March 7, 2014 •
News You Can Use Digest – March 7, 2014
New York Times – Amy Choziak | Published: 2/27/2014
With a record number of women in Congress and dozens more on the ballot, gender-charged attacks – stoked by the growth of social media and small-dollar Internet donations – can generate campaign contributions in an instant. In the past few months, Republicans have likened Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes to an “empty dress” and referred to a pregnant woman as a “host.” Democrats blast these comments out to supporters to build voter lists and drum up donations.
Washington Post – Matea Gold | Published: 2/28/2014
There is now a near-universal view among top donors and strategists that the Democratic Party needs its own super PACs to compete with the growing role such groups are playing on the right. But there are disagreements over how to use the independent organizations. Some say Priorities USA Action and other groups that can accept unlimited contributions are too focused on the 2016 presidential race and a potential Hillary Clinton candidacy, even as Democrats face a costly, uphill fight this year to retain a thin Senate majority and gain seats in the House.
New York Times – Nicholas Confessore | Published: 3/4/2014
Organizing for Action, a political advocacy group backed by President Barack Obama, said its executive director set up a White House meeting for a businessperson entangled in a lawsuit with a federal agency, who then pledged to raise $100,000 for the group one day after the meeting. The organization also said on three occasions its fundraisers or other employees had tried to steer potentially controversial donations to allied liberal groups that did not disclose their donors.
From the States and Municipalities:
Sacramento Bee – Laurel Rosenhall | Published: 3/5/2014
Countering a series of scandals, California Senate Democrats plan to propose sweeping changes to the Political Reform Act, including stricter limits on accepting gifts and campaign contributions. Sources said the legislation will cut roughly in half the $440 annual limit on gifts to elected state officials, and prohibit candidates from holding political fundraisers at the homes of lobbyists.
Colorado Independent – John Tomasic and Tessa Cheek | Published: 3/2/2014
A bill that aims to fix the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission comes as the number of complaints filed with the panel continues to grow. House Bill 1258 seeks to bolster protections for state employees who are brought before the commission. It would ensure they are provided with tax-paid legal counsel and have the right to sue individual members of the commission for damages. Critics say the measure would do more harm than good.
Denver Post – Lynn Bartels | Published: 3/1/2014
Colorado Independent Ethics Commission Executive Director Jane Feldman has submitted her resignation, effective at the end of March. Complaints about the commission have led to legislation being introduced this session. That would affect its operations.
Bradenton Herald – Mary Ellen Klas (Miami Herald) | Published: 3/3/2014
Many of the decisions about what issues make the agenda of Florida’s 2014 legislative session have already been made, in large part due to special interest groups and a torrent of money flowing into the coffers of legislative political committees. Longtime lobbyist Bob Levy said money has always been a major part of what happens in Tallahassee, but the difference is the number of zeroes. “It existed then, but it was $50,000; today it’s $500,000,” said Levy.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Walker Moskup | Published: 3/3/2014
From 2011 to 2013, more than half of the money raised by Missouri campaign committees – about $67 million – came from donations of $5,000 or more. Those larger donations represent about three percent of the total number of contributions. The absence of contribution limits in the state exacerbates the reliance on mega-donors, said Missouri State University professor George Connor.
Harrisburg Patriot-News – Matt Miller | Published: 3/3/2014
A Washington, D.C.-based super PAC filed a lawsuit asking a federal judge to void a Pennsylvania law that is blocking its efforts to raise funds from corporations, associations, and unions in the state. The General Majority PAC contends the U.S. Constitution and a Supreme Court ruling grant it the right to solicit money from those sources to finance its political message during Pennsylvania’s legislative races this year.
Salt Lake Tribune – Lee Davidson | Published: 3/3/2014
While events featuring free food remain a popular way to attract Utah lawmakers to hear lobbying pitches, they appear to be changing. The number of free lunches, which are expensive for sponsors, dropped by nearly half this year. Less-costly receptions nearly doubled. Still, special interests do not see free “wining and dining” disappearing any time soon. That is too bad, say groups who cannot afford that style of lobbying.
Washington Post – Michael Laris | Published: 3/1/2014
The Virginia House and Senate have passed different bills that address ethics reform. They will work on a compromise as the legislative session draws to a close, but neither bill addresses key loopholes. Lawmakers said it was more difficult than they expected to make far-reaching changes, in part because as they got into the details, they became concerned that imposing tough provisions could end up inadvertently criminalizing their own honest mistakes.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – Patrick Marley | Published: 3/4/2014
Recently introduced bills in Wisconsin would exempt political groups behind issue ads from disclosing donors and allow lobbyists to funnel donations to candidates. Senate Bill 655 would allow lobbyists to provide contributions on behalf of others to elected officials at any time. The bill also would move up the date on which lobbyists can personally give campaign contributions from June 1 to April 15 of election years.
State 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.
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 stateandfed.com.