News You Can Use Digest - October 28, 2016 - State and Federal Communications

October 28, 2016  •  

News You Can Use Digest – October 28, 2016

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National:

Insurers Give Big to Races Determining Their Regulators
Center for Public Integrity – Michael Mishak | Published: 10/20/2016

The insurance industry has pumped more than $6 million into political efforts to influence a dozen state races that determine who regulates the nation’s insurance companies. The giving is a critical part of a larger operation aimed at affecting the sleepy world of insurance regulation. A Center for Public Integrity investigation found a pattern of coziness between state insurance commissioners and the insurers they regulate, involving lavish dinners, corporate-backed trips to luxury resorts, and the implicit promise of industry jobs once commissioners leave office. Yet it starts with campaign contributions. Over the past decade, insurance companies and their employees were among the top political donors to commissioner candidates in at least six of the 11 states that elect regulators. And they are consistently among the top contributors to the two major political groups active in gubernatorial races.

Federal:

Brand Promotions Suggest Donald Trump Is Looking Past Election Day
New York Times – Maggie Haberman and Nick Corasaniti | Published: 10/26/2016

Time is running out on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, but his closing argument sounds as much about his business interests as his electoral ones. As Hillary Clinton and her surrogates fan out across the battleground states, Trump’s schedule has found plenty of room for self-promotion. His actions are a remarkable display of personal promotion by a presidential nominee, raising questions about whether Trump, who has lived by the mantra that “all publicity is good publicity,” is at least partly casting his eye past the 2016 race, and toward bolstering the brand that bears his name.

Clinton Sticks with Obama’s Strict Lobbying Rules – for Now
Politico – Anna Palmer and Andrew Restuccia | Published: 10/26/2016

Hillary Clinton’s campaign is limiting how federal lobbyists can work with the transition teams that are tasked with planning for the transfer of power at dozens of key agencies. The campaign’s policy operation, which is a separate entity from the transition team, continues to be the point of contact for companies, consultants, and lobbyists. It is an indication that Clinton is unlikely to abandon all of the lobbying restrictions imposed by President Obama. The transition operation’s ethics pledge mandates that transition officials recuse themselves from working on any issues on which they have lobbied in the past year. The rules also require transition staff who stay in the private sector to agree, for one year, not to appear before or seek to influence any federal agency they focused on during the transition.

For Some Conservative Female Pundits, This Election Has Been a Nightmare
Washington Post – Kelsey Snell | Published: 10/25/2016

In CNN’s green room, the conservative women saturating the cable network’s prime-time lineup this election season typically make small talk. But recently, the silence backstage can be deafening. Especially when the subject is Donald Trump and his behavior toward women. This painful debate plays out nearly every night in front of millions of viewers, and it has only gotten more graphic and personal since the release of a videotape depicting Trump boasting about groping women. For conservative women like S.E. Cupp, a Trump opponent, this election has become a nightmare. These women say they would rather be explaining why Hillary Clinton is a bad choice for president, but Trump is like an asteroid blocking out all of the sun that might shine in a normal election.

How Mega-Donors Helped Raise $1 Billion for Hillary Clinton
Washington Post – Matea Gold and Anu Narayanswamy | Published: 10/24/2016

Determined not to fall behind in raising money for her presidential bid, Hillary Clinton ramped up her appeals to rich donors and shrugged off restrictions that President Obama had imposed on his fundraising team. Even as her advisers fretted about the perception that she was too cozy with wealthy interests, they agreed to let lobbyists bundle checks for her campaign, including those representing some foreign governments, emails show. Top aides wooed major donors for super PACs, taking advantage of the leeway that campaigns have to legally collaborate with the groups on fundraising. The effort paid off. Together with the party and pro-Clinton super PACs, the Democratic nominee had amassed $1.14 billion to support her campaign by the end of September.

Judge Preserves Fattah Bribery Conviction, Overturns Other Parts of June Verdict
Philadelphia Inquirer – Jeremy Roebuck | Published: 10/21/2016

A federal judge rejected former U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah’s bid for a new trial, spurning arguments that a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision narrowing the legal definition of bribery would have changed the outcome of his case. U.S. District Court Judge Harvey Bartle III overturned Fattah’s convictions on four counts of fraud and falsifying records, but otherwise endorsed the jury’s conclusion that he had accepted bribes from wealthy supporter Herbert Vederman in exchange for official acts. The decision was one of the first to affirm a guilty verdict in a federal bribery case since the Supreme Court vacated the conviction of former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell, a ruling that legal experts feared would make prosecuting public corruption cases more difficult.

Want a Presidential Appointment? Step 1: Oppo research on yourself
Politico – Sarah Wheaton, Nancy Cook, and Andrew Restuccia | Published: 10/24/2016

More than a dozen people who expect, or simply hope, to be tapped by Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump have already reached out to top lawyers for help in sifting through their finances and business dealings in anticipation of being nominated to a top post in the next administration. This need for private professional help – before an election is even over and the confirmation process has begun – has spawned a small yet influential cottage industry within big Washington, D.C law firms of professional vetters, who can charge anywhere from hundreds of dollars to as much as $1,000 per hour to sort through a potential nominee’s convoluted finances, tax returns, or even old arrest records.

