News You Can Use Digest - November 6, 2020 - State and Federal Communications

November 6, 2020  •  

News You Can Use Digest – November 6, 2020


A Government Watchdog Says White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows Spent Campaign Funds on Personal Expenditures
Business Insider – Yelena Dzhanova | Published: 10/31/2020

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is calling for an investigation into White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows after accusing him of misusing thousands of dollars in campaign funds. CREW identified personal expenditures made by Meadows’ campaign after he resigned from Congress. On the same day as Meadows’ official resignation from Congress, his campaign spent $2,650 on jewelry in Washington, the complaint says. The campaign continued to use its funds after the former representative announced his retirement from Congress, spending over $6,500 at various restaurants and establishments, including at the Trump International Hotel.

Congressional Democrats’ High Hopes Dashed as GOP Clings to Senate Majority, Scores Unexpected Gains in the House
Washington Post – Paul Kane, Rachael Bade, and Seung Min Kim | Published: 11/4/2020

Congressional Democrats began a period of reckoning after another political debacle left them suffering losses to their House majority and clinging to a narrow path to Senate control, a stark contrast to the strong optimism of a “blue wave” that would repudiate President Trump and his allies on Capitol Hill.  In the highly anticipated ¬Senate matchups, Republicans scored easier-than-expected victories in Iowa, Kansas, Texas, Maine, Montana, and South Carolina while establishing narrow but steady leads in Georgia and North Carolina. House Democrats struggled to come to grips with how they managed to lose seats after Speaker Nancy Pelosi and party strategists predicted gains of 10 or more that would give them commanding control over the chamber. Instead, they appear to be headed to the smallest House majority in 18 years.

Cruz Fights to Get Back Money He Loaned Campaign
Courthouse News Service – Megan Mineiro | Published: 10/28/2020

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is calling on a federal court panel to strike down an FEC rule limiting post-election contributions to pay back money he loaned his 2018 campaign. Cruz gave two loans to his campaign in the last run for reelection. The donations totaled $260,000, $5,000 from his personal bank accounts and $255,000 originating from a loan on personal assets. But a campaign finance law caps the amount of money a campaign committee can repay a candidate for personal loans at $250,000. Cruz sued, accusing the FEC of limiting the First Amendment right to political speech for candidates, their campaign committees, and donors by setting a time limit on donations and on a candidate’s ability to spend personal funds for campaign speech.

Florida Businessman Pleads Guilty in Fraud Case Involving Giuliani Associates
Politico – Josh Gerstein | Published: 10/29/2020

A Florida entrepreneur is the first defendant to plead guilty in a campaign finance and business fraud case involving associates of Rudy Giuliani. David Correia pleaded guilty to two felony counts: one of making false statements to the FEC and one of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The case against Correia and three other men – Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman, and David Kukushkin – has drawn widespread attention because Parnas and Fruman worked closely with Giuliani on various issues related to Ukraine. The indictment says the men used foreign money to influence American political campaigns to benefit their business ventures and to encourage then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch’s ouster.

GOP Holds Line in State Legislatures, Dealing Blow to Democrats
The Hill – Reid Wilson | Published: 11/4/2020

Democratic hopes of claiming control of state legislative chambers across the nation crashed into an immovable Republican wall in key states, a substantial blow to the party’s chances of wielding more influence in the decennial redistricting process ahead.  Election results appear to show Republicans picked up enough seats to win control of at least two legislative chambers, the New Hampshire Senate and the Alaska House, where Republicans appear to be in a position to break a bipartisan coalition that ran the House for the last two years. Thousands of ballots are left to be counted, and Democrats still have a chance in Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.

