September 2, 2016 •
Federal: Addicted to Making Campaign Contributions? The Atlantic – Russell Berman | Published: 8/30/2016 U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders raised $231 million from more than 2.7 million donors in his campaign for president, depending on grassroots support rather than on wealthy bundlers. […]
Addicted to Making Campaign Contributions?
The Atlantic – Russell Berman | Published: 8/30/2016
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders raised $231 million from more than 2.7 million donors in his campaign for president, depending on grassroots support rather than on wealthy bundlers. A benefit of relying on small donations from a large number of backers is that a campaign can go back to them repeatedly before they hit the $2,700 limit for individual contributions. And the Sanders campaign, like most campaigns in the modern era, did so, sending a barrage of urgent pleas for donations in email blasts. The excessive donations point to flaws in how the Sanders campaign managed and communicated with his most passionate supporters. Many of his donors were simply unaware of the federal limits, or if they were aware, they assumed the campaign would prevent them from contributing too much. It did not.
Breitbart Rises from Outlier to Potent Voice in Campaign
New York Times – Michael Grynbaum and John Herrman | Published: 8/28/2016
Breitbart News, once a curiosity of the fringe right wing, is now an increasingly powerful voice, and virtual rallying spot, for millions of disaffected conservatives who propelled Donald Trump to the Republican nomination. Known for bashing the GOP establishment, Breitbart now finds itself at the center of the party’s presidential campaign. Its longtime chairperson, Stephen Bannon, was named campaign chief by Trump, whose nationalist, conspiracy-minded message routinely mirrors the Breitbart worldview. The site received its biggest billing yet in the form of a scathing condemnation. In a nationally televised speech, Hillary Clinton identified Breitbart as the Democratic Party’s leading media enemy, warning about a “de facto merger” between the Trump campaign and a news outlet that she described as racist, radical, and offensive.
Experts Poke Holes in Clinton Foundation’s Promised Donor Ban
The Hill – Jonathan Swan | Published: 9/1/2016
Ethics experts question the Clinton Foundation’s plan to avoid conflicts-of-interest during a Hillary Clinton presidency. The charity pledged not to accept foreign or corporate donations if she is elected. But watchdogs say it would be relatively easy for foreign governments or individuals to funnel cash to the foundation without the public being aware. It is not clear whether Chelsea Clinton would still raise money for the charity if her mother were to win the election. Bill Clinton has promised to step down from its board and stop fundraising if that happens. Assertions that donors to the charity got special access to Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state have dogged her campaign.
How One Donor Is Profiting Off the Trump and Sanders Campaigns
The Atlantic – Russell Berman | Published: 8/28/2016
Entrepreneur Randy Treibel has contributed about $25,000 in total to Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, more than any other person has given to both campaigns combined. But Treibel is not donating all this money out of devotion to these unlikely political insurgents – he is just trying to make a profit. He has been buying Trump and Sanders campaign merchandise in bulk and reselling it through his retail company on Amazon at a considerable markup. A Trump sign that costs $10 on his campaign website, for example, will sell for $35 on Amazon, Treibel said. And it is all completely legal under campaign rules. When asked why he did not bother to buy up Hillary Clinton stickers and signs, Treibel responded, “That stuff just doesn’t sell; nobody buys it.”
From the States and Municipalities:
Alabama – More Lawmakers (and Two Ethics Commissioners) Who Got Free Trips on Alabama Lenders’ Dime
AL.com – Kyle Whitmire (Alabama Media Group) | Published: 8/31/2016
The Alabama Lenders Association has amended its last two years’ of lobbying activity reports to include two trips where the organization paid for lodging, meals, and entertainment for numerous state lawmakers and other public officials. Records show the association hosted similar events in earlier years. But it did not disclose those earlier trips because it had not registered as a principal. Because the association had not registered and did not submit lobbying reports, it is impossible to tell which lawmakers it invited on those trips and how much it spent on them.
Alabama – Pro-Marijuana Group Challenges Alabama Lobbying Law
AL.com – Mike Cason | Published: 9/1/2016
The Institute for Justice filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Alabama law that requires all registered lobbyists to attend an ethics training class in Montgomery. The suit was filed on behalf of Maggie Ellinger-Locke and the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). It contends that the requirement unduly burdens Ellinger-Locke because she lives in Arlington, Virginia and works at the MPP headquarters in Washington, DC. The Alabama Ethics Commission denied Ellinger-Locke’s request to take the class remotely. “If a person wants to talk to an elected official about a matter of public policy, they shouldn’t have to take a government-mandated class; instead, the only thing they should need is an opinion,” said Paul Sherman, a lawyer for the institute.
