News You Can Use Digest – March 14, 2014 - State and Federal Communications

March 14, 2014  •  

News You Can Use Digest – March 14, 2014







Activist Lawyer Aims to Drop Campaign Restrictions

USA Today – Fredreka Schouten | Published: 3/10/2014

Dan Backer is on a campaign finance crusade. Many of the lawyer’s far-fetched proposals have been rejected by federal regulators. But the conservative Republican could be on the brink of making election history – and his reputation – with a case the U.S. Supreme Court is deliberating. McCutcheon v. the Federal Election Commission seeks to eliminate the ceiling on what wealthy individuals can donate to federal candidates, parties, and PACs in a two-year election cycle.

Wanted by Ecuador, 2 Brothers Make Mark in U.S. Campaigns

New York Times – Frances Robles | Published: 3/11/2014

Roberto and William Isaias, who are fugitives from Ecuador now living in the U.S., have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from relatives for President Barack Obama and more than a dozen members of Congress. While the contributions were not illegal, campaign finance experts say they have opened the already politicized nature of extradition requests to greater scrutiny and raised questions about the access to power the donations provide.

From the States and Municipalities:

Arkansas – Federal Jury Convicts Former Arkansas Treasurer

ABC News – Chuck Bartels (Associated Press) | Published: 3/11/2014

A jury found former Arkansas Treasurer Martha Shoffner guilty on 14 counts of bribery and extortion. Prosecutors said during the federal trial that Shoffner received money from broker Steele Stephens and in exchange, she steered a disproportionate amount of the state’s investment business to Stephens. Shoffner was arrested in May when FBI agents raided her home and found $6,000 that was delivered in a pie box.

California – Sky’s the New Spending Limit in LA’s Westside Supervisor’s Race

KPCC – Sharon McNary | Published: 3/12/2014

Bobby Shriver, who is running for a seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in the June 3 primary, has rejected voluntary campaign spending limits and said he will at least partially self-fund his race. The action removes expenditure caps for all the candidates, and imposes a $300 limit on donations to Shriver.

District of Columbia – Prosecutors Say DC Mayor Knew of Illegal ‘Shadow Campaign,’ Personally Requested Funds

Star Tribune – Ben Nuckols (Associated Press) | Published: 3/10/2014

Prosecutors said District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray knew about an illegal fundraising operation that helped him capture the 2010 election and personally asked a prominent business executive to finance the scheme. The allegations were revealed in court documents detailing the activities of Jeffrey Thompson, the multimillionaire former owner of a well-connected accounting firm who pleaded guilty to two conspiracy charges.

Florida – Who Says Lobbyists Can’t Win Elections?

Politico – Byron Tau | Published: 3/12/2014

Despite his profession’s low approval ratings, lobbyist David Jolly edged out Alex Sink in Florida’s special election for the 13th Congressional District seat. It is the latest sign a Washington, D.C. lobbying or consultant background is not a deal-breaker at the ballot box. Jolly is the second prominent K Street denizen to get a nod from voters in recent months and two other candidates with ties to lobbying firms or trade associations will face voters this year: Ed Gillespie in Virginia and Debbie Dingell in Michigan.

Illinois – Campaign Finance Case Won’t Be Resolved This Election Cycle

Quad City Times – Kurt Erickson | Published: 3/6/2014

A lawsuit challenging Illinois’ caps on political donations is unlikely to be resolved before the 2014 elections, so limits put in place in 2009 will probably remain in place for the rest of this election season. U.S. District Court Judge Gary Feinerman dismissed most of a challenge to the landmark changes filed by the Liberty Justice Center, but kept one piece of the case alive for further debate, potentially extending arguments for several more months.

Kansas – Ex-Rep. Trent LeDoux Accused of Bank Fraud, Money Laundering

Topeka Capital Journal – Timothy Carpenter | Published: 3/12/2014

A federal grand jury indicted former Kansas Rep. Trent LeDoux, charging he used bank loans obtained to purchase cattle to finance his political activities. LeDoux faces three counts of bank fraud and two counts of money laundering for allegedly depositing funds from the cattle loans into his campaign account in 2011 and 2012.

Michigan – Mich. Slaps Health Care Union with 2nd Largest Elections Fine Ever

Detroit News – Chad Livengood | Published: 3/10/2014

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) will pay almost $200,000 to settle alleged campaign finance violations from a failed 2012 ballot proposal seeking collective bargaining rights for home health workers in Michigan. The complaint accused the principals behind Home Care First and Citizens for Affordable Quality Home Care of intentionally delaying required filings with the secretary of state’s office to conceal that SEIU had made substantial contributions to support the proposal.

Minnesota – Minnesota House Votes to Reverse ‘Free Lunch’ Provision for Legislators

Minneapolis Star Tribune – Abby Simons | Published: 3/10/2014

The Minnesota House voted to reverse course on a recent change to the law that made it easier for lobbyists to buy meals for legislators. The bill would do away with an exception that allows lawmakers to get lobbyist-purchased meals at receptions as long as all legislators are invited. Under the state’s prior gift ban, lawmakers had to reimburse sponsoring group or lobbyists for the cost of those meals.

South Carolina – Ethics Regulators Question Lobbyist’s Campaign Contribution to S.C. Attorney General

Charleston City Paper – Corey Hutchins | Published: 3/7/2014

Onetime lobbyist Joyce Hearn gave a total of $200 to South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson’s campaign in 2009 and 2010. Hearn de-registered as a lobbyist on May 30, 2010, but that does not matter, said State Ethics Commission Deputy Director Cathy Hazelwood. Even if a lobbyist de-registers in South Carolina, he or she cannot give direct campaign contributions to a lawmaker or statewide candidate during the year they lobbied.

Utah  Report: Swallow put a ‘For Sale’ sign on the Utah AG’s office

Salt Lake Tribune – Robert Gehrke | Published: 3/12/2014

A House panel closed its investigation of former Utah Attorney General John Swallow by releasing a report that says he traded favors with businesspeople, obscured campaign donations, and destroyed records, among other allegations. “[Swallow] hung a veritable ‘for sale’ sign on the office door that invited moneyed interests to seek special treatment and favors,” alleges the report. Two county attorneys in Utah, with the assistance of the FBI, are in the middle of a criminal investigation of Swallow and others.

Virginia – Va. General Assembly Adjourns without Budget or Medicaid Expansion

Washington Post – Laura Vozella, Michael Laris, and Rachel Weiner | Published: 3/8/2014

Virginia lawmakers passed an omnibus ethics reform bill that sets a $250 annual limit on the amount of certain gifts elected officials can accept from lobbyists, principals, and anyone who has or is seeking business with the state. It requires disclosure of gifts given to spouses and immediate family members, establishes an ethics advisory council, and increases the transparency of financial disclosure forms by putting them online.

Washington – PDC Disclosure Bill for Lobbyists’ Freebies Gets ‘Lost in the Shuffle’

The Olympian – Brad Shannon | Published: 3/11/2014

Washington lawmakers most likely will adjourn their legislative session without addressing the issue of lobbyist-paid entertainment. A bill that would have required lobbyists to file spending reports electronically at the state Public Disclosure Commission failed to move out of Senate Ways and Means Committee at the deadline for policy bills.

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.

News You Can Use is a news service provided at no charge only to clients of our online Executive Source Guides, or ALERTS™ consulting clients.


Continue Reading

State and Federal Communications, Inc. provides research and consulting services for government relations professionals on lobbying laws, procurement lobbying laws, political contribution laws in the United States and Canada. Learn more by visiting

Sort by Month