How ActBlue Has Transformed Democratic Politics
Politico – Elena Schneider | Published: 10/30/2020

Democrats have buried Republican opponents under an avalanche of campaign ads, fueled by billions of dollars donated this year through ActBlue, the online fundraising processor for Democratic campaigns. Their wild success in 2020 has reshaped the way candidates not only raise money but campaign for office, building a culture of contributions as civic engagement that has grown into an overwhelming force. Republicans have tried to match it, but they still lag behind. Amid all the once-in-a-lifetime features of this election, the explosion of online fundraising may be the one that truly transforms politics over time.

How the NFL’s Gridiron PAC Uses Influence in Washington
ESPN – Michael Rothstein | Published: 10/29/2020

In 2007, National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell, the son of a former U.S. senator, sought to strengthen the league’s political influence. He boosted lobbying efforts, increasing NFL expenditures to more than $1 million that year for the first time. He opened a Washington, D.C.-based office and hired Jeff Miller to be its first in-house lobbyist. A year later, with a $5,000 donation from Goodell and $2,500 from league employee Joe Browne, the NFL borrowed a play from Major League Baseball by starting its own PAC. Since then, the league has maintained the office, continued its work with lobbying firms and has exceeded seven figures in lobbying efforts every year except for 2017. It is on pace to do so again this year.

Mueller Investigated Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, and Roger Stone for DNC Hacks
BuzzFeed News – Jason Leopold and Ken Bensinger | Published: 11/2/2020

Prosecutors investigated Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, and Roger Stone for the hacking of Democratic National Committee (DNC) servers as well as for possible campaign finance violations, but ultimately chose not to charge them, newly released portions of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report reveal. Although Wikileaks published emails stolen from the DNC in 2016 and Stone, a close associate to Donald Trump, appeared to know in advance the materials were coming, investigators “did not have sufficient evidence” to prove active participation in the hacks or knowledge the electronic thefts were continuing. Prosecutors could not establish the hacked emails amounted to campaign contributions benefitting Trump’s election chances and felt their publication might have been protected by the First Amendment.

The FEC Says Jill Stein, Who Raised $7.3 Million to Recount the 2016 Election, Owes Them More Than $66,000 for Campaign Finance Violations
Business Insider – Charles Davis | Published: 10/29/2020

The Green Party’s Jill Stein raised millions of dollars to recount the 2016 presidential election, promising her donors, mostly liberals grappling with Donald Trump’s shock win in the Electoral College, transparency and direct democracy. But instead of verifying the outcome of the election, a majority of the $7.3 million that Stein raised for counting votes went to salaries for her core campaign staff, who were kept on for another three years, lawyers for Stein’s personal legal defense in the U.S. Senate’s Russia investigation, and tens of thousands of dollars in fines levied by the FEC. The Stein campaign is now out of money, still owing tens of thousands of dollars to the FEC for failing to disclose how it was spending donations.

Top FEC Official’s Undisclosed Ties to Trump Raise Concerns Over Agency Neutrality
ProPublica – Mike Spies and Jake Pearson | Published: 10/28/2020

Debbie Chacona oversees the division of the FEC that serves as the first line of defense against illegal flows of cash in political campaigns. Its dozens of analysts sift through billions of dollars of reported contributions and expenditures, searching for any that violate the law. The work of Chacona, a civil servant, is guided by a strict ethics code and long-standing norms that employees avoid any public actions that might suggest partisan leanings. But Chacona’s open support of President Trump and her close ties to former FEC member Donald McGahn, who went on to become the 2016 Trump campaign’s top lawyer, have raised questions among agency employees and prompted at least one formal complaint.

Trump Campaign Mounts Challenges in Four States as Narrow Margins Raise Stakes for Battles Over Which Ballots Will Count
MSN – Elise Viebeck, Robert Barnes, Tom Hamburger, and Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) | Published: 11/4/2020

President Trump’s reelection campaign said it would launch a legal blitz to try to halt vote-counting in Pennsylvania and Michigan, would seek a recount in Wisconsin, and challenged the handling of ballots in Georgia, threatening to draw out the final results of the White House contest. The campaign’s aggressive legal posture while the presidential race remains unresolved underscored how the close margins in key states have raised the stakes for litigation over which ballots will count. It comes after Trump, who has repeatedly made unsubstantiated claims of fraud in the election, pledged to get the courts to determine its outcome. Democrats said they were unfazed by what they said was legal posturing by the president’s campaign.