Connecticut – Inside the Political Fundraising Game
CT Post – Ken Dixon, Angela Carella, and Neil Vigdor | Published: 8/28/2016
A dozen contractors barred from contributing to state political candidates in Connecticut gave almost $1 million to the Democratic Governors Association, which in turn funneled $3.9 million to a PAC supporting Gov. Dannel Malloy’s 2014 re-election campaign. The transfer of money, though apparently legal, effectively circumvented Connecticut’s clean election laws, which are intended to limit the influence of wealthy special interests on state government. Michael Brandi, executive director of the State Elections Enforcement Commission, said it is hard to ferret out the source of campaign cash if donors want to remain anonymous.
Illinois – Chicago Insider Who Took $2 Million in Bribes in Red Light Camera Scandal Gets 10 Years in Prison
Los Angeles Times – David Kidwell (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 8/29/2016
A former Chicago transportation official embroiled in a corruption scandal over the award of a lucrative contract for red-light cameras was sentenced to 10 years in prison. John Bills, who served as assistant commissioner at the Department of Transportation, was convicted on 20 counts, including fraud, bribery, conspiracy, and tax fraud for taking up to $2 million in bribes and gifts in return for awarding $100 million in red lights camera contracts. The contracts went to Redflex Traffic Systems in 2003. Bills was also ordered to pay the city $2 million in restitution.
Maine – Paul LePage, Maine Governor, Now Says He’s Not Quitting
New York Times – Jess Bidgood | Published: 8/31/2016
Facing pressure to resign after comments many called racist and a profanity-laced voicemail left for state Rep. Drew Gattine, Maine Gov. Paul LePage told reporters he will not be stepping down and will seek spiritual guidance. LePage had hinted that he would not finish his current term after facing intense criticism for his latest actions. His six years in office have been marked by controversy. Even as he fueled outrage among Democrats and angst among many moderate Republicans, his well of support, fed by voters who are drawn to his unfiltered political style, never seemed to run dry. But the events of the past week have led to a rupture in his own Republican Party.
Missouri – Audit Finds Senate Slush Fund for Lobbyist-Financed Meals
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Kurt Erickson | Published: 8/29/2016
Missouri lawmakers overall do a good job managing taxpayer funds, but are too generous with time off for staff and too willing to accept lobbyist money for meals, according to a pair of audits that also criticize legislators for secrecy. State Auditor Nicole Galloway said the Senate should close a bank account used to solicit lobbyist donations to buy meals for lawmakers. The audit says a House interim committee asked lobbyists for contributions to pay for a tour bus. The Senate says it will look for other ways to pay for meals, but it does not see a solution that will work. The House noted representatives failed this year to ban lobbyist-financed travel for lawmakers.
Nebraska – Panel Tells Embattled Nebraska Senator to Resign by Friday
ABC News – Grant Schulte (Associated Press) | Published: 8/29/2016
State Sen. Bill Kintner, who is ensnared in a cybersex scandal, was given another opportunity to resign before the Nebraska Legislature’s Executive Board determines possible action against him. Kintner was fined $1,000 by the state Accountability and Disclosure Commission after admitting to the online sexual encounter on a state-owned laptop with a woman. The woman, who is believed to have ties to an Ivory Coast crime syndicate, later threatened to expose the encounter unless Kintner paid her $4,500.
New York – Judge: Citizens United must disclose donor information to NY
ABC News – Larry Neumeister (Associated Press) | Published: 8/29/2016
A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit in which Citizens United sought to block New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman from enforcing rules requiring the conservative group to disclose more information about its donors. U.S. District Court Judge Sidney Stein said the attorney general did not violate Citizens United’s First Amendment rights by requiring registered charitable organizations to disclose names, addresses, and contributions of big donors before soliciting funds in the state. Citizens United is best known as the plaintiff in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that allowed unlimited independent spending by corporations and labor unions in election campaigns.
