April 24, 2023 •
Monday’s LobbyComply News Roundup
Campaign Finance Colorado: “Influential Conservative Dark-Money Group Doesn’t Have to Reveal Donors, Face Campaign Finance Sanctions, Denver Judge Rules” by Jesse Paul for Colorado Sun New Jersey: “Head of NJ ELEC Sues Murphy, Says New Campaign Finance Law Overhaul Is Unconstitutional” by Ashley Balcerzak […]
April 21, 2023 •
News You Can Use Digest – April 21, 2023
National/Federal DEA Chief Faces Probe into ‘Swampy’ Hires, No-Bid Contracts Associated Press News – Joshua Goodman and Jim Mustian | Published: 4/20/2023 A federal watchdog is investigating whether the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration under Anne Milgram improperly awarded millions of dollars in […]
DEA Chief Faces Probe into ‘Swampy’ Hires, No-Bid Contracts
Associated Press News – Joshua Goodman and Jim Mustian | Published: 4/20/2023
A federal watchdog is investigating whether the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration under Anne Milgram improperly awarded millions of dollars in no-bid contracts to hire her past associates, people familiar with the probe said. Among the spending under scrutiny by the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General is $4.7 million for “strategic planning and communication” and other contracts that were used to hire people Milgram knew from her days as New Jersey’s attorney general and as a New York University law professor at costs far exceeding pay for government officials.
Clarence Thomas Has for Years Claimed Income from a Defunct Real Estate Firm
MSN – Shawn Boberg and Emma Brown (Washington Post) | Published: 4/16/2023
Over the last two decades, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has reported on required financial disclosure forms that his family received rental income totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars from a firm called Ginger, Ltd., Partnership. But that company has not existed since 2006. That year, the real estate company was shut down and a separate firm was created, records show. Since that time, however, Thomas has continued to report income from the defunct company – between $50,000 and $100,000 annually in recent years – and there is no mention of the newer firm, Ginger Holdings, LLC, on the forms.
Russians Boasted That Just 1% of Fake Social Profiles Are Caught, Leak Shows
MSN – Joseph Menn (Washington Post) | Published: 4/16/2023
The Russian government has become far more successful at manipulating social media and search engine rankings than previously known, according to documents recently leaked on the chat app Discord. The Russian operators boast they are detected by social networks only about one percent of the time, one document says. A board set up to coordinate U.S. government policy on disinformation was disbanded last year after questions were raised about its purpose and a campaign was aimed at the person who had been selected to lead it.
Washington Used to Abhor Talking About Mental Health. No More.
MSN – Myah Ward (Politico) | Published: 4/17/2023
For six weeks, while U.S. Sen. John Fetterman received treatment for clinical depression at Walter Reed Medical Center, handwritten cards poured into office. His staff fielded phone calls from constituents passing along well wishes. Others called simply to thank him for being upfront about his condition. The reaction has been, overall, a pleasant surprise to Fetterman’s team, which worried about their boss and felt anxious about how the public would respond to revelations he has depression. What they and others have discovered is the country is increasingly open about it. And the politics are changing around it.
Democrats Still Face Feinstein Dilemma as Replacement Bid Fails
MSN – Liz Goodwin, Maeve Reston, and Cleve Wooten Jr. (Washington Post) | Published: 4/18/2023
Democrats’ plan to replace ailing U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein on the Judiciary Committee fell apart amid Republican opposition, leaving the party still grappling with a dilemma over stalled judicial nominees that has inflamed some in the Democratic base and complicated the race to succeed her in California. The powerful committee, which is probing allegations of financial conflicts-of-interest against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, also lacks the votes to issue subpoenas in her absence.
DeSantis Group Plans Field Program, Showing the Expanding Role of Super PACs
MSN – Michael Scherer, Isaac Stanley-Becker, and Ashley Parker (Washington Post) | Published: 4/19/2023
Never Back Down, a technically independent super PAC that unlike federal candidates can accept donations of any value from wealthy individuals and corporations, is organizing and funding efforts to assist Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in his yet unannounced campaign for president. The arrangement marks a new frontier in the rapidly shifting campaign finance landscape that governs presidential bids, as outside groups allied with candidates behave more and more like traditional campaigns.
Becerra Violated Hatch Act by Advocating for Senator’s Election, Report Finds
MSN – John Wagner (Washington Post) | Published: 4/18/2023
The Office of Special Counsel determined Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra violated a law that restricts political activities of federal employees when he advocated for the election of U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla at a Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute event. In a letter relaying the finding to President Biden, Special Counsel Henry Kerner said Becerra violated the Hatch Act when he spoke “in his official capacity” at the institute’s annual awards gala in September.
A New Smithsonian Boss Settled Multiple Employee Retaliation Lawsuits
MSN – Manuel Roig-Franzia and Thomas Floyd (Washington Post) | Published: 4/20/2023
When the Smithsonian Institution announced the selection of Nancy Yao to be the founding director of the new American Women’s History Museum planned for the National Mall or alongside the Tidal Basin, the timing seemed apt – it was national Women’s History Month. But in some corners of the museum world, the choice of Yao has evoked uncomfortable echoes of a recent and traumatic period in the history of American women: the national reckoning over sexual harassment brought on by the #MeToo movement.
Fox Was Resigned to a Tough Trial. Then, a Secret Mediator Stepped In.
MSN – Sarah Ellison, Josh Dawsey, and Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) | Published: 4/19/2023
For months, as the pretrial proceedings wore on and the embarrassing internal messages kept spilling into public view, executives at Fox News resigned themselves to a slog of a trial followed by a possible loss before a jury in the $1.6 billion lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems. But at a pre-trial hearing, Judge Eric Davis asked the lawyers for both companies to try to work out their differences. After the jury was seated and before opening arguments could begin, Davis announced, “The parties have resolved the case.”
Billionaire Harlan Crow Bought Property from Clarence Thomas. The Justice Didn’t Disclose the Deal.
ProPublica – Justin Elliott, Joshua Kaplan, and Alex Mierjeski | Published: 4/13/2023
Businessperson Harlan Crow purchased three properties belonging to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his family, in a transaction worth more than $100,000 that Thomas never reported. The 2014 real estate deal shines a new light on Thomas’s decades old relationship with Crow, a real estate magnate and longtime financier for conservative causes. That relationship and the material benefits received by Thomas have fueled calls for an official ethics investigation. A disclosure law requires justices and other officials to disclose the details of most real estate sales over $1,000.
If Tennessee’s Legislature Looks Broken, It’s Not Alone
Yahoo News – Michael Wines (New York Times) | Published: 4/13/2023
Nationwide, candidates for roughly four of every 10 state legislative seats run unopposed in general elections. And across the country, one-party control of state Legislatures, compounded by hyper-partisan politics, widespread gerrymandering, an urban-rural divide, and uncompetitive races, has made dysfunction more the rule than the exception. The lack of competition means incumbent lawmakers face few consequences for their conduct. Their legislative actions are driven in large part by the fraction of partisans who determine their fates in primary elections, the only contests where they face serious opposition.
From the States and Municipalities
Europe – EU Parliament Tightens Lobbying Rules for Ex-MEPs
Macau Business – Agence France Presse | Published: 4/17/2023
The European Parliament will prohibit former members from lobbying legislators for six months after leaving office. The reform comes as the Parliament grapples with the fallout from the scandal involving the alleged bribery of members said to have been paid to push the interests of Qatar and Morocco.
Canada – Ontario NDP Set to Try to Tighten Family Gift Rules after Ford Stag and Doe
Global News – Isaac Callan and Colin D’Mello | Published: 4/17/2023
The Ontario New Democratic Party (NDP) will introduce legislation aimed at closing a loophole that allows family members of politicians to receive gifts from people attempting to influence government policy, bringing the province’s conflict-of-interest rules in line with its federal counterparts. NDP Leader Marit Stiles said she was calling for the new rules after it was reported that several developers, considered to be “personal friends,” attended a fundraising event for Premier Doug Ford’s daughter.
Arizona – Fight to Ban State Benefits for Lobby Group Dies – Again
Arizona Capitol Times – Camryn Sanchez | Published: 4/18/2023
State Sen. Steve Kaiser revived a long-running fight at the Legislature to block employees of the League of Arizona Cities and Towns from getting state retirement benefits. The league and a few other non-government groups were not allowed to get State Retirement System benefits until 2004, when the law was changed to accommodate another group, but Kaiser argues that is not an appropriate use of state funds. He also insisted he is not out for revenge although the League opposed some of his bills this session, although the League thinks differently.
Arizona – Effort to Return Ousted Arizona Lawmaker to House Seat
Arizona Daily Star – Howard Fischer (Capitol News Services) | Published: 4/18/2023
Local Republican Party officials want former Arizona Rep. Liz Harris restored to the legislative seat from which she was just ousted. But whether that is legally or politically possible remains unclear. As required by law, precinct committee members submitted three names to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, which is scheduled to choose a replacement. In addition to Harris, the committee members chose Julie Willoughby, who lost to Harris in last year’s GOP primary by 270 votes, and Steve Steele.
California – SFMTA Commissioner Admits She Illegally Lobbied City Staff
Mission Local – Joe Rivano Barros | Published: 4/18/2023
Gwyneth Borden, the vice chair of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors, and a member of two different city commissions over the course of 15 years, was censured by the city Ethics Commission. A proposed settlement lays out the case that she spent six months illegally lobbying city staff, planning commissioners, and a city supervisor on behalf of a restaurant that paid her $12,500.
