News You Can Use Digest - June 19, 2020 - State and Federal Communications

June 19, 2020  •  

News You Can Use Digest – June 19, 2020


Appeals Judges Reluctant to Force Immediate End to Flynn Case
Politico – Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney | Published: 6/12/2020

A federal appeals court panel appears poised to reject, at least for now, Michael Flynn’s effort to force a judge to dismiss the criminal case against him. Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, is urging the courts to swiftly toss out his case after Attorney General William Barr moved to drop the prosecution. But the three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit expressed serious reservations about cutting short the typical process and forcing the trial judge assigned to Flynn’s case, Emmet Sullivan, to act before he has a chance to consider his options.

As Trump Warns of Leftist Violence, a Dangerous Threat Emerges from the Right-Wing Boogaloo Movement
MSN – Craig Timberg (Washington Post) | Published: 6/17/2020

A far-right extremist movement born on social media and fueled by anti-government rhetoric has emerged as a real-world threat in recent weeks, with federal authorities accusing some of its adherents of working to spark violence at largely peaceful protests roiling the nation. At a time when President Trump and other top U.S. officials have claimed, with little evidence, that leftist groups were fomenting violence, federal prosecutors have charged various supporters of a right-wing movement called the “boogaloo bois” with crimes related to plotting to firebomb a U.S. Forest Service facility, preparing to use explosives at a peaceful demonstration, and killing a security officer at a federal courthouse.

Bolton Says Trump Impeachment Inquiry Missed Other Troubling Episodes
MSN – Peter Baker (New York Times) | Published: 6/17/2020

John Bolton, the former national security adviser, says in his new book the U.S. House in its impeachment inquiry should have investigated President Trump not just for pressuring Ukraine but for a variety of instances when he sought to use trade negotiations and criminal investigations to further his political interests. While other books by journalists and lower-level former aides have revealed much about the Trump White House, Bolton’s volume is the first tell-all memoir by such a high-ranking official who participated in major foreign policy events and has a lifetime of conservative credentials. It is a portrait of a president ignorant of basic facts about the world, susceptible to transparent flattery by authoritarian leaders manipulating him, and prone to false statements, and snap decisions that aides try to manage or reverse.

Ethics Probe into Rep. Alcee Hastings Ends After Disclosure He Married Aide
Politico – John Bresnahan | Published: 6/12/2020

An investigation into whether U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings had an improper relationship with one of his aides was dropped after it was disclosed the Florida Democrat has been married to the staffer since January 2019. The House ethics committee also announced it was creating a special investigative subcommittee to investigate allegations Del. Michael San Nicolas of Guam had an improper sexual relationship with a congressional staffer, broke campaign finance laws, and lied to governments. San Nicolas’ former chief of staff has accused the delegate of having an affair with the woman in question and then hiring her in his congressional office.

Justice Department Seeks Emergency Order to Block Publication of Bolton’s Book
MSN – Tom Hamburger, Rosalind Helderman, Devlin Barrett, and Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 6/17/2020

The Justice Department sought an emergency order from a judge to block the publication of former national security adviser John Bolton’s forthcoming White House memoir, escalating a legal battle against him. The move came after the Trump administration filed a civil suit against Bolton, targeting the proceeds of the book and asking a court to order him to delay its scheduled June 23 release. Less than 24 hours later, The Wall Street Journal released an excerpt of the memoir, and lengthy accounts were published by other news organizations. The latest action sought to formally enjoin Bolton from allowing his book to be published, a legal strategy experts said was unlikely to succeed, particularly given the book has already been printed and shipped to warehouses and copies distributed to the media for review.

K Street Backrooms Morph Into ‘the Zoom Where It Happens’
Roll Call – Kate Ackley | Published: 6/15/2020

The upheaval of the coronavirus pandemic along with the wave of protests for racial justice and equality will leave a lasting imprint on the lobbying sector – on the strategies for influencing lawmakers and on the policy agenda. This moment also has expedited the long-running, but slow-to-change conversations about spurring diversity on K Street and in its pipeline for personnel, Capitol Hill. Some of the permanent transformations, like more Zoom conferences and fewer in-person meetings even after the pandemic ends, may appear minor adaptations. For an industry, like politics itself, built around face-to-face relationships with conversations sparked at high-dollar fundraising events, even some of the seemingly little shifts may galvanize a larger metamorphosis in the long run.