North Carolina – North Carolina Republicans Accused of Dodging Order to Fix Election Rules
New York Times – Michael Wines | Published: 8/30/2016
When a federal appeals court overturned much of North Carolina’s 2013 election law in July, saying it had been deliberately intended to discourage African-Americans from voting, it also tossed out the ground rules for this year’s elections in a critical swing state. In each of the state’s 100 counties, local elections boards filed new election rules with the state. Now, critics are accusing some of the boards, all of which are controlled by Republicans, of staging an end run around a court ruling they are supposed to carry out. Like the law that was struck down, say voting rights advocacy groups and some Democrats who are contesting the rewritten election plans, many election plans have been intentionally written to suppress the black vote.
Pennsylvania – State Not Tracking Lobbying by Marijuana Companies
Allentown Morning Call – Scott Kraus | Published: 8/25/2016
It is very difficult find out how much has been spent trying to tilt the playing field for a potentially lucrative but also controversial medical marijuana industry that is in its infancy in Pennsylvania. That is because there is no category for lobbyists or the principals they represent to report marijuana lobbying, and state officials have no immediate plans to add one. The lobbying detected in the state’s search for The Allentown Morning Call was reported under the “other” category, where filers wrote in medical marijuana. Many states’ lobbying disclosure laws are weak and fail to track lobbying by subject at all, according to the Center for Public Integrity.
Virginia – The Money Floods in When the General Assembly Gathers
The Daily Press – Dave Ress | Published: 8/28/2016
Virginia lawmakers received more than $227,000 in campaign contributions over the past five years during the days they were actively considering bills, many of which affected donors, a review of more than 100,000 contributions found. State law bans legislators and statewide officials from accepting political donations “on and after the first day of a regular session of the General Assembly through adjournment.” Senate Minority Leader Dick Saslaw accepted $5,000 from Anderson Financial on the first day of the 2016 session. Saslaw said he believes it is legal to receive donations on the morning of the first day of the session, since the Legislature formally convenes at noon.
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.
February 19, 2016 •
National: Sanders Supporters Like Chipotle, While Trump Fans Prefer Sonic Bloomberg.com – Tim Higgins | Published: 2/18/2016 Consumer data have traditionally been used by campaigns to better understand where they should invest their ad dollars, or which potential voters and donors […]
Sanders Supporters Like Chipotle, While Trump Fans Prefer Sonic
Bloomberg.com – Tim Higgins | Published: 2/18/2016
Consumer data have traditionally been used by campaigns to better understand where they should invest their ad dollars, or which potential voters and donors they should have volunteers call. Now, candidates are increasingly using the sentiment to figure out how to present themselves to voters. A survey by Resonate shows Bernie Sanders supporters are 82 percent more likely than the average American to eat at Chipotle, while Donald Trump fans are 111 percent more likely to grab a bite at Sonic. Marco Rubio’s backers are 141 percent more likely to have stayed at a Ritz-Carlton.
Snapchat Bets Big on Quick-Fire Approach to Campaign Coverage
New York Times – Nick Corasaniti | Published: 2/12/2016
Best known for photo and video messages that disappear soon after they are delivered, Snapchat is making a big bet by trying to break into the news business at a time when the industry is in turmoil. Developing a strategy for news coverage at a time when established newsrooms are struggling with the digital transition could be seen as a risky move, even for a booming technology company. But Snapchat has something that every other news organization is after: a loyal and active audience of more than 100 million users. Snapchat’s mission is to reinvent mobile storytelling through the most compelling and important story of the year – the presidential election – and it is already finding an audience, with more than one million viewers on every political story it has produced.
The Year of ‘Enormous Rage’: Number of hate groups rose by 14 percent in 2015
Washington Post – Niraj Chokshi | Published: 2/17/2016
For the first time in five years, the number of hate groups in the U.S. rose in 2015, according to a report from the Southern Poverty Law Center. Swelling numbers of Ku Klux Klan chapters and black separatist groups drove last year’s surge, though organizations classified as anti-gay, anti-immigrant, and anti-Muslim saw small increases, too. A creeping rhetoric of intolerance among politicians helped to normalize hate, the center argued. And while it singled out other presidential contenders, the center, which conservatives criticize for casting too wide a net, stated Donald Trump had “electrified the radical right.”