California – Santa Clara Official Indicted on Felony Perjury Charge Related to 49ers Probe
MSN – Ron Kroichick and Lance Williams (San Francisco Chronicle) | Published: 4/14/2023
A Santa Clara City Council member and former mayoral candidate who received campaign contributions from the San Francisco 49ers was indicted for allegedly lying about leaking information to a team employee. Anthony Becker was indicted for perjury in connection with allegedly leaking a secret civil grand jury report to the 49ers’ chief lobbyist. He also was charged with failing to perform his official duty. That charge alleged Becker breached confidentiality of a grand jury’s watchdog report, which criticized the 49ers’ heavy involvement in local politics.
California – Judge Declares Mistrial in Bribery Case of Former L.A. Deputy Mayor Raymond Chan
Yahoo News – Michael Finnegan (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 4/13/2023
A judge declared a mistrial in the federal bribery prosecution of former Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Raymond Chan after doctors confirmed his attorney needs months to recover from a recent hospitalization. Chan is the last defendant to face trial in a corruption scandal that exposed pervasive graft in the city’s byzantine process for approving real estate projects in downtown Los Angeles.
Colorado – House Passes Caps for Candidate Contributions in Colorado’s Local Elections
Colorado Springs Gazette – Hannah Metzger (Colorado Politics) | Published: 4/18/2023
The Colorado House approved a bill to establish a statewide limit on contributions made to candidates in local elections, sending the proposal to the Senate for consideration. House Bill 1245 would cap donations from individuals and political parties at $400 and contributions from small-donor committees at $4,000 in municipal elections, among other records and reporting requirements. Proponents said it is intended to decrease the role of money and wealthy individual donors in local elections, while critics said it would put more administrative burden on local governments and violate local control.
Colorado – New Bill Aims to Stop Colorado Utilities from Spending Ratepayer Money on Politics
Energy and Policy Institute – Joe Smyth | Published: 4/20/2023
A new bill in Colorado would stop investor-owned utility companies from using ratepayer money to fund lobbying, trade associations, promotional advertising, and other political influence efforts. The bill and hearings followed months of pressure from ratepayers on utilities, regulators, and policymakers in response to high gas and electricity bills this winter driven by high methane gas prices, and increased public scrutiny of how utilities fund their political influence efforts in Colorado.
Florida – Corruption Trial Begins for Man Who Almost Beat DeSantis
MSN – Brendan Farrington (Associated Press) | Published: 4/18/2023
Former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum pocketed illegal campaign contributions because he was having a hard time paying for his lifestyle after quitting his job to run for governor in 2018, a prosecutor said as a corruption trial began. Gillum had a large mortgage, was making payments on two expensive cars, and was paying private school tuition for his children when he quit his $120,000-a-year job at People for the American Way to run for the Democratic nomination for governor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Milligan said in opening statements.
Florida – Ex-Venezuelan Treasurer, Husband Sentenced to 15 Years in Miami Bribery Case
Yahoo News – Jay Weaver (Miami Herald) | Published: 4/19/2023
A federal judge sent a former Venezuelan national treasurer and her husband to prison for 15 years after they were convicted of accepting tens of millions of dollars in bribes in exchange for lucrative government contracts and then moving some of their illicit money to Miami in an unprecedented foreign corruption case. In addition to prison time, the judge imposed a financial forfeiture penalty of $136 million for Claudia Díaz Guillen and her husband, Adrian Velásquez, and an additional fine of $75,000 each to be paid to the U.S. government.
Georgia – Former Executive Pleads Guilty to Bribing Atlanta Officials
Yahoo News – Associated Press | Published: 4/19/2023
A former executive for a longtime city of Atlanta vendor pleaded guilty to paying bribes in exchange for millions of dollars in city contracts and to bribing an official in a neighboring county to get business there. Lohrasb “Jeff” Jafari also pleaded guilty to failing to pay more than $1.5 million in taxes. He is the latest in a string of people, including numerous former Atlanta officials, to plead guilty or be convicted by a jury as part of a federal investigation into corruption during former Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration. Reed himself was never charged with wrongdoing.
Indiana – Donor Privacy or Secrecy? Nonprofit Disclosure Bill Nears Law
Indiana Capital Chronicle – Leslie Bonilla Muñiz | Published: 4/17/2023
State and local governments in Indiana could not require nonprofits to disclose information about their donors under a bill in the state Legislature. House Bill 1212 would block all levels of government from forcing nonprofits to hand over “personal information” – defined as any compilation of data identifying nonprofit members, supporters, volunteers, or donors. It would additionally ban the public release of that information. The bill treads a narrow path between broad protections for donors and nonprofits and a detailed list of exceptions.
Iowa – Gov. Kim Reynolds Must Comply with Public Records Law, Iowa Supreme Court Rules
MSN – William Morris (Des Moines Register) | Published: 4/14/2023
A lawsuit accusing Gov. Kim Reynolds of failing to follow Iowa’s public records law can continue, the state Supreme Court ruled, saying the governor’s office can be sued just like any other public entity for not producing requested documents in a timely way. The decision came in a suit by three plaintiffs represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, who accused Reynolds’ office of “stonewalling” public records requests, in some cases for more than a year.
Kansas – Gov. Laura Kelly Signs Compromise Bill to Change Ethics Commission Subpoenas, Procedures
Yahoo News – Andrew Bahl (Topeka Capital-Journal) | Published: 4/14/2023
Gov. Laura Kelly signed a compromise effort to change the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission’s subpoena powers, as well as certain procedures in the agency charged with overseeing campaign finance and ethics matters. The move is a less aggressive version of a bill that received pushback from commission Executive Director Mark Skoglund, who criticized it for potentially allowing behavior under investigation in a major probe into legislative Republicans, county party officials, and interest groups.
Kentucky – Craft Claims Ignorance of Husband’s $1.5M Campaign Donation. Election Agency to Review
MSN – Austin Horn (Lexington Herald-Leader) | Published: 4/19/2023
The biggest source of funding for Commonwealth PAC, a group supporting Kelly Craft’s campaign for governor, is her husband Joe Craft, who gave the group $1.5 million. Kentucky Registry of Election Finance Executive Director John Steffen said it “certainly raises concerns about potential coordination” between Craft’s campaign and the PAC, which would be a violation of state law. When asked if she knew about her husband dropping such a large amount of money into the PAC, Craft said she did not know who funded the group.
Michigan – Vendor Admits Bribing Madison Heights School Leader to Win Millions in Contracts
Yahoo News – Tresa Baldas (Detroit Free Press) | Published: 4/14/2023
Contractor John David pleaded guilty to funneling thousands of dollars in bribes to a Madison Heights school board president who used the money on Florida trips and a boat slip, perks Albert Morrison got for helping his friend secure $3.1 million worth of school contracts. Prosecutors allege David paid $561,000 in bribes to Morrison, though the vendor did not admit to that amount in his plea agreement or in court.
Missouri – Missouri Lawmakers Target Revolving Door at State Lottery
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Kurt Erickson | Published: 4/19/2023
The former head of the Missouri Lottery left her post last year, but Republican lawmakers are not done battling over her tenure. After stripping funding for advertising from the Lottery in recent years, members of the House Budget Committee heard testimony on a proposal that would bar Lottery officials from working or lobbying for companies that do business with the state agency. The measure is a response to former Director May Scheve Reardon, who left the top job at the Lottery to take a job with a company that sells materials related to the Lottery’s scratch off ticket business.
Montana – Lawmakers Vote Down Proposed Changes to ’24 Senate Election
Helena Independent Record – Sam Wilson | Published: 4/19/2023
A proposal to rewrite the rules for the 2024 election for U.S. Sen. Jon Tester’s seat went down on a nearly unanimous committee vote after a Republican lawmaker said had been heavily lobbied by voters to oppose it. The legislation would have created an election in which candidates run together in the same primary, and then the top-two vote-getters advance to the general election. the proposal was written to only apply to Montana’s 2024 U.S. Senate race, earning accusations of partisan chicanery by the GOP.
Montana – Lawmakers Move to Slash Timeline for Prosecuting Campaign Finance Violations
Helena Independent Record – Sam Wilson | Published: 4/14/2023
House Bill 947 would cut the time allowed to pursue campaign finance violations in Montana to two years, instead of the current four-year period allowed for those cases to take shape. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. George Nikolokakos, told a Senate committee the legislation would bring the timeline closer to that of some other types of cases, like property damage. Former Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl said that timeline would have prevented him from pursuing a high-profile case against Art Wittich, who was found guilty in 2016 of illegally accepting corporate campaign contributions and illegally coordinating with a political group.
Nebraska – Nebraska Legislature Slow to Adopt Ethics Changes in the Year After Groene’s Resignation
Omaha World Herald – Erin Bamer | Published: 4/17/2023
It has been over a year since former state Sen. Mike Groene resigned amid allegations of workplace misconduct, and the Nebraska Legislature has not adopted many changes aimed at heading off future scandals. Some changes may be on the way, as the state’s Executive Board prepares to vote on a list of recommendations made by an interim ethics committee. But lawmakers are split in their views on whether these suggestions are sufficient. Groene resigned after news broke that he took photos of a former female staff member without her knowledge.
New Mexico – Ethics Allegations Move Forward Against State Treasurer Laura Montoya
Albuquerque Journal – Dan McKay | Published: 4/17/2023
The general counsel for the State Ethics Commission found probable cause to support allegations that Treasurer Laura Montoya violated New Mexico’s campaign finance and financial disclosure laws while running for office. The case will go before a hearing officer. The allegations center on whether Montoya failed to properly disclose the source of $10,000 in contributions and incorrectly filled out paperwork disclosing her personal finances.
New York – N.Y. Budget Chief’s Exit Prompts Inquiry into Covid Contract Deals
DNyuz – Jay Root (New York Times) | Published: 4/15/2023
The departure of two state officials in New York is now part of an inspector general review. As the deadline drew near for the state’s $220-billion-plus budget, it was announced that Sandra Beattie, the acting budget director who assembled the proposal, was being replaced. Beattie’s exit triggered a state investigation into tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer money used for no-bid contract expansions that went to private consultants under pandemic emergency decrees. Upon leaving, Beattie turned in a cellphone that had been wiped clean, making it difficult for investigators to discover if she had used it to hide potentially damaging communications.