Members of Congress Took Small-Business Loans – and the Full Extent Is Unknown
Politico – Sarah Ferris, Melanie Zanona, and Zachary Warmbrodt | Published: 6/16/2020

A group of lawmakers acknowledged close ties to companies that received loans from the Paycheck Protection Program, businesses that are either run by their families or employ their spouse as a senior executive. There are almost certainly more, according to aides and lawmakers. But only the Small Business Administration (SBA) and Treasury Department have that information, and the Trump administration is refusing to provide any details. That leaves it entirely up to business owners, including elected officials, to decide whether to come forward about a loan, which can be as large as $10 million. The program is being dogged by growing transparency complaints, with Treasury and SBA refusing to disclose recipients.

New Generation of Activists, Deeply Skeptical of Democratic Party, Resists Calls to Channel Energy into the 2020 Campaign
MSN – Cleve Wootson Jr. (Washington Post) | Published: 6/14/2020

George Floyd’s killing ignited protests in more than 750 U.S. cities, with participants of all races in every corner of the country. The uprising is also a potential boon for Democrats, inspiring thousands of new grassroots organizers just as the party seeks to mobilize young voters and other core liberals to defeat President Trump and retake the U.S. Senate. Many of the country’s top Democrats have exhorted the activists to channel their energy toward the election. But the Democrats have so far failed to tap into the newly emerging protest movement, even turning off some activists who see early outreach efforts as hollow gestures. Many said they remain skeptical of the political system and the Democratic Party, which they said has a history of promising change and falling short.

Now You Can Opt Out of Seeing Political Ads on Facebook
New York Times – Mike Isaac | Published: 6/16/2020

Facebook said it would allow people in the U.S. to opt out of seeing social issue, electoral, or political ads from candidates or PACs in their Facebook or Instagram feeds. The ability to hide those ads will begin with a small group of users, before rolling out to the rest of the United States and later to several other countries. The move allows Facebook to play both sides of a complicated debate about the role of political advertising on social media ahead of the November election. With the change, Facebook can continue allowing political ads to flow across its network, while also finding a way to reduce the reach of those ads and to offer a concession to critics who have said the company should do more to moderate noxious speech on its platform.

Police Unions Face Lobbying Fights at All Levels of Government
The Hill – Alex Gangitano | Published: 6/12/2020

Police unions are gearing up for their biggest lobbying fights in years as lawmakers at all levels of government push to reform law enforcement practices and protections. In Congress, the brewing battle comes as House Democrats have introduced sweeping legislation to overhaul aspects of the criminal justice system, with Senate Republicans expected to unveil their proposal soon. The National Fraternal Order of Police, the country’s largest police group that represents over 330,000 officers, is expected to play a major role. Police unions also have to prepare for fights outside the Beltway.

QAnon Marches Toward the Halls of Congress
Politico – Tina Nguyen | Published: 6/15/2020

QAnon adherents are now filtering into electoral politics. According to Media Matters, there are 51 candidates running for Congress who have promoted the messages of “Q” – a mysterious internet figure who drops digital “crumbs” about a secret war President Trump is waging against a cabal of pedophile political elites in Washington, D.C. Seven of them emerged recently in congressional Republican primaries. One, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, is favored to eventually end up in Congress. Trump invited one of Qanon’s top promoters to pose with him in the Oval Office, and retweeting over 130 tweets that directly reference QAnon-related claims. Now the president is seeing a tangible political benefit from the relationship, the GOP candidates who reference QAnon are also those who cling most closely to Trump.

