News You Can Use Digest - September 26, 2014 - State and Federal Communications

September 26, 2014  •  

News You Can Use Digest – September 26, 2014



Non-Candidate Spending Increases in State Elections

The Center for Public Integrity – Rachel Baye, Reity O’Brien, Kytja Weir, and Ben Wieder | Published: 9/24/2014

More than 90 non-candidate organizations have spent $55 million to shape races in 30 states, accounting for roughly 19 percent of state-level political ad dollars. Four years ago, such groups spent $50 million and made up only 12 percent of spending. That translates to about 30,000 more ads this cycle from the groups. The increase in spending by non-candidate committees can be traced, in part, to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizen United decision, which gave the green light to unions and corporations to spend unlimited funds on ads supporting or opposing candidates.

Secret G.O.P. Records Reveal Corporate Donors Paying for Access to Governors

New York Times – Jonathan Weisman | Published: 9/24/2014

A recent error by the Republican Governors Association (RGA) resulted in the disclosure of exactly the kind of information that political committees given tax-exempt status normally keep secret, namely their corporate donors and the size of their checks. The documents showed many of America’s most prominent companies had poured millions of dollars into the campaigns of GOP governors since 2008. One document listed 17 corporate members of the RGA’s secretive 501(c)(4), the Republican Governors Public Policy Committee, which is allowed to shield its supporters from the public.

Study: Major companies are increasingly disclosing their political spending

Washington Post – Tom Hamburger | Published: 9/24/2014

Top U.S. companies are reporting more details about their political contributions, according to a survey by the Center for Political Accountability. It scored 191 companies on a complex scale that tracked whether they disclose corporate donations to candidates, parties, or trade associations. The center has been leading efforts to require companies to disclose more about their spending. But the push has drawn criticism from business groups, who say more disclosures offer little of value to shareholders.

From the States and Municipalities:

Colorado – Federal Judge Rejects Citizens United Push to Avoid Disclosure Laws

Denver Post – John Frank | Published: 9/22/2014

A federal judge refused to issue an injunction that would have allowed Citizens United to air and advertise a documentary on Colorado politics ahead of the November elections without disclosing funding behind any advertising related to the movie. Citizens United argued it fell under protections for media and its “Rocky Mountain Heist” film did not constitute electioneering communications. Citizens United President David Bossie said his organization would appeal to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Connecticut – Rowland, Ex-Connecticut Governor, Is Convicted in Campaign Finance Case

New York Times – Alison Leigh Cowan | Published: 9/19/2014

Former Connecticut Gov. John Rowland, who resigned from office a decade ago in a corruption scandal, was convicted of federal charges that he conspired to hide payment for work on two congressional campaigns. Rowland served 10 months in prison for taking illegal gifts while in office, and now as a repeat offender faces the possibility of a much stiffer sentence. Rowland could have legally worked for a candidate’s campaign and received payment, had it been properly reported. But Rowland’s problem, as U.S. Attorney Christopher Mattei told the jury, was that candidates valued his experience but his criminal history made the association too risky to be revealed.

Georgia – New Ga. Lobbying Rules Still Allow State Legislators to Accept Lavish Summer Travel

The Tribune; Associated Press – | Published: 9/21/2014

An analysis by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows lobbyists spent more than $100,000 hosting lawmakers and state officials at roughly two-dozen summertime conferences. Many were held on the coast of Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina during June and July. That spending increased by about 35 percent from 2012, the year before state lawmakers adopted some limits on lobbyist expenditures. But the new law left open a loophole that still allows lobbyists to pay generously when lawmakers travel for work purposes.

Kentucky – Kentucky Election Finance Leader Retiring

WFPL – Phillip Bailey | Published: 9/19/2014

The Kentucky Registry of Election Finance announced that Sarah Jackson will retire as executive director on November 1. The registry appointed budget analyst Rebecca Feland as the interim executive director. Registry Chairperson Craig Dilger said a search for Jackson’s replacement will take several months. “Sarah has been a tremendous asset to the agency and a true professional as executive director; the agency is stronger for it,” said Dilger.

Maine – Gay Donors Missing History in Maine

Politico – Alexander Burns | Published: 9/22/2014

U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud, who is leading Maine’s gubernatorial race six weeks before Election Day, would be the first openly gay candidate ever to become governor of a state. Michaud has gotten to this point with little help from the wealthiest and most influential gay donors in Democratic politics. Some say it is an illustration of the short shrift progressive donors typically give to state-level elections, as well as Michaud’s own status as a new arrival within the gay political community.

North Carolina – North Carolina, in Political Flux, Battles for Its Identity

New York Times – Richard Fausset | Published: 9/22/2014

Unlike other Southern states, which have shifted decidedly rightward in recent years, North Carolina often seems like it is moving in both directions at once. Barack Obama shocked the political world by winning the state in 2008. Two years later, Republicans wrested control of both legislative houses for the first time in more than a century. In a tight race that could decide control of the U.S. Senate, it is Democrats who hold the advantage in registered voters. “It’s a place on the cusp – there’s really a battle going on for the soul of North Carolina,” said Marc Farinella, who was Obama’s 2008 campaign director in the state.

Rhode Island – Groups Challenge Proposed Changes for Those Lobbying Providence City Council

Providence Journal – John Hill | Published: 9/20/2014

Nonprofit groups criticized as burdensome a proposed lobbying ordinance in Providence that would expand disclosure requirements. They focused on one new rule that would define a lobbyist as someone who advocates for an organization or cause for 10 or more hours a year and is paid $2,500 or more for that work. The current standard is 25 hours a year and $2,500. Councilperson Samuel Zurier said a public hearing on the changes will be scheduled.

Rhode Island – Hearing Officer Rules That Corso Lobbied for 38 Studios Deal

Providence Journal – Katherine Gregg | Published: 9/19/2014

A hearing officer hired by the Rhode Island secretary of state’s office ruled attorney Michael Corso should have registered as a lobbyist on behalf of 38 Studios. Secretary of State Ralph Mollis launched the probe in the wake media reports that revealed no one from 38 Studios registered to lobby when a controversial deal to provide the company with state funds was being put together in the Legislature. A contract showed the company pledged to pay Corso $300,000 to interact with government officials, among other duties. The hearing officer set a deadline for Corso to file lobbyist disclosure reports for 2010, or pay a $2,000 fine.

Virginia – McAuliffe Unveils Ethics Panel to Restore Public Trust after McDonnell Convictions

Washington Post – Laura Vozzella | Published: 9/25/2014

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe laid out an ambitious agenda for ethical and political reform in the state, saying it is essential to restore the public’s trust in its government. McAuliffe appointed a bipartisan commission charged with recommending sweeping changes in the laws regarding gifts, campaign contributions, and public disclosure by state officials. The announcement comes less than a month after former Gov. Robert McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, were convicted of corruption.

Wisconsin – Federal Court Overturns Doe Ruling, Sends it Back to State Judges

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – Jason Stein, Daniel Bice, and Patrick Marley | Published: 9/24/2014

A federal appeals court removed an injunction halting an investigation into whether Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign illegally coordinated with conservative groups on fundraising and spending as he sought to overcome a recall effort. The decision by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit raised the prospect that prosecutors could eventually resume the investigation even as Walker is engaged in a tight battle for re-election. But now the matter returns to Wisconsin’s courts, where a state judge had in effect stopped the inquiry in an earlier ruling, saying he had found no basis for pursuing an inquiry into campaign finance violations.

Jim SedorState and Federal Communications produces a weekly summary of national news, offering more than 80 articles per week focused on ethics, lobbying, and campaign finance.

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