North Dakota – Bill for Changes Sought by North Dakota Ethics Panel Goes to Burgum
Bismarck Tribune – Jack Dura | Published: 4/13/2023
Proposed changes to the North Dakota Ethics Commission’s procedures were sent to Gov. Doug Burgum. Senate Bill 2408 includes extending the time frame to notify an accused person of an ethics complaint, and adding criteria for who can make complaints. The ethics panel originally sought to add about 8,960 executive branch employees to its jurisdiction over “public officials,” but a Senate committee cut that proposed expansion from the bill.
Ohio – Former Columbus City Hall Lobbyist to Be Resentenced in Bribery Scheme
MSN – Daniel Griffin (WCMH) | Published: 4/15/2023
A federal appeals court ruled a former Columbus lobbyist must be resentenced. John Raphael faced up to 20 years in prison for accepting bribes, but U.S. District Court Judge Michael Watson sentenced him to just one day and then suspended that sentence.
Oklahoma – Okla. Governor Calls on Officials to Resign After ‘Horrid’ Audio Emerges
MSN – Jonathan Edwards (Washington Post) | Published: 4/18/2023
County officials dispatched with the agenda and ushered citizens out of a recent public meeting in southeastern Oklahoma, they spoke among themselves without realizing they were being secretly recorded. It was reported some officials hinted at assassinating a journalist who had reported on their alleged misconduct, and a county commissioner lamented about how they could no longer yank Black people out of the jail, “take them down to Mud Creek and hang them up with a … rope,” according to McCurtain Gazette-News.
Pennsylvania – Voters Are Still Getting Mailers from an Outside Group Boosting Jeff Brown for Mayor Despite a Judge’s Order
MSN – Anna Orso (Philadelphia Inquirer) | Published: 4/19/2023
The nonprofit that was sued by the Philadelphia Board of Ethics over allegations it illegally coordinated with mayoral candidate Jeff Brown says it can continue circulating literature ahead of the primary election, under certain circumstances. But the Board of Ethics disagrees on what those ads can look like, and the matter will likely need to be settled in court. A judge told leaders of A Better Philadelphia and a PAC that it funds they must, at least temporarily, stop spending money to influence the May 16 primary election. But some residents have received mailed advertisements from the nonprofit recently.
South Carolina – SC GOP Consultant Richard Quinn’s Guilty Plea Brings Closure to Statehouse Probe
Charleston Post and Courier – Caitlin Ashworth | Published: 4/19/2023
Richard Quinn, once considered South Carolina’s most powerful Republican political consultant, pleaded guilty to perjury and obstruction of justice charges tied to the investigation into corruption at the statehouse. Quinn entered an Alford plea, where he did not admit guilt but agreed a jury would likely convict him. The charges came after Quinn testified before a grand jury as part of an agreement to drop previous charges in the corruption probe that examined conflicts among lawmakers and consultants, along with state agencies and large businesses, that lobby the General Assembly.
Vermont – Full Disclosure: Vermont’s legislative ethics forms are hard to find, out of date and limited in scope
VTDigger.org – Sarah Mearhoff | Published: 4/18/2023
In Vermont, lawmakers and candidates must file reports about their financial interests. But the information, while technically available to the public, is challenging both to unearth and decipher – in some cases coming in the form of barely legible handwritten documents. Some of those are available only by going to the statehouse in Montpelier and knowing who to ask. Of the 48 states that require candidates to file such disclosures, Vermont is the only one that has no statutory mechanisms to enforce its own rules, said Christina Sivret, executive director of the state’s Ethics Commission.
April 20, 2023 •
Thursday’s LobbyComply News Roundup
Campaign Finance Colorado: “House Passes Caps for Candidate Contributions in Colorado’s Local Elections” by Hannah Metzger (Colorado Politics) for Colorado Springs Gazette Kentucky: “Craft Claims Ignorance of Husband’s $1.5M Campaign Donation. Election Agency to Review” by Austin Horn (Lexington Herald-Leader) for MSN Pennsylvania: “Voters Are […]
Colorado: “House Passes Caps for Candidate Contributions in Colorado’s Local Elections” by Hannah Metzger (Colorado Politics) for Colorado Springs Gazette
Kentucky: “Craft Claims Ignorance of Husband’s $1.5M Campaign Donation. Election Agency to Review” by Austin Horn (Lexington Herald-Leader) for MSN
Pennsylvania: “Voters Are Still Getting Mailers from an Outside Group Boosting Jeff Brown for Mayor Despite a Judge’s Order” by Anna Orso (Philadelphia Inquirer) for MSN
Montana: “Lawmakers Vote Down Proposed Changes to ’24 Senate Election” by Sam Wilson for Helena Independent Record
National: “DeSantis Group Plans Field Program, Showing the Expanding Role of Super PACs” by Michael Scherer, Isaac Stanley-Becker, and Ashley Parker (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Fox, Dominion Reach $787M Settlement Over Election Claims” by David Bauder, Randall Chase, and Geoff Mulvihill (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
National: “Democrats Still Face Feinstein Dilemma as Replacement Bid Fails” by Liz Goodwin, Maeve Reston, and Cleve Wooten Jr. (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “SFMTA Commissioner Admits She Illegally Lobbied City Staff” by Joe Rivano Barros for Mission Local
Missouri: “Missouri Lawmakers Target Revolving Door at State Lottery” by Kurt Erickson for St. Louis Post-Dispatch
April 19, 2023 •
Wednesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup
Campaign Finance New Mexico: “Ethics Allegations Move Forward Against State Treasurer Laura Montoya” by Dan McKay for Albuquerque Journal Ethics National: “Washington Used to Abhor Talking About Mental Health. No More.” by Myah Ward (Politico) for MSN Oklahoma: “Okla. Governor Calls on Officials to Resign […]
April 18, 2023 •
Tuesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup
Campaign Finance Indiana: “Donor Privacy or Secrecy? Nonprofit Disclosure Bill Nears Law” by Leslie Bonilla Muñiz for Indiana Capital Chronicle Montana: “Lawmakers Move to Slash Timeline for Prosecuting Campaign Finance Violations” by Sam Wilson for Helena Independent Record Ethics California: “Santa Clara Councilmember Anthony Becker […]
April 17, 2023 •
Minnesota Considers Bills to Overhaul Lobbyist Reporting
The Minnesota Legislature is considering two bills proposing an overhaul to the lobbyist reporting requirements. Senate File 1636 requires lobbyist principals to report the total amount, spent by the principal during the preceding calendar year on each of four types […]
The Minnesota Legislature is considering two bills proposing an overhaul to the lobbyist reporting requirements.
Senate File 1636 requires lobbyist principals to report the total amount, spent by the principal during the preceding calendar year on each of four types of lobbying:
- Lobbying to influence legislative action
- Lobbying to influence administrative action
- Lobbying to influence official action of political subdivisions
- Lobbying to influence administrative action in cases of rate setting, power plant and powerline siting, with no rounding of the amounts, so lobbyist principals will be reporting actual amount spent for each category of lobbying.
House File 1723 requires lobbyist principals to report the total amount, rounded to the nearest $10,000 spent by the principal during the preceding calendar year on each of four types of lobbying:
- Lobbying to influence legislative action
- Lobbying to influence administrative action
- Lobbying to influence official action of political subdivisions
- Lobbying to influence administrative action in cases of rate setting, power plant and powerline siting, and granting of certificates of need for a large energy facility.
Currently principals are only required to report the total amount, rounded to the nearest $20,000, for all categories.
April 17, 2023 •
Monday’s LobbyComply News Roundup
Elections Montana: “Facing Tough Senate Race, Montana G.O.P. Looks to Change the Rules” by Nick Corasaniti (New York Times) for DNyuz National: “Landmark Trial Against Fox News Could Affect the Future of Libel Law” by Michael Grynbaum (New York Times) for Yahoo News Ethics […]
April 14, 2023 •
News You Can Use Digest – April 14, 2023
National/Federal Appeals Court Upholds ‘Obstruction’ Charge Used Against Hundreds of Jan. 6 Rioters, for Now ABC News – Ryan Reilly | Published: 4/7/2023 A federal appeals court panel affirmed the government’s use of an obstruction charge used against hundreds of defendants arrested […]
Appeals Court Upholds ‘Obstruction’ Charge Used Against Hundreds of Jan. 6 Rioters, for Now
ABC News – Ryan Reilly | Published: 4/7/2023
A federal appeals court panel affirmed the government’s use of an obstruction charge used against hundreds of defendants arrested in connection with the attack on the U.S. Capitol, though the complex opinion appears likely to result in additional litigation and leaves questions about the future of the use of the statute. A three-judge panel upheld the use of the obstruction of an official proceeding charge against defendants who assaulted law enforcement during the attack.
NPR Quits Elon Musk’s Twitter Over ‘Government-Funded’ Label
ABC News – Timothy O’Brien (Associated Press) | Published: 4/12/2023
National Public Radio (NPR) is quitting Twitter after the social media platform owned by Elon Musk stamped NPR’s account with labels the news organization says undermine its credibility. Twitter labeled NPR’s main account as “state-affiliated media,” a term also used to identify media outlets controlled or heavily influenced by authoritarian governments, such as Russia and China. Twitter later changed the label to “government-funded media.”
Judge Limits Fox’s Options for Defense in Dominion Trial
DNyuz – Jeremy Peters (New York Times) | Published: 4/11/2023
A judge ruled Fox News could not argue it broadcast false information about Dominion Voting Systems on the basis that the allegations were newsworthy, limiting a key line of defense for the network as it faces the beginning of a potentially costly defamation trial. The judge also ruled Dominion could not refer to the assault on the Capitol except in very narrow circumstances, saying he did not want jurors to be prejudiced by events that were not relevant to the central question in the case: did Fox air wild claims about Dominion’s purported involvement in a conspiracy to steal the 2020 presidential election from Donald Trump knowing they were lies?
