August 12, 2022 •
National/Federal Appeals Court Rules IRS Must Provide Trump’s Tax Returns to House Committee MSN – Harper Neidig (The Hill) | Published: 8/9/2022 The IRS must hand over former President Trump’s tax returns to a U.S. House committee, a federal appeals court […]
Appeals Court Rules IRS Must Provide Trump’s Tax Returns to House Committee
MSN – Harper Neidig (The Hill) | Published: 8/9/2022
The IRS must hand over former President Trump’s tax returns to a U.S. House committee, a federal appeals court ruled, dismissing a long-running legal challenge to block tax officials from complying with a request for the records from Democratic lawmakers. A three-judge panel for the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously with the Biden administration and the Ways and Means Committee, ruling against Trump’s arguments against the committee’s authority, his privacy concerns, and his claim that complying with the request would be unconstitutional.
DaVita Helped Craft New Bill to Fix ‘Loophole’ Left by Supreme Court Ruling, Documents Show
Yahoo News – Megan Wilson (Politico) | Published: 8/9/2022
Roughly two months after dialysis company DaVita lost a Supreme Court case involving insurance coverage for its services, Congress introduced bipartisan legislation that would be a boon for dialysis providers. Its language appears to be largely modeled from a proposal circulated by the company. The new bill would obligate health plans to cover dialysis the same way they do treatments for other chronic illnesses and, if enacted, would likely increase reimbursement amounts for companies like DaVita.
Facebook Bans Hate Speech but Still Makes Money from White Supremacists
MSN – Naomi Nix (Washington Post) | Published: 8/10/2022
Facebook has long banned content referencing white nationalism. But a plethora of hate groups still populate the site, and the company boosts its revenue by running ads on searches for these pages. The findings by the Tech Transparency Project illustrate the ease with which bigoted groups can evade Facebook’s detection systems, despite the company’s years-long ban against posts that attack people on the basis of their race, religion, sexual orientation, and other characteristics. Activists have charged that by allowing hate speech to proliferate across its networks, Facebook opens the door for extremist groups to organize deadly attacks.
FBI Arrests Former Puerto Rico Governor on Bribery Charges
MSN – Perry Stein (Washington Post) | Published: 8/4/2022
Federal law enforcement agents arrested former Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced, charging her in a bribery scheme that was allegedly aimed at financing her failed 2020 gubernatorial campaign. Officials said while Vázquez Garced was governor in 2019 and 2020, she allegedly took campaign donations from a banker, Julio Martin Herrera Velutini, and a former FBI agent, Mark Rossini, who was consulting for the bank. Herrera Velutini and Rossini allegedly paid more than $300,000 to consultants who supported Vázquez Garced’s campaign.
Former Health Minister Steve Brine Cleared of Lobbying Beach for Second Time in a Year Because No VAT Was Paid
Business Insider – Catherine Neilan | Published: 8/8/2022
A former United Kingdom health minister has been cleared of breaching lobbying rules for a second time in less than a year, because in both cases no value added tax was paid. Steve Brine, who served in Theresa May’s government until March 2019, messaged then-health secretary Matt Hancock about Remedium Partners. He was being paid £1,600 a month. Former ministers are banned from lobbying ministers for two years after their last day in office. The message was sent in March 2020, meaning his approach fell within the restricted period.
Get Ready for Many More Political Emails, as Federal Regulators OK Google’s Plan to Drop Spam Filters for Eligible Federal Candidates
MSN – Dave Levinthal (Business Insider) | Published: 8/11/2022
The FEC ruled Google could legally launch a pilot program for candidates that allows them to skirt email spam filters when raising money from, or otherwise communicating with, prospective voters and donors. Despite a torrent of public outrage preceding the vote, Google is now free to invite federal candidates to sign up for the email pilot program, which would amount to a free pass out of Gmail spam-box purgatory. The FEC had to decide whether Google giving some candidates a break from spam filters constituted an illegal in-kind political contribution.
Homeland Security Watchdog Previously Accused of Misleading Investigators, Report Says
MSN – Lisa Rein, Carol Leonnig, and Maria Sacchetti (Washington Post) | Published: 8/4/2022
The Homeland Security watchdog now under scrutiny for his handling of deleted Secret Service text messages from the attack on the Capitol previously was accused of misleading federal investigators and running “afoul” of ethics regulations while he was in charge of a Justice Department inspector general field office in Tucson. Separately, investigators found Joseph Cuffari broke ethics rules by referring law firms to the prisoner’s family, including firms where some of his close friends worked.
Maps in Four States Were Ruled Illegal Gerrymanders. They’re Being Used Anyway.
Eminetra.com – Michael Wines (New York Times) | Published: 8/8/2022
Judges in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Ohio have found Republican legislators illegally drew those states’ congressional maps along racial or partisan lines, or that a trial very likely would conclude they did. Judges in the past who have reached similar findings ordered new maps, or had an expert draw them, to ensure elections were fair. But a shift in election law philosophy at the Supreme Court, combined with a new aggressiveness among Republicans who drew the maps, has upended that model. This time, all four states are using the rejected maps, and questions about their legality for future elections will be hashed out in court later.
Mar-a-Lago Search Appears Focused on Whether Trump, Aides Withheld Items
MSN – Devlin Barrett, Josh Dawsey, Rosalind Helderman, Jacqueline Alemany, and Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 8/9/2022
In the months before the FBI’s dramatic move to execute a search warrant at former president Trump’s Florida home and open his safe to look for items, federal authorities grew increasingly concerned Trump or his lawyers and aides had not returned all the documents and other material that were government property, according to people familiar with the matter. Over months of discussions about whether documents were still missing, some officials also came to suspect Trump’s representatives were not truthful at times, sources said.
Simmering Threat of Violence Comes to Fore with Search of Trump Property
MSN – Hannah Allam (Washington Post) | Published: 8/9/2022
Within hours of the FBI search at Donald Trump’s Florida compound, Republican lawmakers, conservative talk-show hosts, anti-government provocateurs, and pro-Trump conspiracy theorists began issuing explicit or thinly veiled calls for violence. Extremist organizers have tried to hold on to the momentum they built in recent years by finding causes disparate factions could rally around. With each iteration, analysts say, the networks have grown more sophisticated and more violent. The search at Mar-a-Lago for classified documents is now presented as a tipping point, an existential threat to the country that true patriots must thwart.
The Newest Fad in Fundraising: Gold-level clubs for lobbyists
MSN – Haily Fuchs (Politico) | Published: 8/11/2022
An increasingly popular fad in campaign fundraising is access to small gatherings of politicians that lobbyists can purchase. Instead of brief face time with a lawmaker at a single event, lobbyists are offered the opportunity to develop almost a familial relationship with candidates over a series of them. Attendance at events often tops out at between 15 to 20 people, usually registered lobbyists. They were created to entice donations from individuals rather than corporate PACs. Lobbyists can, in turn, use their membership as a sell for potential new clients.
Voters Aren’t the Only Ones Feeling the Effects of Inflation
MSN – Kate Ackley (Roll Call) | Published: 8/5/2022
High inflation is not just a political messaging point to some candidates running for office. The cost of gasoline, travel, staff pay, printed materials, and food for events all affect the bottom lines of campaigns. Some say they are feeling the pinch of niner percent inflation and can relate to voters for whom rising prices is a top-of-mind matter in this year’s midterm elections. This period of high inflation will ripple into the next election cycle, too.
Who Is Scott Perry, Trump Ally and Lawmaker Whose Phone Was Seized by FBI?
MSN – Kim Bellware (Washington Post) | Published: 8/9/2022
U.S. Rep. Scott Perry’s cellphone was seized as part of the Justice Department’s criminal investigation into the use of fake electors to try to overturn President Biden’s victory. Perry is the first member of Congress known to have his phone seized as part of the probe into the attempt at the U.S. Capitol to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Perry did not say why investigators confiscated his phone and wrote in a statement that the contents of his phone are not the “government’s business.”
From the States and Municipalities
California – Anaheim City Council Votes to Investigate Itself Following FBI Corruption Probe
LAist – Jill Replogle | Published: 8/10/2022
The city of Anaheim will fund an independent audit of campaign contributions to former Mayor Harry Sidhu and current city council members following an FBI corruption probe that came to light in May. The council voted to hire the firm JL Group to carry out the investigation. Sidhu resigned after it became public the FBI is investigating him for alleged corruption in connection with the sale of Angel Stadium. The audit is intended to provide a measure of transparency after warrants revealed what the FBI called a “covert group” that wielded influence over city government.
California – DA Jenkins Pocketed Six Figures as Consultant for Nonprofit Linked to Boudin Recall Backers
San Francisco Standard – Michael Barba | Published: 8/8/2022
Brooke Jenkins did not just quit her job as a local prosecutor to volunteer for the recall against her former boss, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin. Newly filed records show she also collected more than $100,000 as a consultant for Neighbors for a Better San Francisco, a nonprofit that shares an address and virtually the same name as the organization behind Boudin’s recall but is legally a separate entity. Jenkins earned the salary in the six months before Mayor London Breed appointed her district attorney on July 8. During that period, Jenkins was volunteering as a spokesperson on the recall campaign.
California – Ethics Commission Blames City Union for Derailing Anti-Corruption Ballot Measure
San Francisco Standard – Mike Edge | Published: 8/10/2022
A ballot initiative that would have tightened up rules around gifts to public officials failed to make the ballot, and San Francisco ethics watchdogs are blaming a union representing city department heads. The Ethics Commission pointed the finger at the Municipal Executives Association in a recent letter, writing the union used the bargaining process to stall the proposed ballot measure past a key deadline. The measure sought to expand the definition of what would constitute a bribe, mandate disclosure of any relationships with city contractors, and add more comprehensive ethics training for city employees.
California – Force Multipliers: How one donor network is pushing the envelope on California campaign money
CalMatters – Ben Christopher, Alexei Koseff, and Jeremia Kimelman | Published: 8/4/2022
In the 2022 election cycle so far, the Govern For California network has donated more than $3 million to more than 110 candidates across California, the vast majority of the money going to those running for the state Senate and Assembly. Govern For California characterizes its 18 chapters as “force multipliers” that amplify the influence of its donors on state politics and government. The organization opposes what it regards as excessive sway of labor unions over state policy. Some experts questioned whether it is a way for its small cadre of wealthy donors to evade contribution caps designed to limit anyone from having outsized influence.
Colorado – In Crowded City Races, Denver’s New Fair Election Fund Will Face First Test
MSN – Joe Rubino (Denver Post) | Published: 8/9/2022
Overhauling Denver’s campaign finance rules was popular with voters in 2018. More than 70 percent of Denverites who cast ballots that year voted for Referred Measure 2E. The sweeping change ratcheted down contribution limits for candidates seeking every seat from mayor to the city auditor, banned direct corporate and union campaign donations, and established a fund to provide public financing for candidates who agreed to abide by even lower limits and other rules. Denver’s 2023 municipal election is inching closer and, finally, the city’s fair elections fund will come to bear on local races.
Connecticut – Larry McHugh to Replace Embattled CT Port Authority Official
MSN – Keith Phaneuf (Connecticut Mirror) | Published: 8/6/2022
House Speaker Matt Ritter selected a longtime business and education leader to replace one of the Connecticut Port Authority officials cited in a state ethics ruling. Lawrence McHugh will replace Donald Frost on the board of directors. Ritter said he was dismayed to learn that Frost was one of the officials at the quasi-public entity who had accepted illegal gifts from Seabury Maritime, a consultant hired to help find a developer for the state pier in New London.
Florida – DeSantis Suspends Elected Prosecutor Over New Abortion Law
Yahoo News – Anthony Izaguirre (Associated Press) | Published: 8/4/2022
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren pledging not to enforce the state’s new 15-week abortion ban and for supporting gender transition treatments for minors. Asked whether he is overriding the will of the voters by suspending their choice for prosecutor, DeSantis said Warren’s conduct has fallen “below the standard of the Florida Constitution” and that he has neglected his duty to state law.
Florida – Second Firm in Sunset Lounge Bid Disqualified for Improper Lobbying of West Palm Beach Mayor
MSN – Terri Parker (WPBF) | Published: 8/10/2022
There is a new twist in the continuing saga of who will operate the historic and newly renovated Sunset Lounge in West Palm Beach. The firm that was awarded the bid three weeks ago is now disqualified. The city’s procurement director said Mad Room Hospitality violated the terms of the Request for Proposal by contacting the mayor and a commissioner via email before the contract was executed. Vita Lounge LLC had also been disqualified for allegedly lobbying people on Facebook to support their selection and doing an interview on WPBF.
Hawaii – Campaign Spending Commission Investigates COVID Testing Company That Got Big City Contract
MSN – Rick Daysog (Hawaii News Now) | Published: 8/8/2022
The Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission is investigating one of the companies that was awarded a multi-million-dollar COVID testing contract by former Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s administration. The commission subpoenaed the bank records of two employees of Capture Diagnostics, which is part of a consortium awarded a $19.5 million emergency contract for the city’s testing program at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. The commission is looking at whether the company reimbursed the employees who gave a total of $10,000 to the Caldwell campaign.
Illinois – State Sen. Elgie Sims Approached in Federal Criminal Investigation into Alleged Influence Peddling by Body-Cam Company
Yahoo News – Jason Meisner and Ray Long (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 8/8/2022
Illinois Sen. Elgie Sims was approached in the spring by federal authorities investigating potential influence peddling involving a police body-camera manufacturer that hired the law firm where Sims works as a lobbyist. The ongoing probe involves Axon Enterprise, a law-enforcement technology company that hired law firm Foley & Lardner to lobby lawmakers in Springfield and Chicago. Sims is an “of-counsel” attorney at Foley, specializing in government affairs and public policy. Investigators are looking into whether Axon improperly tried to influence Sims in his official duties working on criminal justice legislation, which requires every police officer in the state to wear a body camera by 2025.