U.S. Supreme Court Hands Narrow Win to Black Lives Matter Activist Over Protest Incident
Reuters – Lawrence Hurley | Published: 11/2/2020

The U.S. Supreme Court sided with Black Lives Matter activist DeRay McKesson in his ongoing effort to avoid a lawsuit filed by a police officer injured during a 2016 protest in Louisiana triggered by the police killing of a Black man. The justices threw out a lower court ruling that had allowed the lawsuit to proceed and said more analysis was needed on whether state law allows for such a claim. The officer sued the Black Lives Matter organization and McKesson seeking monetary damages over an incident at protest in Baton Rouge. The negligence lawsuit argued McKesson should have known violence would result from his actions leading the protest, which was one of many around the country that year.


Canada Ethics Commissioner Clears Morneau of Accepting Gift from WE Charity
CTV – Joan Bryden (Canadian Press) | Published: 10/29/2020

Canada’s ethics watchdog cleared former Finance Minister Bill Morneau of failing to disclose a gift from WE Charity. In a letter to Morneau, ethics Commissioner Mario Dion said he accepts that the former minister “genuinely believed” he had paid for the entire cost of two trips he and family members took in 2017 to view WE’s humanitarian projects in Ecuador and Kenya. As soon as Morneau became aware last summer that WE had covered $41,000 worth of expenses for the trips, Dion says he reimbursed the charity. Morneau reimbursed the money shortly before testifying on the matter at the House of Commons Finance Committee in July.

Canada Ethics Committee Debates New Motion That Could Relaunch Study into WE Charity Scandal
MSN – Christopher Nardi (National Post) | Published: 11/2/2020

The House of Commons ethics committee is making a third attempt at examining conflicts of interest in the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, after two tries to probe Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s relationship with WE Charity each failed by one vote. The committee began debating a motion to study possible conflicts-of-interest and lobbying violations in relation to pandemic spending, and specifically the deal with WE Charity to manage a student volunteering program worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

From the States and Municipalities

Arizona After Waymo Moved Business to State, Ducey Pressed for Its Google Affiliate to Get a $24M, No-Bid Contract
USA Today – Craig Harris (Arizona Republic) | Published: 11/2/2020

Alphabet, best known as the parent company of Google, brought its Waymo subsidiary to Arizona to take advantage of Gov. Doug Ducey’s executive order that allowed self-driving cars to operate on public roadways in the state. When Arizona was looking for a new email and communication system, the Department of Administration, at the urging of the governor’s office, awarded a no-bid contract to Google. The deals follow a pattern. The Arizona Republic has found that either Ducey or his staff have been involved in at least a half dozen transactions in which the administration distributed contracts or financial rewards to businesses and nonprofit groups friendly to the governor. In turn, Ducey received campaign contributions from their employees or positive media coverage tied to the organizations’ actions.

Arizona Judge Won’t Delay Appointments to Arizona’s Redistricting Panel Despite Lawsuit
Arizona Daily Star – Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services) | Published: 10/29/2020

A judge declined to delay appointment of more members to Arizona’s Independent Redistricting Commission while she hears arguments about whether two of the nominees are legally qualified to serve. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Janice Crawford said the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments, which made the nominations, had a chance to investigate the backgrounds of all the applicants, including the two that top Democratic lawmakers contend are ineligible. Crawford said the Democrats are belatedly asking her to bring the process to a temporary halt and set aside constitutionally set deadlines for making appointments, which she is unwilling to do.

