November 15, 2013 •
News You Can Use Digest – November 15, 2012
Washington Post – Reid Wilson | Published: 11/7/2013
The initiative process, originally aimed at giving citizens the chance to break industry’s hold on state Legislatures, is increasingly becoming the domain of corporations and wealthy individuals who advance new laws for their own advantage, bypassing reluctant lawmakers and spending millions of dollars along the way. More than $1 billion has been spent in the past 18 months on ballot initiatives in just 11 states.
Politico – Byron Tau | Published: 11/7/2013
A draft proposal from the FEC would allow campaigns to accept, but not spend, the digital currency Bitcoin. According to the proposal, the currency will count as an in-kind contribution to a campaign, like a stock or bond. The agency will not consider them currency.
USA Today – Fredreka Schouten | Published: 11/12/2013
Liberal super PACs have spent $10.8 million on federal races this year, twice as much as conservative super PACs. Much of the money has flowed to a handful of elections to fill congressional vacancies. Liberal money also makes up 70 percent of the election-related federal spending by so-called dark money groups – politically active non-profits that do not have to disclose the sources of their money.
From the States and Municipalities:
California – FBI Capitol Sting Shines Light on Latino Caucus
Sacramento Bee – Laurel Rosenhall | Published: 11/10/2013
The details of the most recent leadership fight at the California Legislature’s Latino Caucus caught the attention of FBI agents investigating one caucus member, state Sen. Ron Calderon, for allegedly taking bribes. The emerging case has exposed caucus decisions to public view just as the group’s influence is peaking. The 25 members constitute more than a fifth of the Legislature, control hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds, and wield influence that affects millions of Californians.
Florida – Sweetwater Mayor, Lobbyist Plead Guilty
Miami Herald – Jay Weaver | Published: 11/13/2013
Suspended Sweetwater Mayor Manuel Maroño and lobbyist Jorge Forte pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to commit honest services fraud. Two others facing similar charges resulting from the same FBI sting operation are former Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi and lobbyist Richard Candia. The two corruption cases were remarkable even by South Florida’s standards as the crackdown snared two mayors and two lobbyists on the same day.
Columbus Republic – Kate Brumback (Associated Press) | Published: 11/13/2013
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal suspended state Sen. Don Balfour from office. A review committee recommended the action after a grand jury indicted Balfour on felony charges of illegally claiming legislative expense pay and double-billing the state and his private employer for some expenses. He previously agreed to pay a $5,000 fine issued by the Senate Ethics Committee for accepting pay for in-state work and travel on days when he was elsewhere.
Chicago Sun Times – Fran Spielman | Published: 11/12/2013
Mayor Rahm Emanuel proposed a measure that would require city contractors to immediately report knowledge of corruption to Chicago’s inspector general or risk losing their contract. Emanuel’s office said the measure, if approved, would be incorporated into all future city contracts.
Chicago Sun Times – Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney | Published: 11/13/2013
Illinois gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner is adding $500,000 of his own money to his campaign, an amount that will trigger a provision allowing his opponents to raise unlimited amounts of cash. Under the law, candidates can only accept contributions of up to $5,300 from individuals and $52,600 from PACs. But those caps are lifted if any statewide candidate or member of the candidate’s immediate family donates or loans more than $250,000 to his or her campaign during the 12 months prior to an election.
New Orleans Times Picayune – Lee Zurik (WVUE) and Manuel Torres | Published: 11/12/2013
Critics say the Louisiana Board of Ethics spends too much of its time going after candidates who file late, essentially ignoring more serious violations. Board of Ethics Administrator Kathleen Allen said her agency does not have enough personnel or a legal mandate to regularly audit even a small percentage of the thousands of campaign finance reports filed every year.
Massachusetts – Campaign Bill Would Order Fast Disclosure of Donors
Boston Globe – Michael Levenson | Published: 11/12/2013
Outside political committees pumped nearly $4 million into the Boston mayoral election this year, most of it to help elect Martin Walsh. But current law does not require those groups to reveal their donors until January. Secretary of State William Galvin and several lawmakers are preparing legislation that would require outside groups to disclose their donors in real time.
Minneapolis Star Tribune – Glenn Howatt and Rachel Stassen-Berger | Published: 11/9/2013
An analysis by the Minneapolis Star Tribune shows online data from the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board are rife with mistakes, leading to errors that total as much as $20 million over the past decade. The flaws are enough to hamper any comprehensive attempt to examine the flow of political money in the state, at a time when that spending has soared to record heights.
Columbus Republic; Associated Press – | Published: 11/14/2013
Watchdogs contend television ads by the state Democratic Committee that urge residents to contact lawmakers in support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s ethics and jobs legislation violate New York’s lobbying law. The law requires those seeking to influence legislators be registered as lobbyists so they are publicly identified and disclose their funding and spending. Political parties and committees have long believed they were exempt.
Pennsylvania – Lobbyist Penalty Reforms Pass Pa. House
WHTM – Myles Snyder | Published: 11/13/2013
The Pennsylvania House unanimously approved a bill that would increase penalties for lobbyists who break the law. House Bill 744, which now moves to the Senate, would raise the maximum fine the state Ethics Commission can impose from $2,000 to $10,000, and it would up the current five-year ban on lobbying to 10 years, among other provisions.
Vermont – Democratic PAC Must Pay $30,000 Penalty
Burlington Free Press – Nancy Remsen | Published: 11/13/2013
Green Mountain Future, a PAC created by the Democratic Governors Association, will pay the state of Vermont a $20,000 civil penalty for not including its address on its website or television ads against Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Dubie during the 2010 campaign. The group also must pay $10,000 for not registering as a PAC or filing campaign finance reports.
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