Indiana – Anti-Common Core Activist Failed to Register as Lobbyist for Rokita’s Office
Indiana Capital Chronicle – Leslie Bonilla Muñiz | Published: 8/9/2022
Erin Tuttle, a policy consultant and state contractor, mistakenly registered as a lobbyist for the city of Indianapolis rather than the state of Indiana. Tuttle and Chief Administrative Officer Larry Hopkins signed a two-year, $200,000 contract for research, analysis, and communications help for state Attorney General Todd Rokita’s office. Among Tuttle’s listed duties: “Contractor shall interact and communicate with legislators.” That set Tuttle up for a potential violation of Indiana law when she did not register with the Lobby Registration Commission.
Indiana – Two Ind. Officers Suspended After Arresting Man Thought to Be Anti-Police
MSN – Meryl Kornfield (Washington Post) | Published: 8/10/2022
Two Indiana officers were suspended after a courtroom revelation that police thought a potential town council candidate was anti-police and arrested him, stopping him from running for office. Franklin County Prosecutor Chris Huerkamp dropped charges that included drug possession against Trevin Thalheimer after an officer and witness recounted how Brookville police talked about Thalheimer. Huerkamp, who also did not pursue a rape charge police had investigated, said he was “disturbed beyond words” by the alleged police conduct and reported the incident to the Indiana State Police, which launched a criminal investigation.
Michigan – GOP Nominee for Michigan AG Named in Election Security Breach Probe
MSN – Rosalind Helderman, Emma Brown, and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) | Published: 8/7/2022
State police have been investigating efforts by supporters of former President Trump to convince Michigan clerks to give them access to voting software and tabulating machines, so they could examine them to prove fraud took place in 2020. Now, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is seeking the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the Republican nominee for her job, Matthew DePerno, after the investigation found evidence that he helped orchestrate an effort last year to gain unauthorized access to voting equipment.
Michigan – Super PAC Backing Tudor Dixon Hides Its Origins Despite Disclosing Donors
MSN – Simon Schuster (MLive.com) | Published: 8/10/2022
Michigan Families United hosted an appearance by Tudor Dixon, the Republican nominee for governor of Michigan, that became the basis for campaign ads in which it spent $2.5 million to air before the GOP primary. Michigan Families United spent more than Dixon’s campaign raised in total and more than 20 times what her campaign spent on advertising, but who is behind super PAC remains shrouded in secrecy.
Missouri – Missouri Prepping for New Rules on Campaign Donations by Businesses
St. Louis Post Dispatch – Kurt Erickson | Published: 8/4/2022
Missouri ethics regulators are preparing for a change in state law designed to allow some businesses to give directly to candidates. The law is aimed at stopping shell companies from pumping “dark money” into campaigns by requiring limited liability companies with a specific tax status to register with the state Ethics Commission. The commission released guidance on the new requirements and said it is developing a portal on its website for companies to register and for candidates to search whether a company has submitted the proper paperwork.
New Jersey – Disclosure Statements Provide Little Insight into Lawmakers’ Finances
New Jersey Monitor – Nikita Biryukov | Published: 8/8/2022
Members of more than 50 state boards, commissions, and committees in New Jersey, as well as high-ranking administration officials, must annually report their finances with greater levels of transparency than state lawmakers. Recent efforts to require lawmakers to disclose more about their finances have not gone anywhere. Experts in government and ethics say broader requirements would not only help the public know more about the sources of their state representatives’ income but would also boost public confidence in government.
New York – City Ethics Board Out of Business
Investigative Post – Geoff Kelly | Published: 8/8/2022
Last September, 140 people signed a formal complaint filed with the Buffalo Board of Ethics. The complaint alleged city workers, including police officers, were campaigning for Mayor Byron Brown on city time, using city resources. Almost a year later, there has been no response, not even an acknowledgement the complaint was received. The ethics board has not met in two-and-a-half years.
New York – Erie County Comptroller Seeks Answers on OTB Lobbying Expenses
Lockport Journal – Mark Scheer | Published: 8/9/2022
Erie County Comptroller Kevin Hardwick is asking more questions about the inner workings of Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. (OTB) and this time he wants to know why it is spending so much public money on Albany lobbyists. Hardwick said that following a review of the agency’s board meeting minutes dating back to 2014, his office found OTB has used 10 firms for lobbying and advocacy activities. The comptroller said the agency either paid or agreed to pay a total of $157,000 for such services in the first six months of 2022 alone. The letter about lobbying is the third one that Hardwick’s office has sent to OTB in less than two weeks.
New York – State Agency Made Key Reversal in Bid Process Won by Hochul Donor
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 8/5/2022
Medical Answering Services contended it could run New York’s medical transportation program for far less money than its rivals, a major factor when the company eventually won the competitive bidding. A competitor for the contract, Modivcare Solutions, says it learned a key, promised part of the process was not followed. Two months before the award was issued, Medical Answering Services’ founder, Russ Maxwell, hosted a campaign fundraiser for Gov. Kathy Hochul, one of many such events hosted by people with business before her administration.
New York – Trump Takes the Fifth
Yahoo News – Kelly Hooper (Politico) | Published: 8/10/2022
Former President Trump declined to answer questions during a deposition with the office of New York Attorney General Tish James, asserting his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Trump’s deposition came amid the office’s three-year-long investigation into whether the Trump Organization had misstated the value of assets on financial statements. The former president is also the subject of a parallel criminal investigation being conducted by the Manhattan district attorney’s office into whether he fraudulently inflated property values.
Ohio – Judge Scolds Ohio House Bill 6 Defendant for Posting Witness’s Social Security Card and Driver’s License Online
MSN – Andrew Tobias (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 8/5/2022
A federal judge admonished a former lobbyist accused in the Ohio House Bill 6 corruption matter for using his website to publish the personal information of a key witness in the case, including unredacted copies of his driver’s license and Social Security card. U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black said he found it “entirely incredible” that Matt Borges did not mean to post witness Tyler Fehrman’s information to his legal-defense website.
Ohio – Utility Regulator Accused of Taking a Bribe Helped Write Bill Targeting Watchdog
Ohio Capital Journal – Jake Zuckerman | Published: 8/5/2022
Ohio’s former top utility regulator, who was accused of taking a $4.3 million bribe, spent months helping write a sweeping energy bill that targeted a state watchdog agency that advocates for residential electric customers, records show. Emails from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio show its former chairperson, Sam Randazzo, conferred with the bill sponsor and helped draft legislative language. The bill would have limited the reach of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel and given often-hostile state legislators control of its board.
Pennsylvania – Posh Southwestern Pa. Party Spotlights How Lawmakers and Lobbyists Mingle Out of the Public Eye
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Mike Werechagin | Published: 8/7/2022
Pennsylvania is among a minority of states that places no limits on the value of gifts special interests can give legislators. Even members of Pennsylvania’s executive branch cannot accept gifts or meals under an executive order signed by Gov. Tom Wolf the day he took office. But the Legislature has blocked nearly every effort to limit the ability of special interests to shower lawmakers with dinners, drinks, and travel, or to give the public a clear picture of what their representatives and senators allow lobbyists to buy them.
Rhode Island – Inside the Political, Personal, and Legal Connections of the Tidewater Landing Soccer Stadium Deal
MSN – Brian Amaral (Boston Globe) | Published: 8/4/2022
When the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation’s board convened to consider appropriating $60 million for the Tidewater Landing soccer stadium project in Pawtucket, relationships between board members and outside interests sparked criticism. Law partners for the Commerce Corporation’s attorney are registered as lobbyists for the developer. A board member’s sister is trying to unseat the incumbent governor, who chairs the board. A Pawtucket city official who helped shepherd the deal through by working with the Commerce official who is now running for treasurer against the Pawtucket official’s fiancé.
Texas – Not a ‘Love Story’: Former Richardson mayor gets 6 years for accepting bribes, sex
MSN – Kevin Krause (Dallas Morning News) | Published: 8/4/2022
Laura Maczka, a first-time Richardson, Texas, mayor, accepted a string of favors, some sexual, from the wealthy developer, Mark Jordan, who became her lover and then her husband. She did what she could while on the city council to make sure he got the zoning he wanted for his planned apartments despite vehement resident opposition. Now the pair are headed to federal prison for their misdeeds in a public corruption case that spanned almost a decade and resulted in a city investigation and two salacious public trials.
Virginia – Virginia Official Lobbied for Gas Project His Agency Will Consider
Roanoke Times – Patrick Wilson (Richmond Times Dispatch) | Published: 8/5/2022
As one of eight gubernatorial appointees on the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, James Minor gets a vote on an anticipated permit request for a natural gas pipeline expansion near Petersburg. Public records show he has been lobbying elected officials to support the project; he and the company that wants to build it will not say if he was paid for the work. Public records show Minor emailed and called elected officials in Petersburg between February and May on behalf of a pipeline expansion project from TC Energy and its subsidiary, Columbia Gas Transmission.
Washington – Tim Eyman Forced to Sell House to Pay Campaign Finance Fines, Debts
Seattle Times – David Gutman | Published: 8/5/2022
Anti-tax initiative promoter Tim Eyman, who was found liable last year in Washington for “numerous and particularly egregious” violations of campaign finance law, has been forced to sell his house to help pay millions of dollars of fines and debt. The $900,000 in proceeds will go toward paying off the more than $5.6 million in sanctions and legal fees he owes the state and other creditors. A judge found Eyman enriched himself by laundering political donations, accepted kickbacks from a signature-gathering company, and secretly shuttled money between initiative campaigns and concealed the source of other political contributions.
August 11, 2022 •
Elections California: “DA Jenkins Pocketed Six Figures as Consultant for Nonprofit Linked to Boudin Recall Backers” by Michael Barba for San Francisco Standard Ethics National: “Facebook Bans Hate Speech but Still Makes Money from White Supremacists” by Naomi Nix (Washington […]
California: “DA Jenkins Pocketed Six Figures as Consultant for Nonprofit Linked to Boudin Recall Backers” by Michael Barba for San Francisco Standard
National: “Facebook Bans Hate Speech but Still Makes Money from White Supremacists” by Naomi Nix (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Who Is Scott Perry, Trump Ally and Lawmaker Whose Phone Was Seized by FBI?” by Kim Bellware (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “Ethics Commission Blames City Union for Derailing Anti-Corruption Ballot Measure” by Mike Edge for San Francisco Standard
Indiana: “Two Ind. Officers Suspended After Arresting Man Thought to Be Anti-Police” by Meryl Kornfield (Washington Post) for MSN
New York: “Trump Takes the Fifth” by Kelly Hooper (Politico) for Yahoo News
National: “DaVita Helped Craft New Bill to Fix ‘Loophole’ Left by Supreme Court Ruling, Documents Show” by Megan Wilson (Politico) for Yahoo News
New York: “Erie County Comptroller Seeks Answers on OTB Lobbying Expenses” by Mark Scheer for Lockport Journal
National: “Maps in Four States Were Ruled Illegal Gerrymanders. They’re Being Used Anyway.” by Michael Wines (New York Times) for Eminetra.com
August 9, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Washington: “Tim Eyman Forced to Sell House to Pay Campaign Finance Fines, Debts” by David Gutman for Seattle Times Elections Michigan: “GOP Nominee for Michigan AG Named in Election Security Breach Probe” by Rosalind Helderman, Emma Brown, and […]
Washington: “Tim Eyman Forced to Sell House to Pay Campaign Finance Fines, Debts” by David Gutman for Seattle Times
Michigan: “GOP Nominee for Michigan AG Named in Election Security Breach Probe” by Rosalind Helderman, Emma Brown, and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “FBI Searches Trump Safe at Mar-a-Lago Club, Former President Says” by Devlin Barrett, Mariana Alfaro, Josh Dawsey, and Jacqueline Alemany (Washington Post) for MSN
Connecticut: “Larry McHugh to Replace Embattled CT Port Authority Official” by Keith Phaneuf (Connecticut Mirror) for MSN
New Jersey: “Disclosure Statements Provide Little Insight into Lawmakers’ Finances” by Nikita Biryukov for New Jersey Monitor
Rhode Island: “Inside the Political, Personal, and Legal Connections of the Tidewater Landing Soccer Stadium Deal” by Brian Amaral (Boston Globe) for MSN
Illinois: “State Sen. Elgie Sims Approached in Federal Criminal Investigation into Alleged Influence Peddling by Body-Cam Company” by Jason Meisner and Ray Long (Chicago Tribune) for Yahoo News
Pennsylvania: “Posh Southwestern Pa. Party Spotlights How Lawmakers and Lobbyists Mingle Out of the Public Eye” by Mike Werechagin for Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
August 5, 2022 •
National/Federal A Right-Wing Think Tank Claimed to Be a Church. Now, Members of Congress Want to Investigate. ProPublica – Andrew Suozzo | Published: 8/2/2022 Forty members of Congress asked the IRS and the Treasury Department to investigate what the lawmakers termed […]
A Right-Wing Think Tank Claimed to Be a Church. Now, Members of Congress Want to Investigate.
ProPublica – Andrew Suozzo | Published: 8/2/2022
Forty members of Congress asked the IRS and the Treasury Department to investigate what the lawmakers termed an “alarming pattern” of right-wing advocacy groups registering with the tax agency as churches, a move that allows the organizations to shield themselves from some financial reporting requirements and makes it easier to avoid audits. The representatives raised transparency concerns following a ProPublica story about the Family Research Council, a right-wing Christian think tank based in Washington, D.C., getting reclassified as a church.