Arkansas 2 Issues on State Ballot Approved by Voters
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette – Michael Wickline | Published: 11/4/2020

Arkansas voters approved a constitutional amendment that will end lifetime term limits for state lawmakers. But they rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would have made it more difficult for citizen groups to qualify ballot measures for general election ballots and increased the voting threshold for the state Legislature to refer proposed constitutional amendments to voters.

California FBI Raids Compton Councilman’s Home, Baldwin Park City Attorney’s Office in Pot Inquiry
Los Angeles Times – Adam Elmahrek and Ruben Vives | Published: 11/3/2020

FBI agents served search warrants at the home of Compton City Councilperson Isaac Galvan and the law offices of Baldwin Park City Attorney Robert Tafoya, part of a federal investigation examining Baldwin Park’s dealings with cannabis businesses, according to sources. The raids come amid controversy over Baldwin Park’s approval of licenses for cultivation, distribution, manufacturing, and testing cannabis. In September, a former Baldwin Park police officer said in a sworn declaration he had received complaints from three cannabis operations alleging “questionable business practices, which included paying as much as $250,000 cash in a brown paper bag to city officials.”

Colorado Aurora City Council Passes Sweeping Campaign Finance Reform
Denver Gazette – Hannah Metzger | Published: 11/4/2020

The Aurora City Council passed a campaign finance reform ordinance, increasing transparency and limiting money in the city’s local elections. The ordinance limits donations from individuals and committees to $1,000 in at-large and mayor races and $400 for city council wards. It also bans contributions from “artificial persons” and increases transparency of donations and enforcement of regulations. The ordinance goes into effect on January 1.

Colorado Judge Denies Advocacy Group’s Attempt to Suspend Colo. Campaign Finance Enforcement
Colorado Politics – Michael Karlick | Published: 10/29/2020

A federal judge denied a conservative advocacy group’s request to halt campaign finance investigations against committees that advocate for or against ballot initiatives. Colorado law requires organizations whose major purpose is campaigning on ballot initiatives to register an issue committee if they have accepted or expended more than $200. Committees that accept or spend more than $5,000 in an election cycle must also disclose their donors and the nature of their spending. The Colorado Union of Taxpayers and the Colorado Stop the Wolf Coalition filed a complaint claiming the registration requirement was unconstitutional, and the First Amendment “gives all Americans the right to speak freely on matters of public concern without obtaining government blessing or fearing government penalty.”

Georgia DeKalb County Voters Overwhelmingly Vote to Empower County Ethics Board – Dan Wisenhunt | Published: 11/5/2020

DeKalb County voters on November 3 approved a reform measure affecting the appointment process for the county’s Ethics Board, giving an agency that had been hobbled for the last two years new life. The measure voters approved does not give the county chief executive officer an appointment to the board or give the CEO power to review the board’s policies and procedures. County employees can still take concerns directly to the board. The position of ethics officer remains intact with the power to investigate violations. The biggest change is the appointment process that undermined the board in 2018.

Hawaii Retired Hawaii Official Fined $5K for Accepting Free Meals
Associated Press News – Staff | Published: 10/29/2020

Tian Xiao, a former top examiner for the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, was fined $5,000 by the state Ethics Commission for accepting free meals from a vendor he oversaw. Xiao accepted about $654 worth of meals, including dinner for himself and his wife at the upscale Nobu Honolulu restaurant. Xiao allegedly violated the state’s gift law by accepting four meals from vendor Risk & Regulatory Consulting in August and October 2018 and July and September 2019, the commission said.

Indiana Indiana’s Speaker of the House Is Registered as a Lobbyist in New York City
Indianapolis Monthly – Adam Wren | Published: 10/30/2020

Indiana Speaker of the House Todd Huston is registered as a lobbyist for the College Board in New York City and has been since 2015, according to a review of public records, though Huston claims to have never actually lobbied on behalf of his employer. Huston was not aware of his registration status until within the last several weeks, and so did not disclose it to the Indiana House Ethics Committee. “I have not and do not lobby,” Huston said in a statement. “Additionally, at my request, there is an organizational firewall in place to ensure I am not involved in any of my employer’s matters involving the state of Indiana.”

