November 17, 2023 •
National/Federal Trump Compares Political Opponents to ‘Vermin’ Who He Will ‘Root Out,’ Alarming Historians ABC News – Soo Rin Kim and Lalee Ibssa | Published: 11/13/2023 Donald Trump vowed to “root out” his political opponents, who he said “live like vermin” as […]
ABC News – Soo Rin Kim and Lalee Ibssa | Published: 11/13/2023
Donald Trump vowed to “root out” his political opponents, who he said “live like vermin” as he warned supporters that America’s greatest threats come “from within” – extreme rhetoric that echoes the words of fascist dictators like Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, experts said. A Trump campaign spokesperson dismissed the backlash to his speech, at a Veterans Day rally in New Hampshire, but some historians said the parallels were alarming.
Associated Press News – Dave Collins | Published: 11/14/2023
A former fundraiser for U.S. Rep. George Santos pleaded guilty to a federal wire fraud charge, admitting he impersonated a high-ranking congressional aide while raising campaign money for Santos. Sam Miele was caught soliciting donations under the alias Dan Meyer, who was then chief of staff for Rep. Kevin McCarthy. Miele also acknowledged he committed access device fraud by charging credit cards without authorization to send money to the campaigns of Santos and other candidates, and for his own personal use, prosecutors said.
DNyuz – Rebecca Davis O’Brien and Nick Corasaniti (New York Times) | Published: 11/8/2023
Ads in the 2023 election campaign signaled a new tone in Democrats’ messaging on abortion rights, one that confronts head-on the consequences of strict anti-abortion laws. Historically, it has been Republicans who used dire warnings and shock value in advertising to make their case on the issue. But the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson, despite being a resounding legal and policy victory for Republicans, has had the paradoxical effect of galvanizing long-held, broad public support for abortion rights.
DNyuz – Nick Corasaniti (New York Times) | Published: 11/14/2023
Democrats are planning to spend millions of dollars next year on just a few state legislative elections in Kansas, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Wisconsin, states where they have little to no chance of winning control of a chamber. Democrats are pushing to break up Republican supermajorities in states with Democratic governors, effectively battling to win back the veto pen district by district. The political dissonance of having a governor of one party and a supermajority of an opposing party in the Legislature is one of the starkest effects of gerrymandering, revealing how parties cling to evaporating power.
MSN – Ann Marimow and Robert Barnes (Washington Post) | Published: 11/15/2023
Supreme Court justices stung by controversies over the court’s ethics pledged to follow a broad code of conduct promoting “integrity and impartiality,” but without a way to enforce its standards against those who fall short. The code contains broadly worded sections relating to outside relationships, recusal from cases that could bring financial gain to family members, the use of a justice’s staff, and limits on appearances at fundraisers for groups. But there is every sign that each word was carefully chosen.
MSN – Kate Plummer (Newsweek) | Published: 11/10/2023
FEC Commissioner Ellen Weintraub said Donald Trump has effectively been made exempt from campaign finance laws because her agency refuses to investigate him. In at least 28 instances, she said staff at the general’s counsel’s office determined a criminal investigation was warranted. But Weintraub added that her Republican colleagues put the former president in a “category by himself” by refusing to approve any of the recommendations against Trump.
MSN – Isaac Arnsdorf, Josh Dawsey, Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, Patrick Marley, and Amy Gardner (Washington Post) | Published: 11/13/2023
In the battleground states of Arizona, Georgia, and Michigan, election denial and grassroots fervor for former President Trump have rocked the Republican apparatus. Now, the state parties are plagued by infighting, struggling to raise money, and sometimes to cover legal costs stemming from Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 defeat, threatening to hamper GOP organizing capabilities in next year’s presidential election.
MSN – Meryl Kornfield, Marianne LeVine, and Hannah Knowles (Washington Post) | Published: 11/13/2023
Sen. Tim Scott, the only Black Republican in the U.S. Senate, announced he was suspending his campaign for the GOP presidential nomination after months of struggling to gain ground in polling with an uplifting message that was out of step with today’s party. Scott did not endorse any other candidate, and he declined a suggestion that he might be a vice-presidential candidate.
MSN – Caitlin Reilly (Roll Call) | Published: 11/13/2023
Rep. Mike Johnson’s unexpected rise to speaker of the House has left K Street scrambling as lobbyists try to establish inroads with the relatively unknown lawmaker and his staff. Johnson has been in Congress for less than seven years and lacks the deep bench of long-time, trusted aides and ex-staffers that K Street usually relies on to curry favor on Capitol Hill.
MSN – Azi Paybarah, Marianna Sotomayor, and Liz Goodwin (Washington Post) | Published: 11/14/2023
Rep. Tim Burchett accused Rep. Kevin McCarthy of elbowing him in the back as they passed each other in a crowded hallway. Burchett was one of eight Republicans who voted to oust McCarthy as House speaker. Sen. Markwayne Mullin brought a hearing to a standstill as he confronted one witness, stood up, and challenged him to a fistfight. Joanne Freeman, a history professor at Yale, said it was important for lawmakers to denounce belligerent behavior and threats, particularly when it comes from a member of their own party. “If no one speaks up it becomes representative of what that party stands for,” she said.
MSN – Chris Marquette (Roll Call) | Published: 11/14/2023
The House ethics committee is considering whether to change rules about lawmaker legal expense funds to expand the pool of people who can use them to pay for their legal bills connected to a campaign or office. Rep. David Schweikert, who faced lawsuits related to his 2022 primary race, asked the committee to allow campaign staffers, vendors, and spouses draw from legal expense funds rather than having to use campaign funds.
Yahoo News – Sabrina Willmer (Bloomberg) | Published: 11/14/2023
A Justice Department attorney argued casino magnate Steve Wynn should have registered as a foreign agent when he alerted the Trump administration that China wanted to extradite a wealthy exile. A three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit heard arguments in the government’s appeal of a decision to toss civil claims against Wynn. District Court Judge James Boasberg had reasoned the Foreign Agent Registration Act only applies to ongoing violations and years had passed since Wynn was required to file a statement.
Yahoo News – Kyle Cheney (Politico) | Published: 11/14/2023
Donald Trump’s renewed attacks on the family of special counsel Jack Smith and his repeated invective against likely witnesses in his Washington, D.C. criminal case warrant the urgent restoration of a gag order against him, prosecutors argued. Smith’s team urged a federal appeals court to reinstate the gag order, which a three-judge panel suspended earlier in November amid Trump’s appeal of the restrictions imposed by U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan.
Yahoo News – Taylor Giorno (The Hill) | Published: 11/15/2023
Five Democrats who sit on the Senate Banking Committee urged the Securities and Exchange Commission to require companies to disclose more details on their corporate lobbying strategy to shareholders. Registered lobbyists are required to file quarterly disclosures that include the total spent on federal lobbying. But registrants are not required to disclose details including whether they lobbied for or against specific legislation or regulations, even as the lobbying activities of a company can carry reputational risks to its investors.
From the States and Municipalities
MSN – Jonathan Edwards (Washington Post) | Published: 11/9/2023
Journalism professor A.J. Bauer felt uneasy when he opened an email newsletter from 1819 News. The Alabama-based website was promoting its story alleging that a small-town mayor who was also a pastor wore women’s clothing and makeup while posing online. Bauer had watched as some in the state grew increasingly hostile to those who do not adhere to traditional gender norms. The site later reporting that F.L. Copeland Jr., the mayor of Smiths Station and a pastor at First Baptist Church of Phenix City, had died by suicide.
Yahoo News – Ray Stern (Arizona Republic) | Published: 11/14/2023
An Arizona lawmaker’s rebuttal to an ethics complaint against her acknowledges some of her poor behavior and accuses a city official of potentially suffering from past “trauma” because he claimed she intimidated him. Rep. Leezah Sun faces potential expulsion from the House after being accused of making intimidating statements and interfering with a child custody case. Through her lawyer, she denied the allegations in a formal response to the complaint that charges Sun with violating the Legislature’s rule against “disorderly behavior.”
MSN – St. John Barned-Smith and J.D. Morris (San Francisco Chronicle) | Published: 11/13/2023
San Francisco Supervisor Ahsha Safaí, who is trying to unseat Mayor London Breed in the November 2024 election, has never hidden his close relationship with Siavash Tahbazof, the patriarch of a family with deep business ties across the city, or the developer;s relatives and business associates. That puts Safaí in an awkward position after Tahbazof and two others were charged with fraud by federal prosecutors.
Voice of OC – Hosam Elattar | Published: 11/13/2023
Anaheim City Council members voted unanimously to implement a policy that will require them to proactively post their calendar online listing meetings with lobbyists, developers, union representatives, and residents starting in January 2024. The policy comes after sworn affidavits by FBI agents and a report by independent investigators concluded the same thing: Anaheim City Hall is essentially controlled by Disneyland resort interests and lobbyists. The new calendar policy is among a host of reform proposals city council members are expected to tackle this fall.
MSN – Randall Chase (Associated Press) | Published: 11/15/2023
The Delaware Supreme Court is weighing whether to overturn the unprecedented convictions of the state’s former auditor on public corruption charges. The court heard arguments in the case of Kathy McGuiness, who was convicted on misdemeanor charges of conflict-of-interest, official misconduct, and noncompliance with state procurement rules. The conflict-of-interest charge involved the hiring of McGuiness’s daughter as a part-time employee in the auditor’s office. McGuinness also was convicted of structuring payments to a consulting firm to avoid having to get them approved by the state Division of Accounting.
Yahoo News – Amanda Fries (Delaware News Journal) | Published: 11/14/2023
Delaware law does not require Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long to release the audit performed on her campaign finances, but watchdogs are hoping she will do so anyway in the interest of transparency. While Hall-Long has said the audit, and the campaign’s decision to openly acknowledge it, was an act of transparency, she continues to decline to release the audit itself, instead suggesting the amended campaign finance reports “fully convey” the audit’s results. The internal audit was launched shortly after Hall-Long announced her bid for governor, prompted by what she said were “reporting issues that require attention.”
Yahoo News – Shirsho Dasgupta (Miami Herald) | Published: 11/14/2023
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez earned payments totaling six figures advising two financial firms run by close associates of a Russian oligarch, two of several side jobs he refused to reveal to the public until he ran for president, with its more rigorous disclosure requirements. As a part-time mayor, Suarez can accept private employment as he sees fit, as long as it does not overlap with his mayoral duties and the employers do not receive special city benefits in return. He has insisted he kept his private jobs and public duties separate, but until now had mostly refused to reveal the identities of those employers.
Yahoo News – David Bauerlein (Florida Times-Union) | Published: 11/9/2023
Jacksonville City Council will be putting more attention on no-bid contracts by having the auditor’s office attend the meetings of the Procurement Division committees that vote on awards of city contracts for everything from construction to supplies to professional services. The council will also get reports every three months from the Procurement Division on all single-source awards during that time frame. The moves were in response to Mayor Donna Deegan hiring Langton Consulting in a $300,000 no-bid contract to perform federal lobbying and grant-writing.
MSN – Amy Gardner and Holly Bailey (Washington Post) | Published: 11/13/2023
The defendants that accepted plea deals in the Georgia election interference case made recordings that were intended to lay out what they know and be used against the other defendants. Although some of the recordings were garbled, the portions of the four statements from lawyers Jenna Ellis, Kenneth Chesebro, and Sidney Powell, and Georgia bail bondsman Scott Hall, offered many previously undisclosed details about the effort by Trump and his allies to reverse his defeat.
Honolulu Civil Beat – Chad Blair | Published: 11/14/2023
Hawaii lawmakers in 2023 passed legislation that requires all state lawmakers to include in financial disclosures the names of lobbyists with whom they have a relationship. Now, the state Ethics Commission wants to revise the law so legislators who work for large employers and who know “or reasonably should know” who is on a lobbying list should also disclose those clients that meet the $5,000 threshold. The lobbying disclosure proposal was one of five tentatively approved by the commission for its legislative package for the 2024 legislative session.
Chicago Sun-Times – Robert Herguth and Tim Novak | Published: 11/9/2023
Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson is not allowed to take campaign contributions from city contractors but has accepted them anyway. Christian Perry, Johnson’s political director, says taking the money was an “oversight” and it is being returned, about $46,500 in all. In some instances, it appears contractors were solicited for campaign cash by Johnson’s political fundraisers. His campaign aides thought it was all right to take money from city contractors as long as the amounts fell below a certain threshold. But the mayor was barred from taking any money from them after he was sworn in on May 15.
MSN – Jason Meisner, A.D. Quig, Sarah Freishtat, and Gregory Pratt (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 11/13/2023
James Bracken’s multifaceted businesses have garnered government contracts from across Cook County worth up to $250 million for demolition services, equipment rental, and materials. At the same time, Bracken and the businesses themselves have contributed nearly $375,000 over the past two decades to a wide array of local elected officials, including a half-dozen who have been charged or come under federal investigation. Now it is Bracken who finds himself embroiled in two separate federal criminal probes, both tied to his business enterprise.
Yahoo News – Gregory Pratt (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 11/14/2023
Chicago Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin violated the ethics code by firing two top aides who alleged she repeatedly misused taxpayer resources and pressured public employees to help her political allies, according to a finding of probable cause by the city’s Board of Ethics. Over the coming months, Conyears-Ervin will have a chance to rebut the findings before the board issues a final ruling and potentially a fine.
Kentucky Lantern – Tom Loftus | Published: 11/10/2023
The Registry of Election Finance launched a civil investigation into the excess campaign contributions given by London Mayor Randall Weddle to the reelection campaign of Gov. Andy Beshear and the Kentucky Democratic Party. The action marks the first evidence that any public agency is investigating the bundles of more than $300,000 in donations to Beshear and the party. Registry Executive Director John Steffen said Weddle and his wife “may have violated” the state law that prohibits a person from giving excess donations to a candidate or political party by giving in the names of other persons.
MSN – Dan Morse (Washington Post) | Published: 11/9/2023
Baltimore’s former top prosecutor, Marilyn Mosby, was convicted of two counts of perjury after she had been accused of lying about her finances to withdraw money from her city retirement account under a program designed to help people struggling financially during the coronavirus pandemic. Prosecutors said she falsely claimed to suffer from financial hardships to access $90,000 from retirement funds she later used to buy two homes in Florida. Mosby has denied wrongdoing, saying she did not defraud anyone.
MSN – Patrick Marley (Washington Post) | Published: 11/14/2023
A judge ruled Donald Trump can appear on the primary ballot in Michigan, delivering the latest setback to those who contend Trump sparked an insurrection on January 6, 2021, and is barred from running for president again as a result. State Judge James Robert Redford wrote that courts do not have the authority to determine whether someone is eligible to run for office under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. Redford also ruled Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson does not have the authority under state law to remove candidates from the ballot based on that provision.
Missouri Independent – Jason Hancock | Published: 11/9/2023
Missouri House Speaker Dean Plocher’s new chief of staff is a former legislative leader whose political career was upended more than a decade ago by a federal bribery investigation and allegations of sexual assault. He is joining Plocher’s office as the speaker faces an ethics committee inquiry into allegations of misconduct and calls for him to resign from fellow Republicans.
Yahoo News – Kacen Bayless (Kansas City Star) | Published: 11/16/2023
Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey’s office scrubbed from its website an online form that allowed residents to file complaints of public corruption against elected officials. An archive from May shows that the online form allowed users to issue complaints of criminal acts by public officials so long as the local police agency had a conflict-of-interest in investigating the matter. The decision has come under scrutiny in the wake of a series of scandals surrounding House Speaker Dean Plocher, who faces calls to resign after reports surfaced that he received government reimbursements for expenses paid for by his campaign.
