News You Can Use Digest - October 23, 2015 - State and Federal Communications

October 23, 2015  •  

News You Can Use Digest – October 23, 2015



Even with Rising Debt and Sinking Polls, Candidates Find Dropping Out Is Hard to Do
Los Angeles Times – Noah Bierman | Published: 10/19/2015

Over time, several presidential hopefuls with dwindling bank accounts and bottom-scraping poll numbers may be recapping the experience of Scott Walker and Rick Perry, the first candidates to quit the race. They will have to weigh the risks to their reputations, finances, and political futures of staying in the race versus getting out. History shows candidates are likely to push against the odds for as long as they can resist sober political facts. Some may prolong time in the campaign to advance a single issue, enhance a career in television, or set themselves up for a job in the next administration. They may time their withdrawal to raise the leverage of their endorsement or preserve their standing at home.

How Time Ran Out on Joe Biden’s Presidential Dream
Washington Post – Dan Balz and Paul Kane | Published: 10/21/2015

Vice President Joe Biden said he will not be a candidate for president. The announcement closes the door on one of the biggest potential challenges to Hillary Clinton’s second attempt at capturing the Democratic nomination. As the 2016 campaign took shape, Biden played coy about his intentions, never signaling clearly an interest in running but never saying he would not. With the Iowa caucuses on the horizon, Biden acknowledged the result of his protracted deliberations, saying a “window” had closed on “mounting a realistic campaign.”

‘Outsider’ Presidential Candidates Prove Competitive in Fund-Raising
New York Times – Nicholas Confessore and Eric Lichtblau | Published: 10/15/2015

In both the Republican and Democratic primaries, upstart presidential candidates shunned by their parties’ major donors are now financially competitive with – and, in some cases, vastly outraising – opponents who have spent months or years courting the big-name donors and fundraisers who have traditionally dominated the money race. The steady fundraising of outsider candidates, who have tapped into a network of smaller donors, suggests a financial paradigm shift in both parties, but particularly on the right, where candidates beloved by the Republicans’ socially conservative base have sometimes struggled to muster the financial resources to sustain a long-term campaign for the nomination.

‘Supermajority’ of House Freedom Caucus to Back Paul Ryan’s Speaker Bid
Washington Post – Mike DeBonis and Robert Costa | Published: 10/21/2015

A strong majority of anti-establishment conservatives in the Freedom Caucus voted to support U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan for House speaker, assuring he will have the votes to secure the post and averting a leadership crisis for Republicans. Ryan indicated he was prepared to seize the gavel and try to bring unity to his party, which has been riven over how House leaders exert authority over members. That fight had become so bitter that it forced the resignation of Speaker John Boehner and derailed the candidacy of Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy to replace him.

From the States and Municipalities:

Arizona – Public Disservice: Few punished in Arizona discrimination cases
Arizona Republic – Rob O’Dell and Craig Harris | Published: 10/15/2015

The Arizona Republic uncovered dozens of cases of sexual, racial, and age discrimination claims by state workers. More than half the employees said they were penalized by retaliation, the investigation found, while those accused of discrimination went virtually unpunished. More than one-third were actually promoted after their alleged actions, and more than 40 percent received pay raises following the settlements. Taxpayers shelled out more than $6 million from 2009 to 2014 to settle discrimination, harassment, or other workplace claims by 57 public employees from state agencies, universities, and courts.

Arkansas – Ex-Arkansas Senate Head Got $120K from Group
Arkansas Business – Claudia Lauer (Associated Press) | Published: 10/21/2015

The Arkansas Faith and Freedom Coalition paid Michael Lamoureux’s law firm $120,000 for “consulting” services in 2013, when Lamoureux was the Arkansas Senate president pro tempore. He left the Senate in 2014 to become chief of staff for Gov. Asa Hutchinson. The coalition’s website says it favors such things as “legislation that strengthens families … protects the dignity of life and marriage,” and lowers taxes on small businesses and families. It was unclear what type of consulting work Lamoureux’s former law firm did for the coalition. The Senate’s rules of conduct in 2013 explicitly prohibited senators from discussing or voting on issues that “will specifically relate to a business which employs the senator or in which he or she receives compensation as an attorney or consultant.”

California – ‘Behested Payments’ Let Private Groups Curry Favor with Politicians – New Law Will Limit Disclosure
KQED – Marisa Lagos | Published: 10/16/2015

Once they are in office, elected officials in California can use their clout to help raise cash for pet projects outside of state government. Gov. Jerry Brown has directed the bulk of his $30 million in behested payments to charter schools in Oakland. The amount they can raise for these private groups is unlimited, but officials must report when the donations top $5,000 from a single source in one year. In all, politicians have directed more than $120 million to private groups since regulators started requiring disclosure in 1997. Critics say the payments may go to good causes, but are simply another way for special interest groups – including corporations with business before state government – to curry favor.

