October 11, 2019 •
News You Can Use Digest – October 11, 2019
Bernie Sanders Says He Will Slow His Campaign Pace After Heart Attack
ENM News – Sydney Ember and Jonathan Martin (New York Times) | Published: 10/8/2019
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, in a striking concession for a leading presidential candidate, said he planned to slow down his pace on the campaign trail after suffering a heart attack, and acknowledged voters would likely consider his health when deciding whether to support him. Sanders’ remarks stood in contrast with comments in recent days from his campaign advisers, who have insisted the senator was neither changing course nor easing his trademark intensity as a result of the heart attack. Given Sanders’ influential role in the Democratic race, not only as a top candidate but also as a driving force in policy debates, his decision to pull back campaigning injects new uncertainty into the contest.
Bernie Sanders, Resting at Home, Announces Plan to Curtail Money in Politics
San Francisco Chronicle – Chelsea Janes (Washington Post) | Published: 10/7/2019
As U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders recovers at his home from a heart attack, his presidential campaign is pushing ahead without his typical frequent campaign appearances and trying to foster a sense of business as usual. The campaign released a plan to “get corporate money out of politics,” a proposal that would eliminate big-dollar fundraising for all federal elections, enact a constitutional amendment to declare campaign contributions are not speech, and take aim at the Democratic National Convention. The changes would undermine the fundraising approach of not only President Trump and the Republicans, but almost all of Sanders’s fellow Democratic candidates, too.
Bipartisan Senate Report Calls for Sweeping Effort to Prevent Russian Interference in 2020 Election
MSN – Craig Timberg and Tony Romm (Washington Post) | Published: 10/8/2019
A bipartisan panel of U.S. senators called for sweeping action by Congress, the White House, and Silicon Valley to ensure social media sites are not used to interfere in the coming presidential election, delivering a sobering assessment about the weaknesses that Russian operatives exploited in the 2016 campaign. The Senate Intelligence Committee, a Republican-led panel that has been investigating foreign electoral interference for more than two-and-a-half years, said in blunt language that Russians worked to damage Hillary Clinton while bolstering Donald Trump, and made clear that fresh rounds of interference are likely ahead of the 2020 vote.
DC Court Refuses to Overturn Campaign Finance Law
Courthouse News Service – Megan Mineiro | Published: 10/3/2019
A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected a bipartisan appeal from lawmakers to upend precedent on campaign finance law, upholding an earlier decision. The 2010 SpeechNow v. Federal Election Commission ruling held that certain PACs can collect unlimited contributions from both individuals and corporations with the caveat being that PAC activities are not made “‘in cooperation, consultation, or concert, with, or at the request or suggestion of” a candidate, campaign, or political party. “Since the purpose of this lawsuit is to challenge the D.C. Circuit’s 2010 SpeechNow decision, we look forward to now presenting the case to a court that is authorized to overrule SpeechNow, which the three-judge panel was not empowered to do,” said Ronald Fein, an attorney with Free Speech For People.
Donald Trump’s Longtime Business Connections in Turkey Back in the Spotlight
NBC News – Heidi Przybyla and Anna Schecter | Published: 10/9/2019
President Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops out of Northern Syria has drawn harsh rebukes from both Republicans and Democrats in Congress and raised alarm bells among America’s allies across the globe. While the president has defended the decision as part of his longtime promise to end U.S. military involvement in the region, even his staunchest supporters at home warned it has essentially given Turkey a green light for a major military offensive against the Kurdish minority there, a target of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The fact that Trump made his decision to remove the troops shortly after a phone call with Erdogan has raised alarm bells from policymakers, as well as government ethics watchdog groups who have long seen Trump’s extensive business interests as a potential area for conflicts-of-interest.