MSN – Greg Jaffe (Washington Post) | Published: 11/15/2023
Today, Congress is so divided and ideologically polarized that it struggles to execute its most basic responsibilities. State Legislatures are often so dominated by a single party that the majority can push through its agenda with little regard for what most voters might prefer. In the two dozen states that allow citizen-sponsored referendums, Democrats and Republicans are turning to the ballot box to make law and in many cases overrule their elected officials. The initiatives have rolled across the country in waves in recent decades.
MSN – Azi Paybarah (Washington Post) | Published: 11/15/2023
New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan set his state’s presidential primary for January 23, formalizing its defiance of the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) reworked primary calendar, which aims to give voters in more racially diverse states an early voice in the nominating process. The DNC approved a plan this year to shuffle the order in which states would appear in its 2024 primary calendar. The plan calls for South Carolina to be the first primary state, followed by New Hampshire and Nevada a week later, then Michigan.
ABC News – Jake Offenhartz (Associated Press) | Published: 11/10/2023
FBI agents seized phones and an iPad from New York City Mayor Eric Adams as part of an investigation into political fundraising during his 2021 campaign. The seizures happened as Adams was leaving a public event in Manhattan. A search warrant indicated authorities are examining whether the Adams campaign conspired with the Turkish government to receive donations from foreign sources, funneled through straw donors. The warrant also requested information about Adams’ use of the city’s public campaign finance program.
MSN – Chris Sommerfeldt (New York Daily News) | Published: 11/10/2023
Vito Pitta, New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ longtime campaign compliance lawyer, has been getting paid by the campaign for consulting and legal services at the same time as his government relations firm has lobbied the mayor’s administration on behalf of a variety of private interests. There are no laws or regulations prohibiting the type of dual role Pitta has played but the situation raised conflict-of-interest concerns. Pitta is not the only Adams campaign adviser who has lobbied his administration in conjunction with working for him in a political capacity.
Yahoo News – Bill Mahoney (Politico) | Published: 11/15/2023
New York’s top court heard oral arguments in a case that will determine whether the Democratic-dominated state Legislature will have another chance to draw maps for its 26-member congressional delegation. A Democratic victory in the Court of Appeals would let legislators make the lines for as many as seven Republican-held seats in New York friendlier to Democrats. The stakes are high: Democrats would have kept a majority in Congress in 2022 had they won five additional races.
MSN – Gillian McGoldrick (Philadelphia Inquirer) | Published: 11/14/2023
A bipartisan group of female state senators unveiled a package of legislation aimed at combatting sexual harassment at the Pennsylvania Capitol, following several high-profile allegations made against top officials this year, including state representative and a top aide to the governor. But the bills will not address some of the biggest priorities among victim advocates.
MSN – Joseph DiStefano (Philadelphia Inquirer) | Published: 11/15/2023
Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro recently named Gregory Thall, a longtime government official who now works as a lobbyist, as chairperson of the $35 billion-asset State Employees Retirement System (SERS) pension plan. As a lobbyist for GSL Public Strategies Group, Thall disclosed a long list of the firm’s clients he registered to represent. They include Lubert-Adler Partners, which is one of more than 100 private money managers paid to invest public funds for SERS.
MSN – Annie Todd (Sioux Falls Argus Leader) | Published: 11/14/2023
South Dakota lawmakers will receive a letter asking them to list all possible conflicts-of-interest when it comes to their jobs outside of being legislators. Those responses will then be used in a brief that the South Dakota Supreme Court will examine while they make a decision regarding the broad nature of a constitutional provision banning lawmakers from having a either a direct or indirect conflict in state contracts during their terms and up to a year after they exit office.
West Virginia – Senate Democrat Joe Manchin Says He Will Not Seek Reelection
MSN – Liz Goodwin, Amy Wang, and Michael Scherer (Washington Post) | Published: 11/9/2023
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin announced he would not seek reelection in 2024, setting back Democrats’ plans to hold onto their majority in 2024 and raising their fears he could get involved in the presidential race as a third-party candidate. Manchin had defied political gravity by holding onto his seat in the deeply red state of West Virginia but would have faced long odds against either Gov. Jim Justice or Rep. Alex Mooney, who are running in the Republican primary next year.
November 16, 2023 •
Elections Michigan: “Judge Allows Trump on Michigan Primary Ballot as Critics Try to Bar Him” by Patrick Marley (Washington Post) for MSN Nebraska: “A Boom of Ballot Initiatives Is Reshaping This State’s Democracy” by Greg Jaffe (Washington Post) for MSN Ethics National: “House Ethics Panel […]
November 14, 2023 •
Campaign Finance Illinois: “Brandon Johnson Wasn’t Supposed to Take Campaign Money from City Contractors, but He Did” by Robert Herguth and Tim Novak for Chicago Sun-Times New York: “FBI Seized Phones, iPad from New York Mayor Eric Adams in Escalation of Fundraising Investigation” by […]
Illinois: “Brandon Johnson Wasn’t Supposed to Take Campaign Money from City Contractors, but He Did” by Robert Herguth and Tim Novak for Chicago Sun-Times
New York: “FBI Seized Phones, iPad from New York Mayor Eric Adams in Escalation of Fundraising Investigation” by Jake Offenhartz (Associated Press) for ABC News
National: “Tim Scott Suspends Struggling Presidential Primary Bid” by Meryl Kornfield, Marianne LeVine, and Hannah Knowles (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “MAGA-Dominated State Republican Parties Plagued by Infighting, Money Woes” by Isaac Arnsdorf, Josh Dawsey, Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, Patrick Marley, and Amy Gardner (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “Prominent S.F. Developer and Two Others Charged with Bribery in Widening Corruption Scandal” by St. John Barned-Smith (San Francisco Chronicle) for MSN
National: “The Supreme Court Says It Is Adopting a Code of Ethics for the First Time” by Mark Sherman (Associated Press) for MSN
Missouri: “Rod Jetton’s Political Career Ended in Scandal. Now He’s Dean Plocher’s Chief of Staff” by Jason Hancock for Missouri Independent
California: “Anaheim Officials to Publicly Post Online Who They Meet With” by Hosam Elattar for Voice of OC
November 10, 2023 •
National/Federal To Help 2024 Voters, Meta Says It Will Begin Labeling Political Ads That Use AI-Generated Imagery ABC News – David Klepper (Associated Press) | Published: 11/8/2023 Facebook and Instagram will require political ads running on their platforms to disclose if they […]
ABC News – David Klepper (Associated Press) | Published: 11/8/2023
Facebook and Instagram will require political ads running on their platforms to disclose if they were created using artificial intelligence (AI). Under the new policy by Meta, labels acknowledging the use of AI will appear on users’ screens when they click on ads. The rule takes effect January 1 and will be applied worldwide. The development of new AI programs has made it easier to quickly generate lifelike audio.
Courthouse News Service – Benjamin Weiss | Published: 11/3/2023
Lawmakers who for years have demanded the federal judiciary prevent organizations from swaying judges by gaming a common court practice urged the U.S. Judicial Conference to wrap up proposed rulemaking that would serve as a major check on such activity. Members of Congress, particularly Democrats, have long raised concerns that lobbying groups and other organizations use coordinated groups of amicus briefs to push courts toward favorable rulings.
DNyuz – Tim Arango and Holly Secon (New York Times) | Published: 11/9/2023
David DePape lived a solitary life, worked carpentry jobs and was seemingly obsessed with right-wing conspiracy theories on the internet. Then in October 2022, police said, DePape, broke into Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco home and bludgeoned her husband when she was still House speaker. The authorities said he told investigators he intended to take hostage Pelosi, long a subject of virulent attacks by right-wing leaders and pundits. DePape’s trial spotlights the online disinformation cycle that has been fed by conspiracy theorists, conservative activists, elected officials, and media outlets.
MSN – Ann Marimow (Washington Post) | Published: 11/8/2023
Democrats in Congress have tried unsuccessfully to press the Supreme Court to strengthen its ethics rules following revelations that some justices accepted and did not report free luxury travel, real estate deals, and gifts from wealthy benefactors. The Senate Judiciary Committee plans to vote to subpoena two wealthy benefactors, along with a judicial activist who helped shape the court’s conservative supermajority. But the path to obtaining the information Democrats are seeking will be contentious.
MSN – Hailey Fuchs (Politico) | Published: 11/8/2023
In a twist on the meet-and-greet events that routinely dot the fundraiser party circuit, some members of Congress are shaking hands with donors and others at concert venues, in VIP boxes, or suites. Just as the Federal Reserve credits Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour for boosting the tourism industry and the overall economy, Swift and Beyoncé’s Renaissance World Tour have been a means for lawmakers to boost their own campaign coffers.
MSN – Spencer Hsu and Tom Jackman (Washington Post) | Published: 11/4/2023
A coalition of news organizations asked U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan to make an exception to the rule barring cameras from federal courtrooms for Donald Trump’s election subversion case and permit the televising, recording, or same-day release of video and audio recordings of his trial. Federal courts have long prohibited cameras in the courtroom, wary of feeding what the Supreme Court called a “carnival atmosphere” of publicity that could intimidate witnesses, sway jurors, or deprive criminal defendants of their due process rights.
MSN – Julian Mark (Washington Post) | Published: 11/6/2023
The Civil Rights Act of 1866, which established citizenship for newly emancipated slaves, has become central to the legal battle over what is fair and equal when it comes to race in the workplace. In recent years, and especially since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned race-conscious college admissions in June, the Reconstruction-era law has emerged as a critical tool for conservatives intent on dismantling race-specific programs that promote “diversity, equity and inclusion,” or DEI.
MSN – Rachel Weiner and Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 11/3/2023
A Trump appointee to the State Department who assaulted multiple police officers at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, was sentenced to nearly six years in prison by a fellow veteran of the administration. Judge Trevor McFadden said he was “disturbed” that Federico Klein considered it part of his “duties” to attend the rally that day and join the protesters at the Capitol agitating for lawmakers to throw the election to Donald Trump. Officers testified Klein was at the front of the violent mob for nearly two hours, first helping to break a police line and then joining a Battle against officers guarding a tunnel into the building.
MSN – Rachel Weiner, Spencer Hsu,and Tom Jackman (Washington Post) | Published: 11/6/2023
Prosecutors said they plan to show at trial that Donald Trump lied repeatedly about the results of the 2020 election as part of a conspiracy to subvert the legitimate results. But they also said they do not need to prove whether Trump believed he lost the race. Legal experts have debated the importance of Trump’s state of mind in his federal election subversion case, with some arguing that to win a conviction the government must pin down the true beliefs of a politician who amassed a long record of making false or misleading claims while president.
Yahoo News – Hailey Fuchs and Brendan Bordelon (Politico) | Published: 11/4/2023
Lobbyists are rushing to sign up artificial intelligence (AI) companies as clients and K Street firms also are being enlisted by industries and interest groups that want help influencing AI policy. Groups as disparate as the NFL Players Association, Nike, Amazon, and the Mayo Clinic have enlisted help from firms to lobby on the matter. Some lobbyists compared the boom in business opportunities to the cryptocurrency policy debate. But AI has the potential to be even bigger.
Yahoo News – Alanna Durkin Richer and Eric Tucker (Associated Press) | Published: 11/3/2023
A federal appeals court temporarily lifted a gag order on Donald Trump in his 2020 election interference case in Washington, the latest twist in the legal fight over the restrictions on the former president’s speech. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit decision puts a hold on the limited gag order to give the judges time to consider Trump’s request for a longer pause on the restrictions while his appeals play out.
From the States and Municipalities
Radio New Zealand – Guyon Espiner | Published: 11/6/2023
A public relations and lobbying firm was embedded at New Zealand’s Commerce Commission, working on highly sensitive areas of competition policy at the heart of an inflation crisis. Staff from the Wellington consultancy SenateSHJ worked in the physical offices of the competition watchdog and were given Commerce Commission email addresses and devices. While Senate lobbied for private sector clients, the commission did not pay it for lobbying, only for communications and media training. Documents showed Senate worked on commission projects in the energy sector, despite representing private sector energy clients.
Arizona Capitol Times – Howard Fischer (Capitol News Services) | Published: 11/7/2023
Attorney Scott Freeman acknowledges that Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Scott McCoy rejected his bid to void Proposition 211. The judge ruled in June there is nothing unconstitutional about the voter-approved measure designed to prohibit “dark money” in campaigns. McCoy said Freeman’s clients could seek an exemption. The judge noted that would require either group to show “reasonable probability that disclosure of its contributors’ names will subject them to threats, harassment, or reprisals from either government officials or private parties.”
Yahoo News – Ray Stern (Arizona Republic) | Published: 11/3/2023
Democratic leaders in the Arizona House filed an ethics complaint against Rep. Leezah Sun, who allegedly harassed and made a death threat to employees with the city of Tolleson. Sun recently denied an allegation claiming that she said she would throw a Tolleson lobbyist off a balcony to “kill her.” The complaint alleges Sun made threats against officials with the city, interfered with a lawful court order, violated state custodial interference laws, and engaged in disorderly conduct.
MSN – Kyle Cheney (Politico) | Published: 11/3/2023
A California judge made a “preliminary finding” that attorney John Eastman breached professional ethics when he aided Donald Trump’s bid to overturn the 2020 election, a milestone in the proceedings over whether Eastman should lose his license to practice law. Now, state bar officials are preparing to present “aggravation” evidence aimed at justifying their call to strip Eastman, a veteran conservative attorney who once clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, of his law license.
Oaklandside – Eli Wolfe | Published: 11/7/2023
There are state and local laws in California that prohibit government workers from having conflicts-of-interest. Local governments like Oakland require city employees and elected officials to disclose their personal finances so the public can be sure there is no hidden agenda behind a decision. The Oakland Public Ethics Commission is supposed to act as a bulwark against public corruption, and it can investigate and fine officials who violate the law. But the commission is struggling to make use of the city’s most basic conflict-of-interest tool, a document called Form 700.
MSN – Randall Chase (Associated Press) | Published: 11/6/2023
Delaware’s ethics agency determined the state agriculture secretary and one of his top deputies violated the law by entering into no-bid agreements with Department of Agriculture employees to care for farm animals seized by animal welfare officials. The Public Integrity Commission ruled Agriculture Secretary Michael Scuse improperly agreed to pay one of his employees more than $90,000 as part of a no-bid agreement to take care of a flock of poultry after almost 500 birds were seized in May.
WLRN – Joshua Ceballos | Published: 11/6/2023
Miami Commissioner Manolo Reyes is facing a longshot opponent in this year’s race who spent only a few hundred of his own dollars on his campaign. Yet the Reyes campaign has spent more than $200,000, and steered more than half the money to a public relations company that is owned by the wife of his chief of staff. County ethics rules do not prohibit government employees from working on campaigns if they do not use government resources or time, but the payments to Reyes’ top employee constitute the highest spending in what appears to be a less than competitive race.
Chicago Sun-Times – Jon Seidel | Published: 11/6/2023
Edmund Burke, Chicago’s longest serving city council member, is on trial, charged with racketeering, bribery, and extortion. The case is the result of an aggressive probe into the same old-school Chicago-style politics through which Burke built his power, and which he personified for decades. If found guilty, Burke would be the fourth current or former member of the council to be convicted in federal court in five years.
DNyuz – Rebecca Carballo (New York Times) | Published: 11/6/2023
Officials in a Chicago suburb issued citations to a local news reporter after he persistently contacted elected officials about a flooding issue. The Daily Southtown published an article by Hank Sanders about consultants informing officials in Calumet City that storm water facilities were in “poor condition” before a recent flood swept through the community. Sanders continued to inquire about flooding issues after the article was published. His calls and emails drew complaints from Calumet City officials, including Mayor Thaddeus Jones, who is also a state representative.
