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 15, 2023 •
Campaign Finance Delaware: “How Hall-Long’s Refusal to Release Audit Findings Sparked Elections Reform Talks” by Amanda Fries (Delaware News Journal) for Yahoo News National: “Ex-Fundraiser for George Santos Pleads Guilty to Posing as Congressional Aide to Raise Campaign Cash” by Dave Collins for Associated […]
November 13, 2023 •
Campaign Finance National: “Donald Trump Exempt from Campaign Finance Laws: FEC commissioner” by Kate Plummer (Newsweek) for MSN Kentucky: “Weddle’s Excess Giving to Beshear, Kentucky Democratic Party Under Investigation” by Tom Loftus for Kentucky Lantern Elections National: “Democrats, No Longer Squeamish on Abortion, Lean into […]
National: “Donald Trump Exempt from Campaign Finance Laws: FEC commissioner” by Kate Plummer (Newsweek) for MSN
Kentucky: “Weddle’s Excess Giving to Beshear, Kentucky Democratic Party Under Investigation” by Tom Loftus for Kentucky Lantern
National: “Democrats, No Longer Squeamish on Abortion, Lean into Searing Personal Ads” by Rebecca Davis O’Brien and Nick Corasaniti (New York Times) for DNyuz
West Virginia: “Senate Democrat Joe Manchin Says He Will Not Seek Reelection” by Liz Goodwin, Amy Wang, and Michael Scherer (Washington Post) for MSN
Alabama: “Right-Wing Site’s Reporting on Mayor Raises Ethics Questions After His Death” by Jonathan Edwards (Washington Post) for MSN
Maryland: “Ex-Baltimore Prosecutor Marilyn Mosby Guilty in Federal Perjury Trial” by Dan Morse (Washington Post) for MSN
New York: “Adams’ Compliance Lawyer Has Lobbied City Hall While Doing Work for His Campaign” by Chris Sommerfeldt (New York Daily News) for MSN
Florida: “City Council Members Expand Oversight After Criticizing Lobbying Contract” by David Bauerlein (Florida Times-Union) for Yahoo News
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.”
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
August 18, 2023 •
National/Federal ‘Biased.’ ‘Corrupt.’ ‘Deranged.’ Trump’s Taunts Test Limits of Release. Buffalo News – Maggie Haberman, Jonathan Swan, and Alan Feuer (New York Times) | Published: 8/16/2023 After eight years of pushing back at a number of institutions in the U.S., Donald Trump […]
Buffalo News – Maggie Haberman, Jonathan Swan, and Alan Feuer (New York Times) | Published: 8/16/2023
After eight years of pushing back at a number of institutions in the U.S., Donald Trump is now probing the limits of what the criminal justice system will tolerate and the lines that District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan sought to lay out about what he can say about the election interference case she is overseeing. He has waged a similarly defiant campaign against others involved in criminal cases against him. Some lawyers have said if Trump were an ordinary citizen issuing these attacks, he would be in jail by now. The question is whether Trump will face consequences for this kind of behavior ahead of a trial.
Business Insider – Peter Syme | Published: 8/15/2023
New evidence that prosecutors want to use against Sam Bankman-Fried details how one high-ranking FTX executive knew his boss’s political donations were designed to gain favorable influence in Washington D.C. The FTX founder gave nearly $40 million to Democrats and PACs during last year’s midterm elections. Although prosecutors have put that number as high as $100 million because they say Bankman-Fried funneled millions of dollars more through FTX executives. Prosecutors say the donations were funded by money taken from FTX customers.
MSN – Ryan Tarinelli (Roll Call) | Published: 8/10/2023
An appellate court panel heard arguments about a lower court ruling that would restrict the Biden administration’s ability to interact with social media companies on content moderation. An injunction, which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has paused for now, would block various federal government entities from contacting in any form social media companies to remove content with “protected free speech.” The panel, which reserved its most probing questions for the Justice Department, did not indicate when it might rule.
MSN – Tierny Sneed (CNN) | Published: 8/13/2023
It is undeniable that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s friendships with billionaires willing to foot his bill on their vacations together have given the conservative jurist a lifestyle most Americans could only dream of. But determining whether Thomas violated ethics rules and laws by failing to disclose that hospitality is tricky. The law in question is the Ethics in Government Act, and how it should be applied to the extravagant travel that Thomas and other justices have been treated to has been a subject of debate.
The Hill – Zach Schonfeld and Mychael Schnell | Published: 8/16/2023
Samuel Miele, a fundraiser for U.S. Rep. George Santos, was indicted on allegations he had impersonated a top aide to a member of House leadership while soliciting donations for Santos’s campaign. Miele is charged with four counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. While court documents do not identify the impersonated aide’s name or the lawmaker they work for, a complaint filed with the FEC accused Miele of impersonating Dan Meyer, who previously served as chief of staff to Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
The Hill – Rebecca Beitsch | Published: 8/16/2023
Special counsel Jack Smith sought to review former President Trump’s direct messages, draft tweets, and location information as his office battled for information related to his account on X, formerly known as Twitter. Newly unsealed court records offer more detail about what prosecutors were looking for when they subpoenaed records related to the Twitter account in January, a request granted by the court.
Yahoo News – J. David Goodman (New York Times) | Published: 8/12/2023
There is an expanding campaign by conservatives across the country to limit the power of Democratic prosecutors who have promised to reform the criminal justice system, or else to oust the prosecutors altogether. More than two dozen bills have been introduced in 16 states to limit prosecutors’ power, mostly in Republican-controlled states. Several of those bills have become law. Despite attacks on their policies and attempts to blame them for rising crime, progressive prosecutors have continued to win many elections.
Yahoo News – Ali Swenson (Associated Press) | Published: 8/10/2023
The FEC began a process to potentially regulate AI-generated deepfakes in political ads ahead of the 2024 election, a move advocates say would safeguard voters against a particularly insidious form of election disinformation. The FEC’s unanimous procedural vote advances a petition asking it to regulate ads that use artificial intelligence to misrepresent political opponents as saying or doing something they did not, a stark issue that is already being highlighted in the current Republican presidential primary.
Yahoo News – Shane Goldmacher and Maggie Haberman (New York Times) | Published: 8/11/2023
Donald Trump’s legal problems are not just piling up – his legal bills are, too. New financial reports show the former president’s various political committees and the super PAC backing him have used roughly 30 cents of every dollar spent so far this year on legal-related costs. The total amounts to more than $27 million in legal fees and other investigation-related bills in the first six months of 2023. The new disclosures revealed the remarkable degree to which Trump’s political and legal cash are intermingled, much like his own political and legal fate.
From the States and Municipalities
MSN – Canadian Press | Published: 8/15/2023
The federal government has remained without a conflict-of-interest and ethics watchdog for more than six months, a vacancy that the most recent commissioner says is putting investigations on hold and could allow violations to go unnoticed. Mario Dion retired in February after serving as the last permanent commissioner. Martine Richard took on an interim role in April. But she resigned within weeks because of controversy over the fact she is the sister-in-law of Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc.
Yahoo News – Zach Montellaro (Politico) | Published: 8/14/2023
Alabama Republicans were ordered by a federal court to redraw their congressional maps to ensure there were two majority-Black districts. They did not. Instead, they are going back to the same federal court after the Supreme Court weighed in, this time to argue their attempts at coming up with a new map are good enough. Plaintiffs argued the new districts plainly do not meet the court’s standards, and Republicans were engaging in political gamesmanship by ignoring the court and drawing lines that would still only present Black voters the opportunity to elect the candidate of their choosing in one district.
Arizona Daily Star – Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services) | Published: 8/7/2023
With efforts by one set of foes already rebuffed, Arizona’s top Republican lawmakers are making their own bid to quash a new state law designed to shine a light on “dark money.” In a new court filing, Senate President Warren Petersen and House Speaker Ben Toma contend Proposition 211 infringes on the constitutional right of the Legislature to make laws. They want Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Frank Moskowitz to override what voters approved just last year.
Mission Local – Joe Eskenazi | Published: 8/15/2023
Former San Francisco Planning Commission member Frank Fung admits he contracted with a city entity while serving as a city officer and faces a five-digit fine. Fung, a 20-year city appointee who served on the Planning Commission until June 2022, agreed to a settlement in which he will pay $24,200.
MSN – Michael Slaten and Tony Saavedra (Orange County Register) | Published: 8/10/2023
Investigators in Anaheim found deep levels of coordination between PACs and former Mayor Harry Sidhu’s campaign in 2018, a possible violation of state election laws. Investigators from JL Group said former Core Strategic Group Chief Executive Officer Jeff Flint and former Anaheim Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Todd Ament ran many campaign meetings for Sidhu while also coordinating spending through independent expenditures.
California – Oakland Lobbyists Must Pay to Play, Officials Say
Oaklandside – Eli Wolfe | Published: 8/10/2023
Oakland requires lobbyists to register and disclose basic information about who is employing them, how much they are paid, and who in the city they contacted. The Public Ethics Commission agreed to send the city council several recommendations to change to the lobbying law. The commission wants to carve out some exceptions to lobbyist registration fees. They want to grant a fee waiver to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations with less than $750,000 in annual revenue, and a reduction for small businesses with less than $200,000 in annual revenue.
Politico – Jeremy White | Published: 8/14/2023
Industry groups and wealthy activists have figured out how to use California;s direct democracy system in ways that are changing how policy is made, prompting pushback from unions and others. Like never before, the business of lawmaking in Sacramento is intertwined with a ballot initiative industry that churns through hundreds of millions of dollars each cycle, and policy battles loop from the Legislature to the streets back to the Legislature again.
San Francisco Standard – Eddie Sun | Published: 8/15/2023
Bay Area Rapid Transit Board President Janice Li agreed to a $5,275 fine for failing to register as a lobbyist for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. The coalition’s former executive director, Brian Wiedenmeier, was also named in the complaint. Li served as the nonprofit’s advocacy director from 2015 to 2022. The two qualified as “contact lobbyists” under local law because they reached out to city officials about coalition business at least five times a month.