Elaine Chao Favored Kentuckians in Meeting with Officials Seeking Grants
Politico – Tanya Snyder, Tucker Doherty, and Arren Kimbel-Sannit | Published: 10/7/2019
In her first 14 months as Transportation secretary, Elaine Chao met with officials from Kentucky, which her husband Mitch McConnell represents in the Senate, vastly more often than those from any other state. In all, 25 percent of Chao’s scheduled meetings with local officials of any state from January 2017 to March 2018 were with Kentuckians. At least five of Chao’s 18 meetings with local Kentuckians were requested in emails from McConnell staffers, who alerted Chao’s staff members which of the officials were “friends” or “loyal supporters,” according to records. Some of the officials who met with Chao had active grant applications before the Department of Transportation through competitive programs and the emails indicate the meetings sometimes involved the exchange of information about grants and opportunities for the officials to plead their case directly before Chao.
Facebook’s Hands-Off Approach to Political Speech Gets Impeachment Test
ENM News – Cecilia Kang (New York Times) | Published: 10/9/2019
Facebook rejected a request from Joe Biden’s presidential campaign to take it down a video ad by President Trump’s campaign, even though CNN refused to air the ad, saying it made false accusations. In a letter to the Biden campaign, Facebook said the ad did not violate company policies. The social network recently announced that politicians and their campaigns had nearly free rein over content they post there. Even false statements and misleading content in ads, the company has said, are an important part of the political conversation. Facebook’s decision illustrates its executives’ resolve to stay out of the moderation of political speech, despite the use of the social network to spread disinformation in the 2016 presidential campaign.
He Was Trump’s First Fan in Congress. Now He’s a Felon.
ENM News – Vivian Wang (New York Times) | Published: 10/8/2019
The story of former U.S. Rep. Christopher Collins’s rise and fall – businessperson to congressional backbencher, then presidential cheerleader to felon – is a tale of money, politics, family ties and murky ethics. It is also the story of a man who rose to prominence by hitching himself to Donald Trump, and whose star then plummeted as quickly as it rose. Collins resigned his seat and agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and lying to federal investigators. He faces up to 10 years in prison, but prosecutors and defense lawyers have agreed to seek a sentence between 46 months and 57 months.
Legal Team Says It Represents a Second Whistle-Blower Over Trump and Ukraine
MSN – Annie Karni and Nicholas Fandos (New York Times) | Published: 10/4/2019
An intelligence official with “firsthand knowledge” has provided information related to President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine and is now protected from retaliation as a whistle-blower, lawyers representing the official said, confirming a second individual has come forward in the matter. Much is unknown about the official, who has been interviewed by the intelligence community’s inspector general but has not filed a formal complaint. But the individual has hired the same legal team as the first whistle-blower. That, and the claim of “firsthand knowledge,” suggests testimony that might bolster the impeachment case against Trump and further undermine one of his main defense claims: that the accusations against him are based on inaccurate, secondhand information.
Officials’ Texts Reveal Belief That Trump Wanted Probes as Condition of Ukraine Meeting
MSN – Karoun Demirjian, Rachael Bade, Josh Dawsey, and John Hudson (Washington Post) | Published: 10/4/2019
House investigators released numerous text messages illustrating how senior State Department officials coordinated with the Ukrainian president’s top aide and President Trump’s personal lawyer to leverage a potential summit between the heads of state on a promise from the Ukrainians to investigate the 2016 U.S. election and an energy company that employed Joe Biden’s son. The texts, which former special U.S. envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker provided investigators, reveal officials felt Trump would not agree to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky unless Zelensky promised to launch the investigations, and did so publicly.
Rick Perry’s Focus on Gas Company Entangles Him in Ukraine Case
ENM News – Kenneth Vogel, Matina Stevis-Gridneff, and Andrew Kramer (New York Times) | Published: 10/7/2019
When Energy Secretary Rick Perry led an American delegation to the inauguration Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, he suggested the names of Americans the new government might want to advise and oversee the country’s state-owned gas company. Perry’s focus during the trip on Ukraine’s energy industry was in keeping with a push he had begun months earlier and was consistent with U.S. policy of promoting anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine and greater energy independence. But his actions during the trip have entangled him in a controversy about a pressure campaign waged by President Trump and his allies directed at the new Zelensky that is at the center of the impeachment inquiry into Trump. That effort sought to pressure Zelensky’s government to investigate Trump’s rivals, including former Vice President Joe Biden.
