February 6, 2023 •
Campaign Finance National: “Federal Election Commission Hikes Contribution Limits Ahead of 2024 Election Cycle” by Taylor Giorno for OpenSecrets Illinois: “New Illinois Supreme Court Justices Got Major Boost from Hidden Spending by Democratic Group” by Ray Long and Rick Pearson […]
National: “Federal Election Commission Hikes Contribution Limits Ahead of 2024 Election Cycle” by Taylor Giorno for OpenSecrets
Illinois: “New Illinois Supreme Court Justices Got Major Boost from Hidden Spending by Democratic Group” by Ray Long and Rick Pearson (Chicago Tribune) for MSN
North Dakota: “Opposites Align in Push to Clamp Down on Dark Money in North Dakota Campaigns” by Jeremy Turley for Dickinson Press
National: “DNC Approves Biden Plan to Remake 2024 Calendar but Hurdles Remain” by Dylan Wells and Tyler Pager (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Feds Probing Santos’ Role in Service Dog Charity Scheme” by Jacqueline Sweet (Politico) for MSN
Michigan: “Feds Investigate Ex-Michigan House Speaker Rick Johnson for Alleged Bribery in Pot Licensing” by Robert Snell and Craig Mauger (Detroit News) for Gwinnett Daily Post
New Mexico: “Legislators Take Aim at Secrecy Rule in Harassment Complaints” by Dan McKay for Albuquerque Journal
Oregon: “In the Fight Over Gas Stoves, Meet the Industry’s Go-To Scientist” by Hiroko Tabuchi (New York Times) for DNyuz
February 3, 2023 •
National/Federal At the Supreme Court, Ethics Questions Over a Spouse’s Business Ties Seattle Times – Steve Eder (New York Times) | Published: 1/31/2023 After Chief Justice John Roberts joined the U.S. Supreme Court, his wife, Jane Sullivan Roberts, gave up her […]
At the Supreme Court, Ethics Questions Over a Spouse’s Business Ties
Seattle Times – Steve Eder (New York Times) | Published: 1/31/2023
After Chief Justice John Roberts joined the U.S. Supreme Court, his wife, Jane Sullivan Roberts, gave up her career as a law firm partner to become a legal recruiter to alleviate potential conflicts-of-interest. Now, a former colleague of Mrs. Roberts raised concerns that her recruiting work poses potential ethics issues for the chief justice. Seeking an inquiry, the ex-colleague has provided records to the Justice Department and Congress indicating Mrs. Roberts has been paid millions of dollars in commissions for placing lawyers at firm, some of which have business before the Supreme Court.
Biden Lawyer: FBI finds no classified docs at beach house
Associated Press News – Eric Tucker, Colleen Long, and Zeke Miller | Published: 2/1/2023
The FBI searched President Joe Biden’s vacation home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, without finding any classified documents, the president’s attorney said. Agents did take some handwritten notes and other materials relating to Biden’s time as vice president for review. The search was the latest discomfiting moment for a president who has sought to contrast his sensitivity to rule-following with that of Donald Trump, who faces a criminal investigation into his handling of classified documents.
Court Blocks DOJ Review of Scott Perry’s Phone in Jan. 6 Probe
MSN – Spencer Hsu, Jacqueline Alemany, and Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) | Published: 1/31/2023
An appeals court put on hold the search of U.S. Rep. Scott Perry’s phone data in the probe of the Capitol insurrection pending appeal. Perry’s appeal sets the stage for a constitutional test over the scope of immunity held by members of Congress from criminal investigation by the Justice Department under the Constitution’s “speech or debate clause,” which protects legislative work from executive branch interference. House leaders from both parties concluded that at least reviewing Perry’s case and weighing in on its impact on Congress’s constitutional independence is in its best interests.
EU Lobby Register Still Riddled with Errors
EU Observer – Nikolaj Nielsen | Published: 1/31/2023
The European Union’s lobby register remains riddled with errors, as pro-transparency campaigners demand better data and mandatory oversight rules. The latest findings come amid a raft of proposals by the European Parliament president to weed out corruption in the wake of a lobbying scandal. Vicky Cann of the Corporate European Observatory identified some 431 suspicious entries, which were then reviewed by the register’s secretariat. The secretariat then reached out to each one and found only three percent of the original entries were correct.
Google’s Ex-CEO Eric Schmidt Tapped for Federal Biotech Commission That Allows Members to Keep Biotech Investments
CNBC – Eamon Javers | Published: 1/31/2023
Leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services committees announced the selection of former Google Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt and 11 others to serve on a new commission on biotechnology. It is tasked with reviewing the biotech industry and suggesting investments that would benefit national security. But the appointment does not require members to divest their own personal biotech investments. Schmidt holds stakes in several biotech companies, placing him in a position to potentially profit if those companies are the beneficiaries of a new wave of federal spending.
GOP Report Shows Plan to Ramp Up Focus on Disproven Election Fraud Claims
MSN – Amy Gardner and Isaac Arnsdorf (Washington Post) | Published: 1/31/2023
A new internal report prepared by the Republican National Committee proposes creating a permanent infrastructure in every state to ramp up “election integrity” activities in response to perceptions within GOP ranks of widespread fraud and abuse in the way the country selects its leaders. The report suggests building a massive new party organization involving state-level “election integrity officers” and intensive new training models for poll workers and observers, all based on unsubstantiated claims that Democrats have implemented election procedures that allow for rigged votes.
How Barr’s Quest to Find Flaws in the Russia Inquiry Unraveled
DNyuz – Charlie Savage, Adam Goldman, and Katie Benner (New York Times) | Published: 1/26/2023
Then-Attorney General William Barr in 2019 set out to dig into the theory the investigation to Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign ties to Russia likely stemmed from a conspiracy by intelligence or law enforcement agencies. Barr turned to prosecutor John Durham to prove the theory, and later granted him special counsel status. But after almost four years, Durham’s work is coming to an end without uncovering anything like the deep state plot alleged by Trump and suspected by Barr. The New York Times found Durham’s inquiry was marked by some of the very same flaws that Trump allies claim characterized the Russia investigation.
Hunter Biden’s Lawyers, in Newly Aggressive Strategy, Target His Critics
MSN – Matt Viser (Washington Post) | Published: 2/1/2023
Hunter Biden’s lawyers sent a series of letters to state and federal prosecutors urging criminal investigations into those who accessed and disseminated his personal data and sent a separate letter threatening Fox News host Tucker Carlson with a defamation lawsuit. The string of letters, which included criminal referrals and cease-and-desist missives aimed at critics and detractors, marked the start of a new and far more hard-hitting phase for the president’s son just as House Republicans prepare their own investigations into him.
‘Just Off K Street’ Lobbyist Sheds Instagram Alias and Day Job
Bloomberg Law – Jack Fitzpatrick | Published: 1/26/2023
The lobbyist behind the popular Instagram account about Washington’s lobbying culture is stepping away from the daily grind on Capitol Hill, but not before shedding her anonymity. Katie McMichael, manager of government relations at Aurora Innovation, said she will maintain her “Just Off K Street” Instagram presence, but she is taking a reprieve from government affairs to spend more time with her family. Most of her 1,500 posts frequently lament the exhausting absurdity of Congress, told from the perspective of a bedraggled industry association lobbyist just trying to get through the day.
Justice Department Asks FEC to Stand Down as Prosecutors Probe Santos
MSN – Isaac Stanley-Becker and Emma Brown (Washington Post) | Published: 1/27/2023
The Justice Department asked the FEC to hold off on any enforcement action against U.S. Rep. George Santos, who lied about key aspects of his biography as prosecutors conduct a parallel criminal probe. The request also asked the FEC to provide any relevant documents to the Justice Department. The FEC ordinarily complies with the department’s requests to hold off on enforcement. Those requests arise from a 1977 memorandum of understanding between the agencies that addresses their overlapping law enforcement responsibilities.
National Archives Asks Past Presidents, VPs to Look for Classified Items
MSN – Jacqueline Alemany (Washington Post) | Published: 1/26/2023
The National Archives sent a letter to representatives of living former presidents and vice presidents asking them to review their personal records to verify that no classified materials are outstanding. The request comes after a limited number of records bearing classified markings were found in recent weeks at President Biden’s home and a think tank bearing his name, as well as at the home of former Vice President Mike Pence.
Redistricting Lawsuits Could Shape the 2024 Battle for House Control
MSN – Daniel Altimari (Roll Call) | Published: 1/30/2023
The reconfiguration of political districts after the 2020 census resulted in a flood of legal challenges, some of which remain unresolved. The 15 states with ongoing litigation include New York and Texas – home to 64 seats combined – along with the battleground state of Georgia. After Republicans flipped nine seats in November, Democrats need to win five back to retake the majority, so redrawn maps could be a factor in shaping party control in the 2024 elections.
Rep. George Santos Is Stepping Down from Committees Amid Fabrications About His Biography
MSN – Meryl Kornfield, Leigh Ann Caldwell, and Marianna Sotomayor (Washington Post) | Published: 1/31/2023
Embattled U.S. Rep. George Santos told House Republicans he will step down temporarily from his committee assignments amid multiple investigations into his campaign finances after he lied about key aspects of his biography. The temporary retreat from committees marks Santos’s first major concession after weeks of maintaining a steadfast resistance to any consequences over his fabrications.
Statehouse Efforts to Avoid Partisan Gridlock Hit Obstacles
Yahoo News – Amee LaTour (The Hill) | Published: 1/31/2023
Leaders in state Legislatures across the country have turned to cross-party alliances and power-sharing agreements as they seek to avoid the political deadlock that has hindered lawmakers in Congress, but signs are emerging that some of those efforts might be in vain. It underscores the fact that while these coalitions may enable lawmakers to avoid political paralysis at least temporarily, they are not a cure-all for the hyper-partisanship plaguing the country as a whole.
Trump’s Evolution in Social Media Exile: More QAnon, more extremes
Yahoo News – Ken Bensinger and Maggie Haberman (New York Times) | Published: 1/29/2023
In September, former President Trump went on Truth Social and shared an image of himself wearing a lapel pin in the form of the letter Q, along with a phrase closely associated with the QAnon conspiracy theory movement: “The storm is coming.” In doing so, Trump ensured the message would be hugely amplified, visible to his more than 4 million followers. Even as Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, announced Trump would be reinstated, there is no sign he has curtailed his behavior or stopped spreading the kinds of messages that got him exiled in the first place.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – Arizona Republicans Exempt Lawmakers from the State’s Open-Records Law
MSN – Patrick Marley and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez (Washington Post) | Published: 1/26/2023
Arizona Republicans shielded legislators from the state’s open-records law, a move that comes months after the release of thousands of documents detailing extensive efforts to undermine Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election in the state. Senators will not have to disclose any text messages sent on personal devices, even when dealing with state business. For lawmakers in both the Senate and the House, emails and other documents will be destroyed after 90 days – in many cases, well before members of the public know to ask for them.
Arizona – GOP Leaders Pressure Hobbs to Donate $1.3M in Excess Inaugural Cash
KJZZ – Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services) | Published: 1/26/2023
The top two Republican lawmakers want Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs to put money left over from the inaugural celebration into a state account, where it cannot be used to elect more Democrats. House Speaker Ben Toma and Senate President Warren Petersen called on her to surrender control of what is left from the more than $1.5 million she collected for the celebration. At the same time, the costs totaled only about $207,000.
Florida – Hide Your Books to Avoid Felony Charges, Fla. Schools Tell Teachers
MSN – Hannah Natanson (Washington Post) | Published: 1/31/2023
School officials in at least two Florida counties, Manatee and Duval, have directed teachers to remove or wrap up their classroom libraries. The removals come after the State Board of Education ruled a state law restricting the books a district may possess applies not only to schoolwide libraries but to teachers’ classroom collections, too. The law mandates that schools’ books be age-appropriate, free from pornography, and “suited to student needs.” Breaking the law is a third-degree felony, meaning a teacher could face up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine for displaying or giving students a disallowed book.
Florida – Penalty Decided for Manatee Commissioner Baugh Who Violated Ethics in Vaccine Rollout
MSN – Ryan Callihan (Bradenton Herald) | Published: 1/27/2023
The Florida Ethics Commission on Ethics accepted Manatee County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh’s proposed settlement over scheduling herself an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine site she helped organize. Baugh was ordered to pay $8,000 and accept a public reprimand. Baugh sent an email to county staff with personal information for herself, a developer, and two former neighbors. Staff members said they understood the list to be a clear directive to ensure those people received a COVID-19 vaccine. At the time, more than 100,000 people were in the county’s vaccine waiting pool.
Illinois – Ethics Board Warns Candidates: Don’t use uniformed cops in your ads
WTTW – Heather Cherone | Published: 2/1/2023
The Board of Ethics warned candidates running for mayor, city council, and Police District Council to not use images of uniformed Chicago police officers, firefighters, or city personnel in campaign advertisements. U.S. Rep. Jesús García edited his first television advertisement in the race for mayor to remove images of the candidate talking to two uniformed officers while promising to get tough on crime. Representatives of the police department confirmed the two officers were under investigation.
Illinois – Jury Finds Son of Former State Rep. Edward Acevedo Guilty of Tax Evasion Charges with Ties to ComEd Bribery Probe
MSN – Jason Meisner (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 1/30/2023
The son of former state Rep. Edward Acevedo was found guilty of tax evasion charges that were an offshoot of the investigation into Commonwealth Edison’s (ComEd) alleged attempts to influence then-Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. Alex Acevedo was convicted for underreporting his lobbying income by about $70,000 in 2016 and 2018, resulting in a total tax loss of about $20,000. Though relatively minor in scope, the indictment against Alex Acevedo, along with separate charges filed against his younger brother and their father, received widespread attention due to the connection to the ComEd probe.