Voice of OC – Noah Biesiada | Published: 8/9/2023
Anaheim leaders give out hundreds of free tickets every year to events at Angel Stadium and the Honda Center, but a new investigation into alleged corruption found the city has failed to stop those tickets from going into the hands of special interests for years. While the city has a policy that requires city leaders to state a reason for giving out tickets, investigators from the JL Group noted there is no penalty for violating that policy, and it is easy to circumvent.
Voice of OC – Hosam Elattar | Published: 8/16/2023
Anaheim Mayor Ashleigh Aitken’s proposed reforms to safeguard against corruption fell apart as her city council colleagues criticized an independent investigation and significantly softened every one of the mayor’s reform recommendations. Independent investigators put together a scathing report that alleges “pay-to-play” conspiracies, misconduct, a misuse of federal COVID dollars, and outsized influence by Disneyland resort interests on City Hall.
Florida – State Appeals Lobbying Decision
Citrus County Chronicle – Jim Saunders (News Service of Florida) | Published: 8/14/2023
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody appealed a federal judge’s ruling that blocked part of a state constitutional amendment imposing new lobbying restrictions. 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 restriction violated First Amendment rights. The state separately requested a stay that would lead to the injunction only applying to Miami-Dade County Commissioner Rene Garcia while the appeal moves forward.
WFSU – Margie Menzel | Published: 8/15/2023
The Tallahassee Independent Ethics Board agreed to continue discussions on why the number of lobbyists registered with the city has plummeted. Critics say there is a loophole to evade that registration, which would require reporting one’s clients and fees.
Yahoo News – Romy Ellenbogen (Miami Herald) | Published: 8/14/2023
The head of Florida’s ethics commission may have violated one of the commission’s own rules. Glen Gilzean, the chairperson of the Florida Commission on Ethics, was appointed in 2019 by Gov. Ron DeSantis. But Gilzean in May also took on another role, as the new administrator of the DeSantis-controlled Central Florida Tourism Oversight district, a special district formerly that governs Walt Disney World and two surrounding cities. State law says members appointed to the state ethics commission may not “hold any public employment.”
Yahoo News – Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim (New York Times) | Published: 8/15/2023
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is using the state’s version of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) to go after former President Trump, who along with 18 of his allies was indicted on charges of participating in a wide-ranging conspiracy to overturn the results of the 2020 election in Georgia. One power of RICO is that it often allows a prosecutor to tell a sweeping story, not only laying out a set of criminal acts but identifying a group of people working toward a common goal, as part of an “enterprise,” to engage in patterns of illegal activities.
Yahoo News – Ryan Suppe (Idaho Statesman) | Published: 8/11/2023
A judge ruled Idaho Attorney General Raúl Labrador had a “notable conflict of interest” when his office began investigating officials with the state Department of Health and Welfare over how it distributed federal child-care grants. The health officials were the attorney general’s clients, and a lawyer under Labrador had advised them the grants in question were legally distributed.
WTTW – Heather Cherone | Published: 8/15/2023
Former Ald. Howard Brookins will not have to pay a $5,000 fine for violating the city’s ethics law by defending clients in criminal cases involving the Chicago Police Department. Brookins sued the Board of Ethics after it unanimously levied the fine against him, saying it had no authority to stop him from serving as a criminal defense attorney in Chicago.
Seattle Times – Steven Lee Myers and Benjamin Mullins (New York Times) | Published: 8/13/2023
A small Kansas police department is facing criticism for raiding a local newspaper’s office and the home of its owner and publisher, seizing computers and cellphones, and, in the publisher’s view, stressing his 98-year-old mother enough to cause her death. The searches appeared to be linked to an investigation into how a document containing information about a local restaurateur found its way to the local newspaper — and whether the restaurant owner’s privacy was violated in the process. The editor of the newspaper said the raids may have had more to do with tensions between the paper and officials in the town of Marion over prior coverage.
Yahoo News – Brian Metzger (Business Insider) | Published: 8/10/2023
Tim Sheehy, who is rung for the U.S. Senate in Montana, plans to steer a portion of the revenue from his forthcoming memoir to an industry group that lobbies federal lawmakers, adding to existing conflict-of-interest questions surrounding the wealthy first-time candidate. Candidates for office occasionally release books to help burnish their image and tell their story, and sitting lawmakers sometimes draw hundreds of thousands of dollars in outside income from book deals. But Sheehy’s book release poses unique conflict-of-interest questions, given his apparent plans for the revenue.
MSN – Abby Turner and Andrew Kaczynski (CNN) | Published: 8/12/2023
Sam Brown, a candidate for the U.S. Senate in Nevada, created a PAC to “help elect Republicans” but most of its funds were spent paying down debt from his failed previous campaign. The group donated less than seven percent of its funds to the candidates it was set up to support, a move one campaign finance expert likened to using the PAC as a “slush fund.”
This Is Reno – Kristin Hackbarth | Published: 8/15/2023
The Washoe County Board of Commissioners heard the first reading of a new ordinance that would require compensated lobbyists to register with the county. The policy, which some said was overdue, was modeled after Reno’s lobbying policy and is similar to others in Clark County, Las Vegas, and Henderson. It would require anyone who receives anything of value to communicate with county commissioners on behalf of someone else on any issue to register with the county.
New Mexico – New Ethics Complaint Targets Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto
Albuquerque Journal – Dan McKay | Published: 8/16/2023
A new ethics complaint accuses New Mexico Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto of violating state law by leveraging his power as a legislator for financial gain and to seek sexual favors. Much of the complaint centers on Ivey-Soto’s employment by an organization that serves county clerks throughout New Mexico, an arrangement it says is a conflict-of-interest, given his dual role as a legislator who crafts election laws the clerks must carry out.
Santa Fe New Mexican – Daniel Chacón | Published: 8/10/2023
In a defeat for New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who unilaterally stopped the Human Services Department from awarding Medicaid contracts worth billions of dollars to providers who had followed the state’s procurement process and scored the highest bids, the department will move forward with the winning bidders after all. The decision is part of a settlement agreement the state Ethics Commission reached with the governor and the department.
Albany Times Union – Brendan Lyons | Published: 8/14/2023
A New York appellate court dismissed a lawsuit filed last year by Gary Levine, a former commissioner for the state’s now-dismantled Joint Commission on Public Ethics, accusing Andrew Cuomo’s attorney, Rita Glavin, of defamation for suggesting he had leaked confidential information to the press about Cuomo’s dealings with the ethics panel. The appellate court found Glavin’s letter constituted a “statement of opinion” when she urged the inspector general’s office to launch an investigation of Lavine.
MSN – Michael Sisak (Associated Press) | Published: 8/14/2023
The judge in Donald Trump’s Manhattan hush-money criminal case rejected the former president’s demand to step aside, denying defense claims that he is biased against Trump because he has given money to Democrats and his daughter is a party consultant. Judge Juan Manuel Merchan acknowledged he made several small donations to Democratic causes during the 2020 campaign, including $15 to Joe Biden, but said he is certain of his “ability to be fair and impartial.”
Oregon Public Broadcasting – Dirk VanderHart | Published: 8/8/2023
Ten Republican and Independent senators who participated in a six-week walkout during the 2023 legislation session spring will not be allowed to run for reelection, Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade announced. Oregonians overwhelmingly voted last year to create consequences for legislative walkouts via Measure 113. But the decision drew a promise of a court challenge from GOP lawmakers, who have said the measure was so sloppily worded they are technically allowed to serve another term before consequences for a walkout begin.
Willamette Weekly – Nigel Jaquiss | Published: 8/14/2023
Oregon Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade announced that her office will now publish a searchable list of campaign finance violations monthly. Other states have long made such data public, informing voters which candidates posted contributions and expenditures late or incorrectly. The former elections director, Deborah Scroggin, pushed for Oregon to publish such violations throughout 2022, but then-Secretary of State Shemia Fagan and her top managers delayed the launch.
Yahoo News – Annie Todd (Sioux Falls Argus Leader) | Published: 8/15/2023
Gov. Kristi Noem issued an executive order that contracts issued by the state include a clause to guard against conflict-of-interest if a state lawmaker is about to enter into a contract that could violate the South Dakota Constitution. According to the state constitution, lawmakers are prohibited from being either directly or indirectly interested in any contract with the state or county during their term in office and one year after.
Tennessee Lookout – Sam Stockard | Published: 8/11/2023
Former Tennessee Sen. Brian Kelsey was sentenced to 21 months in prison for directing a scheme to funnel state campaign funds to his failed 2016 congressional race. His co-defendant in the scheme, Josh Smith, owner of The Standard Club, a Nashville restaurant frequented by Republican lawmakers, netted five years of probation, a $250,000 fine, and 720 hours of public service. Smith reached a plea agreement with federal prosecutors last November and was prepared to testify against Kelsey.
MSN – Juan Lozano (Associated Press) | Published: 8/15/2023
A judge called a new law unconstitutional that passed in the Republican-led Texas Legislature and will dictate how elections are run in the state’s most populous county, which is a Democratic stronghold and home to Houston. The law, which would abolish a position that oversees elections in Harris County, was temporarily blocked by state District Court Judge Karin Crump after county officials filed a lawsuit. But the judge’s order was put on hold after the state attorney general’s office filed a notice it will appeal to the Texas Supreme Court.
MSN – Stacy Parker (Virginian-Pilot) | Published: 8/15/2023
A vacant lot near Naval Air Station Oceana that is owned by a state senator could soon become a temporary laydown area for Dominion Energy’s $10 billion wind farm project. The Virginia Beach Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval. Sen. Bill DeSteph owns more than $250,000 of stock in Dominion Energy and has voted on legislation that affects electric and other utilities.
Yahoo News – Jeremy Peters (New York Times) | Published: 8/15/2023
The county board meeting in Wausau, Wisconsin, on August 12, 2021, got contentious fast. What happened about 12 minutes in, as members of the community squabbled over a resolution intended to promote diversity and inclusion, has become the subject of a bitter legal fight that threatens to bankrupt one of the few remaining sources of local news in the area. First Amendment experts say the case highlights a troubling trend of wealthy and powerful people using defamation law as retribution.