‘Shadow Lobbying’ in Trump’s Washington
Center for Responsive Politics – Karl Evers-Hillstrom and Dan Auble | Published: 10/3/2019
The Center for Responsive Politics investigated several aspects of unreported lobbying and advocacy in Washington, D.C. The analysis indicated that undisclosed lobbying activities are common. When an individual engages in advocacy to influence public policy but does not register as a lobbyist, it is typically referred to as “shadow lobbying.” It is common, for example, that a top government affairs employee oversees lobbying activity but never actually registers under the Lobbying Disclosure Act by exploiting its various loopholes.
Silence on Big-Money Bundlers Bedevils Watchdog Groups
The Fulcrom; Staff – | Published: 10/9/2019
Some of the most prominent political reform groups have been pressing the presidential candidates for months to be transparent about who is helping them fill their campaign coffers. But they are getting hardly anywhere. The group put out another plea recently, urging all 19 Democrats remaining in the race, plus President Trump and his three Republican challengers, to “implement a system to regularly and meaningfully disclose information” about their so-called bundlers. Since the first request was sent, only one candidate has come close to meeting the coalition’s demands: Pete Buttigieg. He released a list of his two dozen bundlers in April, but it did not include how much money each had collected on his behalf.
Trump’s 2016 Campaign Was Run on a Shoestring. His Reelection Machine Is Huge – and Armed with Consultants.
Philadelphia Inquirer – Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Anu Narayanswamy (Washington Post) | Published: 10/8/2019
Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2015 had no pollster, rapid-response team, or fundraiser. A bare-bones staff toiled in a makeshift office at Trump Tower. His opponents vastly outspent him – and lost. But as president, Trump’s campaign machine has dramatically escalated, powered by a historically large fund of donations large and small that has given him a head start over the eventual Democratic nominee. The spending has also created a financial boon for a political-consulting class he once shunned. Beneficiaries of that money include a mix of experienced hands who have long been part of the GOP establishment and a newer crop of strategists who rode Trump’s coattails to a potentially lucrative career in presidential politics.
Two Business Associates of Trump’s Personal Attorney Giuliani Have Been Arrested on Campaign Finance Charges
MSN – Devlin Barrett and John Wagner (Washington Post) | Published: 10/10/2019
Two Florida businesspeople tied to President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph Giuliani were arrested on campaign finance violations resulting from a $325,000 donation to a PAC supporting Trump’s reelection. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were arrested on a four-count indictment that includes charges of conspiracy, making false statements to the FEC, and falsification of records. Parnas and Fruman were central to Giuliani’s efforts to get government officials in Ukraine to investigate business dealings by former Vice President Joe Biden and his son. The indictment, filled with allegations of political donations being made in secret for the benefit of foreign interests, only adds to the growing legal and political pressure on Trump and Giuliani as they try to fend off Democrats’ impeachment efforts.
US-Based Foreign Agent Bankrolled Ukraine President Zelensky’s DC Lobbying in Hopes of Ukrainian Government Job
Center for Responsive Politics – Anna Massoglia and Yue Stella Yu | Published: 10/7/2019
A little-known U.S.-based attorney, Marcus Cohen, quietly poured six figures into foreign influence operations for Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, hoping to be rewarded with a job in his administration. The new Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) records reveal previously unreported meetings with Trump administration officials and details of a six-figure lobbying campaign promoting Zelensky’s interests in the U.S. during the leadup to his election and now-infamous phone call with President Trump. Cohen’s FARA registration follows a request by the Justice Department. He has previously operated under the radar with little paper trail.
Warren Swears Off High-Dollar Fundraisers in Potential General Election
Politico – Alex Thompson and Elena Schneider | Published: 10/9/2019
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren said she will continue to swear off high-dollar campaign fundraisers in the general election if she becomes the Democratic presidential nominee, extending her self-imposed ban on the events beyond the primary and reversing an earlier statement. Warren had said earlier this year that she could do high-dollar fundraisers as the Democratic nominee in 2020 after swearing them off in the primary, to avoid “unilateral disarmament” against President Trump and the GOP. Campaign spokesperson Kristen Orthman clarified that Warren’s pledge would apply only to her presidential campaign, not to raising money for the Democratic Party or other candidates.