Senate Aides Say There’s Work to Be Done on Staffer Diversity, After Tim Scott Airs Criticism
Roll Call – Katherine Tully-McManus and Kathryn Lyons | Published: 6/11/2020

Sen. Tim Scott called out the lack of racial diversity among staff in certain U.S. Senate offices, which highlighted how little data is available on staffer demographics. It also got staff and senators talking about how to tackle the problem. Although there are varying opinions on how to boost diversity, many agree that a major problem is a lack of data on diversity of race, gender, and socioeconomic backgrounds among staff. Scott, the only black Republican in the chamber, said he would like the Senate to conduct a study of staff member demographics and pay.

Senate Ethics Panel Dismisses Insider-Trading Inquiry into Sen. Loeffler
Washington Post – Colby Itkowitz | Published: 6/16/2020

The Senate Ethics Committee dismissed its investigation into U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler for alleged insider trading ahead of the coronavirus pandemic, notifying her it found “no evidence” she violated the law or chamber rules. The panel’s decision follows the Justice Department, which closed its probe of Loeffler’s stock sales before the pandemic crashed the markets. The Justice Department dismissed similar probes into U.S. Sens. James Inhofe and Dianne Feinstein but is still looking into U.S. Sen. Richard Burr for alleged insider trading.

‘Sharpiegate’ Controversy Laid to Uneasy Rest
Courthouse News Service – Tim Ryan | Published: 6/16/2020

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Administrator Neil Jacobs violated the agency’s ethics policy when he contradicted and silenced a local National Weather Service office about a hurricane’s path. President Trump wrote on Twitter that Hurricane Dorian would hit Alabama “harder than anticipated.” A few minutes later, the National Weather Service office in Birmingham posted on Twitter: “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from Dorian.” Days later, Jacobs’ office issued an unsigned statement calling the Birmingham office’s posting “inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time.” That statement turned out to be the result of pressure from the White House on Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who threatened to fire the political staff at the agency unless the contradiction of Trump was addressed.

The Rising Trump Lawyer Battling to Reshape the Electorate
New York Times – Danny Hakim and Stephanie Saul | Published: 6/15/2020

In 2013, a lawyer named William Consovoy appeared on a Brookings Institution panel to discuss his leading role in a recently decided voting-rights case. Days earlier, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled certain states, particularly in the South, would no longer need Justice Department approval before redrawing districts, moving polling places or making other electoral changes. Consovoy’s work on voting cases across the country is drawing increased attention in this presidential election year roiled by pandemic and protest. In recent weeks, his firm, Consovoy McCarthy, has fought against extending the deadline for mail-in voting in Wisconsin, sought to thwart felons from being re-enfranchised in Florida, and sued to block California’s plan to send absentee ballots to all registered voters.

Trump Health Official’s Approach to Contracts Faces Scrutiny
Roll Call – Emily Kopp | Published: 6/10/2020

A company that won a $628 million contract from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is one that Robert Kadlec, the official who leads the agency’s pandemic response, knows well. Kadlec, the assistant secretary for preparedness and response, served as a consultant to Emergent Biosolutions until 2015. Since Kadlec’s 2017 confirmation, the company has received more than $1.2 billion from the division Kadlec oversees, including a part of HHS known as the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). The contract raises questions because a complaint by former BARDA Director Rick Bright alleges Kadlec and other officials may have broken the law by awarding lucrative contracts to former business acquaintances and friends.

Trump Rally Attendees Must Agree Not to Sue Campaign Over Potential Coronavirus Exposure
Politico – Caitlin Oprysko | Published: 6/11/2020

Supporters of President Trump will soon be able to attend one of his signature, raucous campaign rallies again after a months-long hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic, but first, they must agree not to sue the campaign if they contract the virus after the event. The Trump campaign sent out registration information for the president’s first rally since March, with the campaign’s chief operating officer, Michael Glassner, proclaiming there is “no better place” to restart rallies than Tulsa, Oklahoma. But the fine print on the registration page for the event that has been rescheduled for June 20 underscores the continued health risks associated with reviving the “Make America Great Again” rallies, which pack thousands of supporters into arenas for hours at a time.