MSN – Maria Luisa Paúl (Washington Post) | Published: 11/3/2023
Shortly after Roe v. Wade was overturned last year, Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita accused a doctor who had helped a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio terminate her pregnancy of being an “abortion activist” with “a history of failing to report” similar procedures to state officials. Those comments, which Rokita made about Caitlin Bernard during an appearance on Fox News, amounted to “attorney misconduct,” the Indiana Supreme Court ruled.
Kansas Reflector – Sherman Smith | Published: 11/6/2023
Marion Police Chief Gideon Cody enlisted the support of local and state law enforcement officials in the days before he led raids on the local newspaper office, the publisher’s home, and the home of a city council member. The Bureau of Investigation, Department of Revenue, Marion County Sheriff’s Office, and the Office of the State Fire Marshal, along with the county attorney and a magistrate judge, were complicit in the raid or knew it was imminent. But in the days that followed, they largely downplayed their involvement.
MSN – Hannah Knowles and Dylan Wells (Washington Post) | Published: 11/7/2023
Democrat Andy Beshear defeated his Republican opponent Daniel Cameron to win reelection as Kentucky’s governor, securing a stark victory in a state Donald Trump won by 26 points. The results are a stark blow to Trump and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, both of whom endorsed Cameron, the state attorney general who tried to nationalize the race and remind voters of their party lines. He and his allies promoted an endorsement from Trump and attacked Beshear as a Joe Biden ally who clashed with Republicans on culture war issues.
NOLA.com – Joseph Cranney | Published: 11/8/2023
Two city employees should not have participated in last year’s controversial selection of a public wi-fi contract and may have violated state ethics laws by not disclosing their ties to the winning bidder the New Orleans Office of Inspector General (OIG) said in a report. The OIG largely backed the conclusions of an earlier investigation by two outside firms hired by the city council, though neither probe found evidence of self-dealing. The state ethics board also cleared the employees, IT staffer Christopher Wolff and former Utilities Director Jonathan Rhodes, of any violations.
Yahoo News – Emily Cochrane (New York Times) | Published: 11/4/2023
Before a ballot was cast, Louisiana Democrats knew they could not win control of the state Legislature this year. It was mathematically impossible because a lack of candidates meant they were not even contesting the majority of districts. Their best hope for political success was that Shawn Wilson would force a runoff against Jeff Landry, the state attorney general, in an open primary for governor. But when Landry won a majority of the primary vote, eliminating the need for a runoff, the results instead laid bare the bleak conditions of a state Democratic Party decimated by internal divisions, paltry fundraising, totals, and a disenchanted voter base.
Portland Press Herald – Randy Billings | Published: 11/7/2023
Maine voters approved a referendum to ban foreign governments and affiliated organizations from spending money on state and local referendum campaigns. Federal and state election laws already prohibit foreign nationals from contributing to candidates seeking office in Maine, but they do not ban foreign governments or entities from spending money to influence state and local referendums or elections.
Detroit News – Beth LeBlanc | Published: 11/9/2023
The Michigan House approved financial disclosure requirements that opponents argued violated the spirit of the voter-mandated transparency reforms. The legislation would require annual financial disclosures of several statewide elected officials and lawmakers starting in April, meeting the requirements of the ballot measure approved a year ago. But the bills neglected to require similar disclosures from an official’s spouse and failed to close long-acknowledged loopholes in Michigan’s transparency laws.
MSN – Dave Boucher (Detroit Free Press) | Published: 11/8/2023
Detroit board members who set salaries for the mayor and other elected leaders are among many public officials who must now file new ethics disclosures in light of a Detroit Free Press investigation. Each member of the Elected Officials Compensation Commission – along with mayoral appointees on boards that oversee police, the water department, and other entities – will need to file new disclosures early next year.
MSN – Patrick Marley (Washington Post) | Published: 11/8/2023
The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled Donald Trump can appear on the primary ballot next year but left open the possibility he could be struck from the general election ballot because of the attack on the U.S. Capitol. The Minnesota case is one of several interlocking challenges that argue Trump cannot serve again under Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment, which bars insurrectionists from holding office.
Missouri Independemt – Rudi Keller | Published: 11/8/2023
A small Missouri town’s attempt to “intimidate and silence” a critic violated both her First Amendment rights and the state’s Sunshine Law, a judge ruled. Edgar Springs, a town of 200 in Phelps County, must pay a nominal fine of $150 to Rebecca Varney for banning her from City Hall for four years, and for holding several closed meetings with business that should have been conducted in public, Judge John Beger decided.
MSN – Marianne LeVine (Washington Post) | Published: 11/6/2023
Donald Trump portrayed himself as the victim of “election interference” and a “political witch hunt.” He decried the “weaponization” of a judicial system he alleges, without evidence, is unfairly targeting him. But the former president was not speaking at a campaign rally. Instead, he was inside a courtroom. New York Attorney General Letitia James was alleging he and his company falsely inflated property values to gain lending advantages, and Trump was on the witness stand.
MSN – Chris Sommerfeldt, Thomas Tracy, and Michael Gartland (New York Daily News) | Published: 11/3/2023
FBI agents raided the home of Brianna Suggs, the manager of New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ campaign fundraising operation who has claimed credit for collecting more than $19 million for his political efforts over the years. The raid is part of a federal public corruption investigation into whether Adams’ 2021 campaign conspired with the Turkish government and a Brooklyn construction firm to funnel foreign money into the campaign’s coffers via straw donors.
WRAL – Will Doran | Published: 11/2/2023
North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Anita Earls is suing the state’s Judicial Standards Commission to stop an ethics investigation targeting her for critiques she made about racial, gender, and political biases at the state’s highest court. She says it is a violation of her First Amendment rights, and little more than an attempt to intimidate her into silence. The commission says judges are banned from making comments that might make people lose faith in the integrity of the judicial system. U.S. District Court Judge William O’Steen will decide whether to shut down the investigation.
MSN – Laura Hancock and Andrew Tobias (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 11/7/2023
Ohio voters passed a state constitutional amendment guaranteeing abortion rights and became the seventh state to side with reproductive rights since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Republican leaders in the General Assembly scheduled an August special election intended to thwart the abortion rights amendment by requiring all future constitutional amendments pass with a supermajority at the ballot box. That was defeated and Ohio’s abortion rights amendment only needed to pass with a simple majority.
Ohio Capital Journal – Marty Schladen | Published: 10/30/2023
Frustrated former employees told the press that in their office “everything revolved around” Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s run for U.S. Senate. Now, LaRose appears to be using the taxpayer-funded office’s newsletter in that campaign. As a state official, LaRose is not supposed to use state resources in his political campaigns. As secretary of state, it is important that he wall off politics from his official duties because LaRose administers elections, including those in which he is running.
MSN – Sean Collins Walsh (Philadelphia Inquirer) | Published: 11/7/2023
Democrat Cherelle Parker defeated Republican David Oh to become the 100th mayor of Philadelphia. She will be the first woman to hold the office when her four-year term begins in January. A former state representative and city council majority leader, Parker coasted to victory in the general election with a compelling personal story, a tough-on-crime platform, and strong backing from the Democratic establishment and organized labor.
ABC News – Associated Press | Published: 11/3/2023
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem requested guidance from the state Supreme Court about conflict-of-interest rules for lawmakers, several weeks after a lawmaker resigned and agreed to repay $500,000 in federal COVID-19 relief she received for her day care business. Jessica Castleberry was a senator when she received the stimulus funding. Doing so violated a state Supreme Court advisory warning lawmakers it is unconstitutional for them to accept federal pandemic funding.
MSN – Leia Larsen (Salt Lake City Tribune) | Published: 11/8/2023
The private company behind a plan to dredge Utah Lake and turn it into an island city sued a leading critic, ecology professor Ben Abbott, for defamation. Abbott countersued, alleging the company was trying to stifle public debate about the proposal. Then, months later, Abbott found out his grant for a $500,000 watershed study funded by the Legislature had been canceled. “We were totally taken by surprise,” said Abbott, who teaches at Brigham Young University. “… I thought, ‘Does this have something to do with the islands situation?'”
MSN – Gregory Schneider and Laura Vozzella (Washington Post) | Published: 11/7/2023
Virginia voters rejected Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s costly efforts to take control of the Virginia General Assembly in the November 7 elections, flipping the House of Delegates to Democratic control and preserving a blue majority in the state Senate that can block his conservative agenda. Youngkin raised record sums of money and spent personal political capital pushing for full GOP control of both chambers. Whether Virginians rewarded or resisted Youngkin’s campaign was considered an indicator of voter attitudes ahead of next year’s presidential election.
Yahoo News – Shauna Sowersby (The Olympian) | Published: 11/7/2023
Six controversial ballot initiatives that are still in the signature-gathering process are under formal investigation by the Washington Public Disclosure Commission (PDC). The six initiatives are the efforts of Let’s Go Washington and sponsored by Brian Heywood, a Republican donor. Two allegations are listed on the PDC website, one for failing to accurately file reports that reflect “in-kind contribution details for the expenditures made, and which initiatives were supported” and the other for “failing to properly disclose the identity of a vendor for some of the in-kind contributions received from Brian Heywood.”
November 3, 2023 •
National/Federal Rep. George Santos Survives Effort to Expel Him from the House. But He Still Faces an Ethics Report ABC News – Kevin Freking and Stephen Groves (Associated Press) | Published: 11/1/2023 U.S. Rep. George Santos survived a vote to expel him […]
ABC News – Kevin Freking and Stephen Groves (Associated Press) | Published: 11/1/2023
U.S. Rep. George Santos survived a vote to expel him from the House as most Republicans and 31 Democrats opted to withhold punishment while both his criminal trial and a House ethics committee investigation proceed. The effort to expel Santos was led by his fellow New York Republicans, who are anxious to distance themselves from a colleague infamous for fabricating his life story and accused of stealing from donors, lying to Congress, and receiving unemployment benefits he did not deserve.
DNyuz – Alan Feuer and Maggie Haberman (New York Times) | Published: 10/26/2023
Federal prosecutors have withdrawn a subpoena seeking records from former President Trump’s 2020 campaign as part of their investigation into whether Trump’s political and fundraising operations committed any crimes as he sought to stay in power after he lost the election. The decision this week by special counsel Jack Smith to effectively kill the subpoena to the Trump campaign came on the heels of the withdrawal of a similar subpoena to Save America, the PAC that was formed by Trump’s aides shortly after he lost the race in 2020.
MSN – Robert Barnes (Washington Post) | Published: 11/1/2023
Supreme Court justices across the ideological divide seemed skeptical that a California lawyer has a free speech right to trademark the double-entendre phrase “Trump Too Small” for use on T-shirts criticizing former President Trump. In fact, Chief Justice John Roberts opined, ruling for Trump critic Steve Elster could make it harder for others to create their own takes about the man running to reclaim his old job.
MSN – Perry Stein and Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 11/1/2023
The judge overseeing Donald Trump’s indictment for allegedly mishandling national security secrets suggested she might push back the planned trial timeline, as courts wrestle with the growing complexity of juggling four separate criminal cases and an ongoing civil trial against the former president. U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon listened to prosecutors argue at a hearing for keeping the schedule she set earlier this year, which includes a trial in May 2024. Lawyers for Trump insisted they needed more time to prepare.
MSN – Robert Barnes and Ann Marimow (Washington Post) | Published: 10/26/2023
With a dozen judges nominated by Republican presidents, and only four by Democrats, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit is the favored launchpad for right-leaning politicians and organizations seeking groundbreaking judicial decisions restricting abortion, limiting gun laws, and thwarting the ambitions of the Biden administration. The Fifth Circuit’s work is drawing more U.S. Supreme Court review than that of any other among the dozen regional appeals courts, which operate one step below the high court. In the new term, the justices already have said they will review eight decisions from the New Orleans-based court.
MSN – Patrick Marley (Washington Post) | Published: 10/27/2023
Judges are weighing an unprecedented and historic question: is former President Trump eligible to run for office again given his alleged role in the riot at the U.S. Capitol? A week-long hearing in Denver will explore whether January 6 qualified as an insurrection, which could bar Trump from the ballot in Colorado. The Minnesota Supreme Court will hear arguments about whether an obscure part of the Constitution might keep Trump off the ballot there. In coming weeks, courts around the country might hold similar proceedings.
MSN – Rachel Weiner and Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 10/29/2023
A federal judge reimposed limits on Donald Trump’s public statements in advance of his trial on charges of conspiring to subvert the results of the 2020 election. U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan put back in place an order she had lifted nine days earlier to give Trump and prosecutors more time to argue whether the restrictions were unconstitutional, as attorneys for the former president had claimed. Trump can now ask a higher court for an emergency stay pending appeal, but in the meantime, he is bound by Chutkan’s limits.
MSN – Maeve Reston and Marianne LeVine (Washington Post) | Published: 10/28/2023
Former Vice President Mike Pence suspended his campaign for the GOP presidential nomination, facing the reality there was little appetite for his candidacy among the legions of Republican voters who remain loyal to Donald Trump and viewed Pence as a traitor because he refused to follow Trump’s demands to overturn the 2020 election results. Pence’s years-long descent from first in line for the presidency to an also-ran reached a conclusion at a high-profile summit which brought together some of the most powerful Republican donors in one room.
MSN – Taylor Lorenz (Washington Post) | Published: 10/31/2023
News consumption hit a tipping point around the globe during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, with more people turning to social media platforms such as TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram than to websites maintained by traditional news outlets, according to the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. One in five adults under 24 use TikTok as a source for news. Britain’s Office of Communications said young adults in the United Kingdom now spend more time watching TikTok than broadcast media. As independent online producers of news programming rose to prominence, the ramifications for society are still coming into focus.
MSN – Ann Marimow (Washington Post) | Published: 10/30/2023
Senate Democrats announced plans to vote to subpoena a pair of wealthy conservatives and a judicial activist who have underwritten or organized lavish travel for some U.S. Supreme Court justices, a move that adds to the pressure on the court to strengthen its ethics policies. The Judiciary Committee leaders will vote to authorize subpoenas for information from billionaire Harlan Crow, a close friend and benefactor of Justice Clarence Thomas, and from Leonard Leo, the conservative judicial activist.
MSN – Ann Marimow (Washington Post) | Published: 10/31/2023
The U.S. Supreme Court struggled to agree on how to determine when public officials can block critics from their private social media accounts, reviewing two cases that will have broad implications for citizen interactions with politicians online. All nine justices seemed to acknowledge the challenge and importance of defining when government employees are acting in an official capacity online, and therefore bound by First Amendment restrictions on censorship; and when they are acting as private citizens, with their own individual free speech rights.
From the States and Municipalities
Alabama Reflector – Ralph Chapoco | Published: 10/26/2023
Members of the House Ethics and Finance Committee discussed efforts since 2010 to amend Alabama’s ethics law. The gathering was the third in a series of “work meetings” providing legislators planning to draft legislation to update the existing law after a report released in 2019 recommending changes that included tightening language in the state’s ethics code and offering graduated penalties for specific violations.
MSN – Paul Farhi (Washington Post) | Published: 11/1/2023
A newspaper publisher and a reporter were arrested for publishing an article that officials said was based on confidential grand-jury evidence, a move that press-freedom advocates are characterizing as an unconstitutional attack on the news media. Publisher Sherry Digmon and reporter Don Fletcher of the Atmore News in Alabama were arrested after a story by Fletcher disclosed details of an investigation into the local school board’s payments to seven former school-system employees.
Arizona Mirror – Jerod MacDonald-Evoy | Published: 10/30/2023
An Arizona legislator who was among the rioting crowds at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, is facing a campaign finance complaint alleging he illegally used cash from a failed re-election bid to attend the insurrection, including airfare and a hotel stay. On January 5, Kern reported an expenditure for an airline ticket. On January 11, Kern reported an expenditure of $436.74 for travel and lodging at a Hyatt hotel.