What Drives Donald Trump? Fear of Losing Status, Tapes Show
New York Times – Michael Barbaro | Published: 10/25/2016

The intense ambitions and undisciplined behaviors of Donald Trump have confounded even those close to him, especially as his presidential campaign comes to a tumultuous end, and he confronts the possibility of the most stinging defeat of his life. But in the more than five hours of conversations – the last extensive biographical interviews Trump granted before running for president – powerful driving force emerges: his deep-seated fear of public embarrassment. The recordings reveal a man who is fixated on his own celebrity, anxious about losing his status, and contemptuous of those who fall from grace. They capture the visceral pleasure he derives from fighting, his willful lack of interest in history, his reluctance to reflect on his life, and his belief that most people do not deserve his respect.

From the States and Municipalities:

California – California Politician Shows Little Remorse, Gets Prison Time
Sacramento Bee – Brian Melley (Associated Press) | Published: 10/21/2016

Former California Sen. Ronald Calderon, once the most powerful member of a politically influential family, was sentenced to 42 months in prison after he pleaded guilty in a federal corruption case. Calderon admitted he had accepted tens of thousands of dollars in bribes in return for official favors. He took $12,000 worth of trips to Las Vegas from an undercover FBI agent who posed as the owner of a Los Angeles movie studio seeking his support for film tax credits, though the legislation never passed. The agent hired Calderon’s daughter for a $3,000 a month no-show job and paid $5,000 toward his son’s college tuition. Calderon also acknowledged helping a hospital owner maintain a health care fraud scheme in exchange for hiring his son each summer over three years.

California – The GOP Dead Zone: You won’t find any Republicans to vote for in L.A. County
Los Angeles Times – Javier Panzar | Published: 10/26/2016

When 818,000 voters in Los Angeles County fill out their ballots this election, they will find themselves in strange political territory: the only Republican names they will see will be presidential nominee Donald Trump and his running mate Mike Pence. In this GOP “dead zone” – spanning parts of five congressional districts, five state Assembly districts, and one state Senate district – not a single Republican candidate made it on to the November ballot. This scenario is the result of California’s relatively new, voter-approved primary system in which the two candidates who finish with the most votes in the June election go on to the general election, even if they are from the same party.

New Jersey – Bridgegate Offers Peek at Trenton’s ‘Political Shop’
MyCentralJersey.com – Dustin Racioppi | Published: 10/24/2016

Since the lane closings on the George Washington Bridge in 2013, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and the private investigators his office hired, have maintained the Intergovernmental Affairs department led by Bill Stepien did not become politicized until after he left and turned over duties to Bridget Anne Kelly, who is accused of working with other officials to block access to the bridge as political retribution. But testimony and evidence in Kelly’s trial have contradicted those assertions and showed Stepien and his staff regularly mixing politics with policy, raising questions of ethics violations in the governor’s office and suggesting instances of quid pro quo.

North Carolina – Protests and Storms Make North Carolina’s Election Year ‘a Bizarre Experience’
New York Times – Richard Fausset | Published: 10/25/2016

There may be no other state with as much to sort through, or as much at stake on November 8, as North Carolina. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are in a tight battle there, one of the most contested swing states. The governor’s race between Pat McCrory and his Democratic challenger, state Attorney General Roy Cooper, may be the closest in the country, as well as being a sort of referendum on the state’s sharp right turn in recent years. And control of the U.S. Senate could be determined by an equally close race between U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, an incumbent Republican, and his Democratic challenger, Deborah Ross.

Pennsylvania – Kathleen Kane, Former Pennsylvania Attorney General, Is Sentenced to Prison
New York Times – Jon Hurdle and Richard Pérez-Peña | Published: 10/24/2016

Former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane was sentenced to 10 to 23 months in jail for illegally disclosing details from a grand jury investigation to embarrass a rival and lying about it under oath. She was also sentenced to eight years of probation by a Montgomery County judge who said Kane’s ego drove her to take down enemies and break the law. Kane feuded with Frank Fina, a former top state prosecutor. Seeking to undercut Fina, Kane leaked to The Philadelphia Daily News information about a grand jury investigation he had been involved in, a leak that would lead to the criminal investigation of her actions.

Pennsylvania – Kenney Amends Gifts Rules for His Staff
Philadelphia Inquirer – Claudia Vargas | Published: 10/27/2016

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney signed an executive order that expands restrictions on gifts to city employees working in the executive branch. His action updated the Executive Order on Gifts to specifically prohibit executive branch employees from receiving gifts from registered lobbyists. The new executive order creates some specific exemptions, including that employees can accept food, beverages, or entertainment at a reception open to the public for which no ticket or invitation is required. Another change is that a city employee may not receive a gift from a person who sought some action from that employee within the preceding 12 months. The order takes effect immediately.

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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