New Pressure to End Old Senate Practice After Mississippi Judicial Pick Is Blocked
DNyuz – Carl Hulse (New York Times) | Published: 4/11/2023
Democrats hoped they were on the verge of a judicial breakthrough when President Biden nominated a Baton Rouge lawyer for a U.S. District Court vacancy and the two Republican senators from Louisiana offered no objections. Getting Republican senators to sign off on Biden nominees in their home states has been a struggle, slowing the Democratic drive to fill as many judicial slots as possible. But U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, Republican of Mississippi, then said she would not allow the nomination of Scott Colom, a candidate for a court vacancy in the state, to move forward, citing his past political support from the left, among other reasons.
Witnesses Asked About Trump’s Handling of Map with Classified Information
DNyuz – Maggie Haberman, Adam Goldman, and Alan Feuer (New York Times) | Published: 4/12/2023
Investigators are asking witnesses whether former President Trump showed off to aides and visitors a map he took with him when he left office that contains sensitive intelligence information. The map has been just one focus of the Justice Department probe into Trump’s handling of classified documents after he departed the White House. One person briefed on the matter said investigators have asked about Trump showing the map while aboard a plane. Another said investigators appeared to believe Trump showed the map to at least one adviser after leaving office.
Special Counsel Focuses on Trump Fundraising Off False Election Claims
MSN – Josh Dawsey, Devlin Barrett, Rosalind Helderman, and Jacqueline Alemany (Washington Post) | Published: 4/12/2023
Federal prosecutors probing the attack on the U.S. Capitol have in recent weeks sought a wide range of documents related to fundraising after the 2020 election, looking to determine if former President Trump or his advisers scammed donors by using false claims about voter fraud to raise money. The fundraising prong of the investigation is focused on money raised during the period between November 3, 2020, and the end of Trump’s time in office, and prosecutors are said to be interested in whether anyone associated with the operation violated wire fraud laws, which make it illegal to make false representations over email to swindle people out of money.
Meta Won’t Say If Politicians Can Post AI-Made Fakes Without Warnings
MSN – Isaac Stanley-Becker (Washington Post) | Published: 4/7/2023
Political campaign operatives wrote to Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, asking how the company planned to address AI-generated fake images on its platforms. The inquiry testified to growing concern about the technology’s impact on American democracy among some of the top strategists preparing for the 2024 election. A Meta employee replied to the operatives saying such images, rather than being treated as manipulated media and removed under certain conditions, were being reviewed by independent fact-checkers who work with the company to examine misinformation and apply warning labels to dubious content.
New Report Outlines the Deep Political Polarization’s Slow and Steady March
MSN – Paul Kane (Washington Post) | Published: 4/8/2023
New research by David Wasserman, senor editor at the Cook Political Report, examines all 435 U.S. House districts to explain the geographical roots of political polarization and how hollowed-out the political middle has become. Although legislative gerrymandering plays a key role in letting representatives choose their constituents, the nation’s “urban/rural polarization” has been a much bigger factor over the past 25 years, Wasserman wrote. “The electorate has simply become much more homogenous than it used to be,” he said.
Clarence Thomas and the Billionaire
ProPublica – Joshua Kaplan, Justin Elliott, and Alex Mierjeski | Published: 4/6/2023
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas accepted luxury trips around the globe for more than two decades, including travel on a superyacht and private jet, from a prominent Republican donor without disclosing them. ProPublica reported on an array of trips funded by Harlan Crow, a Dallas businessperson. There are few restrictions on what gifts justices can accept. But Thomas’s failure to report the flights appears to violate a law that requires justices, judges, members of Congress, and federal officials to disclose most gifts, ethics law experts said.
Pressured by Their Base on Abortion, Republicans Strain to Find a Way Forward
Yahoo News – Jonathan Weisman (New York Times) | Published: 4/11/2023
Republican leaders have followed an emboldened base of conservative activists into what increasingly looks like a political cul-de-sac on the issue of abortion – a tightly confined absolutist position that has limited their options ahead of the 2024 election season, even as some in the party push for moderation. Some Republicans are warning the uncompromising position of their party’s activist base could be leading them over an electoral cliff next year.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – Arizona Republican Said She ‘Barely’ Met with Lobbyists, but Her Calendar Shows Otherwise
Arizona Mirror – Jerod MacDonald-Evoy | Published: 4/10/2023
Arizona Sen. Justine Wadsack recently said she “barely” meets with lobbyists after she faced criticism from gun control lobbyists who she refused to meet, but a copy of her legislative calendar shows the lawmaker meets regularly with lobbyists and special interest groups. Public records revealed the majority of Wadsacks’ meetings were with lobbyists, many of whom do not reside in her legislative district. Wadsack’s calendar listed four meetings with voters from her district, and more than 30 meetings with lobbyists and special interest groups.
Arizona – Arizona House Republicans Expel One of Their Own
DNyuz – Neil Vigdor (New York Times) | Published: 4/12/2023
The Arizona House expelled a Republican lawmaker who organized a presentation by an insurance agent who made unsubstantiated accusations that a wide range of politicians, judges, and public officials of both parties took bribes from a Mexican drug cartel. Rep. Liz Harris’s ouster came a day after the House Ethics Committee determined Harris violated legislative rules by inviting a witness to present false testimony.
Arizona – Printer Glitches in Ariz. Election Not Due to Malfeasance, Review Finds
MSN – Yvonne Wingett Sanchez and Isaac Stanley-Becker (Washington Post) | Published: 4/10/2023
The combination of heavier paper and longer ballots was responsible for problems tabulating votes at dozens of polling places in Maricopa County, Arizona, during last November’s midterm elections. The report’s public release marks the latest chapter in the board of supervisors’ quest to tamp down conspiracy theories about elections in the county, which is home to more than half the state’s voters. The printer problems caused confusion on Election Day as tabulators at the affected sites rejected faulty ballots.
California – What Happened on Ash Street? How a Criminal Probe into Suspected Conspiracy to ‘Defraud the City’ Was Settled with a Single Misdemeanor
MSN – Jeff McDonald (San Diego Union Tribune) | Published: 4/9/2023
When an investigator for District Attorney Summer Stephan was seeking warrants to search Jason Hughes’ home and office, he described a far-reaching conspiracy to swindle San Diego taxpayers out of millions of dollars through two separate real estate deals. Nearly two years later, Hughes pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor charge, the only defendant in a criminal probe that had earlier implicated some of the most powerful elected officials and political donors in the city. Legal experts and pundits are debating what drove judges to push for settlements in the criminal and civil cases and why San Diego officials agreed to them.
California – Bredefeld, Chavez Slap Back at Fresno County Campaign Transfer Limit. It’s Heading to Court
Yahoo News – Tim Sheehan (Fresno Bee) | Published: 4/12/2023
Two Fresno City Council members filed a motion asking a judge to find unconstitutional a county ordinance limiting what they can transfer into their pending campaigns for county office. Fresno County adopted an ordinance in 2020 that put a $30,000 cap on transfers or contributions from a candidate’s campaign account for non-county elective offices into their campaign for county offices. In its lawsuit the county is asking a court for declaratory relief and decide whether that limit can be applied.
Colorado – Tina Peters, Trump Loyalist and Former Clerk, Is Sentenced in Obstruction Case
DNyuz – Neil Vigdor (New York Times) | Published: 4/11/2023
Tina Peters, who was barred from overseeing elections in a Colorado county after her indictment on charges relating to tampering with voting equipment, was sentenced to home detention after she was convicted in a separate obstruction case. Peters, the former clerk in Mesa County, was given four months of house arrest and 120 hours of community service. A jury convicted her of stonewalling investigators from the district attorney’s office when they tried to seize an iPad from her that she had used to record a court proceeding.
District of Columbia – D.C. Housing Director’s $41,250 Bonus at Issue in Council Hearing
MSN – Steve Thompson (Washington Post) | Published: 4/12/2023
District of Columbia Housing Authority (DCHA) Director Brenda Donald recently received a $41,250 bonus on top of the $275,000 she makes annually to lead the embattled authority. She was questioned about the bonus by city council member Donald White. He also raised concerns that the DCHA is not sufficiently transparent about its affairs. At the routine oversight hearing, Donald told White that who approved the bonus and by what rationale was not his business as chair of the Housing Committee.
Hawaii – Ex-Hawaii Lawmaker Gets 2 Years in Prison for Taking Bribes
Honolulu Civil Beat – Blaze Lovell | Published: 4/6/2023
Former state Rep. Ty Cullen was sentenced to two years in prison for taking cash bribes of more than $25,000 as well as payments in the form of poker chips totaling $22,000 between 2015 and 2021 as part of a scheme to influence legislation involving wastewater and cesspools. He was also ordered to pay a $25,000 fine on top of a $23,000 forfeiture. Cullen assisted federal prosecutors as part of an ongoing investigation into public corruption in Hawaii.
Hawaii – Campaign Cash Flowed to Hawaii Senators Just Before an Energy Bill Vote. Reform Measures Won’t Stop It
Honolulu Civil Beat – Stewart Yerton | Published: 4/10/2023
Hawaii lawmakers are considering a bill that would prohibit registered lobbyists from donating to lawmakers during the legislative session. Individuals and entities who are not registered lobbyists, like the energy company executives, would still be allowed to donate during a session. A bill that would have prohibited all contributions was defeated. The bill is headed to a conference committee, where lawmakers will try to work out differences in House and Senate versions.