Campaign Finance Watchdog Alleges WinRed Processed Billions in Political Contributions Without Disclosing Operating Expenses
OpenSecrets – Taylor Giorno | Published: 7/29/2022
Online Republican fundraising platform WinRed may have failed to fully disclose operating expenses, the Campaign Legal Center alleges in a new FEC complaint. The self-described “#1 fundraising technology used by conservatives” reported less than $2,700 in operating expenses since January 2019 despite processing over $2.8 billion in earmarked contributions, and $212 million in contribution refunds, during that period, according to the complaint.
Ex-White House Counsel Subpoenaed by Federal Grand Jury Investigating Jan. 6 Attack
ABC News – Katherine Faulders, John Santucci, and Alexander Mallin | Published: 8/2/2022
A federal grand jury subpoenaed former Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone in its investigation into the assault on the U.S. Capitol and efforts to overturn the 2020 election. The move to subpoena Cipollone signals an even more dramatic escalation in the Justice Department’s investigation of the attack than previously known, following appearances by senior members of former Vice President Mike Pence’s staff before the grand jury.
First Jan. 6 Defendant Convicted at Trial Receives Longest Sentence of 7 Years
MSN – Spencer Hsu and Tom Jackman (Washington Post) | Published: 8/1/2022
The first U.S. Capitol riot defendant convicted at trial was sentenced to more than seven years in prison, the longest punishment handed down to date over the January6, 2021, attack on Congress. Guy Reffitt, a recruiter for the right-wing Three Percenters movement in Texas, was convicted of five felony offenses, including obstruction of Congress as it met to certify the 2020 election result, interfering with police, and carrying a firearm to a riot, and threatening his teenage son, who turned him in to the FBI.
Hot Mic Captured Gaetz Assuring Stone of Pardon, Discussing Mueller Redactions
Anchorage Daily News – John Swaine and Dalton Bennett (Washington Post) | Published: 7/30/2022
As Roger Stone prepared to stand trial in 2019, complaining he was under pressure from federal prosecutors to incriminate Donald Trump, a close ally of the president repeatedly assured Stone “the boss” would likely grant him clemency if he were convicted, a recording shows. U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz predicted Stone would be found guilty at his trial but would not “do a day” in prison. Gaetz was apparently unaware they were being recorded by documentary filmmakers following Stone, whom special counsel Robert Mueller had charged with obstruction of a congressional investigation.
Jan. 6 Text Messages Wiped from Phones of Key Trump Pentagon Officials
CNN – Tierny Sneed and Zachary Cohen | Published: 8/2/2022
The Department of Defense (DOD) wiped the phones of top departing DOD and Army officials at the end of the Trump administration, deleting any texts from key witnesses to events surrounding the attack on the U.S. Capitol. American Oversight filed a Freedom of Information suit seeking the records from former acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller, former chief of staff Kash Patel, and former Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy, among others. Miller, Patel, and McCarthy have been viewed as crucial witnesses for understanding government’s response to the assault and former President Trump’s reaction to the breach.
Justice Department Details Threats Against Election Workers
Associated Press News – Marina Villeneuve | Published: 8/3/2022
The U.S. Justice Department has charged five people for making threats of violence against election workers amid a rising wave of harassment and intimidation tied to the 2020 presidential race, a top official told the Senate Judiciary Committee. Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite said the department has investigated more than 1,000 harassing and threatening messages directed at election workers. Roughly 100 of those have risen to the level of potential prosecution.
Russian National Charged with U.S. Political Influence Operation
MSN – Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 7/29/2022
Federal authorities charged a Russian man with a years-long malign influence campaign targeting American politics – alleging he used American groups in Florida, Georgia, and California to sow discord and push pro-Russia propaganda. Aleksandr Viktorovich Ionov, who lives in Moscow, worked for nearly eight years with Russian officials to fund and direct the U.S. groups, according to the indictment. It does not name the groups, but charges Ionov also advised the campaigns of two unidentified candidates in Florida.
Secret Service’s ‘Ludicrous’ Deletion of Jan. 6 Phone Data Baffles Experts
MSN – Drew Harwell, Will Oremus, and Joseph Menn (Washington Post) | Published: 7/29/2022
Cybersecurity experts and former government leaders are stunned by how poorly the Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security handled the preservation of officials’ text messages and other data from around January 6, 2021, saying the top agencies entrusted with fighting cybercrime should never have bungled the simple task of backing up agents’ phones. Experts are divided over whether the disappearance of the phone data is a sign of incompetence, an intentional coverup, or some murky middle ground. But the failure has raised suspicions about the disposition of records whose preservation was mandated by federal law.
Several Election Deniers Backed by Trump Prevail in Hotly Contested Primaries
MSN – Hannah Knowles (Washington Post) | Published: 8/3/2022
Several election deniers backed by former President Trump prevailed in closely watched primaries on August 2, as a nationwide battle over the future of the GOP played out in state and federal races across five states. Primaries in these states as well as Kansas and Washington kicked off a final series of intraparty contests before the midterms that will determine control of Congress in the fall. It was unclear what the totality of the primaries would reveal about the influence of Trump and his ideas, with key contests yet to be settled.
The GOP Went to War Against Google Over Spam – and May Win
MSN – Isaac Stanley-Becker and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 7/29/2022
Many Republican lawmakers contend Google is suppressing the party’s campaign solicitations. Republicans have waged a pressure campaign that has included public Twitter offensives and private discussions with Google executives. The effort’s impact became apparent when Google asked the FEC to approve a pilot program that would exempt campaign emails from spam detection. The amount of political fundraising conducted over email and text has exploded in recent years, adding to the deluge of promotional messages swamping Americans every day. The full-court press drew on the GOP’s protest that Silicon Valley is biased against conservatives, a claim disputed by the companies.
The RNC ‘Election Integrity’ Official Appearing in DOJ’s Jan. 6 Subpoenas
MSN – Betsy Woodruff Swan (Politico) | Published: 7/30/2022
In addition to a group of former President Trump’s top lawyers, the Justice Department’s January 6 probe is also seeking communications to and from a Republican National Committee (RNC) staffer in a sensitive role. At least three witnesses in the investigation of so-called alternate electors in the 2020 election have received subpoenas demanding communications to and from Joshua Findlay, who is now the RNC’s national director for election integrity.
U.S. Sues Former Trump Aide Peter Navarro Over White House Emails
MSN – Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 8/3/2022
Peter Navarro, the former Trump economic adviser already facing trial on charges of contempt of Congress, was sued by the government over his refusal to turn over private emails he allegedly used to conduct White House business during the Trump administration. The lawsuit charges he “is wrongfully retaining Presidential records that are the property of the United States, and which constitute part of the permanent historical record of the prior administration.”
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – Arizona Officials Warned Fake Electors Plan Could ‘Appear Treasonous’
MSN – Maggie Haberman and Luke Broadwater (New York Times) | Published: 8/3/2022
Two Arizona Republicans recruited by allies of former President Trump to join an effort to keep him in office after he lost the 2020 election grew so concerned about the plan that they told lawyers working on it that they feared their actions could be seen as treason, according to emails. The scheme was part of a broader plan to falsely manufacture a victory for Trump by creating fake slates of electors in battleground states who would claim he had been the true winner. Some of the lawyers who undertook the effort doubted its legality.
California – Alameda County Sued by Anti-Affirmative Action Group Over Public Contracts Policy
MSN – Joseph Geha (Bay Area News Group) | Published: 7/31/2022
Alameda County’s efforts to ensure minority-owned and women-owned businesses get a share of public construction contracts violate the U.S. and California Constitution, according to a lawsuit. Plaintiffs say the county’s Public Works Agency and its General Services Agency both oversee similar programs that “force general contractors to discriminate against subcontractors” if they are not minority owned. The programs, which push contractors working on many projects to have at least 15 percent of the work done by minority-owned businesses and at least five percent done by women-owned businesses, amount to “government-sanctioned racial discrimination.”
California – Is It Too Easy for Write-In Candidates in California Elections?
CalMatters – Sameea Kamal | Published: 7/28/2022
In California elections, it only takes a handful of signatures and votes for legislative write-in candidates to get on the November ballot. While some candidates might spend millions of dollars or months campaigning, California’s top-two primary system means that in races with only one other candidate, it is possible for a write-in candidate to sneak into second place with very little support. For the June 7 primary, state Assembly and Senate candidates needed as few as 40 people to sign nomination papers to qualify as write-in candidates. No matter how few votes they won, as long as they finished in second, they advanced to the November election.
California – L.A. City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas Sues City Hall, Seeking to Restore His Pay
MSN – David Zahniser (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 7/28/2022
Los Angeles City Councilperson Mark Ridley-Thomas filed a lawsuit seeking to have a judge strike down the city’s decision to cut off his pay while he fights federal corruption charges. In his filing, Ridley-Thomas called the decision by City Controller Ron Galperin to terminate his pay and health benefits “unauthorized, unlawful and politicized.” Ridley-Thomas said he is barred under city law from seeking outside income while he fights the charges. He also contends that Galperin’s actions violated the City Charter.
California – SF Arts Commission Director Used Grant Money for a Hawaii Vacation
San Francisco Examiner – Thomas Hughes (Bay City News Foundation) | Published: 8/2/2022
A former director of the San Francisco Arts Commission was fined $20,000 after she admitted diverting grant money to finance a personal vacation in Hawaii. The grant had been intended for a local Native and Indigenous artist and was awarded to fund a short documentary exploring pre-colonial connections across the Pacific. Instead, the money was used by former arts director Barbara Mumby-Huerta to pay travel expenses to Hawaii for herself, her daughter, and a friend, a trip in which no work was ever produced.
Connecticut – Connecticut Port Authority Reveals Which Employees Accepted Gifts
Yahoo – Greg Smith (The Day) | Published: 8/1/2022
At the request of two state senators, the Connecticut Port Authority (CPA) has released the names of its employees that improperly accepted gifts from a company vying for authority business. Former Executive Director Evan Matthews and Andrew Lavigne, the CPA’s current manager of business development and special projects, each received a $625 ticket from Seabury Maritime Capital to a May 2019 National Hockey League playoff game in Boston along with food and beverages from a restaurant.
Florida – Ethics Panel Hearing Set for Bristol City Clerk Who Allegedly Left IOUs for City Cash
Yahoo News – Karl Etters (Tallahassee Democrat) | Published: 8/1/2022
A state ethics panel found probable cause for a complaint against Bristol’s city clerk that alleges she left IOU notes for money she took from the cash drawer in City Hall. The panel recommended a formal public hearing for City Clerk Robin Hatcher. Deputy City Clerk Nichole Day said she saw Hatcher take $200 from the city’s cash drawer and replace it with a slip of paper “stating she had taken cash and would repay it later,” according to the complaint. Hatcher said she intended to donate $200 of her own money to the high school weightlifting team but didn’t have a chance to get to the bank, taking city money instead.
Florida – Florida Power & Light Operates an Exclusive, Invite-Only Lounge for Lawmakers and Lobbyists
MSN – Matt Dixon and Bruce Ritchie (Politico) | Published: 8/2/2022
Florida Power & Light operates an event space located on the third floor of the company’s Tallahassee offices. The exclusive lounge is used by company officials to host lobbyists and the lawmakers whose votes they need, according to sources. Revelations of the party space come as the utility is mired in scandals over its aggressive approach to lobbying and public advocacy. State Rep. Anna Eskamani said the energy company’s exclusive lounge raises concerns it is illicitly influencing lawmakers and violating the state’s gift ban and open meetings laws.
Florida – Intrigue Grows in Florida’s ‘Ghost’ Candidate Case as Prosecutors Seek More Info
Bradenton Herald – Ana Ceballos (Miami Herald) | Published: 7/30/2022
Prosecutors subpoenaed records related to a $600,000 money transfer between “dark money” organizations tied to an ongoing Miami-Dade County criminal case surrounding “ghost candidates” in the 2020 election. The transfer is adding a new layer of intrigue to a years-long question into who paid for thousands of political mail advertisements to promote sham no-party candidates in three contested Florida races that were key to helping solidify the Republican majority in the state Senate.
Florida – Judge Candidate Says Ivey Offered to Help Secure Appointment If She Dropped Out of Race
Yahoo News – Eric Rogers and Bobby Block (Florida Today) | Published: 8/3/2022
In the weeks since two Republican candidates said Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey offered to securer them political jobs worth up to $50,000 a year if they left their races and backed his favored contenders, the election meddling controversy has widened. Now, another candidate has come forward, saying Ivey also tried to interfere in her race for county judge and offered to help secure her a spot as the county’s next state attorney if she agreed to drop out of the contest.
Georgia – Georgia Ethics Board Moves Forward Against Abrams-Linked Groups
MSN – Margaret Newkirk (Bloomberg) | Published: 8/1/2022
Georgia’s ethics commission will move ahead with a case against two groups founded by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, saying it was likely they violated campaign finance law by helping her first run for governor four years ago. The ruling paves the way for a final hearing and decision that could bring the biggest ethics fine in state history, just as the rematch between Abrams and Republican Governor Brian Kemp moves into its final three months.
Illinois – Ex-Speaker Michael Madigan’s Pension Payments Balloon as Judge Grants Defense Until Next Year to File Motions in Racketeering Case
MSN – Ray Long and Jason Meisner (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 8/3/2022
As a federal judge granted a lengthy extension for Michael Madigan’s racketeering case, the former Illinois House speaker’s state pension has risen to nearly $149,000 a year, a more than $63,000 increase since he retired last year. The windfall is the result of both Madigan’s 50-plus years in the House and an often-beneficial state pension formula for lawmakers that Madigan himself helped push through. It also comes as the former lawmaker continues to battle a federal bribery-related case that will likely not see any significant court action until next year.
