November 1, 2013 •
News You Can Use Digest – November 1, 2013
Politico – Byron Tau and Helena Bottemiller Evich | Published: 10/30/2013
First lady Michelle Obama’s two signature policy initiatives, the Let’s Move! childhood obesity effort and the veteran-focused Joining Forces, have earned her bipartisan praise. Those efforts have been developed in close cooperation with some of K Street and corporate America’s biggest players that stand to benefit from the exposure, public goodwill generated from being involved in a public health or charitable effort, or the policy itself.
From the States and Municipalities:
Sacramento Bee – Laurel Rosenhall | Published: 10/30/2013
California Sen. Ron Calderon allegedly accepted about $88,000 in bribes from an undercover FBI agent during an elaborate sting operation. An affidavit, filed as the FBI sought a search warrant for Calderon’s office, alleges he worked with interest groups in a “pay-to-play” fashion, accepting money in exchange for promises to carry or amend legislation to their benefit.
California – Critics Howl over Lobbyist Walking Governor’s Dog
San Francisco Chronicle – Carla Manucci | Published: 10/24/2013
Some are questioning whether Jennifer Fearing, senior state director for the Humane Society of the United States, has turned her role as regular walker of California Gov. Jerry Brown’s dog into an effective way to lobby the state’s chief executive on animal rights issues. Fearing had a perfect record this legislative season in getting bills signed by Brown, placing her in the ranks of Sacramento’s most effective lobbyists.
California – L.A. Moves to Boost Limits on Gifts to Lawmakers
Los Angeles Times – Steve Zahniser | Published: 10/25/2013
The Los Angeles Ethics Commission sent the city council its recommendation for new and more stringent limits on gifts to the city officials, part of a much larger package of rule changes. But when the council took up the proposal recently, they sought an increase, not a decrease, in the size of allowable gifts from bidders, contractors, and others with a financial stake in a city decision.
Denver Post – Lynn Bartels | Published: 10/31/2013
Some groups are using ethics complaints to impugn the integrity of candidates in Colorado, even when the complaint is found to be without merit. The move has attracted bipartisan criticism.
South Florida Sentinel – Brittany Wallman | Published: 10/29/2013
Broward County lobbyist George Platt has come up with guidelines for being successful in the influence industry. “Somehow the list grows as time passes … [there are] too many who lack a moral compass trying to become lobbyists; unlike some professions, there is no set of qualifications for entry,” said Platt.
Business Week – Ryan Foley (Associated Press) | Published: 10/31/2013
Americans for Prosperity, the organization backed by the billionaire Koch brothers, has jumped into the municipal election in Coralville, Iowa and turned it into a referendum on government spending and borrowing. Residents of the town, with a population of 19,000, say they have never seen such an outside effort in a local vote, let alone by a conservative group in the state’s most Democratic county.
Quad City Times – James Lynch | Published: 10/24/2013
State Senate Ethics Committee Chairperson Wally Horn said the chamber’s rule prohibiting senators from being paid staffers of campaigns and PACs is there to protect the franchise of Iowa’s first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses. Other states that closely follow Iowa in the nomination process do not seem to share Horn’s concern, however.
Reno Gazette-Journal – Sandra Chereb (Associated Press) | Published: 10/30/2013
A YouTube video surfaced of an event at which Nevada Assemblyperson Jim Wheeler said he would vote to allow slavery if that was the desire of his constituents. He said he believes it is his job to represent those who elected him regardless of his own beliefs. “If that’s what they wanted, I’d have to hold my nose … they’d probably have to hold a gun to my head, but yeah,” said Wheeler.
Las Vegas Sun – Andrew Doughman | Published: 10/27/2013
Disclosure reports filed with the Nevada Commission on Ethics detail how legislators and members of state boards and commissions often get paid to do business before state agencies, boards, and commissions. Their elected or appointed positions likely enable them to build relationships and gain expertise useful in their private enterprise, a fact recognized by lawmakers when they passed a disclosure law in 1991.
New Mexico – Report Examines NM Lobbyists’ Largesse
Albuquerque Journal – Deborah Baker | Published: 10/31/2013
A report from New Mexico Common Cause said spending on lobbying “plays an influential role” in state lawmakers’ votes. Common Cause had several recommendations for regulating lobbyists, including requiring more specific information on disclosure reports and limits on their cumulative campaign donations.
New York – Turmoil in Ethics Hiring
Albany Times Union – James Odato | Published: 10/29/2013
The Joint Commission on Public Ethics hired Letizia Tagliafierro as its new executive director during a closed door meeting. In the brief public part of the meeting, commission member Ellen Yaroshefsky proposed what she called an independent search for an executive director. Yaroshefsky later resigned from the panel.
Oklahoma – Ex-Okla. Lawmaker Guilty in Bribery Trial
BusinessWeek – Tim Talley (Associated Press) | Published: 10/30/2013
Former Oklahoma Rep. Randy Terrill has been convicted of bribery. Prosecutors alleged Terrill offered to put former Democratic Sen. Debbe Leftwich in an $80,000-a-year job at the state medical examiner’s office if she would agree to not seek re-election in 2010 so a Republican, Rep. Mike Christian, could run for her open seat.
Sioux Fall Argus Leader – David Montgomery | Published: 10/30/2013
South Dakota legislative have begun looking for ways to strengthen their voice in state policy debates. Compared to the executive branch, with a full-time governor and his or her year-round staff, along with myriad state employees, South Dakota’s part-time citizen Legislature has fewer resources, less information, and less time to tackle problems.
The Virginian-Pilot – Julian Walker | Published: 10/31/2013
If Terry McAuliffe becomes Virginia’s next governor, his business interests could trigger conflicts-of-interest. His campaign says his investments would go into a blind trust, but Republicans remain skeptical, given their view of McAuliffe’s history as a political financier with interests they say could intersect with a governor’s duties.
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