Battle over Scalia’s Replacement Already Spilling into Senate Races
Washington Post – Steven Mufson and Juliet Eilperin | Published: 2/15/2016
Advocacy groups are gearing up for a fierce political fight over President Obama’s pick to fill the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, and already the battle is spilling from the presidential campaign into some of the nation’s most hotly contested Senate races. Republicans have argued Obama should allow his successor to make the pick and they would block any attempt to confirm a new justice this year. One consideration that may force Republicans to recalibrate their strategy is the prospect of political damage to some of the embattled Senate incumbents up for re-election this fall. Democrats see a potential confirmation battle as an opportunity to put Republicans on the defensive and as a wedge issue that could help them retake control of the Senate.
Campaigns Secretly Prep for Brokered GOP Convention
Politico – Brett Schreckinger | Published: 2/15/2016
As Donald Trump and Ted Cruz divide up the first primaries and center-right candidates hammer one another in a race to be the mainstream alternative, Republicans are waging a shadow primary for control of delegates in anticipation of what one senior party official called “the white whale of politics”: a contested national convention. Should the first ballot fail to produce a nominee, the outcome of the convention will depend on results of the parallel primary now underway for the hearts and minds of delegates. Each state party has its own rules governing delegate selection, a process so steeped in nuance and legal ambiguity that there are multiple blogs dedicated to wading through it all.
DNC Rolls Back Restrictions on Lobbyist Donation
Washington Post – Tom Hamburger and Paul Kane | Published: 2/12/2016
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) has dismantled the last of its prohibitions on receiving contributions from lobbyists and PACs. The DNC opened the door to K Street donations earlier this summer, when it announced that lobbyists and corporate PACs would once again be allowed to contribute to the annual nominating conventions. With the DNC now accepting all lobbyist and PAC donations, it has reversed the policies that were adopted in 2008, when Barack Obama vowed to curb the influence of special interests in Washington.
Pope Francis Suggests Donald Trump Is ‘Not Christian’
New York Times – Jim Yardley | Published: 2/18/2016
Pope Francis suggested Donald Trump “is not Christian” because of the harshness of his campaign promises to deport more immigrants and force Mexico to pay for a wall along the border. Trump has also made inflammatory comments accusing Mexican immigrants of being rapists and criminals. Asked whether he would try to influence Catholics in how they vote in the presidential election, Francis said he “was not going to get involved in that” but then repeated his criticism of Trump, with a caveat. “I say only that this man is not Christian if he has said things like that,” Francis said.
From the States and Municipalities:
California – Coastal Chief’s Ouster Prompts Bill to Require Transparency between Lobbyists and Panel
Los Angeles Times – Dan Weikel and Tony Barboza | Published: 2/12/2016
Assembly members said they plan to introduce legislation to require people who lobby the California Coastal Commission to register with the state and disclose their clients with business pending before the land-use agency. Lawmakers contend the measure would close a loophole that exempts lobbyists on the commission level from reporting details of their activities to the public. They say their bill also would require lobbyists to report to the public the payments they receive from clients and how much they spend on lobbying for specific matters that come before the commission. Lawmakers said they are motivated by what they consider a lack of transparency surrounding the firing of commission Executive Director Charles Lester.
California – L.A. Ethics Commission OKs $47,000 in Fines for Lobbying Violations
Los Angeles Times – Emily Alpert Reyes | Published: 2/16/2016
The Los Angeles City Ethics Commission voted to fine two nonprofits more than $47,000 for failing to accurately report how much they had spent on lobbying. Both the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy and the Hospital Association of Southern California had registered employees with the city as lobbyists. Yet the two groups reported spending nothing on lobbying by those employees for years, even as they spoke up on a laundry list of issues at City Hall. The steeper fine imposed on LAANE – $30,000 for a dozen violations over three years – appears to be the highest for a lobbying violation that the Ethics Commission has ever imposed. The hospital group will pay $17,500.
Florida – Apopka’s Hired Lobbyist Not Registered to Lobby for City in 2014, 2015
Orlando Sentinel – Bethany Rodgers | Published: 2/11/2016
The city of Apopka paid $165,000 to Richard Anderson to lobby the state and federal governments on behalf of the city from late 2014 through 2015. But state records show there was no registered lobbyist for Apopka during that time period, either in Tallahassee or Washington, D.C. Anderson said he has not done any state or federal lobbying for Apopka because city officials never requested it. Dave Mica, chairperson of the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists, said Anderson is not a member of his organization and declined to comment on Apopka’s situation. Mica said there are industry standards for lobbyists. “It’s stated in our code of ethics that all members should diligently and vigorously advance the interests of their client and employer,” Mica said.