August 17, 2023 •
Elections Texas: “Judge Calls New Texas Election Law Unconstitutional but State Says It Will Appeal Ruling” by Juan Lozano (Associated Press) for MSN Ethics California: “Proposed Anaheim Reforms Sputter as City Council Disputes Corruption Probe Findings” by Hosam Elattar for Voice of OC Illinois: “Former […]
August 16, 2023 •
Campaign Finance National: “Sam Bankman-Fried Donated Millions to ‘Weed Out Anti-Crypto’ Politicians, New Evidence Says” by Peter Syme for Business Insider Oregon: “With New Secretary of State, Oregonians Will Get Greater Transparency on Campaign Finance Violations” by Nigel Jaquiss for Willamette Weekly Elections California: “Big […]
August 11, 2023 •
National/Federal FTX Founder Sam Bankman-Fried Still Slapped with Campaign Finance Charge, Prosecutors Say ABC News – Aaron Katersky and Max Zahn | Published: 8/8/2023 Federal prosecutors signaled their intention to hold cryptocurrency executive Sam Bankman-Fried accountable for alleged campaign finance violations despite […]
ABC News – Aaron Katersky and Max Zahn | Published: 8/8/2023
Federal prosecutors signaled their intention to hold cryptocurrency executive Sam Bankman-Fried accountable for alleged campaign finance violations despite dropping the charge on a technicality. Prosecutors accused Bankman-Fried of seeking influence in Washington and in state capitals by improperly using customer and investor money to make political donations.
Associated Press News – Alanna Durkin Richer | Published: 8/9/2023
Special counsel Jack Smith’s team obtained a search warrant in January for records related to Donald Trump’s Twitter account, and a judge levied a $350,000 fine on the company for missing the deadline to comply. Smith’s team repeatedly mentioned Trump’s tweets in an indictment that charges the former president with conspiring to subvert the will of voters and cling to power after he lost the 2020 election to Joe Biden.
DNyuz – Shane Goldmacher, Maggie Astor, and Luke Broadwater (New York Times) | Published: 8/7/2023
Former Vice President Mike Pence’s transformation from Donald Trump’s most loyal lieutenant to an indispensable, if reluctant, witness for his prosecution became clear when he emerged as perhaps the central character in an indictment accusing the former president of a criminal conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election. The indictment revealed Pence kept contemporaneous notes on the tumultuous period leading up to January 6, 2021. “You’re too honest,” Trump berated Pence as he refused to go along with the election plot, according to the indictment.
MSN – Perry Stein (Washington Post) | Published: 8/7/2023
U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon asked prosecutors to explain the use of grand juries in Florida and Washington in the classified documents case against Donald Trump even though charges were filed in South Florida. For many months, prosecutors questioned witnesses in the Florida case before a federal grand jury in Washington. The proceedings yielded much of the evidence at the crux of the case. But in May, the grand jury activity appeared to continue in Miami. Ultimately, prosecutors filed charges in a West Palm Beach courthouse in the same district as Miami and the area where Trump’s home is located.
MSN – Sabrina Rodriguez (Washington Post) | Published: 8/9/2023
A co-founder of March for Our Lives and the campaign manager who helped elect the first Gen Z member of Congress are teaming up to launch a new organization focused on getting more young progressives elected to office, primarily focusing on state lawmakers. Leaders We Deserve aims to help young people running for state Legislatures and Congress by providing candidates they endorse with the campaign knowledge – from fundraising to networking – and money to win.
MSN – Steve Contorno and Kit Maher (CNN) | Published: 8/8/2023
Gov. Ron DeSantis replaced campaign manager Generra Peck, ending speculation about her future leading his struggling White House bid and continuing a shakeup of his presidential campaign. In her place, DeSantis chose James Uthmeier, the chief of staff for his gubernatorial office, a trusted adviser known in Florida as an enforcer of DeSantis’s agenda. The latest move reflects a campaign still grasping for solutions to build support and recapture momentum of when DeSantis was surging after a dominant performance in his gubernatorial reelection.
MSN – Madison Hall (Business Insider) | Published: 8/8/2023
The FEC’s inspector general found Commissioner Trey Trainor did not commit any ethics violations after he participated in an “election integrity” event where he was labeled as a member of the “Trump Elections Team.” The inspector general said while it may appear he acted improperly, his billing was written without his knowledge, undermining “any appearance of impropriety.” The report notes Trainor and his counsel refused to cooperate with the government’s investigation.
MSN – Michael Scherer and Isaac Arnsdorf (Washington Post) | Published: 8/5/2023
A super PAC funding much of Ron DeSantis’s presidential effort has become a joint investor with his campaign in a private transportation management company that provides lower-cost airplane leases for the Florida governor. The unusual agreement, which allows both the DeSantis campaign and the Never Back Down to lease planes in a larger volume at lower market rates, is another way DeSantis and his allies have found to use unlimited donations to help cover the cost of activities historically borne directly by official campaigns.
MSN – Amy Gardner, Patrick Marley, Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 8/7/2023
Donald Trump’s defenders have long insisted his false elector scheme was legal because the slates met as mere placeholders, to be activated only if the campaign won in court. Prosecutors now charge that Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and others intended all along to use the electors to falsely claim the outcome of the election was in doubt, facilitating an effort to obstruct the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in Congress on January 6, 2021. Especially important may be the experience in Pennsylvania, where new interviews reveal the extent of discomfort with the plan by Trump electors.
MSN – Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 8/7/2023
A federal judge ordered a hearing over prosecutors’ demand that former President Trump keep government evidence turned over in his criminal election interference case secret until trial, as the two sides clashed anew over whether permitting Trump to discuss the case would taint potential jurors or intimidate witnesses. Prosecutors said they wanted to turn over evidence to speed the defense’s trial preparations but were concerned about Trump’s history of posting on social media about “witnesses, judges, attorneys and others” associated with cases against him.
MSN – Ann Marimow (Washington Post) | Published: 8/3/2023
Justice Elena Kagan said the Supreme Court, which has faced criticism over lavish, undisclosed free travel by some of her colleagues, is struggling to devise an ethics policy despite continued discussion. The criticism stems from expensive trips taken years ago by Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito Jr. underwritten by wealthy business executives and not disclosed in required annual financial reports. Kagan provided fresh insight into the struggle to craft a policy distinct from the ethics code that applies to other federal judges.
ProPublica – Brett Murphy and Alex Mierjeski | Published: 8/10/2023
During Clarence Thomas’s three decades on the Supreme Court, a cadre of industry titans and ultrawealthy executives have treated him to vacations aboard their yachts, ushered him into the premium suites at sporting events, and sent their private jets to fetch him – including, on more than one occasion, an entire 737. It is a stream of luxury that is both more extensive and from a wider circle than has been previously understood.
Seattle Times – Carl Hulse (New York Times) | Published: 8/8/2023
Proposals to censure lawmakers and impeach members of the Biden administration are piling up quickly in the U.S. House in an illustration of how once-solemn acts are becoming almost routine as the two parties seize on these procedures as part of their political combat. The proliferation of censures and cries for impeachment is troubling to some who see it as a threat to the standing of the institution as well as diminishing the weight such punishments are supposed to carry. Censure is the congressional penalty just below expulsion.
Yahoo News – Liz Champion (Politico) | Published: 8/9/2023
Ten state lawmakers nationwide switched parties in 2023. That includes six who jumped from one of the major parties to the other. In 2022, by contrast, just two state lawmakers changed affiliation between the Democrats and Republicans. The uptick in party transitions this year speaks to the growing polarization and party feuding inside state Capitols. In some states that saw allegiance flips, it had huge bearing on what legislation passed.
Yahoo News – Rebecca Davis O’Brien and Shane Goldmacher (New York Times) | Published: 8/9/2023
When WinRed, the company that processes nearly all online Republican campaign contributions, recently released its trove of donor data for the first half of the year, contributions were conspicuously absent for one presidential candidate: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. It was no technical glitch. The DeSantis campaign worked with WinRed in a way that prevented the disclosure of donor information, ensuring the campaign’s small donors would remain anonymous.
Yahoo News – Jo Becker and Julie Tate (New York Times) | Published: 8/5/2023
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s Prevost Marathon cost $267,230, according to title history records. Thomas, who has told friends how he scrimped and saved to afford the motor coach, did not buy it on his own. In fact, the purchase was underwritten, at least in part, by Anthony Welters, a close friend who made his fortune in the health care industry. He provided Thomas with financing that experts said a bank would have been unlikely to extend, not only because Thomas was already carrying a lot of debt, but because the Marathon brand’s high level of customization makes its used motor coaches difficult to value.
From the States and Municipalities
Anchorage Daily News – Becky Bohrer (Associated Press) | Published: 8/3/2023
The Alaska Department of Law is proposing rules that would allow the state to represent a governor, lieutenant governor, or attorney general in complaints against them alleging ethics violations. Currently, they must hire outside attorneys to represent them in such matters. Under the proposed rules, those officeholders could decline representation by the department and hire their own attorneys if they wished.
MSN – Mary Jo Pitzl (Arizona Republic) | Published: 8/7/2023
The interim director of the Maricopa County Democratic Party said he launched an investigation into the party’s handling of a $24,000 business deal that has led to accusations of cronyism, altered postal records, and cover-ups. The deal appeared to be intended to benefit the former executive director’s fiancé. The party spent $24,480 for a mass mailing before the November 2022 election. But the mailer never reached the mailboxes of the 118,000 Democrats for whom it was intended, and the money was only refunded months later, after the party’s attorneys demanded repayment.
MSN – Michael Slaton (Orange County Register) | Published: 8/8/2023
Anaheim Mayor Ashleigh Aitken announced her plans for the city council to start discussing several new reforms in the wake of the release of an independent investigation into corruption at City Hall, including several changes focused on transparency. “The release of last week’s independent report confirmed the wrongdoing that many suspected was going on for years,” Aitken said in a news release. “… Restoring transparency and public confidence will take time, and reforms will likely come in stages.”