Illinois – Federal Lawsuit Challenges New Limits on Contributions to Illinois Judicial Candidates
MSN – Dan Petrella (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 8/3/2022
A federal lawsuit challenges the restrictions on campaign contributions to judicial candidates in Illinois on First Amendment grounds. Democrats in the Legislature passed a bill last year that bars judicial candidates from receiving campaign money from out-of-state contributors and groups that do not disclose their donors. This year, lawmakers banned donations in excess of $500,000 per election cycle from a single source to independent expenditure committees set up to support or oppose judicial candidates.
Kansas – Kansans Resoundingly Reject Amendment Aimed at Restricting Abortion Rights
MSN – Annie Gowan and Colby Itkowitz (Washington Post) | Published: 8/2/2022
Kansas voters sent a resounding message about their desire to protect abortion rights, rejecting a ballot measure in a conservative state with deep ties to the anti-abortion movement that would have allowed the Republican-controlled Legislature to tighten restrictions or ban the procedure outright. The results bolster Democrats’ hopes that the historic U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade will animate their voters in an otherwise difficult election year for their party. The vote signals abortion is an energizing issue that could affect turnout in the November midterms.
Kentucky – Louisville Candidates Got New Ethics Rules. Why Weren’t They Followed?
WDRB – Marcus Green | Published: 7/29/2022
Metro Council approved sweeping changes to Louisville’s ethics rules in March, broadening what must be reported by candidates for key offices and other top elected and appointed officials. Once the ordinance took effect March 8, it gave candidates in the May primaries until April 30 to file the new financial disclosures with the city’s ethics commission. But that did not happen. The ethics commission ultimately extended the filing deadline until after the primary, a decision that made the disclosures a non-factor for voters and campaigns alike.
Louisiana – Karen Carter Peterson Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud. She Will Be Sentenced on Dec. 7
NOLA.com – Tyler Bridges and Gordon Russell | Published: 8/1/2022
Karen Carter Peterson pleaded guilty in federal court to defrauding campaign donors, putting an ignominious end to a political career that saw her serve 22 years in the state Legislature and chair the Louisiana Democratic Party for nearly a decade. Prosecutors said Peterson helped herself to about $147,357 in funds that did not belong to her, from both her re-election campaigns and money given to the party. Peterson spent a “substantial amount” of that money at casinos, both “before and after her gambling addiction diagnosis,” according to court documents.
Missouri – How a Trump Endorsement Scramble in Mo. Ended in Absurdity: Vote ‘ERIC’
MSN – Michael Scherer, Ashley Parker, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 8/2/2022
With two words, Donald Trump launched a wild scramble that Republican leaders had hoped to avoid: “sometime today!” the former president wrote on Truth Social declaring his plans endorse in Missouri’s U.S. Senate primary. Trump had not yet decided which candidate to back when he published those words, according to interviews with numerous officials familiar with the chaos that ensued. So began an eight-hour deadline to win over Trump’s favor before primary day, a decision that in the mind of some Republicans could have undermined GOP hopes for taking control of the Senate this fall.
Missouri – St. Louis County Council Ethics Committee Wants Closer Look at Colleague’s Weed Work
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Joe Holleman | Published: 7/30/2022
Not only did a St. Louis County Council committee vote to delve deeper into Councilperson Lisa Clancy’s ties to the marijuana industry, it also widened its scope to include several other larger players involved. The council’s ethics committee said it wants to continue researching whether Clancy violated conflict-of-interest rules in 2019. The specific issue being examined by the committee is that Clancy was paid about $4,500 by a law firm to work on marijuana license applications at the same time she was actively working to influence the county’s zoning ordinance regulating marijuana locations.
New Mexico – Former New Mexico Cannabis Director Joins Private Firm, Raising Ethics Debate
MSN – Carlos Segarra (KRQE) | Published: 8/2/2022
After spending less than a year developing and executing the state’s cannabis rules, New Mexico’s former Cannabis Control Division (CCD) director is joining a private cannabis firm. A consultant agency, Weeds, hired Kristen Thomson, leading some to debate the ethics of the move. Weeds also hired Bobbi Martinez, the former compliance manager for the CCD.
New York – Hochul Campaign Donor Lands Multi-Billion-Dollar State Contract
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 7/31/2022
The New York Department of Health is awarding a multi-billion-dollar transportation contract to a company owned by a significant campaign donor to Gov. Kathy Hochul, who was also the beneficiary of a campaign fundraiser the bidder hosted as the procurement process was nearing its conclusion. Records show Russ Maxwell spent $4,500 to pay for food, catering, and flowers for a Hochul fundraiser. He also gave Hochul an additional $10,000 that day, and his husband, Morgan McDole, gave $20,000. Maxwell donated $10,000 and McDole $20,000 to the state Democratic Party, which is closely aligned with Hochul’s campaign.
Ohio – Feds Ask Judge to Sanction Ex-Lobbyist Charged in House Bill 6 Case for Publishing Key Witness’s Personal Information Online
MSN – Andrew Tobias (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 8/2/2022
Federal prosecutors are asking a judge to sanction an ex-lobbyist charged with bribery in the Ohio House Bill 6 corruption case for using his legal defense website to publish the personal information of a key witness in the government’s case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Singer said Matt Borges’s website, until he removed it, contained unredacted copies of the witness’s Social-Security card, tax forms, and driver’s license. Using the pseudonym “CHS-1” to refer to the witness, Tyler Fehrman, Singer said the incident was an intentional effort by Borges to intimidate and retaliate against Fehrman by exposing him to identity theft.
Ohio – Subpoenaed State Records Detail Former Top Regulator’s Work to Protect Nuclear Bailout
Cleveland Plain Dealer – Andrew Tobias | Published: 8/1/2022
Records the FBI requested last year detail the steps a former top state official took to try to save Ohio’s nuclear bailout law after it was threatened by a federal regulatory decision. The newly released records show how then-Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Chairperson Sam Randazzo traveled to meet executives with Energy Harbor, the owner of the two nuclear plants bailed out by House Bill 6. Randazzo helped set up the meeting hours after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a new rule meant to discourage states from subsidizing their electricity industry, as Ohio had done with House Bill 6.
Pennsylvania – Dr. Oz’s Dark History of Promoting Companies He Was Quietly Invested In
MSN – Sam Brody (Daily Beast) | Published: 8/1/2022
Dr. Mehmet Oz built a national brand on dispensing surprising, and surprisingly simple, remedies for widespread health concerns. In one emblematic case, viewers may have surmised that Oz’s video plugging the probiotic TruBiotics was, essentially, an ad. What they were not aware of, however, is Oz was a member of the board of directors of the brand’s parent company, PanTheryx. He holds a stake in the business worth as much as $1 million. Oz is the Republican nominee for a U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania – Pa. Liquor Control Board Officials Got Dibs on Pappy Van Winkle, Other High-End Bourbon Lottery Leftovers
MSN – Jan Murphy (Pennlive.com) | Published: 8/2/2022
Thousands of Pennsylvanians try their luck at entering the Liquor Control Board’s limited-release lotteries with hopes of getting the chance to buy a bottle of high-end limited quantity wine or spirits. In 2019 and 2020, though, for Liquor Control Board member Michael Negra and four of the agency’s top-level employees, luck was not needed to claim their bottle or two. Negra and the employees were given the chance to buy some of the coveted bottles left over from lotteries before the public even knew there were still bottles up for grabs. A State Ethics Commission investigation found this sharing of confidential information did not violate the law.
Texas – Aide to Houston Mayor Resigns After Reportedly Pleading Guilty to Public Corruption
Houston Public Media – Adam Zuyanich and Haya Panjwani | Published: 8/3/2022
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said neither he nor anyone on his executive staff had prior knowledge of a federal public corruption case involving one of his top aides, who pleaded guilty recently and subsequently resigned. William-Paul Thomas, who has worked as the mayor’s liaison to the city council since before Turner was elected in 2015, admitted to participating in a conspiracy to accept a cash bribe, according to The Houston Chronicle.
Texas – Texas Ethics Commission Wants Funds for Tech Upgrades after Beto O’Rourke Crashes Servers
MSN – Allie Morris (Dallas Morning News) | Published: 8/2/2022
After Beto O’Rourke’s massive fundraising report overwhelmed state servers in July, the Texas Ethics Commission wants $750,000 to upgrade its aging technology ahead of the midterm elections. Without change, the system “will likely fail again” when the next round of campaign finance reports are due in October, commission leaders warned in a letter to the Legislative Budget Board. The issue is coming to a head as campaign finance reports grow ever more voluminous, the letter said, and the commission’s decade-old servers cannot keep up.
Wisconsin – Memo Shows Wis. GOP Lawyer Privately Opposed Decertifying Biden’s 2020 Win
MSN – Patrick Marley (Washington Post) | Published: 8/2/2022
Michael Gableman, a former state Supreme Court justice hired by Republican lawmakers to probe the 2020 election, said in March that Wisconsin should take a “hard look” at canceling Joe Biden’s victory and revoking the state’s 10 electoral college votes. The comment drew applause from a packed hearing room in the state Capitol and praise from former President Trump, whose allies have called for throwing out the results in Wisconsin and other battleground states even though constitutional scholars have scoffed at the notion as absurd. But a newly unearthed memo shows Gableman soon offered a far different analysis in private.
Wisconsin – Wisconsin DOJ Probes Voter Fraud Stunt as Election Officials Debate Absentee Rules
MSN – Patrick Marley (Washington Post) | Published: 7/29/2022
With a few clicks of a mouse, a conservative activist sent Wisconsin’s elections apparatus into disarray ahead of the August 9 primary. Harry Wait said he requested absentee ballots in the names of two high-profile politicians be sent to his own address to try to show voter fraud is easy to perform. The stunt showed one person and a computer or smartphone could jolt the state’s elections system and forced officials to weigh making changes to the state’s absentee voting procedures and whether doing so would make it harder to vote. It also drew the attention of law enforcement.
August 4, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Texas: “Texas Ethics Commission Wants Funds for Tech Upgrades after Beto O’Rourke Crashes Servers” by Allie Morris (Dallas Morning News) for MSN Elections Arizona: “Arizona Officials Warned Fake Electors Plan Could ‘Appear Treasonous’” by Maggie Haberman and Luke […]
Texas: “Texas Ethics Commission Wants Funds for Tech Upgrades after Beto O’Rourke Crashes Servers” by Allie Morris (Dallas Morning News) for MSN
Arizona: “Arizona Officials Warned Fake Electors Plan Could ‘Appear Treasonous’” by Maggie Haberman and Luke Broadwater (New York Times) for MSN
Missouri: “How a Trump Endorsement Scramble in Mo. Ended in Absurdity: Vote ‘ERIC’” by Michael Scherer, Ashley Parker, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Ex-White House Counsel Subpoenaed by Federal Grand Jury Investigating Jan. 6 Attack” by Katherine Faulders, John Santucci, and Alexander Mallin for ABC News
California: “SF Arts Commission Director Used Grant Money for a Hawaii Vacation” by Thomas Hughes (Bay City News Foundation) for San Francisco Examiner
New Mexico: “Former New Mexico Cannabis Director Joins Private Firm, Raising Ethics Debate” by Carlos Segarra (KRQE) for MSN
Ohio: “Feds Ask Judge to Sanction Ex-Lobbyist Charged in House Bill 6 Case for Publishing Key Witness’s Personal Information Online” by Andrew Tobias (Cleveland Plain Dealer) for MSN
Pennsylvania: “Pa. Liquor Control Board Officials Got Dibs on Pappy Van Winkle, Other High-End Bourbon Lottery Leftovers” by Jan Murphy (Pennlive.com) for MSN
August 3, 2022 •
Campaign Finance New York: “Hochul Campaign Donor Lands Multi-Billion-Dollar State Contract” by Chris Bragg for Albany Times Union Elections National: “Several Election Deniers Backed by Trump Prevail in Hotly Contested Primaries” by Hannah Knowles (Washington Post) for MSN Kansas: “Kansans […]
New York: “Hochul Campaign Donor Lands Multi-Billion-Dollar State Contract” by Chris Bragg for Albany Times Union
National: “Several Election Deniers Backed by Trump Prevail in Hotly Contested Primaries” by Hannah Knowles (Washington Post) for MSN
Kansas: “Kansans Resoundingly Reject Amendment Aimed at Restricting Abortion Rights” by Annie Gowan and Colby Itkowitz (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Jan. 6 Text Messages Wiped from Phones of Key Trump Pentagon Officials” by Tierny Sneed and Zachary Cohen for CNN
National: “A Right-Wing Think Tank Claimed to Be a Church. Now, Members of Congress Want to Investigate.” by Andrew Suozzo for ProPublica
Connecticut: “Connecticut Port Authority Reveals Which Employees Accepted Gifts” by Greg Smith (The Day) for Yahoo
Florida: “Florida Power & Light Operates an Exclusive, Invite-Only Lounge for Lawmakers and Lobbyists” by Matt Dixon and Bruce Ritchie (Politico) for MSN
Ohio: “Subpoenaed State Records Detail Former Top Regulator’s Work to Protect Nuclear Bailout” by Andrew Tobias for Cleveland Plain Dealer
August 2, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “The GOP Went to War Against Google Over Spam – and May Win” by Isaac Stanley-Becker and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) for MSN Georgia: “Georgia Ethics Board Moves Forward Against Abrams-Linked Groups” by Margaret Newkirk (Bloomberg) for […]
National: “The GOP Went to War Against Google Over Spam – and May Win” by Isaac Stanley-Becker and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) for MSN
Georgia: “Georgia Ethics Board Moves Forward Against Abrams-Linked Groups” by Margaret Newkirk (Bloomberg) for MSN
National: “The RNC ‘Election Integrity’ Official Appearing in DOJ’s Jan. 6 Subpoenas” by Betsy Woodruff Swan (Politico) for MSN
California: “Is It Too Easy for Write-In Candidates in California Elections?” by Sameea Kamal for CalMatters
National: “Russian National Charged with U.S. Political Influence Operation” by Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “L.A. City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas Sues City Hall, Seeking to Restore His Pay” by David Zahniser (Los Angeles Times) for MSN
Florida: “Ethics Panel Hearing Set for Bristol City Clerk Who Allegedly Left IOUs for City Cash” by Karl Etters (Tallahassee Democrat) for Yahoo News
Pennsylvania: “Dr. Oz’s Dark History of Promoting Companies He Was Quietly Invested In” by Sam Brody (Daily Beast) for MSN
August 1, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “Campaign Finance Watchdog Alleges WinRed Processed Billions in Political Contributions Without Disclosing Operating Expenses” by Taylor Giorno for OpenSecrets Florida: “Intrigue Grows in Florida’s ‘Ghost’ Candidate Case as Prosecutors Seek More Info” by Ana Ceballos (Miami Herald) […]
National: “Campaign Finance Watchdog Alleges WinRed Processed Billions in Political Contributions Without Disclosing Operating Expenses” by Taylor Giorno for OpenSecrets
Florida: “Intrigue Grows in Florida’s ‘Ghost’ Candidate Case as Prosecutors Seek More Info” by Ana Ceballos (Miami Herald) for Bradenton Herald
Wisconsin: “Wisconsin DOJ Probes Voter Fraud Stunt as Election Officials Debate Absentee Rules” by Patrick Marley (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Hot Mic Captured Gaetz Assuring Stone of Pardon, Discussing Mueller Redactions” by John Swaine and Dalton Bennett (Washington Post) for Anchorage Daily News
Kentucky: “Louisville Candidates Got New Ethics Rules. Why Weren’t They Followed?” by Marcus Green for WDRB
Missouri: “St. Louis County Council Ethics Committee Wants Closer Look at Colleague’s Weed Work” by Joe Holleman for St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Ohio: “Regulators Block Deposition of FirstEnergy’s Former Ethics Chief” by Jake Zuckerman for Ohio Capital Journal
California: “Alameda County Sued by Anti-Affirmative Action Group Over Public Contracts Policy” by Joseph Geha (Bay Area News Group) for MSN
July 29, 2022 •
National/Federal A Record Number of Trans and Nonbinary People Are Running for Office MSN – Anne Branigan (Washington Post) | Published: 7/27/2022 In 2017, former journalist Danica Roem made history when she was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, making […]
A Record Number of Trans and Nonbinary People Are Running for Office
MSN – Anne Branigan (Washington Post) | Published: 7/27/2022
In 2017, former journalist Danica Roem made history when she was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, making her the first out transgender state legislator in the U.S. Five years later, a record number of trans and nonbinary candidates are vying for public office. As of July, the Victory Fund reports there are 55 trans candidates running for office, alongside 20 gender nonconforming candidates, 18 nonbinary candidates, and four Two-Spirit candidates. Across the country’s statehouses, an unprecedented amount of anti-LGBTQ measures have been introduced, with most bills aimed at curbing the rights of trans children and their families.
