News You Can Use Digest - March 4, 2016 - State and Federal Communications

March 4, 2016  •  

News You Can Use Digest – March 4, 2016



Meet the ‘Nones,’ the Democratic Party’s Biggest Faith Constituency
Washington Post – Michelle Boorstein | Published: 2/29/2016

A large group of Americans reject any label or affiliation to describe their faith. At 23 percent of the population, this left-leaning group called “Nones” are the Democratic parallel to the Republican Party’s white evangelicals – except without organization, PACs, and a clear agenda. They do, however, have one big expectation of political candidates: be ethical, and go light on the God talk. A group that skews under 40, is white, and non-immigrant, the Nones want politicians to tone it down because they are fed up with religious institutions they see as corrupt and discriminatory. In the process, they are rewriting the country’s political discourse on morality.


As Presidential Campaign Unfolds, So Do Inquiries into Clinton’s Emails
New York Times – Steven Lee Myers and Matt Apuzzo | Published: 3/2/2016

Hillary Clinton faces legal hurdles from her use of a private computer server as secretary of state. Foremost among a half-dozen inquiries and legal proceedings into whether classified information was sent through Clinton’s server is an investigation by the FBI, whose agents could seek to question Clinton’s closest aides and possibly the candidate herself within weeks. A federal law enforcement official said barring any unforeseen changes, the investigation could conclude by early May. Then the Justice Department will decide whether to file criminal charges and, if so, against whom. Federal law makes it a crime to mishandle classified information outside secure government channels when someone does so “knowingly” or, more seriously, permits it through “gross negligence.” Clinton has correctly pointed out that none of the emails on her server were marked as classified at the time.

Inside the Clinton Team’s Plan to Defeat Donald Trump
New York Times – Amy Chozick and Patrick Healy | Published: 2/29/2016

Hillary Clinton and her allies are shifting their attention to a likely general-election contest against Donald Trump that they expect to be strongly negative. Clinton is still waging a nomination battle against Bernie Sanders, but increasingly sure that Trump will win the Republican nomination, she appears to be running a two-pronged campaign. Several Democrats argued Clinton would easily beat Trump. They were confident his incendiary remarks would make him unacceptable to many Americans. But others, including former President Bill Clinton, dismissed those conclusions as denial. They said Trump clearly had a keen sense of the electorate’s mood and only a concerted campaign portraying him as dangerous and bigoted would win what both Clintons believe will be a close November election.

Jeb Bush’s Ambitions Paid Dividends for GOP Admaker Over the Years
Washington Post – Matea Gold | Published: 2/28/2016

Since 1998, when Mike Murphy helped Jeb Bush remake his image and win the Florida governor’s office, the strategist’s firms have received nearly $36 million from Bush’s campaigns, allied political committees, and educational foundation. While the vast majority of the money went to purchase advertising, Murphy got a significant cut as the media consultant. In this year’s presidential contest, Murphy helmed the big-money super PAC that Bush and his allies believed would give him a key edge in the race. By the time Bush dropped out, Right to Rise USA had raced through more than $101 million, to little effect. Murphy’s work for Bush over the years underscores how a long-term relationship with a politician can pay dividends for a political consultant, even in defeat. Right to Rise’s approach will be studied as a test of the kind of fiscal accountability that donors demanded after the 2012 election.

Lobbyists Could Make a Comeback after Obama
The Hill – Megan Wilson | Published: 3/2/2016

None of the candidates running for the White House has vowed to keep President Obama’s restrictions on lobbyists in place, and Democrats have already abandoned his ban on lobbyist contributions to the party committee and nominating convention. Obama came into office vowing to “change how Washington works” by curbing the influence of lobbyists and special interest groups. The measures have been widely panned by K Street over the past seven years. Lobbyists say the attempt to curb Washington’s “revolving door” has succeeded only in keeping qualified people out of important jobs and impeding the flow of information to the administration. Critics say Obama’s policies drove more of the influence industry underground.

Seeing Chris Christie with Donald Trump, New Jersey and Internet Cringe
New York Times – Michael Barbaro | Published: 3/2/2016

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s seemingly shell-shocked gaze as he stood behind Donald Trump on Super Tuesday is generating befuddlement and mockery in his home state and beyond. Conservatives and liberals alike have piled on. His introductory remarks were so subdued and his appearance was so grave that the joke making the rounds on the Internet was that he was a hostage reading a coerced statement. “Gov. Christie, blink twice if you’re in trouble!” one person tweeted. Some newspaper editorials in New Jersey said he is not even fit to be governor any more. They called him a political opportunist who has neglected his duties in the Garden State, and urged him to resign.

From the States and Municipalities:

California – Budding Marijuana Lobby Gains Influence at California Capitol
Sacramento Bee – Taryn Luna | Published: 2/25/2016

When Amy Jenkins signed on to represent the California Cannabis Industry Association, veteran lobbyists told her the move could ruin her career. Bit in Sacramento, cannabis now is a welcome topic in many legislative offices and given rise to a budding micro-economy: marijuana lobbying. More than two dozen groups from the Recreational Boaters of California to the Wine Institute in San Francisco employed lobbyists to influence marijuana issues in the state last year. As the public becomes more accepting of pot, the industry is drawing well-funded business interests that want a piece of California’s billion-dollar market.