Canada Canada’s Ethics Czar Investigates Former Canadian Envoy to Washington Over His Work for Palantir
Politico – Abby Blatchford | Published: 6/13/2020

Canada’s ethics watchdog is investigating David MacNaughton, Ottawa’s former envoy to the U.S., to determine if he broke conflict-of-interest laws after taking a senior role last year with the data analytics firm Palantir. Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion says he launched a probe into MacNaughton’s interactions with senior government officials since he became president of Palantir’s Canadian branch. MacNaughton, who has close ties to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, took the job shortly after leaving the ambassador’s post. Dion said he will explore whether MacNaughton violated a rule that prohibits him from “taking improper advantage” of his previous public office and another forbidding him from making representations to anyone with whom he had “direct and significant official dealings” during his last year in public office.

Canada Lobbying Watchdog Seeks Budget Hike Amid Pandemic-Induced Surge in Lobbying
Yahoo Finance – Canadian Press | Published: 6/11/2020

The federal lobbying watchdog is asking for a budget increase to enable her office to modernize the way it registers lobbyists and keeps track of their activities in Canada, just as it is seeing a surge in lobbying sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic. Lobbying commissioner Nancy Belanger says 441 lobbyists have registered with her office to make their case to the federal government on matters related to the pandemic. Belanger’s request for a budget hike is not directly related to the pandemic-induced increase in lobbying. She said she put in the request before COVID-19 began wreaking havoc on the global economy.

From the States and Municipalities

Alabama Judge Rules Birmingham Airport Authority Employees Not Under Ethics Law – Mike Cason | Published: 6/15/2020

Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Brooke Reid agreed with lawyers for the Birmingham Airport Authority, who argued airport employees are not public employees because they are not paid from taxpayer funds. Their salaries come from fees that airlines, car rental companies, and other vendors pay to use the airport. The ruling rejected an advisory opinion from the Alabama Ethics Commission. The ethics law is intended to prevent public officials and public employees from using their public positions for personal gain and to require them to disclose conflicts of interest. Airport Authority attorney Mark White said it was not meant to cover employees for public corporations like the authority.

Alaska Alaska Supreme Court Approves Election-Reform Ballot Measure
Anchorage Daily News – James Brooks | Published: 6/13/2020

In November, Alaskans will decide whether to impose ranked-choice voting, nonpartisan primary elections, and tough new rules on campaign finance disclosure. The Alaska Supreme Court upheld a lower-court decision and confirmed the legality of a proposed multipart ballot measure including all three topics. The state had argued the measure violated a constitutional requirement that ballot measures be limited to one subject.

Arizona Arizona Asks Appeals Court to Block Laws That Regulate Campaign Finance
KAWC – Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services) | Published: 6/10/2020

An attorney for the state asked the Court of Appeals to block the Citizens Clean Elections Commission from enforcing certain laws that regulate how much candidates and others in Arizona can spend on campaigns and what the public must be told about it. Tim Berg said the Legislature was within its power in crafting exceptions to campaign finance laws. He said the changes were not directly part of the Clean Elections Act which voters enacted. But commission attorney Joseph Roth said the changes violated the Voter Protection Act, which bars legislators from tinkering with what voters enacted because it effectively nullified what voters approved because of the way lawmakers crafted the proposal. He said that unconstitutionally undermined the intent of the law which was designed to reduce the influence of money on politics.

Arizona House Committee Report Says Globe Lawmaker Had Romantic Relationship with Lobbyist
Arizona Daily Star – Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services) | Published: 6/12/2020

A report by the Arizona House Ethics Committee accuses state Rep. David Cook of having an undisclosed relationship with a lobbyist, one that the investigators said was romantic. The report prepared by outside lawyers hired to investigate Cook also says he called Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb about plans to seize property in which the lobbyist, AnnaMarie Knorr, had an interest and Lamb subsequently called off the sale. It also says there is evidence of Cook’s “use of alcohol while conducting official business, including a meeting at the governor’s office.”