After Commissioners’ Verbal Brawl, FEC Won’t Let Rep. Eric Swalwell’s Use Campaign Cash to Fund Overnight Childcare When Traveling Abroad
Yahoo News – Madison Hall (Business Insider) | Published: 7/26/2022
U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell cannot use campaign funds to pay for childcare services when traveling “at the request of foreign governments” or do so when campaigning on behalf of other candidates, the FEC ruled. The decision comes after Republican Commissioner Trey Trainor at a public meeting, calling his request “abhorrent.” The rebuke prompted Democratic Commissioner Ellen Weintraub to lambaste Trainor in a series of tweets that referenced “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
Bannon Verdict: Former Trump strategist guilty of contempt of Congress
MSN – Devlin Barrett, Spencer Hsu, and Katie Mettler (Washington Post) | Published: 7/22/2022
Stephen Bannon, the right-wing podcaster and longtime confidante of former President Trump, was convicted of contempt of Congress for his refusal to provide documents or testimony to a House committee probing the January 6, 2021, attack. The trial tested a rarely used criminal statute meant to ensure that people comply with congressional subpoenas. The contempt case involved legislative efforts to investigate the violence and what led up to it, rather than the actual events of the day.
DHS Inspector General Tells Secret Service to Stop Investigating Potentially Missing Texts Due to ‘Ongoing Criminal Investigation’
MSN – Whitney Wild (CNN) | Published: 7/21/2022
The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general informed the Secret Service it is investigating what happened to January 6-related text messages that may have been deleted, describing it as an “ongoing criminal investigation” and directing the agency to stop its internal investigations into the matter. The letter adds to the growing tension between the Secret Service and the inspector general over the potentially missing text messages, which are being sought by the House select committee as part of its investigation into former President Trump’s actions on January 6, 2021.
Emails Shed Light on Trump Plan to Employ Fake Electors
Las Vegas Sun – Maggie Haberman and Luke Broadwater (New York Times) | Published: 7/26/2022
Previously undisclosed emails provide an inside look at the increasingly desperate and often slapdash efforts by advisers to former President Trump to reverse his election defeat in the weeks before the January 6 attack, including acknowledgments that a key element of their plan was of dubious legality and lived up to its billing as “fake.” The emails among people connected to the Trump campaign, outside advisers, and close associates of Trump show a particular focus on assembling lists of people who would claim, with no basis, to be Electoral College electors on his behalf in battleground states he had lost.
Hulu Reverses Policy, Will Use Cable Standards for Political Ads
MSN – John Wagner and Michael Scherer (Washington Post) | Published: 7/27/2022
The streaming service Hulu said it will start accepting political ads with the same standards the company uses for its cable networks, opening the door for issue advertising on controversial topics after Democratic groups attacked the company for rejecting ads on abortion and guns. The Washington Post had reported Hulu has a policy against running content deemed controversial. Like other digital providers, it is not bound by the Communications Act of 1934, a law that requires broadcast television networks to provide politicians equal access to the airwaves.
Justice Dept. Investigating Trump’s Actions in Jan. 6 Criminal Probe
MSN – Carol Leonnig, Devlin Barrett, Josh Dawsey, and Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 7/26/2022
The U.S. Justice Department is investigating former President Trump’s actions as part of its criminal probe of efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, according to sources. Prosecutors have asked hours of detailed questions about meetings Trump led in December 2020 and January 2021; his pressure campaign on former Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the election; and what instructions Trump gave his lawyers and advisers about fake electors and sending electors back to the states. Investigators have received phone records of key officials and aides in the Trump administration, including his former chief of staff, Mark Meadows.
On the Campaign Trail, Many Republicans Talk of Violence
MSN – David Weigel (Washington Post) | Published: 7/23/2022
Many GOP candidates describe the United States as a country that was not merely in trouble but being destroyed by leaders who despise most Americans, effectively part of a civil war. In both swing states and safe seats, Republicans say liberals hate them personally and may turn rioters or a police state on people who disobey them. That argument has been dramatized in ads that show one armed candidate appearing to charge into the home of a political enemy, and another warning of “the mob” that threatens ordinary Americans. In some cases, candidates are brandishing firearms while threatening harm to liberals or other enemies.
Republican Governors Gave Lucrative, No-Bid COVID-19 Deals to Utah Firms, Who Then Gave $1M to GOP Campaigns
Yahoo News – Craig Harris, Bailey Schulz, and Katie Wedell (USA Today) | Published: 7/27/2022
A small number of companies leveraged their connections to sign deals to provide COVID-19 tests and personal protective equipment that would pay them at least $219 million in five GOP-led states. Two of the companies would donate more than $1 million to Republican campaigns after getting those deals. The contracts and political donations have raised questions from critics and observers about favoritism and “pay-to-play” campaign contributions.
Stephen Buyer, Former GOP Congressman, Accused of Insider Trading
MSN – Hamza Shaban (Washington Post) | Published: 7/25/2022
The Securities and Exchange Commission charged former U.S. Rep. Stephen Buyer with insider trading, accusing him of abusing his role as a corporate consultant to exploit nonpublic information and collect more than $300,000 in illegal profits. The allegations stem from trading activity that occurred after Buyer left Congress and established his own consulting and lobbying firm. In 2018, Buyer learned of T-Mobile’s plans to acquire Sprint after a golf outing with a client, a T-Mobile executive, according to the SEC. Buyer purchased more than $500,000 of Sprint shares, which were then sold shortly after news of the deal went public, regulators said.
Trump ‘Chose Not to Act’ as Mob Terrorized the Capitol, Panel Shows
MSN – Amy Gardner and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 7/21/2022
Eleven minutes after he returned to the White House from his speech on the Ellipse urging supporters to march on the U.S. Capitol, President Trump learned the January 6, 2021, protest had turned violent. But instead of harnessing the power of the Oval Office by ordering military or police intervention or exhorting the rioters to go home, Trump continued to fan the flames of discord, and remained focused on trying to overturn the 2020 election, even as his aides implored him to stop the violence.
From the States and Municipalities
Arkansas – Arkansas Hires Connecticut Company to Build Campaign Finance Filing, Reporting System
Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette – Michael Wickline | Published: 7/23/2022
The Arkansas secretary of state’s office selected Reframe Solutions as the vendor to build a new campaign finance filing and reporting system. Since the current system’s rollout in 2017, Arkansas’ computerized system for tracking campaign contributions and expenditures has generated gripes from candidates, elected officials, and the public. The complaints have included that it is antiquated, clunky, inaccurate, tedious, and not user-friendly.
California – California to Allow Cryptocurrency Campaign Donations
MSN – Associated Press | Published: 7/21/2022
The California Fair Political Practices Commission approved new rules allowing campaign donations of digital currencies such as bitcoin. The guidelines say candidates can accept cryptocurrency donations if they immediately convert the digital currency into U.S. dollars. The rules will take effect within 60 days.
California – Former Recology Employee Indicted for Alleged San Francisco Bribery, Following Prior Charges
Waste Dive – Cole Rosengern | Published: 7/25/2022
John Porter, who was charged with bribery last year in connection with a broader corruption scandal in San Francisco, was indicted on related federal charges recently. The indictment includes updated details on Porter’s alleged role bribing then-Department of Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru for favorable treatment in areas such as contracts and rate increases for waste management company Recology. The alleged bribes, which occurred in multiple forms, were valued at more than $1 million.
Colorado – Denver Clerk and Recorder Launches Phase Two of SearchLight Denver
City and County of Denver – Staff | Published: 7/22/2022
Clerk and Recorder Paul López has launched the second phase of SearchLight Denver, a searchable campaign finance and disclosure database. The database will now provide Denver residents with access to lobbying organizations, individual lobbyists, and their efforts around city matters. SearchLight Denver is the product of a partnership with MapLight, a technology nonprofit specializing in campaign finance tools and lobbying for state and municipal governments.
Florida – Powerbrokers: How FPL secretly took over a Florida news site and used it to bash critics
MSN – Sarah Blaskey (Miami Herald) | Published: 7/25/2022
While portraying itself as an independent outlet, the news website Capitolist, which aims its content directly at Tallahassee’s decision makers, was bankrolled and controlled by executives of Florida Power & Light through a small group of intermediaries. Internal communications, contracts, and financial records show how a team of communications experts used the Capitolist as part of a clandestine political strategy to advocate for rate hikes, lobby for legislative favors, slam political opponents, and eliminate anything the utility worried might undermine its near monopoly on selling power in Florida.
Florida – Proposed Ethics Settlement for Ex-Sen. Jack Latvala Tossed; Case Continues
Tampa Bay Times – Jim Saunders (News Service of Florida) | Published: 7/22/2022
The Florida Commission on Ethics scrapped a proposed settlement and decided to move forward with a case against former state Sen. Jack Latvala related to allegations of sexual misconduct. Latvala had agreed to a settlement that would have admitted “poor judgment” in having a two-decade sexual relationship with a lobbyist. The proposed, which could have spurred a public censure and reprimand, would have led to dropping other allegations related to a former Senate staff member.
Georgia – Judge Won’t Quash Subpoenas for Georgia False Electors
Georgia Public Broadcasting – Associated Press | Published: 7/21/2022
Georgia Republicans who signed a certificate falsely stating Donald Trump had won the state in 2020 and they were the state’s “duly elected and qualified” electors will have to appear before a special grand jury investigating whether the former president and others illegally tried to interfere in the state’s election, a judge said. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney suggested lawyers for the district attorney’s office and attorneys for those who signed the false certificate should meet before each witness testifies to talk about the topics to be covered and then he could settle any disputes.
Georgia – On the Docket: Atlanta v. Trumpworld
Yahoo News – Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim (New York Times) | Published: 7/25/2022
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has been leading the investigation into efforts by former President Trump and his allies to overturn his election loss in Georgia. It is only recently, with a flurry of subpoenas and target letters, as well as court documents that illuminate some of the closed proceedings of a special grand jury, that the inquiry’s sprawling contours have emerged. For legal experts, that sprawl is a sign Willis is doing what she has indicated all along: building the framework for a broad case that could target multiple defendants with charges of conspiracy to commit election fraud, or racketeering-related charges for engaging in a coordinated scheme to undermine the election.
Illinois – Businessman Gets Probation for Paying Bribes to Former State Sen. Martin Sandoval and McCook Mayor
Yahoo News – Jason Meisner (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 7/26/2022
A federal judge sentenced Vahooman Mirkhaef to probation for paying bribes to then-Illinois Sen. Martin Sandoval and former McCook Mayor Jeffrey Tobolski, saying although she loathes public corruption it was the politicians that should shoulder most of the blame. U.S. District Court Judge Mary Rowland had harsh words for Sandoval, who showed up personally at Mirkhaef’s office in 2018 demanding payment for his help securing the purchase of state-owned property in McCook. “The gall of the state senator in this case really surprises me,” Rowland said. “It saddens me. It kind of makes me sick, actually.”