Iowa – State Agency Can’t Enforce Iowa’s Campaign Finance Laws; Asks Lawmakers for Changes
KCRG – Ethan Stein | Published: 1/27/2023
According to data from the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board, thousands of politicians and advocacy groups have received fines for submitting campaign finance reports late. An investigation found hundreds of fines have not been paid because state law does not set a deadline for when the penalty is paid. It also found the agency’s data is inaccurate and campaigns, along with advocacy groups, were not notified about penalties.
Kansas – Kansas Republicans Tried to Oust Ethics Head Amid Subpoenas. Will They Try Again?
Yahoo News – Andrew Bahl (Topeka Capital-Journal) | Published: 1/26/2023
Kansas Senate President Ty Masterson wants to reopen discussions about the scope and management of the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission as the office pursues an investigation into campaign finance violations involving Republican officials. Masterson did not provide details on what action would be pursued but he said that under previous directors, lawmakers looked to the commission for guidance and cannot anymore. Although the ethics agency is an independent body that has jurisdiction to investigate lawmakers, Masterson said legislative efforts to change the commission were appropriate.
Massachusetts – Mass. Republican Party Elects New Leader, Rejecting Chairman Jim Lyons’ Bid for Third Term
MSN – Emma Platoff (Boston Globe) | Published: 1/31/2023
After years of dismal election results and weak fundraising, the Massachusetts Republican Party picked a new leader, narrowly rejecting the embattled chairperson, Jim Lyons. in favor of Amy Carnevale, a lobbyist for K&L Gates who promised to steady the party and reverse its electoral decline. Documents obtained by the Globe showed Lyons used party funds to investigate two fellow Republicans. He also appears to have communicated directly with an outside PAC about digging up dirt on Gov. Maura Healey during last year’s election.
Missouri – Former St. Louis County Official Sentenced to Prison for COVID Relief Kickback Scheme
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Katie Kull | Published: 1/26/2023
A former St. Louis County jail official who was long involved with politics and government was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for engaging in a pandemic relief kickback scheme. While still working for the county, Tony Weaver filled out fraudulent applications and sought kickbacks from a small businessperson who applied for multiple grants during the COVID-19 pandemic, a scheme Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal Goldsmith said revealed Weaver’s “unbridled arrogance.”
New Mexico – New Mexico Bill to Restrict Lobbyist ‘Revolving Door’ Advances
Albuquerque Journal – Dan McKay | Published: 1/30/2023
A proposal moving through the New Mexico Senate would prohibit former legislators and executive branch appointees from returning immediately to the Capitol as paid lobbyists. The legislation was sharply expanded in committee. The change adds employees who serve at will under the governor to the two-year lobbying ban. At least 20 former legislators and state officials are among the hundreds of people registered to lobby this session, though many of them served several years ago.
New Mexico – New Mexico Considers Roasted Chile as Official State Aroma
MSN – Susan Montoya Bryan (Associated Press) | Published: 2/1/2023
The smell of green chile roasting on an open flame permeates New Mexico every fall, wafting from roadside stands and grocery store parking lots. Now one state lawmaker says it is time for everyone to wake up and smell the chile. Sen. Bill Soules’ visit with fifth grade students in his district sparked a conversation about the hot peppers and the potential for New Mexico to become the first state to have an official state aroma, a proposal now being considered by lawmakers.
New York – Hochul’s Vow to Boost Ethics and Sexual Harassment Training Falls Flat
DNyuz – Jay Root (New York Times) | Published: 1/29/2023
On her first day as governor of New York, Kathy Hochul vowed to overhaul policies on ethics and sexual harassment in the government workplace. Her predecessor, Andrew Cuomo, had just resigned amid a sexual harassment scandal. Hochul said she would strengthen the training, requiring state workers to participate in live classes and seminars. No longer would employees “click their way through a class,” Hochul said. Nearly a year and a half later, there is still no universal live training in either subject for the state’s work force.
New York – Inside George Santos’s District Office: Nothing to see here
Buffalo News – Dana Rubinstein (New York Times) | Published: 1/30/2023
The storefront in the Tudor Revival building in the Douglaston neighborhood of Queens has lived many lives: It was a flower shop; the satellite office of former U.S. Rep. Thomas Suozzi, whose name still adorns the green awning. Now it is home to perhaps its most notorious tenant: U.S. Rep. George Santos. With the northern half of Long Island’s Nassau County falling into Santos’s district, County Executive Bruce Blakeman has said he will direct all federal constituent calls to Anthony D’Esposito, another Long Island representative. “My office will have no interaction with George Santos or his staff until he resigns,” said Blakeman, a Republican.
New York – Lobbying on LaSalle Nomination Shows Apparent Gap in Reporting Requirements
Albany Times Union – Joshua Solomon | Published: 1/30/2023
Citizens for Judicial Fairness spent between $75,000 to $100,000 on its brief efforts trying to influence the vote of state senators on the Judiciary Committee as they considered New York Gov. Gov. Kathy Hochul’s nomination of Hector LaSalle for chief judge of the Court of Appeals. State law is silent on the issue of nominations and appointments to public office, according to a spokesperson for the state’s ethics commission. It leads to a near-impossible dynamic for observers who want to follow either the money or those seeking to influence the nominations.
New York – Manhattan Prosecutors Present Trump Case to Grand Jury
Buffalo News – William Rashbaum, Ben Protess, Jonah Bromwich, and Hurubie Meko (New York Times) | Published: 1/30/2023
The Manhattan district attorney’s office began presenting evidence to a grand jury about Donald Trump’s role in paying hush money to a porn star during his 2016 presidential campaign, laying the groundwork for potential criminal charges against the former president in the coming months. The grand jury was recently impaneled, and the beginning of witness testimony represents a clear signal that the district attorney, Alvin Bragg, is nearing a decision about whether to charge Trump.
North Dakota – North Dakota Senate Cuts Back Ethics Panel’s Bill to Expand Authority
Bismarck Tribune – Jack Dura | Published: 1/31/2023
North Dakota’s ethics panel might not get everything it sought in a bill for tweaks to state laws. The Senate approved legislation advanced by the Ethics Commission for several requested changes, including a proposed but deleted expansion to include nearly 9,000 more state employees under its authority. Changes also include extending the time frame to notify an accused person of an ethics complaint, and adding criteria for who can make complaints.
Ohio – Corporate Jets, Bribes and Dark Money: Householder trial spotlights weaknesses in Ohio ethics laws
MSN – Andrew Tobias (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 1/29/2023
Aspects of Larry Householder’s corruption prosecution show grey areas or even loopholes in Ohio ethics laws that either enabled his activities or, perhaps, made them legal. But lawmakers have taken no substantive action to address any of the ethical issues underlined in the case, with several bills stalling despite at times getting bipartisan support. On the eve of the trial’s start, a group of House Republicans announced a proposed set of ethics reforms they said would address some of the issues exposed by the scandal. But the bill, which has yet to be introduced, has an uncertain future.
Oregon – Oregon Elections Director Who Worked for Democratic Party Will Not Recuse Herself from Investigation into Party’s Crypto Donor
Portland Oregonian – Hillary Borrud | Published: 2/1/2023
Oregon’s new elections director, Molly Woon, will not recuse herself from the investigation into a $500,000 donation the state Democratic Party received from an FTX executive last year even though she previously worked as a top employee of the party. In October, the Democratic Party accepted the contribution the party claimed was from a Las Vegas cryptocurrency company Prime Trust. But Prime Trust was not the actual donor. Under state law, it is a felony to make a campaign contribution under a “false name” and elections employees are deciding whether the case should be forwarded to the state attorney general for prosecution.
Pennsylvania – Lobbyist Says She Was Harassed by Current Pa. Lawmaker, Wants Legislature to Change Misconduct Rules
Spotlight PA – Stephen Caruso | Published: 1/27/2023
A lobbyist for one of Pennsylvania’s most influential unions says a sitting state lawmaker sexually harassed her, and she is urging the Legislature to expand internal rules that govern who can bring misconduct complaints. Andi Perez, who advocates on behalf of Service Employees International Union, made the allegation during a listening session organized by new Speaker Mark Rozzi. He has scheduled a series of public meetings to solicit feedback about the House’s operating procedures Amid a partisan deadlock over which party controls the chamber.
Rhode Island – AG’s Office Nixes $40,000 in Funding as NAACP President Faces Campaign-Finance Charges
Yahoo News – Mark Reynolds and Amy Russo (Providence Journal) | Published: 1/27/2023
Gerard Catala, the newly elected president of the Providence NAACP and a former city council candidate, faces criminal prosecution for failing to report on the finances of his 2022 campaign as required by state law. Because of the charges against Catala, the state attorney general’s office will withhold the $40,000 it had planned to give the branch over the course of four years. The funds were part of a large grant from the U.S. Department of Justice meant to support “hate-crime prevention and education.”
South Dakota – House Kills Bill That Would Have Increased Campaign Donation Limits
KEVN – Austin Glass | Published: 1/31/2023
The South Dakota House defeated a bill that would have increased the campaign contribution limits for individuals and entities. Proponents said the increase would be good in light of inflation. But opponents said the current system works well and increasing the caps would allow wealthy donors to have more influence.
Texas – Ex-Legislator Tests Lobbying Revolving Door Law by Repping Big Energy Companies
MSN – Lauren McGaughy (Dallas Morning News) | Published: 1/27/2023
A former Texas representative is testing a state law meant to crack down on the “revolving door” between the Legislature and lobbying firms. Chris Paddie chaired a powerful House’s committee that held hearings to demand answers from energy firms after 2021’s deadly winter storm. Now, he has registered to lobby for a handful of the same power companies he was previously tasked with scrutinizing. His activities come despite a law that bans state legislators from becoming lobbyists within two years of using their own campaign cash to donate to other politicians.
Virginia – GOP-Led Panel Again Defeats Campaign Finance Reform
MSN – Sarah Rankin (Associated Press) | Published: 2/1/2023
A Virginia House panel voted down legislation that would prohibit lawmakers from using campaign funds for personal expenses such as a vacation, mortgage, or country club membership. Virginia’s elected officials are currently outliers in the nation for their ability to spend money donated to their campaigns on virtually anything. Similar legislation is still alive in the Senate, but the vote signals it is likely to meet a similar fate should it cross to the House.
Washington – As Capital Gains Tax Goes to WA Supreme Court, a Push to ‘Microtarget’ Justices
Seattle Times – David Gutman | Published: 1/26/2023
As the Washington Supreme Court prepares to decide the fate of the state’s new capital gains tax, a conservative think tank, whose leadership sued to stop the tax, is “microtargeting” the state’s nine justices with an ad campaign. The Washington Policy Center wrote to donors recently outlining its advertising strategy as the justices prepare to hear challenges to the tax. The campaign focused on areas “where justices spend the bulk of their time (work and home) as well as secondary places our research found that may be relevant,” the think tank wrote to supporters.
Washington – Prominent Lobbyist Barred from WA Capitol After Ruling He Stalked State Representative
Seattle Times – Jim Brunner | Published: 1/31/2023
A prominent lobbyist was barred from the Capitol campus after a judge ruled that he had stalked a state representative, leading her to flee her home for months. Rep. Lauren Davis last year obtained a domestic violence protective order against lobbyist Cody Arledge, citing what she said was an escalating pattern of obsessive and threatening behavior after she broke off their romantic relationship. Their dispute is now before the state Court of Appeals, where Arledge is challenging the restrictions on him as an “Orwellian” violation of his constitutional right to privacy and ability to work. Davis’s attorneys are defending the restrictions as necessary to protect her.
