October 16, 2015 •
News You Can Use Digest – October 16, 2015
The Gender Gap in Political Giving
New York Times – Jeremy Merrill | Published: 10/14/2015
Only about 30 percent of big donors to campaigns are women. The estimated gap in overall fundraising is even larger, because the average contribution from a man is much larger than the average for a woman. It is impossible to know from the way contributions are recorded by campaigns whether a political donation that officially comes from one person actually comes from a married couple. But the name on a political contribution still matters, for access to political figures and influence with them. In an era when big donors demand ever more access to potential future leaders, the gender gap in contributions contributes to a gender gap in political power as well.
Dennis Hastert Reaches Plea Deal in Bank Withdrawals
New York Times – Julie Bosman | Published: 10/15/2015
Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert will plead guilty to charges he lied to the FBI about making illegally structured bank transactions as part of an effort to pay hush money to someone he wronged in the past. With the plea agreement, Hastert may be able to keep embarrassing details about his past out of the public eye but it could mean serving time in prison. Hastert was indicted in a scheme in which he paid more than $1.7 million to conceal unspecified past misconduct to someone only identified as “Individual A.” While the indictment does not detail the wrongdoing, law enforcement officials have said the money was meant to conceal sexual misconduct committed against a male student when Hastert was a high-school teacher and coach.
Nonprofit Masks Source of Ads Backing Rubio
New York Times – Jonathan Martin and Nicholas Confessore | Published: 10/11/2015
Voters in states like New Hampshire and Iowa have been left largely in the dark about who is putting the most money behind U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s campaign for president. Of all the television advertisements aired in support of the senator so far this year, $5.5 million worth, none have been paid for by Rubio’s own campaign. Instead, the money has flowed through a nonprofit group called the Conservative Solutions Project, formed by a former Rubio aide and now overseen in part by a Republican strategist who is close to Rubio’s campaign manager. Unlike candidates and super PACs, the nonprofit, which has raised more than $18 million, will never be required to disclose anything about its donors. While all of Rubio’s competitors are supported by a super PAC, no one is relying on a secretive nonprofit for the bulk of its advertising.
The Families Funding the 2016 Presidential Election
New York Times – Nicholas Confessore, Sarah Cohen, and Karen Yourish | Published: 10/10/2015
Just 158 families, along with companies they own or control, contributed $176 million in the first phase of the presidential campaign. Not since before Watergate have so few people and businesses provided so much early money in a campaign, most of it through channels legalized by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. In marshaling their financial resources chiefly behind Republican candidates, the donors are serving as a kind of financial check on demographic forces that have been nudging the electorate toward support for the Democratic Party and its economic policies. Interviews and public documents reveal the donors are a class apart, distant from much of America while geographically, socially, and economically intermingling among themselves.
The GOP Sinks Deeper into Chaos. Can It Still Function as a Party?
Washington Post – Karen Tumulty | Published: 10/8/2015
Republicans are in an historic state of chaos. The most powerful force at work in the once-hierarchical GOP is anger, directed as much at its own leaders as anywhere else. First, a contingent of conservative House members effectively forced Speaker John Boehner to resign rather than face a possibly losing battle to hold on to his job. They also claimed House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who had been considered the favorite to replace Boehner until he announced he is dropping out of the race. With no obvious replacement for Boehner in sight, “it is total confusion – a banana republic,” said U.S. Rep. Peter King. Parallel currents of rage have been roiling the 2016 presidential race, diminishing hopes that an eventual nominee can bring order and direction to the increasingly dysfunctional party.
Through Executive Orders, Obama Tests Power as Purchaser-in-Chief
USA Today – Gregory Korte | Published: 10/11/2015
If there is one industry that has been disproportionately impacted by President Barack Obama’s executive orders, it is federal government contractors. Since becoming president, Obama has signed at least 15 executive orders and presidential memoranda aimed at contractors, dictating their hiring and firing practices, compensation policies, and working conditions. The White House is hoping that the orders send a message to the economy at large, and have an effect far beyond the public sector. But critics of Obama’s aggressive use of the executive order say the actions will kill off small businesses and may be unconstitutional.
From the States and Municipalities:
Alabama – Jarrod Massey: Looking for a second chance after prison in bingo case
AL.com – Charles Dean | Published: 10/11/2015
Former lobbyist Jerrod Massey recently completed a prison sentence for conspiracy and bribery stemming from the role he played in attempting to buy the votes of Alabama senators. He is now telling the cautionary tale of how big money and a bigger ego to join the relatively small club of the best lobbyists in Montgomery led him to do things that ultimately put him behind bars. Massey said he justified what he was doing because of the environment he saw around him. “I was aware legally I had crossed a line,” said Massey. “I’ve gone back and trust me, I spent many nights in a prison bunk examining really, where did I go wrong, where did that start?”
Illinois – Former Chicago Public Schools Chief to Plead Guilty to Bribery Scheme
Chicago Tribune – Jason Meisner and Juan Perez, Jr. | Published: 10/8/2015
Former Chicago Public Schools Chief Executive Officer Barbara Byrd-Bennett will plead guilty to charges she gave a no-bid $20.5 million contract to a former employer in exchange for future employment and a $250,000 kickback for two relatives. According to the indictment, Byrd-Bennett steered the contract to SUPES Academy, where she once worked as a consultant. Much of the indictment centers on emails sent between SUPES Academy co-owner Gary Solomon and Byrd-Bennett that seem to make no effort to conceal the alleged scheme. In one message, which she finished with a smiley-face emoticon, Byrd-Bennett implied she needed cash because she had “tuition to pay and casinos to visit.”