Maine – Group Using Fake Name to Survey Mainers on Culture War Issues
Yahoo News – Randy Billings (Portland Press Herald) | Published: 7/19/2022
A national conservative group used an assumed name to conduct a political survey that asked Mainers charged questions about welfare for illegal immigrants, critical race theory, and gender issues. The name chosen for the survey – “Maine Today & Public Insight” – led some to believe it was being conducted by MaineToday Media, which owns three newspapers in the state. The Principles Project is behind the survey. Jonathan Wayne, executive director of Maine’s ethics commission, said it can be difficult to discern whether a legitimate poll is testing a message that may be used in an upcoming campaign or an illegal push poll.
Maryland – Maryland Del. Rick Impallaria Charged with Theft, Misconduct in Office
MSN – Alison Knezevich and Dan Belson (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 7/27/2022
Maryland Del. Rick Impallaria – whose criminal background has led to past calls to step down – was charged with theft, embezzlement, and misconduct in office after prosecutors allege that he misused state funds to pay for a “district office” outside his district, and to cover campaign fundraising expenses. Impallaria ran for reelection in the recent primary election and lost to Del. Lauren Arikan in a redrawn district.
Michigan – Black Districts Gutted as Suburban Flight Reshapes Congress Maps
MSN – Greg Korte (Bloomberg) | Published: 7/20/2022
There are 22 majority-Black districts in the current Congress. Next year, there will be as few as nine. The lost seats are a casualty of highly politicized redistricting wars, with state-by-state showdowns bringing dramatic change to electoral maps that were already being reshaped by demographic forces that include a decades-long Black migration to suburbs. That has left some Black voters worried the new maps will marginalize their voices. The concern is especially apparent in Michigan.
Michigan – GOP’s Meijer Voted to Impeach Trump. Now Democrats Are Targeting Him.
MSN – David Weigel, Colby Itkowitz, and Arjun Singh (Washington Post) | Published: 7/26/2022
Eighteen months ago, U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer joined just nine other House Republicans and voted to impeach Donald Trump. He recently learned the Democrats he stood with then were spending nearly $500,000 to help his Trump-backed challenger defeat him. Desperate to retain control of Congress in November, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has become the latest party entity this election year to aid a Trump-endorsed Republican in a primary against a candidate who has resisted the former president.
Missouri – Former St. Louis Alderman Says He’s Reached a Plea Deal on Corruption Charges
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Jacob Barker | Published: 7/22/2022
Former St. Louis Alderman John Collins-Muhammad intends to plead guilty after a federal grand jury indicted him in a bribery case. Collins-Muhammad and two other former members of the board of aldermen were all accused of accepting cash bribes from a local businessperson in exchange for helping to shepherd through legislation granting his businesses tax abatements. Boyd also intervened to help him purchase real estate from the St. Louis Land Reutilization Authority.
Missouri – St. Louis County Council Member Worked for Marijuana Industry as County Worked on Pot Laws
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Joe Holleman | Published: 7/25/2022
While St. Louis County began creating laws in 2019 for regulating medical marijuana operations, county Councilperson Lisa Clancy worked behind the scenes for a law firm representing clients seeking marijuana licenses. Without disclosing to the council or the public that she was paid about $5,000 for that work, Clancy eventually cast votes on the bill the county adopted as its zoning ordinance for marijuana operations.
Montana – Commissioner Finds Bozeman Law Firm Failed to Register as Political Committee
Helena Independent Record – Tom Kuglin | Published: 7/18/2022
Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Jeff Mangan ruled a Bozeman law firm and political committee that backed a failed ballot measure violated multiple campaign finance laws. Mangan said Cottonwood Environmental Law Center did not file declaratory paperwork or campaign finance reports with his office in the required timeframe. Mangan referred the parties to the Lewis and Clark County attorney’s office for potential prosecution, but noted the likely outcome is a negotiated civil fine.
Montana – Montana Conservation Voters Action Fund Fined $6,400 for Campaign Finance Violations
Longview News-Journal – Thom Bridge (Helena Independent Record) | Published: 7/26/2022
A registered political committee in Montana was fined $6,400 for failing to timely report expenditures supporting municipal election candidates in Helena, Missoula, and Billings last year. The Montana Conservation Voters Action Fund (MCVAF) acknowledged the political practices commissioner’s findings and admitted to violating certain campaign finance laws. MCVAF Political Director Jake Brown said the group’s vendor failed to submit the required reports related to its work in Helena.
New Mexico – Groups Call on Senate Democrats to Remove Ivey-Soto from Interim Committees
Santa Fe New Mexican – Robert Knott | Published: 7/27/2022
Months after a lobbyist publicly accused New Mexico Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto of groping her in an encounter years earlier, prompting a series of similar allegations, groups pushing for the senator’s ouster have not eased their pressure. Leaders of about 25 advocacy organizations in the state who previously sought a Senate investigation into Ivey-Soto are now calling for his removal from all interim committee assignments. In an open letter, they said Ivey-Soto is in position to influence the outcome of bills brought by lobbyists who have accused him of inappropriate behavior.
New Mexico – Is the State Ethics Commission More Bark Than Bite?
Yahoo News – Daniel Chacón and Robert Nott (Santa Fe New Mexican) | Published: 7/23/2022
The New Mexico Ethics Commission has investigated 106 administrative cases alleging violations of various statutes since January 2020. It also has issued 26 advisory opinions, forced a “dark money” group that spent more than $260,000 to influence a ballot question to reveal its donors, provided staff support to the Citizen Redistricting Committee, and conducted trainings statewide, among other accomplishments. But after a high-profile complaint filed against state Rep. Rebecca Dow resulted in a $500 civil penalty for two violations of the Governmental Conduct Act, some wonder if the agency more bark than bite.
New York – District Attorney Behind Charges in Zeldin Incident Scrutinized for Campaign Ties
Albany Times Union – Joshua Solomon | Published: 7/25/2022
U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin said that just minutes after he was accosted by a veteran with a sharp object at a recent campaign event, the gubernatorial candidate conferred offstage with Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley. The district attorney now finds herself facing criticism on two fronts: an ethics debate about her connections to Zeldin’s campaign as well as a legal debate over her office’s handling of David Jakubonis, who was carrying a sharp key-ring-style defense tool when he approached Zeldin at the event near Rochester.
New York – Former Erie County Democratic Party Chair Gets 4 Months in Prison Term for Political Corruption
WGRZ – Ron Plants | Published: 7/27/2022
A former political consultant, once viewed by many as among the most powerful in state politics was sentenced to four months in prison for making an illegal campaign contribution. Steve Pigeon admitted that in 2014 he tried to give a $25,000 illegal campaign contribution from a Canadian citizen to former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
New York – NYC City Hall Adviser Ingrid Lewis-Martin Has Yet to Be Repaid for Loan Given to Staffer in Potential Ethical Dilemma
MSN – Chris Sommerfeldt (New York Daily News) | Published: 7/26/2022
A City Hall staffer borrowed money from Ingrid Lewis-Martin, Mayor Eric Adams’ chief adviser, prior to her appointment and has yet to pay it back, according to a financial disclosure form that could raise ethical concerns for the top mayoral aide. The annual disclosure filed with the Conflicts of Interest Board, shows City Hall special assistant Dawn Baskerville owes Lewis-Martin between $1,000 and $5,000 for a “personal loan” issued in 2014. But Lewis-Martin did not mention in the disclosure that her relation to Baskerville extends beyond friendship.
New York – Secrecy at Issue for New Ethics Panel
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 7/26/2022
The 11 nominees to New York’s new state ethics panel are being asked about their relations with the press as part of a lengthy confirmation process. For the new panel, the vetting questionnaire focuses attention on the issue of “confidentiality,” and how commissioners will go about ensuring it. The most detailed of its seven questions asks commissioners what protocols the body should pass to ensure their deliberations remain secret, and whether they would commit to voting other members off the body who ran afoul of rules they formulate.
New York – Suffolk County Repeals Campaign Finance with Veto Override
WSHU – Charles Lane | Published: 7/26/2022
The Suffolk County Legislature once again repealed its public campaign finance program. Two-thirds of lawmakers overturned a veto by County Executive Steve Bellone that would have restored the program. The Republican-led Legislature would rather use the program’s $2.6 million on public safety, like hiring more emergency dispatch operators and Shotspotter gun-fire detection technology.
North Carolina – Judge Blocks Enforcement of N.C. Law That Demands Truth in Campaign Ads
MSN – Associated Press | Published: 7/25/2022
A federal judge agreed to block for now any enforcement of a state law in a political ad investigation of North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein’s campaign, saying it is likely to win on legal claims that the law is unconstitutional. U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Eagles ruled for Stein’s campaign and other plaintiffs who filed an unusual lawsuit against State Board of Elections members and Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman. The law prohibits anyone from knowingly publishing or circulating false information about a candidate with the intent of hurting that candidate’s chances in the election.
Oregon – Mystery Group Sending Anti-Democrat Mailers, Prepping Web Ads
Oregon Capital Chronicle – Julia Shumway | Published: 7/25/2022
Some Oregon voters are receiving glossy mailers blaming Gov. Kate Brown and the “Democrat-controlled state Legislature” for “soaring gas prices” and the “out-of-control cost of living.” A website with two short videos claiming policies passed by legislative Democrats led to increases in crime and inflation went live around the same time. The mailers, website, and ads were all paid for by the Coalition for Safe, Healthy and Prosperous Communities but that coalition does not exist in state campaign finance or business records.
South Carolina – South Carolina Bill Outlaws Websites That Tell How to Get an Abortion
MSN – Cat Zakrzewski (Washington Post) | Published: 7/22/2022
After the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, legislation introduced in South Carolina bill would outlaw providing information over the internet or phone about how to obtain an abortion. It would also make it illegal to host a website or “[provide] an internet service” with information that is “reasonably likely to be used for an abortion” and directed at pregnant people in the state. Legal scholars say the proposal is likely a harbinger of other state measures, which may restrict communication and speech as they seek to curtail abortion.
Texas – Texas Housing Agency Resists Reforms as Conflict of Interest Questions Pile Up
MSN – Sue Ambrose (Dallas Morning News) | Published: 7/25/2022
Three months after a Dallas Morning News investigation found a Texas housing board member voted for deals that benefited his law firm, the agency has not taken new steps to guard against conflicts-of-interest. Paul Braden stepped down from the board in April, two days after The News first asked him about his votes on 13 low-income housing projects. His employer, Norton Rose Fulbright, earned $2 million in legal fees on the deals. New records show Braden voted for eight other projects that brought the firm an additional $1.8 million.
Texas – Texas Lawmakers Ordered to Turn Over Redistricting Records
Courthouse News Service – Stephen Paulsen | Published: 7/26/2022
A federal judge issued a wide-ranging discovery order requiring Texas lawmakers to turn over documents related to the state’s congressional redistricting plans. The underlying lawsuit is part of a broad effort to correct what critics say is voter intimidation and discrimination in Texas heading into the 2022 midterm elections. In a separate case, a variety of civil rights groups are also suing the state over a new election security law, which they say is designed to “intimidate and harass voters.” A different federal judge in May allowed that case to proceed.
Wisconsin – After Wis. Supreme Court Absentee Ballot Decision, Disabled People Sue
MSN – Patrick Marley (Washington Post) | Published: 7/25/2022
Four disabled people are asking a federal judge to ensure they can vote this fall after the Wisconsin Supreme Court limited how absentee ballots can be cast. The state’s high court ruled voters could not give their completed absentee ballots to someone else to turn in for them. That policy will make it impossible or extremely difficult for some voters to cast ballots, according to the lawsuit. Plaintiffs are asking the court to allow disabled voters to give their ballots to others to return for them, arguing the new regimen in Wisconsin violates the U.S. Constitution, the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act, and the Americans With Disabilities Act.
