News You Can Use Digest - May 16, 2014 - State and Federal Communications

May 16, 2014  •  

News You Can Use Digest – May 16, 2014




GOP Civil War Rages in Senate Primary Battles

The Center for Public Integrity – Dave Levinthal | Published: 5/8/2014

Hard-line conservative groups have together spent nearly three dollars attacking Republican candidates for every one dollar spent criticizing Democrats, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis. The dichotomy illustrates the family feud between mainstream Republicans and their tea party-affiliated cousins, many of whom have forced GOP incumbents into expensive primary fights because they believe the candidates are not conservative enough.

Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity Plans $125 Million Spending Spree

Politico – Byron Tau | Published: 5/9/2014

Americans for Prosperity expects to spend more than $125 million this year in support of conservative candidates. The plans, combined with those of other groups in the political operation affiliated with the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, more closely resemble the traditional functions of a national political party than a network of private nonprofit groups. The goal of the network is a long-term movement to expand the political playing field for conservatives, both into new states and into non-traditional demographics.

From the States and Municipalities:

Arizona – Tom Horne Campaign Finance Case to Move Forward

Arizona Capitol Times – Jeremy Duda | Published: 5/14/2014

Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk rejected an administrative judge’s conclusion that there is not enough evidence to show Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne and Kathleen Winn, who ran an independent expenditure committee during the 2010 election, illegally coordinated their activities. Polk’s office maintains that records show the two illegally collaborated on ads attacking Horne’s Democratic opponent. Polk has ordered Horne to return about $400,000 to donors and amend his campaign finance reports to properly reflect the contributions.

California – Capitol Alert: California Senate passes bill banning fundraisers at lobbyist homes

San Luis Obispo Tribune – Laurel Rosenhall (Sacramento Bee) | Published: 5/12/2014

The California Senate passed a bill that would ban lobbyists from holding campaign fundraisers at their homes for candidates and elected officials. Senate Bill 1441 now moves to the Assembly. A prominent Sacramento lobbyist and nearly 40 politicians got in trouble earlier this year with the Fair Political Practices Commission for home-based fundraising events that exceeded a $500 limit.

California – Gov. Brown Signs Bill to Shed Light on Political ‘Dark Money’

Los Angeles Times – Patrick McGreevy | Published: 5/14/2014

Nonprofit organizations that make political contributions in California will have to disclose more information about the source of their money under a bill signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown. Senate Bill 27 requires nonprofits to disclose the names of donors who give them $1,000 or more to spend on political activity, if the group makes contributions of more than $50,000 in a year, or $100,000 over four years. The disclosure requirement takes effect for donations made after July 1 of this year.

Florida – Lobbyists at Water Districts Must Register and Disclose under New Ethics Bill

Miami Herald – Dan Christensen | Published: 5/10/2014

Lobbyists hired to influence spending and policy at Florida’s five water management districts must register and disclose their clients under ethics reforms passed by the state Legislature. If signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott, the bill would for the first time apply state lobbying regulations to some special-purpose governments that raise and spend hundreds of millions dollars every year.

Missouri – Flood Flowing, Ethics Bills Dying as Missouri Legislature Nears Adjournment

St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Virginia Young | Published: 5/14/2014

Missouri lawmakers are feted with free food in the Rotunda, hearing rooms, and area restaurants. Big-ticket items outside the Capitol, such as expensive dinners, sporting event tickets, and out-of-state travel, helped push the total value of the gifts to nearly a million dollars’ worth in 2013, according to state Ethics Commission records. That Is unlikely to change as legislators have stymied bills that would ban or limit the gifts they receive.

New York – Inside Moreland: Documents reveal details of lawmakers’ spending

City & State – John Lentz, Matthew Hamilton, and Morgan Pehme | Published: 5/11/2014

To date, there has been considerable speculation about what exactly the recently disbanded Moreland Commission on Public Corruption investigated during the months it was in operation, but few specifics have been disclosed to the public. Now, commission documents show its investigators sought to determine if New York lawmakers were spending the contributions they received for legitimate campaign-oriented purposes, or whether any money was going to their personal use, in violation of state law.

Ohio – McGinty, DeWine Accuse Youngstown Mayor, Mahoning County Official of Racketeering

Cleveland Plain Dealer – John Caniglia | Published: 5/14/2014

Youngstown Mayor John McNally and Mahoning County Auditor Michael Sciortino were indicted on corruption charges including bribery, conspiracy, and tampering with records. The indictment outlines a series of illegal activities related to a plan to move the offices of the county Department of Job and Family Services. McNally and Sciortino were indicted four years ago on related charges, but the case was dismissed. A judge said then that the charges could be refiled. Prosecutors said at the time their inability to obtain tape recordings held by the FBI and provide them to defense lawyers made it impossible to proceed with the case.

Oklahoma – Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association to Pay $1,200 Fine

The Oklahoman – Nolan Clay | Published: 5/9/2014

The Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association agreed to stop providing free football and basketball playoff tickets to state legislators, and will pay $1,200 in civil penalties for not disclosing the gifts to the state Ethics Commission for the last three years. The association was required to disclose the gifts once it started using lobbyists. It continues to blame two former lobbyists for the disclosure failure.

Pennsylvania – Candidates’ Parents’ Mutual Donations

Philadelphia Inquirer – Jonathan Tamari | Published: 5/13/2014

During Kevin Strouse’s bid for congressional seat from Pennsylvania, his parents, who had never before donated to federal candidates beyond the commonwealth, sent money to Democrats in tight congressional races in California, Colorado, Florida, and Illinois. Days before or after, those candidates’ parents sent nearly identical contributions, usually for the maximum allowed, to Strouse’s campaign. The donations appear legal, campaign finance experts say, though some said any agreement among the parents to trade donations could be viewed as an attempted end run around contribution limits.

South Carolina – Judge to AG Wilson: Stop SLED and grand jury probe of House Speaker Harrell

The State – John Monk | Published: 5/12/2014

A judge dismissed allegations of corruption against South Carolina House Speaker Bobby Harrell, ruling such a case must first be considered by a legislative panel before state prosecutors could touch it, and saying a grand jury was improperly empaneled. The grand jury had been considering whether Harrell should be indicted on allegations he used campaign funds for personal use. Critics and lawyers following the case said it was a rare, if unprecedented step for a judge to halt a grand jury investigation.

Vermont – AG Clarifies 2014 Campaign Contribution Limits

Burlington Free Press – Nancy Remsen | Published: 5/14/2014

Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell said the state’s campaign contribution limits will remain the same through the end of the year. The secretary of state’s office asked for the formal opinion after the Legislature passed an updated campaign finance law. The law had an error making it appear there was a gap between the date the old limits expire and January 1 when the new caps take effect.

Wisconsin – Federal Appeals Court Tells Wisconsin Regulators That Campaign Finance Laws Went Too Far

Minneapolis Star Tribune – M.L. Johnson (Associated Press) | Published: 5/14/2014

The Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals struck down major provisions of Wisconsin’s campaign finance law as unconstitutional. The ruling said state elections officials had overstepped their bounds by prohibiting spending by corporations, setting limits on how much they could raise for affiliated political committees, and establishing burdensome rules for groups that merely mentioned candidates’ names in ads.

Wisconsin – Mistake May Bar Lobbyists from Helping with Fundraising

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – Patrick Marley | Published: 5/8/2014

State election officials said Wisconsin lawmakers may have inadvertently toughened campaign finance rules by barring lobbyists from passing on campaign donations from their clients. Others disagree with that interpretation. The Government Accountability Board will take up the issue on May 21, but the matter may ultimately be decided by the courts.

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.

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