White House Declares War on Impeachment Inquiry, Claiming Effort to Undo Trump’s Election
MSN – Nicholas Fandos, Peter Baker, Michael Schmidt, and Maggie Haberman (New York Times) | Published: 10/8/2019
The White House declared it will halt all cooperation with the impeachment probe by House Democrats. In an eight-page letter, the White House said the inquiry into the Ukraine scandal was without merit, complained that President Trump has been denied his due process rights, and argued Democrats were intent on overturning the results of the 2016 election and influencing the 2020 contest. Trump’s decision to resist across the board is itself a potentially precedent setting move that could have far-reaching implications for the inquiry. Democrats believe it bolsters their list of impeachable offenses, adding the stonewalling of Congress to the tally, but it could also deprive them of crucial witnesses and evidence they might need to lodge credible charges against the president.
From the States and Municipalities
Alabama – Montgomery, Ala., Elects Its First African American Mayor After 200 Years
MSN – Meagan Flynn (Washington Pot) | Published: 10/9/2019
Making history, voters in Montgomery, Alabama, elected Steven Reed as the first African American mayor in the 200 years since the city’s founding. His victory reverberated well beyond Montgomery as many celebrated the milestone in a city remembered as both the cradle of the Confederacy and the birthplace of the civil rights movement. Montgomery, where about 60 percent of residents are black, was the first capital of the Confederate States of America, becoming a bastion of racial violence and discrimination in the Jim Crow era but also of protests and resistance in the civil rights era.
Alaska – New Rule Could Put State on Defense When an Alaska Governor Is Accused of an Ethics Violation
Anchorage Daily News – James Brooks | Published: 10/5/2019
Ten years ago, Sarah Palin announced she would resign as governor of Alaska. Explaining her decision, Palin gave a variety of reasons, including she felt financially and personally embattled by a host of ethics complaints. Under state law, she had to pay for her own legal defense. Under a proposed regulation now out for public comment, the state attorney general could direct the Department of Law to defend the governor or lieutenant governor if an ethics complaint is filed against them. The attorney general would have to state in writing that the defense is in the state’s best interest.
California – California Makes ‘Deepfake’ Videos Illegal, but Law May Be Hard to Enforce
The Guardian – Kari Paul | Published: 10/7/2019
California made it illegal to create or distribute “deepfakes” in a move meant to protect voters from misinformation but may be difficult to enforce. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation that makes it illegal to create or distribute videos, images, or audio of politicians doctored to resemble real footage within 60 days of an election. Deepfakes are videos manipulated by artificial intelligence to overlay images of celebrity faces on others’ bodies and are meant to make viewers think they are real. But the new law will face a number of roadblocks, said Jane Kirtley, a professor of media ethics and law, as political speech enjoys more protections in print and online than in broadcast.
California – Judge in Insurance Case Refuses to Change Ruling in Favor of Lara Donor
San Diego Union Tribune – Jeff McDonald | Published: 10/4/2019
For the second time in three months, a judge for the California Department of Insurance refused to change or reconsider his ruling in a workers compensation case, despite direction from Commissioner Ricardo Lara or his special counsel. The case involves a subsidiary of a company whose executives gave thousands of dollars to Lara’s campaign. It is at least the fifth time the department took positions in cases that benefited Applied Underwriters, an Oklahoma insurer whose California subsidiary sold what are called EquityComp policies, which have generated dozens of complaints to state regulators.
Connecticut – Partnership for CT Opens First Meeting to Public, but Transparency Questions Persist
Connecticut Mirror – Kathleen Megan | Published: 10/8/2019
The Partnership for Connecticut has invited the public to the first “organizational meeting” of its governing board, but it is unclear what portion of that meeting, or subsequent meeting, will be open, or what the board will be discussing. The new partnership and its board, a private, nonprofit organization created to carry out a public-private collaboration between the state and Dalio Philanthropies, has been the subject of controversy since lawmakers exempted it from state disclosure and ethics rules even though taxpayer money is being used in the endeavor.