July 28, 2022 •
Campaign Finance National: “Republican Governors Gave Lucrative, No-Bid COVID-19 Deals to Utah Firms, Who Then Gave $1M to GOP Campaigns” by Craig Harris, Bailey Schulz, and Katie Wedell (USA Today) for MSN National: “After Commissioners’ Verbal Brawl, FEC Won’t Let […]
National: “Republican Governors Gave Lucrative, No-Bid COVID-19 Deals to Utah Firms, Who Then Gave $1M to GOP Campaigns” by Craig Harris, Bailey Schulz, and Katie Wedell (USA Today) for MSN
National: “After Commissioners’ Verbal Brawl, FEC Won’t Let Rep. Eric Swalwell’s Use Campaign Cash to Fund Overnight Childcare When Traveling Abroad” by Madison Hall (Business Insider) for Yahoo News
Montana: “Montana Conservation Voters Action Fund Fined $6,400 for Campaign Finance Violations” by Thom Bridge (Helena Independent Record) for Longview News-Journal
New York: “Suffolk County Repeals Campaign Finance with Veto Override” by Charles Lane for WSHU
National: “Hulu Reverses Policy, Will Use Cable Standards for Political Ads” by John Wagner and Michael Scherer (Washington Post) for MSN
Florida: “Powerbrokers: How FPL secretly took over a Florida news site and used it to bash critics” by Sarah Blaskey for Miami Herald
Illinois: “Businessman Gets Probation for Paying Bribes to Former State Sen. Martin Sandoval and McCook Mayor” by Jason Meisner (Chicago Tribune) for Yahoo News
New York: “Secrecy at Issue for New Ethics Panel” by Chris Bragg for Albany Times Union
Texas: “Texas Lawmakers Ordered to Turn Over Redistricting Records” by Stephen Paulsen for Courthouse News Service
July 27, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Oregon: “Mystery Group Sending Anti-Democrat Mailers, Prepping Web Ads” by Julia Shumway for Oregon Capital Chronicle Elections National: “Dems Fume at Disney’s Hulu for Blocking Ads on Abortion, Guns” by Michael Scherer (Washington Post) for MSN North Carolina: […]
Oregon: “Mystery Group Sending Anti-Democrat Mailers, Prepping Web Ads” by Julia Shumway for Oregon Capital Chronicle
National: “Dems Fume at Disney’s Hulu for Blocking Ads on Abortion, Guns” by Michael Scherer (Washington Post) for MSN
North Carolina: “Judge Blocks Enforcement of N.C. Law That Demands Truth in Campaign Ads” by Associated Press for MSN
Wisconsin: “After Wis. Supreme Court Absentee Ballot Decision, Disabled People Sue” by Patrick Marley (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Justice Dept. Investigating Trump’s Actions in Jan. 6 Criminal Probe” by Carol Leonnig, Devlin Barrett, Josh Dawsey, and Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Stephen Buyer, Former GOP Congressman, Accused of Insider Trading” by Hamza Shaban (Washington Post) for MSN
Missouri: “St. Louis County Council Member Worked for Marijuana Industry as County Worked on Pot Laws” by Joe Holleman for St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Michigan: “Black Districts Gutted as Suburban Flight Reshapes Congress Maps” by Greg Korte (Bloomberg) for MSN
July 26, 2022 •
Campaign Finance Arkansas: “Arkansas Hires Connecticut Company to Build Campaign Finance Filing, Reporting System” by Michael Wickline for Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Maine: “Group Using Fake Name to Survey Mainers on Culture War Issues” by Randy Billings (Portland Press Herald) for […]
Arkansas: “Arkansas Hires Connecticut Company to Build Campaign Finance Filing, Reporting System” by Michael Wickline for Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Maine: “Group Using Fake Name to Survey Mainers on Culture War Issues” by Randy Billings (Portland Press Herald) for Yahoo News
Montana: “Commissioner Finds Bozeman Law Firm Failed to Register as Political Committee” by Tom Kuglin for Helena Independent Record
National: “On the Campaign Trail, Many Republicans Talk of Violence” by David Weigel (Washington Post) for MSN
Georgia: “On the Docket: Atlanta v. Trumpworld” by Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim (New York Times) for Yahoo News
Florida: “Proposed Ethics Settlement for Ex-Sen. Jack Latvala Tossed; Case Continues” by Jim Saunders (News Service of Florida) for Tampa Bay Times
New Mexico: “Is the State Ethics Commission More Bark Than Bite?” by Daniel Chacón and Robert Nott (Santa Fe New Mexican) for Yahoo News
Texas: “Texas Housing Agency Resists Reforms as Conflict of Interest Questions Pile Up” by Sue Ambrose (Dallas Morning News) for MSN
July 25, 2022 •
Campaign Finance California: “California to Allow Cryptocurrency Campaign Donations” by Associated Press for MSN Elections Georgia: “Judge Won’t Quash Subpoenas for Georgia False Electors” by Associated Press for Georgia Public Broadcasting New York: “Zeldin Attacked During Upstate Campaign Stop for […]
California: “California to Allow Cryptocurrency Campaign Donations” by Associated Press for MSN
Georgia: “Judge Won’t Quash Subpoenas for Georgia False Electors” by Associated Press for Georgia Public Broadcasting
New York: “Zeldin Attacked During Upstate Campaign Stop for Governor” by Anna Gronewold (Politico) for MSN
National: “Trump ‘Chose Not to Act’ as Mob Terrorized the Capitol, Panel Shows” by Amy Gardner and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Bannon Verdict: Former Trump strategist guilty of contempt of Congress” by Devlin Barrett, Spencer Hsu, and Katie Mettler (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “DHS Inspector General Tells Secret Service to Stop Investigating Potentially Missing Texts Due to ‘Ongoing Criminal Investigation’” by Whitney Wild (CNN) for MSN
Missouri: “Former St. Louis Alderman Says He’s Reached a Plea Deal on Corruption Charges” by Jacob Barker for St. Louis Post-Dispatch
South Carolina: “South Carolina Bill Outlaws Websites That Tell How to Get an Abortion” by Cat Zakrzewski (Washington Post) for MSN
July 22, 2022 •
National/Federal Bipartisan Group Seeks to Limit Who Federal Agencies Can Contract With Government Executive – Eric Katz | Published: 7/14/2022 A bipartisan group of senators is looking to set new limitations on the entities with which federal agencies can contract, introducing […]
Bipartisan Group Seeks to Limit Who Federal Agencies Can Contract With
Government Executive – Eric Katz | Published: 7/14/2022
A bipartisan group of senators is looking to set new limitations on the entities with which federal agencies can contract, introducing legislation to ban the government from doing business with companies that work with certain other nations. Senate Bill 4516 would require the Office of Federal Procurement Policy to create a governmentwide policy to eliminate newly defined “conflicts-of-interest” that relate to national security in federal contracting.
Little-Known Lawyer Pitched Trump on Extreme Plans to Subvert Election
Yahoo News – Maggie Haberman and Luke Broadwater (New York Times) | Published: 7/17/2022
On Christmas Day in 2020, then-President Trump was on the phone with a little-known conservative lawyer who was encouraging his attempts to overturn the election. William Olson later conceded that part of his plan could be regarded as tantamount to declaring “martial law.” The episode highlights the role of Olson in advising Trump as the president was turning to extreme figures outside the White House to pursue options that many of his official advisers had told him were impossible or unlawful. It underscores how the system that would normally insulate a president from rogue actors operating outside of official channels had broken down.
Lobbying Firms Report Massive Profits Amid Reconciliation, China Bill Fights
Yahoo News – Karl Evers-Hillstrom (The Hill) | Published: 7/20/2022
K Street’s top lobbying firms raked in enormous revenues in the second quarter, indicating the prolonged lobbying boom is not letting up just yet. Most of the top Washington lobbying firms continue to build on last year’s record-smashing revenues, and nearly all of them are earning more than they did in 2020, when COVID-19 introduced a flood of first-time lobbying clients seeking federal funds.
New Evidence Disputes Trump Administration’s Citizenship Question Rationale
MSN – Tara Bahrampour (Washington Post) | Published: 7/20/2022
Previously unreleased internal communications indicate the Trump administration tried to add a citizenship question to the census with the goal of affecting congressional apportionment, according to a report by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. The documents appear to contradict statements made under oath by Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, who told the committee the push for a citizenship question was unrelated to apportionment and the reason for adding it was to help enforce the Voting Rights Act.
Pair Charged with Making Straw Donations to Trump Committees
MSN – Jennifer Pelz (Associated Press) | Published: 7/18/2022
Two Chinese American businesspeople were charged with funneling foreigners’ money into political donations that bought entry to an exclusive dinner with then-President Trump so the duo could impress and swindle Chinese investors. Prosecutors say Sherry Xue Li and Lianbo Wang raised $27 million for a grandiose development plan that never got close to approval, then siphoned off millions of dollars for personal expenses. To project the sway to keep their promises, which often included visas to live in the U.S., they used investor money and foreign nationals’ cash to make donations and be seen with Trump and other prominent politicians.
Prosecutors Won’t Pursue Case Against Colbert Team at Capitol Complex
Yahoo News – Michael Balsamo (Associated Press) | Published: 7/19/2022
Federal prosecutors said they are not pursuing charges against members of a television production crew for “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” who were arrested in a House office building closed to visitors. Capitol Police had charged the Colbert team members, who had entered the Longworth House Office Building on two separate occasions, with misdemeanor unlawful entry. Those arrested included the man who voices the Triumph the Insult Comic Dog puppet, who had come to interview members of Congress about the attack on the Capitol.
Secret Service Watchdog Knew in February That Texts Had Been Purged
MSN – Carol Leonnig and Maria Sacchetti (Washington Post) | Published: 7/20/2022
A watchdog agency learned in February that the Secret Service had purged nearly all cellphone texts from around the time of the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, but chose not to alert Congress, according to people briefed on the matter. The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General also prepared in October 2021 to issue a public alert that the Secret Service and other department divisions were stonewalling it on requests for records and texts surrounding the attack on the Capitol, but did not do so, the sources said.
Staff in Several House Offices Begin the Process of Unionizing
MSN – Chris Cioffi (Roll Call) | Published: 7/20/2022
Staffers who work for eight U.S. House Democrats are wasting no time in their plans to unionize, filing petitions recently to kick off the process. It was the first day they could do so, as new rules went into effect allowing many legislative branch staffers to bargain collectively. Now they must wait on the Office of Congressional Workplace Rights to vet the petitions before holding secret ballot elections to decide whether they want a union to represent them.
Trump Wanted Pence to Reject Electors. A New Bill Would Prevent That.
MSN – Leigh Ann Caldwell (Washington Post) | Published: 7/20/2022
A bipartisan group of 16 senators released legislation that would clarify an 1887 law that then-President Trump and his allies tried to use as part of their attempt to overturn the 2020 election results. The legislation would attempt to more clearly define the role of states, presidential electors, and the vice president in a presidential election in an effort to prevent the events of January 6, 2021, in the future.
Trump’s Political Operation Continued to Steer Donor Money to Firm Involved in the Jan. 6 Rally
OpenSecrets – Anna Massoglia | Published: 7/14/2022
Former President Trump’s political operation continued to pay individuals and firms involved in organizing the rally that preceded the deadly Capitol attack, steering them more than $15.4 million since the start of the 2016 election cycle. While the Trump political operations’ spending and fundraising practices have come under increased scrutiny by the House select committee, the hearings have given the former president fodder to fundraise. His political operation continued to route payments from donors to January 6 organizers through at least May as the committee’s investigation heated up.
From the States and Municipalities
Alabama – Secretary of State: Federal groups supporting Alabama candidates must register with state
Yahoo – Brian Lyman (Montgomery Advertiser) | Published: 7/19/2022
The Alabama secretary of state’s office said federal organizations contributing to state campaigns will have to file campaign finance reports with the state. The move, which Secretary of State John Merrill said would include “dark money” groups, comes after years of controversy over the scope and application of Alabama’s ban on transfers of money between PACs. Before the Legislature banned the practice in 2010, PAC-to-PAC transfers were used to move campaign donations to hide the source of contributions to candidates.
Alaska – Judge Refuses to Block Alaska Campaign Finance Disclosure Rules
MSN – Becky Bohrer (Associated Press) | Published: 7/14/2022
A federal judge denied a request to block campaign finance provisions of a ballot measure approved by Alaska voters in 2020, finding the plaintiffs had not demonstrated a likelihood of success on their outlined claims. The lawsuit was filed earlier this year on behalf of political donors and third-party organizations known as independent expenditure groups. They argued the disclosure rules are unconstitutional and burdensome. The plaintiffs had asked that the challenged portions of the initiative be blocked while the case was ongoing.
Arizona – AZ Secretary of State Candidate’s Nonprofit Spending Raises Questions
Arizona Daily News – Mary Jo Pitzl (Arizona Republic) | Published: 7/16/2022
Reginald Bolding, a candidate for Arizona secretary of state, is the founder and director of the nonprofit Our Voice Our Vote, a group that does not have to name its donors. Its PAC, of which he is the designated agent for federal purposes, has paid for ads promoting his candidacy. Our Voice Our Vote also is part of Activate 48, another “dark money” organization that has endorsed him and paid for mailers touting his campaign. State law bars such committees from coordinating with candidates, and violations are subject to civil penalties.
Arizona – Republican Files Complaint Against PAC Promoting Kari Lake Campaign, Says Finance Form Masks Its Donors
Yahoo News – Richard Ruelas (Arizona Republic) | Published: 7/20/2022
A Republican consultant filed a complaint against a PAC, Put Arizona First, that has spent $2.1 million to promote the gubernatorial campaign of Kari Lake, saying its financial reports served to mask the source of its donations, in violation of state law. Put Arizona First said it was funded entirely by an entity called SPH Medical LLC, whose address, according to the form, was a UPS store in Phoenix. It is the same UPS store address used by Put Arizona First itself. No such entity called SPH Medical exists in Arizona, according to corporate filings.
Arizona – The FEC Has Questions About How a PAC Backing Blake Masters Is Disclosing Its Spending
Arizona Mirror – Jerod MacDonald-Evoy | Published: 7/19/2022
A PAC funded almost entirely by billionaire Peter Thiel is facing questions from the FEC about whether it properly reported independent expenditures in support of U.S. Senate candidate Blake Masters in Arizona. The FEC is asking for a “full public disclosure” of the Saving Arizona PAC’s spending of more than $1 million against U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly, the Democratic incumbent that Masters hopes to defeat. Any independent expenditure over $10,000 requires a PAC to file what is called a 48-hour report disclosing the spending.
California – Disney Revs Up Campaign Spending in Anaheim Amid Calls to Curb Their Influence After FBI Allegations
Voice of OC – Nick Gerda | Published: 7/19/2022
Records show Disney has spent 1.3 million in the upcoming election for Anaheim mayor and city council, an amount far more than anyone else has spent on the city’s elections in recent years. That money has gone to Disney’s main political money vehicle in Anaheim, Support Our Anaheim Resort (SOAR). It comes amid an ongoing federal investigation into the city’s politics. In an affidavit, the FBI alleged a consultant close to SOAR engaged in a “fraud scheme,” but it did not allege criminal activity by Disney or SOAR.