Kansas Kansas State Parties Didn’t Disclose Which Candidates They’re Backing and Attacking
Wichita Eagle – Chance Swaim | Published: 10/30/2020

The Kansas Democratic and Republican party committees likely violated state campaign finance law by failing to disclose which candidates they are backing and attacking with more than $1.7 million in mailers this election cycle. Neither party has correctly reported its spending since 2010, when both parties clearly identified which candidates that they were boosting with campaign mail, a Wichita Eagle analysis found. In the past decade, both major state parties stopped reporting information that is required by state law.

Maryland Baltimore County Voters Move Toward Public Matching Fund for Candidates
Maryland Matters – Bennett Leckrone | Published: 11/5/2020

Preliminary election results showed voters signed off on creating an election fund that would match small donations for local candidates in Baltimore County, a measure advocates say would create fairer elections. The charter amendment would create a Citizens’ Election Fund system in the county, establishing a public trust that, starting in 2026, would match small donations for county council and county executive candidates. It also would establish a commission within the county that would determine details and provide for funding of the program. Participation would be voluntary for candidates.

Maryland Following Pugh Scandal, UMMS Seeks a ‘Fresh Start’ in Implementing Auditor-Recommended Ethics Changes
Yahoo News – Ben Leonard (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 10/29/2020

The University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) implemented dozens of recommendations from auditors relating to board governance and conflicts-of-interest a year after a high-profile scandal involving ex-Baltimore City Mayor and former system board member Catherine Pugh. Lawmakers asked the Office of Legislative Audits to investigate UMMS after it was reported that one-third of the 30-member board had contracts with the system, including Pugh. The system paid Pugh $500,000 for 100,000 copies of her “Healthy Holly” children’s books. Pugh later pleaded guilty to conspiracy and tax evasion charges related to the deal.

Mississippi Mississippi Approves Flag with Magnolia, ‘In God We Trust’
Associated Press News – Emily Wagster Pettus | Published: 11/4/2020

Mississippi will fly a new state flag with a magnolia and the phrase “In God We Trust,” with voters approving the design on November 3. It replaces a Confederate-themed flag that state lawmakers retired months ago as part of the national reckoning over racial injustice. Mississippi has been without a flag since late June, when legislators surrendered the last state banner in the U.S. that included the Confederate battle emblem. The rebel flag is widely condemned as racist.

Missouri Amendment 3: Effort to overturn Clean Missouri redistricting poised to pass narrowly
Springfield News-Leader – Austin Huguelet | Published: 11/4/2020

Missouri voters reversed changes they made to the redistricting process two years ago by approving Amendment 3. The 2018 reform created a new demographer position to draft districts aimed at producing more competitive elections and a Legislature better reflecting the statewide vote. Now, the old bipartisan commissions will be back in charge with appellate judges backing them up if they deadlock. Amendment 3 also bans all gifts to lawmakers from most paid lobbyists and reduces the amount an individual ccan donate to a Missouri Senate candidate’s personal campaign committee.

New Jersey Former Jersey City School Board President and Head of Re-Entry Organization Indicted by Feds
Newark Star Ledger – Patrick Villanova | Published: 11/2/2020

Sudhan Thomas, the former president of the Jersey City Board of Education and the ex-head of the city’s Employment and Training Program, was indicted on charges of embezzlement, money laundering, and fraud. Thomas is accused of embezzling $45,000 from JCETP, an organization receiving federal funds, as well as wire fraud and money laundering in connection with the JCETP theft. Thomas was also charged with wire fraud for embezzling money from his 2016 Jersey City school board campaign; wire fraud for embezzling money from his 2019 campaign; and bank fraud for stealing checks issued by and to another school board candidate’s campaign in 2018.