February 1, 2023 •
Ethics National: “Rep. George Santos Is Stepping Down from Committees Amid Fabrications About His Biography” by Meryl Kornfield, Leigh Ann Caldwell, and Marianna Sotomayor (Washington Post) for MSN National: “At the Supreme Court, Ethics Questions Over a Spouse’s Business Ties” […]
National: “Rep. George Santos Is Stepping Down from Committees Amid Fabrications About His Biography” by Meryl Kornfield, Leigh Ann Caldwell, and Marianna Sotomayor (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “At the Supreme Court, Ethics Questions Over a Spouse’s Business Ties” by Steve Eder (New York Times) for DNyuz
Florida: “Penalty Decided for Manatee Commissioner Baugh Who Violated Ethics in Vaccine Rollout” by Ryan Callihan (Bradenton Herald) for MSN
New York: “Hochul’s Vow to Boost Ethics and Sexual Harassment Training Falls Flat” by Jay Root (New York Times) for DNyuz
Washington: “Prominent Lobbyist Barred from WA Capitol After Ruling He Stalked State Representative” by Jim Brunner for Seattle Times
National: “Statehouse Efforts to Avoid Partisan Gridlock Hit Obstacles” by Amee LaTour (The Hill) for Yahoo News
Europe: “EU Lobby Register Still Riddled with Errors” by Nikolaj Nielsen for EU Observer
New Mexico: “New Mexico Bill to Restrict Lobbyist ‘Revolving Door’ Advances” by Dan McKay for Albuquerque Journal
January 31, 2023 •
Campaign Finance Iowa: “State Agency Can’t Enforce Iowa’s Campaign Finance Laws; Asks Lawmakers for Changes” by Ethan Stein for KCRG Ethics National: “Trump’s Evolution in Social Media Exile: More QAnon, more extremes” by Ken Bensinger and Maggie Haberman (New York […]
Iowa: “State Agency Can’t Enforce Iowa’s Campaign Finance Laws; Asks Lawmakers for Changes” by Ethan Stein for KCRG
National: “Trump’s Evolution in Social Media Exile: More QAnon, more extremes” by Ken Bensinger and Maggie Haberman (New York Times) for Yahoo News
Missouri: “Former St. Louis County Official Sentenced to Prison for COVID Relief Kickback Scheme” by Katie Kull for St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Ohio: “Corporate Jets, Bribes and Dark Money: Householder trial spotlights weaknesses in Ohio ethics laws” by Andrew Tobias (Cleveland Plain Dealer) for MSN
Washington: “As Capital Gains Tax Goes to WA Supreme Court, a Push to ‘Microtarget’ Justices” by David Gutman for Seattle Times
New York: “Inside George Santos’s District Office: Nothing to see here” by Dana Rubinstein (New York Times) for Buffalo News
New York: “Lobbying on LaSalle Nomination Shows Apparent Gap in Reporting Requirements” by Joshua Solomon for Albany Times Union
National: “Redistricting Lawsuits Could Shape the 2024 Battle for House Control” by Daniel Altimari (Roll Call) for MSN
January 30, 2023 •
Campaign Finance National: “Justice Department Asks FEC to Stand Down as Prosecutors Probe Santos” by Isaac Stanley-Becker and Emma Brown (Washington Post) for MSN Rhode Island: “AG’s Office Nixes $40,000 in Funding as NAACP President Faces Campaign-Finance Charges” by Mark […]
National: “Justice Department Asks FEC to Stand Down as Prosecutors Probe Santos” by Isaac Stanley-Becker and Emma Brown (Washington Post) for MSN
Rhode Island: “AG’s Office Nixes $40,000 in Funding as NAACP President Faces Campaign-Finance Charges” by Mark Reynolds and Amy Russo (Providence Journal) for Yahoo News
National: “National Archives Asks Past Presidents, VPs to Look for Classified Items” by Jacqueline Alemany (Washington Post) for MSN
Kansas: “Kansas Republicans Tried to Oust Ethics Head Amid Subpoenas. Will They Try Again?” by Andrew Bahl (Topeka Capital-Journal) for Yahoo News
Pennsylvania: “Lobbyist Says She Was Harassed by Current Pa. Lawmaker, Wants Legislature to Change Misconduct Rules” by Stephen Caruso for Spotlight PA
Arizona: “Arizona Republicans Exempt Lawmakers from the State’s Open-Records Law” by Patrick Marley and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “‘Just Off K Street’ Lobbyist Sheds Instagram Alias and Day Job” by Jack Fitzpatrick for Bloomberg Law
Texas: “Ex-Legislator Tests Lobbying Revolving Door Law by Repping Big Energy Companies” by Lauren McGaughy (Dallas Morning News) for MSN
January 26, 2023 •
National/Federal 2-Year Sentence for Hawaii Woman’s Trump Lobbying Scheme MSN – Associated Press | Published: 1/18/2023 An American consultant was sentenced to two years in prison for an illicit lobbying effort to get the Trump administration to drop an investigation into […]
2-Year Sentence for Hawaii Woman’s Trump Lobbying Scheme
MSN – Associated Press | Published: 1/18/2023
An American consultant was sentenced to two years in prison for an illicit lobbying effort to get the Trump administration to drop an investigation into the multibillion-dollar looting of a Malaysian state investment fund, and to arrange for the return of a Chinese dissident living in the U.S. Nickie Mali Lum Davis pleaded guilty in 2020 to one count of aiding and abetting in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
Classified Documents Found at Pence’s Indiana Home
MSN – Jamie Gangel, Jeremy Herb, and Evan Perez (CNN) | Published: 1/24/2023
A lawyer for former Vice President Mike Pence discovered about a dozen documents marked as classified at Pence’s Indiana home and he has turned those classified records over to the FBI. The Justice Department’s National Security Division and the FBI have launched a review of the documents and how they ended up in Pence’s house. Pence asked his lawyer to conduct the search of his home out of an abundance of caution, and the attorney began going through four boxes, finding a small number of documents with classified markings.
Cyberthieves Jacked a U.S. Senator’s Campaign and Stole Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars
MSN – Dave Levinthal (Raw Story) | Published: 1/23/2023
Cyberthieves stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from the campaign committee of U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran and the FBI is investigating. It is the latest in a series of thefts from the political accounts of prominent politicians, party committees, trade associations, and advocacy groups representing all points across the political spectrum. Together, the money lost early in this decade has soared into the millions of dollars.
Dark Money Group Linked to Leonard Leo Is Dissolved
MSN – Heidi Przybyla (Politico) | Published: 1/20/2023
A “dark money” group tied to conservative judicial activist Leonard Leo was dissolved three days after Politico inquired about whether it helped to facilitate the multi-million-dollar sale of former White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway’s polling company. The BH Fund, which was formed in 2016 with an anonymous $24 million donation, has been a nerve center for distributing millions of dollars around Leo’s network of groups bolstering former President Trump’s Supreme Court picks.
Four Oath Keepers Convicted of Jan. 6 Seditious Conspiracy
Associated Press News – Michael Kunzelman and Alanna Durkin Richer | Published: 1/24/2023
Four members of the Oath Keepers were convicted of seditious conspiracy in the attack on the Capitol in the second major trial of far-right extremists accused of plotting to forcibly keep Donald Trump in power. It is another major victory for the Justice Department, which is also trying to secure sedition convictions against the former leader of the Proud Boys and four associates. It was one of the most serious cases brought so far in the sweeping January 6 investigation which continues to grow two years after the insurrection.
Judge Sanctions Trump, Habba Nearly $1 Million for ‘Completely Frivolous’ Clinton Suit
MSN – Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein (Politico) | Published: 1/20/2023
A federal judge ordered nearly $1 million in sanctions against Donald Trump and his attorney Alina Habba, calling the former president a “mastermind of strategic abuse of the judicial process.” U.S. District Court Judge Donald Middlebrooks said Trump’s sprawling lawsuit against Hillary Clinton and dozens of former Justice Department and FBI officials was an almost cartoonish abuse of the legal system. Trump continues to face peril in advancing criminal probes and civil lawsuits related to his effort to overturn the 2020 election and his retention of sensitive national security records at his Mar-a-Lago estate after leaving office.
Justice Dept. Search of Biden Home in Wilmington Turns Up More Documents
MSN – Matt Viser and Tyler Pager (Washington Post) | Published: 1/21/2023
The Justice Department completed an extensive search of President Biden’s home in Wilmington and turned up additional classified documents, some of which date to his time in the U.S. Senate and others from his eight-year tenure as vice president. After being given full access to Biden’s home, the Justice Department took possession of six items. The department also took some of Biden’s handwritten notes from his vice-presidential years to further review them.
Lobbying Gold Rush May Persist Despite Divided Congress
Yahoo News – Karl Evers-Hillstrom (The Hill) | Published: 1/23/2023
K Street lobbying firms expect a historic earnings boom to continue, even as a divided Congress threatens to slow legislation to a crawl. The top firms reported massive earnings for the final three months of 2022, capping off a record-breaking year for K Street. The strong fourth-quarter performance, which defied election season norms, boosted hopes that corporations will continue to spend big on lobbyists in the new year.
Meta to Reinstate Donald Trump’s Facebook Account
MSN – Rebecca Kern (Politico) | Published: 1/25/2023
Meta will lift the ban on Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts after a suspension that lasted more than two years. The decision restores the former president’s access to a platform that he used to powerful effect as a campaigner and could potentially boost his faltering 2024 fundraising. But a Trump return could also lead to more election misinformation on the platform, Democrats warn, since Facebook has a policy of not fact-checking candidates. The company said Trump will have to abide by new rules if he decides to post again, but ultimately decided to reinstate him because the public deserves to hear from politicians.
Mystery Deepens Around George Santos’s $700,000 in Campaign Loans
Seattle Times – Michael Gold and Nicholas Fandos (New York Times) | Published: 1/24/2023
An updated campaign finance report raised new questions about the source of six-figure loans that U.S. Rep. George Santos gave his congressional campaign. In previous filings, the Santos campaign has reported he lent his own campaign more than $700,000. But in an update to a report originally filed in April 2022, the campaign unmarked a box that had originally indicated $500,000 of those loans came from Santos’s own personal funds. Experts said they were struggling to interpret the change, especially because in filings from later in 2022, the box marking “personal funds of the candidate” remains checked.
Students Want New Books. Thanks to Restrictions, Librarians Can’t Buy Them.
MSN – Hannah Natanson (Washington Post) | Published: 1/22/2023
States and school districts nationwide have begun to constrain what librarians can order. At least 10 states have passed laws giving parents more power over which books appear in libraries or limiting students’ access to books. At the same time, school districts are passing policies that bar certain kinds of texts – most often, those focused on issues of gender and sexuality – while increasing administrative or parental oversight of acquisitions. School librarians said in the past they had wide latitude to choose the books they thought would best supplement the curriculum and stimulate students’ literary appetites.
Supreme Court Asks Biden Administration to Weigh in on Social Media Case
MSN – Robert Barnes and Cat Zakrzewski (Washington Post) | Published: 1/23/2023
The U.S. Supreme Court asked the Biden administration to weigh in on whether states may bar giant social media platforms from removing certain types of political speech, a major First Amendment case that could determine how the constitutional right to free speech applies to the marketplace of ideas on the internet. At stake is the constitutionality of state laws in Florida and Texas that would restrict platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube from blocking or limiting political speech, and require transparency in how such decisions are made.
Supreme Court Says It Can’t Determine Who Leaked Draft Dobbs Opinion
MSN – Robert Barnes and Ann Marimow (Washington Post) | Published: 1/19/2023
The U.S. Supreme Court said it cannot identify the person who in the spring leaked a draft of the opinion that overturned Roe v. Wade, an inconclusive likely finale to what the justices declared “one of the worst breaches of trust” in the court’s history. Although the report did not indicate it was against the law to disclose the draft opinion, those interviewed were told they could be fired if they refused to answer or did not truthfully respond to questions. The report did not indicate clearly whether the justices themselves or others close to them were questioned.
US: Ex-FBI counterintelligence agent aided Russian oligarch
MSN – Michael Sisak and Eric Tucker (Associated Press) | Published: 1/23/2023
A former high-ranking FBI counterintelligence official who investigated Russian oligarchs was indicted on charges he secretly worked for one, in violation of U.S. sanctions. The official was also charged in a separate indictment with taking cash from a former foreign security officer. Charles McGonigal, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s counterintelligence division in New York from 2016 to 2018, is accused in an indictment of working with a former Soviet diplomat-turned-Russian interpreter on behalf of Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire they purportedly referred to in code as “the big guy” and “the client.”
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – Voter Fraud Unit in Arizona Will Shift Focus to Voter Rights
Las Vegas Sun – Neil Vigdor (New York Times) | Published: 1/23/2023
Arizona’s new Democratic attorney general, Kris Mayes, is redirecting an election integrity unit her Republican predecessor created, focusing its work instead on addressing voter suppression. The unit’s former leader, Jennifer Wright, meanwhile, has joined a legal effort to invalidate Mayes’s narrow victory in the November election. Former Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican who ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate last year, created the office to investigate voter fraud complaints in Arizona, a battleground state.
California – Ex-State Democratic Party Leader Who Helped FBI in Anaheim Probe Agrees to Plead Guilty to Wire Fraud
MSN – Hannah Fry and Gabriel San Román (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 1/19/2023
A California Democratic Party leader who was central to a wide-reaching corruption investigation in Anaheim involving the proposed sale of Angel Stadium agreed to plead guilty to attempted wire fraud. Melahat Rafiei was a well-known political consultant in Orange County. In late 2019, according to a plea agreement, Rafiei told a commercial cannabis company owner she would work to pass a marijuana related ordinance in Anaheim that would benefit the business in exchange for a payment of at least $300,000.
California – Former L.A. Councilmember Jose Huizar Pleads Guilty in Corruption Case
MSN – Michael Finnegan and David Zahniser (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 1/19/2023
Former Los Angeles City Councilperson José Huizar pleaded guilty to two federal charges stemming from a bribery and money laundering scheme in which he took more than $1.5 million in cash, gambling trips, and escorts in exchange for his support of a planned hotel project. Prosecutors said they will request a 13-year prison term. Huizar will also pay restitution of about $1.85 million. The plea deal came after developers were convicted of bribing Huizar and an array of other players at City Hall pleaded guilty to felonies.
Florida – Florida Blocks High School African American Studies Class
Yahoo News – Anthony Izaguirre (Associated Press) | Published: 1/19/2023
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s administration blocked a new Advanced Placement course on African American studies from being taught in high schools, saying it violates state law and is historically inaccurate. DeSantis has opposed what he calls liberal ideologies in schools, including lessons around critical race theory, which examines systemic racism and has become a frequent target of conservatives.
Florida – ‘This Is Not Over.’ Judge Says DeSantis Was Wrong, but Declines to Restore Andrew Warren to Office
MSN – Dan Sullivan and Sue Carlton (Tampa Bay Times) | Published: 1/20/2023
Despite concluding Gov. Ron DeSantis violated the Florida Constitution and the First Amendment last year when he suspended Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren, a federal judge ruled he did not have the power to restore Warren to office. U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle found DeSantis suspended Warren based on the allegation that the state attorney had blanket policies not to prosecute certain kinds of cases. Yet Hinkle concluded the U.S. Constitution prohibits a federal court from awarding the kind of relief Warren seeks – namely, to be restored to office.
Georgia – Fulton County DA Says Charging Decisions in Trump Investigation Are ‘Imminent’
MSN – Holly Bailey (Washington Post) | Published: 1/24/2023
An Atlanta-area district attorney investigating whether former President Trump and his allies broke the law when they sought to overturn Trump’s 2020 election loss in Georgia said charging “decisions are imminent.” Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis told a judge that a special grand jury report into the matter should remain sealed to protect the ongoing criminal investigation and the rights of potential “defendants” in the case. Willis’s comments came during a hearing on whether to release the final report of the special grand jury, which was formally dissolved after a roughly eight-month investigation into alleged 2020 election interference.
