March 14, 2014 •
News You Can Use Digest – March 14, 2014
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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