California – Female Lobbying Firm Thrives in Male-Dominated Capitol
Bakersfield Californian – Laurel Rosenhall ( | Published: 2/27/2016

Women have become more prominent in Sacramento’s political scene than they were a generation ago, but they remain in the minority. Just 26 percent of California’s 120 legislators are female, two of the eight state officers elected statewide are women, and women are more likely to be employees than partners at Sacramento’s biggest lobbying firms. Roughly 300 firms are registered to lobby in California. Among the top 20 that brought in the most money last year, Political Solutions is the only one owned entirely by women. Its rare position shows both how far women have come in being able to succeed in the business of politics, and how much they remain outsiders in an old-school industry.

Colorado – Colorado Lobbying Law Offers Murky Picture of Influence on Politics
Denver Post – Joey Bunch | Published: 2/28/2016

The Center for Public Integrity last year deemed Colorado “largely sleaze-free” but criticized the state for its lack of transparency on lobbyists. Attempts to strengthen disclosure at the Legislature have not been effective, and state officials say there is not enough money to make improvements. Meanwhile, the lobbying firms that rank at the top of the income scale are viewed by insiders as those most diligent in reporting because loopholes and a lack of oversight allow for many firms to allow untold amounts of income paid to them to go unreported to the public.

Louisiana – What Budget Crisis? Louisiana Lawmakers Raising Campaign Cash
New Orleans Times-Picayune – Julia O’Donoghue | Published: 3/2/2016

Unlike regular legislative sessions when political fundraisers are forbidden, legislators in Louisiana are free during special sessions to pull in campaign money from fundraising events on the same days they vote on tax increases, budget cuts, and other bills. And 42 of the 144 members of the Legislature have taken advantage of the exception to hold or schedule political fundraisers in Baton Rouge during the 25-day special session that must end March 9. Two more lawmakers are having political fundraisers in Baton Rouge the day after the special session ends. Legislators do not have to report their political contributions from this period until the beginning of 2017, when their 2016 campaign finance reports are due.

Massachusetts – Bill Would Have Lobbyists Disclose Clients
The Sentinel & Enterprise – Michael Norton (State House News Service) | Published: 3/1/2016

State Sen. Sen. Michael Brady introduced a bill calling for municipal lobbyists to begin disclosing their clients and compensation with clerks at city and town halls throughout Massachusetts. Brady said his legislation, which was referred to the State Administration Committee, is modeled after the state lobbying law and establishes new categories governing municipal agents and municipal lobbying. It would require agents receiving more than $2,500 per year to disclose the nature of matters they are lobbying on, officials they have lobbied, the interests paying the agent, and campaign contributions made to local officials. Municipal lobbyists would be required to register annually and pay a fee of $100 under the bill.

Massachusetts – Marty Walsh’s Friends with Benefits
Boston Globe – Mark Arsenault and Andrew Ryan | Published: 2/28/2016

Michael Goldman has set up media interviews for Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, consulted with city officials about the release of public records, orchestrated the rollout of a major municipal labor contract, and written speeches for the mayor – all for free. O’Neil, a political strategist with so much affection for Walsh he said he would “die for the guy,” said he offers his skills and experience to the mayor as a “friend.” At the same time, Goldman’s consulting firm, the O’Neil/Goldman Group, firm lobbies City Hall on behalf of corporate clients who need things from the administration like permits and administration support on development projects worth millions of dollars.

Mississippi – Lobbyists: Campaign finance system ‘disgusting’
Jackson Clarion-Ledger – Geoff Pender, Kate Royals, and Mollie Bryant | Published: 2/28/2016

For roughly the last decade, outside interests such as political parties, lobbyists, corporations, and policy advocates have pumped money into Mississippi legislative races. Typically, lawmakers go to lobbyists, who line up corporate donors for their campaigns, or corporate donors go to lobbyists who direct them to the candidates they should donate to based on their issues or desired legislation. Eight top state lobbyists did give varying opinions on legislators and campaign money. Some said they and their clients are being pressured to cough up more money for more legislative races and find politicians’ personal spending of the money distasteful. Others said they see no problems. All said they do not believe there is any direct “pay-to-play” setup between making donations and getting legislation passed.

New Mexico – Governor OKs Upgrades to State’s Campaign Finance Reporting System
New – Heath Haussamen | Published: 2/29/2016

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez signed legislation designed to standardize electronic reporting so that filings by candidates, lobbyists, and political committees can be searched, cross-referenced, or downloaded for analysis. The law also will require lobbyists to file regular reports, as candidates already do. Registration fees from lobbyists would be reinvested in maintaining the database.

Wisconsin – With Fewer Members, a Diminished Political Role for Wisconsin Unions
New York Times – Monica Davey | Published: 2/27/2016

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker led a push five years ago to cut collective bargaining rights for most public sector workers, saying he needed to solve a state budget gap. Since then, union membership has dropped precipitously. Long a labor stronghold, the state has lost tens of thousands of union members, leaving Wisconsin with a smaller percentage of union members than the national average. The shift has shaken the order of election-year politics. Democrats, who most often have been the beneficiaries of money and ground-level help from the unions, said they were uncertain about what the coming elections would look like, and what forces could take the place of depleted labor groups.

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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