Idaho – Idaho Legislature Introduces Bill Creating Waiting Period Before Officials Can Become Lobbyists
Idaho Capital Sun – Clark Corbin | Published: 1/23/2023
Legislation in Idaho would prohibit lawmakers, executive branch employees, and other elected officials from registering as a lobbyist or lobbying during the next regular legislative session and for at least six months after leaving office. Although it had bipartisan support and similar “revolving door” provisions are common in most other states, the House State Affairs Committee had a tricky time with the bill.
Illinois – Ethics Board Sends Lightfoot Campaign Complaints to Watchdogs
MSN – A.D. Quig (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 1/23/2023
The Chicago Board of Ethics decided more thorough investigations needed to be done before rendering judgment about whether Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s campaign violated city ethics rules when it solicited public school teachers to encourage students to help her reelection efforts. The board tasked the inspectors general for both City Hall and Chicago Public Schools to conduct investigations into the matter.
Illinois – Former Cook County Board of Review Employee Sentenced to 3 Months in Prison for Taking Bribes to Fix Tax Appeals
MSN – Adriana Pérez (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 1/24/2023
A former employee of the Cook County Board of Review was sentenced to three months in prison and at least one year of probation for taking bribes to fix tax appeals on more than two dozen properties. Unbeknownst to Barjaktarevic, an individual named in documents as “CS-1” was a confidential source operating at the direction of the FBI. Barjaktarevic told the source he would accept $2,000 to lower assessments for each commercial property, while he would charge $1,000 for each residential property, for a total cost of $43,000.
Illinois – Swept Into Office by Promises of Reform, Lightfoot Faces New Scrutiny on Ethics Record
WTTW – Heather Cherone | Published: 1/18/2023
Lori Lightfoot won every ward in her first bid for mayor after her campaign was fueled by promises that she alone could end the notion that placing Chicago government and integrity in the same sentence is an oxymoron at best, or a joke at worst. Lightfoot’s campaign for a second term has been weighed down by a growing amount of evidence that she has at times governed more like an old-school machine politician than a reformer. Lightfoot has said her administration has made strides in pushing back against corruption.
Maine – House Speaker Calls on Waldoboro Lawmaker to Resign After He Was Indicted for Signature Fraud
Maine Public Radio – Steve Mistler | Published: 1/24/2023
A newly elected member of the Maine House of Representatives was indicted for allegedly forging multiple signatures to obtain public funds through the state’s public campaign finance system. Rep. Clinton Collamore is accused of forging the signatures of more than two dozen people to receive financing for his successful legislative campaign through the Clean Election Act. According to the state’s ethics commission, he received more than $14,000 through the program.
Massachusetts – E-mails Appear to Show Coordination Between Mass. GOP Chairman and Outside PAC, in Alleged Violation of State Law
MSN – Emma Platoff (Boston Globe) | Published: 1/18/2023
Embattled Massachusetts Republican Party Chairperson Jim Lyons appears to have communicated directly with an outside PAC about digging up dirt on Gov. Maura Healey during last year’s election, according to emails. The emails follow accusations levied by the state GOP’s treasurer, who told party officials he believed the coordination between Lyons and the PAC violated state campaign finance laws and he would report the matter to state regulators. The treasurer, Pat Crowley, has previously clashed with Lyons over party finances.
Michigan – Who Funded Michigan Campaigns? For Nearly Every Legislator, It Wasn’t the Folks They Ran to Represent.
MLive – Simon Schuster | Published: 1/24/2023
When new district maps were finalized at the end of 2021, many incumbent state legislators and first-time candidates pivoted to appealing for votes from new communities they had not reached out to in the past. But did lawmakers rely on the people they hoped to represent to fund their campaigns? According to a new analysis of campaign finance records, the answer is largely no. PACs remain the dominant force in legislative fundraising, and their financial footprint has grown significantly over the last decade. PACs can donate 10 times as much as individuals, and many incumbent legislators create PACs as a means of wielding influence with their colleagues.
Minnesota – Why Some Want to Make Public Spending on Political Campaigns in Minnesota Less Like Menards Rebates
MSN – Peter Callaghan (MinnPost) | Published: 1/24/2023
In Minnesota, individuals can donate to politicians using tax dollars, but only a small percentage of residents use the system. The process is awkward. People contribute $50 and get a receipt. Then they must fill out a form, mail it in or file on a government website, and wait for two state agencies to verify their eligibility. Then they get a reimbursement check. Supporters of a new bill want to simplify the system and increase usage with “Democracy Dollars,” a program pioneered in Seattle.
Nebraska – Watchdog Group Says State Capitol Bible Study Leader Should Register as Lobbyist
Nebraska Examiner – Paul Hammel | Published: 1/20/2023
Arin Hess, the chaplain and president of Capitol Studies, holds Bible study sessions for Nebraska lawmakers and staff members during the legislative session. While Hess says he is merely maintaining a four-decade-long tradition of “serving civil servants with Scripture” at the Capitol, some watchdogs, along with at least one state senator, contend what happens at those studies amounts to lobbying and Hess should register as one. Common Cause Nebraska said his teachings have led to the introduction of bills and his work fits the definition of a lobbyist.
Nevada – Nevada’s New Governor Vilified Lobbyist’s Influence in COVID Lab Scandal, Then Asked Him to Help with Budget
ProPublica – Anjeanette Damon (Nevada Independent) | Published: 1/25/2023
During his contentious campaign to become Nevada governor, Joe Lombardo accused the Democratic incumbent of catering to the family of a donor and their lobbyist who helped an error-prone COVID-19 testing lab get licensed in the state. Shortly after he won the race, Lombardo turned to that same lobbyist for help in building the state budget, giving him access to confidential documents and putting him in a position that allowed him to advocate for state funding sought by his clients. Lobbyist Mike Willden’s name does not appear on the list of people Lombardo appointed to his transition team.
New Mexico – Proposal Aims to Keep Legislators from Drinking While on the Job
Albuquerque Journal – Dan McKay | Published: 1/23/2023
For some New Mexico legislators, drinking is part of the Capitol culture. At least a few have been known to keep alcohol in their offices. And it is common for lawmakers to head to dinner before a late-night floor session at restaurants serving alcohol. But Sen. Harold Pope Jr. said he has seen enough. The first-term legislator is proposing a Senate rule that would prohibit members of the chamber from drinking alcohol before committee meetings or floor sessions. They could not drink during the meetings either.
New York – City Council Passes New Disclosure Requirements for Spending to Influence Votes on Ballot Referendums
Gotham Gazette – Ethan Geringer-Sameth | Published: 1/18/2023
The New York City Council passed legislation that requires entities spending to influence voters in local referendums to disclose their funders. The bill would close a loophole in the city’s campaign finance law that watchdogs have decried for years. If signed by the mayor, independent expenditures of $5,000 or more would be subject to disclosure. It also requires ads for or against ballot questions to include a “paid for by” notice, including the names of up to three of its top donors
New York – Email Describes Hochul Meeting Before $637 Million Deal with Donor for Covid-19 Tests
Buffalo News – Chris Bragg | Published: 1/23/2023
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s administration used emergency authority to buy $637 million in coronavirus tests through a company owned by a major Hochul campaign donor. Hochul and her allies have insisted the governor did not have any direct involvement in the deal. The governor said her “only involvement” was directing her team to purchase as many tests as possible from any available sources. But an email from the company’s owner, Charlie Tebele, suggested he may have directly discussed Covid-19 tests with Hochul at a campaign fundraiser Tebele had thrown for the governor.
New York – Trump Withdraws Second Lawsuit Against New York Attorney General
MSN – John Wagner (Washington Post) | Published: 1/24/2023
Donald Trump withdrew a second lawsuit against New York Attorney General Letitia James related to her office’s fraud probe of his business practices. No reason was given for the withdrawal. Trump first filed the lawsuit in federal court in Syracuse, claiming James was violating his rights and that of his company by pursuing a politically motivated investigation. After a judge in May found “no evidence” James had acted with bias, Trump appealed the ruling. The withdrawal of the appeal was the second time in five days that Trump had abandoned litigation against James, who is pursuing a $250 million against Trump.
Ohio – ‘Clear as Mud’: Ohio’s new voting restrictions from GOP raise alarm
MSN – Meryl Kornfield (Washington Post) | Published: 1/19/2023
Weeks after a Republican-backed voting law significantly reshaped Ohio’s election procedure, local officials, advocates, and voters are still making sense of the changes and how the alterations could restrict who might cast ballots in 2024. Legal challenges of the law could further complicate the situation: A federal lawsuit brought against Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose by groups representing the homeless, teachers, seniors, and veterans argues the restrictions are unconstitutional and suppress votes.
Ohio – Ohio’s Historic Corruption Case Tests Limits of Citizens United
Bloomberg Law – Alex Ebert | Published: 1/20/2023
Former House Speaker Larry Householder and ex-Ohio Republican Party Chairperson Matt Borges are on trial in what federal prosecutors have called the largest corruption case in the state’s history. Prosecutors allege Householder, Borges, and consultants Jeffrey Longstreth, Neil Clark, and Juan Cespedes accepted millions of dollars in “dark money” from FirstEnergy to pass legislation that included a $1 billion bailout for the utility’s nuclear power plants. The defense maintains the arrangement was politics as usual and protected by the U.S. Supreme Court in its Citizens United v. FEC decision and other precedent.
Pennsylvania – Refusal to Release Inaugural Donors Exposes Gap in Pa. Law
MSN – Marc Levy (Associated Press) | Published: 1/23/2023
Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro’s refusal to disclose who paid for his inaugural bash exposed the gap in state law that lets governors escape the kind of transparency that is sometimes required elsewhere. Presidential inaugural committees are required by federal law to disclose donors who give over $200 to inaugural celebrations. States like Virginia, Maryland, and New Jersey have such laws, as do cities including New York and Philadelphia, where city officials also cap the amount that an individual donor can give to an inauguration. Many other states have no such disclosure laws.
Pennsylvania – Shapiro Bars Gifts from Lobbyists, Requires Ethics Training
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Capitolwire | Published: 1/20/2023
Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro signed an executive order barring staff under his jurisdiction from accepting gifts from lobbyists and requiring state officials to sign an ethics pledge and complete ethics training. Eric Fillman, chief counsel for the House Ethics Committee who will lead the ethics training, said the new gift ban is intended to provide a degree of reasonableness that will ensure lobbyists cannot use gifts to gain undue influence while at the same time ensuring state officials can accept modest gifts from members of the community.
Virginia – Campaign Finance Reform Advocates Put Pressure on Virginia General Assembly
OpenSecrets – Jimmy Clothier | Published: 1/25/2023
A coalition of grassroots organizations gathered at the Virginia General Assembly to urge state lawmakers to pass campaign finance reform. While lawmakers have already rejected some proposals, multiple bills that failed in prior legislative sessions advanced out of committee. Others are up for consideration in the coming days. Virginia’s laws governing political spending are among the least restrictive in the country, with virtually no limits on the amount of money state politicians can accept from donors, as well as loopholes that allow for the personal use of campaign funds.
Wisconsin – 2023’s Biggest, Most Unusual Race Centers on Abortion and Democracy
DNyuz – Reid Epstein (New York Times) | Published: 1/25/2023
Wisconsin will hold an election that carries bigger policy stakes than any other contest in 2023. The April race for a seat on the state’s evenly divided Supreme Court will determine the fate of abortion rights, gerrymandered legislative maps, and the governor’s appointment powers – and perhaps even the state’s 2024 presidential election if the outcome is again contested. The contest will almost certainly shatter spending records for a judicial election in any state. The seat is nonpartisan in name only. Indeed, the clash for the court is striking because of how nakedly political it is.
Wyoming – Bill Would Prohibit Former Legislators from Immediately Becoming Lobbyists with 2-Year Wait Period
Cowboy State Daily – Leo Wolfson | Published: 1/23/2023
The Wyoming Legislature is considering a bill that would prevent former state lawmakers from serving as lobbyists within two years after leaving elected office. Under House Bill 146, those who violate the waiting period could face up to $5,000 in fines. Rep. Scott Smith, who sponsored the bill, said his attention was drawn to the issue when he learned his opponent in last summer’s Republican primary, former Rep. Shelly Duncan, had become a lobbyist. Until Smith was sworn in this year, Duncan was the House District 5 representative.
January 26, 2023 •
Campaign Finance National: “Mystery Deepens Around George Santos’s $700,000 in Campaign Loans” by Michael Gold and Nicholas Fandos (New York Times) for Seattle Times Maine: “House Speaker Calls on Waldoboro Lawmaker to Resign After He Was Indicted for Signature Fraud” […]
National: “Mystery Deepens Around George Santos’s $700,000 in Campaign Loans” by Michael Gold and Nicholas Fandos (New York Times) for Seattle Times
Maine: “House Speaker Calls on Waldoboro Lawmaker to Resign After He Was Indicted for Signature Fraud” by Steve Mistler for Maine Public Radio
Michigan: “Who Funded Michigan Campaigns? For Nearly Every Legislator, It Wasn’t the Folks They Ran to Represent.” by Simon Schuster for MLive
Minnesota: “Why Some Want to Make Public Spending on Political Campaigns in Minnesota Less Like Menards Rebates” by Peter Callaghan (MinnPost) for MSN
Georgia: “Fulton County DA Says Charging Decisions in Trump Investigation Are ‘Imminent’” by Holly Bailey (Washington Post) for MSN
Wisconsin: “2023’s Biggest, Most Unusual Race Centers on Abortion and Democracy” by Reid Epstein (New York Times) for DNyuz
National: “US: Ex-FBI counterintelligence agent aided Russian oligarch” by Michael Sisak and Eric Tucker (Associated Press) for MSN
National: “Supreme Court Asks Biden Administration to Weigh in on Social Media Case” by Robert Barnes and Cat Zakrzewski (Washington Post) for MSN
New Mexico: “Proposal Aims to Keep Legislators from Drinking While on the Job” by Dan McKay for Albuquerque Journal
Nevada: “Nevada’s New Governor Vilified Lobbyist’s Influence in COVID Lab Scandal, Then Asked Him to Help with Budget” by Anjeanette Damon (Nevada Independent) for ProPublica
January 20, 2023 •
National/Federal Billions at Stake as Online Fundraising Practices Turn Off Voters MSN – Jessica Piper (Politico) | Published: 1/17/2023 Llyod Cotler, the founder of Banter Messaging, advises friends and family to write a check if they want to make political contributions […]
Billions at Stake as Online Fundraising Practices Turn Off Voters
MSN – Jessica Piper (Politico) | Published: 1/17/2023
Llyod Cotler, the founder of Banter Messaging, advises friends and family to write a check if they want to make political contributions and avoid online giving, lest their emails and phone numbers end up on lists that recirculate through the campaign world for eternity. That advice reflects a recognition among digital campaign staff that text and email programs have gone from innovative to out of hand, to the point that it is harming the campaign ecosystem. The rate of return on individual appeals is falling compared to a few years ago, as candidates and outside groups find themselves targeting the same pool of donors.