MSN – Michael Slaton and Tony Saavedra (Orange County Register) | Published: 8/2/2023
Independent investigators hired by Anaheim said they found numerous potential violations of the city’s lobbying laws in the last decade, in what they described as a “pattern of behavior” by lobbyists. A report on corruption highlighted former Mayor Curt Pringle and Jeff Flint, the former chief executive of Core Strategic Group, saying they failed to report their lobbying activity to the city clerk, which investigators said was potentially a crime of perjury. To combat the issues described in their report, investigators recommended Anaheim create a city ombudsman/ethics officer, whose duties would include monitoring the lobbying reports submitted.
San Jose Spotlight – Jana Kadah | Published: 8/4/2023
In San Jose, when you leave a job working for the city you are barred from lobbying anyone at City Hall for at least two years. But a handful of ex-employees are exceptions to the rule. The latest example is Allie Hughes, a former staffer for San Jose Councilperson David Cohen. She recently left the city to work as a lobbyist for Canyon Snow Consulting. City Attorney Nora Frimann recommended the exemption, citing Hughes’ limited time with the city.
MSN – Laura Meckler (Washington Post) | Published: 8/9/2023
After days of confusion, the Florida education commissioner said high schools may teach Advanced Placement Psychology without running afoul of Florida law, including material on sexual orientation and gender identity. Commissioner Manny Díaz Jr. had told districts previously that the class could be offered, but only if material on those topics was excluded. Large school districts across Florida responded by dropping the course and began a stressful process of quickly preparing instructors to teach new curriculum.
Yahoo News – Charles Frazier (WFTV) | Published: 8/9/2023
A former Kissimmee city commissioner who was accused of entering a 2022 race for the Osceola County Commission as a “ghost candidate” was sentenced to jail for campaign finance violations. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, their investigation into Carlos Irizarry’s campaign began when they were notified of allegations that he was offered money to enter the race only to affect the outcome by taking votes from opposing candidate Jackie Espinosa.
Yahoo News – Mary Ellen Klas (Miami Herald) | Published: 8/9/2023
A federal judge struck down a Florida law that restricted state and local officials lobbying other government bodies while in office. U.S. District Court Judge Beth Bloom sided with officials who argued the language in a 2018 ballot measure was too broad and poorly defined to comply with First Amendment protections on free speech. Bloom left intact another portion of the law that bans elected and appointed government officials from lobbying the agencies they represented for six years after leaving them.
MSN – Jason Meisner and Ray Long (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 8/6/2023
As the federal investigation into then-House Speaker Michael Madigan was heating up two years ago, prosecutors assured Tim Mapes, Madigan’s onetime chief of staff, would not be charged as long as he told the truth to a grand jury. But prosecutors allege Mapes lied repeatedly in his testimony in an ill-fated attempt to protect his longtime boss. Now, Mapes, a key member of Madigan’s inner circle, is on trial on perjury charges. His indictment marked an intriguing power play by the U.S. attorney’s office in what has become one of the biggest political corruption scandals in state history.
Yahoo News – Jason Alatidd (Topeka Capital-Journal) | Published: 8/3/2023
A Kansas lawmaker wants to rewrite conflict-of-interest laws in response to a state employee bidding on and winning a consulting contract. Paul Hughes, the former Commerce Department deputy secretary, formed Catapult Kansas while still employed by the state. He then bid on a consulting contract – he was the only bidder – and was awarded the contract for $180,000 a year.
The Center Square – Christian Wade | Published: 8/3/2023
Maine voters will have a say in whether foreign corporations should be allowed to spend money to sway the outcome. Supporters say the ballot question is aimed at eliminating a loophole in state law that allows foreign governments to spend money on referendum campaigns. Foreign entities cannot contribute to political candidates under both federal and state election laws.
Bridge Michigan – Jonathan Oosting | Published: 8/3/2023
Stefanie Lambert Junttila, a pro-Trump attorney who challenged 2020 election results across the country, was charged with four felonies stemming from an alleged plot to illegally access Michigan voting machines. Lambert Junttila is the third suspect indicted by a grand jury in special prosecutor D.J. Hilson’s probe of the alleged tampering scheme. Matthew DePerno, the 2020 Republican nominee for state attorney general, was charged along with former state Rep. Daire Rendon.
Yahoo News – Wicker Perlis (Jackson Clarion-Ledger) | Published: 8/4/2023
The treasurer for the lieutenant governor campaign of state Sen. Chris McDaniel is under investigation by the office of Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch. A press release did not mention the McDaniel campaign directly, naming Thomas Datwyler, a Wisconsin-based political consultant who serves as the campaign treasurer, and Invest in Mississippi, a PAC Datwyler created in July. It is against the law for campaigns and PACs to coordinate or communicate with each other.
MSN – Taylor Avery (Las Vegas Review-Journal) | Published: 8/9/2023
Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo plans to appeal a recent state ethics board decision that found he violated the law by using his sheriff’s badge and uniform during his campaign for governor. Ethics Commission members voted to fine Lombardo $20,000 and censure him for four violations of state law barring the use of government time, property, or equipment for personal use.
MSN – Ted Sherman (NJ Advance Media) | Published: 8/7/2023
The New Jersey Supreme Court said candidates who do not hold elected office can be charged under the state’s public official bribery laws. The court sided with state officials by ruling candidates do not need to win elections to be subject to the “plain words” of the bribery statute. The law was challenged by Jason O’Donnell, a former state lawmaker and candidate for mayor of Bayonne, who allegedly accepted $10,000 in cash from an individual in exchange for the promise to appoint them as tax counsel for the city.
New York – Hochul’s Husband Is Leaving Delaware North
Albany Times Union – Joshua Solomon | Published: 8/4/2023
William Hochul Jr., New York’s first gentleman, is departing his position as senior vice president and general counsel at Delaware North, a job that had led to a number of thorny issues for the governor. Hiswork at the high-powered gaming company has led to Gov. Kathy Hochul to recuse herself from matters that veer too close to that sector, including recent negotiations with the Seneca Nation over a contentious gaming compact.
MSN – Nicholas Fandos (New York Times) | Published: 8/7/2023
We Decide New York, a small but devoted group of mostly older women, banded together online to defend then-Gov Andrew Cuomo from a cascade of sexual misconduct claims that led to his resignation in August 2021. But it turns out the group’s online activity had secretly been ordered by someone even closer to the former governor’s cause: Madeline Cuomo, his sister. Documents give unusual insight into how far members of one of America’s most storied political families were willing to go to rehabilitate a fallen scion and humiliate those they believed had wronged him.
MSN – Molly Crane-Newman, Graham Rayman, and Chris Sommerfeldt (New York Daily News) | Published: 8/9/2023
Howard Redmond, who as an New York City Police Department inspector who oversaw for Mayor Bill de Blasio and his family’s around-the-clock security, pleaded guilty to felony charges stemming from his work for City Hall. Assistant District Attorney Samantha Dworken said Redmond admitted to ignoring investigators and then hiding and deleting evidence. The two-year probe found de Blasio’s bodyguards operated like glorified chauffeurs, flying in the face of city ethics laws barring public servants from using city resources for personal benefit.
MSN – Toluse Olorunnipa, Rachel Roubein, and Patrick Marley (Washington Post) | Published: 8/9/2023
Ohio voters rejected a ballot measure that would have made it more difficult to amend the state constitution ahead of a November vote to ensure access to abortion. The issue of abortion has become a rare consistent source of electoral victories for Democrats over the past year. The result in Ohio, coming after voters in other Republican-leaning states like Kentucky and Kansas also rejected GOP efforts to restrict abortion, underscores how the issue has already reshaped the political landscape for 2024, Democratic pollster Celinda Lake said.
Ohio Capital Journal – Marty Schladen | Published: 8/8/2023
In early 2019, news of financial ties between FirstEnergy and the man incoming-Gov. Mike DeWine named to lead the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio began to spread. As it did, FirstEnergy’s top executives feared they would not have a regulator they could control, according to court documents. As it happened, the nominee, Sam Randazzo, ended up being appointed to the commission after being paid $4.3 million by FirstEnergy. He proceeded to help draft a law providing the utility with a $1.3 billion bailout.
Oregon Capital Chronicle – Julia Shumway | Published: 8/7/2023
Oregon lawmakers will ask voters to weigh in on big questions in 2024, including how voting will work, whether lawmakers should be able to impeach top officials, and whether elected officials should receive raises. Before the legislative session ended in June, lawmakers voted to send three proposed laws to voters on their November 2024 ballots. More referrals could be coming. A majority of Democratic legislators support an effort to change quorum requirements for the House and Senate to prevent future walkouts like the one that just stalled the Legislature for six weeks.
MSN – Andrew Jeong (Washington Post) | Published: 8/3/2023
Two Tennessee Democrats who were expelled from the state Legislature in April over their participation in a gun-control protest won back their seats. Reps. Justin Pearson and Justin Jones easily defeated their Republican opponents in districts that lean Democratic. Pearson won more than 90 percent of the votes. Jones received more than 75 percent.
MSN – Meagan Vazquez (Washington Post) | Published: 8/10/2023
A coalition of civil rights organizations and Tennessee residents filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s recently enacted congressional and state Senate redistricting plans, asserting the state violated the U.S. Constitution by diluting the voting power of African Americans and other voters of color in the state. The plaintiffs argue the plan unfairly fractured the power of Black voters and other minority voters in the Nashville and Memphis areas.
MSN – Ella McCarthy (Austin American-Statesman) | Published: 8/5/2023
A recent appointee to the Austin Ethics Review Commission is married to a current city council member. The commission conducts hearings and makes rulings on complaints alleging violations of the provisions within the commission’s jurisdiction, including complaint against city council members. Mayor Kirk Watson does not believe there are any legal or ethical concerns with the appointment, and Councilperson Paige Ellis and Espinoza feel their marriage will not affect Espinoza’s actions on the commission.