California Public Health Funds Are Needed More Than Ever but Lack ‘Lobbying Muscle’ in California
Los Angeles Times – Angela Hart (California Healthline) | Published: 6/15/2020

California Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state Legislature are expected to reject a plea from local public health officials for an additional $150 million a year to battle the COVID-19 pandemic and protect against future threats. Public health officials vow to continue making their case. Persuading lawmakers to increase spending in a time of cuts will be difficult because public health does not carry the same political clout in the Capitol as power players such as hospitals, doctors, or public employee unions, which plow millions of dollars into lobbying each year. “I’ve not met anybody who is a lobbyist for public health,” said Assemblyperson Jim Wood, who chairs the Assembly Health Committee.

Colorado Ethics Panel Fines Former Colorado Gov. Hickenlooper $2,750
AP News – Staff | Published: 6/13/2020

The Colorado Independent Ethics Commission fined U.S. Senate candidate John Hickenlooper $2,750 for ethics violations he committed as governor that included accepting a private jet flight to an official event and receiving benefits he did not pay for at a meeting of government, business, and financial leaders in Italy. Hickenlooper insisted his intent was to promote Colorado’s economy as governor. But he acknowledged that on several occasions he did not seek an opinion from the commission on individual gifts. He also acknowledged he did not get formal training on the state’s ethics law.

Connecticut Family Investments, Coronavirus Pandemic Put Gov. Ned Lamont on Ethical Tightrope
Hartford Courant – Edmund Mahoney | Published: 6/14/2020

As the first Connecticut governor married to a venture capitalist with a $1.9 billion portfolio, Ned Lamont anticipated conflict between his decisions about where to spend the state’s billions and his wife’s about where to invest hers. Ann Lamont is a successful financier – one whose business has its investments divided between the health care industry during a viral pandemic and financial technology while married to a governor pledging to drag the state government into the digital age. The torrent of state money poured into coronavirus mitigation has produced at least one convergence of state and family money, much as Gov. Lamont anticipated. But it also shows the Lamonts expected such an eventuality and, early in the new administration, drafted an ethics plan they believe insulates them from a variety of personal and state business decisions that could otherwise create an appearance of self-dealing.

Florida Could Potential for Conflicts Influence Review of Miami’s Powerful Zoning Code?
Miami Herald – Andres Viglucci | Published: 6/15/2020

Should three prominent Miami developers’ attorneys be permitted to participate in a new task force that is revising the city’ Miami 21 zoning code? That is the question that kept the three lawyers specializing in land use from joining eight other experts at the task force’s inaugural meeting. All three attorneys are registered to act as lobbyists for dozens of developers seeking waivers and city zoning and development approvals under Miami 21, including some proposing controversial projects.

Iowa Kim Reynolds Confirms She Will Sign Felon Voting Rights Executive Order
Des Moines Register – Stephen Miller-Gruber and Ian Richardson | Published: 6/16/2020

Gov. Kim Reynolds said she will sign an executive order restoring voting rights to people with past felony convictions, a move that will address Iowa’s status as the last state in the country with a lifetime ban on felon voting. More than 60,000 Iowans, including nearly one in ten African American adults, are barred from voting in the state due to a prior felony conviction. Reynolds has pushed the Legislature to approve an amendment to the state constitution to make the process of regaining voting rights automatic once felons have completed their sentences. But Republicans in the Iowa Senate killed the proposal each year. The Legislature this year without the Senate voting on the measure.

Maine Would-Be Clean Elections Candidates Find It Harder to Qualify During Pandemic
Portland Press Herald – Scott Thistle | Published: 6/17/2020

Officials at the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Campaign Finance said fewer candidates who wanted to participate in the state’s clean elections program were able to qualify. To qualify, candidates must collect qualifying five-dollar contributions from at least 60 registered voters in their district. Two candidates said physical distancing due to the coronavirus pandemic made it far more difficult to collect the qualifying funds. “The law is designed for legislative candidates to meet their neighbors in their districts and ask for … contributions documented with a signature on a form,” Commission Executive Director Jonathan Wayne said. “That was much harder because candidates could not go door-to-door, as they had in years past.”