FEC Dismisses GOP Complaint Over Gmail Spam Filter
MSN – Isaac Stanley-Becker (Washington Post) | Published: 1/17/2023
The FEC dismissed a complaint brought by Republican campaign groups arguing that Gmail spam filters disproportionately flagged GOP fundraising emails in a way that amounted to a prohibited in-kind contribution to Democrats. Google’s spam technology ignited a controversy last year, as GOP groups blamed the technology for a dip in fundraising.
Free Speech or Out of Order? As Meetings Grow Wild, Officials Try to Tame Public Comment.
MSN – Karin Brulliard (Washington Post) | Published: 1/17/2023
Across a polarized nation, governing bodies are restricting – and sometimes even halting – public comment to counter what elected officials describe as an unprecedented level of invective, misinformation, and disorder from citizens when they step to the microphone. As contentious social issues roil once-sleepy town council and school board gatherings, some officials say allowing people to have their say is poisoning meetings and thwarting the ability to get business done.
Garland Appoints Special Counsel to Review Biden Documents
Yahoo News – Kyle Cheney, Josh Gerstein, and Kelly Hooper (Politico) | Published: 1/12/2023
Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel, former U.S. attorney Robert Hur, to review the storage of sensitive documents discovered in spaces used by President Biden during the years preceding his return to the White House. Garland’s decision to place the probe under supervision of a special counsel ratchets up the legal stakes for Biden, who has stressed he takes the matter seriously while saying he was surprised to learn about the existence of the documents.
George Santos Pocketed $3,000 in Donations for Dying Dog, Veteran Alleges
MSN – Timothy Bella (Washington Post) | Published: 1/18/2023
U.S. Rep. George Santos is accused of pocketing $3,000 from a GoFundMe page he set up for a homeless veteran to help pay for surgery for the man’s dying service dog. After he realized he could not afford the thousands of dollars needed for the surgery, a veterinarian tech recommended U.S. Navy veteran Richard Osthoff get in touch with a man named Anthony Devolder, who ran a pet charity that could help his dog. Anthony Devolder was one of the aliases used by Santos before he lied about much of his biography to win a seat in the House.
GOP Congressman Linked to Jan. 6 Probe Assigned to House Committee Investigating Biden
MSN – Amy Wang and Azi Paybarah (Washington Post) | Published: 1/18/2023
U.S. Rep. Scott Perry’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in favor of Donald Trump attracted the attention of the Department of Justice, which seized Perry’s cellphone as part of its investigation into the events leading up to the insurrection, when a pro-Trump mob overran the U.S. Capitol seeking to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s victory. That did not prevent Perry from being named to the powerful House Oversight and Accountability Committee, along with several other of Trump’s most controversial allies.
How Restaurant Workers Help Pay for Lobbying to Keep Their Wages Low
Yahoo News – David Fahrenthold and Talmon Joseph Smith (New York Times) | Published: 1/17/2023
Before starting a new job, many cooks, waiters, and bartenders pay $15 to a company called ServSafe for an online class in food safety. ServSafe doubles as a fundraising arm of the National Restaurant Association, the largest lobbying group for the food-service industry. The association has spent decades fighting increases to the minimum wage at the federal and state levels, as well as the subminimum wage paid to tipped workers. For years, the restaurant association and its affiliates have used ServSafe to create an arrangement with few parallels in Washington, where labor unwittingly helps to pay for management’s lobbying.
Statehouse Democrats Embrace an Unfamiliar Reality: Full power
Yahoo News – Mitch Smith (New York Times) | Published: 1/18/2023
Democrats will have control of the governorship and both legislative chambers in 17 states. That is still fewer than the 22 states where Republicans have full control, but it is a major comeback from a lost decade for state-level Democrats, who as recently as 2017 had sole control at only six Capitols. Slightly more people will now live in states with full Democratic control than in those with full Republican control. What remains untested, though, is whether Democrats can or will wield their newfound authority with the same unflinching force that Republicans exerted over the last decade.
Supreme Court Poised to Reconsider Key Tenets of Online Speech
DNyuz – David McCabe (New York Times) | Published: 1/19/2023
For years, giant social networks like Facebook and Twitter have operated under two crucial tenets. The first is that the platforms have the power to decide what content to keep online and what to take down, free from government oversight. The second is that the websites cannot be held legally responsible for most of what their users post online, shielding the companies from lawsuits over libelous speech, extremist content, and real-world harm linked to their platforms. Now the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to reconsider those rules.
The Speaker Vote Underscored How Money Is So Central to Politics Today
MSN – Tal Kopan (Boston Globe) | Published: 1/16/2023
Money is a regular part of leadership battles in Congress, where fundraising prowess is practically a job requirement, and there have long been debates about whether dedicated congressional campaign committees should spend to protect incumbent lawmakers from upstart challengers. But the deals cut during the vote for House speaker involved entities that legally are supposed to be separate from specific candidates and parties, specifically the Congressional Leadership Fund and a PAC related to Club for Growth.
Two States Still Observe King-Lee Day, Honoring Robert E. Lee with MLK
MSN – Meena Venkataramanan (Washington Post) | Published: 1/16/2023
As the country celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 16, two states observed a different holiday: King-Lee Day, which commemorates both King and Confederate general Robert E. Lee. Mississippi and Alabama mark King-Lee Day as a state holiday. Texas still celebrates Confederate Heroes Day on Lee’s actual birthday, January 19, and its state employees can take a paid holiday on both days. For many Black Southerners, these holidays are part of a broader effort to glorify the Confederacy, 158 years after its secessionist war effort went down in defeat.
What the Jan. 6 Probe Found Out About Social Media, But Didn’t Report
MSN – Cat Zakrzewski, Cristiano Lima, and Drew Harwell (Washington Post) | Published: 1/17/2023
The January 6 committee spent months gathering new details on how social media companies failed to address the online extremism and calls for violence that preceded the Capitol riot. The evidence they collected was written up in a 122-page memo that was circulated among the panel. But committee leaders declined to delve into those topics in detail in their final report, reluctant to dig into the roots of domestic extremism taking hold in the Republican Party beyond Donald Trump and concerned about the risks of a public battle with powerful tech companies.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – Where Did Arizona Gov. Hobbs’ Inaugural Funds Come From?
KAWC – Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services) | Published: 1/15/2023
Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs has been under pressure to release information on the sources of funds for the inaugural event since it was reported she was not fully disclosing the names of all the individuals or corporations paying for the celebration. She subsequently put a full list of the names in a booklet that was given out at the event and listed them on an inaugural web site. Now there is a report from the administration giving a full accounting of how much each has donated.
Arkansas – Former Legislator Wilkins Sentenced to a Year and a Day on Bribery Plea
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette – Dale Ellis | Published: 1/18/2023
Former Arkansas Sen. Henry Wilkins was sentenced to a year and a day in prison and ordered to pay $123,000 in restitution after pleading guilty to bribery. Wilkins was involved in a scheme that brought down a number of state legislators as well as executives of a nonprofit that provided Medicaid-funded counseling services to troubled youth and adults in Arkansas.
California – Deal or No Deal? A Corruption Case Spins Out of Control with a Judge’s Last-Minute Change of Heart
Los Angeles Times – Richard Winton | Published: 1/13/2023
For more than a decade, tax consultant Ramin Salari fought charges that he had bribed former Los Angeles County Assessor John Noguez in a “pay-for-play” conspiracy. Then Salari reversed course, agreeing to a deal with prosecutors that called for him to plead guilty to a single charge and pay more than $9 million in penalties in exchange for a sentence that spared him from time in prison. But things did not go according to plan. In weighing whether to approve the deal, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Stephen Marcus refused, then relented, then refused again – throwing the long-running case against Salari, Noguez, and others into chaos.
California – Ex-San Jose Mayor’s Public Records Reforms Spark Alarm
San Jose Spotlight – Tran Nguyen | Published: 1/15/2023
In one of his last actions in office, former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo wants to reform how the city complies with transparency laws, a move experts say could limit the public’s access to the inner workings of City Hall. Liccardo, whose legacy as a council member and mayor is plagued by transparency-related lawsuits and violations, is calling for revising the city’s process for responding to public records requests, citing the need to cut down costs, reduce delays, and avoid errors. He also wants to explore changes to the city’s document retention policies.
Connecticut – They Make Money Videotaping Officials. Why and How Some CT Leaders Want to Stop Them
Middletown Press – Sandra Diamond Fox | Published: 1/16/2023
Public officials in Connecticut are considering ways to react legislatively to a growing group of people who consider themselves First Amendment rights activists and make money by creating YouTube videos of themselves walking into Town Halls and other public offices unannounced and taping them. While the YouTubers say they are defending the Constitutional rights of all and performing a service that helps the community, many officials and employees say the activists’ actions disrupt their workplaces. In local incidents, police have been called and sometimes officials or the YouTubers get arrested or into other legal trouble.
Florida – DeSantis Inauguration Sponsored by Companies He Loves to Bash
MSN – Isaac Arnsdorf (Washington Post) | Published: 1/18/2023
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has built his national profile, and possibly a future presidential run, on challenging major companies on controversial social issues. But some of those same companies and their lobbyists bankrolled his recent inaugural festivities. The donations underscore how DeSantis maintains corporate ties even while he works to burnish his image as taking on “woke” corporations.
Hawaii – Honolulu Permitting Inspector OK’d His Own Company’s Projects
Honolulu Civil Beat – Christina Jedra | Published: 1/18/2023
An inspector in the Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP) has been running an electrical company on the side for over a decade and has inspected and approved more than a dozen of his own projects, public records show. Arthur Suverkropp, a supervising electrical inspector, is also the head of K&A Electric. The company has applied for some 350 permits from DPP since 2007. Dawn Takeuchi Apuna, DPP’s director designate, said the department was unaware of the situation until The Honolulu Civil Beat contacted the office for comment.
Illinois – ACLU of Illinois Says Lightfoot Campaign Emails to Chicago Teachers May Violate Federal Law; CPS Inspector General Opens Investigation
WTTW – Heather Cherone | Published: 1/12/2023
The decision by Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s reelection campaign to send emails to Chicago Public Schools (CPS) teachers asking them to encourage their students to earn class credit by volunteering to help Lightfoot win a second term as mayor may have violated federal law, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. The emails have also prompted responses from the Chicago Board of Ethics and the city’s inspector general and the CPS inspector general.
Maryland – Former Delegate Pleads Guilty to Misconduct in Office for Misusing State Funds to Pay for Middle River Cottage
Maryland Matters – William Zorzi | Published: 1/13/2023
Former Maryland Del. Richard Impallaria pleaded guilty to one count of misconduct in office and agreed to pay the state $44,100 in restitution. Prosecutors said Impallaria paid his landlord with rental payments from the General Assembly for a “district office” that was outside his district and next door to a cottage he rented for personal use from the same landlord. They alleged Impallaria paid twice the rent on the “office” cottage, charging the full cost to the Legislature while rent on his personal cottage was simultaneously lowered to $0.
Maryland – Judges Can Attend Inauguration Gala for Md. Governor, Ethics Panel Rules
Maryland Daily Record – Madeleine O’Neill | Published: 1/12/2023
Judges can attend the swearing-in and inaugural festivities for Governor-elect Wes Moore as long as they follow certain guidelines, the Maryland Judicial Ethics Committee said in an opinion. Tickets to the gala can cost between $125 and $1,000, according to the event’s website. The ethics panel concluded it was permissible for judges to attend the event because tickets were available to all members of the public.
Massachusetts – Mass. GOP Chairman May Have Violated Campaign Finance Law, Party Treasurer Alleges, in Escalating Woes for State Republican Party
MSN – Emma Platoff (Boston Globe) | Published: 1/12/2023
Chairperson Jim Lyons seems to have coordinated with an independent PAC in apparent violation of campaign finance law, the state party treasurer told regulators. Treasurer Pat Crowley believes Lyons improperly coordinated with an outside spending group, the Mass Freedom Independent Expenditure Political Action Committee, in engaging an opposition research firm to dig up dirt on Gov. Maura Healey during last year’s race. The prospect of possible violations is the latest in a string of legal and financial challenges for the struggling state GOP.
Missouri – Missouri State Lawmakers Revise Their Dress Code for Women
Yahoo News – Eduardo Medina (New York Times) | Published: 1/16/2023
The Missouri House revised its dress code for female legislators and staff members, requiring them to wear a jacket, such as a blazer or a cardigan, and setting off a debate about policing the fashion choices of women. The updated code drew criticism from some Democratic lawmakers, who described the Republican-backed effort as sexist and pointless. Supporters said it was a small tweak that would help ensure professionalism inside the chamber.