Illinois – Chicago Will Host 2024 Democratic Convention as Party Returns to Midwest
MSN – Katie Glueck and Shane Goldmacher (New York Times) | Published: 4/11/2023
Chicago will host the 2024 Democratic National Convention, elevating a large liberal city in the heart of the Midwest, a critical battleground region. In the final deliberations, Chicago beat out New York – another progressive city whose advocates had boasted of its infrastructure and fundraising resources – as well as Atlanta, in a presidential battleground state. Republicans plan to hold their national convention in Milwaukee, underscoring the fierce competition for the Midwest on the cusp of another presidential election.
Illinois – Federal Judge Sentences Longtime Political Operative to Probation in Corruption Probe
Yahoo News – Madeline Buckly and Jason Meisner (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 4/12/2023
A federal judge lamented the pervasiveness of public corruption in Illinois as she ordered a one-year probation sentence for a longtime Chicago fire inspector and precinct captain who admitted to lying to the FBI in connection with a bribery probe into former state Sen. Martin Sandoval. Rudy Acosta pleaded guilty to misleading the FBI in a series of interviews about its investigation into Sandoval and other elected officials. The judge stressed the importance of sending a message to those in positions of power to deter official misconduct but took into account Acosta’s health issues and his “extensive” cooperation in FBI probes.
Kansas – Judge Won’t Toss Subpoenas Directed at Kansas Republican Officials Amid Ethics Probe
Yahoo News – Andrew Bahl (Topeka Capital-Journal) | Published: 4/11/2023
A judge declined to toss a sweeping series of subpoenas issued to local Republican Party leaders, clearing a potential path for the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission to be able to be enforce the documents in court. The probe into the campaign finance activities of prominent legislators and state GOP officials has become increasingly open in recent months, with the ethics panel going to court to enforce the subpoenas and drawing pushback.
Kansas – Wichita Council OKs Airport Marketing Contract, Will Talk More About Conflicts of Interest
Yahoo News – Michael Kelly (Wichita Eage) | Published: 4/11/2023
The Wichita City Council approved a media buying contract for Eisenhower National Airport with Copp Media. The contract, approved a week after the council voted it down, includes new language prohibiting Copp from taking on mayoral or city council candidates as clients while doing business with the city. The council also voted to schedule a workshop where staff will present a policy for discussion about the ethics of double-dipping in city campaign work and city contract work.
Maryland – Chaos Erupts in House of Delegates as Tension Grips Final Moments of General Assembly Session
Maryland Matters – William Zorzi | Published: 4/11/2023
The Maryland General Assembly ended the 2023 session with high drama in both chambers as the final minutes in the House of Delegates devolved into a partisan shouting match, and the Senate president interrupted a motion for final adjournment with a last-seconds vote. The House descended into pandemonium in the final minutes amid a debate over a bill that would prohibit police from stopping or searching a person based solely on the odor of marijuana.
Michigan – Feds Unveil Corruption Charges in Mich. Marijuana Probe Involving Rick Johnson
Detroit News – Robert Snell and Craig Mauger | Published: 4/6/2023
Rick Johnson, the former chair of Michigan’s now-defunct Medical Marijuana Licensing Board, pleaded guilty alongside three others as part of a public corruption probe surrounding the state’s system for regulating medical marijuana. Johnson, who also served as House speaker, was charged with accepting bribes in exchange for licenses to launch marijuana facilities, federal prosecutors said. Also pleading guilty were two lobbyists who were charged with conspiracy to commit bribery – Brian Pierce and Vincent Brown.
New Jersey – Advocates See Few Upsides to Recent Pay-to-Play Overhaul
New Jersey Monitor – Nikita Biryukov | Published: 4/10/2023
Good government advocates warn changes to New Jersey’s “pay-to-play” laws under the Elections Transparency Act will enable corruption. Advocates warn the campaign finance bill Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law will weaken safeguards meant to prevent local and state officials from steering public contracts to donors. The law ends local “pay-to-play” ordinances that are often stricter than state law, permits the executive branch to award contracts through a system that critics have decried as a loophole, and removes donations to political parties from the list of those that invoke the anti-corruption protections.
New Jersey – N.J. Town Approves Legal Weed Business Represented by State Democratic Chair’s Lobbying Firm
Newark Star Ledger – Jelani Gibson (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 4/13/2023
The East Orange City Council approved a cannabis dispensary applicant represented by a lobbying firm belonging to New Jersey Democratic Party Chairperson Leroy Jones Jr. while rejecting a local applicant who had pointed out that connection, a move that drew scorn from residents at a council meeting. Precious Osagie-Erese, co-founder of the local applicant for a dispensary, Roll-Up Life, had been critical of Nimbus Holdings being represented in the municipality’s selection process by Jones’ lobbying firm, 1868 Public Affairs.
New York – Key Campaign Player for NYC Mayor Adams Raised Reelection Funds While Taking Money to Lobby His Office, Sparking Ethics Concerns
MSN – Chris Sommerfeldt (New York Daily News) | Published: 4/9/2023
New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ campaign fundraising manager solicited donations for the mayor’s reelection bid last year while simultaneously being paid to lobby his administration on behalf of a Manhattan property owner with business before the city, according to a review of public records. There is no indication the aide, Brianna Suggs, ran afoul of any laws in playing the dual roles.
New York – Manhattan D.A. Sues Congress Members for ‘Brazen’ Attack on Trump Prosecution
MSN – Shayna Jacobs and Amy Wang (Washington Post) | Published: 4/11/2023
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg filed a federal lawsuit against U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan and others for what the prosecutor says is a brazen and unconstitutional attack by members of Congress on the prosecution and investigation of former President Trump. The civil complaint in seeks to interrupt an investigation launched by Jordan, chair of the House Judiciary Committee. Jordan and his committee are trying to obtain confidential investigative materials compiled during the district attorney’s criminal probe.
North Dakota – Bills to Boost Campaign Finance Transparency Hit Dead End in North Dakota Legislature
Fargo Forum – Jeremy Turley | Published: 4/10/2023
A recent rise in nebulous political spending has increased the desire among lawmakers for reforming North Dakota’s campaign finance law, but most measures to expand reporting requirements fell flat this year. A unique feature of thew law means groups designated as multicandidate committees are not required to list the recipients of their expenditures.
Oregon – Oregon Secretary of State’s Office Uses Business Registry to Try to Drum Up Support for Budget Request
Oregon Capital Chronicle – Julia Shumway | Published: 4/10/2023
An email from a state division director asking customers to advocate for the agency’s budget raised eyebrows among business owners and lawmakers. The request comes as legislative budget writers urge agencies to trim their budgets, keeping open positions vacant and spending less amid economic uncertainty. Corporation Division Director Eloisa Miller emailed everyone who has registered a business in Oregon asking them to submit written testimony supporting the request.
Pennsylvania – The Philadelphia Board of Ethics Is Accusing Mayoral Candidate Jeff Brown of Illegally Coordinating with a Super PAC
MSN – Chris Brennan, Sean Collins Walsh, and Anna Orsco (Philadelphia Inquirer) | Published: 4/10/2023
The Philadelphia Board of Ethics accused a super PAC called For a Better Philadelphia and a nonprofit of the same name of coordinating with mayoral candidate Jeff Brown to circumvent the city’s contribution limits. The board asked Common Pleas Court Judge Joshua Roberts to issue an emergency order prohibiting the groups from spending money to influence the May 16 primary election and cancel any planned television advertising or other efforts to support Brown’s campaign. The board is also seeking $162,000 in fines to be paid jointly by the two groups for repeatedly violating the city’s campaign finance laws as part of the alleged scheme.
Pennsylvania – How a Pa. City Manager Allegedly Stole Thousands of Taxpayer Dollars with Virtually No Oversight
Spotlight PA – Min Xian and Angela Couloumbis | Published: 4/10/2023
Herm Suplizio, the manager of DuBois, a small city about two hours from Pittsburgh, was arrested for stealing more than $600,000 from public accounts over which he had signatory control. The scheme was so elaborate, according to officials, that investigators with backgrounds in organized and financial crimes were brought in to untangle what charging documents describe as a web of money moving in and out of accounts, with little oversight or accountability. Residents are wondering if Suplizio is convicted, how could such a large theft in a place so small occur without anyone noticing?
Tennessee – Black Lawmaker Who Was Expelled Reinstated to Tennessee Seat
Associated Press News – Jonathan Mattise, Travis Loller, and Kimberlee Kruesi | Published: 4/11/2023
One of the two Black Democrats who were expelled from the Republican-led Tennessee House was reinstated after Nashville’s governing council voted to send him back to the Legislature. The unanimous vote by the Metropolitan Council took only a few minutes to restore Rep. Justin Jones to office just four days after Republicans stripped him of his seat. The expulsions made Tennessee a new front in the battle for the future of American democracy and propelled the ousted lawmakers into the national spotlight.
Tennessee – In Tennessee, Second Expelled Black Democratic Lawmaker Is Reappointed
MSN – Robert Klemko and Karin Brulliard (Washington Post) | Published: 4/12/2023
Justin Pearson, one of two Black Democratic lawmakers expelled by Republican representatives for leading a gun-control protest on the Tennessee House floor, was reappointed to the office, returning to his seat after a tumultuous week that deepened partisan rancor in the state and transformed the pair into national political figures. Shelby County commissioners voted unanimously to reinstate Pearson two days after commissioners in Nashville voted unanimously to return the other expelled lawmaker, Justin Jones, to the statehouse.
Tennessee – Tennessee Expulsions Prompt Senate Democrats to Call for DOJ Inquiry
MSN – Matthew Brown (Washington Post) | Published: 4/12/2023
U.S. Senate Democrats urged the Department of Justice to investigate the expulsions of two state representatives in Tennessee to determine whether their removal violated the Constitution or federal civil rights law. Their letter is the first formal effort by federal lawmakers in response to the removals. The Republican-dominated Tennessee House expelled Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson both Democrats, after they led protesters in chants for gun control from the floor of the chamber.