Maryland Payments by Auto Insurer for Former Baltimore Mayor Pugh Were Illegal, State Review Finds
Baltimore Sun – Meredith Cohn | Published: 6/17/2020

Payments made by Maryland’s quasi-governmental auto insurer to then-Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh for her Healthy Holly children’s books violated state law, according to a letter that state regulators sent to the Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund. The ruling by the Maryland Insurance Administration (MIA) is likely among the last of the outstanding reviews into the book deals that led to Pugh’s resignation and guilty plea for a fraud scheme that brought her hundreds of thousands of dollars. The MIA had said it was investigating at least three insurers that acknowledged making payments for the books, but officials deferred action until other law enforcement agency investigations were complete.

Nebraska Nebraska Democrats Renounce Their Senate Pick Over Comments
AP News – Grant Schulte | Published: 6/17/2020

The Nebraska Democratic Party called on its U.S. Senate nominee to drop out of the race after he made graphic sexual comments about a campaign staff member in a group text with her and other staffers. The party said its state executive committee voted unanimously to withdraw all of its resources from Chris Janicek’s campaign. Janicek tried walk back those comments as “a joke,” and texted an apology to the group. The female staffer texted back that she was appalled by his comments and could no longer support his campaign.

New Jersey Candidates Would Not Be Able to Use Campaign Cash to Settle Sexual Harassment Claims Under Bill
Newark Star Ledger – Samantha Marcus (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 6/15/2020

Legislation passed by the New Jersey Senate would bar candidates for public office from using campaign money to settle allegations of sexual assault and sexual harassment and bar the state from entering into non-disclosure agreements. #MeToo movement advocates say these nondisclosure agreements have kept workplace disputes under wraps and mask the pervasiveness of the sexual harassment problem in the workplace.

North Dakota Judge Nixes North Dakota Group’s Call for Online Signatures
AP News – Staff | Published: 6/16/2020

A federal judge said he will not waive North Dakota’s ban on electronic signature gathering for a group attempting to get a wide-ranging measure on the November ballot. North Dakota Voters First asked to allow online signature gathering because of the coronavirus pandemic. U.S. District Court Judge Peter Welte said the group was not likely to succeed on a First Amendment rights violation because petitioners have up to a year to collect signatures. The judge added that the state did not issue any stay-at-home orders and Gov. Doug Burgum on May 1 “revoked nearly all the previously imposed pandemic-related restrictions.”

Ohio Ex-Cuyahoga County Jail Director Lied to Investigators to ‘Protect Armond Budish and Those in His Inner Circle,’ Prosecutors Say
Cleveland Plain Dealer – Cory Shaffer | Published: 6/15/2020

The indicted former director of the Cuyahoga County Jail lied to criminal investigators in 2018 to protect County Executive Armond Budish and his cabinet from scrutiny over a failed attempt to privatize healthcare delivery in the county’s lock-up, prosecutors said. The court filing did not include copies of all of the evidence that prosecutors referenced in it, but it marks the most extensive disclosure yet of the case investigators have built against the man Budish tapped in 2015 to run the county’s jail complex and oversee a plan for the county to house prisoners from the city of Cleveland and surrounding suburbs despite having no experience in corrections.

South Carolina Special Prosecutor Pascoe Under Fire, and Firing Back, in SC Supreme Court
The State – John Monk | Published: 6/11/2020

At a recent hearing, South Carolina Supreme Court justices peppered special prosecutor David Pascoe and opposing attorney Bobby Stepp with questions about whether Pascoe’s conviction of a former lawmaker on public corruption charges should be overturned. State Rep. Jim Harrison’s guilt or innocence was not argued. The jury that convicted him heard overwhelming evidence that showed Harrison illegally taken nearly $900,000 from the influential consulting firm of Richard Quinn and Associates. What was in dispute was whether Pascoe had exceeded his lawful authority as a special prosecutor appointed by Attorney General Alan Wilson to investigate potential targets named in a confidential section of a State Law Enforcement Division report on allegations of financial wrongdoing in the General Assembly.