New York Judge Rules Sterne Agee Analyst Complicit in NY Pension Pay-to-Play Scheme
Chief Investment Officer – Michael Katz | Published: 11/3/2020

A federal judge ruled John Paulsen, a former managing director at Sterne Agee & Leach, aided and abetted a “pay-to-play” scheme involving the $216.3 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund. U.S. District Court Judge Paul Gardephe found Navnoor Kang, the pension fund’s director of fixed income, used his position to solicit and receive improper entertainment from Paulsen and Deborah Kelley, a registered representative at the firm. In exchange for the entertainment, Kang directed a “significant amount” of state business to Sterne Agee, which generated “sizable commissions,” Gardephe said.

New York State Elections Commissioner Held Another Role: Political party official
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 11/1/2020

About two months before Gregory Peterson resigned as a state Board of Elections commissioner last year, questions emerged about a potential conflict-of-interest. Since 2008, Peterson had served as one of two Republican-appointed commissioners on the four-person board, influential posts responsible for setting statewide elections policy and helping regulate candidates’ campaigns. Beginning in 2011, Peterson held another title: vice-chairperson of the Nassau County Republican Party, a political organization that works to elect GOP candidates on Long Island and is regulated by the Board of Elections. A provision of the Public Officers Law bars state government officials in policymaking roles from being an “officer, director, or board member of any party or political organization.”

North Dakota North Dakota Voters Reject Measure 2 by Wide Margin
Grand Forks Herald – Jeremy Turley | Published: 11/4/2020

North Dakota voters rejected a ballot measure that would have given the Legislature a say in the process of amending the state constitution. Currently, petitioners can gather about 27,000 signatures from North Dakota residents, place a constitutional measure on the ballot, and if it passes, a change to the constitution must be made. Under Measure 2, the Legislature would have gotten the authority to reject a voter-approved constitutional measure and send the measure back to a public vote for final approval.

Ohio 2 Ohio Political Operatives Plead Guilty in Bribery Probe
Associated Press News – Andrew Welsh-Huggins | Published: 10/29/2020

Jeffrey Longstreth and lobbyist Juan Cespedes pleaded guilty to racketeering charges involving the House Bill 6 scandal. Longstreth served as former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder’s political strategist. Cespedes worked as a lobbyist for FirstEnergy Solutions, the former subsidiary of FirstEnergy that owned two nuclear power plants in Ohio. Longstreth and Cespedes were among five men charged in what federal prosecutors called the largest “pay-to-play” scandal in the state’s history involving the passage of a $1.3 billion bailout of the plants. An FBI affidavit said Householder and lobbyists Neil Clark and Matthew Borges, as well as Longstreth and Cespedes, accepted more than $60 million in bribes from FirstEnergy and its subsidiaries over a course of three years to push House Bill 6 and fight off a ballot initiative.

Ohio Embattled Former Ohio House Speaker Easily Wins Re-Election
The Center Square – J.D. Davidson | Published: 11/4/2020

An indictment, an arrest, two guilty pleas, and a $60 million bribery scandal did not stop former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder from returning to the statehouse. Householder, who faced opposition only from four write-in candidates, easily won re-election in a wide-ranging district that covers mostly rural areas in central and eastern Ohio but also includes some affluent and growing Columbus suburbs. In July, the House voted unanimously to strip Householder of his speakership after a federal indictment that charged him with bribery and racketeering connected to House Bill 6, a nuclear energy bailout bill that provided billions of dollars for two Ohio nuclear power plants.

Oregon Oregon Opens Door for Campaign Finance Limits
OPB – Dirk VanderHart | Published: 11/3/2020

In a historic vote that presages the demise of some of the nation’s most permissive campaign finance rules, Oregon voters approved Ballot Measure 107. It amends the state constitution to permit campaign finance reform. The measure gives state and local governments the ability to enact laws that limit campaign contributions and expenditures and require their disclosure. It also would require political campaign advertisements to identify who pays for them.