MSN – Yvonne Wingett Sanchez (Washington Post) | Published: 10/27/2023
The Arizona attorney general’s investigation into the coordinated attempt to overturn the 2020 election results by creating and sending documents to the federal government falsely declaring Donald Trump the winner is also zeroing in on the pressure placed on local officials by the former president’s key allies to help avert his loss. The investigation underscores the dramatically different approach that prosecutors from opposing parties have taken when weighing post-2020 activities.
Long Beach Post – Jason Ruiz | Published: 10/26/2023
Most respondents to a city survey about proposed changes to Long Beach’s lobbying rules said city officials should have to proactively disclose meetings with lobbyists, something they are not currently required to do. Those disclosures, respondents said, should be more frequent and robust than the law currently requires. The Long Beach Ethics Commission asked for the feedback as it is crafting changes to the city’s lobbying disclosure law. A new draft of the changes could be out as soon as November.
MSN – Bob Egelko (San Francisco Chronicle) | Published: 10/28/2023
San Francisco’s law requiring political ads to identify their top financial donors survived another challenge in federal appeals court, but nine conservative judges argued in dissent the law violates free speech. An attorney for opponents of the measure says he will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The law went beyond disclosure mandates in state law by requiring committees financing local campaign advertisements to identify in the ads their top two donors of $5,000 or more.
MSN – Jeff McDonald (San Diego Union Tribune) | Published: 10/30/2023
More than a month after being nominated by Mayor Todd Gloria to serve on the San Diego Ethics Commission, former Sheriff Bill Gore has withdrawn his nomination in the face of overwhelming opposition. Gloria’s nomination generated immediate backlash from criminal justice reform advocates and family members of people who died in San Diego County jails in recent years. According to sheriff’s department records, more than 170 people died in county jails on Gore’s watch since he was first appointed sheriff in 2009.
WMNF – Jim Saunders (News Service of Florida) | Published: 10/26/2023
Pointing to securing the “public trust,” Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody asked a federal appeals court to overturn a decision that blocked part of a 2018 state constitutional amendment imposing new restrictions on lobbying. U.S. District Court Judge Beth Bloom issued a permanent injunction against a restriction on state and local officials lobbying other government bodies while in office. Bloom said the constraint violated First Amendment rights.
Yahoo News – Eric Rogers (Florida Today) | Published: 10/30/2023
Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey will not face ethics charges related to allegations of interference in the 2022 elections, after the candidates who came forward declined to talk to state investigators, according to the Florida Commission on Ethics. Ivey admitted making offers to the candidates in an interview with investigators but denied it was meant to sway their decisions to run, the allegation at the heart of the ethics complaint.
Yahoo News – Zach Montellaro (Politico) | Published: 10/26/2023
A federal court found Georgia’s congressional map violates the Voting Rights Act, the latest Southern state to have its map struck down for discriminating against Black voters. A judge ordered the state Legislature to redraw the lines by early December. The opinion said Black voters’ power had been diluted following extensive population growth in the state that has been disproportionately powered by Black residents. Gov. Brian calling the Legislature into special session on November 29 to handle redistricting.
Honolulu Civil Beat – Chad Blair | Published: 10/20/2023
Since a new law requiring state legislators and employees to complete live or online ethics training classes every four years went into effect January 1, the number of people taking the course has increased as compared to 2021. That is due in part because an online, self-directed version of the course was introduced in 2020, when the pandemic forced many people to work from home. But there are still hundreds of workers that have not taken the training, either online or live via webinar or in-person classes.
WBEZ – Fran Spielman (Chicago Sun-Times) and Mariah Woelfel | Published: 10/31/2023
As Chicago Ald. Ed Burke prepares to stand trial on sweeping corruption charges in a racketeering indictment, the path to this moment was paved in part by the enormous power he gained through “scratch my back” politics, including aldermanic prerogative. Also known as aldermanic privilege, the practice is an entrenched, off-the-books power that gives council members unquestioned say over a broad range of decisions – from zoning matters to parking permits. Despite efforts to curb it, that tradition continues to this day.
The Hill – David Sharp (Associated Press) | Published: 11/2/2023
Maine voters will decide whether to ban foreign influence in elections, many of them irked over the $22 million a Canadian utility spent to fight state referendums on a hydropower transmission project. Hydro Quebec, owned by the Canadian province, exploited an election law loophole to fight attempts to stop the project on which the utility stood to gain $10 billion. If voters grant their approval on November 7, Maine would be the 10th state to close the loophole in federal election law that bans foreign entities from spending on candidate elections, yet allows donations for local and state ballot measures, said Aaron McKean of the Campaign Legal Center.
Energy and Policy – Dave Anderson | Published: 10/26/2023
Maryland utility regulators ordered a new audit of Potomac Edison after the FirstEnergy-owned utility admitted in a rate case that it owes nearly $1.7 million in refunds to Maryland customers it wrongly charged for bribes, lobbying, corporate sponsorships, advertising, and other expenses. The new audit will seek to ensure that Potomac Edison’s wrongful charges to customers in Maryland are fully accounted for and refunded.
MSN – Simon Schuster (MLive) | Published: 11/2/2023
The Michigan Senate passed legislation laying out what state politicians must show the public in new personal financial disclosures, after slightly expanding the requirements amid criticism the bills leave too much in the dark. Elected officials and candidates in the legislative and executive branches of state government will have to list their sources of income, but not the amount, and list assets and liabilities under the bills. A sticking point remains the amount of information candidates or elected officials must list about family members.
Mississippi Today – Julia James, Geoff Pender, Bobby Harrison, Taylor Vance, and Adam Ganucheau | Published: 10/31/2023
Of the 88 individual or corporate donors who have given Gov. Tate Reeves’ campaigns at least $50,000, Mississippi Today identified 15 donors whose companies received a total of $1.4 billion in state contracts or grants since he took office in 2020. The investigation reveals how private companies, whose executives routinely donate large sums to politicians, can rake in hundreds of millions in taxpayer funds while having the ear of powerful elected officials.
Missouri Independent – Rudi Keller | Published: 10/27/2023
The Missouri House Ethics Committee met behind closed doors to discuss a “personnel inquiry” in a meeting that had been widely expected to focus on beleaguered House Speaker Dean Plocher. The committee, which reviews complaints against House lawmakers, is scheduled to meet again to discuss the same inquiry on November 8. The meeting came as Plocher, who is running for lieutenant governor in 2024, is facing calls to resign after reports surfaced he received government reimbursements over several years for expenses also paid for by his campaign. He has started to pay back the money he improperly received.
MSN – Jelani Gibson (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 10/30/2023
New Jersey promised a fair and ethical cannabis industry in which mom-and-pop shops would thrive. The law crafted by state legislators allowed towns, with little oversight, to authorize who can sell the product legally. Cannabis entrepreneurs seeking a piece of the billion-dollar industry are saying they are being exposed to extortion and intimidation. Municipalities can set their own fees, licensing schemes, and preferences independent of state supervision in a way that exceeds virtually every other regulated industry including liquor licenses.
MSN – Ashley Balcerzak (Bergen Record) | Published: 11/1/2023
Jeff Brindle, longtime executive director of the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC), officially retired, roughly a year after the Murphy administration sought to oust him from the position. Brindle filed two lawsuits this year against Gov. Phil Murphy, one alleging a conspiracy “to extort and force” his resignation and a second challenging the constitutionality of a controversial bill that overhauled ELEC. Deputy Director Joe Donohue will serve as acting executive director while the commission conducts a search for a replacement for Brindle.
Yahoo News – Benjamin Weiser, Nicholas Fandos, and Tracy Tully (New York Times) | Published: 10/30/2023
U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez went to great lengths to try to secure a friendly prosecutor in New Jersey’s top federal law enforcement position. Far from being routine politics, Menendez’s attempts to fill the position were part of a brazen scheme to sell his office for cash, gold bars, and a Mercedes-Benz convertible, a federal indictment says.
Albany Times Union – Joshua Solomon | Published: 10/27/2023
A dispute over whether the actions by the Public Policy Institute of New York State, the nonprofit arm of the state’s Business Council, are considered lobbying raises questions on what the nonprofit must report, including whether it has to disclose its donors for a campaign concerning noncompete agreements that is valued at more than five times the charity’s typical spending in a year. The nonprofit’s spokesperson, James Freedland, said the institute is not seeking to influence elected officials, a statement that government watchdogs dispute.
Spectrum News – Kate Lisa | Published: 11/1/2023
State ethics commissioners worked on fine-tuning their legislative agenda for 2024, setting sights on how New York lawmakers can change policy to best regulate lobbying and ethical behavior of elected officials when they return to Albany in January. Members of the Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government held a public roundtable and discussed plans to press the Legislature to better regulate ethics training required for lobbyists, including a daily late fee for lobbyists and clients who fail to complete it in the required timeframe.
MSN – Nolan Clay (Oklahoman) | Published: 11/1/2023
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters finally disclosed a $5,000 donation to his 2022 campaign from a PAC one year after the report was due. The 1776 Project made the donation on October 31, 2022. It says on its website it is “committed to abolishing critical race theory … from the public school curriculum.” Walters was supposed to report the contribution within 24 hours because it was received just days before the general election.
MSN – Justin Jouvenal (Washington Post) | Published: 11/2/2023
Lynchburg Registrar Christine Gibbons was removed from her position, accused of corruption, taken to court, and reported to police for supposedly siphoning votes to Joe Biden in the 2020 election. A Republican who called for Gibbons’ firing and attended the “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington on January 6, 2021, was appointed as one of her bosses on the local election board. Gibbons filed a lawsuit, which contends the election board violated her First Amendment right to free political association by removing her for purely partisan reasons. It is among the first in the country to make that argument.
MSN – Justin Jouvenal (Washington Post) | Published: 10/31/2023
Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares announced his office will investigate the fundraising of one of the nation’s most prominent nonprofit organizations dedicated to educating the public, lobbying Congress, and organizing rallies for pro-Palestinian causes. Miyares said his office has “reason to believe” the Northern Virginia-based American Muslims for Palestine may not be complying with state rules on charitable giving and will investigate allegations lodged in a federal civil suit that the group provides indirect support to Hamas. AMP denied the allegations and called them not only “defamatory, but dangerous.”
MSN – Laura Vozzella (Washington Post) | Published: 10/29/2023
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s elections team has admitted in the run-up to pivotal General Assembly elections that it removed nearly 3,400 qualified voters from the state’s rolls, far higher than the administration’s previous estimate of 270. Elections officials acknowledged what it called the mistaken removal five weeks after early voting began for the November 7 elections. The outcome will determine the fate of Youngkin’s conservative legislative agenda.
Washington State Standard – Jerry Cornfield | Published: 10/27/2023
State Rep. Chris Corry appeared to satisfy concerns of an ethics panel so he can continue working for the Washington Policy Center without violating any conflict-of-interest laws. He became director of the conservative think tank’s Center for Government Reform in May. Corry could have faced an investigation and punishment by the Legislative Ethics Board if he kept both posts.
ABC News – Scott Bauer (Associated Press) | Published: 10/31/2023
Democratic Gov. Tony Evers sued the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature, arguing it is obstructing basic government functions, including signing off on pay raises for university employees that were previously approved. Evers is asking the state Supreme Court to take the case directly, bypassing lower courts. Evers argues committees controlled by a few Republican lawmakers are being used by the Legislature to “reach far beyond its proper zone of constitutional lawmaking authority.”
Gillette News Record – Hannah Shields (Wyoming Tribune Eagle) | Published: 10/27/2023
The Joint Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee advanced bill drafts that could create significant changes to existing Wyoming election laws. One bill would add a 30-day residency requirement prior to Election Day. Another would expand the definition of an organization to include “any group of two … or more persons that … pools or otherwise jointly expends funds totaling in aggregate more than ($1,000).” The proposed legislation would allow groups to report campaign expenditure or electioneering communication without registering as a PAC.
November 2, 2023 •
Campaign Finance National: “Prosecutors Withdraw Second Subpoena in Trump Fund-Raising Inquiry” by Alan Feuer and Maggie Haberman (New York Times) for DNyuz New Jersey: “Head of NJ Elections Watchdog Retires After Surviving Murphy’s Ouster Attempt” by Ashley Balcerzak (Bergen Record) for MSN Elections Florida: “No […]
National: “Prosecutors Withdraw Second Subpoena in Trump Fund-Raising Inquiry” by Alan Feuer and Maggie Haberman (New York Times) for DNyuz
New Jersey: “Head of NJ Elections Watchdog Retires After Surviving Murphy’s Ouster Attempt” by Ashley Balcerzak (Bergen Record) for MSN
Florida: “No Ethics Charges for Ivey Over Election Scandal After Candidates Decline to Give Testimony” by Eric Rogers (Florida Today) for Yahoo News
National: “High Court Struggles on Whether Officials May Block Social Media Critics” by Ann Marimow (Washington Post) for MSN
New Jersey: “How Menendez Tried and Failed to Place an Ally in a Key Federal Post” by Benjamin Weiser, Nicholas Fandos, and Tracy Tully (New York Times) for Yahoo News
Virginia: “Va. AG Will Probe Fundraising of Pro-Palestinian Group” by Justin Jouvenal (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Rep. George Santos Survives Effort to Expel Him from the House. But He Still Faces an Ethics Report” by Kevin Freking and Stephen Groves (Associated Press) for ABC News
Washington: “WA Lawmaker Plans Hiatus from Think Tank Job to Comply with Ethics Rules” by Jerry Cornfield for Washington State Standard
November 1, 2023 •
Campaign Finance Arizona: “Complaint Alleges GOP Lawmaker Illegally Used Campaign Cash to Attend J6” by Jerod MacDonald-Evoy for Arizona Mirror Mississippi: “Gov. Tate Reeves’ Top Political Donors Received $1.4 Billion in State Contracts from His Agencies” by Julia James, Geoff Pender, Bobby Harrison, Taylor […]
Arizona: “Complaint Alleges GOP Lawmaker Illegally Used Campaign Cash to Attend J6” by Jerod MacDonald-Evoy for Arizona Mirror
Mississippi: “Gov. Tate Reeves’ Top Political Donors Received $1.4 Billion in State Contracts from His Agencies” by Julia James, Geoff Pender, Bobby Harrison, Taylor Vance, and Adam Ganucheau for Mississippi Today
Alabama: “Alabama Legislators Study Past Ethics Proposals Ahead of Planned Revision Bill” by Ralph Chapoco for Alabama Reflector
California: “Facing Strong Opposition, Bill Gore Withdraws from Consideration for San Diego Ethics Board” by Jeff McDonald (San Diego Union Tribune) for MSN
National: “Democrats Plan to Subpoena Wealthy Benefactors of Supreme Court Justices” by Ann Marimow (Washington Post) for MSN
Illinois: “How the Massive Power Ed Burke Wielded Paved the Way for His Alleged Corruption” by Fran Spielman (Chicago Sun-Times) and Mariah Woelfel for WBEZ
National: “News on TikTok and Instagram Is Booming, Signaling a New Era” by Taylor Lorenz (Washington Post) for MSN
Wisconsin: “Wisconsin’s Democratic Governor Sues Republican Legislature Over Blocking Basic Functions” by Scott Bauer (Associated Press) for ABC News
October 30, 2023 •
Lawmakers adjourned the veto session on after sustaining Gov. Sununu’s veto of House Bill 142. The vote did not have the two-thirds majority required to override the veto of the bill providing support for Berlin’s Burgess BioPower plant.
Lawmakers adjourned the veto session on after sustaining Gov. Sununu’s veto of House Bill 142.
The vote did not have the two-thirds majority required to override the veto of the bill providing support for Berlin’s Burgess BioPower plant.