Nebraska – Veteran Head of Political Accountability Commission to Retire in August
Nebraska Examiner – Paul Hammel | Published: 1/12/2023
Frank Daley Jr., who has been executive director of the Nebraska Political Accountability and Disclosure Commission since 1999, announced he will retire in August. Daley called his job “fascinating” but said he will be 69 by August and felt it was time to “look at something else.” Daley served as legal counsel for the commission prior to taking the executive director’s job. He is the fifth person to hold the job.
New Mexico – Election-Fraud Conspiracies Behind Plot to Shoot at New Mexico Democrats’ Homes, Police Say
MSN – Amy Gardner and Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff (Washington Post) | Published: 1/17/2023
The arrest of a defeated candidate for the New Mexico Legislature on charges he orchestrated a plot to shoot up the homes of four Democratic officials in Albuquerque prompted widespread condemnation as well as accusations that the stolen-election rhetoric among supporters of former President Trump continues to incite violence. Albuquerque police said Solomon Peña, who lost a state House race in November by a nearly two-to-one margin but complained his defeat was rigged, hatched the plot. Police accused him of conspiring with four accomplices to drive past the officials’ homes and fire at them.
New York – NYC Council Bills Could Slow ‘Revolving Door’ Between City Hall and Lobbying Agencies
Gothamist – Brigid Bergin | Published: 1/18/2023
A new legislative package would make it harder for high-ranking New York City officials to cash in on lucrative lobbying jobs as soon as they leave public service. The two bills in the city council would increase the length of time and scope of lobbying restrictions that apply to certain former municipal employees and local elected officials. Currently, top former city officials like deputy mayors and commissioners face a two-year ban from lobbying and appearing before their former agency or branch of government.
Ohio – How Dark Money Groups Led Ohio to Redefine Gas as ‘Green Energy’
MSN – Maxine Joselow (Washington Post) | Published: 1/17/2023
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine recently signed legislation that legally redefines natural gas as “green energy.” Natural gas is a fossil fuel and a significant cause of climate change. The Empowerment Alliance, a “dark money” group with ties to the gas industry helped Ohio lawmakers push the narrative that that the fuel is clean, documents show. The American Legislative Exchange Council, another anonymously funded group whose donors remain a mystery, assisted in the effort. The legislation took an unusual path through the Ohio Senate, where it was an amendment to a bill focused on poultry purchases.
Ohio – How Sports Betting, Nuclear Bailouts and Undercover FBI Agents Collided in Ohio’s Historic Public Corruption Scandal
MSN – Jake Zuckerman (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 1/15/2023
In 2019, two FBI agents and an informant sat for a meeting in the office of a lobbyist who they suspected was a crook. The gathering was organized to discuss influencing sports betting legislation in Ohio. But the conversation turned to Larry Householder, at the time the speaker of the state House. Householder will face trial soon in a public corruption case prosecutors have described as the largest in state history. In a case bogged down in the finer points of campaign finance and utility law, the FBI agents’ cloak and dagger approach yielded statements the government is using as express proof of a bribery scheme.
Ohio – Military Families Frustrated as States Change Mail Ballot Timelines
Yahoo News – Julie Carr Smyth and Gary Fields (Associated Press) | Published: 1/15/2023
Ohio’s new election law significantly shortens the window for mailed ballots to be receive, despite no evidence the extended timeline has led to fraud or any other problems, and that change is angering active-duty members of the military and their families because of its potential to disenfranchise them. Republican lawmakers said during debate on the bill that even if Donald Trump’s claims that late-arriving ballots played a nefarious role in his reelection loss are not true, the skepticism they have caused among conservatives about the accuracy of election results justifies imposing new limits.
Ohio – Ohio House Republicans Push Ethics Reform Bill Ahead of Householder Corruption Trial
MSN – Andrew Tobias (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 1/18/2023
A group of Ohio House Republicans are calling for changing state ethics law to require greater disclosure from lobbyists and utility board nominees while restricting elected officials from holding corporate board positions, among other changes. The announcement comes days before former Speaker Larry Householder is scheduled to begin his trial on federal corruption charges. Bill supporters said the timing was somewhat coincidental.
Oklahoma – Campaign Watchdog Sees Evidence of Abuses but Lacks the Funding to Prosecute
Yahoo News – Ben Felder (Oklahoman) | Published: 1/13/2023
The Legislature has not given the Oklahoma Ethics Commission the money needed to prosecute cases of campaign finance law violations, said Ashley Kemp, the commission’s executive director. The ethics agency can seek civil penalties in District Court but taking a case to trial can be costly. Just one trial case can cost one-third of the agency’s budget, Kemp said.
Oregon – Shemia Fagan and Her Elections Director Disagreed About Disclosing Campaign Finance Violations. Here They Are.
Willamette Week – Nigel Jaquiss | Published: 1/18/2023
Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan and the elections director she forced out last year, Deborah Scroggin, disagreed whether the agency should publish a website disclosing campaign finance reporting violations. The Elections Division had worked on such a website for a year only to have Fagan’s management team repeatedly reject Scroggin’s pleas to let it go live. Willamette Week has published the cases with the 12 largest fines, for more than $2,000 each.
Pennsylvania – Driven by Election Deniers, This County Recounted 2020 Votes Last Week
Yahoo News – Trip Gabriel (New York Times) | Published: 1/15/2023
Under pressure from conspiracy theorists and election deniers, 28 employees of Lycoming County on January 10, 2023, counted – by hand – nearly 60,000 ballots from the 2020 presidential contest. It took three days and an estimated 560 work hours. The results of the recount – like earlier ones of the 2020 election in Wisconsin, Georgia, and Arizona – revealed no evidence of fraud. The numbers reported more than two years ago were nearly identical to the numbers reported last week. Forrest Lehman, the county director of elections, oversaw the recount but opposed it as a needless bonfire of time, money, and common sense.
Utah – The Office of the Lt. Gov. of Utah Is Considering Punishing Gene Davis for Using Campaign Funds to Fight Allegations of Sexual Misconduct
Local Today – Emily Anderson Stern (Salt Lake City Tribune) | Published: 1/14/2023
Former Utah Sen. Gene Davis used more than $10,000 of his campaign funds to pay legal fees to challenge allegations of sexual misconduct, a campaign finance report shows. Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson’s office said she was considering penalties for the spending. Davis’s campaign paid attorney Benjamin Grindstaff $10,837.50 in November. Grindstaff represented Davis when he was accused by a former intern and campaign worker of repeatedly touching her and behaving in a way that made her uncomfortable. State law has strict rules about how a candidate can use campaign funds.
Vermont – Campaign Finance Watchdog Files FEC Complaint Against Liam Madden for Funneling Donations Through Family
VTDigger.org – Sarah Mearhoff | Published: 1/18/2023
Nearly three months after failed congressional candidate Liam Madden described on the radio a self-funded scheme to inflate his campaign fundraising numbers, a campaign finance watchdog group has filed a complaint against Madden with the FEC. Asked by the show’s hosts to respond to critics’ scrutiny of Madden’s campaign finance filings, particularly a $5,300 donation reportedly made by his toddler son, Madden said he “drained” his wife’s business’s bank account, distributed roughly $25,000 among family members, then directed his family members to donate the money to his campaign.
Virginia – ‘A Missed Opportunity’: Virginia subcommittee on campaign finance reform has little to show after 2-year study
OpenSecrets – Jimmy Cloutier | Published: 1/13/2023
A Virginia legislative panel formed to study campaign finance reform failed to deliver its final report in yet another setback for advocates who say the cost of elections in the commonwealth is untenable. Virginia’s rules governing election spending are among the least restrictive in the country, with virtually no limits on the amount of money individuals and corporations can donate to state politicians. The General Assembly created the subcommittee almost two years ago to review potential reforms, including limits on donations and new disclosure requirements.
Virginia – Virginia Senate Panel Blocks Campaign Finance Reform Bills, Again
Virginia Mercury – Graham Moomaw | Published: 1/17/2023
Shortly after a Virginia Senate committee defeated legislation creating an across-the-board $20,000 cap on donations to candidates for the General Assembly and executive branch offices, the same panel voted down another bill that would have only banned political contributions from publicly regulated utilities like Dominion Energy. Senators warned of unintended consequences if Virginia were to move away from its unlimited, transparency-based campaign finance system to setting caps on how much money candidates can accept from one source.
Washington – Lawsuit Filed Over State Lawmakers’ Use of ‘Privilege’ to Deny Access to Public Records
The Olympian – Shauna Sowersby | Published: 1/11/2023
A new lawsuit challenges the use of “legislative privilege” by Washington lawmakers to withhold public records. Public records from multiple sources also showed lawmakers have invoked the privilege more frequently within the last year. In 2019, the state Supreme Court voted ruled in favor of The Associated Press’s lawsuit to reject “lawmakers’ assertion that they are not required to turn over daily schedules, emails, text messages, and other materials related to their work.”
Wyoming – Remote Participation Shut Out of Two Legislative Committees
WyoFile – Maggie Mullen | Published: 1/16/2023
Two legislative committee chairpersons closed the door on remote public testimony, limiting who can participate in the lawmaking process. Committee hearings are the only public opportunity to testify or otherwise formally weigh in on proposed legislation. Stakeholders can also call or email lawmakers directly, but such correspondence is not public record. The Legislature has benefited from additional public testimony made possible by Zoom in recent years, according to Sen. Chris Rothfuss. At the same time, he does not think the Legislature has the policy quite right.
January 19, 2023 •
Campaign Finance National: “The Speaker Vote Underscored How Money Is So Central to Politics Today” by Tal Kopan (Boston Globe) for MSN National: “FEC Dismisses GOP Complaint Over Gmail Spam Filter” by Isaac Stanley-Becker (Washington Post) for MSN Florida: “DeSantis […]
National: “The Speaker Vote Underscored How Money Is So Central to Politics Today” by Tal Kopan (Boston Globe) for MSN
National: “FEC Dismisses GOP Complaint Over Gmail Spam Filter” by Isaac Stanley-Becker (Washington Post) for MSN
Florida: “DeSantis Inauguration Sponsored by Companies He Loves to Bash” by Isaac Arnsdorf (Washington Post) for MSN
Oregon: “Shemia Fagan and Her Elections Director Disagreed About Disclosing Campaign Finance Violations. Here They Are.” by Nigel Jaquiss for Willamette Week
Utah: “The Office of the Lt. Gov. of Utah Is Considering Punishing Gene Davis for Using Campaign Funds to Fight Allegations of Sexual Misconduct” by Emily Anderson Stern (Salt Lake City Tribune) for Local Today
National: “Free Speech or Out of Order? As Meetings Grow Wild, Officials Try to Tame Public Comment.” by Karin Brulliard (Washington Post) for MSN
Arkansas: “Former Legislator Wilkins Sentenced to a Year and a Day on Bribery Plea” by Dale Ellis for Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Hawaii: “Honolulu Permitting Inspector OK’d His Own Company’s Projects” by Christina Jedra for Honolulu Civil Beat
National: “Statehouse Democrats Embrace an Unfamiliar Reality: Full power” by Mitch Smith (New York Times) for Yahoo News
New York: “NYC Council Bills Could Slow ‘Revolving Door’ Between City Hall and Lobbying Agencies” by Brigid Bergin for Gothamist
January 18, 2023 •
Campaign Finance National: “Billions at Stake as Online Fundraising Practices Turn Off Voters” by Jessica Piper (Politico) for MSN Virginia: “Virginia Senate Panel Blocks Campaign Finance Reform Bills, Again” by Graham Moomaw for Virginia Mercury Ethics National: “What the Jan. […]
National: “Billions at Stake as Online Fundraising Practices Turn Off Voters” by Jessica Piper (Politico) for MSN
Virginia: “Virginia Senate Panel Blocks Campaign Finance Reform Bills, Again” by Graham Moomaw for Virginia Mercury
National: “What the Jan. 6 Probe Found Out About Social Media, But Didn’t Report” by Cat Zakrzewski, Cristiano Lima, and Drew Harwell (Washington Post) for MSN
Maryland: “Former Delegate Pleads Guilty to Misconduct in Office for Misusing State Funds to Pay for Middle River Cottage” by William Zorzi for Maryland Matters
New Mexico: “Ex-GOP Candidate Arrested in Shootings at Lawmakers’ Homes” by Rio Yamat (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
Washington: “Lawsuit Filed Over State Lawmakers’ Use of ‘Privilege’ to Deny Access to Public Records” by Shauna Sowersby for The Olympian
National: “How Restaurant Workers Help Pay for Lobbying to Keep Their Wages Low” by David Fahrenthold and Talmon Joseph Smith (New York Times) for Yahoo News
Ohio: “How Dark Money Groups Led Ohio to Redefine Gas as ‘Green Energy’” by Maxine Joselow (Washington Post) for MSN
January 17, 2023 •
Campaign Finance Arizona: “Where Did Arizona Gov. Hobbs’ Inaugural Funds Come From?” by Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services) for KAWC Elections Ohio: “Military Families Frustrated as States Change Mail Ballot Timelines” by Julie Carr Smyth and Gary Fields (Associated Press) […]
Arizona: “Where Did Arizona Gov. Hobbs’ Inaugural Funds Come From?” by Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services) for KAWC
Ohio: “Military Families Frustrated as States Change Mail Ballot Timelines” by Julie Carr Smyth and Gary Fields (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
Pennsylvania: “Driven by Election Deniers, This County Recounted 2020 Votes Last Week” by Trip Gabriel (New York Times) for Yahoo News
National: “Two States Still Observe King-Lee Day, Honoring Robert E. Lee with MLK” by Meena Venkataramanan (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “Ex-San Jose Mayor’s Public Records Reforms Spark Alarm” by Tran Nguyen for San Jose Spotlight
Connecticut: “They Make Money Videotaping Officials. Why and How Some CT Leaders Want to Stop Them” by Sandra Diamond Fox for Middletown Press
Nebraska: “Veteran Head of Political Accountability Commission to Retire in August” by Paul Hammel for Nebraska Examiner
Missouri: “Missouri State Lawmakers Revise Their Dress Code for Women” by Eduardo Medina (New York Times) for Yahoo News
January 13, 2023 •
National/Federal At Proud Boys Trial, U.S. Aims to Win Another Seditious Conspiracy Case MSN – Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) | Published: 1/9/2023 Henry “Enrique” Tarrio and four other members of his right-wing group Proud Boys are standing trial on charges of […]
At Proud Boys Trial, U.S. Aims to Win Another Seditious Conspiracy Case
MSN – Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) | Published: 1/9/2023
Henry “Enrique” Tarrio and four other members of his right-wing group Proud Boys are standing trial on charges of seditious conspiracy in a case that will test the limits of a rarely used law. Prosecutors will seek to convince a jury the riot at the U.S. Capitol was not the spontaneous outburst of a misguided mob but an assault on democracy galvanized by dedicated extremists. The strongest evidence against the Proud Boys comes from on and around January 6, as they discussed storming the Capitol and members of the group engaged in violence. The government’s challenge will be tying that to a broader political plot.