Tennessee – Judges Block Tennessee Move to Cut Nashville Council in Half
Yahoo News – Jonathan Mattise (Associated Press) | Published: 4/10/2023
The Democratic-leaning city of Nashville’s Metropolitan Council will get to keep all 40 of its seats for now under a temporary decision issued by three state judges. The ruling stymies an effort by state Republican lawmakers to cut the council in half after it blocked the 2024 Republican National Convention from coming to the Music City. Nashville has operated under a combined city-county government system with 40 council members since 1963, when leaders were wrestling with consolidating the city and surrounding county as advocates worked to ensure Black leaders maintained strong representation.
Texas – Texas Senate Approves Ban on Local Governments Using Public Funds on Lobbyists
MSN – Hogan Grace (Austin American-Statesman) | Published: 4/12/2023
The Texas Senate approved legislation that would restrict how local governments could fund lobbyists to help them influence proposed state laws and policies moving through the Legislature. Senate Bill 175 would ban cities, counties and school districts from spending public funds to hire registered lobbyists tasked with pressing lawmakers for action. The bill also prohibits political subdivisions from using public funds to pay nonprofit state associations or organizations, such as the Texas Municipal League, that contract registered lobbyists.
Texas – Gov. Greg Abbott Announces He Will Push to Pardon Daniel Perry After Murder Conviction
MSN – Tony Plohetski, Claire Osborn, and Ryan Autullo (Austin American-Statesman) | Published: 4/10/2023
Less than 24 hours after a jury found Daniel Perry guilty of shooting to death a protester, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced he would pardon the convicted killer as soon as a request “hits my desk.” The unprecedented effort came as Abbott faced growing calls from national conservative figures to undo the conviction. “Texas has one of the strongest ‘Stand your ground’ laws of self-defense that cannot be nullified by a jury or progressive district attorney,” Abbott said in a statement.
Virginia – Hounded by Baseless Voter Fraud Allegations, an Entire County’s Election Staff Quits in Virginia
MSN – Jane Timm (NBC News) | Published: 4/10/2023
Three weeks ago, Buckingham County Registrar Lindsey Taylor, along with two part-time staffers, quit. Their resignations followed a deputy registrar who left in February. The four departures left residents without a functioning registrar’s office; there was no way to register to vote or certify candidate paperwork, at least temporarily. In January, the GOP assumed control of the Buckingham County Electoral Board that oversees Taylor’s office, and local Republicans began advancing baseless voter fraud claims that baffled her. The electoral board made it clear it wanted her out of the job.
Wisconsin – Two Candidates Tied in a Town Election. They Settled It with a Dice Roll.
MSN – Kyle Melnick (Washington Post) | Published: 4/10/2023
When Nate Bell received a photo of his Wisconsin village’s election results, he was in disbelief. The photo showed he and the other candidate for the village board’s president, Rob Zoschke, had each received 256 votes. Bell wondered how the tie would be resolved. The Village of Sister Bay’s board settled on a game of chance: a dice roll. A dice representing Bell landed on six; Zoschke’s dice stopped on two. Bell’s number was larger, so he was selected as the village’s new president.
April 13, 2023 •
Thursday’s LobbyComply News Roundup
Elections National: “Judge Limits Fox’s Options for Defense in Dominion Trial” by Jeremy Peters (New York Times) for DNyuz Wisconsin: “Two Candidates Tied in a Town Election. They Settled It with a Dice Roll.” by Kyle Melnick (Washington Post) for MSN Ethics Washington DC: “D.C. […]
April 12, 2023 •
Wednesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup
Campaign Finance North Dakota: “Bills to Boost Campaign Finance Transparency Hit Dead End in North Dakota Legislature” by Jeremy Turley for Fargo Forum Elections Arizona: “Printer Glitches in Ariz. Election Not Due to Malfeasance, Review Finds” by Yvonne Wingett Sanchez and Isaac Stanley-Becker (Washington […]
April 11, 2023 •
Tuesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup
Campaign Finance Hawaii: “Campaign Cash Flowed to Hawaii Senators Just Before an Energy Bill Vote. Reform Measures Won’t Stop It” by Stewart Yerton for Honolulu Civil Beat New Jersey: “Advocates See Few Upsides to Recent Pay-to-Play Overhaul” by Nikita Biryukov for New Jersey Monitor […]
April 10, 2023 •
Monday’s LobbyComply News Roundup
Ethics California: “What Happened on Ash Street? How a Criminal Probe into Suspected Conspiracy to ‘Defraud the City’ Was Settled with a Single Misdemeanor” by Jeff McDonald (San Diego Union Tribune) for MSN National: “Clarence Thomas and the Billionaire” by Joshua Kaplan, Justin Elliott, […]
California: “What Happened on Ash Street? How a Criminal Probe into Suspected Conspiracy to ‘Defraud the City’ Was Settled with a Single Misdemeanor” by Jeff McDonald (San Diego Union Tribune) for MSN
National: “Clarence Thomas and the Billionaire” by Joshua Kaplan, Justin Elliott, and Alex Mierjeski for ProPublica
National: “Appeals Court Upholds ‘Obstruction’ Charge Used Against Hundreds of Jan. 6 Rioters, for Now” by Ryan Reilly for ABC News
Hawaii: “Ex-Hawaii Lawmaker Gets 2 Years in Prison for Taking Bribes” by Blaze Lovell for Honolulu Civil Beat
Michigan: “Feds Unveil Corruption Charges in Mich. Marijuana Probe Involving Rick Johnson” by Robert Snell and Craig Mauger for Detroit News
National: “Amid Backlash, Twitter Changes NPR’s Account to ‘Government Funded Media'” by Paul Farhi (Washington Post) for MSN
New York: “Key Campaign Player for NYC Mayor Adams Raised Reelection Funds While Taking Money to Lobby His Office, Sparking Ethics Concerns” by Chris Sommerfeldt (New York Daily News) for MSN
Tennessee: “Tenn. GOP Deepens Racial Tension After Expelling Black Lawmakers” by Annie Gowan and Hadley Green (Washington Post) for MSN
April 7, 2023 •
News You Can Use Digest – April 7, 2023
National/Federal Attacks on Dominion Voting Persist Despite High-Profile Lawsuits DNyuz – Stuart Thompson | Published: 4/6/2023 Claims that election software companies like Dominion Voting Systems sent helped orchestrate widespread fraud in the 2020 election have been widely debunked in the years since […]
Attacks on Dominion Voting Persist Despite High-Profile Lawsuits
DNyuz – Stuart Thompson | Published: 4/6/2023
Claims that election software companies like Dominion Voting Systems sent helped orchestrate widespread fraud in the 2020 election have been widely debunked in the years since former President Trump and his allies first pushed the theories. But far-right Americans on social media and influencers in the news media have continued in recent weeks and months to make unfounded assertions about the company and its electronic voting machines, pressuring government officials to scrap contracts with Dominion, sometimes successfully.
Feds: Fugees rapper Pras Michel ran global influence-peddling scheme for cash
MSN – Josh Gerstein (Politico) | Published: 3/30/2023
In opening arguments, federal prosecutors portrayed rap star Pras Michel as a washed-up, money-hungry entertainer who embarked on a brazen secret-influence scheme aimed at the highest levels of the U.S. government. The trial is a chance for the government to recover from a string of high-profile courtroom defeats it has suffered in recent years as it followed through on promises to crack down on foreign-influence efforts.
Nashville Shooting Exploited by Right to Escalate Anti-Trans Rhetoric
MSN – Fenit Nirappil (Washington Post) | Published: 3/30/2023
Conservative commentators and Republican politicians unleashed a new wave of anti-trans rhetoric following the shooting at a Nashville Christian school that killed six people, escalating a broader backlash to the rising visibility of transgender people in public life. The attempts on the right to connect violence to transgender people come even though transgender people are rarely the perpetrators of mass shootings.
Justice Dept. Said to Have More Evidence of Possible Trump Obstruction at Mar-a-Lago
MSN – Devlin Barrett and Perry Stein (Washington Post) | Published: 4/2/2023
Justice Department investigators have amassed fresh evidence pointing to possible obstruction by former President Trump in the investigation into top-secret documents found at his Mar-a-Lago home, according to people familiar with the matter. The new details highlight the degree to which special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into the potential mishandling of hundreds of classified national security papers at Trump’s Florida home and private club has come to focus on the obstruction elements of the case – whether the former president took or directed actions to impede government efforts to collect all the sensitive records.
Dominion’s Historic Defamation Case Against Fox News Will Go to Trial, Judge Rules, in Major Decision Dismantling Key Fox Defenses
MSN – Marshall Cohen (CNN) | Published: 3/31/2023
Dominion Voting Systems’ defamation case against Fox News will proceed to a jury trial, a judge ruled, in a decision that dismantled several of the network’s key defenses. The network’s highest-ranking executives and most prominent hosts could be called to the stand to testify about the 2020 election lies that were promoted on its programs. One question that jurors will not need to weigh was whether Fox’s claims about Dominion were true or false. “The evidence developed in this civil proceeding demonstrates that is CRYSTAL clear that none of the Statements relating to Dominion about the 2020 election are true,” Superior Court Judge Eric Davis wrote.
Key Senate Dems Want Supreme Court Funding Tied to an Ethics Code for Justices
MSN – Tierny Sneed (CNN) | Published: 4/3/2023
Key Senate Democrats are calling for next year’s funding for the U.S. Supreme Court to be conditioned on the creation of an ethics code for the justices. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, who leads the appropriations subcommittee charged with writing the annual funding bill for the judiciary, has expressed support for the idea. Other members of the Democratic caucus are proposing language to be attached to next year’s funding bill that would require the Supreme Court to adopt more transparent processes for recusals and for investigating ethics allegations lodged against the justices.