Florida – Rosen Gonzalez Cleared in Ethics Probe After Accusation She Lobbied for Contractors
Miami Herald – Martin Vassolo | Published: 10/5/2019
The most recent ethics complaint lodged against Miami Beach Commission candidate Kristen Rosen Gonzalez was dismissed about four months ago, according to an investigative report. At issue was whether Rosen Gonzalez violated the county’s ethics code, which prohibits former city officials from lobbying the city within two years after leaving their position. The Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics & Public Trust concluded there was insufficient evidence that Rosen Gonzalez, a former city commissioner, had lobbied senior city staff on behalf of three businesses contracted to do flooding-related work for the city.
Kansas – Wichita Council Members Can Take Unlimited Gifts. It’s Not Like That Everywhere
Wichita Eagle – Jonathan Shorman and Chance Swaim | Published: 10/6/2019
A Wichita Eagle review of cities across the region found ethics codes that prohibit specific behavior by elected officials that would leave them open to improper influence. Some states even require local officials to receive ethics training. In Wichita, city employees can be fired for accepting gifts, travel, or meals from anyone doing business with the city. But those rules do not apply to the mayor and city council. Instead, council members are supposed to follow an ethics ordinance that forbids them from doing business with friends and clients, with enforcement left up to the council itself.
Maryland – Del. Tawanna Gaines, Longtime Md. Lawmaker, Charged with Federal Wire Fraud
Washington Post – Ovetta Wiggins and Erin Cox | Published: 10/7/2019
Maryland Del. Tawanna Gaines was charged with federal wire fraud, accused of using $22,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses. She abruptly resigned from the General Assembly. She is accused of defrauding her campaign account, Friends of Tawanna P. Gaines, by soliciting donations that were directed to a PayPal account that was not disclosed in state campaign finance filings. Court documents allege Gaines told donors the money would go to her reelection campaign and to help her maintain her leadership positions. Instead, she is accused of using the money for herself.
Minnesota – Minneapolis Arena Backs Off on Rally Security Costs after Trump Campaign Cries Extortion, Threatens to Sue
Washington Post – Colby Itkowitz | Published: 10/8/2019
After the Trump campaign threatened to sue a Minneapolis arena for passing along a large security bill from the city to cover costs of the president’s political rally there later this week, the venue withdrew the request. Minneapolis officials told the Target Center, where Trump is slated to appear, that it would be responsible for the $530,000 the city says it will need to beef up security for the visit. The Target Center planned to pass that bill along to the Trump campaign and said the campaign would have to pay or it could not use the arena. But after a day of angry tweets from the president, the campaign announced the arena will not be canceling the contract and the campaign will not be paying any additional fees.
Mississippi – 4 Louisiana Men Plead Guilty in Mississippi Bribe Scheme
AP News – Jeff Amy | Published: 10/3/2019
Four Louisiana men have pleaded guilty to conspiring to bribe Mississippi’s former corrections commissioner and trying to bribe a Mississippi sheriff. Michael LeBlanc Sr., Michael LeBlanc Jr., Tawasky Ventroy, and Jacque Jones each entered a guilty plea in federal court to one count of conspiracy. All four men say they paid former Mississippi Corrections Commissioner Christopher Epps a $2,000 bribe in 2014 and promised him future bribes to secure his help in influencing sheriffs, especially those with regional jails overseen by the state, to let them sell phone service and commissary goods to inmates. They also admit to giving Kemper County Sheriff James Moore $2,000 in casino chips in an unsuccessful attempt to bribe him.
Missouri – Mystery Money Tied to McKee Slips into Missouri Attorney General Race
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Jack Suntrup | Published: 10/3/2019
A St. Louis-based company that contributed to a committee supporting Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s election will not disclose anything about itself. The EC I Fund donated $10,000 to the MO Opportunity PAC, which was formed in support of Schmitt’s 2020 election bid. The contribution represents a fraction of the more than $670,000 the MO Opportunity PAC has secured this year, but it raises questions about whether the attorney general’s office can, or should, wall off Schmitt from cases that may involve EC I Fund officials, especially if the identities of those officials are unknown.