Attorneys Clash in E. Jean Carroll Defamation Case Against Trump
MSN – Keith Alexander (Washington Post) | Published: 1/10/2023
An appeals court heard arguments on whether Donald Trump was acting within his job as president when he denied a writer’s allegations that he sexually assaulted her in the mid-1990s. Lawyers for E. Jean Carroll argued Trump acted as a private citizen when he denied raping Carroll, and therefore can be sued like anyone else. Trump’s lawyers and an attorney for the Justice Department countered that his responses were made as part of his job as president, which would effectively end Carroll’s case against him.
Here Are the K Street Lobbyists Closest to McCarthy
Yahoo News – Karl Evers-Hillstrom (The Hill) | Published: 1/11/2023
U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s ascension to speaker of the House could be a boon for a small group of lobbyists within his inner circle. He has relied on a small handful of lobbyists for advice and fundraising help. Now those allies are a hot commodity among corporate clients eager to make inroads with McCarthy, who is in lockstep with corporate America on economic policy but has chastised major companies for wading into social and political issues.
House Narrowly Approves Rules Amid Concerns About McCarthy’s Concessions
Seattle Times – Catie Edmondson (New York Times) | Published: 1/9/2023
House Republicans pushed through an overhaul of operating rules for the new Congress, overcoming the concerns of some rank-and-file members about concessions that Speaker Kevin McCarthy made to the hard right in the desperate and drawn-out process of securing his job. Taken together, the rules increase transparency around how legislation is put together. But they could also make it difficult for the House to carry out even its most basic duties in the next two years, such as funding the government, including the military, or avoiding a catastrophic federal debt default.
How Kevin McCarthy Survived the GOP Revolt to Become House Speaker
MSN – Isaac Arnsdorf, Mariana Sotomayor, Michael Scherer, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 1/8/2023
Months of posturing and saber-rattling at last gave way to serious talks on changing how the new House would operate, which eventually led to Kevin McCarthy winning the speakership. What emerged was a deal that would secure McCarthy his prize only by diminishing it and putting the House on a collision course for more crises like the one just barely resolved, next time over funding the government or raising the debt limit.
Official U.S. Capitol Tour Guides Told to Only Mention Jan. 6 If Asked
Yahoo News – Joe Heim (Washington Post) | Published: 1/5/2023
Visitors on official guided tours of the U.S. Capitol are peppered with facts about its rich history. But they probably will not hear a word about the January 6, 2021, attack by supporters of Donald Trump who were seeking to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral win. Guides have been told to only refer to January 6 if questioned on a tour, according to former tour guides and people familiar with the Capitol Visitor Center’s operations. It is a policy that in many ways reflects a country at odds with itself, unable to agree on fact and truth and reluctant to engage on the history of a day that threatened democracy.
Scandal-Hit EU Assembly Set to Move on Anti-Corruption Plan
Yahoo News – Lorne Cook (Associated Press) | Published: 1/11/2023
Spurred into action by a major corruption scandal, European Parliament President Roberta Metsola wants to prevent former lawmakers from lobbying on behalf of businesses or governments soon after they leave office and to make public the names of current members who break assembly rules. Metsola also seeks tougher checks on lobbyists and the public listing of any meetings that lawmakers may have with them. The plans were divulged a month after Belgian authorities arrested four people on charges of corruption, money laundering, and participation in a criminal organization.
Second Biden Search Yields Additional Classified Documents
MSN – Devlin Barrett, Matt Viser, Tyler Pager, and Perry Stein (Washington Post) | Published: 1/11/2023
President Biden’s personal lawyers discovered a small number of classified documents at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, an institute Biden started after serving as vice president. Legal representatives for the president then announced they found additional classified material at a second location. White House officials have said they are cooperating with the Justice Department and that Biden’s lawyers quickly handed over the documents to the National Archives and Records Administration.
The Mysterious, Unregistered Fund That Raised Big Money for Santos
DNyuz – Alexandra Berzon and Grace Ashford (New York Times) | Published: 1/12/2023
A month before George Santos was elected to Congress, one of his large campaign donors was asked to consider making another sizable contribution. The request came from a Republican loyalist on behalf of RedStone Strategies, which was described in an email to the donor as an “independent expenditure” group. The donor sent $25,000 to a bank account belonging to RedStone Strategies. But where the donor’s money went is unclear. The FEC said it had no evidence RedStone Strategies was registered as a political group, and there do not appear to be any records documenting its donors, contributions, or spending.
The New Soldiers in Propane’s Fight Against Climate Action: Television stars
DNyuz – Hiroko Tabuchi (New York Times) | Published: 1/11/2023
For DIY enthusiasts, Matt Blashaw is a familiar face, judging bathroom remodels or planning surprise home makeovers on popular cable television shows. He also has a strong opinion about how Americans should heat their homes: by burning propane. Less well known is Blashaw is paid by a fossil fuel industry group that has been running a furtive campaign against government efforts to move heating toward electricity made from cleaner sources. The Propane Education and Research Council has spent millions of dollars on “provocative anti-electrification messaging,” using influencers like Blashaw, according to the group’s internal documents.
Trump Campaign Officials Got Subpoena Asking New Questions About Jan. 6
MSN – Josh Dawsey, Devlin Barrett, and Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) | Published: 1/11/2023
A wide-ranging subpoena sent to Donald Trump’s campaign officials in December shows new areas of investigative interest as part of the Justice Department’s extensive January 6 criminal probe, and lawyers say a grand jury focused on the day’s events and related fundraising has increased its activities in recent months. The document seeks more than two dozen categories of information and includes some questions that were not part of a series of similar subpoenas that were sent to several dozen people in September.
From the States and Municipalities
Alaska – Wasilla Lawmaker Advised Not to Solicit Campaign Funds for Oath Keepers Trial Costs
Yahoo News – Sean Maguire (Anchorage Daily News) | Published: 1/6/2023
Staff at the Alaska Public Offices Commission advised Rep. David Eastman not to keep soliciting campaign contributions to pay his legal bills, saying that would run afoul of state law. Anchorage Superior Court Judge Jack McKenna ruled in December that Eastman was eligible to hold public office despite his membership in the Oath Keepers, a far-right militia group that had some members and leadership participate in the riot at the U.S. Capitol. Without being able to solicit campaign contributions, he can still accept donations to a separate legal fund, but as a sitting legislator, the law prohibits him from accepting monetary “gifts” worth $250 or more.
California – Lobbyist’s $1,100 Payment to El Monte Councilmember for Breast Augmentation Lawful, FPPC Rules
San Gabriel Valley Tribune – Jason Henry (Pasadena Star News) | Published: 1/8/2023
The California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) found El Monte Councilperson Victoria Martinez Muela did not violate the law by accepting $1,100 for breast augmentation surgery from a friend, even though the friend’s employer had business before the city council. The FPPC determined the payment for the procedure did not constitute a “gift” under state law, would not have been subject to state limits, and did not qualify as reportable income, said Alex Rose, counsel for the agency’s enforcement division.
California – San Jose Lobbyists Skirt Transparency
San Jose Spotlight – Tran Nguyan | Published: 1/5/2023
A review of 2022 disclosure reports shows how some lobbyists failed to divulge details of their meetings with San Jose officials. San Jose adopted lobbying rules in 2007 to increase transparency at City Hall and allow the public a window into how lobbyists influence city business and policies. The ordinance requires lobbyists to submit weekly reports and disclose details, including who their client is, who they meet with, how they communicate, and the topic being discussed.
Colorado – ‘Laughable’: Is it too easy to get on the Denver mayoral ballot?
Denver Post – Joe Rubino | Published: 1/5/2023
It took Leslie Herod’s campaign less than 17 hours to collect the 300 verified voter signatures needed to get the mayoral hopeful on the ballot for Denver’s April 4 municipal election. The speed with which Herod hit the petition mark – turning in her signatures at 4:30 p.m. on the first day signature gathering was allowed – highlights a concern that has been rumbling beneath the surface of Denver elections: is it too easy for candidates and citizens’ initiative to get on the ballot?
Florida – DeSantis Inauguration Planned to Give Donors Special Treatment. They Got Long Lines, Few Seats
MSN – Mary Ellen Klas and Lawrence Mower (Miami Herald) | Published: 1/5/2023
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis proclaimed to a crowd of about 250 people at a candlelight dinner for donors that his swearing-in ceremony was “the most requested ticket” of any inauguration in state history. In fact, organizers sold more tickets than there were seats for the swearing-in, leaving numerous people, including the chief executive officer of Publix and the future speaker of the Florida House, without a place to sit. The treatment of the VIPs left some egos bruised. Many paid between $25,000 and $1 million for sponsorship packages that included seats to the VIP section for the swearing-in ceremony and tickets to the inaugural ball.
Georgia – Fani Willis, the Georgia Prosecutor Investigating Trump, Has Taken on Seemingly Untouchable Targets
MSN – Tom Hamburger, Matthew Brown, and Ann Marimow (Washington Post) | Published: 1/9/2023
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is considering using Georgia’s racketeering statute in a politically treacherous investigation. The question is whether former President Trump conspired with his allies to break the law and attempt to overturn the 2020 election in the state. Willis finds herself at the center of an inquiry with the potential to make history and influence the course of the next presidential vote. A special grand jury convened as part of the investigation submitted a report that could include recommendations for charges.
Hawaii – Commission Fines Cayetano Campaign, Super PAC Over Josh Green Attack Ads
Honolulu Civil Beat – Blaze Lovell | Published: 1/11/2023
The Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission fined gubernatorial candidate Vicky Cayetano’s campaign and her super PAC, Victory Calls. Commission staff found probable cause the campaign improperly coordinated with the PAC to run a print ad in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser attacking Gov. Josh Green, who at the time was a gubernatorial candidate and Cayetano’s opponent in the Democratic primary. The commission voted to fine the campaign and Victory Calls $1,000 jointly for the print ad, meaning either the PAC or the campaign can pay the fine.
Hawaii – Proposal Would Increase Public Funding for Hawaii Campaigns
Yahoo News – Dan Nakaso (Honolulu Star-Advertiser) | Published: 1/10/2023
State Sen. Karl Rhoads plans to introduce legislation this year to help county, state, and Office of Hawaiian Affairs candidates raise more campaign money through public funds to ease their reliance on lobbyists and private donors with the goal of promoting “clean elections.” The proposal follows the guilty pleas of Sen. J. Kalani English and Rep. T.J. Cullen on bribery and corruption charges that led to calls for ethics and fundraising reform that largely did not materialize last year but did lead to a ban on fundraising while the Legislature is in session and to the creation of a House commission on legislative conduct.
Illinois – Ex-U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez Allegedly Lobbied Speaker Michael Madigan for ComEd Board Appointment for Juan Ochoa, According to New Filing
Yahoo News – Jason Meisner and Ray Long (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 1/11/2023
Federal prosecutors revealed new evidence they intend to use against four people accused in an alleged bribery scheme between Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) and then-House Speaker Michael Madigan. Former McPier chief executive Juan Ochoa is expected to testify he enlisted the help of a member of Congress in 2017 to help repair his tattered relationship with Madigan and ultimately secure a lucrative position on ComEd’s board of directors. Sources said the member is ex-U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez. The trial promises to be the biggest corruption trial in Illinois since ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich was convicted in 2011.
Illinois – Lightfoot Campaign Asks CPS Teachers to Encourage Students to Help Her Win Reelection in Return for Credit
WTTW – Heather Cherone | Published: 1/11/2023
Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s reelection campaign sent an email to Chicago Public Schools teachers asking them to encourage their students to volunteer to help Lightfoot win a second term as mayor and earn class credit. The message was sent to teachers’ official work email accounts. As mayor, Lightfoot appoints not only the superintendent of the Chicago Public Schools but also the members of the city Board of Education. Chicago’s ethics ordinance prohibits the use of public resources, including email accounts, for non-official purposes.
Kansas – Prominent Kansas Senate Republican to Pull Double Duty as Kris Kobach Adviser, Legislator
MSN – Andrew Bahl (Topeka Capital Journal) | Published: 1/11/2023
State Sen. J.R. Claeys will serve as a senior adviser to Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach, a move that is not unprecedented but has brought concerns about a potential conflict-of-interest. There is nothing in the rules preventing Claeys, who also served as Kobach’s campaign manager during the 2022 election cycle, from simultaneously serving in a state agency. Legislators, both current and past, have worked for executive branch agencies and Kansas Board of Regents institutions, among other day jobs.
Kentucky – Pfizer Gives $1 Million to Republican Party of Kentucky to Expand Its Headquarters
Kentucky Lantern – Tom Loftus | Published: 1/9/2023
In what may be the largest political contribution ever given to a political party in Kentucky, the drug maker Pfizer Inc. gave $1 million last month to the building fund of the state Republican Party. A report filed by Republican Party of Kentucky Building Fund listed the $1 million from Pfizer along with five other big corporate contributions in the final quarter in 2022 totaling $1.65 million. That is an extraordinarily large haul for the fund which had raised only $6,000 during the first three quarters of last year.