October 27, 2023 •
National/Federal Meadows Granted Immunity, Tells Smith He Warned Trump About 2020 Claims: Sources ABC News – Katherine Faulders, Mike Levine, and Alexander Mallin | Published: 10/24/2023 Former President Trump’s final chief of staff in the White House, Mark Meadows, has spoken with […]
ABC News – Katherine Faulders, Mike Levine, and Alexander Mallin | Published: 10/24/2023
Former President Trump’s final chief of staff in the White House, Mark Meadows, has spoken with special counsel Jack Smith’s team at least three times this year, including once before a federal grand jury, which came only after Smith granted Meadows immunity to testify under oath, according to sources familiar with the matter. The sources said Meadows informed Smith’s team that he repeatedly told Trump in the weeks after the 2020 presidential election that the allegations of significant voting fraud coming to them were baseless.
MSN – Hailey Fuchs and Caitlin Oprysko (Politico) | Published: 10/22/2023
An ad hoc group of donors, activists, and allies have moved swiftly to help Israel. They have leveraged their political clout, their relationships with lawmakers, and their fundraising networks to do so. Their goal is to shape how elected officials in the U.S. react to the crisis. But their work also underscores how much of the political fight around the nascent war is being done on the fly; and how much is being waged in unconventional theaters: college campuses, corporate boardrooms, K Street offices. and Capitol Hill restaurants.
MSN – Marianna Sotomayor, Amy Wang, Leigh Ann Caldwell, Theodoric Meyer, and Jacqueline Alemany (Washington Post) | Published: 10/25/2023
Rep. Mike Johnson, a lesser-known conservative who has been a devoted follower of former President Trump was elected as speaker of the House, reopening the chamber for legislative business after a 21-day paralysis because the fractious Republican conference could not coalesce around a single nominee. Johnson now faces the herculean task of uniting a deeply ideologically fractured conference that is tasked with averting a government shutdown in less than a month, sending supplemental aid to Israel and other foreign countries, and passing reauthorization bills before the end of the year.
MSN – Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 10/25/2023
Special counsel Jack Smith argued that recent comments by Donald Trump show not only that a federal gag order should be reimposed, but the court should weigh stricter sanctions, including sending him to jail, if he keeps talking about witnesses in his case. The filing was one of four made by the special counsel’s office on a range of legal issues in preparation for Trump’s planned trial on charges he conspired to obstruct Joe Biden’s electoral victory. Trump’s public statements attacking prosecutors, court personnel, and others have raised alarms among judges who worry such broadsides might inspire someone to commit violence.
MSN – Robert Barnes and Ann Marimow (Washington Post) | Published: 10/25/2023
Senate Finance Committee Chairperson Ron Wyden called on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to tell the panel whether he declared more than $250,000 of loan forgiveness on his tax filings. Wyden released a report that details a loan Thomas received from a friend, Anthony Welters, to buy a luxury Prevost Marathon motor coach in 1999. The report said Thomas made some interest payments on the $267,230 loan, but it was declared settled by Welters in 2008 without Thomas repaying a substantial portion, or perhaps any, of the principal.
MSN – Peter Hermann and Clarence Williams (Washington Post) | Published: 10/25/2023
Rep. Jamaal Bowman was criminally charged with pulling a false fire alarm that forced the evacuation of the Cannon House Office Building as lawmakers scrambled to avert a government shutdown. Bowman was charged in a judicial summons, meaning he was not arrested. In an affidavit filed in court, authorities allege Bowman tried to open an emergency door and, when that failed, pulled a fire alarm and walked away and did not report his actions to police.
MSN – Drew Harwell (Washington Post) | Published: 10/19/2023
The social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, removed the gold “verified” badge from the New York Times’ account amid ongoing complaints about the news organization from X owner Elon Musk. The badge was the only symbol distinguishing the Times’ 55-million-follower account from impostors amid two major global conflicts in Israel and Ukraine. The move further extends Musk’s attempts to use the social media company he bought with claims of defending free speech to undercut news organizations he dislikes.
MSN – Kathleen Culliton (Raw Story) | Published: 10/23/2023
A loophole that allows political parties to bypass campaign finance limits now faces a new legal challenge from watchdog groups in Washington D.C. The Campaign Legal Center and OpenSecrets filed a lawsuit against the FEC, which they hope will create new disclosure rules for national political party committee accounts. The loophole links back to the 2014 “Cromnibus” and an amendment to the Federal Election Campaign Act that allows parties to draw funds from “special purpose accounts,” according to the complaint.
MSN – Spencer Hsu and Perry Stein (Washington Post) | Published: 10/24/2023
Donald Trump launched a multipronged legal attack on his federal prosecution for allegedly subverting the results of the 2020 election, saying his actions were protected by the First Amendment as political speech and arguing he cannot be tried in criminal court for trying to block Joe Biden’s victory after being impeached by the House but acquitted by the Senate. While aspects of Trump’s case raise historic legal questions, the motions are fairly typical for criminal defendants trying to challenge the legal sufficiency of the charges against them.
MSN – Caitlin Reilly (Roll Call) | Published: 10/23/2023
Total spending on lobbying by the biggest interest groups fell in the first three quarters of 2023 compared to last year amid partisan gridlock in a divided Congress. The dip came as the steady clip of major laws that moved through the last Congress slowed to a trickle this session with Democrats controlling the Senate and Republicans the House, where GOP leadership has struggled to maintain control of its conference.
NBC News – Alec Hernández and Bridget Bowman | Published: 10/20/2023
With three months to go until the first contest of the Republican nominating race, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis continues to lean heavily on Never Back Down for support across the early states, and his most recent campaign finance report demonstrates how the super PAC has helped cover costs that otherwise might have drained DeSantis’s own campaign treasury. Beyond playing an extensive role in the governor’s campaign schedule and travel, the super PAC is also responsible for a large door-knocking operation in Iowa and running a slew of voter coalitions supporting DeSantis.
Yahoo News – Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein (Politico) | Published: 10/20/2023
Federal prosecutors avoided an appeals court ruling that could have upended their criminal prosecution of Donald Trump, but the legal battle will continue over a federal obstruction statute that has become a cornerstone of cases stemming from the storming of the Capitol. A panel of the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals ruled there are numerous ways for the government to prove January 6 defendants acted “corruptly” when seeking to obstruct Congress’ proceedings. A ruling that narrowly construed the meaning of “corruptly” could have derailed the prosecution of Trump on an obstruction charge.
Yahoo News – Kyle Cheney and Rebecca Kern (Politico) | Published: 10/20/2023
The Supreme Court will determine whether the Biden administration violated the Constitution when it pressured technology companies to remove from their platforms what federal officials said was false or misleading content about the 2020 election and Covid-19. In taking the case, the justices also blocked the lower court’s injunction that would have barred many types of contact between federal officials and the social media giants. The action means administration officials can keep contacting social media companies for now while the justices weigh the case.
From the States and Municipalities
Capital Public Radio – Kristin Lam | Published: 10/25/2023
The Sacramento Ethics Commission dismissed a complaint against mayoral candidate Flojuane Cofer and found she did not violate a campaign fundraising rule. Voting unanimously, the commission disagreed with part of an independent evaluator’s recommendation on how to deal with the complaint. The investigator found the city’s campaign contribution rules surrounding off-year elections are confusing.
California – Is Anaheim’s Fall of Reform Going to Freeze Over?
Voice of OC – Hosam Elattar | Published: 10/25/2023
Anaheim’s elected officials continue a rollout of reform proposals, but it is unclear how many overhauls will be made to a City Hall hit with one of the biggest corruption scandals in Orange County history. It comes as some Disney-backed city council members question if reforms are needed, like bolstering whistleblower protections, consequences for misconduct by elected officials, decreasing the city manager’s purchasing power, and overhauling lobbyist rules. The discussions come months after independent investigators alleged the city was essentially controlled by lobbyists and Disneyland resort interests.
Pueblo Chieftan – Anna Lynn Winfrey | Published: 10/23/2023
A new law in Colorado imposes new requirements for how long campaign finance records are kept and sets contribution limits for municipal races. But as a home rule city, Pueblo has the jurisdiction to craft its own regulation on campaign finance. Because of the expected timing of a mayoral runoff race in January, after the bill goes into effect, the city council is expected to vote soon on an ordinance that would effectively freeze the current rules in place. Councilors could adopt more stringent requirements later, if desired.
MSN – David Bauerlein (Florida Times-Union) | Published: 10/24/2023
A company whose owner hosted a campaign event for Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan in January won a no-bid contract worth $300,000 for federal grant-writing, lobbying, and policy development after the city determined no other firm in the nation could provide all those services. The city typically requires competitive bidding, but the Professional Services Evaluation Committee recommended Deegan approve the one-year contract to Langton Consulting without seeking proposals from any other firms.
Yahoo News – Divya Kumar (Tampa Bay Times) | Published: 10/23/2023
A proposed regulation aimed at restricting diversity programs and social activism at Florida’s public universities has stirred confusion, with some saying its broadly worded passages could limit free speech. The regulation, when approved, will determine how the state enforces the law pushed by Gov. Ron DeSantis that seeks to gut diversity, equity, and inclusion programs at colleges and universities.
Yahoo News – Dave Berman (Florida Today) | Published: 10/24/2023
Brevard County Commissioner Jason Steele was given the green light to resume his lobbying work. including for municipalities within the county, while he continues to serve as commissioner. The Florida Commission on Ethics approved an advisory opinion from its legal staff that said there currently is nothing illegal about Steele lobbying on behalf of clients, as long as he does not lobby before the county commission and does not use nonpublic information he obtained as a commissioner for his lobbying work.
MSN – Holly Bailey and Amy Gardner (Washington Post) | Published: 10/20/2023
Kenneth Chesebro, a former lawyer for Donald Trump’s campaign, pleaded guilty to illegally conspiring to overturn Trump’s 2020 election loss in Georgia, striking a deal in which he will avoid jail time and agreed to provide evidence that could implicate other defendants, including Trump himself. Chesebro pleaded guilty to a single felony count of conspiracy to file false documents. The charge relates to his role organizing slates of pro-Trump electors to meet in seven states where Joe Biden had won.
Yahoo News – Will Weissert and Kate Brumback (Associated Press) | Published: 10/24/2023
Attorney and conservative media figure Jenna Ellis pleaded guilty to a felony charge over efforts to overturn Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss in Georgia. Ellis, the fourth defendant in the case to enter into a plea deal, was a vocal part of Trump’s reelection campaign in the last presidential cycle and was charged alongside the Republican former president and 17 others. Ellis pleaded guilty to one felony count of aiding and abetting false statements and writings. She had been facing charges of violating Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and soliciting the violation of oath by a public officer, both felonies.
Honolulu Civil Beat – Stewart Yerton | Published: 10/26/2023
Hawaii’s state budget and finance director is facing an ethical dilemma as Gov. Josh Green’s administration works to establish a fund for victims of the Maui wildfires. Luis Salaveria, who is playing a role in planning the fund that would benefit Hawaiian Electric Industries, also owns Hawaiian Electric stock. That should disqualify Salaveria from taking any official action that could affect the company, according to the state ethics code. But what, if anything, Salaveria plans to do to address the situation is unclear.
Yahoo News – Blaze Lovell (New York Times) | Published: 10/25/2023
As Maui County recovers from the devastating wildfires that killed at least 99 people, millions of dollars will be spent on rebuilding critical infrastructure using a flawed contract-monitoring system that is marred by bribery and a lack of competition. A recent bribery case prompted some county officials to begin phasing out the use of sole-source contracts, but the practice is still in use in the county. That very little has changed since the bribery scandal was revealed could leave the door open for some contractors to take advantage of the disaster or for government money to be wasted.
Illinois Public Radio – Robert Herguth (Chicago Sun-Times) | Published: 10/20/2023
In May, the General Assembly passed a bill to ban campaign contributions from the red-light camera industry that has been embroiled in a bribery scandal still unfolding in federal court. Among those backing the bill was Illinois Senate President Don Harmon. Less than six weeks later, his campaign accounts accepted two contributions totaling $5,000 from Redspeed Illinois, a contractor operating red-light cameras in a number of Chicago-area municipalities. Bernadette Matthews, executive director of the state elections board, said the new law does not include penalties for violators.
MSN – Eleanor McCrary (Louisville Courier Journal) | Published: 10/19/2023
Louisville Metro’s Ethics Commission found Councilperson Anthony Piagentini in violation of six ethics rules after he was accused of using his city position to land a $40 million grant for the Louisville Healthcare CEO Council, which then hired him. The commission also unanimously voted to recommend to the Metro Council that he be removed from his seat, but that decision ultimately lies with his 25 peers. Piagentini also received a penalty of $500 per violation.
MSN – Robert Barnes (Washington Post) | Published: 10/19/2023
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed with a delay on proceedings that could lead to creating a second congressional district in Louisiana where Black voters make up a large-enough share of the electorate to have a significant chance of electing their preferred candidate. The justices rejected requests by Black voters challenging a map passed by the state’s Republican-led Legislature to allow a lower court judge to proceed in coming up with a new map. The order indicates that once litigation over the issue is completed, the Legislature might get a chance to draw a revised map.
Yahoo News – Hiroko Tabuchi (New York Times) | Published: 10/24/2023
When Maine lawmakers tried to rein in large-scale access to the state’s freshwater this year, the effort initially gained momentum. Then a Wall Street-backed giant called BlueTriton stepped in. Americans today buy more bottled water than any other packaged drink, and BlueTriton owns many of the nation’s biggest brands. Maine’s bill threatened the company’s access to the groundwater it bottles and sells. The legislation had already gotten a majority vote on the committee and was headed toward the full Legislature, when a lobbyist for BlueTriton proposed an amendment that would eviscerate the entire bill.
Yahoo News – Kinga Borondy (Worcester Telegram & Gazette) | Published: 10/24/2023
The Massachusetts attorney general’s office reached a settlement with stated Sen. Ryan Fattman; his wife, Worcester Registrar of Probate Stephanie Fattman; and members of their campaign committees in the three-year probe into campaign finance irregularities. The settlements to be paid total hundreds of thousands of dollars, the largest amounts ever paid by candidate committees to the state to resolve cases.
MLive – Simon Schuster | Published: 10/25/2023
A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced a package of legislation that details what state elected officials must include in Michigan’s first-ever financial disclosures. The legislation, while bringing specificity to some areas 2022’s Proposal 1 left vague, also leaves gaps in reporting, exempting public officials from having to disclose some of the very financial benefits that roiled state government in recent scandals. Nicholas Pigeon, executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, called the bills “a mixed bag … that is pretty weak compared to the rest of the country.”
MSN – Christina Hall (Detroit Free Press) | Published: 10/25/2023
The Warren city attorney filed state campaign finance complaints against three city council members for comments they made during a council meeting using city equipment, which was broadcast live and is on video on the city’s website. The complaints come days after the secretary of state’s office determined Mayor Jim Fouts may have violated the law by endorsing candidates during his State of the City address.
Missouri Independent – Jason Hancock | Published: 10/23/2023
Missouri House Speaker Dean Plocher filed an expense report to be reimbursed for a $1,199.60 plane ticket to the 2023 Uniform Law Commission conference. The House ultimately agreed to pay him the money. But the cost of the ticket did not come out of Plocher’s bank account. It came out of his campaign. Seven months earlier, “Plusher for Missouri” reported paying $1,199.60 for airfare to Hawaii for the conference. A review of Plocher’s expense reports over the years shows the Hawaii expense was not an isolated event.
Yahoo News – Francesca Chambers (USA Today) | Published: 10/24/2023
President Joe Biden’s name will not be on the New Hampshire primary ballot. Biden has been tussling with the state for nearly a year over its historically early primary date and will not make the trip to Concord to file. In a break with centuries-old tradition, the incumbent president will not appear on the state’s Democratic primary ballot at all, with the national party pledging to discipline candidates who compete in unsanctioned primaries like the one New Hampshire plans to hold.