Nevada – LVCVA Board Bans Gifts as Part of Ethics Overhaul
Las Vegas Review-Journal – Jeff German | Published: 10/8/2019
Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) board members approved new ethics rules that ban members from accepting gifts and tighten controls over travel. The changes have come amid a media investigation that found excessive spending at the tax funded LVCVA and lax board oversight of gifts and traveling expenses. The move also came after prosecutors filed felony theft charges against three former LVCVA executives over the mishandling of $90,000 in Southwest Airlines gift cards bought by the agency between 2012 and 2017. The new policies remove a $400 limit on accepting gifts and no longer encourage board members to travel abroad on LVCVA business unless they have expertise that can assist staff on a trip.
Nevada – State Republican Party Chair Did Little Work for Second Job as Dental Board Lobbyist, Records Show
Nevada Independent – Riley Snider | Published: 10/6/2019
Michael McDonald in September won re-election to a fifth term leading Nevada’s Republican Party. But leading the state GOP is not the only job on McDonald’s plate. For the past year, he has worked as the lobbyist for the Nevada State Board of Dental Examiners, the seventh-largest occupational licensing board in the state, although public records raise questions about his work for the board. Since he was hired in May 2018 (beating out two established lobbying firms led by former lawmakers), records indicate McDonald has spoken at just one board meeting in that 16 months. Public records requests reveal his only written correspondence with the board since he was hired has been monthly invoices, a request for $3,428.57 every month. Lobbyists and lawmakers reported not interacting or seeing him during the legislative session.
New York – Federal Judge Rules Trump Must Turn Over His Tax Returns to Manhattan DA, but Trump Has Appealed
MSN – David Fahrenthold and Ann Marimow (Washington Post) | Published: 10/7/2019
A federal judge dismissed President Trump’s lawsuit seeking to block the Manhattan district attorney from obtaining the president’s tax returns as part of an investigation into hush-money payments during the 2016 campaign. That decision does not mean the tax returns will be handed over immediately. Trump appealed within minutes, and an appeals court put the case on hold until it can hear the president’s challenge. But the ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Victor Marrero was still a broad rejection of Trump’s precedent-shattering argument in this case. The president argued that, as long as he is president, he cannot be investigated by any prosecutor, anywhere, for any reason. Marrero said that was “repugnant” to an American ideal as old as the Constitution: that no person, even a president, is above the law.
North Carolina – NC House Speaker Suing Duke Energy
WRAL – Travis Fain | Published: 10/8/2019
North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore, who has power over whether bills live or die, is suing a company making one of the biggest lobbying pushes of this legislative session: Duke Energy. Moore is the lead attorney in a negligence case. A farmer was electrocuted when the sprayer boom on his tractor lifted into a power line. A lawsuit Moore filed on the family’s behalf argues that Duke’s line was too low. State Rep. David Lewis, who used to own a tractor dealership, is a paid expert witness in the case. Moore said he does not see a conflict-of-interest. He said Duke has not tried to curry favor with a settlement proposal as the company’s lobbying team works to pass Senate Bill 559, a potential major change in the way North Carolina sets electricity rates.
Oregon – Don’t Hire Your Relatives, Oregon Ethics Watchdog Tells Secretary of State
Portland Oregonian; Staff – | Published: 10/3/2019
Oregon’s ethics watchdog says Secretary of State Bev Clarno cannot hire her son, or any other family member, to perform paid work for her office without running afoul of the state’s conflict-of-interest law. Questions of nepotism arose after Clarno appointed her son, Randy Hilderbrand, to an unpaid volunteer role when she took over the office. Gov. Kate Brown appointed Clarno to replace Dennis Richardson, who died in February. While that may be the guidance for the secretary of state, Oregon legislators follow an entirely different rule. Oregon is one of the few states in the nation that allows lawmakers to hire family members. The Legislature passed a bill a decade ago providing lawmakers an exception to state anti-nepotism laws.