Massachusetts – FBI, IRS Raid Canton Law Office of State Senator Brian Joyce
Boston Globe – Milton Valencia, Astead Herndon, and Andrea Estes | Published: 2/17/2016
The FBI and IRS raided the law office of Massachusetts Sen. Brian Joyce. A person familiar with the investigation said the raid stemmed from recent stories in The Boston Globe detailing several ways in which Joyce allegedly used his position as a senator to benefit himself and his law practice. He is already under investigation by the state Ethics Commission and recently settled allegations of improper use of his campaign fund with Office of Campaign and Political Finance. Jerry Richman said he gave Joyce free dry cleaning for more than a decade starting in 1997. Richman, who owned Woodlawn Cleaners until 2008, said Joyce brought in $50 to $100 worth of dry cleaning almost weekly for years and did not pay.
Michigan – Lansing Power Brokers: Law firms, others strengthen their lobbying corps
Crain’s Detroit Business – Lindsay Vanhulle | Published: 2/7/2016
Lobbying is not just the work of traditional multi-client firms in state capitals. Some law firms with offices in Michigan are hiring more in-house lobbyists or forming other partnerships to handle meetings with legislators, prepare testimony for committee meetings, and build the relationships needed to help swing the pendulum in favor of their clients. The investment in lobbying is not without its critics, but nontraditional shifts in hiring, and consultants who serve as these behind-the-scenes dealmakers and educators, are a trend as clients seek to save money on litigation or influence policy decisions. Another motivation is to educate existing staff on legislative issues of the day.
New Mexico – Ethics Bill Appears Dead after Sponsor Ends Support
Albuquerque Journal – Dan Boyd | Published: 2/16/2016
The New Mexico Legislature abandoned efforts to establish a state ethics commission this year that would oversee the conduct of public officials, lobbyists, and contractors. A proposed constitutional amendment to create an independent ethics agency died in a Senate committee after requests were made to rein in the authority of the agency. The plan was an ambitious component of reforms proposed in response to a campaign finance scandal last year that led the resignation and jailing of former Secretary of State Dianna Duran. The House had voted in favor of creating the ethics commission.
Utah – Free Lunches Becoming More Rare for Utah Legislators
Salt Lake Tribune – Lee Davidson | Published: 2/15/2016
Utah lawmakers’ schedules these days generally include fewer free-meal events sponsored by special-interest groups than they used to. Many groups hoping to lobby the Legislature en masse seem to be shifting away from time-consuming lunches and dinners to receptions where legislators can drop in briefly. A likely reason is the Legislature changed its pay structure a few years ago to eliminate what had been a financial incentive to accept free meals. With that gone, many now tend to value quick events that do not consume too much of their time. But so many free breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snack breaks, receptions, and family events still exist that questions arise about whether they allow wealthy special interests to buy extra access and, perhaps, influence.
Washington – State: Food industry lobby engaged in ‘egregious’ money laundering in 2013 vote
Seattle Post-Intelligencer – Joel Connelly | Published: 2/17/2016
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson alleges the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) concealed the source of $11 million spent to fight a 2013 ballot initiative, and internal documents reveal how it was done. Ferguson is suing the GMA over a fund it set up to conceal food companies donating to the defeat of Initiative 522, which would have required labeling of all genetically engineered foods and seeds sold in Washington. Ferguson filed a suit against the GMA late in the campaign, after which the association agreed to register with the Public Disclosure Commission and provide information on donors, who turned out to be a “who’s who” of big food companies. The GMA decried what it called Washington’s “hopelessly vague disclosure law” and charged it “improperly burdens” the constitutional right of trade associations to participate in the state’s political process.
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.
July 2, 2014 •
In a statement released Tuesday, the Legislative Ethics Commission announced J. William Roberts has been named acting legislative inspector general. Roberts is a former U.S. attorney and served as legal counsel to former Gov. Jim Edgar. He will take over […]
In a statement released Tuesday, the Legislative Ethics Commission announced J. William Roberts has been named acting legislative inspector general.
Roberts is a former U.S. attorney and served as legal counsel to former Gov. Jim Edgar. He will take over for Tom Homer, who served 10 years following the creation of the position as part of the 2003 Ethics Act.
Roberts will be responsible for investigating complaints of rule violations, abuse of authority, and other forms of legislative misconduct.
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.