MSN – Brent Johnson (New Jersey Advance Media) | Published: 10/23/2023
Allegations about a “dark money” group pushing “phantom candidates” have invaded a pair of tense races for the New Jersey Legislature. Republican candidates in the second and fourth districts, two of the most competitive in this year’s elections, have asked top law enforcement officials to investigate a new nonprofit group with a Queens address that sent out campaign mailers to voters urging them to support independent or third-party “conservative” candidates.
Albany Times Union – Lana Bellamy | Published: 10/26/2023
New York Sen. James Skoufis alleges the Orange County government entered into illegal contracts with an information technology company in order to enrich the family of a top-ranking county official, and county administrators have attempted to cover up a larger corruption scheme. Skoufis laid out the case that contracts between the county and StarCIO totaling $823,000 were illegally procured and inflated to enrich Isaac Sacolick, the company’s proprietor and the brother-in-law of county Human Resources Commissioner Langdon Chapman.
MSN – Shayna Jacobs and Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 10/25/2023
A New York judge fined Donald Trump $10,000 for violating a gag order in a business-fraud lawsuit and warned the former president the penalties will only get worse if he keeps breaking the rules set for the civil trial, in which he is accused of falsely inflating his property values. The five-figure fine came after New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron unexpectedly called Trump to the witness stand to explain, under oath, a comment he made outside the courtroom earlier in the day.
The City – George Joseph | Published: 10/24/2023
Shahid and Yahya Mushtaq, two brothers who run a construction company in Queens, each pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor conspiracy charge stemming from a straw donor scheme that aimed to generate illicit public matching funds for Eric Adams’ successful 2021 mayoral campaign. The brothers’ plea deals require them both to pay a $500 fine and complete 35 hours of community service.
The Gothamist – Jon Campbell | Published: 10/25/2023
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office will not say who pledged to pay for the governor’s recent visit to Israel, an arrangement the state’s ethics board has not yet approved, despite her trip to the Middle East last week. Hochul spent two days in Israel amid its war with Hamas, touring the country and meeting with dignitaries, along with victims and their families. Gubernatorial spokesperson Avi Small said the Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government is still “in the final stages of reviewing this arrangement to ensure it fully complies with state ethics law.”
MSN – Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff (Washington Post) | Published: 10/25/2023
The North Carolina General Assembly gave final approval to new congressional and state legislative district maps that would empower the state Republican Party for years to come. North Carolina’s 14 congressional seats are now evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. The new map would probably flip at least three of those seats to the GOP. Proponents say they are allowed to draw maps that favor political parties because of recent court precedent, and Republicans have the power to do so because they won more seats in both chambers of the Legislature.
MSN – Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 10/24/2023
Thousands of inactive Ohio voters were purged from the state’s voter rolls in September at the direction of Secretary of State Frank LaRose after some voters had already begun casting ballots in the November election. LaRose maintains he issued the directive because he’s required by federal and state election law to set rules and timelines for maintaining accurate voter registration lists. But a state lawmaker asked why he did not delay it until after the general election, as he did earlier ahead of the August special election on a proposed constitutional amendment to make it harder to pass future amendments.
WCPO – Taylor Weiter and Dan Monk | Published: 10/19/2023
Commercials promoting the sale of the Cincinnati Southern Railway no longer feature Mayor Aftab Pureval after a media investigation found connections between campaigns for the sale and Pureval’s re-election. Building Cincinnati’s Future and Friends of Aftab Pureval, the mayor’s re-election campaign, share the same treasurer, Jens Sutmoller.
MSN – Clifton Adcock (The Frontier) | Published: 10/24/2023
Common Sense Conservatives spent money on a direct mail advertisement this fall against Baptist minister Dusty Deevers in a Republican primary for a seat in the Oklahoma Senate. Records show Common Sense Conservatives is one small piece of a larger, nationwide “dark money” network that conducts most of its operations out of Ohio, has been involved in numerous federal and state-level campaigns in other states including Oklahoma, and has ties to at least one bogus charity.
October 26, 2023 •
Elections National: “Meadows Granted Immunity, Tells Smith He Warned Trump About 2020 Claims: Sources” by Katherine Faulders, Mike Levine, and Alexander Mallin for ABC News New Hampshire: “Breaking with Longstanding Tradition, Biden Won’t Appear on New Hampshire’s Primary Ballot” by Francesca Chambers (USA Today) […]
National: “Meadows Granted Immunity, Tells Smith He Warned Trump About 2020 Claims: Sources” by Katherine Faulders, Mike Levine, and Alexander Mallin for ABC News
New Hampshire: “Breaking with Longstanding Tradition, Biden Won’t Appear on New Hampshire’s Primary Ballot” by Francesca Chambers (USA Today) for Yahoo News
Ohio: “Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose Quietly Ordered Purge of Thousands of Inactive Voters Last Month” by Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) for MSN
California: “Is Anaheim’s Fall of Reform Going to Freeze Over?” by Hosam Elattar for Voice of OC
Michigan: “Financial Disclosures Proposed for Michigan Politicians Are ‘Pretty Weak,’ Advocates Say” by Simon Schuster for MLive
National: “New House Speaker Mike Johnson Faces Herculean Task of Uniting Republicans” by Marianna Sotomayor, Amy Wang, Leigh Ann Caldwell, Theodoric Meyer, and Jacqueline Alemany (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “An Unsanctioned Coterie of Pro-Israel Quasi-Lobbyists Has Descended on D.C.” by Hailey Fuchs and Caitlin Oprysko (Politico) for MSN
Florida: “Florida Ethics Panel Says County Commissioner Steele Can Resume Lobbying for Municipalities” by Dave Berman (Florida Today) for Yahoo News
Florida: “Mayor Donna Deegan Approves No-Bid Contract for a Firm That Backed Her Campaign” by David Bauerlein (Florida Times-Union) for MSN
Hawaii: “Hawaii Bribery Scandal Casts a Shadow Over Lahaina’s Ruins” by Blaze Lovell (New York Times) for Yahoo News
October 20, 2023 •
National/Federal Gag Order on Trump in Election Case Leaves More Hard Questions DNyuz – Charlie Savage and Alan Feuer (New York Times) | Published: 10/17/2023 U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan’s gag order against Donald Trump is the first major consequence of […]
DNyuz – Charlie Savage and Alan Feuer (New York Times) | Published: 10/17/2023
U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan’s gag order against Donald Trump is the first major consequence of his life as a criminal defendant. But in some ways, the order raises more questions than it answers, including how the judge intends to enforce her restrictions. Chutkan ruled Trump’s pretrial attacks on potential witnesses and others threatened the integrity of the upcoming trial on charges stemming from his effort to subvert the 2020 election. She barred Trump from continuing to publicly berate special counsel Jack Smith and his team, court staff, or any “reasonably foreseeable witness.”
DNyuz – Maggie Haberman and Luke Broadwater (New York Times) | Published: 10/8/2023
Kenneth Chesebro and other lawyers fighting to reverse then-President Trump’s election defeat were debating whether to file litigation contesting Joe Bidens victory in Wisconsin. Chesebro argued there was little doubt the litigation would fail in court as Trump continued to push his baseless claims of widespread fraud. But the “relevant analysis is political,” Chesebro argued. Trump has signaled one of his possible defenses is that he was simply acting on the advice of his lawyers. But Chesebro’s emails could undercut any effort to show the lawyers were focused solely on legal strategies.
MSN – Cat Zakrzewski (Washington Post) | Published: 10/7/2023
Amid concerns that the rise of artificial intelligence will supercharge the spread of misinformation comes a wild fabrication from a more commonplace source: Amazon’s Alexa, which declared the 2020 presidential election was stolen. Asked about fraud in the race, the popular voice assistant said it was “stolen by a massive amount of election fraud,” citing Rumble, a video-streaming service favored by conservatives. Alexa disseminates misinformation about the race even as Amazon promotes the tool as a reliable election news source to more than 70 million estimated users.
MSN – Meryl Kornfield and Marianne LeVine (Washington Post) | Published: 10/19/2023
Four months after launching his presidential campaign with an embrace of traditional conservatism and a rejection of his former running mate Donald Trump, Mike Pence now stands at a difficult crossroads. Plagued by financial problems, low polling numbers, and a message that has not resonated with the party base, he has been forced to confront tough realities this fall about the future of his campaign.
MSN – Shayna Jacobs and Isaac Stanley-Becker (Washington Post) | Published: 10/12/2023
Sen. Robert Menendez was charged in a superseding federal indictment with conspiracy by a public official to act as a foreign agent, intensifying the legal peril the veteran lawmaker faces as he continues to resist calls to resign. Menendez; his wife, Nadine Menendez; and an associate, Wael Hana, were charged with conspiring to have Sen. Menendez act as an illegal foreign agent on behalf of the Egyptian government while he was serving as a U.S. senator with access to sensitive intelligence as the former head of the Foreign Relations Committee.
MSN – Azi Paybarah (Washington Post) | Published: 10/16/2023
The campaign of scandal-plagued U.S. Rep. George Santos reported refunding more money to donors than it raised during the past three months, raising questions about how seriously he is pursuing reelection. The paltry fundraising figures are not typical for incumbents running in swing districts at this point in the election cycle, particularly when multiple challengers have already announced campaigns.
MSN – Salvador Rizzo (Washington Post) | Published: 10/12/2023
A financial consultant who performed contract work for the IRS pleaded guilty to leaking confidential tax returns filed by the wealthiest Americans, including those of then-President Trump. Charles Littlejohn admitted he obtained thousands of individuals’ tax returns by accessing an IRS database, and then leaked the materials to the New York Times and ProPublica beginning in 2019. The news organizations showed how Trump and others employed strategies to slash their federal tax bills, in some cases down to zero.
MSN – Josh Dawsey, Perry Stein, and Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 10/17/2023
Special counsel Jack Smith withdrew a subpoena seeking records about fundraising by the PAC Save America, a group that is controlled by former President Trump and whose activities related to efforts to block the results of the 2020 presidential election have come under investigation. The move indicates Smith is scaling back at least part of his inquiry into the political fundraising work that fed and benefited from unfounded claims the election was stolen.
MSN – Sarah Ellison and Will Sommer (Washington Post) | Published: 10/17/2023
Fox News host Sean Hannity’s extensive effort to personally whip up votes for U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan in his bid to be House speaker highlights the central role right-wing media has played in the drama over who will wield the speaker’s gavel. At each turn, conservative media figures such as Hannity and Stephen Bannon injected high-profile disruption into a process that normally plays out behind the scenes. A handful of backbench lawmakers have seized the opportunity to flex their power in a nearly evenly split chamber, creating drama but offering little direction.
Yahoo News – Julia Shapero (The Hill) | Published: 10/18/2023
As a growing number of businesses lean into their conservative values or credentials to appeal to consumers, some have suggested that a “parallel economy” is emerging. These political appeals have become increasingly important to American consumers amid growing political polarization, said Nailya Ordabayeva of Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business. As consumers’ politics have influenced their purchasing decisions, companies have sought to tap into these political identities, and these efforts are not unique to the right, Ordabayeva said.
From the States and Municipalities
CBC – Elizabeth Thompson | Published: 10/16/2023
A pricey trip for a group of Conservative Members of Parliament sponsored by a special interest group and a Hungarian think-tank could soon come under the microscope by the House of Commons ethics committee. The trip to London took place last June and was sponsored by Canadians for Affordable Energy and the Danube Institute. Billed as an opportunity to discuss energy policy, the trip included thousands of dollars in flights, hotels, and ground transportation as well as a dinner at the Guinea Grill with $600 bottles of champagne that totaled an estimated $6,262.
Frontiersman – James Brooks (Alaska Beacon) | Published: 10/17/2023
The state of Alaska will provide legal representation for its governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general in ethics complaints filed against those top officials. Current policy allows the state to reimburse top officials for privately hired legal defense under certain circumstances, including in cases where the officials are exonerated. Assistant Attorney General Cori Mills said that is more expensive than using in-house counsel.
MSN – Andrew DeMillo (Associated Press) | Published: 10/12/2023
Arkansas lawmakers voted to audit the purchase of a $19,000 lectern for Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, delving into an unusual controversy that has prompted questions about the seemingly high cost of the item and claims the governor’s office violated the state’s open-records law. The executive committee of the Legislative Joint Auditing Committee also voted to audit the governor’s travel and security expenditures that were retroactively shielded from public release under a new Freedom of Information Act exemption Sanders signed in September.
MSN – Michael Slaton (Orange County Register) | Published: 10/12/2023
The Orange City Council is exploring whether to start requiring lobbyists to register and report their actions to the city. The effort is largely to prevent impropriety and promote transparency, officials said, but was also inspired by the recent Anaheim corruption saga. The city council is creating an ad hoc committee to explore the proposed law and update campaign finance laws.
MSN – David Lieb (Associated Press) | Published: 10/9/2023
California Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed legislation that would have required dozens of his state’s largest cities, counties, and educational districts to use independent commissions to draw voting districts. California’s local redistricting methods came under scrutiny last year following a leaked recording of a private discussion among several Los Angeles City Council members. The officials, all Latino Democrats, used crude and racist comments while plotting to bolster their political power at the expense of Black voters.
San Francisco Standard – Michael Barba | Published: 10/17/2023
Manh Chau was renovating his dream house in San Francisco when his contractor, Kelvin Zeng, asked him to cut a check for $5,000. Zeng told him to write the name “Bernie Curran” on the check, according to Chau. What Chau did not know at the time was Bernie Curran was not a subcontractor as he had assumed. Curran was a senior building inspector who, just a day after Chau dated the check, inspected his house, court. Now, Curran is about to begin a stint in federal prison after pleading guilty in two separate criminal cases over his financial ties to various property owners in the city.
Voice of OC – Hosam Elattar | Published: 10/18/2023
An ethics officer could soon start having some sort of oversight role in Anaheim in the aftermath of one of the biggest public corruption scandals to hit Orange County. City council members unanimously voted to create an ethics officer position and have staff come back with options to explore what exactly that person’s responsibilities will be. Creating an ethics officer position to oversee the city’s lobbyist registration and campaign finance was one of several recommendations that investigators made to the city in a report on the scandal.
Yahoo News – Sarah Blaskey and Joey Flechas (Miami Herald) | Published: 10/13/2023
A company tied to the Miami Dolphins and team owner Stephen Ross, a billionaire with business before the city, gave Mayor Francis Suarez a $3,500 Formula 1 ticket, a newly filed gift disclosure revealed. It is the latest in a drip-drip of information revealing the sources behind Suarez’s $30,000 Grand Prix weekend in May, which is at the center of an ongoing state ethics investigation into whether the mayor violated Florida gifts laws.
Associated Press News – Kate Brumback | Published: 10/19/2023
Lawyer Sidney Powell pleaded guilty to reduced charges over efforts to overturn Donald Trump’s loss in the 2020 election in Georgia, becoming the second defendant in the case to reach a deal with prosecutors. Powell, who was charged with violating the state’s anti-racketeering law, entered the plea just a day before jury selection was set to start in her trial. She pleaded guilty to six misdemeanors accusing her of conspiring to intentionally interfere with the performance of election duties.
Chicago Sun-Times – Robert Herguth | Published: 10/13/2023
Three recent public corruption cases in Illinois shared a common element: state Rep. Bob Rita as a prosecution witness. Rita has not found out yet whether he will be asked to testify in a fourth trial, that of former House Speaker Michel Madigan. Unlike some witnesses in the trials, Rita has neither been charged with any crime nor compelled to testify under a grant of immunity from prosecution. He has been subpoenaed to testify at the request of federal prosecutors about the Illinois General Assembly’s inner workings and Madigan;s close aides.