August 9, 2023 •
Elections National: “DeSantis Replaces 2024 Campaign Manager in Continued Shakeup” by Steve Contorno and Kit Maher (CNN) for MSN Ohio: “Ohio Voters Reject Higher Bar for Altering Constitution, a Win for Abortion Rights Supporters” by Patrick Marley and Rachel Roubein (Washington Post) for MSN […]
National: “DeSantis Replaces 2024 Campaign Manager in Continued Shakeup” by Steve Contorno and Kit Maher (CNN) for MSN
Ohio: “Ohio Voters Reject Higher Bar for Altering Constitution, a Win for Abortion Rights Supporters” by Patrick Marley and Rachel Roubein (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “Mayor Aitken Announces Reforms Anaheim City Council Will Start Considering” by Michael Slaton (Orange County Register) for MSN
National: “Supreme Court Struggling to Agree on Ethics Policy, Justice Kagan Says” by Ann Marimow (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “FEC Commissioner Trey Trainor Cleared of Ethics Violation After Insider Reporting Spurred Investigation” by Madison Hall (Business Insider) for MSN
New York: “The Secret Hand Behind the Women Who Stood by Cuomo? His Sister.” by Nicholas Fandos (New York Times) for MSN
National: “Once Rare, Impeachments and Censures Have Become the Norm in Congress” by Carl Hulse (New York Times) for Seattle Times
Kansas: “Kansas Commerce Deputy’s Lucrative Contract May Trigger Stronger Conflict of Interest Laws” by Jason Alatidd (Topeka Capital-Journal) for Yahoo News
August 4, 2023 •
National/Federal Trump Aide Carlos De Oliveira’s Journey from Failed Witness to Defendant MSN – Devlin Barrett, Spencer Hsu, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 7/28/2023 Carlos De Oliveira was indicted along with Donald Trump and Walt Nauta, all three accused of […]
MSN – Devlin Barrett, Spencer Hsu, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 7/28/2023
Carlos De Oliveira was indicted along with Donald Trump and Walt Nauta, all three accused of seeking to delete security footage at Mar-a-Lago that the Justice Department was requesting as part of its classified documents investigation. De Oliveira’s actions at Mar-a-Lago, and later statements to federal investigators, shows how the longtime Trump employee has become a key figure in the investigation, one whose alleged actions could bolster the obstruction case against the former president.
MSN – Josh Dawsey, Devlin Barrett, and Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 7/29/2023
Former President Trump’s political group spent more than $40 million on legal costs in the first half of 2023 to defend Trump, his advisers, and others, financing legal work that has drawn scrutiny from prosecutors about potential conflicts-of-interest between Trump and witnesses. While interviewing potential witnesses associated with Trump, prosecutors have raised pointed questions about who is paying for their lawyers and why.
MSN – Paul Farhi (Washington Post) | Published: 8/1/2023
Haunted by a sense that the news is relentlessly toxic, once-loyal readers and viewers have been gradually ebbing away, posing a persistent threat to the news business. Researchers say “news avoidance” could be a response to an age of hyper-information. Digital media has made news ubiquitous and instantly available from thousands of sources representing every ideology, geography, and language. Much of it, people say, drives feelings of depression, anger, anxiety, or helplessness.
MSN – Caroline Anders (Washington Post) | Published: 7/29/2023
A federal judge dismissed Donald Trump’s lawsuit against CNN, in which the former president said the network defamed him by associating him with Adolf Hitler. Trump argued by using the phrase the “big lie” in reference to his unfounded claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, the network created an unfair association between him and the Nazi regime. Hitler and Nazi minister of propaganda Joseph Goebbels used the term as a propaganda tool that involved repeating a falsehood until the public started to believe it.
MSN – Devlin Barrett, Spencer Hsu, Perry Stein, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 8/1/2023
A grand jury indicted former President Trump for a raft of alleged crimes in his brazen efforts to overturn Joe Biden’s election victory, the latest legal and political aftershock stemming from the riot at the U.S. Capitol. The charges represent the third indictment of the former president filed since March, setting the stage for one of the stranger presidential contests in history, in which a major-party front-runner may have to alternate between campaign stops and courtroom hearings over the next year.
MSN – Isaac Stanley-Becker and Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 8/1/2023
When Donald Trump was indicted and accused of trying to subvert the results of the 2020 presidential election, he found himself in the unenviable company of defendants charged under a criminal statute dating to the Reconstruction era. The statute, Section 241 of Title 18 of the U.S. Code, was originally adopted as part of the Enforcement Act of 1870. It was the first in a series of measures known as the Ku Klux Klan Acts designed to protect rights guaranteed by the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments.
MSN – Michael Macagnone (Roll Call) | Published: 8/2/2023
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito Jr. started a flurry of conversation among judicial and congressional experts when he expressed a self-proclaimed “controversial view” that Congress does not have “the authority to regulate the Supreme Court – period.” Those experts generally agree that such a broad comment on its face is not correct, since Congress does have authority to regulate the court’s docket, budget, and even how many justices there are. But the specifics get trickier when it comes to whether Congress has the authority to pass a code of ethics for the Supreme Court, which congressional Democrats have pushed for this year.
MSN – Mike McIntire (New York Times) | Published: 7/30/2023
Long before the National Rifle Association (NRA) tightened its grip on Congress and won over the Supreme Court, U.S. Rep. John Dingell Jr. had a plan. It would transform the NRA from an outdated club of sportsmen into a lobbying juggernaut that would enforce elected officials’ allegiance, derail legislation behind the scenes, and redefine the legal landscape. Dingell was one of at least nine senators and representatives who served as leaders of the NRA, often prodding it to action. At seemingly every hint of a legislative threat, they stepped up, documents show, helping erect a firewall that impedes gun control today.
Seattle Times – Rebecca Davis O’Brien, and Alexandra Berzon (New York Times) | Published: 7/28/2023
U.S. Sen. Tim Scott has more campaign money than most of his Republican presidential rivals, and he has not been shy about spending it. Where that money is ultimately going, however, is a mystery. Scott spent about $6.6 million from April through June but most of it cannot be traced to an actual vendor. Instead, roughly $5.3 million went to two shadowy entities: newly formed limited liability companies with no online presence and no record of other federal election work. Their business records show they were set up by the same person in the months before Scott entered the race.
Yahoo News – Tracey Tully (New York Times) | Published: 8/1/2023
U.S. Robert Menendez is under investigation by the Justice Department for the second time in less than a decade, and this time, his wife is also in prosecutors’ sights. The new inquiry appears to be focused at least in part on the possibility that either the senator or his wife received undisclosed gifts from a company run by a friend of Menendez, and those gifts might have been given in exchange for political favors. Unlike her husband, Nadine Menendez has lived a mainly private life.
From the States and Municipalities
CalMatters – Sameea Kamal and Jeremia Kimelman | Published: 8/3/2023
An analysis shows local governments, water districts, and transit agencies in California have spent nearly $24 million on lobbying the state this year, accounting for about 10 percent of the more than $233 million total. Not all local government agencies lobby the state, but those that do tend to want to influence policies. They also seek more money from the state budget. Some national research shows the advocacy pays off as cities that do lobby receive between seven percent and 9 percent more per person in state funding than those that do not.
California – By Several Measures, the FPPC Is Outnumbered
Capitol Weekly – Brian Joseph | Published: 8/1/2023
The California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) finds violations of the Political Reform Act in a few different ways, through complaints filed with the agency by members of the public, referrals from other agencies, proactive cases agency staff see in the media, and through a limited number of audits of disclosures by staff. Ann Ravel, a former FPPC chairperson, said that in a “perfect world,” the agency would have the resources and staff to proactively review many more disclosures filed with the state.
MSN – Christopher Cadelago and Melanie Mason (Politico) | Published: 8/2/2023
A ballot initiative likely to come before California voters next year would overhaul the state’s open records law, forcing unprecedented scrutiny into lobbying activities at the Capitol, and ensuring sexual harassment allegations against lawmakers are public. Bob Stern, who co-authored the state’s political reform law in 1974, reviewed the proposed measure and pointed to support from the public in further scrutinizing lawmakers’ interactions with lobbyists as well as more information into legislative probes.
MSN – Nathan Fenno and Gabriel San Román (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 7/31/2023
An outside investigation into alleged corruption in Anaheim detailed Disneyland area resort interests improperly steering City Hall policymaking. The report noted numerous lobbyist meetings that were not reported as required and raised concerns about the close relationship between the city and the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce. It characterized former Mayor Harry Sidhu’s Anaheim First initiative as “nothing more than a fig leaf for potential future public corruption and the wrongful diversion of public funds.”
San Francisco Examiner – Adam Shanks | Published: 7/28/2023
San Francisco’s ethics watchdog was spared the significant reductions to its budget first proposed by Mayor London Breed. The budget agreement finalized by the board of supervisors and Breed restored $2.3 million to the commission’s funding. While the money is only a small portion of the city’s budget, supervisors and ethics panel leaders stressed the importance of its work, particularly given that 2024 is a major election year.
Broward.US – Anthony Man (South Florida Sun-Sentinel) | Published: 7/26/2023
The Fort Lauderdale commissioners who welcome Inter Miami superstar Lionel Messi are reimbursing the soccer team. The Fort Lauderdale leaders, along with elected officials from Miami-Dade County, were hosted by the team in a VIP area at DRV PNK Stadium for the event. Some were able to talk with and get pictures with the new player and team co-owner David Beckham. City Attorney D’Wayne Spence said those who attended should pay. He also cited state law requiring commissioners to report gifts worth more than $100 and a prohibition on accepting gifts from lobbyists or vendors.
Seattle Times – Sarah Mervosh (New York Times) | Published: 7/28/2023
When Florida set out to revamp its standards for teaching Black history this spring, a natural place to turn would have been the state’s African American History Task Force. The volunteer task force – a group of Black educators, Democratic politicians, and community leaders, appointed by the commissioner of education – has helped shape African American history instruction in Florida for more than two decades. But in updating educational standards to comply with a new law that limits how racism and other aspects of history can be taught, state officials largely bypassed the task force.
Yahoo News – Jeffrey Schweers (Orlando Sentinel) | Published: 7/28/2023
If it had not been for a fender bender on Interstate 75 near Chattanooga, Tennessee, most folks would not know Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was using state government vehicles for his 2024 run for president. The collision draws a curtain back on the campaign’s use of state resources. But finding out who is paying for it is nearly impossible thanks to a new law passed by the Legislature to protect the governor’s travel records from public view.
