News You Can Use Digest - November 4, 2016 - State and Federal Communications

November 4, 2016  •  

News You Can Use Digest – November 4, 2016



Election Maps Are Telling You Big Lies About Small Things
Washington Post – Lazaro Gamio | Published: 11/1/2016

November 8 is the Super Bowl for election maps, when red-and-blue geographical representations of the U.S. fill the front pages of news websites by night and newspapers the next morning. This kind of map is common in almost every election: 50 states (and the District of Columbia), two colors, one winner. Despite its ubiquity, it is profoundly flawed. These maps say only one thing – some states are bigger than others. In a presidential election, how much bigger the state of Wyoming is than New Jersey is not relevant to the outcome, which is based on how electoral votes are apportioned. If you chart the states by electoral votes, a more accurate picture of which states will elect Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton emerges.

Why Sexual Harassment Persists in Politics
New York Times – Sheryl Gay Stolberg | Published: 11/2/2016

It has been 25 years since Anita Hill testified against Clarence Thomas before an all-male Senate Judiciary Committee, and propelled the term sexual harassment into the national spotlight. Once again, the nation is debating gender roles, amid a presidential campaign that features a woman, Hillary Clinton, who stands a chance of becoming America’s first female president, against a man, Donald Trump, who has been caught on a recording bragging about kissing and groping women whenever he wanted. Politics and Legislatures, like many other environments, remain rife with sexual harassment – and young people, including men, are particularly at risk, and still reluctant to speak out.


Abedin Tells Colleagues She’s in Dark About New Email Trove
Politico – Josh Gerstein | Published: 10/31/2016

Top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin has told people she is unsure how her emails could have ended up on a device she viewed as her husband’s computer, the seizure of which has reignited the Clinton email investigation. A person familiar with the inquiry said Abedin was not a regular user of the computer, and when she agreed to turn over emails to the State Department for federal records purposes, her lawyers did not search it for materials, believing none of her messages to be there. That could be a significant oversight if Abedin’s work messages were indeed on the computer of her estranged husband, Anthony Weiner, who is under investigation for allegedly exchanging lewd messages with a 15-year-old girl. So far, it is unclear what – if any – new, work-related messages were found by authorities.

Evan Bayh’s Private Schedule Details Ties with Donors, Lobbyists
CNN – Manu Raju | Published: 11/1/2016

Former U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh is running to win back his seat in one of this year’s marquee races. His internal 2009 schedule obtained by CNN shows how he maneuvered behind the scenes during one of the most consequential periods of legislating on Capitol Hill. The schedule provides a rare account of how Bayh privately engaged with fundraisers, lobbyists, and donors who had a keen interest on issues. At times, his own campaign fundraiser was sitting in on his meetings with donors in his official Senate office, the schedule says, raising potential conflict-of-interest concerns. The schedule lays bare a reality of Washington, that well-connected donors often get a private audience with a powerful member of Congress, a luxury most Americans cannot afford.

For Democrats, Anthony Weiner Makes an Unwelcome Return
New York Times – Maggie Haberman and Alexander Burns | Published: 10/30/2016

Anthony Weiner – the name became almost a curse word among Democrats over the past few days as the disgraced former congressman unexpectedly surfaced in the final stretch of the presidential contest. Weiner, who lost his seat after repeated episodes in which he sent lewd messages to women, is now under federal investigation for allegedly sending sexual messages to a 15-year-old girl. In that inquiry, the FBI seized a laptop that contained thousands of messages belonging to Huma Abedin, Weiner’s estranged wife and a top aide to Hillary Clinton. FBI Director James Comey said investigators will now review those messages. “It’s like one of those ‘Damien’ movies – it’s like every time you think he’s dead, he keeps coming again,” said the Rev. Al Sharpton.

How Politicians Hide Their Spending from the Public
Politico – Shane Goldmacher | Published: 11/2/2016

Donald Trump has leveraged an increasingly popular loophole for politicians seeking to outmaneuver the campaign finance system: routing their spending through consulting firms to obscure the ultimate destination of their dollars, keeping the public in the dark about facts as basic as who they are paying and how much they are paying them. Hillary Clinton has paid her digital firm more than $55 million through payments from her campaign and joint committee with the party, and provided no specifics on the firm’s ad-buying or other activities. At its most extreme, a candidate could theoretically hire a single firm to run their entire campaign and only disclose that one payment.