Yahoo News – A.D. Quig (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 10/16/2023
The Chicago Board of Ethics fined Ald. Jim Gardiner $20,000 after he was accused of retaliating against a constituent and vocal critic by directing city staff to issue bogus citations that could have forced the man to pay more than $600 in fines. In all, the board said Gardiner violated the ethics code on 10 separate occasions. The city inspector general’s office has only successfully pursued a probable cause finding in 13 ethics investigations and Gardiner was the first who was a sitting city council member.
New Orleans Advocate – John Stanton | Published: 10/17/2023
The New Orleans City Council ousted Gregory Joseph, Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s communications director and close advisor, for incompetence, neglecting his duties, and violating campaign finance laws, among other charges. In order to block Joseph from being rehired immediately after being fired, the council voted to suspend Joseph without pay from employment by the city for the remainder of Cantrell’s term.
Yahoo News – Eric Russell (Portland Press Herald) | Published: 10/18/2023
The executive director of Maine’s ethics commission said he does not see sufficient grounds to investigate claims that Senate President Troy Jackson violated campaign finance laws in connection with his purchase of a house. Members could still vote to investigate Jackson, but they would be doing so against the recommendation of Jonathan Wayne. A complaint concerned Jackson’s purchase of a home in Augusta in 2019 while representing a district in Aroostook County. It questioned whether he violated the Legislature’s residency rules or falsely pledged to make the home his primary residence.
MSN – Thomas Goodwin Smith (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 10/12/2023
The 1776 Project PAC, which financially supported Tara Battaglia, James Miller, and Steve Whisler during the 2022 campaign for the Carroll County School Board, was fined $20,250 for failing to identify itself as having paid for 13,879 text messages sent to voters. Maryland law requires campaign messages sent on behalf of candidates to state who paid for the information to be distributed. This includes yard signs, pamphlets, and digital advertisements.
Massachusetts – Bill Aims to Expose ‘Dark Money’ at Town Meetings
Martha’s Vineyard Times – Staff | Published: 10/18/2023
A new bill was filed to counter the influence of what the sponsors are calling “dark money” in town meetings. Massachusetts campaign finance law requires disclosure for any group that receives contributions to oppose or promote a ballot question or influence an election. Candidates for state and local public offices must also follow strict requirements. But these disclosure and transparency requirements do not currently apply to groups seeking to influence issues addressed at town meetings, and do not appear before voters on the ballots, such as warrant articles.
MSN – Danny McDonald (Boston Globe) | Published: 10/19/2023
John FitzGerald’s day job as a deputy director at the Boston Planning & Development Agency may hamstring him from personally raising funds for his city council bid, but it has not stopped his campaign from amassing $109,000, a hefty haul for this kind of race. State ethics law is clear: public employees cannot receive “directly or indirectly, any contribution or anything of value for any political purpose.” But they may run for office, as long as a committee is organized to raise money on their behalf. FitzGerald said he “never solicited a donation for his campaign.”
MSN – Ryan Mancici (MassLive) | Published: 10/14/2023
Abhijit Das, who ran for a U.S. House in Massachusetts, was convicted of violating the Federal Election Campaign Act and making false statements. Among the allegations was that Das inflated his fundraising numbers with a scheme “to solicit personal loans from friends and close associates in excess of the $2,700 legal limit,” prosecutors said. Das also used $267,000 of campaign funds to pay debts for his hotel business relating to vendors.
Massachusetts – Mass. Gets Top Grade for 2020 Redistricting
Salem News – Christian Wade | Published: 10/16/2023
The home state of “gerrymandering” received a top ranking from Common Cause for its once-every-decade legislative redistricting process. Massachusetts got an “A-” grade, tied with California in the highest-in-the nation ranking. Massachusetts got high marks for having a strong coalition of voting access groups participating in the redistricting process, increasing minority representation in the state Legislature, and holding regular public hearings to discuss changes.
Bridge Michigan – Jonathan Oosting | Published: 10/18/2023
Michigan is poised to end the year the same way it began, as one of only two states to fully exempt both the governor’s office and Legislature from public, which the Legislature must finalize by the end of this year under a ballot measure voters approved in 2022. But Democrats are punting on other promised transparency reforms until at least next year, including expansion of the Freedom of Information Act and tighter lobbying rules.
Detroit Free Press – Arpan Lobo | Published: 10/18/2023
Brian Pierce, a former lobbyist who pleaded guilty to participating in a corruption scheme in Michigan’s now-defunct medical marijuana licensing agency, was sentenced to 24 months in prison. Vincent Brown, the other lobbyist to plead guilty in the scheme, was sentenced to 20 months in prison. They both pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit bribery, after the federal government accused them of providing $42,000 in cash bribes and other benefits to former House Speaker Rick Johnson during his time as chair of the former Michigan Medical Marijuana Licensing Board.
Yahoo News – Nick Corasaniti (New York Times) | Published: 11/17/2023
Just three years ago, Mississippi had an election law on its books from 1890 constitutional that was designed to uphold “white supremacy” in the state. The law created a system for electing statewide officials that drastically reduced the political power of Black voters. Voters overturned the law in 2020. This summer, an appeals court threw out another law that had permanently stripped voting rights from people convicted of a range of felonies. Now Mississippi is holding its first election for governor since those laws fell, the contest is improbably competitive in this deep-red state, and Black voters are poised to play a critical role.
Nevada Independent – Tabitha Mueller and Eric Neugeboren | Published: 10/15/2023
Several Nevada Democrats have found themselves in the political crosshairs for helping pass two bills in the final days of the legislative session that awarded $110 million in state funds to their nonprofit employers and dozens of other community groups. Lawmakers with connections to the organizations they voted to fund noted guidance they received from the Legislature’s legal division, which maintained the votes are not a conflict-of-interest because the legislation affects the average Nevadan just as much as lawmakers.
MSN – Jonathan Edwards (Washington Post) | Published: 10/16/2023
Quinn Mitchell is not a journalist, political strategist, or even a voter. He is a 15-year-old high school freshman who, despite his age, has become a fixture on the New Hampshire presidential campaign circuit. His consistent presence and pointed questions at town halls and rallies led former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to describe him as “America’s most famous political teenager.” Quinn was recently kicked out of the state GOP’s First in the Nation Leadership Summit after a volunteer accused him of being a Democratic operative.
DNyuz – Elise Young and Tracey Tully (New York Times) | Published: 10/16/2023
Fred Daibes, the real estate tycoon at the center of an international scandal threatening the career of U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, has found his way out of more than one tough spot over the course of his tumultuous life. In 2018, federal indictment accusing him of scheming to defraud a bank he had founded threatened to upend his real estate empire and carried the risk of a lengthy prison term. It was then, prosecutors say, that he turned to a longtime ally for help: Sen. Menendez. What followed would form the basis for federal charges that Daibes, Menendez and his wife, and two other businesspeople are now facing.
ABC News – Anthony Izaguirre (Associated Press) | Published: 10/17/2023
New York City Mayor Eric Adams has been using artificial intelligence (AI) to make robocalls that contort his own voice into several languages he does not actually speak, posing new ethical questions about the government’s use of the rapidly evolving technology. The mayor said the robocalls have gone out in languages such as Mandarin and Yiddish to promote city hiring events. They have not included any disclosure that he only speaks English, or the calls were generated using AI.
MSN – Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 10/12/2023
Ohio’s redistricting process received a failing grade from Common Cause, which deemed the state;s congressional and legislative maps to be “unmitigated disasters” overall. The report noted how Ohio residents last year voted on the state’s congressional delegation and most of the state Legislature using district lines that were found to be unconstitutionally gerrymandered by the state Supreme Court.
NonDoc – Michael McNutt | Published: 10/16/2023
The Oklahoma Ethics Commission voted to extend the search for its next executive director after the state’s attorney general claimed the search “process has been irreparably flawed and must be started anew.” Commissioners also approved a budget request for the 2025 fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2024. The request, more than three times the amount the agency received this year, will be presented to the Oklahoma Legislature for consideration during next year’s regular session.
MSN – Sean Collins Walsh (Philadelphia Inquirer) | Published: 10/19/2023
The Philadelphia Board of Ethics appealed a court ruling that dismissed its high-profile lawsuit against the super PAC that backed Jeff Brown’s unsuccessful campaign for mayor. The board in April sent shockwaves through the mayor’s race when it sued For A Better Philadelphia, which spent millions of dollars to boost Brown as he sought the Democratic nomination. The board accused the super PAC of illegally coordinating with Brown because he raised money for the group in the months leading up to the launch of his campaign in November 2022.
MSN – Adam Powell (El Paso Times) | Published: 10/13/2023
The El Paso City Council advanced a plan that would increase transparency around political contributions but stopped short of acting on a proposed cap on donations. The council voted direct city staff to draft an ordinance that would require disclosure of donors who contributed $500 or more and might benefit from council actions.
Charleston Gazette-Mail – Mike Tony | Published: 10/17/2023
West Virginia Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Jimmy Wriston suggested there is no conflict-of-interest nor appearance of one stemming from the relationship between his agency and a firm the agency contracts with that employs his son. Wriston signed two contracts for the Division of Highways to pay over $25.7 million to the firm, Michael Baker International. At the time, Wriston was deputy commissioner of the Division of Highways. Gov. Jim Justice named Wriston DOT secretary and DOH commissioner in October 2021.
October 18, 2023 •
Elections Mississippi: “Black Voters Fuel Democratic Hopes in Deep-Red Mississippi” by Nick Corasaniti (New York Times) for Yahoo News Ethics Alaska: “Alaska Attorney General Approves Free Legal Defense for Top Officials Accused of Ethical Lapses” by James Brooks (Alaska Beacon) for Frontiersman California: “San Francisco […]
Mississippi: “Black Voters Fuel Democratic Hopes in Deep-Red Mississippi” by Nick Corasaniti (New York Times) for Yahoo News
Alaska: “Alaska Attorney General Approves Free Legal Defense for Top Officials Accused of Ethical Lapses” by James Brooks (Alaska Beacon) for Frontiersman
California: “San Francisco Homeowners Say They Were Duped into Paying a Now-Disgraced Building Inspector” by Michael Barba for San Francisco Standard
National: “Former IRS Contractor Pleads Guilty to Leaking Trump’s Tax Returns” by Salvador Rizzo (Washington Post) for MSN
Illinois: “Ald. Jim Gardiner Hit with $20,000 Fine for Ethics Violations” by A.D. Quig (Chicago Tribune) for Yahoo News
National: “How Conservative Media Figures Helped to Fuel the GOP Speaker Chaos” by Sarah Ellison and Will Sommer (Washington Post) for MSN
Canada: “Lavish Trip for Group of Conservative MPs in Ethics Spotlight” by Elizabeth Thompson for CBC
Massachusetts: “Mass. Gets Top Grade for 2020 Redistricting” by Christian Wade for Salem News
October 13, 2023 •
On October 11, a bill was introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives to increase transparency concerning gifts given to institutions of higher education by foreign entities. House Bill 5933, the Defending Education Transparency and Ending Rogue Regimes Engaging in […]
On October 11, a bill was introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives to increase transparency concerning gifts given to institutions of higher education by foreign entities.
House Bill 5933, the Defending Education Transparency and Ending Rogue Regimes Engaging in Nefarious Transactions (DETERRENT) Act, would amend the Higher Education Act of 1965. These changes would:
- Require universities and colleges to provide additional information in disclosures of foreign gifts and contracts from foreign sources;
- Restrict contracts with certain foreign entities and foreign countries of concern;
- Require certain staff and faculty to report foreign gifts and contracts;
- Require disclosure of certain foreign investments within endowments;
- Lower the foreign gift reporting threshold for colleges and universities from $250,000 to $50,000 and include a $0 threshold for countries of concern; and
- Create additional penalties for colleges and universities remaining noncompliant in foreign gift reporting, including the imposition of fines and the loss of Title IV funding.
According to bill sponsor Rep. Michelle Steel’s press release, the legislation would also close reporting loopholes and provides increased transparency to Congress, intelligence agencies, and the public and would protect research-heavy institutions most targeted by adversaries of the U.S.
The bill was co-sponsored by Rep. Virginia Foxx.
October 13, 2023 •
National/Federal Ex-Treasurer for Rep. George Santos Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy, Tells of Bogus Loan and Fake Donors ABC News – Jake Offenhartz (Associated Press) | Published: 10/5/2023 The ex-treasurer for U.S. Rep. George Santos pleaded guilty to a fraud conspiracy charge and […]
ABC News – Jake Offenhartz (Associated Press) | Published: 10/5/2023
The ex-treasurer for U.S. Rep. George Santos pleaded guilty to a fraud conspiracy charge and implicated Santos in a scheme to embellish his campaign finance reports with a fake loan and fake donors. Nancy Marks, who was a close aide to Santos during his two congressional bids, is a longtime political operative and bookkeeper for multiple candidates.
ABC News – Katherine Faulders, Alexander Mallin, and Mike Levine | Published: 10/5/2023
Months after leaving the White House, former President Trump allegedly discussed potentially sensitive information about U.S. nuclear submarines with a member of his Mar-a-Lago Club – an Australian billionaire who then allegedly shared the information with scores of others, including more than a dozen foreign officials, several of his own employees, and a handful of journalists. Prosecutors and FBI agents have at least twice this year interviewed Anthony Pratt, who runs one of the world’s largest packaging companies.
MSN – Gopal Ratnam (Roll Call) | Published: 10/11/2023
A bipartisan group of lawmakers proposed legislation that would ban the “distribution of materially deceptive AI-generated audio or visual media” about individuals seeking federal office. Civil rights groups, political consultants, free-speech advocates, and lawmakers across the political spectrum have agreed that the use of AI-generated deceptive ads poses risks to the democratic process by misleading voters. The trouble, though, is figuring out where to draw the line on what constitutes deception, or how to enforce prohibitions.
MSN – Marianna Sotomayor, Leigh Ann Caldwell, and Jaqueline Alemany (Washington Post) | Published: 10/11/2023
House Republicans were on the verge of open revolt after the ideologically fractious conference failed to coalesce around a speaker nominee, leaving the chamber rudderless and leaderless. The inability of Republicans to agree on who will lead them has left the chamber in an effective standstill since Rep. Kevin McCarthy was ousted as speaker, unable to consider any legislation to aid Israel in its war against Hamas or pass any appropriation bills to avoid a potential government shutdown. Neither issue produced enough urgency for Republicans to quickly elect a speaker as many had hoped, again highlighting the conference’s deep divisions.
MSN – Matt Durot (Forbes) | Published: 10/10/2023
Charles Koch is making big moves to ensure his charities and causes are funded long after he is gone. Koch, who is worth $54.5 billion, said that over the last four years he has transferred $5.3 billion of his conglomerate’s nonvoting stock to a pair of nonprofits with fewer restrictions on lobbying and politics than traditional charities. Koch did not make gifts of his company stock directly to the Stand Together nonprofit network. Instead, he chose groups that support the network and are allowed to directly engage in political campaigns and to do an unlimited amount of issue lobbying, as long as those are not their primary activities).
MSN – Tyler Pager and Perry Stein (Washington Post) | Published: 10/9/2023
President Biden was interviewed over the last two days as part of the investigation led by special counsel Robert Hur into the discovery of classified documents at Biden’s private office and Delaware home. When appointing Hur to lead the probe, Attorney General Merrick Garland cited the “extraordinary circumstances” of the Justice Department investigating the president as he considered a reelection bid. Biden formally launched his reelection campaign months later.
MSN – Anumita Kaur (Washington Post) | Published: 10/10/2023
A superseding indictment charges U.S. Rep. George Santos with stealing the identities of family members and using donors’ credit cards to spend thousands of dollars, intensifying the legal peril facing Santos five months after he was charged with a host of other financial crimes. The most recent indictment accuses Santos of running two fraudulent schemes during the 2022 election cycle, in addition to the other shams alleged in May.