Iowa – Trial Begins for Veterans of 2012 Ron Paul Campaign
Washington Post – David Weigel | Published: 10/13/2015
A federal trial is set to begin in Iowa for two aides to Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign, Jesse Benton and Dimitri Kesari, accused of secretly paying a state lawmaker for his endorsement. Prosecutors say they concealed payments to former Iowa Sen. Kent Sorenson after he jumped from the Michele Bachmann campaign to the Paul campaign a few days before the January 2012 Iowa caucuses. Benton had to step away from the super PAC of U.S. Sen. Rand Paul in the wake of the indictment. Kesari, is simultaneously a suspect in a 2014 burglary at the home of a deceased Ron Paul campaign worker.
New York – Advance Group Fined $26k by Schneiderman, Campaign Finance Board
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 10/8/2015
A Manhattan lobbying firm was fined nearly $26,000 for improperly coordinating elements of the campaigns of two New York City Council candidates and expenditures by an animal rights group. The penalties stemmed from consulting work done by the Advance Group for Laurie Cumbo and Mark Levine, who were both elected to the council in 2013, and work done simultaneously for NYClass, an advocacy group that has pushed for a ban on the Central Park horse-carriage industry. The state attorney general’s office found NYClass used office space and staff members from the Advance Group and made expenditures on behalf of the campaigns of Levine and Cumbo. In August 2013, the New York City Campaign Finance Board warned that NYClass’s expenditures could not be considered independent.
New York – JCOPE Announces Amnesty Program for Some Lobbyists
Albany Times Union – Casey Seiler | Published: 10/13/2015
The Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) approved a plan for a six-month amnesty and compliance program to encourage lobbyists and clients of lobbyists who have failed to submit any required filings with the agency. To qualify for the program, applicants must not have previously been contacted by JCOPE for failure to comply with filing requirements and cannot have been the subject of a criminal proceeding related to a violation of the lobbying law. Among the requirements are that applicants would be required to file their reports going back from January 1, 2013 and to submit all applicable filing fees. This amnesty would not apply to “professional” lobbyists or established clients of lobbyists.
Ohio – Court Documents: A second Redflex executive pleaded guilty in bribery conspiracy
Columbus Dispatch – Doug Caruso | Published: 10/15/2015
Federal court documents outline how Redflex Traffic Systems Vice President Aaron Rosenberg worked with lobbyist John Raphael to get the company a contract in Columbus. Rosenberg pleaded guilty to making, and hiding, campaign donations to influence city officials from 2005, when the original red-light camera contract started, through 2013. He served a year on probation as part of a deal to help federal prosecutors. Raphael will plead guilty to one count of extortion. His plea agreement says he shook down Redflex officials for campaign contributions by threatening company officials with the loss of influence and contracts.
Ohio – Ginther among Those Being Investigated Over Trip to Big Ten Title Game
Columbus Dispatch – Lucas Sullivan | Published: 10/9/2015
The Ohio Ethics Commission is investigating Columbus City Council President Andy Ginther and three other current or former council members for a lobbyist-funded trip they took to the Big Ten Championship football game last December. Ginther, Eileen Paley, Shannon Hardin, and former council member Michelle Mills have been asked to submit records. Mills resigned earlier this year for failing to report the trip on financial disclosure forms. It was paid for by lobbyist John Raphael, who has agreed to plead guilty to extortion in the federal investigation of money that Redflex Traffic Systems funneled through Raphael to some Columbus elected officials. The council members paid $250 for the trip, but the fair-market value may have been $750. State law requires elected officials to disclose the difference in the cost paid compared with the fair market value, if the difference in the value is greater than $75.
Washington – Seattle Council Candidate Alleges Political Shakedown by Developer
Seattle Times – Daniel Beekman | Published: 10/12/2015
Seattle City Council candidate Jon Grant claims the developer of a project across from City Hall tried to shake him down, and a text message sent to former Mayor Mike McGinn reveals some of what went on. Grant claims Brett Allen, a senior vice president at Triad Capital Partners, approached him at a campaign event and asked for help settling a lawsuit brought by Grant’s former employer. Grant says he was told the payoff could be that a new political committee gearing up to spend heavily against him would go away. Then Allen sought to have McGinn broker a meeting with Grant, sending the former mayor a text message that spelled out the proposed quid pro quo. McGinn endorsed Grant recently.
Wisconsin – GAB Director to GOP Lawmaker Questioning His Relationship with Ex-IRS Administrator: ‘Have You No Decency?’
Wisconsin State Journal – Mark Sommerhauser | Published: 10/13/2015
State Sen. Chris Kapenga pressed the director of the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB), Kevin Kennedy, about his relationship with former IRS administrator Lois Lerner during a hearing on a bill to revamp the board. Lerner became a frequent target of conservatives after reports indicated the IRS targeted nonprofit tea party groups for additional scrutiny under her watch. A visibly angered Kennedy responded by accusing Kapenga of using McCarthy-like tactics in the effort by Republicans to dismantle the GAB. “Have you no decency?” Kennedy asked Kapenga. “I owe you no explanation about my friendships.” Democrats assailed the bill, saying the move could lead to the same sorts of legislative scandals that triggered the GAB’s creation eight years ago.
State and Federal Communications produces a weekly summary of national news, offering more than 60 articles per week focused on ethics, lobbying, and campaign finance.
State and Federal Communications, Inc. provides research and consulting services for government relations professionals on lobbying laws, procurement lobbying laws, political contribution laws in the United States and Canada. Learn more by visiting stateandfed.com.