Yahoo News – Jeff Burlew (Tallahassee Democrat) | Published: 8/3/2023
Last year, 29 individuals registered to lobby city commissioners and staff in Tallahassee. They paid their annual $25 registration fees and disclosed their clients and interests. But so far this year, only six lobbyists have signed up, marking a 77 percent year-to-date drop and an all-time low in registration numbers since the city’s lobbying ordinance was enacted in 2011. The anemic registration numbers raise questions about the effectiveness of the city’s lobbying ordinance and point to the possibility of unregistered lobbyists skirting requirements.
DNyuz – Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim (New York Times) | Published: 7/31/2023
A Georgia judge forcefully rejected an effort by former President Trump to throw out evidence collected by a special grand jury and to remove the current prosecutor from the investigation into Trump’s attempts to overturn his 2020 election loss in the state. Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney seemed to have little patience for the arguments from Trump’ legal team and suggested Trump’ lawyers were gumming up the legal process with frivolous filings.
Honolulu Civil Beat – Chad Blair and Patti Epler | Published: 8/2/2023
Despite a new law banning fundraising during the legislative session in Hawaii, it did not halt the flow of campaign donations to many state senators and representatives. A review of the latest campaign finance disclosures illustrates major special interests continue to give generously to lawmakers, especially those who wield a lot of power.
Yahoo News – Jason Alatidd (Topeka Capital-Journal) | Published: 7/30/2023
A top economic development employee at the Kansas Department of Commerce bid on and won a $180,000 a year contract to consult for the agency. State officials maintain there was no conflict-of-interest in awarding the consulting contract to Paul Hughes, whose contract went into effect two weeks before he left his government job. While Hughes was still employed by the state, he formed his own company, Catapult Kansas LLC. He then bid on and was awarded a contract to consult for the Commerce Department on megaprojects.
Yahoo News – Andrew Bahl (Topeka Capital-Journal) | Published: 7/28/2023
Often, if a person incurs a low-level violation of the state’s campaign finance or lobbying laws such as filing the required reports late, they will ask the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission to waive or lower the fine associated with that offense. While some factors, such as an illness or an inability to pay the fine, almost always result in a waived or reduced fee, other times relatively similar cases see disparate outcomes. Now, the agency is taking a look at its policies to ensure it remains fair.
Maryland Daily Record – Madeleine O’Neill | Published: 7/31/2023
The onetime treasurer for a Baltimore County political slate who admitted to embezzling tens of thousands of dollars in campaign funds will serve six months in jail. William McCollum stole money from the Baltimore County Victory Slate and the finance committee of former Baltimore County Councilperson Cathy Bevins. He was accused of stealing funds through direct payments to pay his personal credit card bill and by depositing checks made out to the fund or to vendors into his personal bank account.
MSN – Patrick Marley and Aaron Schaffer (Washington Post) | Published: 8/1/2023
A former Michigan lawmaker and a losing candidate for state attorney general were charged with felonies as part of an investigation into the improper acquisition of voting machines. Special prosecutor D.J. Hilson has been looking into efforts by a group of conservatives to persuade election clerks to give them voting machines as they attempted to prove the 2020 presidential election had been wrongly called for Joe Biden. The group never turned up any proof, and courts in dozens of cases across the country ruled the election was properly decided.
MSN – Henry Gomez (NBC News) | Published: 8/3/2023
Tim Sheehy is running in one of the country’s most competitive U.S. Senate races while also running an aerial firefighting company that is heavily dependent on federal contracts. Bridger Aerospace has explicit rules about political contributions and activities. Employees are not permitted to engage in politics while on company time. There are also rules requiring legal reviews and approval before company funds can be spent on behalf of candidates or campaigns. Officials with Bridger and the Sheehy campaign did not directly address questions about how the candidate is complying with corporate accountability measures.
Nebraska Examiner – Paul Hammel | Published: 7/28/2023
The Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission hired a long-time staffer as its new executive director. David Hunter, who has worked for the commission since 2000, will succeed Frank Daley, who is retiring in September.
Nevada Independent – Carly Sauvageau | Published: 7/30/2023
The Nevada Commission on Ethics was thrust into the spotlight when it decided Gov. Joe Lombardo violated state ethics laws by wearing a sheriff’s badge in campaign ads and was issued a $20,000 fine – the largest ever since the commission’s creation in 1975 – as well as a censure. City councils to county commissions, public officers, and employees in the executive branch are overseen and occasionally investigated by the commission.
New Jersey – Brindle Will Retire from Top ELEC Post
New Jersey Globe – David Wildstein | Published: 7/31/2023
Jeff Brindle, the executive director of the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, will retire. Brindle’s decision comes more than five months after Gov. Phil Murphy had sought to oust Brindle from his post earlier this year over an email sent to a staffer last fall that mocked National Coming Out Day. He will leave at the end of the year. Brindle is suing Murphy and some top aides over their bid to force him out.
Yahoo News – Dan McKay (Albuquerque Journal) | Published: 8/1/2023
A PAC agreed to pay a $1,000 civil penalty and disclose its financial activity in a new report after New Mexico’s independent ethics agency accused it of violating campaign finance laws in a 2022 legislative race. The New Mexico Values PAC disclosed just $2,500 in contributions and spending. But the ethics panel said it is unlikely the PAC fully disclosed its activity.
Spectrum News – Nick Reisman | Published: 7/27/2023
Republicans in the New York General Assembly are challenging a pending limit on the amount of money state lawmakers can earn outside of their jobs as elected officials. The lawsuit seeks to strike down the $35,000 cap, set to take effect in early 2025. Lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul approved a legislative pay raise from $110,000 to $142,000 last year.
North Carolina – Inside the Party Switch that Blew Up North Carolina Politics
Seattle Times – Kate Kelly and David Perlmutt (New York Times) | Published: 7/30/2023
Rep. Tricia Cotham’s win in the November general election for the North Carolina House helped Democrats lock in enough seats to prevent, by a single vote, a Republican supermajority in the chamber. Three months after Cotham took office in January, she delivered a mortal shock to Democrats and abortion rights supporters. She switched parties and then cast a decisive vote to enact a 12-week limit on most abortions, the state’s most restrictive abortion policy in 50 years.
North Carolina – ‘Sophisticated Scam’ Nabs $50k from Stein’s Gubernatorial Campaign
WRAL – Travis Fain | Published: 7/31/2023
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein’s gubernatorial campaign was the victim of a “sophisticated scam” that cost the candidate’s operation about $50,000. A campaign finance filing, breaking down donations and expenses from the first six months of 2023, lists a $50,438.77 expense in January identified as a “fraudulent wire transfer payment.”
Yahoo News – Jazper Lu (Raleigh News and Observer) | Published: 7/30/2023
Some North Carolina lawmakers attended the 50th annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The politically conservative organization regularly convenes state legislators from around the U.S., mostly Republicans, with private sector representatives to write and publish “model bills,” draft legislation that can then be used by anyone. Historically, some North Carolina policies have gone on to form the building blocks for ALEC model legislation. Several of the state’s lawmakers have served in top ALEC leadership positions.
Missouri Independent – Zachary Roth and Morgan Trau | Published: 8/2/2023
Ohioans over the last century have used the state’s ballot initiative process to pass constitutional amendments that raised the minimum wage, integrated the National Guard, and removed the phrase “white male” from the constitution’s list of voter eligibility requirements. Now, lawmakers want to make it much tougher for an initiative to be approved. Opponents of the effort, who are leading in the polls, say doing so would undermine democracy. Whoever prevails, the verdict could reverberate far beyond the Buckeye State, as other states eye limits on ballot initiatives.
Yahoo News – Zach Schonfeld (The Hill) | Published: 8/1/2023
A state judge in Pennsylvania ruled an election worker cannot sue former President Trump over statements he made sowing doubt in the 2020 election results while in office, finding the statements are protected by presidential immunity. Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas Judge Michael Erdos said Trump was immune for a tweet he issued and comments he made remotely from the White House during a Pennsylvania Senate committee hearing. The statements, made without evidence, claimed fraud in Pennsylvania’s election count.
MSN – Dylan McGuinness (Houston Chronicle) | Published: 8/2/2023
A dozen candidates running for elected positions in Houston failed to file required campaign finance reports in July, continuing a sloppy reporting period for the slate of candidates hoping to lead the city. The omissions account for nearly one in five of candidates running in the November elections, after about 25 percent failed to file the mandatory reports in January as well. Top mayoral contenders also had to refund contributions from those who exceeded the city’s cap and from prohibited city contractors.
MSN – Dylan Baddour (Inside Climate News) | Published: 8/1/2023
When an oil company sought pollution permits in Texas to expand its export terminal beside Lavaca Bay, a coalition produced an analysis alleging the company, Max Midstream, underrepresented expected emissions to avoid a more rigorous permitting process and stricter pollution control requirements. In response, Max Midstream claimed the groups and citizens involved had no right to bring forth a challenge because they lived more than one mile from the Seahawk Oil Terminal. But the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality says the one-mile test cited by the company’s lawyers does not exist.
MSN – Kai Uyehara (Kitsap Sun) | Published: 7/28/2023
Washington Rep. Tarra Simmons was cited by a state legislative ethics board for accepting pay for speaking at Vanderbilt University about her experience as an incarcerated woman, an inspiring personal history that has been widely documented but ran afoul of rules when it was entwined with Simmons’ role as an elected official. Simmons said she was unaware of the state rules before accepting $1,000 for a 2021 speech. She was ordered to return the money and fined $250, which was waived by the state ethics board.
ABC News – Scott Bauer (Associated Press) | Published: 8/2/2023
A lawsuit asks Wisconsin’s newly liberal-controlled state Supreme Court to throw out Republican-drawn legislative maps as unconstitutional, the latest legal challenge of many nationwide that could upset political boundary lines before the 2024 election. The lawsuit asks that all 132 state lawmakers be up for election that year in newly drawn districts. In Senate districts that are midway through a four-year term in 2024, there would be a special election with the winner serving two years. Then the regular four-year cycle would resume in 2026.
