstakes Industry

The Virginian-Pilot – Michael Biesecker (Associated Press) | Published: 6/11/2014

The State Bureau of Investigation is conducting a criminal probe into campaign contributions from the video sweepstakes industry to some of North Carolina’s top elected officials. The Associated Press reported last year that donations from gaming software magnate Chase Burns, who was pushing for legalization of his industry in North Carolina, may have violated state laws prohibiting corporate money from “directly or indirectly” funding political campaigns.

Pennsylvania – A Bad Bet: GOP Governors Assn. crossed state law with donation

Philadelphia Daily News – Chris Brennan | Published: 6/11/2014

The Republican Governors Association transferred nearly $1 million to its Pennsylvania PAC – the largest donor to Gov. Tom Corbett’s re-election bid – from casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a blunder that appears to breach the state’s gaming act. State law bars casino owners and executives from giving to candidates, political parties, or committees. Adelson chairs the Las Vegas Sands Corp., which owns a casino in Bethlehem.

South Carolina – South Carolina Senate Postpones Vote on Ethics Compromise after House Grudgingly Passes

Columbus Republic – Andrew Coffman Smith (Associated Press) | Published: 6/5/2014

The South Carolina General Assembly was on the cusp of passing its first attempt at ethics reform in 20 years when Sen. Lee Bright filibustered a vote on the bill. The House had passed the legislation but the Senate chose to wait until June 17 to consider the measure. The reform bill raises the annual lobbyist registration fee from $100 to $200, and super PACs would be required to disclose their top five donors and any donor who gives more than $10,000, among other provisions.

Virginia – Cantor Loss Throws Congress into Disarray

Washington Post – Paul Kane | Published: 6/10/2014

In one of the most stunning primary election upsets in congressional history, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was soundly defeated by a tea party-backed economics professor who had hammered him for being insufficiently conservative. The result delivered a major jolt to the Republican Party as Cantor had widely been considered the top candidate to succeed Speaker John Boehner, and it has the potential to change both the debate in Washington on immigration and, possibly, the midterm elections.

Virginia – GOP Has Claimed Control of Va. Senate, Forced Democrats to Cave over Medicaid Impasse

Washington Post – Laura Vozzella and Michael Laris | Published: 6/9/2014

The resignation of a Democratic senator in Virginia that flipped control of the chamber to Republicans set off charges of an unseemly deal and threatened Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s chances of expanding Medicaid under the president’s health care law. State Sen. Phillip Puckett’s sudden decision to step down from his seat may tip a stalemate in favor of Republicans opposed to expanding Medicaid to 400,000 poor and disabled residents. Democrats accused Republicans of masterminding Puckett’s resignation by promising him a plum job and speeding the appointment of his daughter to a state judgeship.

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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