Seattle Times – Trip Gabriel (New York Times) | Published: 10/7/2023
Americans are increasingly fracturing as a people, and some are taking the extraordinary step of moving to escape a political or social climate they abhor. Democrats have left red states as Republicans have moved out of blue states, often over views on issues like abortion, transgender rights, school curricula, guns, race, and other matters. While there is no precise count of how many Americans have relocated because of politics and social issues, interviews with demographers and people who have moved or are considering moving, as well as a review of social media postings and polling, show the phenomenon is real.
Yahoo News – Taylor Giorno (The Hill) | Published: 10/11/2023
U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez is facing allegations he and his wife accepted “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in bribes. In exchange, he allegedly used his influence to protect three businesspeople and benefit the government of Egypt. The new criminal charges against Menendez have invited scrutiny of the legal ways money may influence public policy, including political contributions and lobbying. Paul Miller, founding partner at Miller/Wenhold Capitol Strategies, takes issue with tying lobbyists to the Menendez case, which centers on alleged bribery by businesspeople who are not registered lobbyists.
Yahoo News – Adam Liptak (New York Times) | Published: 10/12/2023
Among the bold claims in a recent motion filed by Donald Trump seeking to dismiss the federal indictment accusing him of conspiring to undermine the 2020 election, there was a significant concession. The key U.S. Supreme Court precedent the motion relied on for claiming “absolute immunity” from criminal prosecution, his lawyers acknowledged, did not address criminal prosecutions. Should Trump lose in the trial court and on appeal, there is every reason to think he will ask the Supreme Court to step in.
Yahoo News – Brittany Gibson and Madison Fernandez (Politico) | Published: 10/5/2023
A company at the center of the Democratic Party’s digital strategy is on the verge of a meltdown, sparking alarm among a broad constellation of liberal groups that are relying on it ahead of 2024. NGP VAN provides tools used by Democrats, from the White House to local school boards, to raise money and mobilize voters. But with new management in recent years, it has been stripping its operations to the bare bones.
From the States and Municipalities
MSN – Joseph Bryant (AL.com) | Published: 10/12/2023
As he makes his first court appearance in his federal corruption case, state Rep. John Rogers says he is ready to fight the charges and seek another term in the Alabama Legislature. A grand jury charged Rogers with obstruction in a kickback scheme involving public money from the Jefferson County Community Service fund, a collection of tax dollars that local lawmakers get to dole out to local causes. Prosecutors allege Rogers attempted to bribe someone to lie to investigators about the scheme by promising them additional public money.
Yahoo News – Zach Montellaro and Madison Fernandez (Politico) | Published: 10/5/2023
A federal court picked Alabama’s new congressional map, which will likely result in an additional Black – and Democratic – member in the delegation. The new map came after the same panel of federal judges twice found that lines drawn by the GOP-dominated Legislature likely violated the Voting Rights Act by weakening the power of Black voters. The new lines will be used for at least the 2024 elections, though Alabama Republicans have vowed to fight them for future cycles.
MSN – Yvonne Winget Sanchez (Washington Post) | Published: 10/5/2023
If the 2024 presidential election is close in Arizona, a newly enacted state law will mandate a ballot recount that will probably cause the state to miss crucial deadlines for certifying the vote. The battleground state is expected to play a pivotal role in the next presidential election and any holdup in counting votes there could cause chaos.
Yahoo News – Andrew DeMillo (Associated Press) | Published: 10/10/2023
Arkansas Gov, Sarah Huckabee Sanders is facing new and deepening questions after newly released public records revealed her office bought a lectern for $19,000 and a whistle-blower accused the office of altering records to cover up the spending. The Arkansas Republican Party paid for the lectern in September, but the words “to be reimbursed” were only added later to the original invoice. The undated reimbursement note adds to weeks of scrutiny over the purchase. A legislative panel is expected to vote on a request for an audit of the lectern’s purchase.
MSN – Frank Stoltze (LAist) | Published: 10/10/2023
Outrage followed the release in 2022 of a secretly recorded audio tape of some Los Angeles City Council members making racist and derogatory remarks. The audio was from a meeting where four council members were discussing how to redraw council district boundaries in a way that would maintain their power. For weeks, council meetings were marked by loud, angry protests that often shut down the proceedings. In the year since the tapes were leaked, the fallout from the scandal has fundamentally changed City Hall.
California – SF Government Watchdogs Eye New Ethics Regulations
San Francisco Examiner – Adam Shanks | Published: 10/11/2023
More than three years after a corruption scandal swept through San Francisco City Hall, the Ethics Commission will see its broad proposal for reforms finally land on the ballot. The measure. set to appear before voters in March 2024, would set new restrictions on accepting gifts and expand ethics training for city employees. In the meantime, the Ethics Commission is already contemplating regulations on thorny topics such as city employees’ ability to manage companies that contract with their own departments.
Yahoo News – Sarah Blaskey, and Tess Riski (Miami Herald) | Published: 10/5/2023
When a reporter asked Miami Mayor Francis Suarez to comment on billionaire Ken Griffin’s controversial plan to relocate a historic home from his $106 million bayfront estate and turn it into a tourist attraction, the mayor expressed his full support. But Suarez’s sentiments were scripted, word for word, by Griffin’s spokesperson, who gave them to the city, emails indicate. The mayor’s office then presented the statement as Suarez’s own words to the Miami Herald.
MSN – Kevin Sullivan and Clara Ence Morse (Washington Post) | Published: 10/7/2023
Illinois Democrats used their supermajority to redraw congressional district lines in a way that would strengthen their already solid lock on power. The strategy worked, adding one Democratic seat to the Illinois delegation, and trimming two Republican ones as GOP voters were packed into a smaller number of districts. The new map also accomplished what experts say gerrymandering does with ruthless efficiency, regardless of whether Democrats or Republicans are responsible: hollowing out the moderate political center and driving both parties further toward the ideological fringes.
MSN – Gregory Pratt (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 10/11/2023
In a departure from usual practices at City Hall, Chicago’s $100,000 settlement agreement with whistleblowers who were fired by Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin prohibits them from publicly discussing their negative experiences in her office. Of more than three dozen settlements reached with city workers over the past five years, the deal that Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration reached with the treasurer’s ex-employees was the only one that contained what amounts to a gag order. In a handful of cases, former employees agreed not to discuss the terms of their settlements, but they could still speak freely about their time in city government.
Yahoo Finance – Jason Meisner (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 10/11/2023
James Weiss, the son-in-law of former Cook County Democratic boss Joseph Berrios, was sentenced to five-and-one-half years in prison, bringing an end to a bribery case centered on the shady world of sweepstakes gaming with elements of political corruption, a state senator turned government mole, and even alleged mob ties. In handing down the sentence, U.S. District Court Judge Steven Seeger decried Chicago’s long history of public corruption, saying cases like Weiss’ cause people to “roll their eyes” when they meet someone from Chicago.
MSN – Tyler Pager and Michael Scherer (Washington Post) | Published: 10/6/2023
The Democratic Party officially dislodged Iowa from its prized status as the first state in the presidential nominating process, approving the state Democratic Party’s plan to release their results on Super Tuesday next year. The decision ends a nearly two-year fight over Iowa’s place in selecting a Democratic nominee, which resulted in a complete overhaul of the calendar.
WDRB – Marcus Green | Published: 10/10/2023
Metro government’s ethics agency is suing Louisville and Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell, claiming it does not have total control over its own records as local law requires. The lawsuit argues the mayor-appointed Louisville Metro Ethics Commission is :at the mercy” of Metro government and its open records personnel to fulfill those requests under Kentucky law. As a result, the suit alleges, some records have been made public without the commission’s input, while it is not known if documents have been withheld.
Killeen Daily – Craig Mauger (Detroit News) | Published: 9/30/2023
The Michigan Republican Party had about $35,000 in its bank accounts in August, according to internal records that flash new warning signs about the dire state of the GOP’s finances and raise questions about whether the organization is complying with campaign finance laws. The party has regularly transferred money from an account that is usually focused on federal elections to other accounts to afford expenses. Earlier this year, the party’s federal account was loaned $15,000 after that account’s balance turned negative. The transaction was not reported in disclosures from the campaign or the party’s federal committee.
Helena Independent Record – Seaborn Larson | Published: 10/11/2023
Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Chris Gallus dismissed an ethics complaint regarding Lt. Gov. Kristen Juras’ rental agreement with a religious advocacy group. Gallus found the complaint filed by state Democrats failed to articulate a violation and instead urged his office to investigate the party’s suspicions. The Montana Democratic Party asserted Juras was given a lease agreement below market rate for a rental home owned by the Montana Family Institute. That organization is closely aligned with the Montana Family Foundation, a longtime proponent of conservative causes.
Albany Times Union – Brendan Lyons | Published: 10/10/2023
A state appeals court said New York’s ethics panel can remain in operation as it seeks to overturn a lower court decision that determined its structure violates the state constitution. The appeals court’s decision comes a month after a state Supreme Court justice ruled the Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government was created in violation of the constitution and must suspend its work.
MSN – Jonathan O’Connell and Shayna Jacobs (Washington Post) | Published: 10/10/2023
Thousands of pages of court documents prepared by New York Attorney General Letitia James as evidence in the fraud case she has filed against Donald Trump show how accounting, banking, and real estate experts repeatedly informed Trump how much his properties and businesses were really worth. But over and over again, the documents reveal that Trump, his adult sons, and top executives allegedly ignored or sidelined those experts, exchanging their figures for numbers from another source: Trump’s own intuition.
The City – Greg Smith | Published: 10/10/2023
A tow company owner who raised money for New York City Mayor Eric Adams and faces bribery charges tied to his interactions with a former top mayoral aide has been enmeshed in scandals dating back 25 years, including one in which prosecutors alleged his company was controlled by the Genovese crime family. Mazzio was indicted on charges of bribing aide Eric Ulrich. In exchange for cash and New York Mets tickets, prosecutors allege Ulrich got Mazzio access to Adams’ chief advisor and a dinner with the mayor.
MSN – Patrick Marley (Washington Post) | Published: 10/10/2023
Republican lawmakers overrode North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of a bill that overhauls who runs elections and achieves a long-sought goal of the state GOP. The legislation creates bipartisan boards that could deadlock on establishing early voting locations or certifying results in a state that may prove crucial in next year’s presidential election. Republicans contend the bill helps guarantee elections will be run fairly by establishing bipartisan election boards that will take politics out of the process.
MSN – Annie Gowan (Washington Post) | Published: 10/6/2023
In state after state since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Democrats and their abortion rights allies have won victories over Republicans and others who oppose abortion. The latest battleground is Ohio, where a GOP supermajority has fought to consolidate its power in ways that critics, and even some within the party, say threatens democracy.
MSN – Samantha Hendrickson (Associated Press) | Published: 10/11/2023
A schism between House Republicans appears to only be widening after a rival GOP-contingent sued fellow conservative Speaker Jason Stephens to seize control of over $1 million in campaign money from the Ohio House Republican Alliance and its coffers that fund campaigns for state GOP legislators. The lawsuit argues Rep. Derek Merrin is the leader of the alliance after a closed-door vote by the majority of the House Republican caucus earlier this year. Therefore, he leads the alliance and has authority over distributing its funds, which are expected to grow as campaign season revs up.
WVXU – Nick Swartsell | Published: 10/10/2023
Former Cincinnati City Councilperson P.G. Sittenfeld will spend 16 months in prison, one year on probation, and pay a $40,000 fine on corruption charges. A jury found Sittenfeld guilty on one charge of bribery and one charge of extortion in 2022. At the center of Sittenfeld’s conviction are allegations he received $20,000 from undercover FBI agents.
MSN – Moriah Balingit (Washington Post) | Published: 10/9/2023
A state board in Oklahoma approved a contract with St. Isidore of Seville Virtual Charter School, bringing the institution one step closer to becoming the first publicly funded religious charter school in the nation. The Statewide Virtual Charter School Board voted for the contract despite opposition from the state’s attorney general and a lawsuit that seeks to stop the school from opening. If the school opens, it would represent a new model in education: a tuition-free school with a religious curriculum that is funded largely with taxpayer dollars.
KGW – Jamie Parfitt | Published: 10/11/2023
A newly released report dives into the role that former Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan played in an audit of the state’s cannabis regulatory agency, completed just before Fagan resigned amid ethics concerns due to her moonlighting work in the cannabis industry. Oregon’s audits division, like its election division, is overseen by the secretary of state. Around the time that Fagan resigned, Gov. Tina Kotek requested that Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum conduct an examination of the audits division’s cannabis audit in order to determine if there had been any influence from Fagan’s ties to the industry.
Yahoo News – Alan Torres (Eugene Register-Guard) | Published: 10/7/2023
The Oregon Government Ethics Commission voted unanimously to dismiss a complaint against Michael Selvaggio, the United Food and Commercial Workers Local (UFCW) 555 lobbyist who led the failed recall campaign against state Rep. Paul Holvey. The lawmaker accused Selvaggio of violating state law by filing the recall while House Bill 3183, a priority bill for UFCW that Holvey opposed, was in the House Rules Committee. It is illegal for a lobbyist to influence a legislator’s vote by funding or threatening to fund opposition.
Pennsylvania – Inside a Tangled Web of Pa. Businesses and Big Campaign Cash
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Matt Bernardini and Mike Wereschagin | Published: 10/9/2023
The flood of campaign donations by businessperson Adam Kidan and the access he gained through those contributions to prominent politicians illustrates how top political donors can enter the corridors of power through doors not open to average voters. With critical campaigns next year for president and U.S. Senate, good-government experts worry the use of corporations to dump cash into elections is undermining laws designed to show the public who is behind the most consequential decision-makers in the country.
Yahoo News – Zach Montellaro and Josh Gerstein (Politico) | Published: 10/11/2023
The U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority appeared likely to uphold a Republican-drawn congressional district in South Carolina that a lower court found was racially gerrymandered. The case tests the legal limits of partisan gerrymandering when it intersects with race. The NAACP is accusing GOP lawmakers of drawing the state’s First Congressional District by shuffling Black voters in and out of the district to make it reliably Republican.
MSN – Molly Hennessey-Fiske (Washington Post) | Published: 10/8/2023
A civil war is raging among Texas Republicans. As lawmakers returned to Austin to address school vouchers and border security, that infighting threatens to consume the third special session of the year. The GOP has ruled all three branches of state government for decades, but this year tensions within the party have boiled over into very public battles. “… You have leadership of the Republican Party … trying to fend off challenges from the grassroots, certainly populist wing of the party,” said Brendan Steinhauser, a Republican strategist based in Austin.
Seattle Times – Renata Geraldo | Published: 10/5/2023
Port of Seattle Commissioner Fred Felleman violated the Port’s code of ethics by using his position to gain special privileges or exemptions with a nonprofit, the Port Board of Ethics found. Felleman tried using his commissioner status to get involved in the leadership of nonprofit Washington Maritime Blue’s Quiet Sound program. Quiet Sound, partly funded by the Port, seeks to reduce the underwater noise impact of large vessels on orcas. The program’s procedures say nontribal elected officials cannot join its leadership committee.
Yahoo News – Reid Epstein and Julie Bosman (New York Times) | Published: 10/6/2023
The liberal majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court agreed to hear a case challenging the state’s Republican-drawn legislative districts, a decision that could spur impeachment proceedings against a newly elected justice, Janet Protasiewicz, who refused to recuse herself from the case. The decision to accept the case, known as an original action because it means the case will bypass Wisconsin’s trial and appeals courts, comes over the objections of at least two of the court’s three conservative justices and the state’s leading Republicans.
State and Federal Communications, Inc. provides research and consulting services for government relations professionals on lobbying laws, procurement lobbying laws, political contribution laws in the United States and Canada. Learn more by visiting stateandfed.com.