August 1, 2023 •
Campaign Finance National: “Trump PAC Has Spent More Than $40 Million on Legal Costs This Year for Himself, Others” by Josh Dawsey, Devlin Barrett, and Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) for MSN Maryland: “Treasurer for Baltimore County Campaign Committees Sentenced for Stealing Funds” by Madeleine […]
National: “Trump PAC Has Spent More Than $40 Million on Legal Costs This Year for Himself, Others” by Josh Dawsey, Devlin Barrett, and Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) for MSN
Maryland: “Treasurer for Baltimore County Campaign Committees Sentenced for Stealing Funds” by Madeleine O’Neill for Maryland Daily Record
Georgia: “Judge Rejects Trump’s Effort to Short-Circuit Georgia Election Case” by Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim (New York Times) for DNyuz
Florida: “Fort Lauderdale Commissioners Will Pay After All, After Attending Lionel Messi’s Unveiling” by Anthony Man (South Florida Sun-Sentinel) for Broward.US
Nevada: “Indy Explains: How does the Nevada Commission on Ethics work?” by Carly Sauvageau for Nevada Independent
Washington: “State Ethics Board Cites Rep. Simmons for Speaking Engagement Compensation” by Kai Uyehara (Kitsap Sun) for MSN
North Carolina: “Inside the Party Switch that Blew Up North Carolina Politics” by Kate Kelly and David Perlmutt (New York Times) for Seattle Times
Kansas: “Kansas $180K Megaproject Consulting Job Went to Deputy Secretary’s LLC” by Jason Alatidd (Topeka Capital-Journal) for Yahoo News
July 28, 2023 •
National/Federal Senate GOP Leader McConnell Briefly Leaves News Conference After Freezing Up Midsentence Associated Press News – Mary Clare Jalonick | Published: 7/26/2023 Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell briefly left his own press conference after stopping his remarks midsentence and staring off […]
Associated Press News – Mary Clare Jalonick | Published: 7/26/2023
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell briefly left his own press conference after stopping his remarks midsentence and staring off into space for several seconds. McConnell was out of the Senate for almost six weeks earlier this year after falling and hitting his head. He was hospitalized for several days, and suffered a concussion and fractured a rib. His speech has sounded more halting in recent weeks, prompting questions among some of his colleagues about his health.
DNyuz – David Yaffe-Bellany and Matthew Goldstein (New York Times) | Published: 7/27/2023
Federal prosecutors pursuing the criminal case against the cryptocurrency mogul Sam Bankman-Fried said they were dropping a charge that he violated campaign finance rules. Bankman-Fried was charged with fraud and campaign finance violations after the collapse of his company, FTX. He was extradited to the U.S. from the Bahamas, where FTX was based. But prosecutors said they had been informed by officials in the Bahamas the nation’s government had not intended to extradite Bankman-Fried on the campaign finance charge.
DNyuz – Steve Eder, Abbie Van Sickle, and Elizabeth Harris (New York Times) | Published: 7/27/2023
In recent months, media reports have highlighted a lack of transparency at the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as the absence of a binding ethics code for the justices. The reports included Justice Clarence Thomas’s travels and relationships with wealthy benefactors. The justices’ book deals are not prohibited under the law, and income from the advances and royalties are reported on annual financial disclosure forms. But the deals have become lucrative for the justices, including for those who have used court staff members to help research and promote their books.
DNyuz – Grace Ashford (New York Times) | Published: 7/26/2023
In the years since U.S. Rep. George Santos first ran for the House in 2020, he has become adept at finding ways to extract money from politics. He founded a political consulting group that he marketed to other Republicans. He sought to profit from the Covid crisis, using campaign connections. He also solicited investments for and from political donors, raising ethical questions. A review of his political career found several previously unreported examples of how he sought to use the connections he made as a candidate for public office to enrich himself.
MSN – Jeremy Merrill and Hanna Kozlowska (Washington Post) | Published: 7/25/2023
While the legitimacy of the gold retirement investment industry is the subject of numerous lawsuits, including allegations of fraud by regulators, its advertising has become a mainstay of right-wing media. The industry spends millions of dollars a year to reach viewers of Fox, Newsmax, and other conservative outlets. For years, gold IRA industry advertising has echoed accusations against Democratic politicians commonly found in news segments on conservative outlets. The ads tout the coins as a safe haven from economic uncertainty and social upheaval.
MSN – Michael Macagnone and Mary Ellen McIntire (Roll Call) | Published: 7/25/2023
There is a series of courtroom redistricting battles playing out in about a dozen states. Some new maps could be drawn in time to change the electoral landscape in 2024, when Democrats need a net gain of five seats to take control of the House. But others may still be facing challenges as that election goes forward. One attorney said drawing new districts just once a decade after the census comes out is almost passé, and ongoing litigation is the new normal.
MSN – Michael Macagnone (Roll Call) | Published: 7/20/2023
The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a bill that would place new transparency rules on U.S. Supreme Court filings, place new recusal standards on the justices, and require the court to adopt a code of ethics. The party-line vote came as Democrats said Congress must act because reports about undisclosed gifts and travel received by justices had stained the institution. Republicans called the measure an attack on the legitimacy of a conservative-controlled court that has ruled in ways Democrats do not like.
MSN – Taylor Giorno (The Hill) | Published: 7/21/2023
K Street’s top lobbying firms reported strong earnings in a quarter marked by uncertainty. Lobbyists said they have been hard at work on some of the must-pass bills in the 118th Congress, including the National Defense Authorization Act, the Federal Aviation Authorization, and the Farm Bill reauthorization. Against the backdrop of the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and the narrowly avoided debt ceiling crisis, the Biden administration has pushed for new regulations. Lobbyists say Biden’s regulators push is driving a significant amount of their work.
MSN – Melissa Quinn (CBS News) | Published: 7/21/2023
The federal judge in Florida overseeing the Justice Department’s case against former President Trump over his alleged mishandling of sensitive government documents has set a date for his trial to begin in May 2024. The Justice Department had requested the trial start by mid-December of this year, but Trump’s legal team pushed back, arguing instead for the proceedings to begin after the 2024 presidential election. The May 20 date means the trial will take place toward the end of the Republican presidential primaries.
MSN – Sophia Nguyen (Washington Post) | Published: 7/22/2023
Less than a month before the Smithsonian’s Asian American Literature Festival was to begin, staffers prepared what they considered to be a routine memo discussing programs involving “potentially sensitive issues” they knew the host institution would want to be aware of in advance. Among the matters cited in the mem: a panel about book bans, and two events featuring queer, trans, and nonbinary writers. Hours later, the acting director of the Smithsonian Institution’s Asian Pacific American Center, Yao-Fen You, informed organizers she decided to cancel the entire festival because of “unforeseen circumstances.”
MSN – David Ovalle (Washington Post) | Published: 7/24/2023
The political maelstrom swirling around coronavirus vaccines may be to blame for a higher rate of excess deaths among registered Republicans in Ohio and Florida during the coronavirus pandemic. The new study underscores the partisan divide over coronavirus vaccines that have saved lives but continued to roil American politics even as the pandemic has waned. Yale University researchers found registered Republicans had a higher rate of excess deaths than Democrats in the months following when vaccines became available for all adults in April 2021.
Yahoo News – Charlie Mahtesian and Madi Alexander (Politico) | Published: 7/21/2023
In state after state, fast-growing, traditionally liberal counties with colleges are flexing their electoral muscles, generating higher turnout and ever greater Democratic margins. They have already played a pivotal role in turning several red states blue and they could play an equally decisive role in key swing states next year. Name the flagship university and the story tends to be the same. If the surrounding county was a reliable source of Democratic votes in the past, it is a landslide county now.
Yahoo News – Hailey Fuchs (Politico) | Published: 7/25/2023
Republican lobbyists on K Street are not rushing to back Donald Trump in his third run for the White House. But they are not rallying in full force behind an alternative either. While some lobbyists are doling out cash, others are fearful any type of public opposition to the former president could make them persona non grata in Washington should he get back to the White House.
From the States and Municipalities
MSN – Amanda Coletta (Washington Post) | Published: 7/22/2023
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is in a high-stakes showdown with Google and Meta, accusing them of unfairly profiting at the expense of Canadian news outlets and of using “bullying tactics” to intimidate officials. At issue Canada’s Online News Act, which aims to shore up a struggling media industry by requiring tech firms to compensate domestic news publishers for the content shared on their platforms.
National Public Radio – Jeff Amy and Kim Chandler (Associated Press) | Published: 7/21/2023
Alabama refused to create a second majority-Black congressional district, a move that could defy a recent order from the U.S. Supreme Court to give minority voters a greater voice and trigger a renewed battle over the state’s political map. State lawmakers faced a deadline to adopt new district lines after the Supreme Court in June upheld a three-judge panel’s finding that the current state map, with one majority-Black district out of seven in a state that is 27 percent Black, likely violates the Voting Rights Act.
Arizona Capitol Times – Howard Fischer (Arizona Capitol Services) | Published: 7/25/2023
Rebuffed in their bid to totally quash a voter-approved ban on “dark money,” two organizations involved in trying to influence Arizona politics are now trying to at least get themselves and their donors exempted from its provisions. In new legal filings, attorney Scott Freeman again argues Proposition 211 and its requirement for disclosure of the true source of campaign money violates state constitutional provisions guaranteeing free speech and privacy. Those claims, first filed last year, were rejected by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Scott McCoy.
MSN – Adam Elmahrek, Gabriel San Román, and Nathan Fenno (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 7/25/2023
The role of powerful business interests in Anaheim – home to Disneyland Resort and Angel Stadium – has come under renewed scrutiny amid an ongoing federal corruption investigation that became public last year. FBI affidavits detail strong alliances between city leaders and several unelected power brokers. Jordan Brandman provided an insider’s look at how Anaheim was run from when he became a city council member in 2012 to when he stepped down in disgrace two years ago. His account and records describe relationships that went deeper than the typical transactional ties that often bind lobbyists and government officials.
MSN – David Zahniser (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 7/21/2023
A federal judge sentenced a Los Angeles real estate developer to six years in prison for providing cash bribes to former city council member Jose Huizar, then attempting to hide the transaction from investigators. Dae Yong Lee was found guilty of giving $500,000 in bribes in exchange for the approval of a 20-story residential tower. He was also convicted of wire fraud and obstruction of justice.