Oregon Portland Man Files Complaint to Enforce Oregon’s 2006 Campaign Contribution Limits
Spokane Spokesman-Review – Hillary Borrud (Portland Oregonian) | Published: 10/30/2020

A Portland advocate for limits on political donations has filed a complaint with the Oregon Secretary of State’s office seeking to enforce a 2006 voter-approved campaign finance law that capped donations from any one individual at $100 for most races. Ron Buel’s complaint focuses on a recent $150 donation by May 2020 Portland City Council candidate Seth Woolley to Woolley’s own PAC, but the complaint could have vast implications.

Oregon Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s $150,000 Loan to His Own Campaign Wasn’t Illegal, City Auditor Says
Portland Oregonian – Everton Bailey Jr. | Published: 11/3/2020

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler did not violate election rules by loaning his reelection campaign $150,000, City Auditor Mary Hull Caballero announced a few hours before the ballot dropoff deadline. Hull Caballero noted while Portland voters in 2018 approved campaign finance restrictions that included a $5,000 limit on candidates making personal loans to their campaigns, the Oregon Supreme Court in April deemed expenditure limits violated the First Amendment.

Tennessee Tennessee Sen. Joey Hensley Put on Medical Probation for Unethical Opioid Prescriptions
The Tennessean – Brett Kelman | Published: 11/4/2020

A state medical board ordered professional probation for the medical license of Tennessee Sen. Joey Hensley, a punishment described by his attorney as “the death penalty” for Hensley’s decades-long career as a small town doctor. Hensley admitted to providing medical care and prescribing opioids and other controlled substances to several family members and a second cousin who was both his employee and his romantic partner. In some cases, Hensley did not document the prescriptions or take mandatory steps to prevent addiction or misuse.

Texas City Ethics Commission Wrestles with Access During Pandemic
Austin Monitor – Elizabeth Pagano | Published: 11/2/2020

In its previous, pre-pandemic incarnation, the Austin Ethics Review Commission met in a back room of City Hall that was often jammed full of commissioners, accusers, defenders, and occasionally, reporters. Since March, however, it has been much harder to follow the work of the body tasked with reviewing ethics violations by city employees. Unlike some other commissions, meetings have not been broadcast. And those curious about the commission’s activities were not given an option to listen in. So, anyone interested in what was going on had one choice: wait a few days, and then check for an audio recording of the meeting. It is a situation that commissioners are hoping to change.

Virginia In Va., Gun-Control Fight Gives Rise to Movement for County-Approved Militias
MSN – Gregory Schneider (Washington Post) | Published: 10/31/2020

Earlier this year, Campbell County’s board of supervisors officially recognized a self-proclaimed militia as an organization to “enhance the safety and security” of citizens and as a “barrier against a tyrannical government.” Bedford County followed suit and a similar resolution is being debated in Halifax County. Armed militia groups have formed throughout Virginia this year, an outgrowth of the “Second Amendment sanctuary” movement that swept county courthouses a year ago as a backlash against proposed gun control laws. Supporters say the militia members are simply citizens out to help their communities and the resolutions are symbolic, meant to send a message to Democrats who control state government that rural Virginia will not abide any efforts to restr5ict access to guns.

Wisconsin Wisconsin Republican Party Says Hackers Stole $2.3 Million
Yahoo News – Scott Bauer (Associated Press) | Published: 10/29/2020

Hackers have stolen $2.3 million from the Wisconsin Republican Party’s account that was being used to help reelect President Trump in the state. GOP Chairperson Andrew Hitt said the hackers manipulated invoices from four vendors who were being paid for direct mail for Trump’s reelection efforts as well as for pro-Trump material such as hats to be handed out to supporters. Invoices and other documents were altered so when the party paid them for the services rendered, the money went to the hackers instead of the vendors, Hitt said.

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