News You Can Use Digest - November 30, 2018 - State and Federal Communications

November 30, 2018  •  

News You Can Use Digest – November 30, 2018





How FEC Babysitting Decision Could Pave Way for More Hill Diversity
Roll Call – Stephanie Akin | Published: 11/26/2018

The FEC in May decided for the first time ever that child care was a legitimate campaign expense, on par with polling or campaign signs. In future years, the change is expected to increase the number of middle-class parents who take on the staggering time and financial commitments of a campaign. Because the FEC decision came just six months before Election Day, it is too early to tell if that will be the case. But the candidates who reported babysitting expenses this cycle provide the first indication of the difference it will make.

Manafort’s Lawyer Said to Brief Trump Attorneys on What He Told Mueller
MSN – Michael Schmidt, Sharon LaFraniere, and Maggie Haberman (New York Times) | Published: 11/27/2018

Former Trump campaign chairperson Paul Manafort’s attorney repeatedly spoke with the president’s lawyers about discussions with federal investigators after Manafort agreed to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller. Rudy Giuliani, who represents Trump in the special counsel’s investigation, said Manafort’s lawyer, Kevin Downing, relayed that investigators pressed Manafort on what Trump knew about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between campaign associates and a Russian lawyer who had promised dirt on Hillary Clinton. Trump’s legal team has maintained a joint defense agreement with witnesses in Mueller’s investigations, including Manafort. But it is uncommon for those agreements to continue after a witness reaches a plea agreement with prosecutors.

From the States and Municipalities:

Alaska: Judges Open Door Wider for Out-of-State Money in Alaska Elections
Anchorage Daily News – James Brooks | Published: 11/27/2018

A federal appeals court panel ruled Alaska’s limit on what nonresidents can contribute to candidates is unconstitutional. But the three-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld other donation limits it said were tailored to prevent corruption or the appearance of corruption. The judges upheld limits on contributions made by individuals to candidates and groups that are not political parties. They also upheld caps on the total amount a political party can give municipal candidates. The majority found the aggregate limit on what candidates can get from nonresidents violates the First Amendment. The opinion says states must show limits fight potential corruption and can’t simply go after “undue influence.”

District of Columbia: D.C. Council Approves Sweeping Reforms to Combat ‘Pay-to-Play’ Politics
Washington Post – Peter Jamison | Published: 11/20/2018

The District of Columbia Council gave preliminary approval to new campaign finance regulations, including restrictions on government contractors’ political contributions, bringing a potential sea change to a city that has witnessed repeated corruption scandals. The bill would ban campaign donations from firms and their top executives if they hold or are seeking government contracts worth at least $250,000. It would also give new authority and independence to the city’s Office of Campaign Finance, long viewed as a weak enforcer, and require increased disclosures from independent expenditure committees.

Maryland: Hogan Names Panel to Redraw Maryland’s 6th District, Despite Frosh Appeal of Court Order to Fix Gerrymandering
Baltimore Sun – Michael Dresser | Published: 11/26/2018

Gov. Larry Hogan created an “emergency” commission to redraw the borders of Maryland’s Sixth Congressional District, moving ahead on a new map despite state Attorney General Brian Frosh’s appeal of a federal ruling that ordered the redraft. Hogan signed an executive order creating a nine-person commission – made up of three Democrats, three Republicans, and three unaffiliated voters – to propose a new map. The governor’s decision puts the state on two paths in responding to the decision. As Maryland’s chief lawyer, Frosh is fighting to have the U.S. Supreme Court hear the case and rule before a new map is created. Meanwhile, Hogan, as chief executive, is pushing forward with an effort to comply with it.

Missouri: Court Ruling Could Force Everyday Missourians to Register as Lobbyists, Attorneys Say
Kansas City Star – Jason Hancock | Published: 11/29/2018

An appeals court panel ruled against a man challenging a Missouri law that places restrictions on unpaid political activists. Ron Calzone was testing the law that requires anyone attempting to influence lawmakers to follow the same rules as professional lobbyists. That means an individual would have to register as a lobbyist and file as many as 14 reports with the state each year. A panel of the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided the First Amendment does not shield citizen activists from these requirements or the penalties for noncompliance. The U.S. Supreme Court has not reviewed a lobbyist registration case since 1954’s United States v. Harriss, in which the court limited the reach of a federal statute to only cover “those who for hire attempt to influence legislation or who collect or spend funds for that purpose.”