Twitter Slaps NPR with a Dubious New Tag: ‘State-affiliated media’
MSN – Paul Farhi (Washington Post) | Published: 4/5/2023
Is NPR “U.S. state-affiliated media”? Twitter and its new owner, Elon Musk, seem to think so. Over NPR’s protests, Twitter placed that label on its account, implying the nonprofit news organization is somehow connected to, if not controlled by, the federal government. The designation puts NPR, which has 8.8 million followers on the site, in the same Twitter category as propaganda outlets like the Russian-government-owned RT and the Chinese Communist Party’s People’s Daily newspaper.
Pence Won’t Appeal Ruling That Compels His Grand Jury Testimony on Jan. 6
MSN – Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 4/5/2023
Former Vice President Mike Pence will not appeal a judge’s ruling that requires him to testify in front of a grand jury exploring the attack on the U.S. Capitol, likely setting up a pivotal moment in the special counsel investigation related to former President Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Pence’s decision means he will probably testify under oath about Trump’s attempts to pressure him, and he could be a key witness. Trump’s team could still appeal the ruling, but they have lost similar cases previously.
The Price of a Ballot Signature Is Way Up, and Experts Worry It’s Encouraging Fraud
NPR – Ashley Lopez | Published: 4/6/2023
Michigan’s election for governor was upended last year when several Republicans were removed from the primary ballot for problems with their voter signatures. The news highlighted instances of suspected fraud in the process, which experts say could be encouraged by higher rates signature-gathering companies are now charging for their services. As a result, states such as Colorado and California are hoping to crack down on bad actors in the signature-gathering industry.
From the States and Municipalities
Oceania – Government’s Proposed Crackdown on Lobbyists Dismissed as Too Tentative
Radio New Zealand – Staff | Published: 4/4/2023
Following a media investigation into lobbying in New Zealand, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins commissioned long-term work on regulating the industry, but in the meantime wanted lobbyists to develop their own code of conduct and is removing their swipe card access to Parliament. Hipkins said while there may not be a problem with lobbying in New Zealand, there was the perception of a problem.
Arizona – Legislative Election Committees Catered to Conspiracy Theorists
Arizona Mirror – Caitlin Sievers | Published: 4/5/2023
Republican-controlled committees in both chambers of the Arizona Legislature that were charged with vetting election-reform bills used their time this year to cater to fringe right-wing conspiracy theorists and to approve measures that would make big changes to how elections are run in this state. Both the Senate and House elections committees, chaired by Sen. Wendy Rogers and Rep. Jacqueline Parker, had their last meetings recently. They used their hearings to host presentations by election conspiracy theorists and then to advance legislation that would cater to supposed election problems and alleged fraud at the heart of those conspiracy theories.
Arizona – Legislator Testifies That She Had No Idea Guest Speaker Would Make Bribery Allegations
White Mountain Independent – Bob Christie (Capitol Media Services) | Published: 3/31/2023
An Arizona lawmaker defending herself against an ethics complaint swore she was not aware ahead of time that an insurance agent planned to present what were later called “unsubstantiated and defamatory allegations” at a legislative hearing. But Rep. Liz Harris’s repeated statements that she did not know what Jacqueline Breger was going to say at a special election hearing appeared to be contradicted by a series of text messages the Ethics Committee released.
California – Planned Construction Could Forever Change the California Capitol’s West Steps. What Would That Mean for Protests and Events?
Capital Public Radio – Nicole Nixon | Published: 4/6/2023
For more than a century, the state Capito’s west steps have been one of the definitive Sacramento and California gathering places. The historic granite steps, which lead to the Capitol’s original entrance and overlook the downtown Mall, have hosted everything from decades of pro- and anti-war demonstrations and the Women’s March to gubernatorial inaugurations. But critics say plans to build an underground visitor’s center on the west side of the Capitol could displace large gatherings for years, or permanently, and forever alter the west steps’ ability to host thousands of people.
California – Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor’s Mystery ‘Special Advisor’ Raises Legal Concerns, Experts Say
East Bay Times – Grace Hase (Bay Area News Group) | Published: 4/3/2023
Santa Clara resident and small business owner Kirk Vartan has been a special advisor to Mayor Lisa Gillmor for the last three years, but now the city says it was never aware of the appointment and few records between the two exist, sparking concerns about transparency, ethics, and even legal complications. Vartan and Gillmor said the position is volunteer only and he is not paid, and Vartan asserted the city was notified.
California – Mark Ridley-Thomas Found Guilty in Corruption Case
MSN – Matt Hamilton (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 3/30/3023
A longtime Los Angeles politician was convicted on federal corruption charges in a scheme in which prosecutors said he promised to help steer a multimillion-dollar government contract to the University of Southern California (USC) if his son got a scholarship and a teaching job. Mark Ridley-Thomas now faces the possibility of years in federal prison and the permanent loss of his seat on the city council, from which he has been suspended for the last 17 months. The foreperson of the jury said the funneling of a $100,000 donation from Ridley-Thomas’ campaign committee through USC to a nonprofit led by the politician’s son persuaded jurors to convict.
Colorado – State Increases Campaign Finance Limits
Grand Junction Daily Sentinel – Charles Ashby | Published: 4/6/2023
Voters can give a little more money to state and local candidates under new rules adopted by the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office. In its normal periodic adjustment of campaign contribution limits to account for inflation, donors can give $100 more per election to candidates as governor, attorney general, and secretary of state. For contributors to legislative races, the limit goes from $200 to $225 per election, which means a primary race and the general election, among other changes.
Florida – Florida Republicans Poised to Make More Changes to Election Laws
MSN – Gary Fineout (Politico) | Published: 4/3/2023
Florida Senate Republicans released a comprehensive elections bill that includes a provision designed to undercut legal arguments that were made by those who were charged as part of a crackdown on voter fraud. The lengthy bill also changes campaign finance deadlines, speeds up when local officials must scrub voter rolls for dead and ineligible voters, and increases fines on voter registration groups if they break the law.
Florida – DeSantis Wants State Investigation into Disney Power Play
Politico – Andrew Atterbury | Published: 4/3/2023
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, apparently outflanked by Disney in a tug-of-war over the control over the thousands of acres that is home to theme parks, is now ordering an investigation into how the dynamic shift happened. The governor requested a “thorough review and investigation” by state officials into an agreement reached by the outgoing Walt Disney Co. board aiming to stymie Florida’s efforts to grab greater authority over the company’s special land district near Orlando. That deal swung power away from the new leadership board installed by the governor and created just months ago by the Legislature.
Hawaii – Hawaii Governor Signs 7 Government, Ethics Reform Bills
MSN – Audrey McAvoy (Associated Press) | Published: 3/31/2023
Hawaii Gov. Josh Green signed seven good-government bills drafted in response to news last year that two former state lawmakers had accepted bribes in exchange for influencing legislation. One measure, House Bill 137, would require lobbyists to report not only the general subject they are advocating for but the specific bill number or the identification number of the program they discussed with officials.
Illinois – Brandon Johnson Projected to Win Chicago Mayoral Election
MSN – Kim Bellware, Sabrina Rodriguez, and Colby Itkowitz (Washington Post) | Published: 4/4/2023
Brandon Johnson, a Cook County commissioner and former public school teacher, won Chicago’s mayoral runoff. He will succeed Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who lost her bid for reelection when she came in third in February’s general election. Analysts said Lightfoot bore the brunt of the blame for an increase in crime across the city. Johnson’s win over Paul Vallas, a conservative Democrat, was a major victory for the liberal wing of the party.
Indiana – City Council Creates Committee to Develop Ethics Commission for Muncie Government
Yahoo News – David Penticuff (Muncie Star Press) | Published: 4/4/2023
The Muncie City Council took an initial step toward establishing a ethics commission to provide oversight and guidance for city government. Council members adopted a resolution creating a nine-member ethics advisory committee of people from outside local government to explore the creation of a commission. A proposed ethics code would govern elected officials, appointees to boards and commissions, city employees, and individuals and entities that have a business relationship with Muncie.
Maine – Penobscot County Commissioner Voted to Give Contract to His Business Associate
Bangor Daily News – Sawyer Loftus | Published: 4/5/2023
The chairperson of the Penobscot County Commission voted to hire a lobbyist he personally worked with as recently as last year. Andre Cushing did not recuse himself from a vote in January for the county to enter into a contract with Patriot Consulting, which is owned and operated by Zachary Lingley, a lobbyist and political operative. The ethics policy states county employees should not carry on county business with a firm in which the county employee has an interest.
Maryland – Roy McGrath Shot Dead in Tennessee as FBI Closed in After Three-Week Search
MSN – Alex Mann and Lee Sanderlin (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 4/4/2023
Roy McGrath was fatally shot as federal agents sought to arrest him in Tennessee, ending a three-week fugitive search for former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s ex-chief of staff. McGrath was supposed to stand trial on fraud charges in the U.S. District Court in Baltimore on March 13. He never showed up. Prosecutors allege McGrath stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from the state during his tenure at the helm of the government-owned nonprofit Maryland Environmental Service.
Missouri – Judge Rejects Ex-Missouri Lawmaker’s Push to Overturn Revolving-Door Lobbying Ban
Missouri Independent – Rudi Keller | Published: 4/3/2023
Missouri’s ban on lobbying by lawmakers and legislative staff ban does not violate the right to free speech, a federal judge ruled. Former state Rep. Rocky Miller and General Assembly employee John LaVanchy sued to overturn the lobbying ban, which voters approved in 2018 as part of the Clean Missouri amendment to the state constitution. The amendment prohibits current lawmakers and employees of the General Assembly from paid lobbying during their time of service and for two years after they leave office.