California – Oakland’s Democracy Dollars Delayed, But Not Dead
Oaklandside – Eli Wolfe | Published: 7/26/2023
Oakland residents will not receive Democracy Dollars to spend in the 2024 general election due to the budget. But the program’s supporters are determined to see a successful launch in 2026. Democracy Dollar, an initiative to level the campaign finance playing field, was overwhelmingly approved by voters last November. The measure called for giving every registered voter $100 in vouchers they could use to support candidates for city council, mayor, and other city offices.
Yahoo News – Matt Hamilton (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 7/24/2023
Marilyn Flynn, the former dean of the University of Southern California’s (USC) social work program who admitted to bribing Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas in exchange for his help securing the renewal of a county contract, was sentenced to 18 months of home confinement. Flynn admitted she agreed to send $100,000 from USC to the United Ways of California, which was sponsoring a new nonprofit led by Ridley-Thomas’ son. The money from USC coincided with the donation of $100,000 to USC’s social work program from a political campaign associated with Mark Ridley-Thomas.
Colorado Politics – Marianne Goodland | Published: 7/22/2023
In 2016, the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission decided a complaint against Glendale Mayor Mike Dunafon warranted an investigation. Seven years later, Dunafon said he still does not know what he is being charged with. In the meantime, the Colorado Court of Appeals decided the commission’s efforts to assert jurisdiction over the city government in the Dunafon case had no basis in law. While it is unclear when the case might be resolved, the battle between the commission and the city and its mayor has so far cost Glendale taxpayers more than $2 million.
MSN – Kevin Sullivan and Lori Rozsa (Washington Post) | Published: 7/22/2023
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is intensifying his efforts to de-emphasize racism in his state’s public school curriculum by arguing some Black people benefited from being enslaved and defending the new African American history standards that civil rights leaders and scholars say misrepresents centuries of reality. “They’re probably going to show that some of the folks that eventually parlayed … being a blacksmith into doing things later in life,” DeSantis said while standing in front of a nearly all-White crowd of supporters.
MSN – Anthony Man (South Florida Sun-Sentinel) | Published: 7/18/2023
Among the thousands of fans who packed Fort Lauderdale’s professional soccer stadium recently were prominent elected officials, who were hosted in a secure VIP area, where some were able to talk with and get pictures with Inter Miami’s new superstar player, Lionel Messi, and team co-owner David Beckham. The presence of the elected officials raised questions about what they were doing at the event. One Fort Lauderdale commissioner said it was improper for his colleagues to attend.
Yahoo News – Grethel Aguila (Miami Herald) | Published: 7/26/2023
Sophia Lacayo, a failed Miami-Dade Commission candidate, spent more than a million dollars challenging one of the county’s longest-serving politicians last year. Now, prosecutors allege some of that money was mishandled. State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said the violations were “deliberate steps” to sidestep campaign finance laws.
MSN – John Wagner and Amy Wang (Washington Post) | Published: 7/26/2023
Rudy Giuliani, who served as a lawyer for former President Trump, is no longer contesting as a legal matter that he made false and defamatory statements about two former Georgia election workers – but argues in a new court filing what amounted to false claims about vote-rigging in the 2020 presidential election was constitutionally protected speech and did not damage the workers. The filing is the latest twist in a lawsuit brought by Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Shaye Moss, who counted ballots in Fulton County during the November 2020 election.
WTTW – Heather Cherone | Published: 7/25/2023
Inspector General Deborah Witzburg said her office’s decision to declare two high-profile Chicago politicians violated the city’s ethics laws should put elected officials on notice that she plans to step up efforts to hold rule breakers accountable. Witzburg vowed to pursue enforcement of Chicago’s ethics rules with “greater frequency and rigor than ever before – paying down the deficit of legitimacy at which the city operates by ensuring that people who break the rules are held accountable, regardless of their positions.”
Louisiana Illuminator – Michael Isaac Stein (Verite) | Published: 7/23/2023
Investigators hired by the New Orleans City Council last year to look into the now-abandoned “smart cities” project found evidence of potential contract-rigging, ethics violations, and perjury by city officials. The final product concluded that the consortium of businesses that was selected for the proposed contract, Smart+Connected NOLA, had an unfair advantage in the public bidding process, and undisclosed financial relationships compromised the integrity of the process.
MSN – Sean Cotter (Boston Globe) | Published: 7/25/2023
Boston City Councilor Tania Fernandes Anderson admitted to an ethics violation and agreed to pay a $5,000 fine for hiring and then giving raises to her sister and son. Fernandes Anderson said both of her family members were “amazing” employees who she would happily hire again if it were allowed.
MLive – Ben Orner | Published: 7/20/2023
The Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission cleared Commissioner Anthony Eid of any ethics violations after he left a position as deputy director of Michigan Voices, a nonprofit that had lobbied the commission. With questions of a conflict-of-interest dogging Eid, Commissioner Rebecca Szetela asked for a ruling regarding his employment. But at a recent meeting, Szetela’s item was pulled from the agenda after commission Chairperson Doug Clark announced Eid and Michigan Voices had mutually parted ways and the matter should be deleted from the agenda because it “has been taken care of.”
MSN – Torey Van Oot (Axios) | Published: 7/27/2023
Cryptocurrency contributions to state campaign committees are now explicitly allowed under a law that took effect recently in Minnesota. Under the new rules, campaigns must convert donations made via virtual currency to U.S. dollars within five days. The Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board asked legislators to address crypto to get ahead of any potential issues as digital currencies grow in popularity, Executive Director Jeff Sigurdson said.
Las Vegas Sun – Casey Harrison | Published: 7/25/2023
The Nevada Commission on Ethics voted to censure and fine Gov. Joe Lombardo $20,000 for using his Clark County Sheriff uniform and badge while running for governor in 2022 but declined to levy the proposed fine. Commission Executive Director Ross Armstrong said each of the 34 social media posts in question violated two provisions of state law, or 68 violations in total, which left Armstrong to recommend the commission order Lombardo to pay a record $1.67 million civil fine, be censured by the body, and be compelled to establish an ethics officer within the governor’s office.
New Jersey Monitor – Dana DiFilippo | Published: 7/26/2023
The state’s election watchdog dismissed almost half its active investigations into reported campaign finance violations after legislators passed a controversial new law critics warned would weaken enforcement. The New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) held its first meeting since its former commissioners resigned in protest over the new law, which Gov. Murphy signed in April. With four new commissioners appointed by Murphy recently, ELEC tossed 107 cases.
Yahoo News – Ashley Balcerzak (Bergen Record) | Published: 7/24/2023
Tony Teixeira, former chief of staff to the New Jersey Senate president, was sentenced to eight months of house arrest and three years of probation after pleading guilty to tax evasion and wire fraud. Teixeira admitted he conspired with political operative Sean Caddle to overcharge campaigns, PACs, and nonprofits for work done by Caddle’s consulting firms and split the proceeds. Kickbacks to Teixeira were concealed through cash and checks made out to Teixeira’s relatives.
Source New Mexico – Megan Gleason | Published: 7/24/2023
Lawmakers are gathering all over New Mexico to discuss priorities for the next legislative session. Much like the 2023 Legislature, some lobbyists still feel unsafe at these meetings around the state’s public servants. Very little has changed since the last session, despite calls for more safety and accountability measures for lawmakers. After a senator who has had allegations against him in the past for sexual misconduct presented all day long at an interim committee meeting, lobbyists are raising their voices again for change in the Legislature.
DNyuz – Karen Zraick (New York Times) | Published: 7/26/2023
A restaurateur who was a key witness in a public corruption investigation was sentenced to four years in prison, ending an episode that churned up allegations of endemic wrongdoing that stretched across New York City and one of its most populous suburban areas. Harendra Singh pleaded guilty to charges he bribed a former Nassau County executive, Edward Mangano. Singh also admitted trying to bribe former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, to get favorable treatment for a restaurant in Queens.
MSN – Jazper Lu (Raleigh News and Observer) | Published: 7/24/2023
In a recent interview, North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore defended his years-long relationship with a state official, noting the employee in question does not report to him. Moore also pointed out that rules allow legislators to date members of their own staff. This does not mean such conduct does not come under scrutiny, however.
Seattle Times – Annie Karni (New York Times) | Published: 7/22/2023
Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Pérez was elected to Congress last year as a Democrat and became one of only a small number of lawmakers in her party who periodically crosses over to vote with Republicans. Now, Gluesenkamp Pérez is one of the most vulnerable Democrats in Congress, and Dean’s Car Care – the family business named for her husband – has become the target of vicious online trolling from the left. Negative online reviews of the business excoriate her for siding with Republicans on a bill to repeal President Biden’s student loan relief initiative.
WPRI – Eli Sherman | Published: 7/25/2023
The Rhode Island Ethics Commission opened an investigation into whether Gov. Dan McKee violated state law when a lobbyist treated him to lunch at a high-end restaurant. The state Republican Party called into question a meal where statehouse lobbyist Jeff Britt and his clients – executives of Scout Ltd. – met with McKee and his fundraising chairperson, Jerry Sahagian. Britt said the meal cost $228, and he picked up the tab after Sahagian told him he “did not have the campaign credit card.”
Associated Press News – Jonathan Matisse and Travis Loller | Published: 7/21/2023
Tennessee has begun requiring felons who want their voting rights back to first get their full citizenship rights restored by a judge or show they were pardoned. Election officials say the step is required after a recent court ruling. But attorneys representing the state’s disenfranchised felons accuse officials of searching for ways to suppress Black voters.
Tennessee Lookout – Adam Friedman | Published: 7/26/2023
Amy Adams Strunk and her family own the Tennessee Titans of the National Football League. The family is wealthy by almost every standard except one – among sports owners. When they were almost two billion dollars shy of the cash needed for a new stadium in Nashville, the family turned to a strategy common for Tennessee businesses wanting help with a project. They hired a deep roster of lobbyists to convince lawmakers to raise taxes and fund their proposal with public dollars that those opposed to the stadium say could have been spent elsewhere.
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