Sleeping Like the Enemy
Politico – Shane Goldmacher and Annie Karni | Published: 11/1/2016

Since the debut of her official campaign plane on Labor Day, there have been full weeks when Hillary Clinton has campaigned every day in swing states and returned to her home every night in between. In total, she has spent a little over half a dozen nights on the road. Instead of more efficient campaign trips, Clinton has prioritized ending her days in either her farmhouse in New York or her mansion in Washington. In a campaign of contrasts, it is one of the most striking similarities between Clinton and Donald Trump – two well-to-do New Yorkers who add hours of travel to their schedules, and thousands of dollars to their campaign expenses, in order to avoid sleeping in hotels.

The Residents in the Nerdiest Group House in Washington Want to Shake Up Washington’s Oldest Trade
Washingtonian Magazine – Michael Gaylord | Published: 10/30/2016

Since its debut, Quorum has cranked out the political charts and graphics that websites and blogs feast on. At the same time, the company has signed up a passel of heavy-hitter clients who pay into the six figures per year, with Covington & Burling, the United Nations Foundation, Toyota, the Podesta Group, the Club for Growth, and U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy among them. Quorum produces political intelligence for lobbyists and companies that monitor minute changes in policy. Its platform features bill tracking, social-media alerts, a searchable Congressional Record, and tools to connect and set up meetings with staffers.

From the States and Municipalities:

California – A $72-Million Apartment Project. Top Politicians. Unlikely Donors.
Los Angeles Times – David Zahniser and Emily Alpert Reyes | Published: 10/30/2016

Dozens of donors with direct or indirect connections to real estate developer Samuel Leung gave more than $600,000 to Los Angeles-area politicians as his $72-million project was being reviewed. Of those who donated, 11 said they did not give or do not remember doing so, raising questions about whether they were the true source of the money. Several donors said they could not recall basic information about their contributions, including why they gave and to whom. One donor said she was reimbursed for at least one conrtribution, a practice that is not permitted under the city’s ethics law.

Kentucky – Lobbyist Donations Aid Candidates Despite Law
Louisville Courier-Journal – Tom Loftus | Published: 10/31/2016

Those who lobby the General Assembly are forbidden by state law from making campaign contributions to candidates for the Kentucky House or Senate. But they are allowed to donate to state political parties, which this year have no higher priority than electing their candidates in the high-stakes races that will decide control of the House. And most major lobbyists are taking advantage of the opportunity.

Massachusetts – Law Firm ‘Bonuses’ Tied to Political Donations
Boston Globe – Viveca Novak (Center for Responsive Politics) and Andrea Estes | Published: 10/30/2016

The Thornton Law Firm in Boston commonly reimbursed the firm’s partners for their campaign contributions by awarding them bonuses. From 2010 through 2014, three partners donated nearly $1.6 million to Democratic Party fundraising committees and a parade of politicians. Over the same span, the lawyers received $1.4 million listed as “bonuses” in the firm’s records. Thornton said its donation reimbursement program was reviewed by outside lawyers and complied with applicable laws. Campaign finance experts said without reviewing the firm’s records, they cannot say the payback system breaks the law, but it raises numerous red flags.

Montana – Federal Judge Upholds Montana Campaign Disclosure Law
Montana Public Radio – Matt Volz (Associated Press) | Published: 11/1/2016

A federal judge upheld Montana’s campaign finance reporting and disclosure laws, rejecting arguments it unconstitutionally interferes with the free speech of groups that want to influence elections without revealing where they get their money or how they spend it. Montanans for Community Development, which had previously sued the state over its campaign finance laws, amended its lawsuit last year to challenge the Disclose Act. U.S. District Court Judge Dana Christensen knocked down each of the group’s arguments. Besides ruling the law serves an important government interest, the judge also rejected arguments it was overly burdensome to political committees and unconstitutionally vague on what constitutes a committee, expenditure, and contribution.

New York – Behind Closed Doors, Measures to Reform City’s Campaign Laws Raise Concerns
New York Times – Jim Dwyer | Published: 11/1/2016

Three years after elections revealed flaws in New York City’s campaign finance laws, the city council may be moving to fix some of the worst problems, but not without including a few changes that would benefit individual council members. Up to a dozen new bills are being shaped behind closed doors, and although no drafts have been released yet, word coming from the council has alarmed some of the city’s advocates for better and fairer elections.

Jim SedorState and Federal Communications produces a weekly summary of national news, offering more than 60 articles per week focused on ethics, lobbying, and campaign finance.

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