Missouri – Missouri Anti-Discrimination Agency Dysfunctional, Lawyers Say, as Chairman Condemned
Yahoo News – Jonathan Shorman (Kansas City Star) | Published: 4/5/2023
When the chairperson of the Missouri Commission on Human Rights spoke against adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s non-discrimination law, the remarks provoked outrage among Democrats and LGBTQ advocates. But the comments from Timothy Faber have also turned a spotlight on the commission itself, which lawyers and employment discrimination experts say is a broken agency unable to effectively respond to allegations of discrimination.
Montana – Proposed Constitutional Amendment Would End Montana Supreme Court Elections
Montana Free Press – Arren Kimbel-Sannit | Published: 3/30/2023
The House Judiciary Committee endorsed a proposed constitutional amendment that would end state Supreme Court elections in Montana, giving the governor power to appoint justices to the bench with Senate confirmation. House Bill 915 is the long-awaited culmination of Republican efforts this year to remake the state court system and its processes. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Bill Mercer, framed the bill as an effort to combat the proliferation of campaign money in state judicial elections.
Nebraska – Goins Resigns Amid Questions About Conflicts of Interest, Improper Use of State Email
Nebraska Examiner – Paul Hammel | Published: 4/5/2023
Nebraska’s top economic developer, Tony Goins, announced his resignation amid questions about conflicts-of-interest between his state job and co-ownership of a Lincoln cigar lounge. Goins had served as director of the Department of Economic Development since 2019. Media reports detailed instances when Goins directed business to the Capital Cigar Lounge, in which he has a 51 percent ownership interest.
New Jersey – Murphy Signs Disputed Election Finance Bill That Gives Him More Power Over Watchdog Agency
Yahoo News – Ashley Balcerzak (Bergen Record) | Published: 4/3/2023
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed a controversial overhaul of the state’s campaign finance system that drastically raises limits on political contributions, curbs investigations of campaign finance violations, loosens the “pay-to-play” law, and gives Murphy more power over the Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC). All three ELEC members resigned in protest after the General Assembly approved the legislation. Lawmakers pulled the bill from scheduled full chamber votes several times after substantial provisions were added and pushed through the process at the last minute.
New York – Trump Indictment Follows 50 Years of Investigation on Many Fronts
MSN – Marc Fisher (Washington Post) | Published: 3/30/2023
Donald Trump has portrayed himself as the consummate dealmaker and the ultimate escape artist, an entrepreneur turned politician who managed to avoid major consequences despite having been investigated in every decade of his adult life by federal and state agencies, by bankers and casino regulators, by legions of prosecutors and competitors. Now, 50 years after federal officials first accused Trump and his father of violating laws that barred racial discrimination in apartment rentals, the former president has been indicted.
New York – Trump Pleads Not Guilty to 34 Felony Charges
Politico – Erica Orden, Kyle Cheney, and Josh Gerstein | Published: 4/4/2023
A stone-faced Donald Trump made a momentous courtroom appearance when he was confronted with a 34-count felony indictment charging him in a scheme to bury allegations of extramarital affairs that arose during his first White House campaign, becoming the first ex-president to ever face criminal charges. The indictment centers on allegations Trump falsified internal business records his private company while trying to cover up an effort to illegally influence the 2016 election by arranging payments that silenced claims potentially harmful to his candidacy.
North Carolina – N.C. Lawmaker Flips Parties, Handing State GOP a Veto-Proof Majority
MSN – Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff (Washington Post) | Published: 4/4/2023
A North Carolina lawmaker elected as a Democrat is defecting to the GOP, handing Republicans a veto-proof supermajority in the state Legislature. Rep. Tricia Cotham’s party change gives the GOP increased power over key issues like abortion and elections. She cited her treatment by Democrats as her motivation to switch parties. Cotham said she has been “bullied” for not toeing the party line and accused Gov. Roy Cooper and the state Democratic Party of demanding she follow the lead of top state officials.
Ohio – Dobos Resigns as Vice Chair of Ohio House Higher Ed Committee Over False MIT Grad Claim
MSN – Bill Bush (Columbus Dispatch) | Published: 4/5/2023
Ohio Rep. David Dobos resigned as vice chair of the House Higher Education Committee following a report that he falsely claimed to have graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The claim of holding an MIT degree has been repeated by Dobos often dating back some 30 years, in everything from campaigns to casual conversations. Dobos has already come under scrutiny for not disclosing $1.45 million in outstanding debts. State law requires legislative candidates to disclose people or businesses to whom they owe more than $1,000.
Ohio – AEP Doesn’t Have Much to Say About Its Support for Corrupt Utility Bailout
Ohio Capital Journal – Marty Schladen | Published: 4/3/2023
The utility AEP was not at the center of a bribery and money-laundering scandal in 2019. But it also was not very far away as a corrupt deal was hatched in the Ohio Capitol to use $61 million in bribes to pass a $1.3 billion bailout for nuclear power plants. AEP came up repeatedly in the trial that ended in the racketeering convictions of former House Speaker Larry Householder and former state GOP Chairperson Matt Borges. Through its dark-money group, AEP provided more than $900,000 that was used to help pass the bailout. It has received more than $60 million to subsidize aging coal plants that belong to a consortium in which it owns a 40% stake.
Oregon – Portland Auditor Finds Insufficient Evidence ShotSpotter Violated City Code
Oregon Public Broadcasting – Jonathan Levinson | Published: 4/4/2023
An investigation by the city auditor’s office found insufficient evidence that gunshot detection company ShotSpotter violated Portland’s lobbying rules, clearing the way for the city’s pursuit of the technology. After receiving a complaint, the auditor’s office reviewed whether ShotSpotter had passed the time or monetary thresholds in its courting of the city for a contract that would have required it to register as a lobbying entity. Private companies are required to register as lobbying entities if they have spent eight cumulative hours or at least $1,000 during any calendar quarter lobbying.
Pennsylvania – Campaign Finance, Lobbying Reform Still Receiving Little Attention in Pa. Legislature
Spotlight PA – Angela Couloumbis | Published: 3/31/2023
During the five hours that legislators questioned Pennsylvania Department of State officials during recent hearings, they inquired about the agency’s work on campaign finance and lobbying just twice. For those who follow the Capitol closely, it came as little surprise. Republican legislative leaders have not substantively discussed improving the state’s campaign finance and lobbying disclosure rules for more than a decade, despite calls by good-government advocates and others for changes.
Tennessee – Tennessee GOP Begins Expulsion Process for 3 Democrats, House Session Devolves into Chaos
MSN – Melissa Brown and Vivian Jones (Tennessean) | Published: 4/4/2023
Tennessee House Republicans introduced resolutions to expel three Democrats for “disorderly behavior” after the trio led protest chants for gun reform on the floor of the chamber in the wake of the deadly Covenant School shooting. The three House Democrats had approached the podium between bills without being recognized to speak, a breach of chamber rules. With a bullhorn, Reps. Gloria Johnson, Justin Jones, and Justin Pearson led protestors in the galleries in several chants calling for gun reform. House leadership later likened the trio’s behavior to an “insurrection.”
Texas – Texas Judge Orders Banned Books Returned to Library Shelves
MSN – Cheyanne Daniels (The Hill) | Published: 4/3/2023
A federal judge in Texas ruled Llano County officials must return more than a dozen books they had banned and removed from the county’s library shelves during 2021. The preliminary order by U.S. District Court Judge Robert Pitman also prohibited the county from removing any other books as the court case is pending. The library’s catalog is required to be updated to show county residents the removed books are once again available. In his ruling, Pitman said, “Defendants removed the books at issue to prevent access to viewpoints and content to which they objected.”
Texas – Bills Advance to Close Loophole Allowing Some Lawmakers to Increase Their Pay to $140,000
Texas Tribune – James Barragán | Published: 3/29/2023
Lawmakers are moving forward with a measure to do away with a loophole that allows long-serving legislators to increase their annual pay by $140,000 by dipping into their pension while continuing to draw a state salary. Pension payments for state employees grow based on years of service and are typically capped at the state worker’s maximum salary. But state lawmakers, who make an annual salary of $7,200, have retirement benefits tied to the salaries of state District Court judges, who make $140,000, meaning lawmakers who stay in office could have an opportunity to collect retirement payments that far exceed their state salaries.
Virginia – Judge Orders GOP Primary in Va. Senate Race After Party Official Sues
MSN – Laura Vozzella (Washington Post) | Published: 3/30/2023
A judge ordered Virginia to hold a Republican primary in a Suffolk-area state Senate contest, ruling in favor of a Republican official who accused Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s chief of staff and Attorney General Jason Miyares of pressuring the state elections chief into canceling it in favor of a convention. Circuit Court Judge Claire Cardwell ordered state Elections Commissioner Susan Beals to once again schedule the June Republican primary that had been announced but then called off.
Wisconsin – Liberals Win Control of Wisconsin Supreme Court Ahead of Abortion Case
MSN – Patrick Marley (Washington Post) | Published: 4/4/2023
Liberals claimed control of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, giving them a one-vote majority on a body that in the coming years will likely consider the state’s abortion ban, its gerrymandered legislative districts, and its voting rules for the 2024 presidential election. Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz’s victory over former state Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly will end 15 years of conservative control of the court. Candidates, political parties, and independent groups spent more than $40 million on the race, making it the most expensive judicial contest in U.S. history.
April 6, 2023 •
Thursday’s LobbyComply News Roundup
Elections Arizona: “Legislative Election Committees Catered to Conspiracy Theorists” by Caitlin Sievers for Arizona Mirror Illinois: “Brandon Johnson Projected to Win Chicago Mayoral Election” by Kim Bellware, Sabrina Rodriguez, and Colby Itkowitz (Washington Post) for MSN Ethics Indiana: “City Council Creates Committee to Develop Ethics […]
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