Tennessee Audits: Glen Casada failed to report contributions, keep expense receipt
The Tennessean – Joel Ebert | Published: 6/10/2020

Former Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada failed to accurately report $26,000 in campaign contributions and expenditures and lacked receipts for $104,000 in expenses during a nearly 18-month period, making it difficult to determine their legitimacy, according to a pair of audits. Casada also accepted money during a period when lawmakers are banned from receiving contributions. The Registry of Election Finance indicated it planned to levy just $10,500 in penalties and show significant leniency to Casada, who vowed to maintain better campaign records.

Tennessee State Election Finance Committee Grants Rep. Staples ‘Grace’ in Campaign Spending Complaint
The Tennessean – Tyler Whetstone | Published: 6/11/2020

Tennessee Rep. Rick Staples’ plea earlier this year for “grace and mercy” from state regulators is closer to being granted and forgiveness is likely on the way. Staples opened his portion of the meeting with the state Registry of Election Finance by admitting he had some $11,000 in unallowable campaign expenditures. He asked for the opportunity to pay them back. The panel, in return, praised Staples’ openness and opted to defer a ruling until July. These conversations followed a number of reports in recent months that uncovered more than $10,000 in questionable campaign spending.

Texas Texas Democrats Ask U.S. Supreme Court to Weigh in on Voting by Mail
Texas Tribune – Alexa Ura | Published: 6/16/2020

After a series of losses in state and federal courts, Texas Democrats are looking to the U.S. Supreme Court to expand voting by mail during the coronavirus pandemic. The Texas Democratic Party asked the high court to immediately lift the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ block on a ruling that would allow all Texas voters who are seeking to avoid becoming infected at in-person polling places to instead vote by mail. Under existing law, mail-in ballots are available only if voters are 65 or older, cite a disability or illness, will be out of the county during the election period, or are confined in jail.

Virginia Rep. Riggleman Ousted in Virginia GOP Convention After Presiding Over Same-Sex Marriage
Beaumont Enterprise – Jenna Portnoy (Washington Post) | Published: 6/14/2020

U.S. Rep. Denver Riggleman, who drew criticism from within his party for presiding over a same-sex wedding, lost the GOP nomination to challenger Bob Good, a former Liberty University fundraiser who describes himself as a “biblical conservative.” The defeat of Riggleman puts the Virginia seat potentially within reach for Democrats in the general election for the first time in more than a decade, analysts say.

Washington Ethics Complaint Dismissed Against Kennewick Mayor. Should Ethics Code Cover Personal Life?
The Tri-City Herald – Annette Cary | Published: 6/15/2020

The ethics officer for the city of Kennewick, Washington, reversed his finding that there should be a hearing to consider evidence that Mayor Don Britain may have violated the city’s ethics code. Attorney Thomas Atwood, who serves as the ethics officer on an as-needed basis, was convinced to change his recommendation based on the mayor’s argument the ethics policy for city council members should only apply to conduct directly related to city activities or council business. Atwood said an exception could be made to consider personal conduct if there were egregious behavior outside of city business, such as a felony conviction or conviction of a crime of moral turpitude, neither of which applies to Britain’s case, Atwood wrote in his decision.

Washington Tim Eyman’s Lawyer Says Anti-Tax Activist Is Victim of ‘Judicial Lynching’
Seattle Times – David Gutman | Published: 6/12/2020

Tim Eyman’s lawyer said the gubernatorial candidate and longtime anti-tax activist is the victim of a “judicial lynching.” It is the latest incident in recent weeks in which Eyman, or his team, has used inflammatory language to compare himself to victims of racism. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, in a case that has dragged on for years, has charged Eyman with violating campaign finance law to enrich himself, laundering political donations and accepting kickbacks. Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon ruled Eyman has been in violation of campaign finance laws for at least the last seven years, concealing nearly $800,000 in political contributions. Ferguson asked Dixon to impose unspecified sanctions on Sanders, accusing him of filing a “repetitive, unfounded, misleading, and offensive” brief.

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