Pennsylvania – How Working Families Party’s Kendra Brooks Built the Biggest Independent Fundraising Machine in Philly Council History
Philadelphia Inquirer – Jonathan Lai and Sean Collins Walsh | Published: 10/9/2019
In her bid to win a Philadelphia City Council seat that has been held by Republicans for decades, Working Families Party candidate Kendra Brooks has drawn endorsements from high-profile elected officials and some unions, anger from the city’s Democratic establishment, and the backing of Philadelphia’s progressive movement. She has also raised a record amount of money for a third-party candidate. Beyond the total amount, Brooks’ fundraising is qualitatively different than that of most candidates.
Pennsylvania – The Amish Are the Target of a Republican Campaign to Drum Up Pa. Votes for Trump
Philadelphia Inquirer – Julie Zauzmer (Washington Post) | Published: 10/9/2019
Donald Trump won Pennsylvania in 2016 by a margin of less than 45,000 votes. The state is also home to 75,000 Amish people, most of whom do not vote. Two Republican political operatives are trying to convince the Amish to come out to the polls, where their votes might be influential. Their project, which started with billboards and newspaper ads urging Amish people to vote for Donald Trump, goes by the name Amish PAC. Amish people tend to align on policy with Republicans, who share their opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage. But making voters out of the Amish, who forgo technology like television and the Internet and who believe in the separation of their religious community from government intrusion, may be a steep goal.
Rhode Island – Grand Jury Probe Shines Spotlight on R.I. Speaker’s Narrow 2016 Campaign Win
Boston Globe – Dan McGowan | Published: 10/9/2019
Three weeks before the 2016 election, with Rhode Island House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello in a close race, his campaign had one last trick up its sleeve: an endorsement from Shawna Lawton, a little-known Republican who lost a primary to Mattiello’s general election opponent Steven Frias a month earlier. The campaign would mail the endorsement to thousands of voters in the district. Mattiello squeaked past Frias by 85 votes, and then he easily retained the speakership. But the details surrounding the endorsement mailer, including who paid for it and how it was arranged, have haunted Mattiello ever since. The state Board of Elections forwarded the case to the attorney general’s office, and now a grand jury has been convened to review whether anyone from Mattiello’s campaign broke the law.
Texas – The 2019 Texas Inauguration Cost a Record $5.3 Million. Where Are the Receipts?
Texas Tribune – Jay Root and Shannon Najmabadi | Published: 10/9/2019
The Texas Tribune filed a lawsuit seeking to discover what happened to the $5.3 million raised for Gov. Greg Abbott’s inauguration through ticket sales and donations from top lobbying firms, corporations and banks, wealthy businesspeople, and trade groups. The only accounting the inaugural committee has given came in its “final report” to the secretary of state’s office. In a one-page list of cash receipts and disbursements, the report gives 11 broad categories of expenditures. The Tribune asked the offices of the governor and lieutenant governor to help get basic information about the expenditures, such as who was paid to raise the money, the names of people or entities receiving large outlays, and which charities got donations. Most of those questions went unanswered.
Washington DC – D.C. Ethics Agency Failed to Probe Prominent Whistleblower Complaint, Audit Says
Washington Post – Fenit Nirappil | Published: 10/3/2019
The District of Columbia’s ethics agency mishandled a whistleblower complaint and has repeatedly failed to respond to city workers seeking guidance regarding ethics, according to a new report by city Auditor Kathy Patterson. The report found the Board of Ethics and Governmental Accountability failed to investigate a 2018 complaint from a whistleblower alleging city officials improperly steered millions of dollars to an affordable-housing developer with political connections, despite repeated attempts by the whistleblower and referrals from others in city government. The mishandling of the case appeared to be part of a broader pattern of dysfunction at the ethics board, Patterson wrote.
West Virginia – Supreme Court Won’t Intervene Over West Virginia Justices
AP News – John Raby | Published: 10/7/2019
The U.S. Supreme Court said it will leave in place a court decision that derailed the impeachment trials of three West Virginia Supreme Court justices accused of corruption. The case the high court declined to review was a decision by five acting justices of West Virginia’s highest court who ruled last year that prosecuting then-state Supreme Court Chief Justice Margaret Workman in the Senate would violate the state constitution’s separation of powers clause. The ruling in Workman’s case was later applied to also halt impeachment proceedings against two other justices who have since left the court.
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