Louisiana – Former Louisiana Democrats Chair, State Senator Gets Prison Time for Wire Fraud
Louisiana Illuminator – Greg La Rose | Published: 1/11/2023
Former state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson was sentenced to 22 months in prison after admitting she used money from her campaign and the Louisiana Democratic Party to support a gambling addiction. Peterson was accused of pilfering $147,000 from her campaign and party coffers through a series of payments to close political allies.
Massachusetts – SJC Rules DiMasi’s Federal Corruption Convictions Do Not Disqualify Him, or Others, from Lobbying on Beacon Hill
MSN – John Element (Boston Globe) | Published: 1/5/2023
Secretary of State William Galvin misinterpreted Massachusetts law when he denied former House Speaker Sal DiMasi’s registration as a lobbyist in 2019, the state’s highest court ruled. The Supreme Judicial Court said amendments to ethics laws enacted by state legislators in 2009 specified that only state corruption convictions could be used to prevent someone from registering as a lobbyist for 10 years after being convicted. DiMasi was convicted in federal court of fraud and extortion for taking bribes while in office.
Massachusetts – The Latest Challenge for the Beleaguered Massachusetts State GOP: Tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid bills
MSN – Emma Platoff (Boston Globde) | Published: 1/10/2023
Fresh off an electoral defeat in the November midterms. the Massachusetts Republican Party now appears to have mounting financial and legal problems, too – a pile of overdue bills, much of that money owed to an opposition research firm that party leaders hired last year to dig up dirt on Maura Healey during her run for governor. As of late December, the state GOP owed at least $86,000 to at least two outside vendors hired for election-related services, bills that were late by more than two months. Republican sources, including one familiar with the party’s direct mail process, estimated the debt far exceeds that amount.
New Mexico – Democratic Officials’ Homes, Offices Shot Up in New Mexico
Associated Press News – Susan Montoya Bryan and Morgan Lee | Published: 1/6/2023
The homes or offices of five elected Democratic officials in New Mexico, including the new attorney general, have been hit by gunfire over the past month, and authorities are working to determine if the attacks are connected. Nobody was injured in the shootings. Federal officials have warned about the potential for violence and attacks on government officials and buildings, and the Department of Homeland Security has said domestic extremism remains a top terrorism threat in the U.S. Local officials have also faced an increasing number of threats in recent years.
New York – Lawmaker’s Victory May Cost Him Coveted Manhattan Apartment
DNyuz – Luis Ferré-Sadurní (New York Times) | Published: 1/6/2023
Democrats in the New York Assembly had been considering whether to expel a Republican member because of evidence suggesting he lived in Manhattan, not in the South Brooklyn district he was recently elected to represent. But the efforts to remove Assemblyperson Lester Chang were seen as politically contentious. So Democratic leaders decided they would not try to remove Chang. But even though Mr. Chang will keep his seat, he may be at risk of losing something equally precious: his rent-stabilized apartment in Manhattan.
New York – Rensselaer County’s Former GOP Elections Commissioner Admits Voter Fraud
Albany Times Union – Robert Galvin | Published: 1/11/2023
Jason Schofield, Rensselaer County’s former elections commissioner, pleaded guilty to 12 counts of voter fraud charges, admitting he fraudulently filed absentee ballots in 2021 using the personal information of at least eight voters without their permission. The plea is part of a broader, ongoing investigation by the U.S. Justice Department that led to the guilty plea of ex-Troy City Council Member Kimberly Ashe-McPherson. The probe is examining the election activities of several top county officials.
New York – Trump Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg Sentenced to Five Months in Jail
MSN – Shayna Jacobs (Washington Post) | Published: 1/10/2023
Longtime Trump Organization finance chief Allen Weisselberg, who pleaded guilty to 15 counts including tax fraud, conspiracy, and grand larceny, was sentenced to serve five months in jail. Authorities had promised Weisselberg a steeply reduced sentence in exchange for testifying against the Trump Organization. He had faced up to 15 years in prison. The company was convicted of tax crimes. Donald Trump was not charged with wrongdoing.
North Dakota – As Lawmakers Return to Bismarck, Lobbyists Fill the Capitol
Grand Forks Herald – Jeremy Turley (Forum News Service) | Published: 1/6/2023
Lobbyists are sure to be present wherever laws are made, and the North Dakota Capitol is no exception. For each of the state’s 141 lawmakers, there are more than two registered lobbyists, and their numbers are expected to grow as the Legislature’s four-month session unfolds. Lobbyists, whether paid or not, are a vital piece of the Capitol ecosystem, according to policymakers and political scientists.
North Dakota – Bill Would Add 9,000 State Employees to North Dakota Ethics Panel’s Jurisdiction
Jamestown Sun – Jack Dura (Bismarck Tribune) | Published: 1/6/2023
North Dakota’s Ethics Commission is asking the state Legislature to expand the panel’s oversight authority to include thousands of state employees. Senate Bill 2048 includes several changes requested by the commission, such as extending the time frame to notify an accused person of an ethics complaint and adding criteria for who can make complaints. The bill also would add about 8,960 executive branch employees to the ethics panel’s jurisdiction over “public officials.”
Ohio – Ex-Ohio Governor Candidate Joe Blystone Fined $105K, Can’t Run for Office for 5 Years
Yahoo News – Jessie Balmert (Cincinnati Enquirer) | Published: 1/5/2023
Joe Blystone, who unsuccessfully challenged Gov. Mike DeWine in the Republican primary election last May, will pay a $105,000 fine and not run for office for five years as part of a settlement with the Ohio Elections Commission. The $105,000 fine is what is left in Blystone’s campaign account minus $75,000 placed in reserve for a pending lawsuit. The case stemmed from a slew of campaign finance violations committed by Blystone.
Oklahoma – After Dark Money Flooded Elections, Oklahoma GOP Chair Wants Changes to Help Political Parties
Tulsa World – Carmen Forman | Published: 1/11/2023
After millions of dollars in “dark money” flowed into Oklahoma elections last year, the state Republican Party chairperson is seeking reforms. A.J. Ferate asked the Oklahoma Ethics Commission to consider updating campaign finance rules so political parties can raise more money and provide additional assistance to state candidates. Corporations and other entities can contribute unlimited sums of money to influence elections through groups that do not have to report their donors. Political parties have to report their campaign fundraising and spending.
Pennsylvania – DA Larry Krasner’s Impeachment Trial Gets Indefinitely Postponed by the Pa. Senate
MSN – Ellie Rushing (Philadelphia Inquirer) | Published: 1/11/2023
The Pennsylvania Senate voted to indefinitely postpone the impeachment trial of Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner. A Commonwealth Court ruling to dismiss the articles of impeachment as legally insufficient, the future of the trial – and the timeline for when, or even if, it resumes – remains uncertain. Judge Ellen Ceisler said the articles did not sufficiently demonstrate Krasner failed to perform his duties or acted with an improper or corrupt motive, a standard required under the state constitution to impeach a public official.
Rhode Island – As Judge Caprio Moves On, Questions About ‘Caught in Providence,’ and the Profits, Are Raised
Yahoo News – Katherine Gregg (Providence Journal) | Published: 1/9/2023
In 2015, The Rhode Island Ethics Commission gave the chief judge of Providence Municipal Court, Frank Caprio, its blessing to expand his “Caught in Providence” television show into wider markets. Caprio told the commission that “he has never and will never accept financial compensation of any kind from the broadcast of these Municipal Court proceedings.” But the judge’s brother, David Caprio, chair of the state’s higher education board, recently acknowledged he has made a little more than $100,000 a year from the broadcast, which he did not list on his ethics-disclosure filing.
South Carolina – South Carolina US House District Ruled Racial Gerrymander
Yahoo News – James Pollard and Jeffrey Collins (Associated Press) | Published: 1/5/2023
Federal judges ordered South Carolina lawmakers to draw new congressional maps, ruling the U.S. House district lines of a seat flipped by Democrats four years ago were intentionally redrawn to split Black neighborhoods to dilute their voting power. The state used the maps in this past November’s midterm elections after the Republican-dominated state Legislature redrew the lines following the 2020 U.S. Census. With Republicans holding a thin margin in the House, any change to competitive districts has a chance to alter the balance of power after the 2024 elections.
Utah – The Utah Executive Ethics Committee Has Been Understaffed for 2 Years
Local Today – Emily Anderson Stern (Salt Lake Tribune) | Published: 1/11/2023
After major scandals that led to the FBI investigating a Utah attorney general and lieutenant governor, the Legislature passed a bill establishing an ethics committee to review complaints against the state’s executive branch. But for nearly two years, the Executive Ethics Committee operated with fewer than half its legally required members and has limited public avenues to file a grievance against Utah’s top officials.
Washington – Seattle Ethics Committee Restricts Collection of Democracy Vouchers
Real Change – Guy Oron | Published: 1/11/2023
The Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission amended the city’s democracy voucher program, limiting the ability of paid campaign staffers to collect vouchers, a move campaigns say could reduce the impact of the system. The program allocates four $25 vouchers to eligible Seattle residents who can donate them to candidates. Previously, staff could collect replacement forms from potential donors. That made it easy for supporters to give their vouchers immediately to a campaign. Now, supporters must turn in a replacement form to a volunteer or to the city directly, either by mail or online.
Washington – Sutherland to Pay $2.5K to Settle Ethics Violation Complaint
Everett Herald – Jerry Cornfield | Published: 1/6/2023
State Rep. Robert Sutherland will pay $2,500 to settle a complaint alleging he violated Washington’s ethics law when he berated and swore at a House security official and then bragged about it at a political rally hours later on the Capitol campus. Sutherland and Sean Hartsock, the chamber’s director of security, became embroiled in a heated exchange when the lawmaker sought access to a building he had been barred from entering because he had not taken a required COVID test.
West Virginia – W.Va. Journalist Let Go After Reporting on Abuse Allegations
Yahoo News – Leah Willingham (Associated Press) | Published: 1/7/2023
West Virginia Public Broadcasting (WVPB) reporter Amelia Ferrell Knisely said she was told to stop reporting on the Department of Health and Human Resources after leaders of the agency “threatened to discredit” the network. She then learned her position was being eliminated. Knisely had reported about alleged abuse of people with disabilities within the state agency. She said her news director told her the order came from WVPB Executive Director Butch Antolini, former communications director for Gov. Jim Justice. The governor has tried to eliminate funding for WVPB and was accused of appointing partisan operatives to its board.
January 11, 2023 •
Campaign Finance Kentucky: “Pfizer Gives $1 Million to Republican Party of Kentucky to Expand Its Headquarters” by Tom Loftus for Kentucky Lantern Elections National: “At Proud Boys Trial, U.S. Aims to Win Another Seditious Conspiracy Case” by Rachel Weiner (Washington […]
Kentucky: “Pfizer Gives $1 Million to Republican Party of Kentucky to Expand Its Headquarters” by Tom Loftus for Kentucky Lantern
National: “At Proud Boys Trial, U.S. Aims to Win Another Seditious Conspiracy Case” by Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) for MSN
Colorado: “‘Laughable’: Is it too easy to get on the Denver mayoral ballot?” by Joe Rubino for Denver Post
National: “Justice Dept. Reviewing Classified Documents Found in Biden’s Post-VP Office” by Tyler Pager, Devlin Barrett, Jacqueline Alemany, and Perry Stein (Washington Post) for MSN
New York: “Trump Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg Sentenced to Five Months in Jail” by Shayna Jacobs (Washington Post) for MSN
North Dakota: “Bill Would Add 9,000 State Employees to North Dakota Ethics Panel’s Jurisdiction” by Jack Dura (Bismarck Tribune) for Jamestown Sun
Rhode Island: “As Judge Caprio Moves On, Questions About ‘Caught in Providence,’ and the Profits, Are Raised” by Katherine Gregg (Providence Journal) for Yahoo News
National: “House Narrowly Approves Rules Amid Concerns About McCarthy’s Concessions” by Catie Edmondson (New York Times) for Seattle Times
January 10, 2023 •
Campaign Finance National: “Watchdog Group Asks FEC to Investigate Embattled New York Rep. George Santos’ Campaign Finances” by Fredreka Schouten (CNN) for MSN Alaska: “Wasilla Lawmaker Advised Not to Solicit Campaign Funds for Oath Keepers Trial Costs” by Sean Maguire […]
National: “Watchdog Group Asks FEC to Investigate Embattled New York Rep. George Santos’ Campaign Finances” by Fredreka Schouten (CNN) for MSN
Alaska: “Wasilla Lawmaker Advised Not to Solicit Campaign Funds for Oath Keepers Trial Costs” by Sean Maguire (Anchorage Daily News) for Yahoo News
Georgia: “Fani Willis, the Georgia Prosecutor Investigating Trump, Has Taken on Seemingly Untouchable Targets” by Tom Hamburger, Matthew Brown, and Ann Marimow (Washington Post) for MSN
West Virginia: “W.Va. Journalist Let Go After Reporting on Abuse Allegations” by Leah Willingham (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
National: “How Kevin McCarthy Survived the GOP Revolt to Become House Speaker” by Isaac Arnsdorf, Mariana Sotomayor, Michael Scherer, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) for MSN
New York: “Lawmaker’s Victory May Cost Him Coveted Manhattan Apartment” by Luis Ferré-Sadurní (New York Times) for DNyuz
California: “Lobbyist’s $1,100 Payment to El Monte Councilmember for Breast Augmentation Lawful, FPPC Rules” by Jason Henry (Pasadena Star News) for San Gabriel Valley Tribune
South Carolina: “South Carolina US House District Ruled Racial Gerrymander” by James Pollard and Jeffrey Collins (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
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