California – Ex-Compton Councilman Isaac Galvan, Dogged by Election-Rigging Scandal, Faces $240,000 Fine
Yahoo News – Gregory Yee (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 7/14/2022
Dogged by an election-rigging scandal and an ongoing criminal case, former Compton City Councilperson Isaac Galvan could face a stiff fine from the state’s political watchdog agency for multiple campaign finance violations, including the personal use of campaign funds. The California Fair Political Practices Commission will meet to discuss a possible $240,000 fine against Galvan.
California – League of Women Voters Sues Cupertino Over Lobbyist Ordinance
MSN – Grace Hase (Bay Area News Group) | Published: 7/20/2022
Over concerns that nonprofit employees and everyday citizens may be subject to Cupertino’s lobbyist ordinance, the League of Women Voters filed a lawsuit against the city arguing the law is unconstitutional, “hopelessly overbroad,” and anti-nonprofit. The Cupertino City Council approved its lobbyist ordinance in February 2021. The ordinance has a number of exemptions to the definition of lobbyist, including for board members or employees of nonprofits. But nonprofits can still be subject to ordinance if they are lobbying for a “specific project, issue or person” and have received monetary compensation for it.
California – Oakland Wants to Give Voters Money to Make Campaign Contributions
Oakland North – Callie Rhoades | Published: 7/12/2022
Oakland voters will be asked on the November 8 ballot if they want the city to give each of them $100 in campaign vouchers that could be donated to the candidates of their choice. Broken into four $25 vouchers, the “democracy dollars” are designed to level the playing field by putting more campaign funds in the hands of Oakland voters. Historically, the city’s campaign funding has been disproportionately made up of large donors. In the last four elections, candidates who raised the most money won more than three-quarters of the contested races.
California – San Jose Mayor Travels to France on Environmental Group’s Dime
San Jose Spotlight – Jana Kadah | Published: 7/18/2022
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo took an all-expenses paid trip to France recently, and the timing is raising some eyebrows. Liccardo and state Assemblyperson Ash Kalra were among the officials and academics who traveled abroad to study and compare best policies for land preservation. Professional development trips are usually reserved for leaders with more than a couple months left in office. Liccardo is leaving City Hall in December. There is also the question of public perception when elected officials accept a paid trip from a group that has lobbied them for a vote or decision.
Florida – Tallahassee Officials Approve 10-Year Ban on Corruption-Related Felons Lobbying
MSN – Karl Etters (Tallahassee Democrat) | Published: 7/14/2022
The Tallahassee City Commissioners approved a 10-year ban on lobbying for anyone convicted of fraud-related crimes, the latest in measures intended to stamp out back-door dealings. Commissioners also approved an increase in lobbyist registration fees. Now, lobbyists will have to pay a $500 annual registration fee. Previously they paid $25 per client.
Florida – UCF Removes Departments’ Anti-Racism Statements
MSN – Annie Martin (Orlando Sentinel) | Published: 7/13/2022
The University of Central Florida removed anti-racism statements from several academic department websites, prompting renewed concern by some that a new law championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis is leading to censorship at the university. The decision to take down the statements came less than a week after the English department briefly “suspended” its version, claiming it now violated state law. The university later said department did so without “direction” from school leaders, who did not think the statements conflicted with any laws.
Florida – West Palm: Winning bidder for Sunset Lounge management contract violated anti-lobbying rules
Yahoo News – Wayne Washington (Palm Beach Post) | Published: 7/15/2022
West Palm Beach informed Vita Lounge, the local Black group that beat stiff competition to manage the city’s Sunset Lounge, it violated lobbying rules during the bidding process and has been disqualified. In notifying Vita of its disqualification, the city’s Procurement Division included instances of contact between Vita backers and city commissioners, who serve as board members of the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA). The CRA has used at least $16 million in city taxpayer money to purchase and refurbish the 1920s era supper club and lounge.
Georgia – Giuliani Ordered to Testify in Georgia 2020 Election Probe
ABC News – Kate Brumback (Associated Press) | Published: 7/20/2022
A judge in New York ordered Rudy Giuliani to appear before a special grand jury in Atlanta that is investigating whether former President Trump and others illegally tried to interfere in the 2020 general election in Georgia. Giuliani had been summoned to appear in court in New York on July 13 to present any reasons why a subpoena should not be issued for him to testify in Atlanta, but he failed to show up for the hearing, New York Supreme Court Justice Thomas Farber wrote in his order.
Georgia – GOP Fake Electors ‘Targets’ in Georgia Election Fraud Inquiry
MSN – Matthew Brown (Washington Post) | Published: 7/19/2022
Georgia prosecutors investigating potential criminal interference in the 2020 presidential election by Donald Trump and his allies have notified several Republicans who were part of a fake electors scheme they are “targets” of the probe and could face charges. Part of the probe led by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis now centers on the 16 Republicans who gathered at the Georgia Capitol on December 14, 2020, as part of an attempt to falsely certify the state’s electoral college votes for former President Trump even though Joe Biden won the state.
Hawaii – Hawaii Lawmakers Took $500k In Campaign Cash This Session Despite Pleas to Ban Campaign Cash During Session
Honolulu Civil Beat – Blaze Lovell | Published: 7/20/2022
Good-government groups and a commission convened to strengthen ethics laws have asked that the practice of lawmakers accepting campaign contributions during a legislative session come to an end. The goal is to limit even the appearance of a “pay-to-play” culture that favors those who have money. But legislators accepted $500,000 in campaign donations during the 2022 session. That is just a portion of the $7.8 million state politicians raked in during sessions in the last decade from lobbyists, developers, labor unions, and other special interest groups while making budget and policy decisions that could affect their interests.
Illinois – Chicago City Council Unanimously Passes Ethics Overhaul, Boosts Fines to $20K
WTTW – Heather Cherone | Published: 7/20/2022
The Chicago City Council approved a sweeping ethics reform measure aimed at stamping out corruption that has led to the conviction of 37 members of city council since 1969. It strengthens rules against nepotism, lobbying of city council members, and limits campaign contributions for certain contractors. The ordinance also increases fines for violating those rules from a maximum of $5,000 to $20,000. The measure was significantly revised to win the support of Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who blocked it from advancing for several months.
Indiana – Ind. Attorney General’s Comments Endangered Abortion Provider, Complaint Says
MSN – María Luisa Paúl and Kim Bellware (Washington Post) | Published: 7/19/2022
A complaint against Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita is expected to trigger a probe by the state Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Commission after he claimed on Fox News that physician Caitlin Bernard had a “history of failing to report” abortions in child-abuse cases and launched an investigation into her licensure. Records show Bernard, who administered an abortion medication to a 10-year-old girl from Ohio who was forced to travel for the service, reported the incident to relevant state agencies. The complaint alleges Rokita made “inflammatory statements on national television, without due diligence concerning their truthfulness.”
Kentucky – Proposed Ordinance Would Force People, Groups Who Lobby Louisville Metro to Register, Disclose Funding
WFPL – Roberto Roldan | Published: 7/19/2022
Louisville Metro Council is considering an ordinance that sponsors hope will generate more transparency from lobbyists and other businesses and interest groups that try to influence local legislation. The ordinance would also bar council members from profiting from lobbying their colleagues immediately after leaving office. Under the proposal, anyone who is paid to influence the decisions of the Metro Council would have to register as a lobbyist.
Missouri – FEC Member Pans Decision Not to Investigate Groups That Helped Elect Greitens in 2016
Missouri Independent – Jason Hancock | Published: 7/14/2022
A member of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) is criticizing her agency’s failure to fully investigate groups that funneled $6 million of anonymous money into Missouri to boost Eric Greitens’ 2016 campaign for governor. Commissioner Ellen Weintraub said the scheme “was clearly designed to avoid the transparency federal law requires.” But her colleagues declined to authorize a full investigation, she wrote, because they felt it would not be a wise use of the FEC’s resources.
New York – A Family Donated $300K to Hochul. New York Has Paid the Family Business $637M.
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 7/19/2022
One New York City family, led by entrepreneur Charlie Tebele, has donated nearly $300,000 to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s campaign. Records also show that since December, Tebele’s company, Digital Gadgets LLC, was paid $637 million in taxpayer funds to provide the state Department of Health, an agency controlled by Hochul, with at-home COVID-19 test kits. The huge expenditure was made without the agency conducting competitive bidding. Though Digital Gadgets has not always delivered as promised, it has continued to reap major government payments, while the family has kept donating heavily to select politicians.
New York – Bellone Vetoes Repeal of Suffolk County’s Public Campaign Finance Program
WSHU – J.D. Allen | Published: 7/19/2022
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone vetoed a bill that would repeal its public campaign finance program. Suffolk is the largest county in the state outside of New York City to have such a program. It would allow candidates for county executive, comptroller, and legislator to access public dollars to run for office. Bellone said it would be a step backwards for building diversity and equity in county government.
New York – N.Y. Assemblyman Charles Fall’s Girlfriend Lobbied Him on Various Issues, Prompting Ethics Concerns
MSN – Chris Sommerfeldt (New York Daily News) | Published: 7/18/2022
Bianca Rajpersaud, a registered lobbyist at Davidoff, Hutcher & Citron, is listed as having lobbied state Assemblyperson Charles Fall as part of 11 different contracts the firm inked in 2021 and 2022 with companies and nonprofits seeking to curry favor with lawmakers. The duo began dating in 2020. There is no requirement for lawmakers to consult the Legislative Ethics Commission about professional interactions with love interests who are not spouses. Watchdog Rachael Fauss said the lobbying raises concerns that could have been avoided if Fall was open about whether he cleared the matter with the commission.
Ohio – Experts Say P.G. Sittenfeld Could Use $975k in Campaign and PAC Funds for Appeal of Conviction
WCPO – Paula Christian | Published: 7/14/2022
Former Cincinnati City Councilperson P.G. Sittenfeld may not be running for mayor anymore, but he still has nearly $975,000 in leftover political donations that experts say he could use to pay legal fees for an appeal after a jury convicted him of bribery and attempted extortion. Sittenfeld was a rising political star who mounted an impressive campaign fund to run for mayor in 2021. But three of his donors turned out to be undercover FBI agents who were posing as out-of-town developers. They donated $40,000 to his PAC and asked for help on a project, which prosecutors described as quid pro quo.
Ohio – Ohio Supreme Court Again Rejects Republican Congressional Map, Ordering Redraw for 2024 Election
MSN – Andrew Tobias (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 7/19/2022
For the second time this year, the Ohio Supreme Court rejected state Republicans’ congressional map plan as illegally gerrymandered, citing the new language added by voters to the state constitution in 2018. But the ruling almost certainly will not affect this year’s elections since the primary election for Ohio’s ongoing congressional races was held in May, with the general election set for November. While the ruling is silent on the 2022 elections, it does not explicitly describe vacating the results of the May election and other interventions that would indicate the court is trying to block the map from being used in the current election cycle.
Rhode Island – McKee’s Former Chief of Staff Displayed ‘Very Poor Judgment’ but Committed No Crimes, Attorney General Says
MSN – Edward Fitzpatrick (Boston Globe) | Published: 7/18/2022
The Rhode Island attorney general’s office cleared Gov. Daniel McKee’s former chief of staff, Anthony Silva, of criminal activity but castigated him for exercising “very poor judgment in involving himself in a personal matter before a state regulatory agency.” Silva resigned amid scrutiny of whether he attempted to influence the state Department of Environmental Management (DEM) over a permit to develop a piece of land in Cumberland. The DEM at first rejected an application to develop the parcel, but reversed course. The investigation found Silva frequently contacted the DEM and Cumberland officials to try to advance the approval process.
Texas – AG Ken Paxton Declines to Sue Candidates, Officials Who Owe $700K in Unpaid Campaign Violation Fines
MSN – Taylor Goldsmith (Houston Chronicle) | Published: 7/14/2022
The Texas Ethics Commission, the regulatory agency in charge of enforcing campaign finance laws, does not have many tools at its disposal to go after scofflaws who have not paid fines aside from letter notifications. Its last line of defense against delinquent filers is to refer their cases to the state attorney general’s office. But Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has declined to sue hundreds of candidates and elected officials who altogether owe more than $700,000 unpaid fines for campaign reporting violations.
Washington – Armed Man Arrested Outside Home of Rep. Jayapal for Alleged Death Threat
MSN – Amy Wang (Washington Post) | Published: 7/14/2022
An armed man who reportedly threatened to kill U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal was arrested outside her Seattle home on suspicion of committing a hate crime, police said. The man, whose name was redacted from publicly available police reports, was released from jail because police could not confirm his threats or that he told Jayapal to “go back to India,” and an investigation is ongoing. Jayapal called 911 to report someone was outside her home using obscene language and may have fired a pellet gun.
Wisconsin – Milwaukee Ald. Chantia Lewis Convicted of Two Campaign Finance Felonies, Removed from Office
MSN – Allison Dir (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) | Published: 7/18/2022
Milwaukee Ald. Chantia Lewis was removed from office after her conviction on two felonies related to her conduct in office. The criminal complaint stated she used campaign funds for family trips and basic personal expenses such as car and credit card bills, engaged in “double-dipping” by filing for reimbursement for city-related travel expenses that she had actually paid out of her campaign account, and structured a campaign contribution to avoid the limits in the law.
Wisconsin – Trump Called ‘Within the Last Week’ to Overturn Wis. Election Results, Speaker Says
MSN – Timothy Bella and Patrick Marley (Washington Post) | Published: 7/20/2022
Wisconsin’s Republican house speaker said former President Trump called him “within the last week” seeking to overturn the 2020 presidential election that Joe Biden won. Speaker Robin Vos said he received a call from Trump after the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled on July 8 that most absentee drop boxes in the state are illegal. The ruling addresses future elections, not the one Trump lost in 2020 by more than 20,000 in Wisconsin.
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