Missouri: Parson Alters Lobbyist Gift Ban Rules Imposed by Greitens
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Kurt Erickson | Published: 11/20/2018

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson tweaked an order issued by his predecessor that could bring an end to a federal lawsuit over a ban on gifts from lobbyists. In a rewrite of an executive order issued by former Gov. Eric Greitens on the day he took office in 2017, Parson altered a section that prohibited executive branch employees from accepting gifts. The new wording, which adopts descriptions found in existing law, could allow groups like a Virginia-based law firm to distribute informational books to employees of the governor’s office.

New Jersey: ‘Dark Money’ Flows into NJ Politics and None of It Has to Be Accounted For
Bergen Record – Dustin Racioppi | Published: 11/26/2018

With the midterms over, New Jersey lawmakers will soon turn their attention to the 2019 legislative races. If recent history is an indicator, outside money will flood into the state as Democrats try to bolster their majority in the statehouse. And none of it has to be accounted for. This “dark money” is hidden from the public because New Jersey’s rules governing campaign finance have not been updated in years. That is despite a push from the Election Law Enforcement Commission to strengthen the state’s disclosure laws, a push that has been met with inaction by the Democratic-controlled Legislature. The result is a confusing patchwork of regulations that leave the state susceptible to massive amounts of “dark money.”

New York: Lawsuit Seeks to Block New York’s Sweeping New Lobbying Rules
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 11/28/2018

The New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) this year passed regulations overhauling the rules that cover the state’s lobbying industry. A lawsuit argues JCOPE lacks the authority to create the 92 pages of new regulations. The plaintiffs say those rules would unduly burden lobbyists and their clients and infringe on their free speech rights. The petitioners want to see the regulations struck down in state Supreme Court and are seeking an injunction disallowing JCOPE from enforcing them in the interim. While JCOPE’s staff have said the new rules largely codify decades of existing state ethics opinions, the regulations were meant to update New York’s lobbying rules, as modern lobbying campaigns emphasize the application of public pressure on lawmakers separate from more traditional person-to-person lobbying.

New York: N.Y. Democrats Vowed to Get Big Money Out of Politics. Will Big Money Interfere?
MSN – Vivian Wang (New York Times) | Published: 11/22/2018

A loophole in New York’s campaign finance law has for more than 20 years allowed corporations to create limited liability companies (LLCs) for the sole purpose of giving virtually unlimited amounts of money to candidates. Democrats, in their successful bid to recapture the state Senate for the first time in a decade, campaigned on a promise to close it. But even as they vowed to muzzle big money’s influence, they benefited from the same LLC contributions they were railing against. The corporations’ sudden generosity, and Democrats’ acceptance of it, has raised questions about whether lawmakers will make good on their promise to overhaul New York’s campaign finance system, or whether – now that they have consolidated control of Albany’s levers of power – they might prefer to bask in its perks.

Ohio: City of Columbus Proposes Campaign Finance Reforms
WOSU – Adora Namigadde | Published: 11/28/2018

Mayor Andrew Ginther and other Columbus officials unveiled a proposed campaign finance law that would limit annual individual and group contributions to $12,707.79 and require anyone running election ads to immediately disclose who paid for them. But members of a progressive group that often opposes the city’s Democratic establishment said they believe that limit is too high compared to other cities and are developing their own proposal with a much lower cap. The legislation also would require auditing of campaign finance filings to assure compliance.

South Carolina: Court Case Could Change How SC Statehouse Elections Are Funded
Charleston Post and Courier – Jamie Lovegrove | Published: 11/26/2018

Even before he won a special election to the state Senate in November, Dick Harpootlian landed a potentially game-changing blow to the way statehouse campaigns are funded in South Carolina. Inundated with television ads funded by the Senate GOP caucus, a group that includes all Republican incumbents, Harpootlian filed a lawsuit claiming the ads amounted to an excessive campaign contribution on behalf of his opponent, Benjamin Dunn. If Harpootlian ends up winning the full case, legislators and operatives believe it could have a dramatic impact on the way campaigns are financed moving forward, curbing the influence in elections from powerful party groups.

Tennessee: Mayor Briley Halts Public Works Contracts, Hires Compliance Officer Amid Questions Raised in Audit
The Tennessean – Joey Garrison | Published: 11/27/2018

Nashville Mayor David Briley halted five future Metro Public Works contracts for sidewalk, paving, and other capital projects amid questions raised in a recent audit about the department’s close relationship with a top engineering contractor. The administration also announced plans to hire the city’s first-ever chief compliance officer who will work in the mayor’s office to review ethics in the city’s procurement process. The moves come after it was reported that photos showed executives from Collier Engineering, which has won $48.7 million in Metro contracts since 2010, entertaining city officials inside a company suite at Bridgestone Arena during multiple sporting events this year. In several cases, the city employees did not appear to pay for the tickets, violating the ethics code on accepting gifts.

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