New California Rules Meant to Deter Coordination in Campaigns
Sacramento Bee – Jim Miller | Published: 10/15/2015

Regulations approved by the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) effectively shifts the burden of proof in cases of suspected coordination in campaigns from the government to the candidate or outside spending committee. It puts them on notice if former aides or immediate family members go to work for an outside spending group involved in a candidate’s race, for instance, or a candidate raises money for an outside organization. It also would restrict the sharing of candidate-produced video and data. FPPC Chairperson Jodi Remke said the new rules address the growth in outside spending groups since voters approved contribution limits in 2000. Though donations directly to candidates are limited, the independent expenditure committees are allowed to raise as much as they want, as long as there is no coordination between them and the candidates who benefit.

Connecticut – Political Campaigns Rake in Cash despite Ban
The Day – Ken Dixon (Hearst Connecticut Media) | Published: 10/19/2015

Connecticut law prohibits those who do business with the state from contributing to the campaigns of politicians who could award or influence state contracts. But that has not stopped the flow of money from state contractors. An investigation into the Democratic State Central Committee’s federal account, which has no restrictions on who can contribute, shows it is filled with money from those on Connecticut’s banned contractor list. Watchdogs say the use of the federal account is simply a backdoor system of “pay-to-play.”

Missouri – A Few Hold the Political Purse Strings in Missouri
Kansas City Star – Jason Hancock | Published: 10/20/2015

More than 25 percent of all large campaign contributions in Missouri, defined by state law as any donation greater than $5,000, over the last five years were made by only 10 individuals and groups. Rex Sinquefield, a retired financier, has given $22.1 million since 2011 in large contributions. That is three times as much as the second largest donor. The cost of campaigning in Missouri has risen dramatically since the Legislature voted to abolish contribution limits in 2008. Republicans are benefiting the most, but Democrats are not shy about taking their share of five- and six-figure checks from donors.

New Mexico – Duran Proposes New Rules for Campaign Finance
Albuquerque Journal – Deborah Baker | Published: 10/17/2015

New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran is moving ahead with new rules governing campaign finance, even as she faces criminal charges for allegedly misusing her own campaign money. The advocacy group ProgressNow New Mexico said that Duran removing herself from the process is the only way voters will be confident the rules changes “are being made honestly and with the best intentions.” Some of the proposed rules were prompted by an elections bill passed in this year’s legislative session. Other rules have been in the works at Duran’s office for a couple of years in an effort to clarify existing law and get New Mexico in sync with federal court decisions.

Pennsylvania – Ethics Missteps Don’t Deter Pennsylvania Ex-LCB Officials
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review – Kari Andren | Published: 10/21/2015

Four former Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board officials who violated state ethics laws by accepting gifts from vendors now make regular appearances at the agency as employees and lobbyists for the industry they once regulated. State officials and lawmakers who leave government are required by law to wait a year before conducting business with former colleagues. Terry Madonna, a professor at Franklin & Marshall College, said the waiting period does not go far enough to curb the appearance that the former officials bring unfair influence gained in the public sector to their private work. “You and I know that doesn’t change the culture, doesn’t change relationships,” Madonna said.

Pennsylvania – Pittsburgh City Council Passes New Campaign-Finance Rules
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Robert Zullo | Published: 10/20/2015

The Pittsburgh City Council gave final approval to a series of campaign finance reforms. The bill makes the city’s contribution limits conform to the FEC standards, which are $2,700 for individuals and $5,000 for political committees per election. For the purposes of the limits, primaries and general elections are considered separate elections. The ordinance also bans “stacking” contributions, when candidates accept donations for the primary and general elections at the same time.

Wisconsin – Assembly Approves Splitting GAB into Elections and Ethics Agencies
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – Patrick Marley and Jason Stein | Published: 10/21/2015

Two controversial bills that would alter Wisconsin’s elections landscape faced an uncertain future in the Senate, even as Assembly Republicans put them on a fast track to passage. The Assembly for a bill to replace the Government Accountability Board with two separate boards with partisan appointees, as opposed to the current board, a panel of former judges. The other bill that would give state campaign finance law its most substantial overhaul in decades passed unanimously after Assembly Democrats recused themselves from voting. The campaign finance legislation would double contribution limits, allow corporations and unions to give money to political parties and key campaign committees, and permit candidates to work closely with advocacy groups that do not have to disclose where they get their money.

Wisconsin – Lawmakers Approve Bill Ending John Doe Probes of Political Crimes
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – Patrick Marley and Jason Stein | Published: 10/20/2015

The Wisconsin General Assembly passed legislation that prohibits prosecutors from using secret inquiries known as John Doe investigations to probe allegations of political crimes such as campaign finance violations or misconduct in public office, a method used twice by prosecutors to investigate Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign and his aides. Republicans supporting the legislation said it would provide a more transparent process of investigating and prosecuting political wrongdoing, while Democrats said the bills shield politicians from scrutiny and opens the door to corruption.

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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